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FERRATUM GROUP LAUNCHES STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP WITH THOMAS COOK MONEY

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FERRATUM GROUP LAUNCHES STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP WITH THOMAS COOK MONEY
  • Powered by Ferratum’s Banking-as-a-Service platform, Thomas Cook Money will offer the first ever mobile banking app designed for holidays, with Sweden as launch market
  • Other markets, including the UK, to follow in 2018

Ferratum Oyj (ISIN: FI4000106299, WKN: A1W9NS) (“Ferratum”), is partnering with Thomas Cook Money, the newly launched financial services division of Thomas Cook Group plc, to introduce its first Banking-as-a-Service (“BaaS”) venture.

Ferratum will provide Thomas Cook Money with a fully functional and regulated mobile consumer finance offering powered by Ferratum’s highly successful and innovative mobile banking platform. Customers will experience the world’s first mobile banking app designed for holidays through the newly established Thomas Cook Money brand “Sumo”.

In the first wave of Sumo, available initially in Sweden, customers can quickly and easily set up a fee-free multi-currency account that comes with an intelligent contactless debit card. This can automatically identify the local currency, thus enabling them to pay at point of sale at home and overseas without incurring transaction charges and withdraw cash without incurring additional fees.

Sumo also has a range of regular and fixed-term savings accounts that will help people take a year-round approach to planning for their holiday, which remains one of the biggest annual household spends . With the in-built savings tool, customers can set up a weekly or monthly savings plan to reach their target goal.

In addition to the app’s core features, Sumo customers will enjoy new services not previously seen in a mobile banking app. Customers can also click through to the Thomas Cook  holiday booking engine to book their holiday.

Another feature is the ability to send money to friends and family via SMS to cover shared holiday expenses.

Eligible customers will be able to apply for an industry standard overdraft facility up to a maximum of 20,000 SEK (Swedish Krona). This will allow customers to dip into additional funds via the app, to top up their holiday spending whilst keeping control of their budget.

A Sumo account is simple to use and can be set up securely in under 10 minutes, all via a mobile phone. Supporting seven currencies, including Euros and Sterling1, Sumo makes it even easier for customers to plan and manage their holiday money both at home and abroad.

As Sumo will run on Ferratum’s open Application Processing Interface (“API”) architecture, Ferratum and Thomas Cook Money will be able to add further services and functionality to the platform over time.

Ferratum’s full service, all-in-one mobile bank is already available in Sweden, Norway, France, Germany and Spain. Launching in Sweden today, Ferratum will support Thomas Cook Money as the company expands the service across Thomas Cook’s other core markets in Europe, including the UK, from 2018.

Ferratum Group founder and CEO, Jorma Jokela, said:

“I am incredibly excited to be partnering with Thomas Cook Money, one of the most loved brands in the world. We built our mobile bank to ensure the customer experience is super quick and easy, while giving customers all the features they need to live their lives on the move. Thomas Cook Money is bringing that rich functionality to the travel market, which makes perfect sense.

“When it comes to financial services, the needs and expectations of consumers are evolving rapidly, but thanks to our open API platform approach Ferratum, and the brands we partner with, can respond with a scalable ecosystem of relevant features and services – all integrated into one single mobile banking solution – market by market, and brand by brand.”

Anth Mooney, Managing Director of Thomas Cook Money, said:

“We know holidays are a big investment which is why we’ve designed a service that makes it as easy as possible for our customers to plan and save all year round for their weeks in the sun and to spend their money on holiday with confidence. Sumo has all the security and services customers should expect of a traditional bank account, but because it has been designed with holidaymakers in mind, it includes some great added extras, from removing foreign loading fees on card transactions to offering four fee-free ATM withdrawals at home and overseas per month .”

“Working with Ferratum has given us an established, ground-breaking platform for mobile banking services, which we are developing for the future. Ferratum’s international reach is also a great fit for our biggest markets, ensuring we can roll out this service to more countries and more customers in time,” added Mooney.

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Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape

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Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape 1

By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD

Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.

As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.

As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?

Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world

No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.

In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.

Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.

The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses

Justin Pike

Justin Pike

Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.

Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.

The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.

As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.

But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.

A digital world post-COVID

Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.

There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.

Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.

Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.

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Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says

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Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.

British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.

“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.

The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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2021: a new tipping point for digital commerce

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2021: a new tipping point for digital commerce 3

By Damien Perillat, SVP Digital Commerce at Worldline Global

2020 was a year of significant change for all of us, impacting businesses and their customers heavily.  While several industries struggled, the demand for digital commerce and alternative ways to pay took off as nation-wide lockdowns meant customers needed to shop from the safety of their homes. This forced many businesses that previously relied on their bricks and mortar stores into the online space. And now, consumers are increasingly comfortable with ecommerce being a crucial part of their shopping experience – even those who were previously reluctant to adopt a digital life. It took ecommerce 20 years to reach about 15% penetration of consumer spending and in just a few months we jumped five to ten years forward. This isn’t likely to change in 2021.

Even in physical stores, customers are looking for safer alternatives to cash and chip-and-PIN payments. UK Finance revealed that contactless spending was up 18% across the UK in September last year when compared to the same time in 2019 – 64 percent of debit card transactions and 46 percent of credit card transactions were contactless. The use of digital and contactless payment methods will be much more widespread in 2021 as we enter this new normal.

K-shaped economic recovery will continue

With that said, economic recovery won’t take place at the same rate for everyone. Different industries have been impacted in their own unique ways by the pandemic. Leisure and travel continue are ranked as the most one missed activities by consumers and the first signs of recovery will be in the form of an increase in domestic and regional travel.

At the same time, the way consumers are interacting with different industries has changed. For example, millennials are looking for more experiential holidays with strong social aspects, where they can make a positive impact on the destination and people they are visiting. And, younger generations are displaying more conscious buying behaviour, focusing on sustainability.

Other industries have faced difficulties throughout the pandemic. Challenged with economic uncertainty, customers have cut back on spending on non-essential, luxury items, instead favouring spending that has enabled low-touch and home-based activities, such as food delivery, electronics, home entertainment and online marketplaces.

A shift in payment preferences

What has been uniform across many industries though, is that consumers now have high expectations surrounding not only the user experience (UX) but also the payment process itself. They anticipate an easy shopping experience where payments are almost invisible. Having the right payments mix will therefore be the key ingredient for success this year for many. Companies will need to ensure that their payment processes are fast, simple and frictionless as online checkout experiences have been raised to the next level.

At the same time, demand for digital goods and services surged last year as people were stuck indoors during lockdowns so purely digital players benefitted. By the end of Q3 2020, Netflix had a huge 195 million subscribers registered, while from February to June, Zoom saw a 677% increase in usage – attributed to increased remote working.

Clearly the digital transformation boosted the subscription economy, and that didn’t stop at just digital goods. People took to subscription services that regularly delivered anything from food to supplies to their doorsteps. This has been a much safer and convenient way to purchase goods during the pandemic.

So, with subscription services establishing a foothold last year, 2021 will be the time for businesses to invest in understanding the dynamics of what a truly optimised subscription payment customer acquisition looks like.

More online payments means more online fraud

Last year it wasn’t all plain sailing for everyone operating in the digital space. The increase in online payments presented more opportunity for fraud to take place and that’s exactly what happened. Between May and July 2020, when certain lockdown measures were eased and customers became more willing to spend, fraud volumes rose 61%, according to figures published by Barclays Bank.

Damien Perillat

Damien Perillat

Similarly, chargebacks became more prevalent. When shops are more reliant on deliveries than ever before, there is more opportunity for things to go wrong with orders and customers to be dissatisfied with what has been purchased. Fraudulent chargebacks have also become much easier to commit as it is increasingly difficult to prove when deliveries arrive safely.

Therefore, in 2021, not only will it be important to have a frictionless UX, but security measures must be effective without impeding on checkout processes and refund management will remain critical.

Going global

Greater risk of fraud didn’t stop businesses from embracing their new-found digital capacities while physical stores were closed though. Many have ventured into international territory with the aim sharing their services with other countries around the world.

This year, focusing on high-growth markets such as India, Brazil, Russia, and China will be hugely beneficial for companies looking to operate internationally and we could see cross-border sales continuing to take off in these regions. South-East Asia and Latin America have some of the greatest potential for digital commerce growth and I would urge those operating across borders to consider offering services there.

Key to achieving this is the ability to provide payments services that meet the needs of customers in different localities. Worldline research has found up to 42% of customers are likely to drop off and search for an alternative website if their preferred payment method is not offered at the checkout. Therefore, businesses must integrate with payment networks in different regions to provide locally relevant payment methods.

Yet, the web of complexity is increasing for online merchants, especially for those that want to expand internationally. As such, next year we can expect to see the growing popularity of payment solutions that seamlessly support the international reach of consumers and that enable businesses to integrate with local payment networks, while minimizing the need for local establishments and resources.

In a similar fashion, supply and logistics is becoming more localized. Lockdown measures hugely impacted supply chains around the globe and businesses resorted to new sourcing strategies and business models which will continue to be used this year.

Facing up to the change

2021 will be another extraordinary year for many businesses, as the world begins to find its feet again following COVID-19. Businesses must assess their position in the market and ability to meet the changing needs of customers’ when it comes to preferred commerce and payment methods.

Not only will this be critical when operating in the bustling online space, but it gives them scope to diversify, bringing in new revenue streams as we face the current economic downturn. When used to their full potential, payments will also ensure that companies can continue expanding online and abroad, even if the economy is going through a long K-shaped recovery period.

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