In this Tuesday’s The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup, fintech Sonovate trebles size of tech and product team to meet growing demand. While, social lending marketplace Plend secures £700,000 of funding.
Mergers and acquisitions
Fintech Baanx has become the third-largest shareholder in the US-regulated fintech bank Maxwell State Bank in a multi-million-dollar deal. Following the acquisition, Maxwell said it looks forward to strategic partnership opportunities, such as cybersecurity, access to digital safe-keeping of assets and general privacy.
Embedded business finance provider Liberis has appointed Georgina Owens as CTO with additional plans to double the engineering team. Owens has held senior technology leadership and transformation roles since 1987 and joins from Doqit Technologies. She will develop Liberis’ product with new features and functionality.
Fintech Zaggle has hired Arundhoti Banerjee as chief operating officer today. She will be responsible for business development and growth, customer success, user experience and engagement, operations, as well as partnerships.
Wiebe Ruttenberg has joined cyber threat intelligence company Security Alliance as director of strategy. Prior to this he worked in senior roles at the European Central Bank (ECB), the last five years as programme director focusing on technological innovation and cyber resilience across the financial sector.
Meanwhile, construction technology provider Causeway Technologies has named Richard Longdon as non-executive chairman. It follows a £120million investment by Five Arrows Principal Investments to fund strategic acquisitions, as well as accelerate the company’s organic growth strategy to provide a seamless digital connection across the entire construction supply chain.
Mariko Beising has joined TrueLayer, the European open banking platform, as its new head of payment partnerships. Most recently, she worked at Klarna where she led partnerships with payments services providers. Beising will play a critical role in defining and managing TrueLayer’s partner strategy.
Sonovate, the embedded finance and tech platform, has unveiled plans to triple the size of its tech team by the start of 2022. The Wales-headquartered fintech also plans to start hiring internationally from 2023, in continental Europe initially and then the US. Sonovate has provided nearly £2billion of funding in more than 40 countries since 2013.
Finally, TransUnion has unveiled Shashant Agrawal as director of strategy and planning. His aim is to identify and develop new strategies to grow TransUnion’s UK business. Shashant joins from fintech PaySafe Group, where he was vice president of product and analytics.
Research and insight
Companies with a strong focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) and technology as a sector are the key choices of investment in the Asia market amid the pandemic. A poll by The Continental Group reveals 78 per cent chose ESG, whereas 66 per cent preferred the technology sector. Meanwhile, 24 per cent preferred pharma while the remaining 10 per cent chose financial services.
Funding and investments
Cyclos, a DeFi project, has raised $2.1million combined from a private and a public round. The funding will be used to create the first concentrated liquidity automated market maker on the Solana blockchain. Investors included CMS Holdings, Hashkey, Solana Capital, Huobi Ventures, Coin98 Ventures, MXC, Gate.io, Skyvision Capital, Petrock Capital, as well as Youbi Capital.
French fintech Mooncard raises €20million from two new investors BlackFin Capital Partners and Partech, alongside its existing investors Aglaé Ventures and RAISE Ventures. Mooncard will intensify its development in France and expand internationally to reduce expense accounts.
OLIO, the community sustainability app, has announced a $43million Series B round to fund its fight against the $1.3trillion of food waste created globally each year. This latest fundraise saw existing investors VNV Global and Lugard Road Capital become major investors, supported by further funds from Accel, Octopus Ventures and Rubio. OLIO plans to build its global presence across 10 key markets in Latin America, Northern Europe and Asia.
ZEBEDEE has raised an $11.5million Series A round to continue development of its Bitcoin-powered payment rails. The round was led by Lakestar with participation from Initial Capital, New Form Capital, TVP and gaming angels, including Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, Alexis Bonte, Chris Lee, Timo Soininen and John Salter. Existing investors Collab + Currency, Cadenza and Fulgur Ventures also participated.
Plend, the UK social lending marketplace, has secured £700,000 of investment from Tomahawk, Ascension and Haatch, as well as backing from NBS Ventures. People can pre-register to gain early access to Plend with the full service due to launch in early 2022. According to Plend, 13 million are locked out from affordable credit.
Meanwhile, Rydoo, a SaaS software solution for managing business travel, has secured investment from a new major shareholder, Marlin Equity Partners. With Marlin’s support, Rydoo will accelerate its global expansion with the aim of becoming a leading global player in the travel and expense industry.
Australia’s first neobank Volt has partnered with digital currency exchange BTC Markets (BTCM) via its banking-as-a-service platform. The partnership will provide integrated banking capabilities to BTCM, initially via access to a corporate cash management account with real-time notifications and payment automation. In the coming months, BTCM will also invite its customers to open Volt bank accounts.
Software provider Hawk AI has forged a partnership with Moss, the expense and financial platform for all-in-one management of card payments, employee expenses and invoices. Hawk AI’s software will monitor payments processed by Moss to detect transactions potentially linked to financial crime.
Cellulant and Gainde 2000 partner to improve Africa’s trade environment by digitising payments for governments and multinational companies. GAINDE will bundle its e-government solutions with Cellulant’s payments solutions.
SafetyPay expands partnership with the Hinode Group to provide online payments processing and cash purchase options in additional countries. The new agreement will provide processing and alternative methods of online payments to consumers in Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Belgian neobank NewB selects OneSpan‘s Cloud authentication and mobile security to protect digital banking channels. OneSpan’s technology provides a scalable authentication framework that also enables NewB to be compliant with PSD2 requirements.
Business-to-business transactional funder Butn Limited has teamed up with mobility platform Ola. The first to market partnership will see Ola driver-partners in Australia have access to Butn Assist. Butn Assist is a hotline, available 24/7, anywhere in Australia for vehicle related assistance.
Dubai World Trade Centre’s (DWTC) new exhibition season is returning, including GITEX Global – the region’s premier technology and start-up events. Seamless Middle East also returns – the two-day conference will feature 300+ speakers covering the latest trends, market disruptors and technologies shaping the payments, fintech, retail and e-commerce world.
Al Ansari Exchange, the worldwide money transfer company, has opened its 200th branch in the UAE. The latest branch is located in Sahara Center new extension. A further 25 branches are planned for opening before the end of next year, in preparation for the post pandemic expected business uptake.
The Standard Chartered Women In Tech Bahrain Program has revealed the five winning teams receiving $10,000 each and three months of incubation at Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB). The winners will be able to further develop their startups, scale up, and venture into new markets. The program is an initiative by Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with the Supreme Council for Women and BFB.
Launches and product updates
Thames Technology has launched a range of wearable devices linked to payment cards. PayCard+ combines a traditional payment card with a piece of stylish wearable payment technology such as a ring, wristband, or key fob. In the UK alone, more than 27 per cent of transactions of all payment transactions in 2020 were contactless.
Scarlet, a new bank account and debit Mastercard launches exclusively at Walgreens. Provided by InComm Payments, powered by the Mastercard network and issued by MetaBank, Scarlet aims to make financial wellness more convenient and accessible.
Finally, the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) has launched the new Kuwait Automated Settlement System for Inter-participant Payments (KASSIP). It’s one of a series of projects geared to entrench financial stability in the country. The new system enables all local payment and transfer transactions among banks operating in Kuwait and to customers’ accounts to go through within seconds. It also enables instantaneous settlement of banks’ daily balances.