Insurers and reinsurers launch Blockchain initiative B3i

Aegon, Zurich, Allianz, Munich Re and Swiss Re joined forces in an attempt to put blockchain through its paces and evaluate whether the technology can help make the industry more efficient.

Aegon, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich have launched the Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative B3i aiming to explore the potential of distributed ledger technologies to better serve clients through faster, more convenient and secure services. If Blockchain technology proves viable, it could well streamline paper work and reconciliations for (re-) insurance contracts and accelerate information and money flows, while greatly improving auditability.

Munich. Blockchain offers huge potential for enabling digital contracts and transactions amongst multiple parties to be executed in a secure, transparent and auditable way. By establishing trusted relationships among all participants, Blockchain has the potential to provide a consistent, automatic contract execution environment where transactions and contracts are stored on a shared ledger, thus reducing the administrative workload of multiple stakeholders to ensure contract consistency and execution.
Ibanfirst grabs $11 million to expand beyond foreign exchange services

France based banking startup Ibanfirst has raised $11m in venture funding led by investor Xavier Niel. Ibanfirst provides better exchange rates and smaller fees so that you end up paying less to change money. So far, Ibanfirst has managed more than €1 billion in transactions across 100,000 transfers for 1,000 clients

French startup Ibanfirst is launching its full-fledged banking service for companies. The startup was previously known as FX4BIZ, a sort of TransferWise for business transactions. The company just raised $11 million (€10 million) from Xavier Niel and others. Ibanfirst plans to go much further than being a foreign exchange service.

The initial idea behind Ibanfirst is quite simple. Many companies work with clients and suppliers in multiple currencies. But corporate banks tend to be very expensive when it comes to converting money and making a transfer to a foreign bank account.

Ibanfirst provides better exchange rates and smaller fees so that you end up paying less to change money. So far, Ibanfirst has managed more than €1 billion in transactions across 100,000 transfers for 1,000 clients.
Major Hong Kong Lenders Plot Blockchain Mortgage System Launch

HSBC, BoC and others adopt blockchain for mortgage valuation system

A group of banks in Hong Kong are reportedly developing a system that uses blockchain tech to share information about mortgage valuations.

According to The Financial Times, the system is being tested by Bank of China and HSBC among a group of lenders in the region. If fully realized, the system will include participants from mortgage lenders in Hong Kong as well as surveyors, who will contribute valuation data.

Involved in the testing of the system are the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), which earlier this year co-established an innovation hub to support fintech experimentation. The trial is, perhaps, the most high-profile project of its kind to emerge from that effort to date.
Advisers who outsource investment management make more money than those that don't

Outsourcing investment management can help boost revenues, according to a survey of 8,000 advisors.

An examination of 8,000 advisers over a decade showed outsourcing can produce $1 million more revenue for firms. Advisers who outsource investment management could bring in $1 million more in revenue over a decade than those that manage their clients' portfolios in-house.That's the conclusion of a new study of 8,000 advisers by SEI Advisor Network and FP Transitions. The study collected data over the last 10 years and analyzed the operations of firms that handle investment management in-house and those that outsource those duties to third parties.The effects of each business model boil down to where advisers dedicate their resources and time, according to the study. Firms that outsource investment
Sign of a Bottom? Hanwha Life Buys 4.1% of Lending Club

Korea based life insurance company Hanwha Life Insurance has purchased a 4.1% equity stake in San Francisco peer-to-peer lending group Lending Club. The stake cost Hanwha Life Insurance $66.25m and comes after Kim Dong-won's appointment to lead the company's FinTech initiative.

A report in the Korean Herald has pointed to Hanwha Life Insurance purchasing a 4.1% equity stake in Lending Club (NYSE:LC).  Hanwha Life spent 75 billion won or approximately USD $66.25 million as they believe its stock is undervalued.

PulseNews reported last year that Hanwha had designated Kim Dong-won to “spearhead” the company’s Fintech initiative.  The revelation came just as Hanwha stated it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Dianrong, one of the largest peer to peer lending companies in China.  
Ummeed Housing Finance raises $3.5 mn from Lok Capital, Duane Park

Delhi-based Ummeed Housing Finance Pvt. Ltd has raised $3.5 million (around Rs 23.4 crore) in a Series A round of funding from impact investor Lok Capital and Duane Park. The affordable housing finance company focused on north and central India will use the funding to expand and invest on technology to enhance operating efficiency, it said in a statement.


Ummeed aims to differentiate itself by leveraging technology, including going paperless and using tablets—which can help study customers, run algorithms for credit scoring and disburse loans at a faster pace—at branches. 

Vishal Mehta, co-founder and partner at Lok Capital, and Anurag Bhargava of Duane Park will join the board of Ummeed. Alok Prasad, former CEO of Microfinance Industry Association (MFIN), will also join as a non-executive board member.
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