NEWS

  • Workspace Sharing Startups The New Favorite With B2B Investors

    B2B FinTech is undoubtedly a hot spot for venture capitalists (VCs) this year. However, this summer, a different kind of B2B startup has captured investors’ attention. Workspace sharing firms, particularly across Asia, have landed major funding rounds in recent months. This week, the largest investment round went to one industry player in China. That doesn’t mean investors have ignored the FinTech side of the B2B market, though, with funding landing at eProcurement, auditing, alternative finance and other players. Axoni Enterprise blockchain startup Axoni secured $32 million in Series B funding this week, the company announced in a press release. Goldman Sachs and Nyca Partners led the round, while Andreessen Horowitz, Citi, Coatue Management, Digital Currency Group, F-Prime Capital, Franklin Templeton Investments, JPMorgan, NEX Group, Wells Fargo and Y Combinator also participated — a list that clearly shows traditional financial institution (FI) interest in Axoni’s technology. The company works with banks and other financial services players to integrate blockchain tools. The funding will be used to focus on its data synchronization technology and expand its offering of infrastructure products, the company said. Expedi Enterprise procurement solutions provider Expedi announced a $2.25 million Seed round this week, about a year after the company launched. The funding, provided by Bowery Capital and Blue Bear Capital, along with several angel investors, will bolster the company’s focus on maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) procurement solutions. The company links enterprises to an eCommerce platform to procure MRO services. The company’s CEO Tim Neal said in a statement that the funding will go toward acceleration of its technology platform and operations. MyDreamPlus Venture capitalists appear to be excited about the workspace sharing market. Last month, Awfis and WeWork — both workspace sharing startups — landed big funding rounds, and IndiQube did the same a month prior. This month, China’s MyDreamPlus landed the largest investment round of this week, with $120 million in Series C funding, led by Hillhouse Capital Group and General Atlantic. Existing backers JOY Capital, Ocean Link, M31 Management Fund and K2VC also participated, the firm said in a press release. MyDreamPlus will use the investment to continue growth and strengthen its position in the co-working space and workspace markets, targeting startups, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and freelancers with workspaces. The firm is also focusing on developing an Office-as-a-Service (OaaS) offering with smart office management, design and other features for professionals. Ucommune Another China-based workspace sharing company, Ucommune, announced funding to the tune of $43.5 million this week, reports in TechNode said. The Series C investment was led by Prosperity Holdings. Reports did not say how the company plans to use the funds, but noted its acquisition spree that led to the takeover of co-working company Workingdom, which it purchased for $43.5 million. The company also acquired industry rivals New Space, Woo Space and Wedo Union, signaling consolidation in China’s workspace sharing industry as players compete to secure new funding and market dominance. AuditBoard Cloud-based risk and auditing management provider AuditBoard raised $40 million in Series B funding, announced this week, led by Battery Ventures. AuditBoard’s technology helps organizations and their auditors manage risk mitigation and compliance efforts. The company said it will use the funds to focus on product development, sales, marketing and business partnerships, as it targets large enterprises that must comply with increasingly complex regulations and auditing requirements. Capital On Tap Based in the U.K., Capital On Tap links small business borrowers to financing. The company said it secured more than $114 million in debt funding provided by M&G Investments, Triple Point Investment Management and other investment houses. In addition, the company secured a debt line worth more than $63 million. The funds will be used to expand its SMB financing efforts, reports in Compelo said this week. POM Belgium’s POM announced $943 million in new funding, a press release said, which will go toward further development of its invoice payment solutions. The funding included Be Angels, BAN Vlaanderen, B2BOOST and other angel investors. POM, which provides a mobile app for users to pay invoices via electronic and paper rails, will focus on growth both in Belgium and across borders. The company will also be looking to “refine” and expand its product offerings, which include electronic invoicing and electronic payments for companies. […]

  • Deutsche Finalizes Sale Of Corporate Banking Assets

    Deutsche Bank has completed the sale of its corporate banking unit, Global Transaction Banking (GTB), reports in Verdict.co.uk said on Thursday (Aug. 16). Fund administration services provider Vistra acquired the GTB unit after earlier reports this year that the FI would be trimming its corporate banking operations. Last March, reports in Nasdaq said Deutsche had also divested its Private & Commercial Banking (PCB) unit. Deutsche first announced plans to sell its GBT unit last September, reports said. The assets include operations in the U.K., Ireland, the Netherlands, the U.S. and other areas of Europe. “We are pleased to have entered the final stage of completion for all of Deutsche Bank‘s corporate services to become part of the Vistra brand,” said Vistra Group Managing Director of Alternative Investments Onno Bouwmeister in a statement. “This is a significant opportunity for Vistra as we broaden our presence…” Reports noted that Vistra previously acquired Radius, based in the U.S., as well as Ireland’s Canyon CTS and Indonesia’s Global Expandia. While trimming its corporate services, Deutsche has also enhanced some of them, too. Last month, the bank announced the integration of DocuSign technology to support electronic signatures for its corporate customers in the U.S., U.K., Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The bank said it plans to introduce the feature in markets across the Asia Pacific and Middle East at a later time. “Digital signatures enable us to accelerate the entire client onboarding and contract management process,” said Martin Runow, Deutsche Bank’s global head of client connectivity products at its GTB unit. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Deutsche had conducted two internal reviews revealing gaps in anti-money laundering efforts. Internal documents seen by the publication revealed Deutsche was given a pass rate of zero percent in several jurisdictions, including Russia, Spain, Italy, Ireland and South Africa, despite the bank seeking a rate of 95 percent. […]

  • Thomson Reuters Steps Into Mobile SMB Accounting

    Thomson Reuters is stepping into the world of mobile small business accounting with the launch of a new app, OnBalance Express. Announced this week, the solution is a cloud-based app that provides accounting services with added functionality, including invoicing, online payments, expense management, vendor tracking, reporting, banking and other tools. In its announcement, Thomson Reuters said it collaborated with entrepreneurs on the solution to meet their day-to-day operational needs and provide real-time data. The tool allows users to log expenses through the use of optical character recognition (OCR) technology to automate entry of receipt data into businesses’ accounting systems. OnBalance Express works with financial institutions (FIs) to pre-categorize expenses when transactions are completed, and the tool includes a mileage tracker for seamless expense management. In a statement, Jon Baron, managing director of Thomson Reuters’ Professional segment of Tax & Accounting, said the tool was designed for accountants to meet their small business clients’ needs, and enables accurate and efficient services to augment accountants’ consulting to those customers. The app signals Thomson Reuters’ increasing focus on small business customers. In its announcement, the company pointed to the previous launch of OnBalance Self-Employed, which debuted last November to enable self-employed individuals to track and manage expenses via mobile app. Last month, the company enhanced its offering for larger enterprises when SAP announced an integration with Thomson Reuters, to link corporate treasurers to data on the cost and FX rate of a cross-border transaction as part of the SAP Market Rates Management tool. The company also previously introduced new solutions to address the friction of corporate tax filing, upgrading ONESOURCE to compute tax provisions across an organization’s multiple subsidiaries, units and locations. […]

  • Relias Teams Up For Healthcare Payroll, Workforce Management

    Human services technology provider DATIS HR Cloud has announced in a press release a partnership with Relias to provide a more holistic workforce management experience for healthcare organizations. The integration of the two solutions will enable their clients to boost visibility, and provide control over talent management, learning management, credential management and more. As part of the partnership, DATIS will attend and sponsor the upcoming Relias Impact Nation 2018 conference for the second year running to promote the complementary aspects of the Relias and DATIS platforms. The event will take place Oct. 2 to Oct. 4 in 2018. DATIS offers industry expertise, as well as superior customer service, to deliver a holistic Human Capital Management and Payroll Software that manages the entire employee lifecycle in one cloud-based workforce application. “We’re looking forward to continuing and strengthening our partnership with Relias,” said Erik Marsh, CEO of DATIS, said in the press release. “The quality of their platform, the extensiveness of the courses they offer and their dedication to the healthcare industry make Relias the perfect partner for our unified HR and Payroll platform. This partnership will enhance the user experience for DATIS and Relias clients, and open up the door to many more opportunities moving forward.” Serving more than 8,000 healthcare organizations and 3 million caregivers, Relias uses analytics, assessments and learning solutions to empower its clients to achieve individual and organizational improvements that deliver solid patient, resident and client outcomes, as well as better financial results. Relias is also the leader in online training and compliance solutions for the Health and Human Services market. “From strategic partnerships to product innovation, at Relias we take a client-centric approach with the objective of helping healthcare providers, ‘Get Better,’” said Mark Belles, COO of Relias. “Partnering with DATIS HR Cloud is another way we fulfill that promise, and we are delighted that they will be joining us in Raleigh this fall for Impact Nation 2018.&rdquo […]

  • Walmart India Enables Direct Payments On B2B eCommerce Site

    Walmart’s B2B eCommerce operations in India have enhanced business-to-business payments functionality as the retailer activated unified payments interface (UPI) for its members. Reports in the Times of India on Thursday (Aug. 16) said that Walmart India’s B2B eCommerce site, http://www.bestprice.in/, can now support direct online payments between buyers’ and suppliers’ bank accounts, without the parties having to share bank account information. Walmart said the feature will be particularly useful to under-banked kiranas, or resellers, who don’t have a debit card or credit card and cannot visit a bank branch to initiate an RTGS (real-time gross settlement) payment. UPI adds to the list of existing payment technologies supported by Walmart’s B2B eCommerce operation, including credit and debit cards, net banking and eWallets. “This initiative reiterates our commitment to enable small businesses, especially kiranas, [to] prosper,” said Walmart India’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Rajneesh Kumar in a statement. “This payment solution will help our members spend more time with their customers and serve them better, as they do not have to step out of their stores to visit banks for making payments.” Kumar added that support of UPI will boost electronic payment volume and support the nation’s ongoing efforts to move away from cash and embrace a digital economy. UPI launched in India two years ago as a way to support mobile- and email-initiated payments. Walmart has been expanding its B2B eCommerce efforts in India for several years, more recently striking partnerships with MartJack, MobiKwik and iEnergizer to launch a mobile solution for small- and medium-sized businesses looking to procure goods through their smartphones. With the Best Price mobile app, SMBs can search for items and make purchases on their mobile devices, with MobiKwik supporting mobile payment on the platform using MobiKwikWallets. […]

  • Europe Grabs B2B Payments Fraud (Small And Large) Headlines

    Based on a scan of some recent headlines, business email scams and fake invoices seem to be among the preferred methods of attacking companies and raiding their coffers. To that end, a finance platform based in Switzerland, Advanon, has grappled with fraud, as reported by p2p-banking.com. As the site noted, a client was able to draw up invoices that were in turn tied to fictitious transactions, forged bank accounts and email accounts. The invoices were then financed by 78 private investors – and the fraud resulted in ill-gotten gains worth about two million euros. Given volume to date, fraud is about 4 percent of that tally, according to the site – and went undetected for about a year.  In the wake of the damage, the company has said that only institutional investors will be admitted onto the platform. Underhanded Doings in the Land Down Under Separately, and in Australia, a few cases illustrate how some tactics are making their way to the land down under to try to separate business owners from their hard-earned funds.  In one example, news.com.au reported that one small business owner “narrowly avoided” being bilked out of tens of thousands of dollars by what was described as “an elaborate .” So ran the tale of Anna Callinan, who runs a children’s boutique and found that a scammer had found his or her way into Callinan’s email. The mechanics of the scam may seem familiar to readers of this space. That scammer, posing as a legitimate supplier to the business, demanded payment. Callinan was asked to deposit funds into an account that was not the usual one, yet other details seemed perfectly fine, spanning invoice numbers and due dates and even some personal information about the supplier. Direct contact with the real supplier stymied the scammer’s efforts – which, of course, included gaining accessing the would-be victim’s email account and grabbing the aforementioned details. The site referenced another theft, this one successful, that utilized the same tactics to grab about $10,000 from another owner of a small business in Australia. That owner, Phoebe Bell, who runs Sage & Clare, was duped by a fake supplier. The email communications continued for weeks. Investigators mentioned to the Australian news site that gaining access to the business and personal email accounts was one conduit to getting personal information; social media was another. A bit closer to home, in the wake of a data breach in Adams County, Wisconsin – one that affected 250,000 people – several employees allegedly tied to that breach are still on the county payroll. The employees remain unidentified, but the scope of the breach affected anyone who had data that resided on the county computer systems between Jan. 1 of 2013 and the end of March 2018. In a bit of granular detail, the website healthsecurityit.com reported that the breach involved PHI, PII and tax information for those individuals. Unauthorized individuals were able to obtain access to the database and to passwords, grabbing hold of information in activities that went far beyond the duties of their particular roles. Separately, and in the world of financial planning, the site onwallstreet.com reported that a former (and discharged) broker, John C. MacColl, was charged with scamming 15 investors of roughly $4 million – stealing from, for example, elderly clients. The broker instructed his alleged victims to take lines of credit against their accounts to invest in a private fund and to write checks that were payable to “Mac 011” (for example) – and then he deposited those checks. MacColl also provided fake account statements complete with fake returns, as charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and allegedly used the funds for personal expenses. […]

  • Bots Enter The Uncharted Territory Of Accounting Compliance

    Bots are marching steadily into the corporate accounting department as professionals feel more comfortable handing tasks to a machine. Since automation technologies have taken some of the burden of monotonous activities away from accountants, the profession has exchanged some of its anxiety about robots replacing their jobs with support for enhanced functionality and efficiency — though, not entirely. The more bots make their way into the accounting department, the more concerns arise about jobs, compliance, trust and other industry-unknowns. And the more bots gain traction in accounting, and the more sophisticated their functionality becomes, industry players will have to begin answering new questions about their market’s future. “The exciting part is that these questions will come and need to be answered,” said Jotham Ty, founder of accountant technology provider Gappify. “This is such new territory for everyone.” Gappify will place itself front-and-center to some of those uncertainties, as it launches a new initiative to enable its current bot, Alan, to pass the CPA exam by 2020. The effort is, in part, to enhance Alan’s existing capabilities, which include data aggregation and analysis, vendor onboarding, and answering supplier payment questions. Arming the bot with the ability to answer CPA questions means it would be able to support more technical aspects of corporate accounting and finance, so as to support human accountants. On a broader scale, though, Ty said the effort is part of an attempt to position the accounting profession ahead of some of the inevitable changes coming its way. Adding CPA functionality to a bot is likely to induce a new wave of concern that robots will replace accountants outright. Ty told PYMNTS that he doesn’t believe this is true, and, instead, bots like Alan can support professionals’ existing operations. In addition to anxieties about the accounting profession’s future, more sophisticated capabilities of accounting bots are opening the door for noncompliance risks and questions over the reliability of these bots. The issue of whether corporates and accountants can actually trust a bot that has passed the CPA exam is one that comes up a lot in Ty’s discussions with clients and in the company’s strategy sessions, he said. It’s unclear exactly what the level of trust will be for a technology like this, but Ty said the accounting industry should be mindful of regulations and work with policymakers to support bots’ compliance, and work with accountants and corporates themselves to ease the industry into such drastic change. Working with regulators will be a “necessary step to building the technology in the way we want to develop and deploy it,” he said. Working with accountants, though, may be a bit trickier, considering resistance to change. The trick is “not to rush into things,” he said. It’s why Alan’s capabilities are limited so far: While the bot could potentially handle every part of the accounts payable (AP) process from start to finish, the industry would be more receptive to the solution if it could automate aspects of AP “piece by piece.” The bot can onboard a new vendor, but not yet make payments. “That might be too overwhelming, in terms of change, for accounting,” said Ty. “It takes a long time for us [accountants] to get comfortable with change.” It won’t only be regulators and accountants that bot developers and robotics automation technology providers will have to convince. Organizations’ C-Suites and boards of directors will have to invest in these tools, security experts will have to trust them and IT professionals will have to manage them. (Interestingly, IT professionals were least likely of all professional categories surveyed by Deloitte to embrace robotics process automation [RPA] implementation in their enterprises.) Furthermore, accounting professionals are already struggling in some ways to embrace automation and robotics. Research from Bain & Company found that 55 percent of AP professionals aren’t using more basic automation tools like optical character recognition (OCR) or online invoice approval processes. At the same time, 66 percent of that portion said they plan to invest in RPA, despite possibly being unprepared to deploy such a sophisticated tool. On the other hand, researchers from eft found last year that some areas of the enterprise, particularly the supply chain management department, are quite interested in bot technology. It may be too early to tell how bot technology will be met by accounting professionals, but it hasn’t stopped solution providers from launching their own. In addition to Alan, for instance, Sage introduced its own bot, Pegg, to the world in 2016. As these machines continue to expand their features, Ty said he expects the regulatory community to keep a close watch while easing the industry into this shift. “It takes a long time to get comfortable with change,” he said. “It’s about introducing automation features and assigning tasks gradually, piece by piece, versus big, sweeping changes.&rdquo […]

  • Chinese Smart Speaker Shipments Reach 16.8M

    Smart speaker sales continue to grow at a record pace, and new data shows that China is now the leader in that market, accounting for 52 percent of the total growth worldwide. The latest report from Canalys shows that China became the growth engine this quarter, contributing 52 percent to worldwide volume growth, compared to 16 percent from the U.S. Alibaba and Xiaomi ranked third and fourth overall, shipping 3 million and 2 million smart speakers respectively. The two companies accounted for nearly 90 percent of the market in China. Alibaba had a market share of over 50 percent, securing the top spot with 3 million shipments of its Tmall Genie speakers in Q2 2018. And with the release of its Xiaoai Mini AI smart speaker, Xiaomi saw 228 percent sequential growth and shipped a total of 2 million units. “China’s smart speaker market has quickly become a battlefield for only the big names, and it will be hard for the smaller players to catch up in terms of market share,” Hattie He, Canalys Research Analyst, said in a press release. “Alibaba and Xiaomi have both relied on aggressive price cuts to create demand. Both companies have the financial backing to spend on marketing and hardware subsidies in a bid to quickly build their user bases. Although the real level of user demand for speaker products is currently unproven, China is on its way to overtake the U.S. in the near term. The challenge remains for local vendors to increase user stickiness and generate revenue from the growing installed base of smart speaker users.” And while Amazon and Google gained from international market expansion into Europe and Asia, both still rely on the U.S., which accounted for 68 percent of Amazon’s global shipments and 58 percent of Google’s. “Many players, including Amazon, are integrating smart speakers into verticals, such as hotels, retail, hospitals and other business establishments,” said Jason Low, Senior Analyst at Canalys. “On the other hand, vendors are experimenting with new form factors and functionalities with smart speakers. Network operators in South Korea integrated smart speakers into set-top boxes and can add new lifestyle and entertainment services on top of IPTV, powered by voice and video. Looking ahead, the focus will be on uncovering the full potential of smart assistants, a direction set by Amazon and Google and echoed by many local market leaders. We will soon enter an era where smart assistants will require a new form of hardware medium more effective than speakers to advance further.&rdquo […]

  • Bitcoin Daily: Bitfinex Sees Bets Against Bitcoin Double, Thai Watchdog Reviews Crypto License Application

    Thailand’s financial watchdog has published the names of seven firms that have applied for a license to operate in the cryptocurrency space within the country, Cryptovest reported. Trading sites such as Coin Asset, TDAX, Bitcoin Co. Ltd., Bitkub Online and Cash2coins have filed for a license with Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). And two dealers, Digital Coin and Coins TH, have put in applications through the agency. In March, the country’s Digital Asset Management Act BE 2561 law was approved. With that law, companies in the crypto space had to make a request to the Thailand’s SEC no later than Tuesday (Aug. 14) for a license. Even so, firms will be able to work with clients while the agency looks over their applications. After the SEC reviews the applications, they will then proceed to the country’s finance ministry. In other news, cryptocurrencies seem to be holding their own after a tumultuous few days, MarketWatch reported. Bitcoin’s price was relatively stable on Thursday (Aug. 16), compared to earlier in the week. The popular cryptocurrency was priced at $6,271.95 as of 7:30 p.m., according to CoinDesk, but it had fallen below the $6,000 level on Tuesday. Overall, the total value of all digital currencies was about $209 million, according to MarketWatch, and was $20 billion away from the market’s low on Monday (Aug. 13). Two hours before close on the exchange of the CME Group, only 3,752 August bitcoin futures contracts had been exchanged. By comparison, 7,222 of those contracts had changed hands on Wednesday (Aug. 15). Elsewhere, data from one of the largest crypto exchanges suggests that more investors are interested in betting against bitcoin than there were earlier in the month, MarketWatch reported. In fact, Bitfinex has seen those wagers double. More specifically, the short interest on Bitfinex has grown from 18,000 BTC on the first day of August to 36,000 BTC on Wednesday. There are some restrictions, however, as customers can’t borrow more than 70 percent of the digital currency in a short sale. […]

  • SoFi Eyes $1B Credit Line, Post Q2 Loss

    Student loan refinancing company Social Finance (SoFi) is looking for a loan of its own: The company is in talks with banks to secure a revolving credit line of as much as $1 billion after posting a second-quarter loss. According to Bloomberg, sources have revealed that SoFi has approached several financial institutions about the potential loan. The deal would come before an initial public offering, which is expected to happen sometime next year. There were reports last month that SoFi had been in talks for a $500 million unsecured credit line that could be used for acquisitions. Terms of the loan aren’t set, according to sources. A spokesman for SoFi declined to comment. Earlier this month, the company posted a second-quarter adjusted loss of about $200 million. A source revealed that the company took a one-time charge on loans originated before the second quarter — and the $200 million figure is before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. “Our Q2 financial results were negatively impacted by significantly lowered valuation of legacy loans and assets, as well as the slow start to increasing prices in the face of a rising interest rate environment,” the company said in a shareholder letter. SoFi has been trying to transform itself into a broad online financial-services company as it works towards an IPO, but has faced a number of obstacles. Last year, the company lost a number of key executives, including Mike Cagney, its co-founder, chairman and chief executive, who was ousted after sexual harassment allegations. This past May, SoFi’s new Chief Executive Officer Anthony Noto wrote his first quarterly missive to shareholders highlighting the company’s mission and values. Noto used the letter to highlight key milestones such as its SoFi at Work program, which hooks up with companies to help employees pay down their student loans and other debt. He added that SoFi plans to expand its robo advisory services to offer individual stocks and other investment asset classes. […]

  • DevOps Adoption Will Accelerate Over the Next Two Years in the Financial Services Sector

    New research commissioned by managed services provider Claranet has revealed that there is significant appetite for embracing a DevOps approach to services in the financial services sector, with many looking to scale up their efforts as part of a wider application-first philosophy. Despite this, there are still hurdles to overcome if DevOps is to become the modus operandi in the sector, with a greater emphasis on cloud usage and automation needed if this is to be achieved. The research report Beyond Digital Transformation: Reality check for European IT and Digital Leader, analyses the survey results of 750 IT professionals from across Europe. It found that 30 per cent of financial services organisations have already made the transition to a DevOps approach, with a further 61 per cent expected to make the switch over the next two years. This is a positive sign that businesses in the sector are looking to take full advantage of the software revolution and are taking steps to make themselves as agile as possible in a bid to improve the customer experience. Commenting on the findings, John Hayes-Warren, Head of Vertical Sectors at Claranet, said: “There is a clear desire amongst IT leaders in the finance sector to engage with a DevOps service delivery methodology more readily. The financial services sector is going through an unprecedented period of disruption so now more than ever, seizing and maintaining competitive advantage requires companies to be ambitious, adaptable, and open to fresh approaches. It is therefore encouraging that organisations are becoming more aware of the benefits that taking an application-centric focus can bring, in terms of greater business agility and increased operational efficiency.” Despite this, there remain barriers to maximising the full potential of DevOps. Almost three quarters of survey respondents (71 per cent) who said their business has migrated to a DevOps approach reported challenges of some kind. Most commonly, IT leaders found that operations teams themselves were limiting the potential of DevOps (in 26 per cent of cases), and others found that a lack of clear business objectives within the management structure made it harder to define a DevOps strategy that would deliver against corporate goals (26 per cent of cases). This underlines how organisation-wide change is needed – both in terms of day-to-day processes and general company philosophy – if DevOps methodologies are to be a greater success. To help temper these issues, Hayes-Warren believes that IT leaders need to increase their efforts to automate applications and processes by making full use of the capabilities of cloud, as well as foster a change in culture so that all members of the IT department can be brought on board with the DevOps way of thinking. He added: “DevOps can’t simply be implemented overnight – it requires a period of iterative change in which both the technology and the people at an organisation need to be made ready for it. Increased automation is essential to achieving the agility that characterises a successful DevOps approach, so businesses need to take steps to implement new measures to facilitate this. One way to do this is to make a shift from an emphasis on continuous integration (CI) to one of continuous development (CD). Effectively, this method enables organisations to move away from application updates being released on a fixed schedule, to one where updates can be rolled out once or twice a week. Combining this with the flexibility of cloud will deliver maximum benefits.” He concluded: “Perhaps most importantly, successfully integrating DevOps into wider project management is also about cultural change. Automation and processes such as CD are key, but they can only be used to their full potential if everyone in the IT department is on board with any changes. Working with a managed services provider can be effective in this area, as a third-party partner can assist in implementing and integrating these practices into the company’s wider approach. Changes should be gradual and made with long-term goals in mind, and IT teams need to be reassured that their jobs won’t be usurped by automation, but that it will give them the ability to do more interesting things for the business.” The post DevOps Adoption Will Accelerate Over the Next Two Years in the Financial Services Sector appeared first on The Fintech Times. […]

  • Watch: New Bitcoin Cash Logo Unveil

    For those of you who were not present at the London #BitcoinRebirth party, the ‘new’ Bitcoin Cash (BCH) logo was unveiled in a retro Streetfighter video to 200 BCH developers, miners, merchants and media. The new logo has already caused controversy in the old segwit bitcoin community as the key message is simply: Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin. Party host Calvin Ayre, owner of CoinGeek; the news portal and biggest mining operator in BCH, explained: “BCH fulfils the original mandate of Bitcoin – a low transaction fee digital currency – the segwit coin does not. So the statement is correct: Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin. “Bitcoin will fulfil its destiny to bring more economic freedom to the disadvantaged of the world. Bitcoin will bring banking to the unbanked and allow new business models to improve the quality of life for everyone.”The post Watch: New Bitcoin Cash Logo Unveil appeared first on The Fintech Times. […]

  • What Makes a Successful Investor?

    A new study commissioned by Zopa, the pioneering financial services company, has revealed the interesting characteristics shared by British investors. The research, which polled 2,000 people with an investment of at least £2,000, found some surprising traits. While all Britons have their own individual superstitions and idiosyncrasies, those who invested were more likely to own a blue car than any other colour (one in five), one in four shunned going to the cinema and a third tuned in to Radio 2. Additionally, almost half expressed a strong dislike of Marmite compared to the national average of 33% of Brits. Andrew Lawson, Chief Product Officer at Zopa, said, “We all have our own habits and rituals, and this research highlights just a few of those amongst people who choose to invest. Even if you don’t have a blue car or listen to Radio 2, there are plenty of options for people who want to start putting their money to work. One option could be peer-to-peer lending with Zopa, where investors can receive a well-diversified portfolio of low risk loans and a reasonably predictable, stable, and attractive return on their investment.” As well as keeping an eye on their investments, those polled also revealed a number of weird and wonderful objects that they own. In fact, eight people admitted keeping teeth; seven owned toys without having children; six had wild animals; five people kept a skull or skeleton; four people owned fossils; three had fancy dress masks; two had a bow and arrow; and one person had a didgeridoo. A belief in rituals also ranked highly on the quirks shared by investors, and the results threw up a number of interesting individual traits amongst those asked, including: Not touching 1p coins Never doing laundry on New Year’s Day, to avoid washing away the years good luck Making sure banknotes all face the same way in a wallet, with smallest monetary value at front Saying St Antony three times to help find something you’ve lost Using odd numbers Dr. Becky Spelman, Cognitive Behavioural, Psychodynamic & EMDR Practitioner, said of the results, “Investors are people who are good at dealing with both the daily routine and the unexpected. They are adventurous, but also sensible. They often engage in a range of practices that make it easier (and more fun) to manage these contrasts on an emotional level. Engaging in these rituals can help maintain a sense of calm when thinking about the future, so they have a positive and useful effect.” The research was commissioned by Zopa, which reached the £3bn lent-to-date milestone in January 2018. Zopa offers a range of peer to peer investment products, including the Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA). It hopes to achieve another set of exciting milestones over the coming year as it launches a bank in order to broaden its product offering to customers. The post What Makes a Successful Investor? appeared first on The Fintech Times. […]

  • Looks flat and simple to navigate aBitcoin will stay at the $6,000 mark for now, but will hit $15,000 by Christmas

    CoinCorner’s co-founder, Danny Scott says: “For the last few months, the price of Bitcoin has been at $6,000 which we believe will continue for a while but we predict the price will reach $15,000 by the end of the year. We take this view because the retail market is continuing to expand at a very healthy rate based on both our own data and industry trends. “To add to this, we are also seeing huge amounts of investment coming through from High Net Worth individuals and institutes purchasing Bitcoin in high volumes. This all adds to the increase and interest of the cryptocurrency.&rdquo […]

  • 8.17.18 Your morning briefing

    The information you need to start your day, from PaymentsSource and around the Web. Today: Google Pay adds more banks; Diebold Nixdorf scores a win in patent fight; Ant dominates Asian fintech investment; California may allow cryptocurrency political donations. […]

  • The Expertise That Will Accelerate Your Growth

    Financial services has always been competitive when it comes to talent. Headlines blare when a team is “poached” or a top trader leaves. But when it comes to people, a firm’s success relies on more than just the top contributors to the bottom line. That’s one of the key findings from our latest research, the FIS Readiness Report 2018. Based on a survey of more than 1,500 senior decision-makers at financial services firms around the world, we discovered that firms that invest in digital expertise are growing nearly twice as fast as their peers. Why is digital so important? As revenue models across the buy side, sell side and insurance come under threat, firms have to invest in the areas that accelerate growth. And our analysis finds that a comprehensive digital innovation strategy has a close correlation to growth. Addressing the human side of the strategy makes sense. According to our research, 22 percent of executives say organizational culture is one of the biggest barriers to digital innovation, while 15 percent point to an insufficient understanding of digital issues. Another 14 percent cite talent gaps. The top performing firms in our survey – the Readiness Leaders – understand this, and they’re already taking action: recruiting for new digital skills, appointing leadership roles with an innovation remit and encouraging a more open and innovative culture across functions. By contrast, our research finds that the rest of the industry has been more varied – and less intensive – in its approach to digital innovation. The approach of the Readiness Leaders highlights that the rest of the industry doesn’t fully understand the transformational value that digital innovation brings. Used to traditional industry business models and ways of working, these institutions can be slow to recognize the full extent of the opportunities and threats brought about by emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI). And like the Readiness Leaders, some firms are adopting new senior leadership structures to help direct their efforts. For example, HSBC set up a technology advisory board comprising CEOs, scientists and entrepreneurs from China, India, Israel and the U.S. to help steer its digital strategy. Others are turning to the tech sector to acquire digital expertise. Goldman Sachs, for instance, recently recruited the former head of Amazon Web Services’ AI laboratory to spearhead its AI strategy. But vying for tech-sector talent brings new demands: to compete with practices in high-tech firms in Silicon Valley, for example, BlackRock has introduced a new flexible vacation policy for its employees. The cultural aspect of a digital innovation strategy is also central. As financial services firms bring new ways of working and new business models into play through digital innovation, they will need to adapt performance management practices and incentive structures. For example, the real pay-offs of emerging technologies such as AI and distributed ledger may be some years away, so different success measures may need to be applied for top talent in these areas – rather than short-term metrics based on financial performance. So what can firms learn from the Readiness Report’s findings? To put it simply, remember the people side of digital innovation. A digital innovation strategy will increasingly separate the industry’s winners and losers. The top performers are putting significant energy into getting the right expertise at the leadership level to help oversee innovation projects and identify which emerging technologies to pursue. They are also adapting their organizational culture to ensure the best outcomes from their innovation strategies. To catch up to the Readiness Leaders, firms must invest in digital talent – whether that’s hiring expertise or working with innovative partners – and create a culture that is truly open to new ideas. Only then will they be able to modernize their operating model and create new value for clients. About the Readiness Research For our 2018 research, FIS surveyed more than 1,500 senior-level decision-makers across the buy-side, sell-side and insurance industries. As in 2017, we assessed their capabilities across six key operational pillars and factored in their outsourcing strategy. We isolated the top 20 percent of industry respondents based on the index scoring. This group, the Readiness Leaders, achieved the highest index scores at an overall level, which is an aggregate of the scores for each of the pillars. FIS then calculated how the priorities of firms with modernized operating models differ from their peers’ and the impact on their growth strategies. The data also reveals which operational pillars have the most significant impact on performance, providing us with a roadmap to help the rest of the industry modernize and improve their growth readiness. Fisreadinessreport.com […]

  • Pangea and Digital Knights join the Temenos MarketPlace

    Temenos (SIX: TEMN), the banking software company, today announces that Pangea, a firm specialized in finding and managing the best sales resources, and Digital Knights, which manages product development resources and projects, have both joined the Temenos MarketPlace as resource providers. The firms become the first resource partners on MarketPlace, expanding and enriching the burgeoning fintech ecosystem. Pangea, launched in 2017, is a Geneva-based firm which finds, recruits and manages sales and presales resources on behalf of its corporate customers. The model is predicated on the idea that an intermediary is necessary to bring together the best sales resources with the best companies. For sales people, it offers best-in-class compensation and training combined with streamlined processes and varied assignments, helping Pangea to attract the best talent. For Pangea’s corporate clients, it offers first-rate resources but without the hassle and risks of recruiting them, managing them or removing them if they aren’t a good fit. Pangea works with dozens of companies in the fintech and life sciences space, including MarketPlace providers Blue Code and Metaco. Digital Knights, a Swiss-based workforce marketplace with operations in Berlin, specializing in the due diligence of technical experts and product teams. Through its proprietary due diligence process, Digital Knights has curated a world-class network of plug and play product teams across Europe with expertise in specialized technologies (AI, Blockchain, Big Data, Internet of Things etc.) within the banking sector. Based on a client’s requests, Digital Knights assembles a customized product team of developers, designers and product managers to build cutting-edge custom digital products to help solve core business problems. Digital Knights’ network has worked with a variety of players within the fintech space, such as Transferwise and Monese, and its services will now be available to MarketPlace providers, as well as Temenos clients. Keilian Knudsen, Founder & Head of Strategy at Digital Knights, added: “It is a real pleasure to be part of the Temenos MarketPlace and bring value to the Temenos community. As digital disruption is occurring at every level in the banking industry, we are excited to give all community members access to leading plug and play product teams to help build the next generation of leading digital products.” Ben Robinson, Chief Strategy Officer at Temenos commented: “The idea of the Temenos MarketPlace was to create a two-sided platform putting together fintech companies and banks, the former needing a route to market and the latter wanting greater access to innovation. We have now realized we can turbocharge this platform by expanding the ecosystem around it. We started by creating relationships with accelerators and innovation hubs to help us access the best fintech firms and to have those firms build natively on our platform. We are now building up relationships with resource partners who can help our community to generate even more value from being part of the MarketPlace.” Marc Baumgartner, CEO at Pangea, added: “We’re honored to be connected to Temenos and part of the Temenos MarketPlace. We see great synergy in working with Temenos and its MarketPlace providers to add sales expertise and talent for scaling globally.&rdquo […]

  • TANDEM BANK WELCOMES THE PUBLICATION OF NEW CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY

    The Competition and Markets Authority and Financial Conduct Authority are enforcing new rules that require UK Banks to publish information on how likely customers are to recommend their services to friends and family. This means displaying it in their branches, on their website and apps. Tandem Bank CEO Ricky Knox says, “People should be able to make informed decisions about who they bank with. Thanks to these new measures you can walk into a bank or look on their website and easily determine the quality of their service, just like you could with a hygiene rating or reviews on TripAdvisor for a restaurant. Customer centricity is no longer just a buzzword and all banks now have to base their business on delivering great service. Challengers like Tandem have the advantage of being oriented around customer need from the start, we’re going to lead the pack.” Moreover, banks now are obliged to disclose how often they have had to report security breaches. The GDPR already requires all institutions to report data breaches within 72 hours of detection to the relevant regulator. Knox adds, “There’s a real risk with legacy systems. People assume that the big banks are best equipped to protect their data, but in some cases it’s actually quite the opposite. There are a lot of vulnerabilities. Newer entrants don’t have these outdated structures to contend with: our systems are built from the ground up with data in mind and there aren’t the same risks there.&rdquo […]

  • iPayment re-brands as Paysafe

    Following its recent US acquisition of iPayment Holdings, Inc., Paysafe Group announces today it plans to sunset the iPayment brand and replace it with its own recently re-launched brand identity and ‘Plug into Paysafe’ proposition. The over-hauled Paysafe brand strategy, which was revealed in May, and is articulated through a new ‘Plug into Paysafe’ strapline, emphasises the global payment provider’s commitment to delivering an unrivalled payments platform which merchants, partners, developers and consumers can ‘plug into’. Once plugged in, the one stop Paysafe payments platform gives access to a unique portfolio of payments capabilities from processing, to cash solutions, to point of sale technology. The strategy and plans behind the iPayment re-brand decision will be shared in person with approximately 200 of iPayment’s ISO and agent partners at their annual Partner Conference which takes place today in Kissimmee, Florida. According to Paysafe’s North America CEO of Payment Processing, Todd Linden, the re-brand of iPayment is more than just a change of name and logo, he argues it marks an industry milestone as two leading payments players come together with a shared vision to deliver something very different in North America. Linden commented: “As a result of the iPayment acquisition, Paysafe is now one of the leading payment processors in the US and it makes sense for us to capitalise on this strengthened position and go to market through one consistent brand strategy and vision. Our new ‘Plug into Paysafe’ brand positioning has resonated really well with our customers and partners and the iPayment team are enthusiastic about taking advantage of it as we merge together to deliver a truly unique payments offering in North America. I’m confident we have the opportunity to do something very bold and special in the payments space – these are exciting times.” The Paysafe brand will replace the parent brand, iPayment Holding, Inc., as well as its iPayment Capital brand with immediate effect. iPayment’s Annual Partner Conference 2018, which takes place today and tomorrow, will provide nearly 200 of iPayment’s ISO and agent partners an exclusive sneak peek into future offerings, including new technology and tools, as well as business and product opportunities designed to generate new revenue streams. The event, which has been running for over 10 years, is well established within the industry as a strong networking occasion, and a payments calendar highlight, amongst both industry organisations as well as professionals representing all parts of the payments ecosystem. As well as thought-provoking keynote and panel sessions, it also features a product showcase from approximately 35 industry vendors. The conference is supported by title sponsor First Data, as well as premier sponsors, American Express, Visa/Authorize.Net and Iris CRM. […]

  • ID Finance moves towards near prime lending as it reports 97% revenue growth in first half of 2018

    ID Finance, the emerging markets fintech company has reported 97 per cent revenue growth and revenues of $90.1 million for the first half of 2018 following continued strong growth of its LatAm and European operations. The data science, credit scoring and digital finance company issued $141m in loans in the first six months of the year, a 78 per cent increase on the same period last year. Founded in 2012 and now headquartered in Barcelona, ID Finance operates in seven countries across CIS region, Europe and LatAm with its R&D located in Belarus’ Hi-Tech Park. The favourable business environment in Belarus will allow ID Finance to benefit in excess of $3.5m in efficiency savings by 2020. The company has increased its headcount by 17 per cent from c. 550 to c.650 staff across its global operations and has grown its customer base by 1.2 m to almost six million registered users. “We continue to deliver strong results and execute to plan. Our first half performance reflects the investment choices we have made allowing us to grow our LatAm operations, our product portfolio and to focus on serving our growing near prime customer base with longer term loan solutions. Our diversified business model allows us to de-risk political and economic factors while increasing revenues. We’re very happy with our revenue growth and the performance of all our geographies,” comments Boris Batine, co-founder and CEO, ID Finance. ID Finance uses both traditional and alternative sources of data to improve access to financial services and helps customers build their credit histories over time to access more competitive financial products. In March, it incorporated behavioural biometrics into its AI based fraud scoring engine using type recognition to eliminate fraud, boost loan approvals and reduce the incidence of non-performing loans. Across all of ID Finance’s businesses the financial impact of the biometric authentication system is an estimated $2.8m for 2018. The company is also on track to extend the technology to cover mobile keypads and touchscreen devices by 2019. The system will capture patterns such as the amount of pressure applied to the screen and how quickly fingers swipe and type. […]