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Tracking fintech, banking & financial services innovations since 1994
Courtesy of a partnership with a pair of current customers, card issuing platform Marqeta is open for business in Australia. The company announced today that its arrival in the Asia-Pacific market will also help support fellow Finovate alum Klarna and customer Doordash as they expand in the country.
“Card issuing is on its way to being an $80 trillion global opportunity by 2030, and Marqeta is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this over the coming years,” Marqeta founder and CEO Jason Gardner said. “The Australian market relies heavily on card spending and is digitizing rapidly. It is a market that was important to our customers and where we saw a lot of potential for Marqeta technology to help revolutionize customer experience in payments.”
Marqeta’s announcement comes in the wake of news that the company – in partnership with Visa – had earned certification to process payments in 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. In Australia, the first market in the APAC where Marqeta’s services will be available, the company hopes to take advantage of both the high penetration of traditional bank accounts compared to the rest of the region, as well as a boom in digital payments.
With the first transactions facilitated by Marqeta in late January, partner Klarna is already appreciating the results. “Our close collaboration in bringing an entirely new product offering and shopping experience to the Australian market in record time has been a big success,” Koen Koppen, Klarna CTO, said. “The positive reaction of Australian consumers is evident in just how many are downloading and using the app and virtual card each day.”
An alum of our developers conference, Marqeta delivered a presentation on Democratizing Issuer Payment Processing with Just-in-Time Funding at FinDEVr Silicon Valley in 2016. The Oakland, California-based company was last valued at nearly $2 billion, following a May 2019 Series E round that added $260 million to Marqeta’s coffers.
Chinese conglomerate Ant Financial has purchased a minority stake in Sweden’s e-commerce payments innovator Klarna. The terms of the investment were not disclosed, but the company said that the funding amounts to a 1% stake in Klarna. The most recent assessment of Klarna, based on a $460 million funding round in 2019, puts the company’s valuation at $5.5 billion.
“Alipay, and the wider Alibaba Group, have truly set the global pace on retail innovation and the app economy,” Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said. “We are delighted in this confidence shown in Klarna in defining the future of payments and shopping and are very much looking forward to working together further in the future.”
The investment comes as a tonic in the wake of Klarna’s first annual loss of $113 million in 2019. It also represents a deepening of the partnership between the two firms that will make more of Klarna’s buy now pay later solutions available to consumers and merchants in the Alibaba ecosystem. This includes more integration between Klarna and Alibaba’s Alipay which, via AliExpress, Alibaba’s retail online marketplace, leverages Klarna’s e-commerce solution.
“At the heart of this cooperation between Klarna and Alipay is a shared ambition of innovating truly superior shopping experiences and creating destinations of inspiration for consumers across the world,” Siemiatkowski said.
More than 200,000 merchants and e-commerce platforms around the world are powered by Klarna technology. The company’s partners include IKEA, Adidas, Spotify, and Expedia Group, among many others, and in 2019 alone, Klarna added more than 75,000 new merchants to its platform. Founded in 2005 and a Finovate alum since its debut at FinovateSpring in 2012, Klarna has 2,700+ employees and is live in 17 countries. Late last month, the company announced that Klarna had reached the seven million customer milestone and 1.6 million app downloads.
It is hard to imagine having a better start to your week than Plaid had seven days ago when the innovative fintech (and Finovate alum) announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Visa for $5.3 billion.
But the €90 million ($100 million) raised by Swedish open banking platform Tink on Monday is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the funding, which is the company’s largest to date, is a reminder that investment interest in (and funding for) companies dedicated to developing the infrastructure that connects consumers, banks, and the financial technologies is very much in abundance.
“Our aim is to become the preferred pan-European provider of digital banking services and to offer the technology needed for banks, fintechs, and startups to leverage the opportunities of open banking and enable them to successfully develop financial services in the future,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement.
The London-based money transfer firm, founded in 2012, promoted its COO Richard Ambrose to CEO back in August, as Azimo founder Michael Kent took what TechCrunch referred to as a lateral move to become executive chairman. Today, Fintech Futures, Finovate’s sister publication, reports that the company has appointed Dora Ziambra to the post of Chief Operating Officer. Azimo also promoted its head of finance Tatiana Okhotina to the post of Chief Financial Officer.
“We’re fortunate to have the depth of talent to fill these top roles internally,” Ambrose said in a statement. “We’re lucky too that Azimo will continue to benefit from the experience and leadership of these two outstanding women.”
Here’s our weekly roundup of the latest news from our Finovate alumni:
Union Bank to leverage technology from FIS for core banking.
Italy-based CREDEM leveragingWorldline’s Payment and Liquidity Hub software CRISTAL to process Target2 payments
POS software Vend partners with Klarna to offer retailers more flexible payment options.
U.K. food retailer The Co-operative to deployACI Worldwide’s fraud management solution, ReD Shield.
A partnership between TransferGo and Currencycloud will enable the money transfer company to enter 14 new markets.
YellowDogforges reseller agreement with Annex Pro.
Bankable cozies up with Plaid to allow its bank customers to connect with their users’ bank accounts.
Ohpenappoints former Tesla marketing leader Corinne Aaron as new head of marketing.
Segmint to acquire WAND’s Product and Service Taxonomy division.
CuneXuscelebrates 2019 success with a 40% year-over-year increase in consumer reach.
Three Key Lessons We Learned from Plaid – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Visa is acquiring Plaid for a deal that’s worth $5.3 billion. The fact that they were so widely used at such an early stage is a testament to the quality of their code, but there are also a few key lessons to take away from their success.
ITSCREDIT’s Joao Pinto on the Digital Lending Opportunity – ITSCREDIT is a spinoff from ITSECTOR and is a fairly new player in the digital lending space. In this interview, Pinto talks to us about the digital lending opportunity, how his company fits into the current state of this fintech subsector, and what we can expect to see next.
Kasasa Enhances its Take-Back Loan – Community bank marketing expert Kasasaannounced a partnership with Carleton today in which Kasasa will integrate Carleton’s insurance and debt protection calculations into its Kasasa Loan.
Plinqit Brings Rewards-Powered Financial Literacy to First Community Bank – One day in the distant future, children will be educated in basic financial literacy as readily as they are taught algebra. Until then, solutions like Plinqit from HT Mobile Apps will be valuable tools for credit unions and community banks looking for novel ways to engage and educate their members and customers.
Credit, Data, and Cryptocurrencies: Graychain Rebrands as Credmark – The company that is bringing credit data clarity to the cryptocurrency industry is entering 2020 with a new name.
Tradeshift Lands $240 Million as it Inches Toward Profitability – The San Francisco-based company will use the investment to boost expansion efforts and gear toward a “direct path to profitability in the near future.”
Backbase-as-a-Service Helps Banks Leverage the Cloud to Innovate and Scale – The solution makes the company’s broad portfolio of digital banking offerings available to FIs looking to accelerate their ability to develop and offer new technologies to customers.
Also on Finovate.com
Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal – “Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”
Not Another 2020 Trends Prediction Post (Seriously, It’s Not!) – We’re taking a look at the trends you can expect to see on stage next month at FinovateEurope. To keep things simple this year, we assessed the themes at a very high level and broke them down into three categories: the big, the little, and the trends in-between.
Singapore’s Digital Banking 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 announced last week that has received 21 applications for digital bank licenses.
MogoSpend Offers Credit, Cashback, and Help Reducing Your Carbon Footprint – The new digital spending account from Canadian fintech Mogo does more than help Canadians get control of their finances. The solution also offers cardholders generous cashback rewards and a way to make a positive impact on the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.
Getsafe Expands its Insurtech to the U.K. – If your insurance company is offering you drone insurance, you know it’s not your grandmother’s insurance agency. Germany-based insurtech Getsafe does just that– and the company announced today it is expanding its home contents insurance offering (though, sadly, not its drone insurance offering) to users in the U.K.
Raisin’s New Acquisition Gives Company Access to the U.S. Market – European deposit marketplace Raisin announced today it acquired New York-based Choice Financial Solutions.
French Fintech Lydia Locks in $45 Million – TechCrunch reported this morning that French mobile payment app Lydia has raised $45 million (€40 million) in a round led by Tencent.
Visa’s Tap to Phone Brings Contactless Payments to mPOS – With Visa’sTap to Phone app arriving pre-installed on the new, enterprise grade smartphone from Samsung, a broad range of merchants will have access to yet another way to accept payments from customers.
INTL FCStone Acquires International Bank Transfer Firm – Headquartered in Germany, GIROXX offers international bank transfers and currency hedging. INTL FCStone plans to leverage this technology to expand its current client base to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The financial world has been as much a fan of celebrity as a customer engagement tool as any other industry with brands to build. Today, Mastercardannounced that it was working with Swedish singer Nadine Randle to produce a song that “integrates the payment giant’s ‘sonic brand.” The company’s ‘sonic brand’ identity itself is the fruit of a partnership between Linkin Park co-founder Mike Shinoda, who developed the score last year.
And from the local sports hero to the homecoming veteran, credit unions and community banks have long leveraged the willingness of regional-minded stars and celebrities to “give back” to the communities and neighborhoods they grew up in.
But as fintechs increasingly partner with and compete with these and other financial institutions – and take advantage of new forms of celebrity such as social media influencers – they are increasingly taking a page from the FI marketing playbooks when it comes to using star power to shine a light on the work they do.
Expensify CEO and founder David Barrett highlighted the way his company’s technology would make it easier for talents like 2Chainz to “make the most epic music video ever” in his Expensify Th!$ ad. But he also told Fast Company at the time that even though Expensify had the “strongest brand” in the expense management game, and was the fastest-growing such firm with the biggest customer base, “virtually nobody in the world knows who we are.”
The celebrity approach to marketing is not without its detractors. In a post at Medium.com last year, Millennium Management COO Ajay Nagpal noted data from the 2018 Sprout Social Index that suggested that consumers are more likely to buy a product or service recommended by a friend than a celebrity. Moreover, Nagpal raised an interesting question as to whether or not the star endorsement of a brand in fashion, for example, would have the same impact as the same star’s endorsement of a brand in wealth management or tax planning.
Perhaps it depends on the star. Last fall, Finovate audiences were treated to a surprise appearance from noted Canadian investor and star of the reality show Shark Tank, Kevin O’Leary, who provided an on-stage, end-of-demo endorsement of Bambu’s Beanstox investing solution. And it’s a good bet that “Mr. Wonderful” is likely to be a more powerful advocate for white- label, B2B robo advisory technology than he might be for, say, leggings …
Additionally, as Director of Brand Strategy at Weber Marketing Group John Mathes wrote for The Financial Brand, even the best celebrity branding works better over time rather than as a one-off. Calling the practice “borrowed interest,” Mathes warned that while carefully targeted star power can produce positive results “brand building is usually a slow process. It takes time. It’s not a single campaign or gimmick.”
The impact of celebrity and influencers on the visibility of and engagement with fintech remains to be seen. But maybe more to the point, the fact that a growing number of fintechs are adopting the same approach to brand-boosting as their peers and rivals in the rest of the financial world may be a positive sign for the fintech industry in and of itself.
Having already worked with Amazon in the past, Swedish banking firm Klarna has reinforced its reliance on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to increase redundancy and fault tolerance as it aims to scale its business, reports Alex Hamilton of Fintech Futures (Finovate’s sister publication).
The company also plans to follow up the launches of its cloud-based Open Banking platform and customer authentication platform with additional on-demand products using AWS.
“Together with AWS we share a relentless focus on providing choices to consumers, so they no longer have to settle for the status quo,” said Koen Koppen, chief technology officer at Klarna.
“Our collaboration with AWS has helped us to rapidly innovate and create new services and applications that customers want, in a secure and seamless way.”
Andy Isherwood, managing director for AWS EMEA, added that Klarna is going to “change the world” with cloud technology.
“We have worked with Klarna for over a decade and it has been inspiring to see them grow from a Swedish startup to a global financial services powerhouse, using the secure, proven infrastructure of AWS,” Isherwood said.
The company demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2012. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden and founded in 2005, Klarna has 80 million shoppers on its platform and partnerships with 190,000 retailers around the world. Company co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski is CEO.