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The FinTech news/views that caught my eye this week

FinTech startup Prodigy Finance lands $240m funding led by Index Ventures to expand post-graduate loans

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Twitter backer IVP in talks to buy stake in £1bn TransferWise

N26 now has 500,000 customers for its bank of the future

UK banks abandon High Street: Ten branches shut every week

Dubai-based FinTech NOW Money raises $700,000 from US-based VCs

Starling: The app-only bank disrupting the industry with its gender balance

Monzo CEO on why challenger banks are now getting to the business end of a game of poker

Ezetap raises $16 million in funding round led by JS Capital

Oh, this is getting silly now. Barclaycard trials self-service ice cream van

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

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The FinTech news/views that caught my eye this week

By me…Interview: Carlos Abarca, Chief Information Officer, TSB

TSB Q&A

Monitise share price jumps after Fiserv increases takeover offer to £75m

Harrods Bank sold to digital challenger Tandem

People’s Bank of China has FinTech on its mind

#FinTech expert @sammaule to join British digital banking startup

Metro Bank promotes digital head to Chief Information Officer

Drivers avoid pay-by-phone parking bays, prefer cash, says AA

Contactless transactions take UK debit and credit card use to record high

Railsbank raises $1.2m led by Firestartr

TSB lambasts competition watchdog for failing to fix “broken” banking market

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

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The FinTech news/views that caught my eye this week

Kicking things off with a shameless plug…By me. FinTech Week London 2017: PSD2 and regulation update panel

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German FinTech factory Finleap, the platform behind solarisBank, raises EUR39 million

Visa has elevated own interests above those of Americans in its cashless challenge, says ATMIA

Monzo begins slow roll-out of its current account

BNY Mellon appoints tech-focused Charles Scharf as its CEO

Uh, it turns out the new £10 note has a pretty big problem

Apple Pay lands at Starling Bank

Finally! Credit and debit card surcharges to be banned

Fund Recs pulls out of European FinTech Awards due to all-male panels

Barclays bPay, a £20 contactless pay wristband, given away for free in latest sign bank’s wearable has flopped

London Stock Exchange Group collaborating with IBM to develop securities data blockchain solution for European SMEs

TSB to roll-out iris scanning tech

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

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The FinTech news/views that caught my eye this week

ANZ/Westpac blockchain trial for bank guarantees

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Worldpay boss blames Brexit for sale to rival

China Rapid Finance exceeds 20m cumulative loan milestone

Bank of England publishes summaries of the third round of POCs completed by its FinTech Accelerator

Only 14% Brits would switch to a new digital bank. 7 out of 10 plan to stay with their current bank or wouldn’t consider moving to a digital player

UK FinTech Revolut raises $66 million, adds Bitcoin

Cash no longer king as contactless payments soar in UK stores

Santander buys stakes in three startups as Botin pushes into FinTech

Cash is dying. But what are we losing along with it?

Almost no big retailers support Bitcoin, and it’s not hard to guess why

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

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FinTech news and views that caught my eye this week

Monzo banks on current accounts as losses climb to £7.9 million

Some of the UK’s hottest FinTechs went down, including Monzo and Revolut

Former Barclays CEO warns banks of ‘Kodak moment,’ pushes to embrace FinTech

Freeze

Good read…Money2020 – the clue is in the name

And another one…Seven signs of over-hyped FinTech

Kiwibank flags trouble with its SAP-based core banking system project

One billion journeys using contactless payment have now been made across London’s transport network

Former COO of Deutsche Bank joins MortgageGym

Dear banks, you suck and I love you

And from the retail technology world…

Tesco brings mobile and contactless rewards to millions of UK supermarket shoppers

Amazon/Whole Foods deal piques US interest in Ocado

Wal-Mart is winning over Amazon’s merchants

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

 

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Queue busting: mobiles at the ready

We all hate queues, but Vaidas Adomauskas really hates them. So much so that he co-founded WoraPay to address this ever present in-store problem

WoraPay_MasterPass_BIGFounded in 2012, the venture, which is backed by VC firm Entrée Capital, allows customers to buy food and drink and pay in advance with their mobiles. They are notified when their order is ready and they can collect it en route to the office etc.

As Adomauskas (who has taken on the role of CEO) puts it, “the mobile phone gives us a great tool to pay remotely, so we should not need to queue or wait until someone brings us a card terminal. We found a way to solve this.”

“Our platform supports many order, shop and pay without the queue scenarios including: order food and drinks to beat the queue and pick up straight away (OrderAndPay); shop and pay directly from the self-serve cabinet in the café or the retail store and thus leave out a queue at the till (PickAndPay); pay at the petrol pump without the need for self-service terminals; pay at the table or order to the table at a restaurant or venue and more. Any mobile wallet (a payment app), including retailers’ own branded apps, can be integrated and work with the WoraPay platform,” he adds.

The FinTech launched in the Baltics and in November 2015 made its debut in the UK. It is working on a pilot of its technology with Gather & Gather, after they were introduced by the Innovation Labs team at Lloyds Banking Group (LBG).

The pilot came about from an event the startup attended, which LBG hosted as part of its collaboration with Startupbootcamp’s FinTech accelerator programme. While Adomauskas was waiting his turn to present, Richard Jackson, WoraPay UK’s MD, noticed the internal coffee shop near to where the event was being held. Working with Daria Mitaenko, a Senior Manager at LBG Innovation Labs, WoraPay teamed with Gather & Gather, which runs the food and beverage counters at all the Group’s offices. Following an initial test run at the Chiswell Street, London office, this was extended to its other London sites, as well as to offices in Halifax and Bristol.

“Since we started working with LBG over 20% of their office employees have used our mobile order and pay solution within their office cafés across the UK and Northern Ireland. This has saved thousands of man hours (equivalent to about 150 man days) each month from not having to queue for teas or coffee, but more importantly impressive revenue growth has been seen by the retailer,” claims Adomauskas.

WoraPay is now in discussions with Gather & Gather about a possible roll-out across the entire LBG estate, as well as with other external catering companies to launch the service (it is now running at Notting Dale Village Café, for instance, operated by Good Eating Company). “We are finalising deals with many more, especially with the ones that LBG Cardnet has landed a deal with via our partnership.”

Elsewhere, there has been integration with Masterpass, the digital payment service from Mastercard. This will allow users of WoraPay’s mobile wallet WioPay to tap into one-click payments. The partnership was also established through the Startupbootcamp FinTech programme, after WoraPay was mentored by Mastercard employees.

“When companies of such size partner with small FinTech startups you know you are on to something that is of real value. They do not waste time on just any idea. They pick the best. And we are very happy to work together to achieve mutual success,” says Adomauskas.

What has been retailers’ reaction thus far? In a challenging market, what’s to stop a lazy retailer thinking along the lines of, customers know that queueing is part and parcel of the in-store experience, so we should concentrate our tech spend elsewhere? “We have had great acceptance from the industry as retailers start realising that our services can actually help them to increase sales. Sure, this is an innovation and it takes time to learn, both for the retailers how to present it and to the customers, how to change their habits. Nevertheless, once customers try it out a few times they start questioning how they lived without it before.”

He concedes, however, that working with big retailers is never a straightforward process. Nimble startups are used to working at a fast pace, unencumbered by legacy systems and processes. But for the old guard, it takes time to bring in new services and get agreements in place. “We are a startup, therefore we are moving very fast. If a retailer says yes during a lunch meeting, they can have the service up and running the next morning. Nevertheless, most of them are not used to such speeds so we need to adjust to the speed they dictate.”

He continues: “We have proven case studies that introducing the service increases gross sales for the retailer by average about 5%. Every day (and night) I ask why for some retailers this is not enough of a motivation to make decisions here and now. We know the answer which is long processes and all possible risks that companies need to mitigate upfront. Nevertheless, this still keeps us thinking how we can help retailers to make these decisions faster.”

So, what can we expect to see from the startup over the next 12 months? “You should expect to see more and more retailers using our service and, at the same time, the growth of the user base. We are a technology provider to retailers so you might not see our brand out there so often, nevertheless, rest assured, if you do not need to queue to pay, most likely the service is powered by WoraPay technology.”

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

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The FinTech news and views that have caught my eye so far this week

An audience with Spencer Lake: Goodbye HSBC, hello FinTech

Good read…Money2020 – the clue is in the name

And another one…Seven signs of over-hyped FinTech

Big UK banks slip down global ranking, but challengers make up ground

UK challenger Tide raises $14m in one of the largest Series A funding rounds closed by a FinTech this year

UK Finance CEO Stephen Jones lays out his vision and plan for the new organisation

Former COO of Deutsche Bank joins MortgageGym

Worldpay takeover tussle sees shares surge more than 30%

Dear banks, you suck and I love you

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

 

 

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The FinTech news that caught my eye this week

Good hire! HSBC hires Diana Biggs to lead business model innovation

And another one…Banco Santander appoints Lindsey Argalas as Chief Digital and Innovation Officer

What absolute twaddle…We have Apple to thank for a decade of FinTech revolution, City A.M.

Twenty Thirty launches $50m Pillar ICO to “reclaim digital lives”

FinTech stat of the week. 38% of the adult UK population used a banking app in 2016

UK falls behind Israel and US for early-adoption of FinTech and still largely a cash-based society

Cash ‘lives on’ after 50 years of ATMs. Fidor Bank said this week: “With the ATM turning 50, it’s time we accepted a new reality that cash has reached its final days” Final days? Please…

FinTech poised to be embraced by the mainstream, EY. “It really is now a critical time for traditional financial services companies. If they haven’t already, they need to urgently reassess their business models to ensure they learn how to meet their customers’ rapidly changing needs. Disruption is no longer just a risk – it is an undisputable reality.”

Yikes! Apple forces Westpac to pull messaging payment app

And because we all love FinTech listicles, CB Insights reveals the FinTech 250 List

And from the retail technology world…

Donald Trump, annoyed that Jeff Bezos is far more successful than him, threatens Amazon with an ‘internet tax‘. Amazon be all like, yep, you got us there, Mr President. We don’t pay an internet tax. But do get back to us when it becomes an actual thing.

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

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The FinTech news that caught my eye this week

UK challenger bank, Atom, has secured £30 million of new funding, bagging the Tier 2 capital from the British Business Bank. It’s been a month of two halves (Brian) for the new entrant. Alongside the £30 million boost, there was the postponement of plans to launch a current account over concerns about forthcoming Competition and Markets Authority Open Banking standards that make the market too “ambiguous and uncertain”. In addition, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently launched a review of current accounts, which will not deliver initial findings until next year.

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Many FinTechs have been frothing at the mouth over the Open Banking revolution, but not Atom. Speaking to the FT, Chief Executive, Mark Mullen, said the current account launch would be “certainly not in 2017, and maybe not even in 2018”.

Klarna gets a full banking licence. TechCrunch had the best coverage of this story IMHO.

“We want to be part of reshaping the retail banking industry. New regulations … set the right prerequisites for the destruction of that industry but it needs a Ryanair to come along. We want to be that player,” Klarna Chief Executive Sebastian Siemiatkowski told the Financial Times.

Yikes. Bonus points, I guess, for not being the billionth person to say ‘we want to be the Uber of banking’, but Ryanair? So that’s cheap but crap with horrendous customer service and an obnoxious boss, right?

Peeps can now buy products they discover via Instagram using Amazon’s payments platform.

The e-tailer has partnered with Moda Operandi to integrate Amazon Pay directly within the clothing retailer’s Instagram posts.

I like it. I like it a lot.

Bad week for Tesco. First the supermarket chain was hit by a home shopping glitch affecting thousands of orders. Then hundreds of Tesco Bank customers were unable to access their online accounts after the company suffered a second day of computer failures.

Remember the great Tesco Bank hack of 2016? Would you bank with these people? Me either.

Apple Pay expands to 40 more banks around the US, UK, and China…Every little bit helps, but Apple Pay and other mobile payment services will not go mainstream until they bolt on additional offerings (transaction-based incentives etc). To quote my tech savvy girlfriend, who refuses to use Apple Pay: “What’s the point? I can use my contactless card, it’s quicker than Apple Pay and less hassle.”

About me: Freelance journalist specialising in FinTech, banking technology and retail technology. Former Editor of FStech, Retail Systems and IBS Journal. Further info here.

 

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The freelancer life

So, I’m departing IBS Intelligence (where I headed up their monthly magazine, IBS Journal, and daily online news service) and will be available for FinTech, banking technology and retail technology freelance work from July.

I’ve been working in technology and business journalism for nearly 20 years. During this time I have held senior editorial positions at and contributed to a number of business and technology-related publications, including FStech, Retail Systems and Financial World. More information on that here.

Check out some examples of my work here.

If you are looking to commission freelance work (features, articles, interviews etc), you can contact me at: scott.thompson@scottthompsonjournalist.com