BFC FinTech Monitor (1st – 18th October)

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

Around the World

#Research

  • Experts at Capgemini, in their World Payments Report 2021, are forecasting that instant payments and electronic money will make up 25% of all non-cash transactions by 2025.
  • Qatar FinTech Hub has released a report on the state of the FinTech ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The report highlights the region’s favorable regulatory environments as well as adequate access to opportunities, talent and capital.
  • The new B2B Payments Survey, which was conducted by Bottomline Technologies and Strategic Treasurer, shows that 2 in 3 companies now execute most of their B2B payments electronically.

#Innovations

  • American Ladder has become the first insurance company in the world to go fully digital.
  • KPMG UK has introduced a new cloud platform – KPMG Smart Customer Due Diligence. The platform will help streamline customer due diligence processes, resulting in an estimated 40% reduction in KYC compliance costs.
  • Google is not planning to open Plex digital bank accounts. Instead, the tech giant plans to focus on digital services for financial institutions and FinTechs.
  • The Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services platform will become publicly available in November 2021, offering greater privacy, security and regulatory compliance.

#Neobanking

  • British digital bank Monzo has withdrawn its US banking license application. This comes after 2 years of failed negotiations with US regulators. The bank plans to continue offering products and services in the US through its current partners in the country.

#Cryptocurrencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

  • Residents of El Salvador and the US can now receive their salaries in bitcoin by using the Strike platform.
  • new report from the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructure of the Bank for International Settlements and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) states that payment systems working with stablecoins must comply with international standards for payments, clearing and settlements.
  • The International Monetary Fund has devoted a separate chapter to cryptoassets in its report on global financial stability.
  • NFT sales jumped to USD 10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021. This is 8 times more than in the second quarter of 2021.
  • The head of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Agustin Carstens, warns that Facebook’s Diem stablecoin has the potential to destroy the financial systems of entire countries.
  • A research report published by Bank of America shows that the volume of investments in cryptocurrencies in the first half of 2021 reached USD 17 billion, 3 times more than in the first half of 2020.
  • British neobank BVNK is inviting medium-sized businesses to invest in cryptocurrencies.
  • US President Joe Biden plans on increasing collaborations with 30 countries to find solutions related to the illegal use of cryptocurrencies.
  • Online dating service Tinder has launched a virtual currency within its app.

#Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs)

  • G7 finance ministers and central bank governors have issued CBDC guidelines to protect the overall monetary system and financial stability.
  • According to the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, there are currently more than 100 countries exploring the possibility of introducing a CBDC.
  • Analysts at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) have concluded that the impact of CBDCs on the banking sector can be controlled.
  • Ripple will participate in the creation of the digital pound sterling in cooperation with the Digital Pound Foundation, a non-profit organization.
  • The Bank of England has brought together experts from PayPal, Google, Amazon Web Services, MasterCard, Visa and others to study and develop a CBDC.
  • Hong Kong has started developing its own digital currency.
  • Nigeria’s Federal Supreme Court has approved the digital naira as legal tender.

#Events

  • Western Union will partner with the largest financial institutions in Africa to send and receive payments to millions of local residents.
  • The European Union (EU) is preparing documentation against Apple regarding their refusal to open access to its NFC chip to other payment services.

Russia

  • Russia’s regulator intends to find out how much the country’s residents are investing in cryptocurrencies.
  • The deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, Mikhail Alekseev, has announced that the digital ruble will soon join cash and non-cash transactions as a legal form of currency in the country.
  • Sber customers can now apply for and receive an unsecured loan of between RUB 30,000 and RUB 5 million through an ATM.
  • Residents of Russia will soon be able to withdraw cash from ATMs using a QR code.
  • The Central Bank of Russia has included Tinkoff on its list of systemically important banks in Russia.
  • Russian digital bank Bank 131 is partnering with Singapore-based FinTech company Thunes to launch instant cross-border bank transfers to Russia.
  • Promsvyazbank has become the first in the Russia to provide businesses with the ability to pay bills via WhatsApp.
  • The analytical center of the Banki.ru portal describes at what stage of digitalization Russia’s banking sector is as well as where it is expected to go in the near future.
  • Visa and Lifehacker have launched the Fin or Tech podcast. The first episode is devoted to the concept of figital – the intersection of physical and digital spaces.
  • The Future of FinTech & Banking conference will be held October 20–21, 2021, while the Blockchain Life 2021 conference is scheduled for October 27–28, 2021.

Ukraine

  • More than 5.5 million residents of Ukraine now own digital assets, making Ukraine the country with the most cryptocurrency owners in the world.
  • Vera Platonova, senior vice president and director of the CIS and Southeastern Europe regional division of Visa, recently sat down with Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance to discuss the usage of NFC in Ukraine, when cryptocurrencies could become a payment option and more.
  • The chief data protection officer of Privatbank, Sergey Papernik, discusses how the largest bank in Ukraine implemented GDPR principles.
  • Former President Viktor Yushchenko participated in a press conference held in Vienna regarding Ukrainian FinTechs’ capacities to provide payment services for foreign trade and investment.

Belarus

  • Yandex Pay, a service for paying for purchases on the internet, has been launched in Belarus. The service is already available on numerous websites and mobile apps and is compatible with the cards of any financial institution operating in the country.

Kazakhstan

  • Zhanna Musrepova, the head of the Technological Strategy Department of Accenture in Kazakhstan, discusses how traditional financial institutions have 2 options: (1) actively cooperate with players in other sectors and markets or (2)  invest in the development of their own brands and digital service portfolios.
  • Kazakhstan’s Department of Energy has proposed a limit of 100 megawatts per every 2 years on the capacity of miners’ electrical installations. The National Association of Blockchain and Data Center Industry in Kazakhstan is skeptical of any such measure, stating that efforts should be directed toward fighting “gray” miners instead of limiting the legal market.
  • Over the first 8 months of 2021, 9 in 10 transactions with payments cards were of a non-cash nature.

Kyrgyzstan

  • The Kyrgyz parliament has rejected amendments to the National Bank Law that would provide privileges for companies working in the field of FinTech.
  • Namba Group, a group of Kyrgyz IT companies, has raised USD 1 million in funding. Namba Group includes a super app, a payment system, a delivery service and a payment aggregator among others.

Tajikistan

  • The National Bank of Tajikistan has denied news that the Fantom Foundation is working to create a national digital currency for the country.

Uzbekistan

  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) plan to acquire stakes in TBC Bank, the first digital bank in Uzbekistan.
  • Chinese blockchain platform BSN will open a portal in Uzbekistan through which other countries can launch products and services.
  • Evgeny Zaika, director of business development at VisionLabs, discusses how the use of biometrics will affect the activities of financial institutions in Uzbekistan.

Azerbaijan

  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC), in cooperation with national postal operator Azerpost, plans to develop digital financial services in the country. This is expected to increase financial inclusion in the country.

Armenia

  • Clients of ACBA Bank can now execute international money transfers using phone numbers.
  • The government of Armenia has adopted a bill that will require all government salaries and social benefits be paid in a non-cash form.

Georgia

  • Papuna Lezhava, Vice President of the National Bank of Georgia, has announced that the digital lari has been scheduled for piloting in 2022. Initially, the digital lari is expected to be introduced for retail sales.

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