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GROWTH THROUGH COLLABORATION

Akber Jaffer, Chief Commercial Officer, Marketplaces and TEMS, Finastra

 

Open Banking has been slowly incentivizing change in financial services from digital transformation to greater collaboration and data sharing.

Recent research conducted by Finastra (prior to the pandemic), based on the opinions of over 750 banks worldwide, found that 86% of global banks surveyed plan to use open APIs to enable Open Banking in the next 12 months.

This is an encouraging trend but, as we learn to live with COVID-19, the march to digital transformation has accelerated significantly. Banks and financial institutions are navigating how to squeeze what would have been years of innovation into months. It’s no mean feat but Open Banking is one area which is helping banks better serve customers with digital services.

Open Banking is exploding the offerings from banks and single-service fintech providers alike and the pieces are falling back to earth and taking on new forms as they do so. What has been unbundled is now being re-bundled in brand new ways. Digital platforms are providing a framework in which these new bundles – or ecosystems – can organize themselves.

 

The move to platform

A platform-based approach enables the industry to evolve beyond traditional business models and to build more expansive and flexible ecosystems that better serve customer needs. It gives banks and financial institutions an opportunity to provide not just the products and solutions they develop themselves, but those of complementary third parties.

In this business environment, we need dynamic and nuanced business models. The move to platform allows a change to take place in the way fintechs and incumbent financial institutions relate to each other – blending fintech creativity with traditional banking experience and scale.

Platformification can be broadly delivered through three models. These are:

  • One-to-many – This is where large banks such as Santander have made their proprietary platforms available, exposed their APIs and invited application creators to create services for end-users.
  • Many-to-many – Vendors like Finastra offer open technology and customers across retail, capital markets and corporate banking, and act as an intermediary between financial service providers and application creators.
  • Startup – Providers such as the UK’s Starling Bank open up platforms to allow fintechs and application creators to provide functionality for their customers.

 

To succeed, these platform models need open architectures, providing flexibility and resilience to expedite the adoption of new technologies at reduced operating costs.

In this scenario, banks must define what they want to achieve and lead an incentivised project from the top. A platform-based business without a clearly articulated goal is unlikely to succeed.

 

Freedom to innovate

To succeed with a platform model, banks and other industry players need the freedom to invest in R&D within a favourable regulatory environment. But can this final critical element be realized?

Our research also found that regulation is perceived to be tighter than a year ago, with industry and government support required to foster innovation.

Almost half of those audited believe that regulations are holding back innovation: 48% stated that ‘regulation is too tight’, 10% more than in 2019. We also found that the cost of fintech development or R&D is of particular concern in the USA, UAE and APAC regions.

Like the restrictive conversation describing the traditional relationship between banks and fintechs, the concept of innovation being siloed off into the realm of regulatory sandboxes is perhaps becoming out-dated.

83% of financial institutions and banks agree that regulations regarding fintech innovation should be harmonized between different geographies. It’s now time to create joined up regulation and invest confidently in R&D to power financial services through these turbulent times.

Open Banking and open APIs, critical for the platform model, will enable fintechs, big techs and banks to collaborate and innovate. We must, at this time, broaden the conversation as financial services becomes ever more democratized, and we must encourage creativity and co-innovation wherever possible.

 

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Business

TOUCH-FREE AUTHENTICATION FOR ALL: WHY WE NEED A SAFER PAYMENT METHOD IN THE ‘NEW NORMAL’

David Orme, SVP, Sales & Marketing, IDEX Biometrics ASA

 

Ever since March, when the World Health Organization encouraged people to not use cash, coronavirus has made touch-free shopping a necessity for all consumers. However, as economies across the world begin to reopen, we are seeing in-person shopping and payment via touch-pads return. So, with payments beginning to return to ‘normal’, the global payments industry must now consider an important question: how can we protect consumers from the pandemic and potential future health crisis’ during the transaction process?

During the pandemic, touch-free payments began to gain international traction across the world, changing behaviour during the payment process. While previously, consumers were happy to key in a PIN, or even provide a signature for a purchase, they are now familiar with more convenient and safer touch-free methods, and they’re not likely to let them go.

In Europe, high street chains have rapidly shifted to contactless payments, often refusing to accept cash. Meanwhile in the USA, levels of contactless payments have rocketed since the pandemic, after a slow initial adoption of the service – US banks only adopted contactless cards in 2019 compared to 2007 in the UK. According to Visa, overall contactless usage in the USA has grown 150% year-on-year as of May 2020.

Even mega-retailer, Walmart, has recently introduced contactless options for in-store shopping and delivery to protect its customers during the pandemic – showing there is growing demand for a touch-free and convenient way to pay across the world. This has raised awareness of touch-free payments among consumers looking to reduce contact-based interactions and time spent at the checkout during the pandemic.

 

Mobile payments are growing

Mobile payments are growing, again showing the desire for touch-free authentication among consumers. According to Forbes, the US mobile payment market – currently only sixth in the world – has increased 41% and is worth more than $98 billion.

To respond to the growth of touch-free payments among small vendors, PayPal has launched a new QR code-based payment app that allows market stall holders or businesses without a PoS machine to accept payment through a code. This means even the smallest of merchants, from small stores and farmer’s markets to craft sales, can now go cash-free and use touch-free payments for everything.

Meanwhile, China has long been using QR code-based apps, such as WeChat Pay from tech giant TenCent and AliPay from Alibaba. The apps are so widely used that street vendors display QR codes for payments and together the two fintech giants control about 90% of China’s digital payments market.

 

But card is still king

At the same time, payment cards are still consumers preferred way to pay. Of course, we only need to look to Apple and Google, who recently have launched physical payment cards despite running mobile payment apps for further proof that payment cards are far from dead.

So why aren’t cards on their way out, given the growth of mobile payments?

We know that consumers still look to payment cards for security and a sense of familiarity while shopping. According to IDEX Biometrics’ research carried out in the UK, only 3% of consumers choose to use mobile payments, while nearly two-thirds (65%) state that carrying their debit card provides a sense of security. And when it comes to touch-free payments, only biometric payment cards can provide the most secure level of validation with an easy digital experience for shoppers.

Despite the popularity of WeChat as a payment app, China’s biggest card provider China UnionPay has recognised that its customers aren’t ready to give up on physical payment cards either. China UnionPay has recently certified the first biometric fingerprint card technology in the country as they look to the use of biometric technology in cards to provide an extra layer of security, with added convenience and hygiene during a payment transaction.

 

Secure touch-free card payments

Biometric fingerprint payment cards provide end-to-end encryption – securing the user’s card and data. A fingerprint biometric card allows the user to authenticate their ID by touching their finger to the card’s sensor while holding it over the contactless card machine. Therefore the shopper only has to hold their own card over the PoS system and the entire transaction process is free of public PIN pads or checkout counters – making it no different to how consumers currently use contactless payments cards. This touch-free payment technology provides the consumer with the convenience of contactless or a mobile payment but with far greater security, as the card is personally tied to the owner.

Biometric identification is already firmly incorporated into our everyday lives. Thanks to unlocking our phones and authenticating payment apps, we are increasingly using our fingerprint to verify our identity. Now that consumers are familiar with the technology, biometric identification in payment cards will become essential to help consumers navigate the shopping and transaction process safely, speedily and securely.

As our economy gradually reopens, financial services providers must protect consumers during the transaction process. In stores, on transport systems – even in stadiums – a fingerprint biometric payment card will provide touch-free payment authentication for all.

 

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Business

THE BASICS OF BUSINESS FINANCE

When you’re starting your business, you’ve got a lot to be thinking about. You need to find affordable suppliers, market your business effectively, bring in paying customers, and perhaps even hire staff to get your fabulous idea off the ground.

Although they’re not the most exciting of these topics to think about, your business finances and how to best manage them should be at the top of your list. Get them right from day one and you can worry less about those smaller details and focus on making your business a success. Get them wrong, and you could be creating unnecessary stress and worry that could potentially harm your business.

With this in mind, here’s a useful introductory guide to business finance that can help you navigate the basics.

 

Find the right business bank account

Choosing a business bank account is a key decision that could either save or cost your business money. It will help you keep your personal and business finances separate, budget effectively, manage your accounts and complete your tax returns more easily, even if you’re just a sole trader. You may also be able to access financial support that has been specially tailored to your business needs.

However, business banks offer different services and charge different fees compared to your personal bank account. That’s why it’s worth finding out which account would be best for your business needs.

According to leading small business advisors Informi, “The high street banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest) have all upped their game in order to keep up with the digital-only offering of the so-called challenger banks (Monzo, Starling, Tide Business).”

 

Keep track of everything

Whenever your business spends money or earns money, you should make sure you’re making a note of it and keeping the information somewhere safe.

Getting organised early will simplify your bookkeeping and accounting process, form great business habits and help you stay financially in the black. Depending on your business structure, this may also be a legal requirement.

This should include, but not be limited to:

  • Incoming and outgoings
  • Invoices sent (including invoice dates, numbers and full client information)
  • Inventory details including dates purchased, stock numbers, purchase prices, dates sold, and sale prices.

 

Understand your tax obligations

Starting a brand-new business is an exciting time and the last thing you want to think about is taxes. However, you also don’t want to be hit with a large, unexpected tax bill at the end of the year. That’s why you should always be clear what your obligations will be and budget for it accordingly.

What you need to pay depends on whether you’ve registered as a sole trader or as a limited business:

Sole traders (self-employed): You’re liable to pay tax on all your income after your personal allowance is deducted. You’ll also need to pay your own national insurance contributions.

Limited companies: You’ll need to pay corporation tax and make employers’ national insurance contributions. Any employees must pay tax and national insurance on their income via a PAYE scheme. If you’re hiring freelancers, they may need to take care of their own tax.

This needn’t be confusing if you’ve kept financial records from the beginning and you’re clear on what you need to pay. For more information on UK government business taxes, visit their website.

 

Consider whether you need finance

Paying for your new equipment, premises, advertising, wages and other overheads can soon add up when you’re in the initial stages of starting your business.

If you don’t already have enough funding, you could get extra support from the government or bank. This may be in the form of a loan or grant such as the UK government StartUp loan.

However, be careful about taking on too much debt, especially during these unpredictable times of the coronavirus. Consider how much you can repay and make your decision accordingly.

 

Summary

Take care of your business finance basics and it will be much easier to start and sustain your new business during these challenging times.

Make sure that you choose the best bank for your needs, keep detailed records, understand your tax obligations and consider whether you need extra finance to help get your business off the ground.

But most of all, have fun! This is the start of an exciting new era in your life.

 

Sources
‘Choosing the best business bank account’https://informi.co.uk/business-administration/choosing-best-business-bank-account

‘6 Small Business Finance Basics You Must Understand’https://smallbiztrends.com/https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/01/small-business-finance-basics.html
‘Business finance and support’https://www.gov.uk/https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/finance-support·
‘Apply for a Start Up Loan for your business’https://www.gov.uk/https://www.gov.uk/apply-start-up-loan
‘Business tax’ – https://www.gov.uk/https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/business-tax
 ‘Finance Your Startup Business’ https://www.startupdonut.co.uk/https://www.startupdonut.co.uk/financing-a-business/start-up-funding/finance-your-start-up-business

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