Bankomat Swedish utility steps in as cash declines

LONDON — Swedish utility Bankomat CEO Nina Wenning discussed the decline of the bank branch in Sweden at Branch Transformation 2022, the leading conference dedicated to branch design, customer experience and strategy-driven transformation, on Nov. 29 at the Park Plaza: Riverside Hotel in London. “We have a central bank in Sweden that effectively gave up […]

Transactions: Santander UK leverages ATM-as-a-Service tech

Santander U.K. selected NCR Corporations’ NCR ATM-as-a-Service technology to run its ATM network to manage the bank’s network of more than 1,700 ATMs across the U.K.   The service allows the bank to pass its operational management including the software, transaction processes, cash management and ATM monitoring needs, according to an NCR release. “Moving to NCR […]

Stablecoin News for the week ending Wednesday 30th November.

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

Stablecoins or CBDC, do we need both? 

This week we heard a lot about the progress of CBDC’s but also people are starting to realise that they will have to compete with their nimble cousins the private company issued stablecoins.

But first, let’s review some of what has already been implemented.  The first serious CBDC or otherwise known as the sand dollar, from the Bahama’s central bank, was created ostensibly to deal with financial exclusion. However, Martin C W Walker writes that, even though the currency has been considered a success, the data does not strongly support financial inclusion as a reason for introducing a CBDC.

How is the “world’s most advanced central bank digital currency” progressing? | LSE Business Review

This paper from the Fed, explores whether there could be a first-mover advantage for a jurisdiction issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) compared to other jurisdictions that subsequently issue their own CBDC. Conventional academic literature provides a framework by which one can assess a CBDC in the domestic payments market, the international payments market, and the technology markets that support payments. 

However, a CBDC may be more than just a means of payment and thus a first-mover advantage is examined for both the asset component of reserve currency and a future financial system built on CBDCs. 

Overall, the first mover literature does not suggest that there is a compelling first-mover advantage for issuing a CBDC.

The Fed – An Examination of First-Mover Advantage for a CBDC (

And finally, Antoine Martin, financial research advisor in the Financial Stability Policy Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, speaking about the future of digital currencies and a new path for CBDCs: to support the development of safe stablecoins instead of producing their own digital currency.

“Stablecoins are much better payment instruments than Bitcoin and stabilize their value by being backed by assets denominated in a fiat currency. They commonly depend on commercial bank money to hold the reserve assets that back their coin representations and this is typically the US dollar.

Central bank liabilities could support the provision of stablecoins

“Stablecoins are very close cousins of Alipay and Tenpay’s digital payment platforms in China. Indeed, for every yuan in customer deposits, Alipay and Tenpay must hold a yuan in an account at the People’s Bank of China, making them functionally equivalent to stablecoins”, he continued. “And so in principle, central bank liabilities could support the provision of stablecoins, much like bank reserves for commercial bank money.”

“Instead of issuing a retail CBDC, central banks could support stablecoins by allowing them to be backed one-for-one with balances in a central bank account. They could also facilitate a bankruptcy remote legal structure to ensure that end-users are paid in full even if the issuer becomes bankrupt. Such stablecoins could be a close substitute for central bank digital money, while balances in a central bank account are risk free and could earn interest. Though stablecoin issuers should be subject to some oversight in exchange for access to a central bank account”, he added. “These stablecoins would be safer to end-users and thus more attractive than those backed with other assets. Rather than producing a competitor to digital currencies by producing a CBDC, central banks could be used as a tool by providers to enhance their payment service.

Supporting stablecoins is easier than managing a CBDC for retail use

Antoine Martin concluded by saying that “adapting our regulatory and legislative environment to support stablecoins is already a formidable task, but it is probably easier than managing a CBDC for retail use, especially as the private sector currently provides all retail digital means of payments on legacy technology.”

Central banks consider backing stablecoins instead of launching CBDCs – FinanceFeeds


So in summary, the fastest, easiest and best way to issue a CBDC could be to just properly regulate stablecoins.


Alan Scott is an expert in the FX market and has been working in the domain of stablecoins for many years.  

Twitter @Alan_SmartMoney

We have a self imposed constraint of 3 news stories per week because we serve busy senior Fintech leaders who just want succinct and important information.

For context on stablecoins please read this introductory interview with Alan “How stablecoins will change our world” and read articles tagged stablecoin in our archives.

Fintech Apps Need These 5 Mobile Features to Attract Gen Z Users

The following is a guest post written by Lance Boyer, a recent college graduate and a Gen Z journalist.

Generation Z made up about 40% of active U.S. consumers in 2020, according to Fast Company. It also has more buying power than any of the Generation X, Boomer, or Silent generations. And it’s growing rapidly.

Generation Z is better off than the Millennial generation too. “Core” Millennials graduated high school and college into one of the worst economies in living memory. Despite the pandemic recession, Generation Z’s job and earning prospects have improved.

Financial technology providers can’t ignore Gen Z any longer. If you’re in the business of making budgeting, banking, and investing accessible to mobile users in the United States, you need to tailor your offerings to Gen Z — and now, not in 10 years.

That means designing your mobile app with younger users in mind. Here’s where to start.

5 Key Mobile Features for Gen Z Users

If you plan to market your mobile fintech app to Gen Z users, ensure it includes these five features.

1. A Unified View of User Finances

Most of the best personal finance apps have something in common: they give users a unified view of their finances inside and outside the app.

Your app shouldn’t only show balance and transaction information for accounts accessible directly through the app (if any). It should also display real-time or near real-time data from securely linked external accounts. It’s ultimately the user’s choice to link or not link these accounts, but your app should create as little friction as possible in that decision.

This adds a layer of development complexity for apps with money management functionality, as opposed to “simpler” budgeting apps that should link to external accounts. But it’s well worth the added investment and will increasingly become essential as the lines between banking and budgeting apps blur.

2. Social Sharing Capabilities

And not just standard Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat integrations. That’s old news.

Your app needs to make it easy — and fun and worthwhile — for users to generate their own content within the interface. Venmo does this simply but very well by allowing users to make transaction details public. Find an equal balance between privacy and disclosure in your product.

3. Stringent Privacy Controls (Beyond What’s Required by Law)

Your fintech app should have stringent privacy controls above and beyond what’s required by applicable law.

Your app shouldn’t make “low privacy” the default, and certainly not because you’re banking on monetizing your users’ data. That data is valuable, but you should come by it honestly. Gen Z is much more digital savvy than older generations and knows “if you’re not paying, you’re the product.”

You can undoubtedly incentivize users to share more with a freemium model or rewards for more sharing if you make it clear that you have users’ interests at heart.

4. Flexible Subscription Options

The more control you give your users over how and when they pay for your product, the more trust you’ll earn and the more you’ll make from them in the long run.

Don’t overcomplicate your payment options. Too many choices paralyze the user. Simple, straightforward payment verticals — one for pay as you go, one for pay for what you use, one for annual or quarterly subscriptions, and so on — are the way to go.

5. On-Call Support

The misconception that Gen Z doesn’t like talking to real humans must go away. Sure, the average Gen Z’er isn’t apt to chat on the phone for hours, but if you consider texting a form of talking — and it is — then Gen Z is just as chatty as its predecessors.

Maybe, more importantly, Gen Z is happier to be micromanaged than its predecessors. The average Gen Z’er seeks positive reinforcement and isn’t afraid to ask questions.

Lean into these preferences by investing in on-call support for your fintech app. This is a big ask for smaller enterprises, so it’s OK to charge for this service as long as it’s optional. Albert’s Genius function is a great example. It’s a built-in financial sherpa operating on a pay-what-you-want model, starting at a few dollars per month.

Final Thoughts

Generation Z makes up a larger percentage of active U.S. consumers than the Millennial generation, and it’s about to have more buying power. Its oldest members are already aging into the coveted 25-to-54 age demographic.

If your fintech app isn’t tailored to Gen Z’s preferences, you’re already behind the curve.

Fortunately, your development team doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to appeal to Generation Z. Including five key value propositions does the trick:

  • A single-dashboard view of user finances — both in the app and in external linked accounts
  • Seamless social sharing capabilities and user-generated content tools
  • Stringent privacy controls that keep users in the driver’s seat
  • Flexible payment options rather than one-size-fits-all subscription or flat-fee models
  • On-call human support, whether free or paid

These “big five” are just the start. You’ll likely find your younger users demanding additional features and functions. But the big five are non-negotiable. The sooner you work on them, the better.

Photo by cottonbro studio

Enhance Your Fintech App for the Gig Economy

This is a sponsored post by Accusoft.

Faster, flexible and easy. It would be surprising if those words weren’t the top cited needs for your customers on what they expect when using your fintech app. If you can provide these obvious, yet sometimes elusive characteristics in your next release, you’ve hit the jackpot or, at the very least, met expectations!

Speaking of customer expectations, faster, flexible, and easy ARE the expectations. Any usability friction can at best annoy. At worst, it can cause you to lose customers, particularly when competition is fierce, and especially after the past few years with the rise of the “gig economy.”

What is the Gig Economy?

The gig economy is based on flexible, temporary, or freelance jobs, often involving connecting clients and customers through an online platform. But not only that, the gig economy also connects and attracts those customers who expect speed, flexibility, and ease of use. 

Starting in 2020, the gig economy grew substantially as jobs were eliminated, and previous full-time workers turned to part-time and contract work for income. Many workers took delivery service jobs bringing necessities to home-bound consumers.

Thriving within the gig economy is a big opportunity for fintechs. The gig economy spans generations – from those in their first job who have added a side hustle, to those working multiple temp or freelance positions, to those in retirement who want to earn some extra income. What they all have in common is the need for services that are fast, flexible, and easy to use. They don’t have the time or patience to deal with clunky, slow services that don’t deliver to their expectations.

A recent GWI report on U.S. fintech trends shows that the widespread usage of digital financial tools offers brands a huge upside for fintech applications, particularly with the “gig economy.” 30% of Americans participate as workers in the gig economy in some way, and digital financial tools are by far the most preferred way to manage their multiple streams of income.

If You Integrate (Fast, Flexible, and Easy to Use Document Processing), the “Gig” Will Come

Fintech companies may be on the cutting edge of software innovation, but even their most sophisticated applications need the ability to accommodate a variety of document-heavy processes used in the financial services industry. That’s why 94 percent of them leverage some form of digital document management solution.

Developing or enhancing a fintech app for the gig economy is tricky, as they expect more of their software applications than ever before (faster, more flexible, easier). Piecemeal solutions that offer only a few features are being overtaken by more comprehensive platforms that deliver a fuller end-to-end experience. Developers are adjusting by making essential technology upgrades to their tech stack, incorporating more capabilities, while also building innovative features that set their solutions apart from the competition. Thanks to third-party software integrations, they’re able to do it all.

Third-party software integrations allow developers to build more cohesive software solutions that provide all the essential features a customer may require. Instead of pushing them into a separate application to interact with their documents, provide a signature, or fill out a digital form, they deliver an unbroken experience that’s easier to navigate and manage from start to finish.  

Upgrading Your Fintech Application’s Potential

By turning to a partner with the right software integrations, fintechs can quickly implement powerful features while keeping their own development efforts focused on designing best-in-class capabilities and bringing them to market quickly.

With more than 30 years of experience helping fintechs enhance their integrations, Accusoft’s collection of SDK and API solutions provides a broad range of document and image processing solutions that can help improve efficiency, reduce errors, and deliver a better overall user experience. Whether you need the viewing, editing, and document processing features of PrizmDoc, or the image clean-up, conversion, and OCR capabilities of ImageGear, our family of software integrations can make it easy for fintechs to incorporate the functionality they need without having to rethink their tech stack. And most importantly, fintechs will be well prepared to meet and sustain the growing expectations of the gig economy for speed, flexibility, and ease of use while using their digital finance tools. 

To learn more about how Accusoft integrations can help your fintech app stay relevant in the gig economy, talk to one of our solutions experts today.

Small Business Banking Provider Tide Acquires Funding Options
  • Small business banking platform Tide has agreed to acquire lending marketplace Funding Options.
  • Tide will integrate Funding Options’ loan matching technology into its own business loan comparison site.
  • Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Or in today’s case, a rising Tide lifts Funding Options. That’s because small business banking provider Tide has agreed to acquire lending marketplace Funding Options. Financial terms of the deal, which was first reported by AltFi News, were not disclosed.

U.K.-based Tide was founded in 2015 to help small businesses save time and money on banking and administrative tasks. The business bank accounts offer accounting tools, expense cards, invoicing, payment collection capabilities, business loan comparisons, and cashflow insights. Tide currently counts more than 450,000 sole traders, freelancers, and limited companies as clients.

By integrating Funding Options’ business lending comparison technology into its own, Tide will be able to offer small businesses a broader set of options when applying for a loan. That said, Tide plans to maintain the Funding Options brand as it exists today. Funding Options CEO Simon Cureton will continue to lead Funding Options and will also be charged with leading Tide’s business loan comparisons.

“With this deal, Tide is aiming to create one of the UK’s biggest digital marketplaces for SME credit, and to make it easier for small business owners to access this vital resource,” Tide CEO Oliver Prill told AltFi. “We know that getting credit is even more important to our members in these challenging times: not just in terms of the rising cost of doing business, but also when high street banks are typically slower to offer smaller businesses loans.”

Funding Options was founded in 2011 and now maintains a network more than 120 lending partners. Since launch, the company has matched small businesses with more than $812 million in working capital in increments ranging from $1200 to $5 million.

Once finalized, the deal will mark Tide’s first acquisition.

Photo by Nuno Obey

FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley: Pioneering PFM, French Fintech, and an Investor Social Network

FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley is a great way for our pioneering alums to show that, more than a decade later, they are still driving fintech innovation. Check out our Finovate Alumni Alley hub for more information on how to get involved.

To celebrate the launch of this new opportunity, we’re going to highlight alums that demoed their technologies at some of the earliest FinovateEurope events. From Best of Show winners to late blooming breakouts, FinovateEurope has spent the past dozen years showcasing the companies that have become many of fintech’s favorites. Over the next few weeks heading into the winter holidays, we will share their stories here.

One of four companies to win Best of Show in our inaugural FinovateEurope in 2011, Meniga introduced itself as a mobile PFM solution provider for retail banks in Europe. Hailing from Reykjavik, Iceland, and founded in 2009, the company partnered with Íslandsbanki to help its technology reach 5% of households within the first year of launch.

Today the company has grown into a digital innovation partner for more than 165 banks around the world and grown its workforce ten-fold. From its start as a white-label PFM innovator, Meniga has added to its finance management offering with Cashflow Assistant and Smart Money Rules solutions, and added a suite of data management solutions for consolidation, enrichment, and discovery to its product mix. The company also now offers Beyond Banking solutions for banks, as well. These products include customer engagement/empowerment solutions like Carbon Insight and solutions for SME customers such as Cashback Rewards and Market Intelligence.

Meniga co-founder Georg Ludviksson introducing Meniga to the FinovateEurope audience in 2011.

Long-time Meniga CEO and co-founder Georg Ludviksson stepped down in August. The company’s new CEO, Simon Shorthose, said in a statement that the company was in a “prime position for growth” due to the “rapid modernization of banking technology and the move to real-time cloud infrastructures.” He added “Meniga’s solutions are at the forefront of helping banks take their digital banking experience to the next level of hyper-personalization.”

One of the benefits of FinovateEurope is not just the ability to showcase for companies in Europe in general, but also for the opportunity of countries not always associated with fintech innovation to show what entrepreneurs in their nations are up to.

France is one example of such a country and Linxo – which made its Finovate debut in 2011 and, nine years later, was acquired by Credit Agricole for an undisclosed sum – is one example of just such a company. Co-founded in 2010 by CEO Bruno Van Haetsdaaele and headquartered in France, Linxo demoed its platform that represented the first bank account aggregation service for French financial institutions.

Linxo co-founder and CEO Bruno Van Haetsdaele on stage at FinovateEurope 2011.

“This transaction enables us to accelerate and strengthen our services for the Crédit Agricole Group, while giving us the opportunity to develop our offering in France and internationally for our clients and prospects with Oxlin, our ACPR-authorized payment institution, and to continue the development of Linxo, one of France’s most popular personal financial management apps,” Van Haetsdaele said when the acquisition was announced.

More than three million users in France leverage Linxo’s mobile app to manage their budgets and simplify their finances. Linxo had raised more than $26 million in funding prior to its acquisition.

Helping investors navigate the financial markets was the goal of many fintechs that demoed their technologies on the Finovate stage in the early years. But one of the innovators in this space to make a big first impression that only has grown bigger over time is eToro.

Another company to win Best of Show in the first FinovateEurope, eToro was an established investing network with more than 1.5 million registered users from 120+ countries in 2011. The company is among the pioneers in social investing, with innovative solutions that helped novice traders and investors learn from successful, veteran traders and investors, and improve their own outcomes in the market.

eToro CEO Yoni Assia demonstrating the eToro network at FinovateEurope in 2011.

Among the more popular companies to demo at FinovateEurope, with six Best of Show trophies won from 2011 through 2017, eToro today is still one of the biggest social investing communities in the world with more than 30 million registered users currently sharing their investment strategies on the platform. The company launched its mobile app in 2012, offered trading in cryptocurrencies in 2017 and, this year, unveiled both fractional share investing with zero commissions and eToro Options for options traders in the U.S.

This month, eToro teamed up with Broadridge Financial Solutions to enable proxy voting for investors on its platform. The ability to cast proxy votes will extend to investors holding fractional shares, as well. The partnership is a victory for advocates of corporate accountability by enabling eToro investors to weigh in on issues ranging from mergers and executive pay to ESG initiatives and goals.

Photo by Peter Spencer

Listen: How banks can use data to optimize client relationships

Banks can onboard and meet the evolving needs of business customers when they integrate and use data analytics to tailor the customer experience.  Understanding what the data reveals about clients— and the gaps financial institutions can fill through partnerships or vendors’ digital products — is paramount, Dean Jenkins, vice president of product marketing at e-banking […]

Scotiabank shrinks tech staff as digital adoption rises

Scotiabank’s ongoing technology modernization has resulted in tech staff reductions in Canada and internationally during its fiscal fourth quarter 2022. The 1.3 trillion bank’s digital strategy was part of its Q4 restructuring charge of $66 million, according to the bank’s Q4 earnings supplement. The restructuring charge fell 29% when compared with the same period in […]

KeyBank CIO Dean Kontul joins Bank Automation Summit US 2023
Dean Kontul, executive vice president and chief information officer, KeyBank

Dean Kontul, executive vice president and chief information officer at KeyBank, will join the panel discussion “Advances in business intelligence for banking” at the Bank Automation Summit U.S. 2023 on Thursday, March 2, at 1:30 p.m. ET.

The Summit will take place March 2-3, 2023, at the Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C., and brings together U.S.-based industry experts to discuss banking automation and technology topics, including cloud modernization and cultivating a team culture of revolutionary ideation.

Kontul’s panel will discuss business intelligence use cases across banks, how to transition to new applications and successful business intelligence implementations.

Keybank’s recent digital efforts include its use of robotic process automation (RPA) technology to fight fraud and its efforts to streamline access to its multiple digital platforms.

Cleveland-based KeyBank’s Dominic Cugini will also be speaking on another panel at the Summit, “New approaches and techniques in RPA,” on Friday, March 3, at 9:05 a.m. ET.

Learn more about Bank Automation Summit U.S. 2023 and register here.

By the numbers: Cyberattacks putting bank data at risk jump 92%

Cybersecurity threats that place bank information and personal data at risk are on the rise as the holiday shopping season officially kicks off with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Cybercriminals are targeting online shoppers by scraping sites for credit card and banking data, according to a recent report by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, which monitored cyberthreat-related […]

U.S.-based Neobank Novo Secures $125 Million in Series B Funding
  • Miami, Florida-based neobank Novo raised $35 million in funding, taking its Series B funding round to $125 million.
  • The Series B raises Novo’s total equity funding to more than $170 million.
  • The latest capital infusion comes from GGV Capital, which manages more than $9 billion in investments across North America, China, Southeast Asia, India, Latin America, and Israel.

An additional $35 million investment brings the total raised by Miami, Florida-based fintech Novo to $125 million. The latest infusion comes courtesy of strategic investor GGV Capital, and brings Novo’s total equity funding to more than $170 million.

In a statement, Novo CEO and co-founder Michael Rangel highlighted the new functionality of the Novo Platform and the “tens of thousand” of small business customers the company has onboarded. Rangel also praised GGV as “instrumental” in helping other technology companies (“from Airbnb to Square”) scale their businesses, and said he believed the support of the firm would help Novo reach “millions more small businesses in the coming years.” Note that GGV Capital Principal Robin Li will join Novo’s board of directors as an observer.

With more than 175,000 small business customers, Novo offers a free business checking account with free ACHs and incoming wires; a Novo Virtual card; no hidden fees; and an application process that can be completed in less than 10 minutes. Novo also provides online small business banking services including the ability to send and track invoices; as set aside funds for taxes, payroll, and more via its Novo Reserves feature. Novo is partnered with Middlesex Federal Savings, which provides FDIC coverage of Novo deposits up to $250,000.

Additionally, as of 2021, the company has offered Novo Apps, a comprehensive apps marketplace to enable SMEs to customize their banking experience; Novo Boost, which gives small businesses same day access to payments received through Stripe; as well as Express ACH that enables same day processing of ACH payments.

GGV Capital Managing Partner Hans Tung underscored Novo’s “ecosystem approach” to providing banking services to small businesses, freelancers, and gig economy workers. “They’ve built a robust, intuitive platform that allows SMBs to connect all of their business and financial applications to their Novo account,” Tung said.

Novo’s latest investment comes as the company announces surpassing $12 billion in lifetime small business transactions. Founded in 2016, Novo was named one of the “Next Billion-Dollar Startups” of 2022 by Forbes earlier this year.

Photo by cottonbro studio

Four ways to attract (and keep) top tech talent

Perhaps the Nasdaq’s doldrums will turn the attention of the nation’s top IT talent from tech to a banking industry in dire need of their services. 

Kris Kowal, global retail banking lead, SAP America

Perhaps, but don’t bet the company on it. In a banking business rolling out steady streams of innovative, technology-dependent products amid a massive cloud transformation, that’s what you’d be doing.

The safer wager is that banks must continue to work hard to attract and retain the best of the best. Banks can do so in four ways:  

  • Promote what you have to offer; 
  • Change the culture to one that puts IT on even footing with business units; 
  • Delineate your tech strategy to workers interested in interesting work; and  
  • Develop a comprehensive talent plan.  

Promote what you have to offer

Banks are technology companies, and they are finally making a point of trumpeting that fact. It’s more than talk: Gartner has estimated this industry’s annual IT outlays to be in the $600 billion range. That’s roughly the combined state budgets of California and New York — with Ohio thrown in for good measure.  

Those investments are pouring into the backend cloud transformations that the industry now recognizes will be necessary to compete, much less thrive. But that money is also going into new products that depend heavily on technology from the customer-experience standpoint on through analytics. Which brings up a key point: IT talent in banking is about more than software developers; we need diverse skills. In addition to developers, banking lacks automation specialists and analytics experts. Each of these fields involves many subspecialties that a potential hire can evolve into over time.  

Among other areas, those diverse skills are necessary to develop the products that can meet — and ideally exceed — customers’ increasing expectations. A few examples include browser plugins that find coupon codes, personal financial management and financial literacy tools, automated interest rate rebates based on payment behavior or product bundling and carbon scoring and suggestions for offsets based on transactions such as airline-ticket purchases.  

That’s in addition to ongoing — and increasingly demanding — banking-industry needs related to customer interfaces, cybersecurity, fraud detection, risk management and countless other areas. Also, banks are at the forefront of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement, a fact that aligns with the sensibilities of young tech professionals in particular. 

Oh, and don’t forget that banking is, as before, generally profitable and stable — and it pays well. 

Change the culture

A recent Deloitte report on the challenges of tech hiring in the industry noted that tech workers in banking bemoaned their status as “second-class citizens.” Fair or not, an industry deeply dependent on technology can ill afford such sentiment to perpetuate. Fortunately, it’s just not true anymore. American Express CEO Steve Squeri’s rise to the top from the chief information officer job may be the clearest example of technology’s importance to this industry, but examples abound of recent high-end banking industry hires from the likes of Google, Microsoft and others.  

Banks want to operate like tech companies, so they’re hiring tech leaders who are shaking up old hierarchies. The long-brewing transition of banking technology from back office to customer-facing is leading to a dismantling of traditional banking pecking orders, breaching silos and embracing the sorts of flexibility and collaboration that is good for banks in general and, specifically, for tech workers.  

Delineate your tech strategy

Yes, banking still involves paper, which to a prospective hire from a top computer science program or tech company may as well be a stack of cuneiform tablets. Yours and every other bank is working to change that, and you’re going to need tech talent to do it. Your core technology may seem outdated (another complaint in that Deloitte report) — that’s why you’re moving to the cloud, and that’s where tech talent can engage in a mission-critical way.  

Tech talent doesn’t want to be feel like they’ll be shunted off in a coding shop working on patchwork solutions for finicky business users. Your technology roadmap is much more exciting than new hires would guess; don’t be shy about sharing it with them. 

Develop a comprehensive talent plan

Talent planning requires looking at your existing workforce as well as the needs to be filled through hiring. What skills do you need now? What will you need two years out? How can you cast the widest possible net and eliminate the sorts of hiring biases that reduce an organization’s cultural diversity and cause excellent candidates to be overlooked? These are some of the core questions of talent planning. 

Technology can help in many ways, among them, through talent-assessment platforms that can automate the screening process and match applicants to jobs better than the old resume-based approach. But the reality is, if you haven’t put considerable thought into what talent you need and how to develop it, you probably won’t find it. 

The tech industry’s dipping fortunes won’t last forever. Now is the time for banks to exploit what’s sure to be a temporary advantage in the long-term competition for tech talent. 

Kris Kowal is the Global Retail Banking Lead for SAP America. 

Bank Automation Summit US 2023, taking place March 2-3 in Charlotte, is a crucial event on automation and automation technology in banking. Learn more and register for Bank Automation Summit US 2023.

Alt Lending Week Ending 25th November 2022

The downside to a crypto collapse – The Spectator 19th November 2022 

Right of Centre publication The Spectator magazine makes an interesting point in the aftermath of the collapse of FTX. The author is a traditional and well-respected Banker who has no truck whatsoever with Crypto currencies however the point he makes is quite valid. Even so I am not sure I agree with him. The basis of his fears is that a complete crypto meltdown would have unknown consequences within the worldwide financial system in which theses fantasy assets exist. He is right but what is better to continue to pursue the make-believe stories for a little while longer or to accept the reality that these assets don’t and never have existed as a store of value. The Financial markets have always had their fair share of spivs and snake oil salesmen and until those idiots who  believed the crypto hype understand that what they believed in was the Kings invisible clothes then we are just laying the groundwork for the next Ponzi scheme.

A Lesson for Sovereign debt analysts

Ratings agency Fitch has decided that two tranches of debt worth $ 2.9 billion issued by a Luxembourg entity on behalf of F1 are rated as “junk” or below the BBB minimum for investment grade paper. The reasoning for this is that China’s zero Covid policy could prevent the sport form returning to China with all that this entails for F1’s finances. A race is indeed scheduled in Shanghai for April next year and nobody is suggesting that the overall financial model of F1 is in any way flawed but such is the problem of dealing with any authoritarian regime that does exactly what it likes without any reference or regards for what others might think, including their own populations. For China substitute, Iran, Russia North Korea etc. etc. China is fundamentally no different. The lesson is an old one. If you sup with the devil then use a long spoon.

Unaffordable mortgage rates and their impact on the economy

I just happened to notice a tombstone in the Telegraph this morning that advertises Bank of Scotland’s Home Loan rates. Apparently if you are one of the unlucky ones to have a variable rather than a fixed rate loan with Bank of Scotland then next month you are going to be stung with a risk premium of 4.45% above the bank’s own base rate. I don’t want to single anyone out as the mortgage market in the UK is a mish mash of “products” some of which make sense and a lot of which don’t. Meanwhile the bean counters who determine these rates just carry on regardless without any reference to whether the risk premium is appropriate. To take a practical example Just supposing a property has a small outstanding variable mortgage of £ 100k outstanding and the value of the property is say £ 800k. In other words there is absolutely no likelihood of there ever being a loan loss. Is the risk premium appropriate? The answer is no. If the mortgage was £ 700k the answer might be yes in today’s market. But we do not price mortgages according to risk. Some intellectual rigour ought to be applied to how we do these things. The way we price and structure mortgage lending in the UK is another thing that holds back growth because it uses blunt instruments like loan to value. 



Howard Tolman is a London based well known ex Banker, Entrepreneur, and IT specialist

Featurespace Secures Funding to Develop AI-Powered AML Prototype
  • U.K.-based fraud and financial crime prevention company Featurespace secured funding to help build an AI-powered prototype to fight money laundering and other financial crimes.
  • The funding comes from both the U.S. and U.K. governments, and is part of an initiative supported by Innovate UK, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and messaging network SWIFT.
  • Featurespace made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2016.

Fraud and financial crime prevention specialist Featurespace has secured funding from both the U.S. and U.K. governments to build an AI-powered technology to help financial services institutions – including banks and payment service providers (PSPs) – to detect and stop financial crime. The goal specifically is to enhance the ability of financial institutions to combat cross-border money laundering, application fraud, and APP fraud, in particular. The U.K.-based company, headquartered in Cambridge, will build a prototype, leveraging AI, that will be trained on “sensitive private payments data.” Featurespace will apply federated deep learning to the data, using privacy-enhancing techniques such as k-anonymity and local differential privacy. Organizations will not have to reveal, share, or combine their raw data in the process.

“U.K. and U.S. governments want banks to work together to stop fraud and money laundering,” Featurespace Director of Innovation David Sutton said. “This type of privacy-preserving collaboration AI is a hard problem that no one has yet solved. We are confident we can meet this challenge. We’re the only company in this project that has deployed innovative tech to fight worldwide financial crime – and we have the banking customers to prove it.”

The funding comes courtesy of the privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) Challenge Prize, an effort begun in July by Innovate UK and the U.S. National Science Foundation. The initiative also is supported by bank-owned messaging network SWIFT. Featurespace has been given a deadline of January 24 to build the prototype. Upon completion, if the project is successful, it will be showcased at the second Summit for Democracy to be convened in the U.S. in the first half of 2023.

“A successful outcome of this project is to make money laundering across borders and between banks much more difficult,” Sutton said. “If you make it harder to launder money, you make criminal activities less profitable. This will benefit businesses, society, and consumers.”

Founded in 2008, Featurespace made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2016. More than 70 direct customers and more than 200,000 institutions ranging from HSBC and Worldpay to fellow Finovate alums like TSYS and Marqeta, rely on Featurespace’s technology to protect themselves against fraud and financial crime. An innovator in the field of fraud prevention, Featurespace has developed technologies like Adaptive Behavioral Analytics and Automated Deep Behavioral Networks to profile both authentic and fraudulent behavior to combat financial crime in real-time. Both technologies are components of Featurespace’s ARIC Risk Hub.

Last week, Featurespace announced a partnership with Railsr to help customers of the embedded finance platform better defend themselves from fraud and financial crime. Per the agreement, Railsr’s fraud teams will be able to leverage card and payment fraud prevention and AML solutions via Featurespace’s ARIC Risk Hub.

“As embedded finance increasingly becomes expected by consumers, making sure they are protected from fraud and financial crime must be expected in equal measure,” Featurespace Chief Commercial Officer Matt Mills said. “Railsr (has) recognized this early and added a critical layer of self-learning technology to ensure their customers get only the best experience.”

Photo by Markus Spiske

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Stablecoin News for the week ending Wednesday 23rd November.

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

Stablecoins are the Canary in the Crypto coal mine! 

This week we continue to see the shakeout from the FTX implosion and stablecoins point to it continuing for some time yet. 

Binance, and OKX suspended deposits in Circle’s (USDC) and Tether’s (USDT) stablecoins based on the Solana blockchain.

Victoria Davis,’s VP of corporate communications, later clarified in an email to Axios, “We have temporarily disabled the ability to withdraw or deposit USDT and USDC via the Solana protocol due to Solana network conditions and the risk posed by the significant role of FTX as a Solana-based stablecoin bridge and trading venue.”

Some alarm bells were raised when the yield on Circle’s Earn product showed zero on versus 0.25% the day earlier.

The change seemed to coincide with Genesis Global‘s crypto lending unit announcing that it would halt customer withdrawals and loan originations, which led to the Winklevoss twins’ exchange Gemini suspending its yield-earning Earn product.

“Circle chose to change the yield from 0.25% yield to 0% before Genesis closed their credit lines,” Busch, the spokesperson for Circle, says. “Circle Yield has historically been driven by demand to borrow in crypto capital markets.”

Crypto exchanges mum on abrupt stablecoin deposits halt

Meanwhile a JPMorgan report measured investors’ exodus from the crypto ecosystem as shrinkage of the stablecoin market.

The combined market cap of the largest stablecoins reached a peak of $186 billion in May, before the Terra/LUNA collapse, the note said. That compares with less than $30 billion at the start of 2021 and about $5 billion a year before that. Since May, the stablecoin universe has dropped by $41 billion, with just under half of the decline attributed to the demise of Terra.

This outflow of looks small relative to the $165 billion that had entered the crypto market via stablecoin creation in 2020 and 2021, “but it would be difficult here to imagine a sustained recovery in crypto prices without the shrinkage of the stablecoin universe stopping.”


In some positive news, USDA would be the first fully fiat-backed, regulatory-compliant stablecoin in the Cardano ecosystem.  The issuance will be  partnered with a regulated financial services company based in the United States as the banking partner, ensuring the stablecoin is fully compliant and adheres to regulatory guidelines


So in summary as the Crypto market continues to wobble it will be the stablecoin market that indicates when prices will stabilise and potentially grow as funds and confidence begin to return.


Alan Scott is an expert in the FX market and has been working in the domain of stablecoins for many years.  

Twitter @Alan_SmartMoney

We have a self imposed constraint of 3 news stories per week because we serve busy senior Fintech leaders who just want succinct and important information.

For context on stablecoins please read this introductory interview with Alan “How stablecoins will change our world” and read articles tagged stablecoin in our archives.

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