The Fintech Times -Edition 55

Page 1


Fintech Awards London: Spotlight on fintech’s brightest stars page 8


How banks and law enforcement agencies are finding challenges with cryptocurrency page 9

BANKING Why online reviews are so important page 12 BOOK REVIEW Money in the Metaverse: By David Birch and Victoria Richardson page 22


Ef for tless f inance

Eduardo Martinez Garcia, CEO of Toqio, shares insights into simplifying financial services for SMEs page 10

John McElwaine discusses how US laws can guard against copyright chaos? page 20 Banking for all How banking-as-a-service is driving global financial inclusion page 6

Adrian Durham at FNZ on helping more people invest in the UAE and beyond page 14 Impact-driven innovation

Ivo Gueorguiev, co-founder of Paynetics, on improving customer experiences page 21 Standing out in the BNPL market

Adil Ahmed at Compass Plus Technologies shares payments strategies page 16 Navigating the NF T f rontier

Exploring how central bank digital currencies are developing globally page 4 Wealth unlocked


Editorial Enquiries

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Editor in Chief

Claire Woffenden

Art Director

Chris Swales

Features Editor

Polly Jean Harrison


Karen Phiri

Business Development

Deepakk Chandiramani

Stephen McMaugh

Terry Ng

Ania del Rosario


Francis Bignell Tom Bleach

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Exploring embedded f inance

Embedded finance, a concept encompassing various financial services seamlessly integrated into everyday interactions, has become everyone’s favourite topic to have on the agenda at industry events and conferences in recent years. But does it live up to the hype?

A recent study by Juniper Research forecasts a substantial increase in embedded finance revenue, projected to rise by 148 per cent from $92billion in 2024 to $228billion in 2028. This growth is attributed to growing market maturity and consumer confidence, especially in B2B contexts, alongside technological advancements driving specific use cases.

But this surge isn’t solely about convenience; it’s about businesses integrating financial services into their offerings to drive new revenue streams and enhance customer experiences. The concept challenges traditional banks for market share and prompts a re-evaluation of how we interact with financial services.

With so much attention on embedded finance, it’s only fitting that we too shine a spotlight on the subject. In this edition of The Fintech Times newspaper, we hear perspectives from Toqio’s CEO,

Eduardo Martinez Garcia, who sheds light on simplifying financial services for SMEs through corporate distribution and data leverage. He touches on the importance of corporate-embedded finance platforms in facilitating seamless integration of financial services into businesses’ offerings.

With so much attention on embedded finance, it’s only fitting that we too shine a spotlight on the subject

We delve deeper into the embedded finance sector with perspectives from Ivo Gueorguiev, co-founder of Paynetics, who shares his thoughts on the company’s endeavours to enhance customer experiences within the embedded finance sector.

We also turn our attention to another pivotal aspect of fintech innovation: banking-as-a-service (BaaS). While embedded finance seamlessly integrates financial services into various interactions, BaaS takes this integration a step further by allowing licensed banks

to embed digital banking services into services offered by third-party non-bank businesses. In our feature story, we explore how BaaS is driving financial inclusion across the globe.

A second theme running through this newspaper edition is digital assets. The anonymous and borderless nature of digital assets raises questions about whether current systems are equipped to enforce the forfeiture of cryptoassets in criminal investigations. Simultaneously, the level of compliance and liability of banks in the crypto marketplace is under scrutiny. Law firm JMW Solicitors explores whether law enforcement are ready to navigate this new challenge to their authority. We’ve also taken the opportunity to address where we stand with central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) around the world, while John McElwain at law firm Nelson Mullins explores the US policies protecting against copyright and trademark infringement regarding NFTs. Happy reading!

Woffenden, editor in chief, The Fintech Times



Despite the initial sluggish pace, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are steadily asserting their presence in the financial world, swiftly garnering attention on a global scale.

From dipping toes into experimental trials to diving headfirst into full-scale implementations, over 130 countries are at various stages of exploring whether a digital currency can work for them.

Though it’s likely going to be years before we see a completed global CBDC map, the groundwork is being laid country by country, with research, pilots and even some launches occurring constantly. Polly Jean Harrison takes a look at where we stand with CBDCs around the world.

United Kingdom

Back in January, the Bank of England and HM Treasury published their response to the consultation on a digital pound launched in February 2023. Though slightly anti-climactic, the result was that no final decision has been made to pursue a CBDC, but the feasibility and socio-economic implications of introducing a digital pound are still being explored. They have, however, assured that people’s privacy would be ‘paramount’ to any design, and they are committed to keeping cash around for those who want to access it.

Iain Monk, digital asset strategy lead, ClearBank said: “The UK’s consideration of a CBDC comes at a time when digital payment systems are gaining widespread acceptance, driven by advancements in financial technology and changing consumer preferences. A CBDC could offer numerous advantages, including faster and cheaper cross-border transactions, enhanced financial inclusion, and improved resilience of the payment system.


China’s CBDC pilot is reportedly the largest in the world, rolling out to 26 cities in

17 provinces after being in the works since 2014. No official launch of the digital yuan (or digiyuan) has been announced, but the scheme is focused on domestic retail transactions (with interbank wholesale transactions and crossborder payments on the way).

The digiyuan can be used for payments on the domineering Alipay, WeChat Pay and shopping apps. Despite this, CBDCs have been off to a slightly rocky start in China, proving not very popular to its citizens due to its limited acceptance, with less than a fifth of the population utilising it as of 2023. To be fair, it is only in the pilot stage and

chipping away at the dominance the big payment platforms have will take time. But strides are being made with an aggressive effort on the central banks’ part to integrate the digital yuan within its economy.

New Zealand

In one of the most recent developments, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) launched its second central bank digital currency consultation in April 2024. The first enquiry took place in April, with the second edition to prompt a decision on whether to proceed to stage three - the preparation phase.


The CBDC plans to be of the retail variety, with consumers as the primary users but dipping into corporate use cases as well.

Wholesale and cross-border payments are lower down on the priority list at this stage.

Singapore Singapore appears to be leading the pack when it comes to advanced phases of CBDC development. The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced in November last year that they would be piloting the live issuance and use of wholesale central bank digital currencies in 2024.

Though there has yet to be any news on the pilot, the central bank said that it would involve the use of a ‘live’ wholesale CBDC for settling domestic payments between commercial banks, and future efforts could involve using a live wholesale CBDC for settling cross-border securities.

There are some question marks as to whether Singapore needs a CBDC. With such an advanced financial ecosystem with a very low number of unbanked citizens, a CBDC is more of a ‘nice to have’. But Singapore is leading the way, providing a blueprint for the rest of Asia.


Russia recently gave an update on the progress of the digital ruble, with trials starting in August 2023 with 13 banks across 11 cities. So far there have been 25,000 transactions according to Ledger Insights, with 19,000 personto-person payments. The next wave of testing will see 17 additional banks brought on board, including Russia’s largest bank Sber.

Ilya Stadnik, CEO at Zent, a digital asset management solution, said: “Amidst economic sanctions, Russia actively pursues alternative avenues for international trade payments, bolstering capital controls. The digital ruble has entered the testing phases. However, the Central Bank of Russia is still actively opposed to blockchain technologies and toward cryptocurrencies in general, which is not helpful for the digital ruble initiative’s success.”


The European Central Bank is engaged in ongoing discussions and investigations regarding the digital euro due to a growing interest in digital currencies on the continent.

As of November 2023, the currency is still in its preparation phase and the bank is preparing for its development, expected no earlier than 2026.

Julian Grigo, head of institutions and fintech at Ethereum wallet Safe, said: “I am bearish on the implementation of a European CBDC as it would require approval from several different parties, in addition to all member countries of the monetary union. Realistically, a European CBDC will never come as striking a deal with all of the relevant stakeholders would be much too difficult.”


Have The Bahamas won the CBDC race?

It’s hard to say otherwise, with its Sand Dollar becoming the world’s first fully operational CBDC back in late 2020. The launch of the currency was to help boost financial inclusion and provide security to its financial system in frequent internet and electricity outages. However, there has been a struggle to attract users, with $2.1million in circulation after three years, less than 0.5 per cent of the island’s total cash circulation. It’s not all bad news, as there are 120,000 wallet downloads in a population of just over 400,000, with the bank believing education is key to boosting awareness and usage.


Australia’s central bank digital currency is still a while away, due to unresolved issues

that were found during a year-long research project by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). According to the central bank, several technical, regulatory and operational challenges meant the launch of a digital dollar is unlikely any time soon.

Dr Andreas Furche, CEO of the Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre (DFCRC), said: “The report underscores that innovation in finance is a continuous journey. The strong industry engagement in this project speaks to the importance of collaboration between central banks as ultimate issuers of national currency, and industry experts driving its potential use cases. As we move forward, our research on CBDC could look to target use cases where CBDC has the best potential to provide an infrastructure layer for further innovation in financial products and services.”


Nigeria was the first country in Africa to launch a digital currency, with eNaira rolling out in October 2021. Wanting to promote financial inclusion and increase cross-border transactions, they even penned the slogan ‘same Naira, more possibilities’.

Maybe unsurprisingly, Nigeria has also had difficulty gaining widespread adoption for the currency, with less than 0.5 per cent of the population using it. There have been widespread efforts to encourage adoption, but many wallet accounts remain inactive due to barriers like lack of training, concerns about data privacy and lack of reliable electricity and technology infrastructure.


Jam-Dex was launched in July 2022 and once again, the currency is seeing a slow uptake of users. User numbers have dwindled, with technical difficulties and a lack of merchant sign-ups causing the few early adopters to have nowhere to spend their currency. Incentive programmes have aimed to push usage, with Jamaica’s smaller economy hoping to push financial inclusion with its use, seeing a CBDC as a good option to boost the economy.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has kicked off a pilot programme to explore the potential of a CBDC. The next phase of the project looks to test the economic impact of implementing a digital currency. Market readiness and fast applications of CBDC-based payment solutions will also be explored.

As the Saudi Central Bank continues testing to achieve its Saudi

Vision 2030 objectives, it plans to consider ‘policy, legal and regulatory considerations’ before continuing with future CBDC testing. Despite putting a number of plans and tests in place, the central bank emphasised that it has not made any final decisions to officially introduce a CBDC to Saudi Arabia.


The Central Bank of Brazil is developing a digital version of the Brazilian sovereign currency, known as Drex (Digital Brazilian Real). The pilot programme is in its final stages, with the launch of the CBDC expected by the end of 2024 (possibly pushing to early 2025 depending on the speed of outlining the new legal framework).

Carlos Kazuo Missao, head of innovation for the Americas, GFT, a digital transformation technology provider, said: “Brazil’s Drex is evidence of how countries can successfully launch CBDCs after thorough testing and experimentation. Not only is the country now an early adopter of CBDCs, but its central bank has taken a highly collaborative approach to CBDC development, working with over 40 local banks and global technology companies to develop new use cases and capabilities before rolling them out to consumers.”

United States of America

Though there’s been some hesitation around CBDCs within the states, with many lobbying against them, the potential for central bank digital currencies is certainly there. No decisions have been made by the Federal Reserve as to whether or not to pursue the currency, but they have been exploring the potential risks and benefits of its implementation, including models and research with third-party stakeholders.

Kadan Stadelmann, CTO at blockchain ecosystem Komodo said: “In the US, the Federal Reserve reportedly listed the creation of a CBDC (digital dollar) as one of its ‘key duties’ during a March 2024 presentation to House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s staff. This topic has started to become more important among the US Presidential candidates, too.

Although Joe Biden has been silent on the issue lately (possibly to avoid upsetting swing voters), Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr have both publicly stated they are adamantly opposed to CBDCs.”




While innovation continues to push financial technology forward, accessibility and inclusion is sometimes forgotten, or progresses more slowly. However, some areas in fintech are proving to have transformative potential.

Embedded finance, in particular, is already changing how people access and interact with financial services.

Banking-as-a-service (BaaS) is the concept of licensed banks integrating digital banking services into the products and services offered by third-party non-bank businesses. Aside from enabling non-financial entities to offer financial services to their customers to reduce friction and streamline transactions, it could also have a huge impact on increasing financial inclusion across the globe.

Whether it be helping the unbanked or underbanked access financial services they weren’t able to previously, or simply giving people access to a wider range of options financially, BaaS could be a key enabler. To find out how, The Fintech Times asked industry leaders how BaaS is driving financial inclusion across the globe.

Radha Suvarna, chief growth officer, payments and BaaS at Finastra, the London - based financial software provider

“BaaS offers the potential to support financial inclusion globally by democratising access to financial services and fostering collaboration within the financial ecosystem.

“Through BaaS, financial institutions can tap into open payment ecosystems, enabling greater choice and accessibility for their customers across several areas of client journeys. A few such examples within payments are cross-border payments and remittances. While deploying a custom-built cross-border payments solution can be both expensive and time-consuming, banks can connect to payment ecosystem partners via a BaaS offering. By partnering in this way, banks can improve speed to market and simplify money

movement for consumers and corporates – whether gig workers or small businesses – providing them with cross-border services that are accessible, seamless, transparent, cost-effective, and fast.

“Open finance, which underpins BaaS, plays a pivotal role in shaping inclusive financial landscapes, enabling sustainable decisions, and catalysing positive social change on a global scale. Furthermore, the data generated through BaaS platforms can be leveraged to better understand the financial needs of underserved populations and design more targeted products and services to address those needs. BaaS solutions also often improve and contextualise the end user experience, offering intuitive interfaces and convenient features that appeal to digitally savvy consumers. This can attract individuals who may have been hesitant to engage with traditional banks due to cumbersome processes or limited access to digital services.”

make informed financial decisions, manage their savings and build credit. Leveraging shared infrastructure and technology resources through BaaS allows financial institutions to significantly reduce their operational costs. This cost efficiency allows them to offer more affordable banking services, including lower fees and minimum balance requirements, making banking accessible to a broader segment of the population.

“Additionally, BaaS reduces the barriers to entry for new players in the financial services industry. Fintech startups, non-bank entities and even technology companies can leverage BaaS platforms to offer financial products and services without the need for extensive infrastructure or regulatory approvals. This fosters innovation and competition, leading to more tailored solutions for diverse customer segments.”

BaaS reduces the barriers to entry for new players in the financial services industry. Fintech startups, non-bank entities and even technology companies can leverage BaaS platforms

Richard Kalas, client solutions director for retail banking at GFT, the digital transformation consultancy

“BaaS has one primary goal – making financial services accessible to all. BaaS enables traditional financial institutions to extend their reach beyond their physical branches, reaching unbanked populations in remote areas. By leveraging digital platforms, these institutions can offer banking services to individuals who previously lacked access due to technological and geographical constraints.

“BaaS can also be used as a great tool for promoting financial literacy among the underserved and unbanked. Through digital platforms, financial institutions can deliver educational content, tools and resources to help individuals

Ben Goldin, founder and CEO of Plumery, a digital banking experience platform

“BaaS utilises APIs and cloud-based infrastructure to enable non-bank entities to provide a range of financial products and services without the necessity of constructing a conventional bank from the ground up.

“This approach not only lowers the barriers to entry in the financial services market, but also invites new players to craft tailored offerings, such as microloans, remittance services, or digital wallets, that provide convenient and affordable ways for individuals


to manage their finances or access credit regardless of their background or location.

“According to The World Bank in developing countries today, 71 per cent of people have an account, up from 42 per cent a decade ago. And BaaS definitely plays a big role here. Companies like Chime, Flutterwave or ErrandPay are just a few examples of how BaaS can enable financial inclusion.”

Marc Milewski, CEO of Zum Rails, an open banking payments software provider

“Historically, decisions about where to open a bank account have been based on geographical reasons, such as which banks are most established in a particular area, or because a bank has proactively offered a customer a loan or some other service.

Banking-as-a-Service has changed this by expanding companies’ ability

to offer financial services on a wider scale – and made it so that banking value isn’t so much defined by what’s closest or most convenient, but what’s best for the customer.

“BaaS has redefined what it means to be a bank entirely, giving consumers closer proximity to their money by enabling them to access it outside of the confines of traditional financial institutions.

BaaS is also driving the availability of a greater variety of financial services by giving fintechs and other non-banks the licensing they need to introduce features that the market wants, such as crypto, but traditional banks haven’t had the freedom to offer themselves.”

Valmina Prezani, head of retail banking at financial software and platform solution provider, SAP Fioneer

“Financial services are becoming increasingly accessible worldwide thanks to BaaS, which offers additional outlets and channels for consumers to use. While the extent of

financial inclusion varies based on factors like country/region, regulation and consumer behaviour, BaaS inherently creates broader access to financial services.

“However, pitfalls are evident, particularly with the rise of buy now, pay later services. The persistence of alarmingly low levels of financial literacy, even in the most advanced economies such as the US and UK, where only one in three people grasp basic financial concepts, also highlights the urgent need for increased social responsibility within the financial sector.

“Additionally, when combined with low levels of trust in banks, these factors can lead to significant issues. Therefore, prioritising social responsibility in banking and advocating for responsible financial products has become more critical than ever, both today and in the future.”

Sergiy Fitsak , managing director at Softjourn, the technology services provider

“BaaS is significantly driving financial inclusion globally by democratising access to financial services. It achieves this by

allowing fintech companies and non-banks to offer banking services through their platforms, thereby reaching customers who were previously underserved or excluded by traditional banking models.

“The partnership model of BaaS enables these entities to leverage the infrastructure and regulatory frameworks of established banks, allowing for the provision of financial services like holding deposits, payment processing, and issuing cards without needing to become banks themselves. This model is particularly effective in regions with high mobile penetration but low banking access, as it capitalises on the ubiquity of smartphones to deliver financial services directly to consumers’ hands.

“By focusing on customer experience and offering modern, user-friendly interfaces and features, BaaS platforms are making it easier for a broader segment of the population to access financial services.”

Eric Bierry, CEO of Sopra Banking Software, which provides component- based, cloud -agnostic , API -first platforms for financial institutions

“BaaS creates more opportunities for consumers to access financial services outside of traditional banks alone. This is especially important for financial inclusion, as it puts a large focus on addressing underbanked communities, who, for reasons ranging from their geographic location to their financial history, or even a general sense of distrust for banks, have been shut out of traditional finance models.

“BaaS enables the ‘bankification’ of companies in any traditional industry such as automotive manufacturing, real estate, and insurance, as well as fintechs and neobanks, to create a richer variety of financial services for consumers to choose from by offering bank-like capabilities of their own. Especially in the case of underbanked individuals, BaaS provides a wider range of entry points to financial services, such as obtaining a mortgage directly through a real estate company, rather than having to go through additional steps with a bank or financial institution.”


Countdown to Fintech Awards London 2024

With an impressive array of nominees representing innovation, creativity and resilience, this year’s shortlist showcases the notable achievements shaping the future of finance.

From disruptive startups to established industry leaders, the shortlisted companies have demonstrated dedication and ingenuity in shaking up the fintech sector.

With fierce competition across multiple categories, the selection process was rigorous, ensuring that

only the most exceptional candidates made it to the final round.

The superb panel of judges comprised of industry experts, investors and thought leaders, faced the formidable task of selecting the finalists from a pool of exceptional candidates. Their meticulous evaluation process considered factors such as innovation, impact, scalability and potential for industry disruption.

Matt Hyde, founder of Fintech Awards London, said: “We are thrilled to unveil the Fintech Awards London

2024 shortlist, representing the pinnacle of innovation and excellence in the fintech ecosystem. The diversity of talent and ideas showcased by our finalists is truly remarkable, highlighting London’s position as a global hub for fintech innovation.”

The unveiling of the shortlist marks an exciting milestone in the journey towards crowning this year’s winners. Finalists will now undergo further scrutiny as they vie for the prestigious Fintech Awards London 2024 trophies, which will be

presented at a glittering ceremony attended by industry leaders, investors, and stakeholders.

As the fintech industry continues to evolve and reshape the future of finance, the Fintech Awards London remains committed to recognising and celebrating the trailblazers driving this transformation.

■ Fintech Awards London 2024 takes place on Wednesday 12 June at The Underglobe, a unique event space ‘hidden’ beneath the Globe Theatre in London.

The Fintech Awards London 2024 shortlist has been revealed, spotlighting the brightest stars in the dynamic world of financial technology
Fintech Advisory Firm of the Year Chatsworth Communications Shoosmiths Evelyn Partners 11:FS Peel Hunt Fintech Company of the Year Zopa Bank Allica Bank Hastings Financial Services Blend Network Guavapay Insignis Cash Fintech for Good of the Year Cleo AI ClearScore Multiply Plend YellowNest Zero13 Fintech Leader of the Year Elizabeth Rossiello – AZA Finance Claire Maillet – Ziglu Paul Humphrey – BMLL Neil Vernon – Gresham Tech Kate Eadie – Insignis Cash Roxana MohammadianMolina – Blend Romi Savova – PensionBee Fintech new Product of the Year 1fs Wealth BMLL Finley AI by Inatigo MyGuava by Guavapay Wallester Sikoia Fintech Scale-Up of the Year Allica Bank Amplifi Capital Griffin Insignis Cash ShieldPay Fintech StartUp of the Year Exinity Kennek Sikoia Vertice Volt Insurtech Company of the Year Rnwl Mitigrate FullCircl FloodFlash Paytech Company of the Year Freemarket Hozah Mondu Form3 Nium Wallester Regtech Company of the Year REGnosys SymphonyAI Global Screening Services (GSS) Quantexa Sumsub KYP Rising Fintech Star of the Year Avana Lai – Practi Elliot Banks – BMLL Guatam Hazari – Sekura Mobile Intelligence Oliver Fellowes – TerraPay Amanda Pun – Vyne Best Fintech Collaboration of the Year Aviva & Fabric Paydock & Commonwealth Bank mmob & Mastercard Ordopay & Custom Credit SaaScada & Allica Bank TerraPay & Visa Open Banking System Excellence of the Year D•One (from ClearScore) Guavapay Yaspa Vyne Nuapay Best Accelerator/ Incubator of the Year Lloyd’s Lab Barclays Rise Growth Academy EY FinTech growth programme Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab Wealthtech Company of the Year Aviva Multiply Velexa ROYC PensionBee Smart Pension


Sam Healey, partner in business crime at JMW Solicitors , tackles how both banks and law enforcement agencies are finding challenges in tackling cryptocurrency and what are they are doing to try and legislate for a more effective seizure of assets

ALaw enforcement agencies require an in-depth understanding of how to trace transactions on the blockchain, recover private keys, and even how to deal with ‘smart contracts’ that automate transactions. Currently, there is a gap in expert knowledge on the subject, especially within law enforcement agencies.

s the popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum continues to gather pace, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions find themselves grappling with new challenges. The anonymous and borderless nature of these digital assets raises questions about whether current systems are equipped to enforce the forfeiture of cryptoassets in criminal investigations.

Simultaneously, the level of compliance and liability of banks in the crypto marketplace is under scrutiny. This article explores these issues, shedding light on whether law enforcement is ready to navigate this new challenge to their authority.


Traditional forms of asset forfeiture, like the seizure of physical cash or property, have been well-integrated into legal practices. However, the complexity of blockchain technology and the constantly evolving cryptoasset landscape introduce new hurdles.

Many police departments lack dedicated personnel trained in cryptoasset forensics, relying instead on generalist IT teams ill-equipped for the job. There are initiatives aimed at rectifying this, such as training programmes and inter-agency collaboration, but these measures are still in development. Consequently, the ability to effectively enforce cryptoasset forfeiture remains questionable.


The relationship between banks and cryptoassets is complex, often marked by reluctance and caution. Uncertainty due to ambiguous regulations dissuades many financial institutions from fully

Law enforcement agencies require an in-depth understanding of how to trace transactions on the blockchain, recover private keys, and even how to deal with ‘smart contracts’ that automate transactions

embracing cryptocurrencies. However, as the market grows, more banks are engaging, albeit cautiously, in cryptoasset trading and storage solutions for their clients.

Banks are obliged to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations, but the anonymous and decentralised characteristics of cryptocurrencies pose compliance challenges. Traditional surveillance and tracking mechanisms fall short, making it difficult for banks to report suspicious activity effectively.


The involvement of banks in cryptoasset trading platforms and marketplaces leads to questions of liability. If a bank provides services to a cryptoasset exchange involved in illegal activities, what extent of responsibility does it hold? Courts and regulators are still working to find answers.

Recent litigation and settlements suggest that banks may be held accountable if they don’t exercise due diligence in vetting cryptorelated clients or fail to adhere to compliance standards.


The role of regulatory bodies is essential in establishing the groundwork for compliance. Current regulations often lack the scope to cover the unique challenges

presented by cryptocurrencies, leading to enforcement loopholes.

To counter this, more stringent guidelines for banks participating in cryptoasset services are to be enacted. This will include improvements to the anti-money laundering and know your customer so they are specifically tailored for cryptoasset transactions.

The complexity of the cryptoasset market necessitates a collaborative approach. Inter-agency partnerships among law enforcement bodies, financial institutions and cybersecurity firms can foster a holistic network. This network, built on shared expertise and resources, would be more effective in tracing and countering illegal cryptoasset transactions. Enforcement agencies are working towards legal clarity.

The lack of clear laws defining the liability of banks in cryptoasset transactions perpetuates uncertainty. Legislation will be drafted to protect consumers and give financial institutions a reliable framework to operate within.

While cryptocurrencies offer a huge range of benefits, including financial inclusion and transactional efficiency, they also introduce significant challenges for law enforcement and banks. By focusing on training, collaboration and clear regulation, it is likely that a more robust system capable of navigating this complex landscape will emerge. | 9 THE FINTECH TIMES DIGITAL ASSETS

effortless finance

Eduardo Martinez Garcia , CEO of Toqio, shares his experience of simplifying financial services for SMEs through corporate distribution and data leverage

Embedded finance is permeating multiple industries, from retailers to ride-hailing apps and super-apps, as businesses recognise the importance of seamless processes in enhancing customer satisfaction and boosting checkout conversions. With the global embedded finance market currently valued at $92billion by Juniper Research, and projected to reach $228billion by 2028, Toqio offers a no-code embedded finance platform that empowers any company to build fintech solutions with pace.

The Fintech Times caught up with Eduardo Martinez Garcia, CEO and co-founder of Toqio, to delve into his career journey so far and to address how corporate-embedded finance platforms are facilitating the seamless integration of financial services into businesses’ offerings.

THE FINTECH TIMES: Tell us about yourself and your career journey so far

EDUARDO MARTINEZ GARCIA: Born and raised in Madrid, I pursued my education there, earning an MBA from IE Business School and an MSc in IT Engineering. My career, now spanning more than 20 years, has since taken me across the globe, from the UK, where I lived for over 17 years, to working with diverse industries in the US, Spain, India, East Asia and Latin America.

I’m an avid business entrepreneur with a passion for establishing innovative ventures, across the UK, Spain, and South Africa. After building Geniac with Michael Galvin, a company aiding

UK businesses in managing their day-to-day administrative tasks such as accounting, legal, and HR, we encountered numerous opportunities from banks, startups, and major brands. However, we observed a recurring problem: despite regulatory changes and the emergence of bankingas-a-service (BaaS), organisations were still building financial solutions from scratch. Recognising this gap, we saw an opportunity to pioneer a meaningful solution in the fintech SaaS space, leading to the inception of Toqio.

TFT: Introduce us to Toqio and how the company has evolved?

EMG: Initially, digital banking was Toqio’s main focus, but we’ve evolved into an enterprise SaaS

unmet financial needs on top of corporate products and services. We leverage corporate market knowledge to provide merchants access to lending (based on sector-specific data) and payment flexibility to remove friction in working capital and liquidity management. Corporates, then, can create their own unique financial marketplaces, offering premier financial products relevant to the needs of the merchants and consumers within the distribution network.

TFT: Describe your leadership style at Toqio EMG: I’ve always placed a strong emphasis on creating a supportive and inclusive environment for team members.

“Traditional banks, recognising the transformative potential of embedded finance, are recalibrating their strategies to compete in this dynamic landscape ”

platform that is the first of its kind as we work to transform the value of corporates in their distribution networks. We essentially enable corporates to operate as the missing link between their merchants and financial institutions. By providing excellent financial products, corporates can orchestrate, build, and deploy the solutions and experiences they need to help unblock the flow of capital and create new, ownable channels of financial exchange in their distribution networks. We create a unique market offering by solving merchants’

I believe in understanding, valuing and accompanying our employees throughout their careers with us, as people are what truly make a company special. Flexibility, tolerance, openness, and transparency are core values that I prioritise in the workspace. Toqio’s culture is one of its greatest assets,

alongside our talented team and our innovative product.

TFT: Can you share your insights into current trends in the embedded finance sector?

EMG: We are seeing the convergence of digital integration, regulatory shifts and the advent of groundbreaking technologies like AI and machine learning. As embedded finance becomes increasingly prevalent, corporations are poised to adopt bank-like roles, leveraging their networks and reputation to deliver financial services.

Adherence to regulatory frameworks, however, remains paramount, driving partnerships with regulated entities. AI


and ML are anticipated to shake up embedded finance, offering unparalleled data analysis capabilities. Financial inclusion takes centre stage, with platforms focusing on delivering accessible solutions, particularly to underserved SMEs. Traditional banks, recognising the transformative potential of embedded finance, are recalibrating their strategies to compete in this dynamic landscape. As the finance sector undergoes a metamorphosis, 2024 is going to be a pivotal year, marked by innovation, collaboration, and a redefined ecosystem shaped by corporateembedded finance.

TFT: Tell us about Toqio’s recent success and plans for the second half of 2024

EMG: Toqio is swiftly becoming the SaaS platform of choice for companies looking for revenue uplift, efficiency, monetisation opportunities and cost savings across their distribution networks. We’ve had recent successes in the food and beverage sector, with servicing a major European beverage company, with an annual turnover of €1.5billion.

For years, the company has engaged in the practice of fostering restaurant owner loyalty by offering branded paraphernalia in exchange for a commitment to purchase. We were able to support them in introducing a branded business banking platform that allows them to offer establishments a card reader where they pass the

acquiring profits on to the partner immediately, giving them over one per cent of revenue back. Our plans for the second half of 2024 are to empower corporations to leverage their market knowledge to provide merchants access to lending (based on sector-specific data) and payment flexibility to remove friction in working capital and liquidity management. This in turn will enable corporates to create a unique marketplace of financial products and services via their financial partners who in turn benefit from access to SMEs as the data reduces the risk to engage.

TFT: What do you like to do ‘outside of work’?

EMG: Cycling has always been a favourite pastime of mine and I have great love for cooking. When the weather permits, I also enjoy taking my classic Morgan 4/4 out for a spin around the streets of Madrid.


Toqio is an embedded finance platform that empowers companies to create and launch fully branded digital financial solutions. Customers can select curated plug-and-play modules or develop custom solutions, making it faster and more cost-effective than in-house development. With a focus on rapid deployment, cost savings, and efficient resource allocation, Toqio simplifies the entire embedded finance process. The platform is easy to use, eliminates delivery risk, allows for extensive customisation, offers external system integration, and provides bank-grade security and full compliance. Financial product modules are available from reputable partners in the Toqio Marketplace, meaning businesses can begin with a no-code build for speed and enhance features in a low-code environment as their projects grow.


LinkedIn: company/toqiofintech

Twitter: @Toqio_Fintech



It’s time to open up wealth and embrace the tech revolution in the UAE and beyond , says Adrian Durham , CEO at FNZ

cross the wealth management industry today, in the Gulf region and across other markets around the world, too many firms are held back by outdated legacy technology infrastructure and fragmented systems.

This matters not only for an industry that is in the midst of a profound shift, as client expectations, regulations and technology reconfigure the landscape, but for all of us, as we look to make our hard-earned savings work harder.


Investors want trusted advice, high quality digital services and increasingly personalised wealth solutions that provide real-time knowledge about their portfolios as they invest with purpose. The real ambition for wealth firms is to free up their advisors to focus on what they do best – providing advice. And the key to this is the smart use of innovative technologies that are transforming the industry.

Wealth management is too often characterised by paper-based processes and technology that in some cases pre-dates the internet. This hampers the ability of advisors to provide counsel, respond to customer needs and, importantly, reduce cost to serve through greater efficiency and increased automation.

Our firm, FNZ, is a global wealth management platform with a privileged window into how the industry is responding to these trends. We partner with over 650 wealth management firms and administer over $1.5trillion of assets globally. Our mission is to open up wealth, helping more people invest in their future on their own terms, by delivering technology transformation programmes across the globe that break down barriers

and modernise a fragmented industry.


One of the key drivers behind ongoing digital transformation is the shifting landscape of investors. More than $15trillion in wealth will transfer from older generations to younger ones by 2030, according to estimates from Wealth-X. Tech giants like Uber and Amazon have revolutionised the way we interact with companies and services. An ever-growing younger and more diverse generation of investors expects nothing less than seamless delivery, high levels of transparency, and better control and personalisation of their investments.


In the same way we demand next day delivery, younger investors demand instant data-driven insights and advice on smartphones.

Our research tells us Gen Y and Z expect their wealth provider’s digital experiences to be on par with those delivered by leading born-digital companies. This includes the use of self-servicing tools and chatbots that leverage AI-enabled ‘robo advisors’ during the investment journey. This generation also differs in its investment preferences, showing a greater likelihood to increase allocation to cryptocurrencies and digital assets.


The good news is that investment firms are open to shifting their approach and many are doing so already, pairing trusted advice with best-in-class technologies. Our research shows, for example, that 69 per cent of executives believe AI will significantly change the way their firms work.

At this year’s Dubai’s Fintech Summit, there is a significant focus on how technology is transforming the financial services landscape in the Gulf, from retail banking to investment advice. With burgeoning economies, and a younger and growingly affluent demographic, there is unique potential for innovation to support the mass institutional transfer of wealth across the coming decades.

Across the UAE and Saudi Arabia, 60 per cent of executives are convinced of the power of AI to transform the way they operate. In fact, close to 92 per cent say they are at an advanced or mid-implementation stage of scaling technology and process transformation across multiple functions, showing significant performance gains. Firms globally need to adapt to these expectations or face being left behind. Gen Y and Z, less bound by brand loyalty, are much more likely than the Boomer and Silent Generations to look elsewhere if they are dissatisfied with current service offerings.


But opening up wealth is about so much more than just reacting to evolving trends. There are real benefits for firms and investors alike. In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, firms expect to see significant improvements in performance and efficiency following investments in tech. Operationally, they are seeing

better customer experience, risk management and productivity, which improves both returns and reputation.

This investment in technology and automation in the back office enables a shift to modern, digital tech platforms in the front office. Driving down costs and increasing choice paves the way for an ever-growing personalisation of services for investors who need more complex solutions to meet more challenging goals. Put simply, it allows firms to focus on what really matters for customers and the end investor – how their money is invested and what trusted advice they receive.

As expectations from a diverse range of investors grow, the need to open up wealth and embrace the tech revolution in our industry does not just represent a response to shifting trends – it is a necessity for firms to thrive in a rapidly evolving competitive landscape.

All referenced data unless stated otherwise: Building a Future-Ready Investment Firm, FNZ, ThoughtLab, Deloitte, with support from Amazon Web Services and Genesys, including views of 250 wealth management firms and 2,000 investors, segmented by region. You can access the report here at

About FNZ

FNZ provides a global, end-to-end wealth management platform that integrates modern technology with business and investment operations. Together with our customers, we help over 20 million people from all wealth segments to invest in their future. Web:



The second Dubai FinTech Summit will drive innovation, inclusivity and growth

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has emerged as a key player in the fintech revolution. Even amid shifting global market trends, MENA’s fintech sector stands resilient, poised to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over eight per cent from 2024 to 2029, according to Mordor Intelligence, a market intelligence and advisory firm.

At the heart of this growth is the MENA region’s swift embrace of technology, paving the way for disruptive innovations in the financial sector. The MENA fintech market size is estimated to be $1.51billion in 2024, with projections to reach $2.40billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 9.71 per cent during the forecast period.

Payment processors, fintech firms and platforms are spearheading this transformation, disrupting traditional financial landscapes and penetrating both domestic and global markets.

The epicentre of fintech funding in the MENA region lies within nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt, which collectively accounted for 99 per cent of the region’s investments.

Payment solutions emerge as the frontrunner, capturing 42 per cent of all investments with a remarkable annual growth rate of 152 per cent. Notably, Mordor Intelligence’s report predicts the launch of over 45 fintech startups valued at $1billion or more in the Middle East by 2030, with Saudi Arabia leading this trend.

As of 2023, the MENA region boasted over 250 fintech startups, a number projected to surge far beyond this by 2025. This robust entrepreneurial ecosystem positions fintech as a key player in addressing the region’s financial challenges. Despite global economic downturns and technological disruptions,

MENA’s fintech sector exhibited resilience, witnessing a 47 per cent year-on-year dip in total funding, settling at $484million.


Against this backdrop of dynamic growth and innovation, the second edition of the Dubai FinTech Summit has emerged as a pivotal platform for industry stakeholders to converge, collaborate and catalyse the region’s fintech ecosystem.


Organised by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, the Summit brings together 8,000 decision-makers, over 300 thought leaders and more than 200 exhibitors to discuss the latest innovations and challenges and showcase cutting-edge technologies.

Through panel discussions, fireside chats and keynote speeches, the Summit provides invaluable insights into the future of finance in the region and beyond.

As the MENA region accelerates its journey towards digitalisation and cashless economies, the Dubai FinTech Summit plays a crucial role in shaping the regulatory frameworks, fostering innovation and driving collaboration. By facilitating dialogue between policymakers, regulators, industry leaders, and innovators, the Summit aims to propel MENA’s fintech growth to new heights, solidifying its position as a global fintech powerhouse.

Mohammad Alblooshi, CEO at DIFC Innovation Hub, said: “Nearly 60 per cent of all fintech companies in the GCC are currently based in Dubai. With the industry growing at an unprecedented rate, it is crucial for stakeholders to gather and discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The Dubai FinTech Summit brings together the most prominent figures in the industry, with an agenda that is aimed at driving innovation, inclusivity, and growth for all.”

A key highlight of the Dubai FinTech Summit is the Grand Finale of the FinTech World Cup (FWC), designed to encourage

cross-border collaboration and stellar innovation, pivotal to transforming the global fintech sector. The champions of the FinTech World Cup announced on day two of the Summit secure an investment of up to $1million.

In line with the D33 Agenda to position Dubai as a top four global financial hub by 2033, the second edition of the Summit offers fintechs the potential to drive financial progress in the MEASA region.

The inaugural Dubai FinTech Summit attracted over 5,000 C-suite leaders from over 90 countries including north of 1,000 investors and more than 150 speakers. Over 20 memorandum of understandings were signed with global financial leaders during the Summit.

This year, more than 20 governors of financial institutions will attend the Summit, including DIFC, National Bank of Cambodia, Central Bank of Armenia, Nasdaq Inc, Bank of America, along with many other global industry leaders.




Strategies tailored for financial institutions and payment service providers to thrive in a competitive market, by Adil Ahmed , vice president and deputy managing director, Middle East and Africa , Compass Plus Technologies

Few payment methods have experienced as meteoric a rise as buy now, pay later (BNPL). Over recent years, BNPL has revolutionised consumer purchasing habits, offering unprecedented flexibility and convenience.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the global BNPL market reached an impressive $30.8billion by the end of 2023 and is projected to soar to a staggering $167.38billion by 2032. With such exponential growth, it’s no wonder that banks, payment service providers (PSPs), and other financial institutions (FIs) are eager to carve out their share of this lucrative market.

As the BNPL space becomes increasingly crowded and competition intensifies, the urgency for FIs and PSPs to launch their offerings sooner, rather than later, is rising. However, amid this urgency, it’s essential for FIs and PSPs to keep a cool head to ensure that they tailor their offerings to meet the needs of their customers and select the right BNPL model to support their business. Standing out amid the packed marketplace requires a nuanced understanding of the diverse flavours of BNPL and how they can be tailored to meet the unique needs of both businesses and consumers.

The world of BNPL is not one-size-fits-all; it’s a rich tapestry of options, each with its own unique set of features and benefits, and FIs

and PSPs must carefully consider which model, or combination of models, is right for them to help grow their business. Take, for example, post-purchase off-card BNPL.

This model allows customers to complete transactions with their preferred payment method and then opt to convert eligible transactions into manageable instalments after the fact through their bank. It offers the flexibility consumers crave without imposing restrictions at the point of sale.




Whereas, card-linked BNPL enables consumers to make purchases both in-store and online using a dedicated BNPL payment card issued by their bank or a PSP. This enables a BNPL experience to be seamlessly integrated into a consumer’s shopping experience without the additional complexities or need for FIs and PSPs to manage merchants.

At-purchase off-card BNPL, predominately offered by PSPs, takes a different approach, allowing customers to utilise BNPL directly at a merchant’s e-checkout or POS terminals. By seamlessly integrating BNPL into the purchase process, this model reduces friction and enhances conversion rates, benefitting both merchants and consumers alike.

Last, but not least, is merchantfunded BNPL, where merchants themselves finance BNPL purchases at the point of sale. This not only puts merchants in control of their offerings, enabling them to adapt their services with ease, but also fosters loyalty and repeat business, transforming one-time shoppers into lifelong customers.

While there are four distinct models, the beauty of BNPL lies not only in these pre-defined models but also in its customisability. FIs and PSPs have the freedom to offer their own flavour of BNPL by tailoring their offerings to suit their unique needs and target demographics. Whether tweaking repayment plans, expanding distribution channels to include mobile banking or kiosks, or implementing loyalty programs to incentivise usage, the possibilities are virtually endless.

The world of BNPL presents abundant opportunities for FIs and PSPs to differentiate themselves and establish a strong foothold in this rapidly expanding market.

By understanding the diverse flavours of BNPL and choosing one model, or multiple models that can help better serve their customer base, FIs can position themselves at the forefront of the BNPL market. With the right partner by their side, FIs and PSPs will be in a prime position to tackle the complexities of the BNPL landscape and unlock the full potential of this emerging payment method.

About Compass Plus Technologies Compass Plus Technologies is passionate about payments technology and architecting it properly for the needs of today and tomorrow. From startups and industry disruptors to recognised innovators and market leaders, its exceptional technology puts customers in the driving seat and ultimately in control of their payment ecosystems. Together, they deliver ground-breaking and industry-leading products and services with uncontested ease and proven time-to-market Web: https://compassplus X: @Compass_Plus

THE FINTECH TIMES 16 | Edition 55

Beyond Completion NDTI is paving the way for the next wave of UAE fintech innovation

In a world where global fintech investment has faced challenges, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is a beacon of resilience and innovation.

The National Digital Talent Incubator (NDTI), operated by Emirates NBD and supported by partners like DIFC Innovation Hub, Visa, Microsoft, and Dell Technologies, has proven to be a vital catalyst for growth, providing startups with the tools and

connections needed to thrive in this dynamic landscape.

The 2023 cohort of the NDTI programme saw four diverse fintech firms take significant strides in their growth journeys. Under the guidance of Emirates NBD and its partners, these startups not only honed their skills but also gained access to a valuable network of potential partners and a supportive community of alumni. The programme’s unique focus on Emirati founders and co-founders

underscores its commitment to nurturing local talent and fostering innovation in the region.

Founders engaged in the Decision Makers Series, interacting directly with Emirates NBD’s senior leaders, shaping their strategic vision, and exploring collaborations. A trip to Saudi Arabia further broadened their horizons, connecting them with vibrant pioneers of the Saudi startup ecosystem and potential regional partners. The programme has already sparked discussions

with Emirates NBD teams, with three POVs under discussion in the UAE and Saudi, as well as introductions to other financial institutions. Two founders are also in talks with VCs for potential investments.

A program highlight was the founders’ participation in a panel on ‘Empowering Emirati Founders’ at COP28 in Dubai, showcasing their achievements on a global stage amid discussions on sustainability, innovation, and entrepreneurship.


Reflecting on the success of the programme, Mohammad Alblooshi (right), CEO of DIFC Innovation Hub said: “DIFC Innovation Hub is dedicated to driving innovation and fostering local talent in line with UAE vision 2031.

“Through our participation in the Emirates NBD NDTI programme, we were able to provide meaningful, relevant, and in-depth knowledge and expertise to the participants which facilitated access to influential networks, discussions for POCs, introductions to financial institutions, promising conversations with venture capitalists and significant media exposure.

“Through NDTI, we strive to provide a platform for aspiring Emirati entrepreneurs, equipping them with the skills and opportunities needed to thrive in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.”


The MEA region has blossomed as fintech leaders continue to emerge and prosper. Commenting on the attitude of the region’s entrepreneurs, Hasan Kazmi, VP, head of strategic partnerships and ventures – CEMEA, Visa, said:

rise is particularly notable, with AI-driven statistics expected to add $37billion to the financial sector by 2035. Additionally, there is increased demand from UAE residents seeking greater personalized services, highlighting the demand for micro-investments, data transaction enrichment, and AI.

Sustainability is another focal point, boosted by the momentum of COP28, with the programme supporting startups that integrate ESG principles into their offerings. This is in response to a growing preference for low-effort sustainable practices among UAE consumers.

With founders concentrating on AI-driven statistics, microinvestments, sustainability, and data transaction enrichment, the NDTI programme aimed to address key challenges in the fintech ecosystem and the demand for customization, to continue to drive fintech innovation in the region.


innovate and thrive in the everevolving digital landscape. This commitment serves as the cornerstone of our cooperation with Emirates NBD, a disruptive leader in the region’s financial sector.

Dell is unwavering in its dedication to providing ENBD with the necessary infrastructure to sustain growth, ensuring they remain at the forefront of the region’s dynamic fintech space. As a testament to this commitment, Dell is proud to collaborate in the groundbreaking ENBD National Digital Talent Incubator (NDTI) initiative. This transformational programme fosters fintech talent and is poised to propel the UAE’s financial services sector to greater heights in the future.”


“The NDTI programme recognises the growing entrepreneurial spirit of the fintech sector in the region and helps enable Emiratis to become tomorrow’s fintech leaders, positioning them at forefront of innovation in digital banking and financial services.

“Dubai is a great driver of fintech innovation, with its world-class infrastructure, regulatory framework, and tax advantages that draw interest from a broad range of financial institutions, multinational corporations, and startups. This creates an ecosystem that thrives on collaboration and innovation, empowered by a strategic location that connects East and West.

Naim Yazbeck (left), general manager, Microsoft UAE, discussed the success of the Microsoft Immersion Day, during which participants had the opportunity to engage directly with Microsoft’s latest technologies: “Microsoft is proud to partner with Emirates NBD and contribute to the success of the National Digital Talent Incubator. The positive impact of the programme, particularly the Microsoft Immersion Day, is a testament to the power of collaborative learning and hands-on experience.

“Equipping the next generation of UAE fintech talent with the latest cloud technologies and practical

Dubai is a great driver of fintech innovation, with its world-class infrastructure, regulatory framework, and tax advantages that draw interest from a range of financial institutions, multinational corporations, and startups

“At Visa, we recognise this immense home-grown potential and seek to harness it – our Innovation Center and NDTI Immersion Day design in Dubai is just one example, tapping into the power of collaboration and co-creation to collectively spur the future of commerce through emerging financial technologies that enhance the way we pay and get paid.”


The National Digital Talent Incubator (NDTI) distinguishes itself by propelling startups across the fintech spectrum. In the UAE, AI’s

skills is crucial for fostering innovation and building a thriving digital economy. We are excited to see the NDTI graduates shape the future of the UAE’s fintech landscape and remain committed to supporting their journey every step of the way.”


Walid Yehia (left), managing director –UAE, Dell Technologies, shared his thoughts on the partnership with Emirates NBD: “At Dell Technologies, our mission is to equip businesses with agile and scalable solutions, that allow them to

Ahead of the second cohort, Eman Abdulrazzaq (left), group chief human resources officer at Emirates NBD, revealed what she was most excited about: “The inception of the National Digital Talent Incubator (NDTI) stems from the collaborative efforts of Emirates NBD and DIFC Launchpad, driven by a shared vision to aims to boost UAE talent and advance the Dubai fintech landscape.

“As we celebrate the successful conclusion of the inaugural cohort, we take pride in our culture of innovation and exploration, which has been instrumental in the programme’s achievements.”

She added: “Throughout the intensive eight-week programme, participants benefited from invaluable insights provided by venture building and innovation experts at DIFC Launchpad, hands-on guidance from most successful entrepreneurs in the UAE, personalised mentorship sessions with founders of leading fintech scaleups in the region, and access to a vast network of innovators, established corporations, governmental entities, and capital sources in the UAE.

“We look forward to the launch of the second cohort of the NDTI programme in April 2024, poised to deliver yet another wave of pioneering initiatives and entrepreneurial excellence.”


Navigating the NFT Frontier Can

US laws guard against copyright chaos?

With the swift progression of technology and the integration of AI across various industries, enquiries about intellectual property rights when it comes to non-fungible tokens have started to come to light.

In view of this, John McElwaine (above), partner at law firm Nelson Mullins, explores the US policies protecting against copyright and trademark infringement regarding NFTs.

The March 2024 report to Congress by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the US Copyright Office concerning non-fungible tokens and Intellectual Property (IP) highlights the growing intersection between NFTs and copyright and trademark laws. Contributors to this report identified multiple tensions, challenges, but also benefits.

Some stakeholders have identified the new possibilities NFTs and blockchain technology may offer for licensing IP-protected materials, including providing artists and brand owners with greater control over the permitted uses of their IP and share of associated revenues through the use of smart contracts.

Other contributors assert that the key technological feature of NFTs is the use of an immutable

record of relating to such IP that can reside on the blockchain. This can be used to establish an authentic chain of ownership or source of the information associated with the NFT. However, the immutable nature of NFTs means that implementing remedies for infringement of IP laws can be challenging, if not impossible.

For instance, once an NFT is minted and used to commit an infringement, there may be significant challenges in stopping the infringement since it is often impossible to ascertain the identity of the owner of the NFT.

With respect to trademark laws in particular, the report identified three categories of challenges:

“(i) issues associated with obtaining trademark registrations for NFT-related goods and services; (ii) uncertainty regarding whether a trademark registration for traditional goods or services can be used to prevent uses and registration of the same mark in connection with similar digital goods or services tied to NFTs, and vice versa; and (iii) trademark infringement and enforcement challenges associated with NFTs and NFT platforms.”

Applying for trademark protection for NFT-related goods and services can be tricky because such new technologies do not

fit within existing regulations concerning classification systems and there are difficulties in proving use of the applied-for marks.

In addition, the scope of trademark protection afforded an NFT-related trademark registration is an area yet to be developed.

In general, US trademark law prohibits use or registration of a mark that is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception with respect to another previously used or registered trademark.


There are unresolved questions of whether, for instance, a NFT for footwear would infringe upon a trademark registration for footwear. Also, the immutable nature of the blockchain, means that stopping infringement can be extremely difficult. For instance, commentators mention that the unauthorised use of trademarks in blockchain-based domain names, known as Web 3.0 domain names, is a growing issue on NFT platforms.

These names serve as human-readable identifiers for digital addresses and can promote brands in NFT marketplaces. However, misuse, which cannot be remedied in traditional manners, poses a heightened risk of consumer confusion and mistaken transactions to impostor wallets.

Commenters expressed concern over bad actors exploiting famous trademarks in these domain names, leading to potential harm. This misuse threatens the integrity of commercial locations on blockchain networks and NFT platforms, impacting websites, mobile applications and transactions.

With respect to copyright laws, most commenters felt that copyright laws were adequate. However, some commenters believed that copyright laws do not always square well with digital works. For instance, there are questions as to when reproduction of a digital work occurs, or whether the first sale doctrine is applicable. Thus, the digital works tied to NFTs run into the same problems seen with any other digital works.

However, digital works tied to NFTs may be provided with more protection than digital works that are not tied to the blockchain because people can write contractual limitations into the applicable smart contract (for instance, limitations on resale) for the NFT



Paynetics’ vision for a unified platform driving business growth and positive impact

Paynetics, a provider of embedded finance solutions and a regulated e-money institution, is on a mission to simplify and democratise payments across the EU and the UK. It develops payment solutions in embedded finance, card acquiring and issuing, account management, bank transfers and e-wallets, enabling businesses to integrate payments within their products.

Ivo Gueorguiev (right), co-founder of Paynetics, discusses the company’s organisational culture and efforts to improve customer experiences within the embedded finance sector.


Tell us more about Paynetics and your offering Paynetics is among the emerging leaders in the embedded finance space in Europe. As a dual-regulated e-money institution with EMI licences in the European Union and the UK, we are positioned uniquely to support pan-European players.

We help our customers create and deploy embedded finance programmess internationally and integrate payment solutions in a business offering seamlessly. We command one of the widest product ranges in the industry to include card issuing, banking-as-a-service, card acquiring, open banking, accounts and transfers. More importantly, we ensure embedded finance products operated by the clients meet the regulatory requirements and conform with local practice. That is why anti-money laundering, fraud monitoring and compliance are all part of the offer.

We have multiple delivery channels covering API connectivity, SDKs, full white label or BIN sponsorship. This allows us to service a broad range of partners depending on their ability and desire to get involved in front-end development and the complexity of payments.

Q What makes Paynetics a good place to work?

We have over 120 employees across Europe, and our culture is centred

around an entrepreneurial spirit, deep domain knowledge and operational excellence. Our team are passionate and enthusiastic co-creators, and we offer opportunities that allow employees to shape the direction of their careers. Whether driving a passion project or building a fintech association, we support employees’ personal and professional needs.

Q What values does Paynetics stand for?

Paynetics is committed to empowering customers to realise their visions, address key pain points in the financial market and have a measurable social impact. We focus specifically on monitoring business results –including financial inclusion and overall social impact, support for SMEs, democratising ESG and driving innovation.

Q How does Paynetics encourage innovation and collaboration?

Our business model is based on partnerships, and we have over 67 B2B partners. We design, build, and operate financial products for all our partners to deliver to their clients.

Impact-driven innovation is at the core of our business. For example, we launched a multiple awardwinning digital banking app and the first tokenised cards for

carbon footprint and earn cashback for sustainable purchase choices through its app. Customers can obtain rewards from 130 ethical brand partners and participate in certified Carbon Removal Projects. We believe in the power of people to transform the world, and the recent acquisition aligns with our mission to accelerate businesses through innovation and speed. Together, we’ll create a future where a single platform empowers clients to grow while making a positive impact.

Q What’s next on the agenda for Paynetics?

business. We launched the first ‘Digital First’ card to the Bulgarian market, replacing millions of plastic cards and transforming how customers pay. The team at Paynetics developed one of the first software POS to empower millions of merchants globally to accept card payments (sold to Ingenico), and we held the record for the fastest MDES implementation in Europe. Our track record shows that innovation is truly at the heart of everything we do at Paynetics.

Q Can you share some of your recent success stories?

We recently partnered with Woli, a money management platform that provides children and teenagers with the tools to manage their finances. Our collaboration with Woli ensures adherence to the rigorous Regulatory & Compliance framework and creates an environment where practical financial education thrives during economic uncertainty. By leveraging our financial infrastructure, Woli embeds critical financial education seamlessly into the user experience, preparing the younger generation to manage their finances confidently.

Our acquisition of Novus, a B-Corp-certified digital bank in the UK, was a huge moment for us as we continue to strengthen our ESG credentials. The impact neobank enables users to monitor their

We’ll continue to upgrade and evolve our products in terms of depth, standardisation, time to market and grow our presence in Europe by opening offices and potentially branches in Italy, Spain, and Germany. We believe the embedded finance trend is only just beginning. It is a trend driven by a powerful fundamental shift in consumer expectations. We predict that the universe of use cases for embedded finance will grow exponentially, as companies start seeing it as a competitive advantage. There are two areas of particular interest where we’ll be more active. The first is equipping our PSP partners with the tools to transform their merchant relationship from pure acquiring to a complete banking relationship. The goal is to offer payment acquiring, accounts and corporate cards, and working capital, all wrapped with Internet banking and mobile apps. The second one is to support the SaaS and Independent Software Vendor (ISV) segment, which is perfectly positioned to embed payments and other financial products.

By the end of this decade, Paynetics will be at the forefront of financial technology, driving innovation and connecting economies worldwide. With our relentless commitment to simplifying payments and empowering businesses, we aim to 10x our market share, expand our global footprint, and lead the charge in embedded finance. Our projected financial growth is not just a number – it’s a testament to our vision of a world where financial empowerment is ubiquitous and accessible to all. Join us on this journey to redefine the future of finance.


of the


Since the release of Steven Speilberg’s film Ready Player One, the term metaverse has often been closely linked to a make-believe game world in which someone can escape reality. Experts in the industry have since been fighting an uphill battle to explain how it means so much more and can be utilised for organisations. The release of Apple’s Vision Pro could be the catalyst needed to accelerate the adoption of metaverse tech in business. After all, as noted in Money in the Metaverse, sometimes the biggest breakthroughs come at unsuspecting times. “Palm Pilot users were not calling for a Blackberry, and Blackberry users were not dreaming about an iPhone.” Users aren’t demanding the next big tech – but that’s not to say they won’t capitalise on it when it’s ready.

Money in the Metaverse: Digital Assets, Online Identities, Spatial Computing and Why Virtual Worlds Mean Real Business acts as a guide for people looking to get ahead of the next big technology before it becomes mainstream. The book by David G.W. Birch and Victoria J. Richardson aims to explain how the technology can be made useful for businesses, what they can deliver, how the digital and physical worlds can be linked and what the future of the metaverse looks like.

With previous descriptions of the metaverse ranging from 'the next evolution of the internet' to 'the internet but in 3D', the book makes it clear this is not just hype surrounding some tech – but something that could revolutionise communication and business as we know it. With that potential in mind, it is no surprise that firms are looking to understand the technology. However, they must be cautious.

Why Money in the Metaverse?

From the get-go, the book does a great job of making the content

approachable. Although there are 12 chapters that are almost broken down page-by-page on the contents, the book is primarily broken into four sections. Firstly, it discusses key technologies and how they are evolving. Secondly, the authors delve into the building blocks of the metaverse and how these are different from metaverses of yesterday. Thirdly, it analyses the services that can be built on these building blocks. Lastly, it explores what markets will look like having utilised these services.

Money in the Metaverse: Digital Assets, Online Identities, Spatial Computing and Why Virtual Worlds Mean Real Business

Available: Kindle, Hardback & Paperback

Birch and Richardson also predict which technology they think will be the key consumer channel for payments going forward (I won’t give the game away – I encourage you to read and find out for yourself!)

The internet… but better? The next iteration of the internet will unquestionably shake up every sector to its core. When analysing

the potential of the metaverse, the book does a great job of establishing the importance of trust in finance. But it goes a step beyond traditional cautions of trust on the internet. The days of worrying about ransomware being inadvertently downloaded onto your PC via a dodgy link are worries of yesterday. The book explains how the emergence of AI has caused everyone to become on edge and lose trust in what they’re seeing. However, the topic of digital identities and credentials later discussed in the book restores that trust. What makes these topics even better is the light-hearted writing of the book. While the topics being discussed are very serious, the book is written in such a way that even something that would inspire fear feels like it can be smiled away due to the jokes and relatable writing style. Even the idealistic views raised by the book are great – it may seem far-fetched to some, but I like it.


Overall, I enjoyed Money in the Metaverse. Throughout the book, case studies of different brands from different industries dabbling in the metaverse and world of blockchain are highlighted. They serve as a great reminder of the reach the technology can have, and, once again, highlights why firms need to take research into understanding and integrating the tech seriously. Additionally, each chapter builds upon the last. There are some simple diagrams in chapter one that gradually become more complex as new info is added to them throughout the book. The development of these graphs helps with the storytelling of how complex the metaverse can be and why it is so important businesses get a handle on it. I probably wouldn’t recommend the book to someone who is completely new to the world of the metaverse – while some parts of it are very friendly to newcomers, as you get deeper into the book, it gets more complex. z

Redecentralisation: Building the Digital Financial Ecosystem by Ruth Wandhöfer and Hazem Danny Nakib Available: Kindle & Hardback

Unsupervised: Navigating and Influencing a World Controlled by Powerful New Technologies by Daniel Doll-Steinberg and Stuart Leaf Available: Kindle & Hardback

The Metaverse Economy: How Finance Professionals Can Make Sense of Web3 by Arunkumar Krishnakumar & Theodora Lau Available: Kindle, Hardback & Paperback Why DeFi Matters: What Cryptoassets, Web3 and the metaverse really mean for finance by Ian Horne Available: Kindle, Hardback & Paperback

Big Tech in Finance: How to Prevail in the Age of Blockchain, Digital Currencies and Web3 by Igor Pejic Available: Kindle, Hardback and Paperback

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