Finovate Global VC Edition: Quona Capital Backs Financial Inclusion in Emerging Markets with New Fund

Finovate Global VC Edition: Quona Capital Backs Financial Inclusion in Emerging Markets with New Fund

Good news for fintech startups in developing markets! Quona Capital recently announced that it has closed its latest fintech fund, its third, at $332 million. The venture capital firm, which specializes in emerging markets, noted that the amount raised topped its target of $250 million. The new fund, Fund III, will be focused on companies that are developing technologies that expand access to financial services for consumers and businesses in regions ranging from Latin America and India to Southeast Asia, MENA, and Africa.

“Since our earliest days, Quona has been dedicated to expanding the frontiers of financial inclusion – investing with conviction in markets and technology-enabled models improving access and quality of financial services for the masses,” Quona co-founding managing partner Monica Brand Engel said in a statement. “Our prior fund performance, robust pipeline of inclusive fintechs, and growing LP interest in our offerings are ringing endorsements of our view on the prospects of impact-oriented venture investing in emerging markets.”

With aggregate capital of more than $745 million, Fund II is the firm’s third fund since Quona Capital was launched in 2015. Those contributing to the fund as investors include global asset managers, insurance companies, both investment and commercial banks, endowments, foundations, family offices, and more. And while many of the investors in Fund III have invested in Quona Capital funds previously, the new fund did receive capital from 20 new investors, as well.

According to Quona Capital, the startups in its portfolio have served nearly nine million small and medium-sized businesses and over 30 million retail customers. Quona Capital startups have raised nearly $4 billion in capital and generated more than $800 million in revenues. Among these firms are India-based consumer lending company ZestMoney, Southeast Asia-based fintech marketplace ula, and long-time international remittance firm and long-time Finovate alum Azimo – which was acquired by Papaya Global earlier this year.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian neobank ZikZuk acquired tax e-filing platform TaxSpanner.
  • National Bank of Pakistan turned to Finastra to enhance its trade finance operations.
  • Lentra, a fintech based in India, secured $60 million in Series B funding for its loans-as-a-service business for banks.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • AstroPay introduced its Mastercard prepaid card in Brazil.
  • Mexico-based B2B payments company Mendel raised $60 million in new funding.
  • Brazil’s Agrolend, which provides credit to the country’s farmers, secured $27 million in Series B funding.


  • Ant Group introduced its Buy Now, Pay later offering in Hong Kong.
  • Vietnam-based Sacombank partnered with Temenos to enhance digital banking.
  • Philippines-based neobank Tonik unveiled its all-digital lending products, Flex Loan and Big Loan.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigerian fintech Paga unveiled its Visa-branded card this week.
  • Pan-African paytech Cellulant secured a Payment Systems Operator license from the National Bank of Uganda
  • Samsung South Africa launched its digital wallet, Samsung Wallet.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Polish fintech Ramp locked in $70 million in Series B funding to build payment rails for cryptocurrency investors.
  • Co-investment platform for European startups SeedBlink secured licensing from the Romanian Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF).
  • Genome, an Electronic Money Institution based in Lithuania, partnered with Entrust to simplify digital payments.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • UAE-based Wio Bank went live with Mambu’s cloud-native banking platform.
  • Pyppl, a financial services platform based in the UAE, raised $20 million in Series B funding.
  • Saudi Arabia’s central bank presented its open banking framework.

Photo by Ricky Gálvez

Square Taps Visa for Instant Transfers in Canada

Square Taps Visa for Instant Transfers in Canada
  • Visa is expanding its integration with Square’s instant transfer feature into Canada.
  • Square’s Canadian merchant clients can access their funds in real time, instead of waiting for the next business day.
  • Instant transfers are enabled by Visa Direct, a VisaNet processing capability that facilitates real-time delivery of funds.

One of the themes at FinovateFall earlier this month was how organizations can leverage real time data. When it comes to the movement of money, timing is everything. So it’s no surprise to see Visa’s announcement this week that it will expand its integration with Square’s instant transfer feature into Canada.

Under the new integration, Square’s Canadian merchant clients can now access their funds faster than the next business day. When they link an eligible debit card, Square’s Canada-based merchant clients can transfer funds instantly to an external bank account.

Used for rapid merchant settlement, Square’s instant transfers are enabled by Visa Direct, a VisaNet processing capability that facilitates real-time funds delivery directly to bank accounts. As a result, businesses experience increased cash flow, which can be a major pain point, especially for small businesses.

“Cash flow management and more immediate access to funds is critical for small businesses to survive and thrive in a rapidly evolving payments ecosystem,” said Visa Canada’s VP and Head of New Payments Jim Filice. “Together with Square, we’re committed to supporting Canadian small businesses and helping to identify solutions that can benefit them by delivering fast, reliable and secure access to funds.”

Photo by Laura Tancredi

Western Union Expands Partnership with Visa

Western Union Expands Partnership with Visa
  • Western Union is bolstering its partnership with Visa by expanding its integration with Visa Direct.
  • Visa Direct is Visa’s real-time money movement network.
  • The expansion will bring Visa Direct to Western Union’s U.S. clients, enabling them to send money in near-real-time to Visa debit cards in Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Romania, and Thailand.

Money transfer firm Western Union is building on its partnership with Visa this week. The Colorado-based company is expanding its integration with Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time money movement network.

Under the agreement, the pair will bring Visa Direct to Western Union’s U.S. clients, enabling them to send money in near-real-time to Visa debit cards in Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Romania, and Thailand. Western Union and Visa first teamed up in 2019 to enable Western Union customers in more than 20 countries across Europe to send and/or receive funds directly to Visa debit card holders.

“Western Union and Visa share a vision for modern money movement, one that ensures cross-border payments are reliable, efficient and transparent, with convenience and the customer’s channel of choice at the center of our customer experience,” said Western Union President of the Americas Gabriella Fitzgerald. “Our partnership with Visa underscores the benefits that collaboration brings to realizing this shared vision for our joint customers around the globe.”

Visa first launched Visa Direct in Europe in 2017 as a real-time payments platform to allow companies to leverage Visa’s global reach and scale for cross-border payments. In addition to Western Union, nearly 550 partners, including Adyen, The Bancorp, Fiserv, and Stripe support Visa Direct solutions.

“Visa is transforming cross-border payments with Visa Direct by helping to bring the ability to securely send and receive funds in near-real-time to more use cases around the world,” said Senior VP North America Head Yanilsa Gonzalez-Ore. “Through this partnership, we are using Western Union’s digital capabilities to help US customers send money to their family and friends and provide a means to help with bills, as a gift, or for an emergency.”

Founded in 1851, Western Union is one of the oldest cross-border money transfer pioneers. The company’s global financial network bridges more than 200 countries and territories and approximately 130 currencies. In a partnership earlier this year, Western Union integrated Marqeta’s payment cards solution into its digital wallet and digital banking platform in Europe.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Paymob Closes Egyptian Fintech’s Biggest Series B; South African’s Capitec Partners with Entersekt and nCino

Paymob Closes Egyptian Fintech’s Biggest Series B; South African’s Capitec Partners with Entersekt and nCino

A $50 million investment will help Egyptian digital payments company Paymob expand into new markets in both the Middle East and Africa. The round was led by Kora Capital, PayPal Ventures, and Clay Point, and represents the largest ever Series B round in Egyptian fintech history.

“Central Bank of Egypt initiatives that are continuously being introduced in the market to support fintech companies were key to Paymob’s growth,” company founder and CEO Islam Shawky said. “The Central Bank has created a regulatory framework to help fintech flourish and participate in making Egypt’s digital financial inclusion ambitions a reality.”

Processing more than 85% of the market share of transactions in Egypt with its mobile wallet technology, Paymob serves customers in five markets including Palestine, Pakistan, and Kenya. The investment comes as Paymob reports strong 2021 growth, including year-on-year growth in merchant partners and monthly volumes of 4x as of December. The company has onboarded more than 10,000 merchants in less than two years en route to a goal of onboarding one million SMEs.

This week’s funding brings Paymob’s total capital to more than $68.5 million.

South African bank Capitec announced that it was teaming up with two Finovate alums, Entersekt and nCino.

One of the fastest-growing digital banks in South Africa, Capitec has partnered with cloud banking and digital transformation solution provider nCino. The two companies will work together to build Capitec’s Business Banking loan management system to better serve the company 70,000+ business banking customers.

“Capitec has embraced an agile and innovative approach to growth,” nCino CEO Pierre Naudé said. “We’re glad Capitec saw a partner in nCino and look forward to providing the bank with industry-leading technology and a flexible platform that will help drive the sustainability and growth of its business banking operations.”

nCino made its Finovate debut in 2017 at FinovateEurope. The company’s flagship offering, its cloud-based Bank Operating System, provides a complete end-to-end banking solution that combines CRM, loan origination, workflow, ECM, business intelligence, and reporting all in a single location. nCino’s technology replaces disparate point solutions and manual processes with a modern, digitally-optimized experience.

In addition to its collaboration with nCino, Capitec also announced this week that it was working with South African identity and authentication solution provider Entersekt. Capitec will implement the company’s EMV 3D Secure solution to enhance the security of its e-commerce transactions.

The technology will enable Capitec to spot high risk e-commerce transactions in real-time, enhancing security without interfering with the customer experience. Entersekt’s EMV 3D Secure solution is pre-integrated with NuDetect from NuData Security – also a Finovate alum – which leverages behavioral biometrics and machine learning to help tell the difference between authentic users and potential fraudsters.

“We are constantly looking for ways to offer the best security possible without impacting our customers’ experiences,” Capitec Bank Marketing and Communications Executive Francois Viviers said. “By implementing Entersekt’s EMV 3D Secure solution with behavioral analytics from NuData Security, we are able to provide an additional level of protection for our e-commerce transactions. This also allows our team to continue to innovate, keeping our customers secure and Capitec at the forefront of digital banking innovation in South Africa.”

Entersekt demonstrated its technology as part of our developers conference, FinDEVr, in San Francisco in 2014. The company, headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa, finished 2021 with a “significant investment” from Accel-KKR. This spring, Entersekt announced partnerships with edtech Mindjoy and the MiDO Foundation to promote financial literacy, as well as a collaboration with credit union service organization (CUSO) Bonifii to bring context-aware authentication solutions to credit unions.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Photo by Spencer Davis

Visa to Bring Buy Now Pay Later to Air Canada

Visa to Bring Buy Now Pay Later to Air Canada
  • Visa is bringing its Installment Solution to Air Canada, allowing customers to pay for their qualifying purchases over time.
  • According to Visa’s recent survey, a third of Canadians interested in using installments plans would do so for travel and entertainment.
  • Air Canada will be among the first group of airlines to use Visa’s BNPL tool.

If you’re looking to fly now, pay later in the friendly Canadian skies, you’re in luck. Visa announced this week it will collaborate with Air Canada to bring its Visa Installment Solution, a buy now, pay later (BNPL) solution to the Canadian airline.

Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, will be among the first group of airlines to use Visa’s BNPL tool. The Visa Installment Solution offers eligible cardholders a more flexible way to pay for qualifying purchases. At checkout, customers can opt to convert their purchase into smaller, equal payments made over time. With Visa’s Installment Solution, the card issuer sets attributes such as the duration of the installment plan, interest, and fees.

Keith Wallis, senior director Distribution and Payments, Air Canada expects the additional payment option will elevate the customer experience. “Visa is one of the most trusted brands in Canada and their close collaboration with major Canadian financial institutions provides a unique opportunity to deliver an exceptional shopping experience to our mutual customers,” Wallis said.

According to Visa’s recent survey, a third of Canadians interested in using installments plans would do so for travel and entertainment. In fact, BNPL is on the rise across the board. A separate survey found that one third of shoppers use BNPL at least once a month, while 9% of consumers surveyed use it more than once a week.

Last August, Visa announced it was collaborating with payment solutions company i2c, which is using the Visa Installment Solution to launch BNPL capabilities for their participating issuers in North America. The partnership offers merchants an accelerated path to providing consumers with a BNPL option at checkout. Visa has also formed partnerships with Moneris, CIBC, Commerce Bank, Desjardins Group (Desjardins), Equinox Payments, ScotiaBank Versapay, HSBC, ANZ, GHL Systems Malaysia, Quest Payment Systems, Home Credit Bank, Russian Standard Bank, Cybersource, FIS, Global Payments, and TSYS to enable the Visa Installments Solution.

Photo by Sasha Prasastika

Have Cryptocurrency Firms Reached a Moral Crossroads Over Ukraine?

Have Cryptocurrency Firms Reached a Moral Crossroads Over Ukraine?

While much of the financial world is united in its efforts to distance itself from Russia as the country’s leader, Vladimir Putin, orders his forces continue their invasion of neighboring Ukraine, many of those in the cryptocurrency world are decidedly more ambivalent.

Is this a function of the underlying libertarian spirit that powers much of the enthusiasm for digital assets? Or is this just a reflection of a relatively young industry that is not yet ready to take on the responsibilities that its growing role in the financial world will eventually demand?

First, the ask. At the beginning of the week, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov took to social media to ask cryptocurrency exchanges to block transactions from Russia. Federov’s request was not just directed at the Russian government, or the country’s notorious oligarchs, but for everyday Russian users of cryptocurrencies, as well.

“It’s crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians,” Federov wrote on Twitter, “but also to sabotage ordinary users.”

In the same way that some people have criticized the international sanctions regime against Russia for allowing a loophole when it comes to energy – specifically banning oil and gas exports from Russia – Federov and others have warned that not restricting, if not outright eliminating, Russian access to cryptocurrencies is a critical flaw in the effort to financially squeeze the Russian economy.

In response to this request, many nations have taken action. France’s Finance Minister, Bruno le Maire, said that the EU would include cryptocurrencies in its sanctions. The Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K. has reminded its U.K.-based and regulated cryptocurrency companies of their obligations to respect the sanctions policy against Russia. Even those cryptocurrency firms that are not regulated have been encouraged to support the sanctions regime. “We would urge unregulated member(s) to take action to ensure your platforms do not become a loophole for sanctioned Russians,” U.K. cryptocurrency organization Crypto UK said in a statement.

In the U.S., while some lawmakers have encouraged the government to help ensure that Russians are not using cryptocurrencies to skirt sanctions, the Biden Administration appears less concerned about that threat – at least on the large scale. Carol House, director of cybersecurity for the National Security Council said this week that “the scale that the Russian state would need to successfully circumvent all U.S. and partners’ financial sanctions would almost certainly render cryptocurrency as an ineffective primary tool for the state.” If anything, it seems that U.S. authorities are somewhat more concerned about potential theft and cybersecurity issues surrounding cryptocurrency companies than they are of Russians using these firms and exchanges for what would otherwise be legitimate purposes.

The response from cryptocurrency companies – including some of the largest firms like Binance and Kraken – have suggested that while they are comfortable blocking the accounts of sanctioned Russians, banning all Russians from their platforms is, for these companies, a bridge too far. At least for now.

“We are not political, we are against war, but we are here to help the people,” Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao said, explaining his company’s position. “There are a few hundred individuals that are on the international sanctions list in Russia, mostly politicians, and we follow that very, very strictly.” But Zhao added that Binance draws a line “between the Russian politicians who start wars and the normal people, many normal Russians do not agree with war.”

Similarly, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell tweeted, “I understand the rationale for this request (to block Russians from Kraken’s platform) but, despite my deep respect for the Ukrainian people, Kraken cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal requirement to do so.”

That said, Powell noted, “Russians should be aware that such a requirement could be imminent.”

Additionally, it should be added many cryptocurrency companies are not agnostic to the conflict in the Ukraine and have lent their support to the Ukrainian cause. Federov expressed his, and his country’s, appreciation for the efforts of firms like Polkadot, which donated $5 million, as well as Solana and Everstake, which have created a joint effort called Aid for Ukraine in partnership with the country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation.

“This will certainly contribute to the Ukrainian victory as well as support civil people,” Federov said on Twitter earlier this week. “We will win – the best people (are) with us.”

FinovateEurope 2022 is only a few weeks away. Register today to save your spot at our annual European fintech conference: March 15 digitally and live in London on March 22 and 23.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Brazilian Digital Bank Nubank Raises $2.6 Billion in U.S. IPO

Brazilian Digital Bank Nubank Raises $2.6 Billion in U.S. IPO

Selling nearly 290 million shares priced at $9 in its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange this week, Brazilian digital bank Nubank has raised $2.6 billion, reaching a market value of $41 billion. An alumni of Finovate’s developer’s conference FinDEVr in 2016, Nubank is now the most valuable financial institution in Latin America in addition to being the world’s biggest digital bank. CEO David Vélez, who co-founded the company in 2013 with an initial investment of $2 million from Sequoia Capital and Kaszek Ventures, now owns a stake in the company worth $8.9 billion at the IPO price.

“We don’t think the banking branch will survive the way it is,” Vélez said to CNBC this week. “It is too costly to serve the majority of users, especially in emerging markets where you have a very high cost of operations, so a lot of that physical infrastructure will probably disappear.” Vélez predicted that most financial services providers will transition into digital entities in the next five to ten years because of this, leading to an increased focus on customer service as well as lower costs and interest rates.

With more than 48 million customers in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, and onboarding more than two million new customers a month on average, Nubank offers financial products for spending, savings, investments, loans, and insurance. The company claims to have provided more than five million people with their first credit card or bank account as of September 30, and to have saved its customers more than $4 billion (R$27 billion) in bank fees and more than 113 million hours of waiting time since inception.

Vélez said that the capital from the IPO will help fuel Nubank’s expansion in Mexico and Colombia, en route to becoming a truly pan-Latin American banking services provider. “There is a lot of opportunity to build the next generation of financial services, so we will continue to invest and grow for a very long time,” Vélez said an interview with the Financial Times.

This fall, Nubank acquired AI-powered assistant company Olivia, announced partnerships with a number of retailers to add a digital commerce section to its app in November, and purchased e-commerce payments company Spin Pay.

FinovateEurope 2022 is right around the corner. If you are an innovative fintech company with new technology to show, then there’s no better time than now and no better forum than FinovateEurope. To learn more about how to demo your latest innovation at FinovateEurope 2022 in London, March 22-23, visit our FinovateEurope hub today!

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean


Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Photo by Cassiano Psomas from Pexels

Veem Teams Up with Visa, Q2 to Bring Digital Money Management and AR/AP Innovations to SMEs

Veem Teams Up with Visa, Q2 to Bring Digital Money Management and AR/AP Innovations to SMEs

From a collaboration with Visa to a partnership with Q2, new Finovate alum Veem, which made its Finovate debut last September at FinovateFall, continues to offer the kind of solutions to help make business payments easy, efficient, and affordable.

In fact, within one month of the company’s first-ever demo on the Finovate stage – a presentation of Veem’s Partner Connect product – the San Francisco, California-based company inked two major deals with some of the most innovative companies in financial services and digital banking.

Veem’s partnership with Visa, announced in the first half of October, will give the company’s 400,000+ customers access to a new SMB Visa card program, as well as digital money movement capabilities courtesy of Visa’s real-time push payments platform, Visa Direct. The agreement will enable Veem customers to generate and issue virtual Visa payment cards that can be used to cover business costs ranging from payments to suppliers to more general business expenses. The virtual card program, along with Veem’s spend management tools, also provides reconciliation and other financial benefits to help customers further digitize and streamline their operations. Access to Visa Direct will give Veem’s U.S. clients the ability to send money directly to both bank accounts and eligible Visa cards in more than 160 currencies.

“Visa is renowned for having broad network acceptance both domestically and internationally,” Veem CEO Marwan Forzley said. “Our collaboration helps Veem expand digital payment options for our customers, as we continue to build the next generation global solution for businesses.”

Veem also last month announced that it was teaming up with digital banking innovator Q2. The partnership is geared toward taking the friction out of the accounts payable/accounts receivable process for SMEs by making Veem’s AP/AR automation platform available to the 450+ financial institutions and 1.5 million businesses on Q2’s digital banking platform.

“This partnership with Veem gives our Financial institutions the ability to deliver Veem’s modern payment services to SMB customers with agility and reliability,” Q2 Innovation Studio Managing Director Johnny Ola said. “Businesses are looking for embedded solutions that act as a one-stop-shop to conduct all their day-to-day transactions. With our integration with Veem, we are excited to give our financial institution customers the option to offer small businesses innovative technology solutions.”

The two collaborations were only part of a very busy autumn for Veem, which was founded n 2014. Also last month, the company appointed Jeff Revoy as Chief Growth Officer and Travis Green as Vice President of Product Management. Revoy brings 20 years of CEO, President, and C-level experience at a number of public and VC-backed firms. Previous to his joining Veem, Revoy was Chief Operating Officer for SpaceIQ, a real estate workplace management software company he founded in 2016 that was acquired by WeWork in the summer of 2019.

In September, Veem secured $31 million in strategic funding in a round led by Truist Ventures. The company said in a statement that the capital will help it develop a robust channel partner program to broaden the company’s geographic footprint. The investment takes the company’s total equity funding to just over $100 million.

“This funding round marks an important milestone for the company, putting us in an ideal position to build out our channel partner program and prepare for Veem’s next stage of global growth,” Forzley said when the investment was announced. “Our channel partner network serves as our vehicle to better commercialize our product offering and further expand upon our market development efforts.”

As Veem’s FinovateFall debut showed, the development of its channel partner program has already borne fruit. At the conference, Veem’s Revoy and Connor Grilo demonstrated a new minimal code integration – Partner Connect – that enables banks to offer their clients an all-in-one, global payments platform designed for small and mid-sized businesses that keeps the bank’s branding at the forefront. The solution is integrated with the major accounting platforms so that, with a couple of clicks, users can reconcile what they are sending out from or receiving in Veem with their accounting software.

“There’s no back and forth, there’s no trying to keep two separate systems,” Revoy said from the Finovate stage. “All of this is automated and designed in a way so that, as a business owner, it can be fast, it can save you time, hopefully it will save you money, and will save you a lot of headaches, because everything is tied together.”

Photo by Ariadne Barroso from Pexels

Instant Payments, TED, and PIX: Open Banking Advances in Brazil

Instant Payments, TED, and PIX: Open Banking Advances in Brazil

This week marks the beginning of Phase 3 of Brazil’s embrace of open banking. Phase 3 is the second-to-last stage of the implementation plan set out by the Brazilian Central Bank. According to reports, Phase 3 arrives about one month late – the original date was September 30th – but the changes that the newest phase of the open banking initiative will bring are significant enough to be worth the wait.

Divided into four parts, the goal of Phase 3 is to usher in the regulation of payment initiation from any online platform. This will initially involve enabling consumers to pay for products and services using PIX – without the consumer having to use their bank’s app. PIX is the smartphone-based, instant payments technology launched by the Brazilian central bank almost a year ago. The second part of Phase 3, enabling payments made with TED (transferência eletrônica disponível) and transfers between accounts of the same bank, is set to begin in mid-February of 2022; the third part, enabling payments via bank slip, is slated to begin in late June; and the fourth and final part of Phase 3, enabling payment by debit account, is set to go live at the end of September.

Payment initiation is only one component of the open banking project Brazil has undertaken. Giving consumers the ability to make price comparisons, as well as compare rates and credit offers, are also major new possibilities for consumers that will be available thanks to the introduction of open banking in the country. These elements are expected to begin at the end of March 2022.

“The initiation will have a great impact especially on fintechs, which may offer more practical solutions for consumers or improve your internal financial processes from direct payment,” Belvo General Director Albert Morales explained. “Large banks, on the other hand, should start to rethink prices and solutions offered, both to attract new users and to retain users.”

Brazil’s open banking project, approved in 2019 by the country’s central bank, is part of a larger modernization effort for the Brazil’s entire financial system. And while the global pandemic has played a major role in complicating the project’s original timeline, officials expect open banking to be fully implemented in the country by September of next year.

Read more about Brazil’s open banking project in this interview with Otávio Damaso, Regulation Director for Brazil’s central bank, conducted by The Paypers last month. Damaso explains why Brazil has embraced open banking, and how open banking fits into the larger context of regulatory changes and trends in the country.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Photo by Aline Cardoso from Pexels

Visa Invests in Deserve to Boost Access to its Credit Card-as-a-Service Product

Visa Invests in Deserve to Boost Access to its Credit Card-as-a-Service Product

Credit card innovator Deserve is getting a boost this week. That’s because Visa invested an undisclosed amount into the credit card company, which already counts $287 million in total funding.

The two have also formed a strategic partnership with an aim to expand access to Deserve’s credit-card-as-a-service for financial institutions, fintechs, and brands. This comes after the two parties collaborated in Visa’s Fintech Fast Track program to launch a credit card with crypto rewards in partnership with BlockFi.

“Visa’s Crypto team collaborated with BlockFi and Deserve to launch a crypto rewards credit card that would appeal to crypto enthusiasts and introduce crypto to the masses,” said Visa’s Vice President of Crypto AJ Shanley. “The BlockFi Bitcoin rewards credit card has been an immediate success. We are excited about our partnership and new investment in Deserve and are looking forward to continuing to drive the adoption of crypto powered card programs together.”

Founded in 2013, Deserve rebranded from SelfScore in 2017. The company has re-imagined traditional credit cards, thinking outside of the 3.37 inch by 2.125 inch plastic square. Deserve is bringing credit cards into the digital era by transforming the application and onboarding processes, as well as the credit card itself.

The company’s products include a co-branded credit card program to help firms create and launch their own credit card, a credit card-as-a-service offering that provides a turnkey card solution, and a direct-to-consumer digital-first card with a tandem mobile app. As Deserve Co-Founder and CEO Kalpesh Kapadia explains, “We’re transforming credit cards into software that lives on mobile devices not in wallets.”

Part of operating in today’s digital-first world includes helping firms compete with fintechs. Deserve offers commercial customers tools that go beyond traditional credit card rewards. For example, the company delivers additional capabilities to include Buy Now Pay Later, installment loans, and even payroll advance. Deserve’s clients include Sallie Mae, BlockFi, OppFi, Seneca Women, and Notre Dame.

Photo by Ruthson Zimmerman on Unsplash

From Affirm to Visa: The Latest from the Buy Now Pay Later Beat

From Affirm to Visa: The Latest from the Buy Now Pay Later Beat

The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) revolution shows no signs of abating any time soon. A combination of newcomers, Buy Now Pay Later pioneers, and even credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard are figuring out new ways to integrate themselves into the biggest consumer commerce phenomenon since shopping by smartphone.

According to CNBC, which bases its analysis on data from FIS Worldpay, the Buy Now Pay Later market has an estimated value of $60 billion globally as of 2019 – though there are even higher estimates. Excluding China, this sum represents 2.6% of all e-commerce. And while BNPL represents less than 2% of sales in North America, the overall BNPL market, CNBC believes, could reach $166 billion by 2023.

Here is just a smattering of this week’s headlines from the Buy Now Pay Later beat that only underscores the velocity of the flight from credit cards and traditional consumer financing.

Stripe teams up with Klarna as BNPL competition from Square, PayPal intensifies

Klarna, a company with a long pedigree in providing consumers with alternative payment options, announced this week that it was partnering with ecommerce innovator and payments platform Stripe. The deal will enable Stripe customers in 20 countries to offer Klarna as a payment option to their customers. As part of the partnership, Klarna will use Stripe to accept payments from consumers in both the U.S. and Canada.

“Over the past years, Klarna and Stripe redefined the e-commerce experience for millions of consumers and global retailers,” Klarna Chief Technology Officer Koen Köppen said. “Together with Stripe, we will be a true growth partner for retailers of all sizes, allowing them to maximize their entrepreneurial success through our joint services. By offering convenience, flexibility, and control to even more shoppers, we create a win-win situation for both retailers and consumers alike.”

The partnership is widely seen as a way for Stripe to compete with payments rivals PayPal and Square, which have deepened their commitment to BNPL in recent months. Square agreed to acquire Australia’s Afterpay for $29 million in August. A month later, PayPal announced its $2.7 billion acquisition of Japanese Buy Now Pay Later company Paidy.

Affirm partners with American Airlines to ease cost of holiday travel

In a move well-timed to take advantage of end-of-year travel trends, American Airlines has announced a partnership with Buy Now Pay Later innovator Affirm. The collaboration will enable eligible travelers to pay for the costs of airfare over time on an installment basis, providing them with “flexibility, transparency, and control,” according to Affirm Chief Commercial Officer Silvija Martincevic. Using Affirm, travelers can pay for flights costing at least $50 with monthly installments without having to pay late fees or worry about hidden charges.

“While consumers are as eager as ever to get away,” Martincevic said, “they remain conscious of fitting travel into their budget.” Martincevic cited a survey conducted by the company that indicated that 74% of Americans queried said they would spend more on holiday travel this year “than ever before,” but that 60% were worried that they would not be able to “afford to travel as they would like to.”

The offering is currently available only to select customers, but will be expanded to include more U.S. consumers in the weeks to come. The collaboration marks the first time that American Airlines has integrated BNPL options into its website.

Marqeta and Amount announce collaboration to help banks offer BNPL

The partnership announced this week between card issuing platform Marqeta and bank technology provider Amount will make it easier for financial institutions to get into the Buy Now Pay Later business. Marqeta and Amount have forged a virtual card and loan origination partnership that will enable banks to go to market with their own BNPL/virtual card offering in months. This will help them boost revenues, grow market share, and promote loyalty.

Echoing the challenge that banks and other financial institutions face from Big Tech and fintech alike, Amount CEO Adam Hughes pointed to the partnership with Marqeta as a way for banks to close the consumer expectations gap between themselves and more tech-savvy, tech-native enterprises entering the financial services space. “Banks must compete or continue to lose market share to digital challengers who offer a more flexible way for their customers to pay,” Hughes said.

Part of what makes the Marqeta/Amount partnership interesting is how it takes advantage of research that suggests that a significant number of consumers who have used BNPL would prefer it if the service came from their bank or credit card provider. Amount’s modular approach to BNPL is configurable, easy to deploy, and integrates readily with banks’ legacy platforms, giving FIs the ability to introduce BNPL offerings over a variety of different channels and payment methods.

Berlin-based Billie banks $100 million in funding

The latest reminder of the international growth of Buy Now Pay Later comes from the $100 million investment secured by Berlin, Germany-based, B2B Buy Now Pay Later startup, Billie. The Series C round was led by U.K.-based Dawn Capital and featured participation from Tencent and, interestingly enough, Klarna. In fact, Klarna’s investment comes in the wake of a strategic partnership with Billie in which the two companies will integrate their service to better leverage their core competencies, with Billie serving business customers and Klarna handling retail consumers.

“BNPL for B2B is still in its infancy phase,” Klarna CEO and co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski explained, “even though the demand has never been higher. We are here to solve problems and by being able to offer this service to our merchant partners together with Billie, we are doing just that.”

The Series C round gives Billie a valuation of $640 million, and is believed to be the largest B2B Buy Now Pay Later funding round to-date. Co-founder and co-CEO of Billie, Dr. Matthias Knecht noted that those companies buying from larger businesses and individual retailers are increasingly embracing a “digital-first” approach that includes not just “modern user interfaces, high limits for shopping carts, as well as real-time decisions for B2B” but options like BNPL, as well. “There is nearly no provider of a BNPL product (for these companies) like what Klarna offers for B2C,” Knecht said. “We aim to close this gap.”

Visa expands BNPL offerings in Canada via partnership with Moneris

International card company and financial services provider Visa has been making inroads of its own into the Buy Now Pay Later market. This week, the company made headlines in the Canadian fintech news space via a new collaboration with unified commerce company Moneris.

“We’re happy to be working with a trusted brand like Visa Canada on providing a buy now pay later option to Canadians,” Moneris Chief Product and Partnership Officer Patrick Diab said. “Bringing flexible payment methods like buy now pay later to our merchants helps them offer their customers more options when it comes time to pay.”

Courtesy of the new collaboration, merchants partnered with Moneris will be able to leverage Visa’s BNPL solution – Visa Installments – to give eligible Canadian credit cardholders access to installment payments on qualifying purchases. Cardholders can use the existing credit on their cards to pay for purchases in smaller, equal payments over a defined time period, with no additional, new service sign ups or requirement to apply for a new line of credit.

Moneris is set to begin offering Visa Installments to its customers by the spring of 2022.

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Currencycloud Valued at $963 Million On News of Visa Acquisition

Currencycloud Valued at $963 Million On News of Visa Acquisition

Global payments platform Currencycloud is the latest fintech to catch the eye of Visa, which announced this week that it has agreed to acquire the London-based fintech in a deal that values the company at $963 million (GBP 700 million). The acquisition announcement noted that the pact builds on a partnership that extends back to 2019 and bolsters Visa’s foreign exchange capabilities, enabling them to better serve FIs, fintechs, and other partners, as well as help them explore new use cases and payment flows.

“At Currencycloud, we’ve always strived to deliver a better tomorrow for all, from the smallest start-up to the global multi-nationals,” Currencycloud CEO Mike Laven said. “Re-imagining how money flows around the global economy just got more exciting as we join Visa.” Laven added that bringing Currencycloud’s expertise in fintech to Visa’s network will “enable us to deliver greater customer value to the businesses moving money across borders.”

Currencycloud will continue to operate out of its London, U.K. headquarters and its current management team will remain intact.

The acquisition news comes just a few weeks after the Currencycloud announced a partnership with Global Processing Services (GPS) to expand access to cross-border payments. The collaboration will give fintechs the ability to enhance their current product offerings with products like multi-currency digital wallets and services like point-of-sale foreign exchange.

“For Fintechs, building a multi-currency solution requires a huge effort across multiple functional and regulatory domains,” Currencycloud co-founder and VP of Partnerships & Enterprise Stephen Lemon explained when the collaboration was announced in June. “By working with Currencycloud and GPS, fintechs can reduce the complexity involved and get to market much more quickly for a fraction of the cost of self-building, while vastly reducing ongoing operational risk and overhead.”

A Finovate alum for more than six years, Currencycloud most recently demonstrated its technology on the Finovate stage in 2018, where the company presented its Global Collections product. Since then, Currencycloud has grown into a platform whose APIs have enabled processing of more than $100 billion in transactions for companies ranging from neobanks to financial services corporations. Currencycloud currently supports nearly 500 bank and fintech customers, reaching more than 180 countries.

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