The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup takes a look at the latest international fintech stories. Libeo secures a €20million Series A raise, while the Central Bank of Nigeria stands firm on cryptocurrencies.
Codebase Technologies and PaymentComponents have joined forces to further drive the open banking initiative in the Middle East and North Africa. The strategic alliance will deliver current and existing Digibanc customers with a wider range of open banking and payments APIs, such as the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and SWIFT connectivity services.
Mauritius Commercial Bank taps Windward’s AI solution to optimise trade finance and compliance processes. MCB will integrate Windward’s predictive intelligence to increase efficiency across its trading practices after forging a long-term, multi-year partnership.
While, learning platform Unicaf has entered into a two- year partnership with Mastercard to offer its premium cardholders 75 per cent scholarships. Mastercard Gold, Platinum, World and World Elite cardholders across 12 countries in Africa will be able to select degree programmess offered by Unicaf’s partners.
Meanwhile, First Abu Dhabi Bank has signed a five-year strategic partnership deal with Mastercard. Together, their mission is to simplify business-to-business (B2B) payments for companies in the UAE, while making them more secure. Mastercard’s commercial cards and payment platforms will be on offer to FAB customers.
Johannesburg Stock Exchange has led a $9million Series A extension in private share and debt trading platform Globacap. The JSE and Globacap have also entered into a commercial agreement to launch two private placement platforms in Africa later this year. The first is to digitise investment into infrastructure projects, a $100billion market, and the second for investment into SMEs.
Exberry and Digital Asset team up with Baymarkets to add clearing to their end-to-end digital asset exchange platform. The updated end-to-end exchange architecture now features Clara, the multi-asset clearing system from Baymarkets. In addition to clearing, the group is exploring other critical components, such as cash payments, regulatory reporting and tax reporting.
Mastercard and CleverCards have signed a strategic partnership to expand the usage of digital cards across Europe. CleverCards also joins Mastercard’s Fintech Express programme, which gives startups and emerging brands support and assistance for their growth and transformation.
Pelican has supported SWIFT with its new service for low value cross-border payments. Expected to launch in March 2021, the service aims to provide fast, easy, predictable, and frictionless cross-border payments for consumers and SMEs. Pelican is enabling SWIFT low value payments through SWIFT gpi using AI and natural language processing techniques.
TreasurySpring and Global Reach have entered into a partnership to deliver access to each other’s services for their clients. The partnership will be available to all TreasurySpring and Global Reach clients, including multinational corporations, SMEs, fund managers, charities and family offices.
Money transfer firm TransferGo has hooked up with Thought Machine to accelerate product innovation and drive global market expansion. It will use Thought Machine’s Vault to introduce more enhanced services and drive impactful experiences for our migrant worker community.
While, Kofax, a supplier of software for digital workflow transformation, has integrated with Coupa Software to help enterprises deepen operational efficiencies as they digitally transform their spend management processes. They say finance and accounting teams can now transform invoice processing and payment processes with automation, following the partnership.
Funding and investments
Fintech Libeo raises €20million in Series A funding round. Investors include DST Global, Serena, Breega and LocalGlobe. The B2B payments platform will use the funding in order to expand across Europe. Its third funding round in just over a year takes the total to €24million.
Israeli payments provider UNIPaaS has finalised a $10million fundraising round led by TPY Capital. Additional particpants include Sarah Friar (CEO of NextDoor), Eric Sager (COO of Plaid), Sam Hodges, CEO of Vouch Insurance and angel investor Gokul Rajaram. UNIPaaS will use the funds to build out its solution for multi-vendor businesses to offer their own payment experience to manage and control funds.
Celo, the open-source blockchain ecosystem, has secured $20million in new backing from purchasers and partners including Andreessen Horowitz, Greenfield One and Electric Capital. Celo has now garnered more than $65million from backers. It has also launched Valora, a mobile remittance and peer-to-peer payments app. Cost to transfer funds starts at just $.01 per transaction.
Meanwhile, next-generation data management platform Solidatus raises £14million in Series A funding. B2B enterprise fund AlbionVC led the round, which also includes two of Solidatus’ global enterprise clients, HSBC and Citi. It will use the funds to accelerate the delivery of organisational transformation and control to new markets and clients.
Mobile marketplace SoLo Funds announced a $10million Series A round led by ACME Capital. Plus, additional support from Impact America Fund, Techstars, Endeavor Catalyst and CEAS Investments. This investment brings SoLo Funds’ funding to $12million to date.
VC firm Finch Capital has announced the successful closure of its €150million ‘Europe III’ fund for investing in Series A and B fintech startups. Since its inception in 2013, the firm has made a total of 40 investments across Europe and Asia. Finch Capital says its two prior funds, Europe I and II, are now generating top-quartile returns.
Finally, InfiniGold has closed a AU$6.25milion capital raise and rebrands as Trovio. The commodity digitisation and registry service, incubated out of Australia’s Rozetta Institute, says the name change reflects the agnostic nature of its technology which can be applied to a trove of different precious metals and commodity assets.
The CEO of Bank Hapoalim has promoted Asaf Azulay to chief marketing officer. In addition to the bank’s marketing and payment app strategy, Azulay is also in charge of the bank’s LoyaltyPlan. Meanwhile, Karen Mazor is the bank’s new relationship development representative for the UAE and Bahrain.
H.E. Khaled Mohammed Balama Al Tameemi has been appointed vice governor of the Central Bank of the UAE. He will oversee CBUAE’s vision of promoting monetary and financial stability towards sustainable economic growth, as well as becoming one of the top central banks in the world.
Beam, a crowdfunding platform for homeless people, has hired Monzo’s director of product, Flora Devlin. As Beam’s first head of product, Devlin will advise on longer-term product strategy for the platform’s multiple stakeholders. Beam is also looking for a full-stack developer to join its tech and product team.
UK personal tax app untied hires Jonathan Yeomans, a senior HMRC professional, as its tax technical officer. He will use his extensive tax know-how of how government policies and procedures work to drive the company’s tax capability.
Meanwhile, fintech DoubleCheck Solutions has named Jessica Daughetee as chief marketing officer. Before joining DoubleCheck Solutions, Daughetee served as CMO at electronics firm Avnet.
“Jessica has built an incredible reputation for creating brands and especially in understanding how technology platforms connect with businesses and consumers alike.”
Skymind, the AI ecosystem builder, has unveiled two senior hires in order to support its drive to generate more business opportunities internationally. Eduardo Gonzalez is chief innovation officer and Paul Dubs is chief product officer. Skymind has also unveiled an $800million fund to back promising new AI companies and academic research.
Mergers and acquisitions
Webedia Esports Agency, through its local arm Webedia Arabia Group based in KSA, UAE, and Lebanon, has snapped up SaudiGamer.com, the gaming and esports platform. Webedia Arabia aims to strengthen SaudiGamer.com by bolstering content creation, as well as its monetisation capabilities.
Payments provider HPS strengthens its processing activities in Africa with the acquisition of payment processor ICPS in Mauritius. The acquisition will consolidate the processing activity of HPS by accelerating its development, as well as strengthening its infrastructure capacities with new data centres in Mauritius.
Tenable, the cyber exposure company, has agreed to acquire security firm Alsid SAS for $98million. The acquisition is expected to close early in the second quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals.
Finally, Thrillz, a platform which connects fans with celebrities, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs. Thrillz pre-seed round raised $700,000 from angel investors across Europe. Pre-registration for the Thrillz crowdfunding campaign begins this week, with the campaign going live in mid-February.
Updates and announcements
Bespin Global, the South Korean cloud technology consulting firm, is setting up regional headquarters and two innovation centres in Abu Dhabi following support from the Abu Dhabi Investment Office. Bespin Global will also grow its commercial and technical team as it taps into new areas such as financial services and fintech.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has rebuffed claims it has placed new restrictions on cryptocurrencies after asking commercial banks to close accounts transacting in, or operating on, cryptocurrency exchanges. It said its recent policy pronouncement was nothing new and ‘a reminder’ to banks to desist from transacting in and with entities dealing in cryptocurrencies following instructions circulated in 2017.
Samantha Seaton, CEO of payments platform Moneyhub, has joined the Investment and Saving Alliance’s (TISA) Open Savings, Investments and Pensions (OSIP) Steering Group. Other members of TISA’s OSIP group include Fidelity International, Hargreaves Lansdown, Morningstar, Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest, and SS&C. Seaton will help further shape the future of open finance.
Specialist venture platform Plug and Play has joined Vesttoo, a data-driven risk management solutions provider, as a shareholder through an equity investment.
“We invest in innovative insurtech companies that address the increasing challenges facing the insurance markets, and we believe that Vesttoo is uniquely positioned to do just that. We are looking forward to our joint collaboration.”
Finally, PwC UK and Panaseer join forces to offer continuous cyber risk monitoring. Customers will be able to leverage executive reporting dashboards from PwC UK, which are informed by continuously updated, accurate, assurance metrics from Panaseer.
Product and service launches
Trovata.io, a specialist in automating cash workflows using direct bank APIs, has launched Treasury Cloud – a data platform for enterprise IT. The product aims to help IT teams to drive digital transformation and automate backend support for accounting, finance and treasury teams internally. The launch follows a pilot with global payments firm Square.
Financial risk specialist Plenitude has unveiled Plenitude RegSight, a cloud-based financial crime compliance obligations management solution. It provides a platform to identify and manage FCC obligations, improve operational efficiency, as well as drive effective financial crime risk management.
Utimaco, the IT security provider, has introduced a converged hardware security module (HSM) platform for both payment and general purpose use cases. u.trust Anchor enables cloud service providers and enterprises to offer HSM as a service.