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MOBILE PAYMENTS PIONEER PARTNERS WITH WORLD’S FIRST ELECTRONIC IDENTITY ASSURANCE PROVIDER

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  • Auka signs partnership agreement with the world’s first electronic identity assurance provider, Signicat
  • Partnership to give participating banks access to regulated, PSD2 ready payments stack as well as ability to easily and electronically verify new customers

Post their successful launch at Money 20/20 in Copenhagen this week, mobile payments innovator Auka, has signed an agreement with the world leader in electronic identity assurance, Signicat.

The two Nordic FinTech pioneers will join forces to give banks who licence the Auka solution access to Signicat’s identity services. This will dramatically simplify the customer identification and acquisition process for banks entering into a new market.

Signicat works with banks all over the world including SEB, Santander and BNP Paribas. The company also works with SDC Group, one of the largest core bank providers in Scandinavia, serving more than 120 banks with its financial technology. Signicat has the largest eiD market coverage in the world, and acts as a single cloud-based integration point to multiple ID ecosystems. Physical, paper-based on-boarding is replaced with digital onboarding using existing ID credentials, and these credentials can be reused for all services.

The first fully-licensed and regulated financial company to be run 100 per cent on the Google Cloud Platform, Auka builds and operates end-to-end payments infrastructure that connect financial institutions, merchants and consumers. Banks can then license the infrastructure and applications and launch mobile payments products under their own brand, all within a few months.

Auka CEO, Daniel Döderlein, says that this partnership is the next step in further streamlining the process for banks wanting to ensure they’re ready for when PSD2 comes into effect come January 2018.

“In working with Signicat, we’re simplifying the challenge of consumer identity. Banks lose potential new customers all the time due to the complexities and time it takes to go into a physical bank with the relevant ID documentation.

“Now, banks who work with Auka can quickly verify the identity of new customers already registered with Signicat’s partners – ensuring a quicker, hassle-free sign up process.”

Research from Signicat has revealed that 40% of potential customers abandon applications for bank products during the onboarding process, mostly due to it taking too long or the amount of personal information required.

Döderlein continues: “We are thrilled to be able to include the Signicat ID service as a key part of our product offering. We can now offer banks an unparalleled solution – a fully regulated and PSD2-ready mobile payments stack combined with the power to reach wider audiences and an extremely easy sign-up process.”

Signicat Co-Founder, Arne Vidar Haug, says that the partnership just made sense and will be a particularly good fit for online banks and their customers.

“The main reason a person chooses to sign up with an online bank is so that they can avoid the hassle of having to go into a physical bank branch or dealing with paper-based processes. Signicat gives banks the opportunity to start new customer relationships on a positive note by establishing trust with a single click.

“Auka allows banks to make their customers lives easier with really simple payments solutions. This partnership is going to give participating banks a real competitive edge: a simple and secure sign-up process, followed by time-saving P2P, transaction and payments services.”

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Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs

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Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs 1

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Bitcoin hit a fresh high in Asian trading on Saturday, extending a two-month rally that saw its market capitalisation cross $1 trillion a day earlier.

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency rose to an record $56,620, taking its weekly gain to 18%. It has surged more than 92% this year.

Bitcoin’s gains have been fuelled by evidence it is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies, such as Tesla Inc, Mastercard Inc and BNY Mellon.

Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and daily volume, hit a record $2,040.62, for a weekly gain of about 12%.

Ether is the digital currency or token that facilitates transactions on the ethereum blockchain. In the crypto world, the terms ether and ethereum have become interchangeable.

Ether futures contracts launched on derivatives exchange CME earlier this month.

(Reporting by Vidya Ranganathan; Editing by William Mallard)

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World Bank pushing for standard vaccine contracts, more disclosure from makers

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World Bank pushing for standard vaccine contracts, more disclosure from makers 2

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank is working to standardize COVID-19 vaccine contracts that countries are signing with drug makers, and is pushing manufacturers to be more open about where doses are headed, as it races to get more vaccines to poor countries, the bank’s president said on Friday.

World Bank President David Malpass told Reuters he expected the bank’s board to have approved $1.6 billion in vaccine funding for 12 countries, including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Ethiopia, by the end of March, with 30 more to follow shortly thereafter.

The bank is working with local governments to identify and fill gaps in distribution capacity, after they purchase vaccines under a $12 billion World Bank program, and also to standardize the contracts they are signing with manufacturers, he said.

The bank’s International Finance Corp, its private financing arm, has $4 billion to invest in expanding existing production plants or building new ones, including in developed countries, but needs more data on where current production is headed, he said.

“We are eager to be investing in new capacity, but it’s hard to do because you don’t know how much of the existing capacity is already committed to the various off-takers,” Malpass said in an interview with Reuters. New or expanded plants could be used to produce other types of vaccinations in the future, he said.

The bank’s funds could be used to expand plants in advanced economies, if the production was earmarked for developing nations, he said.

Malpass welcomed Friday’s pledge by the Group of Seven rich countries to intensify cooperation on the pandemic, saying it could help jump-start deliveries of vaccines to poorer countries, which are lagging far behind rich countries in getting shots in arms.

Data compiled by Our World In Data, a scientific online publication, showed Israel was leading the world in COVID-19 vaccinations, with nearly 82 of 100 people vaccinated, while India and Bangladesh reported less than one person per 100, Many African countries have not started at all.

Malpass said he was heartened by news about new vaccines coming down the road, and about Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE seeking permission to store their vaccine at higher temperatures, which would ease another obstacle to deliveries in lower-income countries.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)

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Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion

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Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion 3

By Paresh Dave

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google will evaluate the performance of its vice presidents and above on team diversity and inclusion starting this year, the company said on Friday in one of several responses to concerns about its treatment of a Black scientist.

Timnit Gebru, co-leader of Google’s ethical artificial intelligence research team, said in December that Google abruptly fired her after she criticized its diversity efforts and threatened to resign.

Alphabet and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai ordered a review of the situation. While Google declined to share specific findings, the company announced on Friday it will engage human resources specialists during sensitive employee departures.

Pichai in June said that by 2025, Google aims to have 30% more of its leaders come from underrepresented groups, with a focus on Black, Latinx and Native American leaders in the United States and female technical leaders globally. About 96% of Google’s U.S. leaders at the time were white or Asian, and 73% globally were men.

As a result of the investigation, the company also expanded a commitment announced in June to devote more resources to retaining and promoting existing employees, including by expanding a team addressing disputes among workers and their managers.

The diversity component of executive performance reviews was not previously announced, and the company did not immediately share details about what would be measured and how pay would be affected.

Alphabet for years had rejected proposals from shareholders and employees to set diversity goals and tie executive pay to them.

Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who advocated for one such proposal at a 2018 shareholder meeting, said on Friday, “I am pleased that they met our demand from 2018, which was a bare minimum that should have been easy to do immediately.”

Evaluating managers on diversity goals is becoming more commonplace. McDonald’s Corp on Thursday tied executive bonuses to diversity.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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