Fintech Insider News: Instant Gratification

Dhanum Nursigadoo
5min read

Picking apart the week on the Fintech Insider News show alongside hosts Sarah Kocianski and David M. Brear are Lucy Woolfenden, Marketing Director at Yolt and Pol Navarro, Digital Innovation Director at TSB. Sarah also catches up with Alex Park, Digital Director at Metro Bank for a one to one interview.

Listen here for the episode in full, stream it below or read on for extra insights.

AI Everywhere

“It’s all just paving the way to that personalised experience - Lucy Woolfenden
We headed up the show with a groundbreaking story, Metro Bank have released a money management app called Insights that’s powered by AI. But is this a true AI use case or is it just machine learning and if statements? The topic provokes a great deal of discussion amongst the panel, but as Lucy points out, it’s almost irrelevant. All this work in personetics is helping to creating a personalised experience for the customer, which creates value. The app monitors transaction data and spending patterns in real-time. This lets it create personalised prompts and tips to help customers avoid charges. There’s even more AI related news from BBVA, the Spanish bank has invested $50 million into a $500 million artificial intelligence focused investment fund. Run by the former president of Google China the fund is aiming to invest in both US and Chinese startups. Sarah notes that China are way ahead when it comes to AI and a Chinese fund gives them access to local knowledge. This fund has invested in 6 startups that have gone on to become unicorns.

Biggest Ant in the World

It’s the front facing platform for people to do everything - Pol Navarro
Ant Financial received a $150 billion valuation. It’s a staggering sum, ranking the company as 6th in China, just behind the four state controlled banks and insurer Ping An among the financial businesses in China. Ant Financial is now 50% more valuable than Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Alipay currently holds 54% of China’s mobile payments market but is keen to increase its dominance. Sarah notes that the payments system is currently stuck in a legal limbo, its founding chairperson is leaving, regulatory scrutiny is increasing, and their profits are being squeezed by the competition. But worst of all they’re being shut out of the US markets by the committee on foreign investments in the USA.

Lloyd Job Losses

If something goes really really wrong you still want to talk to somebody - David M. Brear
Lloyds bank has announced that it’s going to cut 305 jobs and close 49 branches in the UK. The move is in reaction to customers switching to digital banking. David notes that the decision is sad but necessary. The loss of point of service jobs follows Lloyds announcement that £3 billion is to be invested in digital transformation plans. Closures are set to affect both Lloyds and Halifax branches but mobile support branches will increase. Mobile support is travelling banking services that go to rural communities which may not have a branch and offer everyday banking on a strict timetable.

Dawn of a New Era?

VC funding in Europe is ramping up - Sarah Kocianski
UK venture capital investor Dawn Capital has raised $235 million for its third fund. The early-stage investor returned 3.3 times its first fund to investors thanks to a strategy of backing under-the-radar fintech and subscription software firms. Dawn Capital have backed Wonga, iZettle and cybersecurity firm Mimecast which went public in 2015. Yes Wonga is still around and they’re classified as fintech. Revolut launched their new Vaults tool. It allows users to round up purchases and save the spare change into a savings account that’s ring-fenced within their existing Revolut account. It’s similar to a lot of other fintech services that collect and protect change to create a fund.
Save the change has existed for a long time - David M. Brear
However, it’s also one of the most requested features from Revolut users and this sort of response is key to fintechs. Lucy remarks that it’s showing Revolut are taking on board customer input is huge in an ecosystem where consumers can feel ignored by their banking provider.

Transferwise Connects

Transferwise has become the first non-bank to connect to the Bank of England’s payment systems following five years of discussions. Now they can settle in real time instead of waiting for their banking partner to settle for them. Transferwise can now provide their service faster and cheaper than before, as they no longer need to go through one of the four agent banks to settle accounts with the Bank of England.
Most fintechs haven’t even been around for five years - Lucy Woolfenden
The Bank of England has done this to increase the proportion of settlement in central bank money. More settlement is done by the Bank of England instead of agent banks. There’ll be fewer links in the chain and a decreased risk of things going wrong. It should also drive innovation in risk-reducing payments technologies and combined this should increase stability.

From Central Perk to the London Stock Exchange

David Schwimmer was announced as the new CEO of the London Stock Exchange, prompting immediate hilarity on Twitter. Fortunately, it wasn’t the former Friends star who played Ross Gellar that had been appointed. London Stock Exchange’s David Schwimmer has 20 years experience at investment bank Goldman Sachs. He is replacing Xavier Rolet, who quit last November following a boardroom argument.

Livestream Hacking

Some ICOs will end up certified by exchanges - Pol Navarro
Ian Balina, the YouTube cryptocurrency expert, was allegedly hacked out of $2 million during a livestream. The YouTuber had been reviewing ICOs on his channel when a viewer notified him that his tokens had been removed from his wallet. Balina is a known name in the ICO industry especially as an influencer to casual investors. His YouTube channel has over 116,00 subscribers, while his Telegram channel has more than 26,000 members. Balina believes the attackers were able to access his account via his old college email, but since then he says the hackers have gradually began moving his coins to popular exchange desks like Binance and KuCoin. Sarah notes that Balina may have hacked Balina but it’s not really possible to tell. Don't forget to subscribe to the Fintech Insider podcast here and comment below with any insights you've got to share or join the Fintech Insider News community here.