The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup brings you a selection of international fintech stories, including appointments, partnerships and investments.
Digital commerce firm Network International has appointed UAE national Ahmed Bin Tarraf as regional president for UAE. He is tasked with driving Network’s business growth as well as increasing digital payments adoption in the UAE.
In further Network news, Egyptian Hany Fekry is now regional president for Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa. He joined Network in 2016 as managing director for Egypt and and deputy managing director for Africa.
ThetaRay, the AI-based big data firm, has appointed Dagan Osovlansky as chief product officer. He will be responsible for product strategy and development, as well as product management.
Bob Wigley, chairman of UK Finance (and former chair of Merrill Lynch EMEA) is now also chairman of tech provider Vizolution. It hopes Wigley will help deepen its financial services expertise, as demand for new ways to engage with customers accelerates.
Mode Global Holdings, the LSE-listed fintech group, has unveiled Ariane Murphy as chief investor relations officer. She will lead strategic planning with the aim of diversifying the Group’s shareholder base in addition to increasing shareholder value.
Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) has added Heather Adamson, head of fiduciary at Ince, to its national advisory council in Gibraltar. Adamson says continuing professional development is core to CISI’s mission and is a key element in Gibraltar’s future as a global finance centre.
Emeka Okonkwo is the new CEO at Union Bank of Nigeria. He takes over from Emeka Emuwa, who steps down after eight years at the helm. Prior to his appointment, Okonkwo was head of Union Bank’s corporate banking group.
Finally, BTCS Inc, a digital asset and blockchain technology company, has added Carol Van Cleef to its board as a new independent director. Van Cleef is a pioneer in legal issues involving cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
FinTech Egypt, an affiliate of the Central Bank of Egypt, has celebrated the awarded university students participating in the FinYology-FinTech for Youth initiative. The scheme aspires to advance financial technology, as well as financial inclusion, in Egypt.
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has granted TrustUK Payments an authorised payment institution licence. It permits the company to engage in payment services directly in the UK without the need to rely on its existing EU licensing structures.
Flat6Labs, a seed investor in MENA, has unveiled a partnership with venture capital platform DisruptAD to create further opportunities for entrepreneurs. Their SAR122.5million Ignite programme will foster innovation in Abu Dhabi. Applications for the first cycle will be open until 30 April 2021.
Saudi Arabia’s Tamara secures Sharia approval for its buy now, pay later solutions. It has announced the assignment of the Shariyah Review Bureau, to manage its financing solution in light of Sharia principles. Its payment solution is available to online stores in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
World leaders convened for the 14th Ritossa Global Family Office Investment Summit in March. Preliminary reports predict nearly $1billion in new funding may result from the event, which took place at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.
Launches and product news
Payments firm Stripe has expanded into the Middle East with its official launch in the United Arab Emirates. Businesses operating online in the UAE can use Stripe to accept online payments, make payouts, mitigate fraud, and expand globally to reach customers all around the world.
Meanwhile, fintech Bankera has introduced Single European Payment Area (SEPA) instant payments for crypto businesses. Bankera’s solutions are powered by Pervesk, an electronic money institution authorised by the Central Bank of Lithuania. In addition to SEPA Instant, Pervesk became a principal member of the Visa network last December.
Digital cross border payments platform Instarem has rebranded to align with its vision for moving beyond digital remittances. The rebrand involves a new logo, redesigned website and an improved mobile application for Singapore users. Instarem will also launch a new consumer debit card users within the year.
Funding and investments
Fintech firm Monva has exceeded its fundraising target of £200,000 via Crowdcube. The latest funding round follows one year after smashing its initial crowdfunding target in 2020. A larger institutional round is expected to take place towards the end of 2021.
European P2P investment platform Robo.cash crossed the milestone of €15million of attracted investment in March. In Q1 2021, the net deposits on Robo.cash grew by 46 per cent and the number of new investors skyrocketed by 139 per cent QoQ. In 2021 alone, Robo.cash plans to attract €13million of investment.
Wi5, the mobile order and pay platform, has raised $6million in a pre-Series A led by West Hill Capital. Wi5 will focus on an international expansion in the US, where it expects revenues to overtake those from the UK within 18 months. It wants to close a Series A this spring.
Fintech platform Butter has closed a £15.8million funding round to accelerate the rollout of its open banking based buy now, pay later shopping app. BCI Finance, the credit arm of London based venture builder Blenheim Chalcot, led the round.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian startup InRento has closed a pre-seed round and attracted €130,000 from the Estonian Startup Wise Guys Venture Capital Fund. InRento platform currently offers investors an annual interest from a rental yield of 6 to 7.5 per cent with a minimum investment of €500.
Capitolis, the SaaS platform for capital markets, has closed a $90million Series C funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz. The funding round included participation from investors Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital, S Capital, Spark Capital, SVB Capital, Citi, J.P. Morgan and State Street. It brings Capitolis’ total funding to date to $170million
Acquisitions and mergers
Uphold, a digital money platform, is to acquire US broker dealer JNK Securities after regulatory approval. Uphold has received the nod from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to acquire the dealer approved to offer equities on an omnibus basis to retail investors in the US.
Two fintechs – daVinci Payments and North Lane Technologies – have joined forces to become a single, unified payments brand called Onbe. The new company, backed by a majority equity investment by Centerbridge Partners, will ‘drive the evolution of digital payments through its virtual payments offering’.
TAB Bank is using MuleSoft’s API platform to build its open banking strategy, as well as grow an ecosystem of partners. With MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, TAB Bank says it can process SME loans 60 times faster than before.
Saurus.com, Rewire Holding’s social and financial inclusion programme, has partnered with EML to enhance its mobile payments app. In 2020, Saurus.com raised more than $2million in its second seed funding round. Its next pre-Series A round will fund its ambition to become a regulated entity.
Technology marketplace Bofin has partnered with ComplyAdvantage in order to lower risk of exposure to financial crime. Bofin will integrate ComplyAdvantage’s screening and monitoring technology for AML data, adverse information and published media.
Meanwhile, Marqeta has been selected by Mastercard to join its Fintech Express programme. Mastercard will give Marqeta access to its extensive network of startups and emerging brands, helping the company to scale in Europe and beyond.
Finally, payment infrastructure provider FIS Global is expanding its business through a global partnership with Danish fintech Cardlay. In the first phase of the partnership, FIS Global and Cardlay will focus on the European market, where Cardlay’s white label solution will be offered t 28 European countries.
Santander International has selected banking software firm Temenos to power-up its core banking platform transformation. Temenos SaaS, implemented by Syncordis, will ‘enable Santander International to benefit from the security, resilience and elastic scalability of the Microsoft Azure cloud’.
Finally, Currencycloud has partnered with European payments firm Settle Group. Settle can now offer foreign exchange and cross-border payments for its invoice financing and factoring customers across Europe. Settle says the connectivity was instrumental in its recent launch in Bulgaria. It also marks the first time Settle has worked with a third party to deliver a solution for its customers.