Ohpen Gets New Investment, Adds More Bank Clients

Ohpen, a banking tech firm in the Netherlands that was the world’s first cloud native core banking provider, has announced that its first and long time investor, the investment management firm Amerborgh, has sold part of its shareholding to NPM Capital, which now has a 35% stake.

“We have had Ohpen in sight as one of the most promising technology companies that we have seen in the past few years,” said Rutger Ruigrok, managing director at NPM Capital. “We are impressed with their achievements over the past 10 years: a cloud native core banking engine, an impressive customer base and a wonderful foundation for further growth. The technology sector is an increasingly important focus point in our investment portfolio,” he added.

“Having the new shareholder on board means a broadening of our options to finance future growth, although Ohpen can still advance with the growth capital that we raised early 2018, says Matthijs Aler, CEO of Ohpen. “With Amerborgh and now also with NPM, we have a well-balanced long-term shareholder structure that enables Ohpen to realize all of its future growth ambitions. I am really looking forward to working with the NPM team.”

Ohpen was the first SaaS core banking engine in the world that runs entirely in the cloud, predominantly on AWS.. Ohpen liberates its customers from their legacy systems, making them more flexible, safe, scalable and compliant.

Last year Ohpen moved more than 400.000 savings and investment accounts from Aegon to its core banking engine. Ohpen also signed up LeasePlan Bank which will use its cloud-based engine to replace several on-premises applications, reducing complexity and increasing LeasePlan Bank’s technological and functional capabilities to better support its retail banking customers.

““In Ohpen we have found a partner that allows us to further increase our efficiency and enhance our capabilities to keep track of market developments and changing customer demand,” said Danny te Brinke, director LeasePlan Bank & Strategic Finance. “This will help us deliver on our commitment to bring user-friendly, clear and competitive savings products to our customers.”

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Pew Blasts CFPB For Reversal On Payday Lending

Midnight on the 15th ended the CFPB’s comment period on its proposal to rescind the payday loan rule to protect borrowers that it had finalized in 2017.Pew said the CFPB rule on payday ending could save consumers billions.

“Pew is deeply concerned that the Bureau’s proposal to rescind the ability-to-repay provisions it finalized in 2017 will harm consumers and dissuade lenders from providing affordable credit at scale.”

Pew took issue with the Republican-controlled CFPB’s assertion that the rule developed under the Obama administration would restrict access to credit.

“The Bureau’s 2019 proposal neglected to account for the provision of installment loans and lines of credit in its assessment, repeatedly and incorrectly equating a reduction in the number of short-term balloon payment loans with a decrease in access to credit generally. In addition to continued payday and vehicle title lending, installment lenders, banks, credit unions and financial technology firms have said that they are also ready and willing to extend access to credit under the 2017 final rule, and they are likely to expand their small-dollar lending —something the Bureau failed to address.”

The Bureau’s 2019 commentary justifying revoking the rule is dishonest, Pew said, in somewhat more diplomatic language.

“The Bureau repeatedly paraphrased the rule’s language in ways that substantially change its meaning…The 2019 proposal has ignored the foundational rationale for the 2017 rule, failed to refute or reinterpret the bulk of research underpinning it, and has also mischaracterized the rule as being largely based on a concern about borrowers’ expectations at the time a first loan is originated….the 2017 rule’s safeguards provide a level playing field and regulatory certainty for lenders, along with strong protections for consumers, while maintaining widespread access to credit.”

The bureau’s action is not much of a surprise. Republicans have opposed the CFPB since Elizabeth Warren first proposed it. CNBC reported that “Since 2011, the CFPB has received more than 1.2 million consumer complaints about their dealings with financial firms. It has returned nearly $12 billion to 29 million people wronged by financial institutions, including credit card companies and banks. Most of the complaints received by the agency relate to debt collection (27 percent) and mortgages (23 percent).”

The billions saved or return come out of the profits of payday lenders and the money center banks which provide their funds while staying a long arm’s reach away from the payday business.

 

 

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Arab Tunisian Bank Goes Digital With Temenos

The Arab Tunisian Bank (ATB) has selected Temenos, the Geneva-based banking software company for its digital transformation program. ATB will transform its bank with Temenos Infinity, the breakthrough digital front office product, and Temenos T24 Transact, the next generation core banking software. These two banking software products combined with Temenos Payments Hub, Advanced Analytics and Financial Crime Mitigation (FCM) will enable ATB to benefit from an end-to-end digital banking platform, which will bring business agility and innovation.

ATB has a goal to increase revenues by 40% by 2020 and double the number of deposits with new products. It selected Temenos for its packaged model bank functionality and advanced cloud technology to meet those objectives, ATB also selected Information Technologies Solutions & Services (ITSS) as its implementation partner. ITSS was named Temenos Regional Partner of the Year 2019.

With more than 130 branches and 1,300 employees, ATB has grown to be one of Tunisia’s top five banks since its establishment in 1982. In 2017, the bank was also awarded the “Best Commercial Bank in Tunisia” by Global Banking & Finance.

“Tunisia is quickly embracing the new digital world, and banking is no exception,” said Mohamed Ferid Ben Tanfous, CEO, ATB. “With state-of-the-art banking software and 25 years of expertise, Temenos was the clear strategic technology partner of choice for us at Arab Tunisian Bank. Temenos’ end-to-end digital banking platform will enable us to offer enhanced, personalized digital experiences for our customers and become a global business partner for customers by developing new lines of business – a key priority at ATB. This digital transformation will help us achieve our ambitious growth objectives and fulfill our mission to contribute to the economic and financial development of Tunisia.”

Temenos’ pre-integrated, packaged banking software will provide ATB with faster time-to-market and dramatically reduce operational complexity and costs. With Temenos Infinity and Temenos T24 Transact, ATB will have the agility to create innovative products and services tailored to its customer needs.

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EDI Challenges Reference Data’s Big Four

A relative newcomer to the reference data business, Exchange Data International, is challenging the incumbents for what it terms anti-competitive practices. Specifically, EDI contends that the termination clauses in reference data contracts, which typically require users to return or delete their reference data, make it difficult for users to change providers because they would have to re-create their reference data libraries, which can be prohibitively expensive.

Burton-Taylor International Consulting, the leading authority on the market data business, estimates the global market for reference data is $2 billion to $3 billion.

EDI says that most data users are unaware that they are in effect only renting their data from major data vendors.

“It always comes as a shock to financial data consumers when they find out that they have only been ‘renting’ their data, and are effectively locked into their contracts. This has significant implications for all users of historical data, including quant analysts who rely on it for their algo strategies, and compliance teams which are required by legislation to maintain accurate data history. EDI’s strategy is to sell rather than rent data, and to offer hard-to-match cost-savings.”

EDI has obtained a mildly supportive legal opinion from a leading London law firm which said “Our assessment is that the Termination Practice could pique European antitrust authorities’ interest. There are cases which suggest that there are plausible arguments to be made that the Termination Practice infringes EU competition law.”

The termination practice could qualify as abuse of dominance, the firm said, noting that the concept of abuse of dominance is evolving.

Andy Nybo, a director at Burton-Taylor, said there are a variety of unique licensing agreements for reference data, and termination clauses can be justified.

“On the surface it makes sense because the aggregation, cleansing and normalizing all come at a cost,” he said. “Reference data is not static. There is constant cleaning and refreshing of historical reference data because new information or corrections are made, names change. All those thing impact the quality of the data.”

If the users don’t own a perpetual license for the data, they’re leasing it and when they change vendors they lose access to the data, he added.

EDI is the only sizable data vendor which believes that clients should own what they pay for, the company says.

“The onerous termination clauses are an effective barrier to entry for new potential data providers and may even be anti-competitive under EU law and local/national laws,” said Jonathan Bloch, founder and CEO of EDI. “This is damaging to data users, who are locked into an expensive and inflexible relationship with the ‘big four’ data vendors; it also makes it difficult for would-be entrants to the industry.”

While some financial firms only focus on the last ten years of data, most quant traders will be working with a twenty-year data set and the loss of even several years’ data could force them to remain in an expensive and inflexible relationship, he added.

“Based on our legal advice we believe that a financial data consumer based in Europe and challenging this termination clause has a fair chance of getting it held to be in violation of European anti-competition law and therefore unenforceable,” Bloch said. “But this route is not available to U.S. users.”

EDI, which was established in 1994, is headquartered in London with offices in New York, India and Morocco. It was named Best Corporate Actions Initiative of the Year in the IMD/IRD Awards 2018.

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Russia’s Yandex.Money’s E-Wallet Goes Multi-Currency

Yandex.Money, the largest online payments services in Russia, has introduced a new service for multi-currency accounts and cards. In addition to rubles, the service allows users to keep money and pay in 10 foreign currencies: US dollars, euros, British pounds, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, Swiss francs, Czech korunas, Polish zloty, Belarusian rubles, and Kazakhstani tenges. Users won’t have to switch currencies in order to pay for a purchase abroad with the card, as the service will independently determine which one to use for the payment, allowing for convenient and favorable payments in different countries with one Yandex.Money card, the company said in its announcement.

At first, the new service will be available to a limited number of users: those who would like to be a part of the test group will need to submit an application

“We expect the Yandex.Money multi-currency cards to be popular with a wide variety of users,” said Alla Savchenko, director of products at Yandex.Money.. “People residing or vacationing abroad will feel comfortable in any country, saving on currency conversion and not wasting time on switching between accounts. Users who want to save money can earn cashback for paying for purchases from the account of any currencies available from the service. Further on, freelancers will be able to receive earnings in foreign currency from foreign clients in the usual manner, to e-wallets,” she added.

Yandex.Money serves 46 million registered wallets and around 800,000 thousand physical cards and 17 million virtual cards on the Mastercard payment system. Physical Yandex.Money cards can be used for online and offline payments, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and Garmin Pay support, as well as for cash withdrawal both in Russia and abroad. Identified users can withdraw money without a commission at any ATMs around the world within the limit set by the service.

Yandex.Money elected to leverage Moven Enterprise’s APIs and embed them into their existing platform to deliver a highly personalized smart banking experience to their customers.

Yandex.Money said the partnership provides its 46 million users with a real-time personalized financial experience (PFE) service in their e-wallet mobile app.

The company is the joint venture of the search engine Yandex and Sberbank. It said that “Yandex.Money’s service provides users with contextual personalized advice as part of the e-wallet mobile app experience. Analyzing the expenses on a daily basis, the service allows users to track their spending in real time, while reducing spending and increasing savings—all to drive financial wellness and good financial habits.”

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SETL Clarification – Re-Org, Not Bankruptcy

From the esteemed Julia Streets:

SETL announces start of corporate reorganisation further to successful completion and approval of the regulated CSD development 

Roadmap to position business for strong financial future.

London 07 March 2019, In line with its 2018 strategic and operational plan, SETL the London based institutional payment and settlement infrastructure provider using blockchain technology, has focussed its resources on successfully developing and funding the establishment of the ID2S and IZNES platforms in Paris.  Of particular note, SETL made significant capital contributions to ID2S, the regulated CSD. In October 2018, the platform successfully completed its T2S connection testing and was fully approved under CSDR.

Now that the CSD is operational, the organisation can move forward with the next phase of its corporate development plan.  Having made an early investment in the development of ID2S, SETL Development Ltd recognises that as an early stage technology firm it is not sufficiently placed to contribute the capital required.  As such it is now now seeking to place its ID2S holding with a larger financial services firm, one better placed to provide the capital required to support the growth trajectory.

In recognition of the structural complexity and the need for a neutral party to represent the interests of all the current creditors and stakeholders, the board of SETL Development Limited has today appointed Quantuma LLP as an independent administrator.  Quantuma’s role will be to help shape the future structure, enable the company to balance its strategic infrastructure holdings and continue its software development activities on a business as usual basis.

Sir David Walker, the company’s chairman added “Separating the software development business from the investments portfolio is a highly complex process, requiring expert, experienced and neutral management of the interests of all the creditors and stakeholders.  The directors are all fully engaged and aligned in this approach.”

Anthony Culligan, the co-founder and largest shareholder added, “I am absolutely satisfied that this is the most positive step for the company and will form the basis of a strong future”.

Andrew Andronikou, joint administrator and Quantuma partner added, ‘This marks a significant moment for SETL and we are honoured to have been entrusted to work on behalf of the business and its investors.  We are highly experienced in navigating these milestones to ensure that businesses are fit for the future and look forward to helping SETL in its quest for growth.’

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OpenFin Wins Award At Trading Tech Summit In London

OpenFin won the Fintech Innovation Award at the TradingTech Summit in London on the 27th February.

This award complements OpenFin’s recent accolades, including: winning Best open source initiative at the HFM Technology European Technology Awards 2018; being named FinTech of the Year at The TRADE’s Leaders in Trading Awards 2018; winning Best use of the Agile methodology by a technology vendor at the Buy-Side Technology Awards 2018; and being included in the The Financial Technologist’s list of The Most Influential FinTechs of 2019, published earlier this month, for a second year running.

OpenFin OS provides a common platform on which banks, buyside and the FinTech community can collaborate, build and deliver innovative workflow enhancements for end users. As a result, innovative solutions can be brought to market faster, enabling end-users to benefit from new features and functionality at an accelerated rate.

Adam Toms, CEO of OpenFin Europe, said that more than 1,000 applications have now been built and deployed on OpenFin OS providing solutions to over 1,500 major banks and buy-side firms.

OpenFin enables rapid and secure deployment, native experience and desktop interoperability by building on HTML5. See my Forbes story last month. Used by the largest industry players through to the newest of FinTech innovators, OpenFin deploys more than 1,000 desktop applications to more than 1500 buy-side and sell-side firms.

 

 

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