News > FinTech

India joins the global push to bring digital cash to the poor
FinTech
<p>The world’s second most populous country, India, has joined a global initiative to bring digital money to emerging economies.</p> <p>The initiative is called the Better Than Cash Alliance and it is backed by a group of development organisations, foundations and private firms like Citi and Visa.</p> <p>The idea is to bring digital money and financial services to countries like India where the vast majority its impoverished population are unbanked.</p> <p>This mission chimes well with the Indian government’s financial inclusion program; an ambitious effort led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make sure every Indian household is covered with a bank account in a matter of months.</p> <p>The government - which is targeting those people who typically do not hold accounts: women, small farmers, and laborers - claims it has helped see 175 million new accounts opened with deposits of more than $3.4 billion.  </p> <p>By joining the alliance, the government says it will have access new research, technology, and policy partners as it seeks to exploit new ways of shifting the population toward banking a electronic payments.</p> <p>Which is no doubt fantastic for India’s rural poor, but even better news for the people they will be banking with.<br /> Photo: Sistak via Flickr</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Private instant messenger service thumbs its nose at critics
FinTech
<p>Symphony, a messenger software for the banking sector, has taken a lot of flak recently. Backed by around fifteen large banks, the encrypted service had more than a few fans in the financial sector.</p> <p>Regulators hate it. The American Banker reports that Senate Banking Committee member Elizabeth Warren, among others, has come out saying the service would compromise regulators ability to stamp out fraud, and facilitate shenanigans like the Libor rate-rigging scandal. </p> <p>Symphony’s CEO David Gurle - who has had numerous meeting with US officials - appears unfazed by critics’ regulatory sabre-rattling and insists the service will go ahead with its planned September 15 launch. </p> <p>But he is going to have to convince the nay-sayers of Symphony’s merits to shift the focus away from its users. David Weiss, senior analyst at Aite Group, had this to say:<br /> "These are shots across the bow at Symphony's investors, whom they perceive as bad actors, not at Symphony itself. There's no regulatory oversight of Symphony as a company by any of these folks."<br /> Photo: Eleazar</p>
Now there’s a “matchmaking service” for banks and fintech start-ups
FinTech
<p>So banks now have a matchmaking service where they can hook up with financial technology startups. Its called Matchi.</p> <p>The Financial Times reports that Barclays, AIB, and Standard Bank are among a group of lenders partnering with fintech companies through Matchi. </p> <p>Accountancy firm KPMG has also struck an alliance with the online platform which it will introduce to its banking clients. Matchi will then support these clients with technology integration and advise on deals.   </p> <p>By “sponsoring” the platform, banks get privileged access to innovations developed by the startups. For example, the platform recently connected an Israeli fintech firm offering customer authentication with a global bank in India.</p> <p>It is another case of banks looking to embrace fintech start-ups, and the digital services they developing, rather than competing directly with them. In other words, keeping your enemies closer. </p> <p>Hopefully, the banks are getting into fintech for the long run, and not just a meaningless one-night stand they might regret in the morning.<br /> Photo: Jamz196</p>
Secret agents, pirates and cheaters: Bitcoin’s darkside
FinTech
<p>Bitcoin has always had a reputation problem. While the former currency of choice for drug-dealers and porn-peddlers on the so-called dark-net has gained some mainstream acceptance, its shadier past has come to the fore this week.</p> <p>The most recent scandal is the story of Shaun Bridge, a 33-year-old former US secret agent who has pleaded guilty to stealing of $800,000 using bitcoin. According to Reuters, Bridges was supposed to be part of the investigation that brought down Ross Ulbricht, AKA Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder of dark-net marketplace Silk Road. Instead he exploited the chance for an illicit bitcoin windfall.    </p> <p>But perhaps an even more sordid story out this week was about the affair site, Ashley Madison. According to Business Insider, recently leaked user account information from the site is being used to blackmail hapless adulterers en masse...for bitcoin. Here is the message the blackmailers sent:<br /> Unfortunately your data was leaked in the recent hacking of Ashley Madison and I now have your information. If you would like to prevent me from finding and sharing this information with your significant other send exactly 2.00000054 bitcoins (approx. value $450 USD) to the following address…<br /> Unfortunate indeed. While it may be difficult to feel sympathy for people who play away, it does highlight how criminals can easily exploit the anonymity of bitcoin - something that no doubt puts many potential bitcoin adopters and investors ill at ease.   <br /> Photo: Vincent Diamante via Flickr</p>
SmarTone’s Kiss of death to cash payments
FinTech
<p>Hong Kong mobile operator SmarTone has elbowed its way into the payments space with the launch of a new service called “Kiss.”</p> <p>The online-to-offline platform, which took two years to develop, is intended for medium-to-large-sized business, reports the South China Morning Post. </p> <p>Using Kiss, merchants will be able to connect with their customers through the Kiss Wallet platform that links digital marketing and loyalty programs with data analytics and mobile payments. The first batch of retailers have already signed up and the service will be rolled out in December. </p> <p>SmarTone is starting with Hong Kong, but the biggest opportunities lie overseas. By licensing out the technology behind the platform to third party network operators, SmarTone hopes to eventually tap other markets, the plump prize of course being Mainland Chinese networks. </p> <p>New York-based research firm eMarketer predicts mobile e-commerce sales in mainland China will make up 10.9% of all retail sales in the country next year and 55.5% all online retail shopping.</p> <p>That said, Smartone will be entering a crowded space in China where e-commerce players  like Alibaba Group and JD.com have already rolled out their own payments platforms.<br /> Photo: Walt Stoneburner</p>