CrossTech THE MAGAZINE OF THE CROSS BORDER PAYMENTS INDUSTRY
Pix and Digital Payments: A Brazilian Success Story | AROUND THE GLOBE
Eastern European War | AROUND THE GLOBE
Mergers & Acquisitions in the Financial Market | COMING OUT
"Challenge your own assumptions and question your actions."
ALBERTO GUERRA CEO, UniTeller
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Priscilla D'Oliveira Friedman Priscilla comes with an extensive background in operations management, strategy, process improvement, consulting and training. She started her career in American Express where she led a variety of teams in the call center industry (executive customer care, dispute resolution network and social media response team).
EDITOR Hugo Cuevas-Mohr CO-EDITOR Priscilla D’Oliveira Friedman WEB EDITOR Virginia Martínez DIGITAL PRODUCT MANAGER Ana González CREATIVE MANAGER Carolina Busnelli CONTACT US AT María Auxiliadora García email@example.com
In this monthly edition of CrossTech Magazine, we cover the accelerated advances that the financial industry is experiencing, with a particular emphasis on what is happening in Brazil- with the innovative payment system called PIX. PIX is positioning Brazil at the forefront in the digitization race, becoming a benchmark worldwide and capturing the attention of other countries, regulators, compliance experts, and the cross-border payment industry looking to emulate their system. Last month, we hosted the largest and most important conference in Latin America; CROSSTECH LATAM 2022. We were joined by more than 200 industry experts from worldwide known companies, drivers of innovation who lead the evolution of crossborder payments, and Fintechs. Due to its incredible success we are excited to announce the opportunity of reliving and continuing learning from extraordinary discussions on our most relevant industry matters. Watch our virtual conference event, published on Whova and our YouTube channel. Discover the latest information about the CROSSTECH COMPLIANCE 2022 Conference
The views and opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and contributors and do not necessarily reflect the position of CrossTech, The Platinum Network or IMTC. The content here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as investment, business, co mp lian ce, or lega l ad v i ce. Co n ten t contained within this publication is not to be reproduced in whole or part without the prior written consent of the company. We welcome quotes of our articles by mentioning “CrossTech Magazine” or #crosstech and share the quote with us using our social media channels.
in Miami on June 21-22. Learn from the best and get a deep understanding of current compliance challenges, cybersecurity implementation, and disaster recovery focused on strategically redesigning management efforts to drive the company's sustainable growth. Please take advantage of our course on the first day, where we will focus on AML Policies and Risk Assessments and get certified with 9 CAMS credits. Knowledge is power, and making a difference is our mission. We will continue to position our clients, partners, and new technology companies to impact the cross-border payment industry. Follow us and stay tuned for more information that we will provide you. Remember, this is a space for us members of the industry; if you have any particular content that you would like to see or co-write an article with us, please email us at help@ crosstechpayments.com
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AROUND THE GLOBE Pix and Digital Payments: A Brazilian Success Story Page 6
Eastern European War Page 10
Alberto Guerra Industry Leader Page 18
COMING OUT Mergers & Acquisitions in the Financial Market Page 14
TO KEEP IN MIND Early Detection & Correction Parameters Allow for Effective Analysis Page 16
FINTEL INSIGHTS Evolution of CrossBorder Payments Page 22
CROSSTECH INTERVENTIONS Participation on webinars and events on 2Q - 2022 o Page 26
LATAM 2022 Panels with insights for the industry in 2022 o Page 28
Pix and Digital Payments: A Brazilian Success Story Notorious for its bureaucracy and complexities, Brazil has created one of the most efficient payment systems in Latin America, with blow-out numbers proving its success. XT
AROUND THE GLOBE
Pix is the name given to a system created by the Brazilian Central Bank to bring instant payments to everyone in the country. Through Pix, all wallets that use QR Codes will be interoperable, meaning transfers and fees will be allowed from one e-wallet to another in real-time, 24/7. Pix was announced in the summer of 2019 and was fully operational on November 16, 2020, to spur competition in the country’s banking industry. The launch of Pix turned out to be well-timed. With businesses closed during the pandemic, cash at points of sale decreased by 25% in 2020, according to a report from Brazilian Central Bank and their 2021 EOY report states that the system has already made more than 6 billion transactions, equal to more than 3.75 trillion BRL, or about 682 billion USD.
MASSIVE USE The massive use and acceptance of Pix by users and commercial establishments in the Brazilian economy had a fundamental impact in positioning Brazil in the Top 5 of countries that report growth in Digital Real-Time Payments in Latin America. During the past year, Pix has positioned itself as one of the most powerful initiatives and resolutions of the Brazilian Central Bank focused on creating growth opportunities in the formal and informal market. Companies have been able to increase monthly profits, experience sales growth, and generate capital to invest and grow.
presenting Pix as the solution to make financial inclusion simpler to achieve. Pix was created to help reduce - and probably facilitate - cash transactions, reduce the cost of maintaining paper money in circulation for the government, offer an alternative to existing payment instruments, and become a faster and Pix is today one of the most accepted
more accessible payment option. Brazilian
payment methods, and its popularity,
leaders aim to include everybody in society
including those who at some point felt
by giving them essential financial services
excluded by the digital world, has impacted
regardless of their income or savings
Brazil’s economy. In 2017, only 70% of
through the successful incorporation of Pix
the Brazilian population was considered
in everyday economic activities.
“banked,” according to the Central Bank, leaving 48 million people without access to
How is Pix going to be integrated by
a debit card, credit card, or bank account.
companies and services in cross border
Regardless, the unbanked population in
payments? Will it help remittances, both
Brazil moves nearly 204 billion USD of the
incoming and outgoing? How is this going
country’s economy per year.
Pix is bringing part of this unbanked
How will companies and services integrate
Pix in cross-border payments? Will it help
helping with the way they move money
remittances, both incoming and outgoing?
around, creating a new payment method
How is this going to happen? All these
that takes out the need of dealing with
questions were considered while planning
traditional banks and the cultural baggage
our event CROSSTECH LATAM in Brazil
that leads people not to trust them; this
in Sao Paulo. And it was there during our
system can also cut off some of the high
conference that we were able to answer
fees of credit and debit card usage. Brazil
these questions and understand how Pix
embraces advances in financial technology
has become an essential financial resource
for everyday national and international
growth opportunities for entrepreneurs XT
CROSSTECH LATAM 2022 PIX Brazil's competitive advantage for the region and the world
Learn about the early creative collaborations between the Brazilian Central Bank and Carlos Neto as a turning point in the evolution of Pix and the digital transformation in the Brazilian market. Discover the impact and importance of Pix in Brazil and explore the incredible possibilities it brings to companies. Come across with the main Pix learnings and safety guidelines as Carlos Neto unfolds what are the expected next steps - PIX for the future.
Eastern European War Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine and the impact on migration and Cross Border payments The Russian’s federation invasion of Ukraine has triggered an international response which translates into sanctions and companies leaving Russia. How will the Cross Border payments community be affected, and what has the reaction been so far? XT
AROUND THE GLOBE
On February 24th, 2022, the Russian
up to 12% of that year’s GDP with an
Federation initiated an invasion of the
amount exceeding $19 bn, and it's
sovereign country of Ukraine, thus setting
expected to increase by 22% or more
off a world condemnation response
due to the effects of the war in 2022.
against Russia’s actions which translated
On the first day of the invasion, there
into a series of sanctions (Primarily from
was a spike in remittances to Ukraine
NATO/EU countries) that have had a direct
of 120% on a single day. Due to the war,
and indirect impact relation with Cross
remittances to Ukraine and refugee
accepting countries (Such as Poland, Moldova, etc.) will have a noticeable
Remittances to Ukraine in 2021 added
increase in incoming remittances.
I MPACT OF R U SSIA-U KRAINE CONFLICT ON REM IT TANCES Flows to Ukraine are likely to increase while those to other countries in Central Asia are likely to decline
% of exports & services, 2020
Originally projected growth rate, 2020
Revised projection of growth rate for 2022*
% of GDP, 2020
Share of remittances from Russia, 20221 Q1-Q3
Remittance inflows, 2020 ($mn)
Sources: Bank of Russia and KNOMAD-World Bank Note: * Assuming decline of 40% in remittances from Russia. Projected growth rates for other source countries are assumed to remain unchanged from those reported in the Migration and Development Brief 35 (KNOMAD–World Bank, November 2021)v
The sanctions placed on the Federation of Russia will have implications for the Russian people and all those central Asia countries that depend on remittances from family members working in Russia. Some of the countries that are expected to be harshly impacted by this are: the Kyrgyz Republic, whose remittances per GDP is as high as 31%, and 83% of those came from Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are also expected to be heavily impacted since more than 50% of their remittances came from Russia. Knomad
expecting a growth in the central Asian area of 3% for this year, but a revised number of -25% has been shared due to the war and its implications. Table 1. Impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict on remittances—Flows to Ukraine are likely to increase while those to other countries in Central Asia are likely to decline. CONDEMNATION FROM THE PAYMENTS COMMUNITY The world has come together in a show of unprecedented solidarity toward the victims of the war, and companies have begun closing operations in Russia to apply pressure on the government to stop their actions. The payment community has also raised its voices to support Ukrainians and their plight. Companies
Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, American Express, XT
Russian Banks Removed from SWIFT VTB Bank Otkritie Novikomabnk Promsvyazbank Bank Rossiya Sovcombank VEB Mastercard, Visa, and Moodys have closed operations in Russia either partially or fully. Remittance companies have joined together to support Ukrainians in these difficult times and have agreed to remove all fees for transaction headings toward Ukraine. Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria Money Transfer, Intel Express, and TransferGo have made the transactions towards Ukraine at no cost. Euronet (the biggest ATM company in Europe) has also removed all fees for Ukrainian ATMs. Wise, Remitly, Zepz, and TransferGo have also stopped/blocked their services in Russia. But… Is this enough? And is the scope enough? With the central bank sanctions, SWIFT removals, and Ruble price drop, Russian citizens are also being affected and under severe constraints. And since Ukrainian refugees are fleeing their country, measures should also extend to neighboring countries, especially those accepting a high number of refugees. Remittances have always had a
shouldn’t leave anyone behind. 13
& Acquisitions in the
In 2021, the US mergers and acquisitions (M & M&A) market saw unprecedented deal volume and value increases. 2022 looks to be a busy year for financial services deal-making, especially considering greater optimism about the economic recovery even with the incertitude that post-pandemic inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine brings. XT
There’s no doubt that the financial market's competitive and regulatory landscape is shifting. Financial organizations will continually assess their portfolios to determine their strategies regarding which markets and businesses to operate in. M&A plays a central role in those strategies. The key areas to watch for mergers and acquisitions this year are the private equity sector, fintech, and divestitures. FINTECH
Most M&A in the fintech space this year will likely come from organizations’ needs for better technology and talent and the expansion into new markets. M&As are a quick, efficient way for financial services organizations to gain the kind of talent that will propel them forward and help them keep pace with their competitors.
Large financial services (FS) firms appear to be continuing the 2021 trend of identifying and divesting from unprofitable business components. Expect more of these distressed FS assets to appear on the M&A market shortly. Some of them are intriguing. Although most analysts believe that B2B is growing as a cross-border payment sector of the industry, the Western Union Company sold Western Union Business Solutions recently to XXXX. It will be interesting to see the growth of the new company that has been formed, branded Contreva.
Most of the time, M&As begin with partnerships between companies seeking to gain access to distribution networks, the provision of alternative services and products, and an easier way to establish a brand across many geographies. Once those partnerships are in place, M&As can be more successful in the long term.
LOOKING AHEAD There’s no reason to doubt that 2022 will be yet another year of robust M&A activity in the financial market. Fintech-related M&A will likely lead the way. Most crossborder payment start-ups jumping into the market are finding private investors willing to risk their capital to have an early start in some of these companies that might be the unicorns of tomorrow.
PRIVATE EQUITY The pandemic took its toll on every industry, and financial services businesses were no exception. Private equity players specializing in distressed assets are primed to jump on those opportunities and acquire various financial services targets. Life insurance annuities and payment technologies are of particular interest.
CrossTech Consultants CEO Hugo Cuevas-Mohr noted: “When I meet with these start-ups, my job is to use my experience to strategize, fine-tune their vision and help them with successful pilots that will give them the experience they need to get funding, become stronger and learn in the process. Sometimes they need regulatory advice, compliance guidance, find partners, look at past failures, etc. An experienced point of view is critical. I think”. 15
As a part of the independent review process and ongoing compliance requirements, it is recommended that all money transmitters have an automated, rules-based transaction monitoring system in place.
EARLY DETECTION & CORRECTION PARAMETERS ALLOW FOR
he fundamentals of transaction monitoring are implemented systems to i d e n t i f y a n d protect institutions f rom transactions that are not compliant with The Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Off ice of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A TRANSACTION MONITORING SYSTEM In order to properly monitor transactions, the system should aggregate, analyze and detect money laundering, terrorist f inancing or other red flags.
AGGREGATE The system should aggregate across multiple locations, brands and products.
ANALYZE It’s one thing to aggregate data, but you want a system to analyze and interpret the information you put into it. Therefore you want a system that can build in custom business and compliance rulesets that f it your business’ risk thresholds.
DETECT Your monitoring system should be able to incorporate your company’s rules to detect high risk activity such as structuring, smurf ing and flipping.
AUTOMATE Our company prefers automated systems for monitoring since pivot tools are increasingly dated and archaic. Larger amounts of data make it diff icult to use pivot tables effectively. In addition, automation saves labor time and cost for businesses.
Kyle Oden, CAMS
| Head of Operations
TO KEEP IN MIND
FUZZY NAME LOGIC Linking a single customer’s data across multiple platforms can be diff icult. Monitoring systems should be smart enough to identify similar names and customer data f rom multiple databases. For instance, if you are using two Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, or one system for check cashing and one system for money transmitting, you should be able to pull that information together and identify if the transactions are originating f rom the same person.
As an example, a monitoring system should recognize that John Smith and John A. Smith are the same person if they also have the same phone number and live at the same address.
INTEGRATED CTR/SAR FILING Integration to the BSA e-f iling site eliminates the need to double enter information when it is already available through your POS system(s). There are a few recommended transaction monitoring systems tailored to the industry that automate Currency Transaction Report (CTR)/Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) f iling for remittance companies.
CASE MANAGEMENT FOR BACK-END REVIEW A monitoring system should store records of f iled and non-f iled CTRs/SARs for future review.
REAL-TIME DATA AGGREGATION Real-time aggregation is a bonus if you can invest the time to integrate your POS systems directly with your monitoring tools. Aggregating and monitoring your MSB activity on an ongoing basis is expected by regulators and will be tested by your examiners.
For additional information about Transaction Monitoring, feel f ree to inquire about a demo on Compliance IQ, our proprietary aggregation and analyzation software.
Follow us 17
ALBERTO GUERRA |
XT. What are your top 3 life lessons?
Challenge your own assumptions and question your actions. How can you keep your professional life interesting? How can you add value to your company, to your industry, to your customers, and your mind?
AG. Life is a continuous learning experience, and I have learned many lessons throughout the years, some from personal experiences and some from watching others. No matter the source of these lessons, there is a significant difference between practical and theoretical experiences.
Create plans that allow flexibility. If plans A and B fail, there are 24 more letters in the alphabet. Questioning your actions and planning are just as important, but so is flexibility. Flexibility will allow you to take calculated risks and make better choices.
On a personal note: Happiness is a journey, not a destination
It’s important to enjoy and appreciate where you are and what you are doing. The key is to enjoy the present moment, the process, and take what life brings you in good character. It’s important to have fun doing what you do, but it’s more important to believe in what you do.
So, question your choices and actions often to make room for growth, learning, and innovation.
XT. What are the current opportunities within the industry? AG. I see cross-border payments within a portfolio of services that people and individuals really need. It is vital for customers to have access to cross-border payments that are efficient, affordable, and provide a seamless experience.
It’s also crucial not to wait for happiness to arrive magically out of nowhere. It does not always work that way. Happiness is a byproduct of living a life that you love. It happens when you make a difference in others’ lives and derive fulfillment from doing so. So, strive each day to impact those around you in positive ways. And in times when things don't work in your favor, don't let the setbacks deviate you from your journey.
Companies in the industry need to improve their processes by delivering an experience to both the sender and receiver through a more comprehensive digital platform. The use of AI continues to gain popularity because it provides tangible results to businesses and enhances the overall customer experience. It’s an essential tool for businesses looking to provide a hyper-personalized customer experience. Companies need to identify how access to this level of data management helps reduce risk and delivers value to our customers.
Enjoy your children
They really do grow up in the blink of an eye. Enjoy and celebrate every phase of their lives and watch your mutual bond grow into a lifetime of precious memories. On a professional note: Keep moving, keep learning, and innovate
Companies, products, services, and ideas constantly evolve in today's globalized world. Sitting around and doing the same thing repeatedly will not bring about a different outcome.
XT. How would you like to be remembered? AG. This is a very profound question. Those who know me well know that I am honest 19
about who I am and what they can expect of me. If I dislike something, I'll show it one way or another. I am always honest about how I see and perceive things. But hopefully, I will always be remembered as someone who is honest, straightforward, and constantly wants to build bridges among friends and acquaintances alike.
XT. What do you like to do in your spare time? AG. It all depends on the occasion. I enjoy traveling and planning my vacations. I also enjoy the simple things in life, like dinner with family or friends, if possible, along with a good glass of wine. I enjoy reading and watching documentaries in multiple genres, including History, Biographies, Business, Business Behavior, and Analytics. I also enjoy spending quality time with my family, watching my son play soccer, and having an after-dinner conversation on current events or politics.
Eventually, when I have more spare time, I would love to learn to fly an airplane, and who knows, maybe one day get a license.
XT. What inspires you in the crossborder payments industry today? AG. Technology and innovation are inspiring, but what I admire and what inspires me the most is the outstanding quality and inspiration of so many people and leaders driving the dialogue, the expansion, and the growth of our industry. I consider myself fortunate to have highly qualified and committed colleagues at UniTeller that are the very definition and source of my inspiration. Plus, I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to meet and interact with brilliant minds from across the globe, all striving to achieve the one common goal of making our industry and their companies more efficient in order to deliver that value to their business clients and the end consumer.
EVOLUTION OF CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS It’s no understatement to say that the landscape of cross-border payments looks radically different today compared to a few years ago. VERY EARLY CROSS-BORDER PAYMENTS
here were only three ways to make cross-border payments for most of history. A person could carry physical currency or valuables with them as they traveled over borders, have an acquaintance or a courier to transport the money (people working on boats and planes), or use a broker network founded on trust, such as the Hawala systems. These methods came with signif icant drawbacks, namely unreliability, high cost and risk levels, and ineff iciency. Still, there were simply no other cross-border payment options for a long time until some signif icant advances revolutionized the industry.
DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
The development of the Telex network of teleprinters in Germany in the 1930s completely changed the way people made cross-border payments. With the advent of this technology, banks could communicate internationally through written messages and settle transactions that way. Telex was the primary means for making cross-border payments until the 1970s, when SWIFT unseated it.
USING SWIFT GLOBAL NETWORK
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS USING SWIFT GLOBAL NETWORK
THE FAX AND THE REMITTANCE INDUSTRY
SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, was a new revolution in banking communications. SWIFT created a shared language that banks could use for sharing payment data internationally on a trusted network. Today, it remains a key global network used in more than 200 countries and by over 10,000 f inancial institutions. SWIFT has modernized itself through the years, becoming an exclusive network for banks, primarily used by the wealthiest members of society and large companies.
The large migration spurred by the second world war, followed in the 70s and 80s by the wave of migrants f rom Latin America to the US and migrants f rom the European colonies to Western Europe, saw the remittance industry's beginning. Largely unseen by most of the population of the destination countries, ethnic money transfer companies began serving their communities everywhere. Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs), such as Forex f irms, kept on using alternative ways to settle and transfer funds, and soon, a new technological breakthrough revolutionized communication: the Fax.
“The race for all-digital channels is on, and the pandemic spurred this growth at the same time that the market is expanding with new use cases, new market segments, bill payment ecosystems, and B2B developments.”
These remittance companies developed large networks of payment channels for the poor left unattended by banks. They became prof icient in implementing new technologies as they became available (internet, etc.), developing sophisticated AML and CTF control systems. Cashbased ecosystems with on and off-ramps became eff icient, and even with all the challenges faced (derisking, debanking, regulatory), the remittance industry grew exponentially.
environment, both regulatory and in terms of bank partnerships, as governments want to support innovation and the contribution of young entrepreneurs.
THE ARRIVAL OF FINTECH
Technology and digitalization spurred the development of the Fintech industry, and after early success in domestic ecosystems, NBFIs made a move into the crossborder payments space. Almost all the cross-border f intechs partner with the traditional payment networks developed in the 80s and 90s.
THE ARRIVAL OF BLOCKCHAIN AND CRYPTO
How will Blockchain and Crypto impact the cross-border payment industry? The best answer is, overall, it is too soon to tell. But it is essential to understand that there are clear examples where partnerships between cross-border payment companies, both traditional and digital, have streamlined settlement systems in different corridors and have developed alternative networks that benef it several payment channels. In some cases, they have solved issues related to the diff iculties many NBFIs have in establishing reliable banking partnerships. Even SWIFT is looking for ways to develop alliances with f intechs to f ind ways to keep being relevant today.
Soon, Fintech applications spread, and the early migrant adopters, primarily the most educated and the young, found a way to make fast, cost-effective cross-border payments 100% digitally in the origination, while in the destination markets, banks, mobile payment companies, and f intechs began transforming the payment ecosystem. The race for all-digital channels is on, and the pandemic spurred this growth at the same time that the market is expanding with new use cases, new market segments, bill payment ecosystems, and B2B developments. These f intechs have found a more empathetic XT
The cross-border payments space is growing by leaps and bounds. 24
AROUND THE WORLD Our CEO Hugo Cuevas-Mohr had the pleasure to discuss Cash & Crypto on a great panel with Robert Kopitsch and Thamim Ahmed, moderated masterfully by Carola Ferstl at the Global Currency Forum in Barcelona. He explained how the cross-border payments industry is turning to crypto solutions for the settlement issues we face as part of derisking and debanking of most of our ethnic money transfer companies and international MSBs.
The GLOBAL CURRENCY FORUM, created by the global currency industry association- the ICA, is a future-focused, thought leadership event addressing the future role of cash in a rapidly changing payment landscape. This FORUM showcases innovation and new technologies, share global best practices, offer sustainable solutions, and host frank and controversial conversations aimed at exploring some of the critical questions facing our industry: What is the future role of cash as a public good in economies across the globe? Can societies afford to lose the specific characteristics of cash, which acts as a form of power sharing between governments, central banks, businesses and individual citizens? How can we as the currency industry reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to sustainability? How will digitalisation increase the efficiency of the cash cycle? Will a combination of cash and digital payments soon require a completely different approach to a digital currency cycle?
Watch Priscilla D’Oliveira Friedman speaking in a free training cycle of ConnectAmericas and BID INTAL, Rota da mpmeExportadora. Topics will help SMEs adopt tools to analyze, adapt and expand their potential for trade and integration on a global projection.
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