ICICI Bank today announced the launch of its ‘Merchant Stack’, a set of the country’s most comprehensive digital banking services specially curated for retail merchants.
‘Merchant Stack’ provides a bouquet of banking solutions and value-added services in ‘one single place’ for the retailer eco-system. The main pillars of the stack are 1) a new account named, ‘Super Merchant Current Account’; 2) two instant credit facilities called ‘Merchant Overdraft’ and ‘Express Credit ; both are’ based on POS transactions, and first in the industry 3) ‘Digital Store Management’ facility to help merchants take their business online; 4) exclusive loyalty rewards programme, an industry first feature; 5) value added services like alliances with major e-commerce and digital marketing platforms for expansion of online presence.
Commenting on the launch, Mr. Anup Bagchi, ICICI Bank said, “We always believe that the self-employed and the MSME segment forms the backbone of the Indian economy. A large part of this segment consists of retail merchants. There are over 2 crore merchants in the country with approximately USD 780 billion in value of transactions in 2020. They are expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. Through these trying times of the pandemic, it is our endeavour to enable the merchants with a digital banking platform that will help them to continue to serve their customers. We have thus launched the ‘Merchant Stack’, which most importantly offers a range of ‘contactless’ banking services, providing safety to the merchants and their customers alike. This new offering is part of our guiding principle of ‘Business with Care’. It is also a continuation of ‘ICICI Stack’ which we launched a year ago to offer retail customers all digital banking services from one platform.
We believe that the ‘Merchant Stack’ offers the most holistic array of banking and value-added banking services for the retail merchant ecosystem. Our research shows that this segment requires digital and instant account opening, multiple digital collection options in one place and quick working capital availability, among others. Armed with these insights, we have created a full stack that brings in a host of digital services specially curated for merchants. Further, all of the solutions are available on our mobile application, InstaBiz. We have also leveraged advanced analytics to use various parameters of POS transactions to offer instant overdraft and settlement of the swipes. We believe that this ‘all-in-one’ and comprehensive ‘Merchant Stack’ will provide easy digital banking to retailers, free up their bandwidth from paper-intensive procedures and thus boost their business growth by improving overall productivity and efficiency.”
The main pillars of the ‘Merchant Stack’ are given below:
• Super Merchant Current Account: It is a zero-balance account linked to usage of the Bank’s POS (Point-of-Sale) facilities. The merchants can continue to get the advantage of the zero balance account for a lifetime, till they use these facilities. Any merchant, even if not a customer of ICICI Bank, can digitally open the account. The Super Merchant Current Account is available in two variants —Super Advantage and Super Advantage Plus — to suit the requirements of merchants as per the size of operations. Additionally, the current account offers retailers the convenience of transacting with their customers using multiple digital modes of payment including cards, UPI and payment gateway. Similarly, merchants also get various options for making digital payments for their businesses. They also get the benefit of instant reconciliation by using the Bank’s ‘Connected Banking’ platform, that integrates banking and their accounting system, saving them both time and effort.
• Instant Credit Facilities: The ‘Merchant Stack’ offers two instant credit facilities, based on POS transactions — both being industry first initiatives. The first one, called ‘Merchant Overdraft’ empowers pre-qualified merchants with a linked ICICI Bank POS machine to get upto Rs 25 lakh digitally, instantaneously and in a completely online and paperless manner. The facility leverages advanced data analytics at the Bank to form a new scorecard with various parameters to assess the credit eligibility of merchants using their POS transactions. The new credit assessment method of the Bank is a marked improvement over the traditional industry practice of using only bank statements, financial statements and income returns to offer working capital facilities. Once the overdraft limit is set up, merchants can start using the funds instantly to meet their working capital requirements. This offers significance convenience to borrowers as they no longer need to wait for few working days to avail an OD facility.
Further, the Bank provides instant settlement of POS transactions with ‘Express Credit’. It offers enhanced convenience as merchants can instantly access the funds, in contrast to the industry practice of waiting for a few working days to get credit for sales on POS machines. To bring forth this facility, the Bank has undertaken two-fold initiative: One, it has leveraged technology to decongest the settlement process with network partner for movement of funds. Two, it has used advanced analytics to create an API, receive real-time information on transactions, check the profile of customer and credit the account—all within few minutes. The money is transferred immediately to the merchant’s linked ICICI Bank current account, 24×7, on all days including weekends and bank holidays.
Both the facilities aim to offer timely credit to merchants, including those who are new-to-credit.
• Digital Store Management: For merchants wanting to expand their business in the online world, the ‘Digital Store Management’ platform is available. It offers a one-stop-solution, which enables merchants to transform their ‘physical store’ into a ‘digital store’ within half-an-hour. It also helps them to manage invoicing, inventory and collections.
• Loyalty Programme: The ‘Mechant Stack’ offers a loyalty rewards programme for merchants, another industry first feature. With this, merchants using the Bank’s Eazypay facility to accept instant cashless payments from customers through POS/QR solution, get points for transactions which can be redeemed for shopping, vouchers, vacations among others.
The value-added services offered in the ‘Merchant Stack’ are:
• Access to the new ‘One View’ ‘Merchant’ version on ‘InstaBIZ’ app: This comprehensive mobile app enables businesses to complete almost all their banking transactions digitally, without visiting a branch of the Bank. The ‘Merchant View’ offers all the features of the ‘Merchant Stack’ in addition to the other industry first features namely instant payment of GST, easy bulk collection and payments of funds through multiple modes, automatic bank reconciliation and inward/outward remittances among others. It also enables merchants to grow their customer base by creating marketing campaigns for customers of ICICI Bank.
• Alliances services with major platforms: The Bank has tied up with a wide-range of companies, who are experts in concierge services like staffing and security, and online skilling courses for computers, new languages and accounting. Merchants can get services of these companies at a discount to streamline or expand their business. Further, the merchants can take the services of major e-commerce and digital marketing platforms for advertising and acquiring customers online.
• State-of-the-art internet banking platforms: Availability of Corporate Internet Banking (CIB) platform and Trade Online, a specialised digital platform for export-import transactions.
Any merchant can enjoy the benefits of the ‘Merchant Stack’ by simply downloading the InstaBIZ app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Merchants, who are not the customers of the Bank, can also avail the benefits of the stack by instantly opening a zero balance current account using the InstaBIZ app in a digital manner. ‘InstaBIZ’ can also be accessed on the Bank’s Corporate Internet Banking (CIB) platform.
Ebanx appoints João Del Valle CEO
João Del Valle, co-founder of Ebanx, is the new CEO of the company. After more than three years as COO, preceded by almost seven as CTO, he takes over the executive leadership of the fintech, which has been led by co-founder Alphonse Voigt for the past nine years, since its founding in Curitiba, Brazil.
With the change, Voigt will now be the head of the Board of Directors, as Executive Chairman, and Wagner Ruiz, also a co-founder, becomes Chief Risk Officer, leaving the CFO position to the newly hired Alexandre Dinkelmann, former executive in the Brazilian BTG Pactual and TOTVS.
As Chief Operations Officer (COO), Del Valle led important projects for the fintech’s expansion, such as the ensemble of the global commercial team, the launch of 50 new integrations and payment methods within the company’s B2B solutions portfolio only in 2020, and the Push LatAm, an initiative that is taking EBANX operations to new Latin American countries, including in Central America and the Caribbean. “EBANX has a unique story and it will be a privilege to lead this next chapter. Our vision of being the best payment provider in Latin America is growing stronger, and always fueling the urge to innovate. The path we want for EBANX is very clear for the three of us, co-founders: focus on the mission of providing access in Latin America, through technology, speed, consistency and quality of execution,” said Del Valle.
Voigt has been EBANX’s CEO since the creation of the company which, during his tenure, exceeded the market value of USD 1 billion, becoming the first unicorn in the southern region of Brazil. Now, as Executive Chairman, he will lead the company’s strategic expansion. “The big dream got even bigger and from now on I take on this new position, helping to envision the next decade of EBANX. And João, our new CEO, is an example of dedication, focus and result orientation. He has a unique capacity to keep the company growing exponentially while projecting our future,” said Voigt.
Alexandre Dinkelmann, who takes on the position of Chief Financial Officer, will continue the work of Wagner Ruiz, who will now be focused on the company’s risk management, strategic partnerships and regulatory operation, essential pillars in the growth of EBANX. “Alexandre’s arrival brings us even more robustness, capacity and talent to maintain the pace of growth and adapt our financial sector to the new moment that EBANX will experience,” said Ruiz. Dickelmann brings in his experience as CFO at TOTVS and Even Incorporadora, as well as a stint at BTG Pactual and his role as a co-founder of the Onyo platform.
The new EBANX leadership has the mission of consolidating the company as the payments leader in Latin America, and to continue to expand the operations that have already given access to more than 70 million Latin American consumers to some of the largest global brands, such as Uber, Spotify, AliExpress and SHEIN. “These changes arrive in line with our goals for the next decade. Our success depends on the success of customers in the region and this is our focus. We remain even stronger and more structured to establish the leadership of Latin America in the global market and the leadership of EBANX in the world of payments and technology,” concluded Del Valle.
Tipalti expands ERP integrations
Tipalti, the leading global payables automation platform, has announced that it can now integrate with any Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
Notable ERP integrations include Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, QuickBooks Desktop, Xero, Sage 50, Sage 100, Sage X3, Sage 300, SAP Business One, SAP Business ByDesign and Acumatica, opening up scalable, global and modern AP automation capabilities to a much larger number of high-velocity businesses.
Tipalti offers a highly configurable integration that automatically syncs invoices and invoice payment data between a company’s ERP system and the Tipalti platform, with minimal IT effort. Tipalti’s world-class integration capabilities, advanced technology, and intuitive interface smartly and efficiently manage the lifecycle of vendor bills and payments.
“Integrating Tipalti’s AP solution with ERP systems let’s organizations achieve better automation by validating invoices against supplier information, ensuring that general ledger coding, including department, class and location syncs with the ERP system for faster payment reconciliation and financial close,” said Kevin Permenter, Research Manager, Enterprise Applications at IDC.
“This new ERP integration capability from Tipalti exposes their modern AP automation capabilities to a much larger segment of fast-growing mid-market businesses.”
“An ERP system is one of a company’s most valuable business investments and payables departments need to have an integrated philosophy that encompasses the entire end-to-end process,” said Roby Baruch, Chief Product Officer at Tipalti. “We’re excited to be open for integration with any ERP system, making scalable, modern payables capabilities accessible to every company.”
Tipalti previously had offered ERP integrations with Oracle NetSuite, QuickBooks Online, and Sage Intacct.
Former LSE chief Rolet preps fintech Spac – Bloomberg
Former London Stock Exchange CEO Xavier Rolet is planning to get in on the fintech Spac frenzy by launching his own $300 million blank cheque company, according to Bloomberg.
The US-listed special purpose acquisition company that would target investments in fintech and quantum computing firms could be unveiled within days, say Bloomberg, citing sources.
In recent months, Spac deals have become the go-to method for fintech players in America looking to go public, with MoneyLion, eToro, Payoneer and SoFi among those to have gone down the route. In the first three months of 2021 alone, 143 Spacs raised c$43bn in the US, according to data from Refinitiv.
In February, Rolet – who left the LSE in 2017 – signalled his support for the still-controversial strategy, calling on his former employer to get in on the boom in a paper urging the UK to revisit its Spac rules.
“The UK needs to promptly consider the Spac revolution,” wrote Rolet. “Whilst there are significant differences between our markets and those in the US, the appetite for permanent listed capital on the part of ambitious UK and European entrepreneurs and innovators is no less than that of their American counterparts: ask the management teams at Spotify or Markit.
“Spacs represent a financial instrument that should not be overlooked and where agility could realise considerable benefits to credible British and European entrepreneurs and dealmakers.”
The former LSE chief is also already on the board of another blank-check company, Golden Falcon Acquisition Corp, led by ex-Barclays banker Makram Azar, which raised $345 million in December, says Bloomberg.
BNPL Fintech Clearpay Research Reveals UK Millennials, Gen Z More Financial Savvy than Older Consumers
Research from Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) service provider, Clearpay, reveals that Gen Z and Millennials may have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 crisis, however, they’re the most financially savvy generation in the United Kingdom. Around 68% of Gen Z and 61% of Millennials are now budgeting and saving in a more responsible manner when compared to the older generations (the research study found).
The Accenture report noted that in addition to filling up their piggybanks, younger consumers are generally more careful with debt. Although as many Millennials carry credit cards as Gen X did at around the same age, their outstanding balances are a significant 10% lower, on average. These findings have been released after research from The Bank of England which shows that consumer credit growth declined by nearly 10% annually – the largest drop since records were kept back in 1994.
When it comes to investing in their plans for the foreseeable future, younger consumers tend to be the leaders in using the latest remote banking and investment apps, with almost 3x as many young investors (59%) using online or all-digital apps to invest their funds, when compared to older people (19%). Millennials and Gen Z are more than 80% likely to engage with contactless payment options, more than 30% likely to perform transactions with mobile payment apps and more than 50% likely to use BNPL services.
Damian Kassabgi, EVP for Public Policy at Clearpay, stated:
“There are often misperceptions that young people are bad at saving and investing their money. However our research has shown that they are actually more cautious than many of their older counterparts and more committed to responsible spending. The pandemic has prompted a surge in customers looking to spread out the costs of products without being subjected to extortionate interest rates and payment terms. Young people have seen the value of flexible payments and therefore it’s not surprising they are leading the charge in the payments revolution and becoming more spending savvy as a result.”
As the United Kingdom tries to recover from COVID-related, nationwide lockdowns, it appears that Gen Z have been impacted the most due to the pandemic, with around 11% becoming unemployed during these difficult times vs. only 4% of Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers losing their jobs.
Since last year, when the Coronavirus began to spread globally, Gen Z have been furloughed at twice the rate of older workers – as social distancing requirements and lockdown measures proved more likely to impact employment across the hospitality and retail trade sectors.
Wealth has also declined by 10% over the past 10 years for younger consumers, meanwhile, for age groups above 55, wealth has actually increased by around 30%. The drop has been attributed to property ownership declining by about 23% and student debt increasing 4x during the last decade.
These findings suggest that owning a home is now a lot more difficult for younger UK residents, as housing expenses have surged 6x as fast as people’s earnings. During the past 2 decades, the prices of homes in the country have increased around 3x while median income has actually increased by 30%. That’s why 44% fewer Millennials now own a home when compared to Baby Boomers at the same age. Gen Z are around 50% more likely to rent a home compared to the Gen X age group.
Damian Kassabgi remarked:
“During the pandemic, we have seen an 134% increase in customers opting to use our service, with 95% of customers choosing to pay via their debit instead of credit options. Over the last 12 months we have seen a definite shift towards more flexible payment options that help customers to budget and save towards their future.”
Unlike other BNPL firms, Clearpay claims it supports responsible spending habits and its inbuilt protections are designed to ensure consumers don’t get into the revolving debt trap. Clearpay confirms that it doesn’t charge any interest, with late fees being capped and they automatically “pause an account if a single payment is late.”
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