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Digital Economy:
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Banca Sella, Lloyd's and Mastercard Are Testing The Waters of Fintech

07 September 2018 16:05, UTC   |    4764
Banca Sella, Lloyd's and Mastercard Are Testing The Waters of Fintech
By Daniil Danchenko, Vsevolod Gnetii

Big capital is very cautious when it comes to innovation. Being completely honest - it’s borderline hostile. In many cases, they consider this stuff “useless” and “pointless.” The thing is - they just can because they have history and tradition to back their opinion (and let’s not forget about reputation and finances). However, nothing is set in stone.

Let’s take Italy as an example. Out there official stance on the fintech is pretty negative. Well, they have reasons, as one of the official reports says: “Cryptocurrencies are very unreliable and potentially dangerous.” And the oldest bank of Italy, Banca Sella, has voted for its importance in the most precious way that banks know - with their money. They invested in the Milan’s Fintech District, a professional community which accounts for 60 companies that work in the various fintech and international fields with an aim to build the innovative infrastructure.

According to the words of the bank CEO Pietro CELLA, there was a natural evolution towards digital technologies, with the beginning due to the creation of the innovative center Sella Lab in 2013 that led to further digitalization. The future of the banking sector is a high level of qualified advice for customers with a strong technological component. One of the main characteristics is an open banking service, a new business model based on a digital platform open to businesses and start-ups and substantially - tokenized assets.

And the world of big money feels it - more and more companies are taking steps towards “new and mysterious” fintech despite their often antiquated ideas and lack of trust towards it. An excellent example of this is London’s Lloyds’. A company that was a prominent opponent of cryptocurrencies and everything connected to crypto related assets. Sure enough, they didn’t start to sell crypto or do something like that, but they did an equally important thing. They began to issue insurances for the crypto investors. For the moment - not directly, but throw the custodial service called Kingdom Trust.

Kingdom Trust, with a client base that accounts for more than 100 thousand people and $12 billion of value in their pockets, managed to score themselves a deal that changes everything - they got insured against loss and natural disasters. Astonishing fact is just a month before that all their syndicated companies got a memo urging them to be extra careful when it comes to everything crypto-related.

Payment services are not late for the fintech party either - recently Mastercard managed to get their hands on a patent that solves one of the most significant issues that plagues crypto - transaction speeds. So they continue to patent potentially breakthrough tools. But despite that  Mastercard CEO publicly called out crypto as being a junk assets that is no good for anything.

African situation is a whole lot more interesting - there are countries that used to be off the global financial market because of the significant social differences. Banks, ATMs, and bonds are all city things. However, in half of Africa, they are in the minority - most of the people live outside of towns, and they don’t need to use traditional banking tools.

Fintech allows to “jump” that stage, with a little help of traditional tech. The thing is - African level of “mobilization” is huge, according to some predictions in 2020 inhabitants of the continent will have around 525 million of smartphones. This is why fintech on the continent went the other way around, and they chose to focus on the sphere of “mobile payments.”

Inflation, unsavory social situation and hard things like these often create a massive gap between town and village inhabitants. And the possibility to send money to anyone or anywhere allows solving at least some of those issues. Unlike stereotypes, Africa is a vast market that is ripe to be taken. All you need to understand is the rules of the “game.”

However, most of those things are individual cases. In Switzerland support of the crypto and fintech is countrywide. There is a common issue that is relatively well known and does not surprise anyone in the industry - banks are not okay with crypto-related assets, so they close and ban many accounts as soon as they learn they are related with crypto. That was one of the reasons why famous swiss Zug, nicknamed once the silicon valley of the crypto, started to lose its popularity.

Swiss government took a bold and surprising decision, that was simple in its elegance - talking about it to solve the issues between. They have created a workgroup that has to form a strategy that satisfies both parties and allows them to stop hiding or leave the country in search of more laid back and crypto friendly legal boundaries.

If follow the general trend - massive amount of the institutional investors, that used to be very cautious or negative when it comes to all fintech related topics, are now chasing the “fintech train” in hope to get their piece of a pie on the still young market, where previously impossible things became a reality. For now, no one is ready to dive into the nascent industry “head first” but they already “testing the water.”



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