Infrastructure fintechs close notable funding rounds this week

This week, investors looked to infrastructure fintechs for new funding opportunities, with interest once again on a Latin American fintech. Here are Bank Automation News’ highlights.  10X Technologies  London-based 10x Future Technologies, a cloud-native systems provider for banks, announced Wednesday its oversubscribed $187 million Series C financing round, co-led by funds managed by BlackRock and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) and supported by existing investors JPMorgan Chase, […]

5 questions with … Mission Lane’s executive team

Mission Lane was founded in 2018 with the idea of expanding access to credit cards to users with limited or spotty credit history, and has acquired over 1 million customers since that time. The San Francisco-based credit card issuer, which uses machine learning (ML) algorithms to supplement data available from credit bureaus, is looking to […]

Weekly Wrap: China pushes U.S. to take central bank digital currency seriously

This week, Bank Automation News delves into a House committee’s inquiry into a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC), and explored China’s role in prompting the U.S. to explore a CBDC, as well as the U.S. hesitancy to adopt digital currency. The BAN team also explored how neobanks are causing more banks to abandon a […]

AI-driven hedge fund rules out Bitcoin for lack of ‘fundamentals’

A Swedish hedge fund that returned roughly four times the industry average last year using artificial intelligence won’t touch Bitcoin, based on an assessment that the cryptocurrency doesn’t lend itself to sensible analysis.

Photo by Bloomberg Mercury

Patrik Safvenblad, the chief investment officer of Volt Capital Management AB, says the problem with Bitcoin and other crypto assets is that they “do not have accessible fundamentals that we could build a model on.”

“When there is a crisis, markets generally move toward fundamentals. Not the old fundamentals but new, different fundamentals,” he said in an interview. So if an asset doesn’t provide that basic parameter, “we stay away from that,” he said.

The role of Bitcoin in investment portfolios continues to split managers, as the world’s most popular cryptocurrency remains one of its most volatile asset classes. One coin traded at less than $40,000 on Friday, compared with an April peak of $63,410. This time last year, a single Bitcoin cost around $10,000.

Among Volt’s best-known investors is Bjorn Wahlroos, the former Nordea Bank Abp chairman. His son and former professional poker player, Thomas Wahlroos, is Volt’s board chairman. The fund currently manages assets worth just $73 million, on which it returned 41% in 2020, four times the industry average.

Bitcoin enthusiasts recently received a boost when hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones told CNBC he likes it “as a portfolio diversifier.” He went on to say that the “only thing” he’s “certain” about is that he wants “5% in gold, 5% in Bitcoin, 5% in cash, 5% in commodities.”

Meanwhile, Bank of America Corp. research shows that Bitcoin is about four times as volatile as the Brazilian real and Turkish lira. And the International Monetary Fund has warned that El Salvador’s decision to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender “raises a number of macroeconomic, financial and legal issues that require very careful analysis.”

Safvenblad says it’s more than just a matter of Bitcoin’s lack of fundamentals. He says he’s not ready to hold an asset that’s ultimately designed to dodge public scrutiny.

Volt would “much prefer to be in a regulated market with regulated trading,” he said. “And Bitcoin is not yet fully regulated.”

The hedge-fund manager has chosen 250 models it thinks will make money, and its AI program then allocates daily weightings. Volt’s investment horizon is relatively short, averaging about 10-12 trading days. It holds roughly 60 positions at any given time, and its current analysis points toward what Safvenblad calls a “nervous long.”

“In the past few weeks the program has turned more bearish,” he said. We have some positions that anticipate a slowdown, for example long fixed-income, and the models have now trimmed our long positions in commodities. Today, the portfolio reflects a more balanced outlook.”

Safvenblad says the advantage to Volt’s AI model is that it’s unlikely to miss any signals. “We don’t say that we know where the world is heading. But we have a system that monitors everything that could mean something.”

— Jonas Cho Walsgard, Bloomberg Mercury

US central bank digital currency faces congressional scrutiny

The design of a potential U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC) remains a topic of debate, as made clear at a Tuesday hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services Task Force on Financial Technology.   Witnesses at the virtual hearing discussed the need for a CBDC and noted the automation possibilities that might accompany a digital dollar issued by the Federal Reserve. Speaking at the hearing […]

The buy now, pay later trend heats up

The  buy now, pay later (BNPL) boom, which uses technology and alternative credit risk evaluations at points of sale for instant credit decisioning, is a trend JPMorgan Chase is taking seriously, CEO Jamie Dimon said Monday. “Buy now, pay later in the United States, I think, is about $50 billion. It’s growing unbelievably rapidly,” Dimon […]

Bank app Dave touts overdraft fee avoidance ahead of SPAC listing

Banking application Dave announced its plan to go public via a special purpose acquisition merger last week, a transaction that values the neobank at $4 billion. But while the app touts overdraft fee avoidance as its flagship feature, it’s unclear whether this is enough to make customers switch accounts. Backed by investors like Tiger Global […]

JPMorgan buys digital wealth firm Nutmeg for UK expansion

JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to buy U.K. digital wealth manager Nutmeg Saving and Investment as it seeks to expand its mobile banking service for retail investors in the country.

Nutmeg has more than 140,000 customers and manages over 3.5 billion pounds ($4.9 billion) of assets, according to a statement from the U.S. bank Thursday. JPMorgan’s digital bank Chase will be launched in the U.K. later this year, it said.

Photo by Bloomberg Mercury

The deal values Nutmeg at close to 700 million pounds, according to people familiar with the matter. The U.S. bank didn’t disclose how much it paid.

“We are building Chase in the U.K. from scratch using the very latest technology and putting the customer’s experience at the heart of our offering, principles that Nutmeg shares with us,” Sanoke Viswanathan, chief executive officer of JPMorgan’s International Consumer division, said in the statement.

The U.K. digital move has been planned for more than two years as part of a closely-guarded project. The biggest U.S. bank gets almost 50% of its revenue from a consumer business that has operated only in the U.S., though the firm has long deliberated whether to bring its offerings to the rest of the world.

In the U.S., Chase offers a range of banking products to more than 56 million digital customers, according to Thursday’s statement.

— Stefania Spezzati, Bloomberg Mercury

Bank of America uses AI to predict business volatility, acquisitions

Bank of America is using artificial intelligence (AI) to reliably predict which companies are likely to be acquired close to a year in advance — just one way the $2.2 trillion bank is employing AI in its trading business. At a North America Fintech Connect virtual conference today, Rajesh Krishnamachari, global head of data science […]

Broadridge’s new blockchain-based repo trading platform averages $31B a day

Fintech Broadridge rolled out its repurchase agreement (repo) market trading platform this week and has already handled an average of $31 billion per day in transactions since its Monday launch. Using distributed ledger technology (DLT) to build mutual provenance for collateral in the repo market, the New York City-based Broadridge is looking to capture market […]

Take part in the Bank Automation News reader survey

Bank Automation News would like to know what our readers think about bots.

The hype around robotic process automation (RPA) ownership may be headed for a dip due to the cost of the technology and a proliferation of new add-ons. The IT research firm Gartner calls such a dip the “trough of disillusionment” that typically occurs as businesses invest in new technology, but inevitably find it doesn’t live up to expectations.

BAN invites readers to take five minutes to complete a brief survey to help gauge the status of RPA deployments.

The results will be used by our editors to further refine our strategy moving forward. Your responses will remain strictly confidential and will only be examined in aggregate with other respondents.

Thank you in advance for your participation and for your continued support of BAN. We look forward to your feedback.

10 ways commercial lenders automate with bots

In pursuit of greater efficiency and cost savings, banks are finding identifying new processes to automate with robot process automation (RPA) bots in the commercial lending space. Commercial lending platform vendor AFS surveyed its banking clients about how they’re using RPA, which provided fodder for a Thursday webinar on the topic. Brenda Alek and Bill […]

Citizens Bank finalizes document automation in commercial underwriting

Citizens Bank recently finished work on automating parts of its commercial bank underwriting. Vinay Jha, chief data officer at the $176 billion Citizens Bank, said the completed project allows for the importing of data from the financial statements of its commercial borrowers, some of which are in paper form. While the process was “highly manual,” […]

BMO Harris Bank selects FIS for modernization of core and digital banking platforms

BMO Harris Bank selected FIS to modernize its banking platform with the aim of giving U.S. customers access to a range of mobile-first deposit and checking accounts. The multi-year rollout will transform $157 billion BMO Harris’s core banking systems to support the bank’s growth plans in the U.S., the company announced today. Atul Verna, chief […]

RockYou2021 breach makes splash, but looks more like hype than threat

RockYou2021 made headlines last week for being the largest computer breach in history — but two leading security firms told Bank Automation News that it’s more hype than reality. The release was touted as the “largest password compilation of all time,” with a purported 8.4 billion entries. What was not mentioned in early news coverage […]

Listen: How to teach ethics to AI models

Removing bias from artificial intelligence (AI) models may seem as simple as removing demographic information from the data, but it may be more valuable instead to inform the model about the demographics, then weight them to offset bias. That’s one possibility studies have supported, Stephen Thomas tells Bank Automation News in this episode of “The […]

nCino’s Ian Dunn joins live webinar on risk and automation

Ian Dunn, general manager of portfolio analytics at nCino, will discuss automation and risk mitigation during a live webinar presented by Bank Automation News tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Ian Dunn, general manager of nCino’s portfolio analytics

“Developing a sound strategy: The future of automation technology for risk mitigation and security” is the first installment of a new series of BAN webinars in 2021 on automation-related topics. The webinar series will address topics such as risk, cybersecurity, tech integration, cloud computing, and regulatory compliance.

Dunn oversees nCino’s teams responsible for loans, applications, fair lending, marketing, deposits and current expected credit losses (CECL). NCino is a cloud-based bank operating system provider. Dunn founded Visible Equity, an analytics software company acquired by nCino in 2019.

The webinar will also feature Vinay Jha, chief data officer and executive vice president at Citizens Bank.

The webinar panel will cover:

  • Where and how automation is being deployed in risk today;
  • New technologies in compliance process automation and rules-based engines; and
  • Areas of opportunity for automation over the next two years.

Register here.

Klarna, highest-valued private fintech in Europe, rakes in $639M

This week, Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) players and digital banks stayed on investor radars and valuations for companies continued to skyrocket. Other notable funding rounds included an ID verification player and a banking app looking to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) listing. Here are the highlights of some of the more notable rounds: Klarna Klarna, one of the top BNPL fintechs, announced on Thursday a new equity funding round of $639 million, giving the company a post-money valuation of […]

Weekly Wrap: U.S. unveils AI task force and Citrix moves to API-driven treasury management

In this week’s episode of “The Buzz,” Bank Automation News goes over the Biden administration’s decision to establish a task force dedicated to making policy recommendations on sharing government data with artificial intelligence researchers. Made up of 12 members from academia, government, and industry, the task force was mandated under the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative […]

Process mining and process discovery: How they differ and shape automation strategy

Banks and financial institutions want to automate back-end processes but very often the conversation can get confusing right at the start. Realizing that automation adds efficiency is the first step, but figuring out what to automate first — and how — can be tricky. On a regular day at any institution, humans and software applications […]