This Week in Fintech (6/19)

This Week in Fintech (6/19)

Hello Fintech Friends,

I don’t know where to begin with this story.

A 20-year old Robinhood investor committed suicide last week after his account showed a negative $730,000 balance (due to a user interface choice to show temporary balances before options settle). I have been pushing a financial health and education agenda for a while. This tragic case highlights the need for both -- and the extreme downside of letting users play with financial products they don’t fully understand.

People do not read disclosures. The disclosure regime we have today is not enough to protect day traders who want to buy Hertz stock while the company is in bankruptcy. A platform’s UI can help people make informed decisions -- or it can drive dopamine hits from taking out high-rate loans or investing in risky assets.

Hopefully this sad case is a wakeup call to fintech designers that their users should only win when they make thoughtful, informed financial decisions.

Another week of fintech and banking news below.

Quote of the week

“The big concern was, ‘How do we directly help families and individuals?’” And then it hit him: “Why not start our own currency?”

Open role spotlight

Propel is looking to hire two strategy roles: one with an external lens (the Financial Partnerships Manager) and one with an internal focus (the Strategy & Biz Ops Manager).

Read(s) of the week

In The Atlantic, Frank Partnoy makes the case that, due to taking on previously unimaginable levels of corporate debt, American banks (and the government as buyer-of-last-resort) could be on the verge of collapse. In Notes on the Crises, Nathan Tankus counters that collateralized loan obligations are not systemic and, as such, no collapse is imminent.


Banking and Credit Cards

Larger banks say they’re winning back customers from fintechs who are looking for a safe haven in the pandemic. Payday lenders, meanwhile, are specifically targeting consumers hurt by coronavirus, and a staggering 30% of Americans missed their housing payment in June.

The UK Supreme Court ruled against attempts by Visa and Mastercard to raise interchange fees. Mastercard is also partnering with Minneapolis challenger bank Branch to offer a mobile wallet and Visa is rolling out sustainable, recycled plastic cards.

Citizens Bank launched Save & Grow, a high yield savings and investing account. HSBC released a report claiming roboadvisors will have to consolidate to be profitable (and that they must manage at least $11.3 billion to break even). Vanguard, meanwhile, launched its own roboadvisor.

Canada’s DCBank launched ‘reverse ATMs,’ kiosks to deposit cash and coins and receive a pre-paid Mastercard. Italian bank Unicredit is partnering with US fintech Taulia to let supply chain businesses self-finance. BBVA has reopened its entire Spanish branch network and Santander will hire 3,000 developers this year.

Citibank and Deutsche Bank have open-sourced parts of their banking technology to the Fintech Open Source Foundation, which looks to make code open-source throughout the financial services industry. Non-profit Fintech Wales laid out a 10-year roadmap. And the World Bank and World Economic Forum launched a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on fintech.

Standard Bank, Africa’s largest consumer bank, saw a 27% decline in first quarter net income. In Australia, cash and checks are on the verge of collapse.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore is reviewing 14 applicants for 5 neobank licenses and OCBC Bank plans to hire 3,000 new employees.

And Forbes releases its list of the World’s Best Banks.


Fintech

There is too much news this week.

Product Launches

WhatsApp launched its payment platform in its first target market: Brazil. This is a big step forward for Facebook, which has not been shy about having its eye on controlling payments.

Following last week’s partnership with Flutterwave, Uber Cash launched in South Africa.

Thought Machine, a banking core provider, launched Nestlums, a character-driven money management app for young children. Earlybird launched a platform for parents to invest in their childrens’ futures. Miso launched real-time net worth tracking.

Russian neobank Tinkoff launched a micro-investing service to let users round up debit card transactions into ETFs. Revolut launched its open banking account aggregation feature in Ireland (while increasing its fees and fighting with customers over crypto custody) and Italian neobank illimity announced an open banking tool with a scooter-sharing and fitness app. Worldpay launched open banking payments, to let users pay merchants directly from their bank accounts, circumventing cards.

Plaid and Microsoft’s ‘Money in Excel’ partnership to show personal finances in Excel went live this week.

I’m late to the game, but just noticed that Quickbooks launched cash flow forecasting in March.

Other News

Tiktok owner Bytedance is looking for a Singapore banking license. Indonesia’s Ovo and Dana are combining to fight fintech super-app Gojek.

The EU is following Germany, opening antitrust investigations into Apple Pay for not opening up NFC payments to bank apps.

Details on Sofi’s cash back program. Current exceeds 1 million accounts. Klarna revenues surge in coronavirus. Uber adds a PPP loan portal for drivers; Square Capital has given the loans to 76,000 businesses. US casinos will go cashless.

Buy-now-pay-later lender Splitit has signed a distribution deal with Mastercard to take its product global. Kazakh banking app Kaspi is expanding into central Asia, beginning with Azerbaijan.

Curve is testing its planned Klarna competitor, Curve Credit. Paytm is bringing its consumer credit service to offline retailers.

UK neobank Starling will add Slack and other services to its marketplace. Icelandic neobank indó partnered with Finland’s Enfuce for mobile payments.

Google plans to combine Google Pay and its commerce portal, adding merchant buttons.

Nigerian startup Opay’s plans for a super-app have stalled, but its payments business is still growing quickly. Paga, meanwhile, has seen 330% quarter-over-quarter growth in mobile wallet sign-ups. And Togo is plugging wealth gaps with digital cash transfers through fintechs!

Embattled core banking fintech SynapseFi will move its employees to Texas after laying off 50% of its full-time staff.

Nobody is quite sure what is happening at German payment processor Wirecard, but after failing their audit multiple times, but it appears €1.9 billion is missing and a trustee of the company has attempted to deceive its auditor. Shares of the company fell over 60% in trading.

For a look at every early-stage fintech company currently in the market, this is a great thread:


Financings

21 is this week’s magic number.

  • Pagaya, a New York and Tel Aviv-headquartered AI-driven asset management firm, raised a $102 million Series D to hire more data scientists and develop its technology.
  • Upgrade, the credit card installment lender founded by ex-Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche, raised a $40 million Series D and announced the company is cash-flow positive on a $100 million monthly run rate.
  • UK neobank Monzo raised £60 million in new funding at a 40% discount to its previous valuation - from £2 billion to £1.25 billion,
  • Brightside, a financial wellness platform for employees, raised a $35 million Series A.
  • Botkeeper, an artificial intelligence-powered automated bookkeeping solutions platform, raised $25 million in Series B funding.
  • Philippino neobank Tonik Financial raised $21 million in Series A funding to launch its southeast Asian multinational digital bank.
  • MayStreet, a market data and analytics platform for investors, raised a $21 million Series A.
  • Remessa Online, the Brazilian remittances fintech, secured $21 million in new funding.
  • Chipper Cash, the quickly-growing African cross-border payments startup based in San Francisco, raised $13.8 million in Series A funding to hire new staff globally.
  • Brazilian working capital online lender BizCapital raised $12 million in new funding.
  • Origin raised $12 million in new funding to become the new go-to destination for employees to plan their financial lives.
  • Fincy raised $11 million to build a multi-currency money app and digital wallet in Cambodia for cross-border transactions.
  • UK money transfer platform TransferGo raised $10 million in new funding and disclosed that it has passed 2 million customers.
  • UNest, a parental financial planning and savings tool for their children, raised $9 million to speed up its growth.
  • Apexx Global secured an $8 million Series A to combine merchant acquirers, payment gateways, and shopping carts into a single API.
  • ZayZoon, which works with companies to help them improve their employees’ financial health, raised $3.5 million in a private placement.
  • Danish fintech Likvido raised a €2.5 million round to help small businesses manage their cashflow.
  • Dovly, a consumer credit improvement company, raised a $2 million seed round to build its credit score increase algorithm.
  • Muniy, a UK neobank, is looking to raise up to £200,000 in a crowdfunding campaign.
  • US neobank Current passed its 1 million member mark and raised additional funding from Foundation Capital.
  • Cash-flow smoothing lender Even raised a new undisclosed round of funding from Paypal Ventures and Marc Benioff.

Exits and M&A

  • India’s Yes Bank, which recently had to be rescued by the Reserve Bank of India, announced that it will IPO in a $1 billion share sale.
  • Metro Bank in the UK is in talks to acquire the peer-to-peer lending platform Ratesetter. The bank’s shares have fallen by more than 90% since the beginning of the year, and the fintech platform recently increased its loan loss projections from £27.5m to £39.2m.
  • American credit platform Credit Sesame acquired Canadian neobank Stack to enter the market.
  • UK supply chain finance company Greensill has acquired Colombian small business lender Omni.
  • Square moved into the Spanish peer-to-peer payments market, with an acquisition of fintech Verse, which will help it take on digital wallets like France’s Lydia.
  • Brazilian investor XP has acquired investment tracking fintech Fliper, a wealth management startup.
  • Foreign exchange platform Travelex has pulled its offer of sale after prospective buyers could not meet terms set by its bankers.
  • The London Stock Exchange will not offer concessions to antitrust regulators probing its acquisition of data company Refinitiv.
  • Product studio Pistole Labs is acquiring retirement planner Retire.
  • Bridgepoint will buy distressed lender and buyout group EQT Partners’ €3.9bn credit arm.
  • Finastra will sell its Enhancement Services business to Canadian affinity network Sigma Loyalty Group.

Deeper Reads

FinTech can’t tackle financial services without tackling its diversity problem

Goldman Goes Main Street With Push Into Corporate Bank Accounts

Weekend Currency Trading Beckons in Age of Nonstop News

African Fintech Eversend Embraces Their Mission Of Financial Inclusion Through Crowdfunding

A guide to payment methods

FT Partners: Lemonade IPO

Inside Ellevest

Wall Street Fixates on a College Side Project Tracking Robinhood

The Stocks-Only-Go-Up Strategy Falls Into a $2 Trillion Ditch

Robinhood traders are not behind the rally and their favorites actually underperform

Global data shows payments preferences changing because of COVID-19

How new data providers can foster innovation in fintech

These are the top fintech companies and startups in 2020

CB Insights’ 50 Future Unicorns

Former NASA Engineer Devises an Epic Obstacle Course to Challenge His Backyard Squirrels