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Bronze Level Contributor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published by
David Jones | June 30, 2020
Mobile Payments Today

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Gold Level Contributor

BNP Paribas is to roll out its first batch of contactless fingerprint cards this autumn.

The French bank's electronic and innovative payments manager Jean-Marie Dragon told Le Parisien that a first batch of between 10,000 and 15,000 Visa Premier biometric cards will be offered this fall.

The cards, which use technology from Thales and Mastercard, will be distributed to holders of the bank’s Premier or Gold cards.

Fingerprint Cards last year secured an order for over a hundred thousand of its sensors by French card manufacturer Gemalto, marking the first volume order in the biometric smartcard industry.

Switzerland's Cornèrcard teamed up with Gemalto and Visa last year to launch the country's first, limited-edition, biometric Gold card.

The technology, which enables users to make contactless payments above the usual limit by placing a finger on the card at the point-of-sale, has also been tested by numerous banks, including Societe Generale, Credit Agricole, Intesa Sanpaolo and most recently the UK's NatWest.
 
Orginally published by
Finextra | June 29, 2020
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Bronze Level Contributor

A host of Wall Street heavyweights, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, have joined a $25 million funding round for Capital Markets Gateway (CMG), a fintech startup that facilitates equity capital market transactions.

Barclays, Citi, Fidelity Investments and Morgan Stanley joined the round, alongside existing investors Canaccord Genuity, Franklin Templeton, StageDotO, and Shea Ventures.

The CMG platform is designed to simplify the fragmented and inefficient process of raising capital by establishing a cohesive channel between investors and underwriters in transactions, including IPOs.

Launched in 2017, the platform is currently used by nearly 100 buy side firms representing $12 trillion in assets under management and 15 investment banks. Users get actionable intelligence through products like DataLab - which includes streamlined workflow tools, real-time data, and analytics.

With the new funding in place and new sell-side partners, CMG now plans to add functionality to improve the ECM capital formation process.

Greg Ingram, CEO, CMG, says: "It’s clearer now more than ever in the current environment that the way we do business today demands modern, agile, accessible, and transparent solutions - no matter where your desk is and no matter where your team members and partners are.

"Companies access the capital markets to raise money that will ultimately drive expansion, innovation, and employment growth, which is why we have built an integrated capital markets platform that will optimize the deal flow process for all market participants."

Originally published by
Finextra | June 25, 2020
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Bronze Level Contributor

Visa has built a digital tool that uses AI and proprietary data to help US financial institutions predict credit application fraud.

The Advanced Identity Score combines AI and predictive machine learning capabilities with application and identity-related data to generate a risk score for new account applications.

This, says the payments giant, helps reduce fraud, prevent hits to brand loyalty and trust, and eliminate operational costs due to remediation.

Visa says its technology generates a two-digit Fair Credit Reporting Act-compliant identity fraud score in near real-time to help prevent fraud loss at the point of credit or loan application.

The tool works by using AI to examine data points in areas including application velocity, fraud and suspicious activity and bankruptcy data. It also incorporates data from government agencies, third party data providers, law enforcement agencies, and self-reported data from consumers.

Melissa McSherry, global head, data, security and identity products and solutions, Visa, says: "Advanced Identity Score offers financial institutions a powerful tool to use on top of existing systems and processes to prevent identity related fraud."
 
Originally published by
Finextra | June 22, 2020
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Bronze Level Contributor

US challenger bank Current has raised new funding after recording a massive uptick in financially underserved customers during the pandemic.

Founded in 2015 by former Wall Street trader Stuart Sopp, Current has seen customer growth surge during the outbreak, adding more than 200,000 users in April and May.

The company recently exceeded 1 million active accounts and expects to double in size before the end of this year, Sopp says.

“Our rapid growth is a testament to just how many Americans need a more innovative banking solution,” he says. “Traditional banks can not adequately serve most Americans due to their legacy infrastructure. They charge exorbitant fees just to cover their costs to bank the over 130 million people in this country who live paycheck to paycheck. We solved this through dramatically lowering the cost of maintaining accounts and a business model that is not dependent on our members maintaining large deposits.”

Operating as the front-end to an FDIC-backed third party bank account, Current gives users access to their paychecks up to two days faster than traditional accounts, up to $100 in free overdrafts and free access to thousands of ATMs. The company makes its money from premium subscriptions and debit transactions.

The new funding - for an undisclosed amount - was provided by existing investor Foundation Capital.

Angus Davis, partner at Foundation Capital, says: “With a third of the U.S. population living paycheck to paycheck, Current has a large opportunity in front of it and I am excited to partner with Stuart and the team as they continue to improve financial outcomes for millions more."

Sopp adds: “We feel we’re in the right place at the right time and anticipate reaching two million members by the end of 2020.”
 
Originally published by
Finextra | June 19, 2020
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Bronze Level Contributor

iStock

A new wave of payments fraud has emerged in the U.S., as millions of consumers have shifted their banking and purchasing activity to online channels since the COVID-19 outbreak forced mandatory stay-at-home orders, and most major businesses shifted their employees to work from home on a full-time basis. 

The drastic shifts in e-commerce and mobile banking opened up an entire new target set for malicious actors to exploit weaknesses in remote corporate networks, merchant e-commerce sites and financial institutions dealing with massive increases in mobile banking transactions.

Tom Kellerman, head of cybersecurity strategy at VMware Inc., testified before the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy late last month, that cyber attacks against the financial sector rose by 238% between February and April, the peak period when COVID-19 was spreading across much of the U.S., forcing government imposed stay-at-home orders.

"At an alarming rate, transnational organized crime groups are leveraging specialist providers of cybercrime tools and services to conduct a wide range of crimes against financial institutions, including ransomware campaigns, distributed denial of service attacks, business email compromise scams and access mining," Kellerman testified before the House subcommittee. "Criminals are increasingly sharing resources and information and reinvesting their illicit profits for the development of new, even more destructive capabilities."

He told the committee that the growing availability of readily available malware is making it easier for even inexperienced criminal actors to launch their own operations. He added that the growing availability of mobile devices, cloud-based data storage and digital payment systems has provided an ever-expanding host of attack vectors for cybercriminals to exploit.

Continue reading

Originally published by
David Jones - June 16, 2020
Mobile Payments Today

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Gold Level Contributor

Targeting 15,000 fintech firms worldwide, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) announced it has partnered with the World Bank Group and the World Economic Forum to survey industry players and compile data about Covid-19’s impact on the marketplace.

Finextra Research is joining this initiative and encouraging our 30,000 members and 750,000 readers around the world to participate in the Global Covid-19 FinTech Market Rapid Assessment Survey.

With coronavirus impacting financial markets worldwide, questions have been raised about whether sectors such as digital banking, digital payments, digital lending, insurtech and wealthtech will continue to thrive, and whether their relevance will increase or diminish.

The survey will gather data from fintechs around the world to understand which are best able to adapt and which are under threat. The survey will also probe Covid-19 experiences, exploring which fintechs stepped up and were able to serve customers at critical moments in the crisis.

The CCAF, World Bank and the World Economic Forum plan to answer critical questions about the future of fintech in a post-Covid world in a comprehensive report, slated to be released in Q3 2020.

The report’s partners are working with over 150 ecosystem leaders - including central banks, regulators and monetary authorities - to reach fintechs in over 190 countries and territories.

Finextra Research is joining other industry players - including Money2020, LendIt FinTech, Innovate Finance, GSMA and Crowdfund Insider to help get the message to fintechs worldwide.

Bryan Zhang, the executive director of the CCAF, highlights that bringing the global fintech ecosystem together will create a greater impact.

Continue reading and access the survey

Originally published by
Finextra - June 15, 2020

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Bronze Level Contributor

International remittance provider MoneyGram flagged a rapid increase in transactions made to mobile wallets during May, as lockdown measures due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continued across several countries.

In a business update, the company said the number of digital payments processed was up 100 per cent year-on-year in May, a further increase on already significant growth booked in Q1 when digital transactions on its platform were up 57 per cent.

The company attributed the latest increase to strong demand for mobile wallet and direct to bank account deposits. Between these two segments volumes increased 156 per cent year-on-year in May.

Growth rates, it noted, were most marked in countries such as the Philippines, where transactions to mobile wallets jumped more than 200 per cent.

The update follows concerns raised by several authorities and organisations about a dip in remittances received in developing markets during lockdowns, with access to physical money collection channels hampered.

In April, The World Bank warned global remittances could fall by 20 per cent in 2020 due to issues related to the pandemic, with governments and service providers encouraged to ease access to digital transfers and mobile money services.

MoneyGram’s update comes weeks after media reported the company was the subject of takeover interest from rival Western Union.

Originally published by
Chris Donkin | June 11, 2020
Mobile World Live


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Bronze Level Contributor

Fintech continues to dominate the London tech fundraising scene, accounting for 39% of VC investment in the UK capital's technology companies so far this year, according to a report which claims that the sector is showing resilience during the Covid-19 crisis.

London-based tech firms have pulled in $4 billion from VCs so far in 2020, more than Paris, Stockholm, Berlin and Tel Aviv combined. Of this $4 billion, 39% went to fintech firms, says the report from Tech Nation and Dealroom for the Digital Economy Council.

Overall, the report argues that the UK’s tech sector went into the coronavirus crisis in February in a strong position. From January to the end of May, tech companies raised $5.3 billion, compared to a total raised in the rest of Europe of $4.1 billion.

However, there are concerns that many of these deals were agreed in principle before the onset of the virus, which has reset expectations. Capital inflows in the second half of the year are unlikely to be as strong as those in 2019, warn the authors.

About two thirds of startups expect revenues to drop by more than a quarter, while two-fifths believe they have less than 12 months of funds and almost a half have frozen hiring.

Advertised vacancies were continuing to climb at the start of 2020 before the coronavirus and lockdown took its toll. Even so, more than 90,000 tech sector jobs were being advertised at the end of April - twice the number of openings in accounting and finance, the next sector with the most vacancies.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says: “The tech community in London and across the UK has risen to the challenges posed by coronavirus, demonstrating the sector’s resilience and innovation. This new data shows the strength of the industry and I remain confident that London’s position as a global tech hub will continue as we move towards recovery.”
 
Originally published by
Finextra | June 10, 2020
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Bronze Level Contributor

Image: William Iven - Unsplash

Diana Biggs, head of innovation at HSBC's global private banking arm, says Covid-19 has brought digital communications tech front and centre at banks.

As head of innovation, I’m often asking management teams to consider and pre-emptively respond to disruption. I encourage colleagues to adopt new ways of working. I introduce digital tools and capabilities to break existing silos and drive collaboration. I look for ways to leverage the accelerating rate of technological change to not only make our business more efficient, but more importantly to better serve our customers. And I’m constantly asking for this to be done at pace.

In a few short weeks, Covid-19 managed to do all of this.

While there is no questioning the negative effects of this pandemic, for innovation teams, it is likely viewed with optimism — like a catalyst forwarding our efforts, an acceleration towards the digital future that many of us were envisioning and planning for, but that not everyone could accept. With the global scale of these events and the impact across every area of financial services, complacency or hesitancy is no longer an option. This crisis, as others before it, has served as a reminder that change and uncertainty are realities that can’t be avoided and which are ignored at a company’s risk.

In times like these, it’s important to focus on the positives and, indeed, the opportunities to uncover among the stark realities.

Three of those positive outcomes I’m seeing are:

Renewed Purpose

Trust and collaboration are essential to innovation and, in these times of distress, it’s been gratifying to witness the coming together of teams, organisations and communities under common goals, to support clients and to support each other.

Faster pace

We’ve now seen how quickly teams are able to stand up and roll-out new capabilities, even across large organisations, at record speed. The need to rapidly adjust to working remotely and to respond to urgent change also worked to strengthen collective confidence around the organisational ability to change at pace.

It also highlighted the overwhelming benefits of such transformation, while maintaining the security and risk management, which is naturally the utmost priority at all times. We’ve proved the art of the possible in terms of productivity and connectivity and prompted a mind-set shift at scale. This ability to enable rapid decision-making and delivery will now be further cemented across the organisational DNA.

Digital communication

These unprecedented times are driving increased awareness and adoption of technology, both for colleagues as well as customers.

Digital communications have become a key focus area during this crisis. This includes secure instant message integrations with popular chat tools to the web and video conferencing we’ve all become intimately familiar with during this time.

As one example, on March 31st, as part of our partnership with AllBright, a network and community for female founders, we hosted our first ever Virtual Pitch Day. Typically, these are held on a monthly basis in AllBright’s physical clubs, but the teams quickly adopted a new strategy and the community came together online, with over 90 participants joining to support female entrepreneurs. The participation levels demonstrate how technology, even in challenging circumstances, can unlock opportunities and provide increased connectivity, scale and, ultimately, impact.

Continue reading

Originally published 
By Diana Biggs
June 9, 2020
sifted.eu

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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Vivid Money co-founders Artem Yamanov and Alexander Emeshev

Vivid Money, a Berlin-based digital banking service, is launching today in partnership with solarisBank and Visa. The company claims to be the first mobile-first full-service banking solution, offering cashback programs, sub-accounts in foreign currencies and eventually, investment products, in a single app.

Founded in 2019 by Artem Yamanov and Alexander Emeshev, the fintech company already employs over 130 people as it launches into its first market. Both founders previously worked for Russian banks and met at Tinkoff, an online financial and lifestyle services provider run by TCS Group Holding. TCS has agreed to become an anchor seed investor, though the investment amount was not disclosed.

Vivid is working with solarisBank, which provides a fully licensed Banking-as-a-Service platform through which Vivid can operate. “We reduce time to market significantly and enable Vivid Money to compose an attractive offering that allows them to grow fast,” says Roland Folz, CEO of solarisBank.

The app is also launching with Visa as an exclusive payment technology partner for Europe. After opening an account, Vivid users will receive an anonymized, metal Visa debit card.

“The payment behavior in Germany is currently changing rapidly – consumers increasingly want to pay digitally – mobile and contactless. This is why the launch of the mobile-first Visa Debit card by Vivid comes exactly at the right point in time,” says Albrecht Kiel, Visa’s regional managing director of central Europe.

Originally published by
Annie MusgroveJune 8th, 2020.
Techeu

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Gold Level Contributor

Recreating Retail For The Recovery Period

Online commerce has soared during the pandemic, prompting retailers of all types and sizes to leverage how they use digital channels to bring back customers while a full return to physical retail remains months away.

For example, upscale retail brand Gucci is reaching out to customers who can’t go to its stores by bringing its stores to customers. The company’s new “Gucci Live” service uses streaming technology to let customers have the same type of in-store experience they’d have a brick-and-mortar store even while shopping online.

Gucci Live lets well-heeled clientele browse a real Gucci boutique virtually, snapping up whatever high-fashion items catch their eyes from the comfort of their couches. A real Gucci sales clerk will hold up items for the remote customer to check out.

Gucci has created Gucci Live by retrofitting a real Gucci 9 store with cameras and high-quality lighting to allow for what the company calls “remote clienteling.” The remote client communicates with the live clerk via a mobile device or laptop messaging.

Gucci is one of a few luxury brands that have seen customers line up outside its physical boutique when they reopened in Paris and other major cities around the world in the past week or two. That reveals the pent-up demand for the company’s unique items.

But given the depth of losses that brands like Gucci have seen, that won’t make up the lost revenue. That’s particularly true because COVID-19 rules are limiting how many consumers can enter a reopened store at a time and how much they can handle merchandise.

Moreover, a considerable swath of the potential customer base lives outside the convenient range of a physical store and are unable or unwilling to arrange a special trip for luxury retail commerce. A streamed in-store shopping experience offers such customers a digital version of the experience.

“The mission of our Gucci 9 global service center is to provide our customers around the world with a direct connection to the Gucci community that is a seamless, always accessible, personalized experience,” Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri said.

Gucci has a handful of so-called “client advisers” stationed at six Gucci 9 centers in New York; Tokyo; Singapore; Sydney, Australia; Shanghai, China; and Florence, Italy. The luxury-goods company represents just one of many retailers who are beginning to rethink their approach as they adjust to a post-pandemic recovery. After all, the emerging new rulebook for retail is creating an in-store experience for consumers that’s less than loveable — temperature checks at the doorway, masked sale staff and limited capacity.

Some merchants are moving inventory outside to create a wider and more comfortable browsing zone for consumers. Contactless payments are also replacing standard physical point-of-sale transactions, using cards, mobile wallets, QR codes and pay-by-app/buy-in-store arrangements.

But the biggest innovations are coming to online retail. For example, Kendra Scott has rolled out augmented-reality functionality on its site so customers can “try on” jewelry virtually before buying it. And home-furnishing brands IKEA and Wayfair had been using augmented reality (AR) before the pandemic, but have expanded those capabilities so shoppers can virtually “insert” more furniture items into photos of their homes.

Beauty brand L’Oréal has also recently rolled out beauty AR lenses for Snap’s desktop app, while ASOS added AR to its product pages to give shoppers a simulated view of models wearing the retailer’s products.

ASOS began testing AR in early 2020 with an eye toward making it easier for customers to make product selection by exhibiting how products fit on models. Initially designed as a way to reduce returns, ASOS now looks at AR as a mechanism by which it can prime consumer interest in online shopping while brick-and-mortar retail’s Great Reopening slowly rolls forward.

In-store shopping has been on hold around much of the world for roughly three months, and the effects show dramatically in the numbers. U.S. retail sales fell more than 16 percent in April, although the damage has been far from evenly distributed.

General merchandise sales only fell 14 percent as stores that sell food and other essential items typically remained open. A spike in sales for household goods like toilet paper and cleaning supplies even helped that segment.

By contrast, apparel sales tumbled 89 percent in April, while furniture sales dropped 67 percent and electronics sales fell 65 percent.

Consumers facing fewer stores to go to have by and large converted their shopping to online, according to latest PYMNTS survey of U.S. consumers.

While only 10.3 percent of consumers reported shopping for retail goods online in early March as the pandemic was just beginning, 35.7 percent reported doing so as of May 23.

Originally posted
PYMNTS

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Gold Level Contributor

Digital-First Banking With A Human Feel

Great idea, perfect timing. That about sums up the enviable position in which digital-first banking finds itself post-pandemic, given the mass epiphany of the past three months: you don’t have to physically go near a bank to access the most advanced banking features available.

“Consumers are now leaning heavily on digital banking to meet their financial needs. Banking app downloads have increased 60 percent since the pandemic became widespread, with banking app revenue growing 17 percent,” according to PYMNTS’ May 2020 Digital-First Banking Tracker®, a collaboration with NCR.

“This digital banking shift is likely to continue after the pandemic recedes, too, with a recent study finding that just 46 percent of bank customers planned to return to ‘business as usual’ after the crisis. FIs are meeting these shifting customer demands by adding functionalities to their online offerings that were previously available only in branches, such as account openings and loan applications,” the Tracker states.

One does not simply walk into digital-first banking without preparation, however. Banks, and FinTechs particularly are blazing new trails for financial institutions (FIs) wishing to incorporate the best that digital-first banking has to offer, making integrations easier and outcomes better.

‘My Bank Knows Me’

Digital-first banking relies on application programming interfaces (APIs) — those clever bits of code that interface with core banking systems to perform specialized tasks — to power its appeal. And as good as APIs are getting, FIs are wise to remember the human element.

“Branch transactions have long been successful largely because of the personal interactions that consumers receive when visiting a branch and interacting with a teller [or] banker,” Doug Brown, senior vice president and general manager, NCR Digital Banking, told PYMNTS.

FIs and FinTechs are busy agreeing on standards for digital-only operations, and as things are tightened up on the back end, front end user experience is the promised land of personalization.

“As traffic to digital banking has increased and all indications appear to be that adoption will re- main high, it’s critical that financial institutions can still offer the personalized experiences that users desire,” Brown said. “Banks and credit unions collect an enormous amount of data for each of their users. By utilizing this data to drive individualized experiences and provide offers that are relevant and timely, institutions — especially [those that are] regional and community[-based] — can still provide the ‘my bank knows me’ feeling that people receive when they walk into their bank or credit union branch.”

APIs Accelerate Digital-First Adoption

Creating the feeling that “my bank knows me” completely online with little to no human contact between account holder and FI is no easy feat. APIs are accomplishing this for digital-only banks by replicating branch services and taking social distancing all the way.

“APIs have enabled banks to bring features online at a much faster pace as the FinTech partners that develop necessary apps can instantly access their APIs during creation,” according to the May 2020 Digital-First Banking Tracker®. “Some features were previously available only in bank branches, like loan applications, while others — such as access to emergency relief — are new measures intended to help customers through the current economic downturn.”

Originally published
PYMNTS

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Bronze Level Contributor

The B2B FinTech startup community continues to wade through market disruption with a relatively strong show of support from venture capitalists, despite an overall decline in VC funding across verticals. More is likely on the way, too.

As reported by Fortune this week, UBS Group is planning to establish a new venture capital fund to target corporate FinTech startups and companies looking to disrupt the traditional banking arena. UBS is setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars for the fund, and the bank plans to place between $10 million and $20 million in its investment targets. An unnamed source told the publication that UBS would hold stakes in these companies for at least five years, though details of the initiative are not yet finalized.

“UBS wants to further engage with and support FinTech firms,” said UBS Group Chief Information Officer Mike Dargan. “The new venture investment portfolio is a next step to accelerate our innovation and digitization efforts.”

In the meantime, B2B investors continue to support growth of the industry. This week’s B2B venture capital roundup takes a look at the more than $48 million placed with startups that seek to connect businesses with capital and keep B2B payments flowing through supply chains.

Mati

Mexico-based Mati, a payments cybersecurity startup, raised an undisclosed seed investment with equity provided from Spero Ventures, while Kima Ventures, Dorm Room Fund and Blackhorn Ventures also participated. Mati, which first formed in California, is focusing on the Latin American market with expansion into Brazil and Colombia, the company noted, according to Contxto reports. “These countries have the highest payment fraud rates in the world, which makes their identity issues the most interesting,” the firm’s Co-founder Filip Victor told the publication. As it expands, the company plans to use the funding to bolster its cybersecurity product.

Suryoday Small Finance Bank

India’s Suryoday Small Finance Bank has announced an $8.2 million private equity fundraise this week led by Gaja Capital, while Kotak Mahindra Life Company and Lok Capital, among others, also participated, according to a recent TechGraph report. Suryoday targets small and medium-sized businesses with lending services and other banking products. In a statement, the firm’s Co-founder and CEO R Baskar Babu said the investment “comes in just as we started reengineering our business processes and digitizing them, including our microfinance vertical, so this is a strong backing to pursue our plans.”

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Originally published
PYMNTS
 



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Bronze Level Contributor

To help users manage everyday finances, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. has announced a new mobile-focused money management experience called Samsung Money by SoFi. The technology company said the account is secure and offers rewards for those who save, with “higher interest relative to the national average of transactional accounts.”

Users can decide to open an individual or joint cash management account with Samsung Money by SoFi. Additionally, users can receive an in-network automated teller machine (ATM) reimbursement at over 55,000 U.S. locations. The virtual card will immediately display in Samsung Pay at the time of approval.

When customers receive their physical debit cards, they can open Samsung Pay and tap to activate the card. The card number, CVV and expiration date will not be shown on the physical debit card, but customers can find the information in the Samsung Pay app’s “Money” tab, which the company said is safeguarded by biometric or PIN authentication.

Sang Ahn, vice president and GM of Samsung Pay, said in the announcement, “Samsung’s goal is to make everyday life better by putting powerful tools in the hands of Galaxy users. Samsung Money by SoFi is our biggest move yet to help users do more with their money.”

Samsung Money by SoFi, which will start to become available to U.S. consumers later this summer, will also allow users to see their balances, browse transactions or look at past statements with a tap of the Samsung Pay app. Users can also modify their pins, set their trusted contacts, flag suspicious activities, freeze or unfreeze their cards, or halt or start spending again through the app.

In separate news, Samsung Pay rolled out Samsung Pay Cash last year.  The product was previously described as a means of managing a user’s budget and keeping funds in Samsung Pay like cash in a wallet.

Originally published
PYMNTS
 

 

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Bronze Level Contributor

London-based global payment provider Checkout.com has purchased Pin Payments, an Australian startup, the companies announced Tuesday (May 26).

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The purchase allows Checkout access to Australia’s $33 billion eCommerce market and expands the company’s reach in the Asia Pacific region of the globe.

Checkout.com faces competition from Stripe, a San Francisco technology company that allows businesses to make and receive payments over the internet, and Adyen, a Dutch payment company that provides businesses a way to accept eCommerce, mobile and point-of-sale payments.

Founded in 2013 by Grant Bissett and Dominic Pym, Pin Payments serves more than 12,000 businesses across Australia and New Zealand. It supports eCommerce platforms and shopping carts including WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento by providing a way for companies to accept card payments from customers.

Saying Pin Payments was the first unified approach to payments for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Australia, the acquisition announcement said the firm crafted developer-friendly technology and a streamlined process to reduce time to market from weeks to days.

The acquisition provides Pin Payments’ SMB merchants with improved payments’ performance and international growth opportunities, the companies said.

Bissett said Pin Payments was born out of a desire to offer businesses a simple way to get paid online and be on a level playing field with the competition.

“This marks the next natural move for us and offers our merchants access to Checkout.com’s global acquiring footprint,” Bissett said in a statement.

Checkout Founder and CEO Guillaume Pousaz said Australia is a key market for the firm’s business.

“The acquisition of Pin Payments represents our investment to serve Australian entrepreneurs with world-class technology and a truly global acquiring network,” Pousaz said in a statement. “In Pin Payments, we found an awesome team who shared a similar dedication to solving problems for businesses with innovative financial technology.”

In February, as reported here, Checkout bought ProcessOut, a French payment company, for an undisclosed sum. It was the first acquisition for Checkout.com, which raised a Series A round of $230 million last year. The transaction valued the company at nearly $2 billion, making it Europe’s largest FinTech Series A round at the time.

Late last month, Checkout was the first payments firm to join Facebook’s Libra Association after Visa, Mastercard and Stripe exited the program in October. The group was founded by Facebook to launch the social media company’s entry into digital currency.

Originally published
PYMNTS
 

 

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Silver Level Contributor

When the pandemic is over, there will be thousands of books written about the ways the coronavirus changed daily life, globally.

Among those will be – or should be – a tome on how the great shift to digital commerce drove merchants to connect to multiple services.

In an interview with Karen Webster, Justin Benson, CEO of Spreedly, said the shift is a critical one, requiring merchants to rethink how they approach payments and, as a result, optimize revenues.

As PYMNTS found in a study published earlier this month, 42 percent of consumers are engaging in even the most routine activities online, and as much as $158 billion in brick-and-mortar sales are moving to digital channels. That means companies of all sizes and across all verticals must examine how successful they are when it comes to payment conversion rates.

And to boost conversion rates, merchants can embrace payment orchestration, which involves using a combination of different payment methods and platforms to satisfy a range of consumer preferences.
 

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Originally posted by:
pymnts.com
May 21st, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

B2B FinTechs and financial service providers are taking a variety of routes to optimizing both accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) operations with a single solution.

For some providers, technology that sits between buyers and suppliers supports financing for suppliers while enabling buyers to hold onto working capital. Others embrace payments automation to reduce administrative burdens on both ends. Below, PYMNTS looks at the latest tools that bridge the gap between AR and AP.

Mastercard Optimizes Capital For Buyers, Suppliers

Mastercard debuted its Mastercard Track Business Payment Service this week, a B2B payments service designed to address friction for both buyers and suppliers.

To optimize working capital, suppliers can have greater control over how they receive payment from different buyers, while buyers can obtain early payment discounts and manage cash flow. The solution will first support Mastercard’s card rails, with added support for ACH later on.

In a statement, Mastercard’s James Anderson, executive vice president of Global Commercial Products, said it’s important for B2B payments technologies to address both AR and AP friction.

“We realized that we needed to apply the techniques that work so well in consumer payments: delivering value to both buyers and suppliers, embracing standardization, driving scale by working with the most capable partners and by creating incentives to drive behavioral changes by the participants,” he said in a statement.

Process Mining Tackles AR-AP Friction

As sophisticated data analytics technologies move deeper into AP and AR workflows, process mining is exploring the opportunity to address friction in both.

In a recent conversation with PYMNTSCelonis Vice President of Business Models and Enablement Jan Philipp Thomsen discussed the opportunity for process mining to not only identify workflow bottlenecks in AR and AP processes, but to automatically identify how to solve them.

This is particularly important for ensuring cash continues to flow both in and out of the enterprise between business partners.

“Accounts payable and accounts receivable are the most in-demand areas within finance that we’re looking at,” said Thomsen. “They’re clear levers for bolstering liquidity, which is very important right now amid COVID-19. Companies were trying to stay competitive [before the pandemic]. Now, they’re trying to stay afloat. So, the ability to pivot from one goal to another is key to being resilient.”

Azzurro Associates Steps Into Invoice Finance

In the U.K., finance solutions provider Azzurro Associates is stepping into the B2B space for the first time to finance unpaid invoices, according to a press release. The company announced an effort to bolster at least £1 billion (about $1.22 billion) to finance unpaid receivables, a financing offering that could help B2B suppliers on the AR side to access much needed capital, while enabling B2B buyers on the AP side to continue strategically extending payment terms.

In an effort to help businesses struggling to manage capital as a result of the pandemic, Azzurro Associates said it is differentiating itself from other factoring companies by offering to finance overdue and written-off invoices, not only outstanding invoices.

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PYMNTS
 



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Gold Level Contributor

Bitwala, a Berlin-based crypto-friendly bank, has joined forces with Celsius, a leading crypto lending platform, to offer its clients up to four percent annual interest on their Bitcoin (BTC) holdings. With the innovative initiative, Bitwala has become the first-ever traditional bank to offer users interest on their crypto holdings, according to reports on May 14, 2020.

Bitwala Bank Gets Even Better 

At a time when interest in the world’s flagship cryptocurrency is at a very strong point, with bitcoin enthusiasts anticipating another strong bull run, Bitwala has joined forces with Celsius Network to spice up the party for Bitcoin (BTC) hodlers.

Per sources close to the matter, regulated German neobank Bitwala has joined forces with Celsius crypto lending platform to make it possible for clients to earn up to four percent interest annually on their bitcoin deposits.

While a handful of decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms including BlockFi, Constant and ETHlend offer users interest on their bitcoin holdings, Bitwala has made history as the first regulated fiat bank to achieve such a milestone.

Founded in 2015, Bitwala is under license from Germany’s SolarisBank and the former boasts over 80,000 customers, with a presence in 32 European jurisdictions. Bitwala says its users can purchase and hold as little as EUR 10 ($10.8) and earn weekly interests.  

The firm says interest rates are calculated by Celcius every week based on the demand for bitcoin by institutional borrowers. Importantly, Bitwala has made it clear that the service comes with no additional fees. 

Commenting on the innovative initiative, Ben Jones, CEO of Bitwala reiterated that the move is a forward-thinking maneuver, especially at this when the world is battling with the COVID-19 induced financial crisis.

In his words:

At this time, more and more people rust in Bitcoin. Bitwala is the everyday bridge to it. We are now partnering with Celsius Network, a leading provider of crypto loans so that our customers can leverage bitcoin holdings wherever they are.” 

Bitwala offers users regular banking and cryptocurrency trading services through its app or on desktop. Users are also provided with a contactless Mastercard debit card for seamless fund withdrawals. 

It’s worth noting that the gap between traditional finance and the cryptospace is gradually closing up with each passing day.

As reported by BTCManager on May 12, America’s largest bank, JPMorgan inked a partnership deal with leading cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase, and Gemini. The deal will enable JPMorgan to offer banking services to the bitcoin trading platforms.

Originally posted
by Ogwu Osaemezu Emmanuel on May 14, 2020
BTC Manager

 

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Bronze Level Contributor

Sometimes illness can have a happy ending. It’s certainly a story that resonates right now and Fast CEO Domm Holland is happy to tell it. It started a few years ago when Holland’s son was briefly hospitalized and his wife’s grandmother was visiting to help the family. One of the grandmother’s chores on a particular day was ordering groceries online. What should have been a simple transaction became complicated when she couldn’t remember her password or reset it.

The idea for Fast was born in that one frustrating experience.

“Fast forward to today,” Holland said. “There’s over a billion people [sheltering] in place in their house and primarily they’re ordering groceries online, I mean they’re ordering virtually everything online. It’s just ironic sort of timing that the problem we were trying to solve that day has been concentrated. So COVID is really sort of homing in on our absolute skillset and so it’s a really fascinating event versus a horrible tragic time.”

Fast was co-founded by Holland and COO Allison Barr Allen. Holland has founded and led multiple companies in Australia while Allen previously led global product operations for Uber’s Money Team. The company they founded has two products: Fast Login and Fast Checkout. Both facilitate a one-click sign-in and purchasing experience through any browser, device or platform.

Fast Login was its entry into the eCommerce market. Fast Checkout launches this week. Holland is capitalizing on the shopping cart abandonment rate of up to 80 percent of potential purchases, largely due to friction during checkout such as the one that could not be completed by his in-law. He says he is trying solve for the fact that consumers are forced to fill out an average of 23 fields just to make a single online purchase. Fast Login and Checkout means that those fields are filled out just once, eliminating passwords and login info for future purchases.

Holland says the past few months have been full of retailers trying to recover lost ground in the eCommerce logistics race.

“Smaller, independent and local businesses are rightly fearing for their livelihood,” he said. “Nobody wants a future where retail is dominated by a few major players because they had the tools and resources to capitalize on a crisis. Businesses who embrace digital and focus on the customer experience online will be in a better position to rebound and thrive when we come out on the other side of COVID-19 and its immediate impact. The key is to meet customers where they are by understanding their pain points, anxieties and new ways of thinking, and be willing to be creative and flexible in the process.”

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Originally published
PYMNTS
 

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