IdentityMind Teams Up with Acuant to Boost Identity Proofing

A new partnership between trusted digital identities innovator IdentityMind and identity verification specialist Acuant will make the latter’s Acuant AssureID identity solution available via the IdentityMind platform. The technology leverages AI and human assisted machine learning to identify more than 6,000 ID types in real-time to provide superior data verification and risk scoring.

“Acuant and IdentityMind share a common belief that identity is the new currency in today’s digital economy, and it must be protected,” Acuant President and CEO Yossi Zekri said. “Our strength in identity proofing during the onboarding and account origination process is the perfect combination to IdentityMind’s ability to build a digital identity and continue to monitor its use through the lifetime of the user. This partnership enables trusted transactions helping companies to reduce fraud, comply with AML/KYC regulations, and provide better customer experiences.”

The company’s flagship document authentication and identity verification software, Acuant AssureID, pulls biometric and alphanumeric data from identity documents and subjects it to more than 50 forensic document-specific tests in real time. The technology can be used for address and age verification, as well as a check against Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) watch lists. AssureID features components such as Acuant Face, a seamless multi-factor authentication solution, as well as Acuant Review, an expert-driven, manual review of identity documents.

“As part of our goal to create the most agnostic and accurate platform for trusted digital identities addressing compliance and risk, we have built an expansive technology ecosystem that pre-integrates the best of breed solutions across a variety of use cases and geographies,” IdentityMind CEO Garrett Gafke said. “Acuant has an outstanding track record in identity verification as a white label solution for many industry leading partners globally. We are excited to be able to offer their solution to our customer base.”

IdentityMind demonstrated its GDPR-ready, KYC Plug-in at FinovateSpring 2018. The pre-configured, customizable technology helps financial services companies meet global KYC requirements while simplifying GDPR compliance. The solution provides critical reports that auditors and examiners rely on to evaluate both the firm’s regulatory processes as well as its customer PII protection functionality.

Last month, IdentityMind announced that it promoted Cynthia Tham to Vice President of Engineering after more than six years at the company. In August, the company reported that it had been awarded a new patent for digital identity-based automated policy review that will help it better evaluate “risky” data and better protect financial transactions. Over the summer, IdentityMind announced partnerships with a variety of firms including South Korea-based wire transfer company Wirebarley, Latin American crypto-to-fiat exchange platform BITPoint, and U.S. blockchain trading platform Bittrex.

Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, IdentityMind has raised more than $21 million in funding. The company includes Eastern Link Capital, Benhamou Global Ventures, and Lakewood & Company among its investors.

N26’s Kopp: U.S. expansion coming ‘in increments’

N26, the digital-only banking brand based out of Berlin, began a staged rollout of its app in the U.S. earlier this summer before becoming widely available to American consumers in August. The brand launched in Europe in 2015 and has since gained 3.5 million customers in 25 countries, according to a company statement. Earlier this …Read More

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OnDeck’s ODX to Power Digital Loan Origination for Investors Bank

Alternative lending platform OnDeck landed a new client for ODX, its digital loan origination platform. Investors Bank, with $27 billion in assets and 147 branches in New York and New Jersey, has become ODX’s newest partner.

ODX, an OnDeck subsidiary, is a platform-as-a-service that leverages software, insights, and human input to enable banks to automate small business lending. The offering, which launched a year ago, is as much about supporting banks to reach small business clients as it is about helping small businesses interact with their bank. ODX bank clients can offer small businesses a fully digital loan application and underwriting process that provides funding within 24 hours.

“As a leading small business [loan originations] platform, ODX provides proven technology and professional services that enables bank clients like Investors to offer credit to small businesses faster and more efficiently,” said Brian Geary, President of ODX. “That combination is mutually advantageous for the bank lender and the small business owner.”

Investors Bank joins PNC Bank and others as ODX clients. One of ODX’s original bank partners, JP Morgan Chase, made fintech headlines this summer when the bank announced plans to rescind the partnership.

OnDeck was founded in 2007 and has loaned more than $12 billion to small businesses in 700 different industries across the United States, Canada, and Australia since launch. The company demoed at FinovateSpring 2012 and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of $280 million.

Low Code Innovator OutSystems Inks Partnership with Yorkshire Building Society

U.K.-based Yorkshire Building Society has selected OutSystems and its integrated development environment for customer-facing e-commerce and mobile applications, reports Alex Hamilton of Fintech Futures (Finovate’s sister publication).

The project will involve what OutSystems is calling a “significant update” to Yorkshire Building Society’s back office systems.

According to the vendor, a newly installed digital platform will provide a more immersive customer experience, and “vastly” increase security. It estimates that the building society will save £600,000 a year as a result.

“We were looking to address a range of specific requirements when we started working with OutSystems, chiefly how we could better service our customers with additional functionality through our e-commerce platform, which was approaching end-of-life,” said Ant Warrington, director of digital and innovation at Yorkshire Building Society.

“We also wanted to streamline our employees’ internal workflows and processes to improve overall efficiency throughout the business.”

Garry Larner, regional director, financial services and insurance at OutSystems, added: “Extending the self-serve capabilities of Yorkshire Building Society’s technology to alleviate the load on its branches and call centres was a key KPI for the organization.”

“We’re happy to help the society take that digital step forward, helping them to remain a leader in an extremely competitive market.”

Yorkshire Building Society is the third-largest building society in the UK with three million members and 143 branches across the country. It holds assets of £43.3 billion.

OutSystems participated in our developers conference, FinDEVr New York 2017, discussing the digital transformation of a European retail bank in its presentation: “Low-Code, The Next Evolution in App Dev Platforms (Oh, and 5X Faster).” Founded in 2001, the company announced earlier this month that it has forged a partnership with Workato and fellow Finovate alum Persistent Systems to help businesses take more advantage of automated business processing solutions including app connectors.

UK regulators to support the “safe and robust” use of machine learning in UK financial services

As mentioned in our recent AI in Financial Services report, the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority have conducted an industry-wide survey of how financial services use machine learning in the UK. The results of that survey have now been published and give some insight into trends in machine learning adoption in the sector and the regulatory direction of travel.

Purpose and scope of the survey

The BoE and FCA have published a joint report on Machine Learning in UK financial services and the results of an industry survey carried out in 2019. The stated aims of the review were for the BoE and FCA to better understand the current use of ML in financial services. This in turn allows the regulators to better consider the implications of this transformative technology in developing any related policy, balancing its benefits to business and consumers against the potential risks to consumers and the financial system as a whole.

The regulators appreciate that the new data-driven economy is driving dramatic changes both to the financial markets themselves and the way in which they supervise those markets. They consider that ML’s ability to analyse and interpret big data sets held by financial firms is a principal catalyst of this change and note that increasing volumes of data have accelerated the pace of ML development. The report also acknowledges the steps that firms have taken to integrate AI into their business models (such as using ML in back office processes, moving ML from the initial development phase to business lines, and designing ML in-house). Read our AI toolkit for more on how best to roll out AI.

106 firms contributed to the survey from a pool of nearly 300 banks, credit brokers, e-money institutions, financial market infrastructure firms, investment managers, insurers, non-bank lenders and principal trading firms, answering questions on the nature of ML deployment, the business areas where it is used and the maturity of applications with some specific use cases.

Key findings

The regulators considered that the responses, whilst not statistically representative of the entire UK financial system, did provide some “interesting insights”.

The take-up of machine learning is increasing

  • Two thirds of respondents said they already use ML in some form across a range of business areas.
  • One third of ML applications are used for a considerable share of activities in a specific business area. Deployment is most advanced in the banking and insurance sectors.
  • ML is most commonly used in AML and fraud detection as well as in customer-facing applications (e.g. customer services and marketing). Some firms also use ML in areas such as credit risk management, trade pricing and execution, as well as general insurance pricing and underwriting.
  • Firms mostly design and develop ML applications in-house. However, they sometimes rely on third party providers for the underlying platforms and infrastructure, such as cloud computing.

Firms hope for more regulatory guidance

  • Regulation is not seen as an unjustified barrier to ML adoption but some firms stressed the need for additional guidance on how to interpret current regulation.
  • The most comment issues cited were around model risk management and the need to adapt process and system to cover ML based models.
  • Some firms noted the challenge of explaining decision-making when using black box ML models to meet regulatory requirements.
  • Several firms thought that regulatory guidance on best practice around ML use would be helpful and could promote greater deployment.
  • Additional guidance could also potentially help firms design controls, model risk management frameworks and policies for ML applications.

Risk management is key

  • The BoE/FCA are looking into whether ML adds degrees of complexity, as this could affect a firm’s risk profile and the BoE/FCA’s supervisory approach. Respondents stated that where ML was provided by a third party, it became difficult to assess any added complexity.
  • The majority of users apply their existing model risk management framework to ML applications. But many say that these frameworks might have to evolve in line with increasing maturity and sophistication of ML techniques. This was also highlighted in the BoE’s response to the Future of Finance report.
  • Firms thought that ML does not necessarily create new risks but that it could be an amplifier of existing ones. The most common safeguards used are alert systems and so-called ‘human-in-the-loop’ mechanisms. This is consistent with the EU ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI which stress the need for a human-centric approach to risk management of AI.
  • The deployment of ML can also reduce risks. For example, it has the potential to reduce human bias, help identify market abuse and improve fraud detection and AML processes.
Next steps

Based on the survey findings, the BoE and FCA will explore ML policy. To facilitate this, the BoE and FCA have announced they will establish a public-private working group on AI to further the discussion on ML innovation. They will also consider repeating the survey in 2020.

Finovate eMagazine: Going the Extra Mile

The focus on the customer and their experiences has dominated the conversation within financial services over the past few years, but seems to have become especially pertinent in 2019. In our latest eMagazine, we examine the fintechs and institutions leading the way with excellent service and products that delight customers, both locally and globally.

This eMagazine features exclusive session recordings from the stage of FinovateFall– including insight and analysis on APIs, consumer lending platforms, and content and communication management. Over the course of reading you’ll find new ways of thinking about becoming truly customer-centric.

Read the full eMagazine now

Mastercard, PNC to pilot real-time payment on delivery for alcohol distributor

Mastercard, PNC to pilot real-time payment on delivery for alcohol distributor

Mastercard announced that it will pilot a new service called Payment on Delivery with PNC Bank, which will allow companies to make real-time payments for goods and services. 

Under the pilot program Mastercard will work with Rutherford & Associates, an enterprise resource planning provider, in order to test payments on the alcohol and spirits business, which is a business that operates under a large amount of regulatory bottlenecks. 

“Mastercard was seeking strategic, dynamic partners who were fully committed to exploring real-time payment capabilities,” Chaiti Sen, spokesperson for Mastercard, told Mobile Payments Today. “On the bank side, we needed partners who were already fully up and running with request for payment capabilities and we specifically selected an ERP provider who was willing to test and learn in a new area, but who also had a presence and knowledge in the alcohol distribution space.”

PNC Bank participates in the RTP network from The Clearing House, which provides real-time payment and settlement capabilities. The real-time payments capabilities will help eliminate the use of cash and checks and allow for immediate payment upon distribution. 

Cover image: Mastercard

Topics: Card Brands, Mobile Payments, Regulatory Issues, Retail, Technology Providers, Transaction Processing

Companies: MasterCard

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Wirecard retains KPMG for independent audit amid allegations of financial irregularities

Wirecard retains KPMG for independent audit amid allegations of financial irregularities

Wirecard AG said its management board and supervisory board have commissioned an outside audit from KPMG to clarify allegations made by the Financial Times earlier this year regarding financial irregularities at the payments company. 

The FT published a report earlier this year alleging accounting irregularities at the German company, which led Singapore authorities to launch an immediate investigation into Wirecard’s Singapore office.

The company later filed suit against the FT and the reporter, and claimed that the FT was collaborating with short sellers. 

“We have complete confidence in the audit procedures performed to date and their results,” Wulf Matthias, chairman of the supervisory board at Wirecard, said in a release posted by Wirecard. “We assume this renewed independent review will lead to a final end to all further speculation.”

Wirecard said the audit will begin immediately and that KPMG’s only obligation is to the supervisory board, adding that the audit report will be presented “in due course” and that the firm will have unrestricted access to the company. 

Thomas Eichelmann, chairman of the audit committee of the supervisory board, and former chief financial officer of Deutsche Borse AG, will support the audit on Wirecard’s side. 

Cover image: Wirecard


Topics: Mobile Payments, Region: APAC, Region: EMEA, Regulatory Issues

Companies: Wirecard North America, Inc.

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HTC unveils cryptophone Exodus 1s

HTC has recently unveiled its Exodus 1s, which can hold the entire Bitcoin ledger. The phone will not be able to mine bitcoin, but it can hold the complete Bitcoin Ledger on a SD card, according to a report by Forbes.

Phil Chen, decentralized chief officer, HTC, said in the report that this ability will ensure additional privacy and security.

“It[the node] plays a really important role in the whole bitcoin ecosystem,” Chen said in the report. “It allows you to relay transactions, confirm transactions, validate transactions, and it’s basically one of the best ways for anybody to contribute to the whole security of the network.”

The smartphone will also include social key recovery to allow trusted contacts to help users recover their lost keys, according to HTC’s website.

The phone is available for sale for $244 in Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia in the United Arab Emirates. It will not be available in the U.S., according to a report by The Verge.

Topics: Blockchain, Handsets / Devices

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BBVA's Denizen borderless account fintech to close in December

BBVA's Denizen borderless account fintech to close in December

Denizen, the global account fintech created by BBVA in 2018, has announced that it will close on Dec. 17, citing the inability to scale the business enough to compete in the current environment. 

Denizen launched in March 2018 as a global account service that allowed expats, international travelers and immigrants access various banking and money transfer functions at lower cost.

“In short, the product didn’t work in the market as we expected,” Chris Semple, spokesman for BBVA, told Mobile Payments Today via email. “Most of the customers using the service were not expats looking to use the product in the way it was intended, [but] rather as a short term holiday resource, meaning it was competing in an already congested marketplace.”

The service, which operated in the U.S. and Spain, provided customers a mobile app and an international debit card and allowed them to receive funds in one country and pay it out in another, free of expensive currency exchange and international transfer fees. 

Semple said the company would not reveal total customer numbers. Less than 30 jobs were affected at the company, and some will be reemployed back within BBVA and others negotiated settlement packages. 

The San Francisco-based company was co-founded by Juaquin Ayuso, the former co-founder and CTO of Tuenti, a social media site described as Spain’s version of Facebook. 

The company had planned to expand into the 10 leading EU countries as well as the U.K., but that expansion failed to materialize. 

By Dec. 17, the bank will close any mobile app, debit card and account that is linked to Denizen. Customers based in the EU need to contact the bank with an IBAN number and remaining funds will be transferred out of the Denizen account. U.S. customers need to contact customer service and will receive a check with remaining funds. 

Customers can continue using the Denizen account for 60 days from the time they receive the shutdown notice. 

Cover image: BBVA

Topics: Card Brands, Mobile Apps, Mobile Banking, Money Transfer / P2P, Region: EMEA

Companies: BBVA

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Two-Thirds of Organisations Have No Dedicated Data Function

More than two thirds of organisations have no dedicated analytics or data science function, according to 1,000 respondents in an MHR Analytics poll.

With 69% of organisations lacking internal data science expertise, data analytics specialist MHR Analytics has compiled the five best solutions to help organisations start to optimise their business intelligence and move on from manual spreadsheets.

Laura Timms, Product Strategy Manager at MHR Analytics, said: “Most businesses are still relying on spreadsheets to store, analyse and report on their data. The latest findings from our Data Maturity Quiz show 39 percent of medium to large organisations remain in the early stages of data maturity scale, with their data still managed in Excel.”

“every business can move from spreadsheets to more exciting, cutting-edge analytics techniques.”

“The most effective and most realistic data strategy for any business is to advance on the data journey one stage at a time, gradually meeting more and more business needs through data analytics,” she said. “We have summarised some of the best available tools to make the most out of your business intelligence if you’re just getting started with analytics.”

  1. Microsoft Power BI

This transforms complex data into rich, easy to understand visualisations using a drag and drop canvas to communicate insights in a digestible way. Users can share and connect data, access data from supported on-premise and cloud-based sources, and create and share mobile-friendly reports on the go. The solution cuts preparation time and provides freedom to use data modelling tools. Moving forward, users can also unlock advanced analytics features like quick measures, grouping, forecasting and clustering, all with the familiarity of Excel.

  1. IBM Cognos Analytics

IBM Cognos Analytics is a self-service platform, which means the average business user with little to no analytics experience can easily see business patterns, create compelling visualisations and answer big business questions. It can produce ‘data stories’ by combining charts with overlays and voiceovers, can quickly reveal hidden patterns and hard-to-find answers and relationships, and has a natural-language assistant.

  1. SAP Analytics Cloud

Hosted in the cloud, this latest tool from SAP provides the ability to experience everything analytics has to offer, without the need for additional infrastructure or having to spend extra money on multiple solutions. It makes data easy to understand with powerful visualisations. SAP Analytics Cloud enables organisations to plan and forecast in advance and can utilise machine learning to automatically generate insights.

  1. IBM Planning Analytics

Effective planning is crucial for any organisation, but there are widely varying levels. Relying on spreadsheets can lead to inaccuracies, making the task of using this data in a meaningful way a near-impossible task. A more sophisticated approach to planning bridges the move from simply reporting what has already happened in an organisation, to planning for the future. IBM Planning Analytics provides a single platform that aligns financial plans with wider objectives, operational tactics and market events. It automates plans, analyses and reports, freeing up time to focus on strategy, transforming the full planning cycle.

  1. SAP Business Objects

Collaboration of data across organisations that are still stuck with spreadsheets may be few and far between, with teams using different methods to collect, analyse and store data – often termed “messy data.” To resolve this sporadic data issue and begin to truly understand why things happen the way they do in an organisation, it’s essential to adopt a centralised system. SAP Business Objects has a single platform for reporting and visualisation, supporting anything from a handful of individuals to tens of thousands of users, giving a holistic organisational view and ensuring a single version of the truth.

In his forthcoming MHR Analytics paper, Advancing with Analytics: Spreadsheets to AI, internationally acclaimed AI expert Bernard Marr says: “The data maturity journey is about taking manageable steps, rather than huge leaps. In this way, every business can advance with analytics – every business can move from spreadsheets to more exciting, cutting-edge analytics techniques. And when you partner with a provider, they take care of all the techy nuts and bolts, leaving you to concentrate on business issues.”

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UiPath Announces the Next Generation of the World’s Number One Robotic Process Automation Platform

At FORWARD III, the first-ever global event for the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) community, UiPath introduced the next generation of the world’s most widely adopted platform.

With new capabilities that support end-to-end automation processes and significant enhancements to AI capabilities, companies can scale their automation programs at unprecedented speed – all from a single platform. In this release, UiPath is now delivering automation as the core application for users across the enterprise, enabling everyone, regardless of their technical proficiency, to rapidly automate their work without the need for developer resources or coding.

“We have essentially removed all barriers to scaling in the ‘automation first’ era. Business leaders everywhere are augmenting their workforces with software robots – and fast – freeing employees to spend time on more impactful work,” said Param Kahlon, Chief Product Officer at UiPath. “With the addition of the UiPath Explorer, UiPath Apps and UiPath Insights families, we are making it easy for more business professionals across the enterprise to interact with robots, including citizen developers, business analysts and end-users throughout both the front and back-office.

We are humbled to lead this workforce revolution, driven by our passion to democratise RPA and deliver on the extraordinary benefits of a robot helping every person.”

UiPath expands product portfolio to address more complex and cognitive workflows, assists companies with planning, measuring and engaging with automations across the enterprise

Introducing the Expanded UiPath RPA Platform

Since 2016, the UiPath Platform has captured market share and earned category leadership with its three key components: UiPath Studio (designer), UiPath Orchestrator (control tower and security), and UiPath Robots (attended and unattended). Today, its expanding customer base is demanding an enterprise platform that allows them to:

  • Accelerate the proven benefits of RPA enterprise-wide, transforming their entire company into digital businesses;
  • Apply RPA and AI to more complex processes, providing performance insights and machine learning to improve their businesses and employee decision making;
  • Simplify human-robot interaction, opening the platform to directly engage end-users as part of an end-to-end business process; and
  • Continue making RPA an inspiration for human achievement, and an accelerant for higher job satisfaction.

At UiPath FORWARD III, UiPath unveiled new customer-driven innovations led by the following key announcements:

  • Introducing UiPath Explorer product family to accelerate process understanding and automation pipelines. Building on the acquisitions of ProcessGold and StepShot, UiPath has introduced the UiPath Explorer product family. Designed to simplify process understanding enterprise-wide, the UiPath Explorer family makes it easy it to identify, document, analyse and prioritise processes, with a unique ability to understand both front-line and back-end operations, through scientific and visual analysis.
  • Introducing UiPath StudioX for Citizen Developers. Built with customers over the past year, StudioX allows a broader range of subject-matter experts to rapidly automate their work without the need for developer resources or coding.
  • Introducing UiPath Apps, an entirely new capability to enable continuous human-robot interaction across entire processes. With UiPath Apps, end-users can participate in real-time with robots executing unattended processes, empowering users to manage approvals and exceptions; a capability UiPath refers to as Human-in-the-Loop.
  • Introducing UiPath Insights. This entirely new product provides powerful, embedded analytics that measure, report and align RPA operations with strategic business outcomes.
  • Introducing UiPath Connect Enterprise to bring every employee into the process of uncovering automation opportunities. Building a pipeline of automations should not always come from analysing user activity or system logs, but from human judgement. With Connect Enterprise, every employee can introduce ideas for automations, creating a gamification – or crowdsourcing – capability ideal for Robotic Operations Centers of Excellence to collect opportunities, and manage a pipeline of robots to free employees from mundane tasks across every corner of an enterprise.
  • AI Fabric, announced in April 2019, entered private preview in Q3. AI Fabric breaks down the barriers between RPA and data science teams and helps customers operationalise and consume their machine learning models directly in RPA workflows.

“Everything in this next generation platform is designed to support our RPA developers and offer a better, faster solution for our organisation,” said Juan Felipe Carvajal Restrepo, RPA Lead, Process Innovation at Protección S.A. “Not only does it provide seamless compatibility with new programming languages and offer a new Studio interface, but also boosts integrations and debugging features.”

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Mobile Financial Services’ Transactions to Exceed $1 Trillion in Emerging Markets by 2024

A new study from Juniper Research found that the total transaction value of the MFS (Mobile Financial Services) market will exceed $1 trillion by 2024; rising from $580 billion in 2019.

This is a growth of 70%. The research identified a range of untapped opportunities in Latin America for services such as microfinance, microloans and money transfer, as a key driver of MFS growth over the next five years.

Latin America – the Underserved Opportunity

The new research, Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets: Monetisation Models & Market Forecasts 2019-2024, forecasts that the total number of users accessing MFS in Latin America will grow 20% on average annually over the next five years. This is predicted to grow twice as fast as saturated markets such as Africa & Middle East. In response, it urged MFS vendors to leverage existing experience to launch services in this underserved market.

Includes Mobile Money Transfer, Microloans, Microsavings and Microinsurance

It also forecasts that the number of MFS users in all emerging markets will reach 1.2 billion by 2024; growing from 890 million in 2019. Africa & Middle East will account for over 600 million users alone by 2024; owing to the high reliance on mobile devices for banking services.

Cash In, Cash Out to Account for Half of Overall MFS Value by 2024

The research found that CICO (Cash In, Cash Out) transactions will be the largest driver of growth for the MFS market; exceeding a value of $590 billion by 2024. CICO allows users to access traditional banking services, such as deposits and withdrawals, via mobile devices.

The report urged MFS providers to expand their agent networks to rapidly grow customer bases. It also forecasts that fostering confidence amongst users for CICO transactions will lead to uptake of more comprehensive MFS products, such as microloans and microinsurance, in the future.

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Scarcity can mean different things to different people. Bitcoin scarcity creates value.


In economics, we have market equilibrium when supply equals demand. However, markets are not always in equilibrium. When supply is greater than demand, prices go down. When the opposite occurs, when demand is higher than supply, we have scarcity, which in turn leads to higher prices. Wikipedia states that scarcity is the limited availability of a commodity. Scarcity is the state of being in short supply. But how does scarcity derive value? What does scarcity mean for Bitcoin?

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and Weekly Columnist at Daily Fintech.

The first Bitcoins were mined in January 2009. It took about 200 days to mine the first one million coins. This past Friday, the 18 millionth Bitcoin was mined. With only three million left to be mined, Bitcoin is the first scarce digital object the world has ever seen.

Bitcoin is scarce digital object, that is very similar and at the same time very different from other software. Usually software creates an abundance. While Bitcoin can be easily sent over the internet and allows fractional ownership, its limited supply makes it scarce, like silver and gold. By design, Bitcoin was created to have a limited and finite supply. In fact, there are only 21 million Bitcoins that can ever be mined. When Satoshi Nakamoto published Bitcoin’s white paper, he wrote:

” As a thought experiment, imagine there was a base metal as scarce as gold but with the following properties: boring grey in colour, not a good conductor of electricity, not particularly strong [..], not useful for any practical or ornamental purpose .. and one special, magical property: can be transported over a communications channel”

Gold is mined out of the ground and Bitcoin is mined with by computers, that need a lot of electricity. Bitcoin is created through an energy intensive process, in which miners use high computing power to solve complex mathematical equations. New Bitcoins are created, when miners verify a block of transactions. They receive Bitcoins as a reward, thus putting more Bitcoin into circulation.

As the number of Bitcoins left to be earned continues to decrease, we are seeing the network grow. In September we saw the network hash rate pass a record 102 quintillion hashes, for the first time in Bitcoin’s history. Hash rate refers to the amount of computing power involved in processing Bitcoin transactions. More hashes means more competition, in other words more miners competing to obtain the block reward.

Another major development is Bitcoin’s upcoming halving. On 14 May 2020, Bitcoin’s creation process will slow down and the amount of Bitcoin created, with each new block, will be cut in half. The reward for verifying a block will decrease from 12.5 to 6.25 coins.

If you look at previous halvings, you should be buying Bitcoin right now.

Before the halving in November 2012, the price of Bitcoin was $12, 50 Bitcoins being mined per block ($600) and the market was creating $604,800 new Bitcoins per week. After the halving new supply was reduced by $302,400 per week and the market cap to went up by $14 billion over the course of the following year. When the next halving took place in July 2016, Bitcoin was worth $650 per coin, 25 Bitcoins were mined per block ($16,250) and the market was absorbing $16,380,000 new Bitcoin per week. This time after the halving, new supply was reduced by $8,190,000 per week and the market cap grew by $300 billion in 18 months.

Currently, miners are earning 12.5 bitcoins per block, or approximately 1,800 Bitcoins per day. For the upcoming halving in May 2020, you do the math… but it should be big. Just buy a $100 worth of Bitcoin and hold on to it for a few years.

While we don’t for sure how Bitcoin will continue to spread or how quickly more people will start using it, we can be certain that a limited supply of Bitcoin, will  cause prices to continue to increase. It will be at least another 100 years before all 21 million Bitcoins are mined. Bitcoin’s limited supply is a good thing, because it gives the coin anti-inflationary properties. Bitcoin‘s finite supply gives it scarcity, preventing it from being devalued by a limitless supply.

According to a model by PlanB, Bitcoin’s inflation rate, as shown by the stock-to-flow model, determines the price of the asset.

The higher the SF ratio, meaning the lower the inflation rate that a commodity has, the higher the value of the asset should be. The PlanB model fits Bitcoin’s valuation to a 99.5% R2, implying that there is a high likelihood that Bitcoin will sky rocket, after the halving next May, and could reach over $100,000 a coin.

Scarcity can mean different things to different people. But scarcity creates value.

The notion of value is relatively subjective and mostly depends on the future demand for the asset. Bitcoin has brought scarcity and value into the realm of digital goods. Unlike music, videos, e-mail or software, that remain with with the sender after sending to someone, a Bitcoin spent is no longer available to the person that spent it. This is not the artificially imposed, legally constructed scarcity or type of DRM that attempts to use technical add-on. Bitcoin has set up a type of scarcity that is inherent and inseparable from the nature of the digital asset itself.

While there is no consensus on what gives cryptocurrencies value, I believe that knowing the current and future supply, is exactly the reason that cryptocurrencies value.

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London Fintech Yordex Adds Smart Cards to Suite of Software

UK fintech Yordex is making it simple for fast-growing companies to control business spend by adding company cards to its smart spend management solution, giving businesses complete visibility and authority over their current and future finances.

Expense management currently takes up a disproportionate amount of time and money within most organisations; on average, it costs in excess of $20 in people power to process every invoice or expense claim, while expenses only account for less than 6% of total company spend. In addition, firms struggle to get a real-time picture of their financial health, as their existing software platform only provide a historical view of spend. It takes an average company up to 10 working days at month end to get an accurate account  of what was spent the previous month.

Yordex is pioneering a new approach to managing business finances. Its smart solution provides 100% visibility over company spending – from cards and expenses to invoices and budgets – so businesses can control all current and future finances in one place, reducing the cost of spend management by 60-70%.

Fintech adds cards to smart spend management solution

Adding company cards further enhances Yordex’s smart spend management solution, by empowering employees to make autonomous purchases within set spending limits. Receipts and invoices are automatically matched with expenses and the correct VAT rate is applied, significantly reducing the administrative and compliance burden placed on staff. Businesses can also manage online spending, such as subscriptions, through virtual cards, avoiding the need to unsecurely pass physical cards around the office.

By introducing smart company cards that are fully integrated with Yordex’s spend management platform, businesses will be able to make agile, insight driven decision-making enabling real-time spend visibility and accurate cash flow control through the use of  Yordex’s financial reporting tools.

Erik De Kroon

Erik De Kroon, co-founder and CEO of Yordex, comments: “As companies grow, their costs become harder to track. Businesses want to keep the fast decision-making capabilities of their early days, but there have been no financial tools available to help them achieve this – until now.

Yordex enables businesses to retain control over their spend as they scale up, so they can make rapid decisions based on real-time insights. Introducing smart company cards will make it even easier for fast-growing businesses to make intelligent choices.”

Companies already using the Yordex smart spend management solution will be offered complimentary cards as valued customers.

Erik concludes: “Every business is different, but they all have one thing in common: they’ve got better things to do than waste time on spend management. Our approach gives companies complete cash flow visibility without expensive, time-consuming software implementations, and adding smart company cards will enable business owners to focus on growing their business without compromising on financial insight and control.”

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The State of European Fintech 2019

Finch Capital, in partnership with Dealroom, released a detailed data analytical report titled ‘The State of European FinTech, 2019 edition’, and reveals the drivers behind the strong value creation, the investors and the buyers of the fintech over the last five years.

According to the report, Fintech is Europe’s largest investment category (20% of all global investments) and is more prevalent in Europe than in Asia and the USA. European investors dominate with little role of non European investors until a much later stage (Series C+). There is a good mix between UK and continental European investors that lead the Seed and Series A/B stages with several new managers emerging since 2013 building on the Fintech momentum.

“The report shows FinTech proven to be more than a buzzword, creating €150B in value, many jobs, better experiences & products for European consumers. The next wave of enabling Financial Technology will be less visible but even more value accretive as it will tackle the inefficiency of the Financial Industry and can easily add another €150B in value.” Radboud Vlaar, Founding Partner, Finch Capital.

Fintech is Europe’s largest investment category

The report analysed four verticals of Financial Technology: Banking & payments, Insurance, Real Estate and Enabling Financial Technologies. The strongest investment momentum during the last decade has been in Banking & Payments, but data shows it is shifting to the enabling technologies, such as AI and IoT.

European fintech exits have totalled €83B since 2013. On top of that, the current pipeline of fintech startups valued over €1B+ is worth EUR 45B (unrealised value). By both measures, European Fintech companies have created over 2x more value than any other sub-sector in tech in Europe.

The exit landscape over the last years shows an interesting picture with only ±5% of the value of exits being realised via trade sales to traditional financial institutions. Based on the analyses traditional Financial Institutions have not engaged in M&A above the €500m mark, as incumbents cannot justify much bigger transactions, given they trade at 6-7x P/E and tech companies typically trade at 22-50x P/E.

“Europe’s next €10B+ or even €50B+ startup could very well emerge out of fintech. The term Fintech covers a vast space, from full-stack payment services like Adyen, to challenger banks like Monzo, to enabling tech like UiPath. With so much happening in the space, we’re excited to publish a comprehensive overview of the different areas of fintech, in partnership with Finch Capital, who know the space extremely well.” Yoram Wijngaarde, Founder and CEO of Dealroom.

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TrueLayer Embarks on Global Expansion with New APAC Hub in Australia

TrueLayer, the provider of financial APIs, has announced that it is establishing a presence in Australia.

This marks TrueLayer’s first major expansion outside of Europe, where it is already working with innovators from the largest markets such as Germany, Spain, France, and Italy. It follows the company securing a $35 million funding round led by Tencent and Temasek in June. TrueLayer will be the first European Open Banking specialist to establish a presence in Australia.

Earlier this year, TrueLayer was selected by the UK’s Department of International Trade to pilot its ‘fintech bridge’ programme to Australia, alongside Smart Pensions. As well as providing the ideal groundwork for TrueLayer’s expansion to APAC, the programme also includes TrueLayer’s participation in the upcoming Intersekt conference in Melbourne in October.

Hub will be the base for Singapore and Hong Kong expansion and comes ahead of new Australian Open Banking regulations

Beyond client demand, TrueLayer’s choice of Australia has been in part motivated by the country’s new Consumer Data Right (CDR) law which will come into full force in February 2020, and in part by the country’s strong home-grown fintech scene. The new legislation, which is similar to the UK’s Open Banking regulations, but wider in scope for data interoperability, enables consumers to access and safely transfer their financial data to trusted bodies via APIs.

TrueLayer provides a wide range of clients with an interface to access their customers’ data from financial institutions, and will bring its simple and secure API platform to Australia to help both local and multinational companies capitalise on the CDR regulations.

TrueLayer’s APAC operations will be overseen by Marie Steinthaler. Marie was previously Head of New Products at Zopa, where she oversaw its Open Banking strategy and implemented one of the UK’s first real-world use cases of Open Banking data in January 2018: income verification for loan applicants.

Marie Steinthaler, Head of APAC, said: “TrueLayer is entering Australia at the perfect time – Open Banking is set to explode much in the same way it has in the UK. We were at the forefront of this sea-change in Europe, and we are very excited to bring our developer-friendly API platform to Australia and the wider APAC region in quick succession.

Our immediate focus will be to grow our team in Australia and help our multinational clients to expand their offering in the region. We have a lot of experience in working with the Open Banking roll-out in Europe, and will use these learnings to build out our platform in the run-up to CDR’s February launch.”

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Santander InnoVentures leads $39m investment in debt marketplace CrossLend

Santander InnoVentures, Santander Group’s fintech venture fund, is leading a Series B investment of 35 million euros ($39 million) in CrossLend, a pan-European digital debt marketplace.

Oliver Schimek, CEO of CrossLend

Oliver Schimek, CrossLend’s CEO, told Bank Innovation the funding, which was confirmed this week, will support CrossLend’s expansion efforts, building on the 10 markets in which it currently operates. Existing investors Lakestar, ABN AMRO Ventures, and Earlybird, participated in the round.

According to CrossLend, the investment will be directed toward enhancing the platform’s capabilities, including a data technology layer and a settlement layer, which refers to the transaction infrastructure which takes an asset from one balance sheet and transfers it to another.

Crosslend also will need to hire more team members with a banking background to achieve these goals, and the company will be beefing up its in-house legal team, Schimek added. Founded in 2014, the CrossLend marketplace connects originating banks, or banks that would like to offload loans from their balance sheets, with a range of institutional investors that need fixed-income assets.

See also: Santander InnoVentures enters Brazilian fintech market through Creditas investment

“In a nutshell it’s basically one unified infrastructure where banks can trade loans,” Schimek explained. “We have introduced a marketplace-like structure into the institutional banking world, leveraging the resources that are already there, and therefore helping banks to be more profitable.”

From Santander’s perspective, the CrossLend investment advances a broader objective to improve the efficiency of capital markets through technology, thereby enhancing the return on investment for institutions. “Because [CrossLend] has better technology, a number of transactions that maybe in the past were not economical now become profitable,” said Manuel Silva Martinez, partner and head of investments at Santander InnoVentures.

Martinez emphasized that the bank’s model is to partner with companies in which it invests. Accordingly, the bank is working closely with CrossLend on a number of priority areas, including regulatory capital optimization and balance sheet allocation.

“We have a number of resources within the bank — both human resources and budgetary resources — to deploy commercial initiatives with the companies we’ve invested in,” he noted. “The bank would highly benefit from from working with CrossLend and seeing how the technologies it has developed can also be used for our own businesses to transform them and make them more profitable, more efficient and more transparent.”

3 ways to improve the retail app shopping experience
3 ways to improve the retail app shopping experiencePublication Type:
White Paper

Published / Updated:

With mobile apps poised to become the de facto digital shopping channel, retailers can no longer treat them as an afterthought or merely an extension of the website experience.

Retailers need to take the user experience into their own hands, as they would for in-store store shopping experiences. If the app shopping experience is less than perfect, brands risk losing customers to digitally-driven competitors, jeopardizing both brand loyalty and revenue as a result.

While the notion of having to customize the app experience to ensure it meets expectations may seem daunting, the reality is that most brands already have a head start.

Weekly Wrap: Legacy banks tout their digital prowess, as Ripple embeds with Finastra

Welcome to the latest episode of our weekly wrap video series, for the week ending Friday, October 18, 2019. In this episode, Angely Mercado, associate editor, discusses the following news developments: How legacy banks are increasingly growing their customer bases through digital channels; The evolving narratives around bank-fintech partnerships; and How banking technology provider Finastra …Read More

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