This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 16/12

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The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup brings you the latest job moves, partnerships, funding rounds and launches.

Job moves

Finitive, the data-driven private credit marketplace, has hired Dr Todd Stokes as its chief data officer. Dr Stokes will lead the formation of an analytics organisation to leverage third-party and proprietary data, machine learning and algorithms to advance and accelerate how investors lend to private credit borrowers on the Finitive platform.

Bernie MilesBernie Miles
PPRO hires Bernie Miles

PPRO, a provider of local payments infrastructure, has appointed Bernie Miles as CTO to drive the development of its cross-border payment technology. He oversees engineers based across Munich, Berlin, London, São Paulo and Singapore. Miles will scale up PPRO’s platform to support the company’s hyper-growth trajectory.

Meanwhile, SaaS fintech company Zaggle strengthens leadership team with two key hires. Vidyaniwas Khetawat joins as chief financial officer, while Raghav Hari Choudhary is named VP investor relations  & corporate development. They will both play a significant role in growth, strategy, and management.

Griffin names Chris Forlano as VP of product, as well as Laura Hauser as VP of marketing. The appointments support Griffin’s growth plans as including its banking application process and the build of its technology platform. Griffin is also currently seeking regulatory approval to become the UK’s first full-stack BaaS platform with its own bank licence.

Fintech SaaS provider Toqio has appointed Chris Weller as commercial director UK and Europe. The Toqio team has scaled from 17 to 71 in 2021. His appointment follows Alessandro Palma, who recently joined as chief financial officer.

Clim8, the climate impact investment app, has made a slew of appointments to drive rapid growth and product innovation. Leon Ho, chief product officer, joins from fintech Monese, while Peter Kasprowicz, is named chief technology officer. Andrew Cocker, chief marketing officer, also joins following six years at Expedia. Megan Olwen Williams joined as VP operations and chief of staff earlier this year.

More appointments

Maria Telles is promoted to the role of VP of human resources at Pushpay. The company provides a donor management system, including donor tools, finance tools, a community app, a church management system and video streaming solutions to the faith sector. Telles will help the company build a thriving workplace culture.

Meanwhile, NeoXam, a financial software company, has appointed Bruno Noyon as MD for EMEA West. He was most recently the managing director of IQ-EQ France. EMEA West encompasses several major financial centres in France, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain.

Global Digital Finance (GDF), the industry association for the crypto and digital assets sector, has appointed Emma Joyce as an executive director. She is GDF’s current global ecosystem director responsible for membership, communications, events, programmes and content. Joyce also serves as the secretariat to the member-led GDF Advisory Council and the Patron Board.

LHV UK will add Paul Horner to its board as an independent non-executive director from 4 January 2022. Horner will chair the risk committee and be a member of the audit and nominations committees of the full-service banking services provider. He joins as LHV UK also progresses with a UK banking licence application.

Finally,  First Internet Bank has added Justin P. Christian and Ann Colussi Dee to its board of directors. Christian is the co-founder, president and CEO of BCforward, a global IT consulting firm, while Dee has served at publicly-traded company Duke Realty for 26 years.

Mergers and acquisitions

Payments firm Flywire has acquired WPM, a software provider that enables seamless and secure payment experiences for universities and colleges across the UK. Flywire estimates payment volume in the UK education sector to be approximately $30billion.

Funding and investments

Esme Learning Solutions has announced a further $15million in new funding to support the edtech company’s rapid global expansion. The funding round follows Esme Learning Solutions’ acquisition of AI collaboration platform Riff Analytics earlier this year. The new investment will help Esme Learning Solutions expand its existing portfolio of courses with partners such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Fintech startup Uni has raised $70million in Series A round led by General Catalyst. The round also saw participation from Eight Roads Ventures, Elevation Capital, Arbor Ventures and existing investors Lightspeed and Accel. The funds will be utilised to scale-up the team, launch new products as well as invest further in tech.

Lender CPBF has delivered a $30million senior secured term loan to Esports Technologies. The gaming technology company has used the loan to acquire assets and certain operations of Aspire Global, an online casino and sportsbook firm, in a $75.9million transaction. With the acquisition, Esports Technologies gains access to gaming licensing in Tier 1 regulated markets including the UK, Germany, Ireland, Malta and Denmark.

Israeli startup Reposify raises $8.5million seed round. Investors include angel investor Lior Suchard, Joule Ventures and First Rays Venture Partners. Reposify has created an algorithm that automatically identifies and associates every internet-facing asset with the organisation that utilises it. It will use the funding to expand its R&D team as well as its activity in the US market.

Deep-tech investment boutique Othoz has closed a €10million Series A funding round. Othoz develops research solutions for the fast-growing online brokerage market making AI-based market insights available to retail investors. The fresh funding will be used to further develop the tech platform, expand the team as well as acquire additional partners.

Machine learning firm Othoz celebrates funding successMachine learning firm Othoz celebrates funding success
Machine learning firm Othoz celebrates funding success
Further funding news

Papaya, a mobile bill payment app, has raised a $50million Series B funding round. The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation also from Sequoia Capital, Acrew Capital, 01 Advisors, Mucker Capital, Fika Ventures, F-Prime and Sound Ventures. The new investment will  expand its team as well as forge new partnerships.

Mesh Payments, the corporate payment and spend management platform, has secured $50million in Series B funding led by Tiger Global. Other investors include Entrée Capital, Falcon Edge Capital and existing investors TLV Partners and Meron Capital. Mesh plans to use the funding to continue its accelerated growth, expand its US operations and introduce additional products.

IS INTEC Group, an IT services provider in Japan, has invested in Contour, the digital trade finance network. The investment follows TIS and its affiliates partnering with Contour in various Asian countries throughout 2021 to accelerate digitisation of trade finance in the region.

Partnerships

Insurer MetLife UK and tech-driven insurance company YuLife have forged a partnership which sees MetLife become an underwriter for YuLife’s Group Life cover policies. The partnership reflects the two companies’ aligned values and shared interest in improving the ongoing value of life insurance policies for customers.

Trip.com Group, a travel service provider, and Hopper partner to launch Price Freeze on Trip.com’s European and US sites. Trip.com Group is the first OTA to partner with Hopper Cloud, Hopper’s B2B initiative, in the North America and Europe markets.

Debt resolution technology Ophelos has announced its partnership with BNPL firm Butter to ethically support their customers should they find themselves in financial difficulty. According to data from Credit Karma, £4.1bn worth of BNPL debt was accumulated this year by UK shoppers.

There’s also a partnership for BrandShield, an online threat hunting company, and Coinmama, a cryptocurrency exchange platform. BrandShield has detected and removed more than 100 fraudulent sites for Coinmama.

APEXX Global, the global payments platform, has unveiled a long-term strategic partnership on buy now, pay later with payments firm Worldline. As part of the strategic partnership, Worldline will enable its global e-commerce merchants to access BNPL solutions in 40-plus markets globally via APEXX’s BNPL Connect platform. Worldline will initially launch with several leading BNPL providers offering extensive coverage and will continue expanding its offer throughout 2022.

Penfold, the digital pensions platform, has announced a partnership with Nest Insight, a public-benefit research and innovation hub. Their new auto-save pilot will use open banking technology in order to calculate affordable savings for self-employed customers. The outcome of the pilot will be analysed by Nest Insight and publicly shared next year.

Access Bank has partnered with Bettr, Africa’s first creator-centric fintech built around Gen Z’s needs and career aspirations. Alliance Banking said it is firmly committed to partnering with fintechs in various industries to think beyond the box, disrupt the norms an implement innovation.

Access Bank and Bettr Access Bank and Bettr
Access Bank and Bettr partner
Further partnerships

Meanwhile, NatWest Group and SurePay have partnered to introduce confirmation of payee for HM Revenue and Customs, using a direct access API. It lets HMRC dynamically check high volumes of outbound payee details to help prevent fraudulent and misdirected payments.

Funding Options has teamed up with Wise to offer SMEs greater choice on FX and international payments. This partnership will enable independent businesses to access international payments via the marketplace, and pay invoices in over 50 different currencies.

Loyalize, a white label payment and customer engagement platform, has partnered with Digital First Retail to revolutionise payment and loyalty options across its portfolio of leading UK retail brands. DFR will roll out the new Loyalize payment channel to the e-commerce platforms of Maplin, Office Outlet and PRAKTIKA.

Paysafe partners with OSG to enable cash payments for online billing. Paysafecash integration with OSG platform lets unbanked and underbanked Americans make online cash payments of government, utility and medical bills.

Amadeus, a travel technology firm, has partnered with pan-African digital payments company DPO Group. Amadeus’s airline customers will be able to accept local payments, including via mobile money and card payments, allowing international airlines to operate locally and African airlines to expand globally.

Payment orchestration provider BR-DGE has formed a strategic partnership with Moneyhub to accelerate the use of open banking payments. Merchants using BR-DGE can now offer customers open banking as a payment method.

Finally, Klarna has plumped for GoCardless to offer bank debit payments to its US customers. With this new partnership, users can initiate their payments earlier or pay everything at once. Additionally, it lets users give permission to pull funds automatically from their bank account when a payment is due.

Launches

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), Qatar’s digital bank, has announced the launch of a new remittance service, Visa Direct, in partnership with Visa. The first of-its-kind solution in Qatar will let QIB customers transfer funds to overseas Visa cards in near real-time.

Qatar QIB Launches Visa Direct Qatar QIB Launches Visa Direct
Qatar QIB launches Visa Direct

Noda Pay, an open banking payments platform, has launched. The platform is now available to businesses in the UK and is in beta within the EU. The fintech startup has projected annual revenue of $800,000 and also plans to enter North America and Singapore early next year. Noda Pay helps businesses bypass intermediaries in bank payment processes.

TBI Bank, an inclusive lender in the buy now, pay later segment, has entered the Greek banking market after approval by the Bank of Greece. TBI currently operates in Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Lithuania.

  • Claire works across print and online as Editor for The Fintech Times.

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