The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup sees Monese launch new BaaS platform and strategic partnership with Investec Bank. While Wallet Factory has launched E-kyash, a digital wallet to help boost financial inclusion in Belize.
Investing app Freetrade has appointed Paul Brooking as CFO. He joins from Revolut, where he served as deputy CFO and head of financial control. Freetrade has grown key metrics fourfold in a year and also unveiled plans to expand across Europe as it scales operations in its Stockholm office.
Kneip, the fund data management firm, has hired Cyril Molitor as its new chief operating officer. He was most recently the CEO of Woven, the outsourcing provider. Following his arrival, current COO, Mario Mantrisi, becomes strategy director.
Meanwhile NM Money Group founder Peter McNamara is stepping down as CEO. The operator of UK ATMs has appointed Philip Bowcock as his replacement. Prior to joining NM Money Group, Bowcock served as Group CEO of Countrywide plc. The company has also unveiled Jana Hile as its first chief strategy officer.
Payment provider HPS has added Meryem Chami and Nathalie Rouvet Lazare to its board as independent directors. They replace the resigning Anne Cobb and Isabelle Aguillera. Chami and Rouvet Lazare will also sit on HPS’ audit committee and the appointments and remuneration committee.
Fintech Thunes has appointed Irina Chuchkina as chief marketing officer while Babul Balakrishnan joins as head of customer care. Both executive hires will be based in Singapore and support Thunes’ global growth strategy. The appointments follow Thunes’ acquisition of payments platform Limonetik.
Nucleus CTO Andrew Smith is named chief technology officer for the combined Nucleus and James Hay platform group. Smith joins other senior appointments to the combined leadership team – Richard Warner (COO), Alex Kovach (CCO) and Alison Longbottom (CPO) – following James Hay’s acquisition of Nucleus last month.
Finally, Africa Fintech Network has appointed Ali Hussein Kassim to its executive board. He is the pioneer chairman of Association of Fintechs in Kenya.
Mergers and acquisitions
Gargash Group has announced the acquisition of Deem Finance, a consumer finance business in the UAE. The acquisition will deepen and expand Gargash Group’s financial services offerings within the market and further accelerate the Group’s ability to meet its strategic growth plans. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Funding and investments
AI recommendation engine ABAKA has closed a $6million second tranche of its Series A investment. The round was co-led by Lingfeng Capital and Thames Trust, with additional investments from both new and existing investors. ABAKA will use the funding to support its international expansion in Asia as well as ongoing development of its AI-powered hyper-personalised recommendation engine.
Mastercard invests $5million in historically Black colleges and universities to drive innovation and economic inclusion. The funding, delivered by the Mastercard Impact Fund, is part of the company’s $500million, five-year commitment to advance racial equity and economic opportunity through city programmes to support Black communities and businesses.
Fintech dopay raises $18million Series A round to grow its next generation virtual banking platform. It will use the funding to continue scaling rapidly in Egypt, while building a range of financial services in addition to cashless payroll and prepaid cards for employees. The round was led by Force Over Mass Capital, FMO and NN Group.
Swapi, a loyalty card ewallet app, has secured an £860,000 pre-seed fundraise ahead of its launch this October. Following the investment, Swapi has appointed Carolina Paradas-Mandato as its new head of strategic partnerships. It will also use the funding to rollout the Swapi app in October.
Investors KR1, DFG, CMS, DigiStrats, FOMOcraft, Bitscale Capital, PNYX Ventures and CMT Digital and Faculty Capital have helped DeFi lending platform Minterest raise $6.5million. The Minterest protocol provides users with decentralised token money market.
Crowdcube CEO Darren Westlake and colleagues raise £1.6million seed investment for payment platform startup Juno. The paytech interfaces with every major European bank through the Open Banking framework. Westlake serves as co-founder and advisor at Juno alongside fellow tech and fintech entrepreneurs Pete Bailey and Michael Wilkinson.
Partnerships and collaborations
Plug and Play, the innovation platform, has partnered with accelerator and investment platform INTEMA. INTEMA joins Plug and Play’s global ecosystem, leveraging the platform to support its comprehensive digital
transformation strategy in the field of artificial intelligence.
SkipCash, a mobile payment app in Qatar, has partnered with more than 250 brands. A new partnership with Capstone Real Estate lets its clients pay their monthly rent through SkipCash. The company has also partnered with Regency Travel, letting customers complete their bookings through SkipCash and Starlink.
Open finance partnership platform mmob has added small business lender iwoca to its network of third-party digital finance providers. The partnership lets banks and other large financial institutions embed small business loan provision into their digital ecosystems.
London Stock Exchange Group’s (LSEG’s) Turquoise Plato now connects to OpenFin, the operating system for enterprise productivity. Turquoise on OpenFin delivers an insightful data feed directly into trader workflows to support liquidity discovery and decision-making processes leveraging OpenFin’s open architecture.
Monese, the pan-European fintech, launches a banking-as-a-service platform as well as a strategic partnership with Investec Bank plc. As part of the strategic partnership, Investec leads the first close of Monese’s ongoing Series C, bringing the total raised by Monese to $162million. Lyndon Subroyen, global head of Investec digital and technology, also joins the Monese board.
Clearco, the e-commerce investor, and MicroAcquire, the startup acquisition marketplace, have announced an exclusive e-commerce partnership. The partnership, which will pilot in the US, Canada and the UK, will help Clearco’s founders find a suitable acquisition to further bolster their growth.
IBM has forged a deal with European bank CaixaBank to boost its digital capabilities using the IBM Cloud for Financial Services platform. The deal will see IBM launching its first IBM Cloud Multizone Region (MZR) in Spain, consisting of three data centres and core network.
Meanwhile Thunes has teamed up with M-Pesa Tanzania to enable instant money transfers to bank accounts in Kenya and Rwanda. Since 2018, M-Pesa Tanzania has used Thunes’ cross-border payments network to enable remittances to most major e-wallets within East Africa. Following the new collaboration, businesses and individuals in Tanzania can now send money quickly across borders to all banks in Kenya and Uganda.
Visa partners with Arab Fintech Forum for the first edition of the convention, which will focus on the challenges and opportunities faced by fintechs. The forum takes place on 10 October 2021 at Park Hyatt Doha Hotel in Qatar. The Arab Fintech Forum will feature keynote speeches and panel discussions led by regional and international industry experts and professionals.
Cryptocurrency platform Crypto.com has teamed up with esports performance brand Fnatic as part of a multi-year deal worth $15million. Crypto.com branding will be featured on the collarbone of Fnatic team jerseys. Together they will also offer financial literacy and crypto education opportunities for those that are new to cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
Announcements and launches
German regulator BaFin approves first Bitcoin-based security token offering. BaFin has given the nod to the STO for game publisher Exordium‘s EXOeu token for the German market. Exordium has been hosting its STO on STOKR since January 2021 and raised more than $7.3million to date.
Yapily, the European open banking infrastructure provider, has expanded into France with significant investment, the opening of an office and appointment of an expert team. It aims to provide French banks and fintechs with a platform for innovation and international expansion. The launch in France follows the completion of its $51million Series-B fundraising round.
Avaloq Ventures goes independent and is renamed FiveT Fintech. The investment advisor of Avaloq’s fintech investment fund is being spun off from the group by means of a management buyout. The Avaloq Ventures fund provides investors with early-stage access to next generation players in the financial industry.
Meanwhile Conexiom has introduced The Conexiom Platform – the next generation of its cloud-based automation technology. The expansion includes supply chain and accounts payable automation solutions. The company also recently opened offices in London and Munich to help European customers drive greater revenue and reduce costs.
E-kyash, a financial mobile app, has successfully rolled out in the Belizean market. The banking app was developed by Wallet Factory exclusively for Belize Bank Limited to replace unsafe cash payments with more secure digital-driven operations. E-kyash aims to drive financial inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked communities in Belize.
Further updates and launches
Banking group Emirates NBD Group has launched a new and exclusive graduate programme called Ruwad. It is the largest investment the bank has made in a single talent management scheme. It is also the first of many initiatives to be introduced in response to the government’s federal NAFIS programme.
Wahed Inc, an ethical and halal investing focused fintech, has signed former MMA champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as brand ambassador to promote financial inclusion around the world. In his role, he will aim to bridge the investment gap by working with communities to increase financial literacy as well as social responsibility.
Mashreq Bank, a financial institution in the UAE, has launched a virtual draw called Roll the Ball for remittance transactions that are completed through Mashreq Neo, its full-service digital bank. Roll the Ball is designed as a gamified virtual draw experience – customers that make an international remittance above AED2,000 will be eligible to win prizes.