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Serving the 2 Billion Unbanked: A New Trillion Dollar Market

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Serving the 2 Billion Unbanked: A New Trillion Dollar Market

Banking in its current for may soon be dead. Long live super-banking. Banking has a disease. It’s stuck in a time warp and inspires little trust or customer confidence, but that was yesterday. Today, the genius of technology is surrounding this space, and the future may already be here. Banks are scared, and they should be. They’ve forgotten that the customer is king, and that this is a digital era where innovative new fintech companies have them surrounded. Mentioned in today’s commentary: Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), Accenture (NYSE: ACN), Quintiles IMS Holdings, Inc (NYSE:Q), Quintiles IMS Holdings, Inc (NYSE:Q).

Digital and mobile payment platforms are replacing traditional banks and credit card systems. American frustration with the banking industry has led to record years of mounting complaints.

This is the banking model reboot, and one company is ready to roll out the super-bank model of the century: One that will serve millions of ordinary customers by listening, by making it super-easy to pay utility bills, send and receive money and even buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

The massive digital evolution that could completely up-end the banking industry is already here. And the company behind the super-bank evolution is QPAGOS (QPAG).

QPAGOS is already working with giants in the telecommunications and tech industries: That includes AT&T, Xbox, Apple, Virgin Mobile, Nextel–and 150 others. And it’s ready to latch on to the opportunity to try to capture another 400 million customers over the next few years.

The company plans to roll out tens of thousands of self-service kiosks in the U.S. and if that sounds wild, it is-but it’s not wildly expensive. QPAGOS’ plan to capture the evolution of banking comes at a ridiculously low-price tag compared to traditional banking.

Not only do Super-Banks operate at a fraction of the cost, they have more profit potential because of the fee structure that collects on a wider spectrum of services. So far, QPAGOS has been seeing double-digit quarter-on-quarter revenue and earnings growth for four straight years.

Now comes the big push … and while traditional banks are busy shuttering thousands of branches in the suburbs and out-backs, this Super-Bank is preparing its major breakout. Consider this: they’ve already got 700 self-service banking kiosks up and running. The next phase is 1,000 new kiosks, and they’re planning 10,000 over the next few years.

The future of banking is here.

Here are 5 Reasons to keep a very close eye on the QPAGOS (QPAG) breakout:

#1 Fees, Fees, Fees: A Revenue Generating Genius

QPAGOS has already stormed Mexico. It has positioned itself as one of Mexico’s pre-eminent providers of cutting-edge digital payment services for both consumers, merchants and services providers, and now it’s coming to the U.S.

The company’s payment ecosystem is huge. It boasts a massive network of self-service banking kiosks, point-of-sale terminals and mobile apps that connect merchants and consumers with more than 150 service providers across multiple devices.

It’s even got a proprietary electronic wallet–Monedero-which lets users deposit cash for future top-ups or mobile app purchases. It’s established in Mexico, where it is one of the pre-eminent providers of cutting edge digital payment services. And it’s a household name on all fronts: consumers, merchants and service providers.

Mexico has been a gold mine, with 60 percent of its population not using banks and 95 percent of consumer purchases being made in cash. Enter QPAGOS with a digital solution that met everyone’s needs.

Mexico was the springboard. And it was a wild success. What has come since then is global. And its payment solutions have already been successfully deployed across continents, including South America, North America and Europe. And it’s all about revenue. In this case, it’s about combining the massive revenue of banks, online payment processors and mobile payment solutions.

The potential markets for payment processing, utility payments and overseas remittance services are mouth-watering, and that’s just in Mexico.

#2 Scaling Up: 10,000 New Banks Coming

Let’s break it down, because this is only part of the game:

Not only does QPAGOS earns fees when people upload funds to Monedero when they have to pay bills for the hundreds of providers on the platform. It’s also launched a charm offensive targeting the lucrative international remittances market.

The company has begun rolling out a huge network of self-service banks along the U.S.(California)- Latin America corridor to facilitate cross-border money transfer and payments. And it’s planning to deploy 1,000 self-service kiosks in California in Phase 1 and rapidly ramp up to 10,000 self-service banks over the next few years.

As the company continues to rapidly scale up, its addressable markets and revenues are expected to grow in tandem. This should provide it with excellent growth runways that are likely to help the company exceed its robust revenue growth clip of 58 percent Year-over-Year and 37 percent Quarter-over-Quarter (posted during the first quarter of 2018).

#3 A Very Lucrative Model of Inclusion

Capturing the global banking market right now is about two things: inclusion and self-service. That’s why traditional banks are way behind. Until now, QPAGOS has mainly targeted Mexico, where low credit card and ecommerce penetration and a high cash usage have created a huge market for this product. In Mexico, only 2 percent of the country’s $200-bilion annual retails sales are transacted through credit cards.

The unbanked world is much like the USA was in 1950. Inefficiency has ruled the day. Long queues, high fees and low cash-machine coverage are all the hallmarks of the banking industry in these countries.

QPAGOS noticed these glaring inefficiencies and responded, seeking to bring a super-bank kiosk to every street corner. Then they added pre-paid payments, loans and remittance services.

Now, in Mexico, they’re targeting a market with 6 billion cashless transactions a year and have started reaping the rewards.

The value proposition is impressive:

• Intuitive, easy-to-use touchscreens that not only allow direct interaction with customers but also generate new leads which allows QPAGOS to cross-sell its multiple services to users.

• Tailored payment solutions easily adapted to different customer needs housed in highly secure data centers and designed for rapid deployment.

• A vendor agnostic system, which means they can be delivered through a wide range of hardware devices including its self-service banks, mobile devices, POS devices and PCs.

• Proprietary payment solutions that aren’t just cheaper, but they offer wider geographical coverage depending on mobile connectivity.

This is how the will capture the market: with flexibility. In fact, it’s all so flexible that it’s ideal for everyone from retailers who want to decongest teller lines and agent networks of independent businesses with high customer traffic to banks and financial intermediaries who want to extend their geographical collection points. Or government municipalities that are looking to bring services closer to citizens…or even a wide range of electronic payment distributors who would like to use QPAGOS’ self-service banking kiosks to reach customers.

#4 Huge Network for Major U.S. Rollout

The beauty of it all is that QPAGOS is likely to hit the ground running once it embarks on rolling out self-service banking kiosks across the United States. Behind these super-bank kiosks is an entire ecosystem of service providers including heavy-hitters like AT&T, Facebook, Dish, Sky, Movistar, Maxcom, Nextel, Telcel, Infonavit, Telmex, Izzi, CFE, Gas Natural, Pronosticos and other mainstream service providers.

Again, the U.S. rollout is going to see 1,000 new kiosks along the California-Latin America corridor, and a whopping 10,000 in the next few years. And QPAGOS has a huge moat … Boasting considerable technology and contractual moats, QPAGOS is set to expand and defend its position in the cash2digital payments industry.

It’s contractual agreement moat is equally impressive. QPAGOS has already signed up more than 140 mainstream service providers to its platform including ATT, Xbox and cell phone providers Telcel, Telmex, Virgin Mobile, Nextel as well as other large providers that serve millions of Mexicans.

Now they can focus on the business of rolling out super bank kiosks in the U.S.

#5 Super-Tag Team for Super-Banking Evolution

Led by CEO and Chairman Gastón Pereira, QPAGOS is trouncing the future of banking. Pereira, formerly of Citibank, has over three decades of experience in financial services, cross border payments and telecommunications in all the right geographies: U.S. Europe and Latin America.

In this sector, he’s a groundbreaker, and when it comes to digital consumer financial products and services, he’s a pioneer. Nobody knows Latin America remittances like Pereira, and this will be one of QPAGOS biggest expansion areas.

It helps, too, that Director James W. Fuller, a former senior VP of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is on board, along with Andrey Novikov, a figure synonymous with global innovative payment services.

Together, they are building a momentum that is bulldozing its way across continents. More super-bank kiosks are rolling out in Mexico right now, but the biggest opportunity presents a critical moment for investors: They’re preparing a major U.S. rollout right now, and with earnings growing over 30 percent quarter-on-quarter, the next quarter close is drawing near.

Other tech companies to watch as finance gets turned on its head:

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG): With a market cap of over $809 billion, this is the second-largest by market capitalization in the S&P 500. Despite Google’s stance against cryptocurrencies, the company is actively pursuing blockchain technology and is a key player in the fintech realm with its Google Pay application. As the battle against banking heats up, Google is leading the charge.

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) With the fintech revolution threatening its core business Bank of America is embracing the revolution in artificial intelligence. Embracing this new tech should set BOA above and beyond its competition, though Citigroup and other major bankers have shown little hesitation in getting into new tech themselves.

Accenture (NYSE: ACN), the global consulting and technology firm, is arguably at the forefront of blockchain technology. Accenture can claim leadership on multiple fronts in the blockchain space, working with industries, governments, the academic community and crypto-tech experts.

Quintiles IMS Holdings, Inc (NYSE:Q) is one of the world’s “most admired companies” according to Fortune Magazine. Spanning over 100 countries, Quintiles IMS is definitely ahead of the pack. Quintiles IMS provides research and development that push healthcare forward using data and technology.

Pure Storage Inc (NYSE:PSTG) knows that data platforms are also a key asset in protecting companies against cyber-attacks. As the cybersecurity world becomes increasingly competitive, Pure Storage stands out because of its innovative and forward-thinking business model.

By. Ian Jenkins

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U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller

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U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller 1

WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.

Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.

“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.

Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.

While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.

“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”

Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.

“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.

“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”

The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.

“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.

She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.

Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.

Gorman’s books are both due out in September.

Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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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 2

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 3

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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