The 31 best taglines in financial services

Share For brands trying to make inroads with consumers, getting the firm’s message across in a clear, concise and memorable way is no easy feat. The need to grab consumers’ attention quickly is more pressing than ever in this age of social media and shortened attention spans. Bank Innovation combed through some of the biggest …Read More

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The ‘Amazon One’ Palm Print Biometrics Tool Delivers Contactless Payments

After a a deluge of new announcements during its hardware event last week, Amazon is coming to us with something new again this week.

The company revealed Amazon One, a contactless palm reading device to help users make a transaction in-store, present a loyalty card, or authenticate themselves for entry into a secure location.

Amazon is piloting the new devices in select Amazon Go stores, concept stores that offer consumers a checkout-free shopping experience by using AI to track what they place in their cart. The Amazon One terminals will be offered as an option for consumers to authenticate themselves upon entering the store.

There is a slight bit of friction involved. Upon arriving at the store, the shopper enters their credit card into the Amazon One terminal, hovers their palm over the device, and follows prompts on the screen that associate their card with their unique palm print. Shoppers can enroll with one palm or both.

After enrolling, shoppers can use their palm print to enter Amazon Go stores. In the coming months, Amazon One will be available at additional Amazon stores, as well.

“[W]e believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores, so we also plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums, and office buildings so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience in more places,” said Dilip Kumar, Vice President of Physical Retail and Technology at Amazon.

The tech giant cited a handful of reasons for using a palm print over other biometrics. First, unlike many facial recognition solutions, humans can’t identify a person by simply looking at the palm of their hand. Also, unlike facial recognition, Amazon One requires users to make an intentional gesture by holding their hand up in front of the device. And, of course, the palm reader is contactless, easing fears about virus transmission.

If you’ve been following fintech for any length of time you’re likely aware that Amazon isn’t the first company using contactless palm print biometrics. Both iProov and Redrock Biometrics have been working in the space since 2011 and 2015, respectively.

As biometric authentication methods rise in popularity, we’ll likely see palm prints being the body part of choice for authentication. That’s because, in addition to Amazon’s point regarding the ability to recognize others’ palm prints, it is also much more difficult to spoof someone else’s palm than it is to spoof their fingerprint of face.

ClickSWITCH Secures Strategic Investment from USAA

Digital account switching company ClickSWITCH has locked in an investment of $2 million from a subsidiary of USAA. The funding, which takes the company’s total to more than $21 million, will be used to help the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based firm “build additional momentum around the ClickSWITCH solution and its features,” according to founder and CEO Cale Johnston.

ClickSWITCH offers an automated account management solution that enhances the onboarding process for financial institutions by enabling them to quickly and efficiently switch all direct deposits and recurring payments from old accounts to new ones. The solution helps banks and credit unions gain higher account holder acquisition and activation rates, capture more deposits, and increase profitability.

“The financial investment from USAA is encouraging during these uncertain times and we are excited to support USAA’s mission of supporting the U.S. military community,” Johnston added.

USAA Head of Corporate Development Nathan McKinley praised ClickSWITCH for its “commitment to solving a persistent consumer problem” and put the investment in the context of USAA’s goal of providing military families with “the best value in financial services.” Based in San Antonio, Texas, USAA is a leading financial services provider, offering insurance, banking, and investment solutions to nearly 13 million members of the U.S. military, veterans, and their families.

With more than 500 financial institution customers in North America, ClickSWITCH sees this week’s investment as helping drive further innovation on its technology and enabling the six-year old company maintain its status as a leader in the account switching space. This spring, as the COVID-19 crisis took hold in the U.S., ClickSWITCH forged a partnership with fellow Finovate alum Finastra. The company said it would leverage ClickSWITCH for its Fusion Phoenix and Fusion UltraData core clients to help them increase both deposits and customer engagement.

Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

Women in Fintech: Robin Nunn of Morgan Lewis

As The Fintech Times in September celebrates the Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the leading females. One of them is Robin Nunn, is an innovative thought leader in the fintech industry who has served as trusted in-house and outside counsel to some of the world’s top financial institutions and enterprising startups, including Capital One and American Express.

Robin is now a partner at global law firm Morgan Lewis and advises clients on novel issues in new communication technologies, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, payments, artificial intelligence, and big data in matters of complex civil litigation, enforcement litigation, white-collar defence, transactional due diligence, creation and review of corporate compliance programs, and investigations. 

Robin Nunn

Describe your career journey so far…

As the daughter of two lawyers who began their legal careers as civil rights attorneys in the southern state of Arkansas, I always wanted to pursue a career that would help those most in need. I joined the US State Department after college, spending time in Kenya, and later worked for a variety of public interest organizations in Chicago and New York City, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (NAACP LDF). I ultimately decided to attend The University of Chicago Law School, where I had the opportunity to study under former US President Barack Obama because I believed I could make a greater impact in the world as a lawyer. After graduating, I clerked for the Honorable Barrington Parker, Jr. of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

It was during my initial experience in private practice, following my clerkship, that I became interested in financial services work. It was an exciting time, when technology and financial services were starting to intersect and new tools such as cryptocurrency and blockchain were being developed and introduced.

I eventually transitioned to an in-house counsel position at American Express and then Capital One, whereas in-house counsel I established and executed legal strategies for both the Fortune 500 companies’ legal departments, including on lawsuits and enforcement matters. I also counselled internal clients on legal issues across the business, including on cybersecurity, breach response, product design and launch, regulatory compliance, corporate governance, credit, operations, underwriting, and risk in a broad range of products including financial services, credit card, mortgage, auto, broker-dealer, and banking.  As legal counsel for American Express and Capital One, I got the opportunity to work with strong brands with loyal followings in the ever-evolving mobile payments market and wallet adoption revolution, like ApplePay, Samsung Pay and Jawbone Pay. I also got to advise on facial recognition and wearable technology that formed the foundation for new mobile-payment and security features.

With the experience I gained at both companies, I returned to private practice for the opportunity to once again interface with a larger portfolio of clients in the fintech space. I served in leadership roles, including as chair of the consumer financial services group, at the two firms where I was a partner before joining Morgan Lewis earlier this month. 

As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?

Being a black woman in society brings distinct challenges due to structural discrimination and racism. Additionally, law is among the least diverse professions in the United States, and the fintech industry, in particular, has been dominated by white males historically.  

As my career has progressed, I’ve come to realise that being black and a woman has both posed challenges and provided benefits to me. I strongly believe that many of my attributes, like strength and perseverance, which are often characterized as black female attributes, make me a more effective attorney and advocate.

Decades after entering the legal field as a young associate, I continue to be the only black woman involved in conversations on the majority of the fintech and legal issues I work on. My identity, unique in both the legal and financial services industries, brings unique approaches to solving complex problems. I am committed to ensuring that one day my voice will be one of many diverse voices moving the fintech industry forward. 

One of the reasons I was attracted to Morgan Lewis is its well-established promotion and platforming of women. Earlier this year, the firm launched ML Women in Tech with the mission of promoting and supporting a community of women in technology, both within and outside of the firm. The initiative is just one way we harness the strength of our lawyers through partnerships with our clients to create new opportunities for growth and innovation and help them stay on top of developments and trends in technology.

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the US related to your work in fintech?

I’m monitoring a number of developments critical to our clients in the US fintech space at the moment, including California’s new legislation that converts the state’s primary financial regulator, the Department of Business Oversight (DBO), into the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI). Through this legislation, Governor Gavin Newsom has weaponized a new agency with an enhanced prosecution tool in the form of a statute mirroring the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s authority under the Dodd-Frank Act and created a second consumer protection agency with respect to financial institutions, alongside the state’s already active attorney general. This increases the risks for both bank and non-bank financial institutions doing business in California — not only large commercial banks but also startup fintech platforms that must now contend with yet another threat to innovation.  

Additionally, as we are seeing across most industries, innovation and fairness when dealing with consumers have become meaningful priorities for fintech and technology companies in general in the United States. Also in California, the home of many fintech companies, proposed legislation that would mandate diverse individuals be part of the boards of the largest companies is soon expected to be signed into law. We saw similar legislation in the state mandating that women have equal representation on corporate boards pass in 2018 on the heels of the #MeToo movement.

What career advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in the United States?

I would encourage female entrepreneurs and thought leaders to support and promote other women. Not every woman is in a position to do this, but those who can, should. I see Morgan Lewis Chair Jami McKeon as an excellent example. 

Throughout her tenure as chair of the largest law firm in the world led by a woman, Jami has promoted women to leadership roles from advisory board members to practice group leaders and spearheaded the creation of our ML Women and ML Women in Tech initiatives. She served as a mentor to me for many years, and our relationship has had a real impact on my life, including most recently by bringing me to the firm. 

I would also encourage young women to be their authentic selves at work, especially black women. I spent the early part of my career avoiding form-fitting clothes and pulling my hair back in an effort to appear more androgynous and look less like a black woman. However, I’ve come to recognize that diversity helps forward-thinking companies develop and position themselves as thought leaders. Young women should be proud to bring their authentic selves and their individual ideas and experiences to the table. 

  • 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.

Digital Loan One Box Solution Launched at Huawei Connect 2020

Earlier this month it was announced at the Huawei Connect 2020 event that a collaboration between Sunline and Huawei created the Digital Loan One Box Solution — a global contactless solution for financial services. This solution will be rolled out across countries and regions, such as Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, where financial inclusiveness is urgently necessary.

Digital Loan One Box adopts an open strategy, allowing financial institutions to launch a wide range of contactless services, such as online loan product campaign, customer E-KYC, risk assessment, fund disbursement, and post-loan processing. The solution responds to the urgent need from both FIs and their customers for digital financial services. This requirement is ever more pressing amid the pandemic that many countries continue to battle.

As the cornerstones of national economies, financial institutions need contactless, digital, and online financial services, especially in the current situation. However, global banks face similar challenges in the course of digital transformation: huge costs and risks to replace legacy systems, limited budget and uncertain return on investment for transformation, lack of open business and technology experience, increasingly fierce competitions, and more demand of contactless service driven by the pandemic, etc.

Contactless finance refers to services where customers and banks do not need to interact face-to-face. Via Omni-channels, it supports plug-in-based services, built-in businesses, and out-of-the-box features.

The Digital Loan One Box Solution is built on Huawei FusionCube Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, adopting the enterprise-level microservices banking framework EDSP released by Sunline in 2020. The solution supports rapid, dynamic horizontal scaling on both the business and system demands. It also provides DevOps continuous delivery assembly line to meet the increasingly agile development requirements of financial institutions. Contactless banking services make banking much more convenient while remaining user-friendly, timely, and professional, leading to better customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. The interconnection of the financial ecosystem serves boosts market share and reputation of financial institutions. The solution also offers cost-effective TCO that meets their investment expectations.

“Amid the ongoing pandemic, the solution comes at the right time for financial institutions. It can satisfy the demands of efficient lending and loaning for both financial institutions and customers during such special times. Within this industry, we will continue to develop a global ecosystem and scenario-based solutions from 2C to 2B with global partners,” said Jason Cao, President of Global Financial Services Business Unit, Enterprise Business Group at Huawei.

“Together with customers and partners in the industry, we will start with 5G and seize the opportunities across five major tech domains — connectivity, cloud, computing, AI, and industry applications. Ultimately, we will provide scenario-based smart solutions and technologies to facilitate the digital transformation for financial customers.”

Hongan Li, Senior Vice President of Sunline, added, “Sunline is a global banking IT service company. We keep innovating to lead in FinTech and enrich the interconnection of life. During COVID-19, we realized the urgent need for technological innovation, digital services, and open financial services global wide. In light of this, Sunline and Huawei are now launching the Digital Loan One Box Solution. The solution is designed for financial institutions and customers, especially for those lacking technology capabilities. It is based on Sunline’s enterprise-level microservices framework for banks. The agile platform features high flexibility, loose coupling, high performance, and distributed deployment. It meets the dynamic horizontal scaling requirements of financial institutions of any size at both the business and system demands. Our aim is to provide a solution that is practical and helpful in this extraordinary time.”

  • 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.

New Standard Chartered Survey Shows That Majority of UAE Consumers Expect a Cashless Society by 2030

COVID-19 has seen consumers across the world ditch cash and in-person shopping in favour of online spending, according to Standard Chartered’s latest global survey. Almost two-thirds of survey respondents around the world (73 percent in the UAE) agree that COVID-19 has made them more positive about online shopping, but they are also more careful with their spending and want new ways to track their money digitally.

The study of 12,000 adults across 12 markets – Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mainland China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, UAE, the UK and the US – is the second in a three-part series, looking at how COVID-19 has transformed consumers’ way of life, and what changes could be here to stay. While the first survey focused on the pandemic’s impact on earnings, the second offers new insights into the way the global health crisis is changing consumer spending habits.

In the UAE, 72 percent said they preferred to shop in-person prior to the pandemic compared to less than a third online. But this has shifted significantly, with almost half (47 percent) who now prefer online payments to in-person card or cash payments. This increase in preference for online payments is true across a range of purchases, from groceries and travel to digital devices. As a result, almost two-thirds of people in the UAE (64 percent in the UAE and 64% globally) now expect the country to go fully cashless, with a majority of the public expecting this to happen by 2030.

Respondents in all 12 markets anticipate doing more of their shopping online from now on, with people in Kenya foreseeing a 30 per cent increase in their online spending, followed by those in the UAE thinking it will increase by 18 per cent and those in Indonesia by 16 per cent. While still anticipating an overall increase, respondents in the UK, Mainland China, the US and Taiwan believe their online spending will only grow by less than 10 per cent in the future.

The survey results are supported by Standard Chartered’s ATM withdrawals data. Across the ten surveyed markets where Standard Chartered offers retail banking (all except the UK and US), COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated the decline in ATM usage. Cash withdrawals from ATMs are now half what they were two years ago.

Meanwhile, as spending begins to creep up as lockdowns ease globally – 46 percent of those in the UAE reported increased spending in July (46 percent globally) – 89 percent of people in the UAE say the pandemic has made them more careful with their expenditure (75 percent globally).

Reflecting this increased caution, 77 per cent of survey respondents in the UAE (62 per cent globally) said that the economic impact of COVID-19 has made them more likely to track their spending, with over 80 per cent either using or interested in using budgeting tools or tools that block card-spend over specified limits.

Commenting on the findings, Sonny Zulu, Head of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered UAE said: “The UAE is on a fast track in adopting digital banking and cashless payments and the pandemic has accelerated the digital drive. This is also mirrored in our digital transformational strategy at the Standard Chartered. We see consumers in the UAE, spending more on basics – such as groceries and healthcare – and digital devices than they did prior to the pandemic, and they expect this increase to continue in the future.”

Meanwhile, in the UAE, 68 percent of people say they have spent less on travel/holidays than they did before the pandemic (64 percent globally), while 42 percent have spent less on experiences (41 percent globally) and 64 per cent have spent less on clothes (55 percent globally).

This trend is expected to continue in the UAE with 38 percent saying they anticipate spending less on travel/holidays, 22 percent on experiences and 35 per cent on clothes in the future.

As well as increased caution when it comes to spending, consumers around the world are increasingly conscientious. This is good news for small businesses and those producing locally made goods, particularly those making and selling sustainably sourced products. In the UAE, more than half of people say they are now more likely to shop locally (61 percent), more sustainably (59 percent) and with small businesses (55 percent). This is particularly true of younger generations (18-44), suggesting this trend is likely to continue.

  • 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.

Catch up on our Latest Webinar: Leaders in Fintech that Happen to be Women

This September, The Fintech Times explored the topic of women in fintech and this webinar tackles those issues. Do women feel represented? Were our panellists always destined for a career in financial technology? And what advice do they have for today’s university students?

Moderated by Gina Clarke, Editor-in-Chief of The Fintech Times, with panellists Noha Shaker founder and Secretary-General of the Egyptian Fintech Association, Sam Seaton CEO of Moneyhub and Keren Moynihan, CEO Boss Insights.

Fintech Platform Nium Partners With Neobank Aspire to Go Plastic-Less and Enable Google Pay Feature

Singapore-based Neobank Aspire announced its collaboration with Nium, a global financial technology platform, to go plastic-free through the issuance of virtual Visa corporate cards. The collaboration will also enable all cards under Aspire to be made available on Google Pay, the smartphone digital wallet platform.

Nium’s end-to-end issuing, processing and onboarding services allows Aspire’s customers to have an additional option of completing their payments via Google Pay on Visa-accepted terminals. With its virtual corporate cards being made available on the app, business owners can now go green and pay on point of sale (POS) devices and online without the need for a physical card.

Founded in 2018, Aspire is an SME focused Fintech and was the first business neobank in Southeast Asia. It offers it’s Aspire Business Account that provides low and transparent FX fees, fully integrated with accounting systems and custom spending limits so businesses can keep track of spending and stay on top of their accounts with real-time notifications. The virtual corporate card will be a new free feature with this account, targeted towards modern entrepreneurs and SME’s

“Making Aspire’s corporate cards available on Google Pay allows Aspire corporate card users to experience a fully digital experience. Separately, from account opening to managing the finances, everything can be done within the Aspire app. Business owners can set custom limits on expenses without having to worry about manual expense reconciliation. Also, we are going paperless with simplified accounting by integrating Xero, all in one app,” said Andrea Baronchelli, CEO and Co-founder of Aspire.

Visa’s and Google Pay’s NFC feature provides Aspire customers with a seamless and convenient payment process with maximum security. Businesses can confirm and complete in-store and online purchase without having to enter their payment information again, which enables faster checkout.

Nium is a global financial technology platform that aims to redefine the way consumers and businesses send, spend and receive funds across borders. The company was initially founded in 2014 as InstaReM before evolving into Nium in 2019 after launching in Australia, Asia, Europe and the US.

Gitesh Athavale, Global Head of Product (Cards) at Nium said “We’re pleased to be working with Aspire to ease the Spend Management process for businesses in Southeast Asia. Through the issuance of virtual cards and the integration with Google Pay via our payments network, companies can now track their expenses more easily and directly using their Android devices.”

Women in Fintech: Joanne Dewar From Global Processing Services

As The Fintech Times in September celebrates Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from leading fintech females. One of them is Joanne Dewar, Chief Executive Officer of Global Processing Services (GPS), the trusted and proven go-to payments processing partner for today’s leading challenger brands including Revolut, Starling Bank and Curve.

Joanne Dewar

Joanne joined GPS in 2013 and led its transformation from start-up to private equity-backed scale-up. She is a recognised leader and influencer in the payments industry, having been selected as one of just two women on the 2019 Payments Power 10 list, which recognises payments industry leaders with an ongoing commitment to pushing boundaries in the payments sector. 

She was also the European Women Payments Network (EWPN)’s 2018 Woman of the Year Finalist, and is on the judging panel for Inclusion Signpost, a new accreditation to inform and support consumers on existing fintech products and services that address financial inclusion.

Describe your career journey so far…

I’ve always wanted my work to have a positive influence on the world, and to be able to create meaningful change through what I do. From volunteering as a teenager, to using my skills in the charity sector during my career break, I’ve always wanted to be part of something greater. 

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening related to your work in fintech?

The fintech industry is in an incredible position to change the world for the better by providing solutions and products to help solve the problem of financial exclusion across the globe. Our company mission is to enable financial empowerment for everyone. Using technological innovations, the fintech industry can transform the role of financial services to enable people to manage their money better, open bank accounts for the first time, and access credit that can enable them to afford the items they need to improve their quality of life. 

GPS are the ‘tech behind the tech’, in that we do a lot of the heavy lifting to enable brands to focus on their consumer propositions. We have become renowned for innovating in the issuer-processor space and giving rise to the fintech boom, being the engine that has powered the fintech revolution across the UK and Europe. Our cutting-edge technology powers many of today’s challengers and fintechs, including Revolut, Starling Bank and Curve, and we work with over 40 issuing banks and 180 clients, across 60 countries and in 150 different currencies. 

One of our areas of focus and a highlight over the past two years has been our Global Expansion programme, as we brought the epicenter of the European fintech revolution to APAC and opened offices in both Singapore and Australia. Launching our APAC presence at the 60,000 attendee-Singapore Fintech Festival last year was a significant achievement as our launch was highlighted as one of the top ten announcements, and we have since been powering key players in the region including Revolut, Razer, WeLab Bank and Xinja, amongst others.

What career advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders?

Imposter Syndrome is a huge issue for many people in high-level positions, irrespective of gender, and something that I certainly struggled with when I first became CEO. To help combat this, one thing I have always remembered is Jack Welch’s ‘Destroy Your Own Business theory’ – that one should consider how the competition would respond to a situation, and to do that thing yourself.  To apply this to my own situation, I ask myself how a veteran CEO would respond to a particular situation, and I apply that behaviour. 

This was particularly true when it came to getting over my fear of public speaking. I used to worry about the one person in the audience who I thought might know more than me, but as I became more comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, I focused on the hundreds of other people who I knew could learn something from me. To overcome a fear of failure, instead of focusing on the fear, you need to behave as though you already are the leader you want to be, and eventually, that will manifest itself. 

  • 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.

Juniper Research Finds Instant Payments Transaction Values Will Reach $18 Trillion by 2025

A new study from Juniper Research has found that the value of instant payments, where transactions are completed within ten seconds, will reach $18 trillion in 2025. This will be a growth of over 500%, up from $3 trillion in 2020.

This represents 17% of all B2B and consumer digital money transfer and banking payments by value in 2025. The research found that West Europe is driving innovation and will account for 38% of instant payment transaction value by 2025.

The report, entitled “Why Instant is Critical to Payments”, identified that success of domestic instant payment schemes will enable cross-border vendors to connect different schemes into cross-border networks, which will radically reduce the time, cost and frustration involved in the current cross-border payments ecosystem. However, this will also require established vendors to revisit their business models, as the fundamentals of the market change drastically.

The European Central Bank defines instant payments as ‘electronic retail payment solutions that process payments in real-time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, where the funds are made available immediately for use by the recipient.’ In their report, Juniper Research defines an instant payments scheme as ‘any payments scheme where the funds are capable of being received in ten seconds or under, outside card networks.’

In another report on Instant Payments, “Instant Payments: Domestic and Cross-border Analysis and Forecasts 2020-2015”, Juniper Research forecasted that the US will trail in terms of instant payments adoption, with only an 8% share of Global instant payment transaction values in 2025. While RTP has been available in the US for some time, the fragmented nature of its financial system means that adoption has been slow to date.

Nick Maynard, author of the research report, said “With the proposed FedNow service from the US Federal Reserve not coming into service until 2023/24, the US is rapidly falling behind in instant payments. Payments vendors must concentrate on creating innovative digital payments products to bridge this gap or be faced with an outdated system.”

The research also found that B2B payments will dominate values in the instant payments market; accounting for 89% of global transaction values in 2025. While consumer payments are numerous, B2B payments have much higher average values. The research identifies that instant payments adoption can be particularly transformative in B2B payments, where value-added capabilities, including automation and additional remittance data enabled by ISO 20022 can be valuable in tackling complex accounts payable processes.

Stablecoin News for the week ending Wednesday 30th September.

Here is our pick of the 3 most important Stablecoin news stories during the week.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published stablecoin guidance Monday, on how cryptocurrencies backed by fiat currencies should be treated under law. Prior to Monday’s notices, there was no federal clarity around stablecoins.

Stablecoin issuers have been using U.S.  banks for years, but in an unclear regulatory environment. Now, the OCC wants federally regulated banks to feel comfortable providing services to stablecoin issuers, it said in a press release. An accompanying interpretative letter, signed by Senior Deputy Comptroller Jonathan Gould, explained that while banks should conduct due diligence and ensure they assess the risks of banking any stablecoin issuers, stablecoins are becoming increasingly popular.

“National banks and federal savings associations currently engage in stablecoin related activities involving billions of dollars each day. This opinion provides greater regulatory certainty for banks within the federal banking system to provide those client services in a safe and sound manner,” Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks said in a statement.

OCC’s First Issued Guidance for Stablecoins Brings More Questions

In the meantime, we also saw progress in one of the many trails of CBDC.  Ethereum workshop ConsenSys said it has been chosen by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) to assist in Hong Kong and Thailand’s cross-border central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot.

Hong Kong Reportedly Picks ConsenSys for Digital Currency Pilot Project

Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands called on the European Commission to draw up strict regulation for asset-backed cryptocurrencies such as stablecoins to protect consumers and preserve state sovereignty in monetary policy.

Big European states call for cryptocurrency curbs to protect consumers

So this week we saw Regulators provide clarity in the US on stablecoins, in HK they are in an active cross border trail trying to understand what a stablecoin is and in the EU they are worried about the threat it poses to state sovereignty and its citizens.


Alan Scott is an expert in the FX market and has been working in the domain of stablecoins for many years.  

We have a self imposed constraint of 3 news stories per week because we serve busy senior Fintech leaders who just want succinct and important information.

For context on stablecoins please read this introductory interview with Alan “How stablecoins will change our world” and read articles tagged stablecoin in our archives. 


New readers can read 3 free articles.  To  become a member with full access to all that Daily Fintech offers,  the cost is just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day or $2.75 per week). For less than one cup of coffee you get a week full of caffeine for the mind.

Women in Fintech: Diana Krumova From FinScore

As The Fintech Times in September celebrates the Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the leading female leaders in Asia. One of them is Diana Krumova, originally from Bulgaria, who is an expert in fintech, specifically in alternative credit scoring and lending.

Diana Krumova

Diana Krumova started her career in fintech as early as the word became a definition of a new and booming industry with the potential to change the life of millions of people around the world. She joined a small lending company in Bulgaria, revolutionizing the way unbanked people can access finance. As the company grew internationally, she moved to the Philippines where 80% of the population lacks access to financial services. There, she realized that a single lending company cannot have a national impact and that a new approach is needed to solve for the lack of reliable information and credit history that prevents many lending institutions and banks to offer services to the financially excluded population.

She founded FinScore, Inc, alongside a team of experienced data scientists and IT experts in the field. FinScore is a technology and data analytics company specializing in alternative data-based scoring solutions, providing services to banks and financial institutions, and helping them serve the unbanked. FinScore is the first company in the Philippines to have successfully utilized telco data to enable them to extend credit and provides critical knowledge and insights about the creditworthiness of first-time borrowers. For less than two years of operations, FinScore partners with over 15 Financial Institutions and banks and has delivered more than 3.5 million credit scores, leading to over $500 million in granted loans.

Describe your career journey so far…

I started my career in Bulgaria in 2011, as part of Cash Credit, a technological non-banking financial institution, a pioneer in offering unsecured lending in partnership with Telecom Operators. This revolutionary approach allowed us to grow fast and profitable by obtaining highly valuable data from an objective source. We found that the behaviour and reputation of the subscriber on the mobile network operator predict exactly his behaviour as a borrower as well. In 2016, I was leading the South East Asia team of Cash Credit where we have launched the first operations in the Philippines. We have completed a very successful pilot granting unsecured credits to more than 50,000 unbanked Filipinos in collaboration with the leading telecom provider. Recognizing the growing demand both for financial services and reliable alternative sources of data, FinScore was founded in 2018. My passion is designing innovative products that can help to solve the financial inclusion problem in developing markets and contribute to creating cheaper and faster access to finance.

As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?

It’s a well -known fact that too few women work in the FinTech industry, but we can notice a significant change in this direction, especially in the Philippines. Women, in general, are less likely to be perceived as natural leaders and need to work harder than men to climb the corporate ladder. And it often leads to an imbalance in the personal-work life. I think it is one of the greatest challenges for most women in executive positions. I remember a class at INSEAD Business School. It was mentioned that higher employment rate among women leads to lower birth rates in Western countries. I tend to slightly disagree with this statement as I believe that the causal relationship between the two is not that straightforward. I think that the biggest challenge for women is to believe in equality and not to go into the false dilemma of choosing between the two. This requires conviction, personal style, and clear, honest communication on the subject with your immediate peers. This is far more important than just trying to compete or imitate the men’s style that is simply not fitting to the needs of women leaders. My mother is a perfect example of that and she was my role model in designing my terms in my professional environment. It’s from her that I’ve learned to respect my dreams and life enough, to not compromise on certain actions but also to own my decisions and actions and always look for a solution in tough times.

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region? 

As the COVID-19 pandemic rewrites the rules for lives and businesses alike, the current situation will present an opportunity for financial institutions to make the leap and go digital. Although the top banks in Southeast Asia, already had digital transformation strategies, many will accelerate their digitalization efforts as a result of the disruption. During the last months, banks and financial institutions sped up their digital transformation and we as FinScore play a role in it because we are digital by design. We all witness how the Covid-19 pandemic is introducing long-lasting changes to consumer behaviour and digital adoption in South East Asia. During this stressful time, we need to focus on helping each other and assisting clients and partners as they respond and adapt. My prediction is that the boost that we have seen from the lockdowns will have a positive effect also on the work-life balance as the home office will stay for good as a way companies can function.

What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in Asia?

I think that giving advice is a very responsible action and an individual approach always fits better. This is why I dedicate part of my time to mentoring and I am always happy to share my experience. If I need to outline two general pieces of advice for the current and future female entrepreneurs, this would be to 1) be authentic – nothing makes you a better leader than having your own style that emerges from personal experience and open communication in dealing with professional challenges and 2) share your vision – the discussions and thought exchange process is very important to shaping the company and for growing as an individual.

  • 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.

National Insider Threat Awareness Month: 3 Tips to Mitigate the Danger of Departing Employees

National Insider Threat Awareness Month, celebrated every September, aims to emphasise the importance of detecting, deterring, and reporting insider threats. As the month draws to a close, Tim Bandos, Vice President of Cyber Security at Digital Guardian, explains what organisations can do to mitigate the insider threat of departing employees.

Tim Bandos, Digital Guardian

Every year, the comprehensive Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) provides a deep dive into the latest trends in cybersecurity incidents. The 2019 report found that insider threat incidents have been on the rise again for the last four years and worryingly, are now responsible for 34 percent of all data breaches.

Insider threats can range from absent-minded employees to disgruntled third parties, meaning organisations have to be extremely vigilant for any signs of wrongdoing. However, perhaps the most potent threat comes from one particular subset – departing employees.

This article looks at some of the most common security concerns surrounding departing employees including the risks they pose, the motivations behind their behaviour and importantly, what organisations can do to mitigate the threat.

The danger of departing employees 

Departing employees have always posed big problems for organisations of all sizes and for good reason. Not only do they have the necessary access and knowledge of where sensitive data resides, but in many cases, they also have a motive.

Of course, not all motives are malicious in nature. In some instances, it may just be a desire to take copies of their work with them for posterity or future reference, but in other cases it could be to give/sell to a competitor or leak to the media. Whatever the motive may be, any form of data loss at the hands of a departing employee can be extremely damaging, both financially and from a reputational perspective (or both).

Unfortunately, due to the unknown variables involved, organisations are at a major disadvantage when going up against this type of threat, which is why it’s so important to monitor for telltale activity and behaviour that might give a potential insider threat away before it’s too late.

Effectively mitigating the threat

The best approaches combine the right technology with a robust process. First and foremost, visibility is needed on endpoints, as well as wherever data is leaving or transferring across the company. At a minimum, businesses should be able to track all types of file movement and data egress, and at least provide an audit trail of what each employee has been up to prior to departure. That way, an employee’s behaviour between the time they hand in their notice and their departure can be closely monitored and even presented to them at their exit interview for explanation/clarification if necessary.

There are several signs to look for that can give away a departing employee as an insider threat. One of the most common ones is spikes in data movement volume, i.e. large data egress to USB type devices or cloud storage sites like Dropbox or Google Drive. Other key solutions include: 

  1. Utilising a data loss prevention solution

If a business has a data loss prevention (DLP) solution in place, it’s possible to tag files by level of sensitivity, making it easier to identify how confidential the data being taken is. For example, if confidential files are being attached to emails and sent to a personal domain like a Gmail or Hotmail against company policy, DLP would flag this. A security analyst can then investigate the incident to establish the intent of the individual sending the file and how sensitive its content was.

2. Leveraging machine learning

More recently, security vendors have started to leverage machine learning in their solutions to take the strain off analysts, who historically have had to manually investigate every alert created.  Machine learning has another trick up its sleeve as well – the ability to create baseline behaviour for an individual or a computer over time. Once created, anything outside of an employee or computer’s ‘normal’ activity will be automatically flagged for further analysis, making it much faster for security teams to weed out suspicious behaviour.

3. Recognising who or what is accessing information

It’s also important to remember that size isn’t everything and large amounts of data egress aren’t always cause for alarm. Often, it can simply be the result of corporate data backups taking place. On the flip side, many sensitive trade secrets can be stolen in just a single file, which is why it’s so important to know exactly who or what is accessing this kind of information and ensuring the right level of protection is in place around it.

Fortunately, the tactics used by departing employees haven’t changed dramatically in the last 15+ years. While there might occasionally be a rogue employee with the technical know-how to hide stolen data in an image file and leverage steganography to sneak it out, such cases are extremely few and far between. As such, with the right safeguards and mechanisms in place to monitor for telltale behaviour and challenge employees where necessary, businesses of all shapes and sizes can make great strides towards minimising or even eliminating the threat posed by this group.

  • 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.

Ephesoft and Fortude Partner to Boost Intelligent Document Processing

A new global alliance between Ephesoft and Fortude will make it easier for businesses all over the world to unlock and extract enterprise data in documents and fulfill their digital transformation goals. The partnership, announced today, combines Fortude’s experience as an enterprise and technology solution provider with Ephesoft-powered Infor Document Management (IDM) Capture to help ensure that “customers get the data they need quickly,” Ephesoft founder and CEO Ike Kavas said.

“At Ephesoft, we focus on creating an exceptional customer experience from beginning to end. Partnerships with leading consulting and implementation organizations, like Fortude, enable us to expedite business process around the globe for our joint customers,” Kavas added.

Specifically, the partnership will draw upon Fortude’s experience in helping customers implement and manage Infor’s Cloudsuite and other solutions. Here, customers using IDM Capture will enjoy up to a 4x increase in processed invoices each day, and a faster process time of 36 seconds per invoice. Customers can be up and running with IDM Capture with minimal time and effort, enabling users to automatically capture, classify, and extract data and export it into any Infor solution.

“This strategic partnership with Ephesoft will allow us to accelerate implementations, and in turn provide customers a way to access information to make more insightful decisions and drive productivity,” Fortune Managing Director Arjuna Sirinanda said. “We help our customers optimize their product lifecycle and ensure business continuity. Offering businesses the ability to easily unlock their data with an intelligent document processing solution will help further our goals.”

Most recently demonstrating its technology at FinovateSpring 2018 (this year, FinovateWest Digital), Ephesoft has been an innovator in intelligent document processing since its founding ten years ago. Headquartered in Irvine, California, and maintaining offices throughout the U.S., EMEA, and Asia-Pacific, the company released a new version of its cloud-based document processing solution Transact in July. Shortlisted for the Global 2020 SaaS Award in August, Ephesoft announced that CEO Kavas had similarly made the finals in the Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 Pacific Southwest-Orange County Awards.

Affirm’s loan appetite grows after COVID pullback

Share Point-of-sale lender Affirm is gradually expanding its credit to focus on repeat customers and certain merchant categories, after initially reeling in its loan appetite at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Chief Strategy and Risk Officer Sandeep Bhandari said during the LendIt Fintech USA 2020 conference today. Affirm took “very quick, decisive action” in …Read More

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Blend deepens push into consumer banking

Share Blend is continuing to expand beyond its original business of white-label mortgage application technology. Last week, the San Francisco-based digital lending platform launched new application technology for personal loans, credit cards and specialty vehicle loans. “We want to enable banks and financial institutions to be there as trusted advisors for every financial milestone and …Read More

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Finovate Alums Take Top Honors at Lendit Fintech Awards

Lendit Fintech announced the winners of its fourth annual Lendit Finitech Industry Awards this week. And out of the 500+ entries competing for awards in 13 different categories, Finovate alums left the stage with nearly half of them.

Taking the highest honor as Fintech Innovator of the Year was Stash. The New York-based mobile-first investment platform made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall 2017, demonstrating its Stash Retire solution. This year marks the second year in a row that Stash has picked up Lendit’s top prize in this category. Fellow Finovate alum Marqeta was among the category’s finalists.

Also winning award categories were:

  • Plaid for Innovations in Digital Banking
  • Urjanet and Equifax for Most Promising Partnership
  • Visa for Top Service Provider
  • Blend for Top Technology Service Provider.
  • CircleUp for Top Small Business Lending Platform

“Our purpose at Lendit Fintech is to elevate and celebrate the achievements of others,” co-founder and CEO of Lendit Fintech Bo Brustkern explained in a statement. “This year has been a hard year for many bank and fintechs, and the many enterprises that support them. Now more than ever we need a reason to come together – even if it’s virtually – to recognize and applaud excellence in these circumstances.”

Other companies earning awards were Upstart for Top Consumer Lending Platform, PeerStreet for Top Real Estate Platform, BlockFi for Emerging Lending Platform of the Year, Orrick for Top Law Firm, and Branch for Excellence in Financial Inclusion. Two individuals were also recognized: Colin Walsh, founder and CEO of Varo Money, as Executive of the Year and Nicky Goulimis, COO and co-founder of Nova Credit, as Fintech Woman of the Year.

A number of other Finovate alums earned finalist spots in this year’s competition. Both Lending Club and SoFi competed as finalists in the Consumer Lending Platform category. And BlueVine provided a strong Finovate alum showing in the Small Business Lending Platform group.

Credit is also due to Finovate alum Mambu as a finalist (along with Stash) in the Innovations in Digital Banking category, and to both Finicity and Ocrolus, which competed in the finals of the Top Technology Service Provider category.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Goldman shakes up units in fresh push to win over investors

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. shuffled its business lines and announced a raft of management changes, carving out new divisions aligned with a strategy pivot unveiled earlier this year.

The firm is combining asset management and merchant banking as part of its push to raise more client funds for investing instead of betting its own money. The bank also created a new consumer and wealth-management division co-led by Stephanie Cohen, one of the firm’s most-senior female bankers.

Top executives at the firm have groused that investors don’t recognize Goldman’s advantages in business lines beyond just dealmaking and trading, its traditional strengths. Since David Solomon took over as chief executive officer in 2018, he’s sought to emphasize those businesses and organize them into more recognizable silos. The firm’s share price still lags behind Morgan Stanley over the two years Solomon’s been in charge.

In handing off a new business to Cohen, Goldman also helps address a glaring shortfall in its top ranks, where there wasn’t a single woman among the top dozen executives overseeing major decisions or running money-making units. The departure of trading co-head Isabelle Ealet in 2018 coincided with the end of Lloyd Blankfein’s tenure as CEO.

Read more about Stephanie Cohen’s career

Eric Lane and Julian Salisbury will lead the combined asset-management and merchant bank. Lane previously ran the investment-management group, which also included Goldman’s consumer and wealth operations. Salisbury was named last year to lead the merchant bank.

It also tackles a uniquely Goldman problem: The firm has been wary of having one person lead an entire division. The merchant bank was left in that situation with Salisbury’s ascent following the exit of the previous division heads, whose departure was announced in February. Merging the asset-management group with the merchant bank aligns with the new push for client funds and restores the practice of having at least two executives in charge.

Other changes:

Cohen and Tucker York will lead the consumer and wealth-management business. Cohen was Goldman’s chief strategy officer and, before that, rose up through the investment bank.

The bank also announced Omer Ismail will become the new head of its nascent consumer business, replacing Harit Talwar, who will become chairman of the group.

—Sridhar Natarajan (Bloomberg)

Bitpanda Raises $52 Million in Round Led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures

Digital asset platform Bitpanda announced a round of venture funding today. The $52 million Series A round marks the largest Series A round in Europe so far this year.

The round was led by Valar Ventures, a VC firm backed by Peter Thiel. Today’s investment, combined with Bitpanda’s $51 million ICO last year and undisclosed venture round last year, brings its total funding to over $103 million.

As part of the agreement, Andrew McCormack and James Fitzgerald from Valar Ventures will join Bitpanda’s board. “With their extensive track record in growing digital champions like PayPal in its early years and supporting Peter Thiel during its IPO and eventual sale to eBay in 2002, we are more than confident in the choice,” Bitpanda CEO and Co-founder Eric Demuth said.

The company will use the funds to promote geographical expansion. Specifically, after its successful launches in France, Spain, and Turkey this year, Bitpanda plans to expand to more European countries before year-end.

The investment will also be used to “bring the Bitpanda platform and all our services to a new level.” The company has already slated new products for launch, including a new stock trading tool which will launch in 2021.

Much of Bitpanda’s focus is on financial empowerment and the democratization of investment. “Bitpanda will become an investment platform for asset classes for everyone,” Demuth said. “We will provide education, empower our users to take their future into their own hands and remove all those barriers that prevent people from taking part.”

Founded in 2014, Bitpanda has seen significant growth this year, boosting its client base to more than 1.3 million. Additionally, the company has brought on more than 70 new employees this year and plans to boost its total workforce to more than 300 by the end of this year.

Photo by billow926 on Unsplash

Amazon launches palm payment option

Amazon launches palm payment optionPhoto provided.

Amazon is launching a palm payment technology in two Amazon Go stores to speed up the checkout process, simplify the shopping experience and enhance the retail customer experience — and, at some point, plans to sell it to other retailers and companies.

The Amazon One technology, now in play in two Seattle stores, features hardware that captures the tiny characteristic of a person’s palm, such as lines and ridges and even vein patterns, to create a palm signature. The omnichannel retailer said it is treating the palm data as important as any other sensitive personal data.

“We’re always looking for ways to make our customers’ lives better, and one area where we’ve spent time innovating is the customer shopping experience in stores. Today, our physical retail team is excited to introduce a new innovation called Amazon One. Amazon One is a fast, convenient, contactless way for people to use their palm to make everyday activities like paying at a store, presenting a loyalty card, entering a location like a stadium, or badging into work more effortless. The service is designed to be highly secure and uses custom-built algorithms and hardware to create a person’s unique palm signature,” stated Dilip Kumar, VP, physical retail & technology, in a Amazon blog post today announcing the technology.

While launching initially in the two Amazon Go stores Amazon clearly has plans to sell the technology.

“In most retail environments, Amazon One could become an alternate payment or loyalty card option with a device at the checkout counter next to a traditional point of sale system. Or, for entering a location like a stadium or badging into work, Amazon One could be part of an existing entry point to make accessing the location quicker and easier,” wrote Kumar.

It takes less than 60 seconds for shoppers to sign up to use Amazon One. The first step is inserting a credit card into the device and then hovering a palm over the device and following prompts to connect the card with the palm signature created. Shoppers can enroll one or both palms.

“Beyond Amazon Go, we expect to add Amazon One as an option in additional Amazon stores in the coming months. And, we believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores, so we also plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums, and office buildings so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience in more places. Interested third parties can reach out through the email address provided on our Amazon One website,” wrote Kumar.

Amazon chose palm recognition as it’s viewed as more private than other biometric options and because it takes an intentional gesture to use the device.