Women in Fintech: Joanne Dewar From Global Processing Services


As The Fintech Times in September celebrates Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from leading fintech females. One of them is Joanne Dewar, Chief Executive Officer of Global Processing Services (GPS), the trusted and proven go-to payments processing partner for today’s leading challenger brands including Revolut, Starling Bank and Curve.

Joanne Dewar

Joanne joined GPS in 2013 and led its transformation from start-up to private equity-backed scale-up. She is a recognised leader and influencer in the payments industry, having been selected as one of just two women on the 2019 Payments Power 10 list, which recognises payments industry leaders with an ongoing commitment to pushing boundaries in the payments sector. 

She was also the European Women Payments Network (EWPN)’s 2018 Woman of the Year Finalist, and is on the judging panel for Inclusion Signpost, a new accreditation to inform and support consumers on existing fintech products and services that address financial inclusion.

Describe your career journey so far…

I’ve always wanted my work to have a positive influence on the world, and to be able to create meaningful change through what I do. From volunteering as a teenager, to using my skills in the charity sector during my career break, I’ve always wanted to be part of something greater. 

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening related to your work in fintech?

The fintech industry is in an incredible position to change the world for the better by providing solutions and products to help solve the problem of financial exclusion across the globe. Our company mission is to enable financial empowerment for everyone. Using technological innovations, the fintech industry can transform the role of financial services to enable people to manage their money better, open bank accounts for the first time, and access credit that can enable them to afford the items they need to improve their quality of life. 

GPS are the ‘tech behind the tech’, in that we do a lot of the heavy lifting to enable brands to focus on their consumer propositions. We have become renowned for innovating in the issuer-processor space and giving rise to the fintech boom, being the engine that has powered the fintech revolution across the UK and Europe. Our cutting-edge technology powers many of today’s challengers and fintechs, including Revolut, Starling Bank and Curve, and we work with over 40 issuing banks and 180 clients, across 60 countries and in 150 different currencies. 

One of our areas of focus and a highlight over the past two years has been our Global Expansion programme, as we brought the epicenter of the European fintech revolution to APAC and opened offices in both Singapore and Australia. Launching our APAC presence at the 60,000 attendee-Singapore Fintech Festival last year was a significant achievement as our launch was highlighted as one of the top ten announcements, and we have since been powering key players in the region including Revolut, Razer, WeLab Bank and Xinja, amongst others.

What career advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders?

Imposter Syndrome is a huge issue for many people in high-level positions, irrespective of gender, and something that I certainly struggled with when I first became CEO. To help combat this, one thing I have always remembered is Jack Welch’s ‘Destroy Your Own Business theory’ – that one should consider how the competition would respond to a situation, and to do that thing yourself.  To apply this to my own situation, I ask myself how a veteran CEO would respond to a particular situation, and I apply that behaviour. 

This was particularly true when it came to getting over my fear of public speaking. I used to worry about the one person in the audience who I thought might know more than me, but as I became more comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, I focused on the hundreds of other people who I knew could learn something from me. To overcome a fear of failure, instead of focusing on the fear, you need to behave as though you already are the leader you want to be, and eventually, that will manifest itself. 

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


Juniper Research Finds Instant Payments Transaction Values Will Reach $18 Trillion by 2025


A new study from Juniper Research has found that the value of instant payments, where transactions are completed within ten seconds, will reach $18 trillion in 2025. This will be a growth of over 500%, up from $3 trillion in 2020.

This represents 17% of all B2B and consumer digital money transfer and banking payments by value in 2025. The research found that West Europe is driving innovation and will account for 38% of instant payment transaction value by 2025.

The report, entitled “Why Instant is Critical to Payments”, identified that success of domestic instant payment schemes will enable cross-border vendors to connect different schemes into cross-border networks, which will radically reduce the time, cost and frustration involved in the current cross-border payments ecosystem. However, this will also require established vendors to revisit their business models, as the fundamentals of the market change drastically.

The European Central Bank defines instant payments as ‘electronic retail payment solutions that process payments in real-time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, where the funds are made available immediately for use by the recipient.’ In their report, Juniper Research defines an instant payments scheme as ‘any payments scheme where the funds are capable of being received in ten seconds or under, outside card networks.’

In another report on Instant Payments, “Instant Payments: Domestic and Cross-border Analysis and Forecasts 2020-2015”, Juniper Research forecasted that the US will trail in terms of instant payments adoption, with only an 8% share of Global instant payment transaction values in 2025. While RTP has been available in the US for some time, the fragmented nature of its financial system means that adoption has been slow to date.

Nick Maynard, author of the research report, said “With the proposed FedNow service from the US Federal Reserve not coming into service until 2023/24, the US is rapidly falling behind in instant payments. Payments vendors must concentrate on creating innovative digital payments products to bridge this gap or be faced with an outdated system.”

The research also found that B2B payments will dominate values in the instant payments market; accounting for 89% of global transaction values in 2025. While consumer payments are numerous, B2B payments have much higher average values. The research identifies that instant payments adoption can be particularly transformative in B2B payments, where value-added capabilities, including automation and additional remittance data enabled by ISO 20022 can be valuable in tackling complex accounts payable processes.


Stablecoin News for the week ending Wednesday 30th September.


Here is our pick of the 3 most important Stablecoin news stories during the week.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published stablecoin guidance Monday, on how cryptocurrencies backed by fiat currencies should be treated under law. Prior to Monday’s notices, there was no federal clarity around stablecoins.

Stablecoin issuers have been using U.S.  banks for years, but in an unclear regulatory environment. Now, the OCC wants federally regulated banks to feel comfortable providing services to stablecoin issuers, it said in a press release. An accompanying interpretative letter, signed by Senior Deputy Comptroller Jonathan Gould, explained that while banks should conduct due diligence and ensure they assess the risks of banking any stablecoin issuers, stablecoins are becoming increasingly popular.

“National banks and federal savings associations currently engage in stablecoin related activities involving billions of dollars each day. This opinion provides greater regulatory certainty for banks within the federal banking system to provide those client services in a safe and sound manner,” Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks said in a statement.

OCC’s First Issued Guidance for Stablecoins Brings More Questions

In the meantime, we also saw progress in one of the many trails of CBDC.  Ethereum workshop ConsenSys said it has been chosen by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) to assist in Hong Kong and Thailand’s cross-border central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot.

Hong Kong Reportedly Picks ConsenSys for Digital Currency Pilot Project

Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands called on the European Commission to draw up strict regulation for asset-backed cryptocurrencies such as stablecoins to protect consumers and preserve state sovereignty in monetary policy.

Big European states call for cryptocurrency curbs to protect consumers

So this week we saw Regulators provide clarity in the US on stablecoins, in HK they are in an active cross border trail trying to understand what a stablecoin is and in the EU they are worried about the threat it poses to state sovereignty and its citizens.


Alan Scott is an expert in the FX market and has been working in the domain of stablecoins for many years.  

We have a self imposed constraint of 3 news stories per week because we serve busy senior Fintech leaders who just want succinct and important information.

For context on stablecoins please read this introductory interview with Alan “How stablecoins will change our world” and read articles tagged stablecoin in our archives. 


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


Women in Fintech: Diana Krumova From FinScore


As The Fintech Times in September celebrates the Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the leading female leaders in Asia. One of them is Diana Krumova, originally from Bulgaria, who is an expert in fintech, specifically in alternative credit scoring and lending.

Diana Krumova

Diana Krumova started her career in fintech as early as the word became a definition of a new and booming industry with the potential to change the life of millions of people around the world. She joined a small lending company in Bulgaria, revolutionizing the way unbanked people can access finance. As the company grew internationally, she moved to the Philippines where 80% of the population lacks access to financial services. There, she realized that a single lending company cannot have a national impact and that a new approach is needed to solve for the lack of reliable information and credit history that prevents many lending institutions and banks to offer services to the financially excluded population.

She founded FinScore, Inc, alongside a team of experienced data scientists and IT experts in the field. FinScore is a technology and data analytics company specializing in alternative data-based scoring solutions, providing services to banks and financial institutions, and helping them serve the unbanked. FinScore is the first company in the Philippines to have successfully utilized telco data to enable them to extend credit and provides critical knowledge and insights about the creditworthiness of first-time borrowers. For less than two years of operations, FinScore partners with over 15 Financial Institutions and banks and has delivered more than 3.5 million credit scores, leading to over $500 million in granted loans.

Describe your career journey so far…

I started my career in Bulgaria in 2011, as part of Cash Credit, a technological non-banking financial institution, a pioneer in offering unsecured lending in partnership with Telecom Operators. This revolutionary approach allowed us to grow fast and profitable by obtaining highly valuable data from an objective source. We found that the behaviour and reputation of the subscriber on the mobile network operator predict exactly his behaviour as a borrower as well. In 2016, I was leading the South East Asia team of Cash Credit where we have launched the first operations in the Philippines. We have completed a very successful pilot granting unsecured credits to more than 50,000 unbanked Filipinos in collaboration with the leading telecom provider. Recognizing the growing demand both for financial services and reliable alternative sources of data, FinScore was founded in 2018. My passion is designing innovative products that can help to solve the financial inclusion problem in developing markets and contribute to creating cheaper and faster access to finance.

As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?

It’s a well -known fact that too few women work in the FinTech industry, but we can notice a significant change in this direction, especially in the Philippines. Women, in general, are less likely to be perceived as natural leaders and need to work harder than men to climb the corporate ladder. And it often leads to an imbalance in the personal-work life. I think it is one of the greatest challenges for most women in executive positions. I remember a class at INSEAD Business School. It was mentioned that higher employment rate among women leads to lower birth rates in Western countries. I tend to slightly disagree with this statement as I believe that the causal relationship between the two is not that straightforward. I think that the biggest challenge for women is to believe in equality and not to go into the false dilemma of choosing between the two. This requires conviction, personal style, and clear, honest communication on the subject with your immediate peers. This is far more important than just trying to compete or imitate the men’s style that is simply not fitting to the needs of women leaders. My mother is a perfect example of that and she was my role model in designing my terms in my professional environment. It’s from her that I’ve learned to respect my dreams and life enough, to not compromise on certain actions but also to own my decisions and actions and always look for a solution in tough times.

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region? 

As the COVID-19 pandemic rewrites the rules for lives and businesses alike, the current situation will present an opportunity for financial institutions to make the leap and go digital. Although the top banks in Southeast Asia, already had digital transformation strategies, many will accelerate their digitalization efforts as a result of the disruption. During the last months, banks and financial institutions sped up their digital transformation and we as FinScore play a role in it because we are digital by design. We all witness how the Covid-19 pandemic is introducing long-lasting changes to consumer behaviour and digital adoption in South East Asia. During this stressful time, we need to focus on helping each other and assisting clients and partners as they respond and adapt. My prediction is that the boost that we have seen from the lockdowns will have a positive effect also on the work-life balance as the home office will stay for good as a way companies can function.

What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in Asia?

I think that giving advice is a very responsible action and an individual approach always fits better. This is why I dedicate part of my time to mentoring and I am always happy to share my experience. If I need to outline two general pieces of advice for the current and future female entrepreneurs, this would be to 1) be authentic – nothing makes you a better leader than having your own style that emerges from personal experience and open communication in dealing with professional challenges and 2) share your vision – the discussions and thought exchange process is very important to shaping the company and for growing as an individual.

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


National Insider Threat Awareness Month: 3 Tips to Mitigate the Danger of Departing Employees


National Insider Threat Awareness Month, celebrated every September, aims to emphasise the importance of detecting, deterring, and reporting insider threats. As the month draws to a close, Tim Bandos, Vice President of Cyber Security at Digital Guardian, explains what organisations can do to mitigate the insider threat of departing employees.

Tim Bandos, Digital Guardian

Every year, the comprehensive Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) provides a deep dive into the latest trends in cybersecurity incidents. The 2019 report found that insider threat incidents have been on the rise again for the last four years and worryingly, are now responsible for 34 percent of all data breaches.

Insider threats can range from absent-minded employees to disgruntled third parties, meaning organisations have to be extremely vigilant for any signs of wrongdoing. However, perhaps the most potent threat comes from one particular subset – departing employees.

This article looks at some of the most common security concerns surrounding departing employees including the risks they pose, the motivations behind their behaviour and importantly, what organisations can do to mitigate the threat.

The danger of departing employees 

Departing employees have always posed big problems for organisations of all sizes and for good reason. Not only do they have the necessary access and knowledge of where sensitive data resides, but in many cases, they also have a motive.

Of course, not all motives are malicious in nature. In some instances, it may just be a desire to take copies of their work with them for posterity or future reference, but in other cases it could be to give/sell to a competitor or leak to the media. Whatever the motive may be, any form of data loss at the hands of a departing employee can be extremely damaging, both financially and from a reputational perspective (or both).

Unfortunately, due to the unknown variables involved, organisations are at a major disadvantage when going up against this type of threat, which is why it’s so important to monitor for telltale activity and behaviour that might give a potential insider threat away before it’s too late.

Effectively mitigating the threat

The best approaches combine the right technology with a robust process. First and foremost, visibility is needed on endpoints, as well as wherever data is leaving or transferring across the company. At a minimum, businesses should be able to track all types of file movement and data egress, and at least provide an audit trail of what each employee has been up to prior to departure. That way, an employee’s behaviour between the time they hand in their notice and their departure can be closely monitored and even presented to them at their exit interview for explanation/clarification if necessary.

There are several signs to look for that can give away a departing employee as an insider threat. One of the most common ones is spikes in data movement volume, i.e. large data egress to USB type devices or cloud storage sites like Dropbox or Google Drive. Other key solutions include: 

  1. Utilising a data loss prevention solution

If a business has a data loss prevention (DLP) solution in place, it’s possible to tag files by level of sensitivity, making it easier to identify how confidential the data being taken is. For example, if confidential files are being attached to emails and sent to a personal domain like a Gmail or Hotmail against company policy, DLP would flag this. A security analyst can then investigate the incident to establish the intent of the individual sending the file and how sensitive its content was.

2. Leveraging machine learning

More recently, security vendors have started to leverage machine learning in their solutions to take the strain off analysts, who historically have had to manually investigate every alert created.  Machine learning has another trick up its sleeve as well – the ability to create baseline behaviour for an individual or a computer over time. Once created, anything outside of an employee or computer’s ‘normal’ activity will be automatically flagged for further analysis, making it much faster for security teams to weed out suspicious behaviour.

3. Recognising who or what is accessing information

It’s also important to remember that size isn’t everything and large amounts of data egress aren’t always cause for alarm. Often, it can simply be the result of corporate data backups taking place. On the flip side, many sensitive trade secrets can be stolen in just a single file, which is why it’s so important to know exactly who or what is accessing this kind of information and ensuring the right level of protection is in place around it.

Fortunately, the tactics used by departing employees haven’t changed dramatically in the last 15+ years. While there might occasionally be a rogue employee with the technical know-how to hide stolen data in an image file and leverage steganography to sneak it out, such cases are extremely few and far between. As such, with the right safeguards and mechanisms in place to monitor for telltale behaviour and challenge employees where necessary, businesses of all shapes and sizes can make great strides towards minimising or even eliminating the threat posed by this group.

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


Ephesoft and Fortude Partner to Boost Intelligent Document Processing


A new global alliance between Ephesoft and Fortude will make it easier for businesses all over the world to unlock and extract enterprise data in documents and fulfill their digital transformation goals. The partnership, announced today, combines Fortude’s experience as an enterprise and technology solution provider with Ephesoft-powered Infor Document Management (IDM) Capture to help ensure that “customers get the data they need quickly,” Ephesoft founder and CEO Ike Kavas said.

“At Ephesoft, we focus on creating an exceptional customer experience from beginning to end. Partnerships with leading consulting and implementation organizations, like Fortude, enable us to expedite business process around the globe for our joint customers,” Kavas added.

Specifically, the partnership will draw upon Fortude’s experience in helping customers implement and manage Infor’s Cloudsuite and other solutions. Here, customers using IDM Capture will enjoy up to a 4x increase in processed invoices each day, and a faster process time of 36 seconds per invoice. Customers can be up and running with IDM Capture with minimal time and effort, enabling users to automatically capture, classify, and extract data and export it into any Infor solution.

“This strategic partnership with Ephesoft will allow us to accelerate implementations, and in turn provide customers a way to access information to make more insightful decisions and drive productivity,” Fortune Managing Director Arjuna Sirinanda said. “We help our customers optimize their product lifecycle and ensure business continuity. Offering businesses the ability to easily unlock their data with an intelligent document processing solution will help further our goals.”

Most recently demonstrating its technology at FinovateSpring 2018 (this year, FinovateWest Digital), Ephesoft has been an innovator in intelligent document processing since its founding ten years ago. Headquartered in Irvine, California, and maintaining offices throughout the U.S., EMEA, and Asia-Pacific, the company released a new version of its cloud-based document processing solution Transact in July. Shortlisted for the Global 2020 SaaS Award in August, Ephesoft announced that CEO Kavas had similarly made the finals in the Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 Pacific Southwest-Orange County Awards.


Affirm’s loan appetite grows after COVID pullback


Share Point-of-sale lender Affirm is gradually expanding its credit to focus on repeat customers and certain merchant categories, after initially reeling in its loan appetite at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Chief Strategy and Risk Officer Sandeep Bhandari said during the LendIt Fintech USA 2020 conference today. Affirm took “very quick, decisive action” in …Read More

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Blend deepens push into consumer banking


Share Blend is continuing to expand beyond its original business of white-label mortgage application technology. Last week, the San Francisco-based digital lending platform launched new application technology for personal loans, credit cards and specialty vehicle loans. “We want to enable banks and financial institutions to be there as trusted advisors for every financial milestone and …Read More

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Finovate Alums Take Top Honors at Lendit Fintech Awards


Lendit Fintech announced the winners of its fourth annual Lendit Finitech Industry Awards this week. And out of the 500+ entries competing for awards in 13 different categories, Finovate alums left the stage with nearly half of them.

Taking the highest honor as Fintech Innovator of the Year was Stash. The New York-based mobile-first investment platform made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall 2017, demonstrating its Stash Retire solution. This year marks the second year in a row that Stash has picked up Lendit’s top prize in this category. Fellow Finovate alum Marqeta was among the category’s finalists.

Also winning award categories were:

  • Plaid for Innovations in Digital Banking
  • Urjanet and Equifax for Most Promising Partnership
  • Visa for Top Service Provider
  • Blend for Top Technology Service Provider.
  • CircleUp for Top Small Business Lending Platform

“Our purpose at Lendit Fintech is to elevate and celebrate the achievements of others,” co-founder and CEO of Lendit Fintech Bo Brustkern explained in a statement. “This year has been a hard year for many bank and fintechs, and the many enterprises that support them. Now more than ever we need a reason to come together – even if it’s virtually – to recognize and applaud excellence in these circumstances.”

Other companies earning awards were Upstart for Top Consumer Lending Platform, PeerStreet for Top Real Estate Platform, BlockFi for Emerging Lending Platform of the Year, Orrick for Top Law Firm, and Branch for Excellence in Financial Inclusion. Two individuals were also recognized: Colin Walsh, founder and CEO of Varo Money, as Executive of the Year and Nicky Goulimis, COO and co-founder of Nova Credit, as Fintech Woman of the Year.

A number of other Finovate alums earned finalist spots in this year’s competition. Both Lending Club and SoFi competed as finalists in the Consumer Lending Platform category. And BlueVine provided a strong Finovate alum showing in the Small Business Lending Platform group.

Credit is also due to Finovate alum Mambu as a finalist (along with Stash) in the Innovations in Digital Banking category, and to both Finicity and Ocrolus, which competed in the finals of the Top Technology Service Provider category.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels


Goldman shakes up units in fresh push to win over investors


Goldman Sachs Group Inc. shuffled its business lines and announced a raft of management changes, carving out new divisions aligned with a strategy pivot unveiled earlier this year.

The firm is combining asset management and merchant banking as part of its push to raise more client funds for investing instead of betting its own money. The bank also created a new consumer and wealth-management division co-led by Stephanie Cohen, one of the firm’s most-senior female bankers.

Top executives at the firm have groused that investors don’t recognize Goldman’s advantages in business lines beyond just dealmaking and trading, its traditional strengths. Since David Solomon took over as chief executive officer in 2018, he’s sought to emphasize those businesses and organize them into more recognizable silos. The firm’s share price still lags behind Morgan Stanley over the two years Solomon’s been in charge.

In handing off a new business to Cohen, Goldman also helps address a glaring shortfall in its top ranks, where there wasn’t a single woman among the top dozen executives overseeing major decisions or running money-making units. The departure of trading co-head Isabelle Ealet in 2018 coincided with the end of Lloyd Blankfein’s tenure as CEO.

Read more about Stephanie Cohen’s career

Eric Lane and Julian Salisbury will lead the combined asset-management and merchant bank. Lane previously ran the investment-management group, which also included Goldman’s consumer and wealth operations. Salisbury was named last year to lead the merchant bank.

It also tackles a uniquely Goldman problem: The firm has been wary of having one person lead an entire division. The merchant bank was left in that situation with Salisbury’s ascent following the exit of the previous division heads, whose departure was announced in February. Merging the asset-management group with the merchant bank aligns with the new push for client funds and restores the practice of having at least two executives in charge.

Other changes:

Cohen and Tucker York will lead the consumer and wealth-management business. Cohen was Goldman’s chief strategy officer and, before that, rose up through the investment bank.

The bank also announced Omer Ismail will become the new head of its nascent consumer business, replacing Harit Talwar, who will become chairman of the group.

—Sridhar Natarajan (Bloomberg)


Bitpanda Raises $52 Million in Round Led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures


Digital asset platform Bitpanda announced a round of venture funding today. The $52 million Series A round marks the largest Series A round in Europe so far this year.

The round was led by Valar Ventures, a VC firm backed by Peter Thiel. Today’s investment, combined with Bitpanda’s $51 million ICO last year and undisclosed venture round last year, brings its total funding to over $103 million.

As part of the agreement, Andrew McCormack and James Fitzgerald from Valar Ventures will join Bitpanda’s board. “With their extensive track record in growing digital champions like PayPal in its early years and supporting Peter Thiel during its IPO and eventual sale to eBay in 2002, we are more than confident in the choice,” Bitpanda CEO and Co-founder Eric Demuth said.

The company will use the funds to promote geographical expansion. Specifically, after its successful launches in France, Spain, and Turkey this year, Bitpanda plans to expand to more European countries before year-end.

The investment will also be used to “bring the Bitpanda platform and all our services to a new level.” The company has already slated new products for launch, including a new stock trading tool which will launch in 2021.

Much of Bitpanda’s focus is on financial empowerment and the democratization of investment. “Bitpanda will become an investment platform for asset classes for everyone,” Demuth said. “We will provide education, empower our users to take their future into their own hands and remove all those barriers that prevent people from taking part.”

Founded in 2014, Bitpanda has seen significant growth this year, boosting its client base to more than 1.3 million. Additionally, the company has brought on more than 70 new employees this year and plans to boost its total workforce to more than 300 by the end of this year.

Photo by billow926 on Unsplash


Amazon launches palm payment option


Amazon launches palm payment optionPhoto provided.

Amazon is launching a palm payment technology in two Amazon Go stores to speed up the checkout process, simplify the shopping experience and enhance the retail customer experience — and, at some point, plans to sell it to other retailers and companies.

The Amazon One technology, now in play in two Seattle stores, features hardware that captures the tiny characteristic of a person’s palm, such as lines and ridges and even vein patterns, to create a palm signature. The omnichannel retailer said it is treating the palm data as important as any other sensitive personal data.

“We’re always looking for ways to make our customers’ lives better, and one area where we’ve spent time innovating is the customer shopping experience in stores. Today, our physical retail team is excited to introduce a new innovation called Amazon One. Amazon One is a fast, convenient, contactless way for people to use their palm to make everyday activities like paying at a store, presenting a loyalty card, entering a location like a stadium, or badging into work more effortless. The service is designed to be highly secure and uses custom-built algorithms and hardware to create a person’s unique palm signature,” stated Dilip Kumar, VP, physical retail & technology, in a Amazon blog post today announcing the technology.

While launching initially in the two Amazon Go stores Amazon clearly has plans to sell the technology.

“In most retail environments, Amazon One could become an alternate payment or loyalty card option with a device at the checkout counter next to a traditional point of sale system. Or, for entering a location like a stadium or badging into work, Amazon One could be part of an existing entry point to make accessing the location quicker and easier,” wrote Kumar.

It takes less than 60 seconds for shoppers to sign up to use Amazon One. The first step is inserting a credit card into the device and then hovering a palm over the device and following prompts to connect the card with the palm signature created. Shoppers can enroll one or both palms.

“Beyond Amazon Go, we expect to add Amazon One as an option in additional Amazon stores in the coming months. And, we believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores, so we also plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums, and office buildings so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience in more places. Interested third parties can reach out through the email address provided on our Amazon One website,” wrote Kumar.

Amazon chose palm recognition as it’s viewed as more private than other biometric options and because it takes an intentional gesture to use the device.


Smartphone users making mobile payments in Japan expected to increase


Over 21% of Japan’s population, 23.9 million people, will use their smartphone to make mobile payments at the point of sale by the end of this year, according to an eMarketer forecast report. This figure is up from 19.1 million in 2019.

The forecast also predicts that the figure will increase to 27.6 million people — 25% of the population — by 2023.

The reasons behind the growth includes the adoption of QR code payment systems and the Japanese government’s cashless rebate program where consumers get rewards for making cashless payments with cash back or points worth up to 5% of their transaction.

“Japan is betting big on QR codes as consumer payment preferences begin to change,” eMarketer analyst Cindy Liu said in the report. “QR codes don’t require huge investments from vendors and it is also simple and easy to use for consumers.”

With the Olympics pushed back to 2021 and the acceleration that COVID-19 has had on digital payments, Liu said to expect the Japanese government to continue to invest in mobile payment technology.


LatAM Women in Fintech: Monica Saccarelli From Grão


The Latin American region is generally an up and coming region with respect to its wider economic development. Specifically, the region has seen a growth and importance in fintech, producing its own unique innovations, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the space. As The Fintech Times in September celebrates Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the female leaders in Latin America. One of them is Monica Saccarelli from São Paulo, an expert in fintech and specifically in Micro-Investment.

Monica Saccarelli

Monica Saccarelli is one of the big names in the financial market. She began her career at Bovespa and worked for companies such as AT&T Broadband (in San Francisco, USA), Concórdia Corretora de Valores and Link Investimentos, where she held the position of General Retail Manager until the creation of Rico, when she assumed the position of director.

At the age of 30, she founded Rico, an investment broker dedicated to individuals. In a short time, it became one of the giants in the sector. The expansion attracted the attention of XP Investimentos, which, in 2017, acquired 100% of the business. In 2019, Grão was born.

As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?

The financial market and entrepreneurship is dominated by men. It is very challenging, but we need to continue to conquer our space and know how to deal with it on a daily basis. Whatever the area.

What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region?

With advanced technology, the emergence of Pix and Open Banking, the world has turned to fintechs.

In 2019 we launched Grão, the first fintech to enable micro-investment in Brazil. With it, it is possible to invest from R$1. The goal is to help Brazilians create the habit of saving small amounts, encourage the formation of a financial “reserve” to reduce indebtedness and be the initial step for future investments that may be more profitable.

 he Grão user has access to a financial organizer, which helps to understand where expenses are allocated (in categories) bringing the result of how much can be saved in the month. Financial behaviour tips and better use of money are also triggered. For those who like challenges, two were developed: the 7 and 21 days, in which the user keeps small amounts during these periods, in order to better adapt and create a light habit of saving money.

What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in the Latin American region?

Persist in your dream. It is good this feminine humility, it is a highlight among us. We can share leadership when needed, but we must not underestimate our ability, because we have strength and leadership.

We have created innovation in Grão after being inspired by American fintechs and the research they conducted in Brazil. Now, such ease of use has attracted increasingly users of different profiles who want to save money to achieve their goals.

And in April we launched a new service where it is now possible to use the money invested through the app to pay bills, bank slips and mobile credits. So the user can use his financial reserve to pay his expenses at any time and without having to transfer the money to another account.

 We know that there has been a loss of income and, for some users, it may be necessary to use part of the money invested for essential expenses. We want to give full support in this moment of uncertainty and help to use the financial reserve well.

Even in the face of an emergency, for those who still manage their finances, the message is worth it: be sure to invest.

  • Richie Santosdiaz, Contributing Reporter for Middle East and Africa


Billionaire-backed Argentine fintech Ualá launches in Mexico


Argentina’s Ualá, the mobile payments startup backed by heavyweight billionaire investors George Soros and Steve Cohen, is launching its prepaid card operations in Mexico.

Three years after kicking off operations in its home country, the company is expanding into Latin America’s second-largest economy at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is boosting online transactions globally, said Ualá’s founder and chief executive officer, Pierpaolo Barbieri. After working “quietly and secretly” to set up operations over the past 18 months, over 20% of the company’s more than 500 employees are fully dedicated to launching its Mexico operations Tuesday.

Both Argentina and Mexico share a similar challenge and opportunity: cash is king and vast swathes of the population lack access to financial services, Barbieri said. About 60% of Mexico’s population doesn’t have a bank account, according to World Bank data– a number even higher than Argentina’s.

“In terms of financial inclusion, Mexico has a very similar problem as Argentina,” said Barbieri in a video interview from Buenos Aires. “The banking penetration outside major cities is very low.”

Read More: Billionaire-Backed Apps Boom With Argentines Ditching Cash

Ualá, which provides a slew of financial services based on a prepaid card managed through a mobile app, has issued 2 million prepaid cards in Argentina since it started operating in 2017 and targets 30,000 new users in Mexico by year-end. To do so, it’s planning to approve accounts within 24 hours and deliver debit cards anywhere in Mexico within 72 hours of approval.

Users who sign up for a Ualá account through the app receive a Mastercard without opening, closing, or maintenance fees. That’s a big change in Mexico, said Barbieri, where customers are most often charged for making transfers. Starting from launch day, users will be able to withdraw money and load their card in 14,000 retail locations across the country, including branches of Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB, 7-Eleven Inc. and wholesale retailer Sam’s Club. Users can also send money transfers, pay bills, and see breakdowns of their spending on the company’s app.

Quiet Growth

The expansion is already fully funded, thanks to the company’s last Series C round in November, in which it raised $150 million led by Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. Ualá is not seeking additional funding, but rather will focus on growing its operations in both Argentina and Mexico, Barbieri said. Soros, Cohen and Jefferies LLC were also among early backers for the company.

The company has a local team of 22 employees based in Mexico City, led by country manager Ricardo Olmos.

Room to Grow

One of the company’s largest competitors in both markets is Mercado Pago, the fintech arm of e-commerce giant MercadoLibre Inc., which last year got a $125 million loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Brazil’s Nu Pagamentos SA, also backed by Chinese Internet giant Tencent and known as Nubank, is also on Ualá’s radar, Barbieri said.

Still, the company’s harshest competition will come from cash, he said. As of last year, roughly 88% of Mexicans still used cash as their primary form of payment, according to data from Minsait, an affiliate of Spanish consultancy Indra.

Ualá was valued at nearly $1 billion in November 2019, according to people with direct knowledge of the transaction, who requested anonymity because the details are private. Barbieri declined to disclose the company’s current valuation.

Jorgelina do Rosario (Bloomberg)

Andrea Navarro (Bloomberg)


A New Global Open Banking and Open Finance Directory Has Launched


Launching today, the Open Future World directory is the first inclusive, global and easily-searched directory of organisations involved in the rapidly-growing open banking and open finance ecosystem. The directory is being spearheaded by Open Future World, the hub for global open banking and open finance.

Co-founder Marie Walker explains the thinking behind the directory. “When I’m talking with people in the open finance community, the most common question I’m asked is whether I can recommend a company offering a certain service in a particular region. This directory is our answer to that need, helping companies connect and building awareness of what they have to offer.”

Open banking fintech DirectID took part in the recent private beta. “When I heard about the new directory, I was very keen to be involved, and we’re delighted to be on the list for the launch. Open banking has come a fantastic distance in the last two years and this will be of huge benefit to anyone seeking to understand the players in the open banking and open finance world,” commented CEO James Varga.

Both regulated and non-regulated entities can be listed in the directory without charge. “We want to encourage everyone in the sector to share their information and to make use of this free resource. As the directory evolves, we’ll be able to map the ecosystem, add more advanced search functionality and highlight some of the great case studies that are emerging,” explains Open Future World fellow co-founder Nick Cabrera.

Samantha Seaton, CEO of Moneyhub adds “With the open banking industry now fully emerging worldwide, it is invaluable to have all of the global entities together in a resource such as the Open Future World Directory. This platform will be extremely useful to experts, partners, investors alike and will provide a forward-thinking space in which to share ideas and stay up to date.”

The sector has achieved so much in a relatively short space of time, so the creation of the Directory marks the success we’ve had and only propels the industry further into the spotlight. Managing money is becoming more complex as new, unparalleled obstacles come our way and so the transformational nature of open banking and open finance continues to be realised.”

In line with the sector’s open ethos, the directory is being developed by the community and with the support of other organisations involved in the ecosystem. Strategic partnerships with findexable – real-time rankings of fintech ecosystems – and open finance intelligence service Open Finance Tracker gives access to additional insight and analytics.

Simon Hardie, CEO of data analytics firm, findexable, said: “We are delighted to be a partner of the Open Future World directory. Through the Global Fintech Index our mission is to sort and benchmark fintech innovation wherever it’s found – and remove geographical location as a barrier to fintech success. The Open Future World directory is an important step to driving awareness of the breadth of open finance adoption and accelerating development, take-up and adoption of the technologies that will define our digital futures.”

“It’s important to track and share progress” agrees Carlos Figueredo, CEO of open banking advisory firm Open Vector and founder of the new Open Finance Tracker. “As more and more countries take their first steps towards open finance, organisations – and governments – are looking to learn from each other. We’re delighted to join Open Future World and findexable to help provide an easily searchable global view”.

Open Future World has been working with the open finance community under its Finance Edge brand since 2016. The company’s fifth Open Banking World Congress, held in May earlier this year, was the world’s largest virtual open banking event to date, attracting over 4,500 participants from more than 110 countries around the world.

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


Women in Fintech: Mimi Nguyen of the Fintech Podcast: Searching For Mana


As The Fintech Times celebrates Women in Fintech this September, we take a moment to hear more from some of its leading females. 

With 10 years in the industry and a background in tech consulting at Accenture and the Boston Consulting Group, Mimi Nguyen is the co-founder of Mana Search R&D Mana Labs and is an Associate Lecturer of MA Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins.

Mimi is also a PhD candidate at Imperial College London, Faculty of Engineering and Royal College of Art, and also the co-host of Searching For Mana podcast – interviewing some of the leading and influential men and women in the fintech industry.


How did you come into Fintech?

Fintech was a new buzzword for me when I came to the UK in 2014. But when I learned more about the industry and its mission to shake up banking as usual, I was intrigued. So I applied to a few startups, and that led me to join iwoca, a London-based SME lending fintech that had just finished its Series A and had only 30 employees. 

Two years later, the company was reaching its Series C, had hired an additional 120 people, and had set up a fully virtual platform that could provide working capital in one day. It was an amazing experience, and that possibility for real change continues to inspire me today.

What was your educational/corporate journey?

Ten years ago, I got my bachelor’s degree in Quantitative Methods in Economics and Information Systems. Little did I know that it would give me some of the most sought-after skills in fintech. Today, this major is known as Data Science, but at the time, data analysis and big data weren’t popular, and AI wasn’t a must-have for many companies.

So I started my career in tech consulting, joining Accenture Analytics, and then later Accenture Management Consulting and BCG, working specifically with clients in financial services and insurance. We implemented tech solutions in traditional institutions, creating some of their newest products in the process. That was the beginning of my fintech journey: taking my background in economics and IT and applying it to tech-forward financial projects.

What is your current day job?

I’m a Co-Founder and Lead of Mana Labs at Mana Search, which is a fintech headhunting firm that challenges traditional search companies. I’m also an Associate Lecturer of MA Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins and a PhD candidate at Imperial College London’s Faculty of Engineering. 

My research at Imperial focuses on the development of shared cognition in virtual teams. Specifically, I study the best ways to organise creative professionals and help our clients build the teams that will create the next great innovations in fintech. 

What achievement are you most proud of?

Bootstrapping an organically grown startup whilst raising a two-year-old baby. The COVID-19 lockdown has shown how difficult it is to balance work and family life for those with childcare commitments. That’s just one reason the ever-growing discussion about women in tech and finance is so important.

Any thoughts on women in Fintech generally?

Women seem to be even more underrepresented in fintech than they are in the broader tech industry. Those who specialise in STEM subjects face major stigma, which leads to fewer women applying for roles in tech and finance. Great organisations like Code First Girls are helping to address this imbalance, but more needs to be done.

Can more be done to encourage women to take Fintech up as a career?

In short, yes. Gender equality can’t just be reduced to a PR campaign. It starts with education, but fintech firms must also do more to welcome women and BAME professionals into the industry and promote their growth. We need more people like Charlotte Croswell (Innovate Finance) and Anne Boden (Starling Bank) shaping the future of finance in the UK.

At Mana Search, we’ve been lucky to learn from many fantastic women leaders on our podcast, Searching for Mana. Whether it’s TrueLayer’s Shefali Roy telling us about why it’s important to use inclusionary language in job postings or Binance’s Teana Baker-Taylor showing us how crypto can boost financial inclusion, these innovators are paving the way for better representation in fintech.

If there is anything you’re looking forward to delivering/moving forward in your current role

I’m excited to see how our clients will grow alongside us. It’s particularly fulfilling when past candidates circle back and tell us how we’ve helped their careers. A while ago, we placed a promising young professional with a challenger bank. Her background wasn’t in coding, but she excelled in the company’s machine learning department and has made her way up to a tech lead position. It’s amazing that we get to provide that kind of opportunity to talent across the industry every day.

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


Gemini Launches Digital Currency Exchange Services in the UK


The New York-based digital currency exchange Gemini has announced its expansion into the United Kingdom, which will allow UK based customers to make secure cryptocurrency exchanges in pounds sterling (GBP).

The company can now safely launch in the UK after it was granted an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) earlier this year. Gemini is also one of the first businesses that the FCA has approved as part of its Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) crypto-asset registration process.

UK consumers can make GBP crypto purchases with their debit card or make GBP deposits to fund their account immediately through their banks via Faster Payments, CHAPS, and SWIFT wire transfers, with no need to transact in foreign currencies or incur exchange rate fees.

Gemini also now offers its secure platform to UK institutional investors in their local currency, enabling them to access crypto trading, market data, and custody services on behalf of their clients. They also provide tools on mobile and desktop that enable users to trade and invest in cryptocurrencies, understand the market, and safely store and manage their portfolio all with local support.

Tyler Winklevoss, Gemini CEO, said, “Going live with our full services available in GBP in the UK is another exciting step forward in Gemini’s international expansion, advancing our mission to empower individuals and organizations around the world through crypto. The UK is a global centre of financial innovation with a stringent and progressive regulatory regime. We’re proud to help usher the crypto revolution into this historic market and become a part of its rich tradition. We look forward to welcoming consumers and institutional customers to our platform.”

Gemini was founded by twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, known for their legal battle with Mark Zuckerberg in regard to the creation of Facebook, as documented in the film The Social Network. After settling their case for $65 million, the twins moved into the digital asset industry and are known as early adopters of Bitcoin.


This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 29/09


The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup takes a look at the latest international fintech stories. As well as a new partnership for Crowdcube, this Tuesday we put the spotlight on the latest fintech appointments.

Partnerships & Collaborations



UAE’s HBK DOP and India’s APCO Digicon announce strategic partnership.

Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube unveils partnership with London-based £100million fund Episode 1 in order to fuel digital infrastructure and deep tech startups. Selected businesses will have pitches reviewed by Episode 1, which backs Zoopla and Shazam, ahead of a funding round on Crowdcube.

UAE’s HBK DOP is joining forces with Indian APCO Digicon to roll out it Internet of Things telemedicine solution. The HBKiCare platform offers healthcare services to hospitals, insurance companies, and rural homes. The partnership also involves HBK DOP acquiring a stake in APCO Digicon. Plus, the launch of a blockchain solution through HBK DOP subsidiary, HBK GoChain.

First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) has teamed up with UAE-based fintech startup Tabby to enable acceptance of its buy-now-pay-later solution at FAB merchant partners. The partnership is part of the roll-out of FAB’s newly launched ‘payment as a platform’ initiative.

JCB has extended its partnership with Banco Santander to additionally support online exchange between its card members and the bank’s Spanish online merchant portfolio. The pair first forged a partnership in 2019 to support the growth of face-to-face transactions made by JCB card members across Spain.

FastBitcoins has partnered with prepaid voucher giant Flexepin to increase its global footprint. The partnership will expand FastBitcoins’ coverage to more than 20,000 stores globally, while also giving Flexepin customers the option to redeem pre-paid cash vouchers for Bitcoin online.

Immigrants can establish US credit in minutes after Mitek partners with cross-border credit rating startup Nova Credit. Nova will integrate Mitek’s identity verification technology into its system.

Meanwhile, fintech Ebanx has expanded its partnership with Visa in Brazil. The pair say they will work together to improve payment solutions for international online merchants that sell in the country.

Industry news & insight

Jim Bureau

Jim Bureau

CEO Jim Bureau announces launch of JAGGAER NOW.

Arishi has opened the doors to a new Abu Dhabi hub in order to ‘develop exciting new relationships and strengthen existing ones in the Middle East’. The London-based tech solution provider will work out of an office in Al Khatem Tower on Al Maryah Island.

Covid-19 has seen consumers ditch cash in favour of online spending, according to Standard Chartered’s latest global survey. Almost two-thirds of people in the UAE expect the country to go fully cashless by 2030. The report also found that many people are keen on tools that block card-spend over specified limits.

Spend management company JAGGAER has unveiled an entry-level procurement solution in order to support Middle East SMEs. JAGGAER NOW is designed to help organisations automate manual tasks, provide structured process flows, as well as manage risk more effectively.

Fintech appointments

Banker Päivi Rekonen is joining SEBA Bank as the chair of the board of directors. In addition, digital legal expert Hans Kuhn and financial risk leader Sanjeev Karkhanis, are joining the crypto bank’s board as independent members. As part of the board reshuffle, Erich Ettlin, Urs Zulauf and Reto Kunz will step down.

Chris J. de Bruin, CEO of UAE digital finance firm Deem, is on the move after delivering ‘significant positive change to the business’. Chief financial officer Jayasheel Bhansali will take on the role of interim CEO. Deem is a strategic partnership between Mubadala Investment Company, Fullerton Financial Holdings, Waha Capital and AA Al Moosa Enterprises.

Abu Dhabi Global Market appoints Emmanuel Givanakis as new CEO of its regulatory authority FSRA. Currently the senior exec director of policy at FSRA, Givanakis will succeed Richard Teng, who will step down in March 2021.

Investment News

Total Processing secures £5 million Debt finance from BOOST&Co.

Total Processing secures £5 million Debt finance from BOOST&Co.

Total Processing secures £5million Debt finance from BOOST&Co.

Fintech unicorn Airwallex bags an additional $40million in an extended series D funding round. It brings the total equity funding raised to date to more than $400million. Airwallex says the additional funds will enable it to invest in its product suite, strengthen its existing footprint in key regions, as well as expand its global payment coverage to regions, including MENA and Africa.

Agricultural fintech startup Tarfin aims to reach more farmers in Turkey after raising $5million in series A funding round. Tarfin says it will use the new funds to further invest in its data analytics and mobile technology.

Payments Fintech Total Processing has received a £5million investment from BOOST&Co; an alternative lender, specialising in supporting high-growth SMEs. As well as accelerating its growth internationally, Total Processing intends to provide more than 30 new jobs in the UK.

Finally, eight startups have completed Flat6labs Bahrain’s first virtual acceleration programme in the Kingdom. The 5th Cycle received more than 200 applications from more than 50 countries. Flat6Labs Bahrain says it has also invested in 36 startups in just over two years, resulting in 100+ full time jobs.

Flat6Labs Bahrain is a startup accelerator

Flat6Labs Bahrain is a startup accelerator

Flat6Labs Bahrain is a startup accelerator.


Legal and General Investment Management Launches New Pensions NavGuide


Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) has launched NavGuide, an innovative complete investment service for smaller schemes in the UK Defined Benefit pensions market.

The service provides schemes with tailored investment advice, the initial design and constant evolution of a bespoke portfolio, online monitoring and funding level tracking, as well as seamless transition to buy out. It uses a proprietary technology platform to help LGIM analyse individual schemes’ unique circumstances quickly and efficiently, enabling LGIM to deliver bespoke solutions much more cost-effectively.

Mark Johnson, Head of Institutional Clients at LGIM, said “Better, cheaper and faster aren’t usually associated with DB pension solutions, but that is what we hope schemes will experience with NavGuide.

“We’ve designed NavGuide to help smaller DB pension schemes – an area often overlooked by the industry – on their investment journey. These schemes will now be able to use NavGuide technology to access LGIM’s market-leading portfolio management specialists and L&G’s insurance expertise in a one-stop cost-effective solution.”

NavGuide allows smaller schemes to consolidate their investments and gain access to LGIM’s economies of scale. With more than £1 trillion of assets under management, LGIM is already the largest manager of pension fund assets in the UK. This latest development reiterates the firm’s commitment to driving innovation in the pensions market and helping DB schemes of all sizes to achieve better outcomes.

“This ground-breaking technology-led solution reflects the ambition of our team to support all elements of the UK DB pensions market,” said Tim Dougall, Head of Fiduciary Management at LGIM. “The pandemic has increased pressure on DB pension schemes and highlighted the need to better manage risks and make assets work harder, whilst still controlling costs. Solutions exist but have previously been very difficult for smaller schemes to access. NavGuide aims to change that, and bring the benefits of highly efficient diversified portfolios, bespoke risk management, and stress-free buy out to schemes of all sizes.”