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THE POWER50.COM

THE FINTECHTIMES.COM

EDITION 30 THE WORLD'S FINTECH NEWSPAPER

SEI: Are partnerships the future in financial services?

Rethinking Financial Services

Banking Circle

with Open Banking

Payments Innovations for SME Financial Inclusion

page 6

page 8

Are our biggest financial institutions about to become the (not so blameless) victims of a global cyber war?

INSTITUTIONAL CYBERSECURITY Page 4

page 12

Disrupting a traditional and low-tech industry By Harinder Sandhu, EmpoweRD

page 7

Why Open Banking is about to have its Coming of Age By Andy Sleigh, ClearScore page 9

No Man is an Island... TFT Reports from the Isle of Man page 10

A Platform on a Cloud The Financial Industry’s Bright New Horizon, By Martin Haering, Finastra page 14

Industry Learns from the Fiascos of the Past. Just Kidding! Capital One Hacked… A TFT Feature page 16

Who’s the Baddest Kid on the Block?

- Page 19

Disrupting the Disrupters with Standards Digital Private Placements report by US Capital Global page 22

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Read online at: thefintechtimes.com & thepower50.com


EDITORS NOTE THE FIN TECH TIMES

Bringing Fintech to the World Editorial Enquiries:

editor@thefintechtimes.com

CEO:

Katia Lang

Digital Editor:

Charley Brooke Barnett

Designer:

Somari van der Westhuizen Published by Disrupts Media Limited 40 Islington High St, London N1 8E United Kingdom

CEO:

Jason Williams

COO:

Mark Walker Rise London, 41 Luke Street, London EC2A 4DP United Kingdom

EDITOR’S NOTE

R

arely a day goes by in fintech land where the debate of the legacy institution and the challenger isn’t heard. It’s the David vs Goliath story of modern banking. Usually, it follows a similar narrative. The challenger will be identified as ‘plucky’, ‘agile’ or ‘disruptive’, whilst the legacy will be nicknamed something along the lines of ‘ageing’ and ‘archaic’. No matter which institution you side with, and regardless of whether you’re based in Canary Wharf or Shoreditch, London fintech is an incredibly exciting movement to be a part of right now. With each digital bank promising to offer

the latest and greatest features, the challengers are certainly giving the incumbents a run for their money. Matthew Dove steps in to referee the fight on page 19, in his feature “Monzo vs Revolut vs N26 vs Starling: Who’s the Baddest Challenger on the Block?” As the cybersecurity threat level evolves, CyLon’s Taylan Durmus sets the record straight on page 5, sharing his thoughts on ‘AI’ buzzwords and the Huawei debate. TFT also had the pleasure of catching up with fintech guru Charlotte Crosswell (CEO of Innovate Finance), to discuss the true value proposition of fintech on page 20.

CHARLEY BROOKE BARNETT Digital Editor

Dive in, dear reader! uTFT

Copyright The Fintech Times 2019. Reproduction of the contents in any manner is not permitted without the publisher's prior consent. "The Fintech Times" and "Fintech Times" are registered UK trademarks of Disrupts Media Limited.

CONNECT WITH US /fintech-times /thefintechtimes /thefintechtimes thefintechtimes.com /the-fintech-power50 /thepower_50 thepower50.com

2 I Edition 30

The Fintech Power 50 & Fintech Times


T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

Carlos Torres Vila

Ralph Hamers CEO ING (NL)

CEO Société Générale (FR)

F. Villeroy de Galhau

Jose Manuel Campa

Steven Maijoor Chair ESMA (FR)

Director General CSSF (LU)

Head of Retail Banking Fr. BNP Paribas (FR)

Chair UnionBank of the Philippines (PH)

Nikhil Rathi

Stéphane Boujnah Chair Euronext (FR)

Jay Sidhu

Chair BankMobile (US)

V. Verkhoshinskiy CEO Alfa-Bank (RU)

Eva Kaili

Member European Parliament (GR)

Nicolas Huss

CEO Ingenico Group (FR)

Valentin Stalf

Chair BBVA (ES)

Governor Banque de France (FR)

CEO London Stock Exchange (UK)

Chair European Banking Authority (FR)

Frédéric Oudéa

Hikmet Ersek

CEO Western Union (US)

Claude Marx

Ann Cairns

Javier Pérez-Tasso

Marguerite Bérard

Justo Ortiz

Executive Vice Chair Mastercard (US)

CEO SWIFT (BE)

250+

CEO speakers

160+

CEO N26 (DE)

Anne Boden

CEO Starling Bank (UK)

Brandon Krieg

Brad Garlinghouse

Arik Shtilman

Raffael Johnen

Osama Bedier

Jacob de Geer

Kathryn Petralia

Michael Kent Chair Azimo (UK)

Julian Teicke

CEO Wefox Group (DE)

Yoni Assia

Laurent Le Moal

JC. Samuelian

Renaud Laplanche

Elizabeth Rossiello

Sergey Solonin

Tamaz Georgadze

Ruth Foxe Blader

Ryan Gilbert

John Doran

Ramin Niroumand

Steve McLaughlin

Klaus Hommels

CEO Stash (US)

CEO Ripple (US)

CEO Rapyd (UK)

CEO Auxmoney (DE)

fintechs on stage

150+ exhibitors

CEO Poynt (US)

Co-founder iZettle (SE)

President Kabbage (US)

CEO eToro (IL)

70+

countries

2600+

CEO PayU (NL)

CEO Alan (FR)

CEO Upgrade (US)

CEO AZA Finance (UK)

CEO Qiwi (RU)

CEO Raisin (DE)

attendees

networking

Managing Director Anthemis (UK)

Partner Propel Venture Partners (US)

EARLYBIRD 10% OFF until 20/12/2019

General Partner TCV (UK)

CEO Finleap (DE)

CEO Financial Technology Partners (US)

CEO Lakestar Advisors (CH)

program & registration on www.parisfintechforum.com


COVER STORY THE FIN TECH TIMES

Surveilling the Cyber Security Landscape It’s an ongoing pursuit for financial institutions to counter the threat of cyber attacks. There’s no formula for immunity. A process of constant refinement, learning and testing of security protocols is required to ensure the fraudster remains in your rearview mirror instead of hijacking the driver’s seat. By Charley Brooke Barnett, Digital Editor

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oday’s cyber criminal demands more than just your lunch money. With advanced tools at their disposal, the entire network is up for grabs. A recent Carnegie Endowment paper by BAE systems titled: “The Cyber Threat Landscape: Confronting Challenges to the Financial System” highlights the predicament: “Attackers have taken advantage of technological enablers (connectivity, complexity) and have developed new tools and techniques (capabilities) to conduct their attacks. These three key factors,

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and their importance to the threat landscape, present critical challenges for the sector in the battle to combat the threat.” Hackers aren’t limited by geographical location. As long as they have the necessary skillsets and a computer with an internet connection, they have the potential to create chaos from their living room. Physical bank robberies have become redundant. There’s the danger of cyber criminal groups forming like businesses and generating healthy revenues in the process, aiding the facilitation of money laundering. Some groups even have round the clock customer service lines, because even in this business, the customer comes first! Nation-state groups pose an additional security challenge. Take for example, the recent 5G debate. Huawei are currently one of the world leaders in highspeed technology, however the firm’s connection to the

Chinese state is raising questions over espionage. Theoretically, spies could tap into communications or shut a network down altogether. But is this a likely scenario or just something out of a James Bond film? Woody Johnson, the US ambassador, warns: “If we let untrustworthy countries in the heart of our economies, and infrastructure, what could they do? We have to decide that. I’ve always said it’s like letting a kleptomaniac into your house, and then you’ve got to hire three people to follow them around all day.” Huawei recently filed a lawsuit against the US government, who have placed restrictions on the Chinese firms products. Ren Zhengfei, Huawei Founder, told the BBC he’s unfazed by a US power cut: “If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine.” The genie is out the bottle though, and failure to embrace the technology could have unfavourable consequences. In June 2019, Future of Finance published a review on the outlook for the UK financial

system. The report states one of the greatest weaknesses of UK cyber defence is “an industry response to a data wipe at an institution.” In the US, Sheltered Harbor was set up to handle such a scenario to ensure financial organisations and customers are protected with a critical back up. The not-for-profit is only available for US firms right now, but it’s an encouraging initiative to see. Whether the attacker wants user data or money, ransomware is one method that has the potential to catapult company’s into despair. This is the practice of commandeering a computer system and demanding a ransom be paid in order to regain access. Norsk Hydro became victim to ransomware earlier this year, when 22,000 computers were compromised in 170 sites across 40 different countries. The aluminium producer refused to entertain the perpetrators’ demands and carried on, business as usual. Although the firm lost millions, they’ve earnt tremendous respect for their show of strength and integrity.

Jo De Vliegher, Norsk Hydro CIO, commented: “I think in general it’s a very bad idea to pay...it fuels an industry and it’s probably financing other sorts of crime. It goes against our company values and we have good foundations and good people.” For some however, paying up can seem like the only option for survival. It’s a dirty secret where organisations pay off the hackers, and remain silent in order to save face. This head-in-the-sand approach is detrimental to, not only the organisation (who’s to say a repeat attack is off the cards?), but also to the industry, which deserves transparency. Financial institutions face significant obstacles on the cyber security battlefield, which shouldn’t be underestimated. Encouraging a collaborative culture, where incidents are reported, shared and learned from, is critical for the sector to build resilience. uTFT


COVER STORY T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

Once a Staple of ‘The IT Crowd’, Now Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Problem The IT Crowd has a lot to answer for. For years, those safeguarding an institution’s digital infrastructure were considered back-room bods à la Moss and Roy, neither seen nor heard… By Charley Brooke Barnett, Digital Editor Well, thanks to some eyewateringly public clangers from institutions the likes of Equifax, British Airways and Capital One, cybersecurity is front page news. Here, TFT digital editor, Charley Brooke Barnett asks CyLon’s Taylan Durmus for his thoughts on everything from gender parity to Huawei in this paramount sector…

What are the biggest threats to the cybersecurity of financial institutions? Where are they coming from?

The source of the biggest threats to the cybersecurity of financial institutions are more likely to come from organised crime groups. However that being said, the threat from nation state actors should also not be ignored. Occasionally, even those two distinctions get blurry, but that is an answer to an entirely different question. Organised crime groups are simply after money so they will make their attack evident and present options for your institution to pay them. In some cases, these groups will have 24/7 customer service lines and will even offer to help patch your security holes after you pay them. State-sponsored groups however have different intentions. They want to gain access to your data to snoop around, gather intelligence, see the calendars of executives, and steal proprietary information. You may never realise you were breached because they have no incentive to inform you. It is for this reason that data for statesponsored attacks will be underrepresented and under-reported. The threat from organised crime has evolved in recent years. Pre the era of ransomware, a financial institution could be hacked and items like credit card and personally identifiable information was just stolen to be sold on illicit forums.

The institutions would then scramble to inform users and invalidate all the stolen cards. In the era of ransomware however, institutions are at risk of having all of their data encrypted and held for ransom which actively prevents the institution from functioning. The biggest threat to the cybersecurity of financial institutions comes from the people who work there. Whether the attackers are state sponsored or criminal organisations, the human element of cybersecurity is, and likely always will be the weakest link in cybersecurity. Humans can be tricked, manipulated, or simply be ignorant of a threat when they open an email attachment or click a link. This problem will never go away despite the tens of millions spent every year in awareness training for staff.

What fail-safes do you currently have in place for a worsecase cyber-attack?

Not speaking on behalf of CyLon, but from a general perspective: In an ideal world every company would have offsite backups kept isolated from the internet and their internal networks. That way in the event of a worst-case scenario they would just have to roll-back to our most recent, uninfected backups. Even this method is not bulletproof however, since if the attackers are clever enough, they will wait for some time to pass so that the backups are also infected. Depending on the organisation, rolling back six months may simply not be feasible so they would have no choice but to pay the ransom fee. The word failsafe is difficult to apply in terms of cybersecurity. Sure, you can just unplug every computer in your network and that may help (it probably will not) but at that point

your organisation just ceases to function. The backups mentioned previously are as close as you can get to a failsafe.

Is technical innovation helping or hindering banks’ security?

Innovation is a doubleedged sword when it comes to the security of banks and other financial institutions. The reason for this is that attackers and defenders are locked in an eternal arms race to innovate new ways to get ahead of one another. Bad actors (be it nation state or organised crime groups) are always looking to exploit the latest (or previously unknown zero-day) vulnerabilities to gain access into places they should not. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that banks and other financial institutions invest in the defending side of this arms race of innovation lest the attacking side gets an advantage. The funding and resources of the attacking side should also not be underestimated as some of these criminal organisations generate revenues comparable to that of large, multi-national companies with operations spanning the globe. To put it simply, technical innovation is not only helping, but is critical to banks’ security (as opposed to hindering). The day that technical innovation ceases is the day all the security researchers and hackers of the world can just pack up their bags and go home, (assuming they are not already working from there…!)

Should there be increased cybersecurity regulation rather than merely fines for breaches? Given that some banks are seen as “too big to fail”, should there be greater oversight into how they handle the cybersecurity threat?

The trouble with financial sanctions against big banks is that they simply have so much money that if the penalty of failure is not high enough, they

will simply budget to pay the fines! Cybersecurity regulation should be embedded into the rigorous financial regulation that these institutions are subject to. The reporting of breaches should also be mandatory and announced as soon as possible. We will never know which banks and other financial institutions have been hacked and paid a ransom. As customers and users, we should have the right to know if our data has been compromised.

of security researchers. In addition to this, cybersecurity is perhaps one of the few fields where there is a clear ‘good’ and ‘bad’ side. It is almost akin to mercenary work. You have two sides which offer varying levels of compensation and there is nothing (apart from difficult to enforce laws and morals) to stop you from working for bad actors. Sometimes people just want to work for the other side and it is not uncommon for people to change sides either.

Are challenger banks more vulnerable than legacy institutions?

How prolific are ransomware attacks?

Challenger banks are probably less of a target by virtue of their size rather than them being less vulnerable. They may have more modern infrastructure and secure backends, but as soon as criminal organisations think they would present a better opportunity to make money then they will also be targeted.

How are you addressing the acute skills shortage in the space? Do you think AI can completely replace human experts?

Maybe one day when we have true AI that can outperform a human. For the moment any ‘AI’ buzzword you see being thrown around is just a machine learning algorithm that essentially learns by trial and error and whatever data you feed it. They are good for some automation and monitoring however they are far from being capable enough to replace humans completely. That kind of AI is still 20-30 years away in my opinion. I think the acute shortage of skills is mainly due to there not being a clear path of entry into the field. There are very few cybersecurity degrees being offered by top institutions. To address this, universities must catch-up and assemble the relevant faculties and curriculum to train the next generation

As they are dependent on self-reported data, we will never know how truly prolific they are. What can be said for certain is that the frequency and complexity of attacks will increase over time. I would not be surprised if institutions do not report attacks as a matter of policy unless the consequences of the attack are evident to the public and or causes the business to stop functioning. This comes down to PR and brand protection.

What is your position on trusting foreign organisations like Huawei with state infrastructure, as seen in the recent 5G debate?

Chinese organisations are unique in that they technically have no choice in the matter if the state decides to inject their operations with espionage. Huawei although not technically state-owned, is more than likely de facto controlled by the state through a complex hierarchy of state-controlled trade unions. Thus, if I had some critical infrastructure that I needed to keep secure, I would not contract Huawei to build it for me. The Chinese security apparatus is immensely well funded, clever, and brutally effective. I would say the same for any foreign organisation. The key to ensuring the security of state infrastructure boils down

to how much control you can exert on the organisations building it. Huawei for example? Good luck. A smaller Russian company? Maybe a bit better. A homegrown company like British Telecoms? Bingo.

Why is there so little representation of cyber security at C-level?

It is getting better, and I think it would be unfair to say that cybersecurity is underrepresented at the C-level in today’s world. This was perhaps truer ten to fifteen years ago. Almost all multi-national organisations worth their salt will have someone in the C-suite who is responsible for cybersecurity as they simply cannot afford to have that gap in knowledge anymore.

Is the move to cloud-based systems creating further vulnerability?

Cloud systems operated by giants like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are almost always more secure than any private cloud solutions a company can use. They also have the added benefit of managing their own security to an extent which makes life easier for the users. I would say that the move to cloud-based systems is creating LESS of a vulnerability.

Most IT is generally male dominated, but this seems to be even truer of cybersecurity. Would a gender balance help protect firms?

The strength of diversity cannot be underestimated. The (ethnic, gender, etc.) diversity of a team is directly proportional to the diversity and quality of ideas and solutions generated by a team. That has been my experience thus far and it makes sense. When you have people from all walks of life who have all seen and done different things it brings a wealth of experience to the table which can be drawn from. uTFT

Edition 30 I 5


WEALTH THE FIN TECH TIMES

Are partnerships the future in financial services? TFT digital editor, Charley Brooke Barnett, sat down with SEI’s Head of Global Solutions for Private Banking Rob Wrzesniewski, to discuss what he’s seeing in regards to the partnerships being formed between the large financial services incumbents and newer, more agile fintech start ups in the space. CBB: Tell us about the interaction you’re seeing between the large FS institutions and fintechs

RW: Contextually, I’m defining “large financial institutions” by traditional financial services or wealth managers. We’ve recently been seeing different models at larger firms that are inclusive of either renting or partnering with capabilities from fintech firms. Look at where we are now with the advent of APIs vs. where we were a few years ago. What we’re able to do with data today is a very attractive option for financial services companies who are looking to fill potential gaps in their product or platform line-ups. There’s opportunity to get creative and move fast by partnering with

Rob Wrzesniewski, Head of Global Solutions for Private Banking, SEI

outside firms. Importantly, partnering with fintechs allows financial services firms to take a core satellite approach, which is typically an investment portfolio term, to build out platforms. From a technology standpoint, a core satellite approach allows financial services firms to stay focused on their core capabilities while using outside partners to fill in from the outside. It’s a very attractive model for both sides of that transaction.

CBB: Is there a pattern of big institutions buying early stage competitors to ensure the IP isn’t put to use in a way that could disrupt them?

RW: We do see a pattern but attribute it to other factors. For a financial services company looking to bring best-in-breed capabilities to clients, we don’t think it’s a fear- driven decision. We’re now in a space where there’s plenty of opportunities to meet and perform due diligence on fintech providers, assess how they could complement existing technologies, and rather than replace the existing functionality with the fintech’s capability, use it to supplement the client experience. Replacing legacy technology with a fintech module isn’t necessarily done out of fear of disruption as much as it’s done to stay abreast of the most recent technology trends. In some cases, the best way to do that is partner with a firm that’s focused on a specific component of the investor value chain. They come to work every day committed to being the best in their space, and financial service firms would be smart to leverage that focus.

CBB: Are smaller start-ups able to conduct innovation more efficiently than larger institutions?

RW: A smaller start-up that doesn’t have 15 or 25 years’ worth of legacy technology to consider can certainly hit the ground running faster than a larger institution that has to be mindful of an entire technology ecosystem. A start-up’s ability to focus on removing friction from a problematic workflow or enhance a dry client experience is powerful – but not unique. The ability to focus and iterate enables a startup to potentially move faster than a

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firm that’s got to worry about how to build while integrating functionality within legacy technology. In some cases, we see new, smaller scale firms that innovate faster. In others, we’re increasingly seeing large financial services institutions recognize the value in the approach – evidenced by what’s happening with robo advisors. Larger, established firms are able to throw a lot more resources at tech innovation and tie it directly to an already established distribution channel. We’ve seen those types of capabilities come to market, if not first to market then shortly thereafter. This approach isn’t just limited to small start-ups, as there are obvious benefits to having deep pockets and established technical talent to throw at solving the very same problems.

Even with overall M&A figures being down, great opportunityexists due to this phenomenon. M&A firms can not only participate in the generational wealth transfer, but also experience growth powered by Gen X, Gen Y and millennial inheritors who have driven those high fintech adoption rates. From payments to insurance to planning, the next generation is almost demanding that they’re able to access and interact with their wealth in non-traditional ways. Looking at what technology has done in the transportation and entertainment industries, it’s not surprising those same behaviors are bleeding into financial services and creating opportunities for fintechs. PE is definitely moving into where this demand lives and the assets are going.

CBB: Are institutions cutting ties or shutting down the fintech parts of their businesses too quickly when things aren’t going as planned?

CBB: What big successes have we seen, and conversely, which big failures?

RW: Not in our experience. Established financial services firms have the balance sheet and infrastructure, giving them the patience to take a longer-term view and eliminating worry about securing investment funding or integrating technology with a distribution partner to source products and services. Financial services companies can let initiatives play out at their own pace and be patient with innovative ideas and approaches. That’s certainly a strength of ours, as we can look at the big picture and take a long-term view on success. A new start-up can feel pressure to get an MVP developed, tested and out to market in order to show viability.

CBB: What are your views on the increasing investment by PE into UK fintech despite recent M&A figures being down?

RW: It’s not surprising if you look at the intersection of a couple of technology and financial trends. Specifically, the UK alone will see a wealth transfer exceeding £5 trillion over the next 30 years. Couple this with UK consumers’ fintech adoption rate of over 70%, and we see a huge opportunity deserving of the recent PE investment. It’s a really attractive growth space.

RW: Even traditional financial services firms have become very aggressive about removing friction from every part of the client journey. If you look at how the industry has had to react to specific robo account-opening experiences, consumer expectations have changed forever. This can be seen as both a success for investors and a failure for traditional providers to drive innovation without outside disruption. Either way, it was an eye-opening shift for the entire industry. Going forward, we think this has changed the dynamic for good, and traditional financial services and fintech firms will continue to partner to deliver exciting capabilities to investors in the future.

uTFT


CEO INTERVIEW T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

The challenges of disrupting a traditional and low-tech industry EmpowerRD, the R&D claims company, was founded on the belief that too much government funding was being taken by inefficient advisors. TFT digital editor, Charley Brooke Barnett, spoke with founder Hari Sandhu, who shared his thoughts on the challenges of disrupting a traditional, low-tech industry. By Charley Brooke Barnett

CBB: How did your experience working for PwC prepare you for starting EmpowerRD? HS: My background has been in tech strategy, where I worked over in the U.S for about five years. I moved back to a similar role within PwC and then moved over to lead on a part of the business looking at government incentives. While working on that I was invited to sit on HMRC’s R&D consultative committee, which gave me substantial oversight of the market. That was probably the single biggest factor that affected my founding of EmpowerRD. I could see how the schemes were working, where they could be tweaked to better help UK businesses. Whilst sat on that committee, it was apparent that the very upper end of the market was working quite efficiently. Corporates could negotiate a fair fee, based on the value that the advisors were providing to support the claim. However, in the midmarket and SME space, all of those companies were being given a raw deal. They were being presented with high fees. Whereas with a larger blue-chip client, you might be paying a fraction of a percent of the credit that you get back for your claim. With the smaller businesses, they were giving up 25/30%. There have been cases of companies giving up 50% of the money that they’re getting back from HMRC. Companies being tied in for three, five or even eight years. We realised the industry was running a muck because there

wasn’t enough transparency about what was needed to make a claim, and HMRC were providing what oversight they could, but had limited resources. There’s also this overriding factor that this is a taxpayerfunded scheme. So we as

Our hypothesis has always been that you could build a technology platform that could work alongside the expertise of an R&D advisor. The use of tech enables us to significantly reduce both the fees for our clients and the time it takes to create a high quality R&D claim. So our approach is a hybrid approach that gives you the best of the advisory way of working alongside a tech firm. It has all the efficiencies, the workflows, the integrations that weren’t there before, to enable the client to reduce how much time is spent in the actual prep itself. We’re starting to see downward pressure on fees now, which is fantastic. We’re seeing some of our competitors cleaning up their act a little bit, which is a good thing too.

qualify for X, Y or Z reason. That said, even those companies that are taking advantage of R&D tax credits often seriously underclaim. We find that this applies to a lot of businesses that maybe weren’t using specialist advisors for their previous claims. In the past, some businesses who have started using us for their claims have asked us to look at their past claims. On one occasion we were able to increase their past claim by 300%! So even if fintechs are claiming they may well be underclaiming. More specifically for fintechs we get a lot of questions about whether or not the funds they’ve raised through things like ICOs can be accounted for and how they might be accounted for within the claim. And can they

is the key benefit for SMEs. Replacing fees of 25-30% to 5% makes a serious difference to an SMEs working capital, and we’re proud of that. Also our use of technology actually makes it easier for SMEs to make a claim versus the traditional route, so we save them a lot of time too. We’ve always thought about how we can improve both the experience, as well as reduce the fees. While we work across a lot of industries like manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, agriculture as well as tech, we’ve grown up in the London tech scene because of our innovative use of technology. For example, we were able to start working with Forward Partners - our investors - who have been a great help to us. What that means is that a lot of our clients, particularly our early clients, have been tech startups. So we have a lot of really great sector expertise in tech to help maximise claim values for startups.

CBB: Which clients have seen the greatest benefits?

taxpayers are actually paying for unscrupulous advisors to siphon off public money. So that experience really drove me to create EmpowerRD; it created a moral driver to try to correct the market failure and that still motivates me today.

CBB: Tell us about how you started EmpowerRD? HS: While I knew that creating a transparent and well-managed advisory service would do well in the market I also realised that technology could be utilised to make the claim process easier and more reliable, while retaining the expertise of an advisor.

Our mission has always been to clean up a stale industry and refocus on adding value to the taxpayer, the government and ultimately, UK businesses. I’m proud of the fact that we’re continuing to lead in that effort .

be claimable at all? So that’s another area where there is some lack of clarity. Which again, puts companies off from making a claim at all. But these are all areas that we’ve tackled and we continue to provide robust guidance to companies. We’ve got a 100% success record with HMRC, not just within the fintech space, but across every single application that we’ve made.

HS: Fintechs are like any other business, in that there’s an awareness issue around R&D tax credits. The government predicts that 70% of businesses that could claim aren’t. There’s still a number of companies out there who just think they won’t

CBB: How can your service help SMEs and start-ups?

CBB: Are fintechs missing out on opportunities to take advantage of government funding?

HS: Well we’re aware that the greatest need for change was at the lower end of the market, and so primarily our pricing

HS: Definitely the example I mentioned before comes to mind. We looked at Bloom & Wild’s past claim, and increased it by 290%, which we were both surprised and happy about. We think they were too! With our larger clients, we’ve been able to significantly reduce the amount of time that they spend getting the claim the R&D claim submitted. That makes the biggest difference for our larger clients. Traditional claims can often take four to six weeks. That’s because of all the coordination between the finance and tech teams, as well as scheduling face-to-face meetings with the advisor. With our process and the systems that we have in place,

we’re able to bring that burden down significantly; in fact, on more than one occasion companies have been able to get through the end to end process in under a day. Not only is there a costbenefit, but there are also significant operational benefits, where we can free up the company to continue to focus on the R&D that they’re undertaking, rather than just financing the R&D. It’s a win-win, both from an operational perspective, as well as the fact that the claims are being optimised and you’re getting the maximum back.

CBB: What areas are you investing in right now? HS: There are a number of areas that we are interested in. We’ve got quite a long backlog of both tech and service development that we’re looking forward to bringing to market. One of those is a major new service offering called EmpowerRD Now. This will make us the first (and only!) provider across the UK that’ll be able to provide companies with the R&D tax credit and the funds for the R&D tax credit, the same day they file. So you don’t have to wait three months for HMRC. A key reason for smaller businesses to take advantage of the R&D tax credits is to supplement cash flow, to enable them to invest. We’re providing them with the mechanism to take advantage of that without the arduous wait for HMRC payouts. The vision that we’re bringing to life is one where companies on a Monday morning can kick off an engagement to file their R&D tax credit, by the afternoon have it submitted and have the cash in the bank, all in a day’s work. That alleviates a key problem with the scheme that our clients have been feeling and we’re excited to solve that. We’re seeing phenomenal growth, in terms of the volume of clients that we’re onboarding. Almost two-thirds of our clients have switched across from other advisors. Given our trajectory of growth, one of the key challenges is being able to recruit as quickly as possible. We’re constantly on the lookout for great new talent, whether it’s in tech, tax, operations or sales. So any great candidates out there that are interested in fixing a market failure and providing greater value for UK businesses, we’d love to hear from you!

uTFT

Harinder Sandhu, CEO & Founder, EmpowerRD Edition 30 I 7


OPEN BANKING THE FIN TECH TIMES

RETHINKING FINANCIAL SERVICES WITH OPEN BANKING It takes a phenomenal amount of innovation to protect 24 million customers and clients around the world. Every year we deliver world-class tech solutions our customers need and want. Contactless Payment. Pingit. Barclays Mobile Banking. bPay.

community of over 7,500 members, we have access to a huge range of change makers in the industry. Our mission is to better connect technology, talent and trends from our network to accelerate innovation and growth for Barclays, startups and clients. The Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is an intensive 13-week programme designed to fast-track the next generation of FinTech businesses, while also bringing innovation applicable to Barclays. With help from Barclays, Techstars, and a team of highlevel mentors, the participants aim to evolve their business propositions and solve problems at the cutting edge of FinTech. Next up: Barclays’ is excited about its current endeavor with Anthemis, which is a leading global FinTech investor with whom we’re going to co-launch a New York City-based studio targeting female entrepreneurs. Barclays and Anthemis will work with female entrepreneurs and their founding teams to shape and execute a vision, from concept development through to business launch and seed investment. In embracing this partnership, we’re committed to increasing the limited venture capital funding (2%) that went to all-female startup teams in 2017 [reference].

Case studies—how Barclays partnerships have created customer value

So what is Open Banking? In a nutshell, more time and money for bank customers by leveraging technology and relationships. More specifically, Open Banking sets forth legal standards that require the big UK banks to share their data through APIs (subject to customer approval). These APIs send data from the customer’s bank to approved third parties, who in turn can offer different products and services. This means that Barclays customers can choose to share their data with third parties, but also bring all their accounts into Barclays. And this is where Barclays’ commitment to innovation comes in: we became the first UK bank to allow our customers to access other accounts through our mobile banking app.

Back to our commitment to innovation— Barclays has developed a unique platform where Open Banking solutions can flourish. We delivered a number of industry firsts to advance the Barclays’ mobile app, as well as Open Banking, such as ‘card freeze’ – the ability to temporarily block a card if it is believed to be lost. Additionally, we have a range of Open Banking APIs, including payment initiation, confirmation of funds, and the ability to retrieve Barclays account information. By taking advantage of our secure APIs, third-party partners and developers can enhance service offerings, improve customer engagement, and drive digital innovation across a greater number of touchpoints. Barclays is happy to share the resources you need to get up and running—including sandbox time—with Open Banking.

The Barclays proposition

One is a lonely number

“Success will depend on whether or not customers have confidence in the propositions and see value in them. That’s down to us, and the third parties, putting something into our customers’ hands that gives them a different service to what they have today and offers them complete security and control over their data.” Jonathan Lowe, CIO – BUK CPII (Current AC, Payments, Insurance, Information) & Open Banking.

That’s why we collaborate. That’s why we must collaborate—to ensure mutual success and the best possible user experience for our customers. And Barclays knows something about setting up a framework for collaboration—and succeeding. Our Rise program operates a global network of state-of-the-art workspaces in London, New York, Tel Aviv and Mumbai. With over 150 FinTech companies who call Rise home, and a virtual

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Let’s look at a couple of wins that formed from within the spirit of collaboration: Flux, graduate of the London 2017 Accelerator class, digitises receipts and rewards from within your banking app, thus creating more valuable interactions with a positive environmental footprint. Barclays and Flux partnered by integrating Flux into

Barclays’ Mobile Banking test app ‘Launchpad’ that has 40,000 live users, and is also working with merchants who are clients of Barclaycard’s acquiring business. Who doesn’t like collecting and using points from purchases connected to loyalty programs? This element of the payments space has long been a powerful purchasing incentive, but it has not kept pace with innovations, such as contactless, which have removed friction from payments. Bink saw an opportunity to address this by giving customers a simple way to find and join new loyalty programs and to never miss out on their points and other benefits. Founded in 2015, Bink’s Payment Linked Loyalty platform uses unique technology to allow customers to link payment cards to loyalty programs, enabling them to automatically collect points when they make a purchase, to easily identify and join new loyalty programs and to use their points simply by showing their payment card. Barclays took notice of this exciting new technology and invested in 2019 for good reason: “This is another great example of how partnering with our technology colleagues and external FinTech partners allows us to really deliver exciting new enhancements for our customers while delivering a key differentiator for the bank. This is another step in our ambition to become the go-to money management service in the UK, with the Barclays and Barclaycard Apps playing a key role,” says Milan Thakrar, Head of Product – Global Digital and Platforms Business.

Want to exchange ideas? If you have any questions about partnering with Barclays on your game-changing technology, we’d love to hear from you. Please drop a note to LDN@ thinkrise.com get the conversation going. uTFT


OPEN BANKING T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

When the Competition and Markets Authority introduced open banking over 18 months ago, it promised to be a revolutionary development for the consumer, breaking the data advantage enjoyed by the big banks and catalysing innovation.

Why open banking is about to have its coming of age

By Andy Sleigh, COO of ClearScore However, the reality is that adoption has been underwhelming. This is in large part down to the lack of awareness and understanding around what open banking is. Our research has shown that 75% of consumers are unaware of open banking and are highly sceptical about sharing their data; unsurprising in an environment where data breaches and shaky technological infrastructure regularly hit the headlines. Part of the explanation is the slow implementation of the technology by high street banks owing to outdated infrastructure. Open banking necessitates the sharing of data with a range of financial service providers, and in many cases this requires banks to update their platforms and data interfaces. This naturally requires an investment of time and cost, and so the biggest household names are not widely associated with open banking initiatives. Another crucial factor is that open banking offers few advantages to traditional banks and so consumers who embrace open banking might look elsewhere for services that large retail banks have historically provided. This has opened up a great deal of opportunity to innovate within the FinTech space. But though FinTechs are way ahead of the curve in embracing open banking technology compared to traditional banks, there is a need to combine this innovation with benefit-led messaging to drive adoption and increase the financial well-being of its users.

Serving the underserved Consumers who are currently underserved by financial service providers stand to benefit the most from open banking. Those with established credit histories often already receive plenty of offers of credit, whereas those with lower credit scores are left unsupported. By adopting open banking, vulnerable and underserved populations could be mobilised in the credit space, with resulting financial freedom. Our analysis estimates that most of the underserved population with a credit file is only creditworthy at a univaritate level, that is to say they only qualify for credit according to one of the following criteria: • 60% of these users are on £20,000 gross salary or more • 19% have no past default • 56% have an open credit card • 14% are homeowners • 78% are employed Encouraging these users to agree to share data via open banking would provide lenders with more data points to calculate risk and subsequently lend to them. For financial service providers, this represents a massive opportunity. Opening up lending to just 5% of the underserved population that we surveyed could result in additional lending of an estimated £30 million per month. And of course, this figure has the potential to grow as consumers graduate to further forms of credit in later years.

Better decision making Almost all lenders that we spoke to stated a desire to use open banking for income verification to create new lending avenues and provide them with extra data for more granular decisionmaking around affordability. As we have shown, this is especially useful in calculating risk around underserved consumers about whom they have a lack of data. However it also has the potential to benefit users who already have access to credit. Technology has revolutionised many aspects of the way we live, but has not yet changed the way people manage their money. The result? Consumers continue to stay with their bank for a lifetime, putting up with low interest rates on savings, uncompetitive loans and high overdraft fees, where open banking could provide solutions that save both time and money. The benefits of open banking are clear in this context for both consumers and lenders alike: consumers could find lending options open up to them when they share their data, and in turn, lenders could gain access to new customers. Lenders therefore need data from consumers to start building it into their decision-making, but they haven’t yet been able to create compelling ways to engage users in data sharing.

What would encourage consumers to share their data? To drive adoption, those leveraging open banking need to talk less about the underlying technology and more about the tangible benefits to consumers. Naturally, the more data consumers are required to share, the greater the perceived

benefits will need to be. The industry needs to start simple; ‘light’ or ‘one-time’ access to data may be an effective way to encourage consumers into their first experience of open banking. Our research shows that consumers are more likely to exchange their data in return for concrete propositions. (For underserved consumers, their likelihood to share their data before and after they had seen the benefits increases by 9 percentage points.) We tested a range of product propositions to obtain a better understanding of the services that most resonated with consumers and would lead to them sharing their data in return. The most popular suggestion is exchanging data for a more accurate credit score which truly represents their overall financial situation. There are currently 760,000 in the UK who are underserved by the market and could benefit from a service like this, and 83% of those surveyed would be willing to share their open banking data in exchange for a more accurate credit score. Innovators will then be able to better support these consumers by painting a more detailed picture of their financial situation, including a view of their current accounts, credit accounts, savings and debt. This, in turn, can feed into a more accurate and transparent credit score - a scoring system that has traditionally been shrouded in misunderstanding around the contributing factors. For example, here at ClearScore, we’re developing OneScore – an app that will provide consumers with an in-depth view of their finances which will empower them to make better financial decisions based on their own proprietary data. Another of the most popular propositions

is bill recognition. At the moment, people can pay their bills on time for years without it ever being reflected in their finances. If these payments were to be made visible alongside a credit report, lenders would have extra proof of reliability, with the benefits being passed on to the user. 81% would be willing to share their data for this offering. Being accepted for credit is also important. If prospective customers knew they could provide more information about their finances in exchange for a greater likelihood of acceptance, lenders could get a fuller picture and adoption would increase. The idea of sharing data to get credit understandably proves popular, with 76% willing to exchange their data and a particular appetite among the underserved. Trust is also a key factor. Our research shows that consumers’ likelihood to adopt open bankingenabled services increases by 50% with trust marks in place from their bank or lender, particularly when these marks are used at points of high friction, such as the moment when a user links an account and officially hands over their data. These could include FCA approval, user testimonials or third party reviews. We are still at the beginning of what will likely be a long road to mass adoption of open banking in the UK. Yet this is a hugely exciting journey for both consumers and providers, and we are already seeing pockets of innovation emerging. A new age of open banking is around the corner. uTFT

Edition 30 I 9


JURISDICTIONS THE FIN TECH TIMES

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND...

EXCEPT MAYBE LYLE WRAXALL Interview by Matthew Dove

What is the Isle of Man Blockchain office and what purpose does it serve? So, I’ve been doing my current job for about a year and my primary responsibility is driving the digital economy of the island. Coming to the island, one of the first things I looked at ... was trying to understand what can we deliver that’s of economic value to the island but which would allow the other sectors and businesses to grow as well. Blockchain was one of those concepts. I’d done a bit of work with blockchain before I came to the Isle of Man, both in New York and in London, I also did a bit of work at the IMF around it. I was head of financial services in New York for my consultancy and in London we created a bit of a blockchain think-tank to try and understand how you could approach this from a management consultant’s side. There was already quite a bit of blockchain on the island, there’s actually quite a lot of innovation on the island in general. Being new to it, that was quite a

pleasant surprise... I started by trying to understand why [the startups] were there and what they were trying to get out of the island. I did a few trips around these sorts of conferences to better understand what other people wanted. A lot of it centred on, “where can I be regulated and how can I be confident that my business isn’t going to be derailed by a poor bit of regulation down the line?” Then I looked at what we already had, and we already had a fair bit of regulation for this space. The GSE (Gambling Supervision Commission), the FSA (Financial Services Authority) and our information commissioner were all pretty well clued up regards blockchain. So, it was like, we’ve already got ideas and we know what we’re doing in this space now all we need to do is create a standard. We didn’t have a blockchain sandbox, so we’ve created that. Everybody’s got to have a sandbox, it’s part of the fabric of what you need. I spoke to the regulators about why some of the regulation was taking longer and the challenge they had was trying to understand

Lyle Wraxall, CEO Digital Isle of Man Executive Agency

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a technology which is pretty cutting-edge. They were also working with people who hadn’t been regulated before so didn’t speak the regulatory language. So, what I thought we could do is sit in the middle of those two. That’s really where the blockchain office came from. In the office we have a regulatory lead, somebody who’s a technology lead, a team beneath both of those and some processes which we need to have in place. Also within the office, we’ve got the likes of KPMG and PwC, we’ve got a blockchain consultancy. Whilst I’ll be running the office for a while, I intend it to go off and let it be its own thing. So, what do we hope to get out of it as an island? Well, we’ve got a really good reputation in financial services and in e-gaming so we needed to make sure that we weren’t going to invite businesses in that were going to damage that reputation. I created an application process and a panel which first and foremost really

looks at businesses, understands what they’re trying to achieve and make sure there’s not going to be any reputation risk to the island. From there we’ll look at what kind of business they’re in and whether it fits in with our portfolio and whether we have the bandwidth to support them through whichever regulation route they’re going through. Equally, they can come in and be non-regulated and we can support them in remaining nonregulated. We need to make sure we have the right use-cases to create the best regulation we can. It’s all very well looking globally and seeing what regulation exists and trying to create best practice but you really want a business that’s in that space to get it right. We have what we call nursery cases. People will come in and they might be a bit more immature than we might expect but they’re doing something which fits with our roadmap. We’ll work with them to create that regulation.

What sets the Isle of Man apart from other fledgling fintech hubs like Gibraltar, Malta or Luxembourg? Businesses will look to whatever jurisdiction fits best with them. So, what we offer is proximity to huge financial centres. I flew into London this morning and it’s no big deal to do that. The proximity to the e-gaming business, you’re not going to get that in London. There’s a surprising amount of that, I get as much regulatory demand for gambling as I do for finance. Some people will want to Malta, our regulation is going to be different to theirs. They like to certify the actual DLT, we are not going to do that. Also, Malta’s got very busy which doesn’t suit everybody. We’re keeping our numbers small to make sure we can give everyone the full attention they need. Luxembourg take even less than us into their incubator, I believe it’s 6 every 6 months.

So, they’re looking at even less than we are but they’re offering a full incubation service. However, they’re not offering the regulatory side that we offer. It’s up to businesses to decide whether the Isle of Man fits them better than places elsewhere.

Do you worry about the negativity often associated with ICOs and cryptocurrencies could be bad for the Isle of Man’s reputation? The Isle of Man has got an excellent gambling regulator. We’re the only jurisdiction in the world which hasn’t had a player protection issue because of the way that we regulate. We’re trying to bring that over into blockchain. When we’re working with blockchain businesses, I’m not really interested in ICOs. That’s not where the innovation is, it’s just a vehicle for raising funds. We do


JURISDICTIONS T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

When it comes to encouraging fintech innovation on the Isle of Man, Lyle Wraxall wants to make one thing clear. It’s not what the island can do for you but what you can do for the island. Here, TFT’s Matthew Dove talks regulation, incubation and hashes out the blockchain with the Digital Isle of Man CEO...

lot. Regulators are going to be sitting up and looking at things like Libra and trying to decide what that’s going to mean for them. That’s going to change the roadmap we’ve put out.

Is talk of shutting down Libra affecting how you approach the sector? Not at all, we’re full-steam ahead and always will be. But we’re not a first mover so we will always be looking globally and trying to bring best practice in. If we start trying to be a first mover then that puts businesses at risk because we can very easily make a mistake. In principal, we’ll always be a fast follower rather than a first mover.

Who are you following?

have ICOs on the island but it’s not a part of the market that I’m really looking at. I wouldn’t let anybody into the office until they’d completed an ICO unless they were already innovating. There’s no hard and fast rules because this is a complex area so “no ICOs in the office ever” is probably not a good thing to say. But if someone’s only in their ICO and they haven’t started building the product then it’s a case of “get your ICO done, I want to make sure that’s clean before you come into the office.” What the office is really about is the innovation. Whether you’ve done the ICO on the island or somewhere else, as long as it’s clean, then you’re welcome at the blockchain office. We have a physical location which has 80 desks, both open and private offices, for blockchain businesses and we’ve got the ability to expand that much more as well. There’s plenty of space for people to land, they have all their technology and everything with them. That’s where our

blockchain office is situated. They’ve got direct access to the office, the regulators also come in there. We have all the ancillary businesses from CSPs to lawyers to marketing agencies who will all go in there as well. So you’ve got one place where everyone is coming in and they understand what blockchain is and how to work with it.

An almost daily interchange between the relevant parties then? Yeah, it’s just that hub of activity. It’s actually called “The Hub.” Outside of that the office we’re advising the government on how to embrace blockchain. We advise businesses on how to do it. We do education programs. Just a couple of weeks ago we did half a day with a lot of the CXOs on the island in which we took blockchain back to the 1950s and played a paper-based blockchain game.

How important is regulatory clarity to the future development of blockchain technologies? I think given its size, the FCA has made good strides to try and move forward in this area and we try to work really closely with the FCA so that anything that people do on the island can be accelerated through to the UK as well. I think across the board, globally, the lack of understanding about where all this is going has stymied innovation somewhat. The issues we’ve had with things like ICOs have created something that’s quite grey. The money laundering aspects have also been spoken about at length and so people are just very cautious about what blockchain is. Crypto and blockchain are two different things. We work with crypto as well but there has to be a good reason for

using it. We don’t want people making tokens just for the sake of making tokens. You also see a lot of use cases that don’t stack up. We look at that when we’re bringing businesses in. On the other hand, it’s not for us to review whether or not a business is going to make money...unless we’re planning to invest in it, then we have to look at it through a different lens.

You mean some of these projects are eligible for government funding? We are investing in blockchain businesses … but for blockchain what I try to do is build a value proposition which is good enough without the investment. Actually blockchain businesses tend to prefer to go through other funding models and not government support.

Do companies come to the island solely for a regulatory seal of approval? We’ve turned businesses away because that’s what they want. There are certain rules for coming in. You can’t come into the office and use our stamp of approval to drive the price of an ICO. That’s why we don’t let ICOs in. Equally, when you’re going through our regulatory process, there’s a media blackout so you can’t drive up your prices. Mostly though, our businesses want to be part of an ecosystem where people are working on a similar kind of thing, where they’re being looked after and you’re all colocated in this space.

It can be pretty much anyone. The FCA had some great ideas in their report in November so we’ve been looking at that. We look at Malta, we look at Gib’, I was out in New York a couple of months ago, I’ve been to Bermuda and places like that. I’m on my third jurisdictional comparison of regulation. Every six months, we’ll look across what everyone else is doing … to make sure that we’ve got standards which match, if not exceed that. This is why it’s great to have PwC and KPMG in the office. I had PwC do the first one and KPMG did the second so you’re not just getting a repeat. We are making a concerted effort to keep our eyes open … to make sure we really know what’s going on. I met some guys from Zug and we’re talking about going out and visiting them to see what they’re doing. We’re not trying to compete with people, we’re trying to work with people.

Is that the flavour of things to come? Jurisdictions all just tippy-toeing forward together? There’s a great term I heard, cooperatition, and that’s kind of the way it’s going to move forward… if we all fight, it’s just going to slow things down.

uTFT

What’s in store for the next 18-months? I see a roadmap that’s going to shift and change a

NOTE If people move to the island now they get a 1 year NI holiday.

Edition 30 I 11


BANKING TECH THE FIN TECH TIMES

Payments Innovations for SME Financial Inclusion

AT A GLANCE

Anders la Cour

Anders la Cour, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Banking Circle shares insights from the latest Banking Circle research into the challenges and opportunities facing SME payment providers. Effectively serving SMEs requires FinTechs and Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to have a true and meaningful understanding of the reality of small business life. Many PSPs are indeed SMEs themselves, which can be invaluable in assessing specific needs and the challenges SMEs might be facing. And this can put them in a strong position to develop solutions – working with likeminded partners – that exactly fit the bill. But at the heart of the issue is the fact that PSPs must build SME-specific solutions, not adapt models built for larger businesses. And this is exacerbated by the fact that each SME is entirely unique – some are one-man-bands, others have 249 employees. Some are local businesses while others trade internationally. Some are seasonal and others have a steady flow

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of income throughout the year. This immense variation creates a dilemma for financial institutions trying to build scalable solutions to meet SME requirements. With businesses varying in almost every way, no single payment solution can meet all the financial needs of every SME. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The latest research from Banking Circle is published in our insight paper, ‘Pay, Set, Match! Payment services for SMEs – Jump-starting a virtuous digital payment circle’ and investigates the challenges and opportunities for PSPs serving SMEs today. What we have found is that what all SMEs have in common is a need for banking services. Any business, any size, and industry, any target market and any turnover will need banking accounts. And almost all will, at some point, need an injection of cash, whether that is to kick-start an expansion, purchase stock at the beginning of the season or to replace broken equipment. The reality is, however, that a traditional business loan from a bank is generally too expensive, too inflexible and too slow to

arrange, for a fast-paced SME in today’s highly competitive, digital and international marketplace. As Kent Vorland, CEO of SmartTrade App, told us during our research, “consumer products are not agile enough and providers have little knowledge of small businesses… Equally, the big boys have complicated functionalities, but nothing optimised for small merchants.” We found that limited access to services and restricted credit lines are affecting the success and potential of SMEs of all sizes and stages. SMEs also commented that access to payment services is restricted, it takes too long to open a merchant account and there is little support for accounts payable. Each of these can have a significant impact on an SME’s ability to maintain and grow its client base and profit margin. In turn, this limits its ability to expand, reach new markets, increase product lines and better serve its customers. With 24 million SMEs in Europe making up 99% of private businesses in the region, employing around 60% of the European workforce and contributing more than

half of all business turnover, a problem holding back SMEs is a problem holding back the entire economy. With many PSPs and other providers already delivering innovative ‘point’ solutions, and many ambitious SMEs currently underserved by their existing bank, the opportunity to build bridges and connect solutions is ready and waiting. Each provider has a role to play, and value to add, if they build relationships across the board. As reported in our insight paper, financial inclusion based on digital technology occurs within a broad spectrum of technology, communication, collaboration and analytics. Innovation and real change is only possible within an ecosystem model where each player knows its own role and appreciates those of others. Dialogues must be kept open, and innovation must continue, in order to find and develop successful, effective, affordable solutions which will work for SMEs of all types, increasing financial inclusion and benefiting the entire economy. For a copy of the latest insight paper, visit www.bankingcircle.com

uTFT

WHO WE ARE Banking Circle is a financial utility that focuses on providing global banking services to financial institutions, including financial technology companies and banks.

COMPANY: Banking Circle FOUNDED: 2013 CATEGORY: Global banking services KEY PERSONNEL: Anders la Cour, CEO (above) HEAD OFFICE: Luxembourg OFFICES IN: Banking Circle is a global business with offices in Denmark, Luxembourg and the UK TEL: +44 (0)20 7073 0421 WEBSITE: www.bankingcircle.com LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/company/bankingcircle/ TWITTER: @bankingcircle

WHAT WE DO The network for global commerce


BLOCKCHAIN T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

Using Blockchain and IoT To Stamp Out Counterfeit Goods Modex continues to bring you relevant use cases where blockchain has the power to improve several industries. After seeing how blockchain can reshape the KYC (Know Your Customer) process, as well as land registry and property rent, we’re speaking now about stamping out counterfeit goods with the help of blockchain and IoT.

C

ounterfeiting affects every stage of the product life cycle. Limited visibility across sourcing, manufacturing, and distribution networks makes it hard for manufacturers, partners, and customers to distinguish real goods from fake ones, leading to increased costs, stolen sales, reputational harm, and brand dilution. Procurement and Production – Large manufacturers often lack the visibility needed to verify the authenticity of parts and raw materials and trace materials back to their source, a problem exacerbated by long, complex global supply chains, varying data and reporting quality across the vendor base, and a growing list of regulatory and compliance requirements. Sales – Cleverly manipulated labels and reverse-engineered products can make it difficult for consumers and corporations to spot counterfeit goods and for manufacturers to prove their provenance. In consumer goods, the problem is even more challenging because of the rapid growth of 3rd party and online retail channels. After-sales and Support – Counterfeits can lead to spikes in service requests, unnecessary and costly replacements, and skewed customer satisfaction figures. Invalid support requests not only consume time and budget, but they also make it hard for a company to isolate and address genuine problems in a timely fashion. Solution: Blockchain and IoT IoT provides unique identification and traceability, and blockchain provides a tamper-proof chain of custody information. Pairing them can create a shared, distributed ledger capable of recording the origin, location, and ownership of raw materials and products at each stage of the value chain – giving manufacturers,

partners, and customers the transparency and authentication they need. Thanks to their ability to immutably track and share genealogy across multiple stakeholders, Blockchain and IoT can inhibit counterfeiting in ways that traditional technologies cannot. The clear benefits of Modex BCDB and IoT End-to-end oversight of raw materials reduces product defects Since Blockchain with IoT serves as a single, immutable source of provenance data, companies can prevent defects due to fake parts and cut down on the labor spent validating materials and satisfying regulatory requirements. The moments when a product shows up at a warehouse and when it leaves are recorded in a verifiable event log which is easily accessible to all stakeholders. Manufacturers and

suppliers can use Modex BCDB (Blockchain Database) platform to authenticate items, flag deviations from agreed-upon sourcing arrangements, and prevent defective and inferior components from entering the production system. The improved visibility safeguards customers and protects the company from the risk of recalls, lawsuits, and reputational damage while lowering operating costs. Data provided by Smart Tags stored in a blockchain database reduces the likelihood of fraudulent sales This allows manufacturers, channel partners, third-party retailers, customers, and regulators to verify a product’s authenticity as goods move through the value chain, making it harder for counterfeit goods with adulterated labels to escape detection. Real-time authentication ensures that the preponderance of sales and revenues goes to legitimate brands and manufacturers. Regulators can digitally trace the provenance and chain of custody for any product being sold. Better tracing helps support centers prevent unnecessary servicing and repair. Frontend applications linked to the Modex BCDB platform make it

easy for support representatives to verify whether a claim is genuine, even without seeing the product. Faster and more accurate authentication allows support personnel to direct more of their time and resources to legitimate, highvalue purposes, improving responsiveness, reducing waste, and increasing customer satisfaction. About Modex BCDB Currently, the majority of blockchain solutions present on the market are oriented towards blockchain as a service, limiting themselves to a rigid view and application of the technology. A company or the CTO of a company can come to the realization, after a bit of study that their business can solve several issues and streamline back-end processes by implementing blockchain. The problem is that in order for a company to implement blockchain technology only through its own tech team, they need to invest a significant amount of time and resources to study what type of blockchain is most suited for their needs, and commence a lengthy process of learning the development specificity of the respective blockchain, as well as scouting for developers proficient in the technology. Modex BCDB is a new take on blockchain technology which removes the need to invest resources in blockchain training and facilitates fast adoption of the technology in businesses. The solution proposed by Modex is a

middleware which fuses a blockchain with a database to create a structure which is easy to use and understand by developers with no prior knowledge in blockchain development. As a result, any developer who knows to work with a database system can operate with our solution, without needing to change their programming style or learn blockchain. Through our blockchain component, Modex BCDB is able to transform with minimal changes any type of database into a decentralized database which holds the same valuable characteristics inherent to blockchain technology: transparency, increased security, data immutability, and integrity. Every enterprise is reserved and unwilling to make changes to its database, and for good reason, as data loss or data corruption constitute major risks. Modex BCDB doesn’t work by deleting the existing database, or data entries. The database is maintained intact throughout the process, data integrity is ensured by calculating the metadata of the records and storing it on the blockchain. Moreover, the system does not restrict access to the blockchain or to the database, so when a developer needs to make a reporting or ETL transformations, they can always perform warehouse analytics by accessing the database directly. This is because Modex BCDB has been purposely designed to be agnostic. With our solution, clients are able to set up a

network, regardless of the type of database employed. In a consortium, each company can maintain what type of database they prefer (Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Mogo DB), and connect them through a blockchainpowered network to ensure cohesion, availability while protecting corporate interests. About Modex Blockchain company Modex is promoting the adoption of blockchain technology and strongly believes in a future built around blockchain. Modex offers fully integrated services designed to solve the last mile adoption problem of the blockchain and aims to make blockchain user-friendly for every single device or person. At Modex, we can innovate thanks to our incredible team of experts and we offer services for the entire blockchain technology ecosystem: Marketplace for Smart Contracts, community tools for developers and blockchain as database services for enterprises. In over two years, using cutting-edge technologies and with a clear strategy, Modex has evolved from the world’s first app store for blockchain into a complex ecosystem designed for developers’ needs and enterprises looking for blockchain solutions. Our mission is to spread and facilitate the adoption of blockchain into society and to solve real-world problems using this revolutionary technology.

uTFT

Modex is a blockchain enablement platform We radically simplify blockchain deployment so businesses can balance security and innovation.

modex.tech contact@modex.tech

Edition 30 I 13


PAYMENTS THE FIN TECH TIMES

A Platform on a Cloud: The Financial Industry’s Bright New Horizon

By Martin Häring, Chief Marketing Officer, Finastra

The global financial system is in the midst of a tech-driven, transformational shift. Consider that in a recent survey by Business Insider, 89 percent of respondents said they use mobile banking—including 97 percent of millennials. When it comes to technology-driven innovation in the financial sector, the ability to check account balances and transfer funds via mobile device is only the tip of the iceberg. With fintechs and other digital disruptors bringing new products and services to market every day, banks looking to the future face a myriad of challenges and opportunities. Fortunately, even the most established legacy institutions can tap into the innovation happening in the fintech space via cloud-based platform technology. The future of finance is personalized, techdriven, and open

Unlimited access to movies and TV shows on demand, on any device; two-day shipping for almost any consumer product available to purchase (same-day, if you live certain cities); information on any topic, directions to any place, and a vast archive of images at our fingertips, 24/7. Given the environment today’s consumer is accustomed to, it’s no surprise that they expect instant gratification from any entity with which they do business. Waiting in line, being put on hold, corresponding by mail, and even having to visit a brick-and-mortar establishment of any kind are increasingly seen as inconveniences that warrant taking one’s business elsewhere—preferably, via app. Banks are not immune to consumer demands for speed and convenience. And despite their status as legacy institutions and significant investments in customer loyalty, banks are also not immune to competition. The fintech sector is booming: according to KPMG’s Pulse of Fintech report, global fintech funding reached $111.8 billion in 2018, up 120 percent from

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the previous year’s total of $50.8 billion. As of June, 2019 deal volume had exceeded the 2018 total, with 87 deals totaling $116.6 billion in value. In London alone, 114 deals worth a record $2.1 billion were completed in the first eight months of the year, and the American fintech hubs of San Francisco and New York saw investment totals of $3 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively, during the same period. Tech-driven disruptors are emerging in every corner of the financial services industry, from budgeting to investing to mortgage lending. Banks that fail to offer the digital tools and frictionless user experience that consumers prefer risk losing customers to these fintech challengers. But banks and fintechs don’t have to be sworn enemies. In fact, many have recognized that their complementary strengths can lead to successful, mutually beneficial partnerships. Instead of a fighting a losing battle against fintech firms, banks are employing open banking and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to join forces with emerging fintech providers and bring to market the services their customers demand. Adopting open architecture and sharing

data via APIs allows banks to provide personalized, convenient services to customers without having to build new tools from scratch .

The key to innovation lies within the cloud

Forrester predicts that the global cloud computing market will exceed $200 billion in 2019, and will then continue to grow 22 percent annually. Like many businesses, financial institutions of all sizes are realizing the power of the cloud. In a survey of senior finance executives, Gartner found that 36 percent of their enterprises will use the cloud to support more than half of their transactional systems of record by 2020. In the banking sector, cloud-based models can enable business agility and rapid evolution. Cloud-driven innovations can help banks satisfy evolving business needs without having to compromise on security and or take on the burden of investing in IT transformation.

Speed, agility, and analytics For developers, working in the cloud simplifies and accelerates the product development cycle while also minimizing risk. For example, product testing places a heavy burden on computing resources and can take unpredictable amounts of time. As a result, it substantially increases the peak capacity needed in-house, while also driving down the utilization rate. Conducting product tests in the cloud, on the other hand, removes this burden from the bank or fintech company’s day-to-day operating system. Creative, innovative IT departments and developers can take risks designing and launching new products, knowing that computing capacity can be adjusted as needed. This enables a level of agility in testing and launching new products that would not be available without the use of the cloud. In addition, financial firms that store data in the cloud can unlock powerful analytics capabilities by tapping into artificial intelligence and machine learning—processes that are far more viable in the cloud. This extra dimension of analytics maximizes

opportunities to bring successful products to market. Finally, a cloud-based development process enables organizations to roll out successful products immediately, with no holdups for procurement. As open banking proliferates, and more banks look to develop customer experiences that leverage new technology, banks that operate in the cloud will realize distinct advantages over those that do not.

Built-in security upgrades Historically, banks were reluctant to embrace the cloud due in large part to concerns about security. But in recent years, security has shifted from being a perceived weakness of cloud computing to one of its distinct strengths. Most individual banks are illequipped to compete with the security resources and standards upheld by public cloud providers. For example, Microsoft alone spends more than $1 billion a year on cloud security, whereas a study from Deloitte calculated that financial institutions annually spend an average of only $2,300 (£1,900) per full-time employee on cybersecurity. Another area that had historically given some financial institutions pause with regards to adopting the cloud is compliance. But regulators around the world have updated their thinking as cloud-based models have become more widespread—and more secure. For example, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority previously required physical access to servers for itself and auditors, which was problematic for multi-tenant public cloud users. But in 2016, the agency replaced its “choice and control” rules with broader data residency requirements (guaranteed by public cloud providers) and confirmed that it could see no fundamental reason why regulated entities should be prohibited from using cloud computing. Europe’s second Payment Services Directive (also known as PSD2), requiring banks to make customer account data accessible to qualified payment-service providers, creates avenues for partnerships between fintechs and banks, many of which rely on the cloud. And in the United States, the Conference of State

Bank Supervisors is working directly with fintech firms on ways to streamline regulation while maintaining strong consumer protections and local accountability.W With consumers pressuring financial services providers to innovate, and the cloud setting the stage for enhanced capabilities in product development, data analytics, and security, banks are at a crossroads: evolve—and quickly—or be left behind. For those that elect to embrace the fintech revolution, partnering with startups and disruptors is often the most realistic and effective way to offer the techdriven advances their customers demand. A platform solution allows banks to establish these relationships and plug into the tools and applications they need via open APIs, while also providing a number of related benefits to both the fintechs and the banks who participate.

Platformification: making the most of the cloud

While initially slow to adopt platform models, the banking industry is quickly recognizing the advantages they offer, too. Platformification introduces opportunities to grow revenue streams, attract new customers, and expand into adjacent industries. Perhaps most importantly, the combination of platforms, APIs and open banking is creating a multitude of powerful new ways to engage with customers at reduced costs. A platform model enables financial institutions to engage with a broader ecosystem (including fintechs) and realize valuable innovations at speeds that were unthinkable in previous eras. Unlike in the past, when innovation happened behind the closed doors of corporate R&D departments, today new ideas can stem from universities, corporations and fintechs. In many cases, the more uncommon the partnership, the more impressive the results it yields. When it comes to implementing new technology, historically the road to true innovation had meant core replacement: a complete overhaul of a bank’s proprietary IT infrastructure. Most of these core systems were established decades ago, extend


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throughout all facets of the banking ecosystem, and do not necessarily work seamlessly with new technologies and services that banks need to adopt to remain competitive. Because they were not designed with the latest technologies and bank functionality in mind, adding new solutions for bank customers requires shoehorning and patching. A core replacement is a tremendous undertaking for institutions of all sizes, and the implications are not limited to cost: the effects reverberate throughout the entire institution. Undertaking a core system overhaul is a complicated task, and one that is often prohibitively costly and disruptive—particularly for smaller regional or community banks. But thanks to platformification and open banking, banks don’t necessarily need to replace their existing cores to spur innovation. By embracing “platform-as-aservice,” or PaaS, banks can innovate around the core through the use of open APIs. The platform model also helps banks satisfy customerdriven expectations around open banking. Consumers are increasingly looking to leverage and access their personal data across services—for example, expecting one personal finance app to aggregate their accounts from a variety of institutions. By leveraging a platform model via the cloud, banks can make their customers’ data available, in a

secure way, to the applications and services in which they wish to use it.

Finastra is leading the open banking platform charge Finastra’s Platform-as-aService solution is purposebuilt to unlock innovation in financial services. FusionFabric. cloud is a hybrid development platform and API marketplace designed to champion collaboration and encourage innovation by opening up its core systems to all players in the financial services ecosystem – banks, fintechs, system integrators, independent developers, consultants, students – allowing third parties to develop applications on top, and enabling the development of a previously unachievable range of services. For legacy financial institutions, this makes it possible to lease integral banking software, hosted in the cloud, with pre-integrated fintech components. For emerging industry players, it offers a crucial competitive advantage via faster customer onboarding, which helps to facilitate rapid growth. FusionFabric.cloud is made up of 3 core components: • The Fusion Creator developer portal, which hosts Finastra’s API Catalog – providing access to its core system open APIs, complete with documentation and sandbox access.

• The Fusion Operate secure production environment, hosted on Microsoft Azure, which allows users to connect apps to Finastra software without having to build their own cloud infrastructure. • The Fusion Store, a marketplace from which applications developed on FusionFabric.cloud can be promoted, bought, sold and consumed. The Finastra platform connects innovative fintechs with banking institutions and other digital customers through a marketplace of self-discovery. As new APIs are created, they establish more fintech use cases, and more customers are attracted to the platform— facilitating increased value for platform users and growth across the entire industry. Leveraging the platform model, firms can deliver innovative applications quickly (new apps and products launch in an average of six to eight weeks) and at low cost, transforming their own operations and development centers. Additionally, as the FusionFabric.cloud community grows, the platform will act as a vendor, making apps developed by the fintech community’s rising stars available for purchase. Finastra’s ultimate goal is for their platform to transform financial services in much the same way that mobile app stores and their offerings

have transformed consumers’ everyday lives.

Examples of platformification in action

In September of 2019, Finastra announced the launch of two new applications built on its FusionFabric.cloud open development platform: Allied Bill Payment and RoboSave. These applications, built in collaboration with banks and credit unions, demonstrate the opportunity and utility that a platform model offers to both banks and fintech providers. The Allied Payment Network built its real-time bill pay solution, Allied Bill Payment, on the FusionFabric.cloud platform in conjunction with Certified Federal Credit Union. The application helps financial institutions retain and grow their customer base by allowing users to receive, store, and pay their bills all in one place, thus positioning the institution at the center of the consumer’s finances. It immediately moves funds from the user’s bank account, limiting risk to the credit union, and will soon allow an instant funds push to the biller for immediate confirmation that the bill has been paid. Using FusionFabric. cloud, Allied was able to reduce their development and integration time from 10 weeks to only two days. Atlanta-based fintech Monotto used FusionFabric. cloud to build an automated savings tool called RoboSave.

While existing personal finance apps general rely on users to take action to build their savings, Robosave makes establishing a financial safety net automatic. The application examines users’ spending patterns to calculate what amount of money is an appropriate target to set aside for emergency savings. Then, using artificial intelligence, RoboSave determines how much consumers can comfortably save without affecting their spending habits, and automatically allocates that amount toward their emergency fund savings target. Integrating RoboSave to FusionFabric.cloud yielded contracts with several Finastra clients, who are able to onboard the app in less than one week. In today’s tech-driven, datarich business environment, innovation moves faster than ever before. Conducting business at the speed of tech—and keeping pace with customer expectations—can present significant challenges to financial institutions. But technology also opens new doors to opportunity. Partnerships between financial institutions and disruptors in the fintech space enable banks to offer a greater breadth of products and services, personalize their offerings to address specific customer needs, and deepen customer relationships at a lower cost than was possible in the past. Leveraging a cloud-based

platform to conduct these partnerships enables banks and fintechs to take full advantage of the speed, agility, and security offered by today’s public-facing cloud providers. As regulatory support for fintech grows, and financial institutions realize the power of the cloud, Finastra continues to evolve to support the growth of groundbreaking products and partnerships. As Chief Marketing Officer, Martin Häring is a member of the executive leadership team at Finastra and responsible for the global marketing organization and strategy. A driver of innovation with over 25 years’ experience in technology marketing, Martin is an influential tech marketer and regular speaker and blogger on digital transformation within the world of financial services. Examining how technology can unlock the potential of people and businesses and enable financial inclusion, Martin is recognized for his thought leadership around Open Banking. He is also known for his focus on client engagement and pioneering ideas around enhancing the customer experience. Martin joined Finastra (formerly Misys) in October 2013 as Chief Marketing Officer and, prior to that, held executive leadership positions at Sun Microsystems, Oracle and Akamai Technologies Inc. – a content delivery network and cloud security services provider. You can follow him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin. com/in/martinhaering

uTFT

Edition 30 I 15


FEATURE THE FIN TECH TIMES

Industry Learns from the Fiascos of the Past. Just Kidding! Capital One Hacked… Credit card giant Capital One has admitted to suffering from one of the largest data breaches in the industry’s history.

By Matthew Dove

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n a statement, the firm revealed that personal details of around 106 million individuals in the US and Canada have been stolen. The breach is believed to be the work of a lone hacker and is a galling reminder of the structural fragility of some of our most influential institutions. Capital One explained how the hacker was able to “exploit” a “configuration vulnerability” in the company’s tech stack. It’s believed that 100 million American users were affected as well as a further 6 million in Canada. Roughly 140,000 US social security numbers and 80,000 linked bank account numbers were compromised as a result of the hack. The stolen information includes names, addresses and phone numbers of people who applied for Capital One products. However, no credit card account numbers are thought to have been accessed. A lone suspect, Paige Thompson, 33, is in police custody following her arrest on Monday 30 July. Reportedly, Thompson was detained by authorities having boasted about her involvement in the hack via a post online. A software engineer from Seattle,

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Thompson is being held on charges of computer fraud and abuse. According to the US attorney’s office in Washington, Thompson’s bragging was brought to Capital One’s attention by a concerned user of a chat forum. “On July 17 2019, a GitHub user who saw the post alerted Capital One to the possibility it had suffered a data theft.” Nonetheless, the hacker’s nefarious activities weren’t formally identified until 19 July and it was a further 10 days before the credit firm deigned to issue a press release. Richard D. Fairbank, Chairman and CEO had this to say; “While I am grateful that the perpetrator has been caught, I am deeply sorry for what has happened… I sincerely apologise for the understandable worry this incident must be causing those affected and I am

committed to making it right.” The company’s extended musings on the incident raise as many questions as they address. For a start the breach wasn’t detected internally. Why not? As Capital One freely admits; “The configuration vulnerability was reported to us by an external security researcher through our Responsible Disclosure Program.” Secondly, despite the fact that, “We encrypt our data as a standard. Due to the particular circumstances of this incident, the unauthorised access also enabled the decrypting of data.” How? At March’s Senate hearing into the 2017 Equifax data breach, Sen. Tom Carper decried what he saw as a “cultural indifference to cybersecurity” at the credit scoring goliath. The hearing’s findings also lead Peter White of Rethink Technology Research

to assert; “security is a “grudge” purchase, during periods when things are not being hacked, finance guys cut funds to support proper process.” With this latest clanger set to cost Capital One a sizeable “$100 to $150 million in 2019” (according to its own estimates), one wonders how long cybersecurity will remain a “grudge purchase” for the institutions charged with the protection of our most personal information. uTFT

Capital One Hack – The Industry Reacts Over 100 million people affected in Capital One’s breach, 147 million in Equifax – two of the biggest in an ever-growing line-up of attacks through web application firewalls that are used to protect consumer-facing apps. Here, Eyal Wachsman, CEO of Cymulate and Will LaSala of OneSpan share their insights… Eyal Wachsman, CEO of Cymulate, believes the problem lies in the failure to make minor configuration improvements which leads to catastrophic consequences. For Equifax, that cost is now estimated at $1.4B; “When not configured properly, attackers may be able to perform SQL injections, arbitrary command injections and other attacks such as xss. When successful, these attacks enable threat actors to bypass the WAF reaching the applications back-end server or dumping the database of the application. With Capital One, the misconfiguration enabled the attacker to use three commands to access, list and copy or sync the folders. If configured properly the WAF would have blocked these commands.” Will LaSala, Director Security Solutions, Security Evangelist, OneSpan added; “Systems and network engineers have access to all kinds of personal data in most systems, and it only takes one bad actor to shine light on a huge potential security hole. In most organisations, the people that develop and code the systems have access to underlying controls that can be modified to meet a malicious insider’s nefarious needs. Having proper DevSecOps, processes and procedures in place will help organisations analyse what is happening and detect the necessary actions to stop bad actors in their tracks, before they can cause huge damage. But processes alone are sometimes not enough, and this is where technologies that automatically harden backend and client side systems can help organisations face insider attacks head on.” And in case anyone had forgotten, here’s what Capital One’s CEO, Richard D. Fairbank, had to say by way of contrition; “While I am grateful that the perpetrator has been caught, I am deeply sorry for what has happened… I sincerely apologise for the understandable worry this incident must be causing those affected and I am committed to making it right.” To (liberally) paraphrase a line by poet John Clare; “O words are poor receipts for what hackers hath stole away” uTFT

“With capital one, the misconfiguration enabled the attacker to use three commands to access, list and copy or sync the folders. If configured properly the waf wouldhave blocked these commands.” – Eyal Wachsman


TOKENISATION T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

DIGITAL PRIVATE PLACEMENTS DISRUPTING THE DISRUPTERS WITH STANDARDS JEFFREY SWEENEY CEO US Capital Global

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igital securities, STO’s, blockchain equities, are all securities, plain and simple. They fall under the same rules and regulation as all other securities. But we also all know that not all securities and markets are the same. For the retail market, there are the more highly regulated public securities, the home of large public corporations. Private securities are the home of a significant other element of the economy; smaller business, early stage entrepreneurial firms, alternative assets, real estate etc.. The impact of digitization applied to these distinct markets will be significantly very different. Public markets trade at high volumes, at wireline speeds, and they are already highly standardized. Private securities are low volume, trade at analog speed, and very customized. Private securities are ripe for distinct efficiencies provided by digitization. Private securities are offered to a limited number of accredited investors and they trade very infrequently, if ever. The advantages of digitization here are quite dynamic. In private markets digitization can bring increased standardization, improved visibility, and development of secondary trading where little or none existed before. These advantages can be achieved in digital private markets by adopting standardized derivative contracts, combined, with the key functions of counterparties like regulated asset managers, broker dealers and custodians. This article elaborates on this model.

Derivatives as a Path to Standardization The suggested strategy for digitization of private placements is to make them available as a derivative product. A derivative contract, or product, is an economic interest or contract in the underlying

asset or security, while that security is held by a custodian. This will simplify the complex underlying subscription agreements, and make them easier to sell in a primary or secondary marketplace. This approach addresses two key friction points for alternatives; excessive customization of transactions or securities, and regulatory risk. This form of digitization of the economic interest in the underlying security is also compatible with using forward thinking commercial custodians to secure transactions and ownership. All of this is based on achieving increased standardization and ease of trade. Think commodity trading, the pioneer of derivative contracts. Derivatives themselves are nothing new and already represent a 500 trillion-dollar market. But this protocol should also be used in the rollout of the digital private security marketplace. If you use a derivative model with a simplified subscription, and if you custody the asset of the derivative with a regulated asset manager, then you can compartmentalize the risk and streamline the overall subscription and trading process. This specific modality creates a more standardized derivative product, minimizes counterparty risk, eases reporting, and facilitates higher volume price discovery and transactions.

The Challenge in Standardizing Private Placements There are many current efforts to elaborate smart contract standards for financial transactions and securities, but current business practices are complex and voluminous, and the encoding of these terms is a significant undertaking. The Hyperledger project and Ethereum Alliance are working on digital smart

contract specifications. The current ERC catalogue includes ~58 final and ~150 draft, EIP specifications these include basic execution functionality, smart contracting terms, vendor interface specifications. But this is just a small portion of what needs to be achieved to address the overall challenge of standardizing the issuance of digital securities. And so, when issuers today seek to offer native digital securities, this typically involves significant and costly custom specification of terms for their STOs. This creates a major barrier to issuance. In the long term this will become more standardized and interoperable, but in the short term this complexity can result in issuance documents that may be difficult for the investor to confidently assess, and thus inhibits the adoption of digitization benefits. Derivatives are inherently shorter contracts and they refer to the more complex underlying asset or security in an annex or appendix. Thus, providing a simpler and shorter contract to digitize.

Key Issues in Risk Control Key elements of risk in private securities include fraud, misrepresentation, transaction security, visibility and reporting. For fraud and misrepresentation, regulated broker dealers are responsible for the due diligence associated with bad actors, valuations, etc. These licensed professionals evaluate and attest to the specifics of the offering. For traditional transactional security, issuers and investors rely on custodians and related transfer agents to ensure that securities are safe and not lost or transferred in fraud or error. In traditional ‘electronic’ markets (which may be managed by computerized ledgers), if there is an error, or some sort of transactional fraud, the rightful owner can inspect the records and unwind an erroneous transfer. While digitization through cryptographically secure transactions may provide some additional security to the description and identity records of securities ownership and transfer, it also raises some new risks because of the difficulty

of recovering lost assets (think Mt Gox). We need to implement custody practices for unwinding erroneous or fraudulent digital security transactions. These traditional regulated roles of broker dealer and custodians, provide key asset and transactional security to the ‘fintech’ of digital securities. But the use of derivatives greatly enhances the ability to facilitate these controls.

Counterparty Roles in Derivatives There are three regulated counterparties to consider in risk containment of the underlying security; the financial advisor, the asset manager, and the custodian.. First registered investment advisors are often the proxy for direct investor interest in private placements. Their role is to conduct investment analysis and make recommendations to investors about risk, rate of return and suitability. Is the asset fundamentally a good fit for the investor, his portfolio, and strategy? In the case of derivatives, they will rely on the role of the asset manager to conduct due diligence for fraud, sound financials, and clear risk disclosures as well accurate potential rates of return. The regulated asset manager is responsible for a correct

representation of the risk and potential rate of return underlying the asset. The asset managers of the underlying assets thus assume and contain this risk, so that investment advisors and investors can rely on the professional representations and focus their attention on portfolio strategy. Finally, there is transactional risk. Everyone has heard stories of someone losing all their crypto coins because they lost the key to their e-wallet. This transactional risk can be addressed in digital securities by using regulated custodians to custody the rights to the derivative. The investor is thus secured against fraudulent or erroneous transactions.

Additional Reporting With Derivatives For even the least widely held public securities there are significant reporting requirements, ongoing news and price visibility. But what about private placements? The structure of a derivative can create specific additional investor rights around financial reporting requirements on a quarterly basis, notice of cap chart changes, press release announcements etc.. These rights may not have originally existed to the owner of the

underlying asset, but are contractually agreed to by the asset manager in the terms of a ‘side letter’ enhancing the rights of the investor in the underlying security. So while the ‘fintech’ of security digitization addresses some concerns of investors in private placements, the ‘regtech’ of packaging these securities into derivative offerings with specific investor rights, addresses significant other issues of risk and visibility.

In Summary – Digital Securities in Private Placements Any significant technology advance comes with some initial ambiguity. Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, digital securities, each of these revolutions comes in many different flavors and affects different use cases. The advantages (and challenges) of digitization of securities are very different for investors in private placements vs. public securities. Using a derivative model in the digitization of securities, can bring higher levels of standardization in subscription agreements and investor rights to private securities and increase their acceptance, distribution, and secondary trading. uTFT


INCUBATORS THE FIN TECH TIMES

From Hammersmith With Love Meet the Incubator at the Heart of British CySec Innovation

Robert Ludlam never had Jason Bourne losing his tail in Ravencroft Park and Ian Fleming never let Bond wander into a honeypot at St Paul’s Hotel. Hell, before preparations for this piece began - and to his eternal shame even TFT’s Matthew Dove hadn’t set foot in Hammersmith for more than a decade... By Matthew Dove

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owever, the times they are a’ changin’ and the leafy western borough now finds itself subject of interest from, not only lowly fintech hacks but the global intelligence community as well. Somewhere in the midst of this feverish intrigue is the cybersecurity incubator at Cylon... Hammersmith has been slowly coming to the world’s attention as a tech and media hub and in 2018 its ascent was cemented. Last year, the launch of a new 10-year partnership between Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Imperial College London saw West challenge East for supremacy of the digital landscape. Regarding fintech’s prospects in the area, what W6 lacks in proximity to the City it more than makes up for in vision, expertise and funding. With office occupancy in the borough rising by nearly 30% in the last year and more than three quarters of the population being young professionals, Hammersmith is a tech upstart with serious potential. It’s at the vanguard of this meteoric rise that CyLon finds itself.

THE INCUBATOR By its own admission, CyLon “focuses exclusively on growing cybersecurity businesses” and central to CyLon’s business model is its incubator. The biannual selection of startups (collectively known as “cohorts”) has been running since 2015. Having “accelerated” 83 cybersecurity startups in its short history and boasting of being the 5th most active CySec investor globally, it was no surprise to find the offices of CyLon a veritable hive of activity when we popped in last month. Nonetheless, Miranda Ward was kind enough to spend her lunch hour briefing us on September’s intake or Cohort 9 as it’s otherwise known. CyLon’s director of

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communications was quick to explain the hubbub we’d just wandered into. “we’ve seen about 10 piches this morning and will have another 10 or so this afternoon. We won’t finish until about 1900/1930 tonight.” CyLon’s incubator isn’t just about funding opportunities for tech startups, it’s about the free exchange of ideas and expertise. Considering the mind-boggling complex nature of the sector they deal in, CyLon clearly values human interaction and clear communication uber alles. Speaking of prospective candidates and the selection process, Ward told us; “we try to get as many of the team here, in person, as we can… then in that room we’ve got a panel of six or seven investors from across enterprise and then our CyLon team as well, just to get an even spread.” At this point, it became clear that CyLon look a little closer than the mere 1s and 0s before throwing their weight behind a project. “[the candidates] get technical questions from the investors and their prospective customers and then we look at them from the perspective of ‘are they the right team?’ The two main things we look at are the team and the product… Does the team

gel together – that’s why we try to get them here together – and do they have a solid background, not just in cyber skills but sales skills, entrepreneurial skills, have they built businesses before? Then, what’s their idea? There’s so much out there at the moment in cyber that the market is very crowded.” Peter White of Rethink Technology recently opined that, for big institutions, cybersecurity is becoming a “grudge purchase.” It’s for this reason – supplementary of market competition - that Ward feels cyber is perhaps the toughest entry point for any startup. This, in turn, makes the rigorousness of CyLon’s selection process all the more necessary. “We’re down to our final

20 and I think we had about 120 applications. We spent all of last week going through each application, rating each applicant and doing as much due diligence as possible, which isn’t easy at such an early stage.” The culmination is the chance to pull up a chair at one of the most exclusive tables in London; “By the time they join us, they’ve gone from 120 to 8. So, for us, it’s all about quality. We don’t have to take 8 but if there are 8 of exceptional quality, then we’ll take them.” If the calibre of the crops seen in previous years is anything to go by then Ward clearly speaks without bluster or hyperbole.

ALUMNI The CVs of some of CyLon’s more prominent alumni more like NSA or MI5 dossiers than they do the resumes of tech wunderkind... Joining CyLon as a part of Cohort 7 in 2017, RipJar’s homepage declares, with lofty ambition, that its solutions aim to counter, “global money laundering, terrorism and criminal networks.” (Add in “get the girl” and you’ve got yourself the latest Bond outing!) The company’s main offering is Labyrinth, which claims to “integrate, automate, and to analyse any data; to answer any question.” Using advanced AI and data visualisation, RipJar’s marquee stack blends structured and unstructured data sources to search for and discover answers

across numerous boundaries. Tellingly, CEO Jeremy Annis’s LinkedIn page has a full decade omitted between 1994-2014, which perhaps belies his years of experience as an intelligence professional and data scientist with GCHQ. At CyLon, Annis was in familiar company as fellow alumus Senseon CEO, David Atkinson, also spent an extensive period of his early career developing cybersecurity protocols for the Ministry of Defence. After hanging up his cloak and dagger, Atkinson served as commercial director for Darktrace before birthing a new model of “AI triangulation” at Senseon. The fiendishly complex proposition applies AI algorithms to supervise, monitor and protect an institution’s network by bringing together multiple strands of information to expose a data set’s latent inconsistencies. If you’re not feeling a slight, paranoid clamminess forming on your brow, wait ‘til you hear what another CyLon graduate, DeepView, is up to! The social media risk manager provides real-time alerts for employee data breaches via photos, videos and text posted via Facebook, Twitter et al. DeepView even maintains archives of employee conversations across “encrypted social media channels on personal, BYOD and corporate devices including WhatsApp, WeChat and LinkedIn”,

according to its homesite. Unlike Annis and Atkinson, DeepView’s CEO Kitty Parry arrived at cybersecurity via the scenic route of PR and wedding planning. Her aptitude for the dark arts, however, appears more than comparable to that of her colleagues from the intelligence community.

THE SUBURB THAT CAME IN FROM THE COLD The next time you find yourself ambling through the streets of West London, absentmindedly posting pictures of confidential documents to your Twitter feed; remember, they’re watching you! Hammersmith, with CyLon at its heart, could easily blossom into a cybersecurity hub to rival the likes of Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv. Furthermore, with the water that separates corporations and governments increasingly muddied, cybersecurity is becoming an issue which affects both in equal measure. It’s unsurprising then to see a migration of talent from GCHQ, Unit 8200 and the NSA finding its way into the private sector. But who would have thought so many spooks would end up in Hammersmith? uTFT


CHALLENGERS T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

MONZO VS REVOLUT VS N26 VS STARLING Who’s the Baddest Kid on the Block? The past decade has seen the rise of the challenger bank. It’s an agile, tech-savvy new prospect designed to place the consumer at the centre of the financial universe and rob legacy institutions of their fiercely-guarded market hegemony.

HISTORY The oldest newbie on our list is N26 (known as Number 26 until 2016) which was founded in February 2013. Headquartered in Berlin, the challenger rose to prominence in 2016 when PayPal founder Peter Thiel took a break from suing news agencies and ponied up €10 million through Valar Ventures. Starling was founded by UBS and RBS alum Anne Boden in 2014 and is arguably the UK’s oldest challenger. Having fostered a reputation for hiring the best and brightest it comes as no surprise that another digital bank was conceived inside its walls. Monzo (formerly Mondo), established in 2015, is the brainchild of Tom Blomfield, Jonas Huckestein, Jason Bates, Paul Rippon and Gary Dolman, all of whom started out at Starling. In the same year, Revolut entered the market with former Lehman Brother and Credit Suisse derivatives trader, Nikolay Stronosky at the helm. NUMBERS By 2018, Monzo had upgraded all its pre-paid clients to full-account holders and boasted of a hugely successful funding round which brought in excess of £100 million into the coffers. This year, the bank’s annual report cited another £113 million on top of that, as well as 2 million active users with deposits totalling £461.8 million as of Feb. 2019. All this brought to you by a team of just 713 “Monzonauts”. As of summer 2019, N26 asserted that it has 3.5 million users across 24 European

BUSINESS OFFERING

countries. The volumes involved aren’t to be sniffed at either. The Germans are handling €2 billion per month and the equivalent of 400 transactions per minute with a staff of 1,300. With an estimated value of $1.5 billion, Revolut’s 750+ employees are no slouches. The challenger has a reported 6 million users who’ve engaged in over 350 million transactions with a combined worth somewhere north of $40 billion. Starling is bringing up the rear with 650,000 users as

All four offer digital banking services but with subtle differences in their business offerings. N26 provides a free basic current account and a Debit MasterCard card to all its customers, as well as a Maestro card for their customers in certain markets. Additionally customers can access option overdraft and investment products. Pipping Starling to the SME post by a year, Revolut are moving fast (whilst presumably hoping to avoid breaking things) by offering an extensive package beyond mere retail products. As their website puts it;

of summer this year, as well as a fledgling SME business (established in 2018) totalling 55,000 accounts. Don’t write off the little-challenger-thatcould just yet though as they’ve also secured a £100 million slice of the Capability and Innovation Fund. Starling clearly has the confidence of the UK government. As Boden told us in June; “The intention of the fund is to break the stronghold of the

“Revolut for Business is a business account platform for domestic and international payments, designed to save you time and money ... Our Open API allows you to seamlessly integrate your Revolut business account into your workflow. Use it to automate cross-border business payments, send payouts to clients or employees and monitor transactions according to your business’ needs.”

By Matthew Dove Whilst measures like PSD2 and the Capability and Innovation Fund have allowed numerous challenger banks to thrive in the UK, few have picked up the kind of momentum required to unsettle the City’s old guard. However, there are 4 digital banks who might just have what it takes. Monzo, Revolut, N26 and Starling are all making serious noise and here we’ll compare and contrast the fortunes of this most disruptive quartet...

big banks in the SME market. It’s been awarded to the banks that can actually shake up the competition.”

Surprisingly, Monzo have been a little slower off the mark. As of February 2019, the current account whiz had only tentatively launched its first 100 business accounts on a trial basis.

WHOOPSIE DAISIES Running a bank ain’t easy, just ask Fred Goodwin. So, it’s not surprising that our four upstarts have hit a few road bumps along the way. Revolut has perhaps led the field in whoopsie daisies this year; in March the challenger faced a FCA probe of lapses in its AML protocols as well as garnering a reputation for having a “toxic” office culture. And that’s without mentioning the company’s illreceived attempt at a humorous Valentine’s Day ad campaign (in which customers who’d ordered takeaway-for-one on the 14th

were asked, “you OK hun?”). Sorry, I suppose I did mention it... Similarly, N26 has found itself subject to unwanted attention from the regulator over its anti-money laundering safeguards. Following a probe, BaFin ordered the German digital bank to remove backlogs in monitoring, establish process descriptions and workflows in writing, and re-identify a number of pre-existing customers.

Blomfield’s baby may have problems of a slightly different order, as the heady pace of its ascent shows signs of taking its toll. Monzo’s last annual report revealed losses rising to £47.2 million, up 54% on the previous year with Blomfield himself conceding that there’s, “still plenty of work to do to get to profitability.” Starling’s most public source of consternation stems from its seeming inability to cling to some of its most talented employees. The bank has lost product director Ben Chisell, (who departed for a position at Oaknorth), Megan Caywood (now at Barclays) and, most recently, COO Julian Sawyer in the last 7 months alone.

CONCLUSION

It’s apples and oranges isn’t it? A matter of taste. When it comes to challenger banks, only a fool

makes concrete predictions, the sand shifting beneath our feet on an almost daily basis. In terms of international remittance, Revolut is probably the best bet offering as it does the interbank rate. Starling and Monzo on the other hand charge the MasterCard rate. Unlike Revolut though, Starling and Monzo both offer interest with their current accounts for savers although neither is juicy enough to trouble the incumbents much.

Blomfield and Boden seem to have their apps nailed although N26 and Revolut aren’t far behind when it comes to ease of use and UX. Open banking APIs also allow Monzo and Starling users to see all their accounts in one place via a partnership with Yolt. Despite all the bells and whistles, the differences between N26, Monzo, Revolut and Starling are superficial. The same could be said of the differences between the challengers and the legacy banks. Like Goldman, Barclays and co., our intrepid quartet still face the age-old problem of generating revenue without falling foul of the regulator. With each of our four investing heavily in the expansion of its offerings and services to achieve just that, the one predication one can confidently make is that the

line between challenger and incumbent will continue to blur. Who’ll dominate the market and who’ll slip beneath the waves? Well, that’s anyone’s guess...

uTFT

Edition 30 I 19


LEADERSHIP THE FIN TECH TIMES

The True Value Proposition of Fintech TFT sent its most jaded hack, senior editor Matthew Dove, to meet with Innovate Finance CEO Charlotte Crosswell at her outfit’s summit in the Guildhall. Armed with only a battered LG phone and a cynicism bordering on the unhealthy, Dove was about to get schooled in the true value proposition of fintech by one of its most enthusiastic advocates… By Matthew Dove

Conference Flaws Before sitting down with the CEO of one of the UK’s most influential fintech advocacy groups, TFT took a brief amble around the plush conference floor where two things were immediately notable. The first was the buzz surrounding the imminent arrival of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had been booked to appear on the previous day but had to reschedule (rumour has it that Mr Hammond requested a postponement until October 31 but organisers had replied, ‘Non!’). Such was the reverence surrounding Hammond’s appearance that TFT felt almost entirely uncomfortable making jokes about the Chancellor’s cack-handed suggestion of a “blockchain border” for Northern Ireland post-Brexit. This in turn highlighted the second notable; namely that Innovate Finance is most certainly not rebel country. Every other booth and banner seemed to be festooned with the old school ties of a Barclays, RBS or BlackRock. Case and point was made when our man at InnFin was unceremoniously (but ever-so politely) bounced from the “Deloitte Lounge”, having wandered in absentmindedly, mouth full of complimentary flapjack. When at last we managed to track down our very much in-demand host, this contradiction of legacy-lead “disruption” formed the basis for our leading question. Huddled conspiratorially in a quiet corner, TFT first asked about Crosswell’s experience at NASDAQ during the financial crisis and how that experience influenced her view of the financial sector. Unflustered, Crosswell deflected the rather barbed enquiry with a deftness that was to characterise the rest of the exchange.

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“Do you know, I’ve never been asked that question before, quite interesting...I turned up at NASDAQ and found a company that would’ve called itself a startup, so I never wrote a memo again. I wrote a two line email to get something done. They had that culture and I suppose that’s why fintech attracts me.” As for the spikier allusion to the financial crisis, Crosswell added; “What we really saw was the companies that were IPOing and raising capital didn’t really change. NASDAQ was very well known for its tech stocks, now it’s an exchange for everything. Tech was continuing to boom just like fintech is now. There was less focus I suppose on the financial crisis and more saying ‘how do these tech solutions come through and solve this?’

do we show that fintech is changing that?” Striking a pragmatic chord of reconciliation, Crosswell proceeded to answer her own question by emphasising the need for pan-sector cooperation. “The banks have managed to do that through partnerships with the fintechs...they’re learning from the culture of fintech. That’s why you’re seeing these partnerships constantly being announced now. If fintech can’t do that, then it’s going to miss its purpose in life.” The zeal with which Crosswell approaches the task of harmonising seemingly discordant interests was confirmed when she surmised that;

Charlotte’s Web Having failed to lure Crosswell into a round of bank-bashing (a favoured pastime at TFT Towers), we took a slightly more direct route and asked; can fintech be used to ameliorate the worst excesses of the legacy system or is it just another tool to wielded by whoever has the deepest pockets? Perhaps sensing an “angle” forming, Crosswell calmly asserted that, “the theme of the summit is the value of fintech to society”, she then allowed a short, thoughtful pause before declaring deliberately, “this is what I choose as the theme this year.” These words not only exposed the mettle of our host, but also what she sees as the true value proposition of fintech; “Fintech has this opportunity to serve the underserved. How do we solve the problems of the unbanked? 16 million people in this country have less than a hundred pounds in savings, 16 million. A lot of people rely on payday lenders as their only source of funds as they don’t think banking is for them. How

very supportive of anything industry can do and I say this constantly to our members, we don’t have to wait for government to announce things to get them done. Industry can solve it and maybe we solve it quicker.” Whilst having a laissez faire Tory government behind the wheel may be of grave concern to some, Crosswell, typically enough, isn’t fazed; “I’m very encouraged to hear government saying to industry that, ``we’re really pleased with the initiatives your doing.``’’ One public/private sector collaboration the former Exadin director holds especially dear is the Rent Recognition Challenge. “We did [the Challenge] last year for which I was one of the judges. The Treasury pledged £2 million to companies to find a way to keep a digital record of how you pay your rent. This, after all, is a generation of renters and if there’s no digital record of that, then how are people going to get on the mortgage ladder? If you’ve rented for twenty years, at the moment there’s no proof that who’ve paid your rent. If you pay the council rent, then the chances are that that council isn’t keeping a record of the fact that you’re a good renter. The Rent Recognition Challenge was about creating a record but it’s also about allowing you to open a bank account because you can show that you’ve got a credit record. Then we said “let’s go and push that again to extend to affordable credit.” Asked if fintech could play a role in lowering barriers for entry simply by facilitating better record keeping, Crosswell confirmed; “Yes, and one of the best companies I’ve seen for that was Dragon’s Den-style in the big meeting room in the Treasury. They were a couple of lovely guys from the north of England who came in having seen first hand the problems there. Everybody had told them that councils were too difficult and that they’d never push it through.

Charlotte Croswell, CEO Innovate Finance “The best part of my job is hanging out with the fintech companies who are doing that. But also hanging out with the financial institutions who are trying to show that they can also do it.”

Digital Exclusion Zealous though Crosswell may be, a zealot she most certainly is not. Throughout her speaking engagements at the summit, the chief exec was keen to tackle the potential downsides inherent in rapid fintech innovation head-on. When asked to follow-up her remarks on an earlier panel regarding the need to avoid “digitally excluding” the underbanked, she answered; “Well, the government’s very concerned about just that. You may have heard in the Spring Statement about the Fintech Challenge on Affordable Credit. I’ve been talking to the Treasury a lot about that. They’re always

And they said, ‘we don’t care, we’re gonna push it through’ and they went to the council and they started digitising those records. That’s what fintech can do, that’s the power of it. Then it goes all the way through to things like blockchain and making banks more efficient.”

Tokenomics Seizing on the subject of blockchain tech, TFT moved the conversation to the omnipresence of tokenisation and its claim to “democratise investment.” Specifically, whether this reminds Crosswell of the “democratisation of credit” which proved so toxic in the lead-up to the subprime mortgage crash? “When I was talking to the Bank of England about this, it became clear that it’s really hard for regulators to decide where to go on this. There’s blockchain, there’s Bitcoin, there’s crypto and so on. When you look at blockchain in isolation, it’s a distributed ledger and that’s all it is...It’s a really tough one for regulators though. No-one wants to be the one which over-regulates but at the same time no-one wants to under-regulate either. You see adverts on the Tube for unregulated products which are consumer-based saying, ‘Come and buy Bitcoin!’ and we don’t want to see another financial crisis coming out of that.”

The Gender Dilemma With our allotted time now perilously close to elapsing, focus was abruptly shifted to the unavoidable issue of gender in fintech. Few are better placed than Crosswell to speak unedited on the subject given the fact that her organisation is 75% female and thus an extreme rarity.

TFT: On a panel this morning, you mentioned that women are still seriously under-represented in fintech. CC: That’s right 17% female founders and 29% across the sector.

TFT: It almost seems as though fintech is a more unappealing environment for women than the legacy organisations. CC: I know, shocking!

TFT: How can you change that? CC: From our side, we run

fintech programmes where we get female founders in to see VCs on female-only investment days. The VCs are very keen to invest in women but they can’t get them. They say they can’t get them but they’re out there, it’s just that women are less likely to ask by nature. Now, if you look back at banking, where did fintech come from? It generally came from people from senior positions who’ve done very well in their career so had the capital to take a risk and try a start-up. And guess what? That was a male dominated world! What we’re trying to work is; is that going to be a trend that continues? We want to make sure that it doesn’t continue and we’ve got a survey going out for which we’ll have data in the next two months. I’ve said don’t give me the founders, give me the next level down...because if that’s 4045% women, then it will solve itself. It will still need a little push but it will solve itself. We also need to get more women into investing. We currently have 48% of investors with no women on their investment teams. We have to inspire more women to sit there, we have to go into schools and say “you know what? Technology and finance can be for women!” Women aren’t risk averse but they are risk aware and it’s important for us to tell them that it’s fine to be risk aware but come and solve the problems that are out there. The key here is that women respond to value and purpose when they’ve got a role where they think they can make a difference. Seventy percent of our team are female, why? Because, as an industry body we can make a tremendous difference in what we do if we get it right. We seem to be getting there, we’ll keep an eye on those numbers though, as it’s not going to change overnight. But I certainly think we can change things.

TFT: Your theory that women are more valuecentric certainly bodes well for humanity!

CC: But all millennials are too! The point is, let’s get more people starting fintech companies and changing financial services for the better.

uTFT All images courtesy of Innovate Finance.


LEADERSHIP T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

Financial innovation is chocked full of mind-bending concepts and Money 20/20 serves as an international celebration of all that’s sublime and ridiculous in fintech today. At this year’s European conference in Amsterdam, TFT’s senior editor Matthew Dove sat down with ANNERIE VREUGDENHIL to try and make some sense of it all. ING’s Chief Innovation Officer Wholesale Banking certainly didn’t disappoint...

If ING’s Annerie Vreugdenhil Is “Immutable Wrong” Then We Don’t Wanna Be Right!

By Matthew Dove TFT: What have you learned from Money 20/20 so far this year?

AV: With respect to last year, the similarities are obvious. There’s an awful lot of payments and we’re still seeing an awful lot innovation taking place in that area. There’s a lot of payments companies, panels and everything. What I see way more this year than last year is regtech, anti-money laundering, that sort of thing. That’s way bigger than I’ve seen here before. So, that’s something that strikes me.

TFT: Do you think people are just now realising the cost-benefit to using those sorts of technologies?

AV: I’m not even sure it’s about cutting out expense. We’re just starting to see that the technology is at a level that we can be more reliant on it to discover money laundering and that it’s implementable. Part of the complexity of using technology for this, especially if you haven’t developed it by yourself is; how can you deal with the technology of a fintech or start-up on a data set that you have to protect? I think, to me, it feels more like it’s technology driven. It’s starting to reach a maturity where it’s more accessible for banks to at least take a look. I also think the incumbent banks are more ready to use AI on their data sets. Everybody speaks about how they have a goldmine of data but this data is not necessarily easily accessible. You see banks progressing with their data-led strategies and making their data accessible for their own use. Then it’s a good time to start implementing technological applications on top of that.

TFT: As we get to grips with these huge data sets, will the implied value of data be realised?

It’s big, we can do a lot of things with data which we couldn’t do as well before. For example, we created an algorithm, first for our own traders, called Katana which basically made their hit ratio when they had to price a bond, better. It made their spread for the next bid better, like, a lot better. A 25% better hit ratio and a 30-40% better price. Then we were approached by asset managers who said “can we have this algorithm?” We came to the conclusion that they have a different need to a trader in a bank. A trader in a bank wants to do a one-sided trade, they have to price a bid or sell ask. Whereas an asset manager basically wants to deal in pairs. If you want to invest 100 in a certain asset class and you sell 10, you have to buy 10 as well to stay at 100. So, we co-developed that with an asset manager, a reworking of this algorithm to make it suit their purpose. We started on emerging market bonds. There’s 2000 emerging market bonds in the world with 2 million potential pairs. A human being can never look, every morning, at 2 million potential pairs.

The availability of data, a good algorithm and a good user-interface on top of that really makes a huge amount of difference. You will see a lot of applications where really working with the data with technology will add a lot of value.

TFT: What sorts of developments in wholesale banking are coming to your attention?

AV: There’s a lot of innovation in the financial markets field, we developed Katana for example, simply because there’s more public data available which helps tremendously. I see a lot of innovation in payments and we’ll start to see more and more regtech and AML related innovations. I think those are the big pockets in the wholesale environment where you see development at this moment.

TFT: Do you think developments at an institutional level will soon dwarf those on the retail side of things?

AV: The retail side is different - and I’m not a retail expert obviously - but it’s much more based on ease of use for the consumer. It’s to make the way they interact with us super easy and hardly noticeable. For instance, we’ve created a venture we called Invisible Tickets. If you travel by train for instance you don’t need to buy a ticket or even put your app on. It knows where you are because you have your phone with you. It simply says “now you’re at the station, now you’re at another station, we’ll charge you for that.” People don’t want to pay, they want to buy something or they want to travel. Paying is a nuisance that comes with doing other things. You want to make payments invisible. That’s what you do with this and we have a couple of other initiatives combined with the internet of things which can already initiate a payment. We have a very funky collaboration with a company whereby you buy a bottle of olive oil, as a consumer, and you can refill it and it knows how much you’ve used and it will charge you just for that. That’s an internet-of- things application in which the olive oil bottle and the payment are connected and automatic. We did something similar with BMW where there’s a sensor in the car for when you approach a tollgate. The tollgate knows that you’re coming and makes sure that the payment has been received.

TFT: Where does the blockchain fit in with all of this?

AV: Blockchain is definitely still a focus but not necessarily for payments. It’s a technology that we don’t necessarily think is ready for payments. We do a lot on blockchain and we have a pretty big blockchain team, around 20-25 people, which is big for a bank. We think that it’s especially a wholesale application. Blockchain is very, very useful for high-value/low-volume transactions, whereas retail is often the other way around.

TFT: Do you think we’re getting any closer to the kind of scale needed to support highvolume/low-value transactions?

AV: We’re getting closer but in all reality it’s questionable whether it’s needed. In the Netherlands, but also in Europe in general, the payments system is so efficient that why would you want to use such a complicated technology?

TFT: How about the third world, does it have applications there?

AV: Probably, but even there, there are probably better technologies available. Blockchain is definitely still a focus but not necessarily for payments. It’s technology that we don’t necessarily think is ready for payments.

TFT: What achievement as ING’s chief innovation officer (wholesale banking) are you most proud of and why?

AV: Well, as I was saying, Katana, which is very close to market launch and that’s great. Another one which is very close to market launch that we’re super proud of is a KYC application for large corporates. There have been zillions of KYC initiatives around the world, many of which have failed. We’ve decided to really put the customer at the centre of this rather than the bank, as many of these [failed KYC projects] start from the bank’s perspective. But in the end it can only start with the customer, the customer has to provide certain documents, so it can only come from there. We’ve done the first pilot with a client which was really good, so hopefully that will launch in September. I think that will be a game changer because it will

make the life of clients super easy. It’ll be a multibank application, so the client can basically upload documents and decide “I want HSBC to have these and I want ING to have those.”

TFT: To what extent do you think that KYC is a “garbage in - garbage out” regards stateissued ID?

AV: That’s actually where blockchain can be interesting at some stage but we’re not even halfway ready. Obviously, because it starts with the government. If you can’t rely on what the government produces then it all stops. The advantage of a blockchain is that what’s on it is immutable. This is the truth. So, if you have solid a system, starting with the government, in which they no longer just issue a passport with a chip in it but upload your identity to the blockchain, that’s rock solid. Then you can add layers that confirm that identity again. The proof points of identity become stronger. So, a person with a government-backed identity on a blockchain opens a bank account, the bank also confirms “yes, I’ve checked and this is the person.” You’ve been to school, you got a diploma and that adds to your identity. Even things like, and it gets a little more creepy...people usually have a pattern. You always go the usual route for your jog, for example...There’s lots of things that can confirm an identity or indicate that maybe something’s off here. But obviously you’re right, it’s garbage in, garbage out, if your starting point isn’t rock solid then a blockchain will actually do a lot of harm because then it’s immutable wrong... And if Annerie Vreugdenhil turns out to be immutable wrong then TFT doesn’t wanna be right... uTFT

Edition 30 I 21


FINTECH FOR GOOD THE FIN TECH TIMES

FACEBOOK’S LIBRA WILL BE TRANSFORMATIONAL ESPECIALLY FOR THE ‘UNBANKABLES’

By Tal Oron, Interim Executive Director, GoodDollar

F

acebook’s recently announced Libra cryptocurrency has the potential to be transformational for almost 2 billion people – specifically, the so-called ‘unbankables’: those adults who do not have access to official financial services. Of the 5.7 billion adults on the planet today, it is estimated, according to the latest World Bank statistics, that some 30 per cent (1.7 billion) do not have access to a bank account. Unsurprisingly, a majority of unbankables reside in developing countries, where for centuries business has been done using cash in hand. The bureaucratic process to open a bank account, including producing certain documents, is unappealing – or impossible – to many in poorer communities. The number of unbankables has declined, encouragingly, from 2 billion in 2015 – a Global Findex estimate – thanks to the popularity of mobile money in the last dozen years. M-Pesa, launched in Kenya in 2007, is the biggest success story. It serves to highlight how technology can provide powerful, agile solutions that leapfrog legacy systems. Libra and cryptocurrencies more generally have the potential to go one step further than mobile money and bank vast numbers of people with minimal friction thanks to blockchain technology. At the beating heart of the Libra white paper, the authors describe the privatisation of

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money making, which hitherto has largely been a process monopolised by governments. Although there have been a number of alternative currencies launched (including crypto and others), ultimately they have fallen short as mediums of exchange. If Libra is indeed a better means of exchange, it would challenge the monopoly of the governments. One thing that governments could do is to fight Libra with regulations and taxes but, as history indicates, Facebook is likely to prevail in this war. At GoodDollar – a not-forprofit project whose core mission is to reduce global wealth inequality through a new payment network, using blockchain and universal basic income (UBI) principles – we believe Libra will greatly accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrencies in general and will contribute towards a more open financial ecosystem. It could also spur on fiscal stimulus programmes on a global scale. In simple terms, the difference between government-backed fiat money and crypto is that the latter is decentralised and, thanks to the blockchain distributed ledger technology, effectively takes out intermediaries, thereby making a transaction both more incorruptible and transparent, as well as cheaper. Facebook’s recent announcement about Libra’s 2020 release is truly exciting because it is likely to create an incredible – and instantaneous – impact for a colossal amount of people on the titanic social media platform, and beyond. Since the launch of bitcoin, in January 2009, cryptoassets have offered an alternative financial route as opposed to the traditional way, and Libra’s capabilities will help educate so many new people on what is possible. It will effectively open financial opportunities for the 2.4 billion Facebook users – almost a third of the planet. Not only is the presentation of a unique, reliable financial infrastructure likely to promote economic activity, but the openness and transactability may also introduce consumers

in unbanked regions to already existing solutions for microfinancing or local development loans. By collecting data on the pseudo-transparent transaction history on Libra and related protocols, researchers will be able to gain reliable insights into fiscal development in underbanked regions, enabling them to target fiscal stimulus programmes directly within regions with slow or negligent economic development. Similarly, as Facebook’s Libra seeks to open up the banking system and improve inclusion, GoodDollar is a cryptocurrency that has been designed to address global wealth inequality. GoodDollar doesn’t want world domination; it begins from a humble place of the fortunate, realising their power and their responsibilities to wider humanity. GoodDollar has a built-in direct giving mechanism to empower all or targeted users of the currency. The value it creates goes to the users of the currency, rather than to the rich enterprises. For GoodDollar, Facebook is an enabler for greater, better and fairer consumer choices in our financial infrastructure. Facebook is maybe the most powerful institution to make governments, regulators and institutions alike have difficult, but necessary, conversations around cryptoasset regulation and mainstream use. And given Facebook’s massive branding power and global success, adoption might not take long. Within three days after the announcement even my Mum was talking about Libra – already it is as though it has been a household name for decades and embedded into our culture. Nir Yaacobi, GoodDollar’s Economics Lead, predicts that Libra could shape the future of money. “If and when people will start using Libra on a large scale,” he writes in a Medium post, “it is likely to increase the quantity of money in the global economy and thus could potentially cause inflation. “In order to fight this inflation, central banks would have to raise the interest rate on their own currencies. Or sell bonds

to absorb their excess money – correlated to the amount of bond Libra Association would buy to its reserve. That would shrink their money market share and the gains involved with it and with a higher interest rate to pay for their bonds could put pressure on their budget.” Nir goes further, and continues: “The reason people and firms hold money is to meet cash-flow needs and uncertainty. If we could have all of our proceeds and spending at the same time, once a month with no uncertainty, we would hold all our surplus in other assets like bank deposits or securities. Or if exchanging from yielding assets to money and back came without a cost (including no time spent), then people might not hold money at all. “Much like how the Libra blockchain has in effect made transferring money almost costless, I predict that sooner rather than later we will make the purchase and realisation of security and deposit frictionless. Then we might need money only for a brief moment. We could then hold our surplus within securities.” Nir draws a hypothetical scenario to illustrate his logic. “When Adam wishes to transfer money to Eve, the app linked to Adam’s account will briefly sell the security for Libra, transfer the Libra to Eve and then buy a chosen security to Eve’s account. Money in this setting is a temporary entity and negligible.”

He adds: “In the near future, Libra may change the game of money entirely. And in the long run, we might not need to hold money at all. The income of the Libra association will shrink to its operating cost due to the small number of Libra coins, with no monopolistic rent. We as users will gain what they may lose.” In the next few years, when suppliers come to accept any cryptocurrency, due to Facebook’s integration effort, what currency, or token, people will prefer to pay with is going to be their decision. With all that choice, will they opt to use Libra, or will they prefer to use GoodDollar, a digital currency with built-in UBI? Thanks to the advancement and confluence of a number of technologies, such as cryptoassets and blockchain, hope is building that UBI principles can be adopted – by GoodDollar and other projects – to help the poorest people in the world achieve more financial freedom. Projects in the OpenUBI community are working hard and collaborating to deliver solutions around digital identity – ensuring a user on UBI-based systems such as GoodDollar is verifiable and unique – and governance structures. Momentum is building, and the announcement of Libra is certainly a fillip to the GoodDollar project’s progress. Our team believes wealth inequality is the crucial

economic challenge of our time. It’s no coincidence that the number-one aim (out of 17) of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”. Furthermore, goal 10 is “reduce inequality within and among countries”. Those lofty targets suddenly look more reachable, thanks to Libra. GoodDollar: Change Wealth Inequality – For Good Do you have the skills to help the GoodDollar project? We need builders, scientists and experts in identity, privacy, and financial governance, as well as philanthropists and ambassadors. Contact us at hello@gooddollar.org, via our social media channels (Twitter, Telegram, or Facebook), join the OpenUBI movement, or visit our GitHub page. Our YouTube channel is worth checking out, too. uTFT


INSURTECH

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Global InsurTech funding since 2014 surpasses $13.5bn Almost $4bn was raised by InsurTech companies globally in the first nine months of 2019 There were more than 1,000 InsurTech deals completed worldwide between 2014 and Q3 2019, with over $13.5bn invested across these transactions. Investment increased more than sevenfold between 2014 and Q3 2019, with half of the capital raised during the period invested in deals valued at $100m and above. Consequently, the average deal size increased from $6.6m in 2014 to $17.3m in the first three quarters of 2019. Root Insurance provides auto insurance by tracking drivers and rating how well they drive. The Columbus, Ohio-based InsurTech raised $350m in a Series E round led by DST Global and Coatue Management in August 2019. This is the largest InsurTech deal of the year to date and Root, which is now valued above $3.6bn, will use the funds to continue product innovation and build upon its growth strategy. InsurTech companies have raised more than $3.7bn across 215 deals so far this year, which is 7% higher than what was invested in full year 2018, setting strong expectations for the remaining three months of 2019.

US InsurTech companies have captured almost half of all global deal activity in the sector since 2014 If we drill down further into the regional distribution of InsurTech transactions, companies based in the US, UK and

Germany captured 64.2% of InsurTech deals between 2014 and Q3 2019. The InsurTech landscape in the United States is abundant with companies looking to provide technology-first solutions to tackle the bureaucracy associated with the claims processes of the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Oscar Health, a provider of health insurance plans to families and individuals in New York, New Jersey, California, and Texas, is one of the most well-funded InsurTech companies in the world having raised $1.3bn since its founding in 2012. The New York-based company most recently raised $375m from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, in August 2018, with aims of bringing its product to more cities and allowing it to start selling to seniors through Medicare Advantage. InsurTech companies in the UK were involved in 131 deals, the second largest number of transactions after their US counterparts, between 2014 and Q3 2019, which is equal to more than one in eight deals globally during the period. Zego, a London-based provider of flexible insurance targeting operators in the gig economy, raised $42m in Q2 in what was the largest InsurTech deal in the UK this year so far. Companies in Singapore were involved in 3.6% of deals, which is the second largest share in Asia after China, where InsurTech companies in the country captured 4.1% of deals. Digital life insurance provider Singlife raised $90m from Sumitomo Life Insurance Company in July. This is the largest InsurTech deal in Singapore this year and one of the largest InsurTech deals globally in Q3 2019.

The data for this article is sourced from the FinTech Global platform. More in-depth research, data and analytics on investments and companies across all FinTech subsectors and regions around the world are available to subscribers of FinTech Global at www.FinTech.Global Š2019 FinTech Global

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PAYMENTS THE FIN TECH TIMES

Tackling the issue of Local Payments and Cart Abandonment: Sitting Down With Cardpay

P

ayment products can often be a headache for retailers who struggle to cater for the needs of a global audience with a local wallet. However, one FinTech payment provider believes it can change that. Cardpay offers access to over 300 different payment methods, all through an API that integrates seamlessly with the merchant’s back end. To find out more, the Fintech Times team sat down with David Backshall, the Commercial Director at Cardpay.

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So David, what is Cardpay? In short: Cardpay is a global payments acquirer. We provide easy access to local and international payment methods for eCommerce companies looking to sell their products and services internationally. We have payment solutions for industry verticals from travel to marketplaces, digital entertainment and beyond.

What are the major trends are you seeing in e-commerce right now?

Customer experience and user on-boarding, without a doubt. For any eCommerce business to flourish, it has to confidently answer the questions of how they acquire customers, interact with them and how they can lower the bar for entry for newcomers to the digital market. To really set yourself apart from other brands on the digital market, you need to be as frictionless as possible. A lot of the trends we’re seeing have oriented around user experience and how to create the perfect journey from selecting a product to buying it.

Where do you see eCommerce businesses going in the next few years? Interestingly enough, we’re seeing the vast majority of businesses venture into the world of retail and online marketplaces. We can easily point to the successes of businesses like Amazon in the western hemisphere, and the likes of Rakuten, Alibaba and others in the Asian continent. It’s been fascinating, really, to see just how retailers are changing tact in order to reinvent and introduce themselves as digital marketplaces. The

results are impressive; with many of them managing to grow their brand and increase the financial margins of their businesses too. Above all, they’re working to provide consumers with muchneeded choice on what they select and buy.

So would you say that Asia is leading the pack in terms of marketplaces and e-commerce? Asia’s very interesting because you can just look at the success of Alibaba during Singles Day.


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Reports on sales over that 24 hour period reached $38.4 billion, which is staggering. This performance is hardly surprising when we look at the longer trend of consumers though; the vast majority of payments were made through domestic payment methods (AliPay, WeChat Pay), and disproportionately via mobile. These trends are ones that we can see throughout the entire continent. All Alibaba and other businesses are doing are responding well to what they’re seeing in China and Asia, in general. But another key takeaway is the fact that marketplaces are able to really provide consumers with variety and ease of use.

What do you think made Alibaba and a few others such a dominant force? Well, there are a couple of things to consider here. Regarding population, I think China has a distinct advantage; having a population of 1.4bn give or take. But it’s also taking into consideration just how its population has reacted and adopted to these innovations. Asian marketplaces were able to provide a seamless shopping experience, encouraging mobile shopping and providing payment options used by local consumers. Credit where credits due: the population of Asia use

these services at a faster pace than any other continent, thanks to the infrastructure created by marketplace players. You need to combine emerging middle class, rapid growth in internet penetration, high-capacity mobile networks and the state of the art payment ecosystem to realise just what kind of monumental potential exists here.

Do you think that this model will be replicated in other regions of the world? I think what you’re seeing at the moment in the West is a high street that is undergoing dramatic change. Consumers are after choice and ease of use; they want to shop for what they want, when they want and how they want. In Africa and Latin America it’s only now that we’re seeing more consumers getting online for their shopping, compared to a few years back. What they find is that there’s more choice, more accessibility and much less hassle than if they’d have stuck to brick and mortar. It stands to reason that more people will make that migration from offline brick and mortar to online marketplaces. With all of this happening, the former will have to really look at how it can adopt, adapt and improve in the face of this rapidly digitalizing game.

How does Cardpay play in to that? At Cardpay, we work to connect these digital merchants to the consumers that they’re looking for, allowing them to readily take payments from them using a wide range of international and domestic payments. Put simply, what we provide is one single API integration, allowing merchants to take over 300 different payment methods, allowing them to increase their conversion rates in those countries and minimize the likelihood of cart abandonment. In essence: we help you unlock local markets potential and start generating sustainable revenue streams.

What do you see the trends being as actual payment methods in those countries? We observe that a preference for a local payment method varies by country. While debit and credit card payments are tried and tested in the western hemisphere, they may not be as widespread in other regions, let’s say Brazil as an example. Consumers will, instead, prefer to use a local payment system like Boleto. The reasons may vary too – from a lack of trust in online payments to a better convenience factor. Flexibility

and ease of use are the names of the game when talking about eCommerce payments. It’s for this reason that we have an ‘open-door’ approach to payment methods, so we can help our customers find and use the right payment methods for the right country.

Do you see an increasing demand for crypto payments? Yes, we do. We have our own crypto solution where we provide merchants an easy access to accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method. We do conversion at the background and settle in fiat currency so they don’t have to think about the rates, or what to do with the coins. This is an in-house solution as well, so we don’t use any third parties for it. As digital content consumption accelerates we see that more and more merchants are willing to let customers pay in crypto and our payment platform can easily accommodate this.

AT A GLANCE

David Backshall

uTFT

WHO WE ARE Cardpay is an international Fintech company that specialises as a payments acquirer for businesses looking to expand and reach a digital and international market. With more than 300 different international and domestic payment methods, Cardpay strives to bridge the gap between eCommerce merchants looking to do business globally, and there would-be customers.

COMPANY: Cardpay FOUNDED: 2009 CATEGORY: Payment KEY PERSONNEL: David Backshall, Director (above) HEAD OFFICE: Cyprus OFFICES: 10 Global offices including London PAYMENT METHODS: 300+ WEBSITE: www.cardpay.com LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/company/cardpay/ TWITTER: @Cardpay_Inc

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FINTECH CONNECT THE FIN TECH TIMES

Welcome to Fintech Connect:

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lobal leaders and influencers from throughout the fintech ecosystem are set to meet in London’s ExCeL on the 3-4 December at the UK’s largest fintech event. Network with senior representatives from the world’s major institutions, including Goldman Sachs, AXA, Citi, ING, HSBC, JP Morgan, Chase & Co and more as they gather to discuss breaking business news, share expert knowledge and establish strategic partnerships. Creating a platform to explore the biggest developments and innovations in the industry, the FinTech Connect 2019 agenda is separated into 5 conferences and 6 streams that offer a laser focus on the key areas of discussion. The outstanding line-up of speakers and topics reflects the high quality of expertise and content available to attendees that come together to hear from the industry’s pioneering minds and share disruptive ideas that will shape the future of the financial services. DX Connect takes place across two theatres and, via two streams, will bring together incumbent financial institutions and disruptors to challenge the banking status quo. Digital Engagement begins by looking at the ‘Evolution of the Customer Experience’ as Anne Boden, CEO and Founder of Starling Bank and an industry veteran, leads her session ‘From Challenger to Part of the Furniture’. Personalisation is the theme for the afternoon with the opportunity to hear from the man who led the digital transformation for DBS, Paul Cobban, Chief Data and Transformation Officer. Digital Re-engineering places more of a focus on the use of technology in financial services, from the potential of AI to the challenges faced when updating legacy architecture. To discuss ‘Driving a corporate digital transformation’ Niall Cameron, Global Head of Corporate and Institutional Digital at HSBC will share his experiences of using nextgen technologies to deliver digital solutions. The session sees key panel discussions such as ‘What are the strategic opportunities afforded by open banking?’ take place. Moderated by Biju Suresh Babi, Lead - Open Banking & PSD2 of Fiarano Software, sitting as panellists are: • Caroline Ambrose, Director, Open Banking Implementation, Barclays • Søren Rode Andreasen, Chief Digital Officer, Danske Bank • Leon Muis, Chief Business Officer, Yolt Technology Services • Polina Evstifeeva, Head of Regulatory Strategy, New Ventures, Deutsche Bank • Sarah Häger, Head of Open Banking Community, Nordea The panel will look at how major financial institutions are driving the opportunity in PSD2; bringing digital leaders from incumbent banks across Europe to discuss how open banking will be a positive force for change. Attendees at PayTech Connect have the mandate to assess and select products that will have a transformative impact on how their business manages its payments, and the agenda reflects the knowledge needed to do this. VP of Payments at Ticketmaster, Jacqueline Chilton, will share her experience of bringing a best-in-class payments experience to fans in the high-volume entertainment industry with her session ‘Wake up to payments potential.’ Following this, ‘The Future of Banking’ with Head of Open Banking at Revolut, Josh Fernandes, who leads open banking development work across the group. Taking up the mantle of B2B payments, leaders from a combination of major incumbent and disrupter organisations will discuss whether the 26 I Edition 30

UK’s Largest Fintech Event

market is undergoing evolution or revolution. Moderated by renowned financial journalist, John Detrixhe of Quartz, the panel plays host to: • Paul Horlock, CEO, Pay.UK • Maria Parpou, Chief Product & Commercial Officer - Commercial Payments, Barclaycard • Richard Ambrose, CEO, Azimo • Suresh Vaghjiani, CEO & Co-Founder, Tribe Payments To counteract the rising costs of compliance and increasing sophistication of fraud and cybercrime, RegTech and Security Connect is a forum for compliance experts to discuss the latest technology solutions and innovations. Hear from Janet Adams, Head of Risk & Controls, Business Banking, Head of AI at TSB, a disruptive tech advocate with a unique perspective on the ethics of AI in Banking as she explores ‘Assessing explainable AI in financial services’. For insights from the Financial Crime team at Monzo, who use technology to reduce the customer impact of their initiatives, attend Head of Financial Crime, Natasha Vernier’s session ‘Implementing successful AML compliance at a challenger bank’. We are living in an age of constant banking innovation. The challenger banks have come into the European market and created user experiences that allow a more agile form of personal banking. However challenges and threats remain in terms

experiences of their distributed technology ledge projects with sessions that encourage them to discover the dramatic operational efficiencies that can be realised via the deployment of distributed ledger technology. Professor Sally Eaves has been described as a ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’ and, as a Member of the Forbes Technology Council and Chair for all the sessions on Day 1, brings a depth of experience on the topics of ‘Taking Blockchain beyond POC, Why 2019 is the Year of Real World Applications’ and ‘Interoperability between Blockchains and Legacy Systems’. The session’s keynote panel discussion ‘Blockchain in the real world; are we there yet?’ asks if we are still in the Wild Wild West with Blockchain. Moderated by Anthony Macey, Director of Emerging Technologies, Barclays, the panel seeks to assess whether this situation is now changing, and whether we are about to see some real world applications of blockchain in financial services. Sitting on the panel we have: • Xavier Laurent, Blockchain Community Lead, Credit Agricole CIB • Chris Aruliah, Head of Banking Relations, Bitstamp • Brooke Navarro, Head of Business Development & Capital Markets, tZERO • Mike Cowen, Head of Digital Payments & Labs UK, Ireland, Nordics & Baltics, Mastercard

discussing the challenges facing the leadership of a scaleup. Being further removed from the coal face of the business during a time of perpetual change presents a unique selection of trials for the leadership team. This session will cover the importance of passing control of certain areas to specialised employees, differentiating the leadership traits required between waves of growth and scouting the right talent as your team grows. Sitting on the panel is: • Shachar Bialick, CEO & Founder, Curve • Oliver Prill, CEO, Tide • Charles Delingpole, CEO & Founder, ComplyAdvantage • Angelie Panteli, Chief Financial Officer, LendInvest The Startup LaunchPad is a dedicated networking and demo space specifically designed for early stage startups to showcase their exciting new tech and solutions, as well as for FIs and incumbents to scope out the latest innovations and opportunities for collaboration. Hear from a selection of the most innovative and dynamic startups, as over 40 fintechs have the chance to pitch their product right in the heart of FinTech Connect. The agenda features companies operating in a range of fintech verticals, from paytech to AI and regtech to open banking, firms at the bleeding edge of fintech have 10 minute

of personal security. The session will feature the panel discussion ‘Innovation vs regulation - What’s driving the change for FI’s?’ and will be led by Sushil Kunar, Principal Associate, Gowling. This panel brings together some of the world’s biggest challenger banks along with some major incumbents to discuss how they drive that banking innovation, whilst not being undermined by regulatory risk. Taking part in the conversation on stage is: • Becky Marriott, Vice President Risk and Compliance/MLRO, Tide • Tomas Hazleton, Chief Risk & Compliance Officer, N26 UK • Eric Wu, Head of Compliance Technology, Revolut • Adriana Ennab, Director, Public Policy, Credit Suisse • Mariano Giralt, Managing Director, Global Head of Tax & Regulatory, EMEA Digital Lead, BNY Mellon • Diana Carassco, Group Head of Risk, Digital Channels, Lloyds Banking Group Blockchain Connect allows leads from financial institutions to come together and share

On Day One of the event, the FinTech Founders Forum will bring together CxOs and founders from trailblazing fintechs and scaleups to discuss and debate the challenges of entering hyper growth. Covering the challenges of leadership, infrastructure and financial scale, culture, and gender equality & diversity, the FinTech Founders Forum will address a myriad of elements of the scaleup ecosystem. Speaking at the FinTech Founders Forum are the leaders of Europe’s elite fintechs. Providing a unique insight into challenges and opportunities facing a startup on the cusp of hyper growth mode, the audience have the chance to hear from the people who have led their organisation through at least one period of major growth. Hear from Ed Maslaveckas, CEO of Bud, as he discusses leadership in a fireside chat with Susanne Chishti, and join Chief Product Officer of N26, Georgie Smallwood for her standalone looking at high performing teams and diversity. The keynote panel discussion ‘At the vanguard of hyper growth mode’ features the CxOs of some of the most innovative fintechs in the country,

slots to showcase their solution. Alongside them, delegations from Wales, Belgium and Hong Kong bring their most promising fintechs to London to pitch on the LaunchPad. Whether your focus is on digital transformation, enhanced CX, wholesale infrastructure upgrades, compliance and financial security improvements, streamlining payment processes or exploring how blockchain will transform your core operating model, FinTech Connect is the only event in Europe to provide a 360 degree view on all things fintech. As well as a commanding line-up of 300 fintech experts ready to inspire at the event itself, the FinTech Connect App will bring you the opportunity to accelerate dialogues before the event with the leading minds across digital transformation, paytech, regtech and blockchain. Register for your delegate pass to access the 5 stream conference Secure your delegate pass to access the 5 stream conference. Use code FIN19 to save £180. Alternatively, free visitor registration gives access to the exhibition floor, 11 hours of Masterclasses and the Startup LaunchPad. uTFT


@FINTECHCONNECT #FTC19 @FINTECH CONNECT @FINTECHCONNECT

3-4 December 2019 | ExCeL London

The UK’s largest fintech conference & exhibition Bringing together 6,000 professionals across the full fintech ecosystem: • • • •

Learn from innovators across the 5 stream conference Discover 200+ best-in-class fintech innovations Meet trailblazing startups & entrepreneurs Share best-practice with financial services leaders across digital transformation, paytech, blockchain, regtech & security

MEET THE INCUMBENTS, CHALLENGERS AND DISRUPTORS DRIVING FINTECH FORWARD

REGISTER TODAY TO SAVE UP TO £180 ON YOUR FULL DELEGATE PASS USE CODE FTIMES

VISIT FINTECHCONNECT.COM Edition 30 I 27


THE FIN TECH TIMES

AMPLYFI Cardiff, South Wales.

THIS IS TECH. Cardiff-based AMPLYFI have taken smart thinking to new levels, using artificial intelligence, machine learning and data visualisation to unlock new business intelligence. THIS IS BUSINESS. THIS IS WALES.

Find out what Wales can do for your business: +44 (0) 3000 6 03000 | tradeandinvest.wales

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EVENTS T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

London Fintech Week: Libra, Regulation and the Key to Start-Up Success

By Charley Brooke Barnett

London Fintech Week, back for its 6th year in a row, brought together it’s usual lineup of industry titans to dive deep into the latest developments in the sector. Credit Kudos’ Freddy Kelly took to the stage just after lunch on Monday and what he had to say did much to rouse delegates from their gnocchi-induced lethargy. Over a succinct 20 minutes, the credit scoring CEO brought the looming threat of big tech to legacy finance into crisply sharp relief. Kelly first essayed the offerings GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) already have before adding that 52% of millennials would happily use such products. This will prove a particularly alarming stat for those under the impression that consumers don’t trust the tax-dodgers of Silicon Valley with their money. The primary obstacle standing between big tech and “the banks’ lunch” isn’t tech or consumer trust but those pesky bloody regulators! Pondering the dilemma facing Messrs Bezos, Zuckerberg and Pichai, Kelly mused; “Can I walk like a bank, talk like a bank...without being a bank?” On the Road to Adoption - Dream or Reality? panel, Unblocked Events’ Helen Disney picked the brains of some

of the web’s most influential millennials on the thorny issue of DLT and cryptocurrency. The most strident voice amongst the #FunkyBunch was Wonder Makerspace’s ChristyAna Taveras who issued a challenge to the conference’s own organisers. The strategy director suggested that next year’s Fintech Week involve local vendors by getting them to accept cryptocurrencies as payment. The road to adoption, it seems, begins at home; “Let’s get you to trade digitally” Whilst Taveras sees the solution to the problem of blockchain implementation and adoption with blinding clarity, moderator Disney was keen to add a little nuance. Referring to the launch of Facebook’s new Libra coin and the myriad new questions it raises, the industry stalwart deadpanned that, in the parlance of a relationship status, “It’s complicated.” If the social media influencers think they’re having a hard time, then they should spare a

thought for the poor regulators. Their poor little (mostly middleaged) heads must be spinning! However, rather than shrinking from the challenges new developments throw up, Polsinelli’s Richard Levin asserted that the SEC and FCA have plenty of lead left in their pencils. Furthermore, they have a greater understanding of technological advances than they’re often given credit for. In Levin’s opinion the greatest barrier between the regulators and the innovators is one of communication; “Regulators speak Latin whilst technologists speak Greek” Day two commenced with fewer delegates and further blockchain deliberations. Before attendees could scamper to the lunchtime buffet, Christopher Burke (CEO EUC Plus), discussed the danger of, brace yourself... using spreadsheets. A Forbes article recently claimed Microsoft Excel might be the most dangerous software on the planet. Firms such as JP Morgan and Societe Generale

have lost billions in compliance fines resulting from poor data management. Condensing his 45-minute presentation to a breezy 15, Burke urged the room to utilise software to secure spreadsheets. Understanding your data flow helps mitigate risk, which in turn, keeps the regulators happy. In the afternoon sessions, Barry James (Founding Chair BBFTA) moderated a lively panel on the future of money. Predictably, the conversation tended towards Facebook’s Libra. Thomas Power (Team Blockchain) described Facebook as an ersatz government and Libra as little more than a ploy for control in a game only the tech giants get to play. “Buying Bitcoin is all we’re left to do”, voiced a defeated Mr. Power. David Palmer (Blockchain Consultant) spoke of how Libra is just the beginning, opening the door for Amazon and Google to construct their own currency.

With the tech powerhouses throwing their weight around (and still refusing to pay their taxes!) global regulation is required to improve governance and garner heightened transparency. Flying over the pond from the Bay Area, Silicon Valley resident Christine Loredo (Vice President of Fintech Evangelism), headlined the main stage to ask the audience what it takes for fintech start-ups to succeed. How do you grow into a Monzo and avoid becoming a Loot? Loredo, with her wealth of experience working in incubators, dished out the magic formula for fintechs to thrive in an increasingly crowded market. Going back to basics, the first step is being able to solve a meaningful problem. There needs to be a sense of urgency for the customer to buy into your product. Otherwise, you won’t get out of the starting blocks. The Californian pleaded the importance of building the right team with the required skillsets, and using “leadership to guide

your vision”. In addition, start-ups have to be flexible enough to navigate change. This requires a process of testing and refining to determine what works. Perseverance should never waver and the end goal should always be clear. In closing, Loredo encouraged fintechs to build early-stage relationships with venture capitalists, whose expertise can aid in both funding rounds and shaping the product. What about Brexit? I hear you ask. I’m afraid no one has the crystal ball there. And we may even have to wait until 7th installment of Fintech Week to find out...

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JOBS THE FIN TECH TIMES

THE FINTECH POWER 50

JOBS IN FINTECH

A new spotlight on Talent TFT selection of Top Fintech jobs in LONDON this month The Fintech Power 50 have recently expanded their business operation and have set up a brand new Talent division to help their fintech member companies grow their business to build successful organisations. The Fintech Power 50 Talent division recognises that as well as having great products and processes, companies who employ talented people become the building blocks for success, as great people make great companies! Finding the ‘right’ talent, skillset, experience, and cultural fit, who are often key performers, are the drivers of success. This mix is often challenging to find especially where strategic talent and key technical skills are in demand, which leads to a war for top talent where companies compete to attract the best. Hiring key talent at the right time can be a company differentiator and advantage. Talented individuals are drawn to organizations that continually innovate their products and refresh their systems and processes as well as their strategic initiatives, in order to delight customers and outwit competitors. They are attracted to companies that have a great employer brand; market positioning, culture, environment and benefits, which become key deciding factors in choosing to work for an organisation. The Fintech Power 50 provides a great platform to raise the profile of their member companies and promote their innovative solutions, and now they can help their member companies identify the best talent to work for them. When companies are looking to grow in to a global business landscape scalability becomes key and business leaders must embrace new ways of thinking about their companies organisation structure, talent, and how they approach transformation. With the right leadership and talent in place, and an aligned culture of vision, goals and values helps to create high performance organisations. The global workforce is changing, and the only constant is change. Technology is becoming more digital and mobile, therefore companies

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need to become more global, diverse, automationsavvy. Technology provides opportunities for people to work globally and remotely which enables businesses to operate 24/7. Companies who are expanding in the digital arena, entering new markets, create a 360 degree spectrum of needs, internally and externally, domestically and internationally, impacting on recruitment, HR and talent needs. The Fintech Power 50 talent division can help their member companies meet these needs by delivering strategic solutions in attracting, selecting, hiring, onboarding, developing and retaining talent. This enables their members to focus on other key business priorities and saves them time in the process. They can provide best practice HR, Recruitment and Talent consultancy services and solutions globally across their member networks, credited with specialist knowledge and experience in technology and fintech working for start up’s to corporates. The Fintech Power Talent team can provide the following services: • Recruitment services; attracting & selecting key talent, hiring across role specialisms globally • HR consultancy services to include setting up in new markets and geographical territories: • Set up HR framework • Policies, Procedures, Employment documentation • Compensation & Benefits • Consultancy / advice • Employee Relations • Learning & Development • Background checking The Fintech Power 50 Talent division is also keen to connect with HR, Recruitment Talent Leaders from it’s member network and in the future will look to provide a forum for thought leaderships events and workshops. If you would like some more information or advice please contact Sian Morris Head of Talent at The Fintech Power 50 sian@thepower50.com or mobile: 07899 80461. uTFT

Head of Marketing at Monese

Business Analyst at Form3 at Form3

The head of marketing at Monese is a key role in leading the effective communications to drive awareness and desire of the Monese brand, products and services to our target audiences.

Headquartered in London, the FinTech capital of the world, Form3 are building the most exciting banking technology company on the planet. Our mission is simple: transform payments technology to enable the global financial community to move money in real-time.

Working closely with the CMO, the head of marketing will deliver against the business objectives to grow Monese into a well known global brand. This will include strategy and execution across brand building, growing awareness, driving brand preference and customer acquisition, and also improving customer retention and lifetime value. Monese has a very performant digital and social capability and has grown organically through referral programmes. Step-changing future growth will be delivered through an evolved marketing strategy including a more diversified media channel mix, and evolved creative and messaging. The head of marketing will lead a team of product marketers and central marketers, working across multiple markets (priority UK, France, Germany) and be part of a wider department including performance, CRM, content and community, PR, design and copywriting the role is an exciting opportunity to transition Monese towards a truly global brand.s!

Requirements • 15+ years experience in marketing strategy and execution • Experience in leading a team and coordinating multiple projects across multiple people • Experience executing marketing in multiple markets, including UK and mainland Europe • A background in both digital marketing as well as traditional formats • Commercial thinking from strategy through to measurement, any marketing measurement modelling is a bonus • Strong communication skills across all levels of stakeholders including C suite to build relationships and credibility for marketing overall • A collaborative attitude to work across departments to get the best results • A sense of structure and discipline • Adaptable and resilient to change • Excellent written and verbal communication and great presentation skills

Benefits • Ample opportunity to develop your career within Monese as you will be an important part of a fast-growing company • A horizontal structure where everyone has a voice and makes a direct and valued contribution to building the best product possible • International team of open-minded people in a nice office environment with plenty of perks, snacks and drinks • Opportunity to travel between our offices and meet other teams as well • Many fun team events, office parties and summer ‘weekendgetaway’ to spend some quality time with your colleagues • In- and outdoors Moneser’s sports activities • Dog friendly office • Flexible working schedule and possibility to work remotely • Stock options and competitive salary

Form3 was born from the idea that moving money in real-time will be the new normal and cloud-native payments services the way forward. By utilising the latest cloud-native technologies together with our in-depth payments experience we find innovative solutions to problems that others would deem unsolvable. Being a tech-first business, we place emphasis on thinking outside-the-box. We live and breathe open-source, prioritise best-practice and automation while Slack is at the heart of everything we do. We advocate a positive work-life balance and offer a super flexible, remote-friendly working environment. Though we like to work face-to-face from time to time and generally look for people who can get to our London office two to three times a week.

What you’ll be doing • Contributing to the product strategy by keeping up-to-date with the market and sharing information and insights with the wider team • Supporting Product Managers in defining high-level scope and enhancements of off-the-shelf product offerings • Identifying key stakeholders within Form3 who will be supporting the implementation of products and internal customers of deliverables • Building up knowledge of our unique solutions by evaluating and gathering product requirements from our clients and markets • Providing other graphical representations such as UML diagrams • Providing further design documentation such as Interface Specifications/Data Dictionaries, Use Stories, DUCs and Reporting Specifications • Supporting implementations from initiation through to golive (including support of testing and associated bugs) • Utilising analytical skillset to challenge and improve existing internal processes

Apply if:

All candidates must be eligible to work in UK.

Whilst experience in all the above would be nice, it’s by no means essential. We’re looking to speak with Business Analysts that; • Have 4+ years’ working as a Business Analyst in payments and/or Fintech • Have an understanding of payments systems, the schemes they run and practical back-offices implementations • Are excited by building innovative cloud-native payment solutions whilst creating beautiful experiences • Enjoy collaborating and working in cross-functional environments • Are compassionate, autonomous, creative, curious, selfmotivated, and independent and not afraid to challenge the status-quo • Are analytical and love finding solutions to complex problems • Can build relationships across the business and happy to engage with remote working colleagues

More: apply.workable.com/monese/j/26B0C2B327/

More: https://form3.tech/jobs/


CULTURE T H E F I N T E C H P OW E R 5 0

From Silicon Valley to the Central Line: Day in the Life of a Product Manager been working in the space for a few years, I knew it was the place to be. I was looking to join the best Fintech in the city and Curve was the perfect match for my experience, expertise and ambition.

Curve Curve was founded with a rebellious spirit, and a lofty vision; to truly simplify your finances, so you can focus on what matters most in life. That’s why Curve puts your finances simply at your fingertips, so you can make smart choices on how to spend, send, see and save your money. We help you control your financial life, so you can go out and live the life you want to live. We’re developing a ground-breaking product with our customers at the core. Our user base is growing rapidly and we have exceptional metrics. We have funding from the leading names in tech investment, and a visionary leadership team who wants everyone who joins this remarkable adventure, to have the autonomy to masterfully develop their expertise. We are now looking to add more exceptional talent to our team across the following roles:

Senior Product Designer As our Senior Product Designer, you will be accountable for every feature you design - from inception through to implementation, you’ll be the driver at all stages of the design process. You will be responsible for owning the product design and shaping the product strategy. comeet.com/jobs/curve/E4.001/senior-product-designer/ AF.11B?coref=1.10.sD7_81E

Senior Product Manager As a Product Manager at Curve, you will have the opportunity to be the driver at all stages of the process from feature inception through to optimisation, managing your own product backlog and lead one of our multidisciplinary product teams. comeet.co/jobs/curve/E4.001/senior-product-manager/ F8.111?coref=1.10.sD7_81E

Senior Software Engineer - Golang As a Senior Software Engineer you will be responsible for building the vision of Curve as a connected open api platform enabling payments, building financial products and developer communities, integrating seamlessly with best-in-class apps and tools. comeet.co/jobs/curve/E4.001/senior-software-engineer---golang/7C.214?coref=1.10.sD7_81E

Test Automation Lead As a Lead Test Engineer you will actively contribute to the overall success of Curve, leading the testing of our Golang microservices and Mobile apps to build an automated test suite that allows us to continuously deliver our services and apps into production, and to make the team the best that it can be. comeet.co/jobs/curve/E4.001/test-automation-lead/0B.118?coref=1.10.sD7_81E

Mobile Engineer - Android As Developer of mobile applications with a solid focus on Android you will be responsible for building best in class features and services collaborating with designers, product managers and other team members of our engineering team. comeet.co/jobs/curve/E4.001/mobile-engineer---android/7C.213?coref=1.10.sD7_81E

What impact & influence do you feel your role as a Product Manager has towards Curve’s mission?

Daniel Yubi joined Curve in July 2019 as a Product Manager. He has had a very interesting cross-continent career to date and we are pleased to welcome him to the team. By Sian Morris Welcome Daniel! Tell us a little about your background and how you found your way to Curve.

I started my career as a Product Manager in a Silicon Valley based startup, operating in Mexico, which gave me my first opportunity to learn about the world of payments. It was here that I was exposed to the burgeoning world of Fintech. This exposure made me think that maybe we can truly make a difference to people’s financial

lives through the power of technology. My next venture was helping a group of friends launch a mobile food & drink ordering startup in the USA, as a Product Lead. Think UberEats for the entertainment industry. I oversaw the growth from conception, to beta and then full market launch. The team now operate in three sites across the USA. My partner is from the UK and we decided that we wanted to move to London. Why London? Well, it is the ‘Silicon Valley’ for Fintech and as I’d

I believe in financial wellness; managing and utilizing your money in a stress-free way to help you achieve your personal & financial goals. Product Managers are like team captains whose responsibility it is to take the company forward by making the correct decisions to build the best products for the best customer experience. Curve is a product driven company. This allows me and my team the freedom to experiment with ideas, without any unnecessary red tape, meaning that we can push the boundaries to truly change the way we manage money. As a Product Manager, this is a very liberating feeling.

What is the culture like at Curve?

The culture at Curve is AWESOME. I was immediately

impressed by how open, genuine and noble the entire team are. From Product to PR, everyone is excited by the idea of what Curve can grow to become; the commitment and enthusiasm is inspiring. Working with such enthusiastic and invested people can at times be a struggle, particularly for a Product Manager, as there are a lot of strong opinions & expectations to balance. This is in no way a negative thing as the entire team are passionately aligned with what Curve is trying to achieve.

What do you feel that the future holds for Curve?

Curve stands alone in the Fintech space, separate from challenger banks or aggregators. We are not asking our customers to disrupt their finances with a flashy new account. We are offering a solution to the fragmented industry by giving people control & the opportunity to enhance their money management experience. I believe that Curve can become the central place to access any new services, management tools or general assistance that you could need to improve your financial life. We just have to build it!

4 Weeks In The Life: Here’s What It’s Like To Intern At Curve

M

y last month as an intern has been a steep, but extremely rewarding, learning Curve (see what I did there?). Terrible jokes aside, it’s always nerve wracking entering a company as an intern. Will I be planted in a corner and ignored? Will I be made to do the photocopying? Coffee runs? Luckily for me, these nightmarish scenarios, which you so often hear about, didn’t even come close to materialising. What I experienced at Curve was actually the complete opposite. The day I arrived I was briefed by the Senior Content Writer on the Growth Team’s current projects and future plans, and minutes later I was already getting stuck into writing the content needed to achieve this. It’s been a wonderful experience knowing that the work I’m doing is valued by my team and necessary for the company’s success.

I felt a little overwhelmed at first given that I had next to no knowledge of the fintech industry, but my team was always on hand to answer any queries and I soon got into a rhythm. I’ve learnt more than I ever imagined I would in four weeks, from the importance of consistency in tone of voice and company branding, to compliance laws. Not only have I dabbled in a bit of coding, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot of business and journalistic jargon, researched and written articles and designed accompanying infographics. Experience in a startup in the early stages of rapid growth has been an incredibly exciting atmosphere to be a part of, because each day there’s a new challenge to face or a new idea to execute. During my four weeks here, Curve has spilled out onto two office floor and reached the amazing milestone of achieving $55m in investment capital (which was rewarded

with a staff boat party along the Thames!) Another thing I’ve loved about Curve is how inclusive and diverse the office is. There are dozens of different nationalities, varying from apprentices, to recent graduates, to staff members of a wide range of ages and experience. Whilst I was there we celebrated Pride in the office by all wearing our Curve Pride t-shirts and tucking into a delicious rainbow cakes

(The proceeds of the cake sale going to Stonewall!) Overall, it’s been a pleasure working alongside such smart, motivated and creative colleagues, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for being nothing but friendly and supportive. I would definitely recommend working at Curve, it really is a unique working environment and I’ve loved being a part of it. uTFT

Edition 30 I 31


YOU WOULDN’T BE

HERE IF YOU WEREN’T

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Profile for The Fintech Times

The Fintech Times - Edition 30  

Rarely a daygoes by in fintech land where the debate of the legacy institution and the challenger isn’t heard. It’s the David vs Goliath st...

The Fintech Times - Edition 30  

Rarely a daygoes by in fintech land where the debate of the legacy institution and the challenger isn’t heard. It’s the David vs Goliath st...

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