RegTech Women Shares It’s Goals to Support Women in the Industry

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In February 2019, 70+ women came together to launch a new network that sought to connect women working within financial services, and specifically within the Regulatory Technology (RegTech) industry. Two years later, and with more than 500 active members joining their cause, RegTech Women have established themselves as a leading industry network that supports and enhances the vital role that women play in driving success in the industry.

RegTech Women previously announced the launch of a brand new membership model that will support the next stage of their growing network. The annual subscription includes several benefits, ranging from exclusive member-only events to career-enhancing workshops and specialist advisory groups.

RegTech Women’s 4 goals are to empower, collaborate, celebrate and improve. Here 4 of the organisation’s board members have shared their thoughts on these themes and the importance of supporting women in this industry.

Empower – Kate Makuen, co-founder and the Chief Marketing Officer of Startup2Exit Club

Kate Makuen, co-founder and the Chief Marketing Officer of Startup2Exit Club

“To feel empowered is the ability to articulate your ideas and perspectives with confidence. To be comfortable in one’s own skin, alone, is the first step. Affirming your capabilities and gifts, while acknowledging your areas for improvement, renders you stronger. Then, reach out to those around you: family, friends, colleagues and clients. Test your new-found confidence with them. Find your voice and project it, letting it reverberate across boundaries and time zones. Build your power. Use words to persuade, to transform, to enlighten, to motivate or simply to calm and reassure. Learn when to be silent, to listen rather than to speak.

“Sometimes being an observer who can offer dispassionate reflection is how you add value to a difficult situation. Embrace “kaizen”, the Japanese term for incremental improvement. You don’t have to boil the ocean. Little steps are better than no steps at all. Use your gifts to lift others.”

Collaborate – Sarah Sinclair, founder of Change Gap.

Sarah Sinclair, founder of Change Gap.

“With RegTech still being a relatively new market, and with regulatory and compliance burdens not showing signs of abating, the need for collaboration is greater than ever.

“The really exciting thing about RegTech is that its reach spans right across multiple industries and geographical boundaries.  The rapidly increasing myriad of RegTech solutions provide plenty of opportunities to learn and also contribute to the relevant forums and collaborations seeking to support and foster a culture of better RegTech Adoption.  Collaboration is more effective when there is diversity in its widest sense, and when each contributing party feels welcomed and valued.  RegTech Women is taking its role seriously in helping toward seeing a sustained increase in the number of women working in RegTech firms, and providing a safe and supportive space for them to learn, survive and thrive as they navigate this maturing marketplace.

“With all the excitement of a marketplace such as RegTech, it can be easy to forget the most important thing – which is that the purpose is to make regulation and compliance easier and better for firms, and ultimately the end-consumers for whom regulation exists to protect.  This is why collaboration is so key – together we need to create and nurture a healthy ecosystem, which promotes responsible and sustainable innovation.”

Celebrate – Bronwen Gray, Freelance Sales Consultant

Bronwen Gray, Freelance Sales Consultant

“RegTech Women was founded in 2019 as “despite there being many fabulous women working in RegTech, there was no community bringing them all together”. With women now accounting for up to 35% of the RegTech workforce, it is fair to celebrate wins both in this sector and in general with 30% Club in the UK having reached their extended target of women on boards.

“Furthermore the FCA’s female-heavy team of new appointments reflects the leadership roles now held internationally by women in economics and finance at the European Central Bank, EBRD and World Trade Organisation.  The IWD2021 theme of #choosetochallenge chimes so well with women’s voices in RegTech especially from those who started in a pre-millennial era and so are used to challenging and who also want to not only to celebrate but nurture and bolster emerging female talent. With our paid membership just successfully launched RegTech Women’s mentoring programme will be ramping up to give us more to celebrate in 2021!”

Improve – Lucy Heavens, Marketing Director, Wealth Dynamix, and Co-founder of RegTech Women

Lucy Heavens, Marketing Director, Wealth Dynamix, and Co-founder of RegTech Women

“One of the goals of RegTech Women is to improve and promote gender diversity in the RegTech industry. Female participation has grown over recent years with women now accounting for around 35% of the RegTech workforce. But for us, that’s not good enough and we continue to work hard for more equality. Gender diversity benefits all businesses because it provides a wider range of talent. Having a variety of skills and abilities in your business can make a big difference to revenue and productivity. Men and women see things differently and have different ideas which is a great environment for better problem-solving. These differences can also help increase innovation and creativity and help businesses to seize new opportunities and challenge gender stereotypes.

“It’s encouraging to see these changes, but I still think we’ve got quite a way to go, from to encouraging more young women into the RegTech industry, through to supporting women to move up the career ladder and take on more senior and C-level roles. Change doesn’t happen overnight. We all need to work together to encourage collaboration and lead initiatives that drive change – however big or small. Every time we share thoughts, tell stories, be a role model and inspire woman to speak out, go for that promotion and be heard, we break the cycle.”

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

https://thefintechtimes.com/regtech-women-launches-brand-new-membership/

Altus Digital on Open Banking: Taking Charge and Reducing Charges

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As UK Finance sets out its proposals to transition the Open Banking Implementation Entity into a service company model, Altus Digital Consultant Peter Stonham looks at how the Payment Initiation Services within the Open Banking framework can help to reduce friction in customer journeys, at the same time as benefitting the financial institutions offering these services.

Peter Stonham, Consultant, Altus Digital 

Friction in online journeys can be caused by many things, and Financial Services must tread a fine line between meeting regulatory requirements and adding complexity to those journeys. Using Open Banking is one way to significantly reduce this friction, whilst also reducing the charges that are associated with taking payments from customers. The service has been criticised by some as too immature for mainstream adoption, but the publication this month of detailed proposals for a new service company to support Open Banking addresses that charge head-on. Replacing the entity overseeing the implementation of Open Banking with a longer-term model shows Open Banking is taking its place as a mature industry technology.

Payment Initiation Services, part of PSD2, “[access] a user’s payment account to initiate the transfer of funds on the user’s behalf, with the user’s consent and authorisation“. This can be implemented within a mobile app or as part of another online journey. Payment Initiation Services can be used for a broad range of payment types, from single payments (instant or future-dated) to setting up standing orders and processing bulk or batch payments. Additionally, the same framework supports the confirmation of funds requests and more complex multi-step authorisation processes. This framework is a part of Open Banking, the definitions and standards of which are currently published and maintained by the Open Banking Implementation Entity with the aim to open up the communication layer between large entities to customers and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Imagine if a customer could make a payment into their ISA from within your app, just by selecting an amount and an account and confirming it with a fingerprint. You can show them the current balance of their account before they confirm, either through your own interface or their bank’s when confirming the payment. Imagine batching refunds to customers. Imagine the autonomy of pull-based recurring payment collections, with the shorter clearing times and reduced potential for chargeback or refund claims inherent in push payments. Imagine reducing your online card processing fees, whilst retaining the user within your application, thereby reducing the number of abandoned online journeys.

By offering these services to customers, providers can take ownership of the payments-in process. If you are providing a customer with an ISA for example, and you show them their current account balance (as an Account Information Service Provider – AISP), the next logical step is to own that payments-in process (as a Payment Initiation Service Provider – PISP). Rather than send the customer away to someone else’s site or app to make a transfer or force them to dig out their debit card, allow them to set the details of a transfer from within your app or website. This way, the only time they leave your process flow is on your direction, to authorise the payment at their other provider. Once authorised, they are returned to your site. Friction on the payment is reduced and the customer’s attention is retained within your app.

Integrating Payment Initiation Services into existing or future flows is achieved via open banking APIs. In most organisations with a mature API-based system architecture, adding Payment Initiation Services as a means to take payment should be a case of implementing a small new internal service to consume instructions internally and drive the Payment Initiation API interaction, and adding a suitable workflow to the User Interface to support this. Alternatively, a number of providers exist who will provide you with a simple API for use within your user-facing application, and handle the Payment Initiation API on your behalf.

With technology readily available and regulatory structures in place, firms will be able to move quickly to reduce cost and improve customer experiences. By 2025, direct debits and debit card payments could go the way of cheque payments – supported as legacy for only a few customers, with the hope of phasing them out as soon as possible to save time and cost. Reducing friction for customers benefits us all – as an industry and as customers. To see UK Finance continuing to support this framework and setting out its vision for an entity ‘at the heart of the Open Data and Payments market’ is cause for celebration indeed.

https://thefintechtimes.com/altus-digital-on-open-banking-taking-charge-and-reducing-charges/

Mana Search 2020 Salary Report Reveals Trends and Insights in Data Jobs

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A new 2020 salary report by Mana Search highlights the trends and changes within data jobs.

The report shows that data scientists, engineers and analytics professionals are in high demand. They enable organisations to extract valuable insights from data and apply them for substantial actionable solutions. As data analysis methodology grows in power, and the volume of data collected increases exponentially, the number and variety of roles in data science are also increasing significantly.

The Mana Search report reveals average data science salaries across the UK, as well as salary expectations for different data professionals. Findings include that overall, more than half of UK data jobs are located in London. Alongside London, there are concentrations of data roles in larger cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge. Outside of the big cities, companies – especially well-funded startups – are willing to pay above market price to attract talent. The number of job openings, however, is limited.

Mana Search found that in 2020 there has been a striking, if not entirely surprising, shift towards remote roles. However, the long-term adoption of remote work is yet to be seen, and London still remains the unquestioned centre of the UK data sector.

Data engineers have the highest average salary across all levels, followed closely by data scientists. Some Chief Data Officer and Lead Data Engineer roles offer salaries of up to £200,000. Data analyst positions, typically considered to be the entry-level for careers in data and analytics, pay much less on average than data scientist and data engineer jobs. London tops the list of high-paying locations, with a majority of £50,000+ and £100,000+ jobs based in the capital.

The report also examines in-demand skills across data science. In terms of required skills, Python, R and SQL are the three most popular programming languages for jobs in data.

Mana Search created the report by extracting thousands of job listings from leading job boards, and from many of their own job collections, which enabled them to collect and categorise the data into different subsets of data professions. They then divide the obtained data into many subgroups based on salary, locations, years of experience and skills required.

In terms of main job trends within the UK, London is still the preeminent region for data roles, characterised by the highest average salaries for these roles, reaching over £77,000. This is up from £66,000 per annum. London has not been challenged by another emergent location, but rather by a national trend towards remote work.

Permanent data jobs are still most often located in big cities, with Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford, Leeds and Liverpool accounting for between 1.7% and 5.5.% of all Data Roles.

You can view the full results of the 2020 salary report here.

  • Mimi is a Mana Search R&D Labs co-founder. She is a senior associate lecturer at Central Saint Martins in Innovation, and a PhD fellow at Imperial College London, Faculty of Engineering, she co-hosts The Fintech Times Searching for Mana podcast.

  • Lloyd is a London-born entrepreneur and headhunter. As CEO of Mana Search has successfully helped scale a number of unicorn technology scale-ups. Lloyd also hosts The Fintech Times Searching For Mana, a progressive podcast celebrating leaders and founders in the tech and finance space.

  • Matt is a Headhunter and Analytics Researcher at Mana Search, and when he’s not thinking about the future of banking, he’s either at the pub or dabbling in stand up (or both). He holds a BA degree from the University of Oxford.

https://thefintechtimes.com/mana-search-2020-salary-report-reveals-trends-and-insights-in-data-jobs/

Juni Partners With UK Regtech Platform Trunarrative

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Swedish Banking Platform Juni, chooses TruNarrative to provide onboarding and compliance technology. The Leeds-based RegTech will orchestrate business verification & financial crime prevention for the start-up Banking Platform.

TruNarrative will deliver Juni the latest compliance and onboarding technology, providing the capability to successfully onboard and monitor their individual and business clients.

Juni, the Swedish start-up, has built a new banking app and payments solution designed to act as a financial companion to entrepreneurs across e-commerce and digital marketing.

Juni offers its clients a Visa Platinum credit card with cashback on advertising spend, cash flow & liquidity management features, along with invoice and bank statement matching. The Juni interface provides a centralised overview of users’ bank accounts, external payment services, and advertising spend.

“Smooth onboarding and KYC processes are key to the customer experience for any digital banking platform. We’re very proud of partnering with TruNarrative that enables us to onboard customers in a customer friendly way” commented Samir El-Sabini, CEO & Co-Founder at Juni.

The TruNarrative RegTech platform will enable Juni to rapidly and compliantly bring their services to market. Their technology is trusted around the globe across a range of industries, including; banking, lending, eCommerce, and payment services for customer onboarding, robust compliance and financial crime prevention.

Juni went to market for a solution or solutions to facilitate low-friction multi-jurisdictional customer journeys whilst maintaining the highest levels of compliance and risk mitigation.

The Juni and TruNarrative partnership will deliver full access to the TruNarrative solution and its capabilities for; client onboarding, identity verification, Pep’s, sanctions, adverse media monitoring, and ongoing risk monitoring of individual and business customers.

TruNarrative will deliver checks and ongoing monitoring against corporate entities, their directors and associated third parties, giving Juni a single customer view when onboarding customers and making compliance decisions.

Within the TruNarrative interface, Juni will also have access to a full case management system for manual reviews and referrals, a natural language rule builder allowing for rapid strategy changes, and a comprehensive audit trail with instant recall of all data for regulatory purposes.

Edward Vaughan, Head of Banking at TruNarrative, shared his opinion on the new partnership “It’s great to work with new and innovative businesses. We look forward to helping Juni bring their services to market and providing their customers with a smooth onboarding experience.”

https://thefintechtimes.com/juni-partners-with-uk-regtech-platform-trunarrative/

Attest Research Finds New Regulation Preventing BNPL Debt Could Lead to Consumers Spending More

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Latest research from consumer research platform, Attest, shows that new regulations preventing Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) debt could lead to consumers spending more.

The Attest study, which interviewed 1,000 BNPL users in February 2021, reveals that almost 49% of UK citizens that have used a BNPL service in the past 12 months stated they would spend more using BNPL knowing that credit checks had taken place and with more transparency as to affordability.

Beyond spend intent, two-thirds of customers would feel more comfortable using a provider that verified affordability before purchase, suggesting trust may become the next battleground for BNPL companies. Amongst students, the importance of this affordability check increases, with three-quarters of them comforted by this process.

Protection for the consumer if something goes wrong has also emerged as an important driver of choice when selecting a specific provider of BNPL services, ranking fourth behind ease of use, pricing and availability.

“Although stricter controls initiated by regulators at first appeared to be a big blow to the BNPL industry, our research reveals they will in fact build trust and bring the burgeoning payment format into the mainstream,” said Jeremy King, CEO of Attest.  “This is good news for all players in this highly competitive space.

Currently, Klarna, Clearpay and PayPal Credit lead the industry by far in terms of market penetration, used by 63%, 46%, 39% of respondents respectively. Laybuy and OpenPay come in next at 10% each.

The research highlights that BNPL providers need to overcome concerns around credit score impacts and time taken to check affordability or risk losing customers.

70% of BNPL users worry that by allowing access to personal information for affordability checks to take place, their credit rating could be negatively impacted. 48% stated they felt uncomfortable with the idea of their personal information being accessed by a third party. This suggests that clear communications around the process are integral to onboarding customers.

Furthermore, as extra roadblocks are introduced for customers using BNPL, speed is going to be vital for discouraging drop off. When asked what the maximum acceptable wait time would be before making a first purchase, 59% stated no more than an hour and 37% said between 2 and 24 hours.

Zilch money is currently the only fully regulated provider in the UK, and their website states that credit checks and verifications can take up to 72 hours. Attest data suggests only 10% would be happy with this delay.

The desired transparency of the process and the speed of completion shows the urgency for credit agencies and BNPL providers to begin working together and building infrastructures to deliver on this, ensuring onboarding processes are quick and smooth.

Jeremy King continues, “If transparency and speed can all be achieved, BNPL can become an even more accessible, safe and economical longer-term alternative for customers beyond credit cards and personal loans. As regulation and consumer expectations evolve so quickly, BNPL providers need to listen to their audiences at this time, to make sure that any changes imposed off the back of the new regulations are genuinely favourable to the end consumer. As we can see in the data, this new regulation can be highly liberating for consumers while also building-in important new control and transparency, and that’s an exciting opportunity for BNPL leaders and attackers to be bigger and better businesses.”

Attest conducted this research in light of the recent Woolard Review from the Financial Conduct Authority, which stated a “significant potential for consumer harm” from the largely unregulated BNPL industry. The controversy surrounding the industry gained a spotlight earlier this year as concerns grew over the rise of BNPL during the pandemic, with consumers spending more than they can afford. These concerns are mirrored in the results of the Attest study.

35% stated that the service was so easy to access that they “didn’t think hard about affordability”, and 20% stated it felt like “free money”, rising to 23% amongst 18-24-year-olds.

As a result, 17% of those surveyed stated that their debt had crept up without them noticing, 17% had their credit score impacted and 13% are having difficulty repaying. Not surprisingly, younger age groups have been hit harder, with one in five BNPL users amongst Gen Z (18-24) consumers stating that their credit score has been impacted, and 17% struggling to meet repayments. Even more worryingly, 13% are having to borrow more money to pay off their BNPL debts.

Of course, the introduction of more robust credit checks is going to result in some users being blocked from using BNPL services. 53% expressed concern that they would be rejected for BNPL services if their affordability was checked.

https://thefintechtimes.com/attest-research-finds-new-regulation-preventing-bnpl-debt-could-lead-to-consumers-spending-more/

The P2P Meltdown Yields Valuable Lessons for Avoiding the Next Crisis

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Peer to peer (P2P) lending, like many other sectors, has suffered significantly during the Covid-19 crisis. Usually a way to facilitate loans to individuals or businesses via an online platform that matches the lender to the borrower, the pandemic has only amplified the risk to lenders that P2P can pose. 

Niels Pedersen is a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and the author of Financial Technology: Case Studies in Fintech Innovation. Here he shares his thoughts on how the P2P meltdown yields valuable lessons for avoiding the next crisis.

Niels Pedersen, Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University

About a year ago, peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders suffered a crisis of confidence. This triggered an investor run on the sector, causing some platforms to fold. For those that survived, there is now an opportunity to capture market share and increase resilience in the sector.

As the global economy went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, investors rushed to withdraw their funds from P2P platforms. No doubt, during this time, many recalled the long queues outside retail banks during the global financial crisis (‘GFC’) of 2007-09.

In response, several platforms froze investor withdrawals. This left many unable to access their cash, just when they needed it the most. For a sector that held itself out as an alternative to mainstream banking, this was a reputational disaster and unsurprisingly, several P2P brands did not survive the ‘COVID Crash’.

Going full circle

As the P2P sector came into its own in the aftermath of the GFC, it is ironic that its first crisis should be so similar. The 2008 meltdown was a liquidity crisis driven by investors cutting their exposure to mortgage-backed securities. In the spring of 2020, investors wanted out of P2P loans.

What’s more, the two crises have very similar roots: in each case, illiquid investments were distributed to yield-seeking investors. The apparent stability of returns gave investors a false sense of security. Illiquidity was not a problem until investors started worrying about default rates and wanted their money back.

A lesson learned

 As it turns out, investor fears were justified: according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, default rates on UK digital lending increased by 8% year-on-year in H1 of 2020. At the same time, default rates in North America and the Asia Pacific region increased by 13% and 15%, respectively.

For investors in equities and corporate bonds, such losses are commonplace. Indeed, many may welcome them as a buying opportunity. On the contrary, P2P investors perceive any nominal loss as a disaster.

This is because the P2P model was often marketed on the idea that bank-beating interest rates could be achieved without significant risk to investor capital. As a result, P2P platforms selected for customers who were not prepared to accept losses.

Damaging for some, a benefit for others

Furthermore, P2P investments were promoted as an alternative to savings accounts. This anchored consumer expectations in these products, leading many to assume that P2P investments had similar features, like stable capital values for instance.

As seen in the spring of 2020, any deviation from such expectations can be detrimental to user experiences and lead to untimely withdrawals. Consequently, the worst-hit P2P platforms had to wind down their businesses or close their doors to retail investors.

However, for P2P lenders still operating in the retail investment space, this has become an opportunity to capture market share. But, to avoid future crises, these platforms must become more resilient.

In this regard, we can learn from those that navigated 2020 relatively unscathed. Zopa, which was founded in 2005, is an exemplary case of this. Evidently, it learned a lesson about liquidity risk from the GFC, which many younger P2P lenders failed to do.

What Zopa got right

For starters, Zopa appears to have gotten its marketing right: its website states that investors’ money goes into loans with a maturity of up to five years. Alongside this, Zopa encourages investors to stay invested for at least three years.

The website also makes it clear that withdrawing funds before the underlying loans mature attracts a 1% fee. This discourages investors from taking out their money prematurely.

What’s more, the website informs investors that their capital is at risk. It stresses that better results are achieved by investing over time horizons of least three years. Thus, the company’s disclosures are similar to those of investment managers: these also emphasise the importance of patience and the potential for capital losses.

In this way, Zopa primes its customers to expect some setbacks. Its investment proposition selects for people with at least a medium-term investment horizon. This reduces the risk of untimely excess withdrawals.

Finally, the company makes its loan book publicly available. This allows investors to observe historical default rates. Such transparency reduces investor uncertainty and fundamentally, it was the uncertainty that precipitated the 2020 P2P crisis. Thus, platforms can reduce risk by publishing up-to-date information on their loan books.

Creating a more resilient future

However, even Zopa’s loan book disclosures are not perfect – it reports on a monthly basis when conceivably it could provide this data live via an API.

Investors in the P2P sector expect to see granular reporting regarding platforms’ financial performance. Such transparency would reduce uncertainty and increase trust in P2P platforms. This could make them more resilient in the face of future crises.

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-p2p-meltdown-yields-valuable-lessons-for-avoiding-the-next-crisis/

Meniga Enables Carbon Footprinting for Iceland’s Islandsbanki

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Interested in activism that’s truly “global” in its appeal? Then the news that Meniga has partnered with Íslandsbanki, one of the largest banks in Iceland, to launch its new green banking solution, Carbon Insight, should be music to your ears.

“With more and more people around the world growing anxious about the consequences of climate change, the need for solutions and initiatives that empower people to take action to help protect our planet has become a business imperative,” Meniga CEO and co-founder Georg Ludviksson said.

Carbon Insight enables users to estimate and track how their spending decision impacts the environment via their carbon footprint. This footprint is derived via the Meniga Carbon Index, which was developed by a team of data scientists who leveraged environment research into the carbon emissions of various products and services. Carbon Insight works by multiplying spending transaction amounts by a “carbon intensity value” to give the user a reasonable carbon footprint estimate. This information can be used to help inform the user to which activities are potentially more environmentally impactful.

“We have seen great enthusiasm for our Carbon Insight product over the past few months, from banks and other key financial players, which is an encouraging sign from our industry that more green initiatives are still to come,” Ludviksson said.

As part of the partnership with Meniga, Íslandsbanki has agreed to integrate Carbon Insight into its digital banking solution. The Icelandic bank sees the new offering as a way to increase customer engagement and build on its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy.

“Consumers are increasingly interested in improving their carbon footprint and having a positive impact on the environment,” Birna Einarsdóttir, Íslandsbanki CEO said. “Meniga’s Carbon Insight solution will enable Íslandsbanki’s customers to estimate the carbon footprint of their private consumption, identify carbon intensive purchases, and ultimately reduce their carbon footprint while saving money at the same time.”

Founded in 2009, Meniga most recently demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2019. Last fall, the company launched in the U.S. and, that summer, announced a $9.4 million fundraising that took the firm’s total funding to more than $43 million.


Photo by Tatiana from Pexels

https://finovate.com/meniga-enables-carbon-footprinting-for-icelands-islandsbanki/

PPP, Diversity, and the Power of Fintech Partnerships

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With Black History Month drawing to a close and Women’s History Month just underway, now is an excellent opportunity to look at some of the ways that fintechs and financial services companies are responding to the needs of women- and ethnic minority-owned small businesses and their employees.

This is a story about how three companies – a Canadian fintech and Finovate alum named Boss Insights, a diversity-focused neobank called Paybby, and one of the biggest African-American banks Carver Federal Savings Bank – came together to help struggling small business owners survive in a world made even more unequal by the global pandemic.

Can you tell us how the collaboration began?

Richard Muskus, SVP and CRO Carver Federal Savings Bank: The collaboration began as Carver was in the late stages of assessing and negotiating a technology solution for our PPP platform with a large well- known national firm and there was a great deal of urgency to have this platform in place to meet the upcoming government program launch.

Facing a delay in setting up an all-hands call to finalize planning, we were introduced to Boss Insights and Paybby who engaged Carver within hours and moved to demo and agreement within 48 hours. As impressed as we were with the tech, we were as equally impressed with the speed by which Carver was up and running.

Hassan Miah, founder and CEO, Paybby: When PPP came out, the first round, people of color were underrepresented. Either they didn’t know (about the program) or they had issues getting their data. We went around and looked at what platform would be the best that would help these communities do better in this next round.

We did a deep dive on multiple platforms, including Boss Insights’ platform, and we saw they they had an architecture and a product that would best serve the community we are focused on.

Why is it important for you to be involved in this round of the PPP?

Keren Moynihan, founder and CEO, Boss Insights: We were having meeting after meeting and reading article after article about the program and someone said to me at one point: “You’re a female founder. Can you tell me what you’re doing to help diverse and minority companies survive?”

When someone says something like that it resonates in your head and you just don’t stop thinking about it. In the first round of PPP only 14% of participants reported their demographic information. But in that 14%, 16% were female-owned companies and 18% visible minorities. If you look at that and compare it to the actual number of businesses run by females or by visible minorities there is a large difference. “Boss” in Boss Insights stands for “back office software systems” and insights on those. We are a data-driven company and so when you look at those numbers it’s clear that something had to be done.

Muskus: Serving the needs of our communities is foundational to the organization since 1948 and not only being involved, but being a leader in the PPP is representative of our mission.

What is gained when fintechs and neobanks and community banks collaborate?

Muskus: Partnering with firms such as a Boss Insights and Paybby allows small community banks such as Carver to provide customers with the highest quality of service and is incredibly important in our growth and impact in the market.

Miah: When we first got involved, Carver and some of banks we talked with told us that in the Black community many people don’t even have a bank account. We saw this as an opportunity to provide that account and then support them on their loan efforts.

Many of these small businesses are small Mom and Pop businesses, many of them work out of their back pockets: they use their regular personal checking account, make no distinction between their social security number and EIN, and those kinds of things. So we saw that they needed these services – and wanted them. There’s a lot of opportunity there.

Moynihan: The piece that has become much clearer to me is that we have been focusing so much to make sure that this technology works seamlessly, that it can get onboarded in one hour – meaning any lender who wants to support businesses and measure them on their merit, they’re one hour away from doing it.

You can sometimes get so into that rabbit hole that you forget about the reason you started to begin with. Business owners, they are people, with families and children, and what we want is to give them the ability to go to a lender and say: this is me, this is my package of information, please evaluate me. Don’t look at extraneous details – look at me and tell me if I am a good bet.

How will you measure success and what insights have you gained from the partnership?

Muskus: Our success is measured primarily by how successful our customers view Carver being. The successful delivery of our products and services leveraging these types of partnerships is representative of the choices we make in partnering to begin with.

Miah: Part of our goal is to bring data science to the community in a way that is usable. One reason we bought banking app Wicket is that it categorizes your spending. Our vision is you go from having a bank account where you just spend money and your account starts at $500 and it goes down to $50 to where you start saying, “hey I spent $100 on Starbucks . Did I really need to do that when I can’t even feed my family.” The idea is to marry the data with the use case, and now we have the technology and the know how to not just tell people “oh you ought to learn how to do better and think about managing (your finances)”, but the tools and technologies and everything are there and available.

Moynihan: When you’re a business and you’re asking for money from a bank, the first thing they do is they send you a laundry list of information they need to get from you. (But) if you have a connection to where they are collecting it, and it’s on the cloud, you can get it in real-time. So whether it’s accounting information for businesses that have made it that far, banking information for ones who are just starting out, or credit scores which will continue to get better, you can have access to the information in real time. The industry is called the “financial services industry”. (Now) lenders can focus on the services part of that, not on the data administration part. That’s what we’re all doing here together, that’s the real crux of the collaboration.


Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Boss Insights made its Finovate debut two years ago at FinovateFall. At the event, company founder and CEO Keren Moynihan demonstrated Boss Insights’ Smart Capital platform, which leverages data-driven insights to accelerate the lending process.

A public benefit challenger bank dedicated to bringing financial empowerment to African-American and Latino communities, Paybby offers a financial wellness and PFM app – Wicket – courtesy of its recent acquisition of the eponymous Overland Park, Kansas-based neobank. Wicket provides a Mastercard debit card and FDIC-insured savings and checking accounts, as well as early direct deposit and automatic savings solutions.

Founded in 1948, Carver Federal Savings Bank is one of the largest African-American banks in the U.S. Headquartered in Harlem, New York, the bank has been designated as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Treasury Department for its community-based banking operations. Carver Federal Savings Bank is committed to reinvesting 80 cents of every dollar deposited back into the African American community.


Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem from Pexels

https://finovate.com/ppp-diversity-and-the-power-of-fintech-partnerships/

Finastra: Corporate banks prioritize products that require automation

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/corp-bank/corporate-banks-prioritize-products-that-require-automation/
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Corporate banks are prioritizing online portals, real-time access and execution, and value-added services in a shift that will require investments in automation to achieve. Corporate banks are moving away from their traditional focus on relationship management to support for digital-based trends, according to a new report this week from Finastra “Beyond the traditional relationship model.” […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/corp-bank/corporate-banks-prioritize-products-that-require-automation/

Plaid jumps on income verification with new tool

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/lending/plaid-jumps-on-income-verification-with-new-tool/
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Plaid is the latest company to step into income verification services, in a move to tackle manual processes and speed underwriting for financial institutions. With Plaid Income, currently in beta, the data aggregator is aiming to make it easier for consumers to verify their income in order to secure loans, qualify for mortgages, rent apartments, […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/lending/plaid-jumps-on-income-verification-with-new-tool/

Plaid Releases Income Verification Tool

https://finovate.com/plaid-releases-income-verification-tool/
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Banking technology player Plaid announced Plaid Income this week, the company’s new income verification tool.

Income offers a secure and fast way to help consumers prove their salary in order to qualify for and secure loans, rent apartments, lease vehicles, and more. Lenders benefit from this data by being able to make better-informed risk decisions, issue pre-approvals or approvals faster, and allocate fewer resources to manually reviewing documents. 

Plaid places consumers in control of their own data by offering them the option to choose whether to share their data. With Income, they can opt to share their salary information by connecting to their employer account, payroll provider account, or by verifying their salary using documents such as paystubs, W2s, and some 1099s.

To help users connect directly with their payroll provider, Plaid supports real-time payroll authentication for over 250,000 of the largest employers in the U.S. The company is also developing credential-less authentication capabilities with leading payroll providers, including ADP.

The new Income tool is part of the Plaid for Payroll suite, which also includes the company’s Deposit Switch offering launched earlier this year.

Plaid’s income verification tool is similar to an offering from its competitor Finicity, which launched its Verification of Income and Employment solution in 2019. Among Finicity’s clients are Freddie Mac, Quicken Loans, and Experian.

Interestingly, Finicity was acquired by Mastercard late last year, just days after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block Visa’s ability to acquire innovative fintech.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

https://finovate.com/plaid-releases-income-verification-tool/

FinovateEurope Digital 2021 Sneak Peek: CoCoNet

https://finovate.com/finovateeurope-digital-2021-sneak-peek-coconet/
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A look at the companies demoing at FinovateEurope Digital on March 23 through 25, 2021. Register today and save your spot.

CoCoNet is an expert in white labeled corporate banking solutions for banks like ING, KBC, LBBW, and UniCredit. Their newest solution dramatically improves the onboarding process for corporates.

Features

  • Save time
  • Reduce cost
  • Gain flexibility

Why it’s great
Quickboarding for a bank’s corporate customers is now possible. CoCoNet can reduce the duration from several months down to a few days.

Presenter

Dennis Rochel, Head of Innovations
Rochel is the Head of Innovations at CoCoNet and has a Master of Science at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany.
LinkedIn

https://finovate.com/finovateeurope-digital-2021-sneak-peek-coconet/

FinovateEurope Digital 2021 Sneak Peek: Evolution AI

https://finovate.com/finovateeurope-digital-2021-sneak-peek-evolution-ai/
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A look at the companies demoing at FinovateEurope Digital on March 23 through 25, 2021. Register today and save your spot.

Evolution AI has re-built data extraction technology from the ground up. The company’s proprietary deep-learning models weave together text, graphics, and meaning to extract data from documents – just like humans do.

Features

  • Data extraction from any type of document – no templates needed
  • Self-learning AI
  • End-to-end platform for data extraction, annotation, quality assurance, and monitoring dashboards

Why it’s great
Evolution AI offers intelligent data extraction from financial and corporate documents.

Presenters

Martin Goodson, CEO & Chief Scientist
Goodson is Chief Scientist and CEO of Evolution AI. He is also the Chair of the Royal Statistical Society Data Science Section and runs the largest ML community in Europe, London Machine Learning Meetup.
LinkedIn

Rafal Kwasny, CTO
Kwasny is CTO of Evolution AI and has over 10 years of experience in enterprise IT. He is an expert systems thinker with unrivaled knowledge of big data technologies.
LinkedIn

https://finovate.com/finovateeurope-digital-2021-sneak-peek-evolution-ai/

FinovateEurope Digital 2021 Sneak Peek: iProov

https://finovate.com/finovateeurope-digital-2021-sneak-peek-iproov/
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A look at the companies demoing at FinovateEurope Digital on March 23 through 25, 2021. Register today and save your spot.

iProov’s Flexible Authentication provides banks with a single biometric solution for high and low risk profile transactions throughout the customer journey to protect from fraud.

Features

  • Banks protect against fraud
  • Banks maximize cost-effectiveness by only paying for appropriate security
  • Users enjoy optimized experience with the right reassurance for any transaction

Why it’s great
Flexible Authentication replaces the need for financial institutions to choose between high or low security biometric authentication for their customers with its adaptable user experience.

Presenter

Andrew Bud, CEO & Founder
Andrew Bud, CBE FREng, is a serial entrepreneur who has built innovative global businesses in the mobile and biometrics sectors and founded iProov in 2011.
LinkedIn

https://finovate.com/finovateeurope-digital-2021-sneak-peek-iproov/

Fintech News Issue #305

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https://www.fintechweekly.com/fintech-news/fintech-news-issue-305

Cardlytics to Acquire Cashback Platform Dosh for $275 Million

https://thefintechtimes.com/cardlytics-to-acquire-market-leading-cashback-platform-dosh-for-275-million/
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As consumers have looked beyond credit rewards as an incentive to guide specific purchases, Dosh the Cashback platform designed to ‘positively impact people’s lives by moving billions of dollars to millions of people,’ answered the call.

Cardlytics announced today its planned acquisition of Dosh for $275 million in cash and stock. Founded in 2016 by Ryan Wuerch, the company grew quickly. Dosh is best known for creating a consumer app that provides cashback for millions of consumers from thousands of merchants. The Dosh app delivers an individualized consumer experience, providing the right offer to the right person at the right time, which has resulted in year-over-year growth in new brands leveraging its advertising platform to drive sales.

In the past year, Dosh expanded its product offering by enabling financial institutions, neo-banks, and fintech companies – like Venmo, Betterment, and Ellevest – to rapidly deploy its platform in their own digital channels to remain top of wallet with customers.

“Dosh’s technology is extremely complementary to the long-term financial institution integrations and substantial scale we’ve built over the past 13 years. With the addition of Dosh, Cardlytics will accelerate its ongoing efforts to improve the advertising industry through our brand-safe alternative, which provides superior returns based on actual purchases. This creates real value for consumers, advertisers, and our bank partners,” says Lynne Laube, CEO, and co-founder of Cardlytics. “I look forward to welcoming Dosh to the Cardlytics team and anticipate a smooth transition as we collectively advance our shared vision for the industry.”

With the scale of the Cardlytics’ advertising platform, an audience of more than 163 million monthly active users – alongside Dosh’s innovation, the companies will give advertisers the ability to engage with consumers through some of the largest financial institutions most notable neo-banks and fintech companies in the world.

Cardlytics aims to help marketers win new customers and drive loyalty. To date, the company has provided more than $500 million in cashback to consumers while also driving measurable results for its advertisers across a variety of industries, including retail, restaurant, telecommunications, direct to consumer, grocery, and travel.

“Dosh is focused on delivering an engaging cashback experience for consumers on behalf of advertisers and fintech partners,” says Ryan Wuerch, CEO and co-founder of Dosh. “Combining our technology with Cardlytics’ scale, we have an opportunity to drive significant revenue for our advertisers while putting money back in the wallets of consumers. We are excited to join the Cardlytics team and are looking forward to positively impacting consumers and merchants.”

Wuerch, a two-time Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner, has a track record of taking companies from an idea through successful exits realizing a market value of over $1 billion. This is his third exit. Before Dosh, Weursch was the founder and CEO of Solavei, a social commerce network that ASPIDER acquired in 2015, and the founder and CEO of mobile software company Motricity, a company that he took public in 2010.

The transaction is expected to close in Q1, 2021. Bank of America Securities is acting as financial advisor and Cooley LLP as legal advisor to Cardlytics.

  • Managing Editor, North America at The Fintech Times

https://thefintechtimes.com/cardlytics-to-acquire-market-leading-cashback-platform-dosh-for-275-million/

Application Abandonment: A Challenge in Digital Banking

https://gomedici.com/application-abandonment-a-challenge-in-digital-banking
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What Causes Application Abandonment?

Digital onboarding abandonment is a serious hurdle faced by banks in registering new customers through online channels. According to a recent study by Signicat, the percentage of European consumers who abandoned a digital banking application surged from 38% in 2019 to 63% in 2020. 

As digital onboarding is the first step in establishing a relationship with a new customer, banks cannot afford a sub-optimal customer experience. One of the major reasons for application abandonment is the time taken to complete an online application. According to a study conducted by Built for Mars on online account opening in banks in the UK, it takes anywhere between 70 and 120 clicks to open an online account in a traditional bank. A Signicat report cites ‘the amount of personal information requested for’ and ‘the time taken to fill forms’ as the two top reasons for application abandonment.

Lack of automation leads to cumbersome manual data entry and higher data entry errors, ultimately delaying the onboarding time. Such an experience is counterintuitive for today’s digital-savvy consumer who expects customer experiences to be on par with those of popular e-commerce and social media apps. 

Another primary reason for application abandonment is inadequate identity verification processes. During the onboarding process, banks require customers to provide their legal identifiers. Banks match these identifiers with supporting documents to comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. Inaccurate data and inconsistency across data sources (both public and private) prompt banks to conduct manual reviews to ensure compliance and protection against fraudulent registrations caused by identity takeover. 

Identity Pre-Fill Is the Solution

Banks can improve the velocity and efficiency of digital onboarding by simplifying the onboarding experience. Besides ensuring superior customer experience, they must thoroughly mitigate identity takeover risks. Banks can strike a balance between the onboarding experience and minimizing identity takeover by following these principles:

  1. Reduce the number of forms and fields
  2. Pre-fill identity information: Fetching PII data (with prior approval from the customer) from trusted sources to pre-fill onboarding forms will reduce manual errors, speed up the process, and eliminate the need for manual reviews.
  3. Use phone-centric intelligence to verify identity: Verified and trusted phone data is one of the most dependable information sources about a consumer.

Legacy data sources provide static data. Due to the stale nature of data, fraudsters often use it to create synthetic identities. Modern platforms for data sourcing have replaced national identity numbers with a better identifier—a consumer’s phone number. The utility of a user’s phone number and its linkage to several other authoritative data sources has made it a vital key in resolving trusted PII data. One specific case of a Tier 1 issuer pre-filling identity data based on phone intelligence was shown to deliver the following benefits*:

  1. 15% increase in sign-ups (on average)
  2. 80% reduction in the number of keystrokes in online onboarding
  3. $200 Mn increase in annual revenue

Identity verification and authentication based on phone-centric identity instantly eliminate fraud such as SIM swaps, burner phones, and synthetic identities. Forward-thinking banks and other financial institutions have been adopting the ‘PRO’ model of identity authentication and verification based on the following three checks to align with NIST SP 800-63 identity guidelines:

  • Possession: Passively prove possession of the phone
  • Reputation: Assess the real-time reputation of the phone (tenure and behavior)
  • Ownership: Prove ownership of the phone line

Pre-fill solutions that employ the PRO methodology can eliminate synthetic identity fraud.

COVID-19 Pandemic Has Accelerated Digital Adoption

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the move to digital across industries, including financial services. According to a study by J.D. Power, 30% of the surveyed consumers increased the use of mobile banking apps, and 35% are using online banking more than they did in pre-COVID-19 times. Increasing digital activities in the financial services domain are compelling banks to combat application abandonment and reduce identity fraud. A well-implemented onboarding solution that leverages the identity pre-fill technology delivers benefits such as higher pass rates, better straight-through processing (STP), and fewer identity fraud cases.

*Based on actual results from Tier 1 financial institutions that use identity pre-fill.

This article is a synopsis of a full-length article originally published by Prove.

https://gomedici.com/application-abandonment-a-challenge-in-digital-banking

Women in Fintech: Kim Snyder on Personalization and Data as an Enterprise-Wide Asset

https://finovate.com/women-in-fintech-kim-snyder-on-personalization-and-data-as-an-enterprise-wide-asset/
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With International Womens’ Day just around the corner, we continue our #WomeninFintech series and speak with Kim Snyder, CEO & Founder, KlariVis about her journey through fintech and advice to the next generation of women coming through.

Tell us about yourself and your career path to your current role.

Snyder: Personally, I am a very family-oriented person and prior to the Pandemic we had started some new traditions, like “Sunday Brunch-day”; it truly is my favorite thing to do and I cannot wait until we are able to restart those activities!

My career path to KlariVis is probably not what you would expect.  I started my career with KPMG and then moved into an accounting/finance role for a small private liberal arts college. My next step was where the entrepreneurial bug hit me: I joined a local start-up company focused on creating new innovations in a variety of industries and it was here I saw what it was like to build something from scratch and it was invigorating, exciting and scary all at the same time. I then spent 10 years at a community bank, and it was my passion for this industry that fueled my drive to take the chance and start my own consulting business. During those course of 4+ years, I hired many previous team members to help me build a premier, boutique consulting firm focused on helping community banks solve the prevalent issues they are faced with in this rapidly changing industry. 

The one challenge that resonated more than any other, though, is the data conundrum that exists in the banking industry.  Regardless of size, core system, talent level or management team experience, our clients were paralyzed with the mass volume of data generated by the various siloed processing systems and the bank’s inability to access that data in an efficient manner, thus making it virtually useless to the institution. We knew that there had to be a better way and thus the idea of KlariVis was born. We spent about a year incubating our solution and our consulting clients became our focus group – by the end of that year, they were using phrases like “game-changer” related to our solution.  So, I started a second company in February 2019 and hired a technology firm to take our proof of concept and turn it into reality.  We launched KlariVis in January 2020 and the response was incredible from our prospect banks. We issued a press release last week – FVCBank has now invested in KlariVis due to the value and impact our platform is having on their bank.  I’m not sure what better testament there can be than for a client to say, I want to be more than a client, I want to invest in your success and become your long-term strategic partner.   

There seems to be a big push towards knowing your customer and providing a personalized and exceptional service in recent years. How should banks go about this?

Snyder: Community banks are known for their exceptional customer service – they typically have a very loyal customer base who value the personal touch.  The PPP program highlighted this very fact – it was the community banks who stepped up and were the heroes by helping the small businesses in their communities.

How do they take that exceptional customer service and turn it into a more personalized experience? I believe it all starts with treating data as an enterprise-wide asset – making sure it is in the hands of the relationship managers who interact with and serve bank customers every day.  The banking customer is communicating to its bank every day through transactions, whether they be transacted in person or digitally. 

Unfortunately banks and credit unions are hampered by the numerous disparate systems that exist in the banking ecosystem, most of all which have critical data points about their customer base. As such, they have no choice but to leverage solution providers to enable them to aggregate this information, cut out the noise and focus on the high-value actionable data points that will allow them to offer that more personalized touch. 

Allowing easy and efficient access to customer data at the front-line is paramount to improving and personalizing the customer experience.

Are there other trends you see driving innovation within banking/ fintech?

Snyder: Digital transformation is the primary focus for financial institutions of all sizes and I don’t see that changing for quite some time.  We’ve been talking in the industry for years about this wave coming, and due to the Pandemic, it’s here.  In a recent survey by the Digital Banking Report, the top three strategic priorities for 2021 were consistent for big and small institutions:  1) improve digital experience for consumers; 2) enhance data and analytic capabilities; and 3) reduce operating costs. 

Fortunately for KlariVis, we hit 2 of the top 3 strategic priorities – enhancing data and analytic capabilities and reducing operating costs. Our solution accomplishes both and enables financial institutions to improve the overall customer experience.

What is important to you as a leader of a fintech? Does KlariVis have any initiatives that support diversity/ women in fintech?

Snyder: I strive to build a diverse and talented team. KlariVis was born out of an identified need in the banking industry but it was conceptualized through creativity and innovation.   Diversity provides our team with expanded creativity stemming from different perspectives based upon life and work experiences.  Absent of diversity of thought, skills and unique perspectives, our concept would not be what it is today. 

My goal is to hire the best talent for the Company’s open positions, but as a female leader, I am passionate about ensuring that opportunities for women continue to grow in fintech and would like to see the same trend at KlariVis.  Many tech industry roles are often filled by men.  At KlariVis we have three females at the C-Suite level and each of us is equally passionate about hiring, promoting, and compensating talented deserving women.  We would like to see more female applicants for technical positions particularly software engineers and have recently begun participation with a university’s internship program which may yield diverse candidates for future open positions. 

What advice would you give to women looking to begin a career in banking/fintech?

Snyder: For women looking to begin a career in banking, fintech or another field, it is critical to learn the industry. Evaluating positions typical to the industry and matching that with individual skills, likes and dislikes is key to finding a position that is a good match. Passion is critical particularly in the rapidly growing fintech arena.   

In addition to pursing an applicable degree and identifying a mentor, take the time to listen and learn from that person who can provide a frame of reference that you would not have otherwise. There are many different aspects of banking and financial technology is moving quickly with new innovations. Banks are trying to keep up with the latest and greatest technology advancements as well as their competitors with the goal of enhancing the customer experience. I recommend that anyone with an interest in banking or fintech read everything they can to stay current with the industry. 


Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

https://finovate.com/women-in-fintech-kim-snyder-on-personalization-and-data-as-an-enterprise-wide-asset/

Behind the Idea: ClearBank

https://thefintechtimes.com/behind-the-idea-clearbank/
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ClearBank is the UK’s first new clearing bank in 250 years. Through its banking license and cloud-native technology, ClearBank is transforming the way payments move between financial institutions, fintechs and other financial service providers, enabling its partners to offer real-time payments and next-generation banking services to their customers.

Charles McManus, CEO of ClearBank

Charles McManus, ClearBank’s CEO, has over 30 years’ experience in global investment banking, wealth management and retail banking. At ClearBank, Charles leads a team of over 250 people – primarily developers – and sets the strategic direction for the bank. Under Charles’ leadership, ClearBank has struck deals with major banks like JPMorgan and market-leading fintechs like Tide. In partnership with the latter, ClearBank won £85m from the RBS Alternatives Remedies Package to improve banking for SMEs. To date, the partnership has delivered digital banking services to 230,000 customers (2 in 40 UK SMEs).

What has been ClearBank’s response to financial technology innovations in the UK?

Fintech was born from a deep-rooted desire to create an alternative to the then-broken financial services industry. ClearBank itself is a response to financial technology innovations in the UK, representing the first new clearing bank in 250 years. As such, innovation and ‘doing things differently’ is at the heart of every product and service that we take to market. From its inception, our business was built to provide our clients with the tools to break the traditional financial services mould, and lay the foundation for the next wave of fintech innovation.

How has this changed over the past few years?

The biggest change is the pace of change. It is unrelenting. Let us look at last year alone. The pandemic saw ten years of digital transformation progress happen in ten months. There is a digital arms race with the pace being set by high growth fintechs and increasingly non-traditional financial service providers. And this race has been accelerated by Covid-19.

Like the Red Queen’s Race in Lewis Carroll‘s Through the Looking-Glass, even if you’re running hard at digital transformation, so is everyone else. So, in reality you’re staying still. You need to run twice as hard as your peers to get ahead.

And traditional financial institutions are starting to respond. In the seven months that followed the first lockdown (March – September 2020), ClearBank received a healthy 147 new enquiries from institutions. The majority of these institutions were incumbents rather than fintechs, who were looking to quickly overcome legacy issues and bolster digital channels as the Covid crisis worsened.

Those which didn’t have digital channels were forced to close branches, their call centres were overwhelmed and simply weren’t equipped to manage demand effectively at all.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

From the outset we have encouraged innovation and transparency as intrinsic behaviours for the business -embedded from top to bottom. In addition, we’ve focused on sourcing talent from outside the financial services industry, especially in our technology teams to ensure diversity of thought. Embedding mechanisms like surveys and all-hands meetings provides regular forums for sharing ideas and knowledge, this ensures we maintain a true focus on changing customer needs and consistently servicing the customer.

This may sound trite but, in a bank, the customer does not always come first. The danger many financial services organisations face is that with all the governance, the regulation and the compliance, it becomes a luxury to focus on the customer.

I’ve spent years creating a culture where it is customer first, solutions first—and everything else comes into play to support that.

What fintech ideas have been implemented?

We believe that a cloud-native, API-first and Open Banking infrastructure is essential to breaking down the barriers to accessing and delivering financial services to boost innovation and competition, and ultimately, create a fairer playing field.

The best manifestation of these ideas in practice is our partnership with Tide. In the last two years, Tide and ClearBank were granted £85 million in two tranches from the RBS Alternatives Remedies Package to help UK SMEs turn recovery from the coronavirus crisis into a growth opportunity as well as challenge the oligopoly that currently dominates the SME banking market. By providing SMEs in the UK with the option of a dedicated and focused banking partner that will help them grow their business, we’re hoping to fortify and grow UK Plc.

What benefits have these brought?

So far:

  • Tide, powered by ClearBank’s infrastructure, is now the second-largest business banking challenger having acquired over 230,000 customers (2 in 40 UK SMEs).
  • While most businesses take one to four weeks to open an account, the average time with CTBB is just two minutes on average.
  • Through the seamless integration of tools via a digital-first business account, CTBB customers are seeing a reduction of approximately 48 days per annum on administration.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

Fintech was born from the 2008 financial crisis and has since become an engine room of growth for the UK, creating new business opportunities and transforming the UK’s established financial institutions along the way. The strength of the UK’s fintech sector not only attracts investment, creating jobs and wealth, but makes the UK more resilient.

Fintech has grown to serve millions of customers and handle hundreds of millions of transactions. It has become part of the fabric of financial services. In 2020, that scale coupled with recent scandals and the pandemic revealed gaps in governance and compliance that could threaten the sector’s reputation.

The industry is facing big, short term economic challenges, mainly due to the recession caused by the global pandemic. The combination of mass unemployment, Brexit and prevailing economic headwinds naturally means some fintechs are struggling. Today, there is much greater pressure on fintechs to prove their ability to turn a profit. Investors are looking for unit economics over pure growth, moving away from permanent loss-making companies. Thankfully, ClearBank is a fintech with a clear pathway to profitability, and we are confident we can get there.

Can these challenges be aided by fintech?

As fintech comes of age in 2021, the industry and its regulators need to work hand in hand to ensure regulation can move at the speed of technology and fortify not just fintech’s future but UK Plc’s too.

Banks and fintechs have never been under more pressure to demonstrate that the new technologies and business models aren’t just effective at improving the customer experience, they can improve operational resilience and financial protection as well.

Innovate Finance’s fintech review should underpin the future growth and prosperity of the sector across the UK, and could be what’s needed to help move the needle where necessary.

Final thoughts

2020 was a landmark year for the industry. The pandemic has propelled us forward, pushing established players to transform and applying regulatory pressures to newer entrants who are now reaching maturity. But fintech is at a crossroads.

The same measures that were introduced to create market competition are lowering the barriers to entry to become a financial services provider. The market must strike a balance where innovation helps us take steps forward while still ensuring customer protection remains paramount.

It is critical that we all strive to maintain this balance, and ensure the long-term future of our industry that promises to do so much, for so many.

 

  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

https://thefintechtimes.com/behind-the-idea-clearbank/