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Zopa Launches Digital Bank; The State of MENA Fintech


U.K.-based peer-to-peer lender Zopa announced this week that it has been awarded a full U.K. banking license and will move forward with its plans to launch a digital bank.

The bank will offer the Zopa Fixed Term Savings Account, which features FSCS protection up to £85,000. Zopa plans to introduce a credit card later this year.

“Now more than ever the banking industry needs innovative, agile providers who work on behalf of customers,” Zopa CEO Jaidev Janardana said. “At a time when people want great value, fair financial services products, and simple, intuitive digital experience(s), Zopa offers consumers a compelling and credible alternative they can trust.”

Founded in 2005, and one of Finovate’s earliest alums, Zopa raised $182 million last December in preparation for bank launch announced this week. The company has secured a total of more than $464 million in funding since inception.


Village Capital is out with its State of Financial Health Startups report which looks at the areas of innovation with the “greatest potential to improve the wellbeing and inclusion of marginalized communities in MENA.”

The State of Financial Health Startups in MENA acknowledges the attention paid to areas of fintech such as digital payments and e-commerce. At the same time, the goal of the report is to focus on those ways that fintech can solve specific problems in the region, specifically the challenge of inequality.

The report highlighted six fields of fintech innovation that are mostly likely to meet this challenge, as well as 12 startups that are active in these areas. The fields were:

  • saving and wealth-building technology
  • employment tech
  • digital ID
  • financial literacy services
  • access to capital
  • alternative lending

The twelve featured startups were:

  • Rumman (Palestine)
  • SmartCrowd (UAE)
  • Kader (Jordan)
  • Khtwteen (Egypt)
  • Hawiyati (Jordan)
  • Valify Solutions (Egypt)
  • Finllect (UAE)
  • Merakido (Egypt)
  • Fawaterak (Egypt)
  • Fundbot (Lebanon)
  • Ciwa (Morocco)
  • Solfeh (Jordan)

The Catalyst Fund, supported by BFA Global, UK aid, JP Morgan Chase and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, has announced its latest fintech cohort.

The Fund has accelerated 31 portfolio companies that have raised collectively more than $64 million in follow-on fundraising since inception. The Fund awards each of its portfolio companies $100,000 in grant capital, as well as venture-building support for six months, and one-on-one networking with investors and corporate leaders to help them scale their businesses. Of the companies making the cut were a number of fintechs including:

  • FlexFinance (Nigeria)
  • Paymenow (South Africa)
  • Mango Life (Mexico)
  • Graviti (Mexico)
  • KarmaLife (India)

“We believe we are facing a catalytic moment during which there is an opportunity to use technology to help low-income consumers and small businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19 and build greater financial resilience for the future,” Catalyst fund director Maelis Carraro said.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Asia-Pacific

  • Malaysian recurring payments platform Curlec announces funding from 500 Startups.
  • Thai cashless solution provider for businesses SYNQA raises $80 million in Series C investment.
  • TechWireAsia looks at the impact of COVID-19 on Indonesia’s emerging fintech industry.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigerian fintech KiaKia goes live with its app that enables users to invest in the funding of secured personal and business loans.
  • Centbee, a fintech based in South Africa, adds the ability to purchase prepaid electricity, airtime, and data via a new feature on its BitcoinSF wallet.
  • GhanaWeb features Ghanaian cross-border, money transfer company FXKudi.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Edenred, a French prepaid corporate services provider, launches Apple Pay mobile payments for digital meal vouchers in Romania.
  • Lithuania-based identity verification firm iDenfy partners with U.K. online banking platform Cashaa to help cryptocurrency investors in India avoid fraud.
  • Austria gains a new insurtech competitor as Hong Kong-based bolttech partners with local telcom Drei to bring the first non-insurance switch program to the country.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Egypt-based fintech MoneyFellows raises $4 million in Series A funding.
  • Global tech ecosystem, Hub71, teams up with Mashreq Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank to help startups open bank accounts in the UAE.
  • Commercial Bank of Dubai and cross-border payment provider Thunes announce partnership, enhancing CBD’s ability to operate in countries such as India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Central and Southern Asia

  • India-Based Slice raises $6 million for digital payments.
  • BharatPe, a QR code-based, merchant payments company based in India, enters the point of sale business with the launch of its Bharat Swipe PoS solution.
  • Alphabet’s growth equity arm, CapitalG, invests $28 million in India-based SME lender Aye Finance.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • BBVA announces that its mobile banking platform GloMo will support Apple Watch users in Uruguay.
  • Mexican bank Banorte and on-demand delivery firm Rappi partner to launch a financial services company in Mexico.
  • Central Bank of Brazil suspends WhatsApp payments in the country, citing competitiveness concerns.