The Fintech Power 50 Annual Guide 2020

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WELCOME TO THE SECOND EDITION OF THE FINTECH POWER 50 In 2019, the UK was named the world’s top fintech hub, with startups raking in more than £4.5billion in just three years, according to experts. As well as this, the UK was named fourth in the world for scale-up investment, showing the UK’s commitment to leading the global fintech movement. But here at the Fintech Power 50 we’re intrigued as to what really qualifies a region or a city as the ‘fintech capital of the world’. As Brett King explores in the pages of this annual edition, should the title go to the one with the most players, the one that attracts the biggest fintech investment or the one with the largest number of users of challenger bank or bank challenger services? Anyone who has visited Asia recently might have a different perspective on this debate. It’s evident from the smart city technologies, the deployment of digital technologies for payments, energy management, operational efficiency and even daily tasks like shopping and eating out, that Asian economies have

embraced fintech – and every other technology – to a remarkable degree. In this year’s selection of Fintech Power 50, five are from Asia, 26 from Europe and nine from America and Canada, but 25 of those companies have offices in the east, 31 have offices in the west while 19 have offices in both. As fintech goes truly global, it’s not just consumers who are set to benefit. Alongside the rise of payment solutions and neo banks, an influx of regtech and ‘as-a-service’ suppliers, such banking-as-a-service and identity-as-a-service, are set to drive fintech adoption further among


As fintech goes truly global, it’s not just consumers who are set to benefit.

financial services incumbents. This is why the Fintech Power 50 is so uniquely important to the growth of the industry. Designed to foster greater collaboration and communication between all members of this dynamic community, the Fintech Power 50 is empowering the fintech boom by highlighting those companies with the greatest potential and supporting their journey to the top. The Fintech Power 50 is raising the bar by providing a place for the great minds of the future to come together and make history. The 50 individuals and companies profiled in this edition will benefit from being part of a unique network over the next year. For fintechs themselves that means support with everything from talent, to investment, growth and the ability to widen their geographical footprint to countries in the Americas and throughout Asia. We have a unique understanding of the industry when it comes to the development of these, some of the most promising fintech companies in the world. For them, we expect 2020 to be a standout year. JASON WILLIAMS MARK WALKER



RISE-ing to the fintech challenge How Barclays’ global community of changemakers is accelerating innovation and growth for the bank, startups and clients Rise, created by Barclays, is a global community of the world’s top innovators, working together to create the future of financial services, backed by our own network of industry experts, mentors, investors and partners. In the past, banks kept up with changing customer behaviours by either building their own products or by acquiring companies to plug particular technology or knowledge gaps. But providers are waking up to the realisation that when it comes to innovation, the more efficient solution to building or buying is to collaborate. For Barclays, it is no longer a question of should we partner with fintechs, but instead, how? At Barclays, we chose to adopt an open innovation strategy to accelerate innovation by engaging with different groups and individuals to create the best solutions possible through the Barclays Accelerator and Rise. The Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is an intensive 13-week programme designed to fast-track the next generation of fintechs, while also bringing innovation to the bank. With help from Barclays, Techstars, and a team of high-level mentors, the participants aim to evolve their business propositions and solve problems at the cutting edge of fintech.


n Flux created a solution to digitise, automate and organise receipts while creating more valuable interactions with a positive environmental footprint. Barclays has integrated Flux into Barclays’ mobile banking test app Launchpad, which has 40,000 live users and is also working with merchants who are clients of Barclaycard’s acquiring business.

Rise comprises a diverse network of fintech talent, a world-leading accelerator programme and workspaces in four of the world’s top fintech ecosystems: London, Tel Aviv, Mumbai and New York. Rise is where fintech companies connect, create and scale with Barclays innovation forums and challenges are run through the Group Technology and Innovation Office for Barclays’ colleagues worldwide to come together outside of our day jobs to solve problems. With more than 150 fintech companies who call Rise home and a virtual community of more than 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 n Simudyne is a simulation technology company that offers senior leaders at organisations and governments a new way to harness the power of agent-based modelling, artificial intelligence and machine learning to test decisions and drive growth. Barclays is working with Simudyne to help manage risk, as well as looking at revenue-generating use cases across all of its businesses.

Barclays, startups and clients, who can tap into this global innovation network to help accelerate their own business. With access to our global fintech community, a space to explore new opportunities and a front seat on our latest thinking on emerging trends and technologies, this has become more than just a network. This is a movement of corporate entrepreneurs, actively pushing the boundaries for their industries. There’s never been a better time to connect and collaborate with Barclays to explore new opportunities for your business and your clients. Please contact us at or visit our website at

n Sigma is the first AI-powered, non-credit rating agency whose fully integrated business risk intelligence platform uses AI and domain expertise to derive meaning from public and private datasets. It participated in the 2017 New York Accelerator after which Barclays took a small equity stake. It uses Sigma in its markets business and is trialling it in its corporate bank.



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Pierre Berger, Partner with responsibility for financial services and the insurance sector at DLA Piper Belgium, outlines how it helps incumbent and new players navigate the legal landscape

ADVISOR THE TRUSTED AVISOR Technology is redefining the financial services sector and, in particular, how organisations interact with their clients. DLA Piper’s global multi-disciplinary team leverages the experience of its financial services, insurance, corporate, capital markets, tax, IP and IT practices to offer integrated, full-service legal solutions to assist its financial services, insurance and technology sector clients navigate this increasingly complex environment. The firm is the trusted advisor of major established players and of many new market entrants, and is regarded as a thought leader in the fintech sector. It supports clients with the following:

STRATEGIC PROJECTS With the proliferation of new market entrants, established players looking to embrace new business models, and technology providers offering competitive advantage, much greater focus has been placed on strategic collaborations than ever before. DLA Piper has experience in: ■ Advising a UK-based venture capital (VC) firm on its partnership with a leading digital accelerator/incubator ■ Assisting a Belgian bank’s collaboration with an account aggregation and payment initiation provider and development of related products

automatically monitor, execute and enforce a legal agreement). DLA Piper has advised on cutting-edge transactions by: ■ Supporting a blockchain supplier with a focus on smart contracts, including developing templates ■ Assisting a blockchain company with its global roll-out of a financial blockchain-as-a-service model

FINTECH PLATFORMS The proliferation of new fintech platforms, distribution arrangements and channels to market, is a development that DLA Piper is uniquely placed to advise on. It has been involved in: ■ Advising an artificial intelligence (AI) company on all legal matters relating to implementation of its AI advisor platform in commercial banking ■ Assisting a fintech with its pilot automatic credit granting platform

FUNDING AND M&A DLA Piper has been at the vanguard of some of the most complex funding arrangements and transactions, including: ■ Advising a corporate VC fund on all its strategic investments in fintech, digital and internet of things (IoT) businesses ■ Advising a billing and payment solution in its acquisition by a leading software and services provider

PAYMENTS & PAYMENT SERVICES DLA Piper has unparalleled experience in the payments services market globally, acting for organisations throughout the value chain. It has helped in: ■ Advising a major card scheme on the governance of its scheme rules, implementing payment methods and creating a contactless payment scheme ■ Assisting one of the GAFAs (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) with the development of its payment products

FINTECH REGULATORY FOCUS The financial services regulatory team assists with authorisation, advising on the services that can be undertaken without requiring authorisation and in negotiations with the regulator. It has: ■ Advised a US-based software company on various regulatory requirements that drive its know-your-customer platform ■ Assisted several banks in relation to their pan-European licensing and crossborder product distribution




DLA Piper is advising existing insurance companies and new entrants on the regulatory challenges they (may) face in this rapidly changing sector. ■ DLA Piper is appointed as a major insurer’s sole global strategic advisor, acting on a range of ground-breaking digital initiatives, products and services

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) can rapidly speed up data processing. Moreover, it can help with recording transactions and data for regulatory and tax purposes. DLT is also used in smart contracts (i.e. a computer code running on a blockchain, which can

DLA Piper has a presence in the main fintech hubs and advises and supports startups, while protecting them from potential pitfalls in the early stage by: ■ Assisting with their product launch and licence applications

Visit or contact Pierre Berger at pierre.berger@



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Neeti Aggarwal looks at the choices being made across commercial collaborations, partnerships, innovation labs, and direct investment Fintech companies are reshaping the financial services industry by bringing disintermediation and novel solutions that address inherent inefficiencies while changing customer expectations. Earlier considered as competitors, these fintechs are rapidly taking on the role of partners and enablers as they facilitate financial institutions to use technology more effectively, optimise resources and expand service offerings.

EVOLVING STRATEGIES The combination of banks and fintech can produce a convergent institution that is better equipped to compete with pure technology platforms. Banks burdened with legacy systems are increasingly opening their doors for greater collaboration with fintechs to improve customer experience and expand their digital reach. It often results in a win-win synergy by providing that much-required scale in customer access to fintech. A survey by The Asian Banker across 30 financial institutions in Asia Pacific and the

Middle East in 2019 showed that 90 per cent of the surveyed banks have set up their fintech strategies, while only 10 per cent are in the ‘wait and watch’ mode. A significant 64 per cent are making active generic investments in building better engagement with fintech, including innovation labs, co-creating space and hackathons. Only 33 per cent of the banks are considering equity investments in fintech and an even smaller 29 per cent plan to develop a fintech startup. Bank-fintech partnerships are becoming more common but the approaches to this sort of alliance vary with each institution’s strategic focus and operational challenges. Not every partnership fits the mould, rather banks have multiple approaches in parallel. Partnership and collaboration approach: Most banks in the Asia Pacific focus on commercial partnerships with fintech. Pro-active banks are building ecosystems through increased collaboration, leveraging application

SURVEY RESPONSES ON FINTECH STRATEGIES 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

90% of surveyed banks have active fintech strategies ■ Yes ■ No

Any other Develop Active cofintech a fintech investment initiatives startup with partner institution

Active equity investment in startup

Active generic investment Wait in fintech community and see (hackathon, innovation lab, accelerators, etc)

programme interface (API) technologies. For instance, DBS Bank now has 350 APIs and is conducting global hackathons. Meanwhile, banks including Standard Chartered Bank, China Merchants Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and China CITIC Bank have set up innovation labs that facilitate identifying the right fintech solutions, co-creation of solutions as well as building an innovative culture. Investment approach: A key route for banks to future-proof themselves, as well as to have access to innovative technology, has been to take equity positions in fintech companies, either through venture capital or direct investments. US banks such as Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, have been the most active investors. In the first half of 2019, US banks participated in 24 equity deals with fintech companies, according to research firm CB Insights. This follows a recordbreaking 2018 in which US banks backed 45 equity deals with fintech startups. In Asia Pacific, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and UOB invested in several fintechs. UOB has the accelerator programme Finlab. Westpac Bank committed $150million to Reinventure fund. Siam Commercial Bank invested $100million capital in Digital Ventures. Leading banks have escalated their internal investments into technology to compete while actively exploring multiple models of fintech engagement, collaboration and investment to have a stronger future growth.

Source: The Asian Banker Research



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THEMES SHAPING THE FUTURE OF PAYMENTS IN 2020 Tony Craddock, Director General of the Emerging Payments Association, explores what’s really driving change at the start of the decade – from geopolitics to technology and regulation To do your job well, you need to know what’s going on. But with social media everywhere, newsletters and bulletins daily, and a flurry of conferences, presentations and podcasts, how do you draw all this into a cohesive set of conclusions about what is really going on in payments?

‘policing’ to ‘partnering’ in 2020, helped by the payments industry ■ The implementation of current regulations will take priority over the adoption of new ones

So, I went walkabout to talk to executives from our 150 member organisations. And the following themes are what I found. This is my personal distillation of the views of our members, and does not represent everyone or the EPA’s formal viewpoint, but I hope it’s thought-provoking and helps you better understand the direction of travel.

■ The payments industry will pay the price of frequent outages ■ Digital identity will take centre stage in the battle to combat fraud and money laundering ■ Trust in new payments technologies such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay will increase steadily ■ QR codes are coming ■ There will be more friction and less fraud ■ Crypto and DLT will dominate – in niches



■ New ‘fashionable fintech’ stocks will attract those who are obliged to invest ■ Investors already in fintechs will seek profits rather than just growth – unless fintechs find other sources of value ■ Investors who are willing to invest time and effort in understanding payments will be rewarded



■ Open banking-enabled companies will fill the gap created by the demise of payday loan companies ■ Payment account providers will promote lending to boost their profit margins



■ The UK regulator will move from





■ The adoption of push payments via open banking is slow and will remain so for a while ■ Payment initiation service provider (PISP) payments will take off, albeit slowly ■ Smart use of data will enable lending that is better for both borrowers and lenders – unless you are financially vulnerable



■ UnionPay has grown its acceptance network in developed markets. It is now aggressively expanding its issuance, too ■ The European authorities will be unable to curb the power of American payments schemes, however much they may want to

■ The lack of payment account providers due to de-risking will stimulate new solutions ■ As more and more companies at the top end merge, anti-trust authorities will get nervous ■ Consumer banking will become an ‘AND choice’, not an ‘OR choice’ ■ Payments in Asia will become the Next Big Thing in payments



■ Consumer trust in institutions based on what they are will fall but trust in organisations based on what they do will rise ■ The gap between those who have opportunity and choice, and those who are vulnerable or excluded, will start to close ■ Payments will become increasingly diverse ■ Uncertainty about the UK’s role in the EU will lead to greater focus on non-EU exports ■ SMEs will be offered more and better paytech ■ Sustainability will be discussed but little will be done ■ Institutions governing payments will come under greater scrutiny ■ Communities will become increasingly important agents for change Guided by our advisory board of leading CEOs, the EPA will continue to shape the future of payments, here and around the world. To read more, go to www.linkedin. com/ pulse/whats-really-goingpayments-tony-craddock/ THEFINTECHPOWER50



PREPARE FOR CHANGE Kimberley Waldron and Angela Yore, joint MDs of our specialist PR partner, SkyParlour, on the cultural shift in the fintech space The verdict is in: the fintech boom is here to stay. And the UK is at the centre of it. In 2019, it was named the world’s top fintech hub, with startups raking in more than £4.5billion in just three years according to City A.M. The 2008 financial crisis marked the beginning of an explosion of change in the fintech space. The sudden loss of trust in large banking organisations triggered the amalgamation of payments and technology, tipping an industry that had run on an outdated blueprint for decades on its head. Where the Big Five had previously dominated the world of banking, fintech attempted to reimagine traditional financial models by offering new, disruptive technologies. It soon became clear that the competition fintechs provided was exactly what the financial industry needed to begin to thrive again because, in response, the big players are using their resources to create digital offerings to challenge the challengers. One of the oldest, traditional industries is undergoing a drastic cultural change.


These days, successful fintechs like Revolut are looking to disrupt the banking industry in much the same way as Amazon took on retail, and it’s important to note that the teams behind this aim are proudly not from a payments background. As a result, fintechs are causing the financial industries to diversify in order to keep up. As Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank, said in an article for The Guardian newspaper: “If you look at the big banks, the only difference between them is the colour of the carpet in the branches.” She continued: “Diversity of thought… can only do good things for business.” It is this diversity that sets fintechs apart from their large banking rivals since they are not entrenched in old traditions. To add to this, by 2025, 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up of millennials who know how to cater to other millennials. Therefore, the continuation of this cultural shift is inevitable; leaders must stay up to date. We’ve been running our specialist fintech PR and content agency, SkyParlour, for the last 10 years. In that time, we have overseen the PR and content strategies for numerous individuals, associations and companies, whether they are well-established or industry newcomers, and have worked with startups that have gone on to become multi-national industry giants. Our combined wealth of experience in the financial technology space has led us to conclude that leaders need to keep

By 2025, 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up of millennials who know how to cater to other millennials

three things in mind: purpose, people and potential. Fintech leaders need to have a clear and defined purpose, to give people the knowledge of why before what. Then, they need to consider how their workforce reflects the markets they’re serving, in order to tap into the potential of a diverse workforce. McKinsey & Co found that firms in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 per cent more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. As the PR partner to a number of successful fintechs, we understand the power of multimedia content and powerful messaging that can cut through the noise. A strong media presence that emphasises a company’s values and culture can be the difference between a cultural leader and a follower. In 2020, we’re looking forward to telling the stories of the future fintech leaders. ■ Talk to us at

AT A GLANCE Angela Yore (left) and Kimberley Waldron (right) founded SkyParlour PR in 2009, to work exclusively in international ecommerce, payments, cybersecurity and fintech. WEBSITE: TWITTER: @SkyParlour




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PARTNERSHIPS MADE SIMPLE Matt Allan, Founder and CTO at Fintech Sandpit, explains how it streamlines collaboration between financial institutions and fintechs to help both up the digital ladder Fintech Sandpit is a digital sandbox that launched in 2019 at the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) TechSprints. Our mission is to reduce innovation time and cost to one-third, which we have proved by working with banks, fintechs, regulators and government utilities. We streamline the proof-of-concept process by helping financial services firms find the best potential technology partner for a given use case, then test this partner in a secure, production-like environment. Lengthy sales cycles plague founders, innovators, champions, and visionaries alike. On average, it takes a fintech 15 months to close a deal with a financial services institution. Not only can this be life-threatening to an early-stage fintech but it also limits innovation and growth within the financial services industry. Already, incumbents that aren’t able to leverage the best talent and technology are seeing their dominance slip away in today’s highly competitive market. Over the last five years, however, there has been a growing appetite for banks to work with nimble fintechs. According to PwC, more than 88 per cent of banks are concerned about losing revenue to fintechs. Partnering enables them to deliver new products to their customers faster than they could build similar features in-house. Fintech Sandpit enables that speed at scale. Likewise, fintechs that are strategically partnering with financial institutions are scaling much faster than their counterparts – for example, Kabbage, a US fintech, which white-labelled its solution to ING for its business customers in 2017. Such

partnerships help fintechs to quickly get their product to more customers.

COME BACK IN 12 MONTHS Unfortunately, forming partnerships among the finserv industry is not efficient. Before even a proof of concept (POC) can begin, fintechs must navigate legal negotiation, security assessment, vendor due diligence, and tech integration architectures assessments. While important, this can turn a simple POC into a six to 12-month ordeal that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This process places an additional burden on a number of teams internally, which can be distracting from more value-add activities. The time lag between initial interest and implementation can hinder innovation and prevent fintechs from maintaining their agility and creativity. Fintech Sandpit accelerates the process by helping banks identify the right partner efficiently and customers use a rapid prototype environment to iterate to the best solution quickly, while removing the repetitive onboarding process both financial institutions and fintechs must go through before every POC. It onboards all fintechs and banks according to CMA9 regulations and ISO 270001 security standards.

MEET TODAY, START TOMORROW While there are many sandboxes across the industry, most are focussed specifically on one product or vendor, whereas Fintech Sandpit contains many fintechs in one place. This means that financial institutions that onboard Fintech Sandpit get instant access to do POCs with best-in-class

fintechs on our global fintech marketplace, saving time, cost, and repetitive effort. We transformed the fintech partnership process by consolidating how banks build prototypes for testing, using the best fintechs from the market, industry datasets, and open source solutions. Just as important as building the solutions is testing them effectively with high accuracy synthetic data. Often banks find it challenging to mobilise their own datasets because of complex information security and privacy policies. Therefore, they are leveraging our data module to find high-quality, synthetically generated or de-identified datasets. It’s encouraging that the regulators are also supporting this type of data sharing.

AN INCLUSIVE INDUSTRY Streamlining the arduous process that prevents collaboration will enable greater innovation across the financial services industry and allow financial institutions to deliver new products and experiences to market faster. Fintech Sandpit streamlines the process, and opens up banks and fintechs to a world of experimentation. n We would love to help you raise the innovation bar by streamlining your partnerships with the fintechs. Contact





DATA ISN’T OIL – IT’S AIR There’s plenty of it and it’s essential to their survival, but the banks’ respiration rate is dire, says Chris Skinner Someone said that data is oil but I disagree. Oil is a fossil fuel that is valuable because it is limited. Eventually, it will run out. Data will not run out and it is not scarce. We currently generate more data per second than ever before in human history. To put that in context, more data has been generated in the last two years than in the previous five thousand years of humanity. We upload 60 terabytes of data per second to the internet. That is incredible. Twenty years ago, it would have cost millions to analyse just one terabyte of data. The thing is, this ubiquity of data is just an overwhelming mass if it is not sifted. That is why I prefer to liken data to oxygen. Data is air. It is the air that we breathe. But if that air is polluted, we cannot breathe. That is what unstructured, unsorted data feels like to me. In contrast, analysed data is the purified air that we need in order to breathe properly and, if you are a bank, you need a lot of air. Right now, a bank’s air is not just polluted, it is also being stolen by companies that are better at purification. That is why we fear the internet giants – because they are so good at purifying data. Purified data allows you to see opportunities through analytics in order for you to leverage that data. Not only can you leverage the data, you can also become intelligent with it. This is where the artificial intelligence (AI) endgame starts to come into play. Taking masses of data – 60 terabytes a second – purifying it, and working out where the oxygen lies. To purify data, you not only need great analytics but also a great data architecture


for analytics to apply AI. How fit is your firm for this? I asked that question to several banks and used figures from Forrester Group to illustrate the challenge. Forrester estimates that the average firm only tags three per cent of its data and analyses less than one per cent. I asked if that were really the case. Is it really that bad? All the banks I spoke to said yes. Data is a core bank asset and should be leveraged to maximum effect, yet most banks are terrible with data. It is locked up in different systems, none of which shares or interoperates with the others, and the idea of a single view of the customer is very hard. It can be achieved, but it is difficult to do. It must be done, however, as leveraging data about lifestyles is the core differentiation of today. Amazon, Google, Alibaba and Tencent all do this really well. It is companies born on the internet that get data leverage. This is why we admire them. It is also why we fear them because they really understand how to mine data. In fact, for years, technology companies have been urging banks to create a single view of the customer by mining terabytes of data using predictive analytics. Only the biggest firms could afford to do this, though, as it used to cost gazillions to mine a terabyte of data. Today, we are drowning in data, and only those who are fit to swim will survive. Being fit to swim is really about having a clear data architecture, being clear about how to mine that data, being clear about how to structure that data, being clear about how to tag that data and so on. In fact, data is the key to survival as, a decade from now, when all companies are

using AI for customer marketing and service, the question will be: who is using their data the best? We know that Amazon, Alibaba and their brethren born on the internet use data well. We know that we want to be as good as Amazon, Alibaba and company at using our data. However, the question is: have we done the right thing with our data? As banks become telecoms and technology companies, and telecoms and technology companies become banks, only the companies that have the most intimacy with customer data, and use that data the most intelligently, will win.

AT A GLANCE Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets and fintech and the voice behind the blog. He is author of the bestselling books Digital Bank, ValueWeb and Digital Human. His latest, Doing Digital: Lessons From Leaders, is published in 2020. He is chair of The Financial Services Club, and Nordic Finance Innovation, as well as being a non-executive director of the fintech consultancy firm, 11:FS. WEBSITE: TWITTER: @Chris_Skinner


BEYOND KILLER ROBOTS Theodora Lau on re-casting AI as a benign intelligence to aid consumers “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” she asked. “Snow White, is that you?” came the reply. Instead of the well-known fairy tale, that was my recent exchange with Siri. Welcome to 2020. When you read the daily news, there is no lack of stories on the perils of artificial intelligence (AI), including reports on potential job losses and machines taking over humanity. You might be familiar with Elon Musk’s dire warning that ‘AI could become an immortal dictator from which we would never escape’. Magic mirrors are being replaced by terminators and megatrons. Skynet has come alive. Between the US, Europe, and China, trillions of dollars are being poured into research and innovation. What has fuelled the hype in recent years can be attributed to two key advances: the exponential increase of computational power and the rise of smartphones. A 512GB iPhone has more than 100,000 times the processing power of the computer that landed man on the moon 50 years ago. AI is all around us, personalising news and product recommendations, and tailoring our music and podcast playlists. Al is also beginning to take a more active role in financial services, such as alternative lending where the ability to get loans can be determined by a person’s financial habits, social media connections, and other factors beyond traditional credit reporting. So, beyond surveillance and killer robots in Hollywood movies, where might we deploy such technology to improve our everyday lives?

LONGEVITY AND AI – A MISSED OPPORTUNITY We are experiencing an unprecedented

global shift in demographics. Since the early 1900s, we have gained an extra 30 years of healthy living, but while aging is universal, how we age is not. It is no longer meaningful to segment our customers by age. Instead of treating aging as a silver tsunami of decline, it would perhaps be helpful to reconsider our relationship with money, and how we define work and retirement. For financial institutions and beyond, this presents a golden opportunity to serve a forgotten but wealthy demographic, from asset accumulation and protection to decumulation. With the majority of children born in rich countries today expected to live to more than 100, multigenerational families are becoming more common. Yet, many of us have not planned for financially caring for our loved ones. With rising healthcare costs, general lack of savings, and more complex financial obligations, it’s a ticking time bomb. By leveraging financial history and economic data, and taking into consideration current and future responsibilities, algorithms can dynamically help consumers determine the best course of action. Consider another longevity use case. What if an algorithm can take our health profile to create a trajectory based on our DNA and physical wellbeing, as well as our financial wellbeing and obligations? Taking it one step further, what if the machine can leverage these insights and make recommendations, or even automatic adjustments – for both our health and wealth – to get us to where we need to be? AI can also be used to safeguard assets. Machine learning and AI can detect and deter the growing challenge of elder financial exploitation. When the

system detects a change in behaviour that typically accompanies diminished financial capacity, financial institutions can use the information to predict the likelihood of the customer being exploited, and proactively taking action. For all the risks many would consider AI to be associated with, I’d argue that the technology itself isn’t inherently good or bad; we should be more concerned about the morality and ethics of its creators. As leaders and stakeholders, we all have a responsibility to ensure that we have a full understanding of the intended and unintended consequences of the technology. Implemented thoughtfully, AI may be the genie that we need to transform our society and deliver positive outcomes for those who are left behind.

AT A GLANCE Theodora (Theo) Lau is a public speaker, writer and startup advisor, who is an advocate for diversity and inclusion. Her end goal is to help more financial incumbents and startups build sustainable and inclusive business models. As founder of the fintech consultancy Unconventional Ventures, she focusses on developing an ecosystem of financial institutions, corporates, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to better address the unmet needs of forgotten demographics. WEBSITE: www.unconventional TWITTER: @UnconventionVc





As authentication enters a new decade, biometrics will continue to gain in popularity, says Robert Prigge, CEO of Jumio… but that comes with its own challenges It’s a known fact, but it’s worth repeating: your personal data is never safe. Ongoing data breaches continue to expose usernames, passwords, payment information, health records and other personal information on the dark web, enabling cybercriminals to log into user accounts and commit account takeover fraud. Traditional authentication methods, such as SMS-based, two-factor authentication and knowledge-based authentication, make it impossible to truly know if a person logging in is, in fact, the account owner. Account takeovers, bot attacks and spoofing attacks show no sign of slowing down and, as we enter a new decade, we’ll continue to see enterprises realise that these traditional authentication methods can no longer be trusted to protect online accounts. We fully expect organisations across all industries to start exploring and deploying some sort of passwordless or biometric-based authentication to ensure a user’s digital identity matches their real-world identity, keeping data secure and out of the hands of fraudsters. As organisations make the move to biometrics, they need to concern


themselves with something known as liveness detection. Liveness detection is a necessary evil for modern biometric authentication systems in order to protect against increasingly sophisticated spoofing attacks. For instance, fraudsters are now using a photo, videos or even a simple mask to bypass the selfie requirement (which is often required to corroborate the digital identity to a governmentissued ID document such as a driver’s licence or passport). Most recently, deepfakes have entered the scene and represent a significant threat to biometric-based verification solutions. A deepfake is relatively easy to create by superimposing existing video footage or photographs of a face onto a source head and body using advanced neural network-powered AI. In 2020, we will see an increase in deepfake technology being weaponised for online fraud as biometric-based authentication solutions become more widely adopted. Even more concerning is that many digital identity verification solutions are unable to detect

and prevent deepfakes, bots and sophisticated spoofing attacks. Because of these emerging threats, most of the leading automated players have embedded some form of liveness detection as part of the identity verification process. Liveness detection methodologies ask users to blink, smile, turn, nod, watch coloured flashing lights and much more. Sadly, most of these legacy techniques are easily spoofed by deepfakes and advanced spoofing techniques. Certified liveness detection is performed by iBeta, a NIST/NVLAP-accredited lab and attests to a solution’s ability to defend against advanced spoofing attacks. Enterprises continue to have some trepidation about moving on from password-based, single-factor

In 2020, we will see an increase in deepfake technology being weaponised for online fraud

authentication. Often, they believe their users won’t accept it or believe biometrics adds more complexity to their environments. Neither premise is true. But, in order for biometric authentication to go mainstream, three ingredients must be in place: Familiarity: Two-thirds (67 per cent) of consumers are already comfortable using biometric authentication, according to IBM. What’s more, 74 per cent of global consumers are more confident that physical biometrics will protect their information over passwords, according to Experian. These trends haze been accelerated by the broad adoption and familiarity of facial recognition integrated within the most popular smartphones.

WHO WE ARE When identity matters, trust Jumio. Jumio’s mission is to make the internet a safer place by protecting the ecosystems of businesses through cutting-edge, online identity verification and authentication services that quickly and accurately connect a person’s online and real-world identities. Jumio’s end-to-end identity verification solutions fight fraud, maintain compliance and onboard good customers faster. Leveraging advanced technology, including augmented intelligence, AI, biometrics, machine learning, certified

3D liveness detection and human review, Jumio helps organisations meet compliance, including KYC, AML and GDPR, and definitively establishes the digital identity of their customers. Jumio has verified more than 200 million identities issued by more than 200 countries and territories from real-time web and mobile transactions. Its solutions are used by leading companies in the financial services, sharing economy, digital currency, retail, travel and online gaming sectors. Jumio operates globally with offices in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific and has received numerous awards for innovation.

Need for speed: While most users are willing to endure a bit of friction when creating an online account, they’re increasingly demanding ID proofing and authentication solutions that are fast (performed in seconds), intuitive and reliable. Cross-platform portability: Users can enrol using a laptop webcam and authenticate later from a smartphone or tablet (or visa versa), which means it’s now possible to use face authentication for everything from unlocking a car door to accessing your bank account. Because of these inherent advantages, more and more modern enterprises will start migrating to biometric authentication with certified liveness detection in 2020. About the author: As CEO of Jumio, Robert is responsible for all aspects of the business and its strategy. Specialising in security and enterprise business, he has held C-level and other senior positions at Infrascale, Secure Computing, McAfee, Quest Software, Sterling Commerce and IBM.

AT A GLANCE COMPANY: Jumio FOUNDED: 2010 CATEGORY: AI-powered identity verification KEY PERSONNEL:

Robert Prigge, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE:

Palo Alto, California, USA ACTIVE IN: Global WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/jumio-corporation/ TWITTER: @jumio

WHAT WE DO Quickly and accurately connect a person’s online and real-world identities



OPEN INVITATION From online shopping and social media to mobile banking and contactless payments, people have continually welcomed new technologies that evolve their daily lives. However, consumers are also suspicious of where their personal data will end up.

An Ipsos and World Economic Forum survey revealed only 36 per cent of global consumers trust how organisations will use their personal data. Observing the likes of Dixons Carphone experiencing a cyberattack that impacted 14 million customers, and the mass data harvesting from the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s clear to see why. So, where does the UK’s open banking implementation fit and how does it tally with consumer fear around data sharing? Set up by the UK government alongside the Competition and Markets Authority, open banking is for both businesses and consumers. It’s the means of sharing financial information securely with authorised banks and


We saw open banking progress throughout 2019, but the real innovation will come this year – as long as everyone joins the conversation, says Simon Cureton, CEO of Funding Options

services. Done entirely on an opt-in basis, the benefit for businesses giving third parties or other banks access to their financial data is that they get a broader range of tailored insight, deals and options for their finances in exchange. This presents a way of streamlining operational processes, enabling leaders to better manage their accounts, in effect supporting day-to-day running of the company, monitoring cash flow and planning ahead for growth with investment and

loan access. The system is designed to allow bank account holders to make better use of their own data while the overall goal is to introduce more effectiveness, competition and transparency in the market. While open banking presents many possibilities, take-up has been relatively slow. There’s clearly a job to be done around trust and awareness of the benefits – making it clear that bespoke deals shaped around individual business requirements can be presented, based on the financial data that’s shared, rather than something untoward.

INNOVATION & CONVERSATION Effectively, open banking is the conduit for innovation – but many businesses don’t know the opportunity it presents to improve money management, which is an issue. While the technology is understood in the fintech space, this isn’t necessarily the case for your average independent business owner. As an industry, we need to tackle this lack of awareness.

FUNDING OPTIONS Without open banking, the only way to digitally access a company’s transaction information is by obtaining bank statements electronically. Alternatively, there’s the option of using a screen-scraping solution, whereby logins and passwords are shared to third parties, which isn’t a perfect science. Through the open banking platform, transaction data is digitally available for use – it can then be extracted, held, manipulated and analysed through access to specific and targeted data points. This creates a far greater level of efficiency than we’ve had previously on the market. When it comes to funding applications through Funding Options, for example, they will be sped up to the extent that some options can be turned around immediately, as manual processes and lender correspondence will be removed from the equation. Back in 2018, we demonstrated this technique using open banking to secure a £10,000 loan for a beauty salon in Kent in just 83 minutes. This was the first time open banking data had been harnessed by a UK fintech business for financial services comparisons. It’s crucial to convey that open banking is not about companies opening up their world to exploitation through nefarious schemes, it’s about being savvy with their data as a business to achieve better outcomes. What are the benefits to the small company? This is the direction the conversation needs to be steered in.

and then the user might decide they’re happy with the outcome and leave it there. That’s one option. The alternative is even more interesting. Access to a company’s digital information on an ongoing basis can provide the ability to monitor financial performance and progress to do things such as predict cash flow and any needs they might have as a business before they know it themselves. In doing this, problems can be averted before they reach a point of a crisis. So, by reviewing transactional performance, we could determine what a business may need in five months, for example, offering funding options to prevent any undesirable situations. It creates the opportunity to build a deeper relationship

It’s crucial to convey that open banking is about being savvy with their data as a business to achieve better outcomes

FINANCIAL FLEXIBILITY If you look at the on-demand nature of the modern world, whether it’s ordering a takeaway on Just Eat, a same-day Amazon delivery, booking a ride with Uber or hopping between streaming services at the drop of a hat, it’s clear that flexibility, simplicity and a personal user experience are incredibly valuable. We recognised that with the concept of Funding Options – both choice and tailored recommendations are essential today, whether you’re a consumer or a business. For example, giving access to transaction data digitally via open banking can be done once on application for a loan

with customers. And when a partnership is based on trust, open banking can almost help safeguard the longevity of independent businesses as well as their continuing performance. Open banking awareness grew in 2019, but 2020 will be when the real innovation snowballs. It’s not just about the banks talking to their business customers, or the UK’s Open Banking Implementation Entity getting its message out there; it’s also for enterprises like us – who have an ongoing relationship with businesses in the UK – to keep educating companies. Even a business turning over £50million a year applying for a loan – and some of the loans they would apply for are extremely significant – will need to show its financial performance, just as an SME would. So, the key message to take away is that open banking is for all businesses and can be used to their clear advantage.

WHO WE ARE Funding Options is the leading online marketplace for business finance. We help businesses in the UK and the Netherlands find the right funding for their situation – whether that’s asset finance, commercial property finance, invoice finance or a merchant cash advance. Using open banking, our record in funding a business is one hour 23 minutes, from landing on our website to money in the bank account. We exist because each year, millions of firms don’t fit traditional bank lending. Using online comparison technology, and application programme interface (API) integrations, our algorithm matches a business’s requirements with our 200 lender partners. Our hybrid model of technology and human interaction, depending on the customer’s need, sets our customer journey apart. We’ve helped our customers raise millions, won a host of industry awards, and in the UK have been designated by

HM Treasury for the Bank Referral Scheme to help UK businesses find alternative finance when they’re unsuccessful with the major banks. Funding Options is one of the winners of Nesta’s Open Up Challenge for open banking, and a member of Tech Nation’s Upscale Programme for high-growth technology firms.


Funding Options FOUNDED: 2011 CATEGORY: Financial services marketplace KEY PERSONNEL: Simon Cureton, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: UK and The Netherlands CONTACT: +44 (0)333 344 1015 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/funding-options/ TWITTER: @FundingOptions



FOR BANKS, FINTECHS AND INSURERS At Contis, we believe payments solutions should always give customers a frictionless experience. For individuals and businesses alike, they should seamlessly help you manage your finances. In an exciting new world of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), open banking and Europe’s revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), the customer can always be in control, supported by a new wave of innovative businesses. Yet, you often hear of people being unable to access funds or process payments because their banking provider has gone down. Where competition is tight and trust is everything, Contis powers reliable banking and payments designed for the new economy. Our mission is simple: to unleash the potential of banks, fintechs and insurance companies and deliver market-leading experiences for customers. Everyone’s needs are unique. That’s why our end-to-end platform and alternative banking technology enables every company to build their own bespoke solution. This might be providing


Whether you are an agile startup or large financial institution, Contis’ configurable payments, issuing and processing platform helps you build your business, your way


Contis is proud of its dogged focus on delivering key benefits to customers: reliability (a 99.9 per cent uptime), speed, flexibility and faultless record on security. We aim to empower by providing the payments solutions our clients need, while never compromising on security and innovation. This is made possible by our full-feature platform that offers banking, payment and card services in pounds, euros and dollars. It provides Visa FastTrack, cutting edge know-your-customer solutions, and is entirely configurable. Our product offer breaks new ground. For instance Buffer allows card payment transactions to be funded in real time from a secondary source, such as savings or master accounts, as well as (but not limited to) cryptocurrency or other non-currency assets – so insufficient funds need never derail a payment. Buffer allows our end customers to:

Let’s be honest, payments is a crowded market. There are many players, each with a specific niche or promoting the value of their one product. We’re different. We’re led by our desire to put customers first.

■ Maintain zero balance transactional accounts ■ Avoid the stress and friction of having to ‘pre-load’ accounts with funds

alternative banks with a complete current account, including Direct Debit, Faster Payments, debit card and access to Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay; everything their customers need to transact seamlessly. Or it might be providing payroll companies with a remittance platform or giving companies access to Faster Payments infrastructure, for instance.

CONTIS ■ Transact instantly with previously non-liquid assets ■ Have improved access to pre-approved credit lines

VISION FOR THE FUTURE We believe payments have the potential to revolutionise many industries and create a genuine positive impact in people’s lives. Contis’ vision for 2020 and beyond is to promote financial inclusion, reliability and innovation in key industries. Insurance The insurance industry is responsible for billions of pounds in claims every year, but uses antiquated systems to manage complex payouts. We’ve been working with some of the UK’s leading insurers to deliver payments options that really work for customers and bring all the benefits of the digital payments revolution to the insurance industry. For instance, a virtual card for purchases against a claim, eliminating the need for insurers to refund customers. As we enter a new decade, we see limitless

potential for insurers and customers to benefit from innovation in this space. Community banking We are passionate about providing essential banking services that are accessible to people, regardless of their social or financial background. Working with more than 140 credit unions, banks and building society partners, we have delivered an

Everyone’s needs are unique. That’s why our end-to-end platform and alternative banking technology enables every company to build their own, bespoke solution award-winning alternative card and payment solution that has helped almost a quarter of a million people across the UK who would otherwise struggle to access mainstream banking services. By bringing on more credit union partners and supporting the work

WHO WE ARE Our mission is simple: to empower companies and people to realise their vision – in business and in life. Whether you are an agile startup or large financial institution, Contis’ configurable payments, issuing and processing platform will help you build your business... your way. The platform is fully owned by Contis and is PCI DSS Level 1 compliant, which means we don’t rely on multiple third-party providers (e.g. BIN sponsors, card issuers, payment processors) for its delivery. We have a UK/EEA e-money licence, UK and SEPA banking rails, are a UK retail and business current account issuer (agency banking), a card issuer, a card processor, have end-user loyalty programmes, a digital user interface, and a UK consumer credit licence. As a Visa principal partner, our services include card issuing, processing and programme management, based on an unrivalled

of building societies, Contis technology will continue to drive financial inclusion and combat the marginalisation of the underbanked. Fintech Financial technology is a major frontier of innovation. In the UK and across Europe, investment is turbocharging this sector where new startups keep challenging the status quo. Whether it’s enabling people to spend their cryptocurrency, or centrally manage all their finances through one app, these startups are changing the financial landscape. Established players have been forced to take notice. For existing banks and startups alike, getting their customer offer right and guaranteeing reliability and security will be make-or-break. Our easy-to-use platform, which is continually updated to keep pace with innovation, provides a hassle-free payments solution to startups and established banks. In 2020 and beyond, we bring the peace of mind that frees up companies to focus on changing the world through finance.

AT A GLANCE set of UK and EEA licences (we can also sponsor those looking to issue Visa products). Contis has also formed a strategic partnership with ClearBank, the UK’s new clearing bank, providing an additional clearing channel to access UK payments. The Contis platform is a highly configurable and feature-rich, end-to-end banking and payment solution, powered by Contis’ real-time technology and proven, reliable processing. Our end-to-end offering is fully scalable and configurable, providing clients with true choice. Canvas, our flagship white-label, combined banking and payments application, is the window through which we can tailor our platform to your needs. We've built hundreds of APIs to help address a wide array of banking and payments challenges, and a streamlined onboarding programme that helps your go live in as little as four weeks.


Payments, issuing, and processing platform KEY PERSONNEL:

Andy Patton, Chief Commercial Officer (right) HEAD OFFICE: Skipton, UK ACTIVE IN: UK and EEA CONTACT: +44 330 1596 348 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/contisTWITTER: @Contis_

WHAT WE DO The future of payments.Your way THEFINTECHPOWER50



TRANSFORMING THE GLOBAL DIGITAL ECONOMY WITH NEW PAYMENT NETWORKS Why crossborder settlement infrastructure matters for the digital era Consumers from around the world carry out enormous amounts of online transactions and payments today, from ordering goods and services to regularly remitting money back to families thousands of miles away. Real-time, affordable and transparent payments are key to so many of today’s services, from an online shopping mall to bricks-and-mortar businesses, selling anything from wine to stationery. So, how can enterprises get their customer service right with the most important transaction – payment? According to a 2020 payments study by Deloitte, innovation in payment infrastructure is key to creating new service offerings and revenue streams for businesses across industries. From improving customer experience to becoming more profitable, payments innovation plays an increasingly important role in ensuring the profitability of enterprises both big and small. Network providers that can integrate multiple players for faster and more affordable financial transactions can help businesses to innovatively transform their customer experience to meet the needs of a 21st Century digital economy. As enterprises increasingly look beyond their borders for growth opportunities, they can benefit from efficient crossborder settlement infrastructure that empowers them to offer value-added services and gain


direct access to strategically important high-growth markets. Therefore, it is important to partner with a network provider that can streamline international payments and understand the complexities involved in navigating compliance landscapes across different jurisdictions. “We have one goal at EMQ – that is to deliver a neutral, compliant and transparent network infrastructure that enables global businesses to send money anywhere in the world and to any end point,” explains Max Liu, CEO and Co-founder of EMQ. “With our customers at the heart of our business, we always strive to offer superior crossborder solutions that provide greater flexibility and cost savings so that they can focus on delivering a great customer experience,” he adds. While various regions offer great opportunities for expansion, managing crossborder settlements can be complex and cumbersome. This can often create substantial barriers to entry for businesses. To overcome these challenges, companies can work with partners such as EMQ to benefit from a network infrastructure that provides greater security and comprehensive compliance to meet local regulatory requirements.


TAPPING HIGH-PERFORMING MARKETS WITH EMQ For businesses to truly stay ahead in the digital economy, they should work with partners that can offer robust infrastructure that is scalable across borders. “In this new era, infrastructure will define the payments sector. As such, businesses will increasingly require a global money movement network that streamlines crossborder transactions with greater transparency and certainty,” says Liu. With a global footprint that reaches all major business hubs, EMQ’s flexible and scalable infrastructure eliminates unnecessary intermediaries and directly integrates to all the end-points, facilitating seamless, real-time and cost-effective crossborder settlements. “The application of EMQ’s network is flexible and adaptable. And can be deployed across multiple vertical industries,” adds Liu. As part of its global strategic growth initiatives and in response to customer needs, EMQ is ramping up its presence across Europe and Asia. The newly

In this new era, infrastructure will define the payments sector

launched European gateway will provide global businesses with direct access to UK Faster Payments and 44 markets in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) zone. Furthermore, the company continues to strengthen its core capabilities in China, where it has the widest bank payout network. In the coming months, EMQ will expand across Africa and the Americas. Liu concludes: “We are well-positioned to continue providing our global customers with the most compliant, end-to-end crossborder solutions leveraging our comprehensive global network.”



EMQ operates a global financial settlement network that provides a faster, more affordable and transparent crossborder settlement solution for businesses around the world, while adhering to complex regulations and compliance standards in different markets.


Our flexible network infrastructure has been built to effectively settle any crossborder movement of capital and can be deployed across multiple vertical industries for a broad range of services, including ecommerce, merchant settlement, procurement, remittance and payroll. EMQ’s network spans Europe, the United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines, with expansion underway across key business markets in the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.

FOUNDED: 2015 CATEGORY: Payment network infrastructure KEY PERSONNEL: Max Liu, Co-founder & CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: Hong Kong ACTIVE IN: ASEAN, Europe, UK (expanding into the Middle East, Africa and the Americas) CONTACT: WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/emq TWITTER: @emqinc

WHAT WE DO Providing a neutral financial settlement network THEFINTECHPOWER50



PURPOSE AND MATTER THE MOST BankiFi’s founding partners Mark Hartley and Conny Dorrestijn on how to move the open banking needle from 1.0 to 3.0 and beyond Will 2020 become the year of truth for open banking? Will it take more regulation, better technical standards, more pressure from watchdogs? What do we, as we cross the Rubicon into uncharted territory, need most? More Excel spreadsheets and forecasts while juggling new pricing and business models? We don’t think so… Apart from courage, clearly reading the sign of the times is the most important guide for any player in the financial services era going forward – incumbent or fintech. Successful adoption of open banking is about


relevance for the end user. And that has everything to do with feeling society’s pulse. If 2018 was open banking 1.0, and 2019 2.0, what will 3.0 bring?

OPEN BANKING 1.0 – INFRA AND COMPLIANCE The 1.0 stage was – correct me, is – all about getting the infrastructure ready for openness and compliant with the relevant regulation. In a weird way, this is a stage banks feel comfortable with and suppliers love. Strategies, workshops, tech suppliers making their pitch… it almost feels like business as usual but on different tech. Do not be fooled. This is no mean task for any incumbent bank and the neo banks have a real advantage here – that is, if they are founded on new tech. The more complex, varied and embedded (read ‘outdated’) the core systems, the harder the task. Many European mainland banks are still in that stage and 2020 will be a defining year in terms of testing and moving on to 2.0.

OPEN BANKING 2.0 – BUILDING THE BUSINESS CASE We at BankiFi picked up this challenge by designing a business case for banks the new way: around the customer needs, rather than around existing banking products, driven by a purpose to truly create relevant services that sole traders and entrepreneurs need to run their business, through the bank. Today, that means a focus on combining accounting and banking in the one channel they already know – the bank app or web environment. Why have two services and two cost points if the bank can serve both? As open banking and the infrastructure matures, large corporate clients, too, could access the data that is now held in three or more separate systems. The corporate banking portal can be their – and the bank’s – single point of access to facilitate, for example, cash or liquidity management. Over the past year, we have met with more than 100 banks internationally and all have the same question: “How

can we monetise our investment in a zero-interest environment?” Indeed, getting fit is pure necessity for a bank. Fee-based services are welcome if it offers time-saving and insight-rich relevance that sets one bank apart from another in the eyes of the beholder: their customer. Banks must make strategic choices here, before diving into the resource-hungry ‘how’.

OPEN BANKING 3.0 – BEYOND OPEN INTO SOCIETAL RELEVANCE As we live in a world of ‘hyper change and quantum everything’, finding our way forward as we move along, we can cling to an old truth by Winston Churchill: “Only the wise man [sic] knows at the moment what is vital and permanent, what is lasting and memorable.” In order to understand the moment correctly, we must read the sign of the times: develop the skill to honestly

breathe in the zeitgeist, to look through a very clear lens at its naked truth, not distracted by clutter and noise. Combined with a core purpose and a mission, one can then draw out a strategy that is not just successful, but also sustainable.


Jointly, we can build an inclusive financial services community that is part of a wider ecosystem As the Director of London-based CSFI, Andrew Hilton succinctly puts it: “The zeitgeist is running hard in favour of the environment and sustainability and away from red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalism.” As a financial services community – incumbent or fintech – we owe ourselves and our stakeholders just that. Jointly, we can build an inclusive financial services community that is part of a

WHO WE ARE BankiFi offers banks the ability to build a business bank from ‘gig to big’ by supplying them with microservices for business that they can bundle in a way that fits their customers’ requirements. The bank channel thus becomes the platform: the one-stop place for the business customers’ accounting, banking and tax requirements. It enables banks to go beyond an ‘open experience’ promise by providing relevant offerings to its client base in terms of time, location and context. BankiFi has a data-driven, distributed banking model that allows financial service providers to manage, consume, distribute and monetise data through a suite of application programme interface (API)-driven microservices. The bank creates its own bundle of microservices for a particular segment or solution – accounting, invoicing, payments, nudges, lending, virtual accounts, cash management, etc. Thus, banks can build the right solution for their business segments: mobile, agile,

wider ecosystem. It not only connects business owners and traders to finance, but also to vital services providers and to suppliers and customers by exchanging key data. By adding identity to the equation, we can shorten know-your-customer process times, and follow money flows as they occur, thereby decreasing fraud. Open data provides instant insights into a financial position and outstanding debits and credits, thereby suppling faster access to situation-centric financing. The call for transparency, sustainability and an equal contribution to the world we live in can no longer be ignored and offers great opportunities. So let’s practise some essential daily zeitgeist reading in 2020. If you know the why (things have to change), it is much easier to chart the how. And the how is within reach with access to literally a global pool of talent, technology and tools.

AT A GLANCE fair and relevant to specific challenges at a specific moment in time. Such customisable services make them as relevant to a sole-trader/ self-employed, microbusiness through to SMEs and up to large multinational corporations that have very sophisticated requirements. The idea is that the bank can acquire business customers at the earliest possible stage, providing services throughout their life cycle, so that they still have them as a customer by the time they become a large enterprise. The BankiFi business model is a native, Cloud-managed microservices scenario with user subscription whereby the bank subscribes to BankiFi services, based on the number of users. This set of services has been designed so as to store as little data as possible outside the bank environment. Thus, BankiFi combines the core strength of the bank – customer relationships and a regulated environment – with the fast, agile development skills of a robust fintech partner.

COMPANY: BankiFi FOUNDED: 2018 CATEGORY: Technology provider to banks KEY PERSONNEL:

Founding partners Mark Hartley and Conny Dorrestijn (right) HEAD OFFICE:

Manchester, UK ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +44 7867970346 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/bankifi/ TWITTER: @Bankifi_global

WHAT WE DO Bank account-ing from gig to big THEFINTECHPOWER50



CHOICES, CHOICES... The first comparison site for car insurance to be launched in the UK gave confused shoppers the ability to make informed decisions. It spawned a global family of similar platforms, now known as the Penguin Portals

Having too much choice isn’t a new problem. But as markets across the world mature, segment and diversify it’s a problem that’s growing rapidly. Even deciding what to watch on Netflix can be a headache because the options are seemingly endless. But a dilemma over living room entertainment is a trivial one. The worst-case scenario is that you waste an hour by watching something you don’t enjoy. For complicated, meaningful decisions, such as those regarding our finances, the headache becomes a migraine. Our team recognised that there was a major flaw in the way people made decisions about financial services almost two decades ago when we launched the first comparison platform for car insurance in the UK, Before this, people would have to trawl through the phone directory, calling up insurers, answering long lists of questions just to compare a handful of prices and features. The whole process would take hours. Now it takes seconds. was a fintech before the term was even coined, pioneering the idea that tech was the key to solving a very real challenge faced by people all


over the UK. It helped them out of a vulnerable situation when they were at the mercy of a handful of car insurers who dominated the market. It empowered them with the information they needed to make the right choice, saving them time and money. It revolutionised the way people in the UK buy their car insurance and continues to be one of the nation’s market-leading comparison platforms. In fact, now more than 75 per cent of all new-business car insurance is secured via comparison platforms. Simultaneously, they increased competition and had a direct impact on market growth, partly by opening it up to innovative new providers that couldn’t afford big-spend advertising. But it’s not just people in the UK who need help with making decisions about financial services – it’s an issue

A data-led approach has become essential to understanding challenges in different territories. It helps us listen to our customers

experienced by people all over the world. Understanding that this was a global pain point has been the key to successfully launching and establishing platforms in five other countries, including Spain, France, Mexico, Turkey and India. in Spain and in France have followed’s footsteps to be market-leading platforms in their home nations. Our platforms in Mexico, Turkey and India have launched into less mature markets, but are nevertheless disrupting and shaping those markets as they grow. As we’ve grown globally, the number of opportunities to empower people when making financial services decisions has grown, too. Across our territories, we’ve diversified to compare everything from energy to car finance, subsequently transforming those markets. Each platform has a slightly different offering, naturally led by customers’ financial services needs within their respective countries. Differing needs across nations is part of the reason why bringing a fintech solution to people all over the world isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. The headaches felt by people in different regions, while similar, aren’t one and the

same. Neither are the needs of customers in any one country nationwide; as individuals, we increasingly expect products and services to be tailored to our personal situations. Across borders, markets are at varying levels of maturity, and regulation is a minefield. These challenges are the reasons why our teams align under Penguin Portals. We think globally, but act locally. We work together to share mutual challenges and successes, but our regional teams are the experts within their respective nations. A data-led approach has become essential to understanding challenges within different territories. It helps us listen to our customers so we can improve their experience and, therefore, better protect them. It helps us spot meaningful patterns and behaviours across geographies, allowing for shared problem-solving across our platforms. Using this listening approach and advanced Cloud capabilities, we’re harnessing machine learning to make our services and products intelligently personalised, simpler and faster. None of what we’ve achieved so far would be possible without our 600-strong team. But why penguins? Penguins stick together for strength and adapt to adverse conditions, just like we’re used to standing together to help each other thrive in competitive markets. They are diverse, just like us. So what does the future of Penguin Portals look like? Too much choice is a rapidly growing problem, leaving more and more people vulnerable when making decisions that matter. As markets in the financial services sector grow and

develop across the world, more nations will need to be empowered when making decisions. By broadening, developing and taking our platforms to new verticals, customers and countries, we’ll realise our ambition to lead in protecting customers. We don’t believe that people want choices made for them. We like things that simplify our lives, but being in control is human nature, so we don’t want decisions to be made for us. We’re analytical beings.

WHO WE ARE is part of Penguin Portals, the largest network of comparison platforms for financial services in the world, which is itself a subsidiary of Admiral Group. The network has one, universal mission – to empower people to make better choices about financial services and it is currently embarked on a global growth mission to extend that to many more customers. Financial services products are complex, so our platforms empower people in their decisionmaking by making it easier for them to choose between providers and what they have to offer. We do this by building partnerships with a broad range of financial service providers within a given market. This gives customers as broad a view of the market as possible and allows them to compare between a range of products – be they insurance, loans, mortgages, credit cards, banking, energy, or internet providers among many more – based on price and features.

We like to weigh up the pros and the cons because, ultimately, only we know what’s good for us. It’s a personal choice that we want to empower. But in a chaotic world where there are so many important decisions to be made, sometimes we need to turn to something we can trust to make our lives a little easier. That’s where we come in. Simultaneously, we help financial services providers identify how best to reach the right customers, for the right price at the right time through advanced data analytics. Once a partner is on board, the platform supports them with integrating into the system.


Penguin Portals FOUNDED: 2018 CATEGORY:

Comparison platform KEY PERSONNEL:

Elena Betes, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: Cardiff, UK ACTIVE IN: Europe, Central America, Asia CONTACT: corporate@ WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/penguin-portals

WHAT WE DO The largest network of comparison platforms for financial services in the world



Why payments as a service is first choice for FIs

More financial institutions are choosing to outsource mission-critical payments infrastructure over building or licensing legacy technology The pace of change within the global payments technology space is still at full speed with no sign of slowing down. While traditional incumbents have until recently taken comfort in their size and decades of dominance,


new digital-only challenger banks are ramping up and making a huge impact on the global financial landscape. The reason for this surge? The accessibility of digital banking services has captured the attention of savvy

consumers who want a modern banking service that is quick and convenient. Similarly, as corporate clients adopt digital capabilities in their operations and business models, they too require convenient, instant access to, and

FORM3 real-time movement of, funds without delays or costly charges. So, what are the incumbents doing to keep up? Financial institutions (FIs) are increasing their spend on technology, while balancing their digital strategy with new regulations, such as Europe’s revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which is designed to increase competition. Much of this technology investment is directed towards expensive and complex, hard-to-transform legacy infrastructure, which still ends up dictating the digital process flow. While some financial institutions are attempting to bolt new solutions onto existing infrastructure, others are moving legacy core systems to Cloud hosting and layering on application programme interfaces (APIs) in a bid to reduce costs. Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve longer term issues such as batch processing inefficiencies in the middle and back office and lengthy implementations for every system change and upgrade. These inefficiencies lead to a major competitive disadvantage.

In a drive to become operationally lean and agile in response to market demands, incumbents are now actively investing in Cloud-native technology, where there are no legacy constraints to deal with. Microservices architecture and a single code base enable scalability, efficiencies and speed to market, improving the


Microservices architecture and a single code base enable scalability, efficiencies and speed to market overall customer experience and offering a major advantage in having the latest technology and enhanced operational innovations available. In the race to win and retain customers long term, incumbents need to address cultural change, legacy barriers and adopt the type of flexible architecture and working processes that can instantly add new capabilities as the financial landscape changes. This is where partnering with a specialist, Cloud-native

fintech can really help. Once seen as fringe disrupters, fintechs are now becoming important strategic allies at the core of digital banking change. By their nature and design, fintechs are nimble, can deploy quickly and at a low cost. The technologies, operational processes and organisational culture are all born out of operating Cloud-native services in a real-time, always-on environment. More and more financial institutions are choosing to outsource their mission-critical payments infrastructure to specialist providers such as Form3. The burden of regulation, variation across payment schemes, engineering, maintenance and improvements is removed. To build such an infrastructure is typically a multi-year, multi-million-pound project which, upon completion, will already be heading into legacy. The choice to move to a payments-as-a-service option frees up time and resources to truly transform the customer experience and stay relevant. Let’s start a conversation about UK, European and international payments needs.



Form3 works with UK, European and US banks, payment institutions, card payment processors and licensed fintechs, including Tier 1 brands, to migrate them away from their legacy past and connect to payment schemes in real time through a Cloud-native payments platform.


Form3’s powerful microservices architecture and application programme interfaces (APIs) provide a single point of access to the full universe of payment schemes. It’s payments – pure and simple. Utilising its award-winning, fully managed, 24/7 service enables incumbents to meet new customer demands faster through reliable and

secure processing for FPS, BACS, CHAPS, SEPA, SEPA Instant & SWIFT with no hardware or software required by them. Form3 uniquely combines market-leading payments expertise with AWS Cloud-native technology, delivering outcomes through managed services, not through hosting legacy applications. As such, the burden of ongoing regulation, engineering, maintenance and improvements is removed. Partnering with Form3 also ensures the highest possible standards of resilience, availability, security and proactive incident management, which is not achievable through incumbent legacy technology.


Payments technology KEY PERSONNEL:

Michael Mueller, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: UK & EEA with view to expand to North America CONTACT: WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/form3-financial-cloud/ TWITTER: @F3FinCloud

WHAT WE DO Helping banks and regulated fintechs move money faster





Anders la Cour, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Banking Circle, discusses the findings of the financial utility’s latest research, uncovering the challenges and opportunities ahead for SME banking and payment providers As a fintech passionate about increasing financial inclusion for SMEs, Banking Circle is committed to continually investigating where the current offering is failing them and providing real solutions for real businesses. As such, the financial infrastructure provider regularly carries out detailed research, which it shares with the industry to encourage conversation and collaboration. In 2019, Banking Circle commissioned MagnaCarta Communications to carry out research into how different financial institutions are helping and can help to increase financial inclusion. Three reports were published throughout 2019, following discussions with hundreds of SMEs and startups. Interviewees reported that application and set-up takes too long, costs are out of reach, and that credit repayments are inflexible. Kent Vorland, CEO of SmartTrade App,


told Banking Circle during the 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.” With no two SMEs alike, banks – be they incumbent or challenger – are not always able to provide SMEs with the flexible, fast-paced banking solutions they need. And, so far, few fintechs have taken on the challenge. The first report, published in June 2019, called Financial Inclusion For Europe’s SMEs: Building A Circle Of Trust, is an in-depth white paper providing a fresh perspective on existing failings and opportunities across the industry. Complementing this original report, in September and October 2019 Banking Circle published two insight papers, focussing on the innovations already taking place in banking and payments, respectively, and the

opportunities yet to be exploited. Each of these three reports features insights from lenders, banks, payment service providers and SMEs throughout Europe: those working in the midst of the challenges and the solutions in the market today. Speaking to these experts gave Banking Circle first-hand insight, uncovering where changes are happening, the opportunities that exist, and where barriers are beginning to come down to improve SME financial inclusion.

EXPERT INSIGHTS In the banking insight paper, Circle Of Trust Or Out Of The Loop?, Valentina Kristensen, Director of Growth and Communications at OakNorth Bank said: “SMEs are still not top of the agenda for most financial services providers, but many are waking up to the benefits. They are realising that if they get an SME on board, they will be loyal and bring multiple cross-selling opportunities.”

The report shows that bringing about real change and better financial inclusion for SMEs requires market participants to work together in developing joint solutions and building bridges between innovations already in the market. Roger Vincent, General Manager (UK&I) and CIO of Trade Ledger commented: “We are creating a new ecosystem of financial services providers, in partnership with other providers such as Banking Circle, to establish a new era of financial services that will better service customers and SMEs in the banking space. If we better serve the banking space through the incumbents, then the SMEs will benefit greatly as they can access the services they want.” In the payments insight paper, Pay, Set, Match! Payment Services For SMEs – Jump-starting A Virtuous Digital Payment Circle, Ivo Gueorguiev, the Chairman of Paynetics said: “Any service providers deploying digital technology are ideally placed to serve SMEs, and would address the problems of scalability, access, utilisation and viability.” Supporting this view is recent research that showed nearly half of UK small businesses would be willing to move to a non-bank provider if their financial needs would be met in innovative, new ways.1

JOINED UP SOLUTIONS This latest series of reports from Banking Circle shows that progress and the potential achievements will remain limited until further collaboration, communication and joined-up thinking becomes commonplace within the financial services industry. With many fintechs 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. Dialogues must be kept open and innovation must continue in order to find and develop successful, effective, affordable solutions that will work for SMEs of all types, increasing financial inclusion and benefiting the wider economy. All three reports can be downloaded in full at

WHO WE ARE Banking Circle is a next-generation provider of mission-critical financial services infrastructure, leading the rise of a super-correspondent banking network. It enables crossborder transfers to happen in seconds, at very low cost, in multiple currencies and in a secure Cloud-based environment. Payments businesses can add value to their proposition by joining Banking Circle and offering their merchants own-branded global banking services. In this way, it empowers financial institutions to support customers’ trading ambitions – domestic and global - while reducing risk and the operational cost of transactions. By becoming a member of Banking Circle, financial institutions can offer their customers banking services – from payments to loans – to help them trade domestically and globally, efficiently and at low cost. Importantly, they can help their customers improve cash flow through enhanced speed of settlement while remaining fully compliant with financial regulation. Payments businesses bank on us to access accounts everywhere, settle payments quickly and improve customer services by:

Payments businesses and banks can: ■ Open IBAN accounts (in their own name) in multiple currencies ■ Get customised, low-cost FX solutions ■ Access global and local clearing methods ■ Open multiple currency accounts for online marketplace sellers ■ Offer merchants fast access to cash without any credit exposure ■ Get added value solutions for specific needs (e.g. Virtual IBAN solution in multiple currencies) Independent payment solutions provider, Cardstream, recently partnered with Banking Circle to pioneer a unique joint white label lending solution. Each of Cardstream’s more than 200 partners provides payment services to many hundreds of SME merchants. Now, they can also offer these merchants access to affordable, flexible loans.

AT A GLANCE COMPANY: Banking Circle FOUNDED: 2015 CATEGORY: Financial infrastructure for payments businesses and banks KEY PERSONNEL:

■ Offering banking services to their clients ■ Improving cash flow through the enhanced speed of settlement ■ Building client loyalty and retention through added value Banks bank on us to reduce operational costs and risk while increasing their global reach by: ■ Reducing overheads through lower operational cost of transactions ■ Reducing administrative resource needed to identify transaction laundering and lower risk ■ Servicing global markets and extending their service offering to encompass different payment types

Anders la Cour, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: Luxembourg ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +4420 7073 0421 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/bankingcircle/ TWITTER @BankingCircle

WHAT WE DO Financial infrastructure you can bank on






David Parker on the rise – but not necessarily the supremacy – of the neobank We have heard a lot of people talk about the death of banking and banks (by banks we mean generally retail/payment banks) and the takeover by the fintech and neobank. According to Business Insider Intelligence, global neobanks count 39 million customers today and they expect that number to surge to 98 million by 2024, with the actual number of accounts being roughly twice the number of users (i.e. an average two accounts per customer). But let’s remember, not only do many fintech and neobank solutions have a huge number of inactive users, but they also have many customers who use them as a secondary and/or budget account. A survey of 2,000 UK consumers from found that nine per cent of British people, equating to 4.5 million, have opened an account with a digital-only bank. By 2024 it is estimated that a further 16 per cent of the population, or 8.5 million people, intend to. But many of these neobanks are happy with salary loads of 20 to 30 per cent and only a few reach the dizzy heights of more than 70 per cent. Yet, for many traditional banks, where your salary is paid into is the key marker of your main account. That is not to say that neobanks have not been making great strides. Recent current account switching data shows Monzo and Starling have done well, but then so have HSBC and NatWest, two traditional high street players who have, in fact, done


better than both of those challengers. More recent headlines have stressed the coming of open banking. The opening up of the high street data vaults allows swathes of fintechs to start using the data to create better solutions for customers. Certainly, if we look at data from Konsentus, we see strong growth in the number of third-party providers (TPPs) around Europe, which is surely indicative of this new wave. There may, however, be unintended consequences. The UK’s Current Account Switch Service was set up to make it easy for everyone to switch bank accounts by moving all their direct debits with them – one of the biggest headaches in account switching. But, as the growth of TPPs gains traction, and more consumers start buying into their added-value services and offerings, will they, in effect, stop the growth of the neobanks in their tracks? If a payment service user (i.e. a customer) wants to move a bank account, the Current Account Switch Service cannot move any of the TPP strong customer authentications. So, will TPPs in fact create greater friction in account movement? While one side of the fintech see-saw goes up, it risks hindering the growth of neobanks on the other side. Should we be worried? Well, research by Zopa in June 2019 revealed one in three Brits holds two or more current accounts, an increase of 36 per cent on the number recorded in 2015. Are we seeing a more dramatic shift away from switching your current account to just

AT A GLANCE David Parker is the founder and CEO of Polymath Consulting, which works with the cards and payments industry. He advises and/or sits on the boards of Cybertonica, 3S Money Club, Trezeo, Pie People and Curve, among others and, most recently, co-founded the regtech Konsentus. WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: in/polymathconsulting/ managing several? And there’s another thing. While we talk a lot about neobanks, many of them in Europe are just operating under emoney licences. So, rather than challenger banks, they are bank challengers. They cannot offer interest on savings and have a very different structure for holding consumer funds – as in they don’t! They need to rely on banks to hold the funds. And this perhaps is the crux of the matter. While in 2017 we saw the launch of Clearbank, this was the first new UK clearing banking bank in 250 years and no others have followed – a testament, perhaps, to just how hard it is. So, while there are many neobanks emerging, they still rely (in many cases) on traditional high street banks to hold and clear their funds and move money around for them. While it is easy to shout about the death of the bank, I for one believe that while neobanks will gain traction, they are not likely, in my lifetime, to become dominant players.



How the financial services industry determines the framework for data exchange will set the standard for the rest of the data economy, argues Ghela Boskovich We are racing headlong into the data economy, looking to create value and insights and looking also to create markets for that data that ultimately allow more people to be involved in that value exchange. The data economy is inherently inclusive: as more and more of us add to our digital footprints, even those who are at a socio-economic disadvantage have a chance to participate. We see evidence of this in the personal data economy, which is created by individuals using personal data that they supply, either directly or indirectly. People – consumers – become the suppliers and controllers of this data. But this personal data economy is still new, and the early inceptions of it have been framed and controlled by corporations rather than individuals. The wave to take back this control from big corporates and map out the legal framework of this nascent personal data economy is reaching tidal wave proportions. Financial services is one of the key beachfronts onto which this tsunami will crash. It will have an effect on how the rest of the data economy landscape will be determined. As mixed as my metaphors are, one thing is certain: how we frame our future consumer/customer data rights is dependent on how we address this question right now. How value is created, who benefits, and who is included in the economy are questions whose answers we


determine today. How we frame open finance policy – open financial data exchange – will set the standard for the rest of the data economy, as well as unlock economic potential and improve the financial wellbeing of customers. It is our responsibility to set a flexible, fair, ethical, and clear customer data right and policy for ourselves and future generations. Consumers have the most to gain from regulated and standardised open finance policy: from more innovative services, to better ways of accessing and paying for the services they need, and improving the timeliness to switch those services. This improves financial inclusion, reduces friction and frustration, and results in more accurately priced, risk-based services. Open finance still requires a levelling of the playing field for all actors, requiring us to clarify and standardise the rights, responsibilities and requirements of data sharing across all parties involved: from customers, to third-party providers (TPPs), to incumbents and regulators. First and foremost in this is correcting for information asymmetries. Every account holder – individuals, small businesses and large corporates – should be able to direct their personal data to be shared with any regulated party providing a service. This requires reciprocity – reciprocal rights for banks and TPPs. It’s not fair that a bank has to share its bank customer data without

It’s not fair that a bank has to share its customer data without reciprocal rights. Nor for banks to limit their data sharing to select TPPs

reciprocal rights. But nor is it fair for banks to limit their data sharing to a select number of TPPs. These bilateral agreements exclude legitimately regulated providers, limit consumer choice of service providers and stifle competition. Reciprocity is crucial to a truly open finance framework, and part of making reciprocity a reality is to establish a data transfer mechanism (common, standardised application programme interfaces or APIs) that also accounts for recovering the costs of data transfer. There are other critical components that must be sorted and defined before open finance can be successful: the customer data right, the customer consent mechanism and standard, and the chain of liability as the customer’s data traverses the network of services and providers. These are complex issues, but the answers to how we craft these policies are built on the principle of an open data market, one rooted in reciprocity for all actors.

AT A GLANCE Ghela Boskovich describes herself as an ‘inclusive tech culturalist and fintech fanatic’. She founded FemTech, a worldwide community working towards inclusion and diversity in financial services, and is one of the most dynamic and thoughtful voices in fintech today. WEBSITE TWITTER @GhelaBoskovich




Icefire spin-out Modularbank is designed to be effortlessly adapatable for today’s digital financial services – no matter who’s delivering them It’s all very well providing a cutting-edge solution for banks, but an intrinsic knowledge of how traditional financial institutions work is vital for compatibility with clients’ often aging structure. Meet Modularbank, an off-the-peg solution for banks wanting to implement a range of new digital services, fast. A spin-out from banking technology developer Icefire, it was realised out of 25-plus years of experience working with financial institutions, and with founders that cut their teeth within a resourceful, yet cash-strapped local bank that went on to become the biggest in the Baltics – and, ultimately, becoming part of Swedish banking giant, Swedbank. Built on the modular structure of microservices, Modularbank targets a range of segments: a solution for established financial players, but one that has wider appeal, too. Potential clients include new startups wanting to create a challenger financial product, established financial institutions looking to modernise and compete on a digital level, and brands such as telcos, retailers and utility companies that are looking to launch financial products to support their businesses or negate the need for outsourcing their financial services. Rivo Uibo, CBO and Co-founder of Modularbank, points out the typical scenarios it expects to face with an established financial brand. “Older players like this usually have two narratives. One is a modernisation aspect, such as getting rid of a legacy system, and the second aspect is when a client wants to launch a completely new digital arm – like a bank within a bank – to fully adapt


to a new operating model,” he says. Many years of previous experience building up Hansabank and working on an alternative to the industry-standard banking systems, such as T24 , gave the team behind Modularbank an invaluable insider knowledge of such a client’s business, says Vilve Vene – who started Icefire years before and is now Modularbank CEO. Being born out of a grassroots knowledge of how established banks run gives Modularbank a distinct advantage over its competitors, significantly increasing its immediate fit with a client as being an equal partner to them, not just a regular platform provider. An almost genetic compatibility with the client is just part of Modularbank’s appeal, though, says Vene. The modular way in which the product is built gives clients the flexibility to select what they currently need, then to upgrade and add other services later.

It’s about building or transforming the banking services in a matter of weeks rather than months or years “Our product helps banks through its modularity,” she says. “The product has everything needed for retail banking, in a modular offering. It covers banking core, payments, deposits, lending processes, real-time general ledger. However, if a client needs just lending, it simply takes that module – the same for core banking. Or maybe it only wants the ability to take payment for now.” Well-structured application programme interfaces (APIs) allow for seamless integration with current systems, the

plug-and-play compatibility made possible by anticipating potential roadblocks. This kind of preparedness is only possible with a comprehensive knowledge of the banking industry as a whole, says Vene. The team is also fully aware of the value its product brings to clients in the form of time saved, as launching a product in any large and established company is usually a long and expensive process. Uibo explains that with Modularbank it doesn’t have to be that way: “It’s about building or transforming the banking services in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. We have packaged this into an elegant solution, where products can be configured and made available almost immediately.” The future for Modularbank and the team looks bright. With a combined 60 years of experience working on banking solutions between them and the reputation (and impressive client list) of Icefire behind them, they are more than prepared for the world of modern banking. Open banking presents a glimpse of the direction the financial industry is headed. “Having built this as a fully API-based platform gives us a unique advantage,” concludes Uibo. “We can interconnect to the ecosystem, for example, apps running on Alexa or smartphones and even within other players’ products, bringing financial services and banking products to spheres where people and businesses live their lives every day.” The product that Modularbank has developed is prepared for the challenges our clients face and precisely addresses the needs of the industry today. As Vene says: “It’s a bank in a box.”




Modularbank is the most modern Cloud-based banking platform built by seasoned banking technology experts. It is the core banking suite to build next-generation banking experiences, both in the retail and business banking landscape.

COMPANY: Modularbank

Based on microservices and run in the Cloud, it works under a multi-region, multi-tenant setup, meaning you can launch instantly in different countries. Modularbank is powered by the most modern workflow engine that allows customers to build their own processes (know your customer, fraud detection, payment-related processes, etc) simply by process configuring. It provides real-time immutable transaction ledger, including general ledger, that is

automatically generated on the basis of business events that allow continuous business monitoring. The information gathered by different ledgers provides the ability to build intelligent data services and analysis on top of it – to detect possible money laundry cases in real time, for example. Whether you are a non-bank or an established financial institution, Modularbank’s future-proof technology provides an immediate impact on your business growth.

WHAT WE DO An API-based core banking suite, built on microservices


Banking platform KEY PERSONNEL:

Vilve Vene, CEO & Co-founder (top right) and Rivo Uibo, CBO & Co-founder (below) HEAD OFFICE:

Tallinn, Estonia ACTIVE IN: Europe CONTACT: +372 6600999 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/modularbank/ TWITTER: @modularbank



How to move the client relationship from the old world of correspondence to conversation-centred engagement

TIME FOR A CHAT The technology has now arrived to allow financial service organisations to move their client service engagement model from one centred around correspondence and self-service to one based upon conversation – primarily chat.

This shift is both necessary to improve the efficiency of the organisation and driven by customers’ evolving demands. A long time ago, if you were a valued client of a bank you got the best service by visiting the local branch to discuss with the local manager who also lived in the area. The manager probably had known you for years and he was empowered to make his own risk assessment of your financial situation and made decisions accordingly. As time went by, this relationship diminished so that only the very rich clients and large corporates still have a personal relationship. The rest of us have been directed to an endless number of paper and online forms for a self-service


experience – and if the algorithm behind the form says ‘no’, there is little to no recourse. The de-personalisation of the client relationship to one of brand management has led us to the point where there is precious little loyalty by either bank or client. Now, fortunately for all service organisations, three forces have emerged, forcing a rethink:

1 2 3

Customers now dictate the terms of engagement as they can easily change service provider Smartphones have made instant messaging applications mainstream Bots driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning have reduced the cost of providing standard services

A CLIENT-DEFINED ENGAGEMENT MODEL It is clear that consumers are now in the driving seat in terms of adapting to newer and more powerful technology; switching from one service provider to another is

becoming easier by the day. And the younger the client base, the more empowered they are to make the switch. The ubiquity of smart phones and mobile-centric messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat and others, has led to a new generation of staff and clients for whom email is about as relevant as a fax machine was to their preceding cohort. It is estimated that three out of five minutes is spent by the average mobile phone user in a messaging app. The irony that mobile phones are becoming less and less about voice calls has been pointed out repeatedly! In countries such as China, WeChat has become the primary channel of engagement for the nation. Users can access a wide range of services through the platform, to such an extent that many consider the WeChat ecosystem to be the Internet in its own right. Service providers have no choice but to be present on such a channel and engage via chat with users.


We regularly see, despite regulatory fines and clear warnings against using them, staff continuing to engage with each other and with clients via unrecorded, unsafe public instant messaging platforms. They are doing so because clients have made their choice clear; come to where we are, or we will work with a supplier who will. In the West, easily available official application programme interfaces (APIs) and business accounts for products such as WhatsApp have been restricted to a relative few under a long-winded beta programme. This is now changing in

2020 and your new primary channel to engage with the world will no longer be your website but your WhatsApp business account or similar. But who will be answering all these chats on a 24/7 basis? Fortunately, the advent and maturation of bots driven by AI and machine learning mean that service providers can make the choice as to which process and conversation will be handled by a machine, human or both. This will depend on the value of the transaction, the value of the relationship and the complexity of the query. Novastone is the provider of a new chat operating system that can enable this new

model of engagement. Running either in a dedicated Cloud or as a true software-as-aservice deployment, Novastone’s clients are in total control of all data, processes and end points. APIs integrate to home-grown and off-the-shelf software solutions to leverage existing investments by the client organisation. The most popular instant messaging solutions are pre-integrated and offer support functionalities such as one-click secure transactions through biometrics. Our patented asymmetric chat architecture puts control in the hands of service teams and relationship managers. In several of our deployments we have seen a 90 per cent shift from email and alternative messaging platforms to Novastone. But the metric that has surprised our customers the most is the more than 50 per cent reduction in phone calls as their staff no longer play telephone tag their clients. By moving to a service defined primarily as a series of conversations, we engage our customers with their clients on a deeper emotional level. This is done at a lower cost and with higher security than email, paper forms and call centres. We may no longer have a local bank branch, but we can nevertheless have a richer dialogue and build a deeper relationship.



Novastone is an award-winning provider of instant messaging (IM) solutions for regulated industries. It enhances internal and external communication between staff, clients, bots and other systems.


The Novastone solutions have been deployed with some of the largest banks in North America, Europe and Asia. It is helping them to move to a conversation-centric experience, which is expected by clients. Novastone helps them transition clients from email while complementing WhatsApp and WeChat channels to a wholly owned, controlled and compliant platform.

It also supports the transition of processes from paper and portals into conversations that deliver significant costs savings while improving internal and external collaboration. Along the way, it has won industry recognition and awards such as the 2019 Innovate Finance Global Summit Enterprise Software of the year.

WHAT WE DO Transforming banking from correspondence to instant communication

Novastone Media Ltd FOUNDED: 2014 CATEGORY:

Software as a service KEY PERSONNEL:

Douglas Orr, CEO & Founder (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: UK, Singapore, USA CONTACT: WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/novastone TWITTER: @novastonemedia




Sean Hunter, CIO of OakNorth, explores the importance of data when it comes to the decisionmaking process around lower mid-market business loans If you are a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) aiming to borrow a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars, technology has made it possible for lenders to provide an extremely efficient service and for you to get a near-instantaneous credit decision. This is at the core of alternative and peer-to-peer lending companies such as LendingClub, Kabbage, and OnDeck. For larger or more complex loans, however, technology has made fewer inroads, with lending at the higher end (i.e. loans of more than $1million) remaining a fundamentally manual and expensive process when it comes to credit underwriting and monitoring. A bank, given the choice of issuing a loan of $100million with a one per cent arrangement fee, delivering $1million in fees, or issuing a loan of $10million with a one per cent arrangement fee, delivering $100,000 in fees, will naturally focus on the bigger deal, presenting a barrier to the underwriting of smaller loans if the process is manual. In the mid-market, where loans are too big for automated decision models but too


small for the unit economics of the manual approach to make commercial sense, the market has been characterised by fairly inflexible, product-centric lending, which does not necessarily meet borrowers’ needs. While a fully automated decision process will probably never be appropriate for loans in the millions of dollars, artificial intelligence and large-scale data analysis can help bridge the gap between fully automated and fully manual credit assessment, allowing an efficient, semi-automated process while still preserving some of the customisation necessary to address the complex needs of SMEs. This has been the experience of OakNorth Bank, a small and medium-sized business lender in the UK, which uses OakNorth, the next-generation

The OakNorth platform allows banks and other lending institutions to significantly improve and accelerate their credit decisioning and monitoring capabilities

credit platform that’s redefining lending to lower mid-market businesses (loans of $1million to $25million) globally. The bank has grown its lending book in the UK from zero at the start of trading in September 2015 to several billion dollars today with no credit losses and yields that supported a profit of $40million in 2018. The OakNorth platform allows banks such as this and other lending institutions to significantly improve and accelerate their credit decisioning and monitoring capabilities. It supplements the traditional method of relying on backward-looking historical data sourced from the borrower, and scenario analysis based on standard haircuts that are not necessarily linked to industry drivers (Level 1 and 2 analysis), with technology and massive data sets. It uses these to model a forward-looking view that’s informed by industry benchmarks, macroeconomic drivers, and scenario analysis specific to each business (Level 3 and 4 analysis). Looking at the specific data sets, sentiment analysis, for example, can help to summarise qualitative text data, such as reviews from comparison sites, into scores that are more readily included in other analyses. Clustering is another set

of techniques that can be used to segment a dataset into a set of categories to give a lender additional market insight. The platform is deployed seamlessly alongside its bank and lending partners’ existing credit processes, enabling them to more holistically and profitably cater to this market segment.

THE BENEFITS FOR OAKNORTH PARTNERS ARE: ■ Better customer experience, leading to accelerated revenue and business growth – customised loans can be completed in days or weeks vs months ■ Attractive economics – origination

WHO WE AREA The OakNorth group was founded by Rishi Khosla and Joel Perlman, who were inspired to launch the business following the challenges they had faced in securing debt finance from high street banks for their previous business, Copal Amba, which scaled to around 3,000 employees and was acquired by Moody’s Corporation in 2014. Since its inception, OakNorth has secured more than $1billion from several investors, including Clermont Group, Coltrane, EDBI of Singapore, GIC, Indiabulls, NIBC, Toscafund, and SoftBank’s Vision Fund. It is one of the few fintech businesses globally that has managed to generate sustained profits.

and credit teams can transact several times more deals per year ■ Enhanced credit and portfolio performance – larger data sets and Level 3 and 4 analysis can be used to make decisions and conduct more proactive monitoring, leading to better credit outcomes

AT A GLANCE In the UK, it leverages its platform to do balance sheet lending via OakNorth Bank. Launched in September 2015, the bank has lent several billion pounds to UK businesses, including bars, restaurants, hotels, private equity firms, funds, professional services companies, property developers, care homes, nurseries and colleges. Outside the UK, the OakNorth platform is licensed to banks and lending institutions to facilitate credit analysis, portfolio monitoring and SME loan origination, helping to effect SME lending to lower mid-market businesses. OakNorth recent appointed Sunil Chandra as CEO of the platform. Chandra joins from Google where he was a VP.


Software-as-a-service KEY PERSONNEL:

Rishi Khosla (top right) and Joel Perlman (right), Co-founders HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/oaknorth-platform/ TWITTER: @OakNorth

WHAT WE DO The next-generation credit platform that’s redefining lower mid-market business lending globally



IT’S WHO YOU KNOW What businesses need from an ID verification provider is an AI-driven realtime, compliant, future-proofed, secure solution. But they also need to be confident that there’s human intelligence behind it, says IDnow We are living in an era in which digital transformations are happening faster than ever. On the one hand, this technology empowers many businesses but, on the other, businesses have to make sure they keep up with developments and provide safe and compliant service at all times to protect their clients from fraud and financial crimes. A solid know-your-customer (KYC) process is essential to providing the right combination of compliance and security with superior customer experience. So, what are the advantages of using an online identity verification service? Unlike a traditional identity verification process, online identity verification does not have any time-consuming requirements, such as paperwork or the customer physically waiting in a line. That means a positive user experience and higher conversion rates.


Not only does this have an impact on your business, but it also makes a huge difference for the client. From a customer point of view, flexibility plays a major role in a positive experience, and easy online identity verification allows the customer to complete the process anywhere and anytime they choose without the support of a specialist. Users do not experience any interruption or media break during the process, which saves them time and eliminates frustration. In this way, the business saves both time and money, and its customer is happy and easier to convert. For many customers, security is a matter of course, especially in the financial sector. It is the financial institution’s responsibility not only to comply with the requirements of the regulators but also to offer the client the highest possible level of security, such as biometric checks and liveness detection

as well as psychological fraud-detection questions. Besides all of this, the most important thing for providers is to always stay up to date with the latest fraud trends and constantly update a security system to give fraudsters a hard time and protect their customers. IDnow set out to make the connected world a safer place by providing KYC services for tightly regulated sectors in Europe and cater for a wide range of use cases for completely new digital business models worldwide. Its unmanipulable identity verification is used across industries conducting online customer interactions that require a high degree of security with, potentially, the identities of more than seven billion customers from 193 different countries able to be verified in realtime. In addition to safety, the focus is also on an uncomplicated application for the customer.

ID NOW IDnow uses artificial intelligence (AI) to check all security features on ID documents to reliably spot forgeries. The IDnow Identity Verification Platform allows clients to customise the identity flow to different regional, legal and business requirements on a per-use case basis, seamlessly integrating into a company’s digital workflow across desktop, tablet and mobile to provide the very best onboarding user experience for their customers, while enhancing conversion rates for their business. With the IDnow platform, companies can be confident that their digital workflow meets KYC requirements, whether they are a bank or a car-sharing service.



If you are looking for a solid KYC partner, make sure to choose a company that knows your needs even better than you do. This checklist will help you to include all important aspects of your decisionmaking process.


A platform that covers all your needs with a flexible solution A good provider offers flexibility across a wide range of KYC services, from fully automated to agent-assisted,

as well as e-signing solutions. Why is this important to you? The perfect KYC solution for your business is the one that can be customised for each use case. In this way, you can also cover different use cases in a company, using a single platform. And all this via a single API.

It is the financial institution’s responsibility to not only to comply with the requirements of the regulators but also to offer the client the highest possible level of security


Experience in compliance Meeting all the regulatory requirements of its market is the most important requirement for a KYC process. Make sure your provider is an expert with the regulatory requirements of your industry and the country/countries in which you operate.


AI-based technology, supported by human instinct Many ID verification solutions claim to use AI, but you should take a look under the hood. What is actually powered by AI? How much effort is put into training the AI and keeping it up to date? What level of data accuracy will the service provide?

WHO WE ARE IDnow’s solutions guarantee legal security and the highest level of data security. In the area of video identification of customers and electronic signatures, we were the first to provide the market with a legally secure solution without additional hardware. AutoIdent provides robust fraud prevention in conjunction with unparalleled conversion rates and comprehensive compliance. Our hybrid identity verification solution combines the best of humans and machines.

Highly developed technology is important, but sometimes, when it comes to fraud, human instinct is demanded also. Make sure that the ID verification solution you’re interested in offers a human review process in unclear cases.


Highest level of security checks A thorough security feature check is the basis of fraud prevention, but fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated. A biometric check could be tricked with a photo but, in combination with a second step, it provides real security. The second step, the liveness check, proves that there is a real person in front of the camera. Another major measure in fraud defence is psychological security questioning. When it comes to social engineering, a technical solution on its own is powerless. Fraudsters are so quick in developing new methods that it’s nearly impossible to build a technology that is able to stay ahead. An efficient way to detect this kind of fraud is to add psychological questions.


Trend spotting and fraud data network Staying up to date requires a lot of insight and information. Check the availability of a fraud prevention team, a fraud data network and special fraud trend-spotting services with your provider.

AT A GLANCE IDnow recently raised a $40million growth equity investment from Corsair Capital LLC, one of the longest standing private equity firms focussed on the financial and business services industries. IDnow is expanding its market presence in the UK, with the opening of an office in London’s business and finance quarter, Canary Wharf, establishing a strategic location for future expansion. Customers already operating in the UK welcome this step, as they benefit directly from the new location.


Identity verification


Andreas Bodczek, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: Munich, Germany ACTIVE IN: EMEA CONTACT: +49 89 4132 4600 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/idnow/ TWITTER: @IDnowGmbH

WHAT WE DO The identity verification platform for the now economy




DRIVING SOUTHEAST ASIA FORWARD Super app Grab has moved far beyond its ride-hailing roots to bring simplified financial services to the unbanked and underbanked Since launching in 2012, Grab has moved from strength to strength with more than 166 million app downloads and a network of nine million micro-entrepreneurs. This super app platform now represents the largest and most relevant ecosystem in the region, partnering with more than 600,000 online and offline merchants. It extends across transport, mobile payments, financial services and the delivery of food, packages and groceries for millions of people in Southeast Asia. Grab is now turning its attention to building out its financial services offering even further, so that no one misses out on the benefits of the region’s current economic transformation. In a region where cash has long been king, the days of pulling out notes and coins are becoming numbered, as more people are making payments by swiping or tapping on their mobile phones. According to a joint report from Google, Temasek


and Bain, the adoption of digital payments in Southeast Asia has reached an inflection point and is expected to cross $1trillion by 2025, accounting for almost one in every two dollars spent in the region. With digital payments becoming the new norm, Grab has quickly cemented itself as the preferred ewallet. Grab’s strategic partnership with Ovo in Indonesia has created the most widely accepted payments ecosystem and the market leader by total payments volume.

THE OPPORTUNITY IN FINTECH The successful adoption and growing cross-vertical usage of GrabPay made it the perfect launchpad for Grab to establish itself as the largest fintech player in Southeast Asia. It now has a comprehensive offering that includes payments, in-app rewards and financial services like lending, insurance, and remittance. Reuben Lai, Senior Managing Director of Grab Financial Group, says that financial services is the natural

next step in the company’s journey to empower and enable stakeholders across the eight countries (and 339 cities) it currently serves. “Our focus has always been on solving the big problems in the region. Similar to Grab’s objective in transport, where traffic congestion and safety were issues, introducing financial services through our app has allowed us to reach millions of people whose needs were not being met by the incumbent banks. It has allowed our merchants, driver-partners and, eventually, passengers to have greater access to credit, enabling them to grow their micro-businesses and realise their economic potential.” SMEs are an important target of Grab’s offering. According to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), SMEs employ between 52 per cent and 97 per cent of the total workforce and comprise between 89 per cent and 99 per cent of all companies in ASEAN, making them a critical pillar in the region’s continued economic growth. This is why Grab currently offers loans to SMEs in Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines through GrabFinance to help small

businesses gain access to working capital and support their expansion needs. This segment is traditionally underserved by banks, given the small size of the loans requested and the lack of data. As such, GrabFinance serves the SME segment by making it simple for small businesses to apply for and get access to loans. To paint a picture of how a small business can grow on Grab, take the example of Eric Goh’s Japanese fusion restaurant Unagi versus Salmon in Singapore. In January 2019, Eric joined GrabFood and, in April, he took a credit line for purchase financing through GrabFinance to pay suppliers on time. In just over six months, revenues had increased by 20-30 per cent, attributed to productivity gains brought on by digital payments and automation in the procurement process funded by Grab’s loan. Eric’s example shows that traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses can ride the waves of accessible fintech to achieve rapid growth. For many SMEs, mobile-based financial services provide the first point of access for any lending and financial management solutions.

Grab’s work in the region is already driving positive results, with more than nine million micro-entrepreneurs – one out of every 70 people in Southeast Asia – having earned an income through the Grab platform. According to the company’s first Social Impact Report, more than 20 per cent of Grab drivers did not work prior


The adoption of digital payments in Southeast Asia has reached an inflection point… accounting for almost one in every two dollars spent in the region to joining Grab and 1.7 million people opened their first bank accounts through the platform. Grab Financial Group services will allow it to grow its impact further.

LOOKING AHEAD According to a recent report from Bain & Company, more than seven out of 10

WHO WE ARE At Grab Financial Group we believe everyone should be given equal opportunity to dream big and realise their goals. So, we’re working towards improving access to financial services across payments, rewards, lending and insurance to enrich the lives of 100 million people in Southeast Asia. ■ GrabPay is a mobile wallet and seamless point of sale system that allows customers to pay merchants through the Grab app using a QR code. Customers are rewarded with loyalty points, driving footfall and providing merchants with direct marketing opportunities. There are no fixed costs and all transactions are recorded in real time in the merchant app ■ GrabFinance is a financial empowerment programme that provides drivers, merchants and enterprises with greater

adults in Southeast Asia are either underbanked, with no access to credit cards or long-term savings products, or unbanked, without access to a basic bank account. Lai indicates that there is still more to be done to make financial services more accessible for this segment. “In the past two years, we have launched and scaled financial services such as emoney, lending and insurance distribution into Southeast Asia’s largest fintech ecosystem. At Grab Financial Group we want to bring cashless convenience and the ease of digital distribution of financial services to the masses. “ASEAN is on track to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050, but 50 per cent of the population does not even have a bank account. Our core mission at Grab is to empower individuals and entrepreneurs within our ecosystem to elevate their quality of life,” says Lai. “We see financial inclusion as the key to truly realising the potential in the ASEAN region.”

AT A GLANCE access to a suite of financial services, including fast, easy and personalised loans and merchant credit lines. It provides micro-lending services to millions of unbanked consumers and micro-entrepreneurs ■ GrabInsure provides micro-insurance products for driver partners to protect their vehicles and livelihoods ■ GrabRewards is an extended reward scheme that allows consumers to earn GrabRewards points at more than 53 million places worldwide and online with the GrabPay Card Grab Financial Group is part of the Grab super app family of services, which also include ride-hailing, food, package and grocery deliveries for millions of Southeast Asians. In the 12-month period to March 2019, Grab contributed US$5.8 billion to Southeast Asia’s economy.


Financial Group

FOUNDED: 2018 CATEGORY: App-based financial services KEY PERSONNEL: Reuben Lai, Senior MD (right) HEAD OFFICE: Singapore ACTIVE IN: ASEAN CONTACT: 6581677101 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/grabapp/ TWITTER: @GrabSG

WHAT WE DO Empower your dreams THEFINTECHPOWER50


HOW TO USE OPEN DATA TO CREATE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE CEO Ed Maslaveckas discusses Bud’s mission to help leading FIs use open data to create a competitive advantage Bud was founded in 2015 to help customers use their own financial data to make important life decisions. We believed then, as we do now, that customers should be able engage with this wherever they feel most comfortable, that no single institution can offer all services to a customer, and that a competitive market was/is the best way of delivering the right outcomes for customers. The obvious solution is in some kind of marketplace, but to get there we have to build intelligence on top of people’s transaction data so that service providers can get to know their customers better.

THE MARKET TODAY Access to financial data through aggregators is increasingly affordable


and reliable for all players in the market, with platforms emerging from challengers and technology giants alike. The demand side potential of these platforms is growing. A million people are now connected to the open banking ecosystem and the volume of traffic on the network doubled between November and December last year. On the supply side, 76 per cent of fintechs we are tracking have accessible application programme interfaces (APIs) and 30 per cent already have full read, write, create, fulfil and transact APIs. Pretty much anything that a customer would want to do with their finances is available via API – so the potential product catalogue either is, or will be soon be, extensive. The job to be done is in the middle, the matchmaker: using the data available to find the right service for the right customer and helping the customer onboard to that service without ruining their day. This means not just being able to understand data from different systems, but also understanding what it means in the context of customers’ lives. It’s only when you have this that you can begin to see

what type of services might be relevant and which individual products are suited best to a customer. If the customer decides they like a product and it can have a meaningful impact on them, then the competitive opportunity is in using the pre-existing data to make that process seamless. At the end of 2019 we asked 2,000 people a series of questions about how they wanted to manage their money. They came back with nine clear categories for the features they wanted to see from their primary financial provider (normally, their current account bank) and they made it very clear how they wanted to interact with those features. The results are a cheat sheet for 2020 – if you’re thinking about what to go after first, then the answers are simple. In the first half of the year, you can do two things: make moving money around within a customer’s own accounts (regardless of provider) easy, then work on the loyalty penalty sectors – help customers to identify when they’re on a poor deal and switch provider easily, then work on connecting them to relevant rewards schemes. Towards the end of the year, when the more nuanced elements of payment initiation




Digital ID







Moving/Transferring money 10% Rent recognition










18% 45%

17% 11% 12% 12%





40% 42%

17% 15%

22% 13%

19% 14%

40% 37%

12% 14%

17% 14% 14% 16% 22% 18% 26%

Would consider switching banks to use this feature Would consider using a standalone app for this Would use if available on my bank’s online/mobile app Don’t know Would not use Source: YouGov survey of 2,000 UK adults, Feb 2020. Respondents were presented with a series of 21 potential use cases for open banking and asked how they would choose to engage with them. Graph shows use cases broken down by key functional aspects.

service providers (PISPs) are in a more viable state, get going on sweeping. This isn’t some vision of an idealistic but unlikely future – it’s a plan for here and now. The technology to do it already exists. Over the last few years, there have been great advances in the systems that define and govern our financial products. Much is being

WHO WE ARE Bud is the AI platform for personal finance. Our APIs provide banks and other financial companies with the intelligence and fulfilment capabilities they need in order to create meaningful new features for their customers. The platform provides access to financial data through open banking, understanding of the data through the industry’s most intelligent enrichment layer, and the capacity to act on that insight using a catalogue of fintech products that are available to distribute through APIs. Whether the platform is set to tackling the loyalty penalty by enabling our bank clients to build auto-switching services for people who are overpaying on utility bills, or helping people with thin credit files to get fair access to credit by sharing their history of making rent payments with credit reference agencies, we are driven by a mission to make managing money simpler, wherever and however people want to do it. Under a single contract, Bud provides open banking access, data intelligence

done to make financial products cheaper, more reliable to serve and more flexible for the customers that use them. Much of this progress is coming from organisations that know how to differentiate between the layers of their product offering. On the baseline, the ‘product layer’, there are new services being built by B2B and the capability to distribute third-party products in context and within our clients’ apps. We distribute the platform through large institutions for two reasons. Firstly, that is where the people are. Challenger banks have done an amazing job of raising customer expectations when it comes to UX but are having less impact on making people switch their primary bank accounts. More than 80 per cent of people in the UK still bank with one of five banks. Our platform is for them. Secondly, the primary bank app that is overwhelmingly wanted by customers is a place to manage their financial admin. We believe that the best financial management tools should be available to people wherever they want to manage their money. For the vast majority of people, that is their bank. 2020 is shaping up to be a busy year for us. So far, we’ve appointed Lord Fink, the former CEO of Man Group, to our board as its chairman. We’ve announced a global deal with HSBC that will see our aggregation and data intelligence tech made available across the world and outlines our first in-app deployment

providers such as Thought Machine and being married up with applications on the top layer, the engagement layer, by banks who can leverage their balance sheet and trusted brand to keep customers loyal or attract new customers. Monzo, on the other hand, is a great example of a bank that went the other way – first it built a very thoughtful engagement layer that got jobs done for customers and later built its own bank around it. Improvements to both the product and the engagement and product layers are great for customers but even these examples don’t solve the essential dumbness of the system as a whole because without context, it’s impossible to act in a customer’s best interest. We started Bud because we believed that we, as customers, deserved a layer of intelligence. Delivering this is the challenge for all of us in 2020: build some understanding and help people do the things they want to. with a major bank. We’ve released the biggest update yet to our platform, more than doubling the scope of our enrichment options and increasing our aggregation coverage by around 70 per cent. That’s all happened in the last few weeks and our plans for the year are only just getting started!

AT A GLANCE COMPANY: Bud FOUNDED: 2015 CATEGORY: Open Banking and data intelligence KEY PERSONNEL: Ed Maslaveckas, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: UK, Europe, Australia CONTACT: +44 (0)7841 536660 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: bud-financial TWITTER: @this_is_buda

WHAT WE DO The AI for personal finance THEFINTECHPOWER50



BUSINESS BANKING IN 2020 AND BEYOND Traditional banking is crying out for a revolution. In a world where consumer services – from transport to ordering food – are delivered on-demand, digitally and instantly, we now expect the same from our financial institutions. But while the past few years have seen a surge in consumer-focussed banking innovations, spurred by the likes of Monzo, Revolut and Starling, innovation for business customers has lagged behind. Back in 2018, 85 per cent of banks cited digital transformation as a business priority, but fast-forward to 2020 and the needs of modern businesses are still not being met. Regulation remains a hurdle, and services continue to work for the


few rather than the many. As a result, many businesses, and sometimes entire industries are underserved by traditional banks. In the decade that lies ahead, traditional business banking services will be reinvented to become more modern, agile and reflective of today’s open banking-led era.

with ever greater scrutiny – especially if they belong to particular market segments. Some businesses – sometimes entire industries, such as foreign exchanges or payment service providers – despite experiencing considerable growth, have been deemed too risky by banks and therefore remain underserved.


Running to stand still On the plus side, digital transformation efforts are underway, but it’s becoming clear that these aren’t happening fast enough or being focussed in the right places. Incumbent banks have made huge strides towards innovation but, at today’s rate of change, this only has left them standing still. In the business banking world, onboarding processes remain

High risk is also high growth The last 10 years have seen waves of regulation, pushing many incumbent banks to de-risk their business. In many cases, this ‘due diligence’ has been stretched to its extreme as banks prospect and sense-check new customers

O P E N PAY D cumbersome, user experiences aren’t intuitive and outdated money movement practices simply aren’t up-to-scratch with emerging business models and needs. 2007 services for 2020 customers While other verticals have stormed ahead in transforming customer journeys, traditional banks continue to provide the services they’ve always known their business customers require. But it’s 2020 – commerce is increasingly crossborder, operating in multiple currencies, with multiple counterparties that need to be accounted for. At the same time, a burgeoning startup and innovation community is presenting new business models with entirely new requirements that we couldn’t have anticipated. Overlaying 2007 solutions with a new ‘digital’ front end simply won’t cut it.


we expect a banking system built on legacy infrastructure to cope with the cashflow, risk, operational resilience and foreign exchange requirements of a business with these ambitions? In 2020, businesses won’t settle for anything less than the convenient, high-value and intuitive services they use in their lives as consumers. Pretty soon, traditional business banking players will cater to these demands by offering the agile services that we’ve never before associated them with. With applications for emoney licences also continuing to grow, we’ll continue to see payments and banking solutions come from businesses we never expected. Regulation is presenting the industry with a huge challenge, but an even bigger opportunity. From the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and the fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) to the General Data Protection Regulation GDPR) and the second Emoney Directive (2EMD), the frameworks for a more open, collaborative future in banking are now being built. The market just needs to deliver on it.

Incumbent banks have made huge strides towards innovation but, at today’s rate of change, this only has left them standing still

A NEW BANKING ETHOS Digital transformation efforts and innovation initiatives have increased but, so far, these have largely focussed on the superficial and hasn’t created the value for business customers that the industry needs to deliver on. That’s not to say that established banking players can’t evolve. But reincarnation is needed, rather than transformation. Banking as we’ve known it will be wholly disrupted but the incumbents have the track records, heritages and experience that make them ideally placed to help build a new banking ethos. The ‘winners’ in 2020 and beyond won’t be those that seek to ‘own’ the most customers, but those that recognise change is imperative and that progress can’t be achieved alone. Modern businesses are evolving in ways that we couldn’t have predicted. Take Amazon, for example – a business that started out as an online bookstore and is now a multi-billion-dollar ecommerce platform, cloud computing and digital streaming provider. How can

FUELLING THE FINANCE OF THE FUTURE Banks looking to digital transformation as their saviour who are only focussing on front end services will quickly find they haven’t gone far enough to ensure they’re creating the services of the future. In this world, connecting with API-enabled platforms to collaborate with banks and fintechs alike will be vital to building smoother experiences and access to better business services. These could be offered by anyone from a payment provider to a marketplace business. Modern businesses will require modern banking solutions and, ultimately, it’s these collaborations across adjacent industries that will change finance and fuel commerce. As innovations in consumer banking continue to grow at pace, the inadequacies of business banking solutions will only become more evident. For banks, this will mean taking a close look at not only how they are innovating, but also who they are innovating with. For businesses, it may mean expanding their search beyond the typical banking solutions they would expect, and looking to more innovative providers that understand their core needs and can help future-proof their business.



OpenPayd provides a single integration API access to multiple banking and payment solutions. We simplify the way enterprise businesses can collect, convert and settle funds globally.


Our innovative platform combines multi-currency accounts, FX conversion, card processing with access to local and international payment networks, underpinned by a network of global licences. The platform enables businesses to scale their international payment flows, simplify treasury and generate extra revenue by combining all of their banking and payments needs.

FOUNDED: 2018 CATEGORY: Banking and payments platform KEY PERSONNEL: Iana Dimitrova, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: UK, EEA and USA CONTACT: +44 (0) 20 3745 6304 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/openpayd/ TWITTER: @OpenPayd



Data-driven tech is embedded in every facet of modern life. Through their concierge-type services, platforms such as Netflix, Uber, Amazon and Google shape how consumers digitally interact with the world around them. These companies have set high benchmarks for consumer expectations of personalisation and predictive recommendations – benchmarks that customers also want to see from their financial institution. Although large financial institutions are plagued by legacy data and infrastructure systems – systems that don’t constrain the challenger banks and fintechs against whom they are fighting for market share – incumbents can avoid disruption against competitive threats. Through the use of platforms such as

Through contextual insights that enrich consumers’ daily lives, the era of search is over: Flybits is unlocking the power of data Flybits, traditional banks are able to transform the range and richness of the services they offer consumers. A focus on innovation in the areas of lifestyle banking, artificially intelligent (AI)-driven smart offers, and contextually aware financial insights are where banks should be directing their efforts. However, if they approach this without a solid foundation of data, their efforts will come up short. Aggregating disparate sources of

proprietary and public data into an ecosystem is essential for successful AI and personalisation strategies. The Flybits platform eases this process for banks and also gives them access to contextual data that enriches their views of the customer, allowing them to orchestrate and deliver highly relevant content, offers, products, and services that match what consumers need in the moment. With its light-touch integration into existing tech stacks and end-to-end solution, Flybits’ ability to assemble siloed data also allows financial institutions to leverage the platform across multiple lines of business with a rapid speed to market. This agility, scalability, and flexibility enables banks to build bespoke customer experiences, tailored to clients’ needs with realtime insights.



By leveraging a technology that has been proven on a global scale, banks can avoid the trap of in-house builds, which often result in inflexible and unscalable platforms that exceed timelines and budgets. Flybits gives banks the tools to focus on building customer experiences for any business objective without having to worry about the underlying IT complexity. Being empowered to directly engage with customers with the right offer at the optimal time and place ensures banks can increase loyalty and deliver positive ROI.


A focus on innovation in the areas of lifestyle banking, AI-driven smart offers and contextually aware financial insights are where banks should be directing their efforts

HOW TD BANK USES CONTEXTUALISED DATA TD Bank (a top 10 US bank) is an example of how successful this type of partnership can be. TD recognised the unique position it was in as a trusted partner of its consumers and saw an opportunity to become a go-to source for value-added services that would positively impact its customers’ lives. In partnering with Flybits, TD developed the TD For Me digital concierge, which leverages contextual intelligence to offer customers predictive, personalised experiences that make their lives easier.

For example, TD can connect a customer with a mobile mortgage specialist when they are at a condo sales centre and don’t already have a mortgage with the bank. Moreover, it can surprise its customers with an offer based on their proximity to a shop

WHO WE ARE Founded in 2013, Flybits originated from the PhD research of CEO Dr Hossein Rahnama, which focussed on contextual awareness and ubiquitous computing. He envisioned how the application of context could bridge physical and digital experiences for consumers. The Flybits platform combines contextually aware computing and machine learning technologies to enable financial institutions to better engage their customers. In essence, delivering the right experience to the right customer at the right time. 2019 was a milestone year for Flybits as it raised $35million in a Series C round led by Point 72 Ventures, with participation from Mastercard, Citi Ventures and Reinventure, along with existing partners Portag3 Ventures, TD

F LY B I T S they frequent, or identify that a customer is travelling and provide suggestions and discounts on local attractions or popular restaurants. Providing customers with the experiences they need in the moment they need it has allowed TD to stay ahead of the curve on customer expectations. This has kept the TD mobile app #1 in customer engagement among retail banking apps in Canada, according to Silicon Valley-based market data firm, App Annie. Technological innovation is the banking battleground of the present and near future. Consumers want new and better services more specifically tailored to their needs and goals. In order to provide this, banks must explore the new possibilities offered by fintech innovation. Daunting as it may seem, making this technological shift doesn’t necessitate a full-scale infrastructure revamp. Rather, it requires careful consideration of the fintech partnerships that are made in the process. Specifically, solutions that can work with your organisation by plugging directly into your bank’s existing infrastructure ensure a quicker time to market, allowing you to provide better customer experiences and see improved ROI sooner.

AT A GLANCE Bank Group and Information Venture Partners. With offices in Toronto, New York, London, Dubai, and Redwood City, Flybits is primed to make a global impact in supporting the digital transformation and personalisation strategies of financial institutions. Moving into 2020, Flybits is enhancing its solution by building a marketplace that will allow banks, fintechs, telecommunications firms, retailers, grocers, and other organisations to collaborate on the creation and delivery of cohesive customer experiences, all while adhering to the strictest standards of consumer privacy and protection.


Dr Hossein Rahnama, CEO (right) and Gerti Dervishi, Chief Growth Officer (below) CATEGORY: Digital customer engagement HEAD OFFICE: Toronto ACTIVE IN: US, Canada, EU, LATAM, MENA CONTACT: (EMEA) and (North America) WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/flybits/ TWITTER: @flybits

WHAT WE DO Context as a service THEFINTECHPOWER50




If Libra is a stalking horse for a global digital currency, then we need to get national and international strategies in place now, says David Birch Mark Carney, the current governor of the Bank of England, recently gave a speech at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in which he said that a form of global digital currency could be ‘the answer to the destabilising dominance of the US dollar in today’s global monetary system’. In his speech, Carney went on to talk about the international monetary system using some kind of ‘synthetic hegemonic currency’ (I call this a SyHC, so that I can talk about creating ‘sick’ currencies) instead. That’s not me or some Bitcoin crazy talking, that’s the Guv’nor. A sick currency in the form of virtual currency made from digital cash denominated in a synthetic unit of account sounds a little like Facebook’s much-discussed Libra. While Libra dominates the headlines now, it will undoubtedly be only the first of many attempts to create a global digital currency. It has already had its impact as a catalyst, even if it never launches. Or, at least, never launches in its current form.

AT A GLANCE David Birch is an author and advisor on digital financial services, who has consulted to some of the world’s biggest banks, financial services organisations, telecommunications providers, IT companies and others about the future of electronic transactions of all


While the Libra Association remains firm that the system will go live in 2020, many industry observers are already saying that it may never launch at all, and even the head of it, David Marcus, recently said that they may not use sick currency but stick with boring old fiat dollars, euros, yen and the like. Libra, I tend to think, probably isn’t the future of digital currency. So, let us switch attention to what might well be. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC)

We could see CNY facing off with USD, facing off with Facebucks, facing off with who-knows-what has been looking at digital currency strategy to replace cash for some years. Four years ago, Mark Carney’s equivalent in China, Zhou Xiaochuan, very clearly set out its thinking about digital currency, saying that it ‘is an irresistible trend that paper money will be replaced by new products and new technologies’. He went on to say that, as a legal tender, digital currency kinds. He is a recognised international thought leader in digital identity and digital money, media commentator, and prolific blogger and tweeter. He’s been described as ‘one of a pretty small group of people who write sense about money and identity’. His latest book, The Coming Currency Cold Wars, will be launched at Money20/20 in Amsterdam this June. WEBSITE: TWITTER: @dgwbirch

should be issued by the central bank and, after noting that he thought it would take a decade or so for digital currency to completely replace cash, went on to state clearly that he had plans to ‘gradually phase out paper money’. What does this mean? Well, a trader in Africa may soon find it more convenient to order goods from a Chinese partner via WeChat and settle via Alipay. And, if they can settle instantly with their Chinese digital currency (or, to be fair, Libra or something similar), then they will soon accept the same in payment. We could see a new war in cyberspace, with CNY facing off with USD, facing off with Facebucks, facing off with who-knows-what. This means that the virtual money debate is no longer about electronic money vs. digital cash, about hash tables vs. smart chips or about proof of work vs. proof of stake. The real and serious implication of replacing the existing payment systems with the new infrastructure based on digital currency is that no clearing and settlement means no transactions going through the international banking system, and no transactions going through the international banking system means that America’s (and the UK’s) ability to deliver soft power through SWIFT disappears. The historian Niall Ferguson stated plainly in The Sunday Times last year that ‘if America is smart, it will wake up and start competing for dominance in digital payments’. Well, I think he’s right. It’s time to take the matter seriously and to develop national and international strategies for digital currency. It’s just too important to leave to the Bitcoiners or the bankers.


FINTECHS TO THE RESCUE! Dr Ruth Wandhöfer on the forces splitting the atoms of financial services and the fusion that can create a new reality It’s official. We can no longer do without fintech. Fintechs have become the enablers for financial institutions to cope with the continued raft of regulatory change, the increasing challenges posed by operational and cybersecurity risks and the awareness that better services and customer experiences will need to be delivered in order to stand a chance in the competition with big techs. Fintech partnerships and fintech solution procurement are on the rise. With infrastructures and back offices as old as 40 years or more, the system is showing significant cracks. Whether it is outages, ransomware attacks or data breaches and theft, the industry was under siege throughout 2019 and that’s continuing. These attacks create significant problems for consumers as sensitive data falls into the hands of fraudsters. Identity theft is on the rise. Already in 2017, Cifas (the UK’s Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System) reported that more than 53 per cent of all recorded frauds related to identity theft. These hacks and breaches are also starting to reveal the interconnectedness and interdependency between financial


institutions and, in the absence of decisive steps to protect data and system integrity, regulatory fines are on the horizon. The regulatory agenda dictates that institutions will have to get their hands around data in order to be able to comply, whether it is managing the Libor switch-over challenge or the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR). However, once institutions are able to understand and structure their data, the possibilities of creating economic value, risk management and improved customer services are endless. Data cleansing and analytics solutions provided by our fintech friends are the way to start digitising your business. If you haven’t started yet, it is high time. The financial crisis was one of the key triggers to the unfolding of re-decentralisation with the emergence of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that operate outside the regulated space of centralised systems. The growing fragility of the financial sector demands a rethink in terms of the structural core itself. Decentralising at a system level can bring more resilience and remove attack vectors – distributed ledgers, for example, can help against cyberattacks. Underlying consensus models also continue to evolve in order to deliver the ability to scale, enabling true efficiency and resiliency gains. From payments and securities to governments, distributed models are part of the digital future and new forms

The growing fragility of the financial sector demands a rethink in terms of the structural core itself

of risk assessments for decentralised finance complete the picture. Furthermore, there is an expectation that every financial instrument will eventually be tokenised and that the underlining financial infrastructures will be interoperable. With this we can imagine a new world where access to investment opportunities can be democratised via fractionalisation of investments, where trading can become more efficient, cheaper and faster and where new types of assets and underlying markets can be created almost overnight. The next few years will deliver new business models and solutions, a rebirth of infrastructures and a large-scale digitisation of value. Exciting times!

AT A GLANCE A Top 10 Global FinTech Influencer, Ruth Wandhöfer is a banking veteran, fintech mentor, crypto aficionado, visiting professor at the London Institute of Banking & Finance, non-executive board member of several organisations, including a FTSE 100 company, and a published author. She is a regular contributor to key conferences, podcasts and other media in relation to financial services and innovation at an international level. WEBSITE: www.digitalbanking LINKEDIN: ruth-wandhöfer-523b22/ TWITTER: @RWandhofer THEFINTECHPOWER50


The changing of BUSINESS BANKING Owners of successful small businesses are often perceived to have master juggling skills. It falls to the owner to manage every aspect of the company, from manufacturing the product or providing the service, to marketing and sales, hiring, fund raising, banking and admin. The latter two are a necessary evil of doing business, and are time drains that do not contribute to the business’s growth. Of the 5.9 million SMEs in the UK, 5.8 million are smaller companies that tend not to have a dedicated finance function. This means a huge number of business owners are doing their company’s banking and admin themselves, and it’s often the case


Small business owners in the UK spend 48 days a year on banking and admin.1 Digital banking platforms, such as Tide, lighten the load and enable business growth, says the platform’s CEO, Oliver Prill that many lose their Sunday afternoons to doing their expenses. The result is not only a drain on time and energy, but a damaging loss of productivity.

This is far from the best use of an entrepreneur’s time, and by doing banking and admin in a technologically unsophisticated way, small businesses are also lacking a clear overview of their cash flow. Not having their cash flow under control is the biggest reason for small businesses failing, rather than any inherent business problem. Real-time visibility of cash flow at all times means you can act on any issues or challenges in a timely manner and not when it’s too late. This is where Tide comes in. Since launching in 2017, Tide has attracted more than 130,000 members and has become the leading business banking platform for SMEs by allowing them to reduce the time they were previously spending on

banking and admin, as well as providing a crucial overview of cash flow. As a platform play, Tide offers current accounts provided by ClearBank and PrePaySolutions (PPS), as well as creating its own products, such as payroll, partnering with other providers, including Xero, Sage and QuickBooks, to create a go-to place for SMEs that want to simplify the management of their company. A platform like Tide provides easy-to-use solutions that free up time for small business owners to focus on what they know best, thereby experiencing better productivity and, in the end, growing their company faster. Tide is passionate about SMEs – it’s the only market we serve. The key products that Tide offers, over and above the necessary payments services, are invoicing, expense management and payroll. Tide also offers a number of credit solutions, including flexible balance, and a solution that’s currently in beta with Iwoca where the user enters three pieces of information, presses a button and within


Not having their cash flow under control is the biggest reason for small businesses failing, rather than any inherent business problem a minute gets a credit decision. Everything is focussed on providing a rich, usable set of tools and features for small businesses. Tide isn’t just about providing SMEs with technology solutions for banking and admin, though. We believe it’s important to go above and beyond and give business owners a reason to come to Tide for more than the product. We are passionate about building a community to provide an additional level of support to small businesses by offering and facilitating advice, guidance and networking. There is a huge amount of skill and knowledge within the Tide member base and so we encourage members, such as marketers, accountants and lawyers, to provide tips

WHO WE ARE Tide is the leading digital provider of UK SME business accounts and one of the fastest growing fintechs in the UK. The company’s mission is to save business owners time (and money) on their banking and admin, so they can get back to doing what they love. Tide offers its members a business current account with seamless connections to tools that help them save time on their banking and admin. These tools allow members to do the following (with much more to come): ■ Register their business ■ Categorise transactions ■ Manage and track expenses ■ Connect to their accounting software ■ Apply for credit in seconds ■ Create, send and chase invoices Signing up to Tide is quick and easy, with very low fees. The recent launch of Tide Plus and Premium paid plans gives access to telephone support, a

TIDE on a wide array of topics, including masterclasses covering marketing, managing growth, funding, PR strategy on a shoestring, and diversity and inclusion. The company is also eager to further causes that members care about. Earlier this year, the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship found that only 32 per cent of UK entrepreneurs are women. In response, Tide has committed to supporting 100,000 new female-led businesses start out by the end of 2023 and will run events showcasing female entrepreneurs, workshops with expert speakers and a mentoring scheme. The UK banking landscape has undergone huge change, as branches continue to close and digital propositions offer better support and services to SMEs. We believe a healthy market is categorised by a multitude of different offerings and providers, and platforms that support SMEs bring them together to save even more time for business owners. This means more tailored and easy-to-use solutions for SMEs. 1 Worldpay research, 2015

AT A GLANCE 24/7 legal helpline and a number of free transfers, to those that need them. The launch of our proprietary credit product, through subsidiary Tide Capital, provides a £1,000 credit line for pre-approved Premium members, and members with multiple businesses also now have the option to have multiple accounts within Tide. While Tide is a mobile-based platform, it has recently introduced a web sign-up functionality so members can sign up on a desktop, too. The high level of connectivity between the Tide current account and fast, efficient admin tools means Tide is solving a real-world problem for business owners. SMEs have been underserved and overlooked by traditional banks for years. In an entrepreneurial age where everyone is expected to take a shot, traditional banks have not evolved with the needs of the market. And that’s where Tide makes a difference.


Business services KEY PERSONNEL:

Oliver Prill, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: UK CONTACT: WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/tide-banking/ TWITTER: @TideBusiness

WHAT WE DO Smart business current accounts THEFINTECHPOWER50



OneConnect has seen spectacular growth in short order in Southeast Asia, underpinned by a successful strategy of co-working with key players OneConnect’s mission is to use technology to make finance easier. It enables financial institutions (FIs) to ride the wave of digital transformation with its 12 technology solutions across the full scope of multiple verticals in the financial services industry, including banking, insurance and asset management – from sales and marketing, risk management, to customer services and operations, as well as technology infrastructure such as data management, programme development, and Cloud services. Within a year of its official opening in Singapore – the regional hub that is responsible for exporting the best of Ping An’s proven and tested technologies – OneConnect has made remarkable progress, inking maiden deals with leading FIs in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Japan and Abu Dhabi.


OneConnect deployed its first lending platform outside of China to UBX, the fintech subsidiary of digital banking leader Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank). Named SeekCap, it was launched by UBX four months after appointing OneConnect to build the smart lending platform. A strong testament of OneConnect’s capabilities, SeekCap today is a true loan marketplace with multiple lenders showcasing their loan products for borrowers to choose what best suits their business needs and apply for loans digitally and seamlessly on a single, end-to-end platform. Loans can be approved on the same day and disbursed within three working days, drastically shortening turnaround time, compared with traditional loan applications in the Philippines. SeekCap’s first customer was Faith Calimlim, Co-owner of TECHNOHOLICS, a premier provider of quality technology

products and services for businesses. She described her seamless experience from browsing to applying and receiving loans on SeekCap. “As an entrepreneur who has a busy schedule, SeekCap allowed me to browse and compare loans on one single platform, anytime, anywhere,” says Calimlim. “I finally applied for a loan package that best suits my business needs and was pleased to receive the loan amount the next day. I plan to use the funds to expand my business.”

A PARTNERSHIP APPROACH OneConnect has cemented a number of partnerships to deliver solutions across Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, it is the choice tech partner of, and has a key strategic relationship with, Sinar Mas Financial Services Group, the financial arm of conglomerate Sinar Mas. It recently announced that it is

ONECONNEC T partnering with Bank Sinarmas, PT. Kredit Biro Indonesia Jaya, the country’s first private credit bureau to provide banks and micro-finance organisations with better lending decisions, and ASPARINDO, an association for retailers in Indonesia, to build a smart lending ecosystem. It is also partnering Asuransi Sinarmas to build a smart auto claims solution, as well as Sinar Mas Multi-finance to build a smart retail lending platform for Indonesians to gain access to loans. In Malaysia, it is joining with one of the country’s top banks to build a SME lending platform. In Thailand, OneConnect already counts three of the top 10 banks among its customers. In Japan, it has formed a joint venture, SBI OneConnect Japan, which will fully leverage SBI Neo Financial Services’ and other SBI companies’ network to introduce OneConnect’s fintech services to FIs and businesses across the country. In Abu Dhabi, OneConnect is building a financial ecosystem with the Abu Dhabi Global Market to spur fintech innovations, collaborations and market opportunities. The first phase of the project saw the joint launch a digital sandbox at Fintech Abu Dhabi in October. The sandbox will use its technology to connect legacy systems of FIs to fintech applications through enabling the creation of APIs, system virtual machines, data and applications in a cost-effective and scalable manner.

WHO WE ARE OneConnect, a leading technology-as-a-service platform for financial institutions, is an associate company of China’s Ping An Insurance Group. Our platform provides Cloud-native technology solutions that integrate extensive financial services industry expertise with market-leading technology. Together they enable our customers’ digital transformations, helping them increase revenue, manage risks, improve efficiency, enhance service quality and reduce costs in multiple verticals, including banking, insurance and asset management.

OneConnect has also had numerous achievements on the non-business front and has received several awards. One of its proudest moments was being named as one of the Fintech Employers of the Year at the Singapore FinTech Awards 2019, an award that recognises its commitment to building a sustainable company with an international culture that values its people.


Innovation never stops at OneConnect. It has an R&D team responsible for researching technologies that best meet the needs of FIs and their customers in Southeast Asia In line with Ping An’s value of embracing diversity, OneConnect employs about 200 people across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Ten nationalities are represented on its multicultural team, which is made up of 73 per cent millennials and 30 per cent women; 45 per cent of the company’s leadership are female. OneConnect recognises the importance of building a talented team and is supportive of job redesign, job expansion and on-the-job training. It has set up the Ping An Academy in Singapore and As of September 30, 2019, we have more than 3,700 clients, the largest number of financial institution customers for a technology-as-a-service platform in China. The company has technology solutions across the full scope of those clients’ businesses – from sales and marketing and risk management to customer services and operations, as well as technology infrastructures such as data management, programme development and Cloud services.

WHAT WE DO Technology makes finance easier

partners with Singapore Institute of Management to conduct fintech certification courses on financial technologies, artificial intelligence and blockchain. This enables students and employees to be equipped with knowledge on the latest technologies and relevant skill sets to meet the changing needs of the digital economy. Innovation never stops at OneConnect. It has a dedicated R&D Team in Singapore that is responsible for researching the latest technologies that best meet the needs of financial institutions and their customers in Southeast Asia. OneConnect and Singapore Management University signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly research and develop a proof of concept on the potential of quantum computing to augment blockchain technology. It also announced a collaboration to build an AI-enabled chatbot for the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) to reduce call volume at call centres, so that human officers can do away with mundane tasks and take on even more meaningful roles or attend to more urgent cases. The chatbot also provides 24/7 access to information and promotes greater awareness of cancer and SCS programmes and services. OneConnect has served more than 3,700 clients, including 618 banks a nd 84 insurance companies, collectively reaching hundreds of millions of end customers.


as a service


Tan Bin Ru, CEO APAC & UAE (right) APAC HEAD OFFICE: Singapore ACTIVE IN: Asia WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/oneconnectft-sg/ TWITTER: @oneconnectft




SETTING LIQUIDITY FREE nanopay is solving a trillion dollar problem for corporations – a problem that many don’t even know they have In the traditional sense, trapped capital refers to funds that are temporarily inaccessible due to inefficient business processes. According to PwC, this issue impacts nearly one third of all working capital. However, nanopay has flipped the traditional definition on its head, focussing on capital trapped by legacy banking infrastructure. Every multinational organisation is significantly impacted by this alternative form of trapped capital. Even more concerning, businesses don’t even know the extent to which it’s affecting them. Corporations can’t see it, and it won’t show up on their balance sheet. In fact, even the banks can’t quantify


how much capital is being trapped by legacy systems, but we estimate it to be in the trillions of dollars globally.

AN INDUSTRY RIPE FOR CHANGE The liquidity management space has long been due for an overhaul, with corporates having relinquished much of their control. This makes corporates reliant on their banking provider to help manage their global operations. The main issues are legacy infrastructure, manual processes, and slow turnaround times, which force both the bank and its corporate clients to spend hundreds of man-hours on payment reconciliation and managing liquidity buffers. nanopay’s Liquid is a cash and liquidity management product that enables real-time, intercompany payments and

real-time visibility through a fully virtualised liquidity management ecosystem. By integrating directly into a bank’s core banking platform, both the bank and its corporate clients can reap the benefits of new-age technology without a costly platform overhaul for the bank. Liquid’s core features include: Virtual account management (VAM) platform: Liquid’s VAM platform is not only dynamic in its feature set, it’s also self-service. This enables corporates to take control of their global account management across all entities, and drastically reduce the number of physical bank accounts they employ. By creating an ideal, virtual account hierarchy, organisations can significantly cut costs and reduce reconciliation efforts.

Real-time payments: nanopay’s Liquid is also capable of real-time, intercompany transactions. This eliminates the need for an intercompany netting solution and enables corporates to reap the benefits of a real-time rail. Corporates can also configure thresholds for 24/7 sweeping, such as zero balance account (ZBA) and target balance account (TBA) mechanisms.

BLOCKCHAIN BUILT FOR LIQUIDITY As Laurence Cooke, Founder and CEO of nanopay Corporation, explains : “We are building something truly unique. Our technology is a differentiator and, as a result, we offer one of the most scalable and secure cash and liquidity management solutions on the planet.” Liquid is built using a hybrid blockchain platform that leverages centralised ledger technology (CLT) to digitise cash. Like a distributed ledger technology (DLT), Liquid’s centralised ledger is tamper proof, transparent and verifiable. Unlike DLT, Liquid enables banks to maintain control of their ledgers. Most importantly, Liquid’s platform is faster and more efficient than DLT, making it a more effective and scalable banking solution.


Corporations can’t see it, and it won’t show up on their balance sheet. Even the banks can’t quantify how much capital is trapped by legacy systems

WHO WE ARE nanopay is a global payments technology company, offering payment and liquidity management products for businesses and banks. We are privately funded, led by the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs. Our technology differentiates us Our platform is built on a next-generation centralised ledger technology (CLT), which is a hybrid blockchain that combines the best features of blockchain and conventional databases. The result is a secure, tamper-resistant, high-performance platform that enables real-time payments and virtual cash and liquidity management. Our game changer is real-time liquidity management Liquid brings the notion of real-time liquidity to life without the need to rebuild legacy banking infrastructure. Liquid can be configured for use as an internal treasury platform, or as a white-label cash management product for a bank’s corporate clients. By integrating with nanopay’s proprietary payments engine, banks can also leverage one of the fastest, most secure systems in the market, enabling real-time visibility of cash holdings, automated 24/7 sweeps and a significant reduction in reconciliation efforts. Our Liquid product allows banks and their clients to use their funds far more efficiently, plan for future investments better and, ultimately, be more strategic with their money so that their shareholders benefit as much as possible. Our focus is on client centricity nanopay is constantly seeking users to gather as much primary research as possible. We also work closely with banks to understand their business, their strengths and weaknesses, and their vision for the nanopay product

moving forward. Doing so has forged stronger customer relationships and an ability to build great products right out of the gate. Our long-term goal is to lead the world’s transition to digital cash In the future, nanopay will power the infrastructure to enable what’s more commonly known as central bank digital currency (CBDC). CBDC will revolutionise access to banking services for those citizens who are currently underserved, or unserved altogether. CBDC can also improve security, reduce fraud, increase seigniorage, and be used as a complement to cash. Our innovative approach is nationally recognised In 2019, nanopay Corporation was named as one of the Canadian Innovation Exchange’s CIX TOP 20 Early startups to join its annual programme. Soon after, it was named Blockchain Company of the Year in the 5th Annual Canadian FinTech & AI Awards.


Corporation FOUNDED: 2013 CATEGORY:

Payment and liquidity management solutions KEY PERSONNEL:

Laurence Cooke, CEO (above) HEAD OFFICE: Toronto, Canada ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +1 416 900 1111 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/nanopay/ TWITTER: @nano_pay

WHAT WE DO Payments reimagined THEFINTECHPOWER50


FINTECH&REGTECH: THE PERFECT COUPLE Verification provider W2 makes the case for a closer alliance between the two techs of transformation

AI-based customer intelligence will be one of the key fintech trends in 2020. And, as more organisations implement it in their analysis process, automation and big data are expected to play even bigger roles. With the goal of optimising the user experience, the fintech-powered neo and challenger banks clearly benefit from automated data gathering and analytics to aid their sales and marketing activities. With competition constantly growing in the fintech space, automation provides a unique opportunity to improve acquisition, conversion and retention rates across the business, informing when clients should be contacted at key decisionmaking points, resulting in higher returns and a much improved return on investment (ROI). Such automated tools not only streamline their workflow but can also


assist in managing and predicting risks. In recent years, the demands of anti-money laundering (AML) obligations have increased, with banks and other financial institutions being required to screen customers to prevent the risk of breaching sanctions or other such regulations, the penalty for not exercising such controls being heavy fines. Conducting a daily screening of customers and transactions against a long and steadily lengthening list, increases the chance of a match or near match that must be investigated; a so-called ‘false positive’. Screening potential new customers, clients and partners in order to protect your organisation from involvement in money laundering, terrorist financing and fraudulent activity as well as restricting access to underage users is therefore a given nowadays. As most of this screening work can often be manual, regulatory technology (regtech) players provide the technology platforms and solutions to dramatically reduce this cost of compliance while looking to simplify the management of it. A regtech partner also brings the much-needed risk intelligence that will help address this challenge and bring

previously siloed customer databases together that will allow the company to achieve a single or central overview of risk. While both fintech and regtech are applied to banking and financial services industries, regtech is often assumed to be a subset of fintech when, in fact, regtech applications are potentially wider and deeper than fintech applications as fintech serves mainly banks and financial institutions while regtech is applicable in many more industries, verticals and sectors. After all, complex regulatory requirements are not unique to banking and financial services. But, nevertheless, there remains much work to be done in compliance. A fintech/regtech union allows neo and challenger bank workers to spend less time doing manual work and more time interpreting real-time data, using those insights to drive new business opportunities. Regtech will become more of a focus this year as companies around the world recognise the benefit of applying technology platforms and solutions to further automate their regulatory compliance. Corporate data breaches, consumer privacy concerns, and a wave of new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-like

W2 regulations in recent years have also created demand for technology platforms and solutions that help enterprises meet such compliance challenges. For the regtech providers that have already moved to a new ‘monolith’-style architecture – where all the services are in one place but still act of their own accord when deployed – their clients’ applications, workflow and customer experience are now all much more manageable. Services can be updated simultaneously, errors caught much faster, customer enrolments done more efficiently and, as mentioned earlier, risk managed more effectively. As the regulatory environment becomes more rigorous and complex, and banks’ existing compliance and data handling processes are found to be inefficient in meeting these new requirements cost-effectively, the regtech players are ideally positioned with their single, simple ‘just one API’ offerings. The market now demands these single, simple APIs that integrate with multiple internal services as well as external APIs to provide data via a single point of query; abstracting complexity with a lightweight interface. APIs facilitate not only the

dissemination of knowledge, insight and actionable intelligence but also the design of other innovative online services. One of the most popular use cases is digital customer onboarding. Depending on the service or product that the customer is signing up for, let alone the regulatory demands that must be applied in each case, the more asks there are, the more steps that means in the process. The frustration borne of such a drawn-out procedure can lead to

A fintech/regtech union allows neo and challenger bank workers to spend less time doing manual work and more time interpreting realtime data to drive new business opportunities customers abandoning the early account set-up stages during the onboarding itself. An API can provide businesses with fast and integrated access to a comprehensive set of data for mandatory know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) compliance checks and a variety of

WHO WE ARE W2 is a UK company offering software solutions to maximise customer acquisition and retention for regulated businesses. Through a single platform, W2 provides access to more than 200 individual services, enabling document verification, credit assessment, adverse media, and eKYC among others, to perform age and identity verification, anti-money laundering and anti-fraud checks. Our unique and proprietary software is infinitely customisable to meet any commercial or risk appetite and enhance the customer experience to maximise customer acquisition. Checks range from data-driven to biometric to behaviour-linked and create a truly

other business-enabling checks such as address, age and biometric validation. Because of such customer intelligence and actionable insight, institutions have a deeper understanding of their users by analysing data gathered via the technology platforms and solutions offered by the regtech providers. Although previously applied to the payments process, straight-through processing (STP) – nee seamless onboarding – is now also being talked about in reference to digital, customer onboarding experiences. The implementation of KYC solutions aimed at simplifying, accelerating and automating the most time-consuming aspects of the onboarding process demonstrates how automated technologies can increase the effectiveness in a plethora of industries. As we look to the future, there’s no doubt that technology will fundamentally improve many parts of the financial industry. While strengthening overall regulatory compliance through innovation, firms must put aside their competitive spirits and work together to build the technology foundation of the future. The fintech/regtech union is the perfect example of this.

AT A GLANCE holistic view of each consumer or entity you are trying to onboard. Workflows are written to ensure complete business continuity and provide data integrity at all touch points. No set-up fees and no commitments mean that we can meet the smallest or largest of budgetary requirements to ensure your compliance regime remains robust and cost effective. Our Cloud-first, platform as a service gives you complete peace of mind for service available and flexibility of configuration, allowing one-off checks all the way through to ongoing monitoring and case management. One platform, one contract, one billing point – keeping your technical, legal and commercial overhead simple.


Verification provider KEY PERSONNEL: Warren Russel, CEO (top right) and Gary Pine, Chief Product & Marketing Officer (right) HEAD OFFICE: Newport, South Wales, UK ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +44 0330 0889542 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/w2globaldata/ TWITTER: @ceo_w2 @w2globaldata

WHAT WE DO Simplifying the complexity of compliance




OPEN BANKING IS THE NEW BLACK With competition from all sides, Georg Lúðvíksson, CEO & Co-founder of Meniga, argues that banks can lead the catwalk in new-look services Data-driven innovation is transforming the banking sector. The EU’s second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), both open up and protect consumer data. Banks must be better than challenger banks, fintech and social media giants at innovating through the use of customer financial data. At the same time, banks must work harder than ever to build trust and a strong value proposition so that customers consent to a data-led relationship. The open banking revolution, sparked by new data laws, forced banks to up their game. Innovative use of customer financial data and select partnership is now key if banks are to survive and prosper.


PSD2 allows consumers to authorise third-party providers to access account and transaction data and authorise payments from their accounts. PSD2 is driving open banking, whereby third-party developers can now build applications and services using open application programme interfaces (APIs). These interfaces enable them to access a customer’s data via the bank’s API. Any regulated party that obtains user consent to access their data, whether that is an established bank or a startup, can begin to provide services, blurring the lines between banks and third-party providers and driving competition in the banking sector.

EMERGING OPPORTUNITIES According to the London-based publishing and intelligence company, Compelo, an estimated 61 million bank accounts remained idle in the UK as consumers did not close their account but switched their main banking activities to challenger banks. As a result, traditional banks are losing valuable consumer spending data, instead just seeing ‘£500 transferred’ to Monzo, Revolut or another challenger. A number of entrants, ranging from fintechs to app developers, are providing standalone personal finance management (PFM) apps, such as Money Dashboard, Yolt, Emma, Mint and YNAB. PFM services have moved beyond simply tracking and categorising spend and

represent an opportunity to offer consumers payment, loan and mortgage services that are a substantial portion of bank’s profits. Banks have met this challenge by releasing their own apps or going into partnership with providers who can help with this. When PwC asked retail banks five years ago ‘which non-traditional entrants to the retail banking industry will be your company’s biggest competition in the years to 2020?’, more than half (53 per cent) of retail bank respondents said that ‘payment players’ such as PayPal, Alipay, Apple Pay, Square, Ripple, WorldPay, Visa and Faster Payments represented the greatest threat to their business. Neobanks (Starling, N26, Fidor, FiveDegrees, Monzo), technology disruptors (Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Microsoft, Apple) and peer-to-peer lenders were viewed very similarly, each cited as a threat by 28 per cent or 29 per cent of respondents. New financial ecosystems continue to emerge. The partnership between Apple and Goldman Sachs to provide Apple Card, a consumer credit card, has created an entirely new ‘found money’ ecosystem, based on open banking.

When the consumer uses the card to make a payment, they receive a percentage cashback that goes straight on to their Apple Pay card. Apple receives cashback from the merchant, which is passed to the card holder. What is new is that Apple also

Forward-thinking banks can use the emergence of open banking as an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships earns income from the ‘interchange’, the part of the merchant fee that the card issuer, Goldman Sachs, collects from the merchant. However, when the consumer uses the card to buy Apple products (or products sold by partner merchants), Apple pays no interchange fee, saving two per cent. This way, it can make it very attractive for consumers using the card to buy its own products by offering discount incentives. This is a global playing field. Challengers from Asia – Tencent, Alibaba and WeChat – are gaining increasing traction in Europe as Chinese tourists demand these forms of payments abroad. Meanwhile, Monzo,

WHO WE ARE Meniga is a global leader in white-label digital banking solutions. Its award-winning products enable financial institutions worldwide to utilise the power of data to drive customer engagement and develop new business models, enriching the customer experience of more than 65 million digital banking users across 30 countries. Meniga has developed a framework for next-generation digital banking around advanced data consolidation and enrichment. It helps banks harvest their data from various data points and legacy systems, bringing it together in a single repository. The engine then enriches the data with more information from third-party sources, such as merchant directories. Finally, it categorises the data

Revolut and lately N26 have their sights set on the US market.

SEEING THE OPPORTUNITY IN OPEN BANKING All this represents real opportunities for the banking sector. Banks are well-positioned to compete, armed with a long-established customer base, trust and a banking licence, all of which put them ahead of new entrants on the starting grid. In fact, forward-thinking banks can use the emergence of open banking as an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships. Capgemini research found that 67 per cent of consumers trust their bank to look after their data – a level of trust higher than any other sector. But banks must continue to build trust – 48 per cent of retail banking customers stated that security is their biggest concern with open banking. Open banking will be won and lost in the field of data-driven intelligence. The end goal is to own the customer interaction, be that with the bank’s own products or through the bank’s fintech partner – with the bank remaining the main brand and interaction point.

AT A GLANCE and uses it to create a personalised customer experience that delivers increased and higher quality engagement and new revenue streams through proactive insights, advice, fun facts, product recommendations, and cashback rewards. Meniga’s portfolio of products includes personal finance management, automated real-time notifications, predictive analytics and personalised engagement technologies, cashback loyalty programmes and consumer analytics. Recent successful demonstrations of this approach include Crédito Agricola’s new Moey personal financial management app. Originally founded in Reykjavik, Meniga is honoured to be included among Fintech Baltic’s recent list of Top 9 Hottest Fintechs from the Nordics.


banking solutions KEY PERSONNEL: Georg Lúðvíksson, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, Africa CONTACT: +354 6936247 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/meniga/ TWITTER: @meniga

WHAT WE DO Helping people lead better financial lives THEFINTECHPOWER50



Todd Clyde, CEO of Token, gives his long-term view on the evolution of API-driven financial services Here’s an unpopular opinion in the open banking community: cash isn’t going away any time soon. There are plenty of consumers who will be reluctant to go completely digital for the next 15 years. Maybe longer. Open banking and digital money, however, are already very much here. So, the real question is: what will ignite consumer adoption – and when?

ONE YEAR FROM NOW Almost all European banks now have a sandbox and/or application programme interface (API) available. Fragmentation caused by the use of different open banking standards, and even different interpretations of the same standards, however, is still creating integration issues. This is slowing the growth of the market. Over the next 12 months, those few high street banks that still view open banking as a compliance chore will come around, as their peers bring new revenue-generating use cases to

market. This will create increased interest from financial institutions in premium APIs that enable greater functionality beyond compliance and for which banks can charge a fee. One opportunity is a variable, recurring payments service. Customers commit to a series of payments taken, say, weekly or monthly, where the amounts scale according to the customer’s consumption of a product or service. This type of payments facility has the potential to transform a variety of increasingly popular subscription-based industries (media, for example) to enable a true micropay-as-you-go mode of operation. Even now, at this late stage in the compliance debate, few banks realise that they can create premium data packages and offers and charge both service providers and other banks for access. We will also see third-party providers (TPPs) develop more effective personal financial management (PFM) applications that allow for actionable aggregation – i.e. the ability to move money between accounts at different financial institutions as well as view them within one app. This combination of data and payments to enable actionable PFM will drive a dramatic increase in the use of open banking services, regardless of whether or not they are labelled as

such. Sure, there may be an initial consumer reluctance to share personal data with TPPs, but this will fade as the benefits become clearer. Beyond account aggregation, we can then expect TPPs to produce better, deeper and more consistent data capture and analysis by consolidating data from banks and merchants to provide better visibility of financial health and spending habits. Merchants will also play a bigger role. By enabling a better understanding of their customers’ spending habits, open banking offers the chance for merchants to go deep on personalisation, designing loyalty schemes and other value-added services that are more relevant and targeted than ever before. It also lets them make their payment experiences as frictionless as they want, all the way down to a single click ecommerce checkout – and cut the cost of payment acceptance in the process. In the very short term, we will see an explosion in open banking globally, with many more regions mandating adoption. Action is already being taken in Brazil, Canada, Mexico and across the MENA region. In Bahrain, for example, most banks are trialling services, after the central bank’s first licensed open banking integrator selected Token to provide the underlying infrastructure for a national standard. The UAE isn’t far behind.




FIVE YEARS FROM NOW Say hello to a banking system powered by APIs. The use of premium APIs will be standard practice, preventing bank customer attrition through the provision of value-added services. ‘Bank direct’ or ‘account-to-account’ payments will give merchants more freedom to reduce friction in their customer experiences and more control over their cost of acceptance. By 2024, the payment processing industry will have evolved, and acquirers and card schemes as we know them today will have adapted their business models to embrace open banking. We should also expect to see identity-based commerce become the norm for consumers, streamlining processes across industries, from property to the public sector and beyond. Payments will continue its steady shift away from paper and plastic tokens (i.e. cards and cash) to digital ones. The adoption of digital currencies will have increased, with a mixture being used by most consumers and enterprises. This

growth in popularity of non-traditional payments will lead to changes in what we perceive as currency, particularly as functionality increases. A key development here will be the increased use of smart tokens. The combination of smart tokens’ flexibility and functionality will enable the proliferation of ‘smart contracts’, which allow secure and trackable transactions.

The demise of off-the-shelf banking products may well take place around the 10-year mark 10 YEARS FROM NOW Open banking is most likely to be the de-facto approach, with 100 per cent adoption by financial institutions. As such, regulators will no longer need to mandate the use of APIs and ‘open banking’ terminology will disappear as it won’t be necessary – all banking will be open and seamlessly interoperable.

WHO WE ARE Token takes a two-sided approach to open banking, connecting third-party providers (TPPs) and businesses to banks, and helping banks to connect to the market, providing each side with a single interface with superior functionality. Token offers full coverage of banks in the UK and Ireland, Poland, Italy, Benelux, the Nordics, France, Germany and Austria. It is authorised as an account information service provider (AISP) and payment initiation service provider (PISP) by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and has passporting rights in an additional 20 countries. It was the first licensed PISP to conduct an end-to-end payment through one of the UK’s CMA9 banks’ APIs in 2018. By offering value-added payments functionality together with standardised, API-based access to more than 3,000 banks, Token helps banks and businesses to drive new revenues through the creation and

Bank payments will have made serious inroads on credit and debit cards, and digital money will, in many cases, be used where cash is today. Payments will be more convenient, more secure, and cost even less to process – especially across borders. Neither cards nor cash will have disappeared entirely, however. Consumer adoption will take longer to catch up with the tech. The demise of off-the-shelf banking products may well take place around the 10-year mark, as improvements in banks’ customer data capture will have enabled full commercial roll-out of completely personalised financial products. It isn’t just new payment channels that are being developed, though this will be the catalyst for more fundamental change. Once the industry has mastered open banking payments, we will start to see more ambitious use cases, including ones that have not even been thought of yet. A whole new value chain is emerging, and the market will favour those with the vision to embrace it.

AT A GLANCE delivery of market-leading open banking payment and data experiences. It has created a ready-made marketplace for open banking connectivity in which all players can interoperate and develop premium, commercial open banking propositions that create new value-added customer experiences and open the door to new revenues. Developer-friendly from the ground up, Token offers a complete developer toolkit, including a single integration for both data and payments. It won the Open Banking category in the 2018 London Institute of Banking & Finance Financial Innovation Awards. The team was also named Best Payments Newcomer in the 2019 Card and Payments Awards, FinTech Startup of the Year in the 2019 FSTech Awards, and won Payments Start-up and Open Banking Initiative of the Year in the 2019 Payments Awards.


Open banking infrastructure provider KEY PERSONNEL:

Todd Clyde, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: San Francisco ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +44 (0)20 3934 6664 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/token-inc-/ TWITTER: @token_io

WHAT WE DO Enhanced open banking payment and data experiences THEFINTECHPOWER50


S A LT E D G E Drones in the sky, self-driving cars on the roads, biohacking, big data, and 3D printing – the world is changing drastically with every passing day and the financial industry is no exception. Yes, it is a bit slow on the draw, thanks to regulations, traditions, and giant corporations, but change comes even to this conservative sector. And this change has a nice name with a taste of transparency and inclusivity to it – open banking. In Europe, open banking becomes a new reality under the flag of PSD2, the revised Payment Services Directive, which regulates what banks and other financial institutions should do to help transform the industry for everyone’s advantage. Let’s be honest: not every player is happy about the inevitable change, because it means implementation of new ideas and market competition for customers’ attention. However, while for some companies open banking is viewed as a compliance burden, others see it as the next logical step of their evolution – digitalisation and innovation of the business. Riding the wave of open banking instead of rejecting the new reality will give any company a competitive edge at this stage of economy, an age where innovative

ideas and services matter more than ever in the process of getting customers through the door. Salt Edge develops fintech solutions that help financial institutions fulfil this exact mission – implementing new services for end customers that will be key to increasing trust and boosting conversions. It all comes down to the giants, the pillars on which the financial industry was built. We are talking about banks, of course. According to the PSD2 requirements, banks need to build channels for third-party providers’ (TPPs) access to end customers’ payment accounts for account information and payment initiation purposes, based on their consent. Building PSD2 channels takes a lot of resources when done in-house. Thus, many banks prefer to work with an experienced technical service provider, such as Salt Edge, trusting it with developing a PSD2 compliance solution that covers every aspect of the regulation. We help banks make their business ideas real, eventually creating a new and thriving branch of this business. Becoming PSD2 compliant is the foundation, but the next step is to try and go a bit further: any bank can turn into a

TPP itself by adding in to its mobile banking app the option to connect all customers’ accounts held in other financial institutions. This way it becomes customers’ bank of choice, being one platform with multiple services. And Salt Edge is there with a data aggregation solution that can provide 360-degree access to customer financial data from more than 4,000 financial service providers in more than 70 countries. So, you see, joining the open banking movement is much more lucrative than resisting it, because these useful-for-customers services will bring revenue from new, less-conventional channels, leading to greater customer retention, engagement, and loyalty. That goes not only for banks but also for other market participants, including lenders and credit bureaux. They struggle with limited sources of data, identity theft and fraud risk, and time-consuming manual work for credit analysis. All these problems can become relics of the past, being easily solved with instant access to customers’ financial data

CATCHING THE OPEN BANKING WAVE With open banking gaining traction in Europe and beyond, Salt Edge explains how payments market participants can benefit from this movement


directly from the bank. Yet, PSD2 imposes strict requirements for integrating with bank channels, starting from acquiring an account information service provider (AISP) licence, which may take months. The integration process itself is not easy, due to many variations in API development and implementation by different banks in different countries. So, why would any lender or credit bureau choose to invest enormous resources of capital, people, technology, knowledge and time if they can go digital and make more money with innovative solutions like Partner Program from Salt Edge? Our Partner Program enables lenders (and not only lenders) to access open banking channels without a licence, transform the business, unleashing its full digital potential to help more people by making better credit decisions. This Program provides data aggregation capabilities combined with


Any bank can turn into a TPP itself by the option to connect all customers’ accounts held in other financial institutions. This way it becomes customers’ bank of choice added-value services like transaction categorisation, merchant identification, and financial insights. The financial sector is reluctant to change but not immune to it – like flowers after the rain, more and more types of financial service providers appear due to new fintech ideas: neobanks, challenger banks, personal financial management startups, and others. Their

products often require some disruptive solutions to provide customers with high-quality services that were not previously available on the market. This is what we do: Salt Edge’s solutions – data aggregation, payment initiation, data enrichment, and our PSD2 compliance solution – are created to help financial institutions make the lives of regular people easier while bringing more business value. Open banking is an excellent example of the ‘growing pie’ mentality when, instead of taking a win/lose approach, we see the financial market as a win-win scenario; a cooperative view, where every market participant benefits from new ideas, channels and opportunities. There is enough pie for everyone, and Salt Edge is here to deliver your piece.



Salt Edge is a global fintech company offering a range of open banking solutions to banks, lenders, credit bureaux, finapps, and other financial companies that want to join us in building financial services of tomorrow.

COMPANY: Salt Edge

Our company set out to change the shape of the financial landscape, using innovation and technology as the tools. Our mission is to create stable and secure bridges between financial service providers and end users, bringing benefits to all the involved parties. We have two main vectors: connecting to banks in the EU and beyond, and PSD2/open banking compliance. Open Banking Gateway enables third parties to access bank accounts of their end users via a unified API gateway in order to offer account information and payment initiation services. Our

PSD2 Compliance Solution is the technology necessary for banks to become compliant with PSD2 and open banking requirements. Salt Edge has a proven track record of success on the European market. Its clients range from well-known fintechs like Cleo, Yolt, Emma, and banks including BRD, Bank of East Asia Limited, Guaranty Trust Bank Limited, Habib Bank (UK) and Byblos, to credit industry companies such as Crif, Bitbond and Zipper. Key facts about Salt Edge: ■ PSD2 licensed: registered as an account information service provider by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority ■ Highly secure technology: ISO 27001 and PCI DSS certified ■ Global presence: connected to 3,700+ financial institutions in 70+ countries with 100+ clients worldwide

FOUNDED: 2013 CATEGORY: Technical service provider in open banking KEY PERSONNEL: Dmitrii Barbasura, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: Ontario, Canada ACTIVE IN: EMEA, APAC, North America CONTACT: +1 437 886 3969 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/saltedge TWITTER: @saltedge

WHAT WE DO Building the financial services of the future





A YEAR OF INCREASED REGULATION Compliance complacency will be difficult amidst a backdrop of regulations impacting the industry

The financial services industry has been managing the burden of increased regulatory pressure over the last few years. But if a compliance officer thought 2020 might bring some respite, think again! What makes 2020 stand out is the potential impact on the consumer, resulting in significant change management programmes that differ from traditional back-office or process impacts that previous regulatory changes have required. Sphonic is well-prepared to support its clients, providing pain-free, technical adjustments as well as deep, subject matter-led collaboration to support optimisation in financial services, gaming and retail, all of which face challenges in navigating the shark-infested waters of regulation in 2020. Here, we highlight some of those issues and demonstrate how solving regulatory challenge doesn’t always require major surgery. Fifth Anti-money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) – using on-demand collaboration


to effect regulatory change management and identifying ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) in real time There are some major aspects of AMLD5 that require firms to consider their existing regulatory processes to accommodate their obligations to further identify ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) of entities (and on the relevant competitive authorities to publish such lists), the reduction in levels of transactions where customer due diligence (CDD) is required for anonymous payment products, and bringing cryptoassets into the scope of the AML/counter terrorism financing (CTF) regime. Accommodating such changes into an organisation often requires a major change management programme, involving multiple stakeholders such as compliance, product, IT, customer experience, legal, etc. Depending on the complexity, a programme lasting several months (or longer) is often required. And then there is the associated financial cost. Working with Sphonic means this does not necessarily have to be the case. Clients have achieved compliance against some of

the obligations of AMLD5 without much technical effort. That’s because our services are built in collaboration with clients to consider their user journeys, risk appetite and future-proofing. With much of the development effort on our side, clients can be compliant within a few days. As the battleground to on-board more corporate customers (of all sizes) intensifies, the efficient on-boarding processes will be a key differentiator for firms across the globe who will be challenged with the regulatory landscape. We have seen the challenges in business banking, for example, where the battles for SMEs in particular to receive banking and payment services often result in business disruption or seeking alternative solutions, which are considerably more expensive. In 2019 we cranked up our efforts in the know your business on-boarding space in particular. The big regulatory changes here are in the space of identifying UBOs, as a result of national regulatory bodies forced to make lists of these available. Sphonic works with some of the leading partners in the space globally, who are

dedicated in their efforts to onboard these registers as they become available. This presents a great opportunity for our clients and, along with our own tracking and research, we will always be ahead of the curve, ensuring clients have the tools for compliance. Our services use an unprecedented wealth of data to ensure the relevant regulatory checks, with anti-fraud, AML and director/UBO level checks, can be performed as part of a single data stream. This can only truly be achieved through the expertise of the team as ‘practitioners’, coupled with market-leading technology. PSD2/SCA (strong customer authentication) – balancing regulatory requirements and authorised push payment fraud measures with customer experience PSD2/SCA will come into force this year (finally) with a huge set of implications for all the actors in the ecosystem, with equal levels of uncertainty and confusion. We expect to see significant challenges addressed with the introduction of new 3D Secure features in 2020 for the card payments world. But what about non-3D Secure transactions and non-card related payments where the biggest challenge/opportunity lies with handling exemptions, whitelisting and dynamic linking? One of the areas where we see potential for exposure is around 2FA (two-factor authentication) with many more consumers duped into sharing their credentials or performing transactions that appear to be real via what looks like a genuine 2FA request. As such, we would expect all the actors in the ecosystem to undertake a wider biographical profile of a transaction to ensure such attempts can be easily identified and genuine consumers aren’t discriminated against. Sphonic was created to be a modular regtech platform and we are seeing increasing use of our technology for transactional events. We have the ability to orchestrate real-time transaction monitoring, leveraging a range of rules


created by the Sphonic team, as well as leveraging additional data from our marketplace of vendors. One of the key differentiators in this capability is enabling the digital insight from the onboarding process to form part of the transactional profiling. This means that good customers and their behaviour can generally be identified relatively early, whereas bad actors are halted. Increasing gambling regulations in relation to AML, age restrictions and social responsibility – ensuring gaming remains secure and fun-to-play Remote gaming has been a thriving industry in the UK and Europe for some time. Now we are starting to see other parts of the world opening up the market. But the gaming industry faces the same regulatory challenges as financial services. Many operators were ahead of the curve in their mitigation against the risks from the digital world. They were some of the first to accept KYC processes through innovative e-ID products as well as being some of the earliest adopters of 3D-Secure. However, the industry has met with big regulatory changes in age verification in 2019 and further focus on social responsibility and AML profiling means that operators continue to invest and explore technologies to help them comply. Sphonic has been working with some of the major brands in the remote gaming space for many years. Operators with a global customer base have benefitted from our ability to support country-level KYC strategies. In addition, we can provide a wide range of digital insight tools to ensure illicit customers, bonus abusers and underage players can be identified and removed from the system at the earliest possible point. Sphonic also provides its transactional monitoring capabilities to many operators to ensure the focus on AML/KYC compliance and social responsibility with a view to curbing problem gambling as much as possible. In 2020 we see more changes afoot in this regard. New European markets are

In 2019 we cranked up our efforts in the KYC business on-boarding space

opening up to sports betting, each with its own best compliance practice. Sphonic provides that one-stop shop of expertise, technology and speed-to-market to ensure compliance is achieved without it being costly, cumbersome and time-consuming.

WHO WE ARE With the growth in digital commerce, alongside increasing concerns around financial regulation and consumer security, Sphonic has created a suite of products to ensure its clients achieve the right balance in protection and customer experience. Its Workflow Manager enables access to innovations from more than 80 leading global vendors in areas such as global identity and verification, politically exposed persons and sanctions data, device fingerprinting, mobile profiling, email verification, geo-location, behavioural biometrics and many others through its agnostic platform. With these capabilities, Sphonic allows financial services firms to bring all their regtech in one place, covering KYC, AML, fraud management and authentication via a single API.


Andy Lee, Founder (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +44 (0)20 7256 2043 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/sphonic-solutions/ TWITTER: @sphonic

WHAT WE DO All your regtech in one place THEFINTECHPOWER50



WE PREDICTED IMPROVED COLLABORATION… HAS IT HAPPENED YET? Yes, but 2020 is likely to be the year when it pivots, says Devie Mohan

In the early days of fintech, we focussed heavily on bank-fintech collaboration where banks ran accelerator programmes or sponsored incubators and labs to watch and learn from the technological leaps brought in by fintech startups. Over time, the collaboration extended to include more parties from the ecosystem – supervisors, universities, sandboxes, data firms, niche and generic consulting firms, product companies, etc. Observation led the way to investments, seed funding, acquisitions, sales partnerships and various forms of commercial collaboration. What comes next may be indicated by a few interesting cases of collaboration that I have observed in 2019. There have been some exciting partnerships between banks and fintechs to launch new products. One such example is the Scotiabank and Kabbage partnership in the SME lending space. Kabbage uses new methods of onboarding, including the use of social media followers and Yelp reviews, to reduce risk associated with small loans. Small business owners thus get better interest rates and can avoid high-interest private loans from independent lenders. The bank has thus been able to serve a whole new customer base and improve customer retention due to this partnership.


It’s not just traditional banks partnering with fintechs for product synergies. Last year, OakNorth and Monzo, two very successful challenger banks in the UK, joined up to provide savings accounts and individual savings accounts (ISAs) to Monzo’s customers at a fairly high rate (for the UK) of 1.55 per cent and 1.15 per cent respectively. The increased scale and ability to provide high-interest, innovative offerings means that we are bound to see many more similar partnerships in the challenger banking and lending space. DBS Bank in Singapore has been a strong supporter of the fintech ecosystem and one of the ways in which it brings in new ideas, skills and solves existing use cases is through hackathons. Hackathons is an overused term in Europe with most banks, consulting firms and vendors conducting hackathons for PR purposes. However, DBS Bank has integrated all internal departments in this process and provides all the support needed to solve live use cases. A major strategic shift that happened early in 2020 was when Visa acquired Plaid for $5.3billion. It is expected that Visa will use it as a platform for integrating all its existing application programme interfaces (APIs), payments products and services and offer a much more integrated experience to its customers. Plaid connects more than 1,000 banks and 2,600 fintech firms, so we can see the acquisition as a way of plugging into a fintech ecosystem. We haven’t seen many other major outright acquisitions in the fintech world yet, with but this is expected to change

in 2020, with several fintech firms ready to be acquired or raising significant investments, topping $1billion. A good partnership in the fintech system is primarily about scale. As with all startups, fintechs struggle with resources, skills, funding, know-how and brand recognition and the market has clearly shifted to finding scale through joint go-to-market and innovation exercises. I expect the next few years to be a hotbed for fintech-fintech partnerships, fintech marketplaces and challenger bank consolidation. Platformication, especially of payments and lending, is also expected to be a very popular form of collaboration in the next few years where open banking will drive partnerships that add strategic value in terms of products and technologies. Interesting trends are likely to emerge in monetising such open partnerships. There will be increased interest in ethical and eco-friendly innovations and practices across the industry, and the ability for partners to collaborate morally as well as culturally will become essential.

AT A GLANCE Devie Mohan is a fintech industry advisor and analyst and Co-founder and CEO of Burnmark, a fintech research company. She contributes to the ING group Think Forward Initiative, and sits on the editorial board for the Journal of Digital Banking. Her new book, The Financial Services Guide To Fintech, focusses on partnerships. LINKEDIN: deviemohan/ TWITTER: @devie_mohanAturerum


DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION TRENDS IMPACTING BANKING IN 2020 The ostrich position is not an option for financial institutions as technology and consumers elevate expectations, says Jim Marous Today’s banking consumers expect a seamless and contextual experience across all the channels they use. In response, banks and credit unions need to upgrade their legacy systems, introduce new business models and build a culture around delivering personalised solutions that leverage both enhanced data and advanced analytics. Organisations will need to prioritise where investments will be deployed and adjust internal culture that has been relatively stagnant around transactions for decades. The focus must be around customer experiences and engagement that may not be confined to traditional financial services. Done well, both the institution and the consumer benefits. The question is, what are the most important trends that organisations will need to take action on in the next 12-18 months? The most significant transformation trends during the next few years will be around enhanced use of consumer data, building engagement, the emergence of a platform economy and the focus on banking models, cultures and channels to ‘be digital’.

ENHANCED USE OF DATA By combining traditional and non-traditional data and technology to process insights, there is an unparalleled opportunity for banks and credit unions to proactively identify consumer needs and the appropriate product or service to be offered – beyond a demographic, product ownership and risk-based profile. Today, financial marketers and product

managers have access to lifestyle and psychographic data, financial and non-financial product ownership and purchase data, channel preference insights, brand loyalties, geolocation data and insights from social media and mobile phone use. Combined with advanced analytics, these insights will not only provide purchase propensity information, but also projected timing of needs. The result is highly personalised communication, delivered to the consumer’s preferred device or platform. This can take the prospect market beyond what was possible, increasing inclusion.

INCREASED ENGAGEMENT At a time when fewer consumers are switching providers, effective multichannel marketing is possible, which will stimulate new customer acquisition and organic growth. The challenge is the ability to measure the effectiveness of each channel in the customer journey and to understand the best cadence and sequence of messages for the optimal ROI. Organisations will be able to use social media much more effectively. Last-touch attribution is no longer an acceptable marketing measure. Instead, it is imperative to understand relationships between channels and messages to apply spending to the key moments of a customer purchase journey.


A platform allows multiple participants across industries to connect, interact, create and deploy solutions for an increased value exchange between solution provider and the customer. While the retail industry has the greatest number of organisations using platform business models, the financial services industry is increasingly pursuing this form of solution, catalysed by open banking regulations.

CREATING A DIGITAL CULTURE Digital transformation requires rethinking processes and business models from the inside out. Banks need to have both a top-down/bottom-up approach that directs, empowers, engages and inspires the board, management and employees to build the culture change together. It is important to create a vision that is bigger than the legacy business. Employees will only engage if they believe the ‘new organisation’ is positioned to succeed. Consumer expectations will continue to change and if traditional organisations don’t meet their needs, fintech or big tech will. The biggest threats to banking in 2020 and beyond will be complacency and unwillingness to change the way banking has been done for decades.

AT A GLANCE A leading fintech influencer, Jim Marous is co-publisher of The Financial Brand, and owner and publisher of the Digital Banking Report. He has also advised the White House on banking policy and is a regular contributor and guest host for the Breaking Banks radio show. WEBSITE: www.digitalbanking LINKEDIN: in/jimmarous/ TWITTER: @JimMarous THEFINTECHPOWER50



SUPER PROCESSOR Global Processing Services (GPS), The PayTech Pioneer™, is renowned for innovating in the issuing processor space. Now it’s attained a new status through the evolution of its award-winning platform The payments industry is witnessing unprecedented demand from consumers to deliver a cool user experience, greater insights and value-adding services. But with expensive platform development costs and operational reliability factors, how can today’s global fintechs, digital banks and e-wallet providers provide the latest digital offerings? 72 THEFINTECHPOWER50

At the heart of its capability, GPS has built the highly flexible and configurable Apex platform, which places the controls firmly in the hands of the fintech to deliver rich functionality to the cardholder. Add a full range of extended services via single API integration and The Super Processor™ is born to offer the fintechs everything they need to succeed.

SUPER CAPABILITIES Joanne Dewar, CEO of GPS, explains: “The payments ecosystem is an extremely complex environment to navigate. Many people don’t realise that it is a third-party issuer processor sitting at the heart of the transaction flow. GPS is at the epicentre, delivering the crucial connectivity between the fintech and their cardholders, the issuing bank, the

GPS relevant card scheme, such as Visa or Mastercard, and the card bureau. “We have been spearheading the disruption of the processing giants by providing virtual and physical card payment solutions to today’s leading fintechs as well as tomorrow’s challengers, giving us real insight into the next wave of innovation.” Since the start of the challenger bank race, GPS has been the trusted and proven go-to payments processing partner for today’s leading challenger brands, including Starling Bank, Revolut and Curve, who have benefitted from its ability to launch innovative products quickly and reliably. Today, GPS has scaled and increased its international presence to offer unique capabilities unmatched in the payments space, allowing fintechs, digital banks and e-wallet providers to differentiate themselves and grow. The GPS Apex platform is: ■ Able to rapidly deploy solutions worldwide ■ Integrated with more than 40 issuing banks and 50 card manufacturers ■ Equipped to meet the stringent standards required by Tier 1 banks In November 2019, GPS officially launched its regional headquarters in

Singapore to meet the needs of Asia-Pacific fintechs seeking a platform for rapid growth in the region. “Creating a new base in Singapore means we can support both the global growth plans of our existing European customers while also sharing our extensive experience of the European fintech revolution with local digital banks and e-wallet providers,” says Dewar.

GPS coined the phrase The Super ProcessorTM to describe the features and flexibility offered by its Apex platform, enabling the success of fintechs, digital banks and ewallet providers SUPER APIs With a suite of more than 150 application programme interfaces (APIs) and proprietary external interface technology, the GPS Apex platform offers new levels of customisation to maximise cardholder satisfaction and client success. Its APIs enable its clients to put real control into the hands of consumers with UX functionality, including freezing and unfreezing cards, adjusting limits

WHO WE ARE Global Processing Services (GPS) is the issuer processor enabling many of today’s most high-profile fintech innovators and disruptors. We are certified by Mastercard and Visa to process and manage any credit, debit or pre-paid card transaction globally. GPS enables the emerging payments industry to deliver breakthrough innovations through a unique combination of proprietary technology, its people and partners. At the heart of its capability is GPS Apex, its single

and turning on and off options such as gambling and use overseas.

SUPER FUNCTIONALITY PROOF POINTS GPS’ evolution to ‘Super Processor’™ status means it can deliver: ■ Immediate payments, direct debits and standing orders ■ Leading mobile wallet technology ■ Real-time ability to create, configure and control payment programmes ■ Compelling and cost-effective FX programmes ■ Instant fulfilment of end-customer needs through virtual cards ■ Increased operational efficiencies for chargebacks ■ Differentiation through the ability to control authorisation of decisionmaking ■ Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) compliance support by checking the regulatory status of third-party providers and issuing of access tokens No longer just an issuer-processor, GPS is taking a prime position in the payment ecosystem, working with leading brands to deliver a seamless payments experience that will meet the demands of today’s end users.

AT A GLANCE global issuer processing platform. Built entirely by the company’s own payment experts, GPS Apex offers easy integration with issuers, programme managers, card manufacturers and many other service providers. It has integrated with more than 40 issuing banks globally and operates programmes for 100-plus clients in 60 countries using more than 150 currencies, enabling its clients to innovate and deliver exciting new value propositions for end users around the world.




Joanne Dewar, CEO HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: enquiries@ WEBSITE: LINKED IN: company/global-processing-services/ TWITTER: @gps_processor

WHAT WE DO The PayTech PioneerTM enabling next-generation payment technology





If you thought insurance was boring, think again. China’s innovative online platform has unbundled and rebuilt cover to appeal to millions of users on the country’s ubiquitous messaging app Insurance is not only complicated (very few consumers truly understand the terms) but it’s also the least exciting financial service to engage with. We might dream of saving or taking a loan to buy a car, but no one dreams of buying an insurance policy to protect it. And there are very few touchpoints (generally once at renewal and once during a claim) through which a provider can build a relationship. So, when Tencent entered the Chinese insurance market in 2017 with its online platform WeSure, the challenge was to make it ‘fun’. The startup had a distinct advantage: it was embedded from birth in Tencent’s phenomenally successful, multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app WeChat with 1.15 billion monthly active users. Being able to ‘be where the customer is’ every day, several times a day, allowed WeSure to transform the public’s perception of insurance – which was generally one of skepticsm. As a country, the Chinese are less likely to buy insurance than most of the rest of the world. WeSure’s CEO and Chairman Alan Lau admits that its own research showed ‘people would rather read and learn about just about anything else but insurance’. “So one of WeSure’s goals is to make it easy to understand and fun to engage with,” he says. “For example, last year we started putting insurance into digital ‘red packets’ (typically sent around during Chinese New


Year with money inside), and this went viral. On average, each user shared with and brought in five other users. We also created a reward programme around exercising and living well, called WeFit. It allows users to get discounts on sports apparel, gym membership, and insurance if they reach certain milestones. This proved to be a very effective way to acquire and engage users, with 15 to 20 per cent going from free WeFit users to paid insurance buyers.” The platform enables users to make purchases, inquiries and claims directly through the mini programme ecosystem within the WeChat social network, and WeSure cooperates with leading insurance companies in China, including PICC, Ping An, Taikang and MetLife, to provide them with strictly selected, high-quality and innovative insurance services. It currently offers more than 20 kinds of insurance products and solutions in various sectors such as health, accident, life, car, and travel. But, critically, the way they are presented to the consumer is adapted by WeSure to suit the short engagement time associated with a social environment while also ensuring the product is suitable for their needs. “Traditional insurance is often unnecessarily complicated, bundling multiple risk coverages and investment products,” says Lau. “This makes it hard to understand and raises both a price and adoption barrier. So, WeSure chooses to unbundle coverage and charge by the

month, making it easy for users to commit. “But we discovered that education does not just happen before purchase. Ex-post communication is just as important. We found that most users only want to truly learn about insurance after they purchased; so we now send monthly e-newsletter to paid users, re-explaining the benefit of what they have purchased and how to make claims when the time comes. This helps educate, raises satisfaction, and creates a new context for upsell.”


Traditional insurance is often unnecessarily complicated...This makes it hard to understand, and raises both a price and adoption barrier Conversion rates vary. Thirty per cent of users buy on their first visit to the WeSure app; the remainder take anything from three days to a year to return. WeSure uses that time to begin building engagement. “We provide different ‘products’ to engage users at different points in their decision journey, including health news, a how-to guide, and robo-advisor and

WESURE WHO WE ARE WeSure makes it possible for users to buy insurance products without ever leaving the WeChat ecosystem; they can purchase a policy using the online platform, making payment through WeChat instead of finding a real-life agent. Its focus on technology solutions, including leveraging data analytics and implementing innovative strategies to enhance user experiences, is aimed at converting and incentivising insurance-adverse users. For example, WeSure offers its health insurance customers discounts on future payments if they maintain a certain level of physical activity each day. By frequently engaging with its users, WeSure hopes to build strong customer relationships that will help it outperform competitors.

AT A GLANCE a concierge-like sales consultant to engage users and guide them through their decision journey,” says Lau. Such persistence pays off. “Users who took our robo-advisory service are three times more likely to buy, and our sales consultant can drive up ARPU six times,” he adds. As of August 2019, WeSure had nearly 30 million monthly active users, 80 per cent of whom are netizens born after the 80s and 90s. It’s the most popular insurance mini programme in China. “While most insurance platforms operate as marketplaces, WeSure is only a handful (probably the only one at scale) that operates under a ‘curation model’,” says Lau. “We are more Costco than Walmart: users will find fewer SKUs at WeSure, but every product is pre-selected/designed by us and represents the best value. Hence, each SKU gets larger volume, and we pass the savings back on to users. “We offer two types of insurance: the ‘classic’ medical, life, travel coverages on our app, and also context-specific coverage, bundled inside services like ewallet, mobile bill top-up, subway eticket, etc. On the former, through


machine learning, we tested multiple offers every week to understand user acceptance. For example, we discovered those who bought for kids are more likely to also buy for their elderly parents, too; those who bought personal accident coverage are more likely to buy life policies. Our in-house team of 60 AI scientists refine our risk analytics and prediction models every week, based on user responses. On the latter, we bundle this context coverage products seamlessly with the underlying services, making it more convenient to get insured and hence boost user satisfaction.” Lau sees the biggest market opportunity in health insurance. “Medical coverage has been and will remain the biggest growth area in China,” he says. “But it often falls short in the treatment of critical illness like cancer. With a rising middle class and strain on the healthcare system, health coverage is a priority for most families. For example, a new Internet-first product, ‘million RMB medical coverage’ which only came to market four years ago, has grown from 600,000 policies sold a year to 30 million last year. This year we expect it to nearly double again.”


Insurance agent KEY PERSONNEL:

Alan Lau, Chairman & CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: Shenzhen, China ACTIVE IN: China CONTACT: +86 2090 9966 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/wesureBEE49D/ FOLLOW US ON WECHAT!

WHAT WE DO Tech for social good, Insurance for everyone THEFINTECHPOWER50


COMPOUND DATA: POINTING TO TRUE NORTH BOSS Insights provides lenders with the compass they need to navigate multiple data sets A staggering number of small and medium businesses (SMBs) fail – reports put it as high as 90 per cent in some sectors. Aside from operation and strategy, one of the biggest reasons is limited funding or lack of timely cash flow. This is no surprise with: ■ 72 per cent of SMB loans rejected1 ■ Typically, a wait of three months before the cash arrives2 ■ 52 per cent of SMB financing needs unmet3 Given that lenders seek to find qualified borrowers, what is causing a breakdown in the flow of capital? Information – or rather, the lack of it. Lack of data is punitive, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) notes that lenders may not provide a loan if they are unable to access sufficient information on a consumer, even if the small amount they have shows a low risk applicant.4 With sufficient data however, and a seamless data gathering approach, both lender and borrower journeys can be improved – which is the aspired ‘true North’. In fact, banks that digitise their workflow reduce their risk levels and


even see a two per cent higher return on equity than peers who don’t.5 At FinTech Connect UK 2019, a question was posed to a group of incumbent and challenger banks on a panel titled How To Transform An Incumbent (Banking) Business Model: “If banks are sitting on a data advantage, why don’t they use it to gain ground on challenger banks?” The answer from the panel was that the data is there, but it’s difficult to derive insights from. Some banks, such as Bank of America, attempt multi-year aggregation projects to gather data onto their own systems6, while nimbler financial institutions (FIs)

It’s often said that data is the new oil. Today, this is undeniable. Stated more accurately, however, insights are the new oil and compound data is the drill partner with fintechs like the CIBC-Borrowell partnership to overlay solutions and derive insights from unstructured original sources7. Whatever the approach, it’s unanimous that data is the key to better lending.8 Today, the number of alternative

lenders is at an all-time high.9 And yet there is a funding gap of $5trillion between the financing needs of SMBs and institution-based financing available to them.10 So, what’s the problem? To date, the lending process for businesses has been largely manual, involving historical information such as financials and credit checks. This is akin to looking at the future of a company by looking in the rear-view mirror. Challenges include data gathering, processing data, negotiating internally for approvals, and even ongoing risk assessments. It’s slow, cumbersome and fails to meet the businesses where they are. Businesses are increasingly realising that the combination of simple data gives the most complete picture of a business. This is what we call compound data: the union of all available simple data to reveal the clearest insights. This clarity can unlock new business from the 72 per cent of rejected loan applications that otherwise did not have sufficient information or a complete picture to approve. FIs have historically devoted resources to polishing single-source datasets instead of harmonising the multiple data lakes that AI relies on. This robs them

BOSS INSIGHTS of insights arising from connections between multiple data sets. For instance, a certain small business with a poor quarter on paper might have increasing leads recorded in their sales data. Additionally, they might be seeing more marketing reach, which could imply they may be poised for growth. Traditional lenders may reject this SMB and under lend, while compound data would capture these untapped opportunities. It’s important for lenders to get access to these data sources and they are making efforts to do this. The only issue is that many are doing this one application programme Interface (API) at a time.

TRANSLATING INSIGHTS An API determines how two software components interact with each other, relaying messages between them to arrive at a desired result. As Jordan Youngs, Software Developer at Boss Insights puts it: “It’s like you’re visiting a library where all the books are in a foreign language, but there’s a bilingual librarian who can help you find and instantly translate whatever info you need” More back-office software systems (or BOSS) are being employed than ever before. All this software stores data in the Cloud but each software’s data speaks a different language. For instance, QuickBooks and Salesforce data both reside in the Cloud but have no way to interact with each other. An API translates between these components and aggregates these various forms of data into one common language. But integration of simple data or APIs in isolation is ineffective. Lenders need to take an active advisory role in businesses, to help them get to where they need to go. To do that, they need a 360-degree view of the business: they need access to see the way businesses see themselves. This is exactly what’s hindering the borrower-lender journey and this process is in dire need of a major upgrade. The upgrade lies in finding a way to collect data scalably. Banks are not the only group sitting on piles of data. SMEs also sit on data lakes but are only utilising a fraction of

its potential. It’s like storing your money under the bed rather than earning interest off it. The same way compound interest makes money grow at a faster rate, compound data makes a company grow at a faster rate. This is precisely why Boss Insights introduced the concept of compound data through scalable APIs. Compound data is gathered when data is collected in a scalable manner from vast and varied sources of data that are available but not easily accessible. In fact, Mckinsey notes ambitious data aggregation plans at financial institutions are frequently abandoned due to the sheer effort and costs for behemoth-like banks.11 Further, FIs believe more data is important for AI, and while AI is indeed a glutton for data, it is the variety of data and the harmony between them that fuels innovation.

WHO WE ARE Awarded Canadian Lender Association’s Top 25 Executive Leaders in Lending Award, Boss Insights opens the door to customer arbitrage, enabling FIs to acquire new business borrowers without taking additional risk.

In the race towards the best AI and best understanding of the business borrowing client, compound data provides a key strategic advantage. It’s often said that data is the new oil. Today, this is undeniable. Stated more accurately, however, insights are the new oil and compound data is the drill. By laying the pipes to gather it, Boss Insights is betting on a framework that provides resources to the future. 1 2 business-functions/risk/our-insights/the-lending-revolution-how-digital-creditis-changing-banks-from-the-inside 3 articles/banks-spend-1-trillion-on-digital-but-few-reap-the-rewards 6www. perspectives/small-business/pepperdine-capital-access-index-q2-2019.html 10 11

■ Due diligence: access more customer arbitrage opportunities by de-risking lending through enhanced data models ■ Portfolio monitoring: real-time alerts for additional origination opportunities ■ Smart matching: quickly match your investment with the right business


By developing a universal API platform, Boss Insights provides 360-degree insights on business borrowers, integrating all of their data and streamlining the borrower and lender journey. Our big data and AI platform accelerates loan qualifications and approvals from months to minutes and provides real-time alerts to drive post-loan origination profitability. This digital lending functionality takes only eight weeks to adopt. Boss Insights works with SMBs, commercial, mid-market and venture debt to accelerate the lending process from months to minutes. It collects private company information in real time, curates company dashboards and aggregates portfolios to provide:

SaaS, Big Data, AI, LaaS KEY PERSONNEL: Keren Moynihan, CEO/Co-Founder (top) and Luke Moynihan, CTO/Co-Founder (bottom) HEAD OFFICE: Toronto, Canada ACTIVE IN: Cananda CONTACT: +1 844 579 2777 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/bossinsights TWITTER: @bossinsight

■ Lead qualification: Instantaneously and accurately qualify borrowers with a seamless lender-borrower journey

WHAT WE DO Accelerating lending from months to minutes




Financial institutions can’t afford to be conservative when defining their digital strategy for 2020, says Richard Dratva, Chief Strategy Officer at CREALOGIX Banks and wealth management firms can go into 2020 with one of two strategies. The first, which I do not recommend, would be to resist technology and fight change. Many financial institutions are unconsciously taking this strategy: faced by unprecedented change all around, they retreat. They build a conservative self-image that seeks to justify doing business in cautious, slow, manual ways. In this orientation, managing the business is all about staying the same and avoiding change. Safety and predictability are paramount, but what the business actually gets in return is competitive disruption. A resistant attitude to the broad market trends driving change results in little scope for defence against emergent competition. Such businesses enter a vicious circle of introspection, protectionism, cost-cutting and under-investment… and, eventually, downsizing and loss of relevance. I hope that is not the path that financial institutions take in 2020. So, what is the alternative? A proactive, outwardly-engaged, optimistic attitude towards market trends and technology. This must begin with the leadership of the business and spread outward to involve everyone in a shared, positive vision and purpose.


In banking and wealth management, a positive vision for technology is about opportunity, not fear of change. In this orientation, business leadership and specialist workers alike see software and digital service channels as facilitating and accelerating a vast range of efficiencies, growth opportunities, and competitive innovations. Excessively conservative businesses view change with fear, and ossify. Now ask the challengers and fintechs what they are most afraid of: it’s not change – the thing they fear is not moving fast enough.

Many financial institutions build a conservative self-image that seeks to justify doing business in cautious, slow, manual ways The biggest difficulty financial institutions face in the 2020s is not technology, challengers, or the economy. Above all of these, it’s the tendency to be reactive instead of having a proactive digital strategy. They are imprisoned in legacy thinking traps. Rather, they need to take a counter-intuitive approach.




Unshackle innovators from legacy Established firms dedicate most of their technology budgets to maintenance, not innovation. Customers don’t see or feel the work being done. Innovation resources are starved of resources and autonomy. The alternative view: Prioritise vital innovation resources to work on things that bring tangible improvements for end customers. While modernising underlying systems is important, give a higher priority to delivering innovation.


Relentlessly simplify In large, established banks and wealth management firms, ‘more is more’. Each year, products and services are created and old ones stick around. The alternative view: Don’t accommodate complexity. Reduce the options you put in front of customers. Look at choices and decisions in customer journeys as potential headaches. Design for simplicity = value.


The world is hyperconnectd – don’t fight it Established firms seem to have little to

C R E A LO G I X gain, and much to lose, from opening up to external access. The rational approach seems to be: do the bare minimum to satisfy open banking regulation and limit the risks. The alternative view: Financial services are becoming hyperconnected: open banking is only the beginning. What’s better: to disconnect or to become part of this future and its opportunities? Look at how to ingest and exploit data, not just yield it.


Conceive your very own brat brand An established financial institution has enormous strength in its well-recognised and trusted brand. Radical changes to the scope and style of services put the firm’s reputation and very brand identity at risk. The alternative view: The risk warnings are probably correct: changing the firm can go wrong in unpredictable ways.

WHO WE ARE The CREALOGIX Group is a Swiss Fintech 100 company and is among the global market leaders in digital banking. It develops and implements innovative fintech solutions for the financial institutions of tomorrow. Using digital solutions from CREALOGIX, banks, wealth managers and other financial institutions can better respond to evolving customer needs in the area of digital transformation, enabling them to hold their ground in a very demanding and dynamic market, and remain ahead of their competitors. The Group, founded in 1996, has more than 700 employees worldwide. The shares of CREALOGIX Group (CLXN) are traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange. As a pure-play digital banking engagement platform developer, CREALOGIX has more than 20 years’ experience, focussing on delivering proven customer-centric systems to hundreds of the world’s leading FIs. Key features of CREALOGIX’s solution: ■ Works on top of any core banking system ■ Deploys to Cloud or on premises; managed services available


Counter-intuitive strategies for leaders in the 2020s







Instead, consider how innovators are flanking you, and try to get there yourself: launch your own challenger.


Innovate in fin instead of tech Accepting the wisdom that banks need to become more like technology

■ Collaborative integration process, working with designers, marketing, technical experts, and change management ■ Solution is designed for mobile banking, incorporating modern security features and excellent usability for end customers ■ API-driven design supports a full range of open banking, private fintech and third-party integration possibilities ■ Regular addition of enhancements and new features to foundation and optional modules The CREALOGIX Digital Banking Hub is the company’s centrepiece platform, with functionality covering retail, private, and business banking. Financial institutions can rapidly modernise the interaction layer of their digital customer experience and continue adding on new CREALOGIX modules or integrating partner fintech functionality. The immediate benefit to the bank is far greater flexibility and – thanks to the software-as-a-service model – lower costs compared to custom, in-house development. The long-term value is a more competitive and agile proposition in the market that can


firms, they hire hundreds of developers, build out IT infrastructure, and try to chase the challengers. The alternative view: Innovate in products and services – but to design, deploy, and distribute these, the tech does not all have to be ‘invented here’! more successfully keep customers loyal and attract new users. The CREALOGIX innovation lab has been recognised for cutting-edge concepts for mobile banking user interface and open banking use cases for three years in a row at FinovateEurope, where it was proud to be awarded Best in Show.


Richard Dratva, Chief Strategy Officer (right) CATEGORY: B2B software product vendor HEAD OFFICE: Zurich, Switzerland ACTIVE IN: Europe & UK, Middle East, Asia-Pacific. CONTACT: WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/crealogix/ TWITTER: @CREALOGIX_en

WHAT WE DO We create digital leaders THEFINTECHPOWER50


OPENAND SECURE With consumers giving more and more third parties the keys to their accounts, the challenge for FIs is how to keep them safe

Open banking is now a reality with third-party providers (TPPs) able to access consumers’ accounts with their consent to provide new innovative and competitive services – and they’re doing so in rapidly increasing numbers. Although banks may not be fully ready to accept high volumes of application programme interface (API) calls in real time, the inflection point of regulatory adoption has been reached and open banking is undeniably in acceleration mode. One gauge we have is UK open banking, arguably 18 months in front of the rest of Europe’s delivery plans. Initial implementation was in January 2018, at which time nine of the major UK banks were directed to implement open banking services. At the outset, no TPPs were authorised to operate in the UK but by December 2019 there were 163 – 116 domestic and another 47 with the ability to passport services in from other countries. There were also several hundred awaiting regulatory approval from the Financial Conduct Authority. In December 2019, more than 280 million open banking transactions were conducted in the UK, according to the Open Banking Implementation Authority,


demonstrating a sustained average monthly increase of more than 20 per cent. The UK’s trajectory is a clear indication of open banking’s positive promise and the impact it will have across the whole of the EEA. Fundamentally, open banking is about the democratisation of data. No longer are banks the exclusive custodians of this data, concealing it away from innovative business ideas and improved financial options. Any regulated third-party provider can, if granted consent from a payment service user (PSU), access that consumer data to give the account holder a wider range of choices than they could ever have obtained from a single guardian bank. The concept of better financial outcomes is being realised as competition is initiated in previously stagnant business areas.

It’s essential to have regulatory oversight of those entities that are authorised to provide services and access customer information

The EU’s revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) is only the first part of the ‘open’ journey. It only applies to certain types of bank accounts and therefore is not all-inclusive. The next stage is to move towards ‘open finance’. This will see all types of financial accounts accessible via online channels. No longer will it only be payment accounts covered within the ‘open’ ecosystem; other account types, such as pensions, investments, trading, wealth and insurance, will also be included. This will give PSUs greater insight, transparency and control of the services they wish to use and adopt. They will have the agility and flexibility to move providers, to access new products and services to get the best deals. However, the term ‘open’ does not allow for any compromising of security or data. What it symbolises is the sharing of, and access to, financial information where PSUs have given explicit consent to enable regulated third parties to deliver services, securely, in the new API economy.

KONSENTUS For the ecosystem to operate as intended, in a frictionless, trusted and secure way, it’s essential to have regulatory oversight of those entities that are authorised to provide services and access customer information. PSUs must have total confidence that their information is only being shared with their explicit consent and that the information provided is only being used as approved and in a secure manner.

A COMPLEX TASK As we move towards wholesale industrialisation of data sharing, account providers must implement robust, real-time, high-availability services that positively verify the identity of any TPPs and their current regulatory status as they attempt to access data. One of the most pertinent lessons for the EEA, from the UK’s early adoption, is that manual checking is not scalable and is certainly not sustainable. Financial institutions are faced with the ever-increasing complexity of having to access a myriad of regulatory registers (known as national competent authorities or NCAs) across the EEA to verify the legitimacy of those organisations attempting to access PSU accounts; many third parties will be existing financial services providers (i.e. banks) as well as newly registered TPPs (i.e. non-banks). Already, account providers need to establish connectivity with more than 70 qualified trust service providers (QTSPs) for identity verification. In addition, they must access more than 117 registers across 31 NCAs and the European Banking Authority in order to verify a TPP’s regulated status and any rights of passporting to other member states. This presents financial institutions with the complex challenge of how to access this data in a real-time, online environment; to interpret the information, understand what items/elements are missing; and decision transaction requests accordingly to ensure regulatory compliance. As we move further towards open finance and beyond, with transaction volumes and regulated entities ever increasing, the security of payment service credentials and assets will become ever more important in retaining customer loyalty and brand reputation.

WHO WE ARE Konsentus is recognised for providing a world-class technology solution to solve a significant, complex industry problem – how to ensure fraudulent or unregulated third-party providers are never given access to payment service users’ accounts. Our easy-to-implement, cost-effective solution has been acknowledged by industry experts as being a key component in helping build trust in the evolving open banking ecosystem. We were a category winner at the 2020 Card & Payments Awards and winner of three categories in the 2019 Emerging Payments Awards – being recognised not only for our technical service but also for our back-office operations. Our customers have been quick to validate the Konsentus solution. Moneyou, a fully online neo bank and subsidiary of ABN AMRO Bank NV, won Best Security Initiative at the Retail Banking Conference & Awards for its open banking offering using the Konsentus solution. Headquartered in the UK, with European operations, our leadership team has significant experience in financial services and building global software businesses. The Konsentus software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform provides an online, real-time, third-party provider (TPP) identity and regulatory checking service for financial institutions (FIs)/account servicing payment service providers (ASPSPs) to comply with the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) access to accounts, more commonly referred to as open banking. The core components of the solution are:

basis and advises the FI on the payment services the TPP is authorised to provide. Token issuance, verification and management services Konsentus provides real-time issuance, checking and validation, and life cycle management of access tokens issued on behalf of the FI. Immutable audit log Konsentus maintains an immutable audit log of all API calls, providing the FI with a system of record of all actions and activity to assist in dispute management processes.

3 4

A one-hour service level agreement on the regulatory information held ensures that Konsentus maintains the most up-to-date information on all regulated entities within the EEA. It is the only solution in the market offering this robust, flexible platform. As the open banking landscape evolves, Konsentus is well-placed to help the players within the ecosystem take advantage of the access to financial data that the regulation offers, while ensuring those players stay compliant and minimise their risk.



TPP identity verification This gives the FI confidence that the TPP connecting to its open banking interfaces is a PSD2-regulated service provider (i.e. proven identity). TPP regulatory checking Konsentus checks, in real time, the regulated status of the TPP on a pan-EEA


WHAT WE DO Building confidence in open banking THEFINTECHPOWER50




Ed Adshead-Grant, General Manager and Director of Payments at Bottomline Technologies, on the fast service that’s transforming business journeys Is your organisation looking for a way to supercharge its payment transactions? By offering an alternative plug-in to national and international payment rails, banks and corporates now have at their disposal new and innovative ways to jump on the rails of realtime payments. Because instant transactions have the power not only to transform payments but also to challenge the way companies will do business, realtime is definitely the destination of this fast-moving journey. Think anytime and realtime payroll, realtime disbursements, realtime cash flows and access to liquidity positions – imagine the impact that could have on a company’s capital management and decisionmaking. As a business-to-business player, Bottomline offers banks and corporates a simple and cost-effective route to payments infrastructures by subscribing to a Cloud-based application programme interface (API – one that ensures resilience, security and compliance with the plethora of regulations around payment systems. Bottomline already supports CHAPS, SWIFT, Bacs, Visa B2B Connect, Direct


Access Faster Payments, Paym, CASS and various others through its Universal Aggregator, which is now boosted by a Real Time Payments Express Service. But the regulatory and infrastructure cost burden is shared between Bottomline’s customers, and there is no need for organisations to employ such expertise in-house. The service has a bundle of features attached to it, too, such as transaction track and trace, informing where the money is at any given time.

QUICK, QUICK, SLOW Although introduced in 2008, the adoption of realtime payments has been slower than many anticipated. Primarily, this inertia was because it was left to the core banks to sponsor realtime solutions. As these are critical national infrastructures and, given the complexity behind delivering realtime payments, there’s been a conservative approach by the sponsoring banks to bringing this capability to market. Ed Adshead-Grant, General Manager and Director of Payments at Bottomline Technologies, recalls how, in the early days, businesses were sponsored by a core bank that had established access

to Faster Payments, but they were held back by the time it took to get up and running. “This meant the smaller banks or corporates were beholden to the timetable of the sponsoring bank,” says Adshead-Grant. “Bottomline wanted to solve this problem and came up with a direct access model to Faster Payments that gives organisations more control over the service levels, the outages, and what they can do via a sponsoring bank. “One of the most significant cost items in the payments operation comes from the need for compliance within the smaller bank or corporate. Given Bottomline’s subscription model in servicing financial services and payments, we’ve taken on the compliance burden that was historically held in-house and was often absorbing large buckets of IT budget that could be used in more innovative and customer-facing ways. “Running software through the Cloud or via a software-as-a-service model means the compliance element has been future-proofed for the customer. A subscription Cloud approach means we

We’re likely to see the adoption of ‘realtime everywhere’. This idea challenges the way people, companies and banks have been operating

can be agile in adopting new regulations or security controls. While realtime access is the core element, beyond that there are a series of fraud and sanctions-checking capabilities, and cash management wraparound services that give control to the users.” Predicting how the realtime payments market will change, Adshead-Grant says it’s likely we’ll see transaction limits increase with user trust – ultimately, challenging the CHAPS network when it comes to choosing which realtime payment option to use. “The greater the extent of front-end control and transaction checks, the less risky realtime payment processing becomes,” he says. “Our role is to provide access to these types of solutions so that businesses can pay and get paid in a simple, smart and secure way. “We’re likely to see the adoption of ‘realtime everywhere’,” he continues. “This challenges the way people, companies and banks have been operating until now. Consider paying employees on a daily or hourly basis – what does that do for liquidity management? And what does making realtime disbursements do for cashflow? “It raises a question around whether batch payments will be needed in future. My personal view is that, with the lowering cost of computing power and networks, all batch-based systems will move towards APIs and realtime flows. Any treasurer would love to have their global cash positions at their fingertips. With realtime payments and the supporting systems that can make them happen, you start to move to that world of realtime cash management. Add to this realtime access to data that’s previously been held in proprietary bank data vaults: in a world where ‘realtime everywhere’ is becoming the norm, the API-driven functionality of open banking creates terrific opportunities for banks, corporates and end-users.” Financial institutions and corporates of all sizes now have the opportunity of hopping onto the fast train of realtime payments. And, uniquely, Bottomline can offer organisations a choice of different models that best fit their business.

WHO WE ARE Bottomline is focussed on helping banks and businesses create a business payments strategy that helps them be successful. Thousands of organisations, corporations and banks of every size across the globe rely on Bottomline for domestic and international payments, efficient cash management, fraud detection, regulatory compliance and more. Sixty-five of the Fortune 100 companies and nearly 80 per cent of FTSE 100 companies use Bottomline Technologies to process their financial transactions. As a trusted innovation partner in business payment processing, and as the largest, third-party SWIFT bureau in the world, we help organisations to: ■ Efficiently and securely monitor, manage and move financial messages, payment transactions and associated documentation ■ Navigate and insulate themselves from rapid technology, regulatory, security and market changes From high-value, complex transactions to high-volume, low-value payments across payments, securities, foreign exchange, trade finance, and custodial business, our award-winning solutions help: ■ Pay and collect: industry-approved, Cloud-based solutions make, collect and manage payments in-country and across borders, currencies, and industries. Associated inbound and outbound document automation technology complements the end-to-end process ■ Predict and protect: beyond adhering to regulatory and compliance requirements, Bottomline’s solutions combine user monitoring and behavioural analysis to detect potential payment fraud and reduce risk

■ Connect and manage: we increase connectivity and improve management of financial messaging activity across multiple payment networks. Our aggregation solution for financial institutions and enterprises is a Cloud-based, plug-in platform that securely connects to multiple payment and settlement systems Bottomline is honoured to be recognised by Fintech Power50 and IDC Top 100. It has received several awards, including Payment Innovation of the Year (Bottomline PTX), Best in Payments Processing (Bottomline Universal Aggregator), AP/Invoicing Product of the Year (Bottomline Invoice Automation for Microsoft Dynamics 365) and Best Security and Anti-fraud Development (Bottomline PTX Secure Payments). We believe we have a responsibility to the market and our customers to keep them informed of developments in payments. We do this via The Payments Podcast at com/gb/podcast/the-paymentspodcast/id1441952517


Technologies CATEGORY: Business payments technology FOUNDED: 1989 KEY PERSONNEL: Nigel Savory, Managing Director EMEA (right) HEADQUARTERS: New Hampshire, USA ACTIVE IN: North America, UK, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Singapore CONTACT: +1 603 436 0700 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/bottomline-technologies TWITTER: @bottomlinetech

WHAT WE DO Making complex business payments simple, smart and secure THEFINTECHPOWER50


F I N G O PAY To have and to own your identity is a fundamental human right. Our identity is at the core of everything that allows us to live our lives in today’s technology-driven world. But in an age where our lives increasingly play out digitally, it is usually necessary to create multiple, separate identities. Virtually all the ways we prove our identity don’t belong to us as individuals. A driving licence is the property of the licensing authority, bank cards are the property of the banks, and passports belong to the government. As these official ID documents are now available

Fingopay, developer of the first open-loop identity authentication platform, put its finger on the inherent flaws in securely vouching for who we are in digital versions, could we link all of these disparate digital identities back to ourselves and avoid the need to carry cards or devices or have to remember multiple, complicated passwords?

This question inspired the development of Fingopay, the world’s first identity authentication and payment platform, through a quest to find a private, reliable biometric suitable for large events and festivals that people would trust. All forms of payment systems, other than cash, require us to authenticate our identity in order to complete the transaction. Contactless is the outlier because all authentication security was removed in the name of convenience, the most common example being the payment card experience, which is hindered by limitations of the existing




payment card infrastructure to carry data. For example, for merchants to engage and reward customers, they are required to carry another card, and this became unpopular when our wallets and purses became overloaded. Allowing contactless and mobile payments were the payment card industry’s attempt to meet consumer demands for convenience and extend the life of plastic cards and the card acceptance infrastructure. In fact, it created new opportunities to defraud the system, accelerating the need for new and more onerous regulations. Most new payment technology solutions rely on improved cards, smartphones or wearables, which bring new security challenges and inconveniences such as theft, hacking, lost battery power or simply forgetting to take your phone or wearable with you. And they exclude those people who don’t or can’t have a bank account or mobile phone. These problems are further compounded by only providing a short-term connection to a device, and not a lifetime connection to a person that a biometric system offers. Fingopay focussed on a new approach to deliver a convenient, safe, rewarding and permanent experience for individuals, as well as delivering significant benefits to business owners. The solution needed to be simple and had to involve a biometric that would be permanent and would work in all weather conditions and environments. However, most biometric solutions proved to be flawed in one way or another. It wasn’t just reliability, but the safety of external biometrics was a big concern. The ability to spoof fingerprints, steal someone’s facial or retinal likeness and the fact that if a biometric database was hacked it would mean the individual would be forever compromised, as you can’t change your fingerprint, face or eye. When Fingopay premiered at a music festival in Wales, it showcased a new biometric – VeinID – which recognises a

person from the unique pattern of veins within their finger. All fingers are unique and because it’s reliant on an internal pattern, VeinID is not influenced by factors like wear and tear, light, moisture and dirt. Since then, Fingopay, together with major payment technology brands, has spent time researching multiple retail environments, including supermarkets, hospitality and football stadia, to understand the challenges of registration and use. Fingopay has developed the world’s first open-loop identity authentication platform, ultimately providing anyone with the ability to link any attribute of their identity directly to their fingers for instant recall and use. The use cases for Fingopay are limitless and the projects currently in development include a smart city and a national ID scheme. One single platform will enable a city to work better together – from the way people navigate their way around, to the way buildings are accessed and payments are made. The Fingopay platform has evolved into an open identity platform, capable of authenticating individuals as citizens, guests, members, passengers, staff and patients where a particular activity requires a participating individual’s identity to the authenticated. Biometrics is a fast-growing sector, with the global market for biometric-based identity authentication estimated to grow from $838million in 2017 to $3billion by 2022, a CAGR of 28.8 per cent1. And, as we enter a new phase of identity-driven personalised digitisation, we will see a dramatic increase in the use of biometrics to counter the limitations and risks of legacy infrastructure while offering users a more convenient and secure alternative. The era of plastic cards with their inherent flaws, not to mention environmental costs should be replaced by biometric-based solutions like Fingopay, an excellent example of biometric identity as a force for good in terms of safety, reliability and the environment. 1 21st Biometrics As A Service Market By Modality – Global Forecast to 2022

The use cases are limitless and the projects currently in development include a smart city and a national ID scheme

WHO WE ARE Fingopay is the world’s first identity and payment platform, powered by VeinID technology. We have created a new category of biometrically enabled identity platform, which is the foundation for a wide range of products and services, including card payment, bank-to-bank transactions, access control, age verification, and time and attendance. People simply create a Fingopay account, add a payment card and then link their finger to their account at a Fingopay kiosk. Fingopay verifies their identity through their unique finger VeinID that is stored securely in the Cloud, leaving people free to pay for goods or prove who they are simply by scanning their finger. Fingopay is winner of the Emerging Payments Game Changer Award; The Telegraph’s Smart City Innovation Award; Restaurant Tech Live Tech Product of the Year; and was named among Syndicate Room’s Top 100 Fastest Growing UK Business. We will be launching a number of ‘city cluster’ initiatives over the course of 2020.


Identity authentication, payments and banking


Nick Dryden, Founder & CEO (above) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: UK, Europe, Middle East (expanding into North & South America) CONTACT: WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/sthaler TWITTER: @Fingopay

WHAT WE DO Biometric identity authentication and payments THEFINTECHPOWER50


DO THE RIGHT THING! As regulation and competition increase, the battle for trust will be won by institutions that use AI to prioritise client needs. By shifting focus from products to advice, financial services can align client and compliance with competitiveness.

How AI can help financial services build trust, stay onside, and beat the competition

It’s easy to get lost in the noise of ‘fintech vs banks vs big tech’, or trendy hashtags that are here today and gone tomorrow. As some incumbents merge into leviathans, and new upstarts threaten with agility, one thing is certain: competition for customer trust is growing fiercer. Regulations like the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), and the second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFid II) are also leaving institutions exposed in how they serve millions of customers. Organisations will increasingly face a burden of proof to show that they are ‘doing the right thing’ for customers, especially if they use machine learning. While many of today’s popular AI solutions are being used to target or market products in a hyper-effective way,

it’s an open question as to whether they ‘do the right thing’ for clients. At the same time, regulators will demand answers on how these AI solutions are being used for the customer’s best interest. AI solutions that exploit data to sell more products today could, in fact, be tomorrow’s compliance nightmare. By focussing on clients and advice, instead of sales and products, institutions can position themselves to withstand market downturns, regulatory changes, and aggressive competition.


BUILD TRUST: PUT CLIENT BEFORE PRODUCT A perfect storm of open banking choices and the end of a market bull run will put client trust to the test. Open banking lets clients swap out services with a click and, as a result, fIntechs and incumbents will compete for share of wallet across product offerings.

Banking-as-a-service means the largest institutions can achieve galactic scale and upstarts can launch disruptive apps overnight. Basic offerings like checking and credit will not be enough to sustain client loyalty, even with a slick app or metal card. During a market crash, clients accustomed to bountiful investment returns and comfortable credit, could suddenly grow vulnerable, frustrated or, at the very least, start scrutinising their providers. When this day comes, AI solutions that boosted a sale will do nothing to keep client trust and wallet. In a market saturated with products and apps, clients will instead seek providers they trust to understand their needs. Businesses focussed on solving client problems, and creating strategies and propositions for life transitions, will outperform those stuck in a product-centric world. AI can serve a role in monitoring the client life and provide useful advice through personal fianancial management or by assisting a trusted human advisor. AI that detects events and provides advice will build more trust, and a bigger relationship than AI that simply amplifies sales processes. It’s also easier to explain to regulators.

RESPONSIVE STAY COMPLIANT WITH CLIENT-CENTRIC ACTIONS On both sides of the Atlantic, Reg BI and MiFid II demand awareness of a client’s financial situation. In the language of Reg BI ongoing ‘diligence, care and skill’ will be required to ensure a customer’s best interest is front and centre. What’s more, not having sufficient data on a customer is no longer a valid excuse. Professionals and providers will be required to collect and protect client data, and continually monitor for changes in situation, to support action in that client’s best interest. Oh, and yeah, it should all be explainable and auditable. This might sound like an incredible burden, but if providers are transitioning to a client-focussed data and advice model, they are building in compliance by design. If incentives and service models are designed to care for client interest, it seems almost trivial to say that it should be easy to maintain compliance along the rails of best interest. If your systems and people monitor client financial situations, and offer products and advice based on need, then, in fact, your systems and people will be compliant at monitoring

client situation and servicing needs. In short: it’s not difficult to prove you are doing something you are actually doing. But trying to justify or police AI-driven sales and marketing tactics as ‘client best interest’ for the purposes of compliance is just as difficult as it sounds.

A perfect storm of open banking choices and the end of a market bull run will put client trust to the test In 2008, Blockbuster was the best at offering a wide selection of movies on local video store shelves. In 2010 it filed for bankruptcy. Netflix won the war by focussing on driving convenience and personalisation to customers. A corresponding shift from product-centricity to customer-centricity is happening in financial services. Some are aggressively pursuing an advantage, while others, not unlike Blockbuster, believe they have all the time in the world. Clients are demanding more convenience, personalisation, and human expertise during life transitions.

Straightforward low-cost products are also begging the question on value. Seamless digital onboarding and robotic process automation will make existing services more cost effective, but they will not make existing services more competitive. Those that focus on client needs and outcomes will win like Netflix. Those that don’t… well, you know the rest of the story. By focussing on client centric-data and privacy, organisations are building the foundation on which their business and client trust depends. By understanding client life situations and needs, more authentic – and more resilient and profitable – service models replace corny sales games. By empowering clients and frontline advisors with insights that grow wealth, a sustainable feedback loop of trust and growth emerges. When systems serve client outcomes by design, institutions create more transparent, and ethical financial services that even a regulator can love. Put client before product. Understand client life situation. Provide advice that suits client needs. Focus on client outcomes. Do the right thing.



Responsive is a B2B fintech company whose mission is to empower financial institutions to scale personalised financial advice with client-centric Next Best Actions. We transform client data into service personalisation that bolsters trust and revenue.

COMPANY: Responsive

Our advantage is behavioural analytics driven by proprietary research in machine learning. Wealth managers, banks and insurers use our solution to strengthen client relationships. Responsive aggregates, normalises and enriches disparate system-centric client data into a coherent holistic client-centric financial persona data model. Our Symbiosis analytics engine detects events, segments personality and predicts changes that impact client service, advisor performance or enterprise profitability. Events and

segments are then used to send notifications and actions to frontline workers in order to capture opportunities and risks. Advisors can receive our Next Best Actions using our proprietary Hybrid dashboard, or integrated over an application programme interface (API) inside a digital wealth platform of choice. Our notifications and visualisations support meaningful actions and touchpoints that increase profitability, reduce risk and enhance client loyalty. Our solutions are designed to provide value to relationship managers, service support staff and sales people. We typically sell to the wealth management line of business, innovation stakeholders or data analytics teams at institutions. Our solution can be used stand alone, over an API or integrated with digital wealth platforms or CRM systems.

FOUNDED: 2015 CATEGORY: Behaviour

analytics for wealth management


Davyde Wachell, CEO

HEAD OFFICE: Vancouver, Canada ACTIVE IN: Europe, US, Canada CONTACT: +1 604 229 5353 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN:


TWITTER: @responsiveai

WHAT WE DO Empower wealth managers to grow client wealth and trust THEFINTECHPOWER50





Lawrence Wintermeyer looks at what’s fashioning financial services as they enter the roaring Twenties In the years following the financial crisis, fintech has produced a breathtaking number of products and services. What do they reveal about the next decade of innovation?

DIGITAL PAYMENTS Digital payments have raced ahead, thanks to RFID and mobile apps: the market is expected to be worth $2trillion by 2025. Market leaders include Ant Financial, Square and Klarna, which has transformed consumer retail purchasing. Africa’s M-Pesa for mobile payments and deposits is expanding into South Africa, India and Eastern Europe; the Nordics have Swish (Nordea) and VIPPS (DnB) that allow P2P money transfers between consumers and to businesses. Meanwhile, Apple, has partnered with Mastercard and Goldman Sachs to launch Apple Card. Payments is a market Facebook will attack with Libra.

REMITTANCES MoneyTransfer was an early fintech play in the $600billion remittances market that revolutionised the cost of sending money

AT A GLANCE Lawrence Wintermeyer is a globally recognised digital finance advocate, working in alternative investment. For more than 20 years he has been running or advising businesses from startups to global brands. LINKEDIN:

lawrencewintermeyer/ TWITTER: @lwintermeyer


abroad. Fees have dropped from up to 17 per cent of the value of a transaction, to zero. No huge tech innovation here but great business model innovation. Apps use customer bank accounts for KYC/AML with the fintech taking its margin on the FX spread. Big players include XE, OFX and TransferWise. And, in future, maybe, Libra.

ALTERNATIVE LENDING Estimated at more than $200billion, P2P lending platforms often deploy more sophisticated, data-driven credit models than traditional banks and have much lower operating costs. Big players include Lending Club, Funding Circle and SoFi. Goldman Sachs’ Marcus is a new entrant and Amazon is looking at a new wave of SME lending.

BITCOIN, CRYPTO, DIGITAL ASSETS AND BLOCKCHAIN Bitcoin was launched on the blockchain following Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 whitepaper and the rest is history. Forecasts that this sector will cross the $25billion mark by 2025 seem grossly inadequate to me. Libra has awoken central banks, policymakers and regulators to the likelihood that a dominant, global, industry-led stablecoin may emerge. Market leaders include R3’s Corda platform partnering with Six, the Swiss stock exchange, to platform digital assets; JP Morgan’s coin for client payments; and Fidelity Digital Assets platform for institutional clients.

CHALLENGER BANKS More challenger banks have popped up in the past few years than you can shake a stick at. Greater flexibility around licensing

along with a new generation of banking infrastructure partners has reduced both statutory and working capital requirements. Market leaders include Chime, Revolut and Monzo, and while most are a long way from making a profit they are attracting new customers in an often inert marketplace.

TRADING & INVESTMENTS While robo advisors have not stolen an expected large share of the investment market, they are being widely deployed. Robo advisors in the US include Betterment, Wealthfront and Robinhood. In Europe, Blackrock-backed Scaleable Capital is partnering with big banks, while Nutmeg is the UK’s robo poster child. With the rise of passive investments and the race to the bottom on fees, technology is the best lifeline for wealth managers.

INNOVATIVE REGULATORS Following the crisis, the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK was given a competition mandate, heralding an era of regulatory innovation, starting with the Innovation Hub and the Regulatory Sandbox. Others across the world followed its example.

FINANCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE Open banking in the UK and PSD2 in Europe offer an interoperable data protocol for client data sharing that will change customer engagement forever. Data growth is also driving big data, machine learning and AI trends.

CHINESE FINTECH The rise of Chinese fintech over the past decade has seen Ant Financial become the highest valued fintech on the planet at $150billion. The China government’s commitment to blockchain is significant; there is a big push to use this technology to underpin the Belt and Road Initiative.


THE WORLD’S #1 FINTECH CITY (ACCORDING TO ME!) Brett King applies his own metrics to global ecosystems to come up with a very different order of magnitude I recognise that I’m not the first to embark on this endeavour. Indeed, Crunchbase published its own ranking of fintech ecosystems in December 2019 as the first of its kind to identify what it thought were the most innovative fintech cities. Unsurprisingly, it had San Francisco beating London and New York. What stood out to me was that this was a very westernised view of fintech. In China, according to research by both EY and Statista, fintech adoption rates peaked at 87 per cent of the population in 2019 and were as high as 92 per cent for certain segments of the market – whereas the UK trailed at 71 per cent of the population and

the USA didn’t even reach 50 per cent. While consumer fintech adoption is just one measure, it’s clear that fintech has affected far more citizens day-to-day in China and India than it has in the US or the UK outside of London. Lack of regulatory flexibility and incumbent lobbying of government has effectively slowed down consumer adoption in the US. There, it is a fight to disrupt; in China the disruption is embraced. While jobs created or VC dollars invested are great metrics, we could argue that the best fintech cities in the world must generate adoption of fintech across the broader population and, as a result, create demand for fintech services resulting in the growth of fintech companies, possibly unicorns. Thus, while I’m tempted to do a top 100 cities in fintech, let’s cover off the top 17 using the following metrics as a meld of previous rankings and available data:


Country-level consumer adoption – how can you call yourself a fintech


Hangzhou Shanghai San Francisco Beijing London Shenzhen New Delhi Atlanta Dongguan Stockholm Boston Berlin Chicago Amsterdam New York Hong Kong Singapore

Country adoption

Funding $million

Unicorns born

87% 87% 46% 87% 71% 87% 87% 46% 87% 64% 46% 64% 46% 73% 46% 67% 67%

$18,973 $18,973 $10,581 $18,973 $1,736 $18,973 $995 $10,581 $18,973 $573 $10,581 $716 $10,581 $320 $10,581 $430 $349

2 3 11 2 6 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0

Aggregate value (combined unicorns) $151bn $49bn $74.6bn $21bn $22.3bn $18bn $19bn $4.6bn $1.4bn $5.5bn $3bn $4bn $1.9bn $2.30bn $1.1bn $1bn –

AT A GLANCE Brett King is a futurist, an Amazon best-selling author, award-winning speaker, hosts a globally recognised radio show and is the CEO of challenger bank Moven. He focusses on how technology is disrupting business, changing behaviour and influencing society. WEBSITE: TWITTER: @BrettKing

city if your citizens aren’t adopting fintech in their daily lives? Venture capital investment over the last five years – investors need to see the city as attractive also, and continued investment sees an argument that both growth and ROI exists Unicorns born from the city, and value of – number of unicorns and aggregate valuations (at last round)

2 3

For level setting, the largest privately owned company in the world is Ant Financial, worth $150billion at the last valuation, and of the top 10 privately owned unicorns globally, five live in the US and five in China (based on 2018/2019 figures). As it stands, it’s pretty clear that neither London nor NYC nor San Francisco has a claim on being the centre of fintech globally. In fact, the number of cities that don’t align with traditional financial centres says a great deal about fintech disruption itself – it’s clear that old skills in finance have not translated into centres of fintech competency. ■ To read this article in full, go to THEFINTECHPOWER50




PAYMENT DOTS Serrala pushes the boundaries of traditional finance software by integrating finance and treasury into one central ecosystem of corporate payments Everything in business starts and ends with a payment. Whether received from a customer or sent to a supplier, payments are essential for moving cash into and out of an organisation quickly and accurately. But disjointed IT systems and payment processes are preventing many companies from maximising the benefits of digital transformation. A major US-based manufacturer recently expressed frustration with its inability to achieve a company-wide view of payments and its slow processing times. The problems were caused by the numerous enterprise and middleware solutions it used, which resulted in highly inefficient processes that were also vulnerable to fraudsters. Companies need to obtain a central view of cash flow. They know that connecting the dots is essential to make payment processes more efficient and secure. But how? Historically, this has been difficult because businesses have kept inbound and outbound payment processes separated from one another. However, recent innovation in payment technologies are breaking down these boundaries.

ESTABLISH A FRAUD PREVENTION BARRIER The key is to harmonise the IT architecture. Today, more companies are using hybrid IT models, which let them bring together fintech solutions with existing (on-premise) enterprise structures. Hybrid solutions can connect multiple systems easily through Cloud applications.


The idea is simple. With one, centralised system, everyone can use the same process and the same mandatory handling rules. Everything can be managed seamlessly from a central location. The advantage is having secure, end-to-end processes. It also creates an effective fraud prevention barrier because users have a single view of payments across all systems. System-wide, ‘always on’ fraud monitoring, analysis and early-warning tools make it easier to detect fraud before it happens.

CONNECT PAYMENTS SECURELY IN THE CLOUD The B2B software fintech Serrala guides companies through digital challenges like these with solutions that provide central control and visibility over payments. With a unique portfolio, Serrala enables clients to integrate all finance process into one, end-to-end ecosystem – starting with order to cash, ending with procure to pay, and supported by fully integrated cash and treasury management processes. Clients can rapidly adapt to new payment formats and standards, meet global


With a unique portfolio, Serrala enables clients to integrate all finance process into one end-to-end ecosystem – starting with order to cash, ending with procure to pay

payment regulations and security protocols, and benefit from the latest offerings from banks, payment service providers and payment channels. The flexible solutions connect and integrate multiple enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, including SAP, to create a single company-wide payment process. They can be deployed on-premise, as hybrid or full Cloud solutions, or as a managed automation service. Companies that use a hybrid model can quickly standardise processes across any existing enterprise and middleware solutions. With the broad suite of Cloud software and services, companies can easily connect the dots across systems to improve payment processing. All incoming and outgoing payments are visible and controlled within this new ecosystem of payments.

MANAGE BILLIONS OF PAYMENTS EVERY DAY Serrala continually innovates and pushes the boundaries of finance, integrating future technologies that accelerate B2B payments. Here are just three examples of that in action: ■ SEPA Instant API Co-developed with Deutsche Bank, this API allows users to initiate the SEPA Instant payments directly from their enterprise systems. It is an important step for companies that want to move from batch payments processing to realtime treasury. ■ Intelligent automation This enables companies to achieve a much higher level of automation than they could

using simple rule-based robotic process automation (RPA). For example, it can automatically match inbound payments and related information with open accounts receivable items. With its self-learning algorithms, it can automatically explore data connections, identify patterns and discover relationships. The benefit is in greater insights and process efficiency. Users require less effort to complete complex finance processing, planning and forecasting tasks, so they can manage billions of payments every day. ■ Fraud protection Securing B2B payments is just as important as innovating them. Fraud protection is a top priority in most organisations today. Intelligent fraud monitoring and compliance checks have become must-haves for finance departments, as cybercrime and fraud is becoming much more sophisticated. Automated risk management solutions by Serrala identify and block suspicious payments, based on best-practice or individually customised rules and thresholds, screen incoming cash for money laundering activities, conduct compliance list screenings and contribute overall to a higher business integrity.

INNOVATION DRIVER FOR THE FUTURE OF PAYMENTS Serrala has built its unique, broad portfolio based on more than 30 years of experience in B2B payments. Our enhanced technology empowers our customers’ digital transformation and enables finance and treasury teams to become highly efficient and innovative partners for their businesses. We help more than 2,500 customers around the globe, including 25 per cent of the Fortune Global 100 companies. As a fast-growing global player with 700-plus employees, we serve our clients out of 15 offices in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East. “We develop the next generation of financial software that includes future

technology such as digital assistants,” concludes Christoph Dubies, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at Serrala. “Such a comprehensive, end-to-end portfolio, covering all

processes related to inbound and outbound payments, treasury management, including the related data and documents, for corporates and banks from just one vendor is unparalleled.”



Serrala is a global B2B fintech software company that empowers organisations to create a future-proof ecosystem of payments and move their financial processes into the digital age.

COMPANY: Serrala

Serrala is the only provider of a seamlessly integrated portfolio of solutions to manage inbound and outbound payments, treasury processes and related data and documents. Customers in both the banking and corporate sector benefit from the end-to-end, holistic processes and sophisticated user experience provided by our award-winning solutions. Powered by intelligent automation and machine learning, Serrala solutions deliver complete cash visibility, secure financial processes and reliable fraud protection.

FOUNDED: 1984 CATEGORY: Financial automation software and services KEY PERSONNEL:

Christoph Dubies, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer (above) HEAD OFFICE: Hamburg, Germany ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +49 40 5148 080 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: TWITTER: @WeAreSerrala

WHAT WE DO We bring clarity to complexity THEFINTECHPOWER50


PAYMENTS WHERE THE CONSUMER LEADS, BUSINESS WILL FOLLOW The revolution that saw a liberation of payment choice for individuals is now an irresistible force in business banking, says Currencycloud The payments industry has seen massive innovation and disruption over the last five years and consumers are already reaping the benefits. However, the benefits to the business world have been slower to materialise and it will be fintechs who are the ones that truly deliver innovation to business. Banks that traditionally viewed fintechs as the ‘enemy’ are now considering them as valuable partners in helping them remain relevant for developing business audiences.


So, what is driving this change? Over the last five years, we have seen the proliferation of debit cards aimed at travellers; growth of online money transfer services; eruption of mobile-only neo-banks; big tech companies like Facebook racing to be the payment method of choice; digital wallets like AliPay and WeChat becoming ubiquitous across Asia, and growing in Africa and Latin America. Most recently, embedded payments continue to streamline the consumer experience. It is now only a matter of time before such consumer

innovation in payments reaches businesses through innovative fintech solutions and cooperation with banks. Most payments are still processed by traditional banks but the technology systems they use are as much as 50 years old and unable to deliver the ease of use and price performance demanded by consumers and businesses. With customers locked in and the cost of updating the IT stack high, the incentive for banks to innovate was almost non-existent… until recently. Now, change is afoot. In an effort to

C U R R E N C YC LO U D increase competition and develop a finance industry fit for purpose in the 21st century, UK and European regulators have introduced legislation that allows access to core customer information for third-party companies to deliver services previously monopolised by banks. At the same time, emerging technology and a belief among entrepreneurs that finance can be done better, has allowed third parties to create services that directly benefit business and compete for banks’ customers. For example, Currencycloud allows businesses to avoid some of the charges associated with international payments while delivering speed and transparency that the banks can’t offer. And while technology and regulation have seen massive change in the industry, perhaps the single biggest change is the customer themselves. Millennials and GenZ’ers, are the core of the future workforce. They are digital natives who have never known a world without social media, broadband and smart phones. They live in a world where

almost everything can be accomplished with a finger swipe on a smartphone. So, when a neobank like Monzo or Starling offers them the opportunity to bank on their mobile, help them budget, save and analyse their spending, they do it. When Apple allows them to pay for things


While technology and regulation have seen massive change in the industry, perhaps the single biggest change is the customer themselves straight from their phone or watch, they do it. When Revolut offers them savings on foreign exchange and cash withdrawals on holiday, they do it. When you see the ubiquity of digital wallets like Alipay and WeChat in Asia, you can see a future where the current big banks are no longer the core of the financial system. When these new services

WHO WE ARE Currencycloud’s technology is unlocking the global economy for payment platforms. It is the engine that helps businesses skip to the future. With us, you don’t need to build your own payment infrastructure or engage in lengthy banking negotiations to make international payments. Our platform allows clients to collect, convert, pay, and manage their crossborder experience using a cost-effective and simple solution that they can tailor to their needs. Today, Currencycloud has 85 different application programme interfaces (APIs) across four modules – collect, convert, manage and pay – covering the entire workflow in B2B crossborder payments. The as-a-service platform is proprietary and is fully Cloud-based on AWS. Launched in 2012, Currencycloud is headquartered in London and is regulated in Europe, the US and Canada,

make life simpler, easier, faster or cheaper, and as a business you’re comfortable with that environment, why stick with old, traditional, opaque and costly alternatives? The younger generations have shown they are happy to move around if new services save them money, time and convenience. As their responsibilities grow in business, they will adopt a similar approach to business banking. How do traditional banks adapt to make themselves attractive to these future business leaders? In the coming years, we expect to see disruption on the business side of payments similar to that seen for consumers. While businesses still rely heavily on banks, the banks must innovate to better serve business’ needs and the quickest route to delivering that is partnerships with fintechs. The cost of building and converting to new core banking technology is prohibitive but partnering with fintechs to create a new, digital-first brand is not. We are seeing more and more banks move in this direction. It is their lifeline to keeping their customers.

AT A GLANCE and has processed more than $50billion to more than 180 countries. We work with banks and fintechs globally, including Starling Bank, Standard Bank South Africa, Revolut and Brookline Bank. The Currencycloud team works side by side with clients to overcome hurdles, meaning companies realise their dreams quicker than they ever imagined. In 2019, Currencycloud grew to more than 350 customers and more than 200 employees. We also opened a new office in Cardiff alongside existing offices in London, New York and Amsterdam. Over the past year, Currencycloud is proud to have made the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 list of the fastest growing fintechs, and is honoured to have been named one of Tech Nation’s Future Fifty cohort.


Currencycloud FOUNDED: 2012 CATEGORY: Crossborder payments technology KEY PERSONNEL:

Mike Laven, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: EMEA, North America, APAC CONTACT: +44 203 3628173 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/the-currency-cloud/ TWITTER: @Currencycloud

WHAT WE DO Whatever your vision, we’ll help you realise it sooner than you could have imagined THEFINTECHPOWER50




The next-generation of solutions from SmartStream will take financial services into a new era, says CEO Haytham Kaddoura

So-called ‘gamechanging’ products can sometimes (rightly) be met with a degree of scepticism, a hesitancy to adopt as everyone waits for someone else to make the first move. That wasn’t the case with SmartStream AIR, the new reconciliation engine powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained on real-world data being used by global banks. In fact, the speed with which the market was willing to embrace SmartStream’s next-generation transaction lifecycle management solution pleasantly surprised even the CEO when it launched in late 2019. “In three months, we effectively had 49 leads, which is phenomenal – the pick-up speed was fast,” says Haytham Kaddoura. That level of interest not only was testament to pressure within the industry to find a truly robust solution to back-office data fatigue, but also vindicated SmartStream’s ‘wait and see’ strategy when it came to embedding AI into its managed services and products. Kaddoura explains: “People claimed AI was being used when what they had wasn’t really AI, or their solutions couldn’t really use it. We watched and waited.” But it wasn’t idle. In 2018, SmartStream set up an innovation lab in Vienna to act


as a test bed for a new generation of products that represent a quantum leap for the company. Staffed by mathematicians, applied data scientists and computer scientists, and working with clients as development partners, the lab’s focus is on evaluating artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as blockchain applications for use across SmartStream’s suite of products. That includes TLM Aurora, its existing digital payments control solution, which is widely deployed among Tier 1 institutions. Aurora’s reputation and the access to data that it gave to its artificially intelligent offspring AIR (which stands for AI In Reconciliation) provided SmartStream with a clear competitive advantage in that clients had a vested interest in working with the company to see just how far this new approach could take them.

“We consciously decided to work with a select number of Tier 1 institutions in the US, Europe and Asia to test confidence in this environment in all the markets in which they operate,” says Kaddoura. It signalled a new, collaborative approach to product development for the banks, which saw SmartStream sharing the room with their internal AI teams. “It really enhanced the bond between us and our clients,” Kaddoura adds. The mutual aim was to drive down costs and boost workflow efficiencies – taking advantage of advanced data

at it; it tends to get written off,” says Kaddoura. “Using AI, we can identify what’s wrong and provide the opportunity to put it right. That saving directly translates to the bottom line.” AI will now become central to SmartStream’s solutions offering with more AI roll outs expected over the


If you look at what banks are struggling, with, it’s enhanced operational efficiencies and reducing risks coming months, many of them giving users a high degree of flexibility, including modelling their own choices for one-off reconcilliations. AI’s forensic attention to detail and fast response time is key. “Most banks are looking at a massive increase in the levels of data they have to consider,” says Kaddoura. “Our ability to highlight what’s pertinent as opposed to them searching through several data points is increasingly

analytics to re-engineer traditional work models across middle and back-office processes. Reconcilliations was identified as one of the first AI user cases. “If you look at what banks are struggling with, it’s enhanced operational efficiencies and reducing risks,” says Kaddoura. Getting on top of both is made all the harder by increasing volumes of transaction data and the pressure of working in a real-time payments environment. The new iteration of TLM gives them clear site of what matters and elevates exception management to a whole new level. “If the transaction is relatively small value, banks do not have the time to look

important because that trickles all the way up to senior management. As a CEO I want to know what I’m looking at – whether it’s a particular issue around our cash position, for example, the exchange or the market. I don’t want to look at all three data points if there’s no exposure in two of them.” SmartStream has progressively moved towards Cloud hosting, using AWS for many of its services. And while there are ‘still institutions that are not comfortable with Cloud or the regulatory environment they are in does not allow for it, banks generally concur that this is where the industry is heading’. There is less consensus around blockchain. “In the case we are currently looking at, the technology is proven; it’s just a matter of extending it to the market,” says Kaddoura, who anticipates adoption will be slower. “Part of the challenge for the banks is the legal structure around it,” he says, “even if when you talk to the individual business units it’s fairly black and white. They can see the value.”



SmartStream is a recognised leader in financial transaction management solutions that enable firms to improve operational control, reduce costs, build new revenue streams, mitigate risk and comply accurately with regulations.

COMPANY: SmartStream

By helping its customers through their transformative digital strategies, SmartStream provides a range of solutions for the transaction lifecycle with artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies embedded – which can also be deployed in the Cloud or as managed services. As a result, more than 2,000 clients, including 70 of the world’s top 100 banks, rely on SmartStream Transaction Lifecycle Management (TLM®) solutions to deliver greater efficiency to their operations.

Technologies FOUNDED: 2000 CATEGORY: Technology solution provider KEY PERSONNEL:

Haytham Kaddoura, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +44 (0)20 7898 0600 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/smartstream-technologies/ TWITTER: @SmartStream_STP

WHAT WE DO The trusted solutions partner for today’s financial services THEFINTECHPOWER50



REACHING NEW HEIGHTS OF FINANCIAL INCLUSION Mobile banking provider Wing has helped local economies in Cambodia soar by giving individuals and businesses access to a flock of online and offline solutions Financial inclusion is critical to economic growth in Cambodia and, based on the statistics released by the National Bank of Cambodia, approximately 75 per cent of the population in the country is outside the formal banking sector. This has direct implications on the ability of the ‘unbanked’ and ‘underbanked’ population to access secure financial services; and they often resort to using unreliable third parties, for simple services like making a money transfer to their loved ones. Fintech as an industry has been revolutionary in making financial services accessible to both the unbanked and the underbanked in Cambodia with Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank being the forerunner in endorsing financial inclusion. Since its launch in 2009, Wing has established a robust mobile banking ecosystem that caters to the needs of Cambodia’s population across provinces by offering an array of services like money transfer, bill payment, phone top-ups, and online and offline cash payments. With a network of more than 7,300 Wing Cash Express agents country-wide, Wing


has helped improve access to financial services while directly influencing economies within communities. In Wing’s network of Wing Cash Express agents, approximately 80 per cent are stay-at-home mothers who use this opportunity to earn additional income to support their families while contributing to the local economy. “Empowering women to participate in the economy is key to closing the gender gap and Wing is committed to ensuring this inclusivity through its distribution network, products and services,” says Manu Rajan, Chief Executive Officer of Wing. Easing the process of initiating and expanding businesses, Wing’s enterprise business and Micro Finance Institute (MFI) partnership now allows farmers to access loans, paving a pathway for sustainable development of the agriculture sector. Further, taking into account the contribution of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to Cambodia’s economic strength and stability, Wing has taken the initiative to develop products specifically targeted at addressing unique challenges in this sector. Partnering with BanhJi Cambodia, an accounting solution for small businesses, Wing has integrated the accounting system with the services offered to SME clients. Access to a simplified accounting system through


Wing has established a robust mobile banking ecosystem that caters to the needs of Cambodia’s population across provinces

Wing now allows small businesses to have better financial understanding, helping them take their businesses forward. Cambodia, being one of the prominent hubs for outsourced manufacturing, has several associations/factories working for big brand names. Wing partnered with Cambodia Footwear Association (CFA) in August 2019, which will allow members, staff and workers of the association to have access to a variety of financial services, irrespective of their location and time. In addition, Wing is providing a payroll solution that has taken away the need for workers to queue up to get paid and for the factory owners to handle large amounts of cash on payday, making the process easy and cashless for everyone involved. Beyond the payroll solution, Wing has also partnered with more than 40,000 merchants, including restaurants, cinemas, clothes shops and others, allowing Wing account holders to pay using the Wing App. Wing continues to be the bank of choice for its service of inbound international money transfer, which was initiated in 2018. This service enables foreigners/ migrant workers residing outside Cambodia to make money transfers to the country, conveniently and securely. It addresses the pain point of going through unreliable and expensive informal channels and realises the bank’s commitment to provide Cambodians with affordable and convenient access to financial services. According to National Bank of Cambodia, funds sent back into the country from Cambodian migrant workers totalled $1.4billion in 2018 and the number is expected to rise in the coming years. As this is an important source of income

for many families, it is imperative to have access to a trustworthy entity that facilitates the process. Recently, Wing also introduced Wing2World, which is a new, outbound money transfer service, tapping in to more than 200 countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam. The new service is for thousands of migrant workers and their beneficiaries, as well as expats residing in the kingdom. With digital transformation underway in the country, growth has been phenomenal. The introduction of the latest financial technology has helped in reaching more

customers, SMEs becoming more efficient, and new ecommerce channels opening up, enabling business owners to pay their staff and suppliers more easily. Wing has worked to tap these opportunities and now has more than five

WHO WE ARE Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank is Cambodia’s leading mobile banking services provider. Established in 2009, Wing has transformed the way Cambodians send and receive money, using a mobile phone for anytime, anywhere convenience. Wing remains at the forefront of the mobile money and electronic payment services market in Cambodia with 100 per cent district coverage via its nationwide network of more than 7,300 Wing Cash Xpress outlets. It has partnerships with more than 40,000 merchants and global industry leaders, including Mastercard and WorldRemit. Wing also provides funds and payment solutions to the corporate sector via our enterprise services. With Wing, small and medium enterprises

million active users, including more than two million account holders, and generates an annual transaction value in excess of US$20billion. For continued growth, sustaining innovative financial solutions is crucial and Wing is committed to delivering on the expectations of its customer base.

AT A GLANCE (SMEs) can use Wing’s payroll and disbursement services for their employees, helping the growth and spread of payment ecosystems. It also recently announced the launch of a new service in Cambodia with MoneyGram International, Inc., one of the world’s largest money transfer companies, that will allow customers to receive funds directly into their mobile wallets. Wing was honoured in 2019 to have received the ASEAN Business Award (ABA) for Sustainable Social Enterprise for the third year in a row.

WHAT WE DO Cambodia’s leading mobile banking service provider

COMPANY: Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank FOUNDED: 2009 CATEGORY:

Mobile banking and mobile payments KEY PERSONNEL:

Manu Rajan, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: Phnom Penh, Cambodia ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +855 23 999 989 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN:

-cambodia-limited-specialised-bank/ TWITTER: @WINGCambodia



OMNIO There is a new power broker in town, determining strategy at the world’s banks and dictating how they design their services for the future: The Customer. Pre the global banking crisis in 2008, many banks operated through an internally focussed lens, which allowed management a direct line of sight into which products were selling well, at what profit, and demonstrated a clear product/owner accountability. While this perspective had its upsides, it often came at a cost – namely, a myopic vision of the market that blindsighted companies to key changes. It also tended to create siloed organisations that competed for customers without a coordinated approach. Lastly, more often than not, many of the poor customer experiences occurred because of this internally centric or product-centric focus. It is not surprising that, especially in the financial services arena, this model has been turned upside down by the mass adoption of digital and mobile technology and its ability to put power into the hands of the consumer. This more consumer-centric approach has


The three Ds benefitting consumers also give them the power to create new banking experiences – a kind of fourth dimension in financial services also facilitated the rise of challenger banking models from new entrants and from non-banks. We know that data is the new oil, fuelling a tech revolution, enabling both banks and non-banks to personalise services and how customers interact with these services. The resulting digital transformation is driving unparalleled disruption and democratising financial services, transforming the way people interact with their money. In the face of this huge market change, banks have had to adapt quickly and reinvent their business models to preserve the bottom line and to grow their customer base. Simultaneously, new challengers and

non-banks, such as Amazon and Apple, have also entered the market, winning market share by offering services that anticipate what their customers need and want, and then delivering these services in an innovative, user-friendly format. These non-banks have vast pools of data and insight, because they have already engaged with their customer through lifestyle touchpoints, which differentiates them from a traditional bank. This then enables them to develop more targeted, personalised and impactful services for their customer. For the banks to compete, they must start utilising Cloud-based software to enable nimbler product development and take a more flexible, personalised approach to service delivery. Traditional banks are thus investing heavily in scrapping antiquated legacy banking systems and building open platforms that enable creative product development to drive choice, personalisation and value for the customer. For non-banks, the opportunities offered by digital technology means they can deliver financial services that compete with traditional banks and build new

revenue streams while also making their service ‘stickier’ for their customers. By segmenting their customer groups into communities, according to lifestyle and life stages, ‘non-banks’ can target their services with precision and achieve greater impact than ever before. Uber Money is a prime example of this, where its digital wallet offers real-time payments for drivers, as opposed to previous systems where it took up to a week for payments to be received. Amazon and Apple have also realised they can leverage data to increase their relevancy at various touchpoints in their customers’ everyday lives, and by doing so they reinforce their brand value and become an embedded part of their customers’ world. Unlike traditional banks, the non-banks and challengers don’t have the cost and complexity of having to build their own technology platform. They are partnering with fintechs and technology platform providers, such as Omnio, whose Cloud-based banking platform is far more scalable and pliable than traditional legacy banking systems. This has enabled them to come to market fast and to tailor services to meet customers’ spending habits, lifestyle aspirations and future desires. It also means they can offer tools and services that personalise the banking offer, such as apps that track spending, and alert customers to unusual account activity, or to issues that require their attention (e.g. approaching overdraft limits). In-app tools also allow customers to save or segment their money into different accounts, giving customers greater control and allowing them to co-create their own banking experience.

EXTENDING INCLUSION The digital revolution that is changing the way we bank is also now changing who can use banking services by advancing financial inclusion. This democratisation is enabling services to be tailored to meet the needs of people who have previously been financially excluded. This doesn’t just include the unbanked – those who are unemployed, migrants or on a low-income – but also encompasses the under-banked – those who have a bank account but go outside

The digital revolution that is changing the way we bank is also now changing who can use banking services the bank for other financial services. The majority of people who are financially excluded nevertheless consider themselves to be digitally connected, so there is an opportunity for digital banking to link people with the financial services they need. Although we have witnessed incredible transformation of the banking sector since 2008, it is clear that the revolution is still underway. The combination of

WHO WE ARE We help ‘bankify’ ambitious businesses to deepen customer relationships and increase loyalty – enterprises such as post offices, airlines, travel companies and retailers, who are looking for new ways to engage and monetise their customer bases. Our platform propels these non-banks to enter a hyper-engaging financial services ecosystem made possible by our intuitive and flexible platform, that grows as you grow. We help supplement the offering of businesses with an array of new, tailored products, so they remain front-of-wallet as we fulfil our mission to find new ways to enrich people’s financial lives through technology – whatever they’re doing, wherever they are, every day. Through this more frequent engagement with an organisation’s customers, Omnio Global helps dramatically improve everyday relevance. ■ Our core, Cloud-based platform can replace legacy systems and launch new entrants into the digital banking market ■ Our bespoke payment solutions build on our industry relationships and scheme memberships, as we help enterprise customers grow and meet their ambitions

technology, data and new entrants disrupting traditional banking models and allowing customer-driven change has truly re-set the engine of the banking industry. And the focus now becomes, very importantly, The Customer. The last 10 years have been a story of banks and challengers shaking up traditional banking services. The next 10 will be a story of non-banks designing their services from a customer-centric perspective, and reinventing the way we manage our money using mobile platforms, apps and digital wallets. For the first time, the customer is firmly in the driving seat.

■ Our app solutions are a fast-track to innovation, drive loyalty and create new revenue opportunities for our customers, through seamless integration ■ Our deep understanding of the regulatory environment means we meticulously navigate the necessary compliance requirements together All of these create endless possibilities for deeper and more meaningful ways to engage with communities of customers.


banking service provider KEY PERSONNEL:

Adrian Cannon, CEO HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +44 (0)20 3397 1699 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/omnioglobal/ TWITTER: @OmnioGlobal

WHAT WE DO Help our clients’ customers do more with their money THEFINTECHPOWER50


NEWHORIZONS Galileo, the quiet, profitable payments powerhouse, is now ready to go big globally, writes CEO Clay Wilkes

Galileo’s global enterprise payments platform is the application programme interface (API) standard for card issuing. Through the combination of our flexible platform and powerful open APIs, we power world-leading fintechs, financial services and investment firms by removing the complexity of payments.


We make it fast and easy for businesses of every type and size (such as neobanks and gig economy companies) to innovate and deliver amazing financial services experiences to their customers. No other company offers Galileo’s breadth of capabilities, combined with flexible, API-first architecture. Using Galileo’s powerful APIs, clients launch physical or digital payments cards, create/manage accounts, authorise merchant payments and manage/calculate card balances. We also support our clients with industry-leading AI-based fraud protection, access to 20-plus US-based sponsoring banks, world-class dispute handling and more.

Fintechs powered by the Galileo platform include top neobanks Monzo (US business), KOHO (Canada) and Chime (US), along with fintech leaders Robinhood, TransferWise, Revolut and Varo, among others.

OPEN APIS AND THE SIMULATOR SANDBOX As an API-first business, we welcome all developers interested in creating payments products to give our open APIs a try and to test what they code in our simulator sandbox, which provides a secure environment for innovation and iteration. Access to our open APIs and sandbox is available

GALILEO free of charge and without obligation at Both experienced and first-time payments product developers find Galileo’s open APIs and sandbox intuitive and easy to use. Using embedded tools, they can instantly create single-click code fragments in popular programming languages to open test bank accounts and issue test cards – physical and virtual – with only a few lines of code. Should developers choose to further their relationship with Galileo, they can move their payments products and programmes to our production environment quickly and easily without duplication of effort. Of course, we hope that all the businesses these innovative developers represent choose to become Galileo clients. But, even if they’re using our open APIs and sandbox only to experiment, create a proof of concept or impress investors, we’re okay with that! We’re proud that our resources are being used to fuel creativity and innovation in the payments world, however that comes about.

INNOVATIVE NEW CAPABILITIES In addition to providing clients (and others) with building blocks to create

their own custom financial solutions, we recently introduced two innovative new capabilities: Galileo Money+ and Galileo Instant Issuing. Galileo Money+ empowers financial advisors to offer clients white-labelled bank accounts, debit cards and mobile apps, enabling them to compete for the $10trillion that US consumers keep in low- or no-interest bank deposits by offering their customers white-labelled, high-interest, FDIC-insured bank accounts for spending and wealth accumulation.

No other company offers Galileo’s breadth of capabilities, combined with flexible, API-first architecture Galileo Instant Issuing offers a fast, low-cost, hassle-free solution for any type or size of business to issue its own debit cards to employees or customers. By completely re-engineering and streamlining card issuance, we’ve created an environment that makes it possible for businesses of all types and sizes to offer their own self-branded debit card and app, including businesses for which payments


BUILDING ON OUR MOST SUCCESSFUL YEAR EVER 2019 was a big year for Galileo. In addition to launching the two new capabilities – Galileo Money+ and Galileo Instant Issuing – we raised a major institutional investment round led by Accel Partners with participation from Qualtrics Co-founder and CEO Ryan Smith to the value of $77million. The funding will help us double-down on innovation and also become more aggressive in expanding geographically, including in Latin America. The month after the fund raising, we announced we had opened offices in New York and San Francisco. As of September 2019, Galileo managed more than $26billion in annual payments volume, a 130 per cent increase over September 2018. In this era of fintech revolution, demand for our platform has been really strong, and revenue and profitability continue to increase. With more services in the pipeline and an aggressive roadmap for adding new platform features, we’re continuing to enable our clients to challenge the status quo in payments.


The Galileo Platform is uniquely architected for reliability, scalability and security, not silos. The platform is fully integrated (so we process debit, credit, prepaid, virtual card and digital transactions seamlessly) to handle the flow of funds with speed and precision for smooth, seamless settlement.

fast and intuitive, like instantly creating single-click code fragments in popular programming languages. Using our tools and powerful APIs, developers can create bank accounts and issue physical and virtual payments cards with only a few lines of code. Galileo’s key open APIs include:

Key to our platform are our open APIs, connecting you to the most powerful and sophisticated capabilities in fintech and payments, and free-to-use simulator sandbox where financial services developers can write, execute and test application code in a secure environment. As an API-centric platform created with developers in mind, we’ve embedded tools that cut development time to almost zero and make developers’ work

■ Galileo Program Master API to create sophisticated, integrated financial programmes quickly and easily – even for developers new to payments ■ Galileo Real-Time Events API, so you always know what’s happening in your portfolio ■ Galileo Authorisation Controller API to participate in advanced decisioning for your customers’ transaction activity

are an ingredient of their business model vs their entire business model.


API-based enterprise payments platform KEY PERSONNEL:

Clay Wilkes, CEO (right) HEAD OFFICE: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA ACTIVE IN: Global CONTACT: +1 8013 65 6060 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: galileo-financial-technologies/ TWITTER: @Galileo_Tweets

WHAT WE DO The API standard for card issuing THEFINTECHPOWER50


THE WORLD’S FRIENDLIEST FINTECH Bankable offers a modular approach to the architecture that banks need in order to innovate at scale. The secure middleware platform enables turnkey and bespoke solutions that can be easily developed and deployed. Working with financial institutions, corporates, marketplaces and fintechs, Bankable facilitates virtual or physical card programmes, real-time payments, crossborder payments, e-ledgers and account solutions. “We provide a banking-as-a-service platform that can serve different needs, from regulated entities like banks to non-regulated entities,” explains Eric Mouilleron, Founder and CEO. The platform uses white-label or


A pioneer of taking the collaborative approach in financial services, Bankable’s platform solves the multi-vendor puzzle

application programme interface (API) solutions, so it’s totally agnostic to the client’s use case. It can therefore work with clients’ existing geographic footprints and IT landscapes, taking a partnership approach to achieve their long-term business goals through digital transformation.

In April 2019, Bankable entered into a strategic partnership with global payments giant Visa. Its investment in the business will support the deployment of Bankable solutions to its clients and partners, helping financial institutions and banks to access real-time modular banking architecture around the world. This will help businesses to offer digital solutions and real-time payments, no matter where they are. With Bankable providing the platform for innovation – everything they need, in fact, to build a bank – clients can focus on key tasks such as brand and distribution. “We’re the one-stop shop,” says Mouilleron. “Usually, when you want to start something, you have to engage with multiple companies; it’s like a puzzle.

BANKABLE We deal with the puzzle. We’re one system where banks usually have thousands of them and never know which they have. In 10 years’ time, we’ll still have that one system.” The banking-as-a-service business is able to displace legacy solutions and can go live within a bank in just six months. Mouilleron argues that while banks must adapt, they are unlikely to be left behind. “If an organisation has survived more than 100 years, they’ve always had to adapt. One of our UK clients started 300 years ago, doing banking by candlelight – then came electricity, then the mobile phone. This is just another change. Large organisations adapt, even if they are slow." In fact, the top six banks have taken an even larger share of the market in the past 20 years, despite the advent of changes and challengers, says Mouilleron. “The concentration is still going up. So, while a lot of companies are challenging the status quo, they are growing alongside the incumbents.” Based on his interaction with banks over the last 18 months, Mouilleron says they are concerned with three key opportunities: they want to ‘be a Revolut or a Monzo – which we can do for them’; to create an offering for SMEs; or to create

a banking product for children. Bankable helps its clients to become more competitive through providing a platform for them to innovate and develop these new offerings. “Banks need to be closer to the customer,” says Mouilleron. “In the past, banks sold them products. Most customers don’t need all those products, they want something else: real-time solutions, interactions that are similar to their private

Banks need to adapt to the the new world, but their systems can’t always cope with that. That’s why we exist lives on Facebook or with other social platforms. Banks need to adapt to this new world, but their systems can’t always cope with that – and that’s why we exist.” Bankable helps its clients achieve their business goals by being a true partner, not a supplier who simply sells a product or solution. It’s been described as the ‘friendliest fintech’. “I believe we were the first in the world to promote collaboration with banks at a time when people were just saying ‘banks are bad’ and ‘we want to change them’. We are more pragmatic than that. “It’s a different mindset. If I’m a supplier

WHO WE ARE Bankable is a global architect of digital banking and payments solutions. We are a growing, international and diverse team of passionate people with strong expertise in the financial sector, transaction systems, information technology and security fields. We help financial institutions, corporates and fintechs deploy, orchestrate and operate payment and digital banking solutions with quick time-to-market. We enable virtual account services, e-wallets, card management, digital banking and processing services, as well as payment processing services. Bankable has a banking-as-a-service model, operating via a core banking

from a big vendor, I will try my best to maximise the revenues of my firm. But we’re here to maximise the customer experience by working with the bank. It’s a business transaction as well, of course: the success of our client is our success. But we don’t have big licensing fees. It’s all about transparency. And we’re extremely direct: we always start with the bad news, if there is any!” Looking to the future, Mouilleron says Bankable’s Visa partnership will be crucial to deploying its architecture for innovation across the world. The aim is to reach more and more banks, which means more and more distributors. “We connect global accounts with the help of Visa, so if you’re a company in 40 countries, we can issue one contract globally. For us, the priority is to go global. You can be small and global these days: it’s not like before when you had to be 1,000 people to start opening a branch,” Mouilleron adds. The organisation is headquartered in London but also has main offices in Dubai and New York, with another opening in Toronto soon to ensure the business is ‘domestic everywhere’. “All the fintechs want to go global one day and they will be able to go global on day one with us.” Written by Fintech Alliance

AT A GLANCE platform and an ecosystem of partners. Our platform is available as white label or via APIs. Our strong business case-based approach enables Bankable to provide our clients with quick time-to-market, offering a full turnkey solution, tailored to their business needs. By promoting pilot-based experimentation, Bankable allows its customers to quickly launch, test and validate a new service before moving towards a seamless deployment. Such a rapid implementation approach enables clients to generate revenues faster.


Banking as a service KEY PERSONNEL:

Eric Mouilleron, CEO & Founder (right) HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: Global WEBSITE: LINKEDIN: company/bankable/ TWITTER: @wearebankable

WHAT WE DO Meet the future of banking THEFINTECHPOWER50




Keepabl is on a mission to help stressed compliance and security teams with an award-winning, innovative GDPR-as-a-service solution Still managing privacy and security governance on a spreadsheet? Feeling the pain? Just as previous software as a service (SaaS) solutions have transformed sales, HR and accounting, Keepabl is leading the charge to transform compliance. Financial institutions have to deal with a steady stream of broad-hitting compliance requirements, putting stretched compliance, IT and security teams under constant pressure. At the core of almost every activity is personal data and so the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect on May 2018, is at the centre of every organisation’s governance, risk and compliance activities. GDPR’s territorial scope means it’s not just those in Europe who have to comply – it will continue to be a compliance requirement for UK financial services after Brexit, both directly for those processing data about individuals in Europe and because the UK plans to adopt it as the ‘UK GDPR’. But, more than a year after GDPR came into effect, survey after survey reveals how badly organisations are doing at GDPR compliance, how complex they find it, and how hard it is for them to find actionable advice and useful tech solutions. At the same time, GDPR fines into the tens of millions of euros are coming thick


and fast across Europe on all aspects of GDPR compliance over the data lifecycle. From over-collection of personal data, lack of transparency in processing, security failures and lack of accountability, to lack of retention procedures at the end of the cycle, regulators are turning up the pressure. With most financial institutions now including GDPR in their internal audit functions, and with GDPR firmly entrenched in vendor and investor due diligence, how can compliance teams and colleagues get GDPR under control in a simple and efficient way?


Our customers attest to achieving compliance faster and managing ongoing compliance across teams, advisers and borders more easily and efficiently Enter Keepabl’s award-winning compliance-as-service solution. Keepabl’s founder, Robert Baugh, spent more than 13 years as general counsel of high-growth, VC-backed, SaaS companies and felt first-hand the pain of translating complex compliance requirements into simple, achievable programmes while juggling other responsibilities in risk management and reward generation.

Baugh notes: “These decades of legal and SaaS expertise, and experience of compliance implementation, drive Keepabl’s culture and product philosophy. This is resonating both with those doing the day-to-day job of compliance in finance and those managing strategic risk. Our intuitive, customer-focussed GDPR-as-a-service solution is helping customers across the industry, from fintechs to asset managers, wealth managers, VCs and private equity.” Keepabl’s ‘product-led’ software gets incredibly positive and emotional responses when people see the solution – and we’re talking about data protection and security! According to Baugh: “When the product responds to and answers the pain and concerns felt by users, without being demanding or needing training, you get that emotional response. It’s very rewarding to see that we’re solving pain points and bringing efficiency to such an unloved area. “Keepabl’s aim is to use tech to solve people’s headaches as we deliver value through innovative SaaS solutions. I offer no apologies if that sounds flighty to some, as it’s incredibly apposite in these high-pressure times. Our service is underpinned by decades of deep expertise and experience. You can see

that reflected in our case studies as our customers attest to achieving compliance faster and managing ongoing compliance across teams, advisers and borders more easily and efficiently.” Keepabl’s solution helps across GDPR, including creating and maintaining data inventories, assessing and managing risk, vendors and breaches, to helping determine which breaches need notifying to regulators (the 72-hour deadline doesn’t stop overnight or at weekends) and affected individuals.

WHO WE ARE Keepabl’s compliance-as-a-service solution facilitates GDPR compliance and ongoing maintenance of privacy governance, which includes compliant use of processors, reducing data risk and helping to accelerate investment and revenue, for financial and other organisations, both public and private, of all sizes. Our holistic GDPR SaaS solution and Privacy Stack® is helping customers from private equity and VC through wealth management, asset management to fund advisors and fintech. Using Harvard Business School’s ‘Job to be done’ framework, and Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ framework, we designed a valued proprietary Cloud solution that advisers and customers want to use, drawing on years of legal expertise and customer experience in law firms and growth SaaS businesses, combined with Silicon Valley DNA. Keepabl is focussed on delivering the maximum insight and value to business and compliance professionals alike, recognising that GDPR is typically just one responsibility for the person in charge. With the GDPR all-in-one SaaS solution, Keepabl automatically creates required

GDPR records and KPIs, all instantly updated when you change your underlying records. Security is fundamental to GDPR, and Keepabl’s innovative breach solution allows for easy recording of suspected breaches and rapid breach management, with instant email alerts to your security team, an instant breach log, and guidance on notification. In just 14 months, we won GDPR Company of the year 2019 and five nominations for innovation, two for innovation in security. Having started with GDPR, we’re expanding to cover the Californian Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and information security, to have both privacy and security governance and breach management in one solution. Keepabl’s rapidly expanding reseller network includes a unique partnership with a global consultancy offering a virtual privacy officer role, helping customers identify GDPR gaps, remediate those gaps, carry out assessments, react rapidly to breaches and maintain ongoing compliance, all powered by Keepabl’s award-winning SaaS solution. Financial institutions can now offer that combined solution to their business banking and insurance customers, to manage data risk and accelerate rewards.

Covering California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a logical next step in 2020 as it is so closely based on GDPR. Recognising that no one vendor can cover all areas of compliance, Keepabl’s innovation has included creating the Privacy Stack®, an ecosystem of complementary providers across the range of privacy obligations, so that customers can picture what compliance looks like and easily find the right support. The Fintech Power 50 sees great opportunity for Keepabl’s future growth, given its differentiating and value-adding product philosophy, especially as it applies that philosophy to other compliance pain points, such as information and cybersecurity.

Keepabl’s Privacy Stack® ecosystem, with complementary providers for all aspects of GDPR compliance, keeps on growing. Latest partners include a leading password manager and 2FA service, and an award-winning regtech, which provides policy management to financial institutions.


as a service


Baugh, CEO (right)

HEAD OFFICE: London ACTIVE IN: EEA, USA and expanding CONTACT: +44 020 3870 2636 WEBSITE: LINKEDIN:


TWITTER: @Keepabl

WHAT WE DO GDPR made easy




OUR PARTNERS The Asian Banker DLA Piper Emerging Payments Association Fintech Sandpit Rise by Barclays Sky Parlour

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THE INFLUENCERS David Birch Ghela Boskovich Brett King Theodora Lau Jim Marous Devie Mohan David Parker Chris Skinner Ruth Wandhรถfer Lawrence Wintermeyer

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THE FINTECHS Bankable Bankifi Banking Circle Boss Insights Bottomline Technologies BUD Contis Crealogix Currencycloud EMQ Fingopay Flybits Form3 Funding Options Galileo GPS Grab IDnow Jumio Keepabl

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Konsentus Meniga Modularbank Nanopay Novastone OakNorth Omnio Global OneConnect OpenPayd Penguin Portals Responsive Salt Edge Serrala SmartStream Sphonic Tide Token WeSure Wing W2

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