ACT Canada Driving Insights – September 2019

Welcome to the September 2019 edition of ACT News – Driving Insights. This complimentary service is provided by ACT Canada.  Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues.

In This Issue

  1. THE ACT CANADA FORUM IS JUST DAYS AWAY – ARE YOU READY?
  2. CANADIAN SMES ARE SHIFTING STRATEGIES TO DRIVE GROWTH AMID DECLINING FORECASTS
    Features ACT Canada Member American Express
  1. CENTRAL 1 GOES GLOBAL WITH NEW ‘INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS’ PRODUCT, SIMPLIFYING CROSS-BORDER TRANSACTIONS FOR CANADIANS
    Features ACT Canada Member Central 1 Credit Union
  1. WHAT DOES FACEBOOK'S LIBRA MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF COMMERCE AND CURRENCY?
  1. WOMEN IN PAYMENTS ANNOUNCES 2019 AWARD WINNERS
    Features ACT Canada Members CIBC, Ingenico, nanopay and Scotiabank. Elena Litani from nanopay is a speaker at the ACT Canada Forum
  1. GIG ECONOMY BANKING IS BOOMING (AND BANKS ARE MISSING THE BOAT)
  2. THE 7 MOST DANGEROUS TECHNOLOGY TRENDS IN 2020 EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
  3. SHOPIFY DEBUTS NEW FEATURES FOR CBD MERCHANTS
  4. U.S. POSTAL TREATY EXIT WOULD HURT CANADIAN E-COMMERCE BUSINESSES
    Features ACT Canada Member CIBC
  1. FIME RECEIVES LATEST NEXO STANDARDS ACCREDITATION
    Features ACT Canada Member FIME. Xavier Giandominici from FIME is a panelist at the ACT Canada Forum
  1. THE FUTURE OF PAYMENTS: INGENICO’S 5 PREDICTIONS FOR 2020
    Features ACT Canada Member Ingenico, who is a sponsor of the ACT Canada Forum
  1. HOW INTERAC USED BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE ENERGY INCENTIVES, INSTANTLY
    Features ACT Canada Member Interac Corp, who is a sponsor of the ACT Canada Forum. Neil Butters, Debbie Gamble and Kashmera Self are speakers at the ACT Canada Forum
  1. AMERICAN EXPRESS TO LAUNCH OPEN BANKING PRODUCT, ENABLING UK CONSUMERS TO PAY FOR ONLINE PURCHASES WITH A BANK TRANSFER
    Features ACT Canada Member American Express
  1. FICO LAUNCHES FRAUD-FIGHTING AI TECH
  2. WESTERN UNION, TRUE NORTH OFFER X-BORDER TUITION PAYMENTS
    Features ACT Canada Members MasterCard and UnionPay International. Ellie Zolghadr from MasterCard is speaking at the ACT Canada Forum
  1. LEGAL CANNABIS RETAIL INNOVATES ITS WAY AROUND PAYMENTS KNOT
  2. GOOGLE TIGHTENS UP PRIVACY CONTROLS FOR ASSISTANT VOICE RECORDINGS
  1. DOUUGH LAUNCHES “SAVINGS JARS” SERVICE AND EXPANDS ACCESS TO MASTERCARD DEBIT CARD IN THE U.S.
    Features ACT Canada Members MasterCard. Ellie Zolghadr from MasterCard is speaking at the ACT Canada Forum
  1. WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESSES ARE GROWING 2X FASTER ON AVERAGE THAN ALL BUSINESSES NATIONWIDE
    Features ACT Canada Member American Express
  1. PROBLEM THAT WOULD TAKE 10,000 YEARS FOR NORMAL PC IS SOLVED IN FOUR MINUTES
  2. EXCLUSIVE: FROM CRYPTOKITTIES TO CARDI B: WARNER MUSIC JOINS $11 MILLION INVESTMENT IN ETHEREUM REPLACEMENT
  3. 3 WAYS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS UPROOTING SALES
  1. THALES TO SAFEGUARD THAI CITIZENS’ IDENTITY WITH INNOVATIVE E-PASSPORTS
    Features ACT Canada Member Gemalto, A Thales Company who is a sponsor of the ACT Canada Forum

ACT Canada Partners

Payment Network Partner

Interac Corp. operates an economical, world-class debit payments system with broad-based acceptance, reliability, security, and efficiency. The organization is one of Canada’s leading payments brands and is chosen an average of 16 million times daily to pay and exchange money. For more than 30 years, Interac Corp. and its predecessors, Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation, have facilitated secure financial transactions through the development of innovative and convenient debit and money transfer solutions. A leader in the prevention and detection of fraud, the organization has one of the lowest rates of fraud globally.

Mar19 II (1)
Principal Member
Gemalto: A Thales Company

member since 2005

 

General Member
Payolog LLC

new member!

 

Associate Member
Norton Rose Fulbright LLP Canada
member since 2013

 

 

Looking For good people?

There is a lot of movement in the market, so if you are looking for new employees, we are always aware of some great people. Please contact ACT Canada for more details - postings@actcda.com

looking to hire

Calendar of Events

ACT Canada Payments Community Meet Ups
Duke of Westminster, Toronto
Nov 12th, Dec 10th, Jan 14th

Operational Excellence Week Canada
Toronto, ON, Canada
Oct 21-24, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a 15% discount

Money20/20
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Oct 27-30
ACT Canada Members receive a $250 discount

Customer Expo
Indianapolis, IN, USA
Nov 11-13, 2019

ACT Canada Members receive a 20% discount

 

TRUSTECH
Cannes, France
Nov 26-28, 2019
ACT Canada Members attend for free
ACT Canada Forum 2019
Toronto, ON, Canada
Oct 7th, 2019

Money20/20 China
Hangzhou, China
Dec 4-6, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a
$250 discount

Money20/20 Asia
Singapore
Mar 24-26, 2020
ACT Canada Members receive a
$250 discount

Payments Canada SUMMIT
Montreal, QC, Canada
May 25-27, 2020
ACT Canada Members receive a 30% discount

Articles

  1. THE ACT CANADA FORUM IS JUST DAYS AWAY – ARE YOU READY?

We’re just over a week out from this year’s ACT Canada Forum. Our speakers are lined, presentations have been reviewed and we’re working tirelessly on our last-minute registrations!  We’re excited about the changes at this year’s Forum and look forward to your reactions.

Still on the fence? The ACT Canada Forum offers excellent networking opportunities in addition to a stellar speaker line up.  Join us as we explore the following topics:

  • Open Banking – the Consumer Perspective & the Opportunities for Canadian FIs
  • The Impacts of Canada’s Digital Charter & Risks of Data Ownership
  • The Disciplined Innovation Process
  • Digital ID & the Changes in the Canadian Market
  • Secure Remote Commerce – What to Expect in Canada
  • Fighting eCommerce Fraud & Improving the Consumer Experience
  • Mobile Verification for Digital Transactions
  • Customer Centric Shopping Experience & Using AI for Fraud
  • Innovation Changing our Market
  • Payment Insights Panel

 

Register now!


  1. CANADIAN SMES ARE SHIFTING STRATEGIES TO DRIVE GROWTH AMID DECLINING FORECASTS

Source: American Express (9/18)

 

Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are forecasting slower revenue and profit growth this year, according to the third annual American Express Global SME Pulse Survey. When asked about revenue projections, only 6 per cent of SMEs forecasted a 5.1-10 per cent growth rate, a significant decline from 2018 where 28 per cent of respondents forecasted the same rate. Similarly, SMEs are forecasting lower profit margins. Last year, 22 per cent of SMEs reported a 5.1-10 per cent net profit margin and in 2019 that number dropped to only 5 per cent. Despite these lower forecasts, the majority of SMEs (78 per cent) believe their role is important to the overall health of the economy. They also remain optimistic about the state of global and local economies and are putting strategies in place to drive revenue growth, increase efficiency and boost bottom lines.

 

Adapting To Meet Ever-Changing Customer Expectations

 

According to the survey, 61 per cent of SMEs say their customers are demanding new or tailored products and services, and 61 per cent also agree that understanding customer demands is important for revenue growth. While adapting to these evolving needs can be challenging, businesses are making it a long-term priority. In fact, 71 per cent of SMEs agree they will work hard to address the challenges associated with changing demands over the next three years.

 

“From declining profit margins to shifting customer demands, today’s SMEs face pressures that are no doubt putting a strain on their business,” said Paul Roman, Vice President and General Manager of Global Commercial Services, American Express Canada. “Despite these challenges, Canadian SMEs are resilient and it’s clear from our study they’re staying nimble and making strategic shifts to drive future growth.”

 

Investing In Technology To Boost Bottom Lines

 

Canadian SMEs are looking to harness the power of new technology to boost their bottom lines. According to the survey, 40 per cent of SMEs agree using technologies to redesign products and services is important for revenue growth. Likewise, just under two-thirds (62 per cent) say digital technology provides them with new business opportunities. The survey also found that using new technology to understand customer needs is a growing priority for SMEs. While only 27 per cent of SMEs say they use technology and tools to analyze customer data today, over half (51%) agree they plan to leverage them in the next three years.

 

Improving Operational Efficiency With New Tools

 

SMEs are also focused on boosting their bottom lines with new strategies to increase operational efficiency. In the long-term, 61 per cent of SMEs agree they are implementing cost-saving programs to maximize efficiency over the next three years. Canadian SMEs are also relying on technology to help drive efficiencies. In fact, 38 per cent of SMEs say they plan to prioritize technology to modernize processes and 35 per cent agree they plan to incorporate workplace productivity tools, both over the next three years. While it is clear SMEs are facing challenges, they are making strategic changes to meet evolving customer needs, harness new technology and improve efficiency to boost revenue this year and thrive in 2020 and beyond.

 

About Global SME Pulse Survey

 

In October and November 2018, Oxford Economics surveyed senior executives at 3,000 SMEs ranging in size from 10 to 250 employees across 12 countries and 16 industries. Telephone interviews were used to explore opportunities and threats, business prospects, strategies, investments and how SMEs could be better supported by changes to regulation, financing and government support.

 


  1. CENTRAL 1 GOES GLOBAL WITH NEW ‘INTERNATIONAL TRANSFERS’ PRODUCT, SIMPLIFYING CROSS-BORDER TRANSACTIONS FOR CANADIANS

Source: Central 1 Credit Union (9/11)

 

Central 1 goes global with new ‘International Transfers’ product, simplifying cross-border transactions for Canadians. A leading digital solution, International Transfers enables Canadians to easily, seamlessly move money cross border, 24/7 through their credit union. Central 1 today announced the nationwide launch of its newest product, ‘International Transfers’—a made-in-Canada solution for Central 1 clients that gives Canada’s credit union members the ability to move money cross-border any day, at any time.

 

Until today’s launch, the choice for Canadians has been limited to bank offerings that are time-consuming, restrictive and cost-prohibitive – with poor exchange rates, high fees and costly transfer delays. The launch of International Transfers has the potential to immediately impact four million Canadians, and arms credit unions with a competitive advantage—enabling seamless cross-border, multi-currency payments that few large financial institutions offer in Canada.

 

“Canadians are increasing thinking globally and so is Central 1. Using proprietary technology developed by our strategic partners, Agility Forex, dba. AFL International Transfers – the International Transfers product has transformed the way that Canadians are able to move funds through a simple, digital-first product,” said Brian Raine, Product Owner and VP, Treasury of Central 1. Stacked against the competition that charges on average $25 per transfer, the new service provides credit unions with a zero-dollar base cost for transfers above $500 CAD, a low fee of $2.50 for lower transfers, and no transfer limits.

 

Globally, this product puts Central 1 clients step-in-step with the $900 billion global business, with Canada’s credit unions accounting for $18.2 billion in global transactions in 2018 alone. This number continues to grow and with that Central 1 has recognized the need for a convenient, cost- and time-efficient, and competitive product – whether for travel, education, employment or buying a holiday home. Canadian credit unions, like Sunshine Coast Credit Union and Khalsa Credit Union, welcome the product that is set to transform the way their members move money internationally.

 

“International Transfers will empower our members to make streamlined international transfers 24/7 through our trusted online banking platform. As a member-focused organization, we are committed to providing innovative solutions to our members,” said Shelley McDade, CEO of Sunshine Coast Credit Union. Hardeep Bains, COO of Khalsa Credit Union said, “Many of our members are newcomers to Canada and need to send money back home, which usually requires a visit to a branch. Being able to send funds from the convenience of your home through International Transfers is a game changer.”

 

Product advantages include:

  • 24/7 access through online banking
  • Access to extremely competitive live exchange rates
  • Low transaction fees to move funds internationally – $2.50 standard fee, with a $0 fee for transfers exceeding $500
  • No limit to the amount sent
  • Next day settlement in North America, and within just two days internationally
  • Dedicated support through online chat, email, and phone
  • Cost-free implementation – no set-up costs, no licensing fee, and no operational costs

 


  1. WHAT DOES FACEBOOK'S LIBRA MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF COMMERCE AND CURRENCY?

Source: Forbes (9/19)

 

The euro. The yen. The pound. The almighty dollar. In most economies, the currency is the anchor that holds it all together. But this age-old concept is one we mistakenly take for granted as decentralized cryptocurrencies enter the global stage.  Think about it this way: The traditional definition of capitalism is economic cooperation amongst strangers for mutual benefit. Increasingly, blockchain technology is redefining that for the 21st century. We're now living in an era when a single company can be wealthier and control more global commerce than a major government. All this is happening at a time when the U.S. is saddled with billions of dollars in runaway debt, and the dollar’s global influence hangs perilously in the balance. To me, it seems like the perfect storm.

 

The timing is right for Facebook’s libra and similar cryptocurrencies to become far more influential than anyone — or any politician or any government — ever imagined. Libra is Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency and is already backed by several large financial companies. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, world governments have been sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the regulation and oversight of such digital currencies. Yes, the Fed and officials from 26 other countries have had an initial meeting, but where do we go from here?

 

Historically, governments only give a cursory look at potential disruptive technologies and concepts, and only get involved once major problems crop up. We saw this happen most recently during the 2008 Great Recession — it wasn’t until a global market meltdown left economies crippled that governments finally stepped in to create regulation. In much the same way, the meteoric rise of cryptocurrency and the widespread use of blockchain technology isn’t warranting much global discussion. At the recent G7 summit in France this August, cryptocurrency was nowhere to be found on the agenda, yet I'd argue that it’s an issue that could one day be just as important as climate change. I can foresee a day — and I would hope that some of our world’s leaders can, too — when a cryptocurrency like libra becomes the major mode of world commerce. When that happens, governments and central banks may be shut out of the currency regulation process altogether. And if central banks suddenly no longer have a role to play, the world economy could be sent into freefall. Looking at these concerns through the lens of 2019 may make them sound a little far-fetched. But keep in mind that everyone thought Michael Burry and John Paulson were crazy when they bet against the U.S. housing market in 2007.

 

Don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of potential positives as cryptocurrency comes into its own. Today, billions of people in third world countries have no access to banks. Our global financial system is, in reality, not global; rather it’s a patchwork of institutional and governmental systems that often results in high fees and slow transactions. I understand why people are fed up and looking for a “better way,” that will truly connect everyone on the planet with access to the internet. With libra, Facebook is offering a new approach to anyone who can open a virtual wallet — it’s easy and enticing. And whatever country or corporation can connect billions of people globally will surely be the winner in this century’s trade wars.

 

Currently, the association of corporations involved in developing libra is 28-member companies strong, and the number is expected to grow to more than 100 by its inception. Heavyweights like Visa, Uber, Vodaphone have already signed on. When you think about just how much economic power libra will have behind it, it’s easy to see how its influence could disrupt the American economy. Just think about the size of Facebook's current network alone — 2.13 billion users — and then add to that its alignment with many of the world’s largest companies. The currency will be immediately and systemically important from the day it launches.

 

And although every world leader should be taking notice and action, in many ways, China (home of some of the world’s biggest digital payment systems, including WeChat Pay and Alipay) has the most to lose by not being at the forefront of this sea change. When the world switches to libra, it could easily cause a revolution in a country where Facebook, Google, and many forms of cryptocurrency are banned.  My message to politicians in all countries is clear: we all need to get on the same page in terms of how to coordinate and regulate cryptocurrencies, and we need to start now. Yes, the rules we write today will certainly evolve in tandem with the technology, but the unknowns ahead are not sufficient reason to avoid setting rules in the first place.

 

One good place to start would be with a constitutional bill of rights that would eliminate the risk that a single company or a group of companies could have a larger impact on central banks and global commerce than governments themselves.  Zuckerberg, we (mostly) love what you’ve built. Your properties have helped make the world a smaller place. But no one wants to see libra evolve into a shadow bank and a destabilizing controller of global commerce. I doubt that even the staunchest capitalists among us want a world in which Facebook is suddenly more important to the economy than the U.S government.


Where are payments headed in Canada? What are the key considerations you should be focusing on now? Join us at the ACT Canada Forum as our panel of payment thought leaders discuss this and more! 

 


  1. WOMEN IN PAYMENTS ANNOUNCES 2019 AWARD WINNERS

Source: Newswire (9/19)

 

Exceptional women in the Canadian payments industry were recognized at the Women in Payments Awards. Women in Payments recognized exceptionally talented leaders and rising stars in the payments industry at the eighth annual Women in Payments Symposium in Toronto on September 18. The awards were presented to outstanding payments professionals, with recipients commended for their leadership, innovation, commitment to strengthening the industry and for advocating the success of women in the payments ecosystem.

 

"We are thrilled with this year's six incredibly talented winners. Women in Payments has been recognizing the outstanding work of payment leaders and innovators since 2014. The awards are a chance to celebrate and recognize the achievements of the women and men who pave the way for rising stars across the payments industry," said Kristy Duncan, Founder and CEO of Women in Payments. "Congratulations to all the nominees!"

 

The awards, across six categories, went to:

  • Rising Star, Daniela Carnevale Aubry, CIBC
  • Innovation, Elena Litani, nanopay
  • Thought Leader, Rania Llewellyn, Scotiabank
  • Advocate for Women, John Cowan, CIBC
  • Inspiration, Grace Caputo, Payment Source
  • Distinguished Payments Professional, Suzan Denoncourt, Ingenico

 

More about the awards and winners:

The Women in Payments Rising Star Award recognizes emerging talent in the Canadian payments industry. The award pays tribute to women who demonstrate leadership, professional excellence, and a commitment to motivating others to make a positive impact on the payments ecosystem. This year, the award was presented to Daniela Carnevale Aubry, CIBC, for her keen ability to think strategically, her collaborative leadership style, her outstanding mentorship of others, and her passion for payments.

 

The Women in Payments Award for Innovation is presented to a woman who has promoted payments innovation through creativity and vision. This year the award was presented to Elena Litani, nanopay, for her leadership in blockchain and national identity initiatives. She was a valuable contributor to Project Jasper, a central bank digital cash and settlement using blockchain, and was also integral to TD's innovative national identity project known as Verified.Me.

 

The Women in Payments Award for Thought Leader is presented to a woman who actively helps shape the future of the payments industry, through leadership in industry fora, and for actively contributing to the payments debate in the Canadian or global payments ecosystem. This year, the award was presented to Rania Llewellyn, Scotiabank, for her outstanding work driving the country's payments modernization across multiple industry fora, as well as her leadership in driving Scotiabank's digital transformation. Rania has also been a leader in supporting newcomers to Canada, through her support for mentoring programs as well as helping to establish dedicated banking programs.

 

The Women in Payments Award for Advocate for Women goes to a man or a woman who actively contributes to the advancement and development of women, and publicly celebrates the work and accomplishments of women in the workplace. This year, the award was presented to John Cowan, CIBC, who is known as a very strong proponent of female talent, and as a passionate advocate for gender-balanced leadership and workplace inclusion.

 

The Women in Payments Award for Inspiration goes to a woman who inspires people to reach great heights of performance and success. She drives vision, exudes positivity, and inspires greatness and growth in others. This year, the award was presented to Grace Caputo, Payment Source, for her ability to deliver what she commits to, ability to inspire her team to follow her vision, and her passion for mentoring and passing her hard-won knowledge and experience on to others.

 

The Women in Payments Award for Distinguished Payments Professional is a lifetime achievement award that recognizes a woman who is an acknowledged trendsetter, role model, and a strong contributor to the overall positive image of the industry. This year, this award was presented to Suzan Denoncourt, Ingenico, for her outstanding leadership in creating new business models, building strategic partnerships, and driving world-class new solutions in payments and secure identity. Her expertise garners the respect of the industry, and her input is regularly sought by government officials and industry bodies. Suzan is a strong advocate for mentorship, supporting a number of internal and external mentorship initiatives. Suzan's leadership and tireless dedication to driving payments innovation throughout her career exemplify the qualities of a distinguished payments professional.

 

 

  • Congratulations to all of the winners! Suzan Denoncourt is the Chair of ACT Canada’s Board of Directors and Elena Litani is a speaker at the ACT Canada Forum; please visit https://www.actcda.com/act-canada-forum/

  1. GIG ECONOMY BANKING IS BOOMING (AND BANKS ARE MISSING THE BOAT)

Source: Forbes (9/23)

 

Established banks are finally waking up to the opportunity to bank the gig economy. No wait, that's not true. They're not waking up to it--they're getting hit upside the head with it. Recent articles on the topic include:

  • Fixing the Banking and Payment Needs of the Gig Economy. According to this article, "The so-called gig economy [is] getting a lot of attention these days from the fintech and payments industry. Workers who don’t receive a regular paycheck will often find getting approved for banking services through a traditional provider doesn’t always work."
  • The Challenger Banks Catering to Gig-Economy Workers. One freelance consultant is quoted as saying "If you’re a true sole proprietor or freelancer, there are not a lot of options out there.” with article going on to say that "he is just one of several gig-economy workers who felt their banks failed them and set out to create an alternative."
  • How Fintech is Changing Financial Services for Gig Economy Workers. The article states that "small but growing number of fintech companies have been responding to the changing workforce with solutions meant to help them manage the ups and downs of their money."

 

How Many Gig Economy Workers Are There?

 

Articles about the gig economy often include estimates of the millions or bazillions of people who are gig economy workers. The estimates are all over the map. On one hand, a 2017 survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) concluded that, at the time, there were "approximately 1.6 million workers using apps and online platforms to find gig work, or about 1% of the total employed workforce."

 

That's a narrow definition, however, as just 60% of gig economy workers use a digital marketplace to find opportunities according to pymnts.com. In fact, a survey from the US Census Bureau found that that between 657,000 and 4.6 million people may have been uncounted in the BLS estimate. On the other hand, however, an article here on Forbes reported: "More than one third (36%) of US workers are in the gig economy, which works out to a very large number of approximately 57 million people." Another source, the Gig Economy Index™ from pymnts.com, says that nearly 40% of the American workforce makes at least 40% of their income via gig work, and that 55% of gig workers also maintain full-time or "regular" jobs.

 

So, is it 6 million or 57 million? From a banking perspective, the numbers don't matter.

 

Why is This a Growing Opportunity in Banking?

 

Other large consumer segments (e.g., women and African-Americans) have been the focus of fintech startups, but those efforts have gained little traction. Why? Those segments don't have unique banking needs. Successfully serving a niche segment of the market requires that segment to have unique banking needs, behaviors, or attitudes that a provider can serve. As much as you might like to argue it, the market has not proved that demographic segments (like gender or ethic groups) have unique banking needs. Gig economy workers do, however, have unique banking needs that distinguish them from other consumers including: 1) Inconsistent and/or unpredictable income patterns; 2) Credit needs; 3) Health (and other) insurance needs; and 4) Tax requirements. I'm sure gig economy workers could add to that list.

 

Fintechs Serving Gig Economy Workers' Unique Needs

 

The partial list of fintechs serving (or planning to serve) gig economy workers is growing and includes:

  • Azlo is a fee-free mobile business banking provider for small businesses, freelancers and other entrepreneurs.
  • Cogni plans to serve freelancers and "side hustlers" with a checking account and debit card that offers up to 12% cash back at restaurants and retailers (hey, I want one of those), and will provide curated financial and lifestyle services on its mobile app.
  • According to American Banker, "Joust offers a deposit account and protection for freelancers against delayed payment and nonpayment through PayArmour. It also offers a merchant account that freelancers can use to process credit and debit card payments for their products and services."
  • Oxygen provides working capital to gig economy workers. Its loan process involves cash flow analysis and forecasting done by aggregating bank account and credit report data. Oxygen's banking and lending services are bundled into a membership with a flat monthly fee of $29.99.
  • Qwil focuses on providing working capital for freelancers. The startup works with marketplaces, payment providers, and human resources platforms to offer cash advances to their users. Qwil's underwriting process conducts identity verification, fraud checks, and assesses freelancers' creditworthiness by capturing data regarding a freelancer's invoicing status. The firm charges a flat fee for the advance, typically 1% of the loan amount.
  • Salaryo provides security deposit financing for new coworking office members and a flexible credit line for existing shared office tenants.
  • Steady is a platform that helps gig economy workers find jobs, seek financial advice, and find deals on things like healthcare plans and tax help.
  • Track uses machine learning to estimate and auto-remit quarterly taxes to the IRS for gig economy entrepreneurs and small business owners.

 

Why Aren't Banks Addressing The Gig Economy Segment?

 

About the only bank addressing this opportunity is nbkc bank who has invested in Track and is the bank behind Joust (and as a mostly online bank established in 1999, it might not be accurate to think of nbkc as a "traditional" bank).

 

I asked a colleague of mine (who works on a lot more strategic planning engagements than I do) if he's heard financial institutions talk about it. He said: "Nothing comes to mind.  The gig economy sometimes comes up during the discussion of external trends, but not when we talk about opportunities." Why are banks so oblivious to the opportunity? The explanation may come from relating another story from another one of my colleagues. When he asked a bank's executives if they were losing mortgages to Rocket Mortgage (which originated $32 billion in mortgages in Q2 2019), they replied, "We don't see them in our market." Duh. Of course you don't see them in your market. It's the same with competition for gig economy workers. With no (or very few) established banks and credit unions going after the segment, no institution thinks it's losing any business among that segment, and therefore, ignores the segment as a strategic opportunity.

 

Banks Are Missing Out on a Huge Opportunity

 

Ten years ago, pundits warned banks that new neo- and digital banks would eat their lunch and put them out of business. The pundits were wrong (obviously), but the reason why is important: For the most part, the newcomers didn't change the product, they only changed the access methods. And why would they have changed the product? There was no demand for a new type of product, just demand for faster and more convenient access to the existing product. But the needs of the emerging gig economy worker represents a need for a new type of financial product--or at the least, new features within the existing products. The changes in how we work are creating needs and opportunities across a wide range of products and services, not just financial services. But banks are watching this opportunity slip through their fingers.

 

It's Not Game Over For Banks

 

It's too early to call a winner in the gig economy banking space, however. Current entrants have yet to prove that: 1) their offerings are superior to what's currently available; 2) they can integrate with the wide variety of services available; and 3) they can scale their offerings.

 

And most of all, they've yet to prove that their business models are viable. But unlike other fintechs that pursued demographic-based consumer segments, going after the gig economy segment will produce more winners because of the change in banking needs that segment represents.


  1. THE 7 MOST DANGEROUS TECHNOLOGY TRENDS IN 2020 EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

Source: Forbes (9/23)

 

As we enter new frontiers with the latest technology trends and enjoy the many positive impacts and benefits it can have on the way we work, play and live, we must always be mindful and prepare for possible negative impacts and potential misuse of the technology. Here are seven of the most dangerous technology trends:

 

  1. Drone Swarms

 

The British, Chinese, and United States armed forces are testing how interconnected, cooperative drones could be used in military operations. Inspired by a swarm of insects working together, drone swarms could revolutionize future conflicts, whether it be by overwhelming enemy sensors with their numbers or to effectively cover a large area for search-and-rescue missions. The difference between swarms and how drones are used by the military today is that the swarm could organize itself based on the situation and through interactions with each other to accomplish a goal. While this technology is still in the experimentation stage, the reality of a swarm that is smart enough to coordinate its own behavior is moving closer to reality. Aside from the positive benefits of drone swarms to minimize casualties, at least for the offense, and more efficiently achieve a search-and-rescue objective, the thought of machines equipped with weapons to kill being able to "think" for themselves is fodder for nightmares. Despite the negative possibilities, there seems to be little doubt that swarm military technology will eventually be deployed in future conflicts.

 

  1. Spying Smart Home Devices

 

For smart home devices to respond to queries and be as useful as possible, they need to be listening and tracking information about you and your regular habits. When you added the Echo to your room as a radio and alarm clock (or any other smart device connected to the Internet), you also allowed a spy to enter your home. All the information smart devices collect about your habits such as your viewing history on Netflix; where you live and what route you take home so Google can tell you how to avoid traffic; and what time you typically arrive home so your smart thermostat can make your family room the temperature you prefer, is stored in the cloud. Of course, this information makes your life more convenient, but there is also the potential for abuse. In theory, virtual assistant devices listen for a "wake word," before they activate, but there are instances when it might think you said the wake word and begin recording. Any smart device in your home, including gaming consoles and smart TVs, could be the entry point for abuse of your personal information. There are some defensive strategies such as covering up cameras, turning off devices when not needed and muting microphones, but none of them are 100% foolproof.

 

  1. Facial Recognition

 

There are some incredibly useful applications for facial recognition, but it can just as easily be used for sinister purposes. China stands accused of using facial recognition technology for surveillance and racial profiling. Not only do China's cameras spot jaywalkers, but they have also monitored and controlled Uighur Muslims who live in the country. Russia's cameras scan the streets for "people of interest," and there are reports that Israel tracks Palestinians inside the West Bank. In addition to tracking people without their knowledge, facial recognition is plagued with bias. When an algorithm is trained on a dataset that isn't diverse, it is less accurate and will misidentify people more.

 

  1. AI Cloning

 

With the support of artificial intelligence (AI), all that’s needed to create a clone of someone’s voice is just a snippet of audio. Similarly, AI can take several photos or videos of a person and then create an entirely new—cloned—video that appears to be an original. It’s become quite easy for AI to create an artificial YOU and the results are so convincing our brains have trouble differentiating between what is real and what is cloned. Deepfake technology that uses facial mapping, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to create representations of real people doing and saying things they never did is now targeting "ordinary" people. Celebrities used to be more susceptible to being victims of deepfake technology because there was abundant video and audio of them to use to train the algorithms. However, the technology has advanced to the point that it doesn't require as much raw data to create a convincing fake video, plus there are a lot more images and videos of ordinary people from the internet and social media channels to use.

 

  1. Ransomware, AI and Bot-enabled Blackmailing and Hacking

 

When high-powered technology falls into the wrong hands, it can be very effective to achieve criminal, immoral, and malicious activities. Ransomware, where malware is used to prevent access to a computer system until a ransom is paid, is on the rise according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Artificial intelligence can automate tasks to get them done more efficiently. When those tasks, such as spear phishing, are to send out fake emails to trick people into giving up their private information, the negative impact could be extraordinary. Once the software is built, there is little-to-no cost to keep repeating the task over again. AI can quickly and efficiently blackmail people or hack into systems. Although AI is playing a significant role to combat malware and other threats, it's also being used by cybercriminals to perpetrate the crimes.

 

  1. Smart Dust

 

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), the size of a grain of salt, have sensors, communication mechanisms, autonomous power supplies, and cameras in them. Also called motes, this smart dust has a plethora of positive uses in healthcare, security, and more, but would be frightening to control if used for evil pursuits. While spying on a known enemy with smart dust could fall into the positive column, the invasion of a private citizen’s privacy would be just as easy.

 

  1. Fake News Bots

 

GROVER is one AI system capable of writing a fake news article from nothing more than a headline. AI systems such as GROVER create articles more believable than those written by humans. OpenAI, a nonprofit company backed by Elon Musk, created “deepfakes for text” that produces news stories and works of fiction so good, the organization initially decided not to release the research publicly to prevent dangerous misuse of the technology. When fake articles are promoted and shared as true, it can have serious ramifications for individuals, businesses, and governments.


  1. SHOPIFY DEBUTS NEW FEATURES FOR CBD MERCHANTS

Source: PYMNTS (9/17)

 

The multi-channel commerce platform Shopify is rolling out new features to help merchants sell hemp and hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products online and in physical stores wherever it is legally allowed, Shopify said in a press release on Tuesday (Sept. 17). Retailers in the U.S. can scale their businesses by merchandising select hemp or hemp-derived CBD products using the Shopify platform, which handles more than 800,000 retailers around the world.

 

“Shopify has unmatched expertise in emerging industries, along with the resources merchants need to be successful in the fast-growing market of hemp-derived CBD products in the U.S.,” said Harley Finkelstein, Shopify COO. “Shopify’s reliable technology and extensive partner network means that businesses can ride the wave of demand for these products and give consumers more choice.”

 

Shopify is striving to help U.S. sellers succeed in the flourishing but regulated CBD industry. The platform offers a host of tools to make the process easier and more profitable. Merchants can take advantage of marketing tools, payment and shipping partners and over 2,500 apps to help with inventory management, accounting and more.

 

“This is an exciting time for the CBD skincare industry. Consumers are eager to connect with us and try our Skin Dope products. Until recently, we didn’t have a simple solution to manage and sell our CBD Oil and Hemp Seed Oil assortment online,” said Roger Wason, director of eCommerce for Josie Maran Cosmetics. “Shopify has helped us focus more on our relationships with our consumers and growing our business.” Shopify has been helping merchants sell CBD products in Canada since 2018. The CBD industry continues to grow despite increasing regulatory and political scrutiny, with almost 7 percent of Americans saying they use the substance. That growth is providing opportunities for various companies involved in digital payments and commerce. For instance, Square, the digital payments company, recently said it is getting into the CBD market, launching a payment processing service for the industry.


Enabling Digital Commerce is a key component of a good customer experience – join us at the ACT Canada Forum as our experts as they explore this topic. Check out the agenda here.

  1. U.S. POSTAL TREATY EXIT WOULD HURT CANADIAN E-COMMERCE BUSINESSES

Source: CTV News (9/16)

 

U.S. President Donald Trump's push to withdraw from an international postal treaty could have a big impact on Canadian e-commerce companies and their American customers.

 

The U.S. threat to exit the Universal Postal Union in October unless more balanced shipping fees with China and other countries can be reached this month means online retailers could see direct-to-consumer delivery prices shoot up. The 145-year-old treaty, which sets the rates that nearly 200 national postal services pay one another to complete deliveries, mandates wealthier countries to pay more than developing countries, including China. Todd Coupland, an analyst at CIBC World Markets, says the Trump administration's move for the United States Postal Service to set its own rates would affect drop-shipping, which refers to retail deliveries made directly to the buyer from a manufacturer or wholesaler.

 

Many drop-shippers in Canada use Shopify Inc. as their retail platform, meaning a dip in deliveries and more shuttered online storefronts could dent Shopify's bottom line, which relies on payment-processing fees and user subscriptions. In an email, the U.S. Postal Service says it supports the goals of the Trump administration to secure a more balanced remuneration system for small goods shipments, and that it will not leave the postal treaty if better terms are set before the union's next meeting in mid-October.

 


  1. FIME RECEIVES LATEST NEXO STANDARDS ACCREDITATION

Source: FIME (9/23)

 

FIME has been authorized by PayCert to evaluate payment solution implementations against the latest nexo standards Acquirer Protocol v6.0. This completes FIME’s end-to-end portfolio of nexo standards services. It can now support nexo standards implementations with training and consultancy services, right through to the testing and the certification processes.

 

The nexo standards Acquirer Protocol standardizes the communication between the POI device and the acquirer hosts. It is utilized by banks, merchants, device manufacturers and payments processors. The protocol helps stakeholders significantly reduce implementation and system management costs, and deliver seamless interoperability across borders.

 

“Adoption of nexo standards protocols has gathered significant momentum. For our goal to bring interoperability to the acceptance ecosystem to be successful and sustainable, testing is fundamental,” comments Claude Brun, Chairman at nexo standards. “International testing labs like FIME support the expansion of nexo standards, foster innovation and speed up deployment of quality implementations. But this is just the beginning – we’re committed to delivering testing support across all protocols and look forward to FIME’s continued support.”

 

“It’s an exciting and pivotal time for nexo standards,” comments Arnaud Crouzet, Vice President, Security and Consulting at FIME, “European retailers are driving adoption, pushing global acquirers and POI vendors to keep up. We’re committed to supporting all stakeholders with the industry’s most extensive nexo standards offering. We’re offering dedicated end-to-end support with training and business consultancy, through to testing and certification. As champions of payments innovation and standardization, we look forward to contributing to the continued success of nexo standards.”

 

  • FIME is a Member of ACT Canada and a speaker at the ACT Canada Forum; please visit https://www.fime.com/

  1. THE FUTURE OF PAYMENTS: INGENICO’S 5 PREDICTIONS FOR 2020

Source: Ingenico (9/3)

 

Ingenico, analyses the disruptive trends that will transform the payment industry in the future. Voice Commerce should be part of our daily lives making it possible to pay by voice.

 

For Michel Léger, EVP Innovation at Ingenico:

“Over the past five years, consumer behaviour and expectations have radically changed the way we make and take payments: until recently, consumers still had to pay when they were asked. They had no choice. Those days are definitely behind us. Now, everyone can pay when they want, where they want, and how they want. This change in behaviour – largely driven by the switch from cash to non-cash – has led to new uses and new payment methods being created more quickly than ever, at a rate we would never have imagined only one or two years ago. Next year we might even be at a point where we can pay with our cars! For major industry players, fintechs and banks, this means a mad dash for innovation. It’s not enough anymore to just offer payment solutions that are tailored to consumers: now payments need to be taken right to them."

 

Ingenico’s 5 predictions

 

  1. Social Commerce and Voice Commerce: 2020 payment technology is already here

 

In 2020, “Social Commerce” and “Voice Commerce” are looking likely to become part and parcel of our everyday life, making it possible to pay using a chatbot on your favourite social media site, or instantly with nothing more than your voice. We’ll see more and more “Value Added Services” or “VAS” rolled out which will supplement transactions on payment terminals and offer extras for retailers and consumers, including loyalty and coupon offers that are seamlessly integrated into transactions. Gone are the days of waiting for the machine, and multiple transactions at the till – all it’ll take is a tap! Last but not least, with “PIN on Mobile” technology, mobile phones will be transformed into payment terminals – all you’ll need to do is type in your PIN code or just hold your card to a seller’s mobile. Simultaneously, various acceptance points will continue to grow.

 

Ingenico already launched Social Commerce and Voice Commerce programs and already brings secure contactless payment acceptance to mobiles and tablets.

 

  1. Paying with your fridge: the IoT revolution is go

 

The ways we use things are changing, which makes us think that very soon we’ll be able to make payments using all sorts of everyday objects: our fridges, our cars...why not our mirrors, too? It’s about how we take payments to smart objects and all the way along the digital process: the possibilities opened up by the Internet of Things are endless when you know how to integrate a secure payment system into the mix.

 

  1. Security will not be compromised as uses change

 

Consumers are aware of data use – they’re extremely vigilant and will continue to ask a lot in terms of security from new solutions on the market. Consumers are the ones who will make the rules. For payment players, these increasingly exacting security standards will require them to have faultless technical knowledge if they’re going to offer cutting-edge solutions that provide both top security and an excellent customer experience. New technological developments are likely to focus on the use of biometric authentication, the integration of mobile wallets, adapting to cryptocurrencies and the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in seamless payment security.

 

  1. Payment: a key factor in the customer experience

 

Payment is a core element of commerce and the customer experience. Consumers only want one thing from payments: they need to be effortless, or totally unobtrusive, whilst still being fully under their control. By default, this means that the experience has got to be 100% secure. The players who successfully manage to merge physical and online purchasing systems and create the best multi-channel experience will ultimately end up as the market leaders.

 

  1. Open innovation working for payment solutions of the future

 

When it comes to payments, usage is the deciding factor. To offer the solutions that consumers want and look for new areas of growth, the payment industry must be backed by the best – corporate and institutional organisations, VC, start-ups and fintechs – and be in a position to scale up trials looking at redesigning uses both with consumers and for consumers, as well as gaining the trust that is so crucial to mass adoption.

 

  • Ingenico Group Canada is a Member of ACT Canada and a sponsor at the ACT Canada Forum; please visit https://ingenico.ca/

  1. HOW INTERAC USED BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE ENERGY INCENTIVES, INSTANTLY

Source: Interac Corporation (9/15)

 

Interac leverages its payment platforms in a new and innovative way, creating a win for a green-power utility. Picture yourself a few years from now. It’s after work, and you’re pulling into the driveway in your electric car. You’re about to plug it into the charging outlet when an app pings you with a notification.

 

It’s asking: Would you be willing to wait until the middle of the night to recharge your vehicle? This will accomplish two things: First, you’ll reduce the demand on your local power grid, which relies on solar energy. Second, in exchange for agreeing, you’ll receive (for the sake of this example) $5, which will be instantly available to you via an Interac e-Transfer. Since you don’t plan to drive again until the next morning, you accept. It’s a bonus for you, a help to your energy provider — and, in the big picture, a win for the environment, because it helps make renewable power more financially viable for everyone.

 

For a group of homeowners, that scene played out in real life this spring, and Interac played a central role in making it happen.

 

Oscar Roque, AVP, Innovation, Research & Emerging Solutions for Interac, notes that the company’s platforms and products already allow millions of Canadians and Canadian businesses to make fast, secure financial transactions. In the future, he says, “We’ll need to develop even more ways to work and transact with each other in harmony.”  As the world looks for ways to combat climate change, the good news is that two key pieces of our arsenal — renewable energy generation, and low- or zero-emission vehicles and devices — are proliferating. The challenge? Co-ordinating these resources in real time so that electricity can be generated and distributed efficiently.

 

In a three-month pilot project earlier this year, Interac partnered with Alectra Utilities and IBM to test a potential solution — one that involved “real consumers, real solar panels, real batteries, real electric vehicles and real money,” Roque says. Here’s how it worked: A small test group of Alectra customers — all of whom have solar panels, electric home batteries and/or electric vehicles — downloaded an app that offered incentives to generate or consume power at certain times. If everyone followed the incentives, the efficiency of the grid would be optimized. Consumers were offered “sparks” — or tokens that could be converted into Canadian dollars. Thanks to Interac e-Transfer Autodeposit, the rewards appeared right away in customers’ bank accounts.

 

The solution used IBM blockchain software to facilitate a secure communication system behind the scenes, which enabled the various parts of the network to talk to each other. Roque spends much of his time exploring the potential of new technologies to deliver real-world benefits to Interac customers and stakeholders. For three years, he’s been working on evaluating concepts that make use of blockchain technology.

 

“We have to get a grip on how it could change our business,” he says. And among the blockchain projects Roque has seen, the Interac-Alectra-IBM partnership stands out as a “great use case.”

 

The way things typically work now, Roque explains, consumers who have solar panels can receive incentives for sharing their surplus power — but the bonuses arrive relatively slowly, in the form of credits on their energy bills. Blockchain allowed the pilot-project homeowners to receive incentives instantly and conveniently. It also created a verifiable, auditable data trail for each bit of energy produced and “spark” awarded. At Interac, Roque says, “We have a real-time payment platform. That allows you to move money quickly and conveniently. In this case, once the money is transferred, people can use Interac Debit, Interac Flash, to make a purchase at one of the nearly half million businesses on the Interac network.” With the right encouragement, the project partners learned, homeowners could be incentivized to follow energy-efficient behaviour patterns — a discovery that could have huge implications if scaled up and introduced across Canada. Looking past the energy sector, Roque believes the project demonstrates the potential of blockchain-based partnerships to deliver wins in other realms — financial services, health care, and beyond. Roque believes Interac, with its long history of bringing various stakeholders together to put new technologies into daily use, is well-poised to facilitate these partnerships.

 

“For 35 years, we have governed a number of different platforms,” Roque says. “From an innovation perspective, we think: How do you actually leverage those platforms, services, and our governance expertise to do more?”

 

  • Interac Corporation is a Member of ACT Canada and a speaker as well as a sponsor at the ACT Canada Forum; please visit https://www.interac.ca/en/

  1. AMERICAN EXPRESS TO LAUNCH OPEN BANKING PRODUCT, ENABLING UK CONSUMERS TO PAY FOR ONLINE PURCHASES WITH A BANK TRANSFER

Source: American Express (9/23)

 

First merchants to participate span diverse industries, including travel, retail, charity, and hospitality. American Express plans to launch a new product later this year that will enable UK consumers to quickly and securely pay for goods and services online and on the go, directly from their bank account. Pay with Bank transfer will be a real-time payment option available to Current Account holders at UK banks, regardless of whether they are American Express Cardmembers. American Express is partnering with a number of merchants to launch Pay with Bank transfer on their UK ecommerce sites later this year. These merchants cross multiple industries and include Hays Travel, JustGiving, Oak Furnitureland, Richer Sounds, Royal Lancaster London hotel, and Thai Airways.

 

American Express is committed to providing innovative solutions to merchants’ and consumers’ payment needs. Leveraging Open Banking regulation, Pay with Bank transfer will enable merchants to receive instant payments from all major UK banks’ Current Account holders. Consumers will be able to make online payments quickly without a Card to hand, view their bank Current Account balances prior to confirming payment, and will benefit from bank-level data security. Consumers will simply click on the Pay with Bank transfer button on the merchant’s payment page and select the bank they wish to pay from. The consumer will then be automatically redirected to the bank’s webpage or app to authenticate themselves and approve the payment details.

 

Imran Gulamhuseinwala OBE, Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) said: “It's great to see American Express seizing the potential that Open Banking can bring to companies, helping businesses offer a new method to swiftly and securely accept online payments from their customers. American Express can offer extensive payment experience, which will help to build trust in Open Banking and encourage adoption of an innovative new method of payment.” Dan Edelman, Vice President, American Express, said: “American Express is driving innovation in payments, and Pay with Bank transfer reflects our commitment to delivering choice for UK consumers and businesses through new ways to pay. Today’s announcement is another way American Express is offering digital-first solutions in our effort to be an essential part of our customers’ digital lives. We’re excited about Open Banking and the benefits this product will provide to both consumers and merchants.”

 

Keith Williams, General Manager and Head of UK and Ireland at JustGiving, said: “Over the past 19 years, JustGiving has built a special relationship and trust with its fundraisers, crowdfunders, donors and charities where every penny raised has real purpose to do more good in the world. How consumers prefer to pay has never been under so much change, scrutiny and advancement and we are pleased to be partnering with American Express to be the first giving platform to innovate through Open Banking. This will not only put us at the forefront of consumer behaviour in payment and banking innovation, it will also make giving even easier.” Open Banking is an initiative to enable people to better control their financial data.  New EU rules have been put in place to allow people to pull together their data from multiple financial institutions, and share it with third parties who they trust to gain insights and value.  The new rules also create opportunities for new payment products, including American Express’ Pay with Bank transfer. American Express intends to launch Pay with Bank transfer with its initial merchants before the end of the year, and the product will continue to roll out across additional ecommerce sites throughout 2020.

 


Want to learn more about Open Banking and the opportunities for Canadian FIs? Join us for the kick off panel at the ACT Canada Forum - take a look at the agenda here.

  1. FICO LAUNCHES FRAUD-FIGHTING AI TECH

Source: PYMNTS (9/23)

 

Credit scoring and analytics company FICO is launching the FICO Falcon X and the FICO Financial Crimes Studio to help data scientists leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help with the detection of financial crimes, according to a release by the company.

 

Falcon X is intended to help pinpoint and probe potential fraud and other financial crimes. Designed for the cloud, the solution is available on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Leveraging AML machine learning models and automated robotic processes, Falcon X removes the need for redundant alerts and helps to complete investigations more quickly.

 

“The worldwide rollout of real-time payments – including person-to-person transfers and mobile payments – has given rise to criminal threats that thrive on the fact that these payments are often irrevocable,” said Jason Keegan, who oversees the fraud line of business for FICO. “Criminals have exploited the rigid infrastructure that underpins our global financial system. This has allowed them to not only commit theft, but also [to] finance drug trafficking, human smuggling and terrorist activity. With Falcon X, we set out to help institutions detect and prevent criminal activity before the real-time transfer occurs.”

 

TJ Horan, FICO’s vice president of fraud and compliance products, said the product is something regulators across the globe have been seeking.

 

“Global regulators are encouraging financial institutions to evaluate new methods of detecting financial crimes,” Horan said. “We’re bringing to bear the orchestration of purpose-built machine learning models, contextual data and expert workflows, giving fraud and compliance teams unprecedented flexibility. We blended the latest analytic technologies with FICO’s payments and machine learning domain expertise to help banks strengthen their defenses, level the playing field and quickly operationalize capabilities that not only satisfy regulatory requirements, but also detect the earliest indications of criminal intent.”

 

FICO said the combined capabilities will help companies save a lot of money. The company believes there is about an 80 percent overlap in systems maintenance, data processing and operations of previous systems.


  1. WESTERN UNION, TRUE NORTH OFFER X-BORDER TUITION PAYMENTS

Source: PYMNTS (9/5)

 

Western Union is teaming up with TRUE North to offer students a simplified payments platform to pay tuition and expenses, Western Union said in a press release on Thursday (Sept. 5). The new process will help funds to arrive on time and in full, without hidden charges to the educational institution.

 

“We are proud to collaborate with TRUE North to integrate our payments solution into their platform,” said Roy Farah, vice president of sales for Canada, Western Union Business Solutions. “By simplifying payment tracking and reconciliation, TRUE North’s education institutions can free up valuable financial and administrative resources.” The collaboration will leverage WU GlobalPay for Students and gives students, parents and agents a chance to compare prices and review payment options before locking in exchange rates. After receipt by Western Union, payments are usually delivered to the school within 24 hours.

 

With a choice of over 70 local currencies and multiple payment methods, the solution offers users options and flexibility. People can pay with Visa, MasterCard or UnionPay without educational institutions incurring merchant fees. Users can also set up in-country bank-to-bank transfers, e-transfers, mobile e-wallets and credit cards.

 

“We are excited to integrate the Western Union GlobalPay for Students payment platform,” said TRUE North Co-Founder Jason Schaad. “The integration will save valuable time for international agents, parents and students, as well as school boards across Canada.” TRUE North said it offers a secure, multi-user, web-based system to manage information tracking, reporting and collaborative needs of international education programs. It is built from the ground up to be a hosted solution, with security and protection of student information taking highest priority. In June, Western Union partnered with Visa to expedite the movement of money globally — and digitally — across a range of use cases. Western Union is leveraging Visa Direct, the card giant’s real-time push payments platform, to offer end-users — consumers and businesses — expedited global, push-to-card transfers. The companies said in a release that the pact helps scale real-time, cross-border payments across more than 200 countries and territories, and 130 currencies.

 


  1. LEGAL CANNABIS RETAIL INNOVATES ITS WAY AROUND PAYMENTS KNOT

Source: PYMNTS (9/6)

 

Legal marijuana may have a massive payments problem, but that’s not stopping retail innovation in perhaps the newest area of legitimate commerce in the U.S. and Canada. No one would ever mistake a marijuana dispensary for a food truck, but that is what one shop in Reno, Nevada calls itself when charging customers’ credit cards.

 

Credit card statements will show that a purchase was made at the “Midgrun Eats LLC food truck, not at the Blüm Marijuana Dispensary,” the Reno Gazette-Journal reports. Experts on dispensaries say such labeling is the only way to get around federal banking regulations. No matter what state laws may say about marijuana, federal law still considers the drug illegal, and that means financial institutions and payment services providers are reluctant to take part in the industry.

 

Back Door

 

“It’s not even a back door, it’s more like an upper window,” Jeremy Skaff of Colorado-based Journey Business Solutions told the newspaper. Skaff is a marijuana business financial advisor. The label allows Blüm to take credit cards in an industry that is typically cash-only. “The more options that you give people to pay, the more business you’re going to get. No one carries cash anymore,” Skaff told the news outlet. No other dispensaries in Nevada’s Washoe County take credit cards except the six Blüm shops. Trends in legal cannabis retail are just now emerging, and fresh numbers from Colorado are providing insight into how the industry is evolving. According to a report from CNBC, Colorado, the first state to make recreational pot legal, has hit a milestone: It has “surpassed $1 billion in total cannabis-related revenue, the first state in the country to hit that milestone. Companies also have made more than $6.5 billion in sales over the last five years, with April and May of this year the highest-grossing months since legalization.”

 

Other figures also point to how much consumers are spending on legal retail pot. According to the report, “per-person sales are also highest in Colorado, with people buying, on average, $280 worth of cannabis per year compared to $220 and $130 for Washington and Oregon, respectively, the second and third states to legalize weed, according to Scott Willis, head of research at Grizzle, a New York-based investment research company.” The report said Colorado “had 2,917 licensed marijuana businesses and 41,076 individuals licensed to work in the industry as of June.”

 

The industry is seeking to essentially rebrand itself into something clean, safe and even suburban — no more sketchy dealers, no more fear those the police sirens might start screeching as one buys this particular product. Evidence of that comes not only from ongoing attempts to bring a luxury retail feel to the cannabis market, but the strong role of women entrepreneurs in helping to drive the early growth of this new segment of retail. Women have become involved in all facets of the legal cannabis operations across the United States and Canada.

 

Big Retail

 

Size also matters in this young industry. According to one recent report, a 13,000-square-foot legal retail dispensary in that city includes a “pizzeria and coffee house to attract customers who don’t partake in the now-legal herb.” Not only that, but “it offers an Apple Store-like atmosphere, with sleek modern decor, digital projections and motion-sensor displays, and friendly associates toting iPads.” In fact, the report continued, “foot traffic has averaged 2,465 people per day since the beginning of 2019, but nearly a third of visitors don’t avail themselves of the bud, vape and edibles on sale.” The owners designed the store not so much as a destination for cannabis consumers but a general tourist destination — a model that could be imitated in other tourist hotspots as more states legalize marijuana for recreational use.

 

It’s something to watch a young industry develop — look for more retail innovation even as the payments part of the equation continues to be a challenge.


  1. GOOGLE TIGHTENS UP PRIVACY CONTROLS FOR ASSISTANT VOICE RECORDINGS

Source: Forbes (9/23)

 

After concern over the way Google handles voice recordings from Google Assistant, the company has announced sweeping changes to its data retention policy. Earlier this summer, it was revealed that company staff were listening in to, and transcribing, Assistant queries made via Home and other devices. The row has been part of a broader scandal, with Amazon and Apple being similarly called out.

 

Amazon has already improved its privacy controls and added a feature allowing users to ask for their data to be deleted; Apple has similarly tightened privacy and pledged not to share data with third parties. It's now Google's turn to don the hair shirt.

 

"It's clear that we fell short of our high standards in making it easy for you to understand how your data is used, and we apologize," says Google Assistant senior product manager Nino Tasca in a blog post. The company has already paused its human transcription program, following the launch of an investigation by the German data protection authority - an investigation that looked highly likely to condemn the practice.

 

However, it is still using human reviewers to listen to audio snippets when users opt in to the Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) setting, and will now make this clearer to users and allow them to opt out. Tasca says the company's also improving the security and privacy protections it uses. It's also attempting to deal with the problem of unintended activation.

 

"We understand it’s important to get this right, and will continue to focus on this area, including implementing additional measures to help us better identify unintentional activations and exclude them from the human review process," says Tasca.

 

"Soon we’ll also add a way to adjust how sensitive your Google Assistant devices are to prompts like “Hey Google,” giving you more control to reduce unintentional activations, or if you’d prefer, make it easier for you to get help in especially noisy environments." It remains to be seen whether users will actually take advantage of these settings: it seems a fair bet that most will just go along with the default. But the move should at least help Google stave off censure by regulators in Europe and elsewhere.


  1. DOUUGH LAUNCHES “SAVINGS JARS” SERVICE AND EXPANDS ACCESS TO MASTERCARD DEBIT CARD IN THE U.S.

Source: MasterCard (9/19)

 

Disruptive consumer fintech company, Douugh, is expanding the rollout of its ‘Freemium’ subscription product, a smart bank account with a MasterCard debit card, to its growing U.S waitlist, with the launch of its ‘Savings Jars’ feature, which is designed to help Douugh users to visualize and track individual savings goals. Douugh

 

With over 83.1 million millennials in the United States, making them the largest generation in the country’s history, Douugh plans to offer the new financial powerhouse generation a banking platform that meets their ever-changing expectations. Douugh’s core mission is to help people become financially healthy, educating and assisting them to spend less, pay off debt, save more, and build wealth.

 

“Seventy percent of Americans live pay-check to pay-check and do not have $1,000 in savings. The launch of ‘Savings Jars’ and specifically the launch of our default ‘Rainy Day’ jar feature, will help our customers live financially healthier by getting them to save up to $1,000 as cover for unexpected expenses, or achieve a specific saving goal like a deposit for a home,” said Founder & CEO of Douugh, Andy Taylor. “Leveraging AI, this new feature encourages people to foster financial wellness and focus on reducing their reliance on short-term debt in the form of buy now pay later services or credit cards, whilst saving for the long-term, ultimately changing their views and habits around money.”

 

“Douugh is a disruptive financial technology platform that uses AI to help people change their relationship with money. The future of banking lies in operating a software-as-a-service model, Douugh does not operate a banking model, reliant on selling traditional debt products. We want to be exclusively focused on fostering financial wellness for our customers’’, Taylor says. Earlier this year, Douugh forged a global partnership with MasterCard to issue a co-branded Douugh debit card in the U.S., enabling Douugh members to use the debit card and embrace smart spending wherever a MasterCard is accepted. Now harnessing the power of AI and the new ‘Savings Jars’ service, cardholders will be able to leverage Douugh’s personal finance assistant to monitor spending and saving.

 

”We are excited to see our partnership with Douugh grow and provide consumers with innovative products and solutions they need to reach their personal savings goals,” said Sherri Haymond EVP, Digital Partnerships, North America, MasterCard. “Working with Douugh, we continue to empower consumers to be financially responsible providing visibility and control over their funds.” Douugh plans to further expand on the platform with the launch of a ‘Premium’ subscription service with enhanced AI money management features, cash rewards, investment jars next year, continuing to help people better manage their money to foster financial wellness.

 


  1. WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESSES ARE GROWING 2X FASTER ON AVERAGE THAN ALL BUSINESSES NATIONWIDE

Source: American Express (9/23)

 

The number of women starting part-time businesses, often referred to as “sidepreneurs,” is growing nearly twice as fast as the overall growth of women entrepreneurs over the past five years. The ninth annual state of women-owned businesses report finds firms owned by women of colour grew at more than double the rate of all women-owned businesses. Women-owned businesses continue to fuel the economy and now represent 42% of all businesses — nearly 13 million — employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion. According to the annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express in 2019, these U.S. women with diverse ethnic and geographic backgrounds started an average of 1,817 new businesses per day in the U.S. between 2018 and 2019, down only slightly from the record-setting 2018 number of 1,821.

 

The annual report, based on U.S. Census Bureau data adjusted by Gross Domestic Product data, found that women-owned businesses continue to trend above all businesses. Over the past five years:

  • The number of women-owned businesses increased 21%, while all businesses increased only 9%.
  • Total employment by women-owned businesses rose 8%, while for all businesses the increase was far lower at 1.8%.
  • Total revenue for women-owned businesses also rose slightly above all businesses: 21% compared to 20% respectively.
  • “The face of entrepreneurship is evolving to include all women, regardless of demographics. Even more impressive is that women are starting businesses on their own terms – whether it be their full-time focus or a part time activity,” said Courtney Kelso, Senior Vice President of American Express. “The economic impact of women-owned businesses is undeniable, from the trillions they contribute via revenue to the millions of jobs they provide. We are committed to backing these women entrepreneurs because when they win, we all win.”

 

Side-hustle: women entrepreneurs – the ultimate multitaskers?

 

As work trends shift towards side hustles and the gig economy, so does female entrepreneurship. This year’s report examines how part-time entrepreneurship, often referred to as “sidepreneurship,” is providing additional options to traditional employment and entrepreneurship for women.

 

Over the last five years, growth in the number of women sidepreneurs has grown at a rate that is nearly twice as fast as the overall growth in female entrepreneurship: 39% compared to 21%, respectively. Minority women are responsible for a large portion of that growth from 2014-2019 where we see sidepreneurship among minority women-owned businesses two times higher than all businesses: 65% compared to 32%, respectively.

 

When looking at specific minority groups over the last five years, growth in side entrepreneurship is up:

  • 99% among African American women
  • 70% among Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women
  • 63% for Asian American women
  • 46% for Latina/Hispanic women
  • 36% among Native American/Alaska Native businesswomen

 

Women Of Colour Are Starting Businesses At A Remarkable 4.5 Times The Rate Of All Businesses

 

In almost every category, women of colour are leading the women-owned business charge.  Women of colour represent 39% of the total female population in the U.S. but account for 89% of the net new women-owned businesses per day (1,625) over the past year. While the number of women-owned businesses grew 21% from 2014 to 2019, firms owned by women of colour grew an astounding 43% and African American women-owned firms grew even faster at 50%. As of 2019, women of colour account for 50% of all women-owned businesses. An estimated 6.4 million women of colour-owned businesses employ nearly 2.4 million people and generate $422.5 billion in revenue. But, even as new minority-owned businesses are opening, the revenue disparity is increasing. In 2014, minority-owned businesses averaged $67,800 in revenue; by 2019 the average had dropped to $65,800, a decline of 3%.

 

African American women-owned businesses represented the highest rate of growth of any group in the number of firms between 2014 and 2019 as well as between 2018 and 2019. They started 42% of net new women-owned businesses, which is three times their share of the female population (14%). The report estimates that if revenues generated by minority women-owned firms matched those currently generated by all women-owned businesses, they would add four million new jobs and $981 billion in revenues to the U.S. economy.

 

Industry Trends

 

Over half of all women-owned businesses are concentrated in three industries:

  • Other services (e.g., hair and nail salons and pet care businesses) accounted for 22% of all women-owned businesses (2.8 million firms).
  • Healthcare and social assistance (including child day care and home healthcare services) accounted for 15% of all women-owned businesses (1.9 million firms).
  • Professional/scientific/technical services (including lawyers, bookkeepers, architects, public relations firms and consultants) accounted for 13% of all women-owned businesses (1.6 million firms).

While these industries have the most women-owned businesses, they don’t produce the most revenue. The three industries in which women-owned businesses have the highest total revenue are wholesale trade (17%), retail trade (14%) and professional, scientific and technical services (10%).

 

Women-Owned Businesses Are Successful Across The Country

 

The report analyzes geographic trends for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

 

The states with the largest growth in number of women-owned firms in 2019 are:

  1. Michigan
  2. Georgia
  3. Florida
  4. South Carolina
  5. Nevada

 

Between 2014 and 2019, the top states where women-owned businesses increased their economic clout — defined as growth in the number of firms and growth in employment and revenue — are:

  1. Georgia
  2. Oregon
  3. Idaho (tie)
  4. Nevada (tie)
  5. South Dakota

 

The top metropolitan areas where women-owned businesses increased their economic clout from 2014 to 2019 are:

  1. Detroit, MI
  2. Charlotte, NC/SC
  3. Atlanta, GA
  4. Austin, TX
  5. San Antonio, TX

 

The states showing the highest employment vitality - a measure of employment growth rate from 2014 to 2019 at women-owned firms and their average number of employees are:

  1. Maine
  2. Minnesota
  3. Indiana
  4. Delaware (tie)
  5. Virginia (tie)

 

Methodology

 

This 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express is based on data from the United States Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners (SBO), which is conducted every year in years ending in two and seven. Data from the 2012 Census surveys were collated, analyzed and extrapolated forward to 2019, factoring in relative changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) not only nationally but also at industry, state and metropolitan statistical area levels. All GDP data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (bea.gov).

 

Specifically, the report compared growth in GDP from 2012 to Q4 2018 ($16.2 to $20.9 trillion). Relative annual growth rates were then used to estimate the growth in the number of firms over the 2012 to 2019 period thus adjusting a straight-line extrapolation to account for relative economic growth between the two time periods. This was done not only at the national level, but also by applying actual gross state, metro area and industry-level output figures (which were available up to the fourth quarter of 2018).

 

The sidepreneurship projections are based on 2007 and 2012 SBO data for women who work fewer than 20 hours per week on their own businesses. Data was collected, analyzed and extrapolated forward to 2019, factoring in weighted relative changes in women-owned firms by race and ethnicity. The adjustment factors used to project the number of sidepreneur women consider the growth rate between 2012 and 2019 of the number of firms owned by women by ethnic group.

 


  1. PROBLEM THAT WOULD TAKE 10,000 YEARS FOR NORMAL PC IS SOLVED IN FOUR MINUTES

Source: SkyNews (9/21)

 

A quantum computer can carry out a single calculation that no conventional computer would be capable of within a reasonable time. A paper by Google's researchers was briefly posted on a NASA website. Researchers at Google have created a computer that can carry out calculations way beyond the reach of traditional computers, it has been reported.

 

The scientists say it marks the achievement of something called "quantum supremacy". Quantum supremacy is when a special device, called a quantum computer, can carry out a single calculation that no conventional computer would be capable of within a reasonable time. According to the Financial Times, the quantum computer - called Sycamore - worked out whether an algorithm produced a genuinely random sequence of numbers.

 

It took three minutes and 20 seconds to come up with an answer - something the most powerful commercially available conventional computer would have taken about 10,000 years to do. The FT said a paper by Google's researchers was briefly posted on a NASA website announcing the breakthrough before being removed. "To our knowledge, this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor," the FT quoted the paper as saying. Quantum computers are engineered to use a principle in quantum physics - that at the subatomic level matter does not exist in finite states.

 

Conventional computers, meanwhile, break down information into a digital state - with all numbers made up of a collection of 0s and 1s - two finite states. Because quantum computers are not restricted to designs that require two states, they can potentially operate much faster when dealing with some problems. In theory, information can be processed more quickly when it does not have to be made up of binary 0s and 1s. The problem is that some quantum computers need particular conditions in order to function, such as temperatures lower than those found in space.

 

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, says quantum computing is one of three emerging technologies that will radically reshape the world, along with artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality. Experts say quantum developers will enable major leaps forward in fields such as AI, materials science, agriculture and medicines. A handful of quantum computers have been developed, including a commercially available series by D Wave. Steve Brierley, founder of quantum software start-up Riverlane, told the FT: "It's a significant milestone, and the first time that somebody has shown that quantum computers could outperform classical computers."

 

Google is so far yet to comment.


  1. EXCLUSIVE: FROM CRYPTOKITTIES TO CARDI B: WARNER MUSIC JOINS $11 MILLION INVESTMENT IN ETHEREUM REPLACEMENT

Source: Forbes (9/12)

 

Dapper Labs just signed a deal with the parent company of Cardi B’s label, Warner Music, to offer fans unique digital assets on a new blockchain. Now that Warner Music Group has mastered streaming, generating $2 billion in revenue from the technology, the music giant behind Cardi B, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars has set its sights on blockchain, joining an $11.2 million investment in Dapper Labs, best known for making the viral blockchain game, CryptoKitties.

 

In December 2017, CryptoKitties, which lets users combine (breed, as they call it) unique digital representations of kittens and trade them, almost broke ethereum when it single-handedly caused transactions on the public ethereum blockchain to explode overnight. If the transaction volume issues can be solved, according to Warner Music senior vice president of business development Jeff Bronikowski, the CryptoKitties technology, which is similar to bitcoin but for other digital assets, could be adapted to create unique, tradable merchandise featuring the company’s roster of superstar talent.

 

So as part of the investment from Andreessen Horowitz, Digital Currency Group, Union Square Ventures, Venrock and others, Bronikowski says Warner Music’s blockchain team will work with Dapper Labs to create digital assets using a new public blockchain revealed today, called Flow, that is capable of handling transaction volumes many times more than ethereum, even while expanding on a number of the company’s other blockchain projects. At stake is not only the success of Dapper Labs itself, but the pole position in a rapidly escalating competition to build economies that blur the line between digital assets and the real world, and the virtual world and real assets. “The main goal is to create new avenues where the fans of our artists can explore their fandom,” says Bronikowski, who oversees Warner Music’s innovation group, “and engage with the artists in new and different ways that they haven't done before.”

 

In exchange for this round of fundraising, to be spent exclusively on finishing the Flow blockchain and building apps on it, the accredited investors will receive a traditional cut of company stock, but with an additional option to convert the securities into tokens that can be spent on the network after the company receives approval from the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). Existing investors Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and David Pakman of Venrock are already on Dapper’s board, and no other seats are being created as part of the investment.

 

While contributed less than $1 million to the convertible security, the media giant’s presence is notable for the size of the audience at its disposal. Last year Warner Music Group generated $4 billion revenue from projects including partnerships negotiated by Bronikowski with both Facebook and Instagram, letting the social media giants use music and images from Warner artists. Dapper is Warner Music’s first blockchain investment. Warner’s partnership with Dapper started in May when the music giant’s global digital business manager, Tiago Correia, met with the Dapper team at the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam and struck up a conversation about how blockchain could be used to directly connect the music giant’s roster of artists with their fans in the digital world. For example, the video game Fortnite recently approached 250 million inhabitants of its virtual world, and research firm eMarketer estimates that 57 million Americans will visit similar virtual reality worlds every month by 2021. By using Dapper Lab’s new Flow blockchain to prove the authenticity of a unique digital object (also known as a non-fungible token) such as digital album art signed by the real Cardi B, those objects will be able to accrue real value.

 

“When I was in college, you’d walk into someone’s room and you’d see 200 CDs and you would say, ‘That guy’s a big music fan.’ And now you just see somebody with a music subscription service and some playlists,” says Bronikowski. “We think that as people spend more time crafting their persona in the digital realm, digital goods and collectibles is a great way to express that fandom.” In addition to Warner’s work with non-fungible tokens, the media company is looking into how cryptocurrency could be used to let fans tip its favorite artists, and testing two different blockchain platforms for directly connecting musicians with their fans without the need of intermediary distributors. New York-based Dot Blockchain Media links audio files and visual artwork together into a virtual album that can be transferred to a new owner along with proof of ownership. London-based Jaak is building a  platform for the entire music industry to track metadata about who owns the rights to a song, how they can use it and when it was purchased.

 

But for Dapper Labs, based in Vancouver, Canada, the potential benefits of using a blockchain are much bigger than music. The company started in February 2018 as a way to demonstrate how non-fungible tokens can enable a new world of blockchain applications. While bitcoin rose to popularity by enabling exchanges of fungible tokens, meaning each unit is identical, non-fungible tokens can be coded to represent a wide range of assets. In May 2018 a CryptoKitty named “Celestial Cyber Dimension” sold at auction for $140,000. The average CryptoKitty sells for much less, at about $2.05, and total weekly volume is about $12,500, according to markets data site, NonFungible.com. While the total market cap for cryptocurrencies is about $260 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com, the total market cap for non-fungible tokens is estimated at only $101 million, led by ethereum-based Decentraland, which makes up the lion’s share of the value with an $85 million market cap, followed by CryptoKitties at a distant second with $5.3 million, according to NonFungible.com.

 

“Non-fungible tokens will become the underpinnings for provenance of several real-world assets,” says NonFungible.com president Daniel Kelly. “For example, artwork copyright, the deed to your home, the certificate of authenticity for your wedding rings or your university diploma would all be prime candidates of non-fungible tokenization.”

 

Dapper Labs started as a project within Axiom Zen, a blockchain startup incubator. After the company’s flagship product, CryptoKitties, exploded onto the ethereum scene in 2017, quickly becoming the most used decentralized application (an application run directly on a blockchain, called a dapp), the company spun off on its own and has raised a total of  $39 million from Forbes Blockchain 50 members Google and Samsung, along with Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and others. The $11.2 million investment announced today will be used to complete and deploy Flow, a public blockchain similar to ethereum, meaning anyone will be able to build on it, and a token will be necessary to use it. In addition to the use cases being explored by Warner Music, Dapper Labs today announced partnerships with Ubisoft, the developer of  Assassin’s Creed and Animoca Brands, developing a racing game where unique cars can be bought, sold, traded and raced. The Flow blockchain will also be used in a previously announced partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to let sports fans trade memorabilia.

 

“Imagine on flow, the possibility of a platform for billions of sports fans to trade verified, authentic and limited edition digital memorabilia in real time around the world,” says Dapper CEO Roham Gharegozlou, 33, a Stanford grad turned angel investor, who is also cofounder of the company. As with bitcoin and ethereum, Flow transactions will settle in blocks. But unlike bitcoin, which settles about every ten minutes, and ethereum, which settles about every 20 seconds, Flow is expected to settle in ten seconds. While CryptoKitties usage has dropped dramatically since the glory days of 2017, when 13,600 users a day played the game, according to dappradar.com, Gharegozlou says it was the poor user experience of taking days for a transaction to settle that drove away players. To combat that, an internal Flow prototype currently running performs about 1,000 transactions per second, he says, and is expected to scale to 10,000 transactions per second by the time it launches in 2020. To reach those speeds, each node on the Flow blockchain is powered by a consensus algorithm derived from Blockchain 50 member VMware’s HotStuff, the same algorithm used by Facebook in its early work on the libra cryptocurrency. Instead of every node performing each task of reaching consensus on the network, four different types of nodes will be used.

 

Details about how the new flow cryptocurrency will be dispersed to future users are being kept behind tight lips. Options include the power-intensive process of mining, like bitcoin and its more transaction friendly cousin, litecoin; through airdrops where users are gifted an asset, like Stellar is doing with the XLM cryptocurrency; or like Facebook’s libra, pegged to more stable assets to make it less attractive as an investment, but more useful as a means of exchange. Given concerns that the SEC may someday find that some cryptocurrencies look more like securities in the underlying technology than money to be spent, striking the right balance between these options could give Dapper Labs an advantage in the rising tide of technologies designed to incentivize people to actually spend cryptocurrency.

 

“For now, the only people we’re releasing any of these details to are accredited investors under securities law exemptions,” says Gharegozlou. “The most important thing is that the token itself, once it becomes available, doesn’t become tainted in any way.” After all, if Warner Music, Ubisoft or the NBA is ever actually going to let die-hard fans use the cryptocurrency, it can’t also be a security. “Just like ethereum, you will need a token to pay for smart contracts, and we want to build the kind of network that’s built for usage, rather than speculation.”


  1. 3 WAYS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS UPROOTING SALES

Source: Forbes (9/19)

 

In 2015, Forrester caused a storm to brew when it announced that artificial intelligence (AI) would replace one million B2B sales jobs by 2020. This bold headline, however, failed to capture the entire picture. Sure, if sales reps continue to rely on age-old practices like cold calling and distributing spray-and-pray marketing collateral, their days are surely numbered. Yet, on the other hand, artificial intelligence has failed to live up to business expectations. Case in point: according to a recent white paper by Pactera Technologies and Nimdzi Insights, 85% of artificial intelligence projects fail to deliver on their intended promises to business. Artificial intelligence and human sales reps are not mutually exclusive entities. If sales reps adapt and exploit the ever-increasing capabilities of AI, they seek to gain from the emergence of AI.

 

Automating repetitive tasks

 

The majority of a sales rep’s time (63%) is consumed by non-revenue-generating activities. AI has enormous potential to free up sales reps’ time so that they can focus more effectively on selling, building relationships, and closing deals.  According to McKinsey, about half of a sales rep’s workload consists of activities that can be automated by AI. Consider, for example, time management and scheduling. Less than one third (28%) of sales reps adhere to a structured time management methodology. AI-powered scheduling and calendaring solutions go a long way in terms of transforming time management into time intelligence. Woven, for example, is an AI-powered calendar app created by Tim Campos, the former CIO of Facebook. Woven uses natural language processing to scan users’ email inboxes for signs of meeting requests. Its virtual assistant then generates suggested times to meet and sends emails to attendees to select a time option. The app even uses location data to account for travel time between meeting destinations.

 

Taking it one step further, it’s not all that hard to conceive of an app that gives sales reps recommendations as to how they should prioritize their days, depending on their chronotype. In addition to scheduling, sales reps squander hours each day on email. The majority of sales reps’ time is spent on sales technology (62.8%), with sales-related email ravaging most of their time (33.2%). AI-powered apps can liberate sales reps from living in their inboxes. Crystal Knows, for example, uses AI and natural language processing to predict customers’ personalities and, in turn, create personalized email templates that will garner the best responses. It offers sales reps recommendations for specific language and phrasing, thereby saving them a lot of time scribing emails from scratch.

 

Identifying the best leads

 

Lead scoring is at the heart of any successful demand generation strategy. Enhancing lead scoring capabilities is top-of-mind for sales and marketing professionals alike. While lead scoring methods have become more refined, we’ve only scratched the surface. Only 17% of organizations rate their lead scoring initiatives as highly effective. Today, most leads that are passed from marketing to sales are of decent quality, but are not sales-ready. According to research by Demand Gen, an eye-popping 70% of marketing executives believe that the leads passed to sales are of decent quality, but many are not sales-ready. The result is that sales outreach is subpar. This speaks to why 50% of sales time today is spent on unproductive prospecting.

 

Enter AI. AI can monitor an arsenal of different signals to predict a specific lead’s readiness to purchase. Research by Gleanster Research reveals that half of leads are qualified, but not yet ready to buy. AI can unearth the lucrative sales-ready leads. B2B consumers are using more channels to engage with vendors than ever before—from review sites to social media platforms to online communities. AI can mine these platforms for buying signals, couple them with demographic, firmographic, and technographic information, and pinpoint which leads are sales-ready.  It can account for nuances such as sentiment to predict buying propensity. In an ideal world, AI allows sales reps to transition from predictive to prescriptive selling by isolating why a lead is a particularly good fit.

 

Less than half of sales reps have data insights on customers’ propensities to buy. Yet, according to Harvard Business Review, companies that use AI for sales are able to increase their leads by 50%. AI helps eliminate the guesswork and empowers sales reps to focus their time most productively.

 

Enhancing customer relationships

 

A close read of Forrester’s report reveals that AI will affect different types of sales professionals differently.  For “order takers”, who process customer orders that could be filled via self-serve channels, for “explainers”, who provide buyers with information about complex products, and for “navigators”, who help buyers understand what their companies need to purchase, job loss will be 33%, 25%, and 15%, respectively. But, for “consultants”, who help buyers understand what they need to purchase and who have vast knowledge about the buyer’s company, there won’t be any job loss. In fact, this subset will witness a 10% gain in available jobs.

 

The sales reps of the future will be a different breed compared to their ancestors. They will assume the essential role of consultants and advisors, leveraging AI to gain the trust and favor of customers. 79% of business buyers say it’s very important or absolutely critical to engage with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor and who adds value to their business. With a deeper understanding of customers’ needs, sales reps will be able to have more relevant and engaging conversations with customers. With knowledge of customers’ pain points, their reasons for buying, what obstacles need to be overcome, and which decision-makers are at the table, sales reps can creatively solve complex business problems that customers face.

 

We’ve come a long way since the term “artificial intelligence” was coined in 1955. Only in our current era has the sales profession started to realize the potential of AI. Contrary to some media headlines, AI will never uproot sales professionals entirely. The sales professionals of the future will work in tandem with AI, exploiting—and embracing—its capabilities to acquire new superpowers. Businesses that combine AI with human insights witness a 66% boost in productivity and a 61% increase in customer satisfaction, according to research by Forrester. The key is the marriage between AI’s IQ and humans’ EQ.


How is AI being used to mitigate fraud and enhance the customer experience? Join us at the ACT Canada Forum as Claude Clausing explores this topic.

  1. THALES TO SAFEGUARD THAI CITIZENS’ IDENTITY WITH INNOVATIVE E-PASSPORTS

Source: Gemalto (8/27)

 

The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Thailand awarded the DGM Consortium which includes Gemalto, a member of Thales Group, the contract to supply 15 million e-passports to its citizens over the next seven years. This contract is one of the largest passport programmes for the Thales Group worldwide, and supports Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in creating a technically-advanced, high-security travel document for its citizens. By bringing superior standards of technology and enhancing local technical expertise, Thales aligns closely with the Government’s ‘Thailand 4.0’ initiative which aims to drive Thailand towards an innovation and value-based economy. In 2018, the Thai Government launched ‘Thailand 4.0’ with a vision to develop Thailand into an innovative, dynamic and value-driven economy. With this in mind, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Thailand will provide 15 million technically-advanced, high-security e-passports to Thai citizens thanks to the DGM Consortium, which includes Gemalto, a Thales Company, Data Products Toppan Forms Ltd., and MultiCert. The Thai E-passport project is the largest passport project contracted for the Group in 2019.

 

Thai citizens can look forward to a newly-designed 64-page biometric travel document which includes an e-Cover with a thin, flexible datapage made of polycarbonate as well as a window containing a second image of the citizen and a true colour UV photo. These security features ensure that the document complies with the highest standards of security recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Thai citizens will benefit from the highest level of performance of the secure embedded software for fast border crossing. Furthermore the DGM Consortium will also implement a highly secure end-to-end electronic passport system that will also strictly comply to the Personal Data Protection Act of Thailand. The current passport production capacity will increase significantly, as two active high security production sites – a Remote and a Main facility - will be established as part of the project to ensure business continuity and security for passport issuance. By providing continuous training and transfer-of-technology to develop local expertise in passport issuance, Thales is leveraging its global technological expertise to upskill the Thai workforce as it moves towards a digital future.

 

Beyond a newly-designed passport, Thai citizens will benefit from greater efficiency in registering for their passports as the project will upgrade citizen-facing enrolment operations in 22 existing managed sites throughout Thailand, as well as include an expansion plan to establish 15 new sites throughout the country, offering more service points for Thai citizens to obtain their travel documents. As a committed partner to Thailand for more than 30 years in industry sectors ranging from defence to air traffic management and to ground transportation, Thales aligns with this vision by now bringing its technology expertise in the digital identity and biometrics sector, making us a trusted partner to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs as they deliver a highly-secured and modern passport for their citizens.

 

“Having supported the ambitions of our Thai customers over the last three decades in multiple industries, Thales is strongly committed to developing local industrial capabilities in close collaboration with our partners. The Group has developed some of the world’s most sophisticated e-passports that continuously support governments’ push towards the use of biometrics to ensure quick and secure cross-border movement. Today, we are proud to add Thailand to that list and to help the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) strengthen homeland protection and improve the travel experience of Thai citizens. We look forward to close collaboration with MOFA and our partners to design and develop a superior e-passport that meets their unique requirements, and that exceeds the highest level of security recommended by ICAO.”   Massimo Marinzi, Country Director, Thales Thailand

 

  • Gemalto: A Thales Company is a Member of ACT Canada and a sponsor at the ACT Canada Forum; please visit https://www.gemalto.com/

ACT Canada helps members understand complex issues and filter truth from market noise for current and emerging commerce trends.  Through a consultative approach with all stakeholder groups, the association provides knowledge and expertise to help members leverage opportunities, confront challenges and advance their businesses. Please visit www.actcda.com or contact our office at 1 905 426-6360.

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Andrea McMullen

President | ACT Canada
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