Listen: How to teach ethics to AI models

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Removing bias from artificial intelligence (AI) models may seem as simple as removing demographic information from the data, but it may be more valuable instead to inform the model about the demographics, then weight them to offset bias. That’s one possibility studies have supported, Stephen Thomas tells Bank Automation News in this episode of “The […]

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/center-of-excellence/listen-how-to-teach-ethics-to-ai-models/

The World of FinTech – Weekly Round-up by Nik Milanović

https://gomedici.com/the-world-of-fintech-weekly-round-up-by-nik-milanovic
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https://gomedici.com/the-world-of-fintech-weekly-round-up-by-nik-milanovic

nCino’s Ian Dunn joins live webinar on risk and automation

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Ian Dunn, general manager of portfolio analytics at nCino, will discuss automation and risk mitigation during a live webinar presented by Bank Automation News tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Ian Dunn, general manager of nCino’s portfolio analytics

“Developing a sound strategy: The future of automation technology for risk mitigation and security” is the first installment of a new series of BAN webinars in 2021 on automation-related topics. The webinar series will address topics such as risk, cybersecurity, tech integration, cloud computing, and regulatory compliance.

Dunn oversees nCino’s teams responsible for loans, applications, fair lending, marketing, deposits and current expected credit losses (CECL). NCino is a cloud-based bank operating system provider. Dunn founded Visible Equity, an analytics software company acquired by nCino in 2019.

The webinar will also feature Vinay Jha, chief data officer and executive vice president at Citizens Bank.

The webinar panel will cover:

  • Where and how automation is being deployed in risk today;
  • New technologies in compliance process automation and rules-based engines; and
  • Areas of opportunity for automation over the next two years.

Register here.

https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/secur-risk/ncinos-ian-dunn-joins-live-webinar-on-risk-and-automation/

Covid-19 Remains Prevalent Influence Towards Insurance Adoption; Zurich Report Finds

https://thefintechtimes.com/covid-19-remains-prevalent-influence-towards-insurance-adoption-zurich-report-finds/
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A recently published report by multi-line insurer Zurich International Life, who are operating within the Middle East, has revealed the trend of the region’s health risks. The findings placed a renewed focus on the serious illnesses or causes of death across the Middle East, as well as the factors which influenced customers’ insurance purchasing decisions.

Its 2021 Customer Benefits Paid Report revealed that people are giving more consideration to insurance cover, especially since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With Covid-19 the major health story of 2020, the pandemic has had a marked effect on people’s behaviour towards financial protection. According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Zurich, only 22% of respondents felt financially prepared for unfortunate family events. Interestingly, more male respondents (65.56%) felt somewhat/well prepared, compared to 56.07% of women who felt the same.

Across all age categories, more than half of respondents said that due to Covid-19, they were somewhat likely or extremely likely to consider purchasing life or critical illness cover, with more than 63.3% of respondents aged between 18 and 34 stating that they had already purchased life insurance since the start of the global crisis.

Citizens of the Middle East are also paying increased attention to the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, with many taking up exercise, yoga, and other physical and mental wellbeing activities in a bid to reduce or mitigate the risks of developing long-term, serious illnesses.

This factor is especially prescient, as the report highlights the strong correlation that exists between critical illnesses and life insurance claims; with the rate being almost equal to each other. This demonstrates that while people are actually living longer, an increasing figure is experiencing critical illnesses and dealing with the associated financial impact of managing chronic conditions.

In terms of the biggest threats to life, heart attacks and strokes were the biggest risk – 43% – followed by cancer – 27% – and accidents – 10%. Covid-19, while a relatively new illness, was responsible for 5% of all life insurance claims; a revelation revealed by the report. 

Cancer led the list of the gravest critical illness risks, followed by heart attacks, various chronic conditions, and strokes. A split by gender reveals that heart attacks were the lead critical illness insurance claim for males – 53% – while only 5% of females claimed for the same condition. Cancer led the female benefit claims list at 85%; with the illness accounting for only 31% of benefit claims for males.

Richa Bhagari, a Zurich customer from Dubai, said that being diagnosed with cancer in August 2020 was one of the most challenging periods of her life. The 45-year-old happily married entrepreneur and mother of one said that the treatment was not only painful but both physically and mentally draining.

She revealed the secret to coping was “to have a positive outlook, be it in business or in life. You have to train your mind to be optimistic, place mind over matter and take things in your stride.”

“My learning from this experience is to be secure; to be protected financially, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Be ready for life.”

Another significant trend to consider is that while there has been an increase in the number of people with pre-existing conditions seeking the financial security of insurance protection, Zurich is still accepting 99% of applications for cover. The report shows that 12% of applicants were shown to be overweight, with 5.6% having raised blood sugar levels – which can lead to long-term serious conditions.

Given the role of females as key decision-makers when it comes to household finances, it is noteworthy that women tended to find life insurance too expensive to purchase compared to men. Of those surveyed, 42.8% of women said they don’t have insurance because it is too expensive, compared to 34% of men who lacked cover due to similar circumstances. 

Walter Jopp, CEO, Zurich in the Middle East.Walter Jopp, CEO, Zurich in the Middle East.
Walter Jopp, CEO, Zurich in the Middle East.

“This report demonstrates that while people are living longer, many of us may have to contend with a life-threatening situation at some point in the future,” comments Walter Jopp, CEO of Zurich in the Middle East. “This is why it’s important to be prepared and to consider all options – whether that be the potential of contracting a serious illness or even death.”

“Our survey shows that 37% of respondents don’t have life or critical illness cover because they deem it too expensive, however, people might be surprised to learn we have a range of flexible and affordable coverage options. For instance, we’ve launched YourLife and YourCare, which are instant, simple, and accessible solutions, with protection starting from just 2 AED per day.”

“At Zurich, we are committed to helping provide financial security and assurance to families – whatever the circumstances. We are proud to have paid 98.1% of life insurance claim payments, amounting to a total of $136 million in customer benefits between January 2018 and December 2020.”

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

https://thefintechtimes.com/covid-19-remains-prevalent-influence-towards-insurance-adoption-zurich-report-finds/

BBVA: A Pioneer in Fostering the FinTech Ecosystem

https://gomedici.com/bbva-a-pioneer-in-fostering-the-fintech-ecosystem
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Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, popularly known as BBVA, is a leading bank that embraced FinTech early on in its growth journey. Founded in Spain, BBVA is now present in over 25 countries with a customer base of over 79 million. 

BBVA – An Early Adopter of FinTech

BBVA was the first bank to offer commercial NFC payments using Visa’s cloud-based payments in 2013. It was also one of the early banks that launched mobile wallets for customers (Compass) and non-customers (Wizzo).

BBVA’s venture into digital banking started post-2015; its FinTech journey picked up momentum during 2017–18 when it launched BBVA API Market, a global and open platform of APIs with 11 banking APIs for use. BBVA was one of the major banks that focused on Open Banking. In addition, it opened its platform, which opera …

https://gomedici.com/bbva-a-pioneer-in-fostering-the-fintech-ecosystem

SIM Swap Detection Technology Leading Prevention of Mobile Fraud

https://thefintechtimes.com/sim-swap-detection-technology-leading-prevention-of-mobile-fraud/
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The authentication platform tru.ID has released Active SIMCheck, an easy-to-integrate API product, as a timely response to the alarming growth in SIM swap fraud and account takeovers. Banks, fintechs, and any company using SMS to send security PIN codes are all at risk.


By using Active SIMCheck, any online business that uses PIN codes sent by SMS for user authentication can now protect their customers and their brand from the potential damage of identity theft and account takeover caused by SIM swap fraud.

Many kinds of mobile fraud, including SIM swap, are now becoming mainstream. Just recently, Wired UK reported on the “relentless rise” of Royal Mail text message scams, while The Sun warned against WhatsApp scam access codes. According to Javelin, the strategy and research firm, there’s been a 72% year-on-year increase of account takeover fraud; as of 2020.

One of the most common ways to implement SIM swap fraud is to intercept a PIN code, and then take over a customer’s account. 

How Active SIMCheck Works

tru.ID Active SIMCheck is an API-based service that connects directly, and in real-time, to mobile network operators to verify the identity of the SIM card in a user’s mobile phone. If there has been a recent change to that SIM card, it will be flagged by the API, enabling action to be taken and blocking potential fraudsters from intercepting SMS messages including SMS 2FA PIN codes. 

This new security check can be integrated quickly and easily by developers alongside existing SMS 2FA solutions. There is no need for any change to the user experience.

Paul McGuire, co-founder and CEO, tru.IDPaul McGuire, co-founder and CEO, tru.ID
Paul McGuire, co-founder and CEO, tru.ID

“Many of the security challenges faced by businesses today are caused by antiquated reliance on passwords and SMS PIN codes,” comments Paul McGuire, co-founder, and CEO of tru.ID. “tru.ID delivers user authentication that is mobile-native, seamless, secure, and private. Active SIMCheck is part of the range of powerful new mobile authentication products developed by tru.ID that are based on the cryptographic security of the SIM card. Active SIMCheck is an important stepping stone on that journey enabling businesses to rapidly solve a major fraud risk without impacting the user experience.“

Who is at risk from SIM swap fraud?

Consumers’ general reliance on m-commerce, and other online interactions for banking, health, and education has been accelerated by lockdowns – and fraudsters have taken advantage. Now it is not only high profile cases, such as Twitter CEO’s Jack Dorsey account takeover, or tech entrepreneur Robert Ross’ $1million life-saving losses on crypto, who are targets of fraudulent activity. The customers of every business that uses PIN codes sent by SMS are now at risk of having their identity taken away and their savings stolen.

Why has SIM Swap become such a big issue?

Most phone-based authentication methods today simply use the mobile number and rely on a PIN code that is sent via SMS, or a voice call. Companies assume this is a possession-factor authentication method, but the problem is that it doesn’t reliably prove possession. There are some fundamental flaws – and bad actors are taking advantage.

The primary issue is SIM Swap. Bad actors are increasingly committing SIM swap fraud by persuading the mobile operator to issue them with a replacement SIM card that takes over the same mobile number. They are then able to receive all voice calls and SMS messages (including PIN codes) sent to that number, and then use those codes to take over that User’s accounts. 

The solution? SIM-based authentication

The technology which authenticates the identity of each SIM card is a core part of every mobile network – it’s how MNOs are able to bill us correctly for our mobile network usage. But it is only now becoming available for identity management and fraud prevention. This new approach is what’s known as SIM-based authentication and tru.ID makes it available via API for fast and easy integration.

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

https://thefintechtimes.com/sim-swap-detection-technology-leading-prevention-of-mobile-fraud/

Crypto-Enabled Payments: A Trend to Define the Payments Space

https://thefintechtimes.com/crypto-enabled-payments-a-trend-to-define-the-payments-space/
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The adoption of cryptocurrencies by financial institutions and payment providers is set to ignite a state of “hyper-growth” for digital payments globally. 

That’s according to Pat Thelen, VP of Global Account Management at blockchain-powered payment provider Ripple. He believes that crypto-enabled payments are among a number of key trends that are set to define the payments space in the next few years. Here, The Fintech Times sits down with Pat to discuss crypto enabled payments and the future of the payments industry.

Pat ThelanPat Thelan
Pat Thelen, VP, Managing Director at Ripple

How do crypto enabled payments work? What are the benefits of crypto enabled payments?

The current cross-border payments systems have been designed for high-value payments – with globalisation, the need for remittances and low-value payments has increased. When we look at traditional correspondent banking, there is a complex system of multi-hops that a payment must make from one country to another to reach the end beneficiary, resulting in cross-border payments that are opaque, slow and costly. Often there can be between 5-15 different hops from one bank to the next – a system riddled with errors and messages that only move one way. As a result, financial institutions must pre-fund Nostro accounts on each side of a transaction in that country’s native currency. However, these accounts come at a high cost and lock-in funds that could be used as working capital in other areas of the business. Oftentimes, these high costs are passed along to the people who have the least – on average it costs $14 to send $200 cross-border remittances.

Similarly, small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) experience exorbitant costs as well as high expectations from their customers. Delayed payments to overseas suppliers, employees or other critical partners can be very damaging to these businesses.

Digital assets and blockchain-based technology have the capability not only to lower the cost of the overall transaction, they also allow for real-time settlement. Financial institutions, banks and even e-commerce companies can free up the tapped capital that would normally be committed to funding Nostro accounts around the world. Even better, these financial institutions banks that would usually be locked out of transacting on their own, can now engage in international, cross-border payments directly. This cost-saving can also be passed along to their customers.

Why do you think crypto enabled payments are going to be a key trend?

The current global financial system does not meet the needs of 1.7 billion unbanked people and millions of SMEs globally. Digital assets and blockchain technology have the potential to transform how unbanked and underbanked populations and underserved businesses access basic financial services and send and receive money across borders, making it more accessible, affordable and secure.

Most global banks are not able to serve the unbanked and unserved segments, not because they don’t want to, but because the existing corresponding banking model is too costly and inefficient, resulting in a lack of transparency into third party charges, hefty transaction fees and lengthy delays. Up until a decade ago, this wasn’t possible. Now with new technology and the adoption of crypto – many players are recognising that blockchain and digital assets could provide easier ways for unbanked individuals to access the global payment ecosystem and an opportunity for more efficient and affordable payment services.

Are there any risks or challenges involved – for example there is still some wariness around cryptocurrency?

Regulatory clarity is a big problem across the industry. In many jurisdictions, there is no clear regulatory framework for how consumers and businesses can properly use cryptocurrency, while others like the UK and Singapore are leaning into innovation and providing clarity for consumers and businesses alike to understand how they’re able to engage with these new technologies.

The lack of regulatory clarity is stifling innovation in some countries, and driving interest and investments to elsewhere. We’ve now come to an inflection point within the industry where this needs to be addressed. We’ve come a long way since the days of Silk Road – market participants today understand the benefits of crypto and blockchain – we just need to understand the rules of the road.

Has the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the uptake of these kinds of payments?

Financial institutions and payment providers have had a duty to provide essential services during the COVID-19 crisis — especially when it comes to delivering remittances cost-effectively without interruption to developing economies. Payments made with blockchain and digital assets have provided an essential service during the pandemic to lower the cost of cross-border payments where possible.

There’s no doubt that throughout history, great disruption has accelerated change. In enacting this change, some business decision-makers have made necessary changes that ensured that innovations borne out of the current crisis endure and lead to better services for the future. Being faced with a global shutdown demonstrated the gaps we have in the current system and put a spotlight on why we need alternative payment methods, especially for those in underbanked communities.

What do you think the other key trends will be going forward in the payments industry? 

We’ve seen a growing awareness towards the sustainability of payments, and more specifically towards the sustainability of crypto. digital payments. It’s no question that crypto and blockchain will be part of the future of finance. As more companies and financial institutions use this technology, the industry needs to make a concerted effort to address the environmental impact of high energy consumption from proof-of-work models and make renewable energy accessible and cheap for cryptocurrency miners.

Making the transition to a clean energy future and reducing carbon emissions can save the global economy some $26 trillion by 2030. As cryptocurrencies become mainstream and interest in Bitcoin increasingly grows, so will the entire industry’s carbon footprint. It’s easier to build a more sustainable ecosystem now than to reverse engineer it at a later growth stage.

Do you think that financial institutions are going to experiment more in the crypto space? Is crypto the future of finance?

So far in 2021, we’ve already seen unprecedented adoption of crypto by not only consumers but for institutions like PayPal, Visa, Square and more.

A big opportunity for innovation is where fintech and traditional finance can partner together. Innovation could be at the forefront of product development, combining the established reach and influence of traditional banks with the industry-leading tech and new talent at the disposal of fintechs.  Offering these innovative services as a team would help to boost trust in fintech’s financial services to a greater level, and could give established banks’ customers a far faster and more contemporary experience.

If fintechs and banks were to build this kind of continued and mutually beneficial relationship, more services could be elevated to modern standards of customer service and speed as we continue to pull legacy banking systems out of their comfort zone and into the modern era of banking. New technology is providing more options for consumers – financial institutions that don’t take note and evolve their offerings to meet consumer demand will be left behind.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/crypto-enabled-payments-a-trend-to-define-the-payments-space/

Teradata: Digital Payments Analytics Rapidly Respond to Changing Preferences

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The payments industry is changing. With new systems like Buy Now Pay Later, old payment methods like credit cards are beginning to fall off as they have lost favour with consumers. The nature of applying for a credit card no longer seems worth it for an average consumer as according to OnDot, more than one-third of potential credit card customers abandoned their applications due to frustration with the process. Businesses are not finding credit cards to be a viable option either, as 65-70% of SMEs have their applications turned down, as funding is often based on the owner’s private credit score. Therefore, the question is begged – how are companies responding to the changing preferences amongst consumers and businesses?

Deborah Baxley is an international mobile/cards payment consultant at Teradata, recognised expert in the industry, creator of growth strategies for new and existing markets with more than 20 years’ experience consulting to cards and payment companies. She specialises in retail financial services, mobile payments, credit cards, technology strategy and business model development. Through her work in fifteen countries, she has advised issuers, acquirers, fintechs, networks and processors on product direction and competitive positioning, delivering millions of dollars in new revenue or operating cost savings.

Here Baxley gives her views on how digital payments analytics are rapidly responding to changing preferences and emerging value propositions:

Deborah Baxley, Financial Services Enterprise Industry Consultant at TeradataDeborah Baxley, Financial Services Enterprise Industry Consultant at Teradata
Deborah Baxley, Financial Services Enterprise Industry Consultant at Teradata

Payments are no longer something people do – they’re integrated into consumers’ everyday activities.  As illustrated below, payments are occurring every hour of the day, but they are largely invisible – subscriptions, card on file scenarios, embedded in apps and automated.

a day in the life of a digital mobile consumer

a day in the life of a digital mobile consumer

Data and analytics now allow rapid response to changing preferences and emerging value propositions to seed future growth in the digital payments area. One emerging space is “Buy Now Pay Later,” also known as point of sale financing. This provides a convenient way to finance larger purchases with an installment loan offering superior terms to the typical revolving line on a credit card. This requires real-time automated underwriting, powered by data, and there are several FinTechs pioneering this capability in partnership with lending banks, including Klarna, Affirm, AfterPay, and PayPal’s new Pay in 4.

According to OnDot, more than one-third of potential credit card customers abandon applications due to frustration with the process. This might lead us to reimagine the customer journey using data and mobile, meeting expectations set by Big Tech – Apple and Amazon. The entire customer journey from acquisition to money management is elegant and seamless. A consumer can apply with just a few keystrokes, a selfie and an ID scan, opening a new account within a few seconds. The payment credential is instantly provisioned into the mobile wallet so the customer can start using it right away. This makes a huge difference: nearly half of customers say instant issuance would influence where they bank.

Finally, tools are available to help customers understand and manage their money. For example, I recently saw a transaction on my credit card called “MULTIPLE SHOPS 8446593879” with no location specified. Issuers that enrich transaction data by clarifying the merchant name (in this case an Etsy storefront), and augmenting it with merchant location, category and purchase channel, create a far superior experience for the customer.

Another pain point addressed with data is the annoying experience of having to update card on file and recurring payment credentials with each individual merchant or biller for reissued cards (either expiring or compromised). Why not offer this as a service to cardholders and do it for them? Increasingly it is also possible to offer a much richer set of card controls such as turning the card on and off, specifying the card only works if in proximity to mobile device, geolocation limits and budgeting limits. These empowering tools make cardholders feel more secure and satisfied.

Small businesses can also benefit from these data-enabled features. In today’s environment, with so many small businesses suffering, the ability to underwrite their business based on cash flow insights from the acquiring line of business enables the issuance of more credit cards.

According to the Federal Reserve, 66% of small business face financial challenges, with 88% of firms rely on the owner’s personal credit score to secure financing. This could have a negative impact on the owner’s personal credit and cause ongoing hardship. Only 44% were getting bank loans. Why aren’t more turning to their banks?

According to Aliaswire, banks are declining 65-70% of small business credit card applications. Why? Rigid underwriting processes often view small businesses like consumers, without considering cash flow cycles and ability to cross-sell multiple banking products such as 401Ks, SEPs and merchant services. This might be the result of a lack of understanding of the business sector, very small credit lines and on-boarding processes that take weeks or months.

acquirer enabled smb card issuing

acquirer enabled smb card issuing

Aliaswire’s PayVus solution is an innovative data-driven example of a way to better serve small businesses. As the acquirer, the bank has cash flow insights to better gauge the creditworthiness of the small business. Risk is mitigated in real time because the credit card payments are taken from a daily split settlement file.

Data-driven analytics drives critical business outcomes including the understanding of rapid changes in customer behavior and leverages real-time analytics to integrate with new form factors and value propositions.

https://thefintechtimes.com/teradata-digital-payments-analytics-rapidly-respond-to-changing-preferences/

Funding Options: How Have Emergency Lending Schemes Impacted the SME Finance Industry?

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The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), rolled out during the pandemic, as well as the more recent Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS), have made it clear the Government continues to recognise the vital importance of SMEs to a thriving economy. Against other nations, the UK government delivered a comprehensive support package relatively quickly, enough to keep many vulnerable businesses alive.

Simone Cureton is the CEO of Funding Options, a business finance marketplace. Here he shares his thoughts on how emergency lending schemes have impacted the SME Finance industry.

funding optionsfunding options
Simon Cureton, CEO of Funding Options

It’s easy to linger on the negative impact of Covid-19 on the economy, but it is important to remain positive – and there is considerable cause for optimism when we look at the UK’s SMEs. Final data is yet to be released but indicators point to a record number of businesses having been created in 2020. Between June and August, an additional 59,358 new companies were created when compared to the same period in 2019. Faced with adversity, business owners have demonstrated incredible resilience, agility and perseverance. The impact of Covid-19 has seen SME owners rise to the challenge, pivoting their business models and displaying the entrepreneurial grit you’d expect from people driven by solving problems.

Emergency schemes and market distortion

Whilst emergency schemes have been a much-welcomed safety net for UK businesses, failing to fully include alternative lenders in their distribution inevitably led to distortion of the SME finance industry. In accrediting banks to fulfil emergency loan applications, the Government disembarked prematurely from its stated mission to deliver greater choice and competition. Being slow to trust lenders that did not have a heritage stretching back more than a century was both exclusionary and displayed short-term thinking.

Understandably, use of the emergency loan schemes has been well scrutinised. The BBLS promised a less complex process and minimal eligibility criteria to enable vital funds to be delivered at speed. As a result, standard due diligence processes were compromised. As of last month, reports of suspected CBILS and BBLS fraud cases topped 26,000. It took reactive partnerships between the incumbent banks and fintech solution providers to stymie nefarious activity.

Yet, it is access to the Term Funding Scheme that remains the single biggest issue for alt-lenders, depriving them of the advantageous Bank of England credit terms afforded to mainstream banks. Without the capacity to absorb the impact of low interest rates associated with government-backed pandemic financing schemes, innovative market-based lending products have been rendered near-redundant. There have already been some casualties within the alt-lending industry, which might well have been avoided if fintechs had been brought into the fold.

Having distributed over £75 billion to UK businesses during the pandemic, high street banks will likely have a diminished risk appetite and reduced inclination to provide significant further support for SMEs. Consequently, this will hinder the ability of businesses to source, through mainstream borrowing, the capital over-and-above the CBILS and BBLS that will be required for them to thrive, rather than simply survive, post-pandemic.

In this case, SMEs will turn to alternative lenders. Fortunately, while the ecosystem sustained some hefty blows, growth and innovation broadly remains on an upward trend. We have seen new entrants and heightened venture capital backing, which will see the resilient alt-fi community do what it does best.

Alt-lenders are innovating to revive the SME finance industry

Over the past year we have seen an unrivalled level of innovation within UK fintech. For example, data-driven Open Banking, whilst not a particularly new development, saw a significant increase in adoption over the course of 2020. It has the potential to transform the business lending landscape, improving the experience for the customer while also improving security and response times for lenders.

Open Banking minimises the amount of work applicants and lenders need to do to approve an application for credit. For applicants, they will no longer need to send bank transaction documentation to lenders. Instead, Open Banking APIs enable lending platforms to immediately make their transaction history available to lenders, in a safe and secure manner. This was a significant development, ensuring the financial services industry continues to move towards being able to pre-approve businesses for loans based on real-time data.

In driving increased utilisation of new innovations such as Open Banking, as well as digital KYC and AML solutions, the alt-fi industry rose to the challenge to show that speed and due diligence are not mutually exclusive factors in approving loans. It is a valid suggestion that if fintechs had been embraced earlier in the pandemic the number of CBILS and BBLS fraud cases would have been much lower, if existent at all.

Funding Options responded to the urgent needs of SMEs by investing heavily in bolstering its own digital proposition, which has resulted in the team achieving a new record of just 20 seconds from loan application to credit approval, with the previous record being 2 minutes and 56 seconds. This isn’t intended as self-promotion, rather it simply illustrates the speed and efficiency now available to businesses seeking finance through our platform.

In contrast, incumbent banks often have lengthy loan approval processes because they don’t have the technological infrastructure to expedite that process. According to Infosys, in normal times, businesses spend over 25 hours gathering the paperwork for applications before approaching several banks with their application. Successful loan applicants then have to wait for weeks, or even months for the funds to hit their accounts.

It’s clear the alternative finance scene still has the most to offer businesses, despite sustaining some injuries along the way. What is most important now is that SMEs are made aware of the plethora of funding options available to them, beyond the mainstream.

To conclude, emergency lending schemes – whilst not positive in and of themselves for the SME finance industry – have forced the fintechs who exist outside of the mainstream to rally and accelerate their digital agenda in order to compete. Consequently, businesses in the UK will have an enviable system of funding options bestowed upon them in the pandemic aftermath.

What these schemes and their impact have shown is that there needs to be a shift in mentality where the fintech sector is no longer seen as the “cool kid” on the block but is properly recognised as playing a critical role in a crisis of this size. The independent Fintech Strategic Review led by Ron Kalifa OBE concluded that the UK is still a fintech leader, but if we want to retain this position we need to aim to establish a more fintech-supportive environment in order to best enable existing firms to grow, new ones to be born, and to promote the integration of new technologies.

https://thefintechtimes.com/funding-options-how-have-emergency-lending-schemes-impacted-the-sme-finance-industry/

Stripe Launches Stripe Tax to Simplify Global Tax Compliance for Businesses

https://thefintechtimes.com/stripe-launches-stripe-tax-to-simplify-global-tax-compliance-for-businesses/
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Stripe, the technology company building economic infrastructure for the internet, has announced the launch of Stripe Tax to help businesses automatically calculate and collect sales tax, value-added tax (VAT), and goods and services tax (GST) in over 30 countries.

Stripe Tax makes every aspect of global sales tax handling as frictionless as the rest of Stripe. It automates tax calculation and collection for transactions on Stripe, tells businesses where they need to collect taxes, and creates comprehensive reports to make filing taxes easy.

The complexity of tax compliance

For years, help with tax compliance has been a top request from Stripe users. Tax compliance has become increasingly complex, with digital and physical goods now taxed in over 130 countries, and over 11,000 different tax jurisdictions in the US alone.

Tax rules in each jurisdiction are updated frequently and often vary based on subtle details. For example:

  • The tax rate for tickets to the same webinar vary significantly depending on the location of the ticket holder, whether it’s a live or recorded version, and whether the purchaser is a private individual or a corporation
  • In the UK, food for animals is not subject to VAT, unless it’s pet food – Cowboy boots aren’t taxed in Texas, but hiking boots are.

Businesses face significant opportunity costs in becoming compliant, but also maintaining a compliant setup globally. As a result, two-thirds of businesses say managing tax compliance holds back their growth, with a majority saying they would launch more products and expand into more countries if relieved of the burden.

Non-compliant businesses face legal and financial exposure as national governments around the world increase penalties for late or inaccurate filings. In the US, businesses face an average 30% interest charged on past-due sales tax.

How Stripe Tax works

Stripe Tax radically simplifies tax compliance for businesses across more than 30 countries. Features include:

  • Real time tax calculation: By determining the end customer’s precise location, and matching that to the product or service being sold, Stripe Tax always calculates and collects the right amount of tax, and keeps up to date with rate and rule changes so businesses don’t have to. – Frictionless checkout: B2C businesses can reduce checkout friction with Stripe Tax, by using location information to calculate and show taxes in the most familiar way to their customers.
  • Tax ID management: For B2B businesses, Stripe Tax collects the tax identification number from customers, and automatically validates VAT IDs for European customers, applying a reverse charge or zero VAT rate when necessary.
  • Reconciliation: Stripe Tax saves businesses the pain of reconciling thousands of transactions by creating comprehensive reports for each market in which a business is registered to collect tax, speeding up filing and remittance.

Instead of taking weeks of work, all this can be done automatically by adding a single line of code or updating a single setting in a business’s Stripe Dashboard.

“No one leaps out of bed in the morning excited to deal with taxes,” said John Collison, co-founder and president of Stripe. “For most businesses, managing tax compliance is a painful distraction. We simplify everything about calculating and collecting sales taxes, VAT, and GST, so our users can focus on building their businesses.”

Highly scaled and global businesses like NewsUK, as well as fast-growing internet startups like Tuple and Routetitan, can use Stripe Tax to simplify their tax compliance across multiple products and geographies.

Ruan Odendaal, Head of Subscriptions Platform at NewsUK said: Directly integrating Stripe Tax into our subscriptions platform will save us countless hours—time that can be better spent elsewhere.”

Ben Orenstein, co-founder of Tuple said: “As a small company, we want to spend as little time thinking about tax collection as we can legally get away with. We’re thrilled to let Stripe Tax handle the heavy lifting for us.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/stripe-launches-stripe-tax-to-simplify-global-tax-compliance-for-businesses/

Rise, Created By Barclays on Alternative Markets for Climate Fintechs

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Tackling climate change is an essential component of the global sustainability agenda and one in which financial services can make an important contribution. The FinTech sector plays several important roles in helping consumers and corporates make informed, climate-related decisions.

Rise, created by Barclays, has recently published the latest edition of its Insights report, which focuses on this area of Climate fintech. In this article from Rise, they explore the developments in the corporate space and alternative markets

Plugging the data gap

Climate fintechs are helping to solve one of the main concerns with Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) information – the availability, consistency and granularity of the data that’s required to prove how companies and individuals are taking effective climate action. Data providers like Net Purpose are quantifying many of the aspects of company behaviour which, until now, have sometimes been viewed as largely subjective. YvesBlue, for example, has created a platform that merges disparate ESG data sources into a consolidated view of companies’ impact characteristics in any given investment portfolio. And Nossa Data, an alumnus of the 2021 New York Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars is simplifying the long and complex ESG reporting process for corporates.

“Fintechs have the opportunity to become the flag bearers for better ESG data.” – Katherine Wilson, VC at Illuminate Financial

Building brand engagement with peer-to-peer programmes

Loyalty peer-to-peer (P2P) programmes turn a commodity produced by customers into a currency that can be exchanged for goods, services or individual recognition. They’re a modern way that brands can engage with customers and build trust. Where technology is concerned, trust is synonymous with blockchain. In the report, we showcase how Power Ledger puts this to good use.

Using Power Ledger’s blockchain platform, Carlton United Brewery (CUB) in Australia allows customers to sign up to a deal supplying the brewery with their excess rooftop solar electricity, in exchange for beer. Participants can log in at any time and find out how much electricity they’ve produced for the brewery and how much beer they’ve accrued. And it’s not long after they’ve provided the electricity that a van pulls up outside to deliver their beer. The brand can cut through the complexities of what being sustainable means, and just start demonstrating it.

“Sustainability goals met. Brand engagement increased.” – Dr Jemma Green, Executive Chairman of Power Ledger

Enabling carbon removal with APIs

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are assisting companies with removing carbon from the atmosphere. How? In the case of Patch, developers are able to embed project metadata into their digital experiences, generate emissions estimates for certain activities, and then programmatically order carbon removal from our network of projects across the globe.

There are a number of fintech use cases, such as cryptocurrency, where carbon removal could be embedded into digital asset platforms and products through APIs. For example, Bitcoin mining has been scrutinised for its carbon footprint, but that could change.

“We imagine a world in which crypto exchanges offer their users the option to offset the carbon footprint associated with their Bitcoin purchases.” – Brennan Spellacy, CEO of Patch

Innovation in the insurance markets

The hazards presented by climate change has put pressure on the highly specialist insurance sector. New underwriting solutions and products are emerging.

Platforms like Pega and cloud solutions are driving operational efficiency, but insurtech companies really bring their prowess in designing simple customer experiences and, perhaps most importantly, analytics with cutting-edge products such as ultra-customised policies and using new streams of data from internet-enabled devices to dynamically price premiums according to observed behaviour.

Some insurtech companies are also experimenting with AI to automate the tasks of brokers and find the right mix of policies to complete an individual’s coverage. An example of what’s possible is Lemonade, the US-based insurer, disrupting the real estate insurance model with AI and behavioural economics to evolve traditional insurance.

“For the insurance sector, impact alignment makes perfect ecological and economic sense.” – Cedric Leung, Financial Institutions Group at Barclays International

Take action

You can read what these and other companies have to say about Climate fintech in the Rise Insights report, which also contains an in-depth analysis of the enablers in the market – data, policy and technology – and articles on how fintechs are influencing climate-conscious consumers and developing products and services that meet their needs.

To connect with Rise, visit our website where you can contact our Rise sites in London and New York, learn about the work that we do.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/rise-created-by-barclays-on-alternative-markets-for-climate-fintechs/

Bitcoin is now money in El Salvador. What’s next?

https://dailyfintech.com/2021/06/14/bitcoin-is-now-money-in-el-salvador-whats-next/
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El Salvador made history last week. It became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as a legal tender. In ninety days from now, people in El Salvador will be able to pay for goods and services using the cryptocurrency and no one will be able to refuse bitcoin as payment. Businesses will have to accept bitcoin for any transaction, just like they do with the US dollar. To minimize risk from bitcoin’s volatility, a government trust fund will guarantee the automatic conversion to dollars. This is huge step for the crypto market and testament that bitcoin is not going away, any time soon, even though on countless occasions in the past, it’s been pronounced dead. This is a bold step by a small country, that could drive other nations to follow in its footsteps. This live experiment could serve as case study for bigger countries to see and learn from the mistakes in El Salvador, before they making their step into digital currencies. If this proves successful, then we will see a massive adoption, especially in countries with cash economies, where bitcoin is already the main tender.

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the founder and CEO at Kryptonio wallet.
Kryptonio is the safest crypto wallet. Read why you want this wallet and try it.

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America with a population of about 6.5 million, and one of the poorest countries in the world.  The country’s economy is ranked 104th with a GDP per capita of $4,326. El Salvador’s GDP has remained in the low single digits for two decades and remittances from the U.S. constitute $3 billion annually, about 17% of the country’s GDP. Violence, crime, poverty, corruption and everywhere.

So, why did El Salvador decide to make bitcoin a legal tender?

El Salvador currently uses the US dollar as its official currency. Overall, this system has worked fine for El Salvador, but recently things have taken a turn for the worse. To fight the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the US Federal Reserve dramatically increased the supply of circulating dollars, from $15.35 trillion in February 2020 to $20.26 trillion in May 2021. That’s an increase of 32 percent, unprecedented in modern peacetime US history.

These extraordinary measures have caused Salvadorans to lose purchasing power due to US monetary inflation. When you have to deal in a currency for which you have no control, you suffer with the consequences of third-party decisions, such as interest rates, inflation, GDP, money supply. Argentina tried a similar strategy with the dollarization of its economy, and it failed. Being dependent on a currency controlled by some other central bank, outside your jurisdiction, can only lead to disaster. This is exactly what happened to El Salvador.

How is Bitcoin different?

Bitcoin is predictable with a finite supply, not controlled by anyone. It’s completely decentralized and the supply of bitcoin is capped at 21 million coins, making the digital currency immune to the types of policy changes that affect the US dollar and other fiat currencies. Every 10 minutes 6.25 bitcoins are minted, and 900 bitcoins are released into the market every day. No one can mint more or less bitcoins at will, This is extremely powerful, because it lets governments plan ahead without risk. Try comparing that with the Federal Reserve printing $6 trillion this year. You can’t.

We’ve just witnessed history in the making. What El Salvador has done is very brave, but it’s not without risk. While this is uncharted territory, how much worse could it be when you compare it with the current situation in the country?

With El Salvador making this decision, other countries may follow El Salvador’s lead in adopting bitcoin as legal tender. Most Caribbean nations peg their currencies to the US dollar, for example, and many, like the Cayman Islands, are already well-versed in attracting foreign capital through low tax rates and efficient financial regulation

Already, countries like India are reconsidering their position on cryptocurrencies and I am sure you’ve read articles about nations like China, Mexico, or Canada working on their own cryptocurrencies. I would expect a domino effect with governments all around the world making similar announcements. Partly inspired by El Salvador, and partly in case they actually succeed.

Nothing will ever be the same.

The genie is out of the bottle. El Salvador’s decision has a lot of short-term and long-term repercussions and ramifications on bitcoin’s staying power. Bitcoin’s greatest risk is its own success. Could the US ban the digital currency if it ever becomes a true competitor to the dollar? A side effect of El Salvador’s decision could be more regulation for bitcoin.

Personally, I find it exciting to live through there changes. The fact that bitcoin is stable and secure enough for a country, no matter how small, to use it as a legal tender is massive. If other countries around the world follow suit, the momentum will influence even more countries to make a similar decision and mark a new age in the digital currency’s dominance.

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https://dailyfintech.com/2021/06/14/bitcoin-is-now-money-in-el-salvador-whats-next/

Moonstake Partners with Uzbekistan Government-Licensed Exchange UzNEX by KOBEA Group

https://thefintechtimes.com/moonstake-partners-with-uzbekistan-government-licensed-exchange-uznex-by-kobea-group/
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Moonstake has announced it has entered a partnership with Uzbekistan government-approved cryptocurrency exchange UzNEX that is operated by KOBEA Group, a technology firm focused on developing solutions for the digital economy including blockchain.

Through this collaboration, the two will focus on developing blockchain community programmes as well as relevant research, training, events, and conferences to increase awareness in the banking and finance industries. Moonstake will also work with UzNEX to provide blockchain consulting service including staking technology to financial institutions in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, which in return will serve to assist Moonstake in better penetrating these high-potential markets.

Moonstake launched its staking business in 2020 with the aim to create the largest staking network in Asia. Since then, we have developed the most user-friendly Web Wallet and Mobile Wallet (iOS/Android) with support for over 2000 cryptocurrencies. After a full-scale operation launched in August 2020, Moonstake’s total staking assets have grown rapidly to reach $1 Billion, allowing Moonstake to become one of the top 10 staking providers globally. Currently, Moonstake supports 12 high-demand staking coins: Cosmos, IRIS, Ontology, Harmony, Tezos, Cardano, Qtum, Polkadot, Quras, Centrality, Orbs, and IOST.

UzNEX is the first Uzbekistan government-licensed digital asset trading platform operated by KOBEA Group who has been an instrumental figure in the country’s development of the digital economy. The exchange, officially launched on March 2020, has its opening event on January 2020 at an international blockchain conference in Tashkent. The event gathered numerous representatives of crypto companies from South Korea, Japan, and Singapore, as well as officials from Uzbekistan’s ministries and government agencies. According to its global compliance strategy, Uznex fully meets the recommendations of the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF) as well as the relevant laws and regulations of the Republic of Uzbekistan. It is cooperating with local Uzbekistan banks to meet the regulations of domestic cryptocurrency exchanges to have real-name verified accounts on their service platform, securing its stability as a government-approved crypto exchange.

Overseas leading cryptocurrency companies have been paying close attention to the successive pro-cryptocurrency policies in Uzbekistan. Here, the National Agency of Project Management (NAPM) under the President of Uzbekistan is directly involved in the management of the cryptocurrency market and cryptocurrency exchange with the aim to incorporate cryptocurrency into the institutional system. On 30th April, the NAPM announced a decree that lifted this restriction, allowing its citizens to trade in cryptocurrency. Thanks to the decree, UzNEX, which had temporarily held its operation because of the local influence of Covid-19, officially reopened its services on 1 June, 2021.

In line with this, KOBEA Group announced that a massive renewal of UzNex is underway, and that the collaboration with Moonstake aims to attract more users with the platform’s world-class staking service. Staking of the cryptocurrency means fixing a certain amount of cryptocurrency you own as a stake to obtain a certain amount of profit during the deposit period, regardless of the fluctuations in the cryptocurrency price.

Mitsuru Tezuka, Founder at Moonstake, says: “Uzbekistan is a rapidly developing country when it comes to adoption of cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology, with the government taking active part in the development as well as regulation of digital asset services. UzNEX is the first and only licensed crypto exchange in Uzbekistan, operated by the renowned KOBEA Group that has been doing incredible work with developing the digital economy in the country. As a world-leading staking provider, we’re happy to join hands with them and accelerate the growth of cryptocurrency and staking in the region together.”

Chang Yong Lee, Chairman of KOBEA Group and UzNEX says: “Uzbekistan is now one of the youngest and fastest growing countries in the world, where major reforms in the field of the digital economy are being introduced. This country has enormous potential, and may soon lead the global digital economy. We’re happy to partner with Moonstake, one of the top 10 largest staking providers globally, to accelerate the awareness and development of the digital economy, including cryptocurrency and staking, in Uzbekistan.”

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/moonstake-partners-with-uzbekistan-government-licensed-exchange-uznex-by-kobea-group/

MineralTree Improve Its Software With Integrated Analytics and Interactive Visualisation Tool

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MineralTree, an Accounts Payable (AP) and payments automation solution provider, has announced the addition of a new integrated analytics and interactive visualisation tool to its software platform. The offering unlocks valuable insights into AP workflows, payments optimisation, cash flow, and security. The new capability is available immediately to all MineralTree Invoice-to-Pay users.

Finance leaders increasingly require real-time visibility and control over their processes to ensure timely decisions that are aligned with business priorities. In fact, a 2020 survey conducted by Grant Thornton found that 78% of CFOs are looking for quick access to the right data to support their decision making. This need exists due to the challenges of aggregating data from multiple systems and then presenting it in a way that facilitates immediate understanding and action.

MineralTree Analytics provides comprehensive, real-time visibility into every aspect of the AP process, including vendors, purchase orders, invoices, and payments. Building upon MineralTree’s seamless integration with customers’ financial systems, the new offering consolidates data from multiple workflows to provide rich visualisations of best-practice KPIs. Users can visually explore and interact with the data to gain a deeper understanding of their AP performance and make more informed business decisions.

“The visual dashboards in MineralTree Analytics are extremely useful when trying to get a quick glimpse into invoices versus payments at different stages of the AP process,” said Uma Ganijee, Accounts Payable Supervisor at Seismic and MineralTree user.

The real-time dashboards in MineralTree Analytics enable users to track metrics such as invoice aging, discounts, rebates earned, and payment mix. As a result, accounting managers spend less time seeking data and processing reports, and more time analysing the impact of AP on their business. At the same time, finance leaders are able to leverage that visibility to optimise working capital and align their AP activities with strategic priorities and industry best practices.

“Businesses are already using MineralTree to gain valuable time savings and cost efficiencies from not having to perform tedious manual tasks in the invoice-to-pay process,” said Elle Kowal, Chief Product Officer at MineralTree. “By embedding real-time analytics into the platform, we are enhancing our customers’ visibility and control over their AP processes, and providing valuable, actionable insights.”

Kowal further went on to say “Accounts Payable is a critical component of key business value drivers including cash flow and supplier relationships. In order to maximise that value, finance leaders need visibility into AP metrics and KPIs in order to make timely, data-driven decisions, but aggregating and organising the data in a usable way is a huge challenge. Either there is too much data to work with, the data sits in different systems and is difficult to match up, or they just don’t have the right tools to analyse it. Our new Analytics capability makes all that data more accessible enabling finance teams to gain data-driven insights, unlock new value and shape the strategy for their businesses.”

  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

https://thefintechtimes.com/mineraltree-improve-its-software-with-integrated-analytics-and-interactive-visualisation-tool/

Exibex Organises the 2nd Annual Edition of Finnovex Southern Africa

https://thefintechtimes.com/exibex-organises-the-2nd-annual-edition-of-finnovex-southern-africa/
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Exibex 2nd annual Finnovex Southern Africa, and the 7th Edition from the Finnovex Global Series, is to take place on 27-28 July 2021. The Summit will examine how technology is changing the delivery of banking and financial services.

As it is imperative to invest in a digital future and develop new technological solutions in data, advanced analytics, digital and new delivery platform. It is also important that fintechs and banks collaborate to support businesses and aid people to remain safe, healthy, productive, and connected in the face of COVID-19 and beyond. 

This year’s edition is themed “Adapting Reinvention to Rapidly Changed World”. The Summit will host CXOs, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Heads of departments from Banking and FI industry involved in: Mobile Banking; Digital Transformation; Digital Banking; Blockchain; Cyber & Cloud Security; Islamic Banking; Fintech; Strategy & Operations; Retail Banking; R&D Innovation; Risk & compliance Management; Product Development; Cryptocurrency; Customer Experience; IT; Big Data Analytics; Open Banking (API) and Innovation.

Attendees should anticipate:

  • 25+ Trail Blazer Speakers
  • 250+ Delegates
  • 4+ Panel Discussions
  • 8+ Networking Hours
  • 10+ Keynote Sessions

Attendees will be able to:

  • Meet new, creative and inspired people, and form strategies you need to grow. Network, Share ideas and learn new strategies with over 250 of the sharpest minds in banking and financial services.
  • Learn how to evaluate, deploy, use, and customise the financial technologies to improve business processes
  • Hear first-hand from customers on the challenges they face across the entire value chain of financial processes
  • Take away lessons learned, valuable case studies and key insights from peers to apply within your operations
  • Meet with Fintech solution management, development, support and consulting experts
  • Fully evaluate and understand how the comprehensive suite of applications can optimise your business process
  • Visit the showcase centres and demos to better understand the latest solutions in the market that can help your business

Finnovex is dedicated to examining the Future of Financial Services on how disruptive innovations are reshaping the way they are structured, provisioned and consumed.

The Finnovex Global series, which is organised by Exibex, examines the Future of Financial Services and how disruptive innovations are reshaping the way they are structured, provisioned and consumed. The Finnovex series of Summits highlights thought leadership on cutting-edge issues with long-term implications to the industry and lays foundation for multi-stakeholder dialogues that explore the potential of these innovations to transform the financial ecosystem as well as the risks and opportunities that could emerge from shifts in the way financial services are designed, delivered and used in the future.

For more information, visit – https://finnovex.com/

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/exibex-organises-the-2nd-annual-edition-of-finnovex-southern-africa/

UAE Regulatory Authorities Seek Public Feedback on Fintech Adoption Guidelines

https://thefintechtimes.com/uae-regulatory-authorities-seek-public-feedback-on-fintech-adoption-guidelines/
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The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) (the Regulators) have jointly launched a four-week public consultation on proposed “Guidelines for Financial Institutions Adopting Enabling Technologies”.

The regulators welcome comments on the Guidelines which is planned to be issued in the second half of 2021, subject to the outcome of the public consultation.

The consultation sets out cross-sectoral principles and best practices for financial institutions when adopting enabling technologies for the development or offering of innovative products and services. The enabling technologies include: Application Programming Interfaces; Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence; Biometrics; Cloud Computing; and Distributed Ledger Technology.

As previously expanded upon by The Fintech Times, in terms of digital competitiveness, the UAE is ranked first in the Arab region (12th globally). This is according to IMD’s World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2019 report. The same report ranks the UAE 2nd in the technology factor, 9th in the future readiness factor, and 35th in the knowledge factor. 

The UAE has remained a leading innovator amongst many aspects of digital. The country became the first nation in the world to have a State Ministry for Artificial Intelligence back in 2017, which was, and currently still is, contained by H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama.

Such innovations are evident for those that live in the UAE, and can be seen through the deployment of sophisticated technology. Examples include speed cameras, drones, and robots. Through the collection of data, the UAE can monitor closely and help contain Covid-19. AI’s ability to turn raw data and create forecasts can help not only the UAE but the rest of the world in combating the pandemic. With the recent easing of restrictions such as in Dubai, digitalisation will play a huge role in further protecting residents.

The objectives of these Guidelines are to promote the safe and sound adoption of these technologies by financial institutions across the UAE, so that the risks arising from the adoption of innovative activities are proactively and appropriately managed. In drawing up the guidelines, the regulators have considered both international standards and industry best practices.

The guidelines will apply to all financial institutions that are licensed and supervised by any of the regulators and who utilise the enabling technologies, irrespective of the financial activities conducted.

  • Tyler is a Fintech Junior Journalist with specific interests in Online Banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

https://thefintechtimes.com/uae-regulatory-authorities-seek-public-feedback-on-fintech-adoption-guidelines/

News & Views Podcast | Episode 36: Retail and the Payments Industry during the Pandemic

https://thefintechtimes.com/news-views-podcast-episode-36-retail-and-the-payments-industry-during-the-pandemic/
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On this weeks episode of The Fintech Times News & Views, The Fintech Times Podcast team speak on the retail and payments industry during the Coronavirus pandemic.

https://thefintechtimes.com/news-views-podcast-episode-36-retail-and-the-payments-industry-during-the-pandemic/

alldayPA: Advice for SME’s Post Pandemic

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Throughout the pandemic, businesses across the UK have faced challenges apart from adjusting to the ‘new norm’ and easing back into normality. SMEs, Entrepreneurs, and successful business owners have also had to implement a new process that encourages growth and looks after their staff’s well-being, while managing an online and offline business during a pandemic.

Founder of the UK based call answering service, alldayPA, Reuben Singh has achieved several things, including being named a pioneer of the nation by HM The Queen and having his portrait hung in the National Portrait Gallery. Along with receiving special awards, he has served on many Government councils and bodies and received an honorary doctorate in philosophy.  With his business mindset and knowledge, he has elevated his business and transformed alldayPA from a small business to a much bigger company. With his success story, he aims to inspire SMEs to go out of their comfort zone and compete with their larger competitors.

While many businesses across the UK have been affected by the pandemic, alldayPA has had to navigate other learning curves and become more agile. Reuben Singh’s main priority was to be there for customers when they needed his service. He achieved this by managing costs whilst improving alldayPA’s client experience and customer services. He believes that the government should push the minimum wage and reward the staff more, but employees need to be ready to obtain more skills and wear multiple hats in the business in return.

Singh concentrates on promoting British Entrepreneurship: “I want to help entrepreneurs wherever and whenever I can.” Here he discusses the minimum wage and shares his tips on how to run a successful business.

The successful businessman wants to help SMEs who have suffered at the hands of covid-19. In this article, the founder of alldayPA shares that leaders need to learn from their mistakes and make proactive decisions that will help find a solution. Along with having the right attitude, he advises that small business owners should prioritise hiring the right people and then encourage them to grow alongside the business within an opportunity-driven environment. He also shares how he keeps his staff motivated by showing them the bigger picture and by sharing his vision with his team. Along with being honest with your business goals, he advises that business leaders should be aware of their work colleagues’ well-being and ensure they have ‘general life’ conversations and check-ins with their teams in groups and on an individual basis.

Founder of alldayPA, Reuben Singh  commented on why he wants to help SMEs : “alldayPA aims to help any SME restructuring, advising them to not compromise on what they want to achieve and to enable them to bring  their business vision to life.”

Advice for SMEs from Founder of alldayPA, Reuben Singh :

  • Do things out of your comfort zone – “Your vision of what your business could be is what keeps you awake at night. If you don’t get that funny feeling in your stomach, don’t do it.”
  • Value yourself – “You need to value yourself before you can expect anybody to respect you. To create value, you must have a strong purpose.”
  • Try not to borrow money – “Find somebody who believes and wants to invest in you because investors will share the pain to grow your businesses and will add value.”
  • Don’t have a plan B -“If you have a plan B, that means you don’t believe in plan A enough. If you don’t believe in your plan A enough, don’t do it.”
  • Reward your staff – “Find people who get excited by your vision. More experience can be a hindrance sometimes. Look at somebody’s attitude, not just a degree or experience.”
  • Think big -“The world these days is one single market. If you can sell something to somebody in your postcode area, you can sell it to somebody who is miles away.”

https://thefintechtimes.com/alldaypa-advice-for-smes-post-pandemic/

BNPL Klarna Secures $639million in Funding To Support International Expansion

https://thefintechtimes.com/bnpl-klarna-secures-639million-in-funding-to-support-international-expansion/
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Klarna, a global payments provider, retail bank, and shopping service, has confirmed a new equity funding of $639 million. The round was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2,with additional participation from existing investors Adit Ventures, Honeycomb Asset Management and WestCap Group, to support international expansion and further capture global retail growth. 

The post-money valuation of Klarna is $45.6 billion and remains the highest-valued private fintech in Europe and the second-highest worldwide. As part of the GiveOne initiative established by Klarna earlier this year, 1% of this equity raised will be directed to initiatives supporting planet health.

Klarna enables consumers to shop, pay and bank in a smarter way, designed to fit the lives they lead, rather than the requirements of the traditional payments and banking industry. The ongoing structural shift of consumers turning away from revolving credit lines where they incur interest or fees to debit and simultaneously seeking superior retail experiences means Klarna’s healthier, more transparent and convenient alternatives, which put consumers in control are closely aligned to evolving global consumer preferences and drive global growth.

Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Klarna Founder and CEO said: “Consumers continue to reject interest-and fee-laden revolving credit and are moving toward debit while simultaneously seeking retail experiences that better meet their needs. Klarna’s more transparent and convenient alternatives align with evolving global consumer preferences and drive worldwide growth. I’m very proud of the investors who are supporting Klarna’s ambition to challenge these outdated models to empower consumers with fair, transparent, and convenient products to help them bank, shop and pay each day.”

Yanni Pipilis, managing partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers said, “Klarna’s growth is founded on a deep understanding of how the purchasing behaviours of consumers are changing, an evolution which we believe is accelerating. Klarna has already successfully expanded into the US and we are excited to continue supporting the team in bringing the next generation of financial services to new markets worldwide.”

Klarna is available direct to consumers via the company’s shopping app, used by 18million customers worldwide as well as at over 250,000 retailers globally. In the app, consumers can browse and shop at any brand online with Klarna payment options, allowing them to pay immediately or later, manage spending and available balances, add favourite items to collections, initiate refunds, access tailored discounts, receive price-drop notifications, track deliveries intelligently and join Klarna’s loyalty program, Vibe.

Charlie Young, partner at WestCap commented: “Klarna is leading a revolution in consumer preference, and has already reimagined the payments, e-commerce, and banking experience for tens of millions of people. Klarna’s global scale and leading market position create even more opportunity for the business going forward. WestCap is pleased to partner with Klarna at this exciting moment in the company’s history.”

Klarna’s Q1 2021 results evidence how such services are resonating with consumers, recording over $18.9billion GMV (Q1 2020: $9.9billion) for the period driven by growth in all markets and exceptional momentum in the US with over 18 million American consumers now using Klarna. In 2020, the Klarna app consistently ranked among the Top 10 app downloads in the US and this momentum continues as downloads in 2021 have increased 125% year on year, propelling record volumes in March 2021. Klarna is now live with 24 of the top 100 US retailers, more than any of its competitors, illustrating our position as the global shopping partner of choice. Equally, Klarna’s global footprint across 17 markets continues to grow, with a number of new markets launching in 2021, soon to be the largest e-commerce market in Europe worth over $185billion by 2024.

This funding round provides GiveOne, the initiative to support planet health established by Klarna earlier this year, with its third significant donation since launch. Recent investor A$AP Rocky pledged to support the Miti Alliance in Kenya and its founder Michael Waiyaki, who is fighting to slow down the effects of climate change due to deforestation. Klarna has also launched a CO2 tracker on every purchase. In one of the largest-ever awareness-raising efforts on carbon footprints, 90 million Klarna consumers across all markets are now provided with the kgCO2 value on every purchase.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

https://thefintechtimes.com/bnpl-klarna-secures-639million-in-funding-to-support-international-expansion/