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
- American financial conglomerate Morgan Stanley will soon allow investors with assets of at least USD 2 million to acquire bitcoin funds. If the launch of this new exchange instrument is successful, other clients will also be included and allowed to use it. At the same time JPMorgan Chase has announced that retail investment in bitcoin will exceed institutional investments in the first quarter of 2021.
- In other news from the world of cryptocurrencies: Indian authorities are preparing measures to ban the use of cryptocurrencies in the country; Twitter users will soon be able to send bitcoin to each other using the Bottlepay service; Bank of America considers the growth of the exchange rate the only reason to store bitcoin; Crypto.com plans to expand its partnership with Visa to accelerate the implementation of payment solutions based on cryptocurrencies; Microsoft is considering adding bitcoin as a possible payment option on its Xbox gaming platform; and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is not planning to develop unified legislation for cryptocurrency regulation.
- Visa and Mastercard are not increasing the interbank fees that retailers charge card issuers when their customers pay for purchases with credit cards, although this remains a possibility after April 2022.
- Online payment service Stripe has become one of the most well-funded payment services in the world following a recent round of funding that attracted an estimated USD 95 billion in investments.
- SME Banking Club is preparing to publish its Top 20 Innovative Banks and Companies in the CIS and Caucasus, an initiative under its Most Innovative Banks project. The presentation of the list will take place on April 23, 2021 at the Digital Forum 2021.
- Visa CEO Alfred Kelly spoke about the company’s crypto strategy:
“We are trying to accomplish two tasks. The first is to provide an opportunity to purchase the first cryptocurrency through accounts in the payment system. The second is to work with bitcoin wallets in order to transfer funds from them into fiat currencies and spend them at any of the 70 million points where Visa is accepted.”
- Revolut is applying for a U.S. banking license, which will allow it to offer a wider range of products and services. The company also announced its withdrawal from the Canadian market for the time being.
- Residents of the United Arab Emirates have access to a fully digital bank for the first time with the launch of YAP in the country. YAP has plans on being a market leader in digital banking throughout Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
- Visa has announced the launch, on April 1, 2021, of its She’s Next initiative in Central Asia. The initiative aims to support women who manage, finance, develop or are planning to start their own business. Visa is also collaborating with the FinTech hub of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) to hold 5 webinars under the initiative, each featuring business experts who will share their experiences on relevant topics.
- HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, is planning to use an AI-powered Google Cloud solution for its global ORRA chatbot.
- The Central Bank of Russia is predicting that the share of non-cash payments in Russia may grow to as much as 75% in the next 3-5 years due to the continued development of payment technologies and infrastructure.
- Yandex is negotiating the acquisition of the small bank Akropol.
- QIWI, in collaboration with Smartfin, is launching a service that allows users to use their Android smartphones as a terminal for contactless payments.
- Other news from Russian banks: there has been an increased usage of digital cards issued from the largest financial institutions operating in Russia; Sber is working to become the Russian version of Amazon; Modulbank now offers instant bulk transfers to individual cards.
- Plus magazine interviewed a number of experts on the possible disconnection of Russia from the SWIFT system.
- RBC has released materials related to Ukrainian FinTech trends for 2021, including those related to cashless payments, smart identification, real-time e-commerce and buy now-pay later solutions.
- In an interview with Forbes, Alexander Pisaruk (chairman of the board of Raiffeisen Bank Aval) noted that traditional banks that are ready to transform are more likely to catch up with neobanks in terms of quality of customer experiences than the latter are to build up their client base and earn a reputation in the market.
- Yulia Barabash, managing partner of SBSB FinTech Lawyers, explains how cryptobanks work and how they can be useful in the future.
- The National Bank of Ukraine has presented a report on the main trends in the bank card market in 2020. The report also contains statistics on non-cash transactions and payment infrastructure as well as information on the market shares of various payment systems.
- Alfa-Bank and Kyivstar are offering users combined bank and telephone accounts in one application.
- Taras Gorkun, deputy chairman of the board for retail business and digital transformation at Bank Credit Dnepr, speaks about the developing trends in the banking industry and why Ukraine’s banking system is considered one of the most technologically advanced.
- The Diya app now allows for online tax payments and NFC-based authorizations as well as offers educational course for farmers.
- BPS-Sberbank has announced a multifunctional solution for small- and medium-sized businesses (the online cash register POSKassa Sigma) that allows them to save on purchases of a cash register, terminal, barcode scanner and receipt printer.
- Kazakhstan ranks 27th on the Global Islamic Fintech (GIFT) Index.
- Oleg Tinkov is considering starting an investment business in Kazakhstan, although analysts believe that this extending to the opening of a Tinkoff Bank in the country is low.
- The Fintech Without Borders. Digital Eurasia forum will be held in Almaty September 29-30, 2021. The main topics of the forum will be FinTechs in key markets, central bank digital currencies, open API and financial marketplaces.
- The National Bank of Kazakhstan has updated its register of payment systems and significant payment service providers.
- Forbes has published an article on the largest investment and lending platform in Kazakhstan (iKapitalist), which has helped private investors make investments in small companies and receive an average rate of return of 20% per annum.
- The Fintech Hub of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) is organizing InsurTech Innovation Day, which will take place on March 30, 2021 in an online format. More details are available here.
- Global Money Week has started in Kyrgyzstan, with the main goal of instilling a culture of savings in children and young people. It also provides access to financial education materials.
- The volume of non-cash transactions on payment cards in Azerbaijan exceeded AZN 6 billion for the first time in history.
- Unibank is planning to create an ecosystem where large companies will be able to conduct transactions using the advantage of open banking and small businesses will receive a multifunctional CRM and many other useful functions.
- The Mobile Notary app now allows user in Azerbaijan to issue powers of attorney for banking purposes.
- Abbas Ibrahimov, chairman of the board of the International Bank of Azerbaijan, discusses the events of 2020, including the growth of the bank’s SME loan portfolio and the bank’s digital efforts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Unibank has won the STP Quality Award from Raiffeisen Bank International, which is awarded annually to correspondent banks that have automated international payment transactions and ensured high processing speeds.
- Armenia’s national postal operator has been authorized to issue and service electronic money, meaning that all HayPost locations will be able to pay pensions in non-cash forms through an e-wallet.
- Business clients will now be able to open accounts remotely at ProCredit Bank. To do so, they must download the app, fill out and application and go through the video identification procedure.
- Bank of Georgia and the University of Business and Technology held a FinTech hackathon in which 14 teams took part, with the winning team developing an AI-based mortgage calculator.
- Moldova Agroindbank is working with Mastercard and the City Hall of Chisinau to launch non-cash payment options for using the city’s public transportation. The bank also recently announced an expansion of its service offering for business clients.