1. UK – FinTech
“Back when the government first announced its financial aid package to help SMEs in March, it was first met with a sense of exasperation as it appeared fintechs and alternative lenders had been ignored.
Fintechs were initially excluded from the loan schemes as only companies that had turned a profit could apply, something even the largest fintechs are yet to do, and alternative lenders didn’t become accredited lenders until a few weeks into the schemes.
Since then, alternative lenders and banks have dished out over $57bn in government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) and Bounce Back Loans and £720m has been given out from the fintech-friendly Future Fund convertible loan scheme.
In his address yesterday, Sunak announced that he is extending the repayment period for Bounce Back Loans from six to ten years and CBILS for up to ten years, dramatically reducing the average monthly repayment to help struggling businesses.
Sunak said: “More than 60,000 small to medium-sized businesses have taken out CBILS. To help them, I will extend the government guarantee on these loans for up to 10 years, making it easier for lenders to give more people more time to repay.”
These measures are part of the new ‘Pay As you Grow’ scheme that will allow SMEs using government loan schemes to make interest-only payments or stop repayments completely for up to six months, without affecting their credit rating.”
2. UK – AltFi
“Innovate UK has awarded £50,000 to TutorHero, a revolutionary machine learning tutoring tool designed to help students catch up on lost learning during lockdown.
TutorHero, the brainchild of Plymouth couple Beth Parsons and Lewis Boyles-White, is designed to be almost 75% cheaper than existing alternatives by utilising new technologies such as machine learning alongside traditional tutoring techniques.
The funding will allow TutorHero, developed directly in response to the coronavirus pandemic, to help primary school students and their parents by providing tailored learning plans to suit each individual child’s needs so they can learn in their own way.”
3. International – FinTech
“The European Commission has announced the adoption of a Digital Finance Package along with legislative proposals on crypto-assets (digital assets). The announcement has been widely anticipated and earlier this month draft legislation pertaining to crypto-assets was leaked to the public.
According to a statement by the Commission, the policy is designed to “boost Europe’s competitiveness and innovation in the financial sector, paving the way for Europe to become a global standard-setter.” The Commission believes it will give consumers more choice and opportunities while ensuring consumer protection and financial stability.
Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, commented on the announcement:
“The future of finance is digital. We saw during the lockdown how people were able to get access to financial services thanks to digital technologies such as online banking and fintech solutions. Technology has much more to offer consumers and businesses and we should embrace the digital transformation proactively, while mitigating any potential risks. That’s what today’s package aims to do. An innovative digital single market for finance will benefit Europeans and will be key to Europe’s economic recovery by offering better financial products for consumers and opening up new funding channels for companies.”
The goal of the Digital Finance Package is to “make Europe’s financial services more digital-friendly and to stimulate responsible innovation and competition among financial service providers.” This includes both artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology. The hope is to foster more channels to provide financing to European SMEs while leveling the playing field between incumbent financial services firms, like traditional banks, as well as newer Fintechs.”
4. International – FinTech
“Russian state lender Sberbank is dropping the bank from its name as it makes an aggressive push into technology, launching a TV streaming box, smart speaker and virtual assistant.
Big tech has spent recent years muscling in on the financial services scene, with the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Tencent and Alibaba making various plays to take on banks in everything from payments to lending.
Just this week, Yandex, often called Russia's Google, made a $5.5 billion move to buy Sberbank rival Tinkoff.
Now Sberbank is taking the fight to the tech firms, rebranding as Sber and entering the home electronics market.
The Sber Box turns any television into a smart TV, providing access movies, television, music, and games. Meanwhile, the Sber Portal is a multimedia smart display with a speaker, sensor and voice control, and gesture recognition.
Both have a family of virtual assistants, called Sber Salut, built in. The assistants also work with iOS and Android devices.”
5. International – FinTech
“Saudi Arabia has become a more active player in the global economy as it focuses on diversifying its economy. The Saudi government and local businesses have been adopting the latest technologies to streamline operations. The MENA region country has also been helping its residents cope with the socio-economic challenges created due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has negatively impacted the nation’s private sector, according to a senior official from the Saudi Financial Sector Development (FSD) program.
The FSD program was introduced around three years ago. It has reportedly managed to achieve 90% of its targets and the the Coronavirus crisis has led to increased activity in the Fintech sector with more consumers using digital platforms and services, according to Faisal Al Sharif, director general at the FSD program.
Al Sharif, whose comments came during the 15th virtual edition of the Euromoney Saudi Arabia conference, noted that the FSD’s targets for Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) awarding Fintech related licences was only three by the end of this year. There are eight such licenses that have been issued, Al Sharif confirmed.”