Five Years Later: Abu Dhabi Global Market

Since its inception in 2015, Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is a clear example of the city’s aspirations to create a strong financial and trading hub. Since its inception in October 2015, it has successfully established a sound and progressive jurisdiction and business platform that augment Abu Dhabi’s position as a global trade and financial hub.

As October is Abu Dhabi Global Market’s (ADGM) five-year anniversary, The FinTech Times exclusivity speaks with Richard Teng, CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) at ADGM. Mr. Tang reflects on the successes, the 2020 landscape, and future aspirations of ADGM.

The following summarises the key highlights during the interview. The full interview can also be viewed below:


Despite the current global challenges, what has been going in the Abu Dhabi fintech landscape in 2020? And specifically, with ADGM (successes, partnerships, events, other announcements)?

We continue to drive the agenda. I do think that the COVID-19 situation has compressed the timeline for digital deployment and adoption, which are key beneficiaries, and you see a huge uptick in terms of technology adoption, in terms of fintech deployment, which are really necessary, because if you look at the lockdown situation, there is no way to deploy and deliver products and services. Therefore, to deliver those products and services to operate via digital and even on onboarding basis is necessary. How do you do KYC? How do you do lone assessment? A lot of them have to be digital. And this crisis has shown us that despite what many financial institutions see in terms of their digital journey, how advanced they are, that being caught up quite short. So instead of relying on in-house solutions, I think most are tending to extend the solutions to shorten the timeline in terms of rolling out a digital format.

I think our growth story, our trajectory has demonstrated our success in the past five years. We have won many awards. Four times in the past four years, we have won “best financial center” for the Middle East and Africa region. We won twice this year as the best international financial center in EMEA region and our track record in innovation and how we support fintech is a testament to what we have done so far.

Did you ever image that from when ADGM was founded in 2015 it would get to be where it is now? What have been some of those successes up until now?

There are multiple successes. With fintech, we started talking about fintech when this was not commonly known or should be the first regulatory sandbox in the Middle East Africa region and by now is a hugely successful program attracting international participants – ours is the second most active regulatory sandbox globally.

And we have since moved from strength to strength in terms of experimentation, both with fellow regulators from the United States, Australia and Singapore. And along the way, we have created the widest offering of digital financial services license.

We created the first calibrator venture capital manager framework for the region. That is effective, robust because of the huge interest that we’ve seen both before and after. we deploy robots to help Africans fill in application forms to shorten the timeline from the market and many of these venture capital, many to realize the huge potential they have solved and they are using it as a project investment into the region. So we are looking at a whole ecosystem.

It is not our efforts alone. We are working very closely with Mubadala Abu Dhabi Investment Office and many others to create a very conducive environment, not only from a regulatory angle, but also from the startup funding ecosystem building. So we are creating that very vibrant hub – simply one that is very important, but that is strongly supported by Mubadala, Microsoft, Softbank, Abu Dhabi Investment Office and ourselves. And that has created a very vibrant startup ecosystem.

In your role as CEO, as well as on a personal level, how have you seen Abu Dhabi also grow alongside ADGM?

We are not the first financial centre, there are many others. But when we start looking at the entire ecosystem, we realize that there are gaps. And because of those gaps it’s not only following purely other solutions in other financial hubs like London or Singapore but to follow and create our own innovation. It’s very important for the betterment of this region. Financial businesses get the importance and what they are looking for is how to create a well-rounded and a complete ecosystem. It is not only from the rules and regulatory front, but from ecosystem as a whole.

We went about in a very deliberate fashion, for instance, we have the Middle East as an excellent place to come to raise funds and we have developed into a premier destination holistically. We have three of the largest global airlines as well, but we have not developed into an aviation financial hub, so there are gaps in the ecosystem, and we went about it strategically. It is the same with fintech.

We have regulators supporting themselves, involved with the institutional investors and sovereign wealth funds in investing to do more, Mubadala has come up with catalyst funds, Tech funds – similar to ADGM and the Abu Dhabi Investment Office. So all of those are providing funding to that critical funding.

We host the largest gathering of fintech in the region, so this year we will host the fourth fintech Abu Dhabi summit – the Fintech Abu Dhabi Festival.

A three-day event from the 24th – 26th November, last year we had more than 5000 participants, more than 130 speakers, close to 20 unicorn’s around the world attending. This year, we are very fortunate that the UAE Central Bank will be hosting this event together with us to really drive the agenda of the region. This year is going to be a much bigger issue in terms of what is a better life. It is the largest fintech festival yet and we have several components to that, including the first day with company founders, the way do matchmaking between fintech firms with sources of funds be it Angels, private equity – to name a few.

Today we have an entire country, we bring the top 200 firms around the world here, we have our innovation challenge by every fintech working alongside corporate champions such as the banks that are used to solve problems. We have an exciting line up of speakers and ourselves. And the Central Bank have many initiatives that we are going to announce, exciting initiatives that we are going to allow students to join. And we are going to have a very successful regulatory sandbox.

But it has regulators like ourselves and the Central Bank working alongside to really support companies. And it will really bring about a different dimension in terms of allowing them to work much closer together, allowing financial institutions to source for solutions on a much faster basis and to integrate it into their own system. We are very excited that we’re going to launch doing this during the Fintech Abu Dhabi Festival.

Richard Teng is the CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA)

Richard Teng is the CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA)

Richard Teng, CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) IMAGE SOURCE PROVIDED

What differentiates ADGM from other regional hubs in the region? And what attracts talent and investment here?

There are many differentiating factors. The first and key differentiating factor is Abu Dhabi. We are blessed to have very strong value proposition – the best in the region. The strong connect with the excellent business environment with a great lifestyle.

ADGM has proven itself to be the most innovative. It’s in our DNA. The industry needs to support financial intermediation. So unlike many other financials for us, I think that focusing on debt, really, how do you help financing for the betterment of this?

As a result, we are looking at areas of how we help sustainable finance. We have many good projects to boost our financing needs, meeting the investor’s needs, as well as the need for the financial institutions. So, we have CITIBANK, BNP Paribas and the rest of the financial institutions that are providing sustainable financing for the first green investment bank loans. We are along the different pillars, working alongside not only government but with the funders, financial institutions, and SMEs.

We find this is a financial asset to really bring about solutions for them, for the betterment of this, and the more we do it, the more critical mass they do, the more traction we had is going to benefit not only ourselves, but the region. Most people realize that this Intercontinental Exchange, the largest exchange in the world, has now partnered with ADNOC to launch ICE Futures Abu Dhabi, a New Futures Exchange. This wouldn’t be possible in the past.

Where do you see ADGM in the next five years when you celebrate your ten-year anniversary? Also beyond? 

ADGM is the fastest growing international financial center in this part of town. If you look at the number of venture capital management coming into Google, I would say that in the course of data centers in the region, again, we continue to grow rapidly. In another five years’ time, we will continue to grow in critical mass. We continue winning allocates along the way, and I’m sure both the investing community will find Abu Dhabi the most ideal place for them to have a hub to cater to a fast-growing Middle East Africa and Asia market.

We do have a China office and we are seeing strong flows from Asia Pacific. We are seeing strong flows from Europe and the US as well. And that’s really what they’re trying to do, is to bring the world here, to make the world realize that, look, this is the fastest growing region in terms of young adults coming into the workplace over the decades from this effort is going to surpass the young adults coming into their own place in China.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

Live From Lendit 2020 USA: Lendit Fintech Announces the Winners of Its Fourth Annual Fintech Industry Awards

Celebrating outstanding achievement in 15 hotly contested categories, the winners were announced virtually as part of this year’s LendIt Fintech USA conference, the largest virtual fintech event of the year.

The judging panel consisted of thirty leaders from banking and fintech, all of whom gave their time generously to review over 500 entries from around the world.

“Our purpose at LendIt Fintech is to elevate and celebrate the achievements of others,” says Bo Brustkern, LendIt Fintech Co-Founder, and CEO.

“This year has been a hard year for many banks and fintechs, and the many enterprises that support them. Now more than ever we need a reason to come together – even if it’s virtually – to recognize and applaud excellence in these circumstances. Out of challenging times comes true innovation, and that is very much reflected in this year’s cohort of winners. We offer our congratulations to all!” The winners come from a mix of categories, from companies to executives and female leaders in the sector. The full list includes:

Fintech Innovator of the Year: Stash

Despite shelving, its cashback program, Stash has seen significant growth during the pandemic by mixing investing education with accessibility and providing first-time investors with a way to dip their toe in the markets at a pace that works for the individual.

Colin Walsh, Varo Money

Executive of the Year: Colin Walsh, CEO of Varo Money

This year, the bank was the first US Neobank to receive a limited fintech charter from The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Nicky Goulimis, Nova Credit

Fintech Woman of the Year: Nicky Goulimis of Co-Founder & COO of Nova Credit.

This year the company has seen unparalleled growth despite the pandemic, as it has set the standard for how ex-pats receive credit while living abroad.

Top Consumer Lending Platform: Upstart 

When US banks delivered what many have described as a subpar approach to the PPP Loan Program companies like Upstart came in to fill the void and provide small businesses with the access to crucial capital that they needed to stay afloat.

Top Small Business Lending Platform: CircleUp

The company has established itself as “the” go-to-market route for new consumer brands.

Top Real Estate Platform: PeerStreet 

Until very recently investing in real estate was something that was out of reach for the average individual. Now due to companies like PeerStreet individuals can get the benefits of investing in property without the hassle or expense of management.

Emerging Lending Platform of the Year: BlockFi

We’re seeing a new category of Crypto-based financial services coming into the mainstream. BlockFi enables users to seamlessly can use cryptocurrency to earn interest at up to 8.6% APY, borrow cash, and trade currencies.

Innovative in Digital Banking: Plaid

The company started with a simple idea of making digitizing access to accounts and making an individual’s banking identity portable. Now tens of millions have connected their accounts with Plaid and are doing things across the financial spectrum that weren’t possible just a few years ago.

Most Promising Partnership: Urjanet + Equifax

While millions are still reeling from the results of Equifax’s hack, the company has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of individuals who have no choice but to use their service. Despite this reality, and being part of a slow-moving category, it remains a market leader. Look no further for proof than its recent partnership with Urjanet to expand the definition of a credit profile and payment history to include bills from telecom and utilities. The result is meant to provide a better view of the viability of consumers and business borrowers

Top Service Provider: Visa

Many major companies have adopted fintech and a new way of doing business, but what most don’t know is this wouldn’t have been possible without Visa. From large name banks to new challengers, Visa has been behind some of the most major innovations in Fintech, and according to one executive, “they’re only getting started”

Top Law Firm: Orrick

Innovation and Law Firms are two terms that are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. While many of Orrick’s competitors refuse to adopt a new way of doing business, Orrick is leaning into the future. They’ve been the trusted partner and advisor to a number of fintechs and continue to earn the respect of the industry.

Excellence in Financial Inclusion: Branch

In the last year as the shortcomings of society have been revealed, many companies have scrambled to quickly get on the right side of history. While Branch has been on a clear mission since it’s founding. This award shows the company has exceeded expectations by building a business based on altruism and inclusion.

Top Technology Service Provider: Blend

The term disruption is often overused and as inflated as innovation, yet when it comes to Blend, the company is both disruptive and innovative in the most important ways. The company is laying the foundation to change the relationship people have with their money and financial service providers.

  • Managing Editor, North America at The Fintech Times

Spotlight MEA: The First Buy Now Pay Later Solution in The Middle East Region

A buy now pay later has been going for quite some time across much of the world, particularly in North America, Europe and Asia. In the Middle East region, specifically in the Arabian Gulf region, there have been significant home-grown innovations to also provide solutions to consumers. Particularly now with COVID-19, giving as much options to consumers is important more so than ever. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, we sit down with Hosam Arab, Founder and CEO of Tabby, who offers his insight.

Hosam Arab is the Founder and CEO of Tabby

Hosam Arab is the Founder and CEO of Tabby

Hosam Arab, Founder and CEO of Tabby, speaks with The FinTech Times and shares his insights IMAGE SOURCE PROVIDED

Hosam Arab has deep ecommerce experience and is a second generation entrepreneur. A Harvard Business School graduate, he co-founded and grew it into one of the largest exists in the region. Relying on his in-depth e-commerce experience, Hosam is now busy solving another pressing problem for customers and businesses in the region – weeding out cash on delivery and unlocking flexible interest-free financing for the masses.

For our global audience, can you explain what the digital and fintech landscape across the globe currently looks like (focusing on payments)

The term fintech covers a lot of industries that may require a dedicated segment each. So, let me narrow this down to payments. The rails that process our payments today, were established decades ago and have evolved very little since their inception. With the explosion of e-commerce transactions, customer needs evolved faster than the incumbents kept up. This meant that newer ways to pay started to emerge. Digital wallets came into the fray a few years ago, and continue to gain traction across the globe. The same goes for alternative payment methods (Paypal, Apple Pay, etc). Each addressed a different need. Some solved for friction, some solved for a lack of trust and others for security.

What’s been interesting to see, is the evolution of credit as a form of payment, specifically its provision at the point of sale. Klarna, Afterpay etc set off this rapid change in credit consumption and adoption, which was otherwise on its way down due to mistrust in financial systems and credit cards after the 2008 recession.

How does this alter in The GCC?

The GCC is an interesting market. Each country is different in terms of its infrastructure and digital adoption.

Consider the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), two of the largest markets in the region. The UAE has high credit card penetration and easy, frictionless digital transactions. The KSA has low credit adoption, most of the transactions being done in cash, and the regulatory authorities are extremely proactive and supportive in our endeavor to change this. Cash is king across both markets, especially in e-commerce. There is a lot of potential in the market to evolve and adapt payments, in order to accommodate this massive wave of digitisation of retail that is yet to come.

Across the GCC, regulations are being passed to digitise transactions and weed out cash in order to build a digitised, transparent and high trust society.

How have you developed your subject matter expertise and helped to share it across in your home country? And with the GCC?

I make it a point to surround myself with intelligent folks, who help me become better at what I do. We’ve followed the same approach at tabby. Our team consists of some of the brightest minds across the globe, spanning e-commerce, top tier consulting, and Buy Now Pay Later as well! Our investors too, come with deep regional and/or industry knowledge and I’m humbled by their support for tabby. We’ve got some of the brightest minds from across the globe, working within our localisation framework to help solve problems for us that have already been solved in other parts of the world.

Their insights into solving business problems, combined with my experience in the digital ecosystem of this region, is a powerful combination. Replacing cash on delivery put us on this journey, and the need for credit during these difficult times continues to propel us to new highs and define our product roadmap.

What are future trends and predictions you see happening in the region? And specifically with your company?

The core trend that we’re focusing on now is replacing cash and unlocking credit for the masses. We’ve come a long way within a short span of time and are lucky to count some of the largest and most innovative retail groups in the region as our partners in this journey. Hats off to them for recognising the potential early on and moving as fast as they did.

We’re already live in two of the largest markets in the region, and the results are amazing. The next few months will see tabby penetrate deeper into both markets, launch new products, and form new partnerships that help us achieve our goals.

Any advice or recommendations you would give to other future fintech companies and entrepreneurs based in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region?

My key piece of advice not only for fintech entrepreneurs but for entrepreneurs in general is to make sure you’re solving for real problems in the markets you’re targeting. It’s fairly straightforward to find a model that exists elsewhere and try to mimic it locally, but doing that blindly without localising the solution for the challenges of your market is bound to fail.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

Biometric Smart Cards: The Solution for a Hefty Wallet?

The coronavirus pandemic has changed consumer behaviours and attitudes towards digital payments, with many people turning to touch-free payments to protect their health. In fact, research from PayPal has shown that a fifth of consumers no longer carry cash, and around seven percent of people have decided to scrap their wallets and purses entirely. 

Vince Graziani

Vince Graziani is the CEO of IDEX Biometrics ASA. He joined IDEX from Infineon Technologies where he was most recently Vice President of Strategy Development and Implementation, responsible for leading new business development and strategic partnerships. 

Today, the average consumer carries multiple cards in their pockets, from debit and credit cards, loyalty schemes, contactless public transport tickets, IDs, healthcare cards and more. This seems out-dated in an age where we can already do so many things all from one device. So, does this mean wallets will become a thing of the past?

The death of the wallet

Apple certainly seems to think so. In July, the tech brand filed a patent for technology that will allow users to verify their identity without a passport, driver’s license or ID card. Instead, users can upload their information into a digital wallet which verifies the ID against national databases. Apple is looking beyond just payments, for their digital wallets to hold passports and driver’s licenses, even library cards and travel passes so that we can manage our lives from one device without the need for a wallet.

However, take-up of smartphone wallets has been slow, with many concerned about their safety and security. Figures from the end of 2019 showed that just five percent of payments around the world were carried out with a mobile wallet, as consumers continue to prefer physical transactions over mobile payments. Indeed, Apple themselves still haven’t given up on physical cards, having launched the metal credit card

Since the beginning of the pandemic, mobile wallet usage has risen thanks to their convenience. For instance, Australia’s CBA Bank revealed a 17% increase in customers paying through digital wallet transactions since March 2020. Shoppers are looking for ways to reduce the number of cards in their wallet, making it faster to tap-and-go securely for many different transactions. But many want a more secure or familiar way to manage their payments and banking than their mobile wallet.

Why biometric smart cards are the answer

Biometric fingerprint authentication is one such safe and convenient way to combine our wallet into one card. Biometric technology is already used to access our smartphones and payment apps securely. In much the same way, this multi-application authentication process can be incorporated into a physical payment card with a built-in biometric fingerprint scanner. 

Consumers will be able to combine all the below services into one smart payment card, making the consumer experience more convenient, and free from bulky wallets:


Instead of using PINs and signatures while paying for goods, shoppers just hold their fingerprint to the sensor on their biometric payment card and tap a contactless PoS. By adding touch-free fingerprint verification to the payment authentication process, contactless transaction limits could be eradicated entirely, and users benefit from not having to remember PINs for all transaction values.

Importantly, biometric smart cards also store the fingerprint on the card, and not in a central database, making them more trusted by consumers and virtually impossible to be hacked or stolen. 

Loyalty cards

To make the most of the many retail schemes in the market, you really need to keep all loyalty cards in one place, but that quickly weighs down a wallet. While we may not think about securing our loyalty cards – most don’t have PINs or even our names published on them – many can collect so many points their value reaches into the hundreds of pounds. With biometric authentication, multiple loyalty schemes can sit on one card, which is protected through end-to-end encryption and secured to the owner by their fingerprint.


Public transport in major world cities, such as New York and London, have already embraced contactless payments, allowing riders to tap and go. However, to get season tickets or travelcard pricing, travellers still need to buy physical tickets. Instead, biometric smart cards can hold seasonal transport tickets, allowing you to pay a better fare with contactless technology speedily and securely.

Increasingly, as smart cities emerge, we will also start to see smart public transport ticketing. Through fingerprint biometrics, smart ticketing will connect the card to the person, making it easier to personalise and enhance our city living, providing us with more intelligent, safer and faster travel on public transportation systems. 

Personal ID 

As Apple’s technology patent shows, traditional ID documents are likely to be a thing of the past soon. Workplace or even Government ID systems can use a biometric smart card providing a no-contact version of identity verification across borders or while moving about a city or a workplace. With the worry that fingerprint or hand scanners are potential vectors for the spread of disease during coronavirus, such cards will also minimise the need to touch shared security surfaces during travel or while entering a workplace. 

A biometric smart card for everything

For many consumers, fingerprint biometric authentication technology will help to enhance the shopping experience by providing an even more convenient, efficient, and secure payment method for consumers. A biometric smart card will not only reduce the number of cards in a person’s wallet, but it will also make it faster to tap-and-go securely for many different transactions. 

It’s important not to forget that this technology will also help banks to stay competitive, attractive to a younger market. With biometric sensor technology continuing to advance, the question isn’t if, but when, biometric smart cards will replace our bulky wallets.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

FreightTech Firm Einride Generate $10m Investment From Impact Fund led by Norrsken VC

Einride, a Swedish technology company that develops and provides freight transport solutions based on electric and autonomous vehicles, announces $10 million in new funding from existing investors led by impact fund – Norrsken VC.

The EQT Ventures fund (“EQT Ventures”), Nordic Ninja VC, Ericsson Ventures, and other investors also participated in the round. This new round of funds will be used to fast track the official launch of its Einride Pods and meet the overwhelming demand from existing clients including Oatly, Lidl, and more. In addition to this new funding, Norrsken VC, which was founded by the Klarna co-founder Niklas Adalberth, will be joining Einride’s advisory board.

In March 2020, the AI and robotics industry saw major names shut its doors which sent a shiver down the spine of the autonomous trucking industry. Contrarily, in the wake of COVID-19, there has been a shift towards searching for a more efficient, contactless way to achieve the same levels of transport as before. During this time, Einride has maintained a strong stream of new partnerships, including onboarding two major partners, Oatly and Lidl, and launching the main net version of its Freight Mobility Platform.

“There is both a lot of excitement and a lot of uncertainty about autonomous trucking, but the fact remains: this is one of the largest business opportunities in the history of mankind,” said Robert Falck, CEO of Einride. “We have a unique opportunity to make transport both exponentially safer and more sustainable. It’s something the vast majority of us want, but many are unsure of how to get there and resort to half-measures. We expect to see the autonomous transport industry expand exponentially in the coming years, especially in the wake of a global pandemic.”

Einride is the first freight transport start-up to operate a truly driverless heavy transport vehicle on a public road. Beyond developing cutting-edge autonomous technology with the Einride Pod, the company offers a freight mobility operating system that intelligently manages the transition to electric and autonomous freight on an individual transport network level. With the additional funding and strategic input from Norrsken VC, the newest member of the Einride advisory board, Einride plans to continue leading the transition to an autonomous and sustainable future of freight.

“Eliminating CO2 emissions causing rapid climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. As one of the largest emitters, what the road transport industry does in the coming years will have an enormous impact on reaching sustainability goals. At Norrsken, we have been with Einride since the beginning, and are proud to continue to support this movement towards electric, autonomous transport,” said Niklas Adalberth, co-founder of Klarna and the Norrsken Foundation.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 01/10

This Thursday 1 October, The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup takes a look at the latest international fintech stories. Today’s highlights include funding success for Bitpanda, as well as a partnership for Rapyd and Bnext.

Investment & Funding

European digital investment platform Bitpanda has closed a $52 million series A funding round led by Valar Ventures. The large-scale investment will drive Bitpanda’s expansion, as well as ‘position the company as a leader in transforming Europe’s financial industry’. In addition, it will be used to recruit ‘some of the world’s leading talent’. Following the investment, Valar Ventures founding partner, Andrew McCormack will join the Bitpanda board.

Together, we’re going to ensure everyone in Europe has the power to access the financial markets and invest in their financial futures as we build Europe’s next fintech unicorn.

Andrew McCormack, founding partner of Valar Ventures

Regtech data company Acin says it will ‘rapidly accelerate its proposition’ after securing $12 million in series A funding with Fitch and Notion Capital. Acin was advised by independent investment bank Zelig, with further support from international law firm Withers.

PayCargo, the payments network for the global supply chain industry, is excited to announce a $35million investment led by private equity firm Insight Partners. It says it will use the capital to expand global adoption of its electronic payments network, as well as accelerate investments in its technology.

Commercial lines insurtech platform Insurwave has raised £5 million to drive continued growth. Led by existing shareholders, the funds will be invested in expanding the features of the platform.

Finally, fintech SME lending platform Capify has closed an £8 million equity round. In addition, Capify is actively seeking partnerships with companies with large SME customer bases to provide financing.


PPRO, the local payments platform-as-a-service, expands global offering with top Indonesian payment methods DOKU and OVO. According to PPRO, the development marks a significant milestone in its expansion across the Asia Pacific region. PPRO’s integrations feature a total of four payment types: e-wallet, internet banking, bank transfers, and cash.

Mondia HMS

Mondia HMS

HUAWEI offers contactless digital payments launch of Mondia Pay on HMS

Lender Distribution Finance Capital Holdings – the niche lender focusing on manufacturers – has secured a licence by Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). As well as proposing a new name – DF Capital Bank Ltd, the company will offer ‘competitive online savings accounts’.

German fintech Deposit Solutions will launch a savings marketplace in the US. The SaveBetter portal offers US banks national reach for distribution of their retail deposit products. While, consumers can deposit money in all products listed on without having to open a new account with every bank.

Marqeta says it is the first modern card issuing platform to open its technology to any legacy card issuer looking to instantly provision existing cards into mobile wallets. The card issuing platform has unveiled its new tokenisation-as-a-service product, which it says opens up huge new possibilities for companies who are looking to innovate quickly, but don’t have access to modern technology.

iQSTEL, the US cloud-based telco solution provider, has unveiled a new fintech division. It says the expansion will help it widen its product and digital financial services offerings for global markets.

For the first time, European customers of cryptocurrency exchange bitFlyer can access the Japanese Bitcoin market. bitFlyer says it is the first cryptocurrency exchange that is licensed to operate in Japan, the EU, and the US combined. In addition, it is the first to facilitate cross-border access to ‘prized Japanese Yen liquidity’.

bitFlyer Europe launches cross-border trading with Japan

bitFlyer Europe launches cross-border trading with Japan

bitFlyer Europe launches cross-border trading with Japan


Huawei offers contactless digital payment with the launch of Mondia Pay on its Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) ecosystem. The partnership will increase Huawei’s reach in countries across Africa and the Middle East. In addition, Mondia Pay will also market Huawei’s games content in Egypt.

Spanish neobank Bnext enlists global fintech as a service company Rapyd for Latin American expansion. As well as allowing Bnext customers to make cash deposits to their accounts in 30,000 locations in Mexico, the partnership will expand to interbank deposits later via Rapyd’s global payments network.

Business lender White Oak has chosen Provenir Cloud technology to support its digitisation and innovation strategy. It said the partnership will enable it to make real-time risk decisions with a fully automated lending experience.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered Bank Indonesia has forged a partnership with Sociolla, Indonesia’s leading beauty e-commerce platform through its banking-as-a-service solution nexus. The bank intends to further roll out nexus to markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Kuwait Islamic bank Boubyan Bank signs a cooperation agreement with FinFirst to offer its digital products and services. The bank says the partnership will help it cope with the latest fintech developments to enhance business environments, as well as support startups seeking digital banking services.

And, Ghanaian fintech ZEEPAY has hooked up with Visa to simplify cross border remittances. Through the partnership, ZEEPAY will integrate Visa’s real-time push payments solution with its money transfer platform


James Wilson

James Wilson

James Wilson joins Red Flag Alert from Bibby Financial Services

James Wilson has joined insolvency fintech firm Red Flag Alert as its new chief technology officer. In his new role, James will be responsible for building out sales enablement and digital risk functions, as well as incorporating identity proofing and corroboration technology into Red Flag Alert products.

Six graduates and an intern have signed up to a development programme with Oxbury, the UK food and farming bank. In addition to its graduate intake, Oxbury has recruited 10 new team members across its various core business functions.

Cavendish Corporate Finance says the appointment of Karri Vuori as partner will further strengthens the firm’s mid-market M&A advisory expertise. Cavendish advised on the sale in August of legal software-as-a-service firm CaseLines to Thomson Reuters.

Finally, FintechOS, a global technology provider for financial institutions, has hired Dan Brătășanu as business analysis & solution architecture director for Central and Eastern Europe. He will be tasked with creating customised and integrated turnkey solutions for the end-to-end transformation of financial organisations.

Three Steps Banks Can Take to Securely Shift to Digital

The traditional branch-based banking model is becoming outdated. Branch foot-traffic, already low before the pandemic, has only declined further due to stay-at-home mandates and social distancing regulations — accelerating the digitalisation of banking.

Bank customers are seeking customized banking experiences that are time efficient and secure and can be done without entering a branch. But, with one-third of bank customers planning to increase their use of online and mobile banking services post COVID-19, there comes the increased risk of data breaches.

Oren Gur

Oren Gur, VP Security of licensed acquiring bank and smart payments provider, Credorax, understands how crucial it is that customers feel safe as their banking services go digital. And on the flip side, he also understands how important it is for banks and other regulated entities to maintain high standards of security and compliance, which can sometimes be a hurdle for customers. Below, Oren outlines three tips to ensure the shift to digitalized banking is efficient and secure for all parties:

Digitalising the onboarding experience

The onboarding experience is usually the first experience a customer has with their bank. Traditionally, the onboarding experience is done in-person and is often time-consuming, requiring the customer and banker to manually input large amounts of data and pass through a series of different systems. Being in-person, the banker is able to verify the identity of the customer firsthand and manually view the identification documents.

When digitalising the onboarding process, risk management solutions become a crucial factor. Unfortunately, these solutions often come at the expense of the customer experience, due to additional pop-ups and extra steps. Banks must make sure their onboarding platforms are streamlined without causing friction to the user experience, while still maintaining necessary fraud protection. For example, by implementing face-based biometrics for digital identity verification, or VPN trackers, banks can add another layer of protection and identification measures to a digital onboarding process without much extra hassle to their customers. Another way to reduce friction is by using digital systems that allow the user to upload photos of documents, such as their form of identification, instead of forcing manual data entry. By integrating these solutions, the onboarding process can be securely done in minutes, without requiring the user to reinput the same information or go through multiple security checks.

Integrating secure database solutions

As digital security becomes more advanced, cybercriminals’ methods are becoming more sophisticated. Banks must secure both the customer-facing end of banking processes as well as the internal processes. For users to embrace going digital, banks must be able to guarantee that they are effectively verifying users’ account transactions, no matter the payment channel used. Whether it is ACH, wire transfer, real-time, mobile or another payment channel, banks can offer real-time account validation services to clients by using upfront validation tools.

Using third-party services such as application programming interfaces (APIs) and applying smart-routing logic, banks can provide confirmation of both the status and ownership of an account. Additionally, banks should apply data loss prevention (DLP) solutions to mitigate insider threats and protect sensitive data such as customers’ names and credit card numbers. These are just a few examples of secure database solutions banks can integrate into their digital systems to provide customers with increased risk and fraud prevention capabilities.

Smart use of data

One of the harder aspects of shifting to digital banking is the issues around data. But, when used intelligently, it can open a world of possibilities for security controls when moved from the authentication process to the authorization process. This new security approach based on data analytics allows the bank to offer the right services for each person and process real-time indicators of users’ ‘financial health’. Banks should also be utilizing relevant data collected on user banking behaviours to assess security. Information on user activity as it corresponds to specific banking services (i.e. typical times of the day when the user logs into the banking application, regular days of the month when they deposit or take money, as well as average amounts for these activities ) will help determine if activity in the account is fraudulent or not.

The closure of bank branches due to COVID-19 may have jumpstarted it, but digitalized banking services will continue to prove beneficial as customers move more towards cashless transactions and seek to accomplish tasks that used to be in-person from the comfort of their smartphone or computer. Industry players must get on the digital bandwagon if they hope to retain their users, and while there are still some challenges to overcome, with the right steps, they can ‘secure’ their role in the fintech and banking market of the future.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

Women in Fintech: Robin Nunn of Morgan Lewis

As The Fintech Times in September celebrates the Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the leading females. One of them is Robin Nunn, is an innovative thought leader in the fintech industry who has served as trusted in-house and outside counsel to some of the world’s top financial institutions and enterprising startups, including Capital One and American Express.

Robin is now a partner at global law firm Morgan Lewis and advises clients on novel issues in new communication technologies, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, payments, artificial intelligence, and big data in matters of complex civil litigation, enforcement litigation, white-collar defence, transactional due diligence, creation and review of corporate compliance programs, and investigations. 

Robin Nunn

Describe your career journey so far…

As the daughter of two lawyers who began their legal careers as civil rights attorneys in the southern state of Arkansas, I always wanted to pursue a career that would help those most in need. I joined the US State Department after college, spending time in Kenya, and later worked for a variety of public interest organizations in Chicago and New York City, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (NAACP LDF). I ultimately decided to attend The University of Chicago Law School, where I had the opportunity to study under former US President Barack Obama because I believed I could make a greater impact in the world as a lawyer. After graduating, I clerked for the Honorable Barrington Parker, Jr. of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

It was during my initial experience in private practice, following my clerkship, that I became interested in financial services work. It was an exciting time, when technology and financial services were starting to intersect and new tools such as cryptocurrency and blockchain were being developed and introduced.

I eventually transitioned to an in-house counsel position at American Express and then Capital One, whereas in-house counsel I established and executed legal strategies for both the Fortune 500 companies’ legal departments, including on lawsuits and enforcement matters. I also counselled internal clients on legal issues across the business, including on cybersecurity, breach response, product design and launch, regulatory compliance, corporate governance, credit, operations, underwriting, and risk in a broad range of products including financial services, credit card, mortgage, auto, broker-dealer, and banking.  As legal counsel for American Express and Capital One, I got the opportunity to work with strong brands with loyal followings in the ever-evolving mobile payments market and wallet adoption revolution, like ApplePay, Samsung Pay and Jawbone Pay. I also got to advise on facial recognition and wearable technology that formed the foundation for new mobile-payment and security features.

With the experience I gained at both companies, I returned to private practice for the opportunity to once again interface with a larger portfolio of clients in the fintech space. I served in leadership roles, including as chair of the consumer financial services group, at the two firms where I was a partner before joining Morgan Lewis earlier this month. 

As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?

Being a black woman in society brings distinct challenges due to structural discrimination and racism. Additionally, law is among the least diverse professions in the United States, and the fintech industry, in particular, has been dominated by white males historically.  

As my career has progressed, I’ve come to realise that being black and a woman has both posed challenges and provided benefits to me. I strongly believe that many of my attributes, like strength and perseverance, which are often characterized as black female attributes, make me a more effective attorney and advocate.

Decades after entering the legal field as a young associate, I continue to be the only black woman involved in conversations on the majority of the fintech and legal issues I work on. My identity, unique in both the legal and financial services industries, brings unique approaches to solving complex problems. I am committed to ensuring that one day my voice will be one of many diverse voices moving the fintech industry forward. 

One of the reasons I was attracted to Morgan Lewis is its well-established promotion and platforming of women. Earlier this year, the firm launched ML Women in Tech with the mission of promoting and supporting a community of women in technology, both within and outside of the firm. The initiative is just one way we harness the strength of our lawyers through partnerships with our clients to create new opportunities for growth and innovation and help them stay on top of developments and trends in technology.

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the US related to your work in fintech?

I’m monitoring a number of developments critical to our clients in the US fintech space at the moment, including California’s new legislation that converts the state’s primary financial regulator, the Department of Business Oversight (DBO), into the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI). Through this legislation, Governor Gavin Newsom has weaponized a new agency with an enhanced prosecution tool in the form of a statute mirroring the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s authority under the Dodd-Frank Act and created a second consumer protection agency with respect to financial institutions, alongside the state’s already active attorney general. This increases the risks for both bank and non-bank financial institutions doing business in California — not only large commercial banks but also startup fintech platforms that must now contend with yet another threat to innovation.  

Additionally, as we are seeing across most industries, innovation and fairness when dealing with consumers have become meaningful priorities for fintech and technology companies in general in the United States. Also in California, the home of many fintech companies, proposed legislation that would mandate diverse individuals be part of the boards of the largest companies is soon expected to be signed into law. We saw similar legislation in the state mandating that women have equal representation on corporate boards pass in 2018 on the heels of the #MeToo movement.

What career advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in the United States?

I would encourage female entrepreneurs and thought leaders to support and promote other women. Not every woman is in a position to do this, but those who can, should. I see Morgan Lewis Chair Jami McKeon as an excellent example. 

Throughout her tenure as chair of the largest law firm in the world led by a woman, Jami has promoted women to leadership roles from advisory board members to practice group leaders and spearheaded the creation of our ML Women and ML Women in Tech initiatives. She served as a mentor to me for many years, and our relationship has had a real impact on my life, including most recently by bringing me to the firm. 

I would also encourage young women to be their authentic selves at work, especially black women. I spent the early part of my career avoiding form-fitting clothes and pulling my hair back in an effort to appear more androgynous and look less like a black woman. However, I’ve come to recognize that diversity helps forward-thinking companies develop and position themselves as thought leaders. Young women should be proud to bring their authentic selves and their individual ideas and experiences to the table. 

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

Digital Loan One Box Solution Launched at Huawei Connect 2020

Earlier this month it was announced at the Huawei Connect 2020 event that a collaboration between Sunline and Huawei created the Digital Loan One Box Solution — a global contactless solution for financial services. This solution will be rolled out across countries and regions, such as Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, where financial inclusiveness is urgently necessary.

Digital Loan One Box adopts an open strategy, allowing financial institutions to launch a wide range of contactless services, such as online loan product campaign, customer E-KYC, risk assessment, fund disbursement, and post-loan processing. The solution responds to the urgent need from both FIs and their customers for digital financial services. This requirement is ever more pressing amid the pandemic that many countries continue to battle.

As the cornerstones of national economies, financial institutions need contactless, digital, and online financial services, especially in the current situation. However, global banks face similar challenges in the course of digital transformation: huge costs and risks to replace legacy systems, limited budget and uncertain return on investment for transformation, lack of open business and technology experience, increasingly fierce competitions, and more demand of contactless service driven by the pandemic, etc.

Contactless finance refers to services where customers and banks do not need to interact face-to-face. Via Omni-channels, it supports plug-in-based services, built-in businesses, and out-of-the-box features.

The Digital Loan One Box Solution is built on Huawei FusionCube Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, adopting the enterprise-level microservices banking framework EDSP released by Sunline in 2020. The solution supports rapid, dynamic horizontal scaling on both the business and system demands. It also provides DevOps continuous delivery assembly line to meet the increasingly agile development requirements of financial institutions. Contactless banking services make banking much more convenient while remaining user-friendly, timely, and professional, leading to better customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. The interconnection of the financial ecosystem serves boosts market share and reputation of financial institutions. The solution also offers cost-effective TCO that meets their investment expectations.

“Amid the ongoing pandemic, the solution comes at the right time for financial institutions. It can satisfy the demands of efficient lending and loaning for both financial institutions and customers during such special times. Within this industry, we will continue to develop a global ecosystem and scenario-based solutions from 2C to 2B with global partners,” said Jason Cao, President of Global Financial Services Business Unit, Enterprise Business Group at Huawei.

“Together with customers and partners in the industry, we will start with 5G and seize the opportunities across five major tech domains — connectivity, cloud, computing, AI, and industry applications. Ultimately, we will provide scenario-based smart solutions and technologies to facilitate the digital transformation for financial customers.”

Hongan Li, Senior Vice President of Sunline, added, “Sunline is a global banking IT service company. We keep innovating to lead in FinTech and enrich the interconnection of life. During COVID-19, we realized the urgent need for technological innovation, digital services, and open financial services global wide. In light of this, Sunline and Huawei are now launching the Digital Loan One Box Solution. The solution is designed for financial institutions and customers, especially for those lacking technology capabilities. It is based on Sunline’s enterprise-level microservices framework for banks. The agile platform features high flexibility, loose coupling, high performance, and distributed deployment. It meets the dynamic horizontal scaling requirements of financial institutions of any size at both the business and system demands. Our aim is to provide a solution that is practical and helpful in this extraordinary time.”

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

New Standard Chartered Survey Shows That Majority of UAE Consumers Expect a Cashless Society by 2030

COVID-19 has seen consumers across the world ditch cash and in-person shopping in favour of online spending, according to Standard Chartered’s latest global survey. Almost two-thirds of survey respondents around the world (73 percent in the UAE) agree that COVID-19 has made them more positive about online shopping, but they are also more careful with their spending and want new ways to track their money digitally.

The study of 12,000 adults across 12 markets – Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mainland China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, UAE, the UK and the US – is the second in a three-part series, looking at how COVID-19 has transformed consumers’ way of life, and what changes could be here to stay. While the first survey focused on the pandemic’s impact on earnings, the second offers new insights into the way the global health crisis is changing consumer spending habits.

In the UAE, 72 percent said they preferred to shop in-person prior to the pandemic compared to less than a third online. But this has shifted significantly, with almost half (47 percent) who now prefer online payments to in-person card or cash payments. This increase in preference for online payments is true across a range of purchases, from groceries and travel to digital devices. As a result, almost two-thirds of people in the UAE (64 percent in the UAE and 64% globally) now expect the country to go fully cashless, with a majority of the public expecting this to happen by 2030.

Respondents in all 12 markets anticipate doing more of their shopping online from now on, with people in Kenya foreseeing a 30 per cent increase in their online spending, followed by those in the UAE thinking it will increase by 18 per cent and those in Indonesia by 16 per cent. While still anticipating an overall increase, respondents in the UK, Mainland China, the US and Taiwan believe their online spending will only grow by less than 10 per cent in the future.

The survey results are supported by Standard Chartered’s ATM withdrawals data. Across the ten surveyed markets where Standard Chartered offers retail banking (all except the UK and US), COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated the decline in ATM usage. Cash withdrawals from ATMs are now half what they were two years ago.

Meanwhile, as spending begins to creep up as lockdowns ease globally – 46 percent of those in the UAE reported increased spending in July (46 percent globally) – 89 percent of people in the UAE say the pandemic has made them more careful with their expenditure (75 percent globally).

Reflecting this increased caution, 77 per cent of survey respondents in the UAE (62 per cent globally) said that the economic impact of COVID-19 has made them more likely to track their spending, with over 80 per cent either using or interested in using budgeting tools or tools that block card-spend over specified limits.

Commenting on the findings, Sonny Zulu, Head of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered UAE said: “The UAE is on a fast track in adopting digital banking and cashless payments and the pandemic has accelerated the digital drive. This is also mirrored in our digital transformational strategy at the Standard Chartered. We see consumers in the UAE, spending more on basics – such as groceries and healthcare – and digital devices than they did prior to the pandemic, and they expect this increase to continue in the future.”

Meanwhile, in the UAE, 68 percent of people say they have spent less on travel/holidays than they did before the pandemic (64 percent globally), while 42 percent have spent less on experiences (41 percent globally) and 64 per cent have spent less on clothes (55 percent globally).

This trend is expected to continue in the UAE with 38 percent saying they anticipate spending less on travel/holidays, 22 percent on experiences and 35 per cent on clothes in the future.

As well as increased caution when it comes to spending, consumers around the world are increasingly conscientious. This is good news for small businesses and those producing locally made goods, particularly those making and selling sustainably sourced products. In the UAE, more than half of people say they are now more likely to shop locally (61 percent), more sustainably (59 percent) and with small businesses (55 percent). This is particularly true of younger generations (18-44), suggesting this trend is likely to continue.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

Catch up on our Latest Webinar: Leaders in Fintech that Happen to be Women

This September, The Fintech Times explored the topic of women in fintech and this webinar tackles those issues. Do women feel represented? Were our panellists always destined for a career in financial technology? And what advice do they have for today’s university students?

Moderated by Gina Clarke, Editor-in-Chief of The Fintech Times, with panellists Noha Shaker founder and Secretary-General of the Egyptian Fintech Association, Sam Seaton CEO of Moneyhub and Keren Moynihan, CEO Boss Insights.

Fintech Platform Nium Partners With Neobank Aspire to Go Plastic-Less and Enable Google Pay Feature

Singapore-based Neobank Aspire announced its collaboration with Nium, a global financial technology platform, to go plastic-free through the issuance of virtual Visa corporate cards. The collaboration will also enable all cards under Aspire to be made available on Google Pay, the smartphone digital wallet platform.

Nium’s end-to-end issuing, processing and onboarding services allows Aspire’s customers to have an additional option of completing their payments via Google Pay on Visa-accepted terminals. With its virtual corporate cards being made available on the app, business owners can now go green and pay on point of sale (POS) devices and online without the need for a physical card.

Founded in 2018, Aspire is an SME focused Fintech and was the first business neobank in Southeast Asia. It offers it’s Aspire Business Account that provides low and transparent FX fees, fully integrated with accounting systems and custom spending limits so businesses can keep track of spending and stay on top of their accounts with real-time notifications. The virtual corporate card will be a new free feature with this account, targeted towards modern entrepreneurs and SME’s

“Making Aspire’s corporate cards available on Google Pay allows Aspire corporate card users to experience a fully digital experience. Separately, from account opening to managing the finances, everything can be done within the Aspire app. Business owners can set custom limits on expenses without having to worry about manual expense reconciliation. Also, we are going paperless with simplified accounting by integrating Xero, all in one app,” said Andrea Baronchelli, CEO and Co-founder of Aspire.

Visa’s and Google Pay’s NFC feature provides Aspire customers with a seamless and convenient payment process with maximum security. Businesses can confirm and complete in-store and online purchase without having to enter their payment information again, which enables faster checkout.

Nium is a global financial technology platform that aims to redefine the way consumers and businesses send, spend and receive funds across borders. The company was initially founded in 2014 as InstaReM before evolving into Nium in 2019 after launching in Australia, Asia, Europe and the US.

Gitesh Athavale, Global Head of Product (Cards) at Nium said “We’re pleased to be working with Aspire to ease the Spend Management process for businesses in Southeast Asia. Through the issuance of virtual cards and the integration with Google Pay via our payments network, companies can now track their expenses more easily and directly using their Android devices.”

Women in Fintech: Joanne Dewar From Global Processing Services

As The Fintech Times in September celebrates Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from leading fintech females. One of them is Joanne Dewar, Chief Executive Officer of Global Processing Services (GPS), the trusted and proven go-to payments processing partner for today’s leading challenger brands including Revolut, Starling Bank and Curve.

Joanne Dewar

Joanne joined GPS in 2013 and led its transformation from start-up to private equity-backed scale-up. She is a recognised leader and influencer in the payments industry, having been selected as one of just two women on the 2019 Payments Power 10 list, which recognises payments industry leaders with an ongoing commitment to pushing boundaries in the payments sector. 

She was also the European Women Payments Network (EWPN)’s 2018 Woman of the Year Finalist, and is on the judging panel for Inclusion Signpost, a new accreditation to inform and support consumers on existing fintech products and services that address financial inclusion.

Describe your career journey so far…

I’ve always wanted my work to have a positive influence on the world, and to be able to create meaningful change through what I do. From volunteering as a teenager, to using my skills in the charity sector during my career break, I’ve always wanted to be part of something greater. 

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening related to your work in fintech?

The fintech industry is in an incredible position to change the world for the better by providing solutions and products to help solve the problem of financial exclusion across the globe. Our company mission is to enable financial empowerment for everyone. Using technological innovations, the fintech industry can transform the role of financial services to enable people to manage their money better, open bank accounts for the first time, and access credit that can enable them to afford the items they need to improve their quality of life. 

GPS are the ‘tech behind the tech’, in that we do a lot of the heavy lifting to enable brands to focus on their consumer propositions. We have become renowned for innovating in the issuer-processor space and giving rise to the fintech boom, being the engine that has powered the fintech revolution across the UK and Europe. Our cutting-edge technology powers many of today’s challengers and fintechs, including Revolut, Starling Bank and Curve, and we work with over 40 issuing banks and 180 clients, across 60 countries and in 150 different currencies. 

One of our areas of focus and a highlight over the past two years has been our Global Expansion programme, as we brought the epicenter of the European fintech revolution to APAC and opened offices in both Singapore and Australia. Launching our APAC presence at the 60,000 attendee-Singapore Fintech Festival last year was a significant achievement as our launch was highlighted as one of the top ten announcements, and we have since been powering key players in the region including Revolut, Razer, WeLab Bank and Xinja, amongst others.

What career advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders?

Imposter Syndrome is a huge issue for many people in high-level positions, irrespective of gender, and something that I certainly struggled with when I first became CEO. To help combat this, one thing I have always remembered is Jack Welch’s ‘Destroy Your Own Business theory’ – that one should consider how the competition would respond to a situation, and to do that thing yourself.  To apply this to my own situation, I ask myself how a veteran CEO would respond to a particular situation, and I apply that behaviour. 

This was particularly true when it came to getting over my fear of public speaking. I used to worry about the one person in the audience who I thought might know more than me, but as I became more comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, I focused on the hundreds of other people who I knew could learn something from me. To overcome a fear of failure, instead of focusing on the fear, you need to behave as though you already are the leader you want to be, and eventually, that will manifest itself. 

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

Juniper Research Finds Instant Payments Transaction Values Will Reach $18 Trillion by 2025

A new study from Juniper Research has found that the value of instant payments, where transactions are completed within ten seconds, will reach $18 trillion in 2025. This will be a growth of over 500%, up from $3 trillion in 2020.

This represents 17% of all B2B and consumer digital money transfer and banking payments by value in 2025. The research found that West Europe is driving innovation and will account for 38% of instant payment transaction value by 2025.

The report, entitled “Why Instant is Critical to Payments”, identified that success of domestic instant payment schemes will enable cross-border vendors to connect different schemes into cross-border networks, which will radically reduce the time, cost and frustration involved in the current cross-border payments ecosystem. However, this will also require established vendors to revisit their business models, as the fundamentals of the market change drastically.

The European Central Bank defines instant payments as ‘electronic retail payment solutions that process payments in real-time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, where the funds are made available immediately for use by the recipient.’ In their report, Juniper Research defines an instant payments scheme as ‘any payments scheme where the funds are capable of being received in ten seconds or under, outside card networks.’

In another report on Instant Payments, “Instant Payments: Domestic and Cross-border Analysis and Forecasts 2020-2015”, Juniper Research forecasted that the US will trail in terms of instant payments adoption, with only an 8% share of Global instant payment transaction values in 2025. While RTP has been available in the US for some time, the fragmented nature of its financial system means that adoption has been slow to date.

Nick Maynard, author of the research report, said “With the proposed FedNow service from the US Federal Reserve not coming into service until 2023/24, the US is rapidly falling behind in instant payments. Payments vendors must concentrate on creating innovative digital payments products to bridge this gap or be faced with an outdated system.”

The research also found that B2B payments will dominate values in the instant payments market; accounting for 89% of global transaction values in 2025. While consumer payments are numerous, B2B payments have much higher average values. The research identifies that instant payments adoption can be particularly transformative in B2B payments, where value-added capabilities, including automation and additional remittance data enabled by ISO 20022 can be valuable in tackling complex accounts payable processes.

Women in Fintech: Diana Krumova From FinScore

As The Fintech Times in September celebrates the Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the leading female leaders in Asia. One of them is Diana Krumova, originally from Bulgaria, who is an expert in fintech, specifically in alternative credit scoring and lending.

Diana Krumova

Diana Krumova started her career in fintech as early as the word became a definition of a new and booming industry with the potential to change the life of millions of people around the world. She joined a small lending company in Bulgaria, revolutionizing the way unbanked people can access finance. As the company grew internationally, she moved to the Philippines where 80% of the population lacks access to financial services. There, she realized that a single lending company cannot have a national impact and that a new approach is needed to solve for the lack of reliable information and credit history that prevents many lending institutions and banks to offer services to the financially excluded population.

She founded FinScore, Inc, alongside a team of experienced data scientists and IT experts in the field. FinScore is a technology and data analytics company specializing in alternative data-based scoring solutions, providing services to banks and financial institutions, and helping them serve the unbanked. FinScore is the first company in the Philippines to have successfully utilized telco data to enable them to extend credit and provides critical knowledge and insights about the creditworthiness of first-time borrowers. For less than two years of operations, FinScore partners with over 15 Financial Institutions and banks and has delivered more than 3.5 million credit scores, leading to over $500 million in granted loans.

Describe your career journey so far…

I started my career in Bulgaria in 2011, as part of Cash Credit, a technological non-banking financial institution, a pioneer in offering unsecured lending in partnership with Telecom Operators. This revolutionary approach allowed us to grow fast and profitable by obtaining highly valuable data from an objective source. We found that the behaviour and reputation of the subscriber on the mobile network operator predict exactly his behaviour as a borrower as well. In 2016, I was leading the South East Asia team of Cash Credit where we have launched the first operations in the Philippines. We have completed a very successful pilot granting unsecured credits to more than 50,000 unbanked Filipinos in collaboration with the leading telecom provider. Recognizing the growing demand both for financial services and reliable alternative sources of data, FinScore was founded in 2018. My passion is designing innovative products that can help to solve the financial inclusion problem in developing markets and contribute to creating cheaper and faster access to finance.

As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?

It’s a well -known fact that too few women work in the FinTech industry, but we can notice a significant change in this direction, especially in the Philippines. Women, in general, are less likely to be perceived as natural leaders and need to work harder than men to climb the corporate ladder. And it often leads to an imbalance in the personal-work life. I think it is one of the greatest challenges for most women in executive positions. I remember a class at INSEAD Business School. It was mentioned that higher employment rate among women leads to lower birth rates in Western countries. I tend to slightly disagree with this statement as I believe that the causal relationship between the two is not that straightforward. I think that the biggest challenge for women is to believe in equality and not to go into the false dilemma of choosing between the two. This requires conviction, personal style, and clear, honest communication on the subject with your immediate peers. This is far more important than just trying to compete or imitate the men’s style that is simply not fitting to the needs of women leaders. My mother is a perfect example of that and she was my role model in designing my terms in my professional environment. It’s from her that I’ve learned to respect my dreams and life enough, to not compromise on certain actions but also to own my decisions and actions and always look for a solution in tough times.

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region? 

As the COVID-19 pandemic rewrites the rules for lives and businesses alike, the current situation will present an opportunity for financial institutions to make the leap and go digital. Although the top banks in Southeast Asia, already had digital transformation strategies, many will accelerate their digitalization efforts as a result of the disruption. During the last months, banks and financial institutions sped up their digital transformation and we as FinScore play a role in it because we are digital by design. We all witness how the Covid-19 pandemic is introducing long-lasting changes to consumer behaviour and digital adoption in South East Asia. During this stressful time, we need to focus on helping each other and assisting clients and partners as they respond and adapt. My prediction is that the boost that we have seen from the lockdowns will have a positive effect also on the work-life balance as the home office will stay for good as a way companies can function.

What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in Asia?

I think that giving advice is a very responsible action and an individual approach always fits better. This is why I dedicate part of my time to mentoring and I am always happy to share my experience. If I need to outline two general pieces of advice for the current and future female entrepreneurs, this would be to 1) be authentic – nothing makes you a better leader than having your own style that emerges from personal experience and open communication in dealing with professional challenges and 2) share your vision – the discussions and thought exchange process is very important to shaping the company and for growing as an individual.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

National Insider Threat Awareness Month: 3 Tips to Mitigate the Danger of Departing Employees

National Insider Threat Awareness Month, celebrated every September, aims to emphasise the importance of detecting, deterring, and reporting insider threats. As the month draws to a close, Tim Bandos, Vice President of Cyber Security at Digital Guardian, explains what organisations can do to mitigate the insider threat of departing employees.

Tim Bandos, Digital Guardian

Every year, the comprehensive Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) provides a deep dive into the latest trends in cybersecurity incidents. The 2019 report found that insider threat incidents have been on the rise again for the last four years and worryingly, are now responsible for 34 percent of all data breaches.

Insider threats can range from absent-minded employees to disgruntled third parties, meaning organisations have to be extremely vigilant for any signs of wrongdoing. However, perhaps the most potent threat comes from one particular subset – departing employees.

This article looks at some of the most common security concerns surrounding departing employees including the risks they pose, the motivations behind their behaviour and importantly, what organisations can do to mitigate the threat.

The danger of departing employees 

Departing employees have always posed big problems for organisations of all sizes and for good reason. Not only do they have the necessary access and knowledge of where sensitive data resides, but in many cases, they also have a motive.

Of course, not all motives are malicious in nature. In some instances, it may just be a desire to take copies of their work with them for posterity or future reference, but in other cases it could be to give/sell to a competitor or leak to the media. Whatever the motive may be, any form of data loss at the hands of a departing employee can be extremely damaging, both financially and from a reputational perspective (or both).

Unfortunately, due to the unknown variables involved, organisations are at a major disadvantage when going up against this type of threat, which is why it’s so important to monitor for telltale activity and behaviour that might give a potential insider threat away before it’s too late.

Effectively mitigating the threat

The best approaches combine the right technology with a robust process. First and foremost, visibility is needed on endpoints, as well as wherever data is leaving or transferring across the company. At a minimum, businesses should be able to track all types of file movement and data egress, and at least provide an audit trail of what each employee has been up to prior to departure. That way, an employee’s behaviour between the time they hand in their notice and their departure can be closely monitored and even presented to them at their exit interview for explanation/clarification if necessary.

There are several signs to look for that can give away a departing employee as an insider threat. One of the most common ones is spikes in data movement volume, i.e. large data egress to USB type devices or cloud storage sites like Dropbox or Google Drive. Other key solutions include: 

  1. Utilising a data loss prevention solution

If a business has a data loss prevention (DLP) solution in place, it’s possible to tag files by level of sensitivity, making it easier to identify how confidential the data being taken is. For example, if confidential files are being attached to emails and sent to a personal domain like a Gmail or Hotmail against company policy, DLP would flag this. A security analyst can then investigate the incident to establish the intent of the individual sending the file and how sensitive its content was.

2. Leveraging machine learning

More recently, security vendors have started to leverage machine learning in their solutions to take the strain off analysts, who historically have had to manually investigate every alert created.  Machine learning has another trick up its sleeve as well – the ability to create baseline behaviour for an individual or a computer over time. Once created, anything outside of an employee or computer’s ‘normal’ activity will be automatically flagged for further analysis, making it much faster for security teams to weed out suspicious behaviour.

3. Recognising who or what is accessing information

It’s also important to remember that size isn’t everything and large amounts of data egress aren’t always cause for alarm. Often, it can simply be the result of corporate data backups taking place. On the flip side, many sensitive trade secrets can be stolen in just a single file, which is why it’s so important to know exactly who or what is accessing this kind of information and ensuring the right level of protection is in place around it.

Fortunately, the tactics used by departing employees haven’t changed dramatically in the last 15+ years. While there might occasionally be a rogue employee with the technical know-how to hide stolen data in an image file and leverage steganography to sneak it out, such cases are extremely few and far between. As such, with the right safeguards and mechanisms in place to monitor for telltale behaviour and challenge employees where necessary, businesses of all shapes and sizes can make great strides towards minimising or even eliminating the threat posed by this group.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

LatAM Women in Fintech: Monica Saccarelli From Grão

The Latin American region is generally an up and coming region with respect to its wider economic development. Specifically, the region has seen a growth and importance in fintech, producing its own unique innovations, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the space. As The Fintech Times in September celebrates Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the female leaders in Latin America. One of them is Monica Saccarelli from São Paulo, an expert in fintech and specifically in Micro-Investment.

Monica Saccarelli

Monica Saccarelli is one of the big names in the financial market. She began her career at Bovespa and worked for companies such as AT&T Broadband (in San Francisco, USA), Concórdia Corretora de Valores and Link Investimentos, where she held the position of General Retail Manager until the creation of Rico, when she assumed the position of director.

At the age of 30, she founded Rico, an investment broker dedicated to individuals. In a short time, it became one of the giants in the sector. The expansion attracted the attention of XP Investimentos, which, in 2017, acquired 100% of the business. In 2019, Grão was born.

As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?

The financial market and entrepreneurship is dominated by men. It is very challenging, but we need to continue to conquer our space and know how to deal with it on a daily basis. Whatever the area.

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region?

With advanced technology, the emergence of Pix and Open Banking, the world has turned to fintechs.

In 2019 we launched Grão, the first fintech to enable micro-investment in Brazil. With it, it is possible to invest from R$1. The goal is to help Brazilians create the habit of saving small amounts, encourage the formation of a financial “reserve” to reduce indebtedness and be the initial step for future investments that may be more profitable.

 he Grão user has access to a financial organizer, which helps to understand where expenses are allocated (in categories) bringing the result of how much can be saved in the month. Financial behaviour tips and better use of money are also triggered. For those who like challenges, two were developed: the 7 and 21 days, in which the user keeps small amounts during these periods, in order to better adapt and create a light habit of saving money.

What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in the Latin American region?

Persist in your dream. It is good this feminine humility, it is a highlight among us. We can share leadership when needed, but we must not underestimate our ability, because we have strength and leadership.

We have created innovation in Grão after being inspired by American fintechs and the research they conducted in Brazil. Now, such ease of use has attracted increasingly users of different profiles who want to save money to achieve their goals.

And in April we launched a new service where it is now possible to use the money invested through the app to pay bills, bank slips and mobile credits. So the user can use his financial reserve to pay his expenses at any time and without having to transfer the money to another account.

 We know that there has been a loss of income and, for some users, it may be necessary to use part of the money invested for essential expenses. We want to give full support in this moment of uncertainty and help to use the financial reserve well.

Even in the face of an emergency, for those who still manage their finances, the message is worth it: be sure to invest.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa

A New Global Open Banking and Open Finance Directory Has Launched

Launching today, the Open Future World directory is the first inclusive, global and easily-searched directory of organisations involved in the rapidly-growing open banking and open finance ecosystem. The directory is being spearheaded by Open Future World, the hub for global open banking and open finance.

Co-founder Marie Walker explains the thinking behind the directory. “When I’m talking with people in the open finance community, the most common question I’m asked is whether I can recommend a company offering a certain service in a particular region. This directory is our answer to that need, helping companies connect and building awareness of what they have to offer.”

Open banking fintech DirectID took part in the recent private beta. “When I heard about the new directory, I was very keen to be involved, and we’re delighted to be on the list for the launch. Open banking has come a fantastic distance in the last two years and this will be of huge benefit to anyone seeking to understand the players in the open banking and open finance world,” commented CEO James Varga.

Both regulated and non-regulated entities can be listed in the directory without charge. “We want to encourage everyone in the sector to share their information and to make use of this free resource. As the directory evolves, we’ll be able to map the ecosystem, add more advanced search functionality and highlight some of the great case studies that are emerging,” explains Open Future World fellow co-founder Nick Cabrera.

Samantha Seaton, CEO of Moneyhub adds “With the open banking industry now fully emerging worldwide, it is invaluable to have all of the global entities together in a resource such as the Open Future World Directory. This platform will be extremely useful to experts, partners, investors alike and will provide a forward-thinking space in which to share ideas and stay up to date.”

The sector has achieved so much in a relatively short space of time, so the creation of the Directory marks the success we’ve had and only propels the industry further into the spotlight. Managing money is becoming more complex as new, unparalleled obstacles come our way and so the transformational nature of open banking and open finance continues to be realised.”

In line with the sector’s open ethos, the directory is being developed by the community and with the support of other organisations involved in the ecosystem. Strategic partnerships with findexable – real-time rankings of fintech ecosystems – and open finance intelligence service Open Finance Tracker gives access to additional insight and analytics.

Simon Hardie, CEO of data analytics firm, findexable, said: “We are delighted to be a partner of the Open Future World directory. Through the Global Fintech Index our mission is to sort and benchmark fintech innovation wherever it’s found – and remove geographical location as a barrier to fintech success. The Open Future World directory is an important step to driving awareness of the breadth of open finance adoption and accelerating development, take-up and adoption of the technologies that will define our digital futures.”

“It’s important to track and share progress” agrees Carlos Figueredo, CEO of open banking advisory firm Open Vector and founder of the new Open Finance Tracker. “As more and more countries take their first steps towards open finance, organisations – and governments – are looking to learn from each other. We’re delighted to join Open Future World and findexable to help provide an easily searchable global view”.

Open Future World has been working with the open finance community under its Finance Edge brand since 2016. The company’s fifth Open Banking World Congress, held in May earlier this year, was the world’s largest virtual open banking event to date, attracting over 4,500 participants from more than 110 countries around the world.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

Women in Fintech: Mimi Nguyen of the Fintech Podcast: Searching For Mana

As The Fintech Times celebrates Women in Fintech this September, we take a moment to hear more from some of its leading females. 

With 10 years in the industry and a background in tech consulting at Accenture and the Boston Consulting Group, Mimi Nguyen is the co-founder of Mana Search R&D Mana Labs and is an Associate Lecturer of MA Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins.

Mimi is also a PhD candidate at Imperial College London, Faculty of Engineering and Royal College of Art, and also the co-host of Searching For Mana podcast – interviewing some of the leading and influential men and women in the fintech industry.


How did you come into Fintech?

Fintech was a new buzzword for me when I came to the UK in 2014. But when I learned more about the industry and its mission to shake up banking as usual, I was intrigued. So I applied to a few startups, and that led me to join iwoca, a London-based SME lending fintech that had just finished its Series A and had only 30 employees. 

Two years later, the company was reaching its Series C, had hired an additional 120 people, and had set up a fully virtual platform that could provide working capital in one day. It was an amazing experience, and that possibility for real change continues to inspire me today.

What was your educational/corporate journey?

Ten years ago, I got my bachelor’s degree in Quantitative Methods in Economics and Information Systems. Little did I know that it would give me some of the most sought-after skills in fintech. Today, this major is known as Data Science, but at the time, data analysis and big data weren’t popular, and AI wasn’t a must-have for many companies.

So I started my career in tech consulting, joining Accenture Analytics, and then later Accenture Management Consulting and BCG, working specifically with clients in financial services and insurance. We implemented tech solutions in traditional institutions, creating some of their newest products in the process. That was the beginning of my fintech journey: taking my background in economics and IT and applying it to tech-forward financial projects.

What is your current day job?

I’m a Co-Founder and Lead of Mana Labs at Mana Search, which is a fintech headhunting firm that challenges traditional search companies. I’m also an Associate Lecturer of MA Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins and a PhD candidate at Imperial College London’s Faculty of Engineering. 

My research at Imperial focuses on the development of shared cognition in virtual teams. Specifically, I study the best ways to organise creative professionals and help our clients build the teams that will create the next great innovations in fintech. 

What achievement are you most proud of?

Bootstrapping an organically grown startup whilst raising a two-year-old baby. The COVID-19 lockdown has shown how difficult it is to balance work and family life for those with childcare commitments. That’s just one reason the ever-growing discussion about women in tech and finance is so important.

Any thoughts on women in Fintech generally?

Women seem to be even more underrepresented in fintech than they are in the broader tech industry. Those who specialise in STEM subjects face major stigma, which leads to fewer women applying for roles in tech and finance. Great organisations like Code First Girls are helping to address this imbalance, but more needs to be done.

Can more be done to encourage women to take Fintech up as a career?

In short, yes. Gender equality can’t just be reduced to a PR campaign. It starts with education, but fintech firms must also do more to welcome women and BAME professionals into the industry and promote their growth. We need more people like Charlotte Croswell (Innovate Finance) and Anne Boden (Starling Bank) shaping the future of finance in the UK.

At Mana Search, we’ve been lucky to learn from many fantastic women leaders on our podcast, Searching for Mana. Whether it’s TrueLayer’s Shefali Roy telling us about why it’s important to use inclusionary language in job postings or Binance’s Teana Baker-Taylor showing us how crypto can boost financial inclusion, these innovators are paving the way for better representation in fintech.

If there is anything you’re looking forward to delivering/moving forward in your current role

I’m excited to see how our clients will grow alongside us. It’s particularly fulfilling when past candidates circle back and tell us how we’ve helped their careers. A while ago, we placed a promising young professional with a challenger bank. Her background wasn’t in coding, but she excelled in the company’s machine learning department and has made her way up to a tech lead position. It’s amazing that we get to provide that kind of opportunity to talent across the industry every day.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

Gemini Launches Digital Currency Exchange Services in the UK

The New York-based digital currency exchange Gemini has announced its expansion into the United Kingdom, which will allow UK based customers to make secure cryptocurrency exchanges in pounds sterling (GBP).

The company can now safely launch in the UK after it was granted an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) earlier this year. Gemini is also one of the first businesses that the FCA has approved as part of its Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) crypto-asset registration process.

UK consumers can make GBP crypto purchases with their debit card or make GBP deposits to fund their account immediately through their banks via Faster Payments, CHAPS, and SWIFT wire transfers, with no need to transact in foreign currencies or incur exchange rate fees.

Gemini also now offers its secure platform to UK institutional investors in their local currency, enabling them to access crypto trading, market data, and custody services on behalf of their clients. They also provide tools on mobile and desktop that enable users to trade and invest in cryptocurrencies, understand the market, and safely store and manage their portfolio all with local support.

Tyler Winklevoss, Gemini CEO, said, “Going live with our full services available in GBP in the UK is another exciting step forward in Gemini’s international expansion, advancing our mission to empower individuals and organizations around the world through crypto. The UK is a global centre of financial innovation with a stringent and progressive regulatory regime. We’re proud to help usher the crypto revolution into this historic market and become a part of its rich tradition. We look forward to welcoming consumers and institutional customers to our platform.”

Gemini was founded by twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, known for their legal battle with Mark Zuckerberg in regard to the creation of Facebook, as documented in the film The Social Network. After settling their case for $65 million, the twins moved into the digital asset industry and are known as early adopters of Bitcoin.