News > FinTech

Could Russia launch a state-run "BitRuble"?
FinTech
<p>The Russian state could launch its own version of Bitcoin. At least that's what's being speculated after the Central Bank of Russia put together a team to research blockchain technology.</p> <p>This is less than a week after Sergey Solonin, general director of Russian payment services provider Qiwi, said his firm was developing BitRuble: a blockchain-based digital currency pegged to launch in 2016. According to the Coin Telegraph, this has led to a rumor - further spread by Spain's El Mundo - that BitRuble could be a new national digital currency overseen and managed by the state central banking system .</p> <p>This is interesting because the Russian state has been very critical of Bitcoin and even banned Bitcoin-based websites for a brief period at the beginning of the year. Only last week Russian Ombudsman Pavel Medvedev said Bitcoin was "absolutely illegal" and called it "technical hooliganism," his point being that only the Russian state should be able to issue money in the country.</p> <p>This latest development is not a case of the Russian state getting on board with Bitcoin, but more likely a case of it using blockchain technology to exert greater control over the use of digital currency. Whatever Russia's next move is, it will set an interesting precedent for state adoption of crypto-currencies.<br /> Photo: Nickolas Titkov<br /> &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Inaugural fintech meetup to focus on opportunities in Hong Kong
FinTech
<p>Hong Kong is catching the fintech bug. And now Cyberport and NexChange are launching a monthly meetup to put together startups in the region to discuss critical issues: fund raising, growth, talent search, and more.</p> <p>The inaugural Fintech O-2-O Meetup will take place on Tuesday, September 22 and is expected to attract about 200 delegates from startups in the area as well as investors and customers. Increasingly, founders are discovering that online -to-offline is a key element in developing their ideas and relationships with potential clients.</p> <p>Fintech is attracting big money. More than $12 billion was invested last year, according to consultancy firm KPMG. The U.S. accounted for almost 80% of the total, followed by Europe with a 12% share and Asia a lagging third place with 6%.</p> <p>The event at Cyberport should help both entrepreneurs and investors in Hong Kong learn about the tremendous opportunities in this sector. </p> <p>Leading practitioners will share their experiences across a range of FinTech segments such as payments, peer-to-peer lending and portfolio management.</p> <p>Chris Dark, president international of C2FO will deliver the keynote speech. There will then be a panel discussion that includes Mukesh Bubna, founder &amp; CEO of Monexo Innovations, James McKeogh, partner at KPMG, Van Ta, founder of Suisse Tech Partners (STP) and Dominic Wong, head of large merchant acquisitions at PayPal.</p> <p>NexChange and Cyberport look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday! To register, click here.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
The 3 most important things in Asian fintech right now
FinTech
<p>Asia is becoming a major force in fintech and its ecosystem is already broad, covering various sub-sectors across payments, lending, data security and risk management - to name a few.</p> <p>So what’s important? At a KPMG FinTech Forum in Hong Kong today,  the industry was boiled down to three main three themes: blockchain, financial inclusion, and regulation. James Mckeogh, a partner with the firm  - AKA KPMG Hong Kong's “Mr. Fintech” - explained why they are important:</p> <p>Blockchain</p> <p>Forget Bitcoin, it’s all about blockchain - Bitcoin's underlying technology. Over the next 18 months this will be one of the biggest areas of investment for fintech. But its not about handling cryptocurrencies, said Mckeogh, its about using the technology to achieve speed, "auditability," and control on any asset-based transaction. “We are seeing a huge rise in interest in the blockchain and a rise in the development of solutions utilizing blockchain as a protocol, and we will continue to see that rise,” he said. He also predicts the next three months will see the emergence of solutions that will fundamentally change the way financial institutions transact. </p> <p>Financial inclusion</p> <p>This is not about giving money to poor but about making sure the right financial services get to the right people at the right time, said Mckeogh. While a lot of the focus has been on the African subcontinent, there a lot of people under-served in Asia. "This isn’t the non-banked,” said Mckeogh. “This is just these under-banked, and we are going to see Hong Kong play a key role in developing and rolling out the solutions, in order to address that gap.” This space will not only be about technology development but also product development, he added, sharing  ideas to come up with the best product to take to the under-banked market. </p> <p>Regulation</p> <p>There is already a lot of development going on to address issues of compliance that arise as banks try to keep up with technology. “Real time monitoring is really coming into play, and we are seeing a real  change in how regulatory issues  can be addressed,” said Mckeogh. “It comes down to collaboration and  the number of the companies that are addressing this issue.” The only way  to solve the issues over fintech regulation, he added, was through economies of scale and not working in silos. By sharing information and working collaboratively, banks can affect better regulation and make sure it is geared  towards new ways of working in a turbulent time for the financial services industry.</p> <p>James Mckeogh will join a panel discussion at the NexChange and Cyberport Inagural Fintech O-2-O Meetup on September 22.<br /> Photo: FamZoo staff</p>
IBM gets behind the blockchain
FinTech
<p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have struggled to find mainstream appeal, blockchain, the ledger like technology that they run on, has been touted as one of the most important technological advancements of the past decade. The system has the ability to facilitate transactions in a way that many say will transform more than just the financial industry.</p> <p>That idea is now being put into practice by tech giant International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), as ...</p> <p>Read the full story on Benzinga.com.<br /> Photo: Kansir</p>
Full stack fintech: Will finance have its Uber moment?
FinTech
<p>In the world of fintech startups there is an important distinction to be considered: Is a business full stack and partial stack?</p> <p>The distinction is important because the emergence of full-stack startups could be the biggest threat to industry incumbents. Unsurprisingly, banks are so far throwing most of their  support behind partial stack fintech startups.</p> <p>In his blog,  Andreessen Horowitz and general partner Chris Dixon predicts a full-stack movement in the fintech space, similar what has been seen  in other sectors. But so far fintech start-ups are predominantly partial stack: taking new technologies and then selling or licensing them to big banks.</p> <p>The new approach is to offer an end-to-end solution, cutting out existing players. This is full stack. Think about what Uber has done to taxis, Netflix to cable, or what Tesla is on the verge of doing to the motor industry.</p> <p> If a fintech start-up can pull off a full stack solution, it is hard to replace. That said, the barrier to entry is high and the startup would need to be good at many different things - from software and hardware, to marketing and logistics - to make it a success.</p> <p>If there is a movement in this direction though, the banks should be nervous.<br /> Photo: me and the sysop</p>
How Bitcoin is shaking up the gambling world
FinTech
<p>Betting with Bitcoin is not new. The anonymity it offers has seen it be adopted for various illicit purposes since its inception and gambling is no exception. But now Bitcoin - and the nascent digital gaming industry it supports - wants to go mainstream.</p> <p>Gaming platform Augur is one of the ways in which this is happening. Augur allows participants to wager money on any future event they want - including sports events.</p> <p>The software sets the odds, collects the bets, and disperses the winnings. All the money in the system is Bitcoin, or other types of cryptocurrency, no credit cards or banks are involved.</p> <p>While peer-to-peer betting already exists on platforms like Betfair, Augur's use of blockchain technology means there is no middleman and no way to switch it off. It is drifting into uncharted waters and some are worried about its implication for governments and business. </p> <p>In the Racing Post, Tom Kerr looks at the implications of this for horse racing, but it easily applies to other sports. Firstly, the combination of an anonymous betting exchange and anonymous cryptocurrency will make it hard to keep the sport fair, he says, as racing relies on bookies flagging up suspicious bets.</p> <p>Also the platforms like Auger threaten to massively disrupt existing bookies by having no middlemen, no overround and no commission beyond 1%. It is very early days for the space Kerr adds, but the technology is now there and the  trend is going nowhere:<br /> At some point, unregulated and uncontrollable betting platforms like Augur may become commonplace. If that happens it will make the disruption betting exchanges caused to gambling and racing seem like nothing.<br /> Photo: John Athayade</p>
The bank that is also an operating system
FinTech
<p>The accepted wisdom around fintech currently is that banks need to think of themselves as technology companies if they want to stay relevant and ride out the oncoming wave of disruption. </p> <p>Few banks has take this message to heart as much as Germany’s Fidor bank which just unveiled its new banking platform: FiderOS. </p> <p>Broadly speaking, this so-called bank operating system is a way Fidor bridging the gap between traditional banking and new fintech-enable banking. </p> <p>The platform uses something called APIs (application program interfaces), these are similar to kinds of protocols that let you use popular internet services, like Facebook or Google, with third party services. Banks have been making limited use of APIs for a while.</p> <p>But Fintech blog Finovate explains that banks like Fidor are at the vanguard of an API revolution in banking. Why is this important for banks? In short, it is helping banks stay relevant by connecting, and not competing with fintech. </p> <p>These protocols are not only at the core of the next wave of  fintech innovation but are key to linking the old and the new. The flexibility afforded by the cloud computing and APIs offer banks a way they can apply fintech solutions that enhances their ongoing operations without the massive infrastructure cost.</p>
Indonesia: A rising fintech powerhouse?
FinTech
<p>When it comes to financial innovation in Asia, it’s China that has gobbled up most of the headlines of late, with tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent expanding aggressively into areas such as payments and banking. But perhaps we should be casting our gaze further south, to Indonesia?</p> <p>There are plenty of reasons to be bullish about Indonesian fintech. With around 255 million people, it is the region’s third most populous country after India and China, and has the fourth largest population globally. </p> <p>A large chunk of this population is also unbanked. According to Deliotte, the country has 110 million "bankable unbanked" citizens. Indonesians are crying out for fin-tech solutions and companies are coming into fill the breech. </p> <p>TechInAsia, recently put together a list of nine Indonesian startups that currently springing up across areas as such as payments, product comparison., lending, cloud technology, and data services. The sheer diversity of this nascent space indicate Indonesia might be one to watch.<br /> Photo: Bindalfrodo</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
The rebirth of Google Wallet
FinTech
<p>Rumors of the death of Google Wallet have been greatly exaggerated. While Google Wallet may have been supplanted by Android Pay, the internet giant’s latest NFC payment platform, the product will stick around as a P2P platform.</p> <p>The new pared down app will focus only on sending money, offering the same functionality seen in the old Google Wallet app and Gmail's "attach money" feature in a standalone format. The pivot will put Google Wallet up against the likes of Square Cash and Venmo. </p> <p>According to The Verge, all users will retain their original Google Wallet balances inside the new app. But only Android users can access Android Pay, meaning iPhone owners will be shut out from access to gift cards, loyalty programs, and promotional offers. </p> <p>The re-launch coincides with the unveiling of Google Wallet's mobile payments successor which will be the bludgeon with which Google hopes to thwack Apple’s aspiration of mobile payments dominance. The new platform began rolling out in the US last week  and works with all with all NFC-enabled Android devices running KitKat 4.4 and above on all US mobile carriers. American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, Citi, and Wells Fargo are said to be all aboard. <br /> Photo: Prairie Kittin</p>
Barclays to allow charities to accept bitcoin -- but why?
FinTech
<p>British bank Barclays has announced that it would allow charities to accept bitcoin, reports Coindesk.</p> <p>Banks have been jumping into bitcoin as some kind of savior for financial services and the monetary system. Banks, the ultimate intermediary, are hawking the anti-intermediary.</p> <p>But the truth is, they just haven't found any really great uses for it yet. The best case for it so far has been Silk Road. And, well, we know where that led. Argentina is another case where bitcoin is gaining traction -- the monetary unit there is so subject to inflation, who would want to hold it for more than a nanosecond?</p> <p>It's just not clear why a donor would prefer to donate to a charity via bitcoin. Does anyone have any thoughts?<br /> Photo: Antana</p>