The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup puts the spotlight on international fintech stories. Trovio to list first net-zero gold ETF and Starling Bank announces a £272million funding round led by Fidelity Investments.
Funding and investments
Starling Bank is now valued at £1.1billion pre-money following a £272million Series D funding round. Led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, alongside Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), RPMI Railpen and Millennium Management, the funding will support a targeted expansion of Starling’s lending in the UK, as well as a launch in Europe.
Unslashed Finance, an insurance product provider for crypto assets, has secured a $2million funding round. Its investors include Lemniscap, P2P Capital, Bitscale Capital and Chainlayer. Since its initial private launch, Unslashed has sold coverage for the amount of $400million and collected $90million in capital deposits.
Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) has completed a significant growth equity investment in AutoRek, a provider of financial control, regulatory reporting and data management software. The investment will help AutoRek to accelerate its product development plans and further extend its offering internationally.
Workforce management platform Papaya Global has raised $100million in a Series C funding, bringing its valuation to $1billion. The new investment, led by GreenOaks Capital Partners and joined by IVP Ventures and Alkeon, follows Papaya’s $40million Series B funding six months ago.
Organization.GG, an online gaming platform, has secured $610,000 in a pre-seed round following investment from WePlay Esports and QPDigital. It will use the funding to develop new interaction mechanics to ‘bring fans closer to the streamers’ as well as launch in North America.
Meanwhile, Canada-based cryptocurrency exchange CoinSmart closes CAD$4.5million seed funding and unveiled plans to expand into Europe. The funding, raised through the issuance of interest-bearing convertible debentures, will drive the expansion of CoinSmart’s platform into European markets, as well as support operational changes.
Payments platform xpate has become a principal member of Mastercard. xpate will work directly with Mastercard to enhance its xpate Stacks platform as well as bolster its merchant acquiring portfolio. The payments platform also plans to launch its app to bring customers speedy cross-border payment solutions.
MACROBOND Financial, a provider of financial intelligence, has opened an office in Stockholm. It is Macrobond’s seventh global location in addition to London, New York, Hong Kong, Lisbon, Szeczin and Malmö. The office opening follows the appointment of chief commercial officer Howard Rees to drive global growth plans.
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, has proposed the enactment of amendments to Employment Law, Data Protection Law and Insolvency regulations to keep it in line with international best practice.
While the board of the African Development Bank has awarded a $2million grant to strengthen the resilience of digital financial ecosystems. In Senegal, it has established the African Cybersecurity Resource Center (ACRC) for financial inclusion in order to tackle cybercrime across Africa.
Two grants for research that will increase African women’s access to a range of digital financial services have been approved by African Development Bank. The $1million and $300,000 grants will be disbursed through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility to two fintechs, Pula Advisors Kenya and M-KOPA Kenya.
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is calling for candidates for shareholder-elected non-executive director roles for its board. Three vacancies will be on offer at the SARB’s annual general meeting in July 2021. Candidates for the board positions must be South Africa residents.
Meanwhile, international secured-lending platform vendor HPD Lendscape has become an official member of The Spanish Association of Factoring. With a focus on the Iberian market, HPD Lendscape recently launched a Spanish-language website.
Commodity-technology firm Trovio has unveiled plans to launch the world’s first net-zero carbon emissions gold exchange-traded fund on the Australian Securities Exchange. GoldZero, jointly developed with Xpansiv, leverages a standardised, exchange-traded contract that sets a price for the global voluntary carbon market.
Noon.com aims to attract more Saudi shoppers with the launch of VIP loyalty programme. Now live in KSA, the UAE and Egypt, noon VIP will be available to all customers with treats such as one per cent cashback on all orders. Plus free next-day delivery on noon Express items.
Mastercard and the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) have unveiled UEFA Champions League Mastercard Cards. A themed credit card and prepaid card have benefits, including a rewards programme. Cardholders can also wager on their favorite football team to earn points if they win a major game or trophy.
Finally, investment manager Nickel Digital Asset Management has launched a new crypto asset fund. Its fourth fund, the Digital Leaders Altcoin Fund, is designed to capture the expansion of the broader digital assets market, outside of Bitcoin.
Telos, the end-to-end technology infrastructure provider, has hired Alfonse Mandese as head of sales and business development. Prior to this, Mandese led sales and business development in the Americas for Ledger Enterprise Solutions.
Louise O’Shea, CEO of Confused.com, has joined the board of CFC, a specialist insurance provider, as an independent non-executive director. O’Shea served as finance director and held various other roles at Admiral Group in the eight years before joining Confused.com.
Nicola Cordone has stepped down as CEO and general manager at European payments firm SIA to join parent company CDP Equity as senior advisor on digitalisation projects. The move falls under the governance agreements of the merger of SIA into Nexi. In addition, Paolo Calcagnini of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti joins as a new board member. While Fabio Balbinot, CFO of SIA, is now interim general manager.
Partnerships and collaborations
In other SIA news, the company has hooked up with German fintech Fidor Solutions, in order to launch a new instant payments service. It allows European financial institutions to transfer up to €100,000 in real-time, by utilising the SIA EasyWay platform.
There’s a partnership for international payment firm epay and Ireland’s largest branded consumer payments network Payzone Ireland. epay gift cards are now available to Irish consumers nationwide and can be purchased in-store using cash or card.
Meanwhile, TrueLayer has unveiled a new partnership with Wombat, the savings and investment platform. Using TrueLayer’s Payments API, Wombat provides customers with the ability to instantly deposit funds into their investment accounts.
Banking software firm Temenos has revealed that Suez Canal Bank has selected its Infinity product in order to provide its customers with a complete digital platform. Temenos Infinity also gives customers insights and suggestions using personalised data and AI capabilities.
East African fintech NALA and global identity verification provider Veriff join forces to make app onboarding ‘more inclusive’. Veriff will be supporting NALA in offering secure access to financial services via reliable and inclusive identity verification.
Exizent, the Glasgow-based technology firm, has announced a pilot project with Scottish Building Society to help families navigate legal and financial processes when an account holder passes away. The new system aims to simplify the entire journey, from notice that a customer has died, to identifying their accounts, releasing any funds held, and closing the case.
Digital consulting firm Tech Mahindra has joined forces with ThoughtSpot to offer AI-driven analytics for enterprises globally. Tech Mahindra will integrate ThoughtSpot’s search and analytics platform with its Virtual Analyst platform to drive multilevel data analysis and provide real time insights.
A multi-year deal with Microsoft is supporting Paysafe’s move to cloud-based transaction services.The payments platform is leveraging Microsoft Azure’s tools for its US payment processing and merchant services.
Finally, AgriDex, the supply chain platform and marketplace for the food and agriculture industry, has selected L3COS to create its smart marketplace. Through their $85million partnership, L3COS will deliver a blockchain-based marketplace, tokenised payments and exchange platform for AgriDex.