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.

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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.

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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.

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Solaris Bank to Secure Cryptocurrencies; Brazilian Fintechs Announce New Funding

Join us next month in Berlin, Germany for FinovateEurope 2020. Our three-day fintech conference will begin on February 11 and run through February 13.

The event features both our signature, seven-minute, live technology demonstrations, as well as keynote addresses, roundtables, and case studies on many of the most critical issues in fintech. Check out our conference agenda and stay tuned for more about our speakers and demoing companies.

Here’s our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Austrian mobile payments firm Bluecode raises $13.4 million (€12 million) from European Private Venture Capitalists.
  • German fintech Solaris Bank announces plans to offer custodial services to cryptocurrency investors.
  • Ukraine’s mobile-only bank Monobank to expand to the U.K. in 2020.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • IBM brings its fraud prevention technology to Qatar International Islamic Bank.
  • PYMNTS looks at the opportunities PSD2 may offer Turkish banks.
  • Egypt-based fintech Dayra wins $15,000 grant from Y Combinator’s Startup School, the first MENA-based startup to do so.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Business Recorder interviews Syed Mohsin Ahmed, CEO of Pakistan Microfinance Network.
  • Fintech Singapore lists India’s top fintech influencers for 2020.
  • Makers India highlights five women who are driving fintech innovation in India.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Born2Invest examines the impact of mobile money on Argentina’s banking industry.
  • Brazilian fintech Cora raises $10 million in funding to help provide financial services to SMEs.
  • Rebel, a startup that helps provide credit to middle-class Brazilians, rakes in $10 million in equity funding.

Asia-Pacific

  • With closing of a 70% stake in China’s GoPay, PayPal is the first non-Chinese firm licensed to offer payment services in the country.
  • FIS’ global ecommerce platform, Worldpay, partners with Japanese issuer and acquirer JCB.
  • Who are the top contenders in Singapore’s digital banking race? Fintech Singapore reviews the field.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Micro-investing startup Trove picks up an investment from Nigerian asset management company, ARM.
  • Kontomatik’s Konstantin Rabin looks at South Africa’s position as an “unlikely fintech leader.”
  • Julaya, a startup based in Ivory Coast that specializes in digitizing financial services for small businesses, raises $550,000 in funding..

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

Investors Flock to Mexican Neobanks; Ant Financial, Ali Baba Ink Pact with ICBC

The challenger bank revolution is alive and well in Mexico. This week, three upstart financial institutions in the Latin American country were the recipients of a combined $20+ million in funding. The investments are a testament to the way local entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity to provide banking services to a growing number of previously underbanked people in Mexico.

For some observers, Mexican banks have long been ripe for disruption. A 2017 feature in The Financial Times cited a Gallup poll in which more than three in four customers in Mexico were “indifferent to, or unhappy with their bank.” The same article noted that challenger banks and other fintechs could take as much as 30% of the Mexican banking market in the next ten years due to inefficiencies in the current banking system. Incumbents have also been criticized for a lack of outreach to the underbanked, to younger potential customers, and to the digitally savvy.

Check out Thiago Paiva’s in-depth look at the Mexican neobank market – and how some incumbents are fighting back – published at TechCrunch this fall. Paiva is product manager at Oyster, a challenger bank for Latin American SMEs.

Here’s our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Trulioo goes live with its GlobalGateway in Nigeria and Ghana.
  • Disrupt-Africa looks at the expansion and fundraising plans of South African payments startup Airbuy.
  • Kenyan insurtech firm Turaco closes $2.1 million seed funding round.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Wefox, an insurtech based in Berlin, Germany, locks in $110 million extension to its Series B round.
  • Based in Latvia and founded in Russia, Robocash announces plans to raise $5 million in funding over the next six month to support expansion to SE Asia.
  • An AML startup founded by former workers at TransferWise and Skype, Estonia’s Salv has raised $2 million in seed funding.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • National Bank of Fujairah, based in the UAE, readies for the launch of its new SME banking platform.
  • Oman’s Bank Muscat introduces $100 million fintech investment program.
  • UAE fintech FlexxPay locks in an investment from Wamda.

Central and Southern Asia

  • ZestMoney, an Indian fintech specializing in providing credit assessment and financing for the underbanked, raises $14 million as part of an extended Series B round featuring participation by Goldman Sachs.
  • Delhi, India-based SME lender LivFin secures in $5 million in growth funding.
  • What can Central Asian companies learn from Southeast Asia when it comes to building a fintech industry?

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican neobank Albo adds $17 million to its Series A, taking the round’s total to more than $26 million.
  • Flink, a Mexico-based challenger bank, receives seed funding from Spanish fintech Latina.
  • Challenger bank Fondeadora reels in $2.5 million in funding.

Asia-Pacific

  • Ant Financial and Alibaba ink strategic payments partnership with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).
  • Hong Kong’s WeLab picks up $156 million to fund its digital bank launch in 2020.
  • ZA Bank pilots internet-only banking services in Hong Kong, the first FI to do so in the city.

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

SoftBank Showers Latin American Fintechs with Millions in New Capital

SoftBank Backs Latin America

Last week, the international fintech buzz was all about the booming investment in African startups. As you can see in our sub-Saharan Africa section below, that buzz continues as analysts wonder how African fintechs can best leverage their good financial fortunes of late.

But this week, it’s all about Latin America as fintechs from Mexico to Argentina lock in triple digit investments. What’s especially interesting is that two of the week’s biggest beneficiaries – Konfio and Uala – have the same participating benefactor in SoftBank.

The investment in Argentina’s Uala was the first time the Japanese-based firm had funded a company from Argentina, but not SoftBank’s first funding in the region. The firm invested $1 billion in Colombian delivery app Rappi in April of this year. SoftBank has a deeper history investing in Mexican startups, having funded payments startup Clip and used car buying platform Kavak. SoftBank is also especially active in Brazil; the firm led a $140 million round for the country’s e-commerce solution provider VTEX in November.

FinovateEurope Goes to Berlin!

It’s not too early to start thinking and planning for 2020 – especially with our first conference right around the corner in February.

After six years of basing our annual European fintech conference in London, Finovate is crossing the channel and setting up our stage in Berlin, Germany next year. Our new FinovateEurope location will also feature a new event format designed to ensure attendees maximize their time at the conference. Take a look at our developing agenda to see what we have in store February 11th through the 13th.

Here’s our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Asia-Pacific

  • Singapore’s FinAccel, maker of Kredivo, raises $90 million in round led by Asia Growth Fund and Square Peg.
  • Maybank Group, the fourth largest bank by assets in Southeast Asia, goes livewith Avaloq’s banking suite.
  • South Korea announces plans to launch opening banking system before year’s end.
  • Vymo brings AI-powered sales coaching to insurance giant Sompo.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Can Africa’s fintech startups learn from the experience of M-Pesa? TechCrunch considers the opportunities now available thanks to recent positive funding trends.
  • A partnership between Smartstream and Union Systems will help African FIs digitize their post-trade environments.
  • QuartzAfrica takes a look at the “niche ecosystems” that are developing amid Africa’s rapidly expanding fintech industry.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Berlin, Germany-based SME digital banking platform Penta teams up with SumUp.
  • First Investment Bank (Fibank) goes live with the first, PSD2-compliant, open banking platform in Bulgaria.
  • Tinkoff GDRs will be included in MOEX Russia indices next month.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Sudan’s Nile Bank is the latest FI to choose Oracle’s Flexcube core banking solution.
  • Temenos teams up with Egyptian National Post Organization.
  • Dubai Financial Services Authority inks fintech pact with Luxembourg’s Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier.

Central and Southern Asia

  • DriveWealth helps Indian investors access U.S. stocks via new partnership.
  • Indian banking technology provider TCS Financial Solutions migrates three credit unions to a cloud-version of its TCS Bancs system.
  • Paysend introduces worldwide money transfers to Uzbekistan.
  • Sri Lanka’s central bank examines the possibility of applying blockchain technology to streamline KYC processes for FIs.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Uala, a money management app from Argentina, raises $150 million in Series C round led by Tencent and SoftBank.
  • Mexican SME credit assessment specialist Konfio closes $100 million investment from SoftBank.
  • MercadoLibre picks up $125 million loan from Goldman Sachs.

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

Nigerian Fintechs Near $400m Week; Ant Financial Eyes License in Singapore

The nearly-$400 million poured into fintech companies in Nigeria alone this week is being remarked upon as a testament to the growing investor interest in sub-Saharan Africa. The three recipients of the new capital in recent days are OPay ($120 million), Interswitch ($200 million), and PalmPay ($40 million). The investors include Sequoia Capital China and SoftBank Ventures Asia, as well as China’s Transsion and Visa.

For comparison, African fintechs raised $357 million in all of 2018, according to a 2019 report from the GSM Association, The Mobile Economy, Sub-Saharan Africa. Quoted in the Financial Times on the week’s funding news, Guaranty Trust Bank chief executive Segun Agbaje credited the payments industry for the surge in investment, calling the growth in the sector “probably like no other on the continent.”

Finovate made its African debut last year in Cape Town, South Africa. For an in-depth look at recent trends in African fintech, check out Jonathan Gregson’s “Africa’s Fintech Makeover.”

China’s impact on international fintech is also evident in the news that Ant Financial is considering applying for a virtual banking license in Singapore. Successfully securing such a license would enable Ant Financial to compete against Chinese incumbents like DBS Group Holdings and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. Ant Financial secured a license to operate a digital wallet in Hong Kong last year.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazil’s digital bank Neon raises $94 million in round led by General Atlantic and Brazil Banco Votorantim.
  • Biz Latin Hub’s Craig Dempsey makes the case for Mexico as the fintech sector to watch in 2020.
  • Mexican non-bank wallet service Todito Cash inks partnerships with four financial payment solutions companies.

Asia-Pacific

  • Ant Financial may be one the hunt for a Singaporean virtual banking license, reports Bloomberg, following the online finance titan’s recent scoring of a license to operate a digital wallet in Hong Kong.
  • InstaReM rebrands as Nium, announces cross border payments partnership with Cambodian banking group, PhillipBank.
  • Indonesia’s biggest banking group, Bank Mandiri will use the Avaloq’s Banking Suite to run its wealth management division, which has $14 billion in assets under management.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigeria’s OPay raises $120 million in new funding. The investment adds to the $50 million the mobile payments service raised in June.
  • Asilimia, a Kenya-based fintech that helps SMEs access more efficient mobile payment solutions, secures $350,000 in funding.
  • South African digital commerce fintech Vectra wins Seedstars Cape Town competition.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Revolut reaches 250,000 users in Hungary and reports an 8x gain in monthly transaction volume since the beginning of the year.
  • Latvia-based, P2P lending platform TWINO surpasses €1 billion euros in originated loans.
  • Tradeshift moves Bucharest team to larger office in Tower Center, announces plans to hire more staff next year.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • A partnership between BPC and WeNet will bring a new instant payments system to Yemen.
  • ZagTrader wins full certification for its market making technology from Bourse Kuwait.
  • In partnership with the Dubai Financial Services Authority, Wethaq pilots Sukuk issuance on its securities market infrastructure.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Perfios, a fintech software company based in Bengaluru, raises $50 million from Warburg Pincus and Bessemer Venture Partners.
  • Pakistan’s Askari Bank selects Finastra’s trade finance solution.
  • CredoLabNeener Analytics, and Vymo win finalist spots in the India FinTech Forum’s IFTA 2019 awards.

Visa’s Minority Stake in Interswitch Creates Africa’s Latest Fintech Unicorn

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.

FinovateMiddleEast returns to Dubai next week, November 20 and 21. Learn about our Day One and Day Two agendas, our demoing companies, and then visit our FinovateMiddleEast registration page and pick up your ticket today.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Yes Bank launches India’s largest banking developer platform.
  • Pakistan-based digital lending platform Finja closes $3 million convertible note funding round.
  • India’s National Stock Exchange launches an open trading API sandbox.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mastercard partners with Mexico’s weex wallet to offer physical debit cards.
  • Colombian fintech Simetrik inks agreement to serve as payment gateway for Mercado Pago transactions.
  • Brazilian lender Banco Inter unveils new e-commerce app.

Asia-Pacific

  • MoneyGram and Wing partner to launch new mobile wallet in Cambodia.
  • Bank of International Settlements (BIS) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) agree to locate the BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Singapore.
  • New Hong Kong license in hand, Tencent announces plans to build a blockchain-based digital bank.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Visa acquires minority stake in Nigerian digital payments company Interswitch Group, an investment that takes the African firm’s valuation to $1 billion.
  • South African P2P insurance provider Pineapple wins $1.5 million (R22.5 million) in taking home top prize in the Connecticut Innovations VentureClash 2019 competition.
  • Kenya institutes data protection law to support investment in its technology sector.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Billon, a Polish-British blockchain company, joins initiative with Raiffeisen Bank International to digitize the euro.
  • Trusted identities innovator OneSpan partners with Poland’s Bank Millennium.
  • Visa teams up with Georgian challenger bank Space.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • A new interest-free, credit service, Postpay, goes live in Dubai.
  • Executive Magazine looks at the fintech industry in Lebanon and the role of regulation in stimulating growth.
  • Tunisia announces the digitization of its national currency, the dinar, making the first country to convert a portion of its money supply to digital form.

Top image designed by Freepik