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Automated Payments: The Power of Innovation Within the Legal Sector



Attributed to: Sophie Condie, Chief Operating Officer at Shieldpay

Class action lawsuits represent a pivotal component of the modern legal landscape, allowing groups of individuals with similar grievances to collectively seek justice and compensation for wrongdoing. These lawsuits serve as a formidable instrument for holding corporations and large institutions accountable.

While class action lawsuits offer consumers the advantage of unity in numbers, they are not without their challenges. One major hurdle is the sheer complexity and scale of such cases. Class action lawsuits can be expensive to litigate meaning legal teams need to invest significant resources and time which can be both financially and emotionally taxing for those involved.

Fast forward to recent technological advancements,. this has aided the legal landscape in future-proofing their offering. Law firms are now able to leverage innovative technology to outsource the task of handling class action distributions. This automated process not only reduces financial complications but also enables law firms to handle these tasks with greater accuracy and speed, making this a mutually beneficial practice for all parties involved.

The realities and complexities of class action payouts

Managing payments on behalf of clients is resource-intensive and can take its toll on law firms that have to increase costs to meet these demands. A contributing factor to the level of workload is also ensuring compliance is top of the agenda due to the client account rules put in place by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The UK legal regulator is encouraging firms to better manage the risks of holding client funds because it is becoming increasingly complex and they aren’t sufficiently equipped to undertake prudent management of the accounts. For law firms which do work with traditional banks to hold the funds in a Client Account, there are long, drawn-out processes laden with paperwork to open the account; receive, hold and disburse funds in a compliant manner.

Then there’s the intricacies of data management  Law firms need to collect, verify and hold personal information from every claimant they are paying out to. Collating data represents an enormous amount of time-consuming and manual work, especially when there are compliance requirements. This is exacerbated by the fact that data breaches are one of the most common motives for group legal action, putting pressure on firms to ensure they are not causing concern for their already mistrustful claimants.

Law firms need to deal with personally identifiable information (PII) to complete the payments. This is high-risk data. To comply with regulations, such as GDPR, and mitigate the risk of compromising this information, firms must have processes in place to efficiently, safely and securely gather it. This is no easy feat, however, without the right talent, tooling and partner in place.

A key part of this data collection stage is the verification process. While painstaking, it’s vital that law firms do their due diligence and undergo sanction checking, as well as AML checks and appropriate ID verification to mitigate the risk of fraud and involvement in illegal activity.

Impact on client satisfaction

Given all the administrative and risk-related drawbacks, it’s easy to overlook a more evident pitfall associated with manual payment processes: client dissatisfaction. Consumer expectations are evolving in alignment with the rapid pace of technological advancements in every aspect of life.

Now, consumers expect instant, transparent, automated payments; the last thing they want, or anticipate, to do after a hard-fought legal battle is to jump through hoops to receive what they’re owed.

So why are law firms still relying on manual client account processes? The simple answer is that lawyers aren’t payment experts. While there is increasing technology adoption in the industry, payment transformation has been overlooked as a key area for driving efficiency.

But, now, with increasing complexity in managing the funds and pressures from all angles to improve their processes, law firms can no longer afford to ignore this key challenge. They need to take action.

Automation with a transformative impact

In the legal sector, a fast-developing area is class actions, making it ripe for innovation. As a practice area of law that is still in development, with new changes to the regime still taking place in jurisdictions around the world, such as CAT in the UK and the new European Directive, law firms should be looking to build and develop their legal services in tandem with their use of technology.

Fortunately, payment solution providers have stepped up to address these challenges. Innovative tools are emerging to automate every stage of the payout process, significantly cutting down the time and resources needed to distribute compensation funds. This not only decreases the financial burden on law firms but also allows them to boost their billable hours by allocating more time to higher-value legal tasks.

For example, new tech platforms have been developed that allow law firms to collect and verify claimant data at scale. By leveraging the power of open banking technology, payment processors can verify claimant bank account information in a matter of seconds. This reduces the risk of money being paid to the wrong person, cuts down on manual errors and keeps firms compliant with regulatory demands.

Law firms can further support their compliance requirements by partnering with a payment solution provider which holds funds in safeguarded accounts, known as a Third-Party Managed Account by the SRA. These accounts are compliant with the SRA Accounts Rules and can result in cost savings, such as a reduction in PII premiums.

Enhanced visibility leads to heightened competitiveness

The transition from manual payment methods to automated, digital payment technologies empowers law firms to effortlessly process large volumes of payments with just a few clicks, swiftly transferring funds directly to claimant bank accounts.

Another advantage of partnering with technology-driven payment solutions is the enhanced visibility they offer throughout the entire transaction process. Real-time access to data points like verification and payment status streamlines reporting, with readily available data that can be downloaded at any moment. This liberation of internal resources enables firms to tackle more substantial cases than they would typically handle, allowing them to maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Automation does not entail sacrificing care and quality. It enhances them. Modern digital tools are continuously being developed to eliminate time-consuming, non-billable tasks, freeing legal professionals time and allowing them to focus on delivering a high-quality service.

Time is money and law firms cannot afford to let administrative tasks take up their valuable time – automation is key to accelerating growth and ensuring that firms are well-prepared for the future.


Revolutionizing Risk: Innovative Derivatives to Support the Evolution of Commercial Space




By Grant Gryska, Co-Founder and Director of Markets at Allocation.Space


The space economy continues to expand rapidly, crossing $500bn in revenue in 2022, 78% of which came from the commercial sector[1]. Major developments like the successful test launch of SpaceX’s massive Starship are set to radically change the cost of getting mass to orbit, unlocking new possibilities for business in space.

This growing market presents outsized opportunities for investors, insurers, and businesses. But, as enterprises extend their reach beyond Earth’s atmosphere, risk management tools must evolve to meet the new and unique challenges they face. A new generation of derivative instruments is emerging to support the commercial space sector while complementing traditional insurance models.

A Paradigm Shift in Risk Management

Traditionally, space ventures were funded by governments and international space agencies — institutions that were able to absorb risk and ignore bottom-line concerns. The arrival of private space companies such as SpaceX, Vast, and Blue Origin represents a material shift in the trajectory of commercial space. National interest is no longer enough; space ventures must also turn a profit, which means managing risk. These enterprises are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, requiring a comparable evolution in financial tools to support their endeavors.

Grant Gryska

We’re now seeing a new generation of companies building platforms to host derivatives that enable enhanced risk management for the space industry. By hosting these products on a Swap Execution Facility (SEF), the aim is to bring pricing transparency and efficiency to the sector via a centralized venue. Unlike traditional insurance, which often relies on predefined policies and premiums designed to mitigate specific critical loss, swap contracts do not require proof of any actual loss or attribution, broadening the universe of potential participants in this growing market.

Derivative Instruments for Commercial Space

Derivative instruments tailored for the commercial space sector will help mitigate risks and enhance financial flexibility as the barriers to entry come down and competition increases.

  1. Space Weather Derivatives (SWDs): With satellite anomalies demonstrating a 74% correlation[2] with geomagnetic disturbances caused by the solar wind, these products will become invaluable in managing revenue loss due to these disruptions. SWDs will ensure a smoother execution of space missions and terrestrial applications such as power grid management.
  2. Space Derivative Contracts (SDCs): SDCs allow investors and companies to hedge against price fluctuations in space-related assets. Whether it’s fuel, space-based resources, or payload rate indexes across launch platforms and locations, these products provide a means to lock in prices, offering stability in an otherwise volatile market.
  3. Space Options (SOs): Like traditional financial options, SOs provide the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a space asset at a predetermined price and time. This allows investors to capitalize on favorable market conditions while limiting downside risk.
  4. Space Risk Swaps (SRS): SRSs enable entities to exchange or transfer specific risks associated with space activities. For instance, a satellite operator concerned about launch delay or orbital debris may enter an SRS with a risk-taking party, effectively transferring the risk to them. These products diversify risk and encourage collaboration among industry players providing complementary services like debris mitigation.

Complementing Traditional Insurance: Bridging the Coverage Gap

While traditional insurance remains a fundamental component of risk management, derivative instruments offer a more nuanced approach targeting the risks to revenue. These products provide a level of risk granularity that traditional insurance may lack or be unable to cover economically, which has left 99% of LEO (Low Earth Orbit), and 73% of MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and GEO (Geostationary Orbit) satellites uninsured on orbit as of 2022[3]. This is crucial in an industry where risks to launch platforms, satellite technologies, and commercial objectives can be highly specific and variable.

The Future of Space and Derivative Instruments

There’s a growing cluster of companies looking to transform the financial products and venues supporting the commercialization of space. The derivative instruments being developed with the help of space industry players will provide a forward-looking and adaptive approach to risk management for space, complementing traditional insurance models.

As the commercial space sector continues its trajectory beyond Earth, these innovative financial tools will play a pivotal role in ensuring a robust and resilient financial ecosystem for companies participating in the space economy.



[2] Choi, H. S., J. Lee, K. S. Cho, Y. S. Kwak et al., 2011, Analysis of GEO spacecraft
anomalies: Space Weather relationships
, Space Weather, 9, S06001.


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2024 Payments Predictions




Alan Irwin, Vice President of Product & Solutions Europe, Global Payments:

Open banking in 2024 will be all about the consumer 

“2023 has been a huge year for open banking adoption, surging 68.2% from the previous year to hit 4.2 million users in the UK in July. Open banking enables consumers to provide third-party providers (TPPs) with secure access to their payments account, meaning that payments can be made through these TTPs directly from their payments account and without the need for cards.

“With more people using open banking for payments, in 2024 consumer expectations of open banking are likely to increase dramatically. Consumers will demand higher levels of speed, convenience, and security around open banking as a payment method. As a result, there will be a renewed focus on the availability and performance of APIs and user interfaces. Without improving these features, TTPs will see growth in open banking payments stagnate and even struggle to compete with digital wallets and standard cards.

“2024 will also see a stronger emphasis placed on consumer protection from fraud and scammers. With £239.2 million lost to authorised push payments (APP) fraud in the first six months of 2023, security is front of mind for businesses and their customer bases. A key differentiator for open banking and card payments is the liability protection offered by cards through the disputes and chargeback processes. Merchants and consumers alike want the power to protect themselves with tools and processes to limit financial exposure. As such, to grow in the coming year, TTPs will need to develop and implement enhanced risk and fraud prevention tools to help drive confidence in the payment channel and mitigate concerns around exposure.”

Competition between old and new banks will intensify around convenience

“Growth in consumers’ desire for a financial ‘super app’ experience will put a great deal of pressure on traditional financial institutions and increase competition between neobanks and legacy banks in 2024. A financial ‘super app’ is a single mobile application that can be used to manage all aspects of your financial life, including services that range across savings, investments, mortgages, and payments, for example.

“Neobanks, such as Revolut, are creeping into ‘super app’ territory: providing a range of services, from shopping discounts and savings pockets to instant currency conversions and stock investing, all on a single mobile application. So far, these developments are almost exclusively in the consumer banking space. However, in 2024 we will see the neobanks push their payments offerings further up the value chain into the B2B world, challenging traditional banks on another front.”

Ecommerce checkout enhancements

“In 2024, payments providers and their clients will place a fresh emphasis on customer experience, as demand for convenient and slick payment processes continues to increase. Currently, 69.57% of online shopping carts are abandoned and less than one fifth (17%) of retail, leisure and hospitality transactions are made through digital wallets, showing that much more needs to be done to offer smoother payment infrastructure online and in-store. As such, in 2024 businesses will focus on customer experience as a means of increasing customer loyalty and slashing cart abandonment rates in the process. Moving away from slow, clunky payment experiences to offer customers the ability to pay for something with a few clicks through biometrics, which allow customers to pay with a simple face or fingerprint scan, and digital wallets, which store customer payment information, is the primary method that businesses should be using as we approach the new year to tackle this issue.”

Data Storage and Keeping Customers On-Site

“Providing a top-quality payments experience will go hand-in-hand with ensuring that consumers feel safe at the checkout, especially with soaring cybercrime. In 2024 we’re likely to see more use of card data storage and tokenisation to further reduce cart abandonment rates as they allow consumers to store their card details for future use, making their next purchase at the ecommerce store much faster. Network tokens in particular, which are tokenised payment details saved for a specific card and merchant pair, drive higher approval rates for merchants and offer a more secure form of payment than raw card data entry. In addition to this, continuously updating customers’ card data further reduces friction in the checkout and drives better cart conversion.

“What’s more, customers are also put off payments when they are redirected to another (3rd party) site to complete it, as it is unfamiliar to the rest of the checkout process, often doesn’t carry the merchant brand and thus deemed insecure. Therefore, reducing site changes as much as possible and using clear branding and UX to ensure customers are aware that they’re still on this same site is key to instilling a sense of security. Similarly, real-time data validation built into the payment form can prevent bad data from being entered in the first place, such as invalid PAN, expiry date, or security code, as well as keeping out bad actors from spamming through card data en masse.”

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