Connect with us

Banking

What do Banks Need to Know About Virtual Currencies Right Now?

What do Banks Need to Know About Virtual Currencies Right Now?

The time has come for banks to decide if they will be leaders or followers in Virtual Currencies. To help them take the first steps in creating their own strategic approach, Mobey Forum’s Executive Director, Elina Mattila, explores some of the most important and influential developments that banks need to know about the industry today.

Elina Mattila

Elina Mattila

Outside of the main financial services realm, a multi-billion-dollar global virtual currencies market has rapidly evolved and continues to gather pace. But, whilst virtual currencies have been ‘on the list’ of banks for some years, to date most have taken a hands-off approach.

This is now changing. Some of the larger financial institutions are beginning to formalize their positions. And, thanks to a combination of factors, now is a good time for banks everywhere to follow suit and move the strategic evaluation of this market higher up the priority list.

So, what are the factors at play and what do banks need to know about virtual currencies to enable them to form a clear, long-term strategy?

The crypto-crossover with traditional banking 

The world now has programmable money in the form of cryptocurrencies, which are being used globally to exchange value outside of the conventional banking system. Crypto makes up the vast majority of volume in the virtual currency market but only a small percentage of the global money supply. Nevertheless, the numbers are large enough for banks to take notice and investment continues at pace.

Digital currencies may know no borders, but banks have always had perimeter control – whether they have chosen to actively engage or not – as they essentially own the transfer of ‘virtual value’ back into the conventional ecosystem, and vice versa. Now, facilities exist that support crypto trading without a wallet, for example, Bitcoin ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds), bank accounts and futures. In other words, anyone can now trade cryptocurrencies easily through banks or new entrants.

Capitalizing on this, some larger traditional players are starting to establish exchange and custody infrastructure for their clients, a trend which could see major banks exerting far greater influence and control.

Regulation is coming

Of course, there is greater risk associated with trading virtual currencies compared to conventional currencies. New regulations like Anti-Money Laundering 5 (AML5), however, are increasing medium-term clarity. The fact that virtual currencies, including cryptocurrencies, have been brought within the scope of new regulation is creating a competitive advantage for banks. A closely regulated environment plays to their deep regulatory experience and will make it easier for them to forge partnerships with other cryptocurrency stakeholders.

At the same time, new regulations are making it easier for virtual currency companies and exchanges to get access to bank services. This has been considered by crypto stakeholders to be one of the sector’s biggest hurdles to overcome, so banks may now begin to benefit from increased demand from these firms.

Regulation is, therefore, effectively priming the virtual currencies ecosystem for banks to engage by increasing transparency, reducing some of the associated risk, and lowering the barriers to entry. All of this will make it easier for banks to establish a role and to design new payment products.

ICOs and investments 

An ICO is an Initial Coin Offering, also called a ‘token sale’. It is a public offering of a new token or cryptocurrency where investors typically, but not always, pay with another cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or Ether. ICOs are channeling venture capital investment and associated revenues away from traditional banking systems to crypto exchanges.Their growth demonstrates that virtual currencies, together with the technologies that underpin them, can provide more than just an alternative means of exchange. If jurisdictional challenges can be overcome, these have the potential to disrupt other traditional financial services.

With regulation, however, banks may now begin to evaluate ICOs as a possible investment option for customers.

Gaps are being bridged  

The development of decentralized exchanges has triggered a recent surge of activity around creation of stablecoins. Put simply, stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are either pegged directly, backed by another asset or programmed to ascertain stability against another asset. What’s exciting is that they have the potential to bridge between traditional and crypto assets, and promote stability in an otherwise volatile cryptocurrency market.

Stablecoins represent a far more familiar and serviceable industry for traditional banks, offering them the ability to unlock revenue generation from the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as well as the potential to operate traditional services with new efficiencies.

This is an emerging trend that may have implications for banks in the coming years, and so they may see their roles start to evolve quickly.

What’s next?

There are some credible, greenfield opportunities for banks to explore as they define their role within the virtual currencies market. Whilst the exact future remains difficult to foresee, a combination of these factors, and others, means that banks and financial institutions can now start to make decisions about how to move forward.

To support banks in their strategy creation, Mobey Forum, has released a report entitled: ‘What Banks Need to Know About Virtual Currencies Right Now’. This report, created by the Virtual Currencies Expert Group, provides detailed considerations for banks and financial institutions who are looking to get involved in the virtual currencies market.

Banking

It’s all relative: Older generations feel helping out the family financially is more important since the Covid-19 outbreak

It’s all relative: Older generations feel helping out the family financially is more important since the Covid-19 outbreak 1

Before Covid, 23% of people prioritised helping younger generations out financially, that increased to a third as a result of the pandemic

A recent survey* conducted by Hodge has revealed that the Covid pandemic has led to more people wanting to help younger family members financially.

A third (31%)** of those questioned said that since the Covid outbreak giving a financial gift to children or grandchildren is more important to them, compared to 23% who said it was a priority before the pandemic.

The traditional “Bank of Mum and Dad” is still very much open for financial help, with parents being responsible for 72% of the gifts, but the study also revealed that financial gifts can come from all corners of the family – including children (14%) and siblings (14%).

The survey also found that a third of people have received a financial gift from family, with those aged between 25-34 as the most likely to receive

The most popular reason for gifting money to family is for special occasions such as a quarter of gifts were given for weddings and birthdays but 11% of people have received money to help with big purchases such as cars and houses. In addition, 19% of people have received help with day to day finances, with around 14% of those receiving a gift have done so to pay off debt.

Emma Graham, Business Development Director at Hodge, said of the research: “Our study showed that, as a nation, we all want to help our family out when it comes to money. And whilst we all think of the Bank of Mum and Dad or Gran and Grandad as a traditional source, we were surprised to see that 14% of brothers and sisters are also helping out.”

The findings come from a recent intergenerational study conducted by Hodge, who interviewed over 3000 people about their attitudes towards finances and their aspirations for the future. The full research findings can be found at https://hodgebank.co.uk/2020/05/19/money-its-all-relative/.

As part of the study, people were also asked about paying back the gift, with 40% of beneficiaries expecting to pay their parents back, but this dropped to 28% if the gift came from grandparents.

From the gift donor’s perspective, 26% expect the gift to be paid back, however just 15% of grandparents expected the money back.

Hodge has produced a set of guides on how families can navigate the tricky subject of giving financial gifts within a family, as well as the considerations and steps that be families should think about taking before a gift is given, such as is it a loan or a gift and thinking about contingencies if the family member’s circumstances change. The guides can be found here: https://hodgebank.co.uk/news/

Emma continued: “It’s clear that families feel strongly about offering financial support to each other if they are able and this has increased since the Covid pandemic. Before Covid, 23% of people prioritised helping their families out financially in the next five years. Since the Covid-19 outbreak that has increased to a third of people saying helping a family member financially had become more important.

“So, it is clear that the Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent predicted economic downturn, has led to more families looking to share wealth to help younger children or grandchildren during this difficult time. Many people may look to Later Life mortgages, where many products have reduced their rates and have flexible lending criteria, to help out a loved during these difficult times.”

Continue Reading

Banking

New report identifies the factors which will determine SMEs’ chances of a successful COVID recovery

New report identifies the factors which will determine SMEs’ chances of a successful COVID recovery 2

·         Analysis of the performance of over 1,000 UK small and medium-sized businesses by Allica Bank provides roadmap for SMEs 

·         Regular training, an openness to innovation, and a clear vision all contribute heavily to an SMEs’ chances of success  

·         Allica Bank has launched a programme of free workshops to expand on the findings and support business owners 

Business bank, Allica Bank has combined data and insight from over 1,000 UK SMEs with a multiple regression analysis to determine what factors most closely aligned with an SMEs’ chances of success and separated the highest-performing businesses from their peers. These ‘rules for success’ have been compiled from the research data to support British businesses as they look to chart a course to post-Covid recovery.  

The full report identifies six behaviours for small and medium businesses to follow, to maximise their chances of a successful COVID recovery. The six top-line rules emphasised by the data were: 

Rule 1: SMEs should regularly train staff 

Of the top-performing businesses analysed, 47% provided training for employees at least on a quarterly basis, compared to just 32% of other businesses. Regular employee training was linked closely to success by the model.  

Despite this, many small businesses have neglected training and nearly half (46%) of the small businesses analysed only provide training for employees about once a year or less often. This included 15% that never provide employer-funded training. This discrepancy could represent a significant opportunity for small businesses to unlock the potential of their employees and thrive in the post-Covid economy. 

Rule 2: SMEs need to focus on innovation and technology 

Looking again to the best performing businesses, 76% were found to either continually (39%) or often (37%) be considering new opportunities for technology in their business. This is compared to only 51% for businesses considered to be outside of the top ranks, out of which only 27% admitted to continually looking for new technology opportunities. 

Rule 3: Small business must have a formal, long-term vision  

Nearly two thirds (66%) of the most successful businesses in the survey had a formal, long-term vision, compared to just 50% of businesses outside the top 100. Looking to the businesses that scored the lowest on the SME Performance index, only 37% claimed to have a formal, long-term vision. 

Rule 4: SMEs should broaden their customer reach and find new markets 

Of the top-performing businesses, 65% of these have overseas customers compared to just 40% of the worst performing businesses. Among the best performing SMEs, over a third (34%) identified international expansion as one of the top three drivers for their success. 

Rule 5: SMEs need to develop reinvestment plans 

22% of the best performing SMEs reinvested some of their profits into the business in the past three years with an average 9% of profits being redeployed. Tellingly, this is nearly double what other businesses admit to reinvesting in their business (5%). 

Rule 6: SMEs should engage with local business organisations and networks  

Of the top 100 SMEs, 30% had obtained external credit to expand over the past three years (compared to 24% of other businesses). Meanwhile, only 16% of all other SMEs had engaged with local enterprise partnerships or growth hubs in the past three years (compared to 23% of the top 100 SMEs). 

Chris Weller, Chief Commercial Officer, Allica Bank, said: 

“All small businesses are different, as are all small business owners, but one trait they share is an innovative resilience. Whilst the coming months and years will undoubtedly continue to present extreme challenges, there is no doubt that small and medium sized businesses across the UK will rise to meet them head on.  

“To give them the best chance to succeed, though, they need to be equipped with the right tools. There is certainly no silver bullet or panacea for every small business, but as this study has found, there are a number of common factors found in the most successful businesses that allow small enterprises to thrive and that they can consider individually for their business.  

“This research has identified common ‘rules for success’ that speak to every aspect of running a business, not just the financials. Once we saw these results, we wanted to use them to help small businesses begin to re-build and prosper, by outlining common factors and then examining how best they can be practically applied to businesses in all sectors of the economy.  

“Small business owners and their employees have been hit hard by the crisis, but they have the drive and resourcefulness to breathe new life into the economy and bring energy to post-Covid Britain. Our commitment at Allica Bank is to give them the support they need to do so, every step of the way.”

The full report contains a wealth of additional data and insight into each of these topics. As part of its mission to empower small businesses, Allica Bank is making the findings freely available and running a series of free online workshops with relevant partner organisations for businesses to attend.

Continue Reading

Banking

New research finds that financial wellbeing should be at the heart of banks digital experiences as the UK enters recession

New research finds that financial wellbeing should be at the heart of banks digital experiences as the UK enters recession 3

MullenLowe Profero have today launched a new report focusing on two communities who will be hardest hit by the recession: 18-25 year olds and small businesses. These communities need financial wellbeing support at the core of an increasingly digital relationship. MullenLowe Profero partnered with Censuswide to survey 1,004 18-25-year-olds and 504 small businesses.

Concern around financial shocks is harming individual’s wellbeing

The survey finds the ability to absorb financial shocks being the critical worry affecting wellbeing and 40% of 18-25-year-olds are sometimes afraid to look at their bank account.

They are seeking financial education to relieve worries

With over two-thirds of respondents demanding financial education in order to find peace of mind and 40% of 18-25-year-olds state that thinking about their money has a negative impact on their wellbeing the report highlights the audience are open to more active support from banks. 60% of the audience feel banks should help them have the capacity to absorb a financial shock.

When our bank is in our pocket reminding us of our anxieties, is there now a duty of care to support our wellbeing?

The survey finds that the digital experience is now the number one reason for choosing a bank for 18-25 year olds.

With this shift in digital preference, people are expecting banks to play a bigger role in wellbeing. 58% of those worried about their money want banks to help them take control.

More than half of 18-25 year olds agree that a bank’s role is now to:

  • provide education on money management
  • help them keep on top of financial goals
  • help them save enough money to cope with the ups and downs of life

People are feeling closer to local communities, but there is a gap in how brands should engage communities in a digital world

Half of 18-25 year olds agree that in the last few months the importance of their local community to them has increased. 40% agree they’ve engaged more with their local community in recent months. There’s a tension between how to engage a community as 60% agree they prefer a bank with better digital tools over a bank that offers more local branches. However, 60% feel banks need a branch presence to support local communities.

The importance of Global Wellbeing rises

Over half of 18-25 year olds agree that the events of the last few months have made them seek out brands that do better for the world. The research findings show that what they want most is to be recognised for their positive behaviours. 56% of the audience highlighted that they would find rewards and benefits for purchasing ethically and sustainably most useful.

Banks digital experience today lack empathy

In this time of reset, the survey found a third of customers and small businesses are considering changing banks in the next year as a result of the impact of the pandemic. The report concludes that brands that will win will champion financial wellbeing in the digital experience through empathy and emotional intelligence.

For the full report, get in touch with MullenLowe Profero at [email protected]

Howard Pull, Head of Digital Transformation Strategy at MullenLowe Profero, said: “Our findings are a wake up call for digital innovation in banking relationships.  With digital experience being the number one choice for selecting a bank, there’s a huge opportunity for banks to support individual wellbeing at scale by understanding and responding to our goals and anxieties to build better money habits.”

Methodology

The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 1,004 18-25-year-old current account holders and 504 small businesses with business bank accounts and annual revenues up to £2m between 23.06.2020 and 29.06.2020. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

Continue Reading

Call For Entries

Global Banking and Finance Review Awards Nominations 2020
2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards now open. Click Here

Latest Articles

Return to work: Flexibility, preparation and communication are key 4 Return to work: Flexibility, preparation and communication are key 5
Business2 days ago

Return to work: Flexibility, preparation and communication are key

By Matt Weston, Managing Director, Robert Half UK As lockdown restrictions ease for the foreseeable future, conversations across the business...

How sustainable AI improves the triple bottom line 6 How sustainable AI improves the triple bottom line 7
Technology2 days ago

How sustainable AI improves the triple bottom line

An investment in green AI enables financial services firms to align people, profit, and planet By Nick Dale, EVP business...

The impact and implications of Covid-19 on financial reporting 8 The impact and implications of Covid-19 on financial reporting 9
Finance2 days ago

The impact and implications of Covid-19 on financial reporting

By Mark Billington, Regional Director, Greater China & South-East Asia, ICAEW The economic consequences of Covid-19 have been unprecedented, affecting...

Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy   10 Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy   11
Business3 days ago

Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy  

Leading payments provider, Contis, has applied for two grants from the RBS & BCR Alternative Remedies Package, totalling £35 million.   Unlike most applicants who...

Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver 12 Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver 13
Business3 days ago

Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver

Nearly a third (32%) of consumers would switch providers if a brand’s website is unavailable for more than 24 hours...

Demonstrating the value of collaborative leadership during crises 14 Demonstrating the value of collaborative leadership during crises 15
Business4 days ago

Demonstrating the value of collaborative leadership during crises

By Jean Stephens, CEO, RSM International In 2000, a leading expert in behavioural science, Daniel Goleman, outlined the six key...

Empowerment Accelerates Continuous Improvement 16 Empowerment Accelerates Continuous Improvement 17
Business4 days ago

Empowerment Accelerates Continuous Improvement

By Larry Sternberg, JD, Fellow, Talent Plus, Inc. Empowerment First, let me clarify how I am using the word “empowerment”...

What is loneliness and how can you manage it? 18 What is loneliness and how can you manage it? 19
Top Stories4 days ago

What is loneliness and how can you manage it?

By Iris Schaden Your Business and Personal Coach A mere century ago, almost no one lived alone. Today, many do...

How banks can build digital transformation into business continuity 20 How banks can build digital transformation into business continuity 21
Business4 days ago

How banks can build digital transformation into business continuity

By Andrew Warren, Head of Banking & Financial Services, UK&I, Cognizant Businesses around the world are falling victim to the...

Akerton Partners 22 Akerton Partners 23
Finance4 days ago

Akerton Partners

Akerton Partners S.L. is a Spanish independent mid-market corporate finance advisor founded over a decade ago, in 2008, amid a...