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Gibraltar’s FinTech industry is expanding at a fast pace and it is bringing an acronym-rich and rather technical vocabulary with it. Whether you’re a seasoned industry expert who’s in need of a post-holiday refresh or a relative newbie to the FinTech scene, it is important that you keep up with the lingo in order to stay ahead (and avoid a red face at your next client meeting).

While entire books can be written about each of these terms – and we definitely recommend further reading – here’s our own Beginner’s Guide to the language of FinTech.

You’ve likely heard these terms a lot from us over the last few months. These terms refer to organisations, often based at Universities or co-working spaces that help startups and entrepreneurs grow their business. They do this by providing them with access to specialist networks, mentoring and – very often – exposure to potential clients and investors all for equity in the business they ‘incubate’.

Anti Money Laundering (AML) refers to a set of laws, regulations, and procedures designed to prevent criminal entities from disguising funds obtained illegally as legitimate income. An example of AML regulations is the requirement for banks and other financial institutions to verify the source of funds and follow strict rules to ensure they do not aid money-laundering activities.

For those of you who are still unsure and are too embarrassed to ask, the term ‘Cryptocurrency’ refers to a digital currency that relies on cryptography to validate and secure its transactions. Unlike traditional currencies, they are decentralized and do not depend on a central authority – like a bank – as transactions are recorded and replicated across a shared network of users. There are hundreds of cryptocurrencies out there including Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum. 

A cryptocurrency exchange – sometimes referred to as a Digital Currency Exchange (DCE) – is a business that allows people to trade cryptocurrencies for other digital currencies and other assets, such as conventional fiat money or other digital currencies. Gibraltar is leading the way in the regulation of these exchanges with new licences being issued almost each week.  

DLT stands for Distributed Ledger Technology. In a nutshell, it is a digital system for recording transactions across several devices and databases on a shared network at the same time. Experts believe that DLT could speed-up and reduce the cost of transactions because they remove the need for a central authority like a third-party broker. The technology has potential within cybersecurity as everyone within the network has access to the ledger making it extremely transparent and easy to verify. 

No, this isn’t cash that’s issued by the famous Italian carmaker, but refers to the physical cash in your wallet. It is the name given to any government-backed legal tender. The US Dollar, the British Pound and Euro are all examples of Fiat Money as their value is underpinned by a state-run system. While not exactly a FinTech term, it may come up in relation to trading and digital currencies. 

The GFSC stands for the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission. According to its website, its overall purpose is to ‘regulate the financial services industry in Gibraltar’. They also ‘aim to protect consumers, enhance the reputation of Gibraltar as a quality finance services centre and promote good business’. The GFSC also has the power to take measures where regulatory breaches occur. This could be via  firm-specific guidance or a formal sanction.

The Gibraltar Stock Exchange is a stock exchange based in Gibraltar. Established in 2014, it is the first fully licensed exchange in Gibraltar and it began full operations in the first quarter of 2015. More recently, GSX has turned its attention to digital securities through Blockchain technology. 

ICOs or ‘Initial Coin Offerings’ are a popular way to raise funds using cryptocurrencies. Often used by fintech startups, an ICO is when a company sells a set number of tokens/coins to investors in exchange for future functional units of currency. These usually kick in once a funding target – however lofty – has been reached. Note that ICOs are banned in some jurisdictions.

Think about it like FinTech’s younger cousin, ‘InsurTech’ refers to the use of technology to innovate and hopefully improve the insurance business. While it is still in relative infancy compared to FinTech, established insurance industry firms are exploring its use to provide end-to-end claims solutions, instant pricing for life insurance policies and fraud prevention.

This acronym stands for ‘Know Your Customer’ or ‘Know Your Client’ and it refers to the process of banks and other financial services verifying the identity of their clients in order to ensure they do not abuse their systems. The aim KYC protocols is to help banks manage risk more effectively and prevent their service from being used by criminal elements for money laundering activities.

Machine learning refers to the ability of a system to automatically learn and improve itself without needing to be programmed by humans to do so. Borne from Artificial Intelligence, it focuses on the development of computer programmes that can access and learn from data. Its application within FinTech is gaining pace and it is used in trading, financial trend forecasting, fraud prevention, customer targeting and even customer services.

A ‘Payment Gateway’ is a service that authorizes credit card or direct payments processing for all types of businesses. It facilitates a payment by transferring information between a payment portal (i.e online shopping cart) and customer or acquiring bank. In layman’s terms, it is the secure technology that bridges the gap between a business that wishes to accept online payments (incling card transactions) and their customers. 

A ‘Smart Contract’ is a fully-digital self-executing computer protocol intended to facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation of a contract between the parties. Widely used by cryptocurrencies, smart contracts aim to provide tighter security than traditional contract law as they make all transactions traceable, transparent, and irreversible. The use of smart contracts is starting to extend beyond cryptocurrencies. 

As the rather Sci-Fi name suggests, this refers to financial advice that’s provided through the use of computer algorithms and artificial intelligence. Robo-advisors – sometimes called online investment managers – limit the need for human interaction and typically invest and manage portfolios of low cost exchange-traded funds.

Sources: Wikipedia, Forbes,, Investopedia.