Connect with us

Business

Competition in payments: The rise of A2A payments and the role of regulation

Published

on

Innovation is enabling new types of payments and creating a truly dynamic ecosystem. Yet in order to create a market where new schemes like account-to-account payments can compete, regulation must play a central role argues Esther Groen, Head of Payments Consulting at Icon Solutions.

Payments modernisation is a hot topic right now—and for good reason. New and innovative digital payment technologies and instruments are emerging constantly, sharpening competition across the payments landscape.

The advent of open banking and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) has unlocked access and connectivity options, creating links between banks, fintechs and platforms and enabling the direct flow of money from one account to another. Innovation has paved the way for the rise of these account-to-account (A2A) payments, sharpening competition by introducing point of sale (POS) payments that no longer require credit card rails.

A2A payments have been around for a while in Sweden (Swish) and the Netherlands, where the iDEAL payments system was created in response to the growth of online shopping by a group of Dutch banks. Since then, iDEAL has emerged as a dominant payment system, accelerating the uptake of real-time payments across the Netherlands and driving a surge that is only expected to grow in the coming years.[1] Elsewhere in Europe, the SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) scheme enables the quick transfer of funds from one account to another within the SEPA zone.

Esther Groen

Despite the success of iDEAL and SCT, real-time payment schemes are still relatively new in the rest of Europe and North America. So, what will it take for these fast, low-cost and versatile schemes to transform payments in the rest of the world?

Regulation.

A2A payments have the potential to dethrone card-based payments and make the ecosystem even more competitive—but only if regulation keeps pace with the innovation and creates the right conditions for competition to flourish.

In the simplest terms, credit card transactions and A2A payments are separated by the services that issuing banks offer their customers that other banks can’t or don’t: revolving credit, the ability to dispute transactions, and insurance against loss in the event of fraud.

Yet these services are extended at a steep price, requiring merchants and customers to pay high interchange fees in exchange for the promise of security and reimbursement of fraudulent transactions. Without regulation of A2A payments schemes, non-issuing banks simply won’t be able to offer the full range of services and guarantees—like security—that would allow them to compete with cards.

A2A payments are a much more efficient way to pay since the accounts settle in real time. In a truly competitive market, consumers would be able to access card-based payments and A2A payments for the same price. Friction would be removed, interchange fees would decrease and A2A rails could provide infrastructure that enables even more new ways to pay using innovative technologies like QR codes and wallets.

In Europe, Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) serves as a helpful illustration of how regulatory action can support A2A payment schemes. Designed to reduce fraud and make online and contactless payments more secure, SCA requires that additional authentication via two methods be built into checkout transactions. This means that a consumer must use at least two of the following: a password or pin, biometric identification, or hardware verification or a token. By requiring this additional layer of security, regulators have inadvertently allowed A2A payments to compete with card-based payments by providing frictionless payment experiences that are still highly secure.

The United Kingdom understands the need for regulatory action and has undertaken two key initiatives to boost the use of A2A payments. The Treasury, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Payment Systems Regulatory (PSR) are creating a new regulatory body to oversee open banking and A2A payments. The PSR and FCA are also proposing new regulations aimed at curbing fraud for introduction into parliament.

The EU is not far behind, promising regulatory action for real-time payments in the coming months. The European Central Bank has also urged the European Payments Council to accelerate the updating of existing instant payments using the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer Scheme. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Federal Reserve is considering regulations to govern FedNow, its own RTP scheme.

It remains to be seen whether any of these regulatory actions will be enough to give A2A payment schemes the leg up needed to topple the cards’ domination and level the playing field. Let us hope so.

Business

Ransomware chokes COBRA: How AI-powered data analysis can support financial services’ plight

Published

on

By Toby Butler, Financial Crime Solutions Manager at Ripjar

 

Ransomware attacks are on the increase in the United Kingdom. Most of the British Government’s COBRA meetings have been convened in response to ransomware attacks, showing how cybersecurity breaches are as pressing as national emergencies and crises. The National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) annual review found this year that the country was hit by 17 ransomware incidents that were so impactful they “require a nationally coordinated response”. That extends to the financial services sector, which saw an increase of ransomware attacks with 55% of organisations hit in 2021.

Where does this leave the sector and how can artificial intelligence and machine learning be instrumental in understanding the risks companies face against future ransomware attacks?

Toby Butler

Company information is being stolen and sold to different threat groups, who prey on the individuals in that organisation who are more likely to pay them. The UK is one of the most cyber-attacked countries in the world and the Government has been criticised for being “ill-equipped” to deal with this exponential rise of fraud cases.

 

Ransomware-as-a-Service

Ransomware is one of the most common forms of cybercrime. Fighting it has become one of the biggest problems that organisations today face during their everyday operations. For instance, Malware (malicious software) encrypts the files of a single computer, then works its way through an entire network to reach the server and inflict maximum damage. Company information is being stolen and sold to different threat groups, who prey on the individuals in that organisation who are more likely to pay them.

When these attacks occur the victims, more often businesses, are left with minimal options. If they have substantial backup solutions already in place, they can attempt to restore the encrypted data to their servers. But if that data isn’t already secured elsewhere, they may need to pay a ransom to the criminals behind the attack. Thereby allowing the business to function once again and restoring their reputation. The cost of paying the ransom will feel considerably smaller compared to starting a business again from scratch. Sophos’ State of Ransomware in Financial Services 2022 report found that 52% of financial services organisations paid the ransom to restore their data, the average remediation cost in financial services was US$1.59M.

Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that ransomware is set to cost global businesses more than $256 billion by the end of 2031. By that token, organisations need to be extremely mindful of the potential threats they may face. Businesses need to understand the methodologies these hackers use, to address the weaknesses within their domain and take measures to isolate and prevent further ransomware attacks from happening again.

 

The rise of WAMs

According to a recent report by security firm CyberSixgill, 19% of the 3,612 cyberattacks that took place in 2021 were traced back to Wholesale Access Markets – or WAMs for short. WAMs are, in essence, underground internet flea markets. These markets are where aspiring attackers come to purchase network access from threat actors – the individual or entity involved in carrying out the cyber-attack. Types of threat actors include insiders, cybercriminals, rival organisations, or even nation states stealing data.

WAMs sell access to multiple compromised endpoints (or pathways) for around 10-20 dollars. Researchers found that WAMs listed access to approximately 4.3 million compromised endpoints in 2021, which include access to both provider and enterprise software (for example, an organisation’s Slack channel) up to 180 days before the attack itself took place. This shows how long these compromised endpoints remain undetected without proper internal analysis.

 

How can Financial Services stay ahead of the curve?

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning is undisputed across modern businesses and sectors, and continues to revolutionise processes across the board. AI is a significant player in the financial services industry, building the ‘cyber-wall’ against nefarious users. It gives organisations optimal insights into reducing the likelihood of a ransomware attack in the future.

Namely, AI and machine learning collects and analyses vast amounts of messy (structured and unstructured) data from disparate sources. The challenge for the sector is to understand the volume and variety of the raw data collected from any source to build better protection in the future.

Structured information could be best understood as the clear data we see in a table. For example, the following attendees made a business meeting: first name – Joan, surname – Smith, age – 46. But unstructured information is information presented in a complex manner. For example, ‘there were five people who attended the business meeting, one of whom was forty-six and called Joan Smith’. Naturally, due to the complex nature of the prose, it would be more difficult for a machine to process that data into a digestible format for further risk analysis. This is where AI continues to prove invaluable.

AI uses natural language processing to understand the information provided on the web. As the software continues to evolve, natural language processing reads the information in a way a human would to extract the key information from the text. By incorporating AI and machine learning within an organisation’s IT infrastructure, companies operating within financial services can be better equipped to handle cybercrime.

These tools are flexible and adaptable, they can be configured to analyse different types of data from different sources to curate key insights. This collated information provides a better analysis of the organisation’s exposure, allowing them the opportunity to get upstream in preventing future attacks. This kind of approach is essential to processing listings on WAMs.

The power to analyse data to identify weakness is vital in the battle against cybercrime. It gives organisations a better understanding into what they could expect to see in the future. Hosting the correct data, and with the analytical skills, financial organisations can gain a better understanding of the methodologies and weaknesses in-house that attackers use and exploit to hold them to ransom. Organisations can then use this as a reference to pinpoint compromised endpoints, giving them a chance to reduce access before this route can be exploited and ruin their business.

With cybercrime and ransomware continuing to remain prevalent, it’s vital that financial services companies understand how they can get ahead of the curve and build a robust security platform within their IT infrastructure that can withstand an attack. In 2022, a ransomware attack occurred every 40 seconds. The mindset for the sector needs to be one of when, not if.

Organisations need to be thinking about an attack now – before it’s happened. Pre-planning and preparing for the worst possible outcome from future threats and adversaries. The introduction of AI and machine learning in the fight against cybercrime is a must, and the sooner the industry gets behind in implementing AI, the safer it will be through the next decade.

 

 

Continue Reading

Business

SVEA BANK ACQUIRES AREX’S FINTECH OPERATION IN FINLAND

Published

on

By

AREX Markets, the data-driven FinTech company that drives financing costs down for SMEs and enables them to get paid quicker, has announced the sale of its Finland operations to Swedish payment and financing institution Svea Bank.

With the deal, Svea will further strengthen its position as a corporate financier, as AREX’s c.1200 Finnish customers and partnerships in the areas of financial management and financial management software will be transferred to the bank’s portfolio. The Finnish operation of AREX has financed over EUR 500M worth of invoices.

AREX’s Spanish and UK operations remain unaffected and remain focused on building embeddable financing products for third party platforms. Customers in Finland have been informed of their transition, and their contracts and service details will port across to Svea.

Svea is reshaping the playing field of corporate finance in Finland, and taking on the operations of AREX in the region is a natural step to strengthen their own business and at the same time offer AREX’s partners and customers an easy path to a wider range of services than before.

“Over the years, Svea has grown a lot also through business transactions, therefore acquiring AREX’s business operations in Finland was a good and natural solution for us. In addition, the deal is pleasant for us at Svea because the focus of our activities is to help partners and customers succeed – offering AREX’s partners and customers a wider range of services is exactly that,” says Pasi Väre, country manager of Svea in Finland.

The deal also brings new opportunities for AREX to focus on the UK and Europe in its roll out of embeddable financing products, which can be white-labelled by neobanks, ERPs and accounting software alike. The business is seeking to bridge the liquidity gap faced by most small businesses in the face of a recessive economic climate.

UK SME’s can continue to access AREX’s core invoice financing product through the Xero marketplace.

“For us at AREX, this is a great step: we are developing a stronger presence in the field of embedded finance, which is underpinned by our sophisticated marketplace software, our strongest point,” says AREX’s CEO, Airto Vienola.

“For the AREX team it was extremely important that we find the best possible corporate financier to take care of the business’ customers and partnerships in Finland. Svea convinced us with their customer and partner-centric approach”, adds AREX’s co-founder Perttu Jalkanen.

Continue Reading

Magazine

Trending

Business15 hours ago

Ransomware chokes COBRA: How AI-powered data analysis can support financial services’ plight

By Toby Butler, Financial Crime Solutions Manager at Ripjar   Ransomware attacks are on the increase in the United Kingdom....

Banking22 hours ago

How Banks Can Boost App Innovation, Speed and Compliance

Steve Barrett, Senior Vice President of International Operations, Delphix  As new finance and banking applications disrupt the market each day,...

Business22 hours ago

SVEA BANK ACQUIRES AREX’S FINTECH OPERATION IN FINLAND

AREX Markets, the data-driven FinTech company that drives financing costs down for SMEs and enables them to get paid quicker, has...

News22 hours ago

ICICI Lombard and AU Small Finance Bank announce Bancassurance tie-up

ICICI Lombard General Insurance, India’s leading private sector non-life insurance company, is entering into a Bancassurance tie-up with AU Small Finance Bank....

Finance22 hours ago

Crypto’s tipping point

Chris George, Senior VP of Product at Somo argues that Crypto needs to improve its scalability to be taken seriously Cryptocurrencies are...

Business4 days ago

Why Procurement is key in delivering your ESG strategy

By Edward Cox, Principal at Efficio Consulting   Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) has shifted from a niche to a...

Finance4 days ago

Skedadle to change the game for advertising with Currencycloud partnership

Currencycloud, the experts simplifying business in a multi-currency world, has partnered with Scottish start-up app Skedadle to provide its users...

Finance4 days ago

How financial services organisations can harness the power of low-code/no-code

By Joman Kwong, Strategic Solutions Manager, Financial, at Laserfiche   The UK’s erratic economy, and its spiralling cost-of-living crisis, have...

Finance4 days ago

SaaScada Top Five Predictions for 2023

From BNPL for business, to sustainability and financial inclusion, 2023 is going to be a year of change as the...

Business6 days ago

Hidden channel costs: how to find and tackle them

By Mark Wass, Strategic Sales Director, UK and North EMEA at CloudBlue     Growth for businesses will always be a...

Finance6 days ago

Is your business ready for finance automation?

Mari-Frances Bentvelzen, Business Head and General Manager of Global SMB at SAP Concur   As managers continue to drive their...

Top 106 days ago

The power of a proactive customer service

By Delia Pedersoli, COO, MultiPay   2023 is shaping up to be another challenging period for B2C businesses. While the...

Business6 days ago

Automation nation: Liberating workers from desks, data entry and the doldrums

Gert-Jan Wijman, VP of EMEA at Celigo.   Just when businesses thought the tough times were over, even more challenges...

News6 days ago

Protean and Fino Payments Bank tie-up to expand PAN card issuance services in India

Fino Payments Bank has tied up with Protean eGov Technologies (formerly NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited), a market leader in universal,...

Business6 days ago

What is the True Cost of SMS Phishing?

Gemma Staite, Threat Analytics Lead   Cybercriminals will recycle attack strategies for as long as they are effective. In Fraud...

Technology7 days ago

Digital Asset Management (DAM) To Transform Enterprise Brand Management

Alexander Rich, Co-founder and CEO – Desygner    Rapid digital transformation fuelled by the pandemic has undoubtedly proven beneficial to...

Finance7 days ago

Cost of living: How to identify vulnerable customers

Ellie Engley is account director at REaD Group   In the current climate, the cost of living crisis is a...

Banking7 days ago

Is traditional business banking the best option for SME finance squeezes?

Airto Vienola, CEO, AREX Markets  The pressures facing business and personal finances alike have been well documented. Stories are now starting...

Business7 days ago

Breaking down communications silos to streamline the customer experience

Dave Tidwell, Head of Technical Pre-sales, DigitalWell   The pandemic has, without doubt, moved the goalposts when it comes to...

Business7 days ago

How growth can be a big challenge when a business becomes multiple entities

By Paul Sparkes, Commercial Director of award-winning accounting software developer, iplicit. Organisations don’t just grow in size – they also...

Trending