W.UP Launches Money Stories to Win Consumers’ Divided Attention

https://finovate.com/w-up-launches-money-stories-to-win-consumers-divided-attention/

Customer-focused banking tools provider W.UP revealed its latest development today. The Hungary-based company is launching Money Stories.

The new embeddable tool enables banks to offer their customers bite-sized snapshots of their financial lives. These easily consumable bits of content combine data analytics with digital storytelling to make it even easier for banks to help users to understand their financial standing in a fast-paced way.

The new tool takes the concept from millennial-friendly mobile apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Each of these social media platforms are notorious for enabling users to quickly publish and view life updates and ideas, share new songs, and even exchange gossip. The micro-content requires little attention from viewers, who are easily distracted and prone to multi-tasking.

Similarly, Money Stories leverages transactional and behavioral analytics to show users daily highlights, weekly and monthly forecasts, and yearly summaries. Overall, these updates take the form of unusually large transactions, double charges, sharp balance drops, recurring transitions, top spending categories, changes in spending or credit card usage, and more. In addition to showing users their historical data, Money Stories can also help users plan for the future by showing options to pay off credit card debt, avoid overdrafts, and more.

All of the graphics appear on a single screen for seven-to-ten seconds, so the user does not need to scroll or set aside much time in their day to understand the analyses.

W.UP is keeping the integration easy for banks. “When all is said and done, the only decision for banks to make remains what product and service offers to slide into the story stream to boost targeting accuracy, conversion, and customer satisfaction levels,” said W.UP Head of Product Gellért Vinnai.

Founded in 2014, W.UP takes PFM to a personalized level by leveraging AI and real-time data. These product offerings have obviously struck a chord in the banking crowd; the company has won Best of Show awards at FinovateEurope 2018, 2019, and most recently for its demo in 2020.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

https://finovate.com/w-up-launches-money-stories-to-win-consumers-divided-attention/

Lili Locks in $55 Million to Bring Banking to Gig Economy Workers

https://finovate.com/lili-locks-in-55-million-to-bring-banking-to-gig-economy-workers/

In a round led by Group 11, banking app Lili has secured $55 million in Series B funding. The capital will help the New York-based fintech grow its product range over the next few months. This will include the addition of new features for invoice and payment management and a new loans product.

“We’ve created the tools you need to spend more time building your venture and less time on things that historically your employer would handle: sorting expenses, managing financials, and filing taxes,” Lili CEO and co-founder Lilac Bar David explained.

The Series B took the two-year old company’s total capital to $80 million. Also participating in the investment were Target Global and AltaIR.

Having doubled its account base over the past six months and currently boasting 200,000 users, Lili offers real-time expense management, tax preparation, and no-fee accounts designed for freelancers and gig economy workers. Lili also provides direct deposit and a Visa business debit card with free ATM withdrawals at more than 32,000 locations.

Named to the Forbes Next 1000 list for 2021, Bar David co-founded Lili having spent three years as CEO of Israeli challenger bank, Pepper. Along with current Lili CTO and co-founder Liran Zelkha, Bar David’s goal was to build a solution for workers in the freelance economy that combined banking and business management services into a single platform. She estimated that Lili has saved its users 60 hours on administrative tasks and $1,700 a year in fees, costs, and tax savings.

The 60 million freelancers in the U.S. – more than a third of the workforce – often struggle to secure timely payment for services rendered, accurately meet tax obligations, and manage their overall financial work/life balance. With the expectation that this relatively young cohort will only grow in size over time, investors like Group 11 see Lili as well-positioned to take advantage of this evolution in the “future of work.”

“Lilac and Liran’s forward-looking vision is changing how modern workers manage their finances, while saving them valuable time and money,” Group 11 founding partner Dovi Frances said during the company’s seed funding round announcement just under a year ago. “Lili is redefining banking for freelancers and we’re thrilled to be partnering with the team.”


Photo by Pietro Jeng from Pexels

https://finovate.com/lili-locks-in-55-million-to-bring-banking-to-gig-economy-workers/

US Organisations Hit by Ransomware Forced To Pay 171% Increased Ransom in 2020

https://thefintechtimes.com/us-organisations-hit-by-ransomware-forced-to-pay-171-increased-ransom-in-2020/

Data presented by the Atlas VPN team shows that 45% of organisations hit by ransomware in 2020 are based in the US. Enterprises all over the world are being kept hostage by ransomware, and many are being forced to pay criminals because the expense of downtime and loss of reputation if the consumer data goes public outweighs the ransom.

Researchers from Palo Alto Networks analysed data that was gathered by two of their branches — global threat intelligence team (Unit 42) and incident response team (The Crypsis Group).

The data was collected from publicly available websites as well as those on the dark web. The dataset included 337 victims from 56 different industries in five regions and 39 countries.

Surprisingly, out of 337 ransomware victims last year, 151 (45%), were operating in the US.

US organisations are extremely profitable for hackers. They reach a wider market than most other countries, which often means that they have more resources. Moreover, having more employees, contractors and using more services creates a broader attack surface for hackers to exploit.

On a similar note, 39 (12%) of businesses in Canada got trapped by ransomware and were forced to pay up. Third on the list is Germany, where 26 (8%) organisations suffered from a ransomware attack.

Fourth is the United Kingdom, and fifth is France, where 17 (5%) and 16 (5%) businesses respectively have been a victim of a ransomware attack.

Ransomware is a lucrative market. The average ransom paid by organisations in the United States, Canada, and Europe rose by 171% from $115,123 in 2019 to $312,493 in 2020.

Double extortion on the rise

Several ransomware families have demonstrated their ability to exfiltrate data and use double extortion tactics, including NetWalker, RagnarLocker, DoppelPaymer, and several others.

Instead of only encrypting data on the victim’s computer, hackers also export files to their own computers in order to further compel the victim to pay the ransom. In case the ransom is not paid, criminals threaten to publish the data on leak sites and forums that are operating on the dark web.

By far the most effective ransomware family is NetWalker, which was used in 33% of attacks last year.

Interestingly, the FBI has already taken the matter into their own hands and took down the site on the dark web that was providing NetWalker ransomware for sale as a service.

During the FBI’s investigation, a Canadian national – Sébastien Vchon-Desjardins of Gatineau was charged in the Middle District of Florida. He is alleged to have obtained over $27.6million as a result of the offences charged in the indictment.

Moving forward, RagnarLocker was used in 26 attacks and DoppelPaymer in 25, both of them being double extortion ransomware families.

NeFilm (24), DarkSide (24), Revil (23), Avaddon (23), and Clop (22) are five other malicious software types that criminals chose quite often in 2020.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/us-organisations-hit-by-ransomware-forced-to-pay-171-increased-ransom-in-2020/

Indian InsurTechs Redefining Claims Management

https://gomedici.com/indian-insurtechs-redefining-claims-management

We cover more than 60+ sub-segments in FinTech – but we do not stop there; we also cover topics beyond FinTech, such as InsurTech, RegTech, PropTech, WealthTech, BankTech, AgriTech, and the enabling technologies enabling innovation such as AI, Blockchain, etc.

https://gomedici.com/indian-insurtechs-redefining-claims-management

Behind the Idea: Pricefx

https://thefintechtimes.com/behind-the-ideal-pricefx/

Before COVID-19, many companies attempted various stages of ambitious digital transformation programs. In the last year, we were thrust into this new world and it taught us that digital adoption is the only way forward.

Priorities have shifted and tech leaders realised that cloud-based SaaS solutions are critical in innovation and agility, giving them the flexibility to change with the times and be ready for any threat that may come at them. Companies that already had a flexible pricing solution in place were far better at adapting their strategy quickly and survive. Out of the more than 30 customers signed last year, a good amount either accelerated their projects or decided to move ahead from zero because of the need to rapidly adjust and control pricing in response to the pandemic.

pricefxpricefx
Marcin Cichon, the CEO and co-founder of Pricefx

With a proven track record of growing startups in Europe, Marcin Cichon, the CEO and co-founder of Pricefx, knew the pricing industry needed a transformation to match the evolving needs of businesses. Based on his decades of experience in the software business, Marcin made the move to fundamentally shift the business relationship with pricing technologies. He changed the cloud-based pricing software market when the industry’s on-premise alternatives bogged down customers with years-long implementation timelines tied with multi-million dollar price tags. Even during the difficulties in 2020, Pricefx grew its year-over-year subscription revenue by 44%, and, with Marcin’s leadership, raised $65M series C, with a total of $130M raised in total.

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

2020 was the year that we saw technology innovations come to life, especially when they were initially put on the backburner. Because of the shock of the pandemic’s unpredictability, everyone has been living with the mantra that the one thing we should be certain of is uncertainty. Pricefx was built on this mindset from its inception in 2013. The market has shown us how volatile it can perform. In response, technology innovations and digital transformation initiatives are front and centre.

 Pricefx has always held its premise that no matter the market condition, it is fast, flexible and can move with the times. Some of the largest organisations and industries – nationally and worldwide – have shown us that they’re more transparent, giving market leaders an open path to multi-channel approaches to their goods available at any time. Marketplaces, API-based integrations with third-party websites are giving companies the chance to drive traffic and better compete with the competition. Pricing solutions equipped with price optimisation and AI functionality allow these companies to capitalise on reaching customers directly with the right offers at the right time.

How has this changed over the past few years?

Prior to 2020, there were many market changes that caused a volatile increase in a number of factors, from cost shifts, supply chain disruptions, and variations in demand, which uncovered the need for dynamic pricing.

Businesses needed to respond rapidly to changes in prices to ensure their competitive stead in the market. Algorithmic optimisation is critical in setting up pricing guidelines and Pricefx allows customers to test any modifications to pricing strategies, no matter how large or small, before going live into market. Pricefx doubled down on AI in pricing when we acquired Brennus Analytics in 2020 to further our expertise and deepen our bench of talent. It was a strategic move to allow us to continue to keep going with the fast-moving business climate of today.

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

The stuffy corporate culture was never what we subscribed to at Pricefx. That means we had a work remote workforce before it pushed companies everywhere to that model during the pandemic and we also work alongside our values, which just so happened to be f-words. We’re a fast, flexible and friendly cloud solution that has been serving the needs of our customers and partners from day one. Pricefx’s model – pricing in the cloud – shifted the industry to prepare it for the needs of an environment like we are in today, and for the future.

What fintech ideas have been implemented?

We’re implementing a strategic project this year to single-source all data within the company, in order to create a universal data lake for our business management purposes. We are also continuing to use our own products to configure orders, quote pricing to customers, and evaluate our own customer data. We figure we sell these capabilities to our customers, we should use them too.

What benefits have these brought?

We see the same areas for improvement our customers see, and we get some of the same benefits, streamlined processes, and flexible adaptation from situation to situation. Of course our ROI is a bit shifted, since our cost of development is significantly more than a customer would pay.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

There are several big changes facing the B2B world and SaaS software as well. B2B in general is going to continue to see the adoption of digital B2C buying behaviours become requirements. Executives like to order things with one click from their phones at home, they want the same ease and confidence at work so B2C digital buying experiences will continue to shape the B2B world, and will require a much faster and more responsive approach to pricing than B2B enterprise is typically used to.

SaaS for B2B needs to continually look at how we can remove friction and speed time to value – the entire expectation of SaaS for B2B will continue to be around simple, instant access and utility, and instant value creation. Not all SaaS B2B providers are aiming there, but we believe this will be the future we need to build for today.

Can these challenges be aided by fintech?

Yes, fintech can help. In our case, we’re working on making our products accessible through self-service sign-up and self-service data loading and integration capabilities. And we’re continuing to look at how to integrate workflows, payments gateways and contract negotiation and settlement tools along these lines. We recently launched Velo, which is the industry’s first large deal negotiation tools set, enabling Value Estimation within the CPQ, and integrated to deal planning workflows in line with analytics and CPQ approvals.

Final thoughts…

As business leaders absorb the lasting implications from 2020, we believe capabilities for price management and optimisation will become even more central to top executives looking at how to recover quickly and build back better.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/behind-the-ideal-pricefx/

ADGM’s Fintech Abu Dhabi Festival Set To Return With Both Virtual and Onsite Elements

https://thefintechtimes.com/adgms-fintech-abu-dhabi-festival-set-to-return-with-both-virtual-and-onsite-elements/

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the international financial centre, has announced the return of its annual festival, Fintech Abu Dhabi, which will be hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

The landmark event will be held from 22 – 24 November 2021 as a hybrid event that combines both virtual and onsite elements. Now in its 5th year, Fintech Abu Dhabi is the MENA region’s leading fintech event, enhancing the UAE’s position as a world-class fintech hub by bringing together various leading players and global stakeholders to discuss ideas and launch progressive initiatives within the fintech ecosystem.

Following a highly successful virtual edition in 2020, Fintech Abu Dhabi returns with a new and exciting hybrid format, offering a combination of virtual and curated in-person sessions. 2021 will also see the introduction of the “Majlis Forum”, a host of invitation-only, private conversations and forums designed to spark debate between public and private sector fintech leaders from around the world. The entirety of Fintech Abu Dhabi’s public sessions will be broadcast digitally, offering delegates the flexibility and choice to attend Fintech Abu Dhabi either in-person, or virtually from anywhere in the world.

Fintech Abu Dhabi 2021 will commence with The Search Global Tour, a hugely popular virtual roadshow which, this year, will visit 35 countries to find and select the world’s best fintechs to join the exclusive Fintech100. Commencing on 2 June and running until early November, this virtual tour will offer attendees the chance to hear from local fintech leaders, government representatives and innovators whilst watching founders of each country’s most exciting early-stage fintech startups pitch their solutions.

Fintech Abu Dhabi will also recognise innovation through the return of its highly successful Innovation Challenge. Here, fintech firms are given the opportunity to present innovative solutions to specific problem statements posed by “Corporate Champions”, drawn from financial institutions, corporations and government agencies, that offer successful participants deployment support. 2021 will also see the addition of exciting new forums, including:

  • Fintech for Good – a sustainability fintech innovation forum
  • CxO21 – a corporate innovation & digital banking forum
  • Token – a digital token forum
  • Risk4.0 – a financial security forum
  • Fintech Souk – a retail & payments forum

“Fintech Abu Dhabi continues to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of the fintech ecosystem in these challenging times, with a hybrid format this year. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of technology adoption, and ADGM, as a global fintech hub and ecosystem enabler, is excited to present this year’s edition of Fintech Abu Dhabi to support innovation in the digital sphere. This event will provide corporate innovators, startups, and investors with a meaningful and impactful opportunity to discuss and collaborate on future fintech policies and regulations. We look forward to welcoming you to this year’s Fintech Abu Dhabi 2021, both in-person or virtually.” said Mr Emmanuel Givanakis, Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM.

Last year’s edition of Fintech Abu Dhabi was successfully held from 24 – 26 November 2020 using a ground-breaking proprietary 3D virtual platform exclusively online, attracting a record 18,500 participants from around the world. The packed three-day agenda featured keynote addresses, panel discussions, and fireside chats led by renowned leaders in the fintech space, wherein they highlighted developments and emergent trends across the fintech sector, including artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technology, open APIs, venture capital, start-up scaling, and regulations.

Key elements of Fintech Abu Dhabi 2020 included the Fintech100, a club of 100 founders and CEOs of the world’s most influential fintechs, where the average funding per start-up was valued at $66million. The fourth edition of the event also hosted the Investor Forum, which welcomed an international gathering of leading venture capital, private equity, and sovereign wealth fund investors. Another attraction was the Government Fintech Forum, which hosted a global audience of ministers, mayors and regulators who were joined by C-level and international innovation leaders from financial institutions and banks. Information regarding the event can be found here.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/adgms-fintech-abu-dhabi-festival-set-to-return-with-both-virtual-and-onsite-elements/

KeyBank ramps up RPA ops

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/infrastructure/keybank-ramps-up-rpa-ops/

Improved data quality and cost savings have spurred KeyBank to roll out robotic process automation (RPA) in its frontline, back office and technology operations recently. KeyBank first implemented RPA solutions via the cloud-native, web-based and AI-infused Automation Anywhere platform in 2018, said Dominic Cugini, chief information officer of service digitization at the $170 billion KeyBank, […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/infrastructure/keybank-ramps-up-rpa-ops/

The Diamond Industry and Blockchain: Dubai As The Meeting Point for Innovative Pairings

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-diamond-industry-and-blockchain-dubai-as-the-meeting-point-for-innovative-pairings/

The largest city and commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai, has become an undisputed leader in many sectors in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region and beyond – from transportation and logistics to tourism to finance and fintech – it can now add the diamond industry.

At a recent private event at the posh Ritz Carlton in the heart of Dubai’s financial district, Dubai International Financial District (DIFC) was the celebration of the move of an American diamond company called Icecap LLC to Dubai. The company is the brainchild of the father/son team of Jacques Voorhees, who revolutionised the diamond industry in the 1980’s by introducing online trading technology via Polygon, and Erik Voorhees, a renowned bitcoin advocate and founder of ShapeShift.   In the small private event were various people from across a wide range industries. However, what from the surface seemed an odd pairing was how blockchain and the diamonds were the focus, other than of course the American company moving its headquarters to Dubai.

Dubai is the commercial hub and largest city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)Dubai is the commercial hub and largest city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Dubai is the commercial hub and largest city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Upon discovery, the pairing of diamonds and blockchain (and by default fintech) didn’t seem so strange. The company has mentioned they are the first company to offer diamonds via NFT “token” technology. It was not just a celebration and announcement of them moving their headquarters to Dubai within Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) but also launching a line of high-end diamond and jewellery collectables. The tokenised “Icecap Collectibles” will include very high-end, natural diamonds in red, yellow, green and other colours, plus unique finished jewellery pieces, such as a $3 million red diamond.

It was also pretty exciting to see private events happening again due to the COVID-19 situation globally. Therefore, it was nice to see an event like this happen which the host city and country has, throughout the pandemic, had relatively handled the pandemic well; it even has one of the world’s highest rate of vaccinations in the world.

In 2019, the gemstone that many perceive as beautiful had around 142 million carats of diamonds produced from mines worldwide. Australia, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, South Africa, and Russia are major producers of the precious gemstone with worldwide reserves are estimated to be some 1.2 billion carats.

In terms of global trading hubs of diamonds, Antwerp is often regarded as a major hub. According to Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the city in Belgium has been a major diamond trading hub for the past five centuries. In addition, Israel’s commercial hub and largest city, Tel Aviv, is another major diamond hub. The Tel Aviv Diamond Exchange, also known locally as the ‘Bursa,’ is the world’s largest diamond trading complex. Exporting approximately $5 billion a year and employing over 15,000 people, it is estimated that around half of the world’s diamonds pass through the Bursa.

The growth of Dubai has allowed it to also secure its seat as well in terms of the diamond industry. According to the DMCC website, Dubai in the last 15 years has positioned itself as the world’s third-largest diamond trading centre. It is no secret that Dubai has been a global hub for trade throughout its history and this is particularly evident in recent memory.

Also, the famous city – known for its luxury and biggest this and tallest that – such as the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa to world-renowned Dubai Mall to Dubai International Airport – doesn’t seem be an odd pairing to add diamond trading hub as another accolade.

Dubai has become a major diamond trading hub, joining the ranks of Antwerp and Tel AvivDubai has become a major diamond trading hub, joining the ranks of Antwerp and Tel Aviv
Dubai has become a major diamond trading hub, joining the ranks of Antwerp and Tel Aviv. Its position as a leading blockchain innovator can help accelerate that. IMAGE SOURCE GETTY

Dubai is already leading in blockchain and fintech. As per a recent report by The Fintech Times called Fintech: Middle East and Africa 2021, the UAE, alongside Israel, were the only two countries in the MEA region to be considered premier fintech tier-one hubs. This is a combination of many factors from wider economic development to tech and fintech-specific indicators.

The Fintech Times MEA 2021 report also highlighted that the UAE Government adopted blockchain technology in conducting its transactions and overall is prioritising it. To aid this move, it launched the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021 and Dubai Blockchain Strategy. As a whole, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region – UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait – have top-level strategies looking to diversity their economies and digital transformation plays a strong foundation in that; 2021 and beyond will see further developments and implementations of that.

In terms of real-life foreign direct investment (FDI) and wider investment, recent ones also include IBMC Financial Professionals Group, an internationally recognised financial services institution and business consulting firm, joining forces with US Gold Currency Inc and Blockfills to bring the world’s first monetary gold-backed digital gold currency to the GCC and MEA region.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the diamond industry appears to have kept its resilience and seen interest from buyers. The demand has been being driven by bumper recent holiday jewellery sales, particularly in key markets mainly the United States and China. This has been the growth of e-commerce as a whole, which the pandemic further fueled due to lockdowns and lack of people, particularly last year who couldn’t travel, channelled their time and money to online shopping.

Back at the private event in the Dubai hotel, the CEO of Icecap, Jacques Voorhees, explains, “NFT technology has opened up diamonds as an asset class for diversification. Diamonds typically out-perform inflation, but now—with NFT technology—diamonds can be bought, sold, and traded almost as efficiently as gold and silver.  Thanks to NFTs, we might say the world’s hardest asset is now liquid. Interest in diamonds as an investment goes back over a thousand years. But, diamonds are not fungible—each one is unique.  The technology of non-fungible tokens now makes it easy to trade this asset class without the friction of having to track the physical product itself—which is kept secure, vaulted, and insured.”

As highlighted by Voorhees at the event and following trends, developments last year and present have also accelerated Dubai as a hub in regards to diamonds. First, the Abraham Accords, the establishment of diplomatic and economic relations between the UAE, Israel, Bahrain (and later Sudan and Morocco) have allowed the UAE and Israel to conduct business officially, which can see a wide range of sectors – from agriculture to fintech to wider tech and diamonds – benefit. As highlighted, the Startup Nation of Israel is not only a leader in fintech, tech but even in the diamond industry. Second, the embracement of the UAE as a whole in digital transformation has allowed it to be not only the leader in the Arab World but even a global contender and thought leader in its own right.

The benefits of blockchain can be that it can provide a means of securely recording the provenance of diamonds, as well as other goods. Users can easily view the movement of a product recorded on the chain from its source to the present. A transparent relationship adds value to the product at each point in the supply chain. Therefore, it is companies such as Icecap who are aiming to lead the front by incorporating what initially are two different pairings.

Diamonds are a timeless gem that many regard across the world. Blockchain and wider fintech is one that has also been embraced by many. Therefore, their pairing might not only seem to fit but be innovative in the ever-changing world we all live in.

  • Head of Middle East and Africa (MEA) | Contributor

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/the-diamond-industry-and-blockchain-dubai-as-the-meeting-point-for-innovative-pairings/

Tesla to No Longer Accept Bitcoin Due to Climate Concerns

https://thefintechtimes.com/tesla-to-no-longer-accept-bitcoin-due-to-climate-concerns/

Tesla has suspended the use of Bitcoin when purchasing their vehicles due to concerns around the use of fossil fuels and emissions involved with mining, causing the value of Bitcoin to fall by over 10%.

CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, made the announcement in a tweet, writing: “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.

“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment.”

Tesla, Musk and Bitcoin have had an interesting couple of months, with Musk investing $1.5billion dollars into the cryptocurrency back in February after announcing they intended to start accepting it as payment. This move caused the price of Bitcoin to jump 17% to $44,220, a then-record high.

At the time, many thought that Tesla’s investment was a “game-changer” for Bitcoin, as it was the first major company in the automobile sector to announce its intentions to offer cryptocurrency as a future payment option.

“Tesla is hardly considered a traditional company, but when one of the largest companies in the world starts to hold Bitcoin on its balance sheet as a substitute for cash, the market takes notice,” Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group wrote in a note to clients.

A blow for Bitcoin

However, Musks recent tweet will likely be seen as a huge blow for the cryptocurrency, as bringing it into the mainstream and almost immediately spurning it again highlights to consumers how volatile – and potentially damaging – it can actually be.

There have been countless debates around cryptocurrencies and the potential risks when investing, despite the countless news stories of people getting rich quick. The environmental concerns of such currencies are relatively less well known, though is becoming more mainstream knowledge, with the Bitcoin industry alone estimated to use the same amount of energy as the annual amount used by a country the size of Malaysia.

Bitcoin is created by miners using high powered computers that process transactions and solve complex mathematical puzzles. The process is very energy-intensive and relies on energy generated by fossil fuels, particularly coal as Musk pointed out.

Some believe that this rapid backtrack on Bitcoin is an attempt by Tesla to cater to investors who have concerns about climate change and sustainability

“Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues are now a major motivation for many investors. Tesla, being a clean energy-focused company, might want to work better in the environmental area of ESG,” Julia Lee from Burman Invest told the BBC.

“But a cynic might suggest that this is just another move by Elon Musk to influence the cryptocurrency market, as he has done on so many other occasions,” she added, in reference to Musks previous dealings with Bitcoin. His tweets about the once-obscure digital currency Dogecoin also helped to turn it into the worlds fourth biggest cryptocurrency after being started as a social media joke.

However, many were quick to jump to Bitcoins defence about the future of its emissions after the announcement, claiming that even the mainstream financial system with its numerous workers, buildings and computers also uses large amounts of energy, often created by fossil fuels.

Viktor Prokopenya, a London-based Fintech investor said: “Tesla’s value has increased more than all the automotive companies in the world, and its founder Elon Musk is now the richest man on earth. Cryptocurrencies have emissions now but in the future – when things will move to proof of stake – then it will have zero emissions.

“It is true that many cryptocurrencies are at the moment based on ‘proof of work’ or mining, and are not using energy very effectively. However, this will change. One hundred years ago, people made the first car. Those cars had very big carbon emissions, but that did not mean we stopped creating cars – we improved the technology. Society has now created a zero-emissions car, and we are moving towards a world where all cars will be clean. Cryptocurrencies are evolving in the same way. They are currently a very young technology and we are now moving from ‘proof of work’ to ‘proof of stake’ technology. So it will not take us a hundred years to develop clean technology, as it did with the automobile. It will probably take five years.”

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/tesla-to-no-longer-accept-bitcoin-due-to-climate-concerns/

eBay Continues Advance Into Financial Services With Launch of CEBS Programme To Support SMEs

https://thefintechtimes.com/ebay-continues-advance-into-financial-services-with-launch-of-cebs-programme-to-support-smes/

eBay UK has recently announced its latest finance programme – Capital for eBay Business Sellers (CEBS). The intention of the new programme is to offer support to small businesses by providing vital access to finance; during a period when entrepreneurs and start-ups across the country face a growing cashflow crisis as a result of the pandemic.

The CEBS programme will offer a variety of financing products to the vast majority of the 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses that sell to the 29 million active monthly buyers via the UK platform, and stands as eBay’s biggest recorded push into the provision of financial services to date; ever since it started to roll out its management of payments scheme last year.

The launch of CEBS follows the release of new research from eBay UK, which highlighted the concerning figure that 31% of the UK’s 5.9 million small businesses face the threat of liquidation within a month if adequate financing is not sourced.

The research also found that 40% of small businesses have been denied a loan from a bank, whilst 31% have been turned down for a loan by the government. When asked specifically about Covid loans, 44% said they had not received any form of access to Covid financial support within the past 12 months.

YouLend became the first out of three financing platforms to be announced as part of the CEBS programme, giving eBay business sellers access to funding between £500 and £1 million, which can then be repaid directly from their sales. With eBay already having access to seller trading history and performance, eligible sellers only need to complete a simple application form, receiving offers in minutes; with more than 90% of sellers receiving funds the very same day they accept an offer.

This financing solution helps small businesses overcome the many challenges that have left them financially excluded from high street bank loans and Covid support schemes. Lengthy application forms, years of trading history, high-interest rates and high-risk payment structures are just some of the pain points that CEBS aims to remove for business sellers in desperate need of finance.

It also makes it possible for thousands of entrepreneurs and start-ups that have sprung up on eBay UK throughout the pandemic to access funding to grow and succeed.

Hundreds of eBay businesses have already benefited from CEBS, with two further financing partners set to be announced in the coming weeks.

The launch of the CEBS programme is the next step in eBay UK’s ongoing commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, delivering economic opportunity and making it easier to set up, grow and scale. It follows a number of initiatives launched in the past year to help businesses and individuals set up ventures or open new revenue streams online, reducing or removing eBay’s fees through programmes like Pay As You Grow and Free Online Shop Window.

Murray Lambell, General Manager, eBay UKMurray Lambell, General Manager, eBay UK
Murray Lambell, General Manager, eBay UK

“Small businesses make up 99% of all UK businesses, yet they have been financially excluded from traditional lenders and let down by Covid support schemes. That’s led to a serious under-investment, leaving many at risk of going under while others are prevented from reaching their full potential,” comments Murray Lambell, General Manager, eBay UK.

“Capital for eBay Business Sellers is intended to help plug this gap, giving small businesses quick access to a range of financing options. With 300,000 UK small businesses trading on eBay, this proposition will help them reinvest, protect jobs, and succeed, even as the government’s support schemes dry up.”

Commenting on the experience of CEBS, Stan Weekes, founder of eBay business SW Trading Ltd said “The online application took about 5 minutes. After accepting the 6 figure offer, we received the funds the very same day. Greater access to financing will significantly help us to grow and bounce back after what has been a tough year for so many small businesses.”

Jakob Pethick, CCO of YouLend added “Our focus is on giving leading e-commerce platforms, tech companies and payment service providers the ability to offer their customers rapid funding through our technology platform. We’re delighted to partner with eBay UK to support their business sellers thrive and grow.”

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/ebay-continues-advance-into-financial-services-with-launch-of-cebs-programme-to-support-smes/

Is Smart Data Fabric the Approach Financial Institutions Have Been Dreaming About?

https://finovate.com/is-smart-data-fabric-the-approach-financial-institutions-have-been-dreaming-about/

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with InterSystems, Gold Sponsors of FinovateSpring, and Monica Summerville, head of capital markets, Celent, a division of Oliver Wyman.


Financial institutions and data have had a love-hate relationship for many years.

On the one hand FIs and data are a match made in heaven. It is a symbiotic relationship where business functions create and consume data over and over until the result exceeds the sum of the parts. Ideally this partnering results in revenue or alpha-producing insights. On the other hand, siloed, unreliable or simply too much data creates frustration and risk as the business potential is teased, but ultimately unattainable as FIs struggle to extract value from their data (see figure 1).

Business use cases for leveraging data across financial services are plentiful, from management reporting, enterprise risk, liquidity and treasury management, and more recently, driving innovative customer experiences. More specifically within capital markets and banking, trends such as the embracing of multi-asset trading or the desire to simplify architectures have triggered a rethink of data approaches. There is also, now more than ever, the desire for cost savings – equally important to FIs whose margins are increasingly coming under pressure from increased regulation and competitive factors. Indeed, research by Oliver Wyman and Morgan Stanley found that the benefits from having clean, consistent, and automated data management could be a two-to-four percent reduction of infrastructure and control costs. When IT spend ranges into the billions of dollars, as is the case with larger FIs, every percentage point of savings is a big win.

No wonder then that cracking the data management challenge has long been considered the perfect marriage of technology achievement and business function. FIs have made repeated attempts and invested hundreds of millions of dollars through the years to get this right. From simple relational databases storing structured data, to data warehouses and more recently data lakes capable of holding all types of data, there has been no shortage of excitement that maybe (whisper it) this latest approach could be “the one.” Heartbreaks inevitably followed as the heady days of getting to know new technologies turn into frustrations and recriminations. A pristine data lake becomes a swamp.

The latest research by Celent discovered that leading FIs including Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and RBC, to name a few, have lately been getting serious with a new data management approach called Smart Data Fabric. As these entities move from a process- to platform-driven organisation, their business focus has shifted to ensuring the best customer experience possible. This shift however requires mastering and leveraging data to generate insights at an enterprise level. The reality is that a history of disjointed business expansion common to financial services, means data is siloed across numerous platforms, tuned for very different use cases. There are multiple “single sources of truth,” and these vary depending on whose truth you are seeking.  

The right data management approach should empower FIs to become better versions of themselves, without fundamentally changing who they are. Unlike previous data management architectures, Smart Data Fabrics offer centralized access and a single unified view of data across the organization. Crucially, Data Fabrics do not require that copies of the data be created and stored outside its original location, so can offer a useful bridging solution between modern and legacy systems – the latter often holding the most business crucial data. In this way Data Fabrics can also avoid the creation of more data silos, which is especially important as FIs increasingly embrace cloud. A Data Fabric becomes “Smart” when it inherently supports advanced data analytics and aims to future-proof data management (see Figure 2).

Financial institutions, from asset managers to banks and brokers, have always known that they need to become smarter about data. Business end-users and clients are demanding better user experiences, targeted insights, and increased access to analytic capabilities which requires free access to accurate and harmonized data drawn from disparate sources across the entire enterprise. At the very core of modernization is the ability to innovate at scale, and this relies on freer access to data. Celent’s latest research report sponsored by InterSystems found that the business necessities and benefits of better data management is driving adoption of Smart Data Fabrics. This time it might just be for real. Read the full report here >>

https://finovate.com/is-smart-data-fabric-the-approach-financial-institutions-have-been-dreaming-about/

Stella Artois is the First Beer Brand to Auction NFTs to Generate Funds for UK Hospitality Industry

https://thefintechtimes.com/stella-artois-is-the-first-beer-brand-to-auction-nfts-to-generate-funds-for-uk-hospitality-industry/

Stella Artois, part of the Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I portfolio, is unveiling the world’s first “tipping” NFT, with 100% of the proceeds from the original sale and 10% royalties of each subsequent resale going towards bar staff tips for the UK hospitality industry.

Available to bid on at auction from May 4th via the Rarible: NFT Marketplace, the ‘Non-Fungible Tip’ will open at £1 to reflect Stella Artois’ current ‘Stella Tips’ campaign, which is tipping £1 to bar staff tips for every pint of Stella Artois served between April 12th and May 9th.

The first beer brand to join the NFT hype, this new drop will feature four striking pieces of visual art; ‘Infinite Skim’, which pays homage to Stella Artois’ iconic serve, ‘Neverending Tip’, a visual representation of the Non-Fungible Tip, ’The Life Artois’, and ‘Spin’, a nod towards the £1 tip generated with the purchase of each pint of Stella Artois.

These four pieces were available to bid on until May 9th, when as the ‘Stella Tips’ campaign drew to a close, the collection of ‘Non-Fungible Tips’ will continue to generate revenue for the hospitality industry in the form of an ‘endless tip’. The money raised will be donated to Licensed Trade Charity – Helping Pub, Bar and Brewery People, enabling them to continue supporting the wellbeing of hospitality staff long into the future.

Welcoming the return of the hospitality industry with a monumental celebration for the people behind the bar, the Stella Tips initiative is set to meet its target of generating £500k in tips, rewarding staff who have suffered a tough 12 months of closings, curfews and furloughs.

Ali Humphrey, European Marketing Director for Stella Artois says: “Britain’s pubs are the cornerstones of our communities, and it’s the people behind the bar who bring us together, with a welcoming smile and pint in hand.

“The last 12 months have been particularly hard on this workforce, with one important issue being the lack of their usual customer tips.

“We want to put tipping back on the agenda. That’s why Stella Artois have launched the world’s first Non-Fungible Tips as NFTs, to encourage consumers to rally up their support for the industry whilst getting their hands on a limited-edition collector’s item.”

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/stella-artois-is-the-first-beer-brand-to-auction-nfts-to-generate-funds-for-uk-hospitality-industry/

XBRL News about sustainability reporting and European banking

https://dailyfintech.com/2021/05/13/xbrl-news-about-5/

Here is our pick of the 3 most important XBRL news stories from the last week. 

1  IFRS consults on constitution and sets digital agenda for sustainability reporting

A global sustainability standards setter is firmly on the way. The Trustees of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation have opened a consultation on proposed amendments to the Foundation’s constitution. These would allow the formation and operation of a new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB, previously dubbed SSB) within the governance structure of the organisation. The amendments expand the Foundation’s objectives and set out institutional arrangements for the ISSB. Comments are due by 29 July 2021, and the trustees expect to finalise the board by the November United Nations COP26 conference.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this and the next piece of news in the domain of sustainability reporting, so we won’t say anything else but: Go read!

2 EU plans for sustainability reporting

An EU High Level Conference held yesterday on the proposed Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) brought together a number of high level speakers to discuss the new reporting proposals announced two weeks ago. Digital reporting, unified and digital access, and the need for auditing all appear to be high on the agendas of – and find broad agreement among – policy makers and commentators. The need for a ‘building blocks’ approach to relevant standards setting, with Europe set to contribute to, use and yet not be constrained by coming International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) standards was a consistent theme. They will form the floor, but not necessarily the roof of the EU reporting requirements

We refer back to our comment above …

3 EBA updates phase 1 of its 3.1 reporting framework

The European Banking Authority (EBA) published today the phase 1 of its reporting framework v3.1. The technical package supports the implementation of the reporting framework by providing standard specifications and includes the validation rules, the Data Point Model (DPM) and the XBRL taxonomies for v3.1. In particular, the technical package covers the new reporting requirements for investment firms (ITS on investment firms reporting). 

We conclude our broadcast on a slightly lighter, but much more technical note this week.

—————————————————————

Christian Dreyer CFA is well known in Swiss Fintech circles as an expert in XBRL and financial reporting for investors.

 We have a self-imposed constraint of 3 news stories each week because we serve busy senior leaders in Fintech who need just enough information to get on with their job.

 For context on XBRL please read this introduction to our XBRL Week in 2016 and read articles tagged XBRL in our archives. 

 New readers can read 3 free articles.  To  become a member with full access to all that Daily Fintech offers,  the cost is just USD 143 a year (= USD 0.39 per day or USD 2.75 per week). For less than one cup of coffee you get a week full of caffeine for the mind.

https://dailyfintech.com/2021/05/13/xbrl-news-about-5/

Kickstart Welcomes New Faces in Fintech – With Opportunities Still Open

https://thefintechtimes.com/kickstart-scheme-welcomes-new-faces-in-fintech/

With offices slowly beginning to fill once more, many fintechs have already taken advantage of the government’s Kickstart scheme. Another deadline for a further batch of cohorts is rapidly approaching at the end of the month.

As part of its pledge to support the government’s Kickstart scheme, The Fintech Power 50 and its partners, Innovate Finance, Rise created by Barclays, Level 39, and iFinance Academy, will close applications for the next Kickstart submission at midnight, Friday 28th May. Once successful, applicants currently aged 25 and under and on Universal Credit will be allowed to apply and interviews may begin.

The programme offers:

  • A £1500 grant for companies to host a 6-month placement (know as a Kickstart) and have the Kickstarter’s wages fully paid for.
  • The wages are paid for a 25 hr working week at national minimum wage and also include national insurance and pension contributions.
  • Grants available until 31st December 2021.
  • Any company industry can apply, not just fintechs.
  • There is no cost to the company.
  • You can apply for more than one placement at a time subject to the Eligibility Criteria.

To date, the scheme has created 31 hirings (Kickstarters that are currently in position), 104 companies have registered interest and approximately £234,000 in grants and wages are being processed. The Fintech Power 50 have secured 202 approved grant placements so far, with an approved grant total of 1.52million.

Through The Fintech Power 50 and its partners, there is also access to free training and development courses for the Kickstart, and launching soon there will also be an opportunity to include knowledge retention based AI Clever Nelly.

Mark Walker, CEO and Co-founder of The Fintech Power 50 said, “At The Fintech Power50 we provide support as a gateway company that allows us to submit group grant applications in line with monthly registration deadlines. This allows us to coach and advise a company through each application for a higher chance of success, which means that if one deadline is missed they can at least register their interest to prepare an application for another month.”

Fintechs currently interviewing for their own Kickstart’s include: Confused.com, Fintech Wales, Funding Options and Yoello.

Companies already with a Kickstart in place include Leading Point, Ember and Accountancy Cloud who have each benefited from the scheme.

Rajen Madan, CEO of Leading Point said,  “Employing a kick-starter has been a really positive experience at Leading Point. It aligns well to the heart of our mission as a Fintech intersecting the old world with the new in Financial Services. We have been impressed with the quality of talented new professionals, and grateful to Fintech Power 50 for supporting us through the process comprehensively.”

Aaron Shaw, Co-Founder and CEO of Ember said: “The kickstart scheme has been fantastic for us. We’ve taken on three exceptionally talented individuals who, otherwise, we would have likely overlooked.

“We were initially sceptical on the calibre of candidate that we would be able to hire through the scheme, but two months in and those fears have been well and truly quashed.”

And Wesley Rashid, CEO and Co-Founder of Accountancy Cloud said: “As an early adopter of the Kickstarter scheme I was surprised how frictionless the process was. Once we provided our business case and job specifications a lot of the heavy lifting was done, we managed to get a quick uptake of referrals and a strong pipeline of candidates. It’s a no-brainer, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more Kickstarter’s into the Accountancy Cloud family.”

According to a recent report from the London School of Economics and Political Science, more than one in ten people aged 16-25 have lost their job, and 60% have seen their earnings fall since the coronavirus pandemic began. Under the government furlough scheme launched at the beginning of the lockdown, under 25s were more likely to be furloughed than any other age group, and were also the most likely to lose their job, with youth unemployment rising to 13.1%.

You can find out more information and apply to join the next cohort of up to 30 new roles here. The deadline for the next round of applications closes at midnight on Friday 28th May.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/kickstart-scheme-welcomes-new-faces-in-fintech/

This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 13/05

https://thefintechtimes.com/this-week-in-fintech-tft-bi-weekly-news-roundup-13-05/

This Thursday’s The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup delivers a dose of international fintech updates. There’s crowdfunding success for Penfold and plans for new global digital bank Nirvana.

Funding and investments

funding

fundingBabel Finance, the crypto financial service provider, has completed a strategic Series A fundraising of $40million. The round was led by Zoo Capital, Sequoia Capital China, Dragonfly Capital, BAI Capital, Bertelsmann and Tiger Global Management. Plus, follow-on participation from existing investors.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity firm Panaseer has secured $26.5million in series B funding. The financing round was led by AllegisCyber Capital with additional participation from existing investors Evolution Equity Partners, Notion Capital, AlbionVC, Cisco Investments and Paladin Capital Group. With additional investor National Grid Partners joining in, Panaseer’s total funding to date is now $43million.

CloudWalk, the São Paulo-based payment technology network, has also raised $190million in Series B funding led by Coatue. Participation also from DST Global and existing investors FIS, The Hive Brazil and Valor Capital. It brings its total capital raised to $206million.

Global early-stage venture capital firm Antler has closed its first Nordic fund. It was oversubscribed, closing at $36million, including participation from Draper Esprit, Kistefos, Danish state fund Vækstfonden and the Norwegian state fund Investinor. Antler also recently announced that its investment strategy in Denmark would focus on backing green, sustainable companies.

Plunk, the AI-powered app for homeowners, has closed an oversubscribed $6.5million in seed funding led by Unlock Ventures. Additional investors included Sony Innovation Fund, Plug and Play Ventures, Vectr Fintech Partners and Second Century Ventures. Plunk plans to use the funding to release and iterate on its mobile app.

Finally, digital pension provider Penfold has secured more than £3million through its equity crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. The company is planning to use the campaign funds to accelerate its growth. Since launch, Penfold has attracted more than 10,000 customers with assets growing 140 per cent in the past four months.

Penfold

Penfold

Appointments

SmartStream Technologies has appointed Peter Dehaan as new business director for cash & liquidity management. Prior to working at SmartStream he was at Lloyds Bank managing treasury and liquidity services. His goal is to help financial institutions achieve improved operational efficiencies on a global basis.

Research and insight

The Bank of Israel has published a report examining the issue of central bank digital currencies. The Bank of Israel is undecided whether it intends to issue a digital shekel but has accelerated the research and preparation for the potential issuance of a digital shekel. The document outlines a draft model of a Bank of Israel digital currency.

Partnerships

MoneyGram International and Coinme have unveiled a partnership to enable the cash funding and payout of digital currencies. The partnership utilises MoneyGram’s API-driven payments platform and Coinme’s cryptocurrency exchange to bring Bitcoin to point-of-sale locations in the US. There are also plans to expand internationally later this year.

Live-in care agency Elder has teamed up with financial advice firm LGFA in order to tackle the lack of understanding around financial planning in later life. The pairing will plug LGFA’s advisory services into Elder’s care funding calculator to provide financial advice around lending, such as lifetime mortgages.

Zwipe

ZwipeFSS (Financial Software and Systems) is partnering with fintech Zwipe. The hook-up will combine FSS’s Unified Issuance Platform and Zwipe Pay One biometric card capabilities, supported by Zwipe’s network of card manufacturing partners. FSS will also offer Zwipe Pay ONE biometric payment cards globally.

Meanwhile, banking-as-a-service platform Railsbank has collaborated with UK payments firm RationalFX. Railsbank will provide ledger and payment services that enable RationalFX’s customers to better control liquidity. The partnership will also see the pair collaborate on a regulatory framework.

Computer Services, a fintech and regtech firm, has partnered with financial data company Kharon. Kharon will provide CSI customers with tools to enhance their financial crime and trade control frameworks. CSI’s customers will have access to 50 additional datasets, with an emphasis on EU and other international data.

While, iDenfy, the identity verification company, has forged a partnership with Impily. iDenfy supplies partners with an ID verification system centered on AI facial recognition protocols linked with digital interfaces. Poland-based Impily offers a platform to buy, sell and store cryptocurrencies.

Announcements and updates

Eshraq Investments PJSC, the Abu Dhabi-based investment company, has reported an operating profit in the first quarter of 2021 in ‘a considerable turnaround compared with the first quarter of 2020’. It said the return to profit reflects its diversification strategy with investments in financial and technology assets.

Meanwhile, ABC Labs, Bank ABC’s innovation lab, has won the Global Finance World’s Best Financial Innovation Labs award for Bahrain, as part of the magazine’s Innovator Awards for 2021. The awards honour exceptional innovation labs, banks and fintech organisations from across the globe.

Hi55 Ventures has joined the Microsoft for Startups programme. Using Microsoft’s Azure platform, Hi55 will ‘be able to unlock global scale and enable continuous innovation’. Using the Hi55 platform, employees can access their salary free of charge in real-time.

Airwallex

AirwallexAirwallex, the global payments platform, has secured an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) licence from the Dutch Central Bank. The licence gives Airwallex access to the European single market. This latest approval adds to Airwallex’s existing licences in its core markets, including the UK, United States, Australia, and Hong Kong.

Finally, online food delivery service Foodcraft has joined forces with digital e-commerce platform Noon.com to further delivery reach in time for Eid. Noon.com is a joint venture between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Mohamed Alabbar.

Launches

Cryptocurrency exchange Quidax has unveiled plans to expand beyond Africa to the global market. At the same time, it also announced the launch of its native token QDX. Additional plans include a reposition as the global home of BEP20 tokens. It will also launch seven products over the next six months with a blend of CeFi and DeFi.

Financial app Multiply AI has removed its monthly subscription fee for Unity Mutal Lifetime ISA customers while also launching a customer referral bonus scheme for easy access account holders. Customers opening the LISA through Multiply get a £20 bonus which increases to £25 when a 25 per cent government bonus is added.

CashtoCode, the instant cash payment service for online merchants, has expanded into Ireland via its partnership with Payzone. The CashtoCode service is now available for customers to use at 3,500 retail locations in Ireland. It already operates in UK, Germany, Austria and Italy.

Paystack

PaystackPaystack, a fintech company that powers growth and payments for businesses in Africa, has launched in South Africa following a six-month pilot. The launch marks Paystack’s expansion into its third market, following Nigeria and Ghana. Paystack was acquired last year by US fintech leader Stripe.

Meanwhile, former PayPal CEO Bill Harris has moved to Miami to launch Nirvana Technology (Nirvana), a global digital bank. Nirvana is now looking to hire high-tech talent across engineering, product, marketing, and operations to fuel hyper-growth. It aims to employ 50 people by yearend and 200 by the following year.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/this-week-in-fintech-tft-bi-weekly-news-roundup-13-05/

Sift Interview: Exposing the Multi-Billion Dollar Fraud Economy

https://thefintechtimes.com/sift-interview-exposing-the-multi-billion-dollar-fraud-economy/

In this interview, The Fintech Times sits down with Kevin Lee, Trust and Safety Architect at Sift, to discuss the biggest changes in fraud and security over the last 12-months.

Gina Clarke, Editor-in-Chief, kicked off the interview by asking how the fraud landscape had changed over the last 12-months, with Kevin answering that new and improved products – originally created with customer comfort in mind, had now opened more doors when it came to fraud.

From siloed teams to consumers ambivalent to shopping online, fraudsters have used the pandemic as a way to take advantage of customers.

Towards the end of the interview, Kevin outlined ways that retailers could protect themselves against new ways of attacks and also explained why a good partnership and fraud prevention tools are essential for any business in this current climate.

For more information on how the last 12 months have changed in terms of fraud and digital safety, the Q1 2021 Trust and Safety Index: Exposing the Multi-billion Dollar Fraud Economy is now available to download from Sift.

https://thefintechtimes.com/sift-interview-exposing-the-multi-billion-dollar-fraud-economy/

Do Not Pass Go: Why We Are Still Waiting For a Global Insurance Monopoly

https://thefintechtimes.com/do-not-pass-go-why-we-are-still-waiting-for-a-global-insurance-monopoly/

Of all the sectors and industries that interact with our daily lives, none could be more prevalent than the powerhouse that is the insurance industry. But of all the giants currently at play within the provision of insurance, the elephant in the room still remains to be addressed: why have we not experienced the development of a monopoly within the insurance sector? 

With many variables at play, the answer to this question is far more complex than ever thought. One entrepreneur who’s been redefining how everyday people interact with insurance, and hopes to offer a comprehensive solution to this age-old question is Christian Wiens, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the insurance company Getsafe.

Here Christian discusses the plight of modern insurance companies, their prolonged rise to monopoly, and what increased digital adoption could mean for the future of a sector that never quite seems to peak.

Christian Wiens, CEO and co-founder of GetsafeChristian Wiens, CEO and co-founder of Getsafe
Christian Wiens, CEO and co-founder of Getsafe

The world is increasingly functioning in the digital sphere. People who adapt to these changing times can profit from cheaper, faster, and more flexible processes in all aspects of life. Young companies like Uber and AirBnb have managed to provide their services successfully on a global scale, having become market leaders in their respective industries. People of all ages and backgrounds profit from these new offers and they only have to do one thing – click a button on a screen.

The insurance sector is a trillion-dollar industry and it is unconditionally relevant everywhere, yet even industry giants like Allianz or Generali operate within the confines of their countries of origin. Why hasn’t a global monopoly in insurance happened yet? And may there be something underway?

There are several intertwining reasons why a monopoly in insurance is yet to establish itself. First of all, traditional insurance companies operate in a local setup. They offer locally dependent products and use local sales channels (for example through brokers or agents). It is also difficult for them to put customer feedback and data into action as it stems from several different operative units. Said plainly, much of the data actually stays with the brokers and never reaches the insurance company to begin with. Furthermore, they lack the IT infrastructure that works on the global level, because they carry a lot of dead weight within their old, incompatible systems. The fact that insurance is oftentimes divided into property, life, and health branches, all of which use different systems, does not help. This means that even if these insurers had access to all of the data, they do not possess the infrastructure needed to comprehensively pool customer data in a single interface in order to work with it. This is why a tech monopoly has not happened in insurance yet.

The advantage of insurtechs comes into play right here. Insurtechs have founded their companies from scratch and combined technology with insurance. They have a modern tech stack and they come with insurance know-how. The industry is heavily regulated, but it is clear that tomorrow’s insurance sector has to change in order to be competitive. Insurtechs can show the way here. In times of increasing digitisation, insurance companies need to offer more than before to stand out. Insurance of the future not only relieves the customer financially in the event of a claim, but also solves the problem. Take a house fire for example: Supported by artificial intelligence and smart home technology, the insurance company ensures that risks may not arise in the first place. And if damage inevitably occurs, the insurer will take care of the architects and construction builders needed to rebuild your home, all the while organising a hotel room for you to stay at during rebuilding. The idea is to offer all-round packages rather than just paying out the amount of damage – making tomorrow’s insurance digital, intelligent, and holistic.

Against this background, there will be a struggle for customers once tech companies and other groups expand their range of products to include insurance coverage. BigTechs like Amazon, Google, and co. have a strong market presence and good technological know-how. Many of them are starting to look at insurance and now offer so-called gadget insurances for electronic devices. Ikea as well has already launched its first insurance product, a combination of household contents and liability insurance.

However, these corporations are currently only able to provide very specific insurance coverage to their customers and they are bound once more by local regulations. This makes it questionable whether the giants with an already established identity and core product will ultimately enter the insurance business on a large scale. It is more likely that these companies will buy large insurance companies in order to offer these services from a single source. Nevertheless, insurers should not only perceive the upcoming new offers as competition, but also as an opportunity to innovate themselves. Moreover, they could turn out to be interesting channels for partnerships and exits as they have the right idea of where the market is heading.

From this follows that insurtechs and traditional insurers are required to think digitally. But the push for change not only comes from the outside, it stems from the customers themselves. They want a digital insurance experience that thinks ahead – beginning with the insurance purchase and ending with the handling of insurance claims. The stakes are high because even if insurance will always be needed, the world around it is changing drastically. Insurtechs have come up with a solution that combines all of the essential elements while discarding the obstacles that have made this industry so outdated. They have put other insurers in a tight spot and are challenging them to step up their game. At the end of the day, insurtechs are playing an essential role in driving these changes forward and shaping the insurance of the future. A global monopoly in insurance is likely already in the making, it just remains to be seen whether it is going to happen.

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/do-not-pass-go-why-we-are-still-waiting-for-a-global-insurance-monopoly/

Tide Accounting Enabled for Tide Members Through Sage Partnership

https://thefintechtimes.com/tide-accounting-enabled-for-tide-members-through-sage-partnership/

Tide, a UK based business financial platform and Sage, a cloud-based business management solutions platform have announced a new partnership, offering an integrated banking and accounting product for Tide members.

Designed for people taking their first steps towards making their business dreams a reality, the partnership will provide UK self-employed and business owners with a new product that combines banking and accounting – all in a single digital environment. By connecting banking data and Tide’s existing finance and admin tools to Sage’s accounting and compliance services, Tide members will be able to streamline financial and compliance processes, such as self-assessment and year-end accounts.

Research shows that financial constraints and worries are the most common barriers preventing people from starting their own business. Many start-ups and small business owners worry about getting their tax and accounting wrong, resulting in facing penalties for making mistakes. With upcoming legislation like Making Tax Digital potentially impacting 4 million businesses in the UK, many don’t have an accountant, and are now looking to their banking providers for support and advice.

Tide is a business financing platform, helping small business owners save time and money on their financial and admin tasks by offering a range of highly connected products and services. Tide’s partnership with Sage will offer a seamless accounting tool from the Tide app, that will provide members with compliant accounts and insights about their businesses to reduce the time spent and stress of traditional accounting.

Having simple accounting and taxation built into Tide’s mobile and web platforms will give start-ups the familiar experience they need to be confident that they are doing all they need to stay compliant and avoid any penalties. This will allow them to focus on growing their business without spending time on unnecessary admin.

Commenting on the partnership, Oliver Prill, Tide CEO said, “Adding Tide Accounting to the Tide platform is a huge step towards our mission to make life easier for people who work for themselves, saving them time (and money) on their financial admin.

“Tide has chosen to work with Sage to deliver this product due to Sage’s long and impressive record in accounting and compliance and their strategic alignment with Tide. We share a similar customer base, and combining our expertise will bring the right technology solutions to small business owners at the right time.”

Neal Watkins, EVP of Small Business Segment at Sage said, “By partnering with Tide, we hope to encourage more people, who have so far only dreamt about being their own boss, to start a new business. Many entrepreneurs are held back from starting a new business by fears around getting their tax right, but with this new offering, accountancy and compliance will become a simple and seamless service, meaning that the business owner can sleep easy knowing that they’re getting their tax right.”

Tide will trial its accounting and compliance solution with its 340,000 members later this year.

In January 2021, Sage UK commissioned research via Edelman Intelligence across 2,500 individuals. The research focused on understanding aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners attitudes towards starting a business, their motivations for doing so, as well as the barriers and challenges they encounter.

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

https://thefintechtimes.com/tide-accounting-enabled-for-tide-members-through-sage-partnership/

In a Tumultuous Year for Auto Insurance, Customers Seek Better Value

https://dailyfintech.com/2021/05/13/in-a-tumultuous-year-for-auto-insurance-customers-seek-better-value/

Latest customer survey findings on auto insurance trends during the last year show largely similar after-effects in most world regions. In the US, a JD Power 2021 Insurance Shopping Study revealed that the pandemic caused a 55% decrease in number of miles driven, inducing auto insurance customers to shop around for more personalized and cheaper policies. The Confused.com Car Insurance Price Index in association with Willis Towers Watson revealed that comprehensive car insurance premiums in UK fell by 14% since the first quarter of 2020, the biggest annual drop since 2014.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions, which aggregates annual market data about driving behaviors, auto insurance shopping, underwriting and claims to help insurance carriers better understand shifting landscapes, in its 2021 U.S. Auto Insurance Trends Report, noted that auto insurance shopping data trends stayed turbulent throughout 2020. In certain African economies, insurance premiums were reported to have dropped to six-year lows as vehicles sat idle with drivers staying at home following Covid-19 movement restrictions.

The pandemic resulted in mid-term and renewal auto insurance shopping going for a rollercoaster ride. As various states began to issue shutdown orders, shopping declined initially and later rebounded when stimulus checks reached bank accounts of customers. As cities began to gradually reopen, shopping continued to take an upward trend, but dropped again during periods of civil and social unrest during summer and severe weather events. For those whose finances were adversely affected by the pandemic, a 6% rise in shopping activity was reported.

A notable insight from the J.D. Power survey was that while auto insurance customers shopped around more fervently than ever before, incumbents lead with higher gains. While insurtechs like Metromile and Root grew on the back of their data-driven policy pricing, incumbents wrested an even bigger market share. The past year alone witnessed a 3% year-over-year increase in auto insurance customer migration to the five biggest insurers, as incumbents dealt with customers’ pandemic distress as well as insurtechs did. The marketplace was found to be increasingly differentiated more so by price, underscoring the need for carriers to bring innovative customer solutions.

Liberty Mutual, for instance, offered blanket premium refunds and reductions to customers who drove less during the pandemic, where insurtechs like Metromile publicized their pay-per-mile offerings for discounted pricing. State Farm’s usage-based insurance offering, Drive Safe & Save, let customers earn discounts up to 50%, just as Metromile customers saved 47% on average via telematics capabilities.

On the claims side, empty roadways engendered dangerous driving with a significant increase in speeding first observed in mid-March 2020 that stayed 10% higher than 2019 figures for the rest of 2020. Driving under the influence (DUI) violations rose among younger drivers, with a near 50% increase in recorded violations in March-April. Collision claims reduced, but severity rose to a 3.7% year-over-year increase in 2020.

The pandemic saw insurance companies quickly adapting and implementing virtual car insurance claims, setting the path to contactless claims handling. Auto insurance claims dropped by nearly a quarter since the pandemic. With fewer claims, carriers were able to refine their customer experience. The results are still coming in, but the feedback has been positive. Customers who said they “definitely will” renew with their current insurer were higher: 76% during the pandemic versus 72% before.

While digital claims are becoming more mainstream, results show a large number of customers still seek quality customer service without adopting digital tools or want to supplement digital tools with personal interaction. Customers who did not use digital claims tools also experienced a similar level of customer satisfaction. When it comes to claims handling expectations, there seems to be a healthy appetite for both digital tools with artificial intelligence and good old fashioned guidance from real persons. Auto insurance customers want flexible options on how they communicate with their insurers.

Cover Image

You get 3 free articles on Daily Fintech. After that you will need to become a member for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day) and get all our fresh content and our archives and participate in our forum.

https://dailyfintech.com/2021/05/13/in-a-tumultuous-year-for-auto-insurance-customers-seek-better-value/

MAS’s 2021 Global Fintech Hackcelerator Seeks Greener Future for Financial Sector

https://thefintechtimes.com/mass-2021-global-fintech-hackcelerator-seeks-greener-future-for-financial-sector/

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced the commencement of the 6th edition of the Global Fintech Hackcelerator, with this year’s event sporting the overarching theme “Harnessing Technology to Power Green Finance”.

The competition, which is supported by Oliver Wyman, seeks to unlock the potential of fintech in accelerating the development of green finance in Singapore and the wider APAC region.

Fintech firms and solution providers around the world have been invited to submit innovative solutions to address over 50 problem statements that have been collected from financial institutions and green finance industry players.

These problem statements focus on three key challenges:

  • Mobilising Capital
  • Monitoring Commitment
  • Measuring Impact

Up to 15 finalists will be shortlisted for a virtual programme where they will be paired with a Corporate Champion to develop customised prototypes on the API Exchange (APIX), working together to refine and contextualise the solution. Each finalist will also receive a S$20,000 cash stipend and be eligible for a fast-tracked application for the MAS Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme Proof-of-Concept Grant of up to S$200,000.

Finalists will pitch their solutions at the Demo Day held at this year’s Singapore Fintech Festival – the world’s largest fintech festival comprising of key fintech players, technopreneurs, policy makers, financial industry leaders, investors (including private equity players and venture capitalists), and academics. Up to three winners will be selected, with each due to receive S$50,000 in prize money.

Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, MASSopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, MAS
Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, MAS

“Green Fintech can be an important enabler to accelerate Asia’s transition to a low carbon future. It can provide much-needed innovative solutions, and develop the crucial technology stack, which can help promote green financial services, catalyse efficient allocation of green capital, and facilitate trust in the green data value chain,” comments Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of MAS. “I encourage all innovators to make use of this platform and showcase their Green Fintech solutions to the world.”

All fintech firms and solution providers are encouraged to submit their applications for the MAS Global Fintech Hackcelerator by 11 June 2021.

  • 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.

https://thefintechtimes.com/mass-2021-global-fintech-hackcelerator-seeks-greener-future-for-financial-sector/