Category: Banking

fintech
FX and PaymentTransactional and Investment Banking

New Financial Technologies Are Changing Lives

fintech

New Financial Technologies Are Changing Lives

By Ronald Miller, CEO, Paysend

Fintech is revolutionising traditional financial services and helping to change lives. PwC, the professional services firm, reports that the majority in the banking sector believe at least some part of their business is under threat by the fintech revolution. 

New fintech firms are disrupting traditional financial services and are giving birth to a whole new generation of starts ups.These start ups are changing the way we move money around the world with significant and positive economic and social implications.

Most financial services used to be the preserve of big businesses.  Now new technologies are automating processes, reducing start-up costs and making it possible for challenger brands to disrupt this industry. However, the changes we witness are creating far more than a shift of power from big business to new players in the sector. 

Fintech is giving consumers greater control of how they pay, hold and spend money.  It is creating a revolution in the way that funds move between people and countries. Global money transfers, where workers in one country send money to their families back home, is not a new phenomenon. 

However, World Bank figures show that there are now 270m people globally who live outside their home country, sending an estimated $689bn home.  This is almost ten times as much as it was in 1990.

Very often these transactions are life changing for those that send or receive them. Money earned in the UK often goes further in emerging economies.  Some of it goes to provide seed money for small enterprises and family businesses.

Global money transfers will soon overtake foreign direct investment as the biggest inflow of capital into developing countries.  In some countries, the money received will represents a third of their total GDP.

Technology has helped foster this dramatic rise. What was once a laborious, slow and expensive process to move money across borders is now simple, quick and low cost. Fintech has made it easier than ever to move money around the world. 

Over the last two years, at Paysend we’ve helped nearly 1.3m customers transfer money to more than 70 countries worldwide. We grow by each day as more people use our service for instant and flat-fee transfers. We believe in the power of technology to ease money transfers to allow more people to benefit from it and as a result imnprove their lives.

Ronald Millar is CEO at Paysend, the UK-based global fintech company, with a unique card-to-card money transfer technology, serving 1.3m customers worldwide.

telecoms
Cash ManagementFundsMarketsTax

UK Telecoms Industry Boasts Fastest Growing R&D Spend Of Any Sector

telecoms

UK Telecoms Industry Boasts Fastest Growing R&D Spend Of Any Sector

The telecoms industry is the UK’s fastest growing sector when it comes to spending on R&D, the latest ONS data has revealed.
Telecoms businesses increased their spending on research and development by £192m to £947m, according to the latest statistics for 2018 which were released recently.

This was a rise of 25.4%, taking it to a four-year high. However, the sector is still some way off its all-time high of £1.5bn set in 2007, analysis by R&D tax relief specialist Catax shows.

Total R&D spending by telecoms firms totalled £755m in 2017 and £797m in 2016.

The amount that UK businesses across all sectors have invested in R&D continues to grow, rising £1.4bn to £25bn in 2018 — up 5.8%. Manufacturing was associated with £16.3bn of R&D spending, up 4.7%, but pharmaceuticals remained the biggest product group with £4.5bn of R&D spending, up 3.3%.

The number of staff employed by UK businesses also continued to grow, rising 7.3% annually to exceed 250,000 full-time equivalents for the first time.

Mark Tighe, chief executive of R&D tax relief specialists Catax, said: “The telecoms industry is extremely important to the UK strategically and it is reassuring to see such growth in investment.

“There is still some way to go if this investment is to recover to levels seen before the financial crash, however, and it is vital this happens if Britain is to continue to be a key technological player on the world stage.

“More broadly, this is the second full year that Brexit Britain has shrugged off the political poison after the EU referendum and posted great gains in terms of R&D investment, running head and shoulders above the long-term average.

“For the first time in history a quarter of a million people nationwide are engaged full time in keeping the UK at the cutting edge. This is going to make a huge difference to Britain’s prospects outside the EU.

“The rate at which UK businesses are adding R&D staff to the workforce remains impressive, virtually matching the previous year with a rise of 7.3%.”

gold bar
CommoditiesFX and Payment

The Top Five Things You Need to Know About Gold

gold bar

The Top Five Things You Need to Know About Gold

Commodities are the lifeblood of commerce and economic growth. Daily FX, the leading portal for forex trading news, has built an interactive tool showing global commodity imports and exports over the last decade.

This unique tool allows traders to spot developments in the flow of commodities and the growth of both supply and demand while comparing the changes to critical economic indicators.

‘Global Commodities’ takes the form of a re-imagined 3D globe where the heights of countries rise and fall to show the import and export levels of a range of commodities over the last decade. The data visualisation allows users to switch views from a single commodity or market and show information relevant to that commodity or market’s performance.

John Kicklighter at DailyFX has used the tool to put together his top five things you need to know about gold:

1. Will the Federal Reserve System capitulate on policy tightening?

Gold is often seen as a credibility default swap on central banks and governments, and a further reverse course of Federal Reserve Monetary Policy in 2019 or beyond could help gold shine for investors.

2. Will inflation bring back the factor that gold has historically rallied behind?

Gold has long been praised as an effective hedge in times of inflation, and more so, times of hyper-inflation when prices skyrocket out of control. While that seems unlikely, an unexpected jump in general prices could align with a resurgence in the gold price. 

3. Could governments spiral out of control, leading to a hedge in gold as a haven amidst the political chaos?

Amidst noise and fears that the leaders of the state have lost their way is typically when gold does best. A recent example was the US Government shut down in 2011 when Gold traded near $2,000/oz. Recent Trade War rhetoric and other geopolitical themes seem to be fertile ground for gold investors.

4. Will central banks further ramp up gold purchases to hedge their Fiat Currency Reserves?

In late 2018 Eastern European central banks boosted their gold holdings following other purchases made by Russian and Chinese central banks as a source of stability. Estimates state that central banks hold 20% of all gold ever mined.

5. Could a bear market in stocks lead to the long-awaited boost in gold prices?

The rally in stocks since 2009 has not been kind to Gold, except at the start when the longevity of the stock market rally was in doubt. With the SPX500 near record highs and overall stock market volatility still low. Gold has had little reason to rise as a hedge, but a shock decrease in stocks and higher in volatility could give gold bulls the jolt they’ve long been without.

To learn more about Global Commodities visit: https://www.dailyfx.com/research/global-commodities

Online banking
BankingCash ManagementPrivate BankingWealth Management

For UK Consumers the Front Door of a Bank is Now Its Mobile App, Not Its Physical Branch

Online banking

For UK Consumers the Front Door of a Bank is Now Its Mobile App, Not Its Physical Branch

 

72 percent of UK residents said they do the majority of their banking online and 77 percent consider switching to digital-only providers.

Marqeta, the first global modern card issuing platform, announced the results today of its new digital banking survey, which found that demand for physical bank branches continues to decline as digital banking platforms offer more seamless access to remote money management tools.

The research, conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Marqeta and surveying 800 UK and 1200 US consumers, found that 74 percent of consumers expect to use their mobile app regularly in the next three months, in comparison with just 22 percent who expect to visit a physical branch. The majority of respondents (77 percent) said that they will consider digital-only platforms when they next switch banks.

Most UK consumers (72 percent) also confirmed that they now complete almost all of their banking online, with the younger generation leading the way. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of UK respondents aged 18-34 say they use a digital bank as either a primary or secondary banking option. Of those that use a digital bank in tandem with a traditional option, 56 percent of them said that they were more satisfied with the service provided by their digital bank. 

Trends in digital banking have also seen UK consumers make the switch to digital faster than their US counterparts. The survey found that:

• Only 21 percent of UK respondents, expect to visit a physical bank branch in the next three months, compared to 30 percent of US respondents.

• 72 percent of UK respondents said they do the majority of their banking online, while 62 percent of US respondents said the same. 

This confidence in utilising digital banking platforms is driving new expectations for innovation in the banking and fintech sector, as the vast majority of UK respondents (86 percent) say they want to see new technology from their bank in the future.

Marqeta’s survey also show that given how new digital banks are, consumers see the risk factor around digital banking as somewhat of an unknown. 51 percent of UK consumers said they felt like a digital bank was a riskier place to store their money, while 41 percent said they would limit how much money they deposited in a digital bank. 78 percent of UK respondents said they considered a bank’s security and reputation before giving them their business, with 30 percent saying that a lack of market track record was holding them back from making the move to a digital-only bank.

“This research demonstrates that UK consumers are ready to go digital with their finances, but digital banks still must work hard to innovate as we become an increasingly cashless, mobile-first society,” said Ian Johnson, Head of Europe at Marqeta. “Apps and payments cards account for an overwhelming majority of spending and money-management actions, and the rapid rise of new wave challenger banks is a major drive of this of this. At Marqeta we see the modern card issuing market being worth as much as $80 trillion globally by 2030, which is going to continue to create unprecedented demand for innovation and new offerings in banking.”

Brexit
MarketsRegulationSecurities

GDPR post Brexit and the impact on financial services

Brexit

GDPR post Brexit and the impact on financial services

By Ian Osborne, UK & Ireland VP, Shred-it

October 31st has been and gone. Yet despite the Prime Minister promising to deliver Brexit by this date, the UK remains part of the EU at least until January 31st 2020, following last week’s confirmation of the extension. And even then, it is still not clear exactly what will be, as MPs are interrogating the deal while preparing for a General Election on 12th December.

Like many industries, financial services have felt the effects of uncertainty surrounding if, how and when the UK will leave the EU. With London the epicentre for financial services in Europe, the wider potential impact is enormous.

The biggest fear amongst the business community has been that global companies will move their operations from the UK to other countries within the Eurozone.  Another cause for concern has been that companies will increasingly pause or divert investment in the UK, leaving Britain’s economy in stagnation.

On a more operational level however, there remain questions around EU regulations and how Brexit will impact financial services businesses from a regulatory perspective.  Take data protection, which was brought to attention last year with the introduction of the EU’s GDPR, and is today a big challenge for the industry.

According to data from the Ponemon Institute in 2017, financial services companies that experienced an information breach suffered the highest cost per capita than any other industry, at £154.  Furthermore, data left in insecure locations was the number one source of reported incidents in the finance sector in the UK (PwC for the ICO 2017).

Guidance from the Information Commissioners’ Office has recently confirmed that most of the data protection rules affecting businesses will remain the same post-Brexit.  The good news is that financial services companies that comply with GDPR and have no contacts or customers in the EEA (which constitutes EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) don’t need to do much more to prepare for data protection after Brexit.

However, organisations that receive personal data from contacts within the EEA must take additional steps to ensure they are fully compliant after Brexit, which may require designating a representative in the EEA.

Brexit aside, there remain questions as to how compliant with GDPR businesses are across the UK, despite it being a year since the legislation was introduced.  Financial services organisations that saw the introduction of GDPR as an opportunity to get their data-house in order and to improve the quality of the personal data they store are certainly reaping the benefits of last year’s GDPR efforts.

To assess the attitude of businesses in general, Shred-it commissioned a survey of 1,439 UK-based SMEs (under 500 employees) which found that 72 per cent of respondents said they were very aware of GDPR.

While this presents positive news, the biggest concern is whether that confidence in GDPR-readiness is justified. Less than half (45 per cent) of the firms who said they were ready to deal with data protection requirements also said they had reviewed their policies recently. Just over a third had contacted their customers to confirm consent to data use, less than a quarter had published a privacy notice, and just over two in 10 had reviewed, deleted or destroyed personal data.

These results suggest that businesses across all sectors – including financial services – need to take a more proactive approach to data protection.

So how can financial services firms ensure they are GDPR compliant?

Keep up to date with privacy laws

First things first. Businesses must stay up to date with privacy laws and understand what action – if any – they need to take to comply – particularly post-Brexit. Clear guidance is provided by the ICO website.

Customer communication has changed

Since the introduction of GDPR in 2018, financial services companies have had to rethink their strategies for communicating with customers. For example, customer e-marketing activities, such as newsletters, now require assessment post-GDPR and businesses must seek permission from customers to store their personal data and contact them with offers and promotions.

Protect your digital data

It’s important to remember that data protection refers to both digital information, as well as paper records. For digital data, financial services firms can take simple measures to ensure they are compliant with GDPR, including setting secure usernames, passwords and PINs for all devices, installing anti-virus software and a firewall on hard drives, avoiding posting confidential files on social media platforms, and avoiding opening files or links from an unknown sender.

Don’t forget paper records  

Not everything you collect, store, or handle is digital. When financial forecasts or year-end results are printed for a meeting, when reports or agendas are circulated for a meeting, they are at risk of getting into the wrong hands if they are not handled and disposed of properly and securely. Best practice should include the provision of locked confidential information consoles that are easily accessible, and company-wide policies that encourage a clean desk at night.

Business leaders should also be arranging for the secure destruction of documents after use or after prescribed periods of mandated storage, keeping only digital copies of essential files in an encrypted format.

Educate staff on data protection policy

In an industry that relies on privacy and confidentiality, the reality is that many information breaches happen not because of inferior firewalls or passwords, but because of employee error, negligence, or poor judgement. You may be doing everything you can but one employee, casually dropping a draft financial report into the recycling, can undo everything.

Finance services companies must have a strict policy on how to identify, handle and securely dispose of confidential information, that is communicated clearly to all employees and updated whenever necessary to avoid a potential breach.

Ian Osbourne
This article was written by Ian Osborne, UK & Ireland VP, Shred-it
investments
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

British Business Investments makes £15m Tier 2 capital facility available to PCF Bank

investments

British Business Investments makes £15m Tier 2 capital facility available to PCF Bank

 

British Business Investments (BBI), a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank, has announced a new £15m Tier 2 capital facility to specialist bank, PCF Bank.

PCF Bank has a long history as a specialist financier of vehicles, plant and equipment. Established in 1994, and launching banking services in 2017, PCF Bank has helped more than 18,000 customers with purchasing business critical assets for their businesses.

The facility will enable the Bank to draw on additional capital as required, allowing it to utilise capital in an efficient and earnings enhancing manner as the business grows. This investment could support up to an additional £125m of asset-based lending to UK smaller businesses.

The £15m capital investment is a Tier 2 capital facility provided through BBI’s Investment Programme, which is designed to increase the supply and diversity of finance for smaller businesses by boosting the lending capacity of challenger banks and non-bank lenders. Since it launched in 2013, the Investment Programme has committed over £900m to providers of finance to UK smaller businesses.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of British Business Investments, said: “This commitment to PCF Bank supports British Business Investments’ objective to increase the diversity of supply of business finance. Banks like PCF help diversify the finance market, and in turn contribute to more choices for smaller businesses across the UK.”

Scott Maybury, CEO of PCF Bank, said: “PCF has been helping UK SMEs purchase the assets they need for over 20 years. Since launching as a bank in 2017 we have been able to increase the size of our lending book driving profitability in a sustainable way. This facility from British Business Investments will allow us to continue to grow and support the UK private sector.”

The Investment Programme unlocks increased development capital to speciality lenders and challenger banks serving smaller businesses and enables BBI to support the development of diverse finance markets.

Wealth and Finance
Cash ManagementPensionsPrivate BankingReal EstateWealth Management

The Mosaic of Modern Wealth: Wealth Advisers Must Keep Pace with Globally Mobile Clients

Wealth and Finance

The Mosaic of Modern Wealth: Wealth Advisers Must Keep Pace with Globally Mobile Clients

 

By Axel Hörger, CEO Europe at Lombard International Assurance

The world’s wealthiest people are on the move. According to this year’s Knight Frank Wealth Report, 26% of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) are planning on emigrating in the next year. An astounding 36% already hold a second passport. For many, the ability to move their lives, families and assets freely around the world is the new norm.

This trend has been growing for well over a decade, fuelled by increased competition between countries seeking to attract the world’s wealthiest and drive investment. From France to Thailand, countries are seeing the benefit of adopting competitive tax regimes, investment-based visa schemes, and fast-tracked citizenship programmes. Since 2000, 20 EU member states have implemented these types of policies, resulting in approximately $28 billion in foreign direct investment.

For countries like Malta and Cyprus, this has led to a much-needed economic boost as thousands of wealthy individuals have invested in their local economies in return for residency or citizenship. In Portugal, attractive tax rates have in part led to a remarkable economic rebound, with GDP growth set to be one of the highest in Europe, while Lisbon and Porto consistently top the list of most attractive places to live in the world. As countries look to replicate this type of success story, global mobility is only set to increase.

But as global mobility increases so too does the complexity of managing wealth. Globally mobile clients will look to their advisers to be able to seamlessly manage their cross-border wealth, regardless of where they look to base themselves. And as many of the residency by investment programmes have a time limit, moving to a third or fourth country over a ten-year period is becoming increasingly normal. Wealth solutions for truly globally mobile clients need to be able to facilitate this unprecedented level of cross-border movement.

Advisers will also have to be aware that the globally mobile HNW and UHNW client base they are serving is expanding. In 2018, $8.7 trillion of personal financial wealth was held cross-borders – roughly 4.2% of the global total. The fabric of modern-day wealth is evolving as the sources and destinations of this wealth are set to change significantly over the coming years. For example, Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2023, the value of Asia’s cross-border wealth will have grown by 150%.

Wealth advisers will need to keep pace with this dramatic shift and cater for the changing needs of this growing client base. Driven by continuing economic and political uncertainty in the region, HNWIs and UHNWIs from emerging markets will increasingly seek asset safety, protecting against currency depreciation, and the desire to gain stable returns through international diversification. What these clients need are wealth structuring solutions that can manage cross border wealth spread across multiple developed markets. They will also need advisers who are able to navigate effectively around any regulatory or cultural differences between markets.

The mosaic that makes up the lives of modern wealthy people is constantly shifting and being redesigned as wealth is distributed across a more diverse range of ages, genders and nationalities than ever before. What drives wealthy people around the world has never been so complex. For wealth advisers, this means greater difficulties and greater opportunities. The wealth management industry needs to understand the changing landscape that faces HNWIs and UHNWIs and offer solutions that can help them to navigate the uncertainty and complexity.

When I speak to clients, what they are looking for is comfort that their adviser has expertise across multiple markets and jurisdictions. What they want is a feeling of control over their wealth and life’s legacy wherever they are, wherever they want to be, and regardless of what lies ahead.

For more information about Lombard International Assurance, visit our website.

Commodities
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)CommoditiesFX and PaymentStock Markets

Top five things you need to know about commodities

Commodities

Top five things you need to know about commodities

 

Commodities are the lifeblood of commerce and economic growth. Daily FX, the leading portal for forex trading news, has built an interactive tool showing global commodity imports and exports over the last decade.

This unique tool allows traders to spot developments in the flow of commodities and the growth of both supply and demand while comparing the changes to critical economic indicators.

‘Global Commodities’ takes the form of a re-imagined 3D globe where the heights of countries rise and fall to show the import and export levels of a range of commodities over the last decade. The data visualisation allows users to switch views from a single commodity or market and show information relevant to that commodity or market’s performance.

John Kicklighter, Chief Currency Strategist at DailyFX, has used the tool to put together his top five things you need to know about commodities:

1. Will the US-China trade war lead to trade peace and synchronous growth to help commodities?

The US-China trade war is seen globally as a hindrance to growth, and as such, a hindrance to the demand for commodities. The International Monetary Fund warned governments to be  “very careful” and that the global economy remains vulnerable, and presumably, so do commodities until the issue is sorted out.

2. Will the US dollar strength continue and continue to suppress commodity price gains?

Since commodities are priced in US Dollars, a stronger USD as evidenced by the 6% gain in the US Dollar Index since the start of 2018 has had a positive impact on commodity price gains.

3. Will inflation pop up to increase the demand for commodities as a value store?

The lack of inflation has baffled central bankers and kept speculative buyers of commodities at bay.

4. Could a renewed China stimulus plan give industrial metals like copper the price boost and reverse weak sentiment?

Chinese stimulus via credit growth and top-down building projects have helped commodities in recent years find renewed demand, and the hope among commodity buyers is that there is more stimulus left in the tank.

5. Will US manufacturing turn around after falling at the start of 2019 to also lift commodities’ outlook?

A significant reading of the US Manufacturing Sector, the Institute of Supply Management recently touched the weakest levels since 2016 alongside Chinese Manufacturing weakness that has heavily weighed on commodities in general and especially metals like copper.

To learn more about Global Commodities visit: https://www.dailyfx.com/research/global-commodities

Retirement fund
Cash ManagementPensionsTransactional and Investment Banking

Retirement fund is top saving priority for Brits

Retirement fund

Retirement fund is top saving priority for Brits

 

Over half (58%) of Brits wish they had invested in their future and retirement at an earlier age, according to new research by savings and mortgage provider Nottingham Building Society, known as The Nottingham.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults looked at the biggest saving priorities for the nation, and what age we wish we had started investing in different aspects of our lives, from health and careers to money management. A retirement fund was ranked as the biggest saving priority, despite only 29% of respondents admitting to actively saving towards their future.

The top ten most important saving priorities for Brits are:

  1. Retirement fund

  2. ‘Rainy day’ fund

  3. House deposit or increasing equity

  4. Holiday fund

  5. Funds to partake in my hobbies / outside of work activities

  6. Debt repayments

  7. New car

  8. Children’s saving account

  9. Children’s education

  10. Wedding fund

Debt repayments didn’t make the top five saving priorities for the nation, however, of the respondents who are currently saving, paying off or planning to pay off their debt, this saving was ranked second in importance, indicating that those who are currently in debt are prioritising this over saving for other factors such as a house deposit (ranked fourth in importance), or a new car (ranked seventh).

However, when it comes to what Brits are actually saving for, the most common goal was a ‘rainy day’ fund, with over a third (34%) of Brits currently saving towards this. Interestingly, more than double are saving towards a holiday (29%) than a house deposit (13%), despite a house deposit being ranked as a higher priority overall.

When it comes to the ages the nation wish they had started investing in different aspects of our lives, Brits found that they wished they had invested towards their retirement at age 31, when on average they actually began investing at 39 – almost a decade later. On average, UK adults begin saving towards a ‘rainy day’ fund at 34, despite wishing they had started at 28.

Retirement data

 

Jenna McKenzie-Day, Senior Savings Manager at The Nottingham, said: “Our research found that on average, homeowners wish they had begun planning to buy their first home three years earlier than they started, with a similar picture being painted for those saving for their future. Interestingly, it found that Brits wish they had started their retirement fund a staggering eight years before they actually began saving.

“Whether you are saving for your first home or starting your retirement plans, products such as the LISA, which is available for those looking to plan for their future, offer a 25% government backed bonus on annual savings  up to £4,000, those extra eight years of savings could have increased their future savings by a potential £8,000 – making it the perfect product to start your saving journey.”

To find out more about the Nottingham’s LISA, visit: https://www.thenottingham.com/lifetime-isa/

CX-Platforms
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Purpose-Built CX Platforms ensure banks are meeting the needs of vulnerable customers

CX-Platforms

Purpose-Built CX Platforms ensure banks are meeting the needs of vulnerable customers

 

FCA consultation shines spotlight on fair treatment, putting pressure on financial services to implement suitable solutions.

In July, the Financial Conduct Authority announced the launch of a consultation on proposed guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. As a leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, Clarabridge, Inc., is stressing the ability of dedicated technology to maintain compliance and ensure fair treatment of all customers. Without it, the firm says, banks and financial services companies are in danger of failing customers and breaching regulations.

The Clarabridge solution is widely used in the finance sector, and it is already helping companies to develop interactive dashboards to assist contact centre and customer service staff in monitoring the experiences of vulnerable customers.

“Any time customers make contact, it is not always easy for customer service agents to quickly understand their challenges,” said Jagrit Malhotra, Managing Director EMEA at Clarabridge. “Vulnerable customers may face a variety of difficulties and obstacles that affect their interactions. Our technology allows banks and financial institutions to analyse these interactions in great detail, thereby uncovering the sentiments that customers are expressing, the effort that they are making to access services, and how this can be improved to enhance the overall journey.”

The FCA has stated that whilst many firms have made significant progress in how they treat vulnerable customers, there needs to be more consistency. It says that in some cases, a failure to understand their needs is leading to harm.

In the last six months, Clarabridge has designed tailored dashboards for a prominent UK bank and a leading insurance company to help them analyse data from sources such as phone calls, web chats, email and social media posts. By identifying and addressing negative feedback, including that from vulnerable customers, financial organisations can prioritise improvements to help these customers while also addressing areas of compliance or regulatory risks.

“Financial services companies can ensure fair and consistent treatment of customers by proactively identifying the root causes of problems,” continued Malhotra. “The news features reports of banks discriminating against the disabled in overdraft charges, for example, or failing to indemnify vulnerable customers against fraud. We can use highly advanced analytics to help organisations quickly tackle issues, consistently meet FCA guidelines, and gain a deeper understanding of the very real needs of their customers.”

Clarabridge’s AI-powered solution also meets the banking industry’s need for fast-turnaround implementations. Its modules are customised to the unique workflow of the industry and include Complaints & Compliance Analysis, Digital Experience (Mobile App & Website), Branch & ATM Experience and Contact Centre Experience.

To learn more about this solution for retail banking and other industries, please visit: https://www.clarabridge.com/solutions/industry/banking/

card
BankingCash Management

Yordex introduces smart company card to spend management solution software, which cuts the cost and complexity of controlling business finances

card

Yordex introduces smart company card to spend management solution software - which cuts the cost and complexity of controlling business finances

 

UK fintech Yordex is making it simple for fast-growing companies to control business spend by adding company cards to its smart spend management solution, giving businesses complete visibility and authority over their current and future finances.

Expense management currently takes up a disproportionate amount of time and money within most organisations; on average, it costs in excess of $20 in people power to process every invoice or expense claim, while expenses only account for less than 6% of total company spend.* In addition, firms struggle to get a real-time picture of their financial health, as their existing software platform only provide a historical view of spend. It takes an average company up to 10 working days at month end to get an accurate account of what was spent the previous month.

Yordex is pioneering a new approach to managing business finances. Its smart solution provides 100% visibility over company spending – from cards and expenses to invoices and budgets – so businesses can control all current and future finances in one place, reducing the cost of spend management by 60-70%.

Adding company cards further enhances Yordex’s smart spend management solution, by empowering employees to make autonomous purchases within set spending limits. Receipts and invoices are automatically matched with expenses and the correct VAT rate is applied, significantly reducing the administrative and compliance burden placed on staff. Businesses can also manage online spending, such as subscriptions, through virtual cards, avoiding the need to unsecurely pass physical cards around the office.

By introducing smart company cards that are fully integrated with Yordex’s spend management platform, businesses will be able to make agile, insight driven decision-making enabling real-time spend visibility and accurate cash flow control through the use of Yordex’s financial reporting tools.

Erik De Kroon, co-founder and CEO of Yordex, comments: “As companies grow, their costs become harder to track. Businesses want to keep the fast decision-making capabilities of their early days, but there have been no financial tools available to help them achieve this – until now.”

“Yordex enables businesses to retain control over their spend as they scale up, so they can make rapid decisions based on real-time insights. Introducing smart company cards will make it even easier for fast-growing businesses to make intelligent choices.”

Companies already using the Yordex smart spend management solution will be offered complimentary cards as valued customers.

Erik concludes: “Every business is different, but they all have one thing in common: they’ve got better things to do than waste time on spend management. Our approach gives companies complete cash flow visibility without expensive, time-consuming software implementations, and adding smart company cards will enable business owners to focus on growing their business without compromising on financial insight and control.”

Ferrari
ArticlesCash ManagementInsurance

Purchasing your dream car – can it become a reality?

Ferrari

Purchasing your dream car – can it become a reality?

 

Buying a new car over one that is second-hand can bump up the price tag, but driving off the forecourt in your dream car is a feeling like no other. In fact, thousands of car buyers each year seek their dream car with a brand-new registration. So, without breaking the bank, how can you afford your dream car?

Buying a car by credit card

Paying through your credit card company can give you added protection on the full purchase cost (often as long as the value of the vehicle is over £100 and less than £30,000). Of course, you have to be able to meet your monthly payments too.

This method allows you to put down an even lower deposit than 10% and pay the rest of the vehicle off using a debit card. It’s best to consider all options here, as often the interest that you pay on a credit card could be significantly higher than that of a finance agreement.

If you want to buy a car by credit card however, it’s best to speak to your car dealer first as some dealerships don’t accept this method of payment.

Personal Contract Purchase agreement

PCP is an agreement where the end value of the car is agreed at the start of the contract, so you can plan your payments accordingly. Payments are often less than what you’d pay in a hire purchase agreement as you pay the full price of the car, plus interest but minus the guaranteed future value of the car. You must pass credit checks before you’re eligible for a PCP agreement.

When it comes to the end of your PCP agreement, you can either pay off the future value of the car to become the full owner, hand back the keys or trade the car in as a deposit for a new finance agreement.

To lower the monthly cost, you can place down a large initial deposit if you can afford it. Saving a lump sum for a large deposit is easier than saving up for a car, while reduced monthly payments can really help out too. Always evaluate your current monthly payments before you agree to a finance agreement, as being behind on your payments can lead to financial issues.

Be aware though, if you have exceeded the forecasted mileage on the car, there will be further charges to pay. This is because more miles decrease the value of the car. Also, any damage to the car will be charged to you, so you must be prepared to take good care of the vehicle.

Hire purchase agreement

This is relatively similar to a PCP agreement. It involves monthly payments with the option to purchase the car at the end of your agreement based on its new value.

A usual deposit for a car is 10% of the car’s value, but often you can pay more to reduce the follow-up monthly payments. The rest of the car is then payed off in instalments over a period of one to five years. The longer this period, the less you have to pay each month but due to interest charges, the total cost of the car becomes higher.

As we can see, there are a range of finance options available to you for purchasing new as oppose to used cars, allowing you to drive that dream car you’ve always wanted without forking out loads of cash. Save up what you can for a significant deposit and always make sure that you can cover the payments before signing any agreements.

santander
ArticlesBankingCash ManagementFinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

Santander Consumer Finance is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK

santander

Santander Consumer Finance is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK delivering an end-to-end digital solution

 

Santander Consumer Finance (SCF) is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK delivering an end-to-end digital solution for dealers further strengthening its commitment to growing the market.

The national launch of Apply Online which offers e-sign capability means customers can calculate the finance they need, receive immediate approvals and sign documentation at home or in showrooms ensuring that dealers remain in control.

Delivery of the end-to-end digital process has taken nine months since the launch of SCF’s online calculator in December and involved substantial financial and resource investments at SCF.

The calculator has proved popular – customers have generated more than 4.1 million quotes and 51 dealers have signed up for the calculator. Apply Online, which was successfully tested over the past month, is now available to all dealers using the calculator.

SCF’s digital solution is integrated into dealers’ websites and installation takes minutes for dealers who already have the calculator. SCF is providing additional support to help dealers make the most effective use of the digital proposition.

The system is designed to provide a simple, fair and personal experience for car buyers and builds on the success of SCF’s partnership with Volvo Car UK launched in April.

Stewart Grant, Santander Consumer Finance Commercial Director said: “We’ve worked hard to design a market leading end-to-end digital solution which ensures   dealers retain control of customer relationships while benefiting from our brand power.

“The financial investment and the time spent by our team in developing and delivering the digital transformation emphasises how committed we are to support our dealer network in maximising sales and profitability within the growing digital market.”

Dealers interested in using the calculator or wishing to register interest in the Online Application platform should contact their Business Development Manager or visit: www.santanderconsumer.co.uk/dealer

R&D tax relief
FundsTransactional and Investment BankingWealth Management

Capital on Tap Celebrates the Milestone of Lending Over One Billion Pounds to Small Businesses

R&D tax relief

Capital on Tap Celebrates the Milestone of Lending Over One Billion Pounds to Small Businesses

 

In seven years from creation, the fintech company Capital on Tap, celebrates a major milestone of lending over 1 billion pounds to more than 65,000 small and medium enterprise businesses across the UK. 

By 2018, Capital on Tap had lent £500m to small businesses, and in the short timeframe that followed to September 2019, has now doubled this number to hit the milestone of £1bn. The quick, two-minute online application has drawn-in customers from various industries who praise the lending service for its ease of use. 

The one billionth pound customer Elaine Speirs, founder of Speirs Consultancy Ltd in biopharmaceuticals, said: “It was very easy, very fast. I don’t remember having to have a conversation with anyone, and I got my credit card within a couple of days.”   

“The app is really easy to use on my phone, and there’s a website where I can track all payments; it’s just very simple, I don’t really have to think about it.” Elaine continued that “my own bank turned me down as I was a new business, and without even applying for a loan – that was after 25 years of banking history with them, which I was quite taken aback by.” 

The Capital on Tap ‘soft searching’ function is ideal for new business owners as it allows customers to find out if they’re eligible for a loan without impacting their credit score. This method challenges typical lenders and empowers customers, particularly benefiting those in rural parts of the UK who could suffer approval delays of up to three weeks. In addition, once the Capital on Tap fund is agreed; the money is available online in a matter of minutes, streamlining the lending function and supporting those who may struggle with traditional lending platforms. 

Support given by Capital on Tap has been commonly found to facilitate travel, allowing customers to work internationally without charging any extras. Sean Swart, founder of PICS Consultancy Ltd, highlights that “I am often required to move around as part of my job and the Capital on Tap card removes stress around cash flow created by expenses, mainly those from travel expenditure which is created as a by-product of my job.” 

David Luck, CEO at Capital on Tap, commented: “We started Capital on Tap in 2012, with a mission of making it faster and easier for small and medium enterprises to obtain working capital. Since lending money to our first customer back in 2013, I never thought we would have lent over £1bn to more than 65,000 small businesses in just seven years.” 

“We have worked to develop a lending platform that not only makes funding easier for small businesses, but also provides a service for traditional banks. Not only do we pride ourselves in supporting small businesses in the main cities, we provide a unique service for those in provincial areas, where traditional banks fall short.” 

For more information, visit the Capital on Tap website: https://capitalontap.com/

The importance of sports to the UK economy
ArticlesBankingFinanceFunds

The importance of sports to the UK economy

The importance of sports to the UK economy

The importance of sports to the UK economy

 

There’s no doubt that the summer of 2018 will be difficult to top! With an uncharacteristically hot summer making for the perfect backdrop to all the barbecues we ever dreamed of, alongside an unpredictably fantastic performance in the World Cup for the English football team that single-handedly boosted the nation’s spirits even further, it was by all accounts a cracking summer. 2020 is set to bring us another worldwide celebration of sport with the Olympics in Tokyo, so you’d be forgiven for thinking 2019 might end up being something of a lull for the sporting world to recharge.

Not so. In fact, some news correspondents are forecasting another great year for UK sports. In particular, cricket is set to be the focus of the year while men’s football takes a backseat, as both the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes series are to be held in England.

Even a ‘quiet’ year has so much going on in the sporting world then. With that in mind, just how integral is the sporting industry to the overall UK economy? In this article, we will cover how the sporting industry supports the UK both in a financial capacity and beyond.

Input to the economy

If you’re not into sports (and perhaps even if you are), the wages enjoyed by sporting professionals might seem ludicrous. In particular, the six-figure weekly wages of top-league football players is a point of contention for some. What are we, as a nation, getting in return for such a cost?

Well, beyond the enjoyment of watching sport, the industry supports a huge part of the UK economy. According to CareerBuilder, the sports industry tallies up a whopping £23.8 billion annually for the economy. Let’s put a little context on that figure with a look at other contributors to the economy. The tourism industry, which the sporting industry technically supports as well thanks to the number of sports fan tourists seeking out games to spectate, brings in £24.5 billion for the economy every year.

Meanwhile, the Royal Family brings in around £1.8 billion to the UK economy each year, depending on the number of royal weddings of course! But this is outstripped by even one single contributor of the sporting world, with cycling drawing in £3 billion each year on its own. It’s a clear contrast that shows just how important the sporting industry is to the nation’s economy, standing toe-to-toe with the tourism industry.

Input beyond finances

Naturally, the sporting sector brings in benefits for the UK beyond financial too. There’s the sense of community it fosters, such as the nationwide burst of pride we all felt, sports fans or not, when England performed so well in the World Cup! This sense of social value also extends to supporting skills outside of sports — for example, numeracy skills in underachieving young people were seen to increase by 29% when becoming a regular sports participant.

Then, there’s the employment side of things. The sporting industry supports over 400,000 full-time positions in England alone.

Plus, there’s the obvious health factor. Participating in sports, which is undoubtedly spurred and motivated in many ways by fans looking up to athletes they admire, brings a much-needed boost to the nation’s health.

Protecting the commodity

The pitches

With such a strong presence in the UK’s financial stability, what is being done to ensure our sports capabilities are world-class? Well, for one, we have to maintain the best venues for both the players and spectators! A poor pitch can have a huge impact on the game it is hosting. Take Euro 2016, for example: while that year’s unusually wet summer left the French pitches in a terrible state, the UK’s football pitches were kept in prime condition. Of course, wet weather is the very foundation of which groundkeepers are experienced in here in the UK! With hybrid turf technology, undersoil heating, and pop-up sprinklers, our fields are ready for any eventuality. Keeping the soil warm ensures the grass doesn’t fall into its dormant, brown hue and stays green all winter.

As well as keeping the grass warm to avoid it going dormant, adequate draining is also needed to keep the grass from succumbing to the usually damp and dreadful British weather. One such method utilised by football pitches is pipe and slit drained pitches, which consists of a layer of firmed topsoil, stone back-fill, subsoil, and a perforated plastic pipe, along with a slit drain and sand blinding layer to allow water to drain down and away.

Sports funding

Of course, it’s not just football being maintained to such a high level. Thanks to UK Sport investing in a range of sports with money from the National Lottery and Exchequer income, other sporting disciplines are also flourishing on UK soil.

Particularly with the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, current funding is generous indeed. Example figures include £29,624,264 to cycling, £9,838,913 to taekwondo, and £16,457,953 to gymnastics.

The world of sport is hugely beneficial to the UK, in terms of economy and society. The sector sees a huge amount of funding and manpower, but for good reason, with the industry bringing in so much and putting the UK in the global eye as a key sporting participant.

Colin Price
BankingHigh Net-worth Individuals

Colin Price appointed Group Chief Operating Officer at KBL epb

Colin Price

Colin Price appointed Group Chief Operating Officer at KBL epb

 

KBL European Private Bankers (KBL epb), which operates in 50 cities across Europe, announced today the appointment of Colin Price as Group Chief Operating Officer and member of the Authorized Management Committee, subject to regulatory approval.

Price – who has a 35-year track record of successfully advising leading companies worldwide on how to unlock their full potential – will oversee a wide range of support functions, including IT, Operations, HR, Marketing and Real Estate. He will personally participate in the group’s long-term success through a significant co-investment.

A former Partner at PwC and McKinsey who set up his own boutique consultancy in 2014, Price earlier served as CEO of Heidrick Consulting, a division of Heidrick & Struggles. He has also served as a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London and an Associate Fellow at Saïd Oxford, the business school of Oxford University.

Price, a British national, holds degrees in economics, industrial relations and psychology, and organizational behavior. He is the co-author of a number of books, including most recently Accelerating Performance: How Companies Can Mobilize, Execute and Transform with Agility.

In his new role, he will work alongside Eric Mansuy, who assumed the Group COO role last fall and has been named Group Chief Information Technology & Operations Officer, reflecting his areas of core expertise and reporting to Price.

Mansuy, who joined KBL epb in 2014 as Group Chief Information Officer, previously served as Chief Information Officer at RBC Investor Services. A French national who studied at the University of Lorraine and IMD Business School, he earlier held a number of senior roles in the IT department at Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, rising to the position of Head of IT Services.

“I have known Colin for many years, benefiting from his strategic insight as a trusted advisor,” said Jürg Zeltner, Group CEO and member of the Board of Directors of KBL epb, where he has taken a significant ownership stake.“I am delighted that he has joined our group’s leadership team as a full partner in this journey.

“Together with Colin and Eric – who has demonstrated his ability to tackle the most complex technological and operational challenges – we will move forward rapidly and with purpose, cutting through complexity to deliver even greater value to every client we have the opportunity to serve.”

“After spending a lifetime studying why companies succeed and advising countless firms on how to perform better, I’m grateful for the opportunity to all put my insight and experience to work for KBL epb,” said Price. “At this transformative moment for the group, we’re focused on effecting rapid, positive change that will make this an even better bank for our clients and our people.”

“I’m very pleased to be able focus more sharply on shaping IT and Operations strategy, working closely with Colin and team leaders across our footprint,” concluded Mansuy, who has successfully overseen the group’s migration to an enhanced IT platform, among other major projects.

bitcoin
Due DiligenceFX and Payment

Leading UK tax and business advisers BKL to accept Bitcoin as fee payment

bitcoin

Leading UK tax and business advisers BKL to accept Bitcoin as fee payment

 

The London and Cambridge-based charted accountancy firm BKL, is believed to be the first UK mid-sized accountancy firm to accept a cryptocurrency to settle invoices. BKL specialises in helping entrepreneurs, high net worth individuals and owner managed businesses across a range of business sectors. These include technology, financial services, property and farms and estates.

“As a forward-looking business, we are always exploring new ways to develop our offering. We are pleased to now offer this option to clients,” said Jon Wedge, Financial Services partner at BKL.

“We support people and businesses that work with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and this move has been driven by demand from our clients. It’s a convenient way for many of them, particularly those in the fintech and technology sectors, to buy our services.”

Using a leading automated payment processing system, BitPay, clients of BKL can now opt to receive invoices in Bitcoin. 

“BKL are one of the most respected specialist accountancy practises serving the blockchain industry and we are very happy that they are successfully using BitPay’s B2B service” said Sonny Singh, Chief Commercial Officer of BitPay.

“This is another superb example of forward thinking professional service businesses engaging with the ever-expanding crypto currency industry.  As blockchain ventures continue to proliferate there will be an increasing worldwide demand by vendors to pay invoices in bitcoin.”

BKL will invoice their clients with a traditional fiat value, and then the client pays in bitcoin or bitcoin cash with a conversion rate provided by BitPay that is issued and fixed for 15 minutes, using an average price from leading regulated exchanges. This ensures there is no exposure to any of the price volatility that characterises the digital currencies.

BKL receives its payment electronically through BitPay, but as fiat money.

Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking - TSB Bank
BankingSecurities

The Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking

Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking - TSB Bank

The Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking

Recent statistics show that TSB, whose catastrophic IT transfer meltdown last year is still having lasting repercussions for clients, has come last in a consumer poll on the effectiveness of its online banking solutions. Staff Writer Hannah Stevenson explores how this is the direct result of the bank’s meltdown last year.

Last year, TSB lost thousands of customers when its IT systems switchover caused widespread outages and led to consumers and businesses being unable to access their accounts.

At the time, Paul Pester, TSB Chief Executive Officer, commented on the issues by saying:

“We’re making progress in resolving the service problems customers experienced following our IT migration, and we will continue to work tirelessly until we have put things right.  I know how frustrated many customers have been by what’s happened.  It was not acceptable, and was not the level of service that we pride ourselves on – nor was it what our customers have come to expect from TSB.

“It has been a difficult time for customers and I am grateful to them for their patience. I would also like to say thank you to our Partners for their enormous efforts.  They have done everything in their power to continue serving our customers, and I am proud to see that the values on which the Bank has been built have shone through during this time.

“Our priority in the second half of the year continues to be putting things right for our customers.  Looking further ahead we are determined to get back to bringing more competition to UK banking and ultimately making banking better for consumers and small businesses.”

Shortly afterwards, Paul stepped down from his position, showing how detrimental the issues had been to his career. Commenting on the changes, Richard Meddings made it clear that the IT problems were a key driving force in this decision.

“Paul has made an enormous contribution to TSB. Thanks to his passion and commitment, TSB is today one of the UK’s strongest challenger banks, serving over 5 million customers across the UK. On behalf of the TSB Board, I want to thank Paul for everything he has achieved as CEO and pay tribute to the contribution he has made in bringing greater competition to the UK retail banking market.

“Although there is more to do to achieve full stability for customers, the bank’s IT systems and services are much improved since the IT migration. Paul and the Board have therefore agreed that this is the right time to appoint a new CEO for TSB. Our goal is therefore to allow a full search to commence, without any distractions, enabling TSB to build for the future.

“Meanwhile I have been asked by the Board to take on the role of Executive Chairman on an interim basis. Together with the Executive Committee, we have three immediate priorities: to complete the work of putting things right for customers; to enable the bank to achieve full functionality – including the availability of all product services and launch of a leading Business Banking offer; and appointing a CEO for the next chapter of TSB.”

Later, TSB had a further issue, with smaller problems causing the bank further problems throughout 2018.

Andy Cory, identity management services lead at KCOM commented shortly after TSB’s second issue with authentication, which saw clients locked out of their accounts.

“A broken authentication system has an instant impact on customer loyalty. If a business cannot provide easy access to its services without sacrificing security, it only has itself to blame when its users desert.

“The problem is balancing access with security. Too easy to get in and you risk leaving customers unguarded; too many security measures and it becomes offputting for users.

“Fortunately, there is a way to achieve the best of both worlds. Frictionless customer authentication – where users can access online services with zero input into the identification process – is becoming a reality.

“For example, geo-location and geo-velocity checking allow companies to trace a user’s physical location and how far they have travelled since their last login. Taken together, they verify if the user is who they claim to be and make any manual input from the customer unnecessary.”

The latest results from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) showcase the long-term detrimental effect that the IT issues have caused. In the personal banking space the firm was last for its online services, but within the business banking space TSB was last in almost every category including online banking services, highlighting how much more important IT stability is for businesses. 

There may also be other factors at play, including poor interest rates, lack of availability for certain financial products and poor customer service as a whole, but there is clearly a link between the lack of faith consumers and businesses now have in TSB’s IT infrastructure and its poor ratings in this latest poll.

Looking ahead, TSB needs to restore faith through new initiatives and by showing its clients that it has truly put its IT failings behind it. For more of the latest news, insight and banking knowledge, subscribe to Wealth & Finance International Magazine HERE.

bank
BankingCapital Markets (stocks and bonds)

How the finance industry has evolved

bank

How the finance industry has evolved

Industries are constantly trying to keep up with the fast-paced landscape in which they operate, be it technological changes, customer demands or simply just making things easier for their consumers.

But it is the speed at which the technological advancements have reached that has forced traditionally slow-moving financial institutions to heavily invest to remain relevant to their consumers and remain competitive in the marketplace.

Personal

Banking is one of the oldest businesses in the world, going back centuries ago, in fact, the oldest bank in operation today is the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, founded in 1472. The first instance of a non-cash transaction came in the 20th century, when charga-plates were first invented. Considered a predecessor to the credit card, department stores brought these out to select customers and each time a purchase was made, the plates would be pressed and inked onto a sales slip.

At the end of the sales cycle, customers were expected to pay what they were owed to the store, however due to their singular location use, it made them rather limiting, thus paving way for the credit card, where customers that had access to one could apply the same transactional process to multiple stores and stations, all in one place.

Contactless

The way in which we conduct our leisurely expenditure has changed that much that we can now pay for services on our watches, but it wasn’t always this easy. Just over a few decades ago, individuals were expected to physically travel to their nearest bank to pay their bills, and had no choice but to carry around loose change and cash on their person, a practice that is a dying art in today’s society, kept afloat by the reducing population born before technology.

Although the first instances of contactless cards came about in the mid-90’s, the very first contactless cards associated with banking were first brought into circulation by Barclaycard in 2008, with now more than £40 million being issued, despite there being an initial skepticism towards the unfamiliar use of this type of payment method.

Business

Due to the changes in the financial industry leaning heavily towards a more virtual experience, traditional brick and mortar banks where the older generation still go to, to sort out their finances. Banks are closing at a rate of 60 per month nationwide, with some villages, such as Llandysul closing all four of its banks along with a post office leaving it a ghost town.

The elderly residents of the small town were then forced into a 30-mile round trip in order to access her nearest banking services. With technology not for everyone, those that weren’t taught technology at a younger age or at all are feeling the effects most, almost feeling shut out, despite many banks offering day-to-day banking services through more than 11,000 post office branches, offering yet a lifeline for those struggling with the new business model of financial firms.

Future innovations

As the bracket of people who have grown up around technology widens, the demand for a contemporary banking service continues to encourage the banking industries to stay on their toes as far as the newest innovations go.

Pierre Vannineuse, CEO and Founder of Alternative Investment firm Alpha Blue Ocean, gives his comments about the future of banking services, saying: “Artificial intelligence is continuing to brew in the background and will no doubt feature prominently in the years to come. With many automated chatbots and virtual assistants already taking most of the customer service roles, we are bound to see a more prominent role of AI in how transactions are processed from all levels.”

Technology may have taken its time to get to where it is now, but the way in which it adapts and updates in the modern era has allowed it to quicken its own pace so that new processes spring up thick and fast. Technology has given us a sense of instant gratification, either in business or in leisure, we want things done now not in day or a week down the line.

BankingCash Management

The importance of teaching financial literacy in school

Finance

The importance of teaching financial literacy in school

Money can be a touchy subject. Many of us feel awkward discussing our finances, but when studies show that three quarters of Britons were worried about their finances in 2018, it becomes clear that we can’t avoid the topic for much longer. Over half of UK adults attribute money worries to mental health issues, and the ever-growing anxiety about money needs to be tackled head-on. The question is, what’s going wrong?

One answer is lack of education. Children rarely receive lessons on budgeting and money management. The sudden responsibility of having to manage their own money often shocks young adults when they become financially independent. Along with Business Rescue Expert, who specialise in company liquidation, we will delve into the importance of financial literacy… 

Why should we teach kids about finances?

Recently, certain financial topics have been added to the national curriculum. These include savings and investments, pensions, mortgages, insurance, and financial products. It’s still a relatively recent introduction to schools, so not all teachers may feel confident in teaching it yet, due to the specialised, complex nature of the topics. There is also the matter of religious differences in the approach to and teaching of these finance lessons. Followers of the Islamic faith are prohibited from using any form of compound interest. This relates to things like conventional mortgages, student loans and car loans, all of which are commonplace in many other cultures.

Because of these factors, there are many difficulties when it comes to making financial literacy universal, understandable. Maths might seem like an obvious place to drop lessons of finance in amongst existing content, but debate is rife as to whether subjects like trigonometry are still deserving for a place on exam papers, when finance lessons could take their place and provide long-lasting life skills.

How are curriculum changing?

Life skills such as finances can be complex to teach in schools. Lessons in finance differ from core subjects like English and Science, as they provide life skills which, if not learned, will be detrimental as kids grow older and enter adult life. One UK primary school created its own bank, to combat ‘below average’ financial literacy learning.

Despite financial literacy being introduced to the national curriculum in England in 2014, not everyone believes that school is the place for financial education. Some believe the duty should be on parents to teach their children the real value of money and how to approach it. It’s worth noting that in private schools, faith schools, and academies, it isn’t a compulsory part of the curriculum, so many youngsters would still miss out on these lessons. A lot of schools who do incorporate it into the school day compartmentalize it into general ‘citizenship’ lessons, but it’s arguable whether enough emphasis is placed on it here.

What has changed in the ‘millennial’ era?

Judging by the results of countless studies, it is evident that millennials have large gaps in their knowledge about finance management. Millennials’ spending patterns stand in stark contrast to their predecessors; they’re keen to splash out on experiences and don’t often take to the idea of big commitment purchases seriously — for example, houses.

Millennial spending habits signify the disparity of their knowledge and attitude towards budgeting — research has found that 60% of these youngsters said they are willing to spend more than £3.11 on a single cup of coffee, while only 29% of baby boomers would splurge for caffeine. A lack of financial literacy in education has undoubtedly played a role in this, with many young people under the illusion that simply earning a lot of money means that you’ll never be in any debt, along with a general unwillingness when it comes to making sacrifices for the sake of budgeting.

One survey found that 42% of teenagers said that they wanted their parents to talk more about finances, and a staggeringly low 32% said that they knew how credit card fees and interest worked. Teenage years are pivotal points for learning, so why is financial literacy being left out?

Hopefully the future will hold the increased popularity of these lessons to remedy this lack of financial literacy. These skills will prove invaluable for youngsters as they progress through life, and they could eventually counteract the stereotype of a financially irresponsible or illiterate millennials.

Hyper short-term investments what are millennials investing in
FinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

Hyper-short-term investments: what are millennials investing in?

Hyper short-term investments what are millennials investing in

Hyper-short-term investments: what are millennials investing in?

Despite the stereotype of the younger generation being frivolous with their money, it seems they are actually one of the savviest generations when it comes to turning a profit on their own. While they are hesitant to invest in stocks, millennials and generation Z are tapping into the hyper-short-term investment of fashion and beauty. For example, there’s a huge market for buying and selling trainers at the moment, or in vintage fashion.

In particular, limited-edition trainers have a huge appeal across the world, with people willing to camp outside of stores to pick up a particularly lucrative pair.


Art flipping

According to Business Insider, rich millennials are snapping up art as financial assets rather than as part of a potential collection — 85 per cent of millennials purchasing artworks say they are aiming to sell in the next year. Buying art with the intention of selling it on quickly is known as art flipping, and it’s something of a controversial subject in the art world. There are some who consider the process of art flipping as a potentially devaluing practice that harms the artist and their work.

The process can also seem more logical than artistic too, as many such purchases are made purely on the work’s monetary value. However, the piece’s social media hype can also spur rich millennials to part with their cash in a hopes of a quick resale profit — Instagram has been highlighted by Adweek as a viable platform for creating social media adoration for artists.


Clothes

One of the reasons why the younger generations are turning more to side-hustles and reselling as forms of investment is that the turnover is incredibly fast thanks to apps like Depop. There are so many stories about how entrepreneurial millennials are sniffing out limited edition items from the most popular brands, such as Supreme, during their famous limited edition ‘drops’, then rapidly reselling them.

Of course, the initial purchase is an investment, with many resellers spending hundreds of pounds or more on such a venture, but the resale of these goods can certainly turn a profit. It also taps effectively into the Instagram world we’re living in too. Sellers often combine their shop platforms with their social media accounts to merge both modelling and selling the items.


Shoes

The most sought-after trainers tend to be either limited edition or classic trainers for that much-loved vintage style. People are willing to set up camp outside a store before a particularly hyped drop of limited-edition trainers, in order to grab them at retail price, then sell it on for much higher prices. Some might seek to resell the items quickly, but there’s certainly a case to be made for popping a brand new pair of limited edition trainers away for a few years before reselling in hopes that their much-hyped status will only increase that price tag as the years roll on.

Arguably the biggest market in reselling is that of sneakers and trainers. Much like clothing, the main draw here is in limited edition shoes — but the sneakerhead culture is not anything new. In fact, it began nearly 30 years ago, though it’s enjoyed a huge resurgence in the last few years.

 
Sources:

https://www.sofi.com/blog/millennial-investing-trends/

https://www.adweek.com/digital/influencing-the-art-market-millennial-collectors-social-media-and-ecommerce/

https://www.businessinsider.com/rich-millennials-investing-art-flipping-build-wealth-2019-4?r=US&IR=T

https://www.standard.co.uk/fashion/should-you-be-investing-in-sneakers-a4014486.html

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/oct/23/teens-selling-online-depop-ebay

banking online
Banking

A machine learning balancing act: Payments, customer experience, fraud detection

By Manuel Rodriguez, Fraud Solutions Manager at SAS

The range of potential payment services has expanded rapidly over the last few years. Increasingly, we all want the flexibility of being able to pay with new payment methods, from contactless through to Apple Pay, mobile wallets and beyond. Digital natives, such as millennials, don’t just want this – they expect it. For banks, however, this demand for flexibility is a headache.

 

Banks and other financial institutions know that they have to adopt new payment methods to meet customer demand for convenience and flexibility. However, they also know that these new payment systems leave them open to new forms of fraud. The big question is how can they adapt to these new fraud types – to protect both themselves and customers – without creating poor customer experiences through large numbers of false positives?

 

Understanding payment fraud

There is no question that payment fraud has changed over the last few years. A few years ago, card fraud, from cloning cards, was a leading form of fraud. However, the use of card processing terminals that use Europay-Visa-Mastercard (EMV) technology has reduced this considerably. This technology – the gold standard for credit cards, using computer chips to authenticate and secure transactions – has been the norm in Europe for a while. Its use is now spreading to the US.

 

Card fraud has therefore migrated to “card not present” transactions, such as online purchases. Payment fraud is driven and supported by several risks, including data breaches at retailers, credit agencies and banks, and use of malware to obtain access to accounts. It is also, however, helped by moves towards faster payments, driven by both regulators and the industry. These are good for customers, but they also good for fraudsters. The faster it is to get funds or goods through fraudulent transactions, the less time banks have to detect the fraud.

 

Fraudsters always ahead

 

Fraudsters are faster and more adept than ever before. The issue for banks and other financial institutions is to recognise that fraudsters will always be ahead but to take action to address that. Fraud detection systems need to keep up, and there is little time for long-drawn-out checks. However, there is a catch. Fraud-prevention systems need to avoid too many false positives. Up to 10% of rejected orders are actually believed to be valid. In total, in one survey, 37% of merchants said that turning away good customers was a top concern.

 

New regulations are adding challenges. Instant Payments or Payments Services Directive 2 (PSD2) are enforcing new rules, needs and requirements. We need to fit into payment processes thresholds and other aspects to make payments faster, more available and smoother. On the other side, we need to apply proper security, customer authentication and risk-based approaches to monitor payments in a more complex environment involving banks and third-party providers.

 

Systems to catch fraud

 

There are many actions that banks can take to protect themselves and their customers from fraud. First, they must look at their systems, ensure they are connected and remove any silos. Disconnected systems are vulnerable to compromise.

 

Banks also have to move from rules-based to machine learning analytics systems for fraud detection. This approach gives them the chance to identify suspicious patterns and anomalies much faster, which is essential as more and more real-time payments systems come online. Real-time scoring and decision making should drive new systems, which should also take into account new forms of data, such as device fingerprints and information phone call routing.

 

Machine learning techniques include neural networks, regression techniques, decision trees, naïve Bayesian methods, clustering and network analysis. These approaches are particularly useful to detect rare payments fraud events hidden in big data sets. Machine learning tools can understand and learn from this type of data, and they can adapt to the changing behaviours associated with fraud through automated behavioural profiling and signatures.

 

They can automate models to find hidden insights without having to be programmed directly. This means that banks have some chance of keeping up with fraudsters. Machine learning techniques can also reduce the false positive rate by learning the behaviour of individual customers over time so that normal behaviour for an individual does not raise alerts.

 

With multiple analytics techniques available, banks can better detect fraud behaviours. But they can also monitor legitimate behaviour to provide enriched answers to business needs, different requirements and new regulations.

 

End-to-end and across channels

Ultimately, payment fraud detection systems have to be able to look at payment processes from end to end and also across channels. Gartner identifies five layers: entity link, cross-channel-centric, channel-centric, navigation-centric and end-point-centric. By looking across all five of these layers and drawing data from all points, machine learning systems can draw a complete picture of the transaction in the context of the customer.

 

This combination of rules-based and analytical techniques can monitor user behaviour with considerable accuracy and speed. It can, therefore, identify normal and unusual patterns very fast, even in real time. This makes it much harder for fraudsters to find gaps and loopholes, and easier to identify potential fraud accurately. It is essential for banks to move in this direction to protect themselves and their customers from payment fraud.

mobile bank fraud
BankingFinance

Mobile financial attacks rise by 107%

According to a recent report by Kaspersky, the number of mobile financial attacks it detected in the first half of the year rose by 107%, rising to 3,730,378. Analysts at the company said they discovered 3.7 million mobile financial attacks from January to June this year and found 438,709 unique users attacked by mobile Trojan bankers.

In the first half of 2019, attackers actively used the names of the largest financial services and banking organisations to attack mobile platform users. Researchers found 438,709 unique users attacked by mobile Trojan bankers. For comparison, in the first half of 2018, the number of attacked users was 569,057, a decrease of 23 per cent

Findings by Kaspersky showed the activity of a bank Trojan called Asacub banker, which attacked an average of 40,000 people per day, peaked rapidly in the second half of 2018 and reduced in half year 2019. The number of attacked users and detected attacks peaked rapidly in the second half of 2018; 1,333,410 users were attacked and there were 10,256,935 attacks.

The cybersecurity firm identified another malware, Anubis Trojan, which intercept data for access to services of large financial organisations and two-factor authentication data in order to extort money from users. The firm described the banking Trojan as one that spreads via instant e-messaging apps such as WhatsApp and sends a link to the victim’s contact list.

Lisa Baergen, director at NuData Security, a Mastercard company comments:

“Mobile banking fraud is easy to miss for consumers as Trojans are well hidden inside other legitimate-seeming applications or attachments. Once inside the customer’s phone, they can roam free to steal banking information or account assets.

With this increase on attacks through banking Trojans, it is hard for financial institutions to know if a legitimate user is making a transaction or someone else is hijacking the account. To avoid this growing type fraud many companies are including security layers that can see beyond credentials and passwords: passive biometrics.

Adding passive biometrics technology, banks are able to detect unusual behavior within an account, even if the right device is used. By having this visibility into the user’s behavior, banks can block or authenticate a user further when they detect unusual activity, thwarting account hijacking.

Building a holistic risk-based authentication infrastructure for user verification is proving effective in thwarting bad actors armed with stolen credentials or executing account hijacking. Many companies are now combining different layers of identification such as device, connection, and passive biometrics to power a dynamic and intelligent authentication system. This multi-layered security ensures a frictionless experience for customers while seamlessly eliminating fraudulent transactions.”

Bank tech
Banking

Over 50% of banks and telcos flying blind into cloud migration

CAST, a leader in Software Intelligence, today released its annual global cloud migration report. The report analyzes application modernization priorities in financial and telecommunications firms.

Findings show critical missteps mean cloud migrations are falling short of expectations in mature institutions, just 40% meeting targets for cost, resiliency and planned user benefits. Lack of pre-migration intelligence and fear of modernizing legacy mainframe applications are the main drivers for these shortcomings. Adoption of microservices as a modernization technique is also faltering from lack of financing.

While these legacy process institutions realise only third of their target benefits for cloud migration, cloud-native approaches are enabling FinTech firms to outperform traditional banks, achieving more than half their target benefits.

Fewer than 35% of technology leaders use freely-available analysis tools. There is a systematic failure to assess the underlying application readiness for cloud migration with Software Intelligence, a deep analysis of software architecture. IT leaders must ensure the right architectural model and compliance is in place to avoid increasing technical debt. Unchecked, this leads to more IT meltdowns such as TSB’s £330m re-platforming crisis in 2018, with customers paying the expensive price for these mistakes.

More than 50% of banks and telcos are effectively taking leaps of faith, not undertaking essential analysis-led evaluations to support and facilitate cloud migrations. Instead, half the CTOs surveyed use gut instinct and ad-hoc surveys with application owners as the primary basis of their decision to move applications to the cloud. IT leaders need to adopt an analysis-led approach over gut instinct to implement the right cloud migration strategy and realise all potential benefits of migrating to the cloud.

Greg Rivera, VP CAST Highlight at CAST, commented on the findings, “Pilots going into storms turn to their instruments. If you run headfirst into a cloud migration without objectively assessing your applications, you’re flying in the dark.

Even one small change to an application has a ‘butterfly effect’ on the rest of the code set, so a disruption as big as cloud migration has detrimental effects including IT outages and loss of business. Migration to the cloud is vital when digitally transforming a business. But, it needs to be done right if organizations want success instead of suffering.”

More than 40% of software leaders are yet to define a class based approach to application modernization. Heavily legacy process firms tend to rehost apps, while rehosting, or so-called ‘lift-and-shift’, benefits apps with up to three years before end of life. However, existing and continuously evolving apps should be re-platformed and restructured during cloud migration. To successfully complete migration first gather intelligence and actively assess applications objectively.

Armed with battle scars software leaders at banks and insurance firms are revisiting their initial ‘lift-and-shift’ approach to cloud migration plans. While FinTech firms outperform mature institutions on cloud-native apps, banks lead the way on cloud-ready applications with just fewer than 50% rewriting applications. A European Chief Digital Architect said, “Cloud migration is only really a problem if you’re moving workloads without changing the way they are shaped.”

Santander
Banking

SANTANDER CONSUMER FINANCE LAUNCHES ONLINE APPLICATIONS

  • Online loan application launch expands digital support for dealers

Santander Consumer Finance (SCF) is set to launch its online loan application platform with e-sign capability in a significant expansion of its support for dealers.

 

Selected dealers have started testing the system which will be rolled out across the country within the next month for partners already using Santander Consumer Finance’s free online finance calculator.

 

The new system is integrated into the dealer’s website and customers will be able to source a finance quote on the calculator before applying in Santander Consumer Finance’s secure online platform. Installation takes minutes for dealers who already have the calculator and Santander Consumer Finance will support dealers to help them make the most effective use of the digital proposition.

 

Customers receive a real-time decision on their selected product and accepted customers can then choose to sign their documentation at home or at the dealership. The system is designed to provide a simple, fair and personal experience for car buyers.

 

It builds on the success of Santander Consumer Finance’s partnership with Volvo Car UK launched in April enabling customers to configure and order their car and sign a finance agreement online.

 

Stewart Grant, Santander Consumer Finance Commercial Director said: “This is a significant step in our digital marketing strategy and underlines our commitment to supporting our dealer network in maximising sales and profitability within the growing digital market.

 

“It is a huge achievement for the teams involved at Santander Consumer Finance to be able to launch two Online Application systems in less than four months and within a year since the project was first planned.”

 

Dealers interested in using the calculator or wishing to register interest in the Online Application platform should contact their Business Development Manager or visit www.santanderconsumer.co.uk/dealer

 

Santander Consumer Finance, headquartered in Redhill, Surrey, employs 600 staff and is the UK’s leading independent finance company with over 500,000 live customer agreements in place.

accountancy hack
BankingFinanceFunds

Hackers set their sights on accountancy firms – 7 steps to minimize risk

Accountancy practices are facing an increase in cyber risks as criminals switch their focus to ‘softer target’ smaller firms. Joe Collinwood, CEO at CySure explains why accountancy firms are targets for hackers and what steps they can take to minimize their exposure.

When it comes to cyber crime, small accountancy practices are not exempt from the disruption that affects large organizations. If anything, their size makes them more vulnerable as they are perceived as a softer target. In the USA for example there has been an explosion in fraudulent W-2 filings and in the UK with more filings now on-line risk is increasing. So why are accountants being targeted?

• They hold large amounts of private data
• They have the information cyber criminals want – corporate financial data, social security numbers, Tax IDs, bank accounts, payroll data, identification data for validation and reporting purposes
• Accounting firms use similar software so if a criminal finds a vulnerability that can be exploited they have lots of potential victims
• Typically there is inadequate technical protection, policies and procedures that leave firms wide open to a cyber attack
• A lack of incident response and business continuity procedures means accountants are more likely to pay a cyber criminal money because they fear they may not be able to recover from an attack and the firm’s reputation will be tarnished.

Many accountancy firms are making it easier for hackers by underestimating the threat they face from cyber attacks. There were 438 (i) separate data security incidents reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in Q2 2018/2019 alone in the finance, insurance and credit sector. The cost to launch cyber attacks is negligible and the most likely method of breach is phishing i.e. human error. It’s time to think again.

Gateway to Information
Self-employed accountants and accountancy practices are on the radar of cyber criminals because of the amount of valuable data they hold. Firms collect and store highly desirable data and information on clients. This information enables hackers to pull off complex frauds at a later date. The more information they have, the better a picture they can build of the small business or person whose bank account they intend to target.
Cyber criminals view accountancy firms as a “gateway” to client information and are perceived as a soft target with few security barriers, limited cyber security tools and little or no in-house expertise. Additionally, as many firms use the same software systems, hackers are motivated to seek vulnerabilities in the software knowing there will be a substantial pay day by exploiting the weakness to attack multiple businesses.

Small but not safe
According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018 (ii), 42% of small businesses identified at least one breach or attack in the last 12 months. Depending on the severity of the attack, SMEs can suffer more disruption than their larger counterparts as they lack the processes and cyber expertise to deal with the ramifications of an attack. The impact to business operations and the inability for staff to carry out their day to day work can have longer term consequences, not only for an accountancy practice itself but also for its clients.

Minimize Risk – 7 simple steps to cyber resilience
No business is too small to be attacked, however with the right approach to security, no business is too small to protect itself. Accountancy firms can pave the way to cyber resilience by following these top cyber-security tips:
• Invest in effective firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware solutions and ensure any updates and patches are applied regularly, ensuring that criminals cannot exploit old faults or systems
• Ensure business critical data, such as customer data and financial information, on all company assets is securely backed up and can be restored at speed
• Have simple, clear policies in place to create a cyber-conscious culture in the workplace and ensure it is communicated to all personnel so they are familiar with it
• Have regular awareness training so that employees are constantly reminded of potential scams or tactics that can be used to trick them
• Review contracts and policies with suppliers to ensure they have an accredited standard for cyber-security for themselves and their partners to protect the supply chain
• Have an up-to-date incident response plan that is practiced regularly so that employees know what to do when they suspect there is an attempted breach or if an actual incident occurs
• Consider investing in cyber insurance to cover the exposure of data privacy and security. Accountancy firms should research insurance policies carefully to understand the level of coverage offered and their responsibilities to stay within the conditions of the policy.

Where to start and what to do now
Cyber security need not be complex or prohibitively expensive, in the UK Cyber Essentials (CE) is a government and industry backed scheme specifically designed to help organisations protect themselves against common cyber-attacks. In collaboration with Information Assurance for Small and Medium Enterprises (IAMSE) they have set out basic technical controls for organisations to use which is annually assessed. In the US the National Institute Standards and Technology (NIST) framework guides organizations through complex, emerging safety producers and protocols.

By utilising an online information security management system (ISMS) that incorporates Cyber Essentials and NIST, accountancy firms can undertake a certification route guided by a virtual online security officer (VOSO) as part of their wider cyber security measures. This will help the organization to coordinate all security practices in one place, consistently and cost-effectively. Additionally, firms can take advantage of the expertise of online cyber security consultants at a fraction of the cost of a full-time in-house security specialist.

Demonstrating confidence to the client base
Cyber security certification has many benefits; it ensures standardization and is a good differentiator for accountancy firms as it shows a diligence to information security. By giving cyber security the same priority as other business goals, accountancy firms can proudly display their security credentials and demonstrate trust and confidence to their client base.

Joe Collinwood is CEO of CySure

Banking

Capital on Tap Announces New Partnership With Marqeta, Pairing Industry-Leading Business Credit Card With Best-In-Class Card Issuing Platform

Capital on Tap will turn to Marqeta’s modern card issuing platform to power its card offering, used by UK small businesses to better access capital.

Capital on Tap, one of the UK’s fastest growing companies, announced today that it is partnering with Marqeta, the leading global modern card issuing platform, to power payment processing for its small business credit card, relied on by over 60,000 UK enterprises.

As part of this new agreement, all of Capital on Tap’s users will be provided with a new, Marqeta-powered card. Since its launch in 2012, Capital on Tap has competed with the offering of major banks, by offering small businesses a faster and more transparent way to fund their business. Capital on Tap has already provided close to £1 billion in funding to more than 60,000 small businesses across the UK.

“Capital on Tap have shown themselves to be true innovators in the UK fintech space, taking an underserved market like credit for small businesses and building a product that can make a real difference for their customers,” said Ian Johnson, Head of European Growth at Marqeta. “They’re the very example of a European fintech innovator that the Marqeta platform was designed to empower, providing an agile and scalable platform that allows them to focus on what they do best, creating a top shelf product with a memorable user experience.”  

Founded in Oakland, California in 2010, the Marqeta platform is used by the world’s leading innovators to drive new modes of commerce through modern card issuing. Marqeta’s European Digital Banking solution supports instantly issued virtual cards and offers advanced spend controls to engage users and grow card use. Marqeta’s platform and its feature-rich APIs are highly configurable and scalable, and allow Marqeta partners to access actionable, real-time transaction data to drive program improvements.

“We’re excited to partner with Marqeta. We loved the transparency and simplicity of their technology and how future focused and innovative their open-API platform is,” said David Luck, co-founder and CEO of Capital on Tap. “We felt a really close DNA fit with them and how they’re looking to constantly evolve and build on their tech. They showed an intuitive understanding in how they could support our mission to help small businesses thrive through better access to working capital.”

Banking

A Paragon in Commercial Banking in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Azizi Bank has swiftly become one of Afghanistan’s largest commercial banks with a presence across 31 of the country’s 34 provinces. From the outset, the bank has sought to become a stalwart on the global financial market, driving technological innovation in the sphere. On the back of this approach, Azizi Bank was named the ‘Best Commercial Bank’ in Wealth & Finance International’s 2019 Global Business Excellence programme. Following this deserved success, Dr. (Prof) Mohammad Salem Omaid, CEO of Azizi Bank, was interviewed to find out more about the bank’s mission, vision and how it aligned itself with the highest international standards of corporate governance, social responsibility and customer relations.

The global financial landscape is changing dramatically, evolving on the back of technological development, and expansive regulation. On a similar front, working in tandem with this churning paradigm shift, is the effect that changing consumer behaviours are having on an industry that was- for the most part at least – in charge of its own course. As banking turns to more digital fronts, it is having to adapt to the needs of the people that utilise its services. Many long-standing establishments have become defined, as a result, by resistance, as they cling to the practices of yesteryear.

This has led to a rise in so-called ‘Challenger Banks’ who have adopted an innovative outlook to capitalise on the market’s new customer-centric ethos. But what happens when a more traditional brick and mortar bank follows this path? And, more appropriately, how has Azizi Bank in particular become a paragon on the field, reaping the rewards where their peers and competitors have floundered? Dr Omaid explains more. 

“This institution is the outcome of the professional and entrepreneurial commitment of its founder, Mr. Merwais Azizi, and its top management team to establish a high-quality, customer-centric, servicedriven, private Afghan Bank catering entirely to the future businesses of the country. Having formed in 2006, the bank today has more than eighty branches and more than 100 ATMs and, along with its 100% subsidiary bank The Islamic Bank of Afghanistan, has the highest network of branches and ATMs in the country.

“The vision of the bank is to evolve into a professionally managed technologically advanced bank with world-class cost-effective products and services, following the best international practices and contributing to the national economy and adding value to its stakeholders. Its mission is to provide excellent professional services with the usage of the latest technology with an eye on a sustained corporate social responsibility and maintain its commitment towards all its customers, staff, shareholders and stakeholders.”

Ultimately, Azizi Bank has thrived through a dedication to its five founding values: Operational Excellence, Customer Focus, Product Leadership, People and Sustainability. More impressively, the bank has secured sustained growth year on year despite substantial challenges in the country, acting as testament to the strength of their offerings and ethos. “Azizi Bank’s key clients includes retail and corporate bodies, trade finance and remittance businesses. Afghanistan is an import-driven economy with more than 90% of the goods imported into the country. It is also an USD driven economy. Afghanistan is also a challenging economy, with its own political challenges over the last two decades and beyond. 

The country was under the FATF sanctions until June 2017 where it was barred from having any USD inter-bank cooperation with banks around the world. This issue of USD Nostro is still a big challenge in the country with most of the banks.” Dr Omaid continues, moving on to discuss the importance of client service to the bank’s ongoing development and operations. “Azizi Bank ensures prima facie importance on customer service. It believes this important aspect as the most important factor of its sustained growth. The bank ensures regular training of its employees to guarantee exceptional customer service. Classes and training programs on the various aspects of customer service are held regularly in the training room of the bank. Employees are also sent to attend international training programs on customer relations and effective service. Regular monitoring of the same is done by the head office official and specially incorporated customer service cell in the bank.”

To make sure that the bank remains in-line with the needs of their customers, Azizi Bank regularly conducts market research, as Dr Omaid sheds more light on their efforts. “Azizi Bank is dedicated to conducting comprehensive market research to understand customer requirements. Afghanistan is a niche country in terms of new banking indicatives as only 10-11% of the people are banking, as per the Central Bank’s report, and Afghanistan is an Islamic nation. This opens up the opportunity to create products as per the requirement. This is the reason why Azizi Bank converted its 100% subsidiary bank into a full-fledged Islamic bank. Additionally, more than 70% of the population in the country are mobile savvy, and this is the reason why Azizi Bank have developed mobilebased technologies to bring more and more customers into the banking fray.” 

The conversation soon turns to things of a more corporate nature: namely, governance policies and the crucial role that they play in outlining the bank’s goals and future. “Azizi Bank ensures responsible and value-driven management practices are adhered to throughout its system of corporate governance, which is built on key elements of discipline, transparency, independence and fairness. As it strengthens its presence, Azizi Bank continues to review compliance, risk management skills, systems & processes and – where appropriate- it aims to enhance these further. The commitment applies to Azizi Bank’s relationship with its shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, regulators and the community in which it operates.”

Here Dr Omaid takes a moment to discuss each of Azizi Bank’s core characteristics in more detail. “In relation to discipline, we ensure that all employees and senior management members are committed to adhering to procedures, processes and hierarchies established by the bank. These are recognised and deemed to be correct and proper. Transparency remains critically important and mentioned in almost every policy. All actions implemented and the procedures that led to them are always available for inspection by authorised entities and stakeholders. 

“Similarly, mechanisms and regulations have been put in place to minimise or entirely avoid potential conflicts of interests such as undue dominance by the Chairman, Chief Executive or other shareholders. This mechanism ranges from the composition of the board to committee appointments and involve external parties such as auditors. Azizi Bank remains committed to independence. Moreover, Azizi Bank believes that responsible management would, whenever necessary, take appropriate actions to set and keep the bank on the right path. Whilst the board is accountable to the bank, it must act responsively to and with the responsibility towards all stakeholders. The individuals and committees who make decisions and take actions are truly help accountable for those decision and actions. Lastly, Azizi Bank believes in ‘fairness’, and each of the bank’s systems are balanced and take into account all those who have an interest in the bank and its future. The rights of the various groups involved have to be acknowledge and respected.” 

Dr. Omaid also spoke about their strategic plan, which details the banks goals through 2022. He reiterated that strategic planning is the process of determining the organization’s long term objectives and establishing the goals necessary to achieve them. The process involves in-depth analysis of current and anticipated conditions that may affect the organization’s ability to achieve the mission. 

Finally, it would be remiss to not mention Azizi Bank’s considerable efforts in the area of corporate social responsibility over the last few years. In his closing comments, Dr Omaid details some of the bank’s more recent and significant ventures. “Azizi Bank has taken a strong lead in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives by providing aid and financial assistance to local educational institutions which include schools, colleges, universities and NGOs. The bank has also engaged itself with relevant ministries in supporting female empowerment, cultural enhancement and environmental sustainability initiatives. Recently the bank involved itself with the municipality to see a Greener Afghanistan and planted trees across the country. 


“Azizi Bank planted more than 10,000 trees in Kabul and other provincial locations as part of this campaign. We provided financial assistance to the Ministry of Women Affairs for the treatment of breast cancer on International Women’s Day. Furthermore, the bank is working in association with the Ministry to sponsor the event, “Empowering Afghan Through Access to Financial Services, alongside financing for the creation of job opportunities for women. In coordination with the National Blood Bank, Kabul organised blood donation campaigns at the head office. More than 100,000 ccs of blood were collected during the campaign. Lastly, Azizi Bank is promoting child education in the country, and encouraging initiatives to stop food wastes and other environmental sustainability initiatives like Save Water, Clean Air, Avoid Pollution etc.”

 

“Azizi Bank continues to review compliance, risk management skills, systems & processes and – where appropriate- it aims to enhance these further. The commitment applies to Azizi Bank’s relationship with its shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, regulators and the community in which it operates.”
azizi bank design-01
“Empowering Afghan Through Access to Financial Services, alongside financing for the creation of job opportunities for women. In coordination with the National Blood Bank, Kabul organised blood donation campaigns at the head office.”

Company: Azizi Bank

Name: Dr. (Prof) Mohammad Salem Omaid

Designation: President and Chief Executive Officer

Addl. Titles:

(a) Chairman – The Afghanistan Banking Association

(b) Chairman – The International Chamber of Commerce, Banking Commission, Afghanistan

(c) Member- Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, United Kingdom, Europe Business Assembly

(d) Member – The World Confederation of Businesses (World COB), United States of America

(e) Honorary Professor of the Academic Union, Oxford, United Kingdom

Banking

Belize : The ‘Next Big Thing’ in Offshore Banking

When it comes to offshore banking solutions, would-be clients can certainly feel overwhelmed with the plethora of choices available. Yet, over the last couple of years, Belize has become a go-to for many investors looking for security, stability and new investment opportunities. Here, Luigi Wewege, Senior Vice President of Caye International Bank, writes on the unique benefits that Belize has to offer, and how it has become the region of choice for savvy investors from all over the world. Caye International Bank was recently recognised by Wealth & Finance INTL as the ‘Best Offshore Private Bank in Latin America’ in the 2019 Banking Excellence Awards.

Offshore banking has long been a popular option for those that want to secure their financial future, whether that be for the dream retirement or, more simply, to ensure that their liquid savings are safe and secure in the hands of expert financial establishments. 

When you bring up the idea of offshore banking, it’s not unusual to get a dozen different opinions about where the best tax haven is or where banks are most eager to get foreign investors. Look beyond all the noise and you’ll find that Belize is consistently chosen by savvy investors for offshore banking. Clearly, Belize has a lot to offer those interested in the financial side of the equation. 

Ease of Banking in Belize 

Something that can’t be ignored is the ease of managing an offshore bank account in Belize. Some people are worried about offshore banking because they don’t know what to expect, or they are worried about it being difficult or inconvenient. In reality, that misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. 

To start, the official language of Belize is English. Although you might hear Spanish or even Creole spoken on the beach, financial professionals all have a complete and fluent command of English. Whether you’re signing a contract or reading the terms of a new account, it will be in English. You won’t need a translator, nor will you have to pay to have English documents translated. In short, there is no need to be concerned about a language barrier at any point.
Another reason that banking in Belize is so convenient is the time zone. Belize is located in the Central Standard Time Zone (CST). That means it is the same time on Ambergris Caye, Belize, as it is in Chicago. Some people are concerned that offshore banking means getting on the phone in the middle of the night with banking staff, but that’s not the case in Belize. Banks operate during normal office hours, which just so happen to coincide perfectly with most North American hours of business. 

Of course, you may not want to communicate over the phone about your offshore banking needs at all. Fortunately, the convenience of banking in Belize also extends to online banking services. As long as you have access to an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can transfer money or check your account balances with the click of a button.

CIB staff in from of bank headquarters - San Pedro, Belize (2)

Diversification is Key

People delve into offshore banking for varied reasons. However, one of the most common is to diversify financial holdings. A basic tenet of Economics 101 is that in order to reduce risk, you need to diversify. Many people diversify but continue to maintain their holdings within a single country’s jurisdiction. Ultimately, true diversification also includes geographic diversification. Although Belize offers a chance to invest in a new geographic location, it also offers all the things you expect in a secure financial environment. This allows for diversification without the stress of learning a new banking system or even a new legal system. Belize operates according to common-law systems similar to those you find in Britain, the United States, or Canada. 

Unparalleled Asset Protection and Privacy In decades past, certain nations held a monopoly on banking privacy and anonymity. As those destinations received more and more publicity, however, banking clients actually received more scrutiny, not less. In Belize, banks still operate in a way that grants account holders and businesses financial privacy as well as asset protection. This doesn’t mean that you can open a bank account anonymously or avoid taxation in your home country. What it does mean is that once your assets are placed in a bank account in Belize, those assets are far more secure than they would be elsewhere. If you face lawsuits or the freezing of your assets in the future, your accounts in Belize will remain secure. Plus, those who operate businesses within Belize can protect the identities of board members or shareholders if desired. 

Reputable Banking Systems 

If you choose to bank offshore in Belize, then it makes sense to bank with an institution that is established, financially solvent, and is recognized for its banking excellence. When selecting a bank, ensure it is compliant with necessary regulations and is licensed to provide international banking services to both corporations and individuals. Caye International Bank certainly fits this criteria. 

Discover Banking in Belize 

Clearly, plenty of investors around the world appreciate what Belize has to offer and choose this location to assist in asset diversification. When looking for the best locations for offshore banking and investing, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any more favourable than Belize.

Company: Caye International Bank 

Address: San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize, Central America 

Website: www.cayebank.bz 

Telephone: +501-226-2388 or +501-226-3083

WeSwap
Cash ManagementFunds

WORLD’S FIRST P2P CURRENCY EXCHANGE PLATFORM WESWAP HITS 500,000 USERS, LAUNCHES £2.3M FUNDRAISE

This morning, WeSwap, the award-winning peer-to-peer currency exchange platform, announces that in tandem with the launch of a £2.3 million funding round on leading investment platform Seedrs, it has hit 500,000 users. This raise will support the Series B investment round led by IW Capital, WeSwap’s lead investor, who has invested an additional £3.7 million in the travel money start-up, including £1.7 million of equity in this round.
 
Today’s news follows the company hitting a staggering £250 million in global currency traded on the platform since its launch in 2015, making the company the first peer-to-peer travel money fintech in the UK to do so. With award wins including Best Travel Money Provider at the 2018 and 2019 British Bank Awards, the fintech front runner has firmly cemented its role as one of the UK’s leading case studies for scale-up growth, fortifying a loyal and ever-expanding user base whilst maintaining the edge on product innovation and user experience.
 
WeSwap continues to hit remarkable milestones since its launch – presently, the currency exchange platform has over 30 travel industry partnerships, as well as booking flow integrations with online travel partners and numerous innovative travel-money products including:
 

  • A WeSwap pre-paid travel card
  • Card payments and withdrawals in over 195 countries and territories
  • Rate tracker
  • Smart Swap (where a user can pre-select an exchange rate at which they would like to execute a currency exchange)
  • Next day Travel Cash delivery
  • Buyback service

 
This is WeSwap’s third raise on Seedrs, having previously attracted over £3.5m from 3,868 investors.
 
Jared Jesner, CEO and Founder of WeSwap commented: “We have an incredibly loyal and engaged user base, something we’re truly proud of and will continue to honour with a great service. We are delighted to open up this latest round of funding, supplementing a series of debt, equity and private investment routes that have aided us in achieving some great milestones that we’re really proud of. This latest round will allow us to launch a range of new WeSwap product innovations and expand into Asia.”
 
For more information, please visit: www.seedrs.com/weswap3

Banking

Fast-tracking the evolution of banking with AI

By Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence Solutions at SAS UK & Ireland

How intelligent decisioning solutions can help you stay relevant in the era of digital banking

Fierce competition, advances in technology, and consumer expectations for hyperpersonalised services are forcing the financial services sector to evolve. To adapt to rapid market developments, many banks and insurers are launching ambitious digital transformation projects. But do they actually deliver results?

The short answer: not often. In a recent study, McKinsey & Company found that fewer than one-third of organisational transformations succeed at improving a company’s performance, and a staggering 70% of large-scale change programmes don’t reach their stated goals. That’s a lot of effort and upheaval for very little reward. So what can we learn from this unsettling trend?

Common pitfalls

Every business and digital transformation strategy is unique, but there are four avoidable mistakes that financial services companies repeatedly make when approaching digital transformation:

  1. Misunderstanding the challenge

Whilst almost every financial institution has some kind of digital transformation strategy in play, many are focused on the technical aspects of digitisation and adapting to new channels and tools.

For example, many business leaders believe that digital transformation is mainly about replacing manual processes with automated workflows. That’s why there has been a rush to invest in robotic process automation (RPA) across the big banks and insurance players.

However, while automation can play an important role at the implementation stage, digital transformation is much more about reimagining traditional business models to succeed in new, fast-changing digital economies. In a banking context, that means redefining products and services to reflect the realities of a market where the customer is king.

  1. Pursuing disjointed initiatives

When rolling out digital transformation projects, banks often focus on innovation in individual functions or departments without considering how changes on one side of their business will affect other areas.

That’s a problem because banks have traditionally been structured along vertical product lines such as current accounts, savings, mortgages and credit cards, and horizontal business functions such as marketing, technology and finance. As a result, change programmes inevitably get stuck in the interdepartmental crossfire.

Instead, digital transformation initiatives must seek to disrupt the complex legacy operating model of the traditional bank and replace it with a more holistic, customer-focused approach.

  1. Making data unreachable

The letter “d” in digital transformation should stand for data. Without the ability to collect, store and access data, and the tools to refine it into actionable insights, banks won’t be able to leap ahead of their competitors.

For example, in an effort to serve business units with fast access to key information, many banks have established centralised data lakes. While this approach succeeds in eliminating individual data silos, it often ends up replacing them with a single large silo that is equally inaccessible.

Placing all data under the stringent governance of the IT department can make it very difficult for other business units to access and analyse time-sensitive data quickly. This can limit the value of insights and diminish the return on investment for large-scale change initiatives.

  1. Enabling cultures of resistance

The most challenging aspect of transforming any business is inspiring its employees to become advocates for change. Inertia, doubt and cynicism from people within the bank can stop transformation initiatives dead in their tracks.

That’s why setting a clear vision for change and encouraging employees to experiment with new ways of working is essential for banks to achieve a smooth adoption of new technologies and processes.

Shopping for success

In designing successful transformation initiatives, banks and other financial institutions can learn a lot from companies in other sectors that have harnessed analytics to avoid falling foul of these common pitfalls.

Take Shop Direct, which is not only the parent company of retail brands such as Very and Littlewoods, but also one of the UK’s largest nonbank lenders. While the company had thrived for many years on its traditional catalogue-based sales model, it realised that the future was not in paper. To pivot the business and remain relevant, it had to establish an online presence – and fast.

Shop Direct knew that moving its retail and financial services businesses over to an online-focused operating model would not be easy, but it had a secret weapon: vast amounts of data on customer buying habits, sales information and inventory records.

Within 12 months, Shop Direct built a solution based on intelligent decisioning software from SAS that was capable of mining useful insights from more than two years of data of customer interactions. By combining historical data with real-time context such as browsing behaviour, the company can now make instant decisions to tailor the user experience for each customer: personalised sort orders, personalised recommendations and real-time credit risk decisions.

Intelligent decisioning in banking

Similarities between the challenge faced by Shop Direct and the current ambitions of traditional banks are striking. Banks face an urgent need to reinvent their traditional business models for the digital world. Moreover, banks also possess huge volumes of customer data that they can analyse to find valuable insights about how to enhance existing services and develop new products.

AI and machine learning technologies have the potential to help traditional banks transform – but analytics on its own is not enough. Banks need to harness the insights generated by analytics to automate decisions at scale.

This means basing analysis not just on departmental data sets, but on all the information the bank possesses. It needs to include both historical transactional records and live data streams that provide immediate context on customers’ behaviour and actions. Furthermore, the analytics needs to take place in real time and drive automated actions to respond to immediate customer needs in order to truly affect the customer journey.

Banking the Unbanked - Wealth & Finance Interational
BankingCash Management

Banking the Unbanked

Banking the Unbanked

  • About 75% of adults earning less than $2 a day don’t have a bank account
  • More than 2.5 billion people around the world don’t have a bank account
  • The poor face bureaucratic, travel distance and cost barriers

Millions of people around the globe lack power, credit and internet which result in them being unbanked. Being unbanked means not having access to the services of a bank or similar financial organization.The challenges are manifold; from not being able to receive deposits from an employer, to no credit history and being excluded from lending, to lacking the ability to safely save money or transfer money.

In 2014 there were 2 billion unbanked people. Account ownership is almost universal in high-income economies, hence, all unbanked adults live in developing economies. China and India, despite having relatively high account ownership, claim large shares of the global unbanked population because of their size. 225 million adults living there are without an account. China has the world’s largest unbanked population, followed by India (190 million), Pakistan (100 million), and Indonesia (95 million).

 

What are the challenges in banking the poor?

Three quarters of the world’s population, living in poverty, are unbanked. This is not just because of poverty, but also due to the cost, travel distance and amount of paperwork involved in opening an account. Our bank account number is almost as intrinsic to our identity as name and date of birth. Getting a job, renting a house and having an internet connection at home would be nearly impossible without some sort of financial inclusion.

Yet today the unbanked population stands at a staggering 1.7 billion globally, according to data released by the World Bank.

“Providing financial services to the 2.5 billion people who are ‘unbanked’ could boost economic growth and opportunity for the world’s poor,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “Harnessing the power of financial services can really help people to pay for schooling, save for a home, or start a small business that can provide jobs for others. This new report on the world’s ‘unbanked’ makes the case: the more poor people are banking today, the more they are banking on their future.”

 

What further challenges stop people using a bank?

FairPlanet researched further, and even with access to a bank, evidence suggests people will still not trust the bank, the service is unreliable, and withdrawal fees are prohibitively expensive. People are not inclined to borrow because they do not want to risk losing collateral. While expanding access to various banking services (for instance, by lowering account opening fees) will benefit a minority, broader success may not be obtainable unless the actual service quality is vastly improved. Moreover, there are challenges on the demand side. Increased work needs to be done to understand what savings and credit products are best suited for the majority of the unbanked living in poverty.

 

Problem solving?

Blockchain payments allow for cheaper money transfers and lower account fees while upholding security and transparency. Open banking allows for new players to enter the field and begin assisting the underbanked in ways that have never before been allowed, and blockchain technology is poised as a key component in the entire process. With are a few companies emerging in this field and companies, such as FairPlanet, that host these payment methods, we can see a push for financial inclusivity. Serving adults who live on less than $5 a day is not only possible at scale—to a large degree, it is already happening.

Banking

allpay.cards Instrumental in Launch of New Amaiz Business Banking Service for Solopreneurs

Leading UK card manufacturer and bureau, allpay.cards has announced it is the card provider for the new Amaiz mobile business banking service for solopreneurs. Amaiz aims to help people free-up time by supplying an app to give sole traders and small business owners access to fast, mobile banking services backed up with accounting and back office smart tools.

The account is quick to set up, enables fast UK bank transfers, plus Direct Debit management and a contactless business card with 3-D Secure protection, in-app card freeze and instant PIN reminders. As part of the service, an expert accountancy team are also available to help sole traders with general bookkeeping and accounting questions.

Steve Taklalsingh, managing director & CFO, Amaiz explains: “Featuring bespoke tools to support agile, ‘always-on’ small businesses, the Amaiz banking service makes life easier for solopreneurs by removing the headache of admin and accounting. Filing tax returns is more straightforward and invoices can be prepared from the app. Categorised transactions quickly assess where a business owner may be overspending and help to prepare for tax self-assessment in advance with all the details in one place releasing solopreneurs’ time to focus on the day job!

“We worked with allpay.cards for the design, manufacture and supply the bank cards for our new service,” confirms Taklalsingh. “allpay.cards provides services to a number of challenger banks and having been impressed with positive feedback from their customers we made our choice. In addition, the allpay.cards team are committed and proved supportive, quick and responsive to work with. For example, once we’d agreed the card design, they were able to manufacture a full run in just 10 working days (other manufactures can typically take around 6-12 weeks).

“allpay.cards also manages the secure personalisation of the cards at its state-of-the-art PCI compliant UK manufacturing facility which includes encoding the chip, adding the name and expiry and security code onto the cards. The bespoke fulfilment team then follow a secure process to hand match and attach the cards before they are shipped to the new card holder. If a card is ordered at 6am on a Monday it is dispatched by 5pm on the same day and this rapid turnaround is just one way the account can make life easier for small business owners.”

Emily Lovelock, head of sales at allpay.cards explains: “We provide the full end-to-end physical card service for Amaiz. From the guidance of the technical setup and creation of the card designs right through to manufacture and dispatch. We have full quality control and flexibility of the process at our UK accredited site, which we can be a more flexible provider than some of our competitors who manufacture their cards overseas.”

For more information please visit: https://allpay.cards/ or www.amaiz.com

Transactional and Investment BankingWealth Management

Promising Regional Start-up Gets Funding from Hungarian Companies

  • Enter Tomorrow Europe, a venture capital fund operated by Lead Ventures has gained share in Czech start-up Neuron Soundware, utilizing investments from MOL and Eximbank.
  • The Czech start-up analyses sounds and vibrations to detect when industrial machines need maintenance.
  • Apart from the Hungarian companies, the EUR 5,7 million investment is also supported by two Czech capital funds, Inven Capital and J&T Ventures.

Lead Ventures continues to expand its portfolio with the help of MOL, Eximbank, together with Czech capital funds. Together, the business partners invested EUR 5,75 million in Czech company Neuron Soundware. The start-up is one of the first companies in the region to implement sound-based diagnostics of industrial machinery, which greatly helps factories using such equipment.

Enter Tomorrow Europe, a capital fund operated by Lead Ventures, supported by MOL and Eximbank used funds from Hungary for its latest /5000 venture capital investment. Together with Inven Capital, a member of ČEZ Group, Lead Ventures gained share in the Czech Neuron Soundware company.

Neuron Soundware was founded as a start-up in Prague in February, 2016. Currently, they employ 20 experts and last year, they had revenue of almost half a million Euros. The company provides AI-based solutions for several industries, including the energy industry. Their software analyses the sounds made by industrial machines, and can detect even the smallest of changes or unusual noises, indicating that the equipment is faulty or in need of maintenance. Their technology is already used by several global corporations, including Daimler, BMW, Innogy, E.ON, Airbus and LG.

“We know exactly how pumps, gearboxes, cylinders, electromotors, or compressors should sound. The sounds of all regular components of a machine are stored in a database. But that is not enough, our artificial intelligence software is able to distinguish problem noises from regular process hum and surrounding sounds, giving the customer the certainty that the machine will not pull off any unpleasant surprises,” says Pavel Konečný, founder and CEO of Neuron soundware.

“Predictive maintenance is a part of Industry 4.0. Neuron’s exciting technology has the potential to create a real break-through in this area. We trust that, with our newest regional investment, this innovative solution can improve the efficiency of several industries,” added Ábel Galácz, CEO of Lead Ventures.

“Start-ups from Central Europe, which have already been tested, have great potential to break through in global markets. As part of our strategy, we are looking for innovative solutions that can increase effectivity of technical processes in industrial services. Like our recent entry into Slovak GA Drilling, our entry into Czech Neuron Soundware is an example of a successful connection of small start-ups with a strong international company for further growth,” said Oszkár Világi, MOL Group Chief Innovation Officer.

The full value of the investment is EUR 5.75. Almost half of that sum is provided by Lead Ventures ETE, using funds from MOL and Eximbank. The rest of the price is covert by Inven Capital and Neuron’s previous investor, J&T Ventures.

Managing over EUR 100 million, Lead Ventures aims to support start-ups with innovative ideas all over the CEE region, assisting them to take their products or services to the global market. MOL has been supportive of the goals of the investment fund before. In March, for example, Lead Ventures signed a EUR 4,2 financing deal with the Slovakian GA Drilling company. GA Drilling focuses on developing a revolutionary electronic plasma technology, creating plasma drills capable of penetrating deeper layers of the ground at a reduced energy cost, making geothermic energy more accessible. As part of the deal, experimental drill heads are now being tested at MOL’s own hydrocarbon facilities.

Transactional and Investment Banking

Mike Bagguley, Former Barclays International COO & Financial Trading Industry Leader, Backs Inforalgo with Investment & Board Role

Inforalgo, the Capital Markets data automation specialist, has announced that Mike Bagguley, formerly COO at Barclays International and a respected financial investment industry leader, has invested in the firm and joins as a board advisor.

Mike, who brings a wealth of experience gained in senior trading and leadership positions across Barclays Investment Bank, approached Inforalgo during a search for firms that offer the opportunity to significantly reduce risk and costs in the market’s businesses.

“Inforalgo’s approach is enormously appealing, because it rationalises the technology and operating platform that firms need to manage,” he said. “Its portfolio of powerful data integration solutions allow transactions to be recorded, processed and reported in a single action, reflected end to end, electronically aided by smart automation. These independent, smart data automation solutions remove considerable pain for financial institutions and broker-dealers, allowing them to get on with doing optimal deals without worrying about how everything will be input, processed and reported.

“In this volatile market where new opportunities come and go quickly, and international regulators are continuously updating and adding to transparency and reporting requirements, Inforalgo has identified a sweet spot with a series of high-impact solutions that are unmatched,” he added.

“Inforalgo has an unrivalled track record as platform-independent data connectivity and compliance automation specialists, and its expansion into automated cross-jurisdictional regulatory reporting is further confirmation that it is ahead of the industry curve.”

Commenting on Mike’s appointment and his injection of funds to support the company’s next growth phase, Jordan Ambrose, Inforalgo’s CEO, said, “We are delighted and honoured to have Mike’s involvement and investment, and excited to be building out our senior management team at this pivotal point in our company’s development and expansion. Mike brings with him a wealth of industry experience and insight, and we look forward to his invaluable input.”

Mike Bagguley
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsTransactional and Investment Banking

Nevion and Sony establish a strategic partnership to provide enhanced IP broadcast production solutions

Nevion, award-winning provider of virtualized media production solutions, today announced that it has agreed with Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. (“Sony”) to establish a strategic partnership in the area of IP-based solutions for broadcasters and other industries. To reinforce this partnership, Sony will also become a leading investor in Nevion by acquiring a minority stake in the company through a share purchase agreement.

In recent years, Nevion has established itself as a leading provider of IP media network solutions for the real-time transport, processing, monitoring and management of the video, audio and data signals that are used in production. This partnership with Sony will allow customers to benefit from more advanced, fully integrated and standards-based media production solutions that combine outstanding media network technology with world-leading equipment such as cameras and switchers. These solutions will make it easier for customers to move to IP in their facilities and in remote production, as well as improve their ability to create content – for example through better sharing of resources.

“This is an exciting alliance for Nevion, its customers and its partners,” said Geir Bryn-Jensen, Nevion CEO. “It is based on very complementary solutions, products and know-how, and will allow us to offer a lot more to our customers, both existing and potential, than we have been able to until now. It will also give us a much greater scalability and reach.”

“Through this strategic partnership, we will be able to expand our end-to-end IP solution offerings that allow customers to produce live content connecting multiple locations”, said Mikio Kita, Senior General Manager, Media Solution Business Division, Professional Products & Solutions Group, Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. “Working together with Nevion, we will deliver an integrated and optimal experience for our customers.”

Nevion’s CEO, Geir Bryn-Jensen concluded: “This strategic partnership with Sony is a real vote of confidence in Nevion, its vision, its strategy, its people and its IP-based media network solutions. We look forward to working closely with Sony to maximize the benefits for our customers.”

For more information about Nevion and its solutions, please visit the Nevion website.