This Week in Fintech: TFT Bi-Weekly News Roundup 23/11

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The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup sees embedded finance provider Weavr partner with finway to issue physical and virtual cards for SMEs. While Borderless Capital has closed PLANETS.Fund, a $10million fund focused on building a green data economy. 

Investment and funding

Pace, a Singapore-based fintech solution company, has raised $40million in its Series A investment round. Investors that joined the round include UOB Venture Management, Marubeni Ventures and Atinum Partners, AppWorks. Previous investors Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia, Alpha JWC and Genesis Alternative Ventures also participated.

Synchtank, a B2B SaaS company, has completed a $5.8million Series A fundraise. The round was led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from existing management and shareholders. This latest investment round follows a total of $750,000 seed funding from management, shareholders, and Juno Capital Partners in 2020.

Borderless Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to the Algorand ecosystem, has announced the closing of PLANETS.Fund, a $10million fund focused on building a green data economy. The fund will invest in the ecosystem surrounding PlanetWatch, the world’s first decentralised indoor and outdoor air quality monitoring network built on the Algorand blockchain. The Fund will also hold a long term position in PLANETS tokens and equity.

Bound, a currency hedging platform, has secured $6.5million from high-profile VCs and tech entrepreneurs behind firms including Klarna, Stash, MX and Qonto. Institutional investors in the company’s seed round include Valar Ventures, Moonfire and Album VC. Bound is also currently hiring for a number of positions, including engineer, finance and customer acquisition.

Sedric, an AI-based compliance platform for next-gen fintechs, has raised $3.5million in seed funding. Led by StageOne Ventures, Sedric will use the funding to support its global expansion and onboard its growing base of new fintech customers. Sedric’s customers include fintechs in Europe and North America providing trading, investing and lending services.

SerdricSerdric
The Sedric team celebrates raising $3.5million
Further investments

Net AI, a startup using AI to provide insights to 5G network providers, has raised £750,000 in pre-seed funding. The round was led by Techstart Ventures with Nauta Capital, Founders Factory, Old College Capital and Edinburgh Technology Fund also participating. A spin-out from The University of Edinburgh, Net AI will use the funding to expand its team, accelerate product development and protect company IP.

Rey Assurance announces funding extension and partnerships with Xendit, AXA Life and Health Reinsurance Solutions for its cashless claims. Rey integrates cashless claims payment technology into its proprietary health and wellness ecosystem.

Digital payments company Pomelo Pay has raised $10million in a Series A round led by UK-based Inference Partners. This investment will help Pomelo Pay expand its presence across global markets including Europe and Asia, and double its workforce in London, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency platform Gemini has secured a $400million growth equity round. Led by Morgan Creek Digital with participation from 10T, ParaFi, Newflow Partners, Marcy Venture Partners and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. This round values the company at $7.1billion.

Airwallex, the global fintech platform, has raised an additional $100million in a Series E1 financing round. The new funding raises Airwallex’s valuation to $5.5billion and comes a month after Airwallex announced an oversubscribed Series E round. This latest round also takes Airwallex’s total Series E fundraising to $300million, with $802million raised in total.

Mergers, acquisitions and rebrands

KeyBank National Association has acquired digital platform XUP Payments. Key previously invested in XUP. Earlier this year, Key acquired AQN Strategies, while in 2019 it snapped up Laurel Road’s digital student loan refinance platform. Key has also formed strategic partnerships with AvidXchange, BillTrust and Bill.com to provide fintech solutions.

GBG has agreed to acquire Acuant – bringing together two leaders in the global digital identity market with a combined revenue of £265million. A long-time partner, Acuant has a product suite that is a ‘natural complement’ to GBG’s existing US-based services from IDology. The $736million deal is expected to be completed by end November 2021.

Allica Bank, the fintech challenger bank, has agreed to acquire 2,000 SME customers and £0.6billion of associated lending from AIB Group (UK) Plc following AIB’s exit from the SME market. Post completion of the transaction, Allica Bank is expected to have a combined total lending book of more than £1billion.

Vantage FX, the global multi-asset broker, has rebranded as Vantage. The move is designed to emphasise the breadth of Vantage’s platform, including CFDs on forex, indices, shares, commodities and cryptocurrencies. The rebrand is a key component of Vantage’s ongoing global expansion strategy, which also includes improvements to its app.

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm Zip Co Limited has completed the acquisition of Central European BNPL provider Twisto Payments. Twisto’s European Payment Institution Licence enables Zip to offer payments services across all 27 EU member states. Zip first invested in Twisto in December 2020.

Meanwhile, Sift is acquiring Keyless, a passwordless biometric-based authentication company. Sift will offer Keyless products to regulated businesses and online merchants around the world. Sift has also announced an additional $25million to its latest series E funding that raised its valuation to $1.7billion.

Job moves

Encompass Corporation appoints Dr. Henry Balani to head global affairs following major US expansion. Balani is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with regulators, initiating research into key market issues, informing product strategy as well as representing the company on a global scale.

Alex ScrivenAlex Scriven
Adatree appoints its first COO – Alex Scriven

Fintech Adatree has named Alex Scriven as the company’s first chief operating officer.  He joins from Equifax, where he was head of open data products and strategy. The Australian company is ‘confident’ that Alex will help further propel Adatree in open banking and drive data access.

Meanwhile, EquityBee has unveiled Kevin Smith as chief legal officer. He will focus on product development and rollout while building a global legal and compliance team. Smith’s new role follows the news that EquityBee has raised $55million in new Series B funding.

Laurie Schultz has joined Riskalyze as its board chair. Schultz also recently became Canada’s first female CEO to lead a technology company to unicorn status as the CEO of Galvanize. In addition to her new role at Riskalyze, she will also continue to serve on the boards of Boast.AI, UserZoom and First United / Forward.

Charlie Craven is appointed chief product officer at fintech Hi. He is now responsible for leading strategy for Hi’s products across mobile, web and card technology. Craven previously worked at Ecospend, as well as Amex where he spearheaded the launch of products for its network including Applepay/Google Pay, Contactless in Transit and Safekey.

Finally, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank’s (ADIB) has revealed Nasser Abdulla Al Awadhi as its new group CEO from 9 January 2022.  He joins ADIB from Dubai Islamic Bank where he served as the group chief of consumer banking.  He will lead ADIB through its next stage of expansion under a 2025 growth strategy.

Partnerships and collaborations

Telos has announced a partnership with exchange SushiSwap and crypto bridge Anyswap, enabling users on both platforms to take advantage of Telos EVM’s speed, scalability and security against front running whilst trading crypto assets.

Tink and ecolytiq drive green banking solutions through new partnership. ecolytiq has joined forces with Tink as a technology partner to provide its sustainability-as-a-service expertise. The partnership will begin in the DACH region with plans to expand to larger markets in Europe in the future.

TelcoSwitch enhances omnichannel offering with integration into UK e-commerce platform EKM. Its integration with EKM opens up company’s contact centre platform 3Sixty to more than 80,000 UK businesses. Customers of EKM can now view purchases, order statuses, delivery updates, refunds and more, on a single screen within the TelcoSwitch customer experience platform.

Austrian fintech unicorn Bitpanda and French mobile financial services superapp Lydia have teamed up.
Lydia leverages Bitpanda’s digital finance infrastructure to enable its 5.5 million users to invest in digital assets, 24/7. Lydia’s users will also have the freedom and flexibility to invest in commission-fee fractional stocks, cryptocurrencies, or precious metals from €1.

Embedded finance provider Weavr has teamed up with German-based finway to issue physical and virtual cards for SMEs. The finway software provides a holistic solution for SMEs to process, pay, plan and control all spending within a company.

finway

finway

Further partnerships

Talenthouse has joined forces with Vodeno, a cloud-native, banking-as-a-service provider, and Aion Bank to launch embedded banking services for the creative community. Talenthouse’s new banking service, ElloU, will be rolled out to European creatives this month. Talenthouse is also looking to take the ElloU service to the US, UK and other creative hubs.

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Codat expands to ANZ

Squaretalk has entered into a partnership with Lithuanian fintech CoinGate to begin taking cryptocurrencies. Squaretalk’s customers can now make instant payments with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, XRP and other popular cryptocurrencies. The Israeli and European software company aims to simplify and enhance how businesses communicate with their customers.

LOQBOX has partnered with Kroo in a bid to give UK customers more options to become financially included, for free. LOQBOX is designed to help consumers improve their credit score while they save money or spend money. Kroo, which recently raised £17.7million in its Series A funding round, is building a new UK bank.

Finally, Codat, the API enabling SMEs to share and synchronise financial data, has entered the Australian market. Codat will kick off its expansion with a strategic alliance with Judo Bank to simplify the way Austra­­­­lian SME businesses share vital information with financial service providers. The Judo Bank alliance will enable Judo SME customers to digitally share ac­­­­­­cess to their financial statements with Judo in just a few clicks.

Company updates

authID.ai is to be granted US patent for biometric identity authentication routing technology. “This patent grant validates the innovation behind authID’s proprietary solutions and is further proof of our commitment to optimising the identity verification process and addressing the inherent problems of legacy authentication options,” said Tom Thimot, CEO of authID.ai.

Israel venture firm OurCrowd has announced its approval and licensing by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), making it the first-ever Israeli venture capital firm to obtain licensed status with ADGM. OurCrowd Arabia will operate as a fund manager regulated by the ADGM’s financial services regulatory authority.

Mintable, the NFT marketplace and minting platform, has unveiled a series of updates. It has catalogued every single NFT minted on the Ethereum blockchain in its journey to simplify the buying and collecting process. Mintable has also introduced additional analytics features, enhanced search functions and a proprietary AI-driven Rarity Metre to help buyers appraise the investment value of an NFT.

SIX’s Digital Exchange has issued the world’s first tokenised bond in a fully regulated environment using distributed ledger technology. The bond, managed by Credit Suisse, UBS and Zürcher Kantonalbank, was issued in two parts. Part A of the bond is listed and traded on SDX Trading Ltd and centrally held by SIX Digital Exchange Ltd. Part B of the bond is listed and traded on SIX Swiss Exchange Ltd.

Launches

Australian split payment service humm has launched its first alternative credit offering in the UK. Customers can borrow between £1 to £3,000 across 12 months – at zero interest. The ASX-listed company has launched two offerings: ‘pay in 5’ for purchases between £1 and £500, and ‘Pay in 12’, for purchases between £500 and £3,000.

Yapily has launched in Spain. The Spanish launch follows Yapily raising $51million in its Series-B fundraising round and will see the appointment of an experienced local team. The investment round was led by Sapphire Ventures with existing investors Lakestar, HV Capital and LocalGlobe also taking part. Angel Salamanca is Yapily’s country lead in Spain.

Meanwhile, tech subscription brand Raylo has unveiled a circular buy now, pay later platform – Raylo Pay – to third party retailers. Several large retail corporations have already partnered to go live in the new year. The platform can either stand alone or sit alongside a merchant’s existing BNPL options.

Alternative data specialist QuantCube Technology has unveiled the availability of the QuantCube real-time GDP Canada Nowcast. The latest GDP indicator is part of a series of expansions to its GDP Nowcasts for the main global economies: the US, China, the UK, Japan, and the Eurozone, including France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Clearpay has introduced cross border trading for its 6,000-plus UK merchant partners to US shoppers. Known as Afterpay outside the UK, the company first introduced cross-border shopping in Australia and New Zealand in March 2019, followed by the UK in mid 2020.

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

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