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America’s biggest bank, JPMorgan, with a balance sheet total of over $3 trillion is set to launch its new offering in the UK next week.
Digital bank Chase was first announced back in January and has so far hired around 400 people to work on the project. It marks the first expansion for the bank in its 222-year history. Chief executive Jamie Dimon visited the Chase Canary Wharf offices in London last week.
In January, Gordon Smith, CEO of Consumer & Community Banking and co-President of JPMorgan Chase, said: “We are bringing Chase to the UK because we want to provide customers with a new banking choice – one that will enable them to benefit from a simple and exceptional banking experience, built on the significant capabilities of JPMorgan Chase.
“The UK has a vibrant and highly competitive consumer banking marketplace, which is why we’ve designed the bank from scratch to specifically meet the needs of customers here.”
While the full details of its launch are still to be officially announced, sources believe that the news will come early next week. CEO Sanoke Viswanathan, previously Chief Administrative Officer and Head of Strategy at JPMorgan’s Corporate & Investment Bank, told The Times that the parent company would be patient about Chase’s progress, but that it needed to have “millions of customers over time” to be viable.
In an interview with the newspaper, he added that JPMorgan wanted to disrupt established players and grow to be “in the top few” banks in the UK. Its customers will be served by a purpose-built customer contact centre in Edinburgh.
Earlier in June, the bank snapped up British digital wealth manager and robo-advisor Nutmeg as part of its expansion plans. In Dimon’s annual letter to shareholders in April, he stated that fintechs have “done a great job in developing easy-to-use, intuitive, fast and smart products” while acknowledging that banks are held back by “inflexible legacy systems” and “extensive regulation”.
Chase is expected to offer retail bank accounts through a digital app with plans to build out full consumer banking services over time.
While the bank is set to compete with domestic startups such as Monzo, Revolut and Starling, it could still be some time before Chase takes on US rival Goldman Sachs, which launched the successful savings account, Marcus, in 2018.
Tulipshare, the new activist investment platform, has reached the threshold needed to submit a shareholder proposal at Apple, after trading on the platform began just two months ago.
This milestone moment means that for the very first time, retail investors have secured the opportunity to hack capitalism and have the opportunity to change the way Apple operates through Tulipshare’s dedicated campaign.
As of August 30th, $32,000 (£23,000) has been invested on Tulipshare’s platform in support of its campaign to allow independent and third party technicians to repair Apple products. This means that Tulipshare and its community of investors now own enough shares to have a seat at the table and submit a shareholder proposal.
As shareholder activists, Tulipshare will now be able to engage with Apple’s Investor Relations team and once shares have been held for a year, Tulipshare will be eligible to submit its shareholder proposal to be voted on by all shareholders at Apple’s next available annual meeting.
Right to repair
With this campaign, Tulipshare will work to push Apple forward in adopting a fairer right to repair policy which includes:
Making the repair information for all of its devices publicly available allowing both individuals and other businesses to fix Apple products
Make ‘genuine’ Apple parts widely available and not limit access to the Independent Repair Provider program
Ensure the software continues to work regardless of whether a device has been fixed with ‘genuine’ Apple parts
On reaching the threshold for this Apple campaign, Founder and CEO Antoine Argouges said: “We’re incredibly excited and thankful to all our users who have allowed us to reach this milestone with the Apple campaign. It is clear from the speed at which our users have supported this campaign, that there is a significant desire to make this change happen. It means we will now be able to bring Apple’s right to repair issues to light at a shareholder meeting – your investment and trust in Tulipshare can help make change happen.
“Our goal is to give a voice to the everyday individual, to encourage retail investors to rethink their investment strategies. We want to shine a spotlight on the global issues no other investment platform has done to date, and, in turn, truly make progress in fighting the injustices committed by major corporations where, traditionally, major decisions are kept to a handful of individuals.”
On investing in Tulipshare, Tom Blomfield, founder and previous CEO of Monzo, said: “I’m proud to support Tulipshare because it emphasises social purpose alongside profit when making investment decisions. I don’t believe “maximizing shareholder value” should be the sole purpose of a corporation – impact on society and the environment are just as important. Tulipshare empowers investors to vote with their cash and change public companies for the better.”
Tulipshare aims to empower individuals to make a positive change within some of the biggest household-name companies in the world. The platform enables people to rethink the way they invest in businesses and essentially allows people to vote with their money. Through Tulipshare, investors can have their voices heard in the corporations they are investing in and use their shareholder rights to promote meaningful change that is long overdue.
Tulipshare went live on July 6th with three campaigns that users could invest as little as £1 in. The platform’s first causes include warehouse workers’ rights at Amazon, a focus on Coca-Cola’s contribution to climate change in the company’s plastic consumption, and right to repair issues at Apple. Since its July launch, 22,000 people have visited the Tulipshare platform.
To date, Tulipshare has raised $1M in pre-seed funding from Speedinvest and high profile business angels including Monzo’s Tom Blomfield. The platform has been regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority since April 2021 and has plans to expand to the US market.
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.
A warning from the Bank of England that Johnson’s manifesto busting hikes in interest rates is significant enough to effect monetary policy. Well you can’t say he hasn’t been warned but he doesn’t seem interested in taking advice. Seriously though what are personal credit markets supposed to do when the government is deliberately making everyone poorer, particularly those who are already struggling, and at the same time suffocating growth and dampening enthusiasm all at the same time. If we carry on like this nobody in the UK will be able to afford to live at all let alone pay down debt. I predict a collapse in Conservative Party grass roots support.
So what has this got to do with lending? Auditors Grant Thornton are being fined by the accounting regulator over their failure to produce audited accounts which truly reflected the financial state of the business. A clean audit report is an absolute must for bankers and anyone else trying to rely on the accounts but if the bankers don’t understand the numbers anyway, what’s the point? In PV’s case a cursory look into the stock turnover ratio should have raised eyebrows. But wait a minute, qualified accountants didn’t think anything of it either? How on earth are we training accountants and bankers? The same inevitability surrounded government contractor Carillon where simple analysis could have saved taxpayers a lot of money. I see that nobody has been charged. Would be interesting to know if anyone has been sacked? Doesn’t anyone ever ask questions these days? Judging by Archegos and Greensill the answer would seem to be no.
I don’t know the people concerned but I am always interested when a large organisation makes sweeping changes. In BofA’s case I followed the appalling transition from what was once the largest bank in the world to become a subsidiary of a small regional bank in the late 1980’s. I can tell you that hubris and politics had a lot to do with it. In 1980 a colleague and I both senior AVP’s at BofA were sent on an orientation course to San Francisco. The mood music at the time was that the bank was struggling to sort it’s management out. When we reported back to London that all was not well in California. Both of us were pulled in front of Personnel (HR now) to explain why we were being negative. We were effectively silenced. I didn’t get out of BofA and the banking business, until some 8 years later but by then things had got a lot worse. I remember being told at a breakfast meeting in London that management was not the problem. This was a lie. It was at the heart of it.
Howard Tolman is a well-known banker, technologist and entrepreneur in London,
Upside, the intelligent marketing service, has released its first industry white paper on retail loyalty, which identifies that the value of one loyal customer is equal to that of twenty-two non-loyal customers. Based on analysis of actual spend data, rather than surveyed data, the white paper offers unique retail insight from open banking data in the ongoing battle for consumers’ time, attention and loyalty.
The first-of-its-kind report identifies 13 to be what Upside has coined as the “tipping point of loyalty”, otherwise known as the number of purchases needed to make customers “loyal” to your business. The in-depth and highly detailed analysis provides retailers with an invaluable understanding of customers’ total spending behaviour across different retail categories, which is defined in the report as ‘share of wallet’, and how they can look to maximise their customer lifetime value.
‘The Tipping Point of Loyalty’ report uses spend data to understand consumer loyalty which comes from a sample of 7,500 customers, with a total of 15 million open banking transactions from 2019, 2020, and 2021. The selection of customers span the UK, 27% are based in London and 50% of customers are aged between 26 and 42. In an effort to improve on consumer behaviour surveys commonly used to gather spend data, this first-party data access allows Upside to have a highly accurate reflection of individual spending behaviour.
Among the other significant findings from the report, the quantified impact of the pandemic on retail loyalty suggests that customers are now less loyal than before the pandemic. During the pandemic, there was a perceived increase in loyalty, with 38% of customers increasing their spend with one individual retailer. However, as the world opens up and consumers have more choice again, we found 41% of consumers have decreased their loyalty, suggesting that the loyalty increase in 2020 was actually a result of supply chain issues and a lack of options, rather than a conscious choice.
Experts and leaders in the retail industry have provided their thoughts and commentary on the findings within ‘The Tipping Point of Loyalty’ report, including CMO at Boots UK,Pete Markey, Retail Expert Tanya Bowen and KPMG’s Paul Martin.
Customers of Upside connect their bank accounts via open banking; this is to enable Upside to automatically pay cashback into an eWallet as customers spend with retail partners. In addition to future financial transactions, when a bank account is connected, customers provide up to 36 months of historical spend data, enabling Upside to hyper-personalise retail offers.
Upside anonymises the spend data to fully protect the privacy of customers and are able to derive comprehensive and actionable insights pertaining to consumer spending behaviour, whilst ensuring that competition law is fully adhered to. For retail partners, Upside can benchmark them against their competitors and other retailers in their segment on a multitude of dimensions including, but not limited to, average order value, frequency of shop, category and wallet share, in addition to identifying behavioural patterns.
CEO and Founder of Upside, Andries Smit, says: “Within retail, we all intuitively know that a loyal customer is worth more than a non-loyal one. However, when we actually quantified loyalty in our data I was amazed by just how stark the difference in value was. The findings of this report really proved to me that retailers should be focussing far more on their loyal customers rather than customer acquisition. With one truly loyal customer worth the same as over 20 non-loyal customers, retailers simply can’t afford to ignore these findings.”
Contactless payments methods have taken all shapes and sizes since contactless was first introduced in 2007. Simplicity and accessibility are two of the most important things for a consumer, and when something blends into their everyday lives, they become happy. Without the hassle of finding a card in a wallet, wearable payments do exactly this. They have grown in popularity, especially over the pandemic in which the whole world became more accustomed to using contactless. Thales, the French company with a strong history in providing secure payment products to banks and other financial institutions, has decided to capitalise on this, introducing a payment ring in Japan through a partnership with EVERING.
The EVERING, an NFC ring, enables contactless payments working on a “Less is Smart” premise. The waterproof ceramic ring supports cashless and touchless payments, offering a seamless experience for users to pay when the ring is held in close proximity to the payment terminal. The waterproof battery-less ring requires no charging, and marries fashion with technology, with the convenience of contactless transactions.
Thales will provide both the secure embedded chip and Operating System as well as card personalisation services for the device, with EVERING as the Payment Card Issuer, enabling fast and secure contactless transactions on this ring. The payment data on the ring will be directly linked to customers’ prepaid bank accounts. The payment personalisation services on the rings ensure optimal data management for EVERING. All integration and personalisation work on the rings will be undertaken by dedicated Thales teams in Asia, ensuring close collaboration with EVERING to meet the evolving needs of their end-users.
“We are delighted to partner with EVERING, a company that is bridging technology and fashion with the launch of their contactless payment ring. Thales has a long history of providing digital identity and security solutions in Japan, notably in the area of mobile communications and banking services. This collaboration takes our commitment a step further as we work with an innovative start-up to support their customers in this fast-evolving payment ecosystem. With this partnership, Thales is accelerating our business development efforts with alternative payment issuers in Japan, including Fintech companies, as we continue to refine our technology for wearable devices,” Cyrille Dupont, Country Director, Thales in Japan.
“Consumers in Japan acknowledge that contactless electronic transactions are the way forward, with rapid adoption accelerated by the pandemic. By combining aesthetics with functionality, and most importantly, security, the EVERING may well be a solution that can drive Japan towards becoming a cashless society. We decided to partner with Thales because of their proven track record in security and encryption technologies. With this partnership, we assure our customers that their financial transactions remain safe and secure and that the ring is equipped with international-standards of security technology,” Takeshi Kawada, Chief Executive Officer, EVERING.
Earlier this week we celebrated the return to in-person events with FinovateFall. Though this year’s event felt a bit different from years past, with vaccination wristbands and social distancing replacing handshakes and hugs, there was an undeniable energy present. While it was wonderful to see many familiar people face-to-face, it was also refreshing to see new ideas and technology presented by the experts themselves.
With three days of demos, panels, keynotes, and networking, there was a lot to take in. Whether you attended in person or digitally, you were able to see some of the newest ideas and technology in banking and finance. And if you weren’t able to attend this time around, here’s a recap of what you saw and what you may have missed.
Consumers have changed how they choose their bank. This one seems like a theme we’ve been hearing for a couple of years now, but I think it is becoming even more concrete as the move to digital is ever-accelerating. The anecdote I heard multiple times was how consumers used to base their banking relationship on which FI had the closest branch or the most ATMs in their region. Today, with the abundance of neobanks, consumers have a different mindset. They choose their banks based on the brand. Does it appear trustworthy and transparent, or is there too much fine print? Does it offer unique features such as early wage access that speak to the customer’s needs? Does it benefit the community? Does it speak to the unique needs of the customer’s tribe?
Cybersecurity should still be top-of-mind. The cybersecurity and fraud prevention theme is one that has been around since the dawn of fintech. It is also one that isn’t going away any time soon. With the push to digital, fraudsters are finding increased profits. At this week’s event, we saw multiple fintechs looking to stem the flow of cash into criminals’ pockets.
Regtech is rising. The U.S. has been slow to adopt existing regtech tools and create new ones. However, we’ve seen an increase in regulation around consumer data and customer communication. Not only that, but new technologies are also bringing pending regulation around AI, smart contracts, and cryptocurrencies. Fintech is here to fill the dearth of regtech solutions and save financial services companies and fintech alike from legal headaches.
Consumers are ready for self-service. We now live in a world where people no longer want to make a phone call to order a pizza, but would rather do so via an app. On top of this mobile-first preference, consumers also expect things on-demand. For these reasons, the chatbots that were dismissed in years past as a solution-looking-for-a-problem. At this week’s conference, however, we heard that chatbots are now some of the most practical tools FIs can implement to best serve their clients.
My favorite session was the Investor All Star panel featuring Alexa Von Tobel, Founder and Managing Partner of Inspired Capital, and Matt Harris, Partner at Bain Capital Ventures. The two discussed the new “creator economy,” a sub sector of the gig economy that represents not just social media influencers, but anyone who monetizes content online.
Harris pointed out that, in general, relatively little money trickles down to creators such as musicians and artists because much of the funds are gobbled up by middlemen such as studios, auction houses, galleries, and publishing companies. However, with the advent of NFTs it is now possible for any artist to directly reap the rewards of their labor using only an NFT Marketplace.
Von Tobel added that banks need to be ready to serve the unique needs of this new workforce, many of which are Gen Z, that wants to ditch traditional jobs to work for themselves.
Hints at what to expect for 2022
We’ll see more no code and low code solutions. At FinovateFall this year, it was obvious that the no code movement is having a moment. It democratizes the internet, making it easy for almost anyone to launch a new tool, product, solution, or even an entire business. Competition in this arena has been slowly heating up for years and next year we can expect it to explode.
There will be more chat bots and AI-enabled help channels With all of the mentions of self-service technology that pulsed throughout this week’s conference, it became clear that the chatbot movement isn’t just a passing fad. Given this, combined with the difficulty of creating self-service tools that actually meet customers’ needs, we can expect to see more, smarter chat bots and a wider variety of self-service tools.
This was Finovate’s last event for the year. Keep an eye out for updates on our conference roster for next year, including:
Clickatell, a mobile communications and chat commerce company, has launched Chat 2 Pay. Chat 2 Pay takes Clickatell’s decades of developing chat commerce solutions for global customers and delivers a simple and comprehensive way for merchants to offer payments and transactions to consumers in chat. Chat 2 Pay is purpose-built for the North American market, expanding Clickatell’s global customer base.
Clickatell’s Chat 2 Pay enables merchants to securely accept payments in chat messaging by sending consumers a payment link via SMS or WhatsApp. In its design of Chat 2 Pay, Clickatell efficiently has orchestrated the complex relationship between messaging, payments, or the order management system (OMS) of their customers, and in the process mitigates the risk of merchants managing payment card details. The functionality is so easy merchants simply switch it on and manage. Clickatell’s own data shows using the chat channel for interactions and transactions reduces the overall cost of doing business while increasing customer engagement.
“Brands can now improve their customer service with Chat 2 Pay by providing a more convenient and secure way to make payments in chat messaging,” said Pieter de Villiers, CEO and Co-Founder at Clickatell. “Chat 2 Pay addresses today’s boom worldwide in digital payments – a shift in consumer behaviour and response to the impact of the pandemic. It also helps address consumers’ physical proximity concerns, while reducing fraud. Chat 2 Pay delivers a secure, frictionless, and contact-free checkout—with no need to hand credit cards to merchants or read card details over the phone.”
In its report “Drive Revenue and Customer Satisfaction by Building Trust,” Gartner states “Not only is an organisation’s trustworthiness measured by its people, it is also measured by its processes and the technologies it deploys. All agents can help or hinder the building of customer confidence and trust and negate millions of investments in people, process and technology.” Additionally, Gartner’s report “Predicts 2021: CRM Customer Service and Support,” projects that “by 2025, 80% of customer service organisations will have abandoned native mobile apps in favour of messaging for a better customer experience.”
“As chat commerce accelerates, we are innovating to create payment systems like Chat 2 Pay where all brands no matter the size may accept payments in the chat channels consumers have come to love, trust, and use every day,” de Villiers said. “By taking the payment capabilities brands have on their websites, apps, and in their call centers, and making them available via chat, simpler payments will further drive adoption of this low-cost, efficient channel for interactions and transactions.”
The Clickatell Chat 2 Pay solution provides a pay-by-link capability, empowering brands to request and facilitate payments in three easy steps:
A merchant’s customer service or sales representative triggers a payment request from a standard CRM or order management system (OMS) and sends it to the customer as a link.
The customer receives a secure payment link via SMS or WhatsApp. When clicking on the link, it directs the customer to a hosted, responsive checkout page.
A customer then completes details and submits a payment receiving an order confirmation and receipt via chat.
RAKBANK, Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), SmartStream, Network International L.L.C, Backbase, Abaka, Smartmessage, Confluent, Appway, IDS Fintech, Creatio, Smart Middle East Ltd, Faloos were well-represented at the 3rd Annual Edition of Finnovex Middle East to champion the conversation on what the future holds for the banking and financial sector in the Middle Eastern region.
The Leading Summit on Financial Services Innovation and Excellence, which kicked off from the 7th – 8th September 2021 was held in-person at Conrad Dubai and the host’s virtual platform witnessed the attendance of 1000+ CEOs, CDO’s, COO’s, CIOs, CISOs, CTOs, CRO’s Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Heads of departments from the Banking and FI industry.
This spectacular event was very timely as it highlighted the imperative to endow the digital future of the region by developing and leveraging new technological solutions in data, advanced analytics, digital and new delivery platform.
Insights were dished out with a blend of fireside chats, panel discussions, and expert presentations. Industry thought-leaders explored trailblazing topics, which included – Open Banking and API’s; AI; Cloud Automation; Digital Transformation; Cyber Security & Risk Management; Omnichannel Payments Revolutionising; Data Analytics & et al.
Digital disruption era
The Conference Chair, Pritesh B. Kotecha, Senior Vice President – Europe, Middle East & Africa at SmartStream highlighted how timely the conversation was in relation to his role played within the industry wealth of experience in relation to the current digital disruption era.
At the Speaking Session of Frederic De Melker, Managing Director – Personal Banking at RAKBANK, buttressed the fact that at the moment the “Middle Man” in the service delivery process is dead. He further advised anyone seeing to still get a middle man needs to digitalise him. If banks want to succeed & remain relevant decentralization is key.
RAKBANK, also known as the National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (P.J.S.C), is one of the oldest and most dynamic banks in the UAE. Founded in 1976, the Bank underwent a major transformation in 2001, with a shift in focus from Corporate Banking to Personal and Business Banking. Today, the Bank offers a wide range of personal and business banking services throughout its 38 branches and its portfolio of electronic banking solutions, which include Telephone and Digital Banking. It also offers Sharia-compliant personal and business banking services via its Islamic Banking unit, RAKislamic.
In tandem, Salmaan Jaffery, Chief Business Development Officer at DIFC Authority highlighted the future of finance strategy as the driver of the entire Fintech Industry. He also talked about the DIFC’s collaboration with Government and Private Sector Entities.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is the “Numero Uno” financial centre for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, providing a world-class platform connecting this region’s markets with the economies of Europe, Asia and the Americas. It also is facilitating the growth in South-South trade and investment flows. An onshore, international financial centre, DIFC provides a stable, mature and secure base for financial institutions to develop their wholesale businesses.
Roland Brandli, Strategic Product Manager at Smartstream made mention of the disruptive impact of the “Instant” phenomenon within the banking IT landscapes. He further highlighted the impact of the “Instant” trend on Banking Technology providers and stakeholders.
SmartStream is a recognised leader in financial transaction management solutions that enables firms to improve operational control, reduce costs, build new revenue streams, mitigate risk and comply accurately with regulations.
The Summit format consisted of speaker presentations and panel discussions, among the panel and presentation speakers included – Saqib Khan, Regional Sales Head, Middle East at Backbase; Ahmed Bin Tarraf, Regional President – UAE at Network International; Fahd Rachidy, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Abaka; Murat Guner || Regional Manager, MEA, at Smartmessage; Abdullah Ahmad, Regional Sales Manager, KSA, at Smartmessage. They deliberated on how banking and financial institutions are evolving and their adaptation to Digital Disruption in an efficiently AGILE and digital way.
Futhermore, the Finnovex Middle East Awards took place on the sidelines of the first-half of the event to recognise and appreciate the effort of over 10 individuals, institutions and service providers within the field of Banking and Financial Services Industry. The Awards seek to honour the pioneers and visionaries who have transformed the overall banking and financial services industry.
Finnovex Awards Winners include:
EXCELLENCE IN PAYMENTS – Magnati
EXCELLENCE IN MOBILE BANKING – Bank Al bilad
EXCELLENCE IN NEOBANK – Mashreq
EXCELLENCE IN ISLAMIC BANKING – Dubai Islamic Bank
EXCELLENCE IN RETAIL BANKING – Commercial Bank of Dubai
EXCELLENCE IN DIGITAL ONBOARDING – Appway
DIGITAL PAYMENTS SOLUTION PROVIDER OF THE YEAR – SmartStream
EXCELLENCE IN DIGITAL BANKING- UAE – Emirates NBD
EXCELLENCE IN DIGITAL BANKING–KSA – Riyad Bank
EXCELLENCE IN EMERGING FINTECH – Skiply by RAKBANK
EXCELLENCE IN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE ENHANCEMENT – Backbase
RISING STARTUP OF THE YEAR – Up for Jobs
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO FINTECH SOLUTIONS INITIATIVES – Abaka
Finnovator Of the Year –Middle East – Frederic de Melker, Managing Director Personal Banking, RAKBANK UAE
Finfluencer of the Year – Amit Malhotra, General Manager- Personal Banking Group, Commercial Bank of Dubai
CEO of the Year – Massimo Falcioni, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI)
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO STRATEGIC NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES – Dr. Zerak Saleh, Chief Operating Officer Finance, Saudi British Bank, Saudi Arabia
CDO The Year – Ali Ghuloom, Head of Digitisation and Projects Management at National Bank of Bahrain
CIO of the Year – Dr. Joseph George, CIO-Head of Information Systems & Technology, National Bank of Fujairah, UAE
CISO of the Year – Mohammed Ahmed Al Doseri, Chief Information Security Officer, Tasheel Finance, Saudi Arabia
CISO of the Year – UAE – Illyas Kooliyankal, Chief Information Security Officer, Abu Dhabi Islamic bank, UAE
CTO of the year – Ellis Wang, Senior Executive Vice President, Group Head of Technology, Transformation and Information, Mashreq Bank
CMO of the year – Caroline Bertrand, Chief Marketing, Digital and Customer Experience Officer, AXA Gulf, UAE
Digital Personality of The Year – Olivier Crespin, Chief Executive Officer, Zand, UAE
Finnovex is excellently dedicated to examining the Future of Financial Services on how disruptive innovations are reshaping the way they are structured, made available and consumed.
The Finnovex Global series, which is organised by Exibex, examines the prospects of the overall Financial Services industry and how disruptive innovations are reshaping the way they are structured, provisioned and consumed. The Finnovex series of global Summits highlights thought leadership on cutting-edge issues with long-term implications to the industry and lays a concrete foundation for multi-stakeholder dialogues that explores the potential of these innovations to transform the overall financial ecosystem as well as the risks and opportunities that could emerge from shifts in the way financial services are designed, delivered and used in the future.
For more information on the Finnovex Summit editions coming up globally within the West African region in 2021, visit – https://finnovex.com/
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.
Taking place on September 29 – 30, 2021, Seamless Middle East will reunite global industry leaders at a critical time to discuss the future of payments, fintech, identity, retail and eCommerce.
Seamless Middle East returns for its 21st year on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 September, just days before the opening of Expo 2020, meaning the city of Dubai will be buzzing with some of the brightest and most innovative minds across the world. The conference and exhibition will explore the key topics and trends shaping the future of the industry including: cashless societies, payment methods of the future, the new retail experience from mobile to shopping malls, secure digital identity, sustainable banking and so much more.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Lieutenant-General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Interior, and in partnership with the League of Arab States, Arab Federation of Digital Economy, and DubaiEconomy, Seamless Middle East will unite industry leaders to drive the UAE forward as a global leader in payments and eCommerce.
Terrapinn Middle East General Manager, Joseph Ridley commented: “As markets and travel corridors continue to open up, we look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors live and in-person from across the fintech, payments, eCommerce and retail communities in September. Dubai plays an important role on the international stage in enabling business across the region as well as leading the way globally in re-opening the events and tourism industries.”
Ridley added: “The pandemic has accelerated the need for a cashless society, access to more inclusive and accessible financial services and unprecedented growth in eCommerce, with ‘new normals’ for the way consumers browse and purchase their goods and services. Now is the time to adopt crucial digital technologies that will advance an all-new consumer and citizen experiences.
Seamless will be the platform for industry leaders to discuss these key topics, sharing their thoughts and insights with our attendees.”
Across two packed days, Seamless Middle East will throw the spotlight on the region’s expertise in digital innovation from alternative payments and digital identity to cashless initiatives, digital footprints, eCommerce platforms and much more as organisations and society adapt to a digital-first world.
300+ conference speakers include top industry names such as the Secretary General from the League of Arab States, Director of Strategy and Innovation from Smart Dubai and the Chief Operating Officer at Sharaf Retail. All of whom will be speaking live on-stage as Seamless Middle East reunites the global economy at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
DubaiCommerCity, Title Sponsor of Seamless Middle East, is leading the way in transforming the future of the eCommerce industry. Seamless Middle East Keynote Speaker DeVere Forster, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai CommerCity, commented: “The world has witnessed a major surge in demand for eCommerce following the pandemic. With this ongoing demand, Dubai CommerCity, the first dedicated eCommerce free zone in the region, plays a key role in fulfilling the market’s needs by providing eCommerce businesses with unique services, world-class expertise, and an ideal ecosystem to support their growth.”
“As a Title Sponsor of Seamless Middle East and in line with our mission to grow the eCommerce industry, Seamless Middle East will serve as a platform for showcasing Dubai CommerCity’s strategic advantages which contribute to cementing Dubai’s position as a global hub for eCommerce,” Forster added.
Alongside the conference is a free-to-attend exhibition, Seamless Middle East offers attendees the unique opportunity to explore the latest technology solutions driving change in the Middle East and beyond, live and in-person. Showcasing companies include Title Sponsor; Dubai CommerCity, ToppanFuturecard, Geek+, Checkout.com, IDNow, InPay, RedboxDigital, Alibaba Cloud and YAP amongst many other world-class brands.
Other free-to-attend highlights on the show floor include the fintech pavilion, start-up showcase, eCommerce university, start-up pitch offs and the return of face-to-face networking.
In light of Covid-19, lockdown accelerated the growth of the creator economy as increased spare time and a shift to remote working for many opened the door to evolve their passions and hobbies into emerging businesses. For others, particularly those facing redundancy and wage cuts, it was a means to generate a much needed new income stream. Social commerce platforms like Shopify, Etsy and Depop, as well as Patreon and Twitch, played a huge role during the crisis, as they allowed individuals to make money with minimal initial capital from the comfort of their own home.
This has led to increasing demand for digital payments, more specifically, account to account payments. VibePay is on a mission to make easy, instant, account to account payments – without the need for cards or wallets – the default way to pay and get paid amongst friends, with businesses and at checkout. Moving money between friends, consumers and businesses is fast becoming a commodity as the technical and legislative barriers are being removed thanks to Open Banking. This has put the onus on payment providers to offer a better post-transactional experience and create more value for users.
Luke Massie is the CEO and Founder of VibePay, which he launched in 2018 after the 2013 launch of his first company, VibeTickets, an online, no-fee ticket marketplace.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
VibePay at its core aims to promote and celebrate individual skills and personalities, empowering people to follow their passions in life. We have developed our payment solution to meet the needs of independent sellers and ensure that entrepreneurs and consumers alike are not losing out to middlemen through unreasonable and unnecessary transaction fees. Rather than payments being an inconvenience for entrepreneurs, we must create an environment where they can focus on the things that they love doing the most and earn a living from it.
What FinTech ideas have been implemented?
We are taking advantage of the opportunity Open Banking provides, leveraging PIS for real-time account to account payments and AIS for bank balances and transactions. Fintechs no longer have to focus on the foundations and can put all their time and attention on the things that really matter: solutions and experiences. We recognise that there is a huge amount of value to be added in the rapidly evolving financial landscape, such as the post-transaction experience in payments This includes sellers being able to interact with customers, fans, or subscribers in the same place real-time payment was made, adding a new dimension to the payment experience. Alternatively, for end consumers it can mean being able to do more with their transactions, whether that’s sharing with friends, splitting payments or unlocking responsible consumer lending opportunities. This is when we will start to see the real impact of embedded finance in Europe.
The VibePay experience has been developed with those within the creator economy in mind, offering a payment service that will provide entrepreneurs with an instant settlement, lower fees, and tools that will bring value to their everyday lives. They want a more frictionless and instant payment service to simultaneously enhance the experience for their customers and ensure they can be paid on time.
What benefits have these brought?
It is enabling creators, entrepreneurs and those with a ‘side-hustle’ to make viable, long-term businesses out of their passion. There is a misconception that the creator economy earns a bit of extra cash on the side when in reality these social entrepreneurs are running businesses with huge customer bases and loyal followers on platforms such as Twitch and TikTok and social commerce sites like Depop and Etsy.
Our recent research showed that nearly two-thirds of entrepreneurs plan to make their ‘side-hustle’ their main income, so there is a fundamental need to have an infrastructure in place for the boom of the creator economy we are currently witnessing. VibePay’s technology is enabling individuals to take and track payments from multiple income channels, with many current solutions causing delays and enforcing significant transaction fees.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
Some of the new trends that cemented themselves within our lives during the pandemic are here to stay and its critical fintechs continue to respond to these. Social commerce will continue to expand and we believe the creator economy will become a mainstay in the world of finance, and we have also seen a rapid rise in millennials wanting to take more control of their money (embedded finance). We need to celebrate and encourage creativity and proactivity during these difficult times and innovative, problem-solving fintech will play the defining role in shaping a new financial services landscape and the future of money.
Can these challenges be aided by fintech?
Absolutely. Open Banking and PSD2 have given fintech founders across Europe a platform to deliver what customers of the future need now. VibePay is meeting these challenges in the payment sector through social commerce and embedded finance, while some of our peers in the investment space, for example, are making great strides. While it is positive to see, it has been long overdue as we watched fintechs in the US and China become multi-billion pound companies, but I hope VibePay can be a shining light for what is impossible in revolutionising payments and empowering the next generation financially.
It’s an exciting time for fintech founders as there is a major opportunity to build big. The tools on offer have levelled the playing field, taking the power away from the traditional banks and payments providers. Over the coming years we will see the birth of the first super app in Europe; this will change the lives of consumers and businesses across the continent. The race is on and we can’t wait to lead the way.
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.
Caribou Digital, Qhala and Mastercard Foundation have launched a new report showcasing the experiences of young Kenyans using digital platforms–from Facebook to Jumia–to earn a living during Covid-19.
In 2020, nearly 7 million Kenyans lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Platform Livelihoods report provides an in-depth insight into the creative ways young people in Kenya are using digital platforms to earn a living in this time.
For the study, researchers interviewed 74 youths (18-35 years old) in urban and rural Kenya working on platforms in logistics, farming, e-commerce, music and art. Aside from in logistics, a significant number of the participants in each sector were women.
New ways young Kenyans are using digital platforms include:
In e-commerce: devising creative ways to overcome long-standing difficulties such as the ‘last mile’ problem.
In agriculture: to engage and educate other young people about the sector.
In logistics: to combat the poor reputation of the sector. – In visual arts and music: to create communities and showcase the processes behind artistic creation.
Tade Aina, Head of Research at Mastercard Foundation, said: “This report is a timely and important look at how young Kenyans are applying this ingenuity to digital platforms, an integral part of the economy. Despite the disruption of Covid-19, in each of the four sectors young people are devising creative solutions to the problems posed by the new digital economy, demonstrating the resilience and transformation this technology can bring. The Mastercard Foundation is delighted to partner with Caribou Digital and Qhala, two leaders in the field, in this vital research.
Young Kenyans get creative to get the most out of platforms
The report shows that young people are expressing their innovation and entrepreneurship to succeed in the digital economy across a number of sectors. With online platforms often designed without the Kenyan context in mind, farmers and MSE owners have to think on their feet to fulfil last-mile delivery.
The research also found a massive motivation for individuals to upskill, stay ahead of trends and make themselves the best they can be for the success of their business. In this way, young Kenyans are seizing opportunities to push forward with digital tools and earn a living in new ways.
Young people use tech to forge new paths across sectors
Outdated ideas of various sectors are being disrupted as young Kenyans use tech to transform the way these sectors operate. In farming, youth farmers are using tech to educate and bring more young people into the sector.
Joy, a 23-year-old onion farmer, said: “I have some clients who tell me, you’re still young you can be doing a white-collar job in the office […] [but] if people could visualize agriculture could be a bigger thing, and it’s not like it’s so poor, that is why you have opted for agriculture. It’s not poverty or an education thing, you can be so passionate about it like I am. We are young people, you see, our lines of business are mostly for old people, so they don’t believe in you.”
Elsewhere, artists are changing the way people view art, by using social media to create a newfound appreciation for the creative process. Creatives told us that sharing their work at every step of the way makes clients less likely to bargain and more likely to value their art more highly.
Driving as a profession has also seen its reputation challenged by young people on platforms. With increased professionalism and better pay, drivers are no longer seen as negatively as in the past.
Chris Locke, Founder of Caribou Digital, said:“Digital platforms are increasingly fundamental to economies across the world. This report is another important milestone in Caribou Digital’s work as we try to understand how young people are building their businesses using digital platforms and what the implications are for the development sector.
We saw a wide range of engagement highlighting the innovative ways young people are using platforms not only to build their business and support their livelihoods, but in many cases to pursue work they’re passionate about. Many participants combine work on formal apps with innovative use of social media, leveraging a broad array of digital skills and approaches.
As part of the report, working with Story X Design, a Nairobi-based multimedia company, we asked 16 participants to share self-shot videos telling their story of platform work. These videos provide a further look into the methods of those working on platforms in Kenya, with participants directly communicating their experiences in their own words.
We are grateful to Mastercard Foundation for their support, and Qhala for their expertise as a research partner.”
Shikoh Gitau, CEO of Qhala, said: “The gig economy has become an important source of livelihood for many young people in Kenya and in Africa. Understanding what motivates young people and witnessing first-hand their experiences was key to appreciating the size of the impact of the gig economy. We hope this report will make policymakers and platform creators more aware of the needs of digital entrepreneurs, so they can support entrepreneurs as they work to meet their goals.”
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.
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, is hosting a series of events dedicated to Blockchain.
DIFC Blockchain Week, a 4-day event that concludes today, is the first of a series of themed weeks being held at the DIFC Innovation Hub, the region’s largest innovation ecosystem that is designed to bring together innovators and investors to drive a new generation of digital businesses.
DIFC’s Innovation Hub is now home to over 60% of fintech and innovation companies based in the GCC, with a number of these companies developing Blockchain technologies. Companies operating in the DIFC Innovation Hub can take advantage of the support offered by the Centre to develop smart technology applications including education, networking, and funding initiatives.
DIFC hosted Blockchain Week to help accelerate the UAE’s digital economy and demonstrate its commitment to driving the future of finance.
A range of expert speakers, senior officials, and specialists discussed the most important issues and opportunities around the technology. Topics included encrypted banking services, digital assets and their regulation, smart contracts, as well as the investment landscape for innovation. DIFC also hosted two headline panel sessions entitled: ‘Will Blockchain and crypto reimagine the future of finance?’ and ‘How can Blockchain empower smart cities?’
The event also included a series of sessions focused on specific sectors, as well as interactive seminars and discussions to support companies and individuals in their future Blockchain strategies.
“Awareness and adoption of Blockchain is growing rapidly. DIFC Blockchain Week is a unique opportunity to meet the best minds in the sector and discuss ways to strengthen and expand Blockchain use cases. comments Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority. “DIFC will continue to play a pivotal role in promoting the adoption of Blockchain in financial services and other industries that contribute to Dubai’s economic growth.”
Banks of all levels, from large global firms to credit unions and challenger banks, are expressing interest in modernizing their core, Temenos Americas President Jacqueline White tells Bank Automation News in this week’s episode of “The Buzz” podcast. The reason varies, but core technology is aging, and with it the employees who can code in […]
The future of finance is being ushered in. And the pioneers of the new era lead the change from the FinovateFall stage this year.
We can’t tell you how exciting it was to welcome so many people back to Manhattan. It was made even sweeter by the fact that we were able to engage so many digital attendees at the same time. It felt good to be able to bring our community together again!
Following the long-anticipated meeting of minds and ideas, we looked back on the themes that emerged and will steer the industry forward into unchartered territory. It’s impossible, of course, to distill so many conversations down to a few high-level takeaways. However, within these pages are snippets and insights from on-and-off-stage to give you a taste of the action and a spark of the knowledge shared.
The European money management app Plum is set to offer its customers a stake in the company through the launch of a new customer-focused crowdfunding campaign.
The London-based app has experienced significant growth as a result of the public increasingly turning to technology to better manage their finances. Plum now intends to give its enlarged customer base a greater share in its future.
Plum has not given customers the chance to invest in the company since an oversubscribed round back in 2019. This time, Plum is working with Crowdcube to engage potential shareholders, with the campaign set to go live at the end of September.
The goal is to give customers another opportunity to invest in a company they care about, alongside the regular investments they make through the Plum app. By becoming an investor in Plum, customers will also be able to have an increased say in the future of the company at a time of critical growth.
The company aims for its valuation to triple, through a combination of crowdfunding and a raise via institutional investors. Plum has raised $19.3 million to date, with the last funding round in July 2020 with major investors Global Brain, the EBRD, and Venture Friends. Plum, which has been backed by LendInvest’s Christian Faes for previous rounds, will also be backed by Truelayer’s CEO and co-founder Francesco Simoneschi and ComplyAdvantage’s CEO and founder Charles Delingpole.
Plum’s co-founder and CEO, Victor Trokoudes, launched the company in 2017 when he was struggling to save and invest himself. Trokoudes previously was head of international at Wise, the fintech success story which recently floated on the London Stock Exchange at a valuation of £10 billion. Since its launch, Plum has grown from a Facebook chatbot to a highly intelligent app that has helped nearly 2 million people across Europe to better manage their finances.
2021 has been a big year so far for Plum, with registered customer numbers on track for 2.5 million by the end of the year. The company has seen 240% growth in assets under management year-on-year since June 2020, reflecting the boom in savings and investing during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than $900 million has now been stashed away by Plum customers across Europe since the company launched in 2017.
Sustainability has continued to be a key focus for the company with the launch of the new ‘Plum Ultra’ subscription tier in May. Increasing numbers of customers are trusting Plum to help them grow their money even faster with extra features and rules as part of the company’s three subscription tiers. The number of customers subscribing to a paid tier (Plus, Pro or Ultra) has tripled in the past year, resulting in revenue being up 189% year-on-year.
This increase in revenue has been fueled by the development of subscription-only features designed to help customers be better off over time. Major launches included the Money Maximiser, an automated money manager that shifts money between saving and spending to control budgets while maximising interest. The company also launched a Plum pension, where customers can consolidate their existing pensions in one place at a low cost and set money aside continuously for their retirement alongside their regular savings.
The company has simultaneously been proactive about its European expansion, launching in France, Spain, and Ireland in the first half of 2021; with 20% of new customers now deriving from outside the UK. The company has been bulking up its physical presence on the continent too, growing the team in Athens by 70% in a year. A new European base was also opened in February in Nicosia, Cyprus with the aim of further developing its multi-asset investment offering across Europe.
As for the rest of 2021, Plum is set to launch its first stock investing product, which will allow customers to invest in individual companies they care about alongside their diversified mutual funds. A Plum card, currently in development by the company, will in the future offer subscribed customers a convenient digital spending method linked to the Money Maximiser. Plum aims to expand further in Europe in 2022, with plans underway to launch in Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
Speaking on the new crowdfunding opportunity, Plum’s CEO Victor Trokoudes comments, “Crowdfunding played a key part in Plum’s success in the early days. Back then, Plum was a simple chatbot, but we had a great community from the start who were keen to support us financially as well. The past few years have all been about validating our business model and realising our vision for a financial super app. Now, we’re ready to scale and the time feels right to share our success again with the people who made it possible – the customers. 2020 has been big and 2021 will be even bigger with our army of shareholders by our side.”
In an effort to cultivate a paperless future for receipts, the Finnish digital receipt platform ReceiptHero has reportedly formed a strategic partnership with both Mastercard and Visa.
The collaboration will allow ReceiptHero to scale their operations beyond Finland and across Europe, subsequently providing more merchants with the opportunity to send their receipts to private and business customers digitally.
It’s reported that ReceiptHero will leverage both Mastercard and Visa’s platform for real-time transactions to be used as part of the digital receipt delivery process. Unlike email or paper receipts, a digital receipt automatically matches the structured purchase data to the right transaction. Having both card networks supporting ReceiptHero technically will allow for a giant step in the adoption of digital receipts.
By partnering with ReceiptHero, Visa aims to drive the adoption of digital receipts across Europe, whilst anticipating the impact of eliminating paper receipts. Specifically, ReceiptHero will benefit from the use of the Visa Offers Platform – an API-based tool that will enable them to access authorisation data across Europe and expand their merchant customer base.
“We’ve been really impressed with ReceiptHero’s approach to building out the digital receipt infrastructure,” comments Pratap Gautam, Visa’s VP Head of Buyer and Seller Solutions. “The team has proven the platform works in Finland and we’re looking forward to supporting them to grow throughout Europe.”
Similarly to Visa, Mastercard has been investing significantly into their sustainability efforts. One of those being the Priceless Planet Coalition, whereby Mastercard aims to restore 100 million trees by 2025. Where Mastercard and ReceiptHero can have a direct impact is encouraging people to make mindful spending choices through personalised insights, which can be visible on a digital receipt.
“ReceiptHero participated in our Lighthouse Programme in late 2020, since then we have been working towards a partnership that is mutually beneficial for both,” comments Erik Gutwasser, Division President, Mastercard Nordics and Baltics. “At Mastercard, we have many opportunities to support a world where digital receipts are the defacto proof of purchase. We are excited to get up and running with ReceiptHero.”
For point of sale (PoS) partners, ReceiptHero supports as an integrated partner allowing their merchants to go live with digital receipts as seamlessly as possible. By working with Visa and Mastercard, PoS partners will be able to provide the ReceiptHero service to all their merchants, regardless of the payment terminal they use.
“From the very beginning, we believed the card networks played a key role in how digital receipts are adopted, after all, it’s the only part of the payment experience to have not been fully digitalised,” comments Joel Ojala, the CEO of ReceiptHero. “This partnership provides rocket fuel for our growth into new markets but also supports all of our existing ecosystem partners with a better experience. We can’t wait to get started.”
Digital receipts are not just ecologically sustainable, they also save on a lot of physical posting and enable merchants and consumers with an opportunity to analyse their purchase data and better understand the behaviour of consumer consumption.
“This is a rally cry to merchants across Europe who haven’t started sending receipts to their customers digitally, now is the time to join the movement, and let’s together stop the ecological disaster known as the paper receipt!” added Joel. “Delivering truly digital receipts might sound simple on the surface but in reality, it requires all ecosystem partners working together to make it the new normal. The new business models created by building the foundations will be a billion-dollar opportunity so it’s best to be on this journey with us from the start.”
ReceiptHero has announced that they intend to continue their work with key partners, such as Worldline and Verifone. By having access to a local level within the merchant’s store, ReceiptHero is building out interesting features and functionality to allow both merchants and customers to benefit from digital receipts.
With ReceiptHero’s platform being fully operational in Finland for the past two years, the company has activated an extensive catalogue of merchants across the country. Two of the largest corporate banks in the region, SEB and Nordea have also embraced digital receipts with direct integrations with ReceiptHero. Finland has been accelerating towards digital receipt adoption and the model is expected to be replicated across other European markets.
15% of organisations are still using a combination of disk and tape backups, whilst 51% now utilise online or cloud backups; according to the recently published data of the business continuity and IT disaster recovery provider Databarracks.
Such findings have been derived from Databarracks’ ‘2021 Data Health Check‘. Running since 2008, the annual report surveys over 400 IT decision-makers in the UK on cloud, backups, cybersecurity, IT resilience, and remote working.
In 2021 particularly, the report found that the popularity of cloud and online-based backups has continued to increase, rising from the 23% recorded in 2008, to the 51% highlighted in the 2021 report.
In addition to this, the report also detailed how 4% still use tape as their only backup medium, a figure that has remained unchanged since 2012. However, the report also found how combined disk and tape use has declined from a peak of 29% in 2012, to 15%.
A tape drive has been a favourable form of data backup since its inception back in the 1950’s. The cartridge format harnesses magnetic tape to store data in an offline capacity, and is synonymous with its low cost per unit, and long archival stability. Tape drives also offer the benefit of being incorruptible from malware and viruses, however recovery of the data if the cartridge is damaged or lost still proves to be problematic.
Speaking on the findings on the data, Peter Groucutt, the Managing Director for Databarracks, remarked, “When we first started the Data Health Check in 2008, almost a fifth of organisations were still using tape as their only backup medium. By 2012, companies were moving to a combination of disk and tape or switching to online or cloud backup.”
Has the use of tape drives died? Peter doesn’t seem to think so. “Reports of tape’s death seem to have been greatly exaggerated. It still remains relatively popular,” he comments.
Whilst discussing the capabilities of tape drives and the unshakeable popularity that they retain, Peter adds, “Storage prices have reduced to make cloud backup viable for the majority of the market, but the lowest-cost method of storage is still tape. For organisations with vast data volumes – in industries such as life sciences or broadcast media – it meets that need.
“Tape is also difficult and slow to eliminate completely due to the years of historic backups you need to keep. Smaller businesses often make a clean break and switch to a new method however, larger firms and those with compliance requirements need to keep tape drives and tapes for several years. This puts some companies off moving due to the cost and manpower required to manage two backup methods while older retentions expire. The industry has been lamenting the decline of tapes for decades but even now, it seems they are here to stay”
Peter says there are still major benefits to moving to faster and more efficient cloud backups. “Backup is one of the repetitive jobs that can really take time away from the IT team. Improving the speed of backups is not one of the most exciting IT projects, but it has a huge impact on the efficiency of IT operations. The lockdowns over the last 18 months have also driven more interest in completely automated backup solutions that don’t require manual interaction like with tape libraries.”
This Thursday’s latest The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup delivers a healthy dose of fintech updates, including investment news and new hires.
OptioPay has appointed Naser Al-Shraydeh as chief financial officer. He will oversee the strategic financial direction of the business, mainly focusing on further developing business intelligence, performance management, compliance and HR. The German fintech platform recently completed a Series B financing round.
Global fintech Gresham Technologies has unveiled Julian Trostinsky – ex Duco VP – as its new global director of customer success. It follows Gresham’s acquisition of Electra’s data aggregation service and its out-of-the box post-trade capabilities for the buy-side in June.
Meanwhile fintech Acrisure has appointed Lowell Singer as chief financial officer. He joins following 14 years with The Walt Disney Company, where he served as senior vice president of investor relations. Earlier this year, Acrisure announced a capital raise of $3.4billion. The company also expects to grow approximately 50 per cent this year.
Peter George has been appointed managing director for Amazon Payment Services (APS) in MENA. He will lead the team in a period of expansion in the region by developing partnerships, penetrating new markets, as well as enabling the digitisation of businesses across all sectors. Following the appointment, George has reolocated to Dubai.
Veteran retail CEO John Browett has joined home setup service Just Move In as chairman. He previously held CEO roles at Tesco.com, Dixons Retail, Dunelm Group and Monsoon-Accessorize. Browett will help the fintech and home setup service grow its customer base as well as move into new markets beyond the home move.
Finally, Paysafe has appointed Zak Cutler, as CEO, North America iGaming. The newly created executive role forms part of Paysafe’s ongoing strategic focus in the North American iGaming vertical. The company provides 75 per cent of operators in the country with payments or marketing solutions across 16 states.
Hedera Hashgraph, the public network for the decentralised economy, has unveiled Indian Institutes of Technology Madras (IITM) as the newest member of its governing council. The technology university joins a rotating council of up to 39 global organisations that enables the decentralised governance model for the Hedera public ledger.
Microsoft has chosen Spain as the base of operations for its new R&D hub specialised in the application of AI technologies to improve user experience on the web. The facility will be one of eight research centers worldwide and part of Microsoft’s WebXT division.
Meanwhile fintech Routefusion has completed the overhaul of its platform, building a brand new API in GraphQL. GraphQL is a query language and server-side runtime that prioritises giving clients exactly the data they request and no more. The overhaul took Routefusion’s entire engineering team six months to complete.
Payments processor Global Processing Services (GPS) has selected Victoria House in London’s Knowledge Quarter to base its brand-new global headquarters. News of the office move follows a period of significant growth for the global issuer processor. GPS increased its headcount by 44 per cent in 2021, making strategic hires across its London, Newcastle, Dubai, Singapore and Sydney offices. It has partnered with London-based office provider LABS to lease 6,100 square feet of its premises.
Further industry updates
Nucleus Commercial Finance has reached £2billion in lending to SMEs. The milestone follows a year of record growth for the fintech which saw it lend more than £450million to UK businesses in 2020. The implementation of open banking has resulted in the fintech making 90 per cent of application decisions within one hour.
FinTech Australia has released an industry policy document offering guidance to fintechs on best practices for parental leave entitlements. The policy says employers should offer 12 week paid parental leave at full pay, including superannuation. Partners are also entitled to two weeks parental leave at full pay.
Technology companies, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft and TikTok have pledged to support Take Five to Stop Fraud, the anti-fraud campaign run by UK Finance. The firms are collectively donating $1million worth of advertising to the campaign. This support flows from the work of a recently established online fraud steering group with representatives from the technology and banking industries and law enforcement.
Temenos and IBM collaborate to accelerate hybrid Cloud adoption in the financial services industry. The Temenos Transact next-generation core banking with Red Hat OpenShift is now on IBM Cloud. Temenos Transact provides a clear modernisation path for banks to adopt a cloud strategy for their core banking systems.
Mergers and acquistions
Access PaySuite (a division of Access UK Ltd) has acquired electronic direct debit provider SmartDebit. Following FCA approval of the deal, Access PaySuite has a customer base of more than 6,500 and processes 82 million transactions annually, with a value in excess of £6.5billion. Access PaySuite will deliver payments through Access Workspace.
Asian esports company Ampverse has announced a strategic majority stake acquisition of esports teams, MiTH (Made in Thailand) and Fullerton Markets. Since Ampverse opened its offices in 2019, it has expanded into multiple markets and now manages nine teams across Asia. Its strategy has been to acquire high potential esports communities across the region.
Funding and investments
SaaS regtech provider PassFort has closed a $16.2million Series A funding round. Led by growth equity fund Level Equity with additional participation from existing investors OpenOcean, Episode 1 and Entrepreneur First. The funds will support PassFort’s global growth plans as well as its ambition to be the category leader in compliance automation for regulated businesses.
Digital Media Nusantara has secured venture financing from Malaysia Debt Ventures Berhad (MDV). The funding will be used to accelerate its mission to become Southeast Asia’s first fintech media firm. Its ecosystem of brands include The ASEAN Post, Reimagining Southeast Asia and Spotlights Labs.
Fintech startup Lightyear has closed an $8.5million funding round. It takes the total raised pre-launch to $10million, following a first funding round of $1.5million from angel investors. The latest topup includes investors Mosaic Ventures, Taavet+Sten, Metaplanet’s Jaan Tallinn and early Monzo backer Eileen Burbidge. Lightyear is now onboarding customers from its waiting list that has been growing since the company came out of stealth mode earlier this summer.
Zafin, the SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform, has expanded its collaboration with IBM to help financial institutions speed their digital transformations with hybrid cloud. Zafin has joined IBM’s partner ecosystem collaborating on the IBM Cloud for Financial Services to help partners accelerate transactions with financial services institutions.
Halfords has joined forces with charity-backed fintech Wagestream in order to introduce a range of services for colleagues that reduce financial stress and improve financial wellbeing. 10,000 employees at the automotive retailer will get financial education, budgeting and savings, built around flexible pay.
Electronic money institution Nexpay has teamed up with Salt Edge, the open-banking SaaS firm. Nexpay is now running SCA and all authentication processes through apps developed by Salt Edge. The technology uses data encryption and anonymisation during the customer journey.
“We think Salt Edge is providing a much better UX compared to the SMS-based two-factor authentication processes we are replacing.”
Uldis Teraudkalns, CEO at Nexpay
Currencycloud, the B2B cross-border payments firm, has partnered with Flutterwave, the African payments technology company. The partnership lets Flutterwave’s merchants send and receive money transfers at a significant scale. It also lets merchants receive payments by channels other than debit card.
Ebury, the transaction platform, has chosen Galvanize’s HighBond platform to unify and streamline its enterprise risk and control management. The platform gives full visibility over risks and controls, and will provide a scalable system without adding cost.
BSO, in partnership with Geneva-based ImpactScope, has become the first connectivity provider to offer clients that trade cryptocurrencies the means to calculate and offset the excess carbon emissions of their operations. BSO’s existing client base has full access to ImpactScope’s suite of solutions.
InComm Payments has expanded its Serve suite of prepaid produts with a ‘Pay As You Go’ Visa prepaid card in the US. The new card enables spending with no monthly charges and only a small fee when a purchase is made. The updated Serve product suite is available online at the newly designed serve.com and at retailers across the country.
Lending bank DF Capital has developed a digital interactive channel for savings customers to self-serve their accounts. The online savings platform has been developed in partnership with ieDigital and is also underpinned by Mambu, the SaaS cloud banking platform. Customers can make instant decisions on various tasks, as well as view balances.
Infura, a ConsenSys company providing blockchain developer tools, has released its Ethereum transaction relaying service, Infura Transactions (ITX). ITX makes sending transactions easier for the developer, such as handling stuck transactions and managing nonces. It also helps prevent fee overpayment when the Ethereum network is significantly congested.
Fintech startup PayBy has launched Send Paylink, a new point of sale feature that enables quicker and easier sales. Using the PayBy POS, merchants can create a payment link to send to customers. When customers receive the link, they can pay through the PayBy app or with their bank card, instead of paying by cash.
Tide, the business financial platform, has launched a new TV and Out Of Home campaign, starring real businesses instead of actors. It aims to highlight how the platform helps founders spend less time on admin and more time to do what they love. 20- and 30-second ads will air across a range of TV channels.
Network International has introduced its N-Genius app to support digital payment acceptance among UAE small businesses. The N-Genius app uses NFC technology to convert an eligible Android smartphone into a mobile contactless payment device, without the need for additional hardware.
Finally, TrueLayer, the open banking platform, has unveiled Payouts, a solution to tackle the issues of slow withdrawals and refunds. Payouts is already being used by TrueLayer clients, including online car retailer Cazoo. The launch of Payouts continues the expansion of TrueLayer’s solution following the launch of PayDirect in January.
The world is constantly looking for new innovative ways to do things, but there is often a misconception that if a company fails, its idea was bad. This is not always the case, however, it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of investors and makes them lose confidence in startups in the field.
Stephen Holliday is the CEO of Level, the paytech providing salary-linked services that enable workers to instantly access, save and budget from their earned wages. Looking closely at the events of the past year, namely the pandemic, Holliday looks at what innovations took place to help NHS workers, using Greensill Capital owned, Earnd as a case study:
While it’s not uncommon for startups to fail, in the world of technology, a failed startup often comes with a presumption that the innovative new solution offered by the bankrupt business was not up to par. This lack of trust in tech has a rippling effect and can hinder the growth of tech startups in an already challenging and competitive market.
One very public example is the earned wage access app Earnd, which was handed over to administrators to wind down in the Spring after its owners, Greensill Capital, went bust.
The Greensill scandal and the collapse of the earned wage access app created a lot of press. At the time, Earnd’s platform was being used by a significant number of NHS workers to access their wages before payday, including doctors and nurses who had already spent more than a year battling the covid-19 pandemic on the frontline. Earnd going out of business left staff without an important financial wellbeing solution that they had come to benefit from.
It’s worth stressing, however, that the Greensill issue is exactly that: a Greensill issue. Earnd, and the brilliantly innovative technology behind it, was not the problem. As the lack of access to the service in the NHS is being felt across the workforce, it’s clear that the technology was making a real change, providing staff with positive behavioural changes and improving their financial wellbeing.
It’s a case of ‘right technology, wrong people behind it.’ Fortunately for the NHS and other organisations prioritising financial wellbeing, there are tech companies offering earned wage access and other behavioural solutions to financial health via an innovative app platform.
On-demand access for earned wages
Published at the start of the year, The Woolard Review from the Financial Conduct Authority was set up to look at the unsecured credit market, but also how changes in regulation would improve consumer confidence. This included what the Woolard Review called Employer Salary Advance Schemes (or ESAS), a payment innovation sometimes known as on-demand access for earned wages. This helps income smoothing by empowering people to afford unforeseen expenditure prior to pay day, without the need for other forms of high-cost credit. This might include unexpected vet or car bills that could occur at any time in the month.
The Woolard Review looked favourable upon on-demand access for earned wages, stating that ‘a sustainable market needs more alternatives to high-cost credit.’ In short, done properly, on-demand pay would be a significant benefit.
As is evidenced by hundreds of thousands of employees in a wide variety of sectors across the UK, such financial wellbeing platforms do work when they’re run by the right people with the right expertise and approach. Deployed properly, they can and must be a resource for the NHS to support their employees. Public sector staff faced with nominal salary increases must be given access to financial health and wellbeing solutions that help them save money, afford unexpected expenditure and become better at managing their personal finances.
Financial wellbeing is a relatively new way of supporting employees, with physical and then mental health being the key focus for many. But new research is highlighting just how much of an impact poor financial management has on employees, and as a result, their employers. For employers looking to support their staff with their mental and physical health, taking the necessary steps to support their financial health needs to be a top priority.
Why is this important for employers?
Employers in the public sector have the chance to set the tone in the private sector as well – playing a unique role in the financial health of their workforce. One in four UK workers reported to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) that money worries have affected their ability to do their job. Losing sleep, stress, depression and other mental health conditions take their toll, and result in lost performance and more days of absence. The covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on financial wellbeing which has added to the urgency for employers to take action. If those employers are the NHS, whose employees are on the front line, that’s even more essential.
Good financial wellbeing platforms enable customers to access wages after they have earned them, plan and budget accordingly, and avoid unnecessary debt caused by short-term cash-flow issues. Many NHS workers have fluctuating incomes due to working overtime as on variable contracts, so this helps them keep control of their finances. Even those on higher salaries may face financial challenges, as debt in the UK has increased as a result of the pandemic
The NHS needs to care about financial wellbeing, because at their core they are about health. And financial wellbeing plays a huge role in this.
Good suppliers do not offer just tech, but compassion and knowledge of the unique position that the NHS is in. They work in partnership. In fact, NHS Employers have a financial wellbeing guide they produced to enable HR leaders responsible for rewards to develop a strategic approach. Financial wellbeing platforms that gain the trust of the NHS will be aligned to this way of working.
They can also help save the NHS money. Regular payments are one of the reasons people join agencies or become ‘bank’ staff. By allowing access to wages as and when needed, the NHS can attract and retain more people, saving an average of 20% on agency staff.
On-demand pay cannot work alone
To aid and encourage a savings culture, on-demand pay must be offered as a holistic package. This means to benefit from access to short-term credit without the need for a credit card or further debt. However, in isolation, there is a risk of trapping people in bad cycles of behaviour. The key in a financial wellbeing solution is to empower employees to adopt a savings mindset, building a pay buffer too to avoid debt and meet future life goals.
As we said, employers like the NHS have a privileged position and can use it to deploy ‘salary linked’ services such as saving products not available on the open market. Further, educational resources empower users and establish new financial habits. By incorporating behavioural economics, nudge theory and product design they help create sustainable behaviour change that has long term benefits. They offer a holistic suite of services including comprehensive budgeting tools, financial education and savings techniques that address the symptoms of financial ill health. It is a financial toolkit, that people are not reliant on, but empowered by.
When data powers the platform everyone benefits – the organisation and the financial health of its users. Negative correlations, or signals of financial vulnerability, include days in overdraft per month, volatility of account balance, variable income receipt. Employers like the NHS can be plugged into information that they can use to help employees. A data-centric approach is driving innovation across the public sector and will enhance the financial wellbeing of both organisations and their employees.
The Earnd debacle must not cause public sector employers to retreat into their shells. Staff on the NHS frontline deserve financial wellbeing solutions that help them manage unforeseen expenditure and become better custodians of their earned wages. Implemented properly, these solutions will win back the trust of the public sector once again.