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Spire Payments’ latest range of POS solutions (the SP family) once again proves how quickly a solution can be developed to meet the technical and commercial requirements of a customer. This is ever more critical when moving from a significant legacy POS estate (PCI PED 1.3.), to the industry’s latest security standards and capabilities (PCI POI 3.x and contactless/NFC support) in an extremely short timeframe, as in this case.

To deliver the seemingly impossible, Spire Payments allocated a dedicated team of software developers to work with their local partners in Romania (AIM and Servus) together with BRD bank’s project and technical teams. The project requirements were significant as it included the full range of terminals used by the customer: countertop IP/DIAL/GPRS terminals with external contactless/NFC enabled PinPad, mobile GPRS terminals whose POS EMV software application needed to be compliant with the latest PayPass/PayWave requirements. All terminals had to also support BRD’s current Terminal and Network Management Systems, the latest POS software digital signing, terminal key loading solution, the porting of all existing BRD functionalities such as bill payment, top-up, loyalty and the implementation of ECR protocols for integrating with new and existing cash registers used by the Bank’s merchants.

SPIRE PAYMENTS AND BRD GROUPE SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE TEAM TOGETHER TO CERTIFY AND DELIVER TO MERCHANTS THE SP LINE POS TERMINALS ON PCI POI 3.X IN UNDER 10 WEEKS 4Utilising Spire’s innovative application development environment (inSPiretm) the project delivered a fully approved solution in just under 10 weeks from inception. This fast development cycle was due, in part, to inSPire’stm use of the widely-acclaimed Linux operating system, but also its innovative secure framework and key management infrastructure. Roll-out will commence immediately with 4,000 terminals, of which 1,400 terminals will be deployed in a leading European supermarket retail chain in Romania.

The SP family is fully PCI PTS 3.x compliant and adheres to demanding SRED security requirements. These devices utilize a new and uncompromised common architecture rather than evolving from a pre-existing design. This approach will allow BRD to port the same approved application across a complete range of solutions if needed: Countertop SPc50 (IP and dial up) with or without the SPp10 PINpad, mobile SPw70 (GPRS), wireless SPw60 (WiFi) and the intelligent retail PinPad SPp30.

BRD (the second largest bank in Romania in terms of assets) has circa 7,500 employees, over 850 branches and over 24,000 POS terminals installed at merchants. With a very strong experience for delivering quality of service to its customers, from individuals to corporate, the implementation of the new generation of POS terminals will ensure it is both secure and able to take advantage of the latest technologies.

AIM Solution Serv and Servus Information & Communication Technologies, both partners of Spire Payments, are market pioneers in the delivery of integrated end-to-end solutions within the payments market. With 20 years’ experience, Servus is a leading supplier of payment technology (ATM, POS and mPOS), field support and help desk capabilities to multiple regions.

Kazem Aminaee, CEO and President of Spire Payments commented, “This project clearly demonstrates Spire Payments’ commitment to assisting customers migrate their POS estates with minimal disruption and investment. Our latest SP range provides a rapid upgrade proposition and payment solutions for all merchant sectors.”

Daniel Calin, BRD IT Director commented: “Beginning of 2014 meant a strategy change for BRD POS acquiring, aimed at POS service renewal to meet PCI PTS compliance. Within the very limited timeframe available for the project and with strong desire of not making any compromise in terms of outcome, the Spire implementation has proven to be a winning choice. It allowed fast deployment of a new line of POS, with full range of terminal types and connectivity, keeping all existing functionalities of BRD POS and, through the modern Spire technology, opening the path to a wide range of future extensions of the BRD POS acquiring.

Raluca Aelenei, General Manager – Servus comments: “The cooperation between AIM and Servus for BRD Spire project was a challenge that proves both companies capabilities and demonstrates that Spire range is the fastest upgrade solution for all customers that have Optimum POS network and not only. For this project, in close cooperation with BRD team and Spire team, we’ve achieved something that seems quite impossible: POS certification, delivery and pilot in accordance with the specific customer requirements and to the latest industry standards in less than 10 weeks”.

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England



Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England 5

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)

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout



UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 6

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 State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’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)


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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit



Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 7

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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