We are kicking off the new week with the latest and most important tech updates. Santander launched a new BNPL service that can threaten fintechs. JPMorgan decided to acquire a 49% stake in Viva Wallet as a part of its $12 billion tech investment. Google Cloud has huge DeFi ambitions, as shown by its newly created team. EDM Council released a study with the key challenges. MoonPay launched a credit card checkout for NFTs. Mastercard plans to branch out to the UAE and Saudi with its BNPL offering. Open APIs are believed to be the key drivers behind payment systems, according to a new report. Google made a big investment into a Telecom giant. FDA gave a nod to an innovative eye treatment.
Last week, Santander announced the launch of a new BNPL service, Zinia, to be available in Germany. In his conversation with Fin Extra, the CEO of Openbank and Santander Consumer Finance, Ezequiel Szafir, said the new service is highly crucial to the industry due to the fact that “it’s the first time we see an incumbent bank getting into a field that has been, until now, totally owned by fintechs and with this kind of early success.”
Szafir has also explained what was the reasoning behind kicking off the project in Germany as the starter. As he says, “as a bank, we follow our retailers, customers, and partners. A number of important retailers were asking us for BNPL products.”
Santande Consumer Finance has a broad portfolio, serving more than 19 million customers and more than 60 000 affiliated merchants across 18 countries. This alone can be a big competitive advantage over fintechs that start from the scratch in terms of gathering the clients.
“This is what I call a super unfair advantage. The moment banks start behaving like fintechs should be scary for fintechs, we’re doing that, and fintechs should take notice,” Szafis said. He added that adding the BNPL product is, however, just a part of an overarching strategy to compete with fintechs.
“Santander Group is the only group – that I know of – that took the fact that we needed a new fintech-type technology stack quite a few years ago. For the last five years, we’ve been investing and developing Openbank extensively,” Szafir points out. “The large BNPL players have been able to provide these services in ways that banks simply cannot due to regulation. For example, banks are obliged to carry out responsible lending, to check affordability, to protect private data. BNPL players have been regulated in a different way.”
As a part of its mullti billion dollar technology investment, JPMorgan announced it would be acquiring a 49% stake in the cloud-based payment network Viva Wallet. The company is based in Greece and has been serving SMEs across 23 countries since 2000. Currently, Viva Wallet is known for its cloud-based payments platform offering a broad range of services to merchants, including cash advance, bill pay, virtual debit card, or tap to device tech.
Takis Georgakopoulos, global head of JPMorgan Payments, commented: “The European payments landscape is fragmented yet large in terms of opportunity, with more than 17 million merchants ready to implement scalable payments solutions and this is a big focus area for added growth for JPMorgan Payments in the future.”
Google has just created a special Digital Assets Team that will aim at exploring possibilities of blockchain-based platforms. According to the announcement thart Google published last week, the new team will furtherly develop Google Cloud to “support customers’ needs in building, transacting, storing value, and deploying new products on blockchain-based platforms.” Additionally, the release has provided insights into some of the initiatives that the newly launched team will focus on. Some of them include:
- Providing dedicated node hosting/remote procedure call (RPC) nodes for developers, allowing users to deploy blockchain validators on Google Cloud via a single click (“click to deploy”).
- Participating in node validation and on-chain governance with select partners.
- Helping developers and users host their nodes on the cleanest cloud in the industry, supporting their environmental, social, and governance initiatives.
- Supporting on-chain governance via participation from Google Cloud executives and senior engineers.
- Hosting several public BigQuery datasets on our Marketplace, including full blockchain transaction history for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Litecoin, Zcash, Theta, Hedera Hashgraph, Band Protocol, Polygon, XRP, and Dogecoin.
- Driving co-development and integration into Google’s robust partner ecosystem, including participating in the Google Cloud Marketplace.
- Embracing joint go-to-market initiatives with our ecosystem partners where Google Cloud can be the connective tissue between traditional enterprise and blockchain technologies.
The release also points out that with the further development of the team, one of the crucial activities will be exploring how to let customers receive and issue crypto payments.
The EDM Council (EDMC) published a study with insights and best practices to rating providers and data aggregators (RPDAs) on the key challenges that we see connected to the ESG data supply chain.
Eric Bigelsen, EDMC head of industry engagement and head of the ESG workgroup, commented: “As ESG has grown in prevalence, so have the data management challenges that RPDAs have faced. Our goal with our latest ESG research is to simplify the ESG data supply chain and create a common framework within which these entities can operate.”
The report identified 11 most pressing challenges such as Complexity of Standards Setting,
Model Governance, Documenting data points to materiality, ESG Metric Effectiveness
Data Gaps, Version Control, Changes and Trends in Source Data, Third-Party Data, Scenarios and Models, External Assurance of ESG Data, ESG Data Management Requirements. Apart from providing insights on each challenge, the report also goes into detail on the key recommendations. As Bigelson said, “We aim to bring more clarity and understanding to this evolving sector while demonstrating the benefits of ESG in delivering sustainable outcomes.”
The recently publoished study is a second part of a ninge-month study.
The crypto platform MoonPay has just launched a service allowing customers to purchase and sell NFTs using a creditcard. The offering is available regardless of a marketplace, brand or creator and the Checkout classifies the tokens as “digital goods” which makes the card approval rates much higher.
MoonPay CEO Ivan Soto-Wright, says: “Right now, the NFT market is limited to the hundreds of millions of people who own cryptocurrency. MoonPay’s NFT Checkout has just opened the door to billions more who own credit cards by making ownership both simple and fast.”
The Checkout works with any blockchain and the NFTs are delivered straight into the wallet address.
“Mastercard Installments”, the company’s unique BNPL program is now expanded to serve customers in the United Arab Emnirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. The program is expected to launch this year and currently, Mastercard is working with the strategis partners from the region, such as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADBC), Network International, and National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (RAKBANK) in the UAE and Saudi National Bank (SNB) in Saudi Arabia.
“Above everything, consumers today demand flexibility and choice. With Mastercard Installments, we want to give people the choice to pay how, when and where they want. This most recent product innovation builds on the trust between businesses and their customers with Buy Now, Pay Later options benefitting everyone in the ecosystem. As Mastercard continues to design solutions for an evolving digital economy, we see BNPL becoming a standard for shopping, and we look forward to implementing this offering in the UAE and Saudi Arabia later this year,” said Khalid Elgibali, Division President for Middle East and North Africa, Mastercard.
According to a ACI Worldwide report, Open APIs that will allow access to a variety of finteches and harmonization of various different payments types are crucial. 65% of banks that were surveyed pointed out it was their key strategy when it comes to modernizing the current payment systems.The ‘Defining and Building the Next Generation Payment Hub‘ report was created together with Edgar, Dunn and Company (EDC).
“Financial institutions are keener than ever to connect to the new opportunities provided by the widening catalogue of fintechs,” commented Mark Beresford, Director of EDC. “By having Open APIs, the connectivity between historic financial institutions and new players dramatically improves. And, in a world where both quantity and quality of alternative payment methods is rising exponentially, it is no surprise to see that banks are trying to simplify their approach to these offerings.”
Some of the key findings that the report included highlight that 86% of large banks generate over 30% of the revenue through payment processing. Moreover, 48% of those taking part in the study admitted that current legacy systems do not meet the needs of the customers or businesses due to the lack of flexibility and agility.
To add, more than 90% of the institutions believe that payment hubs are key in tackling the payment-related challenges, with only 40% stating their bank already has such a hub. Having said that, 45% of the surveyed said their financial institution will start using such as hub in the next five years.
“Overall, the outlook for the payment hub is very promising. With rising revenue dependencies on payments, the need for a solid payment infrastructure has never been greater,” commented Dean Wallace, head of consumer payments modernisation, ACI Worldwide. “Once seen as expensive and an ‘easier said than done’ enhancement, new technological efficiencies and the pressure on financial institutions to compete in a radically new environment have changed that view. Payment hubs are now viewed as a vital solution to relieve the pressure from many of today’s challenges and to prepare banks to successfully compete in the future.”
As a part of tis Google for India Digitization Fund, the tech giant announced it will be investing up to $1 billion in the Indian telecom giant Airtel. The deal will be a mixture of equity investment worth $700 million and a ‘corpus for potential commercial agreements, to be identified and agreed on mutually agreeable terms over the course of the next five years.’
Some of the objectives include building a India-specific network domain use cases for 5G and eliminating the current obstacles when it comes to having a smartphone.
“Airtel and Google share the vision to grow India’s digital dividend through innovative products,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel. “With our future ready network, digital platforms, last mile distribution and payments ecosystem, we look forward to working closely with Google to increase the depth and breadth of India’s digital ecosystem.”
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet added: “Airtel is a leading pioneer shaping India’s digital future, and we are proud to partner on a shared vision for expanding connectivity and ensuring equitable access to the Internet for more Indians. Our commercial and equity investment in Airtel is a continuation of our Google for India Digitization Fund’s efforts to increase access to smartphones, enhance connectivity to support new business models, and help companies on their digital transformation journey.”
FDA approved the first of its kind bispecfic antibody for the eye by Greentech. The solution, Vabysmo, can be used to treat two leading causes of vision loss as it targets two disease pathways. Vabysmo is in the form of an injectable eye medicine and the recommended dosing depends on the individual patient.
The Phase III studies showed Vabysmo to be highly effective in treating wet, or neovascular, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME).
“Vabysmo represents an important step forward for ophthalmology. It is the first bispecific antibody approved for the eye and a major advance in treating retinal conditions such as wet AMD and diabetic macular edema,” said Charles Wykoff, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Research at Retina Consultants of Texas in Houston and a Vabysmo Phase III investigator. “With Vabysmo, we now have the opportunity to offer patients a medicine that could improve their vision, potentially lowering treatment burden with fewer injections over time.”