In PYMNTS’ July 2021 survey…
Shopify is now allowing merchants…
Growth is accelerating: SoFi is…
Maslife, the payment and wellbeing…
BaaS API platform Treasury Prime…
Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs…
Amazon Web Services has expanded…
Startup Spiral is an “ethical…
Fidelity invetsments joined a $29 million B…
Refinitiv has launched House Views…
Goldman Sachs Growth Equity has…
Apple is researching how to…
The Coalition for a Digital Economy, or Coadec as it’s more commonly known, is calling on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to tread carefully when introducing tighter restrictions on the buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) sector. Coadec has laid out five themes the regulators should focus on to prevent a potential misfire with regulation.
- Firstly, Coadec is urging the FCA to focus on the BNPL firms and not the retailers they support after its research found that additional compliance requirements on the retailers’ end could see 68 per cent of e-commerce startups shift away from BNPL.
- Secondly, the industry body is calling on providers to develop better affordability checks, most importantly, not undertaking a hard credit check.
- Coadec has also outlined the credit rating industry as a whole needs to be dragged into the 21st Century by using smart data, like open banking or AI.
- Clear, concise, and easy-to-understand information is the fourth topic on Coadec’s list. all communications (including from third-party advertisers like influencers) mustn’t be misleading. Late last year, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) branded four Klarna ads as ‘irresponsible’ after several influencers posted ads for the fintech linking spending (and borrowing) money with happiness.
- And, finally, BNPL providers must provide customers with a better complaint network as most BNPL fintechs exist outside the realm of the Financial Ombudsman’s reach.
SETL proposes that regulators step into the public blockchain space and require miners to be responsible for changes they propose to the ledger. The take is on the thesis that tokenisation provides a path to a more generic way of owning and trading regulated liabilities, such as shares and bonds; maps the details of how this might work; and offers practical steps to bring together regulated DLT and unregulated public blockchains. Existing mining pools are run by a small number of companies that need to choose a regulated or unregulated future. There is nothing in the original idea of public blockchains that promotes or recommends the current regime. SETL proposes that the benefit of tokenisation is that it creates a direct association between the holder and its issuer and alleviates the need for multiple intermediary ledgers. It also creates a unified approach to interact with all types of assets and liabilities. SETL catalogues the challenges that need to be met to bring about a regulated internet of value based on tokenisation.
Growth is accelerating: SoFi is currently the only company with an A-to-Z offering within a single app, which sets it apart from traditional banks and other fintech competitors such as Square and PayPal. SoFi’s strong reputation in the student loan category attracts users who then pick up other financial products across the app. As of the first quarter of 2021, SoFi has a total of 2.28 million members, up 110% year over year, and it was the company’s seventh consecutive quarter of accelerating user growth. The number of products used on SoFi’s app grew 273% year over year in the first quarter, indicating that members are starting to use more products across the app after joining.
A bank charter could improve profitability: SoFi and other fintechs don’t have branches and overhead like traditional banks, so digital banks have much lower customer acquisition costs. On average, a traditional bank pays between $1,500 to $2,000 to acquire a retail banking customer. In comparison, SoFi pays just $40 on average due to its digital presence and ability to cross-sell products to users from within its app. Galileo makes SoFi diverse: Galileo is best thought of as a “toll road” that benefits from the growth of the overall fintech space, which SoFi now benefits from. Galileo is growing rapidly, with year-over-year account gains of between 130% to 135% over each of the past three quarters. It now has 70 million accounts, growing almost fourfold from just two years ago. It currently contributes roughly 20% of SoFi’s total revenue, giving investors both diversification and exposure to the broader fintech industry.
- Maslife, the payment and wellbeing platform that rewards people for keeping healthy, has collaborated with regulated e-money services provider Paynetics to power its new financial wellbeing app. The new Maslife platform enables users to make informed decisions about their lifestyle, wellbeing, and finances. It offers customers a full suite of financial tools to support them in better managing their finances and improving their state of mind. The new app helps its users to implement positive habits and mindsets with actionable steps. These include mindful spending and budgeting with accounts in GBP, EUR and USD, free currency exchanges, virtual and metal debit cards, along with other payment services. Physical and mental health is supported within the app with health activity monitoring, guided meditation, informative podcasts, and much more. There are many financial, health, and mindfulness apps on the market, but none that bring together these priority areas of life in an integrated way.
Tesco Bank, banking arm of Tesco is closing all current accounts because the majority of customers do not use them. The lender says that only 12% of its accounts are being used by customers as their primary current account. Most accounts have limited activity or are being used for other purposes, such as a savings pot. In April Tesco Bank reported annual losses of £175 million, compared to a £193 million profit in the previous year. All 213,000 Tesco Bank Personal Current Accounts will be closed from 30 November, with customers advised to switch to a new provider or move their balance to a Tesco savings account. The bank says it will now focus on serving its five million-plus customers across a range of banking and insurance products.
Starling Bank has made its first acquisition, the buy-to-let lending operation of Fleet Mortgages. Under the deal, Starling will become the sole funder of future originations for Fleet Mortgages, allowing the firm to build on its loan book by securing access to Starling’s £6.7 billion deposit base. The acquisition of Fleet Mortgages is the start of Starling move into mortgages as an asset class and builds on a number of forward-flow arrangements that we’re doing with leading non-bank lenders. the acquisition is part of a wider plan at the bank to expand lending through a mix of strategic forward-flow arrangements, organic lending and targeted M&A activity.
Google appears to be testing a new feature that allows users to add themselves and their parties to waitlists at restaurants that would normally require a phone call. Powered by Duplex, Google’s AI-driven natural language processing technology that can converse with business owners over the phone, the waitlist capability could benefit hospitality organizations facing surges in traffic as pandemic fears abate. Appearing as a “Request to Join Waitlist” button under listings in Maps and Search, it asks a user to specify their party size and maximum wait time (e.g., over 30 minutes, under 30 minutes) “in case the restaurant has a waitlist.” Pulling info saved to the user’s Google Account, including their name and phone number, Google Assistant (i.e., Duplex) attempts to call the restaurant to add their party to the waitlist. Google Assistant provides text updates as it places the call, indicating whether it’s been successful or not.
- Blueprint Software Systems has released a new solution for RPA migrations to the Microsoft Power Automate platform. This could tilt the balance in the RPA market toward Microsoft’s lower-cost offerings with native integrations into popular productivity apps. Blueprint’s offering could dramatically lower this cost and set companies up for improved governance down the road. Both RPA and low-code tools have traditionally focused on the technical side of automation. In contrast, Blueprint started with a focus on the process paradigm of applications development and management. It provides tools for creating executable documents describing current processes, governance requirements, and optimum workflow. While Power Automate makes it easier to create automations, Blueprint provides an enterprise context. Users can see where their automation fits into higher-level end-to-end processes and ultimately into customer journeys or business value streams. This improves alignment between automations and applicable business rules, corporate policies, regulatory obligations, and other enterprise constraints. Blueprint also provides a common unifying vocabulary across RPA platforms.
Segmint, transaction cleansing and analytics platform for financial institutions, has partnered with data security company TokenEx, Segmint has engaged the company’s Payment Tokenization Services, allowing the fintech to build its foundation for multi-channel marketing message delivery. The financial services industry no longer has to deal with the challenge of having to share sensitive data across platforms. Segmint does not use any PII (Personally Identifiable Information) within its ecosystem of data and analytics, and TokenEx helps further safe-guard this process, maintaining security seamlessly within its operations to bifurcate both sensitive and non-sensitive data. Segmint will extend the capacity within its Marketing Automation Platform, fueled by proprietary Key Lifestyle Indicators® (KLIs), to ultimately deliver marketing messages to virtually any channel. Segmint’s financial institution clients can now leverage their enriched transaction data across multi-channels while maintaining both security and personalization. TokenEx’s Data Protection Platform leverages tokenization to protect and store sensitive personal and/or payment data. Unlike encrypted data, tokenized data is undecipherable and irreversible. This distinction is particularly important – because there is no mathematical relationship between the token and its original number, tokens cannot be returned to their original form.
- Salesforce and Proof Analytics have launched Proof BusinessGPS for RevOps, a full-scale revenue optimization analytics platform that enables revenue operations teams to rapidly develop, test and adjust many different analytical models to examine the interaction of their campaigns and revenue outcomes, all in the constantly evolving context of marketplace conditions, competitor actions, and their own changing brand and reputational power. Human-powered data science is too slow, too hard to scale, even harder for business leaders to understand, and too expensive. In contrast, Proof BusinessGPS delivers fast, scalable, accurate analytics as a SaaS solution with simple, clear pricing, significantly disrupting legacy providers.
- Automated, accurate and natively integrated to Salesforce clouds, Proof BusinessGPS, Proof Marketing Planner, and Proof Marketing Finance MRM™ are the ‘missing link’ that companies need in order to make sense of the omnichannel world in which they succeed or struggle. Proof’s Exchange integrations with Datorama and Tableau – and soon with Slack — mean that customers can instantly and automatically download even more relevant data into Proof in seconds and then collaborate effectively on the analytics. The acceleration that this provides to teams is immense, not only concerning the mobilizing of their data but enabling them to get the insights they need faster and faster. There’s effectively no data source that can’t be piped into Proof, giving customers the ability to rapidly enrich all of their models.
Skyflow, the data privacy vault for sensitive data launched PII Data Privacy Vault, the industry’s first zero trust data vault for securely handling sensitive customer information. The PII Data Privacy Vault includes the new Skyflow Data Governance Engine, which enables fine-grained access control to data based on roles, policies, or attributes. The vault is delivered as a simple API, allowing software developers to quickly build innovative applications without worrying about data security, privacy, or compliance. Skyflow provides CTO and development teams with their own data privacy vaults via a simple and fast-to-deploy API, making it easy for them to build in data privacy. Skyflow’s PII Vault helps them ship faster by addressing any and all the key challenges associated with PII data privacy, including: Compliance, Data Security, Data Governance, Data Residency, Secure Data Sharing, Secure Analytics and Encryption/Tokenization. The Skyflow PII Vault can be deployed in less than a day.
Straive, the technology-driven content and data solutions provider launched Straive Data Platform (SDP), an end-to-end data management platform focused on unstructured data solutions. With its cloud-native and microservices-based architecture, SDP extracts and enriches data from any unstructured source and enables enterprises to harness the power of all data. SDP provides pre-built connectors and multiple ingestion paths to capture data from various sources and formats (unstructured and structured) to unify and action it across various touchpoints while providing a robust secure data processing environment. It uses AI and ML capabilities to bring in differentiated levels of data accuracy, quality, and automation.
SDP has been designed to serve Straive’s use cases spanning text intelligence, public data intelligence, and vision intelligence across industries such as scientific content, financial services, risk and compliance, and legal and real estate through:
- Easily customizable workflows
- Automated collections, extraction, and preparation of data
- Automatic scaling
- Seamless integration with third-party tools and products
- Enterprise-grade SLAs
Coud-native authorization platform Styra Inc., has announced new cloud infrastructure support via Terraform, extending Styra Declarative Authorization Service (DAS) guardrails to storage, network and compute resource configuration in public clouds including AWS, GCP and Azure. With this addition, Styra DAS now provides a unified policy-as-code solution, built on OPA, to ensure cloud infrastructure, Kubernetes and service mesh deployments are secure and compliant. With Styra DAS and OPA, cloud and DevOps teams have a unified platform for authorization to mitigate risk, reduce human error and accelerate platform development. By extending Styra DAS to Terraform cloud infrastructure policy, cloud and DevOps teams no longer have to manage multiple security tools, or rely on best-effort manual processes, thanks to a unified platform for authorization that’s mapped to common security standards and industry best practices. With this control plane, teams can:
- Eliminate ongoing management of custom tooling and speed deployment with a single policy framework for cloud infrastructure authorization
- Manage the entire lifecycle of the cloud platform from design to deployment
- Eliminate policy silos with a single platform for cross-team collaboration
- Automate configuration validation, deploy platform security based on proven standards, and prove compliance
- Get started quickly with the only library of security policies built by the founders of OPA
- Spotify has introduced the “What’s New” feed, which will deliver an ongoing series of updates to mobile app users focused on new releases. According to the company, the What’s New feed will serve as another way for Spotify users to keep up with all the new music and podcasts that are released from the shows and artists that they follow on the service. In other words, it’s a personalized feed based on what users listen to, not a universal feed or one they more explicitly customize by making specific selections. The feed will be under the new “bell” icon at the top of the home tab alongside the recently played and settings icons on the top right. The feed will be also updated in real-time, Spotify says, and will display a blue dot when there are new songs and episodes that arrived since users last opened the app. While the feature may be useful because it gives a single place to look in the Spotify app for everything that’s new, the use of a “notifications” feature that leverages dots is also a psychological trick that can make apps more addictive. This seemingly minor addition to the Spotify app is actually a quite calculated one. Spotify, with the launch of a more attention-grabbing notifications feature, it wants to increase user engagement, even if it understands that it may be sacrificing some sense of user comfort and enjoyment in the process.
- In PYMNTS’ July 2021 survey BNPL’s ability to spread payments over time and its ease of use were the most cited reasons for choosing the method, regardless of the consumers’ level of financial inclusion. Consumers with blemished credit or challenging credit histories see BNPL to improve overall credit health and scores specifically, a fact that is amply supported by the findings. 51 percent of consumers who have used or would use installments think BNPL “will allow them to improve their credit scores. This rate is higher for financially underserved consumers (57 percent and 69 percent of second-chance and shut-out consumers, respectively).” Additionally, 77 percent of consumers with little credit or damaged credit now see BNPL “as an option that improves their ability to buy things that they want without overspending.”
- Among the three BNPL personas identified in the new research — the financially stable “worry-free,” nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of “second-chance” consumers with blemished credit, and “shut-out” consumers typically living paycheck to paycheck and struggling with bills — BNPL is seen as an alternative to credit cards they either can’t access or can’t afford. Many consumers cite a fear of overspending. Card fees and interest rates are top reasons people in all personas avoid traditional credit cards. 40 percent of worry-free consumers who did not have a credit card in the last 12 months reported that they did not want to use credit cards because the cards encouraged them to spend money,” per the study.
Novae LLC has become the first Black-owned FinTech company to offer BNPL services to online and offline merchants under the brand Novae Financing. these services which are designed to fight inequality faced by minority entrepreneurs are the first of their kind. Novae Financing’s BNPL fintech is built around its proposal to make financial success more affordable for Black and other historically disadvantaged customers, for whom centuries of discrimination may mean increased odds of marginalization. This historical oppression leaves them with less access to money they can invest in their businesses, careers, homes, families, and education. Financing up to $100,000 for consumers depending on the industry, Novae Financing approves consumer applications with credit scores as low as 515 and offers 6, 12, and even 18 month same-as-cash (no interest) options. Part of the company’s mission is not only providing access to capital but also access to education and information for entrepreneurs to become more successful; hence, their focus to approve trainers, speakers, coaches, and consultants as merchants to finance their high-ticket programs to help entrepreneurs gain success.
Harley-Davidson attempts to expand its digital capabilities by selling nearly 18,000 used motorcycles directly to consumers. Its H-D1 Marketplace would allow consumers to sell and purchase pre-owned Harley-Davidson motorcycles directly through the company’s website. All Harley-Davidson dealers with certified pre-owned motorcycles will participate. Harley-Davidson states that, the used bike market been a significant business for its dealers and but the motor company never had a good understanding on this market. Besides, the goal is to make Harley-Davidson’s website the go-to site for anything from the brand, including general merchandise, parts and accessories. Harley-Davidson is hardly the first vehicle manufacturer to sell its products directly to consumers — Tesla has been doing so for years on the premise that its cars are too complicated and different from traditional combustion engine cars for independently-owned dealerships to properly explain to customers.
- Mobile payments service provider Blik is making the contactless functionality available in the apps of six of the 17 banks that support its mobile payments solution. At present Blik users can make mobile payments at the POS directly from their bank account by receiving a one-time authorisation code in their banking app that they then manually enter into a POS terminal to authenticate their payment. Once activated, the service is only available if the bank’s mobile application is installed on the smartphone. The service uses Mastercard MDES tokenization technology.
- The authorisation request from the POS terminal will be sent to the Mastercard network in EMV standard, Mastercard will pass it to the Blik system, and Blik will send an authorisation request to the bank in the Blik API which is used for other types of Blik transactions, that is very different from EMV. In the case of Blik contactless transactions made at POS terminals operated by acquirers who are Blik participants, settlement will be made directly between the acquirer and Blik. From the perspective of a bank that is a participant in the Blik system, a tokenized instrument is a bank account linked to a mobile application. When performing tokenization, the PSP uses a virtual card number that is not known to either the bank or the customer. The use of tokenization combined with mobile payments based solely on the user’s current account is a breakthrough in contactless payments
- BaaS API platform Treasury Prime has announced customizable card controls including the ability for fintechs and other customers to put themselves in the authorization loop for approving their users’ transactions in real time. These enhanced card controls will give customers the ability to customize balance, merchant, and velocity limits based on their business model and proprietary user data in order to enable both more and larger transactions while reducing declined transactions and fraud. Treasury Prime customers who want to launch quickly with a minimum of customization can build their card programs using Treasury Prime’s best practices and pre-built settings and then customize in the future as they collect user data.
- Customers who are ready to begin customizing controls can use simple API calls to configure their card controls program together in any way that makes sense for their business. Many fintechs have their own data sources that address their particular end-users; in these cases it may be valuable for the company to be directly in the authorization loop because the fintech’s own data may better inform whether a transaction should be approved or denied. Treasury Prime’s card controls also makes cross financial product card controls feasible. Unlike other BaaS providers who force companies into pre-defined and structured flows, the Treasury Prime platform was built to support complex business models and flows of funds.
Lloyds Commercial Banking is rolling out a new payment service which enables consumers to make payments on an organisation’s website directly from their bank account, without having to enter any payment details. The new service, dubbed PayFrom Bank, combines Mastercard’s Payment Gateway capabilities and its Open Banking Connect platform to deliver a merchant A2A payment page that covers around 95% of UK bank accounts with Open Banking APIs. Open Banking Merchant Payment Solution offers merchants and consumers an alternative to card based payments and even greater choice over how they checkout. Merchants can now provide their customers with a wider range of payment methods without needing to store payer account details. It also removes friction for consumers as all payer details are automatically populated, meaning there’s no risk of entering the wrong account details. Initial interest in PayFrom Bank is coming from charities for online donations and wallet funding use cases such as investment accounts. United Response, a charity that provides support to people with learning difficulties, autism, and mental health needs, is the first merchant to go live with the proposition.
Charitable donation startup Percent was founded to become the global API-first infrastructure behind all giving. At its launch, Percent offered users a card-linked app with the opportunity to donate a percentage of their spending at participating retailers to their chosen charity or local good cause. The company has since broadened its outloook, with the introduction of an API that businesses can now integrate into their own services. Examples include contributing a fixed percentage of what a customer spends, matching a donation made when making a payment, or rounding up a financial transaction. Donations made can be distributed to up to seven million non-profit causes around the world that have been added to Percent’s validated ‘Purpose Platform’.
VibePay has launched ‘Channels’, a new feature which marks a major evolution in how consumers and businesses will interact with payments in the future. Channels removes the need for users to scroll through multiple, busy timelines to manage transactions between friends, family and the wider VibePay community. Instead, Channels links multiple bank accounts and provides an ongoing, dedicated timeline of all payments between users and another party. Channels provide ongoing visibility of all transactions in-app in a new dedicated space. This will result in VibePay users having multiple Channels, providing a simple and holistic view of their financial world. This will create a new value-add experience for businesses and reinvent how consumers engage with their favourite brands. By leveraging the power of Open Banking, the enhancement will ensure sending or receiving money is not always the end of a transaction, and instead enables for meaningful on-going interactions to occur in-app.
Apple is working on bringing Face ID to Macs for user Authentication, Face Gesture Recognition and more. All iPhones and iPads to transition to Face ID within that timeframe, too. Eventually, a camera embedded in the screen would help differentiate Apple’s pricier devices by eliminating the notch at the top. The facial recognition sensor gives Apple two central features: security and augmented reality. Touch ID, more convenient or not, only provides the former.
Google Cloud announced “Google Enterprise APIs” that will be governed by a stricter policy in regards to when the company changes or deprecates them. Google Enterprise APIs are specifically a “label applied to the vast majority of APIs across Google Cloud, Google Workspace, and Google Maps Platform.” Consumer APIs are not included in the latter product, but everything given this classification will be governed by a “stringent set of requirements about how and when we make changes to them.” Reliability and stability are the focus with Google trying to assure third-party companies that APIs will “continue to work as expected and not trigger unanticipated development work.” In terms of “actively using,” customers will be notified one year in advance about upcoming changes. The product will remain the same during that time, while Google will offer tools and docs to “migrate to newer versions with equivalent functionality and performance.”
Amazon has introduced Ziggy, which is the male counterpart of Alexa, also the new wake word. In place of Alexa, you can give a command like “Ziggy, please play my song.” The new voice option was introduced when Amazon announced its new celebrity voices including Shaq and Melissa McCarthy. Users can change the voice by saying, “Alexa, change your voice”. Your voice assistant will change the gender as per request. You can also go to the Settings menu on your Alexa app and change the gender of your voice assistant. Using the same settings, you can also change your wake word from Alexa to Ziggy. The change however will be device specific, so you will have to change it separately on each of your Alexa-powered devices.
Google Discover is testing showing an article’s related keywords. Keywords appear between the headline and bottom row (with publication name, publish time, and other actions). There are usually three to an article, including on AMP/Web Stories and YouTube videos, with each placed in pill-shaped buttons. Some stories lack a topic or only feature one. It comes as Google removed content descriptions so that you have to rely solely on the title and cover image. Tapping opens a feed of other articles with that same keyword assigned by Google Discover. It’s a convenient way to see other stories about the same topic without having to refresh or perform your own search. With this addition, the overflow menu will show all those keywords so that you can mark “Not interested.” Compared to before, where you’d only get one, this provides much more granularity. The improved ability to tune Discover makes this a sleeper benefit of these visible topics.
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