Fintech TempCheck #2: Cryptocurrency


Want to stay ahead of the game in fintech? Then kick-start your week with Foco’s ‘Fintech TempCheck’ – your insight into what’s on the minds of the sector’s top thinkers.

The format is simple: every fortnight we’ll pick one theme and ask one question. That’s it. This week’s theme is Cryptocurrency.

Our question is: 

"Lloyds Bank recently announced that they’re dumping bitcoin yet some airlines have decided to use it? Is this the end of cryptocurrency?"

Victor Cruz, MD of FinTech Talents

One of the key issues around cryptocurrency is the lack of certainty when it comes to the regulatory frameworks. Banks (and other financial institutions) operate in a highly regulated space and have been caught out and hit with increasingly large fines in recent years. It is no wonder that they are a bit risk averse when it comes to cryptocurrency and, in particular, the association between bitcoin and some unsavoury transactions. I think that regulation in this space will evolve over time and deal with some of the key issues in relation to KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) concerns.

I think the case with Lloyds is actually a bit more straight forward as the ICO (Initial Coin Offering) craze has really driven up the value of cryptocurrencies and they are clearly concerned about consumers running up huge credit card debts in an attempt to get in on the rush. If the value drops significantly and suddenly they could be faced with a large number of consumers who are unable to service that debt; not an ideal outcome. This again points to the lack of clarity around regulatory frameworks and the treatment of ICOs as assets. There is a tricky balance to be struck between allowing consumers to do what they want with their money and protecting them from poor financial decision making and investing in the absence of advice or potential fraud.

Accepting bitcoin (or another cryptocurrency) as a payment mechanism (as many retailers do) is a very different issue than the difficult question of how best to protect consumers without stifling innovation and remaining compliant. That conversation will continue to evolve but I certainly don’t think this is the end of cryptocurrency. This is an immature market and, particularly in the case of ICOs where regulation and consumer protection frameworks are still very much a work in progress.

(Connect with Victor on Twitter @CruzFintech‏)

Jamie McNaught, CEO of Solidi

What I read from Lloyds (and others) banning the use of their credit cards for purchasing cryptocurrency along with central banks and large investment banks sounding off in various guises is the incumbents beginning to get very concerned about cryptocurrencies.

This treatment by the large banks is neither new or unusual. You only need to look at the bank's resilience and attempts to derail Open Banking in the UK along with the difficulties UK fintechs have with establishing and maintaining a decent banking relationship to understand just how self serving and anti competitive the UK banking industry really is.

The genius of cryptocurrencies is that at their core they don't need the banks. The banks know this and they are terrified. Companies, such as airlines, are looking for viable alternatives to the existing uncompetitive global banking system and crypto is there to take the business.

Cryptocurrencies are not dead - far from it - they are in their infancy and the next decade they will grow far beyond what the existing banking system provides.

(Connect with Jamie on Twitter @solidifx)


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Tech & Tonic: TruFin raises cash, Starling partners start-ups eToro adds another crypto

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What's been happening in the world of fintech this week? Sit yourself down, ask someone you love to pour you a glass of gin laced with tonic and read on.

TruFin's ain't what they used to be

Funding news from LSE's junior market as TruFin, the fintech bank, has raised £70 million. As Finextra reported this week, the firm was created through a series of acquisitions made over the last three years by a hedge fund called Arrowgrass, which was set up by former Deutsche Bank staffers. 

Starling partners early bird startups

Digital banking app Starling Bank has welcomed the first tranche of fintech startups to its Marketplace, providing consumers with in-app access to a plethora of third party insurers, pension providers, investment platforms and mortgage brokers. The first wave will include PensionBee, Wealthsimple, Habito and Kasko travel insurance.

eToro bullish on crypto

Global trading and investment platform eToro has added Stellar to its Crypto CopyFund, bringing its total number of cryptocurrency assets available to eight, according to AltFi. Stellar, which is described as an open-source protocol for exchanging money, now joins Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, XRP, Litecoin, Ethereum Classic and Dash on the platform.

"Open Banking - hardly a timebomb!"

In guest posts, Bud's Jamie Campbell and Louise Beaumont, co-chair of the Open Banking Working Group at TechUK, gave Foco their take on the implementation of the regulation everyone's talking about. Read that here.


Guest Blog: Open Banking


In last week’s Fintech TempCheck we asked some of the leading lights in fintech about the recent roll-out of Open Banking and how it’s coming along. We got a lot of great responses, so we decided to select a couple that really stood out for this week’s Guest Blog.

Louise Beaumont, co-chair of the Open Banking Working Group at TechUK

 Tweet Louise  @louisehbeaumont,   @sr_   and  @techUK

Tweet Louise @louisehbeaumont, @sr_  and @techUK


That six of the nine banks weren’t fully ready for the initial Open Banking compliance deadline is disappointing but not entirely surprising as the January 13 date was always viewed as a ‘rolling start’ to open banking. The six-week testing phase will confirm that the open API implementations that are ready are indeed standard, and thus capable of delivering open banking as the regulator intended.
For consumers, open banking appears to be nothing more than a change of Ts and Cs and a lot of scary looking legalese around the dangers of sharing data with third parties. The communication from the banks to consumers and SMEs has been poor to date, and must improve to genuinely help people understand the opportunities available as the open data future evolves, as well as how to stay safe.
The open future starts here; consumers and small business can now start to benefit from a hyper-personalised environment, with predictive and pre-emptive services that dynamically flex and flow as financial needs change, and all based on the willingness to securely share the data they generate. That is vastly different from the financial services experience to date with monolithic banking products that are mass-marketed at - with no consideration to - the individual.
In a new world built around the smarter use of data, large holders of data such as energy and telco firms, fintechs and the tech titans could deliver financial services either individually or through collaboration. They could anticipate spending patterns and usage, comingle data from multiple sectors to surface and satisfy un-met or under-served needs. Amazon, Facebook and others have a distinct advantage as they are designed with data at their core, with a huge incumbent user base and an ability to be at the forefront of customer engagement - while training us to adopt new services.

Jamie Campbell, head of awareness, Bud

 Tweet Jamie  @ JCtheOriginal

Tweet Jamie @JCtheOriginal

Well so far so... much as can be expected. It was never going to be this time bomb count-down to January 13th. That date was the day the first companies would receive their regulation and gain access to the APIs (Application Programme Interface) from banks and that was the day banks had to aim for to make those APIs available. Only one bank made the deadline: Lloyds.
So let’s talk about what we have learnt so far:
  1. Customer awareness around what Open Banking is, is still low. This is likely down to the unclear explanation from institutions, limited coverage in the build up of the launch and few relatable use-cases in the market. Finance needs to get better at bringing the rest of the population with it as it tries to make radical change.
  2. Finding out who the regulated companies are in the space is not easy. The new licences: AISP (Account Information Service Provider) and PISP (Payment Initiation Service Provider) are what gives third party access to customer data on their request, but for a normal customers, how do they find out who the regulated parties are? Currently it's case by case, looking up the FCA registration number. But if you are looking for a long list of service providers it involves downloading CSVs and cross referencing numbers with names... I did it, it ain’t pretty.
  3. More time is needed. Across the board, time is needed to test the experience of all of these services. Whether it's account aggregation or initiating payments, the only way this is going to make a big impact is if people want to use it. For people to want to use it, it needs to show value (which it does), it needs to be secure (which it is) and it needs to be easy (which, arguably, it isn’t). Time will be best spent getting the customer journeys and value propositions correct going forward.
But, it’s only a few weeks in. As the Open Banking Implementation Entity said, this is a ‘rolling start’. Let’s check back in six months.


Want to know what’s hot in fintech? Then check out our weekly Tech & Tonic, which covers the latest news in the industry and subscribe to our fortnightly thought-leadership series, Fintech TempCheck.

You’re a thought leader? Then email us at  so we can add you to our list and we’ll be in touch.

Tech & Tonic: mobile money, pocket money and MORE MONEY for investment apps

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What's been happening in the world of fintech this week? Sit yourself down, ask someone you love to pour you a glass of gin laced with tonic and read on.

"I just called to say...your bank balance is..."

Looks like the wider business world – outside of established finance – is waking up to Open Banking. Mobile network Giffgaff is to use the new rules to launch its own personal finance banking app targeted towards millennials, according to Finextra. The Giffgaff Gameplan app, which will be free to use, is to offer users spending insights to help them cut down daily expenditures and save towards defined goals.

Pocket money makes the world go round

We loved FT Money's special on the finch apps that could help teach children about money. Presenter Lucy Warwick-Ching examined GoHenryNimbl and Osper. And Will Carmichael of RoosterMoney talked about the opportunity we have to teach young people good habits, starting with their pocket money, that will last a lifetime. Well worth 13 minutes of your time.

New P2P investments platform launches

Congratulations to Orca Money, which is now allowing its users to invest in the P2P market, having launched the Orca Investment Platform. Investors will be able to research, invest and build investment portfolios using the technology.

Investment platform raises £250k from crowdfunding campaign

Wombat Invest is the latest digital investment platform to raise money via crowdfunding, according to Altfi. The theme-based ETFs fund specialist surpassed its £250,000 target on Crowdcube with four days to go. 

The scores are in! What the industry thinks of Open far.

We had a sweep of the fintech sector to find out what you lot think of the way Open Banking has been implemented – just one month after the changes came in. Get on the pulse of the sector by clicking right here.


Fintech TempCheck #1: Open Banking


Want to stay ahead of the game in fintech? Then kick-start your week with Foco’s ‘Fintech TempCheck’ – your weekly insight into what’s on the minds of the sector’s top thinkers.

The format is simple: every week we’ll pick one theme and ask one question. That’s it. This week’s theme is Open Banking.

Our question is:

"Two weeks into Open Banking, what are the lessons?"

Louise Beaumont, co-chair of the Open Banking Working Group at TechUK

That six of the nine banks weren’t fully ready for the initial Open Banking compliance deadline is disappointing but not entirely surprising as the 13 January date was always viewed as a ‘rolling start’ to Open Banking.  
For consumers, Open Banking appears to be nothing more than a change of Ts and Cs and a lot of scary legalese around the dangers of sharing data with third parties. The communication from the banks to consumers and SMEs has been poor and must improve to help people understand the opportunities, as well as how to stay safe.

(Connect with Louise @louisehbeaumont, @sr_  and @techUK)

Benedetta Arese Lucini, CEO and co-founder of Oval Money

Open Banking is the beginning of a new era in which banks will increasingly leverage their strength in their distribution network and their existing infrastructure for transactions, partnering with consumer-friendly and data driven start-ups that can revolutionise the last mile delivery of financial services. Today, the consumer experience is cumbersome, but Open Banking APIs will mean a faster, easier and more seamless service across all providers.
For Oval Money, with due care for privacy laws and anonymisation of data, Open Banking will mean an enhanced experience for our users and account connectivity with the full range of banks. This will make the benefits of regular saving available to even more people with the opportunity to deliver customised solutions for groups that are often left out.

(Connect with Benedetta @OvalMoney)

Steve Tigar, CEO of MoneyDashboard

With five of the UK’s large banks being granted extensions by the Competition & Markets Authority, the introduction of the standards set out by Open Banking has, of course, been slower than consumers have hoped. This delay presents a challenge for fintechs that want to use Open Banking to provide a comprehensive service that all consumers, regardless of their bank, are able to enjoy.
While this is the case, our users have taken comfort in the increased protections now firmly established around credential-sharing with Account Information Service Providers and will continue to enjoy services like ours without fear of contention with the guidelines previously set out by some banks' T&Cs.

(Connect with Steve @SteveTigar)

Peter Myatt, co-founder of Bean

While there have been some predictable issues, for example some banks missing the implementation deadline, it is undoubtedly good to see the industry taking a crucial step towards a standardised and regulated environment in which consumers can access their account data.
It seems a number of key players, like Bean, are holding off on launching their Open Banking solutions in the early months, instead waiting to see how the standards work now they have been launched. One thing is for sure, it is going to be an exciting year.

(Connect with Peter @usebean)

Devie Mohan, CEO of Burnmark Research

I think there are two different trends emerging in Open Banking.
This is perhaps one of the best things to happen in the fintech world – several fintech firms and startups have announced new features, new capabilities and new data points in the past two weeks.
However, the customers have said that they do not care, or see a difference around Open Banking. They say they are satisfied with their current switching capabilities (fewer than 20% of banking customers in the UK switch accounts) and 10% of people in a recent survey said they would never go for a product using Open Banking (most likely due to safety and security concerns).

(Connect with Devie @Devie_Mohan)

Catherine McGuinness, chair of policy and resources at City of London

Opening up competition in the banking sector is a welcome measure and something that promises to offer consumers more choice.
We have seen through the growth of fintech, which is burgeoning in the UK, that regulatory change really can shake up a sector for the benefit of all.

(Connect with Catherine @City_McGuinness)

Get the weekly Fintech TempCheck sent to your inbox by subscribing below.

Are you a fintech thought leader? Then email us at  so we can add you to our list of sector voices – and we’ll be in touch soon.

Tech & Tonic: Open Banking arrives at last and attack of the (very polite) robots



What's been happening in the world of fintech this week? Glad you asked. Pour yourself a glass of something nice and read on.

The dawn of Open Banking

The big news in fintech this week is, of course, that much-awaited regulatory change (no, don't switch off; it's actually INTERESTING) - Open Banking. Not an expert? Well, one of the tastiest explainers was from Business Insider's Oscar Williams-Grut. It featured our client, Bean, as well as wise words from the seemingly ubiquitous Samantha Seaton of Moneyhub, Christoph Riech of iwoca, Ed Maslaveckas from Bud and Imran Gulamhuseinwala, a partner at accountant EY. Are we entering a revolution in the way we manage our personal finances?

How PR robots are disrupting banking

Ever had a lovely long chat online with a bank or insurer, only to realise you were chewing the fat with a piece of code? It turns out chatbots are so good in 2018 that they can sometimes be as good at handling customer conversations as we humans. There's some great commentary from economic anthropologist Brett Scott in this piece by Clea Bourne on The Conversation.

Getting in Tandem with Harrods

Start-up lender Tandem has completed its acquisition of Harrods bank adding 21,000 new customers and £80m of capital, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Chief executive appointed for fintech Scotland

Stephen Ingledew has been appointed as the new chief executive to promote the fintech sector in Scotland. The move will apparently "play a crucial role in cementing Scotland’s position as a world-leader in fintech".


Tech & Tonic: Ripple makes waves while big banks tread water


What's been happening in the world of fintech this week? Glad you asked. Pour yourself a glass of something nice and read on.


Float for Funding Circle
Funding Circle, the UK's biggest peer-to-peer lending platform, is preparing to hire advisers to oversee a £1bn-plus London flotation. Sky News reported that the company has told investment banks it will hold a beauty parade towards the end of the first quarter of 2018, with a listing possible as soon as the late autumn.

Ripple makes waves
The market value of Ripple, also known as XRP, rose more than 50% as markets closed last Friday (Dec 28), to a record £63bn. Ripple continued to climb over the weekend, the Guardian reported, peaking at over £74bn, surpassing Ethereum (£53bn) as the second most valuable cryptocurrency after Bitcoin.

Big banks set to miss Open Banking deadline
Five UK banks have been given more time by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to comply with Open Banking regulations, according to City AM. Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), HSBC, Santander and Bank of Ireland appealed to the CMA for a delay to the January deadline.

Due some credit
US-based fintech firm, Nova Credit, which helps immigrants build a credit history, has been named among other fintechs as a 'one to watch' according to Financial Innovation Labs, which is an initiative between the Financial Services Innovation Centre and JP Morgan Chase. 

Pointless predictions
Fancy something more lighthearted with your Tech & Tonic? Antony Peyton, Banking Technology's deputy editor, has made his so-called 'pointless' predictions for 2018. They are funny.

Did we miss any? 



How Open Banking could expose your fowl obsession

 Op-hen Banking: it's coming home to roost

Op-hen Banking: it's coming home to roost

By Michael Taggart

Picture it: it’s a quiet afternoon in the office in late 2019 and you’re putting the finishing touches to yet another hilarious Facebook post – a video of your turtle, Leonardo, in a fedora, playing modern jazz on a tiny piano.

It’s going to get at least 12 likes, you tell yourself, leaning smugly back into your chair, when a notification suddenly pops up on your desktop computer and the colour drains urgently from your cheeks.

“NatWest Bank – monthly subscription – Fancy Fowl magazine – minus £6.50”

Panicking about the prospect of your colleagues discovering your secret ambition to be a poultry fancier, you tug every cable out the back of your machine and the screen goes blank.

Phew. Your obsession with Bearded Bantoms, waterfowl and turkeys will remain private. For now.

For me, this scenario – or something similar, anyhow – is quickly shapeshifting from a childish nightmare into a clear and present danger as we approach the implementation of the PDS2 and Open Banking requirements in the New Year.

"The major social networks might see this as a route into financial services"

These overlapping regulations – the former originates in the EU, while the latter is British – will force the banks to open up customer data to third parties in the form of secure APIs, creating more choice on where and how consumers manage their money.

It is surely not fantastical to suggest the major social networks might see this as a route into financial services, enabling people to manage their money at the same time as polluting the digital universe with jpegs of their children.

Perhaps this is a good thing? It certainly seems like a great step on the road to total customer convenience. But what about security? I’m forever leaving my Facebook page unattended and open at work. I often carelessly discard my phone as I make tea or coffee. I’ve been fraped more than once.

It was with these vexing questions bouncing chaotically around my tormented mind that I took my seat at the Kairos Society UK’s Christmas meet-up, entitled: “The Future of Fintech”.

I was particularly keen to hear the pre-trailed talk from Vedika Jain, of TrueLayer, a company that builds the APIs that will enable this Brave New World of Open Banking and PDS2.

“It goes against intuition – don’t give people access to your account”

Vedika gave as good a summary as I have heard of the likely results of the new regulations, describing an era of “the unbundling of bank services, with new firms doing only one thing but doing it really well”.

She described how personal “money control centres” are now possible. As are apps that notify you about switching and saving opportunities on regular payments (our client, Bean, does just this) and, of course, notifications about your bank account via Facebook.

“It goes against intuition – don’t give people access to your account,” Vedika acknowledged towards the end of her talk. But security is being taken seriously by this sector, for example with the deployment of encrypted information and secure storage.

I left the event optimistic about the volcano that is about to explode in UK consumer financial services. People will suddenly see a wave of exciting apps that are not only usable – but fun. It will become far, far easier for people to manage their money.

And that’s got to be a clucking good thing, right?

Oh dear.


Photo by Ashes Sitoula on Unsplash

Ending injustice: a review of the Trust Conference (day two)

 Nazir Afzal, former chief executive of the Police & Crime Commissioners for England & Wales, speaking at the Trust Conference in London. (Image credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation.)

Nazir Afzal, former chief executive of the Police & Crime Commissioners for England & Wales, speaking at the Trust Conference in London. (Image credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation.)

Day two of the Trust Conference picks up where it left off - powerful examples from people taking the fight to the criminals violating human rights. The conference kicked-off with Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service and former CEO of the Association for the Police and Crime Commissioner in England and Wales.

Afzal mixed humility with humour as he added weight to the serious issue of patriarchy and misogyny which often lead to abuse. His message could have been summed up as thus: men need to up their game. Period.

This is the man who successfully prosecuted nine Asian men from Rochdale for grooming and trafficking girls as young as 12. His actions outraged the far-right (yes, you read that correctly!) in Britain because he dared to challenge their narrative when he sent other Muslim men to prison for violating the rights of young women. Why? Because Afzal’s actions undermined the far-right’s narrative by demonstrating that defending human rights and seeking justice for victims cuts across religion and race.

A deeper level of understanding

And herein lies the key: action. The core theme of the conference - taking action to fight slavery, empower women and advance human rights worldwide.

The main point in Afzal’s talk was the importance of undermining the rising tide of toxic narratives from fringe groups which are stirring populist politics. This can be achieved by developing a deeper level of understanding about what drives these narratives. From this position, strategies, services and campaigns can be designed to reassert a more positive narrative that is built on community, cohesion and compassion.

Brendan Cox, husband of the murdered MP Jo Cox, emphasised this point when he said: “we’re living through a perfect storm of insecurities.” These insecurities are largely to do with identity and connections.

Technology and globalisation are undermining people’s sense of job security as automation threatens to take over millions of jobs. People are more likely to spend more time on Facebook than they are speaking to their neighbour. Communities and identities are being fragmented and all of it is generating a sense of unease, tension and anger. In short, people are seeking an identity - a sense of place and belonging. Populism gives refuge to these people who feel displaced.

The way we communicate is incompetent. We bombard people with facts and figures...we need to engage with people emotionally. 
— Brendan Cox

Raise the standard

Cox warmed the hearts of this Focolist when he said that communications was clumsily delivered. “The way we communicate is incompetent,” he said. “We bombard people with facts and figures...we need to engage with people emotionally.”  

The Jo Cox Foundation is running the ‘More In Common’ campaign which aims to promote an inclusive narrative that brings people together to counter some of the extreme views that have gained traction in recent years.

In order to understand the narrative, organisations - public, civil society and commercial - need to analyse and map the 'narrative space’ to understand how people are influenced. The narrative extends beyond the mere conversations - it includes the conditions in which people live, their circles of influence, and access to opportunities. These factors shape the narratives and belief systems of people, thereby framing their worldview.

Widespread use of echo-chambers

An example of how framing works can be found online in the widespread use of echo-chambers to reinforce a particular narrative among people who share those views. Digital media is  used to orchestrate the scale and speed of these toxic narratives, spreading like a virus, infecting the minds of people and spurring them into action.

Monica Roa, a reproductive rights activist from Colombia, gave an example of how people were influenced by campaigning groups using "gender ideology” (a growing concept in Latin America used to mobilise support for a socially conservative agenda) to thwart the peace agreement in which the rights of women and LGBTI were, for the first time, included in the peace process. Instead of focussing efforts on ending the 50-year conflict, the opposition groups chose to focus on how “gender ideology” was undermining traditional Christian and family values. They created an echo-chamber.

But there is a solution to tackling and countering these narratives. By analysing and mapping the narratives and networks, organisations can design intelligent campaigns to generate widespread support and transform people’s lives. As one delegate at the conference said: “If we do not have a voice, then we do not have a choice.”

Intelligent campaigns built on ‘narrative insights’ can help organisations create a megaphone for justice and equal rights.

John Shewell heads up Foco’s insights and behaviour change practice. For more information you can email John at or sign-up to receive the latest news from Foco.


Ending injustice: review of the Trust Conference (day one)

 World slam poet champion and human rights activist, Emi Mahmoud, recites a poem at the Trust Conference in London. (Image credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

World slam poet champion and human rights activist, Emi Mahmoud, recites a poem at the Trust Conference in London. (Image credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Ending injustice is often about influencing the behaviours of those who facilitate wrongdoing without directly intending it. Nowhere is this truer than in modern slavery. Foco director JOHN SHEWELL attended this year’s Trust Conference to discover what the communications and behaviour change industry could learn from the fight against slavery.

Refugee women in Bangladesh are sold for as little as £5 in a global market that is the second most profitable behind drug trafficking. Children as young as five in Nepal are forced into labour earning so little that, if they are injured or die, it is cheaper to ‘hire’ another child than pay for care. A young woman from the UK describes how she was groomed and by the age of 12 she’s trafficked to repay her ‘debt bond’.

These were some of the stories told at the first day of the Trust Conference, a global summit bringing together change-makers from around the world to share their stories as survivors, champions and leaders fighting slavery, empowering women and advancing human rights.

The event, which is the annual conference of the Thomson Reuters Foundation spearheaded by its passionate CEO, Monique Villa, is a clarion call for genuine social change at a systemic level. Business leaders, policy-makers, and advocates from all over the world converged on the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London over two days to learn, share and commit to eradicating the world of slavery and trafficking.

The common theme at the conference? ‘Seeing the unseen’ - in other words finding the people  at risk of slavery or being trafficked. Organisations need better insights about the issues and audiences they’re engaging and, more importantly, the people perpetrating these crimes.

Professor Kevin Bales from Nottingham University in the UK has set up The Rights Lab to capture and analyse data relating to slavery and how it affects communities and cultures across generations around the globe. This information will help shape policy and engagement to influence change.

Jean Baderschneider, CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, told delegates that businesses can change the game by cleaning up their supply chains while strengthening their brand. Responsible investing is on the rise and if companies have a tainted supply chain consumers and investors will vote with their cash. Being competitive now means taking action to improve social outcomes.

Paula Pyers, who oversees Apple’s social responsibility to supply chain management, gave examples of pioneering practices that have set the standard for the tech sector to follow in terms of auditing their supply chain and focussing efforts on education to empower their suppliers. Their approach puts social responsibility at the heart of their business.

Mondelez’s ‘Cocoa Life’ programme was also another example of a global business scrutinising its supply chain in manufacturing chocolate. Tackling slavery is crucial to their business because the knock-on effect to climate change. Research by Prof. Paul Bales revealed that the impact of modern slavery on the environment makes it the third largest emitter of CO2 emissions on the planet. (So businesses that use natural ingredients for their products have a commercial imperative to stop slavery.)

“What we cannot outsource is our moral responsibility.”

The day closed on a high with the Stop Slavery awards. Adidas took the top gong for demonstrating that they have a thoroughly audited and robust supply chain across their entire network of 1.3million suppliers. Fittingly, the quote of the day went to Aditi Wanchoo, Adidas’ director of social impact and external affairs, when collecting the award, she said: “What we cannot outsource is our moral responsibility.” A perfect end to day one of the Trust Conference.

Roll on day two!

Put on your tin hats, Big Banks - Silicon Roundabout is Coming!

 Fintech visionary: Jeff Tijssen of Capco

Fintech visionary: Jeff Tijssen of Capco

By Michael Taggart

Which one of the following three statements is false?

1.     Patrick, the oldest known bare-nosed wombat to have walked the Earth, died a virgin at 32 years of age last spring;

2.     Our chances of being killed by a vending machine are actually twice as large as our chances of being bitten by a shark;

3.     Around three quarters of senior bankers believe that digitisation will affect their business model.

That’s right, it’s the last one. It's not only false but, astonishingly, the exact opposite is the actual truth – some 76% of senior bankers believe their model will remain unaffected by fintech.

Yeah, right. And I’m Patricia, the straight-laced lady wombat who wouldn't make Patrick happy.

That astonishing stat was just one of maybe a dozen that surprised a rapt audience of students, bankers and entrepreneurs at this week’s Fintech Visionaries lecture at Queen Mary University in East London.

We were in the hands of a passionate and engaging Jeff Tijssen, head of fintech at technology consultancy Capco, who adroitly crafted a picture of an unstoppable revolution in the way we are using financial products and services.

Far from failing to affect the business model of banks, this earthquake began rumbling a long time ago. As Tijssen reminded us, it’s already two and a half years since JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warned in his annual letter to shareholders "Silicon Valley is coming”.

Dimon meant startups were coming for Wall Street, innovating in areas like lending and payments that were key to ‘traditional’ institutions like JPMorgan.

As it goes, JPM decided to embrace those precocious businesses by working out how to collaborate with them. As a result, it has become significantly focused on fintech, investing in dozens of companies, including Motif, Square and Prosper.

In fact, despite the apparent so-laid-back-we’re-horizontal attitude of senior bankers, the big banks now want to become tech companies themselves, Tijssen told us.

Hardly surprising when you consider that the world’s five biggest companies – in order from largest, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook – are all tech companies.

So they have so-called ‘accelerators’ in which they incubate fintech start-ups. For example, Barclays has Techstars near Old Street's 'Silicon Roundabout' and even the Bank of England is getting in on the game.

But the tendency has been to keep the bespectacled hipsters with perfectly manicured beards – this is, so far, a male-dominated movement – at arms length, tucked away among the converted warehouses of Shoreditch.

And therein lies the problem, Tijssen told us. The big banks are often playing at fintech without fully integrating the innovation it brings into their operations.

This might be born of complacency, we learned via some more stunning statistics courtesy of our host.

Only 3% of us switched our bank accounts in the last year. Conversely, a significant 37% have been with their bank 20 years or more.

The ‘Big Four – RBS, HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays – run 77% of UK personal accounts and 85% of the business banking market. This represents a big challenge to the main ‘challengers’ – Monzo, Atom, Tandem, Tide, Civilised, and Starling Bank.

So what’s next? Well, as ever, the Millennials are the ones to watch and – guess what – they’re scaring the bejesus out of the grey-haired board-level defenders of the status quo.

A whopping 73% of Millennials want digital-only relationships with their banks, according to a recent Gallup poll, and 69% say they would try a financial offering from a non-financial brand, like Facebook or WhatsApp (Millenial Disruption Index).


So, what’s the best way for the traditional financial institutions to face this challenge? Tijssen had thoughts:

“Don’t think innovation is building proof of concepts or innovation labs or cool offices with slides and pool tables. The challenge is: how will you integrate fintech into your business?"

All in all, a fascinating and eye-opening talk, whether you were a banker, a fintech CEO or a student eyeing up a career. This free event was one of a series given by Queen Mary Business and Enterprise Society – I’d highly recommend checking out future events.

Foco specialises in fintech PR and marketing - please email Michael Taggart for more information.