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Setting our sights on Fintech and payments in 2021

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Setting our sights on Fintech and payments in 2021

By Richard Hodgson

Despite the overwhelming challenges of a global pandemic, 2020 saw an enormous amount of resilience, ingenuity and innovation in the world of fintech, payments and financial services. As we reach the final days of this most eventful of years, we’re setting our sights on 2021 and sharing our predictions of what to expect from the next 12 months.

1) The Effects of COVID-19 Will Continue to Influence Consumer Behaviour

It is now well established that COVID-19 has accelerated many pre-pandemic trends. For example, while the number of cashless payments was already rising globally (a 14% increase in non-cash payments between 2018-2019, totaling 708.5 billion transactions), lockdown restrictions to combat the coronavirus have supercharged the trend. Who could have imagined that the World Health Organization would advise against using cash for health reasons?

The impact on the digitisation of financial services has been dramatic. In the UK, six million adults (or 12% of the population) downloaded an online banking app for the first time. During the initial lockdown, 90% of face-to-face transactions made in April were contactless, and in July 2020 there were 1.5 billion debit card transactions (20.8% more than in June 2020).

In the APAC region, which was already the global leader in non-cash transactions (243.6 billion cashless transactions in 2019) due to high adoption of mobile payments and digital wallets, a Mastercard survey found that 91% of consumers in the region had transitioned to contactless payments as a result of COVID-19.

However long the pandemic lasts, these trends in consumer behaviours will persist throughout 2021. Cashless payments will continue to outpace cash, digital-only banking will see more widespread adoption, and digital wallet usage will expand. Financial services providers that can quickly and effectively react to these changes will thrive.

2)  Securing Fintech Investment Could Become More Challenging

Whilst investors pumped £1.8bn into UK fintechs in the first half of 2020, an increase of 22% over the second half of 2019, more than half of that amount was invested in just five companies–Revolut, Checkout.com, Starling Bank, Onfido and Thought Machine–with early-stage fintechs raising just 8% of total investments.

Has the ongoing economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 pushed investors towards ‘safer’ bets on more mature, later-stage fintechs? It’s hard to say for certain, but we predict that startups may find capital harder to access in 2021 as investors focus on “category winners” and become more conservative and risk averse.

Fintechs seeking investment in the next 12 months will thus need to have a differentiated proposition, a clear path to profitability, strong leadership and partnerships with credible, experienced suppliers. For businesses seeking to understand what investors are looking for in the next fintech, our Chief Product Officer, Shaun Puckrin, wrote a blog on the subject.

3) The Embedded Finance Gold Rush Will Begin in Earnest

Aside from COVID-19, “embedded finance” has been the industry topic of 2020. It encapsulates the idea that financial products in and of themselves are less important than the context in which a customer needs them. While the traditional core banking model has offered diminishing returns, brands like Amazon, Apple, Uber and others have seen success by embedding payments, loans and insurance directly into their offerings. It’s not hard to see the value of, for example, a car rental company offering car insurance during the hire process, or a house hunting app offering mortgages.

According to research by 11:FS, the embedded finance opportunity will be worth $3.6 trillion by 2030. This will be supported by the Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) ecosystem, which offers the full banking stack to any business, regardless of industry, seeking to improve customer experiences with capabilities it would have been unable to build alone. The BaaS model has now reached a level of maturity that will likely see a proliferation of brands capitalising on it in 2021. The floodgates have therefore been opened and as the number of businesses embedding finance into their offerings increases exponentially, so will the number of traditional banks offering their services to companies via the BaaS model.

Organisations looking to understand BaaS, and how it is changing the financial services game forever, can watch the 11:FS Decoding: Banking as a Service video series, sponsored by GPS.

4) The Fintech Industry Will Need to Get Serious About Financial Inclusion

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the inequalities of our society into sharp relief. It is a crisis that, according to the UN, disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable, illustrating how the inability of some groups to access financial services requires a meaningful solution.

In 2020, we’ve seen some ingenious, innovative solutions addressing financial inclusion: Starling’s Connected Card allows people to make purchases on someone else’s behalf (for example, self-isolating vulnerable relatives); Soldo Care enables governments and charities to distribute money quickly and safely while maintaining budgetary controls; and B4B Payments’ partnership with Migrant Help has provided specially designed prepaid cards to individuals without the ability to access a typical bank account.

And these innovations aren’t just limited to Europe. In Brazil’s Marica neighbourhood, a basic income distributed through the Mumbuca digital currency has provided support to people out of work as a result of the coronavirus. In the Asia Pacific region, there has been greater acceleration towards financial inclusion with the imminent issuing of digital banking licences in Singapore and Malaysia, through which we are seeing the emergence of exciting propositions like the Razer Card by Razer Fintech, which is targeting the banking needs of the underserved millennial and Generation Z segments through its Razer Youth Bank arm.

In 2021, we will likely feel the full of effects of a coronavirus-driven recession. It will fall to fintechs and the broader financial services ecosystem to build on the shining examples of financial inclusion in 2020 and ensure the least fortunate in our society do not get left behind.

Conclusion

More than anything, 2020 has shown how our industry can respond to massive upheaval with agility and innovative thinking. As we enter 2021, these qualities will be more important than ever as we seek to deliver hyper-personalised and inclusive experiences and products that customers demand in these constantly changing times

Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/setting-our-sights-on-fintech-and-payments-in-2021/

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NortonLifeLock’s AI-powered smartphone app blurs out sensitive information in photos

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Xposure identifies sensitive images, copies them to a secure vault, and either deletes the originals or replaces them with placeholders.Read More Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/02/25/nortonlifelocks-ai-powered-smartphone-app-blurs-out-sensitive-information-in-photos/

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January AI raises $8.8 million for AI that helps people manage their diabetes

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January AI


January AI, which leverages machine learning algorithms to help patients manage diabetes, has raised $8.8 million.Read More Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/02/25/january-ai-raises-8-8-million-for-ai-that-helps-people-manage-their-diabetes/

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Otter.ai raises $50 million for AI transcription

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AI transcription startup Otter.ai today announced it has raised $50 million in a series B round that includes $10 million in convertible notes and was led by Spectrum Equity. With the funds, the company plans to triple its headcount over the next year as it hires across its AI, deep learning, natural language processing, frontend and backend engineering, and leadership teams.

There’s no shortage of competition in the audio transcription market, which is estimated to be worth $31.82 billion by 2025. But Otter.ai — formerly AISense — the startup behind speech-to-text service Otter, has managed to carve out a niche for itself in the five years since its founding. The company’s revenue skyrocketed 800% in 2020 as Otter saw adoption in more than than 230 countries. And the company says it has transcribed over 100 million meetings, spanning 3 billion minutes to date.

Otter.ai was founded by CEO Sam Liang and VP of engineering Yun Fu in 2016. Liang led the Google locations team that developed the “blue dot” on the Google Maps app and launched mobile startup Alohar, which was acquired in 2013 by Alibaba.

Otter.ai’s core technology, which was developed by a team hailing from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MIT, Stanford, Duke, and Cambridge, is optimized for conversations. It can distinguish between speakers using a technique called diarization, generating a unique print for each person’s voice. Transcriptions are processed in the cloud and made available from the web, in Dropbox, or in Otter.ai’s mobile app for iOS and Android devices. There, they can be searched, copied and pasted, scrolled through, edited, and shared with a word cloud at the top of each recording that tracks most-used terms.

“Otter’s high accuracy is a result of the algorithms that enable the app to ‘learn,’” a spokesperson told VentureBeat. “These were especially focused in the early days on English speakers with a variety of accents — regional within the U.S. and also optimized to address accents like Liang’s and the billions of English speakers on the planet. Liang had always been frustrated that accents were not understood by natural language processing systems.”

Otter.ai competes with Microsoft 365, which can host live events with AI-powered features such as facial recognition of attendees and autonomous speech-to-text conversion, as well as meeting transcription tools from Cisco and startups VoiceraVerbit, Trint, Simon Says, and Scribie. But Otter.ai seeks to differentiate its service with competitive pricing. Otter Pro starts at $8.33 per month, making it only slightly pricier than the company’s business tier, which costs $20 per month. Otter.ai also offers a free plan, with 600 minutes of transcription per month and unlimited cloud storage.

AiSense Otter

Otter.ai recently brought Otter to the education market with Otter for Education, which lets instructors control access to recorded transcripts and complements student disability services and accessibility technologies. Otter.ai more recently launched Otter for Teams, a subscription solution designed to accommodate the needs of small and medium-sized businesses with account management, provisioning, reporting, and other features. This summer, Otter.ai debuted Otter for Events, a service that uses Otter’s natural language processing tech to capture event conversations and turn them into transcripts in real time.

Otter.ai offers plugins for Zoom and Google Meet that allow participants to get a live captioning of the meeting, followed by a transcript. It’s part of Otter Live Notes, Otter.ai’s offering that lets participants open a transcript directly from a videoconference or after a meeting. Otter Live Notes enables users to access some of the same real-time features available in Otter Voice Meeting Notes, which can be launched directly from a videoconferencing platform.

The growing list of organizations that have piloted or are actively using Otter includes California State University, Columbia University, and the Warwick Business School. Otter.ai claims to have millions of users and expects that the pandemic will continue to fuel growth.

“It is becoming more clear by the day that remote and hybrid working are trends that are here to stay,” Lian told VentureBeat via email. “Consequently, we need to rethink meetings in order to make them more productive for everyone participating in this new, virtual world with productivity and collaboration tools.”

Beyond Spectrum, Horizons Ventures, Draper Associates, GGV Ventures, and Draper Dragon Fund participated in Otter.ai’s latest funding round. It brings the Lost Altos, California-based company’s total raised to date to over $63 million.

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/02/25/otter-ai-raises-50-million-for-its-ai-transcription-service/

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Medisafe raises $30 million for predictive AI that reminds people to take their pills

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Medisafe, a startup developing a personalized medication management platform to help patients stay on top of their prescriptions, today announced it has raised $30 million. The company says this new investment will enable it to expand its solutions while accelerating revenue.

According to a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 20% to 30% of medication prescriptions are never filled, and approximately 50% of medications for chronic disease aren’t taken as prescribed. This lack of adherence is estimated to cause approximately 125,000 deaths and to cost the U.S. health care system between $100 billion and $289 billion per year.

In 2012, Medisafe cofounders and brothers Omri Shor and Rotem Shor faced a family health emergency. Due to a miscommunication about his medication schedule, their diabetic father accidentally took an extra dose of insulin. In an effort to address this kind of mistake and prevent it from happening in the future, the brothers created Medisafe, which helps manage prescription schedules by leveraging AI and big data.

Medisafe employs what it calls “digital drug companions” to ensure medication takers follow through with their prescriptions. After a patient enters a medication into Medisafe’s smartphone app, the app guides them through a process that entails collecting release forms and helping them through titration schedules. Powered by Medisafe’s predictive AI engine — Just-in-time-Interventions (JITI) — the app’s content changes as the patient matriculates through therapy and recovery, delivering instructions on how to administer medication, assessing eligibility for financial support programs, and ordering refills, as well as collecting information for providers via surveys.

Medisafe can email and text patients to remind them to take their medications on time. Moreover, the platform can target “rising-risk” patients with analytics and insights based on real-time behavioral assessments, boosting adherence up to 20%.

“With AI integration, users’ friends and physicians can be alerted if a user has missed doses, when specific steps have not been completed, or when a patient has some kind of challenging event throughout their journey,” a spokesperson told VentureBeat via email. “Through [Medisafe’s] platform, the company delivers average adherence rates by users of 86%, well above industry norms of 50%. Billions of successful medication doses are managed through Medisafe’s platform, preventing more than 500,000 potentially harmful drug-to-drug interactions.”

On the backend, Medisafe’s in-app Care Connector enables clinicians to remotely connect with patients, should they need additional assistance. And the company’s Maestro product provides a summary of patient census, compliance configuration settings, access to program reporting, and integrations with other vendor data.

While Medisafe directly competes with Walmart’s CareZone, Shop Apotheke’s MyTherapy, TrialCard’s Mango, and Healthprize, it claims to be among the largest medication management platforms in the world, with over 7 million registered users. Over the past eight years, through partnerships with pharma companies including Merck, the company has amassed a database of over 4 billion dosage behaviors informing JITI.

“Today’s investment allows Medisafe to expand holistic treatment support for patients to impact behavior change and ultimately outcomes. Medisafe is continuously advancing its technology to meet the dynamic needs of patients managing complex therapies,” Omri Shor said in a press release.

Sanofi Ventures and Alive Israel HealthTech Fund led Medisafe’s series C funding announced today, with participation from Leumi Partners, Menorah Mivtachim, and Consensus Business Group, as well as previous backers Pitango Ventures, 7Wire Ventures, Merck Ventures, Octopus Ventures, Lool HealthTech, Triventures, and OurCrowd. It brings Medisafe’s total raised to date to roughly $55 million. The company has headquarters in Israel and Boston, Massachusetts.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/02/25/medisafe-raises-30-million-to-promote-medication-adherence-using-ai-and-big-data/

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