We are finishing this week with a summary of the most important stories in tech. While the cryptocurrency tumbles and growths still continue their presence in the news headlines, this week we decided to focus on a different aspect of fintech, emphasizing the positive developments and launches that have been announced last week. For starters, we will talk about the newest FinTech innovation lab, European Central Bank urging banks to lower the instant transaction fees and make them more transparent, Hoolah announcing a partnership aiming at transforming the BNPL services in Asia, HSBC adding a digital multi-currency wallet to its offer for businesses, Chainanalysis launching a first-in-its-kind business data offering for crypto exchanges and fintech using crypto, and the digital dollar possibility.
One of the largest insurtechs in the UK, Ripe, has announced they recorded a record-high growth during 2020, following their tech advancements.In 2020, Growth started using a new cloud CRM platform aiming at gaining the competitive advantage and ultra-targeted product launches, both in the UK and across the globe.
Ripe specializes in extremely customizable insurance products, with customers being able to pick the exact options they need instead of opting for a pre-bundled policy.
Colin Whitehead, Executive Chairman of Ripe Thinking, said: “Our mindset has always been to focus on what customers need and respond rapidly to new trends in specialist insurance markets. It’s our 13th consecutive year of growth and our major tech investment has successfully put us on track for an ambitious next phase for the business. Customers are increasingly responding to our direct, ‘build your own policy’ model which puts control in their hands. Our growth trajectory is continuing during 2021 despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.”
Colin adds: “We’re a fast moving business – and in an industry where legacy technology and restrictive processes remain inherent, we have upped our pace to become more agile than ever. We are now being approached by other organizations, affinities and brands to partner with them using our tech stack to help them serve their customers with our insurance model. Our recent partnership with Aviva to offer cycle insurance to its UK customers is just the first example of new things to come in 2021 – watch this space!
Yesterday, the blockchain analysis company Chainalysis launched a new data offering – Chainanalysis Business data. The unique offer is targeted at cryptocurrency exchanges and startups that offer cryptocurrency services. Because of the Chainalysis Business Data, companies will be able to tailor their offerings, identify new opportunities and gain more customer insights.
“The benefit of cryptocurrency is its inherent transparency, and with the right data, businesses can gain valuable intelligence to inform their growth strategies,” said Jonathan Levin, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Chainalysis. “This level of data-driven business development is another advantage of blockchains that just isn’t possible in traditional finance.”
The data set dates back to 2014, with Chainalysis monitoring more than 100 digital assets.
“One of cryptocurrency’s many advantages is its transparency, which provides unique opportunities for business development,” said Phoivos Mytilinaios, Head of Business Intelligence & Data Engineering at Bitpanda, Europe’s leading digital asset platform. “By extending their data-driven offerings beyond compliance, Chainalysis will help inform our marketing and product development strategies to grow and retain our customer base.”
Standard Chartered announced it is about to launch a new FinTech Innovation Lab – eXellarator. The lab is based in Shanghai, China and joins an already established network of labs that are all over the world including Singapore, the US, the UK, and Kenya. The goal of the lab is the creation of new technology strategies.
“Rapid changes in financial technology are reshaping the future of the global banking industry, especially here in China which is home to some of the world’s most established companies leading the way in areas like artificial intelligence and Big Data,” Jerry Zhang, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank (China), said. “Given the strategic importance of this market to the Group, our innovation centre in Shanghai will play a crucial role to support us in proactively reinventing ourselves, by bringing together our people, clients and fintechs to co-create and deliver the next generation of products and services”
“To truly rewire the DNA in banking, we need to go beyond just offering a digital interface. Our eXellerators create an environment which combines innovation from both in and outside the Bank, to rapidly prototype and experiment with new ideas and business models that will allow us to better serve our clients with solutions that address their problems or needs,” added Alex Manson, Global Head of SC Ventures.
HSBC is trying to keep up the pace with the dynamically growing fintechs such as Wise. Now, they decided to launch a multi-currency digital wallet targeting small-and-medium-sized businesses.
“HSBC Global Wallet makes it just as easy for our customers to deal with a supplier or a client on the other side of the world as it is to deal with one on the other side of town,” says the banks global head of liquidity and cash management Diane S Reyes. “By fully integrating this solution into our everyday business banking platform we’re giving our clients a virtual presence in markets around the world.”
The Global Wallet will be initially available in the US, UK, and Singapore.
As many countries, including the US, are eyeing the possibility of introducing their official digital currency, the US Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, is commenting on the investigation of the digital dollar.
Powell claimed that the central bank has already been researching CBDCs for years, exploring whether it will improve the payments systems in the US.
Powell emphasized that “it is important that any potential CBDC could serve as a complement to, and not a replacement of, cash and current private-sector digital forms of the dollar”.
“Irrespective of the conclusion we ultimately reach, we expect to play a leading role in developing international standards for CBDCs, engaging actively with central banks in other jurisdictions as well as regulators and supervisors here in the United States throughout that process.” he says.
Powell also addressed regulations on stablecoins, claiming that as the use of stablecoins is growing, “so must our attention to the appropriate regulatory and oversight framework. This includes paying attention to private-sector payments innovators who are currently not within the traditional regulatory arrangements applied to banks, investment firms, and other financial intermediaries.”
The European Central Bank has warned banks about instant payment fees, saying they “must change”. The ECB board member, Fabio Panetta said:
“The next step is for payment service providers to offer instant payments at attractive and transparent conditions.”
Pancetta highlighted the prices must be affordable and transparent, pointing out that the cost for service providers is 0.20 eurocent (€0.002) per instant payment transaction. Thus, the gap between the cost for service providers and what is offered to consumers, with the cost going as high as €1 per transaction is large.
“This must change,” says Panetta. “For instant payments to become the new normal, they must be cheap and easy to use. We would also like to see providers make instant payments available on all commonly used electronic channels and offer much-desired functionalities such as Request-to-Pay.”
“We are increasingly paying online and with cards. The pandemic has further accelerated this trend,” he says. “In facing these developments, Europe is not optimally positioned, not least because of the ‘wait-and-see’ attitude that has in some cases prevailed in the past. This has made Europe overly dependent on a few foreign providers for card and online payments, resulting in a high degree of market concentration.”
The Asian-based BNPL ecosystem Hoolah revealed their new collaboration with the payments intelligence platform BridgerPay. The partnership aims at providing merchants in Singapore, Malaysia, and HongKong an easy opportunity for incorporating BNPL services into their payment schemes.
“Expanding our merchant offering in Asia with hoolah as our first BNPL solution in the region makes this a very exciting time for BridgerPay,” comments Ran Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder of BridgerPay. “Our partnership gives us the opportunity to mutually support the growth of online businesses in Asia with our next-generation payments technology, allowing merchants to connect and process through one of the more advanced payment providers in the region. BNPL is booming and as usage is growing across the globe, it’s becoming a must-have for online merchants in our world today.”
Stuart Thornton, CEO of hoolah added “Through our partnership with BridgerPay, we’re effectively bridging the gap between their merchants and customers in Asia by providing them with a seamlessly integrated BNPL payment option that is increasingly popular especially amongst the Millennial and Gen Z generation. We’re delighted to welcome the excellent BridgerPay team and platform into our hoolah ecosystem and create mutual value by helping their merchants capture higher sales and new customers in Asia.”
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