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Fintech Four: Santandar, Robo-Advisors, Crowdfunding, Apple Watches

four_blockHere are four developments making headlines last week:

1. According to Massolution, a research company that tracks crowdfunding volume, the total amount of debt and/or equity raised through so-called peer-to-peer platforms in 2014 was $12.2 billion:

  • Debt crowdfunding is up 3.2x year over year:
    2014 = $11.1 billion; 2013 = $3.4 billion
  • Equity crowdfunding up 2.8x year over year:
    2014 = $1.1 billion; 2013 = $390 million
    —–
  • Combined total up 3.2x:
    2014 = $12.2 billion; 2013 = $3.8 billion

Source: Massolution, 31 March 2014

2. Financial apps for the Apple Watch are slowly rolling out in advance of the 24 April 2015 launch. So far we have only four released but there are certain to be hundreds by year-end. We’ll definitely have a few Apple Watch demos at next month’s FinovateSpring15. According to Bank Innovations, the following financial institutions have iWatch apps available three weeks in advance of its introduction:

  • Citibank
  • Mint
  • Desjardins (Canadian Credit Union coalition)
  • Tangerine unit of ScotiaBank

Source: Bank Innovations, 31 March 2015

3. Santander goes all-in on mobile meal-pay. The amount of money flowing into the fintech sector is staggering, amounting to more than $3 billion so far this year. But investments from banks are still relatively rare; however, this week Spanish giant Santander made a bold bet on the mobile-payments space, investing $5 million into MyCheck’s Series B round. MyCheck offers a payments platform to restaurant chains such as Busaba and Prezzo in the U.K., and Blockheads and Aroma in the U.S. We are so looking forward to the uber-experience when dining out. I wonder if it will eventually put an end to discretionary tipping?

Source: TechCrunch, 29 March 2015

4. Robo-advisers are taking over the world, or at least that’s what it seems after watching hundreds of millions in venture capital (VC) money flow to the simplified investment platforms (case in point, VentureBeat is reporting that Acorns has attracted another $10 million to its service which invests your spare change). I had a great conversation this week with Herbert Moore, founder of WiseBanyan, an ETF-based asset-allocation service in the same vein as Betterment, FutureAdvisor, Wealthfront and others. But WiseBanyan has completely eliminated the asset-management fees, a bold move that is getting it plenty of attention. (My WiseBanyan beta-invite arrived as I was writing this, so am looking forward to giving it a spin).