Remittance Services Sweeping Across APAC With Nium and Travelex Partnership

The foreign exchange company Travelex has partnered with the global payments platform Nium to extend digital remittance services to their users. Now live in Australia and Singapore, the digital remittance offering – Travelex International Money Transfer – will be serviced by Nium’s global payment rails and real-time payment capabilities, enabling Travelex users to transmit money to more than 50 markets across the world at an almost instant rate. 

“Extending the Travelex digital suite to offer remittance services is the logical next-step and continues our focus on digital innovation, which currently includes our market-leading online currency exchange platform, the multi-award-winning Travelex Money Card, and a global network of FX ATM’s,” explains Cameron Hume, Managing Director, Travelex Asia Pacific.

Travelex will be leveraging Nium’s Remittance-as-a-Service (RaaS) solution for the launch of this service. Introduced recently in 2020, Nium’s RaaS solution makes it easier for companies to become providers of payment services and offer remittance services on their own digital platforms. RaaS provides not just the full-stack technology solution but also incorporates the expansive regulatory portfolio, backed by a team of experts from Nium which together paves the way for businesses to tap into the huge potential of the online payments industry; whilst exploring new revenue streams.

“Travelex is the leading brand in foreign exchange globally and across the APAC region. They are recognised and trusted as experts in their field,” says Michael Minassian, Regional Head of Nium’s Consumer and SME Business. “At Nium, we understand how difficult it is for a company to introduce remittance or money transfer services at scale, and we are excited that Travelex has selected Nium to be their trusted partner for this journey.

“Nium’s mission is to create a global fintech infrastructure that can enable banks, financial institutions, and other fintech companies to launch and scale innovative digital financial services without the complexity, time, and cost previously required to do so. We look forward to working closely with Travelex to offer a robust digital remittance offering to their customers.”

Consumers can access Travelex International Money Transfer, via their local country Travelex website, with an App to be launched shortly.

“Travelex is delighted to team up with Nium to offer remittance services. Following a rigorous selection process, we were impressed with their holistic solution which encompassed the technology framework and the expertise of the team. In today’s competitive payments environment, new technology makes a huge difference in delivering the best customer experience,” comments Darren Brown, Managing Director, Travelex Australian, and New Zealand.

Travelex will be expanding its digital remittance offering to major markets in Asia Pacific in the coming months.

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

UK-Based Regtech Steeleye Announce US Expansion

SteelEye, the UK-based compliance technology and data analytics firm, has announced its plans to bolster its footprint by expanding into North America.

SteelEye, which has seen rapid growth in Europe since launching in 2017, delivers a comprehensive SaaS-based regulatory technology platform that allows banks, brokers, and asset managers to simplify their compliance processes across various EU, UK and now US market regulations.

The SteelEye platform reduces the complexity and cost of financial compliance by providing a range of regulatory tools that support effortless compliance management, allowing compliance teams to improve efficiencies, reporting accuracy and overall transparency, all from one platform.

Recognising SteelEye’s unique offering and the regtech market potential (estimated to reach $21.73billion by 2027), the business raised more than $17million through two funding rounds in 2020. The first was led by Fidelity International Strategic Ventures (FISV) alongside existing investor Illuminate Financial. The second and more recent round was completed in December with US-based investor Beacon Equity Partners leading the round. Ed Mullen, the founder of Beacon, is joining the SteelEye Board of Directors.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO of SteelEye, Matt Smith, said: “The US and Canadian markets are crying out for a new way to oversee their conduct and trading activity. Our technology is a huge opportunity for firms needing to reduce the complexity and cost of compliance, which in some cases represents as much as 10% of a firm’s noninterest expenses.”

“There is a clear demand for technology that improves compliance accuracy while simplifying processes in the North American market – SteelEye is the perfect solution to support firms. We are delighted to be working with Ed and the team at Beacon Equity Partners, whose expertise in scaling global businesses will be instrumental as we expand into North America.”

Introduced in 2010 under the Obama administration, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) initiated a variety of additional regulatory requirements for financial firms to improve accountability and transparency. Adhering to this legislation more than ten years after its introduction continues to be a challenge many firms are seeking to address.

An obvious driver for entering the US market is not only the growing demand for cloud-based compliance and regulatory oversight technology but also the Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic has inundated compliance teams with investigations and, consequently, created an urgent need to explore new monitoring measures for regulated employees to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements while working from home.

This operational barrier has been compounded further by ongoing regulatory pressures and soaring trading volumes, intense volatility, market uncertainty and a large increase in e-communications caused by the pandemic.

Ed Mullen, Partner and Founder of Beacon Equity Partners, said: “SteelEye has a unique value proposition, combining communications oversight, trade surveillance and regulatory reporting on a single platform. There is great potential in the US for a service that simplifies compliance for financial firms, and we are delighted to support SteelEye as they enter this market.”

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

Could New UK Laws Stop Gambling Biz from Sponsoring Sports? Don’t Bet on It

A new review of UK gambling laws has been launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with initial calls for evidence having now closed. But with the UK already imposing some of the strictest advertising and promotional rules in Europe, what could this mean for the future of sponsorship in sports?

The one key element that is unclear around the review, is how it will look at the popularity of eSports, a space that has boomed and projected to earn $6.6bn this year alone.

With the surge in popularity, those in the gambling industry are understandably cautious over what the future will hold and are looking at other options. One such company is NetBet, who were founded in 2001 and hold a European license from Malta. They produce a range of services such as sports betting, casino games, vegas, lottery, poker and live online casino.

While NetBet has a strong UK presence, the company exists in more than 15 different locations, with a high presence in Brazil where they sponsor RedBull Bragantino, a team that is changing the concept of management in Brazilian football. However, NetBet aren’t the only sponsors of this team, with as the name suggests RedBull and another global brand, Nike, also involved.

But it’s not just mainstream sports that can grab the attention of sponsors. Again in Brazil, NetBet is pushing innovation by being the first online casino to sponsor a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team, BJJstars, which has one of the former UFC directors in Brazil as director. This qualified audience is something seen as in line with the NetBet’s brand positioning.

According to the company, they established themselves as an early adopter of the online gaming industry and so for them, sports sponsorship (both traditional and eSports) is a natural progression.

Head of Sportsbook in NetBet Sport UK, Peter Camden explains more:

How important do you think sports and eSports are for fans?

In terms of sports betting, both are incredibly important. The addition of more events being shown on TV and online has seen a huge shift in live and in-play betting for the whole iGaming industry. Additionally, the huge prize pools on offer across eSports have helped push them into the mainstream which has caught the attention of the iGaming sector, where key titles including Dota, Fortnite & LOL have provided great content for bookmakers.

At NetBet, we’ve seen a considerate increase in betting for both traditional sports and eSports over the past months and have developed our platform to include advanced in-play stat features across all live events. This has helped fans digest more information on what they are watching and betting on, to give a more interactive betting experience with the sports and eSports they enjoy.

What do you think the future looks like for sports and eSports?

The future is very bright for both. With more sports being shown on TV, fans have more opportunities to watch and follow their teams. This is very positive for gambling operators as it means customers can be more engaged in in-play markets as they can watch more matches which traditionally would have been restricted only to those who were in the stadiums.

For eSports, we expect to see more innovative ways to engage with fans and individual game titles to be a focus for promotion. eSports is a general term that consolidates many individual games into one. Each title has its unique community and following much like the differences you would see from basketball and football fans. It’s exciting to see the innovations being created already for fans as although eSports has traditionally been labelled a niche market within betting, this is rapidly becoming the next big offering.

In the past twelve months alone, NetBet has experienced the biggest growth in eSports. We expect this to continue, with more tournaments available and an increase in streaming options giving fans and players a completely new experience. Add developing titles like NBA2K into the mix and other classic sports that are being played online, then we’ll see that growth continues well into 2021.

Why do you think sports bring people or communities together?

Sport brings a passion like nothing else can. Whether you play, watch or chat with your friends, there is always an opinion to be had. At Netbet our goal is to bring sport to life and give our players the opportunity to act on their opinions.

  • 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.

Mobile Fraud Has Met Its Match With Evina and Telecoming’s Latest Global Alliance

European technology companies Evina and Telecoming have signed a global alliance to work hand in hand in promoting Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) as the safest and most appropriate payment method in the new mobile economy and, in particular, for the fight against fraud.

The agreement deals a body blow to the mobile fraud that cost the African continent over $4 billion last year. DCB is the most suitable payment technology for millions of unbanked Africans who appreciate its unparalleled reach and convenience. The agreement between Evina and Telecoming; both with operations in 15 African, Middle Eastern, and European countries; now makes mobile-based transacting even safer.

Telecoming has been a prominent expert in DCB since 2008, and Evina is the reference in the fight against digital fraud. With this alliance, both organizations will combine their expertise to develop the industry, whilst bolstering mobile payment security.

Roberto Monge, COO, TelecomingRoberto Monge, COO, Telecoming
Roberto Monge, COO, Telecoming

“Direct carrier billing has been growing in the new digital economy. It is a technology with enormous potential that benefits all players in the mobile environment,” said Roberto Monge, COO of Telecoming. “With this alliance, we want to place DCB at the forefront of the payments industry and reinforce our commitment to the development of a transparent, secure, and stable mobile economy.”

The alliance aims to educate on the vast potential of direct carrier billing through the DCBMaster service that allows users to measure their exposure to fraud, as well as their market and regulations knowledge.

David Lotfi, Evina’s CEO, added “The potential of DCB is widely underestimated by mobile operators and other market players. This is mainly due to the fact that DCB is currently adversely affected by fraud. By protecting the mobile payment ecosystem, we aim to sustain DCB’s growth and help all players flourish in this ecosystem.”

The alliance will also enable the launch of the first global DCB indicator. This DCB Index will measure the maturity of the DCB market in different regions, based on the analysis of four indicators: Fraud protection, Innovation, Penetration in the Digital Industry, and Growth Potential.

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

Satelligence: “The Green Revolution” Of Financial Institutions

A pressing issue that has become more and more apparent in every sector is environmental sustainability. More companies are turning to sustainable ways of dealing with environmental issues like climate change and deforestation, as investors are more likely to invest in a company that does not have detrimental effects on the planet. In order for businesses to survive, they must start looking away from unsustainable practices. 

Nanne Tolsma, Head of Client Relations at Satelligence, has pointed out that simply getting rid of an unsustainable company is not enough to help the planet: companies must show their green initiative and how they intend to go green. He has worked for Satelligence since 2016 and started out as a business developer in Vietnam for two years. He leads the major b2b partnerships including Satelligence’s work with Asset Managers, Investment Funds and other Financial Institutions.

Here, Tolsma speaks about “The Green Revolution” of Financial Institutions: 

Nanne Tolsma, Head of Client Relations at SatelligenceNanne Tolsma, Head of Client Relations at Satelligence
Nanne Tolsma, Head of Client Relations at Satelligence

Financial Institutions around the world are transforming into sustainable institutions. Investors recognise that they have a role to play with respect to environmental issues like climate change and deforestation, and they take action. We’ve seen a worldwide increase of green bonds and loans with more ESG integration as investors target a financial return that goes hand in hand with a positive impact on the planet. Sustainability is no longer seen as a liability but as an asset.

Financial Institutions moving forward and taking responsibility regarding sustainability is important because investors have the ability to hurt unsustainable companies where it hurts the most: their pockets. Pushing towards more sustainable practices is not achieved only through public blaming and shaming by activist NGOs: financial and governance measures are just as important.

To make investment decisions or engage with companies, it is key to have access to reliable ESG information of companies. Traditionally, Financial Institutions assess non-financial data like ESG risks in their portfolio through sustainability rating firms. Companies like Sustainalytics provide Financial Institutions with the tools and insights to assess sustainability risks in their portfolio.

However, new technology such as satellite imagery and AI allow us to go a step further by providing objective and reliable information of where and when risks actually happen in portfolios. Based on what happens on the ground, not only on what we see in headlines. In the past few years, we’ve seen an influx of new solutions that provide Financial Institutions with in-depth information on their assets.

Examples of Financial Institutions taking it a step further and making use of such new technologies are asset managers ACTIAM and Robeco. Both already integrate ESG in their decision making. They specifically focus on sustainability themes such as biodiversity and deforestation. On the one hand, they do additional due diligence for these themes to be able to better assess risks in their portfolio. On the other hand, they use those insights for active ownership purposes. ACTIAM, together with other investors, recently launched an engagement initiative using satellite data to gain more transparency in the supply chains of companies it invests in.

Besides asset managers turning to new, non-financial, sources of consistent information, Investment Funds have also started using this data. (Agriculture & Forestry) Investment Funds give out sustainability-linked Green Loans to companies that they invest in. These companies need to abide by specified sustainability requirements as part of their agreement. Investment Funds use new technology in two ways:

  1. In the selection process;
  2. During the loan period for monitoring and evaluation purposes.

Having access to all this new information is great but it also comes with challenges:

  • Most solutions are based on technologies that are difficult to understand. The large number and variety of solutions that flood the market make it hard for an investor to pick the right tool;
  • Financial Institutions become increasingly engaged in active ownership. This often requires in-depth knowledge of a specific field and of sustainability to be able to have informed discussions with investments.

Financial Institutions and new technology ESG service providers need to bridge these gaps to ensure better integration of ESG risk for investment decisions.

In most cases, engagement, or active ownership, is the way to go. Divesting fully from companies with bad ESG practices is unfortunately still quite common and easy to do but is that really a solution? Divesting cuts ties and thus a channel to influence the investment. Does that make our planet a better place? In reality, all it means is other Financial Institutions, likely less environment prone, will take over and the unsustainable practices will continue.

Removing an unsustainable company from your portfolio might make your books look greener, but it won’t help the planet. If Financial Institutions are to truly prioritise sustainability education must come before blacklisting. Start a conversation with your investment, show that you are taking sustainability seriously and that you are willing to learn and grow together towards a more sustainable planet.

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

Latest Fintech Jobs New This Week: 12/04

Check out these brilliant jobs!

Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel is here! Baby steps of course, but there’s some real positive changes happening across the UK this week, as restrictions start to lift. Another exciting thing to note is that workplaces are also slowly returning to normal, which means actively recruiting.

We’ve compiled a list of some really exciting roles available at the moment…

Portfolio Manager, MarketFinance

MarketFinance is looking for a hard-working, highly motivated Portfolio Manager to manage and strengthen the relationships of their growing customer base. As a Portfolio Manager, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a wide range of SMEs across a variety of sectors in the UK.

You’ll be responsible for managing relationships, contracts and renewals for an existing book of clients. Your focus will be to drive retention and growth across your assigned portfolio. You will be working with multiple different stakeholders, including Sales, Risk, Operations, Tech and Marketing to ensure the customers facility runs as smoothly as possible.

Analyst, Equity Index Product, London Stock Exchange Group

The Analyst, Equity Index Product Management role is an entry level role in the Equity Product Management team. The Analyst will work closely with the Head of Equity Index Product, EMEA, and the broader Product Management team to support equity index products targeting the EMEA region including flagship indexes such as the FTSE Global Equity Index Series and the FTSE UK Index Series, and both the Institutional and Wealth client segments. The Analyst will also work across the matrixed organisation with Research, Marketing, Index Delivery, and client facing teams including Sales and Client Service in order to gain support on key initiatives across the organisation.

Front-End Engineer, Tandem

Reporting to the Principal Front-End Engineer, the Mid Front-End Engineer will join a highly skilled development team, building and delivering a cutting-edge fintech app. The ideal candidate will be an experienced full stack JavaScript developer with a strong engineering background, someone familiar with Agile delivery and comfortable working as part of a cross functional team.

The successful candidate will be responsible for playing a key role in working on customer-facing features across the mobile and web apps, while also contributing to their modern TypeScript/React/React-Native/GraphQL front ends. If you’re innovative, curious and not afraid of a challenge, then Tandem would love to hear from you.

ESG Corporate Sales Specialist, MSCI

This Sales position is aimed at expanding and increasing the usage of the industry-leading suite of ESG and Climate solutions and services by corporate issuers, as they are broadly and increasingly used by the institutional investor shareholders of those corporates. The integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions by institutional investors has seen a meteoric rise over the last decade. As more and more investors around the world incorporate a company’s ESG rating in their investment decisions it is becoming of increasing importance to the Investor relations, CSR and corporate treasury departments of those corporate issuers that MSCI assesses and rates. You will build relationships with corporate issuers and make them aware of the importance of their MSCI ESG Rating as it is the market leading ESG materiality assessment used by institutional investors around the world. You are expected to pitch, sell, and close the subscriptions directly with the Corporate issuers.

Regional Field Marketing Lead, Northern Europe, Finastra

Working as part of the Europe regional team, your primary role will be to manage and execute on the Field Marketing plan for the Northern Europe region (UK, Ireland, Israel and Nordics) and be a key interface to the sales and customer facing organisation. This role will report to the Director of Field Marketing Europe.

In your role as a Field Marketing Lead, your primary objective will be to generate qualified leads in line with the Finastra business plan. You will build the strategic plan, identifying and analysing customer demand, building regional campaign programs and executing on the plan. This includes working with press and industry analysts, local partners as well as collaborating with the extended marketing team responsible for Integrated Campaigns, Solution Marketing and Account Based Marketing.

For even more amazing opportunities, head over to our careers page now!

  • Rebecca works for our job board partner, Jobbio. Based in Dublin, she has been working as a writer for six years, creating engaging and insightful digital content. She has worked in Dublin, New York and London, and has a Masters Degree in Marketing from DIT.

18th Annual O2C: Cash, Digitalisation, RPA & AI Virtual Conference to Take Place in May

The “18th Annual O2C: Cash, Digitalisation, RPA & AI” is a marcus evans virtual conference taking place between the 27th-28th of May 2021, focusing on customer experience and robotics for Customer Facing Supply Chain Management and Order to Cash. This online event will bring together speakers from Novartis, Siemens, Telenor, Philips, Honeywell and Henkel among others to discuss the digital transformation of order to cash processes and pinpoint best practices for supply chain visibility and superior customer experience.

The future is here, as more and more companies are introducing Robots into back-office processes to serve repetitive tasks. Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) transform company operations to be faster, more accurate and cost-efficient. Chatbots, cognitive computing and Artificial Intelligence for automated emails are here to serve and save time even for front office operations.

The event is ideal for companies that strive to increase their process maturity, achieve competitive advantage through superior customer service and customer experience and unleash their analytics potential. Attend and learn from practical case studies some of which include:

  • Honeywell improving performance with better customer experience and data analytics
  • Telenor outlining methods within process development and automation strategies that really work
  • Novartis establishing a Customer to Cash E2E process, including the customer engagement and digital strategy model
  • Philips focusing on customer service innovation and agility

The conference is designed to provide attendees with premium content on real-world examples of business processes, clear of product placement and vendor showcasing, to enable them to walk away with valuable insights and actionable strategies.

The Fintech Times is able to offer a special discount by using the code “SC131_FT200”.

To find out more, click here.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Railsbank Expands Expertise as Industry Veteran John Hammond Joins the Senior Team as CCO

Railsbank, a Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform, has announced that industry veteran John Hammond has joined the senior team as Chief Commercial Officer (CCO).

Hammond, the former CCO of Currencycloud, is reuniting with his old colleagues as he steps into his new role at Railsbank. He will join Nigel Verdon (co-founder and CEO), Nick Bourner (Chief Technology Architect), and Dov Marmor (Chief Operating Officer, North America), as Railsbank moves forward from a busy 12 months expanding its international footprint.

Railsbank acquired certain assets, customers and people from Wirecard’s UK business last year, before raising $37million in funding in November to help drive growth. It has just launched in Australia in partnership with local challenger bank Volt.

Hammond brings a broad palette of skills, having led functions including marketing, sales, operations, acquisitions and divestments at a number of successful technology firms and fintechs. He has an unrivalled understanding of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) economy and will be responsible for accelerating Railsbank’s international expansion.

Hammond said: “It’s exciting to be back with the team and I’m really looking forward to bringing the energy that fuelled Currencycloud’s growth to Railsbank.”

“We’ve done this before. We’ve failed together, learnt together, and won together. Creating great teams is about trust and we certainly have that, it’s a great foundation on which to build. We then went our separate ways to continue our learning, and we’re coming back together with an expanded pool of know-how. We’re all well aware of our strengths and our limitations – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Drawing on the trust we’ve built between each other over the years, we’re preparing Railsbank for hypergrowth.”

“I liken our relationship to the great rock bands. Nigel is the visionary songwriter and lead guitarist – he understands the fintech space like no one else, hence he keeps creating these innovative companies. Dov is a fantastic frontman, blessed with an amazing network and entrepreneurial spirit, whilst Nick is the bass and the drums, providing the infrastructure and groove for our growth. And I’m back as the rhythm guitarist, helping to knit everything together and drive the band forward!”

Nigel Verdon, co-founder and CEO, Railsbank, added: “It’s a real pleasure to welcome John to the Railsbank team. We’ve achieved a lot together and it means that The Fantastic Four has been reunited. John’s appointment is a huge boost, and he will be instrumental as we deepen our footprint across Europe, Asia Pacific, and the US.”

After working with Verdon at Currencycloud, Hammond served as Chief Revenue Officer at learning platform Fuse Universal, where his strong sales leadership skills helped the company achieve record growth.

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

This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 13/04

This Tuesday’s The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup sees crypto exchange Gemini plump for ComplyAdvantage to boost its anti-money laundering risk management. While moneycorp announces a new vice chairman.

Funding and investments

Belgian blockchain technology provider Arkane Network has closed a €1.55million seed round led by High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF). DM-BB David Majert, Palentine Ventures (Blockrocket) and imec.istart Fund joined the round. Arkane will grow its team, as well as setting up an independent branch in Berlin.

Level E Research closes seed funding round, raising £1.2million from a group of private investors. The Edinburgh-based specialist in AI investment solutions for institutional investors says it will scale up business development efforts as well as continue to invest in cutting edge research and attract the most talented people.


TipRanksIsrael’s TipRanks closes $77million Series B round after subscription sales to its B2C platform grew by 300 per cent. In addition, its B2B clients have reported massive increases in stock trading volumes. The stock research platform’s latest round was led by Prytek and More Investment House.

Meanwhile, fintech Bleu has secured $2million in funding from private investors. It will help Bleu expand its frictionless payment solutions to buyers and issuers in the US and the Asian Pacific Region, specifically Australia and New Zealand. Bleu offers merchants a payment solution, eliminating the need to carry cash or payment cards.

Paymob, an Egypt-based digital payments provider, has announced a $15million Series A round, led by Global Ventures, with participation from A15 and FMO. It follows $3.5million raised in July 2020, bringing the Series A round to a close at $18.5million.

Finally, Pan-African fintech software provider Appzone has closed a $10million Series A round led by CardinalStone Capital Advisers with participation from V8 Capital, Lateral Investment Partners, Constant Capital and Itanna Capital Ventures. It will bolster Appzone’s core technologies and start a wave of new country expansions.

Job moves

Barclays has appointed Helen Kelly as head of corporate banking for Barclays Europe. It says Kelly will play a key role in continuing to expand its presence in Europe over the years ahead. As well as increasing its physical presence on the continent to nine different countries, Barclays has developed a digital banking platform in Europe.

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, parent company of the Ecobank Group, has unveiled Tomisin Fashina as its group executive for operations and technology. He will hold the position in addition to his existing role of managing director at eProcess International.

John HammondJohn Hammond
John Hammond

Industry veteran John Hammond has joined the senior team at Railsbank as chief commercial officer. In a ‘fantastic four’ reunion, he joins his former Currencycloud colleagues Nigel Verdon, Nick Bourner, as well as Dov Marmor. Railsbank, which recently launched in Australia in partnership with local challenger bank Volt, plans to deepen its footprint across Europe, Asia Pacific and the US.

Meanwhile, Thomas Kräuter is now group chief technology officer at German digital firm intive. He joined the company in 2017. He will help intive build on its cross-industry potential, as well as supporting customers in ‘realising their bold digital strategies’.

More appointments

David Yates says he is excited to join international fintech moneycorp as its new vice chairman. His aim is to cement moneycorp’s position as a digital-first global payments platform. His appointment also follows the recent hire of Velizar Tarashev as CFO.

Maktoum bin Mohammed has unveiled Fadel Al Ali as the new chairman of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). The appointment will follow the retirement of Saeb Eigner on 1 June 2021. DFSA is the independent regulator of financial services conducted in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Emaar and e-commerce platform will chair Zand. The digital bank – due to launch soon in the UAE – wants to become a digital economic accelerator offering both retail and corporate banking services.

Finally, Elif Haykir Hobikoglu is elected a monetary policy committee member of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. He will attend the next policy-setting meeting on 15 April.

Industry updates

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Abu Dhabi Global Market Arbitration Centre (ADGMAC) to promote international arbitration as a preferred method of dispute resolution for resolving international disputes. They will jointly organise conferences, seminars and workshops on international arbitration in Abu Dhabi and Singapore.

Egyptian cabinet approves draft bill to regulate fintech industry. The new law will regulate the use of fintech to deliver non-banking financial services in order to promote financial inclusion and expand the number of beneficiaries. The bill authorises the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) to licence and regulate businesses and fintech startups.

The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) has unveiled a new liquidity management facility. The facility will provide eligible counterparties — participants in the UAE Funds Transfer System — access to dirham funding from the CBUAE on an intraday basis.


Sokin, the payments-focused fintech, has launched global payments platform Sokin Enterprise. The service, which goes live on 16 April, allows organisations to make unlimited instant payments and FX transfers for a transparent fixed fee. Sokin is also developing products for sole traders and SMEs.

Razi ArdakaniRazi Ardakani
Razi Ardakani

Irish startup DX Compliance has formally launched operations in the Middle East from a new base in the UAE. Razi Ardakani is appointed as the company’s new head of growth and will drive expansion across the Middle East. It has joined Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem Hub 71.

IBM has announced the general availability of the IBM Cloud for Financial Services. Designed in collaboration with Bank of America, in addition to Luminor Bank, MUFG, Tata Consultancy Services, Ernst & Young (EY) and SAP. The cloud development environment is designed to help reduce the risk for financial institutions, their partners and fintechs. Plus help them innovate quickly with built-in controls adhered to by the entire ecosystem.

Meanwhile, Metro Bank has launched new invoicing technology for business customers using its mobile app. The features offer a range of benefits for the bank’s business customers, including the ability to create, track and manage branded invoices directly from their Metro Bank accounts.

SatchelPay, the Lithuanian-based electronic money institution, has unveiled a next-gen financial product line branded as Satchel. The latest product offers a range of banking-as-a-service and software-as-a-service options, including EU IBAN provision, card issuance and SEPA & SWIFT payments procession, as well as a white label card programme.


Mastercard and fintech Geidea have unveiled a strategic partnership agreement to accept Mastercard payments on a tap-on-phone solution in Saudi Arabia. Geidea is the first fintech company to roll out a contactless payment acceptance technology across the Kingdom.

Regtech and blockchain analytics provider Coinfirm has announced a partnership with Chain, a public, open-source and permissionless blockchain. The Chain mainnet was launched in late March after more than two years of research and development.



EBANX has joined forces with Chilean digital bank MACH in order to offer MACH’s digital wallet as a payment method for international purchases in Chile. It is the sixth digital wallet that EBANX offers as a payment method in Latin America.

TAAP, the no code low code platform digitisation specialist, has extended its platform to include data visualisation and business intelligence after hooking up with Panintelligence. With Panintelligence’s pi platform, TAAP’s clients can visualise information, data mine and extract actionable insights in real-time.

Meanwhile, Jumio is partnering with iProov to roll out its proven liveness detection solutions worldwide. It says iProov equips it with the upgraded flexibility needed to realise the opportunities of digital transformation with a powerful fraud deterrent.

Finally, crypto exchange Gemini has chosen ComplyAdvantage to boost its anti-money laundering risk management. ComplyAdvantage helps to detect sanctions and adverse events while uncovering hidden risks during customer onboarding and throughout the client lifecycle.

“We selected ComplyAdvantage because of the company’s agile approach to financial crime risk management. ComplyAdvantage’s hyper-scalable model, customizable screening solution, and collaborative approach to Gemini’s model were critical to meeting our compliance needs.”

Elena Hughes, chief compliance officer at Gemini
  • Claire works across print and online as Editor for The Fintech Times.

LHV and The Access Bank UK Sign up to Bottomline’s Confirmation of Payee Service

Bottomline, a provider of financial technology that makes business payments simple, smart and secure, has announced that LHV and The Access Bank UK Ltd have signed up to the business’ cloud-based Confirmation of Payee (CoP) service to help combat APP fraud.

Introduced in July 2020, Confirmation of Payee is a fraud prevention system led by Pay.UK and operated with Open Banking, which confirms the recipient’s name matches the details held by the bank. This process is designed to address both payment errors and rising incidents of Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, where a consumer or business gets tricked into approving a payment to a fraudster’s account.

Marten Vill, Open Banking and API Product Manager at LHV, said: “Using the latest SaaS technology to protect our customers’ money is an important differentiator for us. We wanted to make sure we joined Phase 1 of CoP to immediately eliminate the rising losses in APP fraud in the industry, which rose to £479 million in 2020. CoP will also be a valuable building block in our constantly improving set of API services that we offer to our fintech customers.”

As early adopters of CoP, LHV and The Access Bank UK Ltd will now have access to Bottomline’s full CoP service for inbound and outbound payments. The new measure provides the banks’ customers with an extra layer of defence against APP fraud and greater assurance that their payments are going to the right recipient. The service uses Bottomline’s API to validate the beneficiary’s name and account details against the information held on file whether sending or receiving payments, protecting the banks’ reputation as the trusted custodian of customer funds.

“The latest figures reported by UK Finance show that APP fraud remains stubbornly high, with a 22% increase in cases,” said Ed Adshead-Grant, General Manager, Payments at Bottomline. “Beyond the risk of financial losses, CoP will help banks improve their customer journey and support ongoing trust in their brand. With 95% of UK banks still introducing CoP, we believe more needs doing to encourage universal adoption to lock out the organised criminal activity and ensure deposits flow efficiently and correctly.”

Bob Attwood, Head of IT and Operations at The Access Bank UK Ltd, said: “As a relationship bank, we want to make sure our customers are fully protected against the growing instances of APP fraud, whilst making it as simple as possible for our customers to send funds to us. Bottomline provides this out of the box with their CoP solution.”

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Refinitiv: Reducing Digital Bank Onboarding Risks

With Digital Banks booming in the UK, one of their biggest attractions is the ease and speed of their onboarding processes. Often able to be completed in minutes through an app or online, there are some concerns to the risks that these processes may pose, with digital banks needing to be compliant with anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations.

Aravind Narayan is a Global Director at Refinitiv, An LSEG Business, in the Sales Readiness function for customer and 3rd party risk solutions with a primary focus on product GTM, commercial & sales strategies across our digital identity and customer screening propositions. Aravind joined Refinitiv about 2 years ago from Amazon.

Aravind has over 14 years of experience in the technology industry working with various organisations such as EMC, PwC and Amazon, living and working in the US, India and the UK. Aravind is an evangelist for disruptive technology as a means to solve everyday problems faced by organisations, from onboarding to fraud detection and beyond. He also speaks passionately about digital banking, payments and open banking. 

Here he shares his thoughts on how to reduce digital banking onboarding risks. 

Aravind Narayan: Global Director - Sales Readiness, Refinitiv, An LSEG BusinessAravind Narayan: Global Director - Sales Readiness, Refinitiv, An LSEG Business
Aravind Narayan: Global Director – Sales Readiness, Refinitiv, An LSEG Business

Digital banks are growing in number in the UK, putting pressure on retail banks. Clients are attracted by the ease of the onboarding process. But digital banks need to be vigilant during onboarding to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations. How can digital banks reduce onboarding risks by partnering with AML data providers?

  1. Many of the growing number of digital banks in the UK employ cutting-edge technology and have no physical branches. This means they can reduce costs and repurpose their staff to more effectively serve customer needs.
  2. Digital banks have made onboarding an easier process to navigate. This has made them more attractive to clients, resulting in huge growth.
  3. Partnering with AML data providers as subject matter experts can help digital banks to mitigate their money laundering and financial crime risk and comply with regulations.

In the UK, the first digital bank was granted a licence around six years ago. This was the first banking licence issued in more than 100 years.

Since that first licence was issued, there are now over 15 digital banks and fintechs in the UK alone. This influx has started to put pressure on the traditional retail big banks.

Most of these digital banks use cutting-edge technology, do not have physical branches and conduct all due diligence online.

‘Mobile first’ model and digital banks

Using a ‘mobile-first’ business model, digital banks can cut costs and repurpose their staff to serve customer needs more effectively.

By significantly lowering friction during the onboarding process, digital banks have created a broader appeal among consumers. As a consequence, many of them have attained a growth rate of 500 per cent.

For example, in 2017, one digital bank had a customer base of 900,000. By 2020, this had grown to 35 million.

Digital onboarding

However, digital onboarding can be challenging.

On the one hand, banks need to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations. And on the other, they are obliged to ensure that the customer experience is the best it can be.

The ease of setting up an account is a significant factor in attracting customers to digital banks.

Fulfilling such a promise creates myriad issues for banks because of the requirements to conduct proper checks during the onboarding process and to conduct ongoing monitoring thereafter.

To expedite the onboarding process, a digital bank typically categorises its customers into various risk tiers.

In effect, a tiered onboarding process can have several pitfalls. For example, when using technology to onboard customers end-to-end, poorly configured systems could allow a higher-risk client to be incorrectly categorised as low risk and enter the financial system.

Once they enter the financial system, they could easily remain under the radar, facilitating criminal activity while ostensibly carrying out typical daily transactions. Poor risk analysis could further enable criminals to scale their criminal operation by harvesting synthetic identities and consequently creating multiple accounts.

Anti-money laundering and digital banks

Under the European Union Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD), all providers of virtual currencies and electronic money are considered to be regulated entities for AML purposes as service providers.

Regulators are in a difficult position because they don’t want to appear to be trying to stifle innovation in the financial services sector. However, as with all technical advancements, there are always threats and risks. Regulators just need to be aware of them and can then require the banks to mitigate those risks.

Regulation and Fintech

In addition to the financial services sector, there are also fintech companies. The ‘correct’ regulatory approach to fintechs has yet to be properly defined by regulators.

This is primarily because fintech company business models often fall outside the regulatory perimeter, therefore making them harder to monitor. We believe that regulations will change in the coming years, for example, if a channel for currency transactions exists, money laundering and other financial crime risks may arise.

If you are based in the EU, data privacy concerns take these risks to a whole new level. In 2018, a digital bank was under scrutiny following the sharing of customer data online as part of the due diligence process. Cybercriminals are often waiting to take advantage of such incidents to tap into that data and perform identity theft to launder money.

Therefore, in most cases, digital banks partner with AML data providers as subject matter experts to help them meet their legal and regulatory requirements. A chosen partner should take into consideration the customer’s needs in their solution, including from a design, functional and operational perspective.

Design and functional product aspects

A product should not be:

  • Just a database of entities with a basic search mechanism. It should be a curated, structured database with an enhanced (easy-to-use) search capability.
  • Just explicit global sanction lists such as U.S. Office of Foreign Assets (OFAC) or UN sanctions, but should also include so-called narrative sanctions as well.
  • Just any politically exposed person (PEP) based solely on blanket inclusion criteria. It should have a carefully curated list of PEPs as per local laws.
  • Based on ‘once a PEP always a PEP’ approach. It should have a clearly defined end of term.

Operational KPIs

Most significantly, these KPIs include:

  • Availability; live and accessible data.
  • Total cost of ownership, which can be achieved by reducing false positives. A provider who is committed to minimising false positives using artificial and human intelligence can consequently lower operational costs.
  • The availability of additional exclusive features and specific content sets and functionalities, to increase operational efficiency while saving time and resources.

There is so much more to consider once a customer has been onboarded. Customers may need ongoing monitoring to reflect changes in status or to identify anomalies in their transactions and trigger alerts.

Providing trusted quality data is at the forefront of everything we do at Refinitiv. We can provide our customers with the means to conduct initial and ongoing screening, digital onboarding and enhanced due diligence via various delivery channels to suit their needs.

Russia’s Second Largest Bank’s Digitisation Ahead of Schedule Due to the Pandemic

VTB bank has created a digital transformation strategy that set out development until the end of 2022, which is sooner than anticipated as a result of increased digitisation due to the pandemic. Only a year and half in, more than half of the planned volume of technological transformation outlined in the strategy has been completed. 

By the end of 2020, the bank had already received twice the forecasted profit from the introduction of new technology products – more than 10 billion rubles ($130 million). The acceleration of the schedule means VTB now expects to complete all major transformation by the end of Q1 2022.

As part of the implementation of the bank’s digital transformation strategy, VTB has:

  • Transferred the mobile bank to a new IT architecture, doubling the speed of VTB Online operations and speeding up the response time of the interfaces by 10 times.
  • Increased system reliability with a 57% uptick in the number of change implementations (33,000 per year).
  • Created 7 new technology platforms that plan to make market leaders – reduced the time to market of products and services for customers by 8 times.

Vadim Kulik, Deputy President and Chairman of the VTB Management Board, said: “We needed to accelerate the introduction of new products and new functionalities to the market. We are focused on establishing VTB as a technological innovator, giving us a competitive advantage against other market participants, whilst at the same time improving stability and reliability.

“We decided that we need to build VTB on completely different technological principles, a completely new VTB. In order to restructure all the bank’s technological systems and create innovative IT platforms, we have changed our technology production model, now more than 1,200 teams work on the products, including more than 13,000 people. We have opened 14 programs within the framework of the ‘600 days’ program, written all the layers of the IT architecture, and in the next two years, we are set to become the market leader in almost every layer. ”

Kulik noted that VTB has created and is implementing seven technology platforms that will allow the bank to develop faster than the market, build an open ecosystem, as well as simplify and accelerate interaction with partners, the state, and business.

This is an omnichannel platform, a retail credit pipeline platform, a corporate credit pipeline platform; an open interaction interfaces (open API) platform; a data analytics platform, geo-and graph platforms, a development automation platform, and a cloud platform.

“We are building these platforms so that in 2022 we will be leaders, not just in the top 3 or five, but leading the way across each layer of the technological system,” Kulik stressed.

VTB is also actively implementing artificial intelligence in the bank’s business processes as part of its technological transformation.

“As for artificial intelligence, we do it not for the study of high matters, but where it offers us efficiency and a specific income. During the first year of this program, we earned more than a billion rubles ($13million), built several systems, and introduced 130 different models across the business, from predicting customer churn to text recognition. In January, we launched a voice assistant in our mobile app. We are extremely proud of the way we’ve been able to implement automated functionality as well as train and develop artificial intelligence. By the end of 2021, we plan to robotise the development of AI algorithms. The robot itself will identify suboptimal processes, form models, implement them into the work and monitor their effectiveness.” Kulik explained.

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

Searching for Mana: The Finance Community With One Million Subscribers | Max Rofagha, Finimize

Finimize is building the world’s largest and most engaged finance community, with over one million subscribers across their app. Max Rofagha, its co-founder and CEO sits down with Stefan Ciecierski from Mana Search to outline how they help casual investors become smarter investors through bitesize content and engaged community. 

In this chat, Max tells us why neo-brokers democratising access to the stock market has opened a major opportunity to empower retail investors with new forms of information, and how Finimize is helping retail investors make informed investment decisions. Plus, he lays out how he attracts talent from top tier investment banks to work at Finimize full-time, and why it’s important that Finimize content is written by ex-Goldman Sachs or Fidelity analysts. 

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Episode Highlights

02:15: Empowering retail investors to make informed investment decisions

11:00: Max’s journey as an entrepreneur

14:30: The power of snowball effect and serendipity leading to Passion Capital’s investment

18:55: Lessons from being a founder

21:40: Why company culture and priorities matter?

27:45: Creating premium content from ex-Goldman Sachs or Fidelity analysts

42:13: New opportunities on the market

43:58: Max’s Mana

Spotlight Asia: Lessons APAC Can Learn From UK Accountability Regulations

Technology can help the financial industry in Asia-Pacific prepare for the drive towards improving accountability from the top level of an organisation all the way down to the bottom says Gordon McKeown, head of audit, risk and compliance product (ARC) at software firm Ideagen. Here he explains how companies can manage and comply with new regulations.

Gordon McKeown, Head of ARC Product at Ideagen

Gordon McKeown, Head of ARC Product at IdeagenWith the IAC (Individual Accountability and Conduct) and MIC (Managers-in-Charge) regulations coming into effect this year for the financial sectors in Singapore and Hong-Kong respectively there has been a scramble to find a cost-effective system to manage the new compliance regulations.

Firstly, it must be understood that these new regulations are going to positively affect how businesses are run and managed by improving the working culture. The regulations coming into effect are much like the SMCR (Senior Managers and Certification Regime) which was implemented in the UK in 2016.

SMCR was introduced in response to enquiries after the 2008 financial crash. It is a set of regulations that was drafted up to tackle high profile banking scandals by creating a new culture in the sector that is centred around transparency and individual accountability.

This is done by encouraging financial service managers to be approved by regulators, involving checking all qualifications, competency and standards are met to ensure that those in these senior positions have the ability to do these jobs to the proper standard.

Taking responsibility

The aim of these regulations is to reduce potential harm to consumers whilst strengthening market integrity by producing a system that allows firms and regulators to hold people to account. It is intended to produce a working culture in the financial sector that will encourage staff to take personal responsibility for their actions, improve conduct at all levels and make sure firms and staff have a clear understanding of these areas of responsibility.

When SMCR came into effect in the UK there were some concerns about how the financial sector was going to be able to swiftly and legitimately comply with the new regulations. There were questions about how organisations were going to competently and clearly present evidence that the firms and employees were complying with the new standards, creating anxiety within the sector.

Auditing through spreadsheets was quickly seen as a time and cost draining solution not to mention that it required companies to hire new employees to maintain the system and it was error prone. These errors and discrepancies are something organisations in the Asia-Pacific region can learn from.

Technological support

There are innovative solutions available that make sure rule breaches due to poorly managed and maintained records systems are not an issue. This is where new system management software has really changed the tide in this struggle to easily manage an organisation’s compliance information.

One solution trusted in the UK financial sector is the Pentana Compliance software, created by the team here at Ideagen, one of the world’s fastest growing software firms. It is an automated compliance and accountability software which provides a user friendly and pinpoint alternative to more traditional ways of auditing compliance information on firms and employees.

Software, such at this, can easily map a whole organisation, providing a fluid, transparent and reliable system to maintain compliance with existing and upcoming regulations, including SMCR, IAC, BEAR (Banking Executive Accountability Regime) in Australia and MIC.

Tools like this can help organisations to identify senior managers’ responsibilities within the organisation and the qualification standards they need to fulfil their roles. What this means for organisations is that they have the ability to continuously monitor compliance from the top level of the organisation all the way down to the bottom, allowing a clear and concise overview of where responsibility is in each level of the firm.

This removes both the lost time and money that would be needed when using standard spreadsheet methods of recording compliance data, as well as removing the risk of failing to identify areas of compliance needed when new regulations come into force.

Moving forward

Innovative technology can help companies in the Asia-Pacific region manage and comply with new regulations quickly and accurately, especially financial services that are finding more traditional compliance auditing methods costly and tedious.

Moving forward, the pathway for the financial sector in the Asia-Pacific region is a positive one. The implementation of these regulatory measures should be seen as a way to step up productivity, become more ethical, improve competency, conduct and accountability throughout the organisation.

Strategic Gaming and Silicon Valley Partners Join The Sandbox’s NFT Metaverse

The decentralised social metaverse platform The Sandbox, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, has recently announced the addition of multiple members from the Non-Fungible Token (NFT), investment, and music industries to its growing list of partners. As with previous partners, the new entrants have joined The Sandbox’s virtual real estate by acquiring LAND NFTs in the open metaverse, and are committed to building experiences within it.

The partners who acquired LAND in The Sandbox’s metaverse include crypto projects such as Nifty Gateway, 21x, and Gemini, as well as renowned Silicon Valley based VCs and investment partners including Galaxy Interactive (Global gaming VC and investors in over 50 companies across the interactive landscape, including RTFKT, Bitski, Mythical Games, Immutable, and WHALE), Bill Lee (Co-Founder of Craft Ventures, former Board Director of Big Fish Games, and early investor in Cloud9, Coinbase, Opensea, and Tesla), Ken Howery (Co-Founder and former managing partner at Founders Fund, Co-Founder of PayPal), Sundeep Madra (Serial entrepreneur and investor), Gemini Frontier Fund (Founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss), Chris Ye (CEO of Uken Games and creator of top-grossing mobile games Bingo Pop, Ava’s Manor, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), Alex Reece (Early investor in Unity, Draft Kings and Lyft), Michael Witz (Founder of Redemption Games and creator of top-grossing mobile games Cookie Jam and Sweet Escapes), Edward Saatchi (Founder of Virtual Beings company Fable) and Patricio Fuks (Serial Entrepreneur & Investor), and heavy metal band, Avenged Sevenfold.

Sebastien Borget, COO & Co-Founder, The SandboxSebastien Borget, COO & Co-Founder, The Sandbox
Sebastien Borget, COO & Co-Founder, The Sandbox

“As a vibrant, growing NFT-based gaming metaverse, The Sandbox is attracting strong and diverse new partners each day, from gaming studios to IP brands to artists to celebrities to visionary entrepreneurs to technology companies,” said Sebastien Borget, COO & Co-Founder of The Sandbox. “We’re shaping our virtual world to be an experience-rich place where partners can plant a flag with virtual destination experiences on their LANDS in a powerful new entertainment community where creators, players, and brands can build and grow alongside each other.”

The recent involvement of the latest round of partners follows the beta launch of The Sandbox’s NFT marketplace, which gives anyone the opportunity to earn SAND – The Sandbox’s utility token – by monetising voxel-based NFT creations created with the dedicated software VoxEdit. Each NFT can be used inside the game platform in the future or used to build custom game experiences. LAND NFTs are the main gateway to publishing games in The Sandbox, as the platform prepares for opening its first public beta for players later this year. The Sandbox was also recently featured in The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, highlighted in both as a pioneer in the space.

The Sandbox is becoming a prime entertainment destination where brands, IPs, and celebrities can engage with their fans and offer virtual experiences including games, live performances, and social experiences. Brands will coexist through neighbouring lands, able to function as digital concert arenas, theme parks, or malls that users of The Sandbox can visit and experience by themselves or with friends.

Reflecting on this potential, partner VCs, investors, and celebrity brands share their thoughts below on what attracted them to The Sandbox:

“We have been tracking the progress of The Sandbox ecosystem from its earliest days, and have been impressed by the founding team’s consistent execution towards their mission of developing a community-owned sandbox of creativity and fun. We are delighted to do our part to develop the community through the land we’ve acquired, directly and through our portfolio companies, and cannot wait to witness how the broader ecosystem evolves,” said Richard Kim, GP at Galaxy Interactive.

“Gaming is a killer use case for the metaverse, and The Sandbox is the only metaverse tuned for high-quality games with a decentralised monetisation ecosystem for developers, asset makers, and passionate gamers,” said Bill Lee, Co-Founder of Craft Ventures. “21x will be developing all of our parcels into the premier gaming destinations across any metaverse — stay tuned!“

“The Sandbox is revolutionising gaming by empowering users to build, own, and monetise their gaming experiences in a virtual world that is decentralised,” said Tyler Winklevoss, Co-Founder of Gemini Exchange. “We plan to extend our existing platforms into The Sandbox and develop unique experiences on our properties that advance our mission of empowering the individual through crypto.”

“We have officially purchased LAND in The Sandbox and are excited to build out a virtual space for our friends to explore,” said heavy metal band, Avenged Sevenfold. “Digital ownership and the metaverse have become increasingly interesting to us and The Sandbox felt like the right fit to enter this new world.”

Upcoming LAND Sale

The Sandbox’s upcoming LAND sale event, which will take place on April 14th 2021, will offer additional premium LAND located near that of the partners announced. Each purchasable LAND will include exclusive premium NFTs and have the possibility to host events, gaming experiences, or social hubs when the game is released later in 2021. The Sandbox has already sold 45% of its 166,464 LAND NFTs, releasing them in successive waves that usually sell out in seconds. Existing LAND owners include Binance, CoinCheck, Metakovan, Pranksy, Socios, and CoinMarketCap among others.

The Sandbox has secured over 60 partnerships, including The Smurfs, Care Bears, Atari, CryptoKitties, and Shaun the Sheep, to build a fun, creative “play-to-earn” platform that offers virtual worlds and game experiences owned and created by players. The play-to-earn model gives players true ownership of anything they collect in the game, allowing them to trade it to other players (including outside the game on other websites), transfer it to other players, or even resell it.

The Sandbox is scheduled to launch its full Alpha for players in Q2 2021, enabling anyone to experience the social hub, and gain the power to build a fantastic collection of fantasy and role-playing adventures that can be traded as NFTs with other players, creators, and artists on the platform.

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

Crypto Climate Accord Launches to Decarbonise Crypto Industry by 2030
Energy Web, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR) has announced the launch of the Crypto Climate Accord – a private sector-led initiative committed to making the cryptocurrency industry 100% renewable. Inspired by the Paris Climate Agreement, the Accord brings together the crypto and financial technology (fintech) industry to build a sustainable future for global finance with support from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climate Champions.

Surging demand for crypto and accelerating adoption of blockchain-based solutions among businesses and individuals have highlighted a critical issue: the impact of the technology’s growing energy consumption on our climate. As cryptocurrencies become increasingly mainstream, it’s imperative to shift toward a renewable energy future now. The Accord intends to achieve this by working collaboratively with the cryptocurrency industry—including all blockchains—to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2025 or sooner. While many organisations are individually taking steps to decarbonise their operations, the Accord recognises that an industry-wide coalition and scalable solutions can quickly multiply impact.

The Accord will employ a “big tent” approach and act as a coordinating framework to decarbonise all aspects of the industry. Energy Web, AIR, and RMI have developed three high-level objectives for the Accord, to be finalised with supporters in advance of the United Nations’ COP 26 Climate Conference later this year:

  • Enable all of the world’s blockchains to be powered by 100% renewables by the 2025 UNFCCC COP Conference
  • Develop an open-source accounting standard for measuring emissions from the cryptocurrency industry
  • Achieve net-zero emissions for the entire crypto industry, including all business operations beyond blockchains and elimination of historical emissions, by 2040

“I’m proud to support the Crypto Climate Accord and to collaborate with other like-minded players that believe this technology can lead to a renewable energy revolution through collective action,” said Meltem Demirors, CSO of CoinShares. “It’s vital that we correct misinformation that has persisted about bitcoin’s energy use and sources. Our industry has always been focused on pushing the bleeding edge of innovation and taking action to accelerate change instead of waiting for systemic change, which takes decades and often never materialises.”

To help launch the Accord, Energy Web will bring to bear open-source software and sector expertise to help crypto market participants take near-term action and begin decarbonising the industry. “We have the technical solutions required to decarbonise blockchains. What the industry doesn’t yet have—and needs—is a concerted effort,” said Walter Kok, CEO of Energy Web. “The Accord marries the right tools and public structure needed to achieve our goals, and we hope recognition from our global supporters inspires others to join in shaping our renewable energy future.”

AIR will lead the engagement of key policymakers and regulators globally as the renewed focus on sustainability presents a clear opportunity to develop and implement pragmatic and effective energy sector-related policies. JoAnn Barefoot, CEO and founder of AIR, said: “As cryptocurrencies grow in popularity, so too does their role in the global financial system. Our goal in working with policymakers and regulators is to advance the conversation about energy use so all sectors can contribute to addressing the growing challenges associated with climate change—including crypto and global finance, more broadly.”

“In addition to urgently eliminating future emissions, this industry is uniquely placed to address its historical emissions debt. The very nature of blockchains enables historical system-wide transparency, making crypto’s emissions debt a ripe target for carbon dioxide removal solutions. This is a unique chance to publicly clean up the past, reject future emissions, and push the boundaries of climate leadership,” said Nigel Topping, High-Level Champion for Climate Action at the United Nations’ COP26.

If successful, the Crypto Climate Accord will create wins for both the planet and the global economy. For climate advocates, it can eliminate emissions from a fast-growing source of electric load. For the cleantech industry, it can onboard an entirely new class of customers with significant demand for energy. For the crypto industry, it can help support the widespread adoption of crypto by making a more sustainable and scalable industry.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

African Inter-University Hackathon Brings Students Together on Zindi for Data Science

UmojaHack Africa 2021 was an unprecedented success, bringing more than 1000 students from 126 universities across Africa to compete on Zindi in a virtual machine learning hackathon on the weekend of 27-28 March. More than $10,000 in prizes were awarded to data science students from 9 African countries, and more than 8500 submissions were made to solve three real-world machine learning challenges on Zindi.

Students from 21 African countries joined the event, representing Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

They participated in three different machine learning challenges: a financial resilience prediction challenge, a logistics challenge for African B2B service provider Sendy, and a computational biology challenge using the DeepChain platform developed by InstaDeep. The winning solutions developed by Zindi users will be shared with these organisations and deployed in real-world applications.

Winning words

In winning second place in the Sendy Delivery Rider Response Challenge, Tony Mipawa, a data science student from the University of Dodoma, Tanzania, epitomised the spirit of Zindi and of UmojaHack A year ago, Tony was a data science novice until he participated in Zindi’s first-ever Mentorship Programme in 2020. He has grown in leaps and bounds since then, as evidenced by his prize-winning submission in this hackathon, less than a year later.

“I’m very happy with the outcome,” Tony said at the awards ceremony. “My advice is, whenever there is an opportunity to learn, you should take it. Learning is all about passion; whenever there is an opportunity to learn, put your whole effort into it, do it well. Try to learn from anyone you meet. I would like to thank Zindi for what that mentorship programme gave me.”

Global support

UmojaHack Africa 2021 was sponsored by some leading names in the global and African tech, AI and financial sectors, including InstaDeep, Standard Bank Group, Microsoft, DeepMind, NVIDIA, and Old Mutual. They were integral in making the event a success by offering financial and professional development prizes, contributing their expertise and excitement to the event, and supporting UmojaHack Africa 2021 through their own channels.

“We are incredibly excited about this event spanning over 100 African universities and helping thousands of African students leverage their data science and AI skills to solve African problems,” said Chris Lwanga, Principal Director for Software Partnerships at Microsoft. “At Microsoft, we believe in empowering every organisation and person to do more.”

“Standard Bank is deeply invested in funding and implementing critical data science skills development programmes, such as Zindi’s UmojaHack Africa 2021 hackathon, to position Africa as a serious competitor in the world’s rapidly emerging data-driven sector,” said Adrian Vermooten, Chief Innovation Officer, Standard Bank Group.

According to Celina Lee, CEO of Zindi, “UmojaHack Africa has proven to be a game-changing event, especially when so many young people have been impacted by the global pandemic. This is a chance for students from across the continent to come together to learn, compete, and have fun. UmojaHack is about building skills, creating new machine learning applications to solve problems that really matter while forging new connections among the students as well as with industry. We are incredibly excited to see what the students come up with in just one weekend.”

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Fintech Week London to Host First In-Person Fintech Event of 2021

Fintech Week London is back, bigger and better than ever before, with a brand new team and event format. This July, senior decision-makers representing the most innovative companies in financial services will gather in the UK capital to discuss the position of London as a Fintech hub post-Brexit.

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease in the UK, the opportunity to network and share ideas face-to-face has been eagerly anticipated by the Fintech community.  Over the course of 5 days, Fintech Week London will welcome over 2,000 executives from high-street banks, digital challengers, technology giants, and new disruptors, who will come together to shine a light on ground-breaking developments in Financial Technology.

Raf De Kimpe, CEO of Fintech Week London, said: “We are excited and proud to be hosting the first UK event in the Fintech calendar that people can attend in person. Virtual conferences have served us well during the pandemic, but there’s nothing like being around fellow professionals and immersing yourself in face-to-face conversations.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation, paving the way for Fintech’s to take lead in the economic and social recovery process. We’ll be looking at the competition and collaboration – or, newly coined, ‘coopetition’- between Big Tech and Big Banks as they encourage customers to adopt an ever-expanding suite of integrated financial products, and how the implementation of Open Banking and Banking as a Service will transform customer relationships.”

A hybrid conference

At the centre of Fintech Week London is a 2-day hybrid conference which will bring together 1500+ delegates. These attendees will join either in-person or online for two days of networking and learning, with the virtual component extending the reach of the conference for those who are unable to participate in person.

The agenda for the conference is being curated by an independent content board comprising some of the industry’s most respected thought-leaders, such as Chris Skinner, Ghela Boskovich, Susanne Chishti, Theodora Lau, Dave Birch, and Imran Gulamhuseinwala.

“With a majority of the financial services workforce operating remotely during Covid-19, we have seen a corresponding increase in focus on issues surrounding cloud computing, digital identity, privacy and cybersecurity,” said Chris Skinner, chairperson of the content board. “This is the first event to cover all of these areas, as well as verticals like WealthTech, InsurTech and Green Finance. More than this, Fintech Week London shines the light squarely back on London, which still leads the world in these areas.”

Themes relating to post-pandemic recovery such as financial inclusion, sustainability, and digital identity will be discussed, as will the recently published Kalifa Review of UK Fintech. Deliberations on the review, which highlights opportunities to create skilled jobs, boost trade, and extend the UK’s competitive edge over other leading Fintech hubs, will be presented with keynotes from Ron Kalifa OBE himself.

Karen Sandhu, Head of Financial, Business Services and Technology at London & Partners, added: “Fintech Week London is a great opportunity for Fintech leaders and innovators to come together and discuss how London and the UK can maintain its position at the centre of global Fintech. London is a world-leading tech and financial centre and its Fintech companies have a pivotal role to play in building back better from the impacts of the global pandemic. We look forward to welcoming this important event to London in July.”

Registration for Fintech Week London is now open, and as a media partner for Fintech Week London, The Fintech Times are able to offer a 15% discount on ticket prices with the code ‘TFT15’’.

For more information on Fintech Week London, click here.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

FICO Survey Finds UK Banks Struggled With Covid-19 Financial Crime Surge

 As cases of fraud and money laundering rose during the pandemic last year, banks in the UK faced unforeseen challenges. In a new study by global analytics software provider FICO and independent research firm OMDIA, 79 per cent of respondents from UK banks said that working from home had a high or major impact on the effectiveness of their financial crime prevention.

“Just as the pandemic put huge stresses on the health care system, it put huge stresses on fraud and financial crime management teams,” explained Toby Carlin, senior director for fraud consulting at FICO. “Teams that collaborate in person and work with large software systems that have restricted access found that working from home hurt their productivity. This was compounded as the volume of fraud attacks rose.”

Challenges with Technology

The impact of having multiple software systems for fraud management and financial crime compliance was also cited by UK respondents. This was the top technology challenge for 21 per cent of UK respondents, which puts it at the top of the challenges. Almost half – 49 per cent – of respondents ranked it first, second or third among their technology challenges, the most of any challenge.

“Banks are feeling the pain of having fragmented software for managing fraud and financial crime,” said Carlin. “Even though some 80 per cent of the functions between fraud prevention software and AML software are the same, the systems are nearly always separate, and the teams are usually separate too. In our survey, 64 per cent of UK respondents said these teams don’t even report to the same person at the bank. The latest systems, such as our FICO Falcon X, provide these technologies in a single platform, which can catalyze an integrated approach at a bank.”

The FICO study consisted of 110 interviews by OMDIA with senior executives driving, managing, or directly supporting financial crime, in the US, UK, Brazil, Germany, the Nordics and Canada. The survey included senior executives responsible for fraud management, financial crime compliance and security/technology. Respondents were roughly equal from medium-sized banks and large banks.

For full survey results, view the report here.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

Visa Processes One Billion Contactless Payments

Visa has announced that it has processed one billion additional touch-free payments, where previously consumers would have needed to enter their PIN, as consumer confidence in contactless payments continues to grow. This milestone has been reached in less than a year since contactless payment limits were increased in 29 countries across Europe in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The growth of contactless payments has been a key trend during the pandemic, as touch-free payments have gone from being a convenience to a necessity for both consumers and retailers. Research from Visa shows that two-thirds (65%) of consumers globally would prefer to use contactless payments as much as, or more than, they are currently

Charlotte Hogg, Chief Executive Officer, Europe at Visa, commented: “The demand for touch-free payments indicates that contactless has become the norm for European consumers and retailers. Contactless payments are popular because they combine speed and convenience with security. Indeed, contactless cards experience among the lowest fraud rates of any payment type and in countries where contactless payments are widely used, fraud at the point of sale remains at historic lows.

“This milestone demonstrates how consumers and retailers now rely on digital solutions to make everyday payments. Enabling contactless payments will be key to Europe’s economic recovery and while raising contactless limits alone won’t revitalise the European economy, it is a step in the right direction, giving consumers the confidence to spend, and providing shops, restaurants and other retailers a boost just when they need it most.”

Growing demand for contactless transactions is evident across Europe, with over 80% of in-store Visa payments now contactless. In France and Germany, the number of contactless transactions has increased by two thirds and almost half respectively year-on-year. Of the one billion transactions, 400 million took place in the UK, and further growth can be expected given the announcement that the UK contactless limit will increase to £100 later this year.

The popularity of e-commerce is also surging across Europe, with over 15 countries experiencing a 40% or higher increase in e-commerce transactions in December 2020 versus the year before

With many businesses having to operate under restrictions and keep up with changing consumer behaviour, merchants are increasingly moving to online operations and embracing digital and contactless payments. Visa is working closely with its clients and partners to digitally enable over eight million small businesses across Europe, helping them adapt to enable customers to shop the way they want.

Contactless remains one of the most popular and secure payment methods for Visa customers and will be crucial to Europe’s economic recovery when restrictions lift and shops reopen.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.