Token, Inc., a provider of a turnkey open banking platform for banks that enables them to quickly and cost-effectively comply with PSD2 and generate new revenue, today announces a partnership with OP Financial Group, the leading financial services and banking group in Finland.
The partnership with Token will enable OP Financial Group to innovate in the European open banking market and generate new revenue streams via future payment solutions.
Steve Kirsch, Founder and CEO, Token, comments: “Token is developing a global open banking ecosystem based on an open and secure payments and information API. Through our platform, OP Financial Group will have access to a fully operational API banking infrastructure which, when combined with the transformative attributes of programmable money, has the power to change the way the world transacts.”
OP Financial Group has a long history of technological innovation and early adoption. The OP Bank Group was the first financial services provider in Europe, and only second in the world, to offer online banking services, and OP Financial Group has an established lab program that collaborates with fintech start-ups to produce world-class digital services.
“Our partnership with Token reflects our mission to become a forerunner in the future of banking and payments,” comments Masa Peura, Director New Business, OP Financial Group. “We’re using Token’s open banking software to get an early foothold in a new era for payments. Together, API banking and programmable money have the potential to transform the way banks transact. In the short term, we are investigating interesting market opportunities with Token that put us in the driving seat and prepare us for the enactment of PSD2.”
Kristian Luoma, Head of OP Lab, OP Financial Group continues: “Perhaps the most important advantage of our partnership with Token is that it allows us to deliver better experiences to our customers faster than we could ourselves. With Token’s frictionless authentication programmed into each transaction, we can boost security and increase payment speed and convenience. Our collaboration with Token also exemplifies OP’s new way of working with start-ups in general. Through our Lab program, we’re able to move faster with partnerships like the one we have established with Token.”
Steve Kirsch added: “OP Financial Group has always been forward looking, and its culture of innovation makes it a perfect partner for Token. The capabilities that our software provides, combined with OP’s appetite for change, makes this a very powerful proposition indeed.”
Token provides the industry’s simplest and most secure transaction-based open banking API.Banks use Token’s software to issue and redeem payment and account information authorisations as smart tokens, which can be programmed with any number of terms and conditions in accordance with the instructions of the account holder. This enables each smart token to be uniquely specified to the transaction it represents and enables value added services to be integrated in just the same manner. Sensitive account information never leaves the bank’s systems, masked or otherwise, vastly reducing the bank’s security vulnerabilities.
When PSD2, the revised European Directive on Payment Services, comes into force in January 2018 European banks will be required to grant third party providers access to their customers’ data. Banks must accomplish this task while ensuring their customers’ data remains secure throughout the process. Token not only delivers this, it goes one step further, enabling banks to create new sources of revenue from API access such as the execution of digital transactions and the fulfilment of account data requests. This new model puts banks in complete control of the digital transaction chain, lowering costs and mitigating the trend towards disintermediation from today’s payment-enabling third parties.
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.
Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.
The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.
Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.
Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.
“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.
Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.
The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.
“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.
The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
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