Eigen Technologies Hauls in $42 Million to Bring NLP Tech to Financial Services

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Natural language processing technology innovator Eigen Technologies has added $5 million (£4 million) to its Series B, taking the round’s total to $42 million and giving the firm more than $60 million in overall capital. The funding comes from ING Ventures and is part of a “broader strategic partnership” that blends Eigen’s NLP technology with ING’s experience in applying machine learning to financial services.

Eigen Technologies co-founder and CEO Dr. Lewis Z. Liu put the investment from ING in the context of the two firms’ years-long relationship. “(We) have found them to have some of the most advanced thinking in the market in the application of machine learning in financial services,” Liu said, “something that comes from their fantastic innovation culture.”

ING currently uses Eigen’s NLP technology in its LIBOR replacement and loan operations. Via the strategic partnership, the companies will accelerate deployment of Eigen’s technology in other areas, including trade finance and small business banking.

Eigen leverages machine learning to extract data from a diverse range of documents, and then integrate that data into the workflows of its customers. The company’s algorithms use pattern recognition to examine words, phrases, and sections of text to help businesses review documents for compliance purposes, automatically extract granular information from asset portfolios, and has applications in fraud identification, contract negotiation, and other activities.

ING Chief Innovation Officer and CEO of ING Ventures Benoît Legrand praised Eigen’s ability to deploy its technology in multiple use cases such as retail and wholesale banking. “This partnership will allow both companies to work closer together when implementing use cases through data and process analysis,” Legrand said, “so as to accelerate Eigen’s advantage in NLP as well as ING’s digital transformation.”

Eigen Technologies demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2019. The company has teamed up with more than 25% of the G-SIBs (globally systematically important banks), as well as major asset managers, insurers, hedge funds, and law firms. Eigen was founded in 2014 and has offices in London, U.K. and New York City.

Revolut Users Can Now Diversify with Gold

Digital alternative banking company Revolut announced this week it is helping users diversify their portfolios even further by enabling in-app purchases of gold.

The U.K.-based company, which first started with cryptocurrency holdings, then began offering investment in stocks, will enable customers on its Premium and Metal plans to purchase and transfer gold. Users cannot, however, make purchases with their gold holdings using their Revolut card. If a user attempts to make a purchase when they only have funds in gold, Revolut will convert a portion of their gold into fiat currency and use that.

Revolut makes it clear that since gold is not regulated by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, funds used to purchase gold – and the gold itself – will not be safeguarded under the U.K. Electronic Money Regulations 2011, the Payment Service Regulations 2017, or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

This is good timing on behalf of Revolut. Since the stock market and crypto assets are extremely volatile at the moment, many people are purchasing to gold to grasp onto some stability. And now they don’t even need to leave Revolut’s app to do so.

There is no word on if or when the company will allow trading of other precious metals such as silver or platinum.

The Look at the Role of Cryptocurrencies in India’s Cashless Revolution

We recently shared the news that restrictions on the ability of banks in India to work with cryptocurrency exchanges was overturned by the country’s Supreme Court.

With this in mind, and given the growing interest in India as a fintech power, we spoke with Neeraj Khandelwal, co-founder of CoinDCX, a cryptocurrency trading platform and liquidity aggregator in India. The company, founded in 2018 and based in Singapore, recently won the Excellence in Finance – Companies award by FiNext. Last month, CoinDCX launched its cryptocurrency derivative trading platform, DCXfutures. Bain Capital Ventures is among the firm’s investors.

Finovate: The biggest news in India in terms of the cryptocurrency market has to be the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Central Bank’s ban on cryptocurrencies. What can you tell us about the impact of the ban and the effect of the ruling striking it down?

Neeraj Khandelwal: The banking ban was related to the suspension of banking relationships with individuals or businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies, but crypto businesses were still free to operate on their own. In response, CoinDCX innovated and offered peer-to-peer services for the buying and selling crypto through INR.

After the verdict, banking relations have resumed once again. CoinDCX became the first cryptocurrency platform in India to integrate bank account transfers, just six hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Today, we are seeing 10x growth in signups on a day-to-day basis. Our product, Insta, which allows customers to buy crypto with INR, has also seen high hits. Overall, the market is in an upswing.

Finovate: What is the potential of the cryptocurrency market in India? How widespread are cryptocurrencies now and what factors are driving growth in adoption in India?

Khandelwal: Less than five million people currently hold cryptocurrencies in India today. However, listing websites like exchangewar.info have shown that the highest volumes are coming from India, so there is indeed great potential here. With a population of over one billion, India stands to contribute significantly to a large part of the global crypto volume and the industry as a whole.

In India, there is a growing number of cryptocurrency exchanges and startups that are constantly innovating to strengthen and expand the industry. In addition, India holds many favourable advantages for cryptocurrency adoption—for instance, with an average age of 27 years, India has a huge working population with disposable income on the rise. 

Finovate: Many of us outside of India are fascinated by the country’s cashless experiment. At this time, what has been learned from that experience and what is the future of cashlessness in India?

Khandelwal: The writing on the wall is crystal clear that cashlessness is the way to go. This was first witnessed on an extremely large scale during the time of demonetization in late 2016. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which is the umbrella body for retail payments and settlements in India, revealed that the value of UPI transactions for December 2019 was INR 2.02 Lakh Cr. This figure is expected to grow as cashlessness brings greater convenience and faster transactions.

As cryptocurrencies are entirely digital, it promotes greater benefits for cashlessness in comparison to fiat currencies. I believe that in the coming years, the Indian economy will be built on the foundation of a cashless society, with both digital fiat and cryptocurrencies working in parallel.

Finovate: You are part of the founding team of CoinDCX. Can you tell us a little about the company, the market it serves, and the role it plays in helping pave the way for broader adoption of cashless technologies?

Khandelwal: CoinDCX specializes in crypto-enabled fintech services. Sumit Gupta and I founded CoinDCX in 2018, with a mission to connect billions of people to global financial markets. Today, CoinDCX is reputed to be India’s most trustworthy cryptocurrency trading platform and remains one of the strongest products in our service offerings. CoinDCX has empowered its traders with a bouquet of industry-first crypto-based products to trade better using liquidity from the world’s leading exchanges like Binance, Huobi Global and OKEx.

By bringing all crypto-trading products under a single roof, our products are designed to cater to all types of traders, keeping their experience, risk tolerance, and frequency of trading into consideration.

Our users have found the platform to be simple and effortless. Anyone can trade in 500+ markets with DCXtrade, convert their INR to cryptocurrencies and vice versa on DCXInsta, earn by lending their holdings with DCXlend, and leverage their trades up to 6X in 250+ Altcoins using DCXmargin.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Asia-Pacific

  • Alipay to encourage 40 million merchants and service providers to use its mini programs as competition with WeChat intensifies.
  • Hong Kong will soon have a new challenger bank as Standard Chartered’s Mox Bank opens for business later this year.
  • Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm turned super app company Grab to use Wirecard for payment processing.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Visa and Nigeria-based mobile money platform Paga forge strategic partnership to bring more security and convenience to mobile payments.
  • South African cloud platform builder Jini Guru teams up with product engineering firm Azilen Technologies to build fintech solutions for emerging markets.
  • Modern Ghana features WorldRemit Country Manager Gbenga Okejimi on the country’s fintech industry.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Total Croatia News features Microblink in its look at Croatian companies making the Financial Times’ 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Europe roster.
  • International Banker profiles Poland’s digital banking leader mBank.
  • Hamburg, Germany-based lender Kreditech rebrands as Monedo

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA) hires payments technology company HPS to provide a QR-based payments system.
  • Orange Money goes live in Morocco after receiving authorization from the Bank Al Maghrib.
  • Business Chief Middle East looks at the top 10 fintech startups in the Middle East and UAE.

Central and Southern Asia

  • FamPay, a Bengaluru, India-based fintech that is building a payments network for teens, picks up $4.7 million in seed funding.
  • Bloomberg Quint looks at the controversy over the Reserve Bank of India’s moratorium on Yes Bank and its impact on fintech companies in the country.
  • My Republica asks whether or not India’s cashless revolution can be extended to Nepal.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican fintech Clip launches new “point of sale in the palm of your hand” solution, Clip Total.
  • Born2Invest look at how fintech platforms are supporting female entrepreneurs in Mexico.
  • Fintech-as-a-service company Rapyd partners with Brazilian payment providers Dock and Banco Rendimento.

Top image designed by Freepik

Gender Diversity & Events Industry Insight

What does it take to create an event with true gender diversity? In this piece, Finovate Content and Strategy Director Adela Knox, who was recently named the Goodwill ambassador for the European Women Payments Network (EWPN), explains how she gets the balance right.

Finance leaders have predicted this year could mark a turning point for gender diversity in the banking and finance sector as pressure is mounting and gender pay gap reporting galvanizes efforts to promote more women.

The financial services industry is making progress on gender balance in the workforce. Mindsets are changing and, as a result of hard work and commitment, progress is starting to be reflected in the numbers. Finovate has always advocated for gender diversity at our events globally to support the overall industry change and market shift happening within the fintech sector. There is still a long way to go to create an environment in which women have equal access to opportunity and positive outcomes but we at Finovate are eager to support the industry change every step of a way.

Our team made a commitment to pledge to only run events with mixed-gender panels. As a result a considerable amount is being done to challenge the prevalent all-male conference panels. We provide women in fintech with an opportunity to bolster their profile and to be taken seriously. The gained visibility and platform become fundamental to getting women into the boardrooms and ultimately build their network and advance their careers.

We focus on an equal female-to-male ratio during our speaker acquisition phase and we also proactively support gender equality at our events while running Women in Fintech forums with the goal to empower women in financial services and technology.

The Women in Fintech forums are compiled of networking evenings, workshops, panel discussions, keynote presentations, and debates offering dialogue-driven sessions and initiatives to promote diversity and gender equality at the workplace and educate on why encouraging it matters. Topics include: What is diversity in the workplace? What are the benefits and challenges of diversity in the workplace? How can we manage diversity in the workplace? What should hiring, policies, & practices look like? How can we promote gender equality at workplace? etc.

We collaborate with various industry bodies and associations who strive to create more opportunities for women and minorities, as well as being a champion for a more diverse and inclusive industry for all. Some of the groups that we collaborate with include the European Women in Payments Network (EWPN), Women in Fintech NY, and Women in Fintech SF.
This is an ongoing effort and we at Finovate are passionate to constantly grow and elevate our initiatives globally.
Recently, i had an opportunity to interview Isil Ugurlu, the German Ambassador of EWPN, while running yet another Women in Fintech forum at the annual FinovateEurope 2020 in Berlin, about what it means for the organisation to collaborate with event organisaers like Finovate. You can watch the interview here:


To promote the gender goal of 50/50 diversity in financial services, women who register by this Friday, March 13, can purchase a ticket to any 2020 Finovate event at a 50% discount. Just enter the code EQUALITY on the booking form.

Mastercard and Samsung Make Going Digital More Accessible

Mastercard announced a partnership with Samsung’s security platform, Samsung Knox today in a move that will serve to foster digital inclusion across emerging markets.

“This partnership with Mastercard is our way of making that future available to everyone by helping to close the digital divide, especially in emerging economies and countries,” explained KC Choi, executive vice president of Global Mobile B2B at Samsung.

The two will use Mastercard’s Pay on Demand platform which offers consumers device financing via a pay-as-you-go model. Built by Mastercard Labs, Pay on Demand brings together banks, equipment manufacturers, and telcos to solve issues limiting device financing in underserved markets. The program consists of four components:

  • A lending marketplace that aggregates lenders who offer affordable device financing
  • Samsung’s Knox security platform that ensure the safety of consumer data and transactions
  • Tools that help consumers analyze and build their credit history from usage data
  • Virtual card numbers that can be used for everyday transactions and to make payments on a device

“At Mastercard, we see a connected world where opportunity and prosperity are possible for everyone, everywhere,” said Jorn Lambert, executive vice president of Digital Solutions at Mastercard. “The Pay on Demand platform enables us to deliver on that vision and foster financial inclusion, giving consumers an opportunity to participate in digital commerce. By combining Samsung’s device management and security expertise with Mastercard’s innovative technology, we are creating an ecosystem that can deliver measurable, positive impact to the communities we serve.”

Pay On Demand will be launched in the Middle East and Africa in early 2020 and will extend to other geographical locations later this year.

Up for the Challenge: Digital Bank NorthOne Raises $21 Million

For all the talk of challenger banks in Europe, Southeast Asia, and the U.K., the movement to bring alternative banking options to consumers and small businesses in the U.S. may deserve more attention than it tends to get. And this week’s news that SME-based challenger bank NorthOne has raised $21 in Series A funding, is a reminder of why.

“We created NorthOne to serve businesses that are often underserved by big banks,” bank CEO Eytan Bensoussan explained. “Having grown up in a family of small business owners myself, I know first-hand what to expect when it comes to small business banking.”

The round was led by Battery Ventures’ Shiran Shalev, and featured participation from Redpoint Ventures and Tom Williams. The investment takes the bank’s total capital to more than $23 million.

“With this funding,” Bensoussan added, “NorthOne will be able to continue to develop solutions that simplify the most painful part of managing a small business, its finances.” The additional capital will also enable the challenger bank to add to its product and engineering teams, as well as spend more on marketing and customer acquisition.

NorthOne offers small and medium-sized businesses a digital, FDIC-insured, business checking account with mobile ACH, wires, check deposits, and access to 300,000 fee-free ATMs across the U.S. NorthOne’s mobile-first, API-enabled platform also offers overseas vendor payments, and software integration with expense management, accounting, and e-commerce systems. The company noted that, in the second half of last year, it has signed up 1% of all small businesses that applied for bank accounts in the U.S.

“Millions of dollars are spent using NorthOne debit cards every month,” Bensoussan wrote on the company’s blog today. “And we expect those numbers to keep rising as we open thousands upon thousands of new NorthOne bank accounts each month.”

Founded in 2016, NorthOne launched its small business banking account last fall, in partnership with Radius Bank.

How Banks Make Digital Transformation Work

One of the more consistently insightful observers of the fintech industry, author Chris Skinner, highlighted the rise of central bank digital currencies as one of the more surprising conversations at FinovateEurope this year.

“China’s about to launch one, there’s going to be a digital dollar from the Fed at some point probably,” Skinner said. “And the implications of that on cross border payments and infrastructure was one of the topics that was a little bit off track to me because it hadn’t come up before. So I enjoyed that immensely.”

That said, the man behind theFinanser.com and chair of the Financial Services Club spent the majority of our conversation in Berlin talking the discussions he’s had with leaders in the banking industry who are tackling the challenge of digital transformation head on – and succeeding. These insights are at the core of Skinner’s upcoming book, Doing Digital, to be published in April.

Skinner also shared some insights on banks and their role in digital identity management. He noted Head of OP Lab for Finland’s OP Financial Group Kristian Luoma who pointed out that even in a future in which banks aren’t involved in payments or authentication due to intermediaries like Square and Apple ID, for example, there is still a critical role for banks to play. But banks must be ready to share the ball.

“It’s one of the few times I’ve heard a bank actually stating that in such a clear way, because most banks still think they have to own and control everything,” Skinner observed. “The idea of being just a player in a system – that’s the way we have to think for the future.”

Here are some of the top takeaways from our conversation with Chris Skinner this year at FinovateEurope in Berlin.

On why a “bare-knuckle approach” to the challenge of successful digital transformation is appropriate – if not required

Skinner: Digital transformation is not easy, it’s really hard, it takes years, it involves balancing business-as-usual with business-as-unusual, and it’s something that had to be led by the chief executive and chairperson and cannot be delegated. I find too many banks think that digital (transformation) is a project or a function or a budget that can be delegated. But that’s absconding the reality. The reality is that you have to own it.

On the swim-or-sink approach companies that succeed in digital transformation have adopted to ensure a digital-positive culture

Skinner: The most difficult thing in any transformational project is getting the middle management to buy into the project and participate. And commit. Because often the middle management are the most worried about what’s happening. They think they are going to lose their job or they might lose their part of the organization or they might lose their power. They might lose their people. They might lose their promotion. So they fear change rather than embrace it. And it’s really a case of: how do you bring those people with you?

On the progress some innovative banks are making toward digital transformation.

Skinner: One of (the banks I interviewed for Doing Digital) had a head of ecosystems. It’s the first time I ever met anybody at a bank who’s called the “head of ecosystems.” His pure role was to go out and find appropriate partnerships – in the world of APIs and apps and analytics – on open platforms and bring them in to work with the bank. At the time, they had about ten partnerships, and I think today they’ve more than doubled that number. So there are some banks taking it very seriously.

Watch the full, 10-minute interview on Finovate TV.

Celebrating #WomenInFintech

Celebrating #WomenInFintech

At the beginning of this week, Greg Palmer wrote,

In order for fintech to be for everyone, it needs to be from everyone.

It’s a line that will strike a chord with anyone, across industries, who find themselves in the minority within teams and businesses, or even the sole representative of a different background or perspective.

Addressing gender-gap challenges in the finance industry is on-going, and a key part of this is providing a platform for women to share their insights and vision for the future of fintech. As part of this endeavor, we brought together some of the leading women from FinovateEurope to share their thoughts not only on issues on diversity in the workplace, but also on the key pain points in their field and their ideas on how to overcome them.

First, here’s a look at an interview with Dr. Louise Beaumont, Tech U.K.’s Co-Chair of the Open Banking & Payments Working Group. Beaumont was the Chair of the Open Banking Industry Stage at FinovateEurope last month and spoke with Finovate Research Analyst David Penn on the future of open finance, why banks need to believe they are trusted, and creating a full data daisy.

Penn also interviewed Ghela Boskovich, Founder of FemTechGlobal and Chair of the Digital Future Industry Stage at FinovateEurope. In this conversation, Boskovich explores why culture is the cornerstone on which financial institutions built looks at and the need for more public education around data.

The next interview was with Theo Lau, Founder at Unconventional Ventures and Chair of FinovateEurope’s Future Tech Industry Stage. Lau explores the challenges AI presents to legacy businesses and gender diversity in fintech.

Finally, here’s a conversation with Simone Vroegop, Head of European Product Management of Financial Technology at Brown Brothers Harriman. Vroegop discusses why it is crucial to have an open mind and look to where value can be added to an asset manager’s operating system, and why she’s surprised that hasn’t been more disruption in the sector.

Watch all our interviews with #WomenInFintech now >>


To promote the gender goal of 50/50 diversity in financial services, women who register by this Friday, March 13, can purchase a ticket to any 2020 Finovate event at a 50% discount. Just enter the code EQUALITY on the booking form.

Nancy Giordano, Big Shifts, and How Exponential Technologies Will Change All

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African American comedian Richard Pryor joked after seeing the classic, 1976 movie Logan’s Run that the future didn’t look so bright to him. Why? Well, with no black people cast in the futuristic sci-fi flick, the legendary funny man surmised that, perhaps, “White folks ain’t planning on us being here.”

A similar thought comes to mind when anticipating the upcoming presentation by strategic futurist and TEDx Curator Nancy Giordano at FinovateSpring in May. In spite of the increasing evidence that the future belongs to women, the ranks of futurists – the people helping us understand, anticipate, and prepare for the world to come – tend to feature far fewer women than you might imagine.

This is just one of many reasons to look forward to Giordano’s keynote opening address “Navigating the Big Shift – How Exponential Technologies are Changing … Everything.”

A guest lecturer at Singularity University, and a ten-year TEDx curator, Giordano is recognized as one of the top female futurists in the world. A frequent panelist at South by Southwest, she has been on the board of the retail trade association, GMDC, and on the advisory council of both Retail Tomorrow and Future Frontiers, a fintech conference designed to help strengthen community banks. She also is a part of Austin, Texas-based, artificial intelligence services provider KUNGFU.AI.

And given her theme at FinovateSpring, of how big shifts change everything, it is easy to wonder how a shift in perspective on the future – from male-generated to female-generated – can fundamentally enhance our capacity to cope with technological change.

“You are also a human that is going through this. You are a parent, you are a son or daughter. You are part of a community that is wrestling with these questions,” she said in a compilation of remarks titled What Does the Future Expect from Us and How Do We Create that Future? “It’s hitting us personally, not just professionally.” She used the example of a group of women, all strangers, spontaneously consoling a young mother and her child at an airport as the model for the kind of take-action agency and humanistic focus she believes is required in order to build the future we need.

To this end, Giordano warns businesses to avoid the temptation to not make decisions. She uses the metaphor of training soldiers to act dynamically in the face of often existential uncertainty to explain why companies need to move beyond pining for “killer apps” or “the right time.” Often, she notes, by the time that’s happened, it’s often too late.”

Giordano’s futurism is a human-centered one. In response to an extended discourse from a cloud computing specialist who was extolling the virtues of the digital cloud during a conference panel, Giordano asked, “what is the equivalent of the human cloud? What allows us to level up in that same way? And are social technologies keeping up with digital technologies?”

Again and again, Giordano emphasizes less the new gadgets and gizmos to come from exponential technology development and instead reinforces how these technological changes will require new behavior on our part. “This is not just about understanding the Shift,” she says of the “permanent state of ambiguity” that characterizes our technological – and social – present and future. “It calls to a different kind of leadership, or ‘leadering’, or posture, or approach.”


To promote the gender goal of 50/50 diversity in financial services, women who register by this Friday, March 13, can purchase a ticket to any 2020 Finovate event at a 50% discount. Just enter the code EQUALITY on the booking form.

Airwallex Integrates with Xero to Help SMEs Reconcile Cross-Border Payments

Photo by Adrianna Calvo from Pexels

Small and medium-sized businesses working with Australian cross-border payments company Airwallex will be getting some help with their books. The company has announced a new partnership with New Zealand-based, cloud accounting company Xero.

Specifically, the newly-announced collaboration will enable Airwallex customers to reconcile their domestic and international payments by connecting their multi-currency financial transactions in Airwallex to Xero. Businesses will get daily updates of their transactions via their Xero bank feeds, accelerating and simplifying the reconciliation process, and saving companies both time and money.

“As more small businesses enter overseas markets, it’s important that their multi-currency payments flow seamlessly in Xero and are automatically reconciled,” Xero Financial Industry Director Ian Boyd said. “This integration with Airwallex will ensure our mutual customers spend less time on administrative tasks and more on what’s important to them – running their business.”

The integration is live in Australia and will be made available in both the U.K. and Hong Kong later in 2020.

Airwallex leverages its proprietary technology and infrastructure to facilitate low-cost, high-speed payments and collections around the world. The company allows SMEs to access interbank FX rates on international transactions, and enables them to open Airwallex accounts in the U.S., U.K., and European Union to conduct their international operations. Airwallex’s partnership with Xero comes on the heels of its teaming up with Visa for the launch of its Airwallex Borderless Card, which makes it easier for SMEs to do their banking business online.

Calling an integration with Xero, “one of the most requested integrations from our customers,” Airwallex Co-founder and CEO Jack Zhang said that the partnership was part of a “wider international rollout” the company will launch over the course of the year. “This is the start of a series of capabilities that we plan to introduce with Xero to improve the way small businesses manage their finances across platforms,” Zhang said.

With ten international offices, including locations in Hong Kong, London, Shanghai, San Francisco, and Bangalore, Airwallex has raised more than $200 million in funding from investors including DST Global, Sequoia Capital China, and Tencent. The company was founded in 2015.

Founded by former CEO Rod Drury and a Finovate alum since 2011, Xero has grown into one of the world’s major, cloud-based accounting software platforms. This year, the company announced a partnership with Square to power instant invoice payments in Australia, and collaborated with Macquarie Group on a new initiative to help support the financial advisory and planning industry in Australia.

Steve Vamos took the helm as Xero’s CEO in 2018. The following year, the company reached 1.8 million subscribers and positive free cash flow for the first time.

Grab to Use Wirecard for Payment Processing

Financial commerce technology provider Wirecard announced today it has partnered with Grab, a super app based in Southeast Asia that provides users with everyday services including on-demand transportation and food delivery.

Under the partnership Wirecard will process transactions made using Grab’s ewallet GrabPay in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.

Grabpay, which is accepted by 600,000+ merchants, works for both online and brick and mortar transactions. Along with payment processing, Wirecard will help introduce Grabpay to more merchants, expanding acceptance across Southeast Asia.

While mobile payment functionality may not be impressive to U.S. users, keep in mind that mobile wallets are much more popular in Asia. In fact, mobile wallets are almost 2x more popular in Southeast Asia than they are worldwide. Among consumers in the region, 44% regularly choose their mobile wallet as a payment method. In comparison, the global average mobile wallet usage is 25%.

Senior Managing Director of Grab Financial Group Reuben Lai explained that Wirecard will help the company build a cashless economy for millions of businesses across Southeast Asia. “Wirecard’s innovative mobile payments solutions will not only complement our GrabPay e-wallet platform, but also offer businesses and consumers the opportunity to transact with greater security, convenience and flexibility,” he said.

Today’s announcement comes just days after Wirecard partnered with another player in the gig economy. Earlier this month the Germany-based company partnered with Xolo to offer more robust financial tools to entrepreneurs and micro-businesses.

Equality Starts with Us

As any woman working in fintech can tell you, we have a long road to equality. The good news is that equality starts with us.

And because we are responsible for exemplifying the change we want to see in the workforce, we are in control of how we inspire others and create solutions.

Today we bring you perspectives from two women working in the fintech field to get their take on what they are doing to be the change they want to see.

First up is Sophie Theen, Chief People Officer at Oakam, a U.K.-based fintech that helps underserved individuals build credit. Theen is passionate about recruitment, culture, diversity, and inclusion and has helped a number of tech startups with talent recruitment and HR strategy. She has received multiple industry awards, including being named a WeAreTheCity Rising Star Finalist in 2019.

In your professional life you help startups recruit talent. What is your strategy in promoting diversity?

Sophie Theen: Hiring for diversity to me is very simple. We don’t want to deliberately hire for diversity i.e., rejecting male candidates or promoting or writing an advert that only speaks to a woman. It’s about making it fair and equal to all candidates who are in the process and ensuring that the hiring managers and panel of interviewers are diverse, too (so no all male or female panel).

It’s also got a lot to do with the way we present ourselves as a company. If we want to be recognized as an inclusive employer, then we need to always remember to put effort in taking those baby steps.

Tell us how someone in the industry has helped empower you.

Theen: So I haven’t been in fintech for so long yet, and my first experience wasn’t all that amazing. I was new to the industry and had to learn to navigate through adversity in a heavily male-dominated environment, most of the time feeling quite lost and insecure.

This was the case until I joined 11:FS in 2017. The leadership there really changed my impression about the industry. My CEO then, David Brear, empowered me in every way you could imagine; that made me realize this is the industry I’m passionate about and this is where I want to make a change for the better.

How do you empower other women to achieve success of their own?

Theen: Simple, I give as much of my time as I can back to the women that I meet, cross paths with, and to those who reach out to me asking for support. Because if it wasn’t for my community and mentors around me, I wouldn’t have gotten the strength– let alone the confidence– to enjoy doing what I’m doing everyday.

The one most important thing I’ve learned from them was that I needed to believe in myself. So to anyone of you thinking you can’t– stop. We’re the only ones limiting ourselves!


Our next interview was with SVP of Product and Marketing at biometric authentication company iProov, Aarti Samani. After working for more than 10 years in the investment banking space, Samani transitioned to the tech sector and has since gained experience in banking, consumer technology, and healthcare.

Talk to us about efforts at iProov to promote diversity within the organization and in the tech community at large.

Aarti Samani: iProov is an inclusive and diverse organisation. We always look to hire the right person for a role based on their experience and skill set. Everyone gets a fair chance regardless of labels like race and gender. We actively promote a culture of inclusivity in the organization in a number of ways. Our flexible working policy encourages an inclusive workplace, as well as women centric comms channels to provide support. The diversity in demographics across the organization enables iProov to propel as a startup.

We celebrate the uniqueness of our people, and endeavour to inspire young people from all walks of life. For example, as part of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, iProov published a blog post showcasing the career trajectories and accomplishments of my colleagues and I. By demonstrating some of the exciting work that STEM skills can lead to, we hope to inspire young women to pursue STEM.

Despite a lot of progress, women are still highly underrepresented in technology – both as employees and as leaders. I take conscious responsibility to empower women and other minority groups around me.

Tell us about a way someone in the industry has helped empower you.

Samani: I have been incredibly fortunate to have had great mentors and sponsors who have both supported and guided me in my career.

According to research from the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), 85% of women and 81% of multicultural professionals need navigational support to figure out how best to succeed in the workplace, but often don’t receive it with nearly the same regularity as men.

I would like to take this opportunity to call out Eric Collins, a former colleague, and now a dear friend. Eric not only helped me navigate a career transition from finance to technology, he was also a strong role model and an influential sponsor. His endorsement and guidance helped me to grow as a leader and helped advance my career in an otherwise male dominated environment.

Working with Eric was a very positive experience and has greatly shaped my approach to leadership, team-building and the impact I aspire to have on people I work with.

How do you empower other women to achieve success of their own?

Samani: As a leader, I mentor and coach members of my team and in the wider industry to help them develop their professional and people skills to help them succeed in their careers.

I am invested in the growth and well-being of my team so that they are able to be their best selves at work and in their personal lives. I am a big believer in celebrating each individual’s accomplishments and ensure that their work is recognized across the organization. This instills a sense of pride in their work and fuels a virtuous circle of increased confidence in their ability to deliver, which encourages people to aim higher and in turn accomplish more. To foster mental well-being and create space for the team to reconnect with themselves as well as each other, I make available weekly team meditation sessions. This, coupled with an emphasis on open, collaborative team culture means everyone leans in and acts as sponsors for their colleagues. This leads to lower stress levels overall, and promotes greater happiness in and out of work.


To promote the gender goal of 50/50 diversity in financial services, women who register by this Friday, March 13, can purchase a ticket to any 2020 Finovate event at a 50% discount. Just enter the code EQUALITY on the booking form.