The issue of competition in payments infrastructure will be not resolved by the CMA’s decision on MasterCard’s proposed acquisition of VocaLink.
The request to MasterCard from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that it address potential concerns on the company’s acquisition of Vocalink will be revisited this week. The CMA has given Mastercard a deadline of 11 January to satisfy it that no further investigation into the impact of the deal is warranted.
Mastercard, for its part, welcomed the CMA decision. “The thoroughness of the CMA’s review reflects the significance of this deal and its potential for the industry,” said a spokesperson for MasterCard, who pointed out that the CMA has no concerns related to BACS or the Faster Payments Service, but only to the LINK ATM scheme. The CMA is seeking assurance that the merger will not reduce competition in service provision to cash machines using Link ATM technology.
In July, MasterCard announced that it had acquired Vocalink, which underpins an estimated £6 trillion of UK payments a year, including most salaries, household bills and state benefits. In addition to LINK, VocaLink operates payments technology platforms for BACS, the Automated Clearing House, and Faster Payments, the real-time account-to-account service.
Announcing the CMA decision, Andrea Coscelli, acting chief executive of the CMA, stressed the importance of LINK having “a good choice of providers when it comes to supplying the necessary infrastructure so it can take advantage of the opening up of payment systems to competition.”
The LINK ATM network connects the UK’s cash machines and is recognised under section 184 of the Banking Act 2009 as an inter-bank payment system. Its membership includes the UK’s main debit and cash machine card issuers as well as all the main cash machine operators, both bank-owned and independent.
The alleged concern is over the ownership of one of the three credible providers of infrastructure services to LINK passing to one of the remaining potential providers. However, a market review in February 2016 by the Payment Systems Regulator, the sectoral regulator, already expressed concern that the collective ownership of VocaLink was having a negative impact on innovation and competition in the industry. “The Bacs, FPS and LINK interbank payment systems are currently owned by a relatively small number of banks, who also own the main infrastructure provider these systems rely on, VocaLink,” the PSR noted. “While this ownership arrangement has resulted in payment systems that are relatively robust and resilient, there have been concerns that it may limit competition and in turn limit innovation.”
Whether or not the CMA pursues further investigation of the MasterCard/VocaLink deal, the question of competition with LINK –rather than for services to LINK – will remain open. The PSR recently proposed mandating a competitive procurement process to enable new infrastructure providers with different technology to enter the market.
London/New York, 7 July, 2016 - GovCoin Systems Limited has been named as the London-headquartered financial technology company trialling new technology to support government aims in the distribution of benefits.
Speaking at the Payments Innovation Conference 2016 on 4 July, Minister for Welfare Reform at the Department for Work and Pensions Lord Freud highlighted the ongoing trial saying,
“We have been working with GovCoin Systems (and their partners, Barclays, RWE npower and University College London) for this trial.
Claimants are using an app on their phones through which they are receiving and spending their benefit payments. With their consent, their transactions are being recorded on a distributed ledger to support their financial management.”
The key to the proof-of-concept trial, which commenced in June, is to develop a secure and effective technology that users adopt and use to handle payments.
Robert Kay, Chief Executive Officer, GovCoin Systems Limited, said, "GovCoin Systems brought together a team with deep expertise in core financial services infrastructure and global transaction services to build a platform with the potential to improve people’s lives. This proof-of-concept is the first concrete stage in that journey. We believe in a flexible, open and collaborative approach and are already working effectively with Barclays and RWE npower to develop creative answers to the complex problems faced."
Jeremy Wilson, Vice Chairman, Corporate Banking at Barclays, said, “This initiative focuses on adding an additional layer of richer data and identity onto payments, so that a deeper and more effective relationship can be established between the government and claimants. We are keen to see how the positive potential of this service develops and adds to our wider efforts to explore the uses of distributed ledger technology.”
About GovCoin Systems Ltd
GovCoin Systems is developing a platform to reduce the $1 trillion lost annually due to friction and fraud costs in the distribution of social welfare and aid. By leveraging emergent distributed ledger technologies, machine learning and the ubiquity of mobile devices, GovCoin Systems aims to assist government and non-government organizations in distributing value more accurately, securely and efficiently to beneficiaries.
Barclays is a transatlantic consumer, corporate and investment bank offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in our two home markets of the UK and the US.
With over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 40 countries and employs approximately 130,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.
For further information about Barclays, please visit our website home.barclays.
About RWE npower
RWE is one of Europe’s five leading electricity and gas companies. Through our expertise in oil, gas and lignite production; electricity generation from gas, coal, nuclear and renewables; energy trading as well as electricity and gas distribution and sales; we are active at all stages of the energy value chain. Around 59,000 employees supply over 16 million electricity customers and nearly eight million gas customers with energy, both reliably and at fair prices. In fiscal 2014, we recorded €48,5 billion in revenue.
Europe is our market: in terms of sales, we are No. 3 in electricity and No. 5 in gas. In Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, we are among the largest suppliers of both fuels. In the Czech Republic, we are No. 1 in the gas business. We also have leading positions in other markets in Central Eastern Europe.
2 May 2016
The Commonwealth announced a new project today to develop a “blockchain” app to combat cross-border crime. The app will create a secure messaging system to help law enforcement and prosecutors in different Commonwealth countries cooperate more effectively on criminal investigations.
The mobile app will use blockchain technology, a decentralised record of data that can be verified and shared on a network of computers, to provide a secure and fast communication platform for the exchange of information between jurisdictions. It will be made available to the Commonwealth Network of Contact Persons (CNCP) – Commonwealth justice officials who provide informal advice on criminal investigations and obtaining evidence abroad.
“This new app has the potential to change the way we cooperate on criminal justice matters and will help reduce serious crime throughout the Commonwealth. It will be particularly useful for combatting cybercrime and other technology-enabled crimes that are borderless by nature,” said Steven Malby, Legal Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat and the project lead.
He added: “In today’s world, electronic evidence is an increasingly vital component of almost any investigation – whether for online or offline crime. We have been looking at new ways we can support the CNCP by using emerging technology, and in doing so, we are finding better ways to help member countries to work together in the fight against crime.”
The app, a joint venture with the Digital Identity Security Company, works by allowing a contact in an African member country, for example, to communicate with a contact in the Caribbean or anywhere else in the Commonwealth regarding a request for assistance with a criminal investigation.
The identities of contacts will be validated and stored by the app on the blockchain, removing the need for a central Commonwealth database. Users will know the identity of all contacts through the app, which will also validate new individuals and automatically distribute their details. The app will enhance understanding of the practical and legal potential of blockchain technologies.
Blockchain technology also underpins virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. It is essentially a record of digital events shared among many different parties that can only be updated by agreement between participants using the system. This technology has been recognised only recently as having other uses and applications.
Helping member countries make better use of new technology to facilitate international cooperation in criminal justice matters is a Commonwealth priority. The Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative and Working Group on Virtual Currencies have provided expertise in this area.
The Commonwealth is announcing the project to develop the app at a virtual currency and blockchain conference, Consensus 2016, in New York (2-4 May).
Governance - See more at: http://thecommonwealth.org/media/press-release/commonwealth-announces-newapp- fight-cross-border-crime
PRESS RELEASE MAY 5, 2016
In order to ensure stronger, more secure communications for criminal justice matters across the 53 member states within the Commonwealth of Nations, Digital Identify Security Company has been chosen to create a new identity-verified communications platform.
London, UK, May 5, 2016 (Newswire.com) - Digital Identity Security Company (DISC) announced that the company was selected to work with the Commonwealth Secretariat on a new secure communications platform. The Commonwealth Secretariat, the main intergovernmental agency and central institution of the Commonwealth of Nations, is responsible for facilitating communications and co-operation between its 53 member independent and sovereign states.
Cybersecurity is a growing concern for all governmental institutions. Keeping communications secure, in an environment where cyber terrorism and threats are a serious risk, remains an ever present concern. Private businesses and government institutions are doing everything they can to prevent against cyber-attacks, hacking and insecure communications. DISC, which creates identity based, end-to-end encrypted digital asset transfer platforms, was chosen to partnership with the Commonwealth to transform the nature of communication between countries on criminal justice matters by providing a highly secure, distributed, identity verified communication platform that will enable transfer, reception and decryption of communications via digital asset transfer.
“This project responds to a pressing need for better methods of secure communication to facilitate cooperation in investigations.” says Steven Malby, Head of the Law Development section, Rule of Law Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat. “We are pleased by the support from our member countries, who have challenged us to provide an efficient and innovative new communications platform.”
DISC develops systems for the digital economy that utilise Distributed Ledger Technology, hardware and software to create identity based, end-to-end encrypted digital asset transfer platforms. The approach combines “self-sovereign” and “sovereign” identity systems to enable the platform to partner with countries and corporations to deliver technology-based solutions that protect the identity and communications of citizens where they live and work.
“We are excited to be partnering with the Commonwealth Secretariat on this important project at a time when secure communications is paramount,” says Amy Scott, CEO of DISC. “We believe that our project, which will deploy identity management and digital communications for this key department, can ultimately deliver significant benefit across 53 countries engaged in safeguarding the security of nearly one third of the world’s population.”
DISC works with government agencies, businesses and individuals. For more information about the company’s expertise and services, visit MeetDISC.com.
About Digital Identity Security Company
Digital Identity Security Company (DISC) brings a unique combination of expertise and digital know-how to develop systems for the digital economy that utilise Distributed Ledger Technology, hardware and software to create identity based, end-to-end encrypted digital asset transfer platforms. For more information, visit MeetDISC.com. Source: Digital Identity Security Company (DISC)
Research conducted by Prof. M. Angela Sasse FREng, Department of Computer Science, UCL concludes, the “first trial conducted with a small group of participants, was a success.”
The ‘Govcoin project’ commenced in March 2016 and was designed to explore ways to use distributed ledger technology (DLT) and mobile devices as an alternative and more effective method for distribution to people on low incomes. A successful six month live running proof of concept was completed in November 2016.
Users benefited from being able to manage and control spending more effectively and enjoy increased levels of financial inclusion and education.
In particular, Prof. Sasse stated, “All participants said the ability to plan and track spending would be of significant value to them, and having that support on the phone was ideal.” Further, users really engaged – “they appropriated it: creating their own categories and targets.”
Within the environment of the Regulatory ‘Sandbox’ organised by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), DISC has now embarked on a more extensive testing programme during 1H 2017.
DISC Holdings CEO, Robert Kay, commented, “We are delighted with the progress we have made. The trial proved customers appreciate the value of accurate, timely personal information in their hands. They also enjoy control over their own financial management. Under our ongoing programme, we are now intent on also helping merchants benefit from our concept, underpinned with DLT.”
Prof. Angela Sasse FREng, Department of Computer Science, UCL
Independent Consultant for the project
Over the past 15 years, Prof. Sasse has been researching the human-centred aspects of security, privacy, identity and trust. Her research interests include how we design and implement innovative technologies that are fit for purpose, value for money, and improve productivity and well-being of individuals and society.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) today marks the second anniversary of Project Innovate by announcing the firms that were successful in their applications to begin testing in the first cohort of the regulatory sandbox.
The regulatory sandbox is part of Project Innovate, an initiative kicked off in 2014 to provide innovators with support to navigate the regulatory system and promote competition in the interest of consumers.
The regulatory sandbox aims to create a ‘safe space’ in which businesses can test innovative products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a live environment while ensuring that consumers are appropriately protected.
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said:
“The FCA’s regulatory sandbox was a first for regulators worldwide and underlines our deep commitment to innovation and our willingness to think outside the usual regulatory parameters. We are pleased to announce the first cohort of firms.”
“It has been an intense process for both firms and ourselves and we are grateful for their cooperation and hard work in getting us all to this position. We look forward to these businesses bringing new products and services to market whilst we ensure that appropriate consumer protection safeguards are in place.”
The first cohort of the regulatory sandbox closed to applications on 8 July 2016. The FCA received applications from 69 firms from a diverse range of sectors, geographies and sizes. 18 applications were deemed to meet the sandbox eligibility criteria and were accepted to develop towards testing, including early stage start-ups, challengers and incumbent firms.
The current cohort consists of the firms listed below that we expect to begin testing shortly. Tests will be conducted on a short-term and small-scale basis. We have worked with the sandbox firms to agree testing parameters, building in consumer safeguards. In addition to the firms below, six firms were not ready to begin testing and will be part of cohort two.
An e-money platform based on distributed ledger technology that facilitates the secure transfer and holding of funds using a phone based app.
A cross-border money transfer service powered by digital currencies / blockchain technology.
Blink Innovation Limited
An insurance product with an automated claims process, which allows travellers to instantly book a new ticket on their mobile device in the event of a flight cancellation.
An online platform and app which allows users to manage their financial products, with personalised insights, on a single dashboard. Bud's marketplace introduces relevant services which users can interact with through API integrations.
A semi-automated advice tool which allows debt advisers and clients to compare the key features of available debt solutions.
A payments service provider that aims to provide cross-border payments using blockchain technology.
A technology provider that has partnered with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to determine the feasibility of making emergency payments using means other than cash or the Faster Payments Scheme. The payments platform will use blockchain to allow the DWP to credit value to a mobile device to transfer the value directly to a third party.
An app developed in partnership with Pariti Technologies, a FinTech start-up, to help customers better manage their finances.
A web-based software platform that streamlines the overall Initial Public Offering (IPO) distribution process for investors, issuing companies and their advisors.
Lloyds Banking Group
An approach that aims to improve the experience for branch customers which is aligned with the online and over the phone experience.
Nextday Property Limited
An internet-based property company that will provide an interest free loan for a guaranteed amount to customers if they are unable to sell their property within 90 days.
A platform that uses automation and blockchain for issuance and lifecycle management of private placement securities.
A platform that represents private companies’ shares electronically on the blockchain, enabling them to manage shareholdings, conduct bookbuilding online and facilitate transfers.
An app which helps users to build up savings by putting aside small amounts of money. These savings can then be used to pay off existing loans early. Oval will be working with Oakam, a consumer credit firm, and a number of their customers during the test period.
A smart-card enabled retail payment system based on their OpenCSD distributed ledger.
An app and web-based service that creates personal or commercial identity and verifiable documents on a distributed ledger. In partnership with Aviva they will provide a system for automated customer authentication.
An e-money platform based on distributed ledger technology that facilitates the use of “smart contracts” to transfer donations to a charity.
A micro savings app that provides an across-account view; enables a round-up service every time a user spends money and calculates an affordable savings amount based on the user’s spending behaviour.
Firms can apply to be part of our second sandbox cohort from 21 November 2016. The application period will close on 19 January 2017. The application form, instructions on how to apply and some lessons learnt from the first cohort are available on our website. The test design period for cohort two will take approximately 10 weeks and we would expect all accepted firms to be ready to begin testing in May 2017.
The FCA encourages applications from firms of all sizes. As seen by the firms accepted into the first cohort, the sandbox is available to large firms, start-ups and everything in between.
Dominant payment infrastructure business benefit from increased global spending
MasterCard and Visa Inc. have both recently reported strong quarterly earnings on the back of global presence and increasing levels of spending in the three month to December 31st 2016. For its first fiscal quarter Visa Inc announced that its net operating revenue of $4.5 billion was boosted both by the inclusion of European activity and also continued growth in processed transactions and nominal payments volume. Earnings were $2.1 billion in the period with earnings per share up by 7% to 0.86 per share. MasterCard meanwhile posted net income in its fourth quarter of $946 million or $0.86 per share excluding special items with net revenue increasing by 9% to $2.8 billion during the period.
The special item in MasterCard accounts related to the litigation by some merchants in the U.K. and the profit margins achieved by both companies (46.7% for Visa and 33.3% for MasterCard) certainly show that they have been able to achieve good returns from a very strong market position. Strong margins, a global presence and naturally growing revenues keep the stock market happy, with both companies trading at a multiple of around 30 times earnings. The combined market capitalisation of the two entities is now more than $300 billion, with Visa also seeing its market cap pass $200 billion in recent days.
Richard Schwartz – Editor, East Third
Richmond, Mass. – June 6, 2018 – Rivetz, the leading decentralized mobile security solutions provider, today announced it acquired DISC Holdings Ltd., a developer of secure mobile blockchain-based payment applications.
The acquisition is part of the Rivetz strategy that combines the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) already built into the hardware of millions of devices with the immutable record-keeping of blockchain technology to deliver true e-commerce security to consumers.
By leveraging state-of-the-art payment technology and hardware-level security standards, Rivetz enables money-with-policy to empower the next generation of consumer payment models for consumer devices.
The DISC Platform uses blockchain and distributed ledger technology to offer a faster, more efficient, secure and cost-effective alternative to existing payment platforms. Its smart payment app guides consumers toward more efficient and dynamic money management, along with providing secure payment functionality.
Rivetz technology will enable the platform to provide the tools for users to manage and operate their personal digital assets including identity, budgets, fiat payments, and cryptocurrency assets. The system leverages the decentralized capabilities of blockchain to enable transparency between merchants and their users, while simultaneously protecting user privacy and data. The DISC solution has been built to support the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for data privacy and protection.
The DISC platform is modernizing today’s payment service models by providing support for consumers both with and without traditional bank accounts. The solution provides an unparalleled user experience and initially was launched as part of the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sandbox for innovative payment technology, enabling both peer-to-peer transactions as well as support for legacy payment models. DISC Holdings is regulated by the FCA as a small payment institution and the DISC platform is currently in active operation in the U.K.
“DISC is providing a proven blockchain-based payment solution for the U.K., and we’re enthusiastic to expand the DISC footprint and feature set by leveraging Rivetz technology,” said Steven Sprague, founder and CEO of Rivetz. “By combining the strengths of Rivetz and DISC, we plan to set a new bar on the consumer mobile payments experience and simplify consumer access to our ecosystem by growing the services of identity, messaging and blockchain.”
“Our smart-money app is giving rise to a new system of secure money exchange for those outside the mainstream banking system,” said Robert Kay, director of DISC Holdings. “We are now joining forces with Rivetz to usher in a new era for the secure exchange of goods and services.”
Rivetz technology and services aim to provide a safer and easier-to-use model for all users to protect their digital assets using hardware-based trusted execution technology. The device plays a critical role in automating security and enabling the controls that users need to produce high assurance data and benefit from modern services. Rivetz leverages state-of-the-art cybersecurity tools to develop a modern model for users and their devices to interact with services on the Internet. They were selected for Telecom Council's prestigious Innovation Showcase Class of 2018. Find out more at www.rivetz.com and follow Rivetz on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Telegram.
About DISC Holdings
The DISC (Digital Identity Security Company) Platform architecture provides a framework for managing and transacting digital assets. Based on an inovative blockchain foundation Disc provides the model for users to interact with digital assets. The DISC Platform consists of two initial applications: smart money and smart messaging. Find out more at www.discholdings.com.
This news release may include forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties. All statements within, other than statements of historical fact, are to be considered forward-looking. Statements regarding management's future expectations, beliefs, intentions, goals, strategies, plans or prospects, including, without limitation, the statements relating to GDPR readiness and compliance may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other federal securities laws. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include market prices and continued availability of capital and financing, and general economic, market or business conditions. There can be no assurances that such statements will prove accurate and, therefore, readers are advised to rely on their own evaluation of such uncertainties. We do not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements except as required under the applicable laws.
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