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Industry roundup: 19 February

Finance execs not planning to hold bitcoin as corporate asset, Gartner finds

While bitcoin continues to grow in popularity, a poll of 77 finance executives (including 50 CFOs) this month showed that 84% of respondents said they did not plan to ever hold bitcoin as a corporate asset, according to Gartner.

“Eighty-four percent of the respondents said that bitcoin’s volatility posed a financial risk,” said Alexander Bant, chief of research in the Gartner Finance practice. “It would be extremely difficult to mitigate the kind of price swings seen in the cryptocurrency in the last five years.”

Volatility was the top concern of those polled by a large margin, but other big issues that respondents had were board risk aversion, slow adoption as an accepted form of payment, regulatory concerns, and a lack of expertise in cryptocurrencies.

“There are a lot of unresolved issues when it comes to the use of bitcoin as a corporate asset,” said Bant. “It’s unlikely that adoption will increase rapidly until we get more clarity on these challenges.”

Seventy-one percent of respondents said one of the top things they’d like to know is what others are actually doing with bitcoin. Sixty-eight percent want to hear more from regulators about bitcoin and better understand the risks involved with holding it.

Even the 16% of respondents willing to adopt the cryptocurrency as part of their organisation’s financial strategy appeared in no rush. Some 5% of respondents indicated they would begin to hold bitcoin in 2021, 1% said they’d hold bitcoin at some point in 2022-2023, and the remaining 9% who indicated they would begin holding bitcoin said it would be 2024 or later.

There was no difference in intent to hold bitcoin between small organisations (<US$1bn revenue) and large organisations (>US$1bn revenue). Half of respondents (50%) from the technology sector anticipate holding the cryptocurrency in the future. Private company finance executives were less favourable towards bitcoin, with just 7% saying they would ever hold it.


BIS and SWIFT to host global hackathon to improve cross-border payments by using ISO 20022 and APIs

Payment systems, service providers, global networks and forward-thinking corporates are adopting the ISO 20022 message standard, ushering in a new world of possibility for domestic and cross-border payments. Against this backdrop, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub and SWIFT have announced The ISO20022 Hackathon, where participating teams are invited to develop and showcase solutions that improve cross-border payments, using the ISO 20022 standard for payments messages and APIs. 

The organisers say that, whether you are a bank, a fintech, payment service provider or corporate, this event will give your team a head start in preparing for and showcasing solutions for the upcoming ISO 20022 transformation. Three winning teams will get to showcase their solutions at the BIS Innovation Summit (a global 3-day virtual conference).

Participants have until Monday 8th March to register, and then invite team mates to join the team. When registering, participants must mention the payments pain points they want to address - from sanctions checking, AML and identity, to invoice reconciliation, message translation, or end user transparency - during this hackathon. All solutions must be submitted by Friday 19 March, and will then be judged by a panel of judges from the Federal Reserve Bank New York, Bank of England, European Central Bank, SWIFT, Innovate Finance (UK), CPMI, Payments Canada, New Payments Platform (Australia), Swish (Sweden) and DBS Bank (Singapore).


KPMG and SirionLabs partner to accelerate business transformation 

SirionLabs, a provider of AI-powered contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology, and KPMG have announced a strategic alliance focused on helping enterprises accelerate their business transformation journey to drive better outcomes in third party relationships.

Organisations are continuously looking to transform their business across multiple dimensions - revenue, cost, risk, compliance, agility, innovation, collaboration, and more. Central to these transformation objectives is the ability to effectively manage third party relationships including customers and suppliers, and the underlying contracts that drive those relationships. With KPMG’s experience in solving complex business problems, and Sirion’s platform for integrated management of an organisation’s commercial relationships, this alliance aims to offer enhanced possibilities for driving business performance.

High on the transformation agenda today is digitalisation, which has taken centre stage during the COVID-19 pandemic. In KPMG’s 2020 Global CEO Outlook survey, 80% of CEOs said that more digital acceleration had occurred within the last few months than in the previous few years. A dis-jointed digital transformation strategy, however, can amplify the gaps within a business rather than bridging them.

The KPMG-SirionLabs alliance is designed to help clients drive rapid digitalisation of the complete lifecycle of supplier and customer engagements (including contract creation, performance management, invoice validation, relationship management, risk management and advanced analytics). At the same time, it aims to help corporates deliver a more cohesive enterprise by enabling visibility, alignment and collaboration across major functions including legal, procurement, commercial, sales, delivery, and finance.


Thrive announces Mastercard partnership in Australia

Melbourne-based fintech Thrive has announced a partnership with Mastercard, as it prepares to launch a new business account targeting Australia’s 2.3 million small businesses. The fintech has developed a product that uses artificial intelligence to automate banking, accounting, tax and lending for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Thrive slogan is that it acts like a CFO in your pocket, taking care of all the financial needs of a business.

While Thrive continues to gear up for the introduction of its business accounts, its Mastercard Debit Cards will be made available to business customers following the launch later this year - offering cardholders increased flexibility and convenience alongside payment protection.

"Mastercard has become the defacto choice for fintechs who are looking to disrupt the status quo," said Ben Winford, co-founder & COO of Thrive. "This partnership creates a multitude of exciting opportunities for Thrive to deliver world-class financial solutions for small business owners who are the lifeblood of our economy.”

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