Deutsche Bank has joined forces with software firm Serrala to launch an API interface for Sepa instant payments for corporates using SAP enterprise resource planning software, taking a step towards real-time treasury.

The Sepa Instant Credit Transfer scheme sets the standard that digital payments must be executed in 10 seconds or less. Although it has been available since 2017, it still requires mostly proprietary bank offerings.

The new API changes this, using Serrala's FS2 Payments for SAP solution to allow corporations to initiate payments instantly though the SAP ERP system. This, say the partners, lays the foundations to accelerate and digitalise not only treasury processes but also end-to-end business workflows.

Initially, the API will be available to capture, process and manage manual payments in SAP systems. This will later be expanded to other payment systems.

Thomas Stosberg, director, corporate cash management sales, Deutsche Bank, says: "Combining Sepa Instant Payments with API technology creates new opportunities for our customers. Corporates benefit from an end-to-end integration of their business processes via treasury components to the bank and vice versa and receive an immediate confirmation of their payments."

Stephan Benkendorf, chief domestic officer, Serrala, adds: "Our API transforms payment processing from scheduled batch payments to real-time processing, accelerating payments significantly."


Barclays, BBVA, Deutsche Boerse and Swift are among the financial services sector names to join a new collective promoting the development of a global framework for the development and adoption of distributed ledger technology.

More than 100 organisations from across different industries have signed up to the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (Inatba), which grew out of a series of forums held by the European Commission.

The signatories are developers, suppliers and users of blockchain technologies, ranging from giant corporations to DLT specialists such as Ripple and ConsenSys, all of which have committed to develop a "predictable, transparent and trust-based global framework". 

Based in Brussels, Inatba will work towards the development and adoption of interoperability guidelines; promote an open, transparent and inclusive global model of governance for blockchain; and maintain a permanent dialogue with public authorities and regulators.

Carlos Kuchkovsky, CTO, new digital business, BBVA, says: "BBVA joins Inatba with the conviction that it is essential to forment collaboration among corporations, SMEs, startups, public institutions and regulators in order to create global standards that ensure interoperability among platforms and a clearer legal framework that encourages the adoption of distributed ledger technology and blockchain, so that everyone in society can take advantage of its benefits."


Apple is launching its own credit card that will be tightly integrated into its mobile wallet and promises to help customers lead a "healthier financial life".

Available in the US this summer, the titanium Apple Card is a built into the Apple Wallet app on iPhones and is touting a simple application process, no fees, financial management tools, and top level security and privacy. 

As widely predicted, the tech giant has teamed up with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard on the new venture, which takes it deeper into the financial lives of its customers as it focuses on fee-generating services.

Users can sign up for the card in the Wallet app in minutes and start using it with Apple Pay in stores, in apps and online. There are no annual, late, international or over-the-limit fees while interest rates are "among the lowest in the industry" claims Apple.  

Machine learning and Apple Maps are being used to label transactions with merchant names and locations, with purchases automatically totaled and organized by color-coded categories. Users also get weekly and monthly spending summaries. 

On security and privacy, a unique card number is created on iPhone for Apple Card and stored in the device’s Secure Element, a special security chip used by Apple Pay. Every purchase is authorized with Face ID or Touch ID and a one-time unique dynamic security code.  

The physical plastic is also ditching the embossed card number as a way to improve security in case a customer loses it, a move which could be mimicked by banks in favour of more secure limited-use numbers.

With rivals Facebook and Google facing privacy concerns, Apple is stressing that it doesn’t know where a customer shopped, what they bought or how much they paid. Meanwhile, Goldman has committed to not sharing or selling data to third parties for marketing and advertising. 

For Goldman, the deal marks another incursion into the consumer market. Says CEOm David Solomon: "We’re thrilled to partner with Apple on Apple Card, which helps customers take control of their financial lives.”

The firm is talking up an attractive rewards programme, with customers receiving a percentage of every purchase amount back as Daily Cash, which is added to the card each day and can be used right away for purchases using Apple Pay, to put toward their Apple Card balance or send to friends and family in Messages. 

Jennifer Bailey, VP, Apple Pay, says: “Apple Card is designed to help customers lead a healthier financial life, which starts with a better understanding of their spending so they can make smarter choices with their money, transparency to help them understand how much it will cost if they want to pay over time and ways to help them pay down their balance.”


Lloyds Banking Group has rolled out a suite of new features for its mobile banking app, including spend tracking, bill payment alerts and spare change savings options.

Available initially to users of Android mobiles, Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers will be able to receive mobile notifications which can be customised to track their spending and transactions.

The alerts can let users know when they receive money from a friend or contact, when refunds are credited or when standing orders or bills leave their accounts.

New pilots are also being tested that use machine learning software to alert the bank's nine million mobile customers when a regular bill is higher than usual or when they are charged for the first time on a card subscription. 

Later this year, customers will also be able to use these alerts to show how much they will have left to spend each month after regular bills, as well as when they are due to leave the account.

Stephen Noakes, Retail Transformation Director, Lloyds Banking Group, says: “These latest features have been designed around things that our customers tell us make mobile banking better for them, helping track their account activity and creating opportunities to save.

 “We are working hard behind the scenes in our technology labs, constantly testing out innovative new ideas to create more choice and control for customers.”

 From this month Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland customers will also be able to register to a Save the Change service on mobile apps, rounding up debit card spending to the nearest pound and depositing the excess into a savings account 

Customers can sign up for Save the Change in a branch or through internet banking, with almost a million registrations since it was launched.


Russian authorities are promoting the international use of an alternative financial messaging system to the global Swift network in order to mitigate the risk of sanctions.

Earlier this week Russian lawmakers approved the use of the network beyond Russia's borders, building on talks held with China, India, Iran and Turkey.

"As the system has proved to be viable and efficient, it draws interest from both Russian and foreign players, it is proposed to give any legal entities, Russian and foreign, the possibility to use it," said Anatoly Aksakov, head of the Russian Banking Association and a member of a Russian parliamentary financial committee.

The proposed bill still needs to be ratified by president Vladimir Putin before becoming law  but is a sign of the growing push to promote the financial messaging system as a viable alternative to the global Swift network.

These efforts have been driven by the threat of sanctions. It was back oin 2014 that the plans for an alternative financial messaging system were hatched when financial sanctions were imposed on Russia in the wake of its efforts to annex the Crimea.

This action raised fears that Russia could be omitted from the Swift network as was the case for Iran in 2012. Russia's central bank governor has admitted as much, as has Aksakov who said that the substitute system "obviously allows us to solve issues related to the sanctions pressure". 

He also said that some 400 mostly Russian companies have so far expressed an interest in using the system while there is also growing interest from a number of countries in the Middle East.

Founded in 1973 and still run as a banking cooperative, Swift has remained as the global financial messaging network for international transactions. It is not the first time alternative payment systems have been developed. China established the Cross-border Interbank Payment System which launched in October 2015 as an alternative to Swift, although a memorandum of understanbding between the two systems was signed in May 2016. 

Swift and its efforts to impose sanctions now potentially faces a much bigger threat from cryptocurrencies and the use of crypto exchanges. Back in January 2018 an advisor to Putin, Sergei Glazyev suggested that the development of a 'cryptoruble' could help to alleviate any pressure from sanctions.