Microsoft Looks To Power First Bank In Nigeria

FinTech upstarts are linking with banks, from Canada to the Philippines, to automate back office functions and streamline operations. And no less a tech stalwart than Microsoft is making inroads into Nigeria to underpin banking services.

Amid the movement to bring banking services to the unbanked and to third-world economies in general, Microsoft and First Bank are linking up to bring financial services to Nigeria.

The fact remains, said the companies this past week, that entrepreneurs need to get loans in place to launch and grow their businesses. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding that will bring Microsoft business services to firms in the country, with the goal of boosting the embracing of technology in general among First Bank’s small business clients.

Elsewhere, in the Philippines, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), is bringing blockchain remittances to Japan as of this week.

That push comes with two banks in Japan, Resona and another (unnamed) bank (for blockchain architecture), and also comes in tandem with IBM’s global blockchain pilot. The effort targets Filipinos who work in Japan and who send money home. Remittances done through newer technology conduits, such as blockchain, are gaining traction in Asia. In May, Union Bank gave a nod to blockchain, with work in place for remittance channels that come to Singapore.

Digital banking is also making inroads in Poland, where Alior Bank is linking with solarisBank, Mastercard and Raisin to create a digital bank geared toward serving all residents in the EU. The bank will launch by the end of the year, first in Germany and then in other markets. Under the terms of the agreement, Alior Bank will offer multicurrency accounts to enable international transfers and deposits.

PayPal-backed Raisin launched a dedicated savings deposit site in the U.K earlier this year. The firm, which was founded in Berlin five years ago, has seen more than 100,000 customers invest five billion euros into Raisin deposits.

Separately, Fiserv said this week that it is teaming with Dollar Bank to launch a digital bank. Crowdfund Insider reported that Dollar Bank will leverage Architect from Fiserv for the launch. The bank will give its customers access to integrated bill payment, person to person and other transaction capabilities. The bank stated that it has a proprietary digital banking platform, with real-time conduits in place.

In the States, specifically in Chicago, Illinois, Envestnet said its platform has been selected by Hancock Whitney Bank to underpin its broker dealer and trust lines of business. The bank will work with the FinTech’s compliance workflow, centered on investment reviews, and fixed income portfolio management. The bank also noted that its investment professionals will be able to access the client portal that works with goals-based planning, Yodlee data aggregation and financial wellness solutions. The platform will be available beginning in late August.

In the North, the Bank of Canada is joining with the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) to deepen tech knowledge. The initiative, the companies said, stems from the Bank of Canada’s 2019-21 Medium Term Plan, with the digital economy in sight, while also boosting central bank operations. The firms will look to work on developments in artificial intelligence, crypto assets and quantum computing. The bank’s partnership with CDL lets the firms participate in CDL Toronto and CDL Montreal for three years.

The CDL is a seed stage program for firms, entrepreneurs and academics. The nine-month program is said to be “particularly suited” for early stage firms with links to university research labs.

“While a collaboration between a central bank and a high-tech university start-up program may seem counterintuitive, we are convinced that the skills and assets each of us bring will result in a highly productive partnership that will enhance Canadian competitiveness,” Sonia Sennik, executive director of the CDL, said in a statement.