FinTech Australia Spotlight: Nium

Travelex joins hands with Nium to boost digital remittances across the Asia Pacific

In this edition of Member Spotlight, we had a chance to talk to Michael Minassian of Nium and Darren Brown of Travelex, about their partnership. 

Michael Minassian – ANZ Regional Head of Consumer Business at Nium

 

Meet the companies

Nium

Nium is a financial services platform that enables companies around the world to unlock new revenue opportunities and improve cash flow economics. Nium’s platform allows banks, payment providers, travel companies, and other businesses to collect and disburse funds in local currencies to over 100 countries, plus issue physical and virtual cards globally. Today, Nium serves over 130 million customers and enables platforms to provide access to financial services to over 3 billion people across the world.

Travelex

Founded in 1976, Travelex is a specialist provider of foreign exchange. Travelex operates across the entire value chain of the retail foreign exchange industry in over 20 countries. The Group has developed a growing network of over 900 ATMs and 1,100 stores at both on-airport and off-airport locations around the world and has also built the leading online and mobile foreign exchange platform. It also processes and delivers foreign currency orders for major banks, travel agencies and hotels.

 

The partnership

The partnership allowed Nium to launch a new digital remittance offering in the Asia Pacific region, known as Travelex International Money Transfer, which leverages Nium’s real-time payment technology and money transfer rails to extend digital remittances to Travelex users across the region. 

In other words, Travelex provides its large existing consumer base with access to Nium’s Remittance-as-a-Service (RaaS) solution. Through this partnership, Travelex users will now be able to remit money to more than 50 countries globally. Going forward, the service is planned to be extended to other countries across the region in the coming months.

“At Nium, we understand how difficult it is for a company to introduce remittance or money transfer services at scale, and we are excited that Travelex has selected Nium to be their trusted partner for this journey,” said Michael Minassian, Regional Head of Nium’s Consumer and SME Business.

The partnership between the two companies has boosted digital remittance in the Asia Pacific region.

“Travelex is delighted to team up with Nium to offer remittance services. Following a rigorous selection process, we were impressed with their holistic solution which encompassed the technology framework and the expertise of the team. In today’s competitive payments environment, new technology makes a huge difference in delivering the best customer experience,” – Darren Brown, Managing Director, Travelex Australia and New Zealand.

 

How RaaS can enable businesses to offer remittance services

Nium’s RaaS solution allows businesses to become providers of payment solutions and offer remittance services on their own digital platforms. Through such a collaboration, businesses that are otherwise not payment providers or lack the technological or regulatory portfolio to facilitate cross-border payments, can launch an international remittance service. 

The RaaS solution provides businesses with the technology stack and the network of regulatory licenses necessary to support international fund transfers. Through this ‘plug and play’ model, businesses can go live within weeks, with the ability to customise their front end. Nium says that businesses are set to gain new revenue streams by offering digital remittance solutions to their customers globally.

“Nium’s mission is to create a global fintech infrastructure that can enable banks, financial institutions and other fintech companies to launch and scale innovative digital financial services without the complexity, time and cost previously required to do so. We look forward to working closely with Travelex to offer a robust digital remittance offering to their customers,” said Michael Minassian, Regional Head of Nium’s Consumer and SME Business.

FinTech Australia Spotlight: Sniip

‘Competition or Collaboration?’ – the story of a start-up, Sniip

Sniip is one of the many Australian fintech success stories – from its start, as a small company in Brisbane, to now securing a partnership to work hand-in-hand with a huge billing company, BPAY. 

We spoke with Damien Vasta, Managing Director of Sniip – who came up with the idea for Sniiip after experiencing clunky mobile payments. This caused him to realise the current experience is not good enough. Damien asked:

  1. Why do customers have to pay a bill the way that the bank tells them to do it or the way the biller tells them to do it? Why can’t there be a code to scan or a push notification into an app where customer bills are available to store, manage and pay instead of through an email or in the post?; 
  2. Why can’t the customer decide how they want to pay their bills and how they want to receive a bill? – Why is a customer required to set-up their own manual reminders just to remember to pay a bill?; and finally,
  3. Why can’t customers schedule their payments for the due date and then file the bill without ever having to worry about it again?

Sniip aimed to solve a key problem – “How do you turn a static bill into a point of payment?” – Well, Sniip suggests the answer is fairly straightforward. Using a QR code enables customers to make a fast payment on a mobile using a secure digital wallet (you can load your credit and debit cards onto Sniip in advance). As a result, Sniip takes a static medium, for example, a household bill, and turns it into a dynamic transaction via instantaneous mobile payment.

Damien mentioned that Sniip started as a mobile-commerce, or ‘m-commerce’, service for the retail sector. He realised that QR codes could be better utilised to enable more convenient payments by mobile on print advertising. Consumers enjoy using QR Codes due to their quick response time and ease-of-use. After 2020, and the wide-spread use of the QR Code for COVID-19, it is clear that he was right. 

Sniip then realised he could solve a bigger problem than retail – making bill payments much easier. But in order to do that, Sniip faced a range of challenges – ultimately, hitting a wall with billers who didn’t think they had a problem to solve. BPay was too big of a competitor and Sniip was a small start-up – it wasn’t a fair competition. The big players in billing, namely the banks,  controlled the payment process. Consequently, Sniip was only able to sign up four direct billers. This meant that the company was left with a poor value proposition for bill-payers. Damien knew that the product would only work if it became widespread, which wouldn’t be possible under the current ecosystem dominated by financial institutions such as the major banks and BPAY.

Sniip pivoted their offering. Instead, Damien focused on creating a better BPAY experience. He saw that BPay could be an opportunity for collaboration, rather than competition. Although people use BPAY day-to-day through their banks, there are a range of limitations on how customers access BPAY that Damien sought to resolve. Sniip saw this as an opportunity to go out to the modern consumer who does not expect such restrictions and almost now demands flexibility, including  the ability to switch between banks, cards, use BNPL or cryptocurrency and more services not being offered through the banks or  billers. 

Sniip is now a Payer Institution Member (PIM) with BPAY and also has a strategic partnership  with American Express (AMEX)   as it has delivered the huge BPAY biller network to AMEX cardholders. Through Sniip, AMEX is able to offer their customer base access to more than 60,000 billers across Australia, meaning extra flexibility, convenience and time-saving for customers in terms of managing their bills. Consequently, Sniip unlocked an exciting customer-centric payment experience.

 

A list of bills on your phone presented via Sniip and paying a bill with Sniip

 

Looking ahead, Damien exclaimed that BPAY has been critical to the company’s recent growth, but it is just the beginning. Sniip has invested heavily in it’s tech capability for the last three years and this commitment will soon see payment capability extend to all SME billers. Damien envisioned that Sniip will be the default, bank-agnostic bill payment option for mobile-centric customers across Australia.

As a clear success story, what does Damien recommend to new start-up founders hoping to experience a similar trajectory to Sniip? Well – Sniip has been seven years in the making and is only now just seeing the results of perseverance and hard work. In his experience, persistence is everything, and he noted that there are always ways around obstacles. Pivoting is important, but you must do so while staying true to your vision. Damien ended our conversation by outlining his number-one key learning: “At the end of the day, make sure that whatever your business is doing, you are always solving a problem; this is the absolute key to growth and success.” 

 

Sniip and Amex

FinTech Australia Spotlight: Envestnet | Yodlee

Open Banking

Open banking initiatives are live, in progress, or under consideration in most major economies around the globe. Australia is one of the global leaders in the space with its Consumer Data Right (CDR), passed in August 2019, that enables secure sharing of customer banking information with major benefits for FinTechs and consumers alike. 

At its core, open banking is about secure and transparent access to consumer-permissioned financial data. The CDR enables Australians to easily share their data with organisations accredited by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), known as Accredited Data Recipients. This exciting new regime means accredited organisations, including many FinTechs and banks, have more opportunities to create, collaborate on, and deliver products to consumers – like personal financial management products, accounting tools, payment apps, and consumer lending products that utilise real-time data. 

Envestnet | Yodlee is one of the companies that have received CDR accreditation in Australia. The company uses data aggregation and analytics platform to receive consumer-permissioned financial data via the CDR to deliver personalised advice, products, and services. 

Being accredited under the CDR enables Envestnet | Yodlee to act as an intermediary by delivering consumer’s financial data to Australia’s banks and FinTechs. The company’s ecosystem provides responsible data access to FinTechs and financial institutions through their open banking platform.

 

Credit

Today’s credit evaluation process is largely manual and subject to fraud. In response, Envestnet | Yodlee recently launched the Credit Accelerator to attempt to address these issues. The Credit Accelerator aggregates applicant data from multiple financial institutions and compiles the data into a financial report to overview a consumer’s financial position.

An example of the Credit Accelerator Customer Summary Sheet by Envestnet | Yodlee

We spoke with Envestnet | Yodlee Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, Tim Poskitt, who said that with the government proposing to remove responsible lending obligations (RLOs) to fuel economic growth in the wake of COVID-19, the need to use technology and data to help make accurate and insightful decisions has never been higher. He went on to note that the Credit Accelerator gives considerable power to both financial service providers and consumers, by using real-time CDR data to provide accurate reports.

 

Tim Poskitt, Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand at Envestnet | Yodlee

Poskitt points out that Australia and New Zealand are two markets that recognise the value of more personal financial intelligence. “I know first-hand that both countries are exceptionally welcoming towards new thinking and technology,” Poskitt says. “They offer huge opportunities for innovation in the financial space.”

Ultimately, the Credit Accelerator seeks to build upon Australian and New Zealand consumer’s keenness to take hold of their personal finance by giving consumers more ways to access their finances at a glance.

 

 

Member Spotlight: Binance

2021 has been an extraordinary year for the cryptocurrency market; with coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Binance coin all reaching record prices that have not been seen before. Decentralised finance, also known as DeFi, has seen record highs with the US dollar value of Ethereum locked in DeFi contracts being around $40 billion as of March 2021. This dollar amount has grown from $674 million since January 2020. Central Bank Digital Currencies (‘CBDCs’) have also seen increased attention as the world economy reels from the effects of the pandemic.

For this week’s Member Spotlight, we caught up with Jeff Yew, CEO of Binance Australia to chat about his views on the recent explosion of DeFi and CBDCs, as well as the trajectory of Binance and its recent fully fledged entry into the Australian market.

“The progression of cryptocurrency and digital assets is inevitable as the world continues to progress digitally,” says Jeff. “Most of the world’s money is already digital, but they come in different forms: some government backed, some backed by other assets like gold. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have a very important difference because they are open-source and transparent. They are the freest and most censorship resistant form of digital money that the world has ever seen. That itself gives digital currencies like Bitcoin a unique advantage against other government-backed digital money, like CBDCs. Each having their own pros and cons, but the difference now is that people get to choose what’s best for them.”

CBDCs are digital currencies that are backed and issued by a country’s central bank. An increased interest from the retail market, paired with the economic pressures of the COVID- 19 pandemic has prompted Central Banks all over the globe to consider the implementation of Central Bank Digital Currencies. In a September 2020 paper, the Australian Reserve Bank concluded that while there does not seem to currently be a strong public policy case for the issuance of a CBDC in Australia, the RBA will closely watch the experience of other jurisdictions that are considering the implementation of CBDCs. The RBA also announced a partnership with CBA, NAB, Perpetual and ConsenSys on a wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency Research Project in November 2020 with further research released in the RBA’s Payments System Board Update in February 2021. If you’re interested in reading more about CBDCs, we’ve covered the topic in more detail in a previous Member Spotlight.

 

The Advent of Decentralised Finance

2021 has also been a huge year for DeFi, no doubt prompted by current world events. DeFi is crypto’s answer to traditional financing and lending products, allowing the lending of assets without a middleman.

Most DeFi applications are built on top of Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain with DeFi covering areas such as decentralised exchanges, stablecoins, lending and financing, wrapping crypto-assets to allow for interoperability between crypto such as bitcoin and DeFi, and betting markets.

Lending is by far the most popular use case for DeFi, allowing users to borrow cryptocurrencies, or lend their own to others. Users that lend their cryptocurrency earn interest, and users that borrow cryptocurrency must post collateral. The significant difference between DeFi and traditional lending is that DeFi doesn’t require Know Your Customer checks. This risk,as well as other risks such as market volatility, is often countered by an overcollateralization when borrowing, as is the case in platforms such as Maker DAO.

DeFi lending could not exist without stablecoins, which are cryptocurrency alternatives to traditional fiat currencies. Stablecoins peg their value to a fiat currency, such as the US Dollar, and act as a stable asset to transact with.

Jeff noted that, “Bitcoin is often likened to Gold in that it is a strong store of value but potentially lacking as a means of facilitating regular transactions. For DeFi to function properly, the community needs a way to price products and services that is recognised by everyone and isn’t fluctuating the way Bitcoin might. That’s where stablecoins come in. And equally importantly, the community must continue to work together with regulators to ensure the advent of blockchain and crypto hold benefit for all involved.”

Many users are attracted to the DeFi market due to Yield Farming. Yield Farming is similar to staking, except Yield Farming does not facilitate a consensus mechanism. Instead, it serves as an economic incentive for users to fund a liquidity pool. A liquidity pool is the pool of funds within a DeFi platform that enables the movement of cryptocurrency within a DeFi platform. Upon committing crypto to a liquidity pool, those users are often rewarded with that platform’s governance token, which can be used either within the platform (often to cast votes in its governance mechanism) or sold on the open market. Think of it as a form of interest generated as a result of your deposit into the liquidity pool. These tokens that are granted to users generally only carry a speculative value, but some, such as Uniswap, have gained significant value. While the current boom is reminiscent of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) craze in 2017, a considerable difference between ICOs and DeFi, apart from the far more mature ecosystem and market, is that ICOs were typically sold on the basis of nothing more than a whitepaper; a promise, while DeFi projects are generally live and functioning systems.

“We’ve seen in a short period of time DeFi open up a range of alternative opportunities for those interested in the space to not just grow the value of their money, but also contribute to the development of DeFi and crypto in a meaningful way”, says Jeff.

 Binance Australia is at the forefront of all things crypto, being a considerable supporter of the DeFi space, particularly in a COVID-19 impacted economy.

 “We’re seeing an increasing number of members of the crypto community look to DeFi opportunities as a way to sustain themselves financially which is fantastic because these opportunities were non-existent five years ago. And in a time where employment, high-interest accounts and traditional income streams have been difficult to come by, it has really highlighted the value DeFi potentially offers. At Binance Australia we are committed to grow the level of education available to the public as well as working with regulators on an ongoing basis to facilitate the growth of crypto in all its facets in Australia.”

COVID-19 has not only been a catalyst for crypto-market growth, but also for how a business pivots in a new digital age. Binance Australia has had an established presence in Australia since early 2019 in the form of Binance Lite Australia and have been actively engaging in local communities through meetups, panels and events. However, COVID-19 forced the Binance mid-2020 launch to become more digitally focused. “Staying close with our users is a challenge in times like these. We’ve switched physical meetups to virtual ones and hosted more regular AMAs throughout our online channels than we did before. But the good thing is that we’ve been able to engage with our users and community more,” said Jeff. “We have a lot of activity planned in the Australian market, including a series of free online courses to help guide beginners into the crypto space safely, and also more advanced content for veteran traders and startups looking to build cool applications within the ecosystem.”

Jeff wrapped up with an update on how Binance is doing in Australia, “We’ve recently revealed our Australian centric homepage, based on the great feedback we have received from our community. The new homepage is beginner-friendly and features quicker access to the features our users love. Be sure to check that out at binance.com/en-AU.”

FinTech Australia Spotlight Article: Monoova

Monoova and Jacaranda Finance partner-up to unlock faster payments and greater financial inclusion

In the first edition of Member Spotlight in 2021, we had a chance to talk to CEO of Monoova, Christian Westerlind Wigstrom, and CEO of Jacaranda Finance, Daniel Wessels, about their recent partnership.

Meet the companies

Monoova, formerly known as Moneytech Payments and founded in 2017, is an end-to-end payments provider that supports scaling businesses with large, and often complex, ongoing transaction flows to automate how they receive, manage and pay their funds through one API integration. In other words, Monoova helps businesses grow by applying their API technology to a businesses’ transaction flows.

The company’s platform is designed to allow businesses to access a variety of payment functions like the NPP and customised real-time data.

The people behind Jacaranda Finance, established in 2013, noticed that there are around three million people in Australia who are deemed ‘unbankable’ by traditional financial. As a result, Jacaranda Finance was created to address a gap in the lending market by offering online, unsecured personal loans that unbankable people could gain access to. 

It is safe to say that Fintechs like Jacaranda are enabling a new era of financial inclusion. During our discussion, Mr Wessels of Jacaranda Finance said: “We pride ourselves on helping customers navigate stressful financial situations by providing fast access to finance. For many of our customers who can’t be serviced by traditional lenders and funding models, we provide a critical service.”

The partnership

The synergies between the two companies in the partnership have brought on a range of positive outcomes.

 Mr Wessels spoke highly of the API technology provided by Monoova: “Integrating with Monoova’s Automated Payment Service (APS) has been game changing for our business and an integral component in allowing us to deliver market leading turnaround times and instant payments to customers”

The APS allows partners to automate how they receive, manage and pay funds across a large number of payment methods. According to Daniel Wessels, working with Monoova has enabled Jacaranda Finance to rely less on manual payments processing, which is crucial for businesses required to operate 24/7. The APS also resulted in faster payments processing times, supporting financial inclusion by enabling Jacaranda Finance to deliver an improved loan experience to thousands of customers. Overall, with the integration of Monoova’s APS, more Australians are now able to navigate stressful financial situations via Jacaranda Finance’s fast access to finance.

Christian Westerlind Wigstrom of Monoova found working with Jacaranda Finance rewarding and enjoyed supporting their noble goal: “We are inspired by Jacaranda Finance’s mission of financial inclusion and are delighted to bring this to life through our services. By enabling fast access to funds, we are supporting Australians who need it most.” 

Christian went on to note that he plans to continue investing in Monoova’s capabilities to ensure the company’s partners can spend more time on supporting customers’ needs and less time on payments administration work in the future.

FinTech Australia Spotlight Article: Verrency

Innovating in financial services is now more important than ever. Disruptive digital use cases are launched by consumer-facing fintechs everywhere and established financial institutions find it difficult to compete effectively. The global pandemic has changed consumer behaviour on a global scale, with the need to digitally differentiate now a ‘need to have’ baseline and no longer the ‘nice to have’ exception. In this week’s Member Spotlight we spoke to Jeroen van Son, Chief Commercial Officer at Verrency about their ability to help Financial Institutions innovate their payments services and infrastructures, their journey through the market, and their recent partnership with eftpos.

(more…)

Member Spotlight: Vasco Pay, Digital Payments Accelerator Program

Anyone with experience in payments (including the 47 payment companies in this community) will understand the complexity and costs involved in bringing a payment product to market.

Open Banking has revolutionised the world of payments, resulting in the rise of ‘bank in a box’ and ‘banking as a service’, which provides open access to infrastructure previously reserved for the big end of town.

However, there are still plenty of barriers and challenges – cost, access to payments technology and speed to market. Regardless, the race to create and launch the next best payment solution is on – and Vasco Pay is here to help.

(more…)

Member Spotlight: XBert

Against the unprecedented global economic crisis tools that provide financial risk alerts, data accuracy, visibility and real-time insights, like the products offered by SaaS fintech and 2020 Finnies finalist XBert, have proven essential for business owners, accountants, bookkeepers and advisors.

Since launching publicly at leading cloud accounting provider Xero’s Xerocon event in September 2019, XBert’s been making waves in Australia and overseas. Now, XBert’s secured an AusIndustry Entrepreneurs’ Programme Accelerating Commercialisation grant (“grant”) and is ready to go big on a global scale!

For this week’s Member Spotlight, we spoke with Troy Brown, co-founder and co-director of XBert about the grant process (including some helpful tips), the challenges they encountered and what’s on the horizon.  
(more…)

Member Spotlight: Assembly Payments and Patona

After starting several successful fintechs, Simon Lee, Managing Partner of Patona, and Co Founder and Board Member of Assembly Payments, has some sound wisdom when it comes to scaling a business and making meaningful connections and partnerships with financial services heavyweights. 

(more…)

Member Spotlight: Look Who’s Charging, partnering with financial institutions

(more…)

Upcoming Events
  1. Finnies 2021

    September 15
  2. Money 20/20 Europe

    September 21 - September 23
Videos

Ep 2: Fintechs Acceleration of Growth Since COVID

Ep 1: The Evolution of Payments

Scaling Product Globally

Podcasts

Lee Hatton – Afterpay: FinTech Australia Podcast

Anthony Jones – Visa AUS/NZ

Tim Cameron – TransferWise