The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup delivers fintech stories from around the world. This Thursday we cover the latest investment rounds, fintech job moves, as well as new industry partnerships.
Network International has appointed Marcello Baricordi as president for financial institutions, fintechs and payments partnerships. In his new role, Baricordi will have end-to-end responsibility of Network’s go-to-market strategies, in addition to product development, marketing and sales.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency derivatives exchange Bybit has hired Daniel Lim as general counsel. Lim joins Bybit from an international investment bank in Singapore where he served as head of legal and compliance.
Monzo co-founder Gary Dolman joins sustainable investing app tickr as chairman. The company recently closed a £2.5million funding round with Ada Ventures and has grown more than 500 per cent since lockdown. Dolman says tickr has ‘the ability to demystify ESG investing for people of all ages’.
Tom Evans is leading product and engineering at savings app Chip after joining as its new chief technology officer. He moves from 10X Banking. Chip plans to introduce new wealth-building features in 2021, including Investments and ChipX, scheduled for spring this year.
Ron Totaro has joined Tassat, a global provider of products for digital payments, as CEO. He will accelerate revenue growth, leverage enabling technologies to drive product innovation, and well as guide Tassat through its next phase of growth.
Payments platform Dwolla has appointed Dave Glaser as a new president and COO. He joins from Mastercard, where he served as senior vice president of Global Acceptance Solutions. Glaser will help to bolster Dwolla’s market leadership, as well as it growth trajectory.
Pan-African fintech MFS Africa has made a number of new senior hires for its London office in order to drive new offerings targeted at financial institutions and global development organisations. The new hires include Patrick Gutmann, managing director of MFS Africa UK, Funmi Dele-Giwa as director, legal and regulatory affairs and group company secretary, plus Nika Naghavi as director of strategic projects.
Duncan Steblyna has joined global identity verification provider Veriff as its new VP of product. Prior to joining Veriff, Steblyna was VP of product at OLX Markets, a global network of marketplaces, where he was responsible for migrating all of OLX’s markets onto a unified platform.
Enterprise search firm Sinequa has added Ulf Zetterberg to its board of directors in order to help evolve the organisation’s growth strategy and support its continued international expansion.
Rohan Khara, the former Gojek head of product for financial services, joins Fairmoney to drive emerging markets expansion. As chief product officer, Khara will work on ensuring that the company builds richer,
more impactful and customised mobile-first financial products in Nigeria, India and beyond.
Mergers and acquisitions
PayPal has agreed to acquire Curv to accelerate and expand its initiatives to support cryptocurrencies and digital assets. Curv, based in Israel, is a provider of cloud-based infrastructure for digital asset security. PayPal expects to complete the acquisition in the first half of 2021. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Warburg Pincus-backed Aion Bank acquires ETFmatic as part of its European expansion. ETFmatic’s proprietary investment platform and management team will be integrated into Aion’s operations but it will continue as a stand-alone brand in all markets the company is currently operating in.
Funding and investments
Crypto exchange aggregator OpenOcean has completed a $2million strategic funding round led by Binance. Other strategic investors include Multicoin Capital, LD Capital, CMS, Kenetic and Altonomy. Funds will build OpenOcean’s full aggregation ecosystem, as well as fuel marketing efforts to grow its user base.
baraka, a UAE-based fintech startup, unveils commission-free US investment platform following $1million pre-seed capital raise. The funding round was led by Class 5 Global, in addition to FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq and private investment from Dr. Abdulla Elyas, co-founder of Careem.
Verofax, an automation and traceability platform, has secured $1.2million in a Seed funding round, led by Trove Capital Limited UK. Other investors included MFD Holding, Kepler Fund Managers and Casablanca Holding. This funding marks Verofax porting its platform on Microsoft Cloud and its recent Q4 expansion into Asia and Africa.
Autobooks, the small business payment and accounting services platform, has raised $25million in Series B financing, led by MissionOG. The round also includes participation from other investors including Renaissance Venture Capital, Detroit Venture Partners and Draper Triangle, along with TD Bank Group.
Pipe has raised $50million in strategic equity funding. Led by Siemens Next47 and Jim Pallotta’s Raptor Group, the latest round also included Shopify, Slack, HubSpot, Okta, Chamath Palihapitiya, Marc Benioff, Michael Dell’s MSD Capital, Republic, Alexis Ohanian and Joe Lonsdale. The funding, which brings the total equity raised to $66million, will be used to expand Pipe’s global footprint as well as build upon the company’s partnerships.
Meanwhile, Istanbul-based fintech Midas has raised $1million from DenizBank‘s venture arm Deniz Ventures. Midas has revealed it has more than 35.000 people on its waitlist and is also working on a fully digital onboarding process.
Africa-focused payments company Flutterwave is considering a US listing after raising $170million from investors. The fundraising round was led by Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger Global Management LLC. Other backers in the funding round included Early Capital Berrywood, Green Visor Capital and Greycroft Capital, as well as Paypal.
Enterprise service mesh firm Tetrate has raised $40million in a Series B funding round led by Sapphire Ventures. Other new investors, Scale Venture Partners and NTTVC, in addition to existing investors Dell Technologies Capital, Intel Capital, 8VC and Samsung NEXT, all participated in the round.
Dayra, a Cairo-based fintech startup providing unbanked gig-workers with financial services, has closed a debt and equity pre-seed round of $3million. The startup, funded by Tanmiya Capital Ventures, EFG EV Fintech, EFG Hermes and Y Combinator, also joined Y Combinator’s Winter 21 batch.
Pluto Digital Assets PLC, the crypto VC and tech company, has raised $40million. Pluto’s third and largest round to date was led by Argo Blockchain Plc, who will be maintaining their 25 per cent stake with an investment of around $10million.
Digital asset custodian Komainu closes $25million Series A to expand institutional custody offering. The new financing round, led by Alan Howard of Elwood Asset Management, will expand Komainu’s global presence and accelerate growth plans. Additional participation came from Galaxy Digital, NOIA Capital and Nomura Research Institute, each of whom will act as strategic partners to the business.
Finally, WorkFusion, a provider of industry-specialised intelligent automation software, has raised $220million in Series F funding. The round was led by Georgian, a fintech investing in high-growth technology companies.
Payments firm Veem has unveiled Veem Local, a new product package that provides a no-fee domestic payment product. Veem Local also improves the in-country payment experience for businesses, from end-to-end. Other key features include payment workflow solutions, such as an enhanced reconciliation proces and new free features including OCR.
Middle East investment platform Sarwa is launching the first zero-commission trade service in the UAE ahead of a double-digit fundraiser. The tool enables clients to buy and sell stocks as well as funds through the Sarwa app, as well as $0 commission trades of global stocks and ETFs.
There’a new retail banking platform for Cypriot bank Hellenic Bank. Built in partnership with engagement banking technology provider Backbase, the app includes peer-to-peer payments, biometric approvals of payments and transfers, and transaction search functionality.
Mastercard has rolled out its first digital South African Girls4Tech Connect programme at a school in Johannesburg. Launched in 2014, Girls4Tech offers activities and a curriculum built on global science and math standards. The programme has expanded to cover topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Meanwhile, Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai’s industry-focused accelerator programme has concluded with 11 startups pitching their ideas. The Demo Day was exclusively live-streamed from the recently launched PwC Experience Centre in Dubai. Since 2018, more than 30 fintech startups in the fields of payments, lending and Islamic digital banking across three cohorts have graduated.
Emirates NBD, a banking group in the MENAT (Middle East, North Africa and Turkey) region, has integrated its website with UAE PASS, the secure national digital identity and signature solution. Emirates NBD is among the first banks in the country to integrate with UAE PASS, implemented jointly by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Abu Dhabi Digital Authority and Smart Dubai organisations.
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider Zip has been selected by BigCommerce as an ‘elite partner’. Zip will provide flexible digital payment options to BigCommerce’s network of more than 60,000 merchants, globally. Listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, Zip has operations across the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and in the US via Quadpay.
Standard Chartered has entered into a strategic partnership with BlackRock’s Aladdin platform to offer integrated front-to-back office investment management solutions to mutual clients across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Through’s BlackRock’s network, asset managers and asset owners can access real-time data and streamlined operational workflows across the investment management lifecycle.
Meanwhile, ClearBank, the cloud-based clearing bank, is supporting payments provider RationalFX, with a range of tailored payments services. The partnership enables RationalFX and Xendpay – both part of the Rational Group – to offer customers a combination of sort code, account numbers and an addressable IBAN. In addition to access to real-time Faster Payments, BACS and CHAPS payment rails.
BSO, the infrastructure and connectivity provider, has expanded its reach into Asia through a partnership with the Asia Pacific Exchange (APEX). The partnership will provide APEX customers with added infrastructure solutions helping futures traders gain faster, more secure access to international markets via BSO’s global network.
Finally, cloud-native payment processor Paymentology has joined forces with Philippines payments provider Paynamics. The partnership Paymentology’s payment capabilities to the Paynamics platform in the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, and also represents an important expansion to Paymentology’s strategy in the Asia Pacific region.