HSBC: Supporting the homeless in the UK
It has been announced this week that HSBC is now providing bank accounts to individuals without a fixed address in the UK. FinTech finds out more.
HSBC has announced this week that it has teamed with Shelter and Crisis in order to offer homeless people a basic bank account without the usual banking requirements. To create a standard account, customers normally require photo ID and proof of address in order to proceed with creating the account, however, HSBC has made exceptions for those without permanent addresses in order to support them in finding stability and support.
There are over 320,000 homeless people across the UK alone currently, according to Shelter, and through its partnership with HSBC, both Shelter and Crisis can act as points of address for these people, giving them access to wages, benefits and loans.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis said: “It can be almost impossible to get a bank account without a fixed address and without ID, which often can be hard to keep safe and costly to replace if lost or stolen.
“A bank account can be a vehicle to help lift someone out of homeless, providing a way to receive payments, such as a salary or benefits. We’re pleased to see HSBC UK making it easier to get a bank account without having a fixed address, and we hope that this encourages all other banks to follow suit.”
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Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s hard enough if you’re homeless, living day-to-day on the streets in the freezing cold or trapped with your children in a grotty hostel, but not having a bank account can make life even tougher.
“That’s why Shelter is pleased to be working with HSBC UK on this game–changing service. Having a bank account not only allows homeless people to receive wages and claim benefits but can instil a much-needed sense of independence.”
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Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem
The development of tech ecosystems is placing the future of post-COVID banking in jeopardy. At a time when Big Tech can replicate the functions of traditional financial institutions, what can banks do to retain a grip on the market?
John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, has a few ideas. A SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform for financial institutions, Zafin is preparing the next generation of banks to cope with this precise challenge.
Smith is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. We asked him four questions:
Q. Have the events of the pandemic caused an irreversible shift in the digitalisation of banks? If so, is COVID the sole cause or are there other factors?
It’s a great question and one that I am asked a lot. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant shift in the acceleration of digital. In fact, I’ve seen some estimates show there to have been as much as four to six years of digital adoption growth since the initial lockdown started.
While the pandemic may be the primary reason for this growth, two other drivers include fintech disruption and the high costs of operating a traditional retail bank. Both of these factors have caught the attention of banking executives as they set their minds on accelerating digital transformation with a focus on high return, low risk.
Q. Some commentators believe banks must learn from Big Tech in order to survive. Do you agree? Please expand.
I agree completely; we’re living in the era of the ‘ecosystem’. All the seismic shifts we’re seeing in technology, be it aggregation, embedded finance, DeFi or hyper-personalisation are all enabled by the foundation of an ecosystem.
When financial institutions work with a strategic partner like Zafin, which has made the strategic investments in a best-in-class ecosystem, they’re able to capitalise on opportunities more quickly and safely, and will be better positioned for growth now and at the other side of the pandemic.
Q. What are currently the obstacles to adopting Open Banking? Is it more likely to 'take off' in some regions rather than others?
I would argue that Open Banking has been in the US for some time and will only continue to grow there. By definition, Open Banking is about the secure sharing of financial information that customers are aware of and have authorised. Under that definition, we’re seeing aspects of this well underway even though its full potential remains to be seen.
Third-Party Providers are a natural outcome of Open Banking, whereby they can create propositions beyond what a bank normally does to enable banking functions such as payments, borrowing, saving and so on. Once again, some of these are already present through industry-led initiatives, whereas regions such as the EU have taken the pathway of regulation such as PSD2.
The industry-led initiatives we’ve seen in the US have also had the added advantage of guard-rails that regulatory bodies like FFIEC and CFPB provide. There are also other technology-led initiatives such as API definitions that are set out through the FS-ISAC.
I would argue the future of Open Banking in North America will be through the natural evolution of the guidelines and API definitions that have been published, as well as the natural progression of industry initiatives.
Q. Are there any other bank tech trends you'd like to discuss?
Coreless banking. Zafin has been pioneering some of the work around externalising functions out of the legacy core to drive a more ‘fintech nimble’ bank, while not having to deliver a ‘heart and lungs’ core bank replacement.
Real life examples of this include moving some of the core functions of a banking system, such as product and pricing to a platform like Zafin. Origination, onboarding, KYC, risk, and compliance are all other examples of externalising banking functions for added agility.