Moven Minds its Business in B2B Pivot

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Blame it on the ‘rona? In a transition announced earlier this week, Moven – which made headlines recently with its partnership with Saudi Arabia’s STC Pay – is moving away from the direct to consumer / neobank model to focus on what founder Brett King summed up as “our distributed smart banking and financial wellness capabilities.”

“It has become patently clear we need to focus our energies and our resources on the segment of our business where we can reach the most consumers moving forward,” King said.

The company specifically noted the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Moven’s funding pipeline as a leading factor in the decision. The company emphasized that its Enterprise business remains healthy and well-funded.

“The Moven brand now has the opportunity to represent patented financial well-being, available to enterprises of all types,” Head of Moven’s U.S. Strategy Denny Brandt said. “Our patent gives us competitive strength in a rapidly evolving B2B environment. We continue to be involved in ventures in multiple geographies where we power direct-to-consumer banking services.”

Moven announced that it will close customer accounts at the end of April. The company has begun to communicate with accountholders to let them know what to expect as well as to ensure a smooth transition.

Founded in 2011, Moven made its Finovate debut a few years later at FinovateEurope in London, earning a Best of Show award. The New York-based company, among the first to combine smartphone apps, debit cards, and bank accounts as part of a unified strategy for managing personal finances, launched Moven Enterprise in 2016 to license its technology to banks and other financial institutions. Moven Enterprise debuted on the Finovate stage at FinovateEurope in 2017, showing how its engagement platform brings value to customers while producing measurable, positive business outcomes for banks.

Notably, Moven’s partnership with STC Pay is not the company’s first foray into the MENA region. A little over a year ago, Moven announced that it was teaming up with Bahrain-based Almoayad Technologies, which is leveraging the company’s technology to help fulfill the open banking mandate from the country’s central bank.

Global Fintech and the COVID-19 Crisis

The fight against the coronavirus pandemic has captured the attention of people all over the world. From medical professionals on the front lines of caring for the sick to small businesses making hard decisions about how to keep their workforces intact during lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, everyone has been touched by the current crisis.

Earlier this week, we took a look at how fintechs and financial services firms are rising to the challenge of the COVID-19 outbreak. Looking at three different areas – safety, digitalization, and service – we saw how companies in countries ranging from Russia and India to the U.K. and the U.S. are lending their insights, talents, and generosity to the cause.

Companies like London-based Aire, a Finovate alum that is offering lenders three months of free access to its credit insight service, are an example of what is happening across the fintech space. “We’re seeing an unprecedented level of change in the market for consumers right now,” company founder and CEO Aneesh Varma said. “Lenders are understandably stretched and struggling to build accurate pictures of their customers in real-time.”

CoinDCX Cashes In: Two weeks ago we interviewed Neeraj Khandelwal, co-founder of Indian cryptocurrency trading platform CoinDCX, on cryptocurrencies and cashlessness. This week, we learned that the company has raised $3 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Polychain Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, and HDR Group. The capital will help the company launch new products, boost R&D efforts and marketing, and build the CoinDCX team.

“As the country’s largest exchange, we are in a position to drive national crypto adoption forward responsibly,” CEO and co-founder Sumit Gupta said. “This successful investment round will go a long way in funding our vision of accelerating India’s growth into a $5 trillion economy.”

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Kenya-based telecom Safaricom to waive fees for its M-Pesa mobile money service to help customers avoid cash during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Somalia’s MyBank to deploy Sharia-compliant, core banking technology from Path Solutions.
  • Ghana goes live with its Universal Quick Response (QR) Code and Proxy Pay system.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • SME Finance, a factoring services provider for businesses in the Baltics and Poland, picks up 10 million euro investment from new partner, Citadele Bank of Latvia.
  • Berlin, Germany-based, digital business bank Penta raises 18.5 million euros in new funding.
  • The COVID crisis has authorities in Russia decontaminating cash and urging citizens to use digital payments.
  • Erste Bank Hungary deploys mobile security technology from OneSpan.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • DriveWealth announces its first MENA region partnership: a collaboration with UAE-based wealth management firm, Wealthface.
  • Al Ansari Exchange taps Pelican for financial crime compliance.
  • Emirates’ World Investments commits to investment of $255 million in Australian challenger bank Xinja.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Mobile payments company HUMBL forges new partnership with Digital India Payments.
  • Singapore-based anti-fraud solutions provider Advance.AI opens offices in Bengaluru and Delhi.
  • Indian alt lender Vivriti Capital secures $50 million in Series B funding.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican SME lender Creditjusto raises $100 million in debt financing from Credit Suisse Group.
  • Brazilian fintech Creditas announces plans to boost staff by 500 by the end of the year.
  • Wirecard teams up with Mexico’s Banca Afirme as the German digital payments solutions provider extends further into the Mexican market.


  • TransferWise teams up with Alipay to enable fund transfers to China.
  • Bank of China launches its AI-based FX trading signal app via Eikon.
  • Thai remittance company DeeMoney goes live on RippleNet.

Top image designed by Freepik

KONSULTA’s Roland Woerle on Innovation, Incumbency and Insurtech

The impact of technology on the insurance industry continues to be one of the more underrated developments in fintech. And while the level of disruption varies from one region to another, the intersection of insurance and technology is the growing source of innovation.

This year at FinovateEurope, we spoke with Roland Woerle, founder and partner of, a boutique advisory firm, based in Austria, with a focus on the European insurance industry. KONSULTA helps insurers and brokers increase revenues, improve their customer experience, and manage business transformations.

“We are different, refreshing, highly-competent, fun, value-driven, and 100% customer focused,” Woerle described KONSULTA by way of introduction. “We are trying to help insurance players in their transformation, innovation, and customer/employee value propositions.”

Finovate Research Analyst David Penn talks technology and innovation in insurtech with KONSULTA’s Roland Woerle

Woerle is also senior representative at Vienna-based Match-Maker Ventures, where he helps startups that have already reached the proof-of-concept level scale their businesses. Previously, Woerle spent more than five years as Chief Operations Officer (Nordics/ Austria and CEE) for global financial services firm Aon, and more than ten years as Chief Operating Officer (Austria, CEE, CIS, and Nordics ) for leading insurance broker Marsh.

We talked about the role of technology in accelerating processes in insurance, and which business models benefit the most from the cost savings of technologies ranging from robotics to satellites. We also discussed the key distinction between companies with innovation teams and companies with innovation cultures, and the challenges businesses face in developing the latter from the former.

“Large insurance organizations they are still struggling with (this),” Woerle said. He pointed to issues with the company’s best and brightest often being pre-occupied with other, day-to-day tasks, as well as an incentive structure that does not reward what he called a “try and fail fast” approach to innovation, as major obstacles. Add to that insurance companies’ traditional risk aversion and it’s easy to see why “unconventional ideas,” as Woerle referred to them, face a challenging road to adoption.

Here are some of the top takeaways from our conversation with Roland Woerle this year at FinovateEurope in Berlin.

On platformification and the future of the insurtech

Woerle: (The platform economy) is highly relevant for insurance. We had a good debate in the afternoon, discussing where insurance companies might go into, and how they might become platform providers and solution providers for platforms. The industry as such might evaporate over time and morph into the platforms.

It’s a bit of a scary thought on the one hand. But, on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for those who actually partner with the right platform providers. They can actually grow and grasp new opportunities in the market.

On the main ways the technology is changing the traditional insurance business

Woerle: I think that there are probably three areas where technology is really changing (insurance). First of all, it primarily speeds up the processes along the insurance value chain. Whether it’s distribution, underwriting, customer service … there’s huge potential for claims … just to make the process faster.

I see also tremendous potential on the B2B side, especially the large B2B speciality insurance lines like marine, where you can actually use satellite tracking, blockchain contracts in much more innovative ways around data analytics to drive down the tremendous costs in that industry.

On the relationship between insurance incumbents and insurtech startups.

Woerle: It’s still a difficult relationship to make work. I guess it’s the same as in the fintech space. It’s one of the things that KONSULTA is actually focusing on. We are working with startups and working with industry leaders to better match them to make sure it’s a win/win case for both of them.

They need to be true partnerships. Incumbents cannot see a startup just as a supplier. This won’t work. They will fail any procurement process. They will not “tick the boxes” which they need to tick. (Incumbents) need to nurture (startups). They need to see them as strategic partners.

So bringing them together, speaking the same language, seeing where value is added on both sides, and how can they make a win/win situation … I think that is the way to succeed.

Watch the full, six-minute interview on Finovate TV.

ebankIT and Enterprise Engineering Forge North American Partnership

Finovate Best of Show winner ebankIT is working with fellow Finovate alum Enterprise Engineering (EEI) to launch a new omnichannel banking solution geared toward financial institutions in North America in general, and the U.S. in specific.

The collaboration will combine Enterprise Engineering’s experience as an integrator and advisor on digital transformation and open banking with ebankIT’s omnichannel digital banking platform.

“This partnership is an important step on the consolidation of our growth strategy for the North American market, where we already have a significant presence,” ebankIT CEO Renato Oliveira said. “With the change of both operations and customer service models, it is essential for banking organizations to have a flexible and sophisticated solution, capable of bringing a true omnichannel experience, which is exactly the main strength of ebankIT.”

The companies previewed this initiative back in February. The joint venture is geared toward helping banks and credit unions in the U.S. offer full-service banking capabilities, including leading-edge technology solutions, to their customers. EEI and ebankIT are marking this latest development in their relationship with a series of educational, half-day seminars on Open Banking beginning this month in New York City.

“This partnership represents a terrific opportunity for EEI and ebankIT,” EEI founder George Anderson said when the collaboration was announced. “Our product sets are extremely complimentary and are best-in-class in our target markets.” Anderson noted that the partnership will result in “impossibly fast time to market and ROI for our joint customers.”

Founded in 2014 and maintaining offices in Porto, Portugal and London, U.K., ebankIT demonstrated its Digital Concierge 2.0 solution at FinovateEurope earlier this year. The technology unites financial and third party services via open banking integrations and channel analytics to provide relevant and engaging customer journeys.

Enterprise Engineering participated in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley, presenting its Trusted Network Platform, an advanced data aggregation and management solution. A 2018 Industry Award winner, New York-based Enterprise Engineering was founded in 1995.

Fintech Joins the Fight Against the Coronavirus

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

How are fintech companies lending their technology and talent to help the world better manage the COVID-19 pandemic? From insights into the impact on financial services to digital identity solutions to help with remote medical services, fintech companies from across the world are all-in when it comes to coping with the current global health crisis.

One of the key early posts on the impact of the coronavirus on financial services was put together by Jim Marous, co-publisher of The Financial Brand, owner of Digital Banking Report, and host of the Banking Transformed podcast. Looking at both negative and positive impacts of coronavirus on fintech, Marous’ How Will the Coronavirus Impact the Banking Ecosystem, is an excellent first stop.

Another worthwhile read is Ron Shevlin’s Forbes column, which lists fintech companies that are providing technology help during the crisis. The continuously updated list, started on March 23rd, currently has more than 125 companies that are “extending free, discounted, or accelerated deployment offers to financial institutions.”

Here’s a look at three ways that fintechs and financial services companies are doing their part to make a difference.

Safety First

In times of crisis, leadership is paramount. Much of the fear and anxiety that comes with tough times can be alleviated by giving people and institutions clear guidelines on what the best practices are in order to manage the challenge.

In this regard, credit to the American Bankers Association for their guidance to community banks, issued earlier this week, on the importance of communicating “early and often” with customers. As a dinosaur who still visits his bank branch a couple of times a month, I have found it fascinating – and a little disconcerting, at first – to watch my local bank transition from gloved bank tellers (and no more free cookies!) to drive-up service only.

With this in mind, the ABA both encouraged branches to emphasize their digital channels, as well as provided suggestions on how to make in-branch visits safer for those customers who still required that access. Similar recommendations on personal responsibility (“if you feel sick, stay home”) as well as social distancing were made for bank employees whose jobs require them to be physically onsite.

Go Digital

The trend toward cashlessness and digital currencies is one area of fintech that will be positively affected by the social distancing of the COVID-19 crisis. Both the central bank of Russia and the National Payment Corporation of India have urged citizens in their respective countries to use digital payments in lieu of cash to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Africa, where mobile payments have helped contribute to financial re-inclusion, is also finding these technologies to be a potential resource for supporting public health. With cash deemed a conduit for the spread of the coronavirus by the World Health Organization, countries where mobile payment technologies are emergent are likely to see an even more accelerated rate of mobile and digital payments adoption.

Note that Safaricom, the telecommunications company behind the region’s leading mobile money service, M-Pesa, announced that it would waive fees on all P2P transactions under $10 for three months. Mobile money services in Ghana also have been encouraged by the country’s central bank to waive fees and lower KYC requirements to ensure access.

Maybe the image of a dystopian future in which books are incinerated will be replaced by one where massive bundles of cash put to the figurative – if not literal – torch. ” ATM Marketplace’s David Jones recently reported a conversation with an analyst who granted that reports of cash being disinfected or burned in Asia are making a pretty good case for the future of contactless payments.

Serve Somebody

Conducting their normal operations is one of many challenges businesses are facing at present. Fortunately, firms like U.K.-based challenger bank NorthOne are providing free banking services to SMEs and restaurants during the crisis.

“Small business owners across the country are having incredibly hard conversations right now around the kitchen table and desperately trying to figure out how they can keep the lights on through this crisis,” NorthOne co-founder and CEO Eytan Bensoussan said. “The last thing they need to worry about is finding a branch or paying bank fees.”

But the loss of revenue due to the various lockdowns and stay-at-home orders issued in many countries is even more of an acute problem. While governments haggle over publicly-sourced solutions for small businesses, a group of U.K. fintechs in the lending business – Trade Ledger, Wisefunding, and NorthRow – have teamed up to offer a turnkey origination and underwriting platform to enable banks and lenders to digitally fund SMEs.

“The government’s capital injection is a massive boost to an underserved market at an extreme time of need,” Trade Ledger CEO Martin McCann said, “but it’s impact will be lost if lenders aren’t able go get these loans to their customers quickly.”

The technology community in general, and to some degrees fintech, as well, has come under various strains of criticism of late. From overvaluation to questions of work culture to concerns that the innovations of Silicon Valley increasingly cater to the young and affluent, many of these critiques have merit. But all that said, as many of these companies are showing, there may be in the current crisis an opportunity for technology – and fintech – to remind the world of its enduring value to us all.

We would be remiss not to highlight our Finovate alums that are offering their services and solutions to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. These alums include Alpharank, Banno, Cunexus, Datanomers, Digital Onboarding, Finovera, Finscend, Horizn, Hydrogen, Inspirave, Invest Sou Sou, Kasasa, Moxtra, Pinkaloo Technologies, Plinqit, Q2, StreetShares, Temenos, and Teslar Software.

Arkose Labs Locks in $22 Million for its Fraud Fighting Technology

In a round led by Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, anti-fraud solutions provider – and FinovateSpring Best of Show winnerArkose Labs has raised $22 million in Series B funding. The round, which takes the company’s total capital to more than $36 million, also featured participation from existing investors PayPal and USVP.

“Our platform takes a zero-tolerance approach to cyber-attacks and our team is committed to putting a stop to the global fraud epidemic,” Arkose Labs CEO and founder Kevin Gosschalk said. He praised both Microsoft and M12 for their recognition that the challenge of cybersecurity is to “eliminate fraud, rather than contain it.”

Global Head of M12 Nagraj Kashyap noted that Microsoft was no stranger to Arkose Labs’ work in fraud-fighting. “Multiple Microsoft businesses are already benefiting from this innovative technology,” he said. “With Arkose’s end-to-end anti-fraud platform, enterprises across the globe can better protect against fraud and abuse long-term.”

San Francisco, California-based Arkose Labs offers an authentication system that identifies the context, behavior, and reputation of requests, recognizing them as either authentic or inauthentic. Authentic requests are passed through, while inauthentic requests are remediated with a set of dynamic defenses. Requests that cannot be recognized are processed via a challenge-response mechanism until there is evidence of the request’s authenticity. This process also helps improve the platform’s real-time decisioning, reducing the number of false positives over time.

The platform helps defend against a variety of threats including ATO (account takeover), scraping, spam, gift card abuse, and other fraud. Microsoft Director of Identity Security Alex Weinert credited Arkose Labs for offering a cybersecurity solution that is as efficient as it is effective. “Arkose Labs’ technology is an important component of our multi-pronged approach to minimize fraud without negatively impacting legitimate customers,” he said.

Arkose Labs said that the funding will help drive platform development and fuel global expansion, as well as enable the firm to add talent. The investment comes in the wake of the firm’s near doubling of its customer base and the introduction of a number of platform enhancements. These additions include new functionality for Arkose Detect, the platform’s dynamic risk engine, and for Arkose Enforce, the platform’s adaptive step-up mechanism.

“2019 was a banner year, with our platform detecting and preventing $500 million fraud attacks over the last twelve months,” Gosschalk said in January, “saving our customers hundreds of millions in fraud losses and operational costs.”

Founded in 2015, Arkose Labs was recognized by CNBC in its 2019 Upstart 100 roster. The company’s VP of Marketing and Strategy, Vanita Pandey, and Senior Producer, Hedda Peters, won Women in Cybersecurity awards at Cyber Defense Magazine’s Cyber Defense Global Awards last fall.

TheWaay, Neo Digital Banking and Serving the Mass Affluent Market

Making banking more compatible with the everyday lives of consumers is one of the top goals of fintechs everywhere. London-based fintech startup, TheWaay, which made its Finovate debut last year in Dubai and followed that appearance with a Best of Show winning return to the Finovate stage a few months later in Singapore, has built a solution designed to do just that.

Founded in 2016, TheWaay offers a Lifestyle Banking platform that helps banks and other financial institutions better understand and meet the needs of their customers. The platform’s Lifestyle Assistant leverages deep behavioral profiling to give users personalized lifestyle advice and suggestions on financial services and banking products, as well as travel and e-commerce opportunities that might interest them. The technology helps financial services firms increase customer engagement and transaction volume, as well as grow revenue through increased up-sell activity.

“This product organically grew from inside our company for one reason,” company CEO Ivan Kochetov said during a demonstration of the company’s Digital Family Office solution at FinovateAsia. “We were sad because everybody was doing neo and digital banking for the mass market, and nobody was doing neo and digital banking for people like you and I, for the affluent market, for the premium market. Is it fair? No.”

TheWaay CEO Ivan Kochetov

For TheWaay, this neo digital banking solution for the affluent market should be about more than changing designs, Kochetov said. Instead, it should be about “new value (and) new promise.” The goal is to provide what Kochetov called “the first digital family office” for the affluent market that works within an institution’s banking app to provide a private banking level of service.

We caught up with Kirill Lisitsyn, Head of Business Development with TheWaay, who facilitated our email conversation with company CEO Ivan Kochetov earlier this year. The transcript of our exchange follows.

Finovate: Congratulations on winning Best of Show at your first Finovate event! What was your experience at FinovateAsia like? 

Ivan Kochetov: Thanks a lot! Oh, that was incredible! It was our first step to test the ground in Asia and we surprisingly got the award! 

Finovate: For those who are just getting to know your company, what problem does TheWaay solve? 

Kochetov: We are a fintech startup aiming to shift current “old school” communications between bank and its customers to a new way of personalized non-banking communications based on customers’ lifestyle and needs. And we believe that this is the right way to support banking industry transformation in the era of the engagement economy. 

Finovate: How does TheWaay solve the problem better? 

Kochetov: We develop a software that is called Lifestyle Banking Platform. We help banks to understand people and become a Lifestyle Assistant for their customers to boost daily engagement, card transactions and up-sell metrics in their mobile banking app. We use over 500 attributes for each customer and a model trained with over 1 billion in transactions. 

Finovate: Who are your primary customers? 

Kochetov: We are a B2B2C business. Historically we have been building our expertise within banking industry, but now also see the growing interest from telco and retail industries as well. Especially accounting the trend for virtual banking, you do not need huge branches network to become a bank and serve customers. But once you are a digital-only bank you need to engage your customers in your digital channels. And here we could definitely help. 

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge? 

Kochetov: The core of our team has a well-balanced mix of background in behavioral psychology, machine learning, product development and in implementing innovative tech and consulting projects for large financial institutions. 

CEO Kochetov and Head of Business Development Kirill Lisitsyn at FinovateAsia 2019 in Singapore.

Finovate: Tell us about a favorite feature of your platform. 

Kochetov: Ha! You know, based on our user surveys and the metrics we track, we figured out that one of the favorite features of our Lifestyle Assistant product is the advice on how to spend one day of a weekend. Users do not have to worry about what to do on their free day; our system will suggest a set of recommendation and ideas coupled with geo-routes, all based on user’s lifestyle, interests, and preferences. 

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from TheWaay that we can look forward to over the next few months? 

Kochetov: We plan to launch several pilot projects of our Digital Family Office product that we presented on Finovate Asia. We successfully delivered PoC projects, and now very much look forward to scaling that success. Also we have prioritized our international expansion and plan to get few international contracts within next 3-6 months. 

Finovate: Where do you see TheWaay a year or two from now? 

Kochetov: We plan continue our rapid growth which will be supported by our presence in 3-4 large international markets and focus on 2-3 industries. Also we aim to sign one or two global mutually-beneficial partnerships which could even speed-up our expansion.

Revolut Arrives in the U.S.A.

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Revolut, the London-based fintech and alternative bank that reached unicorn status in 2018, has finally made its move to America.

The financial services company has racked up more than 10 million customers in the U.K. and Europe since its launch in 2015. Now an option for banking customers in the United States, Revolut enables users to send free, real-time payments, and make fund transfers and exchanges at the interbank rate in 28 currencies. Customers can also use the app to manage their financial lives more efficiently with instant spending alerts, budget categorization tools, bill-splitting, round-up savings on transactions, and card controls. Those who select direct deposit can get their wages up to 48 hours in advance of their regular pay date.

“America, we come bearing good news in these uncertain times,” the company’s Head of Marketing and Communications Chad West announced on the Revolut blog this morning. “Imagine, one app to manage your entire financial life.”

The Revolut app is available for both iOS and Android. Once the user downloads the app and enters their information, the verification and approval process takes only a few minutes after which the new customer can begin making deposits and sending money.

Deposits in the U.S. are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 (thanks to a partnership with Metropolitan Commercial Bank). Revolut customers have access to more than 55,000+ ATMs in the U.S. and around the world.

“When spending or transferring money overseas, most people are unaware of the hidden fees that banks are charging them,” Revolut founder and CEO Nik Storonsky said. “The world is becoming more connected, and financial services should be supporting this notion, not hindering it.”

Last month Revolut announced a $500 million fundraising that boosted the company’s total capital to $836 million and gave the firm a valuation of $5.5 billion. Revolut recently unveiled its digital money management accounts for children (and their parents), Revolut Junior. The company, which was an early pioneer in cryptocurrency holdings, also introduced a new service this month that will enable its customers on its Premium and Metal plans to make in-app purchases of gold.

Digital Banking Startup One Raises $17 Million in Series A

Are middle class banking customers a silent majority that can be successfully marketed to as a cohort of their own?

That’s the wager of former PayPal and Intuit CEO Bill Harris, whose digital bank for middle class Americans, One, has just raised $17 million in funding. The capital infusion brings the San Francisco, California-based firm’s total capital to $26 million.

“Middle-class American families are being left out, and we built One specifically for them,” Harris said. “One will combine the technology and convenience of challenger banks with a full-suite of products that traditional banks offer.”

The Series A round featured participation by Foundation Capital, Core Innovation Capital, and Obvious Ventures. Harris initiated the round last year in partnership with One CEO Brian Hamilton, formerly the CEO of Azlo. The digital bank is in private beta now and is slated for a launch this summer. One will offer competitive rates for savers, and combine debit and credit into a single account with one card.

“The current financial system breaks up the money people earn into silos, making it hard for busy families to stay on top of their banking and credit accounts,” Hamilton explained. “Most people have a balance in their checking account that earns nothing and outstanding debt on their credit card that costs too much.”

One accountholders earn 3% APY on their balances when saved via One’s Auto-Save feature (1% APY on other saved balances), and can borrow at a monthly rate that is as low as 1%. No interest is charged on funds repaid within the borrowing month, and accountholders can increase their credit limit by setting up direct deposit.

One also supports shared “pockets” for saving, spending, and borrowing, to make it easier to share funds with family members, roommates, team members, and others. The digital bank charges no overdraft or cash advance fees, does not require a minimum balance, and provides access to more than 55,000 ATMs.

“One is designed to maximize a family’s hard-earned paycheck by unifying saving, spending, and borrowing into one account,” Hamilton said. “When this money is being managed from one place, people save more, are charged less, and gain control.”

Microsoft-backed Digital Asset Company Bakkt Raises $300 Million

With the support of PayU and Microsoft’s venture capital division M12, digital assets startup Bakkt has picked up a whopping $300 million in Series B funding. The round, which closed last Friday, also featured participation from Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital, Pantera Capital, and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Bakkt’s parent company.

“Bakkt launched two years ago with the vision of building trust in and unlocking the value of digital assets for institutions and consumers alike,” company CEO Mike Blandina wrote in a blog post earlier this week. He pointed to the company’s launch last year of its end-to-end regulated market for bitcoin, as well as its institutional bitcoin custody offering, as examples of how the Atlanta, Georgia-based startup has been “focused on delivering that vision.”

These examples will soon also include a new app, slated for a summer launch, that will enable users to maximize the value of a widening variety of digital assets – from loyalty and rewards points to cryptocurrencies.

“Bakkt gives users control over their digital assets,” Blandina wrote. “Whether it’s miles from your favorite airline, loyalty points from the local grocery store, or bitcoin you’ve purchased, the Bakkt app enables you to aggregate all of these assets into a single digital wallet.”

The funding takes the company’s total capital to more than $482 million, and adds to its more than $1 billion valuation. Proceeds from the Series B will be used to help fund parent company ICE’s acquisition of loyalty solutions provider Bridge2 Solutions. Bakkt will leverage Bridge2 Solutions’ partnership network, and its Loyalty Pay offering, to help build and launch products of its own.

Powering more than 4,500 loyalty and incentive programs, including programs for seven out of the top ten financial institutions and two of the largest U.S. airlines, Bakkt was founded in 2018.

TransferWise Teams Up with Alipay to Enable Fund Transfers to China

Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

A collaboration between TransferWise and Chinese payments and lifestyle services platform Alipay will enable TransferWise’s more than seven million users to instantly send yuan to Alipay users. All that senders require is the recipient’s name and their Alipay ID to have funds from 17 different currencies converted to Chinese yuan and transferred to the account linked to the recipient’s Alipay profile.

“Our newest partnership with Alipay has been one of the most requested features from our users since our expansion to Asia,” TransferWise CEO and co-founder Kristo Käärmann said. “Alipay functions as the primary payment method for more than a billion people in China and we are excited to be bringing instant international transfers to the fingertips of Alipay’s users.”

Käärmann added that working with Alipay helps TransferWise move closer to fulfilling its Money without Borders mission, “and is a continuation of our vision of making cross border payments, instant, convenient, transparent, and eventually free.”

Transferees will also benefit from being able to send money based on the real exchange rate. Eligible currencies are GBP, EUR, BGN, CZK, DKK, HUF, NOK, PLN, RON, SEK, USD, CAD, AUD, HRK, HKD, SGD, and JPY. Up to five transfers to Alipay per month are permitted, with per transaction caps of 31,000 CNY, and an annual limit of 500,000 CNY. TransferWise is celebrating the new offering by giving fee-free, first transfers for the first 100 new customers – as well as a bonus payment of 10 yuan to the recipient on their first remittance from Alipay received. The promotion extends until April 8.

Working with Alipay represents a significant opportunity for TransferWise. Alipay serves more than one billion consumers around the globe, and China itself is believed to be one of the biggest remittance destinations in the world, with Chinese ex-pats abroad expected to send more than $66 billion (£54 billion) back home to China according to a 2019 report from the Migration Data Portal.

“We are committed to working with partners such as TransferWise, using innovative technologies to help global consumers gain access to inclusive financial services,” Alipay Head of Global Remittances Ma Zhiguo said, “creating greater value for society and bringing equal opportunities to the world.”

The announcement comes in the wake of TransferWise’s introducing global money transfers to six mobile wallet platforms in Indonesia (GoPay, Ovo, and Dana), the Philippines (PayMaya), and Bangladesh (bKash).

Founded in 2011 and based in London, U.K., TransferWise has been a Finovate alum since their FinovateEurope demo in 2013. The company has raised more than $772 million in funding, and has earned a valuation of $3.5 billion as of its May 2019, $292 million secondary share sale.

Octopus Ventures’ Nick Sando on Fintech Valuations and Building a Great VC Team

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One of the best ways to take the temperature of an industry is by talking to those helping fund it. Our conversation at FinovateEurope last month with Nick Sando, a member of the Future of Money team at Octopus Ventures, was a great opportunity to find out what venture capital is focusing on in 2020.

Octopus Ventures is one of the largest VCs in Europe and invests primarily in seed and Series A investments, two to five million. The firm has three principal focus areas: the Future of Health (health and wellness investments), DeepTech (industry 4.0) and fintech (or “Future of Money” of which Sando is a part), including payments, insurtech, credit, lending, and blockchain. “We’re pretty agnostic across the space,” Sando said.

Sando arrived at Octopus Ventures in 2018, after a career in which he founded companies like SaaS beauty and wellness platform Mojo and retail platform SnagTag. He notes that the benefit of co-founding two businesses what that it provided him with a “crash course in company building.” Sando added, “we had successes, failures, raised funding, and exited, all in a short space of time.” He has earned a double major in Finance and Economics from the University of Miami School of Business.

Asked where he and his fellow panelist on our All-Star Venture Capital panel believe the smart money is headed this year, Sando replied with a smile, “Well, there is always the theme ‘Is there correction coming?’ And there a lot of people who think that there is. So the smart money is probably the money that’s still there at the end of it!”

Here are some of the top takeaways from my conversation with Nick Sando this year at FinovateEurope in Berlin.

On valuations in fintech companies and the IPO v.s. acquisition debate

Sando: Investors (should) … look at businesses which are trading at multiples which, if they went public, they would be receiving the same multiples. In fintech, some of them are getting too large to be acquired. So going public is route to go down. I look at some of the challenger banks, for example. Who’s going to acquire them? They are so big now! I think the IPO route should be back on.

On the role of venture capital in helping startups become better businesses

Sando: Having such a large fund gives us the benefit of being able to invest into certain roles across the board. The most commonly helpful role that we can provide outside of money is generally hiring. We have various people, and a whole hiring function in Octopus – and that’s not for our internal hiring, its for our help our portfolio companies hire.

In fintech, these companies are global companies with big ambitions, so traveling for example, from Europe to the States is on nearly all of these company’s roadmaps. Therefore we have set up an office, for example, in the States which is purely just to help those companies make these transitions.

So I think, given there are so many fintech investors in the market, as a fintech founder, I’d ask myself, “I should really be getting a little bit more than cash, these days!” Because they deserve it.

On what makes for a successful and creative venture capital team

Sando: A VC team should be made up of very different thinkers. If you have a VC team with all the same way of thinking, you might as well just have one of those people. What a team needs, therefore, is whatever it lacks.

We generally lean toward people who are intensely curious, have a different opinion than ours, see the world differently – maybe they grew up somewhere else, maybe they were a founder themselves – I think over half our team (are founders) … I think that’s what makes really great investment teams as a whole, when people can argue and talk and debate different ways of thinking.

Watch the full, six-minute interview on Finovate TV.