ZEN.COM is launching on 32 European markets in partnership with Mastercard

Fintech company ZEN.COM is launching on 32 European markets in strategic partnership with Mastercard, to give consumers and businesses peace of mind in managing their money and shopping transactions. Apart from multi-currency current accounts combined with Mastercard payment cards, ZEN offers exclusive benefits, including attractive moneyback or 1-year extension of the manufacturer’s warranty for consumers, as well as lack of chargeback claims for entrepreneurs or payments instantly reaching their account for their clients’ online purchases. ZEN’s offer is available via the online transaction service and the mobile app in a transparent subscription model. Link here.

NOW, ON TO THE SUMMARY OF LAST WEEK'S DIGITAL BANKING SPACE

INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS:

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UNITED KINGDOM

UK challenger Starling Bank claims to have become the first among its peers to break even, posting £9 million in revenue and £800,000 in profit for October. Starling claims to have doubled its business accounts in the last year. The figure represents a landmark moment for a handful of neobanks in the UK market. The Bank of England says prospective banks must prepare for a “sizeable step-up” in capital requirements. The regulator operates a path of incremental rises for new banks. Link here.

EUROPE

Advanzia has used the Backbase system to launch three new mobile applications in France, Austria, and Spain. All three applications offer real-time transactions, balance overview, monthly billing statements, and biometric login. The bank says it will launch “a range” of additional functionalities and self-service features aimed at “facilitating better customer communications”. Advanzia CEO Roland Ludwig says the deal with Backbase means “transforming the entire enterprise platform into a state-of-the-art, holistic digital banking platform”. Link here.

Denmark-based digital bank Lunar has selected a cloud-based treasury and risk management solution from FIS. The Nordic bank chose the FIS private cloud-based Ambit Quantum, a front-to-back treasury and risk management solution. It will implement the solution on the FIS private cloud under a managed services contract. Lunar is also using the FIS Swift Service Bureau to connect its treasury and payment operations to banking partners. Link here.

Spanish online lending platform Prestalo has secured investment in an equity funding round to support its growth. The funding round was led by a Swedish investment fund Segovia Capital. Existing shareholders including family offices and business angels also participated in the latest round. Prestalo is raising funds in stages, with the first providing €500,000 ($595,082). The latest investment round brings the total amount raised by the company to date to €1.5m ($1.78m). Link here.

UNITED STATES

JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest American bank by assets, and Lloyds Banking Group plc, a London-based UK's largest retail bank, have expressed interest in buying Starling Bank Ltd, according to the British newspaper The Times. Starling Bank Ltd, a London-based fully licensed digital bank, provides customers with in-app access to a curated selection of third-party financial services, B2B banking, and payments services. Link here.

The fintech, which is also backed by PayPal founder Max Levchin’s HVF Labs, launched its platform back in April this year. Designed to help US consumers save, HMBradley piggybacks off FDIC-insured Hatch Bank. It offers a 3% annual percentage yield (APY) account. Aussie challenger Stash, which offered a generous 2.5% interest rate for savers, pulled the rate less than five months after launch. Link here.

The owner of Oportun, a San Francisco-based alternative lender, has applied for a banking charter. Oportun Financial Corporation, a public company based in Delaware, intends to create Oportun Bank. That’s if the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) approves its application. Its core Californian business Oportun issues personal and auto loans. It uses proprietary scoring and more than a decade of accumulated data. Link here.

Current, a leading U.S. challenger bank serving Americans overlooked by traditional banks, today announced it has raised $131 million in Series C funding. New investor Tiger Global Management led the round for the mobile bank, which has now raised over $180 million in total funding and has a valuation of $750 million. The new capital follows a year of exponential growth for Current, which has doubled its member base in less than six months to surpass two million members. Link here.

LATIN AMERICA

Galileo, the financial technology company that powers many of the world’s leading fintechs, has announced it is powering an important cross-border initiative for Ualá, the fintech that leads the revolution of personal finances in Latin America. Galileo has partnered with Ualá to enable the company’s expansion into Mexico. Founded by Buenos Aires-native and Harvard graduate Pierpaolo Barbieri, Ualá is improving financial inclusion in Latin America and bringing financial services into the 21st century. Link here.

ASIA

New challenger Klear emerges in India, the fintech appears to have only recently launched its website. It promises to create a “one stop” destination for users to manage their personal finances. “The traditional banking model was built to suit the needs of the bank, rather than put the customer first,” it writes. “We aim to make understanding your financial health approachable and easy.” Interested users can register on the website. No further details of products, services, partners or funding are available at the time of writing. Link here.

Uno, a prospective digital bank aiming to launch in the Philippines, has selected Mambu and its cloud-based banking platform. Uno operator DigiBankAsia says it has a “close alignment” with Mambu. It’s supported by DigiBankAsia, a Singapore-based entity, which is working with regulators to obtain a licence for the digital bank. DigiBankAsia says it wanted Mambu as a partner due to the two firms’ “close alignment”. The pair share “a focus on AI, composability, and cloud-native services”. Link here.

South Korea’s leading fintech startup Viva Republica is set to launch a mobile brokerage unit in the first half of next year as it received operational approval from the financial regulator. Named Toss Securities, the envisioned brokerage is the first local securities firm to be set up in 12 years. IBK Securities and KTB Investment & Securities were so far the last two that jumped into the market in 2008. Toss Securities aims to offer brokerage services for the local stocks first then extend services to overseas stocks and funds via online, the officials said. Link here.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS:

Daniel Piangerelli, co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of Malauzai, has left the firm just over two years since its acquisition by Finastra. Piangerelli helped found digital banking firm Malauzai in 2010. His firm worked in close partnership with Finastra, sharing more than 150 customers at one point. Malauzai’s digital solution frequently appeared in a bundle with Finastra’s Fusion Phoenix core banking solution. Finastra acquired Malauzai in June 2018. Link here.

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