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Embedded finance: the next phase of growth in Fintech

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embedded finance

Financial services have always been the nervous system of the global economy, a critical system that must always provide effective and equitable services for social cohesion and enhanced development.

While advancements in the Fintech industry have grown tenfold, the legacy 20th century business models in finance have grown out-of-date, with many not even adapting to the fundamental paradigm shift – technological, institutional, and societal – ushered in by the monumental transition from an Industrial to an Information Age.

As such, these business models need to be reshaped to better serve the needs of the market and keep up with the ever-changing technological tides.

The current buzz around Fintech right now is embedded finance, which, according to UK-based venture investment firm Anthemis, is predicting a market-wide revenue of almost $7 trillion in the next decade.

What is embedded finance?

Embedded finance is the integration of financial services within a non-financial app, website or platform. The biggest and easiest example of this is done via ride-hailing apps; when a customer pays for a ride at the end of the journey directly on the ride-share company’s app, they are using embedded banking.

They do not need to fumble with cash or hand their payment card to the driver. In fact, they don’t even need to say a word to the driver at all. They can simply exit the vehicle and finish up the transaction on their phone.

The same can be applied to Amazon loans, Apple Cards, booking a parking space directly from the Google Maps app, and Shopify merchant accounts.

How it works

Embedded finance can take on many shapes and forms, but traditionally fall into three categories:

  • The transfer of value in space:  This category includes payment processing and traditional bank products such as savings and checking accounts.
  • The transfer of value in time: This category includes investments as well as loans and other forms of financing.
  • Managing risk: This category includes insurance and other products that provide some layer of protection against risks.

All of these can be integrated into non-financial services and platforms delivered on the Internet. The difference between embedded finance and different forms of integration is that it paves the way for cross-industry integration.

This can be seen via the popular rise of digital wallets, in which a person stores their payment card information on the app. The credit or debit cards are issued by a traditional bank.

From there, customers can use the app to pay for purchases in brick-and-mortar stores, online payments, as well as the ability to transfer money to other users of the app without having to type in their bank account or credit card information each time.

Thus, the versatility of embedded finance can be a widely impactful tool for businesses to open various revenue streams, as it allows all sectors to become more Internet-enabled ultimately leading to be “finance-enabled.”

What’s on the horizon?

Previously, organizations who wanted to integrate financial services within their business models had to deal with massive heaps of operational coordination and technological plumbing in the background.

As Banking-as-as-Service (BaaS) is on the rise, technology-driven suppliers that underpin the infrastructure of banking is also meeting it upwards in parallel for both financial services and non-financial companies.

“While embedded finance is still a nascent field, we expect many more use cases to come. It’s a great opportunity for selected start-ups, SMEs and large corporates to create more client value, while capturing new revenue lines,” the report by Anthemis said.

This gives embedded finance companies an edge due to their ability to streamline operational capabilities through distribution, data, and resources, which in turn, provides a major boost to the worldwide startup ecosystem.

Yehia is an investigative journalist and editor with extensive experience in the news industry as well as digital content creation across the board. He strives to bring the human element to his writing.

FinTech

Trading apps move to get a live person to hear your problems

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Trading apps move to get a live person to hear your problems

It’s one of the downsides of apps that make things like ordering food or buying stocks and cryptocurrencies easier: What happens when something goes wrong?

It’s often a frustrating chase, tapping through menu after menu in hopes of reaching a person to fix the problem. It’s also something that upstart companies upending the investment and trading industry are increasingly acknowledging.

Robinhood, the app that helps more than 22 million people trade stocks and cryptocurrencies, announced Tuesday that it’s offering 24/7 phone support for its customers to cover almost every issue. It follows up on an announcement by Coinbase, the cryptocurrency trading platform that said last month it would launch 24/7 phone service by the end of the year for many customers.

Before its own stock started trading on the public market for the first time, Robinhood cited “concerns about limited customer support” as one of its challenges. Earlier this year, Robinhood also settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a 20-year-old alleging he committed suicide after his emails to the company’s customer support about a $730,000 negative balance on his account received only auto-generated replies.

To reach Robinhood’s customer support in its early days meant to communicate mostly over email, but it’s been adding more live phone support in recent months.

“It takes a while to build a great support organization, especially in a highly regulated business,” said Gretchen Howard, Robinhood Market Inc.’s chief operating officer. Agents need to be licensed, for example, and Robinhood more than tripled its number of customer-support workers between March 2020 and June 2021 to nearly 2,700.

With so many first-time investors making up its base, many of the customer questions coming into Robinhood are about setting up a bank account or going through tax reporting for the first time. But the demand can vary wildly by the day.

“If someone famous tweets about crypto, our crypto volumes can go up 10x” in an instant, Howard said.

Customers logged into Robinhood’s app can now request a callback from a representative. Through the process, the app will also try to help customers solve the problem themselves, if possible. The company based in Menlo Park, California, is still working on how to get live phone service to customers who can’t log into their accounts.

William Van Horn II, a 30-year-old in Pensacola, Florida, has already experienced Robinhood’s customer service several times. He hasn’t always been pleased.

He said he once accidentally deposited $1,000 instead of $100 into his account. Quickly afterward he sent an email to customer service, hoping to cancel the deposit. He eventually got a representative on the phone who tried to walk him through several steps. But Van Horn said he never was able to cancel the $1,000 deposit, or to at least claw back the extra $900.

Van Horn has other complaints about Robinhood’s customer service, but it hasn’t been enough to get him to stop using the app.

“The customer service is lacking,” he said, “but the interface is still pretty much the best in terms of mobile use.”


NEW YORK (AP)

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Google kills plans for financial service Plex

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Google’s plans of extending its horizon into financial services in collaboration with the banking sector have reached an end as the search engine kills off its Plex service before the initial launch, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Mountain View company stunned its users with news of halting the development of its banking service as Google Pay subscribers were eagerly anticipating it. Google’s plans to deliver its users a bank account service could have set the first official stone to compete with Apple’s credit card feature.

However, the company’s efforts to terminate the release of its banking service will indefinitely end Google and its parent company’s efforts from entering the financial sector until further notice.

Earlier in 2019, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. informed its subscribers of a futuristic plan of releasing Google Pay, a digital wallet allowing the platform’s userbase to sign up for superior checking accounts and debit cards with a bundle of financial establishments.

Currently, Google Pay is the Android maker’s leading financial service provider serving users with the ability to send and receive money, store credit card, debit card data on the platform, and use the information stored on their devices for in-app payments, be it online or in-person.

Initially, the digital wallet service was labeled as Cache, later changed to Plex.

In terms of functionality, Plex would synchronize with Google Pay digital dashboard, where users indulge in various purchasing activities. The banking service would include built-in savings targets to assist users with monetary savings.

In a partnership with investment banking company Citigroup and Stanford Federal Credit Union, the Big Tech titan fixated its glare on these firms as an extensive number of Google’s employees bank there.

Originally, based on Google’s initial plan, Plex’s official launch was tapped for 2020. However, with COVID-19 overtaking the global economy, the company pushed back its deadline until it completely dropped the project in September.

As an alternative approach to stay in the department as a financial service provider, the company chose to maintain its sole focus on “delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial services providers rather than us serving as the provider of these services,” a Google spokesperson informed The Wall Street Journal. 

For a company as ambitious as Google, it seems very unlikely that the killing of its banking service will be the end of its maneuvers in the digital financial sector as experts are firm believers that the fintech industry will maintain its exponential growth in the upcoming years.

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Mastercard, DTA partner up to release digital ID service In Australia

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Multinational credit card company Mastercard announced on Monday a new collaboration with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) as it implements plans to create digital identities and age verification system, a move that will manifest the company as a leading digital identity service provider in Australia.

The Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) will be a unison maneuver that will put both Mastercard and the DTA under one umbrella. Both entities will investigate a chain of private sector-led pilots alongside the effects digital verification services could impose on the retailer and consumer comprehension and anticipations from online experiences.

Last year, a parliamentary committee introduced a recommendation inquiry setting the first step towards a safer online environment, aiming to prevent minors from accessing online pornography sites. This had a direct affiliation to the DTA’s objectives of becoming the country’s first federal government agency to obtain an online age verification system.

“Australians are increasingly expecting no disruptions between their online and physical lives, and identity is an area that must keep pace with those expectations,” Australia Mastercard President Richard Wormald said in a statement.

“Public-private pilots have the potential to make it easier to use these verified identities security, everywhere they travel,” Wormald added.

The framework’s initial announcement was revealed in December of last year, with three parties initiating the first steps to launch two trials.

The first trial mainly focused on the identity verification process of students’ registration and digital exams at a university campus, while the second trial conducted united Mastercard’s digital ID solution with an already existing verification process in collaboration with the postal services.

Through TDIF, users will have unlimited capacity to gain entry to any government services and benefit by adopting a reusable digital identity approach without the need to show official documentation every time.

In addition, the framework’s influence will reach third-party providers to obtain access to the system as well.

Even though the DTA is hastily working on the implementation plans for TDIF, digital privacy experts are warning of a hazardous downfall that could follow the trusted framework. Analysts warn Australian authorities from deeply indulging in a system that has not been supervised by tech experts and the community.

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