Metro Bank will waive overdraft interest on a temporary basis
  • From 1 March to 30 June 2020, personal current account customers will not be charged any interest for using their overdraft.

  • This will happen automatically and customers do not need to contact us.

Kat Robinson, Director of Bank Accounts at Metro Bank, comments: “We’re mindful of the uncertainty caused by coronavirus and are committed to supporting our customers whose personal finances may be impacted at such a challenging time. We will therefore waive all overdraft interest due from the beginning of March until the end of June for personal current account customers. We hope that this will provide some flexibility for our customers as we all adjust to the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in.”

Dwolla names Harris as new CEO

Dwolla names Harris as new CEO

Dwolla CEO Brady Harris.

Dwolla, a fintech that specializes in ACH payments for businesses, has named Brady Harris as new CEO, succeeding Ben Milne, the company founder who stepped down as CEO earlier this year. 

Harris has almost 20 years of experience in the payments and fintech space, including working as president of Payscape and president and CEO of Elliott Management Group.

“Dwolla is built on a powder keg of opportunity that is still largely untapped,” Milne said in a press release. “With his extensive background and innumerable successes in the payments industry, Brady is the right person to lead the industry into the next era of programmable payments.”

Dwolla supports more than $10 billion in gross payment volume. During the fourth quarter the company said it onboarded more than one million end users. 

“As a pioneer of programmable payments, Dwolla has been on the bleeding edge of the ever changing payments landscape,” Harris said in the release. “With an incredible team, best-in-class platform and groundbreaking vision, Dwolla is positioned to grow dramatically in the coming years.”

Cover image: Dwolla

Topics: Mobile Payments, Online Purchasing, Transaction Processing

Companies: Dwolla

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A Buoyant Digital coin at a tender age – Ndau


Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019.

The Ndau (XND) is a stateless Buoyant digital currency with a built-in design to act as a store of value, is less known as it is not conducive to pump and dump. It was launched 2 yrs ago out of  the Cayman Islands.

It is more actively traded on BitMart exchange with a presence in New York, China, Hong Kong, and Seoul. According to Cointelligence, BitMart is included in the top 20 exchanges by volume.

Programmable money, like Bitcoin, are available in the market even though the verdict is still out there as to which of the existing cryptocurrencies (if any) qualifies for a digital means of payment, or a digital store of value, or a digital unit of account. Bitcoin is clearly a living proof of an autonomous organization, with no CEO, no CFO, and no board. It went live with a fixed supply and a fixed predetermined monetary policy. The developer and user community has had several disagreements about the direction that the network should take which has resulted in forking the Bitcoin source code.

The fact remains (with its pros and cons) that the fixed supply of 21million Bitcoins cannot be tampered with. The programmed monetary policy allows for new bitcoins to be created only through mining at a fixed rate. This rate is fixed but it decreases as new bitcoins come into circulation and we approach the 21 million supply ceiling. There are proponents and critics to this kind of rigid monetary policy as it has not been tested in economic downturns, in which a flexible monetary policy can have benefits. It definitely sits on the other end of the spectrum from the Quantitative Easing (QE) that Central banks in the Western world have been engaging in after the 2008 Global financial crisis and the 2020 COVID19 induced economic crisis. Devaluation of currencies is a big thorn that is yet another reason that we have been soul searching technological solutions for better stores of value. Data from the Official Data organization and several other sources shows that the purchasing power of the almighty US dollar has been dropping precipitously.

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 21.46.25

Soul searching for programmable money that is enabled by blockchain technology that can mitigate this frightful drop in purchasing power of even the No.1 reserve currency, is only natural. Can we create a rather autonomous store of value with a tamper-proof and effective monetary policy? The market has not yet decided whether Bitcoin which is stateless and not backed by any real asset, is our Digital Gold alternative. During the recent downturn, Bitcoin and Physical Gold, similar to several traditional financial assets, have not behaved as expected.

One example of a better potential Digital Gold alternative, is the blockchain-enabled solution of a stateless Buoyant digital currency, the Ndau.  The Ndau (XND) was launched in September of 2018.  Its design is to act as a long term store of value and therefore rewards token holders the longer they hold it. Ndau token holders earn Economic Alignment Incentives (EAI) ranging from 4% to 15% based on the number of months of their holdings.

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 21.57.15

The total supply of Ndau tokens is fixed to 30million and there is a programmed market intervention to maintain price stability every time the price moves more than 5%. The supply of Ndau is increased only when demand increases based on a predetermined price curve.

Ndau is the intellectual child of the Ndau Collective. An anonymous group of early Bitcoin enthusiasts more than 20 leading experts from world-class institutions including MIT, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon, New York University, University of Chicago, and Goldman Sachs and who specialize in disciplines ranging from economics and monetary policy to cryptography and computer science.


Dictionary definition = able to keep afloat or rise to the top of a liquid or gas.

In virtual currency terms, it means a currency whose value rises and whose downside volatility is mitigated.

Ndau – The name comes from en-dow (endowment).

The proceeds from the sale of Ndau tokens are kept in an endowment and invested in other asset classes. The purpose of the endowment is to serve as a source of liquidity to support ndau’s price. The investment decisions are taken by the Blockchain Policy Council (BPC), a group of nine digital delegates continuously elected by ndau holders. The tokens are native the Ndau blockchain which uses a proof of stake consensus mechanism.

The corporate entities behind Ndau are Oneiro, which is backed by COSIMO Ventures. Oneiro received a seed round of $3mil initially and in October 2019, another $5million. At launch, Oneiro sold $15million worth of Ndau Tokens (which means a bit less than 1million tokens). The recent economic downturn seems to have found Ndau at a fragile point on its journey of adoption and therefore was not able to live up to its design.

At issuance, Oneiro placed Ndau tokens at a price of $17.26 during a private sale. The price remained stable for a long time (about one year) and then started rising. By early 2020, it had actually risen close to $22 (27% increase). By mid-February 2020, it seems that the price stabilizing mechanism of the endowment couldn’t cope with the tsunami of liquidation that hit all assets indiscriminately.

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 22.47.46

This indicates that the endowment was too small to cope with the severe changes in demand. According to their website the total tokens in circulation had grown to 4.3million and the price had dropped to $6.97.

Stay tuned and monitor the development of Ndau. We need at least a one-year history in such market conditions to be able to make any meaningful conclusions.

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HMBradley officially launches digital bank

HMBradley officially launches digital bank

HMBradley, a startup backed by PayPal Co-Founder Max Levchin, has officially launched its high yield digital banking platform after raising $3.5 million in November and signing thousands of applicants to a wait list. 

The digital banking service, which offers up to 3% APY, is now allowing waitlisted customers to officially open their bank accounts and has launched a savings program called Plans, which helps account holders set aside funds for specific goals. 

“We are excited to open our virtual doors and welcome people from all income brackets as we introduce a new way to bank,” Zach Bruhnke, co-founder and CEO of HMBradley, said in a press release. “We want to empower and protect every consumer financially to show them that a bank can be on their side, regardless of how much money they make.”

HMBradley offers FDIC-insured accounts through Hatch Bank, a California-based digital bank and subsidiary of Firstrust Bank. HMBradley provides customers fee-free access to 55,000 ATMs nationwide, mobile check deposit and 24/7 customer service support. 

HMBradley will soon launch a feature called one-click credit, which provides pre-qualified credit offers to customers, giving them full disclosure of terms and the ability to accept the offer with a single click.

Cover image: HMBradley

Topics: ATMs, Mobile Banking

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Ocrolus’ Nicole Newlin On Digitization, Visualization, and the Age of Partnerships

One of the clearest messages from our conversations with fintech analysts and observers this year has been the importance of RegTech. Whether the challenge is financial inclusion, open banking, or simply making ever-more complex business processes less cumbersome, less error-prone, and less expensive, RegTech is increasingly seen as a critical component of financial technology.

We caught up with Nicole Newlin, VP of Solutions for Ocrolus, to talk about how the company leverages artificial intelligence to automate critical business tasks like underwriting for lenders. Via a combination of patttern recognition, crowdsourced data verification, and fraud detection, Ocrolus’ technology brings both transparent analysis and rigorous documentation to the credit decisioning process.

We also thought this would be a great opportunity to revisit and wrap up our celebration of Women’s History Month. To this end, we asked Ms. Newlin about her work with NYC Fintech Women, as well as her thoughts on how women are faring in the world of fintech and financial services.

Finovate: I would be remiss not to ask how Ocrolus is coping with the current global crisis with regard to the COVID-19 outbreak. How has this affected the company and the work it does?

VP of Solutions for Ocrolus Nicole Newlin

Nicole Newlin: The COVID-19 outbreak has caused companies around the world to change the way that they do business, and prepare for the long-term. Planning for the unpredictable is an oxymoron, but we’re certainly seeing the difference between companies built for scalability – those able to flex up/down with demand – and those with a less agile workforce.  In volatile times like these, scalability is key to success.

We see digitization and virtualization particularly impacting the financial markets that Ocrolus serves. If we zoom in on the state of lending, it’s a historically low rate, quarantined world, with more than 3,000 borrowers per day seeking mortgages and refinancing online. In parallel, many lenders are more bandwidth-constrained than ever, creating a gap between rising demand and lenders’ ability to meet that demand.

A key factor in lender scalability is the elimination of data entry bottlenecks. Our customers don’t have underwriters keying in borrower information or performing “stare and compare” analysis of income, asset and identification documents. Instead, they are using document digitization services and data aggregators to provide underwriters with actionable data. Replacing manual data entry and review with API-called data connectivity enables our customers to accommodate fluctuating loan volume on-call rather than scrambling to add, subtract, or redeploy human resources.

For these reasons, our customers are better able to flex up/down with the markets.

We’re also seeing new customers expedite their Ocrolus integrations to lessen the gap between demand and their ability to meet demand without needing to bring on additional resources.

Finovate: And if I may ask, how has it affected you as a professional? Have you had to make dramatic changes to the way you work, or the way you work with your team?

Newlin: Moving to a fully remote workforce is a new muscle for most of us. Fortunately, Ocrolus has always embraced a flexible work from home policy, so our team is able to adapt to working remotely with relative ease.

That said, without the built-in face time of being in an office, communication is critical, so we’re relying heavily on Slack and Zoom video calls to ensure ongoing communication. We’re also spending more time clarifying objectives and expectations so that we can continue to work towards our shared goals remotely.

To maintain culture and morale, we’re experimenting with virtual events. Our first-ever Virtual Happy Hour was a big hit!

Finovate: Ocrolus finished 2019 with the introduction of a new extension to its platform. Ocrolus+, which offers advanced document-based data extraction. Can you tell us a little bit about this feature, perhaps by way of introducing the company to our readers?

Newlin: While Ocrolus transforms documents into actionable data with over 99% accuracy, Ocrolus+ is an advanced version of our fintech infrastructure platform for capturing financial information, validating the veracity of data, and performing cash flow analytics. Ocrolus+ is the first turnkey solution for ingesting documents and digital data streams through a single API. The platform enables lenders to corroborate data retrieved from submitted documents with source data from financial institutions through a partnership with Plaid. Moreover, our partnership with SentiLink enhances our fraud capabilities by enabling us to detect use of synthetic identities.

Finovate: What markets does Ocrolus serve primarily?

Newlin: Ocrolus primarily serves a broad array of lending businesses – including small business lenders, consumer lenders, and mortgage lenders – with some analyzing different sets of documents based on application requirements. Regardless of asset class, Ocrolus has become a critical part of the modern lending infrastructure.

Finovate: Ocrolus interestingly has partnered with a number of other Finovate alums like Plaid and BlueVine in recent years. In fact, you spent some time at Plaid/Quovo, if I read correctly. Why are partnerships important in your industry? What makes for a productive relationship between fintechs?

Newlin: We are in an age of partnerships and collaboration. With technology and market conditions changing  at such a fast pace, it’s virtually impossible to build everything internally. Competition is growing, and we’ve seen tech behemoths like Google, Amazon, and Apple making moves to break into financial services. Partnerships are key to staying ahead in a competitive market. By partnering with best of breed companies, you can save resources, accelerate time to market, and hijack otherwise steep learning curves. However, it’s important to note that partnerships must be aligned with the company’s strategy and values. And they should benefit both organizations in order to ensure long-term alignment.

Ocrolus Co-founder and CEO Sam Bobley and Director of Business Development Kevin Bailey demonstrating PerfectAudit at FinovateFall 2018.

Finovate: You came to Ocrolus after being a founder and president of a fintech/financial services consultancy. What drew you to Ocrolus? And now that you’re here, can you tell us a little about the work you do for the company as VP of Solutions?

Newlin: I was introduced to Ocrolus via a few current board members that had also supported my previous employer, Quovo (acquired by Plaid). Once I met with the leadership team and learned more about what Ocrolus offered, I was intrigued. The opportunity to work at a company that could cross many verticals with its offering was interesting to me, because that spoke to the flexibility and endless possibilities of staying nimble and being relevant. Of course, that has been proven out even faster than expected with COVID-19 as we see new opportunities in a challenging environment!

When I joined Ocrolus, my primary focus was to build out a strong Solutions team that would support all sales activities via sales engineering/implementation, which includes all aspects of client onboarding and API integrations. As I’ve built out the team and developed those functions, we also work closely with our Product/Operations team in piloting new verticals/services. Lastly, a big focus today is ensuring we promote strong client relationships via our account management and client success teams. In a nutshell, our team is the client-facing division of our firm in the entire customer lifecycle.

Finovate: You’ve recently joined the NYC Fintech Women’s Leadership team. Can you tell us about the organization and its goals? How did you come to the decision to work with them?

Newlin: NYC Fintech Women is a community of women fintech executives, founders, and engineers, who are opening the doors of Wall Street by facilitating access to education, community, and coaching. I want to contribute by supporting and mentoring these women. Additionally, given my path into fintech and the number of talented women transitioning from traditional firms, I feel a strong sense of duty to support their efforts.

Finovate: What are the two or three steps that would do the most good to promote women’s leadership in fintech and financial services in general? And what are the greatest challenges or obstacles to pursuing these steps?

Newlin: I think women have a hard time breaking into financial services because there have never been that many in the space. The reality is that there are still fewer women in tech positions, senior positions, on boards, etc. There isn’t a magic button to press for greater equality – we have to take the initiative to create diversity in the industry.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Ability is of little account without opportunity,” by Lucille Ball. In that spirit, here are three things we can do to promote women’s leadership in financial services:

  1. We must give women the chance to succeed. I look to leadership in all companies of all types to consider how they are offering opportunity across a wide and diverse employee and candidate pool. Look at your organization and consider who is the next to move forward in their career and how leadership must mentor their employees. Don’t let great team members slip away because they see no career path.
  2. Consider how diversity in hiring grows market share, promotes creativity and stimulates fresh ideas.
  3. Finally, think strategically about how you are building teams and providing thoughtful professional development.

Ocrolus was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in New York City. The company demonstrated its PerfectAudit technology at FinovateFall in 2018. Sam Bobley is CEO and co-founder. With more than $33 million in funding, Ocrolus includes Oak HC/FT, Laconia, and Bullpen Capital among its investors.

CRIF to Acquire Strands

Credit management solutions provider CRIF has agreed to acquire PFM company Strands for an undisclosed amount. The deal will be finalized “in the coming weeks.”

The union will bring Strands’ personal financial management and business financial management solutions to CRIF’s client base that includes 6,300 banks, 55,000 businesses, and 310,000 consumers across 50 countries.

Strands’ technology will complement CRIF’s customer acquisition, portfolio management, and credit collection tools that help forecast market developments, improve business performance, reduce credit risks, and prevent fraud.

According to CRIF chairman Carlo Gherardi, the acquisition will “allow CRIF to create a worldwide digital solutions provider for open banking.” He added, “Through this deal, CRIF will combine its market knowledge and expertise with an innovative and well-positioned fintech player, creating synergies that will help our global clients to keep on growing and innovating through their digital transformation journey.”

For its part, Strands brings to the table 700 bank clients serving 100 million end customers. Strands CEO Erik Brieva said that the deal will help fuel Strands’ mission “to enable banks to anticipate customer needs and proactively suggest next-best-actions.”

Strands was founded in 2004 and has since raised more than $55 million in two rounds of funding. The company has offices in Barcelona, Spain; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and at its headquarters location in Miami, Florida. Strands’ most recent appearance on the Finovate stage was last year, where it demonstrated a cash flow solution for small businesses alongside Mastercard.

With more than 5,000 employees, CRIF is headquartered in Italy and was founded in 1988. Today’s deal is the company’s seventh acquisition, following its purchase of Vision-Net in 2018. CRIF demonstrated its Credit Framework solution at FinovateEurope 2014.

Ally Invest trade volume spikes 300% with market volatility

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rock the U.S. economy, the volume of trade on the Ally Invest platform has skyrocketed 300% year over year in March to record levels, Senior Director Frank Lietke told Bank Innovation. Ally Invest, the brokerage arm of Ally Financial, is a web-based wealth management platform that offers two services: …Read More

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NJ-based Provident Bank upgrades digital channels amid pandemic

For one community bank in New Jersey, its digital overhaul came at a crucial time, and Provident Bank has been pushing its digital capabilities to customers during the novel coronavirus pandemic since revamping its online banking earlier this month. “Our message to our clients is that we have the digital capabilities that are world class,” …Read More

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Nymbus automates COVID-19 payroll relief for banks to small business

Nymbus automates COVID-19 payroll relief for banks to small business

Nymbus will help financial institutions process paycheck protection loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which will allow companies to maintain payroll amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Cares Act, which was approved by Congress and signed last Friday, provides more than $2 trillion in aid, including billions in loan support to allow small businesses of less than 500 employees maintain payroll with federally-backed loans. The loan can be forgiven and converted to a grant if the company keeps all workers on the payroll. 

The Nymbus Smart Lenders Program can be used to digitize the entire process through participating financial institutions. The Nymbus program automates the entire application process through a portal that links the banks and their small business customers. 

“In this unprecedented time we are seeking out ways to support one another,” David Mitchell, president of Nymbus, said, in a press release. “We have the digital tools and full remote processing services already in place to handle the urgency of placing these vital federal funds in the hands of small business owners.”

Cover image: Nymbus

Topics: ATM & Mobile Banking, Bank / Credit Union, Digital Banking, Payments, Regulatory Issues

Companies: NYMBUS

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Sony Bank launches English-language mobile app for foreign residents

Sony Bank launches English-language mobile app for foreign residents

Sony Bank Inc. has launched an English-language version of its online banking service, aimed at providing foreign residents in Japan a hassle free way to conduct everyday financial transactions, according to a press  release. 

The service allows customers to deposit foreign currency and Japanese yen, money transfers involving foreign currency and offers customers a Sony Bank WALLET, which is a debit card that pays cash back for purchases in Japan, allows at least four fee-free ATM withdrawals per month and has tap-to-pay functionality. 

More than 2.82 million foreign residents lived in Japan as of June 2019, an increase of 7.3% from the prior year, the company said in the release, citing data from Japanese government figures. 

Sony Bank cited data from its own survey of foreign residents showing 60% were dissatisfied with regular banking procedures in Japan, including complicated paperwork, hanko procedures (a personal seal that is used to confirm identity) and a lack of language support. 

The bank also noted the research showed that foreign residents wanted access to an online service where they could get an account without having to go to the branch in person to conduct business. The new service uses OCR technology for rapid onboarding of new account holders.

Cover image: Sony Bank

Topics: ATMs, Mobile Banking, Region: APAC

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Temenos Offers Customers Free Access to its Digital Learning Platform During the COVID-19 Crisis

Temenos offers free access to its customers to Temenos Learning Community Online, with over 400 learning courses, and sandbox environments

 Temenos , the banking software company, today announced a free digital learning initiative, opening access to the Temenos Learning Community Online, its cloud-based digital learning platform, to help its customers make best use of Temenos software as they respond to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Temenos is aiming to ensure clients can derive full benefit from Temenos software products during this time
of disruption and make a real difference to their own customers. Temenos clients can use TLC Online training courses to broaden their teams’ expertise in Temenos systems. With many employees expected to work remotely and finding themselves with more available time on their hands; TLC Online courses can be used to learn how to make better use of Temenos’ software-rich functionality, as well as broaden awareness and understanding of Temenos capabilities across the enterprise.

Temenos is offering free access to its customers to over 400 courses, for all Temenos software products
ranging from digital to core banking, to financial crime and advanced analytics. Temenos is also opening up
access to sandbox environments that allow teams to experience and test the latest technology innovations
from their own homes.

Max Chuard, Chief Executive, Officer, Temenos, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is posing serious challenges and affecting all of us. As always, our first priority at Temenos is to support our employees, customers, and communities around the world. We also want to put our technology to best use. As one of several measures to help clients, we are opening access to Temenos Learning Community Online, our cloud- based digital learning platform, so all Temenos customers can access it for free. We remain committed to standing as the technology partner for banks worldwide and working together in the days and years ahead.”
The TLC Online offer can be accessed here. The offer is valid for Temenos customers until 30 of June and the duration of the access is 8 weeks.

TLC Online is a cloud-based, individual annual subscription service, which delivers easy access to digital
training materials covering Temenos products and technologies from any location. Members of TLC Online
can gain official Temenos certifications, connect with other members and share knowledge within the online community.

Four in 10 UK businesses abandon banking services applications over slow due diligence processes

 38 per cent of UK businesses have deliberately abandoned an application for banking services in the last year due to ‘slow due diligence processes’, according to new research from Encompass Corporation, the Know Your Customer and regulatory technology (RegTech) specialist. 

The survey, which polled 200 business decision-makers in large and medium sized businesses, was conducted between Wednesday 18th March and Thursday 19th of March, just after the Chancellor announced a £330bn rescue package due to support UK companies through the Covid-19 crisis. The research asked businesses about the challenges they face in getting access to financial support, as well as attitudes towards cyber security and regulation.

In addition, the polling found that businesses plan to prioritise spending on cyber security over anti-financial crime compliance in 2020, with 44 per cent putting plans in place. However, a large 81 per cent of organisations agree that they are confident in their understanding of exposure to financial crime and that they already have the processes in place to address it.

According to the polling results, 44 per cent of companies said they did not regularly put customers and suppliers through formal Know Your Customer (KYC) processes. Additionally, 60 per cent admitted that there has been no training for staff about how to be compliant with the Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD).

Meanwhile, nearly one third of businesses (29 per cent) said they now trust challenger brands and fintech providers more than traditional banks.

Wayne Johnson, CEO and co-founder, Encompass comments: 

“It is disappointing that complex, expensive and overly-long due diligence processes are preventing British businesses from getting access to the finance and banking services they urgently need.

Everyone recognises that it’s vital to ensure correct background checks on new customers to prevent money laundering and criminal activity, but these checks should not act as a hindrance to legitimate companies gaining access to the credit and services they require.

It’s also worrying that so many companies admit to minimal KYC onboarding processes, as well as offering zero training on important directives such as 5MLD.

It’s time that banks and financial services organisations harnessed the power of analytics and automated solutions to swiftly and securely adhere to these important compliance processes. Doing so will unblock the logjam and get companies the access to necessary financial support during this challenging time, and without delay.”

Survey Results: Coronavirus and the State of Banking Innovation

Given the significant challenges we’re facing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, INV Fintech and Bank Innovation conducted a brief survey from March 18 to 25, to gauge industry sentiment and understand practices going forward. Our survey garnered participation from 110 industry players, including 45 financial institutions, 25 fintech startups and 40 venture captital firms, consultants …Read More

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WHO Health Alert brings COVID-19 facts to billions via WhatsApp

This easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it

WHO has launched a dedicated messaging services in Arabic, English, French and Spanish with partners WhatsApp and Facebook to keep people safe from coronavirus. This easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.

From government leaders to health workers and family and friends, this messaging service provides the latest news and information on coronavirus including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others. It also provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real-time to help government decision-makers protect the health of their populations.

The service can be accessed by a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. Users can simply type “hi”, “hola”, “salut” or “مرحبا” to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

The WHO Health Alert was developed in collaboration with Praekelt.Org, using Turn machine learning technology.

Mother Nature’s hit reset whilst community spirit is making a welcome return…

The warning signs have been there for years, becoming more regular, more damaging and more pronounced, yet we still didn’t listen. Mother Nature has had enough and is showing us who really is boss.

At the start of this year, Australia was on fire, killing almost half a billion animals, whilst huge parts of England and Wales were underwater and not for the first time.

Greta Thornberg, the 17-year-old activist who has had a huge impact on raising the awareness of climate change amongst both young and old alike, was largely ignored.

And then Covid-19 hit.

Agnostic to race, religion, age and gender Coronavirus doesn’t care who you are

Agnostic to race, religion, age and gender Coronavirus doesn’t care who you are, who you vote for or the size of your wallet and it has affected the human race in an unprecedented way.

As I write this, Boris Johnson has just been tested positive. No-one is safe.

Currently, over 500k cases of coronavirus worldwide, across more than 130 countries have killed over 24,000 people; 65% of those from just 3 countries; Italy, Spain, & China.

Government action in response to the pandemic has resulted in :

The world is in disarray.

But there has been some light…the environment has improved, and quickly.

There has been a huge drop in air pollution, as industrial factories close and traffic halts. All key emitters of nitrogen dioxide. Milan and other parts of northern Italy have seen a fall by about 40% since the country went into lockdown on 9 March. Similar improvements have been seen across many cities worldwide

Pollution levels in China in 2019, left, and 2020. Photograph: Guardian Visuals / ESA satellite data

Fish and swans have returned to the Venetian canals, for the first time in decades

And community spirit is making a welcome return.

Last night at 8 pm the nation opened their windows and doors to give a much deserved applaud to the NHS. My family and I joined in and I found it quite emotional – not since the 2012 Olympics have I felt such a sense of community.

Clap for carers

Neighbours are talking to each other, helping the elderly and sick with necessities and families are spending quality time together. Shopping local is the only choice, helping small businesses, where possible. More than half a million people in the UK volunteered to help the NHS in 24 hours (the initial target was 250k).

Parents have become teachers, whilst juggling work, (if fortunate to keep employment) and running the home and largely keeping the British sense of humour intact (if my WhatsApp group is anything to go by and the memes circulating).

When this is all over, will we be in a new world? One where community is king, empathy and mutual respect are universal and gratitude is the new happiness.

I for one hope so.

#stayhome #staysafe #clapforourcarers #thankyouNHS

By Alan Walsh

IDnow is certified for operation of identification solutions via remote working

IDnow , a leading provider of Identity Verification-as-a-Service solutions with over 250 customers in Europe, has received official certification from TÜV IT for the operation of identification solutions via teleworking. This marks an important milestone for the industry to be able to operate and expand the necessary customer identification for banking and business processes even under exceptional circumstances.

The independent testing institute TÜV IT has certified the IDnow security concept for the operation of video identification and Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) via remote working. The certification proves that the security measures carried out by IDnow in remote working achieve an equivalent security level as in the certified high-security IDnow Ident Centers. In consideration of the Corona (COVID-19) pandemic, this certification is now of particular importance, as it allows IDnow’s identification solutions for high-security processes to be used unchanged and further expanded even under the current circumstances.

“It is very important to us to be able to provide our customers with a reliable service at all times – especially in the current situation. With our certified concept, we are equipped to continue to offer our employees a safe working environment and to provide our service in a fail-safe manner. We can activate these measures at any time,” says Andreas Bodczek, CEO of IDnow. “Right now, we see an increased demand for remote identification as well as an increase in online credit transactions. We are proud that with our products we can make a contribution to ensuring smooth business and banking processes even in times of social distancing and that we can meet this demand of society”, he adds.

In addition to this remote working concept, IDnow is particularly fail-safe in comparison to the rest of the industry, with a diversification to eleven geographically distributed ID centre locations. The sites are located in various cities across Germany and Europe. A software specially developed for this purpose distributes incoming identification requests simultaneously to all ID centres. In this way, a disruption of one identification centre location can be compensated by other locations without delay.

“Over the past few years, we have invested heavily in the resilience and security of our technology and infrastructure. This is now paying off especially well for our customers. In the last few days we have received a significantly increased number of enquiries from major customers interested in our service as a highly secure identification solution,” says Armin Bauer, co-founder and CTO of IDnow.

Akon tops the bill for online Blockchain Conference BlockDown 2020

This spring the crypto community will head online to participate in the first ever BlockDown remote crypto conference, and hear from visionary blockchain entrepreneurs and business leaders, including Akon global music artist, Co Founder & chairman of Akoin, Roger Ver, Executive Chairman of, and Bitcoin Educator Jimmy Song.

With multiple crypto conferences globally postponed or delayed because of concerns around the spread of the coronavirus , BlockDown is a chance for the crypto community to network, engage and learn, without leaving their desks.

The event, which has a limited capacity, is being organized by crypto PR Agency EAK Digital, will feature live streamed keynote speeches, exclusive 3D avatar fireside chats & roundtable sessions, live illustration drawing, virtual exhibition booth areas and dedicated online spaces for people to network and share business ideas.

Following each keynote speech there will be expertly moderated Q&A sessions alongside AMA’s on a dedicated online chat channel.

Erhan Korhaliller, founder of EAK Digital and organizer of BlockDown, said the events aim would be to have guests network and build relationships just like if they were at an offline event.

BlockDown 2020 is an excellent opportunity for everyone in the industry to come together during a difficult time, and enjoy the networking and interactive benefits of an in person conference. ” he said.

“Making the event affordable and accessible for everyone was extremely important to us, and we look forward to hosting a global audience“

BlockDown 2020 will be held on April 16-17, featuring two full days of content. To get involved head to to sign up and register, join the BlockDown telegram or email [email protected]

Tink Acquires Eurobits; A Look at Financial Inclusion 3.0

Tink Ties Up with Eurobits Technologies – Stockholm-based open banking platform Tink, announced late last week that it is acquiring Spanish account aggregation services provider – and fellow Finovate alum – Eurobits Technologies for $17 million (€15.5 million). The acquisition will enhance Tink’s position in Southern Europe, extending the firm’s presence to 17 markets around the world.

“We are extremely impressed by the Eurobits team, what they have built and their very strong position in Southern Europe,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said. “Not only does it strengthen our platform through increased connectivity, it also gives existing Eurobits customers access to our payment initiation and data services.”

A certified account information and payment initiation services provider (PISP), Eurobits facilitates more than 50 million transactions a month in Europe and Latin America. The company, which demonstrated its account aggregation technology at FinovateEurope 2019, works with some of Europe’s biggest fintech and financial institutions, including BBVA, Santander, and Fintonic. Founded in 2014, Eurobits is headquartered in Madrid, Spain.

“Tink is undoubtedly one of the most innovative companies within open banking,” Eurobits CEO Arturo Gonzalez Mac Dowell said. “Joining forces with them to help expand their coverage across Europe and Latin America is a unique opportunity, not only for both of our businesses, but for the broader industry as a whole.”

Tink’s most recent Finovate appearance was also at FinovateEurope 2019. Founded in 2012, the company began this year with a major fundraising, picking up $100 million in funding in a round co-led by Dawn Capital, HMI Capital, and Insight Partners. Tink has collaborated with PayPal, Klarna, NatWest, and ABN AMRO. The company’s platform is used by more than 5,000 developers.

No Static at All: The Finovate Podcast Features Tosin Agbabiaka of Octopus Ventures – Be sure to catch the latest episode of the Finovate Podcast with host Greg Palmer. His most recent episode features Octopus Venture’s Tosin Agbabiaka whose presentation on the future of financial inclusion was one of the more captivating addresses at FinovateEurope in Berlin earlier this year.

Here is our weekly look at the latest news from our Finovate alums.

  • Strands to offer its product suite on Oracle’s Banking-as-a-Service platform.
  • Mambu to power the private debt investment platform of Goldbell Financial Services.
  • Lendio facilitates $2+ billion in loans to U.S. small businesses.
  • Fiserv and U.S. Bank ink data sharing agreement.
  • Daon to deliver onboarding and biometric authentication solutions to SE Asia’s TONIK digital bank.
  • Trusona to provide Radiologex with user authentication technology.
  • Canada’s Interior Savings Credit Union to deploy core processing technology from Fiserv.
  • DriveWealth inks partnership with UAE-based wealth management firm, WealthFace.
  • HooYu teams up with Baanx to help the mobile cryptocurrency platform conduct identity verification.
  • Revolut introduces Revolut Junior, a money management app for kids aged seven to 17.
  • Personetics announces strategic partnership with Avaloq.
  • Jumio donates identity verification services, via its automated solution, Jumio Go, to help organizations dealing with the COVID pandemic.
  • SumUp introduces its free mobile payments and invoicing offering for EU merchants.
  • Salt Edge partners with Hungary’s second largest online invoicer, Billingo.
  • Behavioral biometrics-based fraud detection solutions provider SecuredTouch earns Best Product at 2020 Loyalty Security Association Lion’s Den.
  • iGTB teams up with First Abu Dhabi Bank.
  • Green Dot names Dan Henry as CEO.
  • Aire offers three months of free access to its credit information services to help lenders during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Tink acquires Eurobits Technologies, a Spanish account aggregation vendor, for $17 million (€15.5 million).
  • Best of Show winning financial literacy app Zogo teams up with financial coop VolCorp.
  • Minna Technologies and Jscrambler earn finalist spots in the Tech5 Founders Day competition among top European startups.
  • Personetics announces strategic partnership with Avaloq.

Finovate Alumni Features and Profiles

Moven Minds its Business in B2B Pivot – In a transition announced earlier this week, Moven is moving away from the direct to consumer / neobank model to focus on what founder Brett King summed up as “our distributed smart banking and financial wellness capabilities.”

ebankIT and Enterprise Engineering Forge North American Partnership – Finovate Best of Show winner ebankIT is working with fellow Finovate alum Enterprise Engineering (EEI) to launch a new omnichannel banking solution geared toward financial institutions in North America in general, and the U.S. in specific.

Arkose Labs Locks in $22 Million for its Fraud Fighting Technology – In a round led by Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, anti-fraud solutions provider – and FinovateSpring Best of Show winner –Arkose Labs has raised $22 million in Series B funding. 

TheWaay, Neo Digital Banking and Serving the Mass Affluent Market – Founded in 2016, TheWaay offers a Lifestyle Banking platform that helps banks and other financial institutions better understand and meet the needs of their customers.

Revolut Arrives in the U.S.A.Revolut, the London-based fintech and alternative bank that reached unicorn status in 2018, has finally made its move to America.

Ripple Explains What’s Holding Back Blockchain Adoption – Last fall, blockchain payments company Ripple, in conjunction with Celent, conducted a survey to better understand payment services providers’ adoption of blockchain-based payments.

Lighter Capital Takes Debt Financing to Canada – The physical border between the U.S. and Canada may be closed, but that’s not stopping tech startup financing provider Lighter Capital. The Seattle-based company announced today it has launched its services in Canada.

Coronavirus will shape the next decade. Will we prep before the next one?


Everywhere people are dying, global lockdown and massive government intervention. The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting global industries and supply chains, causing disastrous problems for businesses, consumers and the global economy. Just like the disease is killing older people at high rates, it is also about to kill mature western economies. Businesses are struggling to produce and distribute products and services, that consumers depend on. The coronavirus outbreak has limited our ability to produce and consume goods. Its financial ramifications are already severe and will only get worse. The COVID-19 pandemic will change this decade, just like 9/11 changed the 2000s. The impact from pandemic on global economy will be severe, but eventually the crisis will all end and life will resume. The question what direction will we follow and how prepared will we be when the next one comes along?

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at

When businesses are unable to make money, they can’t pay employee wages and operating expenses. As business revenues decline, employee layoffs accelerate, which eventually leads to people not being able to pay their rent, mortgage and loans, buy goods and services or spend money at restaurants, sporting events, vacations.

This is not just a health pandemic, it’s a pandemic of fear and mistrust that is hitting advanced economies in Western Europe and the United States. Governments are announcing travel restrictions within their borders and from outside, and are shutting down businesses everywhere. In mature economies, when people become fearful for their lives, they withdraw and stop spending money on things they frequently do. Businesses that operate in face-to-face service industries, which usually dominate high-income economies, are the one’s that get hit the hardest, when people are in lockdown.

This is not to minimize the damage the pandemic is causing to the global product supply chain. The production around the world is out of action for an indefinite period of time. We are already seeing shortages for things like auto-parts, electronics and products like iPhones, and Diet Coke and don’t be surprised when we see disruptions for food, condoms and so many other basic things we take for granted.

In 2015, the year after West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, Bill Gates gave a TED talk called “The next outbreak? We’re not ready.” Gates saw the COVID-19 outbreak coming and he knew we weren’t prepared for it.

“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Gates said during the Ted Talk. “Not missiles, but microbes.”

Authorities around the world are doing their best to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Disease outbreaks can happen at any time and anywhere, with little or no warning. These are events that have occurred in the past and will occur again in the future.

We are facing an uphill battle, but blockchain can help. Blockchain will not prevent new viruses, but it can help create a first line of defense, through a network of connected devices with a single purpose: to alert us about disease outbreaks. The use of blockchain can help prevent pandemics by enabling early detection, fast-tracking drug trials, and impact management of outbreaks and treatment.

Blockchain platforms could help connect local hospitals and health organizations. Local hospitals could record medical data about patients with flu- or virus-like symptoms. The data could be used by health organizations to predict the spread of the virus, to help them take preventive measures (increase medical staff, supply medical equipment) in the areas where the virus could spread.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO), IBM and Oracle teamed up to create an open-data hub that will use blockchain technology to check the veracity of data relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

Blockchain based livestock tracking could help to better trace an outbreak at the source, before it becomes impossible to contain. Deadly viruses have originated by contaminated livestock, that made it into our food supply. Imagine how many lives and resources we could save, if we could collect and analyze data to assess livestock risks for various regions.

We could also improve the medical supply chain for products and vaccines. It’s vital to be able to track where things are and where they came from and ensure they are genuine.

Researchers, biotech and pharmaceutical firms are racing against time to create the vaccine for this virus, as well as develop potential treatments for COVID-19. Blockchain based platforms could help vaccine development across various stages starting from exploration to pre-clinical stage, clinical development, regulatory approval to production and distribution and continuous quality control & monitoring.

Like the September 11 terrorist attacks, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the financial collapse of Lehman Brothers, the coronavirus pandemic is a world-shattering event that will lead to permanent shifts in political and financial power.

Many, fear the pandemic will strengthen state control and reinforce nationalism. Governments everywhere are adopting measures to deal with the health and financial crisis, and some governments will find it difficult to give up these new powers, when the crisis is over, similarly to what happened in the wake of 9/11, when civil liberties around the world were trampled.

More than a hundred years ago, in the “The Machine Stops“, E. M. Forster wrote about a dystopian future where humans relied on a machine to provide food, clothing, shelter, and interaction with each other, using audio and visual devices. This story sounds like the present, and the pandemic is pushing us even more in that direction, to become more reliant on the “machine”.

But the coronavirus pandemic is also causing everything to come to a grinding halt. Health care, government and business “machines” are breaking down and stopping. Maybe this is a wake up call, that pushes in the exact opposite direction, away from centralized machines and structures.

The coronavirus global health crisis has the potential to massively disrupt our lives, both economically and socially. I can only hope, we move in the right direction.

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Our Fintech Past and Present

When I strain my brain I can remember the time in my childhood when my mother opened a bank account for me. I was given a printed bank book that kept a record of the amount in the account.

When I needed money, I went to the bank, filled out a withdrawal slip and waited for my order to be processed. Of course, I had to go during regular hours; on weekends the bank was closed. (ATMs still were not common). Such was the world of American fintech in 1975!

Fast forward to 1990: my first job after university was at S.W.I.F.T. headquarters in Belgium. I remember the feeling of awe working in the epicenter of the ‘nervous system’ of global finance and capitalism. In the first 22 years of my life, little changed in the way banks functioned locally and globally. And I never thought it would change. Few people did. Life was pretty static back then.

Almost 30 years later, here we are in 2021 where the fintech industry is in a constant state of flux and disruption; every year brings newer, faster, cheaper and more efficient technologies.

This sector has become so lucrative that the Tech giants are moving into financial services. Apple Pay. Google Pay. Then there’s Facebook, which plans to soon launch its cryptocurrency, Libra, in order to make global payments cheaper and faster for the social media platform’s nearly 2.4 billion monthly users. 

Sometimes the Tech giants are striking up alliances with major financial institutions: JP Morgan recently announced its alliance with Amazon and Airbnb to offer banking services. Also, in cooperation with Citigroup and the Stanford Federal Credit Union, Google plans to begin offering a smart checking account.

Tech giants, however, are looking further afield than just the developed markets of North America, Europe and East Asia. Another milestone came last month when NASDAQ-listed Opera Software signed a deal with London-based fintech company Clear Junction ( that promises to significantly alter the financial services landscape in Africa and China, specifically in the area of person to person remittances from Europe.

Like the other Tech giants, Opera Software sees financial services as a lucrative way to monetize its customer base. The Opera web browser has an estimated 120 million users in Africa, making it the second largest on the continent, after Chrome. They are courting customers who aren’t well served by existing regional banks.

“The world of financial services is currently undergoing a major disruption, and the remittance payments offered by Opera is another example of how a tech company’s massive client base can be monetized by offering innovative financial services,” said Dima Kats, Clear Junction’s CEO. “Clear Junction offers correspondent accounts to financial institutions in order to extend our services to consumer technology companies interested in the global payment infrastructures.”

About six months ago Clear Junction opened an account for Muthoot Finserve USA Inc, a global money transfer operator serving Indians worldwide and sending money to India. Since banks are very conservative and selective in providing services to the remittance companies, Clear Junction serves this domain. 

The advantages of using Clear Junction over traditional banks is that leveraging this up-to-date technology enables clients to have a better visibility over their inbound and outbound payment flows. That is translated into shorter time frames of settlement with agents and higher service efficiency of the whole network.

Globally, the number of people who need to make low value, retail cross-border transfers has grown rapidly since 1990. Today, there are more migrant workers than ever before, not to mention global nomads and international students.

These groups are grossly under-serviced by the global banking community, and international remittances are expensive and cumbersome. Traditionally, the main option for migrant workers are money transfer networks such as Western Union or the post office, which are expensive, cash intensive and fall short of the modern digitization standards.

“Clear Junction is a badly-needed game-changer for extending the reach of the local fintech companies outside their domestic geographies,” said Kats. “We help payment companies in the workers’ country of origin to have a collection account in those places to where workers have migrated.”

Long gone are the static and predictable days of my childhood. We truly live in interesting times – the battle for where we store our money and the means by which we spend it is just heating it. I look forward to the next decade and the surprises that it will bring.

by John Varoli

(Former foreign correspondent, Bloomberg News)