The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup on Thursday 5th of August sees Oman go cashless, whilst the UAE dips its toes into the promising new world of Whatsapp payments.
The next-gen core banking platform Yobota has appointed Freddi Rose as its new Head of Marketing and Communications. Freddi will coordinate and execute Yobota’s marketing strategies, and will play a key role in driving commercial growth, shaping the company’s narrative and voice, and supporting overall brand development. Speaking on her appointment, Freddi comments, “I’m delighted to be joining such an exciting company at a time when I can help deliver real value for the business and the customer, building the foundations of a dedicated, multi-faceted marketing function to showcase our offerings to a broader range of clients.”
Meanwhile, the financial Transaction Lifecycle Management (TLM) solutions provider SmartStream Technologies has introduced Mark Morris as Head of Sales, Managed Services to deliver technology and operational expertise across functions including reconciliations, corporate actions, collateral management, cash and liquidity management, fees and expense management, and reference data.
Julien Douve is set to join Modularbank as their Head of Alliances and Partnerships. Following its €4million round of late Seed Funding in December last year, the appointment is part of Modularbank’s wider expansion strategy to further strengthen its customer base in the UK, Nordics and Continental Europe and increase commercial breadth in new markets such as Latin America.
Over in Australia, Rebecca Schot-Guppy has parted ways with Fintech Australia after three years in the position of CEO to begin her new role supporting IAG’s Firemark Ventures, the venture capital fund of Australia’s largest general insurer.
Back in Europe, and Clement Boulais has joined the open banking platform TrueLayer as its General Manager for France. Clement will work to define and manage commercial strategy in the country, alongside TrueLayer’s Chief Revenue Officer Max Emilson.
In the world of investing, Titanbay, the private markets investment platform for investors, private banks, and asset managers has announced the appointment of Alex Bozoglou as Head of Investments as the business continues to bolster its senior team. Alex will lead on fund selection and portfolio construction, identifying and determining best in class funds for Titanbay’s clients, as well as further deepening relationships with GPs.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The digital payments company Square has announced plans to purchase the fintech company Afterpay; a move that is set to significantly impact the buy-now-pay-later landscape.
EquiLend, the global financial technology company for the securities lending, collateral, and swaps industries, has announced its acquisition of a majority stake in Stonewain Systems Inc., an independent provider of software and solutions for the securities finance industry. The partnership is aimed at delivering upon the unprecedented demand and need in the securities finance industry for swift modernisation, greater automation, increased efficiencies, and lower costs.
On the heels of its acquisition of UAE-based Finablr, the MENA fintech and remittance platform Prism Group AG and Royal Strategic Partners have signed a SPA to acquire BFC Group Holdings and its subsidiaries, BFC Bahrain, BEC Exchange (Kuwait), BFC Payments, and BFC Forex and Financial Services (India), via their newly created WizzFinancial platform.
Funding Rounds and Investments
Over in Jordan, and the cloud Point of Sale platform POSRocket has successfully raised $5M in their latest funding round, which was co-led by Finance in Motion, Algebra Ventures, Vision Ventures, Etihad Bank, Seedstars, and angel investors from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This was preceded by earlier funding round, in which the platform secured $1.5M.
Nuwa Capital has invested in baraka, a Dubai-based fintech startup on a mission to educate, enable and empower retail investors in the Middle East. The $4M seed round also includes Global Founders Capital, FJ Labs, Raptor Group, Tribe Capital, VentureSouq, and Class 5 Global.
The World Bank’s sister organisation IFC has invested $10m in FintechOS‘s Series B funding round. This investment is poised to accelerate digitisation in the finance sector, allowing financial institutions to better serve the unbanked and underbanked individuals and communities around the world; particularly in developed markets.
The global Fintech as a Service company Rapyd has announced a $300 million Series E funding round led by Target Global. The additional funds will enable Rapyd to capitalise on emerging opportunities driven by the unprecedented demand for Digital Payments, Embedded Finance, and scalable cloud-based payment infrastructure across all segments and verticals, and will be used to accelerate the company’s growth through a combination of organic growth, acquisitions, and strategic investments.
GoCardless, the fintech for account-to-account payments, has formed a new partnership with the global mobile-first financial management and accounting solution Fiskl, who will now be able to offer small businesses a new way to collect payments that reduces churn, minimises bad debt, and increases cash flow.
BlueVine, a provider of innovative financial services for small businesses, has announced a partnership with NEXT Insurance. This partnership will allow BlueVine customers to obtain a quote and purchase General Liability, Professional Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Commercial Auto, Commercial Property and Tools and Equipment insurance coverage without leaving their BlueVine account dashboard.
The London-based AI firm Nexus FrontierTech has created a partnership with UK-based Financial Crime Risk and Compliance consultancy Kaizen Compliance Solutions to develop an AI-powered tool aimed at automating the process of Client/Customer Risk Assessment.
Also in London, Red Hat, the provider of enterprise open source solutions, and Nutanix, a provider of hybrid multicloud computing solutions, have announced a strategic partnership to enable a solution for building, scaling, and managing cloud-native applications on-premises and in hybrid clouds. The collaboration brings together industry-leading technologies, enabling installation, interoperability, and management of Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Nutanix Cloud Platform, including Nutanix AOS and AHV.
Lloyds Bank has become the first bank in Europe to partner with Visa to offer Straight Through Processing (STP) technology to customers using its commercial charge cards. STP will enable a more efficient way to pay invoices while providing the traditional benefits of commercial card payments to both the buyer and the supplier.
Sustainable banking service Ando has announced a partnership with Virginia Community Capital Bank. This partnership and an initial investment of seven million dollars will mark the first of many green loans that will be supported by Ando customers’ deposits.
Temenos, the banking software company, has come together with Wescom Credit Union to launch an all-new credit card programme featuring two new cards – the Bruin Edge Visa Credit Card and the Bruin Choice Visa Credit Card – tailored specifically for a local university in Westwood, California. The cards will serve the university’s alumni, current students, and staff. The project builds on the long-time relationship between Temenos and Wescom, which began using Temenos Infinity to support collections and lending in 2012.
Meanwhile, the global AI-powered credit decision platform provider, Scienaptic AI has announced that Credit Union of Colorado has selected its AI-powered platform. The implementation will enable the credit union to make stronger, faster credit decisions and enhance financial options for its members.
Announcements and Launches
The European digital investment platform Bitpanda is launching its Blockchain Research and Development Hub. The new Hub is expected to attract world-class blockchain experts and engineers who want to develop the technologies of the future. Speaking on the launch, Lukas Enzersdorfer-Konrad, Bitpanda CPO, said, “Innovation is at the core of everything we do at Bitpanda. Staying ahead of the curve means we need to think big, move fast and iterate. It also means we need to employ the best talent to help us shape and bring these ideas to life. Blockchain technology is at the forefront of tech innovation, and this is incredibly exciting because of its endless potential in a company like ours.”
The Bahrain-based open banking platform ila Bank has introduced a range of new features to its app platform. Leveraging the national eKYC platform, new customers to the bank will now be able to open an account with just an ID and a selfie.
The UAE-based digital wallet Payit, which is powered by First Abu Dhabi Bank, is harnessing digital support services from PLATX on a first-of-its-kind solution for merchants in the region. The new service enables merchants to collect payments via WhatsApp from their customers. Merchants who enroll for this service can provide their WhatsApp-enabled mobile numbers to their customers who then engage with a conversational BOT to make secure payments.
The B2B commercial payments technology specialists EedenBull is to participate in Mastercard‘s Track Business Payment Service to enhance its innovative Commercial Payments as-a-service (CPaaS) solution. As one of the first open-loop B2B commercial networks, Mastercard Track automates payments-related data exchange between buyers and suppliers. Consisting of a portfolio of B2B solutions, it helps businesses increase simplicity, flexibility, and efficiency, optimising the best option of paying or getting paid for every invoice across multiple payment rails.
On the heels of its acquisition of Finablr, the fintech and remittance platform in the MENA region and India, Prism Group AG and Royal Strategic Partners have signed a SPA to acquire BFC Group Holdings (BFC) and its subsidiaries via their newly established WizzFinancial platform. The deal is set to create one of the largest remittance services and currency exchange groups in the MENA region whilst also being the only operator with a direct presence in all six GCC countries (including KSA).
The European fintech bank FinecoBank has set a new record for revenue growth in H1 2021. In the first half of this year, Fineco opened more current accounts in the UK than in the whole of 2020, while improving the penetration of active clients on brokerage, representing more than 70% on new current accounts.
Also in the UK, the law firm TLT has advised Starling Bank on its £50 million acquisition of specialist buy-to-let mortgage lender Fleet Mortgages.
Cashless transactions to become mandatory at key outlets in Oman. With effect from January 1, 2022, all commercial transactions at select stores and business establishments will be cashless as part of the Omani government’s drive to promote electronic channels as the principal mode of payment – a key objective of the Oman 2040 Vision.
Singapore’s Vistas Media Capital is set to expand into blockchain entertainment business with their launch of Fantico, an NFT platform in the Indian Cinema, Art, Sports and Entertainment space. The NFT trading platform will feature an exclusive collection of digital artworks from luminaries from different backgrounds. Abhayanand Singh, Group CEO and Co-Founder of Vistas Media Capital said, “Together, we intend to become the largest fan engagement platform where celebrities and creators can commercially engage with their superfans, collectors and investors.”