North American Bancard Holdings launches new AML automation

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/secur-risk/north-american-bancard-holdings-launches-new-aml-automation/

Payments technology company North American Bancard Holdings (NAB) rolled out an automated, machine-learning based anti-money laundering solution for its transactions this month, with plans to expand the tool’s use to other transactions in the future. The Troy, Mich.-based NAB manages $45 billion of transactions annually for businesses and banks, handling credit, debit, check conversions, and […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/secur-risk/north-american-bancard-holdings-launches-new-aml-automation/

Sift’s Digital Trust and Safety Suite Sees Enhancements To Deal With Growing Fraud Economy

https://thefintechtimes.com/sifts-digital-trust-and-safety-suite-sees-enhancements-to-deal-with-growing-fraud-economy/

Sift, the Digital Trust and Safety company, has announced several new enhancements to its Digital Trust and Safety Suite to protect businesses from payment, account, and content fraud and abuse. New Workflows Replay, Security Notifications, Text Clustering, and Chargeback Management integration features enable fraud fighters to get more work done, and done faster, while streamlining operations to minimise losses and maximise revenue.

Fraudsters are capitalising on the explosive growth of digital commerce spurred by Covid-19, leveraging both new and proven tactics to extract, sell, and use payment information to steal from merchants and consumers. This vast, crowded, and interconnected network is known as the Fraud Economy, and its impact on businesses and their customers is staggering.

Yet fraud teams are often stretched thin, with limited resources, disparate systems and technologies, and ineffective operations, leaving massive blindspots in their fraud monitoring and prevention approaches––and unintentionally revealing opportunities for fraudsters. Sift’s new capabilities provide organisations with the accuracy, automation, and orchestration required to mitigate risk and drive revenue.

“At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, online merchants were already facing an array of threats from cybercriminals looking to steal from them,” said Geoff Huang, VP of Product at Sift. “Now, amid the e-commerce boom, the Fraud Economy has become more robust and sophisticated. The new capabilities in Sift’s Digital Trust and Safety Suite provide our customers with the visibility and control they need to prevent fraud and enable growth.”

New features include:

  • Workflows Replay: Sift customers can easily visualise the effectiveness and impact of business logic to make more informed decisions. Without needing to leave Workflows in the Sift Console, users gain the visibility required to ensure that accurate automation stops fraud, eliminates unnecessary manual review, and reduces friction to increase conversions. Fraud analysts will also be able to test hypothetical changes, comparing the impact of those changes against historical data, before modifying live workflows.
  • No-code Security Notifications: This industry-first feature allows teams to confirm if a risky login event was an account takeover (ATO) attempt. As an addition to Sift’s Account Defense product, Security Notifications provide a built-in email solution that leverages Sift’s global network to identify ATO cases and prompts password resets for compromised accounts. Through notifications, the feature builds user trust, protects accounts, and trains customers’ ATO models at scale––all without requiring Sift customers to write a single line of code.
  • Text Clustering: By grouping similar spam and scam content together within Sift’s Content Integrity product, Text Clustering improves the detection accuracy of abusive content to help moderators review content more quickly. Organisations can minimise community exposure to spam-filled, repetitive content by surfacing groups of similar messages and taking bulk actions on them in one click.
  • Chargeback Management Integrations: Available via the Sift Connect App Gallery, merchants can automate chargeback disputes via pre-built integrations with leading chargeback management vendors such as Chargeback.com. By leveraging these integrations, businesses are able to eliminate the manual processing of chargebacks and increase revenue recovery without increasing operational costs.

“With the Sift and Chargeback connector, we’re able to use our existing integration with Sift to solve the post-transaction fraud problem. Chargeback is able to use the rich Sift data set as evidence to both deflect and win disputes for us,” said Jon Helin, Director of Support of Business Operations from Doxo. “Plus, the data Chargeback collects from managing our disputes is then fed back to Sift, creating a powerful feedback loop that saves us time, helps us more accurately fight fraud, and increases revenue.”

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

https://thefintechtimes.com/sifts-digital-trust-and-safety-suite-sees-enhancements-to-deal-with-growing-fraud-economy/

Cryptocurrency’s Growth Has Led to Nearly Two-Thirds of US Adults Being Crypto-Curious

https://thefintechtimes.com/cryptocurrencys-growth-has-led-to-nearly-two-thirds-of-us-adults-being-crypto-curious/

Cryptocurrency has garnered a spike in interest in 2021. Though there were a variety of reasons attributing to this growth, one being the pandemic causing people to become more financially aware of their money and causing them to take a larger interest in investing, another key reason for the increased popularity was the large investment in Bitcoin by Elon Musk in February. Following Musk’s $1.5billion Bitcoin purchase, its overall value shot up to $44,220.

Many think that Tesla’s investment is a “game-changer” for the Bitcoin, as it is the first major company in the automobile sector to announce its intentions to offer cryptocurrency as a future payment option.

“Tesla is hardly considered a traditional company, but when one of the largest companies in the world starts to hold Bitcoin on its balance sheet as a substitute for cash, the market takes notice,” Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group wrote in a note to clients.

Hector McNeil, spokesperson for BTCetc Bitcoin Exchange Traded Crypto added: “Tesla’s purchase of Bitcoin is yet another huge endorsement for the cryptocurrency from a large corporate or institutional investor. They tend to take a much longer-term view of their investments than retail investors, and this bodes well for the future valuation of the cryptocurrency.”

Another reason cryptocurrency has seen this growth is because of its accessibility. It is no longer something unattainable – with over 361 million users, PayPal introduced a crypto wallet for its US userbase at the end of 2020. In March 2021, PayPal bolstered its cryptocurrency security with its Curv acquisition.

“The acquisition of Curv is part of our effort to invest in the talent and technology to realise our vision for a more inclusive financial system,” said Jose Fernandez da Ponte, vice president and general manager, blockchain, crypto and digital currencies, PayPal. “During our conversations with Curv’s team, we’ve been impressed by their technical talent, entrepreneurial spirit, and the thinking behind the technology they’ve built in the last few years. We’re excited to welcome the Curv team to PayPal.”

Gemini, the crypto exchange and custodian, has released a comprehensive report of the US crypto market. The data gathered from a nationally representative survey of 3,000 US adults points to a significant expansion and diversification of the nation’s crypto investors.

Some of the other trends are explained in the 2021 State of US Crypto Report. The research illustrates how attributes like gender, age, income and location are changing from the typical crypto investor. According to the report the number of cryptocurrency investors is set to double this year. In addition, older women make up the majority of the “crypto curious” — those on the brink of investing — and many of whom are nearing retirement.

The survey also revealed that there are many more people who are crypto curious — 63% of US adults — than who are completely disinterested in crypto — just 23% — indicating a promising future for crypto’s growth.

Other key findings include:

  • More women than men are among those interested in getting into crypto soon, making up 53% of those crypto curious reporting interest about investing in the asset class. Looking deeper, only a quarter of these crypto-curious women are under the age of 35, and 25% are near retirement at 55 or older.
  • Education is crucial in converting crypto-curious consumers to actual holders, with 39% of those who don’t hold cryptocurrency considering themselves “somewhat or very” knowledgeable about cryptocurrency, but 60% identifying as “not very” or “not at all” knowledgeable. A strong majority of US adults (77%) indicate they are open to learning more about digital assets, whether they already own cryptocurrency or not.
  • The number of crypto investors is set to nearly double this year, with 13% of US adults planning to purchase crypto in the next 12 months.
  • The “average” crypto investor will be changing soon due to these new entrants — the current profile is a 38-year-old male making approximately $111,000 a year.
  • The next wave of crypto buyers are older and have slightly smaller yearly incomes, with an average age of 44 and average household income of $107,000 a year.

“This new research signals a valuable and welcome diversification of crypto’s investor base. A broader set of participants establishes a positive long-term evolution of the market,” said Noah Perlman, Chief Operating Officer at Gemini. “Trading platforms that prioritise security and smart regulation, while making it simple for anyone to use, make cryptocurrencies accessible and attractive. We believe digital assets are a strategic part of a well-rounded portfolio and providing crypto education will help remove barriers to entry.”

These new survey findings complement the State of UK Crypto Report released by Gemini in March 2021. The UK has more women (41.6%) than the United States (26%) reporting they already own, or owned, cryptocurrency — though the United States is catching up, as stats published by eToro showed only 15% of Bitcoin investors were women, however, this number had increased from 10% in 2020. Roughly the same proportion of total adults in the US and the UK (approximately 14%) own cryptocurrency— with rapid growth happening on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

https://thefintechtimes.com/cryptocurrencys-growth-has-led-to-nearly-two-thirds-of-us-adults-being-crypto-curious/

UiPath debuts on New York Stock Exchange with shares priced at $56

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/infrastructure/uipath-debuts-on-new-york-stock-exchange-with-shares-priced-at-56/

UiPath Inc., a robotic process automation (RPA) software maker, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange today under the ticker PATH with its stock priced at $56 a share. The firm’s initial public offering of 23.8 million shares consists of 9.4 million units of Class A common stock offered by UiPath, and 14.4 million shares […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/infrastructure/uipath-debuts-on-new-york-stock-exchange-with-shares-priced-at-56/

Romanian programmer turns ‘Crazy Idea’ into $6 billion fortune

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/infrastructure/romanian-programmer-turns-crazy-idea-into-6-billion-fortune/

Daniel Dines struggled with life in the U.S. after leaving his native Romania in 2001 to work for Microsoft Corp., but the experience created the foundation for one of the world’s biggest fortunes.

UiPath co-founder and CEODaniel Dines
Photo by Bloomberg Mercury

The software programmer returned to his homeland in 2005 to start the business known today as UiPath Inc., an automation-software maker that debuts Wednesday after raising $1.3 billion in a U.S. initial public offering. Dines, the company’s chief executive officer, controls a stake worth more than $6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“For someone coming in his 20s to the U.S. from Europe, it was a big challenge for me to adapt to the States, even though professionally speaking my experience at Microsoft was great,” Dines, 49, said last year at the annual Montgomery Summit technology conference.

As a result, “I had a crazy idea to go back and start a company,” he added.

‘Hidden Advantage’

UiPath, which was valued at $7 billion in 2019, is now worth about $30 billion after its shares priced at $56, above a marketed range. That puts Dines among the world’s 500 richest, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. A company representative declined to comment.

“Starting a company from a small place with no market has a hidden advantage: It forces you to think globally from day one,” Dines said in a letter included in UiPath’s registry filings for its listing. He had already indicated his company was preparing for a listing back in early 2020.

The company’s software performs many low-skilled tasks that businesses once outsourced to humans in cheaper-wage countries such as India or the Philippines. Known as robotic process automation technology, the technique takes over repetitive, routine data-entry and processing tasks. Some of its software has been used in hospitals and health-care projects to help with Covid-19, according to UiPath’s website.

Dines, who studied math and computer science at the University of Bucharest, grew up in Romania while the nation was still ruled by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. He founded the company as DeskOver and renamed it UiPath in 2015, running it out of an apartment in the capital before relocating its headquarters to New York in 2017.

Funding Round

UiPath raised $750 million in a funding round led by Alkeon Capital and Coatue that gave it a value of $35 billion, according to a February statement. Altimeter Capital Management, Dragoneer, IVP, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management and funds advised by T. Rowe Price Associates also chimed in.

Dines owns all of the company’s Class B shares, which carry 35 votes apiece compared with one each for Class A stock. He will continue to control UiPath after the IPO and sold shares in the offering worth about $75 million, according to filings.

“You have to become a public company at some point to allow your employees to get more liquidity, give them stock options,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg last year. “We’re almost there.”

-Ben Stupples and Alex Sazonov (Bloomberg Mercury)

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/infrastructure/romanian-programmer-turns-crazy-idea-into-6-billion-fortune/

Open Banking 2021 – Report By MEDICI

https://gomedici.com/open-banking-2021-by-medici

Open Banking has been a catalyst for evolution in the financial industry. It has given consumers more control over their financial lives and has created a new wave of competition in the financial ecosystem.

In this article, we bring you a synopsis from our latest report—Open Banking 2021. The report deep dives into the evolution of Open Banking, the global landscape, evolving business models, funding, new initiatives, and more! 

Parameters for the Implementation of Open Banking

Some of the key parameters are technology, consumer centricity, business deals, partnerships, and data management and analysis.

To know more, download the full report.

Players in Open Banking: Segmented By Business Models 

The leading business models include white label platforms, BaaS, and API Stores:

To know more, download the full report.

Open Banking: Global Outlook 

The year 2020 can be considered a milestone year for the Open Banking sector. Funding numbers rose 73% compared to the numbers in 2018. Marqeta’s $150 million Private Equity funding that year played a crucial role.

In Asia, Razorpay, Zeta, and Open, among other firms, raised over $386.9 million in various rounds over the past two years.

All these activities highlight Asia as a growing hotspot for Open Banking. We estimate that the trend of increasing funding will continue in 2021 as well.

Year-Wise Funding (Mn, $) 2018–2021*

Note: The funding analysis is as of April 5, 2021. We have not considered funding received by API Stores from traditional/neobanks/challenger banks as part of this analysis. This does not include corporate rounds, private equity, and unknown venture series.

To know more, download the full report. 

New Partnerships and the Road Ahead

Many traditional/challenger banks have realized that they need to be proactive in their approach toward collaborating with FinTech for Open Banking.

In the report, we have highlighted 32 such partnerships between traditional banks and FinTech. 

Some FinTechs leading the partnership race with banks are Tink, Plaid, Railsbank, Nordic API Gateway, and Solarisbank. On the other hand, partnerships between FinTech companies have also been increasing where segment-specific Fintechs are relying on Open Banking startups for data exchange.

To know more, download the full report. 

About the Report

Open Banking is no longer a concept; it is serious business. It is catching all the attention in the financial world. The Open Banking 2021 report presents an in-depth analysis of the drivers and inhibitors in the space, strategic value, and top parameters that play a vital role in the implementation of Open Banking. 

What to expect from the report? 

Open Banking is definitely a catalyst for the evolution of the financial industry. It has given consumers more command over their financial lives and created new competition among players. Open Banking helps to connect traditional banks with modern-day FinTech companies. 

This report delves into all this and more.

Grab your copy of the full report here.

https://gomedici.com/open-banking-2021-by-medici

UK Fintech Week: The Digital Payments Boom

https://thefintechtimes.com/uk-fintech-week-the-digital-payments-boom/

With UK Fintech Week ongoing, this webinar was titled “The Digital Payments Boom, Playing Catch-up with the Giants”. Exploring the digital payments boom, this webinar takes a closer look at the success stories of the digital payments market, debating the arguments for regulation, discussing emerging markets and predicting the future of the sector.

The panellists were Keith Grose, Head of International, Plaid; Myles Stephenson, CEO, Modulr Finance; Neil Harris, Group Chief Commercial Officer, Global Processing Services; Sophie Guibaud, Chief Growth Officer OpenPayd; and was moderated by Kristy Duncan, Founder and CEO, Women in Payments

The discussion kicked off with the panellists discussing the successes of the past “whirlwind” year. Myles explained that they as a company have seen a significant acceleration in what they’ve been doing. “We’ve seen people starting to accelerate transformation projects through to how they rebuilt platforms, which have typically been multi-year decisions but have accelerated very quickly through last year.”

Keith agreed with this statement of acceleration, adding that the last year saw a fundamental change into how people run their financial lives. “This adoption and the acceleration of the adoption of the underlying infrastructure around open banking payments and big data has been a key story of that.”

The discussion moved on to consider regulation – with Kristy explaining how fintechs are often challenged with issues such as lack of enforcement or passporting discrimination among others.

For Keith, regulation is necessary, but only when it’s done right. He said: “regulation done correctly builds trust and brings legitimacy to a space, which then increases investment and increases adoption. So I’d say regulation is good,  it just needs to be done correctly.

Neil said: “With Brexit coming into play, passporting rights have been a huge challenge, not specifically for GPS as an organisation, but there’s been a huge additional cost and complexity because of the lack of measures and actual visibility of it.”

Sophie agreed with Neil in terms of the challenges Brexit brought to fintechs. “As an organisation, there has been quite a lot of cost associated to the end of passporting as part of Brexit, which encompasses securing license in Europe. I think a lot of organisations have already made the effort to actually go to Europe, but I think going to other geographies to actually enable trades and competition is a great idea.”

“Making regulation simple and accessible and keeping on an agent model will be very key for enabling all companies to become fintechs in the next few years.”

Finally, Kristy turned the conversation to the future, asking the panellists: “What are you most excited about for the payments market in the next three years?”

Myles kicked off, saying “Looking forward, there is this amazing opportunity for payments to be part of literally every software platform, and every software business to become a payments company, which is fantastic to see.”

Keith weighed in on the discussion, advising that the advice he would give himself if he could go back in time would be to think about the trends that are inevitable and invest ahead of demand. “Embedded finance and open banking payments are inevitable trends that are happening, and it’s worth investing in now because they’re going to be huge in the next 10 years.

“I think fundamentally, financial services and payment will be embedded to meet users and small businesses where they already are. And if you’re not on board with that trend, eventually you’re going to either have to get on board or get left behind.”

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/uk-fintech-week-the-digital-payments-boom/

Watch: Aite Group analyst Leslie Parrish on how banks will improve the lending experience

https://bankautomationnews.com/premium-plus/plus-market-trends/watch-aite-group-analyst-leslie-parrish-on-how-banks-will-improve-the-lending-experience/



Watch: Aite Group analyst Leslie Parrish on how banks will improve the lending experience | Bank Automation News

Watch: Aite Group analyst Leslie Parrish on how banks will improve the lending experience | Bank Automation News




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https://bankautomationnews.com/premium-plus/plus-market-trends/watch-aite-group-analyst-leslie-parrish-on-how-banks-will-improve-the-lending-experience/

Telecel Group Open to Applications for ASIP Accelerator Program to Bolster African Internet Economy

https://thefintechtimes.com/telecel-group-open-to-applications-for-asip-accelerator-program-to-bolster-african-internet-economy/

Technology sectors such as fintech, insurtech, agritech, e-commerce, healthtech, and cleantech are not only solving some of Africa’s most pressing problems but also contributing significantly to the continent’s economy. In fact, the so-called Internet economy is set to reach 5.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, contributing about $180billion to the African economy. To develop the potential of startups driving the Internet economy, Telecel Group has opened applications for the ASIP Accelerator Program, powered by Startupbootcamp AfriTech.

The Program helps startups achieve 18-24 months of growth in just three months. Now, the next generation of early-stage African tech startups disrupting a wide range of industry sectors are being sought.

Ten startups will be selected to participate in the Program that will give them access to expert-led masterclasses covering scaling fundamentals – from the business model canvas, and lean methodology, to fundraising. They will also receive tailored mentorship from carefully selected mentors, will be connected with venture capitalists and angel investors from around the world, get to meet the leading corporates in their industries for pilot projects and partnership opportunities.

The successful startups will receive €15,000 in cash and have access to over €500,000 in exclusive partner deals from leading technology providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, HubSpot, and SendGrid, amongst others.

The three-month program will conclude with a digital Demo Day during which startups will present their newly scaled-up solutions to hundreds of investors, corporates, mentors and press attendees. Notably, the participants will continue to receive support long after the Program ends via the Alumni Growth Program which offers access to alumni-only events, deals and tailored introductions.

Twenty-nine startups completed the first Startupbootcamp AfriTech Program and 90% of participating startups are still operating and scaling at impressive rates. What’s more, 40% have raised follow-on rounds of funding, with the average increase in valuation being 10x since their Demo Day.

In addition to a corporate partner, Telecel Group, Program sponsors include Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Hubspot, VC4A and Cloudworx. There are a limited number of slots for additional corporate Founding Partners to join the consortium. These partners will have the rare opportunity to help determine the key challenge areas that will be the focus of the Program’s startup scouting and sit on the exclusive selection committee that will choose the top 10 startups to participate. Additionally, they will have the chance to engage in curated pilot and proof of concept projects with select startups to accelerate innovation within their organisations.

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

https://thefintechtimes.com/telecel-group-open-to-applications-for-asip-accelerator-program-to-bolster-african-internet-economy/

MX and Moov Bring Instant Account Verification to Fintechs

https://finovate.com/mx-and-moov-bring-instant-account-verification-to-fintechs/

MX, which began the year with a $300 million investment that boosted its valuation to $1.9 billion, is collaborating with developer-first payments platform Moov Financial to give fintechs and other companies instant account verification (IAV) and money movement.

“Moov is transforming the way fintechs enable account verification, money movement, and ACH payments through APIs,” MX cofounder and CTO Brandon Dewitt said. “We align with their mission to help fintechs and organizations focus on building amazing new experiences. Fintechs like Moov are a big reason why a massive digital shift is happening across the banking industry.”

Moov enables platforms, marketplaces, and software companies to embed payment functionality into their solutions, providing seamless money acceptance, storage, and disbursement. The combined, turnkey solution enhances the account verification process, providing a faster, more secure, and reliable experience for customers who are adding banking or payment functionality to their offerings.

“Whether you think of yourself as a fintech or not, every modern company is seeking a way to automate its process to accept, store, and disburse money,” Moov CEO Wade Arnold said. “Developers want the best user experience possible for their application. MX’s ability to provide fast IAV makes the payment experience swift and more seamless than it would have been without the joint solution.”

A multiple time Finovate Best of Show winner, MX provides connectivity and data enhancement for more than 16,000 financial institutions and fintechs. The company powers 85% of digital banking providers, and serves thousands of banks, credit unions and fintechs. Among the Utah-based firm’s most recent collaborations is its partnership with AbbyBank. The $616 million asset community-owned bank launched its PFM solution – an embeddable digital money management tool powered by MX and offering budgeting, subscription tracking, debt management, and more – in March.

“With MX, AbbyBank is giving its customers across Wisconsin greater clarity into their personal finances,” MX Chief Customer Officer Nate Gardner said. “(It’s) exactly the kind of innovation, partnership and money experience that MX loves to enable through our powerful data platform.”

Founded in 2010, MX most recently demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2019.

https://finovate.com/mx-and-moov-bring-instant-account-verification-to-fintechs/

Paytech Kani Payments Announces Three Senior Hires After Hitting £5Billion Reconciliation Milestone

https://thefintechtimes.com/paytech-kani-payments-announces-three-senior-hires-after-hitting-5billion-reconciliation-milestone/

Following a successful 12-months, including processing and reconciling over £5 billion in payments volume, Kani Payments has appointed Alina Ciocan as Head of Finance, previously Finance Operations Manager, Melissa Beckett as Chief Marketing Officer and Sophie Harbisher at Data Science Lead.

Kani Payments

Kani PaymentsThe hires will meet growing demand from clients looking to make operational efficiencies and invest in payment reconciliation technology.

Founded by CEO, Aaron Holmes, Kani Payments empowers fintech’s, payments companies and challenger banks to better understand the complex payments ecosystem through payment reconciliation and reporting technology and upskilling in-house finance teams.

With a degree in Finance & Banks from the Academy of Economic Studies in Romania, and over 10 years of experience in the finance and payments industries, including with EE Mafcote International and Flex-e-Card, Alina leads the finance team, which includes supporting customers with their reconciliation and reporting requirements as well as influencing the finance process requirements of the Kani Payment’s progressive platform.

Melissa, meanwhile, previously led NatWest’s Business Accelerator Programme for the North. She is passionate about culture and has a wealth of experience in supporting fintech businesses from start-up to scale-up status. Her experience in technology and software marketing will see her drive the company’s growth strategy, including developing partnerships, international expansion and the customer journey.

Using data to gain valuable insights for Kani Payments’ clients and helping them to understand and manage their data, Sophie’s background in research statistics makes her a strategic Data Science Lead.

Sophie’s data insights focus brings automation to tedious matching of records as well as developing statistical models to gain insights into data trends to make predictions. Prior to joining Kani Payments, Sophie worked as a postgraduate research student in Bayesian statistics at Newcastle University, during which she completed a 3-month placement at IBEX Innovations.

Aaron Holmes, Chief Executive Officer of Kani Payments, commented: “Alina is a key member of the Kani team and is an expert in payments. She has done a brilliant job at leading our finance operation, which was a key factor in inviting Alina to head up the finance team as we move into a new stage of growth.

https://thefintechtimes.com/paytech-kani-payments-announces-three-senior-hires-after-hitting-5billion-reconciliation-milestone/

Finadvant Launches Business Banking Platform For SME International Trade

https://thefintechtimes.com/finadvant-launches-business-banking-platform-for-sme-international-trade/

London-based Finadvant has launched its business banking platform for SMEs that are involved in international trade. Founded by a group of ex-Bloomberg and City veterans, the company is on track to create a banking ecosystem for their niche customers by offering various services essential for global trade.

The business banking offering for SMEs in the UK is vast and often seems overwhelmingly saturated, although there is always a niche and an overseen opportunity. High street banks are often under regulatory pressure. Some of them are not accepting new business customers at the moment, and others have several month-long queues leading to lengthy and frustrating account opening processes. With the recent pandemic and free movement restrictions, a simple visit to your local high street branch can also be challenging. Digital banks mainly target small businesses and freelancers, and it is harder to receive a personalised business banking service from an online bank with global banking digitalisation.

Finadvant have identified the gap in the offered services and plan to deliver an alternative banking experience consolidating the best from the high street and digital banks. The existing system neglects the needs and realities of cross-border payments, especially for SMEs. Finadvant’s challenge is to make international payments more accessible to businesses and set a new standard of trading without borders across the global payments ecosystem.

Finadvant aims to deliver medium-sized trading companies a level and quality of banking service that high street banks would not typically deliver. A personal attitude from a dedicated relationship manager who will always be just a phone call or a chat message away.

Katya Dorofejeva, Finadvant co-founder and CEO, says: “Our goal is to create a personal banking experience by dealing with our customers as business partners, getting to know their business, understand their needs and offering the best solutions. We aim to create a business banking ecosystem where globally trading companies and their counterparties will be able to deal with their trading operations and money transactions quickly and hassle-free.”

Leonid Prujanski, co-founder and CFO/COO, added: “A considerable component of the process is the deep understanding of business during the onboarding process, use of best practices to assess our clients straight away and provide them with the necessary solution for their business needs. We know that we enter a competitive market, and there are a lot of challenges ahead. But we also know who our future customers are, what key needs and struggles they experience and how to address those and deliver a value-added service.”

Post-Brexit, Britain will rely more on global trade, while the banking services are not fully adapted to the new reality. Finadvant is on course to close the gap and become the go-to service provider in the UK with a European expansion plan later this year.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/finadvant-launches-business-banking-platform-for-sme-international-trade/

Stablecoin News for the week ending Wednesday 21st April.

https://dailyfintech.com/2021/04/21/stablecoin-news-for-the-week-ending-wednesday-21st-april/

Something old – something new?

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

This week we saw advances with old style stablecoins as well as with the new bright shiny Digital ones.

The original stablecoin, The International Monetary Fund’s special drawing right or SDR created in 1969 to prepare for a new dollar crisis – is undergoing a renaissance, with important worldwide repercussions. The announcement of by far the largest-ever increase in SDR allocations, which will greatly improve the liquidity of many developing nations, signals alignment between the US and China in a key area of global monetary power.

The massive increase in SDR reserves – which can be converted into its five constituents: the dollar (42%), euro (31%), renminbi (11%), yen (8%) and sterling (8%) – indirectly boosts the Chinese currency’s international reserve role. As Geoffrey Yu of Bank of New York Mellon wrote in July 2020, ‘China may have an additional interest in pushing for a general [SDR] issue, as it is a shortcut to a significant de jure nominal increase in the global level of renminbi reserves.’

SDR proposals could help reset international monetary system

This week also saw the UK take another step towards a Bank of England digital currency after the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a top-level taskforce to explore the benefits and risks of the idea.

Sunak said he wanted the City to be at the forefront of innovation and to take advantage of regulatory freedom after Brexit. The Treasury said two new forums would be established to engage technical experts and key stakeholders including financial institutions, retailers, businesses, civil society groups and consumers.

Rishi Sunak launches taskforce on Bank of England digital currency

In the meantime, the ECB published an overview of the consultation responses it received on its digital euro survey.  The results show a variety of demands a digital euro would need to fulfil, including privacy, security, low costs and ease of use. 

https://think.ing.com/articles/where-next-with-the-digital-euro

Clearly, German citizens are engaged in the CBDC space with nearly half of the respondents coming from there.  A total of 43% of respondents to the ECB’s public consultation named privacy as the most important consideration for any eurozone central bank digital currency (CBDC). Another 18% of participants chose security as the most important issue, while 11% selected the ability to pay across eurozone countries.

ECB’s digital euro consultation reveals public’s privacy fears – FX Markets (fx-markets.com)

Christine Lagagrde is quoted as saying “the feature citizens say they would value most is privacy, but they don’t want such a digital currency to be anonymous”.   Which is an interesting interpretation of the data and rather self serving.  

The European Central Bank makes clear that the development of its “digital euro” and in the UK the Bank of England with its “digital pound” will take several years. Yet given the geopolitical context and the potential impact, banks should better pay attention. 

These are still early days but the fight for who gets to control what is well and truly underway.  The more important question is not even being asked, are they building something old or something new?   My view, for what it is worth, is it had better be something new that works in consumers rather than regulators interests or it will die in the marketplace whenever it is finally released.

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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. 

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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.

https://dailyfintech.com/2021/04/21/stablecoin-news-for-the-week-ending-wednesday-21st-april/

UK Fintech News: The Latest Stories 21/04

https://thefintechtimes.com/uk-fintech-news-the-latest-stories-21-04/

Each week, The Fintech Times takes a look at the top stories in British fintech. In today’s roundup, a report finds the London financial services sector is on the road to recovery,  nine out of ten businesses in Leeds felt outdated technology systems were hindering their ability to keep up with new challenges, and 71% of Britons expect businesses to continue to adopt touchless technology even post COVID-19 

Morgan McKinley finds London financial services sector on road to recovery as vacancies surge

london

londonThe latest figures from Morgan McKinley’s Quarterly London Employment Monitor reveal that London’s Financial Services industry has returned to hiring growth in 2021, with overall job numbers and professionals looking for new roles in good health compared to the previous quarter. They revealed a 70% quarter-on-quarter increase in jobs available, with a 50% increase in March 2021 in jobs available compared to March 2020.

Hakan Enver, Managing Director, Morgan McKinley UK commented“Financial Services has had a strong start to 2021. As the vaccine rollout continues apace and the road out of lockdown clears, we are seeing the sector recover at a faster rate than anticipated. We expect this recovery and confidence to continue as the country unlocks and normal working life resumes.”

The 70% increase in job creation this quarter is encouraging and suggests that the crisis has turned a corner, with confidence growing, which in turn is fuelling hiring activity and momentum. Banks are back in expansion mode with a strong uplift in appetite for hiring experienced professionals.

Report reveals how Leeds businesses adapted during the pandemic

Nine out of ten businesses across the Leeds region felt outdated technology systems were hindering their ability to keep up with new challenges and the pace of change, according to a new report launched by Adyen, a global payments platform. Despite this, the report highlights how many businesses in the city have successfully pivoted and continued to grow during this difficult period.

Leeds

Leeds

A widespread shift towards online selling has helped keep businesses afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The tough conditions have placed a renewed importance on digital solutions for businesses across the region. To support income during periods of local and national restrictions, many have adopted new solutions for sales, delivery, and customer experience to help them survive. The report also found that community was a powerful success driver in Leeds, with a genuine spirit of pulling together manifesting itself in the city’s many communities and networks.

Colin Neil, SVP Business Development (UK) at Adyen, said: “We’re excited to share the first of our City Reports. By speaking to customers, partners, and local experts, we hope to shine a light on key challenges and growth areas in some of the UK’s most exciting cities. Leeds is an important Northern tech hub with a high concentration of technology solution providers, making it a great place to operate if digitisation is high on your list. It’s also, as the report reveals, home to a powerful business community which works together to drive everyone forwards.”

Dojo Launches Socially Distanced Payment Stick

UK card payments provider, Dojo, has launched a socially distanced payment pole to enable effortless and hygienic transactions for businesses and pubs as we begin to return to normality.

Dojo socially distanced card reader

Dojo has created the handheld pole to easily attach to card machines to enable a safe distance for employees when taking payments. The pole enables a payment terminal device to be fastened securely to the end of a long handle which customers can pay by card or mobile devices.

Guy Moreve, Chief Marketing Officer at Dojo,  part of the Paymentsense brand, commented: “Wait staff often get caught short by failed card transactions – due to poor internet connectivity outside of their pub or restaurant building. This will provide a huge challenge for small and medium businesses that can only reopen with outside service – and want to encourage contactless-only payments, for hygiene and safety.

“Dojo card machines have both Wi-Fi and 3G/4G SIM connectivity which enables hospitality staff to take reliable and secure payments from customers outdoors, without a Wi-Fi connection. That means pubs and restaurants that use our services would no longer need to worry about changing their payment policy at the last minute and benefit from having mobile SIM connectivity, continuing to trade even if their Wi-Fi fails.”

71% of Britons expect businesses to continue to adopt touchless technology even post COVID-19 

contactless touchless payment

contactless touchless paymentWith COVID-19 showing no signs of subsiding, businesses have begun to rethink ways to operate differently and allay the nagging doubts and fears about the pandemic. While sensors and voice-activated tech were in play even before the pandemic, smartphone apps and QR codes seem to have become the new touchless enablers, narrowing the gap between humans and technology even further. After appearing in commercial establishments such as retail outlets and malls, touchless tech has now spilled over to workplaces as employees slowly begin their return to work. As life gets back to normal amid the ongoing pandemic, what expectations do people have from businesses around them? Piplsaypolled 30,173 Americans and 6,090 Britons to get some insights. 

According to the report, 44% of Britons say their preference for touchless technology has increased amid COVID-19 as compared 51% of Americans. 35% of Britons hold a negative view of businesses that do not adopt touchless technology, (with 40% of Americans thinking the same), and only 49% of Americans and 34% of Britons are extremely comfortable with the increasing level of human-technology interaction.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/uk-fintech-news-the-latest-stories-21-04/

The Future of Retail Banking: Keeping Up With the Pace of Change

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-future-of-retail-banking-keeping-up-with-the-pace-of-change/

In an age when the demand for instant access to financial services boasts an insatiable appetite, retail banking must continuously develop its processes to meet such a high demand. 

Neil Vernon, CTO, Gresham TechnologiesNeil Vernon, CTO, Gresham Technologies
Neil Vernon, CTO, Gresham Technologies

One man with valuable insight into changing landscape is Gresham Technologies CTO Neil Vernon. With a long history in development management and the market provision of enterprise-grade solutions, he has been responsible for setting product strategy and development, using his knowledge of reconciliations, cash equities, settlements and back-office technology to great effect.

Prior to joining Gresham, Neil worked within some of the industry’s largest organisations, developing leading-edge solutions in finance. Neil developed and took to market a combination of business activity monitoring (BAM) and complex event processing (CEP) products, and led product implementations at HvB, JP Morgan, ABN AMRO, and Lehman Brothers.

Here he discusses the significant period of change that retail banking is currently facing, and how the utilisation of data can greatly improve its processes.

The banking industry is being reshaped. Changes in consumer behaviour, technological developments, and regulatory requirements, are all creating new demands.

Consumers now want to open savings accounts in seconds, have a mortgage in minutes and open a business account with a click of a button. This demand lives alongside the proliferation of digital payments in the last 12 months as the switch from cash becomes a reality, regulation increasing and competition from nimble challenger banks and big tech companies is entering the world of financial services. There’s also the challenge of retaining customers and engaging in a way that suits them – especially as initiatives such as the seven-day switch in the UK have made it easier for customers to jump from one provider back to another. And negative interest rates and slowdowns in consumer spending across many markets threaten the profitability of retail banking services, increasing the pressure to innovate.

There’s a lot to keep banks on their toes. But there is a solution. Data. Relevant and validated data – that can be easily reconciled and controlled. Trusted data to base business decisions on. It’s having the right processes and controls around data that will be the foundation to ensuring banks can survive the change and evolve for the better.

Innovation held back by legacy tech and data

What is stopping innovation? The big challenge is innovative new products can require different kinds of control frameworks, with an agile, flexible approach. But behind the scenes, banks’ infrastructure and data make this difficult. Extensive M&A activity in the retail banking sector has created a tangled web of interconnected technology which is not always well understood, and left data siloed in different formats and systems. This puts those responsible for building controls on the back foot from the start.

Regulatory activity only adds to the pressure. Post-financial crisis, regulators have focused on ensuring that consumers have more knowledge of, and control over, their banking products and services. Whilst the industry has welcomed this, it also requires banks to have data and controls which allow them to say with confidence that these obligations have been met – and to demonstrate this to the regulator if required.

Banks also have to contend with increasing customer expectations – the ease, flexibility, and speed that we have come to expect across all areas of our lives, including banking. Firms are developing highly innovative solutions in response, but the controls which sit behind them must also support this desire for immediacy and excellence.

This is still relatively new to retail banking, and the greater the demand for immediacy, the smaller the window to manage any issues which might impact the customer. The consequences of a control failure are arguably more visible – and more severe – in the retail banking space due to the effect on individual consumers.

With one estimate suggesting that retail banks could expect at least a 20% fall in revenue, it’s clear that the pressure is on to do more with less. This is why automation for retail banking controls is an increasingly hot topic, freeing up staff to focus on more complex elements which require a human touch.

How data is reshaping retail banking

Whilst addressing years of legacy issues may be daunting, the key is to tackle the underlying issues that stop progress. It’s about having a data-agnostic solution, which can bring together data from multiple sources and siloes across your organisation. This is what will add value.  With the pace of innovation and change in the retail sector, the only approach that really makes sense is to have all your controls in one strategic solution, bringing together data from touchpoints and systems across your organisation. Not only does this increase efficiency, but it also increases the control that you have over your business in a fast-changing and demanding environment.

If you have the right data available at the right time, you can understand customer behaviour and be able to adapt at speed to their individual needs. Getting in control of your data puts you back in control of your destiny.

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-future-of-retail-banking-keeping-up-with-the-pace-of-change/

PwC CBDC Global Index Finds UK Ahead of Europe on Digital Currency Adoption

https://thefintechtimes.com/pwc-cbdc-global-index-finds-uk-ahead-of-europe-on-digital-currency-adoption/

The UK is leading the way across Europe in preparing for the adoption of an interbank digital currency and is fifth in the world. However, a consumer offer remains some way off, according to new analysis by PwC.

The first PwC CBDC Global Index reveals that the Bahamas is winning the race to implement a retail digital currency underwritten by its central bank, followed closely by Cambodia, with China behind in third position. When analysing interbank or wholesale projects, Thailand and Hong Kong rank joint first, ahead of Singapore, Canada and the UK.

Like other forms of cryptocurrency, CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) is a form of virtual money that uses an electronic record or digital token to represent cash, however it is issued and regulated by a country’s monetary authority – which in the UK is the Bank of England. Retail CBDC can be directly held by citizens and businesses, while interbank/wholesale CBDC is restricted to use by financial institutions and wholesale entities alone for interbank payments and financial settlement processes.

The PwC CBDC Global Index is designed to measure central banks’ level of maturity in deploying their own digital currency – both retail and interbank/wholesale.

Retail CBDC projects appear to be more advanced in emerging economies with financial inclusion stated as the driver for the project, given users do not need to be part of the banking ecosystem, as is the case with digital debit or credit card payments. Wholesale efforts are mostly undertaken in more advanced economies, with more developed interbank systems and capital markets.

Globally, more than 60 central banks have already entered the central bank digital currency race since 2014, with 88% of the ongoing CBDC projects, at pilot or production phase, using blockchain as the underlying technology.

In the UK, the Bank of England has consulted on the introduction of a wholesale CBDC while the Government is currently consulting on how it can best establish a regulatory framework for stablecoins – a form of cryptocurrency pegged to an external currency such as sterling, or the dollar, as opposed to the unrestricted nature of other cryptocurrencies, which usually don’t offer the same level of consumer protection.

According to the Bank of England, cash use in the UK dropped from 63% of all payments in 2006 to just 28% in 2018. This has fallen further during the pandemic, with a surge in mobile wallet payments on smartphones. This indicates a willingness in the UK to adopt CBDC, where the main benefit over digital wallet payments is the reduction in transaction costs across the payment chain.

Haydn Jones, UK Blockchain & Crypto specialist, PwC UK, commented: “The emergence of CBDC is a big milestone in the evolution of money. It’s a true game-changer, providing access to alternative payment solutions for citizens and corporates, as well as reinventing financial market settlement and interbank monetary transactions.

“The general public will be one of the biggest beneficiaries, as for the first time they will have access to a digital form of central bank money. And as sovereign digital cash, it also contributes to further financial inclusion efforts by contributing to modernise the current monetary system while helping to bridge the gap with the unbanked.

“Digital currency, backed by an asset held on a central bank balance sheet, will also support supply chains, securities settlement and potentially find its way onto social media platforms.”

The global picture

Looking at the most advanced projects globally, retail efforts have already produced two live projects in the Bahamas and Cambodia. No wholesale CBDC projects have reached this maturity level yet. However, nearly 70% of wholesale projects are already running pilots, while only 23% of retail projects have reached this implementation stage. The two live projects are in the Bahamas with the Sand Dollar and Cambodia, with project Bakong.

The Index also found that Advanced Wholesale CBDC projects have on average shorter research stages than retail programmes but longer pilot stages. There are no live projects as yet but there are very advanced pilot initiatives. Cross-border projects make up the majority of the most advanced initiatives, allowing Central Banks to test cross-border connectivity and project interoperability, examples include Hong Kong-Thailand, Singapore-Canada, Europe-Japan, United Arab Emirates-Saudi Arabia. Most advanced interbank/wholesale projects are expanding their scope to test interconnectivity with other interbank projects or the potential of linking with retail projects.

PwC has analysed those CBDC projects yet to join the PwC Global CBDC Index Top 10, whether retail or wholesale, but are otherwise advanced in digital finance and cryptocurrency frameworks. Notably absent are projects supporting the Euro area, Switzerland, Italy and the United States.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/pwc-cbdc-global-index-finds-uk-ahead-of-europe-on-digital-currency-adoption/

Unifimoney, Backed by Railsbank, Launch Crypto Reward Based Credit Card

https://thefintechtimes.com/unifimoney-backed-by-railsbank-launch-crypto-reward-based-credit-card/

The Unifi Premier credit card has been launched by Unifimoney, the digital money management platform. The new credit card offers customers a unique rewards option as they are given the choice to redeem them as Bitcoin, Gold or Equity. The company has partnered with Railsbank, the Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform, and is working with Visa through its Fintech Fast Track Program.

Designed for young professionals, Unifi Premier makes it effortless for customers to redeem cashback options in an investment asset of their choice. Furthering Unifimoney’s commitment to sustainability, Unifi Premier is produced from recovered ocean plastic with contributions to the Ocean Foundation.

“High-income professionals’ ability to efficiently manage and grow their wealth is limited by the need to manually work with multiple services and apps. To solve this problem, we created a comprehensive money management app to support the wealth ambitions and values of forward-thinking professionals who care about their financial well-being,” said Ben Soppitt, Co-Founder and CEO of Unifimoney. “By combining simplicity, clear value, technical innovation, philanthropy, and sustainability in a credit card, we hope to help our community maximise their hard-earned money with rewards that invest in their future.”

As consumer behaviour and lifestyles shift away from consumerism and towards investing in future wealth creation, points and rewards-based travel credit cards have become increasingly outdated. The Unifi Premier credit card offers high-income professionals the opportunity to maximise their hard-earned money through a variety of investment channels, without dealing with the cumbersome setbacks of redeeming low-value rewards points from standard credit cards. For customers’ to efficiently and transparently manage their growing wealth, the Unifimoney iOS applications deliver a suite of easy-to-use card management tools. Unifimoney is the only app that offers banking, credit, insurance, and four ways to invest including passive
investing with robo portfolios and auto-invest, access to 33 cryptocurrencies, active trading commission free, and the ability to trade Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Palladium.

“Banking as a Service has led to the reimagination of so many financial products, delivering fairer finances for all. Credit cards were the last hold out, until now. Railsbank built Credit Card as a Service (CCaaS) to help companies such a Unifimoney bring their ideas to life with a turn-key, modern infrastructure, hassle-free. Ben and his team have a depth of experience and a wharf of amazing ideas to share with the world. We’re super excited to partner and pioneer!” Said Dov Marmor, COO, Railsbank, NA.

Planned to be live in Q3, applications for the Unifi Premier credit card will open to Unifimoney customers in phases and gradually be opened up to all Unifimoney customers subsequently.

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

https://thefintechtimes.com/unifimoney-backed-by-railsbank-launch-crypto-reward-based-credit-card/

KPMG Report finds Investment in UK Innovators Reached Record Levels in Q1 2021

https://thefintechtimes.com/kpmg-report-finds-investment-in-uk-innovators-reached-record-levels-in-q1-2021/

Venture Capital (VC) investment in UK scaleup businesses reached record levels in the first three months of the year, as investors looked to deploy a significant amount of dry powder in late-stage deals, according to new research.

Venture Pulse – a quarterly report published by KPMG Private Enterprise, recorded more than £5.1billion of VC investment into fast-growth UK businesses in Q1 21, up 25% on the previous high of £3.9billion raised in Q4 20. Despite the challenging economic conditions, fast-growth businesses in the UK attracted nearly double the £2.7bn raised in the same quarter last year.

Whilst Germany, the Nordics, Spain and Israel also recorded new investment highs, the UK attracted the lion’s share of large deals, accounting for seven of the top 10 financings taking place in Europe in the opening quarter of the year. A total of £15.1billion was raised across Europe in the first quarter of the year, with the UK accounting for over a third.

Commenting on the findings, Bina Mehta, Chair of KPMG UK and head of the KPMG’s Emerging Giants practice said: “The UK continues to be the powerhouse of Europe when it comes to attracting investment in fast-growth innovative companies. Whilst the number of deals taking place in the first quarter of the year was down by 23% on Q4 20, it was our ability to grow and nurture large innovative businesses that attracted VC investors from across the globe. Average deal size is larger, continuing a trend in later-stage investment.

“The fact that the amount of VC investment coming into the UK from overseas increased in this post-Brexit environment is encouraging, as was the continued strength of Corporate VC investment. The UK continues to be an attractive investment destination, particularly for US and Asian VC investors who have a strong appetite for our fast growth, innovative businesses.

“There is a huge amount of capital still available for businesses with strong management teams and proven growth plans. Following the global pandemic, the global VC market moved at an incredible pace, with £92bn invested in innovative companies globally. Continuing to focus on enhancing our competitiveness post Brexit is key, but supporting our disruptors, particularly early-stage businesses will be crucial in order to continue to develop our ecosystem and maintain our global position as leaders in innovation. “

The fintech sector powers mega deals

Interest and valuations for fintech businesses continued to accelerate in Q1 21, with UK fintechs raising £1.9billion in VC investment.

Three UK based fintechs raised large rounds, including LendInvest (£500 million), Checkout.com (£325 million), and Rapyd (£217 million). With its £11billion valuation, Checkout.com became the most valuable fintech company in Europe in January before Klarna’s raise put it at a £22billion valuation. Interest in B2B was also high as corporates looked to leverage fintechs not only to digitise products and enhance their customer experience but to improve their general operations.

VC and CVC investment in Europe is expected to remain robust in Q2 21, with more megadeals and large acquisitions potentially on the horizon. There is continued interest in IPOs and use of special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) mergers, a phenomenon that has been building in the US in recent quarters. With SPACs becoming increasingly popular, it is an area to watch for the UK which has yet to follow suit – especially to maintain our leading global position in the fintech space.

Mehta commented: “The UK will remain strong for fintech given its forward-thinking approach to regulation, UK-wide expertise and pool of talent. With the outcome of equivalence decisions with the EU yet to be decided it’s important that the Financial Services sector continues to be outward-looking, making our markets more efficient, and competitive, including embracing the new digital capital markets and currencies.

“B2B services is a fast-growing area of VC investment both for VC and CVC investors. Growing numbers of FinTechs are focusing on B2B services –offering everything from financial tools for SMEs to solutions focused on enhancing cash flow or managing accounting requirements. Given the number of local and global financial institutions looking to improve their legacy tech and infrastructure, it is likely that there will continue to be significant investments in this space as we go through 2021.”

The sectors to watch

VC investment in service on-demand companies has increased dramatically within the last 12 months, making it a sector to watch in 2021. With the likes of Deliveroo creating a culture for quick takeaway delivery, it’s no surprise consumers now turn their attention to grocery shopping. In the UK, since the beginning of 2021 five new players have emerged on the market – the speedy grocery delivery sector is young but it’s catching the attention of the VC landscape.

Fintech, B2B services, business productivity, and cybersecurity will likely remain attractive to investors, while ESG is expected to continue to gain traction.

Red flags over seed funding

Whilst the median pre-valuation for deals rose for Series C and Series D+ rounds, seed funding by VCs in the UK fell by 40% in the first quarter of the year compared to Q1 20. Although angel investment in UK businesses has increased over the last 12 months, VCs appear to be particularly attracted to later stage, less risk-averse investments.

There are lots of alternative funding to traditional VC for early-stage businesses in the UK, from accelerator programmes to university spin-outs. The Future Fund launched in May 2020 and the British Business Bank confirmed that around £1.2 billion of loans has been approved for more than 1,200 companies. However, approximately a third of the Future Fund investment has gone to seed stage, meaning the remaining went to venture and growth-stage companies – suggesting more needs to be done to support future entrepreneurs.

Mehta added: “As seed-stage activity falls, it diminishes the pipeline for venture and growth-stage deals in the future. Access to finance is huge for startup businesses and the UK has a plentiful supply of small businesses looking to grow.

“The VC market is performing incredibly well right now and there is little sign that the activity will taper off in the near future. There continues to be a significant amount of dry powder in the market – and that money is looking for a home. If there’s any caution, it’s that deals continue to focus primarily on late-stage companies – driving valuations up – while early-stage deals continue to be more difficult to come by. If our smaller startups can’t attract VC investment, we need to ensure we continue to provide other funding streams or risk losing our global reputation as the pipeline for emerging giants falls away.”

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/kpmg-report-finds-investment-in-uk-innovators-reached-record-levels-in-q1-2021/

Finch Capital Acquire Wirecard Payment Entities in APAC Region Through Nomu Pay

https://thefintechtimes.com/finch-capital-acquire-wirecard-payment-entities-in-apac-region-through-nomu-pay/

Wirecard Payment entities in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have been acquired by Finch Capital, through Nomu Pay, after an agreement was reached.

The transactions are expected to be completed in May 2021 for Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong, and for the Philippines later in the year. In March 2021, Nomu Pay announced plans to acquire Wirecard Turkey. Details on Management, Strategy and Rebranding will be provided at closing.

This investment is part of Nomu Pay’s larger plan to build out a leading unified payment company in high growth customer segments in EMEA and Asia. Following these deals, Nomu Pay will be active in five countries, with access to markets of 300 million people and a GDP equal to that of India.

Radboud Vlaar, Managing Partner Finch Capital, comments: “As a pan-European and pan-Asian firm we are bullish on the growth in these regions and have reserved significant capital to invest in them through Nomu Pay. Acquiring Wirecard APAC’s key entities provides us with access and infrastructure to invest in improving the payments landscape for millions of people.”

Nomu Pay’s interest in Wirecard subsidiaries in Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines is the unique opportunity to deliver unified payments services to these markets:

  • Hong Kong is the main financial centre of the region, and through Wirecard, Nomu Pay can deliver payment services to clients in this regional and financial hub. Merchant acquiring is currently not regulated in HK and there are local (principal) memberships in place with the largest card schemes.
  • Thailand is a fast-growing market, and this is a unique opportunity to deliver payments services there with an E-Payment service license from the Bank of Thailand.
  • Malaysia is a fully operational regional hub for delivering payment services in the region, and Wirecard Malaysia is a principal member of Visa and Mastercard and registered merchant acquirer under the supervision of the local central bank.
  • Wirecard Philippines has a payment license, EMI license and local (principal) memberships with the major card schemes. In the Philippines both payment and e-money services are included, so we can offer payment issuing, acquiring and wallet services to local businesses.

Hans de Back, Managing Partner at Finch Capital, comments: “The Covid-19 outbreak has drastically accelerated Southeast Asia’s shift to a cashless world, with unprecedented growth in the number of e-payment transactions. With this acquisition, we hope to play a substantial role in the next frontier of the region’s payments infrastructure.”

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

https://thefintechtimes.com/finch-capital-acquire-wirecard-payment-entities-in-apac-region-through-nomu-pay/

Innovate Finance and Austrade Sign New International Hub Membership

https://thefintechtimes.com/innovate-finance-and-austrade-sign-new-international-hub-membership/

Innovate Finance, the UK fintech membership association, has welcomed the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) as its latest International hub member.

Innovate Finance will support Austrade in its mission to expand opportunities for Australian fintechs seeking to build new and strengthen existing connections to the UK fintech ecosystem. Building on the success of the existing UK-Australia FinTech Bridge, it sees this partnership as an excellent opportunity to develop deeper connections between the two countries at an important time, enabling their respective fintech communities to take advantage of opportunities overseas.

Charlotte Crosswell, CEO of Innovate Finance, said: “I am delighted to welcome Austrade as our newest International Hub member. As we emerge from the pandemic, the UK has a vital role to play as a leader in fintech, and we look forward to working with Austrade to build deeper connections between our respective fintech ecosystems.”

Austrade is spearheading Australia’s fintech ambitions overseas, with the purpose to support the development of a vibrant fintech industry. It aims to facilitate collaboration among the participants and stakeholders of the fintech ecosystem, and develop global relationships that will advance the country’s ambitious fintech vision.

More than 250 global members have joined the Innovate Finance ecosystem to date. These companies range from seed-stage start-ups to global financial institutions and professional services firms. All benefit from Innovate Finance’s leading position as a single point of access to promote enabling policy and regulation, talent development, and business opportunity and investment capital.

Jennifer Mackinlay, A/g General Manager Europe, Austrade, said: “On behalf of Austrade, I am thrilled about this Austrade – Innovate Finance collaboration. This partnership will be a real enabler for Australian fintechs seeking to do business in the UK and UK fintechs looking to set up in Australia. It will equally provide a fantastic platform for our respective fintech ecosystems to grow their collaboration.”

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/innovate-finance-and-austrade-sign-new-international-hub-membership/