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Nifty Loans selected from over 3,000 entries as Small Business Champion Finalist



Nifty Loans, the FinTech lender based in Brisbane, Australia, has been nominated in two categories in this year’s Australian Small Business Champion Awards. Nifty Loans has been chosen as a finalist in the Financial Services sector. Additionally, Andrew Bell, Director of Nifty Loans, has been nominated as a Young Small Business Champion Entrepreneur finalist.

Selected from over 3,000 entries in the Financial Services sector, Nifty Loans hopes to take home both awards in recognition of their tremendous business success. Bell is honoured and proud to be nominated for the “Oscars of Small Business”.

Bell attributes his success as a young entrepreneur and business operator to his dedicated and tight-knit team.

“Continuing to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic meant that we had to change the way we interacted with our clients, so that we could help them through such a difficult time. It didn’t come easily, but we have come out the other side stronger than ever and this nomination is a great reminder of that,” said Bell.

“Being recognised as a Young Entrepreneur is really heartwarming and a great motivation for me to continue working towards our goal: to be the best short-term lender in Australia. While I’m still learning and growing, I’m glad to know that I’m doing something right!”

The Small Business Champion Awards will be held in Sydney, Australia, at The Star Event Centre on Saturday 31 July 2021. Nifty Loans is looking forward to attending this prestigious event and is honoured to be recognised as one of the best “Financial Services” businesses in Australia.

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Hong Kong Monetary Authority Executive Director Reveals how They’re Protecting Consumers from Emerging Threats



In a keynote speech that focused on fraud and financial crime at a conference in Asia, Carmen Chu, Executive Director (Enforcement and AML), Hong Kong Monetary Authority, discussed anti-money laundering and financial crime risk issues and the ability of authorities to address these problems.

While speaking at the Fraud and Financial Crime Asia 2021 Conference, Chu noted that there are certain challenges presented by online fraud and related money laundering. Chu discussed how regulatory authorities, working closely with the industry, are currently helping to create an effective response “to deter, detect and disrupt new and emerging threats to businesses and individuals.”

She noted that the respective AML and risk management systems are able “to deliver a more effective return on the huge investment at the institutional, sectoral and national levels.” She added that the required changes include “richer data streams like digital footprints to drive the gains from analytics; technology-enabled information sharing partnerships to deliver more responsive and actionable suspicious activity reporting; and, for regulators, data-driven supervision and industry engagement.”

Chu also mentioned that the past 12 to 18 months have been “a landmark for the banking sector” in Hong Kong. The launch of eight virtual banks and collective efforts across the region’s banking sector have been key when overcoming major challenges “arising from the pandemic – banks had to make changes to meet customer demand within a very short time to launch or expand digital and online financial services.”

Chu also noted that while this is in the interests of customers and “has brought huge benefits, the global AML community, led by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), saw increased levels of online fraud and cybercrime.”

Chu also mentioned that the scale at which the online economy was developing has been “matched only by the increasingly sophisticated attempts of criminal networks to exploit it.”

She added that the scale and speed with which this has happened “are breathtaking; fraudulent websites and spam emails targeting Government-led pandemic relief efforts, for example, often surfaced within hours of the initiatives being launched.”

She continued:

“Hong Kong has not been immune to this global phenomenon. There were over 15,000 deception cases in 2020, almost doubling from about 8,000 cases in the previous year. A similar increase was noted by the HKMA in bank customer complaints related to fraud and financial crime, which rose by about 120% in the first half of 2021 when compared with the same period a year ago.”

Chu further noted:

“It’s not all bad news, however. When we coordinate effectively, when we formulate and implement strategies for the public and private sectors to work closely together and take timely actions, we can make an impact.”

The Anti-Deception Coordination Centre of the Police, which is responsible for leading the action against fraudulent activities, has managed to intercept HKD 6.3 billion “conned from victims of phone and internet scams in its first three years of operation since 2017,” Chu revealed while noting that the Centre “intercepted a staggering HKD 3 billion in a single year in 2020, and none of this success would be possible without the close cooperation of banks, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, in helping disrupt fraud and financial crime and protecting customers from losses.”

She added:

“These numbers must be a matter of concern for everyone in the global AML ecosystem and the wider economies. We all need to reflect on how effective we are being, while staying alert to new tricks and doubling our efforts to slow and reverse the tide. This is not to say that we expect to be able to pre-empt all fraud and financial crime, but that when these crimes unfortunately happen, our responses are quick and targeted.”

Chu also mentioned that the HKMA’s approach has been guided by their commitment to global  standards and related best practices in how AML and financial crime risk management systems have been implemented.

HKMA’s ‘Fintech 2025’ strategy also outlines how innovative tech can help with achieving “effective outcomes.” She further revealed that they’ve been working to realize their vision, “beginning with an AML/CFT RegTech Forum in 2019 to raise industry awareness and explore the role that technology could play in AML work.”

She added that the HKMA regularly releases different papers and reports “to share Regtech use cases including AML, and will be putting all relevant resources in [their centralized ‘Regtech Knowledge Hub.’”

She also noted:

“We must also talk about data – quality data – to drive Regtech adoption. Specifically, the availability of richer data streams, such as digital footprint data, with proper integration, can have a significant impact on system effectiveness.”

She added that other external data and information are also “becoming increasingly important in monitoring customer risk and to this end, [they] have recently shared key observations and best practices from a thematic review to assist banks in identifying and using these resources.”

Chu confirmed that they’ll further these pieces of work later in 2021 when they introduce their first interactive lab session “featuring machine learning in the area of monitoring.”

She pointed out that some of those technologies “featured prominently in the successes we have seen in identifying and disrupting mule account networks linked to COVID-19 and investment scams, which have been shared through our public-private information sharing partnership, the Fraud and Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce – or FMLIT.”

The FMLIT partnership has seen dramatic growth during the past 3 years, “bringing about clear improvements in our collective abilities to identify and disrupt financial crime,” Chu revealed.

She also shared:

“Since its launch in 2017, actions taken by banks through FMLIT have identified over 11,000 bank accounts which were previously unknown to law enforcement agencies, leading to restraint or confiscation of about HK$700 million in crime proceeds mainly from investment scams and other frauds involving financial impacts on customers and/or banks themselves.”

While addressing how effective they have been their AML and financial crime work, she revealed:

“It is essential for regulators to ask ourselves how AML/CFT supervision needs to change in the age of digital innovation. The HKMA’s approach is to build on our strong foundations as a risk-based AML supervisor, while recognizing the need to constantly learn and adapt to the digital age. We are implementing a series of changes to better leverage the latest technology in our supervisory work, while building capacity to allow us to adopt new technologies and techniques as they emerge.”

To review the full speech, check here.

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UK based PensionBee, an Online Pension Provider, Reports Doubling Assets Under Administration to £2B



UK’s PensionBee (LON: PBEE), an online pension provider, recently revealed that its assets under administration have now more than doubled during the past year.

PensionBee is reporting 117% growth in its assets under administration to nearly £2 billion in just the past 12 months ending  June 30, 2021. The company confirmed that this growth has mainly been due to its acquisition of new clients.

PensionBee’s first half 2021 results reveal that its number of invested clients increased by 81% to around 92,000 during the same time period, meanwhile, the number of registered customers surged 81% to about 538,000, Pension Sage reported.

Active clients, which are those customers who had asked to become invested users but hadn’t seen their transfer or contribution process being finalized, also grew by 78% to 155,000, meanwhile, PensionBee confirmed that that recurring revenues from existing clients have also been fairly steady.

PensionBee also shared that its annual run-rate revenue jumped by 114% to £12.3m during the financial year. The firm’s business operations have been supported by solid customer satisfaction and 95% customer retention.

The 6-month timeframe also saw PensionBee acquire £55 million in funding from an IPO in April 2021, which enabled even more innovation while leading the company to profitability by the end of 2023 (if current developments remain on track).

PensionBee added that they are expecting their company performance to be consistent with the market guidance offered during their IPO. This is being supported by regular marketing investment growth, continuous product innovation as well as additional investments in new talent and tech.

The company further revealed that it’s now expecting its growth to be driven by consistent demand for online pension consolidation along with positive contribution behavior.

Romi Savova, CEO at PensionBee, said he’s pleased to report yet another period of strong financial and operational performance following the firm’s IPO. Savova also noted that they’ve been able to achieve steady growth by prioritizing their clients and giving them more control over their financial future.

He added that they’re looking forward to the immense opportunity ahead and plan to continue  working towards their goal of making pensions simple “so everyone can look forward to a happy retirement.”

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Elon Musk discusses merits of Bitcoin, reveals Space X holds BTC



Billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk discussed Bitcoin during a live-streamed session of The ₿ Word event, saying that he supports and holds the original cryptocurrency, as does his aerospace company SpaceX.

“[Bitcoin] has an open ledger, which is quite good. But transaction volume is low, transaction cost is high and usability for the average person is not yet very good but has a lot of potential,” Musk said, while wearing a t-shirt that touted Bitcoin as the pinnacle of monetary evolution. “But on balance I support Bitcoin… I do own bitcoin and Tesla owns bitcoin, SpaceX owns bitcoin.

Musk has made mixed public statements about Bitcoin in the past, calling himself a supporterseeing Tesla purchase $1.5 billion worth of BTCrenouncing the ability for Tesla customers to make purchases in bitcoin over misguided environmental concerns, then walking those statements back somewhat. He is an outspoken supporter of the altcoin project Doge.

During the panel, Musk continued to tout alternative cryptocurrency projects like Ethereum and Doge, but also acknowledged that Bitcoin’s throughput and scalability could be improved via Layer 2 platforms like the Lightning Network. He noted that Tesla is likely to resume bitcoin payments as a higher proportion of miners utilize renewable energy sources.

“Bitcoin with a Layer 2 system could scale to do a vast number of transactions,” Musk said. “I want to do a little more diligence to confirm that the percentage of renewable energy usage [in bitcoin mining] is most likely at or above 50% and that there is a trend toward increasing that number, and if so Tesla will resume accepting bitcoin… Most likely, Tesla would resume accepting bitcoin.”

He also noted that the only significant assets he personally owns consist of stock in his companies, bitcoin, ether and doge, with bitcoin being the largest and most profitable of his cryptocurrency holdings.

“If the price of bitcoin goes down, I lose money… I might pump, but I don’t dump,” Musk said. “SpaceX, Tesla and I own bitcoin… The companies just own bitcoin and the bitcoin I own is worth much more than the Ethereum or Doge.”

Musk was joined in the session, “Bitcoin As A Tool For Economic Empowerment,” by Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, ARK Investment Management CEO Cathie Wood and Square Crypto Lead Steve Lee, who moderated it.

Dorsey, who has been more consistently favorable toward Bitcoin in his public statements and work, highlighted Bitcoin’s transformative nature as a currency that is global, permissionless and native to the internet.

“When I saw Bitcoin in 2009, you see a chance to replace the whole foundation,” Dorsey explained. “It really just opens the aperture and that is what I want to see in my lifetime, is a currency that is standard and sound for the internet that everyone can use.”

Wood, whose firm has been stockpiling bitcoin exposure this month, emphasized bitcoin’s current value propositions from an investment standpoint and the remarkable economic outlook of its development community.

“The store of value is a very big role, and means of exchange with apps built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, we think are going to become more of a reality,” Wood said, describing where her positive outlook on BTC as an investment comes from. 

“I’ve had the honor of meeting Bitcoin Core developers,” she added later. “They know economic history better than anyone I’ve ever met.”

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Payments Fintech Banking Circle Chooses European Firm SIA to Provide Instant Payments



Banking Circle, the Payments Bank for the digital economy, has chosen SIA, an established European hi-tech firm in payment services and infrastructures, controlled by CDP Equity, in order to introduce its instant payments service in Europe “connecting to the TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS) service of the Eurosystem.”

As stated in the announcement:

“Thanks to SIAnet, the ultra-fast fiber optic network infrastructure, Banking Circle enables European financial institutions and corporates to execute instant payments in less than 10 seconds with a maximum amount currently set at 100,000 euros per individual transaction, 24/7, all year long, in line with the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer scheme of the European Payments Council (EPC).”

The partnership with SIA will also enable Banking Circle clients to take advantage of the concession granted by the European Central Bank to SIA and Colt as Network Service Providers for ESMIG (Eurosystem Single Market Infrastructure Gateway).

The announcement further noted:

“Beyond TIPS, SIAnet enables all the key organizations in the European financial system to access also the platform for the settlement of large-value payments TARGET2, the securities settlement platform TARGET2-Securities (T2S), the Eurosystem Collateral Management System (ECMS), and possibly other new services and applications.”

The high-speed, secure and low-latency network infrastructure SIAnet is developed to address the requirements of instant payments “in terms of security, reliability and performance and it represents a single access channel to the main national and international payment platforms, also including EBA Clearing’s pan-European real-time payment system RT1.”

Michael Boel, Head of Local Clearing, Banking Circle, remarked:

“Banking Circle is making cross border payments faster and more cost effective for Banks and Payments businesses, in turn enhancing the service they provide to their customers. Instant Payments is a crucial part of this and we are delighted that our partnership with SIA enables us to connect to the TIPS platform via our cloud solution.”

Michael added that they believe that being the first bank to use SIA’s network and Cloud integration options “sends a clear message that [they] are committed to getting as close as possible to central banks, Automated Clearing Houses and Clearing and Settlement Mechanisms.”

He further noted that through the partnership with SIA, Banking Circle will “deliver Instant Payments at the lowest cost possible and at the highest level of stability for our clients, and their customers.”

Cristina Astore, SIA’s Northwest Europe and DACH Region Sales Director, stated:

“Thanks to the perfect integration of our network with the major public cloud providers on the market, the new digital payment service was up and running in just a few months and is now available for all current and future Banking Circle customers.”

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