Teradata: Digital Payments Analytics Rapidly Respond to Changing Preferences


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

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

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

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

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

a day in the life of a digital mobile consumer

a day in the life of a digital mobile consumer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

acquirer enabled smb card issuing

acquirer enabled smb card issuing

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

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


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


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

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

funding optionsfunding options
Simon Cureton, CEO of Funding Options

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

Emergency schemes and market distortion

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

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

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

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

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

Alt-lenders are innovating to revive the SME finance industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stripe Launches Stripe Tax to Simplify Global Tax Compliance for Businesses


Stripe, the technology company building economic infrastructure for the internet, has announced the launch of Stripe Tax to help businesses automatically calculate and collect sales tax, value-added tax (VAT), and goods and services tax (GST) in over 30 countries.

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

The complexity of tax compliance

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

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

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

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

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

How Stripe Tax works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rise, Created By Barclays on Alternative Markets for Climate Fintechs


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

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

Plugging the data gap

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

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

Building brand engagement with peer-to-peer programmes

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

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

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

Enabling carbon removal with APIs

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

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

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

Innovation in the insurance markets

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

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

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

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

Take action

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

How is Bitcoin different?

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

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

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

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

Nothing will ever be the same.

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

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

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


Moonstake has announced it has entered a partnership with Uzbekistan government-approved cryptocurrency exchange UzNEX that is operated by KOBEA Group, a technology firm focused on developing solutions for the digital economy including blockchain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


MineralTree Improve Its Software With Integrated Analytics and Interactive Visualisation Tool


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Exibex Organises the 2nd Annual Edition of Finnovex Southern Africa


Exibex 2nd annual Finnovex Southern Africa, and the 7th Edition from the Finnovex Global Series, is to take place on 27-28 July 2021. The Summit will examine how technology is changing the delivery of banking and financial services.

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

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

Attendees should anticipate:

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

Attendees will be able to:

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

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

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

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

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


UAE Regulatory Authorities Seek Public Feedback on Fintech Adoption Guidelines


The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) (the Regulators) have jointly launched a four-week public consultation on proposed “Guidelines for Financial Institutions Adopting Enabling Technologies”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


On this weeks episode of The Fintech Times News & Views, The Fintech Times Podcast team speak on the retail and payments industry during the Coronavirus pandemic.


alldayPA: Advice for SME’s Post Pandemic


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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice for SMEs from Founder of alldayPA, Reuben Singh :

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How Digital Capability is Enhancing, Not Replacing the Financial Adviser


The advice industry is poised for a significant digital transformation – new digital capabilities, including advice technology, will disrupt the traditional advice model, but not in the way originally envisaged.

The pandemic and the accompanying social distancing measures have forced many to rely on technology more than ever before. In some areas, this overnight change has provided a much-needed impetus to encourage businesses to re-think old habits and provide what is actually a better consumer experience.

According to a new whitepaper examining how the financial advice process will be enhanced using new digital capabilities, digital will enrich the skills of the advisers, not replace them.

In the paper, advice technology provider Ignition, together with financial services consultancy firm Altus Consulting, offer recommendations on how the UK market can reduce the advice gap and draws on the lessons learned from the wider economy over the past 15 months.

Altus research shows that adviser spending on technology is increasing across the board, but spending in a cost efficient manner can prove difficult. The paper highlights:

  • Banks, life companies and smaller propositions have developed or are introducing hybrid advice models
  • Suppliers of digital advice software solutions are refining their configuration and implementation models to enable swift, flexible delivery
  • The adoption of B2B digital advice solutions will enrich, rather than replace, the traditional advice process to notably accelerate over the next five years.

Terry Donohoe, CEO Europe, Ignition, said: “We have seen that there is real demand in the UK financial services market for true digital advice, which seamlessly combines technology and human expertise to provide an easy-to-use service that helps customers make better financial decisions.

“As our whitepaper shows, there are still significant hurdles to clear before this model becomes the norm, but we are now closer than ever to revolutionising the advice industry and closing the advice gap.”

Sam Turner, consultant at Altus Consulting, adds:Initial hype around so-called ‘robo advice’ seems to have cooled and the industry is now turning towards a more hybrid model, which works in various forms to combine digital tools and human expertise.”


Digital Bank Virgin Money Australia Goes Live On Temenos Banking Cloud


Banking software company Temenos has revealed that Virgin Money Australia is live on The Temenos Banking Cloud. Their partnership ensures the digital bank can reward customers and help them achieve their financial goals.

The Temenos Banking Cloud is a SaaS banking solution that gives Virgin Money Australia total control to deploy banking services. Using open APIs, the bank can also collaborate and extend its banking services with other fintechs and developers.

With Temenos, Virgin Money brings together credit cards, transaction and savings accounts, plus a loyalty programme and personal financial management tools in a single, native mobile app. Customers can create a new account in minutes and start saving or spending immediately via the app.

The next phase of the digital bank is underway, which includes new products such as home loans and new deposit options. The launch of Virgin Money on the Temenos Banking Cloud also paves the way for other retail brands under the Bank of Queensland Group umbrella to transition to Temenos’ cloud-based core banking platform.


Max Chuard, CEO, Temenos, said: “We are proud to partner with Virgin Money Australia to power its ground-breaking digital bank. With The Temenos Banking Cloud, we are putting banks in control of their business models and innovation cycles, giving them the agility and speed to build great customer products and profitable business.

“We look forward to building on this success to support the digital bank in its continued evolution and with Bank of Queensland as it seeks to leverage The Temenos Banking Cloud across its retail brands.”

While, Greg Boyle, CEO, Virgin Money Australia, said: “With Temenos, we aim to set the new standard for Australian banking-customer relationships. The Temenos Banking cloud makes it easier to integrate with third parties and we have an agile platform that easily scales up or down depending on business demands. With all the banking technology we need at our fingertips and all managed in the cloud by Temenos, we can focus our energy on what matters most – delivering the amazing digital banking experience our customers will love.”

The Temenos Banking Cloud brings Temenos front-to-back banking services, an innovation sandbox a fintech marketplace, powered by an AI-enabled engine – all through a self-service portal. The SaaS banking solution combines the Temenos Infinity customer onboarding banking service and the Temenos Transact saving accounts banking service. Partner applications for credit card management, payments and its innovative loyalty and rewards program are all connected via an API framework and real-time event architecture.


To Combat the Small Percentage of Investment in Minority Startups, Mastercard Announce Start Path


Venture capitalists invest less than 3% of funding to Black founders, resulting in fewer success stories. Mastercard has announced the launch of a new Start Path track dedicated to supporting traditionally underrepresented fintech founders as the company continues its work to ensure minority led startups have access to the funding necessary to scale.

The new programming is part of Mastercard’s In Solidarity commitment of $500million in products, services, technology and financial support to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap. While Start Path has historically engaged growth and expansion stage startups, this new pathway will provide support for early-stage startups led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color and women. These startups will receive stage-relevant support, including enterprise partnership readiness training, mentorship and coaching, as well as curated commercial and investor introductions. Mastercard will consider grants or investments in participating startups on a case-by-case basis.

“To achieve inclusive growth, which ensures that the benefits of a growing economy extend to all segments of society, people need access to the vital networks that power the modern economy. But access to these physical, virtual and social networks is not equally available,” said Michael Froman, Vice Chairman and President of Strategic Growth, Mastercard. “A remarkably small percentage of venture capital is invested in Black-founded startups, and the new Start Path programming track is a critical step in connecting Black entrepreneurs with the necessary resources to launch and expand their start-ups.

The first participant to join this program is SpenDebt, which automates consumer debt repayment, and joined Start Path in April. The programming was informed by insights provided by underrepresented founders, including those of Start Path alumni Goalsetter and Mobility Capital Finance. Both companies have now received capital investments from Mastercard to help provide financial services to underserved communities with a specific focus on providing tailored digital tools, and new payment cards to low wealth minority and Black communities.

“We are humbled and excited about the opportunity to leverage Mastercard’s global footprint as part of their Start Path program. The partnership validates SpenDebt in the marketplace and accelerates our growth trajectory,” said Kiley Summers, Founder, SpenDebt. “As a Black founder, it’s been extremely difficult to access capital and penetrate enterprise customer networks, but resiliency and faith have sustained us. We look forward to extending our frictionless digital payment solution to Mastercard’s partners, customers and network.”

Start Path participants receive direct access to the company’s channels, customers and product teams as well as immersive virtual events and programming to uncover co-innovation and growth opportunities. All startups will also be paired with a dedicated Start Path sponsor who will act as their program champion and work to ensure they receive relevant support, as well as a Mastercard mentor whose expertise matches their business area.

Support for Small Businesses

Mastercard has long been an advocate for the small business community and reinforced its investments through launch of the Strivers Initiative. The campaign is dedicated to elevating Black entrepreneurs overcoming obstacles to maintain and grow their business, and who can act as role models for the community and future generations, while encouraging consumers and businesses alike to shop, share and support them.

The Start Path program introduction furthers Mastercard efforts to ensure access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs. This includes investments in venture capital firms and equitable investment organisations including Fearless Fund, CNote, Authentic Ventures and the Astia Fund to ensure minority-led startups can access the capital they need to successfully grow their businesses affordably and efficiently.

Mastercard has also partnered with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including Grameen America, Accion Opportunity Fund, and the Community Reinvestment Fund, USA, to expand access to capital and loan relief for underserved communities, with $250million delivered since 2018.

These efforts are delivering on Mastercard’s sustained commitment to building a more inclusive digital economy including its commitment to bring 50 million small and medium-sized businesses into the digital economy, specifically helping 25 million women entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

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


Paytech MoneyHash Launch in MEA Following Six Figure Pre-Seed Round


MoneyHash, an Egyptian US-based fintech startup that uses a universal API and a unified checkout experience to help businesses consolidate and grow their payments and financial tech stack across Africa and the Middle East, closed a six-figure pre-seed round to launch its services across the region.

The round was led by UAE’s venture capital firm COTU Ventures, with participation from the Ventures Platform, Kepple Africa Ventures, and angel investors.

MoneyHash was founded late 2020 by three co-founders: Nader Abdelrazik (Egyptian), Mustafa Eid (Egyptian), and Anisha Sekar (American). Combined, they have over 30 years of experience and worked for 11 startups, in addition to a portfolio of employers and education such as Microsoft, UpWork, NerdWallet, UC Berkeley, SigFig, and Brown University.

The startup provides a unified checkout experience built on top of a secure Super-API that aggregates payment and fintech solutions through a single integration and a central dashboard consolidating technical infrastructure and centralising data and operational reporting.

According to a company statement, MoneyHash is currently in a private beta with plans to go live soon in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. The startup aims to be fully operational across various countries in Africa and the Middle East by 2022.

“MEA is one of the fastest growing emerging markets with a rapidly evolving payment and fintech scene. As many companies in the region and abroad plans their expansion across the region, they are faced with a devastating technical and operational hassle: building a separate connection with each service provider while providing a unified experience for their customers. This results in a complicated tech stack wasting valuable resources with increased vulnerabilities to errors, fraud, and technical debt. MoneyHash’s technology abstracts the complexities of this fragmented market and allow businesses to scale and grow with a complete focus on their product, and without compromising security and efficiency,” said Nader Abdelrazik, co-founder and CEO of MoneyHash

“We are crafting a comprehensive revenue solution built for flexibility and scaling. With a unified checkout experience powered by a single API integration, businesses throughout MEA can instantly access the providers and products they need to grow. We increase speed to market and save weeks of effort upfront, and with a complete view of the revenue stack, we provide insights, automations, and smart routing to save time and money in the long term. Our mission is to build an efficient, secure, comprehensive solution that helps – rather than hinders – growing businesses.” said Anisha Sekar, co-founder and CPO of MoneyHash

“It’s rare to find such a well-rounded and complete team with deep domain experience and technical prowess so early in a company’s life. We’re very excited to back Nader, Anisha and Mustafa, as they look to tackle a problem that suits a fragmented region like the Middle East. The clarity with which they articulated their vision and strategy, and the chemistry we felt from the start, convinced us to support them in kick starting their plans to build a payments super API for the region and beyond. We are grateful they chose us as partners and are looking forward to what’s ahead.” said Amir Farha, Managing Partner of COTU Ventures

“We are excited to back the MoneyHash team. The team’s vision is compelling, and the product enables companies to scale their products and services across Africa and the Middle east with minimal friction. They are essentially powering the growth and expansion of startups and enterprise across the region.” said Kola Aina, Founding Partner of Ventures Platform

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


Revving up Self-Disruption: Standard Chartered’s African Odyssey


Africa was the birthplace of the mobile wallet in the mid-2000’s, a digital payment revolution that was driven by necessity given limited access to Bank Branches and Banking services. Africa has made great strides in its mobile and digital adoption with some truly world scale success stories like Safaricom’s MPesa. Airtel Money and MTN recently raised capital at very attractive valuations showcasing the ability of Digital to create significant value.

Sunil Kaushal is the CEO of Standard Chartered, AME. Here he shares his thoughts on Standard Chartered’s journey of digitalisation and Self-disruption in Africa.

Sunil Kaushal is the CEO of Standard Chartered, AME.Sunil Kaushal is the CEO of Standard Chartered, AME.
Sunil Kaushal, CEO of Standard Chartered, AME.

COVID-19 pandemic, by stripping us of in-person interactions, has possibly pushed financial services in Africa into a ‘Goldilocks moment’ in which the combination of technology, platforms and customer demographics can result in an explosive growth and lift financial participation especially by providing equitable access to quality financial services especially to women and connecting small businesses to local and regional hubs and possibly even to international markets.

However, as attractive as this African opportunity may sound, it clearly requires financial services incumbents to adopt an intent to self-disrupt and shift their mindsets. Research, and my own personal experience, clearly indicates that organisational inertia is the main reason that many transformations stumble or falter.  Many incumbent banking players have set off to digitise their services or launch neobanks but digitising a retail bank (and indeed the overall bank and Banking) in its truest sense is a challenge that very few players have been able to solve. It requires an inflight change not just of technology, but of entrenched structural costs and legacy mindsets of all banks, clients and regulators.

And the challenge is compounded by the expectation of an immediate growth in profitability, which again causes transformation initiatives to get distracted and settle for tactical solutions rather than a truly transformational outcome. The objective of banks ought to be to reinvent and disrupt using technology and digitalisation as an enabler increase in revenue, returns, client acquisition and profits are the outcomes, which will undoubtedly follow if the services and solutions offered meet customer needs and solve their pain points.

Digitalisation and Self-disruption in Africa

To bring the issues into perspective, let me outline Standard Chartered’s journey towards digitisation and self-disruption in Africa. Over the past three and a half years, the team in Standard Chartered Bank in Africa has tried to address the core issue that afflicts banking institutions – how to successfully and profitably convert a legacy international bank into a truly digital bank, using a standardised platform that is future-ready while also nimble enough to incorporate local flavours.

After successfully piloting a digital bank in Côte d’Ivoire in 2018, Standard Chartered rolled out digital banking platforms across eight additional key African markets, including Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

Launching digital banking platforms across these 9 markets was possibly far easier than rewiring mindsets and igniting a culture of innovation and experimentation! But this cultural transformation is a must-do and a precursor to the real transformation and has been a critical focus during the bank’s journey.

The digital banks have also allowed Standard Chartered to attract a new audience of future-ready consumers, comprising a younger, digital-savvy demographic, with more than two-thirds of accounts being opened by consumers below the age of 35 and women representing a much larger share than normal. The pandemic, rather than becoming a stumbling block, accelerated the growth with Standard Chartered growing its customer base by half a million, which is 50% of its legacy base, since the onset of the pandemic. The Bank has gone paperless, and all customer acquisitions are now digital, while in parallel all legacy customers are being converted into digital. Customer engagement is good evidenced through app ratings, feedback from customers and healthy average account balances.

Covid-19 Response

In Africa, The Bank was able to support clients during COVID-19 without any interruption even with minimal staff operating physically from offices. As a direct result of this digital readiness, and by the end of 2020, almost two-third of regular banking services were fulfilled using the app without the need for the customer to visit or call the bank.

This technology platform has enabled the Bank to offer retail and wealth products, while integrating with other ecosystem partners. The platform is populated with products, value propositions, campaign leveraging analytics, continuous customer feedback and testing. The unique digital offering has been designed based largely on input from clients.

This digital banking platform is showing early signs of transforming the wealth culture in Africa, by demystifying and bringing small-ticket investment and insurance offerings within the reach of the regular customer across Africa. The Bank has witnessed a 250 percent increase in wealth management transactions booked when COVID-19 first hit the African markets. On a monthly average, the transactions were 160 percent higher in 2020 on the mobile app in Kenya compared to the average across the previous year. Kenya, one of the bank’s markets leading the digital transformation, crossed a critical milestone of USD 1bn in AUM (assets under management) boosted by the growth that digital enabled.

Digitisation has also the potential to increase the financial inclusion especially of women by enabling them to access banking products and services from anywhere, at any time. Bank branches are not always close to women, especially in conservative cultures or rural regions, and it can be difficult for them to leave their homes to go to a bank or even find one. One of the unique, financial inclusion opportunities delivered in Africa is the establishment of an agency banking model. This is an arrangement that allows a retail outlet to serve as a representative of the agent of the Bank, offering transactional services to the bank’s customers as defined by agency banking guidelines. Agency banking allows the traditional banks to extend their network of branches and services in a cost-efficient manner through authorised agents.

The Bank has introduced agent banking in Uganda, comprising of almost 10,000 touch points for cash deposits and withdrawals that aid in reshaping its distribution model. This coupled with a recent collaboration with Airtel Africa – a leading telco with a presence in 15 African markets – will drive financial inclusion across key markets in Africa by providing consumers with increased access to mobile financial services. This model is now being rapidly expanded to the other markets in Africa in the coming quarters.

The Profitability Challenge

A challenge that most stand-alone digital banks globally are facing is the slow path to profitability. Technology can be transformational but is not cheap and has a relatively long gestation period. Profitability was a clear design principle in the way our Bank approached this transformation by aggressively cutting legacy cost whilst pivoting to exponential digital-led growth. This has brought forward the break-even for these investments.

As the dust settles on this phase of the bank’s transformational journey, it is clear that the successful transformation of a legacy bank into a true digital bank has a disproportionate payoff as it combines the century-old trust that customers have with the exponential growth possible from a low-cost, future-ready digital platform. By choosing Africa as the battleground to demonstrate early signs of success, Standard Chartered has not only underlined its ambition for the continent, but also the confidence with which it is executing a technology-led, cultural transformation. There’s a long way to go as this strategy plays out and it’s too early to claim victory. But the early positive signs of the Bank’s transformation in Africa could become the template for banking incumbents to become nimble and win.


Episode Six: Ushering in a New Era of Open and Programmable Payment Services


Multiple trends have arisen following the pandemic’s acceleration of digitisation. Contactless limits have been expanded, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) has seen a huge influx of customers, regulatory standards have been adjusted and generally, there has been huge amounts of innovation in paytech. 

One company that has discussed these trends is Episode Six. Episode Six operates globally with an expanding presence in Europe, and is intimately familiar with the needs and trends among regional businesses. Its CEO, John Mitchell, has over 10 years of experience working in the financial sector, having previously been the CEO of Rev Worldwide.

Here Mitchell gives his views on which new payment services are going to shape the future of the paytech industry:

John Mitchell, CEO at Episode SixJohn Mitchell, CEO at Episode Six
John Mitchell, CEO at Episode Six

With pandemic-related concerns accelerating the conversion to cashless transactions,  digital transformation has become a mission-critical initiative for European financial institutions (FIs).

In the wake of pandemic-conditioned reliance on mobile payment apps and e-commerce platforms by consumers, digital payment transactions in Europe are set to skyrocket by 28.3% this year, topping $1.17trillion, according to data presented by online Italian trading publisher Finaria.

With so much digital payment activity being driven by transformed and enduring consumer behaviour, it follows that payment modernisation has become a matter of existential significance for FIs.

Institutions that fail to adapt to this rapidly evolving payments landscape will not be able to service the new generation of digital-native retail and business customers. Digital neglecters risk losing out on billions of Euros worth of market share, thus accelerating their descent into obsoletion.

European Central Bank (ECB) Vice President Luis de Guindos told CNBC last November that “bank profitability is expected to remain weak” in the near term. The ECB believes that pre-pandemic profitability levels will not return before 2022 at the earliest.

This represents a systemic challenge for the EU, as Member States emerge from lockdowns at slower rates than the US and Asia. As such, payments transformation may not only help banks remain in business, it can also keep the Euro economy solvent.

Trends fueling the payments revolution

Increasingly popular trends that are redefining the European payments landscape include buy now, pay later (BNPL), the adoption of mobile and embedded payments, and regulatory standardisation.

As a result of economic disruptions that took place last year, BNPL services enjoyed much attention from both merchants and consumers. In Europe, the BNPL payment option was offered by 20% of retailers last year, according to a report by Research and Markets, and BNPL service providers across the globe experienced high growth rates and revenue capture, as they significantly expanded their offerings.

Another driver of payments transformation in Europe is the mass-adoption of mobile and embedded payments. This trend has been ascendant since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, which catalysed modern and customisable user experiences.

The traction of mobile payment apps in Europe has actually accelerated two European countries to the forefront as world leaders in digital wallet adoption. 42% and 24% of the population of Norway and the UK, respectively, use digital wallets, according to a report by Mordor Intelligence.

But with its strong cash culture, some countries – and particularly Germany – have been slower to adopt mobile payments, according to consultant e-Marketer. Last year, in the midst of pandemic concerns, the European Banking Authority (EBA) even encouraged people to adopt cashless forms of payment, leading many countries to increase their contactless limits.

As the EBA’s guidance demonstrates, national regulatory intervention has helped pave the global payment rails of the future.

A pivotal precedent was set by the UK’s Open Banking Initiative (OBI), a British regulatory body that has provided standardised API plugins and data models so firms there can conform to the EU’s Payment Systems Directive (PSD2).

Regulatory intervention by the European Commission has also led to a regional push for faster payments. Last September the Commission adopted a retail payments strategy for the EU, which aims to create an “efficient and integrated market for payment services” in the union.

The Commission’s strategy is focused on “creating the conditions that make it possible to develop instant payments and EU-wide payment solutions that are cost effective and accessible to individuals and businesses across Europe.”

Standardisation will lead to more innovation in payments. As an example outside of Europe, Singapore has pioneered the regulatory standards for QR code-enabled payments. In 2018, Singapore rolled out the Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR), the world’s first unified payment QR code that combines multiple payment QR codes into a single SGQR label. Data by Statista and Juniper Research finds that in the next four years national QR code payment schemes will account for 22% of all QR code payments, up from 8% in 2020.

The US and Europe are catching on as well. According to a survey by Mobileiron, spanning the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, France and Spain, 67% of respondents stated that QR codes make life easier in a touchless world. 58% of participants also said they favoured the greater use of QR codes.

Moving to a new framework contingent on willingness to adapt

With payment innovation being buoyed and shaped by digitally progressive regulatory governance in Europe, it’s likely that more businesses will offer their own customised payment systems. Emerging banking-as-a-service (BaaS) technologies are the nimble, cloud-native API solutions that will power this trend.

Globally, API integrations have become much more than just a trend, ushering in a new era of fully open and programmable banking and payment services.

However, this ecosystem-wide transformation is contingent on businesses adapting to the future. Legacy financial services firms and others in the payment supply chain must ensure that they have adopted the right, future-proofed tech stack that enables the type of agility, scalability, and interoperability needed to embrace the brave new world of payments.


Andrea Dunlop From Access Paysuite on Why the Future of Payments Is Integrated


Driven by the digital revolution, business and consumer payments are undergoing a critical transformation. Addressing this need, software specialist The Access Group developed Access PaySuite, combining its years of diverse industry-specific experience with leading technical insight.

Andrea Dunlop, managing director of Access PaySuite explains more about the company’s take on the payments space, and offers her thoughts on how businesses can adjust to the changing market.

Andrew DunlopAndrew Dunlop
Andrea Dunlop, managing director of Access PaySuite

How do you think the sector needs to adapt to meet new customer attitudes towards payments?

Whether they’re dealing with a retailer, charity, utility company or government body, consumer expectations are higher than they’ve ever been, demanding a frictionless payment experience in person, online or via mobile apps.

A number of companies such as neobanks and mobile technology businesses have driven these innovative experiences. As a result everyone in the industry has had to follow suit, but I’d argue that the sector is still at the start of this journey.

Many new software companies are now entering the payment space. Often, they bring integrated sector-specific experience which offers much more insight to the process and streamlines the payments process for consumers and businesses alike.

Will the move towards a cashless society impact the digital payments sector longer-term?

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated the digital payments shift. As well as e-commerce, contactless and mobile spending, we’ve also seen a blend of digital and face to face tools such as ‘pay-at-table’ or ‘pay-in-app’ taking off.

While the use of cash has become much less common, there are still millions of people that require access to physical money due to a lack of digital infrastructure. Even as technology develops, sufficient efforts must be made to ensure products are available to all of society.

On balance the majority of the UK has seen the benefit of new ways to pay. While it’s important to protect cash for those who need it, we can’t halt what has been terrific progress and innovation in the way we pay and get paid.

How do different sectors vary in terms of digital adoption?

Historically, various industries have adopted technology at different paces, though we have seen an acceleration across all sectors when applied to adopting a digital-first strategy. Without doing so, another sector or startup could act first and revolutionise a service, making your offering redundant.

The mobile phone is a ‘swiss army knife of potential’ with a camera, video, microphone, fast connectivity and super fast processing. Suddenly, almost every consumer has the capability to digitally interact with a business remotely, around the clock. There are very few consumer or business enterprises that aren’t thinking of advancing a digital strategy in order to compete and remain relevant.

Is an integrated approach to payments important for businesses?

Since the widespread use of credit cards and electronic consumer payments began in the 1980s, we have seen further steps to make payments more integrated with the business processes they are designed to support.

Over the last twenty years, integration has been revolutionary. Costs have been driven down thanks to the straight-through processing and very low error rates it can offer.

The ‘old world’ of the cash till that needs to be counted, reconciled and deposited at a bank each night is still in operation, but it represents a tiny proportion of all payments in the UK. Digitally integrated payments offer the greatest opportunity for streamlining how you manage your business and your customers, while enhancing your overall user experience.

How can businesses keep on top of regulatory changes?

While some legislation can drive compliance-type restrictions, such as the Interchange Fee regulation, it can also support new innovation, as seen with the new Payment Services Directive 2.

Most businesses want to focus on serving their customers rather than having to understand all the regulatory developments. It’s important for businesses to find a good payments partner that can provide fully-regulated payment services, as well as reliable industry advice.

Access Group has recently launched Access PaySuite. How will this positively impact customers?

Most companies offer basic payment offerings but they don’t add more value, nor do they understand the specifics of the business’ vertical.

Our approach to payments is integrated, with straight-through processing. This meets the needs of specific verticals including health and social care, hospitality, education, charities and not for profit, legal, manufacturing, recruitment agencies and retail, visitor attraction and warehousing and fulfilment, and construction. The Access Group has significant experience in these industries, meaning Access PaySuite will be able to add real, tangible value to all these sectors.

Was Access PaySuite developed to overcome any specific challenges?

Our team has years of payments experience, so we don’t expect our customers to. We will always share that knowledge in a simple and easy-to-understand way – saving time on jargon-busting and solving crucial problems instead.

We understand each customer’s end-user requirements and design payment solutions which fit their specific needs, harnessing our knowledge across numerous vertical sectors. This helps them achieve efficient payments which are integrated into their business processes, rather than being inefficient and unsuitable.

At its core, Access PaySuite was built to enable each customer to achieve cost-effective and streamlined payments with a partner that understands their unique challenges.

  • 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.


Gemini Integrates Shard X MPC Technology Into Their Platform


It has been announced that the crypto platform Gemini has acquired Shard X, a developer of secure multi-party computation (MPC) cryptographic technology. The acquisition will integrate Shard X’s MPC technology into Gemini’s distributed, multi-site key management and signing infrastructure.

The integration will markedly increase the speed with which Gemini can transfer customer assets and provide support for new asset listings and usage on their platform.

Tyler Winklevoss, CEO, Gemini.Tyler Winklevoss, CEO, Gemini.
Tyler Winklevoss, CEO, Gemini.

“Integrating MPC technology into our wallets will enable secure and faster crypto transfers that will help our customers keep pace with liquidity needs and market demands,” said Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini.

Gemini has more than $30 billion of crypto assets under custody, serving a range of individual and institutional customers. The addition of Shard X’s MPC will work in concert with all other aspects of Gemini’s custody offering, which includes role-based governance protocols, multiple layers of biometric access controls, and physical security to safeguard the sensitive key material, safely stored in government-rated hardware security modules (HSMs), that controls customers’ assets.

Shard X was founded in 2018 by Yaniv Neu-Ner, Nikita Lesnikov, and Navaho De Wet with the goal of making the crypto ecosystem more secure. Shard X’s MPC technology generates key fragments which are used in a distributed signing protocol without ever reconstructing a full private key. The team has developed a portable MPC implementation that aims to run in high-security environments, such as hardware security modules, ensuring the highest integrity and secure processing of private key fragments that protect digital assets.

Gemini Head of UK, Blair Halliday added, “The consumer and institutional crypto markets increasingly demand instant access to digital assets. Assimilating Shard X’s MPC technology into Gemini’s custody enables our customers to benefit from rapid and more efficient withdrawals and transfers. It will also enable us to list new assets more quickly.”

  • 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.