We Want More Open Banking Education, Say Financial Firms In UK And Netherlands


Yolt Technology Services has urged the financial services industry to do more together to help the growth of open banking, as research shows almost a half of financial services businesses need assurance from regulators on data security.

A survey of 800 senior professionals from banks, lenders, personal finance management tools (PFMs) and retailers in the UK and Netherlands found that 42 per cent of financial services businesses want better support and guidance on data security in relation to open banking.

And, they want this support to come primarily from regulators, the study by open banking provider Yolt Technology Services (YTS) revealed. The current general regulatory environment was perceived by almost one in five respondents (17 per cent) as the greatest risk to widespread adoption of open banking.

YTS has called on regulators, financial services institutions and businesses to unite in an effort to lead the way in educating, training, and supporting businesses to overcome misperceptions in order to unleash the power of open banking and create greater opportunities for both consumers and businesses.

A lack of customer and business willingness to accept risks around data security was among the most cited factors threatening the uptake of open banking adoption. More than a third of respondents also believe that an ‘unfriendly’ regulatory environment is threatening the progress of widespread open banking adoption.

Other factors holding back growth include a ‘wait and see’ approach that allows more time for open banking technology to develop.

Roderick Simons, chief technology officer at Yolt Technology Services, said: “To fully maximise open banking’s potential, we must all do more to educate businesses and consumers about its security foundation. Open banking means their financial data is more protected than ever, with the individual in charge of whether their data is shared or not and secure APIs preventing risks from unwanted third-party access.

“It is clear that more work needs to be done to foster an environment where businesses fully understand what open banking offers and feel confident in their knowledge of what it achieves, and this responsibility lies primarily with open banking providers, in partnership with regulators. Indeed, better education and support, coupled with guidance on how the data is safeguarded and stored, both with regulators and other players, could help to improve the regulatory environment by minimising the impact of data security concerns on adoption rates.”

Earlier this month, Yolt Technology Services was granted a PSD2 licence from the FCA.


UK Motorists Accelerate Towards Fixter’s Digitally-Led Car Service


Fixter, the UK-based online car maintenance service provider, is seeking additional investors to fund further growth as it looks to more than double its revenues every year over the next five years.

The digitally-led online car service, which offers a contactless collection and drop-off service, saw its net revenues up 200 per cent year-on-year.

According to the AXA-backed company, the UK automotive service, maintenance and repair market is worth £13billion per year. It says organising the maintenance of your car should be as easy as ordering a takeaway from your favourite restaurant.

Fixter’s tech-led approach allows car owners to book MOTs, servicing and repairs, as well as get an instant quote, using a laptop or smartphone. During the pandemic, it has also offered a door-to-door contact-free service, with 30-minute time slots for delivery and collection and live text updates.

Limvirak Chea, founder and CEO of Fixter, said: “The pandemic has changed the way in which people rely on their cars as a Covid-secure safe space. As a result, we have seen a huge increase in demand for our service.

“At Fixter, our contact-free, door-to-door service enables car owners to not just keep their car in good working order, but crucially, to protect themselves and those they care about by not making unnecessary journeys. The fact that we can also save people time, money and worry  in these uncertain times is what is driving us forwards on our mission to keep Britain moving.”

Fixter launched in Manchester in 2017 and now has 500 independent garages in its UK network. It is hoping for additional investors to fund its continued growth, including expansion into Europe, as it looks to double its revenues every year over the next five years.


Digital Assets: Becoming Regulation Aware for 2021


It should not be breaking news to anyone that the digital asset market is developing rapidly. With crypto-assets becoming ever more commonplace, opportunity derived from crypto assets has never been more significant, and this is reflected in the demand of consumers, and firms looking to provide digital asset products.

Karan Kapoor

Karan Kapoor

Karan Kapoor, Delta Capital

According to Karan Kapoor, Head of Regulatory Solutions and RegTech at Delta Capita, a leading global managed services, technology solutions and consulting provider, the key to successfully harnessing growth in the digital asset industry is through adopting regulation early on.

Institutional investors now beginning to enter the market will only cause the growth momentum to accelerate. The likes of J.P. MorganStandard Chartered and Northern Trust, to name a few, have all made bold moves to enter and capitalise on this growing market.

The retail utilisation of crypto assets, too, has seen a stark increase in popularity. The number of accounts opened at crypto exchanges was estimated to have hit 191 million, consisting of 101 million unique users, in the second half of 2020. Consumers no longer see digital assets as just a “hype”.

The Increasing Emphasis on Regulation
As digital assets become ever more entrenched in global financial markets, regulators are increasing
their focus. More robust digital asset regulations are expected to be launched in the near future, as
regulators look to maintain market trust, fairness and transparency to support the rapid growth the
digital assets industry is experiencing.

Each country is in the process of firming up its regulatory response to support the vast demand for
digital assets.

Currently, the FCA only holds security and e-money tokens under its regulatory perimeter. However, further global developments include the EUs plans to implement the new Markets in Crypto Assets (“MiCA”) regulation by 2024, poised to be a game-changing regulation having operational impacts across the entire European digital assets industry’s value chain. Its framework provides legal certainty for crypto assets not currently covered by existing EU legislation and establishing uniform rules across the EU for service providers and issuers.

AML Requirements for the Crypto Asset Industry – The Global Common Denominator
There remains relative uncertainty around the global digital asset regulatory landscape, as it continues to evolve swiftly. However, one common denominator is bringing all market players to the table – the requirement to abide by the AML Regulations.

As of January 2020, Crypto assets wallets and providers are now considered regulated entities under the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 and subject to AML rules and regulations and is being implemented in the UK via the FCA Cryptoasset Registration process.

The introduction of AML regulations has not negatively impacted the industry, as evidenced by the continual growth of the crypto asset sector, despite the initial feedback expressed by providers fearful of client reaction to collecting additional personal information.

Instead, it presents the blueprint for a successful approach to riding the wave of the crypto-asset industry’s expansions; ensuring that your firm remains on-top of the regulatory changes on the horizon.

  • 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.


Investment In Fintech More Than Doubles Despite Pandemic: KPMG Report


Global fintech investments more than doubled between the first and second halves of 2020 and are expected to remain robust well into 2021. Payments and e-commerce platforms were particularly hot areas of investment, a KPMG report reveals.

According to KPMG’s latest Pulse of Fintech report, fintech investments rose from $33.4billion in the first half of 2020 to $71.9billion in the second six months of the year. In total, there were 2,861 fintech funding deals in 2020, worth a total of $105billion.

Despite the uncertainties of the global pandemic and the US presidential election, strong venture capitalist investment throughout the year helped boost overall fintech investment. Global fintech-focused VC investment reached $42billion in 2020, including $20.5billion in H2.

Anton Ruddenklau, global fintech co-leader at KPMG, said: “A number of sectors floundered given the challenges of doing business in a pandemic environment . Fintech, for the most part, was not one of them. Covid-19 has been a catalyst for many fintech business models – a real proving ground given the accelerated demand for digital offerings coming from consumers and businesses alike. Payments and e-commerce platforms were particularly hot areas of investment, in addition to cybersecurity, given the increasing use of digital platforms.”

Global insight

VC investment in fintech globally rose year-over-year – from $40 billion over 2,834 deals to over $42billion investment across 2,375 deals. Both the Americas ($23billion) and EMEA ($9.2billion) regions saw record highs of annual fintech-focused VC investment. However, fintech investment in the Asia-Pacific region dropped to the lowest level since 2014 at $11.6billion.

US-based wealthtech Robinhood raised the most VC funding in H2’20: $1.3billion across two rounds ($600million and $668million). A number of digital brands raised funding rounds above $500million, including Sweden-based digital bank Klarna ($650million), UK-based Revolut ($580million), and US-based Chime ($533million).

Although M&A deal value dropped in the first half of 2020 ($10.9billion), it rebounded to more than $50billion in H2’20, led by the $22billion acquisition of TD Ameritrade by Charles Schwab and the $7.1billion acquisition of Credit Karma by Intuit.

Corporate-participated venture investment in fintech flourished in 2020 at $21billion, with both the Americas ($9.7billion) and EMEA ($4.8billion) seeing record annual levels of CVC investment. Meanwhile, global investment in cybersecurity quadrupled – from $500million in 2019 to more than $2billion in 2020.

Payments space

Payments firms and challenger banks drove the largest deals in Europe, including $500million+ raises by three companies: Klarna, Polskie ePlatnosci and Revolut.

In Asia-Pacific, where overall fintech investment dropped, the payments space showed the most regional resilience. In H2’20, Australia-based eNett was acquired by US-based WEX for $577million, Australia-based Judo Bank raised $209million, South Korea-based Toss raised $177million, and India-based Razorpay raised $100million.

According to KPMG’s latest report, given the increase in demand for digital payments, contactless payments and e-commerce platforms, fintech investment is expected to remain robust well into 2021. Corporate investment is expected to be particularly buoyant as incumbent businesses continue to work to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.

Blockchain is also expected to gain traction as blockchain-based solutions and digital asset offerings become more mainstream. The study also suggests resurgence in M&A activity across the board as smaller fintechs consolidate, incumbents look to acquire capabilities to crank up their digital transformation efforts and larger fintechs plump for M&A as a mechanism for growth.

“Given the strong valuations that tech companies are getting in the public markets, exit activity is going to increase significantly in 2021, particularly in terms of IPOs,” said Ian Pollari, global fintech co-leader at KPMG. “Already in H1’21, we’ve seen a number of unicorn fintechs looking to go public – whether through traditional IPOs or through SPACs – and we’re likely to see more.”


Covid Pandemic Has Given Investors The Jitters, Barometer Reveals


People without a financial adviser have lost their confidence since the Covid-19 pandemic, putting their wealth and retirement plans at risk – according to the Embark Investor Confidence Barometer

Prior to the virus upheaval, 70 per cent of unadvised investors were confident they could deliver their financial plans without an adviser but that figure has since fallen to 60 per cent. One in five unadvised investors (20 per cent) are now not confident about delivering their financial plans – up from eight per cent prior to the pandemic.

Less than half (46 per cent) of unadvised investors are confident they will not be significantly financially worse off at the end of the pandemic, compared to 62 per cent of advised consumers.

The research, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of retirement solutions provider Embark Group, also identified that forty-three per cent of investors without an adviser were confident in their investment approach during this period. For individuals with an adviser this figure rose to 65 per cent.

Among advised investors, over a quarter are much more confident that they will achieve their long-term financial objectives than before the Covid-19 pandemic began, with only eight per cent feeling less confident.

Emotional decisions

Confidence can have marked impacts on investment behaviours and outcomes, says Oxford Risk, a behavioural finance technology provider. It says that during periods of high stress, investor losses can rise from three per cent to six or seven per cent a year from emotionally-guided investment decisions.

Greg Davies, head of behavioural science at Oxford Risk, comments: “Times of stress can be very costly for investors. Decision horizons shorten, the emotional component of decisions increases, and we cling to the decisions that feel comfortable in the moment rather than those that are sensible for our long-term needs.

“To overcome this, investors need to maintain a state of calm, and keep their focus on the long-term, which can be difficult to do in the face of rapidly moving events and a barrage of daily news. One of the key values of advisers is helping investors navigate the storm and avoid knee-jerk responses, providing both experience and emotional calm. We see from these data how advisers can provide the confidence investors need to stick to their plans.”

Interestingly, advisers themselves think on average that only 39 per cent of clients’ general financial situation won’t be worse off following the pandemic, and similarly that only 39 per cent of clients will be financially unaffected by it in retirement. However, financial advisers think that only just over a third of their clients will have enough money to fund their retirement plans.

Age differences

In addition, the report also found that younger investors are more likely to seek advice than older individuals, and have different criteria for seeking advice. Forty-four per cent of investors aged 35 to 44 with a financial adviser described advisers’ availability for ad-hoc advice as ‘very valuable’ – versus 35 per cent of investors aged 55 to 64.

The Embark Investor Confidence Barometer is a new bi-annual attitude tracker exploring the confidence of investors and advisers in the UK, across a range of topical issues. Censuswide conducted the survey of 1,002 respondents in November 2020.


The Regulatory Architecture of Fintech Credit Platforms


Global fintech credit platform transaction value exceeded €257 billion in 2020, with the European Union (excluding the UK) capturing 4.6% of it, shining a light on the importance of Fintech credit platforms in providing alternative sources of financing for start-ups, SME’s, and the underbanked. However, with little regulation investor, borrower and the fintech platform relations are unsustainable, leading to the new regulation on crowdfunding (EU 2020/1503) being adopted recently, setting forth fintech platform transparency and borrower due diligence requirements to protect investors.

Janis Eismonts, CEO Sneekypeer

Janis Eismonts, CEO Sneekypeer

Janis Eismonts, CEO Sneekypeer

Here, Janis Eismonts, the CEO of data-driven analytics company Sneekypeer explains that a major distinction, however, has to be made between digital banks and Fintech platforms, per se.

Digital Banks are deposit-taking institutions like standard banks and are thus involved in risk transformation and are subject to deposit insurance schemes. Digital technology is exclusively used to provide services remotely through electronic channels. Digital banks engage in risk transformation like traditional banks, digital banks have a technology-enabled business model and provide their services remotely with limited or no branch infrastructure. Fintech platforms are not deposit-taking institutions, but act as pure intermediaries between lenders and borrowers. Two broad categories have to be distinguished: fintech balance sheet lenders and crowdfunding platforms.

Fintech balance sheet lenders use their own balance sheet to intermediate between lenders and borrowers granting loans at their own risk. Meaning they are exposed to risks and have to fund their balance sheet through different kinds of assets. Whereas, crowdfunding platforms are exclusively matching borrowers with lenders without any involvement of risk transformation, as the intermediation is performed by a web-based platform that solicits funds for specific purposes from the public. Depending on the type of funding provided, we distinguish between loan crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding.

This emerging new financing architecture implies that regulatory frameworks will have to adapt and will likely differ for different kinds of credit institutions. The fundamental question will be what kinds of Fintech institutions fall under what kind of regulatory perimeter. A study by the Bank of International Settlements analyses the regulatory requirements for digital banking and Fintech platforms across 30 countries.

Digital banks as deposit-taking institutions typically fall under standard banking regulation, opposite of Fintech credit platforms. The situation is quite complicated, as those are not regulated as a banking institution. For example, crowdfunding platforms in itself could in principle be regulated by different regulators depending on the type of activity implemented. Crowdfunding platforms funding equity-related projects would typically fall under the supervision of securities regulators, whereas platforms funding loan-related projects would fall under the supervision of banking regulators. Most countries have no specific regulation for fintech credit platforms and regulatory requirements, thus considerably differ across countries, opening the door for potential regulatory arbitrage. Interestingly, in some jurisdictions these platforms can even be used to broker multiple financial instruments.

As the potential degree of non-transparency of platforms implies major risks for investors, information disclosure and due diligence is of foremost importance. Some regulators let platforms decide on information needed, while some are more prescriptive about the information to be provided. As many platforms do not invest their assets with risks covered by lenders, due diligence can be seen as the main function of those platforms. From an investor protection perspective, the risks substantially differ.

With the new EU regulation on crowdfunding in the process of being transposed aiming to create a common EU crowdfunding market, further analytics on risk management and due diligence is needed for the Fintech platforms to ensure their sustainability and growth. This is why the Sneakypeer Fintech expert group has developed an Integrated Risk Model framework together with a scoring and due diligence approach.

  • 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.


CDAO Financial Services Live 2021: Lead Sponsors Include IBM, Informatica, and PeerNova


As Financial Services Live gets ready to kick off on March 2 – 4, 2021, Corinium has announced that IBM, Informatica, and PeerNova are the lead sponsors, joined by BigID, DataRobot, Denodo, Intersystems, Qlik, Tavant, Algorithmia, Gigaspaces, Looker, Pyramid Analytics, Quantexa, Redis Labs, Tibco, Bureau van Dijk, A Moody’s Company and Metis as sponsors of Chief Data & Analytics Officers (CDAO).

The event takes place across March 2 – 4, 2021, both online and broadcasting live across North America.

CDAO Financial Services Live will welcome CDAOs and other top-level Analytics, Data, Data Science and Business Intelligence specialists from within the Financial Services industry for three days of learning, sharing and inspiration.

Speakers and Attendees come from all sectors of the Financial Services Industry and companies such as First Tech Federal Credit Union, BlackRock, Regions Bank, State Street Financial, BMO Financial, Vanguard, Wells Fargo and more.

“We’re very excited to have such great partners on board helping us to deliver the best experience for event participants,” said Maisa Roberts, Conference Production Director for CDAO Financial Services.

“CDAO Financial Services is set to be our largest one yet! We’ll be welcoming hundreds of data and analytics leaders for 3 days of learning and networking.”

CDAO Financial Services Live is now in its sixth year and over the past two years has inspired other events that have welcomed more than 1500+ Chief Data Analytics Officers, Senior Analytics Experts, Innovators and Influencers to come together virtually to exchange insights, challenges, and solutions.

Find more information about CDAO Financial Services Live here.

  • 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.


Visa Sees Strong Shift Towards Digital Payments As Two Million Businesses Get Covid Support


Small businesses are increasingly moving their operations online and embracing digital payments, according to Visa, with 80 per cent of transactions across Europe now contactless.

Data from the payments giant also shows that more than 10 countries in Europe have seen a 20 per cent increase in online sales since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last June, Visa launched a campaign to help eight million independent businesses adapt for a post pandemic environment – more than two million small firms across Europe have now received support.

The Where You Shop Matters campaign offers packages to small businesses to help either build an online storefront, accept digital payments or encourage consumers to shop local. More than 100 partners, including banks, governments, commerce platforms and technology partners, across Europe have joined the initiative.

Industry partners include Alpha Bank, Akbank, Axerve, Banca Sella, Banco Santander, BeeDigital, CEC Bank, the Co-Operative bank, Clickandcollection.com, Fiserv, Fruugo, Glovo, iCard- myPOS, Israel Credit Cards, Juni, National Bank of Greece, Tyl by NatWest, Nexi, Orderbird, Oma Savings Bank Plc, Payplug, Piraeus Bank, ShopAppy.com, Shopify, Viva Wallet, WorldLine and Yell.

Hemlata Narasimhan, senior VP in merchant sales and acquiring for Europe at Visa, said: “We are proud that over two million small businesses have been able to benefit from our partner initiatives. We remain committed to continue working with our clients and partners towards an economic recovery that keeps small businesses at the heart of our communities.

“Small businesses play a crucial role in our communities and many continue to operate under challenging conditions brought on by Covid-19. We continue to be inspired by the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit many small business owners have shown, adapting how they do business to keep serving their customers.”

Success stories

In the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, Visa is working with governments to provide small business access to contactless acceptance terminals and software free of charge for the first 12 months. Additionally, governments in 29 countries have raised the contactless limit to make it easier for consumers to pay touch free.

Meanwhile, a new Visa technology that transforms mobile devices into payment terminals is helping small business owners to accept digital payments in the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia Turkey, Ukraine and the UK.

In partnership with banks and fintechs across Europe, Visa has more than 30 new business card programmes that help small firms better manage their cashflow and purchasing. It has also expanded its Practical Business Skills platform that delivers free education resources to small firms.

Moving forward

Visa has called for more partners to support its initiatives aimed at supporting small businesses with the aim of digitising millions more small firms.


Forter: The Top Five Misconceptions Merchants Have About PSD2


PSD2 is a European regulation for payment services that aims to make payments more secure and help financial services innovate within the space.

Galit Michel is VP of Payments at Forter a provider of e-commerce fraud prevention. With over 15 years of experience in various leadership roles around Operation, Payments, FraudRisk, Regulations, Compliance and Product, Galit here shares her thoughts on the top five misconceptions merchants have about PSD2.

Galit Michel, VP of Payments, Forter

Before the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) went into effect, there were a lot of questions, concerns, and misconceptions about how the new regulation would change online payments.

Much of the discussion around PSD2 has centered around the transparency of banks and the friction on consumers. As a result, the entire ecosystem is concerned about the impact on revenue generation and profitability.

Merchants must recognize that PSD2 is just part of the new payment revolution; once they do that, it will be possible to leverage this new directive into a stronger payment solution that will benefit their customers and their bottom line.

In my conversations with top eCommerce leaders, I discovered that several misconceptions are shared by merchants, and want to help explain them.

“PSD2 will protect my business from fraud” 

This is one of the most common misconceptions about the new directive and one of the most detrimental ones to merchants.

Many merchants believe that PSD2 will protect their business from fraud because they will perform 3D-Secure authentication on all transactions, and as a result, chargeback liability will be passed to the banks and they no longer have to worry about it. However, that is wildly incorrect.

While part of the goal of PSD2 was to make online payments safer for consumers, the directive never intended to replace fraud prevention solutions.

PSD2 did not take into consideration the sophistication of fraudsters. As more consumers turn to online shopping worldwide, fraudsters constantly develop new ways to manipulate and deceive online payment systems and bypass the multi-factor strong customer authentication (SCA) methods required under PSD2.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that PSD2 is not a fraud solution. What PSD2 does, however, is harm conversion rates. Merchants who do not have a fraud protection solution in place will, as a result, suffer from higher fraud rates, increased chargebacks, and reduced conversion.

“Under PSD2, 3D-Secure (3DS) must be applied to my entire payment portfolio” 

Many merchants believe that under PSD2, they will have to apply 3DS to their entire payment portfolio; however, doing so is not only unnecessary, but it will almost certainly impact their profitability and negatively impact customer experiences. I recently spoke to a merchant in Spain that applied 3DS to all his transactions in an effort to be completely PSD2 compliant. The result was a 25% decrease in revenue. This merchant failed to understand the reason for declines, not realizing the complication that 3DS causes both from the payment ecosystems perspective and from the consumers’ side.

The 3DS authentication process introduces significant friction and often leads to user abandonment or failure to complete the 3DS challenge. This can occur due to confusion over the process, technical issues such as users not receiving the SMS with the code to complete the purchase, or simply because consumers have more time to second guess their purchase and decide not to complete it.

Even consumers that do complete 3DS authentication may not be authorised. This is because 3DS authorisation sometimes has a higher decline rate due to the fact that acquirers do not want to take chargeback liability upon themselves.

Under PSD2, merchants can request 3DS exemptions for relevant transactions, with the most important type of exemption being Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) exemption.

For a merchant to be granted a TRA exemption and to leverage PSD2 exemptions to their benefit, merchants should have a payment optimisation and fraud solution in place that includes a powerful exemption engine, as well as ensure they have an accurate and comprehensive overview of their payment ecosystem to understand how prepared their ecosystem is for the new directive.

“PSD2 is a legal issue, so only the legal department needs to deal with it”

PSD2 is much more than a legal and compliance issue; it is a far-reaching directive that directly impacts profitability and revenue generation.

While the responsibility for ensuring compliance is the role of legal departments, mitigating its impact is a company-wide endeavour. PSD2 requires infrastructural changes that necessitate IT/technology departments’ involvement, especially if a merchant wants to enable payment optimisation and request SCA exemptions.

Customer satisfaction and experience departments also need to be concerned about the impact of PSD2 because of the friction it creates for consumers. By increasing the touchpoints that consumers encounter and complicating the checkout process, the entire user experience is negatively impacted by the new regulation. This is particularly critical for merchants who will solely rely on 3DS to process transactions and will not seek to integrate dynamic 3DS or non-3DS transactions into their payment offering.

Operations and eCommerce teams who monitor revenue generation also need to care about PSD2 because of its impact on declines. Paying closer attention to the decline and abandoned rates within the 3DS authentication phase will provide critical insight regarding the number of consumers that are lost during the 3DS checkout process, as well as the inclination of acquirers to accept exemptions and their preferences for 3DS over non-3DS transactions and vice versa.

“More declines are inevitable, and merchants just have to deal with it” 

While declines may rise, there are many things merchants can do to reduce their impact, specifically leverage exemption requests to reduce the need to use 3DS on all transactions.

Under PSD2, merchants can apply for exemptions for eligible transactions including low-value transactions and low-risk ones. However, acquiring banks may reject exemptions and non-3DS transactions if they deem them too high risk.

Merchants that want to take advantage of the most common exemption, Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) need a powerful fraud prevention solution and exemption engine in place. When merchants apply for TRA exemptions and have a fraud prevention solution, that will increase their chance of the exemption being granted. In addition, fraud prevention solutions often take chargeback liability upon themselves, allowing the merchant to avoid liability as well as3DS while maintaining PSD2 compliance.

Declines can also be from the issuer’s side. Issuers may not be able to process 3DS2 and, as a result, may rely on 3DS1 which has higher abandonment rates. Issuers may also opt to use stand-in-processing (STIP) to complete 3DS. When using STIP, another processor, namely Visa or MasterCard, evaluates the risk and decides whether to take chargeback liability. If there is a low-risk, the liability then shifts back to the issuer, who may choose to decline the transaction simply to avoid the risk, even if it is a low risk.

Knowing where the declines come from can provide merchants with the ability to adapt their operations accordingly, ultimately reducing the number of declines they experience and increasing their revenue generation and profitability levels.

“PSD2 will never go into effect in the UK! I’m American – I don’t even care about Europe” 

While the rollout of PSD2 has been pushed back more times than the regulators would like to admit, it would be prudent to think that PSD2 will never go into effect or that it will not impact the operations of those who are based overseas.

In the UK, PSD2 has already been written into law, and as a result, its implementation is inevitable, despite the fact that Brexit has many thinking otherwise. Other countries in Europe have already altered their operations to enforce the new regulation, and the rollout is expected to continue.

Merchants that do not have to comply with the directive may find themselves losing opportunities in countries where PSD2 is mandated due to their failure to acknowledge the regulation and adapt their checkout process for the European market.

Merchants should also remember that what happens in Europe doesn’t always stay in Europe. Other regulations that were initially implemented in the EU later were adapted and implemented in the United States, Australia, and more.

Now is the time for merchants to recognise that the global payment environment is changing, and they have to change with it. Staying behind and not integrating innovative solutions, protecting their operations with fraud prevention solutions, and shifting their operations to be customer checkout experience-focused will ultimately cost them customers – and that is the last thing merchants want to sacrifice.


ICON Supports Blockchain Innovations With Decentralised Autonomous Grant Programme


ICON, the largest public blockchain project in South Korea, is allocating one million ICX tokens (around $1.3million) to support innovative blockchain projects on its network.

The funds will be distributed through ICON’s new decentralised autonomous grant programme, a fully open-source system managed by consensus and governance block validators on the ICON Network.

At first, ICON will fund the programme with 250,000 ICX (roughly $400,000), but by June 2021 up to one million ICX will be managed by validators – public representatives (P-Reps) – and funded through ongoing block rewards.

The ICON contribution proposal system (CPS), which replaces its current grant programme, delivers a streamlined, transparent approach to funding projects on the ICON network. It is designed to support both internal projects, including community building initiatives, infrastructure projects, and developer tools; as well as to provide bootstrapping to for-profit projects built on ICON.

Min Kim, ICON project founder, said: “Blockchain development has made tremendous strides over the past year, and our community grant programme provided significant funding to support this growth on the ICON network.

“This decentralised autonomous grant programme is a way to support a range of projects, including community-building initiatives, nonprofit infrastructure projects, developer tools, educational resources and much more.”

Approved projects will be asked to share a monthly progress report to continue receiving funding. Meanwhile, P-Reps will review the monthly progress reports and discontinue funding for projects that are not progressing effectively.

Ricky Dodds, strategy and communications lead at ICON, adds: “We look forward to seeing the ICON project turn into a fully functioning decentralised autonomous organisation with many projects funded through this system.”


A fight is won long before you step into the ring


Since last week, bitcoin’s price dropped over 25 percent, from a high over $58k to around $44k, as I write this post. This is its worst drop in a week, in nearly a year, since March 2020. Janet Yellen ripped into bitcoin, calling it highly speculative and inefficient: “Bitcoin is an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering”. The European Central Bank (ECB) issued a stark warning about bitcoin and Christine Lagarde, ECB’s President said bitcoin is not a currency and cryptocurrencies are not money. Central banks are getting closer to issuing their own digital currencies. Earlier this year, the Bank of International Settlements published its latest survey showing that 86% of the 65 central banks it spoke to are doing some form of work on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), be it research, proofs of concept or pilot development. Almost 15% are moving toward actual research for pilots. The future of money might be a digital version of the cash that’s already in people’s wallets, potentially upending the currency system that the world has known for many decades. Such a future, is not the future that many libertarians and tech-savvy entrepreneurs and investors envision, who are pinning their hopes on bitcoin and decentralized cryptocurrencies. 

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the founder and CEO at Kryptonio, a “keyless” non-custodial bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallet. Kryptonio eliminates all the shortcomings of centralized crypto exchanges and problems with managing private keys and seed phrases. Sign up for our and be the first to get the safest cryptocurrency wallet.

There’s a big tug of war going on with bitcoin.

On one hand, you have the private sector that’s adopting bitcoin, led by companies like Tesla, MicroStrategy, Square and Paypal, and using it as an asset and as a payment method. A few weeks go, Tesla’s announcement was remarkable. Tesla invested $1.5 billion into bitcoin and said that it would start to accept bitcoin as a form of payment. Basically what Tesla and rest are telling us is that bitcoin is money. When you think about it, the two basic characteristics of money is that you can buy things with it and use it to store value.

There is no question about it, something is going on.

When BNY Mellon, the oldest bank in the U.S. says that it plans to hold, transfer, and issue bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on behalf of its clients, you know something is going on. When MassMutual, the 169 year-old insurer, invests $100 million in bitcoin you know something is going on. When Mastercard brings crypto onto its network, and lets consumers transact in crypto on its network, you know something is going on. When JPMorgan and Citibank predict that bitcoin’s price is going to dwarf its current pricing levels, you know something’s is going on.

On the other hand, there’s a growing concern in the public sector. Janet Yellen, US Treasury Secretary, was very critical of bitcoin a few of days ago. Yellen’s comments are the latest salvo against cryptocurrencies, by a high-ranking government official. Before that, there were warnings from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank.

Yellen’s said that bitcoin was inefficient, and added that it was time for the US to study the merits of a digital dollar. Yellen said that a digital dollar based on a blockchain, could result in faster, safer and cheaper transactions.

Recently, ECB’s chief, Christine Lagarde, blasted against cryptocurrencies: “For those who had assumed that it might turn into a currency, terribly sorry, but this is an asset and it’s a highly speculative asset which has conducted some funny business and some interesting and totally reprehensible money-laundering activity.” Despite being skeptical of cryptocurrencies, Lagarde noted that the coronavirus pandemic has pushed economies toward faster digital adoption, and the digital euro may be ready within four years.

The introduction of a digital euro is still an open issue. In October 2020, the ECB published its first report on a digital euro. This report served as the foundation for a public consultation process, which generated a lot of interest. There are also important technical aspects that still need to be clarified.

Central banks understand full well that they risk losing the digital currency race if bitcoin becomes too entrenched in the market. So, they’re scrambling trying to figure it out.

More than 80% of the world’s central banks are exploring CBDCs in some capacity, according to the Bank for International Settlements. However, few are as far advanced in their research as the People’s Bank of China, which conducted a trial in November last year, in Shenzhen, China. While the trial was successful in purely technical terms, the results showed that participants weren’t particularly impressed by the digital yuan.

The public trust in a digital currency will be determined by the public trust in the central bank that issues it. The shock from COVID put the central banks in a dicey position and forced them to provide monetary stimulus in order to stabilize the markets. The US passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package. The rest of the world also printed massive amounts, for example Europe approved a €750 billion program.

So why would we trust a fiat currency, just because it’s digital? Why would we trust a digital dollar or euro or yuan more than bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, when we can trade it without interference or intermediaries?

The problem that central banks face is not whether to go digital or not. There is already digital money in many other forms that consumers around the world use to conduct transactions without physical currency, using credit cards or mobile phones to pay.

Perhaps most significantly, in a world of competing government issued digital currencies, we will see a new kind of fiat cannibalism. Everyone competing with everyone, and clearing the path for bitcoin.

In 2019, I posted Bitcoin could be America’s greatest weapon. Bitcoin is the “next Internet” an open, transparent microcosm of how a new decentralized, and automated financial system should work. The country that adopts bitcoin could attain the leadership position in the global financial system, just like the US did in the 90’s with the Internet.

Long ago, Muhammad Ali said that “the fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” After 12 years bitcoin is still around and thriving for one and only reason: with bitcoin the benefits lie with the user, and not with the one that issues the money. While the detachment of bitcoin from monetary policy is a negative for governments who want to control such economic indicators as interest rates and inflation, it’s usually a positive for those who hold it and other cryptocurrencies. Government issued crypto will never offer what today’s “immature” bitcoin offers: protection against inflation, self-custody, and privacy.

That is why bitcoin is going to win every day and on Sundays!

In the meantime, if you’re thinking about bitcoin’s price, top guns in crypto are saying that by the end of the year it will break $100k, some say $146k and others $300k. As for what I think, I asked twitter to tell me. The survey will be running until tomorrow, so make sure to get your vote in.

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The Next Boss Fight: Gaming 2021


Predicting the future was once relatively straightforward for technology-based industries. Take a look at the emergent tech, understand user engagements, extrapolate trends, and craft informed expectations. Then 2020 happened and suddenly the only certainty was uncertainty.

Technology became a universal necessity and, as McKinsey pointed out, sped up the adoption of digital technology by years. A whiplash level of speed as companies went into digital transformation to ensure they were capable of remaining relevant in an online world. Gaming was just as fortunate – the World Economic Forum found that this industry saw significant increases in sales and adoption during the pandemic.

As the world continues to wrestle with the complexities introduced by the pandemic, what realistically lies ahead for the gaming sector? What shifts in adoption and what trends are likely to define 2021 and beyond? According to Indranil Chatterjee, Chief Customer Officer at Enea gaming is arguably larger than music and movies with no sign of it dropping off after the pandemic. He believes that the cloud will become the next big gaming frontier as gamers, loyal to the title not the device, will move into the cloud with ever evolving cloud gaming services with heavyweights such as Microsoft and Amazon.

This need to create new and sticky games and experiences is one that will likely drive the industry going forward. As Tom Pigott, CEO of Ludo AI, points out, “In a 159.3-billion-dollar industry, the pressure to release new hit games is relentless. Every developer is under pressure to create a viable pipeline and now with so many ways of testing games quickly the appetite is at an all-time high for new games ideas and concepts.”

Which is where brands will step in. According to Rob Chalmers, Chief Experience Officer at ENGINE Creative brands will be expected to make the leap into the multi-verse, transitioning their marketing strategies from online ad buys to existing in a shared, virtual economy. Brands won’t be advertising, they’ll be participating and looking for creative ways to add value to games such as skins and in-game purchases. This is a view shared by Lana Meisak, VP Business Development at Gismart, who believes that: “New revenue streams through intertwining different industries within the gaming industry such as music and advertising will likely become more prominent, as will a surge in mergers and acquisitions of gaming companies, particularly among smaller studios.”

Interestingly, this is a common prediction with Paul Sheldon, Senior Art Director at Gweirydd, explaining: “A continuing trend in 2021 is game arenas used for social events, concerts, and festivals. For example, Fortnite held a Scott Travis concert which was viewed by 12 million people, proving the audience is out there! Minecraft also persists as a favourite for many music festivals, with sold out tickets to enjoy the show last year.” eSports is also likely to contribute to this growing trend in in-game advertising, branding and engagement, as Chris Kissack, Head of Esports, Digital Isle of Man points out: “While not solely driven by the pandemic, the more eyeballs on creators within the esports and gaming industry has resulted in more revenue generating opportunities in the space, especially with endemic and non-endemic brands looking to capitalise on viewership numbers.”

For Jose Caldera, chief product officer at Acuant, however, blockchain is set to be a foundation shaker in the gaming sector as a way of increasing security and access. Blockchain’s capabilities allow for the democratisation of gaming and the creation of safer open markets for digital gaming assets. Paul Marcantonio, Executive Director – UK & Western Europe at ECOMMPAY predicts that it will become all about innovation and seamless payments as console, desktop and mobile transactions will become increasingly interlinked and more accessible, streamlining user experiences and in-game transactions.

What lies ahead for gamer and industry is a competitive digital playground that will battle for gamer attention while consistently investing into innovation to hold that attention tightly in the future. From the fresh-faced gamer who arrived for entertainment in the pandemic to the eSports veteran, there will be experiences and developments designed to capitalise on their interest. Ben Moxon who is a Research Director at The Nursery concludes: “Both market- and behaviour-related shifts are expected to dictate further development of the industry as a whole especially through re-ignited competition between the biggest players due to tech advancements, as well as emergence of new types of gamers looking for specific forms of entertainment formed during the lockdowns of 2020.”

  • Tamsin Oxford is an experienced generalist who has written for finance and tech for more than 20 years. She’s written for multiple publications and markets and continues to find the topics both fascinating and brilliant.


Primary Launches $150m Seed Fund for New York City Start-ups


Primary Venture Partners (Primary), a VC firm focused exclusively on investing in New York City startups, has announced the launch of a new $150m fund, the largest seed fund dedicated to New York City startups to-date. In addition to this third fund, Primary today announced it has closed $50m for its second Select fund—closing a total of $200m across these two new funds.

Primary will use this third fund to invest in the most talented founders entirely from the New York City tech ecosystem as they work to build the next generation of transformational businesses, further solidifying the firm’s loyalty to local entrepreneurs.

Primary’s current and previous portfolio companies have experienced success, such as Jet.com  which was acquired by Walmart for $3.3B, Mirror which sold to Lululemon for $500m, K Health which recently achieved Unicorn status with a $1.5B valuation and Latch which is merging to go public via a Tishman Speyer SPAC that values the company at over $1.5B.

Despite COVID’s economic impact, Primary recognizes that New York City is the second biggest tech ecosystem in the world valued at $147B,  and the firm remains devoted to keeping it on top.

“New York City has diversity, grit and passion in a way that no other city has, and we firmly believe that this multi-dimensional magnetism is core to the evolution and ever-growing success of the startups that are created here,” said Brad Svrluga, Co-Founder and General Partner at Primary.

“Our diversity—of people, industries and cultural assets—and the breadth of domain expertise in our workforce—across finance, fashion, advertising, real estate, media, CPG, pharmaceuticals and more—are this market’s and Primary’s greatest assets. It is this diversity that led the city to bounce back from the Global Financial Crisis, which so many thought would be a crippling blow to New York. Instead, the tech community in many ways was fueled by the meltdown on Wall Street and has never looked back.

“Now, as the city begins to rebound from COVID, we are doubling down on our commitment while many others fear for the future of this market, and will continue to play an integral role in shaping the next wave of New York City startups which we believe will be stronger than any other market in the country.”

Ben Sun, Co-Founder and General Partner at Primary, added:  “As a lifelong New Yorker, I’m excited to invest in the next generation of New York City startups and continue to work with the amazing founders that call this city home. We have seen an influx of great entrepreneurial talent in New York over the last decade. When we started Primary, I wanted to build a firm that could provide the support to founders that I never had on my own founder journey as an operator. Six years later, I’m proud to say that we are having that impact, as our founders tell us every day.

At the same time, our bet on my hometown—a bet that was far from obvious to people when we got started in 2014—has proven to be a very wise one. NYC has now emerged as one of the most important startup markets in the world, and the best is yet to come.”


Protokol: How Blockchain Can Help eSports Put Fans First


In just ten years, the esports industry has transformed from a largely underground pastime into a billion-dollar industry. One of the key drivers has been its ability to attract huge viewing numbers. Over 496 million people watch eSports, both online and in-person, across the globe.

Lars Rensing, Protokol

Lars Rensing, Protokol

Lars Rensing, Protokol

However, Lars Rensing, CEO of enterprise blockchain solutions provider Protokol, believes that this enormous growth comes with several challenges, some which teams are being forced to adapt to at lightning pace. From difficulties engaging and forging relationships with an increasingly growing fan base, to limitations with fan traceability, and issues with generating actionable data for sponsors – the esports industry is facing some tough challenges.

Many of the key challenges esports organisations are facing boil down to one common theme: the fans. While the industry as a whole thrives, fragmented systems, disjointed processes and out-of-date fan management systems mean that teams are struggling to get a clear picture of how their fans are behaving, what their needs are and how best to reward them for engagement. In a fast-growing industry, teams who can’t achieve this kind of insight and adapt to changing fan demands risk leaving a significant portion of their fan base behind. And with Covid-19 driving a sharp growth in viewers and engagement with esports online, as well as attracting a mainstream audience due to traditional sports matches being cancelled, they also risk not capitalising on a new generation of esports fans.

As a result, esports teams are looking for innovative ways to effectively engage and monetise fans in order to bring teams, supporters and sponsors closer together, and better understand what keeps fans engaged. This is where blockchain comes in.

Building a fan-centric ecosystem

One of the main problems at the moment is visibility. Esports teams have a huge social following and constantly growing viewing numbers, but they don’t have a fool-proof way of understanding how these followers are engaging with their teams. By using blockchain, teams can create a fan-centric ecosystem which puts the needs of fans at the centre of their business and makes it easier to collect, interpret and convert data insights to drive fan relationships and loyalty.

On these platforms, fans can be rewarded for certain things, such as creating and sharing content, or through loyalty programmes that allow them to accumulate points or rewards to spend on merchandise, tickets, and digital collectibles. These platforms not only help to foster a sense of community for fans but can also enhance a team’s relationship with sponsors.

Blockchain technology is transparent in nature, as everyone on the blockchain can be allowed to have access to the information stored in it. This means that teams can share fan interaction data seamlessly with sponsors, giving them verified and immutable engagement metrics, leading to a better ROI and creating stronger more profitable business relationships for the teams. For fans, it means visibility over the transactions when it comes to being awarded or spending loyalty points. What’s more, because this information is decentralized (i.e. stored on a secure blockchain network, rather than one centralized server), there is also no single point of failure, making the data incredibly secure and almost impossible to corrupt. Blockchain, then, can provide reassurance of the validity of the metrics and insights gathered from fan interactions, helping sponsors generate a better ROI.

Creating fan tokens

Teams can go one step further by incorporating blockchain-based fan tokens into their fan ecosystems. These digital tokens act as a team’s own virtual currency, which fans can purchase for fiat currencies, like dollars, euros and pounds, making them a viable revenue stream for teams. Fans exchange the fan tokens for merchandise, collectables, in-game assets or exclusive experiences. Fan tokens are a finite, digital asset backed by secure blockchain technology. Data related to ownership and transactions of fan tokens is automatically stored on a secure, decentralised digital ledger, allowing teams to access in-depth fan interaction data that can seamlessly and securely be shared across the ecosystem, giving valuable insight to both sponsors to business partners.

For fans, ownership of fan tokens offers them the ability to use their tokens to unlock discounts on merchandise, access unique experiences, or participate in fan-led decisions through a mobile voting platform; as well as serving as a ticket into a secure, exclusive inner circle of fans with shared passions and beliefs.

Digital asset and collectibles

In-game purchases made to buy special objects like guns or swords are generally one-time, non-transferable investments. This has been a bugbear for fans for years, who have been calling for more easily transferable assets. With blockchain, this no longer needs to be the case. The technology can be used to give players full ownership of these items, allowing them to take the items out of their original games, sell them on for profit, or even use them in other games.

Blockchain can also allow teams to create either unique or limited-edition collectibles which fans can purchase and which can’t be can’t be destroyed, replicated or forged. This has already proved highly profitable for digitally native fans, as we saw with the wild popularity of the CryptoKitties game in 2017. Esports teams can take advantage of this by creating collectibles like digital trading cards of their players for their fans to collect, opening up a completely new revenue stream.

Particularly during the pandemic, the eSports industry is in a unique position to appeal to an enormous network of global fans. In order to capitalise on this growth, teams need to explore innovative new ways to ensure fan experience stays at the centre of everything they do. Teams that do this will be well placed to continue the astronomic growth of the industry, while keeping fans engaged, sponsors happy, and opening up new revenue streams.

  • 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.


The Fintech Nations Summit – Live from Tel Aviv on March 1st-14th


The FinTech Nations virtual summit is coming up on March 1st-14th. It will bring thought leaders from across the world to talk about fintech. 

Join FinTech Nations Summit & Hackathon 2021, a 14 days open platform virtual summit for gaining access to fintech business & investment opportunities into the global top fintech markets and leading financial banks, neobanks, payments companies.

100+ speakers, over $ 100K Prizes for the Hackathon winners, leading countries – all in one summit.

To find out more about the event The FinTech Times spoke with Nir Kouris, the founder of the summit:

Within the Middle East region, the tiny nation of Israel has built one of the world’s most advanced tech ecosystems. This has caused it to earn its reputation as a “Startup Nation” , which is also reflected in its fintech ecosystem. To read more about The Startup Nation read A 101 of The Startup Nation: Israel’s Startup and Fintech Landscape.


MonetaGo on Invoice Fraud: Why Digitalisation is Our Best Defense

Jesse Chenard, CEO at fintech MonetaGo, looks at why the risk of invoice fraud is higher than ever and analyzes how the landscape is changing. He outlines the reasons why invoice fraud still thrives today and discusses how technology could provide the solution.

Jesse Chenard, CEO MonetaGo

Invoice fraud is as ancient as trade itself – yet businesses across the globe are still falling victim to it. The NMC Health scandal was just one of the many cases last year where invoice fraud could have been mitigated if governments and financial institutions worked together to implement better invoice fraud prevention practices.

As economies across the world begin to recover from the pandemic, we will see a flurry of activity in trade across the globe. While the economic benefits of this are inarguable, another direct consequence of an uptick in activity is an increase in trade fraud and invoice fraud is no exception.

Fraud flourishes where confusion reigns

Fraud flourishes amid uncertainty, chaos and outdated processes, which tend to be those that are paper-based. Over 80% of global trade relies on trade finance, yet many financial institutions still rely on paper-intensive documentation and clunky legacy systems, leaving invoice finance susceptible to fraud.

In 2018 the global invoice factoring and finance market was worth $2.9 trillion. It’s time for government and financial institutions to come together and provide innovative solutions for fraud prevention.

The key to preventing the confusion which allows fraud to flourish, is to streamline trade finance processes and make it simple for financial institutions to detect and prevent fraud. Digitising paper-based workflows enables better recording of transactions and permits mistakes and fraud to be more easily spotted. Building an inclusive trade fraud prevention solution that operates at the industry level brings clarity and pro-actively prevents fraud. The more financial institutions that use the solution, the more the risk of double financing is mitigated.

To truly mitigate invoice fraud, financial institutions and governments need to co-operate at the industry level to build a holistic solution that works for all parties – individual company policies can only go so far. In order to eradicate invoice fraud, all parties need to be on the same page and able to securely share information to detect and prevent invoice fraud.

Looking to a digital solution

Many of the challenges outlined above could be solved through industry-wide co-operation and digitisation of trade finance. For this to work, legacy systems and paper-based workflows need to be overhauled.

Distributed ledger technology is one of the most powerful solutions which would enable financial institutions and governments to mitigate invoice fraud. With blockchain, huge amounts of paperwork could be verified and processed automatically. An immutable blockchain ledger could provide transparency over the transportation and processing of physical and online goods.

By taking select information from invoices, hashing them so they can’t be used to obtain primary customer information, and then uploading them onto a distributed, decentralised ledger, it is possible to prevent duplicate financings in real-time, while simultaneously protecting sensitive information related to clients and market share.

Since the data can be securely shared between all network participants, the distributed repository prevents duplicate factoring by the financier prior to trade confirmation. Blockchain makes it simple for financiers to check whether an invoice has already been financed by another party. Once a financier has chosen to finance an invoice, it is then clearly marked on the distributed ledger. It is also possible to automatically validate the authenticity of invoices by checking the information against available tax information associated with each invoice. In other words, this type of system can eliminate the risk of fraud in invoice finance entirely.

Co-operation at the industry-level and digitisation of fragmented legacy systems through new technologies is the key to mitigating fraud in invoice finance. Cross-border flows could be tracked from start to finish, and the need for paper could be eliminated entirely. With the right technology, we can learn and evolve from the lessons of invoice fraud, mitigate future occurrences, and allow all countries to prosper through safe and secure trade.


Crypto Parrot Finds Demand for Crypto Debit Cards Surges 194% in 12 Months


Data presented by Crypto Parrot indicates that global interest in the keyword ‘crypto debit card’ has surged by 194.1% over the last 12 months on the Google Search platform. The interest attained peak popularity score of 100 in February 2021 while a year ago it was at 34.

Among countries, Nigeria leads with a peak popularity score of 100 followed by Australia at 45. Netherlands ranks third with a score of 44 followed by Canada at 40 while the United States comes in fifth at 39.

Interest from the United Kingdom ranks sixth with a score of 36 followed by India at 15 while Germany is eighth with a score of 12.

Several factors have led to a strong interest in crypto debit cards mainly due to the increased adoption of digital assets. The report highlights other drivers for the interest.

According to the research report: “Furthermore, there has been an explosion of companies like Visa and Mastercard getting involved in crypto payment systems through debit cards. At the same time, more merchants are increasingly adding digital currencies to payment methods. It is, therefore, logical that people would be interested in acquiring crypto debit cards.”

Being a new financial phenomenon, crypto debit cards might face regulatory hurdles from non-crypto friendly jurisdictions.

In general, the crypto debit cards are helping holders get involved in the digital assets’ space while bridging the gap between the digital asset world and traditional finance space.


Digital Wallets More Popular Than Debit Cards For Online Payments In UK


Digital wallets have overtaken debit cards as the most popular form of online payment, research has revealed, as the UK e-commerce market sets new records for online spending, 

The UK e-commerce market reached £192billion in 2020 in a 13 per cent rise from 2019, according to Worldpay from FIS. It also predicts that by 2024 more than 20 per cent of all purchases in the UK will be made online, with spending reaching £264billion.

In the 2021 edition of its The Global Payments Report, Worldpay from FIS also reveals that digital wallets have leapfrogged debit cards to become the most popular online payment method in the UK.

Digital wallets now account for 32 per cent of all online payments, followed by debit cards (29 per cent) and credit cards (21 per cent). By 2024, digital wallets are predicted to make up 40 per cent of online transactions.

Analysis also suggests that by 2024 40 per cent of all online shopping in the UK will be done via mobile.

Pete Wickes, general manager EMEA at Worldpay from FIS, said: “E-commerce is booming and now, more than ever, retailers need a strong online presence to capture consumer spend. The shop floor is now in the palm of our hands and consumers expect the same hassle free and convenient retail experience – whether it’s on the go, in store or from the comfort of their living room.”

The report also found that buy now, pay later (BNPL) services are the fastest-growing online payment method in the UK, a trend that is expected to continue for the next four years. BNPL transactions in the UK will grow 29 per cent year-on-year, doubling market share to 10 per cent by 2024. Overall BNPL spending in the UK will rise from £9.6billion in 2020 to £26.4billion in 2024.

It follows a report back in December by budgeting-app HyperJar, which revealed one in four consumers in the UK used a buy now, pay later credit scheme to pay for their Christmas shopping in 2020, totalling to £2.3 billion.

BNPL under scrutiny

Earlier this month, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority outlined plans to regulate buy-now-pay-later agreements used by companies, such as Klarna, after a government review found potential for consumer harm.

Under these plans, providers will be subject to FCA rules so will need to undertake affordability checks before lending and ensure customers are treated fairly, particularly those who are vulnerable or struggling with repayments.


Signicat Finds European Financial Institutions Lose Over €5bn Yearly to Poor Customer Onboarding


Signicat, a digital identity company, has revealed new analysis by P.A.ID Strategies that shows financial institutions are wasting at least €5.7 billion every year due to poor customer onboarding and abandonment.

The analysis follows the release of Signicat’s regular report into the state of financial services onboarding, The Battle to Onboard 2020. This year’s report was the worst for the industry since it debuted in 2016, with 63% of consumers in Europe abandoning financial applications in the past year. This is a sharp increase of 23 percentage points from the abandonment rate in 2019.

To understand the financial implications of such a high abandonment rate on institutions’ cost of acquisition, Signicat commissioned specialist research firm P.A.ID Strategies to build a model using primary data from European banks and the abandonment rate uncovered by the Battle to Onboard survey.

According to the model, around 120 million new accounts will be opened across Europe this year. Signicat’s Battle to Onboard research shows that 63% of people abandon an application. By making conservative estimates of the cost of customer acquisition including advertising, sponsorship and promotion, personnel wages, and customer support—and allowing for multiple applications by the same person, P.A.ID Strategies conservatively estimates that at least €5.7 billion is wasted each year.

“Customer acquisition is a hot button issue right now—some new banks are especially keen to reference their figures to prove to the market how well they are doing,” said John Devlin, founder, P.A.ID Strategies. “But much of that spend is wasted. Consumers will simply abandon processes that they see as too challenging, problematic or intrusive. Without dealing with this last hurdle in customer acquisition, the financial services market is squandering billions every year.”

“As a result of the pandemic, onboarding customers digitally, securely and seamlessly is vital for organisations to continue doing business,” said Asger Hattel, CEO, Signicat. “Billions are spent on clever marketing and compelling products every year by the smartest people in the business—and it works, with millions of potential customers starting applications for financial products. Yet it is vital that the industry takes note of where they can improve the onboarding experience, in order to turn these applicants into actual customers.”

For fully digital customer onboarding in the financial services industry, the following steps are usually required: identity verification, validation of identity information (such as screening against sanctions lists to comply with KYC and AML regulations) and electronic signing for terms and agreements or contracts.