Will a Hackathon Help the Fight Against COVID? A Spotlight on Fintech in Asia


The world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and financial services and fintech companies are no exception. We’ve taken a look at how lenders are working to help small businesses struggling with cash flow challenges, and how firms are offering their services free of charge during the crisis to help businesses continue operating with as little interruption as possible.

Beyond this, a number of institutions around the world have taken more innovative approaches to helping manage the dislocations caused by COVID-19. Stockholm, Sweden-based Swedbank, for example, has supported hackathons in Latvia and Lithuania dedicated toward finding solutions to help businesses and individuals deal with COVID-19 related issues. The firm announced today that it is sponsoring a global hackathon in April, called “The Global Hack” to broaden the effort to get fintechs involved in the effort.

Swedbank is specifically sponsoring the economy track of the hackathon, which Swedbank Head of Digital Banking and IT Lotta Lovén said would help drive innovation in products designed to help keep markets moving.

“We not only dive into topics that will help our customers and industry through these unprecedented times, but the results will also support the local communities and the society as a whole,” Lovén said.

The Global Hack event is also supported by the European Commission, the World Health Organization, The World Economic Forum, and LinkedIn, among others.

The Fintech Times has just published its special edition on Asia – guest edited by The Finanser’s Chris Skinner. And while the timing does not allow for much consideration of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on China’s fintech industry, a handful of articles nevertheless feature worth-reading insights on what that industry might look like on the other side of the current public health crisis.

Foremost among them – and having the most relevance for Western audiences – may be Jim Marous’ article, Tomorrow’s Model for Banking Exists Today. Marous, publisher of The Financial Brand, credits “big data, advanced analytics, modern digital technology and an innovation culture” for what he calls “the spectacular growth of innovative financial services in China.” The fact that this innovation is accompanied by – instead of being ahead of – successful financial inclusion makes the achievements of China’s techfin and fintech enterprises all the more worth learning from.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Payments platform Paysafe launches Paysafecash in Latvia.
  • Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB Bank, announces big data joint venture with telecom Rostelecom.
  • Polish payments processor KIR partners with Danish authentication solutions provider Cryptomathic.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • PayBy, a fintech based in Abu Dhabi, begins mobile payment services in the UAE.
  • Dubai-based Rise, which provides banking services to underbanked migrant workers in the UAE, raises $1.4 million in funding.
  • Mobile banking services provider Khazna secures seed funding in round led by Egyptian VC Algebra Ventures.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Recko, an Indian fintech that leverages AI to reconcile digital transaction plans, raises $6 million in Series A funding.
  • Fortune India looks at the impact of COVID-19 on India’s fintech industry.
  • The case for an “urgent adoption” of digital cash in Pakistan.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Uruguayn-Mexican fintech Mozper, which specializes in helping parents financially educate their children, raises pre-seed investment of $770,000.
  • Mexico-based digital payment processor Kushki locks in Series A funding in round led by DILA Capital.
  • Brazil’s Cora adds cash flow boosting feature to its SME platform that enables customers that are observing quarantines to purchasing vouchers today from their favorite merchant for goods and services to be picked up later.

Asia-Pacific

  • Japanese digital banking startup Kyash raises $45 million in Series C funding.
  • Hong Kong virtual bank Airstar Bank pilots its virtual banking service.
  • Ripple to power cross-border payments for Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African fintech TaxTim teams up with PwC to support expansion to Nigeria.
  • Zeepay Ghana wins approval for mobile money license.
  • Bank of Zimbabwe inks memorandum of agreement with Apollo Fintech to build a gold-based digital currency.

Top image designed by Freepik

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.

Asia-Pacific

  • 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

The Look at the Role of Cryptocurrencies in India’s Cashless Revolution

We recently shared the news that restrictions on the ability of banks in India to work with cryptocurrency exchanges was overturned by the country’s Supreme Court.

With this in mind, and given the growing interest in India as a fintech power, we spoke with Neeraj Khandelwal, co-founder of CoinDCX, a cryptocurrency trading platform and liquidity aggregator in India. The company, founded in 2018 and based in Singapore, recently won the Excellence in Finance – Companies award by FiNext. Last month, CoinDCX launched its cryptocurrency derivative trading platform, DCXfutures. Bain Capital Ventures is among the firm’s investors.

Finovate: The biggest news in India in terms of the cryptocurrency market has to be the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Central Bank’s ban on cryptocurrencies. What can you tell us about the impact of the ban and the effect of the ruling striking it down?

Neeraj Khandelwal: The banking ban was related to the suspension of banking relationships with individuals or businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies, but crypto businesses were still free to operate on their own. In response, CoinDCX innovated and offered peer-to-peer services for the buying and selling crypto through INR.

After the verdict, banking relations have resumed once again. CoinDCX became the first cryptocurrency platform in India to integrate bank account transfers, just six hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Today, we are seeing 10x growth in signups on a day-to-day basis. Our product, Insta, which allows customers to buy crypto with INR, has also seen high hits. Overall, the market is in an upswing.

Finovate: What is the potential of the cryptocurrency market in India? How widespread are cryptocurrencies now and what factors are driving growth in adoption in India?

Khandelwal: Less than five million people currently hold cryptocurrencies in India today. However, listing websites like exchangewar.info have shown that the highest volumes are coming from India, so there is indeed great potential here. With a population of over one billion, India stands to contribute significantly to a large part of the global crypto volume and the industry as a whole.

In India, there is a growing number of cryptocurrency exchanges and startups that are constantly innovating to strengthen and expand the industry. In addition, India holds many favourable advantages for cryptocurrency adoption—for instance, with an average age of 27 years, India has a huge working population with disposable income on the rise. 

Finovate: Many of us outside of India are fascinated by the country’s cashless experiment. At this time, what has been learned from that experience and what is the future of cashlessness in India?

Khandelwal: The writing on the wall is crystal clear that cashlessness is the way to go. This was first witnessed on an extremely large scale during the time of demonetization in late 2016. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which is the umbrella body for retail payments and settlements in India, revealed that the value of UPI transactions for December 2019 was INR 2.02 Lakh Cr. This figure is expected to grow as cashlessness brings greater convenience and faster transactions.

As cryptocurrencies are entirely digital, it promotes greater benefits for cashlessness in comparison to fiat currencies. I believe that in the coming years, the Indian economy will be built on the foundation of a cashless society, with both digital fiat and cryptocurrencies working in parallel.

Finovate: You are part of the founding team of CoinDCX. Can you tell us a little about the company, the market it serves, and the role it plays in helping pave the way for broader adoption of cashless technologies?

Khandelwal: CoinDCX specializes in crypto-enabled fintech services. Sumit Gupta and I founded CoinDCX in 2018, with a mission to connect billions of people to global financial markets. Today, CoinDCX is reputed to be India’s most trustworthy cryptocurrency trading platform and remains one of the strongest products in our service offerings. CoinDCX has empowered its traders with a bouquet of industry-first crypto-based products to trade better using liquidity from the world’s leading exchanges like Binance, Huobi Global and OKEx.

By bringing all crypto-trading products under a single roof, our products are designed to cater to all types of traders, keeping their experience, risk tolerance, and frequency of trading into consideration.

Our users have found the platform to be simple and effortless. Anyone can trade in 500+ markets with DCXtrade, convert their INR to cryptocurrencies and vice versa on DCXInsta, earn by lending their holdings with DCXlend, and leverage their trades up to 6X in 250+ Altcoins using DCXmargin.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Asia-Pacific

  • Alipay to encourage 40 million merchants and service providers to use its mini programs as competition with WeChat intensifies.
  • Hong Kong will soon have a new challenger bank as Standard Chartered’s Mox Bank opens for business later this year.
  • Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm turned super app company Grab to use Wirecard for payment processing.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Visa and Nigeria-based mobile money platform Paga forge strategic partnership to bring more security and convenience to mobile payments.
  • South African cloud platform builder Jini Guru teams up with product engineering firm Azilen Technologies to build fintech solutions for emerging markets.
  • Modern Ghana features WorldRemit Country Manager Gbenga Okejimi on the country’s fintech industry.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Total Croatia News features Microblink in its look at Croatian companies making the Financial Times’ 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Europe roster.
  • International Banker profiles Poland’s digital banking leader mBank.
  • Hamburg, Germany-based lender Kreditech rebrands as Monedo

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA) hires payments technology company HPS to provide a QR-based payments system.
  • Orange Money goes live in Morocco after receiving authorization from the Bank Al Maghrib.
  • Business Chief Middle East looks at the top 10 fintech startups in the Middle East and UAE.

Central and Southern Asia

  • FamPay, a Bengaluru, India-based fintech that is building a payments network for teens, picks up $4.7 million in seed funding.
  • Bloomberg Quint looks at the controversy over the Reserve Bank of India’s moratorium on Yes Bank and its impact on fintech companies in the country.
  • My Republica asks whether or not India’s cashless revolution can be extended to Nepal.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican fintech Clip launches new “point of sale in the palm of your hand” solution, Clip Total.
  • Born2Invest look at how fintech platforms are supporting female entrepreneurs in Mexico.
  • Fintech-as-a-service company Rapyd partners with Brazilian payment providers Dock and Banco Rendimento.

Top image designed by Freepik

Cryptocurrency Ban Overturned in India; TurnKey Lender Teams Up with Sambat

The ruling is subject to appeal. But for now, advocates for cryptocurrency trading in India have won the day: the Supreme Court of India has overturned a ban on cryptocurrencies that was issued by the Reserve Bank of India in 2018.

Specifically, the Reserve Bank forbade Indian banks from working with cryptocurrency exchanges out of concerns ranging from “consumer protection” to “market integrity.” And while India’s participation in the worldwide cryptocurrency market is modest (less than 5% when the ban was instituted), the reaction to the ruling was strong, with a number of cryptocurrency exchanges challenging the Reserve Bank in court. This week, the court sided with the exchanges, observing that no bank regulated by the Reserve Bank had been negatively affected by cryptocurrency trading before the ban, and that a complete ban was thus a disproportionate response.

That said, the ban is not yet a settled matter. The RBI plans to file a review petition with the Supreme Court, again citing systemic risk concerns for the country’s banking system should trading in cryptocurrencies be permitted. As of now, however, cryptocurrency exchanges and platforms in the country are free to operate, legal experts say.


FinovateAsia alum TurnKey Lender will help leading Cambodian financial services institution Sambat improve its loan application processing courtesy of a newly-announced partnership. Sambat, which serves both retail customers as well as micro, small, and medium-sized businesses, will use TurnKey Lender’s Unified Lending Solution to accelerate loan decisioning, increase portfolio profitability, and boost customer lifetime value.

TurnKey Lender CEO Dmitry Voronenko praised Sambat as one of Cambodia’s “early adopters of the fully digital approach to banking.” Managing Director for Sambat Harvey Poh called the deployment a “major milestone” and “a testament to our commitment to deliver digital financial services to our customers.”

Founded in 2014, TurnKey Lender has a U.S. headquarters in Austin, Texas, and maintains offices in Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the Philippines. The company was recognized by Frost & Sullivan’s Asia-Pacific Best Practices Awards at the beginning of the year, taking home top honors in the Singapore Fintech Industry New Product Innovation category.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazilian challenger bank Nubank launches its Nu credit card in Mexico.
  • Chilean venture capital fund Magma Partners closes its $50 million fund, the largest ever raised by the firm.
  • Peruvian fintech Ayllu announces project to map out of all the fintech startups in the country.

Asia-Pacific

  • Turnkey Lender forges partnership with leading Cambodian financial institution, Sambat Finance.
  • Huobi Thailand offers baht-to-crypto currency trading.
  • Mastercard to play leading role in Series B investment for Indonesian fintech Digiasia.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Cointelegraph takes a deep dive into the emerging fintech economies of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ghana.
  • A new payment license requirement may complicate life for Nigerian fintechs.
  • FLASH International, based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, announces an initiative to fund fintech startups in the country.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Wirecard partners with Estonia-based Xolo to serve the gig economy.
  • Finovate’s sister publication, Fintech Futures, profiles Polish digital banking provider and Finovate alum Efigence.
  • Polish asset manager Skarbiec TFI teams up with fintech solution provider NeoXam to enhance its portfolio management.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • The UAE’s National Bank of Fujairah to leverage the RippleNet network to provide real-time, cross-border fund transfers to India.
  • Dubai International Financial Center announces a tripling of the size of its Fintech Hive.
  • Monoco’s Privatam, which offers structured investment products, goes live in Dubai.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian SME lender SMEcorner raises $30 million in Series B funding.
  • Supreme Court of India overturns Central Bank’s ban on cryptocurrency trading.
  • Leap Financial, a fintech platform that specializes in providing financing to Indian students studying abroad, secures $5.5 million in round led by Sequoia India.

Top image designed by Freepik

Russia Gets a New Tech Billionaire as U.K. Fintechs Get Funded

Russia has a new tech billionaire. The $500 million raised by financial platform Revolut this week not only establishes the U.K.-based business as the country’s most valuable fintech. It also makes its founder and CEO, Moscow-born Nikolay Storonsky, the latest fintech billionaire to come from the Russian Republic.

The investment was led by Technology Crossover Ventures – a U.S. firm – and takes Revolut’s total capital to $836 million. Revolut now sports a valuation of $5.5 billion.

Storonsky’s net worth figure – on paper, at least – is based on a Forbes report from last February in which he noted that his stake in Revolut was being diluted to 30%.

As part of this big week for U.K. fintechs, SME lender iwoca picked up $109 million funding and expansion into Germany. B-Social, a social payments app based in London, raised $10 million ahead of its transformation into a fully-licensed challenger bank later this year. And Azimo partnered with fellow Finovate alum Ripple to facilitate cross-border payments to the Philippines.

This week on Finovate.com, we featured a profile of Innovate Israel founder and CEO Itai Green and his thoughts on open innovation and collaboration between corporates and startups. We also highlighted Finovate newcomer Sonect, a Swiss company that demonstrated its Best of Show winning virtual cash network at FinovateEurope earlier this month.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian fintech PhoneParLoan announces new investment from accelerator MOX. The amount of the funding was not disclosed.
  • Bengaluru-based digital billpay company XPay Life goes live in India.
  • Envestnet | Yodlee acquires Indian data aggregator FinBit.io.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • AlphaCredit, a Mexico City-based fintech, raises $125 million in round led by the SoftBank Innovation Fund.
  • Mexico issues its first license – to NVIO Pagos Mexico – under its new fintech law.
  • U.S. Bancorp’s merchant acquirer subsidiary, Elavon, sells its Mexican operations to banking group Santander.

Asia-Pacific

  • Azimo taps Ripple for cross-border payments to the Philippines.
  • Philippines-based Tonik Financial raises $6 million ahead of the launch of its new digital offering.
  • Malaysia’s biggest telecom, Axiata Group, is the latest company in the country to announce plans to pursue a digital banking license.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South Africa’s Jumo raises $55 million in combined debt and equity funding.
  • Nigeria’s The Nation looks at how fintech empowers startups.
  • Kenyan B2B e-commerce platform Sokowatch locks in $14 million Series A funding.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Mastercard expands its partnership with Rakuten Viber to bring P2P payments to Romania.
  • A new $500 million funding round for Revolut makes the company’s founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky Russia’s latest tech billionaire.
  • Apple Pay goes live in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Kashat, an Egyptian mobile app that offers short-term loans of up to $95 to the underbanked, goes live in Cairo and Alexandria.
  • Jordanian SME lending marketplace Liwwa raises $5 million in growth funding.
  • A new agreement between Tencent Holdings and Network International will expand WeChat Pay’s presence in the UAE.

Top image designed by Freepik

OTB Ventures Goes Big on CEE Startups; Analysts Share Insights on Indian Fintech

With a commitment of $100 million (€92.4 million), Poland-based OTB Ventures will spend the next few years helping back some of the most innovative tech startups in Central and Eastern Europe.

The investor, whose funding is backed by the European Investment Fund (EIF) will target “post-product startups” developing solutions for fintech, cybersecurity, AI, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and other advanced technologies. Known as the biggest venture capital fund in the CEE region, OTB Ventures said it wants companies with “unique intellectual property” and “disruptive ideas.”

“CEE is a cradle of talented engineers and IT specialists, pioneering innovative companies,” OTB managing partner and co-founder Marcin Hejka explained. We see a huge investment potential in these companies with up-and-running products and initial business traction in international markets. The purpose of our fund is to discover, develop, and realize this potential on a global scale.”

OTB Ventures includes AI and consumer analytics firm Cosmose, regtech innovator Silent Eight, and digital transformation solution provider – and Finovate alum – FintechOS – among its more recent investments. With its new fund, OTB plans to commit approximately $15 million to 16 companies, taking stakes of 10% to 15%. OTB’s largest investment in a single company to date was the $10 million in company invested in micro-satellite company Iceye in 2018.


Report Season for Indian Fintech: A number of analyst organizations have picked the second half of February to release their latest insights on fintech in India. In addition to the report from IBS Intelligence noted below, content marketing platform SEMrush released its Top Insights into Fintech Industry of India report this week.

Among the interesting top level takeaways from both reports is the importance of making sure that security and financial education keep pace with the growth of financial inclusion. As more people in frontier and periphery markets become comfortable with sharing their personal details and newly-forged financial identities online, the dangers of criminal exploitation and even simple misuse (poor password management habits, for example) grows, as well.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Aafaq Islamic Finance to deploy core banking, Islamic banking, and payments solutions from Infosys.
  • Bahrain-based GFH Financial Group acquires 70% stake in pan-MENA payments technology company, Marshal.
  • National Bank of Yemen goes live with the ICS Banks Universal Banking Platform from ICSFS.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Pakistan-based mobile wallet Sadapay readies for launch.
  • Entrepreneur features fintechs apps that are helping SMEs in India go digital.
  • IBS Intelligence unveils its India fintech report.
Photo by Vikas Sawant from Pexels

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • The Central Bank of Brazil to enter the payments business with the launch of its new app, PIX, later this year. PIX will provide immediate settlement for all transactions.
  • TechCrunch profiles fintech startup Belvo and its aspiration to become the Plaid of Latin America.
  • Bank Innovation features Mexico City, Mexico-based digital bank Stori.

Asia-Pacific

  • Singapore-based, installment payment startup Hoolah expands to Malaysia.
  • Indonesian online lender UangTeman raises $10 million in new funding.
  • Get, a digital commerce platform based in Myanmar, acquires local lender Daung Capital.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigeria’s LAPO Microfinance Bank, the largest microfinance institution in the country, to deploy core banking, payments, and digital experience solutions from Oracle Financial.
  • African Banker examines the balance between financial inclusion and consumer protection as Kenya’s fintech boom expands.
  • Nigerian consumer lending platform Carbon announces $100,000 fund to support startups in insurance, health, and education.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Poland-based OTB Ventures raises $100 million to back tech startups in the CEE region.
  • Wirecard partners with Raiffeisen Bank International to bring digital payments solutions to markets in 13 Eastern European countries.
  • Germany’s Opel Bank chooses FIS’ cloud-native, Modern Banking Platform. This marks the solution’s first deployment in Europe.

Top image designed by Freepik

Moven Powers KSA-Based Neobank; Nigerian Fintech Scores $10 Million

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Dusseldorf, Germany-based apoBank partners with Avaloq.
  • German challenger bank N26 announces withdrawal from the U.K. market.
  • Sifted highlights the “fastest growing fintech startups in Germany.”

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • A partnership between Moven and STC Pay seeks to launch a new challenger bank in Saudi Arabia.
  • The biggest bank in the country by assets, the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), has joined the RippleNet payment network.
  • Wamda interviews more than 600 startups as part of its examination of pre-seed startups in the MENA region.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Uber establishes its Uber Money team at India’s Hyderabad Tech Centre.
  • Deal Street Asia looks at how fintechs in India are re-invigorating banking.
  • BusinessWorld reviews ways fintech in India can help “bridge the gap” between banks and the public.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • In a round led by DOMO Invest, Brazilian P2P marketplace IOUU locks in $1.3 million in its latest funding round.
  • Chile-based investment platform Fintual teams up with Invermerica in new foray into Mexican market.
  • Brazilian fintech Bloxs Investimentos raises $690,000 in new funding to build out its collective investment platform.

Asia-Pacific

  • Vietnam’s central bank refuses to cap foreign ownership of e-payment companies at 49%.
  • Fintech News Singapore features “6 Agri-Fintech Startups in Asia to Follow in 2020.”
  • Thailand-based “crowdfunding bonds” fintech PeerPower announces pre-Series A round funding.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigerian fintech Aella Credit secures $10 million in debt financing.
  • CNBC Africa looks at how fintechs can help South African consumers avoid “credit traps.”
  • VentureBurn highlights the work of South African financial inclusion specialist Meerkat.

Top image designed by Freepik

How Will Fintech Respond to Europe’s Generational Shift?

With FinovateEurope kicking off this week in Berlin, Germany, we thought it would be fun to check in with FinovateEurope Best of Show winner and Central and Eastern European fintech innovator Dorsum.

How are the social and technological changes in Europe influencing the way fintechs and financial services companies build, pilot, and market their solutions? We reached out to Dorsum’s Senior Innovation Expert, Greg Csorba, to find out how the company is meeting these challenges and more.

Finovate: As a European fintech, what is the most exciting thing about fintech in Europe right now, and how is Dorsum taking advantage of this opportunity?

Greg Csorba: In the next 10 to 15 years a significant amount of wealth will pass from the Baby Boomer generation to the Y (Millennial) and Z generations. This will, among other things, change the service model expected of investment service providers. This multigenerational wealth transfer will present a real challenge for every player in the market to adapt to the digital expectations of the new generation, which could bring significant business benefits in the coming years.

Finovate: Dorsum won Best of Show at FinovateEurope last year. What does that accomplishment mean for the company on the eve of your return to FinovateEurope?

Csorba: We were very honored to have won the award last year at FinovateEurope. It confirms that our solutions represent what the industry demands. Every year we are working on understanding our clients better to create new, innovative products, answering their needs. This mindset lead us to create the subject of this year’s show as well, our Wealth Management Communication HUB. We do hope that it will win over the audience as well.

Finovate: For those unfamiliar with Dorsum, can you tell us a little bit about the company and the work it does?

Csorba: Dorsum is an investment software provider company, based in Hungary with two other subsidiaries in Romania and Bulgaria. Since our foundation in 1996, we became a leading software company in the CEE region. Our investment software family offers versatile solutions to players in the capital and wealth management markets. We are especially proud of our innovation team who always keeps one step ahead of the market for the company to continue creating industry-leading solutions.

Finovate: What are some of the key enabling technologies used by your platform? Do machine learning, AI, and other new technologies play a major role in powering your offerings?

Csorba: Yes, we always looking at new technologies and new ways to empower our customers. AI and machine learning are used in our Botboarding chatbot engine, our client-facing investment app My Wealth, and the new Communication HUB. As for the future, we are looking into innovative ways of using and applying information from Big Data databases, which has yet to make a notable change in the lives of wealth managers and investors. For example, we are excited to work on a project aiming to profile users based on their everyday interactions with other digital services – which could reflect their attitude towards risk taking and provide personalized product recommendations.

Finovate: Dorsum is known for its work in the Central and Eastern European markets. How is the company’s growth in this region going and are there any significant plans for expansion beyond the CEE?

Csorba: This year one of our greatest achievements was to win BNP Paribas and their Polish subsidiary as one of our customers and we are working on new deals to continue this growth in the future. In 2020 we are mainly focusing on the CEE market as our main target group. To this end, it’s important for us to have a constant presence in the most prestigious Europe-wide conferences such as Finovate.

Finovate: Dorsum uses a hybrid model combining traditional and digital advisory processes. Why do you think this is a winning strategy for you and your clients?

Csorba: We see that new digital technologies in wealth management and the private banking industry are always welcome, but clients still need and rely on the advice of their advisor. This type of advice however can be managed in innovative ways on digital platforms. This is why we created a hybrid advisory model where digital meets the personal touch. Clients can manage their portfolio on their own, but if they need, they can learn from an AI-driven chatbot or reach their personal advisor through an app and real-time chat.

Finovate: What does Dorsum have in store for 2020? Can you give us a little preview of what you’ll be presenting at FinovateEurope next week?

Csorba: We are presenting new communication features for our wealth management applications, referred to collectively as the Wealth Management Communication HUB. The HUB connects advisors and clients through notification sending and real-time chat. This GDPR- compliant, secure communication module is superior to non-binding e-mail chains, and includes automated notification sending, paperless document underwriting and even an integrated educational chatbot. The HUB represents our hybrid advisory vision, as it allows banks to reach the mass affluent and well as the private banking segments with digital products, saving time and money through efficiency.

Watch Dorsum demonstrate its latest technology live at FinovateEurope in Berlin, Germany, February 11 through 13. Tickets are still available.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigerian fintech Wallets Africa unveils its new Wallets for Developers offering.
  • ITWeb’s Samuel Mungadze looks at how a pair of South African fintechs – Meerkat and Spoon Money – are “redesigning financial services.”
  • Nigeria’s The Guardian profiles African fintech pioneer, Segun Aina, on his 65th birthday.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Hamburg, Germany-based digital debt servicing platform Receeve raises 4 million euros in seed funding.
  • Analysis from Sberbank shows that for the first time, Russian made more digital payments than cash payments in the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • Varengold Bank announces plans to open a fintech hub in Berlin.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Morocco’s Bank Assafa goes live on Path Solutions’ iMAL core banking system.
  • National Bank of Kuwait announces availability of Fitbit Pay.
  • Entrepreneur.com lists “4 Things to Know About the Middle East Fintech Industry.”

Central and Southern Asia

  • Freelance Wallet, the product of a new partnership between Paystand and JS Bank, enables freelancers in Pakistan to receive payments via smartphone.
  • PayU co-founder Shailaz Nag raises $8 million in seed funding for his finech startup, Dot.
  • State Bank of India partners with BEP Systems for mortgage origination.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • The Mexico City-based Startupbootcamp Fintech accelerator run by Finnovista reports that four of the 20 fintechs in its latest graduating cohort have female leadership.
  • Born2Invest examines the state of Chile’s fintech sector.
  • Mexican digital banking startup Stori locks in $10 million in funding.

Asia-Pacific

  • Jumio teams up with CIMB Bank Phillippines to bring its digital onboarding and AI-enabled identity verification to Filipino customers.
  • Singapore-based ridesharing firm turned fintech giant Grab acquires robo-advisor Bento Invest.
  • Fiserv partners with Hong Kong digtal bank pioneer ZA Bank.

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Top image designed by Freepik

Digital Dollars and E-Euros: The Case for National Digital Currencies

India is the latest country to announce that it is looking into development of a national digital currency – or what’s known in the industry as a Central Bank Issued Currency (CBDC). In recent weeks and months, we’ve heard news of a growing number of central banks investigating the pros and cons of digitizing their money supply. Japan announced last week that it is considering the advantage of a “digital yen.” The Central Bank of the Bahamas is also examining the issue, as is, ahem, North Korea. Tunisia made fintech headlines last fall when a Russian news agency reported the country had digitized its currency. But Tunisian authorities have since denied the story.

The case for digitizing national currencies includes the idea that, at a minimum, central banks need to keep up with – if not get ahead of – the trend toward the digitization of money. More constructively, central bank-issued digital currencies (CBDC) could provide significant benefits in terms of reducing the costs and risks to the payments system and, according to a 2018 report from the IMF, “could help encourage financial inclusion.”

However as the report makes clear, there are a wide variety of risks associated with CBDCs – the most immediate of which may be a simple lack of demand. The IMF’s Christine Lagarde made the point a few years ago in her address subtitled “The Case for New Digital Currency,” delivered at the Singapore Fintech Festival. The same “winds of change” that are driving central bankers to consider digitizing the money supply are also stimulating innovation in other forms of payment and value-storage. Any digital currency issued by a central bank still would have to compete with digital payment and value-storage offerings from the private sector.

In some ways, this is the most interesting consideration in the debate over digital currencies. Issues of safety and anonymity remain paramount, and themes like regional specificity remind us that what works for one geography may not work for another. But it is increasingly easier to imagine a world in which digital national currencies exist than it is to imagine a world in which they do not.

For more on the national digital currency movement around the world, check out Stephen O’Neal’s in-depth examination of the topic in Cointelegraph from the summer of 2018. O’Neal divided the world of state-issued currencies into the Adopters, the Rejectors, the Experimenters, and the Researchers. Note that Tunisia, as reported above, is no longer in the Adopters category, however the country’s central bank did note that it is “exploring” digital payment options including CBDC.

Additionally, some of the countries that have rejected national digital currencies have appeared to reconsider in recent years. A report from last fall suggested that private bankers and lenders in Germany, for example, have expressed interest in a form of “digital central bank money.”


This week on the Finovate blog we celebrated the second birthday of PSD2 in Europe, and highlighted the advances Israeli startup and Finovate Best of Show winner Voca.ai has made in deploying voice AI in customer service. We also previewed our upcoming FinovateEurope Venture Capital All Stars presentation on fintech investment trends in Europe.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Asia-Pacific

  • Contour, a blockchain-based trade finance platform headquartered in Singapore, announces investment of undisclosed size from Standard Chartered.
  • Malaysian cross-border payments company Tranglo integrates with Ripple.
  • Digital-only banks may be coming to Thailand as the country’s central bank considers offering digital banking licenses.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African fintech Oyi launches prepaid medical savings card.
  • Inlaks, a Nigeria-based ICT infrastructure solutions provider, introduces new line of “ultramodern” ATMs that feature the ability to access customer service via a live video connection.
  • FinTech4U Accelerator names the five Zambian fintechs that will join its program this month.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Leading browser provider Opera acquires Estonian banking-as-a-service startup Pocosys.
  • German fintech Heidelpay is on the hunt for acquisition opportunities and is considering an IPO.
  • EU Startups features Cashpresso in its look at top Austrian startups to watch in 2020.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Arab News features Nosaibah Alrajhi, founder of Shariah-compliant P2P lending platform Forus, scheduled to go live in Saudi Arabia later this year.
  • Al Khaleej Bank of Sudan to deploy Path Solution’s core banking iMAL platform.
  • The Central Bank of Egypt completes eKYC pilot.

Central and Southern Asia

  • A digital rupee? That’s the proposal from India’s National Institute for Smart Government (NISG).
  • Fintechs are not the only ones disrupting financial services in India. Increasingly, smartphone brands are getting into the act.
  • Indian fintech startup Mera Cashier raises $250,000 in seed funding.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Softbank strikes again! The Japanese firm has led a $125 million Series B round for Mexico’s AlphaCredit.
  • Americas Quarterly looks at ways that fintech can become “a priority” in Latin America.
  • Olivia, a Brazilian financial wellness app, raises $5 million in funding from BV (formerly Banco Votorantim).

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Top image designed by Freepik

Japan’s Digital Yen; Visa, Plaid, and the Opportunity for African Fintechs

With FinovateEurope less than a month away, Finovate Research has been busily putting together a variety of features looking at different issues surrounding fintech in Europe. These insights will be published in an upcoming special supplement; stay tuned for our celebration of and reflection on PSD2’s second birthday, our look at venture capital’s impact on the surging challenger bank movement, and more.

This week on the Finovate blog we covered the $115 million raised by French challenger bank Qonto, looked at the new banking license U.K. challenger bank Vive Bank just scored from the Bank of England, and reported on Nigeria-based mobile money operator Paga’s acquisition of U.S.-based Apposit.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazilian SME payments solution provider C6 reaches one million customer milestone.
  • EBANX launches 10,000-consumer trial of its digital wallet, Ebanx Go.
  • BNP Paribas to foster fintech innovation at new Sao Paulo startup hub, La Fabrique.

Asia-Pacific

  • Japan may be the next country to issue a digital version of its currency.
  • Finastra to power core banking for Asia digital-only bank, Tonik.
  • Fintech News Malaysia features the top 20 fintechs in the country in 2020.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • African payments startup Flutterwave locks in $35 million in new funding; announces partnerships with Visa and WorldPay.
  • What does Visa’s acquisition of Plaid mean for African fintech startups? Tech Cabal examines the opportunities for two of Nigeria’s top fintechs.
  • International Adviser looks at how broader financial literacy may be key to a “fintech revolution” in South Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • German challenger bank N26 announces 40% customer increase with five million customers now using the institution’s products and services.
  • Poland’s Autenti, which enables digital agreement signing and provides e-document workflow, seals the deal on $4.48 million in new funding.
  • Members of Sberbank’s loyalty program can now share reward points with other members.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Dubai-based robo advisory platform Sarwa picks up $8.4 million in Series A funding.
  • MoneyGram partners with Suez Canal Bank enabling its MoneyGram customers worldwide to send funds directly to bank accounts in Egypt.
  • Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai introduces its 2020 cohort. Three of the 10 startups selected are from the MENA region.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Cardholders in India will now be required to opt in to access contactless payments.
  • Pakistan-based ride-hailing and logistics company Bykea launches Bykea Cash to enable mobile wallet top-up and utility billpay.
  • Revenue-based financing platform GetVantage goes live in India.

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Top image designed by Freepik

Singapore’s Digital Bank License Space Race Accelerates

Is there anyone out there who is NOT trying to secure a digital banking license in Singapore?

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced last week that it has received 21 applications for digital bank licenses. A decision is expected in June, and the fortunate five who receive licenses will be able to launch their businesses by the middle of next year. Applicants have included a wide range of companies, from e-commerce and telecommunications firms, to fintechs, PSPs, and crowdfunding platforms.

Specifically, MAS is making available two different types of license: a digital full bank license and a digital wholesale bank license. There are two digital full bank licenses available, which would enable non-banks to accept deposits from retail customers. There are seven applicants for these licenses, which come with initial, temporary restrictions on deposits and capitalization.

The digital wholesale bank license will permit firms to lend to SMEs. Fourteen companies have applied for the three digital wholesale bank licenses MAS is making available. These new businesses would be required to meet the same regulations as existing wholesale banks, including capitalization of $74 million (S$100 million). Among the more well-known firms competing for these digital wholesale bank licenses are rideshare startup Grab and Ant Financial.

Also in the running for a digital wholesale bank license is Finovate alum and Best of Show winner Arival Bank. The firm announced its application earlier this week, noting that securing the license “will add tremendous value in Arival’s quest to becoming a borderless fintech bank.” The company plans to leverage its ArivalOS digital banking technology, as well as its banking-as-a-service (BaaS) platform to serve the freelancers, micro businesses, and startups that it believes remain underserved within the broader SME market worldwide.


In other international news on the Finovate blog this week, we talked with João Pinto of Portugal’s ITSCREDIT ahead of the company’s Finovate appearance next month in Berlin. We also featured German insurtech Getsafe’s expansion to the U.K., looked at European deposit marketplace Raisin’s acquisition of U.S. fintech Choice Financial Solutions, and profiled French mobile payments app Lydia as it locks in $45 million in new funding.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Business Maverick looks at PayU’s decision to merge its consumer lending business, LazyPay, with Indian digital credit platform, PaySense.
  • EpiFi, a Bengalaru, India-based digital banking startup founded by a pair of former Google executives, raises $13.2 million in funding.
  • Entrepreneur India features B2B digital ledger mobile app, KhataBook.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Resuelve tu Deuda, a Mexican fintech that specializes in helping consumer repair their credit, raises $24 million in funding.
  • Nasdaq.com lists online payments, banking, billpay, proptech, and lending in its feature, 5 Opportunities for Fintech Disruption in Latin America.
  • Brazilian neobank Nubank announces its first acquisition, purchasing local consulting company Plataformatec largely to access the firm’s crew of engineering and developer talent.

Asia-Pacific

  • Digital-only neobank Tonik secures banking license in Philippines ahead of planned launch.
  • Arival Bank is the latest fintech to throw its hat into the Singapore digital banking license ring.
  • CredoLab earns listing from Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority OJK) as an official provider of financial services in the country – the first fintech in Indonesia to be granted this recognition.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • EverSend founder Stone Atwine talks about trends in the African fintech industry with CNBC Africa.
  • Kenyan fintech Alternative Circle earns recognition as “One to Watch” in the first global fintex index ranking 2020 by Findexable.
  • What can we expect from South African fintech in 2020? Ventureburn examines the country’s prospects.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Euromoney takes a look at the complicated relationship between banks and fintechs in the CEE region.
  • The Paypers interviews Valeri Valtchev of the Bulgarian Fintech Association on the evolution of Bulgaria as a fintech hub.
  • Latvian fintech Jeff App locks in €150,000 to help improve financial inclusion for borrowers in Southeast Asia.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Salaam African Bank in Djibouti selects core banking technology from Oracle FSS.
  • A partnership between crypto exchange Huobi and Dubai-based real estate firm fäm Properties will enable investors to pay in a digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ether, and XRP.
  • Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) introduces its Instant Credit Card service via its mobile app.

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Top image designed by Freepik

2020: A Breakout Year for Fintech in Emerging Markets?

Will 2020 be the year of emerging markets fintech? From major investments in fintechs in Latin America and Africa to the challenger banking “space race” in Singapore, 2020 could turn out to be a breakout year for fintech in many growing economies around the world.

And while attention is deservedly shifting to exciting news in fintech in countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Nigeria, it is also worth considering which regions might have interesting fintech developments which, while flying under the radar now, could end up dominating international fintech headlines by mid-year.

With this in mind, we turn to Europe in general and the Central and Eastern Europe region in specific. Here’s a look at our conversation with Krzysztof Pulkiewicz, founder and CEO of the Belgian-based and “proudly developed in Poland” fintech innovator banqUP. We talked with Pulkiewicz on the latest developments with his company, as well as his outlook on open banking and the differences between business inside and outside the CEE.

This week on Finovate.com we also featured news about American Express and China, looked at the new partnership between Ripple and Thailand’s biggest bank, and reported on a nine-figure investment in a Latin American real estate marketplace.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Ziraat Participation Bank, headquartered in Sudan, to deploy the iMAL Islamic core banking system from Path Solutions.
  • Emirates NBD announces completion of the third phase of its core banking systems upgrade.
  • Abu Dhabi Investment Office leads Series A funding round for blockchain-based regtech firm, Securrency.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Netherlands-based payments company PayU acquires majority stake in Indian fintech PaySense, plans to merge company with Indian consumer lender LazyPay.
  • Royal Bank of India announces new rules to enable companies to participate in remote customer onboarding.
  • Two U.K.-based credit unions, Voyager Alliance CU and Retail CU, go live on TCS Bancs, a core banking solution from Indian technology company Tata Consultancy Services.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • IBM partners with Argentina’s Chamber of Fintech to support digital transformation projects in the country’s fintech and banking sector.
  • Central Bank of the Bahamas to launch digital version of its currency.
  • Business Insider calls Mexico “a top neobank market to watch in 2020.”

Asia-Pacific

  • What trade war? China unveils new regulations that make it easier for foreign lenders to access the Chinese market.
  • Horizons Ventures leads Series A+ round for Hong Kong-based financial data and analytics provider MioTech.
  • Lightnet, a Thailand-based blockchain company operating in the remittance market, has raised more than $31 million in new funding.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • fin24 features OkGo.live, The People’s Fund, Isiduli, and a non-profit, blockchain pilot program in its look at four South African fintechs to watch in 2020.
  • Chipper Cash, a U.S.-based fintech that offers no fee, mobile P2P services in six African countries, raises $6 million in funding.
  • Ventureburn lists 10 ways Africa’s fintech sector boomed in 2019.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Qonto, a challenger bank for SMEs launched in France two years ago, announces expansion to Germany.
  • Lithuania’s biggest postal service provider extends cooperation agreement with payment card authorization firm Ashburn International.
  • Insurance software solution provider Sapiens International acquires German-based insurtech firm, sum.cumo.

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Top image designed by Freepik