launches CBILS application platform and free information hub to help give businesses confidence in times of uncertainty

The launch comes in response to the chancellor’s unveiling of measures designed to combat disruption caused by coronavirus (Covid-19)  

Adviser-led funding platform, is announcing that it has launched a single point of access Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) application platform to make it easier for small businesses to apply for government-backed loans. Both businesses and their accountants will be able to compare, apply and access funds from the approved lenders on the government scheme to help reduce the financial consequences of Covid-19. has also launched a centralised support hub which offers free resources and advice, to help give small businesses and their advisors financial confidence in times of uncertainty. has been championing accountants and empowering them to act as advisors for SMEs, taking over the role previously held by bank managers, since it launched in 2015. Funding applications are already rising significantly; data shows that there was a 100% rise in the number of applications for SME financing last week, with the value of lending requested increasing by 250% on average. What’s more, the first two days of this week alone saw the same volume of applications as last week’s total.

This shows that businesses are already feeling the financial ramifications of Covid-19, but despite the Government’s efforts, confusion and uncertainty has been high as lender behaviours continue to change. has also found that the acceptance window for unsecured lending has reduced from 30 to seven days, however secured lenders are requesting a higher level of security and coverage, and more documentation is needed to make underwriting decisions. Applicants are also being asked to provide full details on the impact that Covid-19 will have on their business. With such complexity to contend with, the role of the accountant is more important than ever in supporting their clients through this process.

It is hoped that the CBILs application platform, coupled with free access to’s business hub, will help businesses access the funding they need to confidently navigate this changing economic climate, as quickly as possible.’s business hub provides up to date information, training, guides and webinars, including:

  • Access to business interruption loans- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CBILS”) from the British Business Bank

  • Access to the entire lending market with insight into lenders’ changing appetite, particularly in retail

  • Access to £1.3 billion of lending backed by the government.

Paul Surtees, CEO and co-founder at said: “We’ve built these services with the aim of providing all the necessary support and information SMEs need to help them weather the storm. Coupled with the declining number of physical bank branches, the current situation places the utmost importance on accountants being able to provide the information needed by SMEs. Ultimately, peoples’ health is what’s most important, so hopefully, by helping take care of finances, business leaders will be able to focus on what matters most without distractions.” are hosting a number of live webinar sessions for accountants, find out more here.

Global Fintech and the COVID-19 Crisis

The fight against the coronavirus pandemic has captured the attention of people all over the world. From medical professionals on the front lines of caring for the sick to small businesses making hard decisions about how to keep their workforces intact during lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, everyone has been touched by the current crisis.

Earlier this week, we took a look at how fintechs and financial services firms are rising to the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak. Looking at three different areas – safety, digitalization, and service – we saw how companies in countries ranging from Russia and India to the U.K. and the U.S. are lending their insights, talents, and generosity to the cause.

Companies like London-based Aire, a Finovate alum that is offering lenders three months of free access to its credit insight service, are an example of what is happening across the fintech space. “We’re seeing an unprecedented level of change in the market for consumers right now,” company founder and CEO Aneesh Varma said. “Lenders are understandably stretched and struggling to build accurate pictures of their customers in real-time.”

CoinDCX Cashes In: Two weeks ago we interviewed Neeraj Khandelwal, co-founder of Indian cryptocurrency trading platform CoinDCX, on cryptocurrencies and cashlessness. This week, we learned that the company has raised $3 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Polychain Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, and HDR Group. The capital will help the company launch new products, boost R&D efforts and marketing, and build the CoinDCX team.

“As the country’s largest exchange, we are in a position to drive national crypto adoption forward responsibly,” CEO and co-founder Sumit Gupta said. “This successful investment round will go a long way in funding our vision of accelerating India’s growth into a $5 trillion economy.”

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Kenya-based telecom Safaricom to waive fees for its M-Pesa mobile money service to help customers avoid cash during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Somalia’s MyBank to deploy Sharia-compliant, core banking technology from Path Solutions.
  • Ghana goes live with its Universal Quick Response (QR) Code and Proxy Pay system.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • SME Finance, a factoring services provider for businesses in the Baltics and Poland, picks up 10 million euro investment from new partner, Citadele Bank of Latvia.
  • Berlin, Germany-based, digital business bank Penta raises 18.5 million euros in new funding.
  • The COVID crisis has authorities in Russia decontaminating cash and urging citizens to use digital payments.
  • Erste Bank Hungary deploys mobile security technology from OneSpan.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • DriveWealth announces its first MENA region partnership: a collaboration with UAE-based wealth management firm, Wealthface.
  • Al Ansari Exchange taps Pelican for financial crime compliance.
  • Emirates’ World Investments commits to investment of $255 million in Australian challenger bank Xinja.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Mobile payments company HUMBL forges new partnership with Digital India Payments.
  • Singapore-based anti-fraud solutions provider Advance.AI opens offices in Bengaluru and Delhi.
  • Indian alt lender Vivriti Capital secures $50 million in Series B funding.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican SME lender Creditjusto raises $100 million in debt financing from Credit Suisse Group.
  • Brazilian fintech Creditas announces plans to boost staff by 500 by the end of the year.
  • Wirecard teams up with Mexico’s Banca Afirme as the German digital payments solutions provider extends further into the Mexican market.


  • TransferWise teams up with Alipay to enable fund transfers to China.
  • Bank of China launches its AI-based FX trading signal app via Eikon.
  • Thai remittance company DeeMoney goes live on RippleNet.

Top image designed by Freepik

Robinhood accused of offering snafu credits to squelch suit

Robinhood Financial Inc., facing lawsuits over crashes on its trading platform amid violent stock market swings, is now being accused of offering a “$75 goodwill credit” to dupe customers into waiving their legal rights.

Attorneys for users who are suing the beleaguered online brokerage company asked a federal judge in Florida to order Robinhood to stop sending “misleading communications” and to void any releases already signed by customers.

“We view this type of activity by Robinhood as a calculated attempt to wipe out users’ class action claims without informing the users that they can instead participate in the class action should they so choose” lawyer Michael S. Taaffe said in a statement.

Robinhood’s platform has gone down multiple times this month, creating problems for trading equities, options and cryptocurrency. The crashes have set back the Silicon Valley startup, which has been trying to lure young, tech-savvy investors who want to trade entirely online.

Robinhood said in an emailed statement that it’s quickly compensating customers who contact the company on a “case-by-case review.” The company said it aims to compensate customers before the conclusion of the litigation to avoid a long wait. Claims that Robinhood is attempting to block customers from participating in any class action are inaccurate, according to the statement.

— Joel Rosenblatt (Bloomberg)

— With assistance from John Gittelsohn (Bloomberg)

4 business challenges of COVID-19 and solutions to fight them

While financial services companies large and small scramble to cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, there may be a silver lining to the gloom, according to Delos Advisors. The company, which provides guidance to senior management of financial institutions in the Americas, shed light on potential solutions to some of the business implications stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak in a white paper shared …Read More

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Umpqua’s Go-To sees usage spike as customers avoid branches

Portland-based Umpqua Bank, which has almost $29 billion in assets, is seeing a significant spike in volume on its Go-To app, a digital tool that allows customers to message a banker of their choice. According to Brian Read, Umpqua’s head of retail and small business banking, enrollment on the platform has spiked 30%, while interactions …Read More

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Weekly Wrap: Coronavirus dislocation continues to rock fintech

In a week that saw the coronavirus pandemic amplify in the United
States, the fintech sector continued to weather economic
dislocation and uncertainty. But even amid this uncertainty,
fintech companies began formulating strategies to help banking and
consumers emerge from the crisis with better tools and solutions.
In this WFH roundtable, Bianca Chan, Rick Morgan, […]

Moven Minds its Business in B2B Pivot

Blame it on the ‘rona? In a transition announced earlier this week, Moven – which made headlines recently with its partnership with Saudi Arabia’s STC Pay – is moving away from the direct to consumer / neobank model to focus on what founder Brett King summed up as “our distributed smart banking and financial wellness capabilities.”

“It has become patently clear we need to focus our energies and our resources on the segment of our business where we can reach the most consumers moving forward,” King said.

The company specifically noted the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Moven’s funding pipeline as a leading factor in the decision. The company emphasized that its Enterprise business remains healthy and well-funded.

“The Moven brand now has the opportunity to represent patented financial well-being, available to enterprises of all types,” Head of Moven’s U.S. Strategy Denny Brandt said. “Our patent gives us competitive strength in a rapidly evolving B2B environment. We continue to be involved in ventures in multiple geographies where we power direct-to-consumer banking services.”

Moven announced that it will close customer accounts at the end of April. The company has begun to communicate with accountholders to let them know what to expect as well as to ensure a smooth transition.

Founded in 2011, Moven made its Finovate debut a few years later at FinovateEurope in London, earning a Best of Show award. The New York-based company, among the first to combine smartphone apps, debit cards, and bank accounts as part of a unified strategy for managing personal finances, launched Moven Enterprise in 2016 to license its technology to banks and other financial institutions. Moven Enterprise debuted on the Finovate stage at FinovateEurope in 2017, showing how its engagement platform brings value to customers while producing measurable, positive business outcomes for banks.

Notably, Moven’s partnership with STC Pay is not the company’s first foray into the MENA region. A little over a year ago, Moven announced that it was teaming up with Bahrain-based Almoayad Technologies, which is leveraging the company’s technology to help fulfill the open banking mandate from the country’s central bank.

Fintech Facts About Mobile Wallets & Payments [Infographic]

Mobile Wallets are the future.” In a lot of places, the future is already here. This is especially true in developing countries where smartphones are offering users their first taste of the internet.

Reasons Why Mobile Wallets Are Disrupting The Payments Industry:

  • Banks
    Many people don’t have access to banks or credit / debit cards.
  • Danger
    Dangerous conditions make people not want to carry cash in some countries.
  • Smartphones
    Mobile Phone usage is exploding in developing countries.
  • Bundling
    Companies are bundling digital wallets with recharging of talk minutes and internet data.
  • Special Offers
    Some digital wallets give their users special partners offers like discount movie or bus tickets if they pay with a certain digital wallet or payment provider.
  • Peer to Peer (P2P)
    It’s cheap and easy to instantly transfer money between friends & family.
  • Low Cost
    It’s even low cost for businesses to accepts payments. They don’t need any special equipment. Just their normal smartphone.
  • Exchange Rates
    Many mobile wallets & payment providers handle exchange rates seamlessly for users.

See why Mobile Wallets & Payments are taking over phones with this Fintech infographic thanks to Coupon Hippo:


Source: Coupon Hippo

7 Technologies Disrupting the Finance Industry [Infographic]

In the past decade, the financial industry has evolved rapidly – and it’s continuing to change. Transactions that were once only possible through personal visits to financial institutions can now be completed with just a few taps on a mobile phone. If, in the past, you had to personally hand over a cash or a check to pay your bills, now, you can transfer funds online, whether to a friend or to a company.

But, these changes were not brought about by the industry’s determined effort. Thanks to technological advancements that have changed the way the world works, the finance sector was compelled to respond and adapt to today’s digital era. Unfortunately, until now, only 12 percent of financial services companies are mature in their digital transformation.

Take cryptocurrency, for instance. Cryptocurrency came into fruition with the development of blockchain, a decentralized, peer-to-peer financial ledger technology. Blockchain was developed to eliminate the need for a middleman during a value exchange and make transactions faster. Then, sometime in 2010, when Bitcoin became popular and other cryptocurrencies emerged, the financial industry scrambled to understand what blockchain and digital coins are, and started to regulate the cryptocurrency market.

This development also prompted financial institutions to offer consumers more convenient ways to transact with each other and lead to a surge in mobile and online banking solutions. Consumer demand changes as the internet becomes faster and more technologies emerge,. Ultimately, the finance sector must adapt, or else consumers will choose more convenient alternatives and FinTech companies will continue to eat market share of an  industry that was protected and untouchable for decades.

The finance industry as we know it is changing and here are the significant technologies disrupting the industry.

7 technologies disrupting the financial industry infographic

Not many people remember a great deal about the 2008 global financial crisis, and even less talk about that fateful Monday when financial giant Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. Fast forward ten years later, and here we are, seemingly fully recovered. Consumers now enjoy more convenient platforms to keep, grow, and manage their money.

But the tech innovations that brought consumers faster banking and payment services are also the very disruptors that financial services organizations are working hard to beat or at the very least, adapt.

1. Cloud Computing

The finance industry was quick to adopt cloud computing, with many institutions and service firms realizing its many benefits. Although the financial sector has gradually integrated cloud computing into their business processes, it still has a long way to go. According to Stephan Fabel, director of products at Canonical, financial institutions are lagging behind other businesses as 70 percent  of them are only at the initial, or trial and testing, stage of deploying cloud computing as a central part of their IT operations.

With cloud-native FinTech disruptors continuing to lead the path to digital transformation, Accenture estimates it could impact up to 80 percent of existing banking revenues by 2020. To remain relevant and thrive in today’s competitive market, there is an undeniable need for financial institutions to harness the power of cloud computing.

2. Open APIs

Open application programming interfaces, also known as open APIs, create partnerships and bridge financial institutions, businesses, consumers, and products and service—specifically in the payments sector. It enables different companies’ software programs and applications to communicate and interact with each other, delivering efficient and reliable online banking and improved customer experience. Due to its many advantages, in the recent survey during the SWIFT’s Latin America Regional Conference 2018, 70 percent of the audience indicated that their organizations are using APIs.

Through opening its APIs, financial institutions can now extend their services by allowing other companies to access particular business data and functionalities which they can seamlessly plug into their own digital payments system. In this way, the finance industry can remain competitive and relevant in the digital ecosystem.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are seen as revolutionary game-changers in the finance industry. They have the ability to solve a wide spectrum of complex business problems through algorithms that enable banks to accurately sift through, assess, and leverage millions of data points. Through precise analytics provided by AI and ML, financial institutions can automate processes, assess and manage risks, and detect and prevent fraud.

Although the finance industry is certainly one of the most data-rich sectors, only 32 percent of financial services executives confirmed that they are using AI technologies.

4. The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, also known as IoT, links almost everything under the sun including devices, cars, appliances, buildings, and people through building a network of wireless connections via the internet. Since it brings exponential advantages to businesses around the world, its global market is predicted to grow up to $25 billion by 2020.

With its wide array of applications, IoT is rapidly changing the finance industry—improving security in mobile banking, automating financial transactions and financial activities, and boosting overall customer experience.

5. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic process automation, or RPA, enables financial institutions to automate repetitive business processes and tasks through software robots—a virtual workforce that efficiently performs back office, front office, and support functions. Due to its ability to reduce costs by 80%, reduce time to perform tasks by 80-90%, and boost customer experience, a PwC survey released in 2016 reported that two-thirds of financial services companies are leveraging RPA internally.

6. Blockchain

Although the term blockchain is more commonly associated with the cryptocurrency market, it could also be valuable to the finance sector. By recording every transaction in a block and adding each block to the chain, financial institutions can have a shared digital ledger that stores and provides real-time transaction data and relevant information on demand. Because it is highly encrypted, the blockchain is immutable—although the transaction data is transparent, it cannot be tampered with once it has been confirmed and uploaded to the blockchain.

Integrating the blockchain technology in the finance sector can prevent fraud, increase business efficiency by 40%, and improve customer experience by around 25%.

7. Instant Payments

Instant payments, also known as immediate payments, is a technology that provides real-time services that allow people to carry out payment transactions electronically 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—enabling consumers from across the globe to instantaneously process transfers and receive payments in real time, anytime and anywhere. By integrating instant payments system with other technology in the finance industry such as open application programming interfaces (APIs), banks can expand their reach and create global opportunities for further growth.

Thrive Amidst the Disruption

While legacy systems have worked for many decades, it’s no longer the most efficient choice for the finance industry. FinTech companies, unencumbered by these legacy systems, are continuously coming up with innovative tools and systems that will potentially overtake traditional finance models.

The benefits of digital transformation are undeniable. But along with it comes a host of problems that businesses must prevent or mitigate. As such, digitization initiatives must not be done with haste. Existing technologies and legacy systems must be assessed and evaluated carefully, to determine how to digitize each process or every department.

Mastercard enables Contactless limit raise across 29 countries; and champions permanent increase

Important new move builds on the phenomenal growth in use of contactless with Mastercard enabling businesses and retailers to implement limit increases quickly and efficiently to help people everywhere benefit from the fastest and simplest way to pay 

 Mastercard announced its commitment to enabling the increase in contactless payment limits across Europe. The move comes as 29 countries implement new limits, which will ultimately improve shopping experiences for people across the region.

Across Europe, Mastercard has championed several initiatives which have seen a dramatic increase in the use of contactless cards and mobile devices; 75% of all Mastercard transactions across Europe are now contactless.  This increase in contactless limits will mean cardholders and shopkeepers will soon be able to make and receive more of their payments both quickly and securely, and without the need to enter a PIN or use cash.

“Mastercard was the first to grasp the potential and ensure all payment terminals became contactless ready from 1st January 2020. We have all now seen how quickly people have embraced Contactless payments as their preferred way to pay every day.  Today’s announcement is designed to reflect the pace of changing behaviours of the people we all serve giving them ease, speed and peace of mind in a fast changing world.” said Milan Gauder, Executive Vice President of Product and Innovation, Europe at Mastercard.

Among the 29 countries, UK, Ireland, Estonia and Poland are leading the way with permanent changes to limits while the likes of Netherlands and Greece are implementing temporary limit raises to help their people shop easily during this difficult time.

He added, “Since its inception, Mastercard has been championing the benefits of contactless payments as a simple, safe and fast way to pay. Today’s announcement means that not only will those who are already using contactless benefit from even more freedom to pay, in a way they want, it will also provide additional support for people with the daily challenges they face.”

Please find below all 29 countries with their old and new limits:

Current limit10020252525302525
New limit35050505050505050
Current limit2525

New limit505050501004515000
Current limit525005075020001525
New limit250000100200045004050
Current limit20012100204550001525140120
New limit40020000100100200002500200250

An open letter to banks on SMS Authentication
| by Chris Stephens
An open letter to banks on SMS Authentication

Today, thanks to regulatory pressures in Europe especially and increased security measures, banks must offer their customers additional levels of authentication such as two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA). Because it is relatively easy to implement and install the necessary software to deliver it, text (SMS) verification has become the global de facto 2nd factor, and as a result banks are relying on this method above all to authenticate their customers. However, the reality is, SMS should not be the default option for banks. Here’s why: 


SMS is one of the most expensive methods for banks to use. Not only are they spending millions of dollars with communications providers and API platforms to securely direct customers to text verification, but when that aspect of the authentication journey goes wrong for any reason, customers often end up calling the customer service number (call center), resulting in even higher costs for the bank. Merchants and card issuers also face an opportunity cost when users can’t complete the required authentication steps.


As the fraudsters know that banks are relying almost wholly on SMS for 2FA transactions, they can continue to weaken the systems in place and take advantage of these methods to reap their own benefits. SIM swap fraud is one of the most common methods being used by fraudsters at the moment, wherein cybercriminals pilfer personal information about a target before ultimately contacting the victim’s provider to claim that their phone has been lost or stolen. Then, they convince telephone providers to authorize and transfer and activate the number on a new SIM provider. The threat actor will then be able to access all one-time passwords and authentication codes sent to the user’s device via SMS. 

But it’s not just the SIM swap scheme fraudsters are using to get one-time passwords (OTPs). There are multiple parties involved in the delivery of OTPs, meaning there is a potential attack surface at each of those levels for intercepting OTPs. Attackers also intercept SMS OTPs via malware that sits on the user’s handset and automatically forwards messages on to another user. Because of this, banks should have a clear view of all data sub-processors and ensure they each have appropriate security controls in place (e.g., multi-factor authentication (MFA) to logs and dashboards). Additionally, all telephone numbers should be auto redacted to minimize the impact of data breaches.


SMS authentication is ultimately not very customer friendly and filled with friction. Consider the ~30 seconds of transaction time for the text to go through, as opposed to nearly instant biometric authentication. SMS is far from instant. In addition, users in remote or low-service locations may struggle to receive their texts, meaning SMS authentication is simply unavailable to them. Finally, the quality of the experience can be compromised depending on which device is your preference/default device. Certain generations of Apple Watch without SIM cards, for example, may not even receive the SMS from your bank since it isn’t coming from an iMessage/iCloud account. In that case, customers would need to ensure they have their phone in hand to authenticate themselves.

So, what is the solution? To mitigate the high costs of SMS and provide overall better customer experience, banks should deploy intelligent authentication driven by a business-aligned decision engine, which will let them deliver a range of more secure, dynamic and personalized journeys for customers. There are other passive forms of authentication, which leverage location, biometric and behavioral data to ensure a customer really is who they say they are. 

Topics: Mobile Banking, Security

Chris Stephens

Chris Stephens is the Head of Fraud and Security Analytics at Callsign. He is an experienced financial crime consultant with proven expertise in delivering complex analytical solutions to financial services institutions in the UK, Europe, Asia and the US.

wwwView Chris Stephens's profile on LinkedIn

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Western Union tests remote home-based service to complete money transfers

Western Union tests remote home-based service to complete money transfers

Western Union Co. launched a service called Digital Location, which allows customers to access personalized money transfer services from their homes. 

The remittance company is piloting the service in several international markets, including Austria, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Oman and allows customers to connect to a money transfer agent via video or voice call to complete a transaction. 

“Western Union is committed to drawing on our history of innovation and our agile cross-border, cross currency platform to serve our customers in whatever ways they require in this unprecedented environment,” Hikmet Ersek, president and CEO of Western Union, in a company release. “Due to limited services via retail locations in some areas impacted by restricted movement guidelines, we are seeing an increased demand for online services.”

Customers can use their card funded money transfers using a payout into bank accounts, wallets or retail locations that utilize transfer agents.

Topics: Mobile Apps, Money Transfer / P2P

Companies: Western Union

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POPcodes to help clients deliver COVID-19 safety messages at payment kiosks within 48 hours

POPcodes to help clients deliver COVID-19 safety messages at payment kiosks within 48 hours

Logo provided.

POPcodes, a provider of payment terminal software, is offering to provide personalized, white-labeled versions of its point-of-purchase communication software for free with a turnaround time of 48 hours to help client locations remain safe during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release. The technology will be configured to deliver COVID-19-specific cleaning instructions directly to the merchant’s in-store payment terminal, helping keep employees and customers safe. 

Under normal circumstances, POPcodes clients use the software to deliver welcome messages and device set-up instructions, or to provide instant access to tech support content like FAQs and quick reference guides and help automate sales of value-added products or services.  

With the current pandemic, quickly distributing critical messages directly to where merchants and their employees are most exposed is more crucial than ever, according to the press release. For example, health care professionals, credit card issuers and payment processors are trying to encourage merchants and their customers to use “tap to pay,” and purchase limits are being increased.

POPcodes is waiving 2020 licensing fees for its white-label app which will display a branded version of the cleaning instructions on payment terminals each time they’re turned on. POPcodes will provide the ready-to-deploy software package within 48 hours. 

For the latest updates on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the kiosk industry, click here.

Topics: Coronavirus / COVID-19, Mobile Payments, POS, Retail

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Open-banking platform Tink acquires Eurobits

Open-banking platform Tink acquires Eurobits

Tink, the Sweden-based open0banking platform, has acquired Madrid-based Eurobits Technologies for 15.5 million euros ($17 million). Eurobits provides account aggregation services to about 50 banks and financial institutions, including BBVA, Santander, Sabadell and Fintonic.

The acquisition builds upon a prior 90 million euro investment by Tink announced in January. Eurobits is live with customers in 11 markets and handles more than 50 million account aggregation requests per month. 

“We are extremely impressed by the Eurobits team, what they have built and their very strong position in southern Europe,” Daniel Kjellen, CEO of Tink, said in a company release. “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.”

Besides Eurobits presence in Europe, the company also operates in several Latin American markets, including Mexico, Chile, Columbia, Argentina and Peru.

Topics: Mergers & Acquisitions, Mobile Banking, Region: EMEA

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How Elon Musk’s Neuralink Could Reshape Entire Economies

Elon Musk’s team has been developing Neuralink mostly out of the public’s view for several years. When questioned about the project, Musk would often only give cryptic replies. Then, in July of 2019, Musk’s highly secretive project team live-streamed a long-awaited announcement that utterly shocked and amazed the world. Neuralink has the potential to reshape the entire global economy in many ways. So, what is Neuralink?

Ground-Breaking Transhumanist Technology

If you’re unfamiliar with the term transhumanism, it is often defined as using science and technology to radically change or augment the human body. Some popular examples of transhumanist technology available today would be cochlear implants, insulin pumps, pacemakers, and bionic prosthetics for amputees. These innovations in medical technology have radically reshaped the way patients with serious health issues are able to enjoy their lives. But, Neuralink is different. Much different.

Neuralink is a device that is implanted into the brain known as a brain-machine interface (BMI) or brain-computer interface (BCI). There are many different types of implantable or external BMIs currently in development. For instance, researchers at Washington State University created BrainNet, which uses an external network of electrodes in a special cap that users wear like a hat. BrainNet allowed three participants in the study to communicate information to one another without ever speaking a word or making a gesture. They sent the communications solely via their thoughts. 

The BrainNet project is impressive on its own merits, but an implantable BMI like Neuralink goes beyond machine-assisted telepathy. With Neuralink, patients who have motor-function disabilities will soon conceivably be able to link the implant to their smartphones to allow them to connect to the IoT and control other devices using just their minds. Does this sound a little too far out? Well, at the end of the live-streamed announcement, Musk let it slip that they currently have a monkey in their lab using the device to control a computer.

How Neuralink Can Reshape the Economy

We know, your mind is reeling from this fascinating innovation in medical technology that will undoubtedly have profound effects on the health industry. But, how else can Neuralink reshape the economy? Well, the answer to that is even more mind-blowing and can have far-reaching macro and micro effects. To understand it fully, we should explore what exactly BMIs like Neuralink can and can’t (yet) do.

Even though up until just a few years ago they were considered simply Sci-Fi fantasy, the World Economic Forum has been studying the implications of BMIs for quite some time. As the article explores, another project—also from WSU—explored the capabilities of one person controlling the movements of another person via a BCI. Findings such as these raise some serious questions about the effects this type of technology will have on the world. 

Imagine giving a stockbroker the ability to make a trade online simply by thinking about it. How would that change the way stocks are traded? What about the concern that swings in the market might more closely mimic the emotional swings of investors and traders? Would there need to be rules in place to ensure volatility in the market isn’t a result of this technology? 

Let’s dig a little deeper on this topic into some of the micro effects of Neuralink on production. If things can be controlled with the mind, the production of various things we used to manually control things could cease. For example, once you can control your home lights with your mind, there is no longer a need to produce light switches.

Starting your car with Neuralink would mean we no longer need to produce car keys, key chains, or maybe even car alarms. How about no longer needing a keyboard and mouse for your computer. A remote for your TV. The examples go on and on.

Finally, even though it is still considered to be far-off in the future (for now), how can BMIs change the current education system? Imagine when we are able to instantly access and interpret information from the internet directly into our brains. Not in the cliche way, like learning Kung Fu instantly as shown in the movie The Matrix, because that would require your body having muscle memory too, which we just can’t mimic with a brain implant. Rather, it would be more like researching any topic instantly which is either sent to your brain or to a nearby device. While Neuralink doesn’t explicitly promise this ability, the device they have created could someday evolve to have this capability. 

FinTech Will Never Be The Same

No matter which way you look at it, in addition to the mind-blowing new capabilities humans will soon have by integrating our brains with machines, the opportunities for new markets in this area advance nearly every day. The creation of new products and devices to connect, new services to offer, and new areas to explore are just around the corner. 

Neuralink and other BMI devices will dramatically alter the way the world connects to the internet and to one another. It is important that we begin to explore the ways the world will change and prepare our political and economic policies to reflect this new age of technology.

Doing Digital, By Chris Skinner
Review by George Baily (Marketing Manager, CREALOGIX)

“Two years ago.. people talked… last year, they were still talking… This year, they are still talking… The question is: show me what you are doing here? show me your work… show me results.” So said Chen Long, Chief Strategist at Ant Financial, interviewed by Chris Skinner in his last (2018) book, “Digital Human”. In this new book, “Doing Digital” (available from April this year), Chris tackles this question of talk versus action in a strongly worded critique of the state of transformation and strategy in our industry.

While “Digital Human” took a wide angle view of “a revolution of humanity through digitalisation with technology”, “Doing Digital” adjusts the lens to examine the idiosyncratic world of banking. In fact, in this book it often feels like a magnifying glass is being held in the sun so as to burn a hole in an industry that clearly frustrates the author with its complacency and slow rate of change, despite being besieged by obvious and massive competitive forces. There is certainly no intent to offer comfort for bankers in this book: Chris demands no less than “a completely different business model from financial institutions”.

Outlining the competitive pressures from fintechs, challengers, big tech, regulation, and internal inertia, Chris calls for “drastic action, not an evolution” – and woe to anyone trying to get away with half measures: “any bank that has not embraced digital as a transformational process, but just as an evolutionary process, will sleepwalk into history.” As you can tell, Chris does not hold back – the book is packed with pithy indictments of the state of the industry: “the business model of the banking industry is completely broken”; “we need to rip that structure apart”; “the banking world and the Western world need to turn their thinking upside-down and stop trying to replicate the last-century world into this century’s world.”

Change in the industry is too often reactive: “banks do change, but most of it is stimulated by fear”. In Chris’s view, change must be strategic and proactive. Instead of being primarily led by the moves of regulators, competitors, or even their investors, banks should organise around a greater respect for their customers: “technology and digital change… is about customers and service. Technology has placed the customer in control.” 

As this point about customer-centricity illustrates, despite his harsh words about banking leadership, in this book Chris sets out a positive, even idealistic call to action, including several sections organised like checklists, e.g. “seven new ways in which finance delivered by technology is changing the game”, “five areas of change”…”five clear areas that are forcing transformation”. The strongest sections of the book take aim at common corporate excuses, countered in a highly critical but also highly optimistic voice that will be familiar to regular readers of Chris’s blog The Finanser.

Chris quotes from a variety of industry leaders whom he feels are setting a good example: in fact, he considers there to be – “a mere nine large banks worldwide that I thought were making digital transformation happen”! Their success stories are contrasted with the all too common scenario of overspend and bureaucratic activity that fails to deliver: “76% of big bank execs believed they had done digital because they had a mobile app… in reality, these banks had changed nothing”.

Pure technology competitors do have an obvious head start: “if a bank is just sticking apps on the front end, how is it meant to keep up with its competitors’ deep learning projects?” Fintechs are unburdened by any technological legacy, whereas banks are too often “firmly rooted in last-century technologies”. Old technology creates its own vicious cycles. Readers who work within large financial institutions will no doubt read with a mixture of despair and amusement how “a big bank will often waste 20-30% of its investments on internal politics”, and if they are themselves change advocates will likely recognise this analogy for organisational resistance: “innovation was like a virus that had entered the organisation and challenged it. As with any virus, the white blood cells soon gathered to squeeze it out”! Technology work in the “spaghetti bank” is thus unrewarding, while “the innovators are already a mile down the road of taking out the banking system as we know it”. 

And that, Chris explains, is the more fundamental issue than any specific technological change: the necessity to throw out a business model designed around banks and paper. Throughout this book we are reminded how the strengths of the past can hardly be relied on to take financial institutions into the future ahead: “banks have plenty of legacy: legacy systems, legacy vendors, legacy staff, legacy customers, and, worst of all, legacy leadership”. The answer in this book is to address the latter, with Chris pulling no punches: “most banks are led by bankers… with no technology experience or digital background” and “dealing with technology is very different to dealing with money”. 

Using wide-ranging examples of innovation both from digitally-native startups and Chinese ‘techfin’, as well as the more progressive incumbents, Chris emphasises the existential challenge old-fashioned banks face: “in five years, banks will make no money from what they do today and will need to be competitive in [a] new, proactive, augmented world.”

With such an urgent challenge, it’s perhaps counter-intuitive to find that Chris asserts that leaders in financial institutions need “room to breathe”. A key observation arising from Chris’s look at digital success stories such as BBVA, ING, and DBS is that attempting major institution-wide change is not something achieved with normal management horizons but a considerably longer view. “The focus on quarterly shareholder returns and investor relations places inordinate pressure on most executives to purely manage numbers and ensure that financial objectives are met. This does not cut the ice when you are in a transformation process. During a transformational process, the focus has to be on the change, not the short-term results.” Shareholders themselves need to take a longer view: “protecting the leadership of the bank from worrying about those financials and giving them the mandate to focus on the change”. So, in one sense, boards being too risk averse about change in the digital era could prove to be the riskiest strategy. The world of banks “is built around maximum stability and minimal change. That is not a good recipe for digital transformation”.

Chris gets to the heart of the matter when commenting: “there is a huge difference between ‘doing digital’ and *being digital*” – the question being, can the incumbents change who they are, in order to revolutionise what they do?

This means, the book title notwithstanding, that “doing digital” is really the outcome of a more fundamental change of raison d’être, rather than superficially seeing how much technology the organisation can adopt. As Chris explains: “this is not really a technology book or a book about banking. It is a book about change. How to make dramatic change happen… how to turn an age-old institution into one that is nimble and refreshed for the digital age… how to make the elephant dance”. This image is certainly a more positive alternative to the two more common elephant metaphors I hear in conferences: eating elephants one bite at a time (incremental change) or there being elephants in the room (Bank of Amazon? Climate Crisis? #MeToo?).

To conclude, “The real question is… whether banks have recognised the real need to change.” Chris Skinner’s polemic book suggests that the answer is still too often ‘no’. So if you work in financial technology, particularly within or alongside incumbent institutions, buy two copies – one to leave on the boss’s desk, and the other for yourself to see what you can do to help “deal with the revolution”.

Satispay Reaches 1 Million Users In Italy
  • After reaching 100,000 affiliated merchants a few days ago, Satispay consumers’ community have reached another important goal and now keep demonstrating their generosity by raising 800,000 euros to be donated to the Italian civil protection department

After achieving the important goal of 100,000 merchants affiliated to their network, Satispay – the revolutionary young Italian fintech company – reaches another essential goal: one million active users in Italy.

These figures reflect a significant change in Italians’ payment behaviour and confirm that Italy is becoming more and more open to innovation.

For merchants, Satispay has always been a partner that guaranteed a significant decrease in  handling fees – payments over 10 euros do not even have any handling fees –  and a way to strengthen drive to store initiatives for new customers and create loyalty among the existing customers. But during the pandemic outbreak Satispay has also started to be seen both by consumers and merchants as a prevention tool to tackle the emergency by guaranteeing peer to peer money exchange as well as in-store payments without either handling money or touching the POS device, thus keeping the safety distance required by the Government.

It is indeed during the lockdown that Satispay services have been mostly appreciated. In fact, during the past two weeks, Satispay’s features usage increased by 30%. Among the most used services there are mobile phones top-ups, any kind of slips payments, and donations. This last service in particular awoke the generosity of Satispay’s users who have donated more than 800,000 euros to the Italian civil protection department so far; a number sure to increase in the next few days.

 Alberto Dalmasso CEO and co-founder of Satispay: “We have been waiting and working to achieve this goal for a long time now. I would love to celebrate this moment all together in our headquarters and not during a national lockdown, but maybe it is important to have achieved this goal right now. This shows us that our efforts and sacrifices can take us to great results. The million-user goal makes us think about our next goals; in our minds, we want to reach 10 millions users but besides the numbers it is important for us to stop for a second and think about how the world is evolving – even during this difficult situation – and ask ourselves how Satispay can more and more simplify everyday’s life, both in Italy and in the rest of Europe, in order to become the most used financial tool in Europe.

ATMIA conferences rescheduled

ATMIA conferences rescheduled

photo provided by iStock

In response to the recent coronavirus pandemic, trade organization ATMIA has reschedule the dates of its top industry events. These conferences and tradeshows in the past have presented opportunities for banks, independents, network processors, vendors, suppliers and service providers to share ideas, introduce the latest trends and products and discuss with industry experts the future of the ATM marketplace.

The change in conference dates furthers the ATMIA’s efforts to keep attendees, staff and exhibitors safe from COVID-19. The revised dates are as follows: ATMIA US Security Conference will be held September 1-2, 2020 at the Hilton Minneapolis in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The ATMIA Canada Conference 2020 will be held Sept 22-23, 2020 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center in Vancouver, Canada.  ATMIA’s Europe Conference 2020 will be held Oct. 19-21, 2020 at Vienna House Andel’s Berlin in Berlin, Germany, and ATMIA Asia Pacific Conference 2020 is set for  Dec. 9-10 in The Grace Hotel, Sydney, Australia.

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

Companies: ATM Industry Association (ATMIA)

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Billingo to digitalize the billing services with Salt Edge data aggregation

Billingo, the second-largest online invoicer in Hungary joined hands with Salt Edge, a leader in developing open banking solutions, to become the very first online biller in the country to offer a range of opportunities fuelled by bank data aggregation, without having their own PSD2 licence.

Open Banking started its journey in Hungary in September 2019 when PSD2 was transposed into national law. A high level of technological development in the country allows discovering ways to help businesses digitalize based on open banking possibilities.

Billingo offers administration, billing, and financial management services to businesses across Hungary. With the Salt Edge Partner Program, the company gets instant access to bank data in an easy and compliant way, integrating with bank PSD2 channels without having their own AISP licence. Billingo can now reduce administrative burdens and deliver new digital and financial services powered by bank data aggregation to assist webshops, accountants, and online invoice users.

Using data aggregated from multiple banks, Billingo will automate and ease all major billing processes, offering the possibility to track the status of invoice fulfillment, providing a quick overview of clients’ short-term liquidity, and sharing bank account history with their accountant.

Salt Edge enables Billingo to connect via one platform to nine major Hungarian banks: Erste Bank, OTP Bank, CIB Bank, Raiffeisen Bank, K&H Bank, UniCredit Bank, Budapest Bank, MKB Bank, ING Bank, and to over 5000 financial institutions worldwide. The company’s bank coverage is congruent with Billingo network expansion plans within the next several years.

Salt Edge is one of the most sophisticated companies in the open banking world, with access to 5000+ banks in more than 70 countries. Billingo chose Salt Edge as it has the greatest bank coverage in Hungary and is considered one of the most skilled and experienced companies in the world,said Albert Sárospataki, Co-founder of Billingo.

“In the modern digitalized society, the implementation of open banking is crucial as it simplifies the banking experience to attend to customer needs and provide innovative capabilities for them. Billingo is a cutting-edge modern company that makes financial processes simpler and more efficient. Salt Edge always seeks more ways to widen its collaboration horizon and is proud to work with a company that supports businesses and promotes open banking solutions in Hungary”, said Dmitrii Barbasura, CEO at Salt Edge.

This Week in Fintech ending 27 March 2020

this week in Fintech .001

This weekly summary from our 5 experts, brings you insights based on their experience as investors, entrepreneurs & executives.

Ilias Hatzis started his first company, an internet search engine, during the dot-com era & now focusses on crypto.

Efi Pylarinou worked for top tier Wall Street firms and is now a top global Fintech influencer.

Jessica Ellerm is CEO of Zuper Superannuation & previously worked for a top Fintech startup, Tyro.

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners.

Sheldon Freedman is a Fintech lawyer at Hassans International Law Firm

Bernard Lunn is the CEO and Editor of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy.

If you want to continue receiving This Week in Fintech, you can either become a paying Member for $143 per year (and receive all our content in addition to this weekly summary) by clicking here.  If you just want to receive This Week in Fintech for free, you will need to fill in this form. Or fill in the same sign up form at the bottom of this post.

Your Editor is Bernard Lunn. He is also the CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy.

Monday Bernard Lunn @LunnBernard, CEO and Editor of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy wrote What do you want a post #Coronavirus world to look like?

Ilias is taking a break today to focus on his family. The Coronavirus crisis is becoming very real for many of us. 

We are learning what words like disruption, creative destruction and viral really mean. They are not just words on a pitch-deck any more. 

The Greatest Generation were tested in the Second World War. Baby Boomers (like me) had it easy thanks to their bravery & sacrifice. Now we are being tested (more than other generations because this virus is worst for older people).

This too shall pass.

In our Coronavirus series, we started with a description of the destruction to the financial system – the destructive part of creative destruction. 

This post envisages what a post #Coronavirus world could look like – if we make it happen.

Editor note: This post looks at 10 principles that could make a post Coronavirus world a better place. All are visible in small ways today – the future is unevenly distributed. Many could reach mass scale with some better tech solutions – which is what the next post in this series will focus on. 


Tuesday Efi Pylarinou @efipm our Swiss-based Fintech Adviser,  founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019 wrote Technology helping governments & citizens, one line of code at a time

Moral hazard issues are endemic in financial crises, as we all know from the most recent GFC triggered from subprime mortgages. As we are witnessing a bazooka round of government aid ready to hit the market, the moral hazards are being revisited.

I will attempt to stay on topic and not comment on social & political issues around the current stimulus policy decisions in each country. I will focus on how technology can be used to make things better in these circumstances.

Editor note:Efi contrasts the legacy absurdity of the US Govt sending paper checks with modern digital GovTech initiatives around the world.


Wednesday Jessica Ellerm @jessicaellerm, our Australia-based Fintech entrepreneur and thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy & CEO/Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia wrote Coronavirus To Kill Cash For Good

If there is one financial instrument particularly exposed to the coronavirus, then it would have to be cash payments. For several weeks now, as virus fears ramp up in Australia, I have noticed local businesses banning cash payments overnight, to protect staff from potential infection risks associated with contaminated cash.

Editor note: I have noticed my own behavior changing as a consumer. Just in case I could infect the cashier, I use a card even for small payments.


Thursday Patrick Kelahan @insuranceeleph1, our US based Insurtech expert (a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners who also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’) wrote Business interruption- cover that’s too big to cover- but needs to be next time

On February 27  Daily Fintech published this article, “Dominoes fall- business disruption and risk management in the COVID 19 environment,” wherein there was a discussion of the indirect effects of the then China-based COVID-19 outbreak, and the estimation of economic damage due to the outbreak being $1 trillion.  We now know the effects of the pandemic will be in the many trillions of dollars, and business enterprises around the globe are realizing that business interruption (BI) financial losses due to the outbreak are generally not covered by their commercial insurance policies.  

Editor note: Business Interruption (BI) Insurance is being overwhelmed by the Coronavirus crisis. This article explains how and why this happened and should be required reading for anybody who works in, finances or regulates the Insurance business.


Friday  Sheldon Freedman, Fintech lawyer at Hassans International Law Firm

wrote: Security Token news for Week ending 27 March 2020

Editor note: This weekly snapshot is the news that matters for busy senior people in the Security Token market.


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