The Fintech Fix 09/03/2022
Welcome to The Fintech Fix, where we cover the biggest stories of the financial week! Whether it’s the next groundbreaking advancement in Blockchain technology, a new partnership about to trigger an economic revolution or an upcoming startup generating a huge following.
Hot Topics – We kick off this week’s roundup with a trip to the payments industry, as Barclaycard Payments has now enabled its Precisionpay Go customers to add a Precisionpay Go virtual Visa card to Apple Pay, which customers can use seamlessly for business-related expenses. This is a huge step in modernising how employees can make ad-hoc business-related decisions and payments whilst on the move, whether that be when travelling, booking accommodation or buying supplies, as the service is available in Pound Sterling, Euro and US Dollar. It’s clearly been a demanded feature too, as research indicated that nearly 80% of corporate businesses in the UK now accept payments through digital wallets, reducing the necessity for more traditional cards and improving sustainability measures. Cathy Dargue, Client Director, UK & Ireland, Visa, said this would give “greater control and visibility, while meeting the demands of a hybrid workforce.”
Expanding to India always offers opportunities, especially if you’re considering entering their world largest $87bn remittances market. Sokin, the next generation payments provider, have accepted this challenge as they seek to disrupt the market by giving 18 million Indian migrants living outside their homeland access to 51% cheaper global money transfers. Customers living in India can download the Sokin app and be able to receive Indian Rupees from beneficiaries living overseas, send money transfers to other Sokin customers in India for free, bill payments and recharges, debit card controls, payments assist, nominee back-up, linked trading accounts and access various customer offers. The launch was very sentimentally explained by CEO, Vroon Modgill, who, as a first-generation Indian immigrant, like myself in fact, noted the difficulty his father had in sending money back to his homeland, and wanted to make a better way for economic migrants to do so in the future; a true inspiration.
Our FF Newsroom released an exclusive piece focusing on Africa’s Fintech Giants. Are 2021’s industry leaders, like M-Pesa and Flutterwave, still on top, or have startups like Opay, PiggyVest and Chipper Cash catapulted to superiority instead? We also discussed the relevancy of Nigeria’s CBDC, the eNaira, and how Twitter is used by payment providers such as Paga to revolutionise the way people transfer money. A very useful geographical deepdive this piece is, I must say!
And lastly, Natwest and their multi-award-winning Open Banking payments solution, Payit, have successfully made its first Variable Recurring Payment (VRP) in a live environment. James Hodgson, Head of Payit said that “this marks a pioneering milestone for the development of this functionality”, as VRPs are a novel Open Banking payment method. VRP introduces a mechanism to authorise future payments within pre-agreed limits, meaning the consumer can benefit from a level of payment automation whilst experiencing greater transparency and control over some more traditional payment methods. This is a great bit of innovation and a great milestone for furthering customer convenience.
Big Partnerships To Watch – TotallyMoney launched its new market-leading cashback credit card in a bid to help close the £6bn SME lending gap where 65% of new businesses are refused credit. This comes at an important time with inflation hitting a 30-year high, following the covid crisis which is estimated to have cost SMEs £127 billion. In partnering with Cashplus, the leading SME-focused digital challenger, CEO of TotallyMoney Alistair Douglas commented that the group is “one step closer to our goal of enabling fintech for everybody.” The new credit comes with:
Fleet insurance made for the birth of an exciting partnership between Aviva and Zego, the UK’s first insurtech unicorn, as the two announced a multi-year partnership to provide fleet policies to trades and haulage businesses. The partnership will pair Zego’s behavioural insight, data and telematics capabilities with Aviva’s experience and expertise in fleet underwriting and claims. Commenting on the partnership, Sten Saar, CEO at Zego, said, “It’s a privilege to be teaming up with Aviva, a company with so much heritage in the insurance industry. We are excited to bring our experience of insuring hundreds of fleets across tens of thousands of miles on a weekly basis. We believe this usage-based, data-led approach is the future of the insurance market and we are proud to be leading the way by partnering with Aviva to deliver this to trades and haulage customers.”
Employees have been demanding greater control over access to their salary for a while now, in a move for greater financial empowerment. With that in mind, Revolut gained attention in the media again after they announced their partnership with IRIS Software Group to give employees access to their salaries when they want and need. By partnering with Revolut, more than 1,200 companies that use IRIS Cascade can choose to give their employees use of Revolut’s ‘On Demand Pay’ tool to access part of their earned wages in advance, enabling them to stay on top of their personal finances. The partnership also provides the opportunity to Revolut Business customers to complete payroll at the push of a button using Staffology by IRIS, the online HR and payroll software that frees up admin staff to focus on more value-adding activities that can support business growth.
Our last partnership covered this week includes Mastercard, DBS Bank and Pine Labs, who have all agreed to work together in offering consumers a new payment option, ‘Mastercard Instalments with Pine Labs’ initially in Singapore, followed by Indonesia and Hong Kong SAR in Q2 of 2022. The new program allows DBS/POSB credit cardholders to pay via interest-free instalments at merchants with the ‘Pay Later’ identifier, simply by presenting their DBS/POSB cards at checkout. This gives individuals greater flexibility over their payment methods.
Funding – Just the two funding stories to report in this week’s roundup. First, we head to the app that is redefining how to invest, Shares, which allows users to communicate with family and friends in app about their investments and recommend portfolio’s and suggestions instead of having to use an external messaging service like Whatsapp or Reddit to do so. Shares raised $40 million in Series A funding led by Valar Ventures. Harjas Singh, CPO and Co Founder of Shares, noted that the company “are already in a position to compete with the biggest players in the market and are on our way to build a category leader.”
And with our last story in this week’s roundup, we head to Currencies Direct, a leading global provider of digital foreign exchange and international payment services to private clients and SMEs, who announced a £140 million strategic investment from Blackstone. The investment will be made in partnership with Currencies Direct’s management team, led by Keith Hatton, and Palamon and Corsair (“the Sponsors”), which will retain their majority co-controlling stake in the Company. Blackstone’s strategic investment will be used to accelerate the Company’s growth ambitions through further acquisitions.