Hello Fintech Friends,
Starting this week, I’m breaking out the product launches in the fintech section to create more clarity in the wall of words.
I’d also like to start featuring new companies of the week, every week. This section would feature fintech startups that are pre-funding, waitlist-only, or still getting early traction. The big companies make the news, but the small ones need the visibility. If you know any interesting concepts, please send them my way.
And enjoy another week of fintech and banking news below.
Quote of the week
“The much lower interest rate means that the most effective way of making money is now to gamble on the game’s internal “stalk” market — a bourse in which the only commodity is turnips, sold to investors during a single session on Sundays. The root vegetables rot and their value drops to zero after a week.”
- Leo Lewis and Robin Wigglesworth, Financial Times (source)
Open role spotlight
Nova Credit, which enables immigrants to share their credit history from their home country with financial service providers, is hiring a Head of Product and Head of Finance. Reach out to Nicky Goulimis for details.
Read of the week
In Magic and Fintech – a thought experiment, Plastiq GM Rohit Sharma imagines three types of services - Fiona, Albert, and Thor - that work together to put consumers’ financial lives on complete autopilot. Fiona automates financial management. Albert continuously underwrites and improves a consumers’ financial access based on behavior. And Thor tokenizes all stores of value to optimize transactions for the user’s financial goals.
Banking and Credit Cards
A whistleblower is accusing the new leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of manipulating research in order to gut pending regulations on payday lending practices. While financial regulatory developments are normally more cut-and-dry, these allegations would give weight to the long-time claims that the administration’s appointees to the bureau are rolling back key consumer financial protections - at a time when vulnerable consumers need them most.
Visa and Safaricom have reached a deal, the first like it, that will connect the telecommunications company’s M-Pesa financial services with Visa’s global merchant network.
Charles Schwab announced that it will launch its long-awaited fractional stock trading in June.
Banking core provider Jack Henry announced that it has onboarded 100 financial institutions to use its faster payments hub that connects to Zelle and The Clearing House's Real Time Payments network.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is requiring exchanges to give stockbrokers and investors real-time say into how data are distributed, following claims of favoritism for high-paying clients.
Mastercard and IBM are joining forces to build a digital identity trust consortium.
Japanese regulators are creating more incentives for bank-fintech partnerships.
A group of consumer groups in the US has formed a coalition to advocate for the right to pay with cash at all merchants, as contactless and digital payments gain traction during the pandemic.
The OCC equity derivatives clearing organization has partnered with Axoni to use distributed ledger technology to build its securities lending infrastructure. The ECB is pushing on SWIFT to speed up its ISO 20022 migration.
And an Italian town has created its own currency, the Ducati, to deal with coronavirus.
Google has joined the Gates Foundation’s Mojaloop initiative. Mojaloop focuses on building open source, interoperable payment platforms that connect financial institutions, fintechs, and customers in emerging markets with thin financial grids.
Stilt launched its bank account and card for immigrants.
The Financial Clinic, with JP Morgan Chase, launched a financial coaching Marketplace on Change Machine.
Grand Reserve launched the waitlist for their wine enthusiast rewards card (referral link).
Revolut is also looking to use its recent $500 million to buy up distressed rivals. Revolut launch news always piques my curiosity given the struggles they’ve had with their current markets. This week the Financial Times ran a profile on the company’s need to “grow up.” Their digital bank (along with N26 and Monzo’s) is running into headwinds in the US. They’ve faced employee issues, culture issues, compliance issues, public resignations… It remains to be seen if their strategy of “grow the number of users faster than the number of problems” pays off or catches up to them.
New data, meanwhile, show that Chime owns 60% of the neobank market share in the US (as measured by monthly active users) and neobank downloads have dropped 23% during the pandemic. Digital wallets in Argentina, however, have grown 800% to 7 million users.
Facebook’s Libra Association named ex-HSBC Chief Legal Officer and Treasury Department official Stuart Levey as its first CEO.
Paypal had its largest transaction day in history on May 1st, but first quarter financials fell short of expectations. OnDeck’s future is in doubt as it misses first quarter earnings, throttles customer acquisition, and prepares for increased losses. RateSetter, the biggest peer to peer lender in the UK, has slashed rates by 50% to investors in anticipation of a wave of defaults.
UK immigrant neobank Monese is downsizing its team and evaluating a lower fundraising goal as it deals with coronavirus fallout, while Credit Karma is cutting salaries ahead of its Intuit acquisition.
Bloomberg Tradebook was fined $5 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraudulent trade routing on its platform.
FIS will be providing the core architecture for neobank Bambu.
- Robinhood added to its war chest with a $280 million Series F at an $8.3 billion valuation. Dan Gallagher, who is a former SEC Commissioner, will join the company as Chief Legal Officer.
- Multinational neobank N26 added another $100 million to its Series D at a flat valuation, bringing the total size of the round to $570 million.
- Corcentric raised $80 million in new funding to build its business spend management software.
- Symend, a Canadian fintech that helps financial institutions identify customers struggling to pay bills, raised a $52 million Series B.
- Zeitgold, a Berlin-based business accounting automation platform, raised a $29.2 million Series B to automate even more tasks.
- Flagstone, a UK-based cash deposit marketplace for consumers to increase their interest income, raised a $15 million round.
- Treasury Prime, an API platform that provides functionality to help fintechs and banks convert manual tasks into automated processes, closed a $9 million Series A.
- LuxHub, a Luxembourg based open banking startup co-founded by Banque Raiffeisen, BGL BNP Paribas, Post Luxembourg, and Spuerkeess, raised $7.4 million.
- Alpian, a Swiss fintech startup that offers tailored investment products and digital financial advisor relationships, raised a CHF12.2 million Series A.
- Stilt, which provides accounts, credit, and financial services for immigrants with no social security numbers, raised a $7.5 million seed and launched on Product Hunt.
- Countingup, an automated business checking account, raised £4 million in bridge financing.
- The UK open banking fintech Banked, which enables account-to-account direct payments at checkout and other transactions, raised a £2.35 million seed and moved out of beta testing to challenge the major card networks.
- AskRobin, an Estonian fintech that provides a financial services product marketplace for underbanked consumers in Latin America, raised $1.7 million in new funding.
- Visa and Indonesia’s Bank BRI made an undisclosed investment in money transfer startup Nium.
Exits and M&A
- Investment management software provider SS&C agreed to buy wealth management platform Innovest Systems for $120 million in cash and stock.
- Italian investment bank Mediobanca dropped its plans from a 2018 agreement to acquire a 20% stake in Indonesian consumer lending company BFI Finance.
- Tencent, the Chinese technology conglomerate and venture capital fund, bought a 5% stake in Australian buy-now-pay-later installment lender Afterpay for A$390 million. Afterpay has until now focused on English-speaking markets. Tencent could help it enter Asian markets, as well as diversify further from its initial focus on fashion and retail and improve its digital wallet checkout experience and shopping platform.
- IHS Markit, a London-based market data provider, acquired Catena, a Singaporean regulatory trade reporting firm.
- Singaporean financial comparison site GoBear will move into consumer lending via its acquisition of Phillippino loan processing platform AsiaKredit.
- Global financial services conglomerate Franklin Templeton acquired digital wealth management platform AdvisorEngine