Countering Money Laundering Through Gametech

Anti-Money Laundering continues to be a growing global concern as the expansion of AML regulations continues around the globe and high-profile cases appear in the news. As money-launderers get more sophisticated with new ways of laundering dirty money, such as cryptocurrency, it’s ever more important to ensure employees in regulated sectors get the very latest AML training.

With the consequences for failure meaning large fines, or even jail, AML compliance needs to be much more than a tick-box exercise. To combat this AML legal experts, law firm Erling Grimstad, have teamed up with gamification experts Attensi to create a new interactive app which provides anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing training.

The Fintech Times caught up with the firm’s managing director, Erling Grimstad, to find out more:

Why did you decide on a gamified training solution to counteract money-laundering?

In the period 2016-2018 there were new regulations implemented from the EU. 1000s of employees in obliged entities needed to be trained in anti-money laundering (AML) and we couldn’t see a way to conduct the standardised face-to-face training for all of them, so we needed a new way of digitally delivering this learning. We took part in AML e-learning for employees, but found it to be boring for the employees, so we knew that wasn’t the way forward.

Attensi creates gamified training simulations, which like playing any game are much more interactive and enjoyable – you have to really demonstrate understanding at each stage of the playthrough in order to advance forward and ultimately be certified.

With the AML App we’ve recently launched, employees can be certified within days. But their learning journey doesn’t stop there – after certification, the enjoyable nature of a gamified training process lead staff to continue to train. We have recorded unprecedented engagement numbers.

There continues to be high profile AML cases in the news. Why do you think we are failing to combat money-laundering and what do you think could – or should – be done?

We have been giving advice to all kinds of different obliged entities across the EU and we believe a main reason they fail to comply is the lack of understanding and competence from the people who deal with the clients on the daily basis right up to the board members.

Everyone in the regulated sectors needs to stay abreast of AML and be well-trained in how to spot suspicious activity.

What are the risks around money-laundering for businesses?

If an institution fails to comply with money laundering regulations it can have both a negative corporate and personal implication.

Reputation in the market is at risk for non-compliance, the value of shares usually drop if a company is mentioned in money laundering case. On top of that you can get fined significant amounts if found negligent.

You can also lose your license to operate as a bank or financial institution, and an employee of a company that is involved with money laundering can be investigated by the police as an individual.

What rules and procedures should you put in place?

Training is a vital part of the protection of the entire organisation because there is a legal framework and specific requirements to which you must comply.

You must have a robust anti-money laundering policy and understand any weakness in your organisation, conduct risk assessments and build policies to inform all employees to protect the company, with good internal controls and stay abreast of AML regulations at all times.

You must give employees enough information to understand who is responsible for how to onboard and offboard a customer and what is their obligation within the identity verification process with clients.

How does this AML app create a ‘compliance culture’ where people continuously think about the risks?

The impact of the AML app is that it highlights indicators of suspicious activity.

Attensi has created a lot of different interactions to prevent it from just being a tick-box exercise and something people want to practice and get better at – it’s an enjoyable learning simulation that encourages players to repeat modules until they master the topic, or even beat their colleagues!

For example, the answers change every time you play through and so you must understand to progress.

The dialogue changes throughout the game depending on what you answer, and you need to answer correctly in different circumstances.

What’s interesting is that after people have continued to use it, they get better and achieve a higher score – almost like a competition – so they repeat the training for enjoyment and interest rather than a classroom where you attend just to get your qualification.

Senior management can receive reports outlining the results from training sessions for the employees, so they can also identify where their weak points are and can dial up their own training or internal processes.

How do you know the App helps protect organisations from criminal activity?

The app uses practical examples and ethical dilemmas that you have to solve. The player is in a position where they have to make a choice. You are trained in different situational dilemmas such as how to speak to clients and colleagues and be compliant with AML regulations.

Also, we factor in trends and patterns used by real criminals. By using anonymous AML examples, they learn through storytelling scenarios that feel real.

How regularly is the app updated?

We track changes in the regulations and practices from the FSA’s then we identify and implement the most common compliance needs before addressing it with Attensi who design it into the in-app play, updating any necessary modules.

Do you think lawmakers will add more regulations and increase pressure on the financial sector?

Regulation is rising, resulting in more and more requests from clients who wish to include their own content and features, making the app bespoke their needs.

We can provide the app in their branding and add in the back-office function to include local legislation, meeting the need for compliance in their organisation.

What next for gamified training in financial and professional services?

At the moment we are focusing on developing the in-play dialogues, as these scenarios are the most motivating and practical side of a gamified simulation app.

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

Why Two German Fintech Startups IDNOW and Getsafe Chose to Expand to London Despite Brexit

The English writer and poet Samuel Johnson was of the opinion: “He who has grown tired of London is tired of life; for London is all that life has to offer”. – as far back as the 18th century. In the last decade, the technology and financial sectors have helped London and the UK economy boom. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the impacts of a global pandemic, the UK capital continues to be a leading financial centre and a global hub for fintech.

Fintech is one of London’s tech sector’s biggest successes. A recent study by London & Partners and revealed the UK capital dominates the European fintech investment landscape. London fintechs also demonstrated their resilience as they adapted and innovated to the changing demands brought about by the pandemic. In 2020, VC investments into London‘s fintech companies was $4.3 billion, putting London in second place globally – behind San Francisco and ahead of New York. The study also shows that US fintech investors are increasingly looking to London for investment opportunities. In 2020, US investors accounted for 61% of total VC investment into London-based fintechs – up on 2019 investment levels.

Fintech companies are seizing the moment: recent data from Mastercard shows that contactless payments are growing rapidly in the UK and digital adoption has accelerated. British fintech service providers are benefiting from an increase in customers. Critics may argue that London’s fintech scene is being overtaken by other hubs such as Singapore, Zurich or cities in the US. But there is no denying that London remains a global leader in the sector.

Access to venture capital, tech-savvy customers and a thriving fintech market is attracting international companies to look to London for their expansion. This is the case for two Germany fintechs – Getsafe and Idnow. But how did the two startups make it to London and why was this the right move for them despite the pandemic and Brexit?

IDnow’s successful expansion into London

IDnow is a provider of Identity Verification as a Service solutions. Founded in March 2014, the Munich-based startup has won over 250 corporate customers – including Commerzbank, car rental company Sixt and smartphone bank N26. In 2019, US financial investor Corsair Capital joined the fintech for 36 million euros. The company then expanded to London. The demand for IDnow solutions was already high and the UK capital was an important strategic location for the company to be successful internationally.

German technologies are generally in great demand in the UK because they are considered trustworthy and particularly secure. Roger Tyrzyk, Head of Sales UK/I at IDnow and a long-standing industry expert, has driven the local market entry and heads the sales, service and marketing team in London. Currently, the team consists of ten people in the UK with offices in Canary Wharf and Manchester.

“For the companies here, our experience with the strict regulations of BaFin in Germany and the AI technology developed in Germany is a great advantage. For us, building a team on the ground is the logical step to provide the best possible service to these clients,” says Roger Tyrzyk, Head
of Sales UK at IDnow.

The IDnow data centre is located in Nuremberg, so it operates according to German security standards and is subject to one of the strictest data protection regulations in the world. Compliance is particularly strict in Germany and IDnow meets these standards, one of the reason companies around the world choose to work with them.

Customers welcome IDnow with open arms in London

According to IDnow, the advantages of being in London were obvious and UK customers welcomed their expansion. In no other location do so many fintechs, banks, and talent congregate in one place than in London. There is access to highly skilled talent ready to join the team as well as thousands of other fintechs – competition stimulates business – and companies as potential new customers. London is also an ideal location for further expansion – be it to Paris, Manchester, Munich or even outside Europe. After all, the capital is very international, with connections to the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore, the United States and South America. Being in London makes it easier to get in touch with non-European companies.

After launching in Germany, start-ups are well prepared for London expansion

For IDnow, it was comparatively easy to set up a UK Limited company in London. To set up a company in Germany is full of complexity and bureacracy. To establish themselves in London they had to set up communication channels in the new office and build up their brand.

“In the British market, for example, so-called eKYC checks are very popular. That is why we have integrated this function into our platform. It should be noted, however, that IDnow AutoIdent is significantly more secure than the tech standard in the UK,” explains Tyrzyk.

The exit from the EU, which was already considered possible at the time, had no impact on IDnow’s decision to expand. The company factored both scenarios into its corporate strategy in advance and was prepared accordingly. Brexit does not have a major impact on IDnow, as its solutions comply with the standards in the EU and the German BaFin. In fact, the company even has a competitive advantage over UK-based companies, as data transfer from a third country to the EU is complicated.

Tyrzyk explains: “As the world’s leading financial centre, London was at all times an important strategic location for us, even in a possible Brexit scenario.”

Although the entire UK team has always worked from home, IDNow also had to deal with lockdown issues: clients, business partners and colleagues could not meet in person. However, the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation and given the business an additional boost: The lockdown has made digital verification more necessary and accepted. IDnow was able to profit from the operational business but is also looking forward to a return to more normality.

“Of course, no one could have expected a pandemic in 2019. Despite the personal limitations, it was more of an accelerator for the IDnow business and our product,” Tyrzyk recalls.

Think global with Getsafe Insurance

Like IDnow, Getsafe also recently expanded to London. Getsafe was founded in 2015 to make insurance attractive again – with the help of the first digital insurance manager. Users manage all contracts consistently via smartphone app – a key factor that differentiates the start-up from other competitors on the German market. One year later, the insurance manager becomes a provider. In 2019, Getsafe receives a €15 million Series A financing, which enables its European expansion. Their business model is focused on young professionals who want to build up insurance cover and the strategic goal is to become a full insurer.

Right now, Getsafe is still working with different risk carriers in the background in order to offer further insurance products, especially in the pension area, such as life insurance and occupational disability insurance. A year ago, the time had come: the digital insurance provider launched a new digital household insurance product in the UK. Managing director and founder Christian Wiens was responsible for the expansion step and initially decided to organise everything from Germany.

London as the ideal starting point for European business

London provided the ideal starting point for the company’s pan-European business strategy.

Christian Wiens, CEO and Co-Founder of Getsafe explains: “Getsafe is an attempt to think insurance globally. In the coming months and years, we want to continue the expansion of the company and be active in all major European markets.”

For Getsafe, the move to London was an important decision. London is Europe’s biggest financial centre. It also provided the insurtech company with the customers they wanted to target: a tech-savvy, digital and young generation. The task now is to win them over as new customers. Another advantage is the favourable competitive environment: there is hardly any competition in the market. Moreover, the medium-term goal for Getsafe is to conquer the European market from London.

“London, as Europe’s fintech and VC hub, is the ideal starting point for European expansion,” adds Christian Wiens.

The benefits outweigh the challenges

The core of Getsafe is its platform and infrastructure. Both make it very easy to transfer products to other countries. The insurance offerings themselves are different in each market, but the infrastructure is the same. For this reason, there are currently no global insurers. The UX, i.e. the app and functionalities are the same everywhere. The language is easier to adapt to, the customer service for the UK is centrally located in Germany. The contract terms vary depending on the market, but the effort required for expansion was generally relatively low for Getsafe. It took the start-up only three months to roll out its first insurance product in the UK market.

Getsafe based themselves in a co-working space in London. For specific questions, the start-up received support from service providers, such as London & Partners, to hold initial talks on-site – according to Getsafe, a very good platform for networking.

“We have not received any financial or similar support. However, we have worked with service providers on specific challenges, such as legal issues. That helped us a lot,” Christian Wiens recalls.

Unexpected challenges can be overcome very Britishly

The circumstances surrounding the EU exit were challenging and the ongoing uncertainty meant that expansion had to be postponed twice. As an insurer, you are regulated, you need a licence, so it was very important for Getsafe to know if and also how exactly Brexit would take place. The solution for the start-up was to found its own company in London – in other words, to establish a detached business model – in order to operate completely independently of political decisions:

“Political difficulties should not prevent us from turning our plan to expand into the UK into reality. The advantages of the mark simply outweigh the disadvantages. For us, the motto was rather: ‘Now more than ever! There is a solution for everything,” says Wiens.

After setting up an independent subsidiary in London and the market launch, Getsafe had to deal with the challenges posed by coronavirus. Thus, a local team had to be set up quickly, as the German team was no longer able to travel. In addition, business appointments and agreements have been delayed over time and Christian Wiens is grateful that this is now being handled by a local team. Coronavirus did upset the UK schedule for Getsafe and a lot of things took longer. In Germany, however, Covid-19 was more conducive to business. For Getsafe, the traditional insurance sector suffered and digital adoption accelerated. During the pandemic growth in the UK was delayed, but Getsafe is now catching up.

Christian Wiens explains: “Expanding to the UK is not difficult in itself. The real challenge is to establish your own product in the market and to gain a foothold there with it because in every new country you have to start from scratch at this point.”

The success of this approach is reflected in the results: in December 2020, the start-up closed a Series B funding round of 30 million US dollars, making it one of the best-funded insurtechs in Europe.

Both examples show: As a German company, expanding to London has been extremely beneficial for their businesses. Despite Brexit and coronavirus, IDnow and Getsafe are happy with the decision to choose London as their new location and recommend that any other fintech thinking of expanding internationally, should consider London.

Miriam Ducke, Director of Europe at London & Partners said: “The UK capital offers international fintech companies the opportunity to attract new customers, find emerging talent, access investors, network with other fintechs in the industry and use the city as a springboard to the global market. The latest investment figures show that London is a well-established global fintech capital and I am confident that we will continue to see growth in London‘s largest tech sector.”

The FCA Extended the SCA Deadline to 2022: Here’s What the Industry Had to Say

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently announced that they are extending the deadline for Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) for e-commerce transactions to 14th March 2022.

They advised that this further 6-month extension is to ensure minimal disruption to merchants and consumers, and recognises ongoing challenges facing the industry to be ready by the previous 14 September 2021 deadline. The new 14 March 2022 deadline is the latest that the FCA expects full SCA compliance for e-commerce transactions. The changes involve new rules by which every online purchase over EUR has to undergo a 2 step authentication.

The FCA has previously agreed to give firms extra time to implement SCA for card-based e-commerce transactions in response to concerns about industry readiness and to limit the impact on consumers and merchants. An additional 6-month extension was also provided in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Industry Reaction

Siamac Rezaiezadeh, Director of Product Marketing at GoCardless said: “The deadline extension will surely be a relief to many merchants who have had a lot on their minds over the past year. Getting SCA implementation right is vital because there are real revenue implications at stake. GoCardless surveyed 1,900 C-level decision-makers at the end of 2020 and found that 75% of businesses globally had already implemented SCA, and of those, 56% reported a decrease in conversion as a result.

“As businesses work towards SCA compliance, we may see a surge in interest in alternative payment methods, ones that provide the same level of fraud protection that SCA is driving towards — without the need to add an extra step into the payment flow. Bank-to-bank payments and open banking payments are among those. What’s more, merchants may discover that, even without taking SCA into account, these payment methods could be a better fit for their business model compared to their current options in terms of reducing costs, lowering churn and maximising payment success.”

Also commenting on the announcement was Galit Michel, VP of Payments at Forter, said: “PSD2 has already come into force across Europe’s major eCommerce marketplaces, and the negative impact on conversion rates has been significant. For example, e-commerce merchants in France and Spain have experienced on average a 25% reduction in conversion rates, a 30% reduction in Germany, and up to 40% of transactions are being lost in Italy, costing merchants millions of Euros per month. Many of these transactions can be exempted or excluded from the scope of PSD2; Forter has been able to restore approval rates for several large merchants to a level very close to their pre-enforcement baseline, but this involves sophisticated technical solutions that not all merchants can take advantage of.

“Across the board, merchants are struggling to manage the significant changes to their payments process, and we have observed a lack of issuer readiness, as well as low levels of customer co-operation with the increase in friction at the checkout. The desired impact of PSD2 was to reduce levels of fraud, but in reality, the outcome has been to frustrate customers and deprive merchants of much-needed revenue.

“We are not surprised that the FCA has taken this bold move to push back the UK enforcement date by another 6 months, and will be welcomed as it gives merchants more time to observe and learn from the impact across Europe, and to ensure that they have an optimised solution in place to reduce friction and maximise approvals before the new enforcement date. However, we do believe that PSD2 will eventually be enforced in the UK, as it has already been transcribed into UK law, and we are already seeing transactions being declined when they are sent for processing without 3DS, so merchants should consider this a welcome extension and not a complete reprieve.”

Opportunity or Concern?

Finally, Jason Lane-Sellers, Director, Market Planning, Fraud and Identity at LexisNexis Risk Solutions believes the announcement brings both opportunity and concerns.

“It’s no doubt been a welcome announcement from the FCA for a number of reasons, predominantly because it gives organisations a little more time and breathing space to properly prepare their SCA strategies, enabling them to tie in and utilise technology to manage the interactions and properly integrate elements required for an effective and uninterrupted customer journey,” he said. “It’s vital now that organisations make the absolute best of this time to get their processes in order and to ensure both compliance and continuity, post-rollout.

“Undoubtedly, over the past year many organisations will have been distracted from this SCA implementation work, as they rushed to transform how they work and implement new or improved digital services almost overnight in response to the pandemic. This extra time provided by the FCA is likely reflective of this and intended to give organisations the opportunity to get back to their implementation activity, not just to achieve a minimum standard to meet the deadline, but to implement multi-level risk analysis and fraud prevention process, integrating aspects of Digital Identity technology, phone risk intelligence analysis and transaction risk analysis as appropriate for the customer journey.

“Of course, there is a potential downside to the delay with respect to the continually growing threat of fraud itself on the UK public. As the most recent LexisNexis Cybercrime Report showed, we are seeing greater automation by fraudsters, increasing credential testing and growing social engineering and scams. Automated bot attacks increased designed to mass test stolen identity credentials increased by a massive 44% in just the second half of 2020. This is a clear sign that fraudulent entities are increasing their capability to attack at speed.  Don’t forget, the extension to allow firms to implement their SCA requirements is also an extension for fraudsters, allowing them time to refine their attack methodologies to circumvent SCA processes. This presents a particularly big risk for businesses that are only planning to address the minimum needs of SCA, as fraudsters will no doubt be scheming to target the low hanging fruit opportunities first, where only basic checks are in place.”

  • 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.

GCash Sees 100% Increase in User Base in One Year

The Filipino mobile wallet app GCash has expanded its user base to 40 million users – an almost 100% increase from January 2020 – through its continuous efforts in enabling finance for all. The app is currently utilsed by 1 in 3 Filipinos.

Martha Sazon, President and CEO, GCashMartha Sazon, President and CEO, GCash
Martha Sazon, President and CEO, GCash

“As GCash became more and more indispensable in our daily routines, usage also grew. Customers now use our app more than two times daily, paying for food, utilities and online shopping,” shared GCash President and CEO Martha Sazon at the recently concluded GCash Futurecast 2021 event where the company unveiled new financial products and services for Filipinos. “We want to make a real difference in the lives of every Filipino and break the existing boundaries to enable financial freedom.

This is more crucial than ever amid the pandemic, which, among other things, calls for a cashless ecosystem for health and safety purposes, and for financial inclusion. To achieve this, GCash now allows its users to shop, save, invest, get insurance coverage, and more – all with the GCash app.

Consumers can now unlock their life goals at any stage with GInvest, the new easy investment feature found on the GCash app that lets you invest for as low as 50 pesos (around 73 pence) in professionally managed local and global funds.

The pandemic considered, users can also turn to GInsure to secure insurance coverage for medical emergencies such as dengue, Covid-19, and accidents, for as low as 300 pesos. Consumers can also get financial assistance via Cash For Medical Costs, and through the recently launched Cash For Income Loss due to any cause – all accessible through GInsure on the GCash app.

For easy money management, GSave is the fully digital, secure, and hassle-free savings account that was built in partnership with CIMB Bank. It’s fully accessible once the account is created and has no maintaining balance, no fees, and no initial deposit.

As a better alternative to high-interest loans and borrowing money for emergencies, GCredit serves as a fully verified personal credit line within the app. It can provide those with high GScores up to 30,000 pesos credit line and up to 3% prorated interest rate.

With GLife, an e-commerce feature within the app, users can shop and avail themselves of exclusive deals from a wide array of merchants including McDonald’s, Puregold and PureGO, Lazada, KFC, Hair MNL, Datablitz, Cherry Shop, Gameone, Goama Games, and more. Users and merchants alike can leverage the GCash payment system, making it an easier e-commerce experience for everyone, and making GCash the new super life app.

GCash has also introduced GCash QR on Demand. Users can easily generate their own GCash QR Code and use this in place of giving their GCash number for safe and hassle-free payments whether for personal use or for small businesses, without fear of “wrong sends” due to incorrect numbers or sending personal information.

Overseas Filipino Workers with a verified GCash account, can also now have access to the same products and services. They can cash into their own GCash wallet via international remittance partners, and remit those funds instantly on the app. Through GCash’s upcoming GPadala service, OFWs can also send money to a non-GCash user for cash pick up anywhere in the country.

As part of its holistic sustainability agenda for 2021-2025, GCash is one with the nation as it aligns itself with the UN‘s Sustainable Development Goals. Plans to make this happen include the Kaya Mo, GCash Mo Roadshow, the design and roll-out of Future-Ready Hackathons, and the launch of “GNA! IDEAS Para Sa Pinas”. This year, GCash continues to pursue collaborations to achieve even bigger things with efforts like GCash For Good and the GForest platform.

We want to make a real difference in the lives of every Filipino. We want to break the existing boundaries to enable financial freedom. We envision a Philippines where people have equal access to financial opportunities and lifestyle choices, where everyone, whether rich or poor, has an equal chance to achieve their dreams,” concluded Sazon.  

  • 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.

Trovio: Why Singapore Commodity Traders Are Embracing a Digital Future

Digitalisation is reshaping commodity trading at an accelerating pace. Singapore has built a reputation as a stable financial centre and, in recent years, has emerged as a major hub for adopting financial technology as a means to innovate and transform. 

Vikas Shenoy is head of APAC origination and partnerships at commodities digitisation company Trovio, which provides a platform as a service (PaaS) offering to the commodities industry. Prior to joining Trovio, he spent nearly 10 years in commodities sales and trading with Société Générale, ANZ Bank and Deutsche Bank, across Mumbai, London and Singapore. 

Trovio recently announced the establishment of its latest foothold in Singapore; becoming the first fintech company to be welcomed into the Singapore Bullion Market Association (SBMA).

Here Shenoy provides a look into the fast-changing world of commodities digitisation and investing.

Vikas Shenoy is Head of APAC Origination & Partnerships at TrovioVikas Shenoy is Head of APAC Origination & Partnerships at Trovio
Vikas Shenoy is head of APAC origination & partnerships at Trovio

In recent years, Singapore has emerged as a major hub for technical innovation across diverse sectors, including fintech, commodities, blockchain and, lately, digital currencies. It has also leaped ahead of Hong Kong and Tokyo in cementing its position as a leading Asian commerce centre owing to its stable political regime and technocratic, forward-looking government, resulting in a fledgling ecosystem of unique companies, supportive legislations, conscious investors, and much more.

The commodities industry has long seen Singapore as a safe harbour due to its favourable tax regime, efficient port and the significant trading volumes it generates. In addition to this, the Singapore government has made huge strides in making itself future-proof and supporting the growth of the fintech industry.

Major industry associations, such as the Singapore Bullion Market Association (SBMA) and Singapore Fintech Association (SFA), supported by the government, have played a key role in bringing the ecosystem together to drive conversations and expand the little red dot’s influence across the globe. In this way, Singapore has successfully married the old world with the new.

According to the Economic Development Board of Singapore, a staggering 80 per cent of the world’s top 100 tech giants — including Google, PayPal and Alibaba — have one or more of their regional headquarters situated in the country. In the past few years, an increasing number of Chinese and western fintech firms have expanded their operations to Singapore, primarily because the Asian financial hub is viewed by most companies as a perfect gateway to international exposure and financial growth.

Underscoring the fintech migration, the SFA, a cross-industry non-profit fostering collaboration between market participants and stakeholders in the fintech ecosystem, has seen its membership more than double in recent times — rising from 350 to 780 between Q3 and Q4 2020.

Trovio’s move to Singapore

Trovio, a Sydney-headquartered fintech that provides a digitisation and registry service for the commodities industry, recently announced its plans for Asian growth by setting up an office in Singapore. For an ambitious company operating at the intersection of commodities and fintech, the city-state seems to be an obvious choice.

It also became the first fintech company to join the SBMA — yet another sign that the traditional bullion industry isn’t in denial about the digital revolution that is upon us. Trovio established itself as a leader in bullion digitisation by becoming technology partner to The Perth Mint, the world’s largest refiner of newly mined gold. It has now set its eyes on the broader commodities market.

Another significant focus area for businesses is environmental, social and governance (ESG) compliance. Singapore looks to be leading the race in building a supportive ecosystem in this respect, too, having announced its Singapore Green Plan 2030 as a leading carbon services and trading hub. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is heavily focused on sustainable and green finance and ‘building the capabilities in our financial sector to incorporate ESG considerations into financing decisions and drive long term sustainable economic growth’.

Trovio’s ESG investing product suite meshes well with Singapore. Trovio is shortly launching the world’s first carbon-neutral gold ETF, giving individuals and companies an option for the first time ever to invest in traditional gold in a verifiably carbon neutral manner. As part of its technology offering, Trovio also enables commodities asset owners the opportunity to develop and deploy carbon neutral products in a cryptographically secured and immutable manner.

Digitisation is inevitable at this point

As one of the newest members of the SFA, Trovio aims to introduce an unparalleled level of efficiency and transparency into both the Asian and global commodities markets.

Trovio’s unique digitisation platform grants its partners entry to a variety of different markets, develops new distribution channels using novel technologies, such as the blockchain, and deploys investment products that meet all of the modern investor’s needs.

The digitisation of assets brings some huge benefits, especially in relation to sustainability. Supply chains and assets can now be traced all the way from extraction, processing, transport and storage, to final sale. This allows assets such as commodities to be responsibly sourced, conscientiously financed and sustainably distributed. Understanding an asset’s carbon footprint is a small but important step, yet it is a problem that cannot be easily solved.

Trovio’s provenance and ESG scoring solution is a tool that its partners have come to value immensely. Without overhauling the existing supply chain, it can track an asset, build its digital footprint, and provide data to help companies understand their carbon intensity. Through its partnerships with carbon exchanges, Trovio can build carbon neutral assets that adhere to a high degree of ESG compliance in a transparent and immutable manner.

These digital pathways, previously unimaginable, are now a reality thanks to innovations such as the blockchain. Supportive countries, such as Singapore, provide the perfect springboard for companies like Trovio to use technology to remove inefficiencies in the marketplace and build products for a better tomorrow.

MotoRefi Receives $45 Million for Auto Refinancing Platform

Vehicle refinance startup MotoRefi pulled in a $45 million Series B round of funding this week. The Virginia-based company received the funds from investors including Goldman Sachs, which led the round, along with IA Capital, Moderne Ventures, Accomplice, Link Ventures, Motley Fool Ventures and CMFG Ventures.

“In 2020, we proved we are the go-to platform for auto refinance. In 2021, we’re scaling that offering to make auto refinance accessible to everyone- helping more people save money on their car payments,” said MotoRefi CEO Kevin Bennett. “Goldman is the best in the business when it comes to financial services, and we’re thrilled to partner with Jade Mandell and the Goldman Sachs team on our next phase of growth.”

MotoRefi will use the investment to boost growth by investing in its platform and build out its team.

The funds come just months after the company raised a $10 million Series A round in January. MotoRefi’s funding now totals $60 million.

Today’s news also comes during a time of major growth for MotoRefi. The company, which works directly with lenders to help them facilitate refinances on auto loans, has seen an increase in demand during the low interest rate environment. From the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of this year, MotoRefi has seen:

  • 7x revenue growth
  • 5x loan volume growth
  • 2.5x team growth

Founded in 2016, MotoRefi has been in the fintech headlines a handful of times this year, having recently announced senior hires, a new headquarters location, and a new partnership with SoFi.

Weekly Wrap: KeyBank ramps up RPA use, Wall Street questioned by U.S. Senate

Bank Automation News spoke with KeyBank this week on how the $176 billion financial institution is leveraging robotic process automation (RPA) tools to automate its internal processes across commercial credit, consumer lending, commercial lending, the contact center, ACH payments, human resources and finance. KeyBank signed deals with Automation Anywhere in 2017, and with UiPath in 2020, to provide automation tools […]

SoftBank makes $250M bet on neobank platform Zeta

This week, the Bank Automation News funding wrap profiles three fintechs from across the globe, all with valuations of more than a $1 billion, indicating investors’ appetite for payments and billing fintechs. Here’s a look at the highlights: Zeta   Zeta, a cloud-native neobanking platform, raised $250 million in a Series C round from SoftBank Vision Fund 2, taking the fintech’s valuation to $1.45 billion. “The funding is predominantly going to be used in expansion of our product line, and particularly focused on the US, UK and European markets,” Ramki Gaddipati, Zeta, co-founder and chief technology […]

Will Mobile Money Platform OPay Become Africa’s Next Unicorn?

“China-backed and Africa-focused” is a way to describe much of the investment that has poured into sub-Saharan Africa in recent years. This week’s news that African-based fintech platform OPay is in the process of raising $400 million in new funding – giving the firm a valuation of $1.5 billion – is the latest example of this trend.

OPay is a mobile money platform launched in Nigeria by popular internet search engine Opera back in 2018. The funding report, which was published in The Information, noted that the capital would be used to fuel the company’s geographic expansion, having gone live in Egypt earlier this year. With Chinese investors maintaining a majority stake in the company, OPay had raised more than $170 million to date from investors including Sequoia Capital, IDG Capital, Source Code, GSR Ventures, Meituan-Dianping, and parent company Opera.

The company said that it processed $1.4 billion in payments in October alone, a sum that increased to $2 billion by December. Much of this can likely be attributed to COVID-19. In a country where cash is still king, the onset of the global pandemic made in-person, cash-based transactions problematic. Digital payment options like those provided by OPay have soared in popularity; Forbes took a look at the boom in Africa’s mobile money business back in December, noting investments in sub-Saharan payment innovators like Paystack (also of Nigeria) and Chipper Cash, a San Francisco based P2P payments company that serves customers in seven African countries.

That said, OPay is looking to leverage its pedigree as a payments solution to offer additional products including debit and credit cards. Earlier this month, OPay launched its USSD withdrawal service to make it easier for Nigerians to access cash at OPay merchant stores – without needing a debit card. Also this month, the company introduced version 4.0 of its super app. OPay 4.0 now makes it easier for users to connect with friends and family, add contacts, make quick payments for frequently used services, and more.

Interestingly, OPay is the most successful of the ventures Opera has tried to spin off. These efforts include ORide, a bicycle-sharing service that was shut down after the Nigerian government banned the business; a similarly shuttered bus-booking solution, OBus; a logistics delivery service OExpress; a B2B e-commerce platform OTrade; and a food delivery service called OFood.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Sub-Saharan Africa

Photo by Tope A. Asokere from Pexels

Google launches new financial services offering for market, regulatory, other data

Google announced Thursday the launch of its new cloud solution for financial services, Datashare, in a move that could have wider implications for the trading community. Datashare incorporates real-time, event-based data streaming so customers can “process individual messages or rewind to a point in time to replay a prior market scenario and test model changes,” […]

Backer Plans to Match Donations to 529 Accounts This May 29

The social savings platform Backer – who assist parents in creating tax-free college savings accounts for their children, known as 529 accounts – is offering families a dollar-for-dollar match on donations this May 29 – the holiday raising awareness on the huge potential of college savings accounts.

Backer serves on the premise that if saving for college fees is turned into a collaborative process, it will go much further for families of all incomes. Hence why to mark National 529 Day – or May 29 – a holiday dedicated to celebrating investing in the future of the next generation, Backer is offering a $25 match for families who open a new account between May 24 and May 31, 2021. In practicality, this means that for the first $25 contributed monthly into its online savings account, Backer will match it with another $25.

Children who see others investing in their college education are three times more likely to attend college. 529s are the best way for a family to save for their children’s education, however, they are still hugely undervalued and underused: only 16% of parents have a 529 account in place for their child.

Backer’s platform opens a 529 account for families and allows friends and families to transfer into the account in one-off or repeat donations. Because 529s are tax-free investment accounts, the money grows over time. Its collaborative model has already helped families avoid over $50 million in student debt.

A family is far more likely to contribute money themselves if they are gifted a college savings account, which also encourages them to become more college-focused, recent studies suggest. Backer is rethinking the roadblocks to what is usually a complex and bureaucratic process, by opening 529 accounts for its users.

Backer’s platform is also raising awareness of the account’s benefits for lower-income families, pushing back against the stigma that 529s are exclusively for high-income households. Currently, 70% of Backer’s user base have a household income below $100,000, and 50% are non-white.

This May 29, Backer wants families to embrace the power of donating towards our children’s futures. There exists an unfounded stigma against giving money as a gift in the United States, and yet 84% of parents would prefer that type of gift if it was to serve their children’s education.

Putting money into a fund like Backer, where friends and family can donate in a process as simple as using Venmo, is also a way of bringing relatives closer together around a good cause. Two out of every five dollars contributed on the Backer platform comes from grandparents, relatives, and friends of the family, which is 30-times higher than the 529 industry average.

  • 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.

Non-Fungible Tokens – The Journey From Fun to Fame

FinTech is one of the key sectors seeking to leverage the tremendous potential inherent in blockchain technology. Since late 2020, cryptocurrencies, bitcoin in particular, have been gaining popularity in mainstream payment transactions primarily because of their large-scale adoption by renowned companies like PayPal, Square, and Tesla. FinTech players have started providing Bitcoin as an alternative currency to expand their user communities. 

Non-Fungible Token (NFT) owes its development to blockchain technology. In early 2021, NFT was among the first applications of blockchain technology to have gained widespread popularity. 

What are Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) ?

Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs are tradable digital assets (images, music, videos, virtual creations) whose ownership is recorded in smart contracts on a blockchain. An NFT is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger (a blockchain) that certifies a digital asset as unique and therefore not interchangeable. Since each NFT is unique, non-transferable …

Hippo Set For Heightened Property Insight With CAPE Analytics Integration

Hippo, the home insurance group that created a new standard of care and protection for homeowners, has recently announced a new integration with CAPE Analytics, which uses deep learning and geospatial imagery to provide real-time property intelligence.

The integration advances Hippo’s automated property analysis capabilities to more narrowly target property characteristics and tailor policies accordingly using its own machine learning algorithms.

Hippo has modernised the home insurance process using advanced technology to identify and address homeowner issues proactively. Through its work with trusted analytics sources to build deeper layers of insights, Hippo continues to enhance its underwriting and ongoing risk management and mitigation insights to provide premier home protection.

CAPE’s geospatial property analytics, powered by machine learning and computer vision, layers into Hippo’s proprietary policy management system to expedite the onboarding flow for new leads while increasing the accuracy of policy coverage and premiums specifically tailored to a unique property.

Aviad Pinkovezky, Chief Product Officer, HippoAviad Pinkovezky, Chief Product Officer, Hippo
Aviad Pinkovezky, Chief Product Officer, Hippo

“CAPE’s integration will be instrumental in driving deeper property intelligence, which in turn proactively protects our customers and seamlessly intrigues the most accurate information into the onboarding flow for potential customers,” said Aviad Pinkovezky, Chief Product Officer, Hippo. “With CAPE, we acutely define the characteristics of a property and its surrounding area with a degree of accuracy that hasn’t existed before in home insurance to help our customers take important steps to protect their home.”

CAPE identifies valuable property characteristics such as a roof’s condition, yard debris, solar panels, overhanging trees, swimming pools, and more with faster speed and accuracy than traditional third-party data sources. This intelligence will support further automation of Hippo’s underwriting process, and even enhance its renewal capabilities, replacing the need for in-person inspections. As a result, Hippo customers receive a streamlined home insurance experience with tailored policy coverage year after year.

This level of property intelligence from CAPE will be used to help Hippo Insurance Services narrow in on homeowner risks that are commonly associated with catastrophic losses in areas prone to wildfires, high winds, and hail. Because geospatial analytics capture property changes continuously, Hippo can proactively reach out to customers earlier to help make recommendations to mitigate potential issues, such as clearing surrounding brush or trimming overhanging tree limbs, or updating their policy coverage.

“We’re thrilled to be integrating with Hippo, an established technology partner providing meaningful protection for homeowners,” added Ryan Kottenstette, CEO and Co-founder of CAPE Analytics. “The impact our team has made to establish and advance geospatial analytics in insurance helps provide companies like Hippo with accurate property intelligence and action-oriented insights that can truly drive change and help keep their customers protected.”

  • 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.

Central Bank of Kuwait Warns Against Dealing in Crypto Assets like Bitcoin and Dogecoin

In an effort to enhance financial awareness and encourage the Kuwaiti banking sector’s social responsibility activities, the Central Bank of Kuwait is presenting information around the high risks of crypto-assets. This comes as part of the CBK-supervised “Diraya” campaign (Be Aware in Arabic) which is managed by Kuwait Banking Association (KBA) with the participation of all Kuwaiti banks.

Amid the notable increase in promotion of and calls for investment and dealing in crypto-assets or cryptocurrencies, the CBK has reiterated that such assets can in no way be compared to real currency. Real currency is issued by a lawful state as currency and as a symbol of sovereignty, is regulated by state authorities such as central banks or monetary institutions, is considered and accepted as a store of value and legal tender, and serves as a reliable medium for exchange. Furthermore, states strive to protect their real currency and employ policies that guarantee relative stability of the exchange rate against major world currencies.

The CBK has cautioned against dealing in crypto-assets, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, etc. They have advised that such dealings come at a high risk and with an array of negative consequences for dealers in view of the nature of these assets and the high fluctuation in their prices. These assets are not subject to regulation or supervision by any authority in the State of Kuwait, which could mean great losses for speculators and an increased risk of fraud. Accordingly, trading in crypto-assets is a high risk, especially for individuals.

International institutions, such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and several central banks, have all pointed out the risks involved in such trade in view of the wild fluctuation seen in the value of these assets over a short period of time and in the difficulty to supervise them and follow up on relevant developments and provide any type of security for the systems/devices used by traders and speculators, in addition to lack of any institution or body that can control or regulate this market. It has further advised such assets pose a threat to the global financial system and to people’s fortunes, especially since the transactions can be carried out through illegal/bogus wallets or organisations, which could lead and direct individuals’ funds beyond the guarantees of official trading protocols/guidelines.

Dealing in crypto-assets offered by unidentified issuers and traded under fictitious names leaves wide room for illegal uses of funds, unauthorised transactions, and money laundering since the assets are not under the control of any central authority, in addition to the threat of digital breaches and attacks. This, in addition to the high energy use of mining operations, adds an environmental aspect to the threat.

The CBK had in recent years instructed local banks to take adequate measures to increase their customers’ awareness of the risk involved in dealing with crypto-assets. It also communicated with concerned authorities urging them to contribute by taking the necessary steps and measures, and sought to coordinate with relevant agencies to increase public awareness of the high risks involved.

Fintech innovations have increased access and convenience to financial services and transactions, but are accompanied by risks of which they must be aware. This vigilance is especially crucial as social media, and similarly unregulated channels, are used to advertise and market high-risk transactions

  • 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.

Three Strategies for Transitioning Customers to Digital Bill Payments

This is a guest post by John Minor, SVP of Product and Support at PayNearMe.

Pay by check? Yes, that’s still a thing. In fact, nearly a quarter of consumers (22%) pay their monthly utility bill and 9% make monthly mortgage payments by mailing a check or money order to the biller, according to a recent bill payment study by PayNearMe.

Traditional, non-digital forms of bill payment can be expensive. The labor cost to have employees available to accept cash or check payments and then manually count, sort, reconcile, and deposit these payments throughout the day is reason enough for businesses to encourage customers to adopt digital bill payments.

However, eliminating these familiar payment types and transitioning customers to electronic payments can be challenging. Here are three strategies to try:

Put electronic bill pay options front and center

At every opportunity, put digital pay options in front of your customers — on billing statements, through customer service representatives, via emails, on your website, and through push notifications.

For example, savvy billers are now generating personalized QR codes for customers that can be printed on paper billing statements. Customers then can pay their bill by scanning the code and choosing their preferred method of payment without having to log into their account. It’s frictionless, fast, and encourages your customers to pay their bills electronically.

Offer mobile payments

Mobile payments are nearly ubiquitous. The majority of Americans (74%) use their phone to order and pay for food and merchandise at least once a week, and nearly 1 in 3 Americans (29%) would like to pay with their smartphones all the time.

This same consumer behavior translates to the way they expect to pay their bills. In fact, according to this bill payment study, Americans are likely to pay their bills using one of the following forms of mobile payment, if they have the option:

  • 26% — likely to pay bills via text message on their mobile phone
  • 32% — likely to pay bills by scanning a QR code on their bill and paying using their mobile phone
  • 37% — likely to pay bills using their mobile wallet (Apple Pay / Google Pay)

The data is clear: your customers want to pay with their mobile devices. To accommodate them, look for a payment platform that enables your business to accept multiple forms of payment, including Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Enlist your customer service staff

Every time traditional bill payers pick up the phone to make a payment or drop by the office to pay in person, the customer service agent has an opportunity to promote digital bill payment options. The agent can ask questions like:

  • “Have you considered paying your loan through our electronic payment system? Let me tell you why it is such a convenient option!”
  • “Can I email or text you a link so you can enter your payment information directly?”
  • “Would you like me to assist you in signing up for autopay to make your monthly payment easier?”

These one-on-one conversations can help get customers over the initial learning curve and help those who are hesitant feel more confident in making the switch from traditional to digital payments.

The majority of consumers (69%) prefer digital payment channels to paying bills by mail, phone, or in-person. But, getting set up on electronic payments has to be easy. Your customers don’t want to deal with lengthy forms, frustrating sign up processes, or having to provide payment details every month. Instead, use techniques like embedding personalized payment links or QR codes in billing statements and reminder messages so your customers can simply click a link or scan a code to go directly to their payment screen.

Transitioning your customers to digital bill payment will save your company time and money while affording your customers greater freedom and flexibility. It’s worth the effort.

John Minor is SVP of Product and Support for PayNearMe, leading the product, merchant services and support teams. By combining industry research with client and partner feedback, he ensures that PayNearMe’s solutions continue to lead the market in terms of mobile readiness, ease of use, and advanced bill pay and collection techniques.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

This Week in Fintech ending 28 May 2021

This week our experts brought you the following insights based on their experience as investors, entrepreneurs & executives.

Monday Ilias Hatzis our Greece-based crypto entrepreneur (Founder & CEO at  Kryptonio a “keyless” non-custodial bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallet, that lets users manage bitcoin and crypto, without private keys or passwords and Weekly Columnist at Daily Fintech) @iliashatzis wrote Happy Bitcoin Pizza Day!

Without a doubt, bitcoin has many memorable stories to share. One of them is the famous Bitcoin pizza story. Eleven years ago Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 BTC for two pizzas from Papa John’s. Today, those two pizzas, often considered the first transaction in bitcoin, are worth millions of dollars. Last Tuesday, Anthony Pompliano announced a bitcoin-themed pizza pop-up to support the development of the digital currency. Pompliano unveiled “Bitcoin Pizza”, which will partner with independent pizzerias in 10 cities in the United States to produce and deliver its pizza pies from May 22-29. Profits from the initiative will be donated to the Human Rights Foundation’s Bitcoin Development Fund, which helps fund improvements to the bitcoin network. When Bitcoin launched in 2009, it was unknown outside of the community of developers and early adopters. In the beginning anyone could mine bitcoins by running a simple computer program. Lacking leaders, Bitcoin’s supporters could disagree on what it represented. Currency traders arbitraging bitcoin prices played on the same team as crypto anarchists who cursed Wall Street’s existence. As a platform bitcoin allows people to trust in an algorithm rather than a central institution. As a currency, it replaces the role of banks in overseeing transactions and controlling the money supply, with a peer to peer system. Bitcoin allows a decentralized network to share information and withstand the attempts of hackers to introduce false information. The best part of owning bitcoin is the feeling of participating in the future.

Editor note: Great Bitcoin perspective as we enter another bear market. The CNBC video from 2013 is a keeper with two suits talking derisively over a techie Bitcoin fan who they would now be lauding. 


Tuesday Bernard Lunn, CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy wrote: DeFi Part 4. Watch and wait for honey says Pooh Bear

Pooh Bear followed Eeyore’s bearish view and Tigger’s bullish view at The Pooh Corner Debate on DeFi by calling on his moderator privilege to sum up. As he put it, “my name is on door so you have to listen to me”.

He pointed to one slide with 4 risks.

Editor note: Some subjects are too complex for our short attention spans, so we do 4 posts one week apart, each one short enough not to lose your attention but in aggregate doing justice to the complexity of the subject. Stay tuned by subscribing, click here for Part 1.

Wednesday Alan Scott Managing Director EMEA at 24 Exchange @Alan_SmartMoney wrote his weekly roundup of Stablecoin news.

Bernard Lunn, CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy wrote: This Bitcoin bear market will be good for builders and bad for speculators.

Yes, I think Bitcoin (and other crypto) is in a bear market. I have no idea how low we will go or how long it will take. The previous bull/bear markets offer some guidance each bull market has been driven by different types of people.

Editor note: Which investors put money to work during bear markets, when blood is running in the streets”?



Rintu Patnaik, an Insurtech expert based in India, wrote: Benchmarking Innovation: What Do Indices Foretell?

In a recent analysis of innovation assessment scores, a new addition to its carrier credit rating framework, AM Best found scores a tad below those from a year ago. The drop, it claimed, was on account of pandemic challenges. By calibrating innovation inputs (such as leadership, culture) and innovation outputs (results and levels of transformation) in its assessment framework, the rating agency reported that insurers have struggled with output, struggling to transform innovation efforts into results.

Innovation benchmarking is a relatively new phenomenon. Innovation indexes, as the norm goes, benchmark capability and change readiness instead of business outcomes. They tend to emphasize innovation input factors (or capabilities) over outputs (new products or new services). Rather than focus on start-ups as a veritable disruption engine, they instead examine potential from structural impacts such as high-capacity mobile telecommunications or high-performance business platforms.

Editor note: We all love innovation, like motherhood and apple pie, but connecting that dot to the bottom line is what investors want to understand and gut feel needs some data science augmentation.

Christian Dreyer @x3er, the Swiss based CFA who focusses on how XBRL changes our world wrote his weekly roundup of XBRL news.


Friday Howard Tolman, a well-known banker, technologist and entrepreneur in London, wrote his weekly roundup of Alt Lending news.

Bernard Lunn, CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy wrote: This Bitcoin bear market will be good for builders and bad for speculators.

Yes, I think Bitcoin (and other crypto) is in a bear market. I have no idea how low we will go or how long it will take. The previous bull/bear markets offer some guidance each bull market has been driven by different types of people.

Editor note: Here we go again; this too shall pass.


To continue receiving ‘This Week in Fintech’, the weekly recap of our articles, you will need to fill this form to give us consent to send this to you. Please note that Daily Fintech requires your organizational email address (e.g. corporate, educational or government) and your LinkedIn URL. This information is required for subscribers who want ‘This Week in Fintech’ for free. If you prefer to not provide this information, you can still receive all our content by becoming a paying member.

SME’s Late Payment and Poor Cash Flow Culture Tackled by Hydr

A proprietary invoice finance platform to help small businesses optimise their cash flow has been announced by Manchester-based fintech start-up Hydr.

Co-founded by fintech experts with first-hand experience of the challenges that long payment terms and late payments can create, Nicola Weedall and Hector Macandrew are on a mission to tackle poor payment culture in the UK.

The impact of long payment terms and late payments is being felt now more than ever; 62% of all SMEs are experiencing either an increase in late payments or payments frozen completely as a result of covid-19.

Hydr (pronounced Hi-der) helps small businesses manage their cash flow with fully digital onboarding, funding decisions in real-time, transparent terms and fixed fees. It pays 100% of the value of an invoice within 24 hours, minus a competitively priced fixed fee.

Hydr’s experts integrate with its clients’ finance team and build strong relationships with their customers. Hydr has partnered with global small business platform Xero for seamless integration with its platform.

Nicola Weedall, Co-founder at Hydr says, “The success of a business shouldn’t be determined by its ability to wait for payment. I’ve seen first-hand the transformative impact that managing cash flow has, so we remove the barrier of waiting for payment by paying invoices in full within 24 hours. Our technology securely simplifies the whole process, end to end, with transparency and simplicity at the heart of our proposition.”

Hector Macandrew, Co-founder at Hydr says, “We have created Hydr to change how we think about two things; the almost cultural acceptance that late payments just happen in this economy, and that invoice financing is only considered as a last resort. With Hydr as your partner, you never have to worry about long or late payments again. Invoice financing done properly is a powerful tool to optimise cash flow, enabling business leaders to plan their future with confidence.”

Hydr’s digital onboarding process takes minutes. Once connected to Xero, funding decisions are provided in real-time; businesses create their invoice (s) in one simple step, a fixed fee is calculated for the invoice and Hydr takes care of the rest. There are never any hidden extras or additional charges to the fixed fee.

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

“If We Don’t Invest Green, Humanity is in Big Trouble” – Matt Rees of EIB Talks Green Finance

Matt Rees is head of the Editorial Unit at the European Investment Bank. Founded in 1958, they provide finance and expertise for investment projects that contribute to furthering the EU’s policy objectives. Appointed to the role in 2015 where he writes about projects, people and industry issues, Matt previously held positions at Bloomberg, The Scotsman, Newsweek and Time Magazine.

Matt is the host of the European Investment Bank’s award-winning Climate Solutions podcast. The latest season delves into the true meaning of Green Finance. Launched alongside the upcoming audiobook ‘A Dictionary of Green Finance’ featuring informative, digestible episodes, the series unpicks what politicians, activists and economists are talking about when it comes to all the buzzwords around green finance.

Green FinanceGreen Finance
Matt Rees, Head of the Editorial Unit at the European Investment Bank

Here Matt sits down with The Fintech Times to share some of his insights on green finance and the benefits of going green.

What is your definition of green finance?

It’s any financial instrument or technique that has been developed as a consequence of the need to combat the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. It’s a response to the need for massive financing to completely re-orientate our economies over the next decade—because, if we don’t do it by then, it’s just too late. The European Investment Bank, the EU bank, has pledged to support €1 trillion of climate and environmental investment by 2030. That’s a sign of how green finance needs to get.

What are the benefits of businesses going green?

Look at that €1 trillion in investment I just mentioned. That’s not charity; it’s for profit, and it’s a huge amount. If businesses want a piece of that, they have to go green. The flipside of that is this: If a business is investing now for the long-term, anything that’s not “sustainable” is either going to be regulated out of existence in a few years or will be subject to higher taxes on polluting industries. In other words, it’ll be a stranded asset. Not having stranded assets is a huge benefit of going green, to put it mildly.

What are the impacts of investing in green as opposed to other investment channels?

Green is the sector that is going to be expanding hugely in the next decade. We need to invest in basic climate action (wind farms, solar farms, energy efficiency), but we also need to find as-yet-unknown technologies that will help us cap the rise in temperatures. The biggest, most impactful innovations of the next decade will be in climate action and environmental sustainability. In part, this is because they have to be, otherwise humanity is cooked. It’s also because major financial institutions will increasingly be looking for their innovation investments in the green sector and, therefore, the financing will be there. In another sense, the impacts are more and more measurable. Not just in terms of the bottom line. Traditional investments might be measured in, say, jobs created. Green investments create jobs, but you can also report to your shareholders on the amount of carbon you have prevented being emitted. Thanks to the EU taxonomy on green finance, there is now agreement about how this is measured, audited and reported, so you can know the impact of your investment—and compare it with other instruments, too.

How popular is green finance, are the industry and consumers receptive to it or are some reluctant to make the change?

The green bond market illustrates the popularity very well. It has gone from nothing in 2007, when the European Investment Bank issued the first one, to over $700 billion. And it’s growing faster all the time. (These are bonds the proceeds of which are designated for investment in specific projects related to climate action: for example, the EIB sold a bond not long ago whose proceeds were to be used for energy efficiency work on hundreds of old apartments in Bucharest.) So much so that the European Investment Bank developed Sustainability Awareness Bonds, whose proceeds are used for water projects, education and afforestation, amongst other things. The first of these was issued in 2019. The Bank intended to sell €500 million of the bond, but it had orders for €1 billion. That shows how much the market is there for green finance. As for consumers, the European Investment Bank carries out a major climate survey of consumers in all the EU countries, the UK, the US and China. Our latest survey asked whether people wanted an economic recovery at all costs, even if it caused a rise in carbon emissions and involved investment in polluting industries, or a “green recovery”. Even though economic conditions are rather tough right now, 57% of people still chose a green recovery.

Why is it important to invest green?

If we don’t, humanity is in big trouble. But, as I said, investment isn’t charity. So a big reason to invest green would be to profit from saving humanity. You can recycle your rubbish and take fewer flights and drive an electric car, and that’s doing your part. But if you’re also investing, you should make it green investment, because that’s another part of your life where you can make a concrete contribution towards saving humanity.

What do you think is the future for green finance?

There are an increasing number of options for green investors. It is becoming a real market, but it still has some way to go. The decisive factor will be the expansion of higher-yielding green investments. For example, a European Investment Bank green bond pays a reasonable interest rate, but it’s not a high rate, because the EU bank is rated AAA. In other words, you haven’t taken a big risk investing in one of its bonds. But the Bank is also supporting the growth of riskier green financial instruments which, of course, bring a higher yield. Once you have that full spread of potential risks for investors to use in the creation of a diversified portfolio, you have a mature market. That in turn will bring us the kind of volume that’s desperately needed to save humanity from the damage we have done to our environment.

  • 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.

Wealthify’s Investors Provided With Tink’s PIS Technology To Ease Investment Transfer Process

Wealthify, the UK digital investment platform, has partnered with Tink, the open banking platform, to enable its payment initiation services for its investors. The way in which Wealthify’s customers transfer money into their investment accounts will be completely transformed. 

The partnership, which is already live, sees Tink’s payment initiation service (PIS) technology embedded in the Wealthify app. This enables investors to seamlessly transfer an initial investment sum during the onboarding process and make additional payments to top-up their accounts.

Previously, this was a manual process where people had to initiate the payment separately, by going to their own bank’s app or web service. Now, investors can consent to connect to their bank account in the Wealthify app or web page and complete their payment in a few steps.

In June 2020 Wealthify became a wholly-owned subsidiary of insurance and investment giant Aviva and is set to double its 50,000 investors in the coming year. Starting out as a Stocks, Shares and General Investment accounts platform, it has since expanded into Ethical Investments, Junior Stocks and Shares ISAs and Self-invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs).

Simon Holland, Chief Product Officer at Wealthify commented: “Open Banking is a fantastic opportunity to deliver seamless payment experiences for our customers that are quicker and more competitive than traditional card payments. The customer response has already been brilliant, and our partnership enables us to make more of our customers’ money work harder, by maintaining our market-leading low fees.”

Rafa Plantier, UK and Ireland Country Manager at Tink, added: “This is a significant partnership for Tink in the UK. Payment initiation services, as part of the wider open banking movement, gives businesses the ability to create low-cost, uninterrupted transaction journeys that can lead to better conversion rates. We look forward to developing our partnership with Wealthify to this end, to help give their 50,000 investors a better payment experience.”

This new partnership follows Tink’s €85million investment round at the end of 2020, to fuel the open banking platform’s expansion of payments services across Europe. During 2021 Tink will increase staff by 50%, adding 200 new recruits to its almost 400 employees today. Many of these new employees will focus on doubling the fintech’s market presence for payments services, by expanding operations to 10 European countries.

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

Challenger 3S Money Partners with Austrian Raiffeisen Bank International A.G.

3S Money, a bank challenger that enables corporates to accept and manage bank transfers in foreign markets, has announced that it is expanding its portfolio of banking partners to include Raiffeisen Bank International A.G. – an Austrian banking group. 

The security of this new partnership enables 3S Money to expand its reach into global markets, offering a wider variety of currencies to facilitate collections and payments. This is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to providing safe, secure, and speedy payments to their clients across the world.

Raiffeisen Bank will be the main facilitator of Russian Ruble transactions, and central European currencies, whilst also facilitating their euro transaction flow.

Ivan Zhiznevskiy, CEO of 3S Money said, “As more businesses enter overseas markets, it is imperative that their multi-currency payments flow without issues. Raiffeisen Bank is the seventh banking partner that we are fully integrated with, building on our strategy in connecting different payment rails across the world which in turn creates a seamless banking experience for our clients. is a bank challenger that connects corporates to their customers globally by providing them with local business accounts to send and receive funds through all major payment rails. The digital accounts are designed for high-value import and export transactions, dividend distributions, finance, and treasury operations with handling all aspects of cross-border payments and FX risk management.

With enhanced due diligence and an invitation-only policy, the company provides truly global coverage for many discerning corporates. has a no ‘Chatbot’ policy and offers 24/7 personal client support and representation in London, Dubai, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, and Riga that means customers get unrivalled levels of service and attention whilst supporting them to manage currency risk and strategically handle their international payment requirements. can handle transactions in over 30 currencies delivering levels of personal service normally often provided by large merchants banks to global corporations.

  • 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.