The Future of Banking To Be Driven by Artificial Intelligence; New Report States

Artificial intelligence is set to deliver personalised experiences and reshape the world of banking; according to a new report.

The ‘Bank of the Future’ whitepaper, published by Mambu and Google Cloud, identifies ‘ubiquitous banking’ as the next frontier in the digital financial revolution, and reveals three building blocks that will enable the future of banking:

  • Customer-centric strategy – products and services built around the customer for the customer, embedding AI technology to hyper-personalise the user experience
  • Value-based AI use cases – applications anchored on business value (revenue growth, cost saving or risk reduction) and customer value (customer experience or time to market)
  • Composable technology architecture – flexible, cloud-based core banking software that enables true “plug and play” functionality to respond to changing customer needs, market dynamics or technology trends

Driving this change is a combination of disruptive forces in the market. The report shows that the pandemic has increased consumer demand for constant, personalised digital and mobile-first financial services. Unlike 20 years ago, traditional banks are no longer the go-to for those looking to move or manage their money.

With better access to cloud services and increasing competition from a new wave of fintechs and non-traditional players, incumbent banks are under threat as consumers turn to neo banks and digital challengers in search of a better customer experience and utility-led services.

The report points to changing regulation, such as the introduction of open banking and PSD2, as forces accelerating the disintermediation of traditional banking providers. With dedicated regulation now emerging for fintechs and digital banks in some jurisdictions, it’s a case of adapt or die for incumbent players.

But banks have one asset on their side – data. With around a billion credit card transactions every day, banks have access to one of the largest volumes of customer data of any industry. Using AI, banks can harness this information to unlock unparalleled insights and growth.

It’s estimated that AI technologies could deliver up to $1 trillion of additional value each year for the global banking industry, combining a deep understanding of customer needs with the composable cloud architecture to roll out hyper-personalised services at scale.

Eugene Danilkis, CEO, MambuEugene Danilkis, CEO, Mambu
Eugene Danilkis, CEO, Mambu

Eugene Danilkis, CEO at Mambu, comments: “The report shows the world that banks were originally created to serve no longer exists. Historically built to last, today banks need to be built to change. If traditional players want to reposition themselves as lifestyle partners, in tune with the modern banking needs of their customers, then they must evolve rapidly – and without fear.

“Key to this will be their embrace of AI technology which has broad-ranging applications from fraud prevention and risk management to delivering personalised customer experiences and driving efficiencies through greater automation. But banks must act fast if they want to avoid getting left behind. Only by leveraging the capabilities of AI and cloud technologies will they be able to reimagine the customer experience and tap into new revenue streams in a competitive market.”

Joachim Wuest, Director, Financial Services Industry, Google CloudJoachim Wuest, Director, Financial Services Industry, Google Cloud
Joachim Wuest, Director, Financial Services Industry, Google Cloud

“As the financial services industry continues to digitally transform, there is an increased need for solutions that help businesses deliver personalised experiences to customers,” added Joachim Wuest, Director, Financial Services Industry, Google Cloud. “We look forward to partnering with groups like Mambu to bring AI-powered solutions to banking organisations as they move along their digital transformation journeys.”

  • 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.

Overview of Key Fintech Hubs Across the Middle East and Africa

What are key fintech hubs across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region?

This year The Fintech Times produced a report called Fintech: Middle East and Africa 2021 Report. A first ever, I had the privilege to main author it and concepualise the idea behind releasing a report.

The following is an except of the findings of the report after analysing 22 countries in the MEA region through three themes – wider economic development indicators, tech indicators and fintech-specific:

What were the 22 countries analysed in the MEA region? They were the following:

  • Middle East and Turkey (Middle East and North Africa and Turkey): Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Africa: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda

The scoring mechanism used to categorise visible fintech countries in MEA appears to endorse previous considerations. What has been helpful through this process, in particular for those not familiar at all with MEA’s fintech space, is the opportunity to provide an overview of the key player hubs in the region by categorising them into three tiers. In addition, in line with previous research studies and reports – including Middle East and North Africa (MENA) only or with Africa – a comprehensive MEA-wide analysis seems to align for the most part. 

22 countries were analysed at the recent 2021 Fintech Times MEA report main authored by Richie Santosdiaz IMAGE SOURCE THE FINTECH TIMES

The following will reflect each of those categories as they were put in a three-tier system (tier 1 called “Premier”, tier 2 called “Emerging” and tier 3 called “Early Stage.” The following further descibes each one as taken from the report: 



In the methodology for the validation research, the two countries with the overall economic development, digital and wider tech and fintech-specific categories scored a 7 or higher. 

So, what exactly determines a premier global category? 

It is not surprising that both nations have received this distinction. From an economic development aspect, both countries are highly-developed, as seen from high GDP per capitas all the way to high HDI indices. With respect to tech and digital as a whole, both nations are highly advanced in terms of digital infrastructure and also wider tech ecosystem. For Israel, its Startup Nation nickname showcases that. The UAE’s aspirations from its leaders have cascaded down to create an economy that has developed so fast in a short amount of time. This is clear with Dubai as well as Abu Dhabi. Particularly with the former; the city with its humble roots as a small fishing village has established itself not only as a regional hub in MEA but even a global hub contender. The growth of Dubai International Airport to be the world’s busiest international and Dubai being the number one city for regional MEA operations, of the top 500 companies globally for the two-thirds that have offices in MEA, 138 of them have established that in Dubai (beating runner up Johannesburg which had shy of 60). 

With respect to fintech, both countries for the most part demonstrate their strengths. In the context of Israel, much of the data suggests that much of the strengths it has in the sector appear to be driven organically. It is the country in MEA, despite its size, with the most number of fintechs (as well as tech companies). In the UAE the strengths appear both with strong government support as well as organically. With the former, various national and Emirate-specific strategies highlight ambitions – such as aiming to be a leading global smartcity and blockchain and wider digital leader to name a few. The country has the region’s second largest number of fintechs as well as tech companies. Similar to its standing for MEA operations, in terms of MENA half of the fintech companies in the region are also in Dubai specifically. 

The commitment to grow the wider financial services and economic ecosystem, where fintech plays a strong part of, can be seem visibly with the UAE’s two leading financial centres – Dubai’s Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi’s Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM). DIFC is the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region with a vision to drive the future of finance. It is in fact the only one from MEASA in the world’s top 10 leading financial centres, ranking in at eighth place, joining other financial hubs, such as London, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York City, according to the Global Financial Centre’s Index. It is also home to DIFC FinTech Hive, a major fintech accelerator. DIFC is home to more than 50 per cent of fintech businesses in the GCC.

In terms of Israel, despite not only having the most number of both startups and fintechs in MEA, it has produced innovations that MEA (outside of its region) is still at its infancy. In other words, the Israelis have produced fintech solutions and innovations that have reached globally – companies, such as unicorns Payoneer, Rapyd, Lemonade, Fiverr and eToro, have Israeli roots. The country in the wider fintech ecosystem that encompasses the likes of cybersecurity and AI also show strong Israeli innovation. Due to the size of the country, political issues and other factors, the country has historically had to look abroad and ahead. This is why, in this context fintech and wider tech, they lead not only in MEA but are key players on a global stage. 


High Emerging: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Turkey (Scores of 5-6.99)

Middle Emerging: Qatar, South Africa, Nigeria, Kuwait, Mauritius, Egypt, Jordan (Scores of 4-4.99)

Early Emerging: Early Emerging: Kenya, Oman, Tunisia, Lebanon, Ghana (Scores of 3-3.99)

The Emerging Fintech Hubs category consists of all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations (minus the UAE), the four large African nations of Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa and the small island nation of Mauritius as well as Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia and Lebanon. It is worth noting that in particular, the countries of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, South Africa and Turkey scored in the top half (scores from 5.5-6.9 – Saudi Arabia scoring the highest with Bahrain in second). The following countries that scored as emerging did so for similar themes among all of them.

For an economic development perspective, all the countries here are different in terms of their economies. However, what separated them from early-stage economies are that all the emerging fintech hub countries are either at least middle-income countries or high-income economies. It would be difficult to create an ecosystem for fintech if the wider economic development environment was not at least fairly established.

This has been reflected on their gross domestic products (GDPs) as well as various levels of other indicators used to confirm that. Some of that includes the Human Development Index (HDI) index, where all of them had fairly high scores. Another point to address with the emerging countries has been the size of some of them – particularly with countries like Nigeria whose population is 200 million people and Egypt with 100 million. Their large populations, despite it, overall put their economies at least relatively more developed compared to their other African counterparts. For the countries here that are small in terms of their size and population, notably Bahrain and Mauritius, the economic development indicators still show their strengths (high GDPs per capita – Mauritius has highlighted is one of the highest in Africa). The two countries, as seen later with the tech and digital and fintech-specific, despite their small sizes do possess strong ecosystems. 

From a digital and wider tech point of view, each of the countries in this category show a reflection of their economic development advancements. For instance, often referenced together as the four in Africa from various research including that as well of The Fintech Times – Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, their strong showing here compared to their other fellow neighbours is evident. The four of them collectively have 85 per cent of Africa’s total fintech investments in 2019 and 82 per cent last year. Ghana also made the emerging category as well in this research. 

With respect to the GCC members, their advanced economies and relatively growing tech and wider digital ecosystems justify their showing based on the research’s findings. For instance, Qatar is one of the world’s richest countries and this has allowed them to be able to build a growing tech, digital and fintech ecosystem. This is evident with their growing Qatar Fintech Hub and other infrastructure to foster it. 

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which scored the highest here in the emerging category, is also an example of how their aspirations and advanced economies is being reflected in wider tech and fintech specifically. Being the largest economy in the GCC, the 35 million people population is undergoing massive economic development reforms and their indicators – from VC funding to even the number of fintechs – shows that.

With Bahrain, the country received the second highest score in the emerging category and it is worth noting their initiatives and aspirations. They were the first in the region to have an onshore regulatory sandbox as well as rules on open banking. In addition, being the first country to diversify their economy in the GCC has been adopted through their own strategies in the GCC. The region’s historic reliance of oil is no longer being felt and tech and fintech are key ways to change that.

To note – Turkey – with its large young and educated population and strong financial services hub of Istanbul also showcases why the country also is considered an emerging fintech hub. 

In summary, the emerging fintech hubs category have all demonstrated some of the key following characteristics based on the research’s findings:

-Advanced or relatively advanced economies based on a wide range of economic indicators such as GDP and HDI

-Their wider tech scene may not be as advanced as the leaders in MEA (the premier categories – Israel and the UAE) but there are clear advancements via evident deals around tech – VC deals and the number of tech startups

-There is either a strong or in development fintech infrastructure such as with regulatory sandboxes in the respective country 

-There is a sizeable number of fintechs (both as a total but divided by its population) as well as a startup scene and wider entrepreneurial activity

With Lebanon, the country that scored the lowest in the emerging category, the economy has been a historical financial hub in the Middle East region. The challenge is that the country is experiencing various economic and political challenges that, had this study been done in the past, the country most likely would have ranked higher in the study. Therefore, the result is assumed on would most likely decline from its past. For it to score better in the future in this study and maintain its emerging status it will need to see wider economic recovery, both with its challenge pre-and during COVID-19. 


Early-Stage ‘ones to watch – top scorers’ (Tier-three): Rwanda, Morocco and Uganda (all scored at least between 2-2.99)

Early-Stage (rest of MEA) Examples include: Senegal and Tanzania (countries in the study that had scores from 0-1.99)

For this report as highlighted a sample of 22 countries were chosen via the prefilteration. Within the 22 countries, those that did not make the premier and emerging market ranking would be considered early stage fintech hubs. Also, those countries that did not make the prefilteration list, which are the majority of MEA countries, would also be early-stage fintech hubs. 

The criteria used for this MEA report guide highlighted the importance of economic development, digital and wider tech and fintech-specific indicators. It is clear that the countries sampled that did not make the list of premier nor emerging (Uganda, Senegal, Tanzania, Rwanda, Morocco) do have the potential to do so one day. The countries were chosen based on previous data in terms of their activities in fintech. However, the findings of the research did show that the emerging and premier were decided based on the scoring mechanism that those in the early stage category did not make at this time. 

For those countries that were not selected in the sample of 22, as mentioned, they would also fall in the early-stage category, albeit most likely at lower scores than the ones highlighted here. 

Based on coverage from the launch of the new MEA section of The Fintech Times coupled with the research and information out in public, the countries highlighted that fell in the early-stage category have overall shown growth, interest and various degrees of commitment in growing their sectors. 

For the novice in MEA, as well as those who are more familiar with the market, when presented with summarising it is clear that the economies in Africa (combination as seen from their sizes, relatively more advanced economic development and ecosystems in fintech) of Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Egypt made the emerging category. The only exception from the study were Tunisia and Mauritius, which the ladder despite its size is one of the richest African countries based on GDP per capita highlighted earlier in the report.  


The countries highlighted should be commended for the work they have done in the general short time fintech has become a growing sector. For instance, the countries that scored in the higher end (2.0 to 2.99) were Rwanda, Morocco and Uganda. 

Rwanda has made significant steps in boosting fintech and wider economic development, remarketing with Rwanda who many might forget had suffered its own economic and political challenges. Therefore it is remarkable to see the economy transform to be known as the ‘Singapore of Africa’. Despite both economies being much smaller than their neighbours, such as Nigeria or Kenya, their commitment to fintech and wider digital will most likely see a stronger showing for any future research done here, where its entry as an emerging hub will be a matter of not if but when. In addition, Morocco and Uganda also have a growing fintech ecosystem as well and have that opportunity to grow into emerging soon. 

In summary, the section summarises based on its own research with available data from the public through its ranking based on wider economic development, digital and wider tech, and fintech-specific indicators that there are clear hubs in MEA for fintech. From the novice to the more knowledgeable of the region, the research is noting new but gives the reader a guide of the key hubs based on relevant data and filteration that incorporates elements of work previously done but putting it into a wider economic development context. 

Economic development and diversification has played such a huge role and that could not be more clearer than in MEA. Whether it be through wider government strategies, such as in the GCC and in parts of Africa, to more organic growth such as in Israel, this report guide highlights that the fintech activity seen today is a direct and indirect consequence of the wider economy. 

Therefore, in terms of premier fintech hubs in the region those would be both Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

In terms of emerging fintech hubs they would be Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya). 

The rest of MEA would be early-stage fintech hubs but key ones to watch would be Ghana, Rwanda and Lebanon. 

To read the full report click here.

  • Head of Middle East and Africa (MEA) | Contributor

  • 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.

Cash Industry Focuses on Environmental Sustainability as Cash Usage Grows Despite Digital Adoption

To coincide with the international climate change conference COP 26, meeting in Glasgow in November, Reconnaissance, the business intelligence consultancy, has produced a report titled ‘Cash: Roadmap to Sustainability’. The report highlights the strides that are being made by the global cash industry in reducing its carbon footprint and securing a sustainable future for cash whilst challenging some of the myths and misconceptions about the industry.

The huge energy consumption needed for cryptocurrency is already well documented across the web, as the report further challenges any idea that digital payments are a low carbon impact alternative to cash. It also reveals an industry that has dramatically changed and is heavily investing to reduce its impact on the environment; looking at the impact of cash in terms of carbon, resources used and pollution.

A fact it highlights is that while paying cash for a 40g bar of milk chocolate uses approximately 4.6g of CO2e (ie. carbon dioxide equivalent), the CO2e involved in the production of that bar of chocolate is 200g.

The UK is well positioned globally and has already taken a lead by launching the first ever Cash Industry Environment Charter to deliver a sustainable future for cash and tackle its impact on the climate.

Irrespective of the move towards digital payments around the world, cash remains a key pillar in the payments eco-system; every person on the planet uses cash and most of the world’s population depends on it with its usage growing daily. In this context the report is an important record of the progress made to ensure cash is environmentally sustainable, says author John Winchcombe.

Some 24 organisations have contributed 106 case studies on changes that they have made to reduce their environmental impact and the results that have been achieved.

John Winchcombe says: “This document shares best practice with the global cash industry of what is possible, demonstrating that industries are listening, acting and making a real difference. Change is happening.

“Unusually, this is an industry that is changing through choice. There is little actual customer demand or government legislation at this stage forcing them to change. There is a genuine momentum across the cash industry to be a good citizen.”

He highlighted that every contributor to the report demonstrated an awareness of the need to act responsibly and show hard evidence of change and improvements they are making.

An analysis of the different projects undertaken across the cash cycle that the report covers reveals 10 organisations that are sourcing 100% renewable energy; and seven organisations that have invested in solar, hydro, wind and tidal power. All cash in transit companies have invested in telematics to reduce fossil fuel usage and the same companies have started trials with electric or hybrid vehicles.

Renewable energy sourcesRenewable energy sources
Renewable energy sources

Some projects and examples range from the simple change to LED lighting, to the more complex, changing from single use plastic seals to cloth bags, to those based on major capital equipment and investment decisions.

Winchcombe added: “There is no greenwashing here. All the contributors to this report are taking action and devoting time and resources and investing to do better. The cash industry is taking a strong lead, not just in the UK but other parts of the world. More can be done, and more is planned. The industry is on a journey and has mapped out a sustainable future.”

Cash is physical and therefore visible, he explained, adding that the alternative digital payments are not, and therefore assumed to be low impact. However, Winchcombe challenges this assertion: “While the carbon footprint of digital payments is hard to quantify, it does require substantial hardware, software and considerable energy consumption for payment data processing, data management and communications.”

He added: “As the number of digital transactions rises, particularly those made using mobile devices and digital wallets, at the absolute rather than the per transaction level the digital impact is increasing very significantly.”

Astrid Mitchell, CEO of Reconnaissance, said: “This is an important report in the context of where currency and coins are in society and the environment. Coins and notes offer choice, freedom and financial inclusion for billions of people across the world. But equally the future for payments is rapidly evolving. Above all, cash needs to be relevant, accessible, cost-effective, secure and increasingly low carbon in terms of production and circulation. This report puts a marker down to show the progress made and to be able to measure future strides that the industry is committed to taking.”

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

Flutterwave Establishes Two New Payment Corridors Between Europe and Africa via Stellar

The paytech company Flutterwave has utilised the Stellar Development Foundation‘s (SDF) network to open up two new remittance corridors between Europe and Africa. 

Working in collaboration with TEMPO, Flutterwave is simplifying remittance services in Africa through leveraging the Stellar network and the Stellar USD Coin.

The establishing of these new payment corridors is set to greatly benefit businesses that are focused on building more efficient, cost-effective remittance services. On a wider scale, the payment corridors are also predicted to facilitate a stronger, more inclusive Pan-African digital payments infrastructure.

Connecting Stellar-based businesses like Flutterwave and TEMPO — with themselves accommodating a significant user base in Africa — creates an efficient and affordable Pan-African payments infrastructure, supporting the Stellar Development Foundation’s overarching mission to create equitable access to the global financial system.

With these payment rails now in place, Stellar has been able to demonstrate the practicality of a viable digital alternative to traditionally lengthy and expensive methods of sending remittances.

It’s reported that Flutterwave is planning to extend Stellar-based capabilities to additional African countries as it continues to grow the number of currencies it supports.

Olugbenga Agboola, CEO, FlutterwaveOlugbenga Agboola, CEO, Flutterwave
Olugbenga Agboola, CEO, Flutterwave

“It is more expensive to send money to sub-Saharan Africa than to any other region in the world,” said Olugbenga Agboola, CEO at Flutterwave. “Our new payment corridors on Stellar will allow us to continue expanding the Flutterwave network to bring all-important, cost-effective money transfer services to African business owners.”

TEMPO’s CEO Suren Ayriyan added: “We’re excited to partner with Flutterwave to extend our service ecosystem into Africa using Stellar rails. Customers across Europe will be able to send funds faster and at a lower cost to support their families and conduct business in Africa, landing funds right into their local bank account. We hope to continue working with Stellar anchors to exponentially increase our currency corridors and offerings, providing cheap, secure and fast global money transfers to all TEMPO customers, both existing and new.”

Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director, SDFDenelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director, SDF
Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director, SDF

Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation comments: “This partnership marks a further step in our efforts to harness the power of technology to make financial services more inclusive and affordable for underbanked individuals worldwide. Flutterwave is doing important work in a region that has been historically underserved, and SDF is committed to helping them create a tangible impact on financial access and inclusion across the African continent and beyond.”

  • 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.

Where are the Women? Banks are Failing to Reach the Most Lucrative Demographic

In the financial world, women are in the minority and, in order to attract and support female customers, financial institutions have got to tackle this gender disparity within their organisations and their industry. 

Dulcie Omunubi, Director of Consulting at ENGINE discusses how banks are failing to reach women, and how to change it.

Dulcie Omunubi, Director of Consulting at ENGINEDulcie Omunubi, Director of Consulting at ENGINE
Dulcie Omunubi, Director of Consulting at ENGINE

Every bank and financial institution should be asking themselves this simple question: “Where are the women?” That’s the sage view of Olga Miler, the co-founder of SmartPurse, a female-focused money coaching platform. 

A new survey from CNBC and Acorn reveals a major gender gap when it comes to investment. Not only do twice as many men invest in cryptocurrency, but there is also gender disparity across investment products such as exchange-traded funds, owned by 14% of men compared with 7% of women, individual stocks (40% of men compared with 24% of women), and mutual funds (30% of men and 20% of women).

Women lag behind because banks and financial companies are not making it a strategic priority to attract, support and empower female investors. As women are expected to own over 60% of the UK’s overall wealth by 2025, this means banks are failing to engage the most lucrative demographic out there.

In a webinar I hosted on women and wealth, Olga Miller and Emilie Bellet, CEO of Vestpod, a financial education platform for women, shared their advice for financial institutions wanting to improve their approach. Here are their top tips:

Educate and empower female customers and your workforce

Both Emilie and Olga have observed that a surprisingly high number of staff within banks and financial intuitions lack knowledge and even access to training and education when it comes to personal finance. Putting all your workforce through basic training on financial management will enable them to communicate more effectively with customers, rely less on jargon, be more transparent –  and become advocates for change within your organisation and on social media. Clearer, more effective communication from your teams will help engage female customers and, crucially, boost trust.

In Emilie’s view, banks don’t necessarily have to change or ‘pink-wash’ their existing financial products in order to make them more appealing to women; they just need to improve their communications around these products, and make them more transparent and accessible. To give women more confidence to invest, she advises offering tailored money coaching and financial education. Building a community of women that can support and encourage each other is also extremely beneficial. “Try to create an environment that’s more supportive of women and where women can open up,” says Emilie. “Putting women in the same room is very powerful.”

Invest time in data analysis 

Many financial institutions falsely assume they don’t have the right data to support and target female investors. Olga Miller, who is also the architect of UBS Wealth Management’s change programme for women, says that with the wealth of customer data now available, along with the myriad research studies out there on female investment, banks can no longer use lack of data as an excuse. “You don’t need a perfect data set – just taking a look at your client base is a healthy exercise,” she says. “You have the data, you just need to put the time in there to analyse it.”

Money is personal: listen to your customer and understand their values

Women tend to have different financial needs and goals to men. Female investors often have a more holistic approach, a more long-term focus and they lean more towards ethical investments. A recent RBC Wealth Management study found that its female clients are almost twice as likely as men to say it is important that the companies they invest in integrating ESG factors into their policies and decisions and more likely to prioritise ESG impact when considering what companies or funds to invest in. When it comes to financial advice and support, banks must listen to their customers and show they understand their lives and values. “Money is an incredibly human thing,” says Olga, “It has a lot more to do with emotions than performance figures.”

 Make women a strategic priority in your business 

If women are not a key strategic focus for financial brands, efforts to target them will fail in the long-term as decision-makers within the organisation move on and budgets change. “One of the biggest challenges is that women are not dealt with as a management propriety,” says Olga. Prioritising women is good for business overall because of the many parallels between women’s needs and those of other demographics, such as the younger generation, who also tend to opt for ethical investments. Olga says: “Improving your customer experience for women will help you to improve it for everybody.”

  • 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.

Women in Fintech: Zilch, Monneo, Yooz, Celo, Sapphire Ventures, Cake DeFi, Episode Six

This October at The Fintech Times we are championing the fantastic females in the fintech industry. Around 30% of the fintech workforce are women, and we want to spotlight those who have not only made it to the top, but those who have overcome hurdles, bulldozing a path for the women to follow.

Here we hear from Chermaine Hu, Annalise Dragic, Bettina Hosp, Angélica Valle, Nimia Amaya, Lili Metodieva and Amabel Polglase as they share their advice on managing financial goals and personal expectations. 

Chermaine Hu, CFO and Co-founder at Episode Six

Chermaine Hu, CFO and Co-founder at Episode SixChermaine Hu, CFO and Co-founder at Episode Six
Chermaine Hu, CFO and Co-founder at Episode Six

“Although I started my career in investment banking, long before I really learned anything about the stock markets and investments, my parents instilled in me the importance of creating financial stability by owning my own home. Climbing the ‘property ladder’ was therefore my first real personal financial goal. On the day I received my first paycheck, I created a spreadsheet where I tracked all my expenses down to the cent. I was able to know exactly what I was spending money on, where I could save, how big of a mortgage I could afford and when I would have enough money for the down payment for my apartment.

“With that laser focus, I was able to buy my dream apartment three years out of university in the UK. The funny thing was, I had to really stretch to buy the dream apartment I wanted and while I could afford the apartment, I could not afford to buy all the furniture right away; so for months I had just one bed in the whole place but I was so happy walking around in my empty apartment which I had worked so hard towards. I did buy a table a few months later and a couch a few months after then! To this day, I still use the same spreadsheet to track all my expenses. It serves as a good reminder to me of the importance of setting ambitious goals and being disciplined in striving towards them.

“What I didn’t fully appreciate until later on is that the financial stability my parents encouraged me to build for myself also provided me with optionality in my personal and professional life. Without that foundation, I most probably would not have had the freedom to choose to live in and experience so many great cities in the US and the UK and definitely would not have had the courage and ability to start our own company with my two partners. All said, my advice is to be grounded while aiming high and staying focused and disciplined.”

Annalise Dragic, Principal, Sapphire Ventures

Annalise Dragic, Principal, Sapphire VenturesAnnalise Dragic, Principal, Sapphire Ventures
Annalise Dragic, Principal, Sapphire Ventures

“Advice on managing financial goals and personal expectations – examples would be great, e.g. how you’ve juggled care issues or a lack of education (400 words)

“There are a couple of points to consider here. Firstly, I think women should realise that the gender pay gap is real. And it’s something I think companies and software included are constantly aware of and trying to make sure that it doesn’t exist.

“But I think part of it, for women, is the fact that that still exists today. And so to be more proactive for yourself about how you think about addressing that with your current employer or potential employer, I think there’s a lot of research, and even learned about this when I was getting my MBA at Stanford, that in terms of negotiation, that there are differences in how men and women approach this.

“And so I encourage women, both friends and peers, to be really prepared when going into those conversations. So to do your homework around certain benchmarks, and even if you’re currently in a role, to understand what your market value is; I think all of that is very important.

“I haven’t reached the stage in my personal life yet where I’ve become a mother. I hope to be one day, but advice and support is definitely something that I seek out from others. And I feel quite fortunate that the women whom I consider to be mentors of mine are quite open in terms of both the challenges that they face, but also the positive aspects involved in this concept of balance, personal and professional, have helped them in their careers as well.”

Bettina Hosp, VP, Operations of Cake DeFi

Cake DeFiCake DeFi
Bettina Hosp, VP, Operations of Cake DeFi

“The most important advice I can offer is for you to set an overall target and smaller goals that will help you get there. These goals will act as milestones, and with every successful milestone you achieve, you need to celebrate as it brings you one step closer to your target. Don’t worry too much if your goals or even your main target changes, it’s just as important to celebrate the milestones you achieve and to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate them on your journey to make sure they are still relevant to you.

“The other key piece of advice that I can offer is to block out the white noise. At some point in your career, you’ll encounter unnecessary obstacles and distractions that could potentially throw you off your path. Don’t let these obstacles get the better of you. It’s very easy to lose track of your goals but as long as you can stay focussed and are determined to reach your target, anything is possible.”

Angélica Valle, Mexican Ecosystem Lead at Celo

Angélica Valle, Mexican Ecosystem Lead at CeloAngélica Valle, Mexican Ecosystem Lead at Celo
Angélica Valle, Mexican Ecosystem Lead at Celo

“The world of finance and technology seems to be for men, with low representation of women, therefore I invite all women to explore and attend financial/technology forums or webinars, raise your voice, ask questions and do research. Meet the founders and learn about their backgrounds to find out about the projects and how legit they are before trying the financial services. Most webinars are free, and I also suggest looking for reputable channels or academies on YouTube to educate yourselves on new and reliable platforms.

“Never be afraid to ask. In my experience, the best questions and understandings come from women who want to know the details thoroughly in terms of money and the best way to get the most out of it.”

Nimia Amaya, Senior Marketing Director, Americas at Yooz USA

Nimia Amaya, Senior Marketing Director, Americas at Yooz USANimia Amaya, Senior Marketing Director, Americas at Yooz USA
Nimia Amaya, Senior Marketing Director, Americas at Yooz USA

“I’m a single mom, a Latina, first-generation immigrant and first-generation college student. My path to success, which is an ongoing process, has been anything but easy. 

“My advice is basic and straightforward: don’t be afraid to change your life. I was 25 years old when I became a single mom, and I thought the whole world was against me, but then soon learned to shift my perspective. I had no choice but to accept my circumstances. 

“I was six months pregnant with a college degree and a lot of drive. I knew I could do this. As I prepared for my first job interview, I was nervous. I was obviously pregnant, and after doing my research, I decided to go for it anyway. To my surprise and delight, I got the job and we even discussed maternity leave. I stayed at that job for four years and was so grateful. While that job wasn’t in Fintech, it showed me that there are companies out there willing to take a chance on you if you show up prepared, with confidence and the desire to work hard. 

“You can change your life and that includes your career. A lot of times as women, and there are studies about this, we don’t apply for jobs because we don’t think we meet all the qualifications, we’ve been out of the workforce due to parenting or other similar circumstances, or we simply feel unqualified. The reality is you are capable. Apply for that job but prepare yourself for it. Do your research, tailor your skills, explain your situation and show that hunger. 

“My career in Fintech started because someone decided to take a chance on me even though I didn’t have years of experience in the field. I came to the interview prepared and created a personal presentation to help me study for it. In the end, the company asked to see it, and they loved it, which only helped my case even more, and guess what… I got the job! 

“I’m still working at this company, and it has led to a world of opportunities. I’m happy to be a working mom and show my daughter that she can do anything and to hopefully inspire other women to apply for that job, ask for the promotion, ask for maternity leave without fear and always stay hungry for more. “

Lili Metodieva, MD at Monneo.

Lili Metodieva, MD at Monneo.Lili Metodieva, MD at Monneo.
Lili Metodieva, MD at Monneo.

“Being the MD of the fast-growing fintech company, Monneo, I have learned so much over the years. My journey to being in this position, having gained so much management experience in my professional life, has undoubtedly had an impact on my personal life, mostly positive I might add! I am incredibly financially aware and strategic in order to be able to create a self-sufficient and sustainable business, and this definitely spills over into my personal life. 

“When working towards a goal you need to be sure you know exactly what it is you are working towards and where you want your business to be. Once this vision has been put in place, it is much simpler to create the mission. Planning is key – as long as you can try and plan ahead and have support to help when you need it most, then you’ll manage. This works in both business and personal life and the more planning and preparation you do, the simpler the activity will be.

“As a mother, like many busy working mums, you’ll find life often feels like a constant juggle and you want to give your best to your work, but you always want to give your best to your family too and be the best parent you can possibly be. 

“I’m sure I speak on behalf of the whole population when I say creating a viable work-life balance can be extremely challenging. We spend a lot of our time at work, and it is important not to neglect your personal and family life in the process, so getting the balance is crucial for long term happiness and success.  

“It is also important to learn to adapt to changing expectations and environments. Adaptability can be a great strength to have, and one that will lead you to success.

“When managing personal expectations, it is essential to take a step back, digest all the work you have done and acknowledge your achievements. If we don’t celebrate the wins, it will be harder to learn from the losses. This is an important message that we implement at Monneo, and we believe the successes shared are worth more than those celebrated alone.”

Amabel Polglase, Chief Marketing Officer at Zilch

Amabel Polglase, Chief Marketing Officer at ZilchAmabel Polglase, Chief Marketing Officer at Zilch
Amabel Polglase, Chief Marketing Officer at Zilch

“When I had my first child, the workplace wasn’t set up for mothers. The person sitting next to me chain-smoked throughout my pregnancy and I was told I couldn’t attend an overseas meeting for fear of being culturally insensitive and insulting the clients with my 6-month baby bump. Thankfully the world has moved on, but I learnt a few survival tips along the way:

“Park the guilt. If you don’t, it will eat you up. Rather than dwell on how I was missing out, I reminded myself that my career was benefitting the family in other ways. My children are older now and they thank me for the extra activities they got to do when they were little. Some of which seem to have sparked lifelong passions. 

“Dump perfection. It doesn’t exist. Pre-children I had perfectly manicured nails, regular blow dries and a pristine home. But as the house became a toddler zone, I came to realise that there were more important things in my life than a dust-free carpet. 

“Get a support network. I got involved with a Working Mothers social group, met up every couple of months, chatted about life and traded childcare tips. This was a godsend as I felt supported by like-minded people, two of whom have become my best friends.

“To Nanny or not to Nanny? I found childcare was the single most important decision I had to make as a working mother. I tried everything from nannies to nurseries to au pairs. At the end of the day, I found flexibility was key and as much as I liked the social element of nurseries, I couldn’t bear the stress of having a fixed pick-up time. 

“Finally, have fun along the way. Being stressed out isn’t productive. I made sure I made time for family holidays, long weekends and family fun. “

  • 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.

Ripple: Why Europe’s Fintech Regulatory Approach Is World-leading

Regulations are not a barrier to innovation but rather a groundwork to ensure future success. The regulation in European fintech surrounding emerging technologies like AI, crypto and blockchain can act as guidance for other regions to follow, as innovation has not been hindered. Instead, it has been guided in a certain way to ensure consumer trust.

Susan Friedman is the Head of Public Policy at Ripple where she engages policymakers worldwide to guide and advise on cryptocurrency and blockchain regulation. Prior to this, Friedman was the Senior Advisor to CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert in his previous capacity as Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for International Markets. In this role, she regularly advised and collaborated with Treasury officials on matters including international financial services regulation, investment security, and trade.

Friedman explains how regulations are the only way to ensure consumer trust, as without this trust, no one will use any innovations that are created:

Susan Friedman, Head of Public Policy, RippleSusan Friedman, Head of Public Policy, Ripple
Susan Friedman, Head of Public Policy, Ripple

As a global financial superpower, the US has often been the provider of regulatory blueprints that spur new innovation and investment. The growth of Silicon Valley is one example of how it has provided the right framework to allow technology to transform sectors like financial services, healthcare or FMCG. But, as with other leading financial states, it cannot afford to rest on its laurels.

In Europe, the fintech industry is on an unprecedented hot streak.  In the first half of 2021 alone, fintech investment in the region reached $39.1billion – and a number of established companies (such as Standard Chartered, Revolut and PayPal) have created dedicated strands of crypto activity. But in this success, the industry is almost unique. Just last month, the latest PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) survey, often seen as the bellwether of economic trends in the manufacturing and service sectors, found that growth in the region was slowing while inflationary pressures were on the rise – being impacted by lower manufacturing output and creaking supply chains.

So what is behind this growth in fintech at a time when other industries are stagnant, and what can other financial superpowers learn from its approach?

Nurturing growth

It would be an oversight to miss the link between increased regulatory activity in the fintech sector and the industry’s growth. In the last few years, European regulators and local market authorities have introduced a range of new guidance and regulations in the finance and fintech sectors. These have been designed to help fuel innovation and enshrine customer protections as the industry develops, and include landmark initiatives such as Open Banking in the UK and PSD2 and the Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation (MiCA) (which is still being debated) in the EU.

In many ways, it’s this active regulatory environment that encourages growth and has acted as a catalyst to the space by providing legal clarity to market participants. The result? A booming European fintech scene, underpinned by regulatory frameworks that enables increased competition, leading to lower prices for consumers, better quality services and greater innovation from financial institutions.

Regulation is not the antithesis of innovation

For any hyper-growth industry, it’s easy to conflate industry guidance and protections with attempts to curtail innovation. But regulation, traditionally seen as an impediment to growth and flourishing ideas, shouldn’t be viewed as the enemy. Just like in the US and elsewhere around the world, Europe has had its doubters. Tom Blomfield – founder of Monzo – encapsulated his frustration at the idea of intervention when he famously said that “positive innovation in Open Banking has been nil.” His words are emblematic of how many others feel in the industry.

But Europe’s regulatory environment is driving the fintech industry forwards and as we move into a future guided by emerging technologies like AI, crypto or blockchain, it is laying the groundwork for other global regulators to follow:

  1. European regulation is providing a framework for long-term innovation: As tech evolves and grows into the mainstream, regulatory oversight ensures long term growth and development. In turn, it also provides a framework within which we can continue to innovate, grow and drive lasting change. This is particularly evident in the FCA’s proposed ‘regulatory nursery’ – which is soon to go live and aims to give newly authorised UK fintechs additional support and guidance in their infancy while also promoting robust regulation in the sector. Additionally, UK fintechs now have the opportunity to participate year-round in the FCA sandbox, rather than on a cohort basis only.
  2. Putting its own stamp on best practice innovation and collaboration with the private sector: Innovation and collaboration with the private sector is an approach that has worked particularly well in the Asian fintech space. In Singapore, for instance, clear regulation and regular collaboration with the private sector has led to the growth and development of the digital asset ecosystem, including Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) innovation. A nurturing regulatory environment combined with industry engagement has created a strong ecosystem that is willing to collaborate to build better solutions, helping to push forward game-changing trials. The same approach has been taken with the UK’s Digital Pound Foundation, of which Ripple is a trusted supporter, as well as the Digital Euro Project, which the European Central Bank launched earlier this year.
  3. Demonstrating an understanding that regulation is vital to winning consumer trust: With many consumers still unclear on the role that cryptocurrencies and blockchain have to play in improving their lives, it’s evident that tailored and flexible regulation has a role to play in winning over consumer trust. Europe’s Open Banking, and its successor, Open Finance, will allow consumers to see first-hand the role that fintech innovation can have in improving how they manage certain services. These will enable truly game-changing technologies for citizens and have been created within a framework that people can trust.

These projects are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of regulation and guidance in the European fintech space, and show that with the appropriate building blocks, innovation is often right around the corner.

What’s more, the direction Europe is taking will undoubtedly help to accelerate the mainstream adoption of crypto and blockchain as part of a wider boom in the fintech sector. Global financial superpowers should pay close attention to and learn from Europe’s support of fintech operations if they wish to play a leading role in the future of financial services.

Instant Payments, TED, and PIX: Open Banking Advances in Brazil

This week marks the beginning of Phase 3 of Brazil’s embrace of open banking. Phase 3 is the second-to-last stage of the implementation plan set out by the Brazilian Central Bank. According to reports, Phase 3 arrives about one month late – the original date was September 30th – but the changes that the newest phase of the open banking initiative will bring are significant enough to be worth the wait.

Divided into four parts, the goal of Phase 3 is to usher in the regulation of payment initiation from any online platform. This will initially involve enabling consumers to pay for products and services using PIX – without the consumer having to use their bank’s app. PIX is the smartphone-based, instant payments technology launched by the Brazilian central bank almost a year ago. The second part of Phase 3, enabling payments made with TED (transferência eletrônica disponível) and transfers between accounts of the same bank, is set to begin in mid-February of 2022; the third part, enabling payments via bank slip, is slated to begin in late June; and the fourth and final part of Phase 3, enabling payment by debit account, is set to go live at the end of September.

Payment initiation is only one component of the open banking project Brazil has undertaken. Giving consumers the ability to make price comparisons, as well as compare rates and credit offers, are also major new possibilities for consumers that will be available thanks to the introduction of open banking in the country. These elements are expected to begin at the end of March 2022.

“The initiation will have a great impact especially on fintechs, which may offer more practical solutions for consumers or improve your internal financial processes from direct payment,” Belvo General Director Albert Morales explained. “Large banks, on the other hand, should start to rethink prices and solutions offered, both to attract new users and to retain users.”

Brazil’s open banking project, approved in 2019 by the country’s central bank, is part of a larger modernization effort for the Brazil’s entire financial system. And while the global pandemic has played a major role in complicating the project’s original timeline, officials expect open banking to be fully implemented in the country by September of next year.

Read more about Brazil’s open banking project in this interview with Otávio Damaso, Regulation Director for Brazil’s central bank, conducted by The Paypers last month. Damaso explains why Brazil has embraced open banking, and how open banking fits into the larger context of regulatory changes and trends in the country.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Photo by Aline Cardoso from Pexels

Acquisitions, SMCR and APAC Regtech With StarCompliance’s Jennifer Sun

In conversation with StarCompliance‘s (Star) CEO Jennifer Sun over the next steps of their recent acquisition, SMCR and the appetite for regtech in APAC.

Jennifer Sun, CEO, StarComplianceJennifer Sun, CEO, StarCompliance
Jennifer Sun, CEO, StarCompliance

In this week’s Asia Weekend Read, The Fintech Times sat down with StarCompliance’s CEO and compliance expert Jennifer Sun, to gain a better insight into how the provider’s latest acquisition of Pentana Compliance from Ideagen will bolster their product portfolio, help their clients navigate their way through ever-evolving regulatory demands, and how its practicality translates into the APAC markets.

The solutions that have been acquired by StarCompliance, including Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) and Training and Competency (T&C) capabilities, will strategically extend Star’s product suite to help clients address incremental global compliance challenges on a single integrated platform.

SMCR was first introduced by the United Kingdom back in 2016, and works to drive a higher level of accountability within financial service firms and through the individuals that work within those firms. Firms must answer for their conduct and competence and must complete annual fitness and propriety checks alongside certification of individuals.

The 3 key components of SMCR are:

  • Conduct rules
  • Senior manager’s regime
  • Certification regime

The overarching goal of SMCR is to prevent harm from coming to consumers whilst simultaneously stabilising the integrity of the market.

The December 2019 expansion of SMCR replaced the Approved Persons Regime (APR) for all FCA solo-regulated firms including asset managers, investment firms, and consumer credit firms.

Following the U.K.’s introduction, many countries have implemented similar regulations, including Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

When discussing how the success of the U.K.’s SMCR had been translated by Asia’s regulatory bodies, Jennifer identified how the regulation had proven to be an industry trailblazer, and how SMCR had an extensive influence across global markets.

“The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission‘s individual accountability regulation – the Manager in Charge Regime, or MIC – was in effect soon after the SMCR, by October 2017,” Jennifer explains. “Australia’s Banking Executive Accountability Regime, or BEAR, followed quickly after in July 2018 and is in the process of being further strengthened via the Financial Accountability Regime. And finally, the Monetary Authority of Singapore‘s (MAS) Individual Accountability and Conduct Guidelines, or IACG, went into effect in September 2021.”

Jennifer goes on to discuss how Asia’s advantage of being able to build upon the U.K.’s tried and tested approach provided considerable benefits to their own forms of regulation. In taking the U.K.’s regulatory template, markets like Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore were able to avoid any weaknesses and unintended consequences throughout the development of their own solutions.

“But while it’s of great use to note the similarities between all these regimes,” Jennifer continues, “it’s also important to note the differences between them. They are by no means identical and must be dealt with on a regime-by-regime basis. However, you choose to look at this fast-moving regulatory trend, holding senior managers in the financial services sector to account for their actions is clearly an idea whose time has come.”

But whilst the process may appear simple on the surface, implementing regulation across the different markets in Asia was a task not without its challenges. Identifying Asia as a very fragmented market, Jennifer cites differing disclosure and regulatory requirements, numerous language barriers, and varying degrees of tech adoption as being potentially problematic for the overall success of implementation.

However, Jennifer assures readers that such struggles are actively being overcome. She explains: “While APAC as a region has not adopted regtech as quickly as EMEA, the UK, and the US, there have been encouraging signs of late. Both the HKMA and MAS have identified regtech as one of their key focuses for the next couple of years. The HKMA has launched a series of initiatives to promote regtech this year, and MAS has launched various grants which subsidise the adoption of regtech by financial institutions in Singapore.”

However, Jennifer warns that the benefits of regtech aren’t necessarily being received as warmly as they were within the U.K. market. When considering Hong Kong specifically, she brings to light this market study, for which KPMG was commissioned by the HKMA.

To gain an insight into both Hong Kong’s regtech landscape and the appetite for the technology, KPMG interviewed a number of banks on what they think the top five challenges in adopting regtech solutions are.

Jennifer points out that of the respondents, 75% cited “budget or resource constraints” and “unattractive business case” as contributing factors. She also highlights how 40% of respondents noted that a “lack of awareness of the potential value of regtech solutions” had prevented the adoption of regtech.

“To me, this says that the true value of regtech solutions isn’t well understood. Maybe no one has put the case to senior leadership, internally or externally, in a convincing enough manner.”


One of the main purposes of regtech and regimes of this nature is to strengthen market integrity by ensuring senior managers are held accountable for their conduct and competencies.

As discussed in this Spotlight, APAC’s financial service leaders can utilise a lot of the mistakes that were previously made in the U.K’s implementation of SMCR; including aspects of accountability. A feature point that is made by Gordon McKeown in the Spotlight reads: “It [SMCR] is intended to produce a working culture in the financial sector that will encourage staff to take personal responsibility for their actions, improve conduct at all levels and make sure firms and staff have a clear understanding of these areas of responsibility.”

Jennifer highlights the 2008 financial crisis as being the primary driver in the creation of individual accountability regulations like the SMCR and that of its successors. The flames of the crisis were fanned by poor decision-making and a ‘pass-the-buck’ mentality, resulting in new legislation and regulatory frameworks becoming a necessity for the financial services sector. It would ensure senior managers could be held accountable for significant business and conduct failures that occurred in the lines of business they were responsible for.

“The SMCR requires that senior managers in firms should have clearly assigned responsibilities and be held accountable for actions within their remit,” Jennifer explains. “It spells out what’s expected of firms very clearly in this regard, and senior leadership in these firms take the regulation very seriously, because the FCA does.”

When looking at how this applies to the APAC region, Jennifer says: “The IACG, MIC, and BEAR are similarly structured and precise in what is expected of firms operating in their respective countries. But it must be noted that individual accountability is about more than just following the rules, i.e., complying because the law says so. It makes good business sense to have a good firm culture; employees need to be held accountable for what’s in their remits.”

But what matters in the world is deeds, not words, and Jennifer describes how the clarity of individual accountability regimes is crystal clear: “They explicitly place the responsibilities of business and conduct failures in firms on senior managers. It then falls, of course, on compliance to find ways to implement the regimes,” she says.

Solid infrastructure remains a core pillar of the process, and systems must be both accessible and reliable in order to provide the kind of data and information that senior managers require to determine if their employees are competent in their roles and doing their jobs in such a manner that allows the firm to stay compliant.

“Clients more and more want an evidence base that can be easily referred to, reported out on, or managed by dashboards to give assurance, oversight, and confidence that an effective control framework is in place,” Jennifer continues. “An informed decision on a matter that could break the career of a senior manager legitimately requires powerful insight tools and solutions to properly make. Whether we’re talking about employee conflicts monitoring, control room automation, or individual accountability regimes, easily accessible and understandable data is what’s now called for.”

Should firms utilise homegrown solutions?

When discussing the use of homegrown solutions to manage SMCR solutions, Jennifer raises a couple of implications to the practice. “Homegrown solutions require maintenance, both from a technology and regulatory-change perspective. This entails, especially when it comes to technology, having the right expertise and bandwidth in-house to appropriately support the compliance solution. If activity slips through the cracks or new regulatory requirements aren’t being loaded into the system on a timely basis, the firm is exposed.

“As a SaaS regtech firm, regtech is all we do. This is our specialty: our business and our livelihood. And more than just having the technology and regulatory expertise always on hand, we have the benefit of having the input of end-users and compliance administrators from firms around the world: continuously improving the product from a functionality and content perspective.

“In short, not only do we provide software solutions, we provide industry insights and knowledge that an in-house technology team can’t match. We also provide regular enhancements and full-time client support to answer questions and help resolve issues. Speaking with prospects and clients that are supported by internal IT teams, we often hear feedback that they don’t receive the proper support or enhanced maintenance due to a lack of resources and budget. Clients won’t get that from us, I can assure you. We exist solely to support them.

Jennifer reinforces her point with evidence from this report, which was published by the Regtech Association of Australia. The findings of the report detail how 72% of regulated entities and corporate advisories hold a preference for buying regtech solutions rather than building them in-house.

“If individual accountability regulation is an idea whose time has come, I would say that so too is the notion that SaaS regtech is the best way to manage it,” Jennifer continues. “Leveraging manual or homegrown tools to manage SMCR compliance is both overwhelming and error-prone, with a heightened risk of financial penalties and reputational damage. With this transaction, Star will acquire, and continue to invest behind, best-in-class solutions that help simplify and reduce risk associated with the SMCR compliance process.”

Star, a current leader in global employee compliance, supports over 500,000 users across 83 countries in monitoring employee conflicts of interest, from personal trading and political donations to outside business activities and private investments.

The SMCR and T&C offerings will be immediately available to all Star customers and prospects, with no service interruption to existing clients.

  • 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.

34 Million Gig Workers Do Not Separate Their Personal and Business Bank Accounts Finds Abound

Independent contractors, freelancers, content creators, on-call workers, and merchants are looking for bank apps and feature-rich accounts to help them manage the day-to-day financial obligations of self-employment, like tracking deductions, setting aside tax payments, budgeting, and even invoicing, as currently, the 68 million workers in the independent economy don’t have anyone adequately serving them.

In order to understand more about this population and its banking successes and struggles, Abound turned to independent workers themselves, surveying 421 US workers, to find out about their banking habits, how they manage their accounts, if they’re satisfied with their options right now, and what their ideal bank account would look like. The company has released the findings from its new Banking the Independent Economy 2021 Report.

It’s estimated that by 2025, over half of workers will be independent — but they are an underserved market when it comes to banking options, and don’t see the tools out there that fit their daily lives. This means that banks wanting to serve a new target audience and grow the future of the independent economy can step into this gap in the industry.

Abound’s CEO, Trent Bigelow said: “While independent workers are a niche market today, with over 68 million independent workers in the US alone, in the future this growing market will make up half of all US workers. Traditional banks failing to serve this market now creates a perfect opportunity for challenger banks and fintechs to come in and win the market with purpose-built and automated solutions for independent workers.”

Key Findings: 

  • 51% don’t have a separate account for their business income. Half of the respondents pool their self-employed income into their personal accounts.
  • 46% want to open a new account in the next year. Of those who don’t use separate accounts, nearly half want to open one — translating into 16 million of the 68 million current independent workers as potential future customers.
  • Only half are very satisfied with their bank. 51% are very satisfied with their current bank, while 34% are only somewhat satisfied, and 15% aren’t satisfied at all.
  • Dissatisfaction is from high fees, a lack of features, and poor customer service. The fees that frustrate them the most are monthly maintenance fees and overdraft fees.
  • 68% say they are likely to change banks in the next year. Additionally, 52% say they would switch if another bank offered lower fees.
  • An ideal banking account would be mobile, identify tax-deductible expenses, and automatically set aside money for taxes. Independent workers are looking for a bank account that will help them navigate the financial management that comes with being self-employed.
  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

This Week in Fintech ending 29 October 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 Bitcoin’s Amazing Week

This past week was filled with excitement and the bitcoin bulls started a new stampede. On Wednesday bitcoin climbed to a new all-time high, reaching $66,930.39. The record price came a day after the first US. bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) debuted on the New York Stock Exchange giving bitcoin a big boost. The fund already has over $1 billion in management and is the quickest ETF to reach that threshold. Trading under the ticker symbol BITO, the fund essentially allows people to bet on the future of bitcoin, without actually having to purchase the cryptocurrency on a crypto exchange. Since the start of October, bitcoin is up by 50% surpassing the market value of both Facebook and Tesla. Other leading cryptocurrencies mirrored bitcoin’s gains, most notably Ethereum (ether) and Solana (SOL), which were up more than 10% and the overall crypto market cap climbed above its previous all-time high, going over $2.6 trillion. The launch of a bitcoin ETF increases the cryptocurrency’s legitimacy, making it easier for investors to get exposure.

Editor note: Ilias makes the case for ETFs as a stepping stone in the mass adoption of crypto, enabling people to learn more about safely owning, storing, and using crypto.


Tuesday Bernard Lunn, CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy wrote: Part 4 Will Wall Street Coopt and Strangle Etherum?

Bitcoin is radical and disruptive. In addition to being a totally decentralized, permissionless system, there are no human managers that you can talk to.

Ethereum is different. You can talk to Vitalik Buterin and Joseph Lubin. Techies may prefer Vitalik Buterin and biz types maybe more comfortable with Joseph Lubin, but both are humans that you can talk to.

There are 3 reasons why the answer is Yes to the headline question.

Editor note: This is Part 4 of our series on Ethereum 2.0. 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.

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



Rintu Patnaik, an Insurtech expert based in India, wrote: Regulatory Sandboxes Chug Along, Find A Place In The Sun

Initially conceptualized for fintech, regulatory sandbox programs have since expanded to other areas. These sandboxes benefit innovators by allowing government regulations to be exempted in usage of new technologies and innovations, until regulators can ascertain the product or service is useful. Basis specific themes for new products, sandboxes stimulate business growth and serve to launch up-and-coming companies.

Editor note: Rintu looks at Insurtech regulatory sandbox programs across different States in America.

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.


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Ripple and Pyypl Partnership Debuts First-in-Market ODL Service in MENA

Together with Pyypl, Ripple is launching RippleNet’s first-ever On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) deployment in the Middle East.

Ripple has become the first enterprise to leverage crypto to tackle the trillion-dollar challenges with cross-border payments. ODL leverages the digital asset XRP for instant and low-cost cross-border payments, eliminating the need for costly pre-funded accounts.

By using ODL, MENA’s financial institutions and Small-and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) will be able to leverage previously trapped, pre-funded capital to grow and scale their business.

The Middle East contains two of the world’s three largest remittance corridors with the UAE and Saudi Arabia handling a combined $78 billion in payments in 2020. The region has also experienced a rapid transition to digital in the last year making it a market that is primed for fintech innovation.

Pyypl has already introduced ODL to the Filipino market, and has plans to expand to new territories; as well as the possibility of exploring additional use cases. XRP will not be held within the UAE and transactions will not involve the currency AED as part of the payment flow.

Supported by the establishment of a new regional HQ in Dubai in 2020, Ripple itself already has a significant presence in MENA and is now witnessing 4-fold growth in transaction volume YTD compared to 2020.

RippleNet continues to see a high level of global traction. In APAC for instance, Ripple announced its first-in-market ODL corridor in Japan, in partnership with SBI Remit, and acquired a 40% stake in Tranglo in Malaysia to expand the availability of its ODL service.

Brooks Entwistle, Managing Director of Southeast Asia, RippleBrooks Entwistle, Managing Director of Southeast Asia, Ripple
Brooks Entwistle, Managing Director of Southeast Asia, Ripple

“MENA continues to be a critical region for Ripple thanks to our outstanding roster of customers, a welcoming regulatory environment, and a regional focus on the needed improvements in the current financial system,” comments Brooks Entwistle, Managing Director of RippleNet in APAC and MENA. “The establishment of yet another first-in-market ODL launch demonstrates the understanding that digital assets will play a central role in the future of global payments. We are delighted to partner with forward-thinking companies, like Pyypl, to ensure we can continue to break the status quo in the current global financial system to continue delivering the best experience for customers.”

Antti Arponen, Co-Founder and CEO, PyyplAntti Arponen, Co-Founder and CEO, Pyypl
Antti Arponen, Co-Founder and CEO, Pyypl

Antti Arponen, Co-Founder and CEO of Pyypl, added: “We’re excited to be Ripple’s first partner of choice to bring the deployment of ODL to the Middle East. This enables our ever-increasing number of users to deliver remittances instantly and cost-effectively. We’ve also reduced our inefficient use of capital through ODL, and look forward to an exciting rollout of its capabilities across the region.”

  • 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.

Standard Bank Taps Flutterwave to Enhance Payments in African Nations

Africa-based Standard Bank announced this week it is partnering with payments technology company Flutterwave. The bank is looking to Flutterwave to help improve the digital payment experience for customers in Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Mauritius, Cote D’Ivoire, and Malawi.

By integrating Flutterwave, Standard Bank aims to help commercial customers– from sole proprietors to large companies– grow their business by leveraging digital payments and ecommerce tools. Specifically, Flutterwave will help Standard Bank’s merchant clients to build e-commerce, card issuing, payments, collections, USSD, lending, and buy-now-pay-later capabilities for end consumers.

“Our partnership with Standard Bank demonstrates that fintechs and banks are not competitors but trusted partners with the key focus being the customer,” said Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga GB Agboola. “We plan to grow financial and digital inclusion through this partnership and in the long run, we expect to generate more jobs in the digital economy and enable rapid business growth across the continent.”

Flutterwave was founded in 2016 and has since processed over 140 million transactions worth over $9 billion. The company aims to create a flexible and affordable way for Africans to pay in the digital era. In addition to its payments technology, the company also offers invoicing technology, business loans, and analytics tools.

Standard Bank’s Chief Executive of Africa Regions Yinka Sanni anticipates the benefits of today’s partnership will transcend the bank’s merchant clients. “Coupled with the innovation offered by Flutterwave, we can deliver real impact and growth opportunities to clients across the continent,” he explained. “We believe when our clients grow, Africa grows.”

Earlier this year Flutterwave teamed up with PayPal to connect its African merchant clients with PayPal’s 377 million accountholders, making it easier for them to navigate the complex payments infrastructure in Africa. Flutterwave has raised $235 million and is headquartered in California.

Photo by Omotayo Tajudeen from Pexels

Samsung Pay Warns of “Frightful” Contactless Fraud

Contactless fraud could come as a nasty trick this Halloween; warns Samsung.

Despite the fact that the contactless card spending limit has been increased from its former limit of £45 up to £100, no one would blame customers for feeling like all of their Halloween treats have come at once, but as Samsung warns, they should continue to exercise great caution.

Although the temptation to ‘tap and go’ might be there with contactless cards, research shows that 2 in 5 people are genuinely concerned about the possibility of card fraud with the increase.

Given how easy it now is to make a high-value payment with the use of contactless, the potential loss is greater with the higher limit, especially if you were to lose your card, it’s easier for the person who found it to make a high-value payment on that card with no restrictions if they decided to use it.

However, Samsung has put forward their Samsung Pay technology as a solution to this issue. The paytech enables users to pay above the £100 contactless limit, with the process being protected by Samsung Pay’s fingerprint or PIN authentication technology.

60% of people are still using their traditional bank cards to make contactless payments, with over a third of people weren’t even aware of the spending limit increase in the first place, leaving them potentially exposed to fraudulent activity.

Despite this, people are becoming much savvier, with 6 in 10 people having expressed that cashback incentives would motivate them to use mobile payments more often, and preferring them to other rewards out there.

Maximise rewards

Powered by Curve, Samsung Pay+ , which is available through the Samsung Pay app, gives customers the opportunity to earn rewards from their transactions, earning them between 1% and 20% cashback on everyday spending.

Furthermore, Samsung Pay+ can simplify spending by integrating Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards into one e-wallet,  earning cashback across every added card.

Teg Dosanjh, Director of Connected Services and Technology, Samsung UK and IrelandTeg Dosanjh, Director of Connected Services and Technology, Samsung UK and Ireland
Teg Dosanjh, Director of Connected Services and Technology, Samsung UK and Ireland

Commenting on the benefits and safety of mobile payments for customers, Teg Dosanjh, Director of Connected Services and Technology, Samsung UK and Ireland, said: “As we start spending again after the extended lockdown we’ve had, there are some great deals to be had, but it’s important not to forget payment safety when we’re out shopping.

“Physical plastic cards may seem easy with their tap and go function, but with no authentication to spend £100, they present greater risk. We’re encouraged that three-quarters of the UK are now more open and feel more positively towards mobile payment solutions like Samsung Pay, which provides a safer and more secure way to pay.

“With multiple layers of security and protection built-in, including biometric authentication such as fingerprint and PIN, customers can grab a bargain, and tap and go, safe in the knowledge that their hard-earned money is protected.

“We’re a nation of tech-savvy spenders and we want the flexibility of being able to pay however, and whenever we choose. We know this is true as two-thirds of people we surveyed said they now prefer using mobile wallets over their traditional plastic card, which is double the number from last year (30%). And as an extra incentive for customers shopping on, customers are guaranteed 5% cashback – only available with Samsung Pay+.”

  • 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.

Women in Fintech: Advice from Streamtime, Unbiased, Wedo, Solidatus, Nordigen and Netcapital

This October at The Fintech Times we are championing the fantastic females in the fintech industry. Around 30% of the fintech workforce are women, and we want to spotlight those who have not only made it to the top, but those who have overcome hurdles, bulldozing a path for the women to follow.

Here we hear from Brittany Atkins, Karen Barrett, Indy Gregg, Lorraine Waters, Arta Abasina, and Dr. Cecilia Lenk, as they share their advice on managing financial goals and personal expectations. 

Brittany Atkins, UK and Ireland Country Lead, Streamtime

Brittany Atkins, UK&I Country Lead, StreamtimeBrittany Atkins, UK&I Country Lead, Streamtime
Brittany Atkins, UK&I Country Lead, Streamtime

“Only in my mid-20s did I realise that I had financial anxiety. For me this manifested itself as uncontrollable emotional outbursts when I had an unexpected or unfair expense to pay, feeling panicked when I wasn’t in control of a financial decision and depressed when I was living on a variable income. In comparison to my peers, I could see that I was over-reacting to these types of financial situations and as a very logical individual, it was difficult to understand how I could be so emotionally impacted by losing a tenner out of my back pocket.

“Our relationship with money and finance is impressed upon at a far younger age than we may expect. It’s before we earn our first salaries or are treated to pocket-money but from what we observe as children. I grew up in a single-parent household where finances were always extremely tight. Though I never went hungry, I would watch my mum cry, weekly, as bills came through the letterbox that she knew she wouldn’t be able to pay. So although by contrast, I was able to afford my bills, I had learned the emotional response of somebody who couldn’t.

“This awareness helped me define some very clear-life goals, which in turn made it easy for me to prioritise investment over saving and spending, seemingly ahead of my peers. I wanted to do more than save for a rainy day, I wanted to be able to weather a financial storm for both myself and my mum. Though I left university desperate to go to drama school, first I took a job in sales and bought my first property at 23 for my mum to live in. I didn’t yet know that I had any kind of financial anxiety but I did know that I needed to feel like she had some financial security while I was preparing to throw mine away.

“The unstable and insecure financial realities of an actor quickly proved too severe on my mental health and property investment was my turn to once again. Once again, childhood experiences of living in rented accommodation and moving yearly when landlords increased the rent has no doubt played a big part in this choice.

“Although money can’t buy you happiness, financial uncertainty certainly brings a lot of unhappiness with it. Financial independence and stability buys peace of mind and I’ll never take it for granted.”

Karen Barrett, Founder and CEO, Unbiased

Karen Barrett, founder and CEO, UnbiasedKaren Barrett, founder and CEO, Unbiased
Karen Barrett, founder and CEO, Unbiased

“Coming through the worst thing imaginable was the main catalyst for launching Unbiased. My son Dominic was born with a serious heart defect and by the time the problem was identified, he was extremely sick. He was rushed to hospital and had his first open-heart surgery at four weeks old and the second at 10 weeks. It was a difficult time and because of the seriousness of his case, I stayed at the hospital for those first two months.

“In the middle of worrying whether he was going to be OK, I was also anxious about practical things such as: Do I have health insurance? Will I be able to go back to work? If so, when? Will I need to stop working permanently, to care for Dominic? How will we manage financially as a family? I was faced with an unexpected situation and found myself completely unprepared.

“We’re so lucky and grateful that Dominic who’s now 12 is very well but it was that experience of feeling unprepared financially, coupled with my interest in tech and career in the financial sector got me thinking. I realised there must be millions of others in the same situation I’d been in and the concept of an easy-to-use, free, online service that can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere and that uses technology to match people with the best, trusted professional advisers, suddenly made total sense.

“Running my own business has allowed me to be a parent on my own terms. For instance, I had a meeting with a government body when my youngest child was three weeks old , so I took him with me. And I’ve had to learn to delegate at work and at home and that ‘good enough is good enough’.

“One of the things we’re trying to do at Unbiased is raise awareness of the financial pressures women can face. If they take time out of the workplace to have children, it’s not uncommon to stop pension payments because they can’t afford them. But with higher rates of divorce, it’s not a given that things are going to end up how they expected, so they may be putting themselves in a very precarious position.

“If I could wave a wand and change one thing, it’d be to persuade more women to start managing their own finances. It’s empowering because when you have financial security, it gives you choices.”

Indy Gregg, Founder and CEO, Wedo

Indy Gregg, Founder and CEO, WedoIndy Gregg, Founder and CEO, Wedo
Indy Gregg, Founder and CEO, Wedo

“I don’t really have financial goals. My goals are all about solving problems. I want to help more people. Money is a by-product of creating value for others. We win when we deliver stuff that helps solve problems for people.

“So, I tend to use the money to measure how much people love something or want to use something because that product or service truly improves their life. The only personal expectation I put on myself is to never give up. Life is a bit like a slot machine, you have to keep pulling down that arm over and over again because you know if you keep trying, you’ll eventually have a pay-out.

“I don’t gamble, but when I visualise the idea that every call I hop onto, every time I speak and have someone say no, I just move on to the next one, because I know it’s made me one step closer to a pay-out in terms of getting a deal done, or raising capital, or whatever it is. I don’t believe in luck, I believe you make your luck and when you create things that help other people help either themselves or other people, you’ll win. Just keep trying.”

Lorraine Waters, CDO, Solidatus

Lorraine Waters, CDO, SolidatusLorraine Waters, CDO, Solidatus
Lorraine Waters, CDO, Solidatus

“When I left school in the mid-’80’s I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I did know I wanted to work, earn money and become independent and so went to work in banking rather than to University. While I wish I had gone to Uni for the experience and the learning, the truth is that the lack of higher education has not held me back, and getting work experience early actually helped launch my career forward.

“Never be afraid to take the leap into a new role, have confidence in yourself even if you can only do 50-60% of the requirements, you will soon look back and think ‘what was I worried about?’

“Always be there to help others and use the experiences you’ve gained to empower others that are still in the early stages of their career, especially if it means creating opportunities that people may not have had otherwise. One of my favourite quotes is by Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, when she said ‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’”

Arta Abasina, Head of Operations, Nordigen

Arta Abasina, Head of Operations, NordigenArta Abasina, Head of Operations, Nordigen
Arta Abasina, Head of Operations, Nordigen

“My parents were always keen for me to appreciate the value of money. It was only when I started to work alongside my studies that I really began to understand money and its worth. If you’re waiting tables or mopping floors at an hourly rate, as I did throughout my time at university, you become so much more aware of how much things actually cost.

“Knowing just how I earned – or more accurately – how many shifts I needed to work to buy university books – was perhaps the best introduction to setting out financial plans and goals. It helped me to budget, save for rainy days and to put money aside for a well-earned summer vacation. This was a great start, there’s plenty more to cover when it comes to personal finance management, and unfortunately, there is little guidance available for many young people.

“Subjects such as Maths and Economics certainly help with the basics of personal finances, but there’s little time devoted to this in the typical school curriculum. It’s particularly worrying here in Latvia, as older generations are less likely to be financially literate themselves. If not at school or at home, where are young people supposed to learn how to manage their money?

“Throughout my time as an Investment Director at Overkill VC and now Head of Operations at Nordigen, I have had to tackle strategic and financial decisions on the business side on a daily basis. This experience positively impacted my ability to manage personal finances to be able to manage the household and any unforeseen expenses or other uncertainties.

“My main tip? Prioritise and plan ahead. Approach your finances with the little things first; something as simple as creating a weekly meal plan can help you get a handle on your spending and a better understanding of where your money is going. For goal setting or saving for a rainy day, try opening a vault on Revolut or investing roundups on MoneyBox. Lastly, don’t forget to bring everything together by creating a personal budget – this is helpful in providing accountability and avoiding nasty surprises. 

“Once you have a good understanding of the basics and feel in control of your personal finances, it can be exciting – and a little daunting to think about what comes next. One book I love to suggest to everyone is the Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. This book offers a human look at the financial world, how it works and, most importantly, helps you understand your own attitude towards money and where it comes from. Though I’m no longer waiting tables or mopping floors for an hourly wage, the lessons I learned during those days and the years since have shaped my perspective on personal financial development. Your own experience might be very different, and it’s important to tailor your approach to planning and finances so it fits with your view of the world.

“Hoping to change the situation for more young people, together with fellow members of Global Shapers Riga we created FinLit; a non-profit initiative aimed at improving financial literacy rate in Latvia. Our work has led us to collaborate with universities and work towards making this a part of the curriculum for all university students.” 

Dr. Cecilia Lenk, Chief Executive Officer, Netcapital Inc. 

Dr. Cecilia Lenk, Chief Executive Officer, Netcapital, IncDr. Cecilia Lenk, Chief Executive Officer, Netcapital, Inc
Dr. Cecilia Lenk, Chief Executive Officer, Netcapital, Inc

“Countless books, articles, blogs, YouTube videos, tweets, and even Hollywood movies offer women advice on how they can successfully juggle and balance their personal and professional lives. For all the advice that’s out there, one thing is clear—there is no magic solution.

“For me, the biggest challenge harmonising my personal life and my professional ambitions and expectations was always childcare. Even with the added support of my spouse who has his own demanding professional life, it was never a well-oiled machine. Snow days, sickness, travel, unexpected change in schedules, meetings, miscommunications, anything and everything could, in an instant, upend the whole system.

“For example, one sunny summer day, I took a short trip to New York for a morning meeting. I went to the meeting because it was expected that I would attend, and because, frankly, I viewed it as good for my career. I dropped my young daughter off at daycare at 7 am, then took the shuttle to New York from Boston with a plan to return at 1 pm, well before her daycare closed. I should mention my husband is a paleontologist and was away fossil-collecting. My easy, what could go wrong trip still gives me nightmares. The cab ran into traffic getting back to LaGuardia airport. Planes that usually left every hour were massively delayed due to weather. I was going to be hours late. I called the daycare, people on the pick-up list, friends who my child knew well. Of course no one answered their phones or were away as well. I left lots of increasingly panicky voicemails. Finally on the plane, using one of those weird plane phones, my future sister-in-law agreed to pick up my child. I didn’t get home until 8 pm.

“Most women with children have similar stories of trying to make the opposing sets of personal and professional demands work somewhat in harmony. It is often impossible. During the pandemic, far too many women have been forced to leave the workforce because of closed daycares and schools. If we are to solve this one single aspect of managing our personal and professional lives is affordable, quality childcare. My advice is to do all you can to advocate for it.“

  • 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.

Alt Lending week ended 29th October 2021

Fixed Rate Mortgage maturities lengthen out.

Life Company Rothesay has announced a tie up with a British Bank in order to offer fixed rate mortgages of up to 30 years. This is part of a trend which the UK government is actually encouraging in a bid to end borrowers switching lenders after a number of years to essentially arbitrage rates. Rothesay like most life companies have an interest in acquiring long term assets in order to assist with the long term liabilities of the pension funds which they manage.  This once again is a result of the UK’s (and the rest of the worlds governments pursuing a policy of ultra low interest rates) which  of course have consequences. For borrowers this is probably a benign occurrence but there are risks which will one of these days, and probably sooner than you think which all of us will have to shoulder. The most apparent is how to react to inflation. The Bank of England has more or less admitted that it cannot afford to raise interest rates without severely damaging  the economy, yet this is about the only monetary tool available to control inflation.  As an old banker friend of mine once said. Oh sh*t oh dear!

Draghi’s conundrum over worlds oldest bank

It is always sad when a very old institution that has apparently been around for ever looks like it is going to collapse and that looks like the likely outcome for Monte de Paschi de Siena. This is the worlds oldest bank having been in Tuscany for the last 500 years. To put that into perspective it was founded only 20 years after the death of Tuscan artist Leonardo da Vinci?  Initially this was a philanthropic organisation established to provide banking (pawnbroking) facilities to the poor of Siena. Talks between the Italian government  and Italian banking giant Unicredit have collapsed over disagreements relating to which parts of Monte do Paschi it was going to acquire. The current owner of the bank is the Italian state and the European Union has given it to the end of the year to dispose of its holding. I wonder if Draghi, once the golden boy of the ECB is going to do “all that it takes” to save the situation?

A golden opportunity wasted?

Lucy Burton is the Banking Editor at London’s Daily Telegraph, (I didn’t know they had one) and she comments on the fact that some very large retailers with established and loyal client bases (Tesco, Sainbury s, M&S) failed to capitalise on the fall out from the 2008 banking crisis to establish themselves as competitors  to the big banks. She is right. But are they missing a trick? The digital players have astronomic valuations placed on them but are nothing but cloud based applications that don’t  make any money. At least Tesco Bank is achieving that basic hurdle even if the ROE might be somewhat disappointing   Sainsbury’s have given up trying to sell their banking operations. If I were advising their boards I would suggest investigating  buying a pre money digital banking app.  I am sure that there are a whole shed load of them around the Shoreditch and Old Street. I think that might tick a whole lot of boxes and make the business of succeeding an easier prospect.

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.

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Women in Fintech: SKALE, Personetics, Access PaySuite, Nova Credit, MPOWER, Chargebacks 911

This October at The Fintech Times we are championing the fantastic females in the fintech industry. Around 30% of the fintech workforce are women, and we want to spotlight those who have not only made it to the top, but those who have overcome hurdles, bulldozing a path for the women to follow.

Here we hear from Monica Eaton-Cardone, Andrea Dunlop, Pari Lennartz, Sarah Davies, Christine Perry and Nicole Meyers as they share their advice on managing financial goals and personal expectations. 

Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO and Co-Founder, Chargebacks 911

Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO and Co-Founder, Chargebacks 911

“When it comes to managing expectations, I have always found that you need to realistic about how little control you have over the future of the FinTech industry, even if you are the CEO of a successful business. I am lucky to have found a niche that will be important for the foreseeable future, but technological and legal changes can make any business unviable if they are not willing to pivot. If your financial expectations are tied to everything staying the same, especially in industries that move as fast as finance and technology, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

“The impact doubles if you are balancing a career and a family. I am not somebody who thinks that it’s unreasonable for people, and especially women, to raise the bar, go for the gold and ‘have it all’ – though my husband can take his share of the credit, I do think achieving financial goals requires adaptability, rather than just planning.

“That has been the key reason that Chargebacks911 has grown from 11 employees to over 300 and 45,000 customers around the world – and we’re still growing. The idea came to me when I was running an eCommerce business that had a serious problem with chargebacks. Instead of continuing to watch my financial plans continue to fail (due to this chargeback problem), I switched gears and pioneered my own solution. I didn’t have any skills in fintech at the time, and I definitely didn’t know how to code, but you can pick up any skill given enough time and motivation! A lack of formal education doesn’t have to hold you back if you’re committed to your goals and if you know where to look for help.

“The same goes for balancing your financial goals and personal expectations. To take a quote from one of my favourite Disney characters, as Cinderella says, “the only choice you have is to have courage and be kind.” Have courage because it’s not impossible, and be kind because you’ll need other people to be kind to you, and the only way to ensure that, is to build networks (families, friendship groups, office cultures and professional organisations) that help each other.”

Andrea Dunlop, managing director of Access PaySuite

Andrea Dunlop, managing director of Access PaySuite

“Growing up in the bottom quartile, it became familiar to have a provident knocking at our door every week where my mum would repay her small loans. My mother had very limited money management skills and she was just surviving the best she knew how. As it stands, in the UK women are three times as likely to have lower rates of financial literacy as men. No one is given a handbook on how to manage money!

“With no role model and no financial education, I fell into the same trap in my 20s. It was probably by accident that later in life I was working in financial services and whilst working at Experian I saw the significance of credit score. From this, I realised the importance of my financial wellbeing, to lift myself out of a lower level and not fall into the same situation as my mum living week to week.

“Seeing all the challenges my mum faced motivated me to gain financial independence. It didn’t happen overnight but I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve and that’s when I started to implement short-term goals.

“It is important to set realistic goals for yourself and that way it will feel like you are making progress through this process. The more you achieve by setting small steps, it will continue to motivate you to the next goal. My mindset and behaviours didn’t change overnight but over time I adjusted my relationship with money and broke the cycle that I grew up with.

I think the best advice is to be honest with yourself about the situation. It’s hard to get help and a real strategy out of the situation without trusting someone who can support in facing that hard truth.

“The key plan was to create a budget, build an emergency fund of three months and ensure the budget is being followed. Get out of debt paying the highest interest items first, pay cash for big items and most importantly spend less than you earn whilst compounding the difference in savings and investments. It takes a long time but it’s worth it.”

Pari Lennartz, AVP of Engineering, MPOWER

Lennartz, AVP of Engineering, MPOWERLennartz, AVP of Engineering, MPOWER
Pari Lennartz, AVP of Engineering, MPOWER

“I consider myself a goal-oriented person and having expectations for myself has helped me get to where I am today. As a teen in India, it was my dream to go to the US and pursue a higher education. However, I knew it was a long shot, not due to grades but due to funding.

“My four-year undergraduate computer science and engineering degree at a public university in India cost me $100 USD a year in tuition. That was what was affordable for me at the time.

“Once I set my sights on pursuing a master’s degree in the US, I put together a financial plan to give myself a pathway to achieve my goal. This included planning for any fees associated with prep and entrance exams and selecting schools that were both somewhat affordable and offered programs I was interested in. To keep fees down, I limited myself to five applications.

“Once I secured admission at a few schools, I reached out to financial aid offices and explored scholarship and funding options. I picked Utah State over others purely because of funding options and the possibility of research assistant and teaching assistant opportunities that would grant me a huge tuition waiver. However, it was nearly impossible to land one of these positions before getting to the campus. So, it was still a gamble – but one that paid off.

“I share this story because we tend to think that our dreams are out of reach, especially financially, when programs aren’t readily available. But, with enough planning and expectation management, our goals are always within reach. I’ve applied this thinking at every stage of my career and life to achieve my professional and personal aspirations.”

Sarah Davies, Head of Risk and Analytics, Nova Credit

Sarah Davies, Head of Risk and Analytics, Nova CreditSarah Davies, Head of Risk and Analytics, Nova Credit
Sarah Davies, Head of Risk and Analytics, Nova Credit

“My experiences have taught me that our culture and society are often not helpful when women need to clarify our expectations for career development, work-life management and financial goals. Work culture tells us fairly directly that there is a simple, causal relationship between career growth and financial success – stay focused on a unique career path and financial success occurs. Unfortunately, this does not, make allowances for broader work and life experiences, or the inevitable ‘moments in time’ when far more important priorities require attention.

“It’s best to try to set aside the misperception of a linear causal path for your career. Anticipate and be ready to embrace a few realities.

“Your personal life should, and must, take priority at times. My career spans more than thirty years. I love my job, and the various work experiences I’ve been fortunate to have. However one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t take the time to be fully present when both my parents were terminally ill. I was with them at their home, but convinced myself that I could continue to work while caring for them. I juggled way too many things and ultimately was not present or effective in either context. At the end of your life, don’t wish you’d worked those extra hours. You’re going to want to know you supported your family in a critical moment. Recognise that if you’re working in a healthy and respectful work environment, the organisation will want you to take the time you need in order for you to come back stronger and focused.

“Be receptive to lateral career moves at times. Again this appears to be counter-intuitive but we can learn so much more when we step into new work spheres that may not immediately align with our career direction. I’ve worked in analytics almost all of my career apart from a three year experience in marketing operations. I went from running a 30 person team of data scientists, to managing more than 300 individuals with a diverse range of experiences, backgrounds and roles. It was singularly the most valuable experience in leadership and management I’ve ever had – it was also one of the hardest and most enjoyable. While initially there was no major financial or promotion upside, over time this experience opened many career doors for me.”

Christine Renee Perry, VP, Global Solutions Engineering, SKALE

Christine Renee Perry, VP, Global Solutions Engineering, SKALE

“Visible role models and mentoring are key. I’d been fascinated by blockchain, crypto and decentralized finance and the ways in which they intersect with traditional tech and fintech. So after many years in the
enterprise technology space, I jumped at the opportunity to work at SKALE , a multichain ethereum scaling solution that powers many of these applications. Working as a woman in the blockchain space it’s quickly apparent that there’s a shortage of women leaders. I’d go to conferences and could count the number of female executives on my fingers, not to mention the broader lack of diversity. That presents a huge challenge, when you go to a conference and no one on stage looks like you, both as a woman and as someone who is black, indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC). So when you go, all the panels consist of men, which begs the question:  How do you bring more women’s voices to the table?

“One of the things about SKALE that was exciting to me was the commitment to creating a diverse set of voices to the group. Half of the executive team is women, we have people of different cultures and we’ve done this by making some extra effort. That extends (very importantly) throughout the organisation beyond roles that have more female representation already such as marketing/business development and into our technical team, like myself as the VP of Solutions engineering.

“One of the things I did early on was connecting with a “women in blockchain” group at UC Berkeley called
SHE256. I spoke on panels and at events so they could see that representation of women exists in blockchain and encourage them to persevere. Additionally, at SKALE I made a point of getting on stage at conferences and hackathons. I believe in the adage “you can’t be what you can’t see”, which has always resonated deeply with me. The more women on stage at hackathons, more so as an exec, the more other women see that they too can be one. It was amazing to be approached after doing highly technical talks and get the feedback that it was inspiring that they saw other women in high level technical roles succeeding. Which has even led to mentoring female students, professionals and new hackers alike in how they too can navigate the waters. Visibility and mentorship are critical to succeeding.”

Nicole Meyers, VP Strategic Account Management at Personetics

Nicole Meyers, VP Strategic Account Management at PersoneticsNicole Meyers, VP Strategic Account Management at Personetics
Nicole Meyers, VP Strategic Account Management at Personetics

“My best advice is to design your life for the flexibility you want to have. For me, it’s important I have a partner who accepts the importance of my career and my unwillingness to compromise for it and everyone deserves that. At the same time, there are certain jobs I will no longer consider because of the personal sacrifices they require to truly excel in them.”

“Leveraging the resources around you to keep informed and grow your wealth is the key to managing your personal finances and achieving your goals. Managing the finances isn’t just down to you or the person in your family who is good with numbers. It’s important to turn to your bank app and see the support or services it offers. Setting up a life plan through digital tools or an advisor is crucial to achieving your goals as early as possible, whilst balancing everything else in your life.”

  • 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.

Money 20/20: Employee demand rises for instant payments

Growing employee demand for being paid instantly rather than biweekly ― led by today’s gig economy ― is soon expected to spill over into more traditional employers’ payroll systems. That was the consensus among a panel of payments and research executives speaking about the opportunities for instant payments at the Money 20/20 conference in Las […]

STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank Emerge as Saudi Fintech Investment Reaches $347million

Over the last 12 months, the fintech industry in Saudi Arabia has continued to grow at a rapid pace as stated in the recent Fintech Saudi Annual Report 2020/2021. The number of Saudi fintech companies operating in the Kingdom rose dramatically by 37% with an investment amount exceeding SAR 1.3billion ($347million).

“During 2020 / 2021 we have seen the development of a maturing fintech industry in the Kingdom,” said Nejoud Almulaik, director of Fintech Saudi. “As we emerge from the challenges of covid-19, it is clear that the digitalisation experienced during the pandemic is here to stay”.  Almulaik extended gratitude to the regulatory authorities, emphasising that “regulation clarity is attracting more investment in the sector and driving the growth of the fintech industry.”

The report clarified that over the last year, new fintech companies have emerged in a variety of areas including payments, capital markets, insurance and business tools for SMEs. There has also been a number of regulatory and infrastructure developments including the release of new fintech activity regulations, the launch of SARIE -the Instant Payment System- and the Council of Ministers approval to license two local digital banks: STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank.

Fintech Saudi has continued to support the development of the fintech industry through a number of initiatives including the Fintech Accelerator, Fintech Career Fair, the National Youth Art Competition and the organisation of the first ever National Fintech Adoption Survey.

Moreover, the report anticipated the year 2021/2022 to be another significant period for the fintech industry. The continued support from venture investors, new regulations, national fintech initiatives and the launch of Open Banking are expected to support the development of a new generation of fintech solutions in Saudi Arabia.

The Fintech Saudi Annual Report consists of a number of sections including an overview of Open Banking in Saudi Arabia, in-depth analysis into talent and venture capital in Saudi Arabia.

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