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The top predictions for the year ahead  



David Rosa, General Manager of Wallets, Disburse and FX at Rapyd


Despite the current global economic landscape, the year ahead still offers plenty to be optimistic about when it comes to fintech innovation and commercial uptake of emerging fintech solutions.

From multi-currency treasury solutions  to digital identity, faster payment networks  to super apps, David Rosa, General Manager of Wallets, Disburse and FX, at Rapyd outlines his fintech predictions for the year ahead, and explains why continued investment in global payments infrastructure will allow companies to seek new growth and revenue-boosting opportunities across the globe in 2023.

#1 The rise of multi-currency treasury solutions – Middle-market businesses looking to expand overseas need cash management systems that can simplify cross-border commerce. Expect multi-currency treasury solutions to feature prominently in their 2023 operational strategy. These allow businesses with international operations or international expansion ambitions to manage funds globally without the complexity, frustration, and added expenses of managing multiple banking relationships, payment providers and funds flows across countries and currencies.

 #2 Super apps as neo banks – Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter haven’t always been coherent to the outside world, but one of his previous comments regarding the acquisition was a stated desire to create a US ‘super app’, an umbrella app covering multiple different apps/services within it. Super apps are already big news in Asia, and Musk is not the first to try and replicate it. Uber has long been trying to mirror the success of Asian super apps such as Grab and GoJek.

But it will be financial services, rather than taxis or food delivery, that could hold the key to encouraging super app adoption. Alongside bank deposits, securities, crypto, and lending “as a platform” offerings, super apps will be able to play the role of neobanks, challenging both traditional and digital banks by delivering a wider range of financial services for customers. They will also create more ways to engage with existing customers, opening new customer bases via partnerships and increasing app engagement rates.

#3 Embedded finance will enable cross-border commerce – Companies of all sizes crave sustainable growth and new customers as the global economy slows, yet cross-border payments have a reputation for being slow and costly, creating a major disincentive for firms to explore overseas expansion opportunities. In contrast, embedded fintech acts as a uniting force between regulation and payment networks – it enables businesses anywhere to transact faster, cheaper and easier, allowing them to expand across borders and reach new markets and customers. Buoyed by these possibilities, I expect more non-financial companies to embed financial services as part of their commercial offering in the year ahead.

#4 Rapid adoption of virtual cards – Virtual cards will continue to surge in 2023 as they reinvent expense handling, allowing businesses to wave goodbye to inefficient manual checks and let accounts payable departments concentrate on their financial obligations. Industries such as hospitality are seeing particularly rapid adoption, with the latest breed of virtual cards introducing new protection for all transaction participants, and the market is expected to grow to $60bn by 2030.

#5 Smarter Identity is (slowly) becoming a reality – Digital identity networks have been slow to develop, but we see them building momentum as the year progresses, giving individuals and businesses in more countries easier ways to complete KYC – ‘know your customer’ – searches via digital platforms. This will speed up customer acquisition and onboarding and, assuming everything functions seamlessly, build trust in digital verification.

Of course, data security remains a concern for individuals and a major headache for businesses, particularly in regions with high payment fraud rates, or in industries with fewer regulations such as cryptocurrencies, where the lack of identity markers remains a significant barrier to the broader adoption.

#6 Gig economy as major consumer of fintech solutions. Amongst others, Covid redefined the labour market around the world. Official unemployment numbers are painting a bleak picture but are missing the point. The workforce, particularly Gen Z, has adapted to having multiple, smaller, jobs rather than a main one. Online platforms dedicated to the gig economy are going to grow to the next level in 2023, mostly powered by easy to onboard, easy to use fintech solutions which enable them to grow into new labour markets, fast.

#7 BNPL 2.0 and better financing options – BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) originated with high penalties on missed instalments, hidden fees and a requirement for some percentage of funds to be paid upfront. BNPL 2.0 brings the promise of lower fees and a better customer experience with more transparency and incentive plans for its users. Alongside this, another significant advantage for BNPL 2.0 is that it doesn’t affect the customer’s credit score, unlike instalment plans with traditional credit cards.

#8 Faster payment networks – As locally-regulated real-time payment networks roll out globally, money will move much faster domestically and cross-border.” Bilateral cross-border partnerships are increasingly sponsored by governments who recognise their power in helping the free flow of commerce. This is evident across the world. We see UK and European businesses adopting these networks to expand into new markets or hire across borders.

#9 An explosion of online marketplaces – Online marketplaces are expanding at around 15% per year. To differentiate themselves as more and more rivals emerge onto the scene, marketplaces will need to focus on the customer experience, speeding up onboarding and providing better and more relevant value-add services to their users. Against this backdrop, they will need to rely on payment and fintech-as-a-service platforms for more of their back-end payment and financial services capabilities. Marketplaces that create platforms tailored to the banking and payment needs of the buyers and sellers within specific verticals will be best-placed to fulfil client needs.

#10 Volatile payment preferences – Payment preferences are forever fluctuating and it can be tough to keep pace with how businesses and consumers are behaving in different markets. For example, instant payments are now one of the biggest trends in Latin America, disrupting the payment options for in-store and online sales. In the UK, 29% of consumers have used Apple Pay for a recent online purchase. Given the huge amount of ongoing innovation across the payments industry, and end-users’ apparent willingness to try new approaches – anything that’s quicker, more convenient, or likely to save money – it’s likely that preferences will continue to ebb and flow in the year ahead.


How to identify the signs that your IT department need restructuring



Eric Lefebvre, Chief Technology Officer at Sovos


For firms to execute transformations and meet their overall vision, it is crucial that their CIOs are able to recognise the signs that their department is in need of some internal change. In the current economic climate, CIOs working to fulfil their organisation’s priorities and meet business goals might hesitate to acknowledge that their IT department needs restructuring, never mind be able to identify the signs.

However, these problems rarely fix themselves and organisational restructuring requires conviction and determination from leadership for it to occur successfully. So, what are some of the key signs that CIOs should look out for?

Eric Lefebvre


Struggling to keep up with industry demands

CIOs unsurprisingly are working in an extremely demanding environment at the moment. Meeting these evolving demands is crucial for companies. When demands are not met and not handled properly, this can have a lasting impact on organisational goals and objectives, and even impact the way in which transformations are put into effect.

Depending on the organisation’s structure, the way in which being unable to keep up with demands manifests itself can differ. Despite double digit reductions across the industry, the search for talent across the tech world continues, project costs continue to rise as the cost of labour has increased and schedules have been disrupted by significant attrition. Many companies will also find business costs, such as that of third-party software, are higher than planned and technology debt continues to pile up faster than it can be sunset.

Whilst leadership teams might dedicate their department’s attention on the factors discussed above, they may find that their team will fall short when it comes to timely deliverables and helping maintain your organisation’s tech stack and guide its business transformations. Looking beyond the immediate problems of high costs and considering an internal reshuffle may be the solution for many IT departments.


Internal conflict within the team

Organisational designs with underlying issues can cause constant friction, especially when they go unacknowledged. An IT department that lives in conflict will certainly be reflected in results and less than successful tech transformations. CIOs will find that by adopting an organisational design which works through staffing issues, will better innovate, especially if they can all work together.

Department leads should have a strong understanding of their team’s work environment and guide them through any long-term or potential problems. When an individual is working in a demanding or complex industry, working well with your team shouldn’t be the main impediment to innovation. By acting quickly to eliminate internal conflict, CIOs can better lead and ensure their team’s focus is entirely on producing more optimal outcomes.


Delays are commonplace

When a large amount of your team’s time is spent setting objectives, budgets and timelines for the projects they are working on, it is vital that they are met. When delays are coming from the IT department, they will inevitably hinder the development of any business transformation, especially if it prompts teams to spend excessive amounts of time rearranging budgets and timelines and therefore hindering innovation.

IT departments are a crucial aspect in many different parts of a company’s transformations, so remaining on track when it comes to timelines and innovation is critical to operational plans. If delays have become commonplace in an IT team, and external factors are impacting projects, CIOs should look at restructuring an IT department to solve these issues.

The strongest team relationships do not happen by accident and are the result of good planning, strong leadership and a motivated team. CIOs can ensure this by providing vision and long-term strategy with clear goals and objectives to produce high levels of quality output.

When internal issues are noticed in an IT department, and are noticeably impacting team morale or productivity, this should indicate the need for departmental restructuring. Be that due to an inability to meet market demands, issues with productivity and meeting deadlines or internal conflict, these issues all risk a department’s functionality and an organisation’s ability to achieve its goals. In short, don’t overlook the warning signs!


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Top banking trends of 2023 and global outlook of banking and fintech for the year ahead



Author: Professor Marco Mongiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor, The University of Law Business School


You’d be forgiven for assuming that the global outlook for banking and fintech will be dominated by the usual suspects:

Artificial Intelligence – AI plays an increasingly prominent role in banking and fintech by enabling personalised services, fraud detection, predictive analytics, use of chatbots and robo-advisors.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency – the secure, decentralised and swift system for financial transactions that blockchain has brought to the fore a few years ago, is now becoming ubiquitous. An increasing number of transactions are recorded through blockchains technology, primarily in the cryptocurrency market.

Digital Banking and fintech – accelerated by COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of digital banking is a trend that will persist as customers have become accustomed to the convenience and efficiency of digital banking. Moreover, fintech enables access to financial services for previously underserved populations in developing countries or less affluent social groups in more affluent societies. This includes mobile banking services, peer-to-peer lending platforms, and microfinance solutions.

Open Banking – another global trend is the use of open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow third-party developers to build apps to facilitate customers’ access to financial data and services from banks.

Nonetheless, the challenges posed by these rapid changes are reminders that banking, an industry that by its very nature needs to be conservative, risk averse and solid, wobbles on the unchartered grounds of fast and turbulent innovation, where entrepreneurship instead thrives. The underlying rationales of banking and fast digital innovation are not incompatible but do need solid operations and thought-through decision-making to avoid causing catastrophic collapses.

The recent examples of Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate, FTX and Wirecard are stark reminders that digital entrepreneurship applied to banking doesn’t just bring to customers the visible transformation of valuable new services, but also dents (perhaps as an unexpected consequence) the rationale itself of the role of banks in the global economy. Moreover, the central banks’ ability to contain the effects of single banks’ defaults is no longer a certainty, as experienced just over a decade ago and more recently. The markets’ sentiments are hardly reassured by the commitments of even the most coveted players, such as the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, and the President of the United States himself.

Regulators are lagging behind and their attempts to catch up may cause further seismic shocks to the global banking system. For example, another trend that is emerging is one of artificial intelligence decision-centres (i.e., decentralised offices of banks which take autonomous decisions on behalf of investors) outside the most stringent regulatory environments, enabling banks to operate globally more efficiently and more competitively. And we can expect that regulators will close the gap either abruptly, as it is currently happening in China, where private banks are subject to an escalation of regulatory and monitoring restrictions, or more gradually as it is happening in Europe and in the US.

The questions we face, as individual or trade customers of our high street banks, as direct investors or clients of managed funds, are whether banking will become more user-friendly yet, for our daily use but riskier, too, or is it simply becoming more efficient, transparent and also safer.

I’m afraid that the answer is by no means an obvious one. Therefore, caution, level-headed decision- making and critical thinking have never been as important as these days. Whether you are looking after your family savings or growing your pension reserve, the imperative is that you keep updated about the providers of the financial services you rely upon as well as about the general regulations that apply to your financial transactions. This is where, for example, you need to be familiar with your rights in case of cyber fraud, as well as learning how to minimise the risk of becoming a victim thereof. Also, taking additional steps to evaluate the credibility, solidity and reliability of the online provider of that app that was recommended by a trusted friend, may prove a very good move.

Similarly, whether you are the CFO of a medium or large company, or are a sole trader wrestling with your own business’s finances, you need to reflect on what you really want from your bank in the first place. That is before you started to be swayed by the whirlpool of offers of ‘opportunities’ to multiply your financial investments. Chances are that your initial approach to your bank was dictated by either a need for financing your working capital, as per your budget and strategic plans, or to find a safe place for your temporarily idle liquidity. Perhaps you were also after some basic treasury services such as swift payments and debt collection. Maybe some other financial services closely related to your business operations, e.g. factoring. The advice is to give very careful consideration to services that are more remote from your business, because the trend for the next years is that more and more of those will be offered to you. But many new services will disappoint those who, sadly, cannot afford financial mishaps as they look to run and grow their business.


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