InvestHK opens CBDC Fast Track programme
Finextra, Posted August 10, 2022
Invest Hong Kong has opened its Global Fast Track business matching and pitching portal to the territory’s central bank (HKMA) in a bid to boost the monetary authority’s CBDC research.
The CBDC track invites banks, fintechs and tech firms to submit innovative ideas for development in eight focus areas, including retail CBDC (rCBDC) adoption, wholesale CBDC (wCBDC) adoption, programmable money, interoperability, privacy, cybersecurity, foreign exchange and liquidity management, and offline payments.
Shortlisted applicants will then enter a pitching session and compete for three awards covering business use case, technology and ecosystem approach. All qualified candidates will also be given the opportunities to work with the HKMA on research projects and pilots.
Stock Exchange of Thailand creates SET Fin Lab
Finextra, Posted August 10, 2022
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), in collaboration with Bloomberg, has set up a ‘Fin Lab’ to nurture the next generation of capital markets professionals.
Equipped with a suite of market data and analytical tools from Bloomberg, the Fin Lab has forged ties with eight universities in Thailand to provide finance students with real practical experience of financial markets trading.
SET President Pakorn Peetathawatchai says: “Given drastic technology developments and emerging financial innovation, personnel in the capital market, including those who want to become professionals, need to develop and sharpen skills regularly. ‘SET Fin Lab’ is geared up to motivate learning, with real practical exercises.”
SoftBank hit with record losses amid tech slump
The New York Times, Posted August 8, 2022
In a harbinger of hard times to come for financial technology fundraising, fintech cheerleader SoftBank has posted a record loss at its Vision Fund investment arm amid a rash of downgrades among its portfolio companies.
The Japanese giant’s Vision Fund posted a $17.2 billion loss for the June quarter, it’s second quarterly sequential loss this year.
The company, which has backed a host of fintechs, including Klarna, Revolut and Zopa, has warned that it will be dialling down future investments as the slump in the valuation of tech stocks coincides with rampant inflationary pressures and rising interest rates.
Speaking at a results presentation on Monday, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son admitted to getting “over-excited” last year as companies in its portfolio experienced soaring valuations. Klarna, for instance achieved an eye-popping $46 billion valuation last June as Softbank led a $639 million funding round in the buy now, pay later giant. Its price tag has since nosedived to just $6.7 billion.
Obscure fintech hits $310bn valuation in GameStop-style surge
Finextra, Posted August 5, 2022
In what appears to be a GameStop-style retail investor-frenzy, shares in a little-known Asian fintech have soared more than 21,000% since its IPO less than a month ago, making it more valuable than Bank of America.
Hong Kong-based AMTD Digital listed on the Nyse on 15 July at a price of $7.80 a share. In the weeks since, it has seen the price rocket to $1,679, giving it a market capitalisation of more than $310 billion.
The company, a subsidiary of investment holding firm AMTD Idea Group that provides a “comprehensive one-stop digital solutions platform” for the FS sector, made $25 million in revenues last year.
It has become one of the most traded stocks on retail platforms, with its rise compared to the Reddit WallStreetBets frenzy of last year, which saw shares in GameStop and AMC rocket.
Malaysian Authorities, Regulators Seeking Feedback for Proposed BNPL Regulation
Crowdfund Insider, Posted August 7, 2022
The Consumer Credit Oversight Board Task Force in Malaysia recently shared the Consumer Credit Act consultation document, which is the new act that aims to properly regulate and consolidate all consumer credit activities under its unit, and to also support “fair” lending and “responsible” conduct by credit service providers.
The task force is reportedly being led by Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance, Bank Negara Malaysia (the nation’s central bank) and Securities Commission Malaysia along with assistance from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Entrepreneur Development And Cooperation, and Companies Commission of Malaysia.
The consultation document is the first of a two-part consultation paper, which offers an extensive overview and approach of the suggested regulatory guidelines.
Card Payments in Malaysia to Increase by Over 15% in 2022: Report
Crowdfund Insider, Posted August 8, 2022
The Malaysian card payments market is “set to record a robust growth of 15.2% in 2022, supported by the gradual rise in consumer spending, government’s financial inclusion measures, and increasing preference for contactless payments,” forecasts GlobalData, a data and analytics company.
According to GlobalData’s Payment Cards Analytics, the value of card payments in Malaysia “recorded a strong growth of 15.9% in 2021, after observing a 5.4% decline in 2020 due to the reduced consumer spending amid the COVID-19 uncertainty.” The value of card payments is “forecasted to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5% over 2022-26 to reach MYR401.9bn ($96.5 billion) in 2026.”
Over 1 million customers complete Revolut’s crypto learning courses
Altfi, Posted August 11, 2022
Over one million people have completed Revolut’s crypto education course in the first month since its launch, demonstrating a public appetite for the speculative asset class during times of rampant inflation.
Revolut’s new in app ‘Learn & Earn’ courses reward customers with Dot tokens for improving their knowledge of cryptocurrencies and related topics, including blockchains, and passing s final quiz.
The courses cover crypto basics and more advanced topics such as Web3.
So far, almost 1.5 million customers from 32 countries have completed the courses.
Working group formed to determine the future of UK open banking
Finextra, Posted August 10, 2022
UK regulatory bodies have formed a strategic working group (SWG) to map out the future of open banking.
The Joint Regulatory Oversight Committee (JROC), a cross-authority taskforce convened by the Competition and Markets Authority in March, was established to build on the progress of open banking under a new regulatory regime that will sunset the the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) in favour of a new body, with a more broadly-based funding and governance mode.
The Financial Conduct Authority and the Payment Systems Regulator have recruited Bryan Zhang, co-founder and executive director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, as chair of the working group. Other appointments will be made from industry representatives, subject matter experts and other stakeholders, such as consumers and businesses.
Lord Hammond enlisted to back £1 billion UK fintech fund
Finextra, Posted August 9, 2022
A group of senior industry figures are leading plans to create a new £1 billion fintech fund to accelerate the growth of promising UK scale-ups, Sky News has learned.
Lord Hammond, the former chancellor, is among a host of heavyweight figures being enlisted to back the new venture, which has been provisionally named the Fintech Growth Fund. Other names cited include fintech veteran Al Lukies and the Fintech Alliance’s Phil Vidler.
Hammond already acts as an advisor to UK crypto startup Copper and challenger OakNorth Bank.
City sources told Sky News that the fund would seek to raise capital from institutional investors and be independent of the government.
Companies including Barclays, London Stock Exchange Group and Mastercard are said to have been approached about providing small amounts of seed funding to get the new vehicle operational.
Fintech challenger Dozens shuts up shop
Finextra, Posted August 9, 2022
UK challenger banking app Dozens is to wind up its consumer operations, citing the domino effect of covid and funding constraints.
Launched in 2019, Dozens offered users a slew of budgeting and analytics tools to help them save and invest more efficiently.
The firm claims to have some 60,000 customers using its app, and has raised £28 million from Hong Kong-based backers, as well as a £3.5 million crowdfunding round on Seedrs.
The company informed customers of the decision to shut up shop in June, giving them two months to transfer their cash to an altenative provider.
In a statement, the firm says: “Covid hit when we were still a very early stage company. Overnight we lost both investment and B2B deals worth millions of pounds. Our focus immediately switched to survival mode – simply looking after our employees and customers for as long as we could to provide some form of stability at a time when everything was so uncertain.”
UK Fintech Paysend Introduces 50 Additional Receiving Nations to Payments Network
Payment expert, Posted August 10, 2022
Paysend, the UK-based Fintech with over 7 million customers, recently announced that 50 new receiving countries have been “introduced to its global payments network since the start of 2022.”
These additional payments corridors “mean that Paysend customers can now send money to over 170 countries worldwide.”
Notable additional countries “supported by Paysend include: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Bermuda, Botswana, Brunei, the Cayman Islands, Chad, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Cook Islands, the Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia (check here for complete list).”
Alexander Bessonov, Group Head of Network Development and Strategic Partnerships at Paysend, said:
“As more and more people around the world require services to help them send funds, we continue to expand the reach of our network and the number of countries that our customers can send money to, in order to help them to stay connected and transfer money to their friends, family and loved ones. By adding an additional 76 receiving countries this year, Paysend is helping people across the globe experience more affordable rates for transferring money and experience far quicker processing times for payments through an easy-to-use and secure platform.”
UK’s Atom Bank Registers with the Lending Standards Board
Altfi, Posted August 10, 2022
The team at UK’s Atom Bank reveals that they’ve become a Registered Firm with the Lending Standards Board, a body “dedicated to upholding fair practices in the lending industry.”
Head of Business Lending at Atom Bank, Tom Renwick, has provided more details and “explains what this means.”
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) “account for over 99% of total businesses and three in five jobs in the UK (FSB).” They are “the backbone of the UK economy: driving competition and growth, acting as a hotbed for innovation and opening up new markets.”
That’s why Atom Bank claims they “are fiercely passionate about supporting small businesses here at Atom bank.” They aim to do this “by helping them achieve their potential through fair and responsible lending.”
Previously, they “made a commitment to become compliant with the Lending Standards Board (LSB) Standards of Lending Practice for business customers, and [they] are now delighted to announce that, having completed their assessment process, [they] have been admitted as a registered firm.”
Goldman Sachs’s credit card division under investigation by CFPB
Finextra, Posted August 5, 2022
Goldman Sachs’ credit cards unit undergoing investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
According to a securities filing on Thursday, the Wall Street giant was a subject of examination by the CFPB for possible charges of fraud relating to the company’s management issues in processing refunds, errors with consumer accounts, reporting back to bureau, and advertising.
A Goldman Sachs spokesperson stated they are cooperating with the federal agency in this investigation.
The details of the probe are still to be revealed, however the firm has been the target of numerous customer complaints since 2019, with clients claiming unresolved problems with fees and refunds with their Goldman credit card accounts.
Western Union and Visa Strengthen their International Partnership
Insider Intelligence, Posted August 10, 2022
Western Union recently announced an update to its existing partnership with Visa, expanding its integration with Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time1 money movement network, “into Western Union’s United States network.”
Western Union’s integration with Visa Direct was “initially activated across Europe, allowing Western Union customers in more than 20 countries to send and/or receive funds directly to eligible Visa debit card holders.”
Building on this momentum, Western Union customers in the United States can now “send money in near real-time to eligible Visa debit cards in Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Philippines, Romania and Thailand using WU.com, the Western Union app, or from many of Western Union’s US retail locations.”
Gabriella Fitzgerald, President of the Americas Region, Western Union, said:
“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. Our partnership with Visa underscores the benefits that collaboration brings to realizing this shared vision for our joint customers around the globe.”
Fintech TreviPay Introduces Small Business Supplier Network Banking Solution
The Fintech Times, Posted August 10, 2022
Global B2B payments and invoicing network TreviPay announced the launch of its Small Business Supplier Network (SBSN) across the United States, which is reportedly “the industry’s first payments network built for banks and their small business customers.”
Following TreviPay’s recent launches of specialized networks for large enterprises and midmarket businesses, the SBSN “completes TreviPay’s objective to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes.”
As a fully integrated, end-to-end payments network running in parallel with card payments, the SBSN “enables banks, as members of the network, to deliver a new white-labeled structured financial service to small business suppliers that sell to business and government entities on invoice payment terms.”
Digital Lending Platform Ranqx Extends Visa Partnership to North American Markets
Crowdfund Insider, Posted August 6, 2022
Ranqx, the digital lending platform built for lenders to small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs), has expanded its working relationship with Visa into North America.
Before collaborating with Visa in North America, Ranqx worked cooperatively with Visa in its Asia Pacific region.
Under the latest arrangement, Visa will be introducing financial institutions to Ranqx’s digital capabilities, helping direct lenders offer seamless access to capital for SMBs and solve complex processing issues typically found in small business credit underwriting.
As noted in the update, Ranqx assists small business lenders with enhancing the entire loan cycle, from start to finish.
With the firm’s innovative tech solution, loan applications aren’t simply made more straightforward but are a lot easier to complete.
The system assists with eliminating friction and inefficiencies in small business lending by embracing real-time, more accurate data sources and tech that enables lenders to understand SMB clients better and manage risk more efficiently.
Latin America’s Geopagos secures $35 million in equity funding
Finextra, Posted August 8, 2022
Latin American payments infrastrucutre provider Geopagos has secured its first institutional funding with a $35 million equity round led by Riverwood Capital.
Geopagos provides a tech backbone for large financial institutions, fintechs, retailers and software companies that want to launch or scale their payment acceptance business in the region.
With a presence in 15 countries in Latin America, Geopagos’ infrastructure processes more than 150 million transactions and more than $5 billion in volume annually. The client list includes the likes of Santander, BBVA, Itaú, Fiserv, Bac Credomatic, Niubiz, and Banco Estado de Chile.
The funds received will be used to expand the company’s presence in the region and for the development of new embedded payments products.
LatAm Tech Unicorn Clara Obtains Debt Financing for Up to $150M from Goldman Sachs
Crowdfund Insider, Posted August 9, 2022
Clara, the Latin American tech startup that offers an end-to-end corporate spend management solution for companies in the region, has announced an “approved” financing round from Goldman Sachs for “an initial $50 million with the option to upsize to $150 million.”
The facility will “allow Clara to continue the rapid growth of its corporate card, accounts payables, and short-term financing solutions for businesses in Latin America.” The company is currently working “with over 6,000 companies across Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia and aims to double this number by the end of the year.”
Clara CEO and co-founder Gerry Giacomán Colyer said:
“This financing will fuel our planned regional growth and will also allow us to successfully serve more companies, in more countries throughout the region, with our corporate card and spend management platform, as well as our innovative short-term liquidity solutions. This new credit line will allow us to more than double our coverage in Mexico, while focusing additional resources in our product and geographic expansion.”