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The petrol era in banking is coming to an end and fintech is driving it forward

Barclays

 

We hate labels. What makes a bank, a bank, and a fintech a fintech anyway?

Ok, maybe a banking license and significant capital reserves, or a WeWork pod and wearing sneakers in the office, but bear with us…

The portmanteau of fintech has been around for a good while now – as long as Chatsworth has been working this beat. And the lines have been blurring for some time.

Same say the fintech part is just the stuff under the bonnet, or more derisory, the plumbing.

Well guess what. A ride doesn’t get far without its engine. Thus, it is for the global financial system.

And the era of petrol is coming to an end. The fintech’s are levelling up financial services with faster, smarter technology. This is the e-revolution, analogous to the exponential growth in electric cars overtaking their polluting old rivals.

So it’s heartening to see Barclays agreeing with us, that the era of competition between banks and fintechs over as the two collaborate for mutual benefit.

Banks are increasingly becoming technology firms and the fintech’s are delving deeper and closer into traditional financial service provision.

A new report from Barclays concludes that connectivity between the two worlds is the key to a successful future financial services ecosystem.

From our experience with the fintech community, we wholeheartedly agree.

The bank surveyed over 2000 financial services executives in Europe, Asia and the US about the future state of the fintech sector.

More than two thirds reported identify collaborating and partnering with fintechs for mutual benefit as the preferred approach for traditional banks in the future.

Fintechs will partner with the banks and smaller firms will cooperate to integrate their micro-specialisms with more commercially robust players,

What’s driving this? It’s not just pressure on balance sheets to do stuff smarter, faster and better.

It’s the customers and clients and their personal retail experience – tech making their lives easier and better has set expectations.

They have become accustomed to a seamless, digitally enabled life and they want that from their banks, with their work hats on.

JP Morgan is one of those institutions which is absolutely smashing it in g smart fintech development and investment. They have hand-picked and nurtured some genuinely brilliant firms and technology offering real solutions to real problems in financial services and beyond.

Back to the Barclays report and some interesting findings on where this is all going to come from in the future.

Interestingly in the payments space, the Barclays report cites China as likely to see the biggest rise in payment innovation over the next five years.

Nearly half of Asian firms and 40% of European firms rank China as the most likely source of future innovation. India comes in the top three as a future source of payment innovation across all three regions.

The US picks itself as the hotspot for future innovation. Our transatlantic cousins have been smashing it for some time but London will have something to say about that.

Let’s look at the facts. UK fintech attracted £37.4 billion of investment in 2019 according to KPMG with the number of deals in the UK reached a six-year high, defying the amount invested globally where overall fintech fundraising fell just short of 2018’s record at USD 135.7bn.

Across Europe, the UK accounted for half of the top 10 deals and netted more than 80 per cent of the continent’s total.

London has the critical mass, the expertise and the professional services hub to hold that crown.

Chatsworth knows a thing or two about fintech. We were the first PR agency to focus on this sector. We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launch, growth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

We’re fortunate to work with larger institutions and fleet of foot fintech start-ups. In the past there has been friction, with the incumbents clearly under existential threat and feeling it.

Now they are learning to play well together. We’re in the era of collaboration between the banks and fintech’s. This is good news for all.

So can I have my Porsche Taycan now? Ah well, if you don’t ask…

LiquidityEdge: from launch onto a $150 million acquisition

Chatsworth is honoured that some of the most interesting and energetic start-ups in the city put their faith in our team when they need to build their brand reputation.

The LiquidityEdge team built an amazing alternative trading model for U.S. Treasuries with an ecosystem that connects a trusted community of primary and regional dealers.

It gives users to choose between one-to-one or many-to-many models to create a bespoke order book from anonymous and/or disclosed streaming executable prices.

Treasuries are a huge financial market and the cornerstone of the global bond universe, with nearly $600 billion of US government debt changing hands each day.

Chatsworth supported the LiquidityEdge team from first inception, advising them on messaging, branding and every aspect of their communications.

We sustained this through launch, growth, and adoption, amplifying the benefits of this alternative trading model and key-value points and milestones in their product development.

We worked closely with the team under CEO, Nichola Hunter, to grow usage and engagement through an integrated global media and marketing campaign, with a pin-point focus on potential users and professional influencers, focusing on the platform’s value and points of differentiation.

The business has been acquired for $150m by MarketAxess, a great business that is really motoring. Great team, great result. Job done.

Chatsworth was the first communications agency to focus on fintech. We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launch, growth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

Looking for intelligent, informed and connected fintech PR which delivers results and value?

Get in touch and let us help build your reputation and tell your story

Investors splash the cash on British fintech startups

Chatsworth was the first PR agency to focus on fintech. We have been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launch, growth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

And our sector is booming. Heartening news this month with reports that global investors poured money into the UK’s fintech sector last year, almost doubling the amount invested here between 2018 and 2019 — despite the rest of the world suffering a slight downturn in funding.

British fintech companies attracted USD 48.5bn (£37.4bn) of investment in 2019, up 91 per cent from USD 25.4bn a year earlier. Data released by KPMG also revealed the number of deals in the UK reached a six-year high, defying the amount invested globally where overall fintech fundraising fell just short of 2018’s record at USD 135.7bn.

Across Europe, the UK accounted for half of the top 10 deals and netted more than 80 per cent of the continent’s record-setting total of USD 58bn.

Read more here.

Previse: Launching a supplier payment solution

Previse is transforming global commerce by using data to enable every supplier to be paid the day they issue an invoice.

Chatsworth defined Previse’s marketing messaging and brand and has continued to lead its PR and marketing efforts, inserting the company into the public conversation around the negative impact slow supplier payments can have on SMEs. We have also helped to connect the business with important industry stakeholders, such as the Federation of Small Businesses.

Since launching Previse into the public consciousness in mid-2017, Chatsworth has raised the company’s profile significantly with articles in top international press outlets such as the Financial TimesBBC News and Forbes, as well as key industry titles.

Chatsworth was the first communications agency to focus on fintech. We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launch, growth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

Looking for intelligent, informed and connected fintech PR which delivers results and value?

Get in touch and let us help build your reputation and tell your story

Innovate Finance representing UK fintech

Chatsworth was the first communications agency to focus on fintech. We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launch, growth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

And our sector is booming. Global into the UK fintech sector doubled last year to USD 48.5bn (£37.4bn) with the number of deals in the reaching a six-year high.

The team at Innovate Finance are doing a great job supporting the industry, leading one of the UK’s breakout success industries – fintech –  providing advice, advocacy and support to this growing sector of the economy.

As communications partner, Chatsworth worked with the Innovate Finance team, delivering rich media content and interviews to support a host of their fintech partners.

Looking for intelligent, informed and connected fintech PR which delivers results and value?

Get in touch and let us help build your reputation and tell your story.

Fintech PR’s original top dog – Chatsworth Communications

Fintech PR

Maybe its something to do with our booming sector, but everyone and their dog is a so-called expert in fintech these days. But is there any bite behind all that bark?

Global into the UK fintech sector doubled last year to USD 48.5bn (£37.4bn) with the number of deals in reaching a six-year high.

Chatsworth was the first communications agency to focus on fintech.

We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launch, growth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

From global brands like R3, SWIFT, CLS, ICAP and the London Stock Exchange to energetic, game-changing fintech start-ups like Previse, Mosaic and Limeglass, we’ve delivered with our clients.

Looking for intelligent, informed and connected fintech PR which delivers results and value?

Get in touch and let us help build your reputation and tell your story.

Trade finance digitisation to make the world go round

Chatsworth is working with the Contour team to define the next chapter for trade finance through digitisation.

Paper and process driven, the traditional methods of trade finance create significant barriers for global trade growth, adding complexity, cost, and delays to both banks and corporates.

A digitised world of global trade would drive trillions in new global trade flows and extend the benefits to smaller corporates as well as large.

Contour is powered by R3’s leading Corda technology and uses the power of decentralisation to provide common tools and resources to help banks and corporates build a global network for trade, without having access to any transactional data or being a single point of failure.

The first step is to digitise what is one of the oldest and most important trade finance tools – the letter of credit.

Carl, Aaron and the Contour team are building great links across the industry, delivering a next generation solution for an important area of global commerce.

We’re proud to be working with them to tell the Contour story.

Chatsworth was the first communications agency to focus on fintech. We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launch, growth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

Looking for intelligent, informed and connected fintech PR which delivers results and value?

Get in touch and let us help build your reputation and tell your story.

Sucden Financial to go live on Cobalt’s FX infrastructure

The post-trade infrastructure provider Cobalt, has today announced that Sucden Financial, is the latest institution to join Cobalt’s post-trade technology network for its substantial FX business.

Cobalt’s post-trade infrastructure creates a single trusted set of standardised trade data from which Sucden Financial can utilise Cobalt’s range of middle and back office trade solutions, including its Core Credit module. Sucden Financial is accessing Cobalt’s broad range of services via IHS Markit’s connectivity service.

Post-trade FX processes are currently siloed and unfit for modern markets. This is highlighted within credit management, where processes can be opaque and create high risk of exposure to credit owners alongside problematic pricing.

Cobalt’s Core Credit solution offers a centralised credit management tool for all relationship types, allowing credit owners to control and manage lines using real-time monitoring tools.

Gavin Parker, COO from Sucden Financial, said: “We continually enhance our services, utilising the latest technology to increase efficiencies for clients. Cobalt provides an exciting cutting-edge solution, enabling us to further expand our institutional FX offering.”

Darren Coote, CEO of Cobalt, commented: “Credit management within FX has long been a problematic area for all market participants. With further adoption of Cobalt’s technology across a variety of market participants, we are working towards centralised infrastructure for the future of FX.”

About Sucden Financial 

A leading international derivatives and FX broker, Sucden Financial provides access to a broad range of markets, including exchange and OTC traded products, including foreign exchange and bullion.

The company was formed in 1973 as the London brokerage arm of Sucden, an independent leader in soft commodities trading. Sucden Financial has since evolved into one of the largest brokers for traders, fabricators, producers, consumers, investment houses, hedge funds, commodity firms and retail brokers.

Sucden Financial has been providing a wide variety of foreign exchange services to corporate and institutional clients for over 30 years. Its financial strength, expertise, established infrastructure and tier one direct banking relationships mean it is well positioned to provide superior FX liquidity and a full spectrum of services.

Contour welcomes Citi into trade finance network

Today Contour has announced that Citi will join its trade finance network, increasing the number of banks that have invested in Contour as part of an industry-wide global collaboration effort. This investment through Citi Ventures will help Contour continue to grow as it develops the open network to create seamless trade and digitize the outdated process.

This announcement comes as Contour moved into full commercialisation of its offering last month after 2 years of successful pilots in 14 countries. Established in Singapore, Contour is now operating as a fully independent entity, welcoming banks and corporates into its beta network.

Contour’s network focuses on improving the Letters of Credit (LoCs) process. Traditionally paper based, Contour digitises LoCs to allow banks and corporates improved efficiency and greater transparency by building connectivity and trust between all parties in the transaction. This is achieved by using R3’s Corda blockchain and a growing partner ecosystem.

Carl Wegner, CEO, Contour said: “Seeing greater collaboration from leading financial institutions shows how important revolutionising the trade finance network is. With international trade being of such significant importance for the global economy, with trillions of dollars’ worth of goods in circulation, proper financing is vital for its continued growth. Our network provides trusted information in real-time, digitising the process for all users. To have a major global trade player such as Citi join us is a huge validation of the work we are doing and allows us to continue creating greater efficiency for the industry.”

Luis Valdich, Managing Director of Citi Ventures said: “The Contour team has a trusted background and is partnering with a strong consortium to help digitize Letters of Credit. Citi Ventures is thrilled to support Contour as it pursues its exciting vision.”

Click here to learn more about our other trade finance based clients.

R3 doubles down on London as post-Brexit technology hub

R3 has reaffirmed its commitment to London, doubling the size of its London Wall hub to accommodate its rapidly growing engineering team. The extra space will also support an aggressive hiring plan to increase the company’s global headcount from its current level of 215 to nearly 300 by the end of the year. The firm’s roster of new hires will consist largely of software engineers, along with commercial and client-facing roles around the world.

This initiative is a cornerstone of R3’s rapid growth plans that include an additional engineering centre in a new city by the early of 2020. R3 is currently evaluating the best location for the second site and will make that selection in the coming months.

The expansion represents a strong commitment from R3 to London. London has gained a reputation as a global technology hub and last year, despite the ongoing uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations, attracted more Foreign Direct Investment than any other city. It was independently ranked as the top global fintech hub by EY and Deloitte and hosts over half of FinTech50’s leading fintech firms.

While enterprise blockchain is still in its early years, it is now being deployed by some of the world’s largest companies across sectors as diverse as healthcare, insurance, capital markets and global trade. R3’s Corda blockchain serves as the foundation for many of these initiatives, becoming one of the leading blockchain platforms for enterprise use. The growth of the engineering team will ensure that the hundreds of businesses who build their applications on Corda can continue to deploy blockchain solutions simply and successfully.

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, said: “There is enormous opportunity for London post-Brexit. While there clearly remain some uncertainties, we believe the city is well placed and established to thrive in the coming years. That’s why we are confident in making this substantial long-term commitment now.

“R3 is committed to ensuring the technology underpinning Corda is cutting-edge. To continue to do this, we need the very best people. It makes complete sense to look to London as we further develop the ways that blockchain can be developed and deployed.  As our software gains more use cases and across more sectors, we will be looking to invest further in top talent – London and elsewhere.”

FXCM Group Adds Ripple and Bitcoin Cash To Expand Crypto CFD Offering

FXCM announced today  that it has expanded its cryptocurrency offering with the addition of Bitcoin Cash and Ripple.

Since launching crypto CFDs in 2018, FXCM has seen rising demand from retail clients seeking to expand and add new cryptocurrencies to their portfolios.

Bitcoin Cash is borne from Bitcoin but has the capacity to process more transactions due to a larger block size. Ripple tokens, known as XRP, have also become increasingly popular with retail investors.

By trading these cryptocurrencies as CFDs, FXCM traders have the incentive potential opportunity to go both long and short. Micronized CFD contracts allow clients to place trades in fractions, which lowers the minimum margin required to enter a position. In addition, profits are credited to a trader’s account instantly, rather than held in a crypto wallet or cold storage.

Brendan Callan, CEO of FXCM Group, comments: “Having successfully launched three different cryptocurrencies in the past 12 months, our clients are asking us to improve the range of crypto CFDs they can access. The addition of Bitcoin Cash and Ripple marks the latest stage of growth for FXCM’s burgeoning cryptocurrency offering and is in direct response to increased demand from our clients.”

 

Sibos London – plan ahead with military precision to get the best results

It’s that time of year when the great and the *good of global finance converge to hobnob and sell to each other in an exclusive global venue.

No, not Davos. That’s all after-parties, skiing and Leo DiCaprio…we’re talking about Sibos, SWIFT’s annual payments summit.

This year it’s in London. In September. Take away the dead summer months and that’s not far off.

With its frequently brilliant Innotribe sessions and a solid line-up of speakers and panellists, the event has become an unmissable fixture in the financial year for both established and challenger financial firms

Over 7,500 delegates attended Sibos in Sydney last year. Expect that to increase substantially, as London is such a sweet spot as a financial technology hub.

Thousands of financial professionals are going to visit this year.

Chatsworth’s advice? Start planning and booking now. Side venues, hotel rooms, camels, whatever you need. It’s going to be a busy one.

We’ve been covering Sibos for many years, helping our clients make an impact with their investment. We cannot emphasise enough the need to plan from now to maximise your investment.

Don’t commit the funds and then scrabble around two months beforehand. Think about your content. Plan your marketing and PR like a military campaign.

Sibos creates an ocean of announcements, deals and commentary. The media attendance at Sibos is pretty good, but these poor folks get slammed with press releases and announcements.

Make sure you craft your news for optimal market relevance. Got data/analytics? Share it. Contextualise your story. Make your announcements and data market relevant.

So how do you create cut-through when hundreds of other firms are looking to do precisely the same?

Plan your meeting schedule with military precision. And speak to the Sibos team – they are helpful, experienced and will advise you.

Smart social media. Obsess over the conference schedule – map your content to the speaker sessions and your organisation’s view.

Don’t just bang out pointless posts saying something is ‘interesting’ or ‘insightful’ and never reduce yourself to only liking other content. Engage in the debate. If you have a position, share it and build your audience.

And importantly, don’t forget about the people who are not there. More people read about Davos than attend it. The same goes for Sibos; communicate outside of the goldfish bowl.

Overall, get on the case now – don’t wait until August. If your organisation is attending, this will likely be one of your largest marketing and communications investments this year.

Fail to plan, plan to fail. As a US four-star general once said: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

*it’s all relative

Trad-X wins OTC trading platform at Risk Awards 2019

Trad-X, the market-leading platform for global interest rate derivatives, has been named OTC trading platform of the year at the Risk Awards 2019, which took place in London last night (November 27).

The Risk Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious awards for firms and individuals involved in the global derivatives markets and in risk management. Trad-X was recognised for demonstrating innovation in its technology, products and growth initiatives.

The platform has seen notional trading volumes for EUR and USD products increase by more than 40% year-on-year, and is in the final stages of launching a dealer-to-client central limit order book (CLOB) for EUR-denominated interest rate swaps.

A core component of the Trad-X offering is its reference screens. This ensures the calculation methodology and pricing on the platform is transparent, irrefutable and offers a full audit trail. It was also one of the first to offer the choice of direct execution on the platform via click-and- trade screens, API access or hybrid execution. This enables Tradition’s voice brokers to combine their understanding of market depth and client positioning and submit bids and offers that comply with best execution requirements.

Dan Marcus, CEO of Trad-X, said: “Receiving this prestigious award concludes a milestone year for Trad-X. The launch of MiFID II meant the European derivatives market faced its biggest upheaval since the 2008 financial crisis. We remained strategically clear-sighted on its impact, engaged extensively with regulators to ensure minimal disruption to our clients and accelerated our strategy of hybrid execution. This approach is now yielding results and has led to a significant uptick in trading activity.

“We will continue expand and innovate our business in line with market evolution and client requirements. The launch of our dealer-to-client offering is the first in a line of new products and enhancements we expect to launch over the coming months.”

How to succeed in fintech and influence people

Once upon a time, I was sitting in Barclays head office on Lombard Street, writing a crystal ball briefing on the growth and threat posed by financial technology for the CEO.

The briefing was printed out and faxed to him because I didn’t have an email account from which to send it. They hadn’t sorted them out for the lower tiers yet. Oh, the sweet irony.

Fast forward a *few* years and fintech is now white hot and getting hotter. The sector has sky-rocketed this year, with worldwide global investment in the sector for the first half of 2018 exceeding the whole sum value of 2017.

It has been the breakout success story for London.

Where the Silicon Roundabout has failed to deliver on its hype and deliver us with a home-grown tech giant, the city has busily output dozens of outstanding, world-class, fintech firms.

Not wishing to crow, but London has received more investment in its fintech sector than any other country in the world, with over $16.1 billion of inbound investment during the first half of the year. That puts it firmly ahead of China ($15.1 billion) and the US ($14.2 billion). That is a success story, right there.

But the UK’s position as the leading fintech hub is by no means guaranteed. The history of financial markets teach us that liquidity is hard to shift – but when it moves, it moves fast.

So to Sydney

Australia’s magnificent capital – with a AU$60 billion ($43.3 billion) financial services industry. Think tank, Australian Fintech, estimates the sector has the potential to take up to 30% of revenue from traditional banking in Australia over the next few years, a prize worth a cool AU$25 billion (18 billion).

And so the banks, acutely aware that their lunch is under threat, are converging in Sydney for Sibos, the annual conference, networking event and shopfront for Swift’s services.

With its frequently brilliant Innotribe sessions and a solid line-up of speakers and panelists, the event has become a curious arena. It is hosted by an older, more established technology and payments infrastructure, but offers a safe space for challenger start-ups to engage, network and meet potential bank customers.

With start-ups to the left and shareholders to the right, banks may feel like they are in the squeezed middle. But in truth, finance and technology have become inseparable over the past decade or two. Crucially, the banks still hold the cards, the liquidity and the capital.

Fintechs need the banks. They have the markets, connectivity and ultimately the influence over any change to existing systems. And the banks, for their part, have been excellent investors and partners. They continue to engage and partner with fintechs – investing, encouraging, collaborating and beta testing. It was always going to be this way.

The bulldozer approach of some self-titled “disruptive” start-ups, where you build an alternative system and then trying to slam it into an existing market, simply does not work.

First on fintech

Chatsworth knows a fair bit about fintech. We were the first marketing and communications agency to focus on this sector, working on electronic broking, online banking and market data with systems like EBS, CLS, ICAP and Barclays.

Over time, the story and clients moved onto prime brokerage and API trading, through to today’s blockchain-inspired technology, smart analytics and machine learning. The markets and technology have evolved, but the methods and indicators of success remain the same.

We have launched and supported both larger infrastructure providers as well as some brilliant start-ups such as Previse, which tackles late payments for businesses, and Mosaic Smart Data, which applies smart data and analytics to wholesale financial markets.

Then there is R3, the breakout story in the enterprise blockchain space and the fulcrum for those looking to apply this technology to professional markets. Their model of engaging and working with banks, financial institutions and regulators right from the start has paid dividends, with over 200 organisations contributing to the development of the Corda platform.

This is ground-breaking innovation – delivered by super smart people who know markets and understand technology. They are working with banks and their customers to tackle real-world problems.

Traits of a successful fintech

So, what is the shared DNA of successful fintechs? Firstly, the combination of financial markets experience and technical and engineering excellence within their teams.

Second, an absolute focus on engagement with the existing market infrastructures to work and define the use cases before development.

And last, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy, drive, curiosity, and intelligence.

Of course, everyone says they are specialists in fintech, and blockchain in particular, nowadays – witness the sheer volume of self-appointed advisors and PR “specialists” on LinkedIn.

In truth, this gold rush of the inexperienced is partly to blame for an over-cooked news and hype cycle which inevitably sets unrealistic expectations for speed of adoption.

So choose your advisors wisely and trust your reputation to the best hands. They will articulate and tell your story with confidence, creativity, and commitment.

Wishing everyone a fantastic and productive Sibos 2018.

Chatsworth’s fast five for fintechs
  1. Focus your competitive fire on inefficient models – not individual organisations. Build relationships with firms and incumbents dealing with the same market challenge. Remember, a rising tide carries all boats.
  2. Know your AML from your KYC – digitisation to regulators signals potential facilitation of money laundering and terrorist financing. Engage with them.
  3. Don’t tech for tech’s sake – Stick to use cases with transformative potential.
  4. Don’t overuse “innovative” or “solutions” to describe your brand. This language is so clichéd and bland that it suggests the opposite.
  5. Collaborate and keep off the Kool Aid – engage with those who affect your ability to succeed and operate. But listen as well as talk, and don’t be afraid to change tack.

The FCA sandbox – a question of fair play at the heart of UK Fintech

Play is about being inquisitive. It is about trial and error. It is how we learn and improve. A world without play is a world without growth.

That is the insight at the heart of the FCA’s sandbox, and it is a fundamental reason the UK is at the heart of global fintech.

Other regulators have not taken such an enlightened approach. Last week French and German regulators threw their toys out of the pram claiming that FCA’s sandbox is anticompetitive.

They claimed that the FCA’s approach – which allows certain companies to test their technologies with real customers before getting full regulatory approval and within an environment which is more forgiving from a regulation perspective – is unfair to large established players.

This is not the first time foreign regulators have criticised the sandbox approach. In August, NYFDS’s Maria T. Vullo, rejected the idea of the NYFDS setting one up saying that only ‘toddlers play in sandboxes. Adults play by the rules.’

It is true that companies which are admitted to the sandbox get an advantage. They are not subject to the same strictures as a large bank would be when developing a new service. That does allow them to be more agile and test their services in real-world environments – an invaluable opportunity for developers of emerging technology.

That said, there is a strong argument to make that, far from being anti-competitive, the sandbox is actually helping to level the field between fintechs and the banks.

Regulatory approval is a long, protracted and extremely costly process. There are no guarantees. There is always the risk that the regulator won’t give the final go ahead, leaving a firm with significant legal costs, wasted time and nothing much to show for it.

Banks are in constant communication with the regulators. They can also hire armies of specialists to give themselves the best chance of getting their services approved. Many fintechs have neither of these advantages. The sandbox gives them a chance to work with the regulator in a more collaborative environment to find solutions to any regulatory challenges within the technology design and allow the fintech to change course if their current design causes the regulator too much concern.

In doing this, the sandbox helps reduce the costs of regulation for the companies which can least afford it, boosting – not stifling – competition.

Not only is the sandbox good for fintechs, but it is also good for the regulator, consumers and even the large banks themselves.

For the regulators, it is a chance to develop a deeper understanding of the latest technologies, such as blockchain and machine learning, by collaborating with their creators. This can help lead to more sophisticated regulation and help the FCA ensure it is keeping pace with technological change.

One of the core stipulations of the sandbox is the protection of consumers. This is something the FCA has emphasised time and again when talking about the sandbox. By taking this approach, it is allowing consumers to access new services years before they would otherwise be available while ensuring they still enjoy a high level of protection from the FCA.

Finally, a little healthy competition is good for banks. Change is not easy and, without dynamic, agile and hungry competition snapping at their heals, there is little real incentive for banks or infrastructure providers to make the much-needed upgrades to their systems and services.

There are many fintech ’specialists’ out there talking about how banks are going to be ‘disrupted’ out of existence by fintech ‘challengers’. The reality of the market is that most successful fintechs are forming partnerships with banks to the benefit of both parties.

Fintechs need the banks, which hold sticky client relationships and huge institutional expertise, while the banks benefit hugely from the innovation and efficiencies which fintechs can bring.

Sandboxes are an excellent way to nurture the next generation of partners, vendors and acquisition targets for banks – not their nemesis.

The UK remains the best place to start and grow a fintech. The FCA’s sandbox is a meaningful part of the reason why, long may it continue.

Previse and Cobalt named amongst Top 101 Fintech Disruptors

BusinessCloud has revealed its list of the top 101 fintech disrupters in the UK, and it made for pleasant reading at Chatsworth Towers.

The award recognises companies that are disrupting the industry through technology – whether they are heavyweight incumbents to start-ups. BusinessCloud also canvassed the opinion of industry experts before they settled on the final line-up, and we’re delighted that two of our clients made the list.

One of those is Previse, a startup that applies machine learning technology to solve a global business problem – slow B2B payments. The London-based fintech enables buyers to have all their suppliers paid instantly, as soon as the buyer receives an invoice. It uses machine learning to root out the invoices which may not be paid, allowing a funder to pay the rest immediately.

Previse has made huge strides since its launch in 2016, recently raising £7 million in Series A funding. The startup has also received backing from leading business figures and top venture capital firms and has signed up seven large organisations. With strong plans for growth, the company is undoubtedly one of the hottest fintechs worth keeping an eye on over the next few years.

Another of Chatsworth’s clients named in the list is Cobalt, a foreign exchange (FX) post-trade processing network based on shared infrastructure and high-performance technology. Cobalt’s unique solution leverages highly optimised technology alongside an in-house immutability service based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) to deliver a shared back and middle office infrastructure that is scalable, secure and fast.

By creating a shared view of trade data, Cobalt frees up back and middle office resources from multiple layers of reconciliation; creating a ‘golden’ portfolio of FX transactions from which to provide multiple services.

In May, Cobalt secured a strategic investment from Singapore Exchange (SGX), which operates Asia’s largest, most diverse and fastest growing FX exchange.

It’s great to see startups such as Previse and Cobalt be recognized for shaking up the status quo in their respective industries.

As the original fintech PR company, we can say with confidence that there isn’t a more disruptive sector than fintech. It has finally come of age and made it into the US-run Merriam Webster online dictionary – perhaps fitting, considering the shared digital origins!

READ THE LIST IN FULL

Is Fintech “adorbs”, or a “bingeable time suck”?

As the first fintech PR agency, Chatsworth is definitely of the view that it is the former.

Why do we ask? Because fintech has come of age and made it into the dictionary as one of 840 new words, in addition to also added this year are “adorbs” and “bingeable time suck”.

It joins the dictionary alongside ‘haptics’, meaning the science of touch. This is tech behind the vibration of a smartphone responding to your finger and a whole host of linguistic upstarts/startups. 

The definition of fintech is officially the “products and companies that employ newly developed digital and online technologies in the banking and financial services industries”. Unfortunately for us Brits, it’s not the Oxford English Dictionary but the US-run Merriam Webster online dictionary – perhaps fitting, considering the shared digital origins.

But more surprising the word, fintech, is far from new. The dictionary pinpoints its first known use to way back in 1971.  That was a good year – certainly for music – with What’s Going On, Sticky Fingers, L.A Woman, Hunky Dory and Led Zep 4 all released.

But despite its entry into the dictionary, fintech is in the bottom 10% of most used words. Oh well, nothing wrong with a little “exclusivity.”

R3 Wins Best DLT Tech Provider at Central Banking Global Awards

Yesterday, the inaugural Central Banking Fintech & Regtech Awards were held at the stunning Marriot Tang Plaza Hotel. We were very proud to see R3’s Anthony Lewis in attendance to pick up the award for the Best Distributed Ledger Technology Provider.

The new awards were held to recognise innovation in financial and regulatory technologies that were changing the way central banks and supervisors work.

R3 was picked from a strong contingent of blockchain/DLT based companies that are revolutionising the financial sector due to their transformative success in the past year.

The startup is currently engaged with Bank of Canada inside ‘Project Jasper’, an initiative which sets out to develop an interbank domestic payments settlement system, already the proof of concept touted ‘significant benefits.’

In March, HQLAx and R3 completed the first live securities lending transaction on the Corda platform – between Credit Suisse and ING. The transaction showed that using blockchain could help make the securities lending process faster and more capital efficient.

Corda’s success is evident not only by the number of institutions that use the ledger but also by those looking to invest in the technology. The company has raised over $122 million from more than 40 institutions, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC and CLS.

In July, Corda Enterprise was launched to meet the demands of modern day businesses, especially complex institutions. With the launch, companies can now select a version of Corda that fits their unique needs – regardless of their industry, size, and stage of development. This means a wider range of institutions can realise the full potential of blockchain – executing complex logic and exchange of assets directly, simply and in strict privacy, without the need for costly reconciliation or a trusted intermediary.

We are proud to see R3 be continually recognised at the forefront of blockchain development in the financial market as we see the world begin to open their eyes to the potential of this technology.

Previse raises USD $7m in Series A funding round

Previse, the global supplier payments decisions company, has raised USD $7m in a Series A funding round, led by listed European fintech specialist, Augmentum Fintech PLC, and one of the world’s pre-eminent venture capital firms, Bessemer Venture Partners.

Hambro Perks and a number of existing and new angel investors also participated in the funding round.

Applying machine learning to B2B payments

Previse applies machine learning technology to solve a global business problem – slow B2B payments. The London-based fintech enables buyers to have all their suppliers paid instantly, as soon as the buyer receives an invoice. It uses machine learning to root out the invoices which may not be paid, allowing a funder to pay the rest immediately. The small fee paid by the supplier for instant payment is shared between the buyer, the funder and Previse.

How big is the slow B2B payments problem?

Slow business to business (B2B) payments caused by inefficient payment terms cost the world’s businesses US$300 billion every year. They cripple business and economic growth and are one of the leading killers of small suppliers. Paying slowly costs large buyers, because a supplier’s expensive cost of borrowing is priced into the cost of the goods or services supplied. Large buyers are also perceived to be taking advantage of their suppliers and are facing a growing public and political backlash as a result.

Significant demand for InstantPay

Since its founding in 2016, Previse has grown rapidly, signing up seven large organisations as well as receiving significant demand for its InstantPay technology from some of the world’s largest companies. It is also now listed on the G-Cloud – meaning instant invoice payment is now available for the £223 billion market that is public procurement.

The Series A funding will help scale Previse’s business to meet this significant, global demand, onboard clients and further develop its technology with the overall aim of ensuring that every supplier in the world can be paid instantly.

World-leading backers

Bessemer Venture Partners is America’s longest-standing venture capital firm. It has a global portfolio and has invested in companies such as LinkedIn, DocuSign, and Box. Augmentum Fintech is a listed fintech-focused venture capital investor and its portfolio includes leading UK fintech companies such as Zopa, Interactive Investor and Seedrs.

In 2017, Previse also raised £2 million in a seed funding round led by Hambro Perks, Founders Factor and high net-worth angel investors with close ties to high-profile multinationals.

It counts senior business figures such as Chairman of British Land, John Gildersleeve, and Sainsbury’s Chairman, David Tyler as members of its advisory board.

More positive news for high-flying UK fintech scene

This positive development from the London-based fintech comes just weeks after KPMG announced the UK held the crown for worldwide fintech investment in H1 of 2018. It attracted over US$16.1bn of inbound investment during the first half of the year, more than China (US$15.1bn) and the United States (US$14.2bn).

Previse has made huge strides since its launch in 2016, receiving backing from leading business figures, top venture capital firms and signing up seven large organisations. With strong plans for growth and a desire to transform global B2B payments, the company is undoubtedly one of the hottest fintechs worth keeping an eye on over the next few years.

FCA unveils first steps to a ‘global fintech sandbox’

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced the launch of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), a new alliance to encourage the growth of fintech globally.

The GFIN is part of the FCA’s plans to formally create a “global sandbox”, an idea it first discussed in February. A sandbox allows companies to test new, innovative products that are not protected by current regulation or supervised by regulators, reducing the time and cost of getting products to market.

The new ‘global fintech sandbox’ will involve a collaborative effort with watchdogs from around the world including the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. It aims to help regulators stay ahead of the new wave of emerging technologies.

Over the past few years, watchdogs have seen the rapid rise of data analytics, the advancement of technologies such as AI and the creation of new securities such as ICOs. Under GFIN, a fintech will be able to carry out tests in different countries at the same time to solve common cross-border problems such as data protection, KYC and anti-money laundering.

The UK has established a reputation for being at the forefront of the fintech revolution and received more investment in its fintech sector than any other country in the world during the first half of 2018.

Regulators have demonstrated their commitment and willingness to work side-by-side with fintechs; the FCA was the first regulator to create a domestic sandbox in 2016, while the Bank of England has completed proof of concepts with start-ups such as enterprise software firm R3. It also launched its own Fintech Hub in March 2018.

This subsequently led to calls for a global sandbox, which received near-unanimous approval from regulatory bodies all over the world.

It is important to note, however, that not everyone believes in the importance of regulatory sandboxes. The chief of New York’s financial regulatory body said on Tuesday that the agency is “fiercely opposed” to the U.S. Treasury Department’s recent endorsement of regulatory “sandboxes” for fintech firms. Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said, “the idea that innovation will flourish only by allowing companies to evade laws that protect consumers, and which also safeguard markets and mitigate risk for the financial services industry, is preposterous.”

It will be interesting to see whether the initiative will achieve its aims and whether financial services regulators will effectively collaborate to balance the potential benefits of innovation with their traditional policy objectives.

Chatsworth welcomes this positive collaboration between regulators and aspiring fintechs, both domestically and internationally, as this gives companies a safe environment to test new ideas and learn how to effectively scale their business concepts. We would encourage fintechs, investors, governments, and other interested parties to participate in the consultation process to ensure it is transparent and fair to potential firms wishing to apply for cross-border testing.

UK Holds the Crown for Worldwide Fintech Investment

The UK has received more investment in its fintech sector than any other country in the world, according to KPMG’s latest Venture Pulse Report.

With over US$16.1bn of inbound investment during the first half of the year, the UK is firmly ahead of China (US$15.1bn) and the United States (US$14.2bn).

Europe currently stands as the leading continent for fintech investment ($26bn), with the UK accounting for over half of this. Moreover, four of the ten largest European fintech deals were conducted in the UK. This includes the US$250m raised by Revolut in April and US$100m by eToro in March of this year.

KPMG also predicts that the UK will retain its crown in the second half of 2018.

The report cites artificial intelligence (AI) as one of the main sectors responsible for attracting fintech investment in the UK. Hot startups such as Previse and Mosaic Smart Data are utilising the technology to revolutionise areas as diverse as late payments and data analytics in wholesale financial markets.

Brexit

With the shadow of Brexit looming large, it is a timely reminder of the importance of the UK to the global fintech community. In a keynote speech at London Fintech Week earlier this month, our CEO Nick Murray-Leslie noted how finance and technology are almost indivisible; nowhere comes close to London in terms of dominance as a financial centre and, by extension, a fintech hub.

The strong data also dismisses the notion that Brexit is affecting the way investors think about the City and the rest of the UK. Our view is that Brexit is not the biggest risk to London; rather, it is the risk that the UK, and London in particular, becomes a victim of its own success and unaffordable or unattractive for people.

This city has been undergoing its own version of what scholars of US cities have termed “the Great Inversion”. This is the return of people, high-end housing and highly-paid jobs to city centres. If it becomes too expensive these people will go elsewhere and there may soon be only two types of people left: the wealthy and those who are in social housing. This will be a problem.

Looking Forward

Beyond the UK, fintech as an industry has sky-rocketed this year. Worldwide global fintech investment this year has already exceeded the whole sum value of 2017, proving why it’s crucial for the UK to remain at the forefront of this vital sector.

Chatsworth has been working with a number of award-winning start-ups and established fintechs such as Previse (late payments), Mosaic Smart Data (data analytics), R3 (blockchain), and can personally avow for how London can support a fintech business of any size, better than any other city in the world.

Looking forward to the third-quarter of the year, tax reforms in the US, a significant amount of dry powder and the continued flow of funding into the VC world are expected to keep the fintech investment market strong over the next quarter.

AI and data analytics are expected to remain high on the radar of VC investors. It is also expected that companies in maturing sectors, such as e-commerce, will continue to broaden their offerings and investments in order to access new or adjacent verticals.

But as KPMG notes, an area that may be one to watch over the next quarter will be valuations – particularly for companies with no tangible assets, where investors are focused on what the company might do in the future. The level of assumption and risk involved in these types of valuations is quite high and it is still to be seen if these valuations will be substantiated.

London’s Fintech Scene Greatest Threat Is Not Brexit

Finance and technology are almost indivisible. Nowhere comes close to London in terms of dominance as a financial centre and, by extension, a fintech hub.

Activity in the sector has really exploded in the last half decade. Inward investment to London has doubled since 2014 and it was the leading sector for investment in 2017. UK fintech attracted a record £1.34 billion VC funding, double the amount of any other European country.

That is why some of the most exciting fintech companies in the world, like R3, a consortium of over 200 banks and funds building a blockchain for finance and business, are building right here, in London.

Why London?

This city has been the beating heart of international finance for centuries. The Bank of England was the second central bank in the world and provided the financial flexibility which would be the foundation of the Empire’s power and which has pertained to this day.

Towards the turn of the millennium, the “Big Bang” reforms of the 1980s complimented the infrastructure and expertise which had evolved from running the Empire and led to London becoming the model for global financial administration. Only in a city with London’s concentration of intellectual capital would this have been possible.

So while our cousins across the pond had to deal with the bureaucracy and the restrictive regulation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, we didn’t. Companies simply decided to avoid the hassle by conducting their business in the US and listed their stocks in London where the people and skills were ready for them.

London also holds a unique position in terms of our legal environment, M&A expertise and even our timezone which, even today, remain important factors.

Financial professionals are redefining fintech

Fast forward and these advantage carry over into the fintech sector. There are now legions of financial market professionals and traders moving into fintechs, working with the designers and coders.

Many of my clients are former desk heads or former heads of market data – they have had successful careers but had spotted opportunities to apply technology to improve what they do. These people are bringing their knowledge of the markets, instruments and the complexities of international regulation to the table.

Brexit

Just because London is the undisputed home of fintech today, doesn’t mean that is always going to be the case. I see a couple of threats on the near horizon that need dealing with to stay on top.

Brexit is an obvious concern. We simply must make sure that we remain open for business and be seen to be open for business. I do not agree with the former Foreign Secretary’s reported view that business should go “reproduce” with itself.

If the final deal jeopardises the status of London in the global markets there’s more at risk than just transactions going elsewhere. This is about a concentration of talent and access to capital. The way the UK makes relationships with other countries and structures its own agenda in the run up to Brexit will be key to its success.

London’s talent pool

So Brexit is clearly a risk, but I don’t actually think it’s the biggest risk to London. I think the biggest risk is that it becomes a victim of its own success and unaffordable or unattractive for people.

This city has been undergoing its own version of what scholars of US cities have termed “the Great Inversion”. This is the return of people, high-end housing and highly-paid jobs to city centres.

Inner London’s growth was in part fostered by the ability of creative people from various fields to cluster together and share ideas.

If inner London becomes too expensive these people will go elsewhere. In inner London there may soon be only two types of people left: the wealthy and those who are in social housing. This will be a problem.

London needs to be good for both business and for people and their families. That means ensuring individual and corporation tax is sensible and that families can afford to live in a capital with effective services.

Word to the risk takers

Some final words of tribute to the fintech risk takers who have put their time, their own and their investor’s money, plus a whole lot of coffee and sleepless nights into their concept, design and build.

If you’re doing it in the wholesale markets space, you’re competing for attention in the face of an established tech infrastructure, highly resistant to change. It’s tough, but ultimately the USP of your platform or offering will do the talking. Never give up. Get it right and you will change a – part of this business world for the better.

Chatsworth delivers opening keynote at London FinTech Week

To Westminster, where Chatsworth’s CEO Nick Murray-Leslie was the opening keynote speaker at this years’ London FinTech Week.

 The event brought together the best and brightest FinTech firms, individuals, developers, and entrepreneurs.

 FinTech is a truly global sector, with focussed hubs developing in both developed and emerging markets.

Nick’s speech focused on London as a FinTech hub, how London had gained traction as a global fintech hub and what it must do to retain that critical position, from attracting investment and venture capital, the talent pool, expansion opportunities and the impact of Brexit.

He also introduced Richard Brown, CTO of R3 for a deep dive into how a major banking technology consortium chose London for its technical and operational HQ and how the city’s talent pool and unique position in the intersection of finance, timezones and continents contributed to its success.

UK Remains at the Forefront of the Fintech Revolution

Despite fierce competition, the UK remains at the forefront of the fintech revolution according to the ‘Finance for Fintech’ report, launched recently by London Stock Exchange Group and TheCityUK.

The independent survey, carried out by YouGov, interviewed over 400 fintech companies across eight countries, all of which have had at least Series A funding rounds or above, and provided interesting insights into the global fintech scene.

Bullish UK fintech scene

UK fintechs are bullish about their growth prospects.

The research highlighted that fintech companies operating in the UK expect to grow by 88 per cent over the next three years, 8% higher than the overall average.

Vital to this growth is raising finance and this process is reportedly more straightforward for UK fintechs in public markets than those operating in other countries, making it an attractive location for fast-growth companies. Chancellor Philip Hammond recently supported this view, pointing out that investment in UK fintech more than doubled last year, outpacing the funding of EU rivals such as Germany.

Interestingly, fintechs surveyed placed the UK as the third best  location for businesses seeking to grow their international footprint, only behind the US and China.

Fintech Revolution in Europe?

That said, competition is heating up.

Europe increasingly seeks to strengthen its position as a regional fintech hub. On 8 March, the European Commission announced an action plan on how it will do just that; new rules that will help crowdfunding platforms to grow across the EU’s single market.

The impact of this will be interesting as one of the primary barriers to fintech growth is competition according to 43% of those surveyed.

Regulation

Fintechs require a supportive global regulatory environment to flourish.

You have to applaud the FCA’s exploration of a potential global regulatory sandbox following the success of its UK version. The UK version, launched in 2016, helped fintechs to test innovations with real customers in the live market but under controlled conditions.

The global sandbox could allow firms to conduct tests from London into different jurisdictions at the same time, enabling regulators to collaborate to solve cross-border problems.

This has the potential to strengthen London’s position as a destination for global fintech companies as they can come from all around the world to test their products and find out how they can expand internationally.

Fintech is by definition without borders.

The research shows that fintechs across the world are becoming increasingly cross-border in their growth aspirations with 72% of the 400 companies surveyed planning to expand into new countries. 73% believe they will need to move into new or develop existing market sectors in order to achieve this growth and almost three-quarters believe long-term growth will be driven, at least in part, by new technologies.

It is worth noting that those who have reached Series D rounds or above have the biggest appetite for expansions and anticipate achieving a monumental growth of 320%.

While fintechs seek global expansion, it is important they don’t lose sight of the importance of being located close to the core financial hubs as crossover will, by and large, determine their success.

It is clear that in order for fintechs to thrive and continue to transform the global financial services sector, they need access to finance, a supportive global regulatory environment and proximity to the global financial services sector. The UK currently offers all three.

The report demonstrates that while the UK remains at the forefront of the fintech revolution, it must continue to innovate and work collaboratively in order to maintain its leading position, especially with Europe hot on its heels.

 

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Banks Are Prioritising Digital Transformation

Fintech has barely even got started if a new report from EY is to be believed. Less than 20% of banks believe they are doing enough as a business to invest in technology, according to EY’s Global Banking Outlook study. This, despite some substantial leaps forward in technological capability and significant investment.

To combat this, more than half of banks surveyed in the report expect budgets for technological investment to rise by 10% this year, and more than half of banks aspire to be digitally maturing or digital leaders by 2020. Banks appetite to invest and partner with fintech firms may in part explain why last year was a bumper year for fintech VC funding, with $1.8 billion raised by UK firms.

This new investment opens up major new growth opportunities for the already thriving financial technology market.

The impact of fintech is being felt in every part of finance, from retail banking to back-office compliance. But one of the key focuses for banks over the past few years has been using technology to try to deal with stringent compliance and regulation, which slows down, complicates and adds expense to transactions.

Solving this is one of the key promises of distributed ledger technology (DLT) which is being touted as a new way to create trust between institutions, lower compliance costs and create information sharing efficiencies. This year, we are likely to see the first examples of DLT moving from proof of concept into market operation.

Data analytics and machine learning are likely to be another hotspot of activity this year. Many banks have begun announcing project designs in all kinds of areas of the bank, from back-office automation to the use of machine learning to improve execution quality.

For example, JP Morgan is working with UK based data analytics company Mosaic Smart Data to unlock insights from its internal FICC data to improve client handling and FICC performance.

In trade finance, Previse is looking to end late payments for SME suppliers with its advanced machine learning and innovative finance model which creates opportunities for buyers, sellers and banks alike.

The last few years have seen an explosion in financial technology. However, emerging technologies begin to mature, and banks continue to strive to be more efficient and effective, it looks like the fintech surge is only just beginning.

 

Carillion collapse shines spotlight on late payments issue

The collapse of construction giant Carillion has focused media and government attention on the global issue of payment terms after it was discovered the group paid subcontractors with a 120-day delay. These delayed payments meant many suppliers had to resort to expensive bank finance to stay in business while others are now facing bankruptcy.

Recognising the importance of ending the culture of late payment, two FTSE 100 chairmen have joined the advisory board of Previse, a UK based company which uses artificial intelligence to solve slow payments for the entire supply chain.

Chairman of supermarket chain J Sainsbury, David Tyler and chairman of property group British Land, John Gildersleeve have joined the company as investors and advisers.

Previse’s AI technology is designed to enable large firms to pay suppliers on the day they receive an invoice. The London-based firm’s technology calculates a buyer’s likelihood of paying an invoice, before deciding which invoices will be paid, so small suppliers can be paid instantly.

David Tyler said: “The length of time it can take for suppliers to be paid hurts not only them, but the large companies buying their products and services as well.” He believes that Previse will bring benefits to the entire supply chain and that the company has a bright future ahead of it.

Mr Gildersleeve, who is also deputy chairman of telecoms company TalkTalk, told the Financial Times that Previse could tackle an issue that has, “infected British business forever.”

Lengthy payment terms and the prevalence of slow payments by large buyers, which affects three in five SME suppliers, cause 50,000 UK SMEs to close each year. Previse’s artificial intelligence technology allows even very small suppliers to receive payment the day they issue their invoice by instantly identifying if an invoice is correct and allowing a funder to pay the supplier immediately based on this information.

“I am proud to be able to welcome our new board members who represent incredible senior experience across such a wide range of industries with significant supply chains.” Said Paul Christensen, CEO of Previse. “I think this shows the deep understanding across industry that slow payments are a real problem, and confidence in our approach to tackling the problem.”

 

J.P. Morgan deploys Mosaic Smart Data for fixed income data analytics

As a recent piece in the FT pointed out, traders are searching for ever more inventive data streams to try to make better predictions about their market or get an edge over the competition. Whether that be advanced social media analytics, algorithms to read the news or even using drones and satellite images to look at factories, banks, and hedge funds are investing significant amounts in collecting and analysing data.

But, banks know that there is a vast wealth of data created and stored within the institution created simply through the normal course of the trading day. This is free, and it is completely proprietary.

The problem is, data within the bank is distributed across desks, systems and messaging languages. Bringing that all into one, aggregated and standardised form so that the algorithms can work their magic and deliver valuable insights is a herculean task.

But that is exactly what Mosaic Smart Data has announced it is doing J.P. Morgan.

By using sophisticated historical, real-time and predictive analytics algorithms, the Mosaic’s platform will provide, in the first instance, J.P. Morgan’s rates, sales and trading business with advanced tools to accurately provide tailored client service. This innovative technology enables users to better visualise and anticipate market and client activity and thereby offer better service. It can also reduce the cost and complexity of compliance.

“Having a more holistic view of trading data will improve our service delivery for clients.” Said Troy Rohrbaugh, Global Head of Macro at J.P. Morgan. “The Mosaic platform integrates securely with our existing technology infrastructure, and enables our teams to quickly make better-informed decisions.”

Once these fundamentals of a data analytics platform are in place. Mosaic can roll out advanced machine learning and predictive analytics which will help sales teams to predict their clients’ behaviour, allowing them to better facilitate client needs and improve their performance.

“Data analytics and artificial intelligence are changing the face of investment banking.” Says Matthew Hodgson, CEO, and founder of Mosaic Smart Data. “Banks understand that the insights locked away in their transaction and market data are potentially some of their biggest competitive advantages. They already have the raw materials, but MSX® gives them the tools to aggregate and standardise that data and put it to work intelligently.”

Top Canadian FinTechs to feature at Sibos 2017

 32 FinTech startups have been selected to participate in Sibos.

According to figures highlighted by the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA), Canadian investment activity in the FinTech sector from angel investors, Venture Capitalists (VCs) and corporate VCs increased from US$87.21 million in 2012 to US$367.51 million in 2016.

This doesn’t come as a surprise – the country has long been a pioneer in the digital arena. This extends back to the creation of the first truly smart smartphone, and the establishment of the world’s first Bitcoin ATM in Canada in 2013.

There are now hundreds of innovative FinTech companies, spread across Canada’s major FinTech hubs – Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver.

These hubs are making a name for themselves on the world stage. For example, Vancouver has moved up 16 spots on the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) from #33 in 2008 to #17 in 2017. And in 2016, The Banker magazine ranked Toronto second amongst North American financial centres and 8th in the world.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, over 2,000 students graduate each year with degrees in Finance, adding to the nearly 100,000-strong talent pool that drives financial services in the city. And there are 1,556 financial services businesses in Calgary, where the Top 10 investment banks all have a presence.

To help some of the best local FinTechs showcase their solutions to a global audience, the Canada Lounge at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) will host 32 Canadian FinTech startups throughout the Sibos week. The Canada Lounge will be located in the Discover Zone (Level 600).

The startups will rotate throughout the week. Each day, there will be eight startups present in the Canadian FinTech Corner section of the Canada Lounge. Delegates will be able to interact with them to learn more about their offering, and how they may be able to help your business.

 

 

 

 

Financial services and the fintech opportunity

A new report from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) claims that fintech can improve both financial stability and access to services, but requires significant changes in regulation in order to flourish.

This sector has exploded in recent years, with banks, regulators and VCs throwing their weight (and money) behind a huge range of start-ups. The BIS has waded into the debate with a well-researched paper assessing the potential impact of fintech on the financial services industry.

Despite financial services readily adopting technological innovations which have transformed other industries (such as the internet and automation technologies), the cost of managing assets has stayed almost unchanged in 130 years.

In a working paper entitled ‘The Fintech Opportunity’, the BIS explores why operating costs in finance remains so surprisingly high, and how regulation creates barriers to further innovation which could bring down costs.

The fintech opportunity

While there is substantial analysis about how regulation has impacted the financial services sector over the past decade, we think the most interesting section of this report relates to how a new breed of fintech companies can be nurtured.

Fintech startups seek to disrupt the status quo with innovative solutions to new and existing problems. The paper argues that regulators could take advantage of the fintech movement to achieve some of the goals that have so far remained elusive.

There are huge opportunities to be gained from this. The key advantage of startups is that they are not held back by existing systems and are willing to make risky choices. In banking, for instance, successive mergers have left many large banks with layers of legacy technologies that are, at best, partly integrated.

The provides the opportunity for fintechs to build the right systems from the start. Moreover, they share a culture of efficient operational design that many incumbents do not have.

There are, however, many challenges to overcome. This includes the ability to correctly forecast the evolution of the industry, encouragement or interest from potential customers that can result in viable, widespread adoption, preventing a new company being swallowed up by incumbents and making sure that the new system does not create new inefficiencies or suffer from the flaws of incumbents.

Four guiding principles

The onus is on regulators to provide the right environment and incentives if they want fintechs to flourish.

The paper suggests four guidelines for regulators to consider:

  • Encourage entry and beware of a narrow approach to level-playing-field
  • Promote low leverage from the beginning
  • Keep incumbents in check with high equity ratios and be mindful of acquisition
  • Perfect is the enemy of good

These guidelines are discussed at length by the author, and we encourage you to read about them here.

But what’s interesting is that the guidelines do not require regulators to forecast which technology will succeed or which services should be unbundled, nor require regulators to force top-down structural changes onto powerful incumbents.

The reality is that no one knows when the ‘Uber’ of wholesale financial services will emerge or what it will look like. What we do know, however, is that a combination of restrictive regulations and powerful incumbents can certainly prevent entry.

While there have been promising fintech companies emerging across a range of sectors, creating and maintaining an environment that fosters creativity and innovation, and balancing this with systemic risk controls, is crucial for both financial stability and access to services.

The rise and rise of artificial intelligence

Recent announcements from some of the largest banks show artificial intelligence (AI) working its way further into financial markets.

Credit Suisse has announced it is to deploy 150 new ‘robots’ over the course of the year, with an overall aim of cutting CHF 4.8 billion (GBP 3.7 billion).

UBS has unveiled a new AI system which uses machine learning to develop strategies for trading volatility on behalf of clients. The bank claims that this is the first ‘adaptive strategy’ product offered by an investment bank.

J.P. Morgan is developing a machine learning technology called LOXM which aims to improve execution quality in the bank’s European equities business. As the buy-side increasingly focuses on execution quality, this is driving ever greater adoption of algorithmic trading across asset classes. LOXM is programmed to learn from historical trading patterns and tweak its algorithmic strategies accordingly, using a technique J.P. Morgan calls ‘deep reinforcement learning’.

The ability to adapt and learn without human intervention allows LOXM to optimising the execution gains of algo trading.

Mosaic Smart Data is looking at how AI can improve trading across asset classes, taking on the challenge of providing machine learning capabilities to the FICC markets, which have far less standardised data and a greater portion of voice trading.

Mosaic provides both real time and predictive analytics insights for sell-side FICC traders, giving them a view of their market in a way that takes in far more data than a human being is able to comprehend. This augments the human trader’s capabilities and could lead to significant performance gains for sell-side FICC departments.

While initial uses of AI focused on process improvements, it is significant that the technology has reached a level where its insights are now helping to influence trading itself.

Although we are still some way from a fully automated robo-trader, this represents a significant increase in confidence in AI technology.

Bank of England to boost fintech by opening up RTGS

The Bank of England (BoE) announced a framework to open up its interbank payment system to fintech firms.

The UK interbank payments landscape is currently dominated by CHAPS, a same-day sterling settlement service used to transfer large amounts between businesses, as well as for property purchases.

CHAPS’s central position in the market, processing 92% of interbank payments, however, represents a degree of risk to financial stability. In 2014, the system was suspended for several hours due to technical problems. This resulted in payments being held up and caused delays for house buyers as payments were not processed on time.

Newer fintech companies and challenger banks are also concerned that they will be at a disadvantage when working with the company, as it is owned by the UK’s four biggest banks.

In response to these concerns, the Bank of England last year announced a plan to widen access to its real time gross settlement (RTGS) payment service, the system which enables large sterling transfers on a real-time basis. This will allow non-banks to bypass systems like CHAPS and access a range of payment services directly from the BoE.

This week, the Bank took the next step with the release of a detailed technical framework for how the new system will operate.

Under the plans, a payment service provider (PSP) will be given access to the RTGS system) if it can demonstrate appropriate anti-money laundering checks and can keep customers money safe.

The Bank hopes this new approach will relieve some of the financial stability pressures from CHAPS, while giving smaller PSPs more confidence in their payment service relationships.

The move is a further boost to the growing retail fintech sector. Combined with the European Union’s second payment services directive (PSD II) next year, it will help to put these companies on a more even footing with their bigger competitors and open up competition in retail banking services.

With greater access to customer data through PSD II, and the ability to transfer large payments in real time, fintechs will now be able to compete far more effectively with their larger rivals.

The effect could be to push greater innovation from both banks and fintech companies. This can only be a good thing for end users.

Chatsworth congratulates Pragma and Cobalt on FX Week e-FX Award wins

Leading industry trade publication FX Week has announced the winners of its prestigious e-FX Awards, which included two of Chatsworth’s foreign exchange clients.

The awards recognise firms from across the foreign exchange industry for their excellence and innovation in the world’s most liquid financial market.

Announcing the award winners, FX Week editor Eva Szalay said technology in the market was “booming”, pointing out that “innovation has been extended to small start-ups, as well as the largest players” and highlighted the market’s “genuine desire to become more transparent, more competent and highly innovative”.

Innovation was certainly in evidence from algorithmic trading technology provider Pragma Securities, which was named Best independent algorithmic trading technology provider, and post-trade distributed ledger technology company Cobalt, which was awarded e-FX initiative of the year award.

Pragma

Reflecting on the increasing sophistication amongst the buy-side and the push for best execution in FX, Pragma has seen rapid growth and expansion over the past 12 months.

The company serves banks, brokers and sophisticated buy-side institutions, and identifies its value proposition around transparency and control as differentiating features.

It added a number of new capabilities to its Pragma360 algorithmic trading platform. This includes algorithmic trading non-deliverable forwards (NDFs), which offers traders better execution when investing in popular emerging market currencies.

It has also expanded its international client base through a new connectivity presence at Equinix’s LD6 data centre in London, providing lower latency connection to London based FX matching engines.

Cobalt

Cobalt has a very eye-catching proposition – it uses distributed ledger technology to cut 80% of the costs of post-trade reporting.

Founded by former Traiana executive Andy Coyne, and Adrian Patten, the company is offering to completely revolutionise the costly and time-consuming way in which post-trade FX services are conducted, cutting out duplication by storing records of all transactions on a single distributed ledger.

“I think if we are successful, the biggest impact will be on trading and Cobalt will increase volumes. Post-trade costs are a tax on trading and the idea that you can charge someone 50 cents to a buck for sending an unencrypted message to the back office is ridiculous.

“So if we can reduce those costs by dollars per transaction, that will feed into increasing volumes,” Patten tells FX Week.

The team at Chatsworth would like to congratulate both Cobalt and Pragma on their well-deserved award wins.

Previse secures backing to end late B2B payments with the help of AI

Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy, generating some 50% of private sector turnover and employing three out of five private sector workers.

However, these businesses are held back by late payments from their large corporate clients. With 60% of SMEs paid late by corporates, businesses are left strapped for cash to meet their own payment obligations, such as wages, stock and rent. This cash flow crisis forces 50,000 UK companies a year to go to the wall. 

Banks play a role in easing the problem, offering larger suppliers short-term financing or buying the invoices directly from suppliers for a substantial discount, a practice known as factoring. Both these solutions are expensive for the supplier, however, which pushes up prices for the whole payments chain. In addition, given the fragmented and high-risk nature of the SME credit market, only the largest suppliers are able to secure credit.

This means that, according to the world bank, there is $2.4 trillion in unmet demand for financing from SMEs globally.

Enter Previse. The company, which this week announced the successful completion of a £2 million seed round, is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to allow banks to meet the financing needs of SME suppliers in a scalable and low-risk way.

Previse uses advanced AI and hundreds of millions of data points to score the likelihood that a corporate buyer will be able to pay a supplier’s invoice. This score is then provided to banks and other funders who use that information to instantly pay the SME on behalf of the large corporate. The supplier receives their money the day they issue their invoice, giving them complete cash flow confidence.

The effect is that “instant, frictionless and efficient payments become the new standard for B2B payments,” according to Paul Christensen, co-founder and CEO of Previse.

The rest of the payments chain benefits as well. By offering such a service, buyers can negotiate a discount on their purchasing costs and banks can reach much deeper into the SME credit market without blowing their risk exposure. The net effect could be a several billion-pound boost to the UK economy every year.

To find out more about Previse seed funding please click here