Episode Six (E6), a leading global provider of enterprise-grade payment processing and ledger infrastructure, announces its expansion in Europe through…


Episode Six (E6), a leading global provider of enterprise-grade payment processing and ledger infrastructure, announces its expansion in Europe through a new partnership with A-Tono. This collaboration marks E6’s entry into the Italian market as part of its broader global expansion strategy.

A-Tono, an Italy-based multifaceted company, operates a technology lab, a payment institute supervised by the Bank of Italy, a nonprofit organisation, and a digital agency. This partnership will enable A-Tono to enhance the payment solutions offered by its brand DropPay®, an online payment account designed to simplify the payment experience for both consumers and businesses. The collaboration aims to expand DropPay®’s offerings with the addition of gift cards, loyalty programs, and cashback initiatives.

By integrating E6’s enterprise-grade payment processing and ledger technology, A-Tono will provide its clients across various sectors in Italy with access to the latest global payment capabilities. This transition to E6’s technology will broaden A-Tono’s payment processing and solutions services, offering clients more flexibility, choices, and revenue streams.

The partnership will deliver innovative payment solutions seamlessly integrated into existing infrastructures, providing secure, scalable, and customer-centric experiences. While cash remains predominant for many Italians, digital payments grew by 12% last year compared to 2022, totalling €444 billion, up from €397 billion. This represents a significant opportunity for payment solutions providers and retailers.

Orazio Granato, CEO of A-Tono, commented: “E6 shares our passion and vision for providing best-in-class, innovative payment products and services. This partnership enables companies to benefit from the latest and safest technology while ensuring customisable, personalised experiences that meet the local needs and expectations of their customers.”

John Mitchell, CEO and Co-Founder of Episode Six, added: “This partnership not only marks our entry into the Italian market but also a significant step in our global expansion. There is a huge unmet need in Italy that we plan to fulfill. We’re excited about the opportunities we can offer Italian businesses and consumers by combining our unique, expansive, and robust technology with A-Tono’s expertise, reach, and local knowledge. Together, we aim to raise the bar, broaden local capabilities, and exceed expectations.”

As the exclusive provider, E6’s TRITIUM® platform will power A-Tono’s Cards-as-a-Service offering, allowing them to configure products to meet their customers’ needs. The modern payment platform will simplify, accelerate, and broaden A-Tono’s offerings, reducing costs and time to market while providing a configurable foundation to build additional payment products and initiatives.

  • Fintech & Insurtech

The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) is leading a delegation of institutional partners and business leaders from Italy’s financial technology community…

The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) is leading a delegation of institutional partners and business leaders from Italy’s financial technology community to Money 20/20 Europe. This premier FinTech event will take place in Amsterdam from June 4 to June 6, 2024. This year’s edition is expected to be a record-breaker, attracting over 8,500 attendees from more than 100 countries, serving as a key networking hub for those looking to stay at the forefront of FinTech innovation.

The FinTech industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Italy and a significant area for investment. Money 20/20 Europe presents a valuable opportunity for the Italian ecosystem to gain exposure and showcase its leadership in Europe to global businesses and foreign investors. According to a survey by the Bank of Italy, financial technology investments have surged over the past year, with total investment projects projected to reach €1.88 billion by 2025. These investments are primarily focused on deposits, lending, and payments, where the integration of new technology is driving efficiency and service improvements.

To maximize this opportunity, the Italian Trade Agency has partnered with other key institutions and players in the FinTech world. The Bank of Italy will have a dedicated space at the exhibition area, highlighting its commitment to promoting innovation in payments and finance. Additionally, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and other national partners in the FinTech ecosystem, including Fintech District, YesMilano, ItaliaFintech, and AssoFintech (in collaboration with SDA Bocconi), will be present.

Joining them will be a delegation of innovative Italian startups, providing them with the chance to form new connections with international stakeholders and expand the potential for innovation in Italy. The Italian Pavilion will also feature investment specialists from the Italian Trade Agency’s offices around Europe, who will offer first-hand knowledge about establishing a presence in Italy.

The Italian Pavilion will officially open on June 4 at 11:00 AM at Stand 8A110, marking the start of three days filled with networking sessions and interactive discussions. ITA – Italian Trade Agency continues to champion Made in Italy excellence, supporting national FinTech companies in their internationalization efforts and increasing their visibility in global markets.

Join the Italian delegation on June 4-6 at Money 20/20 Europe – RAI Amsterdam, Stands 8A110 and 8A120, and witness the future of financial technology.

  • Fintech & Insurtech

Launched by industry insiders in 2012, Money20/20 is the heartbeat of the global fintech ecosystem.

Some of the most innovative, fast-moving ideas and companies have found their feet (and funding) on the show floor. From J.P. Morgan, Stripe, and Airwallex to HSBC, Deutsche Bank, and Checkout.com, Money20/20 is the place where money does business.

The Place Where Money Does Business

Money20/20 Europe is home to the industry’s boldest and brightest new voices – where the money ecosystem comes together to shape what’s next for the industry. Every year, Money20/20 provides connections, tools, knowledge and access to the innovations of the future. Check out the show highlights from last June in Amsterdam.

Ready for Money20/20 Europe 2024?

Dive into the fintech evolution at Money20/20 Europe! Uncover insights, cultivate connections, and fuel innovation in three unmissable days.

Grab your pass now using code INF200 on the link below and embrace the future of finance all while saving €200!

  • Fintech & Insurtech

From virtual advisors to detailed financial forecasts, here are 5 ways generative AI is poised to revolutionise the fintech sector.

Whether it’s picking winning stocks or rapidly ensuring regulatory compliance, generative artificial intelligence (AI) and fintech seem like a match made in heaven. The ability for generative AI to process, analyse, and create sophisticated insights from huge quantities of unstructured data makes the technology especially valuable to financial institutions.  

Since the emergence of generative AI over a year ago, fintech startups and established institutions alike have been clamouring to find ways for the technology to improve efficiency and unlock new capabilities. Globally, the market for generative AI in fintech was worth about $1.18 billion in 2023. By 2033, the market is likely to eclipse $25 billion, growing at a CAGR of 36.15%.

Today, we’re looking at five applications for generative AI with the potential to transform the fintech sector. 

1. Virtual advisors 

One of the quickest applications to emerge for generative AI in fintech has been the virtual advisor tool. Generative AI, as a technology, is good at agglomerating huge amounts of unstructured data from multiple sources and creating sophisticated insights and responses. 

This makes the technology highly effective at taking a user-generated question and generating a well-structured answer based on information pulled from a big document or a sizable data pool. These tools can also exist as a customer-facing service or an internal resource to speed up and enhance broker analysis. 

2. Fraud detection 

The vast majority of financial fraud follows a repeating pattern of behaviour. These patterns—when hidden among vast amounts of financial data—can still be challenging for humans to spot. However, AI’s ability to trawl huge data sets and quickly identify patterns makes it potentially very good at detecting fraudulent behaviour. 

An AI tool can quickly flag suspicious activity and create a detailed report of its findings for human review. 

3. Accelerating regulatory compliance 

The regulatory landscape is constantly in flux, and keeping up to date requires constant, meticulous work. Finance organisations are turning to AI tools for their ability to not only monitor and detect changes in regulation, but identify how and where those changes will impact the business in terms of responsibilities and process changes. 

4. Forecasting 

Predicting and preempting volatile stock markets is a key differentiator for many investment and financial services firms. It’s vital that banks and other organisations have the ability to accurately assess the market and where it’s headed. 

AI is well equipped to perform regular in-depth pattern analysis on market data to identify trends. It can then compare those trends to past behaviours to enhance forecasting results. It’s entirely possible that AI could bring a new level of accuracy and speed to market forecasting in the next few years. 

5. Automating routine tasks 

Significant proportions of finance sector workers’ jobs involve routine, repetitive tasks. Not only are human workers better deployed elsewhere (managing relationships or making higher level strategic decisions) but this sort of work is the kind most prone to error. 

AI has the potential to automate a number of time consuming but simple processes, including customer account management, claim analysis, and application processes. 

  • Data & AI
  • Fintech & Insurtech

Insurtech could leverage generative AI for product personalisation, anomaly detection, regulatory compliance, and more.

Generative artificial intelligence is on track to be the defining advancement of the decade. Since the launch of generative AI-enabled chatbots and image generators at the tail end of 2022, the technology has dominated the conversation. 

Provoking both excitement and fervent criticism, generative AI’s potential to disrupt and transform the economic landscape cannot be understated. As a result, investment into the technology increased fivefold in 2023, with generative AI startups attracting $21.8 billion of investment. 

However, despite attracting considerable financial capital backing, it’s still not entirely clear what the concrete business use cases for generative AI actually are. One sector where generative AI may be able to deliver significant benefits is insurance, where we’ve identified the following applications for the technology.

1. Personalised policies and products 

Large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT are very good at using patterns in large datasets to generate specific results quickly. 

The technology (when given the right data) has a great deal of potential for writing personalised insurance products and policies tailored to individual customers. AI could customise the price, coverage options, and terms of policies based on customer traits and previous successful (and unsuccessful) interactions between the insurer and previous clients. For example, generative AI could weigh up a customer’s accident history and vehicle details in order to create a customised car insurance policy. 

2. Anomaly detection and fraud prevention 

Generative AI is also very good at combing through large amounts of unstructured data for things that don’t look right. Anomalies and irregularities in customer behaviour like claims processing can be an early warning for wider trends in population health and safety. 

It can also be a key indicator of fraud. When trained on patterns that indicate fraudulent behaviour or other types of suspicious activity, generative AI can be a valuable tool in the hands of insurance threat management teams. 

3. Customer experience enrichment 

Increasingly, companies offering similar services are turning to customer experience as a key differentiator between them and their competitors. A growing part of the CX journey in recent years has been personalisation and organisations working to provide a more individualised service. 

Generative AI has the potential to support activities like customer segmentation, behavioural analysis, and creating more unique customer experiences. 

It can also generate synthetic customer models (fake people, essentially) to train AI and human workers on activities like segmentation and behavioural predictions. 

Lastly, generative AI is already seeing widespread adoption as a first-touch customer relationship management tool. Several organisations, having implemented a customer service chatbot, found users preferred talking to an AI when it came to answering simple queries, allowing human agents more time to handle more complex requests further up the chain. 

4. Regulatory compliance 

In an industry as heavily regulated as insurance, generative AI has the potential to be a useful tool for insurers. The technology could streamline the process of navigating an ever-changing compliance landscape by automating compliance checks. 

Generative AI has the potential to automate the validation and updating of policies in response to evolving regulatory changes. This would not only reduce the risk of a breach in compliance, but alleviates the manual workload placed on regulatory teams. 

5. Content summary, synthesis, and creation 

Large amounts of insurers’ time is taken up by intaking large amounts of information from an array of unstructured sources. Sometimes, this information is poorly managed and disorganised when it reaches the insurer, consuming valuable time and potentially leading to errors or subpar decision making. 

Generative AI’s ability to scan and summarise large amounts of information could make it very good at summarising policies, documents, and other large, unstructured content. It could then synthesise effective summaries to reduce insurer workload, even answering questions about the contents of the documents in natural language.

  • Data & AI
  • Fintech & Insurtech

A lack of gender diversity in the fintech sector hurts women, men, and the bottom line, according to a damning new report.

Fintech has exploded over the past decade from a nascent offshoot of the tech sector to a multi-billion dollar industry. At its height in 2021, the fintech sector attracted more than $225 billion in investment. 

Apps like Klarna, CashApp, and Monzo are redefining the ways in which consumers and businesses interact with their money. The profound success of the fintech sector is causing a frantic scramble (by the standards of large financial institutions) to invest, acquire, and adapt from traditional financial institutions.  

In short, fintech is one of the most dynamic, forward-thinking, and exciting sectors you could hope to work in. At least, that’s how it likes to present itself. 

However, new research conducted by Dr Chloe Fox-Robertson and Professor Dariusz Wojcik suggests otherwise. Despite attracting a great deal of financial investment, “FinTech is causing minimal disruption to the financial landscape, tending to represent a process of re-intermediation rather than dis-intermediation. FinTechs collaborate with or replace incumbents,” they write

This undercurrent of conservatism—linked to Fintech’s heritage in the entrepreneurial, financial, and technology sectors—is also responsible for the underrepresentation of women in the industry. This is especially true among senior positions. 

Fox-Robertson and Wojcik’s suggests that, in fintech, “discriminatory practices are overt and implicit, everyday and exceptional, micro and acute.” 

A “triple glass ceiling” 

“Fintech gender inequalities result from male dominance in finance, technology and entrepreneurship,” Fox-Robertson and Wojcik argue. Each of these three sectors is grappling with its own gender imbalance. Women might make up 47% of all employed adults in the US, as of 2022. However, they hold only 28% of computing and mathematical roles, according to data from Zippia

According to data from Accenture, the ratio of women to men in technology roles actually declined in the past three decades. Half of all women who enter the tech industry drop out by the age of 35. As a result, far fewer women reach higher level executive positions within tech companies. 

The same is true in finance, and across startup culture in general. Fox-Robertson and Wojcik found the male dominance of the FinTech sector to be “particularly salient” at the senior levels. Under 5% of companies studied were led by a female CEO. Women accounted for, on average, 18.2% of executive committee positions and 27.67% of FinTechs were found to have an entirely male executive team. 

The contributing inequalities stemming from each, highly male-dominated, industry conspire to create a “triple glass ceiling.” 

Technology, finance, and entrepreneurship each have a tradition of “longstanding male dominance” and “continued privileging of masculinity.” Masculine coded traits are rewarded within these industries’ cultures, while traditionally feminine characteristics are undervalued and dismissed. 

“This ‘boys’ club’ culture within the senior levels of Fintech” is a significant barrier to women progressing within the sector. 

In the UK, women account for 28% of the fintech workforce but only 17% of senior roles. In 2019, just 12.2% of the 3,017 fintech startups in the UK had at least one woman (co-)founder. 

A challenge to the industry

Fintech’s image is ostensibly one of progress, of disruption. The sector is supposedly taking the innovative spirit of startup culture and the transformative power of technology to profoundly change the nature of the conservative, lumbering financial sector. However, Fox-Robertson and Wojcik argue that fintech’s actual impact is much less disruptive than its messaging claims. Not only that, but they observe that the industry has synthesised the ingrained misogyny of all three industries it pulls from. 

As a result, Fox-Robertson and Wojcik are calling for “a collective challenge that holds the industry accountable”.  Such action would be “necessary for (re)developing the fintech ecosystem to make it a more inclusive, equitable, and attractive environment for individuals.”  

The impetus for this goes beyond a simple moral imperative, however. There are well documented benefits to greater diversity. The positive impact of diverse perspectives is both fiscal and societal. For example, companies with increased diversity tend to financially outperform their competitors. The economic benefit is also collective. Fox-Robertson and Wojcik note that the UK economy could be boosted by as much as £250 billion annually if entrepreneurial gender parity could be achieved. 

Global fintech funding fell by 42% last year. EMEA and Latin America were hit hardest, exhibiting regional drops of 62% and 71% respectively to $8 billion and $1 billion, respectively. North America and APAC fared better, but only just. 

The industry appears to be bouncing back, but experts at McKinsey argue that “in the new era, a challenged funding environment means fintechs can no longer afford to sprint.” Fintech’s need to take a new approach and embrace new perspectives. Addressing diversity in a meaningful way could help secure a more successful future for the industry and its stakeholders. 

  • Fintech & Insurtech
  • People & Culture

AI large language models promise to unlock new efficiency gains and better risk assessment capabilities for the insurtech sector.

The insurance industry’s traditionally conservative rate of progress has recently given way to a new, much more accelerated pace. The sector is digitalising rapidly, with an uptick in customised services. Personalised experiences, mobile platforms, and data-driven analytics have become integral parts of the insurer’s relationship to their customers. 

Now, generative artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as the next pivotal driver of innovation for insurance. The technology promises to create new efficiencies, increase resilience, and help insurers better manage risk. 

Generative AI applications for insurance 

Generative AI has the potential to greatly enhance the delivery of personalised recommendations. Correctly applied, it can also contribute to the creation of new products customised to the individual. More traditional AI has already seen success as a way to deliver personalised services. Experts in a recent report by LeewayHertz, however, believe that traditional AI “may be limited in creating highly individualised content.” 

Generative AI, however, is capable of handling greater levels of complexity, and could therefore be capable of offering “truly personalised insurance policies, customising coverage, pricing, and terms based on individual customer profiles and preferences.” 

The technology can also enhance the virtual risk management process thanks to its ability to generate synthetic datasets used for threat assessment training. Generative AI models can generate high quality synthetic training data. This data can help train security teams, augment limited datasets, and enhance the performance of AI models. 

Lastly, generative AI is already playing a growing role in the automation of customer service and organisational tasks. Sebastjan Plavec, Chief Marketing Officer at Adacta, noted in a recent blog that “AI-powered Chatbots built on LLMs have proven highly effective in customer service.” The quality of conversation that LLMs like ChatGPT can achieve is “way above” what is achievable with traditional chatbots. 

On an organisational front, Plavec believes that Generative AI could have a key role to play in automating elements of the underwriting process, as well as document organisation and due diligence. “ChatGPT and similar models can be used for analysing large volumes of unstructured data to identify patterns and empower more accurate underwriting decisions,” he writes. 

Through the application of generative AI to the insurance sector, insurers have the potential to realise significant operational efficiency gains at speed.

  • Fintech & Insurtech

While fintechs can help banks move to market faster, such partnerships come with their own regulatory and risk management burdens.

Time and again, the fintech industry has defined itself in comparison to traditional banking. It’s part of the branding: famously conservative, slow-moving financial institutions versus agile tech powerhouses unencumbered by centuries of tradition and risk-averse thinking

This seeming philosophical opposition between banks and fintechs is, some claim, a very good reason for them to collaborate. Analysts working for Bain and Company argue that partnering with fintechs could help banks move faster on digital product design, time to market, and security. 

“Fintechs provided the technology, banks the funding and customers, with each augmenting the potential of the other,” note the analysts. However, they also note a successful partnership between a bank and a fintech is “not easy to source, implement, and manage.” 

One of the reasons this is the case could be the fundamental differences in how each type of organisation approaches risk.

Banks are “responsible” for fintech partner risk management 

Michael Hsu, the acting Comptroller of the Currency for the US government, has reservations about fintechs’ presence within the traditional banking ecosystem. As reported by Reuters, Hsu’s belief is that “Banks that work with financial technology companies to offer banking services should be actively managing risks associated with those relationships.”

A further report by the US Treasury department highlights the issue that “the presence of non-bank firms outside the bank regulatory perimeter—while offering a similar set of products and services that pose similar prudential risks as banks, such as deposit-taking and making loans and extensions of credit—poses a risk.” 

Increasingly, the US banking sector appears to be embracing fintechs. For example, 39% of US banks have already partnered with a fintech to support payment facilitation and money movement. For context, the same percentage are planning to partner in the future. Also, 34% have already partnered with a fintech on a mobile wallet, with 21% more planning to do so in the future. The benefits fintech can provide to traditional banks are clear. More importantly, the banks themselves recognise the benefits.

However, the regulatory hurdles which many fintechs have managed to avoid so far will not be waived when it comes to their participation in traditional banking.

As Hsu insists, “We will not… lower our standards, create a special regime, or take an overly expansive view of banking to entice new entrants or in the hope of bringing a particular activity into the bank regulatory perimeter.” It appears that banks may be forced to shoulder increased regulatory risk when partnering with famously risk-tolerant fintechs. If that happens, it may erode a good deal of the appeal that created these partnerships in the first place.

  • Fintech & Insurtech

From AI to regulatory pressures, here are 3 trends shaping the insurtech sector this year.

The insurtech industry—and fintech, more broadly speaking—is going through a time of transition. Venture capital funding has continued to diminish after the 2021 high point. This year, the industry will likely do some soul searching, although new technologies and macroeconomic pressures could make it hard to find the necessary breathing room for reflection and change.

Here are our 3 trends we see driving a year of self-analysis and change in the insurtech sector. 

1. Thinning of the startup herd 

A lot of Insurtech startups will go bankrupt this year. Less venture capital overall will make investors more skittish when it comes to investing for the first time. Likewise, existing investors will also be more likely to pull the plug on a struggling investment than they were a few years ago. 

Several insurtech startups have already folded quietly, but the trend stands to become a lot more noticeable in the months ahead. Quentin Colmant, CEO and co-founder of Qover, believes this will also spur the transition of the industry from being VC funded to supported by more strategic investors. “Insurance is a very slow business and a complex one. Yet it is also robust and resilient,” he writes. “That’s why I predict that in the coming years, strategic investors who are more patient and have a better understanding of the insurtech world will invest more and more.” 

2. ESG expectations are rising 

The devastating effects of the climate crisis aren’t going anywhere. At the end of one year defined by record temperatures and extreme, damaging meteorological events, we find ourselves at the start of another experiencing the hottest February ever. The crisis urgently requires action to protect global ecosystems and communities.

For insurers worldwide, these developments are driving both ESG policy revisions and investment into technology. Using machine learning and AI, insurtech will likely prioritise improvements in risk modelling to address uncertainties related to climate. Furthermore, insurers must focus on enhancing transparency and building trust in their communication with customers. 

3. Times are tough, y’all 

The insurance industry, notably in the US non-life market, is facing the least forgiving market conditions in a generation. Insurers are facing the formidable task of swiftly increasing prices to offset the substantial rise in expenses, a challenge that is projected to become even more demanding as the industry adapts to these harsh market realities. 

Moreover, reinsurance rates are expected to stay elevated, adding further complexity to the landscape for insurers. In this challenging market environment characterised by rising prices, insurers must carefully navigate between maintaining profitability and ensuring affordability for consumers. The heightened reinsurance rates may prompt carriers to reevaluate their approaches to risk-sharing.

  • Fintech & Insurtech

A decade of frantic fintech growth is giving way to a slower world that calls for a slower, more sustainable pace.

Over the last decade, it often felt as though fintech startups had a licence to print money. 

In 2010, worldwide investment into fintech was $9 billion. Over the next decade, that figure skyrocketed, reaching $216.8 billion in 2019. Funding took a precipitous dip in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. The next year, however, funding bounced back with a vengeance, and fintech spending rose to an all-time high of $225 billion in 2021.

That year, startups like Klarna and C6 Bank raised $1.6 billion and $2 billion, respectively, in funding. It was a clear message. Fintech’s decade of growth was on track to be followed by another, possibly even more frantic one. But then, the story changed. 

The great fintech growth slump

The cocktail of technological progress and market-readiness that drove fintech’s decade of hypergrowth soured in 2022. According to analysts at McKinsey, “a market correction triggered a slowdown in this explosive growth momentum. The impact continues to be felt today.” 

Funding and dealmaking activity have decreased dramatically across the fintech sector in the last two years. US fintech funding dropped by 36% to $18.2 Billion in 2023, while the UK saw a 63% decrease to $4.2 Billion. A new report published by Tracxn notes that “with inflation, increased interest rates, geopolitical issues, and other macroeconomic conditions, activity across industries has been slow, making it challenging for the investment market.”

Unicorns are still emerging, with four new companies hitting a billion dollar valuation in the US last year. The change of pace is, however, can’t be denied. 

A new model for sustainable growth in fintech

Some analysts aren’t worrying about the slowdown, however. At McKinsey, authors of their report, Fintechs: A new paradigm of growth, believe that slowing growth isn’t the crisis some have painted it as. Even though the 2021 “funding surge proved to be a one-off event” and a return to “business-as-usual conditions” caused “fintech evaluations to plummet,” they insist that there are still opportunities to be unlocked in the future. 

Combined with generational leaps in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), “these trends are also coinciding with—and in many ways catalysing—the maturation of the fintech industry,” write the report’s authors. “The days of growth at any cost are behind the industry, for now at least. In a liquidity-constrained environment, fintechs and their investors are emphasising profitability, not just growth in customer adoption numbers or total revenues. 

One Africa-based growth equity investor told McKinsey: “In the past, the reward went to fintechs that showed growth at all costs, which led to healthy valuations. Now it is about the sustainability of the business, the addressable market, and profitability.”

  • Fintech & Insurtech

For our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent,…

For our first cover story of 2024 we meet with Lloyds Banking Group’s CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent, Martyn Atkinson, to learn how an ambitious growth agenda, combined with a people-centred culture, is driving change for customers and colleagues across the Group.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Welcome to a new year of possibility where technology meets business at the interface of change…

Read the latest issue here!

Lloyds Banking Group: A technology & business strategy

“We’ve made significant strides in transforming our business for the future,” explains Martyn Atkinson, CIO for Consumer Relationships & Mass Affluent at Lloyds Banking Group. “I’m really proud of what the team have achieved. There’s loads more to go after. It’s a really exciting time as we become a modern, progressive, tech-enabled business. We’ve aimed to maintain pace and an agile mindset. We want to get products and services out to our customers and colleagues. We’ll test and learn to see if what we’re doing is actually making a meaningful difference.”

AFRICOM: Organisational resilience through cybersecurity

We also speak with U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) CISO Ryan Larsen on developing the right culture to build cyber awareness. He is committed to driving secure and continued success for the Department of Defence. “I often think of every day working in cyberspace a lot like counterinsurgency warfare and my time in Afghanistan. You had to be on top of your game every minute of every day. The adversary only needs to get lucky one time to find you with that IED.”

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ALIC: Creating synergy to scale at speed with Lolli

Since 2009 the Australian Lending & Investment Centre (ALIC) has been matching Australians with loans that help build their wealth. It has delivered over $8.3bn in loans to more than 22,000 leading Australian investors and businesses. Managing Director Damian Brander talks ethical lending and the challenges of a shifting financial landscape. ALIC has also built Lolli – a broker enhancement platform built by brokers, for brokers.

Sime Darby Motors: Driving digital, cultural, and business transformation together

Sime Darby Berhad is one of the oldest and most successful multinational companies in Malaysia. It has a twin focus on the Industrial and Motors sectors. The company employs more than 24,000 people, operating across 17 countries and territories. Sime Darby Motors’ Chief Digital & Information Officer Tuan Jean Tee shares how he makes sure digital, cultural, and process transformation go hand in hand throughout one of APAC’s largest automotive multinationals.

Also in this issue, we hear from Microsoft on the art of sustainable supply chain transformation, Tecnotree map the key trends set to impact the telecoms industry in 2024 and our panel of experts chart the big Fintech predictions for the year ahead.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

  • Fintech & Insurtech

How Minted is leveraging digital technology to make investment in precious metals, accessible, affordable and simple

Shahid Munir, co-founder of Minted, discusses how his firm is competing with larger banks for a spot at the top table of investment in fintech.

Few industries have boomed like the fintech space over the past few years. With a plethora of new technology at consumer fingertips like never before, banks are being properly challenged by upcoming startups offering an alternative solution. Among these is Minted, aiming to make the buying, selling, transferring and delivery of physical precious metals simple through flexible monthly plans and one-time purchases. The company was founded in 2018 by three close friends – Shahid Munir, Hamzah Almasyabi and Haroon Siddiq – with a shared passion for entrepreneurship, technology and the opportunities the financial industry presented. Their combined drive led to the creation of Minted.

Shahir Munir, Co-Founder, Minted

The rise of Minted

Munir, co-founder of Minted, admits the journey has been a “rollercoaster” since the trio decided to launch their venture. “It’s certainly been exciting,” he explains. “It’s been a great learning curve and was a case of taking an industry where so many people were so used to doing it one way and offering something new. This has been challenging because we have a great product, but no one understood it. We’ve had to go out and educate people first in what has been a journey of growth, but it’s a constant journey.”

A decade ago, financial technology was considered by many as ring-fenced by bigger banks. But Munir stresses he has tried to change that narrative and offer competition which provides tremendous value. “Previously, a bank was the only way you could provide financial products,” he says. “Technology has allowed more innovative and creative solutions to launch and test the bigger banks and what they became bad at which was the customer experience. Now you see bigger banks adopt a lot of the technology and some of the practices used by challenger banks which can only be a good thing. Being in London has also helped because it is one of the leading hubs for fintechs and really supports the financial technology industry.”

Armed with different skillsets, the three co-founders complement each other with a diverse range of experience. With Almasyabi bringing an operations background and Siddiq bringing business strategy, Munir completes the line-up with finance and technology know-how. “I think it’s what sets us apart and makes us different,” he says. “Our backgrounds mean we’re not tunnel visioned and can see clearly when things aren’t working. We have a great thinktank within the business which helps us come up with ideas.”

Making precious metals accessible, affordable and simple

“I recall seeing a meme about how the price of a Freddo chocolate had changed over the years, no longer being its trademark 10p, it was now 200% more expensive and also smaller in size. This led me down rabbit-hole of trying to understand why most items go up in price as years pass and rarely come back down again. I became fascinated with how the government increases the money supply and the concept of inflation – my money buys me less in the future than it does today.

“I met with the other two founders that same night and the thoughts extended from my mind into an intense conversation about quantitative easing, Brexit, cost of living – snacks were being consumed faster than the rate of government borrowing. Where could we park our money, what was better than money? That was when the penny-dropped (pardon the pun). Hamzah proclaimed: ‘What about gold, guys?’”

Digital disruption

Through Minted, customers will have full legal ownership over their gold and can also request to have their gold delivered to a verified address. The gold and silver are stored in a grade 10 vault in the UK with the highest level of security possible. The products are fully insured by Lloyds of London at the current value while in vaulted storage as well as when being transported.

As a digital disrupter, one of the biggest challenges Minted continues to face is a lack of understanding. Customer assurance is an important priority, and the organisation has established several initiatives to gain trust. Minted is registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which means the firm operates to the highest financial standards and guidelines as determined by the FCA. “I feel like we need to go that extra mile,” stresses Munir. “What I think we underestimated at first was the extent to which people needed to ask questions until we launched a live chat facility on the website. This function helps build our knowledge base and allows us to hold the customer’s hand throughout the process. We’ve also found success when we’ve attended face to face exhibition events and had one-on-one interactions. It’s been brilliant to see first-hand the customer perception and look at what we can do better to meet their needs.”

Munir says he has noticed a trend of people starting with a “flutter” to test the water and check out the process. “I think it’s important that people build their confidence and recognise the value in what we offer,” he explains. “Once this is done, we often see those same customers make larger transactions. We know our difference can be a challenge for some people to accept which is why education is such an important topic to us. We have to keep doing explainer videos, use social media and hold community sessions to be there for customers.”

Scaling up

Minted recently launched its own app which offers customers an even easier way to manage their gold and silver, as well as introducing a tool to partner with businesses called Minted Connect. Munir believes the move has helped showcase an advanced, modern way for people to own physical items. “I love the app as it just makes things so much easier for customers via the platform,” he explains. “It’s been fantastic, a one-stop solution that helps stores the precious metals for free and allows them to be delivered at any time. In a world where everything is so digitally enabled it is nice to offer something physical – people don’t even buy cars anymore. Hopefully via customer feedback we can make improvements to the app that will help us develop new features.”

Munir believes gold is increasingly being seen as an alternative for savings and affirms global pressures like the threat of inflation amid economic uncertainty has helped people to realise the full potential of Minted’s offering. “In the past if you wanted to save money, you simply open a saver account and start adding money but with gold it was often a little trickier,” he says. “But with Minted we’ve simplified the process and tried to make it as automated as possible. Gold is a great alternative which has stood the test of time.”

Looking ahead, Minted is showing no signs of slowing down and is expanding into different territories. Munir remains positive for the next few years and what comes next for his organisation. “We’re working towards expanding the team because I feel like we’re at the stage now where each of our departments needs its own team of people to run each department,” he explains. “We’re scaling up and branching into new markets such as Turkey, and focusing in on developing the business to business side too.”

  • Fintech & Insurtech