The $187 billion Citizens plans to increase its technology spend this year although, like other large banks, the bank declines to reveal any numbers. “Overall, it [tech spend] is increasing; we’re definitely spending more year over year,” Michael Ruttledge, chief information officer and head of technology services at Citizens, told Bank Automation News. The reason […]
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.
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, AmirHashmi 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.
“Managing passwords securely can be challenging – especially when we’re all using an ever-growing number of systems, both professionally and personally,” comments JasonDowzell, CEO and Co-Founder of NaturalHR. “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.”
Adding to this, JasonStirland, CTO at DeltaNetInternational 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 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).”
“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.”
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, MichaelCrompton 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:
Make your passwords complex
Have a unique password for every account
Make your passwords long
Be mindful of where you store your passwords
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.”
Digitalization is affecting everything and is accelerated by the pandemic. One area unable to escape this accelerated trend is money. Money inventions have challenged and transformed the structure of the financial system throughout history. Time and again, innovations have sparked disputes about the dangers they represent and the benefits they provide, as well as the role of central banks in fostering financial trust. Not so long ago, cash was more or less the only way to make an immediate purchase. However, we have grown accustomed to using forms of private digital money such as online bank transfers, debit cards, and applications on our smartphones or smart watches.
Editor note: Ilias makes the case for CBDCs as an interim step to a stateless currency like Bitcoin.
There is a big difference between philanthropy/ charity and impact investing. Philanthropy/charity has no revenue model. Such pure giving is needed at the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where the donees have no capacity to pay anything.
Editor note: The big question is whether Fintech only serves big companies or whether it can be used by all of us? Is it Fintech4Us or Fintech4Big&Wealthy? Can the 99% use Fintech to better their lives? Is there a real level playing field?
In general, technology stocks declined substantially on Wall Street in the past year, but insurtech stocks saw major declines. Lemonade fell 78% to a market cap of $2.3 billion, less than its trading day price in July 2020. Hippo crashed 77% since entering the NYSE through a SPAC merger last year, seeing current market cap drop to $1.5 billion from $ 5 billion at the time of the merger. Root, which specializes in car insurance went public in 2020 and lost 88% within a year. Metromile, another American car insurer that went public via a SPAC merger a year ago, lost 87%, and was acquired by Lemonade. Oscar Heath saw its share price collapse by 79% since its March ’21 IPO.
Editor note: this is a timely post as all investors rediscover the V word – valuation
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.
JoseCarvalho, 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.”
RobCameron, 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 TheFintechTimes, 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:
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.
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.
“As climate challenges grow ever more urgent, climate tech innovations are helping to bend the emissions curve and accelerate decarbonisation,” comments LeoJohnson, 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.”
It seems that trouble automatically finds the top dogs at Switzerland’s second largest bank. In the Portuguese bankers case it was COVID restrictions that forced his resignation as Chairman after just nine months. It was his mission to sort out the obvious problems which had arisen under his predecessor. Unfortunately new brooms have to be squeaky clean and very strong when trying to sort out entrenched problems. I have some experience of this as during the late eighties I witnessed first hand the terrible journey that Bank of America made from being a large and sophisticated global bank to becoming a subsidiary of regional minnow North Carolina National Bank . Once the rot has set in it is hard to control and the ultra flat organisational structures of banks together with divisional rivalries and blame games frequently turn cohesive organisations into a sack of hissing vipers. I am not saying that this is what has happened here but it is pretty obvious that it is not a good place to be at the moment.
Lord Agnew resigned from his position as a minister to the treasury and the cabinet office yesterday. For once the peer made clear that the resignation was not something to do with the general malaise in the current government and the chaotic performance of Boris Johnson although I cannot help but feel that the two things are somehow connected. The problem appeared to be the shambolic way in which the various COVID support facilities, bounce back loans etc. were handled by the Treasury and the inevitable losses which have so far reached approximately £ 5 billion and could indeed run much higher. When these facilities were introduced I pointed out that the speed of their introduction would inevitably lead to huge bad debts and that has now proven to be the case. There is a lesson here for all serious lenders. Make sure that you are happy with your levels of diligence when considering the risks. If you don’t get this right a large amount will just not come back. I hope that the government doesn’t try to collect the bad debt themselves. That would almost certainly be an even bigger debacle.
With the bond market signalling problems ahead I think we are going to all be afflicted by the famously appropriate Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”. This particular piece refers to the problems experienced by cruise line operators and at the same time demonstrates the interdependency of global markets through technical things appearing in loan agreements like Cross Default clauses. By this mechanism a problem in one industry quickly filters into another. In this case it is cruise operators and shipbuilders but the problem goes far deeper. We are going to see very large defaults all over the world in the next few years as inflation brings whole economies to their knees. Lenders take note. COVID is hitting cost levels in all businesses and government overreactions to it are making matters worse. It’s not just Putin and Ukraine you need to worry about. Time to put on your tine helmet.
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.”
IncredibleBank is building on its existing Jack Henry partnership by selecting the core provider’s custom automated solution to enhance the bank’s digital account opening and funding processes. The $1.7 billion Wausau, Wisc.-based bank has previously leveraged a range of Jack Henry offerings, including real-time payments solution JHA PayCenter and the Banno Digital Platform. Jack Henry’s […]
In a blog post at the Wealthfront website, company CEO David Fortunato called the acquisition a “strategic partnership” that will enable Wealthfront to offer new services and give its customers access to “UBS’s industry-leading investing insights and research.” Fortunato praised UBS’s new CEO Ralph Hamers, who was appointed to the top spot in the fall of 2020, as a “digital native” who has put the digitization of the Swiss-based multinational firm at the top of his agenda. Fortunato noted that Wealthfront will continue to operate as a standalone business under its own brand after the acquisition.
“Rest assured that nothing will change with your account or the cost of our service,” Fortunato wrote to the company’s customers. “We will continue delivering great products and features to you, now at a much faster pace. And you’ll get access to even more research and insights that can empower you as an investor.”
Founded in 2008 – and making its Finovate debut as kaChing a year later – Wealthfront has grown into a leading online automated investing platform with $27 billion under management and more than 470,000 clients in the U.S. Earlier this month, the company announced a trio of updates to its Smart Beta service, a feature of the company’s U.S. Direct Indexing offering that helps investors optimize their allocations to individual stocks. Last fall, Wealthfront unveiled its Socially Responsible Portfolio, which leverages Modern Portfolio Theory to give investors the ability to put their money where their values are while still earning returns comparable to those available in its Classic Portfolio.
“Adding Wealthfront’s capabilities and client base to our global investment ecosystem will significantly boost our ability to grow our business in the U.S.” UBS’s Hamers said in a statement. “Wealthfront compliments our core business in the U.S. providing wealth management to high net worth and ultra high net worth investors through trusted relationships with financial advisors, and will enhance our long-term ambition to deliver a scalable, digital-led wealth management solution to affluent investors.”
Making its Finovate debut nearly seven years ago (as 3E Software), Teslar Software has become a valued strategic partner for community financial institutions across the United States. The firm’s portfolio management solutions aggregate and automate both lending and deposit operations into a single system, enabling them to scale and enhance processes throughout the institution.
Just this week, the Springdale, Arkansas-based company announced its latest partnership, teaming up with Tennessee’s Legends Bank who will use Teslar’s full suite of automated workflow and portfolio management tools to streamline and centralize its commercial lending business. Legends Bank joins The First, Jefferson Security Bank, and Bank First – community banks that have announced collaborations with Teslar over the past few weeks and months.
We caught up with Teslar Software’s Solutions Specialist, VP, Amy Berger to talk about the company’s recent progress in helping banks improve their commercial lending operations, and which trends in financial services she expects to dominate in 2022.
Tell us about yourself and your experience in financial services.
Amy Berger: My experience in financial services has been in the banking industry, with a focus on business lending. I began my career with a commercial finance company, but have spent nearly the last 20 years in community banking. I’ve worked as a commercial lender, in credit administration, SBA lending management, and have extensive M&A experience. I’ve consistently been active with the credit system side of things.
I first became acquainted with the fintech space when centralizing commercial and consumer lending functions for a bank. That was actually the first time I came in contact with Teslar Software, a provider of portfolio management tools that aggregate and automate lending and deposit operations for community financial institutions. Years later, and I have come full circle, joining Teslar Software as the VP, solutions specialist.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing business lending today?
Berger: The most notable business lending challenges and opportunities fall into the same bucket: the need for community banks to understand the needs of and be responsive to their customers and businesses within their communities. This raises potentially tricky questions such as how to efficiently provide those services while still delivering speed and a high touch service approach for your customers.
Bankers were forced to really address this question head on over the last two years and many have embraced technology in meaningful ways. With modern technology, banks are discovering how to provide both convenient, digital experiences and a personal connection to customers within commercial lending. I only expect this trend to grow this year and beyond.
How does Teslar help institutions support their small businesses?
Berger: Teslar Software aggregates and automates lending and deposit operations processes into a single system, enabling institutions to improve efficiencies and seamlessly scale. With Teslar, banks are able to spend less time on tedious, paper-based processes and more time growing their portfolios and building more meaningful customer relationships.
Teslar is laser focused on helping institutions provide a fully digital experience across commercial and SBA lending. We truly believe there is a significant market gap here and, if approach correctly, such digitization can empower banks to grow and compete with greater visibility and speed.
What advice do you have for women looking to grow professionally in this male-dominated industry?
Berger: Stay true to what you’re passionate about and don’t be afraid to contribute. Ask questions. Raise your hand. Use your voice. This may sound quite simple, but it can make all the difference for women looking to grow and thrive in the industry.
What financial service trends can be expected in the new year?
Berger: Thanks to the range of options made available by fintechs, digitization is no longer just for the large national banks; it’s now within everyone’s reach. It’s prime time for community and regional banks to fully embrace digital transformation wherever they can. To effectively do so must involve integrating systems to streamline business processes and deliver products and services quickly. The community banking space has proven time and again the value they provide, and I don’t expect that momentum to slow down any time soon.
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 OrenBarzilai. “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.”
Tech labor costs are an “elephant in the room” for technology companies and banks. While that’s true for Capital One, the $432.4 billion bank may face “more of a headwind” with regard to the tech talent shortage, CEO Rich Fairbank said during this week’s earnings call. “I want to savor that for a second,” Fairbanks […]
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).
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.
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.
Mastercard, the global payments company, has marked a new milestone in the Middle East and Africa as it, alongside NetworkInternational, 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 KhalidElgibali, 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 AndrewKey, 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.
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.
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.
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 n-gage.io, 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 n-gage.io’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.
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.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, 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 www.fintechawardslondon.com.
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.
In light of this, here MarcPell, 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.
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.
According to the CEO of Openbank and Santander Consumer Finance, EzequielSzafir: “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.”