Future of FinTech | Edition #9 – March 2022
New week, new brew to refresh your taste buds with some hot-off-the-press FinTech happenings in a new edition of the Future of FinTech Newsletter! If you're new and curious, read on to find out what happened in the world of FinTech across six dynamic themes, and join 548 other FinTech nerds in receiving some fresh Weekly FinTech Brew delivered right to your inbox every Tuesday ☕️
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Here's the TL;DR
The Embedded Finance vertical has been holding its ground when it comes to being the most active segment for yet another week, stirring with headlines across a diverse range of activities.
Some noteworthy names that teamed up for exciting new offerings:
ETX Capital + TrueLayer for instant deposits and withdrawals,
Lloyds + Bink to create a new channel for retailers,
An Post + Tink for money management services,
Ripple + Tranglo for real-time cross-border payments, and
DeFi Technologies + SEBA Bank AG to offer investment solutions.
Some company-specific moves:
Swedish challenger bank Rocker rolled out biometric payment cards for payment authentication;
CME Group launched micro-sized Bitcoin and Ether options; and
DBS Bank introduced BNPL payments for credit card users in partnership with Mastercard and Pine Labs.
For the longer read, let's get going –
The Open Finance segment was abuzz with an assortment of fundings and partnerships for the week.
Credrails, a startup working on aggregating financial data in Africa, made the news for closing its $2.5M funding round backed by SoftBank. Atomic, a provider of open payroll APIs, landed $40M in Series B funding, which it will utilize to connect banks and FinTechs to consumers’ paychecks. Open finance startup Upswing also raised $4M from marquee global fund QED Investors to build plug-and-play platforms for open finance, and help FinTechs and consumer tech players offer financial services seamlessly.
On the partnerships front, Irish postal services provider An Post teamed up with European Open Banking platform Tink to help customers understand their spending behavior, better manage their savings, and set budgets to stay on track with their financial goals. FinDock announced its partnership and newly added Open Banking integration with GoCardless to deliver personalized payment experiences and drive more efficiencies in payments management. Furthermore, UK broker ETX Capital partnered with leading Open Banking platform TrueLayer to deliver instant deposits and withdrawals for the former’s customers. Payments platform Cheddar expanded into Open Banking through acquisition of an open banking-enabled, hyper-targeted, marketing platform by Upside that connects retail brands with consumers by offering personalized cashback. The Open Banking phenomenon isn’t just limited to the developed markets however – Arab National Bank upgraded their existing B2B services using API technology to meet the future needs of Open Banking in Saudi Arabia.
Many platforms are gearing up to offer smart solutions in order to provide the best of experiences to their customers. GoHenry hit the headlines for boosting its proposition with the launch of a Junior ISA aimed at the parents of children aged between 6-15, as it looks to school more children in responsible investing. Rocker, a Swedish challenger bank, rolled out its Rocker Touch biometric card as a “premium product” to allow users to authenticate payments with their fingerprint rather than using a PIN. Client-first digital business bank Grasshopper also announced the relaunch of its digital banking platform to help small businesses exceed their potential by building tools specifically designed for them.
In other news, LHV UK chose core banking platform Tuum to provide the core infrastructure for its banking operations. By leveraging Tuum’s technology and expertise, LHV UK will benefit from flexibility in serving its customers, while expanding its product offering. Singapore neobank IN Financial acquired MyCash, an international money transfer company focused on migrant workers, to amplify the value of its offerings to its shareholders and stakeholders. On the regulatory front, the Dubai International Finance Center (DIFC) unveiled an AI and coding license in collaboration with the UAE AI Office to attract AI companies and coders from around the world.
As the crown-taking theme for the week, the Embedded Finance segment was witness to quite a stir of activities on the dynamics of partnerships, funding rounds, acquisitions and product launches.
Raising a booming $150M in a mix of primary and secondary funding was IPO-bound financial services provider Pine Labs, placing the firm at a valuation of $5B. Dubai-based BNPL platform Tabby completed a Series B extension of $54M in a bid to expand its consumer product offering and facilitate its international expansion. UK-based social and investing app Shares also made the list for closing a $40M Series A round. FinTech startup Snapmint’s $9M Series A raise from a clutch of marquee investors and industry leaders; and Southeast Asian SME app Zappi’s $4M raise also made it to the list of the blockbuster funding rounds in the embedded landscape.
Two minds are better than one, and that is exactly what the many collaborations in the embedded sphere are trying to prove with their joint ventures. While Lloyds Banking Group entered a strategic partnership with FinTech Bink to enable retailers to connect to loyalty customers better, DBS Bank rolled out the ‘Mastercard Installments with Pine Labs’ feature in collaboration with Mastercard and Pine Labs to offer credit cardholders the access to BNPL offers at checkout. Acorn Finance and EverPro solution Joist joined forces to embed financing offers into Joist’s mobile platform, with no additional cost or onboarding effort. At the same time, Zip announced a definitive agreement to acquire Sezzle in a bid to continue supporting sustainable growth strategy and path to profitability.
Westpac made the headlines for appointing Damien MacRae at its first BaaS chief executive, overseeing the Australian lender's efforts to deepen its relationship with non-bank partners looking to embed banking services. Additionally, PollenPay created a buzz in the BNPL revolution having officially launched in the UK, offering a mobile-based application that provides more flexibility for payments. Pakistan’s Jiye Technologies also hit the news for launching a B2B BNPL feature under the ‘Jiye Khushhaal Karobar’ program for the agricultural sector.
The DeFi space has been in the limelight for a while now, garnering attention from a diverse range of players who are keen to incorporate and expand their portfolios to leverage from the novel notion of digitized transactions.
Decentralized aggregator 1inch introduced a new P2P functionality on its platform with the aim to offer trustless swaps backed by smart contracts and complete decentralization. With digital assets becoming ever so mainstream due to the advent of decentralized software, Adaswap made the move to launch Cardano DeFi ecosystem. CME Group also was in the news for its plans to launch options on Micro Bitcoin and Micro Ether futures to enable more ways for its users to manage their exposure to the top two cryptocurrencies by market capitalization.
Many firms are equally making moves to enhance their crypto capabilities, and partnerships serve to be just the answer to aid them with this ambition. While Ripple and Tranglo partnered on real-time cross-border payments for remittance providers without having to pre-fund, DeFi Technologies announced the launch of an Exchange Traded Product (ETP) venture with SEBA Bank AG in a bid to offer investment solutions. Additionally, Telefónica Tech partnered with Polygon blockchain to use its network and tools to develop web 3 solutions by enhancing its traceability, tokenization and certification capabilities. DeFi protocol Teller’s $6.85M strategic raise to expand marketplace integrations enabling uncollateralized lending in DeFi was also made for a key event in the industry’s happenings.
Crypto curious and want to know more about the buzz surrounding the Cryptosphere? 🧐 Well, then you definitely need to get yourself a weekly cuppa of the Future of Crypto newsletter!
A plethora of innovative launches remained at the forefront last week for the Platform Finance sphere, pertaining to the many platforms that are aiming to reach the super-app status.
Nordic-based FinTech Lunar made the bulletin for announcing the launch of an e-commerce payment solution that allows its customers to accept and track online payments. Uber moved closer to becoming a super app via the launch of its new Uber Explore product that allows users to book experiences. Not only that, but Uber made the news for its partnership with Deem to enable on-demand and scheduled ride bookings to be made through the Etta corporate booking platform.
Emerging markets have equally been drawing attention with their own product debuts – with AirAsia launching its financial ‘Air Money’ marketplace in Indonesia; Revolut Singapore releasing its Commodities exchange service to enable users to buy or sell gold or silver exposure instantly; and AL HILAL debuting on Dubai’s OOH platform to promote its lifestyle super app.
Canadian FinTech firm Mobi724’s acquisition of Argentinian e-commerce Avenida after agreeing to buy its shares for $4M; and Moroccan retail startup Chari’s acquisition of Axa Credit for $22M were also two highlights on the acquisitions front for the Platform vertical.
The race to reach the net-zero ambition has had several players from the finance sphere prioritizing ESG offerings. U.S. Bank hit the headlines for its plan to use Morningstar’s Sustainalytics to offer independent ESG analysis and reporting services. On the other hand, sustainable payment provider HELPFUL launched digital branded wallets designed to help businesses make their checkouts greener and faster by saving an estimated 80% of the CO2 produced by current payment solutions.
What’s more – the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), the Kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, laid out plans for raising green debt to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. The Fund published the green finance framework that will allow it to tap world markets to issue debt linked to environmentally friendly goals, including the sale of green bonds. US-based Verizon also made the news for issuing its fourth green bond offering of $1B, the net proceedings from which will be allocated entirely toward renewable energy investments to accelerate the transition to greener electrical grids across the US. At the same time, UK’s leading digital receipts and offers platform Flux claimed the one million customers mark, having hit 11 million digital receipts.
And that's a wrap 👋
We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Weekly FinTech Brew, and we'll be back with more next week!
Till then, if you're hungry for more FinTech insights, check out some of our other work at WhiteSight. Our latest publications include Honoring the Black Voices the FinTech way and exploring the downfall of the longtime practice of overdraft through The Rise and Fall of Overdraft.
If you're someone who likes to read think pieces, you will likely love our monthly blog Fintersections where our team members analyze the convergence of FinTech with the world.
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