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VIRGIN MONEY EXPANDS PARTNERSHIP WITH FINTECH LIFE MOMENTS

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Virgin Money is expanding its partnership with FinTech data expert company, Life Moments, to focus on the development of the sustainability elements of the Virgin Money offer to its business banking customers.

 

The agreement is the latest partnership from Virgin Money as it continues to develop its working capital health proposition, which will be launched in the Autumn.  This will transform the Bank’s existing business current account and forms part of its commitment relating to the recent £35m award from the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) Capability and Innovation Fund.

 

Life Moments is a leading provider of platforms and tools to improve customer experience and generate data insight. The company has worked with the Bank since early 2020, developing and launching Virgin Money’s Home Buying Coach app, designed to simplify the home purchase process and help first time buyers on to the property ladder. The company will now work on digitising and capturing customer responses to an ESG benchmarking tool, developed by the Bank in conjunction with Future-Fit Business, as well as integrating the results and data into the Bank’s new Business Current Account Wellness Tracker, providing tailored digital coaching for businesses.

 

Virgin Money, which joined the Future-Fit Development Council last year, is the first company in the financial services industry to use the Future-Fit Benchmark for commercial banking. The tool, which can be used by any business of any size, whether they are a Virgin Money customer or not, has a user-friendly set of questions to help a company understand its current position, via both an ESG score and guidance on the steps that could be taken to create a more sustainable model.

 

The agreement is also expected to contribute towards Virgin Money’s recently launched ESG commitments and aspirations, including at least halving its carbon emissions across everything it finances by 2030. Within business banking, and part of its BCR commitments, it will increase lending by an extra £2.2Bn by the end 2025 (£0.5Bn by end of 2022), with more than £100M of new lending going to clients pursuing environmental, social and governance aims.

 

Gavin Opperman, Group Business Director at Virgin Money, said: “Sustainability is a key element of our new working capital health proposition. Life Moments has brought exciting innovation into our mortgage business, so it was a natural progression to invite them to collaborate on enhancing our Benchmarking Tool and support our ambition to help our customers on all aspects of their ESG journey. We have created a strong base but there is more to do, which is why this partnership with Life Moments is so important the development of our new business current account.”

 

Ben Leonard, CEO and Co-founder of Life Moments, said: We are delighted to have the opportunity to extend our partnership with Virgin Money and apply digital coaching to business banking. We see many similarities between the support & nurturing we have developed with Virgin Money for first time buyers and how to help small business owners so are confident this will enhance the business banking proposition. Being able to apply our platform technology to helping businesses embed sustainability is extremely exciting for us and aligns perfectly with our profit & purpose mission.”

 

Graeme Sands, Corporate and Mid-Market Director at Virgin Money, said: “All businesses, whatever their size or industry, should be thinking about their approach to sustainability, ensuring that any future growth strategy takes into consideration the ESG impact of their operations. This isn’t an easy task, but those that do so often find new opportunities and we are committed to working with our customers and partners, like Life Moments, to provide the support and insight that allows them to work towards becoming a more sustainable business.”

 

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ACCESSPAY AND YAPILY PARTNER TO RE-DEFINE CORPORATE CASH MANAGEMENT

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FinTech scale-up AccessPay is pioneering a new Treasury solution for corporates, using Open Banking.

Enabled by Yapily, a leading Open Banking infrastructure provider, it will provide thousands of UK businesses real-time visibility into their cash position and transaction flows.

The integration enables AccessPay users to connect and aggregate their entire corporate banking estate at the click of a button.

This not only reduces the friction of using multiple systems, but significantly decreases the time-to-value for corporates from months to minutes.

The ability to join together data from multiple connectivity channels, means AccessPay can deliver a global solution, whilst enhancing the user experience within the EEA.

Until now, some corporates relied on outdated and manual processes to reconcile payments and manage cash across several company accounts. This presented costly challenges when monitoring financial performance and cash management.

As the world economy recovers from the impact of Covid-19, treasury teams need one centralised place to access reliable, secure financial data to support their businesses.

Harnessing Yapily’s Open Banking infrastructure, AccessPay has expanded its cash management product to thousands of mid-market and enterprise businesses.

This is the first use-case of Open Banking in corporate cash management to be brought to market and demonstrates how tech innovation is creating better services for businesses.

The collaboration between these two UK-based FinTechs will enable thousands of treasury and finance teams to make more informed financial decisions, as well as establishing reliable, automated processes around reconciliation, payroll and forecasting of company cash.

Yapily’s infrastructure will provide AccessPay’s customers, such as ITV, NSG and Imperial College London, with access to real-time banking data. This removes the need to manually download data using spreadsheets, which is error-prone, time-consuming and costly.

Surfacing the transaction data that treasury operations teams need to successfully support their businesses in making the right financial decisions, within one single view.

 

Winston Pearson, Senior Product Manager at AccessPay said: “We are delighted to be working with Yapily, another fast-growth FinTech, to drive digital transformation in the corporate space.

“Businesses and banks simply aren’t as connected as they should be in today’s global business landscape. Treasury and finance teams, the driving force of today’s corporate operations, need one central place to automate banking operations for complete visibility and control.

“With Yapily’s support and guidance, we’re able to expand our cash management solution to more of the market at this pace and scale. The integration has transformed a cumbersome process into a frictionless data flow for our customers.

“Thanks to Yapily’s industry-leading infrastructure and strong relationships with banks across Europe, we’ve been able to deliver a solution previously reserved for the few, to the masses.”

 

Stefano Vaccino, CEO of Yapily said, “Leveraging our Open Banking infrastructure in this way has enabled AccessPay to move faster and disrupt the corporate business landscape. This is an exciting development for Open Banking and demonstrates the benefits the technology brings to the ecosystem.

“Through partnering with AccessPay, we’re continuing our mission to expand the reach of Open Banking to a wide range of businesses. We look forward to developing our partnership with AccessPay and helping them continue to scale to new heights.”

AccessPay’s cash management service, enhanced by Open Banking, has been launched to the mid-market in the UK, and a broader European roll-out is planned later this year.

 

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VOLATILITY IS CRYPTO’S BEST FRIEND

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Stephen Ehrlich, Co-Founder and CEO at Voyager Digital.

 

Volatility is good for crypto. It serves multiple purposes as the whole crypto ecosystem matures, which we have to remember is an industry and technology that is still only just over a decade old. New and emerging industries are by their nature volatile as they move towards mainstream adoption. But the volatility attracts people, investors and technologists, who drive the pace of adoption forward and as it grows, volatility naturally decreases. In the case of Bitcoin, its volatility has steadily been decreasing over time and even the recent sharp moves have not seen such a big rise in volatility compared to historically (see chart below).

Chart showing Bitcoin Price and Volatility

Source: https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/volatility-index/

Volatility continues to attract participants as it is unquestionably in our human nature to be drawn to assets that are subject to rapid price appreciation. Throughout history there have been numerous asset bubbles that have burst, with Dutch tulips of the 1600s being the one that most referenced in relation to crypto-assets. But do tulips really provide any utility apart from looking and smelling good? Many crypto-assets actually provide a purpose, a utility, and serve as the backbone to new technology protocols upon which useful apps are being built. This is why we are seeing greater adoption and as the whole market continues to grow, we are now seeing institutions embrace Bitcoin by diversifying into it as an alternative store of value. This is why volatility is good for crypto. But another harsh reality is that it allows people to learn about the risks, as well as the rewards, of getting involved. Hopefully this is done with the assistance of their chosen broker or through educational webinars, video, and other collateral.

Yes, there will be many that will get their fingers burnt, especially if they employ leverage into their trading without a disciplined approach to managing risk. The same can be said of the internet boom and bust in the late 1990s and early 2000s that saw many a “dotcom” go bust. Leverage was around in those days too, so unfortunately many people learnt the hard way, but it is a necessary evil for the industry to become even more established. For Bitcoin, we have seen multiple bubbles burst, with 2017/18 being the last cycle and soon after the sceptics were suggesting the end for crypto-assets was nigh. But those who see the technology’s potential were keeping their heads down and building amazing platforms and applications. If we take a look at Bitcoin today, it’s clear that the end is nowhere near.

Volatility also attracts the attention of regulatory authorities, another natural evolution of nascent industries. On occasions though, there can be overregulation. Whilst the sentiment behind the UK’s FCA ban on retail investors being able to trade crypto derivatives is right, in respect to trying to provide greater investor protection, it can limit choice and ultimately drive investors to offshore brokers that may afford much less regulatory protections. If an investor really wants to employ leverage in their trading then they’ll find a way to do it, so perhaps rather than an outright ban, perhaps limit the amount of leverage they can use instead.

Bans certainly don’t help liquidity and are actually counterproductive. We’ve seen multiple decisions to “ban” crypto reversed as authorities realise that people simply circumvented it by using a VPN or other means to buy Bitcoin. India is now set to vote on a crypto ban, but at the same time they are due to introduce their own Central Bank Digital Currency, which in itself sends out mixed messages. As governments become more knowledgeable on crypto-assets and understand how they are totally borderless, bans are likely to become less and liquidity will continue to improve further.

Coinbase’s prospectus filing and the fact that the SEC is allowing this anticipated $100b direct listing to come public, with significant consumer involvement, is further acceptance of digital assets by the authorities. The continued evolution of the industry going mainstream and public companies vetted and allowed to move forward by the SEC, foreshadows the long-term outlook by the SEC that this industry is here to stay and regulation and acceptance of digital assets as an asset class is forthcoming. Regulation adds legitimacy to the industry and will attract a broader audience of investors and participants, as oversight gives comfort to a larger group of investors.

Regulation is very important, but it needs to find the balance that protects consumers, yet also fosters adoption of what is a truly ground-breaking technology and asset class. So, for those people that complain about crypto markets being too volatile, we NEED volatility in order for the whole ecosystem to thrive.

 

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