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THE REVOLUTION OF THE CASHLESS SOCIETY AND THE DAWN OF CONNECTED COMMERCE

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By Simon Black, CEO of the PPRO Group

Ten years from now the way we think about cash and wallets will be very different. For most people cash, and specifically physical money, will be kept at home and used only on rare occasions when needed. Similarly, physical wallets that are currently a staple fixture in people’s handbags and pockets will be stored in a drawer, or more likely, may have disappeared altogether. The world of payments is on the cusp of a revolution, one that will affect every single consumer and merchant on the planet, a transformation potentially as radical as the industrial revolution.

Mobile technology is leading the charge in the payment revolution. We have already seen how a phone in our pocket with the power of a PC can change whole markets, even relatively new ones. The effect of these “pocket PCs” on the market in the UK is palpable and this is resonating with old and new markets alike.  We’re now witnessing the rise of the smartphone as a virtual wallet, with Visa offering a conservative prediction that £1.2bn will be spent on mobiles by 2020 and Apple renaming its Passbook app for storing credit cards and tickets as “Wallet”. In fact, I am sure that the majority of people in most countries, will have replaced their wallet or purse with a smartphone-based virtual wallet by 2025.

The last five years have seen numerous mobile wallet products fail soon after launch, for example the O2 wallet which lasted just 18 months. It could be said that these products were ahead of their time, trying to crack a market that was not yet ready for such radical change. However, this has been the common outcome of any burgeoning technology in its infancy. Sometimes it takes a Henry Ford or a Steve Jobs to innovate beyond early products and see innovation through to the mainstream.  Other times, market evolution can be the catalyst to consumer acceptance if the right infrastructure and environment, and the appropriate product and pricing, is in place. Mobile wallets, a virtual representation of your wallet that can hold your credit cards, loyalty cards and tickets, are set to not only create a revolution around how we pay for things but also how we interact with business, which will ultimately enable a new era of Connected Commerce.

Many industries are starting to, or have already, put technology in place to accommodate the growing trend towards smart mobile devices. The banking and financial services industry has been exploring authentication of identity using biometric verification for a number of years now and there are definite signs of a gradual revolution in Western European markets. In the UK for example, RBS and NatWest have announced that they will soon allow customers to access their bank accounts via their smartphones using fingerprint recognition technology.

Similarly within the retail sector, brands are continually making progress with mobile strategies. Mobile now accounts for 40 per cent of all online retail sales with one in four mobile commerce sales completed through smartphones[1] so for retail businesses, the benefits are huge. From lower costs and greater productivity, to better customer experience, it is clear that this is a movement where the positives far outweigh the negatives.

We don’t change our habits unless there is a compelling benefit or we are forced to and it can be argued that consumers love tangible “things”, i.e. having a physical plastic card. However, more and more frequently, value is being placed on speed and convenience which consumers are willing to make exceptions for and it is this convenience culture that is a major driving force behind the cashless revolution.

In the last year there has been an explosion of the use of contactless cards in the UK with spending more than trebling to reach a record £2.32 billion in 2014.[2] UK consumers used their contactless credit / debit cards 319.2 million times last year and 10 contactless transactions took place every second. With 41 million journeys made on the London transport network using a contactless card in the first six months after launch, consumers are now forgoing a paper ticket or their Oyster card (a contactless smartcard for public transport across London). The need to store money on a separate card or queue at machines to top up has been removed.

Contactless is the missing link to the widespread adoption of virtual wallets. Once you are comfortable with waving your card to make payments, it’s a small step to waving your phone or your smart watch. The benefits of the virtual wallet go beyond speed and convenience – no more paper receipts; all your spending itemised and categorised in an easy to use application; loyalty points captured automatically; booked tickets captured and stored i.e. no need to have the booking card present to collect tickets at the machine or box office. In addition, shops you frequent will “recognise” you and ensure you’re receiving the right offers applied to your purchase and your preferences automatically.

The benefits to businesses and other organisations are huge. From the efficiency and accuracy of capturing your payments digitally and the power of subsequent acquired data,  to enriched customer experiences, which can in turn deliver increased retention and therefore improve marketing productivity. The combination of the Internet, smartphones, sophisticated virtual wallets and win/win promotional programmes means commerce will be connected on a scale that was, until recently, unimagined. The effect of a cashless society will lead to Connected Commerce, and the impact to businesses, both large and small, will be revolutionary.

If consumers aren’t won over immediately, I predict it will only be a short matter of time before contactless payments and mobile wallets become the norm. Non-cash payments have already overtaken cash payments[3], which have fallen in the UK from 52 per cent in 2013 to 48 per cent in 2014. In just a few short years from now, payment via smartphone, smartwatches or other intelligent devices is likely to be just as commonplace as paying by cash, debit or credit card today. Be it mobile wallets, virtual cards or biometric payments, the world of payments is transforming and cash can expect to slip further down the preference list over the coming years until it will eventually become obsolete by 2025. The end result will enable commerce to be more connected than ever, creating more value and benefits for businesses and consumers alike.

[1]IMRG and Capgemini’s Quarterly Benchmark https://econsultancy.com/blog/66543-50-fascinating-stats-about-mobile-commerce-in-the-uk-2015/

[2]http://www.theukcardsassociation.org.uk/news/contactless_surgeJan2015.asp

[3]http://www.paymentscouncil.org.uk/media_centre/press_releases/-/page/3237/

Finance

SH Capital Ltd launches in Dubai to support SMEs with global banking services

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SH Capital Ltd launches in Dubai to support SMEs with global banking services 1

Fintech provider to reconnect businesses with international banking services, digital treasury management solutions, risk management and cash investment products

A new digital treasury services management provider SH Capital Ltd (SHC), launches in Dubai today with a plan to empower small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs & MMEs) by offering world class global banking services, asset management, FX hedging solutions, investment products and services.

SH Capital is a subsidiary of parent company Stanhope Financial Group, which launched with $3.5m funding in November last year.  In December, the group also announced the launch of its EU headquarters in Lithuania after obtaining its Electronic Money Institution licence.

The independent fintech firm, which has received its in-principle approval Cat 3A regulatory licensing from the DFSA, Dubai, is set to begin trading as of end of Q2’21, with a mission to help companies meet their financial goals during the Covid-19 recovery.

SHC will act as an intermediary for clients, helping them to access leading and global tier one cash investment products. The Stanhope team of leading industry experts will also advise on commercial paper, money market funds, futures, options, ETFs & FX hedging solutions.  Additionally, SHC has already partnered with a number of global counterparties, exchanges and e-trading venues to provide liquidity in the equity, FX, fixed income and commodity markets for all clients.

In spite of recent market volatility due to Covid-19, SHC are also committed to providing bespoke financial strategies for companies as matched principle, designed to meet their risk tolerance and position them ahead of the curve for both short and long-term financial goals.

To do this, SHC leverages the latest RegTech and blockchain technology, which helps to significantly reduce CBR risk and service friction, whilst maintaining a fast, secure and transparent service.  More specifically, AML, KYC, trade monitoring and a distributed ledger technology are just some of the technology utilised for an efficient and safe execution of service.

Speaking to Global Banking and Finance Review, Khalid Talukder, Managing Director, SH Capital Ltd, said: “For ambitious businesses within the GCC, getting multi-product access and global reach of investment instruments and solutions will be a critical priority for 2021 and beyond.

“Key to SH Capital’s offering is that we have the ability to aggregate high tier one investment solutions in a single venue, delivered digitally through our platform. This gives clients a greater choice and reach over the instruments that they can invest in, as well as our ability to help create a bespoke portfolio on a client-by-client basis through our holistic approach to client service. “

“Dubai is quickly being recognised as a global hub of fintech and innovation, being home to some of the fastest growing, most exciting firms on the planet.  With postponed Dubai Expo launching in the Autumn of 2021, we are perfectly placed to support these business to maximise this global showcasing opportunity.

Many of these businesses struggle to gain access to efficient and high quality digital asset management and investment products globally to support their treasury activities.  We aim to provide a fully digital service offering via our platform allowing easy access to various cash asset management products, services and investment products that they need in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive global world.

SH Capital Ltd will change all that, reconnecting these fast-growing firms mid-market corporates which are the backbone of GCC commerce with the products offered by Tier 1 financial institutions, as well as offering treasury consultancy to take them to the next level.

With over 70 years combined experience in our team of financial professionals, shared with quantitative-driven data insight, regulatory technology and blockchain, we are confident we can provide a consistent treasury management service, free from delays, security issues and unfair charging, to all firms in need of assistance during this difficult Covid period and beyond.”

Kevin von Neuschatz, Group CEO, Stanhope Financial Group added, “We’re excited to have received our operating licence and formally launch SH Capital Ltd in Dubai. Our on-the-ground team of experts will begin trading immediately, providing ambitious businesses across the region with tier one banking and payments services to enable rapid growth during an incredibly challenging time.

This is the first of many expansion plans for the Stanhope Financial Group, with similar launches in Europe and other key regions in the first part of 2021.”

 

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Finance

Daily Mail publisher posts 15% drop in quarterly revenue

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Daily Mail publisher posts 15% drop in quarterly revenue 2

LONDON (Reuters) – The publisher of Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper said that group revenue fell 15% in the three months to the end of December, dragged down by falls in print advertising revenues at its papers and by cancellations in its events business.

Daily Mail and General Trust said that group quarterly revenue came in at 304 million pounds ($416 million), down 15% on an underlying basis, but excluding the impact of cancelled events it was down 5%.

At its newspapers, print advertising revenues fell 38%, compared to an 8% rise in digital advertising. The group said that the impact of the pandemic meant it was difficult to provide short-term forecasts.

($1 = 0.7301 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden)

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Dollar slides vs. most currencies on optimism about Biden administration

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Dollar slides vs. most currencies on optimism about Biden administration 3

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar fell against most currencies on Wednesday, as risk appetite held up on optimism about a massive stimulus package under the new Joe Biden administration that will likely bolster a U.S. economic recovery.

The greenback slid against the yen as well as currencies tied to commodity prices such as the Australian, Canadian, New Zealand dollars, and the Norwegian crown. The U.S. dollar dropped to a three-year low versus its Canadian counterpart and sterling, while hitting a two-week trough against the yen.

The S&P 500 climbed to a new all-time peak, while U.S. crude futures gained as the risk rally carried on.

Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, vowing to end the “uncivil war” in a deeply divided country reeling from a battered economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

The new government is expected to push through Congress a nearly $2 trillion U.S. fiscal stimulus plan.

“Once you are no longer uncertain about something and it materializes, the overall optimism grows and gives way to the global recovery narrative,” said Juan Perez, senior FX strategist and trader at Tempus Inc. in Washington.

“The election and the issues after — all of them played a dramatic role, but now it’s over. Joe Biden is president and stimulus hopes are, like some markets, at a record high,” he added.

In afternoon trading, the dollar fell 0.4% against the yen to 103.54, sliding to a two-week low earlier in the session to 103.45.

The U.S. dollar tumbled to a three-year low versus the Canadian currency at C$1.2607, after the Bank of Canada on Wednesday opted not to cut interest rates. The greenback was last down 0.7% at C$1.2642.

The Aussie dollar rallied 0.6% to US$0.7745, while the New Zealand currency also gained 0.6% to US$0.7167.

Sterling rose to a three-year high versus the dollar of $1.3720, but surrendered some of those gains to trade up just 0.1% at $1.3643.

A combination of heightened risk appetite in global markets and UK-specific optimism lifted the pound on Wednesday.

The dollar index, meanwhile, was up 0.1% at 90.483. Since the beginning of the year, the index has posted a modest 0.5% gain.

Futures positioning data still shows that investors are overwhelmingly short dollars as they figure that budget and current account deficits will weigh on the greenback.

The euro fell 0.2% against the dollar to $1.2106.

European countries are struggling to contain the contagion of the coronavirus amid worries that a new variant could lead to more stringent lockdowns and more economic pain.

Investors are also fretting about the slower pace of the rollout of vaccines relative to the United States and Britain, which may hobble economic recovery in the euro zone.

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Sonya Hepinstall)

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