Paysend appoints former Unilever marketer as global chief marketing officer

Paysend, the UK-based fintech, has appointed Alberto Macciani as global chief marketing officer.

Alberto will focus on developing Paysend’s global brand and marketing strategy to support the firm’s rapid growth. His appointment is part of Paysend’s strategy grow globally by making what was once laborious, slow and expensive to move money across borders simple, quick and low cost.

Alberto joins from Unilever where he was a global vice president responsible for its household care business globally, running a team of over 70 people in multiple regions. He led the strategy and business delivery for one of Unilever’s oldest and biggest brands, Sunlight and achieved a major turnaround, bringing Sunlight back into profitable and competitive growth. Prior to this, Alberto was responsible for various global and local businesses in Home & Personal Care and Foods at Unilever in Europe and Asia.

Launched just two years ago, Paysend’s money transfer service, Global Transfers, already serves more than 1.3 million users across the globe.

Paysend’s growth stems from the rise of people who are increasingly living their lives across borders. Mobile workers and international students who live and work in one country while financially providing for, or relying on, others in another country.

Alberto Macciani, global CMO at Paysend, said: “Moving money changes lives. Paysend customers working overseas frequently send money home to support the needs of their families. The money may be for food and housing. It may be for better education and schooling, or it may be for travel and luxuries.

“Paysend is helping its customers to keep more of their money which can then go a lot further in their home country. I’m looking forward to helping to launch and market new services soon. This will make paying, holding and sending money globally even easier and cheaper, hence helping people make most of their savings.”

World Bank figures show that there are now 270m people worldwide who live outside their home country, sending an estimated $689bn home. This is almost ten times as much as it was in 1990.

Some of the most popular destinations for sending money from Europe are China, India, Philippines, Poland, Nigeria and Ukraine. All benefit from foreign transfers as money sent home helps grow the local economy and support societal needs.

Paysend charges the same transfer rate, regardless of whether it is buying or selling a currency. This means the only cost to customers is a £1 transaction fee.

Paysafecash launches in Cyprus to enable online cash purchases

CYPRUS – Leading specialized payments platform Paysafe launches Paysafecash in Cyprus today as a new secure and easy way to pay for online purchases in virtually any area of the retail space. Paysafecash was developed by the same Paysafe team who created the award-winning, prepaid cash solution paysafecard, a global leader in the eCash industry.

Paysafecash, now available in 25 countries, is designed for consumers who do not have a bank account or credit card ─ or who do not want to disclose sensitive financial data on the internet. It is easy for consumers to use:

  • The customer selects ‘Paysafecash’ in the online shop as the payment method and loads the generated QR/barcode to their wallet.
  • The code can be printed or sent to a mobile phone.
  • Using the search function, the customer finds the nearest Paysafecash payment point. The QR/barcode is scanned by sales staff and payment is made.
  • The online shop processes the order directly after payment and the goods are delivered. No customer account or credit card data is required and the payment is completely secure.

While the eCommerce industry has been relatively small in Cyprus to date, both the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, and Industry (MECI) and the Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulations (OCECPR) are promoting its adoption which is driving steady growth. Household internet access in 2018 was 86 percent, a 7 percent increase from 2017, higher than the EU average of 82 percent and the world average of 56.1 percent.

Paysafe has had a presence in Cyprus for more than ten years with its prepaid cash solution paysafecard, which is available at around 1,700 kiosks, supermarkets and other distribution outlets. Paysafecash will leverage this existing distribution network, further increasing the availability of eCash across Cyprus.

Udo Müller, CEO of paysafecard – the business behind the Paysafecash product, said: “Paysafecash allows consumers who prefer paying cash to participate in the world of ecommerce. We are pleased to offer this innovative and safe payment solution in Cyprus. With this launch, we are meeting the needs of consumers who want to buy things online without disclosing their personal financial details, such as credit card or bank account information. Leveraging our long-standing presence and an incredibly strong network of distributors in Cyprus enables us to offer Paysafecash to consumers throughout the country.”

Sam Krivinskas joins Together as Senior Legal Counsel – Treasury

Together Financial Services Limited (“Together” or “the Group”), one of the UK’s leading specialist mortgage and secured loan providers, is pleased to announce that Sam Krivinskas has joined the business as Senior Legal Counsel – Treasury.

Sam joins Together from Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank, where she was Senior Legal Counsel and Director in the Structured Products & Derivatives Legal Group. Prior to this, she was Vice President at Credit Suisse in their Structured Financing and Securities Legal Team.

She qualified with the Banking & Capital Markets Group at White & Case. Sam read Law at Downing College, Cambridge University and completed her Legal Practice Course at Nottingham Law School.

Sam, who grew up in Cheshire and attended Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, will initially be based in Together’s London office before relocating to the Group’s Head Office in Cheadle.

Gary Beckett, Group Managing Director and Chief Treasury Officer, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Sam to Together. She brings significant and valuable legal and structured finance experience as we continue to build our Treasury team to support the Group’s growth ambitions.”

Sam Krivinskas, Senior Legal Counsel – Treasury, added: “I am really excited to be joining the Treasury team at Together and look forward to contributing to the continued success of the business.”

EPA publishes payment providers guidance in a call for transparency

The Emerging Payments Association (EPA), which celebrates collaboration and innovation within new and existing finance companies, has published a first of its kind guide to address the need for increased access to bank accounts.

Ten account providers from the United Kingdom (UK) have contributed in their own words to the report, entitled, ‘Guide to Payment Account Providers’, including e-money institutions , digital banks and other Account Servicing Payment Service Providers. The guide examines what kind of accounts they offer, their risk appetite and schemes they support, as well as providing clear and practical guidance for those opening accounts with them.

Historically, the payments industry is often subject to criticism for closing its doors to businesses, due to an increased level of de-risking by UK banks, however, this report provides an objective summary and extended invitation to all UK providers for contribution.

The EPA previously launched a survey on banking access to its members, with 48% of respondent companies having been refused a banking service. However, the EPA’s guide illustrates how far the industry has progressed in recent years, and supports the ability of EMIs, PIs, digital banks to open and keep open bank accounts for safeguarding funds and everyday trading, and to secure a widely accepted understanding of the scale and nature of de-risking and its impact on financial services and businesses.

Clay Wilkes, CEO of Galileo, said: “It is with pride and pleasure that Galileo Financial Technologies sponsor this first edition of the Emerging Payments Association’s Guide to Payment Account Providers. We are honoured that we can count leading UK and European fintech organisations among our friends, colleagues and clients. We look forward to expanding these relationships over the coming years and deepening our association through our mutual support of the EPA.”

Tony Craddock, Director General of the Emerging Payments Association, said: “We must ask ourselves, is the market for bank accounts open and competitive? This report highlights that with some notable and worthy exceptions, there are precious few providers of bank accounts to companies operating in payments which is approaching a market failure. We call on the government and regulators to sit up and take notice.”

He added: “The EPA will continue to encourage new providers of bank accounts and scrutinise apparent attempts to curtail competition by incumbent providers.”

The guide will act as a live document, with more payment providers lined up to contribute to the next edition in six months’ time. The guide recognises the work of U.K. Finance and it’s Access to Payment Account Services, a Good Practice Guide, which provides an excellent summary of the regulatory and legal requirements for providers. The EPA will continue to work with UK Finance and other trade bodies to champion increased open access to accounts and payments within the UK.

Paysafe expands omni-channel offering with launch of cloud EMV capabilities

Paysafe, a leading specialized payments platform, has expanded its omni-channel payments offering through the launch of the Cloud SDK from Handpoint, a pioneer in defining integrated payments. Complementing the existing Handpoint APIs and SDKs used by Paysafe clients with Android, iOS, and desktop apps, the Cloud SDK allows independent software vendors (ISVs) with cloud-based platforms to provide businesses with enhanced in-person payments.

The launch comes amidst an ISV market strongly focused on broadening payment options. This year US, Canadian, and UK ISVs plan to double the number of payment methods offered, according to Paysafe’s Q3 2019 research.

Responding to this trend, Paysafe’s integration with Handpoint’s new Cloud SDK allows ISVs to diversify their payment offerings through the addition of in-person payments with EMV cards, as well as leading wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. The SDK facilitates card-present payments for ISVs by serving as a bridge between web apps and payment terminals, with seamless payment processing by Paysafe. ISVs can now offer their merchants a fully integrated omni-channel experience – a true one-stop shop for all their payment needs.

The SDK is complemented by next-generation PAX Android terminals (A920 and A80 models), hand-held mobile devices with strong user experience that support EMV and contactless payments (via Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G or ethernet). Cardholders’ data is protected by point-to-point encryption (P2PE).

Merchants will benefit from an intuitive activation with no need to manage a complex network setup. The SDK also supports tokenization and tip adjustment, among other functionality.

O.B. Rawls, CEO of Global Payment Processing at Paysafe, said: “An omni-channel payments offering is vital for success in the ISV space – providing consumers with a seamless experience whether they’re paying in person, online or via mobile. We’re delighted to put this into practice in partnership with Handpoint, enabling ISVs’ merchant partners to provide consumers with a strong card-present payment solution.”

Jody Muehlegger, COO and Head of North America at Handpoint, commented: “ISVs must support the specific and evolving needs of their merchant vertical. Our Cloud SDK combined with Paysafe’s omni-commerce technology enables cutting-edge software providers to integrate unified payments across every touch point, without compromising security, control, or the customer experience.”

Decade ends with lowest NPL levels on European bank balance sheets since 2010

The decade ended with the lowest level of non-performing loans (NPLs) on European bank balance sheets since 2010. After a push from regulators, banks across the continent ramped up their efforts, with a record volume of sales in 2018, according to the new European NPLs – FY19 report, published by Debtwire ABS.

From EUR 706bn in 2010, European NPL volumes reached a peak of EUR 1.2trn in 2014 and since then have consistently decreased, to EUR 635bn as at June 2019. The banks that still have the highest NPL volume are France’s BNP Paribas, and Italy’s UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo. The top 10 biggest loan portfolio transactions — excluding transfers to bad banks — were all closed within the last five years. In the past five years there were disposals for EUR 633.8bn across 615 deals, which covers non-core loan and NPL portfolio sales from 2015.

European non-core and non-performing loans disposals reached EUR 102.4bn in 2019, half the total in the record year of 2018, when they hit EUR 208.1bn. NPL ratios fell across European banks to an average 3% as of June 2019, according to data from the EBA transparency exercise published at the end of November, the lowest since the standardisation of the NPL definition in 2014, when the average NPL ratio was 6.5%.

With European banks getting a grip on their bad loans, however, the rate of decrease has declined. The total non-performing exposure (NPE) volume across the European Union was EUR 635bn as of end-1H19, down EUR 111.2bn from EUR 746.2bn a year previously. In the year to end-June 2018, the decrease was EUR 146.8bn, from a total EUR 893bn at end-June 2017.

Italy continues to be the most active market— a total of EUR 38bn changed hands, well down from the record EUR 103.7bn in 2018. Italian NPL securitisation totalled EUR 16.5bn. Notably, the largest transaction of the year was a secondary securitisation. Hoist Finance closed the first-ever Italian investment grade rated securitisation backed by a portfolio comprising only unsecured NPLs, a EUR 5bn portfolio it had previously bought from Italian lenders. There were five deals within the Italian government’s GACS scheme for a GBV of EUR 8.2bn, a huge drop from the 15 deals worth EUR 52.3bn in 2018.

A Greek version of the GACS scheme, the government guarantee scheme Hercules, was approved in December. Waiting for approval of the programme, Greek banks slightly slowed down the pace of sales, which at EUR 9.8bn in 2019 were down from EUR 13.4bn in 2018. Most sales involved secured portfolios.

On the other hand, unsecured NPLs were the majority of those sold in Spain, the second largest market in Europe. Traded Spanish NPLs totalled EUR 16bn, down from EUR 44.9bn in 2018 and from EUR 54.9bn in 2017. In such a mature market, secondary sales are getting traction, notably Blackstone’s sale of a EUR 1bn mortgage portfolio to CarVal.

In the UK, the third largest market for sales, two jumbo performing mortgage sales made up most of the EUR 11.4bn equivalent traded. Bad bank UKAR kept up its consistent activity, with the sale of a GBP 4.9bn portfolio to Citi. Tesco Bank exited the market with the sale of its entire GBP 3.7bn mortgage portfolio to Lloyds Banking Group. Ireland confirmed its focus on residential portfolio sales, which totalled EUR 5.8bn, 60% of the country’s entire traded volume of EUR 9bn in 2019.

The year also saw some notable firsts. In France, BNP Paribas sold the country’s largest secured portfolio so far, the EUR 375m Project Agate, to Hoist Finance. And the largest Ukrainian NPL portfolio to date, USD 416m equivalent in principal and interest, was sold to Financial Company Helios by the Deposit Guarantee Fund of Ukraine.

“Smaller markets are not likely to keep pace with countries such Italy and Spain, but with a still sizeable amount of NPLs remaining on banks’ balance sheets, continued pressure from regulators, and an increasing focus on secondary and non-core transactions, 2020 is set to remain a busy year,” said Alessia Pirolo, Head of NPL Coverage, Debtwire.

Venn Partners announces agreement to enter into partnership with ARA to expand its business in real assets private debt

Venn Partners LLP (“Venn”) is pleased to announce it has entered into partnership with ARA Asset Management Limited (“ARA”) to expand its investment management business in the real assets credit markets in Europe. Subject to regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2020.

The expanded business, to be known as ARA Venn, will focus on real assets credit markets in Europe, combining Venn’s specialist track record with ARA’s global asset management presence and public markets experience.

Founded in 2009, Venn is a specialist investment manager in real assets private debt with combined AUM and investment mandates of over £5 billion. Its current strategies comprise a UK government backed lending programme into private sector rental housing, high-yield strategies in UK and European commercial real estate debt, and residential mortgage finance in the UK and the Netherlands. Leveraging this track record and the combined experience of its shareholders, the ARA group will provide cornerstone capital and working capital to drive the firm’s expansion into new products and geographies.

Since early 2018, ARA has set its sights on the European real assets market and the transaction is its second business partnership in Europe following the creation of ARA Dunedin, which was set up in July 2019 with Dunedin Property Asset Management Limited to invest in and manage real estate assets in the UK.

Under the transaction, ARA (through its subsidiary ARA UK Asset Management Limited) will acquire a majority equity stake in Venn and replace Siem Industries as Venn’s corporate partner. The remaining equity in Venn will continue to be held by its management team.

Gary McKenzie-Smith, joint Managing Partner of Venn: “We are excited to enter this partnership for growth with such an experienced partner, and which is built upon shared corporate values and a vision for expansion. We look forward to harnessing these strengths into an offering which provides compelling loan product for both investors and borrowers.”

Paul House, joint Managing Partner of Venn: “We are delighted to announce the partnership with ARA, as a combined team we benefit from complimentary skill sets and the union responds to both our investor and borrower clients who are seeking broader relationships with their core business partners.”

PayU consolidates its India digital credit offering, announces plan to merge LazyPay and PaySense to build a full-stack digital lending platform

PayU’s consumer lending business LazyPay and PaySense, India’s fastest growing digital credit platform, have today announced the plans to merge their business operations to build a full-stack digital lending platform in India. PayU will acquire a controlling stake in PaySense and all its assets at a valuation of $185 million. Additionally, PayU will inject a total of up to $200M in the new enterprise in the form of equity capital; $65M of the total amount will be immediately invested, while the balance corpus will be infused in the next 24 months to grow the loan book.

This planned merger is aligned with PayU’s long term vision of orchestrating a fintech ecosystem in India by partnering with the right companies and offering multiple financial services. The combination will bring together two highly complementary companies, each with an excellent reputation in the alternative lending space. PayU’s understanding of consumer backgrounds and insights into their purchase behaviour and affluence levels from its payment gateway business, and LazyPay’s deep experience in driving customer acquisition and engagement combined with PaySense’s strong analytics, tech & risk management capabilities will enable the combined entity to serve more of the new-to-credit Indian population.

While India’s banked population has more than doubled since 2011 to over 80%, credit bureau coverage is still limited. BCG research shows that India’s digital lending market represents a $1 trillion opportunity over the next five years.

PayU’s unified digital credit platform will enable third parties such as banks, NBFCs and alternate lenders to co-lend and grow assets and will also enable borrowers to access credit when and where they need it in a digital and seamless way. The joint team will combine its complementary assets, capabilities and talented teams with the goal of making access to credit quick, seamless and widely available for the underserved in India and drive higher customer satisfaction.

Siddhartha Jajodia, Global Head of Credit, PayU commented, “Technology has the power to completely transform people’s access to financial services and the credit market in India is ripe for further digital disruption. This merger is the next step in our journey as we accelerate our vision for credit in India. We’re delighted to welcome Prashanth and his experienced team as we integrate this fast-growing business and build a full-stack digital lending platform aligned with PayU’s overall plan of orchestrating a broader fintech ecosystem in the region.

Prashanth Ranganathan, Founder and CEO, PaySense added, “Providing more Indian consumers with access to credit is crucial to helping individuals grow and succeed. PayU is a natural partner for us as we both strive to make finance more simple, accessible and transparent. We’re excited to start bringing our personal loan product to more consumers throughout India and truly democratise credit.”

Sayali Karanjkar, Co-founder, PaySense said, “We continue to witness the massively untapped market potential for short-term collateral-free loans among the digitally savvy aspirational youth. Our endeavor is to facilitate easy digital credit options for this new-to-credit segment and support their ambitions. Both PayU and PaySense believe in leveraging the enormous potential of technology to unlock credit and financial services for vastly underserved consumers in India and this merger reflects our allied vision of delivering financial freedom to all.”

As a part of the deal, Prashanth Ranganathan, currently PaySense CEO will lead PayU’s credit business in India as the CEO of the new enterprise. Prashanth will continue to retain a stake in the merged enterprise, while all the other investors and shareholders will exit. PaySense’s strong management team of seasoned technology and fintech experts will also become part of the PayU’s credit team, adding value to the combined business.

Lantern achieves gold award for customer experience

Lantern Debt Recovery Services (trading as Lantern), based in Leeds has achieved a ‘gold’ award from customer experience experts, Investor in Customers (IIC).

This is Lantern’s third IIC assessment – with scores steadily increasing from ‘Silver’ in 2017 and 2018 to Gold this year.

In a notoriously difficult industry in which to keep customers happy, there were many complimentary comments from their happy customers, when asked if they would be willing to recommend them, some of which included:

  • “As they are compassionate and understanding on one’s situation. I have a baby, so they lowered how much I needed to pay fortnightly and I thought that was extremely nice of them.”
  • “Because they don’t make you feel like a bad person for falling into a tricky financial situation. They make you feel comfortable, and they help you get on your feet with only what you can actually afford.”
  • “I answered the way I did, because throughout my time repaying Lantern, I was constantly asked on what was best for me, and what would work best for me. It was to always put my interests first, rather than theirs. I was also frequently asked on whether it was still affordable for me and I always felt if anything changed, it would be worked out. Even with being in debt, I felt comfortable. So, thank you.”

The results clearly showed through comment after comment, that the team at Lantern are empathetic; they listen; are understanding; are easy to talk to; are polite and fair.

IIC is an independent assessment organisation that conducts rigorous benchmarking exercises. These exercises determine the quality of customer service and relationships across several dimensions, including how well a company understands its customers, how it meets their needs and how it engenders loyalty. IIC also compares the internal views of staff to identify how embedded the customer is within the company’s thinking.

Danny Pickering, Managing Director from Smile Customer Experience, who facilitated the assessment commented: “To achieve an IIC Gold award is special and is just reward for a business that is committed to year on year improvement of the experience it gives to its customers. What is so pleasing is the number of customers that waived their anonymity and scored the business so highly. The Directors and staff have all contributed to this result. Lantern Debt Recovery are committed to improving their score further by noting carefully the insights that they have gained from this year’s assessment, and where necessary making further improvements in the delivery of their services. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with them in 2020. Well done!”

Denise Crossley, CEO of Lantern added: “This remarkable achievement comes off the back of years’ of hard work by everyone here at Lantern, pushing ourselves to set the highest possible standards when it comes to caring for our customers. In achieving the Gold standard for the first time, we increased our net promoter score (NPS) by an incredible 35% vs the previous Silver assessment – a testament to the favourable perception Lantern enjoys with our customers. I’ve always believed that, even in the world of debt recovery…. and even when you’re dealing with the most vulnerable of customers, it’s still possible to build a successful business by being empathetic, honest and relatable. I’m phenomenally proud of what we’re building at Lantern. It’s something special that is starting to get the recognition I know our approach and people deserve.”

Eckoh joins the Five9 App Marketplace as the first Secure Payments provider

Eckoh (AIM: ECK), the global provider of Secure Payment products and Customer Contact solutions, today announces that it has joined the Five9 App Marketplace as the only approved Secure Payments partner for Five9’s customers.

Five9 launched the App Marketplace in November 2019 to offer technology solutions from trusted partners to more than 2,000 Five9 contact centre customers worldwide. These partners seamlessly integrate into Five9 and provide valuable extensions to the platform. The App Marketplace spans over 10 categories and with the addition of Eckoh in the Compliance category, Five9’s contact centre customers will now have access to the benefits that Eckoh’s secure and PCI DSS compliant payment solutions deliver and their expertise as being a PCI DSS Level One accredited Service Provider for over a decade.

Eckoh provides PCI DSS-compliant Secure Payment solutions to many of the largest enterprises in the UK and US, including many FTSE 250 and Fortune 250 companies. Their patented solutions, which include CallGuard and ChatGuard , ensure that sensitive payment and personal data never enters the contact centre environment when a payment is taken, giving a simple and effective way to minimise fraud risk, secure sensitive data and become PCI DSS compliant. These proven solutions secure ‘card-not-present’ payments made over the phone with an advisor, through an automated IVR, in a live webchat or messaging application, or with a Chatbot. They also allow payments to be made securely with popular eWallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal.

Eckoh will assist Five9’s customers in transforming their contact centre operations by delivering better customer experiences across every channel, boosting agent productivity, reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction and maximising payment security.

“The Five9 App Marketplace highlights our expanded partner community and offerings that complement Five9 to deliver comprehensive contact centre solutions,” said Walt Rossi, Five9 Vice President of Business Development. “With the addition of Eckoh, Five9 customers can now experience the benefits that their secure and compliant solutions bring to the contact centre.”

“We’re excited to work with Five9 to help their customers reach new levels of security and compliance,” says Nik Philpot, Eckoh’s CEO. “With PCI DSS compliance becoming even stricter, and cyber criminals even more aggressive and tenacious, the addition of Eckoh’s market-leading solutions to the App Marketplace will help secure the contact centres of Five9 customers without getting in the way of their business operations or the end-customer experience.”