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Singapore and Thailand Announces World’s First Linkage of Real Time Retail Payment Systems

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) launched the linkage of Singapore’s PayNow and Thailand’s PromptPay real time retail payment systems. MAS said that it is the first of its kind globally.

The linkage is the culmination of several years of extensive collaboration between MAS and BOT, both countries’ payment system operators, bankers’ associations, and participating banks.

Customers of participating banks in Singapore and Thailand will be able to transfer funds of up to S$ 1,000 or THB 25,000 daily across the two countries, using just a mobile number.

There will be no need for details such as the recipient’s full name and bank account details, as with normal remittance solutions.

The funds will flow seamlessly and securely between customers’ accounts in Singapore and Thailand.

The experience will be similar to how domestic PayNow and PromptPay transfers are made today, in which senders can use their mobile banking or payment applications to initiate fund transfers instantly and securely, at any time of the day.

The transfers will be completed within a matter of minutes, representing a marked improvement over the average of 1-2 working days needed by most cross-border remittance solutions.

The participating banks have committed to benchmark their fees against the market. The fees will be affordably priced and transparently displayed to senders prior to confirming their transfers.

Senders will also be able to view the applicable foreign exchange charges prior to sending their funds, with these rates benchmarked closely to prevailing market rates.

The PayNow-PromptPay linkage is a key collaboration under ASEAN Payment Connectivity that was initiated in 2019, and closely aligns with efforts by the G20, Financial Stability Board, and other international standard-setting bodies to facilitate faster, cheaper, more inclusive and more transparent cross-border payment arrangements.

MAS and BOT will progressively scale the PayNow-PromptPay linkage to include more participants and extend the transfer limits to facilitate business transactions.

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS

Ravi Menon

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS, said,

“The PayNow-PromptPay linkage is only the beginning. MAS’ shared objective with BOT is to work with our ASEAN counterparts to expand this bilateral linkage into a network of linked retail payment systems across ASEAN.

With the rise of the digital economy, we want to empower individuals and businesses in the region with simple, swift and secure cross-border payments through just a few clicks on their mobile phones.”

Dr Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, Governor of BOT

Dr Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput

Dr Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, Governor of BOT, said,

“With the success of PromptPay, our domestic payment system, we have sought to enhance cross-border linkages with ASEAN and other countries and have launched our QR cross-border payment connectivity with Japan, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Today’s PayNow-PromptPay linkage represents another key milestone in our digital payments journey.”

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Source: https://fintechnews.sg/50682/thailand/singapore-and-thailand-announces-worlds-first-linkage-of-real-time-retail-payment-systems/

Fintech

American Google Pay Users Can Now Transfer Money to Singapore Thanks to Wise

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London-based fintech unicorn Wise has announced an integration to bring its platform to Google Pay users allowing the send money abroad within the app from today onwards.

The initial launch will enable Google Pay users in the U.S. to send money to Google Pay users in India and Singapore.

By the end of the year, U.S. Google Pay users will be able to send money to 80 countries through Wise.

For new customers, Wise will make the first transfer free on transfers up to US$ 500 until June 16.

The platform allows banks, businesses and software companies to tap into the Wise network, giving them and their customers access to cheaper, faster international payments, through an integrated customer experience.

The Wise Platform is now used by banks and businesses in over 10 markets.

Harsh Sinha, Chief Technology Officer at Wise

Harsh Sinha

“Providing people with a simple and seamless way to safely send money to friends and family is more important than ever – be it for everyday use or in times of need.

Wise’s mission is money without borders – instant, convenient, transparent, and eventually, free. Through this collaboration, and with the integration of the Wise Platform, Google Pay customers can now send money internationally cheaper, faster, and easier.”

said Harsh Sinha, Chief Technology Officer at Wise.

Josh Woodward, Director of Product Management, Google Pay

Josh Woodward

“Cross-border payments are not just a lifeline for loved ones, they form the financial backbone for many economies.

For many people with families abroad, sending money home is something they do as frequently as every month. By teaming up with Wise, we are providing a way for Google Pay users to send money quickly, safely and reliably from the Google Pay app.”

said Josh Woodward, Director of Product Management, Google Pay.

Featured image: Photo by Matthew Kwong on Unsplash 

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Source: https://fintechnews.sg/51033/remittance/american-google-pay-users-can-now-transfer-money-to-singapore-thanks-to-wise/

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Fintech and retail banking firms urged to get involved in Water Breakthrough Challenge

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Fintech and retail banking firms urged to get involved in Water Breakthrough Challenge

·        The £40 million Water Breakthrough Challenge aims to spark ambitious innovation and enable new approaches and ways of working to address the big challenges facing the water sector. 

·        Entries are now open until Thursday 3 June 2021 with successful partnerships winning up to £10 million to develop and implement their initiatives.   

·        The Breakthrough Challenge is run by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges, supported by Arup, and is the second in a series of competitions funded through Ofwat’s Innovation Fund.  

·        The winners of Ofwat’s first competition – the Innovation in Water Challenge – include projects that turn ammonia in wastewater into green energy and use artificial intelligence (AI) and unexploited telecoms cables to detect leaks in the water network. 

A £40 million innovation competition – the Water Breakthrough Challenge – launches today (Thursday 6 May) to spark ambitious innovation and new ways of working in the water sector – and companies in the fintech and retail banking space are being urged to get involved.   

The Water Breakthrough Challenge aims to equip the water sector to address the big challenges facing the sector, driving far-reaching and long-lasting benefits to customers, society and the environment across England and Wales now and into the future.  It encourages collaborative entries from other sectors and worldwide partners, and aims to fund initiatives which water companies would otherwise have been unable to invest in or explore. 

Entries must demonstrate how solutions help the water sector deliver for customers, society and the environment, such as by achieving net zero, protecting natural ecosystems and reducing the impact of extreme weather, or using open data to improve customer service. 

The winners of Ofwat’s first innovation competition – the £2m Innovation in Water Challenge – were revealed last month and include green initiatives such as planting and restoring seagrass meadows on the Essex and Suffolk coastlines, a scheme to turn ammonia in wastewater into green hydrogen gas, and software that can monitor the degradation of wildlife habitats.

 Other ideas focus on the prevention of leaks in the water network through the use of AI, CCTV, and unexploited optical fiber strands in telecoms networks, as well as using behavioral science to better support vulnerable customers.  

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat, said: “Our innovation competitions are now in full swing and we are beginning to see a wave of innovation across the sector. Within the Breakthrough Challenge we are looking forward to seeing continued collaboration outside of the sector from a wide range of industries, and even more cutting-edge projects that tackle the greatest challenges facing our sector, and society as a whole.” 

The Water Breakthrough Challenge is funded through Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund, as part of the regulator’s goal to drive innovation and collaboration in the water sector, supporting it to meet the needs of customers, society and the environment in the years to come. It is being delivered by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges, supported by Arup. 

Arlene Goode, Associate from Arup added: “This is a great opportunity for water companies and project partners. We’re excited to see the transformative projects which can move the water sector towards meeting its long-term ambitions”.  

Entries must be submitted by water companies in England and Wales, but they can enter in partnership with organizations outside the water sector – including in the fintech and retail banking space.

Chris Gorst, Director of Challenges at Nesta Challenges, commented: “The winning innovations from the first Innovation in Water Challenge show that the sector is ready to address the major challenges facing the industry, and society. A new approach is needed, including new ways of working and greater collaboration, but we have already seen the sector can rise to the challenge and deliver ground-breaking initiatives that change the status quo. We are very excited to see the trailblazing projects that the water companies, and their partners, put forward for the latest competition.” 

After a first assessment period following entries received by 3 June, selected entrants will be invited to submit more details from 28 June, with the winners announced in September. Winning entries will receive between £1 million and £10 million to support their initiatives.  

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Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/fintech-and-retail-banking-firms-urged-to-get-involved-in-water-breakthrough-challenge/

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Fintech and retail banking firms urged to get involved in Water Breakthrough Challenge

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Fintech and retail banking firms urged to get involved in Water Breakthrough Challenge

·        The £40 million Water Breakthrough Challenge aims to spark ambitious innovation and enable new approaches and ways of working to address the big challenges facing the water sector. 

·        Entries are now open until Thursday 3 June 2021 with successful partnerships winning up to £10 million to develop and implement their initiatives.   

·        The Breakthrough Challenge is run by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges, supported by Arup, and is the second in a series of competitions funded through Ofwat’s Innovation Fund.  

·        The winners of Ofwat’s first competition – the Innovation in Water Challenge – include projects that turn ammonia in wastewater into green energy and use artificial intelligence (AI) and unexploited telecoms cables to detect leaks in the water network. 

A £40 million innovation competition – the Water Breakthrough Challenge – launches today (Thursday 6 May) to spark ambitious innovation and new ways of working in the water sector – and companies in the fintech and retail banking space are being urged to get involved.   

The Water Breakthrough Challenge aims to equip the water sector to address the big challenges facing the sector, driving far-reaching and long-lasting benefits to customers, society and the environment across England and Wales now and into the future.  It encourages collaborative entries from other sectors and worldwide partners, and aims to fund initiatives which water companies would otherwise have been unable to invest in or explore. 

Entries must demonstrate how solutions help the water sector deliver for customers, society and the environment, such as by achieving net zero, protecting natural ecosystems and reducing the impact of extreme weather, or using open data to improve customer service. 

The winners of Ofwat’s first innovation competition – the £2m Innovation in Water Challenge – were revealed last month and include green initiatives such as planting and restoring seagrass meadows on the Essex and Suffolk coastlines, a scheme to turn ammonia in wastewater into green hydrogen gas, and software that can monitor the degradation of wildlife habitats.

 Other ideas focus on the prevention of leaks in the water network through the use of AI, CCTV, and unexploited optical fiber strands in telecoms networks, as well as using behavioral science to better support vulnerable customers.  

John Russell, Senior Director at Ofwat, said: “Our innovation competitions are now in full swing and we are beginning to see a wave of innovation across the sector. Within the Breakthrough Challenge we are looking forward to seeing continued collaboration outside of the sector from a wide range of industries, and even more cutting-edge projects that tackle the greatest challenges facing our sector, and society as a whole.” 

The Water Breakthrough Challenge is funded through Ofwat’s £200 million Innovation Fund, as part of the regulator’s goal to drive innovation and collaboration in the water sector, supporting it to meet the needs of customers, society and the environment in the years to come. It is being delivered by Ofwat and Nesta Challenges, supported by Arup. 

Arlene Goode, Associate from Arup added: “This is a great opportunity for water companies and project partners. We’re excited to see the transformative projects which can move the water sector towards meeting its long-term ambitions”.  

Entries must be submitted by water companies in England and Wales, but they can enter in partnership with organizations outside the water sector – including in the fintech and retail banking space.

Chris Gorst, Director of Challenges at Nesta Challenges, commented: “The winning innovations from the first Innovation in Water Challenge show that the sector is ready to address the major challenges facing the industry, and society. A new approach is needed, including new ways of working and greater collaboration, but we have already seen the sector can rise to the challenge and deliver ground-breaking initiatives that change the status quo. We are very excited to see the trailblazing projects that the water companies, and their partners, put forward for the latest competition.” 

After a first assessment period following entries received by 3 June, selected entrants will be invited to submit more details from 28 June, with the winners announced in September. Winning entries will receive between £1 million and £10 million to support their initiatives.  

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Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/fintech-and-retail-banking-firms-urged-to-get-involved-in-water-breakthrough-challenge/

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The four biggest challenges facing the payments industry right now

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We all know that 2020 was an unusual and challenging year for everyone and as much as we would have all wished that things could have gone back to normal the second the clock struck midnight on the 31 December, that has unfortunately not been the case. Most industries and businesses continue to face a number of challenges, some carried over from last year and others new to 2021. The payments industry is no exception to this. In difficult times it is even more important to understand our key challenges, so we are able to manage and overcome them.

To support that end, from my own experiences through 2020 and in 2021 so far, I have outlined the four biggest challenges I see for the payments industry and my thoughts on how to approach them.

Uncertainty

The biggest challenge facing payment providers this year is the continuing and over-riding state of uncertainty in the short term, but also for the medium to longer term. This isn’t limited to fintech and payments either, the past 12 months have been difficult for businesses in most sectors. This especially causes a problem for businesses as to how they manage the immediate and short-term challenges they are facing, while at the same time retaining focus on their medium- and longer-term planning and strategy.

Making decisions that protect the business in the short term and to adapt to the current situation can often be at odds with longer term goals. Increased uncertainty around for example, changes in customer behaviour and preferences, rules and regulations, and the economic outlook, adds a further layer of complexity for payments businesses in making strategic decisions.

Moreover, it would seem the current state of uncertainty may persist for some time. This combined with us being to a greater extent in ‘unchartered waters’ makes it even harder to forecast the future. With the struggles that COVID-19 has brought upon us, customer shopping behaviour has been forced to change and organisations have had to work hard to keep up with changing demands and requirements.

This has led to many businesses having to completely rethink their plans for the year and change much of their existing business model, which in turn has a knock-on effect to their business partners such as payment providers. Uncertainty as to whether the shift in customer preferences reflects a permanent change, or whether they will revert back to ‘normal’, once the pandemic is over, adds further difficulty in maintaining a balance between pursuing short-term initiatives and long-term initiatives – and deciding which of those to pursue. The past is not a reliable indicator of the future is probably now an even truer statement than ever. 

Uncertainty does however bring opportunity, and it is often challenges and uncertainty which drive forward leaps in innovation too. Businesses need to remain proactive in these times by staying up to date with industry developments, emerging customer trends and having a close eye on any new opportunities that may arise.

A business that manages to remain focused on its medium- and longer-term goals as well as its short-term challenges and which can remain nimble and flexible in its responses to the current uncertainty, has the best chances to be able to spot and take advantage of opportunities quickly. To do this, businesses need to keep their operations constantly under review and make changes decisively to adapt to the current climate as they push forward with their plans and development.

Regulation

Regulations are also likely to see a further overhaul in 2021. Following on from the ongoing legacy of the Wirecard scandal, regulators worldwide will certainly want to avoid any similar high profile and catastrophic collapses happening within the payments industry again. As a result, regulators are likely to introduce tougher and stricter regulations to keep customer funds safe and to protect the wider financial system.

Most of us would recognise that regulations are a good and necessary thing for the industry but changes in regulation can often present a challenge from a business perspective. This challenge can present itself through assessing the new requirements, through to deploying them and the potential additional time and resources required to ensuring ongoing compliance is achieved and maintained.

Key to successfully ensuring compliance with current regulatory requirements and making changes to meet changes in regulation, is to ensure the requirements are fully understood by the business. Where there is any doubt, it is always worthwhile seeking external advice which can help the business make the required changes and ensure compliance more quickly and can often be more cost effective in the long run.

It is also worthwhile receiving the regular update bulletins from regulators, which can help the business anticipate when new regulations will be announced and can help in understanding the updated requirements and what is required for the business to remain compliant.

Overall, there is a need for business to maintain investment in its compliance function to ensure this is fit-for-purpose and is effective in ensuring ongoing compliance with all current and emerging regulatory requirements. 

Fraud

Fraud remains a key challenge facing the payment industry, as well as an issue which can have a significant impact on both businesses more broadly and end consumers. Financial crime has seen an increasing trend in recent years and is one that is constantly evolving as criminals continue to get more sophisticated and more inventive with their approaches. In parallel new fraud prevention and detection methods and techniques have been developed and deployed. But this is a constantly changing game, with criminals adopting new strategies and the payment industry and other financial institutions deploying increasingly sophisticated techniques to stop them.

COVID-19 has created some degree of additional risk of fraud, thanks to an increase in online shopping including shoppers who have never previously shopped online in the past and are perhaps less familiar will some of the more obvious signs to be wary of. Criminals are all too aware of this and are happy to use this situation to their advantage.

Unfortunately, there is currently no way to full eradicate the risk of fraud. Payment providers continue to develop more sophisticated fraud prevention and detection tools to reduce the incidence. AI and other automated tools offer increasing levels of fraud detection – but at the same time criminals are also using new and more sophisticated techniques to try to avoid detection.

The best way to win in the battle against cybercrime and fraud is to ensure that all businesses have robust and effective controls in place, whether these are around access to data, protection of physical assets such as laptops, or measures to prevent unauthorised access to the business’s IT network and system. This is particularly important for any business that holds customer personal data or payment card information, where the business must ensure this data is fully protected to remain compliant with regulations and to avoid the risk of a costly and reputationally damaging breach.

Brexit

The fourth challenge for the payments industry, and for services industries more broadly, has been Brexit. This has been a cause of uncertainty since the outcome of the vote in 2016, not just for businesses operating in, or trading with, the UK but for the country in general. A big fear for many working in the financial services industry was a no deal Brexit along with a loss of access to the European Economic Area (EEA) “passport” for financial institutions based and regulated in the UK.

While the agreement of a trade deal is in my view a better outcome than a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it is disappointing that this did not extend to providing any real certainty for the financial services industry, other than a loss of ‘passporting rights’ and only a verbal agreement at the time the deal was announced that the EU and UK government would continue discussions in 2021 around some form of ‘Equivalence’.

The current situation therefore creates ongoing additional complexity, cost and operational effort for many financial services firms – in addition to the huge industry cost and effort of preparing for the risk of a loss of passporting rights over the past 4 years. While the UK has extended ongoing rights to EU-based firms to operate in the UK, these rights have not so far been extended by the EU to UK-based firms.

Financial services companies along with industry bodies continue to lobby for UK firms who are FCA regulated to be able to operate EEA markets, as they did previously. Currently though, it is unclear if, or when, the EU might extend these additional rights to UK-based firms. In the meantime, UK-regulated businesses have had to adopt alternative ways to work with their European partners and customers.

Clearly there is a hope that there would be movement going forward to allow UK-based and regulated firms to operate in the EU, and we are beginning to see steps towards this with the technology visa that was mentioned in the UK spring budget, but this will most definitely be a situation where we will need to wait and see.

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Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/the-four-biggest-challenges-facing-the-payments-industry-right-now/

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