Back to Blog

Will a Hackathon Help the Fight Against COVID? A Spotlight on Fintech in Asia


The world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and financial services and fintech companies are no exception. We’ve taken a look at how lenders are working to help small businesses struggling with cash flow challenges, and how firms are offering their services free of charge during the crisis to help businesses continue operating with as little interruption as possible.

Beyond this, a number of institutions around the world have taken more innovative approaches to helping manage the dislocations caused by COVID-19. Stockholm, Sweden-based Swedbank, for example, has supported hackathons in Latvia and Lithuania dedicated toward finding solutions to help businesses and individuals deal with COVID-19 related issues. The firm announced today that it is sponsoring a global hackathon in April, called “The Global Hack” to broaden the effort to get fintechs involved in the effort.

Swedbank is specifically sponsoring the economy track of the hackathon, which Swedbank Head of Digital Banking and IT Lotta Lovén said would help drive innovation in products designed to help keep markets moving.

“We not only dive into topics that will help our customers and industry through these unprecedented times, but the results will also support the local communities and the society as a whole,” Lovén said.

The Global Hack event is also supported by the European Commission, the World Health Organization, The World Economic Forum, and LinkedIn, among others.

The Fintech Times has just published its special edition on Asia – guest edited by The Finanser’s Chris Skinner. And while the timing does not allow for much consideration of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on China’s fintech industry, a handful of articles nevertheless feature worth-reading insights on what that industry might look like on the other side of the current public health crisis.

Foremost among them – and having the most relevance for Western audiences – may be Jim Marous’ article, Tomorrow’s Model for Banking Exists Today. Marous, publisher of The Financial Brand, credits “big data, advanced analytics, modern digital technology and an innovation culture” for what he calls “the spectacular growth of innovative financial services in China.” The fact that this innovation is accompanied by – instead of being ahead of – successful financial inclusion makes the achievements of China’s techfin and fintech enterprises all the more worth learning from.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Payments platform Paysafe launches Paysafecash in Latvia.
  • Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB Bank, announces big data joint venture with telecom Rostelecom.
  • Polish payments processor KIR partners with Danish authentication solutions provider Cryptomathic.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • PayBy, a fintech based in Abu Dhabi, begins mobile payment services in the UAE.
  • Dubai-based Rise, which provides banking services to underbanked migrant workers in the UAE, raises $1.4 million in funding.
  • Mobile banking services provider Khazna secures seed funding in round led by Egyptian VC Algebra Ventures.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Recko, an Indian fintech that leverages AI to reconcile digital transaction plans, raises $6 million in Series A funding.
  • Fortune India looks at the impact of COVID-19 on India’s fintech industry.
  • The case for an “urgent adoption” of digital cash in Pakistan.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Uruguayn-Mexican fintech Mozper, which specializes in helping parents financially educate their children, raises pre-seed investment of $770,000.
  • Mexico-based digital payment processor Kushki locks in Series A funding in round led by DILA Capital.
  • Brazil’s Cora adds cash flow boosting feature to its SME platform that enables customers that are observing quarantines to purchasing vouchers today from their favorite merchant for goods and services to be picked up later.

Asia-Pacific

  • Japanese digital banking startup Kyash raises $45 million in Series C funding.
  • Hong Kong virtual bank Airstar Bank pilots its virtual banking service.
  • Ripple to power cross-border payments for Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African fintech TaxTim teams up with PwC to support expansion to Nigeria.
  • Zeepay Ghana wins approval for mobile money license.
  • Bank of Zimbabwe inks memorandum of agreement with Apollo Fintech to build a gold-based digital currency.

Top image designed by Freepik