Whether you live by your Twitter lists, save your Google Alerts or simply scroll through LinkedIn for insights and commentary – there is a wealth of content that weaves a global story around FinTech. Our job at FinTech Talents is to work within that global story – finding the news items, conventional wisdoms and hard data that aids us in bringing the industry the best Content, Community and Experiences in the business.
Every week, one member of our content team will offer a rundown of links and posts that filled our content channels over the previous seven days. Our rundown will offer a brief summary of the information, a link to the original post and an insight into why it ‘caught our eye’. All of this aims to offer you a chance to ‘Bookmark’ the timely resources and real time conversations that are shaping FinTech week after week.
This week’s FTT Bookmark is brought to you by Product and Content Manager at VC Innovations, Laura Camplisson.
Keep Your Head Up, Or the Crown Slips
This week saw the release of the long awaited Kalifa Review into the UK’s Fintech sector. Led by Ron Kalifa OBE, the report celebrates Fintech in the UK, but warns of an inflection point of opportunity and risk.
Focusing on the all too familiar threats of Competition, Brexit and COVID-19, the review outlines a number of necessary mitigation strategies. Kalifa stresses the UK’s need for urgent action as “others are waiting for our crown to slip”.
As expected, the review highlights concern as to how the sector can continue to attract international talent. An early reveal had announced a proposed priority visa for tech professionals, with the backing of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This would be a welcome development for Fintechs, whose ability to access global markets from the word go, is key to successful growth.
Another recommendation to catch my eye is the need for regional funding, as opposed to a focus on purely London-based investments. Also covered is the ability of Fintechs to scale effectively, with the review proposing a new “scalebox,” as opposed to the FCA’s regulatory sandbox aimed at start-ups.
How the UK acts on Kalifa’s recommendations remains to be seen, but hopefully, the review will lead to some positive changes across the Fintech sector.
Black Owned First Boulevard Raises $5million
US-based neobank First Boulevard, announced this week it has raised $5million in funding from a leading group of investors including Barclays, Anthemis, and angels such as Garbielle Union and Jamere Jackson.
Co-founders Donald Hawkins and Aysa Bradley, put plans in motion for First Boulevard’s launch following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. They set out to address what Black America needs to escape a vicious cycle of systemic issue without real solutions.
First Boulevard’s ambitious goals for their newly raised capital, include building a Black Business marketplace, offering free debit cards, providing financial education and developing technology to help members automate their savings goals.
Few people are speaking up about the ecosystem that it takes to sustain Black-owned brands.
— Donald J. Hawkins (@donaldhawkins_) March 1, 2021
The digital bank is one of several that have emerged in recent months out of the Black Lives Matter movement. For me, this points to a growing appetite to address the wealth gap in the US and face uncomfortable realities of the financial industry’s role in perpetuating economic exclusion.
With a team that is 60% black and 85% BIPOC, and a leadership that is 100% BIPOC and two-thirds women, First Boulevard is championing diversity and equity, and truly representing the community they aim to serve.
The Internet-of-Things in Outer Space
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d picked up a classic Sci-Fi this week, when reading the news that JPMorgan has tested blockchain payments between satellites orbiting the earth.
Umar Farooq, the CEO of JP Morgan’s blockchain business Onyx, told Reuters that the idea was to explore IOT payments in a decentralized way. “Nowhere is more decentralized from earth than space,” Farooq said, “Secondly we are nerdy and it was a much more fun way to test”.
But beyond ticking something off the ultimate nerdy bucket list, the test had some interesting results. It showed blockchain networks could power transactions between everyday objects and that a marketplace could be created to send data between satellites in exchange for payments.
Back on earth, JP Morgan has been one of the most active banks in blockchain, creating Quorum back in 2016 and Onyx in 2020. Umar Farooq explains that the bank is preparing itself for a future of payments via the Internet-of-Things, getting ready to process transactions which will one day be carried out autonomously by smart devices.
While the earthly outcomes of JP Morgan’s test may not become a reality for a number of years, it is certainly fun to test the boundaries of future possibility!
Remote Account Opening for SME Owners
A notable Digital Identity development came about this week as Singapore’s DBS bank announced that SME owners can now use facial recognition to open up a corporate account online.
This new onboarding process is an extension of a rollout to DBS’ retail bank customers over the past six months and uses Singapore’s SingPass national digital ID.
Faced with the impact of COVID-19, SMEs around the world have been forced to rapidly digitize procedures which just a few months prior were only carried out in-person. A greater urgency exists than ever before around removing any physical touchpoints left in the identity proofing process and it seems likely that DBS’ announcement will quickly become the industry norm rather than the exception.
As Joyce Tee, Group Head of SME Banking at DBS puts it, “Getting a corporate account opened is the gateway for SMEs to access the critical banking services they need.” The initiative represents a step forward for DBS’s SME banking customers, ensuring that business operations can continue seamlessly in the new normal ahead.
And finally this week’s wildcard story is Tom Cruise… or is it?
Many Tik Tok users have been bewildered this week by a series of videos posted by the account @deeptomcruise. The videos appear to feature Hollywood actor Tom Cruise but are actually the work of an extremely realistic deepfake.
Concern around deepfakes has grown in recent years, following viral news clips appearing to feature high profile figures such as Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
The word “deep” in the account name is a fairly clear indication that this particular Tik Tok user is not really Tom Cruise. But what’s to say the next account will make things so clear? TikTok doesn’t have any sort of inbuilt deepfake detector and by the time information has been flagged as false, it could be too late to reverse any damage.
So what do you think? A bit of harmless fun, or a serious threat to public trust?
@deeptomcruiseI love magic!♬ original sound – Tom