Blockchain technology finds its origin in the digital
coin named Bitcoin. It was invented
primarily to sustain it. Although blockchain is tightly associated with Bitcoin
and other cryptocurrencies, these are just the top of the iceberg.
Currently, blockchain technology is being used in other commercial applications, and annual growth of 51% is expected for 2022 in several markets, including financial institutions and Internet of Things (IoT).
What is blockchain
technology, and what makes it secure?
A blockchain is a list of digital records or blocks of
data that are stored in a linear chain that is constantly growing. It´s a kind
of digital general ledger than can be shared with many users and that keeps
record of every transaction. Each block contains encrypted data, for instance
of a Bitcoin transaction, and is linked to the specific user that made it.
There´s no way to alter the data in them since they are time-stamped and
connected to the previous block.
The security of blockchain relies on the fact that it
can be updated only with the agreement of all the participants and the system
The information of the whole chain is kept in each
node, so each participant has an exact copy of the entire chain. If someone
wanted to attack the service, he should overturn or nullify every node in the
net given that just one operative node is enough for all the information to be
As new records are created, these are verified and
validated by the nodes and added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
Once added, this block becomes unalterable. For a transaction to be accepted
and added, some specific digital signatures or requirements must be met. For
example, people that use the crypto-currency Ethereum, must meet several
conditions to demonstrate that they have that crypto-currency and can operate
Why is blockchain useful for?
As it is a peer-to-peer network, where transactions
are time-stamped, and that enables managing all the information exchange among
the users in an autonomous way, without the need for an administrator, it is an
excellent tool for all types of businesses. Any information that needs to be
kept intact and available can be safely stored in a blockchain.
Many industries, such as transport, fintech, and
sanitary services, to mention just a few, are taking advantage of this
technology that streamlines processes, improving productivity.
Challenges organizations or companies could face with blockchain
Thanks to blockchain, the operative models and
business-making models of the companies and organizations could undergo a total
transformation with the adoption of blockchain technology. Many organizations
are using blockchain technology for their transactions. Still, if it were
massively adopted, one of the challenges that governments of extremely
controlled sectors will have to solve is the lack of regulation.
Blockchain is complex, and it takes a longer time to
process any transaction. It can take hours to complete a transaction. And the
more it grows, the slower it gets. This could be an obstacle for specific
Despite the above, the biggest challenge that blockchain technology faces is the reluctance of private and public sectors, along with the skepticism of the potential users who, as with each new technology, need time to learn, get used, and trust.
But with 90% of employees still wanting the
daily grind of work improved, are bosses totally disconnected from what
Nottingham, October 2019: 93% of UK bosses in the banking and finance sector think it’s important to be liked, while 90% of their staff are crying out for their day-to-day experience of work to be improved, research by People First, the HR solutions provider, has found.
Exploring the attitudes of 250 bosses and 250
employees in UK firms, the research revealed how employers lack an accurate
picture of how staff feel and the way it affects their work.
84% of bosses responding think their staff are happy and 76% believe most of their employees
are fully engaged in what they do. But only 64% of staff find work makes
them happy and just 42% are fully engaged or absorbed in what they do to earn a
“Likeability is good in a boss,” said Mark Williams, Senior
Vice President Product, People First. “But with so many employees in the
banking and finance sector wanting their experience at work improved, you have
to ask if bosses really understand their workforces. There’s obviously a
happiness gap where managers believe morale is better than it really is. They are
clearly failing to measure staff engagement regularly.”
The research found men are more likely to say
their work really engages them (48%) than women (37%), reflecting the
longstanding difference in support and career development offered to women, as
well as the well-publicised gender pay-gap.
And lack of understanding plays a role in
another difference between bosses and workers. Whereas 39% of employers believe
most staff quit a job for emotional reasons, only 17% of employees say that’s
the main cause of them handing in their notice.
From the research we can also see that more
than half of UK banking and finance employees (56%) regard being rewarded for
excellent work as important, while 51% want more opportunities for flexible
is a British disease which we can cure through better understanding of what
motivates employees and gets them into the flow where time flies and work is
more enjoyable and fulfilling,” added Mark. “That’s why it’s important
to rely on more than gut feeling about how happy or engaged staff are. Regular
check-ins must replace the dated annual appraisal as only with regular
conversations can an employer see the true picture of their employees.”
“There are so many different aspects to any banking and finance job, such as training, career development and flexible working, that making assumptions about what employees want is misguided. As an employer you need to know what makes your staff happy to work hard and what makes them leave.”
People First: People First,
created by MHR International, is a revolutionary HR software platform that
provides businesses with the tools and thinking to nurture and engage talent
while increasing retention and driving productivity, promoting the workplace of
the future – today.
Driven by innovation and sharp focus on
customers’ real-world requirements, People First has developed a set of tools
and a new ethos that creates a better, more productive way of working for
Using the four elements of: Flow; Personal Digital
Assistant; Pragmatic People Analytics and Performance Check-ins, People First
is the most effective way that any fast-growing company can optimise its
workforce and create a new culture that leads to greater productivity and
The world’s first open banking
business Lending-as-a-Service platform has completed a £1.5m funding round led
by Hambro Perks, the leading UK early-stage venture firm.
London, 30 October 2019 – Trade
Ledger, the ground-breaking business lending platform, which automates
commercial lending processes for global banks and alternative finance
providers, today announces strategic investment in a £1.5M round led by Hambro
Perks, to further accelerate revenue growth.
Established in 2016 and now
operating on three continents, Trade Ledger’s unique lend-tech platform
automates all types of digital business finance, helping bank and non-bank
business lending organisations alike to fast-track economic growth through
process automation and scaling of business credit operations. Trade Ledger uses
financial data APIs (often referred to as Open Banking), Machine Learning,
Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation technologies to enhance
or replace old and costly legacy bank systems for origination, credit
decisioning, take on and loan management, enabling new cutting-edge working
capital solutions for business customers. The resulting new lending solutions
can reduce the time-to-cash from 90 days which is the industry average to 4
minutes and are better tailored to the working capital needs of modern
Trade Ledger’s co-founder, Martin
McCann, and his team believe that transforming business lending operations
through the Trade Ledger Lending Platform is the single biggest area of
opportunity for commercial banks and financial services organisations to
benefit from Open Banking in the near future. “There is a £1.2 trillion gap in
credit that businesses need to optimise growth which is why we created this
lend-tech”, explained McCann. “We believe that only by reimagining new types of
credit services only possible with this lend-tech, can banks solve this massive
business problem profitably and at scale globally. By leveraging open trade
data via APIs alongside other enterprise-grade enabling technologies, financial
institutions can drive significant operational efficiencies and product
innovation within their internal operations and dramatically increase market
“My co-founder Matt and I launched
Trade Ledger in 2016 to improve the business customer’s experience in their
financial supply chain, by helping banks re-imagine the entire process”,
continued Martin McCann. “With the increasing threat of big technology firms
like Google, Amazon and Alibaba bridging the gap between traditional financial
services and the supply-chain eco-system, incumbent banks and lenders must
start thinking about how they remain relevant. Trade Ledger is currently the
only true platform in the world that can help them do this at a global scale in
the business lending sector.”
George Davies, Partner at Hambro
Perks added: “We are delighted to be backing Trade Ledger as Martin, Matt and
the Trade Ledger team continue to develop market-leading tech that benefits
businesses around the world. Hambro Perks is committed to supporting brilliant
founders and teams that are building global businesses, and we believe that Trade Ledger has enormous global
potential. We are
very excited about Trade Ledger’s rapid growth and to support Martin and Matt
as they tackle the barriers that have created such a vast undersupply of
working capital for businesses across the globe.”
The Trade Ledger Platform provides a complete innovation layer that masks the clunky traditional corporate business banking environment and delivers an excellent consumer-like experience. Trade Ledger supports compliance with new regulatory requirements through aggregation and normalisation of better credit risk data whilst underpinning the wider commercialisation of open data and adoption of new banking business models to generate new revenue streams. The platform orchestrates value in the lending ecosystem by moving organisations from process-led engagement to an automated data-driven lending model.
About Trade Ledger
is the world’s first open banking lending platform that gives banks the ability
to assess business lending risk in real-time. This will enable banks to address
the £1.2 trillion of undersupply in trade finance lending globally while
providing high-growth companies with the working capital needed to sustain
About Hambro Perks
Hambro Perks (www.hambroperks.com) is a London based venture
firm that backs and builds leading technology companies. Founded by Dominic
Perks and Rupert Hambro CBE, Hambro Perks invests at an early stage and helps
companies to scale with capital and strategic support. The firm invests from
both its permanent capital and Co-Investment EIS Fund that is open to high net
worth investors and is soon to launch other funds. Hambro Perks has backed more
than 40 businesses such as the digital pharmacy Echo, the geocoding system
What3Words, and the Muslim matchmaking app Muzmatch.
London, 27th October 2019 – Money20/20 USA today played host to the launch of the latest Banking Circle insight paper. ‘Pay, Set, Match! Payment services for SMEs – Jump-starting a virtuous digital payment circle’, uncovers the challenges and opportunities for payment providers serving SMEs.
Banking Circle, the
ground-breaking provider of business banking infrastructure, commissioned
MagnaCarta Communications to produce a series of research papers investigating
how financial institutions of all types can each play a role in increasing SME
financial inclusion. This insight paper is the latest in the series, following
the initial white paper which launched in May 2019 and a Banking Innovations
insight paper published in September 2019.
Anders la Cour,
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Banking Circle commented: “Increasing
financial inclusion is core to every Banking Circle solution we build. As such,
we regularly speak to businesses of all sizes and types, working in all regions
and industries, to gain invaluable insights into the current challenges and
where we can tackle existing pain points. This Payments-focused insight paper
includes input from a range of players in the market, each identifying key
challenges and opportunities for payment providers.
“The unique insights
we have gained in producing this paper are invaluable for Banking Circle but
also for the wider industry and will help us work together to build an
ecosystem of efficient and cost-effective solutions to meet the needs of real
businesses. The current offering is not serving SMEs effectively enough, but
meaningful change will only be possible when every player in the market knows
and fulfils its specific role, working in collaboration and not competition
with other providers.”
full report, ‘Pay, Set, Match! Payment
services for SMEs – Jump-starting a virtuous digital payment circle’, is
available to download at bankingcircle.com/whitepapers and
video interviews can be found here.
About Banking Circle
Banking Circle is a
next-generation provider of mission-critical financial services infrastructure
leading the rise of a super-correspondent banking network. Banking Circle
empowers banks and financial tech businesses to support customers’ trading
ambitions – domestic and global – whilst reducing risk and the operational cost
of transactions. Banking Circle solutions are
increasing financial inclusion by helping thousands of businesses transact
across borders in a way that was previously not possible.
In 2013 Saxo Bank formed a
new entity, Saxo Payments A/S, with the purpose of using Saxo Bank’s core
capabilities within the non-cash payments market. In October 2015 the company
launched the Banking Circle – its ground-breaking product for payments and FX
to the Financial Tech industry. In October 2017, the company launched its new
identity for Banking Circle, to reflect its position as a financial utility servicing
Financial Tech businesses and banks. In September 2018, Banking Circle was
acquired by EQT VIII and EQT Ventures, in partnership with Banking Circle’s
Domiciled in the
European Union, Banking Circle specialises in providing global banking services
including accounts, payments, lending and foreign exchange services to
financial institutions, including FinTechs, banks, acquirers, payment service
providers, FX brokers, money transfer businesses, e-wallets, and alternative
For further information and interviews please contact
the Banking Circle Press Office:
Will growth continue to slow, or will Europe fall into recession as global economic risks overtake it? Whatever the result, rather than being a distraction from politics, the economy will probably intensify the political challenges.
Economic Growth continues to slow
The Euro Area is heading for a second straight year of slowing economic growth. In 2017, GDP growth was at 2.4%, while 2018 is expected to be around 2%. In 2019, the IMF has forecast 1.9% (World Economic Outlook, Oct 2018), while the World Bank has forecast 1.6% in 2019, 1.5% in 2020, and 1.3% in 2021 (Global Economic Prospects, Jan 2019).
Some key countries will fare worse. Germany and Italy recorded negative growth in the third quarter of 2018, with notable decreases in industrial production. In contrast, EU members in Eastern Europe are experiencing strong growth.
Slower growth in the Euro Area is not in itself cause for concern. Despite the downward trend and negative growth in Germany and Italy, the forecasts represent continued solid economic growth. The underlying fundamentals are robust for most countries: inflation is under control, consumer spending is healthy, and Euro Area unemployment is at 10-year lows. The Euro Area looks set to add to the five straight years of growth since 2014.
Europe’s slowing growth must be seen in the context of increasing global risks to economic growth. These include the risk of a US recession,
aggressive US trade policies, and the risks from further tightening by the US Federal Reserve. If any of these risks are realised, Europe, particularly the Euro Area, may fall into recession.
The US economy appears very strong with low inflation and a strong labour market, but the stock market correction from August 2018, and the flattening (and sometimes inverting) yield curve for US treasuries suggests that the US markets are predicting slower growth. Many market-watchers are spooked by the possibility of a recession in 2019 or 2020. A US recession may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
US trade policies entered a new era in 2018 with the March tariff on steel and aluminium, renegotiation of NAFTA (now USMCA), and the trade skirmish with China. The US has demonstrated that it will play hard on trades issues, even with traditional allies such as Canada and Europe. The steel and aluminium tariffs have had a negative impact on European exports. More tariffs cannot be ruled out.
Europe also needs to be prepared for any collateral damage from a potential trade war between the US and China. Comments after the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires gave hope of a resolution but subsequent reports suggest that negotiations will be complex, particularly as the US leverages a stronger hand with probable slower growth in China.
Another key global risk is continued monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve in 2019, and the ensuing risk of financial contagion for, and from, emerging markets. Last year marked the long-feared end of cheap liquidity in emerging markets. As the US Federal Reserve tightened liquidity, countries like Argentina and Turkey were put into a tail-spin by markets. Advanced economies, including those in the Euro Area, remain vigilant for any potential financial contagion from emerging markets. Fed chair Jerome Powell has since tried to tone down any hawkish sentiment, and will proceed with more care. The world will be watching the Fed even more closely in 2019.
What can Europe do about recession?
If any of these global risks are realised and the Euro Area falls toward recession, what can Europe do? The ECB and national policymakers appear to have few working levers to stimulate growth. The official ECB interest rate has been below zero since 2014, while the ECB capped Quantitative Easing at the end of 2018. The ECB’s rate would thus need to rely on tools at the margins such as a new round of Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTROs): discounted multi-year loans to banks. Perhaps the ECB’s biggest remaining lever to mitigate any recession is to do nothing, refraining from raising interest rates in 2019.
Unlike 2007 and 2008, many European governments (including France, Italy, and Spain) have few fiscal buffers to deal with any potential recession in 2019 or 2020. Italy has a public debt to GDP ratio of 133%, Spain 98.8%, and France 97.7% (latest figures are from 2017). Countries such as Germany and the Netherlands do have fiscal buffers, but they alone cannot mitigate a Euro Area-wide recession.
The lack of fiscal buffers will probably feed back into domestic political pressures and anti-EU rhetoric. In the event of a recession, countries with little fiscal space will be tempted to increase their fiscal spending beyond comfortable levels, which will incur the ire of the ECB, and the more fiscally conservative countries in the EU. Local leaders may then deflect this by stirring up anti-EU sentiment – a familiar path. As the economy re-emerges as a key focus, the tensions between many governments, like the new government in Italy, and the EU will probably intensify.
Need for productivity growth to get out of Europe Recession
Beyond mitigating the next recession, what Europe (and all advanced economies) really need is a new wave of structural reforms to reignite productivity-led economic growth. This includes Labour market reforms to increase flexibility and participation, as well as productivity through better vocational education and technology.
In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron introduced labour market reforms. These included changes to the funding of vocational education and the capping of awards for workplace disputes settled in court. These have already had a positive economic impact, according to many commentators, and will help France through any recession. Macron however has resisted German-style Hartz labour flexibility reforms (part of Schroder’s 2010 Agenda).
Hartz reform supporters claim that Germany’s economic growth in the 2000s was largely because of the reforms, which reduced unemployment benefits, removed incentives for early retirement, and increased labour-market flexibility. Opponents claim the reforms had little impact, and that Germany instead.
Whatever its role in strengthening the German economy, the German electorate did not take kindly to the Hartz labour reforms. and replaced the Schroder-led SPD with the Merkel-led CDU. European governments face a similar challenge today. Economies need a new wave of structural reforms, but they are unlikely to be popular in the face of slowing growth. One of the key election-promises of the new Italian government was the removal of labour market reforms by the previous government, designed to increase labour market flexibility. It seems that economic events are set to make European politics even more interesting in 2019.