Investors Confident in Cryptocurrency Future

Voyager Digital’s Q3 2021 Retail Investor Sentiment Survey shows that investor sentiment towards crypto assets is increasingly positive when looking ahead to Q4.

Such bullish sentiment comes despite Bitcoin continuing to stay below its all-time high of $64,863 in April, and Q3 2021 being a period that has seen increased regulatory scrutiny around the cryptocurrency industry.

With the price of Bitcoin dropping as low as $29,000 during the latest price correction in June and July, the majority of investors (8 out of 10) believe Bitcoin will be above $56,000 in the next quarter, with 40% expecting the price to be above $71,000 at some point in Q4 2021. This is a higher proportion of respondents than in the previous quarterly survey when the majority of investors thought Bitcoin would finish Q3 between $56,000-$70,000.

Key survey findings:

  •  96% say that they are more confident in the future of cryptocurrency compared to 81% in the previous quarter.
  • 89% of investors plan to increase their Bitcoin or crypto holdings over the next quarter, higher than in the previous survey (87%).
  • Bullish sentiment for the price of Bitcoin over the next 3 months has increased to 8 out of 10 from 7 out of 10 in last quarter’s survey (1 being the most bearish and 10 being the most bullish).
  • 85% of respondents believe Bitcoin is currently in a bull market.
  • 8 out of 10 believe Bitcoin will be above $56,000 by the end of the year, with 4 out of 10 believing the price will be greater than $71,000.
  • Nearly half (48%) see Bitcoin as a better store of value compared to other assets such as real estate and equities.

Steve Ehrlich, CEO of Voyager had the following comments to make from the findings:

“On almost every metric we measure in our sentiment survey, crypto-asset investors are more bullish about the quarter that lies ahead, than they were three months ago. As our user base continues to grow and digital asset adoption increases, our survey results suggest that a greater number of investors see Bitcoin as a better store of value compared to more traditional asset classes such as stocks, real estate, and government bonds. This is significant when you consider that over a fifth (22%) of respondents have been investing in crypto for over 2 years. You could argue that these investors are now ‘all-in’ on crypto and will probably never think twice about having exposure to traditional asset classes ever again.

“It is also interesting to see Cardano keep its crown as the altcoin that investors are most bullish on. With the network’s addition of smart contracts following their Alonzo upgrade, it seems the future looks bright for Cardano’s future adoption and growth.”

Visa Finds 88% of UAE SMBs are Optimistic About the Future of Their Business

Visa has announced it has helped to digitally-enable 16 million small and micro businesses (SMBs) worldwide, or just over 30% of the multi-year goal it set in 2020 to digitise 50 million SMBs. Through community-based programs set in motion from Dubai to DC, Visa has provided SMBs with the tools, services and education necessary to accept digital payments and gain greater access to the digital economy.

Visa research released in the 5th edition of the Visa Back to Business global study shows just how essential it is for SMBs to continue to digitally accelerate, with 92% of consumers saying COVID-19 has permanently changed how they will pay.

“With an 18-month view into the pandemic now, we have seen that small businesses that have embraced digital commerce and cross-border selling have generally weathered the pandemic and that seemingly small pivots toward digital commerce can continue to make the difference between a small business surviving and thriving,” said Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s General Manager for the UAE. “We are proud of the work we have done to help small businesses here in the UAE access the digital economy, and we will continue to help many more, one digital payment at a time.”

A look at the evolving consumer payment preferences and optimism of SMBs in the UAE

The Visa Back to Business global research study has surveyed SMB owners and their customers since the onset of the global pandemic. With an extensive body of sentiment data accumulated through five editions, findings from the newest study highlight the economic opportunity that lies in connecting SMBs, communities and technology:

SMBs are optimistic about the future and recognise the importance of contactless payments in meeting consumer expectations: The vast majority (88%) of SMBs in the UAE are optimistic about the future of their business. This includes 64% (compared to 50% globally) who are very optimistic, which is the highest proportion of all markets surveyed. Nearly half (49% vs. 40% globally) of SMBs in the UAE say accepting contactless payments is among their top investment areas to meet consumer expectations. The majority (84% vs. 74% globally) of SMBs in the UAE believe that customers will continue to prefer contactless payments as much or more than they do today.

The shift to contactless payments is becoming more permanent: Nearly all (92%) consumers in the UAE say COVID-19 has permanently changed their payment habits (compared to 68% globally). Nearly three in four (73%) UAE consumers would not shop at a store that does not accept contactless payments (compared to 44% globally). One in three (33% vs. 21% globally) UAE consumers have not used cash in the last week, the second-highest among all markets.

The continued relevance of omnichannel commerce: More than half (56% vs. 33% globally) of UAE consumers say they are at least somewhat more likely to shop in person compared to last summer, the highest among all markets.

Unlocking Access to the Digital Economy
Recognising that greater digitisation of commerce can bring enormous benefits to small businesses, Visa has continued to deepen and localise its commitment to SMBs in the UAE over the last 18 months to help them revitalise and reinvent their businesses. Visa has:

Visa has been working with several UAE banks to pilot Tap to Phone solutions that make it easier for local merchants to accept payments using only an Android smartphone; been working with several UAE banks to pilot Tap to Phone solutions that make it easier for local merchants to accept payments using only an Android smartphone; been working with several UAE banks to pilot Tap to Phone solutions that make it easier for local merchants to accept payments using only an Android smartphone.

They have also launched ADCB Pace Pay – UAE’s first virtual point of sale (POS) payment terminal with ADCB on both android and iOS platforms; rolled out the “Rapid Seller Onboarding” to enable SMBs to accept digital payments from their customers in-store/at point-of-sale or online within just seven working days; and conducted targeted studies such as Small Business Recovery and launched the Stay Secure campaign – in collaboration with DED and Dubai Police – with the aim of understanding regional SME painpoints and providing actionable insights to small businesses.

This all builds on a $200 million, 5-year commitment from the Visa Foundation made in 2020 to support SMBs around the world, with a focus on fostering women’s economic advancement. Visa will continue to celebrate the expansive role SMBs play within local communities and the global economy, starting with the launch of a new digital series, “Voices of Access,” featuring SMB customers from around the world sharing their unique stories and empowering others to see the possibilities of the digital economy.
More information on the programs Visa has made available to small and micro businesses are available on the Visa Small Business Hub and the Visa Small Business COVID-19 relief site.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Ascenda Aims To Make Banking Greener

Ascenda and Patch partner to make banking greener with the world’s first global rewards exchange for carbon offsets.

Ascenda, the rewards technology company, and Patch, the API-first platform for carbon removal, have recently announced a strategic partnership to make banking greener by enabling consumers worldwide to neutralise their carbon footprint through the exchange of bank reward currencies into carbon offsets.

This marks the first time the fight against climate change can tap into the global trillion-dollar pool of outstanding rewards and individuals can turn their unused loyalty points into a force for good at scale.

The partnership launches off the back of the sixth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which revealed that global surface warming is likely to exceed the 1.5C threshold set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Combining their cutting-edge technologies, Patch and Ascenda are enabling banks to drive positive change as they move to set ambitious sustainability goals in response to growing consumer environmental consciousness by giving their customers a new way to offset their carbon footprint.

Ascenda is bringing the new proposition to life by leveraging Patch’s diverse portfolio of carbon offset and removal projects to ensure that rewards points exchanged into carbon credits cover a broad spectrum of technologies and geographies. For example, with just 20,000 points a typical bank customer could neutralize 10 to 15 tonnes of CO2—nearly the annual footprint of an average American—by using these points to fund a portfolio of carbon offset and removal projects, rather than using them for traditional loyalty redemptions such as gift cards, flights, or hotel stays.

This portfolio will include projects ranging from traditional reforestation and forestry preservation programs to disruptive frontier negative emission technologies such as direct air capture, biochar, and mineralization, which can sequester carbon for thousands of years.

Kyle Armstrong, CEO of Ascenda, said: “The ability to exchange rewards currency into carbon credits at scale opens up an enormous new source of funding for the fight against climate change. We’re thrilled to work with the team at Patch who are transforming carbon offsets with a highly effective technology infrastructure. Our partnership puts the power to drive change into the hands of consumers worldwide, who increasingly want to make sustainability a factor in their decisions.”

Thanks to the new collaboration, 1.2 billion bank customers across Ascenda’s global TransferConnect network are now within reach of an impactful new points redemption option. Even if consumers globally exchanged just 10% of their unused rewards currencies into carbon credits, this would offset approximately the emissions of the entire United States for a full year.

With this fresh new model for emissions offsetting, the traditional consumer hurdles of monetary cost and access to high-quality carbon offset and removal projects are eliminated to unlock significantly wider adoption, further enhanced by a frictionless digital experience.

Brennan Spellacy, CEO of Patch, added: “Perhaps more than any other sector, banking and financial services has the power to truly unleash the green consumer—from offsets as a reward and offset subscriptions, to carbon-neutral investment funds. That’s why we’re excited to partner with Ascenda to launch the industry’s first global rewards exchange for carbon offsets, enabling billions of consumers to leverage unused points balances to invest in trusted carbon removal projects across the globe.”

Xero Forms Small Business Payment Task Force

Xero, the global small business platform, has announced the formation of a prompt payment task force of leading experts, brought together to find new solutions to the late payment crisis which has had a stranglehold on small firms for decades.

47% of small firms cite cash flow issues and late payments as two of the biggest obstacles to their growth. Xero also found that almost three in five (59%) of big businesses actually increased their payment terms during the pandemic.

This demonstrates that decades of policy measures and attempts to reduce the issue by relying on ‘cultural change’ have not improved the situation.

In response, Xero has published the ‘Lifecycle of an Invoice’ report. It explores available academic research around late payment culture to date, and highlights key interventions in the payment journey which could significantly improve the lives of small businesses.

The prompt payment task force – in association with The Entrepreneur’s Network – will discuss the report findings and come up with practical recommendations to take to the government and key stakeholders. Experts include; Dr Veronika Koller, behavioural scientist Dr Alexandra Dobra-Kiel, accountant Kara Curtayne, psychologist Dr Audrey Tang, business journalist Simon Read, and owner of Small Business World, Zing Pritesh Mody.

Gary Turner, Managing Director of Xero commented: “Consumers can instantly pay for goods by tapping a card or a phone and yet businesses, particularly corporates who often popularise concepts like digitisation and automation, insist on outdated processes and payment terms over several months. And in spite of this, they still can’t pay promptly. This is unacceptable.”

“We’ve been talking about this problem for too long so we want to look at positive ways to move forward, whether that’s using technology or behavioural change. We’ve assembled a group of leaders in their fields to distil the thinking from around the world and plot some routes forward. We’ll be developing some tangible recommendations for change.”

Philip Salter, founder of The Entrepreneur’s Network commented: “The UK is home to some of the most innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs. Being paid late can be a huge barrier, not only to overall business success but also to their financial stability and mental wellbeing. With the technology that now exists, there should be no excuse for paying late, but the challenge remains – so it’s great to be part of this task force to explore some new solutions to the problem.”

The prompt payment task force panel will meet at a private roundtable event in September, exploring the complex reasons behind late payments. The panel’s findings will then be discussed in a virtual public event on 7 October at 3pm, with Liz Barclay, UK Small Business Commissioner, confirmed to attend.

Zilliqa: Why Cross-Chain Interoperability is the Key to Securing Blockchain’s Future

Blockchain has come a long way in its development. Its use has grown exponentially and is now being used to chart and record the ownership of NFTs, tracking cross border payments, and of course, enabling the use of crypto, amongst other things. Its ecosystem has flourished but what’s next?

Amrit Kumar is the President and Chief Scientific Officer of Zilliqa. Focusing predominantly on areas of security, privacy and applied cryptography, Kumar’s research has been widely published at conferences such as IEEE/IFIP and IFIP TC-11 SEC. Kumar received his PhD from Université Grenoble-Alpes, France and was hosted at Inria’s Grenoble centre. 

An expert in blockchain, he discusses how the technology’s consolidation is essential so that it can thrive, and that DeFi has enabled collaboration throughout the ecosystem:

Amrit Kumar, President and Chief Scientific Officer of ZilliqaAmrit Kumar, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Zilliqa
Amrit Kumar, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Zilliqa

Blockchain has undeniably come a long way: From non-fungible tokens being issued and purchased by luxury fashion houses and major financial institutions such as Visa to El Salvador’s recognition of bitcoin as legal tender. No longer limited to niche online communities in the darkest recesses of the internet, various use cases have attested to the underlying technology’s mass appeal. This year alone, the total crypto market’s capitalisation hit an all-time high, briefly touching $2.4 trillion — up from $200 billion in 2019.

A little over a decade on since Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin network whitepaper, the industry ecosystem has flourished, now home to a myriad of projects rooted in building a legacy atop of some of the space’s earliest players. After all, blockchain is like any technology, determined by trial and error and ongoing experimentation. From projects that have gradually faded into insignificance following the initial token sale boom of 2017 to security breaches that have dampened investor and community confidence, the opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff has been critical to getting the space to where it is today. So what’s next?

Tackling the trilemma

Early on, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin once posed the blockchain trilemma quandary: How can you balance the need for decentralisation, scalability, and security in protocol design? The challenge was that projects were forced to compromise on at least one. First-generation players such as Bitcoin and Ethereum were able to uphold high levels of decentralisation and security but fell short when it came to scalability, leading to the oft-cited criticisms of blockchain’s true utility. Other protocols that had somehow managed to crack the speed challenge while offering security, missed the mark when it came to decentralisation. While a more centralised network could certainly meet far-spanning business use cases, issues in network governance begged the question as to whether such platforms were any better than their traditional counterparts.

Since then, the gradual evolution of protocol design has enabled the industry to move forward from the challenges posed by the blockchain trilemma. Zilliqa, for example, employed a novel approach to scalability via network sharding — a ‘divide and conquer’ approach to transaction processing that enables the network to scale linearly as transaction volumes increase. Ethereum, too, has since made significant strides, opting to adopt its own method of sharding as it transitions to Ethereum 2.0 as a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain. The growing popularity of PoS and other consensus protocol alternatives have made it so that a new generation of protocols is on the rise, either forcing legacy players to adapt and evolve or pushing them into gradual obsolescence.

At this stage, the time for blockchain infrastructure has passed, with developer communities equipped with the needed breathing room and foundational tools to develop new platforms and applications to further enrich project ecosystems.

A collaborative form of consolidation

But for any technology to excel, consolidation in the form of interoperability will be essential to ensuring the longevity of blockchain as an underlying technology that can power a myriad of applications, each necessitating different levels of security and forms of network governance. Over time, the space has recognised this need, largely driven by the growth of DeFi.

With Ethereum being the basis for many applications and projects across the DeFi ecosystem, over half of the top 20 ranked cryptocurrencies are compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) or continue to make use of the ERC-20 token standard. Similarly, ‘wrapped’ tokens allow traditionally non-DeFi centric project ecosystems to benefit from these new financial instruments and applications. Take wrapped bitcoin (WBTC), for example — an ERC-20 token backed 1:1 by bitcoin held in a BitGo trust. Unlike most stablecoins, the amount of WBTC in circulation has been made public in order to provide users with the assurances that the underlying asset is securely being held. Today, the total value locked of WBTC now stands at over $9billion, now a leading asset across the DeFi space.

However, perhaps the most promising innovation in enabling greater collaboration across the industry has been the network bridge. These bridges allow for cross-chain interoperability, making it so that two disparate project ecosystems can communicate with one another. Here, cross-chain transfers can take place across two blockchains, promoting inter-blockchain liquidity while enabling decentralised applications to benefit from the perks of both networks. In recent months, a spate of projects have announced network bridges across leading DeFi protocols, be it Polygon, Ethereum, or Zilliqa. The potential here is significant, especially when considering the business case for blockchain. No longer forcing businesses to operate in siloed environments, businesses will be able to transact across networks, projects will equally be able to build across ecosystems — all without significant network latency or excessive transaction fees.

A lasting legacy

As the industry contemplates its future, one thing is for certain: A vibrant ecosystem has certainly offered developers, businesses, and users alike an abundance of choice. As more projects push for interoperability in order to build out a more diverse, multi-chain ecosystem, it appears crypto has gradually come to abandon the tribalism of the past. Looking beyond cries for token maximalism, DeFi has encouraged a new breed of collaboration — one that will enable the space to build across the boundaries of code.

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

The Value of Collaboration: Why Modern Partnerships are Defining the Fintech Space

Even amidst the harsh economic impact of the COVID pandemic, the fintech sector refuses to slow down. Investment into the UK fintech market has accelerated, reaching $4.1 billion in 2020 – more than the next five European countries combined – and the global fintech market is forecasted to reach a value of £380 billion by 2030. 

With this substantial growth set to continue, the onus on start-ups and industry newcomers to soak up potential investments couldn’t be greater. This is why it’s becoming increasingly important that prospective market players look to build partnerships to define their position within the fintech sector and scale at pace. 

So, how are partnerships bringing finance and technology ever closer, and what has the impact of this been? Mike Rhodes is the CEO and Founder of ConsultMyApp, shares his thoughts. 

Mike Rhodes, CEO and Founder of ConsultMyAppMike Rhodes, CEO and Founder of ConsultMyApp
Mike Rhodes, CEO and Founder of ConsultMyApp

Mastering both tech & finance

Making the assumption that your in-house team and CEO have all the answers when it comes to both financial services and tech expertise has been the fault and failure of a few fintech companies over the years. Truth is that few people are able to maintain the required level of cutting-edge technical knowledge that also understand how to fully exploit it to deliver a modern fintech offering – especially when significant updates to the tech landscape, particularly in mobile, are happening nearly every month.

Thankfully, over the past few years, a more collaboration-friendly mindset has taken hold in the sector, resulting in a greater reliance on outsourcing and with it, better final products.  

Bringing in third-party experts for niche, but vital, sections of the fintech build is now quickly becoming standard practice, with 33 percent of UK businesses predicted to outsource more of their operations over the next two years. 

What was previously regarded as an unnecessary expense is now being seen for its true value. The ability to bring in ten, twenty or even thirty years of expertise for certain aspects of the fintech build allows for greater focus to be spent on scaling up and attracting investment. Let’s take a look at how that plays out in real life. 

Spotlight on: Marketing and user experience 

Emphasis on collaboration and partnerships are providing fintech organisations with the opportunity to outsource their app marketing strategy, something that might on the surface appear easy enough to implement in-house, but is actually very complex. With app-marketing consultation, fintech’s can guarantee that their strategy for user experience, engagement and retention is industry leading and coming from a position of expertise. 

Take, for example, ConsultMyApp’s work with the business-orientated banking app, Tide. The company was looking to significantly increase the acquisition of organic customers whilst simultaneously bringing down the cost-per-acquisition of new users from paid channels. Greater investment into app visibility and app store optimisation meant that Tide’s organic installs went up by 140 percent in just three months, and the cost-per-acquisition reduced by 55 percent on their key channels. 

This is just one example of how greater collaboration can achieve results in a highly competitive industry, where timing can be the make or break. This approach can be replicated across other verticals depending on where you need resources. For example, Outsourced Product Development (OPD) for your design and product building expertise and Business Process Outsourcing for quicker product launch and overall quicker coverage, to name a few.

Refashioning the banking sector 

It’s safe to say that open banking (by which we mean specifically app-based banking) has caught established institutions off guard. App-based challenger banks such as Monzo, Starling and Tide have revolutionised how customers interact with their finances, as well as altered their expectations. 

To put it into context, by 2022 open banking in the UK is expected to generate more than $9 billion of revenue opportunities for financial service providers – and over 10 million Britons are expected to participate.

As a result, traditional banking institutions need to modernise their offerings if they are to compete within the digital space. Fostering partnerships with combined tech & marketing firms is one way they can equip themselves with the required expertise. For example, Lloyds Bank partnered with Publicis Sapient to transform their user experience and more closely reflect what open banking leaders were doing in the space, with the aim of evolving the customer journey in line with their specific needs. 

Looking ahead 

With the use of fintech apps up 61 percent year-on-year since the start of the pandemic, and with a further 15 fintech’s predicted to IPO this year, the market has never been more competitive. Amid this backdrop, the era of a close-minded ‘overnight expertise’ approach to fintech building has quickly become outdated and is no longer sufficient if a company wants to become an industry leader within this space. 

Now, modern fintech’s are open to collaborating with external consultants and experts in their respective fields to combine the worlds of technology, marketing and customer experience – specific functions which are seldom connected in traditional in-house teams, but are delivered as a joined-up experience from a growing number of mobile-specific agencies. Ultimately, the industry is better for it, benefitting from greater growth, retention & engagement as well as the associated increase in outside investment for the sector. 

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Evergrande is the trigger to a crypto economy,400&ssl=1#

China has banned Bitcoin more times than I can remember. On Friday, China declared that all crypto transactions are illegal driving a sell-off of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies. The market value of the world’s cryptocurrencies tanked to a low of about $1.8 trillion, falling roughly 9% and losing $188 billion in value within just three hours of China’s announcement, according to CoinMarketCap.

Everything to do with crypto in China is illegal. In May, the Chinese state warned buyers they would have no protection for continuing to trade bitcoin and other currencies online, as government officials vowed to increase pressure on the industry. In June, it told banks and payment platforms to stop facilitating transactions and issued bans on “mining” the currencies – the trade of using powerful computers to make new coins.

Now the crypto ban in China includes enhancing enforcement against illegal mining, as well as prohibiting all financial transactions involving crypto. The Chinese central bank also announced that any trading, order matching, token issuance, and derivatives on cryptocurrencies are illegal, including services offered by overseas entities made available within mainland China.

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the founder and CEO at Kryptonio wallet. Please participate in our Crypto Wallet Survey, we could use your help. It’s seven simple multiple-choice questions about crypto wallets and you should be done in 60 seconds. The survey is completely anonymous.

In a statement, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said the rules are necessary to “maintain national security and social stability.” What a crock…

China has taken steps to curb the rise of cryptocurrency since at least 2013, but with crypto markets booming in 2021 and the gradual rollout of China’s state-backed digital yuan, the government is getting more serious about cracking down on crypto.

Winter 2013: Banks are banned from bitcoin
China bans banks from handling bitcoin transactions, calling it a “virtual good” and not legal tender. BTC China, the country’s largest bitcoin exchange, stops taking deposits in yuan under pressure from payment processors and the government. The price of bitcoin dropped by more than 20% to below $1,000.

Spring 2014: Penalties for banks
The Chinese government announces that it would penalize banks that took part in Bitcoin transactions. The price of bitcoin dropped from $585 to around $513.

Fall 2017: ICOs and exchanges are banned
China bans initial coin offerings (ICOs). Crypto exchanges are banned in China. Citizens largely get around the ban by using offshore exchanges and peer-to-peer trading. Bitcoin’s price fell by $200, from $4,584 shortly before the announcement to around $4,350 per coin.

Spring 2021: Mining crackdown
China cracks down on crypto mining, as mining activities start to threaten the country’s environmental goals. The government bans financial institutions and payment companies from providing crypto-related services. The price of bitcoin fell by 8.5%.

Over the years, the Chinese government has cracked down on bitcoin several times, this year alone it’s been twice. Each time this happens, the markets react with a price drop, but each time the effect is smaller and more short-lived. If China continues on this course, crypto will shift to countries with more stable regulatory environments, which means more predictable liquidity and healthier, more robust trading across the globe.

Banning Facebook or Google and replacing them with localized equivalents may be simple. But it’s far more complicated to ban bitcoin. Despite having imposed all kinds of bans, bitcoin continues to exist in China for one simple reason: people want it. For the same reason, Nigeria hasn’t been successful with its bitcoin ban either.

China is so hostile to economic freedom, banning its people from participating in what is arguably the most exciting innovation in decades, but the truth is that China needs bitcoin just as much as the US needed it in 2008.

Sooner or later, the next crisis will hit and Evergrande could be the one, doing as much harm as Lehmann Brothers did, leading to the last global financial crisis in 2008. While we never learned from Lehman Brothers and the financial system remains very fragile, a great thing that came out of the crisis was bitcoin.

The Evergrande crisis may have affected the price of bitcoin and depending on how China finally handles the situation it may affect it even more.

With this financial crisis, another great thing will also begin. We will see bitcoin hit all-time highs, but more importantly, we will transition to a crypto economy in more countries, beyond El Salvador. The ripple effects of the Evergrande crisis will create financial instability around the globe and push the use of cryptocurrency in daily life. Every country may not be like El Salvador and simply flip the switch, but this is the course we are on.

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Singapore FinTech Festival 2021 to Take Place in November as a Hybrid Digital and Physical Event

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced that the Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) will take place from 8 to 12 November, as a hybrid digital and physical event. A company limited by guarantee (CLG) will also be incorporated to spearhead future growth of the SFF and lead a series of new initiatives to provide year-round engagement with the global FinTech community. 

SFF 2021, organised in partnership with The Association of Banks in Singapore ABS and in collaboration with Constellar Exhibitions, a subsidiary of Constellar Holdings (formerly known as SingEx-Sphere Holdings), will provide a combined online-offline platform for the global fintech community to engage and connect in spite of the current challenges with international travel. The first three days of the SFF will feature a hybrid conference and exhibition; on 11 and 12 November, participants can attend global satellite events and industry events online and at physical locations. 

The theme for SFF2021 is “Web 3.0”. Over three days, SFF2021 will bring together global experts to discuss how Web 3.0 and key technological advances will power the future of financial services. In particular, the conference will examine three key structural drivers that could re-shape financial services in the coming decade: 

  • Re-configuration of financial products and services delivery through Embedded Finance (#EmFi), decentralised finance (#DeFi) and Digital Currencies 
  • Integration of ESG into the core design of financial services 
  • The pervasive adoption of foundational digital infrastructure (Digital Identity, Trusted Data Exchange, Interoperable Payment Systems and Consent Systems) 

SFF2021 will also organise deep-dive sessions that will brainstorm how Web 3.0 technologies can be harnessed for more efficient financial intermediation, advance key objectives like green finance and financial inclusion, and examine implications for financial regulation and supervision. Other highlights include: 

  • Participants can expect an inclusive global programme with ‘live’ broadcasts featuring leading industry and government leaders globally. Last year’s SFF featured global leaders such as Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand; H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya; François Villeroy de Galhau, Governor, Banque de France; Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer, Google and Alphabet; and Jane Fraser, Chief Executive  Officer, Citigroup. 
  • Participants can also look forward to the showcasing of winners of the MAS Global FinTech Hackcelerator, Global CBDC Challenge, a revamped SFF FinTech Awards and Innovation Lab Crawl. 
  • The World FinTech Festival4 will continue to support the development of local fintech ecosystems and drive greater collaboration opportunities across regions. Key partners from Brazil, Cambodia, Hungary, Japan, Nigeria, Poland, the Philippines and the United States will host their satellite events round-the-clock on 11 and 12 November 2021. 
  • Curated hybrid meetings will be at the heart of the fintech festival, with recommended matches, hosted meet-ups and a comprehensive exhibitor directory to drive dedicated matchmaking throughout the event. 

New entity (Elevandi) to drive SFF 

Named ‘Elevandi’ (which means to lift up or to raise up), the company’s mission is to foster an open dialogue between the public and private sectors to harness FinTech for growth and development in the new digital economy. Elevandi will build a global knowledge and collaboration platform, aimed at bringing together the global financial and FinTech community to address pain points in the workings of the financial system, and harness technology and innovation in finance to improve the well-being of individuals, economies and societies.  

Elevandi will have an international Board of Directors to oversee its mission and work. The Board will comprise members from the public sector, financial services sector and experienced global industry leaders. Each Director will contribute unique perspectives on the current and future state of FinTech, and insights across key FinTech markets globally. Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS’ Chief FinTech Officer, will be one of the Directors. 

To drive the next phase of growth, Elevandi will expand its programme of activities beyond the SFF to a broader range of engagement platforms to drive greater collaboration with the global FinTech community. Elevandi’s activities will continue to be run in partnership with ABS and in collaboration with Constellar Exhibitions. These include: 

  • Green Shoots Series, monthly meetups for the global FinTech community to discuss critical topics trending in FinTech and the digital economy.  
  • Deal Fridays, monthly events between investors and start-ups to drive deal-making opportunities.  
  • Oxygen by APIX, an upskilling platform for financial institutions, FinTechs and tech enthusiasts with carefully curated masterclasses, panels, podcasts and research content from industry experts dedicated to promoting worldwide knowledge sharing. 
  • Elevandi Forum, purpose-driven roundtables aimed at bringing the public and private sectors together to advance developments and issues within the FinTech industry. Elevandi FinTech Insider Report, an annual report on digital advancements for the global FinTech industry. 

Mr Mohanty said, “For the last five years, MAS has grown the SFF into a leading global platform for FinTech. It is now time for the SFF to further a global mission. Singapore has an important role to play as a knowledge centre and as a platform to enable greater collaboration and exchange between the public and private sectors around the world.” 

During the week of the SFF2021, Enterprise Singapore will also host the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH). Together, these two marquee events will feature exciting innovation and technology activities for the global innovation community. For more details, click here to register for the SFF 2021 and receive updates

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

IPC: Strong Infrastructure Is Needed To Enable LatAm Fintechs To Continue To Grow

Latin America has become ground zero for fintech investment recently; more than $7billion has been invested in LatAm fintech since 2016 according to CrunchBase, and the world’s largest neobank is currently headquartered in Brazil. 

One of the largest reasons for fintech growth in the region is the desire to improve access to financial services. As many countries in LatAm remain cash first economies, their governments are trying to push digitisation to further develop them. The result of this is testing and trying new tech, almost acting as a guinea pig, to see what works and what doesn’t.

An example of this is El Salvador’s recent legislation that made Bitcoin legal tender: in an attempt to help bring a largely unbanked population into the digital world. The Salvadoran government has taken what many would view as a risk to the economy, however, should the ‘experiment be a success, not only will Western countries likely follow suit, but LatAm will further establish itself as an innovative financial technology hub. 

Looking to further explain why LatAm is becoming such a hotspot for fintech and what can be done in the future to continue its growth, The Fintech Times sat down with David Brown, Chief Operating Officer at IPC. Connectivity is key for the successful implementation of innovative ideas. Discussing IPC offerings and how it is used in LatAm Brown said: 

What differentiates IPC from its competitors? What are some of IPC’s unique features? 

For nearly five decades, IPC has provided industry-leading trading communications solutions and managed network services focused exclusively on the global financial markets. The company has distinguished itself through superior service delivery, world-class customer support, constant innovation in cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and building a community that offers near-universal access to every type of financial firm, asset class and trading protocol.

IPC sits at the hub of the worldwide financial markets through the Connexus Cloud ecosystem, an unparalleled trading network connected to more than 7,000 capital market participants across 750 cities in 60 countries worldwide. And, IPC’s award-winning Unigy platform is a unified communications based platform designed specifically to make the entire trading environment more productive, intelligent and efficient.

Most recently, IPC has entered into strategic growth partnerships with some of the most well-known firms across the globe, innovatively working to enhance IPC’s world-class cloud platform. Through these relationships, IPC’s partners and customers have the opportunity to gain access to an extensive portfolio of cutting-edge technologies and solutions.

How have customers responded to these unique features?

Customer interest has been extremely strong. IPC’s vision is ultimately about access, community and intelligence, which is why it has made significant investments that have acted as “multipliers” for the firm and its solutions in the areas of most interest to the financial markets, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing technologies. Through the digital transformation enabled by these investments, as well as IPC’s full embrace of the “subscription economy,” the firm has provided customers and partners with a frictionless trading and communications experience.

How is LATAM’s financial development different from the rest of the world’s? How is the company specialised for this region?

Within the last year, IPC has made major inroads in the Latin America market due to the region’s explosive growth, and related need for financial services technology. For example, IPC continues to expand Connexus Cloud’s reach geographically, such as a major Connexus expansion in Latin America in Q4’21; Connexus Cloud is now directly connected to some of the region’s largest exchanges and regulatory bodies, such as B3, Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, Bolsa de Valores de Colombia, Bolsa de Santiago, Bolsa de Valores de Lima, BYMA, Bolsas y Mercados Argentinos, Matba Rofex.

The pandemic has been a mixed blessing for companies in the financial sector. Some have been able to digitise and prosper whereas some have failed miserably. How has the pandemic affected IPC?

We are living through a largely unimaginable black swan event in the coronavirus pandemic. But, IPC is one of the few providers to offer remote-work solutions tailored for financial institutions, which were in great demand over the last year. These include the Unigy Soft Client, which ensures working remotely is no longer a disadvantage by providing functionality, consistency and flexibility for trading communications needs regardless of location, device or application. Also, right before the coronavirus outbreak, IPC launched Disaster Recovery as a Service, which is a voice SaaS (Software as a Service) solution that is integrated with Connexus Voice and allows traders to access a virtual trading desk from any location.

Crypto is one of the biggest commodities in LatAm at the moment. Can crypto be traded via IPC? If not, is this something that is being planned?

Absolutely. Connexus Cloud enables the seamless trading of digital assets, allowing financial institutions that use Connexus Cloud to instantly connect to, and trade through, cryptocurrency exchanges around the world. Furthermore, ICE Data Services’ Cryptocurrency Data Feed, which streams real-time and historical data for the most actively traded digital currencies globally, is part of Connexus Cloud, along with the Cboe Cryptocurrency Feed Summary and Feed Premium from Cboe Futures Exchange, as well as CME CF Cryptocurrency Pricing. This allows Connexus users to access the latest information on digital asset trends and pricing.

What have been the greatest innovations in the investing space/wealthtech that you have seen in the last few years in LatAm and where does IPC fit in here?

Latin America is an extremely large region, home to north of 600 million people, and it’s per capita economic growth has generally been strong. So, the need for financial services is accelerating, but significant investments in the technological infrastructure underpinning those services is needed to meet the demand. This is where IPC has been able to help by providing the connectivity between market participants in the region to each other, and the rest of the world, for trading, communications, and more.

What problems have these innovations solved?

To give one example, IPC recently worked with a couple of banks in Colombia. One of them,  Banco de Occidente, was looking for a new system to improve customer service response times. In addition, the bank wanted to develop their voice recording capabilities with state-of-the art tools that could mitigate some of the risks of executing high-value transactions during times of high volatility. And, business continuity had to be maintained across the newly integrated technology solution through the use of robust back-up systems that would offer protection against failures and reduce the risk of data loss. IPC was able to assist them with accomplishing all of these goals.

Brown concluded by discussing the future of LatAm fintech, “The state of Latin America’s financial-services infrastructure varies significantly country-by-country, so it’s difficult to draw overarching conclusions. But, it is worth noting that the continent was among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic; investing in financial technology infrastructure now will certainly help the economy bounce back quicker.” 

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

With SCA Regulation in Place, the DWTCA Will Allow Crypto Trading in Its Free Zone

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) have entered into an agreement supporting the regulation, offering, issuance, listing and trading of crypto assets and related financial activities within DWTCA’s free zone.

The agreement establishes a framework that allows DWTCA to issue the necessary approvals and licenses for the conduct of financial activities relating to crypto assets. The agreement was signed by H.E. Dr. Maryam Al Suwaidi, Acting Chief Executive Officer of SCA, and H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

The Dubai World Trade Centre Authority provides a unique and well-regulated ecosystem for businesses seeking local and international opportunities, while the DWTCA Free Zone provides an ideal environment for startups, SMEs and corporations to operate locally while reaching international markets.

Tasked with monitoring and regulating the UAE’s financial markets, the SCA aims to build a sustainable investment environment and safeguard the rights of investors, promote sound practices, and create an environment that attracts capital, using innovative systems.​​​​

DWTCA has signed the agreement to expand its existing business licenses, services and incentives. In collaboration with DWTCA, SCA will handle the regulatory oversight of the issuance, offering, listing, and trading of crypto assets as well as the licensing of the associated financial activities that fall under DWTCA’s jurisdiction.

Under the agreement, SCA will oversee, monitor, and inspect entities operating within DWTCA’s free zone.

Following the signing, H.E. Dr. Al Suwaidi said, “The agreement comes in response to directives from H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy and SCA Board Chairman, to enhance cooperation and exchange knowledge and expertise with various government departments, authorities, and institutions to work collaboratively and achieve common goals.”

HE Dr. Al Suwaidi also noted that, “The SCA will be responsible for the regulatory supervision of offering, issuing, trading and listing crypto assets and the licensing of financial activities related to them within the limits of the DWTCA free zone. The SCA will also supervise, control and investigate the licensed entities that operate within the free zone.”

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said, “The Dubai World Trade Centre Authority is committed to expanding its services as a free zone of choice for the international investment and entrepreneurial community. As Dubai continues its drive towards an innovation and digital-led economy, DWTCA is looking to support businesses underpinned by blockchain and cryptographic technologies. Our agreement with the Securities and Commodities Authority will allow DWTCA to broaden its regulatory, licenses and services capabilities, in addition to extending the centralised supervision of the crypto market to our free zone.”

“With the rise of new technologies such as non-fungible tokens set to play an important role in the future of commerce, and building on the Future Blockchain Summit, our globally recognised event in this sector, DWTCA is also pursuing ways to offer a sustainable home for this ecosystem, in order to stay future ready,” he further stated. “The UAE has been at the forefront of blockchain research and implementation and our ambition is in line with the Emirates Blockchain Strategy”, he concluded.

The SCA and DWTCA will exchange best practices relating to the project, as well as delivering mutual technical support to enhance their understanding of both organisations’ financial systems. The partnership will also include the provision of professional services that specify the responsibilities and obligations of both parties.

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

News & Views Podcast | Episode 49: JP Morgans new Digital Bank in the UK

On this weeks episode of News & Views, The Fintech Times Podcast team speak on the recent news of JP Morgan launching a new digital bank in the UK, along with the opportunities that will be created through this.

Banks Risk Losing Customers Due to Quality of Online Experiences

81% of adults say the quality of online experience determines who they bank with, according to new research into post-pandemic digital banking trends in the UK.

A survey of 2,087 UK adults, commissioned by digital agency MagiClick and conducted by YouGov last month, showed notable differences in the importance of online experience between different age groups with 46% of those in the 55+ age group stating that it was “very important” compared to only 26% of 18-24 year olds.

The research also found that use of all digital banking services had grown since the start of the pandemic, with the largest increases being for use of mobile banking apps, with two-thirds (66%) of those who have used digital banking services more since the pandemic began stating they have used mobile banking apps more often. This growth in the use of mobile banking apps is led by the under 35’s, with 85% of 18-24 year olds and 79% of 25 to 34 year olds, using mobile banking apps more often. Use of mobile banking apps within the 55+ age group has also seen a significant increase (52%).

Use of online web banking also rose significantly, with half (50%) of those who have used digital banking services more since the pandemic began stating they have used online web banking more often. The highest rise in usage for online web banking was amongst the 55+ age group (60% using this service more often).

Despite the growth of mobile banking apps and online web banking, the use of both website chat facilities and automated chatbots only saw overall rises of 14% and 10% respectively.

Finally, the research also highlights the wider adoption of making payments via smartphones and smartwatches, with younger generations leading the way. Among those who have used digital banking services more since the pandemic began, 35% of 18-24 year olds increased their usage, followed by 32% of 25-34 year olds and 31% of 35-44 year olds. It’s clear though that the 55+ age group remain more reluctant to embrace making payments via smartphones and smartwatches, as only 16% of this age group increased their usage.

Mark Lusted, MagiClick UK CEO, said: “This research clearly shows that the events of the past 18 months have accelerated the adoption of digital banking services by consumers across all age ranges.

The quality and ease of use of the digital experience is clearly now of high importance to a large majority of users when choosing who to bank with and, interestingly, this was of highest importance to the over 55s. In an increasingly competitive landscape, with an array of new digital-only challenger banks entering the market, incumbent banks should take note.

The research also showed that the often-predicted demise of web-based banking services in favour of mobile banking apps has been overstated and that customers are choosing to use both facilities more, with little to separate them in terms of how much their usage has increased.

It also shows that banks are yet to fully realise the benefits and opportunities that website chat and automated chatbot facilities can provide to their overall service proposition, with those services seeing the smallest increases in usage during this period.”

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Partnering with Ecommerce via Fintech Solutions Across The Middle East and Africa

Digital transformation coupled with a change of consumer shopping habits globally, which were accelerated via the COVID-19 pandemic, have altered the way people shop. How can the rise of e-commerce boost fintech partnerships across regions such as the Middle East and Africa (MEA)?

MEA is traditional with shopping

For those that have been to the MEA region, generally upon glance it is conservative and traditional as a whole in terms of shopping habits. To elaborate, conservative in terms of how shopping is done, where the art of the likes of basic grocery shopping is done by many still via markets and in person.

First, a sizeable number of MEA shoppers are poor and even the general retailer such as many supermarket brands in the region such as Waitrose or Marks & Spencer or retailers across a wide range of goods often cater to a minority proportion of a country’s population (aka the middle class or higher). For instance, South African based Shoprite struggled to gain and establish a foothold in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by population, as it really catered to a small population that would have a disposable income to even afford to be able to shop there – let alone their own shopping and consumer habits. After all, even to this day, especially with basic essentials like food, markets often offer much value for money.

Historically much of the Middle East and Africa (MEA) has been dominated by shopping in markets and in-person rather than embracing ecommerce Historically much of the Middle East and Africa (MEA) has been dominated by shopping in markets and in-person rather than embracing ecommerce
Historically much of the Middle East and Africa (MEA) has been dominated by shopping in markets and in-person rather than embracing ecommerce IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Irrespective of social and economic class, MEA is also home to some of the world’ richest people. And even within a region with the world’s highest gross domestic product (GDP), particular in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, shopping habits remain generally to be traditional. For example, the GCC e-commerce sector was a small channel with a big future ahead of it, where the sector contributed only 0.4 percent of the region’s GDP in 2015. In other words, many still revere the experience of going to an actual market or even a physical supermarket to pick and choose their own fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and both perishable and non-perishable products.

E-commerce was catching on but COVID forced even the most conservative to go online and ecommerce helped

Pre-pandemic there was a growing trend in ecommerce and wider partnerships such as with wider fintech.

  • Via a joint study by Dubai Economy and Visa, the UAE is at present the most advanced e-commerce market in MENA, revealing an estimated annual growth of 23 per cent through 2018 and 2022. Although customers continue to enjoy the ‘destination shopping’ aspect of visiting a physical store, COVID-19 has encouraged many people to try e-commerce for the first time. A jump in online users is not expected to reduce.
  • A survey by management consulting firm McKinsey in 2019 – Survey respondents in the UAE estimated that they’ve increased their online spending by 31 percent over the past year, and also 62 percent of respondents said convenience as a key factor for shifting to online.

The previous few years have witnessed growth in e-commerce and the pandemic has driven that appetite – not only in MEA but across the rest of the world. According to another research from McKinsey from last year, consumers across the GCC, South Africa and Turkey have purchased online more during COVID-19. Demand for groceries, personal care and household supplies showed a high increase. Amongst MEA countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE showed some of the highest rates of increase or new or users with online deliveries (restaurant products as well as groceries) and communications (video conferencing and also distance learning) – according to McKinsey.

In MEA, according to research from Mastercard Economics Institute’s recent Economy 2021 Global Outlook Report, 73 per cent of consumers shopped more online than they did before the previous pandemic. Another report from also showed an increase in online shopping as well.

In addition, a recent Fintech Times Fintech: Middle East & Africa 2021 report I authored also highlighted the rise in ecommerce and that the pandemic further accelerated that in MEA as a whole.

With Africa, the continent’s internet economy is expanding quickly, with online commerce in the region growing 21 per cent year-over-year, which is actually 75 per cent faster than the global average.

Partnering e-commerce and fintech to help MEA

The rise of ecommerce in MEA has been propelled by the pandemicThe rise of ecommerce in MEA has been propelled by the pandemic
The rise of ecommerce in MEA has been propelled by the pandemic IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Examples abound in terms of how fintechs and ecommerce (and also fintechs with other fintechs) have partnered and/or invested or acquired in MEA to accelerate growth, especially now with the rise of ecommerce in the region.

Examples in the Middle East include:

  • Banks and ecommerce – Mashreq Bank of the UAE and com, a Middle Eastern homegrown e-commerce platform, announced a long-term strategic partnership to redefine the digital payments experience for consumers in the UAE.
  • Investment in innovation in Saudi Arabia – Tamara, a Saudi Buy-Now-Pay-Later platform earlier this year announced the closing of the largest Series A funding round in MENA at the time of $110 million; which was led by London-headquartered is of course a leading partner of choice for online merchants and the Tamara funding can further accelerate growth via partnership.
  • Mobile wallets and ecommerce via fintechs – Digital commerce firm and Dubai-headquartered Network International joined forces with payments company TerraPay to drive the acceptance of mobile wallets across the UAE as well as access ecommerce channels.

Meanwhile, in Africa examples include:

  • The large acquisition in Nigeria – for those following fintech in Africa there was of course Stripe acquiring Paystack, a technology company based in Lagos, Nigeria that makes it easy for organisations of all sizes to collect payments from around the world. The deal was reported to be worth over $200 million in possibly the largest fintech acquisition in Nigerian history.
  • Fintech partnering with fintech – Paypal earlier this year announced a collaboration with leading African payments fintech Flutterwave. With the collaboration, PayPal will enable its users to pay African merchants via Flutterwave’s platform.
  • Saas meets fintech – Online payment processing platform SeerBit this year announced its partnership with global Saas platform Wix with the aim to create, manage and grow an online presence as well as empowering and scaling eCommerce businesses in the African continent.

Despite the historical resistance of the way consumers shop, MEA as a whole in recent memory has also like the rest of the world been embracing ecommerce. COVID has further accelerated it and at least in a post pandemic world many will keep their digital ways. Nevertheless, fintech has partnered with e-commerce to help bridge much of that gap.

Klarna Launches “Old Credit Is History” Campaign to Raise Awareness of “Outdated” Credit Model.

Klarna, a global banking, payments and shopping service, has launched its latest OOH UK campaign, Old Credit Is History. The campaign highlights the antiquated credit model that many consumers are still using and shows how services like Klarna bring credit into the modern age, to the benefit of consumers.

Klarna has delved into the history of money to better understand its evolution over time. Working alongside a historian, Klarna identified that money is now in its fourth revolution with digital currencies, neobanks and biometric payment systems opening a new chapter in the history of money, driven by consumer demand and expectations. However, Klarna’s campaign highlights parts of the financial world that are still stuck in the past, where legacy businesses charge consumers extortionate fees and interest charges.

Old Credit Is History seeks to bring to light the archaic business models that traditional credit card companies operate on. These models see big banks cashing in on high-interest rates, in 2020 alone, Brits paid £5.7 billion in credit card interest and fees. That same year, Buy Now Pay Later products saved people £76 million in interest payments.

To celebrate the campaign, Klarna will open the doors to its own Old Credit Is History, Klarna Cave, creating a three-day immersive experience visualising the evolution of money. Situated in Soho’s Greek Street and running from 23rd to 25th September, Klarna is inviting everyone into a three-storey museum, where they can follow mankind’s financial journey through the ages. Guest speakers including financial expert Kia Commodore and Sunday Times best -selling author and Psychotherapist, Owen O’Kane. At the event, visitors can also journey back in time with food from a paleo diet and transform their looks with free of charge beard trims and blow drys.

Alex Marsh, Head of Klarna UK said, “At Klarna, we’ve always been vocal in our belief that traditional credit models are stuck in the past and don’t benefit consumers. It’s time antiquated financial businesses listened to what consumers want and offered better ways to pay that provide flexibility, choice and control, without any hidden fees.

“It’s been so insightful working on the campaign to understand the journey money has taken over thousands of years and what could be coming up next. We believe that old credit solutions should become a thing of the past and Old Credit Is History is a fun, tongue-in-cheek way to bring that important message to life.”

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Using Temenos’ Banking Cloud, Banking-as-a-Service Is Going To Spread Across All FS in Europe

Temenos (SIX: TEMN), the banking software company, Vodeno, a fully cloud-native BaaS provider and Aion Bank, a European licensed digital bank and credit institution, have announced a strategic collaboration to accelerate Banking as a Service (BaaS) deployment in Europe.

The first banking services to be launched combine The Temenos Banking Cloud with Vodeno’s card management and payment processing services. This will enable banks and businesses across industries to broaden their portfolio of products offered to their customers by automating and embedding new payments and card services seamlessly in their customer journey. The collaboration across all three parties removes the complexities and regulatory overheads of deploying embedded financial services in Europe. Clients will benefit from faster time to market and the business agility to develop new customer propositions. Temenos and Vodeno are already engaged in several proof of concepts with banks and fintechs across Europe.

The Temenos Banking Cloud combines Temenos Transact and Temenos Infinity banking services which will connect via REST APIs to the VODENO Cloud Platform. Through the strategic alliance, clients will be able to instantly issue digital debit and credit cards for retail and business banking customers. Additionally, existing Temenos customers can benefit from financial services embedded in personalised customer journeys, delivered in real-time, at the right touchpoint with intelligent and contextual experiences.

More than 3,000 financial services institutions around the world leverage Temenos’ modern, open, cloud technology. The Temenos Banking Cloud enables banks and businesses to consume, manage and maintain banking services in a secure, continually evolving, self-service platform while allowing them to develop new business models.

BaaS is emerging as a megatrend within financial services, where licensed banks integrate their digital banking services directly into the products of other non-financial businesses. Aion Bank and Vodeno – both backed by the global growth investor, Warburg Pincus LLC – were created with this opportunity in mind. The BaaS market in Europe is currently estimated at over $3billion. BaaS functionality is attractive to banks, fintechs, non-banks and specialised BaaS providers, who can now use the combined power of The Temenos Banking Cloud and Vodeno’s technology to create, deploy, consume or monetise new banking services. Temenos, Aion and Vodeno can now offer any brand digital banking services to their customers, such as mobile bank accounts, debit or credit cards and payment services, without the need to have their own banking license.

Max Chuard, Chief Executive Officer, Temenos said: “Working with Vodeno and Aion Bank, we offer an open cloud banking platform designed for business agility and massive scale to banks, fintechs and established brands that wish to offer embedded financial services and drive ultimate customer experiences. We chose Vodeno and Aion Bank to establish this new channel to market for Temenos, which will help us capture the BaaS market opportunity in Europe. The Temenos Banking Cloud combined with Vodeno’s technology and Aion Bank’s proposition will help banks and non-banks to create, deploy, consume and monetise new banking services.”

Wojciech Sobieraj, Chief Executive Officer, Vodeno, said: “When we created Vodeno, our vision was to enable ‘Banking as a Service’ to any regulated and non-regulated institution. Through this strategic collaboration with Temenos and Aion Bank, we will offer banks, fintechs and brands the richest BaaS proposition in the market. Simply put, the ease in which we can integrate cards and domestic payments, as well as other banking services, will power digital transformation to the next level in Europe.”

Peter Deming, Managing Director and Head of Financial Services in Europe, Warburg Pincus, said: “Our excitement for the ‘Banking as a Service’ opportunity in Europe continues to build as more companies, banks and brands seek to improve their customer experiences through embedded finance. The collaboration of Temenos with Vodeno and Aion Bank to jointly address this market underlines the companies’ ambition to be the de facto partners for any regulated or non-regulated institution seeking these embedded financial services.”

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

2021 Sets the Bar for DDoS Cyber Attacks; Latest NETSCOUT Report Finds

The results of NETSCOUT SYSTEMS‘ bi-annual Threat Intelligence Report have been published, and underscore the dramatic impact cyberattacks continue to have on private and public organisations and governments worldwide.

As detailed in the Threat Intelligence Report, during the first half of 2021, cybercriminals launched approximately 5.4 million Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks, increasing 11% over 1H2020 figures. Additionally, data projections from NETSCOUT’s Active Level Threat Analysis System Security Engineering and Response Team (ASERT) point to 2021 as another record-setting year on track to surpass 11 million global DDoS attacks.

ASERT expects this long tail of attacker innovation to last, fuelling a growing cybersecurity crisis that will continue to impact public and private organisations.

In the wake of Colonial Pipeline, JBS, Harris Federation, Australian broadcaster Channel Nine, CNA Financial, and several other high-profile attacks, the impact of DDoS and other cybersecurity attacks has been felt worldwide. As a result, governments are introducing new programmes and policies to defend against attacks, and policing organisations are initiating unprecedented collaborative efforts to address the crisis.

During 1H2021, cybercriminals weaponised and exploited 7 newer reflection/amplification DDoS attack vectors, which put organisations at greater risk. This attack vector explosion spurred an increase in multivector DDoS attacks with a record-setting 31 attack vectors deployed in a single attack against one organisation.

Other key findings from the NETSCOUT 1H2021 Threat Intelligence Report include:

  • New adaptive DDoS attack techniques evade traditional defences. By customising their strategies, cybercriminals evolved their attack efforts to bypass cloud-based and on-premise static DDoS defences to target commercial banks and credit card processors.
  • Connectivity supply chain increasingly under attack. Bad actors looking to cause the most collateral damage focused their efforts on vital internet components, including DNS servers, virtual private network (VPN) concentrators, services, and internet exchanges, disrupting essential gateways.
  • Cybercriminals add DDoS to their toolkit to launch triple extortion campaigns. Ransomware has become big business, with extortionists adding DDoS to their attack regimen to ratchet up the pressure on victims and add stress to security teams. Triple extortion combines file encryption, data theft, and DDoS attacks, increasing the possibility that cybercriminals receive payment.

  • The fastest DDoS attack recorded a 16.17% year-over-year increase. A Brazilian wireline broadband internet user launched the attack, which was likely related to online gaming. Using DNS reflection/amplification, TCP ACK flood, TCP RST flood, and TCP SYN/ACK reflection/amplification vectors, the sophisticated attack recorded 675 Mpps.

  • The largest DDoS attack, 1.5 Tbps, represented a year-over-year increase of 169%. ASERT data identified this attack against a German ISP, deploying a DNS reflection/amplification vector. This attack represents a dramatic increase in size over any attacks recorded in 1H2020.
  • Botnets contribute to major DDoS activity. Tracked botnet clusters and high-density attack-source zones worldwide showcased how malicious adversaries abused these botnets to participate in more than 2.8 million DDoS attacks. In addition, well-known IoT botnets Gafgyt and Mirai continue to pose a severe threat contributing to more than half of the total number of DDoS attacks.
Richard Hummel, Threat Intelligence Lead, NETSCOUTRichard Hummel, Threat Intelligence Lead, NETSCOUT
Richard Hummel, Threat Intelligence Lead, NETSCOUT

“Cybercriminals are making front-page news launching an unprecedented number of DDoS attacks to take advantage of the pandemic’s remote work shift by undermining vital components of the connectivity supply chain,” stated Richard Hummel, Threat Intelligence Lead, NETSCOUT. “Ransomware gangs added triple-extortion DDoS tactics to their repertoire. Simultaneously, the Fancy Lazarus DDoS extortion campaign kicked into high gear threatening organisations in multiple industries with a focus on ISPs and specifically their authoritative DNS servers.”

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

Alipay (Macao) Launches Cross Border Payments to Pay over 25,000 Offline Merchants in Hong Kong

 Ant Bank (Macao) has announced that it has launched cross-border payment services for its subsidiary e-wallet Alipay (Macao) through solutions provided by Alipay+, allowing users of the e-wallet to pay for goods and services at more than 25,000 offline merchants in Hong Kong.

Approved Alipay (Macao) users can use the e-wallet to pay with Macao patacas at any Hong Kong merchants that display the logos of “Alipay+” or “Alipay (Macao)”, while enjoying preferential exchange rates with no extra handling fees. Alipay+, which is introduced by Ant Group, provides global cross-border mobile payments and marketing solutions that enable merchants to better serve consumers around the world.

At the same time, Hong Kong businesses that accept payments with Alipay (Macao) will be able to directly receive Hong Kong dollars, automatically exchanged from Macao patacas in real-time. More Hong Kong merchants will gradually be added to the service in the future, following the 25,000 businesses in the initial phase.

“For Alipay (Macao), becoming the first Macao e-wallet to be widely accepted by merchants in Hong Kong is a significant development as this provides greater convenience to users travelling in the Greater Bay Area, while bringing more benefits to Hong Kong businesses,” said Venetia Lee, General Manager of Alipay Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. “We hope that Alipay (Macao) will continue to expand to more regions and countries, allowing Macao users to use their own e-wallet app to travel freely and enjoy more convenience.”

Users will be able to access the new service for offline payments in Hong Kong when they have linked credit or debit cards issued by local banks to their Alipay (Macao) accounts, or after their identities have been authenticated.

The launch of the new cross-border payment service marks a new milestone for the three main e-wallets operating in the Greater Bay Area, namely Alipay, AlipayHK and Alipay (Macao). Currently, AlipayHK users can already make payments in the Chinese mainland and Macao, while Alipay users can pay for goods and services in both Hong Kong and Macao. 

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Cloud Cost and Investment Optimised Through Hitachi Vantara’s Cloud FinOps Services

Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure, data management and analytics, and digital solutions subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd. (TSE: 6501), has introduced Hitachi’s Cloud FinOps Services. This new offering provides a portfolio of services designed to help organisations optimise cloud economics. The end goal: help organisations save money as they deploy their hybrid, multicloud or distributed cloud services – while still maintaining the proper agility and scale to deliver their business and IT results.

The Cloud Cost Paradox

Cloud is essential to almost every enterprise in every industry because it accelerates innovation, agility, and growth. However, as companies operating at scale deploy more cloud services, they often find that ungoverned on-demand consumption, and unexpected management and operational costs, are eating up promised cost savings and quickly driving budgets to overrun. Indeed, IDC predicts increased investment in public cloud cost management through 2022 as enterprises seek to cut cloud waste by 50%. The challenges from inadequate automation, the lack of visibility across cloud accounts, and duplicate and idle resources from poor application architectural design can add up to thousands — or even millions — of dollars in wasted expenditures every year.

New Cloud FinOps Services for Cloud Cost Optimisation and Management

Hitachi’s FinOps services addresses the cloud paradox by optimising cloud cost and investments by providing visibility and management across a client’s cloud environments, enabling them to:

  • Gain control over cloud spend with real-time visibility, right architectural choice and predictable usage.
  • Get more value from the cloud by balancing cost, speed, and quality.
  • Future-proof the organisation with best-in-breed cloud services.
  • Customers, on average receive a 30% saving through our cloud cost optimisation services.

“Managing cloud costs and investments across multiple cloud environments is complex, and it’s easy to overspend on cloud services with limited visibility and predictability on utilisation,” said Roger Lvin, president, Digital Solutions Business Unit, Hitachi Vantara. “Our Cloud FinOps services addresses this complexity and lowers the total cost of ownership through mapping spend data, tagging, allocating shared costs equitably, and recommending data-driven cost take-out measures.”

Hitachi Vantara’s service portfolio is built on decades of expertise in cloud, application, data, and infrastructure modernisation. The services are delivered through a unique E3 methodology, which is a comprehensive application and data modernisation approach that enables clients to envision, evaluate and execute a FinOps-led program to address the complexity of managing cloud environments. With Hitachi’s Cloud FinOps service customers receive a turnkey solution that provides the following outcomes:

  • Assess the customer’s current cloud cost relative to benchmarks, industry standards and provide a recommendation on where costs can be optimised.
  • Implement changes that will take out costs from cloud platforms and enable the effective use of real-time cloud cost decision support. Cloud experts map spending data to the business, define budgets and forecasts, set tagging strategy and compliance, build AI-enabled cost anomaly detection, budget alerts for cost visibility, cost recovery and predictability.
  • For enterprises that need continuous as-a-Service support for managing cloud costs, Hitachi Vantara offers an always-on, managed service to optimise and govern cloud spend against business objectives. This includes automated enterprise-wide cloud consumption reporting, resource tracking, cost monitoring and continuous cost optimisation through right-sizing and usage of correct cloud services. Hitachi Vantara delivers automation and integration for managing cloud cost metrics and supports cloud service life cycle management through financial analysis and cost management.

Deluxe, a Trusted Payments and Business Technology company, that supports millions of small businesses, thousands of financial institutions, and hundreds of the world’s most valuable brands recently turned to Hitachi Vantara. The company operates at significant scale processing more than $2.8trillion in annual payment volume.

“Hitachi Vantara’s services have helped to streamline our journey to becoming a nimble technology company,” said Deluxe Chief Information Officer Michael Mathews. “In addition to providing ongoing, yearly cost reductions across cloud environments and other savings, they’ve helped us right-size our core infrastructure based on actual consumption, increase our budget capacity for new workloads in cloud, and improve the operational and financial transparency into our technology and cloud operating environments.”

If not managed properly, the cloud cost paradox will cost organisations significantly in wasted expenditures. Hitachi Cloud FinOps Services gives customers the data, insight and expertise to know better, allowing them to do their cloud, their way.

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

The Monkeyfirm Launches ‘Token Backed NFTS’ for Sale of Digital Assets

The MonkeyFirm (recently rebranded from MemeFarm) has launched its ‘Token Backed NFT’ wrapping platform in an effort to promote ease of peer-to-peer trading and create a new way for creators of virtual items to commercialise their digital assets, without having to worry about getting scammed or finding an escrow solution.

Peer-to-peer or OTC (Over the Counter) trading has become a major part of crypto transactions, but not without its share of problems; particularly for the multi-billion dollar illiquid or low-cap alt-coin market. To complete a transaction buyers and sellers need to find someone to trade with, build trust and negotiate terms, find a trustworthy escrow agent, and coordinate across multiple time zones. To solve this issue The MonkeyFirm has introduced Token Backed NFTs that will simplify peer-to-peer trading by creating a means to ‘wrap tokens’ in the form of an NFT, put them up for sale at a desired price, and have the entire transaction handled via smart contracts.

“With the Token Backed NFT structure you can cut out the drama and stress out of peer-to-peer trading, and go to bed knowing your trade will be fulfilled by a serious buyer on a secure and reliable platform,” said Mark Berisha, CEO of The MonkeyFirm and APEcoin, and a founding member of BUSTA. “The MonkeyFirm has focused on a low fee structure, as the seller will not be paying a third party to facilitate the exchange, ultimately creating a seamless trading experience.”

“The simplest ideas in crypto are the biggest. Like the advent of the ERC-20 (tokens) or the AMM (Automated market-maker). Token-Backed-NFT’s are very simple and highly scalable solving a real market problem,” Berisha added.

Notably, the funds of the sellers will never be withheld and the tokens can be redeemed at any time, with The MonkeyFirm simply providing a streamlined solution for peer-to-peer exchange.

Wrapping a token is exchanging one set of standards for token interaction, with another set of standards – Most NFTs are defined using a standard called ERC-721, which maintains each token as a unique id and defines how to exchange them individually. Compared to the standard for cryptocurrency tokens, ERC-20, which allows tokens to be sent as multiples and fractionalised. Wrapping allows NFTs to be stored in a wallet, exchangeable in multiples. It also allows for base liquidity to be established in exchange for other tokens.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

China’s Mobile Gaming Market Is Generating Double the Revenue of Pre-Covid Figures

Of all the countries in the Asia Pacific region that have experienced a Covid-related boom in their mobile gaming markets, China comes as the best example.  

According to the recently published data of Mejores Apuestas, the Chinese mobile gaming industry is expected to generate $41.5 billion in revenue this year, 50% more compared to pre-Covid figures. In addition to this, the growth of the market has been predicted to continue in the following years, reaching over $60 billion in value by the year 2025; more than both the European and North American mobile games markets combined.

Chinese Mobile Games Revenues Doubled In Four Years

As the fastest-growing segment of the gaming industry, mobile games are expected to bring more than $110 billion in revenue this year. Around 40% of that value will come from China, home to nearly one-third of all mobile gamers globally.

According to Statista Digital Market Outlook, the Chinese mobile games market has witnessed the most impressive growth in recent years. In 2017, the entire industry was valued at $19.2 billion, but has since then more than doubled in value, soaring to $41.5 billion in 2021.

In comparison, Europe saw its mobile gaming revenues grow by 42% to $12.5 billion during this same period. North America followed with a 35% increase and $22.7 billion in revenue in 2021.

However, the following years are set to witness even more significant growth. By 2025, Chinese mobile gamers are forecast to increase their annual spending by $20 bilion. The revenues in the North American market are expected to grow by $10.3 billion in this period, followed by a $5.5 billion increase in the European market.

Nearly Half Of Chinese Citizens Will Be Playing Mobile Games By 2025

Mobile games have completely transformed the gaming industry, garnering a constant level of entertainment through the utilisation of cloud-based games and apps that work offline. The convenience of on-the-go entertainment will continue drawing hundreds of millions of users, especially in the leading markets like China.

According to Statista data, the Chinese mobile games industry had around 450 million users two years ago. The rising mobile phone penetration and the Covid-19 have added 113 million new users, with the total number reaching over 563 million in 2021. In the next four years, nearly half of the Chinese are expected to play mobile games, with the number of mobile gamers jumping over 662 million.

The North American mobile games market is expected to hit around 252 million users by then, 39 million more than in 2021. Europe follows with 233 million mobile gamers by 2025, up from 201 million this year.

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