FinTech Futures: Top five stories of the week – 8 September 2023
Here’s our pick of five of the top news stories from the world of finance and tech this week.
Swift confirms inter-blockchain interoperability with new experiments
In collaboration with several major financial institutions, including BNY Mellon, Citi and Euroclear, Swift has successfully proven that it can facilitate the transfer of tokenised assets between different public and private blockchains using its own infrastructure.
Its tests included transferring assets from one wallet to another with both using the same distributed ledger technology (DLT) network; between a public and private blockchain; and between two wallets using different public blockchains.
To achieve this, the network connected to the Ethereum Sepolia network while using Chainlink as an enterprise abstraction layer. The experiments specifically sought to uncover the technical and design demands of inter-blockchain relations and the role of an interoperability protocol in securing the compliant transfer of data, while data privacy, legal liability and operational risk were also considered.
Publishing its results this week, Swift recognised the “potential to remove significant friction slowing the growth of tokenised asset markets and enable them to scale globally as they mature”.
JP Morgan Payments partners with Network International to strengthen its acquiring offering
JP Morgan Payments has partnered with Network International, an e-commerce enabler operating across the Middle East and Africa, to strengthen its acquiring offering.
The partnership will leverage Network International’s acceptance solutions as a means to allow JP Morgan Payments to “expand and complement” its existing payment offerings in the Middle East and Africa.
Sandeep Dhawan, CEEMEA product head for JP Morgan Payments, describes the Middle East as “a very crucial part of the firm’s payments growth agenda”, and while its active investment in the region continues, its newfound partnership with Network will “complement our existing capabilities”.
Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Dubai, Network International offers tech-led payment solutions to merchants and financial institutions of all sizes. It claims to serve over 140,000 merchants and 200 financial institution and fintech customers, and manages more than 16 million customer credentials.
Pepper Money agrees to buy HSBC’s New Zealand mortgage portfolio
Australian non-bank lender Pepper Money has signed a binding agreement to acquire HSBC’s NZ$1.4 billion mortgage portfolio in New Zealand.
Subject to approval by the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office, the transition is expected to close in late November.
Pepper Money intends to fund the acquisition “in a similar way to which we fund our loan origination activity”, namely a combination of senior and mezzanine funding with Pepper Money contributing the first loss equity.
Mario Rehayem, the lender’s CEO, says the acquisition of the mortgage portfolio marks a “further step in our growth strategy” as it looks to expand its operations in New Zealand, “a market which we understand well having serviced mortgages and delivered compelling customer service since 2011”, when it acquired GE Capital’s Australian and New Zealand Home Lending business.
Visa expands stablecoin settlement pilots in push to modernise cross-border payments
Using the high performance blockchain Solana, Visa is running new pilot programmes with Worldpay and Nuvei which will allow the firms to leverage USDC, the USD-pegged stablecoin developed by Circle, to enhance current settlement times and test on-chain payouts.
The company claims to have already “moved millions of USDC” between its partners through the Solana and Ethereum blockchain networks to settle fiat-denominated payments authorised over VisaNet, its electronic payments network, while it ran a similar pilot with Crypto.com in 2021.
Worldpay anticipates that the partnership will enable it to bring more of its treasury options in-house and offer its merchant partners more ways to receive funds, while Nuvei says the use of stablecoins will encourage the growth of online businesses, and that Visa’s ongoing attempt to optimise cross-border transactions is just one of many use cases where stablecoins could benefit businesses.
Chia Der Jiun appointed chair of MAS
Chia Der Jiun has been appointed as the new managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). He will succeed Ravi Menon, who is retiring from the Singapore Public Service and stepping down from the role on 31 December 2023.
Chia will serve as managing director designate of MAS from 1 November 2023 until 31 December 2023, before starting a 29-month tenure as managing director from 1 January 2024. He will also serve as director of the MAS board.
Currently serving as permanent secretary of Singapore’s manpower ministry, a position he has held since 2022, Chia has previously spent around 18 years at MAS, leading major functions in monetary policy implementation, reserve management and banking supervision, among other areas.
He will succeed Ravi Menon, who is retiring from the Singapore Public Service and stepping down from the role on 31 December 2023.
The announcement of Menon’s retirement has come as a surprise to the industry as he only renewed his term three months ago and was set for a two-year tenure.