Geidea Launches BETA Testing For New Payment Process Products In Saudi Arabia’s SME Market

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Leading Saudi fintech company, Geidea has officially launched its BETA testing for a host of new state of the art digital payment processing and store management products. Merchants will be able to co-create product features alongside Geidea based on their needs, give feedback and suggest  new innovations.

The new digital product range will accommodate every type of SME through every step of the payment process with an all-in-one, affordable and attractive solution. This will not only include card and digital payment processing but also everything from e-commerce such as the website builder, e-invoicing and payment gateway to store and restaurant management software. Merchants will also be able to integrate solutions with their existing software or hardware, with third party providers like  courier services, and food delivery apps.

The BETA testing is due to last until August followed by a soft launch in September and a full roll out in October. The testing will ensure existing merchants are completely satisfied with the products before proceeding to the launch stage.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – GETTY

At present, Geidea has 70% of the market share in POS terminals that are sold to banks in Saudi Arabia and is number one in the market. In February, Geidea was the first fintech company to obtain a payment licence from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, allowing it to operate in the Saudi banking market as a non-banking actor.

Now, Geidea plans to utilise its long standing legacy and its licence to empower merchants to start, grow or manage their businesses anytime and anywhere by providing them with the latest technological payment tools to do so.

Abdullah Faisal Alothman, Founder and Co-Chairman of Geidea

Abdullah Faisal Alothman, Founder and Co-Chairman of Geidea, says, “We are excited to launch our BETA testing and to co-create innovative product features with our merchants. Through this process, we will be able to gain valuable insight into what our merchants want from their payment process products and to tailor our services to their needs.”

He adds, “At Geidea, we are committed to helping SMEs thrive by providing them with customer centric and best-in-class payment solutions that until now, only bigger merchants and global chains had access to. For SMEs, these products will serve as the digital, inexpensive and agile solution to payment acceptance and business management. Our new products are designed for any business, whether they’re on the go, in-store or online.”

Geidea Financial Tech:

Geidea is a leading Saudi fintech company dedicated to providing the latest quality driven payment solutions to its customers in both the private and public sectors. Geidea was the first company to obtain a fintech license from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, and aims to be a Middle East, Africa & South East Asia EMEA market leader in payment acceptance channels. In line with Geidea’s firm belief that payment solutions should be customised and customer-centric, its agile products use the latest tech to help businesses easily manage their cash flow and accept payment anywhere, anytime.

Creating an inclusive, forward thinking Saudi Arabian business community is at the heart of Geidea’s vision, supporting individuals, SMEs and the wider economy towards achieving the Saudi Vision 2030. By equipping regional SMEs with the tools to stay ahead of the game and thrive in their business ventures, Geidea aims to prove that anyone can make an impact in fast-changing Saudi Arabia.

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Markus Kuger, Chief Economist at commercial data and analytics firm, Dun & Bradstreet

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“Today’s confirmation of a 2% contraction of real GDP growth in the first quarter of 2020 is the sharpest drop we’ve seen since the global financial crisis in 2008.

Although UK figures for Q1 are not as extreme as the eurozone contraction (where GDP fell by almost 4%), Q2 figures are expected to show continued contraction as the UK lockdown was implemented slightly later than in other European countries. The data released today shows that the UK economy shrank by 5.8% in March, and the impact of COVID-19 on the economy is likely to increase significantly in April and throughout Q2.

“The Federation of Small Businesses has also confirmed today that 40% of small businesses have closed due to the pandemic, with a third of those considering redundancies and unsure if they will reopen at all. Smaller businesses make up over 99% of private businesses in the UK and a rise in unemployment and business failures will put further strain on the economy as businesses struggle to recover.

“Taking into account faltering growth, higher unemployment rates, disrupted supply chains and an anticipated rise in credit risks, Dun & Bradstreet has downgraded the UK’s country risk rating to a new all-time low, and moved the UK from ‘low risk’ to the ‘medium risk’ category. Our analysis has also resulted in a ‘deteriorating rapidly’ outlook for the UK with further downgrades likely in the months ahead.”

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KASKO Supports SIGNAL IDUNA to Launch New Legal Notice Insurance for Online Business Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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  • The new protection is part of the “Non-Food Retail Initiative” being run by SIGNAL IDUNA and the Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE), a leading German retail organisation, to strengthen local trade.

  • KASKO built the new insurance solution is in 8 weeks, which includes integration into a third-party tool that automatically check the online business is legally compliant by going through its website, helping to avoid hefty fines

  • The SI Legal Notice Protection also provides customers with tips on how to ensure their business is fully compliant. The aim is to help more German retail businesses move online successfully at a time where traditional bricks and mortar stores are closed due to the COVID-19 Crisis. 

KASKO, the London InsurTech providing the fastest and most flexible platform for insurance incumbents and startups to digitalise and scale their product offering, has announced its latest work for German insurance provider, SIGNAL IDUNA, launching the SI Legal Notice Protection in just 8 weeks. 47 percent of German online retailers have been fined for not having fully compliant websites and for businesses moving online during the COVID-19 challenge, the average fine they risk receiving for missing key information is up to €2000.

KASKO worked with SIGNAL IDUNA to launch the new product which is part of the insurer’s ‘Non-Food Retail Initiative’ in collaboration with German retail association, Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE), to strengthen local trade. Businesses that are going digital for the first time can fall foul of providing inappropriate or missing disclaimers, warranty for defects or data privacy policies. When they do, they will be fined. KASKO’s digital product suite includes an automatic screening of their website for data to see what they do and don’t have, looking at the risk of a new customer and it removes the need for expensive and time-inefficient lawyers.

The insurance costs customers €24.99 per month, which will cover an initial review by Signal Iduna’s partner law firms and costs associated with legal and court expenses expenses, dunning fees and third-party damages, up to €100,000.

Nikolaus Suehr, Co-Founder and CEO of KASKO commented, “This product can make a big difference to small businesses as they move their operation online in the time of crisis. We’re really proud of the work we have done, and know that this product will make a difference. We are also happy with the success of our partnership with SIGNAL IDUNA which came via an introduction by one of the premier global strategy consulting firms. Collaborating with trusted advisors like them is opening new doors to insurance partners who are adapting their services to include best-in-class solutions to better serve their own clients. KASKO is in a great place to provide them with the smart digital solutions they need for customers today.”

Denise Stahlhut, Product Manager for SIGNAL IDUNA, added, “Speed and timing were crucial in delivering this product. Right now, business owners are quickly having to pivot to ensure they survive and are able to still trade. Whilst this is great for business, for those who haven’t run a digital store before, they are more likely to miss critical information in order to be fully compliant. Our new insurance will not only protect them, but provide them with the tools and information they need to ensure they are operating as they should be. KASKO were fast and agile in responding to the needs of this product as the world around us continued to shift, and as a result we have great third-party features that will really help our customers.” 

For more information go to www.kasko.io or https://www.anfassbargut.com/abmahnschutz/

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Three actions that help gigs and small businesses where it matters most…

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As we are slowly putting our heads above ground, we see
early effects on spending and the way we spend as people and
businesses.
Recent research
clearly shows that one in five Londoners has
cancelled direct debits over the last few weeks for
‘non-essential’ expenditure such as lease cars, leisure
memberships, subscriptions, etc. Charities suffer
equally from full cancellations
that will take a lot of effort
to reinstate when the ‘real economy’ veers back.

We all agree on our concern for the real
economy
: the small businesses, the independent traders, and
workers (#gig) that always find themselves at the forefront of
change. So besides ‘voting with our hands and feet’ as we buy
stuff what can we do for them? As a bank, a PSP? As the world is
changing so should we by adopting and offering other – more
balanced and instant – ways to pay and collect money.

Action 1 – instant money in the bank

‘Cash is king’ is today truer than ever. It
is no good to have a long list of debtors who do not pay or not on
time. The cost of late payments cannot be overstated in terms of
pure money, but also in terms of lost opportunities and late hires.
Hitachi Capital UK issued a research paper in September 2019 and
calculated that late payments cost the UK SMEs some £51.5billion a
year. The
European Payments Report
researched nearly 10,000 businesses in
29 countries all over Europe on the risk, impact and solutions of
late payments. Faster and instant payments can make a huge
difference, probably more so than ‘organised encouragement’
such as the Prompt Payment Code in the UK or the European Late
Payments Directive, that most small businesses, let alone
independent traders, are aware of.

The report shows that in general SMEs protect themselves against
late and bad payment through pre-payments (42%), credit checks
(24%), debt collection if all fails (20%), and some go for bank
guarantees and or credit insurance (10/10%) and about 6% opt for
invoice financing.

The only true solutions above are pre-payments and financing,
whereby the former does not necessarily build a great experience
upfront if you demand 100% before delivery and factoring is quite a
hard process to go through for infrequent customers.

A Request to Pay private
label scheme
allows a bank to offer a full end to end service
to its business customers and charitable organisations, clubs etc.
to secure instant receivables or on time via a pre-agreed time
schedule for partial payments. A bank that helps businesses send
invoices and receive money instantly is truly standing up for its
customers and puts its ‘money where its mouth is’.

 

Action 2 – create fair balance and control for
all

 Instant money collection is not new of course,
but it used to be tied to a predefined payment product – by the
bank – like a direct debit. This is much loved by the issuer, the
payee, but not so much by the client, the payer as we now find out.
Many clubs and charities are suffering today from (unnecessary)
cancellations simply because people are now very wary about money
just leaving the account. As wardrobes got sorted out, so did

the lists of direct debits over the last few weeks
. If you
would be able to offer your customers or donators the opportunity
to say yes/no on a monthly basis some business and revenue would be
saved. Also, direct debits are quite laborious to set up and
require a lot of attention on both sides before anything can happen
and the ‘Pause†button does not work in all countries. Request
to Pay services delete the sense of being out of control and
redress the balance in a world that is fragile enough as it is
today.

 

Action 3 – free up real business time

Most entrepreneurs love their job and our passionate about their
business, yet ‘hate’ the admin and hassle around it. As a
veteran SME banker told us recently: “In forty years of SME
banking one truth holds up: anything that costs less or saves time
gets a thumb’s upâ€. This insight is not new and used by many
players from accounting package providers to (neo) banks and single
purpose fintech apps. There is indeed a lot of new great technology
out there, but we see that busy businessmen and women prefer not to
go ‘app hopping’ after a or during a busy working day. They
would prefer to make an invoice in the banking or payments app they
are used to, send it by Whatsapp or email, whichever tool liked by
the company or the client, securely, get notifications when the
client has received the invoice and paid by ‘click’ or on a
time schedule, or when he/she is late. Reminders are issued and
payments are automatically making money through work. Dashboards give insight
and that is key
.

 

Let’s join forces and start today

Banks and other licensed payment providers still have the
x-factor at hand today: they can give their customers a
single business overview across multiple
banks
AND offer accounting package integration and
reconciliation
AND work with external parties if
they like
around niche fee-based services such as lending,
check-out loans, invoice financing etc.

Under the financial institution’s own brand, through the label
their customers like and trust. This way one builds a relevant and
rewarding relationship from day one, through pain and gain,
hopefully into a period of enterprise ready international growth.
Why not build all that trust and mutual insight through your own
hard-earned brand, rather than give that experience away? You can
be that bank for your customers today. Let us be your invisible force
behind the scenes!

The post
Three actions that help gigs and small businesses where it matters
most…
appeared first on The Fintech Times.

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The #FinTech4SDG Payoff

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Bankers and founders alike have made FinTech for Sustainability a foundation for getting rich quick – while protecting the planet. Our own pages have reported on Standard Chartered’s $75bn commitment towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN’s own task forces have been trying to figure out ways to get FinTech money in the hands of start-ups that focus on social, environmental and labour issues. FinTech can raise a lot of money for SDGs – as well as the FinTech start-ups, intrapreneured ventures and even formal I-bank led FinTech start-ups. The $300 trillion figure gets bandied around quite a bit. Could a FinTech start up really attract so much money — and for such a good cause?

Our research finds that only $50 billion to $125 billion could come from a ‘FinTech Dividend. Unlike the claiming trillions, these rewards can go to FinTech firms who know how to play the policy game. Such a dividend could come from FinTech platforms getting subsidized loans — like several banks have vowed to give. Such a divided will not come from the vapid, one line recommendations made by the UN and World Bank.

In this paper, FinTech greenfields and remittances alone represent multi-billion dollar opportunities. Some FinTech initiatives actually compete – rather than support- private FinTech, making private Fintech investing for the SDGs a risk… and an opportunity. If you can get the Asian Development Bank, IFC, or European Investment Bank to fund your company, you are sailing. If not, you compete against firms that do receive this kind of patronage.

Instead of policy pronouncements (from the UN and local governments like the US) we need legal reform. A clear position by a body by the Finacial Stability Board (or FSB, the closest thing we have to a global rulemaker) would help. Yet, the FSB clearly wants to see what shakes out of the financial system — not in guiding it. Country law can vary like night and day. In Taiwan’s case, their official FinTech law consists of a few pages of general guidelines (following the Chinese law-writing approach). In Mexico, their FinTech law spands hundreds of pages – clearly movatied by the American school of law writing. Yet, neither method seems better – as measured by pulling in FinTech assets, FinTech focused on SDGs, or on sustainable development more generally. We do not know what encourages productive and profitable FinTech4SDGs.

Yet, given UN waste, membership waste, and little support, we know that SDGs could – at a max – receive only about 3%-13% of their funding from FinTechs. Making such a number higher will rely on deregulation for so many — which keeps investment (even by government agencies) at a mere $200 billion. The UN won’t invent the next, great FinTech to help fund the SDGs. Start ups in remittances and digital wallet-style credit — whether on a blockchain…or not — have also raised billions. These areas should get both public and private support.

But $50 million is better than nothing. If you put a ‘SDG spin’ on your start up, you are more likely to get funding, and impress your socially-conscious peers, workers and younger siblings.

For the research, see:

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3589224

Dr. Bryane Michael currently works for the University of Hong Kong. He worked on financial law and economics at the World Bank and OECD in the 1990s, EU and Oxford for the past 20 years, and continues work with the Hong Kong government on financial law reform.

Authored by Bryane Michael, University of Hong Kong

  • Dr. Bryane Michael (FSRA) researches how to make FinTech law more profitable for their host jurisdictions – at the University of Hong Kong. His project also includes developing an investible FinTech4SDG index for institutional investors (as a Series 7 and 66 securities advisor) and pilot programammes for 2 countries.

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Koine secures in-principal approval in the UAE as institutional custody and settlement platform goes from strength to strength

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Koine  is pleased to announce that it has been awarded in-principle approval (IPA) to provide custody in relation to Virtual Assets in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).  The IPA was granted by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of ADGM.

With a growing demand for institutional investment in virtual assets with the emerging growth of institutional investors in digital securities, Koine’s regulated services will meet the needs of both Koine customers, as well as the broader digital asset community.

Koine’s post-trade solution was created in order to provide the most secure, easy to use Institutional custody, settlement and related cash management service for the new generation of digitised assets. Critically eliminating counter-party, credit and insolvency risks in a compliant framework with a strong governance environment. It also allows Institutional Capital the ability to invest in digital assets without any change to conventional fund mandates.

The design that Koine utilises, allows for any potential failure of an exchange/venue leaving client assets fully intact and available for use. The Koine platform allows for assets & fiat currency to be moved in sub-second timeframes between market venues allowing for settlement in real-time using Delivery vs. Payment (DvP) and at fixed prices which are known in advance. Humans intervention is removed from the standard post-trade process reducing security risks.

Additionally, Koine ensure that the average value of funds held in hot wallets is nil. Value at Risk is properly insured. The platform is also suitable for Market Makers and Algorithmic Traders.

Leading the Koine team as CEO and Chairman is Hugh L. Hughes, ex-CEO of Société Générale Securities and co-founder of Fixnetix, the market data and electronic trading platform later bought by DXC Technology.

Hugh Hughes, Chairman and CEO at Koine, said: “The Koine model has always been one built upon the fundamental importance of good governance. This is the only way to attract institutional capital into the digital asset market, unlocking the huge, industry wide benefits that come with it. Delivering best practice and regulatory compliance for our institutional clients is something we take very seriously. Not only does this latest In-Principal Approval from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) further strengthen Koine’s global footprint, but also serves to reaffirm our belief in robust regulation. 

“We look forward to future constructive dialogue with regulators and institutions in the UAE and around the world, in line with our focus of putting the client’s needs for regulatory oversight at front of mind. Following this further vote of confidence in our model, we are sure this will give our clients even greater reassurance when looking to move into one of the most vibrant sectors of the financial ecosystem.”

Dominic Longman, CEO, Koine, Middle East, said I am extremely excited to be returning to Abu Dhabi with Koine, to build out this key financial infrastructure that can support not just those first virtual assets but all asset classes as they move to tokenised/blockchain technology. Koine begins to answer the question “How to mitigate the geo-political risks of the current financial infrastructure” and allows for greater control and visibility of assets by their true owners and we look forward to playing a role in Abu Dhabi’s great vision for 2030”

Abdulla Al MansooriChairman DesignateKoine, Middle East stated “The in-principle approval (IPA) from the Abu Dhabi Global Market is an important milestone in our efforts to be a leading enabler of the digitally-enabled market infrastructure and rapidly growing digital transformation process in the region. Our capital market expertise, innovation and deep understanding of customer needs places us in a unique position to be the premier provider of custody and settlement services for the institutional market participants seeking to take advantage of the growing digital assets revolution”

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Rsquare Technologies Celebrating 10 Years Of Shaping Innovation In The Kingdom of Bahrain

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 Bahrain based software development company Rsquare Technologies has passed the 10 year mark in the Kingdom. As a leader within the FinTech space, Rsquare has developed 19 innovative IT FinTech solutions, that were utilized by 400+ clients locally. The company has supported public and governmental entities spanning across various key sectors including Oil and gas, Insurance, banking, education, automobile, construction, hospitals and medical, and more.

Rsquare Technologies has created a successful case study as a FinTech pioneer in Bahrain. The company is a resident of Bahrain FinTech Bay; MENA’s largest FinTech hub, and has been part of several high-level delegations taking part in the Singapore FinTech Festival, Bahraini economic delegation to India, Vizag FinTech Festival  in Andhra Pradesh, and several regional conferences in Jeddah, UAE, and more.

End of 2019, Rsquare Technologies and Singapore-based venture accelerator Startup Accelerator have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote cooperation in FinTech and other emerging technologies while fostering innovation and startup growth. The company is currently in talks with several banks regionally, in line with their expansion plans focused on Kuwait and Muscat, to introduce custom bilingual software for their market needs.

Over the years, Rsquare Technologies has built an internal research and development center to create, and produce “Bahrain-made innovative solutions” to serve the Kingdom, whilst providing a launching pad for younger generations to excel and exhibit their technological skills. The company’s mission is to become one of the biggest IT development centers in the kingdom of Bahrain, and to serve the entire Region.

Rsquare Technologies is a custom software development company that specializes in developing scalable user-friendly applications and automation software, backed by exceptional technological expertise. The company offers cross dimensional  IT- focused solutions which encompasses Artificial intelligence, automation, maintenance, and management tools. Some  of their products include an Artificial Intelligence powered chatbot Sara, Automation tools such as compucheque; computerized cheque system pre-configured with all Bahrain banks, compuform; an innovative form printing software, CIS software; a survey automation process focused on the insurance sector, Easy Recon; which automates the reconciliation process for financial institutions. Additionally, management tools include the HRMS; a one click help-desk that gives a complete overview, property management and maintenance tools to serve the real estate sector, and more.

Shanthini Raja, Founder, Chairperson & CEO of Rsquare Technologies “We are celebrating 10 years of shaping innovation. Day to day we continue to follow the ethos of building regionally-focused Hybrid tech solutions that work for this market, and allow businesses to do more. Our continued success, and resilience in the Kingdom reflects Bahrain’s commitment to creating a business-friendly culture. We were blessed to have a strong foundation for FinTech companies, like us, to flourish, with the right infrastructure, tech-friendly regulations and a thriving entrepreneurial community.

She added, “Our successful journey these past years is due to the support from our clients, partners, and most importantly our committed and passionate  team for allowing us to continue, and to do more. We are grateful, and thankful to have been supported, and backed by various governmental entities such as Bahrain EDB, BCCI, MOIC, Tamkeen, The Indian Embassy, Rowad, and more.”

Shanthini Raja is a pioneer within the FinTech space, and has established herself as a regional speaker, mentor and entrepreneur. She is committee Member of the Women in FinTech Bahrain; an initiative by the Bahrain Economic Development Board, an active member of Bahrain Business Women Society, and has been involved in various business and community groups such as Amcham Bahrain, Bahrain Entrepreneurship Organization (BEO), Bahrain India Society and several more. She received several awards including the Bahrain Business Women Award from the Asian Chamber of Commerce in Hyderabad India. The Indian Arab Friendship Foundation, and more.

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The Unyielding Few: How fintech and friends are defending our SMEs

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What does fintech mean to you? For Countingup’s CEO, Tim Fouracre, “Fintech to me is simply innovation in finance. Innovation is about looking at things differently, or in a new way”. For the six million small and medium businesses (SMEs) in the UK today, fintech could mean something more. It could be that helping hand, in a desperate situation.

As the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic take hold, our incredible tech and fintech sector is standing up for vulnerable businesses, in the most diverse ways imaginable. From government lobbying to facilitating cashflow, our industry is taking on a whole new meaning for stranded businesses today.

 

Keeping our businesses in business

According to the Office of National Statistics, 77% of businesses are managing to continue[1], but working around the lockdown is no easy task.  Particularly hard hit are food services, art and entertainment, where only 20% can still trade. Finding ways to adapt is stressful. It’s even tougher for business owners who need to self-isolate or may feel digitally challenged.

Recognising this problem, 11:FS’ co-founder, Jason Bates, posted this appeal on Twitter, “We’ve got three weeks to save a million small businesses – pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cafes. They don’t have cash flow, they need to sell prepayment for future services. A simple voucher platform. A volunteer team are building it this week”.

With record speed, SaveMyLocal.org was born. Since launching, more than 40 businesses are now using the pre-paid voucher scheme to stay afloat. Setting up a page is stunningly simple and volunteers such as Senior Digital Product Manager, Jack Maddock are on hand to help.

Maddock comments, “I think it’s so important that we help SMEs where possible. These business owners are having to deal with so much at the moment so if we can allow them to bring in income and take some of that stress off – why wouldn’t we? Wouldn’t it be a shame to come out of this and think oh I could’ve helped that business that went bust?”.

This touching attitude has been reflected across the tech community, with swathes of leaders harnessing their tech muscles to help prop up struggling SMEs.

Free guidance, business support and funding

Over in Wales, prominent tech leaders are closely collaborating with local government to provide free advice to businesses. Offering support are some of the country’s most esteemed entrepreneurs – including those behind Admiral, Airbus, Amplyfi, Awen, DevOpsGroup, Thales, Tramshed Tech, and Wolfberry. The calibre of expertise donated by is unprecedented.

Known as the CV-19 Tech Taskforce for Wales, the group was launched by Director of Tramshed Tech, Mark John. John comments, “We’re here to mitigate the impact of this dreadful disease upon our financial health and the long-term health of the Welsh economy.

Despite its population of just 3 million, a staggering 50,000[2] people are employed in the Welsh tech sector. Leaving them jobless would be devastating for the country. Entrepreneurs like John have their eyes fixed firmly on the future, and not just the lockdown. “With the help of business and banking stakeholders as well as public sector support agencies, we’ve been assisting the dialogue with Welsh and UK Government to help shape both short-term and longer term measures to see our industry through this crisis”, says John.  “To witness such a range of partners all pulling together to help each other in these desperate times through the joint Taskforce has been an uplifting experience – now and for the future”.

Sharing information

Way back in 1597, Sir Francis Bacon penned the phrase, “Knowledge is power”. Fast-forward 423 years to today, and tech company, Amplyfi, is using that same mantra to support SMEs. The firm is providing unlimited COVID-19 business and health data, entirely for free. CoronavirusGateway.com collates all the documents and augments them into easily digestible categories, so that business owners are armed with as much credible information as possible.

CEO of Amplyfi, Chris Ganje elaborates, “To support UK SMEs, we’ve created an open source Covid-19 dashboard, which presents analysis of UK related news alongside pertinent datasets linked to the health of the UK economy, such as exchange rates and stock market data”.

It’s a unique approach, and undeniably a helpful one for confused or struggling SMEs looking to make the best decisions.

Ganje comments, “A key mission for AMPLYFI is to empower organisations with easy access to all gold-standard sources from around the world”. To further help SMEs gain clarity, Amplyfi also scans the web for “fake news” and helpfully indicates on their portal what’s not deemed credible.

 

Fighting to provide loans  

Around 270,000[3] Bounce Back Loans (BBLS) have been approved for SMEs, but it’s not nearly enough to help struggling SMEs. Research in April shows a meagre 2% of successful applicants had actually received any money from CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme)[4].

As banks struggle with the back-breaking demand, fintechs are leaping up and trying to help, with varying success. Founder of several multi-billion fintech firms, Nick Ogden has been lobbying government to allow alternative lenders to also offer government-backed loans. “Across the UK, we need to leverage all of our banking and fintech assets to help these struggling businesses get the liquidity they need”, says Ogden. “Challenger banks play a critical role in the UK economy”. However, despite his extraordinary influence and following, his demands seem to be (at the time of writing) falling on deaf ears. “There’s an apparent lack of awareness of the fintech market space […] We have a whole raft of companies who are not included on the scheme, such as Monzo or Tide – customers are in effect being told not to go to them”.

Other challengers, such as Tide and Starling Bank have experienced more success. After extensive lobbying, as accredited banks, they’ve recently been added to the list of those able to offer the government-backed loans. Head of Corporate Affairs for Starling, Alex Frean elaborates, “As a bank for SMEs we didn’t hesitate to get accredited for lending under the government-backed lending schemes for small and medium-sized enterprises. In our first four days of lending under the Bounce Bank Loans Scheme, we approved nearly £300 million to help business owners stay afloat”.

Starling has geared up to help SMEs access the loans and anticipates a surge in lending for both BBLS and CBILS. To keep the momentum going, they’ve also formed a strategic partnership with Funding Circle to provide £300 million of CBILS lending to small businesses on their platform. But according to Frean, it’s just the beginning, “We are not complacent. We know that demand is huge and that many more small enterprises are in desperate need of credit, and that many of them are frustrated at having to wait even a day for money, so we’re working round the clock to serve them“.

 

Helping small businesses navigate the loan applications

To help speed up the clogged loan systems, some fintechs have created simple application processes and calculators. Quickly figuring out exactly what support SMEs are entitled to claim and which forms are needed is crucial. Fintechs offering this thoughtful service, include a group of volunteers known as COVID Credit, as well as Ebury, Starling Bank, Revolut and Countingup. CEO of Countingup, Tim Fouracre elaborates, “Our mission at Countingup is to make it easier to run a small business. Right now, it’s incredibly hard for businesses. Of course, our main focus is reducing the admin of running a small business with our banking and accounting app, but if there are other ways that we can flexibly use our resources to make a difference then we will. That’s why we also launched an SEISS calculator on our website so sole traders can work out what grant they are eligible for and therefore plan accordingly”.

These supportive systems provide some much-needed clarity for overwhelmed SMEs, helping them to compile everything they need into easy-to-process applications.

A small light in the darkness

All of us are living in a time riddled with uncertainty, stress and anxiety. Businesses can’t even plan ahead for tomorrow, let alone next year. It’s in these moments of crisis that people’s true colours can come out, their underlying motivations and beliefs. The response of the tech and fintech movement has been breath-taking. Above is just a small snapshot of the many companies who’ve stood up to help out. Researching the work of just one tech firm is impressive but looking at the industry as a whole is awe-inspiring. So many unique skills and creative solutions have been thrown into the ring to save our SMEs. Together the industry is fighting with everything it’s got to help them survive… for free.

The journey ahead is unknown. But, at least for this writer, there is a speck of light at the end of the tunnel: the unshakeable support of fintech and friends. The skilled and impassioned problem-solvers who won’t stop lobbying government, won’t stop innovating solutions and won’t stop defending SMEs. Here’s to them, the unyielding few – who might just save a great many livelihoods.

[1] As of 7th May 2020, https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/business/businessservices/bulletins/coronavirusandtheeconomicimpactsontheuk/latest

[2] https://www.business-live.co.uk/technology/new-covid-19-tech-taskforce-17982651

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52684397

[4] https://www.verdict.co.uk/leasing-life/news/bank-of-england-governor-piles-pressure-on-bank-ceos/

  • Hannah is a curious copywriter and content producer with a penchant for the fascinating world of fintech. In 2019 she left her straight-laced senior management role in the City to pursue her dream of becoming a liberated freelance writer. As well as producing content for editors and wealth management clients, Hannah loves to publish her own blogs and interviews

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Covid-19 money worries impacting mental wellbeing

https://thefintechtimes.com/covid-19-money-worries-impacting-mental-wellbeing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=covid-19-money-worries-impacting-mental-wellbeing
  • Money worries can have a negative impact on people’s mental wellbeing, and those with mental health problems can struggle to manage their finances

  • One in five (21%) say concerns about money are having a bigger impact than health worries on their mental health at present, and fathers aged 35-44 are particularly affected

  • One in four (38%) are concerned about the impact of financial stress on a loved ones’ mental state

  • To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Open Up 2020 Challenge is revealing some apps that can help both with mental and financial wellbeing

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May), new research from the Open Up 2020 Challenge reveals money worries are negatively impacting the mental health of a quarter (23%) of the population. In fact, one in five (21%) say financial stress is having a bigger impact on their mental wellbeing than physical health concerns during the covid-19 crisis.

A quarter (25%) are more stressed about money than usual and 16% say financial worries are negatively affecting relationships with friends and family, although this almost doubles among 35-44 year olds (31%). Indeed, men in this age range with dependent children are some of the most likely to be struggling with their mental health because of financial concerns. They are significantly more likely to be more stressed about money than usual (49% vs 25%), or say that that money is having a bigger impact than physical health on their wellbeing (46% vs 21%). Worryingly, 42% of this group have lost sleep over money since the crisis began (more than double the national average of 19%).

The nation is also very concerned about the impact of money troubles on their loved ones’ mental health with four in ten (38%) worried about this. This concern increases when asked about those with existing mental health problems or cognitive impairments, as previous Open Up 2020 research found half (51%) fear vulnerable friends and family falling victim to scammers exploiting the pandemic.

Two apps which are designed specifically to support people with existing mental health or cognitive issues manage their money and stay safe are:

  • Kalgera – a personal finance platform for older or vulnerable people with cognitive impairments. Kalgera uses neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence to detect and predict financial vulnerability to help prevent fraud, alerting a trusted friend or family member.
  • Toucan – helps people who need extra help managing their money because of impairments like mental illness or dementia. The app allows users to securely share spending alerts or financial information with someone they trust, typically a carer, to get timely support.

In addition, there are a range of apps that help people improve their budgeting and money management, ensuring people have one less thing to worry about:

  • Cleo – a financial assistant with a sense of humour, personality and intelligence that is already empowering over 3 million customers to reach their financial goals through tips on spending, budgeting and saving.
  • Moneyhub – a financial management platform that empowers people to do more with their money by offering actionable insights from a review of all of someone’s accounts.
  • Plum – a free app that sorts all the tricky parts of money management. Plum automatically saves small amounts every few days, finds better deals on bills, offers spending insights and invests savings to help people be better off over their lifetime.

Lubaina Manji, Senior Programme Manager, Nesta Challenges, said: “People are facing a raft of financial challenges right now, which can have a severely negative impact on mental health, and those with existing mental health problems are even more at risk. Organisations such as Mind and the Money Advice Service offer support for people struggling with their mental and financial wellbeing and there are also apps and tools available that allow people to take control of their finances. These range from tools which help take the stress out of day-to-day money management to those designed specifically to protect those with mental health and cognitive problems from fraud or further financial hardship.”

All of these solutions are finalists in the Open Up 2020 Challenge, run by Nesta Challenges in partnership with the Open Banking Implementation Entity. There are 15 finalists in total which have already received £50,000 in funding in addition to non-financial support to further develop their product and enable them to reach and help even more people across the UK. Kalgera and Toucan were each also awarded an additional £50,000 owing to their focus on financial inclusion. Between three and four finalists will go on to be named winners in October 2020, receiving a further £150,000-200,000 each so they can help even more people to manage their money.

Imran Gulamhuseinwala OBE, Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), said: “During this current time, it’s more important than ever that people have access to technologies that make managing their finances easier. It is encouraging to see how the financial services industry has risen to this challenge, using the power of open banking technology and our network as a springboard for collaboration and innovation to deliver products that make a positive impact on consumers’ lives.”

For more information about Open Up 2020, and the full list of finalists, visit openup.challenges.org/

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Apex Group Ltd., a global financial services provider announces the launch of its Escrow offering for North American clients.

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Apex delivers a single-source solution to asset managers, capital markets and private clients across fund, financial and corporate solutions, via 45 offices and circa. 3,500 employees worldwide.

The launch of Escrow services for the Americas follows the Group’s announcement in March that it had rolled out additional corporate services in the region, through its local accounting, tax, payroll and employee benefits business.

Continuing to build out its corporate solutions arm locally, the launch of Apex’s Capital Markets offering in North America follows the success of its long-standing European service arm to provide a range of services, along with independent experts and rapid turnaround. Its core service hub for these solutions will be the New York office.

As an independent Escrow services provider, Apex delivers tailored support and Escrow solutions with its clients now able to benefit from these capabilities;

Escrow arrangements are commonly used by Apex clients, including intermediary firms and private equity firms to provide transactional support in the following situations:

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Project finance
  • Capital raising
  • Litigation settlement funds
  • Real estate and construction
  • Pension scheme funding
  • International trade finance

Paul Wilden, Global Head of Capital Markets comments:

“Along with the expansion of our subsidiary, Throgmorton, into the US a couple of months ago, the launch of locally delivered Escrow services really signifies our intent for the region. We are focusing on the expansion of our Capital Markets offering to deliver local solutions that our clients operating and transacting in the Americas can benefit from. Debt-restructuring as a result of the current environment is an increasing trend and the expansion of our Escrow offering means we have a broader solution to support our clients looking to leverage those kinds of opportunities”.

Georges Archibald, Head of Apex Americas comments:

“At a time of upheaval in global markets, we continue to provide best-in-class advice and support to our clients and to introduce new products and services as part of our single-source solution to better serve their needs. Services like this are critical to helping our clients run their businesses at this time and to help them to adapt to the current market environment. We look forward to adding complementary services to our offering over the coming year.”

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TFT Webinar Review: Has the Faster Payments ‘New Access Model’ been a success?

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In this 60-minute webinar, We discussed volumes of Faster Payments versus traditional Bacs credit, the effect of open banking, are there enough participants in the service and what does the future hold for the Faster Payments Service.

Accenture produced a report back in June 2019 summarising the aims of the “New Access Model” to boost speed, competition and innovation in UK payments our panel of experts will discuss if this new access model is having the desired effect.

Speakers:

Myles Stephenson, Chief Executive, Modulr

Ryan Jackson, Head of UK High Growth, Form3

Bob Lyddon (Chair of the AUKPI) – a lobby group who still find access to payments difficult

Jenni Himberg-Wild, Head of Team – Fintech and PSPs, Barclays

Moderated by:
Mark Walker, Editorial Director at The Fintech Times

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Manchester-based SME lender B-North chooses Leeds-based RegTech platform TruNarrative to provide top-level onboarding and compliance technology

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Ahead of authorisation from the FCA and PRA, B-North is set to procure TruNarrative’s RegTech SaaS services, enabling delivery of B-North’s compliance and customer onboarding strategy.

B-North, the Manchester-based firm building an SME lending bank for the UK, has chosen Leeds based RegTech innovator, TruNarrative, to provide a full suite of customer onboarding and compliance capabilities that will enable B-North to deliver crucial business lending up to 10x faster than large incumbents.

TruNarrative’s platform capabilities will be added to B-North’s selected technology stack providers, which already includes core banking from Mambu and loan originations workflow from nCino (the first time that both providers have integrated their solutions together for business lending).

Founded in 2018, B-North is led by a team of former senior leaders from Atom Bank, Metrobank, First Direct and Santander. They aim to challenge the current SME lending landscape, offering mid-to-high value loans with the face-to-face experience of a traditional bank and the speed and efficiency of a modern FinTech lender.

B-North will grant loans of between £500k and £5million and is architected to deliver secured loans to SMEs in as little as 10 days, delivering capital to businesses up to 10x faster than incumbent banks and lenders.

TruNarrative’s technology will enable B-North to rapidly and compliantly deliver their lending products to market. Their technology is trusted around the globe across a range of industries, including banking, lending, eCommerce and payment services.

The TruNarrative platform will deliver customer onboarding, robust compliance and financial crime prevention, delivering a single risk view through the implementation of strong ID & biometric verification, risk assessments, business credit insights, multi-bureau eKYC, PEPs, Sanctions and Adverse Media.

With a requirement to make rapid, high-value lending decisions central to their overall proposition, BNorth went to market for a solution or solutions to facilitate low-friction customer journeys whilst maintaining the highest levels of compliance and risk mitigation.

The partnership follows a competitive tender process and will give B-North full access to the TruNarrative solution and its capabilities, for customer onboarding, identity verification, account monitoring, payment screening, transactional risk and ongoing risk monitoring of customers.

The TruNarrative solution will integrate with B-North’s core banking platform and front-end systems to deliver a seamless experience for B-North employees, direct customers, commercial finance brokers and intermediaries.

TruNarrative will deliver checks and ongoing monitoring against corporate entities, their directors and associated third parties, giving B-North a single customer view when making compliance decisions.

Within the TruNarrative interface, B-North will also have access to a full case management system for manual review and referrals, a natural language rule builder allowing for rapid strategy changes, and a comprehensive audit trail for instant recall of all data for regulatory purposes.

Rather than building onboarding and monitoring systems from a range of point solutions or using legacy systems, B-North’s partnership with TruNarrative provides them a quick route-to-live mode, whilst managing the client risk process and driving agility and speed-in-decisioning within a single platform.

B-North has raised over £7m in seed capital to date, most recently surpassing its crowd fundraising goal of £2m at the turn of the year. It is currently fundraising again to raise capital which will underpin its bank licence and support its lending activities during mobilisation, due to begin in the second half of 2020.

Tapping into a UK SME lending market valued at over £150 billion per year, B-North will operate regional ‘Lending Pods’ of underwriters, valuers and expert lending bankers across the UK – the first of which will launch in Manchester – to build face-to-face relationships with growing businesses and deploy capital efficiently.

“TruNarrative has been working with B-North since early 2019 and I am delighted that they will be becoming one of our newest customers. B-North are true innovators in the SME lending space and are backed by an exceptional and highly experienced team.” Edward Vaughan – Head of Banking, TruNarrative

“B-North unlocks real benefits for businesses by harnessing the best technologies and combining them with our unique regional approach. TruNarrative is a key partner for us in building our tech-focused bank and will be instrumental in helping us deliver fast, informed lending decisions whilst ensuring the highest levels of compliance and a smooth customer experience. We aim to facilitate SME lending with market-leading technology and lead times, and to give our customers the best of the traditional and the modern.” Jonathan Thompson – CEO, B-North.

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Collections Strategies In A COVID-19 Shaped World

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  • FICO expert explores applicable learnings from 2008 financial crash.

  • Bruce Curry, vice president for collections and recovery consulting and sales in EMEA at global analytics software provider FICO, urges the collections community to ensure it gets its data strategies right to handle the challenges resulting from COVID-19.

“Clearly the current situation is like nothing experienced before – but there are certainly lessons that can be learnt from the financial crisis of 2008 that will stand the collections and recoveries business operation in good stead for the future. And we believe data is at the heart of finding the right solutions for the future,” Curry said.

“The current COVID-19 environment and the debt and financial stress it is creating will deliver a lot of data. Organisations need to capture the right data, understand it and where it will be needed further down the line. The financial community should also take heed from the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis. There were a number of things not done then that must be addressed now to ensure that lenders and their customers can emerge with mutual loyalty still intact.”

FICO believes that the lending sector must take immediate action to ensure it can identify the customers who would not have been in collections were it not for COVID-19 and understand how these particular customers would perform compared to those individuals frequently in debt. Collecting and analysing this data will help determine the likely return to financial good profile by customer cohort data, including:

  • Were they in a protected industry?
  • What circumstances drove their reduction of income? E.g. was it:
    • Furlough and if so with what degree of protection?
    • Redundancy?
    • Sickness?
  • What has been the true level of impact on disposable income – can open banking support and validate the impact?
  • What is their likely return to good curve given their household dynamics and industry sector?

By taking this forensic approach to understanding the new cohort of debtors, lenders will be able to create more effective segmentations to create the right collections strategies and treatment paths for the long-term. As Bruce Curry continues, this approach delivered positive results after the 2008 financial crisis.

“Two years before the 2008 crash, the average return to financial good was two and a half years. Two years post the crisis that period of return to financial good had reduced to nine months. This is because the customers who rolled into collections as a result of the 2008 financial crisis were actually good customers, with a short-term payment problem. They had a very different financial morality profile and were soon back in employment and earning again hence returned to a good status. This depth of understanding – and going further – must underpin collections strategies for 2020 and beyond.

“Treating the customers who are now facing financial stress as a direct consequence of COVID-19 with the right outcomes will generate a lifetime of loyalty. However, there is one very important difference this time round. Unfortunately, the scale of vulnerability in both the short and long term appears greater.

“How we come out of the current crisis is not about having 2020 vision. It’s about having the right analytics in place to understand the data and create the right strategies.”

FICO is running a series of resilience webinars for the financial community. To register, visit https://www.fico.com/en/virtual-events

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Two steps and you’re fully insured with the new Tempcover app

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 Tempcover has launched a brand-new app that brings fully-comprehensive short-term vehicle insurance straight to users’ fingertips, through a quick and simple user experience that involves a two-step policy confirmation process that enables customers to be on cover and driving within 90 seconds.

As a pioneer of the UK’s InsurTech industry, Tempcover has since 2006 been specialising in short-term vehicle insurance policies that last anywhere between 1-hour and 28-days – offering truly flexible short-term cover for the time drivers actually need, with no long-term commitment or auto-renewals.

In the next evolution of its digital journey, Tempcover CTO Marc Pell says that the company has streamlined the user experience through the development of the app. “The new and entirely overhauled user experience was co-created with customers – with multiple-stage research and testing resulting in a fit-for-purpose user experience based on customer demands and expectations.

Pell adds that Tempcover has also worked closely with its underwriting partners to simplify the question set for customers. “It is written in simple straightforward English. This means no long-winded T&Cs – we bring to customers’ attention the most important things and help them engage with it. They know what they are buying, what’s covered and what’s not.

Tempcover’s existing online experience makes policy documentation available to the user within 90 seconds, and the app provides the added benefit of giving users the opportunity to create a unique user profile where all policy documentation can be viewed and managed from one central location. Security is also guaranteed as the user has the option to set up their own six-digit pin or use their device’s built-in biometric authentication for login.

The Tempcover app also offers users exclusive access to the Covered Club loyalty scheme, where customers are rewarded with the best discounts. This makes the app ideal for motorists that require quick and flexible vehicle insurance without the hassle and expense of adjusting an existing annual policy.

Whether you need to borrow a car, test drive a new vehicle before buying or even drive away with a new set of wheels straight from the forecourt without having to arrange annual cover, Tempcover’s short-term car insurance policies offer comprehensive cover as standard. An added benefit is there’s no risk to any existing No Claims Discount, as it’s a separate and standalone policy,” says Pell.

Tempcover has sold more than three-million policies to date and has an average Trustpilot rating of 4.6/5 based on over 16,000 reviews. The new Tempcover app is available for download on Google Play and the iOS App Store. All features are immediately accessible following a one-time set-up to capture all user details.

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The Companies Making Fintech Feel-Good: Changing Focus During COVID-19

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With the onset of World War II, Britons were told to dig for victory and look after their neighbours. Today, in the digital age fighting against COVID-19, these messages have been translated into developing new technologies and adjusting audiences – all with a charitable aim in mind.

From a focus on sustaining small businesses to giving back to our NHS, here is a flavour of some of the ways UK fintech companies are currently using their technology as a force for good. 

Small business saviours

With the UK made up of almost 6m SME’s, it’s understandable that small businesses will have the most to lose, as they often have the least reserves.

In order to help businesses still bring in revenue despite having to shut their doors, founder of B2B voucher tech platform Uniqodo, Chris Giddins, launched Local Support Vouchers

Working mainly with travel clients, Chris’ business has been hard hit by the crisis. But, instead of despairing, the team decided to put their expertise and spare time to good use by creating a simple way for businesses to offer vouchers to their regulars. 

Any UK business can sign up for free, allowing customers to purchase gift vouchers for themselves or loved ones. Shoppers also have the option of donating vouchers to local NHS staff. Vouchers can be redeemed when businesses re-open and the NHS donations will be kept ‘on tab’ by each business for healthcare staff to use when they can.

Chris says: “The early days of this crisis saw many of us encouraged to ‘buy vouchers’ for the businesses we knew to be struggling. But for most independent shops or restaurants, it’s not that simple. Setting up the processes and payment systems for vouchers is actually quite technical; beyond the current capabilities of most small businesses who have a lot to deal with right now. As a company, we’re struggling too, but we didn’t want to sit idly by and do nothing. The tech expertise of my team meant we could help these businesses and support the NHS at the same time. ”

Standard vouchers are valid for 90 days once the business is reopened, whereas flexible vouchers come with an additional six months. The FAQ section tackles what happens if a business unfortunately closes down but if so there is a recourse such as chargeback or a Section 75 claim if over £100. Local Support Vouchers charge a small processing fee of 3% per voucher to cover the running costs of the site.

Payment solutions

As many traders repurpose their business models as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Phos have launched a scheme that will offer free payment acceptance to small traders affected by the crisis.

Phos is the world’s first payment acceptance app via any NFC-enabled Andriod device allowing merchants to accept contactless payments anywhere.  

Currently the company is offering free payment acceptance to those affected by the crisis. As well as free support to those who volunteer to deliver food and essential supplies to elderly residents.

CEO Brad Hyatt says, “The initiative directly responds to the need for safer payment options to be made available for those that are essential workers, like local shops, and those helping the most vulnerable in our communities. At the moment we are covering all the costs ourselves, but after lockdown ends there may be some conditions that need to be met to use this service. For instance, there may be a fee for cash withdrawal from an ATM.”

Businesses will benefit from Phos not just in savings from ongoing transactional fees, which currently vary between 1-3%, but also in hardware costs. Point-of-Sale (PoS) terminals can be expensive and tricky to source, especially with supply chains facing disruption. Phos allows anyone with a smartphone to get back in business as soon as they are able to.

Another company offering a suspension on fees is Airwallex, who last month announced the closure of its latest $160 million USD Series D funding round. The latest funding will be used to support growth in the UK and mainland Europe, with plans to hire and fill 50+ new tech roles in the region by 2021.

Founded as a better way to make global payments, Airwallex has decided to waive both FX and payment fees to ensure their customers can continue to operate globally. They hope to remove some of the stress and added cost of running a business in the current climate.

James Butland, VP Banking said: “As a global company with a heavy presence in Asia, our teams saw firsthand the severe impact COVID-19 was having on businesses and the economy there before its full force hit the UK. It was clear early on that this was a worldwide pandemic, and at Airwallex we knew that cash flow management would continue to be a vital need for businesses. We needed to put measures in place to help our UK customers navigate the changing environment, many of whom have been seriously impacted financially by the virus fallout.”

Supporting critical services

Jumio is a leading online identity verification and authentication provider helping organisations to know a customer is who they truly claim to be. Jumio works in a number of spaces, primarily financial services. However, since the Covid-19 crisis they have seen a number of organisations need to move online to help fight this pandemic. Online identity verification can fill that need, but the process needs to be easy, fast, and secure, exactly what the company provides.

To help in this time of crisis, Jumio has been offering its fully automated, AI-powered identity verification solution free of charge to qualifying organisations in the telehealth, education and other essential services spaces. Jumio Go for Good is helping to create ecosystems of trust online in this vital time of need.

It allows organisations involved in relief and assistance, who during this crisis have an urgent need to be able to quickly and accurately “identity proof” their patients, students, and workers, helping to ensure that critical services can be delivered and trusted. 

Most importantly, it complies with all current industry regulations including KYC, AML, and GDPR compliance obligations while reducing fraud and improving the customer experience. Jumio is offering its services free of charge to qualifying businesses as part of the Jumio Go for Good program until June 30, 2020.

Giving back to the NHS

Not content with their Thursday night clap, Moorwand and K Wearables have partnered to give away 300 free K Rings to fearless NHS staff. The free contactless payment ring allows for touch-free shopping and limited interaction with cash, helping to keep frontline workers safe during the coronavirus. Having a K Ring means that the 300 essential workers can purchase goods and services safely and securely up to the value of £45 per transaction with a simple ‘knocking gesture’ over a card reader. 

Luc Gueriane, Chief Commercial Officer at Moorwand, said: “We are in a time where community is at the forefront of everything we do. Although we may be apart, we as a nation have never felt more connected, so it is vital that communities and businesses come together to support health workers in any way they can. Partnering with K Wearables to provide an easy payment solution to 300 NHS workers was instantly an initiative we knew we wanted to be part of.”

The K Ring means there is no need to carry around a wallet or touch payment surfaces that other people have touched. It requires no charging, no pairing with a smartphone and is waterproof so it won’t be harmed by soap or alcohol-based sanitisers, ideal for a busy NHS professional on the go.

Doing it for the kids

Finally, let’s not forget the generation of children caught up in the pandemic who have had both their home and school life disrupted.

To support family teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), Renee Watson and folks at The Curiosity Box have donated 3,000 STEM kits to vulnerable children in cities such as Hull and Stoke on Trent. Originally launched in 2016, The Curiosity Box is an award-winning monthly science subscription box aimed at 4-11 year-olds.

Since the pandemic broke out, efforts have been made through existing relationships with local schools to distribute the boxes, which are sent via the food parcel delivery scheme.

The kits include code-breaking experiments and puzzles, and chemistry kits and unlike the regular catalogue of boxes, these ones also have basic tools such as pencils and scissors included to ensure that the recipients have everything they need to get imagining. 

Renee hopes that the donations can be rolled out nationally through the support of education authorities and the generosity of business donations.

She said: “I want more local authorities to get involved and more individuals and businesses to consider buying our boxes to donate, so that we can extend the reach and get people really engaged in doing something tangible and good.”

What’s more, all packaging is recyclable or biodegradable and the company has taken on staff, recently made redundant in other areas, to fulfill the scheme from their office in Eynsham, near Oxford.

  • 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.

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World’s first real-time money laundering monitoring game released

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  • ‘Catch Them If You Can’ helps professionals test compliance skills in real time

  • Players race against the clock to identify money laundering scenarios

With the Covid-19 epidemic spurring an increase in cybercrime, compliance professionals are being given a chance to test their detection skills by playing the world’s first money laundering monitoring game.

‘Catch Them If You Can’ is a real-time transaction monitoring game, offering players the chance to showcase their expertise and identify suspicious transactions and catch criminals, while also minimizing false positives.

Working against the clock, financial crime fighters choose one of three financial crime scenarios – drug dealing, wildlife trafficking, and bribery and corruption. They then get the chance to use their skills to neutralize the threat of the specific crime and post their score on the game’s leaderboard.

“We built ‘Catch Them If You Can’ to replicate and highlight the difficulties that compliance officers face fighting financial crime today,” said Charles Delingpole, Founder & CEO of  ComplyAdvantage. “At a time when criminals are focused on finding new opportunities to generate illegal funds, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to successfully identify money laundering behavior while maintaining an effective and efficient compliance department.”

With the coronavirus triggering a dramatic shift in both consumer and criminal behaviors, financial authorities around the world are having to speedily adjust their AML/CFT approach to account for new patterns of conduct and better address emerging money laundering risks.

“Firms should be familiar with the ways in which money launderers and other criminals are exploiting the pandemic and how their AML/CFT compliance processes might need to change to manage the elevated threat,” added Charles Delingpole. “It’s no longer as easy to identify what normal behavior looks like, making it more difficult for compliance teams to discern between legal and suspicious activities.”

“Our hope is that ‘Catch Them If You Can’ will start a dialogue among players about the need for agility and the best way they can make changes to their systems in light of current events.” 

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Yandex.Checkout launches new service of split transaction for marketplaces and online platforms

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Yandex.Checkout introduces split transaction, the new solution for marketplaces and online platforms that offer goods and services provided by various companies. This new feature automatically splits money between different sellers whose goods were paid for in a single order via one transaction.

The marketplace itself will not need to send invoices and transfer money via its bank account. Yandex. Checkout’s solution helps platforms to control the financial flows between sellers and buyers as well as reduce the document flow.

The new feature suits any online platform that offers goods and services from various companies. Usually such platforms receive money from buyers to its bank account, and then manually transfer funds to certain sellers. When payments are made via the new Yandex.Checkout’s solution, the money is sent directly to the seller and not to the platform’s account. Online platforms can also determine the commission rates for sellers. Automatic distribution of payments will allow companies to streamline the document flow and save accountants’ resources.

Yandex.Checkout’s solution also offers the option of holding the payments for up to 7 days, so that the settlements are made to the seller’s account only after they fulfill the obligations to the buyer. Split transaction allows issuing total or partial refunds to the customer, i.e. transfer funds for some or all of the items within a single order. The new feature will also optimize and automate the process of issuing receipts and sending them to sellers who must report to the Tax Service.

The new feature is compatible with all Yandex.Checkout scenarios: payment widgets, mobile SDKs for contactless payments, and others. Using this solution, marketplaces can accept payments via most payment methods available in Yandex.Checkout, including e-wallets, bank cards, online banking, direct carrier billing, etc. Split transaction allows for processing of up to 100 items in an order.

“The e-commerce market is at the stage when competition for customer attention and loyalty becomes more and more expensive. This is why we see the rapid development of the trend for centralizing the sales via large marketplaces, where different sellers interact with customers under one unified brand. It can be a marketplace with thousands of stores or, for example, a website with goods and services from different  businesses of one parent company. Yandex.Checkout addresses this trend by launching split transaction and offering companies a solution for a comfortable operation in the “one platform—many companies” format,” said Yulia Gorelova, Head of payment business at Yandex.Money.

To enable the feature, please visit the Yandex.Checkout website.

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TORA expands global outsourced trading with two new traders based in New York

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TORA, provider of the industry’s most advanced cloud-based and leading order and execution management system (OEMS), today announced two new additions Mark Mazor & Joe Zonenshine to the firm’s global outsourced trading team.

Mark and Joe join a global team that provides execution support for a growing number of hedge funds & asset managers around the world. TORA’s combination of outsourced trading and technology provides clients with a comprehensive solution which extends beyond execution to all facets of the investment process.

  • TORA aims to strengthen global market coverage for their clients by acting as their primary service provider or on a complimentary basis assisting in-house trading desks and supporting business continuity plans.
  • Mark Mazor has more than 15 years experience as a trader, working as a Global Execution Trader for Partner Fund Management and Balyasny Asset Management. He started his career at Morgan Stanley in New York.
  • Joe Zonenshine spent 16 years trading at Aristeia Capital and Blackwells Capital. Before that he worked as investment banking analyst at Lehman Brothers in New York.

Chris Jenkins Managing Director at TORAChris Jenkins

Chris Jenkins, Managing Director at TORA said, “The past month has shown just how critical it is to have experienced specialists to execute trading strategies quickly and efficiently for our clients. Mark and Joe embody the TORA outsourced trading team. Their deep knowledge of various asset classes and strategies has been vital. Having been through multiple market cycles, I am very proud of how the whole team has been able to help our clients quickly react and adapt to the unprecedented conditions of this current market disruption.”

TORA’s outsourced trading offering can be bundled and fully integrated with its cloud-based front-to-back office technology, which includes Order and Execution Management Systems, embedded pre-trade Compliance, pre and post trade TCA, proprietary Pairs trader, and Reporting; that were built in-house and are available individually, or as one integrated, unified platform.

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Behind the Idea: Plum, the personal finance app

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This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. According to the Money Advice Service, nearly two-thirds of UK adults (63%) say that stress over money has affected the mental health or wellbeing of someone they know. Victor Trokoudes, the CEO and co-founder of Plum, believes fintech can help.

He first started building the personal finance app in 2016 when he and fellow co-founder, Alex Michael, were struggling themselves to save money. Plum today acts like a brain for your bank account, with automatic saving, bill switching, spend analytics and easy-access investments. Ultimately, Plum aims to alleviate money worries, help people out of financial instability and be better off over their lifetime.

Victor Trokoudes CEO PlumVictor Trokoudes, CEO of the personal finance app, Plum

What has been the Plum response to financial technology innovations?

Plum is a direct response to problems in people’s everyday finances that can’t be solved by traditional banking. More than 10.5m people in this country have less than £100 in savings. For some the issue is that they don’t have enough money coming in; for others, they don’t have time or energy to tackle the problem and many times it is a combination of the two. And savings aren’t just a nice-to-have. Without some money saved, an emergency can plunge you into debt, and leave you at risk of financial vulnerability over the long-term.

We believe that automation is the solution to these parts of finance that we find difficult. Plum is an app that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to work across all areas of your banking to save you money, from setting aside small amounts that you can afford every few days to finding you better deals on your bills. We estimate that with the help of Plum’s technology, the average person could be £186,000 richer over their lifetime.

How has this changed over the past few years?

When we founded Plum, we were looking to apply our empirical evidence that putting money aside automatically is the fastest way to build up savings. Open Banking legislation via the EU’s PSD2 regulations has meant we can now build a complete personal finance app around automation with useful features that are truly intelligent and personalised, all the while keeping users’ bank details fully secure. As an example, Plum can detect through scanning transactions where you could be on a cheaper utility deal, and gives you the option to switch in a few seconds. These are exactly the type of useful features that people need for their money management, but don’t necessarily have the time to do themselves. Now, they can count on Plum to do the hard work for them.

How have you created a culture of change at Plum?

We’re all united around an important mission: to help people to manage their money better. This drives us to respond quickly to the immediate needs of users so quickly. For example, during the Coronavirus lockdown, we realised that more than ever our users needed better ways to monitor and understand their spend. We’ve launched several new features that directly help with this, including Diagnostics, where users can compare their spending in different categories with that of others, and Cashback, where users can get money back into their Plum account when they spend using our app with certain merchants.

What FinTech ideas have been implemented?

AI is an important part of Plum’s power. Firstly it is used to work out the perfect amount for each person to set aside, and means Plum will keep responding to your behaviour, essentially becoming smarter over time. Secondly, it’s used to categorise your transactions and find more ways to put cash back in your pocket. Traditional banking isn’t smart enough to help the individual optimise their finances in this way. Its primary focus is the transactions, like spending money on a card or sending money to others. We’re focused on managing your whole financial experience and giving people the tools to make good decisions about money. Of course, rich people have always been able to consult financial advisers for this kind of help, but our technology makes it accessible for everyone.

What benefits have you seen from FinTech adoption?

The best thing is seeing consumers benefit from our technology every day. We’ve built an engaged and vocal community of Plum users (we call them Plumsters) and we love hearing how Plum has changed their lives. Many Plumsters tell us they were unable to save at all before; with Plum, they’ve been able to save up thousands of pounds without really noticing. And once they have built up a saving pot, they feel much more confident to explore other key areas of personal finance that they may not have considered previously, like investing. It’s permanently changing how people feel about their finances, for the better.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

Right now we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, which none of us saw coming. People are rightfully concerned about what the future holds for their finances and this will bring some big challenges for our industry. Restrained spending across the board is impacting many businesses. We’re likely to see caution in adoption of new technology too. For the bigger and more established Fintechs, their business models are perhaps less able to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances, particularly if we enter a recession. But there’s no doubt that Fintech will be an essential part of how we build financial resilience after lockdown ends.

Can these challenges be aided by FinTech?

For Plum, the current circumstances are a big opportunity. It’s likely that people are going to emerge from this period with a new perspective when it comes to money, and will be looking for new ways to make both short-term and long-term improvements to their financial health. FinTechs like Plum offer an easy and cheap way to do this.

Final thoughts…

Money management doesn’t have to be a struggle. We look forward to a future where everyone is able to automate the parts of their finances that they find difficult and banish money worries permanently.

  • 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.

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Local food businesses rally together to provide weekly food parcels to over 600 NHS staff in Cardiff

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  • Local food businesses rally together to provide weekly food parcels to over 600 NHS staff in Cardiff

  • Campaign raises over £10,000 to feed NHS workers through COVID crisis

Over 25 businesses in the Cardiff and Newport area have joined the #helptheheroesdiff campaign, it has been announced today. Together, the businesses are helping provide weekly food parcels to over 600 staff across seven NHS hospitals* around the Cardiff, Vale and Newport area throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

The campaign was founded by Kevin McGuckian owner of Cardiff-based food business, Holy Yolks, at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to help support those working on the NHS frontline. Initially, Kevin decided to make food parcels for staff at his local NHS hospital, The Royal Gwent, but when the crisis worsened, he contacted other local food companies for their support. He now leads the group of 25 businesses, who collectively provide food to NHS workers by preparing food in their isolated kitchens and then taking them to a central hub for delivery.

In order to sustain the campaign, Kevin has launched a JustGiving page, which has already raised over £10,000. These donations, from businesses and the local community, have funded the campaign so far and will allow it to continue until the end of June.

Amongst the donors to the campaign are Cardiff-based global data and analytics business, LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, who donated £2,000 – equating to 500 meals. Other donors included local businesses and members of the public.

Kevin McGuckian, Owner and Founder of Holy Yolks, commented:

“When the COVID outbreak first hit the UK, I saw the TV reports of NHS frontline workers putting their lives on the line and struggling with overflowing wards and just wanted to do something to help.

“I didn’t plan on it becoming a big thing, but as soon as I started asking for help from other catering businesses, it snowballed – everyone just wants to do their bit to help.“

Steve Elliot, Managing Director of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, commented:

“The #helptheheroesdiff campaign, with support of the local Cardiff community, has helped put smiles back on the faces of key NHS workers. When we saw the work that was going on, we knew we had to support the charity, and ensure that we could allow them to continue their amazing efforts through this unprecedented time. All of us at LexisNexis Risk Solutions are proud to be part of such a generous community that has rallied together in this difficult time.”

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