FinTech

PayerMax Granted Full Major Payments Institution License To Offer Payment Services By Monetary Authority of Singapore 

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5 January 2022

PayerMax will be able to provide a full suite of payment services in Singapore including cross-border and  domestic money transfers, and merchant acquisition services. 

PayerMax, an omni-method global payments solution announced today  that its group entity Int Payment Technology Pte. Ltd has been granted the Major Payments Institution  (“MPI”) licence by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) under the Payment Services Act 2019.  Focused on powering borderless growth of businesses, PayerMax supports more than 350 local payment  methods across Southeast Asia, South Asia, MENA and LATAM, and recently made its Asia debut at the  Singapore Fintech Festival last November.  

PayerMax will be able to provide a full suite of payment services in Singapore including cross-border and  domestic money transfers, and merchant acquisition services. 

With a large, banked population, access to smartphones, and wireless broadband rates in Southeast  Asia, Singapore demonstrates technological readiness for mobile payments. 

Lee Yi Liang, Regional Head of Compliance and PayerMax Singapore’s local Director said, “Singapore’s  MPI licence shall soon be the pièce de résistance for PayerMax’s regional payments hub, as it conjoins  Singapore’s vision to build an e-payments society that is innovative, inclusive, and inspiring. It is  heartening for us to receive the government’s regulatory approval, and we look forward to powering  homegrown businesses to seize opportunities to multiply growth within as well as beyond borders  fuelling the Singaporean economy. PayerMax recognizes that Singapore offers an exceptional regulatory  playbook for financial services, which is why the granting of the Payments Institution License is a clear  testament to the robustness of our compliance framework and risk management practices.” 

The digital payments landscape in Southeast Asia is expected to reach US$1.5 trillion by 2030,  highlighting the saliency of cashless, contactless, and cross-border payments. 

Elaborating on their plans for the region he says, “Singapore has always been our strategic foothold, as  we dedicate more resources and manpower to enable businesses to flourish across the diverse market  that is Southeast Asia. Working hand-in-hand with regulatory ecosystems, we will leverage private and  public sector partnerships to drive and power the payment infrastructure of e-commerce, gaming and  

entertainment. Our core tenet to success is ‘collaboration’ and that will ultimately shape the future of  digital payments in the region.” 

Established in 2020, PayerMax is the emerging markets’ leading regulated digital payment provider  servicing online merchants that have ambition beyond borders. PayerMax empowers global merchants  to achieve growth around the world, by providing a full-stack solution where localised payment methods  are accepted at scale, within a highly secure, robust, and compliant environment. PayerMax is  headquartered in Singapore with head offices and presence in Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Brazil and China (Shanghai, Hong  Kong). 

World’s First Banking-as-a-Service Open Source License

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 24 November 2022

Open Finance technology leader Brankas has developed a first-of-its-kind open source license for the next generation of Banking-as-a-Service and Open Finance software.

Open Finance technology leader Brankas has developed “Brankas Open”, a first-of-its-kind open source license for the next generation of Banking-as-a-Service and Open Finance software.

The “Brankas Open” license is meant to encourage digital banking and fintech innovation and lower the cost barriers for startups, neobanks, and even traditional institutions to quickly prototype and launch new solutions, while retaining their own source code. Customers will benefit from more choice and better user experience, as companies have open access to use, modify, redistribute, and collaborate on the publicly available Brankas Open code.

The inspiration for Brankas Open came when Brankas received a grant from the Monetary Authority of Singapore in November 2021 to develop Brankas APIX Open Core, a proof of concept open source core banking system.

Recognizing the need for a modernized Open Source framework to address new Open Finance technology, Brankas looked to existing open-source licensing frameworks in order to develop Brankas Open. Brankas felt that this framework was necessary to protect community contributions, ensure open access, and comply with financial institutions’ data protection and security requirements.

“Brankas’ Open license allows our teams to build and contribute in a way that is fair, equitable, and open to independent developers, FIs, and to our partners. With this license, Brankas is able to continue to invest in the greater open source community, and to share our code freely with the world,” stated Brankas co-founder and CTO, Kenneth Shaw.

Brankas has been advised by Ren Jun Lim, Alex Toh and Darren Leong from Baker McKenzie’s Singapore-based Intellectual Property and Technology (IPTech) practice group.

NETS Launches NETS Prepaid Card: Its First ‘Smart’ Stored-value Card For Retail And Transit

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 22 November 2022

Using NETS App, users can top up on-the-go, track and manage their household expenses with peace of mind as stored value on a NETS prepaid card can be retrieved even if the card is lost.

Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), Singapore’s leading payment services group, today announced the launch of the NETS Prepaid Card, its first ‘smart’ stored-value card for retail and transit.  Consumers can use the card at over 120,000 acceptance points, making NETS Prepaid Card the stored value card with the largest number of acceptance points locally.

The wide acceptance together with smart features enabled by NETS App, makes the NETS Prepaid Card an ideal choice for families looking to better track and manage their household expenses, and the perfect gift card that can be tailored to consumers’ preferred value and design.  Commuters can also link their NETS Prepaid Card to TransitLink SimplyGo app, an initiative to introduce contactless payments on trains and buses through the partnership with various payment schemes, to see their trip details.

Smart and secure contactless payment, with budget tracking capabilities for the family

Up to 10 cards can be linked to one NETS account through the NETS App, to access features such as topping up on-the-go, locking and requesting refund for remaining stored value for misplaced cards, setting daily spending limits, and monitoring transactions made on each card.

Users can easily top up their NETS Prepaid card via the NETS App through various means, which include NETS bank cards. The user’s preferred payment card can also be stored on-file to speed up the process. Once a NETS Prepaid Card has been linked to a NETS account, users can review the transaction history via NETS App and also configure auto top-up whenever the card balance dips below a certain amount.

Daily spending limits of up to S$1000 can be set for each card, which takes effect immediately and can be changed on the fly, making it an ideal stored value card to help family members and domestic helpers to pay digitally while ensuring that they stay within budget.

To help minimise possible fraud or abuse of the NETS Prepaid Card if it is misplaced, users can lock the card with the simple tap of a button on the NETS App. Locking and unlocking the card takes effect immediately and there is also an option to permanently terminate the NETS Prepaid Card to refund the stored value.  

Lawrence Chan, Group CEO of NETS said, “The NETS Prepaid Card is part of our continued effort to connect communities and empower lives. Families will be empowered to take control of daily expenses as they can provide their dependents and domestic helper with contactless payment options that can be easily tracked. Additionally, this card can be quickly disabled if it is lost. This card is most valuable as it can be used at all NETS acceptance points and mass transit.”

The perfect card for retail and as a gift for friends and family

The NETS Prepaid Card is also an excellent gifting card as consumers can spend at any NETS accepting merchants for shopping or for public transport. Users are also not limited to fixed denominations in their gift cards and can top up auspicious numbers like $88, up to a cap of $100 per top-up.

Whether it be a nice cup of coffee at a café, some additional groceries at the supermarket, or a shopping spree at a nearby mall, the ubiquitous acceptance means that recipients of the NETS Prepaid gift card can spend it on their preferred options. From S$5, users can also customise the card face of their NETS Prepaid Cards at www.customcards.com.sg/nets-prepaid-card/

Hassle-free purchase, smooth public transport travel

Additionally, the NETS Prepaid Card can be used for public transport, allowing commuters to top up the card on-the-go instead of spending time queuing at physical top-up machines. The NETS Prepaid Card can also be topped up and managed via the NETS App, available on both Google Play and Apple App Store. Through the NETS App, users can also set up automatic top-ups for the card to ensure that there are always sufficient funds for their daily commute.

There is no minimum age or income requirement, no annual subscription fees and no credit checks for the purchase of the NETS Prepaid Card. Consumers can purchase the NETS Prepaid Card at 7-Eleven convenience stores, Buzz, Japan Home, Mustafa, Sir Handphone, TransitLink Ticket Offices at MRT stations and bus interchanges, NETS Customer Service Centre as well as Lazada and Shopee. The card will also be sold at Sunshine Star and J.B.I Trading from December onwards.

Hong Leong Bank Cards Amongst One of the First in Malaysia that Can Now be Added to Google Wallet

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 15 November 2022

With Google Wallet, close to 65% of HLB customers who are Android users will enjoy simple, secure and seamless contactless payment experience.

Hong Leong Bank and Hong Leong Islamic Bank cardholders can enjoy a simple, secure and seamless contactless payment experience with Google Wallet starting today.

Google Wallet is a mobile app that offers a simple way to make contactless payments with Android phones or Wear OS devices. The move to enable HLB credit and debit cards and HLISB debit cards (collectively known as HLB Cards) customers to add their payment cards to the Android platform is part of the Bank’s efforts to implement another convenient way to enable mobile payments.

Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of HLB said, “Aligning with our Bank’s “Digital at the Core” ethos, we are very excited to be one of the first banks in the market to support Google Wallet for our cards. With the rapid adoption of DuitNow QR codes, mobile banking apps and mobile wallets, mobile payments have seamlessly integrated into the digital lifestyles of Malaysians and are one of the preferred transaction methods today. Working together with Google is part of our continuous efforts to offer simple and frictionless payment services to our customers.”

With Google Wallet, HLB cardholders are able to make contactless payments leveraging on near-field-communication (“NFC”) via supported Android devices by adding their HLB Cards to the Google Wallet app. Cardholders can then tap to pay wherever contactless payments are accepted.

According to Andrew Jong, Managing Director of HLB Personal Financial Services, “As Malaysians increasingly embrace a digital, mobile-led lifestyle, we remain agile in meeting the ever-changing customer needs. Smartphone penetration in Malaysia is close to 95% and many daily activities are already facilitated digitally. With Google Wallet as a new feature, close to 65% of our customers who are on the Android platform will enjoy an easy, safe and secure usage and payment experience.”

Similar to contactless transactions performed using the physical card, payments through Google Wallet also share the same daily maximum amount for contactless transactions. Transactions amounting up to RM250 do not require PIN verification.


Southeast Asian Countries Are close to being on par with Singapore on FinTech regulation

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 15 November 2022

A tightly-knit group of Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are following closely behind  Singapore. Singapore continues leadership in FinTech regulation in Southeast Asia, affirmed by the analysts of Robocash Group.

A comparative picture of national FinTech regulation in the countries of Southeast Asia is based on the sum of 13 criteria based on the public information – availability in the country of  special FinTech laws & acts, sandboxes, government initiatives, etc. (full list of criteria is described below).  Singapore remains the undisputed leader in Southeast Asia’s FinTech regulation. The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are making swift progress. Vietnam falls behind but is forecasted to strengthen the FinTech regulation in the near future. 

In general, the regulatory landscape of Southeast Asia is already approaching a singularly high saturation and will become evenly distributed further next year.

Singapore (score 60). Being a regional FinTech hub, Singapore leads in the field of FinTech regulation, serving as a kind of benchmark. National regulation is distinguished by a productive history of the sandbox established back in 2016, a developed regulatory landscape in relation to individual FinTech areas. Singapore features a whole list of efficiently working frameworks and core projects, overall high activity within several national projects and strategies, and an active local FinTech association.

Philippines (score 56). The Philippines is confidently pushing for the leadership position, surpassing Singapore in certain areas (the e-money regulation and other FinTech areas). Upon the development of FinTech sandboxes and open banking, the country may yet become a new regional leader. In fact, the Philippines is already on its way to meet this prerequisite: both directions are in the process of active development.

Malaysia (score 55). Malaysia demonstrates a similarly high development level of FinTech regulation. The country’s notable features are the setting of FinTech as one of the national priorities, as well as the overall proactivity when it comes to everything FinTech.

Thailand (score 54). Thailand is just marginally short of making the Top-3. The country has a very rich history of FinTech development – it was here that the first crypto-currency regulation regime in the mainland of Southeast Asia was introduced; the transition to e-money licensing was carried out back in 2004-2008, etc. There are three main regulators (BoT Central Bank, SEC regulatory agency, insurance regulator OIC), and as many as 5 FinTech sandboxes.

Indonesia (score 52). Indonesia has come a long way in terms of FinTech regulation. This is facilitated by the presence of two base regulatory bodies – the Central Bank of the Bank of Indonesia and the OJK regulatory department, which, for one, entails the parallel operation of two FinTech sandboxes. With a comparable level of development across most criteria, online banking regulation and customer identity initiatives remain potential hotspots for growth.

Vietnam (score 35). Currently, the regulatory field in the country can not be identified as developed. However, there is rapid progress (for example, beginning of e-money regulation in 2021, efforts to organise a national FinTech sandbox, etc.), which leaves no doubt that the country will noticeably strengthen in this regard in the near future.

Cambodia (score 34). The local achievements rightfully include the developed regulation in the field of Payments & Transfers, a whole system of FinTech associations, and the bold experience of implementing the national digital currency Project Bakong. However, local regulation obviously still has a long way to go.

Laos, Myanmar (score 17, each). These countries are only beginning their journey towards full-fledged FinTech regulation. Although, some national initiatives are likely still hidden from the global community.

The ranking of countries is based on the translation of the 13 public-information-based criteria:
1. Sandbox — FinTech sandboxes. Notably, if there is just one significant project operating in the country, it equates to the value of “3”, while if there are several – to “4”;
2. Special Fintech Laws & Acts — the presence of a developed legislative FinTech landscape in the country (cumulative assessment);
The Regulatory group of 6 criteria. A score of “4″ means that the industry is clearly regulated at the official level with the issuance of special licences.
3. The level of official regulation of Online Banking;
4. E-money (electronic and mobile money and wallets);
5. Payments & Transfers (digital payments and transfers);
6. Alternative Lending (alternative lending, incl. P2P lending, crowdfunding, online micro-lending, etc.);
7. Blockchain/Cryptocurrency;
8. Others (other FinTech areas: brokerage, online insurance, digital currency exchange, etc.).
9. Frameworks — the presence of national regulatory and technologically unified spaces in the areas of open banking, data protection, cybersecurity and others;
10. Identification, NYC — the development of national systems of personal authentication and identification;
11. Associations — presence in the country of one (“3”) or more (“4”) active FinTech associations, including self-regulatory ones;
12. Strategies — availability of long-term state programs for the development of FinTech;
13. Initiatives — existence of other significant government FinTech initiatives.


Report Shows Organizations Rethinking Conventional Business Processes And Practices 

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 11 November 2022

Report reveals the top focuses for companies in the next year are strengthening security, digitizing payments, and improving usage of analytics.

Endava, a global provider of digital transformation, agile development and intelligent automation services, today released their 2022 Global Payments Study. The report covers the norms of today’s business-to-business (B2B) payments on a worldwide scale, the challenges of operating a manual process, the benefits of digitization, and what payments could look like in the future.

“Over the past two years, companies began to challenge their reliance on the legacy systems they were supposedly tied to and wondered how they could improve their daily processes,” said Scott Harkey, Executive Vice President, Financial Services & Payments, Endava. “Our data reveals a payments landscape where organizations are no longer satisfied with the status quo and are using modernization initiatives to increase efficiency.”

Key insights from the report include: 

  • Checks and cash are no longer the dominant methods they once were, equaling roughly a fifth of global payment volume combined.
  • Paper-based methods comprised less than a third of payments volume for all the regions in the study.
  • North America trails APAC, MEA, LatAm, and Europe in payments modernity. North America scores lower due to relatively high check volume (16%).
  • Organizations often rely on multiple tools for making payments. Bank-provided bill pay portals are the most widely adopted, but many also use ePayments software.
  • The top focuses for companies in the next year are strengthening security, digitizing payments, and improving usage of analytics.

The Future of Payments

To help anticipate the future of B2B payments, Endava asked survey respondents about their organization’s top initiatives and how they plan to alter current payment method volume in the future. The highest priority initiative was strengthening security which is congruent with the high number of organizations citing fraud as a top challenge in domestic and international payments. 

Digitizing payments was the second highest priority initiative for respondent organizations. To accomplish this, organizations plan on aggressively increasing usage of methods like digital wallets, real-time payments (RTP), cards, virtual cards, and Automated Clearing House (ACH) and decreasing dated, paper-based ones like checks and cash. Of those currently utilizing them, a sizable percentage of organizations also plan on increasing cryptocurrency usage in the future. However, many organizations identified crypto (as a means of paying vendors) as not applicable to their business.

Insights by Industry

Looking at the study by industry, Endava data shows that retailers were more likely to have issues with payment errors, data management, late payments, and compliance. These issues often come from inconsistencies in the way payments are handled. Compared to the average, companies in the mobility vertical suffer from customer inquiry management, disparate technology, fraud, and payment errors. 

Insurers and non-bank finance organizations have more quantifiable challenges than companies in other industries. These include days payable outstanding, lack of visibility into payments, duplicate invoices, and reliance on paper-based processes. Many of these problems are more directly related to invoicing.

Geographic Trends

North America: 

  • Endava experts assert that both RTP and digital wallets are ripe for growth in North America. 
  • On the consumer side of things, Americans have mostly moved away from cash and check for their C2B and P2P payments, but this modernization has not yet carried over to businesses. 
  • Younger generations, who are far more likely to expect a digital payments experience, may cause a shift in these antiquated habits as they assume roles as small business owners and finance professionals.

Europe:

  • Endava research shows next-day bank-to-bank transfers comprise a larger volume of payments in the EU over any other region. 
  • Cash and checks are at a lower volume in the EU compared toother regions. 
  • These payment methods are a rarity in Europe because the digital alternatives for transferring money are easy to use and ubiquitous. 

Middle East and Africa:

  • Parts of the MEA region have some of the largest RTP payment volumes out of all the locales included in the study. 
  • Saudi Arabia has had rapid adoption in the use of real-time payments despite only introducing the service in 2019. 
  • The percentage of cash transactions among MEA respondent organizations is high, as is the usage of alternative methods, which can include cash-on-delivery, a popular payment option in both countries.

Data Summary

The data for this study comes from a 2022 survey of over 1,000 organizations of all sizes and industry verticals (except for banking institutions). Respondents were at the senior management level and above and possessed intimate knowledge and decision-making capacity on their organization’s finance and payments strategy and processes.

SWIFT Is About To Become Swifter: But Are You Ready For Mandatory ISO 20022?

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Sumeet Puri | 8 November 2022

Sumeet Puri, Chief Technology Solutions Officer, Solace.

SWIFT is almost the de facto standard for international funds transfers, so its mandatory adoption of the ISO 20022 standard for cross-border payments in March 2023 will have a profound effect on banks and financial services institutions. The ISO standard has the potential to completely transform cross-border payment processes, which have traditionally been saddled with delays, high costs, and opacity due to a lack of standardization and a reliance on legacy systems. 

Sumeet Puri, Chief Technology Solutions Officer, Solace, explains how event-driven architecture (EDA) can fast track banking and financial services technology change to meet these ISO regulatory requirements, and at the same time open up new opportunities and capitalize on future industry changes.

Fast Track The Adoption Of The ISO Standard & Open Up A Wealth Of Business Opportunities Using Event-driven Architecture

In recent years, digital payments rapidly have become the de facto method for Asia’s financial services ecosystem. In part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the Asia’s population have increasingly adopted digital payments and cut back on the use of cash. In fact, a recent Mastercard study revealed that 88% of Asia Pacific consumers have used technologies such as digital wallets, QR codes, and other innovative payment methods in the last 12 months – significantly higher than their North American or European counterparts. 

The region is also the largest contributor to the global payments revenue, generating over $900 billion in 2019, nearly half the global total. Banks, longstanding service providers, and fintech innovators all rely heavily on the existing digital payments ecosystem for cross-border activity, connected commerce, and a burgeoning cashless economy. 

Underpinning this adoption of digital payments is SWIFT, the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services and the primary method of international funds transfers. Used by a vast network of banks to exchange messages relating to money transfer instructions, SWIFT messages direct the transfer of nearly $5 trillion worldwide each day.

The widespread and mandatory adoption of the ISO 20022 standard by SWIFT will allow for improved payment transaction data quality and greater interoperability between international payment schemes, revolutionizing the way cross-border payments are transacted and managed, while reducing resource burden, simplifying processes, and allowing faster payment reconciliation.

In 2021, an average of 42 million payments and securities transactions were processed using its FIN (financial information) message service per day – underscoring SWIFT as the platform of choice for financial institutions worldwide and demonstrating its relevance to the future growth of the digital economy. So, with SWIFT making the adoption of ISO 20022 mandatory in March 2023, it is critical that financial institutions in Asia overhaul the way they send payment instruction messages. While many financial institutions are already in various degrees of adoption – some in planning, others deep in execution – fundamentally, this is no small undertaking.

Transforming Cross-border Payment Processes – The Timelines

All banks are on the countdown clock to make sure their message interface at least supports the receipt of ISO 20022-compliant messages. The migration of SWIFT and a range of Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) systems will broadly take place over three years from November 2022 to November 2025.

SWIFT won’t completely retire existing message formats (MT and MX) or the FIN number system until 2025, but the new ISO 20022-based CBPR+ system became an option for early adopters in August and is generally available in November.

Banks struggle to keep pace with digital-first competition

Fintech start-ups have the advantage of being much younger and founded in the digital age. Their systems are often created in the cloud and have a modern architecture that gives them the agility to adapt to market trends and regulation, the flexibility to innovate, and the opportunity to maximize the customer experience – especially across digital touchpoints.

In contrast, the legacy nature of older banking institution IT systems means they generally encounter difficulties at the best of times when trying to adapt, particularly in terms of scalability, flexibility, reliability, and complexity. Banks still have numerous manual touch points when handling payments data, such as trying to reconcile missing data or incorrect data.

Multiple steps happen in each and every payment that can further complicate and stretch legacy architecture. First, there is the question of funding – without this we’re going nowhere. Does the institution have the money? Is the money there in the savings account? When you’re funding from a credit card account, can the funding occur within the credit limits? Then, currency validation happens, further complicated when tax considerations are raised. Finally, we’re through to clearing & settlement – where the exchange actually happens.

The Questions That Must Be Answered Before You Start

A recent EY report zeros in on the technology change required to meet ISO 20022 standards: “Setting up the right technology and infrastructure to benefit from this will be a key measure of success, as it is likely to bring notable cost savings. We expect banks to be increasingly focusing on this throughout 2022.”

There is a real opportunity here for banking organizations to build a tech stack that offers many more benefits and a richer environment than simply meeting ISO 20022 requirements.

Every bank has a different journey ahead based on their technical debt and their strategy. Software architects face decisions when moving forward with their infrastructure – do they build their own tech stack to meet ISO 20022 and further modernize their payment process, or do they look to third-party vendors, and/or opt for complex integrations?

For the software architect there are more questions:  Are they going to use cloud for certain workloads, while staying on premise for others? Are they going to need real-time analytics, insights, and fraud management? How are they going to deal with bursts, lowering value and cost, and increasing volumes of transactions?

The Future Of Modernized Payments And Banking – All Roads Lead To EDA And An Event Mesh

This is where an event-driven architecture (EDA) and an event mesh can address not just the immediate need to comply with new ISO 20022 standards, but the pressing need to modernize banking and payments as a whole. Event-driven architecture is a design pattern that has been adopted by digital leaders across industries reliant on real-time data dissemination, such as capital markets, retail and aviation.

The core of EDA is the business “event”, where something occurs – for instance, as payment transaction – that drives the immediate distribution of information about that event so systems and people across the enterprise can react to it. The fundamental building block of EDA is the event broker – an intermediary that routes data between systems that publish event information and those that subscribe to this information.

Events are published on “topics”, which are like addresses on courier boxes. They consist of a noun, verb and some meta data. For example, ‘payment’ being the noun, ‘settled’ being the verb, and ‘SGD, Internet Banking, Hong Kong’ being the meta data, collectively giving us a topic like ‘pay/settled/sgd/ib/hk.’ Once published, events can be subscribed to by various applications, for example, ‘pay/settled/>’ will generate all payments which have been settled, while ‘pay/*/sgd/ib/>’ will give you all internet banking payments in Singapore. These event topics can then be mapped to the meta data in the ISO2022 standard for easy event routing.

Now, enter the event mesh. This is a network of event brokers that dynamically distributes information about events from one application to any other application, no matter where they’re deployed – cloud, private cloud, public cloud, or any combination. This non-restrictive approach provides banks and financial institutions with the flexibility to consume whatever events they want, with no complex integrations. Even if they want to consume these events in a cloud or at another site – the event mesh takes care of making the right event stream available wherever they want.

Not Just Payment Processing: EDA Comes With Tech And Business Benefits – And Traceability

An event mesh built with a network of event brokers dynamically routes events across the payment ecosystem for faster and more efficient transaction completions. Yes, there are technical benefits – such as the ability to unlock legacy assets; leverage best-of-breed technologies; prepare for open banking; and simplify governance. 

The business benefits are equally significant – reducing cost per transaction; accelerating payments; sharing institutional knowledge; and streamlining partnerships so that banks can offer products through other businesses and payment providers without causing IT headaches.

There are also noteworthy traceability and end-to-end observability benefits across a payment ecosystem underpinned by EDA. Embedding distributed tracing into an event mesh emits trace events in OpenTelemetry format so banks can collect, visualize and analyze them in any compatible tool, empowering them to not only confirm that a given message was published, but easily understand exactly when and by whom, where it went, down to individual hops, who received it and when…or why not.

Recent research validates a growing appetite in financial services for event-driven architecture. Specifically, the study shows that financial services was the most advanced sector exploring EDA, with more than a quarter, (27%), of financial services companies having a central team promoting EDA within the organization and looking at using the technology platform to better detect and react to opportunities or threats in a timely manner.

Move With The Constant Evolution Of Banking And Financial Services

A mandated ISO 20022 standard underlines the importance of being able to move information quickly and efficiently inside and outside of banking organizations – and highlights how changes are required in banking tech stacks to accommodate this. Migrating towards EDA is a proven approach to help Asian banks and financial services companies not only deliver on ISO 20022, but position themselves to adopt and manage new and shifting industry standards for the foreseeable future.

Visa Invites Asia Pacific’s Top Startups To Shape The Future Of Payments

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 4 November 2022

Visa, a world leader in digital payments, announced an open call for startups across Asia Pacific to apply for the Visa Accelerator Program 2023.

Visa, a world leader in digital payments, is today announcing an open call for startups across Asia Pacific to apply for the Visa Accelerator Program 2023. Now in its third year, the Visa Accelerator Program selects a small group of startups to collaborate on some of the most pressing challenges in the payments industry. The 2023 program will focus on developing solutions in the following areas: Web 3.0, global money movement, embedded finance, merchant and small business enablers, and open banking solutions.

The Visa Accelerator Program was launched in 2019 and has since enabled the growth of some of Asia Pacific’s most prominent startups. The five startups from the 2022 cohort presented their proof-of-concepts at the Visa Accelerator Spotlight event, after working with Visa product and business development teams to bring their concepts to life and expand their businesses into new markets across the region.

Startups from the 2021 and 2022 cohorts secured nine commercial deals with Visa’s clients and partners in Asia Pacific. Additionally, Visa has entered into six partnership and commercial agreements with selected startups, emphasising the value that startups can bring to the larger payments industry.

Chris Clark, President, Asia Pacific, Visa said, “It is exciting to see great products co-developed by the successful startups from the previous cohorts, who have also become our valued partners. Expectations are high as we recruit for the third cohort, because we want to continue bringing the best startups across the region into Visa’s payments network. We’re looking forward to seeing applications from all around Asia Pacific for the 2023 Accelerator Program.”  

To tap into the best of the Asia Pacific startup community, Visa is partnering with Plug & Play, one of the world’s most successful global innovation platforms.  Plug & Play will be a key strategic partner and will curate access to emerging fintech-focused startups for the Visa Accelerator Program 2023. Plug & Play will bring their expertise as a highly successful investor and their experience working with other major corporate accelerator programs, to identify, attract and accelerate startups who want to solve industry challenges and scale new technologies.

Jupe Tan, Managing Partner of Plug & Play APAC said, “We are delighted to be working on the Visa Accelerator Program. Our goal is to provide a line-of-sight into the most innovative fintech startups that are shaping the financial services industry across Asia Pacific, as well as enable successful proof-of-concept engagements between the finalised startups and Visa.”

Clark added, “Our partnership with Plug & Play will connect Visa with like-minded fintechs that share our common goal to build new digital commerce experiences together. From exploring the potential of new developments like Web 3.0 and embedded finance, to making it easier for businesses to move money around the world, there are so many opportunities for startups to work with Visa and our network of bank and merchant partners.”

Strategic Partnership Formed At Singapore FinTech Festival 2022 To Help Digital Financial Firms Strengthen Cybersecurity

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 3 November 2022

FinTech Alliance Philippines will leverage CYFIRMA’S external threat landscape insights and digital risk monitoring platforms to help fast-growing FinTech startups protect their intellectual property and customer data from cyberattacks.

CYFIRMA, the industry’s first external threat landscape management platform company, and FinTech Alliance Philippines, the country’s leading and largest digital trade organization, today announced a partnership to help elevate cybersecurity maturity while promoting digital innovation to create growth opportunities and accelerate financial inclusion.

The Philippines’ financial landscape is rapidly evolving with the rise of digital banks, open finance, and other financial technology revolutionizing the design, delivery, and consumption of financial products and services. With increased digitalization, there is also added pressure on consumer protection capabilities and resources. According to Statista, a company that specializes in market and consumer data, the number of cyberattacks in the Philippines has exponentially grown during the first quarter of the year, reaching as much as around 1.76 million. The country, however, remains at a low ranking of 82nd when it comes to cybersecurity readiness, according to a global security index.

The pandemic has seen an unprecedented increase in online scams and the low cybersecurity maturity among businesses could reverse gains from promoting trust and confidence in the use of digital platforms. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on the poorest and most vulnerable combined with the lack of cyber-safe habits and know-how will exacerbate income and wealth inequality. This collaboration between FinTech Alliance Philippines and CYFIRMA is designed to build a digital finance ecosystem that is resilient to cyberthreats and digital risk, and it lays the groundwork for a sustainable, inclusive and thriving FinTech industry.

In this collaboration, CYFIRMA and FinTech Alliance Philippines will advocate for a security-by-design approach in software development where security practices are applied at the earliest stage of the development lifecycle, and this underscores the importance of identifying security vulnerabilities through real-time and continuous monitoring. 

CYFIRMA and FinTech Alliance will also work together to uplift the cybersecurity readiness amongst members of the Alliance. This includes ensuring members are equipped with digital risk protection tools to help them stay safe from cyber risks such as phishing, ransomware, and identity and data theft.

To improve digital and cyber literacy among the community as well as to address the lack of cybersecurity awareness, CYFIRMA will also extend its cyber education mobile application, DeFNCE, to all members of the alliance.

CYFIRMA and Fintech Alliance will also explore other collaborations such as joint training programs with academic institutions and regulatory engagement with government agencies.

“We are excited to extend our market-leading cybersecurity capabilities, which we have used in service of enterprise customers, to the vibrant FinTech community in the Philippines. We know the unbanked and underbanked have security concerns around digital finance services, particularly around identity theft, scams and fraud. We are honored to be given the opportunity to use our knowledge of digital risk monitoring and protection to help up-and-coming FinTechs build ground-breaking products that are cyber-secured and ready to be deployed at scale to serve millions of Filipinos,” said Anna Koh, Chief Marketing Officer, CYFIRMA.

“Consumer education is also key in cyber defense against identity theft and security breaches. Ensuring our customers’ security, safety, and confidence in digital financial services must be primordial. Stakeholders must strengthen constructive dialogue in cyber and vulnerability intelligence, attack discovery, and increase digital risk protection, among others. Our partnership with CYFIRMA is pivotal in support of this strategic initiative,” said Lito Villanueva, Founding Chairman of FinTech Alliance Philippines.

SME: Overcoming The Hurdles of Cross-border Payments

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Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 2 November 2022

Arnold Chan, General Manager, Hong Kong & SEA, Airwallex

The ability of banks and other financial institutions to quickly move money across borders remains challenging as technology continues to quickly change how people and businesses handle their financial transactions globally. Many systems are unable to keep up with contemporary technology because they have stayed antiquated. Globalization has created a fantastic and profitable opportunity for this industry’s progress, and the need for a more efficient, cost-effective system is rising.

To find out more about the current landscape of cross-border payments, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Arnold Chan, General Manager, Hong Kong & SEA, Airwallex.

The Major Hurdles For Cross-border Payments

The hurdles of cross-border payments differ according to company size. One of the key hurdles, according to Arnold Chan, is how companies handle their finances in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. With COVID-19 and macro-environment changes, a lot of businesses in SEA are no longer locally sourcing their suppliers. Their customers are also extending beyond their own country and city. The pandemic also urged many businesses to turn digital and this eventually led to the increasing complexity of B2B payments. 

In the pre-pandemic days, a lot of SMEs were still running their businesses traditionally and it might not necessarily be the most time-efficient manner. Many small businesses reported using cheques before COVID-19 to transfer money internationally to their suppliers but due to employees having to work remotely during the pandemic, business owners found difficulty in relying on such traditional modes of payment. In essence, the pandemic brought to light the necessity for business owners to seek out other methods of payment transfer. 

“The complexity of paying to suppliers, receiving money from customers and procuring advertising avenues have become more difficult,” says Arnold Chan, General Manager, Hong Kong & SEA, Airwallex. 

Traditional finances may not have the kind of cost-efficiency for them to handle. Hence why we are seeing more and more players in the region targeting digital first businesses by using a Fintech solution to address all these payment ports. 

Tackling The Lack Of Transparency In Cross-border Payments

Transparency comes in many forms such as the fee rates, the transfer fee and the currency exchange rate. For executives who are not an expert in FX, they would just take the exchange rate quoted to them as is. However, a lot of the traditional providers have a lot of mark up on the rate. 

“Airwallex, as an advanced Fintech player, we provide absolute transparency in terms of how much mark up we provide on top of interbank rates. Secondly, we are upfront about how much we charge for the transfer fees,” says Arnold Chan, General Manager, Hong Kong & SEA, Airwallex. 

Aiwallex has partners all over the world which means they are able to offer local p[ayment methods to a lot of countries in the world so consumers (businesses) are able to save on the transfer fees and the currency exchange rate. The other area of transparency is the speed of transfer. If businesses go through a traditional provider, it would involve a lot of players and corresponding banks which could result in a lack of ability to locate where the money is at during the transaction. This could cause a number of issues as businesses are obligated to pay their suppliers on time.

The Future Of Cross-border Payments

Real-time payments are now made and delivered 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is simply one of the truths of real-time transactions in the current market landscape. Financial organizations therefore must offer 24/7 quick payments.

In contrast to the conventional batch-based end-of-day processing, this introduces the necessity for standby processing in the event that host applications are down due to upkeep or network disruptions. Additionally, banks’ real-time clearing, settlement, and payment systems necessitate 24-hour liquidity management.

With current cross-border payment services already being offered round the clock, there is definitely a demand for it. Therefore, in the next couple of years, we can expect to see more and more businesses digitalizing meaning that there will be a higher demand for FinTech solutions. As such, cross-border payments will definitely be more diverse and hopefully more advanced such that intermediaries might not even need to be as heavily involved in the process as they are today. 

“I do think that there will be a higher need for businesses to make payments to different countries. This can be seen in the macro trends whereby businesses of all sizes are selling to places outside of their own country,” says Arnold Chan, General Manager, Hong Kong & SEA, Airwallex.

Taking The First Step In Adopting Cross-Border Payments

Researching available digital service providers would be the first step. The providers must have secure networks and effectively inform their customers about them. Almost half of users, whether they are individuals or enterprises, worry about fraud when sending money abroad.

Businesses must consider suppliers’ pricing when evaluating them. Nearly half of consumers believe they pay excessive costs for their transactions and receive inadequate exchange rates. Hand in hand with the last point, many businesses wish for greater transparency. That means receipts for each transaction, and the ability to track them. 

Having a large network is crucial as well. When their provider does not operate in the country they want to send money to, many businesses may find it frustrating. Additionally, businesses will need a wider range of payout alternatives so that their foreign business partners can benefit from them and are more likely to want to collaborate with them as a result. These are the key characteristics that a business should seek in service providers if it wants to enjoy a positive cross-border transactional experience.

Airwallex Enables Buy Now Pay Later Payment Option Through Partnership With Atome

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 2 November 2022

BNPL is becoming a more common payment choice, and is expected to grow by 52.6% to reach US$733.9 million by the end of this year in Singapore alone.

Leading global fintech platform Airwallex today announced a Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) functionality in partnership with Atome, Asia’s leading BNPL brand. Announced at this year’s Singapore Fintech Festival, the collaboration will enable Airwallex merchants[1] to offer BNPL as a payment option to shoppers across Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

The partnership is Airwallex’s first tie-up with a BNPL provider, giving merchants an opportunity to increase their revenues while allowing them to diversify their payment options through flexible deferred payment options. In addition to BNPL, Airwallex also offers its merchants multi-currency card-based payment solutions with Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay, as well as over 20+ local payment methods across Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Atome as we continue to find ways to better support businesses across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong,” said Arnold Chan, General Manager, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Airwallex. “We want to give businesses access to all the benefits of BNPL, which will not only help them increase revenues, but also create a more seamless customer experience for the longer term that will enable them to unlock new market opportunities.”

“BNPL is becoming an increasingly popular payment choice among shoppers today, particularly among the fast-growing Gen Z and millennial customer segment. With this partnership, millions of customers across the region can now shop and pay through flexible deferred payments at Airwallex merchants. This will help Airwallex merchants grow conversion rates and basket sizes, while increasing customer payment choice and flexibility,” said Jeremy Wong, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Atome.

Airwallex will expand its collaboration with Atome and soon enable its merchants1 to offer BNPL as a payment option to shoppers in Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand. This partnership follows Airwallex’s official launch in Singapore earlier in January and subsequent roll out of key offerings in its global payments suite. The company also raised US$100 million in its recent Series E2 fundraising round, and will continue to scale its reach and product offering globally.

Hong Kong And Singapore Lead Green Fintech Development Among The Five Economies In APEC

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 28 October 2022

Study finds government support and talent development are crucial in driving the growth of green fintech.

GoImpact, an ESG and Sustainability education firm, together with The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Business School (“CUHK Business School”) released the findings from their working paper, Exploring the Green Fintech Ecosystem in Asia: Insights from Five Economies in APEC. This study finds that government support plays a vital and essential role in facilitating green fintech development, while talent shortage is a common concern in the five economies in the region.

Derived from three elements — environment, finance, and technology — the industry report defines green fintech as financial activities that utilize green technologies that bring better environmental outcomes.

Industry experts from five APEC economies, namely Hong Kong SAR, China (“Hong Kong”), Indonesia, the Republic of Korea (“Korea”), Singapore and Thailand, have urged policymakers to establish a conducive environment for green fintech to flourish. According to them, governments can help through offering incentive schemes for startups to develop in this area and spearhead the change by setting sustainable regulatory frameworks and mandating disclosures, reporting, and thresholds.

The study also suggests that financial institutions should embrace the sustainable agenda to achieve the triple bottom line: profit, people, and the planet. Given the current competitive banking environment and the global shortage of green talent, financial institutions should utilise their unique positions in the business ecosystem to develop more in-house sustainability talent to promote the sustainability agenda, the report further explains.

The study examined policies, markets, and opportunities regarding fintech’s role in driving green finance in the five selected APEC economies through desk research, interviews, as well as focus group discussions involving green fintech startups, government and quasi-government organisations, green fintech-related associations, and financial institutions.

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