UK Organisations Lead in Adopting Business Automation

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UiPath, the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software company, has released a new study that reveals the current and future progress of automation in organisations across the world.

The survey, entitled The Advance of Automation: business hopes, fears and realities, was developed in collaboration with The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU). It questioned senior executives of mid- and large-sized enterprises in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore and the United States.

Results from the survey revealed that the future is bright for the automation of business processes in the UK. The survey was broken down into ‘leaders’ – those making extensive use of automation technologies – and ‘laggards’ – those making moderate or limited use of automation. UK respondents were one of the four countries populating the leader pack (11%). The other leaders are Germany, France and the US.

67% of UK business executives report being satisfied with the results of their automation initiatives so far – and are experiencing business benefits as a result. 73% of UK firms expect their companies operating costs to improve as a result of automating business processes – whilst 65% predict revenue growth and 62% forecast increased profitability. As a nation, the UK is ahead of the curve when it comes to business automation. Nearly half (48%) of UK businesses describe their use of automation as ‘extensive’, whilst 48% describe their organisation’s progress with automation as advanced. 15% consider their progress to be very advanced.

73% of UK firms expect their companies operating costs to improve as a result of automating business processes

Globally, over 90 percent of businesses already use technology to automate business processes, and companies in every industry surveyed – including manufacturing, healthcare and financial services – find value in it. Furthermore, nearly one-in-ten businesses (88 percent) worldwide believe that automation will accelerate human achievement.

There are few fields of organisational activity that are untouched by automation. That’s because it’s enabling businesses in every industry around the world to drive efficiencies by replacing manual tasks with automated ones. In the UK, the share of business processes currently being automated is being dominated by IT operations (67%), followed by administrative work and office management (60%) and customer service (58%).

Key benefits observed from business process automation globally include:

  • Focused employee attention on less repetitive, mundane tasks (91 percent)
  • Increased capacity to handle volume (91 percent)
  • New revenue sourcing (85 percent)

In the UK, the share of business processes currently being automated is being dominated by IT operations (67%)

84 percent of respondents globally report that the c-suite is the driving force behind automation initiatives for their business, with the responsibility rolling up to the CEO (22 percent), CTO (29 percent) and CIO (17 percent). Over 70 percent of c-suite respondents also report that RPA and AI are a high or essential priority to meet their strategic objectives, predicting that it will make them more competitive as a business. Specifically, RPA is an extremely high priority to meet strategic objectives for 70% of UK businesses.

“Business usage of automation is accelerating and widening to create opportunities for growth, and is encouraging greater creativity and innovation from employees as a result. We are pleased to see that business process automation has made considerable headway – but there is clearly room for organisations to improve their use of automation. We look forward to helping businesses drive their automation further, given the massive benefits they could experience as a result,” Bruno Ferreira, Area Vice President, UK & Ireland.

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Fintech News Issue #226

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Can Elon Musk Turn The Human Brain Into A Connected Device?

https://www.pymnts.com/innovation/2019/elon-musk-human-brain-connected-device/
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It can never be said that Elon Musk has a problem thinking big. That can be seen from his early days as one of PayPal’s primary architects to the present day, when he divides his attention between a mission to space, solar energy and electric cars. Nor can it ever be claimed that Musk is not sufficiently colorful as innovators go. He’s not the only billionaire trying to master private space travel – but he is the only one who has publicly stated his goal to die on Mars (though preferably not on impact).

So it might have been easy to see some of this week’s headlines – “Elon Musk is making implants to link the brain with a smartphone” or “Elon Musk’s Next Wild Promise” – and shrug off the announcements as “Elon being Elon.”

That would be a shame, because Neuralink’s announcement that it had created a small robot capable of implanting ultra-thin threads deep in the human brain could be the start of a big development in how consumers use and relate to technology. The potential is a whole lot bigger than making it theoretically possible to telepathically control one’s smartphone.

Sure, Musk, who has invested $100 million in Neuralink, has something of a history of making bold (if not seemingly implausible) claims. But that doesn’t make his attempt to merge the human mind with sensors essentially capable of reading it – and wirelessly transmitting and translating the data – any less interesting (or potentially revolutionary).

That is, if it can work, which is still a jump ball at this point. Also up in the air is how desirable this kind of technology would be for ordinary consumers – some have questioned whether the concept of embedding sensors in one’s brain might be a little too science fiction for all but a very rarified subset of people. It might have medical applications, but very few commercial uses.

However, a quick look at some recent advancements – particularly in biometric technologies – could make one wonder whether Neuralink’s project might actually have more mass-market appeal than anticipated.

The Deep Brain Sensor

The big-picture project, as explained by Musk last week, is the ability to implant tiny Bluetooth-enabled chips into the human brain (up to 10 at a time) connected to 1,000 wires measuring one-tenth the width of a human hair. The chip(s) connect by Bluetooth to a small computer worn over the human ear, where it transmits its data. The chips, which will theoretically connect to a phone app that the user can control, will be very small, Musk emphasized.

“If you’re going to stick something in a brain, you want it to not be large,” he noted.

The machine that Neuralink rolled out last week could place both the chip and the wires in a subject’s brain.

As for what the implanted devices will be able to do, that is also a bit theoretical. Broadly, in the future, Max Hodak, Neuralink’s president and co-founder, agrees with Elon Musk that many of the advances would be medical in nature: helping stroke victims or people with prosthetic limbs or neurodegenerative conditions to regain and maintain function is one area with rich potential. Musk also mentioned applications like boosting memory or brainwave-based authentication, which were slightly more next-generation use cases than Hodak was willing to affirm.

In fact, Neuralink has thus far remained as low profile as possible, though they are now ready to begin coming into the public eye.

“We want this burden of stealth mode off of us, so that we can keep building and do things like normal people, such as publish papers,” Hodak noted.

Tests to surgically implant the device have not yet begun, and only when the systems are in place and beginning to work will Neuralink really know what their product can do. That journey will be a long and careful one – though Silicon Valley tends to like to move fast and break stuff when it comes to pushing innovations, medical science is generally more circumspect. Although they will be ready to start testing next year, Neuralink is quick to note that it could be years before the device’s medical potential can be clearly demonstrated.

And, of course, Musk has bigger visions for the technology. Helping patients is just the first step – during the announcement, Musk noted that he envisions a future where pretty much everyone will get these types of implants in order to stay competitive with artificial intelligence. In his ideal scenario, we will be nearly telepathic with one another – and with our technology.

Which leads to the obvious question: Is this a future that anyone but Elon Musk is actually looking to live, or is this sort of a “dying on Mars” type of desire? Many have concluded the latter is more theoretically desirable than actually filling a normal human need. And even if this were something human beings actually wanted, they don’t want to get it from a Silicon Valley company, especially given the Theranos debacle and Facebook’s many struggles with maintaining data privacy.

Perhaps that is a solid counterpoint – though a quick glance at some of the recent innovations we’ve seen in payments and commerce imply that consumers could be a bit more open to implanted tech than one might think, and perhaps less concerned about data privacy than media reports would have one believe.

Swedish Chips and Russian Data Harvesting 

If you find yourself thinking that no normal human being is looking to have technology physically implanted into themselves, we have one counter-argument for you.

Sweden.

Yes, the nation that brought ABBA to the world is working on its newest fad: implanting a microchip into one’s hand. Those NFC-enabled chips can save payments credentials, electronic door keys, emergency contact details, social media profiles or e-tickets. Instead of tapping a card or phone, people can just swipe the back of their hands.

Proponents of the tiny chips say they are safe, largely protected from hacking and small enough (about the size of a grain of rice) to have no negative physical impact. To get chipped, Swedish consumers pay about $180 to have the chip inserted via syringe into the skin above their thumb.

So many Swedes are reportedly lining up to get the microchips that the country’s main chipping company can’t keep up with the number of requests.

“Having different cards and tokens verifying your identity to a bunch of different systems just doesn’t make sense,” Jowan Osterlund, founder of Sweden’s large chip firm, Biohax International, told NPR. “Using a chip means that the hyper-connected surroundings that you live in every day can be streamlined.”

And though there have been concerns raised – particularly about the security of health information stored on the chips – consumers continue to embrace them due to their ease of use.

“The chip basically solves my problems,” said Szilvia Varszegi, 28, who also uses it to get into her coworking space. “I see no problem for [it] becoming mainstream. I think it’s something that can seriously make people’s lives better.”

Inserting one’s technology, it seems, is something consumers can get excited about. And though one might want to write this off as a peculiarity of Swedes – who as a national population seem to favor digital payments and payment technology solutions at a much higher than typical rate – the case could be made that Americans can get just as comfortable with technology, even when it comes with real privacy issues, if it proves to be useful enough.

Or, in some cases, fun enough.

Earlier this week, news emerged that the virally popular FaceApp Facebook app, which digitally ages users to give them a glimpse of their senior selves, is made by a Russian app firm that may be using the harvested data in a sketchy way.

Per the user agreement: “FaceApp may transfer information that we collect about you, including personal information, across borders and from your country or jurisdiction to other countries or jurisdictions around the world.”

That means one’s photo could be used overseas – and by the Russian government, which requires backdoors into the servers of most Russian-based tech firms, according to MarketWatch. If Russian authorities wanted access to data from Wireless Lab (the firm that makes FaceApp), they could easily access it.

Has this caused Facebook users to abandon FaceApp or protest en masse?

Not really. Though the app’s usage has slid a bit, Facebook users seem to keep using it, despite the fact that handing over an image of their face opens them up to potential facial recognition, according to MarketWatch.

So will consumers embrace Neuralink’s tech, even if it is a bit on the invasive side? It is possible that early critics are right: There is such a thing as a bridge too far, and technology that is actively seeking to read your mind – and actively broadcast its contents – might just qualify as such.

But then again, what if it proves to be really useful and helpful, and is able to make consumers smarter, or help their lives run more smoothly? It’s hard to say – but it is worth noting that 100 years ago, people refused to get into cars on the argument that a metal cage propelled forward by a series of small explosions was lunacy. Ideas change, and things that seemed impossible a few generations ago have settled into the “new normal” faster than one might have thought possible.

Especially if you live in Sweden.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

https://www.pymnts.com/innovation/2019/elon-musk-human-brain-connected-device/

Blockstream satellites, Locha mesh networking and the Bitcoin domesday scenario

https://dailyfintech.com/2019/07/20/blockstream-satellites-locha-mesh-networking-and-the-bitcoin-domesday-scenario/
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TLDR. Analog Bitcoin fans (aka Gold Bugs) like to talk about domesday scenarios where there is no Internet and so Bitcoin will be worthless. In the real world (as opposed to the talking heads circuit) it is not Bitcoin or Gold it is Bitcoin AND Gold. However nobody wants worthless Bitcoin. This update to The Blockchain Economy digital book describes Blockstream satellites and Locha mesh networking . These ventures and technologies ensure that you can still use cryptocurrencies even in the domesday scenario.

This update to The Blockchain Economy digital book covers:

  • Domesday Scenarios without Internet
  • Blockstream satellites
  • Locha Mesh networks
  • Context & References

Domesday scenario without Internet

The Chapter entitled Why BTC = USD1 million may be possible, but not desirable even for those with Bitcoin describes 4 scenarios that investors plan for, the 4th being what we refer to as the domesday scenario:

  • Scenario 4. Legacy Finance assets suffer a catastrophic decline and Bitcoin goes to zero. In that awful scenario, shelter, food & physical safety become critical and financial assets become only a distant memory and it is the gold part of your tail risk insurance that you rely upon.

Bitcoin can go to zero because a) it was always just a mirage or ponzi scheme or b) it becomes impossible to use because it requires Internet access and there is no Internet.

There are three ways we can be deprived of Internet access:

  • There is a catastrophic disaster from climate change or nuclear war or economic/societal collapse.
  • Your Government orders ISP’s to cut off Internet access for everybody (possibly to prevent a stateless challenge to their Fiat currency).
  • Your Government orders ISP’s to cut off Internet access for you (because you are viewed as an enemy of the state).

We look at the two technological solutions to this domesday scenario – one from above (satellites) and one from your neighbours on the ground (Locha Mesh networks).

Blockstream satellites

The Blockstream Satellite network broadcasts the Bitcoin blockchain around the world 24/7 for free, protecting against network interruptions and providing anyone in the world with the opportunity to use Bitcoin.

Blockstream is a private venture funded business with a lot at stake in Bitcoin. The theory is that even if the Internet is not available, you can still use Bitcoin via satellites. The problem is that as a centralised venture funded business, they are susceptible to pressure from Government.

Locha Mesh networks

This is a more ground up initiative coming out of Venezuela. The best introduction in the English language is this podcast interview. There is a lot about the political situation in this interview; if you want to skip to the tech, go to around minute 15.

101 on mesh networking: Traditional networks rely on a small number of wired access points or wireless hotspots to connect users. In a wireless mesh network, the network connection is spread out among dozens or even hundreds of wireless mesh nodes that “talk” to each other to share the network connection across a large area. Mesh networks use publicly available radio frequencies.

In short, wireless mesh networking is a decentralized, open permissionless network like Bitcoin ie nobody can shut it down.

This is an example of why this chapter describes The Path To Mainstream Adoption Of Bitcoin Is Not Through Legacy Finance Institutions, It Is Through The Excluded

Context & References

Why #GetOffZero Gets Sensible Investors To Look Seriously At Improbable Bitcoin Based Solutions.

Why BTC = USD1 million may be possible, but not desirable even for those with Bitcoin.

The Path To Mainstream Adoption Of Bitcoin Is Not Through Legacy Finance Institutions, It Is Through The Excluded

Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy.

I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post.

Subscribe by email to join other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research).

https://dailyfintech.com/2019/07/20/blockstream-satellites-locha-mesh-networking-and-the-bitcoin-domesday-scenario/

Russell E. Hogg, Former Mastercard President, Dies At 91

https://www.pymnts.com/personnel/2019/former-mastercard-president-russell-hogg-dies/
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The former president and CEO of Mastercard International has died at the age of 91.

Russell E. Hogg held the position from 1980 to 1988 and was pivotal to the company. In 1987, he shepherded a partnership with 13 Bank of China subsidiaries for the first Mastercard in China.

He was also instrumental in introducing the company’s “global family of products,” which included the Travel Check, Smart Card, Gold Card and the Debit Card. The Gold Card was named the world’s best in 1987.

“After 91 years on earth, our hearts are heavy as we share the news of Russell E. Hogg’s passing. A true icon in American business, Russ changed the course of the credit card industry forever. He was forward-thinking, innovative and worked tirelessly to shape some of the greatest companies in the world,” the Hogg family said in a statement. “A devoted husband, father and grandfather, Russ was a man of integrity, strong moral values and compassion. He passed peacefully at his home surrounded by his family and loved ones.”

Hogg served on a number of corporate boards, including Mastercard International, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Reichhold Chemical and up-and-coming eCommerce companies like Revolution Money.

Before joining Mastercard, Hogg was a senior financial officer at American Airlines. He then went to work at American Express, where he had a senior leadership role with responsibilities for both international and U.S. operations. Hogg was also a group executive at Macmillan, where he was responsible for upwards of 50 subsidiary operations in more than 40 countries.

“Words cannot express the impact Russ had on the lives he touched. Outside of his business and entrepreneur endeavors, Russ was a dedicated philanthropist and worked to create opportunities that advanced creative thinking and innovation amongst today’s youth,” the family said. “Russ was a trailblazer who revolutionized the world around him. The values he instilled in our family will carry on for generations to come. We are blessed to have had our time with him and appreciate the outpouring of love and support at this time.”

When Hogg was a young man of 17, he served his country in the Navy during World War II. He went to the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and the University of Rhode Island, a school that awarded him with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1986.

After graduation, Hogg became a special agent with the FBI and held several supervisory positions. According to his biography, he was instrumental in the capture of a major Russian spy.

Hogg’s altruistic side was demonstrated by his participation on several philanthropic boards, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and the Hackley School. He has received numerous commendations and awards throughout his life.

Hogg married his wife Dorothy in 1969, who survives him along with his son Jason and his two grandchildren, FJ and Carter.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

https://www.pymnts.com/personnel/2019/former-mastercard-president-russell-hogg-dies/

Germany’s FlixMobility Reaches $2B Valuation With Massive Funding Round

https://www.pymnts.com/news/investment-tracker/2019/germany-flixmobility-2b-valuation-funding/
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https://www.pymnts.com/news/investment-tracker/2019/germany-flixmobility-2b-valuation-funding/

Mambu Strikes First Deal in Brazil; Twisto Sets Sights on Poland

https://finovate.com/mambu-strikes-first-deal-in-brazil-twisto-sets-sights-on-poland/
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As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global: Fintech News from Around the World is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian financial services marketplace MyMoneyMantra raises $15 million in funding.
  • Razorpay, a payments solutions provider based in India, reports a 40% increase in the number of digital transactions in the country during the second quarter of 2019.
  • Credit Suisse and NASSCOM agree to promote the growth of Indian fintech startups.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mambu forges partnership with its first Brazilian customer, Acesso.
  • MercadoLibre announces plan to allow users of its e-wallet in Mexico to earn interest on funds saved on the app.
  • Bloomberg looks at Goldman Sachs’ Special Situations Group and its pursuit of investment opportunities among Latin American fintechs.

Asia-Pacific

  • China Merchant Bank to deploy regulatory reporting technology from Wolters Kluwer.
  • Philippines Union Bank picks Refinitiv to power its electronic trading business.
  • Samsung partners with a cohort of South Korean banks on a blockchain-based digital identity project.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Central Bank of Kenya reaches fintech cooperation agreement with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
  • Standard Bank leverages mobile teller technology from Infosys Finacle.
  • Kenyan payment solutions provider WAPI Pay pledges to support faster adoption of Wechat Pay and Alipay across Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Czech Republic’s Twisto announces plans to expand to Poland this fall, with expansion to Romania to follow.
  • Revolut makes Apple Pay available to its customers in Hungary.
  • Austrian insurtech Bsurance and fintech Cashpresso team up to provide automatic buyer protection Cashpresso customers.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Nasdaq and Iraq Stock Exchange ink new market technology agreement.
  • Emirates NBD’s Liv leverages gamification to raise money for charity.
  • Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority issues guidelines for robo advisors operating in ADGM.

Top image designed by Freepik

https://finovate.com/mambu-strikes-first-deal-in-brazil-twisto-sets-sights-on-poland/

Fifth Third Bank to debut mobile banking kiosk at NAACP convention

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/fifth-third-bank-to-debut-mobile-banking-kiosk-at-naacp-convention/
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Fifth Third Bank to debut mobile banking kiosk at NAACP convention

Photo courtesy of Fifth Third Bank.

Fifth Third Bank said it will debut its Banking to Go mobile kiosk, which brings banking services to low-to-moderate income communities, at the 110th annual NAACP convention July 20-24 at the Detroit Marriott at Renaissance Center in Detroit. 

The bank has previously served these communities with a Financial Empowerment Mobile, also known as an eBus, to serve as a financial classroom for residents. The eBus and the Banking to Go kiosk include Wi-Fi and computers to give residents the ability to open accounts, get a copy of their credit report, obtain small business services, homebuyer information and job search resources. 

“Fifth Third is committed to helping people achieve their best lives through responsible financial solutions,” Byna Elliot, chief corporate community and economic development officer at Fifth Third Bank, said in the press release. “The mobile kiosk helps us to address the community’s needs and ensure we are delivering retail services and products in a way that is accessible to them in areas where they live and work.”

 


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Future of Finance Series, episode 3: How the Bank of England envisages portable data and an SME finance platform creating “Open Finance”

http://www.linklaters.com/en/insights/blogs/fintechlinks/2019/july/future-of-finance/how-the-bank-of-england-envisages-portable-data-and-an-sme-finance-platform-creating-open-finance
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One of the nine core themes of the Future of Finance report is “Supporting the data economy through standards and protocols”. A key recommendation for how to achieve this is for the Bank to “support better credit files for SMEs”. We examine the Bank’s response, in particular its eye-catching proposal for a national SME financing platform, and consider some of the regulatory and legal issues.

This is the third instalment in our Future of Finance Series, which looks at Huw van Steenis’ Future of Finance Report, the Bank’s response to it and Mark Carney’s supporting Mansion House speech. All quotes in this post are from these sources.
“New Finance” involves “Open Finance” for SMEs

The key thrust of the FoF report is the need for a “new finance” and a “new Bank” to enable a “new economy”. This vision of “new finance” in a digital economy is of a financial system which is “more efficient, fair and accessible”.

The FoF report develops a theme around the role of “data standards and protocols” in enabling innovation, opening-up markets to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of finance in this new economy and addressing existing challenges such as the £22 billion SME financing gap.

As pointed out by Mark Carney in his speech, this funding gap has arisen because SMEs face a number of barriers in raising finance, including borrowing against intangible assets, a lack of historic data for credit scoring and the burdensome nature of Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer Checks. In the world of Big Data the solution to reducing these barriers lies in better leveraging of customer data.

What is “Open Finance”? 

In its response to the FoF’s recommendation to “support better credit files for SMEs”, the Bank develops the theme of data standards and protocols within the concept of “Open Finance”. This essentially envisages the extension of the existing policy of data sharing through open banking – the pro-competition focused requirement for banks to share certain customer data – to much wider data sets.

In examining how Open Finance might be delivered the Bank focuses on two key aspects:

  1. creating richer customer data sets (capturing data held at utilities companies, search, rating and social media data, and data from public sources, such as the Passport Office, DVLA, HMRC and Companies House) which can be easily shared with a broader array of potential finance providers through portable credit files, Legal Entity Identifiers and API technology; and
  2. ensuring greater access to finance for small businesses and individuals through a dedicated finance platform for SME financing.

What is the open platform? 

A priority area for action

The Bank’s most eye-catching commitment, and one of its 5 priority areas for action, is its proposal to support the development of an “open platform” to deliver better access to finance. It aims to do this by bringing together a global identify standards and safe, secure and permissioned method of sharing information; this open platform could harness novel data sources and advanced analytics to provide SMEs with more choice and better access to productive finance.

Role of the Bank

Given its role at the heart of the UK payments system the Bank sees itself as the facilitator of change – using its “levers” to promote data standards and improved digital identification. Whilst Mark Carney suggests that “It’s not for the Bank of England to build this platform but we can help lay some of the groundwork” and the Bank suggests it is a job for “Government and business”, it’s not clear who the likeliest candidates will be to construct the “Open Platform” or whether the initiative will be led by industry or government. In terms of data sharing it is also not clear exactly how the significant challenge of “linking public sources” of data could be achieved in practice.

Examples of finance platforms in action

The FoF report points to China as an example of how data and technology can be leveraged by platforms to provide access to finance and also cites specific examples of finance platforms in action, including:

  • Ant Financial using an array of data sourced from related social media and marketplace platforms to offer credit to those that have been previously underserved by finance.
  • Amazon extending trade credit to businesses selling on its marketplace. 
  • PayPal is extending credit to online customers at the point of sale.
Regulatory and legal issues

The Bank notes that the policy of open banking “is already beginning to change how the UK financial system uses data” and “has demonstrated the potential for sharing data security around the financial system in a standardised way through an API”. However, the original policy of open banking was championed by the Competition and Markets Authority and mandated by regulation, so it seems reasonable to question whether the open platform will require something similar to be successful? It is perhaps instructive that the examples provided in the FoF report relate to platforms created by single private actors rather than on a broader industry basis.

Irrespective of how the open platform is put together, drawing on our experience of working with finance platforms, we suggest that there will be a range of legal issues to navigate, from the commercial arrangements and ownership structure, to considerations around data-sharing, data-security, competition, regulatory licensing and apportioning liability.  

Next up in our Future of Finance Series

In the next instalment of our Future of Finance Series we will look at what the growth and liberalisation of emerging markets may mean for the UK.
Stay tuned by signing up to our FintechLinks blog.

http://www.linklaters.com/en/insights/blogs/fintechlinks/2019/july/future-of-finance/how-the-bank-of-england-envisages-portable-data-and-an-sme-finance-platform-creating-open-finance

MoneyGram And Sentbe Team On Cross-Border Payments

https://www.pymnts.com/news/partnerships-acquisitions/2019/moneygram-sentbe-team-cross-border-payments/
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MoneyGram and Korean money transfer company Sentbe have signed a partnership to make Sentbe the first MoneyGram virtual agent in South Korea, according to a release

Sentbe has done billions of local transactions, and MoneyGram says the company lines up with its own goal of giving customers a broad range of options when it comes to digital currency transfers. 

Sentbe, which is based in South Korea, wants to improve cross-border person-to-person money transfers by using new technology. The company is licensed as a financial institution in South Korea and works to give everyday users financial opportunities they might not be able to get in the current financial system. 

“Enhancing our product offering in South Korea is a strategic move that accelerates our digital transformation in the region,” said Yogesh Sangle, MoneyGram head of APAC and South Asia. “With an increasing number of foreign residents and growing numbers of working populations from neighboring Asian countries, working with Sentbe will further improve financial inclusion in South Korea and we are proud to share a legacy of customer commitment through this collaboration.”

Alex Choi, CEO of Sentbe, said the partnership enhances what the company already has to offer. 

“Innovation that simplifies the money transfer process is our top priority and there is not a more perfect time than now to embark on this move with MoneyGram,” Choi said. “We are now in an even better position to meet demand for tech-savvy solutions within this space and look forward to the change this will bring to the diverse community we serve.”

Moneygram also recently teamed up with Canada Post for a digital money transfer service that allows users to complete transactions at select Canada Post locations all over the country.

“To initiate a transaction, consumers simply visit moneygram.ca, create a profile, start a transaction and choose the ‘Cash at a Location’ option,” a release said. “From there, users visit one of Canada Posts more than 5,200 locations that offer MoneyGram services to complete their transaction. For added convenience and security, consumers can use the provided barcode, which contains their transaction details.”

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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/partnerships-acquisitions/2019/moneygram-sentbe-team-cross-border-payments/

Walmart Announces Exec Changes To Support Omnichannel Retail

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/walmart-executive-changes-omnichannel-retail/
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Walmart is making some organizational adjustments with its executives to help better integrate its retail store and digital operations, according to a report by CNBC.

The information was gleaned from a letter that CEO Doug McMillon wrote to the company’s employees, which was obtained by CNBC.

“Our customers want one, seamless Walmart experience,” McMillon wrote to employees. “Earning more of our customers’ business in food and consumables is foundational to our strategy, and, at the same time, we will expand our ability to serve them with general merchandise in stores and through our broad eCommerce assortment as we continue to invest [in] and build our eCommerce business.”

The company has been pushing to better integrate its online and physical divisions ever since it acquired Jet.com in 2016. The company recently hired Chief Technology Officer Suresh Kamar and Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside. Whiteside previously worked at American Express and Kamar has worked at Google and Amazon.

The company is joining the U.S. supply chain teams, which will be helmed by current Executive VP of U.S. Supply Chain Greg Smith. Smith will report to President and CEO Greg Foran and Head of U.S. eCommerce Marc Lore.

Nate Faust, who came to Walmart as part of the Jet.com acquisition, will be helping with the transitions until he gets a new position in the company. Twelve executives from other departments will be named to the new supply chain team.

“We take these steps knowing we will make further adjustments over time as we balance the need for focus and speed with efficiency and leverage,” McMillon wrote. “The work so many of you have done over these past few years to strengthen our stores and build an eCommerce business have put us in a strong position that enables us to move forward on this journey. Please join us in congratulating these leaders on their new roles. Thank you and let’s keep the momentum going!”

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/walmart-executive-changes-omnichannel-retail/

Jollypay Gets License To Operate In The UAE

https://www.pymnts.com/news/international/2019/jollypay-gets-license-to-operate-in-uae/
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Online payment system Jollypay has received a license to operate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and it’s one of the first foreign companies to do so, according to a release.  

Jollypay is the payment arm of Jollychic, a shopping platform. It was started in 2017 to aid in the company’s creation of a payment and services endeavor. 

The UAE government recently decided to let foreign companies registered in the UAE’s 122 business sectors have 100 percent ownership, and that initiative was a catalyst for Jollypay’s further integration into the country’s financial system.

The move could help Jollypay potentially become one of the most popular payment options for smartphone users and developers in the country and beyond.

“Our long experience in the Arabic market, specifically in the UAE with Jollychic, has given us the push to develop more technical mechanisms to serve the Arab and Emirati user and to provide easy and secure e-payments,” said Jollypay Chief Operation Officer Liu Yang. “In cooperation with the GCC and local governments to develop this technology, we will transform UAE society into a ‘cashless society’ by building a new financial ecosystem in the Middle East.”

The Jollypay platform was built by a team that has a variety of backgrounds, including multinational banks, online payment companies, digital financial companies, bank security operations and other specific payment-related organizations.

In other UAE-related news, the First Abu Dhabi Bank recently rolled out a payroll card solution for the market via its Mercury payment operator unit.

Mercury collaborated with Al Fardan Exchange and introduced the Payez payroll card to participants of the UAE’s Wages Protection System (WPS). Al Fardan Exchange’s WPS customers can now more easily access wages, use Mercury point-of-sale (POS) terminals and access cash from Mercury ATMs through the use of the Payez payroll card, the companies said.

WPS is a digital salary transfer system supporting the payout of wages through authorized agents, approved by the Central Bank of UAE, including banks, money exchanges and financial institutions.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/international/2019/jollypay-gets-license-to-operate-in-uae/

Weekly Wrap: Big banks address Libra as challengers seek to lure customers

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/operations/cap-fund/weekly-wrap-big-banks-address-libra-as-challengers-seek-to-lure-customers/
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Welcome to the first episode of our new weekly wrap video series, for the week ending July 19, 2019. In this episode, Suman Bhattacharyya, deputy editor of Bank Innovation, discusses the following news developments:

  • How bank executives, including JPMorgan Chase and Citibank, are beginning to address Facebook’s planned digital currency Libra in their earnings calls
  • How challenger banks like Germany’s N26 and Varo are setting their sights on traditional U.S. banking consumers and raising more capital from eager investors

View the full video here:

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/operations/cap-fund/weekly-wrap-big-banks-address-libra-as-challengers-seek-to-lure-customers/

BofAML: Apple App Store Revenue Accelerates Slightly

https://www.pymnts.com/apple/2019/bofaml-app-store-revenue-accelerates-slightly/
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Apple’s App Store revenue exhibited a bit of acceleration in the third quarter, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) said. The bank indicated that, according to third-party data, App Store revenue increased 18 percent in the third quarter compared to 17 percent growth in the second quarter, per SeekingAlpha.

However, BofAML indicated that Chinese App Store sales are still a concern with a “material deceleration” coming out of the quarter that is “a concerning trend given that Services is based on installed base usage.” The bank maintains a buy rating, and Nomura increases its target for Apple to $180 from $175 but keeps a neutral rating with a slow finish to the Xs cycle and steady growth in the App store.

While Apple’s App Store continues to outpace the Google Play Store in terms of consumer spending, total app revenue for both stores came to $39.7 billion globally per recent reports. That number represents the first half of the year, and it’s a rise of 15.4 percent from the $34.4 billion from the same time period in 2018.

Worldwide users spent approximately $25.5 billion in the App Store — a 13.2 percent year-over-year increase from 2018. That number is 80 percent higher than Google Play’s $14.2 billion in estimated revenue, which is almost 20 percent higher than it was a year prior. Total growth overall is down due to slower China iOS growth, however, analysts said they think China will get back to positive growth in the next year.

Another factor in the downturn could be the decision by Netflix to stop in-app subscriptions for both the Play Store as well as the App Store. The numbers will steadily decline, especially because Netflix was the second-biggest non-game app when it comes to earnings in the first half of 2019 at $339 million. That number is down from $459 million a year ago, at the time that it was the No. 1 non-game earner.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

https://www.pymnts.com/apple/2019/bofaml-app-store-revenue-accelerates-slightly/

BMW Teams With Tencent In China Self-Driving Tech Push

https://www.pymnts.com/news/international/2019/bmw-tencent-china-self-driving-tech/
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BMW has been expanding into China and developing autonomous technology for cars, so that it can be at the forefront of the technology when the self-driving wave hits the mainstream.

The company has teamed up with tech giant Tencent for data computing and also a storage platform, because Chinese law says foreign companies can’t host Chinese data without a partnership with a local outfit, according to a report by TechCrunch

The two companies will have a computing center in Tianjin by the end of 2019, and in the meantime BMW has been steadily expanding its footprint in the autonomous passenger car data market. 

In February, the company’s navigation app Here teamed up with Chinese service Navinfo to collect local data about China. Both Navinfo and Tencent have bought shares in Here, so the partnership was expected.

Tencent has been seeking to diversify lately and put more attention on outside operations as its gaming business comes under increased scrutiny from regulators. 

“Tencent is committed to assisting automotive companies in the digital transformation,” said Dowson Tong, the company’s president of Cloud and Smart Industry.

The move by BMW illustrates its commitment to the autonomous vehicle market in China. The company has been working with Baidu, China’s largest search engine company, since 2014.

The partnership was upped when BMW joined Baidu’s self-driving platform called Apollo, and the deal happened as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany.

Baidu president Zhang Yaqin said the deal with BMW was created to “accelerate the development of autonomous driving technologies that align with the Chinese market.”

BMW has also previously worked with Tencent on joint research for security with autonomous driving and testing, which used Tencent’s storied Keen Security Lab.

While Baidu and Tencent aren’t direct competitors, both companies are pushing in the field of autonomous technology in one way or another. In China, it’s common for a foreign investor to work with two different companies. BMW said that “there is no overlap in the collaboration” and it’s “cooperating with different top-notch Chinese companies in different fields.”

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/international/2019/bmw-tencent-china-self-driving-tech/

Urban FT Group acquires CFC Technology to boost remote capture banking capabilities

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/urban-ft-group-acquires-cfc-technology-to-boost-remote-capture-banking-capabilities/
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Urban FT Group Inc. said it acquired CFC Technology Group, a Minneapolis-based firm that specializes in remote deposit capture services for credit unions and community banks. 

CFC serves more than 800 financial institutions and thousands of merchants and will complement Urban FT Group’s prior acquisition of iParse in 2017 and the acquisition of certain assets from Digiliti in 2018. 

Regional and community banks have clients like real estate agents, medical offices and other businesses that stilll receive a large number of checks, Richard Steggall, CEO of Urban FT, told Mobile Payments Today via email. 

“To provide their small business clients with a streamlined method to deposit and access funds, the services provided by CFC address an ongoing need, and Urban FT will make these services available to its entire base of bank and credit union clients,” he said in an email.  

He added that the CFC brand name will slowly be fazed out an Urban FT product suite enlarged. 


 


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https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/urban-ft-group-acquires-cfc-technology-to-boost-remote-capture-banking-capabilities/

Amazon Threatens Suit Against Surescripts For Denying Patient Data to PillPack

https://www.pymnts.com/legal/2019/amazon-pillpack-lawsuit-surescripts-patient-data/
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Amazon’s pharmacy arm PillPack could soon be blocked from accessing patients’ histories, pitting the online giant against Surescripts, an electronic prescribing company that manages about 80 percent of all U.S. prescriptions, sources told CNBC.

PillPack uses patients’ prescription data to inform them of possible medication interactions, side effects, duplications and other details important to health and safety. The data comes from Surescripts, which is owned by CVS, Express Scripts and other PillPack competitors.

Surescripts is working behind the scenes to prevent PillPack from accessing the prescription data, the source said.

According to CNBC, two people familiar with the matter said PillPack was told it will soon be cut off from accessing that data from third-party entity ReMyHealth, which collects information from Surescripts and cleans it up.

“PillPack is productively working with partners across the healthcare industry to help people throughout the U.S. who can benefit from a better pharmacy experience,” Jacquelyn Miller, a PillPack spokesperson, told the news outlet. “While we’re not surprised when powerful incumbents try to undermine these efforts, we are confident that our collaborative approach to bringing customers more choice, more convenience and improved quality will ultimately prevail.”

Surescripts said in a statement that medication history “can reveal a lot about an individual’s health status, including the most sensitive of healthcare conditions.”

This dispute is the latest between Amazon and established pharmacies since the company’s near $1 billion purchase of PillPack in June 2018. A judge ruled that a former CVS employee had to wait 18 months before taking a job at PillPack following a June lawsuit filed by CVS.

Amazon has been steadily expanding into the healthcare field, and recently added HIPAA-compliant features to Alexa. The company has also partnered with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan on a healthcare initiative called Haven.

Surescripts was sued in April by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for monopolization of the e-prescription markets, Law360 reported. Surescripts filed a motion to dismiss the case on July 15, stating that the FTC doesn’t have jurisdiction and can’t demonstrate the harm caused.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

https://www.pymnts.com/legal/2019/amazon-pillpack-lawsuit-surescripts-patient-data/

EU payment providers grapple with two-factor authentication requirements

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/operations/comp-reg/eu-payment-providers-grapple-with-two-factor-authentication-requirements/
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Digital payments in the European Union will soon require an extra step to verify the identity of the purchaser, and banks are trying to figure out a way to not create too much of a burden for the consumer. Banks, merchants and payment providers need to comply with the EU’s new authentication requirements for e-commerce …Read More

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https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/operations/comp-reg/eu-payment-providers-grapple-with-two-factor-authentication-requirements/