Check out the latest Wharton Fintech Episode with guest is Henrique Dubugras, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Brex, a financial operating system for startups and growing companies, with services including a charge card, cash management, and controls in a single account.
Originally from Brazil, Henrique built a payments company when he was only sixteen and in just three years grew it to process over $1.5 billion in processed transactions. Shortly thereafter, he co-founded Brex along with Pedro Franceschi.
I had a nice interview with Remy Astie from VAUBAN. Here's a small excerpt of the piece:
"Start with small tickets and diversify your portfolio. Follow the progress of these investments for a while and learn from other angels by joining syndicates in your preferred segment. And most importantly, network and connect with startups as much as possible in order to find the right deals to invest in."
Unpacking Neobanks for SMEs is an article series by Arival Bank analyzing the SME neobanking landscape from the lens of the user experience journey. The user journey of a neobank’s customer starts with the onboarding process. It encompasses the whole account opening journey, starting from the moment we lay eyes on the website, to registering for an account at a neobank, filling out details for KYC/KYB and finally the account review. Link here.
NOW, ON TO THE SUMMARY OF LAST WEEK'S DIGITAL BANKING SPACE
Digital banking is heating up in the Middle East with now more than 20 neobanks across the region, according to new data from Dutch fintech consultancy group Fincog. Most of these neobanks were launched by incumbents as standalone digital banks and provide a full range of financial products that aim to act as full replacements for traditional banking offerings. Examples include ila Bank by ABC Bank and meem by Gulf International Bank, both in Bahrain, as well as Pepper by Leumi bank in Israel. Link here.
Angel Investors Syndicate. Join now! Link here.
Here’s why you should become an Angel Investor. Link here.
Revolut unveils Pockets, Starling and iZettle team up for SME payments, and TransferWise to create 750 jobs globally.
Revolut announced the launch of Pockets, a new feature which enables all customers to easily stay on top of their spending and makes organizing rent, bills and subscriptions effortless. By setting money aside into Pockets, customers’ money is free for all the other exciting things they like to buy, safe in the knowledge they’re not accidentally spending their rent. Link here.
As the first payment service provider to join Starling, the introduction of iZettle gives SMEs detailed information about sales, fees, tips and taxes. For Starling Business Toolkit customers there are also accounting features available. iZettle’s arrival in the Marketplace aligns with Starling’s strategy around deeper integrations and paid-for features. Link here.
International payments group TransferWise has laid out plans to bolster its employee numbers over the next six months. The $5bn fintech plans to create 750 roles globally, with 175 of the roles being based in London. TransferWise says the new positions are as a result of the firm’s record growth in 2020, with the fintech seeing its revenue growing 70 per cent in the last financial year to £302.6m. Currently, TransferWise has 2,200 employees across 14 offices, serving 9m customers worldwide. Link here.
GoHenry, which provides a pre-paid debit card and corresponding app to minors as young as 6 and no older than 18 that in turn can be controlled and topped up by parents, has raised $40 million. Led by Edison Partners, the round also had participation from Gaia Capital Partners, Citi Ventures (the strategic investment arm of Citi Bank), and Muse Capital. Link here.
Modularbank nabs €4 million, Revolut Business comes to PrestaShop merchants, and Backbase Launches BaaS.
Modularbank, the next-generation core banking platform announced its €4 million round of late seed funding led by Karma Ventures and BlackFin Capital Partners, with additional support from Plug and Play Ventures, Siena Capital and angel investor Ott Kaukver (ex-CTO of Twilio and Skype). The backing from this powerful combination of investors paves the way for UK, European and wider global expansion, and will enable the company to bolster its engineering and commercial teams, and further invest in its technology platform. Link here.
PrestaShop, the leading e-commerce platform in Europe and Latin America, and Revolut, the financial superapp with over 13 million customers worldwide, announce a strategic partnership which will enable PrestaShop merchants to leverage Revolut Business, allowing sellers and their customers to benefit from seamless payments when shopping online. For PrestaShop this is the first partnership offering merchant business accounts. The payment solution will first be available to PrestaShop sellers in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. Link here.
Engagement Banking technology provider Backbase announced the launch of its next-generation platform as well as the release of its enhanced Backbase-as-a-Service (BaaS) offering. The announcement comes as Backbase hosts its annual event—Backbase Connect—which unites thousands of digital banking leaders virtually to discuss the future of banking and experience Backbase’s newest innovations. Link here.
Dutch challenger bank bunq saw its customer deposits increased by nearly 50 per cent in the first six months of the year. Deposits in bunq’s accounts topped €633m, up by €200m from the start of the year. As a result of the jump in customer funds, bunq is now looking to open an office in Rotterdam in the near future, a step in the opposite direction to most other companies which are shutting-up shop left, right and center. Link here.
Many Dutch people want to know what they spend and how they can save. To help them, Nationale-Nederlanden introduces NOVA, the app that balances money affairs. In addition to understanding the spending pattern and spending space, the app automatically gives users a unique overview of all types of insurance they have, including the provider and the monthly cost of the insurances. Link here.
Crypto payments firm BitPay has filed to become a national bank in the U.S. According to a Dec. 8 legal notice published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, BitPay has applied to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to organize a federally regulated bank, dubbed the BitPay National Trust Bank, headquartered in Georgia. Link here.
Unit has built a platform that lets third parties integrate banking services like payment cards, checking accounts, cash advances and money transfers into their own businesses by way of an API. And after quietly building the service (and a customer base) in stealth, the company today is announcing that it is open for business with $18.6 million in funding alongside that to continue growing — by adding in more features, hiring more people, and securing new users. Link here.
With nearly half a million customers across Mexico and a network of 30,000 retail locations where representatives can take deposits, the challenger bank albo is already on its way to becoming a dominant player in Mexico’s emerging fintech industry. And the company has recently raised another $45 million to consolidate its position. Link here.
Argentina’s Ualá, the mobile payments company backed by heavyweight investors including George Soros, Steve Cohen and Tencent Holdings Ltd, is expanding into merchant services in Argentina. The company is launching Thursday a variety of services that cater for the first time to small businesses, said Ualá’s founder and chief executive officer, Pierpaolo Barbieri. Ualá will start offering mobile point-of-sales (mPOS) units, looking to deploy 100,000 by the end of 2021, as well as allowing small companies to charge via payment links. Link here.
Chinese fintech giant Ant Group and a consortium including Grab and Singapore Telecommunications were among the four groups to receive digital banking licenses from Singapore's central bank, gaining a path to offering a variety of services as well as a boost to their fintech credentials. The other winners announced on Friday by the Monetary Authority of Singapore are the country's e-commerce and gaming group Sea and a consortium that includes China's Greenland Financial Holdings. Link here.
This ends my weekly digest. Let me know if there are any questions or news/insights worth mentioning in next week's digest. Until the next!