Cybersecurity: Forget Me Not – How to Manage Passwords Securely

Throughout the entire month of January, The Fintech Times will be exploring every dimension of one of the industry’s most pressing topics: cybersecurity.

During our fourth week of cybersecurity coverage, we’ve considered how passwords are being breached, and the highs and lows of contemporary security measures like biometrics. Today we’ll be continuing along this theme with a more hands-on step forward, to consider all the best ways to manage passwords more securely.

Amir Hashmi, CEO and founder of the managed services provider zsahAmir Hashmi, CEO and founder of the managed services provider zsah
Amir Hashmi

Password technology stands between cybercriminals and our personal information, so it’s critical that these front line measures are as robust and as unbreakable as possible. “According to a 2021 IBM report, stolen credentials are the most common cause of data breaches, making employee passwords one of the biggest ongoing threats to corporate security – whether the employees using them are remote working or not,” zsah CEO and founder, Amir Hashmi tells The Fintech Times.

The security of a business depends on the security of a password, and to provide a comprehensive solution to this task, we sat down with a range of industry experts to gain an on-the-ground understanding of how this can be achieved effectively.

Complexity is Key

Building a password is like building a bridge. It needs to be long enough to cross the river of cybersecurity breaches, unforgettable, so that you don’t forget where to make the crossing, and fortified so that the bridge doesn’t give way under your feet.

Jason Dowzell, CEO and Co-Founder of the software development company Natural HRJason Dowzell, CEO and Co-Founder of the software development company Natural HR
Jason Dowzell

“Managing passwords securely can be challenging – especially when we’re all using an ever-growing number of systems, both professionally and personally,” comments Jason Dowzell, CEO and Co-Founder of Natural HR. “We’re supposed to memorise a vast number of passwords designed to be impossible to guess!

“A good starting point to managing passwords securely is to cultivate the practice of creating longer passwords which aren’t re-used on multiple sites. Many businesses and sites require that passwords are made up of both upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

“While this contributes to more complex passwords, these are often hard to remember and can ultimately lead to poorer security hygiene. No one will remember ‘A6*8Jhku)[email protected]’ in a hurry!

“It should be noted that a longer password combining multiple words – opting for password length rather than complexity – is harder to crack and also easier for the user to remember. In fact, research has found that a password containing 12 characters is 62 trillion times more difficult to crack compared to one with just six.”

Jason Stirland, CTO at DeltaNet InternationalJason Stirland, CTO at DeltaNet International
Jason Stirland

Adding to this, Jason Stirland, CTO at DeltaNet International recognises how a small crack in the wall could compromise the integrity of your defences, and how raising employee awareness remains essential: “According to research by LastPass, despite 92 per cent of online users recognising that using the same password is a risk, 65 per cent still reuse theirs across accounts, increasing the risk of a data breach. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to train their employees on the importance of using passwords securely as a preliminary line of defence.

“With cyber-attacks on the rise, it is remarkable how many passwords are compromised simply because they are not strong enough. Strong passwords are hard to guess, include a combination of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers, and are different for each account/platform. It’s important not to use names, important dates or words from the Oxford dictionary. Instead, use a memorable phrase and change out some of the letters for numbers or symbols to make it difficult to guess.”

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is the process of accessing data by presenting two, or sometimes more, different types of information. Typically, users might be requested to verify their identity by triggering a parallel process on a supporting app once they’ve entered their password.

“Unfortunately, often due to the sheer number of passwords required for users online – many people reuse the same password across multiple accounts, making them vulnerable and posing an information security risk, especially if shared with business accounts,” adds Stirland. “To help counter this risk, IT teams should enable mandatory two-factor authentication on company accounts as an added layer of security.”

“Using two-factor authentication provides a second layer of security beyond just a username and password,” explains Dowzell. “This security approach requires an additional login credential to gain account access, and receiving that second credential requires access to something that either belongs to the user (e.g. a unique access code sent via SMS to their mobile phone), something only the user knows (e.g. security question answers or a PIN) or something only the user is (e.g. biometric data such as a fingerprint).”

Password Managers

“Depending on your business, the number of applications your employees may need to use to perform their duties can reach dozens, if not hundreds. A robust password policy must be enforced. It is, of course, difficult for employees to remember a long list of strong passwords with strings of random letters, numbers, and symbols. As such, the use of password managers which create, retain, and autofill passwords can be a good,” explains Hashmi.

Password managers work online in a similar way to how keychains keep all of your keys securely in one place. The solution could appear to be highly valuable when managing remote teams, and are also beneficial when managing a large volume of passwords.   

“Using a reputable password manager can also help in managing passwords securely and can be readily accessed using one master password,” Dowzell adds. “These tools allow users to store multiple passwords in an encrypted format so that they don’t have to remember each of them – and they often generate ‘strong’ passwords on the user’s behalf.”

Michael Crompton, Founder and CEO of ForghettiMichael Crompton, Founder and CEO of Forghetti
Michael Crompton

One such solution that consumers might be interested in utilising is the password management service of Forghetti. The service allows users to generate and implement passwords using just one secure key. Whilst speaking to the company’s Founder and CEO, Michael Crompton advises: “The most vulnerable and difficult aspect of maintaining security is the human factor. Cybersecurity is a necessity for young and old alike. As a society, we need to encourage everyone to take a first step towards being secure and responsible with their personal data. We have designed a series of illustrations aimed at teaching and raising awareness of five critical rules for handling passwords:

  1. Make your passwords complex
  2. Have a unique password for every account
  3. Make your passwords long
  4. Be mindful of where you store your passwords
  5. Change your passwords regularly

Ultimately it is not practical for anyone really to manage this manually – so time to get a password management solution if you do not have one already.”



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

Contactless Payments Year in Review 2021 Presented by Barclaycard

Contactless payments saw a massive uptake at the start of the pandemic, with this trend not showing any signs of slowing down two years later. In 2022, research from Barclaycard has found contactless payments have increased 40.2 per cent year on year, with 91.1 per cent of all eligible card transactions in 2021 having been made contactlessly.

The data also shows that shoppers increasingly opted for ‘touch and go’ at the check-out following the limit increase from £45 to £100 in October 2021, which resulted in the average number of transactions made contactlessly in the UK each day growing by 27.5 per cent.

Growth across all sectors

All sectors have benefited from the contactless limit increase, with the payment method saving an average of seven seconds per transaction compared to Chip and PIN and 15 seconds compared to cash.

Analysis across sectors shows that the value of contactless transactions made in the entertainment sector, which includes cinemas, theatres, bowling alleys, arcades grew by 105.8 per cent, while bars, pubs and clubs drove an 83.4 per cent increase year-on-year.

Other significant increases in the value of payments made include at sports and outdoor retailers (up 64.7 per cent), clothing stores (up 64.6 per cent) and takeaway and fast food outlets (up 39.2 per cent).

How consumers used contactless in 2021

Individually, the average contactless user made 180 contactless payments in 2021, worth a total of £2,293, an increase from 2020 where users made on average 141 payments worth £1,640.

As UK consumers finalised their festive purchases, Thursday 23 December 2021 was the busiest day for contactless transactions, where the value of eligible sales grew by 121.4 per cent, compared to the daily average of 2021.

Jose Carvalho, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard said: “Our data shows that many shoppers have welcomed the £100 increase to the contactless limit and are now choosing to pay this way for goods and services in store. Unsurprisingly, many consumers are also increasingly reluctant to touch cash or PIN pads when they go to shops which is why innovations that enable a ‘low-touch’ experience, such as contactless payments have really grown in popularity.”

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments, said: “The increase to the £100 payment limit has been a great opportunity to take friction out of the purchase experience. This is especially the case in busy stores where queues can quickly build up; the faster that line moves through, the more likely shoppers are to have a good experience and want to come back. Speed at the checkout will often avoid shoppers going elsewhere, which is why the limit increase is a win-win for cardholders and merchants.”

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

The “Bermuda Triangle” That Found Fintech: A Conversation with Rt Hon David Burt, Premier of Bermuda

Despite having a land area of only around 21 square miles, the fintech scene in Bermuda is one that is ripe for innovation and disruption of the global industry. With a strong regulatory environment, the Bermudan government has identified the country’s opportunity to be a pioneer in the financial technology sphere, attracting the world’s best-structured fintech companies to be a part of the ecosystem.

The Rt Hon David BurtThe Rt Hon David Burt
The Rt Hon David Burt, Premier of Bermuda

Edward David Burt MP was elected Premier of the country in July of 2017 as Bermuda’s youngest-ever head of government. Burt is also the minister responsible for fintech, keen to continue the growth of the island’s fintech landscape, as well as promote and develop its long-established strengths and status as a hub for innovation. Only a few months after he was elected, Bermuda formed a blockchain task force to examine both the business development side of things as well as regulatory aspects, highlighting the country’s strong regulation and legislation pathways.

“Bermuda was one of the first countries in the world to introduce a licensing regime for digital asset companies, and in addition to that we continue to advance, with Bermuda known for being a sound regulator,” says Burt.

Government involvement in fintech

As the minister responsible for fintech, Burt stresses that the responsibility to supervise and develop the industry is shared threefold.

“In Bermuda, we have what I used to call the holy trinity, but now I call it the Bermuda Triangle, and what that is, is the relationship between the industry, our regulator and the government. All three of us work to ensure that our financial services marketplaces can advance.

“The government sets the laws, but when it comes to regulating digital asset companies, that is completely independent of the government and is handled by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. The government takes feedback from the industry to use when drafting legislation, which is then implemented by the regulator.”

In terms of the three institutions working together, Burt adds: “Things are working so well in Bermuda. One of the latest changes that we’ve made was in the area of clarifying derivatives and how those can work underneath our regulated environment, something that was requested by industry players to make sure we can have additional growth and expansion for Bermuda products.”

Strong regulatory landscape

The regulatory landscape in Bermuda is strong, with Burt stressing the robustness of their regulation.

“Bermuda is known for being a sound regulator, our Bermuda Monetary Authority is very well respected,” he said.

Bermuda is also one of the only global authorities to implement a legislative framework that encourages the testing and development of technology that could disrupt the financial services industry, not only via a regulatory sandbox but also with a strong, proactive regulatory regime.

“There are only two countries in the world that have regulatory equivalence when it comes to risk matters with both the United States and the European Union, and that is Switzerland and Bermuda.

“So, we are a place that is known by international regulators as a serious contender. Right now, we have 10 regulated companies inside of our space, with more companies going through the process as we speak – some incredibly big names that we can’t wait to announce when they become officially regulated.

“For companies that want to be regulated, Bermuda is the home for them. We enable fintech companies
to do things that they cannot do in other jurisdictions with a well-known regulator, and we believe this will stand us in good stead as we move forward.”

The local market

As a small country, Burt advises that Bermuda often gets excluded from what he calls ‘Fintech 1.0’, the
companies, products and services that are commonplace for consumers in Europe and the US, such as Paypal and Venmo.

“These companies don’t come to countries as small as ours because it doesn’t make sense for them to put in the infrastructure for such a small market,” the Premier said.

Instead, Bermuda encourages homegrown fintech companies in the country to create these solutions locally,
offering an alternative licence to its sandbox level which starts with a slightly lower level of regulatory scrutiny than what is applied to companies in the digital asset spaces.

“Our test licence has a lower application fee and allows locals and others who are looking to test their startups inside this environment to go ahead and see what it is like working with a regulator to build and develop their products, eventually advancing them up to a sandbox license and ultimately a full licence.

“We have a full suite, and we want to be known as the place where companies can come and test and develop their products and services in an environment where a government is willing to work with them to help scale them up.”

Looking to the future

Bermuda’s goals and objectives as a fintech sector over the next five years all revolve around being known and recognised in the global market. As an established hub for fintech that is consistently growing, the
Premier is keen to highlight the country’s role in the industry moving forward as a provider of sound regulation.

“We haven’t been like other countries who have rushed to try and get in the big names because we recognise that inside of this industry that there are people who want to be regulated but not everyone actually wants the scrutiny that a regulator does provide,” Burt said.

“From our perspective, the companies that do want that scrutiny are in for the long haul and recognise the way the industry is moving globally and that need for a well-regulated environment. Those are the types of companies that we’re looking to attract in Bermuda.”

A home for all fintech

Finally, when asked what was the one thing he wanted the global fintech industry to know about Bermuda, the Premier concluded: “Bermuda will be the future of fintech regulation. If you are a company that is serious about wanting to be regulated by an internationally respected regulator that understands digital assets, offers regulatory clarity and a government that will commit to working with you to develop products and services locally, there’s a place for you 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.

How Mojaloop Can Support Hub Operators to Deliver Instant Interoperable Payments for Schemes

Mojaloop, an open-source payment platform designed as a mobile payment system to help serve underbanked markets, has recently released a new whitepaper.

Discover how Mojaloop can support hub operators to deliver instant interoperable payments for schemes in this recently published whitepaper. This whitepaper shares insight into:

· Interoperable instant payments and financial inclusion

· Defining good instant push payment interoperability

· Schemes and consortiums

· Things to consider when choosing technology

· The significance of Mojaloop approach

To read the full whitepaper in full please 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.

StrikeX: Why Online Retail Trading Is Broken, and How To Fix It

In 2021, online retail trading reached record volumes of over $8billion globally, continuing an upward trend in volumes that began in the first quarter of 2020. The retail investment boom was a reaction to the market fluctuations caused by COVID-19, with a new generation of investors and traders looking to secure financial gains by trading online in stocks, cryptocurrency, and other assets. The outlook for 2022 is positive: retail investors continue to be highly active, with crypto at the forefront of the online retail trading market.

Joe Jowett co-founded StrikeX with the goal of producing simple blockchain-based products that allow individuals to invest easily and safely. His highly successful background as a trader and spirited community leader makes him the perfect candidate to innovate in building an ecosystem that puts the user’s needs first, and provide them with the most valuable and useful tools possible.

Speaking to The Fintech Times, Jowett explains why online retail trading is broken, and how it can be made fairer, safer, and more accessible through increased transparency, tokenisation of assets, and removing entry barriers to new traders:

Joe Jowett, CEO at StrikeXJoe Jowett, CEO at StrikeX
Joe Jowett, CEO at StrikeX

However, for online retail trading to continue its surge in popularity in the long term, certain aspects of the sector need to be fixed. The infamous GameStop saga of January 2021 highlighted the failures of the current market, with young investors on Reddit creating a short squeeze by buying out GameStop stocks, and eventually organising the purchase of enough shares that short sellers closed with immense losses. Meanwhile, retail trading platforms restricted transactions of GameStop stocks. The market had underestimated everyday investors, and platforms reacted by severing the trust their users had in them. To regain that trust and build a better market, platforms must be more transparent with their users, adapt to users’ needs such as including tokenised asset trading, and empower their users to trade safely and responsibly.

The need for transparency

The ramifications of the GameStop saga meant that online trading platforms had to rebuild their reputation. By freezing trades, trading platforms were responsible for millions of investors losing money, and became the subject of numerous lawsuits. It is therefore vital that platforms operate transparently and securely to regain users’ trust. Done right, the use of blockchain technology offers the ability to do so more effectively than anything else.

Blockchain has many benefits, supporting decentralised peer-to-peer transactions that are lightning-quick, secure, and free from additional costs. By being instantly traceable, keeping an accessible information log, and encrypting sensitive information, blockchain is the future for transparency and security in trading, and one of the key reasons why trading in crypto and NFTs is so popular today.

Tokenised asset trading

Tokenisation, of which NFTs are an example, is an alternative to encrypting data. By tokenising assets, they become similarly secure, with tokens acting as a non-sensitive substitute for the actual assets. As the popularity of tokenisation is increasing, platforms that offer the ability to trade tokenised assets are becoming highly coveted.

Tokenisation brings all the benefits of blockchain technology into digitised assets ranging from commodities to stocks. Tokenised asset trading allows for faster, cheaper, and safer trading, while also opening up an unlimited market. Not only are markets always open and globally accessible, but platforms that offer tokenised asset trading can remove the need for multiple accounts on multiple platforms. Instead, tokenised asset trading allows for all assets to be traded on a single platform, providing that platform supports tokenisation.

Removing entry barriers

Offering accessibility for first-time users is an absolute must for these platforms. With the large influx of users over the last couple of years – 15 per cent of current retail investors began in 2020, with a median age of 31 – it is crucial that platforms adapt to be more user-friendly and easier to navigate, to attract further users and retain existing ones. Currently, many online trading platforms are confusing and overly complex, and offer little in the way of education for inexperienced traders.

Platforms that offer transparency, provide tokenised asset trading, and cater to novices as well as experienced users will be more likely to retain their user base, while trading platforms that do not adapt will be left behind. At StrikeX, we have listened to feedback on what users want out of their trading platforms. To offer a solution, we designed TradeStrike, our flagship platform which is due to be released in late 2022. TradeStrike will offer tokenised asset trading for crypto and other assets such as real estate and stocks on a single platform, utilising an intuitive user interface that aims to educate and empower traders.

As online retail trading becomes more prominent across younger generations, trading platforms must increase their appeal, fulfilling their user’s needs and providing trading that is fairer, safer, and more accessible. It is time to revolutionise the marketplace, so that it truly works for everyone who uses it.

UK Identified as European Epicentre for Climate Tech Innovation

According to PwC UK’s Net Zero Future50 report, the UK ranked first in Europe for total climate tech Venture Capital funding between 2013 and the first half of 2021, which saw investment levels in excess of £6.5billion.

The report identified the UK as an epicentre for climate tech innovation, ranking the country third globally for total Venture Capital (VC) funding in Climate tech between 2013 and the first half of 2021; surpassed only by the USA and China.

The UK also recently saw record VC investment levels, in excess of £2billion, in the second half of 2020 to the first half of 2021 and has more climate tech start-ups that have received funding than any other country in Europe from 2013 to June 2021, in excess of £6.5billion.

Leo Johnson, Head of Disruption and Innovation at PwCLeo Johnson, Head of Disruption and Innovation at PwC
Leo Johnson

“As climate challenges grow ever more urgent, climate tech innovations are helping to bend the emissions curve and accelerate decarbonisation,” comments Leo Johnson, Head of Disruption and Innovation at PwC. “The UK has been pivotal in climate tech’s growth over recent years and with COP26 highlighting the need for climate technology as part of the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda, the space is emerging rapidly. Technology is not the panacea, but climate tech is a critical mechanism to get us on track to meet the 1.5-degree goal, and the UK is at the forefront.”

PwC’s inaugural Net Zero Future50 report analyses the UK’s rapidly growing climate tech sector and identifies 50 innovative start-ups with the potential to make a significant difference in the battle against climate change.

With investment predominantly focused on well-proven technologies and near term profitable outcomes, a ‘Carbon Funding Gap’ is identified and presents an opportunity to focus greater pools of capital on certain innovations across high-carbon sectors like Built Environment to Food, Agriculture and Land Use (FALU).

The top but not the peak

To support the acceleration of funding, further progress is needed to channel and align national and global policies, especially with agreeing on the rules and guidelines for a global carbon credit market.

The report also finds that:

  • Critical funding gaps are present within the built environment, industry, manufacturing and resource management and GHG capture, removal and storage.
  • Despite mobility and transport receiving disproportionately more funding than every other sector in relation to its emissions abatement potential, it is still far from fully decarbonised.
  • There remain funding gaps within sectors – for example, funding into low-GHG aviation and shipping is significantly less than electric vehicles (EVs).
  • The same can be seen in Food, Agriculture and Land Use, where large-scale investment has gone into alternative meat start-ups and less focus on natural carbon sequestration through methods such as oceanic ecosystem restoration.

Johnson concludes with: “Investment is needed across all sectors, but the challenge is implementation, speed and scale. It will take engagement and action from policymakers as well as investors to deliver the potential of these climate tech breakthroughs.”

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

Positivity All Round as Growing Filipino Employment Rates Uphold Alternative Lending

The latest research of Robocash Group reveals that improvements in the employment rate and the final household consumption volume of the Filipino population will positively affect alternative lending in 2022.

The portfolio quality of alternative lenders has considerably decreased due to the Covid pandemic. While before, the rate of late repayments (i.e. non-performing loans NPL) used to comprise four to five per cent, this number has soared to between 10 to 10.5 per cent since Q3 2020, signifying the borrowers’ growing inability to repay loans.

The population employment rate is one of the indicators of a borrower’s creditworthiness. The wage may grow and diminish, yet it still exists and covers one’s needs. Employment or lack thereof, on the other hand, affects one’s well being in a more significant fashion.

In 2020, the employment rate suffered a sharp decrease, while the NPL share grew, i.e. the portfolio quality worsened. Thus, with a decrease in employment rate comes a rise in non-performing loans, and vice-a-versa.

According to the analysis of Robocash Group, in 2022 in the Philippines, with an increase in employment by at least one per cent, the share of non-performing loans will decrease by 0.33 per cent. It’s also noted that the increase in the volume of final consumption of households has a strong positive impact on the portfolio volumes of non-banking organisations.



The Philippines economy is on its way to recovery

According to the quarterly survey of consumer expectations by The Central Bank of the Philippines, Filipinos now expect the employment rate to grow. The population’s wellbeing and the general state of economy in the country are forecast to improve.

Analysts at Robocash Group comment: “In 2022, Philippine alternative lending will experience growth both in quality of the portfolio and in size. This assessment can be made based on the existing positive effect the employment rate growth has had on the portfolio quality, as well as a positive impact on the market volume due to the increase in consumption volume. The same notion is echoed in third-party forecasts.”

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

Receiving Stock Options Can Help Prevent Resignation Finds EquityBee

Propeller Insights, on behalf of EquityBee, the employee-focused stock options funding solution, has conducted a survey of more than 1,000 employed US adults and found that stock options increases employees’ personal investment in the companies they work for, resulting in stronger employee retention. This is ever more needed as we face the Great Resignation. However, in order to do this, employees must be able to exercise those stock options — and many can’t.

“The reality of the workplace is that many stock options remain on the table because startup employees are unable to afford them. That means a significant amount of the workforce won’t share in the potentially life-changing financial windfall, which they otherwise earned, when their companies have a liquidity event. That shouldn’t be the case,” said EquityBee CEO Oren Barzilai. “We created EquityBee to enable startup employees to fully participate in the success of the companies they help build, but there’s a clear benefit to the companies as well.”

Stock options help employees feel more emotionally invested in a company

According to the survey, stock option packages are overwhelmingly positive for both the employees who receive them and the companies that offer them. This is excellent news for companies scrambling to retain employees in the face of the Great Resignation.

  • 92 per cent of American workers surveyed said receiving stock options increases their sense of belonging to a company.
  • 85 per cent said receiving stock options motivates them to work harder for a company to succeed.
  • 89 per cent said stock options could change their financial future for the better.

Unfortunately, 61 per cent of American startup employees said they haven’t been granted stock options through their current employer. Of those who have, more than a third (36 per cent) said their employer didn’t explain their stock options clearly.

Many can’t afford to exercise their stock options

EquityBee data shows that 55 per cent of US stock options go unexercised since employees don’t have the necessary cash or can’t afford the financial risk involved in exercising them and paying the applicable taxes.

The Propeller Insights survey commissioned by EquityBee reveals that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of startup employees who have been granted stock options don’t believe they can exercise, even without considering the tax portion. This includes more men (28 per cent) than women (25 per cent), even though significantly more men (37 per cent) than women (29 per cent) have been granted stock options by their employer.

The data also reveals an interesting generational story: Employees ages 45+ were almost half as likely (21 per cent) as employees ages 18-44 (39 per cent) to say they’d been offered stock options. Further, employees ages 55+ were most likely to say they can’t afford to exercise their stock options.

“EquityBee’s mission is to level the playing field,” added Barzilai. “We pair employees with investors who can help them exercise their stock options.”

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

Behind the Idea: Minted

With inflation on the rise, your money is losing value. Gold is a solution. 

According to the Office of National Statistics, October saw inflation rise to the highest level in almost a decade to 4.2%. Similarly in the US rising costs due to inflation is seeing the value of people’s money decrease.

Over the last 5 years, and despite fluctuations over that period, gold has seen an increase in value of over 40% with an Ounce of gold valued at £976.44 (on 10th November 2017) now valued at £1375.21 (10th November 2021). 

Hamzah Almasyabi, Co-founder and CEO of Minted,Hamzah Almasyabi, Co-founder and CEO of Minted,
Hamzah Almasyabi, Co-founder and CEO of Minted,

According to the Bank of England, over the last five years UK inflation has averaged 2.5% per year. That would mean that if you had left that money in a bank account, with rising prices, your money would have lost 12.5% of its value. However, if you had bought an ounce of gold five years ago and sold today, even after factoring inflation over the period you’d still be much better off. This is why gold is regularly referred to as a hedge against inflation and why especially during times of economic uncertainty and high inflation, people see gold as an attractive safe haven. 

Hamzah Almasyabi, Co-founder and CEO of Minted, a precious metals savings app, shares his thoughts on the ever-changing landscape of the industry. 

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

As a fairly new fintech company with big ambitions, we are always keeping a close eye on innovations in the marketplace and exploring ways to add more value to our customers by leveraging these innovations. We’re constantly exploring possible partnerships to evolve the product both in the UK and internationally and where it makes sense, we’re always happy to explore.

How has this changed over the past few years?

When Minted first burst onto the scene, we were proud of what we had introduced to the market and the value that it brings to our customers. However, as the pandemic hit and we saw how quickly the landscape could change, we realised that as a company we needed to ensure we were always evolving quickly as a platform and staying ahead of the curve. With the evolution of technology and new possibilities emerging, we moved towards being a company that actively monitors the latest developments and incorporates innovations into our solution. 

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

Minted was born just before the pandemic, and with the pandemic came a great deal of uncertainty and great change in the market and working environment. As a result, we adapted and learnt how to run a lean operation that is remotely set up across different time zones and cultures. It wasn’t easy and took some learning so that it can work well for us, but now that it has developed as a norm, it’s that has allowed us to be flexible and responsive as well as position us well for international expansion which is something we are about to embark on.

What fintech ideas have been implemented?

Our solution includes a range of fintech innovations such as Open Banking as well as Biometric verification to help secure our customer accounts. We use automated recurring payments for our Savings Plans to make the buy of Precious easier than ever. We’re now working on adding new product lines including a Precious Metals B2B offering where Businesses will be able to offer their customers the chance to buy gold and silver through them via Minted Connect, a powerful API that will facilitate these transactions and create a new revenue stream for our Business Partners without the hassle.

What benefits have these brought?

Incorporating these solutions have helped us create an efficient platform with a streamlined user experience. Open Banking has allowed for faster payment clearing times, lower costs and increased choice for our customers. Biometric account verification has allowed the onboarding process to be completed in a much faster manner so that our users can make transactions and use the app almost immediately as well as keeping their account and assets secure. Automated payments have allowed us to offer our Savings Plan to customers so that they can build their precious metal holdings in the easiest and most convenient manner that there is. We have much more coming and will be adding to the technical partnerships that form our ecosystem. 

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

As technology develops, the risk and sophistication of online fraud has also increased. It’s key to stay a step ahead and businesses who fail to do that may find themselves paying a heavy price. Also, we may see increased regulation in the financial space and further clampdowns on Cryptocurrency.

Can these challenges be aided by fintech?

As fraudsters develop more sophisticated methods, we can expect AI to take a more prominent role in fraud detection and management.

Final thoughts…

If there is one thing that we learnt from the Covid pandemic, it’s how quickly economies and market dynamics can change on a global scale in such a short space of time. With that, and in the fast paced world that we live in which has been accelerated by technological innovations, the need for companies to be agile and able to adapt in time has never been greater. Embracing technological advancements and being willing to change the norms within your business can be the difference between success and failure.

  • 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.

Tap on Phone Launched by Network International to Facilitate Digital Payment Adoption in MEA

Mastercard, the global payments company, has marked a new milestone in the Middle East and Africa as it, alongside Network International, an enabler of digital commerce, have announced that 500,000 new merchants across the region will be using Tap on Phone technology to accept payments.

Tap on Phone powered by Mastercard Payment Gateway Services (MPGS), gives small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) the ability to accept payments through a smartphone. Customers will simply tap their card or device to make the payment on the SME merchant’s phone, with each transaction processed through MPGS. In an omnichannel environment where consumers increasingly want more choice to pay the way they want to, Tap on Phone is an innovative, affordable, convenient, and welcome addition to the payment ecosystem.

“We are excited by the possibilities that expanded digital payment acceptance offer – not just for merchants and businesses, but also to the regional economies and communities that will benefit from the resulting growth in commerce. Our ongoing collaboration with Network International continues to go from strength to strength in activating expanded access to the tools and technology that are adding value and creating a foundation for shared prosperity,” said Khalid Elgibali, Division President MENA, Mastercard.

Small and medium-sized businesses are recognising the potential of digitalisation, and have identified digital payment acceptance among the top drivers for growth. Three in four SMEs in the Middle East and Africa are optimistic about the next 12 months, according to the inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index.
Making sure that SMEs have all the support they need to go digital and grow digital is a key focus for Mastercard and Network International. The two companies work closely with government, financial organisations, fintechs, and the wider business community to create opportunities for SMEs across the region.

“As a leading enabler of commerce, we remain committed to connecting SMEs, the backbone of any economy, with innovative solutions that will drive wider acceptance across the region. We are proud to partner with Mastercard to grow the opportunities for entrepreneurs through the launch of Tap on Phone,” said Andrew Key, Group Managing Director – Acquiring, Network International.

The two companies have a long-standing partnership, bringing together Mastercard’s global expertise in payments and technology and Network International’s renowned digital payments capabilities that have a strong focus on security and innovation. In 2019, Mastercard made a strategic investment as a cornerstone investor in Network International, followed by an additional commitment over a five-year period towards developing innovative payment solutions for consumers to accelerate the adoption of cashless payments in the region and propel a world beyond cash. The launch of Tap on Phone is part of this strategy.

Mastercard has pledged $250million and committed to connecting 50 million micro, small and medium-sized businesses globally to the digital economy by 2025 using its technology, network, expertise, and resources in support of the company’s goal of building a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy. As part of these efforts, Mastercard is focused on connecting 25 million women entrepreneurs.

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

  • Executive Economic Development Advisor (Emerging Markets) | Contributor

This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 27/01

In today’s The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup we reveal Tink’s new UK head and share news of a partnership for Mollie and Chargebee.

Product and service launches

Fintech Payfare has unveiled a new rewards programme powered by Cardlytics. Payfare provides instant payout and digital banking solutions for the gig economy, including platforms Uber, Lyft and DoorDash. With this addition, Payfare cardholders can now earn cash back when they shop thousands of local and national brands.

Santander has launched Zinia, a buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform. The technology behind Zinia has operated in Germany for the past year, acquiring more than two million customers. Zinia will be rolled-out across Santander’s markets starting in 2022 with the Netherlands.

EarlyBird, the platform for parents, family and friends to collectively invest in a child’s future, has launched EarlyBird Crypto. Parents can now also add Bitcoin and Ethereum to the portfolio they manage for their child. Parents who sign up for the EarlyBird Crypto waitlist will get early access to the offering later this year, a $25 sign-up bonus, as well as an eight-part educational email series.

Early Bird

Early Bird

Fintech firm Pello Capital has launched the Oratio Project, a tech-led charity campaign that aims to help combat and reverse homelessness in the UK. The initiative offers homeless individuals access to contactless NFC cards to raise donations and spend vouchers at accredited Oratio vendors. It also offers a digital PO box temporary address in shelters to help them apply for ID and traditional banking solutions.

Expensify, a payments superapp, has introduced the Expensify CPA Card. The smart card is built specifically for accountants and includes benefits such as reimbursed CPA licence and CPE credit fees, dedicated account managers, instant approvals with high credit limits, and no personal guarantees.


FactSet, a provider of integrated financial information, has partnered with fintech firm Tiller Technologies Limited to integrate its ‘Construct’ product into the FactSet workstation. This partnership gives FactSet’s wealth management clients the tools to manage and rebalance client portfolios, and ensure oversight of client portfolios at scale.

Meanwhile, Worldline has joined the Spreedly Payment Service Provider Program. The partnership provides merchants, platforms and marketplaces streamlined access to Worldline’s payment processing solutions through Spreedly’s payments orchestration platform.

Banking software firm Temenos has joined FinTech Australia‘s corporate partner programme. It joins Facebook, Xero and Amazon Web Services as the latest company to join the initiative. FinTech Australia’s ecosystem partnership programme helps companies collaborate with the fintech sector.

Stripe has partnered with Spotify to help podcasters accept payments, launch recurring revenue streams, and deepen their connection with fans. Stripe provides the payment infrastructure for Spotify’s Podcast Subscriptions, a service that lets podcasters to offer paid monthly content.

Spotify Stripe

Spotify Stripe

More partnerships

Hope for Haiti is now an inaugural grant recipient and nonprofit partner of Coinbase through the cryptocurrency exchange platform’s ‘Coinbase Giving’ philanthropy programme. Coinbase’s $150,000 grant will expand the impact and capacity of Hope for Haiti’s existing pilot project with Emerging Impact and the Celo Foundation.

Keebo, the challenger credit card, has announced a beta launch with Mastercard. It will let people download the app and apply for the new credit card. Keebo launched to offer a credit card and mobile app that empowers users to build their credit, while also developing financial stability and personal growth.

Smith and Williamson announces partnership with Innovate Finance. The collaboration provides its members with professional and financial services insights. Innovate Finance is the independent industry body that represents and advances the global fintech community in the UK.

Chargebee is partnering with Mollie to help drive growth for customers. Chargebee’s integration with Mollie provides an advanced subscriptions solution to businesses of all sizes. It supports more than 500 recurring-billing use cases and offers automated invoicing with accurate taxes, smart dunning, and quick onboarding.

Funding and investments

Growth Capital Ventures has led a £150,000 seed investment round into, an audience engagement platform that powers content driven mobile-web experiences. The funds will be used to drive the development of the technology forward while supporting’s market entry strategy.

Ripple announces $200million share buyback. The company has repurchased all Series C shares originally issued to Tetragon Financial Group, SBI Holdings and Route 66 Ventures in December 2019. The blockchain payments firm says the decision is because ‘business is booming’.

Scribe Security, a provider of a SaaS platform for securing software across various supply chains, has bagged more than $7million. The seed round was led by Elron Ventures as well as Tal Ventures and YYM Ventures. Scribe lets organisations develop, distribute and maintain code produced within the company.

Payfactory, a fintech payment facilitator for software platforms, has announced a growth investment from P2PE encryption payments firm Bluefin. Bluefin’s investment will facilitate Payfactory’s domestic and international market expansion and leverage the strategic partnership between the two companies.

Meanwhile, Tuum (nee Modularbank) has enjoyed a €15million Series A funding round. Investors include Portage Ventures, as well as existing investors Karma Ventures and Blackfin Tech. It will use the funding to strengthen its UK and EU presence, invest in product innovation as well as prepare for expansion beyond Europe.

Company updates

Ownera, the firm leading the deployment of the FinP2P open-source protocol for digital securities has joined the Global Digital Finance (GDF) Patron Board. The FinP2P protocol orchestrates the real-time custody, payment and settlement of any digital security across diverse blockchain and ledger networks. GDF is an industry membership body that promotes the adoption of best practices for cryptoassets and digital finance technologies.

Ebury to expand in Latin America after opening Brazil office. Ebury has enjoyed huge demand for its services in Latin America which simplify trade and international payments for SMEs. The fintech now plans to expand its product range and further develop its platform for the Latin America market. It follows the investment of Banco Santander in 2019.

Brazil skyline

Meanwhile, payments platform Paysafe has expanded into the regulated New York sports-betting market steered by Zak Cutler, the firm’s new CEO of North America iGaming. The move builds on the company’s growth across the US and Canada, where its established presence benefited from federal sports-betting regulation.

Urway, a Saudi Arabia-based fintech, has obtained the Electronic Merchant Service Provider – Payment Technical Service Provider certificate granted by Saudi Payments. It becomes the first fintech to be certified after issuing the new regulations and rules of the payment sector in the kingdom.

TrueLayer adds Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Portugal for open banking data and payments. The open banking platform has also increased connectivity in existing markets including the Netherlands and Spain.

Bloomberg has unveiled the 418 companies on its 2022 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI). The GEI helps bring transparency to gender-related practices and policies at publicly-listed companies. Santander says it is the world’s first bank in the Index, while Temenos is also named in the report.

Mergers and acquisitions

IT company Softline has agreed to acquire a majority stake in the Central and Eastern European fintech SoftClub. Softline says the transaction is part of its journey to ‘grow the share of services in its turnover, to have more than 5,000 software engineers at Softline available to its customers, and to receive more than half of its gross profit from services’.

Online car seller Cazoo buys Italian car retailer brumbrum for €80million. Cazoo has sold more than 50,000 cars online since its launch just over two years ago. brumbrum’s CEO said the deal will drive the digital transformation of the car buying, selling and subscription experience across Italy and the rest of Europe.

SAP SE is to acquire a majority stake of Taulia, a provider of working capital management solutions. The move is aimed at giving companies better access to liquidity and improving their cash flows. Taulia will operate as an independent company with its own brand in the SAP Group. Meanwhile, Cédric Bru will remain CEO of Taulia and SAP CFO Luka Mucic will become chairman of the board.

Cornerstone FS plc, the cloud-based payment provider to SMEs, announces the acquisition of Capital Currencies Limited, the foreign exchange broker, for a consideration of up to £3 million. This reflects delivery on Cornerstone’s stated strategy of growing via acquisition and organically.

Job moves

Saudi-based fintech savings app Hakbah names Dimitar Kazakov as chief technology officer and co-founder. Meanwhile, Marcin Szynal joins as vice president of engineering. Hakbah offers its solution under a Fintech Sandbox permit from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).

Coalition, the digital insurance and security company, has appointed Chung-Man Tam as its first chief product officer. His appointment follows a successful 2021 for Coalition, including a $205million funding round at a $3.5billion valuation and the acquisition of technology-powered broker platform Attune.

Axle, the all-in-one financial platform for modern freight brokers, has added Jamie Waldinger as vice president of revenue, while Heather Beckstead is named head of people. Last year, Axle raised its Series A, grew revenue and headcount almost five times. It also expanded its product offering beyond the initial payments solution.

Tom Pope

Tom PopeMeanwhile, Alice Katwan joins the board of Sift while April Oman is named chief customer officer. They join the company following Sift’s acquisition of Keyless in November 2021. Katwan currently serves as the senior VP & general manager of sales at Twilio. While Oman most recently served as the senior VP of customer engagement at D2L.

Tink, the open banking platform, has appointed Tom Pope to lead its UK office. After joining Tink in June 2021 as head of payments and platforms, Pope will now lead both the London office and its global payments business. Tink has also promoted Tasha Chouhan from head of business development for banking services to UK & IE banking lead.

Finally, Riskalyze appoints Dr. Shari Hensrud as vice president of risk and analytics. Dr Hensrud will develop advanced risk functionality at the risk-centric wealth management platform. She previously served as head of product management for wealth at Refinitiv.

Other industry news

FinTech Awards London, designed to recognise the fintech professionals and companies making a difference in London, will take place on 13 July 2022 at The Underglobe. Companies interested in taking part as well as exploring sponsorship opportunities, can visit

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

Tempcover: Staying Safe in an Age of Rapidly Advancing Fintech

Although innovation in fintech is an exciting time, not everything that’s shiny should be seen as safe, and breakthroughs should be regarded with as much cybersecurity speculation as their predecessors. 

Marc Pell, CTO of TempcoverMarc Pell, CTO of Tempcover
Marc Pell

In light of this, here Marc Pell, CTO of Tempcover, discusses how steps forward by the industry still leave room for cybersecurity concerns to remain. Pell highlights the prevalence of these concerns, and how consumers might seek to better protect themselves.

Financial products and services are more readily available and easily accessible than ever before with the rapid advancement of fintech innovation. This undoubtedly benefits consumers with more personalised products, available within a faster turnaround time, and at a more competitive price. But there are always two sides to every coin, and when innovative new technology is created to benefit the end-user, it can also be used to exploit them.

Looking at the world of insurance, InsurTech has made great strides in making policies more flexible to suit the needs of the customer. Take temporary car insurance for example, where customers can take out comprehensive policies lasting anywhere from one hour to 28 days – with full cover available within 90 seconds following a few clicks online. But as the demand for hassle-free insurance policies rises among consumers, it presents an opportunity for fraudsters to take advantage.

‘Ghost Broking’ is a growing scam that involves fraudsters posing as brokers who target young and new drivers on social media platforms to entice them with bogus deals that are too good to be true. In fact, the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) received over 21,000 reports of fraudulent motor insurance policies in the past 12 months which could be linked to ghost broking.

According to the IFB, its percentage of investigations into ghost broking have doubled in recent years, warning that tens of thousands of motorists could unwittingly be driving with fraudulent cover and will face serious consequences if caught by the police.

The best form of defence against being exploited is education and a healthy attitude of doubt. Users should be checking provenance in the form of publicly available information such as user reviews, FCA registration status and performing a good old-fashioned Google search to look for any news articles that might inform as to the company’s prior misdeeds.

As an industry, we can only eliminate the scourge of predatory fraudsters by working together to educate potential customers on the perils of unrealistically cheap policies through clear product guides, a transparent quote and buy process, and easily-digestible policy terms and conditions.

The growing threat of cybercrime

According to the UK National Cyber Security Centre’s Annual Review, it handled an unprecedented 777 incidents in the last year – a rise from 723 in 2020. It also received 5.4 million reports of malicious content to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service over the last 12 months – leading to the removal of more than 53,000 scams and 96,500 URLs.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to UK business tech leaders – almost two thirds (66 per cent) expect the threat from cyber criminals to increase over the next 12 months, a PwC report has shown. Another 64 per cent expect a jump in attacks on their cloud services over the next year, while a similar number (63 per cent) are increasing their cyber security budgets over the coming year.

The report went on to add that there is also now the added threat of ‘ransomware as a service’ in which ransomware developers lease out their malware in exchange for a share of the criminal profits. With that in mind, there is little wonder that fintech businesses, in particular, are investing more time and resources into building security in a more convenient, UX-friendly manner.

A common method of securing fintech apps is to build mobile-friendly authentication into the process by utilising techniques such as SMS authentication codes and biometrics. Facial recognition is a prime example of a security feature that is used equally as a security and convenience play, thus incentivising security in users. In the InsurTech sector, we have witnessed first-hand the benefit such techniques can have, not only on keeping user accounts secure but also on the speed and completion rate of registration and authentication of app use.

Empowered consumers will identify the best fintech solutions for their personal needs

It goes without saying that the onus lies with fintech businesses to ensure that the highest levels of security are maintained across all of their products and user journeys. But a certain element of responsibility also lies with consumers, who must ensure that they protect their personal information by doing due diligence when looking for a new fintech product or service.

Personal security is an ever-moving target in a world of rapid-paced progression of technology, and the use of fintech is no exception. In terms of red flags to look out for, the answer is not always a simple one. Beyond the obvious research, there are common-sense processes to look out for and avoid. Having your password repeated back to you in plain text in customer communications or leakage of data without what feels like a sensible security check during customer service interactions are both examples of obvious warning signs that security is not at the heart of the firm.

Ultimately, we all form a perspective on how much we trust companies with our data, finances, and insurance cover. Users should take a moment to ask themselves whether they have rushed into a registration process on the promise of a shiny new app or an introductory offer, ensuring they have built an acceptable level of trust in their decision-making process.

In a fintech world where choice is commonplace, taking this moment to form an opinion on which fintech’s security is sufficient could be the difference between accessing your new, fit-for-purpose financial account and being burnt.

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

Santander to Launch New AI-Powered Buy Now Pay Later Service

Santander is to launch a new buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform called Zinia, which supports artificial intelligence-based credit assessment technology.

Zinia’s BNPL service facilitates the opportunity for customers to pay for goods and services via interest-free instalments, either whilst shopping online or through physical points of sale. For partner merchants, Zinia allows them to offer customers a contemporary and secure payment option, improving the customer experience, increasing sales and business retention as a result.

The platform uses artificial intelligence-based credit assessment technology developed by Openbank to process real-time credit decisions with the standards expected from a regulated bank. That, combined with Santander Consumer Finance’s (SCF) scale, and long-standing relationships with merchants makes Zinia a unique offering.

SCF is a consumer finance bank with a presence in 16 European countries, USA and Canada offering products and services to more than 19 million customers and 130,000 points of sale.

The platform has been operating within the German market for the past year, acquiring more than two million customers in the process. This strong debut has catapulted Santander into being one of the leading players within Europe’s BNPL space by way of customer volumes.

The bank now plans to roll out the service across its other markets under the Zinia brand, starting first in the Netherlands, leveraging Santander’s existing position in Consumer finance, where it already supports 19 million customers through 63,000 affiliated merchants.

CEO of Openbank and Santander Consumer Finance, Ezequiel SzafirCEO of Openbank and Santander Consumer Finance, Ezequiel Szafir
Ezequiel Szafir

According to the CEO of Openbank and Santander Consumer Finance, Ezequiel Szafir: “We’re launching a new platform that offers consumers a convenient and flexible payment option with the security and trust provided by a large financial group like Santander. We are delighted with Zinia’s early expansion and aim to become a leader in the buy now, pay later market.”

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

NordVPN Finds The Average Price of Stolen British Payment Card on Dark Web is £11

A new study by cybersecurity company NordVPN has analyzed information from 135K British payment cards sold on the dark web. According to this research, the average price of a British payment card is 11 pounds and 6 cents.

“British payment cards are pretty expensive (compared to the £9.7 world average) despite the country’s user-friendly payment card fraud-prevention policies. If a lost or stolen payment card is used in an illegal manner, the liability falls onto the bank. That is why many British banks have extra security measures in place to protect their customers. So even if the UK remains a potential target because of its high credit card penetration, the payment card fraud losses in the country are decreasing every year,” Marijus Briedis, CTO at NordVPN, said.

The prices of the discovered British payment cards varied from 1 to 20 pounds. Even though the vast majority (54,371) of payment cards cost £16, the average price of all the found cards was £11.06.

The most expensive cards could be found in Japan (average price £30), while the cheapest cards on the dark web belonged to Honduras (average price less than £1).

“Prices of cards depend mostly on demand. The greater the demand, the more money criminals can charge for certain data they try to sell. In this case, the demand directly correlates with how easy it is to steal money from a card and how much money could be stolen. That is why the most expensive cards come from countries with a higher quality of life or poorer bank security measures,” said Briedis.

134,607 payment cards found hacked belonged to Brits. It was the second most affected European country after France (154,016 cards hacked). Knowing that the United Kingdom has the 9th highest credit card penetration in the world, 135K is not an unexpected number. The UK still remains a popular target for criminals because of its big population and high quality of life However, the losses that Brits experience are falling every year because banks feel the pressure to take extra precautions to keep their clients safe.

Is it possible to prevent payment card fraud from happening?

“The most common way those payment cards end up for sale is brute-forcing. That means that criminals basically try to guess the card number and CVV. The first 6-8 numbers are the card issuer’s ID number. That leaves hackers with 7-9 numbers to guess, as the 16th digit is a checksum and is used only to determine whether any mistakes were made when entering the number,” Briedis explains.

To protect themselves, users are recommended to stay vigilant and review their monthly statements regularly to make sure no suspicious transactions have occurred. It is also important to choose a bank according to the security measures it has implemented.

“The British example shows that proper security measures in banks can help users to be safer. Banks can use tools like fraud detection to track payment attempts to weed out fraudulent attacks. Stronger password systems are also a huge step towards preventing card fraud, but fortunately, multi-factor authentication is becoming the minimum standard. So if your bank doesn’t offer it already, demand it or consider switching banks,” Briedis concludes.

  • 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.

Growth of Digital-Only Banking Customers Stalls for the First Time in Four Years

The number of people with a digital-only bank account has stalled for the first time in four years; new research from Finder shows.

In 2022, 27 per cent of the UK population, around 13.9 million people, say that they currently have an account with a digital-only bank; a figure that has remained unchanged from the previous year. This is the first time during four years of tracking digital banking adoption in the UK that Finder’s poll has shown the figure flatlining.

But the comparison site reports how growth appears to have been slowing for a while, with the number of digital-only banking users rising from nine per cent in 2019 to 23 per cent in 2020 before a more modest rise last year, when it rose to 27 per cent.

The reasons behind traditional banks’ fightback

During a survey of 2000 UK adults, 31 per cent of respondents stated how they have no intention of opening a digital-only bank account in the future. The reasoning for this change was elaborated upon throughout their responses.

The top factor was that 55 per cent of respondents feel like they have always been treated well by their current bank. On a similar note, 16 per cent said their traditional bank had been helpful throughout the course of the pandemic.

As the turbulence of the pandemic slowly begins to settle, the data suggests how 35 per cent of customers prefer having the option of face-to-face communication with their bank; an area in which challenger banks severely lag behind.

What’s more, 25 per cent of respondents reported feeling a lack of trust towards challenger banks, a feeling that has prevented them from switching to their services.

It appears that the retention of traditional banking customers has been saved by the incumbents’ reputation for trust, transparency and superior communication.

Is there any hope for the future of digital-only banks?

According to the research, despite the slowdown in new recruits, digital-only banks can still look forward to welcoming 18 per cent of the population over the next five years. This includes 10 per cent of UK citizens who are forecast to open an account sometime within the next 12 months.

If these predictions came to fruition, 23.2 million people would have a digital-only bank account by 2027, equalling 44 per cent of the total population.

For the fourth year running, the top reason behind the shift to digital-only banking was the convenience of the service, a reason that was cited by 27 per cent of respondents. Linked to this, 24 per cent who sought to establish a new account thought that turning to a digital-only bank was the easiest option.

In light of convenience, 21 per cent stated how they wanted to be able to transfer money more easily, whilst 18 per cent regarded the apps associated with digital-only banks as superior to any other service.

On the other side of the coin to their incumbent counterparts, a lack of trust isn’t just a factor for those who prefer to utilise more traditional services, as 11 per cent of customers, or potential customers, of digital-only banks stated how they don’t trust the services of traditional alternatives.

Young generations continue to be the biggest market for digital-only banks

Digital banks are still most popular with younger generations, with 41 per cent of Gen Z respondents stating that they have a digital bank account, with a further 34 per cent intending to get one within the next five years. This would mean that by 2027, 75 per cent of Gen Z could have a digital bank account.

The silent generation (born between 1928 and 1948) remains the generation that is the least welcoming of digital-only banks, as a mere seven per cent reported utilising their services.

Michelle Stevens, Finder's banking specialistMichelle Stevens, Finder's banking specialist
Michelle Stevens

Commenting on the findings, Michelle Stevens, Finder’s banking specialist said: “This is the first year that our research hasn’t seen growth in the number of people using digital-only banks and it’s clear that traditional banks are adapting to an increasingly digital landscape. This seems to have played a significant role in the dropoff of new customers for digital-only banks as their first-mover advantage in the app space gets diminished.

“Traditional banks such as Halifax have also seen net gains after improving their digital products and offering switching incentives – including to existing customers – something that digital-only banks haven’t done yet. Halifax has just won Finder’s Banking Customer Satisfaction Awards for 2022, with some customers in our survey praising its app.

“It isn’t all about digital though as there’s also a significant number of Brits who value having a physical branch to visit and trust traditional banks more. While the digital-only banks may not be able to compete with having a presence on the ground, they will be concerned at the lack of trust some customers appear to have in them.”

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

MAS To Introduce Stringent New Measures to Curb the Rise of Internet Banking Fraud

In light of the recent spate of SMS-phishing scams targeting bank customers, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) are set to introduce additional measures to bolster the security of digital banking.

MAS expects all financial institutions to have in place robust measures to prevent and detect scams as well as effective incident handling and customer service in the event of a scam. The growing threat of online phishing scams calls for immediate steps to strengthen controls, while longer-term preventive measures are being evaluated for implementation in the coming months.

Banks in Singapore, in consultation with MAS, will work to put in place more stringent measures within the next two weeks, including:

  1. The removal of clickable links in emails or text messages sent to retail customers;
  2. The threshold for funds transfers transaction notifications to customers to be set by default at $100 or lower;
  3. Delay of at least 12 hours before activation of a new soft token on a mobile device;
  4. Notifying a customer through an existing mobile number or email address whenever a request to change a customer’s details is put forward;
  5. Additional safeguards, such as a cooling-off period before implementation of requests for key account changes such as in a customer’s key contact details;
  6. Dedicated and well-resourced customer assistance teams to deal with feedback on potential fraud cases on a priority basis;
  7. More frequent scam education alerts.

These measures being imposed by MAS are aimed at lengthening the time taken to process certain online banking transactions that may be possibly fraudulent but will provide an additional layer of security to protect customers’ funds in return.

At a time when cyberattacks are being more prevalent and more sophisticated, a good level of customer vigilance remains of paramount importance. And as quick as scammers are to target unsuspecting consumers with new techniques, banks must aim to be quicker.

MAS has put forward some advice for customers who wish to avoid falling for online banking scams, including:

  1. Never click on links provided in SMS or emails;
  2. Never divulge internet banking credentials or passwords to anyone;
  3. Verify the origin of all contact received from a bank by calling contacting them directly on its official hotline;
  4. Verify the bank’s official website before making any transactions, or transact exclusively through the bank’s official mobile application;
  5. Closely monitor transaction notifications so that any unauthorised payments are reported as soon as possible. This will increase the chances of recovery.

Banks in Singapore are due to continue their close work with MAS, the Singapore Police Force, and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to tackle the rise of more sophisticated scams. This is set to include the development of more permanent solutions to combat SMS spoofing, including the adoption of the SMS Sender ID registry by all relevant stakeholders. MAS is also reportedly intensifying its scrutiny of major financial institutions’ fraud surveillance mechanisms in a bid to ensure that they’re adequately equipped to deal with the growing threat of online scams.

Wee Ee Cheong, Chairman of ABSWee Ee Cheong, Chairman of ABS
Wee Ee Cheong

“As an industry, we have always focused on the need to ensure robust security measures while meeting customers’ expectations for convenient and swift services,” comments Wee Ee Cheong, Chairman of ABS. “Together with the MAS and ecosystem players, the banking industry will continue to strengthen consumer protection measures. We also ask that the public stay vigilant given that scams continue to evolve and are executed quickly. We remain committed to upholding the confidence with which customers can transact online safely, while still maintaining a high level of service.”

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MASRavi Menon, Managing Director of MAS
Ravi Menon

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS, added to this with: “MAS is deeply concerned about the recent spate of scams and the financial losses suffered by victims. The threat of scams will not go away, but we can reduce our vulnerabilities. This requires a multi-pronged response across the ecosystem. MAS, together with the Police, IMDA and other relevant government agencies, is working closely with the financial industry, the telco industry, consumer groups, and other stakeholders to strengthen our collective resilience against scam attacks. We will ensure that digital banking remains secure, efficient, and trusted.”

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

Johnny Depp Launches NFT Collection… and ‘Crashes Discord’

Actor Johnny Depp has launched an NFT collection – called Never Fear Truth – on the Ethereum blockchain featuring portraits of his friends, heroes and family. Twenty-five per cent of the sales will be donated to charities. 

Depp, who portrayed Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean films, is distributing 11,111 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with 10,000 available for purchase. The remaining 1,111 will be distributed ‘at his discretion’ to ‘those fans who have supported him most’ as well as his team.

According to the Never Fear Truth website, the actor created the project to share his art as well as establish a creative community of fans and friends through ownership on the Ethereum blockchain.

Elizabeth Taylor, Tim Burton, Heath Ledger and Hunter S. Thompson are among those whose portraits have been turned into animated artwork by Depp and ‘energised with his characteristic freehand flourishes’.

Within minutes of launching the collection, Depp’s Never Fear Truth Discord server appeared to crash due to high demand with his official Twitter account for the Collection stating: ‘we knew you would love The Truth, but we didn’t think it would crash the whole of Discord..!!’ with 10,000 members joining within hours. Meanwhile, Discord has reported a ‘widespread API outage’.

The community on Discord has been billed as an ‘intimate environment for Johnny to express his creativity through; and provide access to unique works, experiences and future projects in art, music and film’.

The Never Fear Truth NFTs will be distributed via a raffle conducted up to a maximum of three times before any NFTs not redeemed will be deployed into public sale. All artworks will be generated randomly and revealed after the final sale.

Twenty-five percent of all proceeds from the sales will be donated to charities, including the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation.

CUBE: London Can Lead the Way in Financial Regulation by Creating a Global Standard

Financial regulation is needed within every area of the market. However, these regulations change based on the geographical location you’re in. This makes international deals and trading complicated as regulations can massively vary, but what if there was a global standard?

Ben Richmond, CEO of CUBE, aims to tackle this, explaining that the UK has all the means and capabilities to set a global standard when it comes to compliance.  

Ben Richmond, CEO and Founder of regulatory intelligence provider CUBE.Ben Richmond, CEO and Founder of regulatory intelligence provider CUBE.
Ben Richmond, CEO and Founder of regulatory intelligence provider CUBE.

Worth hundreds of billions of pounds, the financial services sector is estimated to account for up to 25 per cent of the global economy. The fact that there is no one set of rules that govern the industry is a serious concern, and the costs are high.

Generally, somewhere between 10 and 15 per cent of a financial institution’s operating costs are wrapped up in regulatory compliance. Big banks are slapped with expensive fines on a monthly, sometimes even weekly basis. Tens of billions of pounds – in addition to countless working hours – are lost to paying these penalties; a cost that could be avoided if the right checks and measures were in place.

However, there is an opportunity for the UK to lead in bringing together the regtech industry, by proposing a set of clear, global standards for financial compliance.

Drowning in regulation

At present, the system is complex and disconnected. Last year, more than 300 million pages of financial services regulation were produced, and disseminated via a confusing mix of different methods and media. It may have been created at national, state, or even municipal level, for example, and the information distributed via emails, website announcements, newsletter subscriptions, or through the issuing of physical documents.

Because there’s no global standard on how regulation is produced and shared, its volume and availability is impossibly immense. To expect a financial services institution that operates in multiple jurisdictions to keep up and comply with all the change is, frankly, unrealistic.

The financial services landscape has changed too. It started with the financial crisis and spurred on by covid-19. Financial services operate online more than ever before, however the regulatory framework remains almost untouched. Yes, the regulations now exist in a digital format, but as financial services transcend borders and jurisdictions, financial regulation remains constrained by geographic boundaries.

This is especially true of the current emerging trends for finance. Banks and regulators are currently racing against the clock to manage emerging risks posed by sustainability, cryptocurrencies and cybersecurity in particular. Regulators are attempting to develop new regulations and set parameters. The irony of it all, however, is that while climate-change related risks, cryptocurrency and cyber all transcend borders, they will inevitably be brought into the same, nationalistic regulatory system.

The only means of managing these emerging risks on a global scale is coordinated, regulatory standards across the regulatory landscape, with unity around how regulations are produced, consumed, and applied across the financial services industry.

Global standards are a way off. But, fortunately, an opportunity exists for significant simplification of the way in which regulatory information is produced and consumed.

Standardisation and automation 

The solution lies in an open, standards-based approach. One that’s driven by technology and data rather than by policy or law-making.

Automating this approach is also essential. Manually sifting through thousands of documents to determine what’s relevant for compliance is not only laborious, time-consuming, and an error-prone task but, regulations can change in an instant. Even after implementing a particular process, firms can quickly find they’re back at square one.

So, in addition to using standardised data models, schemas, and data interoperability to simplify the complexity; it’s important to introduce automation by starting to use machines rather than people, as we’ve done to date. Open and interoperable, this system should be available to the whole industry, enabling simplicity through standardisation.

This should begin with the creation of a market standard, to which a few big banks and regulators would opt in. From here a common model can be built with which every player in the industry can work. Then, as it grows, the approach will use technology to create consistent data models and data exchange formats to drive the adoption of a standards-based approach around the world.

Working together

Collaboration between financial institutions and regtechs is key. After all, every institution faces the same challenges when it comes to regulation – spending time and money on what is typically a duplication of work, while consistently inconsistent results. Rather than going it alone, it makes sense for these companies to work together – taking a collaborative approach toward understanding and navigating the complex work of financial regulation.

This is where the opportunity lies. The UK’s regtech industry is leading the world, and the country would well and truly lay down its marker down as the world’s regtech capital if it were to pool its intellectual capital, and propose the world’s first global financial standard. And, what is more, it would constitute an important step towards a more financially compliant and safer financial system.

Mastercard Pledges to Improve Gender Balance and Diversity in UAE with UAE Gender Balance Council

To improve gender balance and diversity in the UAE, Mastercard has signed an official pledge stating its intentions to make improvements in the region. The payments technology company is one of several private sector companies supporting the initiative, spearheaded by the UAE Gender Balance Council.

The signing ceremony took place in Dubai and was attended by UAE government leaders, as well as private sector business leaders, who agreed to collectively pursue ambitious targets to increase women’s representation in senior and middle management roles before 2025. As an enabler of Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality), this initiative is a partnership that will have a lasting impact on the public and private sectors in the UAE.

“An equal world is a more inclusive world, and Mastercard remains wholeheartedly committed to support the journey to gender balance with all our resources, technology, and the power of our network. Over the past decade, we have delivered on this commitment through various initiatives, and are proud of the public-private partnerships that enable us to accelerate this goal. No economy can ever truly reach its full potential for prosperity unless it activates the contributions of all its citizens, and while great progress has been made – it’s imperative that we continue our focus on achieving gender equity,” said Carys Richards, Senior Vice President, Human Resources EEMEA, Mastercard.

Gender equality is a key pillar of Mastercard’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives, which it considers central to its success and organisational DNA. Globally, the company has already tied executive compensation to strategic ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) goals and priorities, including gender pay parity – as well as carbon neutrality and financial inclusion.

On a global stage, the organisation is leading the 30% Club and Financial Alliance for Women, and partnering to advance gender equality with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and USAID. Internally, Mastercard has grown an extensive women’s leadership network locally and globally and unified its parental leave. In 2021 Mastercard was listed among DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity and 2021 Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index.

Leading the efforts to attain gender balance in the technology sector and innovation industries, Mastercard also launched its Girls4Tech initiative in 2014. This award-winning program aims to give girls exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects, and therefore encourage young women to pursue studies in these fields, which ultimately builds a strong pipeline of women contributing their skills and perspectives. The program has reached almost two million girls in 45 countries, and in the UAE, a milestone of 2,020 girls in honour of Mastercard’s partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai, has been achieved.

In 2020, Mastercard pledged to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs globally by 2025, to the technology, training, digital tools, insights and solutions that will enable them to grow their businesses. This is in support of the company’s goal of building a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy.

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

Planetly: What is ESG Reporting and Why is it Vital for Businesses

The demand for transparency on sustainable and socially responsible practices is on the rise. From regulatory obligations or accountability towards different stakeholders, to even attracting new talent, ESG reporting remains to be a key focus for companies in the coming years.

Someone who knows all about this is Anna Alex, the founder and Chief Customer Officer (CCO) of Planetly. Planetly is a climate tech company that develops digital tools that help companies calculate, reduce and offset their CO2 emissions. Planetly’s declared goal is to make the business world “planet-positive”, i.e. climate-neutral. 

Anna AlexAnna Alex
Anna Alex, founder and Chief Customer Officer (CCO) of Planetly.

When we talk about investments, there is one thing that is greatly beneficial for your business. Something that is an investment not just in environmental sustainability, but also in the long-term viability of businesses. It is paying attention to your own ESG KPIs. And start reporting and acting on them.

The abbreviation ESG stands for environment, social and governance. The key pillars are evolving around climate change and carbon emissions, pollution and waste or biodiversity (environment), customer satisfaction, human rights, health and safety or community relations (social) and board diversity, business ethics, tax transparency, corruption and, for example, instability (governance). 

ESG reports disclose data and explain the impact and added value of a company in these areas, containing summaries of quantitative and qualitative information. The performance analysis provides stakeholders and investors with an insight into the goals, achievements and the impact of your business.

As I like to say, impact is an equation of purpose and scale. And following this equation, ESG reporting is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. More and more investors want their investments to have an environmental or social impact. In that sense, the ESG approach to business is vital.

According to a recent survey by the CFA Institute, 85% of investment managers across countries are increasingly incorporating ESG criteria into investment decisions. The volume of ESG-linked loans to companies in Europe has more than quadrupled from €27 billion in 2017 to €102 billion in 2019. That being said, the increased global interest in environmental and social topics, means the importance of ESG reporting has also risen and has become an indispensable part for businesses. 

Even though ESG reporting is not yet mandatory in all countries, an increasing number of companies disclose this information voluntarily since they’ve recognised the importance of communicating their business strategy and the impact their business has on our planet. In fact, from July 2020 about 90% of the companies in the S&P 500 have already created annual ESG reports and made it a standard. Acting even if the regulations are lagging behind gives you as a business a huge benefit for your customer brand, your employer brand and the efficiency of your internal processes and supply chain management. 

 And it’s only a matter of time until regulations are catching up. . From 2023 onwards, more companies will actually be obliged to publish sustainability information. In April 2021, the EU Commission presented a new proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which would be an EU sustainability reporting standard improving the existing requirements of the current Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD). Under this new directive, up to 50 000 large public-interest European companies, as well as all listed companies on EU regulated markets, will be required to report on ESG related factors. 

Illustrating the potential of ESG reporting, we can look at its importance in several directions. Investors and other stakeholders want better ESG disclosures to help them understand more about how a company performs, makes decisions and creates value and impact. A lack of transparency might lead to investors not actually considering you for investments. 

On the other hand, consumers also want to understand the impact their choices are having on the world. They are also willing to pay more for sustainable products. A survey from First Insight shows that customers, namely up to 62% of Gen Z would prefer to buy from a sustainable brand, and 73% of them would be willing to spend up to 10% more for sustainable products. 

And employees want to understand whether their company is driving more sustainable communities, greater equality, or better working conditionsSince there is a war for talent going on, especially tech talent, reporting on ESG issues can also make you more attractive as a brand and as an employer. The above mentioned survey also showed that 76% of millennials stated the sustainability agenda of an employer to be an essential factor.

At present, organisations are still quite flexible regarding the disclosure of ESG information which means that they might highlight or downplay different aspects. During the past years, a variety of ESG reporting guidelines have been developed, but all of them have different requirements, and are therefore difficult to compare. Thus, the calls for a unified standard are getting increasingly louder. 

In Europe, one of the most commonly used reporting standards stems from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), representing the global best practices regarding the disclosure of sustainability information. The new proposal for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) by the European Commission, under which more companies will be required to report on ESG-related topics, will also be of high relevance to ESG reporting. 

As part of the EU action plan on Sustainable Finance, SFDR (Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation) Level 2 will apply to all Financial Market Participants from January 2023 onwards. The main goal of this regulation is to promote transparency, liability and comparability in the world of sustainable investments. To do so, the regulation proposes a classification of financial products based on their degree of sustainability. Products that are categorised as sustainable will have to comply and face disclosure obligations in order to prevent greenwashing overall. 

Therefore, sustainable products and their entities will have to be transparent on their performance in regards to ESG, collect and aggregate the so-called quantitative PAI (Principal Adverse Impact) indicators from their assets. Investors will then be able to compare products not only from a financial perspective but also from a sustainable perspective.  

Knowing all of this, the next step is to implement ESG reporting in your business. And here are a few guidelines. Firstly, decide on the short-term and long-term goals of your sustainability strategy, make sure to inform all departments and constantly review this strategy over time. Then, get an overview of all ESG-related information that is available across different departments and stakeholders and decide which ones are most relevant for you. This is the so-called materiality assessment. Technology and software, like Planetly’s Climate Impact Manager and ESG Suite, can already simplify the data collection process immensely today and give you guidance in the jungle of reporting requirements. Then, decide on the reporting framework you want to use and ensure reliability and transparency in your reporting – that is the key. Lastly, communicate how your ESG report aligns with your business strategy, both to the public and the stakeholders.  

You cannot manage what you cannot measure. That is why ESG reporting is one of the crucial factors in the fight against climate change, the one that we are all fighting. Sustainability should be the new normal.