Could Bitcoin on DeFi displace banks? Yes.

https://dailyfintech.com/2020/04/06/could-bitcoin-on-defi-displace-banks-yes/
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tbtc_bridgeDecentralized Finance (DeFi) is building a new financial system. The DeFi movement is picking up steam. DeFi has been successful in remittances, loans, stable coins, and other core elements of the fiat world. With a little over a year under its belt, DeFi hit a major milestone a couple of months ago, with more than $1 billion in value locked in the DeFi markets. Bitcoin (BTC) dominates the cryptocurrency market, its 8x bigger than the Ethereum, the second cryptocurrency by market cap, but Bitcoin doesn’t have Ethereum’s sophisticated on-chain lending, derivatives, trading capabilities . While there are already several centralized BTC lending platforms like BlockFi/Nexo/Celsius. Bitcoin DeFi has been a dream for Bitcoiners. Maybe the dream is over and new tBTC project will bring Bitcoin to the DeFi world. Maybe it will do a lot more than that!

Bitcoin could greatly transform DeFi and that is exactly what the team behind the Keep protocol understands. They recently raised $7.7 million, led by Paradigm Capital and other companies including Fenbushi Capital and Collaborative Funds, to launch a trustless platform for creating Bitcoin-backed tBTC tokens, on Ethereum. The tBTC platform extends on multiple concepts like Multisig custody, SPV, and MakerDAO’s bonding system to build a decentralized Bitcoin peg, better than anything else we’ve already seen.

The tBTC token is an ERC-20 token fully backed by BTC that allows people to safely use BTC on the Ethereum blockchain. The tBTC is a 1:1 Bitcoin-backed ERC-20 token. This means that if you have 1 tBTC, you can redeem it for 1 BTC. The new tBTC token combines the strengths of both chains, and offers BTC holders a way to spend their BTC on Ethereum.

To spend Bitcoin, users have to deposit BTC into a threshold signature contract. Once the deposit has been made, the “signers” submit a proof of deposit to the Ethereum network, and then a tBTC token is created and transferred to the BTC holder’s Ethereum (ETH) wallet.

To process transactions, tBTC uses a system of “signers”. Signers operate in groups of three, reducing risk and eliminating trusted middlemen, to ensure transaction safely and transparency. All three signers must approve a transaction. The network incentivizes signers for their role, with a micro fee of 20 basis points (bps) for every tBTC “minted” in exchange for a BTC.

But, Bitcoin on Ethereum is nothing new.

In the past we’ve seen other Ethereum-based tokens pegged to Bitcoin, the most notable being wBTC, an ERC-20 token created by BitGo. tBTC is unique from its competitors, because it offers a redemption feature for Bitcoin, something not offered by other projects.

What impact will a Bitcoin pegged token on DeFi have on crypto and the world?

DeFi scales with Ethereum, but imagine what will happen once DeFi has access to Bitcoin’s liquidity. Ethereum is the home for protocols, like MakerDAO, Compound, and Uniswap. Bitcoin’s hard money features make it fantastic for collateral. Using BTC within these protocols will instantaneously bring more liquidity and let Bitcoin holders access a variety of new services.

Bitcoin is synonymous with crypto. When people thing of Bitcoin they think of crypto and vice versa. With Bitcoin being a strong store of value, it will become far more easier for non-crypto holders to join crypto and earn interest with their Bitcoins or get a loan.

What does that mean? For starters, the price of BTC will go up, sky high!

Being able to use Bitcoins for more things, beyond speculation, will increase demand for BTC and as a consequence its price. It will also limit its supply. Circulating Bitcoins will become harder to find, since people will have the option to keep them locked and make passive returns.

With the Bitcoin’s halving approaching and Ethereum 2.0 being deployed, the value of Bitcoin will rise and Ethereum’s use will grow exponentially.

But what this really means is that Bitcoin on DeFi can potentially displace the existing financial systems. By the time we recover from the coronavirus, we will be able to opt-out of the existing financial system and find the liquidity, cash flow, loans and everything else we’ve come to expect from banks, from the crypto world.

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com.

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https://dailyfintech.com/2020/04/06/could-bitcoin-on-defi-displace-banks-yes/

Fintech in Extraordinary Times: Leadership and the Importance of Productivity

https://finovate.com/fintech-in-extraordinary-times-leadership-and-the-importance-of-productivity/
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With a global pandemic reshaping the way we live and work, Finovate VP Greg Palmer and his Finovate Podcast turned to two of our industry’s most insightful observers this week to help put the current challenges to fintech in context.

Ron Shevlin, Managing Director of Fintech Research at Cornerstone Advisors, is one of the world’s top fintech influencers. Author of the book Smarter Bank and a columnist for Forbes, he has provided keynotes and moderated panels at industry events including FinovateFall.

On the challenges facing business leaders during the COVID crisis

We’re wrestling, all of us, with three major concerns: our physical health, our mental health, and our financial health. And if you’re an executive at a fintech company, a bank, a credit union, whatever it might be, you’re wrestling with those things in multiple dimensions: your personal physical, financial, and mental health; your family’s physical, financial, and mental health, your employees’ three areas of health and your customers’. You add that up and it’s pretty daunting …

Listen to Greg’s full 20 minute conversation with Ron Shevlin.


Alyson Clarke is a Principal Analyst with Forrester Research. Among our Analyst All-Stars at FinovateFall 2019 last year, she is a specialist in digital business transformation, creating digital and customer “obsessed” cultures, and digital strategy and innovation.

On how a likely post-COVID-19 recession will affect fintechs and financial services firms

I think we’re clearly going to see fintech funding slow – especially for new or less established startups. In fact, I think it will slow across the board from VCs to corporate funding. I think that will be some of the downside for the fintechs.

In terms of financial services and banks, they’re going to do what they naturally do and that’s focus on cost-cutting and making the operations more efficient. Sadly, some of that focus will be on automation and things like that for the sake of reducing headcount. The problem with that is that they really need to be focused on productivity, not just cost-cutting, because (managing) recessions is about preparing for the upturn.

Listen to Greg’s full 15-minute conversation with Alyson Clarke.

And be sure to check out the all the interviews from the Finovate Podcast.


Here is the latest news from our Finovate alums.

  • Microsoft and Plaid collaborate to enable people to import bank and credit card account data into a new PFM solution, Money in Excel.
  • Newly-rebranded Transact Bank (formerly Colorado National Bank) to deploy core banking technology from Fiserv.
  • Vymo introduces new Work from Home solution to help agents and relationship managers work remotely.
  • Insuritas partners with Indiana-based Security Federal Savings Bank.
  • Tradeshift launches Tradeshift Engage to foster digital collaboration between suppliers and buyers.
  • Signifyd releases COVID-19 Business Continuity Package to help ecommerce businesses during the pandemic.
  • NYMBUS launches SmartLenders program to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
  • Dwolla appoints Brady Harris as CEO.
  • iProov releases new Android SDK with user experience improvements, easier integration, and performance enhancements.
  • Breach Clarity to waive fees for six months during COVID-19 crisis.
  • PayActiv partners with Paychex to give businesses the ability to grant their workers immediate access to earned wages.
  • Onfido, Admiral Markets, and GetID collaborate to drive omnichannel identity verification in Estonia.
  • Jack Henry’s lending suite now supports Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Finovate Alumni Features and Profiles

Teslar Teams Up with Liberty National Bank to Boost Commercial Lending – The Oklahoma-based bank will use Teslar’s technology to boost productivity, increase transparency, and streamline its commercial lending process.

IdentityMind Global Acquired by Acuant – The deal offers Acuant access to IdentityMind’s digital identity product, a SaaS platform that builds, maintains, and analyzes digital identities and helps companies perform risk-based authentication, regulatory identification, and detect and prevent synthetic and stolen identities.

Vymo Offers Work From Home for Sales ProfessionalsVymo, the company whose intelligent sales assistant makes life easier for on-the-go sales pros, has unveiled a new enhancement to help sales teams at this time when customer engagement is even more challenging. 

Azimo Partners with Siam Commercial Bank – SCB clients will benefit from Azimo’s digital money transfer program that uses RippleNet, a blockchain-based money transfer service. Using RippleNet, Azimo will be able to instantly deliver payments from Europe to SCB client accounts.

CRIF to Acquire Strands – The union will bring Strands’ personal financial management and business financial management solutions to CRIF’s client base that includes 6,300 banks, 55,000 businesses, and 310,000 consumers across 50 countries.

Ocrolus’ Nicole Newlin On Digitization, Visualization, and the Age of Partnerships – We caught up with Nicole Newlin, VP of Solutions for Ocrolus, to talk about how the company leverages artificial intelligence to automate critical business tasks like underwriting for lenders.

EVO Payments Raises $150 Million to Help Manage COVID-19 Crisis – Merchant acquirer EVO Payments, the parent company of EVO Snap, has secured $150 million in cash to help fortify the company’s balance sheet, retire debt, and provide funding for future investment opportunities during the COVID-19 crisis.

How Lending-as-a-Service Can Impact Small Businesses in Need – One of the brutal facts of the COVID-19 outbreak is that it will be difficult for small businesses to survive. The self-distancing and shelter-in-place orders, while temporary, are taxing for already cash-strapped merchants.

Plaid to Power Microsoft’s New PFM Tool – Further proving that every company is a fintech company, Plaid has formed a partnership with Microsoft.

More Than $1.3 Billion Raised by 13 Alums in Q1 of 2020 – Finovate alums raised more than $1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2020, matching their best, first quarter performance to date from two years ago. 

https://finovate.com/fintech-in-extraordinary-times-leadership-and-the-importance-of-productivity/

Looking Forward to Fintech this Fall

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Finovate events have always been celebrations. Celebrations of innovation, celebrations of technology, celebrations of industry. But this spring was not a time for celebration, and our thoughts are with every single person and company impacted throughout the community.

As heard from our followers and in news recently, we are turning a corner and seeing the light. The fall season has always been a big time for product launches, and these will be more important now than ever as companies reemerge. And that’s something to celebrate.  

This fall for the first time, Finovate hits both coasts: FinovateFall in September in New York and FinovateWest (formerly FinovateSpring) in November in San Francisco. And we’re accepting applications from companies interested in demoing their technology at each.

Showcasing products and solutions – not just talking about them – is the best way to do business. It allows 1,000+ potential buyers, partners and investors to see how your technology works and how it can benefit them. Not convinced? Hear from some of our alums:

It’s one of the leading fintech conferences around the world, so there’s no better place to launch a product. With any conference, it’s about the return on investment — you never know if you’ll meet one person of five, but we’ve already met 10 potential partners that I’m really excited to work with.

Dana Budzyn, CEO & Founder, UBDI

It’s been successful here! We’ve already had around 30 to 40 people visit our booth and 15 requests from people saying, “Can you come and show us your technology?”

Ned Phillips, CEO & Founder, Bambu

I think we’ll be here every year – we met 90% of our clients at Finovate. We meet our clients; we meet our prospects. If you’re a bank or fintech and want to know about the trends and get a sneak peek into the future, this is the place.

Uday Akkaraju, CEO, Bond.AI

Finovate is the best place for our startup to get exposure to potential clients and investors, all under one roof!

Emil Tarazi, Chief Data Scientist & Founder, ETFLogic

Finovate is a great way to meet the right people at the right organizations! It was really exciting to have them approach us after seeing our demonstration on stage!

Mark Friedenthal, CEO & Founder, Tolerisk

For more information on demoing this fall, visit the FinovateFall and FinovateWest websites. Hope to see you apply!

https://finovate.com/looking-forward-to-fintech-this-fall/

Free solution launched to ramp up remote fundraising for charities

https://thefintechtimes.com/free-solution-launched-to-ramp-up-remote-fundraising-for-charities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=free-solution-launched-to-ramp-up-remote-fundraising-for-charities
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To help the charity sector and brands tackle the estimated £4.3bn of income loss which is expected over the coming 12 weeksThyngs – the physical-digital payment platform – has partnered with Charities Trust to help the charity sector by enabling any brand to raise funds via their own physical products & services. 

This anticipated hit comes as a direct result from Coronavirus (COVID-19) social distancing measures which are impacting crucial revenue streams that come from methods of fundraising that require some degree of social interaction, from collection tins at shop tills, to buckets held by volunteers outside supermarkets.

The Thyngs and Charities Trust partnership will make it easier for consumers to donate from home using frictionless, smartphone-enabled adjustments to packaging and products which will enable the collection of mobile payments and support for charities closest to their hearts. The Thyngs’ technology solution turns any physical branded object into a point of sale – in minutes/hours – using smart ‘tap and go’ technology such as QR codes, Near Field Communication (NFC) and Apple Pay.  This is an engaging and unique solution that is quick and cost-effective for businesses to set up, and easy for consumers to use and engage with, without needing an app.

Dr Neil Garner, Founder and CEO at Thyngs, said:

We’re entering a really difficult time for everyone, but for charities especially. We were shocked to hear the level of impact that charities may face and the charities that we work closely with have echoed this concern. This is why we are putting in our greatest efforts to ensure we help, alongside the Charities Trust.”

Fundraising events are being cancelled across the country, and many are choosing to give to food banks rather than make cash donations. The partnership between Thyngs and Charities Trust will allow vital fundraising efforts to continue, and ensure that businesses can still reach those who need their help whilst being able to give back to a selected charity. By introducing new, innovative, and engaging ways to show support through non face-to-face methods and at-home fundraising, charities will be able to feel at ease both now and in the future.

Through the Thyngs platform, businesses will be able to create their own fundraising campaign ideas for over 18,000 charities using physical products, packaging, TV advertising, leaflets and more, without the need for interpersonal interaction.

“Thyngs was founded to support charities, and we’re working tirelessly to find new ways for them to get the donations they need that will help them survive the strengthened cashless society along with the uncontrollable hurdles, like now, in the future,continues Dr. Garner. 

Euan Imrie Chief Operating Officer at Charities Trust, adds: 

“At a time when all charities are facing unparalleled challenges to keep funds flowing in to maintain their charitable activities, we are pleased to be working alongside Thyngs, making the best use of current payment/donation technology to provide whatever assistance we can.”

In practice, the partnership will mean that:

  • A business or fundraiser will sign up with Thyngs to raise funds for any Charity of their choice.
  • The business will get a pack of interactive images with unique QR codes for consumer engagement. These images can be applied to products, packaging, deliveries, magazines or signage to create branded donation points.
  • As an option, brands can also include NFC so consumers can just tap their phone on a sticker to interact.
  • Consumers simply tap or scan the image on the product using their smartphone to find out more about the cause & donate via Apple Pay, Google Pay or card in less than 30 seconds.
  • Charities Trust will use their existing service & network to distribute funds and claim Gift Aid on behalf of the Charity
  • Thyngs and Charities Trust will also be working with the larger corporates to ensure they have full visibility of their company fundraising, giving them access to a full suite of tools to maximise both engagement and donations.

The solution ensures that those who want to raise money have the absolute best tools available to them to drive success.

For more information about Thyngs, visit https://thyngs.net/

For more information about Charities Trust, visit https://charitiestrust.org/

https://thefintechtimes.com/free-solution-launched-to-ramp-up-remote-fundraising-for-charities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=free-solution-launched-to-ramp-up-remote-fundraising-for-charities

TFT Webinar – Can Fintechs save the UK economy by funding small businesses?

https://thefintechtimes.com/tft-webinar-can-fintechs-save-the-uk-economy-by-funding-small-businesses/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tft-webinar-can-fintechs-save-the-uk-economy-by-funding-small-businesses
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Join our expert panel of CEO’s from leading fintech companies, to discuss what the lending landscape looks like at the moment, where can fintechs help government distribution of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) and where the future of lending maybe.

Speakers
Katrin Herrling, CEO and Co-Founder at FUNDING XCHANGE
Simon Cureton, Chief Executive Officer at Funding Options
Dr. Oliver Prill, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Tide
John Davies, Chairman JLG Group PLC : Chairman at The Association of Alternative Business Finance

Moderated by:
Mark Walker, Editorial Director at The Fintech Times

Register here

https://thefintechtimes.com/tft-webinar-can-fintechs-save-the-uk-economy-by-funding-small-businesses/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tft-webinar-can-fintechs-save-the-uk-economy-by-funding-small-businesses

Korea’s KB Bank uses Trustonic in-app protection to enhance mobile banking experience

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Using Trustonic Application Protection enables KB Bank to dramatically improve the authentication experience for users of its mobile banking app and allow secure high value transactions

Mobile cybersecurity leader, Trustonic, today announces the successful implementation by KB Kookmin Bank (KB Bank) of Trustonic Application Protection (TAP™) to enable a simpler authentication experience for users of its KB Star Banking app. By combining TAP with its new digital authentication certificates, the bank is dramatically simplifying customers’ access to banking services and enabling them to authenticate higher value transfers in-app, without the need for cumbersome user authentication practices like security tokens.

The largest Korean bank by number of mobile users, KB Bank provides online and mobile banking services to over 10 million customers. Trustonic’s mobile application protection is enabling the bank to provide faster, simpler and more secure digital banking services by isolating authentication certificates in the hardware security of today’s smartphones. Since launching in summer 2019, the app has acquired 3 million active users, and adoption among KB Bank customers continues to grow rapidly.

Mr. Han, Senior Executive Vice President, Kookmin Bank commented: “In Korea, users need to install authentication certificates to use mobile banking services. This can be a complex and time-consuming process that often requires revalidation and multiple passwords. With our long-standing partner Trustonic, we are able to vastly improve the in-app user experience and allow our users to authorize much higher value transactions. Some security solutions make you choose between security, user experience and performance but with TAP there’s no compromise.”

Enhancing user experience & enabling high-value transactions with advanced security

Historically, public certificates need to be regularly renewed by the app user, which can be frustrating and time consuming. Now, because the new KB Mobile Certificates have the advanced in-app protection provided by TAP, they do not need to be renewed unless revoked by the customer or unused for one year. This significantly simplifies and enhances the user experience.

High-value in-app payments are now possible because of this advanced protection. KB Bank customers can transfer up to 2 million won (approx. $1,700 US) using their account password, and up to 50 million won (approx. $41,000 US) with a password and six-digit PIN. Amounts between 50 million won and 500 million won (approx. $413,000 US) can be verified by entering their password and PIN before receiving an additional authentication code via an automated phone call.

Improving in-app functionality through trust

The TAP in-app protection platform protects mobile applications by securing sensitive code, data and processes in a highly protected environment. The environment dynamically upgrades over the course of an app’s lifecycle to take advantage of the most advanced hardware and software security technologies available on smartphones. Banking, payment, acceptance and fintech app developers benefit as they can use the TAP SDK to build secure next-generation experiences.

Dion Price, CEO of Trustonic, says: “Korea’s certificate-based authentication infrastructure has historically limited the user experience for mobile banking apps. By making its banking app more seamless and secure with Trustonic’s unique combination of hardware and software in-app protection, KB Bank has vastly improved the user experience. This is a perfect example of how advanced security can enrich apps for end users, which is why TAP is being adopted to protect financial services across payments, banking, fintech and mPOS.”

For more information about how TAP is enhancing both security and user experiences, visit the Trustonic website.

https://thefintechtimes.com/koreas-kb-bank-uses-trustonic-in-app-protection-to-enhance-mobile-banking-experience/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=koreas-kb-bank-uses-trustonic-in-app-protection-to-enhance-mobile-banking-experience

Concertio Raises $4.2M in Seed Funding to Scale Its AIOps Operations

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 Concertio, the leading provider of AI-powered performance optimization software, today announced the closing of its $4.2M Seed Round, led by Differential Ventures. The funds will be used to scale operations of its AIOps Optimizer platform and to further the company’s technology lead in dynamic, continuous, and static optimization.

“We’re entering the era of self-tuning servers, where servers automatically adjust their settings dynamically in real-time according to the workloads that they run,” says Dr. Tomer Morad, co-founder and CEO of Concertio. “Our Optimizer products transform general-purpose systems into high-performant special-purpose systems, thereby boosting performance and slashing infrastructure costs.”

Modern servers employ an ever-growing number of configuration settings. Misconfiguring these settings drastically slows the performance of critical systems and leads to bloated infrastructure environments and cloud spend. Best performance is attained when these settings are tailored to the actual applications that currently run. Optimizing these hundreds of settings, however, is no small feat, as the number of potential configuration combinations grows exponentially. The result is a complex and costly manual tuning process that is challenging to maintain over time, even for experts, as any change in the system, such as a new software version, requires re-tuning.

Concertio has tackled this growing problem with its patented Optimizer products, aimed at addressing the system performance challenges enterprises face, starting from development in the lab all the way to deployment in production. Leveraging machine-learning technology, Concertio Optimizer enhances applications and systems to achieve maximum performance through the optimization of the myriad of configuration settings employed in these complex systems. Concertio Optimizer features dynamic, continuous and static modes of optimization to tackle any parameter and resource tuning challenge enterprises face today.

Concertio Optimizer products are used in a variety of use-cases, including maximizing system performance, reducing IT and cloud costs, Kubernetes resource optimization, minimizing latencies in high-frequency trading platforms, compiler flag mining, database optimization, optimization of CPU and ASIC products’ defaults, maximizing networking bandwidth, maximizing benchmark performance and more. Concertio products deliver out-of-the-box support for configuration parameters in numerous platforms, including Intel CPUs, Linux, Kubernetes, OpenMPI, Hadoop, MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Redis, Java, PHP, NGNIX, Apache Web Server, HHVM, Mellanox NICs, GCC flags, LLVM flags, and more. Concertio features three modes of optimization: agent-based dynamic real-time optimization for use in production servers, continuous optimization where static optimization is implemented within the CI/CD pipeline, and static optimization for use by hardcore performance engineers and IT professionals. Intel, Marvell and Mellanox have each published use-cases with Concertio.

https://thefintechtimes.com/concertio-raises-4-2m-in-seed-funding-to-scale-its-aiops-operations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=concertio-raises-4-2m-in-seed-funding-to-scale-its-aiops-operations

Fintechs launch SBA PPP platforms amid stimulus scramble

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/corp-bank/fintechs-launch-sba-ppp-platforms-amid-stimulus-scramble/
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As banks scramble to stand up digital interfaces and participate in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that launched today, fintech providers are rolling out different technology platforms to help lenders process the flood of small business loan applications. The Payroll Protection Program, a major component of the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” Act, authorizes lenders to provide up to $349 billion in funds to …Read More

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https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/corp-bank/fintechs-launch-sba-ppp-platforms-amid-stimulus-scramble/

Fintechs, lacking guidance, pivot to SBA loans 

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/lending/fintechs-lacking-guidance-pivot-to-sba-loans/
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin last weekend confirmed “any fintech lender” will be authorized to make small business loans as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relieve and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Despite the goal to have the program up and running by today, digital lenders remain uncertain how it will work and how much it …Read More

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https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/lending/fintechs-lacking-guidance-pivot-to-sba-loans/

Lunar’s $22 Million Boosts Series B Funding Total to $50 Million

https://finovate.com/lunars-22-million-boosts-series-b-funding-total-to-50-million/
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Nordic challenger bank Lunar announced a new tranche of funding today, boosting its Series B round. The new $21.6 million (€20 million) installment adds to the $28 million (€26 million) the digital bank disclosed in August of last year.

Today’s investment brings the company’s Series B round to $49.6 million (€46 million) and raises its total funding to $74.7 million. Leading the extension round is Seed Capital, with participation from Greyhound, Socii, Augustinus, and Unity Technologies founder David Helgason.

Lunar’s free bank account includes transfers, payments, debit card, billpay, and access to in-app budgeting tools. The Premium accounts offer a fancier-looking card, three personal accounts, travel insurance, virtual cards, and more at a cost of just under $7 (69 krona) per month. The challenger bank also offers a business bank account for $194 per year that integrates with third-party software providers comes with commercial lending opportunities.

Lunar was founded in 2015 and received its banking license in August of last year from the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority. In all, the company touts 150,000 users. Ken Villum Klausen is founder and CEO.

https://finovate.com/lunars-22-million-boosts-series-b-funding-total-to-50-million/

Weekly Wrap: PPP ramp up dominates the credit industry

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/operations/comp-reg/weekly-wrap-ppp-ramp-up-dominates-the-credit-industry/
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A pedestrian wearing a protective mask walks along a street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., on Thursday, April 2, 2020. A federal judge refused to postpone Wisconsin’s presidential primary on Tuesday, but extended the deadline for absentee voting by a week. Photographer: Thomas Werner/Bloomberg

The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program went live today, and confusion reigned. Despite shelter-in-place mandates for better than 80% of Americans, some banks urged prospective borrowers to come into branches to fill out an application. And although digital applications are sometimes accepted, many FIs are still relying on manual processes and procedures to inbound …Read More

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https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/operations/comp-reg/weekly-wrap-ppp-ramp-up-dominates-the-credit-industry/

Will a Hackathon Help the Fight Against COVID? A Spotlight on Fintech in Asia

https://finovate.com/will-a-hackathon-help-the-fight-against-covid-a-spotlight-on-fintech-in-asia/
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The world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and financial services and fintech companies are no exception. We’ve taken a look at how lenders are working to help small businesses struggling with cash flow challenges, and how firms are offering their services free of charge during the crisis to help businesses continue operating with as little interruption as possible.

Beyond this, a number of institutions around the world have taken more innovative approaches to helping manage the dislocations caused by COVID-19. Stockholm, Sweden-based Swedbank, for example, has supported hackathons in Latvia and Lithuania dedicated toward finding solutions to help businesses and individuals deal with COVID-19 related issues. The firm announced today that it is sponsoring a global hackathon in April, called “The Global Hack” to broaden the effort to get fintechs involved in the effort.

Swedbank is specifically sponsoring the economy track of the hackathon, which Swedbank Head of Digital Banking and IT Lotta Lovén said would help drive innovation in products designed to help keep markets moving.

“We not only dive into topics that will help our customers and industry through these unprecedented times, but the results will also support the local communities and the society as a whole,” Lovén said.

The Global Hack event is also supported by the European Commission, the World Health Organization, The World Economic Forum, and LinkedIn, among others.

The Fintech Times has just published its special edition on Asia – guest edited by The Finanser’s Chris Skinner. And while the timing does not allow for much consideration of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on China’s fintech industry, a handful of articles nevertheless feature worth-reading insights on what that industry might look like on the other side of the current public health crisis.

Foremost among them – and having the most relevance for Western audiences – may be Jim Marous’ article, Tomorrow’s Model for Banking Exists Today. Marous, publisher of The Financial Brand, credits “big data, advanced analytics, modern digital technology and an innovation culture” for what he calls “the spectacular growth of innovative financial services in China.” The fact that this innovation is accompanied by – instead of being ahead of – successful financial inclusion makes the achievements of China’s techfin and fintech enterprises all the more worth learning from.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Payments platform Paysafe launches Paysafecash in Latvia.
  • Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB Bank, announces big data joint venture with telecom Rostelecom.
  • Polish payments processor KIR partners with Danish authentication solutions provider Cryptomathic.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • PayBy, a fintech based in Abu Dhabi, begins mobile payment services in the UAE.
  • Dubai-based Rise, which provides banking services to underbanked migrant workers in the UAE, raises $1.4 million in funding.
  • Mobile banking services provider Khazna secures seed funding in round led by Egyptian VC Algebra Ventures.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Recko, an Indian fintech that leverages AI to reconcile digital transaction plans, raises $6 million in Series A funding.
  • Fortune India looks at the impact of COVID-19 on India’s fintech industry.
  • The case for an “urgent adoption” of digital cash in Pakistan.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Uruguayn-Mexican fintech Mozper, which specializes in helping parents financially educate their children, raises pre-seed investment of $770,000.
  • Mexico-based digital payment processor Kushki locks in Series A funding in round led by DILA Capital.
  • Brazil’s Cora adds cash flow boosting feature to its SME platform that enables customers that are observing quarantines to purchasing vouchers today from their favorite merchant for goods and services to be picked up later.

Asia-Pacific

  • Japanese digital banking startup Kyash raises $45 million in Series C funding.
  • Hong Kong virtual bank Airstar Bank pilots its virtual banking service.
  • Ripple to power cross-border payments for Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African fintech TaxTim teams up with PwC to support expansion to Nigeria.
  • Zeepay Ghana wins approval for mobile money license.
  • Bank of Zimbabwe inks memorandum of agreement with Apollo Fintech to build a gold-based digital currency.

Top image designed by Freepik

https://finovate.com/will-a-hackathon-help-the-fight-against-covid-a-spotlight-on-fintech-in-asia/

FIS leverages lending platform for COVID-19 assistance

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/fis-leverages-lending-platform-for-covid-19-assistance/
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FIS is enabling its Real-Time Lending Platform to enable banks and credit unions to provide loans to merchants and small businesses under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program as part of the The CARES Act. 

The PPP authorizes $349 billion in federal loans to help small businesses and merchants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans can be converted to grants if companies keep workers on their payrolls and use the funds to cover salaries and other critical expenses. 

“As a critical infrastructure provider, FIS is committed to bringing the full force of our scale and resources to keep the global economy running and to assist small businesses, merchants and other clients during this enormously challenging period,” Gary Norcross, chairman, president and CEO of FIS, said in a press release. “I am extremely proud of the work our employees are doing to help our clients, and the industry, are doing to manage through this global crisis and come out stronger on the other side.”

The Real Time Lending Platform is a digital platform designed to help streamline the lending process for clients. 

FIS is also waiving minimum monthly service charges for U.S. and U.K. merchants during the month of April and is offering free virtual terminal access for U.S. merchants and retailers enrolled in the Worldpay from FIS iQ online portal for remote processing. 


Topics: Coronavirus / COVID-19

Companies: FIS, Worldpay, Inc.


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MX study reveals increased mobile banking use amid COVID-19

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/mx-study-reveals-increased-mobile-banking-use-amid-covid-19/
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MX study reveals increased mobile banking use amid COVID-19

MX, a digital transformation platform for banks and credit unions, has released research showing mobile banking engagement rose by 50% since the end of 2019 and that payments on credit card debt decreased by 25% amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Americans are turning to mobile banking as a way to take control of their finances and plan for their economic future,” Ryan Caldwell, founder and CEO of MX, said in a press release. “With increased consumer engagement across mobile banking applications, financial institutions have the responsibility to not only deliver a great user experience, but also to provide meaningful advice and guidance that’s critical to the financial well being of consumers, especially during times of economic uncertainty.”

The survey of 1,000 consumers indicated the following: 

  • More than 70% believe its important to put money away for a rainy day, but less than half of those surveyed save more than 10% of their income. 
  • More than 50% of those surveyed have gone over their monthly budget just by paying major expenses, like rent, mortgage, utilities or auto loan payments

The study also showed that 60% of those surveyed said their main financial institution doesn’t make them financially stronger, but that could change if they moved toward digital banking.


Topics: Mobile Banking, Trends / Statistics


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https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/mx-study-reveals-increased-mobile-banking-use-amid-covid-19/

Publix rolls out contactless pay to all stores

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Publix rolls out contactless pay to all stores

Publix, a Lakeland, Florida-based grocery chain, is rolling out contactless payment to all stores, including its organic GreenWise Market, as part of a strategy to protect customers and store employees from exposure to COVID-19. 

Publix customers can use contactless credit or debit cards, the Publix mobile app and widely used mobile wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, according to a press release.

“In these unprecedented times, we recognize the need to make our customers trips to the stores faster and more efficient,” Todd Jones, CEO of Publix, said in the release. “By expediting this payment option, we will help customers reduce contact with commonly used surfaces like PIN pads.”

The grocer, which has 1,242 stores across the southeast, has taken several other measures to reduce spread, including: 

  • Increased sanitation through regular and frequent cleaning of PIN pads, ATM terminals, door handles, carts and vending machines.
  • Installation of plexiglass shields at cash registers, pharmacies and customer service locations.
  • Reduced store hours for cleaning.
  • Designated shopping hours for customers over age 65.
  • Emergency pandemic pay for full and part-time workers diagnosed, quarantined or caring for COVID-19 people.

Cover image: iStock


Topics: Contactless / NFC, Mobile Apps, Mobile/Digital Wallet, Mobile Payments, POS, Retail

Companies: Samsung, Google Wallet, Apple, Publix


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Innovation Within Financial Services Starts With Data

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In the financial services industry, innovation and disruption in the form of new services like mobile banking and application based finance tools present numerous opportunities for businesses to refocus and reset to gain the upper hand in a highly competitive space. Even bolstered by technology, however, such efforts are met with a number of challenges—especially because enterprises face perennial resource and regulatory constraints.

To remain at the edge of this ever-changing industry, organisations are embracing new types of data and new ways to sift through the data, such as artificial intelligence (AI). According to research conducted by Gartner, 90 percent of all corporate strategies will cite information and analytics as key competencies by the year 2022. From real-time customer feedback found on social media to early indicators of a grounded commercial aircraft through its flight sensors, publicly available information can help financial professionals shed light into deeper corners of their business and form insights that help companies optimise their services and differentiate themselves from their rivals.

Why Artificial Intelligence?

Companies have long looked to publicly available data streams to inform their business decisions, but historically, they have struggled to extract the most relevant nuggets of the ensuing information in a timely fashion. Due to expanding volume and variety of sources of publicly available data, it is impossible for one person or team to sift through potentially billions of daily data points in search of the most important details that could help enterprises make faster and sharper decisions.

This includes early indications of risk to an enterprise. Ability to detect risk can be a major competitive advantage, as it allows organisations to prepare for what’s coming and make smarter choices. Learning early on about breaking news and events, for example, enables senior decision-makers to act upon the information they receive before the original incident turns into a crisis.

Today, missed opportunities are increasingly a thing of the past, thanks in large part to AI.Gartner writesthat data and analytics are likely to become a focal point for businesses, which will layer artificial intelligence onto market and customer information to gain valuable insights. With the help of AI, ingesting and processing digital data becomes a more manageable task. Data in the form of social media, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, weather reports, blogs, and the dark web can lead teams to pursue new avenues of exploration and innovation that can help companies retain a competitive edge.

AI can help financial services companies identify patterns, exceptions, and insights that are relevant to their business. It can alert them to events like tech outages, cyber security incidents, and natural disasters even before broadcasters report this news to the public, so they can understand the scope of the issues that might impact their operations.

Visibility Is Key

Without AI, companies can fall into the trap of having “innovation blind spots” — situations in which they may not be receiving and acting on relevant and high-impact information quickly enough, and therefore can’t readjust and innovate as needed.

Think of market, security, and breaking news visibility as a kind of peripheral vision. It provides a clearer, more comprehensive picture of issues and situations as they unfold. This is especially important to enterprises that operate in numerous geographic regions and time zones. A major event occurring halfway around the world, in the middle of your night — such as a typhoon or other extreme weather event — could affect your business while you’re offline. But deploying an AI system that delivers real-time alerts will help ensure you and your global colleagues are informed of critical developments as they unfold — so that you can respond decisively for the benefit of your business.

Solving Old Problems with New Data

Data analysis is hardly new, but the ways in which public data sources are multiplying, diversifying, and proliferating — and the extent to which companies extract information from them — have improved dramatically. Digital transformation and related analysis strategies present opportunities to solve age-old problems and improve upon outdated practices.

In the ever-evolving financial services landscape, knowledge is the greatest form of power, and crucial to optimising business strategy. Having constant access to the right public data, and the tools to sift through it for relevant information in real time, will empower organisations to drive innovation and enhance their competitive position in their market sector. With real-time alerting, you can ultimately safeguard your business, both now and in the future.

Authored by Jonathan Barrett, SVP EMEA & APAC, Dataminr

https://thefintechtimes.com/innovation-within-financial-services-starts-with-data/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=innovation-within-financial-services-starts-with-data

Xamin Offers Free SOC2 Secure Remote Connectivity During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Managed IT service provider offers technical assistance to help organizations remotely connect their employees during crisis

  Xamin, a leading provider of managed IT services for highly regulated and reputation-sensitive companies, announced today the company is temporarily offering its SOC2 secure remote solution at no cost to help highly regulated and reputation-sensitive companies securely connect their remote workforce.

Due to the influx of people working remotely amidst the coronavirus pandemic, providing a secure and protected network is becoming increasingly important for employers and their employees. In fact, in a recent study, more than 52 percent of employees shared that their workplace has restricted travel and required them to work remotely, according to TechRepublic.

While this unexpected change to a predominately remote workforce can make any company uneasy, Xamin is easing the transition by making its SOC2 secure remote access solution available at no cost to highly regulated and reputation-sensitive companies. The solution helps companies securely connect their workforce from home, making it easy for employees to access their workflows and necessary documents, and it runs out of Xamin’s SOC2 certified datacenter, ensuring all connections are highly secure and void of risk.

The solution provides an encrypted and secure way to remotely access systems that are left in the office. These systems can be accessed from anywhere with a web browser and an internet connection. For more information, contact Jake Charuk, Business Development Coordinator at Xamin, at [email protected] or call him directly at 815-322-5110.

“Although some companies are prepared to handle this pandemic through disaster recovery testing and business continuity planning, we’ve seen others struggling to enact plans to scale-up their remote work infrastructure to handle the massive change in users needing access to remote connectivity,” said Jonathan Smith, CEO of Xamin. “At Xamin, we want to provide technical assistance to companies still looking to securely connect their remote employees, so we are offering our SOC2 secure remote solution at no cost during the COVID-19 crisis. If you need help securing your remote workforce, please reach out, so we can extend our support.”

Additionally, Xamin recently provided tips on how to minimize the attack surface for potential bad actors and malicious software and recommendations for how to secure an organization’s remote workforce during a crisis to help alleviate some of the security concerns. To learn more, visit Xamin’s website.

https://thefintechtimes.com/xamin-offers-free-soc2-secure-remote-connectivity-during-covid-19-pandemic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=xamin-offers-free-soc2-secure-remote-connectivity-during-covid-19-pandemic

Leading tech law firm launches free Covid-19 Toolkit for businesses

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 Kemp Little has launched a free advisory resource to help businesses navigate tax, legal and financial processes thrown into discord by Coronavirus.

The Covid-19 Toolkit gives comprehensive advice on issues such as data protection, corporate governance, IP, contracts and people management for founders, SMEs and big business owners.

Andy Moseby, Corporate Partner at Kemp Little, says:The last few weeks have thrown up a whole host of logistical challenges for businesses as many restructure to accommodate the new normal of home working. With a mass of misinformation in circulation and a lack of clarity in areas like employment law where the goalposts have changed, Kemp Little wants to provide a free, reliable and up-to-date overview of the legal and financial issues many are navigating.”

In recent weeks, Kemp Little has witnessed an increase in inquiries around contractual rights, employee furloughing and directors’ duties.

It is making the advisory content its lawyers have created for clients publically available for the duration of the pandemic and beyond. This content is regularly moderated to stay in line with policy updates.

Andy Moseby says: “Business leaders now face the necessity of moving operations and staff online, whilst devising new strategies to stay afloat in an environment of uncertainty – and all whilst remaining compliant. Our aim is to provide as much advice as possible to a wide network of businesses facing these challenges.” 

The Covid-19 Toolkit joins FlightDeck in Kemp Little’s suite of free tools. FlightDeck is a free offering provided to start-up and rapid growth businesses full of advice to help start – and build – a business.

https://thefintechtimes.com/leading-tech-law-firm-launches-free-covid-19-toolkit-for-businesses/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=leading-tech-law-firm-launches-free-covid-19-toolkit-for-businesses

UK Payment Systems Regulator continues to prioritise competition and innovation whilst relaxing deadlines in response to COVID-19

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The UK’s Payment Systems Regulator has published its annual plan for 2020/21. It continues to prioritise work on developing the New Payments Architecture, reviewing card-acquiring services and tackling authorised push payment scams, among other things. It is, however, mindful of the need to allow organisations to focus on essential services during the current crisis and is extending deadlines to support that.

2020/21 Annual Plan

The Payment Systems Regulator has published its annual plan and budget for 2020/21. It was initially drafted before the full effects of COVID-19 had become apparent. Since then, it has extended certain deadlines and flagged that other timelines in the report may need to be adjusted. Still, the plan provides a good indication of the PSR’s priorities, aside from supporting organisations in dealing with the current crisis.  

Key points of interest

A number of the PSR’s aims echo and develop the key priorities from the 2019/20 annual plan, including:

  • New Payments Architecture

    The PSR will continue its work in ensuring the New Payments Architecture delivers a resilient and beneficial way of making digital payments.

    The New Payments Architecture is intended to replace the UK’s retail interbank payment systems (i.e. Bacs, Faster Payments and potentially Cheque and Credit). This new clearing and settlement system will be a single platform, operated by Pay.UK. Depending on how it is designed, it could fundamentally change the mechanics of how UK retail payments are made. 

    Pay.UK is currently seeking to procure a supplier to build and operate the central infrastructure. The PSR is supervising this process and wants to ensure the new system allows new and existing payment service providers to compete effectively to develop innovative services that benefit consumers. 

    In January, the PSR issued a call for input on issues that could affect competition and innovation in the NPA. In the current circumstances, the PSR is mindful of the need to allow organisations to focus on essential services and has thus pushed back the deadline for responses until 21 April 2020.

  • Card-acquiring services

    The PSR is aiming to finalise its market review in relation to card-acquiring services.

    The PSR has been conducting a review into the supply of card-acquiring services over the last couple of years, and has published various consultation documents in the process. Card-acquiring services are services which merchants buy in order to accept card payments. The market review is in response to concerns that the supply of these services has not been working well for merchants. The PSR has been planning to publish and consult on its interim report in June 2020, with a view to publishing its final report later in the year. The proposed timeline may again be impacted by COVID-19.

  • Authorised push payment scams

    The PSR will continue its efforts to reduce the risks of authorised push payment (APP) scams.

    In order to tackle the growing problem of APP scams, the PSR coordinated the launch, last May, of a voluntary industry code for reimbursing victims. Subsequently, it compelled the six biggest banking groups to comply with one of the standards in the code – the “Confirmation of Payee” service. This requires banks to check the name on a payee’s account as well as the sort code and account number. The deadline for full compliance was originally set for the end of March, but this has again been extended to enable banks to respond to current needs. The PSR will continue its work to encourage more payment service providers to follow the industry code.

Other lines of work 

The PSR plan also highlights its focus on the following areas:

  • Access to cash: ensuring that people can continue to access and use cash. This will include overseeing LINK’s management of ATMs as well as developing longer term plans with the FCA and Bank of England for protecting access to cash and making digital payments work for more people. 
  • Competition: ensuring that payment systems and markets are more competitive and/or deliver better outcomes for users. This includes tackling anti-competitive conduct, so that there is a credible deterrence against such behaviour. The PSR will continue to progress and launch new investigations to support this.
  • Intelligence: ensuring the PSR has a deep understanding of the sector to inform decision-making and strategic planning. This will involve measures to improve the collation and analysis of market data.
  • Strategy: ensuring stakeholders have a clear understanding of the PSR’s longer term focus. For the first time, it plans to consult on, and publish, a long-term strategy paper.
  • Powers and procedures: ensuring stakeholders understand the PSR’s decision-making and procedures. To this end, it aims to publish its final Powers and Procedures Guidance.
What is the Payment Systems Regulator?

The PSR regulates payment systems and the participants in those systems, e.g. banks and other payment service providers, among others. It aims to promote competition, innovation and the interests of stakeholders in the sector.

http://www.linklaters.com/en/insights/blogs/fintechlinks/2020/april/payment-systems-regulator-continues-to-prioritise-competition

COVID-19 has a profound effect on the Fintech industry, and their reaction may surprise you!

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COVID-19, and it’s dramatic impact on all walks of life, has dominated the headlines for several weeks now. What hasn’t dominated the headlines, however, is the way in which industries and communities within the Fintech industry have come together to support one another, along with the industry itself.

We at the Fintech Times have watched these developments unfold with pride and delight, and we wanted to shine a spotlight on those who have chosen to do the right thing in these difficult times.

We will be updating and sharing the list regularly, in order to make sure that those who have taken steps to act in an altruistic manner will get the attention and recognition that their efforts deserve. Below is a small taster of some of the support that is being offered throughout the industry to assist those in most need.

Consumer & employee-facing initiatives

The first group of people who have been hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19, will be the regular people, consumers and employees. Many will be facing job uncertainty, a potential drop in earnings, and possibly may be facing a lengthy period off work due to illness.

Governments have taken commendable steps to provide aid and support to those who will be most affected by this pandemic. But this does not mean that there are people out there who will not be struggling to pay bills, debts, and rents & mortgages.

One of the first ports of call for such people will be their banks. Some banks have, unprompted, taken swift and decisive action to provide support to their customers, whilst others have required a fair amount of peer pressure in order to provide such support.

Unsurprisingly, some of the best reactions have come from the startup fintechs. Monzo have offered a range of repayment options for their customers who hold overdrafts or loans, whilst Tide have been very proactive in providing a high-level of detail and explanation to all of their business customers, from the self-employed to business owners. In addition, Monzo’s CEO, Tom Blomfield, has stated that he won’t be taking a salary for the next twelve months, whilst the senior management team and board have all volunteered to take a 25% cut in salary.

To illustrate what measures are being taken and implemented by other financial institutions, financial guidance stalwarts Money Saving Expert have produced an extremely handy guide. Some examples include banks waiving interest on overdrafts, introducing interest-free overdraft buffers, offering mortgage and loan payment holidays, and sanctioning emergency credit limit increases. Barclays and Metro Bank deserve an honourable mention for coming out and waiving all overdraft interest for 3 months, well ahead the rest of the pack, and without customers needing to get in touch.

Kat Robinson, Director of Bank Accounts at Metro Bank, comments: “We’re mindful of the uncertainty caused by coronavirus and are committed to supporting our customers whose personal finances may be impacted at such a challenging time. We will therefore waive all overdraft interest due from the beginning of March until the end of June for personal current account customers. We hope that this will provide some flexibility for our customers as we all adjust to the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in.”

WorkinStartups have been one of the many companies who have been doing what they can to assist workers hunting for jobs during this period. They have set up a system where they are indicating which companies will still be hiring for roles during this time, to make sure that jobseekers don’t end up wasting their time by approaching a company that is no longer able to continue hiring for a position.

Assistance for Key Workers

Whilst many people find themselves working from home or being furloughed during this time, there are a number of employees who will still be going into the ‘office’ everyday for the foreseeable future – key workers. These include health workers, government employees, and persons whose jobs are vital to the infrastructure of countries. Many companies are now taking the opportunity to offer certain groups of employees discounts on goods on services, to thank them for the potentially dangerous work that they are carrying out.

One such company is Cabify, a ride-hailing company, who are offering free travel for government workers in Madrid who can’t take public transportation during this time. Another,

 Offers for fellow Fintechs and other businesses

Obviously, it is not just workers and individuals who have been affected. The companies that they work for have also been going through significant hardship, with many finding that their work has dried up, along with clients being largely unresponsive. This is where we see the collaborative, resourceful, and positive nature of the Fintech community come into play.

Many, if not all, accelerators, co-working spaces, and startup hubs have now been closed down due to the virus and/or governmental regulations. Rise, created by Barclays, are one of the leading proponents of such a service, and have taken steps to do what they can for the startups and fintechs who rely on their service. They have written to all Rise members to inform them that they will be taking 3 separate actions. The first, and the one with the biggest impact, is to freeze Membership payments for their member companies in April & May, whilst their London location is closed. This will be invaluable to companies who are looking to free up some money during this period, in order to remain financially solvent.

In addition they will provide digital sessions, virtual access to services, personal well-being classes, and virtual events. They have also pledged to create further initiatives, based on further feedback from their community. Magdalena Krön, Rise Global FinTech Platform Director, gave a further explanation as to why they are taking these steps: “We at Rise wanted to do something very practical that would assist our global community in these tough times. So we froze our membership fees for April and May for existing Rise members. We’re glad that’s gone down well. It’s one way of showing our commitment to the ecosystem of FinTech companies and their employees, so they can continue doing what they do best – disrupting and innovating. Individual resilience is important at this time. So too is community spirit. That’s why Rise is developing new digital events and regular targeted content that can keep anyone working in FinTech informed and inspired in this new world.”

 3S Money Club, the online banking service, and one of the companies hosted in Rise London, have taken the altruistic step of lowering fees on SEPA payments during this time. From now on, any EUR-out payments to SEPA-connected recipients will see the fees reduced from €8 down to €2 (flat fee irrespective of amount sent). Incoming payments in EUR and all other currencies will remain free of charge during this time. They believe that this small, but efficient contribution, could make a difference for many businesses challenged by an unprecedented level of uncertainty. Posting this announcement on their Linkedin page, they stated that “We are in this together, so let’s help each other to the best of our abilities and work out a reasonable approach to maintain a healthy financial ecosystem!”

We’ve seen what the startup jobs website, WorkinStartups, has been doing for workers. Fellow job-advert company, Angel.co, are also taking action to help out the startups who are doing their bit to help others, promising that “Any startup helping during this crisis can use our premium talent products for free.”

One of the biggest victims of this shutdown are bars, clubs and restaurants. Give Local is helping support local restaurants during this time, by allowing their users to buy a restaurant gift card from their website. Once the gift card has been purchased, the restaurant receives the money straight away, whilst the customer can then use this gift card to spend on a meal when this crisis is over. This will give the restaurant valuable and vital cash-flow during this difficult time, hopefully helping them to stay afloat.

 

Hosting of Virtual Events

 Events, conferences, and meetings are the lifeblood of the Fintech industry, and are often vitally important for individual companies and startups. Nearly all of these have now been either cancelled or postponed for the coming months, leading to a scramble to work out how to arrange alternative ways of getting the benefits that these events provide.

Some events have been directly converting themselves into an online set up. This includes the Open Banking World Congress, who will now run the speaking agenda part of their Congress as a free of charge virtual event, which will also include real-time Q&A and polls. In addition, they will also be providing access to their networking event app for industry delegates that had already purchased tickets to their event. In a similar fashion, Innovate Finance’sUK Fintech Weekwill be running a series of webinars instead of their usual in-person event. This will allow them to still keep all of the interesting speakers that they have already signed up, whilst enabling their attendees to still benefit.

London-based virtual events company, Hopin, is also going from strength-to-strength with their recently launched product. Their offering is a unique mixture of livestreams, video conferencing, and one-to-one virtual conversations, which can be used for any number of events. Having already received a lot of interest from investors before the crisis, the company will surely now find their services in high-demand. In response to the current climate, they have opened up their early access platform, along with discounted pricing for everyone who has been affected by the coronavirus. In a statement on their website from co-founder Dave Schools, he states that “We hope that our platform can be used to keep your events going in an accessible and sustainable way — by bringing your event online and still achieving the interaction and engagement that in-person events provide — while keeping everyone safe at home.”

Taking a slightly more innovative approach, Facebook are also getting in on the act with their imminent plans to launch Horizon “an ever-expanding VR world where you can explore, play, and create in extraordinary ways”.

Resources & provided by Fintechs

 Many companies are also taking this time as an opportunity to provide valuable tools and resources for people to use during this pandemic, either on their own, or in collaboration with others.

 Babyscripts, a virtual care company for managing obstetrics, are aiming to facilitate the access that new and expecting mothers have to valuable information and data that is relevant to them and their pregnancy. They have teamed up with George Washington Medical Faculty Associates (GW-MFA) to compile a new resource-base that contains clear, concise and relevant recommendations and information, complete with accessibility from a mobile app. Babyscripts state that they will also mount similar campaigns during the Coronavirus outbreak, for all of their health system partners.

“At times of crisis like this, access to accurate information is key for reducing anxiety and panic,” said Juan Pablo Segura, President and Co-founder of Babyscripts. “There’s a lot of conflicting information floating around on the internet, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable because they’re in a unique situation that complicates their normal responses to things like virus-protection”

Staying on the parental theme, there is the startup School Closures, who are providing guidance to parents while their children remain at home. They are a free hotline and information hub that will cover online learning, food, childcare, remote work, financial security. It’s a collaborative effort, involving a dozen or so organisations, such as Khan Academy, Crisis Text Line, Twilio and Revolution Foods.

Finally, there is the work being done by Fintechs in order to provide support and assistance to self-employed workers, a group number around 5 million, who will be particularly at risk during this period due to insecurity of work, lack of clients, and financial difficulties. A group of Fintechs have formed together, to create a product now known as “Covid Credit”. Founded by Fronted and Credit Kudos, they were able to collect a number of other volunteer companies, and managed to turn around a proof of concept of this product in 48 hours.

The product, which will likely be available in app form, enables sole traders in the UK to self-certify that they have lost income due to the Coronavirus outbreak. By using the newly-implemented Open Banking protocols, sole-traders will be able to connect this app to their bank accounts in order to share their last 12 months of statements and earnings. This will enable sole-traders to demonstrate to HMRC their change in financial circumstances, which will potentially lead to increased support from the government in the form of financial aid. They are now just waiting on the green light from the UK Government, in order to make this app publically available for all. It’s a fantastic effort, and shows recognition from the Fintech community as to how important freelancers, the self-employed and sole-traders are to the industry as a whole.

Share your stories of Fintechs doing their bit

The response from the Fintech community has been so positive, and really heart-warming. Hopefully, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we will be seeing many more initiatives rolled out in the coming days and weeks.

Do you have a company, or know of one, that is going above and beyond during these difficult times to provide assistance or a benefit to the wider community? If so, we would love for you to get in touch so we can add them to this fantastic, fast-growing list.

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