Numa integrates with Google for customer messaging

The AI-powered answering service for restaurants and other businesses, Numa, now offers businesses the ability to send and receive text messages, pictures, Facebook Messenger communication and voicemail, according to a news release.

Numa’s new platform allows brands to offer a “message” button from within Google Maps and Google Search. The company said this feature allows restaurants and other businesses to not only further their conversations with customers, but also drive and improve sales, as well as customer loyalty.

“We are excited to be part of Google’s program for Business Messages,” Tasso Roumeliotis, Numa’s founder and CEO, said in the release. “We’re committed to improving customer connection with the best conversational messaging experience.”

Numa enables texting with a business phone, even if it’s a landline, allowing restaurateurs to send and receive text messages from an existing phone number and catch calls when the business can’t grab them.

“Helping businesses improve and enhance ways to communicate with their customers has always been a focus for Google,” Fei Gao, Google partnerships manager, said in the release. “We’re excited that Numa is integrating with Google’s Business Messages to meet their customers where they are, create connections that count, and respond to messages that allow program optimization.”

As an AI-powered virtual assistant and concierge platform, Numa is designed to help restaurants and other businesses communicate via text, which many customers prefer.

ClauseMatch expands compliance workflow and collaboration platform with a launch in the US

ClauseMatch grows the team in the US signing two North American clients

ClauseMatch, a compliance platform that enables compliance, legal, finance, operations and risk departments to collaborate in real-time on policy documents, has announced the launch of its US office in New York. The opening comes in response to demand from US companies and international clients operating in the US.

They include Barclays, as well as two of the largest financial organizations in the country: a publicly traded bank based in New York and one of the world’s largest investment firms. After London and Singapore, New York is the third location across the globe where ClauseMatch is represented.

Earlier this year, ClauseMatch was selected among 10 companies as part of the FinTech Innovation Lab in New York run by the Partnership Fund for New York and Accenture. The company was mentored by industry experts from top-tier banks in the US and continues to have momentum with them. On June 25th ClauseMatch graduated from the Lab bringing the expertise to the market along with its technology for effective policy management that is in demand by US banks of different size sand insurance companies.

“Technology that more efficiently facilitates compliance with regulatory requirements was a priority for the financial institutions in our FinTech Innovation Lab, who selected ClauseMatch for the 2020 class,” said Maria Gotsch, President and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City. “We’re excited that ClauseMatch is entering the U.S. market by opening an office in New York at a time when new activity and jobs are so important for our local economy.”

Unlike traditional solutions for policy management, ClauseMatch’s proprietary AI-powered document collaboration platform enables work with smart connected policy documents in real-time. Furthermore, it helps teams to map them with regulatory obligations applying machine-learning (ML) algorithms on a granular level, something that’s not available anywhere else.

At Barclays, the platform is already used by all risk and compliance departments to manage their global policies in real-time. This helped to reduce the annual policy refresh cycle by 40%, compliance reports by ClauseMatch took away 85% of manual work and every employee always has access to the latest policy in one central place from desktop, tablet, and mobile.

Evgeny Likhoded, CEO & Founder, ClauseMatch: “Our technology has found a warm welcome in the US, especially in the current climate where the entire workforce is now working from home, and organizations have to find new tools to adapt. With daily changes happening in the global arena, it is imperative to be able to adapt quickly and communicate better with employees. Through our platform, business continuity plans and disaster recovery policies could be updated and communicated to everyone in real-time, so people in compliance can work smarter and concentrate on higher-value tasks.”

Establishing a presence in the US is a strategic move as it comes at a time of uncertainty and volatility. On the one hand, the lockdown and remote work have challenged compliance teams in many ways and have had a significant impact on technology adoption in the region. And on the other, it is the latest new guidance for corporate compliance programs published by the Department of Justice (DoJ) that takes compliance program effectiveness into consideration by checking whether it is well designed, being implemented effectively and whether the program works in practice.

Rich Heller, Head of US Branch commented: “With fast-changing regulations, especially in the current crisis, risk and compliance continue to be the biggest concern for financial institutions. We see an increasing demand and appetite for the kind of technology we offer from banks of all sizes and insurance companies. It is definitely the right moment to enter and serve the North American market now.”

“North American organizations are being hammered with regulatory obligations and oversight for compliance, particularly in financial services. They need efficient, effective, and agile ways to manage regulatory obligations and governance documents such as policies. ClauseMatch’s entry into the North American market comes at the most ideal time as the U.S. Department of Justice just this month released guidance on the evaluation of compliance programs with a predominant focus on policy design, comprehensiveness, accessibility, and operational integration, these are all specific things that ClauseMatch enables and delivers upon,”Michael Rasmussen, US-based GRC expert added.

This Week in Fintech ending 3rd July 2020

this week in Fintech V3 with HT.001

This weekly summary from our 8 experts, brings you insights based on their experience as investors, entrepreneurs & executives.

To continue receiving This Week in Fintech, you can either become a paying Member for $143 per year (and receive all our content in addition to this weekly summary) by clicking here.  If you just want to receive This Week in Fintech for free, you will need to fill in this form

Your Editor is Bernard Lunn. He is also the CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy and occasional opinion columnist.

Monday Ilias Hatzis our Greece-based crypto entrepreneur (Founder & CEO at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and Weekly Columnist at Daily Fintech) @iliashatzis wrote Wirecard’s $2 billion disappearing act

On January 7th, 1918 Harry Houdini performed his “Vanishing Elephant” illusion where he was able to make a 5 ton elephant disappear before the eyes of a packed theatre in New York. But what Wirecard to pull off, even Houdini couldn’t have managed. Wirecard is a payment processor. Their mantra was simple, to build a cashless society that did not use notes or coins any more. When you go online to buy something you would give them your credit card details. They process the information, collect the money for the purchase and make sure merchant gets paid. To be honest, this is a pretty simple business and lots of companies are trying to do it. Wirecard’s promise to its investors was that they developed some of the best technology that allowed them to grow faster and make more money than their competitors. Wirecard offered their payment processing services around the world, in the countries where it didn’t have its own licenses, it would use these third parties. The money from these third parties, instead flowing into Wirecard’s account, it would sit in special escrow accounts in the Philippines. At least that’s what it told its auditors. At the end of last year Wirecard claimed it had 1.9 billion euros in cash sitting in these accounts. When EY checked with two banks in the Philippines asking about Wirecard’s account balance, the banks had no clue what they were talking about. 

Editor note: Ilias examines the implications of the Wirecard bankruptcy on the crypto debit card industry. 


Tuesday Efi Pylarinou @efipm our Swiss-based Fintech Adviser,  founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019 wrote The missing WHY of Robinhood

I had not planned to write two posts on two high growth, high valuation Fintechs in an atmosphere that has turned sour because of the demise of Wirecard and its potential domino effect. And of course, I am unhappy that such business practices have been adopted from Fintechs and especially publicly traded ones. Wirecard was part of the DAX index and was also included in several large ESG ETFs because of this[1].

Last week I wrote about my disappointment with certain business practices of the digital bank Revolut. Today I will focus on Robinhood and will make every effort not to discuss the very emotional suicide incident triggered from a very common issue with forward and option trading (i.e. position netting is delayed).

Editor note: Efi looks at another Fintech that does NOT have a positive impact on our troubled world. An addictive casino game is hardly the way to improve financial health for those with few investable assets. 

Alan Scott Managing Director EMEA at 24 Exchange @Alan_SmartMoney wrote Stablecoin News for the week ending Tuesday 30th June

This weekly snapshot is the news that matters in the Stablecoin market. Alan looks at Central Bankers turning positive on CBDCs, as a way to combat Libra.

Wednesday Jessica Ellerm @jessicaellerm, our Australia-based Fintech entrepreneur and thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy & CEO/Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia wrote New Business Banking Startup Zeller Set For Australian Launch

Business banking hasn’t had a lot of competition in Australia.

That is set to change, with news a former Square, Visa and NAB executive is set to launch a new offering for Australian SMEs, Zeller.

The business will reportedly help SMEs streamline business bank account opening, payments and cash flow management, however it will not pursue its own banking licence in the foreseeable future, taking a leaf out of local consumer neobanking startup Up.

Editor note: The Chinese word for “crisis” is frequently invoked in Western motivational speaking as being “danger-plus-opportunity”. That describes business banking today. We wish Zeller a lot of success.


Thursday Patrick Kelahan @insuranceeleph1, our US based Insurtech expert (a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners who also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’) wrote AI- hot water for insurance incumbents, or a relaxing spa?

The parable of the frog in the boiling water is well known- you know, if you put a frog into boiling water it will immediately jump out, but if you put the frog into tepid water and gradually increase the temperature of the water it will slowly boil to death.  It’s not true but it is a clever lede into the artificial intelligence evolution within insurance.  Are there insurance ‘frogs’ in danger of tepid water turning hot, and are there frogs suffering from FOHW (fear of hot water?) 

Editor note: Pat analyses an oft unspoken worry by incumbents – that AI will disrupt them more than enable them.

Thursday Christian Dreyer @x3er, our Swiss based CFA who focusses on how XBRL changes our world wrote XBRL: scrapping quarterlies, explaining AI and low latency reporting

Editor note: This weekly snapshot is the news that matters in the XBRL market. This week we note two news stories showing how XBRL could lead to the old print hangover of quarterly reporting going the way of the dinosaur


Friday Howard Tolman, a well-known banker, technologist and entrepreneur in London, wrote: Alt Lending: Asset Values Heading South

Editor note: This weekly snapshot is the news that matters in the Alt Lending market. This is Howard’s second post as News Curator, in which he focusses on how Alt Lending Fintech is being tested by the economic cycle.


To continue receiving ‘This Week in Fintech’, the weekly recap of our articles, you will need to fill this form to give us consent to send this to you. Please note that Daily Fintech requires your organizational email address (e.g. corporate, educational or government) and your LinkedIn URL. This information is required for subscribers who want ‘This Week in Fintech’ for free. If you prefer to not provide this information, you can still receive all our content by becoming a paying member.

ING provides loans to Amazon sellers
  • Amazon helps sellers to access loans of ING Germany in a convenient application process

  • Small and medium sized businesses gain access to liquidity to help them grow

  • ING Germany opens up new sales channel and lays the foundation for further growth in the customer segment “Business Banking”

ING Germany will provide eligible Amazon sellers with loans of between EUR 10,000 and 750,000 with periods of up to three years. Applications to the program are available to established sellers based in Germany who meet ING’s criteria, for example with regard to their sales history.

“Our goal is to help established sellers grow their business. More than half of the units sold on Amazon worldwide come from independent small and medium-sized businesses, and our success is deeply tied to theirs,” said Felix Kristl, Country Manager Amazon Lending Germany. “With the fresh capital, businesses can for example buy inventory to meet sales demand, fund staffing and operations, and reach more customers. Therefore, we are thrilled to help make ING Germany’s loan offering available to eligible German sellers.”

ING Germany’s loan offering to Amazon sellers opens up a new, digital sales channel for the bank to support the financing of small and medium-sized businesses. Germany’s largest direct bank has been active in commercial financing since 2018 and with this step lays the foundation to grow in the segment “business banking”. In Germany, ING is the first bank to cooperate with Amazon in financing eligible sellers on

“ING Germany stands for digital products and services that are simple, transparent and affordable. There is a growing demand from small and medium-sized enterprises for solutions of this kind”, says Nick Jue, CEO ING Germany and Head of Region Germany. “We see great potential in the cooperation with Amazon. We are convinced that our credit offer meets the requirements of Amazon sellers very well,” says Sven Foos, Head of Business Banking ING Germany.

With the program, Amazon acts as a broker and presents loan proposals to eligible sellers in Seller Central, Amazon’s seller portal. Those who are interested are then directed to ING’s website where they can submit a credit application (LINK to be inserted to Amazon Lending Page) to ING.

Resurs Bank partners with Nordic API Gateway for open banking services

Today the open banking platform Nordic API Gateway announces its latest partnership with Nordic niche bank, Resurs Bank, creating new innovative and customer-centric solutions with account aggregation and payment initiation to improve the customer experience.

With a customer base of approximately six million people across Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, Resurs Bank is the leading niche bank with extensive experience in developing flexible payment and financing solutions for both retailers and their customers.

With the banking industry in rapid transition due to modernised customer behaviour and increased competition from new types of companies, Resurs Bank believes that leveraging on the opportunities that open banking brings is crucial to keep delivering the best market solutions and stay ahead of the competition.

With access to financial data and account-to-account payments from Nordic API Gateway, Resurs Bank will be able to optimise and improve the customer experience across the Nordics.

Commenting on the partnership, Casper Wahlström, Program Manager, Strategic Office of Resurs Bank says: “Rapidly changing customer demands and increased competition is upon the banking landscape these days. PSD2 and our strategic partnership with Nordic API Gateway allow us to act now and stay ahead of the complex competition and new requirements through efficiency and innovation. The partnership is an important step for us to act even more data-driven and purposeful towards a better experience for the customers.”

Commenting on the partnership, Rune Mai, CEO & Founder of Nordic API Gateway, says: “Simplifying the process for a loan application is a wonderful example of how access to account data can help consumers get a fair assessment. We’re proud to enable Resurs Bank in building a simplified and more automated way to let consumers lend money through digital channels. Nordic API Gateway makes it a breeze for Resurs Bank to offer this solution to customers in all Nordic markets.”

Market Cap of World`s Five Largest Banks Dropped by $393.9bn in Four Months [REPORT]

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the banking system, wiping out billions of dollars in profit and market cap of even the largest financial institutions.

According to data gathered by BuyShares, the market capitalization of the world’s five leading banks dropped by $393.9bn from December 2019 to April 2020. As the largest financial institution in the world, the US megabank JP Morgan Chase has taken the hardest hit, with the market cap decreasing by $128.71bn in four months.

Three Largest US Banks Lost $345.3bn in Market Cap

JP Morgan’s quarterly earnings hit a record high at the end of the last year, driven by the bond trading revenue, which surged 86% to $3.4bn value. The investment banking revenues were also booming in the fourth quarter, increasing more than 30% year-on-year.

In December 2019, the market capitalization of the US megabank reached $437.2bn, revealed Statista data. However, with financial markets tanking and merger and acquisition drying up in the first months of 2020, this value dropped to $356.9bn by the end of February. The coronavirus outbreak brought a new hit, causing the market cap of the largest bank in the world to plunge to $274.28bn in March. Although April brought a recovery with the market cap rising to $308.49bn, statistics indicate this value still represents a $48bn plunge compared to December figures.

As the second-largest bank globally, Bank of America has also witnessed a significant drop in the market cap in the last few months. In December 2019, the US multinational investment bank saw its market cap reaching $316.8bn value. By the end of the first quarter of 2020, this figure dropped to $185.23bn, a 40% plunge in three months. Statistics show that by the end of April, the market cap value slightly recovered and reached $208.65.

Wells Fargo lost $108.5bn in market cap in four months, falling from $227.5bn in December 2019 to $119bn in April 2020. Statista data revealed that the combined market cap of the three largest banks in the United States dropped by $345.3bn during this period.

Market Cap of Leading Chinese Banks Dropped by $48.6bn

Statistics show that the market capitalization of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), as the third-largest financial institution globally, dropped by $30.47bn, falling from $267.3bn in December 2019 to $236.83bn in April 2020.

As the second-largest bank in the country and the fifth-largest globally, China Construction Bank has also witnessed a drop in the market cap value. In December 2019, the Chinese financial corporation reached $216.26bn in market capitalization. By the end of January 2020, this figure fell to $188.88bn. However, the last few months have witnessed a recovery with the market cap reaching $198.13bn in April. Statistics show that the two largest Chinese banks lost $48.6bn in combined market capitalization between December 2019 and April 2020.

The full story can be read here.

UK response to Wirecard insolvency highlights the importance of operational resilience

The Financial Conduct Authority’s decision to temporarily curtail Wirecard’s UK business had a knock-on effect for the fintech firms which rely on its services. As those firms sought to resume services as quickly as possible, there are lessons to be learned for the fintech sector and its approach to operational resilience.

The FCA’s immediate response to Wirecard

The news of German payments provider Wirecard entering into insolvency proceedings in the wake of a €1.9bn alleged accounting fraud has shaken the European fintech industry.

In the UK the FCA temporarily imposed restrictions on Wirecard’s UK subsidiary, a regulated payment institution which issues e-money onto prepaid cards. These restrictions meant that Wirecard Card Solutions Limited (Wirecard UK):

  • must not dispose of any assets or funds
  • must not carry on any regulated activities
  • must set out a statement on its website and communicate to customers that it is no longer permitted to conduct any regulated activities.

In a statement, the FCA said that its primary objective is to “protect the interests and money of consumers who use Wirecard”. This action has come soon after the FCA consulted on new guidance for payments firms on safeguarding customer money.

Certain of the requirements imposed have since been lifted, subject to close monitoring, allowing Wirecard UK to resume regulated activity, issuing e-money and providing payment services.

Impact on wider fintech industry

Several UK fintech firms rely on Wirecard UK’s services for operational support, as they use Wirecard UK’s technology to issue prepaid cards and process payments. For the period that Wirecard UK was unable to perform regulated payment activities, these fintechs were unable to access those Wirecard services. As a result, they were having to restrict the services they provided to their customers.

Some fintechs had to tell their customers that their accounts were temporarily inaccessible. Others were able to find workarounds and/or switch to alternative providers. The Department for Work and Pensions set up a dedicated team to assist individuals who could no longer receive their benefits payments through apps or cards associated with Wirecard.

Regulatory focus on operational resilience

The Wirecard incident has shone another light on the sorts of events which require appropriate operational resilience planning and procedures. Business disruption, like that caused by the failure of a third party provider, is inevitable. This is a view shared by the UK regulators who are currently consulting on new rules aimed at improving the resilience of firms across financial services. The FCA’s statement on Wirecard UK specifically mentions this consultation, as well as the EBA Guidelines on Outsourcing Arrangements which apply to e-money and payment firms.

Not all fintech firms would be subject to the FCA’s proposed operational resilience rules, but those caught would (among other things) need to:

  • identify their important business services and the people, processes, technology, facilities and information that support them
  • set impact tolerances for each important business service
  • test their ability to remain within those impact tolerances through a range of severe but plausible disruption scenarios.

As increasingly critical players in the financial services ecosystem, fintechs need to be mindful of this regulatory focus on outsourcing and operational resilience. Mapping the various elements on which their businesses rely is an important aspect. But, as recent days have shown, swift and effective communications plans can be equally important to mitigate harm at times of operational disruption.

What happens next?

In the short term, the FCA continues to monitor Wirecard UK’s activities and to work with them to progress matters relating to the remaining requirements. Affected firms are continuing to address the disruption to their customers and can expect to receive follow-up communications from the FCA.

In the longer term, fintech firms can expect to face increased scrutiny in relation to both their operational and financial affairs. Firms may look to learn from this incident and re-evaluate their responses to the FCA’s proposed operational resilience rules as a result.

It remains to be seen whether there will be a wider impact on industry confidence and future investment in the sector.

Alt Lending: Asset Values Heading South

Alt Lending Image.001On Friday 27th June the retail property site Intu went into administration  and Doorstep lender NSF issued a warning that it would need an injection of funds from its shareholders to continue as a  going concern. On Saturday 28th.  Sunny Loans one of the biggest payday lenders in the UK said it was on the brink of administration. Not bad for one weekend. At the same time the ex governor of the Bank of England was giving his, slightly disturbing, longer term view about the state of Western economies. All of these stories have at least one common thread running between them which is the rapid deterioration of asset values and credit risk right across the board. Under the circumstances I decided to focus this week’s stories on the deteriorating financial situation.

Here is our pick of the 3 most important Alt Lending news stories during the week:

1. Covid debt timebomb could trigger new financial crisis, warns Mervyn King

“The world is facing a coronavirus debt timebomb as countries borrow trillions of pounds to fight the pandemic, former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has warned.”

Why this matters : –  This was economist Liam Halligan interviewing ex Bank of England CEO Mervyn King. As this weeks stories are all about the rapid decline in asset quality Mr. King’s views really ought to be listened to.  While he concentrates on the integrity of the banking sector he sees the risk of multiple defaults by big business and even sovereign borrowers as a real risk. What goes for the banking sector is even more pertinent to the Alt lending field. While he takes the view that the UK and the US banking sectors are currently reasonably robust he has serious concerns about the Eurozone which is now “utterly dependent on the ECB” . He also thinks that there is no democratic support for fiscal union across Europe. Hence the strength of the glue holding the Euro together is going to be tested. If the Euro broke up of course then we would definitely be in uncharted waters and all bets would be off. As far as Fintech lending platforms are concerned  these are interesting times. Most of the lenders have appeared since the funding crises following the US subprime problems. They have therefore not experienced the full cycle. They are about to find out that getting money back is a lot more difficult than dolling it out.

2. Shopping centre giant Intu on brink of administration

“The owner of some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, Intu, has warned that it is likely to call in administrators.

The firm, which owns the Trafford Centre, the Lakeside complex, and Braehead, said it had not reached an agreement in financial restructuring talks with its lenders.”

Why this matters:  Intu is a great example of how problems in the retail sector are manifesting themselves in the financial arena. Intu owns some 17 major retailing hubs around the UK including Lakeside in Essex and the Trafford Centre in Manchester.   Traditional retail was already suffering largely from the impact of online sales and then along came COVID 19 and the shutdown. Analysts think that rentals received by Intu from its clients have received just 18% of rentals from its tenants from the last quarter.  Discussions with creditors broke down over a principal repayment holiday Intu built its portfolio largely on debt and there are some £ 4.7 million worth of listed bonds outstanding will continue to operate independently. Some of the stronger performers in the portfolio will be sold but government rules on evictions in the pandemic will leave any purchaser with little wriggle room going forward. Moody’s cited the fact that COVID 19 had altered the whole of the European Retail sector and made it far more challenging. This is not just affecting the giants of the business like Intu but will filter down to any property company with retail assets. A new price discovery cycle is going to begin and some lenders and investors look likely to get their fingers burned.

3. Covid pressure pushes Sunny Loans to brink of administration

One of the UK’s biggest payday lenders is on the brink of administration as a regulatory clampdown continues to shake up the sector.

Elevate Credit International – which trades as Sunny Loans – filed notice of intent to appoint administrators last week.

Why this matters: Low level financial service providers are once more caught in the crosshairs of COVID 19 and punitive regulation. Sunny Loans, the business name of Texas based company Elevate Credit international is one of the UK’s biggest payday lenders controlling one fifth of the market. The loans are small and made to individuals to tide them over until payday comes. This is a big market and two of its competitors have recently failed.  Unsurprisingly a whole lot of people who do not work for the government or who are not entitled for one reason or another to government assistance are feeling the pinch and do not have the money to make repayments. Nevertheless these companies do provide a valuable service to a deprived sector of the population. The alternatives are loan sharks and that is a really unacceptable face of capitalism.


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. 


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

Open Banking has arrived and is here to stay but how should banks take charge?

The imminent arrival of Open Banking is scheduled for rollout across Australia’s top four banks this July with other financial institutions to follow their lead in November.

By July 2021, every bank in Australia needs to be Open Banking ready and able to provide access to product, account and transaction data for personal loan and other accounts. The passing of Australia’s Open Banking legislation will enable consumers in the future, the authority to direct banks to share their credit and debit card, deposit account and transaction account data with accredited third-party providers.

With Open Banking’s disruption to the financial services landscape, Australian Bank’s should pay close attention to what they can learn from their counterparts in the UK, where Open Banking is already in the market. Open Banking will bring with it opportunities for the market to capitalise on, however this will require banks to focus and invest strategically – to not only meet regulatory compliance, but also educate their customers on the advantages and ensuring their digital online and mobile platforms are ready for the July 2021 deadline.

Will Australia reap the benefits and learn from the UK experience?

The low adoption rates in the UK around Open Banking has resulted in only 15% of banks registered on the UK Open Banking directory. This lack of interest can be attributed to several different factors, however the three main drivers have been regulation, complexity and fear.

It is no secret this digital disruption and transformation is a complex and costly exercise. Banks are having to upskill and invest in technologies that will require significant investment to install necessary infrastructure and support processes.

Unlike the UK, Australian banks and financial institutions should seek to initiate Open Banking focussing on unlocking the potential benefits which include:

  • Increased operational efficiencies
  • Cost savings
  • The creation of digital revenue streams
  • Utilising existing software to create new innovative services – Enhanced customer experience

With these opportunities on offer and the competitive landscape that will introduce new players amongst Financial Institutions and industries such as education and utilities. Banks can either embrace Open Banking taking advantages of the opportunities laid out before them, or choose to look at Open Banking as a burden and focus only on meeting regulation and compliance standards set out by the government and the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC), resulting in missed opportunities.

Dom Monty, GM of Digital Banking, Sandstone Technology comments:

“The impact of Covid-19 globally has also resulted in poor financial well-being of so many people dramatically which is only likely to increase. This emphasises the importance of Open Banking adoption for banks to leverage its capabilities and to address current systems which are ill equipped to help consumers effectively manage their financials.

Furthermore, Australian banks and their Open Banking initiatives will be navigating in a landscape post Covid-19 and whilst consumers may not understand or really care about Open Banking, it presents an opportunity for banks to lead and join forces with new entrant competitors for all to benefit. The result, to enable consumers with their everyday money management to achieve greater control, improved financial freedom and well- being”

As the term Open Banking is now so closely attached to regulation, it is perhaps no longer appropriate to be used as a description for a bank digitising their business. Perhaps a more appropriate term would be ‘Banking as a Service’ (BaaS) which some organisations have started to do. The expectations set around Open Banking to create a marketplace for financial products, drive innovation and improve customer experience will ultimately depend on how Australian banks and financial institutions approach this new way of handling data.

Digital Driver’s License Service Now Available in Korea through Identity Authentication App PASS

SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM), together with KT and LG Uplus, today launched a digital driver’s license service on PASS*, an identity authentication app provided by the three mobile carriers.

*Launched in July 2018, PASS currently has 30 million subscribers and is mainly used for authentication in mobile financial transactions.

Developed jointly by the three mobile carriers, the Korean National Police Agency and the Road Traffic Authority (KoRoad), the digital driver’s license marks the first case where a digital version of an official identification is used as a legally acceptable form of identity verification.

Subscribers of PASS can register their driver’s license on the app through a verification and encryption process. Users can only use one smartphone registered under their own names.

To confirm the authenticity of the information on the driver’s license and block attempts to register counterfeit driver’s license, the three mobile carriers connected their identity authentication servers to the Korean National Police Agency’s driver’s license system and applied blockchain technology.

For identity verification, the app will show the user’s photo on his/her driver’s license along with a QR code and barcode. To prevent theft or illegal use of identity information, the codes are automatically refreshed and come with a floating animation layer.

The new digital driver’s license service is applied to all stores of convenient store chains CU and GS25. For instance, the digital driver’s license can be used to verify age at convenient stores for the purchase of age-limited goods such as alcohol and cigarettes.

In addition, from July 2020, the digital driver’s license will be used for reissuance and renewal of a driver’s license, as well as issuance of a driver’s license in English at 27 Driver’s License Examination Offices located throughout Korea.

The Korean National Police Agency is reviewing plans to apply the digital driver’s license service to police work that involves identity verification such as a check by traffic police. Moreover, the three mobile carriers are in talks with companies in the car rental and shared mobility industries to adopt the digital driver’s license to facilitate non-face-to-face services.

“We are delighted to launch the digital driver’s license service, which will provide users with greater security and convenience,” said Oh Se-hyeon, Vice President and Head of Blockchain/Authentication Office at SK Telecom. “Going forward, we will work closely with diverse institutions and enterprises to promote its use in non-face-to-face services, which have surged since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The Korean National Police Agency will make concerted efforts with the three Korean mobile carriers to boost the usage of the digital driver’s license service, which can help address social problems caused by theft or illegal use of driver’s license,” said Min Gap-ryong, commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency.

Venmo Helps Micro-Businesses Accept Payments For Free (For Now)

Micro-businesses, such as sole proprietors and gig workers, are an underserved group when it comes to financial management tools.

Seeing this need, and recognizing that more than 75% of small businesses in the U.S. are sole proprietors, Braintree-owned Venmo is releasing a new set of tools to help them connect, market, and grow their business.

“Venmo was designed to be a place where friends and family can send, split and share purchases and experiences. Today, we are introducing a very limited pilot to extend that experience to allow sellers to access the benefits of Venmo’s platform through Business Profiles,” the company announced in a blog post.

Currently in a pilot phase, Business Profiles allow consumers to create a business profile (separate from their personal profile) on Venmo in order to accept payment for goods and services. Business users can also tap into Venmo’s community of 52+ million users to generate interest, referrals, and awareness of their brand.

At launch, Venmo will not charge businesses transaction fees. This is likely because the company recognizes that the micro-businesses it is targeting already use its P2P money transfer service to accept payments for their business. Venmo cautioned that it will eventually charge a per-transaction fee of 1.9% + $0.10, but did not mention when it will begin charging the fees.

Venmo’s Business Profiles launch today to a limited number of iOS users on an invite-only basis and will be available for Android users “in the coming weeks. The company plans to make the new service more widely available “in the coming months.”

Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash

solarisBank Raises $67 Million; More MENA Fintech; What’s Next for Wirecard

Berlin, Germany-based “tech company with a banking license” solarisBank has secured $67 million in funding (€60 million). The Series C round was led by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and Storm Ventures, and featured participation from a wide number of investors including BBVA, ABN Amro, SBI Group, Global Brain, Hegus, and Lakestar. Also participating in the oversubscribed round were Vulcan Capital and Samsung Catalyst Fund.

The investment takes the company’s total funding to more than $180 million (€160 million), and will be used to help fuel Solarisbank’s continued expansion throughout Europe. Since 2017, the company has doubled its revenues every year, and grown its product portfolio to include solutions like decoupled debit cards and post-purchase installment products. With more than 400,000 end-customer accounts as of the end of the first half of 2020, the company also announced that it will expand its operations in the cryptocurrency space via its subsidiary solaris Digital Assets.

“solarisBank is continuing its impressive growth and the current financing round will help us to expedite building a pan-European platform,” solarisBank CEO Dr. Roland Folz said in a statement. He added, “We are the leading platform for Banking-as-a-Service in Europe and are excited that this exceptional group of new investors will now be a part of our journey.”

More on MENA Fintech

Last week we reported on a study that highlighted the fintech innovations that were most likely to drive financial inclusion in the MENA region. This week we note another report on fintech in the Middle East and Northern Africa, this time from Deloitte, which noted a growing appetite for fintech solutions from the region’s banking customers.

At the same time, Deloitte Digital’s Middle East FinTech Study, released in June, cautioned that further fintech development in the region faces challenges with regard to financing, and a wariness from traditional banks toward engaging fintechs. The latter issue in particular reflects what the report authors – Rushdi Duqah and Anthony Yazitzis – call “a certain degree of contradiction and dichotomy.”

“Customer behavior across the Middle East, especially in KSA, is characterized by a willingness to adopt innovative solutions offered by banks,” Duqah and Yazitzis observed. The two highlighted P2P money transfers, account aggregation, and roboadvisory as three such areas. “However, banks are not leveraging the full suite of FinTech solutions/features to address customer’s needs and requirements to enhance the daily banking journey and experience,” they wrote.

Read the full report to see how “harmonization and trust” are the path forward for financial services companies, fintechs, and banks in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

What’s Next for Wirecard?

We reported on the crisis facing Germany’s Wirecard two weeks ago in Finovate Global. Company CEO Markus Braun stepped down amid reports that Wirecard could not account for $2.1 billion in cash, and concerns that the company was “the victim of fraud of considerable proportions.”

This week we learned that Braun has been arrested – though since released on bail – and that Deutsche Bank has engaged with the now-bankrupt company and is considering providing financial support. A report in Bloomberg noted that Deutsche Bank had conducted talks with Wirecard last spring (referred to as “preliminary discussions” that were quickly concluded) and that, despite its woes, Wirecard could be a potentially attractive acquisition target thanks to its partnerships with Visa, Mastercard, and JCB International.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Billed as “the grand fintech consolidation,” TechCabal takes a look at MFS Africa’s purchase of SME digital payments provider Beyonic.
  • Nigerian fintech Wallets Africa locks in new funding from investors including Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel.
  • The East African makes the case for Kenya as a top destination for venture capital in Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Top banking-as-a-service platform solarisBank raises $67 million (€ 60 million) in Series C funding.
  • Electronic payment network Paysera expands to Kosovo.
  • Azerbaijan’s Xalq Bank launches Compass Plus’ open development platform, TranzAxis.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Digital property management and rent collection platform Ajar earns UAE’s Most Trusted Fintech in 2020 honors from APAC Business Headlines.
  • UAE’s central bank and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) announce the start of their annual Fintech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge for fintechs developing solutions for local small businesses.
  • Dubai’s Mamo Pay earns spot in Visa’s Finech Fast Track Program.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Transfast, a U.S.-based cross-border payments company, partners with Pakistan’s Habib Bank to enable money transfers to Pakistan.
  • Bangalore, India-based fintech Zeta announces expansion into Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Indian gold lending startup, Rupeek, unveils zero contact gold loan kiosks to support touchless financing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican fintech ePesos announces $21 million debt financing round with Accial Capital.
  • BizCapital, a lending startup based in Brazil, raises $12 million in funding thanks to an investment from Germany development finance institution, DEG.
  • Credit Suisse buys 35% of Brazilian digital bank modalmais.


  • Myanmar Citizens Bank (MCB Bank) issues MPU-JCB co-branded debit cards.
  • Razer’s fintech arm, Razer Fintech launches new initiative to support local businesses in Malaysia during the global health care crisis of COVID-19.
  • KrASIA profiles Indonesian fintech Akulaku, which offers online credit, wealth management, and digital banking services in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

Eurozone banks form payments group to take on Visa, Mastercard

A group of 16 Eurozone banks have launched a plan to create pan-European payments system called the European Payments Initiative, which will offer consumers and merchants a new regime that includes digital wallets and P2P payments.

The founding banks come from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and plan to offer a system that leverages Instant Payments/SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (European real-time payments system) and will allow in-store, online, P2P, cash withdrawal as well as international payment schemes. The plan is widely seen as a plan to take on the payments landscape dominated by Visa and Mastercard.

“The initiative will reinforce competition in the payment services market, currently dominated by a few big international operators/schemes,” Carmen Alvarez Diez, a spokesperson for BBVA, in Spain, told Mobile Payments Today via email. “The COVID-19 crisis has confirmed the need for digital payments solutions in Europe. Therefore EPI’s wallet solution offering cards and digital SCT Inst would be ideally positioned offering hence the choice to clients.”

Erik Tak, global head, ING Payment Center, said that local payment systems like Ideal in the Netherlands, offer a series of fragmented payment methods for mobile and e-commerce, but noted the need for a more unified system that can support cross-border payments.

“We believe that the ongoing investments in a pan-European Instant Payments infrastructure that is able to process payments in seconds, 24/7/365 is an ideal basis to build a cheap, fast and efficient payments solution for P2P, e/m commerce as well as POS payments,” he told Mobile Payment Today via email.

The plan calls for the creation of an interim company that will be based in Brussels, Belgium and additional banks and third-party payment service providers would be eligible to apply to join the group before the end of 2020 as founding members. The payments plan is scheduled to officially launch by 2022.

The 16 initial member banks include BBVA, BNP Paribas, Groupe BPCE, Caixabank, Commerzbank, Credit Agricole, Credit Mutuel, Deutsche Bank, Deutscher Sparkassen und Giroverband, DZ Bank, ING, KBC, La Banque Postale, Santander, Societe Generale and UniCredit.

Affirm rides savings account momentum

Share Point-of-sale lender Affirm is gaining traction with its newly launched savings product, Chief Capital Officer Geoff Kott told Bank Innovation.  “Americans are saving at a historic rate,” Kott said, adding the direct-to-consumer lender is tapping into the trend with “a natural extension of our [POS] product offering.”  Affirm Savings, which launched in early June, is seeing “north of 30%” …Read More

Start Your Free Week Trial Today!

Subscribe now to start your free trial and continue reading. Just $5 per week after.*

Keep Reading

*Option to choose between monthly and annual billing.

Already subscribed? Log in below.

Jack Henry, NuData beef up security with behavioral analytics

Share Core technology provider Jack Henry is upgrading its security measures for banking clients. The Monett, Mo.-based company this week announced it is partnering with NuData Security to provide more robust measures to identify fraudulent online banking users. “We already detect some levels of anomalous traffic and block that,” said Chad Killingsworth, software engineering director …Read More

Start Your Free Week Trial Today!

Subscribe now to start your free trial and continue reading. Just $5 per week after.*

Keep Reading

*Option to choose between monthly and annual billing.

Already subscribed? Log in below.

ING collaborates with Minna Technologies to launch a new subscription management service

ING Belgium has entered a partnership with Minna Technologies. The two companies will work together to launch a new digital banking service, allowing the bank’s customers to manage their subscription services
without leaving the bank’s digital channel.

Today Minna Technologies announces a new partnership with ING Belgium, one of the leading banks in Belgium with more than 1.8 million digital banking customers.

The partnership is a continuation of Minna Technologies’ participation in ING Labs Brussels program 2019, the former FinTech Village, where the two companies successfully completed a proof of concept (POC) that demonstrated the value of subscription management in the Benelux region.

With the new subscription management service, the bank’s customers will get a clear overview of all active subscriptions. The service also allows customers to cancel existing subscriptions, as well as improving them by switching to better alternatives.

Olivier Guillaumond, Global Head of ING Labs & Fintech’s, said: “We are delighted to announce the collaboration with Minna Technologies. This is a clear example of impactful Fintech partnerships that we aim to scale within ING. It will offer a differentiating experience to our customers allowing them to have a better insight into their subscriptions and save millions of euros via cancellation and fully automated switching services. This partnership is yet another great outcome for ING Labs Brussels. ING Labs Brussels is a special purpose vehicle concentrating on validating proof of concepts with mature fintech’s to bring maximum value for our clients so they can stay a step ahead in their lives. It covers all value spaces primarily for Belgium and the Netherlands with the potential to expand to other countries”.

Joakim Sjöblom, CEO, Minna Technologies, said: “We are beyond excited to partner with such a forward-leaning bank as ING. We have been very impressed by their innovation speed, and look forward to delivering new values to their digital banking customers. Given ING’s multinational presence, we have a great opportunity to help millions of customers in these uncertain times”.

Fintech News Issue #274

FinTech Weekly is © 2020 and published by the
Railslove GmbH

An der Bottmühle 5
50678 Cologne


Registergericht: Amtsgericht Köln, HRB 70843

Geschäftsführer: Jan Kus, Tim Schneider

Inhaltlich Verantwortlich gemäß TMG und Paragraph 55 Abs. 2 RStV: Railslove GmbH (Anschrift wie oben)

Haftungshinweis: Trotz sorgfältiger inhaltlicher Kontrolle übernehmen wir keine Haftung für die Inhalte externer Links. Für den Inhalt der verlinkten Seiten sind ausschließlich deren Betreiber verantwortlich.

Behind the Idea: OakNorth

When COVID-19 first began to emerge in January 2020, the first step that OakNorth took was to look at the potential for international supply chain disruption. The European fintech unicorn developed its own “COVID Vulnerability Rating” (CVR) Framework, which integrates over 130 proprietary subsector-specific COVID-19 stress scenarios with regional overlays, incorporating assumptions for impacts on key financial metrics such as revenue, operating costs, working capital and CapEx.

The Framework enables commercial lenders to re-underwrite loans and brings consistency to their credit approach through the crisis, running risk analysis on a consistent basis, and since the start of the year, has analysed around $400bn of loans.

Rishi Khosla OBE is the Co-founder and CEO of OakNorth

Rishi Khosla OBE, is the Co-founder and CEO of OakNorth. Prior to this, he co-founded Copal Amba, a financial research firm that was scaled to 3,000 employees and sold to Moody’s Corporation in 2014. He is also an early-stage investor in Paypal and Indiabulls. Known for building the fastest-growing business in Europe and one of the world’s only profitable fintech “unicorns”.

What has been the traditional OakNorth response to financial technology innovations?

OakNorth combines a deep understanding of credit, rich data sets (which include unconventional and previously unavailable data), cloud computing, and state of the art machine learning, to provide its bank partners with the insight and foresight they need to holistically and profitably lend to the Missing. The operating efficiencies realised through the OakNorth Platform allow banks’ relationship managers to focus more time with borrowers, having received insight on those borrowers and their sector.

Through 360-degree monitoring of borrowers’ financial and operational data, the Platform provides banks with early warning indicators in case of deterioration in credit quality, enabling it to have preliminary conversations with borrowers before negative credit issues arise – something that will prove invaluable during the economic recovery that will follow after the COVID-19 crisis abates. 

How has this changed over the past few years?

It hasn’t – our approach was always to build a Platform and prove it within our own bank before we begin licensing it to other lenders. That’s what we’ve done – we’ve built OakNorth Bank in the UK which today ranks within the top 1% of banks globally in terms of performance, and that gives us a great proof of concept for the Platform.

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

We’re a very mission-driven and values-driven company. Like any fast-growing company, it’s an environment that is very intense and high-pressured, but it’s also fun, rewarding, collaborative and open.

We’re fortunate to continue to attract some of the most ambitious and talented people from across industries who also share our values. Those values are working together as One Team to deliver products and services to our customers that are ‘10X’ better than the competition and deliver ‘Customer Delight’, ensuring that we put energy and momentum into everything we do.

We’re not afraid to ‘Say it how it is’ or zero-base the way things have always been done. Joel and I have said numerous times that we want to continue building this business for the next few decades. We are not looking for a quick exit. This reflects our final value of ‘Right Ambition’, and one that is shared by our team. Almost half of our employees have taken the opportunity to become shareholders in the business, investing their own money and in doing so, helping to build for the long term.

What FinTech ideas have been implemented?
One of the largest banks in the US, PNC, is deploying OakNorth’s CVR Framework across its C&I and CRE portfolio, mapping individual borrowers to 130 domains. PNC and OakNorth will run portfolio diagnostics on a periodic basis to factor the rapidly evolving scenarios of COVID-19 across subsectors and regions.

What benefits have these brought?
The OakNorth Platform enables the lenders we work with to have fundamentally different conversations and engage with their borrowers in a dramatically different way. It brings credit insight about borrowers’ businesses back to the front line, democratising this knowledge so that lenders have a deeper understanding of the individual business, its industry and its sub-sector. As a result, they have more relevant and thoughtful conversations with the business owner and can build much more meaningful relationships with them.

However, the Platform doesn’t only assist them with credit analysis and data optimisation, it also aids in portfolio monitoring. By proactively monitoring clients’ financial and operational data, it is able to provide early warning indicators in case of deterioration in credit quality, enabling the lenders we partner with to have preliminary conversations with their borrowers, well before a negative credit issue arises – thus leading to more positive credit outcomes.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

Businesses need liquidity to overcome the challenges being presented by COVID-19 and get back on their feet when the recovery begins. They are looking to banks and lenders to support them in this crucial period – either directly, or through Government loan programs.

However, given the unprecedented scale and dynamics of this crisis, trying to assess credit risk based on previous risk ratings doesn’t make sense as all previous correlations are broken. As a result, lenders need to be able to:

  • Reassess credit risk based on forward-looking scenarios which factor in the impact that COVID-19 is having on businesses and then follow through on these stress scenarios on a granular, loan-by-loan basis, rather than just at the portfolio level;
  • Monitor all credits more closely as sectors have become more volatile post-COVID-19, and;
  • Re-underwrite these loans at depth and bring consistency to their credit approach through the crisis, running risk analysis on a consistent basis.

Can these challenges be aided by FinTech?
Absolutely. We’re helping lenders address this challenge via our “COVID Vulnerability Rating” (CVR) Framework, which helps them undertake portfolio diagnostics to rate loans from 1-5 based on their vulnerability to the new economic environment, with 1 being least vulnerable, and 5 being most vulnerable. The ratings are based on multiple factors including liquidity, debt capacity, funding gap and profitability, and can be dynamically customized to reflect the lender’s credit risk criteria and appetite.

Final thoughts?

Credit insights will play a huge part in the COVID-19 recovery. Instead of wasting time on the things that don’t matter, it allows banks to be able to spend more time on the things that do – such as structuring a loan for the borrower’s needs in the time frame they need it, as well as exploring cross-selling opportunities

  • 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.

DigniFi raises $14M , buys $275M in assets to grow auto repair finance

DigniFi, an app-based platform for financing auto repair, has raised $14 million in Series A funding from Austin, Texas-based BuildGroup and Exor Seeds, the venture arm of Exor N.V., which is the holding company of the Agnelli family, the controlling shareholders of Fiat Chrysler.

DigniFi also signed an agreement with Neuberger Berman Private Equity to buy $275 million in assets, which will allow it to grow its network of 5,000 auto service centers.

“After months of financial uncertainty, Americans are eager to get back to work and many will need their cars in working order to do that,” Rick Counihan, CEO of DigniFi, said in a company release. “Our network of auto service centers has grown by 500 locations over the last 90 days, spurred by this rising demand.”

HighRadius opens Frankfurt office to continue European expansion

HighRadius Corp., a fintech that automates accounts receivable and treasury management businesses, has opened a new office in Frankfurt, Germany, continuing its international expansion.

The Houston-based company originally expanded into Europe in 2017 when it opened a London office and opened an Amsterdam location in 2019. HighRadius officials said the firm has grown bookings in the region by more than 250%, added 25 new customers and quadrupled the number of employees in the region over the past 12 months.

“Frankfurt’s position in central Germany makes other parts of the country readily accessible, and its status as the financial center of the country opens up a gateway to a deep pool of talent and relevant partnerships,” Jon Keating, vice president and general manager, EMEA at High Radius, said in a company release.

The Frankfurt location follows a new $125 million funding round announced in January.

The company sees Germany, Switzerland and Austria as major market opportunities. The company plans to staff the Frankfurt office with pre-sales, sales, marketing and consulting teams.