OCC Realigns With Two New Units For Bank Oversight

https://www.pymnts.com/bank-regulation/2019/occ-realigns-with-two-new-units-for-bank-oversight/

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has announced that it’s going to realign about 150 staff members in two new units, the organization said in a press release.  

The two units will consolidate bank supervision support, risk analysis, and oversight of national trust banks and important service providers.

“This realignment will improve the agency’s ability to supervise the federal banking system by aligning like work, eliminating redundancies, and ensuring the OCC presents a single voice to supervised institutions,” Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said. “In addition, this work will contribute to our strategic goal of operating the agency as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

The move was several months in the making and helped on by analysis of the department’s functions.

The first unit will be Supervision System and Analytical Support, and it’s made up of supervisory information system teams, data management, business intelligence, risk analysis and supervision risk management workers from other OCC units. It will support the whole agency and cover issues nationally. Deputy Comptroller for Supervision Risk Management Bob Phelps has been chosen to run the new unit.  

The second unit is Systemic Risk Identification Support and Specialty Supervision. It joins the lead experts from Large Bank Supervision and Midsize Bank Supervision and other teams that supervise trust companies from the Northeastern District National Trust Banks team, as well as service providers from Bank Supervision Policy. The leader of this unit hasn’t been chosen yet.

Both of the new units are going to report to the chief operating officer, and the OCC’s Committee on Bank Supervision is going to direct the units strategically as well as have oversight of them.

“This will promote greater coordination and collaboration across the supervision business units. The Committee on Bank Supervision is made up of senior executives who oversee OCC units that supervise the majority of institutions that make up the federal banking system,” the release said. “Strategic direction from the Committee on Bank Supervision ensures the units’ activity supports the supervisory needs of the federal banking system.”

——————————–

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/bank-regulation/2019/occ-realigns-with-two-new-units-for-bank-oversight/

UK banking platform Cashaa allowing crypto businesses to open accounts in fiat currencies

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/uk-banking-platform-cashaa-allowing-crypto-businesses-to-open-accounts-in-fiat-currencies/

UK banking platform Cashaa allowing crypto businesses to open accounts in fiat currencies

Cashaa, the U.K.-based banking service platform, said that it is now allowing crypto businesses to open accounts in various currencies, including U.S. dollars, British pounds and euros. 

The company said that after more than 100 days since going live, 586 businesses have registered on the platform. 

“Crypto-related businesses are underserved by banks,” Kumar Gaurav, CEO of Cashaa, said in a company release. “Our goal is to create a hassle free experience for any business who wants to join the crypto revolution.” 

He said existing banks and financial institutions lack the capability to understand the cryptocurrency businesses, so even if they want to help customers, they often fail to do so. 

Cashaa is also working to develop a crypto-focused payments gateway for processing crypto-related payments and to combat credit card fraud taking place during Visa and Mastercard transactions, according to the company. Cashaa said it is helping companies accept Visa or Mastercard with relatively low 2.75% processing fees while major crypto firms like Coinbase or Binance charge 3.5% to 4%, and other firms like Changelly or Bitfcoin.com charge 6%-12%. 


 


Topics: Bitcoin, Card Brands, Mobile Banking, Money Transfer / P2P


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Bank Customer Experience panel to address digital onboarding

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/bank-customer-experience-panel-to-address-digital-onboarding/

Bank Customer Experience panel to address digital onboarding

Among the most critical functions in digital transformation by the banking industry is the ability to quickly enroll new customers without the need for extensive paperwork and in branch interaction.

A panel of senior banking executives will address the process at the annual Bank Customer Experience Summit, scheduled for Sept. 23-25 in Chicago. The panel, Digital Onboarding: Are You Walking the Talk About Ease and Convenience?, is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 9:30 a.m. at the Loews Chicago Hotel. 

David Jones, editor, Mobile Payments Today, will moderate the session. Participating panelists include the following: 

  • Chad Dilley, SVP, channel strategy at Zions Bank.
  • Scott Godthaab, SVP, director of retail banking at Republic Bank & Trust Co.
  • Adam Pearl, regional vice president of sales at Clickswitch. 
  • Neil Stanley, chief credit officer at TS Banking Group.

Topics: Bank Customer Experience Summit, Mobile Banking


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How Mastercard Advisors uses AI and analytics to fuel ‘rapid experimentation’

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/operations/sales-mark/how-mastercard-advisors-uses-ai-and-analytics-to-fuel-rapid-experimentation/

The direct-to-consumer era of e-commerce is changing the way customers behave and is having a ripple effect on merchants’ customer outreach strategies, requiring enhanced speed and accuracy in decision making. According to Dimi Dosis, president of Mastercard Advisors, the payment giant’s business-to-business consulting arm, technology-driven changes in consumer behavior and expectations are changing how businesses …Read More

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https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/operations/sales-mark/how-mastercard-advisors-uses-ai-and-analytics-to-fuel-rapid-experimentation/

Bankers reflect on failures as they evolve their customer strategies

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/retail/bankers-reflect-on-failures-as-they-evolve-their-customer-strategies/

The idea of a customer-obsessed culture, Amazon’s oft-cited mantra, is making its way into bankers’ customer approaches. One pillar of this is owning up to failures.

“You have to have something that might not work, and you have to accept that your business, in many ways, is an experiment and it might fail,” Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos once said. At the Customer Experience in Financial Services conference this week, practitioners sounded off on some of their key failures and lessons. Here are the major takeaways:

Study the target market
What might work in one market isn’t necessarily going to work in another. Alyona Medelyan, CEO of customer insights platform Thematic, which works with bank clients, reflected on a situation where a client institution was experiencing difficulties scaling their credit card offering in the Canadian market. The client asked Thematic to delve into the reasons the product wasn’t resonating with customers.

A study of the comments drawn from the customer data platform revealed the cards were not working. “It turns out, Canadian credit cards are different. They took U.S. credit cards when they went to Canada to test it, so they didn’t actually notice it,” Medelyan noted. “[It] really forces you to look at it from a different perspective and utilize data that you already have.”

Lose the ego
Being personally invested in a project’s success can have its downsides. Joe Colca, director and senior vice president of digital experience at VyStar Credit Union, pointed to the necessity to be guided by data in the rollout of a product strategy and not to be overly influenced by personal biases.

Colca remarked on a product rollout that was more informed by a belief in the project than an assessment of what customers actually wanted.  “[When] you get invested into the idea, ego comes into play,” he said. “What ends up happening sometimes is you continue to go through all the data to find those itty bitty proof points that make sense.”

Solve for the right problems
At times, solving for one problem might bring up other issues an organization isn’t addressing effectively. Kate Rush, senior vice president and director of customer experience at Bangor Savings Bank, reflected on a recent instance where the bank saw an uptick in attempted card fraud. The bank team immediately focused on devising solutions to stamp out fraud and re-issue cards. However, after personally visiting the call center, she realized another issue wasn’t being addressed in the most efficient way: speed and efficacy of responses.

“The pain point was actually wait times and our call center, and  just shifting our look at the situation helped drive us to derive a different response,” Rush said. “When you have a problem and can handle it well, it is an opportunity to actually double down and reinforce your brand message.”

The small things matter
Banks, like other customer-facing businesses, need to balance the short-term and longer-term initiatives to improve customer relationships. While major projects require significant investments in time, technology and money, it’s important not to lose sight of simple moves to improve customer trust.

“The quick wins are really important — for example, that coding change that will save three steps at the agent level,” said Richard Dorfman, vice president of customer experience at Eastern Bank. “Those are the ones that can make a difference quickly, and the success that you share with your teams will create more momentum.”

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/retail/bankers-reflect-on-failures-as-they-evolve-their-customer-strategies/

Bambu Brings in $10 Million

https://finovate.com/bambu-brings-in-10-million/

Digital wealth technology company Bambu is bringing home the bacon today in the form of Series B funding. The $10 million round comes courtesy of three-time investor Franklin Templeton and new investor PEAK6 Strategic Capital, both of which co-led the round.

The Singapore-based company will use the funds to expand its reach of B2B clients, an audience Bambu sought out while a multitude of players in the space were taking a direct-to-consumer approach. And during the four years since launch, Bambu has made sizable gains in this market. Originally limited to Asia– the company marketed itself as Asia’s Premier B2B Roboadvisory– the company has since grown its client base into international markets. Bambu landed its first U.S.-based client and opened a new London office in March of last year.

As part of its B2B expansion, Bambu will target new segments in the financial services vertical and build teams in offices across the globe. As a part of that effort, the company will demo its technology at this year’s FinovateFall conference in New York, which kicks off September 23. Today, Bambu provides solutions to more than 15 financial institutions across the U.S., Europe, UAE and Asia including Standard Chartered, Refinitiv, and Connect by Crossroads.

“We are committed to working with a global client base to digitize saving and investing so it’s easier and more accessible to investors everywhere. We welcome PEAK6 together with the continued support from Franklin Templeton in this round,” said Bambu founder and CEO Ned Phillips. He added, “This is a strong confirmation that we have built a unique business and platform for the global market. We see growing demand across all markets, and we are increasing our ability to serve clients globally.”

Bambu’s cloud-based technology helps wealth managers bring automated investment services to their clients. The three-tiered approach includes the company’s Intelligent Advisor, a private banking product that creates efficiencies for relationship managers; White Label Robo, a white-labeled solution that helps asset managers create a personalized portfolio and risk profile for clients; and the BambuAPI developer hub, which offers developers their choice of modules to integrate into their own solutions.

With 70 employees working across Singapore, London, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Johannesburg, Bambu has raised a total of $13.4 million in funding. The company won Best of Show for its demo at FinovateAfrica last year. Earlier this year, Bambu earned a spot on Fintech News Singapore’s list of 29 Hottest Fintechs in Singapore 2019.

https://finovate.com/bambu-brings-in-10-million/

Onfido Unveils International Partnership Program

https://finovate.com/onfido-unveils-international-partnership-program/

The new international partner program launched this week by Onfido will help expand the reach of the company’s identity verification solutions and explore new use cases. ForgeRock, IDEMIA, and iovation are among the cybersecurity and identity access management (IAM) specialists that have agreed to include Onfido’s AI-powered identity verification services in their own offerings.

“Empowering the channel is an important strategic move that will enable us to accelerate our expansion into the U.S.A., Southeast Asia, and Europe, while exploring new product innovation in areas such as account takeover and authentication,” Director of Alliances and Partnerships at Onfido Ed Ackerman said. “With some of the biggest enterprise names already signed up to our program, we’re now selecting additional applications from companies to join and share in exciting new revenue-generating opportunities.”

Onfido demonstrated its Facial Check with Video technology, available via the company’s SDK, at FinovateFall 2018. The solution leverages liveness detection by having users film themselves performing a variety of random movements and then comparing the image in the video to the facial image of the user extracted from their identity document.

Onfido’s technology can be integrated into existing cloud-based systems or co-sold by partners as a combined solution stack. The company boasts a number of fellow Finovate alums as current program members as well, including Mambu, Qwil Messenger, Signicat, InvestGlass, FiveDegrees, and Thought Machine.

Along with the program launch news, Onfido also reported that Visa was now offering Onfido’s end-to-end identity verification service on its marketplace. And that’s not the first of this type of partnership: Salesforce has offered Onfido’s technology on its AppExchange since in December 2017.

Recently selected to participate in the new data protection ICO Sandbox, Onfido has spent the summer partnering with firms like cross-border money transfer specialist MoneyNetint and international payments company Currencies Direct to enhance the verification component of their onboarding processes. Other partnerships for Onfido this year include a collaboration with Checkr to support the background check specialist’s Checkr Connect IDV solution, and an agreement with mobility-as-a-service company Drover to help the firm offer a more secure, seamless onboarding experience for customers.

Onfido raised $50 million in funding this spring in a round led by SBI Investment and Salesforce Ventures, which took the company’s total financing to more than $100 million. Founded in 2012, Onfido is headquartered in London, U.K. Co-founder Husayn Kassai is CEO.

https://finovate.com/onfido-unveils-international-partnership-program/

FIS closes acquisition of Worldpay, key executives take new roles

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/fis-closes-acquisition-of-worldpay-key-executives-take-new-roles/

FIS announced the close of its $35 billion acquisition of Worldpay Inc., a move that creates one of the world’s largest e-commerce and payments companies. 

The combined firm will have pro forma revenue of $12 billion per year and become a leading provider of payments technology for the banking, merchant and capital markets communities. The close comes on the heels of the Fiserv acquisition of First Data Corp. 

“This is an exciting day for FIS and Worldpay and for the industry as a whole,” Gary Norcross, chairman, president and CEO of FIS, said in a company release. “This transformative combination significantly enhances the scale, portfolio and global footprint of FIS to help our clients capitalize on growth opportunities at a time of rapid marketplace change.”

Top executives at Worldpay will assume key roles in the newly combined company. Mark Heimbouch, president and chief operating officer at Worldpay, was named president of the FIS merchant services division. 

Stephanie Ferris, chief financial officer at Worldpay, was named enterprise-wide chief operating officer at FIS. Charles Drucker, former CEO and executive chairman at Worldpay, was named vice chairman of FIS. 

Earnings for FIS and Worldpay will be announced Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 8:30 EDT. 


Topics: Financial News, Mergers & Acquisitions, Mobile Payments, POS, Regulatory Issues, Retail

Companies: FIS, Worldpay, Inc.


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Singapore's OSBC Bank launches cardless ATM withdrawals using QR codes

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/singapores-osbc-bank-launches-cardless-atm-withdrawals-using-qr-codes/

Singapore's OSBC Bank launches cardless ATM withdrawals using QR codes

Singapore-based OCBC bank customers can now withdraw from ATM’s using a mobile app.

Singapore-based OCBC Bank announced the rollout of ATM technology that allows customers to withdraw funds using the OCBC Pay Anyone app that works by scanning QR codes without the need for a debit card or PIN code. 

The Pay Anyone app slashes the transaction time from about 80 seconds to about 45 seconds and authenticates identity using a fingerprint, facial recognition or mobile banking credentials, according to a company release. 

“As we accelerate our drive to go cashless, we also recognize that ATMs are still an essential and frequently used touchpoint for our customers,” Aditya Gupta, head of digital business, Singapore and Malaysia at OSBC Bank, said in the release. “Increasingly, more of these customers are getting familiar with and scanning QR codes to pay, and we wanted to bring them the same ease, speed and security when they get cash at our ATMs.”

The app also allows customers to make payments to merchants and send P2P payments to friends and family. 

Cover photo: OCBC Bank. 


Topics: ATMs, Mobile Banking, Region: APAC


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ACI Worldwide, UK supermarket coop partner on cashierless shopping trial

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/aci-worldwide-uk-supermarket-coop-partner-on-cashierless-shopping-trial/

ACI Worldwide, UK supermarket coop partner on cashierless shopping trial

ACI Worldwide said that its payments technology will be used by U.K. supermarket chain Co-op Group Ltd. when it expands a mobile app-based cashless trial to 30 of its stores in England, Scotland and Wales by late August. 

The expanded trial will allow customers to scan their purchases on a mobile app while shopping down the aisle at the grocery stores. The mobile scanning technology works alongside the chain’s cashiers and cashierless checkout as a means to help speed the shopping process during high volume traffic periods during the day. 

The mobile scanning app allows the cost of the purchase to be deducted from a customer’s Apple Pay or Google Pay account, according to the supermarket. 

The co-op developed the mobile app using a mobile SDK developed by ACI and is a long-standing customer that has used ACI’s UP Merchant Payments solution for card processing and secure payments data, Dan Ring, a spokesman for ACI, said via email. 

ACI also runs a cloud-based wallet service for the Co-op’s loyalty program. 

 

 


Topics: In-App Payments, Loyalty Programs, Mobile Apps, Mobile Payments, Region: EMEA, Retail

Companies: ACI Worldwide


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Starling Bank “Sums Up” its Commitment to SME Banking Services

https://thefintechtimes.com/starling-bank-sme-partnership/

Starling Bank has partnered with SumUp, Europe’s leading mobile point of sale company, to provide small merchants with access to faster settlements. The announcement comes after Starling CEO, Anne Boden, outlined to the TFT the integral place she sees SMEs as having to the challenger’s future.

With its card terminals relied upon by over 1.5 million users globally, SumUp is helping small business merchants by delivering access to affordable and easy-to-use payment devices. Their terminals can be used with an accompanying app and, crucially, without an app, via their standalone 3G Reader solution which comes with an integrated free data card. 

Starling’s Banking Services business provides fintechs, such as SumUp, with access to key payment schemes and a full bank offering all through a simple API. 

While SumUp enables merchants to accept card payments in seconds with just an easy-to-use device in hand, traditional banking providers and existing card rails means the process of settlement for small

starling bankStarling Bank CEO, Anne Boden

businesses currently requires a waiting time of two to four days for payments to clear through. By using Starling Banking Services, SumUp can now ensure their UK merchants will soon receive payments on the next business day and do not need to wait days to see the money their customers have paid them for their products and services. 

Starling’s Banking Services does this by allowing SumUp’s merchants to benefit from: 

  • Real-time access to faster payments
  • Simple integration with Starling’s secure and PSD2-compliant APIs
  • Full bank grade accounts with a set of unique virtual accounts 

Starling’s Banking Services continues to grow with this new partnership, serving disruptive and innovative payments businesses across the fintech ecosystem. Existing clients include the Department for Work and Pensions, the savings and investment marketplace Raisin UK and fintechs Currency Cloud, Pockit, PelicanPay and Vitesse.

Helen Bierton, Head of Banking at Starling Bank, said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem, so making sure they can receive the rewards of their hard work is incredibly important. Our partnership with SumUp means that whether a small merchant is serving coffee or cutting hair, we are helping to ensure they get paid as quickly as possible so they can get on with growing their businesses.”

Dimitri Gugunava, VP Banking and Acquiring at SumUp, said: “We always look for new ways to improve the services we offer our 1.5 million merchants worldwide on a journey of empowering them to succeed while doing what they love. Quicker payouts is an important step which we were able to take through our partnership with Starling Bank.”   

Starling was the first challenger bank to be a direct member of the Faster Payments Service and the only banking provider of real-time access to Faster Payments through APIs in the transaction banking world. Starling’s pioneering Banking Services platform enables businesses – including Payment Service Providers, retailers, corporations and fintechs – to develop and scale new products and to move money in seconds.

You may have heard that we were awarded £100 million Capability and Innovation Fund. The intention of the fund is to break the stronghold of the big banks in the SME market.

In TFT’s latest print edition, Starling CEO, Anne Boden, emphasised the challenger bank’s focus on catering to the needs of SMEs;

“Nobody’s really brought fintech to SMEs yet. You can see all the rapid changes and all the things customers are getting out of the fintech world but SMEs aren’t really benefiting yet. We’ve got about 55,000 SME customers now.

You may have heard that we were awarded £100 million Capability and Innovation Fund. The intention of the fund is to break the stronghold of the big banks in the SME market. It’s been awarded to the banks that can actually shake up the competition. With that in mind, we’ll be able to build fantastic capability to help UK SME businesses.”

Through their simple APIs, this can be done quickly and efficiently without the need for long development lead-times and complex legal arrangements. Starling customers can pick and choose individual components, or product features, to revolutionise how they make payments and innovate new products for their customers.

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Mondelēz Grows eCommerce Business, Emphasizes Local Brands

https://www.pymnts.com/earnings/2019/mondelez-grows-ecommerce-business-emphasizes-local-brands/

As it continues to build its eCommerce business and invest in companies through its SnackFutures unit, Mondelēz International, Inc. raised its full-year outlook with its second-quarter earnings results. The company also “continued to make good progress” against driving accelerating consumer-centric growth, among other strategies, per the firm.

Chief Executive Officer Dirk Van de Put said in a conference call with analysts on Tuesday (July 30), that the company is committed to “increasing and optimizing investment” behind its global and local brands as well as channels “to create a solid foundation for future growth.” Van de Put noted that the company is putting more emphasis on its local jewels than in the past. Nutter Butter, which he said is an “iconic U.S. brand” that celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, is delivering double-digit growth with fresh investments. The firm is also continuing to grow its eCommerce business.

Its global eCommerce business reported net revenue grew over 30 percent in the quarter. And its U.S. eCommerce business grew nearly 80 percent with continued strong growth in markets such as China, where partnerships with eTailers are helping the firm gain share. The company also made investments through its SnackFutures unit in the paleo vegan chocolate company Hu and prebiotics company Uplift Food. It also recently took a majority stake in Perfect Snacks, which Van de Put described as “the pioneer in refrigerated nutrition bars.”

Van de Put noted that the company is excited about the brand because its products have great well-being credentials. And he pointed out that its organic non-GMO protein-rich snacks are on-trend with consumers. He also noted that the company is growing fast. Mondelēz will operate Perfect Snacks as a separate business to nurture its culture and spirit, according to Van de Put. At the same time, key members of its founding family are keeping a significant minority stake and will continue to lead the company.

Mondelēz also announced sustainable and mindful snacking goals in the second quarter. As part of its sustainable snacking strategy, Van de Put noted that the company is committed to sourcing 100 percent of its cocoa for chocolate through Cocoa Life. And the company is moving to 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2025. And, to encourage mindful consumption by consumers, the company will include portion amounts and mindful snacking information on all packages globally by 2025.

——————————–

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/earnings/2019/mondelez-grows-ecommerce-business-emphasizes-local-brands/

SME Growth Boosted as Greater Manchester Combined Authority Commits to Lender B-North

https://thefintechtimes.com/sme-growth-manchester/

B-North, the Manchester-based provider of SME lending for the North, has received funding from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to help Manchester businesses access much needed debt capital quickly and effectively.

B-North, which is currently in the process of gaining a banking licence, announced the funding during an investor event at King Street Townhouse on the 25th July with guest speaker Andy Burnham, who confirmed the endorsement and its contribution to the northern SME ecosystem.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up the vast bulk of the northern UK economy – according to an IPPR report in February 2019, 99.8% of North England businesses have fewer than 250 employees[1].

With the funding from the GMCA, B-North will invest further in its cloud-based banking infrastructure and deliver essential lending solutions for regional SMEs through the establishment of its Manchester ‘Lending Pod’.

B-North will operate ‘Lending Pods’ in major cities across the UK, the first of which is in Manchester. Each Pod will contain people experienced in the lending needs of SMEs, including underwriters with discretion to sanction facilities locally and an in-house valuer. All loan applications will be managed locally and customers will have access to the local teams and resource in the B-North head office.

This highly localised model will allow lending to be made available to SMEs within as little as 10 working days. Currently, with traditional banks, requests for loans are centralised to head office and can take 3-4 months to be delivered.

Jonathan Thompson, Co-Founder, B-North, said: “Together with the GMCA, B-North will provide access to essential lending to facilitate the growth of SMEs within the northern economy.

“There are 5.6 million small businesses operating in the UK, comprising 61% of the UK workforce: that’s an integral part of the UK economy, which we anticipate will only increase as the UK’s relationship with the EU evolves and we become more reliant on “home-grown” enterprise. The ‘Northern Powerhouse’ already contributes significantly and is an essential part of the UK’s identity.”

“At B-North, we will offer tailored cloud-based banking and flexible support through an unrivalled product set, which will allow SMEs to remain competitive in this new era of business.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said“Greater Manchester is a city-region whose time has come and which is showing great growth and optimism.

“If we’re to build the economy outside of London, we need to improve access to finance for our start-ups, our scale-ups and particularly our SMEs. It’s really encouraging that B-North will focus on these businesses, which often struggle to get bigger investment funding and the money needed to take them to the next level. We have to provide that level of finance as a city-region if we’re to fulfil our economic ambitions, and it’s why the GMCA is so pleased to be investing in B-North.”

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https://thefintechtimes.com/sme-growth-manchester/

The iPhone Is No Longer The Majority Of Apple’s Sales

https://www.pymnts.com/earnings/2019/iphone-no-longer-majority-of-apple-sales/

It’s been a good run, but even the iPhone couldn’t stay in the top spot forever.  After being the majority of Apple’s revenue since 2012, the iPhone accounted for only 48.3 percent of Apple’s overall revenue in FYQ3, the first time that it hasn’t contributed over half of Apple’s sales in over seven years.

Still, it would be hard to say it was a particularly bad day for Apple, which managed to beat analysts’ earnings forecasts on the top and bottom line and saw bigger than expected growth in both its wearables and services departments.

CEO Tim Cook was, as is normal, excited about Apple quarterly results — particularly in terms of the firm’s expanding ecosystem, the “absolutely blowout quarter for wearables” just reported and for all the things that are coming next.

“On so many fronts there’s an enormous amount to look forward to over the next few months, including the launch of new services like Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, and Apple Card. And without giving too much away, we have several new products that we can’t wait to share with you,” Cook told investors on the post-release call.

On the big numbers, Apple reported a 1 percent year-on-year rise in revenue to $53.8 billion — though EPS fell 7 percent year-on-year to $2.18.  But both the top and bottom line performance came in ahead of expectations of $53.39 billion and $2.10 per share respectively.

Apple’s iPhone revenue was below the $26.31 billion forecast by analysts ahead of the release, coming in at $25.99 billion.  That is a drop of 12 percent, which Cooked noted is a “a significant improvement to the 17% year-over-year decline in Q2.  He also noted that the quarter that ended in June, when viewed through another lens, it is also a return to growth for the iPhone.

“iPhone our retail and online stores returned to growth on a year-over-year basis in the month of June. Our active installed base of iPhone reached a new all-time high and was up year over year in each of our top 20 markets, underscoring the quality of our products and the satisfaction and loyalty of iPhone customers around the world.”

Cook, however, had much more to say about Apple wearable and services offerings, both of which put up big numbers in the last fiscal quarter. Apple’s wearables business, which includes Apple Watch, AirPods and Beats headphones, saw growth rates over 50 percent in the quarter, according to CFO Luca Maestri.  Getting a particularly gleeful call-out during Cook’s earnings call was Apple Watch, which reportedly set a new June quarter revenue record. Cook also reported that over 75 percent of customers buying Apple Watches in the June quarter were buying their first Apple Watch.

Services — home to Apple Pay, Subscriptions, Apple Care and the App Store — saw 13 percent growth, slightly under analyst predictions. Cook did note that barring the settlement of a lawsuit and FX issues, that growth would have come in ahead of analyst estimates at 18 percent.

Payments peeps even got a look in on some Apple Pay numbers, albeit less specific ones than they might have otherwise liked to have seen. “Apple Pay is now completing nearly 1 billion transactions per month, more than twice the volume of a year ago. Apple Pay launched in 17 countries in the June quarter, completing our coverage in the European Union and bringing us to a total of 47 markets currently. Based on June quarter performance, Apple Pay is now adding more new users than PayPal and monthly transaction volume is growing four times as fast.”

All in all, services are becoming a big, high-margin contributor to Apple’s business — according to Maestri, services accounted for 21 percent of Apple revenue and 36 percent of gross margin dollars last quarter.

It is perhaps why as much as Cook talked about Apple’s individual offerings to analysts during the call, he was very focused on telling the story of the power and appeal of entire Apple ecosystem of devices, services and offerings for consumers. Some things that one might have assumed might be part of that discussion were absent — Siri, for example, got barely a single mention in passing — but the theme was otherwise highly recurring.

“It’s worth taking a step back and digesting the bigger picture here. These updates are the latest steps in a broader strategic effort to make the user experience across iOS, macOS, iPadOS, watchOS and tvOS more effortless and more intuitive. Apple is alone in offering this kind of value and ecosystem to its customers,” Cook noted, before calling out the  420 million paid subscriptions Apple has collected across its services platform, with a goal to pass the 500 million mark during 2020.

As for next quarter, Apple is forecasting revenue of between $61 billion and $64 billion, solidly ahead of the Street’s $60.9 billion estimate. That news pushed Apple share price up 4 percent in after hours trading.

The question to watch when markets are open Wednesday (July 31): will Apple’s performance rocket it back over the $1 trillion market cap line?

——————————–

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/earnings/2019/iphone-no-longer-majority-of-apple-sales/

Borders Must Not Hinder the Movement of Money

https://thefintechtimes.com/cross-border-e-commerce/
by Kate Goldfinch, Associate editor at The Fintech Times, Future magazine founder

The global cross-border market is figured to be worth $20 trillion – with estimates for global markets in education and medicine pegged at $800 billion and $500 billion, respectively. Education, medicine, and travel are the key drivers of international mobility and global payments.

According to McKinsey & SWIFT, the market has some key niches although most revenue is concentrated in the B2B sector. Today, cross-border trade is at the epicentre of specific trends that are substantially changing competitive dynamics – the increasing pressure from new technologies (including decentralised technologies – DLT – and innovations in card-based and network businesses); side-stepping of regulations and sanctions barriers; development of international commerce (both retail and corporate); and most especially, changing consumer demand. Over and above all this, new players in cross-border markets (such as TransferWise, Alibaba, and Facebook) are piling the competitive pressure onto the established players.

Even though income from cross-border transactions remain pretty high, the ongoing dynamic of change in consumer behaviour, alongside the appearance of new market players, increases pressure on the most stable segments of the market.

Cross-border e-commerce is a separate field of research. According to McKinsey & SWIFT, retail cross-border e-commerce sales totaled $300 billion in 2015 and are poised to exceed $900 billion by 2020, representing a 25 percent annual growth rate. Currently, one-fifth of these transactions involve high-ticket orders (over $200), although this is trending downward as casual online purchases (e.g., $5 staples) become more commonplace. Throughout 2018, we saw a dynamic industry continuing to break new ground in transaction tech and poised to grow at rates even greater than 25 percent. 

However, much of the C2B cross-border market remains characterised by complexity—for example, a lack of familiar local payments options on international websites—as well as limited infrastructure and lack of transparency on foreign exchange fees. 

Cross-border e-commerce is a separate field of research. According to McKinsey & SWIFT, retail cross-border e-commerce sales totalled $300 billion in 2015 and are poised to exceed $900 billion by 2020, representing a 25 percent annual growth rate.

Non-traditional firms offer digital solutions that provide a seamless experience, putting pressure on incumbents to improve. For example, Uber and Lyft let business travellers use charge codes for expense reimbursement rather than card settlement. Cross-border e-commerce is not the only C2B payments category with double-digit growth rates. International bill payments— for items such as tuition, rent, or subscriptions—are growing substantially, as they remain hard to manage if not facilitated from an “in-country” bank account. The same is true for loan repayments (for instance, the mortgage on a second home abroad) or investments.

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Why Overhauling their Card UX is a Quick Win for Banks

https://thefintechtimes.com/card-ux-banks/

The flood of new digital technologies, business models and stakeholders entering the payments industry is challenging banks’ capacity to retain customers. Making quick strides to dramatically improve their payment card user experience is an easy win, says Lars Sandtorv, CEO MeaWallet.

The payments industry is on the move. As new regulations come into force a flow of new digitised payment technologies, business models and stakeholders are gaining serious traction in the market. This new school of payments is threatening to beat conventional banks at their own game. Few anticipate a wholesale demise of the banking industry as we know it, however; huge customer volumes shield most banks from serious threat. Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that banks’ grip on the market, and on their previously uncontested relationships with customers, is loosening fast.

Central to the problem is that, compared to their fintech counterparts, banks lack the required agility to keep pace with digitalisation; something that is now demonstrably impacting their customer retention. Blaming what it dubs the ‘friction endemic in almost every legacy payment system’, a recent report from Deloitte reveals quite how quickly users are moving away from traditional payment rails.  PayPal already has 250 million users. The rising popularity of the OEM Pays (including Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay) provides yet further evidence. Apple Pay alone is on track to reach 200 million users by 2020.  And by then, the global transaction value of mobile payment apps is expected to reach $14 trillion.  

Central to the problem is that, compared to their fintech counterparts, banks lack the required agility to keep pace with digitalisation; something that is now demonstrably impacting their customer retention.

The challenges facing banks are particularly acute in Europe where the fintech scene is flourishing, following a boost from supportive regulations like the second Payments Services Directive (PSD2). In a recent keynote speech[1], European Central Bank vice-president Luis de Guindos suggested that in parallel with meeting structural challenges, the Europe’s banks must also face down increased competition from the fintech sector: “increased competition in lending, investments and payments is bound to increase pressure on retail banking revenues.”

With open banking and ‘bank direct’ payments arriving courtesy of PSD2, the ways that banks generate income is set for yet more disruption. All of this signals that banks need to find quick wins; enhancements that make the most of their current strengths by maximising revenues and offsetting rising customer attrition. This is particularly apparent for smaller banks which lack the resources to develop their own proprietary digital payment systems.

Overhauling their payment card infrastructure is one such opportunity.

By collaborating with a specialist card payment platform provider, banks can make dramatic enhancements to their customer’s card payment experience, making their services and their brand more attractive as a result.

All of this signals that banks need to find quick wins; enhancements that make the most of their current strengths by maximising revenues and offsetting rising customer attrition.

By combining support for the OEM Pays with additional services like EMV® Secure Remote Commerce (SRC), tokenisation and token management facilities, banks can provide customers with greater flexibility and convenience, encouraging greater usage.

So, what individual benefits do these capabilities bring to the table?

  • Payment-enabled bank apps

By enabling a mobile banking app with wallet functionalities, customers can make in-store payments. This provides the flexibly to not only manage finances in the app, but also to make payments from the same environment.

  • Issued card to OEM Pays

Connecting a banking app to the OEM Pays gives banks the potential to grow the customer base by providing a broader, more flexible solution, allowing consumers to select which wallet they’d prefer to use. 

  • SRC enabled payments

SRC is the next step in eCommerce that will enhance both security and user experience in online shopping. Customer benefits include a frictionless shopping experience via a reduced need for entering card and shipping information.

  • Greater customer control with a tokenised app

Tokenisation has become the new and modern standard to secure, provision and store card data to mobile, IoT devices and online merchants. With it, customers have the ability to enable push provisioning and manage tokens across multiple card schemes directly from the app.

Banks as brands

By improving functionality and increasing app usage, banks additionally stand to benefit from improved customer loyalty. This can lead to improved cross-selling opportunities improved usability keeps the bank’s brand front and centre in the mind of its customers leading to additional, more profitable revenue streams.

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https://thefintechtimes.com/card-ux-banks/

Finance Sans Frontières – Notes on the Cross-Border Payments Revolution

https://thefintechtimes.com/cross-border-payments-2/
by Kate Goldfinch, Associate editor at The Fintech Times, Future magazine founder

A revolution is unfolding in the global remittance and payments market. Every day we read announcements from different financial services providers – whether they are fintechs, or incumbents – heralding new products or new partnerships. The latest breaking news is Facebook’s Libra Association – which not only aims to reimagine the user experience for financial transactions, but also creates a global precedent for a realignment of the international payments market. 

All this frenzied activity can be summed up simply – the existing system is failing to meet the demands and realities of its time. It’s all too complex – it needs to be overhauled, streamlined, with faster data throughput, fewer intermediaries, faster transaction times, and lower fees. “The past five years have brought increasing change to the world of cross-border payments. The trusted and tested correspondent banking approach has encountered challenges from emerging alternative solutions and new players upending some of the industry’s fundamentals. The nature and direction of these changes, however, remains unclear in many cases,” according to  joint McKinsey & SWIFT research: A vision for the future of cross-border payments. Let’s attempt to figure out what’s happening in the ‘kitchen’ of the international payments market.

How does this all work currently?

It’s worth noting that at present, there are several different systems and conceptual approaches in operation to carry out cross-border payments. The first one to mention is SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), that provides a network enabling financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardised and reliable environment. 

Created in 1973, SWIFT enables participating financial institutions (FI) – of whom there are several thousand – to find the shortest payment route through the options which SWIFT provides. When a FI becomes a SWIFT participant, it is allocated an ID-code, which subsequently simplifies message-reading on the movement of funds within the system. In an earlier incarnation, the system operated on the principle of checking messages less frequently than now, when SWIFT is rolling out its new gpi product. This innovation forces system participants to respond promptly to notifications they receive – and this is reflected in the speed at which transactions are processed. However, this product cannot be regarded as a breakthrough. We could say that more kinds of push notifications were added into the system to make messages more visible and trackable, with a motivational system bolted on to improve response. As SWIFT’s own representatives say, since the roll-out of the new product, transactions take just minutes, or sometimes even seconds. The costs of sending a message have fallen over the past seven years by over 60%.

In addition to the SWIFT network, Visa and Mastercard have their own Worldwide Networks operating on a traditional payments basis, working through card-issuing banks, acquirers, and clearing partners. For example, when paying by card at a card-accepting retailer, ‘behind the scenes’ a huge number of operations are going on, involving all participant members of the system.

The costs of sending a message have fallen over the past seven years by over 60%.

The merchant card terminal sends a request through the Visa or MasterCard system to the card-issuing bank (the bank who issued the card to the card-holder) – and in seconds a response is received to indicate if the card account has sufficient funds to honour the transaction. If so, the terminal displays the message ‘transaction approved’. Next, the acquiring partner (which provided the retailer with a merchant terminal to receive non-cash payments) receives the transaction information from the merchant for the whole day, and transfers this information to the relevant payment system which carries out clearing. This rather simplified picture doesn’t include many nuances we haven’t cited – for example, at what speed the information is transferred to the acquiring partner, or how quickly the information is moved to the payment system’s network. 

cross-border paymentsAs the end-user when making a non-cash payment, you will get a ‘pending transaction’ notification, which will enter the records of already-completed transactions within 1 to 3 days on average. What’s interesting is that the amount listed in the pending transactions can differ from the amount actually charged from your account. This happens because the funds are pre-blocked at the moment of purchase, yet can be charged later – so you never really know for certain what specific amount is going to be charged.

Basically, to sum this up: the current SWIFT approach and philosophy are very complex and rely on the involvement of a large number of intermediaries in the system. Transactions don’t take place in real time, and serve card-holders poorly from the viewpoint of the time period for dispatching or receiving funds (quite apart from the costs of the transactions).

All of this gives a poor perception of the financial system to the new generation; and creates new demands and expectations from consumers about the operations of this system. Nowadays, we expect a user experience on the same level as social networks – in which money can be transmitted right here and right now, to be available anywhere in the world in real time, and with the minimum of service fees. And there are many companies – neo-banks, fintech-providers, and incumbents who are competing for the rights to provide exactly these solutions. Those who can succeed in doing so first will hit the jackpot and secure massive coverage. However, success will require rather more than just being a developer with a good idea. What are the trump cards that will define this game?

Who will win?

New-gen electronic tools, integration, partnerships, smart-clearing, and Big Data will form the basis for future global remittance and payments markets. It’s a battle being fought among major brands such as Visa and MasterCard, able to secure massive deals when purchasing leading financial providers. For example, Visa acquired Earthport this year for ₤198M GBP. 

Traditional banks are entering this game too – not in their own names, but through leading payment systems and SWIFT, or through partnerships with fintech providers. Everything we mentioned earlier has been rolled-out across traditional monetary systems. There’s also the area of that market based on decentralised technology to consider. 

Traditional banks are entering this game too – not in their own names, but through leading payment systems and SWIFT, or through partnerships with fintech providers.

These solutions include IBM’s service IBM World Wire – which in practice provides financial institutions a blockchain-based platform for making cross-border payments – as well as partnerships with which fintech companies are beginning to work (for example, the cross border provider TransferGo had its first quarter live for money transfers to India with Ripple as a partner). Yet this is still only part of the story – nor does it list all those interested in the cross-border payments market.

‘The Dark Horse’

Who else, then, is pitching for a piece of the pie? Well, ‘the king is the one who owns Big Data’ and thus the tech giants enter the arena. There’s much talk nowadays of Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Let’s concentrate on this latter brand. Opinion is strongly divided in the industry currently as to who has the best chances of victory in this tight field. Will it be providers with financial DNA or will it be tech firms, or even telcos with their huge resources of Big Data?

The role played by financial institutions and global payment systems is radically changing. Within 5 years, the number of intermediaries will fall (and many neo-banks have already popped up to replace numerous archaic players). This implies a lost business sector for those who, just five years ago, had been working well and felt things were going fine. But things are no longer like that, and in a further five years they’ll be even more different. 

Seeing the way the world is heading – towards that notorious financial internet, in which commission fees tend towards zero – global payment systems like Visa and Mastercard are becoming technological hubs. Banks are beginning to build partnerships with more innovative, younger players to help improve their service. Huge, lumbering systems like SWIFT are rolling-out new products – but in all honesty, they’re not going to help them much. Even the few thousand banks in the SWIFT network, with their information-exchange systems, are outweighed in the balance by the might of Facebook’s Big Data, and its two billion users.  

cross-border paymentsDuring an interview with a fintech firm specialising in cross-border, we heard the opinion that it’s easy to imagine anyone as the winners but it will probably be the incumbents rather than Facebook or Google. The very next day, we were given the announcement of Facebook’s new project, Libra Association, which already featured around 100 brands. It’s a blockchain-based system, built on the BFT-consensus system like EOS. Except that where EOS has 21 validators on its network, Libra already has over 100 (with numbers projected to rise to between 500 and 1000 in future). 

Who are these validators? They’re all the international brands who’ve signed up to the Association, and among them are payment systems (Visa, Mastercard et al.) as well as Uber, eBay, Spotify,  Stripe, Vodafone, PayPal, Coinbase and many others. Blockchain developers themselves have commented that this project is a corporate blockchain for stablecoins. Let’s take an overview of Libra from a number of different viewpoints. Taking a global perspective, I see the roll-out of an attempt at mass adoption of corporate money.  

Facebook has 2.5 billion active users, this is more than double the population of China. This constitutes a tectonic shift in mass-adoption of corporate money and will create a new payment experience. Libra will be backed by a basket of assets, meaning that it can be accepted by businesses all over the world for everyday use due to its low volatility when compared to public crypto assets. 

Facebook has 2.5 billion active users, this is more than double the population of China.

A brief survey of its technology inspires a good impression. The code is gleaming, and written in Rust, a great basis for a lightning-fast, memory efficient and safety-focused Libra system. We should also mention the usage of the most advanced cryptography primitives and BFT-consensus, which have been the primary focus of academic research in distributed systems for the past 20 years as, Vitaliy Bulychov (board member at Geo Protocol) has noted extensively.

Incidentally, many sceptics said that Facebook wouldn’t be able to launch its own financial system and that the likelihood of getting a financial licence for Facebook had been greatly exaggerated. Furthermore, many feel it long overdue that Facebook be stripped of its monopoly position. But now there appears the news of this project that unites the world’s leading brands and global payment systems, which have become the validators of the platform that will carry out the operations within FB. But why would all this be needed by so many major brands? To keep fantasy in check, we cite this insert from Visa press release: 

“With our mission and broader strategy in mind, today Visa announced an intent to join the Libra Association, a group of companies, non-profits, and academic institutions that will govern Libra, a new kind of digital currency. Libra is built on a new blockchain and its value will be aligned with, and backed by, a reserve of low volatility financial assets. Digital currencies like Libra could provide new pathways out of cash-dependence and accelerate the journey of the estimated 1.7 billion unbanked consumers into the formal financial system — this is why we’re interested in better understanding the Libra Association, and potentially shaping its development. We see an opportunity to be a voice at the table and provide the expertise for our clients and the payment ecosystem”

“Digital currencies like Libra could provide new pathways out of cash-dependence and accelerate the journey of the estimated 1.7 billion unbanked consumers into the formal financial system” – VISA Press Release

Currently, global experts are carrying out various comparisons between Libra and existing payment models. Some experts suggest, for example, that with Libra Association, Facebook is trying to create an analogue of the Chinese ecosystem headed by Tencent & WeChat with their WeChat Pay service included – except that it is based on electronic systems, and not on fiat currency, as the basis of Chinese system. 

“Comparisons with existing big players such as WeChat pay, AliPay, PayPal and others would be invidious – even if we put to one side issues of greater centralisation. These are just providing a logistic channel for national currencies, while FB is creating a whole new self-sufficient digital currency,” – Vitaliy Bulychov believes.

Meanwhile, other experts are drawing parallels between the new model of Libra, and the SWIFT system. To claim that SWIFT is out-dated when compared to the Facebook project is mistaken, says Valeriia Vahorovska, Managing Partner of Fondy (London);

“SWIFT is an international system of electronic exchange of information concerning financial transactions between stakeholders in the financial market. SWIFT itself is not either a holder of funds nor of card-user data and there is no money circulation within the system. On the contrary, Facebook is creating a completely different ecosystem in which to use digital currency. This is all in addition to Facebook itself being an account holder and a holder of huge amounts of user data. 

Let’s see how the Facebook project will develop, as so far there are not many details or any clear understanding of how the whole system will work. But it is obvious that new approaches are gaining more and more traction, while world demand is on the increase – and therefore, a change in paradigms and approaches is inevitable.”

So, what is being said here?

Of course, against the background of the transformation of the world of global payments, there is much that is still unknown, it’s rather like an experiment. However, one thing is clear – a global remittance and payments market in the future will not be possible without electronic money (even if, for now, it’s carried in cash – such are the realities of life in many world countries). The future of cross-border relies on cross-industrial partnerships and smart-clearing – in which clients will not just get a seamless payment experience, but also access to all the services they might need on a daily basis, in the context of a global consumer experience. It no longer matters whereabouts in the world the clients happen to be located.

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Vymo Reels in $18 Million for its Intelligent Sales Assistant

https://finovate.com/vymo-reels-in-18-million-for-its-intelligent-sales-assistant/

Vymo, the company that helps sales professionals #DoMore when it comes to managing leads and maximizing opportunities, just got a little help of its own. The company announced this week that it successfully closed its Series B round, raising $18 million to grow its business in the U.S. and around the world.

The Series B was led by Emergence Capital and featured participation by existing investor Sequoia India, which led the company’s $5 million Series A in 2016. Vymo’s total equity now stands at $22 million.

“Just as Veeva changed the game for pharmaceutical sales reps, Vymo aims to enable financial sales reps with a platform tailor made for their needs,” Emergence Capital Partner Jake Saper wrote at the firm’s blog discussing the investment. “Vymo is mobile-first, geo-aware, and makes use of contextual data to make targeted suggestions to reps on next best actions like which client or prospect to prioritize.”

Saper praised Vymo as a company that can help sales teams navigate diverse client bases and challenging regulatory environments as they build quality, personal relationships with their customers. He highlighted the company’s partnerships with Allianz, AXA, and Generali, and the high number of registered users of Vymo’s technology – more than 75% – who log on to the platform and take action on a daily basis.

Founded in Bangalore, India, and currently based in New York City, Vymo made its Finovate debut last year at FinovateAsia, demonstrating its Personal Assistant for Sales. The technology boosts the effectiveness of sales professionals by leveraging AI to detect the sales professionals actions automatically, predict the next best steps for the sales rep to pursue, and coach the rep on how to achieve the best outcomes.

The intelligent assistant learns from the best performing sales reps in the organization, and has established a positive revenue impact of 3% to 10% in sales productivity metrics such as conversions, turnaround time, and sales activity per opportunity. More than 100,000 sales reps across 50+ companies and institutions use Vymo to make their sales efforts more productive.

Earlier this month Vymo was featured in Nikkei Asian Review, which took a look at the use of the company’s intelligent assistant by sales professionals in Japan. In May, the company announced a partnership with Microsoft that will help grow the market for Vymo’s intelligent personal assistant solution. Vymo picked up the FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce) Award for Innovation in Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics in March, and began the year with a pair of partnership announcements, teaming up with Vietnam’s FE Credit in February and Zurich Topas Life in January.

https://finovate.com/vymo-reels-in-18-million-for-its-intelligent-sales-assistant/

FinFit at the forefront of the financial literacy dilemma

https://dailyfintech.com/2019/07/31/finfit-at-the-forefront-of-the-financial-literacy-dilemma/

The world is waking up to the fact a vast swathe of the generation coming through are in dire financial straits.

This has significant implications on society at large. Poor financial knowledge leads to poor financial habits, which ultimately leads to poor life decisions, at crucial junctures.

So how do we address this? While many good habits are said to start at home, it’s increasingly being argued, by an emerging group of fintech startups, that good financial habits start at work.

This makes sense when you consider employers are the most significant source of cashflow for the majority of the population. They, more than banks, have a vested interest in ensuring their employees are happy, healthy and functional, and free from money stress – primarily because it leads to increased productivity in the workplace.

This week fintech startup FinFit, an employee wellness platform, announced it had closed a USD $7M Series B raise. The fintech has teamed up with more than 125,000 American businesses, bringing financial educational resources alongside early-wage access and pre-paid Visa products to their employees.

The sector is booming globally. Just a few weeks ago, Australian based cloud HR platform, Employment Hero, closed a AUD $22 million Series C round. While it has a stronger focus on the HR component, financial services are a monetisation strategy the business is pursuing. Their automated pay advance product, InstaPay, allows employees to access a portion of their earned wages before payday.

We can’t afford to not address the financial literacy crisis that is engulfing the world. As our data continues to be increasingly captured, and weaponised ever more effectively to sell us products and modify our behaviour to part us with our money, we need tools that help us fight back. Companies like FinFit, and the growing financial wellness movement is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Companies like FinFit must find ways to help us hone that willpower muscle. Whether they are enough, is the question.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

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

Subscribe by email to join the 25,000 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/2019/07/31/finfit-at-the-forefront-of-the-financial-literacy-dilemma/

Identity Verification Firm Truework Gets $12M For Cloud-Hosted Solutions

https://www.pymnts.com/news/investment-tracker/2019/truework-gets-12m-for-cloud-hosted-solutions/

Identity Verification firm Truework announced it has raised $12 million in Series A financing led by Sequoia Capital.

As part of the transaction, Alfred Lin, partner at Sequoia Capital, is joining Truework’s board. There was also participation from Stanford University and existing investors, including Khosla Ventures, Menlo Ventures and Founder Collective. The new funding will be used to scale the product and engineering teams, as well as expand the scope of its identity platform for consumer and enterprise users.

Launched in April 2018, Truework’s platform integrates with HR and payroll systems to process employment and income requests, allowing employees to approve or deny each request in real time. It also enables banks and other institutions to access information without slowing down the application process. In addition to the funding, the company revealed that its network has grown to more than one million users in just one year.

“We are working to fundamentally change the data economy, in which credit bureaus continue to squeeze profits by abusing the privacy of consumers,” Ryan Sandler, co-founder and CEO of Truework, said in a press release. “When third parties receive access to private data, it is often a complete black box for individuals. Truework is bringing these processes front and center, putting more control into the hands of the consumer.”

Truework’s network currently boasts hundreds of employers, including The College Board, Oscar Health, InVision and Tuft & Needle. The company serves over 3,000 financial institutions and has verified income data on more than $2 billion of home loans.

“It’s hard to believe that in 2019 consumers cannot instantly go through every step of the mortgage qualification process online. Truework is solving the final missing piece by letting lenders quickly verify employment, income and other identity data,” said Keith Rabois, partner at Founders Fund who led Truework’s seed round while at Khosla Ventures.

——————————–

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/investment-tracker/2019/truework-gets-12m-for-cloud-hosted-solutions/