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Banks feeling the pinch with big approval delays: how digital onboarding and banking automation can relieve the pressure



In the first half of 2021, Australians have experienced a major bottleneck in loan application approvals. Lenders continue to struggle as a hot residential property market fuels consumer demand, and as businesses seek to finance a strong recovery post COVID.

Among the reasons cited for the delays, there is one constant – a reliance on manual processing of assessments and approval processes. Digital onboarding and banking automation present a clear way forward.

Mixed messages in the media 

In April 2021, the big four banks in Australia announced they had drastically reduced time spent decision making. They were now achieving turnaround times of two days or less for simple mortgages.

Yet, according to ongoing press coverage, the time taken to reach conditional approval has blown out.

By early May, Westpac customers were still experiencing long delays in securing home loan approvals. The bank was said to be grappling with a “40 per cent surge in applications in the first quarter of 2021”, compounded by the closure of an offshore processing facility in 2020.

Later in May, ANZ said that its processing times for home loan applications had, on average, more than doubled over the previous month.

Meanwhile, delays in approval of business loans were described as a failure of credit for Australian businesses in the throes of post-COVID recovery.

The root of the problem

No-one anticipated the heightened demand in Australia’s property market in 2021. As Sandstone Technology’s Chief Customer Officer, Ross Watts explains, “Even three to four months ago we couldn’t have seen this coming.”

“Some bank’s resources have been doubly stretched after having redistributed resources from their home loan processing to support customers in financial hardship.”

But the root of the problem is the absence of automated banking solutions. “Much of the pain being experienced by lenders at the moment is because of manual processes within their application flows,” Watts says.

Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia CEO Mike Felton recent commented that there was an opportunity for improved processes between brokers and banks in Australia. He highlighted that turnaround issues were inconveniencing customers and extending the home loan application process. In turn creating stress for the customer, broker and banking staff.

Felton’s comments highlight a massive opportunity to automate every facet of the home lending process, particularly the onboarding and application process through to offer stage.

“As we move towards an environment where third-party written home loans become the norm, the opportunity for banking automation is huge,” Watts says.

To read Sandstone Technology’s full article Banks feeling the pinch with big approval delays: how digital onboarding and banking automation can relieve the pressure  please visit:

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Revolut Losses Deepen in 2020 despite 57% Revenue Jump

The $5.5 billion startup is planning for further fundraising.



UK fintech Revolut reported a 57 percent jump in its 2020 revenue, but the company’s losses for the year deepened despite the year-end cryptocurrency boom. The operating loss for the startup came in at £200.6 million.

The financials released by the UK digital bank shows that it ended 2020 with total revenue of £261 million, up from the previous year’s £166 million. The startup also made £39 million in fair value gains from crypto assets, meaning it holds some cryptocurrencies in its balance sheets.

Though the company generated £123 million as gross profits, it reported operating losses at the end of the year. The company spent £266 million alone as its administrative costs. However, losses narrowed significantly in the final quarter. With a staff of 2,200 people, the company reported £55 million in operating losses in Q1, which came down to only £5 million in the final quarter.

The gross margin of the startup also improved to 61 percent in Q4 from only 29 percent in Q1.

“As the extraordinary circumstances of 2020 drove the trend towards digital financial management we continued to innovate for customers to make their financial lives easier and accelerate daily use,” said Nikolay Storonsky, founder and CEO of Revolut.

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The UK startup expanded aggressively in 2020. It entered the United States, Japan, and Australia, and also launched banking services in Lithuania. But the United Kingdom still remained its dominant market generating 88.4 percent of its revenue, while 10.2 percent came from the European Economic Area.

Storonsky further said that COVID-19 implications have forced the startup to focus on profitable areas like cryptocurrency and stock trading. But Revolut’s cards and interchange business generated the highest revenue of £95 million, followed by £80 million from forex.

The startup also revealed that it had 14.5 million personal customers and 500,000 business customers by the end of 2020. Further, Revolut reported that its revenue and gross profit for Q1 2021 increased by 130 percent and 300 percent, respectively, year-over-year.

“Revolut entered its next phase of growth in 2020 as we broadened our global footprint, strengthened our capital base, enhanced governance, and bolstered executive management,” said Revolut Chairman, Martin Gilbert.

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Revolut revenue grew by 57% in 2020



Fintech startup Revolut has filed some financial results and is sharing details with the press. In 2020, the company reported $361 million in revenue (£261 million) — that’s a 57% increase compared to 2019 revenue of $229 million (£166 million).

Interestingly, those revenue figures have been adjusted to include fair value gains on cryptocurrency assets — it means that Revolut holds some crypto assets on its balance sheet. Revolut made $54 million (£39 million) in fair value gains on cryptocurrency assets.

Gross profit reached $170 million (£123 million) last year. At the same time, the company still reports operating losses. In particular, Q1 2020 was a particularly bad quarter with $76 million (£55 million) in adjusted operating loss.

In 2020, total non-adjusted operating loss reached $277 million (£200.6 million). Like many tech companies, administrative expenses are responsible for this loss. With a staff of 2,200 people, the company spent $367 million (£266 million) on administrative costs alone. But things seem to be improving as you can see:

Image Credits: Revolut

These trends aren’t that surprising as I reported that fintech startups spent most of 2020 focusing on profitability and improving their margins. At the end 2020, Revolut had 14.5 million personal customers and 500,000 companies using Revolut Business.

“As the extraordinary circumstances of 2020 drove the trend towards digital financial management we continued to innovate for customers to make their financial lives easier and accelerate daily use. We launched 24 new retail and business products, expanded into the US, Japan and Australia and launched banking services in Lithuania, all while significantly improving our profitability,” founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky said in a statement. “We began 2021 with a more resilient and productive business that will enhance our trajectory towards rapid growth.”

When you compare Q1 2020 to Q1 2021, things are radically different for the fintech company. Revenue increased by 130% year-over-year and gross profit grew by 300% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021.

Revolut has been launching a ton of products to diversify its sources of revenue. It is increasingly becoming a financial super app with current accounts, debit cards, trading services, insurance products, premium subscriptions, cryptocurrency trading and more.

Interestingly, interchange revenue from card transactions represents a good chunk of the company’s revenue. In 2020, cards and interchange generated $131 million (£95 million) in revenue. Every time a Revolut customer makes a card purchase, the card scheme (Visa or Mastercard) gives back some fees to Revolut. It’s an incredibly small percentage-based fee, but it can add up when you generate millions of purchases.

Foreign exchange and wealth generated $111 million (£80 million) in revenue. That’s another big one. And finally, subscriptions, such as Revolut Plus, Revolut Premium and Revolut Metal, accounted for $104 million (£75 million) in revenue.

Those are three strong pillars that all contribute to the company’s bottom line. They all represent a bit less or a bit more than a third of the company’s overall revenue.

Image Credits: Revolut

While the company has expanded aggressively over the years, the U.K. is still by far its biggest market. In 2020, 88.4% of the company’s (non-adjusted) revenue was related to its activities in the U.K. The European Economic Area without the U.K. represented 10.2% of revenue. The U.S., Japan, Australia and other markets were nearly negligible.

Revolut has also raised a mega round of funding in 2020 — a $500 million Series D round that was extended to $580 million in total. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company launches an initial public offering within the next 12 months.

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Artificial Intelligence

Persistent fraud threats drive consumer biometrics for payments and mobile credentials



A biometric spoof attack and new fraud report this week both indicate the challenge of ensuring financial transactions are legitimate, showing why the latest Goode Intelligence forecast includes biometrics being used for billions of dollars in payments in the years ahead.

Biometric technologies from Idex and partners Zwipe and Tag Systems are each a step closer to consumer’s wallets to help cut fraud, Google SE partners including G+D and Thales are working on mobile digital identity credentials, in addition to the ongoing work industry stakeholders are investing in health passes, and a Mitek executive shares insights on the evolving consumer biometrics ecosystem in some of our most widely-read stories of the week.

Top biometrics news of the week

By 2026, biometrics will secure more than $5.6 billion in payments, according to the latest forecast from Goode Intelligence and the most widely-read story of the week. The latest biometric payments report from Goode comes as Idex Biometrics announced a new order of its TrustedBio sensors and a Nilson Report was released highlighting the biometric card cost reduction from the partnership between Zwipe and Tag Systems.

The secure element Google is planning to use in its forthcoming Pixel 3 phones is optimized to secure digital copies of biometric passports and support mobile driver’s licenses. The company and partners are accelerating the development of the technology through the Android Ready SE Alliance, and OEM partners including G+D, NXP, STMicroelectronics and Thales are already working with the associated StrongBox applet.

A tale of an in-the-wild biometric spoof attack of some sophistication netting over $75 million in China has been reported, after a pair of hackers were prosecuted by law enforcement. The scam involved high-resolution images of people performing different actions made with data obtained on the black market, fraudulent tax invoices and hijacked smartphones.

UbiSecure’s ‘Let’s Talk About Digital Identity’ podcast is joined by NIST Computer Scientist Mei Ngan, discussing her path to joining NIST, the expansion of face biometrics both in terms of applications and market, the work the Institute has done on facial recognition with masks and demographic differentials, with an interesting segment on the serious threat of face morphing on identity documents.

The latest Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Research finds $43 billion was lost to digital identity fraud last year, meaning there has never been a better time to take advantage of increased consumer willingness to adopt biometrics. Consumers are also not willing to tolerate failed fraud claims resolution, which is too frequent, so financial institutions are under pressure from both sides.

The pandemic has driven many businesses from industries other than financial services to approach Buguroo about fending off online fraud with its behavioral biometrics, Founder and CEO Pablo de la Riva tells Startup Info. The company’s focus on comparison against personal behavioral history, rather than cluster of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ users and experience securing financial services customers gives it the edge in an industry “gaining massive momentum,” de la Riva says.

In a highlight from Biometric Update’s growing network of media partners, we present IEC e-tech magazine Co-editor Antoinette Price’s recent interview with ISO/IEC biometrics standards editor Mike Thieme on biometric presentation attacks. Thieme talks about a broader conception of presentation attacks than is sometimes thought of, challenges with PAD systems, and what Part 4 of the ISO/IEC 30107-3 standard does.

The biometrics and technologies for delegating authorization and authentication to online accounts and various digital devices for the full range of consumer applications are available now, Mitek CTO Stephen Ritter tells Biometric Update, but the broader ecosystem to support it is yet to be established. Creating the right environment for consumer trust in smart homes and the IoT will mean building trust, and may require the efforts of business giants like big banks, but in the meantime appropriate choices in biometrics implementation can give companies an edge right now.

Two International Monetary Fund officials want to break down the Big Tech silos that are preventing big data and AI from being fully utilized. Too much data is probably being collected, and too little value shared with individuals, but major barriers related to privacy and policy stand in the way of change. The prioritization of policy around data sharing and digital identity for proving vaccination status may present the opportunity to overcome those barriers, according to an opinion piece by Yan Carriere-Swallow and Vikram Haksar.

Innovatrics’ SmartFace platform now includes pedestrian and body part detection to aid with anonymous real-time detection, with its latest update. The company has also introduced an application to provide instant feedback from mobile devices placed beside a SmartFace entry point, such as a reminder to put on a mask.

Digital health pass plans continue to be announced by governments around the world, with Japan, Estonia, and New York State the latest to adopt QR-code based credentials. Pangea has developed a ‘Green Pass’ authentication system to prevent spoofs of Israel’s COVID vaccine credential, meanwhile.

A pair of new health passes have been launched, with Global ID and Unisys each partnering with healthcare organizations. A white paper was released on the topic as part of the Digital Document Security Online Event 2021, and Aware reminds of the importance of liveness for digital identity authentication, meanwhile.

Nomidio and Post-Quantum executives talk with Biometric Update about the importance of how data is encrypted to data security, and how data can be secured in the future against quantum computers capable of breaking today’s standard encryption algorithms. That future may arrive in less than five years.

A new research partnership to bring biometric pre-registration to airport experiences by Idiap and Facedapter has been announced, in the latest attempt to reduce touchpoints and time spent waiting for flights. India’s government is moving forward with its Digi Yatra plans, while SITA offers tips for airports and a K2 Security executive weighs in on impacts of COVID-19 on TSA checkpoints.

Former IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac believes the digital identity benefits of the IATA Travel Pass could not only play a key role in restarting the industry, but also boost the OneID project and transform passenger experience, he tells Airlines. De Juniac talks about the timing of IATA’s transition to a new CEO, and how the pandemic has brought closer collaboration between industry stakeholders.

The deadline for Nigerians to register their NINs with their SIMs has been extended by two months by court order, as numerous people faced having their mobile service cut off. The biometrics-backed national identity number is necessary for ever more parts of life in the country, with the NIN now required for writing university entrance exams.

Coppernic Co-founder and CEO Kevin Lecuivre tells Provence Business about the company’s roots in Psion Teklogix, how far France lags behind many African countries in digitizing electoral processes, and the company’s prospects for 2021 in a French-language interview. The pandemic may have set back Coppernic’s plans to reach €20 million in turnover by the end of 2022, but the company is internationalizing; and hiring.

Simprints has now reached more than 1.2 million beneficiaries, Chief Product Officer Alexandra Grigore announced in a LinkedIn post. The non-profit has provided fingerprint biometrics to support social benefits programs in 14 countries so far.

Please let us know of any interviews, editorials or other content we should share with the biometrics and digital identity communities in the comments below or through social media.

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Fintech Glint Says Most Savers Don’t Trust Banks



Glint Pay Services, a Fintech that is a regulated e-money firm and payments provider, says that savers don’t trust banks.

According to Glint and an in-house survey of their users, 68% of savers no longer trust banks to protect their wealth and are searching for alternative currencies and stores of value. Glint states that consumers are seeking alternatives to fiat currency – including crypto.

Jason Cozens, founder & CEO of Glint, claims their research demonstrates the scale of the monetary system’s failure to appeal to some consumers.

“Traditional financial institutions have not been able to cater to changing demand and for many of us, our trust hasn’t been rebuilt since the catastrophes of the financial crisis. Consumers and savers alike are increasingly turning their backs on the current monetary system and searching for alternatives ways to spend and save their money that won’t put their wealth or purchasing power at such long-term risk,” says Cozens.

He says that rapidly rising inflation and ongoing low-interest rates have punished savers. These factors and more have joined to devalue money and savings and alternatives to the current system are vital. Cozens believes that gold remains a reliable store of value while crypto has grown in interest – it remains highly volatile.

“The looming threat of increased regulation and the several collapses the market has experienced recently should act as a major wake-up call to any consumers considering entering the crypto market. The extreme volatility of these assets has been demonstrated by the market impact of Elon Musk’s tweets, first in sending prices soaring to record highs when Tesla purchased $1.5bn worth of Bitcoin and then sent provoking a plummeting in value with tweets hinting the company may exit the market just a couple of months later – this crash was further compounded by another Chinese announcement banning cryptos, with similar noises emerging from South Korea too.”

Cozens says the message from consumers is clear; they want reform of the monetary system and more control over their finances.

“Although the establishment of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) may appear as though consumers are set to be gifted with greater control, as these assets are tied to fiat currencies, and therefore subject to the same factors which erode the value of paper money. It’s likely that CBDCs, alongside increased regulation, are a move by central banks to push cryptos out of mainstream use. We’re at a pivotal moment in deciding the future of money; many believe true alternatives such as gold as an everyday currency is the future, rather than incredibly volatile cryptos or CBDCs which will continue to punish consumers.”

Glint is in the process of doing transatlantic security offering issuing securities to both US and UK investors. Glint is seeking up to $1.5 million in a Reg D offering on Republic while aiming to raise £2 million on Seedrs. The securities offering on Seedrs is already in over-funding having raised £2.9 million from over 900 investors. The offering on Seedrs is at a pre-money valuation of £35.9 million. On Republic, the securities offering holds a pre-money valuation of $32.5 million. Glint uses gold as an alternative global currency via an App and affiliated Mastercard.

Have a crowdfunding offering you’d like to share? Submit an offering for consideration using our Submit a Tip form and we may share it on our site!

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