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HOW TO FIX A PROBLEM LIKE WIRECARD IN 60 HOURS

By Shachar Bialick, Founder and CEO Curve

 

On Friday 26 June, the Financial Conduct Authority suspended its permission for Wirecard Card Solutions Limited (the company which issued the Curve Cards and processed transactions for us) to operate, without prior notice or warning. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’ve now seen, this didn’t just affect Curve, but many other companies relying on Wirecard in the financial sector.

So, that Friday, with just two hours notice, we were forced to temporarily suspend all Curve transactions and money transfer services, which meant that no one was able to use their Curve card from Friday at 12:30pm GMT

Thankfully, as part of our planned growth strategy, we had already started our transition away from Wirecard a few months back by becoming a principal member of Mastercard. This means that we were able to bring more of our core processes in house, as we continue our mission to simplify and unify the world of money for people across the globe.

Over that weekend, and thanks to a herculean effort from the entire team at Curve, along with our partners at Mastercard, and we’ve successfully completed our migration away from Wirecard, bringing our Card and E-money issuing in-house. This process was brought forward to minimise disruption and restore the service for our customers at the earliest possible opportunity and is a truly remarkable feat, completing a process that would ordinarily take months in just a few hours.

 

But that’s only one half of the story.

In addition to issuing, Wirecard were also our acquiring partner, responsible for processing Curve card payments. And so, whilst plans for finding a new global acquiring partner were already well underway as part of our U.S expansion, no partner had been picked and no deal had been signed.

 

So how to solve a problem like acquiring at a moment’s notice?

Enter: Checkout.com – one of Europe’s finest fintechs and, as luck would have it, the agile, flexible, hard-working heroes we needed to get us back up and running at the earliest possible opportunity.

And so, by 9:30pm on Sunday, fewer than 60 hours after we were first told Curve Cards would be suspended, we had:

  • Brought our card issuing in-house (Thanks Mastercard and GPS)
  • Sourced, signed, and integrated a brand new acquiring partner (Cheers Checkout.com)
  • Onboarded and set up Settlement and Safeguarding accounts (Merci Investec)
  • Tokenised and started testing cards (Thank you engineers)
  • Got Curve back up and running with better partners, better technology, and better unit-economics (awesome work everyone)

 

When the going gets tough….

We are so proud of our team here at Curve, and our customers should be too. This weekend shows us that we are a very unique and resilient company. Our team has achieved what many have believed would be impossible in the last two days. We are strong, we are united, we are agile, and we are… exhausted, but forward we go. We hope that we’ve proven to all, including our beloved customers the true value of being an Over-The-Top Banking Platform.

And whilst we are on the subject of our customers… Wow. The support from them has been truly overwhelming. We’ve had messages, tweets, DMs and a wave of public support like no other in our history – fuelling the team and keeping us going as we continued furiously down the path to get Curve back online.

The best companies often grow out of the toughest situations and although this has been one of the most testing times in our history, we have grown a hell of a lot in just a few days. Curve is stronger, confident, more cost-efficient and in a better position to build, innovate and scale for the future.

To paraphrase a famous bank, we are not just a fintech, we are part of something much, much bigger.

 

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Business

WHY AUTOMATING CAN FUTURE PROOF YOUR BUSINESS

By Ryan Demaray, Managing Director SMB EMEA at SAP Concur

 

Every business has administration duties that can be considered mundane and time consuming  but are a necessary core function of operations. Whether it’s paying suppliers on time or processing expense requests, tasks such as these are necessary for the day-to-day running of a business – however it’s safe to say that these tasks are never ranked as the most engaging or rewarding by your employees.

With a UK recession on the horizon, finance teams are under pressure to not only control costs but provide guidance to the business on where savings can be made. This will only happen if your employees are able to focus on tasks that not just keep a business running but allow them to add further strategic value.

Automating the invoice function is just one step towards giving your finance team back valuable time, not only creating a more efficient and productive workplace, but a positive employee experience that supports growth and stability across your business.

 

The gateway to better efficiency 

From receiving the invoice, inputting data, chasing approvals and moving it down the chain of command, research shows that it can take an average of 17 business days to manually process an invoice. For SMBs with a finance team of approx. eight people, implementing an invoice management solution can save on average 69 hours per week.

By allowing the technology to do the heavy lifting, your finance team can use the time to focus on more strategic elements of the business. This includes providing them a moment to take a step back and holistically look at the spending trends and costs across your business. By doing so, they can often pinpoint spend patterns, but also identify cost reducing opportunities, providing visibility and guidance to help positively impact the bottom line in the short and long-term.

 

Enabling growth and accuracy

As your business grows the number of vendors and suppliers you use often increases in parallel. This growth in external stakeholders can cause challenges and maintaining consistent and timely payment of invoices to suppliers is crucial. The Federation of Small Business estimates that late payments contribute to 50,000 insolvencies annually, costing the UK economy £2.5bn. The UK government recognised this and in 2019 implemented a prompt payment initiative, aimed at helping small suppliers get paid on time by enterprises, with the potentially penalty of not awarding government tenders to those who do not adhere to the prompt payment practice.

In addition to this, inhibiting the lack of cashflow to small business through late or unpaid invoices can have more than just a monetary impact. With poor invoice payment practices, your business reputation is likely to suffer damage, which in turn carries consequences across with future suppliers, as well as customers.

Through invoice automation, you are able to streamline your finance and accounting processing by making sure that payments are processed in time, resulting in avoidance of payment delays, calls from suppliers querying about invoice payment timescales and vital staff time responding to these.

 

Supporting employee engagement

Employees’ experiences affect their work outcomes and carry the benefits of high engagement, increased productivity, and a lower staff turnover. Creating a better employee experience is a challenge faced by many SMBs, but once cracked can provide benefits across your business.

More than just providing a workplace environment and culture, businesses with motivated employees can find recruitment and onboarding costs reducing, with retention rates increasing.

But it’s not only the employee that benefits from a better experience – your customers do as well. With many often on the frontline of customer interaction, it’s difficult to keep customers happy if your staff member is disengaged. By employing tools that allow the automation of mundane and repetitive tasks, employees can focus on aspects of work which they care about most.

 

Future proofing for tomorrow

Digital transformation is here and for SMBs employing an automated invoice solution, is a positive step in becoming a business that is ready for scale and growth. Not only will it help benefit your bottom line, it will create positive staff experiences and efficiencies, that help truly optimise your business – now and in the future.

 

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Business

COULD GRAPH TECHNOLOGY BE A POWERFUL WEAPON AGAINST CORONAVIRUS FRAUD?

Crisis funds and loans put in place to help support businesses during the health emergency have become a prime target for cybercriminals. Neo4j’s Amy Hodler examines how graph technology could be a powerful weapon against these scams

 

Fraudsters will use any opportunity to siphon off funds illicitly, and the pandemic is proving no exception. With coronavirus moving rapidly across the world and locking down countries in its wake, cybercriminals have been quick to launch sophisticated methods to callously exploit the situation.

Cybercriminals have been fast to impersonate trusted organisations such as the World Health Organisation, which has itself seen a five-fold increase in cyberattacks since the start of the crisis.

The pandemic is opening the doors for fraudsters who are taking advantage of changes in normal business processes, controls and working conditions to carry out fraudulent activities. Security controls, for example, are often not as strong as normal due to the speed aid is required and the fact that many people are teleworking.

Amy Hodler

Cybercriminals are using fake or stolen identities to draw down governmental emergency funds. In France, for example, the Paris Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into massive fraud of the country’s temporary unemployment scheme where fraudsters have drained €1.7 million. It is investigating potential international links to the fraud.

In a statement Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz said that more than 1,740 fraudulent operations were discovered across the country on behalf of 1,069 different businesses asking for wire transfers to over 170 different bank accounts.

 

Can financial services’ practices help?

Aid departments and organisations should look to the mature practices of the financial services industry for a lead in combating fraud. Here firms repeatedly and meticulously check and compare transactional data to look for suspicious behaviour that may indicate an attack.

Like applications for financial aid for the impact of the coronavirus, malevolent actors look to defraud financial institutions using false identities when creating accounts and putting together loan applications. Personal data such as addresses, telephone numbers and emails are cleverly assembled to model assumed and phony identities.

 

A need for a different approach

One of the main reasons traditional approaches fall short is that most fraud detection systems are based on a relational database model where data is stored in predefined tables and columns. With large, unstructured data sets, relational databases swiftly reach their limits; queries turn out to be far too complex and response times lag. Banks and government authorities need the ability to follow a trail from one account to another, viewing a fraud network as a whole complete entity to work out how activities are linked.

Unlike relational databases, graph database technology not only represents individual items of data such as person, account number, home address, but also their relationships with one another such as how they are related. Any number of qualitative or quantitative properties can be assigned, showing complex relationships in an easy to understand way.

One of the best graph algorithms for fighting coronavirus cybercriminals is ‘PageRank’, which finds important nodes (objects) based on their relationships and interprets them using visualisation tools. For fraud detection in banking, the algorithm identifies important or influential customers who are featured in a large number of financial transactions. Nodes with a high PageRank Score can be illustrated using a visualisation tool so that they appear larger in the view and can be immediately picked up.

Another key algorithm is ‘Weakly Connected Components’, which works to reveal the hidden networks that form a fraud ring based on common identity features such as multiple applicants all residing at the same address. These hidden connections provide invaluable information when hunting down fraud.

 

Uncovering fraud rings with incredible accuracy

 Cybercriminals are continually developing attack methods, sharing infrastructures to maximise their opportunities for success. Graph technology has the capacity to help stop advanced fraud scenarios in real time.

Graph databases can help future proof an organisation’s fraud prevention initiatives by enhancing insight based on data relationships and building connected intelligence.

 

The author is Director, Analytics and AI Program at Neo4j, the world’s leading graph database company, and co-author of Graph Algorithms: Practical Examples in Apache Spark & Neo4j, published by O’Reilly Media

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