Will COVID-19 Mark the End of European Fintech?

A new study from McKinsey & Company suggests that European fintechs are experiencing an “existential crisis” as venture capital funding plunges “from surplus to scarcity.” The report compares the 11% drop in funding for fintech worldwide in the first half of the year with Europe’s far steeper decline in fintech funding of 30% over the same time period, and puts the blame squarely on the economic and social impact of the coronavirus.

But while the report anticipates a significant contraction in European economies – 11% this year with pre-crisis levels remaining elusive until 2023 – and that fintech is “already feeling the squeeze”, the authors note that there are a variety of advantages fintech has that could enable the industry’s most innovative players to emerge successfully if not stronger on the other side of the crisis. Among the main factors are:

  • The fintech sector has grown over the past six years by more than 25%.
  • Fintechs are native to the digital realm.
  • Fintechs are more efficient than many other businesses: with more efficient cost structures, “organizational agility,” and significant customer loyalty.

“As more incumbents struggle to adapt, the winners will be those that quickly recognize the changed context and that are most capable of responding with clear decisions and bold actions,” the report authors note. “Many organizations, both incumbents and startups, have adapted with surprising quickness and rapid decision making through the COVID-19 crisis. This new sense of possibility and potential should inform future action.”

Read the report.

Speaking of Europe – and on the heels of the big news of Yandex‘s agreement to buy Russian digital bank Tinkoff for $5.5 billion earlier this week – we took a look at our favorite Russian fintechs. Check out our Baker’s Dozen of fintechs from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and more.

To learn more about fintech in Russia, here’s an overview from last December that cites an Ernst & Young study that calls the country’s fintech industry “the third most developed market in the world.” This is based on the relatively high, 80% adoption rate of fintech services in Russia, and occurs despite a relatively low participation in fintech areas like securities investment, as well as savings and financial wellness.

“Basically we went from savings books to payments over mobile phone almost overnight,” said Roman Prokhorov, the head of the association Financial Innovations, who was quoted in the study. “Therefore, our consumers are more receptive to fintech innovations, and this explains the popularity of these services.”

Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • JPMorgan Chase-based Brazilian fintech FitBank Pagamentos Electronicos plans expansion to the U.S. in the first half of 2021.
  • TechCrunch profiles Jefa, a challenger bank that caters to women in Latin America.
  • IFLR looks at the role regulators in Costa Rica will play in the development of the country’s fintech industry.


  • Vietnamese credit scoring technology provider for micro, small, and medium-sized businesses Kim An Group secures Series A funding.
  • Could Malaysia be the “world pioneer” in Islamic fintech? Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation chairman Datuk Wira Rais Hussin makes the case.
  • The Business Times of Singapore highlights an S&P Global Ratings report on Thai consumers pushing Thai banks to embrace fintech.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Mono, a Nigerian API fintech startup that seeks to be the “Plaid of Africa,” raises $500,000 in pre-seed funding.
  • Lexology reviews the current state of fintech regulation in Kenya.
  • Innovation consultancy Beta-I partners with Angola National Bank to build the nation’s first regulatory sandbox.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • German fintech Vanta teams up with Marqeta to launch its credit card for startups.
  • Open banking platform Raisin partners with German financial solutions broker Procheck24.
  • Samsung, Visa, and Solarisbank AG work together to bring Samsung Pay to Germany.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Commercial Bank of Kuwait teams up with Thales Digital Solutions to drive mobile payments.
  • Could Saudi Arabia top Dubai in terms of fintech funding? Arabian Business looks at the growth of fintech in the Kingdom.
  • PYMNTS profiles Imad Aloyoun, CEO of Jordan-based payments platform Dinarak.

Central and Southern Asia

  • A joint project between U.K.-based Checkout.com and Pakistan’s National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (Nift) will bring new international payment options to the Pakistan.
  • Pakistan’s Silk Bank announces a partnership with MasterCard to boost credit card issuance in the country.
  • Times of India profiles Indian fintech MoneyTap, founded by Anuj Kacker.

The Future of Fintech in Latin America; Turkey Crowned a Crypto King

Day Five of FinovateFall Digital featured our Power Panel: Latin America – The Future of Fintech and the Dawn of a New Opportunity. Participating in the conversation were Christopher Carmine, Director of Development, FinTech Connector; Laura González-Estéfani, founder and CEO of TheVentureCity; and Manuel Silva, Partner and Head of Investments for Santander InnoVentures.

The panelists, led by moderator Greg Palmer, discussed the biggest opportunities in Latin America presently, emphasizing that fintechs should focus on local issues rather than on big technology themes. They noted that Latin America has a great deal of variation and that it is problematic to discuss the region without focusing on the differences between nations as well as within nations. They also pointed to the low number of “banked” Latin Americans (approximately 30%) and examined ways to bring this number up.

Among the areas of opportunity, the panelists underscored remittances – noting that the corridor between the U.S. and Mexico is one of the biggest in the world. Helping small businesses get their operations running with sound basic business management services was also talked about, as was the challenge of overcoming outdated financial infrastructure. “If you understand the particularities of the market, and understand that it is a work in progress,” González-Estéfani said, “it is a land of opportunity, indeed.”

Turkey is the King of Cryptocurrencies in the Middle East according to a report from Chainalysis. The 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, published this month, noted that Turkey has the highest total transaction volume in cryptocurrencies in the MENA region. The report cites volatility in the country’s currency, the lira, as helping encourage more savers to adopt cryptocurrencies as an option to maintain their wealth.

The cryptocurrency market in the Middle East is not large. In fact, it is the smallest in the world second only to Africa’s. And while Turkey tops the list in MENA, it ranks 29th out of 154 countries in the Global Crypto Adoption Index. The report notes that Turkey currently has no cryptocurrency regulations, although the country’s Capital Markets Board is developing a framework.

Read the report.

Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Pakistan introduces online banking solution for expatriates, the Rohsan Digital Account.
  • Indian e-commerce deals website CashKaro raises $10 million in Series B.
  • Dialog Axiata, a mobile operator based in Sri Lanka, adopts the country’s national QR code to enable payments at more than 50,000 merchants.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Digital identity leader Jumio brings its identity verification technology to Latin American delivery startup Rappi.
  • Oyster founder and CEO Vilash Poovala makes the case for a fintech operating system for Mexican SMEs. The company raised $14 million in seed funding this week.
  • dlocal, a cross-border payment solutions provider based in Uruguay, becomes the region’s latest unicorn courtesy of an $200 million investment round led by General Atlantic.


  • U.S. and Vietnam-based fintech Fvndit raises $30 million in debt financing to support its P2P lending company, eLoan.
  • Malaysia’s Merchanttrade acquires digital remittance service provider Valyou.
  • Philippines-based fintech JazzyPay secures $500,000 in seed funding.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigeria’s OPay partners with WorldRemit to offer mobile money transfers.
  • TechCabal looks at the relationship between the growing influence of China on sub-Saharan Africa’s fintech industry.
  • Disrupt Africa profiles Kenyan fintech startup Zagace, which offers business management solutions via API to micro-businesses.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Polish e-commerce platform Allegro readies for the country’s – and the region’s – biggest IPO.
  • German microlender Monedo files for bankruptcy.
  • Polish fintech Kontomatik announces new investors: Runa Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Wallet Factory and areeba team up to launch mobile wallet Zaky in Lebanon.
  • Israel-based cybersecurity startup Team8 unveils parallel platform, Team8 Fintech, to invest in early stage companies.
  • Dubai-based Buy Now Pay Later company Spotii goes live on Microsoft AppSource.

Photo by Alisha Lubben from Pexels

Digital is Global, E-Currency for the Eurozone, Open Banking in Switzerland

FinovateFall: Digital AND Global

What’s to like about FinovateFall Digital, our all-digital fintech conference starting Monday, September 14th and continuing through Friday, the 18th? A CEO from one of our demoing companies pointed out that one of the special things about this fall’s conference is that because the FinovateFall is all-digital, it enables people all over the world to participate as virtual attendees.

With this in mind, we wanted to use this week’s Finovate Global to highlight those companies from outside the United States that will be demonstrating their latest fintech innovations as part of our annual autumn event. Here’s hoping they bring a few friends from across the border – or from over the sea – to digitally join us!

Cinchy – Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Provides a real-time data collaboration platform to solve data integration, access, governance, and solution-delivery challenges. Finovate Best of Show Winner. Founded in 2014.

DQ Labs – Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Offers a unified suite of modules that enables companies to unlock the value in their data to gain new insights. Founded in 2019.

Horizn – Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Helps banks and financial institutions dramatically increase digital adoption. Finovate Best of Show winner. Founded in 2012.

Mostly AI – Vienna, Wien, Austria. Enables companies to unlock privacy-sensitive data assets while protecting privacy. Founded in 2017.

Payever – Hamburg, Germany. Offers a Commerce Operating System to help entrepreneurs start, run, and grow their businesses. Founded in 2013.

Scientia Consulting – London, U.K. Leading fintech consulting and development firm in Europe. Founded in 2010.

Join us next week for Finovate’s latest all-digital fintech conference. Visit our registration page today and save your spot at our live and On Demand event.

Digital Currency Comeback?

Back in January Finovate Global took a look at the growing case for national digital currencies. We highlighted initiatives in countries as different as India and Japan, and underscored observations from Christine Lagarde (former head of the IMF and current president of the European Central Bank) in her address, “The Case for New Digital Currency”.

Now Ms. Lagarde is back in the news hinting at a near-term resolution to the question of a digital euro. In a speech this week at the Bundesbank’s conference on digital banking and payments, Lagarde argued that Europe must be wary of falling behind when it comes to the development of digital payment options, and that consideration of a national digital currency needs to be a part of that conversation.

“The Eurosystem has so far not made a decision on whether to introduce a digital euro,” Lagarde said. “But, like many other central banks around the world, we are exploring the benefits, risks, and operation challenges of doing so.” Lagarde added a taskforce on development of a digital euro is expected to release its findings “in the coming weeks.”

Open Banking All Over the World

We recently investigated the prospects for open banking in Australia. This week we share an overview of the state of open banking in Switzerland courtesy of Fintech Zoom’s Jung Min-Seo.

“Europe may moderately declare to be the cradle of open banking,” Min-Seo wrote, “however in contrast to within the E.U. the place members are obliged to implement PSD2, a directive meant to opening up cost transactions to non-banks and promote competitors, Switzerland has no such regulation in place.”

Read the rest: A Brief 2020 Overview of Open Banking in Switzerland

Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • The Fintech Times profiles Demet Zübeyiroğlu, chair of the Financial Innovation and Technologies Association, a nonprofit based in Turkey
  • Israeli fintech startup Salaryo secures $5.8 million in funding from investors including Dubai-based private equity fund Ken Investments.
  • Jordanian fintech Whyise raises $675,000.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Trulioo expands to Pakistan.
  • TechWire Asia looks at how Amazon is leveraging its relationship with India to grow its fintech offerings.
  • Proving that cash is still alive in India, RapiPay, a subsidiary of Capital India Finance, will install 500,000 micro ATMs in the country over the next two years.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Caribbean-based fintech WiPay teams up with Mastercard to expand digital payments in the region.
  • Austria’s Paysafecard announces expansion into Mexico.
  • Mexican fintech Ubank, which offers an automated savings solution, plans to expand to the United States.


  • Revolut goes live in Japan.
  • Onfido brings ID verification to migrant worker e-marketplace, MyCash Money, which serves workers in Malaysia and Singapore.
  • Backbase partners with Vietnam’s Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) to speed the institution’s digital transformation.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigerian fintechs Opay and PalmPay, along with South African e-payment firm, Yoco, are the only three Africa fintechs to earn spots on CB Insights’ 2020 Fintech Top 250.
  • Ozow, a digital payments company based in South Africa, launches its new payments platform.
  • Nigeria’s Sparkle announces plans for digital distribution of insurance solutions.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis praises Ukraine as the country with the greatest rate of cryptocurrency adoption in a new report.
  • Hungarian biometric payment startup PeasyPay announces plans to expand to Spain and the U.K.
  • Balkan Insight reviews the fintech ecosystem in Croatia.

Photo by Candid Shots from Pexels

The Buy Now Pay Later Revolution Rolls on as Zip Acquires QuadPay

Photo by Chavdar Lungov from Pexels

We talked so much about the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) revolution in ecommerce that we are starting to sound like a broken record (someone please explain that reference to the younger millennials in the room). But the no-interest financing strategy is quickly becoming a must-offer feature for merchants, card issuers, and other players in the ecommerce ecosystem.

This week brings news that Zip Co, a digital retail financing and payments services company based in Australia, has agreed to acquire New York based Buy Now Pay Later company QuadPay in a deal valued at $269 million. One of the biggest BNPL companies in the U.S, QuadPay will enable Zip to expand its reach to five countries (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.S., and the U.K.), a combined annualized revenue of $182 million (AU$250 million) and 3.5 million customers.

Aside from the company’s co-founders, Adam Ezra and Brad Lindenberg, Zip was the largest shareholder in QuadPay. Ezra and Lindenberg will join Zip’s global leadership team post-acquistion with the responsibility of scaling business in the U.S.

Photo by Damon Hall from Pexels

Hungry for good news on the fintech funding front? Gaze no further than Latin America where a new report from KoreFusion highlights growth in smartphone ownership, ecommerce adoption, and dissatisfactioin with banks as just a few of the reasons why Latin America’s fintech boom is ust beginning.

The study, available for free from the San Francisco, California-based consultancy, is based on a study of more than 1,000 fintechs in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. In addition to a survey of the fintech landscape – finding a concentration in the payments category with lending and B2B-based fintechs coming in second and third, respectively – the report underscores other areas – such as remittances and foreign exchange – where it believe major opportunities remain.

Read more in KoreFusion’s 2020 Latam Fintech Report.

Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • German regtech 4Stop partners with payment service provider emerchantpay.
  • ACI Worldwide announces that its technology helps power 75% of real-time payments in Hungary.
  • German P2P lender auxmoney raises $177 million (150 million euros) in growth capital.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Edenred UAE introduces mobile banking app, C3Pay.
  • Hakbah, an alternative financial savings app based in Saudi Arabia, forges a partnership with Visa.
  • Switzerland’s Additiv opens new regional headquarters in Dubai.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Google Pay launches its NFC-based contactless payment offering in India.
  • India’s Kotak Mahindra Bank introduces cardless cash withdrawals at ATMs.
  • Singapore-based fintech Atlantis goes live with neobank targeting millennials and GenZ customers in India.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Neon Pagamentos, a neobank based in Brazil, has raised $300 million in a Series C round led by General Atlantic.
  • Brazil’s Central Bank says it will rollout a central bank digital currency by 2023.
  • Nubank, a Brazilian challenger bank and the country’s second-largest credit card issuer, has secured $300 million in new funding.


  • Vietnam-based e-payments provider NextPay announces plans to raise up to $100 million early next year via a private placement.
  • China’s UnionPay goes live with its digital bankcard.
  • Malaysia’s securities commission inks a financial technology cooperation agreement with Indonesia’s financial services regulator Otoritas Jasa Keuangan.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South Africa-based Entersket partners with NuData Security, bringing behavioral analytics to real-time risk scoring.
  • Pan-African challenger bank Union54 announces plans for a 2021 launch.
  • The National Agency for Social & Economic Inclusion (ANIES) of Guinea selects security services company Idemia fo its welfare cash transfer program.

Alliance in the Americas: Constellation Software Acquires Infocorp

The decision by Canada’s Constellation Software to acquire Uruguayan technology firm – and Finovate alum – Infocorp earlier this year is a reminder of the vibrancy of the fintech ecosystems thriving in the countries to the north and south of the U.S. The acquisition was completed in June via Constellation Software’s U.S.-based subsidiary Aquila.

“We have been looking for a partner to support us as we move to our next level of experience for our clients,” InfoCorp CEO Ana Inex Echavarren said. “We are excited to join Aquila and the Constellation family as they believe in long-term relationships, and the ‘buy and hold forever’ approach supports us in our focus on long term growth with our clients.”

Montevideo-based InfoCorp offers its customers an omnichannel banking platform that leverages the latest advanced technologies – conversational AI, machine learning, voice recognition, and chatbots – to build solutions to better engage and serve financial services customers. With clients such as Banco Santander, Banco de Bogota, Banco Internacional, and Towerbank, the 25+ year old company made its Finovate debut in 2017, demonstrating its marketing and commercial actions orchestrator platform that enables more agile, personalized, marketing campaigns that lead to higher conversion rates and ROI.

“InfoCorp has an inspiring focus on their clients,” Aquila CEO Mike Byrne said. “To produce solutions that connect the banks with their clients is such a deep passion for the team at InfoCorp. We are really looking forward to working with the group.” Operations at InfoCorp will remain the same, post-acquisition, with Echavarren continuing as CEO and the company keeping its client portfolio and offices. InfoCorp has 250+ workers in its development and innovation centers in Santiago de Chile, Montevideo, and Colonia.

In fact, the company announced last month that it is looking to expand into both Mexico and Argentina in the wake of the acquisition, with potential expansion to Europe, Canada, and the U.S., as well. Echavarren told BNamericas that the company is currently growing at a rate of 40% to 50% a year over the past five years and is looking at investments to power Infocorp’s ability to enter bigger markets.

The fintech ecosystem in Uruguay is often overlooked compared to the fintech industries in other Latin American nations such as Mexico and Brazil – both of which Uruguay borders. With a population of approximately three and a half million, the country is the second smallest in South America and gets high marks on a number of metrics including democracy, low perception of corruption, and e-government. Uruguay is regarded as a “high-income country” by the United Nations.

In its look at fintech in Uruguay, Contxto highlighted a baker’s dozen of companies that are not only growing regionally, but moving closer to expansion worldwide. The feature divides the country’s fintech industry into five components: payments, exchange, open banking, investments, and what it calls “fintech enterprise services (FES).” This primarily involves providing fintech solutions to online financial services companies.

Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • A partnership with Standard Chartered Bank will enable Airtel Africa to build its fintech business and help support financial inclusion.
  • South African digital banking platform provider Ukheshe earns finalist spot in the 2020 Ecobank Fintech Challenge.
  • ThisDayLive features VC investor Ameya Upadhyay on the challenge of startup development in Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Fintech Futures takes a look at financial inclusion in Russia.
  • Poland’s mPay teams up with iDenfy to bring biometric facial recognition and other identity verification technologies to its mobile payments platform.
  • Romania’s PayByFace brings its biometric facial recognition technology to Up Romania cardholders, enabling biometric purchases as participating stores and restaurants.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • CIH Bank of Morocco partners with Finastra for a remote implementation of the company’s Fusion Corporate Channels and Fusion Trade Innovation systems.
  • Cairo, Egypt-based payments-as-a-service fintech Paymob raises $3.5 million in funding.
  • National Bank of Oman enables cardless ATM transactions.

Central and Southern Asia

  • MEDICI featured Indian regtech startup Signzy in its RegTech Top 21 Startups for 2020 roster. Signzy is the only Indian regtech to make the list.
  • Reserve Bank of India announces offline digital payments pilot project.
  • JCB International and PJSCB Orient Finans initiate merchant acquiring operations in Uzbekistan.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican lending platform Creze raises $12 million.
  • Rapyd partners with PayMyTuition to boost the company’s ability to accept bank transfer-based payments from countries in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region.
  • WorldRemit teams up with a pair of Mexican neobanks, albo and Klar.


  • Ayoconnect, a billpay network based in Indonesia, raises $5 million in pre-Series B funding.
  • Southeast Asian fintech TrueMoney teams up with cross-border payments firm Thunes to expand its remittance business.
  • Vietnamese digital banking platform Timo announces new partnership with Viet Capital Bank.

Top image designed by Freepik

MENA and Open Banking: A Conversation with Mohammed Aziz of Dapi

This week for Finovate Global, we caught up with Mohammed Aziz, co-founder and CEO of Dapi, a fintech startup that offers a suite of open banking APIs to help connect customer bank accounts, initiate payments, and access data in real-time. Founded in 2019, the company currently operate in six countries in the Middle East and Africa, and is headquartered in both San Francisco, California, and the UAE.

We talked about the opportunity for open banking to fuel innovation in financial services in emerging economies, as well as the overall environment for fintech innovation in the MENA region. We also discussed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on pre-existing trends such as digitization.

Finovate: Dapi is the third company you’ve founded, but your first fintech. What made you want to focus on the opportunities in this industry? What do you bring to fintech from your experience in other areas?

Mohammed Aziz: Dapi was the result of a problem that I personally faced when trying to build “Spendy” a hybrid between a peer to peer payment application and a personal financial management app. We were unable to build out Spendy for most emerging markets due to the lack of bank connectivity which got us super keen to build out the underlying infrastructure that would power the future of fintech in these markets.

Finovate: Tell us about Dapi. What problem does your company solve and who are your primary customers?

Aziz: Dapi’s mission is to provide the building blocks for a thriving fintech ecosystem in emerging markets around the world. Our API serves as the bridge between financial applications and banks, empowering developers to create digital wallets, budget trackers, investment applications and more. Our clients are developers working on fintech applications, businesses hoping to include financial services in their mobile and web offerings, and anyone that wants to include bank functionality within their digital offerings.

Finovate: Your business strategy relies on an embrace of open banking in the MENA region. How strong is the movement toward open banking there?

Aziz: The MENA region is a very exciting space to be operating in right now. Fintech is only beginning to develop here and the market is pretty much untapped, so we are hoping to serve as an influence towards the region embracing open banking and all the opportunities that come with that. I would also like to point out that we are able to activate and build connectivity regardless of open banking being present or not. We like to take the approach that companies like Plaid in the US or Truelayer in the UK did, whereby they were connected to banks despite frameworks and regulation being in place.

Finovate: Aside from open banking, what are some of the other exciting trends in the fintech industry in the Middle East/Abu Dhabi right now?

Aziz: There’s a general trend of growing interest for the kinds of applications that financial technology empowers, from digital wallets and peer to peer applications to investment platforms and digital banks. The market is new and rapidly evolving. 

Finovate: We talk about the Middle East and North Africa as a region. But there is a great deal of variation among countries in MENA. How does this impact your ability to market your technology in the area?

Aziz: Beyond market considerations, the regulation surrounding the use of APIs in financial applications varies greatly from country to country. This is a new and mostly unregulated space, but we have had to consider completely separate approaches to integrating our services in the UAE as opposed to KSA, for example. Culture is also another important factor, as it varies between countries and impacts the products that you would want to launch along with the go-to-market approach. 

Finovate: How has COVID-19 impacted the fintech industry in the region? Early in the crisis, we heard news from countries like Iran, but not as much since. How are businesses, especially fintech businesses, faring?

Aziz: The COVID-19 pandemic and its push towards social distancing and remote work  has actually increased interest in digitization of financial services. For example, there have been a number of announcements within the UAE that the country will be moving towards enabling more online payments and other financial services without the need to physically go to a bank.

Finovate: You participated in the Y Combinator program. What was that experience like? What advice do you have for startups with the opportunity to pursue a similar path with a top-notch accelerator?

Aziz: Y Combinator has been a phenomenal experience for us. It really put us out there on the map and helped expand our network in silicon valley. From our experience, investors and VCs in the US are not usually convinced about investing in early stage MENA startups, but YC really helps establish that credibility.  

Finovate: Tell us about your experience of setting up your business in Abu Dhabi.

Aziz: Abu Dhabi is an exciting place to work, since it is a rapidly growing and developing market, as mentioned above. Furthermore, we have received a lot of support from our involvement in ADGM and Hub71, which provided resources for us to establish and grow our operations in these beginning stages. 

Finovate: What can we expect from Dapi over the balance of 2020 and beyond?

Aziz: We are very excited to continue growing and expanding into a variety of developing markets, beyond the UAE. At the same time, we have a number of exciting partnerships in our sights for the UAE, which we hope will bring our vision of a strong fintech ecosystem in the MENA region closer to reality.

Here is our look at fintech around the world.


  • Singapore-based MatchMove launches cross-border remittance platform for businesses.
  • Clik, a payment aggregator and merchant acquirer based in Cambodia, raises $3.7 million in seed funding.
  • Leading Asian financial services platform GoBear teams up with UnionBank to launch lending-as-a-service solution in the Philippines; announces new Chief Financial Officer.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Fiserv inks partnership with Absa Regional Operations (ARO) to enhance credit card management and processing in nine African countries.
  • Ecobank Group unveils the finalists for its fintech challenge, now in its third year. Ten African startups from seven different countries made the cut out of an applicant pool of more than 600.
  • Salaam Gateway looks at the development of Islamic fintech in Kenya.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Onfido to streamline digital identity verification for Poland’s Alior Bank.
  • Russia’s Tinkoff Bank launches new charitable program, Cashback to Give Back.
  • Austrian regtech kompany lands $7.14 million in funding.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Salt Edge partners with Jordan Ahli Bank Cyprus, making it one of the first banking groups in Cyprus to achieve PSD2 compliance.
  • Israeli fintech Approve.com raises $5 million in seed funding for its technology that automates the procurement process.
  • Infosys Finacle to deploy its Liquidity Management platform with National Bank of Bahrain.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Uzbekistan’s People’s Bank partners with Finastra to automate its risk management business.
  • TerraPay collaborates with Bank Alfalah to enable instant money transfers to Pakistan.
  • Indian B2B fintech Signzy announces plans to hire “close to 70” employees over the next six moths in response to increased demand.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Feedzai expands partnership with PayU, enabling the company to enhance its fraud prevention capabilities in Latin America and the EMEA region.
  • TechCrunch profiles Mozper, a digital banking service based in Latin America that caters to parents and Gen Z kids.
  • MercadoLibre announces plans to launch branded credit cards in Brazil and Chile “in the near future.”

Colombian Fintech Startups Dominate Accelerator’s Incoming Class

Village Capital has unveiled the names of the 12 companies that will participate in its Finance Forward Latin America 2020 accelerator program. The incoming cohort will get five weeks of training to help them improve their business models and tailor their solutions for the current demands of the marketplace. The top two peer-selected startups will be eligible to receive $50,000 each in grant funding from program partner MetLife Foundation. Startups ranked third to fifth each will receive $16,000 in grant funding.

What do the 12 startups chosen – from an applicant pool of more than 140 – suggest about the state of fintech innovation in Latin America?

First of all, in some ways, the geographic distribution of companies is representative of what we see in terms of fintech’s strength in the region. Mexico has three representatives, Argentina has two, and Brazil and Chile both have one. Perhaps more surprising is the representation from Colombian fintech, with the country bringing five startups to the program.

Village Capital notes that the selected startups also reflect impressive gender diversity, with more than 80% of the participating companies having one or more female founders. The accelerator also credited the more than 40% of these companies that are innovating “outside major fintech hubs.”

The startups are involved in a wide range of fintech focus areas – from debt management and credit services to e-commerce, “buy now pay later” solutions. Many of these firms offer innovations that are particularly geared toward un- and under-banked populations. Among the more interesting startups in this category are Fundefir, a Colombia startup that specializes in bringing credit and insurance to the underbanked, and Quipu Market, also based in Colombia, which offers an e-commerce marketplace that enables informal microbusinesses to buy and sell locally using community tokens rather than cash.

Village Capital’s accelerator program features the support of PayPal and Moody’s, as well as MetLife Foundation. Since its launch in 2009, Village Capital has worked with more than 1,000 early stage entrepreneurs via its accelerator programs.

“The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating financial effects on low-income populations in Latin America,” Regional Manager for Village Capital Daniel Cossio said. “Now more than ever, tech-driven innovation can be at the forefront of helping small businesses stay afloat, families manage their income, and the region embark on what is bound to be a challenging recovery.”

See the full list of the incoming companies.

Some of the more recent research on fintech in Latin America includes this February report from CB Insights, which helps provide context for the expectations many analysts had for the region at the end of 2019. For insights since the COVID-19 crisis, the May discussion published by Latin America Reports shows how fintech has played a “stabilizing” role in helping businesses and individuals cope with the economic and social impact of the pandemic.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazil’s Nubank acquires U.S.-based consultant firm Cognitect.
  • Payment solutions provider Cohort Go teams up with Brazilian bank Itau as it expands into the country.
  • Konsentus and Open Vector collaborate to bring open banking to financial institutions in Latin America and Canada.


  • Hong Kong payments network infrastructure startup EMQ raises $20 million in funding to accelerate cross-border payments.
  • Venio, a mobile app that specializes in providing financing in emerging markets, goes live in the Philippines.
  • AEE News Today profiles Malaysian fintech Instapay Technologies which recently partnered with Mastercard to launch an e-wallet service for migrant workers.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Alegra, a cloud-based accounting software provider based in Colombia, announces expansion to Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
  • Airtel Africa teams up with Mukuru to enable cross-border payments.
  • Mobile money operators are among the biggest players in fintech in sub-Saharan Africa. TechZim reviews the state of mobile money in the southern part of the continent.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • A biometric facial recognition-based payments system developed by Romanian fintech PayByFace goes live in Bucharest’s Tucano Coffee shops.
  • Nordigen scores payments license from Latvia’s Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FKTK), enabling it to provide account information services.
  • Lithuania’s Bankera introduces business loans for SMEs.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Arabian Business takes a look at the rise in popularity of buy now pay later platforms in the UAE.
  • Dubai International Financial Centre inks Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China’s Jiaozi Fintech Dreamworks.
  • Al Khaleej Today profiles Saudi Arabia-based payments company Tap Payments and its initiatives to help small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian online investment and wealth management platform, Paytm Money, introduces new Chief Executive Officer Varun Sridhar.
  • Uzbekistan’s first digital bank, TBC Bank, goes live with technology from Capital Banking Solutions.
  • Niyo, an India-based neobank, acquires mutual fund investment platform Goalwise.

Photo by Camila Melo from Pexels

Three Fintechs Driving Financial Inclusion in Nigeria

A report earlier this year from PwC highlighted the “changing competitive landscape” for fintech and banking in Nigeria. For those looking to learn more about both the growing impact of technology in financial services in one of the major countries in Africa, as well as the challenge created by COVID-19, PwC’s review provides an comprehensive overview.

The report also concludes with nine recommendations the analysts believe would encourage continued growth in Nigeria’s fintech ecosystem. These recommendations range from making it easier to invest in fintech companies to encouraging partnerships and “strengthen(ing) the synergy between banks and FinTech players” in a mutually beneficial way.

Financial inclusion is a huge part of both the challenge of – and the opportunity for – fintech in Nigeria. The report notes that more than 30 million adult Nigerians do not have or use either formal or informal financial services products or solutions. This represents more than a third of the country’s adult population. And while the report points out that mobile money operators have been among the businesses to help bring more financial services to the underbanked, there are some fintechs that have taken up the cause of financial inclusion, as well. A trio of these companies are highlighted below:

Bankly is a cash digitization and savings platform that caters to Nigeria’s unbanked. The company provides a digital wallet that is secure, convenient, and accessible, and all users require in order to open an account is a phone number. Bankly leverages more than 2,000 agents across 29 of the country’s 36 states to scale the company’s offering.

In operation for just over a year, Bankly has already picked up recognition from the 2019 Innovating Justice Awards sponsored by the Hague Institute for the Innovation of Law. The company has also participated in the GreenHouse Capital accelerator program. Tomilola Adejana (CEO) and Fredrick Adams are co-founders.

Covr Branchless offers banks, insurance companies, and government agencies a suite of applications that enable them to leverage cloud, GPS, and mobile channels to conduct a wide variety of financial processes. Account opening, instant debit card linking, cash withdrawals, fund transfer, billpay, KYC validation and loan origination are among the operations enabled by Covr’s technology.

Covr is owned by Advancio Interactive, a Nigerian technology company focused on sustainable financial access that was founded by Olufisayo Oludare (Managing Director). Covr won Advancio first place at the Startup Istanbul Challenge in the fall of 2017, only the second Africa-based startup to do so.

FairMoney is a online micro lender that provides instant loans from N1,500 to N500,000 (approximately $4 to $1,300), with average loans of about N12,000 ($33-$35). Using the company’s Android mobile app, prospective borrowers apply for financing by answering a few questions and providing some basic financial information. The app analyzes this information – as well as the borrowers geolocation and other factors – to make a loan offer in a matter of minutes.

But what makes the company especially interesting is the fact that it is working to launch a challenger bank. FairMoney raised $11 million in Series A funding last fall for this purpose and plans to expand its offerings to include current and savings accounts.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) encourages government to incentivize the use of QR code transactions and promotes the adoption of open, interoperable standards.
  • Amazon to offer car and motorcycle insurance in India courtesy of partnership with Acko General Insurance.
  • National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) facilitates recurring payments with its new UPI AutoPay feature.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazil’s Central Bank reverses course to authorize payments system involving WhatsApp.
  • Payscout teams up with Brazilian fintech Rede Celer to grow its payments business in the country.
  • Partnership between FacePhi and Naranja X will help bring biometric recognition technology to digital onboarding processes for firms in Argentina.


  • Finovate: Ant Group’s Double IPO Listing Shuns U.S. Exchanges.
  • Trulioo brings its GlobalGateway identity verification technology to customers in Vietnam.
  • Crowdfund Insider takes a look at the impact of COVID-19 on fintech lending platforms in Indonesia.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Telco Orange and bancassurance company NSIA team up to launch Orange Bank Africa to serve underbanked communities in Abidjan and Cote d’Ivoire.
  • Vodacom partners with Ant Financial Services Group to bring Alipay services to South Africa.
  • Uganda-based digital cross-border money transfer startup Eversend raises $1 million via an oversubscribed Seeders crowdfunding campaign.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Germany’s Scalable Capital lands $460 million valuation with new $58 million funding round.
  • Russian bank Tinkoff unveils new functionalities for its financial and lifestyle services voice assistant Oleg.
  • EstateGuru, a P2P lending platform based in Estonia, launches a new payment service in partnership with Lemonway.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Oman’s BankDhofar extends partnership with Diebold Nixdorf to improve the customer experience of its ATM network. Bank Nizwa, also based in Oman, announced an extension of its digital payments partnership with Mastercard.
  • Turkey-based online payments platform Mobilexpress secures $2 million in Series A funding.
  • Spotii, an e-commerce technology provider based in the UAE, unveils new deferred payment option.

Photo by Tope A. Asokere from Pexels

Salt Edge Teams Up with Canadian Fintechs; Sweden’s Tink Acquires Instantor

A number of Finovate alums made international fintech headlines this week. Open banking specialists were particularly active, with Canada’s Salt Edge inking partnerships with fintechs in Ireland, and Sweden’s Tink announcing an acquisition of credit decision solution provider, Instantor.

“We will be able to get a full suite of bank data for any regulated lender in this country within seconds, meaning loan applications can be assessed quicker,” Karl Deeter, founder of OnlineApplication said of the partnership with Salt Edge. “In the Irish market that’s a new proposition.”

Tink’s acquisition of Instantor is only the latest news from a company that has spent much of the year forging strategic partnerships, securing multi-million euro investments, and … acquiring companies. Before Tink’s announced purchase of the Stockholm, Sweden-based credit decisions solution provider this week, the company had pulled out the checkbook to buy fellow Finovate alum Eurobits Technologies.

With regards to its Instantor purchase, Tink sees the company helping it to offer intelligent data-services based on open banking. Instantor supports five million credit decisions a year and reported annual revenues of $4.5 million (€4 million) in 2019.

“This move will help Tink expand their product offering and is unique opportunity to continue to make significant investments in our portfolio of credit decision solutions,” Instantor CEO Simon Edström said. “Together with Tink we will create an even stronger European market leader in open banking.”

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Is Qatar the next big fintech hub for companies looking to expand to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh? MENA FN investigates.
  • Lean, a financial API platform based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, raises $3.5 million in seed funding.
  • UAE-based cross-border fintech marketplace Fintech Galaxy unveils its open innovation platform.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Payment solutions company PayU announces partnerships with a pair of e-commerce platforms: Shiprocket Social and Quick eSelling.
  • Is Qatar the next big fintech hub for companies looking to expand to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh? MENA FN investigates.
  • Pakistan Observer looks at how fintech help support innovation in the Islamic finance sector.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • JP Morgan buys stake in Brazilian digital banking fintech FitBank.
  • “Loans for phones” consumer financing company Finnu raises $800,000 in pre-seed funding to help bring credit options to the underbanked of Mexico and Latin America.
  • Contexto looks at the state of the challenger bank movement in Brazil.


  • PayMaya and Bonds.Ph are working together to drive financial inclusion in the retail investment market in the Philippines.
  • A feature at the World Economic Forum website discusses the role of fintech in helping small businesses in Southeast Asia recover from the global pandemic.
  • Vietnamese digital real estate investment platform RealStake secures seed funding from 500 Startups, as well as angel investors.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • A partnership between Crown Agents Bank and Paycode of South Africa will help promote financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Zazu, a fintech based in Zambia, teams up with global payments company Tutuka to launch its Mastercard-issued virtual card.
  • Techpoint Africa profiles Capetown, South Africa-based remittance specialist, Mukuru.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • German digital banking solution provider CoCoNet launches new business unit.
  • Mastercard takes its partnership with Verestro to the next level with an announcement that the card company has become an investor in the Polish payment solutions provider.
  • Wall Street Journal looks at the Wirecard warning signals missed by German regulators.

China Teams Up with On Demand Transport Firm Didi to Test Digital Currency

The ways that ride-sharing companies in Asia have leveraged their platforms to bring a variety of financial services to underserved communities is one of the more noteworthy – and unexpected – developments in the evolution of fintech in the region.

Many people are familiar with Grab, the car-sharing and food delivery company founded in 2012 and based in Singapore. The firm picked up more than $850 million in funding in February to help fuel both its payments and financial services operations. Grab competes with other similar companies in the region such as Indonesia’s Gojek that have also taken the so-called “Super App” route to diversifying their offerings into e-commerce and financial services.

This week we learn that Asia’s ride sharing industry is helping financial services innovate in another way: China’s Didi has inked a deal with the country’s central bank to test its digital national currency. The strategic partnership, announced earlier this week, is designed to “jointly study and explore the innovation and application of digital RMB in the field of smart mobility.”

Digital RMB trials began earlier this year in April, and involved four Chinese cities – as well as host of major U.S. brands like Starbucks and McDonald’s. China’s top four, state-owned banks have been included in the trials, and are reportedly testing a wallet to enable users to store and send the digital currency. The People’s Bank of China hopes to launch its digital RMB around the time of the 2022 Winter Olympics, to be held in Beijing. The central bank has been working on its digital currency project – known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) since 2014.

We took a look at how different countries around the world have begun to examine the role digital currencies could play in their economies earlier this year in Finovate Global. Here is our reporting on digital currencies and central banks in Europe and the Americas. For more on the pros and cons of digitizing national currencies, check out our coverage from the beginning of the year, as well.

Founded in 2012, Didi has more than 550 million users in China, Asia, Latin America, and Australia who use its on-demand transportation service.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Pair Finance, a digital debt collection company based in Berlin, Germany, secures $2.2 million (€2 million) in new funding from existing investors.
  • U.K.-based banking services provider ELPASO goes live for Ukrainian SMEs and merchants.
  • Paysafe, a payment service provider headquartered in the U.K., launches its Paysafecash solution in Bulgaria.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Paymentology, a cloud-based payment processor based in the U.K., to expand its operations in the Middle East.
  • Discover and Saudi Payments ink strategic agreement that will enable cardholders to use the cars on the country’s mada network.
  • Libyan fintech Tadawul Tech launches its new Electronic Payment Platform.

Central and Southern Asia

  • India’s Paytm to acquire insurance company Raheja QBE in deal valued at $76 million.
  • Central Bank of Sri Lanka to develop blockchain-based KYC platform.
  • Pakistan-based digital wallet SadaPay hires former Gojek executive Jon Sheppard as its new Chief Technology Officer
  • India-based insurtech marketplace PolicyBazaar scores $130 million in new investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Fintech-as-a-service company Rapyd goes live in Mexico with its integrated payment solution.
  • Brazilian fintech Swap, which helps FIs build their own fintech businesses, raises $3.3 million in seed funding.
  • Brazilian SME financial solution provider One7 acquires small business invoice financing firm Rapidoo.


  • Payfazz, an Indonesian company that provides financial services to the underserved communities, raises $53 million in Series B funding.
  • A partnership between Viet Capital Bank, 7-Eleven Vietnam, and JCB International (JCBI) powers the launch of the Viet Capital Bank JCB 7-Eleven credit card.
  • Fintech Futures looks at open banking adoption rates in South Korea.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Global online money transfer services company WorldRemit goes live in Somalia.
  • Nigeria’s Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS) reports an increase in mobile payments of more than 390% since May 2019.
  • Visa launches its online payment solution, Click to Pay, in South Africa.

Photo by Caio from Pexels

solarisBank Raises $67 Million; More MENA Fintech; What’s Next for Wirecard

Berlin, Germany-based “tech company with a banking license” solarisBank has secured $67 million in funding (€60 million). The Series C round was led by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and Storm Ventures, and featured participation from a wide number of investors including BBVA, ABN Amro, SBI Group, Global Brain, Hegus, and Lakestar. Also participating in the oversubscribed round were Vulcan Capital and Samsung Catalyst Fund.

The investment takes the company’s total funding to more than $180 million (€160 million), and will be used to help fuel Solarisbank’s continued expansion throughout Europe. Since 2017, the company has doubled its revenues every year, and grown its product portfolio to include solutions like decoupled debit cards and post-purchase installment products. With more than 400,000 end-customer accounts as of the end of the first half of 2020, the company also announced that it will expand its operations in the cryptocurrency space via its subsidiary solaris Digital Assets.

“solarisBank is continuing its impressive growth and the current financing round will help us to expedite building a pan-European platform,” solarisBank CEO Dr. Roland Folz said in a statement. He added, “We are the leading platform for Banking-as-a-Service in Europe and are excited that this exceptional group of new investors will now be a part of our journey.”

More on MENA Fintech

Last week we reported on a study that highlighted the fintech innovations that were most likely to drive financial inclusion in the MENA region. This week we note another report on fintech in the Middle East and Northern Africa, this time from Deloitte, which noted a growing appetite for fintech solutions from the region’s banking customers.

At the same time, Deloitte Digital’s Middle East FinTech Study, released in June, cautioned that further fintech development in the region faces challenges with regard to financing, and a wariness from traditional banks toward engaging fintechs. The latter issue in particular reflects what the report authors – Rushdi Duqah and Anthony Yazitzis – call “a certain degree of contradiction and dichotomy.”

“Customer behavior across the Middle East, especially in KSA, is characterized by a willingness to adopt innovative solutions offered by banks,” Duqah and Yazitzis observed. The two highlighted P2P money transfers, account aggregation, and roboadvisory as three such areas. “However, banks are not leveraging the full suite of FinTech solutions/features to address customer’s needs and requirements to enhance the daily banking journey and experience,” they wrote.

Read the full report to see how “harmonization and trust” are the path forward for financial services companies, fintechs, and banks in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

What’s Next for Wirecard?

We reported on the crisis facing Germany’s Wirecard two weeks ago in Finovate Global. Company CEO Markus Braun stepped down amid reports that Wirecard could not account for $2.1 billion in cash, and concerns that the company was “the victim of fraud of considerable proportions.”

This week we learned that Braun has been arrested – though since released on bail – and that Deutsche Bank has engaged with the now-bankrupt company and is considering providing financial support. A report in Bloomberg noted that Deutsche Bank had conducted talks with Wirecard last spring (referred to as “preliminary discussions” that were quickly concluded) and that, despite its woes, Wirecard could be a potentially attractive acquisition target thanks to its partnerships with Visa, Mastercard, and JCB International.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Billed as “the grand fintech consolidation,” TechCabal takes a look at MFS Africa’s purchase of SME digital payments provider Beyonic.
  • Nigerian fintech Wallets Africa locks in new funding from investors including Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel.
  • The East African makes the case for Kenya as a top destination for venture capital in Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Top banking-as-a-service platform solarisBank raises $67 million (€ 60 million) in Series C funding.
  • Electronic payment network Paysera expands to Kosovo.
  • Azerbaijan’s Xalq Bank launches Compass Plus’ open development platform, TranzAxis.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Digital property management and rent collection platform Ajar earns UAE’s Most Trusted Fintech in 2020 honors from APAC Business Headlines.
  • UAE’s central bank and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) announce the start of their annual Fintech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge for fintechs developing solutions for local small businesses.
  • Dubai’s Mamo Pay earns spot in Visa’s Finech Fast Track Program.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Transfast, a U.S.-based cross-border payments company, partners with Pakistan’s Habib Bank to enable money transfers to Pakistan.
  • Bangalore, India-based fintech Zeta announces expansion into Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Indian gold lending startup, Rupeek, unveils zero contact gold loan kiosks to support touchless financing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican fintech ePesos announces $21 million debt financing round with Accial Capital.
  • BizCapital, a lending startup based in Brazil, raises $12 million in funding thanks to an investment from Germany development finance institution, DEG.
  • Credit Suisse buys 35% of Brazilian digital bank modalmais.


  • Myanmar Citizens Bank (MCB Bank) issues MPU-JCB co-branded debit cards.
  • Razer’s fintech arm, Razer Fintech launches new initiative to support local businesses in Malaysia during the global health care crisis of COVID-19.
  • KrASIA profiles Indonesian fintech Akulaku, which offers online credit, wealth management, and digital banking services in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

Oh Canada! A Tribute to the Top Fintechs from the Great White North

Today is Canada Day, which commemorates the date in 1867 when three provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada Province (now known as Ontario and Quebec) – united to form a single nation. And while the global public health crisis may limit the holiday’s typical parades, cook-outs, fireworks demonstrations, and concerts, rest assured that Canadians all over the world will find a way to celebrate what is colloquially – if a bit inaccurately – referred to as “Canada’s birthday.”

With this in mind, the Finovate blog sends a hearty “Happy Canada Day!” to the dozens of Canadian fintechs that have demonstrated their innovative solutions at our conferences over the past decade-plus.

Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels