Bahrain sees fintech take-up surge amid Covid-19 crisis

Bahrain’s mobile payment app has seen a huge surge in take-up during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic as the country’s population is driven to digital payments.

Restrictions introduced to try to reduce the global health crisis are bringing financial technology (fintech) and other digital technologies to the fore as consumers change their day-to-day behaviour and businesses alter how they operate.

For example, use of BenefitPay, the island nation’s national smartphone payments app, has surged by over 1,000% during the pandemic. Today, there are over 444,000 registered users, which is about 28% of Bahrain’s population.

Dalal Buhejji, senior manager for financial services at the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said Bahrain has not had a strict lockdown, but has put in restrictions such as social distancing and encouraging people to work from home.

She said the minimum value needed to make a transaction on BenefitPay had been reduced to encourage its use

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Pandemic spurs QR code app upgrade at PayPal

PayPal has introduced a feature on its mobile app that enables people selling goods to accept payments via QR codes.

The feature means those selling goods outside the traditional retail sector can avoid the need to use cash and cards, without buying contactless payment equipment.

Because the PayPal app is free, small sellers, including people selling secondhand goods or those with stalls on a farmers’ market, can accept payment through QR codes, just as larger retailers do.

The feature was added in response to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic to further reduce the use of cash or the need for buyers and sellers to make physical contact with payment equipment, both of which could spread the virus.

“We know that in the current environment, buying and selling goods in a health-conscious, safe and secure way is front of mind for many people around the world,” said John Kunze, senior vice-president of

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Banks failing to protect customers from coronavirus fraud

A paltry 13 out of the 64 banks accredited by the UK government for its Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) have bothered to implement the strictest level of domain-based messaging authentication, reporting and conformance – or Dmarc – protection to stop cyber criminals from spoofing their identity to use in phishing attacks.

This means that 80% of accredited banks are unable to say they are proactively protecting their customers from fraudulent emails, and 61% have no published Dmarc record whatsoever, according to Proofpoint, a cloud security and compliance specialist.

Domain spoofing to pose as a government body or other respected institution, such as a provider of financial services, is a highly popular method used by cyber criminals to compromise their targets.

Using this technique, they can make an illegitimate email appear as if it is coming from a supposedly completely legitimate email address, which neatly gets around

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Digital bank’s valuation falls as it seeks funds to ride Covid-19 storm

UK digital challenger bank Monzo is seeking up to £80m to help it through the current slowdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Financial Times, the new investment sees the company’s value drop from £2bn to £1.25bn.

Monzo is a mobile-only bank that received its banking licence in April 2017. It has amassed about one million customers and is creating jobs, including plans last year to create 300 jobs in Cardiff over the next few years.

But fintechs like Monzo, which have received huge investments up front, face a major funding challenge as venture capitalists and other investors become cautious. To cut costs, Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield will not take a salary for the next 12 months and the bank has furloughed some employees and closed a customer service office in the US.

Monzo is not the only darling of fintech to be hit by

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Deutsche Bank’s planned tech spend unaffected by global crisis

Deutsche Bank’s ambitious technology plans will not be derailed by the current global pandemic and imminent recession, with technology investments planned to help the bank do much more and cut costs in parallel.

In fact, the company’s reaction to the pandemic, particularly the sudden introduction of home working and reduced travel, has further proven the importance of technology and presented new cost-cutting possibilities.

The bank had already identified the importance of the latest digital technologies for revenue growth. In July, CEO Christian Sewing said the bank wanted to become a technology company and digital leader, with plans to spend €13bn on IT through to 2022. This is in parallel with cost cutting plans, which includes cutting 18,000 staff.

Sewing will tell the bank’s shareholders at its annual general meeting on Wednesday 20 May that the bank remains committed to its technology spending plans. In his speech, he will say:

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Google-powered algorithm set to modernise insurance brokering

A proprietary algorithm, developed in conjunction with the computer science department at UCL, is powering Ki, a standalone business spun out of Brit Insurance.

In collaboration with Google Cloud, Ki has launched what it claims is the first algorithmically driven Lloyd’s of London syndicate.

The new service, which will be accessible anywhere, at any time, aims to redefine the commercial insurance market as a “follow-only” syndicate, launching in 2021.

According to Brit, the creation of a fully digital syndicate is a step-change for an industry that is yet to face the disruption seen across the rest of financial services and other industries.

It said Ki’s goal is to reduce the amount of time and effort taken for brokers to place their follow capacity, creating greater efficiency, responsiveness and competitiveness. The new service will be powered by Google Cloud, which would enable it to scale rapidly, said the company.


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