Launching our Tech Legal Outlook 2020: Mid-Year Update

https://www.linklaters.com/en/insights/blogs/fintechlinks/2020/july/launching-our-tech-legal-outlook-2020-mid-year-update
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Given the seismic events of the year to date, we have produced a Mid-Year Update to our original Tech Legal Outlook 2020. In this Update we explore seven of the key global trends likely to shape the technology sector in the second half of 2020 and beyond, and consider the legal implications for businesses – including Fintechs.

Catalyst for change

The rapid outbreak of Covid-19 and the accompanying lockdown measures, have dramatically changed life as we know it and transformed the business outlook for 2020 and beyond. The crisis has provided a catalyst for change, with technology and data more critical than ever.

The role of technology

A striking feature of lockdown has been the need for a sudden shift to living and working online, and our continuing dependency on digital services for everything from healthcare to groceries, education to entertainment. The crisis has forced a change in behaviour and in some cases, required a change in law to facilitate new arrangements, protect national interests at a time of crisis, or to support those suffering financially.

The new normal

The “new normal” presents an evolving landscape with opportunities and challenges for the tech sector. Countries are emerging from lockdown measures, employees are returning to work and there continues to be the prospect of future outbreaks. By 8 June 2020 U.S. stocks, led by tech companies, had recouped losses from the lows of March. In the following week, global stocks began to fall after a rise in new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and China. Big U.S. and Chinese tech companies have out-performed the market. However, growth across the wider tech sector has faltered and many organisations have experienced disruption and difficulties. Economic recovery is unequal and unpredictable.

Challenges ahead

Organisations will continue to grapple with the new normal for an extended period of time: overcoming new challenges where they seek to raise funds or make investments; protecting their innovation and intellectual property; adapting to a changing legal and regulatory environment; navigating an employment minefield; responding to significant changes to supply and demand; and addressing increased risks such as cyber threats. This presents a number of risks and legal issues for organisations to navigate.

Seven key trends

In our Mid-Year Update, we have focused on seven of the key trends likely to shape the technology sector in the second half of the year. Many of the trends originated before the pandemic: digital technologies have been transforming sectors, cyber-risk has been increasing, governments have been increasingly protectionist in their approach to foreign investment and increasingly seeking to regulate the digital economy. What is different is the pace of change.

Visit our Tech Legal Outlook 2020: Mid-Year Update page for a summary of the seven trends and to download your copy of the update.

https://www.linklaters.com/en/insights/blogs/fintechlinks/2020/july/launching-our-tech-legal-outlook-2020-mid-year-update

Technology to help businesses fight Covid-19

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Cassava Fintech International (CFI), a subsidiary of the Econet Group, has unveiled a secure blockchain technology-supported solution aimed at helping businesses to safely get their employees back to work.

Darlington Mandivenga, CFI chief executive, said the healthtech solution — known as the Sasai Health Status Report (SHSR) — will help individuals and communities get back control of their lives and kick-start productivity, while still observing the recommended public health and safety protocols.

“We (are) offering a solution that we believe will significantly move the needle in safely getting people to securely get tested, know their status and do the needful so that they get back to work and reclaim their normal lives,” he said in an online press conference yesterday.

“The Sasai  Health Status Report will, at the point of testing, capture a person’s Covid-19 health status which they can confidentially share, at the users’ discretion  with those who need to know — such as one’s family members and their employers — in a manner that respects personal data privacy and using secure blockchain technology,” Mr Mandivenga said.

Blockchain technology uses a digital ledger that, among other things, stores information in a secure way that makes it impossible to hack or to alter the record. The use of the technology in the design of the Health Status Report, will be seen as a crucial firewall embedded in the platform against counterfeit tests and fake test kits.

“We are offering a solution at a time many nations have embarked on large-scale screening and testing for Covid-19 in order to reopen their economies,” Mr Mandivenga said. While CFI was rolling out the SHSR in Zimbabwe first, plans were at an advanced stage to take it to other markets.

“We have already received strong expressions of interest from a number of African countries where we will be soon taking the platform.”

Speaking at the same press conference, Sasai chief operating officer Tapera Mushoriwa, said the SHRS was already available on the Google Play and Apple App stores.

“The Health Status Report feature is already available on Sasai  under the Sasai  ‘Explore’ menu. Users simply need to do a once-off registration to activate the service,” Mr Mushoriwa said.

He added that the SHSR feature carried a wide range of functionalities, including test reports and the capability to share one’s test reports with others or with one’s organisation.

“A test report can be securely shared through three ways, with another user within the application, by SMS or by QR code,” Mr Mushoriwa said. A user can also verify a report received, through inputting the verification code which will be authenticated by the blockchain technology.

He said because of the use of blockchain technology in the SHSR architecture, the platform will be able to validate whether or not test kits used across the report’s supply chain are counterfeit or fake.

“We are working with reputable manufacturers and suppliers whose test kits we pre-load onto the platform ahead of any testing programme. Using the SHSR, we are betting on reducing the spread of Covid-19 by ensuring that only authentic test kits sourced from genuine medical suppliers are used, especially given the scourge of counterfeit or substandard health and medical products in some parts of Africa,” Mr Mushoriwa said.

In a separate but related development last week, the African Union (AU) commissioned a secure African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) intended, among other things, to secure competitive prices and to protect African governments and organisations from procuring counterfeit Covid-19 medical supplies.

Mr Mushoriwa said the SHSR, which is integrated to a secure web application for use by registered medical professionals, would automatically reject counterfeit test kits and fake test results.

“The Health Services Report has an extra security layer that ensures all personal and medical information is in a secure environment and is temper-proof, such that bogus or unrecognised tests cannot be authenticated on the platform,” Mr Mushoriwa said.

He added that CFI was in the process of engaging the AU, through the AMSP programme, to ensure that all registered manufacturers upload their test kits onto the SHRS platform for validation.

This article was originally published on The Herald from Zimbabwe

https://thefintechtimes.com/technology-to-help-businesses-fight-covid-19/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=technology-to-help-businesses-fight-covid-19

Banks, Abi: 10 considerations for a central bank digital currency

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The Executive Committee of the Italian Banking Association has approved general guidelines of its position concerning digital money and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

Italian banks are available to participate in projects and experimentations of a European central bank digital currency, contributing in foster the implementation of a European level initiative in a pilot national banking sector, thanks to their competences developed in a concrete realisation of distributed infrastructure and governance.

With the aim of analysing this matter, last year ABI set up an expert group dedicated to exploring digital money and crypto assets. From this work derive the 10 considerations approved by the Executive Committee:

  1. Monetary stability and a full respect of the European regulatory framework must be taken in account as a priority.

  2. Italian banks are already working on a distributed ledger infrastructure thanks to Spunta DLT project. They want to be part of the change that come from such an important innovation like digital currency.

  3. In the financial environment, a programmable digital money represents an innovation able to profoundly modify the way we conceive currency and exchange. This transformation can potentially deliver a great added value, in particular in terms of efficiency for both operational and support process. This is the reason why is so important to dedicate attention and energies to develop, quickly and in collaboration with the entire ecosystem, new instruments able to primarily support the development of the Euro area.

  4. It is necessary that digital money deserves the maximum trust from the public. To this extent, it is essential that the highest standards of regulatory framework, security and supervision are fully respected.

  5. Thanks to the key role played by the Central Bank, a CBDC represents the instruments that, more than others, can satisfy the innovation needs in alignment with the current framework of rules, existing instruments and interoperability with the analogical world. At the same time, an instrument like this may reduce the attractiveness of analogue tools issued by private or (in the fully decentralised implementation) non identifiable actors, due to a higher inherent risk.

  6. To deliver at its maximum the potential of transformation of such kind of tools, it is of absolute interest the possibility, currently under consideration, to issued a retail European CBDC, that can represent an innovation of cash. Thanks to the role of banks, it is possible to identify technical solution and operational framework able to preserve current characteristics of cash, while adding several typical benefits of the digital world (already satisfied by digital payment instruments), such as the ability not to lose money and, in this period where sanitary risk is under attention, to operate contactless.

  7. Analysing every detail, it would be possible to define how to distribute, store and exchange digital money in a way that enable to combine customer needs, together with the ability to ensure that the monetary policy is transmitted to the real economy and compliance to the regulatory framework. For sure, in each of these objectives, banks role is crucial.

  8. A key success factor for the adoption of CBDC is to reach a frictionless user experience, ensuring at the same time full interoperability between digital and analogical world and a complete circularity among all ecosystem actors.

  9. According the technological choices that will be taken, a particular attention to the protection of personal data of our citizens is required (privacy).

  10. Thinking to the future that awaits us, the availability of a CBDC will enable several very interesting use cases: to foster peer.to-peer value transmission, supporting money exchange between person and machine and in a machine-to-machine scenario; to facilitate cross-border transactions settlement, reducing interest rate, exchange and counterparty risks; to promote, thanks to the programmability of this instrument, the automatic execution of payments when predefined situations arise, reducing administrative processes.

https://thefintechtimes.com/banks-abi-10-considerations-for-a-central-bank-digital-currency/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=banks-abi-10-considerations-for-a-central-bank-digital-currency

Report from leading digital money platform shows 270 million women worldwide are excluded from day to day banking

https://thefintechtimes.com/report-from-leading-digital-money-platform-shows-270-million-women-worldwide-are-excluded-from-day-to-day-banking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=report-from-leading-digital-money-platform-shows-270-million-women-worldwide-are-excluded-from-day-to-day-banking
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  • White paper released by FinTech firm Paysend, cites Infrastructure, cultural attitudes, and education as the main reasons why 270 million more women than men globally lack financial independence

  • Low income countries are particularly impacted by the gender imbalance in financial inclusion countries

  • Data from World Bank points to the importance of money transfers for women in poorer socio-economic situations

 Global FinTech company Paysend today released a white paper focusing on the empowerment of women in low-income countries through international money transfers. The paper, published by Paysend, uses data from the World Bank and a number of other sources to demonstrate the importance of the digitisation of money transfers for women in poor socio-economic situations.

The white paper, entitled Digital money for inclusion. How FinTech is supporting the empowerment of women is part of Paysend’s educational series on the benefits of digital money, made particularly relevant given the importance of FinTech to play a central role in a post-coronavirus world.

Alberto Macciani, Paysend CMO and co-author of the white paper, said: “In many parts of the world financial equality is still a dream, as most women are completely dependent on their husband’s money. As women are generally better than men at saving and caring for family needs this has a huge impact on many socio-economic areas such as education and healthcare.

“To address this imbalance Paysend are working to educate people about the advantages of digital money, to help a fairer distribution and to have a more positive impact on society.”

Paysend is one of the leading global providers in digital money transfers and are on the cusp of reaching 2 million customers in just over 3 years of business. With a major focus on encouraging customers to make the switch from offline to online money transfer, the business has as one of its key pillars a focus on the distribution of money from high-income countries to low-income countries.

https://thefintechtimes.com/report-from-leading-digital-money-platform-shows-270-million-women-worldwide-are-excluded-from-day-to-day-banking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=report-from-leading-digital-money-platform-shows-270-million-women-worldwide-are-excluded-from-day-to-day-banking

Aviva Selects Fenergo to Transform KYC, CDD and AML Processes

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Global Asset Manager to digitally transform its investor and client lifecycle management systems with Fenergo

Fenergo, the leading provider of digital transformation, customer journey and client lifecycle management (CLM) solutions for financial institutions has been selected by Aviva, to replace Know Your Customer (KYC), Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems and services. Fenergo will work initially with Aviva Investors and later with Aviva UK Insurance, to rapidly onboard all legal entities associated with investors and clients across all jurisdictions, transforming the investor and client onboarding experience.

Aviva selected Fenergo to deliver an end-to-end solution to streamline the management of multi-jurisdictional KYC, CDD, and AML regulatory processes, while improving the customer journey and driving efficiencies by replacing manual processes. Fenergo will enable Aviva Investors to achieve a single client view through a central data repository which will also serve as a golden source for all KYC data. The centralisation of data will reduce the number of information outreach requests to new and existing customers and will allow resources to focus on more value-add and revenue generating tasks within the business.

“Aviva Investors has continued to focus heavily on improving our clients’ onboarding process, as we strive to provide the seamless experience that our clients expect and deserve” said Michelle Calcutt, Head of Client Experience. “Implementing the Fenergo solution will be a great step forward, as it will enable us to make best use of publicly available data and streamline the process further. In reality this will mean less onerous documentation requests to our clients, resulting in a faster and smoother onboarding experience”

With Fenergo’s solution, Aviva Investors will be able to easily identify and trace Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBO) and better understand complex legal entity hierarchies and ownership relationships. Fenergo’s solution ensures accurate regulatory classifications and reporting across multiple jurisdictions and provides increased transparency required by third parties such as auditors and regulators. In addition, Fenergo’s solution will automate all periodic and ongoing KYC reviews and maintenance requests as well as requisite risk assessments within a secure platform.

Kevin O’Neill, Global Head of Asset Management & Asset Servicing at Fenergo, said: “We are delighted to partner with Aviva Investors, one of the world’s leading Asset Management businesses. In today’s competitive and challenging climate, the Asset Management industry has recognised the need to digitalise the onboarding process and streamline compliance amid the various regulatory headwinds. Our solution will help Aviva Investors to optimise client experiences while ensuring that all AML, KYC and CDD requirements are automated in a rules-based secure environment.”

“In working with Aviva Investors, we also look forward to expanding our services into Aviva Insurance and in time, extending our CLM solution into the Global Insurance industry,” continued Kevin.

Aviva, a leading international savings, retirement, and insurance business serving 33.4 million customers globally, joins Fenergo’s growing roster of Asset Management and buy-side financial institutions.

https://thefintechtimes.com/aviva-selects-fenergo-to-transform-kyc-cdd-and-aml-processes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=aviva-selects-fenergo-to-transform-kyc-cdd-and-aml-processes

KeyBank, Associated Bank, Brex join BI Build speaker faculty

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/payments/keybank-associated-bank-brex-join-bi-build-speaker-faculty/
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Top executives from KeyBank, Associated Bank and Brex are slated to speak at the Bank Innovation Build digital event on Sept. 9-10.

Taking the virtual stage will be Stephen Schroth, head of digital consumer banking and global experience design at KeyBank; Michael Meinolf, Associated Bank’s chief information officer; and Michael Tannenbaum, chief financial officer at Brex. They will discuss changes in banking innovation operations and focus in the age of COVID-19 on Sept. 9, at 11 a.m. EST.

Each industry leader brings a unique perspective backed by industry experience. Schroth has spent more than three years at KeyBank. Prior to that, he spent almost four years at TD Bank as the vice president of strategy and digital customer experience, where he led strategy for TD’s North American online and mobile channels, and spent an additional three years as the head of digital channels at the Royal Bank of Canada. Meinolf has been with Associated Bank for more than five years. Before joining the bank, he spent more than three years as a vice president of technology administration at The Clearing House. Tannenbaum was the first employee at Brex and has been with the startup for three years. He previously spent more than three years at SoFi, most recently as the chief revenue officer.

As consumers have shifted toward digital channels during the coronavirus pandemic, banks have reacted accordingly to accommodate this shift in behavior. Banks have accelerated the development of certain projects while putting others on hold as the pandemic continues to alter everyday life and rattle global markets.

Bank Innovation Build, now in its second year, is designed for innovation teams in financial services and executives overseeing financial technologies and product experiences. As a virtual experience, Bank Innovation Build will be powered by an online event technology that will provide attendees with networking opportunities and AI-based matchmaking for one-on-one meetings with other industry leaders. Additionally, attendees can explore the virtual exhibitor hall and demo sponsor technologies. All sessions will be recorded and attendees can access conference content throughout the year.

Bank Innovation Build speakers include executives from Royal Bank of Canada, Ally, HSBC, City National Bank and more. Sessions highlight open banking and best practices in risk management, executing new investments, as well as a fireside chat featuring Citibank Chief Innovation Officer Vanessa Colella.

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/payments/keybank-associated-bank-brex-join-bi-build-speaker-faculty/

New Business Banking Startup Zeller Set For Australian Launch

https://dailyfintech.com/2020/07/01/new-business-banking-startup-zeller-set-for-australian-launch/
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Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a neowealth disruptor in Australia

Business banking hasn’t had a lot of competition in Australia.

That is set to change, with news a former Square, Visa and NAB executive is set to launch a new offering for Australian SMEs, Zeller.

The business will reportedly help SMEs streamline business bank account opening, payments and cash flow management, however it will not pursue its own banking licence in the foreseeable future, taking a leaf out of local consumer neobanking startup Up.

Zeller is wading into the business banking market just as a seismic shift in payments behaviour is taking place – the move to a germ-free, cashless society. No doubt it hopes to capitalise on the new challenges this will bring merchants who have traditionally been slow to ditch hard currency.

The news comes as Australia’s largest business bank, National Australia Bank, ramps up efforts to bridge its own technology gaps, hiring Canadian heavyweight Andrew Irvine to run its business division. Ironically, for Zeller, Irvine has been touted as having helped develop a platform specifically aimed at helping his former employer, the Bank of Montreal, better understand their customers cashflow.

The Zeller announcement will have NAB on alert. It has seen a large outflow of senior executives to start up business bank Judo, one of the most notable new banks competing aggressively in the space. Keeping talent in the building to deliver on its technology strategy will be key.

All that aside, the road ahead won’t be easy for startups or existing players targeting businesses as customers. While Australia has mainly avoided mass COVID driven lockdowns, new flare ups in various states have forced multiple suburbs back into lockdown, border to re-close and many businesses, who had only just opened their doors, have found their doors forced close again, or lumped with severe trading restrictions. In addition, Australians are slowly tightening their wallets, and there is the chill of recession in the air.

Whatever the case – margins are under pressure across the board, and technology is a strategy everyone should be banking on.

New readers can see 3 free articles before getting the Daily Fintech paywall. After that you will need to become a member for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day) and get all our fresh content and our archives and participate in our forum.

https://dailyfintech.com/2020/07/01/new-business-banking-startup-zeller-set-for-australian-launch/

DayTek Capital joins Visa’s Fintech Fast Track program for the launch of Infinity

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DayTek Capital today announced that it has joined Visa’s Fintech Fast Track program, allowing the business to leverage the reach, capabilities and security that VisaNet, the company’s global payment network, provides.

DayTek Capital, which is in the process of building a neobank, ‘Infinity’, is set to use these unrivalled resources, alongside access to a cross-functional team of fintech experts at Visa through the Fintech Fast Track program, to bring its revolutionary neobank to market. Underpinned by state-of-the-art technology, Infinity will offer advanced analytical and artificial intelligence capabilities to assist consumers in developing their financial profile. It aims to provide a competitive offering through alternative and unique banking products tailored to their customers’ financial situation and interests.

“We are delighted to partner with Visa as we build Australia’s first ‘product-disruptive’ bank,” said Krish Gosai, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at DayTek Capital. “Visa is a global leader in payments and is continuing to invest in advanced technology developments to adapt to the fast-changing financial landscape. Through this collaboration, Infinity will not only bear the Visa logo on our cards but will be leveraging Visa’s new and innovative solutions across our unique product offerings and technology stack.”

“As the trend towards digital continues to accelerate, fintechs are embracing technology to redefine and enhance the way we pay, manage and invest our money,” said Anthony Jones, Visa’s Head of Innovation and Partnerships for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific.

“With their continuous focus on technology and customer experience, we’re excited to partner with DayTek Capital through Visa Fintech Fast Track, a program enabling nimble fintechs to refine their payment products, and scale more quickly,” Mr Jones said.

https://thefintechtimes.com/daytek-capital-joins-visas-fintech-fast-track-program-for-the-launch-of-infinity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=daytek-capital-joins-visas-fintech-fast-track-program-for-the-launch-of-infinity

Stratyfy Earns Spot in FIS Fintech Accelerator Incoming Cohort

https://finovate.com/stratyfy-earns-spot-in-fis-fintech-accelerator-incoming-cohort/
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Predictive analytics innovator Stratyfy is one of ten companies selected to participate in the incoming cohort of FIS’ 2020 Fintech Accelerator program.

“The ten companies selected for the fifth year of FIS’ Accelerator program bring a wealth of promising ideas and technologies,” FIS Chief Growth Officer Asif Ramji said. “We look forward to working with these firms to bring their ideas to life.”

Joining Stratyfy in the program are:

  • Cirrus Secure
  • Cobbler Technologies
  • Dasceq
  • Mall IQ
  • Sequretek
  • Silot
  • Surfly
  • TrustStamp
  • XpenseOne

Seven of the companies in the cohort have headquarters in the United States. Of the others, Sequretek is based in Mumbai, India; Silot in Singapore; and Surfly in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. And after four years in operation, the accelerator, in partnership with The Venture Center, will conduct its fifth program virtually due to the challenges of the global public health crisis.

In addition to being entirely virtual, this year’s program will run for 18 weeks instead of the usual 12 weeks to allow for increased mentoring and training time. The program will culminate with a Demo Day technology presentation on October 14th. Participating startups will also receive a monetary investment; the amount was not disclosed.

Executive Director for The Venture Center, Wayne Miller, pointed to the program’s success in empowering startup companies and helping improve access to financial services and technology. “With our partners at FIS and the State of Arkansas, we’re honored to be a part of bringing cutting-edge technologies to the places and people who need them, particularly in this moment of monumental technological advancement,” Miller said.

The news comes in the wake of Strayfy’s announcement of a new strategic partnership with Innovesta Technologies. The two companies are collaborating on a machine learning solution that will help businesses better measure the risk of and opportunity in non-public companies. The partnership combines Stratyfy’s decision engine and advanced machine learning technology with Innovesta’s comprehensive data assets to deliver real-time insights into the forces that impact business performance.

“Models built from historical data offer little help during an unprecedented health and economic crisis like the current global pandemic,” Stratyfy co-founder and CEO Laura Kornhauser said when the partnership was announced in May. “Achieving an inclusive global financial recovery requires robust risk management strategies, and those strategies necessitate an understanding of the unique challenges being faced by every business. Stratyfy’s decision management solutions will leverage Innovesta’s trustworthy data to directly address this need.”

Founded in 2016, Stratyfy is headquartered in New York City. The company was named one of the world’s 100 most promising startups to watch last year by CNBC.

https://finovate.com/stratyfy-earns-spot-in-fis-fintech-accelerator-incoming-cohort/

Wex nabs $400M investment from Warburg Pincus

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/wex-nabs-400m-investment-from-warburg-pincus/

Wex Inc. a fintech specializing in fleet management and corporate payments, nabbed a $400 million investment from Warburg Pincus, according to a press release.

The investment includes $310 million in convertible notes and $90 million through a private placement of common stock.

Wex also got an amendment to senior secured credit facilities that provides it with increased financial flexibility.

“We are pleased to further fortify our balance sheet during the current uncertain operating environment, while reaffirming our relationship with Warburg Pincus, who has demonstrated their strong commitment to the future growth of Wex,” Melissa Smith, chair and CEO of Wex, said in a company release.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/wex-nabs-400m-investment-from-warburg-pincus/

Aire Launches Pulse to Help Underwriters During COVID-19

https://finovate.com/aire-launches-pulse-to-help-underwriters-during-covid-19/
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There are two words that help summarize 2020: unpredictability and volatility. It turns out that both of these attributes are bad for a lot of things and that’s especially true for underwriting consumer loans.

Recognizing this issue, U.K.-based credit assessment services company Aire launched Pulse, a product to help lenders calculate risk in the post-COVID borrowing landscape.

“Lenders have always played catch up when understanding how existing customers perform on commitments elsewhere, and this challenge is exacerbated by the major CRAs’ Emergency Payment Freeze,” said Aire CEO and Founder Aneesh Varma. “In a rapidly changing economic situation, lenders need new tools that can understand the context of the consumer to help them detect emerging risks. Pulse is a quick, convenient and FCA-regulated way for lenders to spot financial change as it happens, providing lenders with a truly holistic view, gathered from the most up-to-date data source available to them: the consumer themselves.”

At its core, Pulse is a scalable communications tool. It enables lenders to collect current information from customers about their changing financial circumstances while maintaining fair and FCA-compliant account handling. The tool enables lenders to reach out to their existing borrowers via SMS and email to conduct an Interactive Virtual Interview (IVI) to gather information regarding disposable income levels and risk of financial difficulty.

It takes consumers an average of three-to-five minutes to complete the IVI, which asks for information such as employment status, current working hours, income level, household bills and expenses, and levels of savings. In order to ensure the information is correct, Aire cross-checks it against its own database of consumer information. After the assessment, Aire sends the lender insight into the consumer’s financial difficulty, affordability, and engagement.

Because of its proactive approach, Pulse offers lenders information about a consumer’s changing financial situation much faster than the traditional method of waiting for historical information from CRAs who identify changes in customer circumstances.

The underwriting and credit scoring space has always been an area of disruption for fintechs. Given that the new reality across the globe has multiple impacts on the economy and unemployment, we can expect to see more existing companies adapt their services to not only help underwriters understand and assess risk but also help consumers access cashflow when they really need it.

Aire was founded in 2014 and has since raised $24 million. Aneesh Varma is CEO.


Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/aire-launches-pulse-to-help-underwriters-during-covid-19/

Banking with Crypto: Where Will It Go Next?

https://finovate.com/banking-with-crypto-where-will-it-go-next/
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This is a guest post written by Shannon Flynn, managing editor at ReHack.com.

Amid the market instability caused by COVID-19, a major shift seems to be taking place in the crypto industry.

After years of false starts and criticism from the banking sector and traditional financial institutions, new partnerships and legislation seem to suggest the industry may be on the verge of a large-scale crypto service adoption.

Here’s the current state of the crypto market, and how financial institutions are beginning to offer it in earnest.

The Current Health of the Crypto Market

Like other asset classes, crypto wasn’t immune to the crash caused by the coronavirus. In mid-March, as assets of all categories fell — even those typically more secure against market shocks, like gold — so too did major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Prices for both dropped sharply, with Bitcoin’s market value nearly halved.

Crypto, however, was remarkably quick to bounce back, with prices recovering to near pre-coronavirus levels over the next two months. So far, crypto seems to have come out as one of the better-performing asset classes, recovering much faster than others.The disruption caused by COVID-19 seems to have been small enough that banks and major financial institutions are continuing with plans to offer crypto services.

JPMorgan Announces Partnership With Crypto Exchanges

One of the biggest announcements of the past few months has been the partnership between JPMorgan Chase and crypto exchanges Gemini and Coinbase. In May, the bank announced it would accept the exchanges as banking customers — making them their first clients from the cryptocurrency industry.

Coinbase is the largest U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange. Gemini is less prominent but is notable in its moves to secure support from major institutions outside of crypto.

The partnership is big news for American cryptocurrency traders and firms, especially in light of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s previous comments on bitcoin. In 2017, Dimon famously bashed the currency as a “fraud” and said he expected that global governments would take action against crypto.The partnership isn’t JPMorgan’s first foray into digital currency, though. In 2019, the bank introduced its own version, JPM Coin. Each coin represented one dollar stored in the bank and could be used to more quickly settle transactions between members.

While the move isn’t JPMorgan’s first experiment with digital currency, it is a sign that traditional financial institutions may be getting more comfortable with the idea of trading in crypto. Large banks have traditionally been fierce critics of cryptocurrency.

Concerns about the inefficiency of blockchain and the potential environmental impact of bitcoin may be enough to dissuade broader adoption. After all, bitcoin miners use up the same amount of energy as 6.8 million average U.S. households.

However, investors seem like they are becoming more interested in crypto. According to the Wall Street Journal, “average daily trading volume this year of CME’s bitcoin futures contract has risen 43%” compared to last year. Other crypto vehicles, like Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, have also seen similar upticks in trading volume.

Even if traditional financial institutions shy away from full crypto adoption, cryptocurrency banks in the U.S. may still become a possibility over the next few years. In June, Former Wall Street trader Caitlin Long secured $5 million in funding for a cryptocurrency bank, Avanti. That gave the institution enough cash to follow through on filing for a charter with the Wyoming Division of Banking. The bank currently plans to open for business in 2021.

Banks Around the World Consider Crypto Service

The trend toward cryptocurrency banking isn’t limited to the U.S. In Germany, more than 40 financial institutions declared their intent to offer crypto services under new legislation. Two of Switzerland’s largest banks have also launched digital asset-based transaction services.

Earlier this year, India’s Supreme Court overturned a Central Bank ruling that prohibited banks from providing services to traders and firms dealing in cryptocurrencies. While it had signaled it would challenge the decision, it instead issued formal guidance giving commercial banks in India the green light on providing banking services.

Following the court’s decision, CoinDCX — India’s largest crypto exchange, which received a major investment from Coinbase in early June — integrated bank account transfers. This allows customers to purchase and trade cryptocurrency using their bank accounts.

However, as in America, trust remains a significant barrier. Even with the prohibition on services for crypto traders lifted, few Indian banks have moved to seriously integrate crypto offerings.

The Future of Cryptocurrency Banks

Despite the major instability caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the cryptocurrency market has managed an impressive rebound and emerged as one of the best-performing asset classes so far.

At the same time, major institutions — including JPMorgan and several European banks — are moving ahead with new plans to offer crypto- and digital asset-based transactions. There’s reason to believe that banks may soon provide financial vehicles that make it easier for investors to purchase and trade bitcoin. It’s hard to know what the future of crypto banking will look like right now. For the moment, it’s all good news in spite of current market disruptions.

Shannon Flynn is a technology and culture writer with two+ years of experience writing about consumer trends and tech news.

https://finovate.com/banking-with-crypto-where-will-it-go-next/

Euromonitor: Consumers don’t trust business to handle data

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/open-bank/euromonitor-consumers-dont-trust-business-to-handle-data/
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Share It seems consumers still haven’t come around to trusting business with their digital security. According to Euromonitor International’s Digital Consumer Survey 2020, which came out this week, just under 30% of consumers agree most companies handle sensitive consumer data responsibly. “With more aspects of consumers’ lives unfolding on digital platforms, security concerns have become …Read More

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Bud launches Open Banking payments product, signs pan-european trial with Blockchain.com

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The Open Banking fintech Bud has launched an Open Banking and PSD2 payment API designed to provide an alternative to card payments and bank transfers.

The new product makes use of Open Banking APIs to allow users to initiate payments directly from their bank account to the recipients – providing a faster and cheaper alternative to existing payment channels without the necessity to share card details with third parties.

Alongside the launch, Bud and Blockchain.com have announced a pan European trial to make the new payment channel available for Blockchain’s customers. The product will allow Blockchain.com’s customers to fund crypto wallets directly from their bank accounts without sharing card details. As the partnership progresses, plans include expansion both in terms of its use within the Blockchain app and its roll out to European customers.

Ed Maslaveckas, Bud’s CEO commented “Payments will be an important part of the puzzle when it comes to realising the value that Open Banking can create. People look at Open Banking and think about aggregation, but in many ways, that’s the least disruptive part of it.

“The value comes when you can understand someone’s financial data and help them to act on the insight. Most of the time that action will result in a payment being made.

“Open banking payments have some amazing benefits for customers – they’re faster, with most UK transactions clearing within minutes, they’re cheaper for clients and removing the need to enter card details means that you don’t have to decide between convenience and security because you never have to enter your card details, the banks handle all the security.” 

Xen Baynham-Herd, Blockchain.com COO commented “Open Banking presents an opportunity to redefine how customers securely link their bank accounts to their service providers by removing friction from the experience. We’re excited to trial Bud’s solution to improve the onboarding experience for our customers in Europe”.

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Uber in talks to buy Postmates for $2.6B: report

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/uber-in-talks-to-buy-postmates-for-26b-report/

Uber Technologies Inc., fresh off losing out on a deal to buy meal delivery platform Grubhub, is now in talks to buy rival delivery service Postmates Inc. for $2.6 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Postmates is widely considered the fourth largest meal delivery platform in the U.S., trailing Grubhub, Uber Eats and DoorDash.

The report said such an agreement, if completed, could be announced as early as next week.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/uber-in-talks-to-buy-postmates-for-26b-report/

Wirecard North America goes on market, while operations allowed to resume in UK

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Wirecard North America officials said the company was looking for a new owner as the multi-billion accounting scandal at the German-based payments firm reverberated across the globe. UK regulators reached agreement to let operations resume there.

Wirecard North America Inc. said that it is seeking new ownership amid the massive accounting scandal surrounding Germany’s Wirecard AG, and said an investment bank is coordinating the sale, while regulators in the U.K. have allowed Wirecard to resume operations in that market.

Wirecard AG has been under a regulatory microscope in recent weeks after more than $2.1 billion went missing and the payments giant was forced to delay financial statements. The company fired CEO Markus Braun who was later arrested by Munich authorities.

Wirecard North America formerly operated as the Citi Prepaid Card Services business until it was sold to Wirecard AG in 2016. Wirecard North America said in a company release that it is a “self-sustaining entity that is substantially autonomous” from Wirecard AG.

“Wirecard North America continues to operate without any disruption to clients and cardholders,” Seth Brennan, managing director at Wirecard North America, said in a company release. “The strong, independent cash flow and financial position of Wirecard North America allow us to operate the business on a completely standalone basis.”

Wirecard said that cardholder and client funds are being held at well capitalized and independent banks in the U.S. and Canada, including Sunrise Banks, Fifth Third Bank and People’s Trust Co.

Meanwhile in the U.K., the Financial Conduct Authority said today that it lifted the freeze it placed on Wirecard’s U.K. operations. Customers of several fintechs, including Curve, Anna Money and Pockit, were temporarily unable to access funds due to the suspension.

“The Wirecard situation is interesting as it exposes how reliant some challenger banks and fintech services are on other fintechs, meaning that if fintechs encounter difficulties this will have knock on effects throughout the ecosystem,” said Nick Maynard, lead analyst at Juniper Research in the U.K. “However this will not have a huge impact going forward.”

“Prior to the fraud, executives generally have pressures to meet capital market expectations and small problems lead the executives to push out into the gray zone,” Bradon Gipper, assistant professor of accounting at Stanford Graduate School of Business, told Mobile Payments Today via email.

Maynard said the Wirecard problem is more of a corporate governance and mismanagement problem rather than an industry wide indicator of the fintech industry as a whole.

i2C Inc., a Redwood City, California-based provider of digital payment and open banking technology, said that it stood ready to assist clients of Wirecard or any other insolvent bank or processor that has been negatively impacted of late.

The company said that it would be able to help Wirecard clients secure new bank sponsors and support a smooth and rapid transition of credit, debit and prepaid card issuer programs to minimize customer disruption.

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/articles/wirecard-north-america-goes-on-market-while-operations-allowed-to-resume-in-uk/

Credorax Partners with Anti-Fraud Solution to Provide Merchants 360° Monitoring

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New collaboration will bolster payment flow protection and reduce fraud, offering merchants 360° monitoring to combat financial crime

Today, licensed bank and smart payments provider Credorax  and risk management platform Feedzai  announced a new partnership to provide Credorax merchants with advanced anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-fraud capabilities, leading to increased payment security, reduced operational costs and an improved customer experience.

The partnership between Credorax and Feedzai first began in 2018, when Credorax elected to combine its merchant acquiring technology and services with Feedzai’s advanced machine learning capabilities to protect its customers from fraud. Since then, Credorax’s merchants have been protected in real-time from threats , while improving the overall customer experience.

“Credorax has a long-standing relationship with Feedzai and we are excited to continue collaborating with a company recognised as best-in-class in the fraud and anti-money laundering market,said Moshe Selfin, Credorax CTO &COO. “With increasing regulation in the payments ecosystem, extending the relationship to help identify and guard against money laundering is a natural step. We’re excited to work with Feedzai to drive innovation in this space.”

Credorax and Feedzai’s platform combines both AML and fraud solutions to add a crucial layer of protection to the payments flow, offering a 360° view to better monitor and combat financial crime. This partnership will allow fraud and compliance teams to share information and eliminate manual checks, thus remaining compliant at lower costs and with fewer resources.

“We are thrilled to strengthen our partnership with Credorax, as they continue to invest in future-proof technology that will protect their customers from fast-evolving threats,” said Richard Harris, EVP of Global Operations at Feedzai. “As more financial institutions move forward in their digital transformation journeys, the adoption of robust, end-to-end systems is increasing.”

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Bank ABC Group enters founding partnership agreement with Bahrain FinTech Bay

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Manama, Bahrain: Bank ABC, MENA’s leading international bank, along with its subsidiaries, the digital, mobile-only, ila Bank, and the MEA region’s leading payment solutions provider and fintech enabler, Arab Financial Services (AFS), enter a founding partnership with Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB). This strategic alliance illustrates Bank ABC and Bahrain FinTech Bay‘s continued commitment to play a pivotal role in the development of the fintech ecosystem in the Kingdom of Bahrain and expedite its transformation into a cashless, digital economy.

As part of the agreement, Bank ABC Group representatives, Dr. Yousif Almas, Group Chief Innovation Officer, Mohamed Al Maraj, ila Bank Bahrain Chief Executive Officer, Amira Ismail, Head of Business Development – Acquiring, AFS, joined BFB’s advisory board to enhance collaboration between the two parties and support BFB’s endeavor to foster innovation and empower fintech start-ups to contribute to the development of the fintech landscape in Bahrain.

This partnership builds on Bank ABC’s commitment to lead the fintech revolution in the MENA region and support local efforts to attract fintechs and entrepreneurs to establish a footing in Bahrain and tap into the vast potential for innovative financial services in the MENA region. The MENA region’s growing youth population, with more than half of its residents under the age of 25, and large underserved blue-collar segments make it an ideal market to deploy inclusive fintech solutions.

On behalf of the Group, Bank ABC Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Yousif Almas, remarked: “At Bank ABC, we are dedicated to cultivating disruptive thinking and innovation in the financial services industry. The current unprecedented pandemic underscores the importance of empowering customers with accessible digital solutions that fulfil their needs and has nudged financial institutions to rethink their offerings. We are delighted to facilitate the industry’s digital transformation through our collaboration with Bahrain FinTech Bay.”

On his part, ila Bank Bahrain CEO, Mohamed Al Maraj, said: “The success of our fast-growing digital, mobile only bank illustrates the strong appetite in the Kingdom of Bahrain for seamless, smart banking solutions that empower customers to take charge of their financial lives.”

“This is further evidenced by the surge in ila’s customer base and transaction volume, which has quadrupled, amid the current social distancing practices. Our partnership with Bahrain FinTech Bay will help us bridge the local community with a global network of fintech enablers and providers, boost efforts to create a vibrant digital economy and promote Bahrain as the region’s leading fintech hub, creating long-lasting positive change for our community,” he added.

Amira Ismail, Head of Business Development – Acquiring, AFS commented on the development: “AFS has been part of the larger regional fintech movement for many years. We are committed to expediting the growth and acceleration of fintech activities across payments ecosystems in Bahrain and beyond. Our innovative merchant acquiring and fintech solutions are game-changing and market leading offerings that support our partners, seamlessly embedding fintech innovation through lifestyle-driven solutions that enhance how we transact.”

Bahrain Fintech Bay Chief Executive Officer, Khalid Danish said: “We are delighted to announce our partnership across the Bank ABC group. Our commitment to enabling innovation within the financial services industry, coupled with our robust network of like-minded partners will further drive our strategic national efforts towards enhancing our digital economy.

During this global health crisis, innovation and ingenuity will be more significant than ever before. Through this collaboration we will support Bank ABC Group’s endeavor to deliver best in class solutions and services to collectively position the Kingdom of Bahrain as the leading FinTech hub in MENA.”

Bank ABC is a leading player in the region’s banking industry, with a presence in 15 countries across five continents. It provides global innovative Wholesale Banking coverage & products that include Corporate & Financial Institutions coverage, Transaction Banking (Trade Finance & Cash Management), Project and Structured finance, Syndications, Treasury and Financial Markets products and Islamic Banking. It also provides retail-banking services through its network of retail banks in Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Brazil.

ila Bank is a digital, mobile only banking entity in Bahrain powered by Bank ABC, MENA’s leading international bank. Aided by Artificial Intelligence and data analytics, the intuitive app is designed to appeal  and serve a wide section of users ranging from millennials and older age groups to blue collar workers. The app’s current offerings include completely digital onboarding, instant virtual card for online transactions, physical debit card, multi-currency account and a current account that offers interest without a minimum balance or tenure. ila app is available for download on Google Play and App stores. For more information, visit https://www.ilabank.com and follow ila Bank on social media @ilabankbhr.

Established in 1984, Arab Financial Services (AFS) is the MEA region’s leading digital payment solutions provider and FinTech enabler. AFS serves over 75 clients across the financial sector in more than 20 countries. A subsidiary of Bank ABC, it is owned by 37 banks and financial institutions and regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain. The company offers innovative and end-to-end payment services and solutions that span card processing, merchant acquiring, FinTech and a state-of-the-art value-added services suite. AFS has offices and data centers in Bahrain, UAE and Oman, and was the first processor in the region to become Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 3.2 certified. Recipient of several global awards, AFS has most recently been recognized as “Best Fintech Solutions Company 2019” and “The Most
Innovative Fintech Solution Provider 2018” at the GCC Enterprise Awards and “Best Payment Service Provider – Bahrain 2017” by Global Banking and Finance Review.

For further information, visit www.afs.com.bh.

Bahrain FinTech Bay is the leading FinTech Hub in the Middle East and aims to further the development, interaction and acceleration of the FinTech ecosystem. Bahrain FinTech Bay incubates impactful and scalable fintech initiatives through innovation labs, acceleration programs, curated activities, educational opportunities and collaborative platforms. Bahrain FinTech Bay partners with governmental bodies, financial institutions, corporates, consultancy firms, universities, associations, venture capital and fintech start-ups to bring the full spectrum of market participants together.

PRESS RELEASE

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IronFX to Launch a Virtual Fintech Accelerator Program

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Forex leader IronFX is creating a virtual accelerator program to support FinTech ventures aimed at minimising the trading knowledge gap.

The virtual accelerator program will specifically focus on FinTech enterprises providing training and knowledge solutions to forex traders. It will be open to pre-seed, seed, and round A startups worldwide, giving remote guidance and services to support ventures in development and go-to-market.

The program will comprise of an incubator (dedicated to early-stage startups) and an accelerator (designed for more mature FinTech companies). It will focus on key growth issues such as R&D, business development, marketing, and sales, and will connect founders with mentors and leading entrepreneurs. Ventures applying to the programs will get an opportunity to take part in a 3-month journey and enjoy essential support and resources to establish their business and grow internationally. The company reports advanced negotiations with a first venture are already in place and are expected to be completed soon. The technology will be implemented into IronFX’s platforms as a proof of concept.

The launch is a part of an ongoing effort on IronFX’s part to locate and obtain innovative tech with significant market potential, including a soon-to-be-opened R&D centre in Mumbai. Their strategy is two-fold: Firstly, the company will combine new solutions within its offering for beta testing. Then, the same technologies will be used to develop products for leading financial service providers worldwide. With the new accelerator, IronFX is issuing a call to arms – encouraging entrepreneurs and innovators to create unique, state-of-the-art FinTech solutions that will help people around the world improve their financial status in the following years.

IronFX, one of the largest Forex service providers around the world, announced the accelerator launch six months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown circumstances around the world drive innovators to action and unique solutions and ideas are popping up everywhere. IronFX takes advantage of that movement to create state-of-the-art training and knowledge solutions that will teach traders all about what is day trading and make forex trading safer and easier. While Forex companies are often branded as a scam, IronFX is proving it is worthy of trust by actively working to ensure traders are as informed as possible.

“We tried to recognise the barriers people face when they want to start trading,” says Spyros Teocallis, Chief Customer Officer at IronFX. “People want to know exactly what is day trading before they start trading. We get that – people are trading their money here, and we want them to be as safe as possible. We know there is a forex trading stigma in society. IronFX is doing its best to prove it is not a scam and giving people as much information as possible to earn traders’ trust”.

https://thefintechtimes.com/ironfx-to-launch-a-virtual-fintech-accelerator-program/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ironfx-to-launch-a-virtual-fintech-accelerator-program

The Finovate Fintech Halftime Review eMagazine

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What a week it was for the first Finovate Fintech Halftime Review; we heard from experts across the fintech spectrum, covering LendingTech, PayTech, FraudTech, BankingTech and WealthTech.

Missed some of the live sessions? Want to dig a little deeper and get the Finovate Analyst view of the first half of 2020? Well look no further, as the Finovate Fintech Halftime Review eMagazine brings all the content from the week together in one place.

Download it now and have all the latest insights at your fingertips.

https://finovate.com/the-finovate-fintech-halftime-review-emagazine/