Banking Reports CEO makes 2021 predictions

Fintech thought leaders will be offering their predictions for the year to come — in fact, David Gyori, chief executive of Banking Reports, offers 21. The CEO provides two-day fintech training sessions for bankers, giving lessons on topics such as digital payments and trends in marketing. Bank Innovation examined Gyori’s 21 predictions and highlighted the […]

Are Banks Able To Keep Up With UPI’s Growth?

In a development substantiating its position as India’s flag-bearer of FinTech innovation, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) crossed the 2,210 million mark in Volume and INR 3,90,999.15 crore by Value in November. Going by the growth numbers in transaction volume and value, UPI continues to ride the wave in the Indian payments landscape. It looks like Indians have adopted this payment method due to the convenience it provides.

Three major stakeholders participate in facilitating UPI transactions. The first is the technology itself, UPI; the second is the payment app/banking app, and the third is the bank account.  In this article, we analyze all the above three parameters to observe their progress this year.

Cybersecurity: Chargebacks911, iProov and ThetaRay in View from the Top

There are plenty of defining years in the history books, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost certain that the global pandemic will ensure that this year is featured prominently. With events cancelled, launches delayed, and country-wide lockdowns, the way we work has changed forever. Still, for financial technology and surrounding industries, this was also a year of challenge and opportunity. 

This December, The Fintech Times is asking industry leaders for their ‘View from the Top’ to gain an insight into the decisions behind the last 12-months. Today, we’re looking at the issue of Cybersecurity, hearing from Monica Eaton-Cardone, Andrew Bud, and Mark Gazit on their 2020 thoughts, plus a look ahead to 2021. Will there be a Happy New Year? Read on…

With people having to live the majority of their lives online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an unfortunate bi-product has been the increase of cybersecurity attacks and incidents of fraud. As a solution to this, fintechs have risen up to fill the increased demand for cybersecurity, which is unlikely to wane any time soon. In this View from the Top, companies Chargebacks911, iProov and ThetaRay outline their own 2020 experience.

Monica Eaton-Cardone, Co-Founder and COO, Chargebacks911

Monica Eaton-Cardone is Co-Founder and COO of Chargebacks911, a global company fully dedicated to mitigating chargeback risk and eliminating chargeback fraud. She has seen an increase of fraud this year, that she thinks will carry on into the new year. 

This really has been a year like no other. With Covid-19 sweeping across the globe and strict lockdown measures in place, businesses across all sectors have had to enter the digital sphere, stimulating a 74% growth in online shopping.

“While this has been a hugely positive step for many, those operating in the online space have faced challenges, especially when it comes to chargebacks. Some industries have experienced 10 times the amount of payment disputes prior to the pandemic. This has happened for several reasons.

“Merchants have been facing issues with orders, deliveries, spikes in web traffic, new technology integrations, UX, and more. Simultaneously, friendly fraud has become increasingly easier to commit, since consumers are shrouded by anonymity when shopping online and contactless deliveries mean merchants can’t confirm if packages arrive safely.

“Changing consumer behaviour has also fuelled the growth of friendly fraud. Sadly, some customers impacted by furlough and job losses have turned to the chargeback system to recoup money spent on previous purchases.

“As we head into 2021, these issues aren’t likely to disappear, even when we dare to explore a world after the pandemic. Customers have become comfortable with e-commerce being a staple point of their shopping experience and businesses are embracing their newfound online capacities. 

“Following this mass digitisation across many industries, it will be more important than ever for businesses to mitigate chargebacks. It will go a long way towards protecting bottom lines as merchants start to recover.”

Andrew Bud, Founder and CEO, iProov

For Andrew Bud CBE, Founder & CEO of iProov – a provider of online biometric authentication – his thoughts remain around onboarding and the potential security issues around it. 

“Within the next 12 months, banking regulators in global territories – including Europe and the Far East – will authorise the use of automated biometrics instead of video calling for remote Know Your Customer (KYC) processes. 

“Just as in 2019, when a well-publicised voice fraud scam duped a high-profile CEO, by the end of the year there will have been several criminal money-laundering scandals arising from the use of deepfakes in video calls. 

“Countering this could very well mean that several countries, including the United States, also take concrete steps towards instituting government-backed digital identities. This will be an important step towards enabling financial institutions and government departments to verify identity and mitigate fraud in bank onboarding and government support programmes.” 

“Recent months have seen all parts of the family, and all age groups, being forced to familiarise themselves with apps, web and video-calling technology out of necessity. This should be treated as a real opportunity to provide them with access to services that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. In 2021, this will result in three things. 

“First, the password, which has long been the bane of many people’s online interactions, will be replaced by simpler authentication methods. Passwords are too complicated – they prevent people from using online services and don’t offer the inclusivity that simplified authentication via biometrics provides.

“Second, if progress in this area continues to be made in 2021, it’s possible that worldwide as many as 100 million people over the age of 70 will possess digital IDs, with the concept of the ‘digital power of attorney’ very soon becoming a reality. 

“Third, many of the people using technology for the first time – elderly people or those less experienced with tech – are also often the ones who are most susceptible to online manipulation. Creating ways of safeguarding individuals online will move further up the agenda.”

Mark Gazit, President and CEO, ThetaRay

Mark Gazit is president and CEO of ThetaRay and a top financial crime and cybersecurity expert. He thinks that the use of artificial intelligence is going to become crucial in the cybersecurity world. 

“I predict that AI will become even more important to the financial industry, especially during the current global health crisis. The ability of banks to know and identify their customers has become more difficult. It has become incredibly challenging to create rules and build automation-based systems when customer behaviour has changed so drastically. Banks now require computers that can take the place of very senior, experienced bankers and investigators. Criminals are increasingly using AI to commit financial cybercrime, so banks need an advanced level of Artificial Intelligence and intuition to detect and defeat them.

“The world of international payments is also changing before our eyes. Due to the global health crisis, international travel has come to a near-standstill. Cash is being controlled more stringently all over the world, and some countries have even banned its use. However, global payments are crucial, and bank customers need new solutions. The correspondent banking system is historically the most effective method of connecting developing economies to the global financial system, but criminals are increasingly using it to launder funds related to narco-trafficking, terrorist funding and human trafficking. I predict that 2021 will find banks investing in advanced AI technologies that can detect criminal activity hidden within complex correspondent banking transactions and stop the money laundering crisis for good.

“Finally, I believe we will see the government developing stronger controls on money movement to make sure national aid payments get where they are supposed to go and aren’t stolen and laundered by criminal organisations or nation-states.”

A Year in Fintech: 2021 Mergers and Acquisitions

Through successful mergers and acquisitions (M&As) companies can accelerate growth, boost revenue, improve cash flow and integrate new employees and new ways of doing business. Here we round up some of the notable fintech industry M&As of 2020 – from January to December.


Payments giant Visa revealed its intention to acquire open banking platform Plaid for $5.3billion in cash. However, 11 months later and the US Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to stop the deal.

It said Plaid’s established connections and technology uniquely positions it to enter the payments market and disrupt Visa’s monopoly.

Visa hit back with the argument that the DOJ’s objection was ‘legally flawed and contradicted by the facts’. The debate will continue into 2021…


On to February, and Intuit outlined plans to acquire Credit Karma. The deal, valued at $8.1billion, eventually completed in December. Credit Karma sold its tax-prep product to Square in November in order for the acquisition to get the nod from the US Department of Justice.

Also this month, Southeast Asian app Grab announced it had acquired Singapore-based wealth tech start-up Bento. Later, Bento was rebranded as GrabInvest, while new products were launched in South-East Asia.


behind the idea FISERV

behind the idea FISERV

behind the idea: fiserv

Payments provider Fiserv snapped up enterprise point-of-sale systems specialist Bypass Mobile. The acquisition built on an existing relationship that saw their combined technology in more than 50 major stadiums and arenas. In December, Fiserv also acquired digital card services platform Ondot.

We also saw a merger between Aon and Willis Towers Watson, creating one of the largest HR consulting firm and insurance brokers.

Meanwhile, Spanish authorities approved SIX Group’s purchase of Bolsas y Mercados Españoles for €2.8billion. But it took until June for the deal to be completed. Following the acquisition, SIX and BME became the third largest financial market infrastructure group in Europe and 10th largest worldwide.


In April, personal finance firm SoFi signalled its intent to buy payments provider Galileo Financial Technologies for $1.2billion. Also that month, SoFi added another acquisition to its tally in a deal with trading app 8 Securities in Hong Kong.




Singapore-based fintech startup GoBear moved into consumer lending with the acquisition of fintech AsiaKredit in May. GoBear said it would use the platform to provide its 100 banking and insurance partners with a lending-as-a-service facility for underserved consumers in South East Asia and Hong Kong.


Cryptocurrency-trading service Square scooped up Verse, the Spain-based peer-to-peer (P2P) payments app. Verse’s team joined the Cash App division within Square. Square said the plan was for Verse to operate as an independent business, with no immediate changes to their existing products, customers or branding.

Mastercard revealed it would buy Finicity, a provider of real-time access to financial insights, in a deal valued at $825million. Finicity’s apps include the Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgages and Experian Boost platforms which use data to help improve credit scores.

Meanwhile, Credit Sesame acquired Canadian challenger bank STACK. The deal followed their prior collaboration to develop the Sesame Cash banking service. As well as combining their technology, all STACK employees were ‘seamlessly integrated’ into Credit Sesame.


On to July, and global online investment platform eToro acquired e-money platform Marq Millions ahead of the launch of a new debit card. Following the acquisition, Marq Millions is now trading as eToro Money.

Amex Acquires Kabbage

Amex Acquires Kabbage

Amex Acquires Kabbage


This month, American Express agreed to buy all of fintech Kabbage. Under the terms of the agreement, American Express would acquire Kabbage’s team, as well as its products, data platform and IP built for small businesses.


Fintech Ohpen acquires loan and mortgage software company Davinci. The Dutch cloud-based banking system said the deal would lead it to offer a full suite of products across savings, investments, loans, mortgages and current accounts.

Will they or won’t they? Russian tech giant Yandex agreed a $5.5billion deal to buy Tinkoff, the country’s top online bank. At the time, it was suggested the cash and share deal would be worth about $5.48billion. Yet, one month later and the mega deal was off! Reports suggest the merger was cancelled after Tinkoff’s billionaire founder Oleg Tinkov walked away from negotiations.

Paystack is joining Stripe

Paystack is joining Stripe

Paystack to join Stripe


In a more straightforward deal, Stripe revealed plans to acquire Paystack in order to accelerate online commerce across Africa. More than 60,000 businesses in Nigeria and Ghana use Paystack to securely collect online and offline payments. The pair said the acquisition is the culmination of a close partnership between Stripe and Paystack over the last several years.


Italy’s Nexi agreed a €7.8 billion all-share merger with Nordic rival Nets. The pair said the deal would create a leading pan-European paytech player offering ‘future-proof innovative payment solutions’.

Also this month, Nordic Capital signed an agreement with management and technology consulting firm BearingPoint to acquire BearingPoint Regtech.

Then, Mogo expanded into the global B2B fintech market with acquisition of digital payments firm Carta Worldwide. Carta is currently operating in Europe, Asia and Canada and recently expanded into the US market.


Finally, Wahed, the US-based Islamic finance fintech backed by Saudi Aramco, acquires upcoming UK digital banking app Niyah. The move is part of Wahed’s ambition to become the leading ‘one-stop-shop’ for Shariah-compliant financial services. Once Niyah has launched in the UK, Wahed also plans to target North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.



2020: Wirecard

Throughout the second half of this year, we saw the sell-off of the disgraced German payments fintech Wirecard. US-based holding company Syncapay snapped up its North America business. Bulgaria’s Paynetics acquired the corporate pay-out card portfolio of Wirecard UK and Ireland. While Railsbank purchased the assets and technology of Wirecard Card Solution.

In addition, Santander has agreed to buy specialised technology assets from the company. Change Financial also agreed to buy Wirecard’s assets in Australia and New Zealand, while identity firm IDnow picked up the firm’s communication services unit. Meanwhile, Portuguese payments processor Sibs acquired Wirecard’s operations in Romania.

Look back on all our Bi-Weekly News Roundups.

Coin Cloud deploys 1,250th kiosk

Coin Cloud, a digital currency machine company, has recently installed its 1,250th kiosk. This milestone for the company coincides with widespread digital currency adoption, according to a press release.

Coin Cloud is the only national operator of 100% two-way DCMs. These machines empower users to buy and sell bitcoin and numerous other digital currencies with cash at any Coin Cloud location. Currently, 61% of two-way DCMs in the U.S. are owned and operated by the company. The company has also introduced digital currency to consumers in mainstream retail by providing more than 5 million transactions to customers across 40 states and Brazil.

“Our 1,250th installation is the result of exponential growth. We deployed over 50 kiosks this week during the holidays, and doubled our installed base every six months for the last two years,” Chris McAlary, CEO of Coin Cloud said in the release. “It’s exciting to see consumer and retailer demand for DCMs grow so quickly. People want more control over their finances, and we’re living proof of digital currency’s mainstream acceptance.”

3 payments trends to watch in 2021

As 2021 rapidly approaches, many of us are hoping for better days after the whirlwind year of 2020. While COVID-19 has certainly had an impact on every industry, certain trends that began in 2019 continued to develop in 2020, and some of them may even blossom fully in 2021.

As 2021 rapidly approaches, many of us are hoping for better days after the whirlwind year of 2020. While COVID-19 has certainly had an impact on every industry, certain trends that began in 2019 continued to develop in 2020, and some of them may even blossom fully in 2021.

Cashless will become a reality

The idea of a cashless society has been on our radar for quite some time, and COVID-19 has only sped it up. As people have started to prefer their own cards or phones to cash, some stores have begun to ditch cash entirely.

I think we can say with some certainty that in 2021, cashless will become highly standard in many businesses and regions, however, it will still have to deal with the elephant in the room: the underbanked.

One reason local governments and advocacy organizations alike have opposed stores going cashless is because they argue it discriminates against the underbanked who cannot so easily access bank accounts.

But that issue too might be less of a problem in 2021 as fintechs step up to the plate.

Fintechs tackle underbanking

Fintechs have already begun the process of taking underbanking head on with multiple apps that directly help the less financially fortunate and that trend will likely intensify in 2021.

With traditional banking institutions, it can be difficult for the poor to afford an account due to fees and lack of tools that attend to their needs. Fintech companies are beginning to address this through no fee accounts, microloans and tools for customers on government assistance.

This market still has a ways to go however as 1.7 billion people worldwide are underbanked, according to the World Bank, and 5.4% million people in the U.S. population remains underbanked, according to the FDIC, so 2021 is the right time for it to take off.

Speaking of taking off, no discussion of payments trends would be complete without mentioning the blockchain.

The blockchain makes it big

It may sound like a broken record to say it, but blockchain really is making massive strides. When both national governments and massive financial institutions begin embracing it, you know it’s headed for big places, and 2021 is only going to continue in that trend.

For one, we will likely see blockchain make a big impact in cross-border payments and settlements as organizations ranging from stock exchanges and banks alike adopt it to deliver faster and cheaper payments.

On another level, blockchain will help democratize payments as users are able to send payments directly to others on a blockchain while avoiding expensive fees. Blockchain technology will also help ensure more secure payments by acting as an immutable database.

Of course, these are only a few ways blockchain will impact 2021. For example, it may possibly deliver far more secure voting methods, and organizations such as AP already used it this year to confirm 2020 election results. On the same level, these are just a few of the payments trends we will see in 2021. For that reason, we will always keep our eyes and ears peeled for the next big thing.

GTP and Tutuka form strategic alliance

Global Technology Partners, a bank-centric platform used in West and Central Africa, and Tutuka, a global processor with a leading-edge processing platform used primarily in African countries, announced that they have entered into a strategic agreement.

The partnership will provide fintechs and banks in African countries with the most robust payment card system on Visa and Mastercard rails, according to a press release.

The partnership will focus on the issuance of companion cards, either virtual or physical, that provide a positive cardholder experience and enables clients to capitalize on the fast-growing market in African nations.

Together, both entities will be able to provide clients with processing, BIN sponsorship, and quick-to-market implementation in one integrated package.

“We’re looking forward to making a start in select African countries, where jointly we can provide an accelerated time-to-market execution for our partners,” Rowan Brewer, CEO Tutuka said in the release.

Eastern Union accepting applications for PPP loans at no charge

Business owners nationwide can now register for Paycheck Protection Program loans at no charge under the second round of the Small Business Administration PPP program through Eastern Union, a commercial real estate finance firm, according to a press release.

During the first round of PPP loans in the spring, Eastern Union, at no charge to applicants, brokered more than 10,000 loan applications for employers across the country. The company will again broker applications at no cost to loan seekers.

“The sooner a PPP loan application is submitted, the better its odds of getting funded,” Ira Zlotowitz, founder and president of Eastern Union said in the release. “Building upon our formidable record of success in brokering PPP loans, we urge business owners to act quickly to get their loan applications into the system.”

Small business owners can apply for PPP loans at

FDCTech, IS Prime partner to extend client reach

FDCTech Inc. a fintech company with a full suite of FX technology and business solutions and IS Prime, a division of ISAM Capital Markets, have partnered to extend FDC’s distribution of its flagship product, Condor FX Pro Trading Platform, according to a press release.

Condor FX Pro Trading Platform provides a complete trading suite for retail brokers, fund managers, and traders with proprietary charting tools, advanced order types, level II pricing, multi-tier margin management, and regulatory reporting tools.

“A number of our clients use FDC as a front-to-back solution, and it is important for us to connect with the platforms our clients choose to use. Condor FX Pro Trading Platform is a relatively new platform which is rapidly gaining traction globally, and this partnership will extend our client reach, giving FDC clients the opportunity to have easy access to our highly competitive multi-asset liquidity,” Barry Flanigan, head of distribution and liquidity, IS Prime, said in the release.

IOSCO publishes report on crypto-assets risk to investors

The Board of the International Organization of Securities Commissions released a report entitled, “InvestorEducationonCryptoAssets,” to help regulators educate retail investors about the risks of crypto-assets, according to a press release.

Crypto-assets carry risks that could increase the chance of losses to an investor’s assets. The IOSCO report identifies an array of possible risks including lack of market liquidity, volatility, partial or total loss of the invested amount, insufficient information disclosure and fraud.

InvestCloud: How Gamification Boosts Digital Engagement for Financial Institutions

Due to the global pandemic, the world has seen a huge push to digitalisation. Whether it’s our social lives, work lives or our financial ones, everything is now available online.

Mark Trousdale, EVP, serves as InvestCloud’s Chief Growth Officer (CGO). In this role, Mark is responsible for growing InvestCloud’s adoption and revenue in a consistent fashion, currently focused on the UK and broader EMEA, and headquartered in London.

Here Mark shares his view on how gamification boosts digital engagement for financial institutions.

Mark Trousdale, Chief Growth Officer, InvestCloud

In 2020, so much of our lives are lived online and thanks to prolific digitisation, it’s our attention that so many businesses are competing for. But how do some businesses manage to capture user attention while others see so much bounce? To compete effectively, businesses must create platforms that make holding a consumer’s attention easy and intuitive, increasing engagement and retention. This seems simple to do for social media and online shopping, but Financial Institutions (FIs) need to invest and be deliberate in doing this as well. For FIs it’s not just about providing the right services online – it’s also about ensuring their services and experiences are engaging.

Within the realm of FIs, new ways of improving the digital customer experience have been developed, such as hyper-personalisation of content and more intuitive and accessible digital experiences. But now that most institutions can offer at least some of these digital experiences, they need something more to make them ‘sticky’ – regardless of whether the customer is a private client or an individual representing an institution.

The key here is to develop empathetic and engaging digital offerings. For potential and existing clients alike, digital needs to be multi-channel and offer the user multiple ways to engage with the FI on their own terms. It is also vital to engage at multiple points along the digital continuum as a user travels from the public website to a pre-client portal, and on to a client portal.

To do this empathetically, many FIs are turning to gamified digital experiences to keep customers engaged as their relationship progresses.

Changing the game

Gamification is not a new concept. In recent years, social media companies have harnessed it to great effect – making their platforms indispensable by imbuing them with genuinely compelling features as well as instilling empathetic incentive and reward systems into the experiences. Think of push notifications to encourage a sense of urgency or how they develop a sense of community amongst the millions of people who log in daily.

These same principles can be effectively translated onto an FI’s own digital offerings. For individual clients, it makes it more worthwhile and encourages them to engage with the institution. For organisations, it makes the experience more compelling compared to the other applications they must use day-in and day-out. The net result is the same, regardless of the type of end-user: greater loyalty and higher satisfaction.

There are other less obvious business benefits to implementing these techniques. Gamification is also a powerful tool for data collection – the heart of any financial firm.

A good example is how LinkedIn harnesses data to obtain as much information as possible from its users. The platform displays what InvestCloud terms a visual Progression Dynamic when you log in – it tells you what is missing and why missing data is limiting. It shows you what you can achieve by entering all your information, including persuasive statistics regarding the engagement you could achieve with employers or employees on the platform, depending on how up to date and thorough their profile is. This can trigger the competitive urge to complete, resulting in increased data input by the platform user.

This sort of digital experience trope is ripe for the plucking when it comes to onboarding clients. Imagine getting and persuading the client to enter as much information as possible without having to manually prompt. Then imagine what an FI can achieve and the value they can add when armed with that kind of data.

Informing decisions

Ensuring engagement and data collection is only one side. If gamification is about staying close to the client and encouraging them to engage with the platform, then decision theory is another behavioural science strategy that ensures they remain on-side and understand the points you are making.

Understanding how and why clients make certain decisions means financial institutions can tailor the information they receive and when they receive it. This is particularly true in investment management, as each investor will take a different approach. Some are risk-averse and make decisions based on a herd mentality and will therefore benefit from information about the decisions their peer group are making.

Others are ambitious and willing to weather more volatility in exchange for potentially higher returns. In either case, understanding the investor’s approach helps advisers present them with the right information at the right time.

This is also known as availability bias. Customers will make decisions based on the information available to them, so it is important to frame that information in a context that encourages them to make decisions that benefit them.

A good example might be when an investor’s portfolio takes an unexpected downturn. Approaching this both empathetically and in the context of the potential volatility of long-term investments will encourage them to stay on track with their investment plan.

This ties into gamification because the investor can be rewarded for staying on track and for actively making decisions that expand their relationship with the firm. Framing the relationship as a gamified journey makes the digital experience more engaging while ensuring that clients see the value of the relationship.

Behavioural science is for everyone

It is not just retail banks, private banks and financial advisers that can use these tools. Any financial institution that relies on customers, or even employees, engaging with its digital channels can create scalable, gamified features that make the digital experience stickier.

For example, a firm dedicated to increasing its employees’ financial wellness can use these principles to increase financial literacy via content and educational tools – all without having to “talk down” to employees. Robo advisers have harnessed this principle well.

The combination of a smart digital experience enhanced with the behavioural science dynamics of gamification and decision theory is a winning strategy. It keeps clients close, more informed and engaged – from onboarding and right through the client lifecycle. It also ensures a greater degree of digital empathy, meaning every experience is unique to and resonates with the individual.

In a world where financial institutions are competing for attention – whether that is with the dozens of other applications used by corporate clients, or even social and entertainment media with private clients, these dynamics are crucial to ensuring you remain at the forefront. If deployed successfully, digitally empathetic experiences will help drive loyalty, engagement, and profitability – and ensure you stand out in a very crowded field.

New Report Shows Average UK Debt Is £9,246 per Person at the End of 2020

Over half of UK adults got into debt this year, with one in four revealing that their debt was a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research. The study by personal finance experts at reveals that 51% of UK adults got into debt in 2020 and half of that was new debt directly caused by the pandemic.

The average amount of debt owed in the UK in 2020 is £9,246 per person. But more than one in 10 people said their new debt was caused by reduced income due to being put on furlough, according to the new Coronavirus Debt Index. This has meant one in every five UK adults have had to take out additional debt management products to pay off the debt caused by the pandemic.

Salman Haqqi, a personal finance expert at, said: “2020 has been a year like no other. And this has had a huge effect on the finances of everyday people, including debt and how they’ve managed it.

“Our survey has shown that over 11% of new debt in 2020 is down to workers being furloughed and having reduced incomes. Based on the fact that 9.4m UK jobs were furloughed throughout 20201, the cost of debt due to furlough is roughly £1,050 per furloughed employee – that’s £9.87billion of furlough debt incurred in the UK during 2020.”

The story for workers who have been furloughed has been most bleak in the East of England, where 16.13% of all new debt is down to people having a reduced salary because of furlough, according to the data.

Elsewhere across the UK, the picture is similar. In Greater London 16.11% of all 2020 debt can be attributed to furlough, the study shows. In the North West, 12.7% of all 2020 debt can be attributed to workers being furloughed and in South East, 11.98% of all debt accrued this year is down to a loss of salary for those who have been furloughed.

Norwich is the city most affected by the furlough scheme in terms of its debt. Some 20% of all debt accrued in the city has been blamed on workers being furloughed, according to the research. London is next, with 15.38% of its debt being blamed on the effects of furlough, closely followed by Manchester, where 14.15% of its 2020 debt has been caused by workers on furlough receiving a reduced salary.

UK residents aged 25-34 are the age group taking on the most debt into 2021 – an average of £12,819. And 36% of people age 16-24 have said they are taking debt into 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, in general, has wreaked havoc with the nation’s finances. More than a third (36%) of the debt accrued this year in London has been blamed on Covid-19.

In Northern Ireland, 32% of 2020 debt has been caused by Covid, according to the data. The West Midlands has seen 29% of debt caused by Covid and, in the East Midlands, the South West and Wales, 26% of all this year’s new debt has been blamed on the pandemic.

Intro To Fintech: Paytech

Though the fintech industry is getting more and more mainstream globally, there is still a learning curve for many people as to what fintech actually is, and a lot of jargon which can be hard to understand if you’re not in the know. In this new series of articles, The Fintech Times plans to breakdown all aspects of fintech to help those interested to learn and understand the industry, making it more accessible for all. 

Paytech’s are fintech companies that use technology to enable the electronic transfer of value, often focusing on making payments faster, secure, and can be done easily from anywhere. An amalgamation of payment and technology, paytech’s can be anything from digital applications to physical contactless payment coffee cups.

Ways to make payments

A key area of Paytech is the development of frictionless payments, where any obstacles of making a transaction are reduced to a minimum or are non-existent. Contactless and mobile payments are particularly popular due to being more convenient and effortless, merely waving your smartphone or card to a reader. The coronavirus pandemic may have also had a hand in helping this along with safety advice encouraging consumers to pay via contactless means where possible, even upping the contactless spending limit from £30 to £45 in the UK. A major division within this is the digital wallet, or e-wallet; an electronic card or used to make transactions through a computer or smartphone. Its function is virtually the same as a physical debit or credit card, and some e-wallets can even store money for future transactions and hold drivers licenses and loyalty cards. There are even wearable payment devices on the market, known as “the Paytech of things”, allowing you to make payments by linking cards, bank accounts or e-wallets through accessories like sunglasses from Visa, Optus contactless coffee cups and Disney World’s Magic bands. Wearable Paytech isn’t just confined to money, however, and can even be used to redeem things like train tickets, for example when Lucozade gave out promotional contactless bottles that could be swiped to gain entry to the tube, all with a drink in hand.

Another emerging payment trend is biometric authentication. Those who went to school in the UK less than ten years ago may remember having to pay for lunches using their fingerprint, with the verification methods also utilising facial recognition and iris recognition, as well as heartbeat analysis and vein mapping. While these body scanners seem a very futuristic and dramatic way to pay for your weekly groceries, biometrics appears to be the future of secure payments with some banks trialling it in Europe.

Different ways people can get paid

Whether it’s receiving wages or transferring money between friends there are a variety of ways people can get paid. The most traditional is via Direct Deposit or bank transfer. This is simply the process of depositing money directly into the payee’s bank account. This is the most common way people are paid their salaries in the UK, known as Bacs, as well as a popular method to pay bills or send money to friends and family, helped through the rise of online and app-based banking.

A different form of receiving money comes from digital payment services – think apps like PayPal and Venmo in the US- where you can send money straight from your bank account or debit card for free. These apps can also function as digital wallets to make purchasing online easier, as well as transferring funds between friends and family quick and convenient as you only need the username or email address associated with the account you want to pay, rather than the several different bank details a transfer requires.

Another, slightly less common way of getting paid is through cryptocurrency, the most popular being Bitcoin. Digital currencies are on the rise not only in the finance world but also in regular life, where crypto can be a secure easy way to send and receive money and even pay for goods and services as it slowly becomes more widely accepted. Some platforms can facilitate crypto payments between companies and their employees, giving those involved the benefits of digital assets.

Finally, getting paid internationally is also a popular sector of fintech, as many companies are trying to solve the problem of difficult cross-border transactions. There can often be extremely high or hidden charges involved with sending money across borders, particularly as banks and currency exchange services aren’t required to use the real currency exchange rate. Online Money transfer services have changed the game in some respects, with companies like TransferWise appearing up to eight times cheaper than high street banks. Swaying away from convention, TransferWise revolutionised the money transferring game by not actually transferring money between countries at all. Instead, they have a network of bank accounts across the globe simplifying the whole process into two local transfers. For example, if a British person wanted to send money to a French account, the brit would transfer money from their bank account to the TransferWise UK bank account in pounds, and then the TransferWise French account will match the amount in Euros to the recipient’s bank account, offering the real exchange rate as money doesn’t actually have to be converted.

This has revolutionised international transfers by significantly decreasing the costs involved, with TransferWise becoming an increasingly popular option moving £4 billion every month.

Different accounting software employers use

Most businesses will use some form of accounting software for them to keep track of their financial transactions. These programmes can vary in scope, particularly whether they’re for small businesses or large corporate ventures. Here are some of the most popular programmes used by employers.

QuickBooks – is one of the most popular bookkeeping solutions on the market as well as being a strong choice for freelancers and self-employed. Owned by Intuit they have several different editions, including versions for online, desktop and macs, as well as bespoke versions customised to the client.

Xero – Designed for small businesses, Xero offers expense tracking and management, though has limited capabilities when on the lower price plan. However, it offers plenty of functionality including configurable reports, simple budgeting, and even the ability to convert your QuickBooks files when onboarding

Sage Business Cloud Accounting – Cloud-based accounting software from Sage and traditionally the most used and recommended. The software is targeted at small businesses to help with invoicing, cash flow and payroll.

FreshBooks – Cloud-based accounting service designed for small business owners. Features include invoicing, expense tracking and a user-friendly interface that can integrate with other services like PayPal, WordPress and MailChimp.

Wave – Wave is a very popular free accounting software offering invoicing, accounting and receipt scanning. While they don’t have a direct connection to send VAT returns to HMRC, there are no limits on their features and extras can be added at cost.

Paytech and banking

The banking sector is always susceptible to change, and with the rising number of fintech companies globally traditional banks are having to work to keep up. Consumers have more choice when it comes to the services they need, and often at lower prices than banks provide, “disrupting” the industry and forcing it to evolve. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, as these new start-ups and fintech’s are helping banks and traditional financial services companies to be more innovative, driving the financial world forward into one that can better serve its consumers.

A particular example of this is API integration, the function that allows third-party apps to communicate. Helped by the introduction of Open Banking, API, or application programming interface, is an interface that links a banks database of customer information with different applications or programs forming a network that allows different services and products to be used by individuals. Customers benefit from this by integrating their bank accounts with third-party services, such as accounting software like Xero and Wave, or budgeting apps like Yolt or Mint. These integrations also benefit the banks as they can provide better services and in theory, grow their client base.

Pay Early feature

One relatively new feature that some banks can offer is the ability to get paid early. This is one of the particular draws of Monzo, one of the first app-based challenger banks in the UK. It began offering its pay early feature in 2019 and is so far one of the only UK banks to do so. Customers can receive their salaries a day earlier. Most people’s wages are paid via Bank Automated Clearing System (Bacs), and that the process usually takes about three days to clear transactions. However, the receiving bank can see the payment on their system the day before it clears, allowing them to make the payment at this point if they choose as they can be confident money is on the way, which Monzo is now doing. The feature is marketed to those who may struggle financially to get through the month and applies to any Bacs direct credit payment, including pensions, student loans and Tax credits. Whilst a benefit to its customers, the pay early scheme may also be aiding in Monzo’s growth, as users have to, obviously, be a Monzo customer and have their salary paid into that account, encouraging people to use the bank for their main account.

A similar feature can be found in US banks, with many offering early direct deposits, including OneUnited Bank, Chime, and Radius Bank – though is generally seen mainly in digital banks.

Efi Pylarinou joins the Daily Fintech alumni

The post below was originally published on 16 Mar  2015. As we close out 2020, this post is to thank Efi  for her always insightful, well written posts about Wealthtech over more than 5 years because from 2021 onwards Efi joins the Daily Fintech alumni. To her legion of fans, my advice is to go to her personal site. I am very happy to call Efi a friend and to have been part of her journey over the last 5 years.

This post is about why and how I blog every day and why this changes today,

Not, why I blog occasionally. We all do that. Why I. Blog. Every. Day. (Actually, every working day, only M-F, not weekends).

Simple answer: inspired by Fred Wilson. He has been blogging every day since “forever” (not actually forever, but I cannot remember when he was not blogging every day). I have been blogging every day since 29 June 2014 (about 9 months ago, for the record here is that first post).

I call the blog Daily Fintech, because I have now done it daily for nearly 9 months and think it is sustainable.

Longer answer:

  1. Passion. I happen to love my subject. The Fintech revolution in Financial Services is, to me, endlessly fascinating. OK, I know that not that many people think it is as interesting as I do and that’s fine. I want to connect with those who also find it fascinating, wherever they are.
  1. Discipline. Like any discipline – exercise, meditation, diet – there are days when it is easy and days when it is hard.
  1. I love writing. I actually enjoy it. I get into Flow and that is fun.
  1. There is a business logic. I do not monetize through advertising. I use blogging to connect to people who are “fishing in the same waters” and to learn (from people who correct me if I am wrong and fill in details that I have missed). It works for me at a practical level. I saw how tech blogs struggled to monetize quality writing from my year as COO of ReadWriteWeb (and the recent epitaph of GigaOm is probably a sad reflection of that same reality).

As I tell all who I speak to “I am an entrepreneur who blogs, not a professional blogger, publisher or journalist”. That means that all conversations are off the record unless I can see the same content online or you tell me its OK to make it public. Daily Fintech is about insight based on publicly available information. I leave scoops to the news business.

How do I write every day?  Simple answer: good days and bad days.

Long answer. I have a process;

  1. Queued posts. I am not news driven, I am insight driven. So I can have posts ready to go out in a few days time. For example when I am travelling and in back to back meetings, I write less but have ones lined up to go.
  1. I write when inspiration strikes. First draft is usually Notes on my iPhone (that nice 6+ screen is good).
  1. I have a weekly calendar. For example, I always do Fintech Global Tour on Friday. That helps me plan and schedule.

Today is the day that this changes because today there are two posts not just one and only one is written by me.

The first post is this one. The second post is the first from a regular writer on Daily Fintech other than me. I am delighted to welcome Efi Pylarinou to Daily Fintech. Last Monday I asked for her help on the Darwinex post. That worked so well that I asked her to write regularly and I am delighted to say that she agreed. Efi is a professional writer (see her book on Fixed Income) but her motive for writing is the same as mine – to do her research in public, learn from others and connect with people fishing in similar waters.

The Darwinex post was me interviewing Efi as subject matter expert. Today’s post (just a few pixels down the great blogging river) is written by Efi.

Efi also lives in Bern, Switzerland which is working hard for it’s reputation as the Fintech Capital of the World 🙂

Actually Bern is a gorgeous City with some of the most beautiful mountains but if you want exciting new business hop on a train to Zurich or Geneva and maybe hop on a flight from there.

I asked Efi to help me out because she knows more about Fixed Income, Commodities, FX and  Derivatives Trading & Asset Management than I will ever know. As Fintech grows, the need for specialists becomes more apparent every day. When Efi blogs I am only the Editor. My keyboard will be relieved.

Millennials Worse at Handling Money Than Members of Generation Z Says New Survey

59% of Millennials said they felt like they handled their money poorly during the Coronavirus Pandemic compared to just 46% of their younger counterparts.

The generational divide was exposed in a survey conducted on behalf of online loans company Laurel Road, which also showed that 70% of people from both generational groups felt they needed to reset and reevaluate how they handle their money.    

“Covid-19 has been challenging for us all. For millennials and Gen Z-ers, they too have faced many challenges, but in turn, the pandemic has also prompted an opportunity for a financial reset,” said Alyssa Schaefer, Chief Experience Officer at Laurel Road. 

Respondents also shared the top ways they invested in themselves during the pandemic, with 32% putting money toward personal wellness and 25% investing in their professional development by getting certified in additional skills.

A quarter of those surveyed also said they had put more money toward mental health resources as well as attending webinars or online courses to progress their professional development.

Schaefer said: “What’s encouraging to see from our survey results is that so many people have used this time to prioritize their personal finance, including by refinancing their student loans, and actively look to learn new ways to budget and save.

“Investing in personal well-being is always important and something we believe in strongly at Laurel Road. Right now, it’s never been more crucial to focus on our ‘mental wealth’ – daily personal, professional and financial decisions that support our peace of mind. Making impactful changes to financial planning, such as student loan refinance, can create beneficial savings opportunities, and we’re proud to provide options that do this for our customers.”

The new study asked 2,000 Generation Z and millennial Americans, about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 as a whole on their personal finances.

52% of respondents said they wish they did a better job of handling their money during the pandemic with 37% saying they made more of an effort to save more money when they could.

Respondents who created a budget were 33% and 25% spoke to a financial adviser about their situation. A further 20% of those polled said they refinanced their student loans and 19% consolidated them.

Although nearly seven in 10 respondents said they effectively budgeted their money, given the circumstances of 2020, 60% said they wish they could improve their budgeting skills but they just don’t know where to begin.

  • 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.

India’s banks to give mobile apps a facelift

Major banks in India have begun looking at upgrading its mobile apps to make transactions easier for customers and to work out any technical issues customers have experienced on the apps during the pandemic.

The Bank of Baroda is planning on redesigning its mobile app which had 11.43 million downloads on Google Play store at the end of March 2020, according to a report on

Additionally, the Reserve Bank of India has stopped any new digital banking initiatives until it determines the problem that caused three outages in its e-banking services since 2018.

India’s ICICI Bank determined its customers are getting weary of using multiple apps for different purposes and is researching the possibility of having just one app that can meet all the needs of its clients.

The country’s largest lender, the State Bank of India, is taking a year to review its revised Yono app before making it available to other banks.

Soft Space, GMO Financial Gate Network to advance cashless payments in Japan

Asian fintech Soft Space and GMO Financial Gate have partnered to introduce a card payment solution that supports cashless acceptance in the Japanese market without the need of a payment device, according to a press release.

Through this partnership, Soft Space will support secure and seamless Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) transactions and introduce its suite of payment solutions into various industry segments in Japan. These payment solutions will capitalize on smart devices to perform cashless card transactions. Merchants and partners that adopt these payment solutions will be able to securely transact and lower operation costs.

“Soft Space is grateful to be part of the initiative to advance Japan’s payment scene through our partnership with GMO-FG,” Joel Tay, chief executive officer of Soft Space said in the release. “Japan has been pushing cashless acceptance, particularly contactless payments, and this collaboration will enable us to expand and establish our presence across Japan and give options to a variety of sectors to adopt our payment solutions.”

With Japan goal of doubling the country’s cashless ratio to 40% by the year 2025, Soft Space’s engagement with GMO-FG will be essential to achieving this goal.

Save debit card matches spending with investments

Technology company Save, has partnered with Mastercard to launch its Save Debit Invest Mastercard. Instead of receiving cash back or reward points, the card matches a customer’s spending with their investments and provides dollar-for-dollar matching of portfolio investments for everyday spending with no caps, according to a press release.

“We are not only helping people save, but we are transforming the industry by turning every debit card holder into an investor through everyday spending without any separate effort from our customers or risk to their capital,” Michael Nelskyla, CEO of Save said in the press release. “Further, we look forward to working closely with Mastercard to deliver leading financial services in a smarter, more empowering way.”

The Save Debit Invest Mastercard provides consumers with additional benefits such as contactless payments, identity theft protection, price protection and more. Customers receive notifications of matching investments and will be able to access their card account through a dedicated iOS and Android app.

TalentintheCloud: How to Promote Gender Diversity in Africa

Though things are slowly getting better, the issue of gender diversity in the fintech world is still prevalent even now. Too few companies have female founders or female leaders, and the sector still has a lot of work to do to make the landscape truly diverse.

Darren Franks is the Founder and CEO of TalentintheCloud. He is a thought leader in talent acquisition strategies with a specialist focus on the African fintech sector and launched TalentintheCloud in 2016 to help fintech’s accelerate their growth by acquiring and retaining key leadership talent.

Here he shares his thoughts on gender diversity and how to tackle the issue in the African fintech landscape.

Darren Franks, Founder and CEO, TalentintheCloud

Just over a year ago, we compiled the very first African fintech gender diversity report. Together with this report, we interviewed four phenomenal women in the industry about their journey and the lessons they learnt along the way. We learnt a great deal from these women about systematic struggle and overcoming considerable challenges.

In putting together the publication last year, we took the opportunity to survey our extensive database of women in fintech in Africa to gauge their experience of gender diversity. The results gave us a sense of how businesses on the continent are faring. I found the results encouraging and in line with my experience working in talent management in Africa. I have also found the vast majority of fintech organisations to be pretty forward-thinking and up to speed with why gender diversity and equality is so important in a business. This is particularly so in the product development area where there is a growing recognition that having gender balance and equality in a team contributes significantly towards the quality of the user experience, especially since women are big users of fintech.

However, in saying that, there is a tendency for some fintech founders to try and clone themselves when making new hires. That’s not ideal, given all the evidence that shows how much more a diverse team can achieve in the highly competitive fintech industry.

To avoid succumbing to the temptation of hiring more of the same type of people already in the business, we always intentionally present a diverse shortlist of potential candidates to the company. We also recommend that they are judged based on their skill set and experience, not their gender, race or cultural background.

In specific roles, there is, undoubtedly, a shortage of women candidates, an issue that certainly needs to be addressed and could be turned around through training and development at a grassroots level.

One of the biggest challenges I have come across on the continent is that women entrepreneurs find it more challenging to raise capital than men. I would like to see women have equal access to capital and hope to act as a bridge between venture capital firms in Africa and the women seeking the funding to build fintech businesses, like the inimitable Viola Llewellyn. Viola is co-founder and President of Ovamba Solutions, an innovative trade finance company serving the informal sector.

Additionally, I would like to see women take more chances when applying for jobs they think they may not be perfectly qualified to do but have all the skills and resources necessary. A well-known research result, initially quoted in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In – Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”, finds that women won’t apply for a job unless they have 100% of the qualifications listed in a job spec. In contrast, men will apply for the job even if they only have 60% of the skill requirements. The women interviewed in this publication have got to where they are today because they had faith in their capabilities, even though they sometimes didn’t have all of the qualifications specified.

Notably, what we’ve seen at TalentintheCloud over this Covid period is a drop in our placement percentage of women. We haven’t changed our process and our access to female talent pool remains unprecedented, yet the interest from women in new roles has waned. This is likely because women tend to be more naturally risk-adverse, and during this uncertain period, moving jobs is certainly riskier than not.

Of most concern to me, however, are the unacceptable incidents that I have heard about in conversations with women in which they have been asked to compromise themselves in the pursuit of new business or career advancement. This should not be tolerated anywhere in the world. Companies need to do their utmost to prevent this from happening by keeping their ears to the ground and acting on any information they receive. They also need to ensure they have put in place rules and procedures that make it clear that this type of behaviour is not acceptable.

What I’ve seen from the results of our report and the insight given from women in leadership roles in fintech across Africa, is that there’s still some way to go in achieving our gender diversity goals. However, the industry in Africa has leapfrogged some of the challenges companies in the developed markets are still surmounting. We can be proud of that! And this challenging Covid period has put inequality even more under the spotlight, allowing us to push the mandate further, strengthen our partnerships so that we can create grassroot upskilling opportunities.

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