Business Reporter has an exclusive interview with Payza EVP (now CEO) Firoz Patel about e-commerce and the future of payments. Patel spoke to Alastair Greener at the Telegraph Studios for Business Reporter’s Future of Payments campaign.
From the interview: Patel has an “expertise in opening and developing new markets, especially in countries with emerging economies” which gives him a “unique insight into the challenges facing these populations.”
Today, Patel states, many developing countries are experiencing an “economic revitalisation” as it’s time to put the old aside and make room for the new. Lately there has been more focus on empowering local communities and to get business owners to participate in the digital economy, and many are now realising that it’s time to “join the global marketplace”.
However, according to Patel there is a challenge in “providing local tools that are compatible with international payment networks”. Payza is proud to be a global online payment processor that provides ways to facilitate international payment. Payza partners with local financial institutions and works with regulators to “facilitate payments between local customers and cross-border merchants.”
“Payza blends traditional payment options, such as credit cards and bank accounts, with new technologies such as mobile money and cryptocurrencies.” People are today looking for faster and easier methods of payments and Payza is pleased to say that one of our top priorities is to provide exactly this to our customers. “With more variety of payments systems coming on the market, it’s becoming very cumbersome for people to have or maintain many different facilities. They just want something more like a one-stop shop”, says Firoz Patel.
Watch the interview and read the full article on the Telegraph website: Payza’s Firoz Patel on e-commerce and the future of payments.
The early months of 2017 have been a very interesting time for Bitcoin. On January 2nd, Bitcoin maintained a value of $1,000 USD for the first time and only 5 months later it set its current record value of over $3,000. For a cryptocurrency that was worth only 25 cents per coin in 2010, this radical rate of growth has kept investors on the edge of their seats.
Soaring values can have their downsides though. Bitcoin is embroiled in a civil war caused by its scaling problem. Both sides know that a “fork” (an update to the code which runs the Bitcoin blockchain) is required for the currency to survive in the long-term, but the debate centers on whether a “hard” or “soft” fork is the optimal solution. A hard fork would split the code to effectively create a new blockchain with an increased block size, which would solve the scaling problem but make the “new” Bitcoin incompatible with the old. The alternative, a “soft fork”, known as Segregated Witness or SegWit, has been proposed as a way to increase the block capacity without splitting the code.
Opponents of SegWit have two concerns. The practical opposition is that the soft fork would not increase transaction speeds significantly enough to maintain Bitcoin’s lead in the cryptocurrency landscape. The philosophical opposition is that SegWit would undermine Bitcoin’s purpose: to be a decentralized alternative to fiat currencies, immune to political influence.
SegWit developer Peter Wuille addressed Bitcoin’s scaling problem by devising a method to “segregate” the transaction signature from the input data: the signatures used to validate transactions can be stored separately from the blockchain, increasing the chain’s capacity to store more data and process transactions more rapidly. The trouble is that this requires the signatures to be overseen by the Bitcoin Foundation, which some see as effectively “centralizing” control of the currency. To many, this stands in diametric opposition to the ideals Bitcoin was founded on – but is that really true?
In 2008, a mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto released a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. In the 9-page whitepaper, the pseudonymous author (or authors) defines the technologies which make the blockchain possible, using an innovative proof-of-work scheme which solved the double spending problem by timestamping transactions into a public ledger on a peer-to-peer network. This allowed, for the first time, a fully automated and decentralized currency and laid the technological foundation for all cryptocurrencies today.
In the introduction to the whitepaper, Nakamoto writes:
“Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model. (…) What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party. Transactions that are computationally impractical to reverse would protect sellers from fraud, and routine escrow mechanisms could easily be implemented to protect buyers.”
That is about as political as the paper gets. Nakamoto describes Bitcoin as a technological innovation which simplifies e-commerce transactions and security, without contextualizing it within an anarchic political frame. While in 2008 a lack of faith in fiat currencies was definitely part of the conversation among the early adopters of Bitcoin, the developer(s) of the blockchain chose not to define it in those terms.
If Bitcoin was not intended to stand in explicit opposite to fiat currencies, but was simply envisioned as a more modern and robust payment technology, is SegWit incompatible with its original intention? Technically, SegWit would change the fundamental design of the blockchain by separating the transaction data from the proof-of-work, which means the possessors of the proof-of-work would take on the role of a “trusted third party” – which is exactly what Nakamoto set out to eliminate in the development of Bitcoin.
On the other hand, if SegWit could be implemented in such a way that the proof-of-work is also a fully automated chain, operating in parallel to the blockchain and communicating with it, this would theoretically achieve the same results as the whitepaper envision, but with an updated design.
A Hard Fork
The alternative, the “hard fork”, would retain the fundamental design as laid out in the 2008 paper, with the only difference being to increase the capacity of the individual blocks in the chain. Currently, these 10-minute blocks are limited to a maximum size of 1MB, but Bitcoin has become so popular that it can no longer process all the transactions made within any given 10-minute period, creating a backlog.
The existence of this problem suggests that Nakamoto never dreamed Bitcoin would become so popular, but many investors believe this is still only the beginning. So far this year, the price of 1 BTC has already tripled and some analysts have gone so far as to make value estimates as high as $55,000 USD per coin by 2022. On paper, Bitcoin’s technology is ingenious, but can a truly decentralized currency really handle this level of popularity?
The debate over the hard or soft fork has made Bitcoin highly volatile in recent months, with optimistic investors doubling down on their stock and the more wary exchanging their Bitcoin for other altcoins such as Ether. And it’s no secret that when the inevitable fork happens the coin’s value will drop significantly in the short term as the new chain is tested and the old is abandoned, which raises a different perspective on whether Bitcoin has lived up to its promise. Bitcoin’s popularity is often credited to its position as an alternative to fiat currencies, which have lost trust due to the high level of geopolitical turmoil during the last decade. But if Bitcoin after almost 10 years still shows no sign of stability comparable to fiat currencies, can it really be considered more secure?
Payza is closely following the development of Bitcoin and altcoins and is committed to providing practical and innovative cryptocurrency services. Using our platform, you can buy, store, and sell Bitcoin and sell over 50 different altcoins right inside your account. For the latest updates and industry insights about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Whoever coined the phrase “cash is king” probably wasn’t talking about international travel. There are so many reasons NOT to carry cash internationally that an entire industry has been built on providing alternatives – with the downside that, once you’ve booked your flight, it can be hard to decide what the best form of travel money for your trip is.
While cash is arguably the easiest option, major credit cards are accepted all over the world, and traditional traveler’s checks were developed for precisely this reason, these days the secret weapon of the savvy traveler is prepaid cards. Prepaid card technology isn’t new (the first prepaid cards became available around 30 years ago) but they’re finally reaching their potential: for the past few years they’ve been the biggest growth story in the payments landscape, topping 10 billion annual purchases as of 2015, and showing impressive 67% growth since 2009.
Let’s compare the most popular options and see how prepaid cards stack up:
The quickest way to have money on hand when traveling is to take it out of an ATM. But unless you can accurately estimate how much cash you are going to need during your trip, you may find yourself returning to the ATM often and incurring hefty currency exchange fees from your bank as well as foreign withdrawal fees from the machine. Withdrawing a large amount in order to avoid this problem raises issues of its own, you run the risk of having your cash stolen or losing it in your travels.
Traveler’s checks were designed as an early replacement for cash – simply put, these are checks that can be used in the same way as cash, but which requires you to provide proof of identity and signature verification in order to use it. Traveler’s checks let you carry a high value of “cash” without the same risks. But there are still other drawbacks; it can be hard to accurately estimate how much you are going to need for your trip and, depending on your bank, this method may come with high transaction fees of its own.
The biggest drawback for traveler’s checks though is that they are rapidly becoming obsolete. The seasoned traveler will find that traveler’s checks are not as universal as they used to be; just like a regular paper check, fewer and fewer businesses are accepting this form of payment in the age of more modern payment schemes.
The classic solution, as exemplified by the fact that most major hotels will require it as a form of payment, is credit cards. A major advantage of credit cards is that, because you pay them back later, you don’t have to worry about budgeting ahead of time or running out of money. Credit card providers are also highly competitive when it comes to the travel money segment, so many cards will offer a combination of travel insurance, travel discounts and loyalty points as incentives.
But even credit cards come with drawbacks: there is no protection from debt, as you can easily spend well above your intended budget; there are usually high foreign transaction fees when using a credit card away from home; and if you lose your card, there’s a chance that almost anybody can use your it to buy whatever they want, giving you a headache to sort out with your credit card company.
That brings us to prepaid cards – the increasingly widespread, highly effective solution to your travel money concerns. As “closed loop” cards limited to a defined group of retailers fall out of fashion, general purpose re-loadable (GPR) cards, are growing rapidly in popularity. These cards can be used almost anywhere credit cards are accepted, making them just as convenient for travelers. Young adults are using these cards strictly to limit their budgets and in the post-recession world, many people of all ages are finding them to be an ideal solution for making card payments without accumulating credit card debt.
Specifics vary depending on the issuer, but prepaid cards are generally purchased, activated and then loaded with the amount of funds you’re going to need. Typically, you can reload them remotely via online banking or e-wallet and they offer the same liability protections as traditional credit cards.
Prepaid cards provide all the same advantages as other travel money options while eliminating the downsides. It’s still recommended to carry a small amount of cash for cash-only transactions such as coffee and cab fare, and to have a credit card for hotels and others places that may only accept credit, but for everything else, prepaid cards are the solution to all your travel money needs.
The rapid growth of prepaid card adoption shows the appeal of this product. For your next trip, consider using the Payza Card to help you budget for your expenses, keep your money secure, and keep your transaction fees to a minimum. For instructions on how to order your Payza Card, visit the Payza Reference Center.
The Payza Card puts your money in your hands. With no monthly fee and pay-as-you-go transaction fees, our prepaid MasterCard-branded card is an affordable alternative to a traditional checking account. Payza is committed to supporting local payment options for our users all around the world and the Payza Card allows us to provide versatility for our members who want to use their Payza funds online, in-store, or simply withdraw it from an ATM. For more information about the Payza Card, be sure to subscribe to our blog.
Bitcoin has a scaling problem.
When the cryptocurrency software launched in 2009, the nature of the blockchain technology on which it was built meant that there was a hard cap on the total amount of transactions that could be processed in a given amount of time. In the past eight years, the basic technology hasn’t really changed, but the user base has grown so large that the Bitcoin network is struggling to handle the transaction volume, and unless something changes, this issue will only get worse over time.
Blockchain technology was designed by the anonymous developer(s) of Bitcoin and has come to be a core technology in almost all cryptocurrencies today. The Blockchain is a public ledger where all Bitcoin transactions are recorded and bundled into 10-minute blocks which are limited to a maximum size of 1MB. The scaling problem is the result of this size limit; Bitcoin has become so popular that it can no longer process all the transactions made within any given 10-minute period.
To address this problem, developer Pieter Wuille has introduced to concept of SegWit, short for Segregated Witness. SegWit addresses Bitcoin’s scaling problem by “segregating” the transaction signature (the “witness”) from the input data. In short, signatures, which validate transactions, would be stored separately from the blockchain. This will free up more space within each block to store more transaction data and help streamline transaction processing.
Since signatures make up about 65% of the size of the input data, removing them can increase the effective block capacity by more than double. On top of that, SegWit also solves the problem of transaction malleability, a minor security flaw which makes it possible for hackers to change the signature of a transaction before the block is confirmed, which invalidates any later transactions in the chain.
The trouble with SegWit is that this still may not be enough to completely fix the problem. Bitcoin is growing so rapidly – now with over 10 million users making hundreds of thousands of transactions per day – that even doubling the capacity of a block is only a temporary solution. This was pointed out by the Bitcoin mining community, who took a stance against the developers, favoring a hard fork over the latter group’s proposed solution.
A hard fork is what happens to a blockchain when a new rule chain is introduced to the software that makes it incompatible with the previous version. For example, to upgrade the Bitcoin network in order to allow block sizes to increase from 1MB to 2MB would create a hard fork.
After some debate, the two parties have agreed to a compromise called SegWit2x, with the mining community agreeing to Segregated Witness in return for the execution of a 2MB hard fork within 6 months of SegWit implementation.
However, SegWit2x may be too little too late. Ironically, the sheer popularity of Bitcoin, which led to the scaling problem in the first place, meant that there were too many interested parties that needed to agree to the upgrade, causing the execution of SegWit to be delayed (it was originally suggested in 2015). Bitcoin competitor Litecoin recently executed the SegWit upgrade to their blockchain.
Litecoin, even though it is the 5th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is smaller than Bitcoin and therefore in a better position to adapt to the latest technologies available. Franklyn Richards, Litecoin Foundation director, initially admitted that the implementation of SegWit could serve as a test for Bitcoin, but the announcement in late March caused such a renewed interest in the Bitcoin competitor that Litecoin’s value tripled during the month of April and has doubled again since then, growing from roughly $5 USD to around $30.
This success has led many to speculate that Bitcoin missed their opportunity to capitalize on SegWit, leading segments of the cryptocurrency community to abandon the most popular coin in favor of newer, more innovative options.
The Future of Bitcoin
Bitcoin was originally developed with the goal of creating a decentralized currency, free of influence from political forces and the banking industry, and grew popular because of those ideologies. While it’s necessary for the developers of Bitcoin to make changes in order for the currency to survive, many Bitcoin enthusiasts believe that the proposed changes give too much power to the Bitcoin Foundation, thus making the currency no longer decentralized. If Litecoin or another altcoin develops a better way to solve the scalability problem while maintaining decentralization, it may spell the end of Bitcoin as we know it.
The power of digital currencies in today’s economy cannot be understated, as more people and companies invest in cryptocurrencies and retailers large and small begin accepting them as forms of payment both online and in-store. To learn about some of the leading Bitcoin competitors, check out our Beyond Bitcoin series:
Visit the Payza Blog regularly as we will be following cryptocurrencies closely in 2017 and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for e-commerce news from around the web.
Now that the holiday season is behind us, it’s time to prepare for the next best—or worst—time of year: tax season.
The best way to avoid unnecessary stress when filing your taxes is to have all your revenue and expenses available in a clear and organized setup. As a Payza member, you can rest assured that all your important transactions and revenue you made using our payment gateway are neatly recorded and always available.
Here’s an overview of how you can access your transaction history from your account and have important tax information at your fingertips.
Review and download your transaction history
Your financial records are all accounted for in your detailed transaction history. This section of your account lists every transaction that you’ve made since you opened your Payza account. Don’t split hairs trying to find a specific transaction from way-back-when. Simply search for a given transaction by transaction type, currency, transaction status, reference number, or date.
How to review your detailed transaction history
1) In your Payza account, click “Account” in the navigation bar to the left.
2) Click on “Detailed Transaction History”.
You may want to enter important transaction data to a spread sheet or share this information with a trusted tax professional. No problem: you can download your transaction history and save it as a CSV file, making it easy to import this information to most accounting and tax applications.
How to download your transaction history
1) In your Payza account click “Account” in the navigation bar to the left then click “Detailed Transaction History”.
2) Click “Download CSV”.
3) Choose to either “Open” or “Save” the file to your computer.
Hey, America: Need a 1099-K?
Are you a merchant from the United States? No worries, Payza will send your required Form 1099-K to report your online business income. Before the end of January, you will receive a notice from us once you log in to your Payza account to download a .pdf file of the tax form.
What is a 1099-K?
Specific to the Internal Revenue Service of the United States, Form 1099-K reports income received from electronic payments, such as credit cards, debit cards, Google Checkout, Payza and other online payment gateways.
The two certainties in life are death and taxes. At Payza, we do our best to make the latter easier to accept.
Payza members in Europe now have a new, simplified process to add funds to their accounts using bank transfers. We’ve made it as simple as possible to create a bank wire or bank transfer deposit. If you live in a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) country, you won’t even need to connect your bank account to your Payza account, that’s how easy we’ve made it!
We’ve also made it easier for members everywhere to complete a Bank Account deposit. Now when you set up this type of transaction our system is able to complete most of the information for you. You no longer need to first select whether you wish to make a Bank Transfer or a Bank Wire deposit, simply indicate the country your bank account is located in and our system will automatically generate the form for the deposit type available.
The process for Bank Transfer deposits from accounts in Europe has been further streamlined making it faster and easier than ever to Add Funds by Bank Transfer. Instead of connecting a bank account to your Payza account, you’ll just need to let us know which country your bank account is from and how much you’d like to deposit. Payza’s system will create the transaction right away and you can complete it in person, by phone, or online, depending on the services your bank offers.
“Payza is a global company, and we’re committed bringing the best possible experience to every region we serve,” said Firoz Patel, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Corporate Affairs. “We saw an opportunity to improve our services for members in Europe and acted on it. We’re constantly looking for ways to offer our members more, wherever in the world they happen to be. At Payza, we have an incredible team that is able to pounce on these opportunities and seamlessly integrate them into our platform.”
If you live in a SEPA country simply follow these instructions to set up a bank transfer deposit:
- Log in to your Payza account and click on the “Add Funds” tab.
- On the Add Funds screen, select “Bank Account”.
- Select the country your bank account is located in, select your currency, and enter the amount you wish to deposit. Click “Next”. *
- Review the details of your deposit and click “Add Funds”.
Once you have completed these steps, you’ll be presented with instructions to give to your bank in order to complete the deposit. You can complete the deposit by bringing the instructions to a teller in person, or by using your bank’s phone or online banking services.
*Note: For some countries, you may be asked to validate your identity by entering a phone validation code. Select whether you wish to receive the code by voice call or SMS and enter the phone number you wish to use. On the next screen you will be asked to enter your validation code.
At Payza, we aim to give you great service and a wide range of options when it comes to adding and withdrawing funds, shopping online, or processing payments for your e-commerce business. That’s why we introduced features like Bitcoin withdrawals and deposits, as well as credit card withdrawals, over the last year. It’s why we continue to innovate and form partnerships with other cutting edge businesses that can add value to your Payza account.
That is one reason Payza works with e-currency exchangers. We’ve already looked at some of the ways e-currency exchangers help you get more out of your Payza account in this Payza blog post, but there are even more ways that e-currency exchangers can benefit you.
More Deposit Options
You can use authorized e-currency exchangers to add and withdraw funds to and from your Payza account. This means that the deposit and withdrawal options of our exchangers become your Payza deposit and withdrawal options. For example, with Payza’s newest authorized exchanger, Rchange, you can fund your Payza account using Western Union and MoneyGram by first depositing to these exchangers and then transferring those funds to your Payza account. This is especially convenient for members that aren’t able to use Payza’s credit card or bank transfer/wire options.
Authorized exchangers also offer alternative withdrawal options as well, giving you more choice about how and where you can get your money.
Payza is always looking for new partners that can help provide our members with added services. If you manage an e-currency exchange, contact us about becoming a Payza authorized exchanger.
At Payza, we strive to provide accessible and affordable payment services to everyone, including the underbanked people of the developing world. In places such as Bangladesh and the Philippines, we have had the opportunity to provide a payment platform which has allowed many people to participate in the digital economy for the very first time.
In our line of work, a common concern raised is that of the digital divide. It is often assumed that, as the developed world becomes more and more digitized, the more rural parts of the developing world are being left behind. But according to a recent study from CGAP, the digital divide may just be a myth.
The study, which looked at government-to-person (G2P) beneficiaries in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, shows that technology does not act as an economic barrier. G2P transactions almost exclusively target the very poor members of the economy – those most likely to have limited access to new technologies.
Impoverished G2P recipients in Andhra Pradesh have actually benefitted from the implementation of e-transfers for the disbursement of payments. On average, the distance traveled by recipients to collect their funds has been reduced by half, and overall trust in the system has increased.
This is an example of how, instead of creating a divide, the digitalization of the marketplace has had the opposite effect – a major increase in economic opportunity.
In another example, regions with high unemployment such as Bangladesh have benefited greatly from new technologies. In 2012, Payza became the first e-commerce processor to operate in Bangladesh, which allowed many IT specialists, who would otherwise be unemployed, to provide their services remotely to companies based elsewhere in the world, and get paid via Payza for their work.
It’s not so hard to understand why the rise of e-commerce and alternative payment providers has, instead of creating the predicted digital divide, actually helped people around the world. The benefits to business are enormous:
– Digital information is weightless, virtual and instant;
– The cost of materials, storage and transportation has been greatly reduced;
– Digital networks have revolutionized communication by providing a platform for people to interact, collaborate, organize, strategize and share information instantaneously and at very little cost;
– The communication infrastructure has globalized the marketplace.
The vast cost savings to businesses naturally trickle down to the individual. Data is cheaper to deliver and therefore access to it is more affordable and more universal.
The digital economy makes possible a world without borders. While differences in currency, culture, communication and regulation prevent that from being fully realized, we at Payza continue in our effort to provide accessible and affordable payment services to everyone, regardless of location. There are many challenges yet to be faced, but to Payza it is very much worth the effort to navigate those challenges in order to open up new markets and reach the billions of people in need.
National Save for Retirement Week strives to raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement. The week provides an opportunity for people to reflect on their personal retirement goals and determine if they are on target to reach those goals. For more information keep checking the Payza blog for tips on money management.
Whether you’re a 20-something whose retirement seems like a lifetime away or your golden years are just around the corner, there’s no need to over work yourself. It’s never too early nor too late to start saving for your retirement and to secure a solid financial foundation for your old age.
At Payza, finance is our business, so we’d like to share some of our knowledge with you in order to help make sure you have a happy and comfortable future.
As any investment professional will tell you, a long time-frame is a major advantage. The sooner you start saving for retirement, the more time the money you put aside has to grow. Here are some tips to help you start laying the foundation:
- Make it automatic: At the beginning of your career, it’s unlikely that you’ll be earning a high salary. But if a portion of every paycheck is automatically deposited directly into your retirement fund, you’ll find that you miss the money a whole lot less.
- Leverage your raises: The reason you generally make less money early in your career is because you’re in the high growth part of the curve. Raises come more frequently in your early years, so you can use them as an opportunity to increase your contribution to your retirement fund without having to cut back from your everyday budget.
- Spend less on the money you save: With many retirement plans, you don’t have to pay any income tax on the money you put into your savings. By putting the money away now, you get to keep more of it later.
For Late Starters
If you’re already well past your 20s, planning for retirement can be a little trickier, but that’s all the more reason to start saving now. Follow these tips to ensure that you keep you maximize your savings:
- Pay off debts: The more interest you accrue on your debts, the less money you will be able to set aside for your retirement. Stop paying only the minimum on your credit card – remember, paying a little more each month will translate into big interest savings year after year.
- Eliminate unnecessary expense: Do you really need collision coverage on that beat-up old car? All those big monthly payments could be going into your retirement fund. If you can safely eliminate any of them, you should. And what about all those fancy electronics you had your eye on? Before you go all out to buy the top of the line models, consider your needs (and your means) and then only get the tools and devices you truly need.
- Downsize: An empty nest is a big expense. It costs a lot of money to heat and maintain all those empty bedrooms. Downsizing can cut your mortgage payments substantially and put enough money in your pockets for some travel in your golden years. Or, if you do have extra space, consider renting out your empty rooms to help pay off your mortgage a bit quicker, or to help earn some extra cash to put away for retirement.
No matter how far along the road to retirement you are, if you haven’t started saving already, start now. It’s up to you to lay the foundation for a comfortable future, or before you know it, it could be too late.
Do you have a hard time sticking to your carefully laid-out budget? When money is within reach, it’s all too easy to spend it, even when you know you shouldn’t. An online payment solution can help you manage your funds. With the Payza e-wallet, you can eliminate that risk. Next time you make a budget, stick to it by loading only what you can afford to spend into your Payza e-wallet and leave credit cards out of it.
Disclaimer: Information presented on the Payza Blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice. While all attempts are made to present accurate information, it may not be appropriate for your specific circumstances.
Our CCO, Ferhan Patel, has been featured in a new article from Compliance Week. Compliance Week, an information service on corporate governance, risk and compliance, published an article focusing on the challenges facing emerging tech companies featuring advice from top compliance, risk and fraud specialists. Visit Compliance Week to read the full article: New Breed of Online Businesses Face Unique Transaction Risks.
Below is an excerpt from the article, including Mr Patel’s comments.
September 2013 – Compliance Week
Empowered by “Web 2.0” and built on the foundation of social media, a new wave of companies is taking shape, described as “next generation” businesses. Companies with names like AirBnB, Uber, Lyft, and Square are raising new compliance and regulatory challenges.
Many are non-traditional, dabbling in virtual currencies or engaging in peer-to-peer transactions, or are part of the “sharing economy,” where users lend and borrow cars, boats, houses, and vacation spots. These companies face unique money laundering and financial transaction risks that traditional online companies haven’t had to deal with.
In a traditional venture, money laundering controls only look at one side of the transaction; many of these companies demand a dual-sided approach. In some ways the risk profile for some of these companies is mitigated because the cash amounts exchanged are often small. In other ways, however, risks are enhanced because they deal in, and with, non-traditional financial services. Their social media component can also open the door for international scammers who target users.
Reputational risk also has a very clear-cut financial impact on these types of business. To share, customers must trust that they are protected. If that’s not the case, they take their money elsewhere.
Given the risks they face, what should these emerging companies do?
Vigilance is crucial, says Ferhan Patel, chief compliance officer and director of global risk and compliance for Payza, a global online payment platform. “The various fraud scenarios that we monitor on a weekly basis are incredible,” he says. “For someone in a developing nation, if they make $10, or $100 each time, they consider it worth the risk that they are putting in because they are sitting behind a computer thinking no one will be able to catch them. The reward outweighs the risk.”
Crooks may not just steal credit card information. They may also try to manipulate currency exchange rates, or alter IP addresses, he says. Red flags may be an unusual pattern of log-in attempts, whether in number or location.
That vigilance, Patel says, has to extend to social media sites. On a frequent basis, he will find videos posted to YouTube and Vimeo that purport to be instructions on how to hack into his systems. Most are fishing for an individual who, by turning to a hacker, gets hacked themselves. With constant monitoring of video and social media sites, he can respond quickly and remove the offending content to protect those who may become victims.
Patel stresses the value of mentoring and industry collaboration. He suggests finding external expertise, whether it is paid consultants, free advice, or through a business group such as the Stanford University based BayPay Forum, which networks payment professionals.
“You might know about technology, but you need to find someone who understands the payment space inside out and can help you avoid pitfalls along the way,” he says. “You can’t just read about compliance online. You may not realize what it actually means in application or in practice. Anyone who is starting up, whether venture backed or privately backed, should be networked and find other people in the same space.”