The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup delivers the latest fintech partnerships, investment success stories and job appointments.
The Open Identity Exchange (OIX) has appointed Mags Moore as chair of its board. Moore leads the OIX executive committee and board to set strategy on key areas of digital ID, such as inclusion, interoperability and trust frameworks. Moore is also currently director of citizen and devolved government services at Sopra Steria UK.
Fintech Bitfrost has named Anton Chashchin as a managing partner to spearhead the firm’s international growth in Switzerland, the EU, Gibraltar and Singapore. The appointment follows the firm’s acquisition of OKONTO, where Chashchin served as chief business development officer. Bitfrost also plans to integrate its systems with the OKONTO digital assets platform.
Ryan Hasher has joined First Internet Bank as vice president of commercial banking. Prior to joining the bank, Hasher served as the VP and business banking relationship manager at BBVA USA. Hasher joins First Internet Bank’s Arizona-based commercial banking team.
Fintech startup YPay has unveiled plans to increase its workforce by 300 per cent in the next two quarters. Hiring will mainly be done across junior and mid-level management and the recruits would chiefly be based out of Noida, India. It will focus on boosting technology, sales and marketing.
Meanwhile, Jason Evangelista has joined insurtech startup Sproutt’s executive management team. He leads Sproutt’s agent platform and distribution channel. He will also provide strategic leadership in the expansion of distribution partnership opportunities and new product development.
Xero, the global small business platform, has appointed technology executive Alex von Schirmeister as managing director for the UK & EMEA. Previously, von Schirmeister led the European operations for small business payments technology company SumUp. Gary Turner, current MD, is retiring on 31 December but will continue in a global advisory capacity for Xero.
CloudBees, the enterprise software delivery company, has named Audrey Zhao as chief financial officer. Zhao oversees accounting, business operations, financial planning and analysis, legal and procurement. She most recently served as senior vice president of finance for Cloudera.
Andy Gandhi is returning to Kroll, a provider of services and digital products related to valuation, governance, risk and transparency. He takes on the role of MD and global leader of Kroll’s data insights and forensics practice in New York. Gandhi started his career at Kroll more than 20 years ago.
Meanwhile Talos, a technology provider for the trading of digital assets, has hired Samar Sen as head of Asia-Pacific. The hire follows a $40million Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Talos has also announced plans to open a Singapore office.
Blockchain.com, a cryptocurrency platform, has welcomed CJ Rinaldi as its chief compliance officer. Rinaldi will build out Blockchain.com’s global compliance frameworks, maintain a compliance programme, supervise client lifecycle management, as well as grow its compliance team.
CryptoUK has appointed Rob McWilliam as a non-executive director. McWilliam also has non-executive board appointments at Card Factory PLC and Jisc. He wants the development of a regulatory framework that builds trust, protects customers and also provides crypto businesses with a clear operating framework.
Deepki has welcomed Caroline Tailleferd as chief marketing officer. Her mission is to establish Deepki as a global leader for ESG in real estate and to accelerate the company’s growth in France and worldwide. She will also oversee brand positioning and communication.
Finally, WEX Inc has appointed Eric Frankovic as senior VP of a newly formed corporate solutions division. WEX’s corporate payments team has been split into two – corporate solutions as well as embedded payments. Greg Sassone, SVP, will lead the embedded payments team.
Mergers and acquistions
Mirakl, the enterprise marketplace SaaS platform, has snapped up Octobat, a French startup specialising in invoice compliance for global enterprises. The acquisition will make it easier for Mirakl marketplace operators to manage local and global regulations as it expands and operates across multiple geographies.
Funding and investments
Digital Horizon, the venture fund and investment company, has launched its second venture fund with a target volume of $200million. It builds on its first fund, which invested in high-growth businesses including Oxygen and Monday.com. This second fund will follow the same multistage strategy and will invest in both early and late stage companies.
Cheeze, a photography-focused NFT company, has closed a seed round of funding, in advance of an upcoming Series A raise in Q1 2022. The round was led by Olive Tree Capital with additional backers including Marc Randolph and James Vincent. Built on the Flow blockchain, and slated to launch later this year, Cheeze ‘tells stories’ using NFT technology.
Ziglu has raised a record £7.19million and closed its crowdfund campaign early. The fintech originally set out to raise £1million but was oversubscribed in 81 minutes following launch. Money raised from the Seedrs crowdfunding campaign, run in conjunction with a major Series A fundraise, will drive expansion at Ziglu.
Stratzy, an investment advisory platform, has raised $800,000 in a pre-seed funding round from Leo Capital, Titan Capital and First Cheque. The funding will bolster leadership and talent, obtain regulatory permits, and beef-up marketing, in a bid to acquire new users. The platform currently has 10,000+ users and plans to clock 1+ Million downloads, by the end of 2022.
Female Invest, an edtech platform that empowers women by increasing their understanding of personal finance and investing, has closed a £3.3million funding round. Investors included Y Combinator and Dr. Fiona Pathiraja. The platform currently offers video courses, master classes, weekly webinars with expert speakers as well as a members community page.
Puls Technologies, the on-demand home repair service platform, has secured a $15million investment as it launches an appliance warranty solution onto its mobile application. The funding round, led by Hanaco Venture Capital, aims to modernise the insurance market while enabling homeowners to access complete warranty on select appliances.
SaaS company Drata has announced a Series B funding of $100million and a valuation of $1billion. ICONIQ Growth led the round, along with Alkeon Capital and Salesforce Ventures. Existing investors GGV Capital, Cowboy Ventures and Leaders Fund also participated.
Indian fintech SaaS company ClearTax has entered into the Middle East through a $75million Series C fund raise. The raise led by Kora Capital, alongside Stripe, will accelerate Clear’s diversification into new business lines like B2B credit and payments. ClearTax plans to launch a series of SaaS product suites in the next few quarters.
Meow has raised a $5million seed round of funding. Coinbase Ventures, Gemini Frontier Fund, Lux Capital participated in the round. The company plans to provide access directly to decentralised finance protocols for crypto yield.
Bahrain-headquartered crypto exchange CoinMENA has secured $9.5million in its first Seed funding round. The round recorded participation from investors including BECO Capital, Kenetic, Arab Bank Switzerland, Bunat Ventures, Alameda Research, Rua Growth Fund and Girnas Capital.
UAE-based SaaS startup and rewards programme solutions provider Merit Incentives has raised $5million in its latest funding round. The Series A round was led by Impact46 along with Tech Invest Com, Arzan VC, Hambro Perks Oryx, and several regional angel investors.
Finally, buy now, pay later super app ZoodPay has raised $38million in its Series B round. Investors including Sturgeon Capital and Zain Ventures took part. The ZoodPay & ZoodMall app has more than eight million users and 10 offices across the Middle East and Central Asia.
Newly launched NFT music platform Token||Traxx has announced a partnership with blockchain Zilliqa. Token||Traxx will use the blockchain to help artists and fans engage and transact, including the evolution of royalty payments, rights ownership and playlists. The partnership includes a combined injection of $1.1million from both Zilliqa as a company and from its co-founder Max Kantelia.
ClearBank, the Cloud-based clearing bank, has unveiled a partnership with Recognise Bank, a subsidiary of City of London Group. The partnership sees ClearBank become Recognise Bank’s clearing bank, providing key account infrastructure and access to the UK’s payment schemes.
Standard Chartered has joined the SAP Multi-Bank Connectivity software-as-a-service cloud solution as a member bank. Standard Chartered is also among the banks supporting APIs with SAP Multi-Bank Connectivity. The bank has expanded its relationship with the SAP ecosystem following a strategic
collaboration with SAP Ariba in 2019.
Thunes, a Singapore-based fintech, has forged a partnership with software vendor Finastra. Thunes will integrate into Finastra’s SaaS payments connectivity platform – Fusion Total Messaging. The partnership will let Finastra’s existing 8,600 customers access new payment rails across 115+ markets.
Islamic fintech Ethis Group (Ethis), its social finance marketplace GlobalSadaqah and stock screener iSaham Sdn Bhd (iSaham) has officialised a strategic partnership to bolster retail market presence in Malaysia. The partnership also coincides with i-Saham’s fourth anniversary.
There’s also a partnership for Ocrolus, the automation platform that analyses financial documents, and Blend, a Cloud banking software firm. Its partnership will embed Ocrolus’ Human-in-the-Loop (HITL) document analysis solution within the Blend platform to accelerate digital mortgage applications.
Moneyhub, the open finance data, intelligence and payments platform, is partnering with financial health pioneer Otto to enable next-generation employee wellbeing benefits. Otto creates a complete picture of users’ financial situation, from investments, pensions and loans to mortgages, bank accounts and properties.
BrightPay, the payroll software provider, has extended its partnership with payments FinTech Modulr into its Irish customer base. Since the UK partnership between BrightPay and Modulr was announced in April 2021, more than £120million worth of payments have been made via payroll using BrightPay’s software.
TrueLayer, the global open banking firm, has collaborated with investment platform Lightyear to deliver instant account funding through open banking payments. The TrueLayer collaboration also improves Lightyear’s operational efficiency by removing costly transaction fees associated with cards and other payment methods such as PayPal.
Akt.io has secured a partnership with the HBAR Foundation to support the launch of the first DeFi app on the carbon-negative Hedera Network. Akt.io has been awarded a grant and will receive organisational support from the HBAR Foundation to fuel its launch and growth on the Hedera Network.
BSO, the infrastructure and connectivity provider, has become an approved international network provider for Brazilian stock exchange B3. B3 is the largest exchange in Latin America and BSO is now the lowest-latency vendor registered with the exchange and connecting international traders to the Latin American hub.
B2B Payments bank Banking Circle has joined the Danish national intraday clearing system. With this new clearing option, Banking Circle lets its clients offer their customers payments and collections in DKK in their own name rather than that of the financial Institution used to send the payment.
The Cryptocurrency Compliance Cooperative, a collaborative association led by Bitcoin ATM operators, has announced 11 new members. At its inaugural meeting, the CCC laid the groundwork for how the nearly 30-member group will focus its efforts to create a safer environment for consumers in the cash-to-crypto space.
Fintech Rapyd has announced new enhancements to its Disburse and Collect platforms. Rapyd has extended its Disburse platform capabilities across 200-plus countries along with regional and local currencies. In addition, Rapyd clients can now disburse with real-time payments in 50 countries. Rapyd clients can now also use virtual accounts to accept payments in Singapore and Europe.
RedCloud has announced the availability of its open commerce platform in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Nigeria, South Africa and Mexico. The platform, accessed via the Red101 app, now has a pipeline of one million merchants, with more than 270,000 merchant downloads to date.
Bank of the West, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, has launched TreasuryNow, a transformative treasury management platform that lets finance decision-makers to become strategic leaders. The TreasuryNow platform centralises essential treasury management services, providing a one-stop shop for companies that are looking to manage their payables and cash flow.
Global fintech Unlimint has unveiled plans to launch its own e-commerce platform for businesses looking to increase global digital presence and expand the company’s clientele to SMEs by end of 2022. Its mission is to make e-commerce affordable and available for merchants worldwide.