Everything You Wanted to Know About FinTech at MWC 2016 in Barcelona

One of the most prominent events of 2016 – Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – has gathered more than 90,000 visitors from around the world to see and talk about the latest trends, technology and innovative solutions in mobile.

CEOs and senior executives from the banking industry and tech giants including BBVA, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Klarna, MasterCard, Mozilla Foundation, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, SAP, Visa, Vodafone and many others also participated in the keynote program.

While the most news we have seen so far from the congress is about consumer electronics and mobile, there are certainly a few interesting announcements from FinTech segments that we couldn’t miss.

Nokia, one of the oldest consumer electronics companies that went through significant changes in the last decade, has announced a new 350-million-dollar fund of its proprietary VC firm Nokia Growth Partners. The fund is backed exclusively by Nokia and focuses specifically on IoT.

Announcing the fund, Nokia’s CEO Rajeev Suri said, We are launching a $350-million IoT investment fund through Nokia Growth Partners. Our goal is to help accelerate the broad IoT ecosystem, increase the demand for connectivity and generate returns from investments in compelling opportunities.

The fund will invest in promising companies primarily around Connected Enterprise, Consumer Solutions, Connected Car and Digital Health as well as enabling technologies with a focus on capabilities in big data and analytics, NGP said in a statement.

Another important announcement for the industry came from Payfone, a leading mobile authentication company. First, the company announced that they have deployed an additional tier-1 bank in the US, bringing the total number of active mobile banking accounts protected by Payfone in the United States to over 50,000,000. Second, they announced that they would be demonstrating how these capabilities can be used in concert with the GSMA’s Mobile Connect platform at this year’s Mobile World Congress event.

Payfone CEO Rodger Desai said, We consider getting each bank live to be a major milestone. And we are excited to announce that with the most recent US tier-1 bank going live on our platform, we are well on our way to our goal of authenticating 50,000,000 transactions daily in the United States for our banks and other customers. At Money20/20 last year, Payfone announced that they plan to process over 3 billion authentications in 2016. Adding an additional Tier-1 bank is strong evidence of progress towards that goal and speaks to the strength of Payfone’s strategic alliance with Early Warning.

As the MWC is rolling out, important announcements flood the Web. Among those, one of the most interesting ones is a report by the GSMA called State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money.

According to the report, more than one billion transactions were processed in December 2015. In fact, mobile money is available in 85% of countries where most of the population lack access to formal financial institutions.

Another important highlight indicated that registered accounts continue to grow with nearly 100 million new registered accounts in 2015, bringing the number to 411 million globally.

In 2015, there were 29 cross-border mobile money initiatives connecting 19 countries, with cross-border remittances growing 52% by volume over the last year.

The most important part of the research by the GSMA indicated that mobile money providers recognize the critical role of industry collaboration, which can accelerate ecosystem growth. Nearly one-quarter of mobile money providers surveyed indicated that they are currently collaborating and a third are planning to collaborate in the next 12 months. In 60 of the 93 markets where mobile money is available, there are two or more live mobile money services, and 35 markets have three or more live mobile money services. This provides continued opportunity for industry collaboration.

Another truly wonderful initiative related to financial inclusion has been announced at the congress. The GSMA has launched the Connected Women Commitment Initiative, aimed to reduce the mobile gender gap. Initial commitments by the GSMA will aim to connect millions of women in low- and middle-income countries by 2020. This builds on the 15 million women already benefiting from female-focused services offered by the GSMA’s Connected Women operator partners. Closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage in the developing world could unlock an estimated US $170-billion market opportunity for the mobile industry during 2015–2020.

Another piece of IoT-related news came from Accelerite, a provider of infrastructure software for enterprises and telecom carriers. The company has announced the launch of the next generation of Aepona IoT with its new capability that allows application developers to build IoT applications and deploy them in any IoT cloud platform, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT, IBM Bluemix or Microsoft Azure.

According to the official press release, the Aepona IoT platform enables mobile operators, enterprises, system integrators and other solution providers to rapidly develop IoT applications using agile techniques and a common platform for key industry verticals, such as logistics, heavy industry and construction and utilities. The configurable real-time events engine of the Aepona IoT platform streamlines the time and process of bringing new IoT services to the market.

As we have announced, IoT is officially the hottest segment that gathered a lot of attention with solutions exhibited at the congress.

Another IoT-related announcement was made by Libelium, which has launched The IoT Marketplace, a one-stop click-and-buy online store that offers fully integrated solutions from hardware sensors to cloud applications to speed up IoT adoption.

The IoT Marketplace features out-of-the-box kits containing programmed sensor devices connected to specific cloud applications for use in pilots or proof-of-concept projects in the minimum time to market.

Element Blue, ESRI, IBM, Indra, IoTSens, Microsoft, Telefónica, ThingPlus and Thingworx are the first few partners to join The IoT Marketplace offering cloud connection services with Libelium gateway and sensor devices.

Ultrasound innovator Elliptic Labs has introduced a way for consumers to interact with their devices. With the company's new EASY IoT software, turning on, off and controlling IoT appliances takes place with simple hand gestures. The new solution from Elliptic Labs is applicable to a wide range of IoT devices like smart thermostats, kitchen appliances, lighting controls and security systems, to name a few.

Even though IoT is one of the hottest segments, there was certainly more news from other segments, such as security and identity verification. Centrify, the leader in securing enterprise identities against cyberthreats, became one of the first identity providers to implement derived credentials for secure mobile access to apps, websites and services that require smart card authentication.

Derived credentials allow common access card (CAC) and personal identity verification-based (PIV) authentication via mobile devices without requiring cumbersome, dedicated smart card readers. This new capability extends Centrify’s integration of identity-based security to mobility, offering secure single sign-on (SSO) in even the most highly regulated environments.

MasterCard and Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) have announced a partnership that will combine the MasterCard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) with G&D’s Convego CloudPay solution, enabling issuers to work directly with G&D to implement industry-standard tokenization technology for their issuer HCE wallets. This provides consumers with access to digital payments provided directly by their card issuers. With this announcement, a leading mobile payment provider, G&D becomes the first third-party company to offer MDES tokenization services to issuing banks.

A2iA, a developer of software for the worldwide data capture, document processing and payment systems markets, announced the availability of its newest offline and client-side identity document recognition capabilities. A2iA Mobility supports the recognition of all International Travel Documents as defined by the ICAO specifications document 9303, including passports and visas from more than 230 countries from around the world as well as US driver's licenses and French national identity cards (CNI).

By automatically locating and extracting the personal identifying data, merchants, corporations and governments ensure the correct information is provided to the validation and authentication solution without the need for manual keying or the risk for user manipulation prior to submission.

MasterCard and WISeKey announced a partnership to enable contactless payments on select luxury brand watches and wearables. WISeKey currently works with an extensive list of premium watch manufacturers, which use WISeKey’s patented security software, WIS.WATCH.

With the companies’ shared commitment to advance payments security in both the physical and digital worlds, MasterCard will integrate its payments technology with WISeKey’s Cryptographic Root of Trust for IoT and NFCTrusted technology solutions, providing consumers with the freedom to securely shop using their favorite watch or wearable.

Another notable financial industry player, PayPal, has unveiled new partnerships and product updates that showcase its vision of using technology to reimagine financial services to be faster, simpler and more inclusive, whether online, in-app, in store or in new contexts.

PayPal has announced a collaboration with one of Europe’s largest mobile carriers, Vodafone, where millions of PayPal’s European customers will be able to fund payments on Android smartphones at Visa contactless terminals using the Vodafone Wallet. The service will start in Spain and expand to additional European markets later this year.

PayPal is also working with telecom providers Telcel (Mexico) and Claro (Brazil), on their digital wallets to help their more than 140 million active users manage and make every day spend purchases via mobile devices.

MasterCard wasn’t the only network owner to make waves at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Visa has announced that it is expanding its Visa Ready program to include Internet of Things (IoT) companies, such as manufacturers of wearables, automobiles, appliances, public transportation services, clothing and almost any other connected device. Emerging IoT companies will join mobile device manufacturers, including mPOS providers, mobile NFC-enabled device manufacturers and other technology partners in the Visa Ready Program.

The Visa Ready Program gives companies one seamless path to integrate secure payments into their products and services. The partners receive access to industry best practices, tools and resources, and Visa’s Digital Enablement Program (VDEP), which includes streamlined access to Visa Token Service (VTS).

Bell ID, the mobile payments specialist recently acquired by Rambus Cryptography Research, has announced that it will support international issuing banks, payment schemes and processors to integrate with Android Pay. Bell ID customers can utilize its Token Service Provider (TSP) software to enable and secure near field communication (NFC) payments functionality on Android phones.

FotoNation (owned by Tessera Technologies), has demonstrated the company’s latest, advanced mobile solutions for enabling biometrics, electronic image stabilization (EIS) and advanced face analytics. With nearly two billion digital cameras and smart devices worldwide using FotoNation’s imaging technologies, FotoNation is a key enabler of the mobile market and fast-growing, emerging adjacencies such as the recreational drone market. In particular, the imaging capabilities of leading high-end smartphones and tablets in the market today are powered by FotoNation’s computational imaging technology and solutions.