Mambu and Signicat Team Up to Digitize Identity Management in Europe

Mambu and Signicat Team Up to Digitize Identity Management in Europe

A just-announced partnership between two Finovate alums – Mambu and Signicat – will bring digitized identity management services to banks, fintechs, and financial service providers across Europe. The collaboration between the SaaS banking platform and the digital identity company is designed to help institutions in the region leverage innovations in identity management to boost customer acquisition, enhance the customer experience, and defend against identity fraud.

The single-API integration between Signicat’s identity platform and Mambu will enable users to apply a variety of digital identity verification solutions to a range of processes, including onboarding, identity authentication, and e-signatures. In their joint statement, both companies highlighted abandonment as one challenge the new integration will help companies meet. They noted that 63% of consumers in Europe quit at least one financial app in the last year, citing research conducted by Signicat.

At the same time, the integration also will help companies deal with the new environment for cybercrime, particularly identity fraud, which has flourished in the work-from-home, COVID-19 era. “Identity fraud continues to be a major threat to businesses across the globe and damages trust,” Mambu Managing Director for EMEA Eelco-Jan Boonstra said. “And with everyone working from home – the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this. Therefore financial service providers are relying on customer trust and loyalty more than ever.”

Asger Hattel, who took over as Signicat’s CEO in January of last year, underscored the way the pandemic had accelerated pre-existing trends toward digitization. “Global lockdowns have turned a desire for digital services into an urgent need,” Hattel said. “Our research into consumer attitudes towards onboarding show that financial service providers are struggling to keep up with consumer’s digital demands – and it is costing them customers.”

Mambu’s partnership with Signicat comes in the wake of the Mambu’s $132+ million (€110 million) fundraising last month – which brought the company’s total valuation to more than $2 billion (€1.7 billion). Also last month, Mambu announced the addition of new Chief Financial Officer Langley Eide. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Berlin, Germany, Mambu is an alum of both our Finovate conferences – debuting in 2013 at FinovateAsia – and our event for developers and engineers – FinDEVr New York, in 2016.

Based in Trondheim, Norway, Signicat specializes in providing identity assurance worldwide, enabling banks to leverage existing customer identity to accelerate onboarding, improve access to services, and connect users, devices, and more across channels and markets. A Finovate alum since 2017, Signicat has raised $8.8 million in funding from investors including Horizon 2020, Viking Venture, and Secure Identity Holding.


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Yoco Reaches 120,000 Served Milestone; Five Top Insurtechs in Vietnam

Yoco Reaches 120,000 Served Milestone; Five Top Insurtechs in Vietnam

The rise of insurtech – entrepreneurs and innovators looking to do for insurance what fintechs have done for financial services – is a global phenomenon. And one of the areas where insurtech is beginning to take hold is Vietnam. The country experienced a fintech mini-boom from 2017 to 2019 which, among other things, helped put the country’s nascent insurtech market on the map. This week’s Finovate Global Lists shares Fintech News Singapore’s roundup of insurtechs operating in the APAC market of Vietnam that are leveraging everything from mobile to machine learning to bring digital insurance to the more than 97 million citizens of the country.

INSO. Founded in 2018. Headquartered in Hanoi, INSO offers insurance products online as well as the ability to make claims online. The company was among the first in the country to offer flight delay insurance. Vũ Nguyễn Thuỳ Vân is CEO.

OPES. Founded in 2018. Headquartered in Hanoi, OPES Insurance Joint Stock Company is a pioneer in Vietnam’s digital insurance industry. OPES specializes in providing personalized insurance solutions to empower customers rather than brokers.

Papaya. Founded in 2018. Headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, Papaya offers a one-stop shop for employee benefits to promote health and wellness. Hung Phan is co-founder and CEO.

Save Money. Founded in 2013. Headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, Save Money is a B2B2C digital insurance platform for banks, hospitals, and telecommunication companies. Trần Quang Ninh is founder and CEO.

Wicare. Founded in 2018. Headquartered in Hanoi, Wicare is a lifestyle insurance company that leverage gamification to boost engagement and encourage customers to exercise. Quang Ngoc Nguyen is founder and CEO.


It’s been more than two years since Finovate launched its first conference on the African continent. In that time, we’ve seen a number of alums from FinovateAfrica in the fintech news headlines: Best of Show-winning digital wealth technology company Bambu raised $10 million, credit decisioning solution provider RISQ teamed up with Aion Digital, and this week, small business solution provider Yoco, headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa, reported that it has reached a major milestone: more than 120,000 small businesses served.

“Through our platform and the results of a recent merchant survey, we have seen up to a 90% decrease in in-person transactions since the lockdown began,” Yoco CEO told TechGist Africa last year when it launched a trio of new payment solutions to support online transactions for small businesses. “We knew that the best way to support our merchants was to develop products that would enable them to do business online and keep money coming in through this period.”

This week for Finovate Global Voices we present Bradley Wattrus, Yoco CFO and co-founder, and Clayton Brett, Capital Product Owner, demoing the Yoco Capital solution for SMEs at FinovateAfrica 2018.


Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Asia-Pacific

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


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Neobanks in South America; Swedish Payments Firm Trustly Eyes $11 Billion IPO

Neobanks in South America; Swedish Payments Firm Trustly Eyes $11 Billion IPO

Earlier this week we reported on the $400 million Series G closed by Brazilian neobank – and Finovate alum – Nubank. The firm, founded in 2013 and based in Sao Paulo, serves more than 34 million customers in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, and offers a digital savings account, a no-fee credit card, as well as personal loans. This week’s investment boosts the company’s total capital to $1.2 billion and gives the Brazilian digital bank a valuation of $25 billion.

We also suggested that Nubank’s news was a good opportunity for fintech fans to “brush up” on fintech in general when it comes to Latin America – and the region’s challenger banking industry in specific. To this end, for this week’s Finovate Global Reports, we are sharing this look at neobanks in South America, courtesy of Fintechnews Switzerland.

“South America has seen an exceptionally dynamic evolution of its neobanking landscape,” the authors wrote, “with now more than 30 live neobanks and digital banks that serve over 50 million customers out of the region’s 430 million+ population (+11%), data from Dutch fintech consultancy firm Fincog shows.”

An Overview of South America’s Booming Neobanking Sector is a great way to get to know how and why challenger banks are finding fertile ground in countries ranging from Brazil and Colombia to Peru and Argentina.


Swedish payments company Trustly, which made its Finovate debut back in 2013 at FinovateEurope in London, is betting that even after a year that featured a record number of initial public offerings, the investing public is hungry for more.

Reuters reported earlier this week that Trustly is planning an initial public offering in Q2 of this year that could earn the company a valuation of $11 billion (EUR 9 billion). Nordic Capital, which acquired Trustly in 2018, is said to be working with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Carnegie, with additional banks to be brought onboard as well. According to Reuters, the company is targeting “late April or early May” for an IPO. Both Trustly and Nordic Capital have not commented on the IPO rumor.

Headquartered in Stockholm and founded in 2008, Trustly specializes in enabling payments directly from customer online bank accounts. Trustly processes more than four million payments a month and reported revenues of EUR 130 million in 2019. The company estimates 2020 revenues of EUR 200 million. Trustly has more than 7,600 bank partners and 600 million consumers in Europe and North America who rely on its account-to-account network to bypass the card networks simply and securely.

In 2019, Trustly merged with PayWithMyBank, a U.S.-based company, to provide what Trustly CEO Oscar Berglund called “the first and only online banking payments network with transatlantic coverage.” Berglund added that the union of the two firms was “transformative” and said it would “accelerate” Trustly’s goal of reaching global coverage.

“Together we’re thrilled to be able to offer merchants and billers a unique alternative to card payments, allowing them to accept payments from 600 million consumers across Europe and the U.S.,” he said.

Earlier this month, Trustly announced the appointment of new Group Chief Financial Officer Mats Backman. Backman comes to Trustly after a tenure as CFO at publicly-traded automotive technology company Veoneer. Last fall, the Swedish payments innovator added a number of executives to its ranks, including Karim Ahmad as its new Global Chief Technology and Product Officer. Ahmad was formerly the Chief Product and Transformation Officer at Paysafe Group.


Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Asia-Pacific

  • EyeVerify, which twice won Finovate Best of Show awards for its biometric authentication technology, may be on the market after being acquired by Ant Financial in 2016 for $100 million.
  • Malaysian-based supply chain finance and P2P financing platform CapBay raises $20 million in Series A.
  • Robowealth, a fintech based in Thailand, secures Series A funding from Beacon Venture Capital, Kasikornbank’s corporate VC arm.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Mobile banking startup Spot Money launches in South Africa, billing itself as the country’s first open banking platform.
  • Kenya-based Safaraicom goes live with its M-Pesa bill management service.
  • Synthesis launches Halo, the first of its kind tap-on-phone contactless payment solution for the African market.

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia


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Brazilian Challenger Nubank Hauls in $400 Million

Brazilian Challenger Nubank Hauls in $400 Million

Followers of Finovate Global, our weekly look at fintech innovation around the world, are likely familiar with the story of Brazilian challenger bank Nubank. But with news of the firm’s $400 million Series G round – announced today – we suspect there will be quite a few fintech fans brushing up on the fintech industry in Latin America.

Company founder and CEO David Velez said that the funding will help Nubank grow and diversify its client base, as well as fuel expansion. He added that bringing more products to market is key to becoming the kind of “full service financial institution for clients” that Latin American consumers need. Nubank currently offers a digital savings account, and a no-fee credit card, as well as personal loans. A recent acquisition of Brazilian broker Easyinvest last fall, Nubank’s third of 2020, suggests that investment products also may soon be among the challenger bank’s offerings.

Headquartered in Brazil’s largest city São Paulo, NuBank has earned a valuation of $25 billion with its latest investment. The Series G was led by GIC, Whale Rock Capital Management, and Invesco, and featured participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Tencent Holdings, Dragoneer Investment Group, and Ribbit Capital. The investment more than doubles Nubank’s previous valuation, based its July 2019 funding. The funding also takes the company’s total capital to $1.2 billion and places Nubank among the top five financial institutions in the region.

Nubank serves more than 34 million customers in Brazil and Mexico, and recently expanded to Colombia. The company is part of a growing neobank movement in the country – and the region – that is taking advantage of the inefficiencies of incumbent banks. This, in fact, was a major motivating factor for Velez, as he explained last fall announcing the move into neighboring Colombia.

“Nubank was born out of the conviction that through technology, design, data science and a customer-centric vision we could create a new generation of financial services that make people’s lives easier, with no complexity and no bureaucracy,” Velez said last fall. “All Latin Americans deserve a more simple, transparent and human banking experience. Today, I’m proud to announce the arrival of Nubank in Colombia, my motherland. Our goal is to have a positive impact in the life of millions.”

Founded in 2013, Nubank participated in our developers conference, FinDEVR New York in 2016. At the event, Nubank co-founder and CTO Edward Wible and Principal Software Engineer Lucas Cavalcanti dos Santos led a presentation titled, “Our Money, Our Rulebook,” that explained how they build an in-house accounting system based on functional programming principles. For the past two years in a row, Nubank has been named by Forbes magazine as the Best Bank in Brazil, and Fast Company has dubbed Nubank the “most innovative company in Latin America.”


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A Look at Up and Coming Fintechs in India and Africa

A Look at Up and Coming Fintechs in India and Africa

With 2021 underway, fintech analysts and observers have begun sharing their lists of companies they expect to do big things in the coming year. This week, Finovate Global Lists shares two compilations of fintech startups from India and Africa that are raising millions in capital and bringing a variety of digital financial services to underserved consumers and businesses.

In India, these innovators range from online payments and banking technology company Cashfree to crypto trading platform CoinDCX (which we profiled in Finovate Global last spring). Inc42’s Suprita Anupam notes that the global health crisis of COVID-19 served “as a booster” for India’s fintech sector, citing year-on-year growth in transaction volumes of 70%.

Looking at fintech in sub-Saharan Africa, TechCabal’s Alexander Onukwue leverages Disrupt Africa’s 2020 tech startups funding report to highlight emerging African fintechs. Fara Jituboh-Ashiru’s Okra, which enables bank accountholders to link their accounts with lending and banking apps, and P2P mobile payments company Chipper Cash, were among the companies highlighted in Onukwue’s survey.


Javier García

This week our Finovate Global Voices feature comes to us courtesy of Nathan Lustig, entrepreneur, investor, and managing partner at Magma Partners. Launched in 2014 and headquartered in Santiago, Chile, Magma Partners is an early stage investment company that specializes in Latin American startups innovating in fintech, insurtech, and infrastructure.

Among the firm’s portfolio companies are Billpocket, the “Square of Latin America”; Albo, a mobile banking service for the unbanked; and an Ecuadorian/Colombian fintech, Kushki, based in U.S. that seeks to be the “Stripe of Latin America.”

Lustig is also a podcaster, and in his most recent Crossing Borders Podcast, he talks with Javier García, Director of Corporate Venturing and Growth Capital at the corporate VC fund of Mexican conglomerate FEMSA.

The two discuss the work of FEMSA’s fund in Latin America, including the firm’s investment strategy, recommendations for fintechs working with incumbents, and lessons García has learned in working with startups.


Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

Asia-Pacific

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa


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Grab Secures $300 Million Investment; A Look at Fintech in Latin America

Grab Secures $300 Million Investment; A Look at Fintech in Latin America

One of the greatest “How It Started” vs “How It Going” stories in international fintech these days continues to be the rise of Grab Financial, the spin-off from ride-hailing and food delivery company Grab. The Singapore-based company announced this week that it has secured more than $300 million in a round led by Hanwha Asset Management of South Korea. The investment, which also featured participation from K3 Ventures, GGV Capital, Arbor Ventures, and Flourish Ventures, gives the company an estimated valuation of $3 billion.

“We are at an inflection point in Southeast Asia,” Grab Financial Group senior managing director Reuben Lai said, “as the pandemic has accelerated the need for digital financial services that help us grow and protect our incomes.” The company reported that the new capital will help support the hiring of additional talent, as well as fuel expansion and the introduction of new products.

Among the recent accomplishments of Grab’s fintech division are a 40% gain in 2020 revenues, a 4x increase in users of its insurance distribution offering, and the launch of its first wealth management solution. Grab – as part of its consortium with Singtel – was also among the fortunate few to earn approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to launch a digital bank.


This week’s Finovate Global Reports features a fresh look at fintech in Latin America courtesy of EBANX annual Beyond Borders 2020/2021 study. The report looks at the impact of COVID-19 on cross-border e-commerce and payments trends in Latin America.

Among the key insights include the centrality of mobile in driving digital consumption of services as 4G becomes more widespread throughout the region. The report also suggests that Latin America has the potential to rival southeast Asia in terms of the growth of its e-commerce sector.


For our international Finovate Global Alumni Profile this week, here’s a look at ModularBank, a digital banking solution provider based in Estonia that raised €4 million in new funding this week. The company, which demoed its technology at FinovateEurope 2019 in London, offers a modern, API-based, banking-as-a-service solution to help businesses leverage new business models and gain competitive advantage.

“Increasingly, people are demanding more flexible and convenient services that fit around the way they work and live and in response, there is a wave of digitalization and embedded finance on the horizon, beginning to build,” explained Modularbank CEO Vilve Vene upon announcement of the company’s recent funding.

“To harness this momentum there is a real need for lean, yet sophisticated core banking technology … Modularbank was set up to enable banks and other customer-facing businesses to devise and roll out personalized banking services quickly and easily.”


Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

Asia-Pacific

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe


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India’s CRED Raises $81 Million; Germany’s N26 Expands to Brazil

India’s CRED Raises $81 Million; Germany’s N26  Expands to Brazil

CRED, a credit card repayment company based in Bangalore, India, has scored $81 million in funding courtesy of a Series C round announced earlier this week. Led by existing investor DST Global, the investment featured the participation of Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global, and General Catalyst, and gives the company a valuation of $806 million.

The company’s founder Kunal Shah said in a statement that the funds would help support CRED’s growth and added that CRED is committed to providing wealth-creation opportunities for its employees, as well. Shah said that the company has allocated 10% of its cap table for ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans).

CRED processes a fifth of all credit card bill payments in India. The membership-based company rewards those who pay via CRED with CRED coins that can be used to win exclusive rewards or to earn access to curated products and services. More than 35% of premium credit card holders in the country use CRED, which has seen its overall user base climb to more than 5.9 million users. The company also benefits from creditworthy borrowers – the median credit core for CRED users is 830. CRED members reportedly spend on average 2x the amount of the average CRED user.


For some, news that German digital bank N26 was entering the increasingly competitive challenger banking market in Brazil was met with a loud “it’s about time!” The neobank, which previewed its intentions to launch operations in Brazil back in 2019, may have been temporarily wrong-footed by the twin complications of Brexit and COVID-19. But the news this week suggests that the firm is back on track with its Latin American expansion plans – and a showdown with Nubank.

Not only is Nubank the home team when it comes to neobanking in Brazil, the institution is also the biggest challenger bank in the world in terms of customers and valuation (25 million of the former, $10 billion of the latter). This compares favorably with N26’s five million customers and valuation of approximately $3.5 billion. That said, the Berlin-based challenger bank has significant wind at its back, having just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its arrival in the U.S. back in August and, more recently, locking in $100 million in one of the largest funding rounds of 2020.


Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Berlin, Germany-based Mambu raises $135 million in new funding.
  • Russian bank Tinkoff announces that its voice assistant is now available as both Oleg (male) and Olya (female).
  • PYMNTS.com features Toms Niparts, CEO of Jeff, an app-based lending platform headquartered in Latvia.

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Bank of Jamaica announces plan to regulate electronic retail PSPs as part of strategy to boost the country’s $4 billion e-payments business.
  • German digital bank N26 picks up banking license from the Brazilian central bank.
  • Critics have called a new regulation in Mexico that bars third-parties from using platforms or APIs to offer financial services directly “a death sentence” for the fintech-as-a-service model in the country.

Asia-Pacific

Sub-Saharan Africa


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Bitpanda Backs Fintech Innovation in Poland; ThetaRay Inks Deal in Spain

Bitpanda Backs Fintech Innovation in Poland; ThetaRay Inks Deal in Spain

There’s no better time than the present to plan for the future. That’s the approach taken by European fintech Bitpanda, which announced earlier this week that it was investing €10 million ($12 million) to launch a technology and innovation hub in Poland. The initiative will be headquartered in Krakow and will employ 300 engineering professionals with diverse backgrounds to “develop innovative and challenging projects” to improve finance and bring “transparency” to investing. Bitpanda co-founder and CTO Christian Trummer will lead the effort.

 “While staying true to our goal of tearing down financial barriers, innovating with speed in a more nimble and proactive manner is just as critical as looking at Bitpanda’s assets through a different and forward-looking lens as the company gains momentum,” Trummer said in a statement. “I’m confident that we will be able to attract the most skilled professionals from the whole region, running from Backend Developers, Software, Machine Learning and QA Engineers to Product Owners and Scrum Masters.”

The hub announcement comes in the wake of Bitpanda’s $52 million Series A round in September – led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures – and follows the company’s successful 2020 expansions to Spain, France, and Turkey. Bitpanda’s Series A was among the largest in Europe this year.

“Placing Bitpanda’s first Technology & Innovation Hub in Krakow, with its globally-renowned developers, an exciting local tech scene and geographical proximity to Vienna, was a pretty clear choice for us,” Bitpanda co-founder and CEO Eric Demuth said. “It’s the best asset to attracting the right talent who can help Bitpanda pursue innovation of the highest standard.”

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Vienna, Austria, Bitpanda is a leading European neobroker that specializes in digital asset investing. This fall, Bitpanda teamed up with Raiffeisen Bank International to bring blockchain-interoperability to banks in the EU. Th company also launched its Bitpanda Crypto Index (BCI), which provides an automated way for cryptocurrency investors to buy multiple cryptocurrencies at once and more readily diversify their holdings.


Big data analytics platform Thetaray, which made its Finovate debut five years ago at FinovateFall in New York, announced late this week that its Anti-Money Laundering for Correspondent Banking solution has been selected by Spain’s Cecabank. The wholesale bank will use the AI-powered technology to analyze SWIFT traffic, risk indicators, and other data to identify anomalies that can signify criminal activity.

“We were already using traditional rules-based systems, but we wanted to increase our ability to monitor cross-border transactions,” Cecabank Compliance Head Alfredo Oñoro said. “When an industry colleague recommended ThetaRay’s AML solution for correspondent banking, we immediately reached out and began discussions.  We are extremely impressed with ThetaRay’s technology and excited to share its capabilities with our bank customers and, if so requested, with our regulators.”

ThetaRay’s anomaly detecting algorithms are relied upon by corporations in financial services, industrial manufacturing, and critical infrastructure to defend against a wide variety of threats and cybercrimes, ranging from money laundering to terrorist financing. ThetaRay offers fraud detection, ATM security, and an early threat detection capability that minimizes false positives, enabling firms to modernize their legacy systems with a compliant, cost-savings solution.

“This announcement serves as notice that ThetaRay’s AML for Correspondent Banking solution is not just for global financial institutions,” ThetaRay CEO Mark Gazit said. “It is also a perfect fit for mid-sized banks aiming to improve their AML controls. Cecabank plays a crucial role in the Spanish market, and we are very pleased that they’ve chosen ThetaRay to help secure their customers’ cross-border transactions.”

ThetaRay’s partnership with Cecabank comes in the wake of a similar collaboration the company announced with Banco Santander over the summer. With offices in Israel and New York City, ThetaRay has raised more than $81 million in funding. ABN AMRO Ventures and Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) are among the company’s investors.


Interesting in learning more about fintech in Latin America? This week on the Finovate blog we featured an article from non-profit organization Invest Puerto Rico that makes the case for untapped opportunity on the island.

Fintech is growing fast, at a rate of 25% per year through 2022. Puerto Rico’s close proximity to the world’s financial center – New York City – gives island-based fintech firms the opportunity to remain connected while taking advantages of key local benefits such as STEM talent, local financial literacy, and attractive tax incentives. 

Read the rest.


Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • PayCentral and Mastercard team up to launch new online payments platform for SMEs, DigiCentral.
  • Interswitch Group, a Nigerian digital payments company, partners with Kenya-based Credit Bank to launch a multi-currency prepaid card.
  • South African fintech Ukheshe acquires mobile payments startup Oltio

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Germany’s Solative, which provides indices and index solutions to the financial services industry, raises $60.4 million in growth funding.
  • Irish core banking technology provider Leveris inks partnership with Czech bank, Česká spořitelna.
  • Polish fintech SMEO, which provides online factoring services to small and micro-enterprises, locks in €4 million in funding ahead of its planned international expansion.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Digital open banking app sync secures license from the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.
  • Central Bank of Oman unveils fintech regulatory sandbox.
  • IBS Intelligence reviews the top four fintechs disrupting payments in the UAE.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Pakistan’s SadaPay obtains approval from the State Bank of Pakistan for pilot launch in 2021.
  • India Posts Payments Bank and the Indian Department of Posts introduce new digital payment app, DakPay.
  • Bangalore-based payments platform Cashfree raises $35.3 million in round led by Apis Partners.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazilian financial market intrastructure company B3 partners with Genesis to access its low-code application platform.
  • Mozper, a debit card for kids and their parents, goes live in Mexico following $3.5 million seed funding round.
  • BNAmericas looks at Azimo’s partnership and expansion plans for Latin America following its alliance with Uruguay’s dLocal.

Asia-Pacific

  • Singapore and Thailand announce plans to link their national payment systems in 2021.
  • Malaysia’s AFFIN Bank launches new corporate internet banking platform for SMEs, AffinMax.
  • Vietnam Briefing examines the rise of Vietnam as a startup hub.

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Puerto Rico: An Attractive Location for Startups & Established Tech Companies

Puerto Rico: An Attractive Location for Startups & Established Tech Companies

The below is a sponsored post by FinovateFall Digital exhibitor, Invest Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is poised to become the global model for how to roll out cutting-edge tools that enable blockchain, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT). All of these technologies are designed to transform nearly every sector, notably financial services, bioscience, and aerospace. Technology represents the changes imminent in the 4th industrial revolution. Proper implementation and growth of these tools has been a critical priority contributing to the island’s economic diversity, development, and competitiveness.

Network

Advances in these fields would not be possible without a supportive Information & Communications Technology (ICT) network. As an island, Puerto Rico depends on its ability to communicate with the world to do business. As such, companies benefit from extensive island-wide 5G, broadband access, established LoRa network capabilities, and broad satellite connections. Every element of this network ensures producers are connected to suppliers, customers, and business partners. Puerto Rico’s tech expertise and nationally unique international banking policies—along with the growing demand for effective financial solutions and resources—has led to a boom in innovative fintech and investing services that extend to every industry.

Fintech

Fintech is growing fast, at a rate of 25% per year through 2022. Puerto Rico’s close proximity to the world’s financial center – New York City – gives island-based fintech firms the opportunity to remain connected while taking advantages of key local benefits such as STEM talent, local financial literacy, and attractive tax incentives. Puerto Ricans are open to technology providing financial solutions where traditional banks do not. Here are a few facts you might have known about the island.

  • In 2017, Puerto Rican firm Evertec was the #1 provider of payment processing services in Latin America, exporting financial services to 25 countries around the world
  • After just four years, Evertec’s money transfer platform, ATH Movil, reached over 1 million users, 6,000 businesses, and 80% of banks and credit unions
  • Banco Popular’s digital platform also leads the industry in the implementation of fintech solutions
  • Abexus Analytics identifies commercial lending solutions to SMEs as one of the key areas of opportunities in Puerto Rico’s fintech landscape
  • Among others, Act 60 applies to financial activities and export services. IFEs are eligible for 6% income tax rate on distributions to resident shareholders or members and are 100% exempt on distributions to nonresident shareholders and members

Innovation

Puerto Rico also leads the region in fintech innovation, and this is evident in the wide use of digital banking tools, mobile financial applications, and globally recognized payment processing technology. Banking with digital assets is quickly becoming a reality and the blockchain community is pushing innovations for tax credit trading and how to sell utility tokens within tax incentive regulations. The island is leading the way in helping fintech, insurtech, and blockchain become more ubiquitous. The local financial services industry is perfect for global companies and start-ups looking for a cost-effective domicile or fertile ground to develop ideas, scale, and expand into neighboring markets.

The Only Place

Combine U.S. federal regulations and exemptions with local tax benefits and operating incentives, and you get the only place for international financial entities and insurers on U.S. soil: Puerto Rico. The island offers companies experienced banking and insurance markets, with a broad base of financial experts in U.S. and international laws and regulations. Puerto Rico stands to be an international leader in the finance and insurance industries by providing banks and insurers, companies, and individuals unparalleled access to the U.S. market with global regulations.

Puerto Rico is the nexus of opportunity. Contact a member of the Invest Puerto Rico Business Development team to learn how you can locate your startup or established business to the island.


Leading the way in strengthening the island as a world-class business destination is the newly formed Invest Puerto Rico (InvestPR), a non-profit investment promotion organization created by law, via Act 13 – 2017. InvestPR’s mission is clear: promote the island as a competitive investment jurisdiction that attracts new business and capital investment to the island. Our vision is to be a transformational and results-oriented accelerator of economic development in Puerto Rico.


Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

Acquisitions, E-commerce and the Latest in Australian Fintech

Acquisitions, E-commerce and the Latest in Australian Fintech

Some of the hottest headlines in international fintech in recent days involved industry innovators from the Land Down Under. Late in the week, financial consultancy firm Synechron announced that it had agreed to acquire Australian payments provider Attra. Headquartered in Melbourne, Attra is notable for being one of pure play payments solution providers in Australia, with reach throughout the region as well as into North America, Europe, and MENA. Attra will retain its brand identity post-acquisition.

Meanwhile, National Australia Bank (NAB) unveiled a new smart receipt solution developed in collaboration with Australian fintech Slyp. The offering, Slyp Smart Receipts, are available via the NAB mobile app, and enable NAB customers to automatically get itemized smart receipts from participating retailers.

“Receipts are a burden for customers, create unnecessary cost for businesses and have a negative impact to our environment,” Slyp CEO and co-founder Paul Weingarth said. “The introduction of smart receipts allows businesses to offer a seamless and frictionless customer experience far beyond what we know it as today.”

On the e-commerce front, the buy now pay later revolution rolls on. Zip, a BNPL company based in Australia, inked a deal with Facebook this week that will enable small businesses to use its installment payment service to pay for Facebook ads.

Zip’s partnership with Facebook is its second big, e-commerce collaboration in recent months. In August, the company teamed up with eBay, bringing its buy now pay later offering to the online marketplace.

Looking to learn more about fintech in Australia? Check out KPMG Australia’s report on the country’s fintech industry from last fall. And for a more recent snapshot, take a look at FintechNews Singapore’s “9 Hottest Aussie Fintech Startups” from earlier this year.


We’ve covered a healthy amount of international fintech news on the blog this week. Here’s a quick digest of what you might have missed.

Tink Lands $103 Million in Funding, Boosts Valuation to $824 Million – The new round for the Swedish fintech was co-led by new investor Eurazeo Growth and existing investor Dawn Capital.

Xoom Adds Money Transfer Capabilities to 12 African Countries – The expansion focuses on facilitating remittances to underbanked consumers in 12 African nations. 

How to Manage and Exceed Evolving Customer Expectations – Our interview with the co-founder of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based FI.SPAN.


Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Asia-Pacific

  • Risk decisioning leader Provenir announces data integration partnership with Philippines-based alternative credit scoring company FinScore.
  • South Korean payments firm CHAI scores $60 million in Series B funding.
  • Mastercard and Pine Labs to bring their integrated buy now pay later solution to five markets in Southeast Asia early in 2021.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • The Banker looks at how Nigeria’s fintech industry is thriving in the face of economic challenges.
  • TechFinancial reviews the growth of fintech in South Africa through the lens of the country’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority.
  • Convergence Partners, a South African technology investment management company, announces $5 million investment in sub-Saharan mobile money services company Channel VAS.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • German digital asset custody technology provider Bitbond partners with Bankhaus von Der Heydt to issue a Euro stablecoin on the Stellar network.
  • Hungary’s Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB) inks cooperation agreement with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to boost collaboration in fintech innovation between Hungary and Singapore.
  • Berlin-based plug and play, European securities API provider Upvest raises additional €five million to boost its Series A to €12 million.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Egyptian fintech Zeal Rewards secures “six-figure” seed investment from an unnamed angel investor.
  • Israeli entrepreneur Uri Levine predicts that the next unicorn from the MENA region will come from the UAE.
  • SME10x looks at how the buy now pay later movement is transforming ecommerce in the Middle East.

Central and Southern Asia

  • IBS Intelligence features five top digital lenders in India.
  • Bangalore-based i-exceed reports gains in digital onboarding adoption rates in corporate banking.
  • SafePay, a company that enables B2C payments, secures funding from new Pakistan-based VC firm backed by Gobi Ventures.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Bitso, a cryptocurrency platform based in Mexico, raises $62 million in Series B.
  • Cross border B2B paytech provider TransferMate announces licensing approvals in Brazil and Chile.
  • Mexican challenger bank albo secures $45 million in funding.

Photo by Ethan Brooke from Pexels

Envestnet Goes Aussie on Open Banking; BNPL Consolidates in the Americas

Envestnet Goes Aussie on Open Banking; BNPL Consolidates in the Americas

One of the more interesting questions during a recent FinovateWest Digital panel on challenger banks asked: how important are partnerships to these digital newcomers? This week, one answer to that question came in the form of an announcement from Australia’s self-described “smartbank” – 86 400 – that it was teaming up with one of the global leaders in data aggregation and insights: Envestnet | Yodlee.

“The average Australians’ financial world can be very complex, with numerous accounts for numerous products across different financial institutions,” 86 400 CIO Brian Parker explained. “By partnering with Envestnet | Yodlee, we’ve given our customers the ability to see all their accounts in one place, delivering a better view of their financial lives and helping them take control of their money.”

Founded in 2017 and backed by Cuscal, Australia’s largest independent payments company, 86 400 offers no fee banking; card, mobile, and smartwatch-based payments; and competitive interest rates for both savers and borrowers. Via mobile app, 86 400 customers can easily monitor and manage their finances, functionality that will be significantly enhanced via the smartbank’s new relationship with Envestnet | Yodlee.

“Consumers don’t have to wait for Open Banking to access and use their own data,” Envestnet | Yodlee ANZ Country Manager Tim Poskitt said. “Envestnet | Yodlee’s data aggregation enables consumers to link their financial accounts with tools and products that deliver better financial outcomes. That’s what 86 400’s products provide.”

86 400, which takes its name from the total number of seconds in a 24 hour day, has forged partnerships in recent months with mortgage brokers like Mortgage Choice and Connective. Headquartered in Sydney, New South Wales, 86 400 won Best in Class at Australia’s International Good Design Awards. Robert Bell is CEO.


Maybe it is true, as fintech observer and wit Ron Shevlin suggested on Twitter recently, that the credit card issuers have to be scratching their heads a bit with the sudden popularity of the Buy Now Pay Later ecommerce craze-turned-trend. But as Homer Simpson famously put it, “we’re not succumbing to mass hysteria. We’re just jumping on the bandwagon.”

The latest news from the BNPL bandwagon features U.S. buy now pay later company Affirm, which announced that it would acquire Canadian BNPL outfit PayBright for $264 million (C$340 million).

“We built PayBright with the mission of making the everyday commerce experience simply better for Canadians,” company President and CEO Wayne Pommen said. “Partnering with Affirm gives us the opportunity to deliver on that promise on a much larger scale.” Pommen added that he was “delighted” at the opportunity to take “Buy Now Pay Later to the next level in Canada.”

Just where is that next level? PayBright currently has more than 7,000 retailer partners around the world, including companies like Samsung, Wayfair, and Oakley. And competition in the Canadian BNPL space has intensified of late; Australian BNPL rival Afterpay announced its expansion to the country in August.


Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • BNamericas interviews Ruben Galindo, CEO of Mexican fintech CapitalTech on how the company has managed to serve its customers during the pandemic.
  • A partnership between FacePhi and Peruvian fintech TuSueldoYa will help businesses better manage cash advances during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • IBS Intelligence highlights four Mexican fintechs that are “transforming the financial sector”: Credijusto, Konfio, Clip, and Albo.

Asia-Pacific

  • Lightnet, a Singapore-based company that leverages blockchain technology to power its remittance offering, announces partnership with Siam Commercial Bank.
  • P2P lending marketplace Rai Capital goes live in Cambodia.
  • The Philippine Central Bank recognizes digital banks as a new bank category as part of a new regulatory framework.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • A rare look at the evolving fintech ecocsystem in Cameroon.
  • Telkom, a telecommunications company based in South Africa, goes live with its digital wallet that enables WhatsApp based P2P mobile payments.
  • Nigerian payment infrastructure solution provider Airopay introduces a new digital payment app.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Paysera expands to Albania, opening offices in the capital city of Tirana.
  • Polish fintech ZEN announces strategic partnership with Mastercard; goes live in 32 European markets.
  • U.K.-based cashless payment solution provider DiPocket chooses Lithuania for its office in the CEE region.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Emirates NBD introduces next-generation global corporate banking platform businessONLINE.
  • New report highlights Riyadh and Bahrain among “top fintech ecosystems to watch.”
  • Kuwait-based banking technology service provider VeriTech partners with Norway’s Zwipe to meet growing demand for contactless payments in the Middle East.

Central and Southern Asia

  • India-based cryptocurrency investment platform CoinSwitch Kuber announces plans for early December launch.
  • Fintech Futures takes a look at Indian challenger bank Finwego, which specializes in lending in the private school education space.
  • Swedish biometric company Fingerprint Cards teams up with Indian smartcard manufacturer M-Tech Innovations to launch contactless cards in India.

Photo by Ben Mack from Pexels

Juvo Brings Digital Identities to the Underbanked; BondIT Merges with Scorable

Juvo Brings Digital Identities to the Underbanked; BondIT Merges with Scorable

Financial-identity-as-a-service (FiDaaS) pioneer – and FinovateFall alum – Juvo announced earlier this week that it is working with Mastercard’s Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) team to bring its FiDaaS platform to financial institutions throughout the region.

“Financial institutions across LAC face a dilemma,” Juvo CEO and founder Steve Polsky explained. “Consumers can’t demonstrate their creditworthiness to gain access to credit. Without access to credit, however, consumers can’t establish creditworthiness.”

Juvo’s technology leverages machine learning to analyze transaction data to assess an individual’s ability to repay loans and meet other financial obligations. The company’s partnership with Mastercard is in large part a product of its participation in Mastercard’s Start Path fintech startup engagement program last August. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Juvo was founded in 2014.


Innovation in the wealth management space is increasingly an international affair. This week, Israel-based portfolio construction technology provider BondIT announced that it has agreed to merge with Germany’s Scorable. Headquartered in Berlin, Scorable provides AI-powered credit analysis and will, per this transaction, combine its technology with BondIT’s in order to offer an integrated portfolio-management-and-research-as-a-service solution for asset managers and financial advisors.

“Fixed income investors still rely heavily on manual-driven procedures, but in light of market and cost pressures, intelligent automation is increasingly necessary to stay competitive,” said BondIT CEO Etai Ravid. “Merging our technologies allows us to even better serve the evolving digital needs of our clients by helping them optimize their portfolio and risk management to boost efficiency, performance and scale.”

Making its Finovate debut at FinovateFall in 2016, BondIT offers a scalable platform that uses both machine learning and data science to provide financial analysts and advisors with optimized portfolios and portfolio analysis. Founded in 2012 and based in Herzliya, Israel, BondIT has raised $18.5 million in funding from investors including Fosun International.


Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Fintech Futures profiles Indian fintech PayNearby that is leveraging small, brick and mortar retailers to provide ATM and branch banking services.
  • Pakistan fintech Tag earns “in principle” approval for an electronic money institute license from country’s central bank; plans to launch financial superapp.
  • Express Computer looks at the evolution of fintech in India.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Banco Pichincha Peru teams up with U.S.-based no-code mobile security platform Appdome to secure its mobile app.
  • The Central Bank of the Bahamas launches digital sand dollar, a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
  • Brazil’s central bank launches PIX instant payments platform; suggests possible return of WhatsApp.

Asia-Pacific

  • Singapore’s Lu International and Thailand’s Kasikornbank (KBank) partner to introduce new wealth management platform.
  • P2P investment network SeedIn, based in Singapore, announces rebranding to BRDGE; expansion to Indonesia.
  • Hong Kong based digital payment services platform Statrys raises $5 million in funding.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • The days of paper checks in South Africa are numbered according to a joint communique from the country’s Reserve Bank, Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), and other government agencies and banking industry associations.
  • Chipper Cash, which offers no fee, P2P payment services in seven African countries, raises $30 million in funding.
  • Nigerian fintech Wallets Africa partners with Visa to provide customers with physical Visa cards for domestic and international payments.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Revolut introduces Open Banking options for its German customers.
  • German fintech and challenger bank Vivid Money secures $17.6 million in funding.
  • Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) goes live with its API marketplace.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • UAE-based payment service for retailers Spotii announces expansion to Saudi Arabia.
  • Trade Arabia takes a look at the fintech agreement between the Israeli Securities Authority (ISA) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market Financial Services Regulatory Authority (ADGM FSRA).
  • Two Israeli companies – ChargeAfter and Personeticsjoin Visa Fintech Partner Connect to bring payment technology innovation to Europe.

Photo by Elianne Dipp from Pexels