Fintechs are in hot water for fraudulent covid loans (TWIF 12/9)

And - new product launches from Galileo, Robinhood, Paystack, Zimpler, and more.

Fintechs are in hot water for fraudulent covid loans (TWIF 12/9)

Hello Fintech Friends,

Tomorrow kicks off our last event of the year (well, other than our dumpling trek), our Dubai and Abu Dhabi Fintech Trek. You can see the full program here.

I’d like to thank our great sponsors and partners, the MENA Fintech Association, M2P, iOL Pay, Baraka, Ziina, Xare, and Nclude.

Further thanks go to Gaurav Dhar, Nameer Khan, Miriam Kiwan, Basil Moftah, Faisal Toukan, Carl Wazen and Ivan Jakovljevic for all of your support, advice, and partnership in planning this.

Yallah! يلا‎

Please enjoy another week of fintech and banking news below.


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💬 Quote of the Week
📖 Read of the Week

Eduardo Lopez for Fintech Explainers put together a great deep-dive covering the different types of payment cards, how they’re deployed by users, how they’re issued by financial institutions, key terms, and breaking down the stages of a transaction.

In his piece Orchestration is everywhere, This Week in Fintech Editor Michael Jenkins touches on the proliferation of fintech orchestration platforms that provide routing and intelligent services built on-top of financial aggregators.

Accel released its Top 100 Fintech EMEA list.

And McKinsey published its 2022 Global Payments Report, which is worth a skim to brush up on all that has happened in embedded finance, central bank digital currencies, and sustainable finance.

📊 Stat of the Week

From Miguel Armaza: In Nov. 2021, 6 of the top 10 publicly-traded fintechs had negative Operating Margin (median 10%), in Dec. 2022, 10/10 have positive Operating Margin (median 50%).


There is……….. way too much news this week.

🏦 Financial Services & Banking
🚀 Product Launches

American Express launched Business Link, a digital payments ecosystem for businesses to pay each other directly - both domestically and cross-border.

Wells Fargo launched Vantage, a digital banking service for commercial, corporate, and investment banking clients.

Dutch bank ABN Amro rolled out a business version of its consumer payments app, Tikkie.

HSBC launched discretionary portfolio management on its mobile app.

Fidelity this week opened up retail crypto trading accounts.

📰 Other News

Italy’s central bank has some concerns about its government trying to make digital payments illegal to prioritize cash. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria put a limit on ATM and over-the-counter bank withdrawals for consumers and businesses, to push them to use digital payments.

Mastercard partnered with UAE fintech superapp JinglePay to launch physical and virtual cards and with PaySend on cross-border payments. Visa partnered with Indian fintech Sella and identity provider Idemia in the launch of a new biometric credit card for fingerprint transactions.

Mastercard also enabled installment (ie. buy-now-pay-later) loans for its institutions.

Commodities exchange CME still plans to offer DeFi products.

Brazil’s congress passed a bill to regulate crypto payments, while Italy mulls imposing a 26% crypto gains tax. The Indian regulator asked payments fintech Paytm to resubmit its application for a banking license.

European Union regulators are developing a new framework to regulate online credit provision, while the European Central Bank delayed the launch of its collateral management platform.

American Express is getting taken to court in Australia for issuing cards to customers without verifying that they understood the terms, and Barclays was fined £8.4 million for failing to supply retailers with information on interchange fees.

JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon called crypto tokens ‘pet rocks.’


💻 Fintech
🚀 Product Launches

African payments firm Paystack (owned by Stripe) launched its own payments terminal.

Small business neobank Cashplus Bank released a small business credit card.

Robinhood is getting into the retirement game, with the launch of its traditional and Roth IRA products.

Swedish fintech company Zimpler launched a pay-by-bank invoice link.

UK neobank Kroo launched a 2% interest-bearing checking account.

Galileo launched its own embeddable buy-now-pay-later solution for banks.

Thales issued a voice payment card for the visually imparied.

Savvly introduced a pooled equity index fund for retirement planning.

Zelf launched an…. Anonymous debit card?

📰 Other News

A US select committee that is tasked with investigating fraud in the nation’s covid relief loan programs has come out swinging against specific fintechs for recklessly lending to applicants with minimal checks. Specifically, the committee alleges that Womply and Blueacorn handed out millions in Paycheck Protection Program loans to dubious customers and broke rules to take out loans themselves. Meanwhile, over a third of Starling Bank’s covid support loans are at risk of default.

Yahoo will offer retail stock trading - and possibly crypto trading - through Yahoo Finance, while Google Pay was granted payment institution status by Brazil’s central bank, allowing it to initiate payment transactions.

Secure messaging app Telegram is building its own decentralized exchange and self-custodial wallet. Apple’s app store rules have led Coinbase to discontinue mobile NFT transfers. Crypto salary provider Rise* integrated with Coinbase Wallet.

Adam Neumann’s new company Flow will offer a digital wallet, built on Bond’s embedded product. India’s Razorpay will support credit card payments via UPI.

As cross-border transactions go up, UK fintech Wise is bucking the layoff trend and hiring for 1,000s of new roles, while Texan savings app Save plans to double headcount in 2023.

Big geo moves! Argentina’s Ualá will start providing personal loans in Mexico. PayPal is entering the EU through Luxembourg. Saudi fintech Tweeq received an e-money license. UK business banking platform Tide is rolling out in India.

Partnerships! Fintech software platform provider Sila partnered with Accubits, an AI and blockchain-focused software development and consulting company. Marqeta became the first processor to integrate with Mastercard’s Instant Pay Virtual Card solution. Lilly and Atomic partnered on US retirement savings.

Crypto bank Silvergate says its Blockfi exposure is limited to $20 million.

UK neobank Monzo expects to turn a profit in 2023. Appzone rebranded as Zone, a blockchain payments infrastructure company.

Asset managers are betting on tech platforms to take on Blackrock.

Hundreds of Chime users claim they were locked out of their accounts. Plaid cut 260 jobs - laying off 20% of its staff.