The ways that ride-sharing companies in Asia have leveraged their platforms to bring a variety of financial services to underserved communities is one of the more noteworthy – and unexpected – developments in the evolution of fintech in the region.
Many people are familiar with Grab, the car-sharing and food delivery company founded in 2012 and based in Singapore. The firm picked up more than $850 million in funding in February to help fuel both its payments and financial services operations. Grab competes with other similar companies in the region such as Indonesia’s Gojek that have also taken the so-called “Super App” route to diversifying their offerings into e-commerce and financial services.
This week we learn that Asia’s ride sharing industry is helping financial services innovate in another way: China’s Didi has inked a deal with the country’s central bank to test its digital national currency. The strategic partnership, announced earlier this week, is designed to “jointly study and explore the innovation and application of digital RMB in the field of smart mobility.”
Digital RMB trials began earlier this year in April, and involved four Chinese cities – as well as host of major U.S. brands like Starbucks and McDonald’s. China’s top four, state-owned banks have been included in the trials, and are reportedly testing a wallet to enable users to store and send the digital currency. The People’s Bank of China hopes to launch its digital RMB around the time of the 2022 Winter Olympics, to be held in Beijing. The central bank has been working on its digital currency project – known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) since 2014.
We took a look at how different countries around the world have begun to examine the role digital currencies could play in their economies earlier this year in Finovate Global. Here is our reporting on digital currencies and central banks in Europe and the Americas. For more on the pros and cons of digitizing national currencies, check out our coverage from the beginning of the year, as well.
Founded in 2012, Didi has more than 550 million users in China, Asia, Latin America, and Australia who use its on-demand transportation service.
Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.
Central and Eastern Europe
- Pair Finance, a digital debt collection company based in Berlin, Germany, secures $2.2 million (€2 million) in new funding from existing investors.
- U.K.-based banking services provider ELPASO goes live for Ukrainian SMEs and merchants.
- Paysafe, a payment service provider headquartered in the U.K., launches its Paysafecash solution in Bulgaria.
Middle East and Northern Africa
- Paymentology, a cloud-based payment processor based in the U.K., to expand its operations in the Middle East.
- Discover and Saudi Payments ink strategic agreement that will enable cardholders to use the cars on the country’s mada network.
- Libyan fintech Tadawul Tech launches its new Electronic Payment Platform.
Central and Southern Asia
- India’s Paytm to acquire insurance company Raheja QBE in deal valued at $76 million.
- Central Bank of Sri Lanka to develop blockchain-based KYC platform.
- Pakistan-based digital wallet SadaPay hires former Gojek executive Jon Sheppard as its new Chief Technology Officer
- India-based insurtech marketplace PolicyBazaar scores $130 million in new investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund.
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Fintech-as-a-service company Rapyd goes live in Mexico with its integrated payment solution.
- Brazilian fintech Swap, which helps FIs build their own fintech businesses, raises $3.3 million in seed funding.
- Brazilian SME financial solution provider One7 acquires small business invoice financing firm Rapidoo.
- Payfazz, an Indonesian company that provides financial services to the underserved communities, raises $53 million in Series B funding.
- A partnership between Viet Capital Bank, 7-Eleven Vietnam, and JCB International (JCBI) powers the launch of the Viet Capital Bank JCB 7-Eleven credit card.
- Fintech Futures looks at open banking adoption rates in South Korea.
- Global online money transfer services company WorldRemit goes live in Somalia.
- Nigeria’s Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS) reports an increase in mobile payments of more than 390% since May 2019.
- Visa launches its online payment solution, Click to Pay, in South Africa.