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Tracking fintech, banking & financial services innovations since 1994
To its credit, Deloitte is aware of the “old-is-new-again” aspect of regtech. The report notes that “while the name is new, the marriage of technology and regulation to address regulatory challenges has existed for some time with varying degrees of success.”
Indeed. Consider companies like Gremln (F14), which demonstrated a social media platform specifically for regulated industries, and Finect (F13), which unveiled a compliant communication platform for financial professionals. Qumram (F16) provides software that helps ensure complaint communication by recording digital interactions from web, social, and mobile channels.
My Virtual Strongbox (F14) introduced the kind of secure document-storage technology that can help FIs better manage customer documentation. Global Debt Registry, another F14 presenter, provides compliance and risk-management solutions to the account-management industry. OutsideIQ (F16) enables FIs to uncover regulatory risk using a combination of machine learning and human analysis. FundAmerica (F15), arguably one of the most explicitly regtech companies to demo at Finovate, provides crowdfunding platforms with APIs for a wide variety of “mission-critical, back-end regulatory requirements.”
Additionally, there are a sizeable number of credit risk analysis innovators such as QCR (F15), CreditHQ (F16), and FICO (FD16); companies like Avalara (FD15) that help merchants recognize and satisfy sales-tax requirements (or by that token, even a VATBox (F15) that helps recover VAT fees for international travelers); and cloud-based auditing technologies like those available from Auvenir (F16), whose identity as a fintech company was a topic of our deliberations.
And all of this is to say nothing of the even larger number of security and authentication specialists whose technologies—at least by Deloitte’s definition—can be considered regtech. Note that Deloitte’s Ireland-based rundown of regtech companies includes Finovate alum Trustev (F14), whose online ID-verification technology is very much in the same category as dozens of other security, authentication, verification, anti-fraud innovators.
The question as to whether regtech as a “thing” (as the millennials say) can be separated from the broader fintech discussion is likely more of a marketing decision than anything else. Clearly regtech has the ranks; the issue is to what degree does distinguishing them as a type of innovator apart from the larger fintech world make it easier for these companies to attract top talent, develop necessary solutions, and raise the capital to drive and grow their businesses. From the perspective of fintech in general—and Finovate/FinDEVr in specific—we’re happier having regtech innovating from “inside the tent,” as opposed to being outside the tent trying to find a way in.
Two more major players jumped on the blockchain bandwagon. IBM (FD16) showed its Hyperledger at FinDEVr last week and Visa (FD14) announced its cross-border payment system built on blockchain-like distributed ledgers, an apparent challenge to Swift. The technology is powered by Chain (FD15) which counts Visa, Capital One (FD15) and Citibank as investors. According to Javelin Strategy, banks will invest $1 billion this year in blockchain initiatives.
Mobile payments gets another huge player
Speaking of IBM, one of the more surprising announcements at Money2020 was the launch of IBM Pay, a private-label mobile payments and POS system. Details are sketchy, but in the IBM video below, it appears to be a Starbucks-like QR code system. It’s part of IBM’s Watson Commerce initiative.
Visa (FD14) partners with blockchain innovator Chain (FD15) to develop a “near real-time,” high value, fund-transfer system between banks and corporate customers called Visa B2B Connect. The technology is expected to pilot in 2017 and could add much needed transparency and security, as well as speed, to B2B payments.
Five banks including Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Citi announce successful test of smart contract prototype developed by blockchain startup, Axoni. The project specifically tested ways to manage and synchronize single stock, index, and portfolio swaps.
Go East, Young Developer
Mizuho announces new innovation lab in Tokyo supported by Mitsubishi Estate and Dentsu. Remember that Finovate is headed to Hong Kong on 8 November for FinovateAsia 2016. Check out our FinovateAsia information page for details.
CVS Pharmacy launches mobile payment technology CVS Pay nationwide. The technology, part of CVS’s mobile app, incorporates payment, prescription pickup, and the pharmacy’s loyalty program.
Ingo Money unveils its Instant Payments, a white-label, API-based, push payments technology. According to Ingo founder and CEO Drew Edwards, the solution “makes it easy for any company to implement push payments quickly and begin originating real-time, guaranteed payments to any customer or employee within their own proprietary user flows and branded experience.”
Australia introduces the New Payment Platform (NPP), a version of the U.K.’s Faster Payments service. The real-time bank transfer service that works with just a phone number or an email address is expected to debut in 2017.
Android Pay goes live at more than 5,000 retail locations in Hong Kong, including 7-Eleven, McDonalds, and Circle K. The technology also supports gift and loyalty cards.
In a $460 million deal, Texas-based ATM operator Cardtronics has acquired Canada-based DirectCash Payments. The deal is expected to help Cardtronics expand into Canada and the United Kingdom. DirectCash Payments has 25,000 ATMs around the globe, primarily in Australia, Canada, and the U.K. Once the deal closes in Q1 of 2017, it will boost Cardtronics’ network to 225,000 ATMs across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
Jack Henry & Associates (F10) teams up with Visa (F10)
In a new partnership, Jack Henry & Associates has integrated with Visa to allow customers to send P2P payments directly to a recipient’s Visa debit card. This eliminates the need for a recipient to provide their account and routing number to the sender. With increased competition in the P2P payments industry (PayPal/Venmo (FDNY 16), Square Cash, Zello), banks are feeling pressure to compete by offering faster delivery of funds. The partnership enables banks to offer funds-transfers a day sooner, or even same-day. Jack Henry began offering P2P payment capability in 2005 and expects the new method to boost usage.
Sberbank (F16) and MasterCard (F11) partner to launch ApplePay in Russia
Starting this week, Mastercard cardholders in Russia can now pay using ApplePay, thanks to a new partnership between Russian bank Sberbank and Mastercard. In a statement, the bank’s Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board, Alexander Torbakhov, said, “Apple Pay is driving the popularization of contactless payments in Russia and globally. Many of Sberbank clients actively use new technologies, and an increasing number of them will prefer cash-free and contactless payment using their smartphones.”
This is the Russian bank’s second big move this week. On Monday the company inked a partnership with Hyperledger to begin working on the Hyperledger Project.
PayPal (F11) and Vodafone partner for in-store NFC mobile payments
Acting on a partnership it first initiated in February, PayPal partnered with Vodafone to enable U.K. users to make NFC payments from their PayPal accounts using their Android phones. The agreement enables consumers to make transactions of up to £30 ($36.60) at 400,000 retail locations. For more expensive purchases, Vodafone Pay users can use their Vodafone wallet (launched in 2013), which requires a PIN.
The NFC payment capability with Vodafone was piloted in Spain. PayPal also has agreements in place with other global telcos, including America Movil, Telcel, and Claro.
Happy birthday, U.S. EMV. It’s been one year since EMV regulation in the United States was placed into effect. If you live in America, you’ve likely noticed that adoption is low. In fact, according to a recent report from Mastercard, 88% of consumers have been issued chip cards, but only 33% of merchant locations accept them.
Though usage remains low, Mastercard reported this week that it has seen an overall decrease in fraud since the EMV change. The company reports that between April 2015 and April 2016, retailers who have transitioned to EMV experienced a 54% decrease in counterfeit fraud.
Ready, set, ACH
As of September 30, a new rule from NACHA requires all banks to process incoming same-day ACH credits. Most ACH payments are currently settled on the next business day: the new rule-change offers originators the option to send an ACH transaction to any recipient account for same-day processing. NACHA has imposed a same-day fee on every same-day ACH transaction to help financial institutions receiving the funds to recover the cost to enable same-day ACH. Phase two of NACHA’s Same-day ACH initiative will take effect 15 Sept 2017.
Technologies: AI, chatbots, and natural language processing (NLP)
The industry-wide obsession with chatbots continues. Finovate last month showcased a dozen variants on the chatbot theme. One of our newer alums, Personetics (F16), is even holding a Chatbot Bootcamp next month in San Francisco. And our chatbot-banking post in March is our fourth most-read. But the bigger conversation is around natural language processing (NLP) and how it can be used to retrieve information and perform tasks. A new report from Juniper Research estimated that NLP would drive $2.1 TRILLION in annual purchases via mobile five years from now (2021).
The annual Sibos 2016 conference in Geneva took place at the end of September—between the last Fintech Trending meeting and this one. Organized by SWIFT, Sibos is considered to be the world’s premier financial services event covering areas such as payments, securities, cash management, and trade.
So what was big at Sibos 2016 this year? The blockchain. 2016 was the first year that Sibos dedicated a track “exclusively to distributed ledger” technology. And the event’s startup-industry challenge was all about how to use the blockchain in the securities industry. The three startups that won the challenge will develop PoCs using technologies like smart contracts (SmartContract), distributed ledgers (Rise Financial Technologies), and open-source blockchain platforms (Coin Sciences).
Some have ascertained the irony in SWIFT’s embrace of the blockchain: Its $6 billion payment-messaging service is one of the technologies “widely perceived to be at risk for disintermediation” by blockchain technology. And indeed, companies like Finovate alum Ripple (F13) have made great strides in helping FIs like Bank of America, Santander, and Royal Bank of Canada use distributed-ledger technology to provide a global blockchain-payments network with “near-instant” settlement. Interestingly, Ripple recently hired former SWIFT board member Marcus Treacher as its new global head of strategic accounts. Treacher told CoinDesk in September that SWIFT was the “de facto way everyone moves money through countries.” And cross-border payment is something he specifically believes Ripple “can do better.”
Global Banks Partner to Form Blockchain Payments Network—CoinDesk
Speaking of blockchain, a number of companies with blockchain and distributed-ledger technologies will be presenting at our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley, next week. These companies include PwC, which will present its blockchain-as-a-service technology to improve trade finance, and IBM with its hyperledger implementation in the cloud that helps manage and test blockchain-dev projects. Also on hand will be distributed database specialists Aerospike (FD16) and Cognitect (FD16).
From FT Partnersrecent report on the boom in insurance-technology innovation, to InsurTech Rising’s event, Informa, to launch on 21 Oct, this area of financial technology is garnering increasing attention.
Why? As FT Partners pointed out in their 247-page report, the insurance industry is one of the areas of finance that so far has been least affected by the technological disruption nearly commonplace elsewhere. The insurance industry is a multitrillion dollar business; property and casualty insurers alone generated more than $64 billion in net income in 2014. And it sits at the nexus between the drive to better engage customers (is there anything enjoyable about insurance from a consumer perspective) and the need to accommodate complex and shifting regulatory landscapes (something the rest of finance is becoming increasingly familiar with).
What are the focuses of insurtech? Most technology innovation in the area revolves around trends in distribution and administration: data and analytics, and marketing and customer engagement. This includes everything from the kinds of products offered to consumers, such as micro-insurance, to using mobile channels and interactive technologies to make insurance products easier to understand, choose from, and purchase.
How are industry players responding and what to watch for? From partnering with innovative startups to acquisitions, incumbent insurance firms are increasingly aware of the challenge. FT Partners reports that more than 40% of traditional insurers surveyed by Ptolemus Consulting said they were planning to “acquire, or have already acquired, innovative startups to help them expand their digital capabilities” and more than half say they have already invested in social media, data mining, and predictive modeling. Nearly 70% have embraced mobile technology.
Wave Mechanics: FT Partners Report Highlights Trends Driving Rise of Insurtech—Finovate
Prepare for the InsurTech Wave: Overview of Key Insurance Technology Trends—FT Partners
Note: Finovate alums have the year of their first appearance listed after their name. For example, FIS first appeared at Finovate in 2009, so there is a (F09) after their name, with a link to that first demo.
U.K.-based challenger bank Atom opens to the public. The bank’s iPhone and iPad app is built on the Unity gaming platform and is the only way to access the mobile-only bank. Atom has a customer service team equipped with AI and machine learning, and has bolstered its security using voice and face biometric login. Atom Bank is the first of a handful of U.K. challenger banks set to launch this year, including Mondo, Starling Bank, and Tandem. Atom is headquartered in Durham and is already valued at almost $190 million. Check out Business Insider’s coverage.
Akamai (FEU 15) acquires Soha Systems, which offers secure access as a service for enterprises. This matches well with Akamai’s aim to offer cloud-based services to enterprises, and places it in a good position for a potential acquisition. See our coverage.
Jack Henry & Associates (FF 15) collaborates with Visa (FDSV 14) to accelerate P2P payments to debit cards. This may help banks compete with other services that have sped up settlement times, such as Zelle (formerly clearXchange) and Venmo (FS 13). See the press release.
IBM (FF 16) announced a $200 million investment for a new global headquarters for its Watson IoT business. The headquarters will be located in Munich and is one of IBM’s largest-ever investments in Europe. This move is part of a $3 billion initiative to bring Watson’s computing expertise into the world of IoT. See IBM at FinDEVr Silicon Valley, 18/19 Oct 2016. See VentureBeat’s coverage here.
Banking Technology reported that Misys (FEU 15) is preparing to issue an IPO in Nov 2016 with a $6.9 billion float. Advisory firm Moelis will be overseeing the move. Misys was delisted from the London Stock Exchange in 2012 when it merged with Turaz. Misys CEO Nadeem Sayed says going public is a “logical step in our evolution.” See Banking Technology’s coverage.
Aire (FEU 15) raised $2 million. Along with the funding announcement, the alternative credit-scoring platform announced it is now authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the U.K.’s financial regulator. This places it on a more level playing field to compete with the big three credit bureaus. See our coverage.
Thomson Reuters (FF 12) unveils blockchain-dev platform, BlockOne ID. Built for Ethereum, BlockOne ID is an experimental framework in which app owners can manage access to their blockchain contracts in a controlled environment. See Banking Tech’s coverage.
We love seeing alums called out in the numerous “most innovative” articles. Usually, those skew to young private startups. But the recent Forbes list of innovators, limited to large public companies (minimum market cap = $10 billion, with 7 years of public ownership), didn’t disappoint. Four financial technology companies made the top-100 list, and all four have appeared on the Finovate stage. Interestingly, financial services firms are excluded by Forbes on the grounds that they “have no measurable investment in R&D.” (I am sure many readers would argue that point).
Here are the financial fab-four in order of their finish (the innovation premium is the extra value investors place on their growth vs. their enterprise value, methodology):
The terms of today’s agreement with Mastercard are similar to those PayPal laid out with Visa:
Mastercard will be clearly presented as a payment option within the PayPal app
Users will be able to set Mastercard as their preferred payment method
Mastercard will help PayPal boost its presence at the point-of-sale (POS)
Mastercard’s Masterpass will be available as a payment option for merchants using Braintree
Venmo users can withdraw their Venmo balance using Mastercard Send
Also similar to the Visa deal, PayPal will receive volume incentives and will not be charged a digital wallet-operator fee for using Masterpass.
PayPal spun off from parent company eBay last year and has since been focused on growing its presence at the brick-and-mortar POS to help it compete with the growing number of mobile-wallet apps. The company’s recent partnerships with Visa and Mastercard are expected to spur growth in this area.
Venmo competition heats up
We’ve lately noticed more P2P payment app competitors trickle in. They have Braintree-owned Venmo’s (FD2016; F2013) millennial-focused social components stamped all over them:
Founded by former N26 employees, Cookies launched this week to offer Germany-based users a free P2P payment solution. The simple UI has a messaging platform for senders and recipients to engage with, and it allows people to include emojis with their payments (Cookies calls them paymojis). Some paymojis have special powers, for example, a lightning bolt that allows users to send the money faster. Unlike Venmo (more like Square Cash), users do not maintain a balance on Cookies; instead, Cookies connects directly to a user’s bank account.
Tilt originally began as a crowdfunding platform but launched P2P payments functionality this week. While the user interface is very Venmo-esque with emojis, gifs and a social feed, Tilt has a few differences. Aside from being based on a crowdfunding model where users pool money for weekend road trips and pizza nights, Tilt lists fundraising campaigns in its social feed and is available outside the U.S. Tilt has already launched in the U.K., Canada, and Australia.
Our last Fintech Trending post described the growth of P2P payment service clearXchange, which scored Fiserv (F2016) as a distribution partner and added MasterCard Send debit cardholders to its client base. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that clearXchange is rebranding to Zelle in October to step up its competition with Venmo. While there is no word yet on UI and UX specifics such as emojis with special powers, gifs, and social feeds, there have been a few questions about the name Zelle, which Urban Dictionary defines as “a girl who is attractive and intelligent.”
New mobile payments methods are everywhere (and that’s not a good thing)
Last week, CVS joined a group of other retailers, banks, technology providers and payment services companies to launch its own mobile wallet. With the launch, the pharmacy intends to streamline the use of its rewards points with point-of-sale (POS) payments, but what it may actually be doing is adding yet another wet log to the slow-burning, mobile POS-payments fire.
The issue lies in part with low consumer interest and adoption; it’s still faster to swipe (or insert) your credit card than to take out and unlock your phone, open an app, and try to convince the cashier it is a legitimate way to pay. Also at fault is the large, fragmented number of suppliers. We’ve lost count, but here’s a partial list:
Wells Fargo Wallet
Capital One Wallet
Other news in the payments space
UnionPay’s mobile payments launched in Canada. The China-based payments network is the third largest in the world (following Visa and Mastercard). The launch enables Canadian cardholders to use UnionPay’s QuickPass EMV cards or app to pay at participating merchants.
Visa (FD2014; F2010) is in discussions with Nigerian banks to roll out mVisa, its QR code-based mobile payments service, by the end of this year. Consumers will be able to use their smartphone or feature phone to pay for goods with merchants, send domestic P2P payments, and access cash.
Apple expands carrier billing to Taiwan and Switzerland. The Taiwanese carrier is EasTone and while there’s no word yet on the carrier in Switzerland, it is expected to be Swisscom. This expands Apple’s carrier-billing partnerships, already operating in Germany and Russia, to four countries.
A big deal in ATMs gets a second look
Diebold (F2014) finalized its merger with German ATM maker Wincor Nixdorf last week, a deal that combined two of the largest three ATM companies. The deal closed for $1.8 billion and makes Diebold Nixdorf the world’s largest ATM company, claiming a third of the worldwide market.
Days after unveiling the newly formed entity, the ATM giant is facing an “in-depth merger investigation” from the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority. The agency said that it is concerned the deal will reduce the number of companies supplying ATMs in the U.K. The companies have until April 26, 2017, to “offer undertaking to address competition concerns.”
This further highlights the opportunity for disruption in the ATM space, a realm where companies such as Liqpay (F2013) have showed off solutions that allow cardholders to use their smartphones for a contact-less way to withdraw cash from ATMs.
Making Sense of Student Loan Debt—notwithstanding Bernie Sanders’ promises of free college tuition for all, the challenge of student loan debt isn’t going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) suggests that loan servicers are a part of the problem, at least when it comes to income-driven repayment plans.
As reported in PYMNTS.com, much of the problem is bureaucratic, with “delays and rejections” that can expose student borrowers to greater interest, penalties, or even lost eligibility. “Student Loan servicers continue to fall short when it comes to helping borrowers address $1.3 trillion in student debt,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “It’s time servicers focus more effectively on processing applications for income-driven repayment plans properly.”
And the CPFB is focused on more than just the student loan servicers. Wells Fargo was slapped with a $3.6 million fine this week for “illegal fees … and [depriving] others of critical information needed to effectively manage their student loan accounts,” according to Cordray. Wells Fargo said that it has already made changes to the processes criticized by the CPFB in its consent order.
It’s impossible to read about student loan debt in the headlines and not think of Student Loan Genius (F2016), which made its Finovate debut this spring. The company empowers employers to help millennial workers in particular pay off their student loan debts faster. This not only helps reduce what is often an onerous debt load (especially relative to the income of the average recent college graduate), but also enables young workers to start saving better.
Make Room for Dev—Google(FD2016 ; F2011)is the latest major technology company dedicating major square footage to support collaboration between “local and international developers and startups.” Writing in the Google Developers Blog, Global Lead Roy Glasberg revealed that more than 14,000 square feet at 301 Howard Street would be the home of a variety of dev-friendly events ranging from Google Developer Group meetings to Tech Talks. The new facility will also host Google’s equity-free, three-month accelerator for emerging market startups, LaunchPad Accelerator.
Earlier this summer, IBM (F2016) announced the opening of its developer space, Bluemix Garage, in New York City. The New York garage, IBM’s sixth, will be hosted by developer networking and education organization, Galvanize. In the U.K., Allied London announced a new fintech co-work space called “The Vault” that will occupy 20,000 square feet in Manchester’s business neighborhood. Meanwhile in Germany, ING-DiBa announced its sponsorship of the latest fintech hub in Frankfurt.
Meanwhile in Asia, PayPal (FD2014; F2012) announced this week the opening of an innovation lab in Singapore, its first such lab outside the U.S. The lab joins PayPal’s other Indo-Asia Pacific innovation lab in Chennai, India, and will be focused on improving productivity among SMEs in the food and beverage industry. We also learned this week that the Monetary Authority of Singapore is setting up a fintech innovation lab, Looking Glass @ MAS1 in that country.
ING-DiBa backs new Frankfurt fintech hub – Finextra
PayPal opens Innovation Lab in Singapore for next generation fintech – Deal Street Asia
Singapore’s MAS gets in on the fintech innovation lab game – Tech in Asia
Fintech Groups Will Unite into Global Hubs – Fortune
Life in the blockchain
Swiss-based UBS announced a year ago its work on a virtual currency—Utility Settlement Coin—to facilitate faster transaction settlement. This week, UBS announced it has joined forces with Deutsche Bank, Santander, BNY Mellon, and ICAP to convince central banks to agree to a commercial launch by 2018. Competition for this digital currency include Citigroup’s Citicoin, Goldman Sachs’ SETLcoin, and a similar, yet-unnamed, offering from JPMorgan.