PayPal Gets in on the Buy Now, Pay Later Game

https://finovate.com/paypal-gets-in-on-the-buy-now-pay-later-game/

The buy now, pay later (BNPL) trend has been accelerating since the beginning of this year, and today PayPal announced plans to get in on the action.

The payments giant is releasing Pay in 4, a short-term payments installment product for U.S. customers. When consumers opt to use Pay in 4, merchants receive payment upfront, and the buyer pays for the purchase over the course of a six week period. PayPal takes on the credit risk.

Consumers can use Pay in 4 for transactions between $30 and $600. Purchases do not incur interest and buyers can set up automatic repayments. Additionally, there are no fees for the buyer or the merchant.

“In today’s challenging retail and economic environment, merchants are looking for trusted ways to help drive average order values and conversion, without taking on additional costs. At the same time, consumers are looking for more flexible and responsible ways to pay, especially online,” said Doug Bland, SVP of Global Credit at PayPal. “With Pay in 4, we’re building on our history as the originator in the buy now, pay later space, coupled with PayPal’s trust and ubiquity, to enable a responsible and flexible way for consumers to shop while providing merchants with a tool that helps drive sales, loyalty and customer choice.”

Today’s release is the newest in PayPal’s line of Pay Later tools. The company’s other financing options include PayPal Credit, a line of credit with built-in promotional offers, Easy Payments, a BNPL service available in the U.S. and U.K. PayPal also offers Pay Later tools across the globe in Germany, France, Australia, Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands.

After the BNPL trend began burgeoning earlier this year, PayPal has joined the likes of Affirm, Sezzle, Klarna, and even Goldman Sachs, as well as a handful of others in offering BNPL options to online shoppers. The popularity of these services is attributed to an uptick in unemployment brought on by COVID-19. Not only are consumers making less money, some have maxed out their credit cards and are seeking alternative ways to keep afloat.

Pay in 4 will be available in the 4th quarter of this year.

https://finovate.com/paypal-gets-in-on-the-buy-now-pay-later-game/

5 Questions With Chase CIO Rohan Amin

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/retail/5-questions-with-chase-cio-rohan-amin/

Share In this monthly Q&A segment, Bank Innovation directs five questions to executives and industry thought leaders who highlight technology and innovation trends in financial services, exploring strategy and best practices in leading financial institutions. Even with the backdrop of economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, “there has never been a more exciting time …Read More

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https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/retail/5-questions-with-chase-cio-rohan-amin/

NerdWallet acquires Know Your Money

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/nerdwallet-acquires-know-your-money/

American personal finance outfit, NerdWallet, acquired U.K comparison site, Know Your Money. Financial terms were not disclosed but Know your Money will now become a NerdWallet subsidiary, but it will retain its staff.

Know Your Money has a 15-year UK history in the price comparison market, helping users find the deals on mortgages, loans and business bank accounts, according to a report in Finextra.

“Recently, the volatility of the stock market, unemployment, and plunging interest rates have consumers facing financial challenges they’ve never dealt with before and searching for content and products to help them navigate their new normal,” Tim Chen, CEO, NerdWallet, said in the report. “Because of this, there has never been a better time to expand the reach of our financial guidance and grow our business, and there is no better place to start than the UK.”

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/nerdwallet-acquires-know-your-money/

BBVA launches gender-neutral customer service chatbot

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/bbva-launches-gender-neutral-customer-service-chatbot/

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentina has taken a steps to eliminate gender bias in business by deliberately building and launching a gender-neutral chatbot, known as “Blue” to answer customers’ questions about BBVA’s financial services.

By creating Blue, the bank hopes to unite the multiple virtual assistants employed across its network and avoid unjustified social stereotypes, According to a report in Finextra. Blue doesn’t identify itself as human or as a robot, which was the ultimate goal for the design team.

“The reason we chose not to assign Blue a gender is when we defining its personality, we were clear that it was non-human,” BBVA design manager, Julián García Ruiz said in the report. “Being able to reflect Blue’s non-human nature while creating a balance between inclusive language and the need for clarity and space limitations helped us hone the uniqueness of our assistant.”

The task of creating Blue fell to Ruiz and 12 designers, six product owners, three program managers, and 20 developers across BBVA’s global network. The project took almost two years to complete. The chatbot is operational in Spain and Mexico, but will be gradually be introduced across all branches and online channels.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/bbva-launches-gender-neutral-customer-service-chatbot/

Global fintech platform Nium receives UK EMI License

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/global-fintech-platform-nium-receives-uk-emi-license/

Nium, a global financial technology platform, has received its UK Electronic Money Institution license from the Financial Conduct Authority, giving it the ability to issue e-money and provide cross-border digital paymentsin the UK.

As an authorized EMI, Nium can provide UK customers end-to-end B2B and B2C financial products and services, store or issue currency for digital wallets, conduct real-time transfer of funds or send money to beneficiaries globally and unlock frictionless payments through API tools and turnkey infrastructure, according to a press release.

“As our European EMI license will not allow us to continue serving our clients in the UK after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31, 2020, this is an important step towards maintaining continuity. With the UK EMI, license customers in the country will be able to continue tapping on our Open Money Network to offer financial services, enter new markets, expand across the globe, generate new revenue, and enhance customer satisfaction,” Nium’s co-Founder and CEO, Prajit Nanu, said in the release.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/global-fintech-platform-nium-receives-uk-emi-license/

Pay in 4 offers PayPal customers installment plan without interest

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/pay-in-4-offers-paypal-customers-installment-plan-without-interest/

PayPal is adding a new payment solution, Pay in 4, to its Pay Later suite of products.

Pay in 4 gives customers purchasing merchandise between $30 and $600 with PayPal to pay in four installments without accruing additional fees or interest, according to a press release.

The installment plan first pays the merchant and partner upfront, and then gives the customer a six-week period to pay for the merchandise in four no-interest and no fee installment payments. The Pay 4 plan appears in the customer’s PayPal wallet, giving them the option to manage their payments through the PayPal app.

“In today’s challenging retail and economic environment, merchants are looking for trusted ways to help drive average order values and conversion, without taking on additional costs. At the same time, consumers are looking for more flexible and responsible ways to pay, especially online,” Doug Bland, SVP global credit at PayPal said in the release. “With Pay in 4, we’re building on our history as the originator in the buy now, pay later space, coupled with PayPal’s trust and ubiquity, to enable a responsible and flexible way for consumers to shop while providing merchants with a tool that helps drive sales, loyalty and customer choice.”

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/pay-in-4-offers-paypal-customers-installment-plan-without-interest/

Qatar’s C Wallet Services Secures Over $500,000 in Funding

https://thefintechtimes.com/qatars-c-wallet-services-secures-over-500000-in-funding/

Qatar-based financial technology startup, C Wallet Services, has successfully secured more than $500,000 in grants and funding in its first year. Having created Qatar’s first and only mobile application running on blockchain technology, it has been licensed by the Qatar Financial Center (QFC) as C Wallet International, and is now available at both the App Store and Google PlayStore with the ‘Payment’ function. 

The brainchild of Michael Javier and his six Qatari partners, the innovative C Wallet app was brought to life under the guidance of the Digital Incubation Center (DIC), an initiative by the Ministry of Transport and Communications’to boost ICT innovation in Qatar, specifically with young people in technology-related businesses.

C Wallet targets the low-income, high-volume market such as migrant and domestic workers, as well as micro-entrepreneurs, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), giving them access to financial services such as payroll and payments. According to its website, their vision is to become a premier fintech influencer creating loyal fans in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Asian region by providing services beyond digital wallets, remittance and payment solution in building a cashless society for all sectors including the bottom of the pyramid but not limited to unstable societies, unjust governments and even refugee camps in order to create jobs and micro entrepreneurs within the business ecosystem.

C Wallet’s founder, Michael Javier, while speaking at the Qatar Science and Technology Product Development fund signing ceremony, said, “Our goal is to financially empower those who are unbanked by providing a cheaper, more inclusive and cashless solution.” Mr Javier confirms that C Wallet 2.0 will be launched by Q3 2020 to enable users to directly buy and pay online using their C Wallet account. ‘Payroll’ and ‘Remittance’ services will be added thereafter.

Thanks to the new technology, individuals and businesses will be able to perform local and international financial transactions online, including paying and receiving wages and sending remittances to their home countries. Available in 9 different languages, C Wallet also succeeds in overcoming the communication challenges often faced by customers in the targeted markets.

Beyond 2020, the innovative startup is looking even further ahead, as it plans for growth and expansion well beyond Qatar’s borders. The establishment of C Wallet International aims to pursue opportunities in micro-financing and lending, white labelling its C Wallet blockchain technology, and seeking out affiliate partnerships, ensuring that this homegrown technology takes financial freedom and digital empowerment to underserved markets around the world.

Companies that have been developed in Qatar such as C Wallet as examples of innovations happening as part of the nation’s wider economic development transformation. Qatar’s National Vision aims that – by 2030 – Qatar becomes an advanced society capable of sustaining its development and providing a high standard of living for its people. Qatar’s National Vision defines the long-term goals for the country and provides a framework in which national strategies and implementation plans can be developed, according to its website.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

https://thefintechtimes.com/qatars-c-wallet-services-secures-over-500000-in-funding/

How credit card rewards can rebuild consumer loyalty in the age of Amazon

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/resources/sponsored/how-credit-card-rewards-can-rebuild-consumer-loyalty-in-the-age-of-amazon/

From copper coins to custom stamps, loyalty programs have been around for hundreds of years. Everyone from mom-and-pop shops to big retailers have used these programs to attract and retain customers to organically grow their business.

Recently, however, these direct interactions between merchants and consumers have dwindled. While credit card companies began offering rewards programs in the 1980s that bolstered loyalty, today’s internet aggregators present a new kind of challenge.

Online Aggregators Pose a Loyalty Threat

When customers shop for soap on Amazon or order Chinese food from DoorDash, they’re not just comparing brands or restaurants. One delivery study found that “money, time, and convenience…and in that order” influence consumer purchasing preferences.

By featuring purchase price and delivery time as prominently as the vendors themselves, aggregators drive a wedge between merchants and consumers. Many merchants feel that restoring direct interaction can revive loyalty, presenting an opportunity for credit card companies to play a bigger part in the customer journey.

Enabling Merchants to Customize Rewards

 Today’s technology makes it possible to scale rewards beyond just a few big airlines and department stores. A platform designed for merchants of any size can enable credit card networks or card-issuing banks to launch hundreds of rewards partnerships quickly.

Consider a two-sided network like PayPal with millions of merchants and customers. Merchants can create their own rewards and loyalty programs, and PayPal enables customers to easily access them and make purchases.

Credit card companies are starting to do the same for their merchants and cardholders. The value is simple: Provide qualified merchants with the ability to engage their customers with a digital rewards platform, and increase customer loyalty and card usage.

Leveraging Transactions to Connect with Customers

 Beyond the platform itself, credit card purchases are all encoded with valuable data, providing an opportunity for targeted rewards and offers. First-time purchase with a merchant? A text message from the credit card company can confirm the transaction and offer additional rewards at that store. If they become a frequent customer, accumulative rewards encourage and maintain this loyalty.

Payment providers can also engage in some aggregation of their own with apps that suggest in-network vendors based on a customer’s search. For instance, Square helps customers decide where to eat and shop by providing a shortlist of available discounts and offers, reinforcing in-network purchases.

Reclaiming the Relationship

 At Kunai, we’ve seen firsthand how loyalty can be rekindled through self-service platforms that enable approved merchants to set up and configure their own rewards programs. What used to take numerous departments several months to launch can go live in a few short weeks.

As we continue to help our clients explore new opportunities, we believe banks have got to start helping their merchant partners engage customers directly, and, in turn, propel the kinds of stickiness both merchants and banks need to compete with aggregators.

– Sandeep Sood

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/resources/sponsored/how-credit-card-rewards-can-rebuild-consumer-loyalty-in-the-age-of-amazon/

Moneyhub Extends Open Finance Coverage in Ireland

https://thefintechtimes.com/moneyhub-extends-open-finance-coverage-in-ireland/
  • Moneyhub connects with additional Irish banks as part of its continuing expansion plans

  • Moneyhub’s unique data, intelligence, and payments APIs unlock growth and innovation opportunities for Irish and other European businesses alike – The move sets pace for the industry to broaden the scope of Open Banking

Market leading Open Finance data and intelligence platform Moneyhub has expanded its solutions in Ireland as part of its digital journey to further develop across Europe and other regions. Enabling Irish alongside other European businesses to seize the growth and innovation opportunities offered by off-the shelf white label solutions and API access from major banks and financial services providers. Moneyhub is continuing to extend its Irish connections suite for business and personal accounts with additional providers including Allied Irish Bank (AIB), Bank of Ireland, First Trust, and Ulster Bank as part of its Open Finance connectivity platform.

Providing businesses and consumers access to previously inaccessible financial data in one centralised location while also initiating account-to-account payments, Moneyhub unlocks the power and potential beyond Open Banking. Moneyhub is currently the only provider which facilitates seamless integrations with not just banks but the widest breadth of financial institutions including pensions, investments, loans, mortgages, savings, property values, and of course bank accounts and credit cards, setting the standard for the Open Finance ecosystem.

As a result of Moneyhub’s expansion of its proposition, businesses across Ireland can now benefit from Open Finance Data Aggregation, Data Enrichment, Categorisation, Analytics and Actionable Insights. Providing a holistic view on consumers’ financial data is the foundation of true customer understanding. Powerful analytics and smart, actionable insights allow businesses to deliver unique hyper-personalised experiences based on customers’ unique financial habits and needs.

At a time when every penny counts, Moneyhub is proud to deliver continued value to its API clients by increasing its available connections to Ireland, ensuring businesses can take full advantage of the platform’s ability to initiate account-to-account payments at a fraction of the cost of traditional card-based payment methods.

Sam Seaton, CEO of Moneyhub commented: ‘Building on our established Open Finance reputation in the UK, we are proud to be further strengthening our Irish proposition, helping business transform and grow at a time when they’re under real pressure. With Moneyhub’s development continuing to flourish throughout 2020, we look forward to expanding our solutions throughout other key markets to align with the needs of our current and future clients. Open Finance is changing the financial landscape before our very eyes, and we are hugely excited to be expanding the frontier.”

  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

https://thefintechtimes.com/moneyhub-extends-open-finance-coverage-in-ireland/

Crowdfund Launched by Crypto Start-up to Bring Bitcoin Market To New Investors

https://thefintechtimes.com/crowdfund-launched-by-crypto-start-up-to-bring-bitcoin-market-to-new-investors/
  • Zumo’s first crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs goes live – Campaign offers chance to invest in a UK cryptocurrency start-up as Bitcoin tops $11000

  • Zumo plans Series A funding round for Q4 2020 having secured significant investment from institutional and private investors. – Launch video shows how users of the Zumo App can easily buy, sell, spend and send cryptocurrencies

Zumo, the Edinburgh-based cryptocurrency wallet and exchange platform, has today announced the launch of its first crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs in its bid to bring the benefits of cryptocurrencies to the mass market.

The campaign is now live and accessible via the Seedrs website. It allows users of the Zumo app and new investors the chance to sign up to own part of the Scottish cryptocurrency start-up.

Nick Jones, founder of Zumo, said: “We are so excited to hit the red button on our first crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs.

“It’s the perfect example of what we set out to do with Zumo – sharing the benefits of investing in cryptocurrencies with everyone in our bid to create a better, more equal global financial system.”

The announcement follows a recent string of milestones for Zumo as the global cryptocurrency market heats up amid renewed mainstream interest.

Earlier this month, Zumo activated the sterling (GBP) exchange function on its digital wallet available on the Zumo app, thanks to its recent partnership with digital payments scale-up Modulr.

For most people in the UK, the introduction of a GBP exchange function to the Zumo app will be the first time they can easily buy, sell, spend and send Bitcoin and Ether without the complexity of most crypto exchanges.

A launch video made for the crowdfunding campaign demonstrates how the Zumo app can be used for everyday activities – from buying a coffee to sending and receiving funds from friends.

In the wider industry, Square, the mobile payments platform launched by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, reported a 600% increase in its quarterly Bitcoin revenues as the value of the cryptocurrency topped a seventy per cent rise in the space of a year.

Elsewhere, The Daily Telegraph reported that a major fund manager was anticipating a fivefold increase in the value of Bitcoin by 2023 to around $40,000 to $50,000, having now overcome an initial “credibility hump”.

Zumo has recently secured a £500,000 investment from institutional investors Ilya Fund, adding to recent wins with Murray Capital’s David Murray and Coldplay musician Guy Berryman.

The start-up plans to use the crowdfund as a springboard to a Series A funding round in the autumn, and capitalise on the over 1.1 million new cryptocurrency wallets, like those held on the Zumo App, that have been created in the UK in the past year alone.

Access to the Zumo crowdfunding campaign is available now and can be accessed by everyone via the Seedrs website.

  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

https://thefintechtimes.com/crowdfund-launched-by-crypto-start-up-to-bring-bitcoin-market-to-new-investors/

What auditioning for the role of an OCD Germaphobe taught me about Digital Cooperatives

https://dailyfintech.com/2020/08/31/what-auditioning-for-the-role-of-an-ocd-germaphobe-taught-me-about-digital-cooperatives/

lexi-ruskell-G8wPrJyNqWQ-unsplash

Before a recent trip to London, a kind person who knows me well suggested that I stay safe in coronatimes by auditioning for the role of an OCD Germaphobe.

This led me to break the habit of a lifetime of relying on the Tube/London Underground to get around.

So I was more reliant on taxis on this visit to London. I had never got the Uber habit. So I decided to make a research project out of my personal needs. I look at Lyft and it looked like it was almost exactly the same as Uber. I like the black cabs but wanted an app to get me one, not just hoping for an available light cruising by.

So I booked via Gett App. It was a good experience. The app worked like any other geolocation booking app. The taxi was a modern electric black cab – clean and quiet and good for the planet. I asked the driver what he thought and he said OK but the 20% commission was a bit high. They may even take 20% of the tip. I asked about alternatives. He mentioned Hailo with a 15% commission (which seems to be struggling). I asked what he would really like customers to use. He mentioned Taxiapp which is a Cooperative owned by the drivers ie zero commission.

Winning in the marketplace is hard as ventures like Maaxi show us; plenty of capital, great concept, lousy traction in the real world. I believe that we all need to be producers before we are consumers – in order to spend money as consumers – but I understand that most of us simply think about how we spend our money and not how the person  serving us makes money. So maybe Uber wins and black cabs and cooperatives fall into the dustbin of history.

I hope not. I have been a fan of “digital cooperatives” since articulating the concept here. I have found use cases in food delivery and dentists. Now I can add taxis to this list of use cases.

https://dailyfintech.com/2020/08/31/what-auditioning-for-the-role-of-an-ocd-germaphobe-taught-me-about-digital-cooperatives/

The future is being built on top of crypto wallets

https://dailyfintech.com/2020/08/31/crypto-built-on-top-crypto-wallets/

1_tUXj-NmyHpFqkBWMxmKEUQ.png

I am sure some of you remember the browser wars. The browser wars referred to a period of intense competition between Netscape and Microsoft over which web browser would dominate the market. They started in the mid-90s, when the world was just starting to come online. A lot was at stake, as the company which controlled this browser could have a huge influence over its users. Search engines would bid to be the default search tool in the browser, while other companies would bid to be listed in the default set of preinstalled bookmarks that came with the browser. The browser was and still is a powerful gateway to the digital world. Fast forward 25 years later, crypto wallets are the new gate keepers to the future services. Crypto wallets as more than applications on a phone that hold your cryptocurrencies. They are future ecosystems that enable access to a variety of services that include wealth management, trading, insurance and payments, identity and social media.

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

Today’s crypto wallets have a huge range of capabilities, but the general idea of a crypto wallet is pretty simple. Basically, a crypto wallet stores the keys and addresses of wallets that live in the blockchains underlying each cryptocurrency.

According to a recent report by Apptoppia, a record 3.5 million downloads of crypto wallet apps was recorded in July 2020, an 81% increase from the same period last year. In addition, the number of active users increased by 110% between January 1 and August 19, 2020. In the earlier 12 months, downloads averaged just below two million, with May and June being the only time this mark crossed. The increase in downloads of crypto apps is seen just after countries started to impose lockdown measures in the wake of Covid-19.

The number of people using blockchain-based wallets is roughly doubling each year, which closely mimics the early growth of the Internet. The chart below show the adoption rate of crypto wallets, compared to the adoption rate of the Internet. For now the the curves are similar. if the current trends continue there could be a million crypto wallet users by 2030.

Screen Shot 2020-08-31 at 02.16.36

The number of Blockchain wallets has been growing since the creation of the Bitcoin virtual currency in 2009, reaching over 50 million blockchain wallet users at the end of June 2020.

arizent.brightspotcdn.png

But as cryptocurrencies are gaining mainstream adoption and are being used by the general public, a new war is unfolding. Crypto wallets could end up being at least as important as the browser was for the web.

A dozen or so companies, from Coinbase and Binance to smaller startups are competing for market share in the growing crypto ecosystem. Coinbase, MetaMask, Brave are working on new and improved wallets.

Crypto’s wallet makers are in position to define the gateways to the decentralized web. The next stage for wallets will be to perform crucial functions with the ability to surf a directory of dApps, buy and sell tokens, manage collectibles pay for things, verify identity and log onto social media sites, without ever leaving the app.

Many multinationals like MasterCard, Bank of America and Rakuten have set out to develop cryptocurrency wallets, to take advantage of growing market opportunities. Already, huge smartphone manufacturers have moved into position. Samsung, HTC and several other startups have introduced smartphones with cryptocurrency wallets.

However, the increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies has also led to increasing security threats, driving an important need for secure solutions to store and transfer digital assets. New generation of wallets, like Argent try to hide the complexity from the end user, yet provide a simple non-custodial user experiences.  

We’re at an early stage now, one that is not well-defined, but crypto wallets represent the next stage in the battle of dominance, one that is far greater than a browser or a phone operating system.

As crypto wallets morph into digital wallets, they will become an important step in the evolution of banking products and value transfers, making transactions and exchanges simple and seamless. They will also provide access for managing and trading non-financial assets as well. They may even control and manage your data on social networks like Linkedin and Facebook, your emails on Gmail, your purchases on Amazon and the photos you’ve shared on Snapchat and Instagram.

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https://dailyfintech.com/2020/08/31/crypto-built-on-top-crypto-wallets/

More Young Women in Africa Are Turning to Bitcoin Amidst COVID-19

https://thefintechtimes.com/more-young-women-in-africa-are-turning-to-bitcoin-amidst-covid-19/

The coronavirus has strained the global economy and put millions of people under financial stress. Understandably, people from all walks of life started looking for alternative income streams. In the African continent, this has migrated much of daily life as digital as possible. In honour of Women’s Month this August, Paxful, a global peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace, is shining a spotlight on women who have started successful side hustles powered by bitcoin.

Paxful, co-founded in 2015 by Ray Youssef and Artur Schaback, is a people-powered marketplace for money transfers with anyone, anywhere, at any time. It has over 4.5 million users globally who you can instantly buy and sell bitcoin with—using over 300 different payment methods.  . Their mission is to empower the forgotten four billion unbanked and underbanked around the world to have control of their money using peer-to-peer transactions. Paxful, a part of their missions, also launched #BuiltWithBitcoin, a social good initiative with the goal of building 100 schools funded entirely by bitcoin all across emerging markets.

Not only are these side jobs providing women with additional income, they are also giving individuals an opportunity to develop new skills in the bitcoin and blockchain space. Blockchain skills are in high demand internationally and may unlock new career opportunities or set the ground for running a successful business in the future.

Beyond speculative activities, bitcoin already drives a whole range of entrepreneurial ventures including arbitrageremittance, e-commerce and educational projects, to name a few. Paxful is committed to encouraging more women to consider pursuing opportunities in bitcoin and blockchain; the company has rolled out a number of educational programs globally to educate more people about the crypto industry.

Tugba Abadan is Paxful’s newly appointed Head of Middle East and Africa

Tugba Abadan is Paxful’s newly appointed Head of Middle East and Africa

Tugba Abadan, Paxful’s newly appointed Head of Middle East and Africa IMAGE SOURCE PROVIDED

report released by CoinMarketCap in April revealed that the number of women in the cryptocurrency industry increased by 43.24% in the first quarter of 2020. In addition, a study published in December 2019 by Bitcoin (BTC) fund operator, Grayscale, showed that 43% of investors interested in Bitcoin are women (13% up from 2018), with the number actively growing. Tugba Abadan, the newly appointed Head of Middle East and Africa at Paxful, says, “Our sector can still do better to attract more female blockchain professionals and entrepreneurs. At Paxful, nearly 40% of our global workforce is female and we continuously keep our eyes out for more female collaborators, community builders and problem solvers. We’re very excited to see how the number of trades on Paxful from South African users have grown by more than 36% in Q2 of this year. Blockchain technology has created a new frontier for the global economy, and I believe that the industry offers plenty of opportunities to achieve greater economic independence.”

Usage of the Paxful platform is soaring, and the company has also witnessed a steady increase in the number of women participating in its entrepreneurship program, the Paxful Peer Program. The program helps crypto enthusiasts become their own bosses, and women have been topping the list of best performers since it’s launch in November 2019.

Yvonne Kagondu, Community Coordinator in Kenya at Paxful, says, “It’s not easy to be a young African at the moment. Unfortunately, many of us suffer the consequences of high levels of unemployment and poverty. It’s very important to be on the lookout for as many opportunities as possible and find one that suits you best. I found blockchain technology intriguing and decided to focus on bitcoin, which eventually led me to mentoring other young female professionals and fellow small business owners. I feel so fortunate to be able to help and inspire fellow Africans to take control of their finances through bitcoin.”

Paxful’s Peer Program participant Nkhensani Nyalungu is a Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Johannesburg. She shares her experience with the program by saying, “I had never considered setting up a tech-related business until I learnt more about the opportunities in the blockchain industry. Once I became familiar with the technology, it was quite easy to dive into the crypto world. I am extremely passionate about educating my peers about the crypto-economy, as I feel I’m carving the path towards economic freedom for our communities.”

Victoria Chauke, a student at Johannesburg’s Wits University, used to work as a part-time promoter before she started her bitcoin side-hustle to earn some extra cash, says, “Trading bitcoin was a better option for me as I could learn on the go; it’s much more flexible as I can make money while at home, in-between classes or while busy with other commitments. I believe we need a lot more women in the bitcoin community. From my experience, I think we can operate as effectively as men, if not better, in the blockchain ecosystem”.

According to a study, an estimated one in three working South Africans have a side job to bring in extra income. The COVID-19 lockdown has put millions of people under challenging circumstances as they faced losses of jobs and income opportunities. The pandemic pushed people to look for alternative income sources, so the interest in crypto and bitcoin entrepreneurship grew rapidly, which Paxful confirms as the number of platform users skyrocketed since the beginning of 2020. As contactless payments are encouraged, people are opting for non-cash in-person trades using bitcoin.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

https://thefintechtimes.com/more-young-women-in-africa-are-turning-to-bitcoin-amidst-covid-19/

Bringing a Digital Banking Revolution in Mauritania

https://thefintechtimes.com/bringing-a-digital-banking-revolution-in-mauritania/

One of the leading banks in Mauritania, Banque Populaire de Mauritanie (BPM), has launched a state-of-the-art mobile banking service called Bankily earlier this year. The service has received a positive response from consumers. With banking penetration around 30%, Bankily is helping to modernise banking and payments in Mauritania and encouraging financial inclusion in the country. It, in essence, is bringing a digital revolution in the banking industry of Mauritania by enabling people to open and manage bank account, transfer money and make payments using mobile phones. 

Bankily is an inclusive service. Bankily users can not only transfer money to other Bankily users, BPM bank accounts and other bank accounts in Mauritania, but they can also send money to non-Bankily unbanked consumers using the recipient’s mobile number. Bankily offers diverse ways to make money transfer – using recipient’s mobile number, or selecting recipient from Facebook contact list, or via contactless payments using NFC and QR Code.  The recipients receive a notification or message with a transaction code. Non-Bankily users can withdraw the money transfer in cash using the transaction code at Bankily agents, BPM bank branches or BPM ATMs.

Bankily has been designed with complete focus on customers. For example, after first electricity and water bill payment, users are automatically notified about their next invoice. In case of financial emergency, users can request money from their family and friends and instantly receive money once approved by the sender. To enable wider service access, BPM has created extensive Bankily agent network aimed at facilitating last mile transactions such as deposits and withdrawals. Moreover, to boost digital payments at merchants via Bankily, BPM has registered multiple merchants from diverse categories such as supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, fuel stations, travel agencies, hospitals, schools and restaurants. Payments at merchants can be made by scanning the QR Code or entering the merchant code in the mobile phone.

Mohamed M’Rabih Rabou, Chief, Digital Banking Services at Banque Populaire de Mauritanie, said, “Through Bankily, BPM aims to extend financial inclusion and banking penetration in Mauritania. The product aims to make the opening of a bank account accessible to all Mauritanian citizens regardless of their geographic location and purchasing power. This mobile banking service, fully supports the measures undertaken by the Central Bank of Mauritania to modernisation and digitize the means of payments in the country. We are happy to partner with Comviva for offering Bankily service and meet the financial aspirations of our customers.”

Srinivas Nidugondi, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Mobile Financial Solutions, Comviva said, “Digital technology is transforming the banking industry and Comviva is enabling this transformation for banks and financial institutions globally. In Mauritania, we are carrying forward this digital revolution with BPM through the Bankily service, delivering quick, convenient and secure digital banking and payment services to Mauritanians.”

BPM offers individuals, professionals and businesses an innovative range of banking products and services ranging from deposits to loans. It has built a dense network of branches covering most of the major cities in the country. The BPM aims to meet the needs and expectations of its customers by offering innovative and quality banking products and services.

Comviva’s mobiquity® Banking suite, trademarked in India only, is a comprehensive digital banking and payments solution for banks and financial institutions, to build, manage, optimise and deliver the omni-channel banking experience, as well as continuously iterate and engage the consumers, through instant configuration capability, personalisation and experimentation engine. This empowers banks to deliver a hyper-personalised experience, thereby enhancing the customer’s value, and, subsequently, profitably transition to the digital age. Moreover, the product also delivers seamless, swift and secure digital payments to the customers, by facilitating prepaid wallet and leveraging technologies such as HCE, tokenisation and QR Code.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

https://thefintechtimes.com/bringing-a-digital-banking-revolution-in-mauritania/

Crypto Payments: The Path To Becoming an Everyday Reality

https://thefintechtimes.com/crypto-trading-and-the-need-for-regulated-exchanges/

Cryptocurrencies have gained attention in recent years, especially due to the pandemic. More and more people, institutions, and even governments are joining in the conversation as time goes by. In this article, Konstantin Anissimov, Executive Director at CEX.IO, delves a little deeper into the world of crypto payments and asks just when we might see them as an everyday reality. 

In a little more than a decade, cryptos went from being completely unknown to being a hot topic in nearly every country around the world. New discoveries lead to a new interest, which once again, leads to investing and popularity of digital coins. 

Nevertheless, while cryptos did become a very popular alternative to traditional payment methods, they still seem to be far away from being used in everyday life. 

Why is that? Why can’t we just go to the store or a cafe and use them to pay for goods and services, even now, in the mid-2020?

The conditions are not right yet

The biggest reason why cryptocurrencies are still far from being used in such a way is the fact that physical conditions are not adequate enough. In other words, if we were to use cryptos in such a way, we would need a completely new, crypto-friendly payment ecosystem. 

Such an ecosystem, however, still doesn’t exist. We are starting to see its beginnings, but the final product, necessary for cryptos to be used as easily as fiat currencies, is still some time away.

What is preventing the ecosystem from being created?

Actually, there is an entire list of reasons why cryptos haven’t seen the creation of such an ecosystem yet. For example, the crypto industry still remains largely unregulated or poorly regulated. Their legal status differs from country to country. For example, in Japan, crypto can be used freely in a variety of ways, but in China — just across a small body of water — even possessing crypto is barely allowed. The regulation within each country is also turbulent which leads to a weariness of accepting and utilising cryptocurrencies due to the lack of stability and increased regulatory risk. 

In the US, only a handful of cryptos are actually considered real cryptocurrencies, while the US SEC considers many of them to be securities. 

This is because most cryptos are not in compliance with the standing regulations, and the fact that the cryptocurrencies, as well as the underlying technologies (proof of stake, DeFi, etc.), are constantly changing and evolving makes it harder for the regulators to agree on crypto-specific regulations. And without a clear regulatory framework, compliance is very challenging.

Without compliance, traditional financial environment — central and commercial banks, major payment systems, and alike — find it very hard, if not impossible, to deal with the crypto industry. 

This is a problem, as their participation is necessary for the creation of an ecosystem, and without the traditional financial institutions like banks becoming fully acceptive of crypto, the complete ecosystem is not yet ready to emerge.

The idea of using crypto in everyday life was around for quite a while. The ICO craze from 2017 proved that, with countless projects offering credit cards that would use crypto for making payments.

The concept itself is easy to understand — a project would get a credit card, which represents an element from the familiar, traditional finance industry. It would also combine crypto and blockchain tech, which is a new element. The bridge between traditional and new economies would, thus, be made, and the problem solved, right?

Well, not exactly. 

The process requires numerous participants to be interested in working with crypto, such as payment network schemes like Visa and Mastercard. Then, there is the matter of banks who did develop an interest in crypto, but due to the lack of regulations, still cannot embrace crypto-related businesses and transactions fully. 

Recent news from both MasterCard and VISA embracing cryptocurrency processing as well as some banks getting actively involved, like JP Morgan, are large crucial steps forward, and I believe that even more new projects will start to emerge now, which will likely lead other participants in the ecosystem to accept cryptocurrencies. 

Finally, you would also need merchants who would accept crypto payments. This might be the easiest issue to solve, provided that banks and card providers come up with the technology that would transfer crypto to fiat quickly. 

However, another problem emerges when it comes to selecting which cryptocurrency to use. Coins like Bitcoin, which are approved by the regulators, are too slow, as it takes over 10 minutes for the transaction to be confirmed. This is simply too long to be practical. Faster projects could be used, but there are a number of other issues, such as the fair exchange rate, optimizing the conversions back to fiat in order to manage the firm’s finances, and more.

As you can see, there are plenty of obstacles blocking the way, and they all need resolving in order for crypto to ever become a quick and easy payment solution in the real-world environment.

Changing the mindset

Lastly, there is a matter of consumer trust. Many are still sceptical of cryptocurrencies and distrust this new form of money. 

Cryptos are different from traditional finances, as people need to manage their funds themselves. It is all digital, and there is no cash form of crypto, which makes it completely new to a lot of people, and anything new is usually received with an element of distrust. In addition to this, cryptocurrencies are not backed by any government, central bank or gold reserve, which again is a novel concept for many.

Becoming more accepting of digital coins will require a change of mindset. This, I believe, is already happening with better regulation, central bank digital currency initiatives, large adoption of crypto with the institutional and professional investors and many other individual shifts. 

Seeing the potential

Cryptocurrencies have great potential, that much is not being questioned. However, in order for them to become something more than a niche, multiple conditions still need to be met. 

The best way to go about it is to erase the boundaries between traditional and digital finance, and this is already happening. Many governments around the world are accelerating their interest in crypto, regulation is advancing and traditional finance counter-parties who are crucial for seamless ecosystem operation are becoming more and more accommodating to crypto. In doing so, they are all helping with bridging the gap between traditional and crypto finance industries.

Cryptocurrencies are undoubtedly a new form of money, backed by a new generation of financial technologies. In my opinion, the main challenges have already been overcome and it is now only a matter of time before the separation between the traditional finance and crypto vanishes. The blockchain technology will revolutionise many more industries, though a smoothly working cryptocurrency ecosystem will definitely prove this to the masses and act as a catalyst for 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/crypto-trading-and-the-need-for-regulated-exchanges/

Bitcoin Grows Up: How Companies Involved in Blockchain Are Going Through a Security Maturity Curve

https://thefintechtimes.com/making-crypto-payments-an-everyday-reality/

As a way of managing distributed data, blockchain has some default capabilities that are great for security. For example, having an immutable data record is useful for companies that have to track specific items over time and prove that those items are genuine. This is useful for companies in the pharmaceutical industry, food retail and supply chain sectors. However, while blockchain has its uses for security, those companies offering services around distributed data have to think about their own security too.

Companies in the bitcoin sector have been hit by attacks on their infrastructure where coins or tokens were stolen. The issues are not related to blockchain; instead, the issues have been in how these companies manage their operations and keep themselves secure. Robert Stevenson is the Vice President Japan of Sumo Logic, he believes that after these attacks were covered publicly, these companies and others involved in cryptocurrencies and blockchain are hardening their operation and adopting more mature security models. Here he explains what this could look like in practice.

Maturing companies need more mature security

The first public blockchain was launched in 2009 as a ledger to track bitcoin creation and purchasing. For new companies that launched alongside the growth of blockchain and bitcoin, using cloud services and applications was a natural step to take. As these companies grew, they rushed to expand their market fit and cope with the level of interest that came in.

As part of this, many bitcoin companies fell prey to attacks and hijacks that led to the loss of customer tokens or bitcoins. However, the issues that led to these attacks were due to issues within the IT infrastructure that they used. As these companies had grown rapidly without security operations centres or traditional IT security processes in place, they were easier targets.

Examples of this include Coincheck in 2018 alongside the likes of Upbit, Binance and Dragonex in 2019. Each of these attacks led to losses – either through direct transfers of tokens to hacker accounts or through losses of accounts and their associated tokens which then could not be accessed. These attacks were based on poor account security, phishing and exploiting software vulnerabilities to install malware.

To respond to this, companies involved in bitcoin and blockchain are adopting the same security processes and technologies that more traditional companies have in place. As their technologies and infrastructure tend to be based in the cloud, cloud-native security approaches will be needed.

Tracking security issues and spotting indicators of compromise will normally involve putting together a security operations centre, or SOC. For traditional businesses, an SOC will collect information from their security solutions like firewalls, Intrusion detection systems (IDS), network security and endpoint devices. The SOC brings this together using a Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) platform to make the job of analysis easier for team members. For cloud-native companies, a Cloud SIEM approach is needed too.

Making changes around security at blockchain companies

Liquid.com is a good example of how bitcoin exchanges are changing their approach to security. The company runs its operations across multiple cloud services in various countries. The SOC team has to manage more than 1.3billion transactions a day, ensuring that these operations are legitimate ones and that customer data is kept secure.

Using its Cloud SIEM, the Liquid.com team is able to automate its processes around data analytics and log monitoring. This helps the SOC to quickly identify, investigate and remediate fraudulent transactions and any potential API vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. Alongside this, the security team is now more proactive in identifying potential threats to its business.

For security teams, getting access to data in real-time helps them track potential threats as they take place. For SOC teams, the data from cloud services can be difficult to use in practice when so much data is created over time. Automating some of these analytics steps and processes helps them deal with this volume of data.

The real-time element of this is also important. For companies involved in trading – whether it is bitcoins or more traditional transactions around stocks – the ability to see threats immediately is essential. Getting a full overview of all this data in context, with recommendations on what steps to take next, is called continuous intelligence.

Planning ahead for security

All companies are creating more and more data in the cloud. Security around these applications gets harder as the volume of data goes up without automation. However, using continuous intelligence for security can help. For bitcoin and blockchain companies that are cloud-native organisations, using Cloud SIEM to support their operations makes a lot of sense.

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/making-crypto-payments-an-everyday-reality/

Artificial Intelligence Can Contribute $135 Billion to This Country’s GDP by 2030

https://thefintechtimes.com/artificial-intelligence-can-contribute-135-billion-to-this-countrys-gdp-by-2030/

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia forecasts that artificial intelligence (AI) can contribute an estimated $135 billion to its gross domestic product (GDP), which corresponds to 12.4% of the national GDP. Since the launch of the Saudi Vision 2030 program in 2016, which is the Kingdom’s large-scale economic development transformation, Saudi Arabia has made significant progress in unlocking the value of data as a national asset. Around 70% of 96 strategic goals under Vision 2030 closely related to data and AI. Overseeing that responsibility for AI and data in Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Data & Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA).

Established by a royal decree issued on 30 August 2019, SDAIA is responsible for overseeing the national data and AI strategy through three executive arms: The National Data Management Office (NDMO), the National Information Center (NIC), and the National Center for Artificial Intelligence (NCAI).

Through its vision, SDAIA seeks to establish the Kingdom as a global leader among the league of data-driven economies. Its mission relies on unlocking the value of data as a national asset to realize Vision 2030 aspirations by setting the national data and AI strategy and overseeing its execution through harmonized data policies, data and insights capabilities, and continuous AI and data innovation. Given that nearly 70% of the strategic goals, as mentioned, are AI and data related, the role of SDAIA is imperative.

Dr. Abdullah Bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi is the President of the Saudi Data & Artificial Intelligence Authority

Dr. Abdullah Bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi is the President of the Saudi Data & Artificial Intelligence Authority

Dr Abdullah Bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi President of SDAIA at the SDAIA brand launch event earlier this year IMAGE SOURCE SDAIA

Speaking earlier this year at the launch of its brand identity, Dr. Abdullah Bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, the President of SDAIA, said, “We have witnessed first-hand, the early impact of AI and data-driven initiatives and their potential to propel Saudi Arabia’s future economy, but we are still in the early stages with several untapped opportunities available. We, at SDAIA, have been tasked with defining the national data and AI strategy, and delivering on our nation’s vision for the future by optimizing our national resources, improving efficiencies and enabling the creation of diversified economic sectors.”

It was announced recently on the Saudi Press Agency that King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has approved the National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence that was being done by the SDAIA. Commenting directly about that with the Saudi media, United Arab Emirates (UAE) – based Gulf News reported that Dr. Al-Ghamdi commented to the Saudi media, “The establishment of a national data bank consolidated more than 80 government datasets, which corresponds to 30 per cent of government’s digital assets. The Authority aims to build one of the largest clouds in the region by merging 83 data centres owned by over 40 government bodies. Data is the single most important driver of our growth and reform, and we have a clear roadmap for transforming Saudi Arabia into a leading AI and data-driven economy.”

An upcoming event being organised by the SDAIA is the Global AI Summit, which from their website is “the world’s premier platform for dialogue that brings together stakeholders from public sector, academia and private sector, including technology companies, investors, entrepreneurs and startup to shape the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI).” It is scheduled for 14-15 September in Riyadh.

Finally, on the ground, examples of partnerships and innovation in the Kingdom are emerging. For example, Numou Center for Education, in Dhahran, a city in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia, has teamed up with Century Tech, a London-based education company, to create a new AI-powered learning platform designed specifically for the needs of students in Saudi Arabia. Century Tech is a developer of AI classroom technology which uses machine learning to provide students with an education personalised to their individual strengths, weaknesses, behaviours, and habits. It will be interesting to see the future innovations and collaborations that will happen in the world of big data and artificial intelligence.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

https://thefintechtimes.com/artificial-intelligence-can-contribute-135-billion-to-this-countrys-gdp-by-2030/

Building The Financial Services and Fintech Ecosystem Foundation in Angola

https://thefintechtimes.com/building-the-financial-services-and-fintech-ecosystem-foundation-in-angola/

The former Portuguese colony located in the western coast of Southern Africa, Angola, for those that are aware of its history and economy, is one that is tied to oil. The country is an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member. From data from the end of 2018, oil production and its supporting activities contribute about 50 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Breaking that down, that was over 70 percent of government revenue and over 90 percent of the country’s exports. Given the drop in recent memory of the price of oil and other issues, can industries like fintech be a solution for Angola’s economy?

Compared to other more developed fintech and wider financial services sectors in the African continent, notably Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa, Angola’s financial services sector is still in its infancy. According to Fitch Solutions, demand of the asset management sector is undermined by generally low average income levels coupled with the limited uptake of formal financial services.

According to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s The Banking Sector in Angola 2019 report, Angola’s banking industry is dominated by six banks and competition from non-bank institutions such as microlenders remains low. A distinct characteristic of the Angolan banking sector is the participation of the state, ruling party loyalists and state-owned enterprises such as the national oil company Sonangol in private banks. Policy dictates that foreign banks can only operate in Angola through joint ventures with local and state-owned companies, making it less attractive to bring in foreign direct investment (FDI).

Luanda is the capital and largest city of Angola

Luanda is the capital and largest city of Angola

Luanda is the capital and largest city of Angola. The country historically has been reliant on oil and is looking to diversify its economy IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Nevertheless, Angola’s banking sector has expanded rapidly during the past 17 years to become the third-largest sector in sub-Saharan Africa behind South Africa and Nigeria. The number of licensed commercial banks increased from nine in 2003 to 26 in July 2019. Some banks in Angola include: Banco Angolano de Investimentos, Banco de Comércio e Indústria, Banco de Desenvolvimento de Angola, Banco Económico, Banco de Poupanca e Credito and Standard Bank Angola. In Angola the Banco Nacional de Angola is responsible for all banking supervision through its Banking Supervision Department.

The country’s natural resource wealth and growing population does show a long-term growth potential, despite its current challenges and now coupled with the pandemic of the coronavirus. Before the pandemic, the government has made efforts to boost its wider financial services industry.

The Angolan government is implementing a macroeconomic stabilisation programme focused on strengthening fiscal sustainability, reducing inflation, promoting a more flexible exchange rate regime and improving financial sector stability. Its national development programme includes strengthening financial sector resilience, recapitalising weak banks, and restructuring the largest state-owned bank. It plans to privatise most of the 195 state-owned companies or companies in which the state participates by this year (the coronavirus could of course delay this as with many other aspects of daily life globally). The restructuring and privatisation of state-owned banks will increase competition among the commercial banks. João Lourenço has been the president of Angola since 2017, whom prior to him the president of the country for many years was José Eduardo dos Santos.

The country has also helped aligned its financial services ecosystem with global best practice. It has made noticeable attempts to clamp down on money laundering such as issuing an anti-money laundering compliance code in 2015, which reflects the standards issued by the Basel Committee on banking supervision. Also, Angolan banks are now legally required to submit an annual independently audited report that lays out their actions on implementing Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Basel standards.

Laboratório de Inovação do Sistema de Pagamentos de Angola. (LISPA) – in English translating to Laboratory of Innovation of Payment Systems in Angola, is an initiative by the Banco Nacional de Angola to promote innovation in terms of the fintech and wider entrepreneur and financial services ecosystem of the country. They recently just this past July had a virtual launch event in Portuguese with over 150 participants and partners that included: Banco Nacional de Angola, Ministério do Ensino Superior, Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, and Acelera Angola. The event was the launch event of the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox in Angola. Portuguese innovation advisor Beta-i is helping Banco Nacional de Angola to create an experimental regulatory environment for fintech, which institution announced in a statement.

It will be exciting times ahead in Angola as the country is on a pathway to economic diversification and acknowledging that its financial services industry, fintech and wider innovation can help lead the way.

The launch event (in Portuguese – Angola’s official language) of the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox in Angola: 

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

https://thefintechtimes.com/building-the-financial-services-and-fintech-ecosystem-foundation-in-angola/

Lockdown Boredom Has Created Only One Winner: Gametech

https://thefintechtimes.com/gametech/

According to data gathered by SafeBettingSites, the revenue of the world’s five largest gaming markets has jumped by $10.04bn in the last three years. In just 2017, China was recorded to generate $20.8bn profit, making it the world’s largest gaming hub. With $17.6bn in revenue, the United States ranked as the second-largest gaming market with Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany following respectively with $11.8bn, $3.1bn and $1.5bn profit, respectively.

In the next twelve months, the combined markets figure rose to $56.44bn, a $1.45bn increase year-on-year. What’s more, the upward trend continued in 2019, with the revenue of the five largest gaming markets growing by $2.29bn and reaching a total of $58.73bn.

However, these figures could be smashed once again once as time spent at home gaming due to the pandemic in 2020 is taken-into-account. Experts are predicting a significant rise in gaming revenues set to show by the end of the year. Current statistics project that the five largest video games industries are set to reach $64.84bn profit in 2020, a $6.11bn jump year-on-year.

Cumulatively, the revenue of the top five gaming markets is set to reach $68.50bn by 2024.

It’s therefore no wonder that gametech is becoming a fast income stream for both gaming and payment focussed companies.

Recently MiFinity, a global payments provider, announced a new partnership with the online gaming operator and platform group BlueOcean Gaming. The MiFinity eWallet is now available to consumers as a payment method across BlueOcean Gaming’s multiple brands, languages and markets.

Following on from MiFinity’s integration with PaymentIQ in 2019, this latest agreement builds upon the recent announcements in rolling out the MiFinity eWallet across multiple platform providers and gaming operators.

It offers customers a fast, simple and secure way to perform transactions with multiple local payment options that support deposit, withdrawal and transfer functionality in different currencies.

“Welcoming MiFinity on board means a great deal for us. Our clients operate across many markets therefore having a payment that offers a global coverage and detailed security technology sure represents a strong advantage for our offering”, said Mateja Pavlin, Head of Account Management at BlueOcean Gaming.

In the meantime, DMarket, one of the biggest gaming marketplaces for trading in-game items and skins, has already updated its payment providers multiple times in the last year.

Tamara Slanova is the Co-Founder, CFO, and Head of London Office at DMarket. Here she explains just how the company is leading the way in gametech.

How has DMarket changed the payment partners it’s worked with?

We are always looking for new and better payment options for our users, and that’s the only reason for us to sign with new partners. When we see an opportunity to reduce payment processing fees by changing the payment provider, we go for it. We also pay attention to the speed, convenience, and failure rates of transactions. After changing a provider of credit card payments a few months ago, we managed to decrease the failure rates by 50% while also increasing deposit limits and speed.

Another important focus is on regional-specific payment methods that help us expand our global presence. For instance, WeChat Pay has been a major factor in our rapid growth in China.

What have been the difficulties in terms of players withdrawing funds?

The most frequent complaints we get from our users are about KYC. Users don’t like it and we have to explain that it is necessary for their own security. Once in a while, users also make requests about particular payment methods that we don’t have yet. This is why we are always working on expanding the options for gamers worldwide. We have quite a few popular withdrawal methods and new ones are coming really soon.

Do you have any planned improvements in gametech payment methods that you see on the horizon?

As for the ability to earn more, that’s what DMarket is about. We have built a global ecosystem where game developers, gamers, designers, brands, influencers, and entrepreneurs can co-create digital content, trade it, make a profit and have fun.

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/gametech/

Wirecard UK Unveils Plan to Sell Assets to Railsbank, what about the customers, cardholders and employees

https://thefintechtimes.com/wirecard-uk-unveils-plan-to-sell-assets-to-railsbank/

Railsbank, the global open banking platform, is to buy Wirecard’s UK subsidiary –Wirecard Card Solutions – with customer accounts set to be migrated by November this year. It is two months since the discredited German payments company filed for insolvency.

The proposed asset sale of Wirecard Card Solutions (WCS) to Railsbank, as part of a solvent wind-down of the business, has been hailed as ‘great news for the UK fintech scene’.

Under the deal, the UK arm of the bust German fintech will sell its card technology and associated assets, and transfer client relationships and certain employees to Railsbank.

According to WCS, customer migration will take place between now and November 2020. Both before and after the migration, Wirecard Card Solutions’ cardholders will be able to continue to operate their cards and
access their funds as usual.

If a definitive agreement with Railsbank, which runs more than  50 card programmes in the UK and EU, is not reached, WCS says it would expect to ‘continue with the wind down plan in any event’.  Parent company Wirecard AG group will continue to hold ownership of Wirecard Card Solution’s shares.

“In planning the future of the company, one of our key priorities continues to be that our valued customers get the best possible outcome,” says Tom Jennings, managing director at Wirecard Card Solutions. “We believe that our solvent wind-down proposal, including the proposed sale of assets to Railsbank, will achieve that that key priority. Our hope is that our programme managers will support our proposal and we can move forward in a positive way for all parties. I would like to thank our customers for their ongoing support as well as Mastercard and Visa for their help in making this transition as seamless as possible.”

Nigel Verdon railsbank CEO

Nigel Verdon railsbank CEO

Nigel Verdon

Nigel Verdon, CEO and co-founder of, Railsbank, said: “We are delighted to have come to this agreement with Wirecard Card Solutions and thank its team for working positively with us during the process. At the end of the day, customer and team needs are our priority. The Railsbank team will conscientiously work on ensuring customers, programme managers and team members have a seamless transfer to their new home.”

The industry reaction…

The asset sale has been largely welcomed by industry experts. The questions still to be answered are the effects on the Wirecard customers, individual cardholders and the UK employees.

Boris Dyakonov co-founder Anna Money

Boris Dyakonov co-founder Anna Money

Boris Dyakonov

Boris Dyakonov, co-founder of mobile business account ANNA, comments: “It is really good news for the industry as a whole if Wirecard UK was to be acquired by such a reputable player as Railsbank. It would obviously be hard for Wirecard to continue operating under the current brand with all the investigations going on in Europe and other countries. Yet in the UK, Wirecard was totally independent and supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority so it is really good news.”

Gene Gerrienne, partner UK and international at startup rating agency Early Metrics, says: “The fact that Railsbank has put itself forward to take over WCS is great news for the UK fintech scene, since Wirecard represented an important enabler for many heavyweights, including Revolut. I believe that RailsBank is a strong candidate as the firm is backed by Visa and its CEO has built a solid track record, both in his current role and at the helm of Currencycloud.”

“The move could potentially restore some confidence and stability in a market that has faced plenty of headwinds lately. Aside from Wirecard’s debacle, in recent months we’ve seen N26 and Holvi pull out of the UK market, while Monzo took a 40 per cent hit on its market value and saw its losses double. So, the UK fintech scene needs a win and I’m hoping this will turn out to be a positive twist in a turbulent story.”

David Parker

David Parker

Fintech investor and CEO of Polymath Consulting David Parker says: “It is a pity that Wirecard Card Solutions could not be sold as a going concern, but obviously time was against any buyer being able to perform the relevant due diligence required for a full share sale. It is good to see a fast growing industry player like Railsbank able to conclude an agreement to support both customers and potentially employees going forward.”

Global Processing Services (GPS) has been a processing partner to WDCS since 2013 – launching hundreds of consumer, corporate and B2B propositions with Mastercard and Visa to provide access to inclusive and innovative financial services. Both companies have been at the epicentre of Europe’s fintech revolution, with GPS being the fintech powerhouse for the majority of its sponsored programmes.

Joanne Dewar CEO Global Processing Services

Joanne Dewar CEO Global Processing Services

Joanne Dewar

Commenting on the last two months, Joanne Dewar, CEO of GPS said: “We have been working hard with all of our customers, Wirecard Card Solutions, Mastercard, Visa and the FCA to facilitate a positive outcome for all involved, with laser focus on maintaining the high quality of service our customers and their cardholders have enjoyed over many years.

“The good news for our customers and their cardholders is that transitioning a live programme from one issuing bank to another is a process that can be completed without disruption or loss of functionality, as we recently proved with the migration of Curve and Soldo, where we continue to enjoy the partnership. Railsbank is already a fully integrated and live partner of GPS in Europe and Asia Pacific and we welcome the opportunity to extend this relationship.

As one chapter with WDCS closes, we look forward to the next chapter of continuing to provide digital experiences that improve lives.”

Following an interview with Nigel Verdon, we are looking forward to answering the next major questions of the impact this asset sale will have on Wirecard UK customers, individual cardholders and the employees based in Newcastle. Stay tuned to read the full interview…

  • Editorial Director of the The Fintech Times

https://thefintechtimes.com/wirecard-uk-unveils-plan-to-sell-assets-to-railsbank/