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Salv, the anti-money laundering startup founded by ex-TransferWise employees, picks up $2M seed

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Salv, an anti-money laundering (AML) startup founded by former TransferWise and Skype employees, has raised $2 million in seed funding.

The round is led by Fly Ventures, alongside Passion Capital and Seedcamp. Angel investors also participating include N26 founder Maximilian Tayenthal (who seems to be doing quite a bit of angel investing), former Twilio CTO Ott Kaukver, and Taavi Kotka, former CIO for Estonia (the actual country!).

Founded in June 2018 and initially offering consultancy, Estonia-based Salv has built a software platform that helps banks find and stop financial crime. The idea, says co-founder and CEO Taavi Tamkivi, is to move AML beyond just compliance to something more proactive that actually does defeat crime. That’s quite the promise, although he and his co-founders have a lot experience to draw from, both within fast-growing startups and AML.

Tamkivi built the AML, fraud, and Know Your Customer (KYC) teams at TransferWise and Skype. COO Jeff McClelland also worked in the anti-fraud team at Skype, followed by a stint at TransferWise, first as an analyst and then in HR. And CTO Sergei Rumjantsev was also formerly at TransferWise, leading the engineering team responsible for KYC and verification.

“This was a highly demanding role, especially given how fast TransferWise was growing, how many new markets were coming online, and how central user verification is for compliance,” Tamkivi tells me. “Under Sergei’s leadership, the team made the verification process incredibly smooth over time for genuine customers. But also robust enough to protect TransferWise from on-boarding bad actors”.

Bad actors within financial services are aplenty, of course. Yet, despite the European banking sector spending billions tackling the problem, it is estimated that only 1-2% of global money-laundering is detected.

“AML should be all about stopping money laundering but, particularly in the last decade, layer upon layer of regulations have been added for banks to comply with,” says Tamkivi. “This would be great if that meant that there was no more money laundering, but sadly, that’s a long way off. Today, between $1-2 trillion a year is still laundered. But the excessive regulations mean that nearly all of a bank’s compliance team’s effort goes into compliance. They have very little energy left to actually focus on improving their financial crime-fighting abilities. The software they’re using is similar, focused almost wholly on compliance, not crime-fighting”.

That is where Salv wants to step in, and Tamkivi says the main difference between the startup’s AML software and other existing solutions is a much greater emphasis on crime-fighting rather than a box-ticking compliance exercise.

“We’re aiming to create a transformation similar to what’s happened in virus scanning,” he says. “10-15 years ago virus scanners on everyone’s PCs were an enormous hassle, consumed tons of resources and stopped you from getting work done. The same is true in financial institutions today. They’re using outdated, heavy software and processes to handle AML. But today, virus scanning still happens, but nobody’s worried about it. It happens in the background, with few resources. We’ll do the same in the AML world”.

In addition, the Salv CEO claims that the company’s software is faster than competitors’ offerings, both in terms of set up time and integration, and making changes to the rules the system adheres to.

“Our system, by contrast, takes a month or less to set up and minutes to modify the rules,” he says. “As a result, our customers can take everything they learn today from new criminal patterns, encode it in automated rules tomorrow, and repeat that cycle every day to protect their bank. Moving fast is the only way to keep up with the innovative organised criminals moving millions or billions around the world”.

To that end, Salv already counts Estonian bank LHV as its first customer. “They offer a full suite of banking products across Estonia,” says Tamkivi. “They’re also active in London, in particular, supporting fintechs. We have another couple of customers in the Lithuanian fintech scene. One of those is DeVere e-Money”.

More generally, Salv’s product is said to be suitable for Tier 2 and Tier 3 banks, as well as regulated fintechs and challenger banks.

Meanwhile, the business model is straightforward enough. Salv charges a monthly subscription, while the price varies based on the number of active customers a bank or fintech has.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/03/salv/

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Spanish Financial Giant BBVA’s US Division Recognized as one of the Best Corporate Digital Banks in North America

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The US division of the BBVA (NYSE:BBVA), a Spanish multinational financial services company based in Madrid and Bilbao, Spain with nearly €700 billion in assets, was recently recognized as one of the world’s best corporate and institutional digital banks in North America by Global Finance.

As confirmed by the bank’s management, the BBVA was named the winner in the subcategories of “Best Mobile Adaptive Site” and “Best Mobile Banking App.” A blog posted by the BBVA states that the bank has “been honored by Global Finance twice prior, named as the Top Treasury and Cash Management Provider in the Southwest for 2019 and 2020.”

Gabriel Palafox, BBVA’s USA Director of Multichannel Development, said that they’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 crisis that their customers depend on their all-digital platforms to manage their finances. Palafox added that useful features like the BBVA Real Time Positive Pay and Real Time ARP offer their customers the option to manage ACH and check transactions “in real time, so they can prevent fraud before it occurs.”

As explained by the BBVA team, winning banking institutions were chosen by Global Finance based “on strength of strategy for attracting and servicing digital customers, success in getting clients to use digital offerings and the growth of digital customers.” Banks were also assessed based on the range of products they offer, “evidence of tangible benefits gained from digital initiatives”, and their overall web/mobile site design and user experience.

Gabriel Paladfox, Director of Multichannel Development at BBVA Compass, stated:

“Receiving this recognition from Global Finance tells us that we’re on the right path, that the work we’ve put into these resources as part of our digital transformation effort are making a difference…. data and technology are the main points of one of the key pillars in our new 5-year strategic plan. We will continue to build on our overall strength in digital solutions to give our customers the flexibility and mobility they need in an increasingly digital business environment.”

TJ Shavers, VP, Application Manager at BBVA Compass, remarked:

“We compete with some very strong financial institutions around the world, and I’m so proud that the hard work of the entire team and our commitment to providing our customers with the best digital experience has been recognized like this.”

As covered recently, the BBVA continues to work on quantum computing data projects. It’s also collaborating with German Fintech Rubean to trial a contactless payments solution.

Javier Rodriguez Soler, the Country Manager / CEO at the BBVA USA, confirmed that in early August 2020, the BBVA USA revealed it would work with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) on a digital bank account.

The new all-digital accounts will be offered through Google Pay and are expected to be available in 2021.

Soler, a Columbia Business School MBA graduate, claims:

“Collaborations with companies like Google represent the future of banking. Consumers end up the true winners when finance and big tech work together for their benefit.”

The BBVA team had pointed out that it seems that tech and finance are beginning to realize what the bank has “seen coming for years: By collaborating rather than competing, everybody wins.” Soler had argued that there are “multiple winners in a tech and bank link up, from consumers to banks and tech.”

He explained:

“[Consumers benefit from] the increased convenience that comes with a single digital platform that allows customers to access their chosen providers with a consistent user experience.”

Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/09/166972-spanish-financial-giant-bbvas-us-division-recognized-as-one-of-the-best-corporate-digital-banks-in-north-america/

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Google Temporarily Removes Paytm Mobile App from Play Store Due to Supposedly Being in Violation For Gambling

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Mobile wallet service provider Paytm announced on Friday its Android mobile app was temporarily removed from the Google Play Store. The company reassured its uses that their account balances are 100% safe and its services are fully functional.

Paytm reported that it recently launched “Paytm Cricket League” on its consumer app for users to engage their interest in the sport while getting cashback.

The game allows users to get player stickers after each transaction, collect them and receive Paytm Cashback.”

Unfortunately, Paytm received communication from Google that the internet giant suspended the Paytm app because it believed the game was a violation of its Play Store policies in regards to gambling. This meant that the Paytm Android App was unlisted from the Google Play Store and temporarily unavailable to users for new downloads or updates.

“While it is clear that all activities on Paytm are completely lawful, we have temporarily removed the cashback component in an effort to meet the Play Store policy requirements. We continue to work with Google to restore the app. We assure all our users that their balances and linked accounts are 100% safe. Our services are fully functional on all existing apps and you can continue enjoying Paytm like before.”

Luckily, Paytm updated users a few hours later that its mobile app functions were restored.

Founded in 2010, Paytm claims to be India’s largest payments company that offers multi-source and multi-destination payment solutions. The platform offers comprehensive payment solutions to more than eight million merchants and allows consumers to make payments from any bank account to any bank account at 0% fee.

Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/09/166968-google-temporarily-removes-paytm-mobile-app-from-play-store-due-to-supposedly-being-in-violation-for-gambling/

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Digital Transformation: Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority to Migrate Online Services to Microsoft Cloud

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The Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) recently revealed that it will be migrating its online services to the Microsoft Cloud in order to move forward with its digital transformation strategy.

The move to Microsoft Cloud comes after the Middle Eastern nation’s Ministry of Transport and Communication (MoTC) teamed up with Microsoft in 2019. The migration to the new Cloud services should offer significant benefits such as improved scalability, enhanced productivity, lower costs, and better security. This should help with meeting relevant regulatory and compliance requirements.

Eisa Ahmed Abdulla, COO at QFCRA, stated that, at the QFCRA, they’re focused on following the applicable international regulatory guidelines while adhering to industry best practices. This approach should help with maintaining “a healthy financial environment that encourages economic diversification and sustainable growth, a vital pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030,” Abdulla added.

He further noted that by migrating the organization’s IT infrastructure to the Microsoft Cloud, they’ll be able to meet their digital transformation objectives, while scaling their services in a secure manner. This should ensure “the soundness and stability of Qatar’s financial landscape,” Abdulla said.

The QFCRA confirmed that it will deploy its existing and new critical business applications to Microsoft Azure. This should allow the organization to operate in a flexible manner, while building solutions at scale and ensuring security, compliance, privacy, and transparency.

Lana Khalaf, Country Manager at Microsoft Qatar, remarked:

“We are excited to partner with QFCRA to support their digital transformation journey by enabling them to migrate to the trusted, scalable and intelligent Microsoft Cloud. This will empower them to securely scale with agility, accelerate innovation, as well as optimize costs, while ensuring to meet the local policies and regulations within the financial services industry.” 

The MoTC had partnered with Microsoft in 2019 in order to work on Qatar’s digital transformation roadmap. The nation’s government had decided to use Microsoft Azure as its Cloud platform to meet its objective. Microsoft has also set up a data centre region in the country.

The Microsoft Cloud solution will go live at some point next year.

As reported recently, Mastercard partnered with Qatar Development Bank to support the ongoing development of the nation’s Fintech sector.

As covered, Qatar is supporting Fintech development with sustainable solar energy initiatives. Local firms are also using blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) to streamline operations. Qatar was recently ranked high on “ease of doing business,” as the country develops Fintech friendly policies and launches a regulatory sandbox.

Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/09/166929-digital-transformation-qatar-financial-center-regulatory-authority-to-migrate-online-services-to-microsoft-cloud/

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