European Retail Banking Radar by Kearney Finds EU Banks Enjoyed Strong Pandemic Recovery in 2021

Kearney, the global consultancy partnership, has released the fourteenth edition of its annual European Retail Banking Radar. The latest report shows that European banks have enjoyed a strong recovery in 2021 from previous pandemic disruption, mainly thanks to large provision releases.

As banks reported their second-highest profits in 15 years, the average profit per customer across Europe rose 43 per cent, from €150 in 2020 to €214 in 2021. Meanwhile, risk costs as a percentage of income fell in every country, to the lowest level recorded in Kearney’s Retail Banking Radar series.

Leveraging survey and proprietary data from 89 banks in 21 countries across Europe, the research revealed that despite the strong rise in business activity, such as an increase in savings and borrowing by households and small businesses, retail banking revenues for Western Europe were broadly flat compared to the last 10 years. This suggests that banks have had to run at pace just to stand still.

However, a reduction of 12 per cent in headcount and 25 per cent in physical bank branches over the past 5 years, in combination with an increase of 25 per cent in business volumes, allowed all regions to increase productivity. Whilst these obvious reductions were facilitated by changing customer behaviour in the last decade, the report also warns that finding such ways to decrease costs, even by 1-2 per cent per annum, will be increasingly difficult for retail banks now that sizable reductions have been completed.

Further findings include:

  • 12 of the 21 countries analysed registered a rise in income per customer, with the UK noting the second-highest increase at five per cent, surpassed only by Hungary at +19 per cent.
  • Cost to income ratio fell in 14 out of the 21 countries surveyed, with Western Europe reporting the largest drop thanks to robust performances by the UK at -5.4p.p. and Austria at-2.7p.p.
  • The growth in loan and deposit volumes in the past two years is the highest in the last 15 years, up seven per cent in 2020 and 5.5 per cent in 2021 compared to a 3.1 per cent average.
  • The UK led the way with a 16.6 per cent rise in income per employee – the highest of any country analysed – while Spain led Southern Europe with a 10 per cent rise.

Rate increases from the Bank of England and European Central Bank could provide a boost to bank revenues in 2022, as Europe departs from the zero-interest-rate policy after more than a decade.

However, the economic uncertainty and rising inflation do pose a threat. The report concludes that it is imperative for retail banks to remain vigilant on how the rising cost of living impacts loan impairments as well as demand for consumer banking products. There will be tough choices for retail banks to make in 2022 and mounting pressure to act on their operating models.

Roberto Freddi, partner at Kearney, comments, “After a tumultuous few years for the European banking sector, it is positive to see such a strong recovery in 2021, with profits nearing record highs compared to our previous Retail Banking Radar and costs falling across the board, even if profitability was influenced mainly by the reduction of risk provisions.”

Sameer Pethe, partner at Kearney, comments, “In a time of significant investment into digitisation, new compliance costs and growing wage inflation, cost savings through headcount and branch reduction have proved convenient, but there is likely very limited room to reduce these costs further. Instead, banks must continue on the path of digitisation, fundamentally revamping their business models to become digital-first, if they want to see further improvement in their cost performance in coming years.”

Daniela Chikova, partner at Kearney, adds, “Last year in May, banks were faced with 30 per cent decline in profitability and expectations about 2021 were subdued. And yet, the industry rebounded to one of its best years on record – showing resilience and strength. Rising inflation and the end of the decade-long central rate stasis will create new challenges in 2022. Retail banks needs to stay alert, act quickly and relentlessly focus on, productivity and efficiency.”

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

XBRL News about sustainability disclosures and ESEF

Accountancy Europe on assurance of EU ESG disclosures

Accountancy Europe has released an interesting discussion paper on sustainability assurance under the proposed Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The CSRD introduces an EU-wide requirement for limited assurance on sustainability information, with the end goal to move to reasonable assurance in the longer term.

Assurance is one of the critical new elements of sustainability data, especially when it is disclosed via digital means. It is also very different from the status quo, which will raise the stakes for preparers‘ quality assurance.

Well over 3,000 ESEF filings at! Where are they coming from, and how can we improve access?

Have you visited recently – and are you finding it a useful resource? As filing season continues, we are still adding significant numbers of European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) reports to the site each week. As we go to press it contains over 3,400 filings in the digital, Inline XBRL-based ESEF format, now in use for financial reporting across Europe.

The comments about the disparate practices and states of awareness across Europe are especially poignant. High time for the European Single Access Point (ESAP) to come to life!

Staff request for feedback to inform future development of the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Taxonomy for digital reporting

The staff request for feedback outlines staff recommendations to inform the development of a taxonomy to enable digital consumption of sustainability disclosures prepared using the International Sustainability Standards Board’s (ISSB) IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards. The staff recommendations focus on fundamental matters that need to be considered early to enable the ISSB to publish the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Taxonomy on a timely basis.

ISSB looks to be pulling ahead in its race with EFRAG for fully digitised sustainability reporting. This detailed request for feedback offers a lot of food for thought about how to process better quality sustainability information in the future. Worth looking into and providing feedback!

LHV UK Established New Office in the Fintech Capital of the North

Following months of speculation, LHV UK has now confirmed that it has established a new foothold in the fintech capital of the North; opening the doors of its brand new Leeds office. 

Counting over 200 prominent fintech and crypto companies amongst its clientele, including Paysafe, Blockchain, Currencycloud, Coinbase, Trustly, Monese and Wise, the banking services provider announced the official opening of its second UK office in Leeds this week. Among its 200 clientele, 20 are confirmed fintech unicorns.

The office is of considerable space and size, with 30 in-house positions available, it’ll be the Company’s engineering and development teams that’ll initially take the front seat, working to develop a proprietary online customer portal specifically tailored for its B2B fintech clients.

LHV UK Leeds office opening 2022LHV UK Leeds office opening 2022
From left to right – Andres Kitter, deputy CEO, Rebecca Wright, chief People Officer, Macs Dickinson lead engineering manager, Erki Kilu, CEO

Why Leeds?

Beyond the ‘London Bubble’, the UK is rife with thriving fintech and financial communities. A recent report by the City of London Corporation highlighted the UK as the top destination in Europe for foreign fintech investment.

Its report identified that in 2021, 169 foreign companies invested £1.1billion ($1.26billion) into the UK’s financial services sector, being spread around 189 different projects. Of the £600million that was invested in London’s 114 projects, a remaining £500million spilt over into the city’s neighbouring fintech communities; with Leeds being no exception.

According to the findings of local outlets, Leeds’ booming financial sector attracted £34.5million in venture capital investment in 2020. But it wasn’t just the digital figures Leeds was able to attract. Indeed, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is due to complete the opening of its new data centre there by the end of this year.

Erki Kilu, CEO of LHV UKErki Kilu, CEO of LHV UK
Erki Kilu

Undoubtedly, there were many elements for LHV UK to consider in its search for its second UK base. Speaking exclusively to The Fintech Times, Erki Kilu, CEO of LHV UK, said: “We were thinking about many different places, but in the north, we considered Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. Somehow we felt that Leeds was the right answer.

“We made an in-depth analysis of who is available, how many and what type of universities there are, whilst also talking to different people who have made a similar decision.”

He continues: “Whilst we are confident that our London-based operations will continue to do well, we are also aware that there are growing fintech ecosystems across the country, and we’re keen to invest in the regional development of the fintech space.” 

Native-northerner Rebecca Wright, chief people officer of LHV UK, added to this with: “Leeds is a really thriving centre for great tech minds. There are some really fantastic businesses that have been founded in Leeds. There are really high levels of entrepreneurialism.

“We felt strongly that it would be a really great location to go and be a part of a broader tech community. So it would offer opportunities to collaborate, as well as potentially work in partnership on certain things.

“But definitely, we felt that there were a lot of synergies between our business and the businesses that have ultimately thrived and done amazing things in the north.”

The banking licence future for LHV UK

In addition to broadening its UK presence, the Company is in the process of pursuing a UK banking licence as part of the parent LHV Group’s plans to separate the business operations of its retail bank, LHV Bank, from those of the London headquartered fintech focussed LHV UK.

This is because, since 2018, the Company has operated in the UK as LHV Bank’s UK branch.

Acquiring a banking licence would simplify compliance with regulatory and supervisory requirements and enable LHV UK to highlight its value proposition and the profitability of its operations to new investors.

As the complete separation will also include staffing and technology, management decided to establish a strong presence in Leeds. 

LHV UK’s banking licence is subject to regulatory approval by the Prudential Regulatory Authority and the FCA.

LHV Leeds office UKLHV Leeds office UK
From left to right – Macs Dickinson, lead engineering manager, Rebecca Wright, chief people officer, Erki Kilu, CEO

If London is the undisputed fintech capital of Europe, then Leeds is the fintech capital of the North,” comments Macs Dickinson, lead engineering Manager at LHV UK. “Last year, Leeds was named one of the fastest-growing tech cities according to Digital Economy Council, and the city is already home to more than 30 national and international banks. As the city is a location for the first fintech accelerator outside of London, it is an ideal second base for LHV UK.” 

Wright added: “Leeds presents us with a truly unique opportunity to attract some of the best industry talent. The Leeds tech community is overflowing with talented, forward-thinking and entrepreneurial individuals. We undoubtedly have as much talent here as Silicon Valley, and I want people to be writing about how to get a job at LHV UK, not just Google, as we have fantastic opportunities for software engineers at all stages of their careers. 

“LHV UK is possibly one of the best-kept secrets in Yorkshire right now. Not only is our parent company, LHV Group, listed on the Nasdaq Baltic Stock Exchange with a market cap of over a billion Euros, but we also provide banking services to 20 clients that are fintech unicorns in their own right.

“The decision to find a secondary office to preserve and build on this success wasn’t easy, but I am confident that Leeds is the best place for us to be.” 

  • 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.

This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 26/05

The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup on Thursday includes the latest job moves, partnerships, funding successes and more.

Job moves
Georgina WhalleyGeorgina Whalley
Georgina Whalley

Georgina Whalley has joined Tandem in the newly created senior role of chief impact and marketing officer. She joins Tandem having held senior roles at global consumer fintech Openpay for the past three years, most recently as interim UK CEO. She will lead the strategy and delivery of the bank’s fairer and greener agenda, including driving ESG activities.

Marketplace payment engine Paycast, the second venture of UK based fintech group SPG, has appointed Christian Elson as its head of partnerships. Elson will be responsible for Paycast’s partnerships strategy, and building and maintaining the integral relationships with key global players.

Meanwhile, intelligent hedging platform Bound has unveiled its first chief financial officer – Marita Cavalcanti. Cavalcanti was previously CFO at property technology firm Proportunity, where she will remain a board adviser. London-based Bound also revealed its trading volumes jump by 339 per cent in Q1 2022.

Payoneer, the commerce tech company, appoints John Caplan co-CEO and director alongside current CEO Scott Galit. Galit and Caplan will lead the firm as co-CEOs during a transition period through the end of 2023, when Caplan will take the helm as CEO and Galit will continue in a strategic role.

Cloud8, the digital employee benefits platform provider, has appointed Lorraine Porter as associate non-executive director to join its leadership team. Porter’s appointment follows Cloud8 recently securing £750,000 of venture capital investment in its second round of funding.

job hires

job hires

More job moves

Xceptor, the no-code software platform for data automation, has named Josh Monroe as chief revenue officer. While Ludovic Blanquet is named chief strategy and transformation officer. Blanquet will be based in Xceptor’s London headquarters and Monroe in the New York office.

Mashreq Bank has hired Corey Thompson as the new executive VP and head of digital for its Retail Banking Group. Thompson will manage and execute Mashreq’s digital strategy for the RBG, including its Personal Banking, Mashreq Gold, Private Banking, SMEs, Islamic and Emirati segments.

Meanwhile, Australian fintech Adatree names Sarah Day as its new head of aliances and partner success. She is responsible for the overall growth of the company, customer success and facilitating current and future partnerships at Adatree as it continues to expand with new hires and services.

Ricardo de AlfonsoRicardo de Alfonso
Ricardo de Alfonso joins Finboot

Wealth Club, a UK broker for wealthy and sophisticated clients, appoints Charlie Huggins as head of equities. Huggins is responsible for the roll out of a discretionary share portfolio service, which is due to launch at the end of 2022. He joins from Hargreaves Lansdown where he worked for over 10 years.

Finally, Finboot is expanding its customer facing team with the appointment of Ricardo de Alfonso, a former SEAT executive. He joins Finboot to help further accelerate Finboot’s MARCO platform’s ‘time to value’ for its enterprise customers. The hire also follows Paris Dufrayer as chief revenue officer and Padman Ramankutty has joined its board.

Funding and investments

Coinmarketpedia, the decentralised crypto and blockchain educational platform based in Dubai, has secured a pre-seed fundraising round of $2million. The funds will be aimed at continuously enhancing features, allowing for investments in ecosystem partnerships, onboarding new industry experts, as well as facilitating the development of its platform globally.

Funding Round Up News

Funding Round Up News

Climate tech startup Allinfra raises $6million in series A funding round led by Nomura. The investment will enable the enterprise software developer to scale up its product offering and expand its reach across sectors and regions. The newly secured funding will be used to scale up product development and sales resources for its sustainability data management software.

WSO2, a digital transformation technology firm, has completed its Series E funding round with the addition of RedStart Labs. The move brings the total growth capital raised to $93million. Info Edge joins lead investor Goldman Sachs, which completed the first tranche of the Series E in November 2021.

Previse has closed the first phase of its Series B financing. The UK-based fintech has raised $18million of new capital to expand the availability of its innovative ‘data-driven’ working capital finance solutions, designed for SMEs. The round was led by Tencent.

Meanwhile, Stable, dubbed the ‘home of hedging’ for the $5trillion agricultural commodity industry, has closed a $60million Series B investment. The round is led by Acrew with investors Greycroft, Notion Capital, Syngenta and Continental Grain Company also participating in the round. Acrew’s Vishal Lugani will also join Stable’s board of directors.

Finally, Kapaga, the UK-based cross-border payment platform for SMEs, has secured a £1.5millon funding round led by Target Global. Participation also came from investors Chris Adelsbach, Andreas Mihalovits and Mark Ransford. Kapaga will also be expanding its operations across the EU this summer.


UK-based micro-investment platform Wombat has partnered with Currencycloud to launch its new, free, Instant Investing account. By partnering with Currencycloud and integrating its APIs directly into their app, Wombat is able to offer its customers instant access to popular US stocks and shares by executing instant buy and sell orders with unlimited commission-free trading and low FX rates.

TrueLayer, the European banking platform, has unveiled a collaboration with digital bank Zopa, which has gone live with account-to-account payments for its Smart Saver savings account. TrueLayer says it plans to build on the collaboration with Zopa in the coming months.

Paysafe, a payments platform, has expanded its partnership with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. A new affiliate programme is powered by the affiliate software of Income Access, Paysafe’s marketing technology and services provider, which is also managing the programme.

Meanwhile, allpay has forged a partnership with Payzone. It has added an additional 12,500 stores across the UK where customers can now pay their bills using cash. The payment company already offered cash
collection via both Post Office and PayPoint networks.

partnerships roundup

partnerships roundup

More partnerships

Alviere, the embedded finance platform, has teamed up with Marqeta, the card issuing platform. With Alviere’s expansion across Europe, Marqeta will provide key services to enable the delivery of advanced financial services to customers across Europe and the UK. Alviere will be operating as an Electronic Money Institution and Principal Member Card Issuer across the region.

Cognito has been appointed by PPRO, the digital payments infrastructure provider, to further expand the brand’s profile across the European financial technology market. PPRO is leveraging Cognito’s European offices to develop a strategic, communications campaign to position PPRO as the digital payments partner of choice.

Meanwhile, Mambu, the SaaS cloud banking platform, has been chosen by Kennek, a SaaS lending solution company that supports alternative lenders and credit investors. The partnership aims to help Kennek launch its innovative ‘lender-in-a-box’ offering. A recent Mambu report shows 92 per cent of SMEs globally would consider switching lenders if a competitor offered a better or improved offering.

Company updates 

FOO, a B2B fintech solutions provider in the MENA region, has started to expand to provide fintech solutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After setting up offices in Riyadh as a foreign investment company, FOO will focus on providing solutions for digital bank, central bank digital currency based on blockchain, virtual card issuance and tokenisation and merchant acceptance platforms, all enabled using our EKYC solutions.

PayFuture, the AI-technology payment gateway, has announced triple digit growth since its launch in 2020. It has expanded expanded its reach with more than 50 employees spread across the world, including UK, Dubai and the Philippines.

Cryptocurrency fintech firm Bitfrost has secured a  virtual assets service provider (VASP) with the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC). Now, Bitfrost can provide clients with access to fiat-to-crypto, crypto-to-fiat and crypto-to-crypto OTC transactions worldwide.


Insurtech Lumera has entered an agreement to acquire insurech firm Ai-London. The rationale for Lumera’s acquisition of Ai-London is twofold: it will support the strategic objectives for expanding into new markets and brings substantial additions to Lumera’s technology portfolio.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) payments infrastructure platform Paddle has snapped up subscription metrics firm ProfitWell for $200million in cash and equity. Paddle will integrate ProfitWell’s financial metrics, as well as its pricing and retention software. Following the deal, subscription businesses can plug into Paddle and have their taxes, payments, billing, reporting, retention, and pricing all done for them.

Product launches

Meanwhile, Wirex, a crypto payments company, is expanding the suite of top-up methods on their non-custodial wallet for Indian customers. The addition of this payment option to purchase crypto will make the digital economy more accessible for more than one billion people in India.

Stripe, the financial infrastructure platform for businesses, has released Stripe Apps and the Stripe App Marketplace. Stripe Apps brings an array of tools together, providing a one-stop shop for managing operations with Stripe and its partners.

Revolut Business, the super app with more than 500,000 business customers worldwide, is launching ‘Spend Management’ in the UK, the US and EEA. Spend Management is a new suite of solutions to help CFOs and controllers manage their teams’ spending. The tools are available on both mobile and web for all Revolut Business customers.

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

Small Businesses Are Leveraging Technology Solutions To Overcome the Biggest Barriers to Business

It’s anything but business as usual small businesses operating in the complex markets of today. They face a rising number of difficult challenges, including rapidly changing market conditions, rising costs and ever-changing regulatory standards. Businesses must be agile and quick to respond as such hurdles continue to mount pressure on businesses’ bottom line.

To maintain agility to stay in business, many are increasingly turning to the power of technology.

Open banking has emerged as a powerful solution capable of fuelling fintech innovation for business owners, whilst reimagining the way business owners can utilise their own financial data to help make more informed decisions, prove their financial credibility and run their businesses more effectively.

Growing costs, uncertainties and market fluctuations have small business owners looking for access to capital and partners that can help them drive growth.

The challenges small businesses face and the opportunity presented by open banking was a central theme throughout a new report released by Mastercard. As fintech use among small businesses grows, open banking is leveraging the power of data to address key pain points and tackle critical needs such as faster ways to send and receive payments.

The report analyses the following threats to businesses, and how said businesses are working to overcome them:

  • Rising costs heightening uncertainty and challenges

Keeping up with rising costs is the foremost concern of small business owners as they adapt to new realities, and over eight in 10 of the small business owners surveyed said they’re looking for faster and easier access to capital.

Business credit cards are the most popular way that small business owners are choosing to fund their businesses, followed closely by small business loans. In fact, according to the research, 81 per cent said they are looking for loans that are tailored to their business’s specific needs.

  • An open door for technology to help small business operations

Despite mounting challenges, small business owners also see the opportunity to grow and are looking for key partners to help them.

As they increasingly embrace technology solutions to help them manage their core operations, this adoption is opening the door for a new wave of innovation that will power their financial experiences, and ultimately their growth.

Ninety-five per cent of small business owners consider themselves heavy fintech users, creating a wealth of data that can be leveraged for financial solutions unique to their needs.

Open banking adoption is high among small business owners too, with 96 per cent currently linking financial accounts to third-party apps for critical financial tasks, including banking, billing/invoicing, paying bills, accounting and receiving payments.

Even more importantly, small business owners are also recognising the opportunity of open banking and how data can be used to better manage and grow their businesses. The research found that 88 per cent are using data to better manage their business finances, and 85 per cent want to see customised financial recommendations for their business by using their data.

Small business owners recognise the unique opportunity presented by the use of data, and according to the report, the number one reason they’re leaning into open banking is to improve their decision-making process, followed by saving time and effort. Additionally, 85 oper cent need a consolidated place to monitor the financial health of their business.

Business owners continue to look beyond operations as they embrace open banking, with nearly nine in 10 accepting digital payments from customers, and nearly the same number are using open banking-backed methods to accept payments. They cite the speed of digital payments, available cash flow, and secure, personalised transactions as the big benefits of using these payment methods.

  • Increasing cybersecurity and rising threats

Now more than ever, having a digital presence is critical for small businesses, however that also means an increased need for cyber protection. Mastercard’s report explores the digital vulnerabilities that come with small business growth and the need for partners that can help them better tackle these threats.

The top areas where small business owners are open to exploring new options include cybersecurity, data analytics, and inventory management.

Three in four have digital solutions currently, but these measures are largely limited to basic solutions like antivirus software and firewalls. The research found that 66 per cent have experienced at least one digital security threat, and current efforts to combat threats are largely reactionary to these instances.

Still, many are considering security more broadly, with 57 per cent saying purchasing digital security solutions is a personal priority as a business owner whilst half said that it’s essential to their business. But as security adoption grows, optimisation is key, as 85 per cent would prefer to purchase digital security solutions in a bundle or package.

Financial technology is changing the way small businesses pay and get paid digitally, and ushering in a new era of choice, simplicity and personalisation.

By embracing open banking and digital cybersecurity solutions, financial institutions and fintech innovators can provide new and improved solutions tailored to small business owners that turn their challenges into opportunities for growth.

  • 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.

Yabx: Mapping the Transformation of the Digital Lending Landscape Powered by AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has permeated the landscape of most sectors. Most businesses and sectors have been on their toes due to constant changes in today’s markets, and the financial industry is no exception.

The lending sector is constantly changing due to digitisation and evolving client expectations. The processes that form the framework of digital lending, such as customer lead management, customer onboarding and underwriting, customer relationship management, and collections, are increasingly embracing the pure-play approach to digital operability. Much credit needs to go to AI for the reorientation of users towards the proffered digital dimension from the traditional procedure.

George Thekkekara, chief risk officer at YabxGeorge Thekkekara, chief risk officer at Yabx
George Thekkekara, chief risk officer at Yabx

George Thekkekara is the chief risk officer at Yabx, a fintech aiming to simplify financial access to over two billion unbanked people in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia, and Latin America using the mobile phone device.

With an ambition to democratise such access, Yabx aspires to provide financial services to the under-served. Yabx uses technology and analytics to reduce the cost of delivering financial services, thereby bringing banking to the unbanked. 

Speaking to The Fintech Times, Thekkekara analysed the impact of AI on the lending industry:

Mapping the scope of AI’s serviceability within the lending ecosystem

The applicability of AI and ML: The purchase experiences of customers for credit facilities have evolved substantially over time. Customers who are online the entire day leave a large behavioural imprint on the digital assets of lenders or their affiliates. AI and its subset, machine learning (ML), can assist lenders in understanding the customer behaviour better while predicting possible business outcomes related to risk underwriting, fraud patterns, product uptake and usage, and the user’s loyalty to the franchise. These predictions can provide insight into the creditworthiness and the customer’s lifetime value. A host of algorithms can be simulated to identify these behaviours. It includes both tried and tested methods like logistic regression and novel approaches using tree-based ML algorithms (random forest, gradient boosted trees), and graph-based network analysis, which are handy in identifying collusion.

Sales and prospect targeting: By leveraging traditional and alternate data sections like clickstream data, search data, and other records that include wallets, telecom, e-commerce, and utilities, AI can predict the objective of a customer’s purchase. Based on the results, users may be classified as ‘must reach’, ‘require more effort’, or ‘not interested’. There may be other categories depending on the needs of lending institutions. Based on his categorisation, lenders can reach out to more prospects in a focused manner, particularly at a very early point in the sales funnel relationship.

Leveraging NLP for a complete customer view: Pertinent questioning can gauge customer requirements. Through exploration, a perspective is framed, and discernment becomes very easy to make a decision. The use of the resourceful branch of AI known as natural language processing, or NLP, aids in recognising various data points, including the assessment of language and tone to evaluate credit risk. In business loans, NLP may be used to assess attitude and entrepreneurial acumen. In the same way, it may flag data that doesn’t make sense and send it to be reviewed further. It can also be used to include nuanced factors such as the sentiment of the borrower throughout the loan treatment plan.

All-embracing credit scoring: AI uses alternative credit scoring mechanisms to help create more inclusion within the lending landscape. To calculate a credit risk score for a consumer, AI can leverage 300–400 data points from their behaviour, financial history, and income tax history, among other activities. In the past, lenders used financial and other data to make loan decisions. Through the use of AI, lenders have a better competitive advantage as it can help them grow their loan books by analysing structured as well as unstructured data. Lenders can use alternate credit scores to contact existing clients to market a pre-approved loan product or contact new leads. This ensures a better and more inclusive credit ladder where smaller ticket and short-tenure loans are leveraged alongside larger ticket instalments.

The future of AI and digital lending

Trust isn’t built overnight, but the gradual experimentation has ensured that AI and its associated technologies have accrued the faith of many, especially in the digital lending space. They not only process data quickly, but they also do it with higher precision and without prejudice. This makes them a valuable asset in the financial services business, particularly in lending, where millions of applications are received but cannot be processed owing to human bias, resource constraints, and mistakes. AI. is surely capacitating the scope and driving the expansion of efficacy within digital lending through its subset technologies like ML, NLP, and natural language understanding.

Digital Distribution On New-Age Insurance Exchanges

Investors are sharpening their focus on digital marketplaces that generate business for incumbent carriers. Building a successful marketplace in insurance is far from trivial – significant friction exists, and a critical mass is needed for the network effects to be valuable to participants. On the one hand, owning the customer relationship is crucial. On the other, the problems of unserviceable customers and poor experiences become amplified manifold in digital distribution. It has never been as important to offer more efficient, accessible, and bindable policies online.

Companies are finding new means to unlock the next generation of embedded insurance, setting up platforms on which future insurance products can be scaled.  These insurtechs are providing an insurance exchange that connects insurers, distributors, and customers to buy and sell different insurance and protection products. Consequently, its a cinch for clients to offer financial products outside their area of specialization by partnering with other providers. Non-insurance companies can provide insurance coverage for their customers. All can access a large user base of potential customers, who can choose from a wide range of financial products, making it easier to buy insurance.

Major insurers are joining new digital exchanges to sell not only their own policies but also those of rivals. These powerful new platforms, including Semsee, bolttech, Bold Penguin and Uncharted, pull data from many carriers, allowing agents to see multiple quotes for policies. Chubb, Travelers and Liberty Mutual have signed on, as have agencies that sell policies.

Bolttech’s exchange, having amassed over $5bn in annual premiums from 150 carriers across 5,000+ product-market combinations, is an example. This year, it became Asia’s latest insurtech unicorn with 7.7 million customers across Asia, North America and Europe. It acquired Europe-based i-surance, a B2B2C digital insurance platform, as part of its international growth strategy. This deal followed the close of an $180 million Series-A funding round. Bolttech offers innovative device protection and other digital products across Asia.

For device protection, bolttech developed Click-to-Protect, a remote diagnostics tool. Using artificial intelligence and computer vision, it can diagnose the condition of any mobile device before confirming eligibility for coverage. Its global innovation team is now building in enhanced capabilities such as fraud detection via optical character recognition plus a new Click-to-Protect offering for smart watches. Click-to-Protect is currently available across multiple markets, including Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, the Philippines and South Korea.

Singapore-based Uncharted is an ecosystem of carriers, MGAs, brokers and partners. Its insurance platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) powers embedded distribution and servicing solutions for a global marketplace. With any product-channel combination, it can be deployed in any market in a matter of weeks. Uncharted iPaaS offers a unique and configurable stack of core insurance services, each addressing key customer experience touchpoints and enabling a digitized end-to-end insurance process for insurance distributors and underwriters.

Partnering with best-of-breed technologies, the iPaaS comes integrated with payment gateways (Stripe), CRM (Salesforce), data analytics (Google) and omnichannel servicing (Zendesk). Using transactional and conversational data from core policy, pricing and claims, clients optimize and tread the balance between customer experience and portfolio management across its global digital portfolio.

The growth of digital distribution represents a shift in how insurers compete in markets for personal coverage as well as business and commercial lines worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually. A company that writes policies for autos but not homes can use such exchanges to offer homeowner coverage from other carriers, pre-empting customers from shopping elsewhere. The auto-policy company earns a sales commission on the homeowners policy while the other insurer gets the premium revenue. While exchanges bring more customers, they also pose a threat by allowing smaller insurers with specialized policies to reach a large market, clearly a risk for big insurers.

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4 Reasons to be Optimistic about Fintech Right Now

We’ve seen some bad news in the tech sector lately. YCombinator is asking its portfolio founders to “plan for the worst” and prepare for a downturn and Klarna is laying off 10% of its employees. Headlines such as, “Tech’s High-Flying Startup Scene Gets a Crushing Reality Check” aren’t helping consumer or investor sentiment, either. It can be tough to remain optimistic.

The good news is that the fintech industry is resilient. So amid the recent onslaught of disheartening news, here are four reasons you can be optimistic about fintech right now.

DeFi is promising

Fintech’s future is bright, and one shining light is decentralized finance (DeFi). It’s hard to know the exact implications DeFi will have on banks, fintechs, and other traditional financial (TradFi) organizations.

However, it’s clear that decentralizing traditional operations such as money transfers and loans will make a more efficient financial system. What’s more, DeFi is poised to help the 1.7 billion unbanked individuals across the globe benefit from financial services they’ve previously never had access to.

The best innovations are born when times get tough

It’s true that necessity is the mother of invention. Whether it’s an economic downturn, a pandemic, or a crisis in a different form, difficult times have proven to motivate people to develop creative solutions. This can be seen in countless examples from the COVID Recession of 2020. After the COVID pandemic hit, businesses were forced to figure out a way to convert their offering or service into the digital channel. In fact, many fintech companies grew while firms in other sectors were forced to make major cuts.

With new crises come new issues, and new problems that businesses and consumers need help solving. A bear market or an economic downturn would be no different; the best innovations are yet to come.

Still room for improvement

Because the fintech industry is relatively nascent, many of the problems the industry set out to solve still exist. In a piece we published earlier this month titled, “Has Fintech Failed?” we took a look at all of the ways fintech is failing to help consumers and businesses. As a few examples, underbanked populations are still lacking quality financial solutions, there are no open banking mandates in the U.S., fraud is rampant, and digital identity is flawed. The good news is that this leaves a lot of room for improvement, and therefore a lot of room for new competitors.

Fintech is here for a reason

When all is said and done, fintech is made to help individuals and businesses better manage their finances and more easily access financial services. Because money is not an optional tool for survival in the modern economy, financial services companies have a unique ability to help others through a recession or slowdown in their own industry. This pervasiveness makes for endless opportunities for banks, fintechs, and DeFi alike.

The fintech industry is not just here to serve financial services organizations, but rather to help people in this world that need financial services the most. That’s why we’re here, and it’s certainly something to be optimistic about.

Photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash

Powwi to Implement BPC’s SmartVista Suite to Manage Transactional Service Requirements for Customers

BPC, the digital payments provider, has announced a strategic partnership with Powwi, licensed as a deposit-taking institution (Sociedad Especializada en Depósitos y Pagos Electrónicos – SEDPE), one of Colombia’s most successful payment companies and a champion of financial inclusion.

Under the terms of the five-year agreement, Powwi will implement BPC’s SmartVista suite to manage the transactional service requirements for its customers and to help drive growth across the country.

Used by over 350 financial institutions across 100 countries, SmartVista Platform offers a selection of modules which can be used as micro services to deliver full end-to-end banking and payment experience or as a standalone.

Powwi will implement the platform to deliver a superior, faster and relevant experience to their customers in a safe and convenient way. BPC’s SmartVista will drive internet and mobile devices, offering vital, real-time banking services such as balances and account information, fund transfers, bill payments, payment of services. It will also simplify the ability to open online accounts for transactions with a complete digital security scheme.

“We are honoured to have been selected as the issuing processor provider for all of Powwi’s debit and prepaid cards,” said Juliana Peña, VP sales Andean region of BPC. “Our five-year alliance will allow us to work closely with Powwi, one of the most innovative digital financial wallets in the region and an impressive force for good. The company launched with an ambition to make it possible for anyone to make their digital payments, including the unbanked. Together we can help Powwi to achieve this goal and more – and we are proud to do so with the assistance of a fantastic team on the ground.”

Established in 2017, Powwi rose to prominence by focusing on promoting greater financial inclusion through fintech payments innovation. Its banking technology was created to serve the unbanked population in Colombia through simple, easy-to-access services with smart mobile payment features and virtual wallets.

According to Luisa Fernanda Cárdenas Sánchez, president at Powwi, this alliance represents an opportunity to expand the paytech’s service offering to its broad consumer base in Colombia and to also enhance the prosperity of society. “Financial inclusion is a key driver for the country’s economic growth and has significant effects in the overall development of those that cannot access basic banking services. With BPC’s platform, Powwi can do more to close the wealth gap and offer better and more convenient services for all. “

She added “BPC will support and enable next-generation payment services for our digital debit and prepaid cards, branded Visa or Mastercard. In addition, it will manage the processing of all national and international transactions, as well as enable effective fraud management with the SmartVista Fraud Management suite, which provides all the necessary digital security features to mitigate risk and to ensure the successful use of our services across the country”.

Powwi promotes financial inclusion under an end-to-end digital strategy, offering loans and savings to a vast population that still does not have access to formal financial services. It achieves this business goal by leveraging an innovative aggregator model that widens its network of companies, nonprofits and microfinance institutions, from cooperatives and residential complexes to credit originators and compensation fund providers. Together these players are used as a channel to disburse small loans and support bank account services for Powwi customers, who are also granted debit and prepaid cards issued by Visa and Mastercard.

“With this alliance Powwi will have access to our highly experienced team,” added Peña from BPC. “Together we will achieve implementation agility and support during the entire project. We will also offer economic flexibility and our expert knowledge of banking regulation in the Colombian market. This will help to speed up deployment in the digital economy so that Powwi can continue its amazing work across the country.”

Latin America is one of the regions with the fastest growing number of internet users in the world. By the end of 2022 nearly 76 per cent, of the continent’s population will be online, according to Internet World Stats; In Colombia, out of the 51.39 million inhabitants that make up the country, 35.50 million are Internet users, with broadband connectivity reaching nearly 70 per cent of the nation.

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

Issue #365 – What If Competition Rises?

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How 3 FIs are leveraging Amazon Web Services to improve business

Financial institutions are leveraging Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to improve operations and customer experience. FIs are deploying tools for facial recognition, natural language processing and customer interactions, Alvin Huang, a capital markets specialist in business development and financial services at AWS, said Tuesday during the AWS Financial […]

Finovate Best of Show Winner Chimney Inks Partnerships with a Pair of U.S. Banks
  • Chimney announced partnerships with two banks, Farmers & Merchants Bank and Northwest Bank, that will deploy Chimney’s embeddable financial tools to boost customer engagement.
  • Formerly known as Signal Intent, Chimney won Best of Show at FinovateSpring in 2021.
  • Courtesy of this week’s agreements, Chimney now boasts a total of 15 bank partnerships.

In a bid to boost customer engagement, Farmers & Merchants Bank and Northwest Bank have teamed up with Chimney and will deploy the New York-based company’s financial calculators to help their customers make better decisions about their financial futures.

“In the last two years, we’ve seen greater investments into digital experiences that put customers first,” Chimney co-founder and CEO Matthew Covi said. “Consumers no longer want to be pushed products and services; they want experiences that add value to their everyday life and improve their financial health.”

Previously known as Signal Intent – and winning a Best of Show award in its Finovate debut a year ago at the all-digital edition of FinovateSpring 2021 – Chimney offers embeddable modern financial calculators that can be launched quickly and require no coding to set up and deploy. Chimney has developed more than 35 financial calculator templates, covering a variety of financial categories. Whether a business is looking for tools to better engage homebuyers, automobile shoppers, or simply consumers looking to improve their investment portfolios or savings and budgeting habits, Chimney provides organization with the kind of embedded turnkey digital experiences that help turn website visitors into customers.

“F&M Bank has grown slowly and safely since 1907, earning its reputation as ‘California’s Strongest,’” F&M Bank CEO and board chairman Daniel K. Walker said. “We have supported the communities we call home for more than 100 years, and we aim to continue that. By working with Chimney, we will build deeper relationships with customers by transforming and personalizing their banking experience with the help of meaningful data. We believe this will be incredibly valuable to our customers.”

F&M Bank serves customers in South California and has more than $11 billion in assets. Iowa-based Northwest Bank has 70,000 customers and $2.3 billion in assets.

Chimney began 2022 with a pre-seed investment from the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator and a seed investment from Anil D. Aggarwal, founder and chairman of Fintech Meetup, as well as Fin Venture Capital and Converge. The company rebranded as Chimney in February, in a shift that Covi said reflected a commitment to move beyond “providing outstanding products and services” and toward “delivering not just the products consumers want, but the experiences they expect.”

Photo by Pixabay

Bryce Elliott, Truist CIO, joins Bank Automation Summit Fall speaker faculty

Bryce Elliott, Truist’s chief information officer for wholesale and enterprise payments, will join the panel “In the Air: How to Develop for the Cloud in Order to Enable Technology Strategy” on Monday, Sept. 19, at 10 a.m. UTC at Bank Automation Summit Fall 2022. The summit will be held Sept. 19-20 at the Hyatt Olive […]

Transactions: Scienaptic AI, Teslar Software continue run of community bank wins

Swiss core provider Temenos will upgrade digital banking at Canadian Tire Bank, the companies announced Wednesday.   Temenos, one of the world’s largest core providers, will enhance account opening and buy now pay later (BNPL) capabilities for the $6 billion Oakville, Ontario-based bank, whose customer base clears 2 million customers.  Canadian Tire Bank selected Temenos over […]

Stripe Unveils App Marketplace
  • Stripe is launching the Stripe App Marketplace.
  • The company’s business customers will be able to browse the new digital store to find and integrate third party apps into their own operations.
  • Businesses will be able to develop and launch their own custom apps within their own company.

Ecommerce technology company Stripe launched an offering that will help businesses tap the technology from third parties to enhance their own offerings. The new launch, the Stripe App Marketplace, is a digital store where businesses can browse popular third-party tools.

Integrating third party tools into their own solution enables businesses to customize Stripe. Adding multiple operations under their Stripe account also enables businesses to automatically share contextual information across apps.

As Mailchimp Chief Product and Design Officer Jon Fasoli explained, “Let’s say, for example, a business owner wants to automate a targeted message when a customer makes a purchase, sending them a specific discount offer to encourage repeat purchases. The Mailchimp app automatically syncs this customer’s information between Stripe and Mailchimp, streamlining their operations and saving them time.”

Mailchimp is one of more than 50 app providers that are launching in the Stripe App Marketplace. Others include DocuSign, Dropbox, Intercom, Mailchimp, Ramp, and Xero. Stripe plans to add apps from more third party providers in the future.

The marketplace isn’t just limited to third party providers. Businesses can enlist their own developers to create custom apps within the Stripe App Marketplace to use within their company.

​​”With Stripe Apps, businesses can customize Stripe with their SaaS tools to best serve their customers,” said Stripe Apps Head of Product Bowen Pan. “We’re excited for this new chapter and can’t wait to see the ingenuity of all the apps that developers will build in the months and years ahead.”

Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash

Spotlight: The Driving Forces of Global Regtech Adoption

The 2008 financial crisis repositioned the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry forever, sowing the seed for massive regulatory renovation and increased compliance costs. Following the crash, regulators have been quicker to catch up to firms that have failed to comply with the more stringent regulatory landscape; which has driven more companies to invest more heavily in regtech solutions. 

Throughout the entire month of May, The Fintech Times has dedicated its focus to highlighting the most current developments in this ever-perplexing and constantly-changing sector. We’ve explored which regulations are expected to have the biggest impact, areas where regulation is falling behind, as well as how regtech translates into the likes of embedded finance and open banking.

According to the data of Verified Market Research, the global regtech market size was valued at $15.68billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $87.17billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 23.92 per cent in the space of seven years.

Considering a smaller time frame, data also suggests that the global regtech market size will grow by $7.6billion in 2021 to $19.5billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 20.8 per cent during this period.

In a similar light, a study from Juniper Research suggested that the amount being invested in the sector will reach $76.3billion in 2022; and that total spending is forecast to grow 48 per cent per annum.

The growing global regtech market

Increased attention on financial regulations, increased adoption of advanced technology, and rapid expansion in collaboration between national regulators and financial institutions are thought to be some of the major drivers of the heighten regtech adoption the industry is seeing now.

Financial oversight is becoming increasingly data-driven, with regulators requesting data with greater depth and regularity. The sort of data required to assess compliance with most prudential rules, which are often quantitative and must be of high quality: structured, well-defined, accurate, and thorough.

Furthermore, banks have made, and continue to make, significant investments in the data and analytical IT solutions that are required. As a result, there is a rise in demand for regtech solutions for financial services, which is propelling the market forward.

On top of these factors, the increased number of fines imposed on large financial institutions, as well as incidents of money laundering and fraud involving respected firms, are driving up the demand for appropriate regtech solutions.

Regulators are keeping a tight eye on the entire industry, and have imposed more than $300billion in fines and penalties on the financial industry since the crash of 2008. Therefore reporting requirements and transparency are more important than ever for businesses to maintain compliance.

APAC is the fastest-growing region in the regtech market

The Asia Pacific (APAC) is home to many developing economies, and many countries in this region are adopting new technologies to comply with procedures for increasing the efficiency of financial systems.

The key countries involved in the movement include Australia, Japan, Singapore, India, China and New Zealand.

APAC is expected to witness the fast-paced adoption of regtech software and is estimated to be the world’s fastest-growing regtech market owing to the rise in the adoption of new technologies, high investments for digital transformation, the rapid expansion of domestic enterprises, extensive development of infrastructures, and increasing GDP of various countries.

Various industry developments 

Back in March 2020, MetricStream established its presence to help the company develop faster in Australia and New Zealand. This business development provided MetricStream with access to the rapidly increasing Asian market, leveraging its governance, risk and compliance (GRC) products and solutions to serve Asian clientele.

Then in April 2021, IBM announced a definitive agreement to acquire the Boston-based application resource management (ARM) and network performance management (NPM) software provider Turbonomic. The acquisition provided enterprises with complete stack application observability and management, allowing them to ensure performance and cut costs by utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to optimise resources including containers, virtual machines, servers, storage, networks and databases.

More recently in November 2021, the regulatory reporting firm Point Nine partnered with FIS to focus on the provision of trade and transaction reporting services to legal entities across the globe.

Latest trends

With the supporting technology developing just as fast as the financial industry itself, certain trends have risen to prominence this year, including the increased incorporation of contemporary solutions such as AI and machine learning.

Tomek Mlodzki, CEO and co-founder of the ID verification company PhotoAiDTomek Mlodzki, CEO and co-founder of the ID verification company PhotoAiD
Tomek Mlodzki

Here, Tomek Mlodzki, CEO and co-founder of the ID verification company PhotoAiD, details what he believes to be the biggest trends that are currently at work within the industry: One of the most notable is the increasing adoption of AI and machine learning within regulatory compliance. This is allowing businesses to automate various compliance tasks, including report generation and monitoring for early signs of non-compliance.

“Another significant trend is the growing use of big data within regtech. This is providing businesses with new insights into their compliance risks by uncovering previously hidden patterns and correlations. This, in turn, is helping organisations to devise more effective compliance strategies and procedures.

“Finally, there is an increasing focus on collaborative solutions within the regtech space. This includes platform-based solutions that allow multiple organisations to share data with one another.”

Adding to these initial thoughts, Shiran Weitzman, CEO and co-founder of Shield, considers how regtech is now finding itself incorporated into the wider use of communication channels; being a particularly topical area given the rise of remote working teams.

Shiran Weitzman, CEO and co-founder of ShieldShiran Weitzman, CEO and co-founder of Shield
Shiran Weitzman

Weitzman comments: “Today, across regulated industries, there are millions of human digital interactions every second. Communication channels, like Zoom, WhatsApp, Slack and more are now an integral part of the new workplace, but, with the proliferation of these electronics channels, we’ve seen a new wave of regulatory and compliance concerns that global institutions must address immediately.

“While banks and financial institutions never would have considered these communication channels pre-pandemic, they’ve become a part of our everyday company interactions, which, unfortunately, has led to a rise in harassment, bullying and other forms of toxicity in the workplace, while financial regulator requirements are being updated to maintain market transparency, integrality and investor protection.

“Some of the world’s largest institutions are even facing potential billions in combined fines because employees were using apps like WhatsApp. In today’s hybrid world especially, it is essential that the right technological solutions are put into place to regulate and monitor employee interactions globally, across regulated institutions.

“Regulation requires documentation, no matter if the employee is performing a nefarious activity or not. A historically manual process, today’s most advanced solutions employ current monitoring technology that uses AI, machine learning and other technological solutions to automatically capture, archive and provide surveillance over the communication channels that have become especially relied upon in remote and hybrid work environments.

“Modern employee communication channels have created massive operational, data, risk, conduct and compliance challenges, so institutions must ensure their compliance and regulation technology adapts along with the electronic communications tools that are being used.”

  • 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.

African Tech Firm, EdTech Network and Incubator Come Together to Launch 5G Tech Spaces Across Africa

New Cameroon business incubator signs up with Pan-African tech firm and Finnish education technology network to spread 5G tech spaces across the African continent.

The recently launched Cameroon-based Boris Bison Youth Empowerment Business Incubator (BB Incubator), the Pan-African video game publishing company Ludique Works and the Finnish technology learning accelerator network Start North are to jointly introduce their technologically advanced learning environments, the ‘5G Mokki Tech Spaces’, across the African continent.

BB Incubator provides office facilities, computer equipment services, internet connectivity, entrepreneurial training and business advisory services to local startup companies and developing entrepreneurs.

The 5G Mokki Tech Spaces are a high-tech learning and communication environment in the shape of a small cottage.

The name ‘Mokki’ comes from the Finnish word ‘mökki’, which translates into ‘cottage’. The cottage enables innovative uses of 5G mobile communication technology.

In the case of the BB Incubator and its startups, it can be used, among other things, to develop software applications that require ultra-fast internet connections, to render immersive, 3D virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) learning experiences, as well as to deliver innovative services and remote work to corporations around the globe.

Compared to the technology standards preceding it, 5G wireless communication technology will enable data connections that are faster on mobile devices when compared to the fastest fixed broadband services; with its true potential capable of enabling entirely new categories of applications.

Powerhouse potential

With its natural resources, young population and growing markets, Africa has the potential to become a productivity powerhouse. Given Europe’s and Africa’s overlapping timezones, European corporations could find access to technologically skilled labour and services from Africa via high-touch, 5G-enabled remote connections in real-time.

Developed by Start North, the 5G Mokki Tech Spaces aim to provide the technology that enables advanced learning environments with remote connectivity, as well as to offer learning solution content, starting in the fields of technology and entrepreneurship.

As part of a collaboration programme between Start North and Ludique Works in Africa, over 250 young people from across the continent applied for the 5G Summer School. More than 60 participants successfully completed the programme with a number of them earning European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits.

Tapping into Africa’s talent

At the launch event of the 5G Mökki network at Häme University in Finland, in October 2021, Dr Mark Nelson, founder and director of innovation at the Stanford Peace Innovation Lab, drew parallels between the high-tech cottage, the invention of the microscope in biology and the telescope in space research, allowing the exploration of social interaction and society without people having to travel from one place to another.

Without innovative approaches to training and job creation, traditional degree-based education falls short of creating sufficient employment opportunities. To illustrate this point, approximately half a million students graduate from Cameroon’s universities every year, but only some three thousand of these graduates tend to find employment. Cameroon is no exception in Africa.

The expansion of the 5G Mokki Tech Spaces network in Africa is in part facilitated by financial instruments developed jointly by the African Union and the European Union, aimed at improving connectivity, know-how, and sustainable social and economic development.

The 5G Mokki Tech Spaces network provides an opportunity for international corporations to tap into highly skilled, young African talent, not only to render remote work but also to spur innovation. Companies can, for example, submit a technology challenge to one of the 5G Mökki Summer Schools, or assign a fully-fledged development project.

Boris Ngala, founder and CEO of BB IncubatorBoris Ngala, founder and CEO of BB Incubator
Boris Ngala

Boris Ngala, founder and CEO of BB Incubator and one of the co-founders of the 5G Mokki Tech Space network, said: “Our aim is a Pan-African tech space network that connects the African continent to Europe and the rest of the world, promoting the learning and adoption of technology, remote work, and entrepreneurship.

“In addition to promoting education, jobs, and the economic development of the regions, the network also aims to curb climate change by utilising the latest technology.”

Douglas Ogeto, co-founder and CEO of Ludique Works and one of the co-founders of the 5G Mokki Tech Space network, added: “The 5G Mokki Tech Space network has the ability to serve international and local companies, to provide creative-economy and technology-based jobs and promote entrepreneurship based on the learning of the latest technology and hands-on projects that serve local conditions.

“Furthermore, this is supported by an extensive national and international collaboration with universities and companies.”

  • 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.

Going Full Circle: Why Business Leaders Need a 360 View to Gain a Competitive Edge

This is a sponsored post by Ann Kuelzow, Global Head of Financial services at InterSystems.

Amid ongoing disruption, sudden market changes, and unforeseen circumstances, the ability to leverage live data and gain a 360-degree view of the enterprise is vital for financial services firms to gain much-needed resilience and agility. However, for many organizations, a number of data-related issues currently stand in their way.

Research from InterSystems has found that the biggest data challenge firms are facing is delayed access to data. This is followed by not being able to get data from all the required sources, and not getting it in the format needed. Meanwhile, line of business professionals also cite a reliance on IT teams to analyze and turn data into actionable insights as a key frustration.

Getting to the root cause

The majority of these concerns are likely to stem from organizations having amassed overly complex data infrastructures that rely on a disjointed set of production applications and data management technologies. This has resulted in the creation of a large number of data and application silos which make it difficult to obtain information and insights in a timely manner, and in a way that is easy to interpret and share. This is evidenced by 98% of respondents reporting that there are data and application silos within their organization.

The impact is significant, hindering their ability to gain accurate and current visibility of their distributed data assets to further vital initiatives such as business 360, improving enterprise risk and liquidity management, and data-driven decision-making, for example. Furthermore, more than a third of line of business professionals say they are basing decisions on assumptions rather than real-time information. Meanwhile, an overwhelming 86% of global financial services institutions lack confidence in using their data to drive decision-making.

This has major implications for both financial services organizations and their customers and requires solutions that enable firms to gain access to consistent, accurate, real-time data to enable them to leverage live data and power their critical business initiatives. This is where new, modern approaches to data management, including smart data fabrics, are primed to help.

More diverse data, for better insights

The smart data fabric, a new architectural approach, provides an overarching and nondisruptive layer that connects and accesses information from source systems on demand. It accesses and harmonizes data from existing systems and silos inside and outside the organization, ensuring that the information is both current and accurate. Together, this helps to eliminate delays which lead to errors, missed opportunities, and decisions based on stale or incomplete data.

With so much data at their disposal, using a smart data fabric allows financial services firms to incorporate both real-time event and transactional data along with historical data. Doing so provides business users with self-service analytics capabilities, enabling line of business professionals to make “in the moment” decisions. By incorporating more data from more diverse sources, firms can obtain a more complete and comprehensive view of the business and more insightful analytics.

This approach also addresses limitations of previous approaches, such as data lakes, data warehouses, static reports, and dashboards, while allowing firms to maximize their previous technology investments, rather than needing to “rip and replace.”

Empowered by a 360-degree view

Together, the capabilities provided by a smart data fabric will help firms overcome the issues they have identified by giving them access to a consistent, accurate, real-time view of their enterprise data assets. This will enable them to gain better insights and leverage live data to drive decision making.

With a truly comprehensive 360-degree view of the enterprise, including trading activity, customers, regions, risk, capital, and assets under management, firms will be better placed to respond to growth opportunities, address challenges in an agile manner, and make more informed, accurate business decisions.

By obtaining near real-time visibility across various departments and regions, firms will be able to improve various aspects of the business, from their understanding of market risk and risk reporting, to cash flow and regulatory compliance. Additionally, they will not only be able to gain a complete, 360-degree of the business, but will also be able to establish a comprehensive view of customer and institutional client activity to fuel a wide range of initiatives.

Data as a competitive differentiator

As financial services firms look to address their data challenges, a smart data fabric approach will help to ensure their concerns around outdated, inconsistent, and inaccurate data become a thing of the past. It will also help to restore confidence in using data to drive decision making and arm them with the critical insights needed to retain, support, and grow their client base, gain better visibility for risk management, and adapt to changes and disruptive events in the moment.

Amid ongoing disruption, sudden market changes, and unforeseen circumstances, this 360-degree view of the enterprise and ability to access and utilize real-time data will give them the resilience and agility needed to weather any storms that may arise and gain a true competitive advantage.

Find out more about InterSystems and their recent survey into the biggest technology and data challenges their organizations face >>

Mastercard To Facilitate the Launch of Sokin’s Card Programme Across the Middle East and Africa

Sokin has come together with Mastercard to connect consumers across 39 new markets to more open and transparent payment services; eliminating barriers that have historically hindered access and financial inclusion.

The fintech payment firm signed a multi-year agreement with Mastercard to support the rollout of its fixed-price payment services across the markets of the Middle East and Africa.

Sokin will leverage Mastercard’s digital-first banking solutions and card services to expand its footprint and launch its card programmes for businesses and consumers.

Sokin’s card programme will be available in 39 countries in the Middle East and Africa, including Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Nigeria and South Africa.

Mastercard will collaborate with Sokin to offer solutions to the 35 million migrant workers currently active in the region, whilst also supporting those who regularly transfer and receive money around the world.

Sokin is hoping to transform the region’s financial services landscape on a local scale by providing its 578 million population with an alternative to traditional banking services.

Kaushik Sthankiya, chief commercial officer at SokinKaushik Sthankiya, chief commercial officer at Sokin
Kaushik Sthankiya

“The obstacles to accessing opportunities in the global payments ecosystem have resulted in the exclusion of millions of people that are unable to easily, and instantly, make essential payments and transfers,” said Kaushik Sthankiya, chief commercial officer at Sokin.

“We’ve launched this progressive partnership with Mastercard to boost financial inclusion, helping our customers to access a wider range of financial service products across different markets, and we’re excited to provide digital payment solutions to people in the Middle East and Africa.”

This year, Sokin will start to offer consumers in 39 countries unlimited international money transfers and payments with no mark-up on transactions or hidden fees.

Its proprietary technology facilitates the process within its peer-to-peer mobile app. Customers are able to access a large portfolio of currencies via an app interface which remains the same – no matter the user’s location – and is accessible in five languages; including French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President Market Development, Mastercard, MEAAmnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President Market Development, Mastercard, MEA
Amnah Ajmal

“As the partner of choice for fintechs around the globe, we are proud to support Sokin’s expansion to the diverse markets in the Middle East and Africa, connecting its people to global payment solutions in a digital-first, transparent and safe way,” said Amnah Ajmal, executive VP of market development for EEMEA at Mastercard.

“By combining Mastercard’s trusted and secure solutions with Sokin’s innovative services, consumers will be able to benefit from wider choice and greater convenience.”

The collaboration is an extension of existing agreements previously announced in the UK, Europe, South Asia, Singapore, Latin America, Mexico and Brazil, to help consumers make transactions on their own terms.

  • 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.

UK Fintech News Roundup: The Latest Stories 25/05

Every Wednesday, we delve into the latest fintech updates from across the UK. This week we look into the impact of Eastern European conflict on UK business plans; while debt collection takes a digital approach. 

Ukrainian conflict affects UK business expansion

Ukraine Flag Shard

Ukraine Flag Shard

Proactis, which offers software solutions for digital trade, has released research that highlights the impact the Russo-Ukrainian war has had on UK business plans. 

The Proactis eRecovery Report shows that 19 per cent of major UK businesses had expected or planned to expand into at least one of Central and Eastern Europe prior to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The study outlines how the impact of this disruption in Eastern Europe will force UK businesses to change their plans to instead explore expansion elsewhere in the world. 

CEO of Proactis, Tim Sykes, said: “There is a sense of positivity about international trade, but while UK firms continue to seek out expansion opportunities, the one in five that were considering Eastern Europe as a prospective market will now have to look elsewhere.”

Online gambling guide opens for Irish users

Celebrating Gambling

Celebrating Gambling

CasinoAlpha Ireland has now officially launched. The database contains a selection of various online casinos; all of which are licenced by the Irish Revenue Commissioners as well as other regulatory bodies including the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority

The aim of the company is to ensure players are able to access the information that will allow them to make better financial decisions when gambling. Its website contains both an ‘education’ and ‘blog’ tab. The first of these tries to raise gambling addiction awareness as well as game rules and strategies. The blog section attempts to bring gambling specialist’s perspectives on subjects that will be specifically important to Irish readers.

CasinoAlpha attempts to analyse the market accurately and update the facts when required to give its users the best information to make gambling related decisions. Adina Minculescu, head of content at the company, said: “Through forming and expanding our team with members with various academic backgrounds, we aimed for data accuracy and critical thinking.”

ESG investment platform from Temenos

Money Plant Pot

Money Plant Pot

Cloud-based banking-as-a-service (BaaS) platform Temenos has launched an investment platform that lets banks produce environmental, social and governance (ESG) services at a greater speed and scale. It aims to help banks and wealth managers meet the ever-growing demand for sustainable investing. 

ESG investing has created a way to invest in companies based on their commitment to one or more of the ESG factors. Bloomberg analysis has shown that ESG assets are on track to exceed £42trillion by 2025. With the new Temenos investment platform, banks can create investment products and power digital experiences that will allow investors to build a portfolio that aligns with their own personal values. 

Product director at Temenos, Alexandre Duret, explained that the platform “provides a fast track for our banking clients to launch innovative ESG investment products underpinned by robust, compliant processes, including new MiFID rules applicable in the EU from August 2022.”

Family saving app reports significant asset growth

Parent Child Counting Money

Parent Child Counting Money

Savings app Beanstalk has reported a 350 per cent growth in assets over the last year and has now registered over 12,000 users since its launch in 2020. The app offers a succession of tools that aim to make it easier for specifically parents to save money for both their children and themselves. 

Beanstalk lets users manage their own and their children’s accounts in one place. They are given the ability to invite friends or family to contribute towards a child’s junior ISA or send money for special occasions. The app has begun a six-figure crowdfunding round in which it aims to raise funds to help build on its current scale through greater customer acquisition. 

Julian Robson, co-founder of Beanstalk, said: “We are on a mission to help parents by making it simple and affordable to build a nest egg for their children’s future, regardless of how much they are able to save.”

Debt collection goes digital

Debt collection

Debt collection

Digital debt collection solution InDebted has announced its launch in the UK in an attempt to transform the way debt is collected. The company wants to offer an intelligent, empathetic and digital-first approach to debt collection. The consumer-first approach comes at the same time as it announces results of consumer polling conducted by Opinium on InDebted’s behalf.

The research  reveals that 49 per cent of adults in the UK who have interacted with traditional debt collectors in the past had experienced harassment or aggression as a result of the tactics used to get them to repay. It also found that 56 per cent of those involved in the poll said that their experience with UK debt collection agencies in the past had made it more difficult to resolve their debt. 

“At a time when the cost of living crisis will see an increase in debts, consumers in need of support are being failed by the broken debt collection model,” said Josh Foreman, chief executive officer and founder of InDebted. “At InDebted, we are guided by a digital-first, data-driven solution that puts consumer outcomes at the heart of everything we do. Ultimately, we believe that those in debt deserve better from debt collectors.”