Friend of the Financial Services Club and journalist with Financial News Anna Irrera has recently started producing a weekly roundup of FinTech news. She’s kindly agreed to let me republish this summary here on The Finanser, so here goes:
On fintech and pensions…
BBVA’s Outside Venture Fund Backs Retirement Startup (American Banker)
Propel Venture Partners, the venture capital firm backed by BBVA, led a $7 million investment round in Guideline, a fintech startup focused on 401(k)s. The San Francisco-based venture fund was joined by existing Guideline backers NEA and Lerer Hippeau Ventures in the round, the startup said in a press release Tuesday.
Disruption is coming to the 401(k) industry. Led by technology entrepreneurs and backed by venture capitalists, a crop of startups have launched online 401(k) plans in recent months with the aim of bringing robo-style automated investment services to small businesses, many of which offer their workers high-cost 401(k)s or no retirement savings plans at all.
Is the BoE rate cut good news for fintech?
How fintech could cash in on BoE rate cut (Financial News Brexit Blog)
With a prolonged period of rock-bottom interest rates on the horizon, savers are more likely to think outside the box for alternatives in their hunt for yield, some in the sector are saying. This could push more money into fintech platforms.
Square’s shares went up because it might actually make a profit (one day)…
Square surged the most in more than eight months after an earnings report suggested the mobile payments company is on the path to profitability as larger sellers processed more transactions.
Time for a blockchain update…
Swedish banking giant SEB has joined a $4 million Series A funding round for Danish blockchain payment service provider Coinify. The bank’s venture capital arm was joined in the round by Seed Capital Denmark, boosting Coinify, which claims to be the largest facilitator of blockchain payments in Europe, supporting more than 20 PSPs and reaching over 100,000 online businesses.
Distributed ledger technology firm Digital Asset Holdings (DAH) has hired eight new employees. At the top of the list is the firm’s addition of Carol Mathis as its new CFO. Mathis joins the company from RBS Corporate and Institutional Bank, where she worked from three years as chief operating officer.
Thomson Reuters joins R3 blockchain consortium (Financial News)
Thomson Reuters has joined the blockchain consortium run by New York-based startup R3, becoming the first information provider to join the more than 50-strong group of big banks and other finance-sector firms looking to develop distributed ledger technology.
The new digital currency ethereum is only about three years old, but after a contentious software upgrade, it already has split in two. After the “forking” of the cryptocurrency was carried out July 20 to undo a hack in June that led to the theft of $60 million worth of ethereum, some developers of the currency fought back by essentially ignoring the fork, not updating their software and maintaining the older version.
Prosper is working on a mega deal… Is investor interest creeping back up?
Online lender Prosper Marketplace Inc. is in advanced talks with a group of investment firms to sell them roughly $5 billion worth of loans over the next two years, people familiar with the matter said. If finalized, the deal would help resolve ongoing concerns that Prosper, like its peers including LendingClub Corp., has faced about how to fund lending after a difficult start to 2016.
On fintech VCs raising money and changing jobs…
Fintech investor joins Fidelity’s venture push (Financial News)
A former fintech investor at Accel Partners, who was involved in high-profile investments in WorldRemit and Funding Circle, has joined the London-based proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International as it seeks to strengthen its European business.
Anthemis Group, a NYC-based digital financial services venture capital firm, held the first close of the Anthemis Venture Fund I. Anchored by the European Investment Fund, as well as banking group UniCredit, the fund will focus on early stage venture investments, providing pre-seed, seed and series A financing to digitally native financial services startups across North America and Europe. (We warned you it was going to happen…)
Why it matters that TransferWise got access to the UK’s Faster Payments Service…
TransferWise gains access to UK payments infrastructure (BI Intelligence)
TransferWise, the international money transfer firm, has been granted direct access to the UK’s Faster Payments Service (FPS) via a partnership with private UK bank Raphaels Bank. FPS enables payments within the UK to be made instantly at any time. TransferWise is currently testing the integration, and a full launch is expected later this summer.
Big banks doing fintech things…
ING is to provide customers in Spain and the Netherlands with a ‘financial advisor in your pocket’ through the launch of a new mobile app dubbed My Money Coach. Billing the development of money management tools as an ‘innovation priority’, the Dutch bank says the new digital service is designed to help customers make smart savings, investment and retirement decisions.
Barclays is ditching passwords in favour of voice biometrics technology at its call centres, meaning that customers will be authenticated when they start talking. Customers who call Barclays have previously needed to share their passcodes or 16-digit debit card numbers in order to verify themselves.
Former Icap exec’s VC firm backs data startup (Financial News)
lluminate Financial Management, the fintech investment firm founded in 2014 by former Deutsche Bank and Icap executive Mark Beeston whose fund backers include Deutsche Börse and financial information provider Markit, has led a £3 million investment round in Privitar, the two companies announced in an August 3 statement.
Lastly, why fintech might gain faster adoption in Africa…
African fintech is not disrupting the existing financial service providers. This is because, in many areas of the continent, there is nothing to disrupt, with large swathes of the low and lower middle income segments unserved or under-served when it comes to formal financial services.