BFC FinTech Monitor (12th – 24th 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:

  • Bitcoin continues its recovery following a recent collapse. Early, the price of bitcoin fell to USD 30,000 after Chinese authorities restricted its trade within the country. Analysts at JPMorgan believe that instabilities in the cryptocurrency market may lead many large investors to begin to transfer their assets to gold.
  • HSBC has introduced the HSBC Global Wallet, a multi-currency digital wallet for international payments that is targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses that are a part of international supply chains. Currently, its only available in Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S., although this list of countries is expected to expand over time.
  • In other news: a PayPal co-founder has launched Nirvana, a new neobank; TikTok is testing in-app purchases for European markets; eBay will begin lending operations to small- and medium-sized businesses.
  • U.S. regulators are organizing an interagency group to discuss cryptocurrency legislation. The group has already developed a common structure and base of terms for further work.
  • Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group posted a USD 1.1 billion quarterly loss for the first time in seven years. The company explained that the loss is the result of a USD 2.8 billion fine for antitrust violations.
  • Amount, a technology provider focused on helping financial institutions quickly implement digital transformation solutions, recently raised USD 99 million in funding. This pushes their total amount of funding raised to over USD 1 billion, earning them unicorn status.
  • According to a World Bank report on migration, the COVID-19 pandemic did not result in a significant reduction in remittances last year. This is contrary to most forecasts.
  • Sunbit, a fintech that provides buy now, pay later (BNPL) solutions, has earned unicorn status after its most recent round of fundraising. The fintech is now valued at USD 1.1 billion.

Russia

  • Russian banks are beginning to implement a solution that will allow ATM users to withdraw funds from someone else’s card. The solution works through a banking app that generates a QR code, which can then be sent to someone else to be scanned at an ATM for the funds to be released.
  • The Higher School of Economics has released two reports: Digital Technologies in the Russian Economy and Digital Transformation of Industries: Starting Conditions and Priorities.
  • The Ozon marketplace intends to develop a new fintech direction and has purchased One Bank toward this end.
  • Rosselkhozbank has launched a new digital product for farmers. The Farmer’s Business Card product allows farmers to make small, discounted purchases online as well as purchase fuel at a discounted price. The card can be accessed via a special app.
  • According to a study by the NAFI Analytical Center, Russians are three times more likely to pay for purchases using a contactless method than a non-contactless method. Interestingly, the study revealed that most Russians do so as a matter of convenience and not a matter of safety.
  • Sber has announced recent innovations, including a Money-to-Paycheck service, new investment skills for virtual assistants and a SmartSpeech speech technology service for businesses. Sber also noted that ecosystem experiments are starting to get out of control.

Ukraine

  • The National Bank of Ukraine plans to introduce the digital hryvnia over the next four years.
  • Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers has approved a roadmap for introducing blockchain into the economy and public administration systems.
  • Raiffeisen Bank Aval has launched Fairo, a mobile bank for entrepreneurs. In addition to standard financial services, Fairo provides users an ability to submit tax reports and pay taxes.
  • Alexander Kshutashvili, head of NeoFin, discusses how the company has managed to create a constructor for fintech solutions.
  • Ukrposhta has launched a tender process to select an appraiser who will help it acquire a bank within the next 5–6 months.
  • The Ministry of Digital Transformation has announced an online platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. The Diya.Biznes platform is currently operating in a test mode but will eventually allow entrepreneurs to access various state services and support programs.

Belarus

  • The volume of non-cash payments in Belarus in the first quarter of 2021 amounted to BYN 14.7 billion, 22.5% higher than in the first quarter of 2020.
  • Smart Taler 2021, a conference on fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, will be held in an online format on July 24, 2021. Register here.

Kazakhstan

  • Under new amendments to the draft Law on Amendments to the Code on Taxes and Other Mandatory Payments to the Budget, cryptocurrency miners will have to pay taxes in Kazakhstan.
  • SME Banking Club has ranked Halyk Bank first among mobile banks for businesses in Kazakhstan. Additionally, the bank’s first deputy chairman (Anton Musin) was a guest on The Power of FinTech podcast, during which he discussed the future of banks, why financial institutions are building large ecosystems and what fintech trends are important to follow.
  • AIFC Fintech Hub has partnered with Uralsib Bank to launch a competition for the best fintech solution among teams from Central Asia. Find out more here.
  • The National Bank of Kazakhstan intends to implement a pilot project to introduce the digital tenge in the second half of 2021. Find out what experts think about it in this Interfax-Kazakhstan publication.

Kyrgyzstan

  • FINCA Bank Kyrgyzstan has launched a service that allows users to reserve a place in line before visiting a branch.
  • The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), with financial support from the government of Japan, has announced a new AI-based job search app. IshTapp, which is available for Kyrgyz residents, resembles the dating app Tinder in that an applicant swipes right or left, depending on whether he/she is interested a job opening.

Tajikistan

  • Dushanbe City and Tinkoff Bank have launched a new money transfer service that allows users to make up to 20 transfers a day from the Russian Federation to Tajikistan.

Uzbekistan

  • The head of the HUMO payment system, Shukhratbek Kurbanov, discusses the current situation in Uzbekistan’s payment market as well as why cash is so popular in Uzbekistan.
  • The Association of Venture Capital of Uzbekistan has opened the country’s first private venture fund, Semurg Ventures. Semurg Ventures’ investment strategy fintechs, insurtechs and agrotech startups.

Azerbaijan

  • Mastercard plans to cover the entire territory of Azerbaijan with a non-cash payment system.
  • FINCA Bank Azerbaijan has launched a chatbot on WhatsApp. The app speeds up and simplifies the loan application process for individuals as well as informs them about other available bank products.

Armenia

  • Converse Bank has launched an online lending platform for small- and medium-sized businesses that will allow business clients to receive financing for various purposes in the shortest possible time and on the most competitive terms possible.
  • VTB Bank Armenia now offers Visa Chatbot and Chatbot Concierge services to holders of premium cards Visa and Mastercard cards. These services allow cardholders to get help 24/7 via Telegram, Viber and/or Facebook Messenger.

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