BFC FinTech Monitor (6th August — 6th September)

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

  • Facebook Pay is now available as a payment method directly on merchant sites, with American Shopify the first merchant to offer it. Facebook is also preparing to launch its digital wallet, but without crypto payment capability.
  • The International Association for Biometrics and Identification has released a publication aimed at promoting facial recognition, including debunking common myths.
  • A joint Temenos and Funds Europe report has found that asset managers are prioritizing investments in technology and data infrastructure.
  • US federal banking regulators have issued a set of guidelines to help American financial institutions better assess risks when dealing with FinTech companies.
  • Amazon has announced a partnership with the FinTech company Affirm to offer consumers buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) solutions for purchases of USD 50 or more.
  • Swiss investment bank UBS has invested in Lynk, a knowledge-as-a-service platform, to better aid their clients in investment research.
  • In crypto news: (1) the vice president of the European Central Bank has stated that cryptocurrencies must obey the same rules as other financial assets; (2) Cuban authorities plan to regulate crypto assets; (3) the Central Bank of Brazil is considering the possibility of introducing regulations on digital currencies; (4) most Europeans would like cryptocurrency regulations at the national level; (5) PayPal has launched a UK cryptocurrency service; (6) users of Binance, the largest crypto exchange, are now required to undergo verification; (7) Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum, has criticized Facebook’s and Twitter’s cryptocurrency plans; (8) Chinese commercial banks have opened the digital yuan to customers; and (9) Argentina’s president believes that the legalization of bitcoin at the state level will help the country overcome inflation.
  • PayPal and digital payment software provider ACI Worldwide are developing an electronic bill payment wallet.
  • The Australian regulator, the Brazilian banking company Itaú Unibanco, Canada’s CIBC, Britain’s NatWest and Amazon Web Services are launching a global open finance competition for new digital financial services. Banks, FinTechs and universities are invited to take part.
  • In central bank digital currency (CBDC) news: (1) JPMorgan Chase believes that CBDCs should be designed to not threaten financial markets; (2) regulators in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa will test international settlements using CBDCs; and (3) India will allow the launch of its first CBDC pilots in December.
  • JPMorgan Chase has launched a request-for-payment service that allows corporate customers to send payment requests to the bank’s approximately 57 million retail customers who use its app or website. This is expected to reduce the time and cost for receiving payments, especially as payments can be processed in less than 30 seconds.
  • A survey conducted by analytical company Harris Poll and Google Cloud polled 1,300 representatives of the financial sector in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US, finding that financial institutions are taking serious steps to mitigate risks associated with the use of external cloud computing services.
  • Indonesia and Thailand have introduced cross-border QR-code payments. They expect to also launch international transfers by phone number in the near future.
  • Mastercard will abandon the magnetic stripe on its cards starting in 2024, instead relying on EMV chip technology.
  • India is launching a new payment system that will allow funds to be transferred using a one-time QR code or SMS.

Russia

  • VTB has become the first in the Russian market to launch an ‘eco-loan’, preferential car loans for the purchase of electric vehicles. The bank has also opened staff-less branch locations.
  • A unified system of interdepartmental electronic interactions and the Masterchain Information System (which is based on distributed-ledger technology) will be leveraged to test data exchanges for e-mortgages.
  • Financial institutions will soon introduce a new biometric identification system based on mapping the veins in consumers’ palms.
  • The App Annie platform has published a new ranking of banking applications, with Sberbank, Tinkoff and VTB ranking higher than all others.
  • The FinTech Association has presented the results of a market opinion survey on financial technologies for the 2021–2023 period. The Association is also conducted another survey on open APIs in the market. You can participate in that survey here.
  • The latest innovations from Russian financial institutions: (1) better functionality for returning erroneous payments from the Central Bank of Russia, (2) the fully-robotic issuance of loans for small businesses from Otkritie Bank, (3) cards with the instant conversion rates when paying abroad or in foreign online stores, (4) virtual business cards from Avangard and (5) a speech technology service for business from Sber.
  • Goldman Sachs has estimated the Sber ecosystem at USD 1.13 trillion rubles. Moreover, Global Finance analysts have names it the Best Digital Bank in Russia.
  • Visa will allow users to delete their card details from third-party sites.
  • Anna Kuzmina, deputy chairman of Bank 131, discusses the competition between FinTech startups and how banking ecosystems will impact ordinary users.

Ukraine

  • Upcoming events: (1) the 7th International Antifraud in the Digital World Conference on September 9, 2021 and (2) the 3rd International Global Payments Day Conference on September 23, 2021.
  • UA.NEWS has published an article detailing the 30 best managers, founders and innovators behind Ukraine’s breakthroughs in FinTech.
  • The value of monobank has exceeded USD 1 billion.
  • The Ministry of Digital Transformation is considering paying salaries in the CBDC.
  • MEREZHA.Focus has launched 15-minute diagnostics of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Belarus

  • The First Credit Bureau (Kazakhstan) has launched a scoring model to predict default for the National Bank of Belarus.
  • The number of payments made using smartphones in Belarus increased by 29%, with turnover increasing 1.7 times and the average payment amount increasing by 1.3 times.

Kazakhstan

  • The Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) has released a study on the FinTech startup market in Kazakhstan, finding that: (1) many FinTech startups (20%) are engaged in payment, transfer and mobile wallet services; (2) the main source of financing for them are self-funds; (3) less than half (40%) are at the stage of income growth; and (4) nearly a third of them have entered markets in Asia, Europe and/or the US.
  • vc.ru has details how the “Kazakh Alibab” (Kaspi) is organized as well as how it managed to build a business valued at USD 21 billion.
  • Neobank Simp!y has attracted 250,000 users since its launch thanks to cooperation with the Ukrainian processing center ProCard.
  • Business clients of Halyk Bank will now be able to create a QR code for Ashyq (an application that allows, through a QR code and integration with the Ministry of Health’s database) to determine whether a citizen is the carrier of a virus.
  • Kazakh financial institutions see small business digitalization as an engine for growth.
  • The volume of non-cash payments in Kazakhstan has increased 2.3 times this last year, with 83% of them occurring via online banking solutions.
  • Tatyana Batishcheva, financial commentator for Forbes Kazakhstan, discussed the risks Kazakh banks face against the background of digitalization.

Tajikistan

  • Bank Eskhata has simplified the process for opening deposit account in its mobile app, including allowing users to print the agreement instead of having to go to a branch.

Uzbekistan

  • Visa and Humans, with the support of Ravnaq-Bank, have launched the Humans Visa card in Uzbekistan.
  • The 3rd Cbonds Conference will be held in Tashkent on September 9, 2021, with the participation of the Uzbek regulator, local financial institutions, investment companies, manufacturing enterprises, international financial institutions and rating agencies.
  • Visa, together with MayaSoft and Orient Finance Bank, has presented the MARTA Terminal (a solution based on Visa’s tap-to-phone technology) that allows users to accept payments from a smartphone using an NFC module.
  • Rafal Trapka, head of Mastercard Central Asia, discusses competitors, relationships with financial institutions and new projects.
  • Ipak Yuli Bank is preparing to launch a service of international transfers using UnionPay Money Express.
  • Uzpromstroybank clients can now send transfers to Mastercard cards all over the world.

Azerbaijan

  • Elnur Hasanov, deputy chairman of Bank Respublika, discusses how the implementation of open banking as well as its future is in the financial market of Azerbaijan.
  • 76% of all transactions in the first half of 2021 were made online, demonstrating the progress financial institutions have had in popularizing digital banking solutions.
  • Contactless payments in Azerbaijan are now accepted at 65% of POS terminals, up from 52.9% just one year ago.

Armenia

  • VTB customers can now make instant money transfers to Visa, Mastercard, MIR and UnionPay cards issued by foreign banks as well as to European Union (EU) bank accounts with a commission fee of only 1.5%.
  • Arsen Aramyan, the leading FinTech specialist of the Central Bank of Armenia, took part in the International Digital Change & Customers Conference to discuss the complex process of digital transformation and strategy development.

Georgia

  • Georgia may become the first country to gain access to Starlink satellite internet from Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

Moldova

  • Startup Moldova, with the support of Moldova Agroindbank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched FinTech Moldova 2021, a FinTech accelerator.

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