Bank consortia look to distributed ledgers and smart contracts to rewire trade finance

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore have claimed success in demonstrating the application of distributed ledgers to replace paper-based Letters of Credit in trade finance transactions.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore have claimed success in demonstrating the application of distributed ledgers to replace paper-based Letters of Credit in trade finance transactions. The consortium utilised the Linux Foundations open source Hyperledger software for the prototype app with IBM Research and Services providing technical and program assistance.

The application mirrors a paper-intensive Letter of Credit (LC) transaction by sharing information between exporters, importers and their respective banks on a private distributed ledger. This then enables them to execute a trade deal automatically through a series of digital smart contracts.

A report by Bain in July estimated that about 50% of banks' costs for a Letter of Credit arises from manual document handling and checking, which creates delays, errors and expense.
Palantir acquires data visualization startup Silk

One of the many acquit hires these days

Silk‘s co-founder and CEO, Salar al Khafaji, announced today that private data analytics unicorn Palantir would be acquiring the company.

The transaction appears to be an acqui-hire, with members of the Silk team directly joining Palantir in new roles. Founded in 2010, Silk helps data journalists, activists, NGOs and businesses produce data visualizations in the cloud without the need for complex software and programming knowledge.
Sberbank Helps Catch Pokémon and Provide Free Insurance for Pokémon Go Players

Russian banking and insurance company Sberbank is equipping branches with with special modules to attract Pokemon.  The modules will allow players to catch Pokemon at a branch without having to move around the city.  The company is also offering free accident life insurance for players who prefer to explore the city while playing the game.

Sberbank will help Pokémon Go players catch Pokémon: starting July 17, all PokéStops near Sberbank branches across Russia will be equipped with special modules that attract Pokémon. The modules will allow players to visit a nearby Sberbank office and catch missing Pokémon without having to move around the city. The modules will be active during the Sberbank offices’ working hours. Pokémon Go is a mobile game based on real geolocations, asking players to explore their cities in order to catch little monsters.

Pokémon Go players who prefer to explore the city while looking for Pokémon will be offered free accident insurance by Sberbank so that players can concentrate on the game fully. To activate the free insurance, players will need to visit sberbankgo.ru and enter their nickname and mobile phone number.
Goldman's Shot Across LendingClub's Bow

Goldman Sachs revealed on Tuesday's earnings call that they have surveyed thousands of consumers on what they look for in an online lender, and that they plan to launch their own platform this fall. The platform will likely focus on unsecured loans and may compete directly with Lending Club.

There wasn't a ton to get excited about in Goldman Sachs's earnings report on Tuesday.Sure, per-share earnings beat analysts' estimates, but how excited can you get over beating an estimate that dropped like this? 
The Beat Goes On
Goldman Sachs became the latest financial firm to beat lowered earnings estimates

Like the banks whose earnings reports preceded it, trading revenue from the fixed-income, currencies and commodities desks was a bright spot -- jumping 20 percent to $1.9 billion -- and helping the institutional client services segment post a slight increase in revenue:Of course, that could likely be a Brexit-induced "brief reprieve" in a longer-term downtrend for that business at Goldman and elsewhere.
Fidelity launches robo-advisor platform in the U.S. Share

The mutual fund giant has officially launched its robo. Fidelity Go gives retail investors access to an automated platform that requires them to answer at least seven questions about their risk tolerance and  investment objectives, and will be monitored by investment professionals who can give additional assistance.

Fidelity Investments officially entered the U.S. robo-advisor market on Wednesday with the launch of its Fidelity Go platform.
Investors with a minimum of US$5,000 can open an account with Fidelity Go. To get started, investors answer a minimum of seven questions based on their goals, current financial situation and risk tolerance. Fidelity then suggests an investment strategy based on their answers.
Portfolios held in retirement and taxable accounts consist of Fidelity index funds, although taxable accounts may also include BlackRock iShares exchange-traded funds and tax-advantaged municipal bond funds.
MoneyGram's digital business inches forward BI Intelligence

MoneyGram, the second largest global remittance provider, revised its revenue goals downward for the year but is hoping a revamped digital strategy will accelerate growth. Digital revenue while up 17% YoY, still only comprises 13% of MGram's total revenue. Digital has become a key acquisition tool for the firm. Moneygram.com attracted over 214,000 new customers for the firm in Q2, indicating that the firm's website is a key draw for new users. Digital transaction growth remains high, despite moderation. The firm’s overall number of digital transactions grew by 9% year-over-year (YoY) in Q2. 

The top 5 fintech predictions for 2016
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MoneyGram, the second-largest global remittance provider, posted gains in its largest segments in Q2 2016.

But despite bottom-line growth, geopolitical and economic instability across the globe impacted the firm’s overall success and caused it to revise its revenue goals downward for the year.

That means that, in the coming quarters, MoneyGram will focus on doubling down on efforts to satisfy customers and differentiate its brand, according to CEO Alex Holmes.   

Digital, which remains a valuable growth driver, could be a key component of that strategy.

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