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Tracking fintech, banking & financial services innovations since 1994
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.
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.
Vymobrings AI-powered sales coaching to insurance giant Sompo.
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.
Temenosteams 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
DriveWealthhelps 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.
Paysendintroduces 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.
Cross-border remittance startup Paysend has received a money transfer of its own this week. The London-based company landed $10.6 million (£8.5 million) in Series B funding, bringing its total raised to $30.7 million.
There’s no word on an updated valuation but before today’s round, the company was valued at $155 million.
The investment comes courtesy of GVA, which contributed almost $5 million (£3.95 million), as well as a Seedrs crowdfunding campaign that brought in $5.6 million (£4.6 million). Launched last month, the Seedrs campaign garnered contributions from investors, including Plug and Play and Digital Space Ventures, which co-led the round.
Regarding company’s decision to crowdfund the round, Paysend CEO Ronald Millar said, “This funding round has been the next step in our journey to create money for the future, and we’ve been delighted that we’ve been about to open it up to our customers in order to give them the opportunity to join us on the exciting next phase of the Paysend journey.”
Paysend, which demonstrated its Global Account at FinovateSpring 2018, competes with the likes of Transferwise and CurrencyFair to help users request money from 50 countries and send money across 70 countries. On a monthly basis, the company facilitates more than 2 million transactions totaling $55 million for its 900,000 users.
The company recently releasedPays XDR, its own digital currency. Pays XDR is a stable coin backed by cash reserves, matched to the proportion of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights.
Adding to its already busy year, in May Paysend launchedPaysend Link, an app that allows users to send money to anyone with just their phone number. Fund recipients can immediately transfer payments they receive to their Mastercard, Visa, or UnionPay card. The money is immediately available to use or to withdraw.
London-based fintech Paysend announced late last week that it had reached its fundraising goal of $5.3 million (£4.2 million) after a three-day campaign on Seedrs. The company noted that more than 200 investors have participated in funding round, which was led by VC’s Plug & Play, Digital Space Ventures, and Marcorp Fintech. The funding puts Paysend’s total capital at more than $25 million and gives the company a valuation of more than $158 million (£1.25 million).
“We believe that (transferring money) should be as easy and immediate as sending an email, and finally the digital age is being able to facilitate this,” Paysend CEO Ronald Millar explained. He blamed the banking and payments industry for “conditioning” customers into believing that the difficulty of transferring money justified the complex process that most bank customers endure. “I have always been a firm believer that earning money can be tough but spending shouldn’t be,” Millar said.
The company said the funds will be used to fuel Paysend’s international expansion goals, including new partnerships with FIs. Paysend is currently active in 70 countries around the world, and Millar noted that the company is adding new customers at a pace of 2,000 a day. In fact, Paysend’s funding announcement comes as the company reports adding another six countries to its money transfer network. India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and Turkey are all slated to be brought onboard this year.
“We are on a major expansion path,” Millar told The Courier UK. “We’ve just launched the global account and we want to continue to grow the business and establish the operational team and launch more marketing.”
Founded in 2016 and headquartered in London, U.K., Paysend demonstrated its Global Account at FinovateSpring 2018. The solution enables users to store both fiat and crypto currencies in their wallet, exchange funds between currencies, send funds to other Global Accounts, and make payments from their account both online and in-person. The account comes with a prepaid card (both physical and virtual) that can be linked to the currencies in the user’s wallet, enabling them to make everyday transactions in the currency of their choice as easily as spending with a debit card. Users can also use their Global Account card to withdraw cash in 125 currencies.
Paysend has more than 750,000 users of its technology, and facilitates more than two million transactions a month. In May, the company announced the launch of its new payments app, Paysend Link, which enables users to send money to anyone, anywhere using only the recipient’s mobile phone number. Also in May, Paysend reported that its new stablecoin would be available on the Stellar Network this summer.