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BFC FinTech Monitor (24th April – 12th May)

Stay up-to-date on all the all the latest FinTech news and information from around the world in the BFC FinTech Monitor.

Around the World

  • More than 30 of the largest financial institutions in Europe have declared their intention to create a competitor to Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and other payment giants.
  • Mastercard is working with governments around the world to better understand how to effectively implement smart contracts in digital currencies issued by central banks.
  • The Generalist has released more information on what is going on with the Ant Group and why the tech giant is so important for China.
  • SME Banking Club has compiled a list of the best mobile and internet financial institutions for businesses operating in the post-Soviet space.
  • Fintech startups from Africa, India and Latin America have raised USD 23 billion in funding over the last 3 years.
  • Western Union is preparing to issue cards and launch a marketplace; WhatsApp is relaunching money transfers in Brazil after negotiations with the country’s regulator; and Telegram now allows payments in all chats by using eight built-in payment systems.
  • In Crypto news: financial holding JPMorgan Chase may soon launch a bitcoin investment fund; British fintech startup Revolut has developed a service for withdrawing bitcoins to third-party e-wallets; and Goldman Sachs has created a department for cryptocurrency trading.
  • The digital asset exchange Coinbase has added functionality for buying cryptocurrencies through PayPal. Additionally, PayPal is exploring the possibility of issuing a stablecoin.
  • China plans to provide access to the digital yuan for guests and participants of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Pilot tests of the national digital currency have been carried out in select cities (Beijing, Shenzhen, Suzhou) since last year.

Russia

  • The Central Bank of Russia has presented an updated roadmap for developing its supervisory and regulatory technologies through 2023.
  • The Russian market for artificial intelligence (AI) solutions in 2020 reached USD 291 million, with most of demand coming from the financial sector.
  • In other news from Russian banks: Sber is offering new services; Tinkoff Investments has launched an IPO; and VTB Bank now has contactless ATMs.
  • A few long reads: Will Yandex Be Able to Change Fintech in Russia?; How Cash Loans Will Go Digital in 2021; How Much Will It Take to Connect Mir Cards to Apply Pay?; How Banks are Using AR; and Chat Bots and Other Trends.
  • The Blockchain / Finance Conference will be held in Moscow on May 20, 2021. The conference will feature discussions around the digital ruble, blockchain in banking, the stock market, interbank payments and digital currencies. Register here. Or check out the Robotics of Business Processes conference occurring on the same day.

Ukraine

  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Ukrainian Association of Fintech and Innovation Companies have entered into a partnership agreement within the framework of a four-year project. The main goal of the project is to expand financial inclusion, particularly through financial literacy tools for businesses, promoting open banking and creating a marketplace.
  • The Estonian fintech company SupplierPlus has launched a reverse factoring platform for small- and medium-sized businesses in Ukraine that allows entrepreneurs to receive payments earlier than indicated in deferred payment agreements.

Belarus

  • Belarusian fintech company ID Finance has developed an electronic debit card (Plazo) that features an overdraft option. The product was created for the Spanish market and will eventually also be launched in Mexico, where ID Finance also operates. This could eventually lead to the launch of a full-fledged neobank.

Kazakhstan

  • The National Bank of Kazakhstan has presented the Digital Tenge Report for public discussion. A series of discussions and a pilot project to assess the basic functionality of the payment infrastructure are set to follow in the near future.
  • Kazakhstan is experiencing an acute shortage of IT specialists, with 90% of companies reporting problems in finding the right personnel.
  • AstanaHub Technopark, AIFC Fintech Hub and Bitfury Kazakhstan are launching a global program for the development of corporate innovation in Kazakhstan and other CIS countries.
  • The chairmen of the board of Sberbank Kazakhstan and Alfa-Bank speak about the demand for online services among the population.
  • The volume of non-cash transactions in the first quarter of 2021 increased 2.2 times to KZT 12.5 trillion, with internet transactions accounting for 81.9% of this volume.

Kyrgyzstan

  • The National Bank of Kyrgyzstan will introduce norms for the remote identification of clients, helping reduce the level of operational risks for consumers and increase services provided through remote channels.

Uzbekistan

  • The National Project Management Agency has developed a document proposing that Uzbek residents be allowed to buy and sell bitcoin. The Central Bank of Uzbekistan has yet to comment on the proposal, and the ban on operations with cryptocurrencies is still in effect indefinitely.
  • The Central Bank of Uzbekistan has launched financial literacy podcasts for the public that are available in both Uzbek and Russian on the Spotify and Yandex Music platforms.
  • Uzcard has launched an industry fintech accelerator and USD 1 million corporate venture fund to support startups. Applications for funding are being accepted through June 15, 2021.

 Azerbaijan

  • The Association of Financial Technologies and the Central Bank of Azerbaijan are currently developing a bill to regulate the activities of payment systems and their operators.
  • Kapital Bank has launched the online sales platform Client Profile for small- and medium-sized businesses. The platform allows entrepreneurs and legal entities to create a personal account and apply for financing products without having to open a bank account or connect to an internet banking system.
  • Azer Turk Bank has launched the e-POS virtual payment terminal that allows users to create a link to pay for goods and services that is sent to consumers via SMS or e-mail.
  • The net profit of GoldenPay (the largest payment provider in the Azerbaijani market) more than doubled in 2020.
  • Sri Lankan blockchain startup Tracified will implement a food tracking system in Azerbaijan within the framework of an Asian Development Bank (ADB) project.
  • The first deputy chairman of the board of the International Bank of Azerbaijan and the chief director for retail sales of Kapital Bank discuss the specifics of business.

Armenia

  • Ardshinbank and Russia’s Sberbank have launched instant money transfers by phone number that allow for up to RUB 50,000 (approximately USD 676) to be transferred per day.
  • The chairman of the board of Unibank discusses how the bank plans to build its own ecosystem and what success has been achieved after the introduction of AI for retail lending.

Georgia

  • The National Bank of Georgia invites financial institutions, technology companies and fintechs to take part in a project to develop the digital lari. Currently, all such activities are being undertaken within the framework of a regulatory sandbox.

Moldova

  • Moldova Agroindbank has launched a new mobile application for businesses (MAIBusiness).

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