No Cash and No Branch? Nah! Young Consumers Want Bricks and Mortar Services.

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The rush to close high street bank branches may be premature, according to the latest research from digital product agency, Somo. Young adults (18-24) starting out on their banking journey claim to use a bricks and mortar branch more than 25-44 year olds.

A staggering 41.7% of the 18-24 year age group surveyed state that a branch is the main place for them to do their banking. This is at odds with the record rate that bank branches are closing around the country; more than 60 a month, according to Which?.

In contrast to their younger peers, the 25-44 year-old group prefer to manage the majority of their banking online or via mobile, despite having more numerous and more complex banking needs.

The disparity in behaviours between the two groups so close in age speaks to the need for financial services to recognise the different life-stages and needs of customers and thus offer a blended approach, by fusing digital and physical products and services.

This desire for combining digital in-branch is echoed in the research. All age groups wanted shorter queues while better self-serve options like kiosks came second. Face time with advisors was most valued by the 25-34 age group which was prioritising budgeting and were the most likely to seek personalised advice.

The new research which surveyed 1000 UK adults also revealed:

  • The majority (63%) of UK banking customers prefer to interact with their bank(s) online, but a further 23% still want to visit a branch.
  • Contactless payments is preferred by 38% of Brits, but 33% would use card or cash and another 27% would prefer to use cash only.
  • Over half (56%) of Britons still use bank branches to deposit cheques while 44% use it to deposit or withdraw large sums. Over a third (35%) said it was the main place that they banked.
  • 43% of Brits are either very or somewhat negative about a cashless society.

Access to digital banking is more important than ever, providing convenience as well as actively helping people understand and manage their money better. But there is growing evidence to suggest that it is important to offer consumers choice, and that a move to the so-called ‘cashless’ society may be too rapid for some groups of customers, and will have a negative impact on communities and other businesses.

Which? found that cash machines were disappearing at a rate of nearly 500 a month between June and December 2018. The Labour Party has proposed a publicly-owned banking network, Post Bank, to be based within the Post Office network, providing up to 3,600 branches nationwide. The Party’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said: “Poor access to local bank branches hurts our town centres and local communities, particularly affecting elderly and more vulnerable customers, as well as damaging the ability of local small businesses to invest.”

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Study Finds One in Five UK Businesses Loses Revenue and Customers Due to Inaccurate Data

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A new report from Dun & Bradstreet reveals businesses are missing revenue opportunities and losing customers due to bad data practices. Almost 20 percent of businesses have lost a customer due to using incomplete or inaccurate information about them, with a further 15 percent saying they failed to sign a new contract with a customer for the same reason.

Nearly a quarter (22 percent) said their financial forecasts have been inaccurate, while 17 percent of organisations offered too much credit to a customer due to a lack of information about them – and lost money as a result.

The report, which surveyed over 500 business decision makers in the US and UK, also found stark discrepancies between both countries: compliance has been nearly twice as big of a concern in the UK than the US (31 percent vs. 16 percent), which may reflect the challenge of meeting the requirements of the GDPR. Already, over 10 percent of organisations report having been fined for data issues.

The way that data is structured appears to be a significant barrier in many organisations, with indications that data is often poorly structured, difficult to access and out of date. Nearly half of business leaders (46 percent) say that data is too siloed to make any sense of it, with the biggest challenges to making use of data being:

  • protecting data privacy (34 percent)
  • having accurate data (26 percent)
  • analysing/processing that data (24 percent).

This lack of structure may reflect the fact that 41 percent of business leaders say that no one in their organisation is responsible for the management of data. This absence of ownership may also be why 52 percent of business leaders said they haven’t had the budget to implement data management practices within their organisations.

“Businesses must make data governance and stewardship a priority,” said Monica Richter, Chief Data Officer, Dun & Bradstreet. “Whether leaders are exploring AI or predictive analytics, clean, defined data is key to the success of any programme and essential for mitigating risk and growing the business.”

The study does reveal a growing recognition that responsibility for data should be a priority for the C-suite. However, business leaders are divided as to who in the leadership team owns the data and what that will look like in the future. One thing all business leaders agree on is that the CEO has had, currently has and will have ultimate responsibility for data – more so than even the CTO or CIO.

The report also shows that two thirds (65 percent) of respondents say data will be vital to their organisation’s future success. However, under a quarter of organisations (22 percent) have staff that are dedicated to the management of data and less than one-fourth say that they have the right talent to implement effective data management.

Commenting on the findings, Anthony Scriffignano, Ph.D, Chief Data Scientist at Dun & Bradstreet, said: “Information has always been critical for businesses, but over the past decade, the volume of data, the types of information available and the ability to do new things with that data have expanded enormously. It’s not surprising that many business leaders feel they are still catching up and their organisations are yet to make the most of data – and some have even been fined or lost customers due to incomplete or ‘dirty’ data.”

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Facebook announces 32 job openings for blockchain

The social media giant Facebook has listed 32 job openings related to blockchain technology. The listings include programmers, financial accountants, data scientists and technology communications, according to the postings.

Facebook recently announced itsLibra cryptocurrency, which users will store on a wallet called Calibra. The job listings range from researchers to engineers to legal experts.

Congress hasrecently requested that Facebook halt development on Calibra and Libra until representatives have time to examine the products. This is due to previous privacy breaches alleged misuse by the social media company.


Topics: Bitcoin, Mobile/Digital Wallet, Regulatory Issues, Social Media


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OPAL IS Launches Replatforming Guidance for Banks and Insurers

Fintech solutions developer OPAL IS, part of OPAL Group, has launched guidance for banks and insurers to replatform more efficiently. Based on the group’s 35 years of experience, OPAL IS has highlighted three key themes of which financial providers need to be aware before embarking on a replatforming in order to make it fast, cost effective and secure.

1. Keep innovation outside of the legacy system

Keep the build outside of the legacy system in a ring-fenced development area, don’t mix the two together from the start. At the very least take a hard look at the benefits of migration versus cost and risk. What is required is a step by step development over a period of time with measurable milestones, triggers and reactions to the market. This reduces complexity so the focus is on the immediate needs for new products. There is less customer disruption and lower cost and risk because there’s no change to the existing systems and no data migration initially.

We know that what financial providers want to do is to deliver client solutions digitally and at pace.

2. Understand what problem you’re trying to solve to manage risk

Look through the ‘right end of the telescope’ by being clear what problem are you trying to solve? Do you need a new platform or do you need to launch new, competitively priced, attractive products in the channels that customers want to buy them in? Understand how best to keep distribution channels happy, maintain customer service levels, all while testing, learning and retesting. If the focus is cost and risk management, for example, keep in mind that old, complex books of business with very low customer volumes are not a priority where the risks outweigh the benefits and the key problem is how to deliver new products digitally rather than worrying about migrating old books. In these situations, OPAL suggests a selective approach to replatforming.

3. Assemble a specialist team with a proven track record

In-house teams often struggle with the specialist needs of replatforming projects. Build a team that will focus on the three main drivers in developing digital platform solutions – flexibility, speed and quality of build. Building new digital platforms and replatforming existing data doesn’t have to be fraught with complexity and doomed to failure. It just needs to be fully assessed in advance and then broken down into practical and manageable sections, but doing it efficiently, on time and to budget only comes with experience.

Eoin Lyons, OPAL Group CEO, said: “The last year has seen plenty of headlines about the bad experiences of banks and insurers when building and migrating to new platforms. Despite a huge budget, some of the biggest names failed to deliver, leaving clients locked out of new systems and budgets overrunning.

We know that what financial providers want to do is to deliver client solutions digitally and at pace. However, they are not always clear how best to do that and we believe our three rules should be front of mind when embarking on a replatforming project.“

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Aurora Chain Unveils Upgradable Blockchain Network

Public blockchain Aurora Chain has published a new feature – Upgradable Block, which brings more flexibility and utility to the public chain landscape. Developers using Aurora chain will be able to enjoy the latest features that Aurora brings and reduce cases of hard forking.

Hard forking has been a prevalent issue during the blockchain industry’s short history. Bitcoin alone has more than 6 hard forks including Bitcoin Classic and Bitcoin Cash. Furthermore, the already forked Bitcoin Cash forked again last year by it’s two major mining pools, creating BCHABC and BCHSV.

While hard forks can be a good way to gain attention in social media, ultimately it lowered the utility of bitcoins and undermined its mining capability. For more up-to-date and advanced blockchains, this could potentially be catastrophic. As a result, the Aurora tech team developed a solution that can reduce this risk.

The solution requires mining agents or agent candidates to vote for upgrading the blockchain within a 14 day limit. When votes for an upgrade exceeds the total number of voting agents and agent candidates, this upgrade passes and a block height will be chosen for implementing the new upgrade.

An upgrade should include URL of the version released on Github, the version code, description of the update and md5 information of the new upgrade.

When the upgrading program on the network receives an upgrading request, it will automatically retrieve the new release and proceed to verify this version. Once the verification is successful, the test network will be activated.

“This is a major step for us, we’ve been aware of the scalability issues that the industry is facing.”

Users can try this new version on the test network. If any problems or glitches occur before the implementation of the release, the agent that requested the upgrade can put the upgrade to a halt. Until the halt is revoked, the upgrade will not be carried out even if the network reaches the agreed block height.

The solution has two smart contracts and an upgrade control:

Smart contract A manages the upgrade smart contract, which is smart contract B. It can substitute the old version of the blockchain code with the new one

Smart contract B regulates the process of voting and retrieving of an upgrade. It supervises 5 major parts of the solution:

  1. Agents and Agent node candidate votings
  2. Other mining agents or agent candidates participating in the voting process
  3. The upgrade is passed when “Yes” votes exceed 2/3 of the total number of the mining agents and agent candidates
  4. The agent that requests the upgrade can halt the upgrading process in case of emergency
  5. The agent that requests the upgrade can resume the upgrading process

Upgrading control has three purposes:

  1. To oversee the whole network, supervise the initiation, processing, and pausing/abandoning the upgrade.
  2. Monitor the communication between contract A and contract b,
  3. Optimize the concurrence of Testnet and Mainnet.

Aurora chain CEO Aqua Zhao commented:

“This is a major step for us, we’ve been aware of the scalability issues that the industry is facing. Our network is already faster than most public chains, however ‘Upgradable Blockchain’ further boosts our scalability and utility.”

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Fintech Alliance Closes Partnership with Delio to Power Funding for Startups Directly Through its Platform

Fintech Alliance, a digital platform launching on 10th June to unite both the UK and the global financial technology sector, has announced a partnership with Welsh startup Delio, a private asset investment infrastructure as a service company, to power its funding feature. The deal will enable startups within the alliance’s community to access important routes to funding directly through the organisation’s website.

Fintech Alliance was announced in late April by the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT), to bring together the strengths of the UK’s Fintech ecosystem in one destination. The platform officially launches on 10th June and is built on providing opportunity and education to those working in the Fintech sector.

One of the core missions of the Fintech Alliance is to enable the FinTech ecosystem to continue to grow across the UK. Funding plays a key role in this, and the partnership with Delio will enable the platform’s community to connect with investors and capital directly.

For both Fintechs looking for funding and for high net-worth investors looking for funding opportunities the process of using the platform is straightforward. Once registered, companies can post a project they seek to be funded, including details and relevant documents. When the project is approved, they are able to track investor engagement via a dashboard and interact directly with investors that are interested. The investment portal gives investors a truly end-to-end solution, from distribution to execution all the way through to portfolio reporting. Delio already provides its technology to companies like ING and Barclays.

One of the core missions of the Fintech Alliance is to enable the FinTech ecosystem to continue to grow across the UK.

Alastair Lukies CBE, Member of the Prime Ministers Business Council and Chair of FinTech Alliance, said: “The Alliance is here for the whole of the UK so we are thrilled to have such a prominent Welsh Fintech, Delio, on board, helping us build a crucial functionality into our platform.”

Gareth Lewis, Co-Founder and CEO, Delio, added: “At Delio, we already work with a wide range of firms to provide effective digital private market solutions. Given the importance of the UK Fintech sector, we are really excited now to provide the Fintech Alliance with our platform. Using it will help companies and investors match the best funding opportunities and, in turn, power the continued growth of UK Fintech.”

Individuals or a company can build a profile on the Fintech Alliance, where users will be able to access and share a wealth of insight and news across the platform, connect with investors, receive updates on the latest policy and regulatory changes, and find the talent they need in order to scale.

Individuals can register for free and businesses have to pay a monthly subscription or annual fee for a presence on the Fintech Alliance’s platform. The profits made by the organisation will be used to drive further initiatives and support pre-existing organisations in the UK Fintech community.

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New Fears Over China’s Regional Banks As EY Quits

China’s community banks are raising new fears over the health of the industry after auditor Ernst & Young resigned from its work with regional bank Bank of Jinzhou.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday (June 3) that EY submitted its resignation letter to the bank after the institution did not provide sufficient documentation over certain loans under review by EY. Reports noted that EY found evidence that proceeds from the loans may not have been used for their stated purpose, and according to a filing from the bank, Bank of Jinzhou could not reach an agreement with EY to resolve the issue.

Reports said the decision for EY to quit is the latest event to raise concerns over China’s community banking sector.

Last month, the government took control of a struggling regional bank, Baoshang Bank, marking the first such event in more than two decades. The publication said the takeover resulted in higher interbank lending rates on mainland China last week.

In the last year, small and mid-sized banks in China have seen increases in nonperforming loan ratios, the result of government rules to classify loans more than 90 days past due as nonperforming.

For Bank of Jinzhou, that means $1.2 billion of loans at risk of default, worth 3.3 percent of its loan portfolio — a significant increase from early 2018, reports said.

Despite concerns, the People’s Bank of China said the takeover of Baoshang Bank was an “isolated incident,” reports said. The central bank urged investors and the public to look at the case “objectively and calmly.”

“Everyone, please don’t worry,” the central bank reportedly said at the time. “At present we don’t yet have this plan” to introduce revised policy that could make government takeovers of struggling banks more common.

As some fears increase over China’s community banking space, the government is allowing more foreign entities to obtain banking licenses, while the central bank is also planning to strengthen regulation over FinTechs.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.

Paytm Eyes Insurance Marketplace Coverfox

Paytm, the Indian payments company backed by SoftBank, is reportedly in late-stage discussions to buy Coverfox, the Indian insurance marketplace.

According to a report in the Economic Times, Paytm is in talks to pay $100 million to $120 million in what will be an all-cash deal. The report cited two people aware of the matter for the information. It would mark the biggest acquisition for the Indian digital payments company that has emerged as a leader ever since India’s government took high-denominated currency out of the system and shifted to digital payments. With the resulting cash crunch, Paytm became a household name. The company counts Alibaba, the Chinese eCommerce giant, as a backer as well.

The fact that SoftBank’s Vision Fund is an investor in PolicyBazaar, another insurance marketplace, could raise issues with an acquisition deal closing, sources reportedly said. One source told the paper the Paytm board is finalizing the details of the deal. There’s a chance it could still fall apart.

To date, the news outlet said, Coverfox raised $40 million in venture funding from investors including SAIF Partners, Accel Partners, Catamaran Ventures and International Finance Corp. If a deal is reached, the paper noted, these investors are expected to receive an exit.

News of a potential deal to acquire Coverfox comes as the company is looking to expand in India. Earlier this month it announced it partnered with Citigroup to launch a credit card in the country. The Paytm First Card will give Indian consumers 1 percent cash back on all transactions. For Paytm, the new card is aimed at helping it stand out from the crowd of digital payment rivals that seems to be growing every day. In an interview with Reuters, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of Paytm parent One97 Communications, said the company is completing its offering by launching the credit card with Citibank. “We understood that there is a set of the customer base or customer needs that get fulfilled when you have a credit card or card in the hand,” the executive said.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.