Fifth Third Bank hiring 1,000 customer service agents amid surge in calls

Fifth Third Bank hiring 1,000 customer service agents amid surge in calls

Fifth Third Bank planst to hire 1,000 customer service employees in its retail branches, mortgage and operations, including its Cincinnati headquarters, as the COVID-19 pandemic plaes additional pressure on banks that are limiting in-person branch access and customers seek hardship aid from financial institutions. 

“Our Fifth Third customers and communities need us more than ever during these uncertain times and we will continue to be here for them,” Greg Carmichael, chairman, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank, said in a press release. “I’m proud of the extraordinary service our employees are providing each day.”

The bank is hiring for 500 positions in retail banking, 350 in mortgage sales and support and 100 in operations. The bank has a starting wage of $18 an hour, with comprehensive benefits and is paying a $1,000 in special payments for certain on-site hires before May 10. The bank, which has about 20,000 employees, has experienced an increase in customer service calls since the pandemic forced many companies to begin social distancing policies, according to a spokesman. 

The bank has closed retail bank lobbies for general access and has moved most of its bank operations to mobile, telephone, drive-thru or its network of 53,000 no-fee ATMs. The bank is offering appointments for customers with more complex transactions that can’t be handled remotely. 

Fifth Third Bank has $169 billion in assets and 1,149 full service banking branches, as well as 2,481 Fifth Third Bank branded ATMs across several states in the Midwest and Southeast.

Cover image: Fifth Third Bank

Topics: ATM & Mobile Banking, Coronavirus / COVID-19

Companies: Fifth Third Bancorp, Fifth Third Bank

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European Commission presses on with fintech strategy, launching two new consultations

The European Commission has just launched two new consultations. One will inform a new five-year “Digital Finance Strategy” to follow its 2018 Fintech Action Plan. The other will contribute to the EU’s first “Retail Payments Strategy”. Both are likely to attract interest from incumbent and new financial players alike. They are open for input until 26 June 2020. 

Two new consultations

The European Commission is seeking input on its proposals for an EU-wide digital finance strategy and retail payments strategy. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the Commission highlights that these come at a time when the need for well-regulated digital infrastructure is greater than ever. They follow recent consultations on crypto-assets and operational resilience, which have now closed for comment. 

Consultation on a digital finance strategy

This consultation is intended to contribute to a new Digital Finance Strategy / Fintech Action Plan for the next five years. According to the EC, all actions in its previous Fintech Action Plan have now been completed. Based on prior work, including the ROFIEG report, the Commission has identified four priority areas:

  • Ensuring the regulatory framework is fit for the digital age. For example, it is seeking views on how to ensure regulation is both technology-neutral and innovation-friendly and on the challenge of regulating a broadening range of firms (including fintechs and big techs).
  • Capitalising on the opportunities of the EU single market. It is particularly focused on how to reduce fragmentation, for the benefit of both firms and consumers.
  • Promoting a well-regulated data-driven financial sector. In this regard, it is seeking views on how best to build on both general cross-sector data regulation (e.g. GDPR) as well as sector-specific data-sharing initiatives such as open banking.
  • Enhancing the digital operational resilience of the EU financial system.

This new consultation invites input on the first three areas. The fourth area has been addressed by the consultation on operational resilience.

Consultation on a retail payments strategy

This consultation is intended to contribute to a new Retail Payments Strategy for the EU. This strategy is intended to ensure the EU’s policies towards payments are developed with a view to strengthening its influence and economic autonomy. For example, the Commission wants to create an environment in which European payment solutions can thrive and notes that this could “facilitate payments in euro between the EU and other jurisdictions and reduce EU dependency on global players, such as international card schemes, issuers of global ‘stablecoins’ and other big techs”.

It has outlined four key objectives:

  • Better pan-European payment solutions. The Commission’s goal is “fast, convenient, safe, affordable and transparent payment instruments, with pan-European reach and ‘same as domestic’ customer experience”. It is seeking views on how best to facilitate “instant” payments and digital identity solutions that work across the EU and on how to promote a diverse range of payment options (including cash).
  • An innovative and competitive retail payments market. In this regard, it is seeking evidence on how the European legislative framework for retail payments (including PSD2 and EMD2) has been working. It is also considering future payment solutions and asks whether and how it should facilitate “programmable money”.
  • Access to safe, efficient and interoperable retail payments systems and other support infrastructures. It seeks views on how to ensure European payment systems are fully interoperable and on creating a level playing field for bank and non-bank payment services providers in accessing payment systems, among other things.
  • Improved cross-border payments, including remittances. Finally, it wants to improve cross-border payments between the EU and other jurisdictions. It notes that reducing the costs of cross-border payments in euro should also contribute to enhancing the international role of the euro. 
Next steps

Both consultations are open for input until 26 June 2020. The final strategies are due to be published in Q3 2020.

Breaking Banks, Silos, or Networks: which is harder?

 is the founder
Pylarinou Advisory
and a Fintech/Blockchain
influencer – No.3
influencer in the finance
sector by

Refinitiv Global Social Media

In innovation, we frequently talk about `Breaking Silos`, one of
my favorite cross-disciplinary topics. This past weekend (unusually
warm and sunny creating the temptation to be outside) I was ironing
as there is no cleaning lady anymore and listening to
Episode 19 of `Breaking Banks Europe`
. This one was hosted by
Matteo Rizzi and Spiros Margaris and with an Ecosystem Zoom into
Luxembourg. And who better to discuss this with, than Nasir
Zubairi, the CEO of The
– the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology.

I recalled meeting briefly Nasir for the first time at SIBOS in
Geneva in September 2016, before he had given birth and baptized
LHoFT. [ SIBOS size conventions may take really long to happen
again if they ever happen in that globalized format.] Today we are
looking at 4 years of an important ecosystem stakeholder, The
LHoFT, whose role in Luxembourg has been vital. Luxembourg is like
perfumes that come in small bottles and has distinct top global
roles in the fund industry, in green finance, and microfinance (to
name a few). As a result, Regtech is a big focus for the LHoFT,
especially around anything related to funds. We can actually think
of Luxembourg as a predominantly B2B fintech hub with an interest
in fund administration technologies, payments (always a core
component of finance), and lately blockchain for capital markets.
Nasir mentioned a few names of Blockchain4Finance companies in
Luxembourg during the podcast, like Tokeny, StokR, FundsDLT which are focused on
Tokenization. Such companies are leading the way for the evolution
of Capital markets which includes the fund industry.

FundsDLT is a homegrown
initiative that I have covered before (Sep 2019) in `Two
live Blockchain use cases in Mutual Funds administration and four
` along with Calastone and other cases. Just last month

FundsDLT announced the closing of a Series A investment
develop a Decentralized platform for fund distribution.
Clearstream, Credit Suisse Asset Management, and Natixis Investment
Managers were the investors that joined the seed investor the
Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

Nasir also highlighted The LHoFT
3rd cohort which is focused on African Fintechs for
financial inclusion.

Catapult: Inclusion Africa 2020

► A-Trader –

► A-Trader –

► CinetPay – Côte

► Dundiza – Tanzania

► Esusu – Nigeria

► Eversend – France

► Exuus – Rwanda

► OZÉ – US &

► PaddyCover –

► People’s
Pension Trust – Ghana

► Pezesha – Kenya

► SmartTeller –

► SympliFi – United

► uKheshe – South Africa
& UK

Zooming out of Luxembourg as a Fintech ecosystem

Nasir`s tweet from last week about the persistent use of Fax
machines in financial services, highlights that it is difficult to
Break the network effects that are ingrained in financial services.
Calastone confirms the challenges from the use of fax machines in
fund distribution, during this global abruptly forces shift to
remote working.

we have been busy the past 3 weeks helping
distributors who no longer have access to their fax setup a direct
link into our network and giving them access to the TA’s and
asset managers from their laptops via our EMS tool

— Louis Wright (@LouisWr96015371)
April 2, 2020

The Global Fax market is growing. Part of it is on the Cloud but
a significant part of it stubbornly uses standalone fax machines.
Business workflows are networks that cannot be easily Broken. If
your supplier, or customer, or service provider uses-requires a
Fax, you will too. Breaking those networks is very hard. If we
don’t manage to get rid of fax machines during this crisis, when
will we?

A 2017 IDC report
on the Fax market showed that 36% of fax
volume (monthly pages) was sent or received using standalone fax
machines, which is more than the fax volume sent or received using
all other fax technologies.

Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 11.24.31

The same report showed how the West (naturally) has Fax networks
that stronger and more difficult to break. In North America, for
example, 88% of respondents expect fax usage to grow or remain

Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 11.26.47

Finance is not as bad as manufacturing in terms projected usage
of Fax. However, a 20% increases was projected.

Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 11.28.37

The top reasons of usage and expected growth of usage are

  • Fax is an integral part of workflow – Networks
  • Fax is evolving and integrateable with email –
  • Fax is secure, compliant and with a verifiable receipt –
    Compliance, Traceability

Culture eats software. While innovations in Regtech and
Blockchain for Capital markets are advancing, those pushing these
innovations are challenged by a financial world that uses Faxes for
trade confirmations of all sorts of assets, fo receiving mortgage
and all kinds of loan applications, processing claim forms in
insurance etc.

Breaking business flow networks that operate in a certain way,
is difficult.

New readers can see 3 free articles before getting the Daily
Fintech paywall. After that you will need to become
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Breaking Banks, Silos, or Networks: which is harder?
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VC firms, startups face headwinds with SBA loans

As small businesses race to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans from the Small Business Administration, many venture capital firms and startups are figuring out how they can participate, if at all.  “We have companies that would fall into the category of benefiting from the [SBA] program,” said Karim Gillani, general partner at the Luge …Read More

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Wells Fargo says Fed cap is limiting small-business relief

Wells Fargo & Co. said it can’t fully meet demand from small businesses rushing to participate in a U.S. relief program because of constraints imposed by the Federal Reserve on the bank’s growth.

The company has capacity to lend $10 billion to small-business clients under the $349 billion U.S. program, but customers already have expressed more interest than that, Wells Fargo said in a statement late Sunday. The firm will therefore focus on helping nonprofits and businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

“While we are actively working to create balance-sheet capacity to lend, we are limited in our ongoing ability to use our strong capital and liquidity position to extend additional credit,” Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf said in the statement. “We are committed to helping our customers during these unprecedented and challenging times, but are restricted in our ability to serve as many customers as we would like.”

The situation may ratchet up pressure on the Fed to ease the unprecedented asset cap it imposed on the nation’s fourth-largest bank in 2018 in response to mounting scandals at the company. As the coronavirus pandemic began, the firm — a leading lender to small and midsize U.S. companies, homebuyers and commercial-property investors — had about $384 billion of additional lending capacity that it can’t unleash because of the cap.

Read more: Wells Fargo has $384 billion of lending power stymied by Fed cap

As markets swooned and commerce slowed this year, Wells Fargo’s representatives privately broached the idea of at least temporarily lifting the restriction so it could help more customers. The Fed has yet to publicly disclose a decision.

People with knowledge of the situation told Bloomberg in late March that the regulator was reluctant to ease or lift the cap because the bank has yet to fully address concerns that prompted the sanction. Scharf, who took over in October, has made progress in enacting reforms, but the company must still prove it’s done enough to prevent abuses of customers, the people said.

Friday was the first day that American small businesses hit by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could start applying for loans under the new U.S. program. It was part of the $2 trillion stimulus package Congress passed last month aimed at shoring up the economy.

Scharf noted in the statement that Wells Fargo already extended almost $70 billion in new and increased commitments and outstanding loans to consumers, small businesses and corporations in the U.S. last month. The firm also said it plans to donate the fees it generates from the small-business stimulus program.

Steve Troutner, Wells Fargo’s head of small business, instructed employees to suggest customers apply elsewhere to increase their chances of getting a loan before the stimulus money runs out, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg.

“We are hopeful that despite the restrictions of Wells Fargo’s asset cap, our customers will be able to get the help they need, either from us or through other lenders as we all navigate together through this time,” Troutner said in the memo.

(Updates with details, contents of internal memo beginning in eighth paragraph.)

Banking app Dave ‘on the hunt’ for remote work opportunities

Banking platform Dave is increasing its integrations with remote work employers as the coronavirus pandemic keeps consumers home, resulting in a hard-hit gig economy and freelance workforce. In a recent survey of more than 7,000 Dave users, 21% said they expected their pay to be cut in half and 18% said their pay would be …Read More

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Open Banking in the Same Language

What happens when third party fintechs try to access banking data on behalf of their consumers, but each way has a different way of doing so?

That’s exactly what’s happening in the U.S. right now, and it’s a major factor in preventing the country from adopting an open banking culture. In an era when consumers conduct their banking activities with multiple providers, open banking not only safeguards consumer data but also places them in control of how they want their data used and for how long.

Speaking different languages

The lack of a consistent approach is also the reason why customers of some U.S. banks have been locked out of third party applications such as Robinhood and Digit. While these customers were prevented from using their own banking data, banks had good reason to lock out the third party providers, citing security concerns. Our piece Are U.S. Banks Leaning Towards Closed Banking? covers the drama in more detail.

What’s needed is a standardized regulation for data sharing. Banks can’t trust third parties and what they may do with customer data. With new regulations such as CCPA and GDPR, banks are required to keep track of how their clients’ data is used. Once a third party possesses customer data, the bank can no longer guarantee it will be used and stored properly.

Aligning the approach

So how does the fintech industry get everyone on the same page when it comes to data sharing?

The Financial Data Exchange (FDX) was created to solve that very same problem. “FDX is member-driven and governed by majority vote and we’re united by a common mission and purpose: providing secure and convenient financial data sharing,” said FDX Managing Director Don Cardinal. “Our Working Groups are inclusive, transparent and benefit from our members’ decades of experience and professionalism.”

FDX is a non-profit organization that is creating what is essentially a playbook of data communications rules for banks and third party fintechs. FDX currently counts 102 organizations– only two thirds of which are banks– that vote on an agreed upon global standard for data sharing.

Keeping the end consumer in mind

Importantly, FDX not only helps its member organizations speak the same language, the alignment trickles down to benefit end consumers as well. That’s because FDX helps place consumers in control of their own data, allowing them to decide which organizations can use their data and for how long. Aiding in this transparency, some banks have created dashboards that allow customers to view and edit which apps have access to their data.

To promote more consumer awareness, FDX is working to create a certification stack that would indicate to consumers whether a bank, fintech, or organization is part of FDX. You can think of this similar to a bluetooth logo on a device that informs consumers that a product has undergone the Bluetooth Qualification Program.

So when can we expect mainstream adoption of FDX?

“While we cannot give an exact date, we know from similar innovations (online banking, billpay, mobile banking, EMV chip cards) that we are moving from the Innovator to the Early Adopter stage and that acceleration of adoption will accelerate once we pass the mid-market peak,” said Cardinal. “To date, our members have moved nearly 12 million U.S. consumers over to the FDX API.”

Chime is Making Up for the U.S. Government’s Slow Stimulus Payments

With many U.S. citizens out of work these days, some are struggling to put food on the table. Recognizing this need, the U.S. government has agreed to come to their aid by issuing $1,200 checks to every adult earning less than $75,000 per year and $500 per child. The actualization of this effort, however, has been slow. While some families haven’t been able to work in weeks, they will not receive their check for another two-to-three weeks.

Because of this lag time, U.S. challenger bank Chime is supporting its user base by helping select members access their stimulus money early. So far, the bank has provided a group of randomly selected 1,000 of its members that meet certain criteria to immediately receive an additional $1,200 in their account while they wait for the government’s funds to come through.

“…these randomly selected members will have access to spend an amount equaling their estimated government payment 2-3 weeks early and be able to use that money right away on everyday needs such as groceries and bill payments with their Chime card,” the company noted in its blog post announcement.

The California-based company is using SpotMe, Chime’s free overdraft protection service that allows eligible users to hold a negative balance of up to $100 while they wait for their next paycheck. Instead of charging interest on this microloan, however, Chime requests users to “pay it forward.” As stated on the company’s website, “When your SpotMe negative balance is repaid, we’ll give you the option to leave us an optional tip to pay it forward. Whether or not you tip won’t affect your SpotMe eligibility. SpotMe is a fee-free service, and friendly tips from our community help it stay that way!”

So who is funding all of this? Chime is leveraging its relationships with The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, as well as its investors (and specifically Mark Cuban), to forward the funds.

With a valuation of $5.8 billion as of December 2019, Chime has raised nearly $809 million. Last fall, rumors indicated that the company had 5 million customers and CNBC reported last December that Chime was adding 150,000 accounts each month.

Chase virtual sessions up 5x since COVID-19 outbreak

 JPMorgan Chase has executed almost 150,000 concurrent virtual sessions in the past few weeks which, according to CEO Jamie Dimon, is nearly five times the usual number of such sessions as before the COVID-19 crisis.  “We are ensuring [employees] continue to operate at the highest standards with the proper technological tools and access so they …Read More

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Yapily Locks in $13 Million in New Funding

Open banking platform for Fortune 500 companies like IBM, Yapily has picked up $13 million (€12 million) in Series A funding. The round was led by Lakestar and takes the company’s total capital to $18 million. Also participating in the funding were existing investors HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and LocalGlobe, as well as angel investors including TransferWise’s Taavet Hinrikus and Twilio’s Ott Kaukve.

This week’s funding comes a year after the company’s last capital infusion – a seed investment of $5.4 million. Yapily will use the new funds to help support adoption of open banking by institutions across Europe.

Based in London and founded in 2017 by former Goldman Sachs executive Stefano Vaccino, Yapily helps drive open banking adoption by connecting banks to fintechs and other financial services providers. The company notes that its recurring revenues have grown by more than 5x over the past six months. Yapily also has increased the size of its London office to 45 employees, and expanded into Italy, Ireland, and France.

“We believe open banking is a force for good. Using our API and infrastructure, we’re not only providing our partners with strong and powerful connectivity to boost their user experiences,” Vaccino said. “But we’re also giving their customers, whether they be customers or businesses, greater control of their finances, through the creation of products and services which can fuel greater financial management and accessibility.”

Vaccino added that this flexibility for institutions and developers was especially valuable “during this period of uncertainy.” This point was echoed by Lakestar partner Stephen Nundy who cited the COVID-19 outbreak in crediting Yapily’s technology as being “best placed” to support financial innovation that drives business growth “across the financial ecosystem.”

In addition to IBM, Yapily includes GoCardless and Intuit Quickbooks among its customers.

UK consumers put strong technology as main appeal for banks
UK consumers are placing strong technology as their
biggest priority for banking, but digital banks need to be clear
with their value offering to capitalise on this, according to Vilve
Vene, CEO and co-founder of core banking platform

In new research on the UK’s financial space, the FinTech
platform found that more than 90% of UK consumers claim a strong
technology offering is important to them when choosing who to bank
with. The survey, which comprised of responses from 2,000 UK
consumers, stated the technology was more important than interest
rates, with only 88% of respondents citing it as an important
The reason for this desire for robust technology comes from
the fact technology is being deeply ingrained in our daily lives.
“As consumers we are receptive to these advances which continue
to enhance our working and personal lives,” said
. “Let’s take the example of the growth of
neobanks. These 100 percent-digital banks have grown in popularity
because banking is an everyday essential for people and they
recognise the value of having a strong banking technology offering
which caters for their needs.”

The coronavirus has increased the demand of online banking
services, as people are being told to stay indoors, keeping them
from visiting their branches.  With the UK’s Chancellor of the
Exchequer,  Rishi Sunak, giving people a three-month holiday on
their mortgages people have been spending hours on the phone trying
to contact their bank, simply because many traditional financial
institutions have no other means of communicating with
customers, Vene stated.

However, there is banking technology available which would
enable consumers to apply for changes with a single click and for
banks to handle them internally just as easily, she stated.

With the current situation, digital banks are in a great place
to acquire more customers. People are clearly looking for strong
technology-based solutions and lengthy phone calls trying to
contact their bank in this time could see them look towards a neo
bank. However, Vene believes they need to really consider what
their actual value offering means in terms of service as many
offerings in the market at the moment are very similar.

“What is crucial for these banks now is to differentiate
themselves by introducing more complex, new services that are easy
to use and which add real value to customers. Only by doing this
can these neobanks become a true banking partner for their
customers (currently they may have significant numbers of
customers, but these customers only use a fraction of the available
services in their everyday banking).”

If challenger banks do not act fast, they will miss the
opportunity. Customers are typically loyal and if incumbents do act
quickly and implement strong technology, Vene believes they would
likely retain their customers.

In Modularbank’s
it also found that consumers are no longer worried about
the brand of a bank or creating personal in-branch relationships
with staff. Only 68% of people cared about the brand and 47% of
people want to have a personal relationship in-branch.

On a scale of 1-10 (with one being unimportant and 10 being
extremely) 80% of consumers voted six or above when asked how
important technology and a digital offering is in banking.
Furthermore, 53% claimed they would be happy if they never had to
visit their bank’s branch again.

People are becoming more opening to non-branded banks. Brands
are not important, instead financial institution need to gain the
trust of the consumer that their savings and operations are safe
and secure.

“The need for physical branches becomes totally obsolete since
the banking services they provide can be done more conveniently and
efficiently online. This does not mean that there will not be a
client manager in banks anymore, this just means that the
operations that actually do not need human contact will take place
without it,” Vene added.

“I personally have run several companies and handled all my
personal banking over the past ten years without visiting my bank
branch even once, however, I still feel that I have a personal
relationship with them and my worries are all handled with

Estonia-based Modularbank offers financial institutions with
technology which can integrate with existing systems and offer
seamless digital banking experiences. Vene said, “Technology
really is the key to attracting and retaining a customer’s
business in the banking world.”

While Vene does not believe banking will be fully digital within
five years, she does see everything shifting that way. Furthermore,
banking will become more embedded into our daily lives to the point
where it could become “invisible” in the extent that people
will not consider certain processes as banking services. She said,
“This is in fact already a reality, in the form of ‘buy now,
pay later’ products already offered by many retailers. To the
consumer, these are retail services, yet they are still financed by
banks. In the future, more and more retailers will be offering
services to help finance purchases – and these will be set up and
run entirely via technology.”

The post
UK consumers put strong technology as main appeal for banks

appeared first on The
Fintech Times

Tink Acquires Spanish Account Aggregation Provider, Eurobits Technologies

Open banking platform Tink
continues its expansion across Europe with the acquisition of
Eurobits Technologies (Eurobits)— a leading provider of account
aggregation services, powering over 50 banks and fintechs such as
BBVA, Santander,
Sabadell and Fintonic.

The acquisition will strengthen Tink’s bank connectivity
coverage and its market position in Southern Europe. After the
acquisition, Tink’s open banking platform will cover 17

The acquisition complements Tink’s organic growth strategy to
enhance its platform, increase connectivity and expand its product
offering. The acquisition of Eurobits builds on the €90 million
investment secured in January 2020 and will see Tink increase its
bank and financial institution connectivity in 17 markets,
predominantly in Europe and in Latin America. Eurobits brings
significant international fintech and banking customers, including
BBVA, Santander, Bankia, Sabadell, Fintonic, Telefonica, National
Bank of Greece and La Banque Postale (France).

Eurobits serves some of the largest fintechs and financial
institutions across Europe, providing connectivity to bank account
information for banks, fintechs and payment providers. The account
aggregation services provider, founded in 2004 and headquartered in
Madrid, is renowned for its strong partnerships with many leading
banks and fintechs in Spain. Eurobits is live with customers in 11
markets, handling more than 50 million account aggregation requests
every month.

In addition to its European focus, Eurobits also serves
customers with account aggregation services in Mexico, Chile,
Colombia, Argentina and Peru.

Eurobits’ 54 employees will become part of the Tink team.


Arturo Gonzalez Mac Dowell, CEO, Eurobits,
: “Tink is undoubtedly one of the most innovative
companies within open banking. Joining forces with them to help
expand their coverage across Europe and Latin America is a unique
opportunity, not only for both of our businesses, but for the
broader industry as a whole. We cannot wait to join forces with
Tink to create an even stronger European market leader in open


Daniel Kjellén, co-founder and CEO, Tink,
: “We are extremely impressed by the Eurobits
team, what they have built and their very strong position in
Southern Europe. This acquisition is part of our ongoing investment
into our pan-European open banking platform that through this move
will be live in 17 markets. Not only does it strengthen our
platform through increased connectivity, it also gives existing
Eurobits customers access to our payment initiation and data
services. We look forward to coming together with Eurobits to
enhance the connectivity and open banking technology for Europe’s
banks, fintechs and startups.”


Ana Climente Alarcón, Head of Open Banking, BBVA Spain,
“Open banking is transforming finance –
increasing financial inclusion, and helping our clients have a
bird’s eye view of every aspect of their financial lives in one
place. Tink and Eurobits joining forces is a significant moment in
the industry, with two leaders in the open banking space coming
together with a common vision of making open banking more
accessible for everyone.”


Tink acquires Eurobits for €15.5 million. The acquisition is
conditional upon approval from the national competent

Tink’s technology and connectivity already power some of the
world’s leading banks and fintechs, including PayPal, Klarna,
NatWest, ABN AMRO and BNP Paribas. The open banking platform is
also used by more than 5,000 developers. Founded in 2012 and
headquartered in Stockholm, Tink is currently serving its clients
out of local offices in London, Paris, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Warsaw,
Madrid, Copenhagen, Milan, Oslo and Lisbon.

The post
Tink Acquires Spanish Account Aggregation Provider, Eurobits
appeared first on The Fintech Times.

Kickstart opens for applications for a new cohort of later-stage tech startups

Swiss Open Innovation Platform facilitates unique access to one of Europe’s most innovative markets.

Kickstart, one of Europe’s largest innovation platforms, is welcoming applications for the fifth iteration of its annual B2B scale-up programme aimed at late-stage start-ups interested in entering the Swiss market.

Around 100 entrepreneurs will join the three-month programme in September to connect and create specific pilots and commercial projects with one of Kickstart’s 50 corporate and public sector partners, which include businesses like AXA, Roche, Credit Suisse and Lafarge Holcim.

“What we found really valuable about the Kickstart was not just the advice and support we received throughout, but the high-level access we were given to some of Switzerland’s top businesses,” said Vic Arulchandran, co-founder from FinTech Nivaura and format Kickstart participant.In three months, Kickstart opened doors for us that would have taken three years on our own.

Kickstart welcomes applications from all over the world and is particularly keen to hear from businesses applying deep tech to one of its five key verticals: EdTech & New Work, FinTech & InsurTech, Food & Retail, HealthTech, and Smart City & Technology. This year for the first time there will be a strong focus on the Circular Economy across the whole programme.

Successful applicants will connect closely with executives from leading Swiss corporations, universities, municipalities, foundations and other partners to develop innovative partnerships that solve real business challenges. Participants will learn about business development and scaling in the Swiss market.

“Switzerland is a very attractive market for later-stage startups: We are regularly recognised as a world leader for innovation and our leading organisations have a big appetite for new technologies and solutions,explains Katka Letzing, Co-Founder of Kickstart.

“It can be challenging for aspiring entrants to gain access to the Swiss market, and promising opportunities for collaboration can be lost. Kickstart aims to overcome this hurdle by bridging the gap between startups and organisations, allowing them to tackle real-world solutions and to innovate together.”

Kickstart is a spin-off of Impact Hub Zurich and was founded by digitalswitzerland. To date, it has been supported by more than 140 of Switzerland’s biggest businesses, enabling the programme to be offered free of charge and to take no equity in participating startups.

For more information, and to apply, please visit:  The window for applications closes on 4th May 2020.

S.O.S – Save Our Start-ups

Over the weekend I found out about a great initiative from a team dedicated to the support and encouragement of entrepreneurs. Crowdcube has launched the “Save Our Start-ups” campaign, with an open letter to Boris Johnson outlining what needs to be done to protect Britain’s entrepreneurial future from the economic crisis caused by Covid-19.

This morning I had a call with Luke Lang, Co-founder & CMO at Crowdcube, we both have a real passion to support entrepreneurs, and I, with The Fintech Times have offered to support the programme in any way we can. This is and is going to continue to be a very difficult time for both early stage start-ups, scale-ups and high growth companies. The UK government has been surprisingly quick to react with economic stimulus, however, there are many start-ups that will be overlooked with the various schemes.

A Virgin start-up report, “The Start-up Low Down” back in 2019 told us that start-ups contribute £196 billion to the UK economy every year, this is something that needs to be saved. The UK Government must act now to protect Britain’s entrepreneurial future so we do not lose a generation of startups and high growth businesses to COVID-19.

Hence, I and everyone at The Fintech Times are pledging our support to the S.O.S Save Our Start-ups campaign. Read the open letter via the website but more importantly sign the petition #sign-petition


This is an opportunity for founders, employees, shareholders, customers and the wider ecosystem supporting Britain’s startup and high growth businesses to tell the UK Government what needs to be done to protect their future.

An open letter to Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK:

Britain has a proud history of innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship. However, today’s entrepreneurs are being forgotten during the Covid-19 crisis, which threatens their existence. We all want a swift end to this health crisis but we also desperately need to protect the future of our economy during these challenging times.

Today, there are almost 30,000 startup and high-growth businesses in the UK who employ nearly 330,000 people*. These businesses are making a huge contribution to the economy but are often yet to make a profit because they are investing in their people, technology and bringing innovative products and services to market. They are highly unlikely to qualify for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which was introduced to provide financial support for SMEs during this pandemic.

The French and German Governments have already worked to craft support that can help their startup ecosystems through the crisis. This three point plan outlines what needs to be done to protect Britain’s startup and high growth businesses:

  1. The Government needs to provide an equity based liquidity package suitable to save startups at risk. While the CBILS covers a proportion of UK businesses, the majority of startups and high-growth companies will be excluded and as a result, unsupported. Without support, thousands of startups will fold in the coming months. The Government should provide a fresh capital injection for startup and high growth businesses through an equity-based solution.
  2. The Government must fast track payments to startups from public funding schemes – in particular R&D tax credits and Innovate UK funding grants. Private sector liquidity has taken a major hit during the crisis with angels and micro-funds unable to provide startups and high growth businesses with bridging money. It is within the Government’s power to provide these companies with immediate liquidity by expediting the release of these funds.
  3. The Government must change EIS, SEIS and VCTs to stimulate private equity investment into startup and high growth businesses. Startups are in freefall as they have been left without any debt or equity support. They will need to be able to access more investment from existing investors through Government schemes. If companies and investors are going to recover from this time of great uncertainty, they need a much stronger incentive than currently exists.

*Source: Beauhurst

Signicat acquires Dutch Identity Specialist Connectis to create Europe’s strongest digital identity platform

The combined entity will accelerate Signicat’s share of the identity verification market—worth $15 billion by 2024

  Signicat, the Trusted Digital Identity™ company, has acquired digital identity specialist Connectis, to create the strongest digital identity platform in the European market.

Connectis was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Rotterdam with an office in Bucharest, Romania. Connectis primarily delivers digital identity solutions to customers in the Netherlands, particularly organisations in the public sector, health care, insurance and financial services. The company has 52 employees in total.

Connectis develops secure solutions for online identification, authentication and authorisation for more than 350 organisations to identify over 14 million customers. Its products include:

  • Connectis Identity Broker: With connections to multiple electronic identities, such as eHerkenning, iDIN, DigiD, and more.
  • Connectis Identity & Access Management (CIAM): A comprehensive, yet fast and user-friendly CIAM solution.
  • We-ID eRecognition tokens (eID): A standardised login system supplied as certified supplier in a public-private partnership with the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.

As society continues to move online and interactions between consumers, businesses and institutions are becoming predominantly digital and increasingly mobile-first, trust is at a premium. Reducing fraud, and meeting regulatory requirements around digital identification, verification and recurring authentication ensures transactions can proceed with a stronger degree of trust. The identity verification market alone is set to be worth $15 billion by 2024 (Goode Intelligence, 2019).

Signicat’s and Connectis’ combined expertise forms a strong collaboration from which to continue to drive and shape the digital identity industry in Europe. Signicat’s heritage in the Nordics and Connectis’ footprint in Benelux, particularly in the government and healthcare sector, will be instrumental in developing solutions that tackle some of the most complex digital identity challenges. The combined entity will focus on helping organisations looking to streamline online business while reducing risk and meeting a range of regulations such as KYC and AML. The combined offering now represents the most comprehensive digital identity solution on the market.

“The adoption of digital identity in the Netherlands and Belgium has been impressive, and we are very pleased with now expanding our operations in the region,” states Asger Hattel, CEO of Signicat. “With Connectis joining Signicat, we are not only expanding our reach and customer base, we are creating Europe’s strongest digital identity platform. We are really looking forward to working together and to offer existing and new customers an even stronger digital identity offering.”

“It’s time for Connectis to take the next step, towards a prominent role on the European market.said Jeroen de Bruijn, CEO, Connectis. “By joining forces with Signicat, we really have the expertise, scale and competence to be a European market leader. We are looking forward to jointly serving customers a market-leading offering and driving innovation in the market.”

“Nordic Capital acquired Signicat a year ago with the ambition to support and accelerate its international expansion and strengthen its position as a leading digital identity platform. This acquisition is an important step to deliver even better digital identity solutions to the market, and Nordic Capital is enthusiastic about supporting Signicat’s continued growth journey in Europe,said Fredrik Näslund, Partner, Nordic Capital Advisors.

Connectis’ previous owners, SIDN and 2050 Foundation, have reinvested in the combined entity, providing a further endorsement in Signicat’s future.

Greater Manchester has largest regional FinTech ecosystem [Report] & [Map]
A new report from Whitecap Consulting has found Greater Manchester is home to a thriving and growing FinTech sector, which (outside London) is the largest regional FinTech ecosystem in England.

The report, based on research completed before the Coronavirus outbreak, is the first formal published analysis of the FinTech ecosystem of the Greater Manchester region. It was supported and co-funded by a number of organisations including Alliance Business School, BJSS, CMS,FinTech North,Infinity Works, Innovate Finance,MIDAS, and The University of Manchester.

The new report has identified and researched 39 FinTech startups and scaleups that are within the Greater Manchester ecosystem, which is the largest number of all the regional FinTech ecosystems assessed by Whitecap Consulting to date.

49% of these firms are scaleups, which is also the highest proportion identified in any region. The report also finds 109 firms active in FinTech in the region, including established financial organisations, tech firms, as well as the FinTech startups and scaleups.

Almost 8,000 people are estimated to have FinTech related roles, more than any other region researched by Whitecap to date. Additionally, the report highlights a wide range of other organisations that support FinTech, including the public and private sectors, and higher education institutions.

Richard Coates, Managing Director of Whitecap Consulting, says:

“We are pleased to present our initial assessment of the Greater Manchester FinTech Ecosystem, the fourth regional FinTech ecosystem report that we have published in recent months. This report paints a positive picture of a region with strong financial and digital sectors, as well as a higher volume of FinTech startups and scaleups than any other region outside London that we have researched to date. These firms are supported by an ever-growing number of coworking spaces which are facilitating connection and collaboration between startups, scaleups, established organisations and other stakeholders. FinTech provides a material economic growth opportunity for the UK, the North, and for the Greater Manchester region.”

Tim Newns, Chief Executive of MIDAS, says:

“Being home to the UK’s largest regional banking and financial services industry, as well as one of Europe’s largest digital and technology clusters, Greater Manchester has developed a strong reputation as the FinTech capital of the North; and on behalf of Greater Manchester, MIDAS is delighted to support this pioneering research into the city region’s FinTech industry. Thank you to Whitecap Consulting for leading on this important piece of research, which demonstrates there is huge growth potential for the FinTech industry in Greater Manchester and across the UK.”

Professor Markos Zachariadis, the recently appointed Greensill Professor in Financial Technology (FinTech) & Information Systems, Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester, says:

“Mapping the entire FinTech ecosystem is an important exercise in order to get a better understanding of the variety and size of the FinTech sector in and around Manchester and to identify the needs and potential for further growth and investment. Being part of the city’s vibrant innovation and R&D cluster, we are aiming to establish Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester as a FinTech research and teaching powerhouse internationally.”

The higher education sector in the region has an active involvement in the FinTech sector in the region, spanning academic courses, business engagement and research. Greensill, a leading British FinTech company founded by Lex Greensill, an Alliance Manchester Business School MBA alumnus, recently provided £2.5m to support The University of Manchester’s understanding and sharing of FinTech expertise across business communities locally, nationally and globally.

Other regions which have been researched by Whitecap include: North EastBristol & BathLeeds City Region, and the West Midlands. The Greater Manchester FinTech Ecosystem Report 2020 can be downloaded below.

Could Bitcoin on DeFi displace banks? Yes.

tbtc_bridgeDecentralized Finance (DeFi) is building a new financial system. The DeFi movement is picking up steam. DeFi has been successful in remittances, loans, stable coins, and other core elements of the fiat world. With a little over a year under its belt, DeFi hit a major milestone a couple of months ago, with more than $1 billion in value locked in the DeFi markets. Bitcoin (BTC) dominates the cryptocurrency market, its 8x bigger than the Ethereum, the second cryptocurrency by market cap, but Bitcoin doesn’t have Ethereum’s sophisticated on-chain lending, derivatives, trading capabilities . While there are already several centralized BTC lending platforms like BlockFi/Nexo/Celsius. Bitcoin DeFi has been a dream for Bitcoiners. Maybe the dream is over and new tBTC project will bring Bitcoin to the DeFi world. Maybe it will do a lot more than that!

Bitcoin could greatly transform DeFi and that is exactly what the team behind the Keep protocol understands. They recently raised $7.7 million, led by Paradigm Capital and other companies including Fenbushi Capital and Collaborative Funds, to launch a trustless platform for creating Bitcoin-backed tBTC tokens, on Ethereum. The tBTC platform extends on multiple concepts like Multisig custody, SPV, and MakerDAO’s bonding system to build a decentralized Bitcoin peg, better than anything else we’ve already seen.

The tBTC token is an ERC-20 token fully backed by BTC that allows people to safely use BTC on the Ethereum blockchain. The tBTC is a 1:1 Bitcoin-backed ERC-20 token. This means that if you have 1 tBTC, you can redeem it for 1 BTC. The new tBTC token combines the strengths of both chains, and offers BTC holders a way to spend their BTC on Ethereum.

To spend Bitcoin, users have to deposit BTC into a threshold signature contract. Once the deposit has been made, the “signers” submit a proof of deposit to the Ethereum network, and then a tBTC token is created and transferred to the BTC holder’s Ethereum (ETH) wallet.

To process transactions, tBTC uses a system of “signers”. Signers operate in groups of three, reducing risk and eliminating trusted middlemen, to ensure transaction safely and transparency. All three signers must approve a transaction. The network incentivizes signers for their role, with a micro fee of 20 basis points (bps) for every tBTC “minted” in exchange for a BTC.

But, Bitcoin on Ethereum is nothing new.

In the past we’ve seen other Ethereum-based tokens pegged to Bitcoin, the most notable being wBTC, an ERC-20 token created by BitGo. tBTC is unique from its competitors, because it offers a redemption feature for Bitcoin, something not offered by other projects.

What impact will a Bitcoin pegged token on DeFi have on crypto and the world?

DeFi scales with Ethereum, but imagine what will happen once DeFi has access to Bitcoin’s liquidity. Ethereum is the home for protocols, like MakerDAO, Compound, and Uniswap. Bitcoin’s hard money features make it fantastic for collateral. Using BTC within these protocols will instantaneously bring more liquidity and let Bitcoin holders access a variety of new services.

Bitcoin is synonymous with crypto. When people thing of Bitcoin they think of crypto and vice versa. With Bitcoin being a strong store of value, it will become far more easier for non-crypto holders to join crypto and earn interest with their Bitcoins or get a loan.

What does that mean? For starters, the price of BTC will go up, sky high!

Being able to use Bitcoins for more things, beyond speculation, will increase demand for BTC and as a consequence its price. It will also limit its supply. Circulating Bitcoins will become harder to find, since people will have the option to keep them locked and make passive returns.

With the Bitcoin’s halving approaching and Ethereum 2.0 being deployed, the value of Bitcoin will rise and Ethereum’s use will grow exponentially.

But what this really means is that Bitcoin on DeFi can potentially displace the existing financial systems. By the time we recover from the coronavirus, we will be able to opt-out of the existing financial system and find the liquidity, cash flow, loans and everything else we’ve come to expect from banks, from the crypto world.

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at

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