Born on the blockchain: Irish fintech gathers pace Fintech Insights News

Born on the blockchain: Irish fintech gathers pace

News of the first baby in the world to be “born” on the blockchain was one of the world firsts for Irish fintech delivered at Ireland: A Fintech Factory, organised as part of MoneyConf 2018.

Dublin-based AID:Tech showed how its blockchain technology can help reduce the US $4.4 trillion lost each year to fraud, corruption, and a general lack of transparency, ensuring that NGOs, charities and individuals know exactly where donations go.

The Irish fintech company, set up by CEO Joe Thompson, offers digital identity issuance and verification, creating end-to-end transparency, not just of charitable donations but of remittances and welfare too.

“Using the blockchain as a funnel and translating the transaction to digital data, we’re like a data logistics company that always ensures the data gets to the right person,” said Niall Dennehy, AID:Tech’s COO.

World firsts for Irish fintech

The product helped route money to Syrian refugees in 2015. On the day of the conference, it was due to be deployed by a Dutch NGO sending maternity welfare to a pregnant woman in a Tanzanian village – a world first.

The company has scored another world first for Irish fintech by receiving state support from government agencies in two countries, Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency, and its Singaporean equivalent.

“After Stripe and Intercom, we want to be the next unicorn out of Dublin,” said Dennehy.

Governor Software’s regtech solution provides individuals in the financial services sector with the ability to prove oversight to regulators, an increasingly important capability.

“It allows you to join the dots from the strategic objectives you are setting in terms of regulations, right down into the business metrics,” said CEO and co-founder Richard, Pike. At present, 95% of the market does this using only Excel spreadsheets.

Compliance remained the hot topic for Kieron O’Brien of Know Your Customer. Two years ago, it started to solve the problem of an Irish customer looking to onboard Chinese investors to European anti-money laundering standards, without creating a physical footprint to China.

The company developed a solution that allowed people to onboard themselves, through the use of their mobile phone or laptop, in less than three minutes.

The challenge became much more difficult when addressing issues of corporate KYC. Commercial pressures, operational inefficiencies and the regulatory burden combine to create the “perfect storm” for the financial services sector, he said. Customers and regulators are more demanding than ever, while at the same time, transactions are becoming more international, making reference checking harder and driving demand for its product.

Xtremepush, a multichannel engagement and proximity marketing platform, is helping banks better engage with their customers. Around 20% of individuals who download a mobile banking app never get past the registration stage, “a real pain point for banks,” said Robbie Sexton of Xtremepush.

“We are a Software as a Service company, whose technology can easily be deployed in a mobile banking app, and, once live, we are very good at analysing and understanding user journeys, the lifecycle of a digital customer and, based on automated campaigns, we can give a relevant digital nudge in relation to communications.”

Banking authentication company Touchtech Payments frees online purchasers from having to remember four digit passwords, or wait for a notification by text or email from a 3D Secure provider before buying online.

Instead, their mobile device acts as the first element of Touchtech’s solution, with touch identification or near field communication supplying the second.

Banks balance cost of abandonment and cost of fraud

Its authentification technology is particularly valuable in light of PSD2, the new European payments services directive, which impacts on all sorts of banking transactions.

Current online verification offerings are inconvenient and cumbersome, said co-founder Shekinah Adewumi. The user drop-off rate is high, particularly where there is a challenge. This has caused some retailers to turn it off altogether because “the cost of abandonment is bigger than the cost of fraud,” he said.

However, aggrieved customers who can’t remember passwords or who have a bad user experience buying online either clog up call centres or take to Twitter to complain, causing reputational damage.

In the first three months of going live with online bank N26, Touchtech’s technology reduced abandonment by 40% and reduced fraud by 80%. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” he said.

Jacob Claflin of Cambrist, a multi-currency processing platform, believes card holders deserve better treatment when it comes to foreign exchange too.

This is because, while payments innovation has enhanced the customer experience in other areas, “the debit and credit cards that sit in all of our pockets” were historically built on a single currency processing technology.

The traditional, centralised card payments system is a limiter, “it’s preventing the type of innovation we are seeing in other growing sectors,” said Claflin, who believes both card providers and users are missing out.

The potential is there to make a better debit or credit card, with Cambrist as the bridge to make it happen, he said.

For example, “Just as when you arrive in a new country your mobile alerts you to your new mobile package, you could get a message from your credit card provider telling you welcome to NY and here’s your FX rate that currently applies. You can then take it further and say ‘swipe to the right if you want to lock in at this rate for the duration of your trip’,” he said. “These are the types of innovation Cambrist’s partners are pursuing.”

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