The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup takes a look at the latest fintech stories from around the world. Here we catch up on recent investments and industry partnerships.
Dun & Bradstreet has appointed Rajat Somany as leader of international product strategy & development. The data and analytics provider says Somany will focus on expanding global solutions into new markets as well as driving innovation.
Russia’s VTB Bank has elected Natalia Dirks as a member of its management board in order to boost its fintech offering. Her role will include conducting and supporting key banking operations, as well as countering transaction fraud.
Property investment platform Brickowner has appointed former Barclays Wealth and Aberdeen Asset Management regulatory advisor Kenneth Green as head of compliance. He joins the London-based startup from regulatory consultancy Equilibrium Green.
Global fintech supplier Sandstone Technology appoints Michael Phillipou as CEO. Phillipou replaces Bob Hall, company co-founder and chairman, who has been filling the role since February this year. Previously, Phillipou held roles at organisations, including Westpac, Bendigo Bank and Lodex.
Finally, Simon Haslam, group chief executive officer at Network International Holdings, is retiring after 40 years in the financial services sector. He will be replaced by Nandan Mer, currently MasterCard strategy head of international markets, on 1 February 2021. Network says Nandan’s appointment follows a selection process supported by external advisers.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Admiral sells Confused.com to Zoopla Property Group (ZPG) – the owner of rival Uswitch – for £508million. The insurance giant plans to return the majority of the sale proceeds to shareholders. The deal sees Admiral sell its Penguin Portals arm – which includes Confused.com in the UK, as well as Rastreator.com in Spain and LeLynx.fr in France – to ZPG’s comparison site division RVU.
Specialist insurance broker Specialist Risk Group is to be acquired by middle-market private equity firm HGGC. SRG’s management team will invest alongside HGGC and continue to hold a significant stake in the business. As part of the private transaction, existing investor Pollen Street Capital will exit the business.
UAE-Israeli partnership agrees deal to buy payments firm Finablr for $1. Affiliate of Prism Group and Abu Dhabi’s Royal Strategic Partners will pay the nominal consideration and provide working capital. Finablr revealed hidden debts of around $1billion in April last year.
Partnerships and Collaborations
Vacuumlabs partners with Global Processing Services (GPS) — the payments processor behind Revolut and Starling Bank – to enable innovative solutions.
“At Vacuumlabs, we’re excited to have the opportunity to support an industry leader and continue on our mutual mission of building an ecosystem that drives innovation and digital transformation among fintechs, digital banks, and e-wallet providers.”
Business finance marketplace Funding Options has become a member of the SME Finance Forum. The Forum was established by the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion in 2012 as a knowledge centre for data, research and best practice in promoting SME finance.
Tyl by NatWest, the bank’s payment provider, has forged a nationwide partnership with UK fintech charity Pennies. Charities who have benefited so far include Macmillan Cancer Support, The Prince’s Trust and Hospice UK. Tyl is also donating a small proportion of profit to Pennies, to help the charity develop the digital micro-donation movement in the UK.
Mobile ordering firm wi-Q hooks up with payment provider Opayo to deliver hospitality-focused payments solutions. They say the partnership will prove crucial given the increasing reliance on the mobile ordering revenue stream.
Funding and Investments
Brightpearl has raised $33million in funding to scale its business. The Series C round was led by Sage, which has put $23million into the UK company. They say their partnership will accelerate digital transformation for retail customers. Brightpearl has seen new bookings increase 75 per cent in the last quarter of 2020.
InvestSuite, the international B2B wealthtech company, has completed a new funding round, raising €3million. It brings the total raised to €9million since inception in 2018. Existing investor PMV has ploughed in an additional €800,000 alongside AB Accelerator, 365.fintech and other investors.
Embedded finance provider Liberis adds £70m funding and venture debt in order to grow its business finance platform and help SMEs during the Covid pandemic. In the past two years, Liberis has increased its funding for SMEs by 40 per cent, launched in five new countries and added several new partners.
SEBA Bank, the Swiss bank, successfully completes Series B fundraising to fuel accelerating growth. All existing key shareholders and new investors from Switzerland, Europe and Asia participated in the capital raise.
Prime residential developer lender CapitalRise has secured £72million in additional institutional funding from a major financial institution. The new partner will fund loans alongside the company’s existing funding sources and facilitate its ability to underwrite additional loans.
Umba, the digital bank for emerging markets, raises $2million in funding backed by Ludlow Ventures and Lachy Groom. Currently operating in Kenya and Nigeria, Umba offers a mobile app but will now add debit cards, saving schemes and referrals in the coming months.
Africa-focused GOODsoil VC has invested in Ghana fintech startup Zeepay. Backed by the injection of $940,000 seed capital, Zeepay plans to extend its global reach by launching in the UK in 2021.
Industry Awards and Updates
MENAT banking group Emirates NBD is celebrating a slew of awards. Firstly, it scooped ‘Best Process Automation Implementation at The Asian Banker Financial Technology Innovation Awards 2020. Then it was named ‘Bank of the Year – UAE 2020’ and ‘Bank of the Year – Middle East 2020’ by The Banker – recognised for its innovation in digital banking.
Naua.org and Mastercard say their online donation platform has reached more than 600,000 direct beneficiaries over the past two years. Since its launch in 2018, the Crown Prince Foundation initiative, has raised more than JOD3.3million in donations, enabling it to engage with over 100 projects.
CaixaBank participates in a European research consortium to develop a personal data protection platform with another 11 international companies and organisations. The TRAPEZE (Transparency, Privacy and Security for European Citizens) project focuses on the protection of privacy and personal data.
Meanwhile, African Development Bank Group approves €400 million Lusophone Compact Guarantee programme to boost private sector development. It says the new Compact offers a big boost to business development initiatives for the Bank’s non-sovereign portfolio in its Portuguese-speaking African member countries.
Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Temasek-backed fintech iSTOX unveiled the first unicorn fund to be launched in digitised securities form. Following the listing, the minimum investment amount is reduced to $20,000 from the customary $100,000 to $1 million.
Meanwhile, FV Bank, the global digital bank based in Puerto Rico, has received permission to provide custody services for digital assets, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. It will offer custody services via its digital banking platform in early 2021.
Finally, the Central Bank of the UAE is introducing a new securities issuance programme to licensed financial institutions and eligible investors. Named Monetary Bills (M-bills), it will be available on 11 January. M-Bills replaces the existing conventional certificates of deposit programme.