More Than $975 Million Raised by 15 Alums in Q2 2020

https://finovate.com/more-than-975-million-raised-by-15-alums-in-q2-2020/

Finovate alums raised more than $975 million in equity funding in the second quarter of 2020. The sum represents investments received by 15 companies that have demonstrated their technologies at our conferences, and includes three fundings in which the amount of the investment was not disclosed.

This year’s total is a retreat from the past two years’ totals, both in terms of amount raised and the number of alums reporting equity funding. In some respects, Q2 2020’s fundraising total “fills the gap” from the big jump in funding from Q2 2017 to Q2 2018.

Previous Quarterly Comparisons

  • Q2 2019: More than $1.8 billion raised by 29 alums
  • Q2 2018: More than $1.5 billion raised by 25 alums
  • Q2 2017: More than $726 million raised by 25 alums
  • Q2 2016: More than $510 million raised by 23 alums

While total investment for Q2 2020 was lower than it was in the previous year’s Q2s, it is notable that seven of the top ten fundings were investments between $150 million and $100 million. In many instances, one sizable investment will be responsible for a significant amount of a quarter’s investment total. Consider the boost Sofi’s $500 million funding provided in Q2 2019. The large sum sent that quarter’s total soaring to a new record Q2 high. By comparison, this year’s high number of low, nine-figure fundings comes across as a welcome shift in the distribution of VC wealth.

Top Ten Equity Investments for Q2 2020

  • EVO Payments: $150 million
  • Marqeta: $150 million
  • BioCatch: $145 million
  • AvidXchange: $128 million
  • Stash: $112 million
  • Onfido: $100 million
  • Payfone: $100 million
  • Featurespace: $37.4 million
  • M1 Finance: $33 million
  • Meniga: $9.4 million

It must be noted that, while venture capital investment has slowed somewhat in response to the COVID-19 crisis, merger and acquisition activity has been robust, relatively speaking. Among our alums alone, Q2 saw two major fintech acquisitions: Mastercard’s purchase of Finicity – valued as high as 1 $billion – and Personal Capital’s just-announced $825 million acquisition by Empower Retirement.

Here is our detailed alum funding report for Q2 2020.

April 2020: More than $638 million raised by six alums

May 2020: More than $187 million raised by three alums

June 2020: More than $150 million raised by six alums


If you are a Finovate alum that raised money in the second quarter of 2020, and do not see your company listed, please drop us a note at research@finovate.com. We would love to share the good news! Funding received prior to becoming an alum not included.


Photo by Reynaldo #brigworkz Brigantty from Pexels

https://finovate.com/more-than-975-million-raised-by-15-alums-in-q2-2020/

The role of ATMs and cash access in the digital banking era

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/resources/the-role-of-atms-and-cash-access-in-the-digital-banking-era-2/
The role of ATMs and cash access in the digital banking eraPublication Type:
White Paper

Published / Updated:

Cash is not going to be phased out any time soon, but cash access is evolving to suit people’s “anytime, anywhere” needs. The role of the ATM is evolving for financial institutions and cardholders — new ATM technology can make banking easier and more convenient which plays a critical role in keeping consumers connected to their financial institutions.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/resources/the-role-of-atms-and-cash-access-in-the-digital-banking-era-2/

Minna Technologies to Power Subscription Management Service for ING

https://finovate.com/minna-technologies-to-power-subscription-management-service-for-ing/

Banking customers at ING Belgium will soon have help managing their recurring expenses. That’s because Minna Technologies has partnered with the bank to launch a new subscription management service.

Under the agreement, ING Belgium’s 1.8 million digital banking customers will be able to manage their subscriptions without leaving the digital banking channel. Minna’s solution helps users view all of their recurring subscriptions in a single place, allows them to cancel existing subscriptions, and shows them potential alternatives to some of their subscriptions.

“This is a clear example of impactful Fintech partnerships that we aim to scale within ING,” said Global Head of ING Labs & Fintechs, Olivier Guillaumond. “It will offer a differentiating experience to our customers allowing them to have a better insight into their subscriptions and save millions of euros via cancellation and fully automated switching services.”

The integration is the result of Minna Technologies’ participation in last year’s ING Labs Brussels program. During the program, the two companies completed a proof-of-concept that demonstrated the value of subscription management for users in the Benelux region.

“ING Labs Brussels is a special purpose vehicle concentrating on validating proof of concepts with mature fintechs to bring maximum value for our clients so they can stay a step ahead in their lives,” said Guillaumond, adding that it has “the potential to expand to other countries.”

Minna was founded in 2016 and has since helped users save more than $45 million with its subscription management solutions. The Sweden-based company, which has raised $6.2 million, recently demoed at FinovateEurope 2019. ING Brussels joins SpareBank1, Visa, Swedbank, and Danske Bank as clients.


Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/minna-technologies-to-power-subscription-management-service-for-ing/

ID.me Secures $8.3 Million in New Funding

https://finovate.com/id-me-secures-8-3-million-in-new-funding/

McLean, Virginia-based digital identity network ID.me has boosted its total equity capital to more than $39 million after locking in an investment of $8.3 million this week. The new funding comes from a $12.5 million equity offering from the company, which featured the participation of 32 different investors.

ID.me has not provided any commentary on the investment, nor disclosed plans for how it will use the additional capital. The company’s previous fundraising was a $19 million Series B round in March 2017, according to Crunchbase.

The global public health crisis has put a spotlight on digital identity companies like ID.me. In March, the company announced the launch of a real-time collaboration workspace on messaging platform, Slack, to help health care providers share information about the coronavirus. In April, ID.me teamed up with DrFirst to make it easier for health care workers to verify their identities when using DrFirst’s mobile e-prescribing app, iPrescribe.

And in May, ID.me partnered with Shoes.com, enabling the company to accurately verify frontline healthcare workers as part of its program to provide them with discounts on footwear.

“As the U.S. enters its third month battling COVID-19, first responders and healthcare workers continue to soldier tremendous burdens and personal risks as they fight day-to-day on the frontlines of the pandemic,” ID.me founder and CEO Blake Hall said. “We are honored to play a role in the Step Up program and proudly support Shoes.com’s efforts to recognize these national heroes.”

A Finovate alum since 2014, ID.me most recently demonstrated its identity verification gateway at FinovateSpring in 2017. The company’s identity verification services – ranging from multi-factor authentication, document verification, and compliance monitoring, in addition to its identity gateway – are used by a wide variety of well-known organizations and institutions including USAA, NASA, Under Armor, and the United States Department of Treasury.

ID.me notes that it onboards 60,000 new users a day and has a total of 24 million users of its technology. Earlier this month, the company announced another partnership, this time working with LensDirect as part of their We See You, Heroes initiative to provide frontline health care workers and first responders with discounts on vision care products.


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

https://finovate.com/id-me-secures-8-3-million-in-new-funding/

Amex commits $200M to small biz recovery, $10M to Black-owned biz

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/amex-commits-200m-to-small-biz-recovery-10m-to-black-owned-biz/

American Express committed more than $200 million to help small merchants recover from the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown over the next few months, according to a press release.

American Express is giving eligible card members $5 for every $10 spent at an eligible small merchant when they shop online, curbside or in-store through Sept. 20. Cardholders must enroll by July 26 and can qualify for the discount up to 10 times during the promotion period.

“American Express has backed small business owners through challenging times for decades, and we are standing for them today, as many struggle to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stephen Squeri, chairman and CEO of American Express, said in a company release. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, and now is the time to join together and help them rebound from this global crisis, because their success is critical to job creation, strong economies and thriving neighborhoods.”

The promotion is also available in Canada, the U.K. and Australia, with rollouts planned for France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Spain with more countries to follow.

The company conducted a survey showing 62% of small businesses said they needed to see consumer spending recover to pre-COVID-19 levels in order to avoid shutting down.

The company has also pledged $10 million over the next four years and is forming a coalition with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to provide grants to Black-owned small businesses as part of a program to address systemic inequalities. The coalition will include the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League and Walker’s Legacy.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/amex-commits-200m-to-small-biz-recovery-10m-to-black-owned-biz/

Wirecard negotiating with regulators as UK fintechs disrupted

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/wirecard-negotiating-with-regulators-as-uk-fintechs-disrupted/

Wirecard AG announced that it plans to continue operations after filing for insolvency in a Munich court, saying the company’s management board believes that remaining open is in the best interests of its creditors.

The Germany-based payments firm issued a statement Saturday that the court appointed Munich-based attorney Michael Jaffee as an official expert, and the court will determine whether insolvency proceedings will be opened. The board expects a provisional insolvency administrator will be appointed soon, according to the Wirecard statement.

The company said that Wirecard Bank is not part of the insolvency proceedings and that electronic funds transfers from Wirecard Bank are not affected. Wirecard Bank will continue payouts to merchants, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, the company’s U.K. unit, Wirecard Card Solutions Ltd., has suspended operations, which followed an order from the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority. Wirecard has held talks with FCA officials and is hopeful that operations will continue there.

The FCA issued a statement on Monday regarding the order, saying that officials from the U.K.and other countries were “seeing good progress” in terms of Wirecard meeting the conditions it set out.

“We are maintaining pressure on the firm to resolve these issues which could allow it to operate under certain conditions,” FCA officials said in the statement. “However we cannot lift the restrictions without reassuring ourselves that the firm has been able to satisfy all our concerns that clients’ money is safe.”

The FCA order disrupted operations at three U.K.-based fintechs, including Curve, Anna Money and Pockit.

Curve issued a statement saying it has severed all ties with Wirecard and switched to Mastercard to help it with its card issuing capability and Checkout.com to process payments.

Anna posted an update on its website with Q&A regarding how the FCA order left its accounts frozen. The company said that accounts were being held by Wirecard in a ring fenced account at Barclays. Anna said that it expects the freeze to be lifted, but it is talking with two payments providers about moving away from Wirecard and is talking with Mastercard about switching to a new payment provider.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/wirecard-negotiating-with-regulators-as-uk-fintechs-disrupted/

Islamic Research and Training Institute Partners with Samsung-backed Blocko’s E24P to Launch Blockchain-based Smart Credit Management Platform to Boost Islamic Finance Sector

https://thefintechtimes.com/islamic-research-and-training-institute-partners-with-samsung-backed-blockos-e24p-to-launch-blockchain-based-smart-credit-management-platform-to-boost-islamic-finance-sector/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=islamic-research-and-training-institute-partners-with-samsung-backed-blockos-e24p-to-launch-blockchain-based-smart-credit-management-platform-to-boost-islamic-finance-sector

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group has partnered with the Samsung-backed blockchain technology firm Blocko to build a blockchain-based innovative credit enhancement system. The patented Smart Credit Management System minimizes the risks associated with credit financing to businesses and consumers through the use of new economic incentive models and advanced implementations of hybrid blockchain technology.

The Smart Credit Management System will be based on smart contracts on the Aergo blockchain. The system, once completed, will be of great value to Islamic banks and other financial institutions. The system aims to:

  • Ensure that credit assessments are performed in a provably transparent and responsible manner, whilst keeping the data and methodology used appropriately secure and confidential based on zero-knowledge proofs.
  • Allow creditors to reduce credit default rate to improve overall business performance and accelerate efforts in areas of financial inclusion.
  • Integrate siloed functions in the financing process including credit reporting, credit rating, credit history, and credit insurance to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
  • Act as an extensible architecture that can allow multiple banks to collaborate on a consortium network to manage credit and insurance in a decentralized, autonomous, and strictly-governed way.

“The Islamic finance market is growing rapidly, with projections of a rise from around $2 trillion to an impressive $3.78 trillion by 2022. Yet certain technical and economic challenges have prevented the industry from truly flourishing,” said Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director General of IRTI, on the new partnership. “Our new partnership with E24P aims to address this need by providing the infrastructure needed for the Islamic financial industry to deliver critical services to both the developed and developing world.”

The partnership aims to leverage the E24P blockchain teams’ deep expertise in deploying blockchain systems to further the IsDB’s mission of enabling greater financial inclusion, alleviating poverty, and accelerating the development of the Islamic financial industry.

Commenting on the partnership, Phil Zamani, CEO of E24P, said: “We are honored to be working with IRTI to help them deliver a truly unique solution that has the potential to have a significant impact on the Muslim world. The implementation of blockchain systems in complex processes like credit and insurance has long been sought after by financial institutions around the world. Forward-thinking GCC countries, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have been especially progressive, implementing blockchain projects to accelerate their digital transformation agendas and smart city innovation strategies.”

How the Smart Credit Management system works

Shari’ah law prohibits banks from charging interest on loans to their borrowers. Islamic banks offer financing to individuals and businesses through real economic transactions such as joint ventures, deferred sale, and leasing agreements. In offering credit financing, Islamic banks need a mechanism to discipline debtors to pay on time. A common practice involves charging debtors with late fees which are then donated to charity. However, because Islamic banks are not allowed to incur any profit and in turn any benefit from these late-payment charges, they are not incentivized to collect these fees and distribute them to charitable organizations in a timely manner. At the same time, because debtors see these late fees as an act of charity, their sense of urgency to pay their debt obligations on time might diminish.

The new system being developed by IRTI and implemented jointly by IRTI and E24P will solve these problems through a novel incentive mechanism that encourages early repayment and contributes fees to an insurance pool that covers involuntary credit defaults. Such a system is not feasible through conventional arrangements but is facilitated through the use of high-performance blockchain technology.

Why did IRTI partner with E24P?

Many blockchain projects fail to move past the initial proof of concept (POC) stage due to a lack of end-to-end systems design know-how that is coupled with practical implementation of blockchain technology in highly complex industrial environments. The E24P team has the advantage of having already deployed over 38 large-scale private and government blockchain solutions, and this execution intelligence is needed to bypass cost, draw out POCs to fast track to business value implementations.

About Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI)

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) is a Member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group dedicated to knowledge creation and dissemination in Islamic Economics and Finance. With a track record of nearly four decades of delivering cutting-edge research and capacity development programs, IRTI works to develop innovative knowledge-based solutions and enhance human capacity in Islamic Economics and Finance for the sustainable development of IsDB member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries worldwide.

About Islamic Development Bank (IsDB)

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group is a multilateral development bank with over $50 billion in assets under management, operating in over 57 member countries across EuropeAsia, and Africa. The IsDB works to promote Shari’ah-compliant financing structures in Muslim countries, develop technology and innovation solutions that align with UN Sustainable Development Goals, build partnerships between the private and public sector, facilitate greater degrees of skills and knowledge sharing among member countries, and foster collaboration between nations to support sustainable development.

About E24P

Based in Abu Dhabi, E24P is a collective of technology experts, distributed financial services providers, state-level government sponsors, and leading research institutes in the UAE and the UK working with clients in high-growth economies and sectors across the Middle EastAfrica and South East Asia. E24P delivers cutting-edge innovations in disruptive technologies to public and private sectors, generating economic opportunities that improve social outcomes, exploit new business models, and eliminate inefficiencies for governments through the creation of new digital ecosystems. E24P is deploying the next wave of high-scale, high-security blockchain use cases built on Aergo technology by leveraging bleeding-edge innovations in quantum computing, lattice cryptography, trusted computing, data custody, smart tourism and smart identities, cybersecurity and energy-efficient technologies.

PRESS RELEASE

https://thefintechtimes.com/islamic-research-and-training-institute-partners-with-samsung-backed-blockos-e24p-to-launch-blockchain-based-smart-credit-management-platform-to-boost-islamic-finance-sector/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=islamic-research-and-training-institute-partners-with-samsung-backed-blockos-e24p-to-launch-blockchain-based-smart-credit-management-platform-to-boost-islamic-finance-sector

SECDEX Digital Custodian goes live with over half a billion USD of tokenised assets

https://thefintechtimes.com/secdex-digital-custodian-goes-live-with-over-half-a-billion-usd-of-tokenised-assets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=secdex-digital-custodian-goes-live-with-over-half-a-billion-usd-of-tokenised-assets

 The Seychelles-based SECDEX Group, which comprises a licensed, regulated exchange (offering traditional and digital assets), central counterparty clearing house (CCP) and central securities depository with registry, is pleased to announce the latest addition to the group, SECDEX Digital Custodian (SDC). SDC has been regulated under the Financial Services Authority (FSA) Sandbox to offer digital custody services and is now live.

As with all the companies within the SECDEX Group, the focus is to operate organised and reliable market infrastructure within regulated environments, which are attractive for participants and provide certainty to investors. SECDEX Exchange, which is live with its first members, facilitates the tokenisation, registration, primary issuance and secondary trading of any credible securities with SDC handling safe custody with a well-defined on-boarding and legal process.

SDC caters for a broad range of digital assets, including security tokens and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for customers choosing to put their digital assets in its safe custody, with robust layers of security to prevent fraud and misappropriation. Wallet keys and key backups are stored with strong encryption. SDC services the digital custody needs of both private and institutional clients (including third party exchanges, marketplaces and financial institutions), by handling custody, escrow services, automated transfers, balance confirmations and account related requests.

The SECDEX Group in a short space of time has already attracted USD 544,718,948 of assets, which it has tokenised, with immutability and transparency on the Ethereum blockchain and held in secure digital custody with SDC. These assets come from multiple sectors and geographies including:

  • AEEX South Africa Limited – South Africa – Exchange venture for digital assets.
  • ALTX Africa Group Limited – Mauritius – Exchange and post trade group with regulated presence in Uganda.
  • CWAY Automotive LLC – USA – Electric Vehicle Technology (EVT) firm, which will be the first hybrid (traditional and digital) private placement listing on SECDEX Exchange for its convertible notes issuance.
  • Demand Derivatives Corp – USA – Exchange and market infrastructure venture for unique financial derivatives.
  • Digital Partners Network Limited – Seychelles – Future focussed digital transformation as a professional service.
  • Hamilton Fintech Limited – UK and France – A digital Fintech venture by Evariste Quant Research to launch Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) backed stablecoins and investment products.
  • FinComEco Limited – Mauritius – Blockchain enabled financial inclusion for farmers through commodities.
  • GMEX Group Limited – UK – Traditional and digital asset FinTech enablement for exchanges and post trade.
  • Great West Ltd – Mauritius – Real Estate project, tokenised as a real-estate security token (REST).
  • La Preneuse Beach Ltd – Mauritius – Real estate project, tokenised as a REST.
  • SECDEX Group Limited – Seychelles – An ecosystem for hybrid regulated exchange and post trade services.
  • Wingstar Trading Pty Ltd (T/A Revenue-Share Capital) – Australia – A cash flow securitisation company.

Hirander Misra, Chairman of SECDEX Group said, “We are delighted that SECDEX Digital Custodian is now live and has been granted the first Sandbox regulatory approved by the FSA.” He continued, “There is immense interest in the regulated SECDEX ecosystem from issuers, investors, traders and asset holders, as their need for exposure to digital assets in addition to traditional asset classes continues to grow, and we are pleased to welcome our new clients.”

Dr Steve Fanny, CEO of the Seychelles Financial Services Authority, commented, “The FSA is pleased that SECDEX Digital Custodian is now authorised in our Sandbox, which provides a regulated environment within which Seychelles-registered companies carrying out FinTech-related financial services within the securities industry can operate.” He added, “The Sandbox is instrumental in our strategy of moving the non-bank financial services of Seychelles to the next level, as it will not only attract higher value-added products and services to our financial services sector, but will also demonstrate that the jurisdiction is modern and forward-looking.”

Jessica T.Naga, Legal and Compliance Director at SECDEX Group, said, “Operating as a regulated entity in the FSA Sandbox enables SECDEX Digital Custodian to provide our digital custody solutions across borders, whilst ensuring compliance with stringent regulatory criteria. She added, “The fact that the FSA Sandbox is part of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), which consists of over 50 financial regulators and related organisations, is a major advantage for firms like us to offer innovative financial products and services in multiple jurisdictions.”

SECDEX utilises the proven GMEX Fusion hybrid centralised & blockchain distributed ledger technology suite, which is deployed and trusted by multiple international regulated financial institutions around the globe.

About SECDEX

The Seychelles-based Securities, Commodities and Derivatives Exchange (“SECDEX”) is a market infrastructure ecosystem located in the Seychelles. It is a multi-asset hybrid exchange combining the benefits of a digital exchange with those of a traditional exchange. It focuses on securities, debt, spot commodities and derivatives contracts in traditional and digital tokenised form.

The Group consists of:

  • SECDEX Exchange Limited (“SECDEX Exchange”), which is authorised and licensed by the Seychelles FSA to operate a regulated securities exchange with multi-asset capabilities, which include derivatives and digital assets.
  • SECDEX Clearing Limited (“SECDEX Clearing”), which is authorised and licensed by the Seychelles FSA to operate a regulated central counterparty (CCP) clearing house to clear trades executed on SECDEX Exchange.
  • SECDEX Depository Limited (“SECDEX Depository”), which is authorised and licensed by the Seychelles FSA to operate as a regulated central securities depository and registry for securities listed on SECDEX Exchange.
  • SECDEX Digital Custodian Limited (“SECDEX Digital Custodian” or “SDC”), which is authorised and regulated under the regulatory Sandbox of the Seychelles FSA to operate digital custodial services for a broad range of digital assets.
  • SECDEX Digital Marketplace (“SDC Digital Marketplace” or “SDM” or “SECDEX Marketplace”), which operates as part of SECDEX Digital Custodian Limited as a trading venue to offer a broad range of cryptocurrencies. These by being in custody can be traded.

For more information visit www.secdex.net  or follow us on Twitter @SecdexG

https://thefintechtimes.com/secdex-digital-custodian-goes-live-with-over-half-a-billion-usd-of-tokenised-assets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=secdex-digital-custodian-goes-live-with-over-half-a-billion-usd-of-tokenised-assets

Business Payments Barometer Webinar

https://thefintechtimes.com/business-payments-barometer-webinar/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=business-payments-barometer-webinar

Last week, Bottomline hosted a webinar on the subject of payments & how small businesses re holding up right now. Bottomline are a company focused on managing and digitally transforming the end-to-end payment life-cycle. Their goal, quicker payments & less fraud for companies.

Now in its fifth year, the report that they are now known for producing on an annual basis, the ‘Business Payments Barometer’, consists of an online survey among 800 financial decision makers from small, medium, large and enterprise businesses in England, Scotland and Wales.

The report focuses on the major payments challenges businesses face surrounding fraud, the adoption of new payments technology and regulatory awareness.

This year’s report was in fact more comprehensive than ever, as they doubled the number of survey respondents to over 800. These respondents were all British-based and, as Ed Adshead-Grant illustrated, made up of “the community of business and corporates.”

The timing of this year’s survey was of particular interest as well, due to the pandemic crisis. As Ed Adshead-Grant, General Manager of Payments at Bottomline Technologies, describes it as “actually the very final snapshot of businesses and their thinking just before COVID struck […] an interesting rich dataset just pre-COVID to set a benchmark for the future.”

Some key stats from the report:

  • 81% of businesses were unable to recover more than half of their losses caused by fraud, a figure which rises to 88% for small businesses
  • Despite an increase in new payments initiatives and regulations, just 59% of businesses feel prepared for Open Banking – down 8% from 2019
  • While 70% of businesses agreed that responsibility for sanction checking was with the banks in 2019, the figure dropped to 56% in 2020. Businesses are more prepared to share the load, with 71% suggesting they are happy to take on more responsibility for implementing anti-money laundering regulations

In discussing this report, the attendees were focusing on three pillars 1) Efficiency: The troubling trend of late payments 2) Risk & Compliance: The Fraud issue that never seems to go away 3) Changes: How different companies are adapting to all of these developments.

Panellists for the discussion include:
  • Ed Adshead-Grant – General Manager of Payments at Bottomline Technologies (Moderator)
  • Gavin McLean – CM&P Product, Global Transaction Banking at Lloyds Bank
  • Naresh Aggarwal – Associate Policy & Technical Director at Association of Corporate Treasurers
  • Dan Bellis – Senior Policy Advisor at Federation of Small Businesses

Approaching Change

One of the key takeaways from the report, was that 21% of small businesses are now feeling vulnerable to changes in the trading environment.

Gavin Maclean concurred with these findings, pointing out that this applies to all types of businesses, large and small. In terms of the small businesses, he says that they were “probably worrying about traditional worries of fraud and risk and regulation and all that stuff.” And then of course, came the COVID-19 crisis “So having felt vulnerable before, they must feel like all of their nightmares have come in one night.” As for the large businesses, he wonders that if the larger businesses that did not feel quite so vulnerable pre-crisis are maybe feeling that they actually were a little bit more vulnerable to changes in the trading environment than perhaps they realised.” With this added vulnerability, comes a nervousness, and a potential resistance, to change.

One of the main changes that is on the horizon in the world of businesses, and how their payments are conducted, is Open Banking. Open Banking is likely to bring about a plethora of changes, for businesses as consumers alike, once fully implemented. 

According to the report, only 59% of businesses were responding that they felt ready for Open Banking. This was, unfortunately, a drop of 8 percentage points from last year. For many, that will be a potentially concerning stat, given that a) this is a change long-awaited by many and b) the adoption of Open Banking was hoped to be accelerating, not stalling.

The panelists were challenged on what exactly might be causing this nervousness about Open Banking, and what the implications could be. Gavin Maclean began his answer by charting the recent course of Open Banking, “I think 2018, 2019 was that intense period of preparation for open banking […] what has followed has been the modest or perhaps slow emergence of new services built upon open banking.” According to Gavin, this slow down is partly down to external factors, “I think it has dropped down the priority list as other things have come to greater prominence.”

Naresh agreed with Gavin, suggesting that companies are right now asking themselves “why should [I] invest time and energy looking at some of these new changes when you have got other things, firefighting things you have to face here and now.” This comment is aimed particularly at startups. Whilst they are more likely to be receptive to Open Banking technologies, many of them will be dealing with their own issues, or trying to assimilate a different, new technology solution. And in more recent times, you can imagine this has only got worse, with the COVID-19 crisis. 

Despite these challenges, and the numbers that the report throws up, Gavin remained positive. His optimism is founded on the figures themselves, such as they “routinely see tens of millions of calls upon our systems every month for account information service.” So, for him, demand is increasing, and competition in the sector is only hotting up, “Now new services are emerging and I think the best is very much to come from open banking.” It will remain to be seen if next year’s report reflects such optimism. That will hopefully be the case, of course, but it is hard to make any firm predictions or hopes when you have a situation such as COVID-19.

A Lack of Efficiency

The second notable statistic has to do with efficiency, and more specifically, the issue of late payments. The issue of late payments is a well-known problem within the small business and startup community. In last year’s report, 92% of respondents reported that they had had to deal with late payments. Thankfully in this year’s edition, the figure had dropped slightly to 89%. This is only a minor drop, however, and maybe will regard this figure as still being unacceptably high.

The Prompt Payment Code (PPC) is the Government’s attempt at trying to fix the issue of late payments. Introduced in 2008, this regulatory body has undergone a lot of changes since its inception, along with an increased number of signatories. As Bottomline’s stats show, however, there is still a long way to go.

Naresh struck a more optimistic tone than expected, in the face of the numbers, “I think it is very difficult to be quite so binary.”  He cautioned against using this number to say that “therefore the industry is really doing badly.”

Naresh then explained that a lot of the negativity in the industry stems from the usage of PPC. One of the key tenets of PPC is that you are encouraged to pay within 30 days, or at the very least 60 days. Naresh pointed out that there are many suppliers and companies out there who have “negotiated 90 or 120 day payment terms […] they would be shown as being delinquent on payment code.”

This shows that the PPC is perhaps too blunt an instrument for the problem which it was introduced to solve. Naresh also was at pains to highlight that it’s not necessarily the PPC at fault, because “it is more about how we communicate this information to our supplier.” For instance, if someone is going to have to pay a supplier late, but communicates this fact to them promptly, the actual problems should be fairly minimal.

Dan Bellis chimed in agreement about the scale of this problem, and also took some time to highlight how important an issue it really is for small businesses and startups: “I think late payments for small business quite frankly sinks the ship. It is devastating for them […] now this is not happening to one or two small businesses, this is happening across the place.”

A devastating problem for sure, but how does the industry as a whole go about solving this? Dan has a clear candidate in mind, he’s looking towards “these big businesses to help lead the way on this to help fight the charge to increase speedier payments for small businesses.” Luckily, there are apparently signs that large businesses are starting to step up to the plate when it comes to their payment responsibilities. The reason – their own self-interest. Dan points out that they aware of the need to pass their cash, in the form of payments, down the supply chain. This is due to the symbiotic relationship between large business and their suppliers, if these businesses hold onto cash too long, these companies may go under, which would have a disastrous impact on their larger counterparts.

Fraud, Risk & Compliance

The third and final pillar of the report and this discussion was surrounding risk, compliance, and ever-present problem of fraud. The leading statistic from the report on this issue was that, during this last year, 88% of businesses have been unable to recover more than 50% of any fraud-driven losses they have suffered.

Falling victim to fraud, many will agree, is something that is already very concerning. The fact that once companies have suffered a fraudulent event, they are unable to recoup even half of their losses, is something to raise eyebrows. This double-whammy is a concerning ‘leakage’ that recurrently occurs, year after year. In fact it’s so common, Dan said, that for small businesses, many see fraud as “ just part and parcel of the day job,” and he admits that its not any easy problem to solve, “It is often down to human error, human instinct and it is very difficult for small businesses to manage internally.”

To improve this situation for small businesses, and to reduce the overall size of their losses, Dan laid out that you have to take a dual approach. Firstly, you will need to adequately equip businesses so they are able to prevent fraud and, secondly, provide them with the tools to fully recoup their losses from any fraud that still does occur.

With regards to the issue of recovery fraudulent losses, Dan had no doubt as to who holds the keys to this problem “That really is where good relationships between the small businesses and their financial service provider, whether that is their bank or payroll offering to- that is where that really comes in, are incredibly helpful for small businesses who are looking to recover that loss.”

Dan finished his comments on the issue of late payments on a sombre note, reflecting on the real-world impacts of fraudulent actions “Ultimately, whether it is fraud or whether it is late payment I think you have to begin to understand that actually there are human beings on the end of this and this has a very real impact […] I think as soon as we begin to realise that, we start to understand how fraud mistakes are made.”

Closing Thoughts on Payments

The mood of the webinar was very interesting. There was plenty of optimism, looking forward to the year ahead, expressed by the panelists. Alongside that, however, the talk was peppered with doses of the realities faced by small businesses in the UK. 

Gavin Maclean decided to finish his contribution to the discussion on the positive side of things. Looking forward to the year ahead, he was of the opinion that “there is cause for optimism here in the UK. I think we have got a great track record of cross industry collaboration to deliver things that can make a positive difference for businesses. We have progressive regulators. We have that platform to innovate from […] I think here in the UK we are as well placed as any developed economy to use our payments infrastructure and payment systems to help us trade our way out of this crisis.

https://thefintechtimes.com/business-payments-barometer-webinar/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=business-payments-barometer-webinar

Flywire Announces Charitable Foundation to Help Improve Global Equality

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Flywire aims to improve equality, access and affordability for underrepresented individuals and communities

As its inaugural initiatives, Flywire Charitable Foundation launches four academic scholarships for students studying global health as well as those studying social justice

Foundation will continue to invest in programmes that support its vision to remove the access and affordability gap for marginalised individuals and communities

Today, Flywire, a high-growth vertical payments company, announced the Flywire Charitable Foundation, an initiative focused on improving equality, access, and affordability for underrepresented individuals in the global communities in which Flywire operates. As its inaugural pledge, the Foundation is launching academic scholarships that will be awarded to students in two distinct academic categories: global health and medicine, as well as social justice. Applications are available immediately through July 31st to all undergraduate and graduate students, including the UK.

“As a global organisation, Flywire was built on the principles of equality, acceptance and partnership,” said Mike Massaro, Flywire CEO. “In light of current events, it’s our responsibility to take direct action to extend these qualities for the benefit of the communities we serve. We’re very proud to launch the Flywire Charitable Foundation to do our part in addressing the access and affordability gaps for those facing unique hardship.”

“The academic scholarships we’ve launched are in direct response to the glaring economic and racial inequities that are pervasive in our society and that have been brought to light by the COVID-19 crisis. This is just a first step and the Flywire Charitable Foundation commits to doing much more to build a more just, inclusive and equitable society.”

The Flywire Charitable Foundation scholarships will be awarded to students in need to help them better manage costs associated with their education. Applications are open to students who have academic pursuits in the following disciplines:

  • Global health and medicine: The devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic reveals an urgent need to accelerate the world’s focus on improving public health. These scholarships aim to help train the next generation of highly-skilled health and medical experts.
  • Social justice: Continued racism against Black individuals and communities in the United States and around the world underscores the need for significant social justice reform. These scholarships aim to support tomorrow’s leaders who will commit to eradicating racism, violence and other acts of intolerance against minorities.

Apply for a Flywire Charitable Foundation academic scholarship today

Resources

  • To apply for an academic scholarship from Flywire, visit: Flywire Charitable Foundation – Academic Scholarships
  • To learn more about The Flywire Charitable Foundation, visit: The Flywire Charitable Foundation

  • To learn more about Flywire’s payment plans for higher education, healthcare, and travel visit our website.

  • Flywire is leading a campaign to help international students obtain and extend visas so they can safely return to the U.S. to study, in accordance with public health guidelines. To support international students in light of COVID-19, please sign our petition: Save Overseas Studies

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Wirecard’s $2 billion disappearing act

https://dailyfintech.com/2020/06/29/the-2-billion-disappearing-act/

how-to-disappear

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

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder and CEO at Mercato Blockchain AG.

Established in 1999, Wirecard was a pioneer in digital payment processing. Valued at around €24 billion and part of Germany’s prestigious DAX Index, it surprised and disappointed everyone when its auditors announced on June 18, that they found a black hole in the company’s books. More than two billion worth of cash, reported in the company’s balance sheet, had disappeared into thin air, or to put it more accurately , was never there to begin with.

Wirecard’s admission that €1.9 billion of cash was missing was the catalyst for the company’s demise. Founder and former chief executive Markus Braun was arrested on Monday on suspicion of false accounting and market manipulation, before being released on bail for $5 million.

In the summer of 2018, Wirecard shares reached €191 and traded as high as €104 last week. On Thursday the stock price fell to €3.

The German operation Wirecard AG has applied for insolvency proceedings in a Munich court, due to “impending insolvency and over-indebtedness.” It has also issued a statement about the company’s ability to continue to operate, after it was unable to reach a deal with lenders for loans that are due on June 30 and July 1, respectively for €800 million ($896 million) and €500 million ($560 million).

Wirecard’s business relied on licenses that allow it to connect customers with the international payments networks, by Visa and Mastercard. Wirecard Bank was licensed by both Visa and Mastercard, enabling it to both issue credit cards and handle money on behalf of the merchants.

So why is Wirecard important for crypto?

Crypto users want to be able to use crypto like money, turning their crypto into actual money, without waiting days to get the cash. Crypto cards leverage the existing Visa and Mastercard infrastructure that is widely used across the world, enabling holders to pay in crypto for any product or service that can be purchased via a cashless payment, either in-store or online. Several crypto companies have issued crypto-backed debit cards, that tap into the user’s crypto balance.

Enter Wirecard, that operates crypto Visa debit cards for Crypto.com and TenX. Following the Wirecard’s insolvency filing on Thursday, cryptocurrency debit cards were frozen for both Crypto.com and TenX. On Friday the situation got even worse, when the FCA ordered Wirecard’s UK entity to suspend access to accounts, directly impacting several companies and their customers, like Curve, Pockit, and ANNA Money.

Those familiar with the space may remember what happened a couple of years back, with WaveCrest, a Gibraltar-based fintech. WaveCrest worked with several crypto companies providing prepaid crypto cards with access to the Visa and Mastercard networks. In January 2018, WaveCrest’s relationship with Visa abruptly ended because it did not comply with Visa’s operating rules, causing problems to companies like TenX, CryptoPay and Bitwala.

The whole situation with WaveCrest left a void in the market and now we are seeing the same void again, because of the problems Wirecard. As cards issued by Crypto.com and others are unusable, many of these companies will be looking other options to continue offering customers their services.

While crypto debit cards hold enormous opportunity to make crypto useful, they also raise the question of how wallets and exchanges will be able to  satisfy anti-money laundering and “know-your-customer” regulations. The regulatory environment around crypto has been evolving, and some wallet providers and exchanges now operate with official blessing under specially-devised compliance rules. But most still exist in regulatory vacuums, and criminals who are technically sophisticated can operate wallets without any oversight at all. The question is whether a new company will step in to fill Wirecard’s shoes and how.

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https://dailyfintech.com/2020/06/29/the-2-billion-disappearing-act/

Railsbank gains innovative Hong Kong fintech Statrys

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Railsbank, the leading global open banking platform, announces that it has gained innovative Hong Kong fintech Statrys as a customer.

From its base in Hong Kong, Statrys provides online business accounts, and advanced payment and forex solutions for Asian SMEs. It offers banking services without the hassle of dealing with a bank. Statrys is focussed on serving entrepreneurs, start-ups and more established SMEs, many of whom are overlooked by the traditional banking system.

Bertrand Théaud, Founder and Director of Statrys, shares: “Working in partnership with Railsbank to offer local currency accounts is an important value add to our clients. It is clearly a major achievement in our effort to provide Asian SMEs with more effective payment solutions for their international business.”

Railsbank is expanding throughout Asia from its regional hub in Singapore. It recently received investment from Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, and Global Brain, a major venture capital firm based in Tokyo, Japan.

It also announced a partnership with Visa to deliver Banking as a Service (BaaS) innovation in Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, and recently became a Visa issuing member in Singapore. Being a Visa member and by joining Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme, Railsbank can now access Visa’s growing partner network, technologies and experts, enabling Railsbank’s customers to rapidly and effectively launch Visa-based products throughout Asia and beyond.

Nigel Verdon, co-founder and CEO of Railsbank, said: “I am very pleased to welcome Statrys into the Railsbank family. Founder and Director Bertrand Théaud has impressed us all with his determination to help those companies in Hong Kong that the traditional banks ignore. Financial inclusion is just as important for SMEs as it is for individuals, and this marries with the Railsbank fundamental belief that everyone should have access to banking services. We look forward to working with Bertrand and his team over the coming years.”

King Leung, Head of Fintech of Invest Hong Kong, said, “FinTech has become an important growth engine for Hong Kong and the rest of APAC. A silver lining from the pandemic is the acceleration of digitisation and Fintech adoption in Hong Kong. Also, the resilience and relatively quick resumption of business activities in Hong Kong is a timely reminder about the solid foundation as a global financial centre built by generations of professionals in Hong Kong. As a proven FinTech launchpad, Hong Kong hopes to connect APAC’s FinTech businesses with the post-COVID opportunities in Greater China, ASEAN and the rest of the world. We welcome the partnership between Statrys and Railsbank, which demonstrates the acceleration of financial inclusion to the Asian SMEs and active fintech investment in the region.”

Railsbank is headquartered in London and has offices in Singapore, Lithuania, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

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The Inaugural Fintech Forecast

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-inaugural-fintech-forecast/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-inaugural-fintech-forecast

Outward VC and Callsign launched the inaugural Fintech Forecast, an annual event bringing together leading figures in Fintech to discuss the state of the market.

This year Outward’s Devin Kohli and Callsign’s Amir Nooriala were joined by Eileen Burbidge (Passion Capital), Shachar Bialick (Curve) and Isabel Woodford (Sifted) as moderator. The themes centred on leadership in crises and the power of founder CEOs vs. executive CEOs, rounding off the conversation with a discussion on the latest leadership change at Monzo.

To replay the panel follow the link.

Defining Fintech winners, have the goal posts shifted since Covid-19?

Who will come out as the winners and losers has been front of mind since we learnt of the pandemic reaching Europe, Woodford poses the question of what winning means and whether the goal posts have now changed?

Eileen Burbidge – partner at Passion Capital and non-executive director of a number of Fintechs including Tide and Monzo – kicks off the discussion, arguing the definition of success will remain centred on providing genuine value and utility, concluding “I don’t think [Covid] shifts [this] and I don’t think it alters what Fintech companies set out to achieve or deliver for customers…it will just take longer.” As business slows and the time frame for success is stretched, companies need to ensure they have the runway to come through it.

Devin Kohli, co-head of Outward VC – the early backers of Monese and Curve –  on the other hand argues that to some extent the goalposts of winning have changed, explaining that “in the short term it’s all about survival… if you manage to survive where so many others have failed, it’s arguably a win.”

Amir Nooriala, CCO Callsign and former COO of neo-bank OakNorth, is optimistic about the opportunities crises can create. Drawing from his experience during the dotcom bust and the GFC, Nooriala comments “you get more long term gains during this kind of period than you would during a boom. Companies will drop off. Competitors will drop off. There will be opportunities to hire top talent and make acquisitions you previously couldn’t.” Well-funded Fintechs should focus on putting plans in place to set themselves up for an acceleration when the cycle changes.

Keeping founders motivated in a time of crisis

Woodford shifts the conversation towards the psychology of founders and how to keep them motivated during trying times. Kohli notes that whilst there are financial mechanisms such as option and performance schemes that VCs can look to re-calibrate to the challenging macro environment, it doesn’t always come down to money as “successful founders are motivated by what they are building”.

Shachar Bialick, founder of Curve, notes that there is a big different between owning 5% vs. 30% and talks of the importance of aligning the interests of shareholders and management. Bialick however points to a deeper motivational driver which he explains by comparing founders to Rock Stars, who are driven by the desire “to be known” and to make a dent in the world.

The conversation shifts focus from incentivising founders to unraveling the traits of successful founders. Nooriala, reflects on his experience working for an executive CEO vs. a founder CEO noting “you can massively notice a difference in terms of the pace, in terms of the unwillingness to settle… it doesn’t matter how difficult it is, the founder will generally want to solve it while an executive is more concerned about their career and the next promotion.”

Monzo’s recent leadership change

Woodford directs the conversation towards Monzo, whose CEO Tom Bloomfield stepped out of his position to become President of the company. Burbidge notes that “in hindsight we should have done this a year ago” the reason being that 90% of Bloomfield’s time has been largely taken up by the regulators rather than focusing on product and vision. Burbidge continues, “I don’t see any diminishing of Tom’s leadership role in the company – quite the opposite. I think this is going to reignite and reamplify [his] role as cultural leader and the vision for the business.”

Shachar countered by warning, “there is a huge price of replacing a foundered CEO with a salaried CEO in terms of the impact on the vision and strategic goals of the company,” echoing Nooriala’s earlier point that “an executive CEO is concerned with the next 2-3 years vs. a founder who is in it for the long run.”

Nooriala, wrapped up the discussion by concluding leadership change is natural, especially as a company grows from seed stage all the way to one day becoming an incumbent, stating “hopefully that change is always an upgrade and an evolution as opposed to departures.”

  • As early investors in Curve and Monese, Outward’s mission is to back teams with bold ideas that fundamentally improve large global markets. Our team, led by Devin Kohli and Kevin Chong, draw on a combination of experience, wide-reaching network and influential LP base (NIBC and Investec Bank) to supercharge the future leaders in fintech. The team share insights from their network and portfolio, and give an investor’s perspective on navigating the fintech landscape.

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-inaugural-fintech-forecast/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-inaugural-fintech-forecast

TPAY Mobile Acquires Payguru, the Leading Payment Platform in the Middle East

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Dubai/Cairo – TPAY MOBILE, the leading digital merchant acquirer and mobile payment enabler in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), has announced the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Payguru, one of the Middle East’s leading payment service providers.

The transaction remains subject to regulatory approvals. Payguru offers mobile payments, ATM cash payments, and bank transfer services to its merchants through its integration with three mobile network operators and eight major banks.

TPAY MOBILE is the Middle East and Africa’s (MEA) leading digital merchant acquirer, enabling payments acceptance from more than 54 mobile payment channels, which are connected to over 580 million consumers in the region. Leveraging direct carrier billing (DCB), mobile wallet and mobile money, through a single integration, merchant partners are able to unlock access to these consumers across 24 countries. This acquisition of Payguru will expand TPAY MOBILE’s offering of alternative payment products and financial technologies and will contribute to further growth across geographies and business lines.
Payguru, which was founded in 2015, has been the first mobile payment company to receive a license from the financial regulator. The company offers direct carrier billing through three mobile network operators and bank transfer /ATM payments through 8 major banks. Payguru currently has over 1300 merchants on its platform and processed over 13 million transactions in the past 12 months.

Sahar Salama, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TPAY MOBILE, stated: “TPAY MOBILE is on an accelerated growth trajectory, and the acquisition of Payguru fast-tracks our vision to become the leading digital payment platform in the Middle East and Africa, guaranteeing a best in class user experience, and offering innovative services to our partners, and further driving digital and financial inclusion in our region. This transaction extends our footprint in the region, continues our diversification into new business lines and also significantly strengthens our value-added services proposition in the region. The regional and global fintech sector is at an inflection point for growth, making this the perfect time to welcome Payguru into our fold.”

Research shows that the fintech sector in the MENA region is growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30%*, compared to 11% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) globally*. In Africa in particular, mobile money is forecast to deliver CAGR of 31% in terms of registered accounts and 26% in terms of revenue between 2018 and 2023*. Registered accounts are forecast to grow from 91 million in 2018 to 353 million in 2023 and mobile money revenue is forecast to grow from US$1.2 billion in 2018 to US$3.6 billion in 2023.

Within the global fintech sector DCB, in particular, will be growing exponentially to reach US$28 billion by 2023, with over 1.5 billion users – equating to 39% of those with a smartphone, according to a research into “The Future of DCB” published by Mobilesquared. According to this research, the number of users in the Middle East is expected to grow 58% over the 3 years between 2020 and 2023 to reach 60 million DCB users, with revenue growing by a healthy 30%, to a total of US$ 800 million by 2023. Africa is another exciting growth story, with an expected revenue growth of 84% to US$ 985 million and user growth of 60% to reach 128 million.

Payguru’s Co-Founder and Chairman CEO Işık Uman said: “We are proud to have built a successful and profitable business over the last 5 years, which we have achieved through organic growth and no external investment. We are delighted to be joining TPAY MOBILE, a leading player in the region. The merger with TPAY MOBILE opens a huge window of opportunity for the export of our products outside of our country leveraging TPAY MOBILE’s presence in MEA countries. This will also bring our local merchants the opportunity to collect payments from these new countries with a single integration on TPAYMOBILE/Payguru platform.”

*The Milken Institute Centre for Financial Markets
*UBS Research
*Delta Partners

About TPAY MOBILE
TPAY MOBILE is MEA’s leading digital merchant acquirer, enabling payments acceptance from more than 54 mobile payment types and wallets, which are connected to over 580 million consumers, through a single integration. Mobile payments are a key payment method in the Middle East and Africa, used by over 50% of the population, most of which is underbanked, and TPAY MOBILE leverages direct carrier billing and wallet billing to unlock access to these customers across 24 countries for its merchant partners.

TPAY MOBILE is currently present in Egypt, UAE, KSA, Palestine, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Tunisia, Iraq, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Libya, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Company is headquartered in the UAE, with teams based in Egypt. Our shareholders are – Helios Investment Partners , the leading Africa-focused private investment firm, and A15 , the Middle East’s leading tech investment fund.

PRESS RELEASE

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The world’s first gold-backed digital gold currency launched in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Middle East and Africa

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) – IBMC Financial Professionals Group, an internationally recognized financial services institution and business consultants, has joined hands with US Gold Currency Inc and Blockfills to bring the world’s first monetary gold-backed digital gold currency to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Middle East and Africa. The currency is also being simultaneously introduced in India.

For this, IBMC has partnered exclusively with US Gold Currency Inc, the issuer of the US Gold digital currency, and Blockfills, the transaction platform provider.

Each US Gold digital currency is backed by US American Eagle one ounce (33.931 gram) gold coin, minted by US Federal Agency, US Mint. The holders of the currency can redeem their digital assets as physical gold coin or in US dollars anywhere in the world.

IBMC is introducing the digital asset to customers ranging from retail and corporate investors, banks, financial institutions and sovereign wealth funds to treasuries and asset management companies.

The US Gold digital currency was launched on June 22 from Dubai at a specially designed IBMC Hybrid Event by H.E. Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Hamed, Chairman of IBMC Financial Professionals Group and Mr Sajith Kumar PK, CEO & Managing Director of  IBMC Financial Professionals Group, with the virtual presence of officials from the US Gold Currency, Asia-Africa Development Council, GSEF and Blockfills USA.

“We have seen significant demand for gold and USG is an innovative and unique digital currency backed by the American Eagle one ounce gold coin. Today’s global economic climate has further increased that demand at the institutional and retail levels. We are very happy to join hands with US Gold Currency and Blockfills in bringing the world’s first monetary gold-backed digital gold asset to the GCC, Middle East and African markets in addition to India,” said HE Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Hamed.

Consumers and businesses benefit from a secure digital asset token that is not subject to the volatile swings of the markets, and from the opportunity to easily exchange their digital currency into a tangible asset, monetary gold coins produced by the US Mint.

With the launch of the digital gold currency, investors in GCC, Middle East & Africa will have the significant opportunity to reduce the cost of their transactions as well as have the flexibility of time for making payments.  A customer can login with a secured user ID and password on the trading platform for buying and redeeming the coins.

“Tackling the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch of the Digital Gold Currency will enable companies in developing countries settle their inter-company transactions without paying extortionate fees,” said Dr. Abdul Dewale Mohammed, Deputy Director General, Asia-Africa Development Council. As a vital transport currency, it will to a large extent help reduce and eliminate risks in business, he added.

Larry Debry, Director US Gold Currency, said:  “We are honored to be working with the leaders of IBMC and their esteemed team of professionals. Gold has been one of the most significant legacy asset classes throughout history. Just as everyone has written gold off, saying it is outdated and no longer relevant, US Gold Currency created the USG forming a futuristic and modern gold asset class for the 21st Century by marrying monetary gold with the Blockchain. USG is the ‘real’ digital gold”.

Each USGold token (USG) is backed 1:1 with an underlying physical gold coin, the US American Eagle, which is created and distributed by the US Mint. Therefore, USG token holders can redeem their tokens physically for gold coins, should they choose to forego the digital asset in their wallet.  Token holders can also sell the USG on the open market through various digital asset exchanges or through Blockfills in exchange for US Dollars. USG can also be converted into several other digital assets, including BTC, ETH, USDT and more.

The US government division, the US Mint, sets the price of the underlying physical gold coin once per week, on Wednesdays. USG pricing follows this publicly available government set price.

“IBMC Financial Professionals Group is always committed to introducing innovative and credible services to the investing public. USG is easy to handle without customs barriers, easy to hold without any country restrictions, paying insurance cost or storage charges.  USG is US regulated and fully online with easy account opening and operating procedures, enabling customers to avail all services of USG from their homes or office, which of course is an added advantage in the current and post COVID-19 pandemic period,” said Mr. Sajith Kumar PK , CEO & Managing Director, IBMC Financial Professionals Group.

The professional team of US Gold Currency, IBMC Group and Blockfills will pave the strong network and base of the innovative digital asset ecosystem and fiat pairings to generations, added Mr. Sajith Kumar.

Blockfills, a global leader in liquidity provision of digital assets for professionals and institutions and leading institutional market makers, provide liquidity for the USG Digital Gold Currency.

USG is backed by US Monetary Gold Coin and ensures true value currency. All classes of investors, including exchanges, treasuries, banks, financial institutions, corporates, HNIs and retail investors are permitted to invest in USG.

USG, the Blockchain Security Verified Currency by the authority, CertiK, USA partnering with IBM and Ethereum Foundation, will also ensure the credibility and security of USG.

“IBMC Financial Professionals, having strong market presence in GCC, Middle East, India and Africa, is ready to place USG to customers through the IBMC Global Network. IBMC’s market reach and network will ensure adequate support and services to our global retail and institutional customers,” said Mr. Anoop PS, CBO and Executive Director, IBMC Financial Professionals Group.

“Bringing the USG Digital Asset Currency to the public markets is a result of the great partnership that we have with US Gold Currency and IBMC. Over the past year, we experienced a growing demand for gold as a digital asset. Today’s global economic climate has further increased that demand. We look forward to building a thriving business through our valued partnership with IBMC and US Gold,” said Mike Pearson, Senior Vice President, BlockFills, USA.

The IBMC Hybrid event was virtually attended by Mr. Mark Bensen, Founder, US Gold Currency, USA, Mr. Lawrence S Debry, Principal, US Gold Currency, USA, Dr. Abdul Dewale Mohammed, Deputy Director General, Asia-Africa Development Council,  Executive Chairman ASGON, GSEF, UK, a Signatory to United Nations Global Compact, Mr. Mike Pearson, Vice President, Blockfills, USA, and Mr. Anoop PS, CBO & ED, IBMC Financial Professionals Group.

About IBMC:

IBMC Financial Professionals Group is an internationally recognized financial services institution & business consultants specializing in Investment & Fund Management, Private-placement Management, Corporate Advisory Services, Financial Education, FinTech Development, Corporate Tax & Audit, Corporate Law and Compliance. IBMC Financial Professionals Group is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates. 

IBMC maintains a strong presence and high level of credibility within the financial services industry. IBMC connects different continents through its professional team and specialized international projects and events focusing on innovation, technology and diversification.

About USGold:

In its 40 years of service, US Gold, Inc. has provided bullion gold coin sales specializing in the 1oz American Gold Eagle coin – a monetary-gold coin minted under the direction of the United States Treasury. Today, US Gold Currency, Inc. provides the American Gold Eagle coin in a Digital Blockchain Receipt – the “USGold Token”, each one fully collateralized 1:1 with a 1oz American Gold Eagle coin. Referred to as “USG” – for the US Gold Dollar.

About Blockfills:

Blockfills is a global digital financial service technology & trading firm which provides liquidity, execution and clearing of digital assets across time zones and geographies.

PRESS RELEASE

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Mauritius releases new guidelines for licensing of security token trading

https://thefintechtimes.com/mauritius-releases-new-guidelines-for-licensing-of-security-token-trading/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mauritius-releases-new-guidelines-for-licensing-of-security-token-trading

The island state released a 15-page-document outlining guidelines that will allow security token trading systems to be registered and regulated by the FSC

The Financial Services Commission (FSC), the integrated regulator for the non-bank financial services sector of Mauritius, announced a framework aimed at ensuring more regulatory certainty with regards to security token systems in the country. The regulatory body stated that the move will enable the implementation of a common set of standards for the licensing of Security Token Trading Systems in Mauritius.  The FSC released a 15 – page document outlining the new standards coupled with the press release on Monday.

With the release of the new guidelines under section 7(1) (a) of the Financial Services Act 2007, new security token trading systems are eligible to obtain an FSC license. This effectively allows a business to not only put up a security token for sale, but also operate a trading house on the island. Furthermore, the step can be viewed as a crucial milestone towards official recognition of security tokens.

The guidelines also outline strict requirements that license-holders must comply with. License-holders are required to comply with “Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) laws and codes, data protection laws, as well as, on the implementation of good market practice for an efficient, transparent and integrated financial market,” stated the press release. They will also be obliged to publish daily trading data that is subject to review by the FSC.

The guidelines also mandate a licensed security token trading body to have at least 35 million Mauritian rupees ($880,000 USD). They are also required to engage a registered custodian for digital assets and the custody of fiat currency shall be held with a licensed Mauritius bank.

While commenting on the release, Mr. Dhanesswurnath Thakoor, the Chief Executive of the FSC stated that “As part of our core strategy, the FSC is aiming at positioning Mauritius as a regional hub of sound repute in the field of Fintech.”

He declared that “The publication of a Guidance Note on Security Tokens Offering (STO) and Security Tokens Trading Systems is another stepping stone in building an open and transparent regulatory regime for Fintech in Mauritius.” “We already have a growing interest in these specific licenses and are expecting to receive several applications in the upcoming months,” he added.

An FSC spokesperson stated that further regulations regarding security token exchanges will be released later this year. The spokesperson added that the new licensing regime will enable Mauritius to be a crypto-friendly jurisdiction and a regional hub for a security token, not only in neighbouring countries, but also in Africa and India.

This article was originally published by Harshini Nag on CoinJournal

https://thefintechtimes.com/mauritius-releases-new-guidelines-for-licensing-of-security-token-trading/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mauritius-releases-new-guidelines-for-licensing-of-security-token-trading

Icelandic neobank indó partners with Enfuce to develop Iceland’s first challenger bank

https://thefintechtimes.com/icelandic-neobank-indo-partners-with-enfuce-to-develop-icelands-first-challenger-bank/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=icelandic-neobank-indo-partners-with-enfuce-to-develop-icelands-first-challenger-bank

Relying on Enfuce’s turnkey service, indó can develop and scale “the world’s least powerful bank”.

indó, Iceland’s first-ever challenger bank, has selected Enfuce – Finland’s biggest fintech startup – as its partner for payments, open banking and sustainability services. The collaboration assists indó in its announced plans to introduce the first new bank in Iceland in decades, by leveraging Enfuce’s leading industry and compliance expertise.

Founded in 2018, indó aims to reinvent banking with a simple and transparent neobanking service. Once its pending banking license is approved, indó will launch a card-linked app and current account with market-beating interest rates. In its mission to become the ”world’s least powerful bank”, indó never directly manages user funds. Instead, it operates a ‘narrow banking’ model whereby deposits are safely deposited with the local central bank, ensuring a 100% safe and transparent banking service.

To realise its ambitions, indó was seeking a full-service partner with a focus on speed and compliance. Joining forces with Enfuce, indó is equipped with the know-how necessary to operate compliant banking services at scale. Enfuce’s turnkey service contains the capabilities for implementing data-driven features in the indó app, set for launch later in 2020.

“We at indó are thrilled to partner up with Enfuce on our journey. The core value for which indó stands, and our desire to affect a real change in the banking industry, is matched by Enfuce’s drive and vision. Enfuce is not only a partner in our venture, they are a crucial element in our above-and-beyond value proposition to our customers,” said Haukur Skúlason, CEO at indó.

The key pillars of Enfuce’s offering – Payments Services, Open Banking and My Carbon Action – will underpin various elements of the indó user experience. Using Enfuce’s payments platform, indó can monitor card payments and seamlessly control in-app features. The open banking solution allows indó to build smarter money management services using a single, PSD2-compliant access point to Europe’s financial data.

The Reykjavik-based startup leverages Enfuce’s offering in order to efficiently develop secure, socially conscious banking services. The latter is manifested through My Carbon Action – Enfuce’s plug-and-play carbon footprint tracker – which will show indó users the CO2 emissions of their individual spending in categories like food and transportation, and provide actionable insights on sustainable lifestyles.

“We’re convinced that indó is going to shake up the status quo in Icelandic banking. That indó chose to subscribe to our full offering – from payment processing to open banking – is humbling, and speaks to the huge long-term potential of this partnership. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts,” said Monika Liikamaa, Co-Founder and Chair at Enfuce.

https://thefintechtimes.com/icelandic-neobank-indo-partners-with-enfuce-to-develop-icelands-first-challenger-bank/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=icelandic-neobank-indo-partners-with-enfuce-to-develop-icelands-first-challenger-bank

Payfone raises $100 million led by the Apax Digital Fund

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Investment will accelerate privacy-first customer identity platform with strategic acquisitions

Payfone announced it has raised $100 million to acquire strategic assets, further strengthen its machine learning capabilities, and build a cross-industry consortium to secure digital transactions and experiences. The investment was led by funds advised by Apax Digital, the growth equity team of Apax Partners. Payfone is setting a new standard for digital identity verification and authentication. Its customer identity platform enables the world’s largest financial institutions, healthcare organisations and technology companies to bring speed and security to their onboarding, digital servicing and call centre processes.

Payfone’s authentication solutions, including its unique Trust Score™ tool, are built on ten years of proprietary phone intelligence that enable Payfone to anonymously measure a phone number’s reputation and risk with real-time processing of behavioural signals. Payfone’s platform instantly detects burner phones, spoofed calls, real-time SIM swap fraud, and synthetic identities, while removing friction from legitimate transactions. Payfone also provides call verification solutions that run passively in the background of a phone call, allowing faster issue resolution.

Rodger Desai, CEO of Payfone, said, “The mobile phone is rapidly becoming the secure passport for navigating our digital lives. With one in three US consumers already authenticated by Payfone, this investment accelerates our ability to set the standard for the authentication process. As we build out a cross-industry consortium, more enterprises will be able to access Payfone’s real-time fraud and risk signals to prevent account takeovers while passing more transactions.”

Daniel O’Keefe, Managing Partner of Apax Digital said, “Identity is the key enabling technology for the next generation of digital businesses. Payfone’s Trust Score™ is core to the real-time decisioning that enterprises need in order to drive revenue while thwarting fraud and protecting privacy.”

Zach Fuchs, Principal of Apax Digital added, “Payfone’s technology enables frictionless customer experience, while curbing the mounting operating expense caused by manual review.” Concurrent with the investment, Mr. O’Keefe and Mr. Fuchs will join Payfone’s board of directors.

Joining the investment round are new investors Sandbox Insurtech Ventures and Ralph de la Vega, the former Vice Chairman of AT&T. Existing investors MassMutual Ventures, Synchrony, Blue Venture Fund, Wellington Management LLP, and former CEO of LexisNexis Andrew Prozes also participated. For more information about Payfone’s suite of identity verification and authentication solutions, visit payfone.com.

https://thefintechtimes.com/payfone-raises-100-million-led-by-the-apax-digital-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=payfone-raises-100-million-led-by-the-apax-digital-fund

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Financial Services guide to Fintech’ – Devie Mohan

https://thefintechtimes.com/book-review-the-financial-services-guide-to-fintech-devie-mohan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=book-review-the-financial-services-guide-to-fintech-devie-mohan

Fintech has obviously been an exciting and rapidly evolving area of growth for many countries, companies, and entrepreneurs. Indeed it’s hardly recognisable from its humble beginnings. At some stage, the realisation came that Fintech companies were going to have to transition from being disruptors to collaborators, and to become a more functional and integrated part of this industry.

financial services guide to fintech by Devie MohanAuthor: Devie Mohan

This is where Devie Mohan’s new book, ‘The Financial Services guide to Fintech’ comes in. In it, Devie charts the complete journey of fintech companies within the financial service space. She explores this journey all the way from the early days, through their emergence during the 2008 financial crisis, and to the relatively mature market that we are currently witnessing.

Devie Mohan is an experienced Fintech industry professional, the co-founder and CEO of Burnmark, a fintech research company, a contributor to the ING group Think Forward Initiative, and sits on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital Banking. Additionally, she is a well-regarded influencer in the Fintech space.

Tracking the Fintech Journey

Financial Services are inexorably linked to banks and the banking system, and therefore it is no surprise that Devie spends a lot of time in this book focusing on the evolving relationship between the banking sector and their fintech counterparts. This book is definitely an interesting read, and the gripping narrative that is the evolution of Fintech within the Financial Service sector, keeps you entertained throughout.

When it comes to the relationship between the banks and fintech companies, Devie suggests that banks are concerned with profitability and customer service more than anything else “Developing profitable products and customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal and a driver of success.” It is therefore through this lens, she argues, that a bank will judge their present and future relationship with any fintech company. For instance, Banks would initially regard fintech companies as being a potential threat to their current and future profitability. Once fintechs started to grow and become a major player in the financial sector, banks viewed them as rivals, rather than either a) collaborators b) not on their radar.

She then goes onto illustrates how the banks started to realise that, as the fintechs grew and became more established, that they wouldn’t be going anywhere in a hurry. Therefore, banks were going to need to figure out a way to co-exist with these new players – by collaborating. What’s more, they began to notice that fintech companies offered a lot of things that they could not – due to legacy issues and their less-than-agile nature. This strengthened the will of banks to now change tack and to collaborate and partner up with these fintechs.

Fintech Customer Service – the way forward?

The second point that she tackles is the issue of Customer Service, something which many banks have been particularly struggling with in recent times. For banks, she explains, they have preferred to emphasise “just how safe your money will be with these venerable institutions,” rather than being known for having an excellent relationship with their customers.

However, the financial crash shook that all up, and banks now find it “much harder […] to present themselves as watertight and utterly dependable.” This is where trendy, modern startups, with excellent communication skills, can come in. Banks are now “getting involved with fintechs thanks to the outstanding customer experience that digital baking collaboration offers them.”

Success Stories

In order to make her points about the fintech story more effective, she presents them alongside numerous case studies and business examples, of which there are of course plenty. She explores the effect that Plaid has had on the financial sector, with its scalable API “having a democratising effect” with regards to the technical infrastructure startup fintechs need to access and process customer’s financial data. Their approach has led to them getting many major clients, such as Chase, Stripe, Capital One and Coinbase.

She also delves into one of the most vibrant and exciting parts of this sector right now, mobile-first banking. Pepper is one such mobile bank that she delves into, who have recently “established themselves in this niche.” As for innovative tech accelerators and incubators, she highlights Barclays, which launched in 2012 and now has accelerator programmes being run all around the globe, and works to deliver “networking and mentorship from one of the Barclays and offering up to $120,000 as an investment along with other corporate partner perks.”

Fintech Futures

She also takes a moment to chart and explore what the next steps of this industry, such as utilising data analytics, machine learning, and AI “In this climate, AI will increasingly be contributing to decision making, and big data will be invaluable.” Another potential benefit she sees just on the horizon is the fintech revolution of access to finance, such as peer-to-peer loans, via a digital/mobile platform, that will “pave the way for billions of people who currently have no access to banking services to circumnavigate the centralised banking system,” and she makes particular reference to developing countries with this point. She also explores the future with reference to the replacement of the current banking systems, the power of Big Data, and the rise of Robo-advisors as some of the major fintech events to watch out for down the line.

In short, this is a fascinating read, backed up by a mixture of professional observation, real-world examples, and major studies. From the origins of fintech in the financial crisis to the present situation today where they have a seat at the table with the major banking players, by way of the major factors that helped them to this position. She explores the development, current state, and future innovations that fintech is likely to experience sector by sector, from digital payments and financial solutions, to RegTech, Big Data and Machine Learning. On top of this, she tries to identify the place that fintech now occupies, amongst the major banks, financial service providers, and Governments. It could quite well become the definitive guide to fintech within the Financial Services industry.

Buy the book here on Amazon.co.uk

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Federal Reserve allocates coin inventories to shore up supply during COVID-19

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/federal-reserve-allocates-coin-inventories-to-shore-up-supply-during-covid-19/

Federal Reserve allocates coin inventories to shore up supply during COVID-19Logo provided.

The Federal Reserve has begun allocating coin inventories in response to declining coin inventories due to COVID-19, according to a press release.

The COVID‐19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin. In the past few months, coin deposits from depository institutions to the Federal Reserve have declined significantly and the U.S. Mint’s production of coin also decreased due to measures put in place to protect its employees.

Federal Reserve coin orders from depository institutions have begun to increase as regions reopen, resulting in the Federal Reserve’s coin inventory being reduced to below normal levels. While the U.S. Mint is the issuing authority for coin, the Federal Reserve manages coin inventory and its distribution to depository institutions, including commercial banks, community banks, credit unions and thrifts, through Reserve Bank cash operations and offsite locations across the country operated by Federal Reserve vendors.

The Federal Reserve is working on several fronts to mitigate the effects of low coin inventories. This includes managing the allocation of existing Fed inventories, working with the Mint, as issuing authority, to minimize coin supply constraints and maximize coin production capacity, and encouraging depository institutions to order only the coin they need to meet near‐term customer demand.

Effective June 15, Reserve Banks and Federal Reserve coin distribution locations began allocating coin inventories. To ensure a fair and equitable distribution of existing coin inventory to all depository institutions, the Federal Reserve Banks and coin distribution locations began to allocate available supplies of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to depository institutions as a temporary measure.

The temporary coin allocation methodology is based on historical order volume by coin denomination and depository institution endpoint, and current U.S. Mint production levels. Order limits are unique by coin denomination and are the same across all Federal Reserve coin distribution locations. Limits will be reviewed and potentially revised based on national receipt levels, inventories and Mint production.

For an update on how the coronavirus pandemic affects convenience services, click here.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/federal-reserve-allocates-coin-inventories-to-shore-up-supply-during-covid-19/