FinTech Futures: Top five stories of the week – 4 November 2022
Here’s our pick of five of the top news stories from the world of finance and tech this week.
Starling Bank tops 2,000 employees, opens new London office
UK challenger Starling Bank has increased its headcount by 20% since the start of the year to more than 2,000 employees.
The neobank, which became profitable this year, plans to expand its workforce by another 10% by the end of the year.
The new recruits have joined the engineering, financial crime, customer service and card operations teams at Starling.
Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank, says the firm is opening its doors to more hires across those teams “as we continue in our mission to change banking for good”.
Swift appoints Max Mamondez as chief financial officer
Global banking cooperative Swift has appointed “seasoned finance executive” Max Mamondez as chief financial officer (CFO).
Swift says Mamondez has “cultivated innovation” in fast-paced international environments throughout his career, with stints at tech firms and consultancies such as Rockwell Automation, Diebold Inc and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Mamondez says it’s a “pivotal time” in the industry and is joining the company at an “exciting juncture”.
Mamondez, who joins from the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) where he led initiatives in corporate financial planning and analysis, will serve on Swift’s executive committee and report directly to CEO Javier Pérez-Tasso.
RBI launches pilot for digital rupee wholesale CBDC
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched a pilot of the wholesale segment (e₹-W) of its digital rupee.
It states that the use case of this pilot, launched on 1 November, is the “settlement of secondary market transactions in government securities”.
RBI claims that the use of e₹-W will make the inter-bank market “more efficient” and will reduce transaction costs “by pre-empting the need for settlement guarantee infrastructure or for collateral to mitigate settlement risk”.
It adds that going forward, based on the learnings from this pilot, other wholesale transactions and cross-border payments services will become the focus of future pilots.
Nine Indian banks took part in the pilot: State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, IDFC First Bank and HSBC.
Stripe lays off 14% of staff amid challenging economic climate
US fintech Stripe is cutting around 1,100 jobs, 14% of its workforce, as it wrestles with a “different economic climate” following the pandemic era e-commerce boom.
In an email to Stripe employees, CEO Patrick Collison says the firm “overhired for the world we’re in”.
After witnessing “significantly higher growth rates” over 2020 and 2021, Stripe transitioned into a “new operating mode” which saw its revenue and payment volume grow more than 3x.
But the world “is now shifting again”, Collison says. Inflation, energy shocks, rising interest rates, cuts to investment budgets and reduced start-up funding have all led to “a need to match the pace of our investments with the realities around us”.
“To adapt ourselves appropriately for the world we’re headed into, we need to reduce our costs,” he writes.
The cuts to its workforce will return Stripe to its February 2022 headcount of almost 7,000 people, Collison adds.
FCA kickstarts discussion on Big Tech’s impact on competition
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has tendered a discussion around the impact of Big Tech firms on competition within the UK’s financial services sector.
The regulator says Big Tech firms, usually referring to Facebook (Meta), Google (Alphabet), Apple and Amazon, have seen their presence in UK financial services markets grow in recent years, and they have the potential to change market outcomes quickly.
Kickstarting the discussion, the FCA has published analysis focusing on Big Tech’s entry in four “vital” retail sectors: payments, deposit taking, consumer credit and insurance.
While no regulatory changes are being proposed, the FCA says Big Tech firms could pose competition risks if they rapidly gain market share, and they are able to exploit market power.