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Frodo takes on the UK’s big banks and starts a revolution in on-line credit purchasing

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Frodo Financial
Frodo Financial is aiming to redefine the way in which consumers use overdrafts by introducing a new type of personal credit account and so go head to head with the mainstream UK banking community.Frodo Financial

The newly launched business is an independent and innovative financial technology company, launched by financial technology expert and CEO Kevin Lewis to provide consumers with an alternative way to borrow and pay for goods and services. Crucially, unlike the numerous new start up banks, Frodo does not seek to replace existing banking arrangements rather it seeks to complement them – a major factor given the reluctance of consumers to change their bank accounts.

While not needing to change bank accounts might appear good news to the high street banks, less welcome is the fact that Frodo is firmly positioned to compete in their prime lending market as it targets those customers who present the lowest risks. In this regard it is quite different to some of the new start up on-line loans businesses.
 
Frodo has three key products – two of which are aimed at the mainstream banks customers. Frodo Flexi has been designed for borrowers fed-up with the overdraft arrangements offered by their existing bank while Frodo Bond is for investors seeking income. Both products work together to provide what some have described as a ‘traditional banking service’ with money ‘in’ used only for lending ‘out’.
 
Except Frodo Financial is not a bank, rather its regulated under the consumer credit act to borrow and lend money. Its third core product Frodo Pay is a payment gateway set up to rival the likes of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal. FrodoPay, which is regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), is the technological driver behind the new business.
 
Kevin Lewis set up Frodo Financial as a result of his own personal experience of attempting to arrange an overdraft with his existing bank. Lewis, an entrepreneur with a breadth of commercial awareness and business knowledge, felt that not only was the process of arranging an overdraft extremely cumbersome, but the cost of using the facility was too high. He was particularly irritated by his bank’s insistence on adding fees and charges to an already expensive headline interest rate. So he decided to do something about it by using his skills and expertise and so founded Frodo Financial.
 
“I’m not the only person who has been disappointed by the reaction of their bank when seeking an overdraft. Not only was the deal offered very poor but the whole process was cumbersome and difficult. Like most people I didn’t want to change my bank but felt there had to be a better way. So I started work on building Frodo and a financial regime fit for the 21st century in order to challenge ‘big banking’,” said Lewis
 
So how does Frodo and its products work? And why are they so revolutionary?
The Frodo Flexi account is a rolling cash-credit facility of up to £10,000.It is designed as an alternative to an overdraft but can be set up without the need to change banks – it also comes without fees and charges. The customer uses it when they need it – it does not cost the consumer anything if they do not. Interest starts accruing the day cash is borrowed and charged monthly. Once customer starts using their Flexi Account, the minimum monthly repayment is 10% of the outstanding balance up to 100%, plus an interest fee equivalent to a representative 16.9% APR variable. This is a highly competitive rate particularly for borrowings of over £1,000 and makes Frodo a powerful challenger to the high street banks’ overdraft business.
 
With your approved credit limit the customer can use Frodo Flexi to top up their bank accounts or make payments direct from their Frodo account. If they do so then another unique attribute of the account comes to the fore and that’s the very valuable Section 75 credit card type protection which is usually afforded only to credit card payments.
 
It also has the following additional benefits:

  • no upfront, monthly, quarterly, annual or renewal fees;
  • enables the customer to avoid the higher charges of borrowing for overdrafts with their existing bank
  • Flexi account applications are on line and decisions are quick – usually within five minutes;
  • Customers can use the account to top-up their bank account or make direct payments to over 2,500 online providers
  • Pay a bill – all you need is the account number, sort code and reference number
  • Pay directly for goods and services from our growing list of over 2500 selected online providers
Frodo is funding its lending by raising cash by issuing bonds and institutional funding. So far Lewis has issued two successful “Capital Secured Bonds” – all in advance of the FrodoFlexi accounts going live at the beginning of October 2012.
 
Most of the money came to Frodo from large private investors who understood the Frodo concept and were happy to back it with their own money – particularly given the headline rate of 7.5% (gross) per year. Two tranches of bonds were issued in succession – both were successful and both are now closed. Lewis believes that as Frodo becomes better know, then more main stream investors will be attracted to Frodo bonds – although he stresses he can’t guarantee the eye watering 7.5% will be on offer in future. A new bond issuance is being planned for the 12th November at a rate 7 % PA. Investors – whether individuals or companies – will still have to be UK based. The bonds are also available for SIPP pension scheme owners.
 
The final element of Frodo Financial is at the very heart of the business and reflects Lewis’s technical skills in financial technology. FrodoPay is a proprietary payment gateway which will rival Mastercard, Visa and PayPal. By re-engineering many of the processes involved in both overdrafts and on-line payments, Lewis has managed to cut out elements of the value chain so ensuring his processes are run at lower cost than existing providers. This re-engineering is likely to turbocharge Frodo as its scalable technology allows online retailers to accept payments by Frodo customers and also enables them to promote the Flexi account to its existing customer bases as an alternative payment process without incurring merchant fees, (which currently average around 2% of the transaction value). Frodo is also holding out the opportunity for retailers to introduce new business to this business.
 
Without doubt, Frodo is an innovative business. It has a technological platform which controls and integrates external web services into all parts of the customer journey and credit management without being reliant on a third party.
 
Lewis has developed a powerful tool in the fight with the banking competition. Unleashing such a tool on in the highly competitive world of on-line retail and credit, with big high street names vying for a competitive edge in everything from white goods to holidays, will almost certainly prove it’s making.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Finance

FSS and India Post Payments Bank AePS Partnership Advances Financial Inclusion in India

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FSS and India Post Payments Bank AePS Partnership Advances Financial Inclusion in India 1

New Delhi, January 12th,2020: FSS (Financial Software and Systems), a leading global payment processor and provider of integrated payment products, today announced partnering with India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) to promote financial inclusion among underserved and unbanked segments. As part of the collaboration, IPPB will use FSS’ Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) to deliver interoperable and affordable doorstep banking services to customers across India.

FSS’ AePS solution combines the low-cost structure of a branchless business model, digital distribution, and micro-targeting that lowers acquisition costs and improves reach. This strategic partnership offers significant opportunities to bring millions of unbanked customers into the  financial mainstream. Currently, there are nearly 410 million Jan Dhan accounts in India.  A primary reason for low usage of banking and payment services is the challenge of accessibility in rural areas and the cost of maintaining active accounts — including transaction and transport— outweigh the benefits. In rural and peri-urban areas, the average time to reach a banking access point potentially ranges between 1.5 and 5 hours, compared with the average of 30 minutes in urban areas.

Leveraging its vast network of over 136,000 post offices, and 300,000 postal workers, IPPB has been setup with the vision to build the most accessible, affordable, and trusted bank for the common man in India to deliver banking at the customer’s doorstep.  With the launch of AePS services, IPPB now has the ability to serve all customer segments, including nearly 410 million Jan Dhan account holders, giving a fresh impetus to the inclusion of customers facing accessibility challenges in the traditional banking ecosystem.

Speaking on the tie-up, Mr.Krishnan Srinivasan, Global Chief Revenue Officer, FSS said, “We are proud to be IPPB’s technology partner in this monumental nation-building exercise. The collaboration is evidence of FSS’ deep payments technology expertise and commitment to bringing viable, market-leading innovations that promote financial deepening. FSS’ AePS solution combined with IPPB’s expansive last mile distribution reach empowers citizens of the country with a range of digital payment products and advance India’s vision towards less-cash economy.”

“Through the vast reach of Department of Posts network along with the advent of the interoperable payment systems to drive adoption, IPPB is uniquely positioned to offer a range of products and services to fulfil the financial needs of the unbanked and the underbanked at the last mile. Having launched AePS services, the Bank has become the single largest platform in the country for providing interoperable banking services to customers of any bank. The strategic partnership with FSS provides us with an opportunity to expand the portfolio of financial services and improve customer experience whilst maintaining operational efficiency, thus building a digitally inclusive society,” said Mr. J. Venkatramu, MD & CEO, India Post Payments Bank.

The infrastructure created by IPPB addresses the accessibility challenges faced by customers in the traditional banking ecosystem. It fulfils the Government’s objective of having an interoperable banking access point within 5 KM of any household and creating alternate accessibility for customers of any bank.

The operation of FSS’ AePS solution is based on agents performing transactions on behalf of customers using a tablet, micro-ATM or a POS device. The system is device agnostic and can accept transactions originating from any terminal. Customers of any bank can access their Aadhaar-linked bank account by simply using their fingerprint for cash withdrawal, balance enquiry and transfer of funds into an operating IPPB account, right at their doorstep. FSS’ AePS exposes APIs to third parties to develop an expansive services ecosystem and extend a broad suite of financial products and tools including micro-insurance, micro-savings, micro-finance, mutual fund investments, enabling the bank to further services adoption among low and moderate-income consumers.

About FSS

FSS (Financial Software and Systems) is a leader in payments technology and transaction processing. FSS offers an integrated portfolio of software products, hosted payment services and software solutions built over 29+ years of experience. FSS, end-to-end payments products suite, powers retail delivery channels including ATM, POS, Internet and Mobile as well as critical back-end functions including cards management, reconciliation, settlement, merchant management and device monitoring. Headquartered in India, FSS services leading global banks, financial institutions, processors, central regulators and governments across North America, UK/Europe, Middle East, Africa and APAC. For more information visit www.fsstech.com.

About India Post Payments Bank

India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) has been established under the Department of Posts, Ministry of Communication with 100% equity owned by Government of India. IPPB was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on September 1, 2018. The bank has been set up with the vision to build the most accessible, affordable and trusted bank for the common man in India. The fundamental mandate of IPPB is to remove barriers for the unbanked & underbanked and reach the last mile leveraging a network comprising 155,000 post offices (135,000 in rural areas) and 300,000 postal employees.

IPPB’s reach and its operating model is built on the key pillars of India Stack – enabling Paperless, Cashless and Presence-less banking in a simple and secure manner at the customers’ doorstep, through a CBS-integrated smartphone and biometric device. Leveraging frugal innovation and with a high focus on ease of banking for the masses, IPPB delivers simple and affordable banking solutions through intuitive interfaces available in 13 languages.

IPPB is committed to provide a fillip to a less cash economy and contribute to the vision of Digital India. India will prosper when every citizen will have equal opportunity to become financially secure and empowered. Our motto stands true – Every customer is important; every transaction is significant and every deposit is valuable.

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Be Future-Ready: The Case for Payments as a Service (Paas)

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Is COVID-19 an opportunity for banks to skyrocket their electronic payments

By Barry Tarrant, Director, Product Solutions, Fiserv

Over the years, financial institutions have faced a myriad of changes in regulations, technology and customer expectations. Banks are now having to deal with the competing demands of maintenance and compliance on the one hand, and the need to innovate and deliver value-added services on the other. The balance of effort is increasingly consumed by the former with the share of investment in innovation and value generation being squeezed.

COVID-19 has changed customer behaviour, which will accelerate the need for more digital innovation, adding further to the demand on technology resources that are already stretched to the limit. While future investment plans may remain uncertain, banks need to consider several factors for their technology strategy, such as efficiency, where to invest and how to reduce capital expenditure.

It is apparent that the traditional approach to implementing and updating technology is no longer sustainable in the long-term.

The true cost of outdated technology

Maintaining technology has always been a challenge. What makes it more important now than ever is that innovation expectations have become far greater and exist on multiple simultaneous fronts. Today, there is more demand for product innovation, alongside the need to deliver consistently across multiple channels. On top of this, banks are facing structural changes, such as the convergence of payments.

Faced with this combination of imperatives, many banks are finding that continuing to maintain their payments technology in-house is no longer the most viable option.

Banks that persist with existing in-house infrastructures are in many cases spending large sums just to keep up, with little left for innovation. This can put them at a distinct disadvantage in today’s digital environment, where challenger banks and fintechs are fully embracing tools like the cloud to optimise operations while delivering truly transformational customer experiences.

Maintaining technology can be quite costly, and leveraging shared payment innovation can result in notable cost savings. Additionally, there are savings to be had in the areas of capital costs, opportunity costs, regulatory or payment scheme compliance costs, and the inevitable one-off costs from technology or infrastructure upgrades.

Barry Tarrant

Barry Tarrant

And as the options available for customers to initiate payments across card and non-card payment rails increase, this will drive a convergence of the technology that supports the processing of those payments, further increasing the demand for change.

In this environment, migrating to an alternative technology strategy, such as PaaS, can be a strategic and cost-effective decision.

Why PaaS?

One solution to mitigate the risks and costs associated with maintaining technology is to outsource payments activity to a PaaS provider. The most obvious advantage here is cost reduction. However, there are many other positive and significant financial benefits that can be realised in terms of reduced capital expenses and the associated effects on balance sheet and free cash flow. This is particularly important in the current environment as capital investment comes under even more scrutiny.

Running a robust platform is a PaaS provider’s primary business, whereas for a bank it is just one of the many areas in which it has to invest. A PaaS provider is compelled to continually reinvest to ensure their technology never stands still long enough to become outdated, while also recruiting high-calibre personnel to support and advance it.

Geographical scale can also add value and increase opportunities for innovation. A PaaS provider with clients around the world sees and delivers innovation globally, which can be redeployed elsewhere rapidly and at a lower cost than custom development. Also, a global processing network can serve as a worldwide payments intelligence network, detecting trends, such as new payment types, consumer payment behaviour and cyberthreats.

One further consideration is how payments have become increasingly commoditised in recent years. As traditional revenue streams from payments have declined, it makes even less financial sense to retain payment processing in-house. By adopting PaaS and benefiting from the associated cost savings, retained payment margins can be maximised, simultaneously freeing up resources that can be diverted to innovation and value-added activities, such as enhancing customer experience and building the franchise.

Debunking the myths

Despite the compelling business case for banks to adopt PaaS, some remain reluctant to do so because of various myths. One example is the belief that outsourcing data is inherently risky. The reality is, in fact, the opposite. PaaS providers have the scale, resources and procedures to address and invest in key priorities – for example, cybersecurity. Keeping things in-house can actually create greater data security risk if resource constraints are an issue.

Budgetary considerations aside, experience and specialist tools are also major points of difference here. A typical bank IT manager might experience two or three major transition projects in their entire career. In contrast, teams at a PaaS provider collectively will have experience successfully delivering many major transformation projects, and will have also developed a whole range of specialised implementation adapters and toolkits that are continually enhanced and expanded.

Be more agile and tactical

When technology becomes outdated it can easily go from an asset to a liability. While COVID-19 has emphasised this reality for some, truly appreciating it requires a comprehensive assessment of existing technology and its long-term impact on business. Outsourcing through PaaS has a wealth of benefits that can radically transform this situation. Financial institutions can become more agile and tactical so they can continue to innovate and provide services that customers demand while differentiating themselves from the competition.

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Finance

Teaching Your Kids to Build Good Credit: The One Tool You Never Knew You Needed

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Teaching Your Kids to Build Good Credit: The One Tool You Never Knew You Needed 2

Teaching your kids about money can be tricky. You want them to understand the value of a dollar without putting undue pressure or stress on them too early on. It’s essential to have productive conversations with your children around money so they can have the knowledge to guarantee their own financial well being when they become adults. One of the most important conversations to have with your kids is on the importance of building good credit, the steps they can take to do so, as well as techniques for avoiding the risks of poor credit. While you may have already thought to educate them on credit cards and loans, there is one tool you may have never considered that can help you underline this lesson. Read on to find out more.

Tradelines – What Are They?

A tradeline is defined as a record of activity for any type of credit that has been extended from a lender to a borrower and is also reported to a credit reporting agency. In short, a tradeline is a record-keeping mechanism that tracks all of the activity associated with that borrower’s account. For each credit account you have, you will have a tradeline. Generally, tradelines are one of the most widely used tools credit agencies use to calculate an individual’s credit score.

Tradelines typically include the following information:

  • The name and address of the lender
  • The type of account
  • Partial view of the account number
  • Current status of the account
  • The date the account was opened
  • The date the account was closed (if it has been closed)
  • The date of last activity
  • The current account balance
  • The original loan amount or credit limit
  • The monthly payment amount
  • The recent balance (only applicable for credit cards)
  • The payment history

The Type of Tradeline You Never Knew You Needed

When it comes to educating your child on the logistics of building good credit, there is a specific type of tradeline that can help achieve this goal: AU tradelines. In this case, AU stands for authorized user. In this type of tradeline arrangement, a parent can add their children to their tradelines as a means of aiding in building their credit. In other words, AU tradelines are the perfect tool to get your kid’s finances started on the right foot as they enter adulthood. By providing your child with this assistance early on, you will not only boost their credit, but you will teach them a valuable lesson on how to “futureproof” their credit management and use such tools to their benefit.

Ultimately, holding constructive conversations with your kids around responsible financial practices is an essential step in guaranteeing their future prosperity. Not only will you enhance your children’s understanding of valuable financial tools, but you will set them on the path to financial security and freedom. The more freedom and stability they have, the sooner they will be able to achieve their financial goals of buying a car, a home, or paying for their education. At the end of the day, you cannot put a price on that kind of peace of mind.

 

This is a Sponsored Feature.

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