A brief look back at week 44 at some of the news that’s not always picked up.
WeBank to showcase fintech solutions at Singapore Fintech Festival
We start with news that WeBank, the first digital-only bank in China, will showcase its fintech solutions at the Singapore Fintech Festival which takes place from Monday 11th November to Wednesday 13th November.
Railsbank is also participating in the festival and will be there in force.
Since its creation in 2014, WeBank said it has maintained a clear focus on providing inclusive financial services to underbanked individuals and small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
WeBank's first loan product called Weilidai - an unsecured consumption loan offered through WeChat and QQ's wallets - has become one of the most accessible forms of financing for China's mass market. Some 75% of WeBank's individual borrowers are blue-collar and the average loan size is only $1,180.
WeBank's SME borrowing customers are all relatively small, private companies, with ten employees on average. For 66% of these SMEs, this is their first time receiving a loan from a financial institution, with an average loan size of US $30,000.
Driving this success is fintech. In particular, WeBank embraces the "ABCD" of fintech (AI, Blockchain, Cloud computing, Big Data) as its strategic focuses and is an active leader in their related research and application within the financial sector.
During the three-day exhibition in Singapore, WeBank will showcase its "ABCD" fintech applications and solutions. Notable technologies include China's first enterprise-grade federated learning platform open sourced by WeBank - Federated AI Technology Enabler (FATE), as well as WeBank's comprehensive blockchain solutions.
New POS platform powered by fraud prevention and decisioning technology
Over in Chicago, we heard fintech company Amount’́s announcement on Amount Pay, an installment point-of-sale (POS) financing solution which is launching in Q1 2020.
Amount Pay uses Amount's decisioning engines to support in-person and e-commerce applications for merchants, while also using Amount's account-opening platform, Amount 360, to automate fraud prevention and verifications. Additionally, the platform includes Amount's Partner Portal, which enables bank partners and merchants to manage and monitor POS program performance and gain insights through real-time reporting tools. Additionally, merchant integration is a seamless process accomplished via API.
"We have always been focused on enhancing digital products for our bank partners, and now we are using the same technology to expand those partnerships into additional products like point-of-sale," said Adam Hughes, President and COO of Amount. "Amount Pay unlocks POS for our partners and enables them to go head-to-head with other leading fintech POS lenders while providing retailers with the credibility and stability that goes along with working with an established financial institution."
Verdigris opens pilot programme with The Arizona Fintech Sandbox
Still in the US, Verdigris, which aims to bring low-cost banking to all, announced the opening of its pilot programme. Made possible by the Arizona FinTech Sandbox program, it will allow the first customers to use the Verdigris solution to benefit from the low-cost, easy to use access and provide an important test of the platform prior to broader availability.
The Verdigris solution – following the pilot period and upon regulatory approval - will enable customers access to a real, insured banking account, an easy-to-use app to manage deposits and transfers, and a no-overdraft debit card with no transaction fees.
"Hard working individuals and families deserve access to real, low-cost banking with no surprises and no hidden costs," said Michael Coghlan CEO of Verdigris. "This Arizona pilot shows continued progress on Verdigris' commitment to take cost out of banking while democratizing access to basic financial services."
Today, over 25% of households in America lack full access to the regulated banking system while others pay too much for their banking, or alternative financial products. The reason, said Verdigris, is that most banks can't profitably bank those who are low deposit amount and high transaction volume. Legacy systems make it too expensive.
First Middle East based payment service provider to enable online merchants to accept UnionPay cards across MENA region
Across to Riyadh and HyperPay, one of the MENA region's leading fintech companies, announced a key strategic partnership with one of the world's leading bankcard companies, UnionPay International, with the aim of enabling fast and secure cross-border online payments in the MENA region.
As a result of this partnership, HyperPay's merchants, across various industries, will be able to accept UnionPay Online Payment (UPOP), known for its convenience and safety for cross-border online payments. The transaction volume of online payments accepted in the Middle East using UnionPay cards grew by over 120% in the first half of 2019.
Muhannad Ebwini, CEO at HyperPay said: "As MENA's trusted payment service provider, we earned our reputation by being quick to respond to the changing needs of our partners. As we continue to actively work on expanding our network of global payment methods, HyperPay will be the first middle east based payment service provider to integrate the UPOP solutions, making the service available to thousands of our online merchants, starting in Saudi Arabia and extending the service across the MENA region."
Checkbook expects big things from Instant Pay
Back in the US and Checkbook, a Silicon Valley payments startup, is expecting significant growth with its new feature Instant Pay.
Instant Pay allows businesses to cash Digital Checks by pushing funds to eligible debit cards within seconds, thereby hastening the transfer of money which otherwise, typically, takes three to five business days.
It is enabled by Visa Direct through CyberSource gateway, Visa's payment management platform. Visa Direct, Visa's real-time push payments platform, helps enable Checkbook to provide a payout service that meets the demands of their customers.
Buckzy Payments delivers real-time cross border payments solution for Finastra's financial institution clients worldwide
Toronto company Buckzy Payments has teaming up with fintech giant Finastra. The company aims to connect Finastra's payment platform, Fusion Global PAYplus, into Buckzy's real-time cross border payments network, via the FusionFabric.cloud platform for open innovation.
"Buckzy's innovative technology is exactly the kind we need to help our financial institution clients facilitate real-time cross border payments for their customers," said Sagive Greenspan, Payments GM, Finastra. "This is an issue that so many banks have been struggling to solve on their own and if we can help them fast-track a cross border real-time payments offering to their clients it will be extremely beneficial. Through our collaboration and FusionFabric.cloud platform we will be able to integrate all of our customers into Buckzy quickly and efficiently."
The move will enable Finastra's Global PAYplus customer base to adopt a real-time international payments network. This will be able to be white-labeled and customized for each individual organization worldwide.
Bahrain to fast-track setup process for global startups
On more general news about help given to startups, it was interesting to read that the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) – the investment promotion agency for the Kingdom of Bahrain in partnership with Web Summit - has created a fast-track setup process for startups globally looking to take advantage of the business environment and startup ecosystem in Bahrain.
The initiative will also enable startups to access the broader MENA region markets with the hyper-connected Kingdom of Bahrain as their launchpad.
Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager of Business Development - Startups at Bahrain EDB said: "International startups can benefit hugely from the entrepreneurial support structure in Bahrain – offering access to capital, talent and new markets. With a hassle-free approach to setting up businesses in Bahrain, there is no better base to scale across the growing $1.5 trillion Gulf market."
Fenergo Digital KYC aims to transform compliance in fight against financial crime
Over in Ireland and Fenergo, the leading provider of digital Client Lifecycle Management solutions (CLM) for financial institutions, announced the product enhancement Digital KYC, a real-time Know Your Customer (KYC) solution for financial institutions seeking to automate and perpetuate KYC compliance reviews.
The rules-driven Digital KYC solution delivers a risk-based approach to ongoing KYC to increase operational efficiency, lower the cost of compliance, achieve regulatory certainty and optimise client experiences.
The API-enabled solution compliments a financial institution's existing CLM suite by automating continuous customer due diligence (CDD) reviews for low to medium-risk clients. This Straight Through Processing (STP) of client onboarding allow compliance staff to focus their efforts on high risk, high value tasks.
Greg Watson, Global Head of Corporate & Institutional Banking, Fenergo, said: "In today's increasingly complex regulatory environment with heightened scrutiny, financial institutions shoulder the burden of highly manual KYC checks performed on an ad-hoc basis. Not only is this time consuming and costly, it leaves financial institutions open to risk. By listening to our client community, we have created a digital KYC solution that replaces error-prone processes with automation, digitalising client journeys while fulfilling regulatory obligations."