Stay up-to-date on all the latest FinTech news and information from around the world in the BFC FinTech Monitor.
Around the World
#Reports and Studies
- According to a new Juniper Research study, the volume of QR code payments is expected to exceed USD 3 trillion by 2025. The study also named Alipay, PayPal, WeChat, Google Pay and UnionPay International as the top 5 providers of QR code payments solutions.
#Innovations and Neobanking
- Mastercard is planning to launch a new payment system in which users can authorize payments with a smile or wave of their hand. The new system is planned for piloting in Brazil.
- Apple, Google and Microsoft are planning to launch a single password-less authorization mechanism for use on their websites and platforms before the end of the year. The protocols necessary for this were developed by the World Wide Web Consortium and the FIDO Association.
- Open banking provider Volt has introduced the Transformer tool, which will help sellers save on commissions. Using the tool, buyers will be able to place an order using payment options available in the open banking system.
- UK-based lender The Credit Thing has completed the first variable recurring payment (VRP) transaction for customers using the Recurring Payments API.
#Cryptocurrencies, Blockchain and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that crypto assets allow users to bypass restrictions on the movement of capital, including the transfer of funds abroad. The fund notes that their legal status should be clarified and appropriate recommendations should be provided to financial institutions.
- Data from Coin ATM Radar suggests that the pace of the installation of bitcoin ATMs around the world has slowed since the beginning of the year.
- The Swiss National Bank has no plans to buy and hold bitcoin as a reserve currency.
- Leaders of the Reserve Bank of India said that cryptocurrencies provoke the “dollarization” of the economy.
- British fintech startup Revolut plans to launch its own token and is also developing a crypto wallet as part of its overall strategy to transform into a super app.
- Nikolai Storonsky, founder of British fintech startup Revolut, intends to launch his own venture fund based on artificial intelligence.
- Equity trading platform Robinhood plans to launch a non-custodial crypto wallet that will provide users with full control over their cryptocurrencies as well as direct access to both DeFi and NFT segments.
- Crypto exchange Binance has registered as a digital asset service provider in France.
- Crypto exchange Coinbase reported a net loss of USD 430 million in the first quarter of this year. In a letter to shareholders, the company stated that they consider the current market conditions that led to this loss to be temporary.
- Coinbase has sent notifications to many users in the Russian Federation regarding the blocking of their accounts. Only accounts with balances exceeding the equivalent of EUR 10,000 are being blocked. Affected accounts will be blocked starting on May 31, 2022. South Korean crypto exchanges Upbit, Bithumb, Gopax and Korbit have also begun limiting the accounts of Russian users.
- Two bills have been proposed by the government of the United Kingdom to support the cryptocurrency sector. The first is aimed at strengthening the country’s financial services industry, including through support for the “secure adoption of cryptocurrencies”. The second proposes to simplify the recovery of cryptoassets for individuals who have been victims of ransomware attacks.
- According to a US Federal Reserve System report, the widespread use of stablecoins in trading for cryptocurrencies could increase the volatility in demand for stablecoins and increase redemption risks.
- The creators of the Algorand cryptocurrency have become FIFA partners. The startup is expected to provide the organization with an official blockchain wallet and also help develop a digital asset strategy.
- Music streaming service Spotify is exploring the use of NFTs, and Instagram is testing a feature that will allow users to share NFTs in their main feed, stories and messages by linking third-party digital wallets in the app.
- A report by ratings agency Moody’s has found that the use of cryptocurrencies in the Russian Federation is ineffective due to sanctions. Earlier, Russian businesses had requested to be allowed to use digital assets for foreign trade.
#Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)
- A study by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) shows that 9 of every 10 central banks worldwide are actively exploring CBDCs, with more than 6 of every 10 already developing them or conducting specific experiments.
- A presentation by the European Central Bank (ECB) on the possibility of the digital euro considers that the currency could be issued before 2026. The presentation also warned that anonymity in the currency’s use is not desirable.
- The European Commission (EC) has stated that the Digital Markets Act (DMA) will come into force in the spring of 2023.
- The Central Bank of Chile has shelved plans to develop their digital peso as the regulator feels that its issuance requires a deeper analysis of risks and benefits.
- The Central Bank of Israel has not yet made a final decision on whether or not it will issue the digital shekel; however, all participants in the digital shekel project support the initiative.
- The Central Bank of Nigeria plans to upgrade CBDC use cases across a wider range of goods and services, including paying for telecommunication services, electricity and airline tickets.
- The Bank of Russia and Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development are preparing a large-scale program to introduce the digital ruble.
- The FinTech Europe Summit will be held virtually on May 31, 2022. The summit will gather leaders in the fields of open banking, artificial intelligence, blockchain, DeFi, cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
- According to Business Insider, American fintechs are losing traction as many have begun laying off staff. In fact, Robinhood plans to lay off more than 300 staff members in the near future.
- Google plans to add Visa, Mastercard and American Express virtual cards to their Chrome and Android systems this summer. Once launched, users of Chrome’s and Android’s autofill features with eligible cards will be prompted to replace their actual card information with virtual card information.
- Facebook Pay will be renamed to Meta Pay. The payment system also plans to focus on expanding payment options in markets where it is already active instead of expanding to new markets.
- Swedish fintech company Klarna is launching a virtual shopping platform for partners around the world. The platform will also allow users to contact sales assistants in stores via chat or video call to learn more about products.
- PayPal has reported a significant decrease in net income and worsened its forecast for full-year profits.
- Former Tinkoff Group top managers Oliver Hughes and Pavel Fedorov plan to launch a new kinetic finance project for Southeast Asia by the end of the year.
- United States senators have called on President Biden to impose sanctions on the Russian payment system Mir.
- Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, has launched a cryptocurrency card for Ukrainian refugees in the Eurozone. Cardholders are eligible to receive USDT 75 in monthly assistance from Binance for a period of three months.
- More than GBP 800,000 have been invested into Ukrainian startup GoSolo, which allows users to quickly register a company in the United Kingdom, get a virtual address for business correspondence in London and open an account for making payments.
- Fintech startup Amaiz offers fast-track banking for Ukrainian refugees in the United Kingdom. Expedited verification for opening of an account is as simple as providing a border stamp, passport, relative/sponsor address and local phone number.
- According to Privatbank, the number of active POS-terminals connected to the banking system in retail outlets in April 2022 amounted to 167,000, which is almost 10,000 more than in March 2022.
- Ukrainian refugees with experience in the fintech sector will be able to find work in the United Kingdom with the support of the Fintech Without Frontiers initiative.
- Privatbank and Payoneer have launched a joint project to expand Privat24 services. Specifically, Privat24 users will be able to transfer money from Payoneer to the cards and accounts of individuals and individual entrepreneurs, open virtual/online-only cards to withdraw funds and receive details for accepting payments for services rendered.
- Privatbank has begun issuing plastic Prostir national payment system cards in a pilot mode and also launched a new form of voice-based customer identification.
- Russian neobank Tinkoff has opened a development center in Kazakhstan and plans on hiring 100 employees for it by the end of the year.
- Cryptocurrency miners will be required to register with government agencies as well as provide detailed information about farms and equipment.
- Fraudsters have begun to create websites and mobile apps posing as a National Bank program to attract private investment.
- The Qlik Data Transformation Day 2022 business intelligence conference will be held May 25, 2022 at Astana Hub in Nur-Sultan.
- Fintech development will become the main tool for implementing the government’s Financial Inclusion Strategy for 2022—2026.
- The Kyrgyz regulator will make a decision on the introduction of the digital som following discussions with banking and financial market participants, government agencies, business representatives and experts.
- The First Credit Bureau of Kazakhstan (FCB) held the free FCBK FinTech Kyrgyzstan conference in Bishkek for participants in the Kyrgyz financial market.
- The Ministry of Digital Transformation has received 4 state-owned companies for management, including Eurasian Bank. The Ministry plans to use Eurasian Bank to introduce fintech and smart services.
- The number of e-wallets in Kyrgyzstan is now 4.7 million (as compared to a population of 6 million).
- Asia-Plus columnist Pairav Chorshanbiyev discusses 5 key issues impeding the development of cashless payments in Tajikistan, including: (1) the lack of necessary infrastructure, (2) widespread distrust in the banking system, (3) the low level of financial literacy in the country, (4) expensive and low-quality internet and (5) the unwillingness of businesses to work transparently due to high taxes.
- Anatoly Izyumnikov, executive director of MegaFon Tajikistan, discusses what his company is doing to digitalize the country’s economy and why it is developing fintech services.
- PLUS Media Holding has organized the Banks and Retail international forum on digital transformation. The event, which is scheduled to take place May 25—26, 2022 in Tashkent, will discuss trends in the development of national payment systems in Central Asia such as the digitalization of banking and retail against the backdrop of universal digitalization and non-cash and cash payments. Register here.
- Michael Ruckman, founder and president of the consulting company Senteo Inc., discusses his vision for the development of the fintech market in Uzbekistan and what is interesting about it in the first place.
- Under a new presidential decree, individuals are no longer allowed to mine cryptocurrencies in Uzbekistan. Only legal entities are now allowed to do so and only using electricity produced by solar photovoltaic stations.
- Spot spoke with specialists of the Central Bank of Uzbekistan about when to expect the release of the digital sum.
- Residents of Uzbekistan will now be able to receive cashback when making remote payments.
- Payme has been recognized as 2022’s Best Provider of Digital Payment Services in Uzbekistan by The Global Economics.
- The Ministry of Finance will test online trading mobile apps for three months, with the end goal of drafting legislation that will allow the remote opening of deposit accounts in the near future.
- The Uzbek child company of Georgian neobank TBC has been recognized as a disruptor within the local market.
- Inomjon Usmanov, director of the Retail Business Department of InfinBANK, discusses how his bank makes international money transfers more convenient in the updated version of their mobile app.
- Uzbek startup Billz, which is a software solution to help users manage and grow retail businesses online, has raised USD 650,000 on the VRE platform.
- Fintex Summit 2022 will be held in Baku June 16—17, 2022. The theme of this year’s event is new trends in the banking and financial ecosystem: innovative solutions, fintech and security.
- The Central Bank of Azerbaijan has successfully completed the transition of the Interbank Payment System (AZIPS) to the ISO20022 international standard. This expands the possibilities of automating intersystem integration within Azerbaijan as well as between countries through common formats for the exchange of information between participants in the payment system. The regulator has also submitted draft legislation related to payment services and is considering the possibility of introducing new financial instruments in the country.
- According to a study by Visa, Azerbaijanis have become more likely to pay by card and refuse cash. The study also showed that 59% of residents have 1 bank card, and 19% have 2 or more.
- Ivana Fernandez Duarte, International Finance Corporation (IFC) Regional Manager for the South Caucasus, recently spoke about IFC’s work in helping Azerbaijan simplify access to basic banking services without the need to visit a bank branch.
- Kapital Bank has launched a solution for accepting contactless payments via smartphones based on Visa’s Tap-to-Phone technology.
- The EMERGE technology conference will be held in Yerevan June 1—2, 2022. Participants include representatives of TechCrunch, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Snap Inc., Pinterest, Google Deepmind and Glovo, among others.
- Arman Sargsyan, deputy executive director of the Union of Banks of Armenia, has announced that the use of new banking instruments in Armenia, in particular online payments and cashless payments, is continuing to show a positive trend.
- Converse Bank bonds can now be purchased through the Converse Bank mobile app.
- A new bill to regulate cryptocurrencies is currently under discussion.
- Optio, a fintech startup offering budget management services, has become a top-10 Georgian brand according to Forbes Georgia.
- Visa plans to continue bringing innovations and technology developments to Georgia.
- MAIB, the largest commercial bank in Moldova, has adopted the Agile WoW workstyle. So far, 70 MAIB employees have been trained by international experts to implement agile practices at work. Using the new workstyle, MAIB is planning to create new products and services for the market.