The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup delivers the latest international fintech stories, including appointments, partnerships and investments.
Investment platform eToro has appointed Dr Hedva Ber as deputy CEO and global chief operating officer. Previously, between 2015 and 2020, Dr. Ber served as Israel’s supervisor of banks. She will lead eToro’s operational infrastructure, corporate governance, compliance and regulatory affairs, legal, risk management, as well as social responsibility.
National Bank of Oman has introduced three new board members – Dr. Ghazi Nasser Al Alawi, Said Hilal Al Habsi and Nabil Al Mahrouqi. In its recent board meeting, the first local commercial bank in the Sultanate of Oman also revealed a net profit of OMR18.1million for 2020.
Meanwhile, the UAE has appointed Khaled Mohamed Balama Al Tameemi as the governor of the country’s central bank. He was previously the central bank’s deputy governor and takes over from Abdulhamid Saeed Alahmadi.
Technology provider Neocova has unveiled Carson Lappetito as chairman of its board. Lappetito is the president and director of Sunwest Bank and its parent company, H Bancorp. He will help drive Neocova’s mission to deliver innovative banking software solutions to community and regional banks.
Announcements and Events
The Center for Islamic Economics and Finance at the College of Islamic Studies, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, has held the fourth International Conference on Islamic Finance. With the support of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority, the three-day conference stressed the digital role of Islamic finance in sustainable development.
Mohammed bin Rashid approves Emirates Development Bank strategy, allocating AED30billion to support priority industrial sectors over five years. The strategy aims to leverage the Bank’s role as a key driver of the national economy in order to provide the largest support network for the industrial sector.
The Central Bank of Albania has issued an electronic money institution licence to Paysera Albania. The company will now be able to provide money transfers, a payment gateway for e-stores, and other financial services in the Balkan country.
Phunware board approves $1.5million Bitcoin purchase ahead of customer data platform and mobile loyalty ecosystem commercial launch. It plans to release PhunWallet on iOS and Android later this month. Phunware also recently partnered with BitPay to expand its corporate benefits package to provide cryptocurrency payroll options for employees, including Bitcoin.
Finastra has revealed Unity One Credit Union has gone live on Finastra’s Fusion Digital Banking. Fusion Digital Banking will allow the credit union to serve its members better across a large geography and appeal to existing and new members, including the unbanked and underbanked.
Beyond, a digital transformation consultancy for financial services, has unveiled the Fintech Innovation Network. The online resource covers technology and data solutions in areas such as financial crime, client onboarding and lifecycle management, as well as regulatory compliance.
Oxbury Bank launches a carbon-mitigation savings account in order to fight climate change and address biodiversity loss. With Oxbury Forest Saver, consumers can direct their savings interest to fund dedicated woodland creation projects on farms across Britain. Initially, trees will be planted in new woodland in the Scottish borders, with other farm sites across the UK to follow.
Meanwhile, Ekata, the global digital identity data firm, has introduced a merchant onboarding solution. It is designed to help payment service providers, B2B lenders, as well as marketplaces, onboard micro-merchants and sole proprietors faster. The API and SaaS solutions link businesses to the individual.
Funding and investments
Cryptocurrency startup Atani has completed a seed funding round of $6.25million. JME Ventures, Conexo Ventures, Encomenda Smart Capital and Lanai Partners joined the round. The seed investment follows a pre-seed round for $750,000 secured in May 2019, bringing Atani’s total funding to $7million.
auxmoney, the digital-lending platform for consumer credit in Europe, has secured a €250million investment for its marketplace loans. It says the investment from Citigroup and Chenavari Investment Managers will enable it to bring the benefit of digital loans to even more consumers.
Verdant Capital raises $9.9million Series A equity capital for Tugende, an MSME lender in East Africa. Partech Africa and Enza Capital invested in the latest $3.6million extension round. Verdant Capital serves as Tugende’s financial advisor and arranger for its equity and debt capital raises.
TrueLayer raises $70million in Series D round led by new investor Addition. In addition, existing investors Anthemis Group, Connect Ventures, Mouro Capital, Northzone and Temase also took part. It brings total raised to date to $142million. The new funding will be used to fuel the open banking platform’s global expansion.
Meanwhile, fintech Spoko.app has obtained financing of €5million from its strategic investor FinTech Ventures. Spoko.app will accelerate its geographical expansion in 2021 and 2022, as well as develop its product.
Digital financial services company Alpian, incubated by Swiss banking group REYL & Cie Ltd, has secured a Series B funding worth around $18million. The fundraising follows the Series A round in 2020 in which CHF12.2million was raised. Alpian is pursuing a market segment of mass affluent clients.
Mergers and acquisitions
Sidetrade, the European AI-powered platform dedicated to the order-to-cash (O2C) market, has accelerated its expansion into the US with the $16million acquisition of Amalto. Amalto specialises in the exchange and automation of O2C documents in the oil and gas industry.
EML Payments Limited has snapped up Sentenial Limited and its subsidiaries, including open banking pioneer, Nuapay. The €110million deal will lead to EML expanding Sentenial’s platform and products into the North American and Australian markets.
Global fintech firm Finder has acquired the GoBear brand. Finder’s acquisition includes trademark and digital assets, such as domains, website content and social channels in seven markets: Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. The GoBear brand will continue to operate via social media and email channels.
Czech neobank Octobank has acquired Earlybase, a B2B company specialised in sales and marketing outsourcing. The integration will support Ocotbank’s growth goals across Central and Eastern Europe. Octobank primary focus is on e-shops and merchants.
Meanwhile, Irish fintech CurrencyFair is to merge with Australian firm Assembly Payments following a strategic investment from Standard Chartered. Paul Byrne, CEO of CurrencyFair, will lead the merged business.
“By bringing together the complementary strengths of CurrencyFair and Assembly, we are supporting the merged company in offering the full range of payment services, providing retail and corporate clients access to fast, high-volume domestic and cross-border payments.”
MENA’s largest fintech hub Bahrain FinTech Bay and blockchain software provider R3 are hosting a webinar on 19 April to showcase their strategic partnership. They provide key resources and tools for blockchain based startups and enterprises within MENA to test, validate and implement their products with end users.
Dubai Economy and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority have agreed to unify their corporate e-KYC blockchain platforms. Their combined platform will facilitate faster, more secure and streamlined customer onboarding. It will also allow sharing of verified e-KYC data between licensing authorities and financial institutions.
Canadian fintech Brim Financial has partnered with Canadian Western Bank to roll out its platform as a service and credit card infrastructure. In addition to its credit card products, Brim’s PaaS offers an in-branch onboarding portal and an online self-service portal.
Meanwhile, Ikano Bank has plumped for the TruNarrative regtech platform to facilitate its digital transformation and Europe wide fraud prevention strategy. The TruNarrative platform will integrate with Ikano Bank’s tech stack, including its core architecture, front-end website and native apps.
Glenhawk, the UK challenger lender, has teamed up with mortgage platform provider Twenty7Tec. Glenhawk’s regulated products will be available on Twenty7Tec’s proprietary SOURCE platform. In will also roll out its unregulated products on the SOURCE module later.
There’s also a partnership for BrightPay, the payroll software provider, and fintech Modulr. Modulr’s platform allows BrightPay to sync payroll calculations to payment entries, removing the need for manual processes through automation technology.
PPS, formerly PrePay Solutions and an Edenred company, is partnering with pockid, the first German neobank for Generation Z. pockid is set to launch in April 2021 and will also be rolled out into other European markets in ‘the coming years’.
Customers of illimitybank.com – the illimity Group’s digital direct bank – can now use viacash in their mobile banking app following a partnership. The service is branded as ‘cash deposit’ in the bank’s own app and allows customers to deposit cash while doing grocery.
Meanwhile, Advapay, a digital core banking platform for fintechs, has joined forces with regtech iSPIRAL. The integration with iSPIRAL will be available on the list of ready-to-deploy integrations of Advapay’s platform Macrobank.
Money saving app Snoop has partnered with credit marketplace technology provider Accepty for its AI-driven personal loans. They say the partnership is ‘is all about creating the most intelligent personal loan matching service in the market’.
Finally, Ping An OneConnect Bank and Joint Electronic Teller Services Limited have hooked up to roll out JETCO cardless withdrawal services. Ping An OneConnect Bank’s individual customers can withdraw cash from more than 1,700 JETCO ATMs in Hong Kong. The daily withdrawal limit is HK$30,000, while the single withdrawal limit is set as HK$6,000.