Finovate Global Interview: Abdulla Almoayed of Tarabut Gateway on Open Banking in the MENA Region

https://finovate.com/finovate-global-interview-abdulla-almoayed-of-tarabut-gateway-on-open-banking-in-the-mena-region/
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This week’s edition Finovate Global is an interview with Abdulla Almoayed, founder and CEO of Tarabut Gateway. Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Dubai, Tarabut Gateway is the first and largest regulated open banking platform in the MENA region. The company enables secure and friction-free data flow and connectivity between banks and fintechs in its regional network, leveraging its universal APIs to bring the benefits of open banking to financial services consumers in Bahrain, the UAE, KSA, and elsewhere.

This year, Tarabut Gateway has secured major banking partnerships in Saudi Arabia, teaming up with Riyad Bank, Saudi British Bank, Alinma Bank, and Banque Saudi Fransi as the Kingdom begins to embrace open banking. In June, the company was selected as platform partner by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) for its new Open Finance Lab. Last month, Tarabut Gateway announced a pair of C-suite appointments, introducing new Chief Product Officer Nino Ocampo and new Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Erriade.

We caught up with Abdulla Almoayed to learn more about Tarabut Gateway, its role in driving open banking and fintech innovation in MENA, and what we can look forward to from the company in the future.


How strong is the Open Banking trend in the MENA region? 

Abdulla Almoayed: While the Gulf region might have been slower to adopt Open Banking than some Western countries, such as the U.S. and U.K., the fintech ecosystem in MENA is developing rapidly and has the potential to leapfrog other regions. Open Banking is a relatively new phenomenon globally, but there is great interest around it in our region and especially in the Gulf states.

Open Banking in MENA is highly driven by forward-looking regulators that are setting implementation plans in motion. This trend is also driven by increased consumer demand for personalized products and services – a pattern of consumption consumers have come to expect from the Netflix/Amazon experience, i.e. product recommendations based on consumers’ wants and needs.

Financial apps and products providing an enjoyable user experience are at the centre of this personal finance revolution. Improved financial literacy has caused customers to research and test more before deciding which financial product or service to use, while entrepreneurs and regulators have been motivated to spearhead change.

Using insights from data to create individually tailored products prioritizing an optimal, overall customer experience, Open Banking helps transform traditional one-size-fits all financial products into more intuitive financial products experiences. Through Open Banking, the consumer gets a new level of control, far in excess of today’s standard because traditional banks’ internal systems hoard valuable, personalized data about consumers. With Open Banking, consumers regain ownership over their personal financial information.

What are the forces that are driving open banking in the area? 

Almoayed: The compelling combination of customer demand, progressive regulators, and entrepreneurial ambition is driving Open Banking. The resulting technology provides vastly increased transaction speed and the capability to manage personal finances like never before.

Internet connectivity across the MENA region has increased rapidly in recent years, covering potentially 93% of the population, or 580 million people, according to telecommunications association GSMA. Smartphone penetration is estimated to reach 80% in 2025, and over 90% in GCC countries.

MENA’s young and tech-savvy population is still underbanked, and a driving factor behind Open Banking’s growth are companies and regulators who are keen to facilitate this huge opportunity in a responsible manner.

Moreover, banks in the region understand the benefits that Open Banking brings to their institutions. Open Banking enables them to stay relevant and to compete in today’s banking sector by providing enhanced digital offerings and customer-centricity.

Tarabut Gateway acts as the matchmaker between service providers and customers, creating a competitive fintech ecosystem where users receive the best, personalized products, and services.

How has Tarabut Gateway become a major player in MENA-based open banking?

Almoayed: Tarabut Gateway was launched in 2017 and our mission is to provide the Open Banking infrastructure for the entire region; growing an Open Banking ecosystem to benefit consumers, start-ups and legacy financial institutions.

Having graduated as the first company from Bahrain’s Open Banking sandbox program, our pioneering product offering made Tarabut Gateway’s rapid expansion possible. Not only did we enter the UAE market and become the first licensed Open Banking service provider, but also we have established partnerships with major KSA banks to participate from the start in the Kingdom’s fast-moving fintech sector development.

The Middle East’s financial services industry is just beginning to implement many of the personalized services new technologies and regulation make possible. Tarabut Gateway is at the forefront to fill these gaps, offering Open Banking APIs to support banks, fintechs, and third-party service providers (TPPs) in creating new products and services. Fintech sector growth has been stunning in recent years, and is still on an exponential path. Currently, there are approximately 500 fintechs in the region.

This has been a big year for Tarabut Gateway. What accomplishments stand out to you the most this year? 

Almoayed: The major milestones achieved in 2022 – the launch of the Open Finance Lab in partnership with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Open Banking license in the UAE, KSA bank partnerships, and newly appointed leadership roles – are all of great importance and reflect the different frontiers we are pushing as a company.

Open Finance Lab is an initiative led by DIFC. Tarabut Gateway was selected as the platform partner for the program. The Open Finance Lab is a 6-month program that will educate and engage banks, regulators, and the industry to showcase and shape the positive impact of Open Finance on the economy

To be acknowledged by the Dubai Financial Services Authority with the country’s first Open Banking license, including regulation as Account Information Service Provider and Payment Initiation Service Provider (AISP/PISP), is a symbol of our role as an ecosystem enabler.

Growing deeper roots in KSA’s market by being the fintech player with the largest, and most developed, network of partnerships validates our mission – to sit at the junction between regulators, banks, fintechs and TPPs.

Finally, the appointment of Nino Ocampo (CPO) and Adnan Erriade (CCO) further established Tarabut Gateway as international challenger, and points towards our role as a regional leader interacting with the global fintech revolution. We have attracted some of the most achieved Open Banking professionals, from leading organizations like HSBC, OpenWrks, and TrueLayer to join our team and contribute to our vision for Open Banking in the MENA.

What is something about fintech in the MENA region that many of those unfamiliar with the region would find surprising or interesting? 

Almoayed: An organic driver of fintech growth across MENA is the large number of underserved customers. MENA’s population is double that of Europe – but the region has fewer banks than Germany alone! Reaching out to the underserved and underbanked is the greatest challenge, but one of today’s most rewarding business and investment opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, developed Western markets, especially the U.S. and U.K., had a considerable head start in all things Open Banking – i.e., number of startups, amount of funding and regulation.

However, most observers underestimate the i) velocity of MENA’s regulator-led fintech sector growth during the last years, ii) the region’s demographic advantages, entrepreneurial culture, and business-friendly environment, and iii) the “second mover advantage” of designing Open Banking frameworks utilizing experiences made in pioneering developed markets.

Taken together, we think some MENA jurisdictions could leapfrog Western Open Banking development, especially with a stalling regulatory environment in the European Union.

Working closely with regulators and banks, Tarabut Gateway provides the groundwork for a thriving fintech ecosystem. Nimble fintech companies fill the gap left by traditional banking and complement the existing system. KSA, UAE, Bahrain, and even Oman and Egypt are rolling out far-sighted regulatory regimes and providing incentives to develop and implement ‘enabling’ technologies such as banking APIs.

What are some of Tarabut Gateway’s top priorities over the balance of this year and into the next? 

Almoayed: This year, the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) plans to go live with its Open Banking framework – part of the Kingdom’s “Vision 2030.” With “Fintech Saudi,” a strong platform was created to support Saudi fintech entrepreneurs and the number of fintech start-ups in the KSA increased 37% to 81 during 2021.

We are at the forefront of Open Banking progression in KSA, and it is a priority for us to support the country’s economic policy as Open Banking infrastructure provider benefitting Saudi consumers, merchants, banks and fintechs.

Our recently announced participation in the Dubai International Financial Center’s Open Finance Lab is an important step towards our exploration of Open Finance solutions – the idea of integrating even more areas of traditional finance in an Open Data framework, for example pensions, mortgages, loans, insurance, and investments. Tarabut Gateway is determined to also be the pioneering API provider for Fintech innovation in the UAE (and elsewhere).

In our first market, Bahrain, phases one and two of the Central Bank of Bahrain’s Open Banking Framework have been successfully implemented, with the regulator’s focus now shifting to Open Finance solutions. Tarabut Gateway will strive to remain the most trusted provider for the incredible growth to be expected through continual financial services innovation.

We are excited to see many new use cases developed on our platform including AIS/PIS solutions like cross-border payments, digital wallets, know your client processes and personalized financial management products.


Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric

https://finovate.com/finovate-global-interview-abdulla-almoayed-of-tarabut-gateway-on-open-banking-in-the-mena-region/

Automation allows for scale as Envestnet revenue rises 10%

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/retail/automation-allows-for-scale-as-envestnet-revenue-rises-10/
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Envestnet has had a busy first half of 2022 in terms of acquisitions, technology launches, integrations and internal digitization efforts, which have resulted in a 10% increase in total revenue. The Berwyn, Pa.-based wealth management company’s total revenue reached $318.9 million in Q2, up from 288.7 million in Q2 2021, according to its Q2 earnings […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/retail/automation-allows-for-scale-as-envestnet-revenue-rises-10/

Fintech Funding: Former Robinhood staffers’ startup raises $60M

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/business-banking/fintech-funding-former-robinhood-staffers-startup-raises-60m/
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Parafin announced Tuesday that it has secured $60 million in its second funding round. The fintech startup works in tandem with companies such as food delivery service DoorDash and wellness company Mindbody to provide funding for small businesses. Parafin launched in 2020 and is led by former employees of financial services company Robinhood. The latest […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/business-banking/fintech-funding-former-robinhood-staffers-startup-raises-60m/

Santander Partners with Rocket Mortgage to Provide Digital Home Loan Experience

https://finovate.com/santander-partners-with-rocket-mortgage-to-provide-digital-home-loan-experience/
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  • Santander Bank has selected Rocket Mortgage to provide its clients an online mortgage lending tool.
  • Rocket Mortgage will offer Santander clients exclusive discounts and resources to help them in their home buying journey.
  • Rocket Mortgage was among the first to offer a fully digital mortgage lending experience when it did so in 2015.

A partnership between Santander Bank and Rocket Mortgage is taking off today. Santander has selected online mortgage lending company Rocket Mortgage to serve as the as the exclusive preferred mortgage provider for its customers.

Santander will leverage Rocket Mortgage to offer its two million clients exclusive discounts and resources to help them in their home buying journey. The collaboration enables users to interact independently online or speak to a home loan expert via a phone call, email, or online chat.

“At Santander, we place the customer at the center of our business, and I’m pleased to be working with Rocket to deliver a convenient and simplified digital mortgage experience for our customers,” said Santander Bank Head of Consumer and Business Banking Patrick Smith. “Our relationship with Rocket Mortgage is another example of how Santander Bank is evolving our business and continuing to pursue opportunities for our customers to save, invest and manage their money at Santander.”

Santander is able to use its scale to secure discounts on loan costs and closing costs for its clients. Santander Private Clients and employees who close loans with the new platform can benefit from enhanced discounts.

Formerly known as Quicken Loans, Rocket Mortgage was a pioneer in digital mortgage lending. The company was among the first to offer a fully digital mortgage lending experience when it did so in 2015. The company closed $351 billion of mortgage volume across every U.S. state in 2021.


Photo by Kindel Media

https://finovate.com/santander-partners-with-rocket-mortgage-to-provide-digital-home-loan-experience/

Alt Lending week ending 5th August 2022

https://dailyfintech.com/2022/08/05/alt-lending-week-ending-5th-august-2022/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=alt-lending-week-ending-5th-august-2022
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What we can all learn about markets and speculation from the roller coaster of Crypto

The point being made in this piece is that crypto is really only a chimera. If you play in markets

where the underlying assets are purely digital and do not represent anything other than the ability to get punters (gamblers) to buy or sell then the long term destination is always going to be downward. You might make some money on the way and indeed have some fun.” The odds are marginally better than a casino” what a great quote. This is why lenders won’t take crypto assets as security for loans. Generally speaking lenders are serious people and although the level of credit expertise in lending markets is the lowest I have ever seen it the recognize when something is potentially worthless.

The low interest rate era is over. Who benefits?

Great synopsis of what has gone wrong since 2008 by Matthew Lynn. So who is going to benefit from the new higher rate scenario. Currently most fintech stocks are in the doldrums despite a weak rally in the last few weeks. Nevertheless the new challenger digital banks  as a group look likely to receive a bit of a windfall. The principal reason from a personal point of view is that they have business models which are very good at raising deposits and providing digital payment services but don’t seem to have much idea of how to use the money they have raised. The forecast of severely higher rates looks wide of the mark but we could see 3% or so.  This would make quite a bit of difference to the return on demand deposits as the whole lot could be placed on gilts with a significantly higher return than now. They do however still seem overvalued even in the new paradigm.

The age of project finance

One of my roles in life is to sit on the advisory board of a renewable energy company advising on financial techniques. This gives me real life access to project financiers and their mindset. The free wheeling easy equity placement and extortionate valuation days are over. Project finance is back with a vengeance but only if you have a good tale to tell and can back it up with realistic assumptions. The old school merchant bankers would know what to do but there are not many of those around these days. The truth is that understanding the risks is a real hands on business and sometimes those hands need to get quite dirty. Knowing your subject and really knowing your client (rather than KYC box ticking) are essentials. A bunch of analysts pawing over mountains of data won’t help you get it right if your technology is unrealistic and your engineers are drunk or charlatans. Time for a new training regime methinks.

Howard Tolman is a well-known banker, technologist and entrepreneur in London,  We have a self imposed constraint of 3 news stories per week because we serve busy senior  Fintech leaders who just want succinct and important information. For context on Alt Lending please read the Interview with Howard Tolman about the future of Alt Lending and read articles tagged Alt Lending in our archives. Daily Fintech’s original insight is made available to you for US$143 a year (which equates to $2.75 per week). $2.75 buys you a coffee (maybe), or the cost of a week’s subscription to the global Fintech blog – caffeine for the mind that could be worth $ millions

https://dailyfintech.com/2022/08/05/alt-lending-week-ending-5th-august-2022/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=alt-lending-week-ending-5th-august-2022

BlackRock Taps Coinbase to Facilitate Bitcoin Purchases

https://finovate.com/blackrock-taps-coinbase-to-facilitate-bitcoin-purchases/
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  • BlackRock has selected Coinbase to help its clients buy and sell bitcoin.
  • Under the partnership, clients of BlackRock Aladdin will benefit from Coinbase Prime.
  • Partnering with Coinbase will help BlackRock add digital currencies as an asset class for the first time.

Coinbase is partnering with BlackRock to help some of the asset manager’s institutional clients connect to Coinbase Prime, making it possible for them to buy and sell bitcoin.

Under the agreement, common clients of Coinbase and BlackRock’s end-to-end investment management platform Aladdin, will benefit from Coinbase Prime, a full-service platform to access crypto markets at scale. At the outset, Aladdin clients will be limited to using Coinbase Prime to buy and sell bitcoin.

With $10 trillion in assets under management, BlackRock offers clients a range of investment strategies, including alternative assets, sustainable investing, factor-based investing, systematic investing, and now digital assets. The company has 8,000 employees across the U.S. and works with more than 190,000 financial advisors to help build client portfolios.

The move adds cryptocurrency as an asset class for BlackRock clients for the first time. “Our institutional clients are increasingly interested in gaining exposure to digital asset markets and are focused on how to efficiently manage the operational lifecycle of these assets,” said BlackRock Global Head of Strategic Ecosystem Partnerships Joseph Chalom. “This connectivity with Aladdin will allow clients to manage their bitcoin exposures directly in their existing portfolio management and trading workflows for a whole portfolio view of risk across asset classes.”

BlackRock and Coinbase will roll out functionality in phases to interested clients.

Coinbase was founded 2012 and went public late last year. The company trades on the NASDAQ under the ticker COIN. The news of a new client for Coinbase Prime has given Coinbase a boost this week after the recent crypto winter took its toll on the company, which announced a hiring freeze and layoffs earlier this summer. Coinbase’s market capitalization currently sits at $19.74 billion.


Photo by Alesia Kozik

https://finovate.com/blackrock-taps-coinbase-to-facilitate-bitcoin-purchases/

Innovation in a Risk Management Business: A Conversation with Piermont Bank Founder and CEO Wendy Cai-Lee

https://finovate.com/innovation-in-a-risk-management-business-a-conversation-with-piermont-bank-founder-and-ceo-wendy-cai-lee/
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FinovateSpring provided us with a great opportunity to sit down for an informative chat with Wendy Cai-Lee, founder and CEO of Piermont Bank.

Launched in 2019, Piermont Bank aims to blend the best of modern banking and agile fintech. Piermont Bank’s peer banking approach provides customers with technology-enabled, human-delivered solutions, opting for dedicated bankers over “1-800 numbers or chatbots.”

Last month, Piermont Bank celebrated three years of innovation. The woman-founded and entrepreneur-led financial institution currently has more than $420 million in total assets, and offers an end-to-end, digital banking-as-a-service platform with more than 40 fintech clients already onboard. More than 50% of Piermont’s loans since inception have been made to low- and moderate-income communities, as well as women- and minority-owned businesses.

Below are a few excerpts from our conversation with Ms. Cai-Lee at FinovateSpring in San Francisco in May.

On the decision to launch Piermont Bank

The genesis of building Piermont was actually really simple. A lot of entrepreneurs would tell you they had this grand vision. For me, it was actually just very two practical reasons. The first was seeing the impact and the speed of impact that fintechs were making on consumer banking … The second reason was: I’ve been in banking for 26, 27 years. (And I’ve seen) the same pain points repeatedly from both the customer (side) as well as internally as an operator … So basically I said, “Okay if I could start with a blank slate, how would I build this? How would I build a fully digital-native, totally tech-enabled bank to do commercial banking faster and more efficiently?

On the evolution of financial services in recent years

My industry, historically, doesn’t change. It doesn’t go that fast. These days, I say that if the CEO is still working off their three-year strategic plan, if it’s in their third year, the board should fire that person. I mean, are you still even relevant in terms of your products (or) the way that you’re delivering these products? So I think the biggest change is just the speed, the speed of change, the speed of innovation.

I was taught and it’s still true banking is a risk management business. So it’s a little bit counter-intuitive if you think about it, this so-called “innovation.” But you absolutely can innovate in a risk management business.

On the advancement of women into leadership roles in financial services

I find myself able to make the biggest impact in the day-to-day: hiring based truly on skill sets and meritocracy, being gender-blind, age-blind … I know that sounds weird but, as an executive, as somebody who is doing the hiring, as somebody who’s doing the promotion, if I can just say, is this person the best person for the job? That’s more than half the game. I know that doesn’t sound very inspiring or trailblazing, but it is actually the day-to-day that makes a huge difference. Empower women, give them the job opportunity, give them the opportunity to rise to the occasion. That’s how we get there.

Check out the complete interview on FinovateTV.


Photo by Alex Azabache

https://finovate.com/innovation-in-a-risk-management-business-a-conversation-with-piermont-bank-founder-and-ceo-wendy-cai-lee/

How Arvest Bank ‘upskills’ employees

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/center-of-excellence/how-arvest-bank-upskills-employees/
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Lowell, Ark.-based Arvest Bank is leveraging support from Google Cloud to launch an internal training program for current employees as its needs for technology-focused personnel and resources grows. “We’ve been doing a whole reskilling, upskilling program,” Laura Merling, chief transformation and operations officer at Arvest Bank, told Bank Automation News, noting that its recent partnership […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/center-of-excellence/how-arvest-bank-upskills-employees/

FIS’ banking solutions revenue up 6% in Q2

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/core-cloud/fis-banking-solutions-revenue-up-6-in-q2/
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Core provider FIS increased its banking solutions revenue in the second quarter and reported a strong appetite for technology investments among financial institutions. “We’re seeing the customers continue to have high demand for banking technology solutions because they’re wanting to drive their own digital transformation,” FIS President Stephanie Ferris said today during the company’s Q2 […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/core-cloud/fis-banking-solutions-revenue-up-6-in-q2/

XBRL News from Israel, Colombia and Europe

https://dailyfintech.com/2022/08/04/xbrl-news-from-israel-colombia-and-europe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=xbrl-news-from-israel-colombia-and-europe
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Here are the three most relevant developments in the world of structured reporting we became aware of in the course of last week. 

1  First reports available as Israel gehts into the swing of Inline XBRL

2  Drawing on XBRL data to report on Colombia’s top companies

Colombia’s Superintendencia de Sociedades – or Supersociedades – the government entity that supervises commercial companies, has published its annual report on the country’s 1,000 largest companies, showing a healthy economic performance during 2021. It includes information on trends in company assets, liabilities, equity, operating income and profit and loss. 

South America doesn’t feature that often in these columns, so here’s an opportunity to partially remedy that sad state of affairs. 

3  Proof-of-concept European sustainability taxonomy available

In case you missed it, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) has released a proof-of-concept XBRL Taxonomy in support of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRSs). It provides the digital definitions needed for selected climate-related disclosure requirements, and has been developed by the EFRAG ESRS Project Task Force as to inform ongoing work on the final taxonomy. 

The next stop in the race to digital sustainability reporting …

—————————————————————

Christian Dreyer CFA is well known in Swiss Fintech circles as an expert in XBRL and financial reporting for investors.

 We have a self-imposed constraint of 3 news stories each week because we serve busy senior leaders in Fintech who need just enough information to get on with their job.

 For context on XBRL please read this introduction to our XBRL Week in 2016 and read articles tagged XBRL in our archives. 

 New readers can read 3 free articles.  To  become a member with full access to all that Daily Fintech offers,  the cost is just USD 143 a year (= USD 0.39 per day or USD 2.75 per week). For less than one cup of coffee you get a week full of caffeine for the mind.

https://dailyfintech.com/2022/08/04/xbrl-news-from-israel-colombia-and-europe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=xbrl-news-from-israel-colombia-and-europe

Q&A: How to integrate RPA at financial institutions

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/core-cloud/qa-how-to-integrate-rpa-at-financial-institutions/
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Financial institutions’ interest in robotic process automation (RPA) has increased with the improving technology. The global RPA and hyper-automation market size will grow to $26 billion by 2027 from $9.2 billion in 2022, according to a recent report from research firm Markets and Markets. RPA can help banks save on labor costs and improve operational efficiencies. However, […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/core-cloud/qa-how-to-integrate-rpa-at-financial-institutions/

OCR Labs Brings its Digital ID Verification Technology to Bloom Money

https://finovate.com/ocr-labs-brings-its-digital-id-verification-technology-to-bloom-money/
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  • London’s OCR Labs announced a partnership with Bloom Money, a company that seeks to enhance financial wellness for immigrant communities.
  • Bloom Money will leverage OCR Labs’ technology to provide biometric and document verification during its onboarding process.
  • OCR Labs won Best of Show at FinovateAsia in Hong Kong in 2017.

London-based digital ID verification innovator – and Finovate Best of Show winner – OCR Labs has teamed up with Bloom Money, a platform that is geared toward helping diaspora communities in Europe better manage their finances. Bloom Money will use OCR Labs’ technology to conduct automated biometric verification, document verification, and reauthentication during the onboarding process for new customers.

Bloom Money bases its offering on what it calls “tried and tested” methods of money management – whether they are called contributions, ajo, hagbad, or pardna – used by communities around the world. The company decided to partner with OCR Labs to help it handle the challenge of working with diverse communities with a wide variety of identity documents to be accounted for. “OCR Labs Global is the only vendor who could accurately recognize people of different ethnicities and do liveness verification,” Bloom Money co-founder Nina Mohanty explained. Mohanty reflected on her own experience with the limitations of identity verification technology, saying that OCR Lab’s ability to verify more than 16,000 documents from more than 230 countries and territories is “critical” to the service Bloom Money offers.

“Bloom Money is building an app that is going to make the management of a rotating savings club far simpler and transparent for many communities,” OCR Labs General Manager International Russ Cohn said. “At OCR Labs Global, we are also making verification simple and transparent for the businesses we partner with. We believe that proving who your customers are shouldn’t be a barrier to scale.”

Founded in 2014 and launching its first solution in 2018, OCR Labs leverages optical character recognition technology, advanced facial matching technology using liveness detection and biometric digital verification to verify identity documents and provide highly accurate authentication. The company’s technology covers more than 16,000 identity documents in more than 140 languages, and provides a face matching accuracy of 99.997%. Making its Finovate debut at our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley, in 2016, OCR Labs earned a Best of Show award a year later upon its return to the Finovate stage for FinovateAsia in Hong Kong.

OCR Labs began the year with news of an investment of $30 million in Series B funding. The funding was led by Equable Capital, a New York-based family office, and will be used to help OCR Labs expand its team in both North America and EMEA. The financing takes the company’s total funding to $46 million.


Photo by ThisIsEngineering

https://finovate.com/ocr-labs-brings-its-digital-id-verification-technology-to-bloom-money/

Warren to target bank crypto offerings in US regulator query

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/crypto-defi/warren-to-target-bank-crypto-offerings-in-us-regulator-query/
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Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren is circulating a letter among her Senate colleagues that would ask a key US bank regulator to withdraw legal guidance that has underpinned Wall Street’s foray into crypto.

Warren wants the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to pull a series of Trump-era interpretations that paved the way for banks to offer services like crypto custody for clients. The letter, a draft copy of which was reviewed by Bloomberg News, calls on the OCC to work with the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to replace them with an approach “that adequately protects consumers and the safety and soundness of the banking system.”

Warren is currently asking colleagues to sign on to the letter, and plans to soon send a final version to OCC acting head Michael Hsu, said an aide for the senator.

When asked about the draft letter on Thursday, Hsu said that he hadn’t yet seen it and that he looked forward to responding.

“I am a very strong believer that anything that comes into the banking system in crypto has to be safe, sound and fair, and we’re going to do what’s necessary in a way that’s sustainable, durable, robust,” he said in an interview at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s Sixth Annual Fintech Conference.

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job. See exhibit A: a whole bunch of stuff just happened, and the banking system is in pretty good shape, knock on wood. I think part of that is the actions we’ve taken,” Hsu added.

After several recent high-profile blowups cost investors billions of dollars, pressure has been mounting for lawmakers and regulators to clamp down on corners of the crypto market. Warren, who’s a member of the Senate Banking Committee, is among the lawmakers who have been most critical of the asset class.

“Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile assets that offer few, if any, protections to retail investors,” the letter says.

Read more: Warren Says Crypto Needs More Cops, Worries About Systemic Risks

The recent turmoil, including the collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin and bankruptcies of several digital-asset firms, has increased concern that OCC’s past actions may have exposed the banking system to “unnecessary risk,” the letter says.

The OCC under the Biden administration confirmed in November that banks can participate in certain crypto activities, but only after they’ve obtained written approval from their supervisory office. The letter says that while that updated guidance aimed to rein in risks, it didn’t go far enough to do so.

“We are concerned that the OCC has failed to properly address the shortcomings of the preceding interpretive letters and the risks associated with crypto-related banking activities, which have grown more severe in recent months,” the letter says.

While Wall Street banks have shown more interest in crypto, they’ve still remained largely on the sidelines in part due to lingering legal questions in the US.

The letter closes with a series of questions for the regulator, including asking the OCC to name the regulated banks that are currently offering crypto-related services and inquiring about the estimated total dollar volume of those activities.

— By Allyson Versprille (Bloomberg)

–With assistance from Beth Williams and Evan Weinberger (Bloomberg)

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/crypto-defi/warren-to-target-bank-crypto-offerings-in-us-regulator-query/

Insurtech capital markets: the ultimate progress indicator

https://dailyfintech.com/2022/08/04/insurtech-capital-markets-the-ultimate-progress-indicator/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=insurtech-capital-markets-the-ultimate-progress-indicator
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Last few months have seen private market investors pouring capital into promising insurtech startups, while the public markets sent the value of recently public insurtech companies lower and lower. The decline in the value of public insurtech unicorns has been an oft-repeating theme. Contrarily, global insurtech venture activity has been hitting new highs. In 2021, insurtech funding reached 566 deals (an all time high) and $15.4 billion in capital (90% gain over 2020). The learnings for investors are to rethink valuation methodologies, for insurtechs to position themselves differently prior to an IPO, and for incumbents on how to engage in their own complicated digital transformations.

Root, with a $350 million Series-E raise in 2019 and valuation of $3.6 billion, initially traded as high as $22.91 per share. Very recently, it was at $1.82 per share, or $460 million, about half the private money it raised. Lemonade saw value dwindle from all-time highs of $171.56 per share to under $30. That is the bad news. However, there are disparate insurtech models, and only few have been tested by recent IPOs. The Zebra is an example of making money by providing portals to insurance products, arguably a stronger model than trying to rebuild underwriting. Others like AgentSync, are seeing success offering infrastructure-like services. The overall picture is encouraging, not entirely to be written off.

Indications are that insurtechs selling insurance have valuations drift from tech-multiples toward insurance-multiples — a much smaller number. This impacts M&A equally, constricting pathways for startup exits. Insurtech startups closer to tech than insurance might sail through, while those that are more insurance are at risk of lower multiples.

Insurtech funding was steady in Q2’2022, at roughly $2.4 billion, close to the figure for Q1’22. This comes after a sharp downturn in Q1, with funding being less than half the $5.4 billion funding total in Q4’2021.

Private investments increased across all stages. Last year, seed funding constituted $572 million in funding, notable being employee benefit platform Healthee’s $22 million round and Spot’s $15 million.  Early-stage VC accounted for $4 billion, driven by Series A funding, notable being Bolt’s $210 million round and health insurance intermediary EasyHealth’s $135 million round. Late-stage VC funding totaled approximately $7.6 billion, driven by 27 mega-rounds worth approximately $6.2 billion.

The best minds in insurtech have spent the last few years discerning the fallacies of extant insurance business models. With the clearest of intents, they set out to obliterate the inefficiencies that have plagued this massive engine. The sheer size – 7 trillion in a 100+ trillion USD global economy – makes it a proposition that requires multitudes of stratagems, armory and tactics. Out-thinking an establishment that has withered more than three centuries of turmoil and transformation is arduous. Available capital has been lapped up by players with clear focus on turbocharging the technology implements and upending a maligned yield model. The progress till date has been commendable. Notwithstanding temporary blips, the prognosis has been of numerous advances that unlock a future full of potential. So, while the public and private markets do not concur on insurtech valuation, it stems from myopic public market sentiment, taking an immediate term perspective on performance. The private markets are more elastic and propound maxims in divergent growth areas, backed on the multiplicative effects of scalable technologies. The battle-hardy insurtechs are learning from each setback to come back stronger. Those starting anew have an edge, as they glean from insights from those before them. The onerous tasks begin at the beginning, calling for rigorous attention to the right spaces to attack, the potent metrics that will deliver, the innovation stacks that will differentiate. Importantly, there is a dire need to balance the myopic and the long-range views, so an industry glorified for understanding risks of all hues, does not falter in the very yardstick that sets it apart.

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https://dailyfintech.com/2022/08/04/insurtech-capital-markets-the-ultimate-progress-indicator/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=insurtech-capital-markets-the-ultimate-progress-indicator

Issue #375 – The Going Gets Tough

https://www.fintechweekly.com/fintech-news/issue-375-the-going-gets-tough
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https://www.fintechweekly.com/fintech-news/issue-375-the-going-gets-tough

Thoma Bravo Scoops Up Ping Identity for $2.8 Billion

https://finovate.com/thoma-bravo-scoops-up-ping-identity-for-2-8-billion/
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  • Thoma Bravo is acquiring Ping Identity in an all-cash deal for $2.8 billion.
  • The acquisition will take publicly held Ping Identity into the private markets.
  • Thoma Bravo’s other recent fintech acquisitions include Bottomline Technologies, Digital Insight, and Ellie Mae.

Cloud-based identity software provider Ping Identity has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. The all-cash deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year for $2.8 billion.

“We are pleased to partner with Thoma Bravo, which has a strong track record of investing in high-growth cloud software security businesses and supporting companies with initiatives to turbocharge innovation and open new markets,” said Ping Identity CEO Andre Durand.

Ping Identity was founded in 2002 and has since made seven acquisitions of its own, including passwordless identity verification company Singular Key, bot prevention and fraud intelligence firm SecuredTouch, intelligent authorization company Symphonic, blockchain-based identity startup ShoCard, AI-powered security company Elastic Beam, customer identity solution UnboundID, and Accells Technologies.

Ping Identity has leveraged this acquired expertise, in addition to its own in-house knowledge, to help enterprises remove passwords, prevent fraud, support Zero Trust. The company offers a no-code, drag-and-drop user interface to make its seemingly intimidating offerings more approachable for non-technical staff.

After the deal closes, Ping Identity, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of $2.38 billion, will transition to a privately held organization. Before the company’s debut onto the public markets, Ping Identity was majority-owned by Vista Equity, which now owns 9.7% of shares in the Denver, Colorado-based company.

“Ping Identity is a leader in intelligent identity solutions for the enterprise and is well-positioned to capitalize on the significant opportunities in the $50 billion Enterprise Identity security solutions area,” said Thoma Bravo Partner Chip Virnig. “Our shared commitment to growth and innovation, combined with Thoma Bravo’s significant security software investing and operational expertise, will enable Ping Identity to accelerate its cloud transformation and delivery of industry leading identity security experiences for the customers, employees and partners of large enterprises worldwide.”

Today’s purchase marks Thoma Bravo’s 91st acquisition. The firm takes a buy-and-build approach in which it acquires similar companies and consolidates them to create synergies and develop companies with greater scale, scope, and broader service offerings. Among the Illinois-based company’s most recent fintech purchases are Bottomline Technologies, Digital Insight, and Ellie Mae.


Photo by Fábio Lucas

https://finovate.com/thoma-bravo-scoops-up-ping-identity-for-2-8-billion/

Finovate Awards Finalists Unveiled: Meet the 129 Finalists Across 23 Categories

https://finovate.com/finovate-awards-finalists-unveiled-meet-the-129-finalists-across-23-categories/
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The third annual Finovate Awards ceremony is taking place next month, which means our panel of 20 judges has carved down the list of nominees in 23 categories down to just 129 finalists. As always, competition this year was steep, so the finalist title is well-earned.

Congratulations to everyone who made it to the finalist round! The winners will be announced at the 2022 Finovate Awards ceremony on September 14 at the Edison Ballroom in New York City. Register now to secure your seat or table at this year’s celebration.

Best Alternative Investments Solution

Finalists:

  • ToroAlerts
  • Concreit
  • CAIS
  • 21Shares
  • Moonfare
  • Yieldstreet
Best Back-Office/Core Services Solution

Finalists:

  • Pismo
  • Built
  • Maxwell Financial Labs
  • Coveo
  • FIS
  • Rippleshot and Fiserv
Best Consumer Lending Solution

Finalists:

  • Novo Banco
  • Tricolor
  • Wisetack
  • Upgrade
  • LendingPoint
Best Customer Experience Solution

Finalists:

  • Spire Novo Banco
  • BTG
  • UOB
  • Jack Henry
  • Bank of Montreal
  • Siam Commercial Bank
Best Digital Bank

Finalists:

  • BTG
  • UOB
  • Grasshopper
  • Oxygen
  • Oportun
Best Embedded Finance Solution

Finalists:

  • Piermont Bank
  • GlossGenius
  • Helix by Q2
  • Wise
  • Bond.ai
  • Grabango
Best Enterprise Payments Solution

Finalists:

  • Airbase
  • Xendit
  • Paystand
  • DailyPay
  • Branch
  • Modern Treasury
Best Financial Mobile App

Finalists:

  • Zenus Bank
  • Deserve
  • UOB
  • Brex
Best Fintech Accelerator/Incubator

Finalists:

  • Q2 Innovation Studio
  • BMO InnoV8
  • ING Labs RegTech Accelerator
  • BNY Mellon Accelerator Program
Best Fintech Partnership

Finalists:

  • Numerated and Five Star Bank
  • Raistone and Mastercard
  • Standard Chartered and Moneythor
  • Wildfire Systems and RBC
  • ZEscrow Development Group
  • TAB Bank and Bumped
Best ID Management Solution

Finalists:

  • Hamilton Reserve Bank
  • Jumio
  • Norbloc
  • BNY Mellon
  • Experian
  • ViewTrade
Best Insurtech Solution

Finalists:

  • Cowbell
  • Trellis
  • Spott Insurance Services
  • bolttech
  • Afficiency
  • Parametrix
Best Mobile Payments Solution

Finalists:

  • TravelBank
  • Papara
  • Relay Payments
  • BNY Mellon
  • Car IQ
  • Chipper
Best RegTech Solution

Finalists:

  • Ayasdi
  • Duality
  • ING
  • Theta Lake
  • Socure
  • Zenarate
Best SMB/SME Banking Solution

Finalists:

  • Novo Banco
  • Cora
  • Autobooks
  • QuickFi
  • Mastercard
Best Wealth Management Solution

Finalists:

  • BlockFi
  • RBC Black
  • Q.ai
  • Titan
  • Cy
Excellence in Financial Inclusion

Finalists:

  • Tricolor
  • Bond
  • Gusto
  • Lean
  • Zirtue
  • Kueski
Excellence in Sustainability

Finalists:

  • Aspiration
  • Access Softek
  • Oportun
  • Seeds Investor
Executive of the Year

Finalists:

  • Travis Holloway, SoLo Funds
  • Wendy Cai-Lee, Piermont Bank
  • Michele Romanow, Clearco
  • Dan O’Malley, Numerated
  • Chase Gilbert, Built
  • Tanya Ward, Cape
  • Prashant Fuloria, Fundbox
  • Johnny Ayers, Socure
Innovator of the Year

Finalists:

  • Reena Raichura, Glue42
  • Daniela Binatti, Pismo
  • Glenn Elliott, Practifi
  • Jason Gardner, Marqeta
  • Jesse Chenard, MonetaGo
  • Sarah Walker, RibbonHub
  • Silvana Hernandez, Mastercard
  • Stephen Mathai-Davis, Q.ai
Top Emerging Fintech Company

Finalists:

  • Gr4vy
  • Highnote
  • Justt
  • Cape
  • Imprint
  • Flock Homes
Best BNPL Solution

Finalists:

  • ChargeAfter
  • Wisetack
  • Equipifi
  • Kueski Pay
  • FIS
Excellence in Decentralized Finance

Finalists:

  • SoLo Funds
  • Conduit
  • Cion Digital
  • Amun Tokens

https://finovate.com/finovate-awards-finalists-unveiled-meet-the-129-finalists-across-23-categories/

Arvest Bank taps Google Cloud for CX

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/core-cloud/arvest-bank-leverages-google-cloud-to-improve-cx/
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Arvest Bank is kickstarting a full-scale digital transformation with a new five-year strategic partnership with Google Cloud. The tech giant is looking to speed operations for the $26 billion community bank. “[T]he faster that we can help [Arvest] get out of the traditional architecture and into a modern cloud platform, the faster you can get […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/core-cloud/arvest-bank-leverages-google-cloud-to-improve-cx/

Transactions: Banks and credit unions choose Fiserv’s Mobiliti

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/core-cloud/transactions-banks-and-credit-unions-choose-fiservs-mobiliti/
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The following banks and credit unions in June selected Mobiliti from Fiserv’s mobile banking platform, according to a report provided to Bank Automation News by banking data and analytics platform FI Navigator: $18.9 million Blue Water Federal Credit Union, based in Port Huron, Mich.; $36.3 million Sherwin Williams Employees Credit Union, based in South Holland, […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/core-cloud/transactions-banks-and-credit-unions-choose-fiservs-mobiliti/

Best of Show Winner BOND.AI Launches Embedded Finance Solutions Network for Banks and Businesses

https://finovate.com/best-of-show-winner-bond-ai-launches-embedded-finance-solutions-network-for-banks-and-businesses/
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  • Arkansas-based fintech BOND.AI recently unveiled its latest offering, The Bond Network.
  • The technology enables financial institutions and businesses to add modern financial health solutions to their platforms.
  • BOND.AI won Best of Show in its Finovate debut at FinovateFall 2018 in New York.

BOND.AI has launched The Bond Network, which leverages open banking to enable banks, credit unions, and businesses of all sizes readily access contemporary financial health solutions.

“There is nothing like The BOND Network in the market today that combines the utility of modern financial technology with the life-changing benefit of financial health,” BOND.AI CEO Uday Akkaraju said. “Our Empathy Engine and The BOND Network together will connect the dots between financial institutions and employers to get them back at the heart of peoples’ financial lives and spark a mutually prosperous relationship between them.” Akkaraju called the new offering “the next revolution in embedded finance.”

Headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas and founded in 2016, BOND.AI demonstrated its Empathy Engine at FinovateFall 2018. The technology, which consists of three components – holistic analyzer, conversational intelligence, and path automator – helps financial institutions better understand customer behavior, provides an “age-agnostic” user experience, and meets the needs of both front-end users and back office workers.

Firms partnering with The BOND Network will get access to BOND.AI’s advanced Empathy Engine, as well as a curated set of solutions from selected fintechs. Financial institutions benefit from the ability to bring greater personalization to their banking customers as well as increase profitability. BOND.AI claimed that FIs can earn “at least one percent of their asset size” in greater revenues and savings. Employers embracing the technology can use it to embed AI-enabled banking and financial solutions, which enables them to better understand the financial health of their employees and devise strategies to increase productivity, boost engagement, and keep retention high.

Unveiled in June, the initiative went live with 16 financial institutions and employers as founding members. BOND.AI anticipates that the network will have “at least 50 partners” by the end of this year.

BOND.AI has spent much of 2022 adding talent to its team. In February, the company announced that Yogesh Asudani had joined BOND.AI as Executive Vice President of Partnerships. A month later, the company announced a pair of new hires – Kent Llewelyn and Amit Dhongde – to serve as Chief Technology Officer and Head of Technology, respectively.

Speaking of partnerships, BOND.AI also in March made fintech headlines for its collaboration with earned wage access and financial inclusion specialist GoDo. The company, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, offers a mobile app and debit card to enable employers to offer their employees real-time earned wage access. GoDo CEO James Ray said that the partnership with BOND.AI and access to its Empathy Engine will provide the kind of “intelligent coaching” that is “critical in helping people improve their financial lives and for solving the financial equity issues plaguing our country.”

BOND.AI has raised $5.2 million in funding. The company’s investors include FIS and Fund for Arkansas’ Future.


Photo by Evie Shaffer

https://finovate.com/best-of-show-winner-bond-ai-launches-embedded-finance-solutions-network-for-banks-and-businesses/