Linedata: Why We Need an AI Framework in Finance

The development of artificial intelligence has enabled many complicated, manual tasks to be fully automated. While this is a huge advancement in technology, AI does not have the capabilities to understand data like humans do. Though smarter in some cases, AI can misinterpret data, leading to biases being created and therefore ineffecient technology. An often-cited example of how biased data sets might affect outcomes in finance is in lending. If a credit applicant with all the necessary guarantees lives in an area where residents’ credit applications are often rejected – even if for legitimate reasons – a badly trained model using a biased dataset might interpret this statistical coincidence as a systematic rule. 

This is why creating a framework for ethical AI is essential – to ensure that these mistakes do not happen and everyone has equal opportunity. Timothée Raymond, Head of Innovation and Technology at Linedata, has over 10 years experience working in the financial sector. He discusses the important of ethical AI being implemented in all fields:

Timothée Raymond, Head of Innovation and Technology at LinedataTimothée Raymond, Head of Innovation and Technology at Linedata
Timothée Raymond, Head of Innovation and Technology at Linedata

Up until now, the lack of a legal framework for Artificial Intelligence in Europe has raised important questions about the trustworthiness, ethics and safety of the algorithms currently in use in various sectors, including financial services. Many algorithms work in black boxes and can’t be observed in action – making it difficult to be fully transparent about the processes involved to reach their results and conclusions. There is, however, an increasing desire to tackle this transparency issue, and to integrate ethical frameworks to ensure data sets have no innate bias that could result in discrimination during analysis. An often-cited example of how biased data sets might affect outcomes in finance is in lending. If a credit applicant with all the necessary guarantees lives in an area where residents’ credit applications are often rejected – even if for legitimate reasons – a badly trained model using a biased dataset might interpret this statistical coincidence as a systematic rule. The result is the application might be rejected without good reason, perpetuating a cycle of fiscal discrimination.

It is no surprise then, that the banking sector’s approach to AI is a cautious one, staying away from the more complex and scalable autonomous systems associated with ‘non-consensual’ AI and generally using operational and automated algorithms. These merely simulate human intelligence and perform basic, repetitive tasks. But the desire to use AI to improve services and streamline operations is only growing. Gartner’s 2021 ArtificialIntelligence Heat Map for Banking and Investment Services showed that Machine Learning is the most widely adopted form of AI in banking and finance, driven by the need to improve customer service (43%), cost optimisation (24%) and risk management (19%).

Recognising the need to enable industries to adopt more advanced AI safely, on April 21st the European Commission proposed new rules aiming to transform Europe into a hub for trustworthy AI. If established, this would become the first ever international legal framework for AI, aiming to complement the development of advanced analytics models to ensure their applications are well defined – increasing user trust and understanding. It is an important development in the journey to equity and ensuring respect for fundamental human rights.

Ethical AI in Europe

Europe has chosen to base the degree of ethical requirement of an AI on the risk associated with it, meaning all algorithms are potentially concerned. It might seem obvious that military or medical AI would be particularly scrutinised, but in reality, many professionals use AI tools on a daily basis – and often in ways that can potentially have negative consequences on humans if they are not sufficiently supervised. In the HR sector, for example, Europe explicitly mentions algorithms used in candidate selection. In finance, the algorithms used to establish credit scores or to grant credit will have to be re-evaluated. The introduction of a framework will help professionals across all sectors make better data-driven decisions and will go some way to ensure the results from AI models are consistent and non-discriminatory.

It is also an important development for the future of the business operations of European companies. In order to innovate wisely and carefully plan where to invest capital, clarity on regulations and practices surrounding AI is critical, especially in the context of heightened global competition and the still opaque use of data. The regulation will encourage the modernisation of AI, bringing it closer to reality and thus accuracy, increasing the potential of more refined and individualised results. In retail banking, and lending specifically, it would be accessibility criteria that would be particularly in need of review. Instead of purely relying on permanent contracts the applicant is involved in, we can look for other ways to measure the sustainability and consistency of an individual’s income. This could include other types of contracts that can be weighted more fairly in the decision-making process. There are many other financial services that can be streamlined using other AI tools such as Natural Language Processing, including chatbots for customer service, or adding the possibility of analysing unstructured data to resolve complex financial problems. These tools, once backed by a solid framework, are ripe for innovation.

Across Europe, the number of initiatives to guarantee the best levels of requirement for AI use are rising. Companies are making daily commitments to ensure AI is trustworthy, such as setting up internal evaluation grids for AI solutions developed including various levels of measurement. This might include cross-checks, training requirements, codes used, and analysing best practices. Employees involved, from developers, to project and innovation managers, IT directors up to CISO’s, can integrate an ethical approach right from algorithm development, ensuring data sets are unbiased and models are properly constructed and trained.

The European Commission’s framework is an important step, and hopefully marks the beginnings of Europe becoming a global leader in the development of regulations that can both encourage and foster innovation, whilst crucially continuing to safeguard human rights.

Alt Lending week ending 30th July 2021

Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) takes another look at alleged LIBOR rigger Tom Hayes case.

Tom Hayes has been fighting to clear his name ever since 2017 and despite not knowing the case intimately I feel a certain amount of sympathy for him. Once powerful institutions have decided that you must take the rap then it is very difficult to wriggle free even if you are as clean as the driven snow. The CCRC has agreed to consider an independent and as yet unpublished  report produced by Raphael Yahalom  a researcher at MIT Sloan School of Management. He apparently argues that “ the grossly inadequate” processes and policies set up by the banks are to blame for the Libor rigging scandal than individuals such as the hapless and perhaps grievously wronged Mr. Hayes. I can’t wait to read it. I was involved in the syndicated loan business in the early 1970. In those days lead managing banks deliberately sought Japanese Banks to act as reference banks for rollover pricing. Japanese banks were at the time subject to a premium over other banks thanks to very high leverage and perceived  enhanced credit risk. This premium could be as high as 3/8%. Typically with three reference banks the borrower would pay an extra 1/8% over and above the agreed risk margin. The borrowers were not informed of this but the banks new full well what they were doing. It was unethical, dishonest and arguably fraudulent. I am still surprised that no class actions have been launched.

NatWest suffers because of the dead hand of government

Another very good piece by the Telegraphs Matthew Lynn about why the government should aim for a quick clean all at once break from NatWest. I agree with him. The drip drip strategy currently being pursued by the Clueless UK government might bring in a bit more money but in the meantime NatWest is left to suffer under the dead hand of government in a market that is fizzing with new technologies and ideas. Revolut a digital newcomer has a higher valuation than the tired and plodding residue of Fred the Shred’s RBS. Some years ago RBS markets alone were running nearly 400 disparate applications. Needless to say it never did work very well.

Starling’s Boden says Revolut’s new travel feature clutching at straws

There is obviously no love lost between digital challenger banks Starling, Revolut and Monzo. It is a shame because they all have a lot in common. They are all run by teckies rather than bankers, are great at managing deposits but not so good on the asset side of the balance sheet and they all lose money to a greater or lesser extent. Nevertheless Boden’s comment that ”banks are not the best people to book your holiday” was a somewhat arrogant and unprovable statement. On the face of it Revolut’s foray into travel has something going for it. Travel involves credit, payments money, foreign exchange, and a network of digital connections. Why not see if  there is an opportunity in vertically integrating. Personally I would not book a holiday through a bank but this is what digital banking is all about disrupting traditional suppliers. The Revolut app is undoubtedly a risk but probably not any worse than lending money when you don’t know much about it. You never know it might just work rather well.

Howard Tolman is a well-known banker, technologist and entrepreneur in London,

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 Alt Lending please read the Interview with Howard Tolman about the future of Alt Lending and read articles tagged Alt Lending in our archives.

Daily Fintech’s original insight is made available to you for US$143 a year (which equates to $2.75 per week). $2.75 buys you a coffee (maybe), or the cost of a week’s subscription to the global Fintech blog – caffeine for the mind that could be worth $ millions.

UK Home-Grown Investors on the up as Financial Apps See 3.2 Million New Users

UK home-grown investors continue to blossom as the top 10 UK investment apps gain an estimated 1.6 million users since March 2020.

This is according to an analysis of the investment app market by the app analytics and marketing platform App Radar. The recorded increase brings the total number of UK users to at least 3.2 million. If similar increases were recorded in iOS users the total number of UK app investors could be as high as 6.4 million with half of those added since the start of the pandemic.

Investment App Downloads App Radar

Investment App Downloads App Radar

The insights team at the platform analysed Google Play Store data of 10 of the UK’s biggest financial investment, savings, and pension management apps – including traditional investment choices such as Hargreaves Lansdown, and fintechs Plum, Nutmeg, and Wealthify.

Plum was one of the biggest winners of the investment boom with 382,000 new users – an 80% increase. Freetrade was close behind with 319,500 new customers via the Play Store.

App Radar’s analysis also revealed that this growth in usership is currently showing no sign of slowing, with 140,000 new users added in May 2021 alone.

The growth in the UK tracks a general global surge in the investment app market with Robinhood and eToro leading the way with an estimated 8.2 million and 6.5 million new app users respectively.

As New Year’s resolutions go, the data suggests that UK consumers instigated 179,000 downloads of the top UK finance apps in the opening weeks of the year.

The January 2021 Gamestop short also benefited trading platforms, with the likes of Interactive Investors and Hagreaves Landsown experiencing a peak month for downloads between January and February 2021.

Thomas Kriebernegg, CEO and Co-Founder, App RadarThomas Kriebernegg, CEO and Co-Founder, App Radar
Thomas Kriebernegg, CEO and Co-Founder, App Radar

Speaking on the findings of the data, Thomas Kriebernegg, CEO & Co-Founder of App Radar, comments, “We are seeing a seismic shift in how people manage their money in the UK. Gone are the days where investing was for a select wealthy few. Now, because fintech companies have significantly lowered the bar to entry, more and more people are taking direct control of their finances.

“Undoubtedly the unique circumstances of the pandemic has helped to catalyse the app investment market, however, significantly, growth has shown no sign of letting up. With an estimated 12% of UK adults now investing via their smartphones, there’s a strong commercial incentive to create new app offerings and this is likely to drive even faster growth. It would not be a surprise to see the vast majority of UK adults using at least one investment app in the next five years.”

During the course of the pandemic, the fintech sector has seen multiple large funding rounds as investors look to back players in the space. This includes a £32 million Series B funding for Freetrade. In the US, the popular trading app Robinhood raised $460 million in Series G funding.

  • 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.

GTreasury Release Its 2021 Treasury Tech Report Looking at Modernisation Across Different Industries

GTreasury, a treasury and risk management platform provider, and Strategic Treasurer, which delivers consulting services for treasury management, security, technology, and compliance, have announced the release of the 2021 Treasury Technology Survey Report.

The comprehensive 50-question survey across myriad facets of treasury technology deployment, opinion, and planning drew responses from hundreds of treasurers, treasury analysts, and other treasury and finance professionals from around the world and across industries.

Highlights from the 2021 Treasury Technology Survey Report include:

  • Significant growth anticipated. Payment factories, treasury aggregators, and TMS solutions are expected to realise 35-45% growth over the next two years.
  • APIs are becoming must-have capabilities. 73% of corporate treasury groups indicated that APIs are critical to their current processes. Machine learning capabilities are also drawing outsized focus from treasurers further along in their modernisation initiatives.
  • The gap between cash forecasting importance and reality is high. While cash forecasting is very important to 84% of treasurers, only 38% indicate they are performing at a high rate of accuracy.
  • Fraud prevention gains a heightened focus. Thwarting fraud is a top focus for 77% when considering the application of new technology in product development. Treasurers also report high demand for incorporating automation into fraud prevention processes.
  • Resistance to formats remains. Comparing legacy formats to newer and more enriched formats like XML, treasurers showed surprisingly high levels of resistance to adoption.

“Across continents and industries, treasurers are grappling with how best to transform their treasury technology stack to make processes more efficient and effective, and to drive visible value within their organizations,” said Pete Srejovic, Chief Technology Officer, GTreasury. “This survey provides a unique window into what excites and frustrates treasurers right now, and how the industry is approaching transformation in a quickly-moving ecosystem. This is a must-read report for treasury and finance professionals.”

The 2021 Treasury Technology Survey Report collected responses from March through April 2021, with 50+ questions and 250+ respondents.

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

PandaCare Policy Announced by Insurtech Igloo To Protect Singapore’s foodpanda Delivery Riders

One of Singapore’s most popular food delivery platforms, foodpanda, has announced that it will be protecting its riders and their loved ones following a new partnership with Singapore-based insurtech, Igloo. Foodpanda’s delivery riders will be offered fuss-free, wallet-friendly personal accident cover that they can extend to immediate family members. This policy has been named PandaCare.

PandaCare, underwritten by MSIG Insurance, is specifically designed for gig economy workers and encompasses six benefits: Accidental Death, Accidental Medical Expenses, Accidental Mobile Phone Screen Damage, Daily Hospital Cash, Permanent Total/Partial, Disablement and Temporary Disablement. While most Personal Accident insurance plans charge on a per year basis, PandaCare can be purchased monthly – from as low S$9/month – with personal accident coverage of S$50,000. What’s more, riders can purchase PandaCare for their immediate family members.

With the covid-19 lockdown last year, the region has seen a rise in new food delivery consumers; 34% of digital consumers in SEA moved online for food delivery in 2020. Likewise, there has also been an increase in rider sign-ups as more individuals turn to freelance gigs. Becoming a delivery rider is fast becoming an attractive role for those who value flexibility – such as those who already have a full-time job, or students who are on vacation. As such, PandaCare seeks to provide delivery partners and their families with a peace of mind as they travel the roads to meet heightened demand from covid-19 dining restrictions.

Raunak Mehta, Chief Commercial Officer of Igloo said, “Food delivery services and delivery riders have played an essential role in our lives, particularly in the last year. This is highlighted once again as Singapore hunkers down with the recent safe distancing measures. As riders meet the surge in demand, it is important that they have access to affordable and comprehensive insurance coverage so they can do their jobs with peace of mind. Together with MSIG and foodpanda, we’ve customised an affordable, accessible product delivered through a simplified purchase and claims management journey for this very important segment.”

To purchase, foodpanda riders just need to access the PandaCare purchase page on desktop or mobile and answer three simple questions. Next, they choose from three plans: Lite, Basic or Premium, fill in their personal details and make a payment using a credit or debit card. Making claims is simple too, with riders able to log in to a claims management portal to submit and view their claims status.

Jorge Rubio, Operations Director, foodpanda Singapore, said, “Our riders’ safety has always been our priority. Since the pandemic outbreak, delivery riders have played a critical role in helping the community stay safe. By partnering Igloo to launch PandaCare, we hope to provide not only our riders, but their families as well, access to wallet-friendly, fuss-free option of protecting themselves so that they can have a peace of mind while they are on the road.”

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

How Fintech Teams Grow Engagement and Enhance Digital Outcomes

How do companies keep pace with rising consumer expectations in a post-COVID, digitally transformed world? What role do flexibility and adaptability play in explaining why some companies succeed in engaging their customers while other companies struggle to do so?

Our latest Finovate webinar tackled these issues and more in an hour-long conversation with a quartet of fintech and financial services professionals. Check out our panel discussion – Keep Your Friends Close and Your Data Closer – now available for free On Demand and learn how fintechs are successfully leveraging “people, process, and culture” to achieve their goals.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

“What’s interesting is that 60% of the marketing decision-makers say that their budgets will increase in the next six months, and this was during a time when many companies were still struggling with the previous wave of the pandemic. What’s even more interesting is that the top three areas that brands are intending to invest in are customer engagement, customer satisfaction measurement, and mobile optimization and apps.” Chye Yien, Senior Strategic Business Consultant, Braze

“We saw a major shift from people talking about things to actually doing things. And there have definitely been some very clear trends that we saw towards not only just getting an app out there – which a lot of people have done – but actually making sure that app works well. So when you talk about that dichotomy between the smaller players, the startups that are coming in, and the legacy players in fintech, what we really saw was the people that came from a digitally native position really had strong applications with greater users experiences.” Julio Bermudez, VP APAC and LATAM with Amplitude

“Brands and companies really need to kind of focus on trust and be forward-looking when it comes to permissions, which are only going to get stricter. Customers are only going to want to manage their data more and more. Personalization has been around forever, but I think it’s only getting more and more important; even if it’s in a soft advertising context like an in-app message or something like that, if it’s not relevant to you then why would you care?” Alex Bird, Product Manager, Openpay

“I think it’s very important for you to be able to marry everything together, everything sing(ing) in the same language, and that’s when the first part of collecting data gets done, that’s when you are able to get data in a clean, organized manner. The next part, which I feel is the challenging part, is taking that data into insights, that’s where the goldmine is, that’s where business or your product will be able to make or create an impact for your customers.” Alka Gupta, Director of Data & People, BukuWarung.

Listen to the full discussion for free On Demand today!

Photo by Akil Mazumder from Pexels

Chatbot Startup Gupshup Raises $240 Million for Growth Push

Messaging bots developer Gupshup raised $240 million in fresh funding, the second cash injection within a few months as the startup accelerates its expansion.

Fidelity Management & Research, Tiger Global and Think Investments participated as investors, the company said Wednesday in a statement. The fundraising follows a $100 million round in April — the first in a decade — that valued the company at $1.4 billion.

Gupshup helps companies from Facebook Inc. and Inc. to Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc develop customer-relations chatbots on websites or services like WhatsApp. The company will use the funds to expand engineering and product innovation teams, grow sales internationally and make acquisitions, co-founder Beerud Sheth said in an interview.

The fundraising is the latest major investment into a startup with Indian origins after pandemic lockdowns accelerated the nation’s mobile and internet boom. The country had a record $6.3 billion of funding and deals for technology startups in the second quarter, while food-delivery giant Zomato this month became the first of India’s internet unicorns to tap local capital markets with its $1.3 billion initial public offering.

Gupshup, which got its start in text messaging, targets growth of more than 60% in annual subscription revenue this year from $150 million in 2020, Sheth said. “Messaging is a $50 billion industry and conversational messaging, which is newer and accelerating, adds a further $25 billion,” he said.

FinTech for the Greater Good – COVID-19 Vaccination

India, a country with over 1.3 billion people, faced a severe healthcare crisis during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the death toll stood at 400,000 as of July 1, 2021. Amid the fear of an impending third wave, studies suggest that COVID-19 vaccination could be the only way to prevent another disaster. Therefore, the country has taken up the arduous task of mass vaccination. As per data released by the Ministry, as of July 27, 2021, 433 million doses were administered, and 92.8 million people (6.8% of the country’s population) were fully vaccinated.

The government is striving to supply the required numbe …

Funding Xchange Finds Lenders Need to Play Their Part in Business Recovery

Following closely on from the launch of the Funding Xchange Technologies platform, the Quarter 3 2021 Funding Xchange Lending Monitor indicates that there is now good evidence that the business recovery is underway.

However, a less conventional approach, driven by technology, will be required to ensure surviving and growth businesses attract the funds that they need, and for lenders to manage the risks in their debt portfolios efficiently.

The pandemic has accelerated the transition towards digitisation, digital ‘office work,’ digital health care, digital meals and even digital divorce. Businesses have re-engineered how they operate.

Much of this transition is driven by ‘Avengers’, businesses who have re-invented and pivoted their business models to respond to rapidly changing conditions and customer needs.

The last Lending Monitor showed that these ‘Avengers’ exist in all sectors – including those that have been heavily impacted by the crisis – like hospitality and travel. Q1 2021 saw the rise of the 50/50 economy with an almost equal split between UK businesses emerging from the pandemic that have weathered the immediate storm well and those that have been bruised. The Q3 Monitor indicates that the fate of UK businesses has improved in line with the gradual reopening of the economy – with 60% of businesses now reporting a positive or neutral trading performance.

Yet, ‘Avengers’ have been largely unable to access government funding that focused on the weakest and sought to stem a rapid rise in unemployment and business failures. As the broader economy awakens and support schemes are scaled back, the continued recovery will require these businesses that have shown their agility and performed well to access the funding they need.  However, the expected K-shaped recovery – with some businesses recovering quickly while others continuing to lose cash as costs bounce back but revenues remain subdued – means that many lenders are pausing to determine whether and where to deploy fresh funding.

Katrin Herrling, Co-Founder and CEO of Funding Xchange, commented: “Seeking out opportunities in an uncertain time requires greater insights into businesses’ trading and payments performance. It is clear that there are attractive lending opportunities in the market and unlocking these will require digital capabilities to be able to identify and deploy funding efficiently. The use of real-time data to understand how businesses are performing is becoming even more important in these times. This is where FXE Technologies comes in, delivering digital capabilities to the SME lending eco-system.”

The next phase of development

Funding Xchange’s Q3 Lending Monitor is offering five key observations for the next phase in the development and deployment of funding solutions: 

Going against conventional wisdom is offering significant opportunities – but requires insights that allow funders to identify attractive opportunities.

Winners and losers are not defined by sector, geography or established client relationships. The dislocation we have experienced is sudden, does not hit all businesses the same way. For example, 7% of businesses in the hospitality sector have grown and almost 40% are doing as well as pre-crisis. But finding these opportunities requires funders to take a view which goes beyond sector and examines the micro-level health of the business in question.

Risk models have never seen an economy that is awaking from hibernation and has just replaced a year’s worth of revenues with £80B in business debt.

Historic data models are unlikely to prove efficient in recovery credit assessment. As businesses are starting to trade again, rebuilding their cashflow and paying bills, lenders will need to look to the pattern of transactions and payments as an indication of the prospects of a particular business, in both identifying opportunities and mitigating risks.

Affordability will be taking centre-stage as businesses face a mountain of debt and gain new FCA protections.

Commercial Credit Data Sharing (CCDA) data provides the ability to demonstrate affordability and is a fast-track route into assessing a business’ financial health – especially as some businesses are starting to re-emerge with a vengeance albeit with weaker balance sheet.

Access to trading data can be a powerful early warning flag – if used responsibly, it is creating the opportunity to benefit borrowers and protect lenders.

Understanding in real-time businesses’ revenues, costs and payments behaviour has been the foundation of banks’ assessment of risk – and through Open Banking is now equally available to lenders who are not holding the bank account relationship with a business. Understanding how a business is trading – its net cashflow – is the key predictor.

Experience and diligence matters.

The background of directors is proving to be one of the key survival drivers of a business. Directors who have a higher personal credit score – a marker of financial prudence that appears to translate into robust business management – the business they run is less likely to report a negative impact from the pandemic, less likely to be delinquent, and less likely to be suffering from cashflow problems.

  • 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.

Behind the Idea: Apiax

In recent years, the scope and number of regulations have skyrocketed across major industries worldwide. In the financial industry alone, over 50,000 pieces of legislation have come into force in the past decade. As national and regional regulators seek to implement common standards, for example around data protection, regulatory turbulence is only going to increase, and the challenge of ensuring their activities are compliant will undoubtedly continue to shape the business environment for many, especially businesses who are engaged in digital and, by their nature, cross-border activities.

Major banks and financial services providers, as well as new, digital-first, market entrants, are using Apiax to embed compliance into their current systems and processes to ensure their business operations remain highly efficient. Apiax’s users can embed compliance into everything they do – whether that is offering the right product to the right person, in the right market, or onboarding a new client and offering best in class investment advice.

Here Philip Schoch CEO of Apiax discusses the importance of regulatory compliance.

What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?

Philip Schoch CEO of ApiaxPhilip Schoch CEO of Apiax
Philip Schoch CEO of Apiax

Regulatory compliance knowledge, and the policies which ultimately shape and determine what a business can or can’t do in an industry or market, have traditionally been shared across businesses via paper-based handbooks and manuals, or during ad hoc discussions with the legal and compliance teams. Some compliance teams might publish their policies on the intranet, often in pdf format. Or share checklists that condense key policies into a spread sheet document with individual teams. That is not an efficient digital solution.

Many of your readers would agree that spread sheets are great if you are an accountant, but it is not fit for the purpose of managing an organisation’s compliance structure that is crucial for business activities. Not least because keeping that sort of static document up to date is hugely labour-intensive. At the same time, businesses cannot afford to wait to make critical business decisions. Neither can they afford to get those decisions wrong. They need to know that they are compliant, quickly, so they can get on with the job at hand. Apiax enables them to do exactly that.

How has this changed over the past few years?

It might be easier to start with what hasn’t changed, which is the increasing number of regulations. As a result doing business, particularly across borders, can be complicated, especially in highly regulated sectors, like banking and finance. So ensuring compliance with the latest regulations, and any future changes to those regulations, is now a full-time job for many businesses.

Ensuring teams have access to that regulatory knowledge is also a major challenge for many organisations, but we have taken things a step further and our award-winning solutions allow businesses to embed compliance into their business activities. Replacing out-of-date knowledge sources like handbooks, PDFs, and endless memoranda, with simple to use apps and APIs, which provide users with clear yes/no answers to their most pressing compliance questions.

You don’t need to be an expert to use our solutions. We are democratising access to compliance knowledge and empowering client-facing teams to focus on what matters. On the flip side, compliance teams can start to truly enable their businesses, avoid ambiguity, and share critical compliance knowledge across their organisation more efficiently and faster without losing a heartbeat.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

Much of the innovation we have seen in the digital age has been driven by agile teams, who want to challenge and change the status quo, and help their users to do things more efficiently. We are no different, and we are laser focused on remaining agile and creative, as we empower organizations to bridge the gap between compliance, business, and technology. No matter what industry they work in.

We have built agility into all our organisational structures. Empowering our teams with accountability and responsibility, while giving them the space to be creative. We are all techies at heart, but legal and compliance is in our DNA. Between us, we have spent over 270 years working in legal and compliance, and over 230 years in software engineering. Working with some of the biggest banks and financial services providers in the World. We know the challenges these businesses face, and we are determined to help them to do things differently.

What ideas have been implemented?

We want to enable any business to apply their compliance knowledge exactly where they need it, whether in their daily interactions with their customers, or by integrating it into their business-critical systems. So, after transforming complex written and static regulations into digital, dynamic, machine-readable compliance rules, we provide access to that knowledge and content in the simplest way possible.

However, what works easily for a digital first payment or crypto start-up is not necessarily “easy” for a global bank or financial services provider because of limitations on legacy systems. Therefore we developed easy to integrate, case centric APIs, which can plug into an organisation’s existing system. But one size does not fit all, so we offer our users several ways to use Apiax, including lean or full integration, alongside our standalone simple to use apps. Bottom line is everyone has access to Apiax, no matter the limitations of their existing system.

Like any agile and creative team, we want to work with the best, so we work with some of the world’s most trusted regulatory experts to ensure our solutions are ‘fed’ with up to date regulatory knowledge.

Finally, as with any start-up, the scalability of our solutions is key. Apiax is cloud-based and configured for redundancy and high availability. Users can also integrate our cloud offering into their private processes without compromising on quality or security. We already cover more than 160 jurisdictions, and are expanding our digital regulatory rule repository every day.

What benefits have these brought?

Alongside the validation we are seeing in terms of market fit and growth, Apiax and its contributors are starting to gain international recognition for the work we are doing in compliance. Our partners, Credit Suisse, just won the ‘Best Private Bank for Use of RegTech Globally’ at the Professional Wealth Management (PWM) Wealth Tech Awards for our ongoing collaboration on cross border compliance. We have also just been named the ‘Most Promising Fintech Start-up’ at the 6th Annual Asian Private Banker Technology Awards.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

Like anyone who is selling a digital product, particularly one that digitizes an organization’s compliance function, we face the challenge of adapting to the growth strategies of digital-first startups; while navigating a saturated and traditionally low-tech industry, like banking and finance. Bridging the gap between new technological capabilities and the needs and customs of an established industry can be tricky; but we believe our suite of options offer everything a business needs to embed compliance into their existing systems, irrespective of their size.

On a different note, recruiting top talent can also be tricky. In fact, finding the right, high-quality people to join us on our journey is our top challenge right now. As a successful, early-stage technology start-up, we are in a constant talent competition with big technology companies. Saying that we are always looking out for innovative ways to attract and retain the top talent, which has, and will continue to help us to scale our business globally. Despite those challenges, we are growing fast. Despite a global pandemic, from the beginning of 2020 until the start of 2021, we have more than doubled in size. Growing our team from 35 to more than 70 people. At the same time, we are very proud of our diversity. Our team is nearly half female, and we have team members from 18 countries across the globe.

Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?

I believe fintech has already changed the banking and financial world. Mostly due to the fact that digital banks came in to disrupt a very traditional industry, so if any of the more traditional financial institutions chose not to innovate and ride that wave (at least in part), they knew their bottom lines would suffer. At the end of the day, companies depend on their customers, and if your customers sense that there is a better option available, they will make that shift pretty quickly.

We know that financial services providers who choose to embed compliance into their business activities will have a very high competitive advantage over anyone who doesn’t. FinTechs, by their nature, are more likely to adopt such a solution and are therefore well on their way to achieving compliance by design.

In a similar way, FinTech helps with recruiting. More young and high-skilled talent are looking for opportunities to be part of that change. Mostly, I would say, because they can see the difference between working for a traditional versus a disruptive company in the financial industry. The competition is high at both ends of the scale, but with the right values and propositions, companies, like Apiax, can still recruit the best talent.

Final thoughts…

At Apiax, we see the future of regulatory compliance being central to financial businesses being able to operate efficiently. Front office, legal and compliance teams complementing each other to drive sustained business growth. Simply by embedding compliance into everything they do.

  • 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.

Transact Payments: Easing the Complexities of the Payment Ecosystem

Payments have evolved well past the era where a chip and pin was the latest and most secure form of performing a transaction. There are a multitude of fintechs that provide alternative payment methods with more and more innovative ideas being worked on each day.  

With this in mind, fintechs must consider a variety of things when aiming to tackle the payments space and create a new idea. Kriya Patel, CEO of Transact Payments has over 20 years of European banking experience encompassing savings, mortgages, Fintech, IT systems and most recently, and over the last 15+ years, e-Money, emerging payments and cards. Prior to serving as CEO, Patel was European Sales Director at The Bancorp and COO of Newcastle Card Solutions.

Patel shares his views on how he believes the payment ecosystem can be eased for new entrants in the field:

Kriya Patel, CEO of Transact PaymentsKriya Patel, CEO of Transact Payments
Kriya Patel, CEO of Transact Payments

The payments ecosystem is a complicated multi-faceted highway of entities. This can include a Banking Identification Number (BIN) sponsor (issuer), processor, programme manager, card bureau, scheme (like Visa or Mastercard) and acquirer. Each actor is also reliant on one another to execute their role successfully and securely in the transaction.

It is also defined as being an environment in continuous transformation, which is subject to frequent changes and updates in regulation. For instance, over the last 18 months, new regulations and technical requirement mandates have arisen. This includes PSD2 and 3D Secure 2.2, which necessitates new security, fraud protection, proactive alert requirements, and the need for transparency regarding FX. These requirements all have significance on the scheme rules to which issuers and acquirers must adhere, while also providing new technological challenges for each part of the supply chain that must be planned and prepared for. In addition, it may be necessary to involve further partners to ensure compliance with the new
requirements and/or enhance value.

However, the industry is also marked by lacking education and understanding of this change. Undoubtedly, adding a layer of reporting for the sake of it is not necessary, yet recent changes in the sector now demand it. In spite of this growing requirement, some players in the chain of payments may not prioritise it enough, or even see it as their specific responsibility. Whilst forward planning can negate the risk, from an issuer point of view, if the key service provider is not geared up to make the payments process work then whole ecosystems can become misaligned and muddled, leading to friction and even failure of a programme. Nearly always, the cardholder loses out in this situation, which is the complete opposite of what all parties involved want to achieve.

Most recently, Brexit has also shone a light on how failing to plan into the future can lead to added cost, delay and risk. Those who did not prepare for the regulatory implications are now repaying a technology and service delay debt and as a consequence are firmly on the back foot. By contrast, those who did plan for this situation, have the additional financial freedom to plan for other changes yet to come. For example, by April 2022 both schemes will require an eight-digit BIN configuration, as opposed to six, which of course carries cost and technology implications. For some fintechs still playing catch up after Brexit, this new requirement may be unsurmountable.

With this in mind, how is it possible to make this extensive partnership payments model work for the benefit of all parties involved? This is especially challenging as behind the scenes it is becoming more and more complex to effectively bring a future-proofed product and/or service to market.

However, fintechs should consider three essential areas when launching a programme to market:


In order to succeed, fintechs must be capable of clearly articulating both their product and commercial model. This encompasses understanding end-user needs and wants, the overall customer journey, how it functions, whether it will provide debit, prepaid or credit card, and the level of authentication the transaction requires.

Roadmap for rollout

As tempting as it may be to roll out a product or service within a market quickly, planning and understanding costs must be the priority instead. Important questions must be asked and answered: what key markets does a fintech wish to operate in now, in the future, and what’s the predicted timeline of staged rollout? The reason for focusing on such issues is because there are a multitude of implications of operating in other countries and continents. This ranges from document and marketing translations to varying customer onboarding requirements, regulatory compliance and the implications on permissions and scheme licences.


By having the product and its rollout roadmap in order, fintechs will be in a position to determine the criteria on which they should aim to select supporting partners. Careful consideration in choosing an effective strategic partner chain can help navigate the payments ecosystem and deliver the end solution.

Coupled with this, fintechs should look for four critical components when it comes to a BIN sponsor partnership:

  • Vigorous focus on pre-assessment work

The best BIN sponsors fully evaluate the product at the outset. In operation, this means very strict onboarding requirements including regulatory considerations, geography and licencing, know your customer (KYC), and anti-money laundering (AML) requirements. By contrast, potential partners who promote speed may be inclined to be less thorough – remember the point above about technical and service debt?

  • Well-connected and able to recommend a bespoke partner chain

Selecting partners with similar traits is helpful, especially as prioritising a collaborative and transparent ethos and approach to understanding and anticipating market movements should mean a more sustainable and successful product, carrying lower risk. Choosing partners that work in tandem and look after each other’s obligations and best interests can only be done with the benefit of years of experience in this complex and complicated space. The right BIN sponsor will be able to use their networks and experience to advocate the most beneficial partners.

  • Informs and educates

A knowledgeable BIN sponsor should be seen as an extension of a fintech’s business. Such a partner shares the same concerns and appreciates the need for a successful rollout of a programme and can pre-empt issues and challenges based on a comprehensive pre-assessment. This partner also has the ability to decipher legal requirements and provide education on the ever-changing regulatory landscape. For example, some BIN sponsors were getting ready for PSD2 two years before the need to comply.

  • A low risk profile

Fintechs should avoid any temptation to bend rules. Instead, having a strong conception of what is necessary to protect against fraud and AML risk, while avoiding shortcutting the funds-flow and onboarding processes are just a few pertinent examples. Abiding by the regulations is not only critical for the individual programme but also for the whole industry.

Fintechs need to investigate how they can effectively and efficiently navigate the intricacies of the end-to-end payments process, as well as the key criteria to consider in selecting a BIN sponsor. The best BIN sponsors provide the gateway for fintechs to successfully handle the wider payments ecosystem by not only providing deep understanding matched with simplifying current complexities but also by pre-planning for future requirements.

While the payments industry is undoubtedly complex and challenging, choosing a BIN sponsor does not have to be, if you follow these principles.

Pandemic Uncertainty and Risk of New Variants Could Affect Takaful Insurers in GCC

S&P Global Ratings have released a report which has said that unlike in the corporate sector, where the pandemic led to widespread downgrades in 2020, credit ratings on Islamic (Takaful) and conventional insurers in the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) have remained broadly stable over the past 18 months, supported by relatively strong capital buffers.

S&P Global Ratings have taken several positive rating actions on Takaful companies so far this year. Their outlook on the sector for the next 12 months remains stable. However, given that risks related to the pandemic persist, they could take rating actions in the event of a sharp decline in asset prices, unexpected and severe technical losses, or governance and internal control failures.

We expect an economic recovery in the GCC in 2021, supported mainly by the increase in oil prices and the vaccine rollout. However, slow vaccination progress in some parts of the world and new variants could dampen the recovery.

“An uneven recovery, ongoing cost-saving measures in many industries, and a shift to less business travel has further increased the pressure in key sectors such as real estate, retail, transportation, and hospitality,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Emir Mujkic in the report, entitled “Islamic Insurers May Not Sustain Strong Profitability Throughout 2021”.

“We believe these factors, combined with very intense competition in the insurance sector, are weighing on growth prospects for gross written premiums/contributions of both Takaful and conventional insurers,” Mr. Mujkic added.

Very high competition in the overcrowded GCC insurance industry will continue to weigh on earnings in 2021. Despite a recent material improvement in profitability in Saudi Arabia’s insurance sector, more than one-third of insurers continue to report losses. A new insurance law with higher reserving requirements due to come into force over the next year, could also increase pressure on small and unprofitable takaful players in Kuwait that will need to raise capital to meet these requirements. “Overall, while we expect growth in the sector, we think it’ll be unevenly spread, with larger conventional insurers taking more of the gains than the Takaful,” Mr. Mujkic said.

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

Conexiom: Maximising AP Processes with AI

In a world where time is money, it’s becoming less and less acceptable for AP processes to consume minutes more than they’re worth. In the new age of digital, payment processes must move ahead of the times if they’re to remain competitive.

Judd Marcello, EVP & CMO, ConexiomJudd Marcello, EVP & CMO, Conexiom
Judd Marcello, EVP & CMO, Conexiom

This viewpoint is shared by Judd Marcello, EVP & CMO at Conexiom. Judd has more than 25 years of B2C and B2B marketing leadership experience throughout the United Kingdom, Americas, Australian and European markets. Judd leads all facets of marketing for Conexiom.

In this guest post for The Fintech Times, Judd analyses the current capabilities of accounts payable processes, and discusses how the use of artificial intelligence could streamline such capabilities.

When it can take companies using minimal automation up to 16.3 days to process just one invoice, “slow and steady” doesn’t win the race. Organisations who choose not to automate accounts payable (AP) risk their relationships with suppliers.

While invoice processing is time-consuming and admin-heavy, many AP departments are stuck in an outdated paradigm that’s costing them money. In fact, the top 25% of 1,485 organisations studied by the American Productivity & Quality Centre spend an average of $2.07 processing each invoice — the lowest 25% spend nearly $10.

There’s a solution to that stagnancy.

Businesses must take advantage of the digital revolution, which includes AI-driven technology designed to automate AP processes. Automating enables companies to increase efficiency, accuracy and:

  • Reduce the cost of invoice processing.
  • Capture early payment cost savings.
  • Optimise payment timing.
  • Manage supplier relationships and address rising demands.
  • Increase working capital.
  • Reduce double- and overpayment errors.

Businesses who opt to find an AP automation solution will come out ahead. The Institute of Finance and Management found companies using a high level of automation spend about $1.77 to process an invoice. And a Goldman Sachs report estimated AP automation drives up to 70 – 80% savings for AP personnel.

Additionally, today’s B2B buyers expect the ease and speed of a B2C experience. Automating workflows and document processing to remove human error and increase data accuracy delivers on that expectation.

Putting AI Into AP

AP automation uses technology to eliminate manual tasks, provide better visibility and offer more control over critical financial information. It uses AI to:

  • Extract, translate and deliver complex, unstructured data into structured systems without human intervention and with 100% accuracy.
  • Define data validation, logic, lookups, and rules to handle unique commercial terms present in B2B relationships.
  • Resolve exceptions quickly with real-time alerts and exception workflows.
  • Reduce processing times.
  • Help companies balance cash flows according to historical data analysis.

Using machine learning (ML) and AI, AP automation learns how your company runs its accounting processes. It accelerates data entry by assigning general ledger codes. It identifies possible fraud risks by recognising patterns. It flags the correct people to address possible issues by learning who’s involved in the AP approval process. It can bundle invoices with contracts and send credit notes or payment reminders.

With help from ML, IPA and IDP can use business rules to:

  • Identify and extract data from or input data into specific documents.
  • Link data for exceptions resolution.
  • Route documents to the correct people for exception handling or validation.

Future-Proofing AP Automation

In elevating the levels of automation and accuracy, AI has the power to transform AP processes. ML and AI drive data organisation and standardisation, helping finance leaders discover trends and discrepancies within vendor networks, for example. AP departments and finance teams already rely on robust analytics, coupled with AI, to make informed decisions about lending, investments, and cash management.

Automating repetitive, tedious AP processes not only makes employees’ lives easier but also optimises finance processing efficiency. Automating AP workflows provides full visibility into payment timing, providing real-time access to suppliers, vendors, and other stakeholders.

AI Can Do It

Automating AP processes like approvals, duplicate and fraud detection, e-invoicing, invoice capture/extraction, and matching and supplier query management saves companies time and money. AI-driven systems give 360° visibility into spend, drive efficiencies, assist with compliance and risk reduction, and strengthen stakeholder relationships.

Shelve the Classics and Embrace the Future

AP automation costs significantly less than traditional, legacy systems. Outdated AP processes rely on inefficiencies that strain company resources like personnel and budget. Businesses opting for intelligently automated AP processing see great ROI like cost savings, reduced invoice-processing times, improved stakeholder relationships, better risk reduction, and compliance.

Citizens faces tech integration challenges in $3.5B Investors purchase

In its $3.5 billion acquisition of Investors Bancorp that was announced yesterday, Citizens Financial Group said it sees greater market penetration in the Northeast. Citizens will also see a notable technology integration project, according to an analysis by Bank Automation News of the banks’ tech stacks via FI Navigator. Citizens has $185 billion of assets […]

New AI-Powered Solution for BNPL B2B Purchasing Introduced by Former Mollie and Klarna Executives

Former senior managers of Klarna and Mollie have developed an AI-powered buy now, pay later invoicing solution to solve the problems of B2B purchasing; called Biller.

The product will assist commerce leaders in reducing risks, optimising cash flow, and exceeding buyers’ needs and expectations. The Biller team is co-building its company with Slimmer AI, a European AI B2B venture studio that recently spun-out regtech startup Sentinels.

The B2B commerce market is changing rapidly and according to Goldman Sachs, B2B is the next untapped market opportunity for the payments industry. In Europe, online B2B commerce volume was 710 billion and growing at 18% CAGR.

Derek Vreeburg, co-founder and CEO of Biller explains why he is excited to launch Biller, “Current B2B invoice solutions have lacked innovation for years. With our experience at Klarna and Mollie we know how to transform complex processes into easy-to-use services. Combined with the AI expertise of Slimmer AI, we are confident that we can challenge the status quo and contribute to the next chapter in online B2B commerce”

Future-Proofing B2B Invoicing

B2B commerce has grown rapidly within a short space of time, leaving merchants struggling to keep up with and adapt to buyers’ expanding expectations and needs. Traditional suppliers can neither provide an intuitive product for the desired check-out experience nor add flexibility to the invoice process.

Biller was founded to take away the challenges both buyers and sellers experience trying to fit traditional processes into an increasingly digital world. Realtime, AI-powered credit and fraud checks, flexible payment terms, personalised debtor management, and guaranteed payouts are all areas needed to future proof B2B invoicing and provide an improved experience for both sellers and buyers.

JC Heyneke, CEO, Slimmer AIJC Heyneke, CEO, Slimmer AI
JC Heyneke, CEO, Slimmer AI

JC Heyneke, CEO of Slimmer AI, concludes with, “We are convinced that machine learning will reshape the way credit risk assessment in B2B is done, and that this is needed to evolve B2B eCommerce. We are thrilled to partner with Derek, Mick, and Uwe to build Biller!”

  • 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.

API vulnerabilities exposed for financial services institutions

Attacks that exploit application programming interfaces (APIs) are on the rise, resulting not just in stolen data, but compromised systems and even attacks on accounts, experts say. APIs are commonly used to connect banking applications to fintech and data services. A number of high-profile attacks recently have leveraged API vulnerabilities, Roey Eliyahu, CEO and co-founder […]

XBRL News about trends and Nigeria

Here is our pick of the 3 most important XBRL news stories from the last week. 

1  Major European trends for reporting

Whether it’s the upcoming mandatory ESG disclosures or increased scrutiny reflected in data granularity, the road leading up to 2022 (and beyond) is a challenging one. In a financial world that is so profoundly wired together, a small change on one end can unravel a process on another end, and the wind of change will affect all involved. Approaching the publication of our whitepaper on major trends shaping reporting in the European Union, we share our subjective teaser on trends that are and will be a major influence.

Europe currently is in the vanguard for reporting of all kinds. Here’s a summary of the relevant trends.

2 99 days that will change reporting

The coming days should see greater certainty emerge in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards-setting space, observes XBRL International CEO John Turner.“For those of us very used to the normal pace of accounting standards setting (or indeed, disclosure rule creation), the speed with which policy makers have turned their attention to the goal of mandatory and consistent sustainability reporting is breathtaking,” he writes in a new blog post.

Due to his position, John has great insights into reporting developments around the world. Check out his 99 days!

3 New for Nigeria: XBRL reports blaze a trail

We were delighted to hear this week that Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer, has produced its most recent financial statements in XBRL, using the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Taxonomy. This marks the first time a Nigerian listed company has reported its results using XBRL.

It is genuinely encouraging to see an important company in Africa’s largest country by population stepping up to true leadership by voluntarily filing XBRL reports! Go Nigeria, go Africa!


Christian Dreyer CFA is well known in Swiss Fintech circles as an expert in XBRL and financial reporting for investors.

 We have a self-imposed constraint of 3 news stories each week because we serve busy senior leaders in Fintech who need just enough information to get on with their job.

 For context on XBRL please read this introduction to our XBRL Week in 2016 and read articles tagged XBRL in our archives. 

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

This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 29/07

Dig into The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup this Thursday 29 July for the latest global fintech news. Jumio has a new marketing boss, while insurtech Spot raises $17.5million in funding. 

Job moves

Fintech Snap Finance has unveiled a trio of senior hires. Doris Hektor is chief compliance officer, Gaurav Kohli takes on the chief technology officer role, while Tim King is Snap’s new chief financial officer. The appointments will help Snap navigate ‘future growth’ as demand for its flexible pay-over-time fintech platform rises.

Eric Gewirtzman Chief Executive Officer and Co-founderEric Gewirtzman Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder
Eric Gewirtzman, CEO and co-founder

Meanwhile, unicorn insurtech bolt has reshuffled its senior leadership team. Eric Gewirtzman, currently CEO of bolt United States, will become CEO, insurance exchange for bolttech. He will also join bolttech group’s executive committee. While Jim Dwane, currently bolt’s chief revenue officer, takes on the role of bolt’s CEO in the US. The company also recently completed an oversubscribed series A funding round.

GoCardless, a global fintech in account-to-account payments, has appointed Alexandra Chiaramonti as general manager of Southern Europe. Prior to GoCardless, she served as CEO at GoBeep, as well as roles at Criteo and Teemo. GoCardless plans to open up significant new market segments with open banking, including B2C subscriptions.

Jumio, the AI-powered end-to-end identity verification firm, has unveiled Anna Convery as chief marketing officer.  She joins from Radware, where she was previously the chief marketing officer. Jumio also recently welcomed Bala Kumar as chief product officer and secured a $150million investment from Great Hill Partners.

Mergers and acquisitions 

Bishopsgate Financial, the financial services change management consultancy, has been acquired by CubeMatch Ltd. Both firms offer consultancy, resource augmentation and managed services for change programmes to be embedded in their clients’ businesses. The existing Bishopsgate Financial management team will remain in place, while assignments with existing clients will continue.

Astorg and Bridgepoint have completed its acquisition of Fenergo. The transaction completed following approval by the European Commission. Fenergo aims to drive deeper market penetration and geographic footprint through the innovation of its SaaS and on-premise platforms and product line development.


The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) and Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE federal export credit company, have agreed to inject capital into the UAE’s industrial sector. The MoIAT-ECI partnership offers a package of financial incentives to support UAE exports. It will also financing facilities for manufacturers and tech projects, guarantees for loans, an umbrella insurance for SMEs, and assistance in securing IP rights for startups.

Numerated has forged a partnership with San Francisco’s Community Bank of the Bay (CBB). CBB will leverage Numerated’s platform to power digital lending for small businesses, providing a digital loan application process and offering lines of credit up to $500,000.

Meanwhile, Mastercard and Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking have partnered to deliver a new open banking payment solution to Lloyds’ business clients. Lloyds Bank’s PayFrom Bank has attracted initial interest from charities for online donations and wallet funding use cases, although it can be used for any payment scenario.

Fintech Vitesse has selected compliance solution Alessa by Tier 1 Financial Solutions to enable secure real-time global transactions. Vitesse will use Alessa, as well as Refinitiv’s World-Check, for its real-time customer and transaction screening and monitoring services. Vitesse provides international payment services and treasury management solutions to insurance companies and corporates.



More partnerships

Paymaya has plumped for Iliad Solutions as its payments testing supplier. The Philippines mobile money and payments provider has licenced t3:Switch, Iliad Solution’s test platform for checking the interoperability of its solutions with global payment schemes.

Meanwhile, valU, a buy now, pay later fintech platform in Egypt, has unveiled a partnership with Club S, SODIC’s premiere sporting club. valU will offer financing plans for Club S members at the SODIC East, SODIC West, and Allegria branches of the club. Through the partnership, members can pay for new memberships, renewals, as well as facilities, in installments.

Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Aramco, has enlisted tech vendor HES FinTech to develop lending software and predictive analytics software for its financial services. The digital product will also help scale up Wa’ed’s activities.

“HES FinTech’s expertise will support the launch of our updated platform, which will benefit from automation, clear UI & UX, and a fully functional customer portal.”

Mazen Alasnag, head of loan management, Wa’ed

Payments platform Vyne has announces its integration with remittance firm RemitONE. The deal gives RemitONE’s 100-plus remittance clients instant access to Vyne’s payment solution. Vyne uses open banking to move money in real time between bank accounts.

While, Silkbank, a commercial and Islamic bank in Pakistan, has gone live with digital banking platform Temenos Infinity. Silkbank plans to migrate its 350,000-plus customers to the new digital banking platform within four months. The implementation was carried out by Xpert Digital (XD), a certified Temenos services partner.

Research and insight

Islamic insurers in the GCC may see profitability wane in the second half of 2021, according to S&P Global Ratings. Very high competition in the overcrowded GCC insurance industry will continue to weigh on earnings, it says. A new insurance law with higher reserving requirements due to come into force could also increase pressure on small and unprofitable takaful players.

Customers have continued to prioritise sending money transfers to support the education of family and friends overseas, says cross-border digital payments service WorldRemit. Overall, remittances remained resilient with $540billion of transfers sent last year.

The Arab Monetary Fund has launched its second Arab Region Fintech Guide. In cooperation with the Arab Regional Fintech Working Group, the guide aims to be a gateway to learn about the fintech industry in the Arab countries and the related legislations.

Funding and investments

Customer engagement company Dixa has unveiled Series C funding round totaling $105million. Led by General Atlantic, with additional participation from existing investors Notion Capital Project A and Seed Capital. Dixa will use the funds to invest in product development, including potential new acquisitions. It also plans to quadruple its engineering team by the end of 2022 and significantly scale its global presence.

LogicGate, a provider of transformative risk and compliance solutions, has announced a $113million Series C funding round led by PSGGreenspring Associates also increased its commitment since its original investment in 2019. The new capital brings LogicGate’s total funding to date to $156million.

Prime Trust has closed a $64million Series A round. Led by Mercato Partners, the round also included participation from Samsung Next, Nationwide, Commerce Ventures, Ayon Capital, Kraken Ventures and Seven Peaks Ventures. Zane Busteed at Mercato Partners Traverse Fund and Tom Gonser, of Seven Peaks Ventures, will join Prime Trust’s board.

Spot, the insurtech startup, has raised $17.5million in funding. This round was led by GreatPoint Ventures, alongside Montage Ventures, Silverton Partners, Mutual of Omaha and MS&AD. The company will use the new capital to grow the team, forge new partnerships, as well as ramp up marketing efforts.



NigeriaNigeria plans to launch its own digital currency in October, its central bank governor has said. Earlier this year, Nigeria stopped its banks and financial institutions from dealing in or facilitating transactions in cryptocurrencies. Central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said the ‘e-naira’ would operate as a wallet against which customers can hold existing funds in their bank account.

Alif, a Central Asian fintech challenger bank, has plans to launch in the UK in August. The expansion to the UK is led by Firdavs Shakhidi, who will oversee the launch of a new London office. Alif will also look to raise debt financing to grow its buy now, pay later portfolio size.

Investment group Quantum Group has expanded its London offices to further support its next phase of growth and drive product innovation. Its companies Tail, Volopa and Vantage will move into new offices located in Victoria, while Quantum Group HQ and Valkyrie will move into new premises in Belgrave Square. Quantum Group has also adopted a hybrid work approach model including a rotating day schedule.


Terra Virtua, the digital collectibles platform, has unveiled a liquidity mining programme. It incentivises users who add liquidity to the Uniswap TVK/ETH trading pairs. Terra Virtua has also unveiled Prestige, a staking club that lets users earn more from their TVK tokens. The platform lets collectors of digital assets display and interact with their virtual goods in augmented reality, virtual reality and in 3D on PCs.

Barclaycard has introduced a new Cashback Rewards programme with Visa. It gives new and existing shoppers automatic cashback when spending at a range of high street and online retailers. Cardholders can also have their cashback redeemed back to their Barclaycard, trade up for an e-voucher, or donate to a chosen charity.

  • Claire works across print and online as Editor for The Fintech Times.

Close Correlation Between International Remittance Services and Education; Finds WorldRemit

Customers continue to utilise international remittance services to support the education of family and friends studying overseas; finds the cross-border digital payments service WorldRemit.

Overall, remittances remained resilient, with the World Bank revealing that $540 billion of transfers were sent last year.

According to UNESCO’s 2019 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, money transfers boosted spending on education by 35% across 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, including Ghana, Nigeria, India, and the Philippines.

In the run-up to millions of children returning to school following a prolonged period of disruption, a number of WorldRemit customers have reiterated their commitment to supporting their relatives financially back home.

Ronke Deborah, a UK-based executive and WorldRemit customer, said, “I use WorldRemit to send money four or five times a month on average to friends and relatives in Ghana and Nigeria. During the last six months, I’ve also sent support to family in other parts of the world including the USA and Canada.

“Due to the Covid-19-related difficulties facing my cousins, I’ve started paying the primary and secondary school fees of my nieces and nephews. I love helping, especially when it comes to education as it benefits the whole of society. I’m constantly hearing about how the pandemic has disrupted studies around the world so I’m just grateful that I’m in a position to support my loved ones.”

Findings from the World Bank, along with UN data on global school enrolments, highlighted how remittances will continue to play an key role in education across emerging markets. In Ghana, which saw the most significant increases in remittances received between 2010 and 2019 (2,884%), enrolments in tertiary education rose by 92.54% for girls and 70.37% for boys between 2010 and 2015. Primary and secondary education in Ghana also showed positive signs of growth, with increases of 45% for girls and 35% for boys in secondary, and an overall increase of close to 10% at primary level.

Danielle Treharne, Director EMEA (Send), WorldRemitDanielle Treharne, Director EMEA (Send), WorldRemit
Danielle Treharne, Director EMEA (Send), WorldRemit

“As a company, we recognise the transformative impact of education on young people’s lives, and understand why funding education is one of the main reasons that migrants send money back home,” comments Danielle Treharne, Director EMEA (Send) at WorldRemit. “We continue to focus on providing fast, convenient, secure and affordable money transfer services so that more people across the globe can continue to support the education of those dearest to them.”

  • 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.

Haidrun: How Blockchain Is Changing the Insurance Sector

When one mentions blockchain, people often think of cryptocurrencies, mining and large power-hungry data centres, however, it should not be so limited. Blockchain is starting to be used in other markets, including the insurance one, where experts have predicted, that due to changes like a decrease in human error and protection from fraud and hackers, the annual global blockchain market in insurance will grow to more than $1billion. 

When looking at blockchain, the technology has advanced to a point where it, to some extent, no longer adheres to its original purpose, as many enterprises are using private blockchains to store data. Blockchain was originally introduced to decentralise data storage so that it could not be owned, controlled or manipulated by a central actor. Private blockchains however go against this as one can control who is allowed on the blockchain. As the insurance industry looks to meet its expanding digital challenges, Jonas Lundqvist, CEO of Haidrun, looks at the role of private blockchain to deliver secure automated solutions:

Jonas Lundqvist, CEO of HaidrunJonas Lundqvist, CEO of Haidrun
Jonas Lundqvist, CEO of Haidrun

Mention blockchain and most people think of cryptocurrencies, mining and large power-hungry data centres. But a new generation of private blockchains is emerging that is helping to drive digital transformation in the insurance industry. Private blockchain is already being used to automate claims functions and payments in a more secure and transparent way, for example, reducing costs, saving time and ensuring compliance. Global analysts and research companies are predicting rapid adoption and urging the insurance industry to invest in the long-term benefits of blockchain technology. Consulting group Accenture predicts that as soon as 2023 the annual global blockchain market in insurance will grow to more than $1billion.

Blockchain is essentially a digital system of recording information that is impossible, or at least extremely difficult, to alter, cheat or hack, and it is already changing digital world concepts such as ownership, privacy, uncertainty and collaboration. It is disrupting sectors as differentiated as financial markets, content distribution, supply chain management, telecoms, distribution of humanitarian aid and even the way we vote in elections.

As a business of detailed, confidential data collection, insurance is an industry of risk management, contract execution and third-party payments. As with all fintech sectors, its main areas of potential weakness are error and exposure to compromise and fraud. Validated information is the cornerstone, while trust is the core of the credibility and functioning of the digital ecosystem. This is where private enterprise blockchain enters the frame, providing a platform for the insurance industry to deliver security, trust, transparency and accuracy. Given that market analysts estimate that today anywhere between 5-10% of all insurance claims are fraudulent, there has never been a stronger case for ensuring that the storage and handling of data is more secure than ever.

Blockchain and the data security it brings with it creates an effective response for insurance companies facing ever-increasing compliance and mature markets with more competitors. The common factors in all these aspects are the huge amounts of data involved, coupled with a rapidly expanding number of connected devices capturing real-time information. To compete effectively with market disruptors and deliver competitive products and services, organisations must have visibility and trust in their data. This means that the path to digital transformation has left many insurers wondering how to streamline processes, improve the security of sensitive information and reduce costs.

Private blockchain platforms simplify the process, making it more secure, transparent and efficient, eliminating suspicious and duplicate transactions by securely and chronologically logging each transaction. Once verified, using an advanced consensus algorithm, and then cryptographically sealed into data blocks, the transaction is set in stone or ‘immutable’. The user can then verify the authenticity of customers, policies and transactions by providing accurate, secure and transparent historical records.

Apart from the area of immutable data, early-adopter insurance companies are also using blockchain in other applications such as smart contracts and re-insurance. Enterprise blockchains can store business logic in dedicated smart contracts. They connect real-time information from multiple systems, physical documents and activities, which can then trigger claims, payments and reimbursements faster and with greater accuracy. Precise reserve calculations based on current contracts provide insight into how much money is available as claims are paid. Private enterprise blockchains provide a secure, decentralised database, while overall control remains with authorised personnel. This delivers highly accurate data to help re-insure and rebalance exposures against specific risks and in tandem with AI, can be used for predictive risk modelling to provide a far greater degree of surety.

Public v private blockchain

Although the mechanics of blockchain are extremely complex, the concept is straightforward enough: to decentralise data storage so that it cannot be owned, controlled or manipulated by a central actor. Blockchains come in three flavours – private, public and hybrid – but it is private blockchain that is gaining traction in the commercial enterprise markets such as the insurance sector. This is because, unlike public blockchains where anyone can join, private blockchain is a type of database where a single authority or organisation ultimately retains control. And although this raises the question as to whether private blockchains are aligned to the original core concepts of the technology, this is of less importance than the fact that blockchain technology delivers a distributed database that provides a single time-stamped version of the truth.

Complex mathematical and cryptographical techniques provide trust and security – rather than through third parties, while an accessible and open user structure provides the transparency and validation. While private blockchains adhere to the original principles of blockchain and offer all the distributed benefits, they retain some of the characteristics of more centralised, controlled networks. This provides a level of control to improve privacy and eliminate many of the illicit activities often associated with public blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

No one can enter this type of blockchain without proper authentication. Private blockchains are, by definition, ‘permissioned’ and are more suited to enterprises due to factors such as performance, accountability and cost. The private blockchain platform can be run and operated by the enterprise or as a service called Blockchain as a Service (BaaS). They are usually set up for reasons of privacy, where it does not suit an enterprise to allow every participant full access to the entire contents of the database. Private blockchain platforms focus on organisations in which the blockchain empowers and supports the business rather than the individual users.

In contrast, public blockchains are fully decentralised where, in addition to the distributed database, there is also no single entity in overall control. They typically involve their own cryptocurrency to pay for the transactions and anyone can download the software, view the ledger and interact with the blockchain. Public blockchains attempt to preserve an individual user’s anonymity and treat all users equally. Hybrid blockchains, as the name suggests, are a mixture of the two, with one foot in each of the public and private camps.

When it comes to safeguarding a company’s sensitive information, using private blockchains is the preferred option for many enterprises, especially as they will also need to demonstrate full accountability – often via external audits – on the running and operation of their systems. Private blockchains provide a higher degree of regulation, determined and set by the administrators in line with industry regulatory codes. Importantly, private blockchains do not need to use cryptocurrencies or native tokens to run the network, and any association with cryptocurrencies, good or bad, is not part of the private solution. All of which means that less energy, fewer resources and fewer participants are required to run the private blockchain, resulting in a faster platform with less cost on a far more predictable scale.