[LIVESTREAM]: ICX Association Elevate Awards

[LIVESTREAM]: ICX Association Elevate AwardsPublication Type:

Published / Updated:

DATE: 09/22 | Time: 12PM EST

The ICX Association Elevate Awards honor the individuals and organizations that are pacesetters in using technology to elevate the customer experience. This year, the awards will be presented during a special livestream event.

Award winners will be announced for:
Best Digital Signage ICX
Best Kiosk ICX
Best Mobile ICX
Best Restaurant ICX
Best Retail ICX
Best Omnichannel ICX
Best Emerging Technology in ICX
Lyle Bunn Industry Influencer of the Year

Subscribe to the ICX Association YouTube page: To make sure you are notified when the livestream for the awards event goes live, you will be taken to the ICX Association YouTube channel after registering. Be sure to subscribe and click the “notification bell”, you will then be notified once the livestream begins. Additionally, we will be sending out reminders to those who have registered. So stay tuned!


Fintech B4B Payments Joins LHV Ahead of Global Expansion


LHV, the financial and payment services provider, has announced that award-winning corporate pre-paid payments solution provider, B4B Payments, has become the latest Fintech customer of its London branch.  

LHV offers several innovative financial services to its wide range of clients and is the preferred banking partner amongst FinTechs. They have added B4B payments, a leader in fintech and prepaid payment solutions to their client list as the payment provider plans to expand globally and open an office in the USA.

B4B Payments will gain access to LHV’s full services, including state of the art payment infrastructure and real-time Euro and Sterling payments capability via Single Euro Payment Area (‘SEPA’) Instant and Faster Payments schemes respectively.

In addition, B4B will benefit from access to LHV’s Application Programming Interface ‘LHV Connect’, which offers a wide range of services, including GBP and EUR safeguarding accounts, Virtual IBANs, currency exchange, liquidity services and where appropriate financing. 

B4B CEO and co-founder, Paul Swinton said, “We looked at a number of providers to provide safeguarding and virtual IBAN capabilities. LHV came out on top due to their flexibility, functionality and value proposition. We migrated our clients easily onto the platform and we are very happy with the service to date. LHV will also be able to support us when we establish our European operation later this month with a one-stop solution.”

As a leader in Fintech and prepaid business payments for over 14 years, B4B Payments offers innovative, flexible, and time-saving solutions that streamline and eliminate antiquated finance and accounting processes. 

The FCA authorized company is also going global, expanding operations in North American and opening its first US offices in Boston. The platform enables organisations of any size to manage expenses, simplify payroll, reimbursements, and offer employee rewards and incentives.

Since opening their London office in 2018, LHV have quadrupled customer numbers and significantly diversified their client base, serving companies that range from payment service providers to start-ups, to unicorns. 

Andres Kitter, Head of LHV’s UK Operations, said, “Our decision to establish a presence in London post the 2016 Brexit referendum was to increase our presence in what remains one of the leading financial and fintech sectors in the world and in the process attract customers of the calibre of B4B.  The company has been operating for fifteen years, which shows significant experience and market resilience and we are delighted that two profitable organisations are partnering for continued growth.”

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.


Birth of a Bank: Varo Money Secures National Charter


It’s been a good year for Varo Money. The company became the preferred destination for clients leaving Moven this spring, when the fintech announced that it was pivoting away from consumer banking in favor of a focus on its financial wellness technology.

A few months later, Varo reported a massive investment of $241 million in Series D investment, taking the mobile banking company’s total capital to more than $419 million.

Today we learn that one of Varo’s biggest goals for 2020 – earning a national bank charter – has been fulfilled. The San Francisco, California-based company has been granted a charter by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and has earned regulatory approvals from both the FDIC and the Federal Reserve, making it now set to launch Varo Bank N.A. Varo is the first consumer-facing, U.S. fintech to accomplish this achievement.

“2020 has been challenging for many of us across the country and has highlighted, once again, how the traditional financial system is not meeting the needs of hardworking, everyday Americans,” Varo Money co-founder and CEO Colin Walsh said. “The ability to operate as a full-service national bank gives Varo more freedom to deliver the kind of innovation and allyship that many Americans have never had from their bank before.”

Launched in 2015, Varo Money offers consumers a digital banking alternative including a savings account with an initial APY of 1.21%, and a checking account that comes with a VISA debit card, and early payday for customers that sign up for direct deposit. Varo’s mobile banking app enables users to check up on their accounts and balances, make transfers and mobile check deposits, monitor incoming and outgoing transactions, and more. The company charges no hidden or overdraft fees for its service, and deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.

Bank charter in hand, Varo will soon be able to offer a broader range of products and services including credit cards, joint accounts, and certificates of deposit.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels


New Global Non-Profit Neobank Aims to Lead Efforts in Aid


The relatively new neobank, Aidbanc, which started operating in 2019, is on a mission to empower NGOs with the digital banking and spend management tools they need to disperse aid in a cashless world where it’s needed most. 

Aid, when distributed correctly, has a tremendous impact on the people and communities in developing countries. Over the past 50 years, more than $1 trillion in aid flowed from donor countries into developing countries to help solve some of the most challenging problems faced in our lifetime. From food security to economic development to climate change, aid plays a critical role in lifting millions up from poverty and helping them achieve self-sufficiency.

Global non-profits experience a unique challenge when it comes to managing their finances, as local bank accounts must be established in every country they serve. Furthermore, a majority of payments and expenses happen offline and in cash which makes tracking and reconciliation a challenge for most NGOs. With financial data siloed across systems and countries with no interconnectivity, it is not only burdensome for NGO leaders to manage finances, it also creates a lack of transparency. 

Digital banking tools to help aid disbursal

AidBanc empowers NGOs with digital banking and spending management tools to seamlessly disburse aid in an increasingly cashless world. With AidBanc, NGOs have the ability to manage global spending from a single FDIC corporate account and make local payments to bank accounts, mobile wallets, or in cash in 175 countries — all while offering real-time visibility of expenses and financial position globally from a single dashboard.

What separates AidBanc from other neobanks in the market? One major component: it contributes to social good. By providing a streamlined banking process non-profits can better focus their energy on the service they provide to global communities. Meanwhile, donors can easily track how aid dollars are spent down to the penny. By knowing exactly where the money is going, this provides donors with an incentive to continue, or even increase, their support of the respective organization.

Business from personal experience

AidBanc was co-founded by Maf Sonko and Sesie Bonsi in 2019. Maf immigrated to the United States from The Gambia in 2000; Sesie’s parents are from Ghana. Their backgrounds offered an intimate awareness and appreciation of international aid as they have both seen first-hand the impact aid projects can have.

Together, they have been fortunate to be exposed to the aid space through individual projects and from family members who work for or have worked for some of the largest aid organizations in the world; the Catholic Relief Service, Save the Children, and the U.N., to name a few. Their vision is to make aid 100% efficient in order to maximize the actual impact on local communities across the world. 

Through their passion, they aim to build AidBanc as part of the 2020 Class of the Techstars & Western Union Accelerator. The companies involved in the 2020 class are led by diverse founders from around the world including the Philippines, Egypt, Gambia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Israel, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, South Africa and the United States. This is a group of founders and entrepreneurs addressing challenges across the financial services system that have the potential to make a lasting impact in creating a more equitable and inclusive global financial system. Each of these 10 companies are tackling systemic industry obstacles and embody what it means to drive inclusive innovation.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.


Gosavex Customers can now Loan Friends and Family up to £2000


Start-up financial mobile application Gosavex has announced the immediate launch of its Family and Friends Loan functionality, enabling owners of version 2.0.66 to access an innovative form of cheaper loans whilst having the ability to help the ones they love.

“We are a start-up who saw an opportunity to create a mobile app that truly covered all of the
bases when it came to digital personal finance. Although Gosavex only began operating during the
recent pandemic, we’re very excited about our future,” said Seweryn Bidolach, CEO at Gosavex.

Gosavex provides a modern and very inexpensive solution, that lets students manage their
finances and monitor or regulate informal loans between their parents and themselves. 73% of
UK students believe that informal loans can support others but are also worried that the process
could create awkwardness and damage friendships. This solution formalises and automates the
loan process while allowing users to start building their credit score which will enable them in
the future to access low-cost commercial loans.

Positive Customer Impact

Though only being in the alpha phase of their app, it hasn’t stopped Gosavex from being an
appealing financial app available to millennials. Through relevant research and development,
the company has identified an opportunity for its mobile application to positively impact their

A successful informal loans market has potential financial benefits for both lenders and
borrowers. Deployment of the Family and Friends Loan feature formalises a process that would
usually be carried out through a casual conversation, subsequently protecting the lender from
not being repaid and helping the borrower with a flexible repayment plan. Whilst still a relatively
new area of finance, research suggests that this phenomenon is bound to be attractive to the
millennial generation. According to research, lending money for social occasions is most
prevalent among younger people, almost two-thirds (62%) of 18-24-year-olds have lent money
to close friends for a drink in a pub or bar.

More students than ever are struggling to make ends meet, causing 79% to worry about their financial situation whilst at university. In turn, the average student receives £134.25 a month from parents in order to support them. Furthermore, the European Credit Research Institute (ECRI) has suggested that UK consumer borrowing on credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts are rising at their highest pace since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007. Gosavex have taken on board this research and developed its functionality around the idea that the app will help those looking to borrow money, avoiding higher interest rates that banks would offer.

The Launch of Gosavex Family and Friends loans

The Family and Friends feature is an update driven by extensive research and is part of
Gosavex’s commitment to deliver a financial platform which helps people get better investment
returns and access cheaper loans.

Family and Friends Loan Feature is available for immediate download from the Gosavex
website, Google and Apple App Stores. Founded in 2020, mobile application Gosavex is a startup company with great potential to become a huge success in the mobile application industry. The company provides a wide range of unique features such as showing users exactly where they spent their money through a heat
map function, while also offering an easily available, printable summary report that includes 2- years of accurate, individual financial details.

The Family and Friends Loan feature is their most recent offering that allows a safe and convenient way of loaning up to £2000 to family and friends. This application comes with messaging templates to help users communicate with family and friends requesting financial support for everything from rent payments to cinema tickets. It even offers the option of selecting an interest rate to formalise the deal even more. Plus, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to repay because the app will even send you reminders.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.


Richard Davies, the Revolut, TSB and HSBC banking heavyweight has been appointed as Alicia Banks CEO

  • Davies joins from Revolut where he held the roles of Group COO and CEO of Banking

  • A leader in UK fintech, Davies was the first CEO for OakNorth Bank, developing the business model, technology, and successful regulatory licence application

  • Davies brings 20 years’ SME Banking experience to the role

Allica Bank – the recently launched business bank that seeks to empower small and medium sized businesses – has today announced the appointment of Richard Davies as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

In this role, Richard will be responsible for leading the Bank as it scales to become a major force in serving British businesses, delivering the funding, technology and expertise needed at what is a crucial time for the British business sector.

Davies brings a wealth of banking and fintech experience to Allica Bank, having spent the last 20 years supporting British businesses on behalf of some of the UK’s largest banks and fastest growing financial companies.

Throughout his career Davies has championed British businesses through the development of innovative products and solutions that add real, long-term value. He joins Allica Bank from Revolut, where he led the group’s global banking proposition, including establishing new leadership teams and operations in Ireland, US, Australia, and Singapore; launching Revolut’s bank in Europe; and progressing Revolut’s plans in the UK. He has previously held senior roles with TSB, HSBC, OakNorth Bank, and Barclays. In 2013-14, as the first CEO of OakNorth, Richard developed the business model, technology, and successful regulatory licence application for OakNorth Bank.

Davies replaces outgoing CEO, Mark Stephens, who recently signalled his intention to retire from executive roles, following a career spanning more than 40 years in UK business banking.

Richard will take up his position with Allica on 24/08/2020, subject to regulatory approval. Richard will continue to work with Revolut in a Non-Executive advisory capacity for their European business.

Allica Bank is backed by Warwick Capital Partners and exists to empower small and medium businesses to succeed.

Richard Davies, CEO elect, Allica Bank, said: 

“The world as we know it is changing fast and it’s the companies who can blend innovative technology with real human expertise, who will thrive and add real value for their customers.

“It is for that reason I am delighted to be joining Allica Bank. I strongly believe we have the talent, experience and commitment to support British businesses through these uncertain times.

“Now, perhaps more than ever, is when financial institutions need to step up and be counted on behalf of the customers that need them. In my career I have worked for some of the largest established banks and fastest growing challengers, I am excited to be continuing in that vein as I move from one of the most disruptive fintechs, to the bank that I believe can transform business banking in the UK.”

John Maltby, Chairman, Allica Bank, said:

“It is with great pleasure that I am able to today announce the appointment of Richard Davies as CEO of Allica Bank. As a respected leader and innovator of business banking and fintech, Richard’s appointment is testament to Allica Bank’s progress, since securing our banking licence in September 2019.

“2020 has certainly been a challenging year for British businesses, and everyone at Allica Bank has worked hard to support companies through these turbulent times. Since our launch, and throughout the Covid-19 period, Allica has continued to provide solutions at pace, resulting in a strong pipeline across the length and breadth of the country. Following on from our initial proposition we have launched our fixed and notice savings accounts, with further products to support SMEs set to follow in the coming months. Allica is very well placed to support British businesses now and into the future, with the arrival of Richard adding further weight to our capability to be a leading SME bank.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to place on record our thanks to Mark Stephens for all he has done in the last two years and we wish both him and his family the very best in his retirement. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Mark has worked tirelessly to ensure small and medium businesses have access to the products and expertise they need, and this belief has been central to Mark’s approach in building and leading Allica Bank.

“Mark will continue to support British SMEs and remain involved with the industry in Non-Executive and advisory roles, in the years ahead.”


38% of P2P Investors Expect Lending Market Recovery by end of 2020


According to a survey conducted by the P2P lending platform, Robo.cash more than a third of P2P investors expect the industry to recover by the end of this year. Investors see regular payments and a decrease in the number of loan defaults as two main signs of the market’s recovery.

37.7% of investors believe that the P2P lending market will regain its pre-crisis volumes by the end of 2020. 36% are of the opinion that this will happen only in the first half of next year, and just 10.9% of respondents think that the market will recover only by the end of 2021.

Curiously, 44.6% of German-speaking respondents tend to think that the market will recover only in the first half of 2021. Meanwhile, the majority of English-speaking participants (36.1%) expect that it will happen by the end of 2020.

According to 30.3% of investors, the main sign of the market recovery will be the restoration of regular payments to investors by the loan originators and P2P platforms, which have suffered liquidity issues. The outflow of investments from P2P platforms due to the massive withdrawal of funds by investors hesitating to reinvest was one of the factors. Still, the introduction of repayment holidays in some countries and the crisis which has left numerous borrowers unemployed and therefore, insolvent have become the most crucial for the lenders. Thus, 26.3% of the surveyed believe that a noticeable decrease in the number of default loans will be a sure sign of recovery.

Sergey Sedov, CEO of Robocash Group, comments on the data:

“Despite the crisis of the first months of the year, in summer, the market is resuming its growth just as we expected. In May, the market began to grow, and in June, the growth rate increased by another 19%. We can predict that the platform will come back to its pre-crisis level of funding within 2-3 months, and the recovery of the whole market may well happen by the end of 2020. This generally complies with our investors’ expectations.”

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.


The Country of Uganda Using eCommerce Platforms to Overcome COVID-19

On the outskirts of Uganda’s capital of Kampala, David
Akanshumbusha sells groceries at a stall in Nakawa market. He’s
also on
, which is a motorcycle (‘bodaboda’) taxi hailing
app that recently launched an e-commerce platform by connecting
market vendors with customers; this was a result of Uganda going on
lockdown to control the spread of CoVID-19. Customers place orders
through the SafeBoda app and pay through its mobile wallet feature.
Later, riders that are based at the market would deliver the

“Thanks to the app, I now have more customers than ever
before,” Mr. Akanshumbusha said. The ‘bodaboda’ hailing app
that has evolved into an e-commerce platform has boosted sales for
him and hundreds of other small traders, benefiting thousands of
customers as well. SafeBoda and other e-commerce platforms have
seen a triple-digit increase in business following the outbreak of
the pandemic. By giving market vendors access to the app, it allows
them to sell goods while sustaining the livelihoods of 18,000
‘bodaboda’ riders whose incomes have been affected by the

The app’s e-commerce platform is the result of a
between the United Nations Capital Development Fund
and SafeBoda Uganda, with support from the Swedish International
Development Cooperation Agency. E-commerce platforms such as
SafeBoda are helping soften the economic blow of CoVID-19. And the
Ugandan government is helping them flourish by fostering an
enabling environment for e-commerce and the digital economy, in
line with recommendations of an
UNCTAD eTrade Readiness Assessment

The country of Uganda is using e-commerce platforms to overcome Co-VID 19 by Richie SantosdiazThe country of Uganda
is using e-commerce platforms to overcome Co-VID 19 (pictured Mr.
David Akanshumbusha) IMAGE SOURCE PROVIDED

“We are pleased to see such collaboration between different
stakeholders,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of
technology and logistics. “They show the importance of
public-private cooperation with development partners.” Ms.
Sirimanne said the collaboration shows the added value of partners
under the
eTrade for all initiative
, which empowers developing countries
to benefit from e-commerce.

Uganda’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year is
projected to hover below 2% compared with almost 5.6% in 2019 due
to CoVID-19, according to
the World Bank
. As part of its response to the pandemic’s
economic fallout, the Ugandan government is at the forefront of
promoting e-commerce and digital solutions for faster recovery from
the crisis.

For instance, it has worked with mobile phone operators to
reduce fees for digital services and offer complementary internet
data packages to consumers to facilitate cashless transactions.
It’s also using digital media to disseminate health messages and
fight misinformation. Besides, the government is strengthening
public-private sector cooperation to improve trade logistics and
enhance the supply of digital services, in line with UNCTAD’s

Ugandan authorities are also bolstering entrepreneurship by
supporting innovation and start-up-driven solutions. Further, the
country has boosted internet connectivity by extending
infrastructure that has enabled firms to lower the costs of their

Uganda is also improving trust in online transactions. Last
year, it enacted a data protection and privacy law to enhance the
security of these transactions. An e-payments law recently approved
by the country’s parliament is expected to come into effect soon
to level the playing field for providers. In addition, Uganda plans
to develop a national e-commerce strategy with support from the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “We’re banking on
e-commerce to catalyse innovation, growth and social prosperity in
the digital economy,” said the country’s minister of trade,
industry and cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde.

Uganda has seen a boom in e-payment solutions in recent years.
Between 2015 and 2019, mobile money transactions in Uganda more
than doubled in value, from about $9 billion to $20 billion,

according to the country’s central bank
. CoVID-19 has
amplified the uptake of e-payments and growth of local fintech
solutions. Among the beneficiaries of the growth is
, an e-commerce and financial services mobile app with
more than 50,000 subscribers. It allows people to buy goods from
marketplaces using methods such as mobile money, credit cards or
bank transfers, and to access loans within the app.

Following the CoVID-19 outbreak, the company waived set-up and
commission fees for small businesses for three months. This saw it
record a 10% increase in business-to-consumer transactions and a
200% jump in business-to-business turnover, said its chief
executive officer, Allan Rwakatungu. The company also launched a
new service to ease online and mobile transactions and payments for
micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) hardest hit by

In another partnership, food delivery startup
Jumia Food Uganda
joined forces with UNDP to boost its
services, introducing contactless delivery and cashless payments in
response to the pandemic.
Under the partnership launched in May
, UNDP aggregates seller
groups and provides technical assistance to improve the firm’s
capacity in packaging, tracking sales and technology adoption.

Over 3,000 market vendors from seven markets are now connected
and selling their produce on the Jumia platform. More than 60% of
them are women, people with disabilities and the youth. “Such
partnerships help build the capacity of MSMEs through market-based
digital solutions,” Ms. Sirimanne said. “We need more of them
to strengthen e-commerce and digital ecosystems across

The post
The Country of Uganda Using eCommerce Platforms to Overcome
appeared first on The Fintech Times.


Alt Lending: Zombie companies, Bank Interventions & conflicting priorities for Alt Lenders


Here is our pick of the 3 most important Alt Lending news
stories during the week: Zombies are a major drag on the uk economy
New analysis from KPMG UK finds the rising prominence of so-called
‘zombie firms’ is threatening to cause a significant
drag-effect on the UK economy. Why it matters: Referring to Zombie

The post
Alt Lending: Zombie companies, Bank Interventions & conflicting
priorities for Alt Lenders
appeared first on Daily Fintech.


A Place for Robots at the Banking Table


The new, low-touch economy has set me thinking about robots recently. The less society is able to interact with fellow humans, the more voids exist, especially in the services industry.

And I’m not just talking about restaurants and hair salons (though, are robot barbers in our future?). The banking industry is a prime candidate for the intervention of a physical robot in a world suffering from a highly transmissible disease.

Perhaps the most famous robot in fintech is HSBC’s Pepper, a humanoid robot created by Softbank. HSBC has deployed Pepper at branches around the world and has been praised for boosting ATM transactions, increasing credit card applications, and more.

At last year’s FinovateFall event I caught up with HSBC’s Head of Innovation Jeremy Balkin, who discussed the bank’s traction with Pepper the robot.

In a world still struggling to collectively fight the virus while remaining socially distant, HSBC is leveraging technologies such as AI, wearables, and robotics to bring people together. The bank is using these enabling technologies to help promote financial inclusion, spur wealth creation, and support equality through language translation.

These goals may require heavy-lifting but the technologies we have are more-than capable for the tasks at hand. At FinovateFall this September, be sure to catch Balkin’s keynote address as he discusses HSBC’s efforts amidst the global health crisis.

FinovateFall will take place in a digital format– complete with live, remote networking– on September 14 through 18. Discounts are available so be sure to book today.

Photo by Erik Binggeser on Unsplash


PayPal touts QR codes for Venmo monetization strategy


Share PayPal is confident the rollout of its Venmo QR codes can help monetize the peer-to-peer payments network. During the company’s second-quarter earnings call, Daniel Schulman, PayPal CEO, said the QR code rollout will target merchants that consumers use daily, creating deeper customer relationships. “We are going to put aggressive marketing dollars behind this to …Read More

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RBC’s Rami Thabet, VP of digital product, to speak at Bank Innovation Build


Rami Thabet, vice president of digital product at Royal Bank of Canada, will speak at Bank Innovation Build, which will be presented in a fully digital format Sept. 9-10. He will take part in a panel titled “Executing new investments and quantifying innovation ROI.” 

“I’m looking forward Build,” Thabet said. “It’s always a pleasure coming together to share and learn about the exciting innovation and digital leadership in our industry.”

Thabet has worked at Toronto-based RBC, which has CA$1.52 trillion in assets ($1.09 trillion), for more than seven years. His past roles include vice president of mobile and senior product owner of mobile. Thabet’s leadership has helped the bank launch investing and student editions of the app. The bank’s digital assistant NOMI, meanwhile, offers insights, budgeting and automated savings. In March, the bank rolled out the ability to ask NOMI questions.

“We are in what we call ‘deep personalization’ and really rotating the experience fundamentally around the customers’ needs,” Thabet previously told Bank Innovation. “We don’t do personalization for personalization’s sake. We’ve seen examples where a line of text or label is changed and somebody calls it ‘personalization.’ Our aspirations were a lot higher.” 

Bank Innovation Build speakers come from Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, KeyBank, Brex, BlueVine and more.

Bank Innovation Build, which will take place Sept. 9-10 as a virtual experience, is a must-attend industry event for professionals overseeing financial technologies, product experiences and services. Other agenda items include changes in banking innovation operations and focus in the age of COVID-19, case studies on getting digital transformation back on track, and principles of design thinking implementation. This is an exclusive event for executives eager to learn about the latest innovations. Register here.


Fintech News Issue #277


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Wealth Management and Open Banking: Nutmeg Partners with TrueLayer


A partnership between Nutmeg and TrueLayer will bring the benefits of open banking to the U.K. wealth management business for the first time. The online investment platform announced that it will leverage TrueLayer’s financial APIs to enable its customers to make faster, more secure payments to their accounts online or from their mobile device.

“The payments industry is still dominated by card payments, but bank transfers are the best and fastest way to get money into a Nutmeg account and therefore into the market,” Nutmeg Chief Operating Officer Matt Gatrell said. Unfortunately, he explained, the lack of a quality user experience has made customer reluctant to use this option. “With this in mind,” Gatrell said, “Nutmeg has worked with TrueLayer to launch Open Banking payments for customers – reducing a lengthy user process to just a couple of taps.”

Courtesy of the new partnership, all users will need to do is login to their bank, and confirm the payment to their Nutmeg account to make additions to their investments. Nutmeg said this will enable investors to get their money into the market quicker, and boasts that it is the first wealth manager in the U.K. to offer this account funding option, which TrueLayer CEO and co-founder Francesco Simoneschi called “the killer use case for Open Banking.”

Simoneschi explained: “Simplifying and speeding up processes such as payments makes a tangible difference to consumers. It helps them to have much more control and choice with their finances. This is a fundamental goal of Open Banking and another step forward in its wider adoption.”

Nutmeg has bigger plans for leveraging Open Banking than just bank transfers. In a blog post at the company’s website, Nutmeg Product Manager Charlie Masters noted that open banking has helped incentivize the company’s integrations with companies like Yolt, Emma, and MoneyDashboard earlier this year. “We see these new financial products as a great opportunity to improve the customer experience,” Masters wrote.

Founded in 2011 and headquartered in London, U.K., Nutmeg has been a Finovate alum for more than eight years. With more than $153 million in funding raised, the company includes Goldman Sachs, Armada Investment AG, Convoy Global Holdings, Taipei Fubon Bank, and Pentech Ventures among its investors.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels


PayPal reports record Q2 as COVID leads shift to digital payments


PayPal Holdings Inc. reported record earnings during the second quarter as consumers and merchants rapidly embraced a shift towards digital payments amid massive retail shutdowns and a surge in remote, e-commerce purchases due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The San Jose, California-based company reported a 49% increase in adjusted earnings to $1.07 per share compared with the year-ago quarter.

Revenue increased 25% year-over-year to $5.26 billion.

“Simply put, our business has never been more relevant and important than it is today,” Dan Schulman, president and chief executive officer at PayPal, told analysts on the company’s quarterly conference call.

Total payment volume rose 30% to $222 billion in the quarter. Schulman said business during the quarter was so strong that it rivaled volumes usually seen during the Black Friday weekend through Cyber Monday.

PayPal reported a 137% year-over-year increase in net new active accounts to a record 21.3 million in the quarter, the most in its history.

PayPal reported 3.7 billion payment transactions, up 26% from a year ago.

The company reported 39.2 payment transactions per active account on a trailing 12-month basis, which was flat compared with year-ago figures.

The company reported that Venmo, its social payments unit, processed $37 billion in TPV, an increase of 52% from the year-ago period.

The company reinstated and raised its guidance for the third quarter and fiscal year, forecasting third-quarter revenue growth of 23% to 25%. Fiscal 2020 earnings per-share growth is expected to be about 25%, while revenue growth is expected in the range of 20% to 22%.


SmartAsset Expands Leadership Team; Hires Aniket Gune , Former Amazon Product Leader as Senior Vice President of Product Management


SmartAsset, an award-winning financial technology company that helps more than 65 million people each month make smart financial decisions, today announced the expansion of its executive leadership team with the hire of Aniket Gune as Senior Vice President of Product Management.

In his new role at SmartAsset, Gune will be responsible for building and executing a product strategy that pursues the company’s mission to empower people to make smart financial decisions and generate better financial outcomes, while further positioning the company as the web’s go-to resource for personal finance information and advice. Additionally, he and the product team will further elevate and deliver world-class experiences for consumers and financial advisors across SmartAsset’s vast product portfolio.

“Aniket is a recognized executive bringing a successful track-record of delivering best-in-class consumer experiences that has impacted the lives of tens of millions of consumers, while scaling business outcomes in multiples,” said Michael Carvin, CEO and co-founder of SmartAsset. “Given the tremendous growth that we’re experiencing across business units, he’s well positioned to help take SmartAsset to the next level. Aniket has built teams for scale, and has piloted company-wide scaled agile initiatives and launched multiple new businesses and products at both Audible / Amazon and American Express. We’re very excited to have Aniket join our leadership team.”

Prior to joining SmartAsset, Gune was a senior product leader and culture builder at Audible, an Amazon company. In his last role, Gune was the global head of the Audible product across Amazon.com and its brick-and-mortar retail stores. Previous to Audible, Gune launched social and referral platforms for American Express, and also led risk and information management analytics for small businesses. In 2013, Gune was selected as one of the Top 40 Brand Innovators to watch out for under the age of 40.

Gune serves on the board of Sri Sri Tattva USA, a global health and wellness brand and has been a meditation instructor with the Art of Living Foundation for more than a decade. He received a fellowship from the prestigious Socio-Technical Infrastructure for Electronic Transactions (STIET) Program and his Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan. Gune has called New York City his home since 2006 and lives with his wife on the Upper West Side.

  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times


Investors inject $400M into payments startups TransferWise and Remitly


Share It’s been a big week for startup funding in the payments space, with Remitly and TransferWise both announcing big funding rounds yesterday. TransferWise raised $319 million in a round that bumped the company’s valuation to $5 billion, according to a company release. The company drew a new investor, D1 Capital Partners, which led the …Read More

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FemTech Apps Like SocialMama Make a Difference This International Friendship Day


Today is International Friendship Day, yet since the pandemic hit investors have increasingly focused on women’s health. With mental stress and maternal pressure featuring prominently in 2020, there is no doubt that technology can help ease that burden. What’s more, investors see that opportunity. Over the past two years, femtech startups have made a splash with investors generating over $300 million in funding.

New app SocialMama continues the trend, it has a focus on not only solving the problem of parent isolation, and includes in-app support from women’s health professionals inside the product as well.

In the wake of coronavirus, 74% of U.S. mothers say they feel mentally worse since the pandemic began, according to a survey by motherhood lifestyle brand Motherly. SocialMama will use technology that matches mothers together using machine learning, location & unique identifiers for friendship & support exists to lower these statistics.

“Everyone is socially isolated at the moment, in turn making mothers feel even more lonely and overwhelmed than before the pandemic hit but by pivoting our offline events and friendship facilitating to an online format, SocialMama is creating a safe space for mothers to find support and lower mental stress, while still remaining safe in today’s climate,” said Amanda Ducach, CEO of SocialMama.

The app often hosts events (now online) & chatting opportunities for women to connect and form friendships. On July 30th, in celebration of International Friendship Day, the app will be hosting a “mommy chat” event, where women can log-on and chat together in real-time, share experiences together as a global community, and hopefully, meet a new best friend.

SocialMama is doing its part to give back to the mom community with their newly launched expert program, released in April as a direct result of conversations that moms were having on the app when the pandemic hit. Women were suddenly giving birth without support partners, finding their IVF treatments cancelled, applying for unemployment without financial advisors, learning to homeschool their children, and more.

The Expert Program is a free resource that educates and supports moms around maternal health and mental stress by having world-class experts (ranging from family medicine to financial advisors) live on the app to chat with them one-on-one, host virtual events, and curate content.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.


Circle Lands $25 Million, Partners with Digital Asset Brokerage Firm Genesis


Blockchain-based money transfer platform Circle is making double headlines today. The U.S.-based company not only landed $25 million in funding, it also partnered with Genesis, an institutional trading firm offering two-sided liquidity for digital currency, including bitcoin.

Genesis parent company Digital Currency Group is the investor behind the $25 million. The investment is Circle’s first since August of 2018 and brings the company’s total funding to $271 million.

“Circle has been a pioneer in the digital currency market, building innovative products and services, and has consistently provided our industry with leadership on technology, standards, and regulatory policy,” said Genesis CEO Michael Moro. “With the rapid rise of USDC, we are clearly seeing mainstream momentum for digital currencies, and through this partnership with Circle we believe we can materially advance our shared mission of building a new global financial system.”

Circle will use the new funding to accelerate the adoption of USDC, a digital dollar stablecoin issued by regulated FIs, backed by fully reserved assets, governed by membership-based consortium Centre, and redeemable on a 1:1 basis for U.S. dollars. USDC has been gaining traction this year; earlier this month the cryptocurrency’s market capitalization crossed the $1 billion mark.

The investment will also provide a boost for Circle’s new Business Account and API products that the company launched earlier this year. These new services offer financial services companies a suite of APIs for USDC payments, facilitating the use of USDC in e-commerce, on-demand delivery marketplaces, digital gaming, internet services, P2P digital wallets, exchanges, B2B payments, challenger banks, trade finance, and digital asset lending and yield products.

“The partnership announced today between Circle and Genesis will bring to market solutions for businesses and developers who are seeking to generate strong positive yield from their own or customer USDC holdings, and access to USDC-based credit for businesses and merchants that are using USDC for treasury operations and business payments,” said Circle’s Josh Hawkins in a blog post announcement.

Digital Currency Group, which describes itself as the “epicenter of the bitcoin and blockchain industry,” has made 180 investments since it was founded in 2011. Digital Currency Asset Manager Grayscale and crypto news organization Coindesk are also Digital Currency Group’s subsidiaries.

Photo by Timothy Paul Smith on Unsplash


Bank of England taps Accenture for RTGS overhaul


The Bank of England has named Accenture as the technology partner on the 150 million British pound [$196 million] renewal of the country’s Real-Time Gross Settlement service, a move designed to overhaul the country’s payments infrastructure.

RTGS is the backbone of the U.K.’s payments industry, settling an average of 685 billion pounds [$893 billion] per working day. The overhaul is designed to create a more resilient, secure system with greater interoperability and user functionality. The new system is scheduled to go into effect by 2022.

“This is a key milestone in our ambitious and exciting program to renew RTGS,” Victoria Cleland, executive director for banking, payments and innovation at the Bank of England, said in a release from the agency. “I look forward to working with Accenture, and with the industry, to develop and deliver a system that is fit for the future, supporting continued innovation in (the) U.K. and global payments.”

Sulabh Agarwal, a managing director at Accenture who leads the global payments practice, said the agreement will allow the Bank of England to enhance its critical infrastructure in one of the most important developments in the country’s payments industry.

“The rise of digital and instant payments in recent years has dramatically changed the way we pay reflecting changes in the needs of households and companies,” he said. “The renewed system will enable financial institutions to access a more modern and secure payments platform which is fit for the future.”