Behind the Idea: Earlybird

https://thefintechtimes.com/behind-the-idea-earlybird/

Digital banking apps that extend services to younger kids such as Greenlight, Current, Step, and Till Financial have secured massive funding rounds recently. With this news, it’s apparent that “kids” and “children” are being somewhat generalised into one category of fintech. The reality is – there are different offerings in the space that make sense for different ages and parental comfort levels.

EarlyBird is one of the newer players in the childhood investing space. The platform’s differentiator is that parents (and the village it takes to raise a child) can collectively start long-term investing in the child from the youngest of ages, while other apps are waiting for kids to be of age to spend money.

Jordan Wexler, Co-Founder & CEO at EarlyBirdJordan Wexler, Co-Founder & CEO at EarlyBird
Jordan Wexler, Co-Founder & CEO at EarlyBird

Jordan Wexler, Co-Founder & CEO at EarlyBird, feels that we’re at the point where parents need to start to consider their “ideal mix” when it comes to the fintech tools & apps they use to save for their children, teach them financial literacy, and also get them started with spending when it’s time. For example, parents can get started with EarlyBird when their child is born and then in the pre-teen years incorporate an app like Step to begin digital banking. This is similar to the “old school” trajectory of starting off with a 529 account then adding a standard savings account and later a checking account.

What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?

First, it’s important to know why EarlyBird was started. I began thinking about investments as an alternative to physical gifts when a new baby arrived in my family. I found myself head over heels and spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on just the most ridiculous stuff. I wanted to have a larger impact on her life and give something that was actually meaningful and useful. That’s how I got the idea to simplify the process for parents who want to launch custodial investment accounts for their kids.

At our core, we really want to help families invest in their children’s financial future and make it easier and less confusing for parents to establish custodial accounts. There are a few other fintech apps that do this to some extent, but we are aiming to combine the investment account itself with a platform that allows for social features and a gifting experience. When a friend or loved one contributes to a child’s fund, they can also share a quick video message of why they are doing so and what it means for the child’s future. This provides parents with a much-welcomed assist when it comes to educating kids on money and good financial habits.

How has this changed over the past few years?

Fintech startups that target younger audiences are becoming more and more popular. Crunchbase data shows that in the past five years, investors infused at least $535 million into 89 known deals with fintech startups that described themselves as offering savings platforms for children, young people and parents. Of that, $344 million was raised just in 2020.

What EarlyBird is specifically changing is that we’re bringing a unique offering to the market. Before launching our app, there was no simple way to gift a financial investment to the children we love. We’ve introduced a completely new concept that allows families to gift meaningful investments and mark major milestones with gifts that give children a headstart in life.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

We’re big advocates for financial literacy and have truly incorporated it into EarlyBird’s product offering. We believe that stories connect generations. The stories children hear from people they look up to can shape their perspective for years to come. Being able to record a video alongside gifts presents the opportunity to share stories about saving for your first car, travelling the world, paying for a wedding, etc. Families can pass along their knowledge and leave a lasting legacy. The videos stay in the app forever, so the kids can always look back on them!

Also, we’re really maximising our efforts to help parents educate their kids on financial literacy through various partnerships. We recently teamed up with the financial masterminds at Benjamin Talks to engage our community with highly-curated and unique content around financial literacy and money. Our missions are deeply intertwined, both committed to providing parents and children with the appropriate resources to ensure safe and informed financial education from a young age.

What FinTech ideas have been implemented?

EarlyBird is built around fintech! Through the EarlyBird mobile app, parents in just a few minutes can create a custodial account, also known as a UGMA (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act) account. These accounts typically allow a parent, aka the “custodian,” to invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other securities on behalf of the minor child. When the child comes of legal adult age, the investments become theirs. Once an account is set up for the child, parents can then invite other family members and close friends to contribute.

EarlyBird is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) and partners with wealth management and financial planning experts to curate our investment offering. We offer parents a fixed portfolio model, where we recommend expertly crafted ETF-based portfolios made up of both securities and bonds, based on the age of the child, your investment goals, time horizon, risk tolerance, and other factors. There are 5 fixed portfolios that a user can choose from ranging from conservative (100% bond based ETF’s) to aggressive (100% equity-based ETF’s).

What benefits have these brought?

EarlyBird helps families with long-term, low-risk investments. The intended benefit is that when the child reaches legal age (typically 18 in most states), they’ll have $15K-$30K in savings and a beautiful library of videos and memories from those who invested them over the course of their childhood. With that savings, we’re hoping kids can have the flexibility to follow their dreams whether that be going to college, travelling the world, buying a house, or letting the investments continue to build for the next 20 years.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

Looking ahead, we’re seeing more opportunities than challenges. Obviously, the past year or so has been tough for everyone, but with the uptick in virtual parties and holidays, EarlyBird filled a gap for an ideal virtual gift. We’re starting to enter this “new normal” and our hope is that we can continue to elevate the gifting experience and become the “go-to” gift for children.

Can these challenges be aided by FinTech?

We want to continue to introduce new offerings, expand our gifting as a service model, and simplify the payment process. All of these upcoming milestones can definitely be aided by fintech! We’re looking forward to being part of the continued innovation in the 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/behind-the-idea-earlybird/

As a Part of Bahrain’s Vision 2030, the NBB Launches Its Digital Banking Challenge

https://thefintechtimes.com/as-a-part-of-bahrains-vision-2030-the-nbb-launches-its-digital-banking-challenge/

The National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) launches the Digital Banking Challenge in strategic partnership with Bahrain FinTech Bay; one of MENA’s largest FinTech Hubs open for all Bahraini youth to develop new and creative solutions focused on NBB’s new digital banking app.

In line with Bahrain’s Vision 2030 objectives, the NBB Digital Challenge will contribute in upskilling Bahraini youth digital capabilities and enable them to explore various emerging tech trends.

The challenge will consist of an intensive bootcamp and selection process, followed by a 6-week Digital Incubation period. During the bootcamp, applicants will get the opportunity to understand NBB’s digital outlook through several technical and strategic sessions with their business teams.

This is in line with NBB’s three-year sustainability roadmap to educate, implement and move towards a more sustainable future. Programs such as these fall under several of NBB’s sustainability pillars which are community investment; to effectively enhance their community investments through leveraging their full resources and capabilities, economic growth; contribute to the society and Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030, and responsible banking; to raise financial literacy and accessibility.

The incubation period comprises three tracks; the Startup Track, NBB Track, and Mentorship Track, where students will be able to develop their ideas further into early-stage startups. During the incubation period, students will have key one-on-one sessions delivered by NBB’s team from several departments including Strategy and Digital Banking, Digital Transformation, IT Team, Product Development, Marketing, Business Development, Sales and Customer Service, and Customer Relations.

Students will also be part of a peer-to-peer learning environment at Bahrain FinTech Bay with weekly mentorship sessions led by the FinTech Bay team to support students at different stages of development, gain hand-on experience in building a startup and coming up with a viable solution.

The program will conclude with a demo day event that will award the top three best ideas with prize money, Incubation at Bahrain FinTech Bay, and more.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/as-a-part-of-bahrains-vision-2030-the-nbb-launches-its-digital-banking-challenge/

The International Compliance Association Find Cryptocurrencies Have a Compliance Concern

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-international-compliance-association-find-cryptocurrencies-have-a-compliance-concern/

In a global survey of sanctions and compliance professionals recently conducted by The International Compliance Association (ICA) – part of Wilmington plc – cryptocurrencies and emerging financial technologies have been highlighted as an area of sanctions compliance concern.

From 401 respondents who completed the survey in July, almost half (46%) suggested greater training and education is needed around crypto/digital currencies and emerging financial technologies in relation to sanctions compliance.

Ross Savage, Course Director and Global Lead – Sanctions Compliance at ICA confirms: “With the rapid rise in crypto and digital currencies and emerging financial technologies, naturally, regulations continue to evolve. It means that organisations operating across multiple jurisdictions constantly need to review and assess the impact of new legislation and regulation. Therefore, we were keen to identify the main sanctions risk management challenges faced by business leaders and organisations operating around the world.”

Respondents came from a range of industries including banking, accounting, asset management, insurance, payment services and betting and gaming. They highlighted the impact of digital currencies and emerging financial technologies as an area of concern, but wider challenges related to training were also identified.

For example: 70% of respondents have undertaken less than ten hours of training on managing sanctions risk over the past 12 months. 10% had undertaken no training, while the majority – 39.4% have undertaken less than five hours. 13% said no sanctions-specific training has been delivered to staff.

To look at this further, of those who said no sanctions-specific training had been delivered, 71% of those work in firms with 100 or more employees.

Firms cited potential reputational damage (42%) as their biggest concern in terms of sanctions risk, over concern about substantial fines (27%), followed by inability to conduct business (13%) in specific geographical regions. However, sanctions are a crucial instrument in the international battle against financial crime, proliferation, terrorism, and human rights abuses. Those who manage the risk need the right combination of knowledge, capabilities and behaviours to manage it effectively and our survey perhaps points to the need for a greater awareness of the impact and real-world consequences of financial crime.

It was positive news that 68% of respondents confirmed their business had undertaken a sanctions risk assessment in the past 12 months (18% have not). However, a third (32.9%) of firms have not assessed sanctions risk across their supply chain in the past 12 months, and a quarter of respondents were ‘unsure’. This does highlight the need for business leaders to understand the nature of the entirety of their supply chain at a granular level to remain compliant.

Interestingly, when asked if their organisation has a dedicated person employed to assess sanctions risk, more than a quarter (26.4%) said no, of which 65% of those are firms that employ 100 or more people.

Increasing complexity was cited as the biggest challenge to managing sanctions risk according to 39% of respondents, followed by lack of staff awareness/education on the related risks (26%), again pointing to the need for more training relating to sanctions.

Although a significant number (85.5%) of respondents use screening software to help manage sanctions risk, more than two thirds (64%) had problems with false positives – 23.9% saying a definite yes, while 39.85% suggesting that false positives are ‘somewhat’ of an issue.

Ross Savage continues, “With 55% of respondents expecting to make changes to their sanctions risk programme in the next 12 months (20% major changes, 34% minor changes), this offers an opportunity to broaden training programmes to ensure staff are fully equipped to understand the changing nature of sanctions risk and control and the full consequences of non-compliance.

“Putting sanctions into perspective, framework controls are now a matter for the whole senior management team and board members to ensure compliance with regulations and ultimately protect the firm across increasingly diverse supply chains, against the backdrop of an ever-changing landscape. At ICA, we are committed to helping our members and learners navigate the complex world of sanctions across multiple jurisdictions with our range of courses, qualifications, CPD and network support, aiming to go beyond training to affect behavioural change.”

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-international-compliance-association-find-cryptocurrencies-have-a-compliance-concern/

Female Investors Are Taking More Risks Than Males Finds Chip

https://thefintechtimes.com/female-investors-are-taking-more-risks-than-males-finds-chip/

Chip, the digital savings app, has analysed the demographics and behaviours of its 350,000 users to find a record number of female investors as well as trends that not only indicate a higher appetite for risk among women compared to typical data but also a strong uptake in Environmental, Social, and Governance (or ESG) investing.

Chip has given cash savers access to greater possible returns through its new investment fund offering earlier this summer. The company is aiming to give users the control of a savings product as well as access to the returns potential of investing.

The fintech, which last month launched the hotly-anticipated ChipX plan, bringing even more new BlackRock funds to its users, found that close to a third – or 27% – of its investors are women. This is 17% higher than the national average reported by the Office for National Statistics and significantly higher (in some cases 80% and 42% more) than some of the figures reported by single-share trading platforms.

Chip also found that 46% of its female investors have a Stocks and Shares ISA – nearly four times more than the UK average of 12%, as reported by Boring Money.

The analysis of specific funds women choose to invest in found that the top five funds most popular among female investors are:

  1. Balanced (official name BlackRock Consensus 60 – Acc (D).
  2. Ethical X (official name MyMap 5 Select ESG Fund).
  3. Cautious X (official name MyMap 4).
  4. Clean Energy (official name iShares Global Clean Energy UCITS ETF).
  5. Emerging Markets (official name BlackRock Emerging Markets Fund).

For contrast, the most popular funds among male investors are:

  1. Cautious (official name Blackrock Consensus 35 – Acc (D)
  2. Healthcare Innovation (official name iShares Healthcare Innovation UCITS ETF)
  3. Balanced X (official name MyMap 5)
  4. Adventurous X (official name MyMap 6)
  5. Adventurous (official name BlackRock Consensus 85 – Acc (D)

The above findings suggest that the traditional notion that women adopt a more conservative and cautious approach while men tend to have more appetite for risk, including investing in new and untested shares, is becoming increasingly outdated.

Instead, Chip’s data suggests that the most popular fund among men is Cautious – one of the lowest risk funds from Chip’s core investment offering. It’s closely followed by Healthcare Innovation showing a leaning towards moderate risk investing and interest in timely and topical thematic funds.

For women, Balanced and Ethical X funds came out on top, showing a leaning towards ESG funds and suggesting that women are more open to taking investment risk than typical data indicates.

Simon Rabin, CEO of Chip, commented:

“Our goal is to democratise savings and investments. I believe that everyone should have access to tools that can effortlessly take their savings to the next level and help grow their wealth. This includes levelling out the playing field, which has traditionally skewed male.

“We want to show that investing is no longer an elite, exclusive world dominated by dusty legacy wealth managers or macho crypto-trading ‘bros’. Investing is a tool everyone should consider using. I hope that by removing barriers in the form of mountains of paperwork, overly complicated interfaces and complex language, we can empower absolutely everyone to put their money to work.”

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/female-investors-are-taking-more-risks-than-males-finds-chip/

This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 19/08

https://thefintechtimes.com/this-week-in-fintech-tft-bi-weekly-news-roundup-19-08/

The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup this Thursday sees funding success for Pngme and Hopper. While kompasbank goes live on Mambu.

Funding and investment

Austrian fintech unicorn Bitpanda was valued at $4.1billion after $263million round led by Valar Ventures. Additional participators included LeadBlock Partners, Jump Capital, Alan Howard and REDO Ventures. The company will use the proceeds to strengthen its team as well as design the organisation for scale, while doubling down on state-of-the-art technology, international expansion and growth.

Harbor has raised funds from MakerDao to finance global trade using decentralised finance liquidity. MakerDAO is a decentralised autonomous organisation that maintains and regulates the Dai stablecoin. While Harbor securitises and tokenises trade receivables by integrating with Tinlake.

There’s also investment success for Pngme, the financial data infrastructure and machine learning-as-a-service platform. It has raised a further $15million in Series A funding in a round led by Octopus Ventures. It is using the Series A to expand its executive team – hiring Lorraine Kageni Maina as chief strategy officer and Nick Masson as chief technology officer.

Hopper has completed a $175million Series G financing led by GPI Capital with participation from Glade Brook Capital, WestCap, Goldman Sachs Growth and Accomplice. The funds will be used to accelerate the company’s growth across several fronts including customer support.

Meanwhile, Sightline Payments has secured a $244million round valuing the company at more than $1billion. With the capital raise, Sightline becomes Nevada’s first fintech unicorn. In addition to Cannae Holdings, the round included existing investors Genting Group, Point Break Capital Management and Walter Kortschak.

Job moves
Damian ThompsonDamian Thompson
Starling appoints Damian Thompson

Encompass Corporation, a provider of know your customer solutions, has unveiled two new executive team members. Alan Samuels, previously head of product, and Magalie Pimentel, former head of marketing, are now VP product and VP marketing, respectively. The announcement follows a strong 12 months for Encompass, with revenue growth.

While Starling has appointed Damian Thompson as a new member of the executive team. As chief asset management officer, Damian is responsible for Starling’s activities around acquiring as well as managing loan assets. Prior to Starling, he led NatWest Market’s UK Financial Institution client business.

Socure, a digital ID verification provider, has named Debra Geister as vice president of product commercialisation, compliance and regulatory. Meanwhile, Mike Cook also joins the firm as vice president of commercialisation, fraud solutions.

Open banking infrastructure provider Yapily has appointed Roland Selmer as chief product officer. The appointment follows a month after Yapily announced its Series B funding raise of $51million, led by Sapphire Ventures. Selmer was previously senior vice president for product at business cloud communications provider Vonage.

Uncapped, a London-based start-up, has hired Vaidas Adomauskas as chief product officer. He joins Uncapped from Revolut, where he was head of Revolut Business, responsible for business strategy, P&L, product and growth. Adomauskas will be responsible for scaling funding products globally as well as launching a suite of banking products and services tailored to the needs of digital entrepreneurs.

Launches

Walgreens has introduced a credit card programme, featuring two retail health and wellness credit cards issued by Synchrony Bank. The myWalgreens Mastercard and the myWalgreens Credit Card reward more personalised wellbeing choices and offer rewards at more than 9,000 Walgreens locations, Walgreens.com, as well as the Walgreens mobile app.

Intellect Global Transaction Banking (iGTB), the transaction banking specialist, has unveiled its reimagined digital transaction banking on a cloud platform. It is powered by microservices and open banking APIs for banks in Middle East & North Africa. Transaction banks can accelerate their digital transformation on cloud and onboard their SME & corporate clients in weeks.

Fintech Boku has launched M1ST (aka Mobile First), one of the world’s largest mobile payments network. M1ST reaches 5.7 billion payment accounts in 90 countries through 330+ mobile payment methods. Boku is headquartered in the UK with offices also in Brazil, China, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Vietnam and the US.

Meanwhile, Al Fardan Exchange has unveiled its new ‘India Fest’ promotion. Running until 3 September across all its branches in the UAE, the promotion will see customers that remit money to India entered into a weekly draw. The prizes are given by Al Fardan Exchange to recognise the importance of Indian expatriates, in addition to the fact that Indians represent the largest overseas remittance group.

Fintech Paysera has unveiled a delivery and online payment service for e-shops in the Baltic region. Through one integration, an e-commerce business can work with a wide range of different couriers in order to offer customers the best available delivery options. This service is available in Lithuania first, and will later be expanded to the wider market in the Baltic.

Partnerships

Network International has teamed up with TerraPay, the payments infrastructure company. The agreement will boost acceptance of African mobile wallets across Network’s large base of merchants in the UAE. The proposed association will play a ‘key role in building sustainable and scalable interoperable payment options’.

Bank Indonesia and the Bank of Thailand launch a cross-border QR payment linkage between Indonesia and Thailand. The connection is the first that links the retail payment system operators in both countries. It also marks a key milestone in the ASEAN Payment Connectivity initiative, aiming to promote financial integration in the region.

Volt, the open payments gateway, has unveiled a new partnership with global payment processing firm DECTA. The partnership provides customers from 70+ markets – including banks, merchants, online payment service providers and fintechs – with a portal to open banking architecture.

kompasbank, the Danish challenger bank for SMEs, has gone live on Mambu’s SaaS banking platform. Carsten Smith, COO at kompasbank said “We have set ourselves ambitious targets to serve SMEs in Denmark and we think Mambu is the right choice to help us on our growth trajectory, thanks to their proven, and truly cloud-native, API-first architecture.

TPAY MOBILE, a digital payments platform, has unveiled the first phase of its strategic app monetisation partnership with Huawei. The partnership is live across twelve mobile operators in seven countries within the MEA region. It enables local and global developers to accept DCB payments for their apps and services through Huawei Mobile Services (HMS).

TPAY MOBILE Partners with HuaweiTPAY MOBILE Partners with Huawei
TPAY MOBILE Partners with Huawei
More collaborations

Insurtech ecosystem specialist Quotall has entered into a strategic partnership with global insurance distribution business Acrisure. Under the partnership, Acrisure will provide insurance product sourcing and insurer partnership services to meet the portfolio needs of Quotall clients.

GoCardless, the account-to-account payments firm, has unveiled a partnership with Piano, the analytics and activation platform, to deliver new bank debit capabilities. The new integration is designed to help publishers and brands market, sell and fulfill premium content offerings.

Company updates

Glint, the gold-based payments system, has revealed its total transactions have surpassed £200million since launch. Its UK crowdfunding campaign through Seedrs has also proved successful, raising more than £3million from 1,200 investors. Emmanuel Ide also recently joined as Glint’s new head of engineering to develop its technology platform.

Mode Global Holdings, the LSE-listed fintech group, has launched a range of initiatives to tackle its carbon footprint. It has signed the Crypto Climate Accord and agreed to reduce net emissions from its cryptocurrency activities before the end of the decade.

Research and insight

Strong digital transformation has taken place in the finance and accounting functions across companies of various sizes in the Middle East and India. A new report by IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), reveals digital transformation of finance has rapidly gained speed across this region, propelled by normal business competition, and accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Claire works across print and online as Editor for The Fintech Times.

https://thefintechtimes.com/this-week-in-fintech-tft-bi-weekly-news-roundup-19-08/

Fintech for Good Webinar: Ethical Banking with The Co-operative Bank and Roundups

https://thefintechtimes.com/fintech-for-good-webinar-ethical-banking-with-the-co-operative-bank-and-roundups/

The next webinar in “The Fintech Times Presents” series revolved around ethical banking, keeping with the theme of how fintech can be used for good. 

Host Polly Jean Harrison, The Fintech Times Journalist, was joined by panellists Sean Donnelly, Co-founder of Roundups and Deborah Darlington, Director of Brand and Marketing at The Co-operative Bank.

To watch the webinar in full, click here.

Ethical banking might well be a buzzword today, but consumers have been looking to do good with their income for as long as fiat money has been in existence. The only difference is that before Fintech, individuals had to search for ways to do good. Whether that was through annual donations or leaving to charities in their wills.

But over the last few years, innovative fintechs have changed that. From sending your change digitally to your favourite charities, to investing and banking in ethical streams while also serving a need for specific communities, such as Islamic finance. This webinar will examine the boom in ethical banking, and ask – what comes next?

To watch the webinar in full, 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/fintech-for-good-webinar-ethical-banking-with-the-co-operative-bank-and-roundups/

SEON: Why Fraud-Fighting Needs To Be Accessible to All

https://thefintechtimes.com/seon-why-fraud-fighting-needs-to-be-accessible-to-all/

Fraud is not just something done out of a basement on the other side of the world anymore. Due to accelerated digitisation, online fraud has seen unprecedented growth, especially during and after the pandemic. As some people struggle to make ends meet, turning to a life of fraud where an unsuspecting victim they will never meet suffers the consequences, seems like the easy way to solve their problem. In a time where anyone is susceptible to online fraud, it is crucial everyone has the means to protect themselves.

Jimmy Fong serves as CCO at SEON, the fraud fighters. He has over 13 years within the online payments and fraud space as part of fraud tech pioneers CyberSource (acquired for $2billion by Visa), GlobalCollect (acquired by Ingenico for $1billion and latterly InAuth (acquired by American Express for $250million). His passion is mixing nerdy obsession over technology and hyper commercial growth.

Fong looks at how fraudsters are now sharing expertise, conducting training seminars and creating software tools with just as much expertise as the anti-fraud industry, and that if the public is not careful, by 2025 over $10.5trillion worth of damage could have been done as a result of fraud:

Jimmy Fong, CCO at SEONJimmy Fong, CCO at SEON
Jimmy Fong, CCO at SEON

There are two basic facts that, while they’re not going to surprise anyone who would read The Fintech Times, still bear repeating.

The first is that more people are spending and managing money online than ever before. In 2020, while overall retail sales fell by 1.9%, eCommerce grew by 46%, its strongest growth for over a decade. It has been growing since the first ‘dotcom boom’ (and bust) of the late nineties, all the way back to the first-ever online sale (a Sting album.)

The second is that online fraud, and cybercrime in general, is also growing. It is expected to grow by 15% per year, causing as much as $10.5trillion in damage every year by 2025. It can affect literally anyone or anything that is online, from individuals to governments, and there are cybercrime groups making as much as any of the companies featured in this publication. The UK is coming to recognise fraud as a national security threat for the damage it does to the country’s reputation as a safe place to do business, even though every and any country can be affected by it. Criminals are sharing expertise, conducting training seminars and creating software tools with just as much expertise as the anti-fraud industry.

Neither trend started because of the recent pandemic, but both were accelerated hugely. More people than ever were unable to carry out everyday tasks that they have taken for granted, from paying a cheque into a bank to making a bet on the football or buying takeout, anywhere but online, leading to a generation of ‘digital debutantes’ who never engaged with the internet’s possibilities before. With a general economic downturn across the world, more people than ever are turning to crime to make ends meet, and cybercrime is an easy and relatively safe way to make money if you don’t care who is getting hurt.

As a company, we have known from before our founding that fraud was a problem that would only grow. We were co-founded by our CEO and COO, Tamás Kádár and Bence Jendruszák, during their time at university, when they were trying to found central and eastern Europe’s first dedicated cryptocurrency exchange but finding that the sheer quantity of fraud made this impossible. Like many companies before and since, they saw that they had two options.

The first was to go to legacy anti-fraud companies. Kádár and Jendruszák found that they couldn’t provide what they needed: although their technology was strong, they were slow to deploy new techniques, expensive, and often excluded ‘high risk’ companies working in fields like cryptocurrency. The second was to develop their own in-house solution – which would eventually become SEON.

We have found that more companies than ever are going on the same journey. Whereas once only the largest companies needed to worry about cybersecurity, with SMEs confident that they would fly under criminals’ radar, now any and every company that carries out any kind of transaction online needs to consider what kind of security they need. Few but the largest can develop their own bespoke, in-house solution as we did – it is costly, time-consuming and requires specialist knowledge that is in short supply. Those turning to the big names are finding, as Kádár and Jendruszák did, that many aren’t right for smaller, more specialist or just more innovative and agile companies. They are part of the macro move to adopting microservices – single specialised components that can be deployed to suit the complex needs of users today rather than monolithic, costly, all-encompassing platforms that take weeks or months to integrate before protecting users.

We have clients today that include cryptocurrency exchanges, iGaming operators, and major airlines (to name just a few). Though they are hugely varied, what unites them is the feeling that fraud-fighting needs to be accessible. It’s not enough for a handful of small companies to decide what their clients need, a problem as widespread and diverse as cybersecurity needs to be tackled in a way that considers the unique needs of the companies looking to reduce risk and manage costs.

So, while legacy companies tie their clients into long service-level contracts we do things differently: offer a month-by-month subscription with a 30-day evaluation period, similar to services that we’re all familiar with like Netflix and Spotify. Our API can be integrated into URL, Java, Python and PHP backend environments, allowing it to be integrated into almost any setup in a matter of seconds.

So many companies need to use anti-fraud technology that it is almost impossible to talk about our target audience or ideal customer. However, we have seen a common theme emerge: the need for companies to be able to carry our RiskOps, and to pay for it, on their own terms. Smaller companies, those deemed too ‘risky’ by legacy anti-fraud providers and larger companies with unique challenges all come to us because we understand them and can give them the protection that they need in a way that will work for them rather than tying them into one-size-fits-all solutions.

The fraud problem is likely to get worse before it gets better, dragging down every kind of company, from multinationals to start-ups, and cutting into the profits of every business that has a digital presence. That means that there should be a multiplicity of approaches, suitable for any type/size of company working at any level in any industry. That is what we provide, and it is why in the face of a worldwide crisis in digital fraud we are going from strength to strength with our customers.

https://thefintechtimes.com/seon-why-fraud-fighting-needs-to-be-accessible-to-all/

IDnow on Why NFC is the Pulse of Digital ID Verification, Authentication and Payments

https://thefintechtimes.com/idnow-on-why-nfc-is-the-pulse-of-digital-id-verification-authentication-and-payments/

In an increasingly digital world, IDnow has seen a huge uptick in customers who increasingly value quick and easy identification, and appreciate the freedom of choice when selecting their preferred identification method. In addition, businesses who offer multiple choice and a frictionless ID Verification experience will see a large increase in conversion rates.

As a strong advocate of NFC technology, Chief Product Officer Vikas Seth at IDnow is at the forefront of implementing this technology as part of its AutoIdent product to enable slick and secure customer verifications, whilst combatting fraud. 

In this article, Vikas explains why NFC is an important component to a modern ID verification and authentication process in a borderless, digital environment – and how this geriatric technology is fundamental in delivering the most value to all industries, particularly with streamlining financial services.

Vikas SethVikas Seth
Vikas Seth, Chief Product Officer, IDnow

NFC (near field communication) technology has been around for a while now and is commonly used to enable contactless payments from cards or devices such as smartphones and watches, usually via a digital wallet such as Apple Pay or Google Pay etc.  It’s also widely used in ePassports to enable swift ID verification at airports.

NFC technology is used for extremely secure purposes. So why not give it a bigger role within the ID Verification and authentication journey? This is particularly true in the highly regulated financial sector with stringent know your customer (KYC) and AML (anti-money laundering) checks, coupled with biometric variables such as ‘liveness’ and biological verifiers, such as fingerprints and selfies, to authenticate that the person is actually real. 

This sector is often burdened by legacy systems which makes the customer experience of swift digital transactions cumbersome, joyless and time-intensive – especially when purchasing valuable items such as a house or a car; or even applying for any financial services/products. 

Digital wallets are causing a fragmented approach to how NFC technology is used, when it could be swift and accurate if the KYC element was incorporated into it, making the whole transactional process more accurate and less liable to fraudulent activities.

NFC – The borderless payment warrior

A number of European countries including Portugal, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria are implementing changes to laws around NFC technology to enable digital identification verification. France, for example, is leading the way with a new digital service for its citizens to allow them to access services on the government’s online services gateway, a system used by banks and other private sector companies as well as government agencies. 

Users only have to complete a single, straightforward application in order to access more than 500 government services instead of a separate onboarding process for each one. This is saving them time and makes for a streamlined, user-friendly experience, with the assurance of high levels of security thanks to the KYC elements drafted into the NFC technology. 

The process in France involves scanning the biometric chip in their existing authenticated electronic title, in this case, their passport or residence card, which then populates the system with data stored there, including their previously authenticated photograph. When it comes to payments, having incorporated ID verification in the transactional process only adds to its appeal. We could be moving into a world where buying a house could be as simple as a contactless purchase!

Biometric Authentication

Perhaps the most exciting prospect for NFC technology is the way it seamlessly works with other biometric measures because there is no degradation to the quality of the ID on the chip, thereby making it faster, easier and more accurate when completing the checks. This is an essential component to AML checks as knowing your customer and where the finances have come from guarantees the authentication of the person. 

There is also an additional layer for authentication as retrieval of ID from a digitised imprint on a chip is harder to manipulate than with a paper document or even with OCR (Optical Character Recognition), which makes similarity fraud aggressively difficult to pursue.  Take, for example, the onerous house buying/conveyancing process which incorporates human verification of ID documents. Humans can make mistakes and cannot always spot a fake. NFC will instantaneously remove this layer thanks to the imprint on the chip. 

In countries like France, Austria or Switzerland, citizens will be required to use their smartphone to record a short video selfie, capturing their face from multiple angles with movement and different expressions which can then be compared to the photo held in their biometric passport. Not only does this provide accurate verification of the likeness, but also serves as a proof of life. Furthermore, images are not stored and cannot be copied using NFC technology, making them highly secure. The verification video is deleted as soon as the ID is authenticated by comparison with the biometric photo. 

This high level of security also provides the user with an increased level of control over their own data. And as the world learns to live with Covid-19, degrees of social distancing and sanitisation are now part of our lives, and NFC guarantees less physical traction thanks to its tap-and-go status, offering a more hygienic version to government-issued ID documents. 

The possibilities of NFC technology to guarantee a frictionless financial user experience whilst also combatting fraud, are endless. 

In the world of payments and purchases, it makes complete sense to collaborate digital ID verification with NFC technology so that we can continue to build a more secure, safe and borderless payment environment, without the worry of fraud. The proof is already in the pudding with the countries actively pursuing this route.

The fact that NFC  technology is being recognised for its precision makes for an opportunity for countries to streamline their financial and ID verification services and place a more unilateral trust in its abilities. It’s time to credit the true power of NFC and its vital role in our financial lives.

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/idnow-on-why-nfc-is-the-pulse-of-digital-id-verification-authentication-and-payments/

In Conversation: Sarah Williams-Gardner, Fintech Wales, at Fintech Week London

https://thefintechtimes.com/in-conversation-sarah-williams-gardner-fintech-wales-at-fintech-week-london/

Fintech Week London took place in July as the first live in-person fintech event since the pandemic. Over the course of five days, the industry’s key players came together to discuss all things fintech, from open banking to digital ID and cryptocurrency to collaboration.  During the event, The Fintech Times spoke to Sarah Williams-Gardner, CEO of Fintech Wales, about the booming Welsh fintech community.

“The Welsh fintech scene is really thriving, and with the recent Kalifa Review, we’ve had the lid lifted off the things that we’ve been doing very well for a very long time. We are the inventors of comparison sites: Confused.com, Gocompare and MoneySupermarket are all Welsh. We’ve also recently launched our first fintech accelerator in wales that we have an amazing cohort going through, and we’re starting to see what is the next new thing to come out of wales, so watch this space.”

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/in-conversation-sarah-williams-gardner-fintech-wales-at-fintech-week-london/

Shoppers Can Use hoolah’s BNPL Solution on Social Channels Including Facebook and WhatsApp

https://thefintechtimes.com/shoppers-can-use-hoolahs-bnpl-solution-on-social-channels-including-facebook-and-whatsapp/

hoolah, Asia’s omnichannel Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) ecosystem has announced a regional partnership with Jumper.ai, the world’s first end-to-end conversational commerce and shopper engagement platform, to offer merchants across Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong the opportunity to let their customers pay later in a way that is convenient, flexible and transparent through conversational commerce.

This marks a first-of-its-kind partnership in Asia where a BNPL solution is made accessible on social and chat networks. Through this partnership, merchants have an easy way to offer hoolah’s Buy Now Pay Later solution to their customers no matter where they prefer to shop – including Facebook, Instagram, LINE, Pinterest, Telegram, Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp, SMS, YouTube, and more. hoolah and Jumper.ai have worked closely together to make sure that merchants have a smooth experience when integrating Buy Now Pay Later into their social media and chat channels.

Boosting the shopping experience through social media, Jumper.ai enables retailers to connect with their customers, who can browse and shop on any social or chat network of their choice. At the same time, consumers can receive personalised advice, ask questions, request a demo, and ultimately pay for their purchases – all within the chatbox in a seamless and convenient manner.

On the other hand, hoolah solves retailers’ biggest challenges of driving conversion, basket increase, customer traffic, and loyalty with a sustainable omnichannel BNPL. Furthermore, the onboarding process is completely fuss-free for them as it is entirely digital, allowing them to deploy hoolah – not only on their physical and online stores, but now across social and chat networks – contact-free and with ease.

This partnership comes at an opportune time when businesses in Asia are pivoting to eCommerce and social commerce to keep up with consumer preferences, as they increasingly value on-demand convenience and personalised experiences. In addition, the upward trends of online shopping and conversational commerce are set for further growth, with 94% of chat-first shoppers in Southeast Asia expected to maintain or increase their spending.

As homegrown brands that have gone regional, hoolah and Jumper.ai share a commitment to boost the customer experience to make it as seamless and convenient as possible, while fuelling retailers’ growth in Asia.

Stuart Thornton, CEO and Co-Founder of hoolah says, “We are absolutely thrilled about our strategic partnership with Jumper, an innovative leader that keeps customer experience at the forefront, akin to hoolah. It’s a collaboration that is close to my heart because it exemplifies the power of social media in the consumer journey, but more so because I have worked closely with Yash and the team since Jumpers’ inception. It’s a true inspiration seeing his business being built from the ground up to where it is today. We’re happy to be able to further boost the shopping experience by being at the intersection – wherever the merchant is selling and the consumer is buying. Together with Jumper.ai, it’s an incredible opportunity to help empower the retail industry in Asia and boost growth by offering Buy Now Pay Later to conversational commerce merchants and their customers by extension, no matter how big or small the business.”

Yash Kotak, Founder and CEO of Jumper.ai commented, “We at Jumper believe there’s no thinking twice to sky rocket sales for our merchants and hoolah’s alike – the intermingling of two worlds, the ease of buying, complemented with worry-free purchasing in three interest-free monthly repayments. I’ve personally seen hoolah grow from ground and it’s a pleasure to be working closely with the hoolahgans to empower brands together.”

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/shoppers-can-use-hoolahs-bnpl-solution-on-social-channels-including-facebook-and-whatsapp/

Persefoni: Using Tech To Help Stop Climate Change Before It Ruins Our Economy

https://thefintechtimes.com/persefoni-using-tech-to-help-stop-climate-change-before-it-ruins-our-economy/

This month at The Fintech Times, we are looking at Fintech for good: this encompasses companies looking to help the environment by managing carbon emissions and bringing them under control. 

When a know-it-all (schmegegge in Yiddish) brutally established that fintechs who made money were inherently bad, as anyone who wasn’t not-for-profit, was evil and selfish, we at The Fintech Times set out to prove them wrong by reaching out to a variety of for-profit companies across the US, offering alternative solutions to banking, access to finance, remittances and more for minority communities and elaborate on the positive impact they were having.  Check out the introductory article here.

Kentaro Karamorwi is the founder and CEO at Persefoni, the SaaS platform with a fully integrated suite of carbon management and sustainability reporting tools. Prior to founding Persefoni, Karamowri was the youngest Chief Digital Officer ever at a Fortune 500 company. His career has focused on the software space and includes time spent as a Cloud strategy consultant at Accenture and a Venture Partner focused on early-stage SaaS companies. 

He writes his letter to Dr. Schmegegge to explain how technology has now reached a point that it can be used to help decarbonise the planet, resulting in there being less risk to the economy: 

Kentaro Karamorwi is the founder, CEO at PersefoniKentaro Karamorwi is the founder, CEO at Persefoni
Kentaro Karamorwi, Founder and CEO at Persefoni

Hello Dr. Schmegegge,

The newly released report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides scientific validation for what each one of us has experienced first-hand, especially in the last two years – the realities of climate change are already here and manifesting themselves across the planet. The science and physical impacts are devastating, but the acceleration of responsible capitalism provides a necessary glimmer of hope.

Carbon risk is financial risk, and companies across industries – and their investors – must play a key role in the global fight against climate change. We need business, financial markets, and technology innovators to push harder than ever. Politics will always get in the way of fast-enough progress, but for the first time, we can realistically and quickly harness market forces to decarbonise the planet.

Breakthrough technology innovations, such as Persefoni, are doing their part to help accelerate this by arming organisations with the data necessary to properly manage and report on both their carbon emissions and financed emissions.

Established in 2020, Persefoni is a first-of-its-kind, enterprise-scale platform for carbon accounting, management, and reporting real-time across a number of global standards. The Persefoni Intelligent Carbon Management Platform factors operational activity data and financial activity data in real-time, enabling enterprises to systematically lower the environmental impact by turning raw data aggregated across multiple business units into data-driven, actionable insights. It does this with full transparency, leveraging the GHG Protocol, certified by the GHG Management Institute, and thus radically simplifies the auditing process. Offered as a service, enterprises see a full Scope 1-3 map of their carbon footprint, parsed into consumption buckets – like “assets” and “people activities” – that are easy for business unit managers to track and tackle.

Since its genesis, Persefoni has spent considerable effort to bridge the gap between the disparate worlds of Sustainability and Technology, with the goal of combatting climate change worldwide. The company is already working with leading investors like global Private Equity firm TPG to manage the carbon footprint of its $85billion dollar portfolio. Already this year, Persefoni has earned numerous awards and industry recognition for its sustainability efforts and innovation – including the winner of the Enterprise and Smart Data category at the 13th annual SXSW Pitch event. Additionally, Persefoni was recently chosen as one of ten winners of Amazon‘s inaugural AWS Clean Energy Accelerator Program, among more than 200 global entries, and named a Top Product of 2021 by Environmental + Energy Leader.

We’re at a turning point in the fight against climate change. Technology is finally ready to help us bring carbon emissions under control, and delivering decarbonisation as a service through modern cloud data analytics is the breakthrough that will help us stop climate change before it ruins our economy.

Best,

Kentaro Karamorwi

Founder, CEO at Persefoni

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/persefoni-using-tech-to-help-stop-climate-change-before-it-ruins-our-economy/

Seasonal and Low-Mileage Motorcyclists Can Save With Flexible Insurance Through VOOM and Markel

https://thefintechtimes.com/seasonal-and-low-mileage-motorcyclists-can-save-with-flexible-insurance-through-voom-and-markel/

VOOM, the InsurTech company for new mobility, has announced that it has launched its first per-mile insurance offering for motorcycles in select states, as permitted by law, in collaboration with member companies of Markel, insurance carriers dedicated to providing customised insurance solutions for a variety of insurance products.

With over 90 years of experience in niche insurance markets and over 45 years in motorcycle insurance, Markel features motorcycle-specific coverage tailored to help meet the needs of motorcyclists and how they ride. VOOM will distribute the per-mile product both directly to riders and via select partners and Markel will provide underwriting expertise and prompt claims handling.

Motorcycle riding is often seasonal, irregular, and spontaneous, which means that many riders end up paying high insurance costs when their motorcycles sit in the garage for weeks and even months at a time.

According to recent research conducted by VOOM based on reported insurance claims, the risk associated with low-mileage riding can be more than 80% lower than that of high-mileage motorcycling, but traditional insurance policies are annual across the board. Riders who want to avoid insuring idle bikes have to either request lay-ups, which are limited and forbid riding, or cancel their policies entirely.

With this new offering, riders can pay a low monthly base rate determined by certain factors, such as the type of motorcycle they ride. The offering does not require a physical device or mobile app to track mileage or behaviour. Instead, riders simply submit a photo of their odometers every month.

Coverage is accompanied by online policy management, and varied other coverage options available to qualified riders, including liability, comprehensive, medical payments, collision, uninsured motorists, and accessory coverage. Per-mile coverage is especially ideal for motorcyclists who travel short distances or ride only on occasion, and enables them to customise their insurance all year round and pay for the time they ride instead of predetermined rates.

“We are excited to be providing motorcyclists with flexibility through this per-mile motorcycle insurance product,” said Tomer Kashi, CEO and Co-Founder of VOOM. “Enabling cost-effective insurance options for riders and drivers is our top priority. We look forward to spurring further growth across mobility, particularly in otherwise overlooked parts of the industry.”

“Markel is thrilled to collaborate with VOOM to help introduce per-mile insurance to motorcycle riders,” said Jeff May, Executive Underwriting Officer, Markel. “We’ve been providing specialised motorcycle coverage for years, and due to the seasonality of the motorcycle riding season, this is a natural progression in the evolution of motorcycle insurance. VOOM’s innovative technology and customer-centric approach, combined with Markel’s specialised motorcycle coverage, make this a product that we hope will bring motorcycle insurance to the next level for riders.”

Insurance and coverage are subject to availability and qualifications and are currently available in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Insurance is underwritten by Markel American Insurance Company.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/seasonal-and-low-mileage-motorcyclists-can-save-with-flexible-insurance-through-voom-and-markel/

Standard Chartered Bank UAE Announce the Funding for the Winner of the Women in Tech Programme

https://thefintechtimes.com/standard-chartered-bank-uae-announce-the-funding-for-the-winner-of-the-women-in-tech-programme/

Standard Chartered Bank UAE has announced the launch of the third cohort of the Women in Tech programme, held in partnership with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Fintech Hive and Hub71

The launch event, which took place at the DIFC Fintech Hive, was attended by several members of the local start-up community, as well as executives from Standard Chartered, Hub71, Fintech Hive and Finyal Media. In its third year, Standard Chartered’s Women in Tech programme aims to promote the economic and social development of women entrepreneurs in the UAE through innovation and technology-led entrepreneurship.

The UAE-leg of this programme is part of the Bank’s global Women in Tech initiative that is live across nine markets, including Standard Chartered New York, Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Bahrain. In the UAE, the programme is focused on capacity building for women-owned enterprises and targets female-led entrepreneurial teams to provide them with training, mentorship and seed funding. In addition to mentorship programmes, Standard Chartered, DIFC Fintech Hive, and Hub71 will be giving away a total of $100,000 in funding to the winners of this year’s cohort.

Standard Chartered UAE launches third cohort of Women in TechStandard Chartered UAE launches third cohort of Women in Tech
Standard Chartered UAE launches third cohort of Women in Tech

Rola Abu Manneh, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank UAE, said: “At Standard Chartered, we embrace and celebrate diversity, and we are proud to launch our third cohort of the Women in Tech programme in the UAE, in partnership with the DIFC Fintech Hive and Hub71. The initiative is part of our commitment to be here for good, while bridging the vast funding gap that still exists for women entrepreneurs in the area of technology. We are confident that with such strong partners on board we will be able to bring even greater value to entrepreneurs for the third year, especially given a more simplified and favourable ecosystem for start-ups in the UAE.”

Raja Al Mazrouei, Executive VP, DIFC Fintech Hive, said: “The Women in Tech program is a great launchpad for female-led businesses in the UAE. The support provided to these female founders during the program is necessary to accelerate the growth of their start-ups and I am thrilled to be part of an initiative that supports diversity and women in the entrepreneurial landscape.”

Jida Itani, COO of Hub71, said: “Technology is central to our lives and cuts across all industries. Public and private sector initiatives that promote innovation are essential to growing industries and diversifying economies. At Hub71, we have witnessed a surge in female entrepreneurs and investors as part of our diverse community of more than 100 start-ups, where we empower women to take a leap of faith and venture into the world of tech. Our culture is based on openness, risk-taking, excellence, and inclusivity, and our collaboration with Standard Chartered and DIFC Fintech Hive reinforces our long-term commitment to equal opportunities and a favourable environment for anyone from anywhere, with whatever idea they wish to grow.”

Set to begin operations later this September, the upscaled Women in Tech programme is geared towards empowering female entrepreneurs to confront the challenges of uncertain times as they grow their impact-driven businesses across the AME region. To date, Standard Chartered UAE has accelerated two cohorts, comprising of 12 start-ups, who have collectively raised over $5million from various venture capitalists to expand their businesses within and outside of the UAE. The applications for the third cohort are open until 5 September 2021.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/standard-chartered-bank-uae-announce-the-funding-for-the-winner-of-the-women-in-tech-programme/

SMEs Are Hesitant To Use Alternative Finance Providers Despite Refusal From Traditional Lenders

https://thefintechtimes.com/smes-are-hesitant-to-use-alternative-finance-providers-despite-refusal-from-traditional-lenders/

Following an uphill battle for businesses across all industries over the last 18 months, the UK is now poised for economic growth in the post-pandemic boom.

Representing 99.8% of Europe’s businesses and accounting for two-thirds of total employment, the SME market – often referred to as the backbone of the UK economy – will be fundamental to this growth. But with more than three quarters (77%) of businesses unable to secure traditional bank financing, the need for alternative finance to fuel their expansion is greater than ever.

Yet research from the law firm, Walker Morris, reveals that although 40% of SMEs have plans to grow over the next 12 months, almost half of these (45%) cite concerns about using alternative finance providers, despite being refused funding by traditional lenders.

The pandemic spurred record lending to SMEs in 2020, hitting £54billion in the first nine months of the year as 1.5 million businesses drew on government-backed loans, but many businesses now require additional finance to enable them to invest in growth.

More than half (51%) of SMEs currently seeking funding will use it to grow through acquisition, with 46% looking to invest in real estate.

This new research demonstrates the scale of the opportunity for alternative lenders as economic recovery gets underway – the UK’s alternative lending market is now worth a record £6.26billion, with the European market doubling last year to over €6.6billion – however, there is clearly more to be done to reassure SMEs that alternative finance is a viable option for them.

The top three barriers for SMEs seeking finance from an alternative lender are:

  1. Concerns over changes in market dynamics and the potential impact on the customer (SME).
  2. Unregulated lending / potential regulatory loopholes.
  3. Higher interest rates / perceived as not competitive against bank lenders.

James Crellin, Director in the Finance Group at Walker Morris, said:

“Alternative finance is arguably the key to helping the economy get back on its feet and grow following the challenges businesses, particularly SMEs, faced during Covid-19. However, it’s undeniable that there are many hurdles SMEs face when it comes to securing funding – and it’s clear that the perceived risks around insecure finance and of regulatory loopholes with alternative finance providers is a huge barrier. These concerns are of course based on SME’s impression of alternative lenders and by no means the reality of alternative finance.

“We know alternative finance is a vast and rapidly growing market, and this is precisely why Walker Morris established its own full-service Alternative Lending Group. Our team of experts is dedicated to helping alternative lenders right across their life cycle.

“We ensure our clients have their house in order across all legal aspects of trading, so their customers can trust their processes too.”

Walker Morris’ Alternative Lending Group delivers full service advice and guidance to alternative finance providers and challenger banks – from set-up and structuring, getting the proper authorisations, sorting commercial contracts and outsourcing, putting in place wholesale and customer-facing funding, implementing new technology, managing compliance, regulatory and IP issues and loan portfolio management.

The firm’s survey of 500 businesses also revealed what SMEs want most from lenders. Surprisingly – whilst innovative digital platforms are desirable – half of the respondents (47%) considered face to face interaction highly important despite the pandemic resulting in a shift to online for many industries.

James continued: “It may sound obvious, but if SME-focused challenger banks and finance providers are able to demonstrate that they offer better products and services than mainstream providers, they have the potential to grow very quickly in a post-covid world. Our team has the skills to get these products to market, providing the expertise, experience and knowledge that finance providers can rely on.”

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/smes-are-hesitant-to-use-alternative-finance-providers-despite-refusal-from-traditional-lenders/

London Fraud Forum Returns to an in-Person Event for Its 15th Annual Conference

https://thefintechtimes.com/london-fraud-forum-returns-to-an-in-person-event-for-its-15th-annual-conference/

London Fraud Forum (LFF), the membership organisation which brings public, private and third sectors together to fight fraud, has announced that following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, it will return to hosting its 15th annual conference as an ‘in-person’ event after moving the conference online in 2020. The popular one-day conference will take place on Thursday 14th October 2021, at Guildhall, London.

An impressive line-up of keynote speakers includes; Ian Dyson, Commissioner for City of London Police; Simon York CBE, Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC; Jenny Radcliffe, The People Hacker; William Taaffe, COO, Lockdown Cyber Security; Frances Coulson, Partner, Wedlake Bell LLP; and Alastair Treharne, Co-founder Beruku Identity, with more to follow.  In addition to keynote talks, delegates can participate in their choice of interactive breakout sessions, network with peers, and meet with exhibitors offering the latest counter fraud services and solutions.

Robert Brooker, LFF Chair comments: “Over the past year and a half we have all missed the opportunity to meet in-person. Video calls have offered a stop-gap solution, but nothing beats meeting face to face.  We are sure our members will welcome the return of the LFF Annual Conference as an in-person event and will be excited to meet up again with colleagues and peers on October 14th in the prestigious Guildhall, London. We’ll have a day packed with keynote talks, panel debates, breakout sessions, networking opportunities, and exhibitor showcases. Covid-19 has provided the cover and opportunities that fraudsters dream about. Billions of pounds have been lost through covid related scams and frauds of all types, meaning that it has never been more important for counter fraud professionals to come together at events such as the LFF Annual Conference to find partners, to learn and share knowledge, that will inform and equip us all to fight and reduce fraud.”

The London Fraud Forum Annual Conference has grown in popularity since launching in 2007, and is now a must attend event for a diverse blend of counter fraud professionals across multiple sectors and industry, regularly attracting over 200 delegates from all sectors. LFF is supported by annual partners, Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions, Pindrop, Cifas Learning, TMT Analysis, Arkose Labs and Speeki.

The delegate ticket price includes a 12-month London Fraud Forum membership, offering valuable access throughout the year to webinars, podcasts, breakfast seminars, fraud news and a diverse and powerful network of counter fraud professionals.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/london-fraud-forum-returns-to-an-in-person-event-for-its-15th-annual-conference/

UK Fintech News Round-up: The Latest Stories 18/08

https://thefintechtimes.com/uk-fintech-news-round-up-the-latest-stories-18-08/

Each week we take a look at some of the latest UK Fintech News. This week, self-employed savers turn to their pension in 2021, mobile games to generate $5billion In revenue, and the UK is a nation of online armchair traders.

Mobile games in the UK to generate $5billion in revenue 

Gametech Riot Games App Arabic

Gametech Riot Games App Arabic

According to data presented by Safe Betting Sites, Mobile Games are projected to generate $5Billion in revenue and reach 30 million users in the UK by 2025.

Mobile Games have been the most lucrative segment of gaming over the last couple of years and many experts believe the segment is only about to get stronger. In 2021, revenue from Mobile Games in the UK is projected to reach $3.43B after a 14% YoY growth from 2020. This figure is set to grow a further 12.7% in 2022 and reach $3.87B.

Rex Pascual, eSports editor at Safe Betting Sites, commented: “It is incredible to think that the future of Mobile Games is about to get more lucrative, considering the heights it has already reached. But the segment is set to experience just that with advancements in technologies such as 5G and cloud gaming set to enhance the mobile gaming experience and make it more accessible than ever before.”

More than a third of Brits who invest in cryptocurrency don’t fully understand it

Despite a huge surge in interest and now more than two million Brits investing in cryptocurrencies, new research has revealed that over a third of those British investors admit to not fully understanding how cryptocurrencies work.

In a survey conducted by Appinio, the global market research platform, and FINTECH Circle, 36% of those who have invested into cryptocurrency only roughly understand the concept and only one in four (25%) feel able to easily explain it to other people. The survey also showed it is overwhelmingly men who invest with just 21% of investors being female.

Susanne Chishti, CEO at FINTECH Circle, said: “We have worked with Appinio in tracking the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies and wanted to see both the knowledge in this sector and the effect of online communities that have democratised investing, be that in cryptocurrencies or stocks/ETFs and bonds. The findings clearly show that despite investments into and speculation with cryptocurrencies, there is still a gap in knowledge as to what they are and how they work. This shows there is a greater opportunity for crypto marketplaces to grow closer to investors and potential investors by offering more education about risks and learning in this space.”

Self-employed savers turn to their pension in 2021

Pension Pots Source: Reward Strategy

Pension Pots Source: Reward StrategyNew PensionBee analysis shows that self-employed customers’ monthly contributions and average withdrawal amounts have risen sharply in H1 2021, compared to H1 2020.

PensionBee has found that its customers are paying more into their pensions in 2021 than in the previous year, with the largest monthly contributions coming from the self-employed.

While employed customers’ monthly contributions increased from £374 in the first half of 2020 to £508 in the same period in 2021, self-employed customers’ contributions have risen significantly from £543 in the first half of 2020 to £690 in the same period in 2021.

PensionBee CEO, Romi Savova comments: “It’s encouraging to see both employed and self-employed savers prioritising their pensions by increasing their monthly contributions, particularly during recent lockdowns. As always, we would encourage those who have a larger disposable income to continue saving where possible, and for those in retirement to keep as much of their pension invested until the exact moment they need it to ensure they’re well-positioned to enjoy a happy retirement.”

Gift cards key in reactivating the high street post-Covid

With retail and hospitality venues having finally reopened their doors to the public, new Gift Card and Voucher Association (GCVA) research has found that gift cards are a key driver in encouraging shoppers back to the high streets.

According to a survey of 2,000 UK shoppers, conducted by the GCVA as part of its ‘Gift Back’ campaign, gift cards will encourage over three fifths (63%) of shoppers to get out and support the wide breadth of retail and hospitality venues that are ready to welcome shoppers back to their venues. 35% of shoppers feel more inclined to purchase gift cards for their favourite brands post-pandemic to help businesses get back on their feet following months of closure.

Gail Cohen, director-general of the GCVA: “Gift cards have played a vital role in reintroducing customers to their favourite brands and shops, whether it be returning to a firm favourite or experiencing a new brand. To know shoppers feel encouraged to return to the high street is reassuring to UK businesses, especially our independent shops which are not supported by a global or national infrastructure.”

Truevo, launches feature to help UK businesses save almost 100 per cent in transaction fees 

Australia eCommerce

Australia eCommerce

Payment provider Truevo has launched its new e-commerce payment solution ‘Truevo Account’. It aims to help SMEs save on transaction fees incurred whilst making the transition to doing business online more secure.

Research from Truevo shows businesses can save up to 100 per cent with the Truevo Account compared to competitors. The 3-in-1 end-to-end payment solution will enable new and existing e-commerce businesses to accept, process, and manage payments online. Based in London, Truevo is a multinational fintech company that makes online transactions faster, easier, and safer.

CEO of Truevo, David Liu said: “When the pandemic took hold, many business owners had no choice but to transition their businesses online in order to survive. With the Truevo Account, we are one step closer to achieving our vision to remove the ever-increasing burden payments induce on businesses by simplifying the lives of our customers and allowing SMEs to focus on what matters most to them.”

Survey reveals UK is a nation of online armchair traders

Top 50 Gen Z and Millennials Investment Stocks Sourced by DailyFX

Top 50 Gen Z and Millennials Investment Stocks Sourced by DailyFX

According to the findings of a new survey, people in the UK are choosing to trade and invest in stocks and shares online rather than receive potential returns from savings accounts with all-time low interest rates.

The poll of 2,000 people across the UK, commissioned by Capital.com and conducted by OnePoll, also reveals that people in the UK are choosing to trade online themselves because they cannot afford to use an IFA and believe that banks charge too much to manage investments. Four in ten respondents (38%) are trading or investing in stocks and shares online at home or have done so in the past, and a fifth (21%) are considering it, according to the survey.

More than half (52%) of those respondents say that they decided to do this because the potential returns are better than savings rates offered by banks. A further 44% believe that online trading is a convenient way to make some extra income.

Jonathan Squires, CEO of Capital.com, said: “The survey raises the important question about whether traditional sources of financial management are offering value for money. There is a clear willingness for people to take matters into their own hands by trading and investing in stocks and shares directly online, themselves. The internet has broken down barriers to education and investing, making it easier for people to find information online.”

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/uk-fintech-news-round-up-the-latest-stories-18-08/

In Conversation: Andrew Doukanaris, Pomelo Pay, at Fintech Week London

https://thefintechtimes.com/in-conversation-andrew-doukanaris-pomelo-pay-at-fintech-week-london/

Fintech Week London took place in July as the first live in-person fintech event since the pandemic. Over the course of five days, the industry’s key players came together to discuss all things fintech, from open banking to digital ID and cryptocurrency to collaboration.  During the event, The Fintech Times spoke to Andrew Doukanaris, CEO of Pomelo Pay, all about the rise of QR code payments.

“People are becoming more used to QR code payments. Its no longer about people using cash, its all about using mobile phones and what they can do with that technology.”

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/in-conversation-andrew-doukanaris-pomelo-pay-at-fintech-week-london/

GlobalBlock: Coinbase Earnings Show Signs of Maturity for Cryptocurrency

https://thefintechtimes.com/globalblock-coinbase-earnings-show-signs-of-maturity-for-cryptocurrency/

Bitcoin has had a very turbulent year hitting highs of $60,000 and lows of sub $30,000. Despite the volatile market in which it presides, Bitcoin’s value appears to be stabilising itself.

Marcus Sotiriou, a Sales Trader at the UK based digital asset broker GlobalBlock, delves into what has affected Bitcoin’s value: 

Bitcoin has closed its first decisive week above the 20-week moving average (shown by the higher blue line) and the 21-week EMA (exponential moving average, shown as the lower blue line), which is what many consider to be the bull market support band, for the first time since it was around $57,000. There is also a bullish crossover on the MACD indicator on the weekly time frame (shown below)

Bitcoin / US dollar

Bitcoin / US dollar

Even though the trend has flipped bullish, a pullback is to be expected before continuation. This is because there has been declining volume with an increase in price, as well as a bearish divergence in the RSI indicator on the daily time frame (shown by the blue arrows). In addition, there is a rising wedge pattern forming on the daily time frame (shown in black) which has a high probability of breaking to the downside.

Bitcoin US Dollar chart

Bitcoin US Dollar chart

The cryptocurrency market is showing signs of maturity, shown by Coinbase’s Q2 earnings report last week. The retail trading volume increased from $11billion in Q2-2020 to $145billion in Q2-2021, whereas the institutional trading volume increased from $17billion in Q2-2020 to $345billion in Q2-2021. Even though the market is deeply retail-driven, this report shows how institutions are beginning to dominate the industry. Furthermore, the company announced a profit of over $1.6billion which is nearly double the profit of Q1. Analysts’ revenue predictions of $1.88billion were also exceeded as the company announced a $2billion revenue for Q2. Over the weekend, the chip giant Intel declared that they own $800,000 of Coinbase stock, which further signals institutional interest in the field.

The private investment firm Neuburger Berman is now adding Bitcoin futures to its $161million commodity Strategy Fund. A spokesperson for the firm said it is using bitcoin price exposure strategically as a hedge against inflation, as Bitcoin “is scarce by definition.” Other investment firms like Vaneck and Invesco have sought out exposure to Bitcoin via futures rather than holding the underlying asset – these companies filed for Bitcoin futures ETFs.

On Friday, HIVE blockchain, which are a Canadian crypto-mining company, announced they have ordered 1,800 new Bitcoin miners. They currently hold 875 BTC and keep 100% of the Bitcoin they mine using renewable energy. For firms like HIVE blockchain, China’s recent ban on bitcoin mining has been a great opportunity to double down on mining equipment purchases. Machines have been geographically redistributed out of China. The China ban has allowed North American miners specifically to benefit, as they have enjoyed a lower difficulty to mine and hence HODL more Bitcoin. In July, North American Bitcoin miners have enjoyed a bigger bitcoin production without meaningful increases in hash rate capacity. Five publicly listed firms mined a combined total of 1,802 $BTC that month, a 58% average increase over June.

Public NA miners bitcoin production

Public NA miners bitcoin production

Elon Musk reiterated his admiration for DOGE on Saturday. Mark Cuban declared that Dogecoin is the “strongest” cryptocurrency for paying for goods and services, to which Musk replied, “I have been saying this all along”. Dogecoin is reaching the spotlight in the Premier League, as Watford FC will feature the cryptocurrency as its sleeve sponsor in the 2021/2022 season. (Other football teams partnering with crypto companies include Brentford FC and AC Milan).

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/globalblock-coinbase-earnings-show-signs-of-maturity-for-cryptocurrency/

iwoca Data Suggests Over Half of Loan Applications Through Embedded Finance Partners Are Approved

https://thefintechtimes.com/iwoca-data-suggests-over-half-of-loan-applications-through-embedded-finance-partners-are-approved/

New data from iwoca – a small business lender – reveals how embedded finance will play a vital role for small businesses as they look to recover from the pandemic.

Fast and successful loan applications

Exclusive insights bring to life the benefits of embedded finance, highlighting how iwoca’s small business customers receive faster lending decisions and are more likely to be successful in getting the finance they need.

In Q1 2021, iwoca data shows that 50% of customers who applied through an embedded finance partner received a lending decision in less than two minutes, compared with 12% of direct applications. In addition, small business applications via embedded finance partnerships are 58% more likely to be approved than those that applied to iwoca directly.

Embedded finance technology improves processes for lenders and small businesses

Nearly 30% of all loan applications to iwoca come through embedded finance partners. Businesses can access loans from iwoca through a range of platforms such as accounting software and digital neo-banks including Xero, Tide and Funding Options. This makes the process of applying for finance far simpler for SMEs as loan offers are readily available in the services they use day-to-day.

In addition, these platforms hold much of a company’s financial information – such as cash flow and trading performance data- that a lender would need to review a loan application. This allows iwoca to make faster decisions and to tailor products to a customer’s individual needs, which translates to greater chances of getting approved for finance.

Access to finance will be key in helping SMEs get back on track following the impact of the covid-19 crisis. However, with the closure of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme many high street banks are likely to reduce their lending to small and micro businesses as their risk appetite narrows. Alternative lenders can fill this gap, with embedded finance integrations providing small businesses with simple access to the finance they need.

Colin Goldstein, Commercial Growth Director at iwoca said: “The technology behind embedded finance has huge potential for SMEs, and the possibilities to embed finance are vast. Small businesses are already benefiting from embedded finance through faster and more successful loan applications.

“iwoca has led the way in developing embedded finance products, and well over a quarter of businesses we are now serving come through our embedded finance partners. Accelerating this should be a central pillar to rebuilding our economy, and we look forward to working with more partners to help their small business customers get the finance they need.”

iwoca has been at the forefront of innovation in embedded finance in the UK, becoming the first alternative lender to offer lending through an API. The company launched its own OpenLending platform following the £10million Capability and Innovation Fund award from the Banking Competition Remedies in 2019, which allows partners to integrate seamlessly with iwoca’s lending API. The company has created over 20 embedded finance partnerships, with more expected to be announced over the coming months.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/iwoca-data-suggests-over-half-of-loan-applications-through-embedded-finance-partners-are-approved/

Over £113million Lost to Crypto Scams in 2020: Numbers in 2021 Expected To Be Much Higher

https://thefintechtimes.com/over-113million-lost-to-crypto-scams-in-2020-numbers-in-2021-expected-to-be-much-higher/

A poll by European law firm Fieldfisher revealed over 93% of businesses are uncertain or have no idea what to do if they fall victim to cyber fraud.

Lack of preparedness for responding to cyber fraud incidents is giving fraudsters greater leeway to hide stolen assets, reducing the chances of recovery.

According to the poll, only around 7% of respondents were confident they would know what to do in the event of a cyber fraud incident. Of those who responded, just over 67% said they had “some idea”, while nearly 27% said they would have “no idea” how to react (responses were rounded to the nearest whole %).

Cyber fraud covers a multitude of activities, from simple push-payment frauds involving the transfer of cash between accounts under false pretences, to highly sophisticated schemes using cutting-edge technologies, digital currencies and complex multi-jurisdictional networks to steal and hide assets.

While many frauds involve hard currency and traditional bank accounts, which are relatively easy to trace in terms of ownership and jurisdiction, fraudsters are increasingly targeting crypto assets, which despite being fairly simple to track through the blockchain, are harder to pin to people and places.

Knowing who to call and being able to move quickly are key to recovering stolen assets, as the England and Wales civil courts have the power to issue worldwide and proprietary freezing orders and disclosure orders – even if the location of the assets and the identity of the perpetrators is unknown – to halt the dissipation of assets.

Incidents of fraud are on the rise, as fraudsters tap into increasingly deep pools of cash and cryptocurrencies.

More than £200 billion has been put into cash savings accounts since the Covid-19 lockdowns began in March 2020, according to the latest Bank of England data, which was published on 29 July 2021 and goes up to 30 June 2021.

According to a freedom of information request submitted by Investors Chronicle in March to the soon to be revamped fraud reporting service, Action Fraud, British investors lost £113million to crypto scammers last year, up from £77million in 2019 – a figure that Fieldfisher fraud specialists expect to be surpassed this year, driven by soaring cryptocurrency values.

Commenting on the recent increase in cyber-fraud incidents and Fieldfisher’s poll findings, corporate crime partner Tony Lewis said:

“Incidents of all the types of fraud we deal with, but particularly bank and cryptocurrency fraud, have increased noticeably in the past year.

“Cash held in bank accounts is an obvious target, with victims ranging from high net worth individuals holding millions in offshore accounts, to pensioners with modest savings held in high street bank accounts.

“In terms of cryptocurrency, like any relatively new asset class with the potential for very high returns, there is always a risk fraudsters will try to take advantage of it. Amateur investors are among the main targets for fraudsters, while ransomware attacks against companies, to be paid in crypto, are also becoming a frequent occurrence.

“Victims of fraud often consider the criminal route of redress first which can be an effective way of bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“However, pursuing a civil action against fraudsters may be a faster and more effective way of recovering stolen property, which in most cases is the victim’s primary priority.”

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/over-113million-lost-to-crypto-scams-in-2020-numbers-in-2021-expected-to-be-much-higher/