Payroll API provider Atomic raises $22 million in series A funding round

Atomic, a payroll integration API provider, has raised $22 million in a series A funding round announced Tuesday. The round was led by Core Innovation Capital and saw participation from Portag3 Ventures and Greylock Capital, both existing investors in Atomic. The funds will be used toward scaling Atomic’s offerings and onboarding new staff. Atomic’s APIs […]

A brief guide to implementing digital card programs

Financial service providers continue to rethink and evolve delivery models to accommodate today’s need for robust self-service financial experiences. Where the “personal touch” was once prized among all other interactions, today’s focus is on social distancing recommendations and remote capabilities — pushing banks to identify and deliver digitally-based capabilities that the times, and consumers, now require.

Fortunately, the new expectations for self-service and delivery play into financial institutions’ strengths – and credit and debit programs are leading the way. Beginning with card controls and alerts, card issuers and payments providers have already successfully deployed an array of consumer tools that are finding marketplace success.

Mandar Mangalvedhekar, Vice President, Product Strategy, Card Services at Fiserv

Now, banks should be planning for a second wave of tools with additional capabilities that provide consumers with a rich and reliable financial services experience by speeding transaction flows, providing analytic insights, and improving the safety and security of payments. Consumers will be empowered to control their credit and debit cards, clearly see their spending and use their cards more easily.  And your financial institution will see deeper user loyalty that results in higher card usage and lower service costs.

In a phrase — meet your consumers where they are: on their devices.

Here’s a short guide to developing and implementing a digital card program that will satisfy your consumers’ needs and address your program goals:

  1. Integrate your credit and debit card management capabilities into your banking app to provide a seamless experience for your users — no extra apps should be required.
  2. Identify robust capabilities that span the entire cardholder lifecycle. Cardholders should be able to:
    • Get a card quickly through fast onboarding and digital issuance
    • Use cards easily with integrated digital wallet features
    • Understand spending through quick, easy-to-read insights that drive card choice
    • Manage cards on-the go with integrated self-servicing options
    • Engage in real-time with alerts and controls to build loyalty and connect with your financial institution wherever they go
  3. Never give up, never surrender! Continue to innovate by creating additional card experiences for cardholders that are seamless, efficient, and engaging.

Credit and debit cards are financial necessities. Offering your digitally-minded consumers and cardholders self-service tools and capabilities for their debit and credit card programs provides safe and convenient servicing and immediate access to financial information – whenever and wherever they transact.

Delivering the card payments journey consumers want will elevate your brand and help you successfully compete in your market. Although large financial institutions may have significant technology research and development budgets, smaller institutions can overcome resource challenges by working with reputable providers that have demonstrated the ability to supply and support digital card management capabilities that only the major banks and tech giants may offer.

– Mandar Mangalvedhekar, Vice President, Product Strategy, Card Services at Fiserv

Learn more with CardHub from Fiserv

Women in Fintech: Smashing the Glass Ceiling with Sokin, Team8, 3S Money, Ribbon, and Monneo

This October at The Fintech Times we are championing the fantastic females in the fintech industry. Around 30% of the fintech workforce are women, and we want to spotlight those who have not only made it to the top, but those who have overcome hurdles, bulldozing a path for the women to follow.

Here we hear from Vivienne Hsu, Rakefet Russak Aminoach, Nabilah Hussain, Sarah Walker, and Lili Metodieva as they share with us how they smashed the glass ceiling.

Vivienne Hsu, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, Sokin

Vivienne Hsu

Vivienne HsuWhen I first became MD, I was approached by women who told me that having a young female in a senior position was inspiring and changed how they saw the business. I became someone others could relate to in a role they could now see themselves having in the future. Before this, I never thought of myself as an example or a point of reference in someone else’s career. Yes, it was daunting at first, but I turned away from the inevitable imposter syndrome women commonly experience and forced myself to trust my own ability to do the job I was appointed to do. I was tenacious and quickly learned from my successes and failures, and I soon realised regardless of how we see ourselves, other people see you in a completely different way.

I feel fortunate to be in the position I am in as working in finance as a woman in a senior position while being 40 and below and a minority is still very unusual, even though there is no denying diversity builds stronger businesses. Therefore, smashing the glass ceiling is less about you as an individual and much more about the people around you.

Having a glass ceiling to break is a privilege. To break it, we must first have access to such opportunities and be given the space to showcase our skills. Unfortunately, for women and minorities, this isn’t always the case and the most marginalised are left behind. What may be a glass ceiling for some is also a steel roof for others. It is our responsibility to ensure that the next generation of leaders has the tools available to fulfill their potential.

Rakefet Russak Aminoach, Managing Partner, Team8

Rakefet Russak Aminoach

Rakefet Russak AminoachI would like to think the theme of smashing the glass ceiling has defined my career trajectory to date. My story gives expression to a strong desire to push boundaries and challenge convention.

I remember those early days, in conference halls, surrounded by bankers who looked at me somewhat quizzically, doubting my strong belief in technology as a disruptor to our industry. I was energised by this potential, and found myself acting as an agent of change, while promoting the ‘digital imperative’. 

During my tenure as President & CEO of Leumi, Israel’s largest banking group (by total assets), I had the opportunity to work with some truly brilliant colleagues and grew to understand how legacy infrastructure was placing a glass ceiling over the industry’s future prospects. Throughout my career and even as a CEO, I was never afraid to immerse myself in new domains and seek counsel mainly from tech leaders on topics that were foreign to me. Successful transformations do not happen if ego gets in the way.

Under my stewardship, Leumi became Israel’s leading bank in profits, market cap and innovation – spurred by my ambition to instill a culture of innovation within the bank. While broadcasting my vision at international forums, many financial and business leaders questioned the viability of such lofty objectives. Even within the organisation, there were many difficult and frank conversations with my colleagues in order to convince them of the merit of adopting a digital-first strategy.

This war of attrition underscored the magnitude of my ambitions, and the resistance I would be facing along the way. Undeterred, I took a bet on myself (and my career) as an outspoken critic of conservative incumbent culture and processes, and went on to launch LeumiTech – Leumi’s Hi-Tech arm – and PEPPER – Israel’s first neobank. Not allowing the industry’s risk-averse DNA to halt my progress, I set about digitally rewiring a static and archaic infrastructure – smashing the double-pane glass ceiling in the process.

I’ve been humbled by media recognition of my contributions to banking innovation, and had the distinct pleasure of speaking at a range of global CEO forums. Reflecting back on my career, the transformation I led at Leumi is parallel to the profound professional transformation in my own career. From a background in accounting and banking, I embarked on my own digital pivot, and today I am a Managing Partner at Team8, a leading Israeli venture group, where we build cutting-edge fintech companies that aim to redefine the global landscape of banking and financial services. 

Nabilah Hussain, Head of Financial Crime, 3S Money

Nabilah Hussain, Head of Financial Crime, 3S Money

Nabilah Hussain, Head of Financial Crime, 3S MoneyBeing raised along with my three sisters in a single-parent household by my mother, I always had a shining example of a strong, independent, hardworking and resourceful role model.

My mother always instilled in my sisters and I the value of working hard, being ambitious and striving to overcome adversity in all its forms. Today, as four successful professional women, my sisters and I credit much of our success to the values and work ethics that were instilled in us from a young age. These values have in turn shaped my motivations and ambitions, and ultimately how I work and interact with others in my personal and professional life. I’m now an advocate for female empowerment and leadership as I’ve experienced first-hand, the positive influence strong female leadership and coaching can have on others. I strive to channel these values in my professional life by coaching and mentoring others to share my experiences and help my peers to grow.

As the Head of Financial Crime at 3S Money, I’m empowered to know that I have the ability to lead by example and influence a wider culture that strongly advocates and encourages inclusivity, diversity, and growth.

Sarah Walker, VP of Engineering, Ribbon

Sarah Walker

Sarah WalkerAt the start of my career, I realised that I would be one of the only women in the room. As technology jobs pushed offshores during the early days of the Internet, many women around me gravitated towards business and sales roles. During this time, I shifted my focus to product roles. However, I missed the engineering side of things. When I got back into my role as an engineer, I started building my network. I actively engaged in women tech leadership groups and events to further build my circle and realised the need for a women’s network that didn’t yet exist in engineering.

I went on to be part of the founding class of Chief, a private network focused on connecting and supporting women leaders. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to be connected to mentors and leaders who are passionate about giving people the opportunities they’ve earned without discrimination or barriers. I’ve paid it forward during my career; I built leadership teams in previous roles that were at least 50% female, enabling me to train, coach, mentor, and train the female tech leaders of tomorrow. Chief allows me to pay it forward and help other women break the glass ceiling.

In my current role as VP of engineering at Ribbon, I’ve introduced recruiting practices that focus more on people, DEI, and mission-driven traits, on top of technical and professional accomplishments. Through inclusive, mission-driven companies such as these, it’s possible to pass the baton, lift other women and empower them to continue smashing the glass ceiling.

Lili Metodieva, Managing Director, Monneo

Lili Metodieva

Lili MetodievaAs a female MD of a European fintech, I have had my fair share of challenges. Beginning my career more than 15 years ago in eCommerce, I always had to put in extra work to reach the same level as my peers in the industry. It was even less diverse than it is now. That said, even today, representation of women in fintech languishes at around 20% of the workforce – there is still a lot to be done to address this gap.

But being in a minority hasn’t deterred me. If I reflect honestly on how I’ve smashed the glass ceiling, I would say it comes down to three key things: a willingness to learn, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to succeed.

When I first entered the fintech industry I found it tough. No one is taught about fintech in school. In fact, I don’t think the word had even been coined when I was studying. My first major hurdle was to educate myself about the industry. I had to start at the very beginning and learning everything from the ground up.

Importantly, I made a conscious choice that throughout my career, I would not slip into any tokenist role – or accept that I was successful just because I was a minority. I wanted to craft and find my own path throughout my career, by making decisions and taking ownership of my own growth and development, and where I wanted to get to.

Being ambitious and hard-working have been vital to my success.

Sometimes, getting caught up in the day-to-day means there’s little time to see the bigger picture. I have learned that it’s vital to take a step back to review all the hard work you’ve put in, and the achievements that you’ve made over time. This is especially important if you’re self-critical, which I can be!

A key to learning is to celebrate each success and congratulate yourself and those who helped you get there, especially when you overcome a hurdle. Celebrating successes is incredibly important for growth.

Smashing a glass ceiling is not an individual effort – I couldn’t have achieved what I have without the support of others.  That’s why this year’s announcement that Monneo are finalists in three categories at the Payments Awards is such a privilege for me and the team. It demonstrates the power of what can be achieved together, through our joint hard work and commitment to succeed.

  • 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.

Crypto Benefits Made More Accessible Through BVNK, the Digital Asset Financial Services Platform

Digital asset financial services platform, BVNK,  has launched aiming to remove the barriers that prevent fast-growth businesses and financial service providers from realising the benefits of cryptocurrencies. Headquartered in London, BVNK aims to set new standards for digital asset financial services from its European base.

Until now, using cryptocurrency financial services has required an in-depth knowledge of the space and technical expertise. BVNK transforms this experience, making it more accessible so that non-experts can enjoy the benefits of digital asset-based financial services. Customers can manage treasury, payment and investment operations for digital assets from a single account.

BVNK offers four core services to help customers achieve their financial and treasury management goals:

  • The BVNK Business Account which provides a simple and painless ‘Know Your Business’ process for access to GBP/EUR/USD and digital asset wallets. Business customers can manage settlement, exchange and payment from a single account interface, which also hosts the other two flagship products:
  • BVNK Yield, where clients can put their capital to work and earn interest; and
  • BVNK Markets for large volume digital asset trades.
  • There is also BVNK Insights which provides market intelligence for customers to make informed decisions.

BVNK’s partnership model will support organisations such as corporate service providers, wealth managers, fintech firms, and private banks in delivering digital asset financial services to their customers via the BVNK Business Account.

Jesse Hemson-Struthers, BVNK’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “In a world of low interest yields and outdated infrastructure, digital assets are rapidly increasing in appeal. Unsurprisingly, there is a clear appetite among mid-market enterprises for financial services rooted in the world of cryptocurrencies. It will take time however before mainstream banks incorporate digital assets. Meanwhile, existing crypto platforms only serve the extreme ends of the customer spectrum – that is, either small-scale retail customers or multi-million dollar institutional clients. BVNK aims to plug that gap in the mid-market and become the ‘go to’ choice among fast-growth international businesses and partners for digital asset financial services.”

Central to delivering on BVNK’s vision of fostering greater trust is its commitment to transparency, which will steer operations and the provision of information to customers. For instance, BVNK Yield deploys client funds to multiple prime brokers based on a dynamic risk model – which takes into account security, creditworthiness and risk profiles – to optimise the yields on a weekly cycle. BVNK believes that regular reporting on counterparties and exposure is as important as the returns themselves.

In 2017, the founding team of BVNK launched cryptocurrency services provider Coindirect, which has carved out a successful business supporting cross-border foreign exchange, powered by digital assets, in emerging markets. BVNK’s CEO, Jesse Hemson-Struthers, formerly held the same role at Coindirect, where he spotted the market opportunity for the distinct BVNK proposition and a chance to draw on his experience in creating it. The focus for BVNK will be on innovating product features and the underlying technology infrastructure, acquiring operating licences from the relevant authorities, and developing a robust partnership model to successfully onboard financial service providers lacking in crypto expertise.

The BNVK management team brings together a wealth of experience from the cryptocurrency, fintech and traditional finance sectors. Besides Hemson-Struthers, other senior executives have held roles at Ebury,, and BNP Paribas.

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

Know-it: The Real Cost of Late Payments for SME’s in the UK

The turbulence caused by COVID spiralled many SMEs into bankruptcy, and caused many others to face new challenges. One of the most prominent of these is the late payments issue, which has increased by 20% from last year, to £61billion. The digital wave that has swept the world is a step in the right direction to solving this problem but businesses must make this adoption a priority or the SME payments problem won’t go away. 

Gordon Merrylees is the Chief Commercial Officer, Know-it, a cloud-based credit management platform that seamlessly integrates with all leading accountancy packages. Working in the banking industry for such a long time, working closely with SMEs to help them create a successful strategy, Merrylees explains how the late payments problem isn’t just an issue for the individual SME but is causing a larger knock-on affect on the financial industry as a whole:

Gordon Merrylees, Chief Commercial Officer, Know-itGordon Merrylees, Chief Commercial Officer, Know-it
Gordon Merrylees, Chief Commercial Officer, Know-it

Late payments can be debilitating to any small-medium sized enterprise (SME). Over 50,000 cease trading every year due to this issue, resulting in untold damage to the entire UK financial state. SMEs are currently owed £61billion in late payments, a 20% increase compared to this time last year.

As the essence of the UK’s economy – c.6m UK SME’s turnover an estimated at £2.2trillion annually, tackling the issue of late payments will be vital in enabling small businesses to reach their full productive potential and improve not only the growth of their enterprise but the growth of the UK economy.

The full impact of late payments

The European Commission found that in the UK, 30% of businesses indicated that late payment had links to subsequent redundancies, compared to 35% of businesses in Germany; 28% in Spain and 25% in France. Based on the UK’s average salary of £29,600, that unpaid money could pay for businesses to hire more than two million people.

Late payments force many affected businesses to focus on day-to-day activities rather than longer-term plans for growth and expansion. As a result, the longer companies wait for payment, the lower the level of investment they make.

A survey from cashflow management system Penny Freedom has revealed that two thirds of the six million SMEs in the UK have at least one late payment on their books, with an average value of £15,370.

A month delay in being paid would reduce capital spend by 1.2%, and could lead to reduced profitability for as long as five years thereafter. There is clear evidence that late payment is linked to an inability to access affordable finance, due for example to an inability to demonstrate to lenders a clear cash flow.

A recent exclusive survey with YouGov to better understand the situation among business-to-business SMEs across the UK, surveying a sample of 500 businesses with up to 49 employees, 68% confirmed they regularly experience late payments. And 62% spend time each week chasing overdue invoices. That equates to four million businesses (and 1.7 million VAT registered businesses) struggling to get paid for products and services they’ve delivered. The time, energy and resources drain that this causes is significant, and the effort could be spent instead growing the business. And there’s no doubt that the pandemic has made this dire situation worse, with increased levels of debt, reduced cashflows and some larger organisations looking to retain cash themselves – even freezing payments for some small suppliers.

It is evident that SME’s must invest in more efficient invoicing processes, such as cloud accounting and automated invoice chasing. Consistent late payers must also appreciate the risk to their operations. Should their suppliers halt trading, as a result, this can present severe challenges in sourcing products and services for their own business, impeding their performance. Ultimately, it is critical to acknowledge that while larger enterprises have the resources to absorb debt, SMEs don’t, and they become the hardest hit as a result.

We are witnessing an increasing inability for SME’s to pay overheads on time, difficulties paying staff salaries and most worryingly, a heavy reliance on invoice financing to inject capital into their businesses. A major concern for small business owners moving forward is that access to finance may become more problematic as we are faced with the financial impacts of the global pandemic.

The past 18 months have been extremely testing for business owners, with more than a third reporting an increase in the time customers take to pay invoices. The impact on those rejected financial loans may have major consequences on continuity as we move forward. The inability to make new hires, expand premises or invest in new technology to streamline processes makes the future for SMEs very challenging.

The data highlights an increasing struggle when it comes to late payments. Despite the government outlining a route post lockdown, many organisations on the receiving end of late payments will struggle to survive after the crisis.

As many as 15% of the UK’s SMEs are rated ‘fragile’ and risk insolvency during the next four years as covid-19 state support schemes are withdrawn, according to research by Euler Hermes.

For now, businesses will need to combat the economic gales that are likely to slow the global recovery whilst simultaneously planning effectively for long-term growth. Supply chain disruption leaves many open to supply shortages and inflation which will limit growth.

Moving forward  

The impact and damage of the issue of late payments goes way beyond the invoice in question. And frankly way beyond the SME in question. And it cannot be overstated how late payments damage the entire business ecosystem.

2022 is going to be a key year to recover and build back stronger, so tackling the endemic issue of late payments should be a business priority. Legislation alone cannot fix it. Businesses must do their bit and technology must be available to make payment as simple as possible. If businesses work together to embrace digital solutions to pay suppliers faster, win back crucial time for SME’s and get the cash they’re owed, it will help tremendously towards the overall recovery and create a more robust and sustainable trading environment for businesses of all sizes, helping them survive and thrive.

Part 2 Ethereum’s big transition to Proof Of Stake

A much heralded part of Ethereum 2.0 is the transition to Proof Of Stake. It may happen during 2021 or 2022.

With Proof Of Stake, users validate transactions based on the number of coins they hold. For example, the more ETH a user has, the more power they possess. This is not mining, it is more like voting shares. Voting eliminates the energy needed for mining and should be faster, so that transactions can be done in under 3 seconds (ie “human real time”, short enough to impact consumer behaviour, as in “did you get my payment”, “wait, OK I see it, thanks”).

Proof Of Stake (POS) appeals to the financial establishment for 4 reasons:

1.Voting with your capital is how financial governance works today.

2. The ROI is easy to figure out; you can deploy capital and calculate yield vs price.

3. POS is easy for regulators; it is simply another way to deploy capital.

4. Taxation is easy to figure out; you can tax it like a dividend or bond yield.

Proof Of Stake will never happen on the Bitcoin Blockchain. Proof Of Work is the proven transaction validation model for Bitcoin, Lightning Network is the scalability solution and if you destroyed the mining business by destroying Proof Of Work, Bitcoin would collapse.

Ethereum has a transition issue with Proof Of Stake. It is an economic incentive issue not a technical issue. If you make money mining ETH using Proof Of Work, are you incentivised to switch to Proof Of Stake voting?

The fact that Ethereum is also working on scaling Proof Of Work using a technology similar to Lightning Network (Raiden) indicates they are hedging their bets.

Some subjects are too complex for our short attention spans, so we do 4 posts one week apart, each one short enough not to lose your attention but in aggregate doing justice to the complexity of the subject. Stay tuned by subscribing.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Some may not be published yet.

Daily Fintech’s original insight is made available to you for US$143 a year (which equates to $2.75 per week). $2.75 buys you a coffee (maybe), or the cost of a week’s subscription to the global Fintech blog – caffeine for the mind that could be worth $ millions.

It’s Time to Watch Some FinovateFall Demos and Chill

Grab the popcorn. It’s time to watch some FinovateFall demos and chill. All 74 of this year’s live demos from FinovateFall 2021 are ready for your viewing pleasure.

Simply check out the demo tab on the Finovate website to browse, find, and watch any of the seven-minute demos from last month’s event for free. Already seen them all? Send a link to a colleague who wasn’t able to make it!

The best way to dive in is to check out the demos that the audience voted as Best of Show. Here’s a list to get you started:







Long Game



Photo by Georgia Vagim on Unsplash

India Credit Card Challenger Start-up Rolls Out a 3-Day Work Week

slice becomes the first company in India to launch a 3-day work week program. Engineers, product managers, and designers under this program will be offered competitive salaries & the flexibility to work from anywhere.

In a move to explore the future of work, slice, India’s credit card challenger startup rolled out a 3-day work week under its “Code in 3” program.

Under the program, slice will hire full-time engineers, product managers, as well as designers to work on the company’s major projects such as decentralized products, stocks and alternative investments, and BNPL. The team will be offered competitive salaries and will have the flexibility to opt for working from anywhere. Even with working hours limited to 20 – 25 hours every week, there will be no cut in employee benefits offered.

Commenting on this unique opportunity, Rajan Bajaj, Founder and CEO, slice, said, “There is a large group of driven and competitive people who are looking to work on projects which interest them. But, find it difficult to balance it with their standard job. slice’s vision is to provide the team with the flexibility and means to innovate. By adopting an agile approach to work we want to eliminate anything that adds no value while avoiding unnecessary bureaucratic reporting.

“This program will not only provide broader exposure to different technologies but also give people a chance to broaden their work portfolios. Our aim is to bring in at least 100 folks in the next 1 year with a projection of hiring 1000 team members over the next 5 years under the program. We have some interesting projects in the pipeline for whoever is up for the challenge”

Currently, slice has 450 employees and is ramping up hiring for the next year. With a product-first approach, slice is gearing up to launch some exciting developments and make financial services even more fun & interactive for millennials and Gen-z.

slice is India’s largest credit card challenger to pay bills, manage expenses, and unlock rewards. The company currently has around 4 million registered members with an average age of 25, making them a market leader in a fast-growing segment.

Blockchain’s Use in Global Trade Finance Supported by BNY Mellon Through the Marco Polo Network

BNY Mellon has joined a consortium working to introduce blockchain technology into international trade finance and digitise how working capital is provided to both suppliers and buyers across the globe.

Through its participation in the Marco Polo Network, BNY Mellon is now able to more efficiently insert liquidity into the international supply chain, providing supply chain finance solutions including both payables financing and receivables discounting to suppliers shipping goods and services to their buyers around the world.

The Marco Polo Network is a consortium of approximately 45 banks that provides an open software platform for trade, payments and working capital financing to banks, corporates and other market participants. It is a cloud-based blockchain-powered network that allows the seamless, secure and fast exchange of trade data assets in a multi-channel environment.

Utilising Marco Polo, BNY Mellon will not only provide financing to suppliers but will also have real-time visibility into trade finance instruments and their status, such as purchase orders and invoices.

Real-time visibility significantly speeds up the trade finance workflow. On the blockchain, the moment that both parties agree that the transaction terms are correct the trade is confirmed in real-time. This means the data in trade documents are checked, matched and confirmed by both parties near instantaneously, enabling the faster delivery of working capital to finance the trade by liquidity providers like BNY Mellon.

Digitisation delivers particularly pronounced efficiencies for large buyers such as big box retailers that may issue tens of thousands of purchase orders each day and that previously had to rely on an antiquated paper and email-based workflow to secure trade financing.

“Blockchain has the potential to transform the trade finance industry by replacing multiple systems with a single shared record through one distributed ledger. As all participants in the transaction will be immediately updated of each development in the trade lifecycle, this enables us to extend working capital more quickly and more securely to clients,” says Joon Kim, Global Head of Trade Finance Product and Portfolio Management in BNY Mellon Treasury Services.

Utilisation of the blockchain reduces the risk that the same trade instruments could be used to secure working capital from multiple liquidity providers. This reduced credit risk increases confidence and the creditworthiness of clients and may translate into a better rate to obtain working capital.

Digitisation and the multi-channel Marco Polo network also opens up the potential for the development of a liquid secondary market in trade finance, in which a trade instrument that is already subject to financing can be sold to an alternative liquidity provider consortium member, freeing up more capacity for additional working capital to be extended.

Finally, the blockchain enables counterparties to more seamlessly monitor whether trades align with their environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles. The Marco Polo network provides users with an independent view into a large number of corporations and applies an ESG score to each company that can enable participants to determine whether a company meets their environmental, social and governance values.

This includes the ability to track the labour conditions for workers within the supply chain, identify whether raw materials were obtained from prohibited areas such as conflict zones and monitor the carbon emissions of vehicles being used to ship orders.

Since the Marco Polo Network operates as an open platform that allows for connections through APIs, the network can accommodate a wide variety of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems that suppliers and buyers across the world may be utilising as part of their trade financing process.

“We are particularly pleased to be a participant in the Marco Polo Network which will enable clients to interact with us and access financing in an open architecture compatible with most major ERP systems,” adds Kim.

Blockchain-based trade finance is just the latest step in BNY Mellon’s drive to expedite the paper-to-digital journey and make payments and trade more efficient for clients. Last month the firm announced that Verizon has become the first client to rollout Real-Time E-Bills and Payments to customers, making it the first US corporate to extend this innovative new technology into the retail consumer space.

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

Women in Fintech: Smashing the Glass Ceiling with Zumo, Oxygen Digicel Group and Urban Jungle

This October at The Fintech Times we are championing the fantastic females in the fintech industry. Around 30% of the fintech workforce are women, and we want to spotlight those who have not only made it to the top, but those who have overcome hurdles, bulldozing a path for the women to follow.

Here we hear from Amelie Arras, Ivy Lu, Adriana Pirela and Helen Hodges as they share with us how they smashed the glass ceiling.

Amelie Arras, Marketing Director, Zumo

Amelie Arras, Marketing Director at ZumoAmelie Arras, Marketing Director at Zumo
Amelie Arras, Marketing Director at Zumo

“I believe that I’ve smashed my own personal glass ceiling by beating that little negative voice in my head to grab opportunities to grow into roles that needed to be filled. That little voice that lacked confidence and was scared to ask for help; scared to even touch the glass, let alone break it.

“Because when I decided to ask for help to grow in my career, that was when I was lucky enough to find so many supportive people to help me with my ambitions. People like Peter Coyle at Ad Astra, who gave me the belief to take on a role that I would have otherwise looked at on paper and believed to be out of my league; Ali Paterson, who gave me a chance to take on the Payments Race; and the leadership team who believe in me to head up the marketing efforts at Zumo.

“My passion and personal mission is to bring fun and accessibility to fintech and crypto. I’ve worked hard to do so, and I’m very proud to have helped thousands of people to start on their own crypto journey. It’s got me recognised in The Fintech Times’ ‘Rising Women in Crypto Power List’, and I was blown away to this year be announced as the ‘Rising Star of the Year’ at the UK Fintech Awards.

“Sometimes you can be your own glass ceiling,  and as such I hope that I can help to inspire a new generation of women to smash through it! My advice to women in the industry is to overcome any fears, go for it, and ask for help along the way when you need it.

“Another issue close to my heart is sustainability; one of the reasons that I joined Zumo is it’s strong desire to be a values and sustainability-driven business. We have partnered with WasteAid and support the decarbonisation of the crypto industry as a signatory of the Crypto Climate Accord. I must therefore give a shout-out to our wonderful environmental advisor Kirsteen Harrison, who is leading the development and implementation of our net zero strategy. I find her hugely inspirational, and would suggest there is a glass ceiling we all need to break through when it comes to taking better care of our planet and protecting it for future generations.”

Ivy Lu, Chief Data Scientist at Oxygen

Ivy Lu, Chief Data Scientist at OxygenIvy Lu, Chief Data Scientist at Oxygen
Ivy Lu, Chief Data Scientist at Oxygen

“I think my role as a female executive in a technology startup in a sector (financial services) and function (engineering and data) that are both woefully behind other industries and functions on inclusivity is proof positive that I have ‘smashed the glass ceiling’, as the saying goes. The path may not always have been easy, no major achievement ever is. I believe strongly in pursuing passions regardless of the challenges in the way. For women in any industry, that is just a fact of life.

“In my current role at Oxygen, I oversee a team responsible for everything related to AI and machine learning. As a member of the founding team and the sole female on the executive committee, I help provide an invaluable perspective and voice to ensure diverse viewpoints are considered to hopefully make it a little easier for the next generation of women leaders. A good of this is in the hiring process at Oxygen. To ensure we attract diverse talent, I helped design our hiring process that ensures our job descriptions did not include biased language, and I am always pushing our team to think about how we can better attract a diverse roster of candidates. Fortunately, our CEO (Hussein Ahmed) and broader executive team are supportive of these efforts and recognise that diversity is a strategic advantage.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t recognise the importance the incredible mentorship I have received along the way has influenced my career and helped lead to my success to date. I have been fortunate to have many strong women leaders in my life, and would not be where I am without them. From advice to encouragement or just being there to push me outside of my comfort zone, I am a strong advocate for finding mentors and importantly paying it forward for the next generation. I believe that leaders are made and not born, and mentorship is a key ingredient in the making of any great leader.

“Giving back to the community is part of my core. I realise no one succeeds alone. Since 2017, I have served as a committee member for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) in the AI and Data Science track. As the world’s largest gathering of women in computing, GHC brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. I really enjoy doing this as it gives me the chance to offer both formal and informal guidance and support to young professionals and women in the fintech industry looking to advance in their careers.”

Adriana Pirela, Chief Marketing Officer at Digicel Group

Adriana Pirela, Chief Marketing Officer at Digicel GroupAdriana Pirela, Chief Marketing Officer at Digicel Group
Adriana Pirela, Chief Marketing Officer at Digicel Group

“I feel that my story is very particular because I had to build a career and a reputation with a combination of characteristics that sometimes do not play in your favour. When I started working, I was in my early 20s, facing a purely English market, with a Venezuelan degree in a foreign country. In other words, I was a young professional immigrant woman who had to start from ground zero in a country that was not hers and in a language, that I did not understand at all. Additionally, I was beginning to work in the Technology industry, which mainly, at that time, was a male-oriented world. Therefore, with every step I made, I felt I was opening doors not only for women but also for immigrants and, especially, for fellow Venezuelans that due to the situation of our country had and have to leave every day and start again as I did.

“I have managed to build a career in a second language, and I have become a true team player to everyone who works with me, from my role in Samsung to the ones performed in BlackBerry and TLC to my current role as a CMO at Digicel Financial Services. The smashing of the glassing ceiling has occurred when the people you work with look over the fundamental characteristics that traditionally have been perceived as negative, to see the infinite value you bring to the table as an outstanding employee.”

Helen Hodges, Chief of Staff and Operations at Urban JungleHelen Hodges, Chief of Staff and Operations at Urban Jungle
Helen Hodges, Chief of Staff and Operations at Urban Jungle

Helen Hodges, Chief of Staff and Operations at Urban Jungle 

“I actually think I’ve been incredibly lucky as I’ve felt very little direct resistance to my career progression – at least so far.  I benefited a lot from enjoying learning and growing up in an environment where education was highly valued, and my education and early career in particular were in environments where the best answers were what was important, not who came up with them. That’s an ethos we also encourage and keep to at Urban Jungle. 

“Probably the biggest challenge I had personally was having the confidence to have an opinion (that was often different) and the skills to make it heard in what could be loud, brash environments. This can be a stereotypically female challenge in a workplace, but a lot of the feedback and suggestions I got early on weren’t that helpful for me – essentially to ‘be more male’ in how I did things, and this didn’t sit well with me. A particularly transformational manager helped me find a coach who helped me work out where my confidence came from and how to bring that to my communicating style, which was much more powerful for me. 

“One of the things I credit the most with helping me get to where I am today is that I’ve had some excellent managers and mentors – male and female – from whom I’ve learnt a huge amount. It’s often said that men approach networking and asking for help or advice differently to women, so I’ve also done quite a lot of thinking about what my version of that looks like. I also think it’s important to pay it forward on this one, and mentor and coach other women who are at early stages in their careers – we think this is important at Urban Jungle as well, and assign everyone a mentor alongside their line managers to help them think about their potential career opportunities and development. 

“One of the driving factors for me in my career is to have a positive impact – for the customers we support through our business, and for the team that we bring in and develop. I’m not interested in playing the game the old way, but more interested in reinventing the game – including definitions of success and bringing different ways of thinking about things to the table (think Jacinta Ardern vs Margaret Thatcher) – which is also very much in line with Urban Jungle’s overall philosophy; to keep getting better and take responsibility for making it that way to build fairer world.”   

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

Neobanks, and Investment Platforms Stepping Into Crypto – Should Crypto Exchanges Be Concerned?

Despite regulatory scrutiny and uncertainty, when it comes to cryptocurrencies, one thing is clear: they are continuing to enter the mainstream. In the past year, nations like El Salvador have made Bitcoin legal tender, while a range of big banks and fintechs have entered into the space offering users access to a selection of cryptos to keep up with demand and ultimately stay competitive. The list, which includes established payments firms like PayPal, CashApp, Square; banking apps like MoneyLion, N26 and Revolut and evolving investment platforms, raises an important question: are crypto exchanges losing their niche and should they be concerned? 

To fully understand why these platforms have moved on from their initial scepticism, it’s important to look at how investing has changed, and who is responsible it  Due to the pandemic, younger, tech savvy individuals working from home, spending more time online, and flush with stimulus money found solace in investing. As a generation known for not accepting things as they are, simply because it’s how they’ve always been, they relentlessly refused to approach investing in the “traditional way.” 

These digital natives leaned into social media, memes, community, creativity, and pushed Wall Street to the brink in the process. The result: a rising class of new retail investors, assets valued by their social currency and utility i.e. meme stocks and overall massive growth in crypto. Now two years into the pandemic, individuals can get rewarded in Bitcoin for purchasing burritos and Reddit is an indicator of potential stock performance. Taking a step back, the result of these trends raises a number of questions about the future of investing.   

Are meme stocks a better investment than traditional ones?

In early 2021, Reddit users battled with Wall Street by skyrocketing GameStop’s stock share. This along with the rise in meme stocks show that Wall Street is no longer dictating what is worth investing in and what isn’t anymore. Many argued the power was moving into the hands of the people. In reality, a new approach to valuation is rising, one that’s based on the social worth of a company versus traditional notions of profitability. It also poses challenges for investment platforms to predict and plan for rises in trading volume, a main example being the multiple outages faced by Robinhood during the GameStop frenzy. Regardless, of the true value, meme stocks change the game for investment platforms.  

Using crypto as a means of staying competitive

Despite heavy regulatory scrutiny in the US,, which began as a social trading app for stocks, is now launching a crypto offering. The platform will soon support trades in bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, ethereum classic, dogecoin, litecoin, stellar, zcash, cardano and dash., despite being a smaller company than paytechs, neobanks and established crypto exchanges, has tailored to a growing, young demographic looking to trade in meme stocks.

Why do this? Freddie Evans, Sales Trader at UK based digital asset broker GlobalBlock said, “Traditional investment platforms have been slow to incorporate digital assets, as a result they have lost potential clients as people are increasingly looking to benefit from the expanding crypto markets. With the asset class being so successful, it is only natural that trading platforms will provide some crypto trading capacity.”

Public offers zero-commission stock trading and has an added social media component that could leverage the emerging meme stock-fuelled retail investment frenzy:

  •   Shiba Inu’s price has grown by 256.36% in the last month and by 24,459,593.97% in the last year.
  •   Dogecoin has had a turbulent month, dropping in value slightly, but in the last year, has gone up 8,765.17%.

As Osato Avan-Nomayo pointed out on the CoinTelegraph, “Public’s foray into the crypto space could be part of the company’s plans to rival major stock trading platform Robinhood.” With previously solely traditional stock trading platforms moving into the digital, companies like Public must do so to remain competitive or risk getting left behind.

Whilst Public’s announcement challenges Robinhood, Robinhood’s latest news challenges the established crypto exchanges, as it recently revealed it will be testing and eventually implementing crypto wallets for its users to trade with other wallets. Users had previously been able to buy and sell a few cryptocurrencies including Dogecoin and Bitcoin, but had been unable to send those coins to external wallets or receive them from elsewhere.

The move will open Robinhood up to many of the opportunities in the crypto space that rivals like Coinbase have been able to capitalise on. It simultaneously pushed the company into an area with even more regulatory obscurity.

But what has caused this growth and should crypto exchanges be concerned and threatened by these announcements?

Dave Abner, Global Head of Business Development at Gemini told The Fintech Times, “Every company should have a digital asset strategy so it’s not a surprise to us that neobanks and investment platforms are providing access to select crypto services. We see opportunities to partner with them to provide crypto investment solutions to their customers through white labelling and API integrations.” 

Voyager‘s CEO, Steve Ehrlich said, “Crypto-first platforms know what customers want when it comes to crypto. We have crypto experts building out our products, as well as comprehensive resources to help customers on a journey that many are just embarking on for the first time. We don’t consider crypto to just be an ‘add-on’ service–there is no simple translation from a regular banking or investment platform to a crypto platform. They operate very differently. So if customers are interested in crypto services, they will turn to a platform that specialises in it. You can look at it this way: if a customer is looking for electronics, they’ll likely find better services and products at a dedicated electronics store, versus a general superstore with an electronics section.”

The emergence of crypto amongst neobanks

The talk of CBDCs and the establishment of a fiat digital currency in multiple countries has likely influenced global neobanks to look towards a crypto option as more people have become aware of digital currencies. El Salvador has taken a huge leap in crypto adoption by passing a law making it legal tender, which will likely influence other countries to follow suit. With many global banks focusing their sights on crypto, many neobanks and financial platforms are making similar moves.  

US based MoneyLion has announced it is adding crypto trading to its all-in-one financial services app, joining the ranks of N26, the German headquartered neobank, and Volt, the Australian neobank, and larger corporations like Citi and HSBC

The 8-year-old fintech company, which plans to go public later this month on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker ML, will introduce buying and selling capabilities for bitcoin and ether at its Investor Conference on Monday morning, CEO Dee Choubey told CNBC.

Choubey called the initial development “the beginning of the education process” for its consumers during the “early innings of DeFi” and talked about the potential to explore different yield products, crypto payment applications and NFT marketplaces down the road.

“It’s a very important first step if we think that the future of fintech is DeFi,” he said. “We will have created a segment of the population and have exposed them to DeFi, so when it becomes more ubiquitous, they’re fully prepared to take advantage of it.”

Freddie Evans gave his views on the attitude shift towards crypto saying, “The increase in neobanks adopting crypto has come as crypto popularity surges in the UK, with more than 2.3 million owning crypto in the UK and over 200 million worldwide. Neobanks have been at the forefront in changing the way retail banks operate, constantly looking to take a competitive edge, and crypto is a service that people are increasingly demanding. One reason people are investing in crypto is that returns on cash savings are low, and inflation diminishes the purchasing power of their savings. Also, neobanks have a history of struggling to generate profits; crypto might be their solution to turning into profitable businesses through charging for their services.”

Chris Kline, Co-Founder and COO of Bitcoin IRA added, “Everybody has realised that neobanking is the future, not just for younger generations, but older generations looking for simplicity and access. Old banking institutions, once thought of as “too big to fail”, are now in a new competitive landscape.”

Maurizio Raffone Chief Financial Officer at Credify Pte. Ltd. said, “Neobanks are born from a need to provide easy payment solutions for people who are looking for flexible and cheap banking solutions.”

Explaining how investing in a neobank would differ from a crypto exchange, Raffone said, “Neobanks’ typical client may not be a savvy crypto investor but is interested in having some exposure to the asset class and may not be bothered about NFTs, altcoins or stablecoins and so just having some degree of exposure to BTC or ETH would suffice. On the other hand, crypto exchanges do not really focus on providing any traditional financial service support but do generally provide a greater investment choice and with more sophisticated investment techniques.” 

An anomaly or necessary requirement?

The cryptocurrency hype train is not going to come to a stop anytime soon. With countries’ governments now discussing the potential of a digital currency, more and more people are going to become digitally aware. What does that mean for banking and financial institutions? It means that they must have some form of crypto or digital currency feature. Companies that do not adjust to tailor to this digital change will get left behind as both younger and older generations are becoming digitally aware (as can be seen in neobanking customer demographics) and in a world where customers expect the best level of personalisation, not having a crypto option when that is what the customer wants, is a recipe for failure. 

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

RAKBANK Launches New Companion App ‘Firefly’

RAKBANK has recently announced that it has partnered with Mastercard, a leading technology company in the global payments industry to launch firefly – a first of its kind companion app for the RAKBANK Emirates Skywards World Elite Mastercard Credit Card.

With the firefly app, customers will never miss out on what matters to them. The app brings customers bespoke experiences and real-time offers that best suit their interests and lifestyle at home and abroad so they can make the most of their card benefits.

Customers can enjoy the seamless experience offered by the app right from the simplified onboarding process using the card scanner within the app. Built on a custom-developed recommendation engine, the app offers a fully personalized experience based on user preferences and behaviour. The content is then curated & tailored to customers’ interests contextual to their location through relevant messages thereby enriching their experience at home or while they travel.

“Never have the fear of missing out with the firefly app,” said Banali Malhotra, Director of Marketing, RAKBANK. “Thanks to firefly, not only will customers have all their Card benefits under their fingertips but also they will be able to access discounts of 50% and above over 5000+ offers across categories like Food, Health & Wellness, Travel & Entertainment, Shopping, Services, Jewellery & Watches and more. They can explore what is trending within the app and search and save great deals by their location. It is a true companion app for the discerning traveller.”

“Over the years, the Bank managed to transform the concept of credit card programs in the UAE through a host of unique features and now we are offering firefly – an ingenious API integrated Smart App to our cardholders,” said Peter England, RAKBANK CEO. “Staying true to the Bank’s prominent position as an innovative and dynamic player, our partnership with Mastercard and their Fintech Startup Nuclei will help us enhance our customers travel experience at every stage through this companion App as well as access all the lifestyle offers and benefits of their RAKBANK Emirates Skywards World Elite Mastercard Credit Card at home and abroad.”

“As the UAE continues to make strides in its digitization agenda, consumers are constantly looking for personalized and tailored experiences that offer them the best in rewards. In response to these evolving trends, Mastercard and RAKBANK are launching a one-of-its-kind offering in the market that will transform the payment experience for our cardholders. The new app will serve as a one-stop-shop that enables access to curated offers and tailored rewards uniquely suited to individual preferences. We are proud to work with our long-time strategic partners in making everyday spends for consumers safe, secure and rewarding,” said Girish Nanda, Country Manager, UAE and Pakistan, Mastercard.

RAKBANK, also known as The National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (P.S.C), is one of the UAE’s most dynamic financial institutions. Founded in 1976, it underwent a major transformation in 2001 as it rebranded into RAKBANK and shifted its focus from purely corporate to retail and small business banking. In addition to offering a wide range of Personal Banking services, the Bank increased its lending in the traditional SME, Commercial, and Corporate segments in recent years. The Bank also offers Islamic Banking solutions, via RAKislamic, throughout its 27 branches and its Telephone and Digital Banking channels.

Esker Launches Esker Pay Platform to Assist Businesses With Cashflow Management

In an attempt to help businesses unlock cashflow, Esker has announced the launch of a comprehensive set of integrated payment capabilities and strategic fintech partnerships in the newly-released Esker Pay platform. 

Those businesses that choose to utilise Esker Pay will benefit from more efficient cashflow management by the elimination of manual, complex, and ineffective processes for both accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP).

Fully integrated with Esker’s ‘Procure-to-Pay’ and ‘Order-to-Cash’ solution suites, Esker Pay’s end-to-end payment automation reinforces supply chains by providing early payment discounts and supply chain financing options, while also addressing fraud prevention, late fees, and negatively impacted cashflow concerns.

“The axiom that ‘cash is king’ has only been reinforced over the last 18 months. When times are tough for many businesses, getting paid and paying suppliers on time can be a tall order,” said Catherine Dupuy-Holdich, Product Manager at Esker. “With Esker Pay, we offer the technologies and partnerships to facilitate and expedite payments.”

Esker enables companies to achieve true positive-sum growth at a time when business success depends on it by facilitating an ecosystem where companies, customers, and suppliers create value together — instead of at each other’s expense. For suppliers, prompt payment from customers results in secured cashflow. And for customers, paying suppliers and maintaining good relationships is key, as onboarding new ones can be costly and risky.

Through partnerships with leading fintech companies like Stripe, Pytheas Capital Advisors, Payroc, and SlimPay, Esker Pay is capable of offering a range of payment capabilities, including domestic and international payments, supplier payment automation, supply chain financing, dynamic discounting, integrated payment methods, factoring, early payment discounts, and payment information verification.

Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO, EskerJean-Michel Bérard, CEO, Esker
Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO, Esker

“And this is just the beginning,” concluded Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO at Esker. “We will continue to enrich Esker Pay through technology developments and future partnerships to further optimize customer and supplier B2B payments, reduce risk exposure, and improve back-office efficiency.”

  • 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.

Industrial IoT’s Integration With Digital Twin Tech Will See the Market Grow To $1.5bn by 2026

According to a recent study from market research firm Graphical Research, the North America digital twin market size is poised to expand at substantial CAGR during the forecast period. North America digital twin industry forecast is likely to witness a spiraling demand from multiple industrial sectors through the next five years. The development of cutting-edge technologies has ushered in automation and hyper-automation trends. As such, the emergence of several smart factories across North America is one of the primary growth drivers of the market for digital twins.

Industrial internet of Things (IIoT) is being adopted in integration with digital twin technology for designing complex architecture and gaining insights from the historical data leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This can address the limitations associated with previous models.

By 2026, the North America digital twin market is expected to be worth $1.5billion, accelerated by the fast-paced digitalisation across automotive, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. These industries have been leveraging IIoT sensors across a host of applications due to their cost-effectivity and high efficiency. The deployment of connected devices across smart factories and other commercial spaces has been fulfilling the need for predictive analytics and real-time monitoring.

na digital twin market graph

na digital twin market graph

The aerospace and defense sector in digital twin industry has been deploying this technology at a robust pace in the recent times. The segment is expected to grow at more than 30% CAGR through 2026, thanks to the deployment of digital twins by the military organisations in the region. For example, digital twinning is being used for designing and prototyping aircrafts by the US Air Force. During March 2021, an online event hosted by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) operated digital twins for maintaining the confidentiality of the new proprietary designs introduced by vendors.

Such networked weapon systems are likely to play a crucial role in envisioning a connected military system, whereby digital twin market outlook is certain to benefit.  The move toward a technologically advanced military will create increasing scope for proliferation of digital twin market in North America. Faster, more convenient, and easier sharing of data alongside enhanced communication will be offered by the digital twin technology.

Moreover, the technology can diagnose errors and faulty equipment in real time, providing predictive maintenance to prevent failures, thereby accelerating product efficiency. Creation of a digital twin of an aircraft by airline companies helps them to minimise maintenance costs, enhance reliability, and optimise the overall operational performance.

The manufacturing segment is registering a high rate of deployment amidst industry 4.0 and represented more than 25% of the total North America digital twin market share during 2019. The segment is expected to soar through 2026 as digital twins can assist discrete manufacturing with the aim to extend equipment lifespan, at the same time reducing operational costs. The digital twin of the manufactured product is fed with the complete data pertaining to the product lifecycle, thereby enhancing the performance of simulation tests.

In the light of industry 4.0 initiatives, the delivery of optimised and data-driven performances will be an indispensable necessity. As covid-19 is still acting as a major determinant across manufacturing facilities, large-scale supply-chain disruptions that have been occurring since last year need to be addressed. This technology can adequately prevent production line disruptions and promote the production plans efficiently.

As such, North America digital twin market outlook is certain to see considerable growth through 2026. Some leading digital twin companies in North America include Ansys, Inc., ABB Group, General Electric Company, SAP SE, Dassault Systems, Autodesk, Microsoft Corporation, Bentley Systems, Accenture Plc, Bosch Rexroth AG, AVEVA, Inc., and Schneider Electric, Inc.

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

Repair Outlet Publishes The State of App Security Report

A recent study by phone refurbishers Repair Outlet has uncovered the hidden cost of finance app hacking – up to £1M per month.

A 2017 study found that there were over 2,200 attempted cyber attacks every day, boiling down to about 1 every 39 seconds. Given how much cybercrime has expanded since then, it’s probably safe to say this figure is now much higher.

With most of our data being held online, from intimate details shared on social media meant only for our followers’ eyes to highly sensitive bank details we can access using face ID, our lives are ever more vulnerable to break-in.

According to Action Fraud, reported social media and email hacking costs UK citizens £2.6m a year, or an estimated £186 per hack. This is mainly through fraud due to access to personal information, phishing and even ransom.

This means unreported app hacking could be costing the UK as much as £19m every year, with the global cost potentially reaching over £202m yearly.

Facebook is the most likely app to be hacked, assumedly due to its high volume of users. The potential global monthly cost of Facebook hacking is over £7.5m, far overshadowing the potential £1.6m a month lost in the UK on apps overall.

In addition to the potential monetary cost of hacking, malware infections can sometime result in the need for mobile phone repair or replacement, which can push the cost of the infection up even higher.

Globally, social media hacks are searched over 53,000 times a month, followed by streaming services at 17,900 per month and messaging services with 11,500 searches a month.

Internationally, finance apps are hacked an estimated 5,700 times a month, with PayPal (3,300) Cashapp (1,200) and Venmo (1,000) suffering the most.

When comparing banking apps in the UK, Santander is the most vulnerable with 40 searches per month, followed by HSBC, Nationwide and Monzo with 30 monthly searches each.

However, considering Facebook accounts are hacked up to 3,300 times monthly in the UK, banking apps can still be considered fairly safe.

Most common app hacks

1. Operating system vulnerabilities.

    • Operating system vulnerabilities occur in two ways: your apps are out of date or the vulnerabilities are built-in. To avoid the first, it’s a good idea to keep all your apps updated regularly so any vulnerabilities identified can be patched properly before hackers can exploit them. This is especially important for second-hand and refurbished phones as many manufacturers stop providing security updates to their older models, so owners need to be particularly vigilant.
    • The second is the responsibility of the app creators, which is why it’s advised you only download apps from trusted sources and do your research first if in doubt. However, a recent study found that apps on the Google play store have an average of 39 security vulnerabilities each, including popular banking and payment apps.

2. Phishing emails/texts

    • Often, scammers will send texts or emails pretending to be from the security team at apps like Facebook, Google and YouTube. These emails or texts are used to convince you to give away your login details so the hacker can then access your apps.
    • In addition to losing access to your apps, this can cause further security vulnerabilities as many people reuse passwords and letting your login details for one account fall into the hands of a hacker could lead to more break-ins elsewhere.
    • The best way to avoid this is to only answer emails and texts from trusted senders and never tap links from these senders. If you need to, copy and paste the URL or search for the security access via a search engine for precaution.

3. Malware

  • Most commonly, insecure or untrustworthy apps are the cause of malware finding its way onto your phone. Hackers place malware in the code of their apps to be downloaded to your phone along with the app, thus allowing them access to the data on your phone.
  • Malware can be hard to detect as it typically doesn’t cause notifications or alerts but can be dangerous if it provides the hackers with surveillance over how you use other apps on your phone. You may find that your phone is more sluggish when opening apps or using the internet or your data is drained faster than usual.
  • The best way to avoid malware is to only download trustworthy apps or download a cybersecurity app for your phone to do regular checks for harmful code.

Women in Fintech: Greatest Achievements with Goodbox, Pensionbee, TomoCredit, Ontology and LXME

This October at The Fintech Times we are championing the fantastic females in the fintech industry. Around 30% of the fintech workforce are women, and we want to spotlight those who have not only made it to the top, but those who have overcome hurdles, bulldozing a path for the women to follow.

Here we hear from Francesca Hodgeson, Romina Savova, Kristy Kim, Gloria Wu and Priti Rathi Gupta as they share with us their greatest achievement.

Francesca Hodgeson, Co-founder and COO at Goodbox

Francesca Hodgson, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, GoodBoxFrancesca Hodgson, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, GoodBox
Francesca Hodgson, Co-Founder and COO, GoodBox

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to launch my own business but asides my family, certainly a standout moment for me was being awarded a scholarship to the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School where I am currently completing my Executive MBA. I am also very proud of GoodBox and the team who are processing an average of 500 donations an hour for incredible UK charities…just proof that small change can make real change.”

Romina Savova, Founder and CEO at PensionBee

Romina Savova, Founder and CEO, PensionBeeRomina Savova, Founder and CEO, PensionBee
Romina Savova, Founder and CEO, PensionBee

“My greatest achievement happened in April this year – when PensionBee joined the High Growth Segment of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. Our plan had always been to list in London at the right time for us, and having grown rapidly since we first launched, becoming a public company was the natural next step in our development.

We knew this transition would enable us to access capital so we could further develop our customer-focused proposition and extend our reach to millions of consumers across the UK, whilst continuing to use our voice to make positive changes in the pensions industry.

Our IPO marked the culmination of seven years of hard work, and is testament to the dedication the PensionBee team shows to helping our customers each and every day. It was particularly exciting to take customers with us on our journey and we were thrilled that so many wanted to take part in this phase of our growth by applying for shares in our customer offer.”

Kristy Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of TomoCredit

Kristy Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of TomoCreditKristy Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of TomoCredit
Kristy Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of TomoCredit

“My greatest achievement has been building this company with a community of amazing, dedicated, diverse people. I started TomoCredit back in 2019. It was just me and a crazy idea. Now, the team is 30 members who truly love their job and the mission of the company. Looking at their dedication to Tomo’s cause fills me with such pride.

In addition, the diversity of our team stands out. The group is a mix of diverse people from different walks of life; from 18 year olds to 65 year olds, and many different nationalities. Our differences make our team stronger as we are able to understand different types of customers, motivations and build an inclusive product because of this diversity of thought. Our product “TomoCredit Card” is built to help young people gain access to credit easily, and many people on the team were part of the 30mm in the U.S. population that lacked credit history and were denied access to credit. That experience, and motivation, fills me with pride.

I have been mindful about hiring diverse talent from the beginning. For example, half of our senior executive team members are female and people of colour. This helps us build a great work culture that is encouraging everyone to reach their full potential without bias.

Therefore, the team that is building this company is what I view as my greatest achievement, and everyday I am grateful that we were able to build a great company and community together.

Gloria Wu, Chief of Ecosystem Partnerships at Ontology

Gloria Wu, Chief of Ecosystem Partnerships at Ontology

“At Ontology, I have been encouraged to speak publicly and participate in various industry events, which has been a great learning experience and personal achievement. Last year, I had the pleasure to speak at the Blockchain For Europe Summit where I was involved in a panel discussion moderated by Eva Kaili MEP entitled “The Ultimate Impact of Blockchain”. It was a fantastic learning experience and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to voice my perspective on the future of decentralized identity and blockchain as a whole, along with many industry leaders. More recently, I gave a presentation at the European Identity and Cloud Conference on the rise of an identity-native Web3 world. 

“I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been afforded at Ontology and am very glad to be representing women in a more male-dominated industry. Whilst I recognise that there are barriers to entry in the blockchain industry, access to information and developments are publicly available online, which is beginning to spark real change. The free flow of information, irrespective of people’s genders, enables anyone, anywhere to get involved in the blockchain sphere. Blockchain and crypto are founded on egalitarian principles and I think, for the most part, blockchain enthusiasts are happy to help and encourage people who are new to the space. Women should get involved in this thriving industry which has been so fascinating to be a part of over the last years.”

Priti Rathi Gupta, founder of LXME

Priti Rathi Gupta, founder of LXME

“Through my career spanning over two decades in providing financial solutions to clients, I witnessed the deep chasm between the percentage of men and the percentage of women taking charge of their financial decisions. As a woman, this learning came as a deeply disturbing reality. Watching financial advisors and firms turn a blind eye to the elephant in the room worried me. Nobody was taking up the challenge of financial education to encourage women to invest and the world of finance for women grew further away, surmounting as a hurdle to any that tried to face it.

“So, at 47, I decided to break this barrier and set up LXME. 

“My decision to be a founder at this age was questioned by many. Doubts were raised about the challenges of setting up a business and I was reminded time and again of how difficult it would be to adapt to the fast-paced digital world.

“These questions didn’t hold me back. I believed in the right purpose, channelled my passion aided with the right background to start a platform to enable women to invest. I am driven towards LXME because I truly have faith in its power to actually change the world. It is this faith that guided me towards taking everything I had learned from my life experiences and put it all together to build LXME.

“LXME is the only platform in India that not only provides a safe community for women to talk about all money matters, but also provides a transactional platform for them to start investing and financial planning.

“We have impacted over 65,000 women in the past year with our online sessions on money management! With a sizable number of women doing the entire journey from learning to investing, LXME has validated its value proposition. I now have visibility of the impact that LXME can create for women in India and someday globally. This is my greatest achievement: Building what is now India’s 1st Financial Platform for Women- LXME.”

  • 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.

Clearbank Launches Brand New Multi-Currency Solution

ClearBank, the cloud-based clearing bank, has announced the launch of a new multi-currency solution, which will reduce friction for fintechs and financial institutions that offer cross-border payments and FX capabilities.

ClearBank’s API-driven technology and Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) capabilities have already created seamless payment solutions in Sterling, for use in partnerships with the Department for Work and Pensions and PayPoint, Tide and other multi-national brands, so the expansion into multi-currency and FX is a natural and pertinent progression for the clearing bank.

VertoFX, a B2B currency exchange marketplace and payments platform, is the first to use ClearBank’s multi-currency product.

This new offering allows users to transact internationally at a reduced cost and with the greatest ease, connecting UK and European SMEs with a multi-currency bank account and user-friendly FX solutions. The technology can be integrated into platforms that currently have a multi-currency offering, to enhance the service and better serve customers.

In response to a post-pandemic period of increased e-commerce, cryptocurrency use, remittances and international travel, the demand for multi-currency capabilities has skyrocketed and fintechs have felt the pressure to offer such capabilities to their customers. As a result, ClearBank has created its API-driven solution to improve customer experience, simplify operations and give fintechs greater control and visibility over the systems.

An additional driving force behind ClearBank’s decision to develop the multi-currency offering was the monopoly among providers that existed in the market, resulting in a lack of choice for fintechs wanting to enable their customers to transact internationally with ease. In addition, ClearBank’s offering addresses some common issues with incumbent multi-currency offerings, such as high costs, slow back-office and front-end technology and processes, difficulty in implementation and scalability, poor customer experience and difficulty in navigating slow interfaces and payment processes.

“We’re delighted to be beginning our journey towards ensuring seamless cross-border payment solutions and to have VertoFX as our first multi-currency customer,” says Charles McManus, CEO at ClearBank. “Our contribution to the payments landscape in Sterling has already been incredibly positive and influential, and we’re confident our new, multi-currency offering can continue this notion and meet the demands of the next generation of consumers and businesses and simplify FX.”

“Fintechs and other financial institutions have traditionally faced too many barriers to entry when it comes to offering multi-currency capabilities, with high initial costs and transaction fees being the most impactful. Today, we are proud to announce a fairer way for businesses to enable cross-border transactions.”

“Over the past year, we have successfully offered our customers Sterling accounts through our partnership with ClearBank and are glad to once again partner with them to launch full-fledged multi-currency accounts to help power the global ambitions of our customers,” says Ola Oyetayo, Co-Founder and CEO VertoFX.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore Introduces COSMIC To Protect FIs From Financial Criminals

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced that it will introduce a digital platform and enabling regulatory framework for financial institutions (FIs) to share with one another relevant information on customers and transactions to prevent money laundering (ML), terrorism financing (TF) and proliferation financing (PF).

A common challenge that FIs in most jurisdictions face is that they are unable to warn one another about unusual activity in customers’ accounts. This gap is frequently exploited by financial criminals to make illicit transactions through a web of entities with accounts in different FIs, such that each FI on its own does not have sufficient information to detect these transactions in a timely manner.

The new digital platform, named COSMIC, for “Collaborative Sharing of ML/TF Information and Cases”, will enable FIs to securely share information on customers or transactions, where they cross material risk thresholds. Such information sharing will help FIs identify and disrupt illicit networks, thus helping to safeguard the Singapore financial centre.

The COSMIC platform is co-created by MAS and six major commercial banks in Singapore, namely, DBS, OCBC, UOB, SCB, Citibank and HSBC. It will have strong security features to prevent unauthorised access to information, and will be operated by MAS. MAS will provide in legislation that this information sharing by FIs is permitted only for the purpose of combating ML, TF and PF. MAS will also require all COSMIC participants to implement robust measures to safeguard against unauthorised use and disclosure of COSMIC information. MAS will supervise FIs for compliance with these requirements and take action against errant FIs.

While some other countries have introduced arrangements for information sharing among FIs, the COSMIC platform will be the first centralised platform where information is shared in a structured format that allows for seamless integration with data analytics tools. This will help FIs collaborate productively and at scale. COSMIC’s regulatory framework will also be unique in clearly specifying the types of information to be shared, and the circumstances under which information sharing will be permitted or mandated. MAS will use the information from COSMIC in its risk surveillance to detect illicit networks operating in the financial system and to target these activities for timely supervisory intervention.

MAS plans to launch the COSMIC platform in the first half of 2023. COSMIC will initially focus on three key financial crime risks in commercial banking, namely, abuse of shell companies, misuse of trade finance for illicit purposes, and PF. The six banks involved in COSMIC’s development, which are leading players in commercial banking, will participate and be permitted to share information in COSMIC during this initial phase. MAS plans to progressively extend COSMIC’s coverage to more FIs and focus areas and make some aspects of sharing mandatory.

Ms Loo Siew Yee, Assistant Managing Director (Policy, Payments and Financial Crime), said “COSMIC will significantly enhance our financial institutions’ ability to detect and curb suspicious activity, while minimising the impact on legitimate actors. The information-sharing framework is designed to target serious criminal behaviours and allow FIs to more quickly detect the bad actors to purge and deter them. It will strengthen Singapore’s position as a trusted financial centre and place to do business, where FIs can better serve the vast majority of legitimate customers.”

MAS seeks feedback on the proposed legislative framework for COSMIC, as well as the platform’s features. MAS invites interested parties to submit their comments on the proposals and legislative amendments, outlined in the consultation paper at the link here by 1 November 2021.

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

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