Security Token news for Week Ending Friday 28 February 2020

Security Token news for Week ending 14 February 2020

Here is our pick of the 3 most important Security Tokens news stories during the week:

Commercial Real Estate Marketplace Red Swan Tokenizes $2.2 billion In Real Estate Through Security Token Platform Polymath 

Red Swan CEO Ed Nwokedi:  “…in the past [real estate tokenization was attempted on] platforms like Harbor, Propellr and Fluidity, which were really tech companies…They didn’t really have the real estate background or the expertise to understand how the private real estate market works.”

New York-based Red Swan says it has tokenized $2.2 billion in commercial real estate representing 16 different Class A commercial properties based in Texas, California and Ontario, Canada. CEO Nwokedi disclosed Red Swan is in the process of becoming a registered investment adviser, which will allow it to manage assets for accredited investors. The tokens are ST-20 tokens running on Ethereum.

Security Token Platform Dusk Network Says It Will Tokenize Shares For Thousands Of SMEs In The Greater Benelux Region

The Amsterdam-based company announced Thursday it has partnered with Firm24, one of the region’s largest shareholder registries, and will use blockchain for an automated infrastructure that could introduce market efficiencies and transform how shares, that are not publicly listed, are traded.

Firm24 has more than 35,000 SMEs from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (known as the Benelux region).  Firm24 hopes to deploy a tokenized share register to automate corporate actions and connect customers directly, creating tokenized representatives of share certificates that are freely tradable.

LuxTag Claims First Successful Security Token Offering in Malaysia

LuxTag announced it has closed on a $360,000 token offering. The crowdfunding round saw 51% of the funds denominated in Bitcoin and XEM (NEM).  LuxTag claims to be Malaysia’s very first successful token offering. The securities offering was hosted on PitchIn.

LuxTag is an anti-counterfeit, track and trace and anti-theft solution provider. LuxTag utilizes the NEM blockchain platform and NEM’s native tokens (XEM) to run its blockchain operations. The service revolves around digitized certificates of authenticity for tangible products, linking to brands and owners through multi-signature smart contracts and the IoT (Internet of Things) elements.

The company included among its customers Chronoswiss, a Swiss watchmaker, the International Islamic University of Malaysia (for securing authenticity of graduation certificates) and Defeet International, a sports apparel brand based in the US.

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

For context on Security Tokens please read the chapter on Security Tokens in our Blockchain Economy book and read articles tagged Security Tokens in our archives. 

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Commitment, FOMO, and Capital: How Smart Corporates Make Partnerships Work

With one startup for every 1,400 citizens, Israel may have the highest “innovation per capita” ratio of any country on Earth.

That makes it little surprise that Itai Green, founder and CEO of Innovate Israel, would be the one to help explain what corporates need to do in order to make the most out of their collaborations with startups at FinovateEurope in Berlin last month.

Green advocates an innovation model – open innovation – in which corporates leverage their local ecosystems to collaborate and partner with startups, entrepreneurs, universities – even customers and other corporates – in order to develop whatever products or services will allow it to grow and expand. This argues against the in-house innovation model, which many have found to be an insufficient way of driving major innovation due to factors ranging from a lack of internal incentives to inconsistent and/or unclear support from management.

Green made the case to our audience that open innovation provides the lowest risk and the greatest return on investment a company can ask for – if they do it right.

In his presentation at FinovateEurope this month, Green outlined the most important factors that businesses need to keep in mind when working with innovative companies in an open innovation context. He listed nine distinct “Tips for Corporates” – a few of the more compelling ones are highlighted below.

Commitment – A theme that was quite common at FinovateEurope in Berlin this year – that bringing tech-savvy diversity to a financial institution’s board of directors was a must – was echoed strongly by Green. He advocated that companies have at least one technology/innovation-oriented board member – though having three, he noted, was far better. Green said that this kind of board representation was increasingly common in Israel where he pointed out that boards of directors typically had 20% of their members under the age of 40. Compare this to the S&P 500, where the age of the average board member is above 60.

FOMO > NIH – Even among companies that have recognized the importance of digital transformation, there can be a reluctance by corporates to embrace non-native ideas. This “Not Invented Here” attitude can be especially harmful when working with innovative startups, who often arrive on the scene with a passion to, if not disrupt, then certainly make a clear difference for their partner and a strong representation of their technology.

Green argues that a “Fear of Missing Out” on the next big opportunity is a more healthy psychology for the corporate when working with a startup rather than any sense of injured pride at not having come up with the innovation on their own.

Show Startups the Money – Another highlight on Green’s list was the importance of paying for the work. This was a point that Steve Frook of Best of Show winner Horizn would underscore in his FinovateEurope presentation, Landing Your First Bank Customer, later that day. From Frook’s perspective, it was important that startups avoid the temptation to, essentially, work for free in an attempt to show their enthusiasm and eagerness to collaborate. Establishing a business relationship – even a modest one – was an important early step for startups to take, Frook suggested. Green, from the perspective of advising the corporate, concurred. Companies should come to collaborations with startups with a budget and be prepared to use it. Paying startups, Green explained, sends a positive, professional signal to the company and to the broader community of innovators and entrepreneurs, as well.

Founded in 2017, Innovate Israel helps partner global corporations with innovative entrepreneurs and startups in Israel to help them implement advanced technologies in their businesses.

US is now Afterpay’s largest customer market

Afterpay’s efforts to embed itself in the U.S. retail ecosystem are showing results.  The point-of-sale lender announced this week it has more U.S. customers than customers in New Zealand and in Australia, where it is headquartered. This is the first time since the company’s 2014 launch that its U.S. customer numbers have outperformed other markets.  …Read More

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Figure VP Tony Morosini to speak at Bank Innovation Ignite

Tony Morosini, vice president of banking and payments at Figure, will attend and speak at Bank Innovation Ignite on March 2-3 in Seattle.

Morosini will share insights and perspectives on lessons banks can learn from big tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook during the fourth session on Monday, March 2.

Prior to his role at Figure, Morosini served as vice president at personal finance startup Sofi Money, where he built and managed SoFi‘s consumer deposit savings and checking account and developed products like personal loans, student loans and mortgages. Prior to that, he was director of product at Visa for 10 years.

See also: Stevens of Fifth Third to give fireside chat at Bank Innovation Ignite

“We realize that the hardest thing in the world is to get people to move off their existing bank,” Morosini previously told Fast Company.

Founded in 2018, Figure is an financial AI and blockchain startup based in the San Francisco Bay Area that has raised $1.2 billion to date, according to Crunchbase. It works with clients to find financial solutions for customer needs like home improvement, debt consolidation and retirement planning.

Banking Automation Summit, which takes place from June 1-2 in Miami, is a unique opportunity to share insights, trends, strategies and best practices on back-office automation in financial services with the industry’s leading practitioners. Register here.

iwoca Locks in $109 Million in Debt Financing to Help Fund German SMEs

With more than $1.1 billion (€1 billion) provided to small businesses in the U.K. and Germany, London-based SME lender iwoca announced today that it has received $109 million (€100 million) in debt financing from Insight Investment. The new capital will help iwoca continue its work in funding entrepreneurs in Germany.

The investment takes iwoca’s total debt and equity financing to more than $550 million (€500 million). The company, one of the largest fintech SME lenders in Germany, plans to double its workforce in the country to 100 employees and will use the funds to help scale its loan book to give institutional investors more opportunities to participate in the SME credit market.

“More than 90% of companies in Germany are small businesses, yet many of them suffer from poor access to finance as traditional lenders can’t support them the way they need it,” iwoca CEO and co-founder Christoph Rieche explained.

“Our mission is to change that. With Insight Investment we have found a very agile and responsive partner that complements our mission-driven way of working. They provide the perfect basis for us to enter a new phase of growth in Germany,” Rieche said.

Iwoca has gained more than 50,000 customers since offering its first loan in 2012, and lent more than $1.1 billion (€1 billion) to U.K. and German-based businesses. The company offers short-term financing of up to £200,000, and only charges interest – starting at 2% a month – for the days the borrower actually has the money. Iwoca also makes it easy for companies to apply for a top up in the event that additional financing is required, enabling their credit to grow along with their businesses.

The company partnered with German business banking platform Penta late last year, enabling the challenger bank to launch its credit solution. We took a look at challenger banks in Germany as part of our FinovateEurope coverage this month. Last summer iwoca launched a pair of real-time loan integrations with U.K.-based financial marketplaces Funding Xchange and Funding Options.

Among the first fintechs in the U.K. to leverage open banking to offer a lending API, iwoca has been named to the Deliotte Fast 50 and was recognized by cloud accounting platform – and Finovate alum – Xero as its Financial Services App of the Year in 2018 and its Emerging App Partner of the Year in 2017.

Lendio Lands $55 Million to Match Small Businesses with Lenders

Online marketplace for small business loans Lendio landed $55 million in combined debt and equity funding today. The investment more than doubles the company’s previous funding, bringing its total to $108.5 million.

The equity portion of the Series E round was led by Mercato Partners’ Traverse Fund, which contributed $31 million, and included contributions from existing investors Napier Park Financial Partners, Comcast Ventures, Blumberg Capital, Stereo Capital, and Runa Capital. Signature Bank led the debt facility with $24 million.

Founded in 2011, Lendio serves as a matchmaker that connects small businesses seeking funding with its network of over 75 lenders. Since Lendio launched at FinovateSpring in 2011, the Utah-based company has funded more than 100,000 loans totaling $2 billion. Over the past two years, Lendio has seen an average year-over-year growth rate of 75%.

CEO Brock Blake called today’s investment a “significant milestone” for the company. “With these funds, we are strongly positioned to grow our existing platform as a trusted loan facilitator that supports both lenders and borrowers, while building out a range of new integrated lending services that get the right loans into the right hands at the right time.”

Lendio will use today’s investment to increase the scope and precision of its flagship loan marketplace; expand lender services functions, which provide lenders access to a white-labeled online loan application; and enhance its small business bookkeeping platform, Sunrise by Lendio. The company launched Sunrise last year after acquiring online bookkeeping startup Billy. The new service aims to help Lendio’s small business clients manage their cash flow and monitor their overall financial health.

“Lendio’s ability to combine data analytics with the human touch to connect small businesses quickly and precisely with ideal lending partners has made all the difference in its success,” said Ryan Sanders, senior investor at Mercato Partners Traverse Fund. “Lendio uniquely solves the problem of inefficient capital for small businesses by bridging lenders and borrowers. They are able to connect both sides and facilitate loans faster and more effectively between small business owners and lending institutions. Lendio’s impressive growth is a result of its technology-backed personalized service which has created a loyal and growing following in the industry.”

DoorDash files draft IPO registration with SEC

DoorDash has announced a confidential submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering. 

It submitted the draft registration in an S-1 filing with the SEC but has not determined the number of shares to be offered or the price range.

Topics: Delivery, Online / Mobile / Social, Policy / Legislation

Companies: DoorDash

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Grubhub now delivering subscription service

Grubhub now delivering subscription service


Grubhub is jumping on the subscription model bandwagon with its launch of Grubhub+, a membership program offering members unlimited free delivery for $9.99. Members also receive 10% cashback and donation matching to organizations like No Kid Hungry, according to a company press release. 

The service pays for itself if customers order more than $100 in food per month, said Sam Hall, Grubhub’s chief product officer.

“Whether they’re trying us out for the first time or order many times a week, diners already love our exclusive Perks,” he said in the release. “Now with Grubhub+, we’re excited to dramatically expand rewards while doubling our charitable impact and assisting with our elite support teams. We’ve pulled out all the stops for this program.”

Anyone can sign up for a free 14-day trial, and for a limited time, diners participating in any other food delivery subscription program may receive an extended 30-day free trial. Additionally, all students enrolled in any of the 150+ campuses that work with Grubhub will receive Grubhub+ for free.

“Generous diner rewards are at the core of Grubhub’s competitive strategy,” Matt Maloney, Grubhub founder and CEO, said in the releae. “As the only profitable company in our space, we are leveraging our profits to stay laser-focused on having the most restaurants in the network and giving away as much free food as possible. With the most restaurants and the best loyalty programs, we believe that we have the right formula and are ideally positioned for success.”

After more than $200 million dollars in rewards were redeemed by diners across Grubhub platforms in 2019, Grubhub+ is a continuation of Grubhub’s strategy to offer the most rewards in the industry. Last year, Grubhub launched Perks, which offers exclusive deals and savings along with new ways to earn and redeem restaurant loyalty rewards. Grubhub+ is a natural extension of Perks with free delivery and 10% Cashback, according to the company.

Grubhub+ includes additional benefits like access to Elite Care, special menus and events. The program also helps diners to do more for their communities because Grubhub will match member donations made with orders placed at Grubhub+ restaurants through its Donate the Change feature. Over the past year, Grubhub diners have donated more than $10 million to No Kid Hungry by simply rounding up and donating their change, and now Grubhub will match subscribers’ donations, giving members the opportunity to double their impact.

“Grubhub diners have shown significant interest in supporting their local communities. With their help, we made dramatic progress toward ending childhood hunger in the United States, but we still have a long way to go,” Billy Shore, founder and executive chair of Share Our Strength, said in the release.  “By matching subscribers’ donations, Grubhub is doubling down on their commitment to help us provide children with more meals. Grubhub+ members are doing twice as much good simply by joining the program and opting to donate their change.”


Topics: Loyalty Programs, Mobile Apps, Mobile Payments, Restaurants

Companies: Grubhub

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Panera launches coffee subscription plan

Panera launches coffee subscription plan


Subscription services have gained popularity with customers with companies like Birch Box and Dollar Shave Club leading the way to disrupt their industries, and Panera Bread is hoping that its coffee subscription service will entice the more than 160 million American adults who drink coffee every day.

The chain is offering unlimited hot drip coffee, iced coffee and hot tea for $8.99 per month.

“Coffee is an important daily ritual for so many — it can give you a dose of optimism — it lifts you up,” Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary said in a company press release. “We kept asking ourselves, why can’t it be more accessible, more affordable? Moreover, could unlimited coffee translate to unlimited optimism?”

The goal, Chaudhary said, was to eliminate the price barrier and the false choices between convenience and quality — between good coffee and craveable food.  

“Panera is a challenger brand and with unlimited coffee we are disrupting the coffee business,” Chaudhary said. “We are challenging the status quo because we believe everyone deserves a full cup, literally and figuratively.”

The average American spends $1,100 on coffee a year, so Panera’s subscription could save guests nearly $1,000 per year, Chaudhary said.

The coffee subscription is available now to members of MyPanera, Panera’s free loyalty program, which allows members to register for the subscription via the Panera website and mobile app. Customers may also sign up Monday via QR code in Panera cafes.

In addition to its revamped coffee offerings and in line with its commitment to plant-based options, Panera has also removed the upcharge for plant-based milk in all U.S. Panera bakery-cafes.  Almond milk is now available on the coffee station free of charge, and the company is  exploring adding other non-dairy alternatives, according to the release. 


Topics: Loyalty Programs, Mobile Apps, Mobile Payments, Restaurants

Companies: Panera Bread

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PayPal rolls back revenue guidance due to coronavirus

PayPal rolls back revenue guidance due to coronavirus

PayPal Holdings Inc. rolled back its first-quarter revenue guidance, citing the impact of the international coronavirus outbreak on cross-border e-commerce activity.

PayPal expects revenue to come in at the lower end of its previous forecast of $4.78 billion to $4.84 billion, citing a one percentage point reduction in international cross-border e-commerce activity due to COVID-19. 

The company is maintaining its prior earnings forecast of 76 to 78 cents a share for the quarter on a non-GAAP basis. 

Coronavirus has rapidly spread from China to other major countries, killing 2,800, infecting 82,000 people worldwide and resulting in the withdrawal of airline service from numerous carriers and temporary shutdowns of international restaurant chains and other brands operating in parts of China. 

The forecast comes days after Mastercard warned of a two- to three-point reduction in first-quarter revenue growth due to coronavirus, resulting in a forecast of about 9-10% growth, compared with the year-ago period. 

Cover image: PayPal

Topics: Card Brands, Earnings Reports, Financial News, Mobile Apps, Mobile Payments, Region: APAC, Trends / Statistics

Companies: PayPal, MasterCard

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Ashburn embraces TaaS model for payments

Žoržas Šarafanovičius, executive director of Ashburn International, cited the importance of “terminal as a service” and other payment technology trends following the recent Ingenico Paytech Summit in Barcelona, Spain. Ashburn International is a Vilnius, Lithuania-based provider of payment card solutions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and a member of the Penki Kontinentai Group, which develops and implements software solutions for authorization of payment cards and network management of EFTPOS terminals. He shared the following insights about payment services and device management with Ingenico after the summit.

Q: What was the key topic of the forum?

Ingenico representatives spoke about creating a secure and flexible cloud platform for payment services that can be integrated into the existing client infrastructure. Ingenico is completely reoriented from product to solution. This is not an improvement of a product or service. The idea is to develop a system for implementing the full payment cycle, which can be used by partners and end-users, choosing the modules necessary for a specific business case.

Q: What are the platform’s features?

The new system should be safe, flexible and accessible to all customers through open APIs. Modularity implies the ability to select only the necessary functionality and quickly deploy it in the client’s infrastructure. The system will provide omnichannel transactions routing and aggregated data analytics. The pay-per-use model aims to reduce costs.

Q: How relevant is the Ingenico transformation to your company?

We are glad that the philosophy we have been following for more than 15 years — software as a service, terminal as a service — is becoming the strategy of such global companies as Ingenico. The functionality of our TransLink.iQ system also implies centralized fleet management, comprehensive real-time monitoring, multi-banking, multi-merchant, multi-hosting and multi-vendor capabilities. We seek synergies with Ingenico to provide fast payment services.

Q: How do banks and financial companies perceive a new approach?

Some clients relate to such a model with a certain degree of skepticism since it assumes a new way of interaction from both the economic and organizational sides. However, the rapid development of technologies and constant updates of software components highlight a solution that includes a payment device, its maintenance, transaction delivery and analytics.

Q: What other payment technology trends were presented at the summit?

The modern world dictates new conditions for making payments. Today, the payment function itself is no longer a commodity. A combined multi-channel approach to customer service comes to the fore. It includes the choice of a product or service, the purchase process, delivery and payment. Chat and voice bots, acting as consultants, as well as face recognition, are used to speed up payment. The phone becomes a payment terminal in which the payment function is integrated into the business application.

The latest developments in the field of EFTPOS terminals were presented at the exhibition booths. Due to the introduction of special software, Android devices turn into multifunctional terminals that can serve, for example, as cash registers. Our company has already implemented such a solution in Georgia and Uzbekistan, which allowed us to feel trendy. As part of the global payment ecosystem, we strive to anticipate the customers’ expectations.

Photo courtesy of Ingenico.

Lloyds Bank cutting 780 jobs as consumers shun branches

Lloyds Bank cutting 780 jobs as consumers shun branches

Lloyds Banking Group is slashing 780 jobs as the U.K. financial institution faces an industry wide shift of customers moving away from in-person branch visits to digital banking. 

United, a UK-based labor union, announced Wednesday that Lloyds notified workers about 780 jobs at branches across its Lloyds, Bank of Scotland and Halifax bank brands. Union officials said they understood the changing nature of the banking industry but urged Lloyds to reconsider the cuts. 

Company officials confirmed that it cut jobs in an email, but address specific details of the number and location of the cuts. 

“As customers are using our branches less often, we are reducing the number of roles across our branch network,” a spokesperson for Lloyds said via email. “This means we can shape our service according to customer behavior and local demand. Change does mean difficult decisions and we are focused on supporting our colleagues at this time.”

Officials familiar with the bank confirmed there would not be any specific branch closures. 

Cover image: Lloyds

Topics: ATMs, Mobile Banking, Region: EMEA

Companies: Lloyds Bank plc

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Deutsche Bank recently released its The Future of Payments research report

Deutsche Bank recently released its The Future of Payments research report, which outlined that over 60% of British respondents expressed that cash is still their preferred method of payment, and will always be around despite the rise of digital payments. This sentiment is particularly true for those aged over 35 and those living in the countryside.


You may find this comment from Mark Aldred, banking specialist at Auriga, of use. Auriga is a European technology company that helps banks expand their use of ATMs and other self-service banking. They are instrumental in helping retail banks in Italy, Belgium, France, UK, Portugal and Mexico to take a different approach to how branch networks are cut back and how ATMs can be used to generate revenues and offer more services. 

 “One of the main reasons why cash is under threat is due to the high and rising operational costs of running ATMs. Additionally, the convenience of contactless digital payments seems to be pushing the use of cash closer to extinction. However, cash usage isn’t declining across the board – we need to recognise the strong attachment customers have with using ATMs to manage their financial affairs.

 Nearly one in two Britons visit a cashpoint weekly. Cash is losing its pre-eminence, but it is going to continue to be part of a wider mix of payment methods – especially against a backdrop of the questionable reliability of other bank channels following a string of high-profile outages of online and mobile banking services. Indeed, the reliability and security of an ATM is often unmatched by those other channels.

 “Protecting access to cash for all communities from inner cities to remotest rural areas is vital. Communities need access to not just cash but an array of banking services that support local economies. There is a need for greater imagination from some parts of the industry to use advances in self-service banking technology that can give a community a bank branch in a box or rejuvenate their bank branch as a focal point for financial services. The ability to customise modern ATMs to offer additional services from paying a bill to doing a live video call with a financial product specialist also allows cash access to be subsidised through generating extra revenues. Perhaps the government should stride in to help if the industry doesn’t do more to help itself, but I am optimistic that we can evolve cash access to better serve customers if we break the old mould of how ATMs are operated.” 

 Auriga is a leading supplier of software and technological solutions for the banking and payments industries, and a specialist provider of innovative omnichannel solutions to banks and other financial institutions. Its solutions, deployed on over 70% of Italian ATMs, are founded on modern architecture and improve time to market for new services while lowering costs and building long-term competition. 

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Fintech News Issue #257

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Virgin Money to slash 500 jobs, consolidate or close 52 branches

Virgin Money to slash 500 jobs, consolidate or close 52 branches

Virgin Money will slash 500 jobs and also close 22 branches outright and consolidate another 30 branches into another nearby Clydesdale Bank/Yorkshire Bank or Virgin Money location as part of an integration following its 2018 merger with Clydesdale Bank.

Clydesdale Bank’s acquisition of Virgin Money was approved in October 2019, creating a single bank with 6.4 million customers. The branches will be integrated and operate under the Virgin Money name by October 2020. 

“The decision to close branches is never taken lightly,” Lucy Dimes, group transformation officer at Virgin Money UK, said in a company release. “The changes announced today are focused on consolidated branches where there is another Clydesdale Bank/Yorkshire Bank/Virgin Money location within a half-mile and closing a number of branches to reflect changes in public demand.”

Cover image: iStock

Topics: Mobile Banking, Region: EMEA

Companies: Virgin Group Ltd.

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Banking Circle Secures Banking Licence
  • Regulator approval enables Banking Circle to deliver game-changer for Payments businesses and Banks
  • As a fully licensed bank free of legacy systems it can deliver financial infrastructure at low cost with world-class compliance and security
  • Access to real-time payments regardless of borders and size of operator

Banking Circle, which has made a name for itself over the last 4 years as a financial utility, has received its Banking Licence from the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) in Luxembourg. 

 Banking Circle is now a financial infrastructure for payments and banking, giving financial institutions access to real-time payments regardless of borders and regardless of size. Payments and Banking businesses will be able to seize market opportunities in the new economy without having to commit to significant investment in their own internal infrastructure. Banking Circle bank branches are already open in the UK, Germany and Denmark and marking this significant step, Banking Circle officially opened its headquarters in Luxembourg today, attended by Mr Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg Minister of Finance with Anders la Cour, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Banking Circle.

 Commenting on Banking Circle’s choice of Luxembourg for its headquarters, Mr Gramenga said: “Given Luxembourg’s role as a leading financial centre in Europe and a hub for payment services, it made complete sense for Banking Circle, a provider of banking and payments infrastructure for businesses transacting globally, to choose Luxembourg as its headquarters. Being able to operate on a pan-European basis with a Luxembourg banking licence enables businesses like Banking Circle to give their clients additional confidence when it comes to security and compliance rigour.”

Already processing EUR 130 billion run-rate annual payment volumes, Banking Circle has seen high growth every year since its launch to the market in late 2015. Anders la Cour believes securing the Banking Licence will significantly elevate Banking Circle’s role in the digital financial economy. “In the last four years we have built a financial infrastructure that numerous Payments businesses have adopted to process their cross border payments. We have also tackled the limited access to funds for SMEs with our lending solutions.

 “Securing our Banking Licence gives us the ability to deliver bank accounts on a global scale so that we can extend our propositions, enabling Payments businesses, such as PSPs and acquirers, to offer banking services to their clients without having to invest in their own costly infrastructure. We’re also providing Banks with the ability to extend the services they can offer to their business clients without facing hefty infrastructure investment and regulatory burden.

 “Securing a Banking Licence in Europe was always an inevitable goal in the development of Banking Circle. It’s also another vital step in tackling the financial exclusion that exists globally, by opening access to banking services regardless of borders. We can now extend the range of services for financial services providers, as well as extend the geographies in which we can operate.”


Launched at the end of 2015, Banking Circle has created a new category in financial services – that of a financial infrastructure for payments and banking – delivering mission-critical infrastructure for a range of financial services including online cross border payments and loans.

 Acquired by the EQT VIII fund (“EQT VIII”) and EQT Ventures fund (“EQT Ventures”) (jointly “EQT”), together with company founders and other co-investors in September 2018, Banking Circle has been able to accelerate its growth in current and new geographies, with access to both operational and financial resources to drive innovation and investments in technology development and talent acquisition. Banking Circle has also leveraged the entire EQT platform, including deep TMT sector expertise, local presence and EQT’s global network of Industrial Advisors.

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The Bank of England select AutoRek’s automated reconciliation and data management solution

In recent weeks, AutoRek were delighted to announce The Bank of England as the latest addition to their growing list of clients. Following a competitive tender, the Bank selected AutoRek to automate their reconciliation processes and achieve increased efficiencies. The two-phase project will work across both Finance and Operations and provide a centralised platform for their daily and monthly reconciliation tasks.

The Bank of England (BoE) is the UK’s central bank. Their mission is to deliver monetary and financial stability for the people of the United Kingdom. As they have selected AutoRek as a tool to ensure their financial data accuracy, it is a source of great pride for the whole firm.

Commenting on the deal Gordon McHarg, Managing Director added “It is a testament to the whole AutoRek team that we have been able to successfully engage with an institution such as the Bank of England. As we enter our 25th year of operations we have and continue to work with a broad range of leading Insurance, Investment Management and Banking organisations. I look forward to AutoRek delivering value and efficiencies for the Bank as we move into the implementation phase.”

The Fintech Times asked Hugh Burden, Head of Banking at AutoRek to explain a little bit more about the problems they were addressing for the Bank of England and the wider financial services industry.

Existing problems around data in the financial services

Today, financial institutions are confronted by more assertive and aggressive regulators as well as wider and more intrusive rules. Auditors expect ready access to books and records; indeed such granular understanding of the firm’s position is also in the interest of the firm who are pursuing an efficient Audit. Banks, insurance companies, fund managers and other financial firms face tough and challenging times and it is becoming somewhat less appropriate to house these processes on complicated spreadsheets. Both the volume and complexity of reporting that organisations are required to complete is increasing. All of this leads to added pressure for firms to reconcile the data needed to ensure perfect alignment between finance and risk reporting, both for internal use and externally for regulators. Failing to do this will expose organisations to reputational damage, regulatory sanctions and in some cases financial penalties.


AutoRek offers a range of solutions other than financial controls. AutoRek can assist firms with regulatory reporting for regulations such as CASS, MiFID II and IFRS 17 as well as data management and cash allocation. By working in the industry for over 25 years, AutoRek have understood that no two clients are ever the same. The software is completely configurable to suit individual client’s needs.

What is next for the Financial Services?

Data accuracy is only becoming more and more important for firms, especially within the financial services sector. In a recent survey of 100 Heads & Directors of Data Management, IT Finance, and Operations carried out by AutoRek and WBR (Worldwide Business Research), 71% of respondents said that data management had become a board level concern and 46% had said that they are actively seeking new technologies to assist data governance. It is certain that technology is becoming a bigger part of the way we do business and not going anywhere any time soon. Firms need to embrace this era with new technologies and software that are out there to keep in the race.

Future of AutoRek

Although it has a global presence, for the last 25 years, AutoRek has been predominantly been working with in the UK and focusing on Asset Management and Banking. In 2020 and beyond, AutoRek are looking to have a larger presence in the Insurance sector as well as banking and asset management and expanding into the US market. With having an established partnership with Cforia Software Inc, a working capital and accounts receivable (A/R) automation software, AutoRek are well on their way to achieving their goals. Gordon McHarg has commented that its vision is “Striving to establish AutoRek as the global provider of data management and financial control solutions”.

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From Adam Smith to the Glasgow Economic Forum 2020

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What was the most important document published in 1776? Most Americans would probably say “The Declaration of Independence”. But many would argue that Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” had a far bigger and more global impact.

The University Glasgow in Scotland is home to the “Father of Capitalism”. Since Adam Smith published his works that revolutionized the world’s marketplaces, the progress over the last two hundred fifty years has been explosive. Year after year, the world has grown more connected and more prosperous.

Today, the world is far more complex because of globalization, climate change, population growth and movement, and we need new approaches to problems.

True to his spirit, for the fifth year in a row, students from the Adam Smith Business School at the University of Glasgow, are organizing the Glasgow Economic Forum (GEF). This is a student-led conference that brings together academics and professionals to share and exchange ideas that can stimulate discussion on how we can approach these complex problems.

The two-day event will be led by world-class speakers from Oxford, Cambridge, OECD, the European Commission, Heidelberg University, and the Scottish Government among others. Professor Sarah Smith from the University of Bristol will deliver a keynote speech on the role of women and minorities in the economics and the ways the #DiscoverEconomics initiative can help to boost diversity in this subject area. The second keynote speaker is Professor Doyne Farmer, from the University of Oxford and Santa Fe Institute, and he will talk about Modelling the Economy as a Complex System.

During the event there will be a fintech workshop, organized by Garreth Stubbs from the University of Glasgow Fintech Society. This event is supported by the Bank of England and the Young Scholars Initiative.

Here are all the details about the event:

Date: Saturday 7 – Sunday 8 March 2020
Time: 9:00am
Venue: Lecture Theatre 201, Charles Wilson Building, 1 University Avenue
Audience: Event is open to all
Admission: Early bird – day pass £13.66, weekend pass £18.76


Louis Hatzis is the founder and CEO of Mercato Blockchain AG. The idea for this post was prompted by one of the investors in his company, whose son is a student at the University Glasgow and one of the organizers of the Glasgow Economic Forum (GEF).

Wirecard helps SIGNAL IDUNA digitally transform its insurance services
  • SIGNAL IDUNA selects Wirecard as payment service provider to improve its online and mobile offering

  • Thanks to Wirecard, customers can now seamlessly take out and pay for insurance policies online


Aschheim (Munich). Wirecard, the global innovation leader for digital financial technology, today announced that it is helping German financial services giant SIGNAL IDUNA extend its online and mobile services with new payment methods. Consumers will be able to take out and pay for insurance online. Wirecard processes the payments as well the payouts in the case of successful claims. The company – that provides insurance policies for health, travel, household and more – also famously sponsors the Borussia Dortmund football stadium, the largest in Germany. 

Founded over a hundred years ago and like many organizations in the financial services arena, SIGNAL IDUNA is currently going through a digital transformation. Digitalization is transforming the insurance market. The lines between channels are blurring and competition is intensifying all over the world. To avoid being left behind, savvy insurers are needing to create a seamless personalized experience for policy holders across all their channels. Wirecard offers everything insurers need to enable secure payment processing and an optimal checkout experience. Besides being quick and easy to integrate into existing systems, Wirecard’s solutions can help insurers systematically boost customer loyalty. 

Through working with Wirecard, SIGNAL IDUNA has been able to integrate new payment methods seamlessly into an intuitive interface where customers can access its various solutions 24/7. 

SIGNAL IDUNA offers powerful insurance and financial products as well as exclusive offerings for private and corporate clients, which are available online. In addition, the company has its own tailor-made app, which is available both in the App Store and in Google Play, so that customers can undertake all their insurance needs on the move. 

“We want to provide a quick and targeted service to our customers. The cooperation with Wirecard is a further step in adapting to increasing digitalization and meeting the needs of the digital lifestyle. Thanks to an intuitive payment page based on the Wirecard platform, we can minimize friction and ensure an optimal experience for our customers,” explained Arne Boysen, Head of the Collections Department and Project Manager for the “alternative payment options” project at SIGNAL IDUNA. “The wide range of payment methods as well as the uncomplicated and fast integration were determining factors in choosing to work with Wirecard. Moreover, Wirecard meets our extremely high security requirements.” 

“Wirecard is ideally placed to assist organizations such as SIGNAL IDUNA with their digital transformation to ensure they can differentiate themselves in a rapidly morphing marketplace,” added Christian Reindl, EVP Retail & Consumer Goods at Wirecard. 

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