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‘Outside of the banks’: Swiss fintech startup to help customers from struggling economies





The Swiss fintech company nsave is developing an offshore bank account to help those from “distressed economies” secure their money from currency depreciation.

A Swiss fintech called nsave is developing an offshore bank account to help those from fragile economies secure their money from currency depreciation.

Amer Baroudi, co-founder of nsave, had to flee his hometown of Damascus, Syria when he was a child. When his family resettled in a new country, he said it was a challenge to do the basics, including opening a bank account.

According to Baroudi, banks conduct risk assessments of every customer that approaches them for an account and a person’s country of origin plays a role in whether they decide to work with you.

“Where you come from is part of that risk assessment … it ranks so high that it renders you outside of the banks and helps to keep you financially excluded,” Baroudi said.

For that reason, the fintech will only work with people from distressed economies.

Baroudi mentioned Lebanon as an example. Data from the World Bank shows that an inflation rate of 17 per cent, one of the highest national rates in the world, led to the lira losing roughly 98 per cent of its pre-crisis value as of February 2023.

The biggest issue for their clients is to find a place to store their money, Baroudi continued, so for now that’s what the app proposes: a simple offshore account where people can store their funds or exchange them for “harder” currencies like the euro, dollar or pound, that are less prone to rapid depreciation.

Customers download the app and then go through a comprehensive assessment that Baroudi said is based on the “strict regulations” that the company has to follow. Each client is then given a risk score and could eventually be asked for additional documents or to answer more questions.

Baroudi said they also do “continuous assessments” like any bank to protect against money laundering and fraud.

Nsave has backing from a regulated financial institution in Switzerland to be able to offer these accounts, Baroudi continued, but he did not disclose which one.

The startup recently gained $4 million (€3.7 million) in seed funding from Sequoia Capital and TQ Ventures, both American venture capitalist firms, and a few other partners, including the Geneva-based Foundation Genevoise pour l’Innovation Technique (FONGIT).

“Build[ing] a product compliant with strict financial regulations is no easy task … yet nsave has done just that,” George Robson with Sequoia wrote in their partnership announcement.

“We are eager to see more users reap the benefits now that the app has gone live,” he added.

Baroudi said that the goal in the future is to help people from these distressed economies to grow their money, by eventually offering investing services.


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Central banks and the FinTech sector unite to change global payments space





The BIS, along with seven leading central banks and a cohort of private financial firms, has embarked on an ambitious venture known as Project Agorá.

Named after the Greek word for “marketplace,” this initiative stands at the forefront of exploring the potential of tokenisation to significantly enhance the operational efficiency of the monetary system worldwide.

Central to this pioneering project are the Bank of France (on behalf of the Eurosystem), the Bank of Japan, the Bank of Korea, the Bank of Mexico, the Swiss National Bank, the Bank of England, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. These institutions have joined forces under the banner of Project Agorá, in partnership with an extensive assembly of private financial entities convened by the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

At the heart of Project Agorá is the pursuit of integrating tokenised commercial bank deposits with tokenised wholesale central bank money within a unified, public-private programmable financial platform. By harnessing the advanced capabilities of smart contracts and programmability, the project aspires to unlock new transactional possibilities that were previously infeasible or impractical, thereby fostering novel opportunities that could benefit businesses and consumers alike.

The collaborative effort seeks to address and surmount a variety of structural inefficiencies that currently plague cross-border payments. These challenges include disparate legal, regulatory, and technical standards; varying operating hours and time zones; and the heightened complexity associated with conducting financial integrity checks (such as anti-money laundering and customer verification procedures), which are often redundantly executed across multiple stages of a single transaction due to the involvement of several intermediaries.

As a beacon of experimental and exploratory projects, the BIS Innovation Hub is committed to delivering public goods to the global central banking community through initiatives like Project Agorá. In line with this mission, the BIS will soon issue a call for expressions of interest from private financial institutions eager to contribute to this ground-breaking project. The IIF will facilitate the involvement of private sector participants, extending an invitation to regulated financial institutions representing each of the seven aforementioned currencies to partake in this transformative endeavour.

Source: fintech.globa

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TD Bank inks multi-year strategic partnership with Google Cloud





TD Bank has inked a multi-year deal with Google Cloud as it looks to streamline the development and deployment of new products and services.

The deal will see the Canadian banking group integrate the vendor’s cloud services into a wider portion of its technology solutions portfolio, a move which TD expects will enable it “to respond quickly to changing customer expectations by rolling out new features, updates, or entirely new financial products at an accelerated pace”.

This marks an expansion of the already established relationship between TD Bank and Google Cloud after the group previously adopted the vendor’s Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) for TD Securities Automated Trading (TDSAT), the Chicago-based subsidiary of its investment banking unit, TD Securities.

TDSAT uses GKE for process automation and quantitative modelling across fixed income markets, resulting in the development of a “data-driven research platform” capable of processing large research workloads in trading.

Dan Bosman, SVP and CIO of TD Securities, claims the infrastructure has so far supported TDSAT with “compute-intensive quantitative analysis” while expanding the subsidiary’s “trading volumes and portfolio size”.

TD’s new partnership with Google Cloud will see the group attempt to replicate the same level of success across its entire portfolio.


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MAS launches transformative platform to combat money laundering





The MAS has unveiled Cosmic, an acronym for Collaborative Sharing of Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing Information and Cases, a new money laundering platform.

According to Business Times, launched on April 1, Cosmic stands out as the first centralised digital platform dedicated to combating money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing on a worldwide scale. This move follows the enactment of the Financial Services and Markets (Amendment) Act 2023, which, along with its subsidiary legislation, commenced on the same day to provide a solid legal foundation and safeguards for information sharing among financial institutions (FIs).

Cosmic enables participating FIs to exchange customer information when certain “red flags” indicate potential suspicious activities. The platform’s introduction is a testament to MAS’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of the financial sector, mandating participants to establish stringent policies and operational safeguards to maintain the confidentiality of the shared information. This strategic approach allows for the efficient exchange of intelligence on potential criminal activities while protecting legitimate customers.

Significantly, Cosmic was co-developed by MAS and six leading commercial banks in Singapore—OCBC, UOB, DBS, Citibank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered—which will serve as participant FIs during its initial phase. The initiative emphasizes voluntary information sharing focused on addressing key financial crime risks within the commercial banking sector, such as the misuse of legal persons, trade finance, and proliferation financing.

Loo Siew Yee, assistant managing director for policy, payments, and financial crime at MAS, highlighted that Cosmic enhances the existing collaboration between the industry and law enforcement authorities, fortifying Singapore’s reputation as a well-regulated and trusted financial hub. Similarly, Pua Xiao Wei of Citi Singapore and Loretta Yuen of OCBC have expressed their institutions’ support for Cosmic, noting its potential to ramp up anti-money laundering efforts and its significance as a development in the banking sector’s ability to combat financial crimes efficiently. DBS’ Lam Chee Kin also praised Cosmic as a “game changer,” emphasizing the careful balance between combating financial crime and ensuring legitimate customers’ access to financial services.


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