This Thursday’s The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup delivers a dose of international fintech updates. There’s crowdfunding success for Penfold and plans for new global digital bank Nirvana.
Funding and investments
Babel Finance, the crypto financial service provider, has completed a strategic Series A fundraising of $40million. The round was led by Zoo Capital, Sequoia Capital China, Dragonfly Capital, BAI Capital, Bertelsmann and Tiger Global Management. Plus, follow-on participation from existing investors.
Meanwhile, cybersecurity firm Panaseer has secured $26.5million in series B funding. The financing round was led by AllegisCyber Capital with additional participation from existing investors Evolution Equity Partners, Notion Capital, AlbionVC, Cisco Investments and Paladin Capital Group. With additional investor National Grid Partners joining in, Panaseer’s total funding to date is now $43million.
CloudWalk, the São Paulo-based payment technology network, has also raised $190million in Series B funding led by Coatue. Participation also from DST Global and existing investors FIS, The Hive Brazil and Valor Capital. It brings its total capital raised to $206million.
Global early-stage venture capital firm Antler has closed its first Nordic fund. It was oversubscribed, closing at $36million, including participation from Draper Esprit, Kistefos, Danish state fund Vækstfonden and the Norwegian state fund Investinor. Antler also recently announced that its investment strategy in Denmark would focus on backing green, sustainable companies.
Plunk, the AI-powered app for homeowners, has closed an oversubscribed $6.5million in seed funding led by Unlock Ventures. Additional investors included Sony Innovation Fund, Plug and Play Ventures, Vectr Fintech Partners and Second Century Ventures. Plunk plans to use the funding to release and iterate on its mobile app.
Finally, digital pension provider Penfold has secured more than £3million through its equity crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube. The company is planning to use the campaign funds to accelerate its growth. Since launch, Penfold has attracted more than 10,000 customers with assets growing 140 per cent in the past four months.
SmartStream Technologies has appointed Peter Dehaan as new business director for cash & liquidity management. Prior to working at SmartStream he was at Lloyds Bank managing treasury and liquidity services. His goal is to help financial institutions achieve improved operational efficiencies on a global basis.
Research and insight
The Bank of Israel has published a report examining the issue of central bank digital currencies. The Bank of Israel is undecided whether it intends to issue a digital shekel but has accelerated the research and preparation for the potential issuance of a digital shekel. The document outlines a draft model of a Bank of Israel digital currency.
MoneyGram International and Coinme have unveiled a partnership to enable the cash funding and payout of digital currencies. The partnership utilises MoneyGram’s API-driven payments platform and Coinme’s cryptocurrency exchange to bring Bitcoin to point-of-sale locations in the US. There are also plans to expand internationally later this year.
Live-in care agency Elder has teamed up with financial advice firm LGFA in order to tackle the lack of understanding around financial planning in later life. The pairing will plug LGFA’s advisory services into Elder’s care funding calculator to provide financial advice around lending, such as lifetime mortgages.
FSS (Financial Software and Systems) is partnering with fintech Zwipe. The hook-up will combine FSS’s Unified Issuance Platform and Zwipe Pay One biometric card capabilities, supported by Zwipe’s network of card manufacturing partners. FSS will also offer Zwipe Pay ONE biometric payment cards globally.
Meanwhile, banking-as-a-service platform Railsbank has collaborated with UK payments firm RationalFX. Railsbank will provide ledger and payment services that enable RationalFX’s customers to better control liquidity. The partnership will also see the pair collaborate on a regulatory framework.
Computer Services, a fintech and regtech firm, has partnered with financial data company Kharon. Kharon will provide CSI customers with tools to enhance their financial crime and trade control frameworks. CSI’s customers will have access to 50 additional datasets, with an emphasis on EU and other international data.
While, iDenfy, the identity verification company, has forged a partnership with Impily. iDenfy supplies partners with an ID verification system centered on AI facial recognition protocols linked with digital interfaces. Poland-based Impily offers a platform to buy, sell and store cryptocurrencies.
Announcements and updates
Eshraq Investments PJSC, the Abu Dhabi-based investment company, has reported an operating profit in the first quarter of 2021 in ‘a considerable turnaround compared with the first quarter of 2020’. It said the return to profit reflects its diversification strategy with investments in financial and technology assets.
Meanwhile, ABC Labs, Bank ABC’s innovation lab, has won the Global Finance World’s Best Financial Innovation Labs award for Bahrain, as part of the magazine’s Innovator Awards for 2021. The awards honour exceptional innovation labs, banks and fintech organisations from across the globe.
Hi55 Ventures has joined the Microsoft for Startups programme. Using Microsoft’s Azure platform, Hi55 will ‘be able to unlock global scale and enable continuous innovation’. Using the Hi55 platform, employees can access their salary free of charge in real-time.
Airwallex, the global payments platform, has secured an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) licence from the Dutch Central Bank. The licence gives Airwallex access to the European single market. This latest approval adds to Airwallex’s existing licences in its core markets, including the UK, United States, Australia, and Hong Kong.
Finally, online food delivery service Foodcraft has joined forces with digital e-commerce platform Noon.com to further delivery reach in time for Eid. Noon.com is a joint venture between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Mohamed Alabbar.
Cryptocurrency exchange Quidax has unveiled plans to expand beyond Africa to the global market. At the same time, it also announced the launch of its native token QDX. Additional plans include a reposition as the global home of BEP20 tokens. It will also launch seven products over the next six months with a blend of CeFi and DeFi.
Financial app Multiply AI has removed its monthly subscription fee for Unity Mutal Lifetime ISA customers while also launching a customer referral bonus scheme for easy access account holders. Customers opening the LISA through Multiply get a £20 bonus which increases to £25 when a 25 per cent government bonus is added.
CashtoCode, the instant cash payment service for online merchants, has expanded into Ireland via its partnership with Payzone. The CashtoCode service is now available for customers to use at 3,500 retail locations in Ireland. It already operates in UK, Germany, Austria and Italy.
Paystack, a fintech company that powers growth and payments for businesses in Africa, has launched in South Africa following a six-month pilot. The launch marks Paystack’s expansion into its third market, following Nigeria and Ghana. Paystack was acquired last year by US fintech leader Stripe.
Meanwhile, former PayPal CEO Bill Harris has moved to Miami to launch Nirvana Technology (Nirvana), a global digital bank. Nirvana is now looking to hire high-tech talent across engineering, product, marketing, and operations to fuel hyper-growth. It aims to employ 50 people by yearend and 200 by the following year.