Digital Dollars and E-Euros: The Case for National Digital Currencies

India is the latest country to announce that it is looking into development of a national digital currency – or what’s known in the industry as a Central Bank Issued Currency (CBDC). In recent weeks and months, we’ve heard news of a growing number of central banks investigating the pros and cons of digitizing their money supply. Japan announced last week that it is considering the advantage of a “digital yen.” The Central Bank of the Bahamas is also examining the issue, as is, ahem, North Korea. Tunisia made fintech headlines last fall when a Russian news agency reported the country had digitized its currency. But Tunisian authorities have since denied the story.

The case for digitizing national currencies includes the idea that, at a minimum, central banks need to keep up with – if not get ahead of – the trend toward the digitization of money. More constructively, central bank-issued digital currencies (CBDC) could provide significant benefits in terms of reducing the costs and risks to the payments system and, according to a 2018 report from the IMF, “could help encourage financial inclusion.”

However as the report makes clear, there are a wide variety of risks associated with CBDCs – the most immediate of which may be a simple lack of demand. The IMF’s Christine Lagarde made the point a few years ago in her address subtitled “The Case for New Digital Currency,” delivered at the Singapore Fintech Festival. The same “winds of change” that are driving central bankers to consider digitizing the money supply are also stimulating innovation in other forms of payment and value-storage. Any digital currency issued by a central bank still would have to compete with digital payment and value-storage offerings from the private sector.

In some ways, this is the most interesting consideration in the debate over digital currencies. Issues of safety and anonymity remain paramount, and themes like regional specificity remind us that what works for one geography may not work for another. But it is increasingly easier to imagine a world in which digital national currencies exist than it is to imagine a world in which they do not.

For more on the national digital currency movement around the world, check out Stephen O’Neal’s in-depth examination of the topic in Cointelegraph from the summer of 2018. O’Neal divided the world of state-issued currencies into the Adopters, the Rejectors, the Experimenters, and the Researchers. Note that Tunisia, as reported above, is no longer in the Adopters category, however the country’s central bank did note that it is “exploring” digital payment options including CBDC.

Additionally, some of the countries that have rejected national digital currencies have appeared to reconsider in recent years. A report from last fall suggested that private bankers and lenders in Germany, for example, have expressed interest in a form of “digital central bank money.”


This week on the Finovate blog we celebrated the second birthday of PSD2 in Europe, and highlighted the advances Israeli startup and Finovate Best of Show winner Voca.ai has made in deploying voice AI in customer service. We also previewed our upcoming FinovateEurope Venture Capital All Stars presentation on fintech investment trends in Europe.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Asia-Pacific

  • Contour, a blockchain-based trade finance platform headquartered in Singapore, announces investment of undisclosed size from Standard Chartered.
  • Malaysian cross-border payments company Tranglo integrates with Ripple.
  • Digital-only banks may be coming to Thailand as the country’s central bank considers offering digital banking licenses.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African fintech Oyi launches prepaid medical savings card.
  • Inlaks, a Nigeria-based ICT infrastructure solutions provider, introduces new line of “ultramodern” ATMs that feature the ability to access customer service via a live video connection.
  • FinTech4U Accelerator names the five Zambian fintechs that will join its program this month.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Leading browser provider Opera acquires Estonian banking-as-a-service startup Pocosys.
  • German fintech Heidelpay is on the hunt for acquisition opportunities and is considering an IPO.
  • EU Startups features Cashpresso in its look at top Austrian startups to watch in 2020.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Arab News features Nosaibah Alrajhi, founder of Shariah-compliant P2P lending platform Forus, scheduled to go live in Saudi Arabia later this year.
  • Al Khaleej Bank of Sudan to deploy Path Solution’s core banking iMAL platform.
  • The Central Bank of Egypt completes eKYC pilot.

Central and Southern Asia

  • A digital rupee? That’s the proposal from India’s National Institute for Smart Government (NISG).
  • Fintechs are not the only ones disrupting financial services in India. Increasingly, smartphone brands are getting into the act.
  • Indian fintech startup Mera Cashier raises $250,000 in seed funding.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Softbank strikes again! The Japanese firm has led a $125 million Series B round for Mexico’s AlphaCredit.
  • Americas Quarterly looks at ways that fintech can become “a priority” in Latin America.
  • Olivia, a Brazilian financial wellness app, raises $5 million in funding from BV (formerly Banco Votorantim).

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Top image designed by Freepik

Siam Commercial Bank Taps Ripple for Cross-Border Payments

Thailand’s biggest bank by assets, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), announced it has partnered with blockchain solutions company Ripple. SCB will leverage Ripple’s RippleNet to power the cross-border payment offering in its mobile app, SCB Easy for the app’s 9+ million users.

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.

“It is so difficult to send and receive money today. People must physically go to a bank branch, fill out long and complicated forms and wait for payments to be received—with no transparency,” said SCB’s SVP of Commercial Banking, Arthit Sriumporn. “With our service, their loved ones from abroad can transfer payment and receive money immediately.”

SCB is also working with Ripple and EMVCo to add a QR code-based payment solution to SCB Easy. Once complete, the QR codes will enable users to make payments without using the local currency.

This isn’t SCB’s first partnership with Ripple. The bank first partnered with Ripple in 2018 when it became the first financial institution using RippleNet to pilot multi-hop, a tool that enables banks to settle frictionless payments on behalf of other banks in the network.

Ripple has offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Luxembourg, Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney, and Brazil. Ripple recently closed $200 million in a Series C round, bringing the company’s total funding to $321 million and boosting its valuation to $10 billion.

Ripple Raises $200 Million in Series C Investment

In a Series C led by Tetragon, payments innovator Ripple has picked up an investment of $200 million. Featuring participation from SBI Holdings and Route 66 Ventures, the round takes the Ripple’s total capital to more than $321 million, and gives the firm a valuation of $10 billion.

In a statement, company CEO Brad Garlinghouse explained that the funding will help fuel expansion of the company’s “open developer platform for money” Xpring, as well as enable Ripple to add talent to the team.

“We are in a strong financial position to execute against our vision,” Garlinghouse said. “As others in the blockchain space have slowed their growth or even shut down, we have accelerated our momentum and industry leadership throughout 2019.”

The funding is timely for Xpring, which Ripple recently configured to make it easier for both crypto and non-crypto developers to add payments functionality into mobile apps. The new platform leverages Ripple’s XRP Ledger, Interledger, and Web Monetization technologies that give developers tools, services, and programs that empower them to develop and power wallets and exchanges, as well as take advantage of monetization opportunities in content and gaming.

The investment also comes as Ripple completes a year in which its RippleNet global payments network added more than 300 customers. Additionally, Ripple’s $50 million dollar strategic partnership with MoneyGram, announced this summer, has enabled the company to demonstrate how its On-Demand Liquidity solution leverages Ripple’s digital asset XRP to help MoneyGram boost volume on international money transfers. As of November, MoneyGram reported that is moving 10% of its Mexican peso trading volume via Ripple’s technology.

“Our partnership with Ripple is transformative for both the traditional money transfer and digital asset industry,” MoneyGram Chairman and CEO Alex Holmes said. “For the first time ever, we’re settling currencies in seconds.”

Chris Larsen, co-founder of Ripple, introduced the Ripple protocol at FinovateSpring 2013 via a company called OpenCoin. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Ripple began the year by earning a spot on the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50 Roster. In addition to its partnership with MoneyGram, Ripple announced in August that PNC, the eighth largest bank in the U.S. had begun using its RippleNet network for cross-border payments – the first U.S. bank to do so.

On the international front this year, Ripple has teamed up with Vietnam’s TPBank, partnered with Brazilian brokerage Frente Corretora de Cambio, and inked a cross-border remittance agreement with India’s Federal Bank.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • WeInvest Bolsters its WealthTech with the Launch of StratWealth.
  • Kofax Embraces AI and ML as Intelligent Automation Platform Evolves
  • Financial Literacy Focused Best of Show Winner Zogo Unveils 11 New Partners

Around the web

  • Thurgauer Kantonalbank integrates Avaloq’s e-banking solution to its existing platform.
  • MoneyGram launching Ripple’s XRP in multiple markets.
  • FIS brings core banking technology to Apple Bank.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Saudi Arabia Bets Big on Fintech; Sberbank Unveils Russian Supercomputer

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Fresh off a successful return to Singapore for FinovateAsia, we are happy to announce that FinovateMiddleEast will be back in Dubai later this month, November 20 and 21. For more information about our upcoming fintech conference in the UAE, visit our FinovateMiddleEast page today.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Saudi Arabia’s Riyad Bank invests $26.7 million in new fintech startup investment program.
  • BankDhofar signs partnership agreement with Oman-based fintech TelyPay.
  • Central Bank of UAE considers new fintech office to help drive innovation in financial services.

Central and Southern Asia

  • A new B2B fintech program for Indian fintechs, FT Slingshot, launched at Hong Kong FinTech Week.
  • Mumbai, India’s financial capital, is seeking to establish itself as the countr’s fintech hub, as well.
  • Eight Indian fintechs, including Paytm and OlaMoney, earn spots in the KPMG and H2 Ventures Fintech 100 list.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican cryptoexchange Bitrus introduces new e-wallet geared toward unbanked population.
  • Creditas, a Brazilian digital consumer lending platform, opens new offices in Valencia, Spain.
  • Born2Invest looks at the growth of the fintech sector in Argentina.

Asia-Pacific

  • Tandem Bank, a challenger bank based in the U.K., announces plans for an expansion to Hong Kong.
  • Vietnam’s TPBank forges agreement with Ripple’s RippleNet.
  • International visitors to China have access to a new prepaid card service run by Alipay and supported by Bank of Shanghai.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African fintech iKhokha offers a blunt assessment of the country’s struggle to attract the talent necessary to grow its fintech industry.
  • The U.K. announces plans to deepen fintech partnership with Nigeria and other Africa nations.
  • Andrew Takyi-Appiah, CEO of Ghana-based Zeepay, talks about the business of remittances and its recent partnership with Moneygram.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Romanian fintech Beez goes live in the U.K.
  • Fiserv inks global agreement with German grocery industry leader ALDI.
  • Sberbank introduces Russia’s fastest supercomputer, the Christofari.

Top image designed by Freepik

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Finovate Alums Earn Spots on Deloitte’s 2019 Technology Fast 500
  • TransferWise Teams Up with GoCardless to Launch Global Network for Bank Debits
  • Finovate Global: Saudi Arabia Bets Big on Fintech; Sberbank Unveils Russian Supercomputer

Around the web

  • Worldline and Bitcoin Suisse partner to enable use of cryptocurrencies at the point of sale.
  • Ripple’s RippleNet tops 300 customers.
  • Tink hires Stripe’s former head of EMEA banking as its new Country Manager for the U.K. and Ireland.
  • DemystData makes Equifax data assets available on its marketplace in expansion of current partnership.
  • Fenergo earns recognition from Chartis Research in its RiskTech 100 2020 report as a category leader for Client Lifestyle Management and Know Your Customer.
  • RISQ Intelligent Software International and Compliy win finalist spots in the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Global FinTech Hackcelerator.
  • Sensibill named a “Company to Watch” in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 Awards.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

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.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Voleo Teams Up with Software Development Firm Convergence Concepts.
  • Finn.AI’s New Integration Makes Chatbots More Personal.
  • Ripple to Offer Blockchain Technology through Finastra.

Around the web

  • Salt Edge reaches milestone of 500+ integrated open banking APIs.
  • Tink makes its platform available in the Netherlands.
  • Stratifyd teams with Anexinet to scale delivery of its AI-powered analytics platform.
  • TASCET releases SYM Certain software suite.
  • Microblink earns a spot in the Deloitte Fast 500.
  • Vymo teams up with ABeam Consulting to expand its business in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • YUKKA Lab joins Plug and Play’s incoming cohort for its Insurtech Europe program.
  • Socure wins 2019 API Award for Best in Data APIs from API World.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • MaxMyInterest Unveils High Yield Account Max Checking.

Around the web

  • Finastra announces two new apps built via its FusionFabric.cloud open development platform.
  • Fiserv inks partnership with DUCA Financial Services Credit Union, a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based institution with more than 70,000 members.
  • Ripple’s “acqui-hiring” of the engineering team from Icelandic crypto trading company Algrim helps pave the way for its entry to the country.
  • Flywire and JCB International partner to allow select cardholders to use their JCB card to pay tuition.
  • More than 60 lenders join the CrediVia marketplace to source commercial loans.
  • Bill.com now facilitates payments in more than 130 countries and 100+ currencies.
  • Dwolla partners with TransferMate Global Payments to allow customers and their end users the ability to make and receive international payments.
  • Quadient parent company Neopost changes its name to Quadient.
  • InComm partners with Mizuho Bank to expand J-Coin Pay in Japan.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • LeasePlan Bank Opts for Ohpen’s Core Banking Technology.
  • 3E Software’s Teslar Scoops Up $1.8 Million.

Around the web

  • PNC now using Ripple’s XRP for cross-border payments.
  • Mortgage Media interviews Steve Butler, founder and GM of AI Foundry.
  • Flywire partners with Vietnam Prosperity Bank to simplify international tuition payments  for Vietnamese students.
  • InSpirAVE is being issued its first patent for the technology underlying its savings social network system. The patent is part of the company’s portfolio of patents published internationally.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Bento Unveils Venmo Style Digital Payments Solution for SMEs.
  • Cybercrime Fighter ThetaRay Announces Strategic Investment from ABN AMRO.

Around the web

  • Identitii wins award for Best Workplace Diversity at The Finnies 2019.
  • InComm launches barcode payment solutions at DFS Duty-Free stores in Japan.
  • Klarna expands its UK operations with a new office in Manchester.
  • INTELid.io to integrate ValidSoft’s voice biometrics into its private digital identity blockchain.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Qatar Backs SoFi; Ripple Powers Cross-Border Payments in Brazil

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global: Fintech News from Around the World is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • SoFi announces $500 million investment led by Qatar.
  • Emirates NBD to leverage technology from Amazon Web Services to build an AI-enabled “bank of the future”.
  • New partnership between Turkey’s Isbank and Yandex.Checkout to support transactions in rubles for Russians shopping online in Turkey.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Strands strikes digital banking deal with India’s Tech Mahindra.
  • BankBazaar to offer financing options for customers of furniture and home products marketplace Pepperfry.
  • Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog, a premier think tank of the Indian government, sees a $31 billion Indian fintech market by 2020.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazilian exchange brokerage, Frente Corretora de Cambio, goes live with cross-border remittance solution powered by Ripple technology.
  • World Finance features Sao Paulo among its Top 5 Emerging Fintech Hubs.
  • IMFBlog looks at how fintech can lower remittance costs in Latin America.

Asia-Pacific

  • The central bank of Indonesia, Bank Indonesia, unveils its Quick Response Indonesia Standard (QRIS), a new QR code system.
  • Mastercard and UOB partner to introduce the UOB Retail Business Metal Card designed for APAC SMEs.
  • B2B cross border payments company TransferMate picks up payment license in Singapore.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Ghana’s ARB Apex Bank reups with Temenos.
  • Titan Trust Bank of Nigeria chooses Oracle FSS for its core and digital banking technology.
  • CNBCAfrica profiles South African payments and merchant acquiring solutions provider Crossfin.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Lithuania fintech Paysera goes live in Romania.
  • Polish “credit of fintech-as-a-service” innovator Symmetrical.ai raises $1.5 million (€1.3m) in funding.
  • Billon Solutions and Microsoft announce partnership with the University of Warsaw to develop academic use cases for DLT technology.

Top image designed by Freepik