Temenos Signs Core Banking Deal with Maltese Challenger Laskaris Finance


Malta’s newest challenger bank Laskaris Finance, which aims to serve high-net-worth individuals and corporate clients, has chosen Temenos to be its cloud core banking provider, reports Ruby Hinchliffe of Fintech Futures, Finovate’s sister publication.

Laskaris is currently applying for a banking license from the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and the European Central Bank (ECB), which will allow it to work as a credit institution in and from Malta.

Temenos says its T24 Transact core cloud product will enable the Maltese challenger to launch in the “shortest” time frames, keep to regulatory standards, and screen transactions to tackle financial crime with Temenos’ Financial Crime Mitigation (FCM).

“Laskaris accepts the responsibility of challenging the status quo in banking – naturally within the parameters set by the local and EU regulators – simply because clients deserve to be provided with a superior array of banking services,” said Laskaris founder and CEO Roderick Psaila.

The neobank wants to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for high-earning individuals and corporate businesses by fusing personal and commercial banking needs together.

Malta, despite being just over 78,000 acres, was ranked in the top 20 financial service jurisdictions by the World Economic Forum’s 2017 to 2018 Global Competitiveness report.

Temenos’ Europe MD Steen Jensen said he’s “excited to see the growing list of challenger banks in Europe.” Laskaris is the tenth client for Temenos in Malta, with other customers including e-commerce payments solution Truevo and smart acquiring solution Credorax. Jensen called this “a testimony to our local expertise and growing footprint on the island.”

Founded in 1993, Temenos debuted its Connect Mobile Banking application at FinovateEurope 2015 in London. With 3,000+ bank clients in 150 countries, Temenos reaches more than 500 million end customers. In August, Temenos acquired Kony for $559 million. The company has a market capitalization of $11.8 billion.


Marijuana banking: Is there a SAFE path forward?


While the marijuana industry becomes more legitimate—and more lucrative—its participants’ need for traditional banking products and services increases. Conversely, current federal laws make capitalizing on this emerging client base an extremely risky proposition for financial institutions.

However, the recently introduced Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act might finally reconcile this conflict by providing safe harbor to those institutions that provide banking services to marijuana-related businesses (MRBs), and the momentum for its passage is growing.

Here is where the matter currently stands and what it means for our industry.

The veil of legitimacy

Today, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, and recreational marijuana is legal in 10. The District of Columbia has legalized both.

Despite the shift toward state legalization, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government, a dichotomy the Department of Justice (DOJ) addressed in the 2013 Cole Memorandum.

In early 2014, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) followed suit and issued BSA Expectations Regarding Marijuana-Related Businesses to provide guidance to financial institutions that bank MRBs in states where marijuana is legal. However, marijuana’s growing legitimacy hit a snag in 2018 when former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo. But in another conflicting twist for banks, the FinCEN guidance remains in effect, according to the ABA Banking Journal.

In advocating for the SAFE Banking Act, the state attorneys general pointed out the significant value of the marijuana industry, which was estimated to be $8.3 billion in 2017 and expected to grow to $25 billion by 2025.

The SAFE Banking Act

Both houses of Congress are expected to vote on the SAFE Banking Act in the near future. It would create a safe harbor for depository institutions in order to “increase public safety by expanding financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers and reducing the amount of cash at such businesses.”

The bill’s five key tenets—which apply to financial institutions that bank legitimate MRBs and their ancillary partners and vendors—prohibit federal regulators from imposing the following penalties:

  1. Terminating or limiting their deposit insurance just because they bank MRBs.
  2. Prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging them from banking MRBs in states where it is legal.
  3. Recommending, incentivizing or encouraging them not to bank MRBs, their owners or employees.
  4. Taking adverse or corrective action on a loan to an MRB, its owner or employees.
  5. Prohibiting or penalizing institutions or their third-party service providers for conducting routine banking functions for MRBs.

Legal or not, MRBs pose risk

Passage of the SAFE Banking Act would certainly make the choice easier for banks by alleviating a major risk currently associated with banking MRBs: the fact that at present it is done in contradiction to federal law and federal banking regulations.

Learn more about these marijuana-related regulations, as well as the steps your institution should take to minimize the risk of banking MRBs, by reading our Playing It SAFE: The Future of Cannabis Banking white paper.

Amber Goodrich, compliance strategist for CSI Regulatory Compliance, has more than 15 years of financial industry experience. She is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) and a Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager (CRCM).


Top 10 Reasons to Attend Women in Business Expo 2019


By Christie Day

If you are wondering why you should join the thousands of women set to visit the first ever event dedicated to Women in Business, here are our ten top reasons…

Be Inspired

Making a career-changing decision isn’t easy. Getting inspiration will spur your ‘can-do’ attitude and help you to make the right, informed choices about your professional future. We recognise both the challenges and opportunities facing women in the world of business which is why we are confident that every visitor who attends the event will leave feeling inspired. WIB Expo will provide inspiration in many forms – from our headline speakers Karren Brady, Michelle Mone and Caprice Bouret, to the 80+ talks from various business experts and more than 150 exhibitors from all the key industry sectors.

Seek Support

What stage are you at career-wise? You might want to progress in the corporate world, improve your own company’s sales or perhaps exploit your entrepreneurial ideas. At WIB Expo you will get all the advice you need to help you on your career or business journey. Most people lack skills in certain areas and seeking support can make a huge difference to your future success. From financial advice for prospective business owners to legal, accountancy and marketing support services for existing SMEs or even basic career guidance – we have experts on hand to support you at every level.

At WIB Expo you will get all the advice you need to help you on your career or business journey.

Get Motivated

Many of us are guilty of putting our personal and professional needs on the back-burner when other aspects of life take over. Now is the time to prioritise what you really want to achieve in your working life. WIB Expo could be the motivation you need to start planning your next move. Having the event date in your diary will focus your mind and give you a real incentive to assess your career ambitions.

Meet and Network

Networking can be an invaluable way to build both your confidence and contacts book. We may live in a digital world however face-to-face networking is still considered to be more powerful than virtual interactions. In fact, a recent study carried out in partnership with LinkedIn showed that 85% of jobs are actually filled through networking. At WIB Expo, we’ve created a Networking Hub, so you can talk to business experts and supportive employers with genuine job opportunities, or simply meet like-minded business women and connect with your peers.

a recent study carried out in partnership with LinkedIn showed that 85% of jobs are actually filled through networking.

Brush up your skills

If you’ve been on maternity leave, a career break or working in the same job role for a lengthy period, you could probably do with a confidence boost when it comes to recharging your career. At these times it makes sense to go back to basics and ensure you have a strong, well-written CV and the ability to standout during the interview process. At the event, there’ll be a dedicated CV and interview clinic to hone those specific skills, as well as a range of theatre seminars to inspire women who are returning to the workplace.

Career Me-time

Think of it as the ultimate form of career self-help that will help you decide which path to take. If you’re currently only able to grab a few snatched minutes researching your business idea or next career choice, just block out a single day to attend the event and gain some precious career me-time. We have childcare covered, if that is an issue, as there is a free crèche available at the venue. Many of our visitors who are still at the ‘contemplation’ stage of their career comebacks are bringing friends so they can make a day of it and explore the full range of job and business opportunities together.

Think of it as the ultimate form of career self-help that will help you decide which path to take.

Business Advice

There is a great deal of interest from women wanting to start their own business and those looking for support to get their business ideas off the ground. Currently, only a fifth of SME employers are female but this figure is expected to increase with more women stepping on to the self-employed career path. Starting and running a business is often a ‘learn-as-you-go’ process, from the initial brand building stage to filing accounts and growing sales. At the event, you can listen to, and ask for, expert advice in our various seminar sessions. As well as meeting key contacts, from service providers to finance companies, to support your new, or expanding, business.

Find a Franchise

Running a franchise is one of the biggest growth areas for female business owners and will be a key focus at our event. Entering into a franchise provides a tried and tested business model that can be up and running quickly with a greater chance of success. In many ways, it’s a ‘best of both worlds’ business scenario, however many women struggle to find the right franchise that will fulfil their ambitions but also fit around their individual circumstances. The Women in Franchise area will have a free franchise matchmaking service as well as representatives from a multitude of sectors; B2B and B2C franchises, franchises for couples, part-time franchises, work at home mum’s franchises and low cost franchises.

Running a franchise is one of the biggest growth areas for female business owners and will be a key focus at our event.

Time-saving Research

Many leading recruiters suggest that people looking to make a career transition need to spend 7 to 8 Hours per week for several weeks to prepare, research and network. Attending WIB Expo means you could finally seal your professional future in less than a day.

Instead of wasting numerous hours on research and planning while juggling with everything else, you will get all the support and resource you need by visiting the event.

Knowledge and know-how

It doesn’t matter if you’re a budding entrepreneur or a career-returner looking for a flexible job role – expanding your knowledge is a key part of achieving success. The event will help you to learn, exploit your ideas and open your eyes to other opportunities. The extensive seminar timetable has numerous sessions tailored to different elements of business – such as ‘Quick hacks for marketing your product’, ‘Harnessing your potential’ and ‘The power of thinking big and overcoming limiting beliefs’. You can also build your knowledge and improve your know-how by exploring different industries in the dedicated Women in Tech and Women in Business zones.

Women in Business Expo 2019 takes place 16-17 October in Farnborough. To explore the timetable, headline speakers and exhibitor list or to register please see here.

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Exclusive TFT Interview: Rob Wrzesniewski, Head of Global Solutions for Private Banking at SEI


TFT sat down with SEI’s Head of Global Solutions for Private Banking Rob Wrzesniewski, to discuss what he’s seeing in regards to the partnerships being formed between the large financial services incumbents and newer, more agile fintech start and scale ups in the space.

TFT: Tell us about the interaction you’re seeing between the large FS institutions and fintechs.

Rob Wrzesniewski

Rob: Contextually, I’m defining “large financial institutions” by traditional financial services or wealth managers. We’ve recently been seeing different models at larger firms that are inclusive of either renting or partnering with capabilities from fintech firms. Look at where we are now with the advent of APIs vs. where we were a few years ago. What we’re able to do with data today is a very attractive option for financial services companies who are looking to fill potential gaps in their product or platform line-ups. There’s opportunity to get creative and move fast by partnering with outside firms. 

Importantly, partnering with fintechs allows financial services firms to take a core satellite approach, which is typically an investment portfolio term, to build out platforms. From a technology standpoint, a core satellite approach allows financial services firms to stay focused on their core capabilities while using outside partners to fill in from the outside. It’s a very attractive model for both sides of that transaction.

TFT: Is there a pattern of big institutions buying early stage competitors to ensure the IP isn’t put to use in a way that could disrupt them?

Rob: We do see a pattern but  attribute it to other factors. For a financial services company looking to bring best-in-breed capabilities to clients, we don’t think it’s a fear-driven decision. We’re now in a space where there’s plenty of opportunities to meet and perform due diligence on fintech providers, assess how they could complement existing technologies, and rather than replace the existing functionality with the fintech’s capability, use it to supplement the client experience.

“There’s opportunity to get creative and move fast by partnering with outside firms.”

Replacing legacy technology with a fintech module isn’t necessarily done out of fear of disruption as much as it’s done to stay abreast of the most recent technology trends. In some cases, the best way to do that is partner with a firm that’s focused on a specific component of the investor value chain. They come to work every day committed to being the best in their space, and financial service firms would be smart to leverage that focus.

TFT: Are smaller start-ups able to conduct innovation more efficiently than larger institutions?

Rob: A smaller start-up that doesn’t have 15 or 25 years’ worth of legacy technology to consider can certainly hit the ground running faster than a larger institution that has to be mindful of an entire technology ecosystem. A start-up’s ability to focus on removing friction from a problematic workflow or enhance a dry client experience is powerful – but not unique. The ability to focus and iterate enables a startup to potentially move faster than a firm that’s got to worry about how to build while integrating functionality within legacy technology. 

In some cases, we see new, smaller scale firms that innovate faster. In others, we’re increasingly seeing large financial services institutions recognize the value in the approach – evidenced by what’s happening with robo advisors. Larger, established firms are able to throw a lot more resources at tech innovation and tie it directly to an already established distribution channel. 

“Replacing legacy technology with a fintech module isn’t necessarily done out of fear of disruption as much as it’s done to stay abreast of the most recent technology trends.”

We’ve seen those types of capabilities come to market, if not first to market then shortly thereafter. This approach isn’t just limited to small start-ups, as there are obvious benefits to having deep pockets and established technical talent to throw at solving the very same problems.

TFT: Are institutions cutting ties or shutting down the fintech parts of their businesses too quickly when things aren’t going as planned?

Rob: Not in our experience. Established financial services firms have the balance sheet and infrastructure, giving them the patience to take a longer-term view and eliminating worry about securing investment funding or integrating technology with a distribution partner to source products and services. 

Financial services companies can let initiatives play out at their own pace and be patient with innovative ideas and approaches. That’s certainly a strength of ours, as we can look at the big picture and take a long-term view on success. A new start-up can feel pressure to get an MVP developed, tested and out to market in order to show viability. 

TFT: What are your views on the increasing investment by PE into UK fintech despite recent M&A figures being down?

Rob: It’s not surprising if you look at the intersection of a couple of technology and financial trends. Specifically, the UK alone will see a wealth transfer exceeding £5 trillion over the next 30 years. Couple this with UK consumers’ fintech adoption rate of over 70%, and we see a huge opportunity deserving of the recent PE investment. It’s a really attractive growth space. Even with overall M&A figures being down, great opportunity exists due to this phenomenon. M&A firms can not only participate in the generational wealth transfer, but also experience growth powered by Gen X, Gen Y and millennial inheritors who have driven those high fintech adoption rates. 

“we can look at the big picture and take a long-term view on success.”

From payments to insurance to planning, the next generation is almost demanding that they’re able to access and interact with their wealth in non-traditional ways. Looking at what technology has done in the transportation and entertainment industries, it’s not surprising those same behaviors are bleeding into financial services and creating opportunities for fintechs. PE is definitely moving into where this demand lives and the assets are going.

TFT: What big successes have we seen, and conversely which big failures?

Rob: Even traditional financial services firms have become very aggressive about removing friction from every part of the client journey. If you look at how the industry has had to react to specific robo account-opening experiences, consumer expectations have changed forever. This can be seen as both a success for investors and a failure for traditional providers to drive innovation without outside disruption. Either way, it was an eye-opening shift for the entire industry. Going forward, we think this has changed the dynamic for good, and traditional financial services and fintech firms will continue to partner to deliver exciting capabilities to investors in the future. 

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Yolt Launches Savings Accounts in Partnership with Raisin


Yolt users in the UK, France and Italy can now apply for a Raisin Account accessing a wide range of deposit products, select from competitive Raisin offers and see their deposits, directly within the app.

The integration builds on Yolt’s mission to enable users to make informed financial decisions. Within the Yolt marketplace, users can currently switch their household bills, shop for insurance, make investments, combine their pensions and now, grow their savings via Raisin. 

Yolt’s Chief Marketing Officer, Cristel Lee Leed said: “Our latest partnership with Raisin will benefit our Yolt community of users, giving them access to savings products – empowering them to do more with their finances.”

The integration builds on Raisin’s strength in B2B partnerships, making its products and services available through a wider range of like-minded financial institutions, including fintechs and banks. Embedding Raisin‘s offers into their own platforms allows partners like Yolt to expand the spectrum of their savings products.

Pan-European deposits platform enables smart thinking money management app to expand savings offer

Building on an open banking vision, Raisin deploys a range of technical solutions, from fully integrated “white label” products using Raisin’s proprietary API to a variety of lead-outs, connecting a bank or money app’s customers smoothly to the Raisin platform.

Raisin strongly aligns with Yolt‘s vision of helping people optimise their financial management, with both fintechs dedicated to removing complex barriers consumers may face when it comes to better saving.

Kevin Mountford, Raisin UK CEO, explained: “In a highly competitive interest rate market, consumers are increasingly looking for providers that provide an all-in-one tool when it comes to their money. Raisin’s B2B solution gives financial service providers with the ideal tool to extend their offering, without pulling focus or resource away from their core services and offer their customers something new.”

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‘Growth’ valuations for startups- losing its allure?



Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.

 There has built during the past few years an InsurTech chase to ‘unicorn’ status  not uniformly based on NPV, but on growth. Fellow Daily Fintech columnist, Ilias Louis Hatzis, wrote well this week on “Tokenized Venture Capital” and VCs’ chase for investment valuation lightning in a bottle.  However, in that pursuit and as the growth value method broadens in use adverse indicators may be upon us.

There is one primary measure of success within the InsurTech startup ranks- reaching unicorn status.  Sure, innovation, disruption, and collaboration have been noted as InsurTech’s raison d’etre, but getting funded at a level that allows a unicorn ‘valuation’ of more than USD 1 billion based on potential, or growth- there’s the success differentiator.  Unicorn status currently opens doors- funding, IPO consideration (or ICO, or IEO, per Mr. Hatzis), key to the unicorn’s executive suite WC, and so on.

I have held that growth valuation is an arbitrary and incomparable standard between organizations and speaks little to the fundamental financial position of a respective company. A billion-dollar valuation founded on a $209 million funding level to date (Hippo Insurance) cannot be verified next year based on operations (not that The Hippo is less deserving of the designation than others- Hippo is to date an effective insurance entrant).  Lemonade enjoys an estimated two-billion-dollar valuation based on $480 million funding to date, another valuation that would be impossible to empirically peg this time next quarter (and Lemonade certainly is operating as an insurer on the move and experiencing increased value), and per SoftBank investor/Lemonade board member, Shu Nyatta,  “we’re confident that the best is yet to come. The value Lemonade provides, together with the values baked into its model, are fast making it one of the most intriguing, differentiated and compelling brands.”  Growth as value.

Where the arbitrary values become problems to the market is when those values are trumpeted and leveraged by funding companies to build finances to invest in further startups, or to support IPOs or other exit strategies.  The inestimable Wolf Richter expounded on the inherent dangers of spurious valuations in his podcast 10/06/2019,  THE WOLF STREET REPORT, and transcribed here.  I’ll not paraphrase Mr. Richter’s explanations and arguments but the podcast’s message is quite clear- wholesale leveraging of investments in startups in the eternal chase for winners is fraught if unbridled, as SoftBank is finding out.  The cascading effects on the market when big players grab- loss of VC confidence, increased tightening of requirements for those looking for funding, certainly financial losses for VC investors, and ripples into neighboring industries.  And then there is a resulting big gorillas in the startup room that spook others- the WeWorks (valuation arbitrarily dropping from $50 Bn to $25 Bn), and Ubers – IPO at issue $45, now at $29 per share.  Both firms being substantial positions for SoftBank, and significant causes for the heavy debt burden the firm has.  Combine the chase for successful IPOs, significant unicorn status, the firm’s asset sheet that includes more than 1/3 of its value as intangibles, the need to leverage valuation to keep the debt churning, and untenable bubble status comes to mind. That is no help to the VC community.

Take an example of an InsurTech that successfully posted an IPO, Germany-based insurer, DFV_AG,  Deutsche Familien Versicherung AG.  The firm’s IPO generated approximately 75 million euro, the funds and all financial operations can be reviewed in quarterly statements, and the market can apply financial accounting valuation methods if so interested (of course there are many so interested as there is a traded share price).  Capitalization and value are simply a matter of math and allows comparison with peer companies.  DFV_AG can take a valuation to the bank- literally.

Another option for startup funding- home grown initiatives.  Consider yesterday’s announcement by Santander Bank in Chile of its InsurTech spinoff, Klare.  The firm identified customer needs and a potential competitive advantage, worked the plan and numbers, received regulatory approval and are creating the start of a fintech ecosystem through organic growth.  I haven’t looked but it’s certain that the bank’s financials and capitalized valuation are available for review.  Certainly there are some internal sponsors of the action that have some growth valuations in mind, but those they keep to themselves for discussion over a  Nescafé.

And my final comparative, OYO, a startup in India that has built a multi-billion dollar valued firm operating in 80 countries, overseeing operations in 1.2 million lodging rooms.  Generating revenues before, during, and residually after consulting with lodging owners, and benefiting from investment by its founder, Ritesh Agarwal to the tune of some billions.  Yes, SoftBank is an investing parent but in this instance the founder has big ‘skin in the game.’  Again, there are financials that investors and the accounting regulators can see and apply valuation techniques to.  One expects OYO will grow, but that will be only a collateral basis for valuation.

Seems time to value ‘value’ as value in the economics sense, not the emotional.



Ripple to Offer Blockchain Technology through Finastra


Enterprise blockchain solution company Ripple teamed up with Finastra this week. The two are collaborating to enable Finastra clients to transact with RippleNet partners and make international money transfers.

RippleNet is Ripple’s global payment network that works across 40+ currencies and consists of more than 200 financial institutions. Because RippleNet leverages the blockchain, users are able to track funds, delivery time, and status.

“This partnership will enable Ripple to expand the reach and solutions for our partners, and the footprint of RippleNet while allowing customers to transact directly with each other,” said Marcus Treacher, SVP of Customer Success at Ripple.

Riteesh Singh, Senior Vice President, FMS, Finastra said that the partnership will prove “particularly beneficial” to Finastra’s clients that rely on correspondent banks. That’s because, since RippleNet runs completely on the blockchain, transaction fees are lower than the industry average.

Ripple has offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Luxembourg, Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney, and, as of July, Brazil. At FinovateSpring 2013, company co-founder Chris Larsen debuted Ripple (originally known as OpenCoin). Ripple started this year by surpassing 200 customers and, in June, the company formed a strategic partnership with MoneyGram.

Finastra formed in 2017 from the combination of Misys and D+H after Vista Equity Partners acquired Misys in 2012 and bought D+H in 2017. Misys demonstrated its FusionFabric.cloud technology at FinovateEurope 2017.


West Virginian student attempted to hack blockchain voting pilot


West Virginian student attempted to hack blockchain voting pilot

Image via iStock.com

The West Virginia Secretary of State office has said that someone tried to gain access to its blockchain-based mobile voting pilot in May 2018. This pilot allowed military members oversees who are residents of Harrison or Monongalia countries to use the Voatz app to vote. Voatz suspects that the hacker was a student from the University of Michigan, according to a report by Yahoo Finance.

The Voatz app links a user’s identity to their smartphone using a fingerprint or facial recognition and then uses between four and 16 nodes on a permissioned blockchain to verify ballots. Although the hacker tried to gain access to the system, they were allegedly unsuccessful, according to a press release from West Virginia’s Secretary of State Mac Warner.

“Every safeguard designed for the system was very successful and worked as designed: to gain as much information as possible, and protect the sanctity of the voters’ identities and ballots,”  Warner said in the release. “Although the details of the investigation cannot be disclosed, we can say that no votes were altered, impacted, viewed or in any way tampered with.”

Topics: Blockchain, Security

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FinovateAsia: From Digital Transformation to the Evolution of the Customer


A few days ago, we featured the Power Panels that will take place in Singapore at FinovateAsia next week. Today, we highlight the fintech analysts, executives, and entrepreneurs who will share their insights and experience at this year’s event.

FinovateAsia is just days away! To join us, visit our registration page today and save your seat as Finovate returns to Singapore! For more details, check out our full ,two-day conference agenda (including information about our additional Summit Day on October 16.)

Main Stage Presentations

  • The Digital Shift – How Can Financial Institutions Embrace Innovation & Harness New Technologies In The New Digital World? – featuring Scott Bales of Innovation Labs, Asia
  • Results Of The First ASEAN FinTech Industry Survey – featuring Shan Luo of FinTechSpace
  • Challenger Banks – How Will The Rise Of Virtual Banks & Open Banking Impact Business For Incumbents? – featuring Louise Beaumont

Emerging Asian Markets stream

  • The Exponential Rise of B2B & B2C FinTech In China – What Next For The World’s Most Progressive Fintech Market? – featuring Melissa Guzy of Arbour Ventures

Digital Lending stream

  • How New Players Are Harnessing New Technologies To Disrupt The Digital Lending Landscape In Asia – featuring Zennon Kapron of Kapronasia
  • How To Link The Customer Story To The Money Story In Financial Services – featuring Tom Mouhsian of Forrester

Digital Payments stream

  • How New Technologies & Changing Consumer Behavior Are Driving The Payments Race – featuring Dimitris Litsikakis
  • Ecosystem Disruptions and Payments Imperatives – featuring Daniel Latimore of Celent

InvesTech stream

  • Design Thinking & Organizational Change Through 21st Century Ways Of Working – featuring John Gist of Fidelity
  • The Retirement Journey In Asia: Building A.I. Powered Engagement With Your Customers – featuring Fahd Fachidy of ABAKA
  • Investment For Good Is Good Investment – Finance 2.0 – featuring Helene Yi of GoImpact

InsurTech stream

  • Digital Brokers: Shaping a New Era in Insurance – featuring Vivien Chua of Shenton Insurance Brokers
  • What Makes An Insurtech Start-up An Attractive Investment Proposition And Why? – featuring William Bao Bean of China Accelerator
  • Vertical Urban Mobility – How To Earn With It & How To Insure It – featuring Michael Wieser of Helvetia Fund

Main Stage Presentation

  • Where Are The Vulnerabilities In Financial Services Mobile Apps & How Can The Industry Safeguard Itself Against The Threat From Attackers? – featuring Alissa Knight of Aite Group

FinovateAsia is right around the corner! For more information about our upcoming conference in Singapore, check out our FinovateAsia page for details on how to pick up your ticket, plan your visit, and more!


Voleo Teams Up with Software Development Firm Convergence Concepts


A new partnership between Best of Show winner Voleo and Convergence Concepts will enable the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based social investing platform to enhance its technology and improve the user experience on its iOS, Android, and online applications.

“This partnership will allow Voleo to focus on its core – growth and scalability in both the B2C and B2B partnerships,” said Voleo CEO Thomas Beattie. “We are hearing the feedback from our customers and we are delivering. Later this year there will be more features and developments introduced into the platform, a direct result of customer interaction.”

A major goal of the partnership is to achieve a unified codebase across all three platforms – iOS, Android, and online. This will make it easier for Voleo to introduce new features, as well as improve its ability to test new marketing and user journeys. Voleo anticipates this will help the company scale its current B2C customer base and provide support for more “nimble, robust integrations” with financial services companies, credit unions, and banks on the B2B side.

“Convergence is thrilled to become Voleo’s partner for product engineering and design, and it is a privilege to work with such a professional and experienced management team,” Convergence CEO Matthew Housser said. “We believe that the Voleo platform has huge potential in both the B2C and B2B fintech spaces, and we’re excited to help evolve and scale Voleo’s core platform and unique user experiences.”

Founded in 2015, Voleo demonstrated its social investing platform at FinovateFall 2017, winning Best of Show for its app that leverages the collective wisdom of investors to pursue higher returns in the market. Earlier this year, the company successfully completed the 2019 FIS Fintech Accelerator program in July, along with fellow Finovate alums Neener Analytics, Gremln Social, and Digital Onboarding.

Voleo also participated in Google’s Digital Strategy program over the summer in a bid to increase user acquisition. This spring, Voleo won the 2019 Best Stock Trading App award in the investment category of the FinTech Breakthrough Awards. In March, the company teamed up with Nasdaq to launch their second Student Equity Trading Competition.

Publicly traded on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker TRAD, Voleo has a market capitalization of $9 million.


Finn.AI’s New Integration Makes Chatbots More Personal


Conversational AI technology company Finn.AI is helping banks deepen their connection to consumers. The new capability comes thanks to a partnership with Coconut Software, a digital scheduling solutions provider.

Finn.AI has integrated Coconut Software’s API into its own technology to allow users, through a natural chat conversation, to schedule a meeting with a live bank representative.

The partnership seems like an obvious fit to help banks communicate with a range of customers who have different comfort levels on digital channels. By adding the ability to schedule an in-person conversation, banks seamlessly communicate with customers and potential customers across channels, allowing them to switch between digital and in-person communication, depending on their channel preference.

“A fall off point for banks–that do not have a fully digital journey–is getting the consumer to interact with a banker, either in person or on the phone, after they have demonstrated an interest in a product online,” said Jake Tyler, Finn AI CEO. “By integrating with Coconut Software, we’re bridging that gap and making it easier for banks to interact with and convert online prospects.”

The combination of high tech and high touch is something we’ve seen a lot of in fintech, specifically in the wealth management space where consumers crave a high tech investment interface, but many still prefer to have a human to fall back on. In the chatbot arena, we’ve seen the insertion of the human touch in different ways. For example, some chatbots offer an option to view a phone number to call a customer service department. Other bots automatically change the conversation from bot to human, depending on the level of technicality. Finn.AI’s chatbot technology not only has this capability, but also leverages machine learning to learn from the human interactions.

Finn.AI has demoed twice at Finovate, taking home Best of Show honors both times. At its most recent appearance, FinovateFall 2017, Tyler demoed the company’s virtual banking assistant in Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant. Among Finn.AI’s recent partnerships are MX, TymeBank, and Auth0. The company was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.


Grubhub using partnerships, acquisitions to take on mobile food delivery rivals


Grubhub using partnerships, acquisitions to take on mobile food delivery rivals

Grubhub, which continues to trail rival DoorDash in terms of market share, has been relying on partnerships to boost its mobile food delivery business, according to a new report.

Analytics firm Second Measure is showing Grubhub trailing with about 32% of the online delivery market, compared with 36% for DoorDash. Grubhub is also fighting off other competitors like UberEats and Waitr Holdings. 

The report notes that Grubhub continues to have a solid partner base, including brands like Yum Brands, Shake Shack, Blue Apron, Dunkin’ Brands Group and others. The company has also been aided by acquisitions like Yelp’s Eat 24 and LevelUp. 

Cover image courtesy of Grubhub.

Topics: Mergers & Acquisitions, Mobile Payments, Restaurants

Companies: Grubhub, DoorDash

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StreetShares Partners with Farm Bureau Bank


Lendtech StreetShares, which offers business loans of up to $250,000 to US citizens, announced its partnership with rural US Farm Bureau Bank (FBB) to provide small business lending services to Farm Bureau’s six million members nationwide, reports Ruby Hinchliffe of Fintech Futures (Finovate’s sister publication).

StreetShares’ small business lending-as-a-service (LaaS) platform will provide the bank’s small business customers with “a decision in minutes and funding within 24 hours.”

FBB is a full-service digital bank in the US. Now able to offer fully-digital business loan applications with StreetShares’ technology, the bank says it chose the partner on account of its “flexibility and commitment to providing stellar service to underserved populations”.

“Since StreetShares is veteran-run, and we cater to rural America, we knew our values and mission would align with rural Americans’ small business lending needs,” said FFB’s director of national accounts Bob Baker.

By using a LaaS solution, FBB can offer unsecured lines of credit, making its loans faster and more competitive. The bank does not even have to integrate StreetShare’s platform with its core banking software.

“Since implementing the business lending platform, we have been able to expand our offerings and provide our members an innovative solution that meets their unique needs and helps them better manage and grow their businesses,” said Baker, who describes the entire loan process with StreetShares as “incredibly easy.”

Bank members can now apply from the comfort of their own home or office with instant replies and funding. Baker said the integration positions the bank “for continued growth” and “long-lasting relationships” with customers.

SteetShares’ CEO Mark L. Rockefeller said the bank’s adoption of its LaaS will “provide a better customer experience and expand its business lines.” Rockefeller hopes the partnership will bring small business lending to more qualified entrepreneurs across the country.

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Reston, Virginia, StreetShares demonstrated its lending-as-a-service platform at FinovateFall 2019. The company has raised more than $261 million in funding, and includes Rotunda Capital Partners, Fenway Summer Ventures, and Accion among its investors.


Ripple teams with Finastra on blockchain-based cross border payments


Ripple, an enterprise blockchain company, has entered an agreement with Finastra to support fast cross-border payments. 

Finastra customers, under the agreement, will be able to connect with RippleNet customers, which include more than 200 financial institutions. Users will be able to send international payments with end-to-end tracking and greater visibility regarding status, fees and delivery information. 

RippleNet is a blockchain payments network designed to offer faster and more reliable payments. 

“Finastra’s collaboration with Ripple is another strong example of Finastra’s belief that the future of finance is open, and it demonstrates our commitment to bringing the latest innovations and choice to our customers,” Riteesh Singh, senior vice president, FMS, Finastra, said in a company release. “Collaborating with a company like Ripple that harnesses innovative blockchain technology to provide fast and reliable cross-border payments is particularly beneficial for our customers in geographies where cost of correspondent banking is high.”

Topics: Blockchain, Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments, Transaction Processing

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Intuit, Visa launch instant payments for merchants using QuickBooks


Intuit, Visa launch instant payments for merchants using QuickBooks

Intuit Inc.’s QuickBooks announced a new service called Instant Deposit that allows small business owners to get real-time access to their funds through the Visa Direct push payments platform.

The service allows merchants using QuickBooks Payments to process real-time disbursements from their accounts to an eligible debit card. 

“Currently Instant Deposits is designed for merchant settlement, which will allow merchants to pay vendors and other out of pocket expenses by freeing up working capital,” a spokesperson told Mobile Payments Today. “Visa’s vision is to enable most cloud accounting platforms to use a Visa Direct transaction to facilitate faster merchant settlement, with plans to continue to drive faster payments for payroll and loan disbursements, ultimately providing a multi-tenant solution to help small businesses manage their cash flow.”

The Instant Deposit service has begun to roll out to QuickBooks Payments customers and will be generally available in the U.S. by the end of the year. 

Cover image courtesy of Intuit.

Topics: Card Brands, Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments, Transaction Processing

Companies: Visa

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Cash Flow Lending Could Help Tackle the UK’s Productivity Puzzle


The latest ONS figures show that labour productivity for quarter two (Apr to June) 2019, as measured by output per hour, fell by 0.5% compared with the same quarter in the previous year, falling at the fastest rate in five years.  This follows two previous quarters of zero growth.

Both services and manufacturing saw a fall in labour productivity growth of 0.8% and 1.9% respectively, compared with the same quarter in the previous year.

Dominic Buch, managing partner and co-founder of SME credit specialist Caple, said:

“Access to the right kind of finance is the key to solving productivity as that is what helps small firms become medium-sized businesses. Unfortunately, too many small firms struggle to grow because the lack of suitable finance hampers their productivity. 

Micro businesses can access finance from peer-to-peer platforms. Larger businesses, or those with assets, are well served by banks. The significant issue is for growing businesses, the ‘missing middle’, which need to borrow between £500,000 and £5m and do not have assets to use as security. 

Unsecured lending could solve the financing problem for UK businesses caught in the “missing middle”

To tackle productivity, growing firms need lending that is fit for purpose. Here, lenders should not focus on a business’s physical assets. Lenders must instead look at the future of an individual business and assess what cash flows it will generate. Cash flow lending will help small firms become medium-sized businesses and boost productivity across the economy.”

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Expensify launches corporate card to deepen client relationships


Digital expense management company Expensify launched a corporate card this week, building on its automated transaction tracking technology. The card offers business customers a new tool to manage expenses and adds to the data repository that will help Expensify tailor customer experiences. David Barrett, CEO of the San Francisco-based company, told Bank Innovation that the …Read More

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Northwestern Mutual: LearnVest’s legacy lives on


For Northwestern Mutual, digitization imperatives have forced it to think more like a tech company. It’s achieved this by way of internal reorganization and acquisition.

In particular, the path to developing more online tools included the acquisition of digital financial planning company LearnVest in 2015 for $250 million. Despite critics who allege that Northwestern Mutual overpaid for the acquisition, the company said its digital capabilities have been boosted by it.

According to the company, though LearnVest  was shut down last October, the financial institution has continued to use LearnVest’s financial planning technology in digital engagement efforts with clients. LearnVest’s old website now redirects to Northwestern Mutual’s Life & Money section, where potential customers can read articles about personal finance and calculate life insurance rates.

“The combination of LearnVest and Northwestern Mutual will address those needs by providing our clients a better financial planning experience and enabling our financial professionals to deliver trusted financial advice to more people who need it,” said John Schlifske, Northwestern Mutual’s CEO, in a statement.

See also: Northwestern Mutual commits $150m to startup investments

Northwestern Mutual’s digital revamp also consisted of growing customers’ online engagement with the brand. Prior to the digital revamp, three out of four online visitors would leave the site before searching for more information, according to Vivek Bedi, vice president of digital product. Northwestern Mutual’s online portal now features external account aggregation, budget and spending insights, as well as secure and easy document sharing. The bank has developed mobile banking apps for iOS and Android and a “sleek” public-facing website for potential clients, the company noted.

“We are investing in ways to transform and enhance our client experience, and it’s become increasingly digitized over the last three years,” said a company spokesperson, noting that customers can now view detailed product information, run reports and take self-service actions.

The company also has looked to other industries, particularly digital commerce, to influence its digital product designs.  During a presentation at Finovate in New York in September, Bedi noted that popular dating websites (including match.com) were influences on digital tools the company rolled for customers seeking financial advisers. Akin to “Tinder for financial services,” as some other institutions have rolled out, the company introduced a social media element to customer acquisition.

Looking ahead, the company plans to speed up development and product release times. “We have scaled to approximately 30 teams and have increased releases from less than 100 releases to more than 4,000 this past year,” the company noted. “This new way of working focused on user research, failing fast and shadowing our clients and advisors has been instrumental in our success.”

Bank Innovation Build, on Nov. 6-7 in Atlanta, helps attendees understand how to “do” innovation better. It is designed to offer best practices, to guide the innovation professional to better results. Register here


UK Retail Investors Switch Wealth Managers due to Poor Digital Experience


One in five retail investors (21%) claim to have stopped using a wealth management service because its digital offering was too weak. The new research from Nucoro, a B2B fintech providing Wealth Management as a Service solutions, also reveals a gender gap around this issue, with 25% of male investors having switched providers because of this, compared to 18% of women with investments.

The findings also reveal some significant differences here based on age. Overall, 42% of retail investors say they have changed wealth management services because of a poor digital experience, but this drops to just 11% of those aged 55- 64 and 8% of those aged 65 and over. 

Despite these findings, Nucoro’s research also reveals that 17% of retail investors say that the wealth management service they are using now does not currently offer them a digital service to manage their investments. Just 61% claim that the services they use currently offer this, and 22% are unsure.

When it comes to how much of people’s investment activity is currently done digitally, 24% said their digital activity made up over half of their investments.

What percentage of your investment activity is currently done digitally Percentage of UK retail investors
Less than 10%49%
10% – 25%15%
25 – 50%11%
Over 50%24%

Lennart Asshoff, CEO of Nucoro, said: “People are using more digital services for all aspects of their lives and how they manage their money is no exception.

Our research shows that many retail investors are willing to switch wealth managers if they feel the digital service is not good enough and we see this trend continuing, driven very much by younger investors.

A strong digital proposition is a necessity for any organisation offering wealth management services and not a luxury.

We expect to see more wealth managers outsourcing this part of their proposition to specialist third parties like us to ensure that they can focus on their core proposition of offering advice.”

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BREXIT: Boris Must Seize on Germany’s Recession to Convince EU Leaders to Gratify Demands


By Nigel Green, CEO of deVere

The economic data coming out of Germany again makes it clear that the German economy – Europe’s largest – is in a recession. 

This could be a long, painful downturn in the European economic powerhouse because there’s no workable monetary policy response in place from the European Central Bank (ECB), nor a serious fiscal one from the German government.  

This means the recession will not be a short, sharp one, but is likely to be protracted.

Clearly, this is going to have negative, far-reaching, long-lasting economic consequences across the whole bloc – and they come at a time when other major European economies, such as Italy’s, are also seriously struggling.

Germany and Italy alone account for 40 per cent of the annual economic output of the eurozone.

This grim scenario should be used by Boris Johnson and the UK government to force the EU into making the concessions demanded by London to get a deal done.

A no-deal scenario would be bad for Britain, as is much reported, but it would also be hugely damaging to the EU. The notion that was previously held by European leaders that the eurozone could manage a hard Brexit is vanishing fast. 

There’s a growing realisation that the UK crashing out without a deal is likely to be the factor that would send the eurozone into a lengthy recession.

This is a powerful negotiating tool and must be used to full effect by Boris Johnson for the economic good of both the UK and the EU.

A failure by Boris not to play this card this week – and a failure by the EU leaders to put the harsh economic realities over their political pride – would be foolhardy in the extreme and detrimental to the economies of the EU27 and Britain.

We now need our political leaders on both sides of the Channel to try and make something positive – an orderly Brexit – from a sea of negatives.

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