The biggest news in global fintech this week was word that the much-anticipated Ant Group IPO, an initial public offering expected to raise $34.5 billion, had been suspended on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges. Why? According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, Chinese President Xi Jinping himself ordered a halt to the IPO in response to criticisms about Chinese government regulators from Ant Group founder Jack Ma.
Slated to be the biggest initial public offering in history, the Ant Group offering is currently suspended indefinitely by Chinese authorities, who cited “changes in the financial technology regulatory environment” as reasons why the financial tech giant’s online lending business “would face tighter government scrutiny.”
As the Wall Street Journal tells it, the sharp rebuke from Chinese authorities is the result of long-simmering concerns about the growing strength of Ant Group, whose financial division Alipay is used by approximately 70% of the Chinese population. Ma’s comments, which came in a speech delivered in late October, sought to elevate the role of innovation rather than personality in solving the country’s financial problems. However his remarks about the way financial regulations are impeding technological development apparently infuriated Chinese officials, who moved quickly to check the country’s richest and most well-known businessman.
Other Chinese fintechs and financial services companies would be well-advised to take note. Following up on the smack-down of Ant Group, the Vice Chair of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) Liang Tao warned “we need to pay close attention to the risks from internet security, data protection, and market monopoly.” Pardon the editorial interjection, but I am quite ready to forgive anyone for feeling as if one of those issues – certainly given the Ant Group news this week – seems a bit out of place among the other two.
Here is our look at fintech around the world.
Middle East and Northern Africa
- Turkey’s Isbank completes second pilot cross border trade transaction using distributed ledger technology.
- Ripple names Dubai as the location of its regional headquarters.
- Lebanon’s central bank announces plans to debut a national digital currency next year.
Central and Southern Asia
- Digital-only YeLo Bank wins the Indian Finals of the AWS Startup Architecture Challenge of the Year 2020.
- Crowdfund Insider looks at how the Indian state of Gujarat is supporting the growth of local fintechs.
- Transfin founder and CEO Nikhil Arora talks with Madhusudanan R, co-founder of fintech API platform YAP on the evolution of fintech in India.
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Microsoft partners with Uruguay-based dLocal to boost access to emerging markets.
- Argentine online B2C travel agency Despegar to leverage its acquisition of Brazilian buy now pay later firm Koin to offer installment financing to travelers.
- Brazilian fintech Nubank pledges to support financial education for black Brazilians in the wake of controversial comments by co-founder Cristina Junqueira in a recent television interview.
- Indonesian e-money institution LinkAja secures $100 million Series B led by Grab.
- Nikkei Asia profiles Siam Commercial Bank subsidiary SCB Abacus, which leveraged AI to delivery the country’s first fully digital lending platform using alternative data.
- A look at how fintech can enable communities in the Philippines to “navigate the new normal.”
- Kuda, a digital bank based in Nigeria, secures $10 million in seed funding.
- South African’s FinChatBot locks in $1.6 million in funding to fuel expansion to Europe and West Africa.
- Nigeria’s Paystack announces pilot phase of its payment solution in South Africa.
Central and Eastern Europe
- Elbrus Capital and Winter Capital announce investment in Russian financial marketplace, Banki.ru.
- Enterprise connectivity platform Yapily to expand to Germany.
- German fintech auxmoney secures investment from French bank BNP Paribas. The amount of the funding was not disclosed.