12 min read

Fintech Highlights - 12/19/2023

Google Pay now includes Affirm. Robinhood enters the UK market. Envestnet to offload Yodlee? Here's what we've been watching this week 👇

Pinned to the Top

black samsung android smartphone displaying icons
Google Pay adds Affirm and Zip

Google Pay will add the “buy now, pay later” providers Affirm and Zip as payment options for some merchants next year, Affirm and Zip said on last week.

Google Pay users with Android phones will be able to select Affirm or Zip as a payment option when they check out using the apps or mobile websites for some merchants, according to the companies. Neither company specified which merchants would be included.

In a press release, Zip said Google Pay will show shoppers a banner that will tell them they can pay with Zip. Affirm’s press release did not provide similar details on how Google Pay will highlight Affirm as a payment option.

A Google spokesperson said the Affirm and Zip integrations will be Google Pay’s first for online BNPL purchases. Google Pay plans to add other BNPL payment options beyond Affirm and Zip in the future.

Becoming more visible to Google Pay users will drive additional revenue to Affirm and Zip, which are competing in an increasingly crowded BNPL field that includes Klarna and Block-owned Afterpay, as well as large tech companies such as Apple and PayPal. Affirm is also available through the Amazon Pay and Shop Pay digital wallets.

The BFD

white samsung android smartphone on brown wooden table
Robinhood marches in to the UK

Following a last minute retreat in 2020, Robinhood finally looks ready to bring its platform to UK users - the company’s first forray into a market outside of the US. 

UK residents can now sign up to the waiting list, with the full launch planned in early 2024. Users will be able to make use of Robinhood’s platform that allows commission-free trades with no FOREX fees or minimum deposit levels.

Why this is the BFD: Robinhood is a company not without its scandals. In 2021, the company was fined $70 million for misleading its customers, and then there was the high profile case of Alex Kearn’s suicide after amassing over $700,000 of credit on the platform.

 This came just after an unsuccessful first attempt to launch in the UK in 2019 that resulted in a sudden, unexplained exit in 2020. Just like this time around, a waiting list was opened, but the platform never actually materialised.

However, in the three years since, Robinhood has also launched their IPO, seen a huge post-pandemic surge, and now has over 21 million users.

What's next? There will inevitably be skepticism around whether this launch will actually happen, but all misdemeanours plaguing Robinhood during that time now seem to be in the past, and with strong customer numbers and shareholders to please, a UK launch feels more likely this time around.

Maybe this is a sign of bigger expansion plans for Robinhood, but they are also entering the market late, and other competitors such as Freetrade and Lightyear already have strong footholds.

Another BFD

green plant on brown round coins
Public is getting in on the high-yield savings game

Public, the investing startup,  announced recently that it would offer a zero-fee, no minimum or maximum balance cash account to anyone who signs up, with a generous 5.1% annual percentage yield.

The details: Public is offering account protection for up to $5 million, multiples higher than the standard FDIC bulwark (which became a major focus after the meltdown of Silicon Valley Bank in March).

Why it matters: SVB's sudden collapse — combined with the Federal Reserve's aggressive rate hiking campaign — touched off a veritable gold rush for retail consumers seeking shelter (and returns) in yield-bearing alternative instruments.

Yes, but: With the Fed's tightening campaign coming to an end, the central bank is widely expected to start cutting rates in 2024.

M&A

🤯 Envestnet (NYSE: ENV) is seeking to sell Yodlee, a Berwyn, Pa.-based data aggregator it acquired in 2015 for $590m, per Bloomberg. More here ->

Regent LP is in talks to buy Cheddar, the streaming financial news network that Altice USA acquired in 2019 for $200m, per CNBC. More here ->

Apex Fintech, a New York-based provider clearing and execution services that cancelled its $4.7b SPAC merger in 2021, has filed confidentially for an IPO. More here ->

Bain Capital sold a $448m stake in listed Indian lender Axis Bank via a block trade.  More here ->

Kudu Investment Management acquired a minority stake in Sage Advisory Services, an Austin, Texas-based wealth manager with more than $23b in assets under management and advisement.  More here ->

ABN Amro (Ams: ABN) agreed to buy BUX, an Amsterdam-based mobile brokerage firm that's raised over $100m in VC funding from backers like ABN Amro, Prosus, Tencent, HV Capital, Kreos Capital, and Velocity Capital Fintech Ventures. More here ->

TMX Group (TSX: X), owner of the Toronto Stock Exchange, paid US$848m to acquire an additional 78% stake in VettaFi, a New York-based indexing and analytics firm in which it already held a 21% position. It also will assume around $100m in VettaFi debt. More here ->

Swiss Re has successfully acquired Fathom, a prominent UK-based company, to bolster its capabilities in addressing water-related risks in the face of current and future climate scenarios. More here ->

Relation Insurance Services, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based portfolio company of Aquiline Capital Partners, acquired Illinois-focused Kane Insurance AgencyMore here ->

Webster Financial (NYSE: WBS) agreed to buy Ametros Financial, a Burlington, Mass.-based custodian and administrator of medical funds from insurance claim settlements, from Long Ridge Equity Partners. More here ->

💰 TikTok acquired Tokopedia, an Indonesian payments firm for $1.5 billionMore here ->

Also:

EasyKnock acquires home equity co-ownership firm Balance Homes
Residential sale-leaseback platform EasyKnock has acquired home equity investment platform Balance Homes
Center Secures $30M in Series C Funding to Expand Card-First Expense Technology Stack - Compsmag
Center, a software company based in Bellevue, Washington, has recently announced that it has raised $30 million in its Series C fundraising round. The
Kenyan insurtech Lami’s bid to acquire Bluewave collapses | TechCrunch
TechCrunch has exclusively learned that at the time Lami announced its acquisition of Bluewave, only a two-year “strategic partnership agreement” was in place.

Fintech

Comun, a New York-based neobank focused on Latino immigrants, raised $4.5m. The company offers a  'Spanish-first' banking experience, designed mainly for immigrants to the United States.  More here ->

Hyperplane, an SF-based developer of customer behavior models for banks, raised $6m.  The general idea here is to help banks use their first-party data to build personalized experiences by predicting user behavior.The company is already working with about a dozen banks in Brazil and has now set its sights on expanding to the U.S. as well. More here ->

Binkey, a Washington, D.C.-based fintech helping businesses accept FSA and HSA payments, raised $3.3m in seed funding.  More here ->

SupportPay, a payment tool for divorced parents and other complicated family situations, raised $3.1m in seed funding.  California-based SupportPay leads the parties through the whole post-divorce process. Parents agree on monthly payments for basic living costs, then they can add in items (including receipts) as they come up. More here ->

CurbWaste, a New York-based payments SaaS for the waste management market, raised $10m. CurbWaste is the first integrated software solution for waste and recycling haulers that combines CRM, task management, online ordering, invoicing, payments, asset management, route logistics, fleet tracking, and data reporting More here ->

Aria, a French B2B payments startup, raised €15m. Aria specializes in invoice finance and business-to-business (B2B) digital payments. More here ->

Meniga, a London-based digital bank, raised €15m in Series D funding. The company offers a range of products, including personal finance management, carbon insight services, notifications, predictive analytics, and personalized engagement technologies. More here ->

More funding announcements:

Exclusive: Saudi Fintech Startup Lendo Secures $28M Led by PIF’s Sanabil Investments, Eyes IPO
Saudi shariah-compliant debt crowdfunding marketplace, Lendo, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by Sanabil Investments.
SumUp taps €285M more in growth funding to weather the fintech storm | TechCrunch
SumUp -- the fintech that provides payments and related services to some 4 million small businesses in Europe, the Americas and Australia -- has picked up
British International Investment backs India’s Aye Finance in $37M funding | TechCrunch
Aye Finance, an Indian startup that offers its digital lending platform to small firms, has raised $37.18 million in a fresh funding round led by British Aye Finance, an Indian startup that offers its digital lending platform to small firms, has raised $37.18 million in a fresh funding round led by British International Investment.
Procurement software startup Pivot raises $21.6 million just a few months after its creation | TechCrunch
French startup Pivot is an interesting startup story as it is scaling at a rapid pace even though startup investments are down in Europe.
Japanese Revenue-Based Finance Startup Yoii Completes $5.5M Funding in Series A Round
Yoii Inc., providing the revenue-based financing (RBF) platform “Yoii Fuel” in Japan, announces the completion of a Series A round for approximately $5.5M. This funding round was led by Emellience Partners, with participation from Itochu Technology Ventures, FFG Venture Business Partners, and five other existing investors. This raises Yoii’s total funding to $9.5M. By introducing innovative new fundraising methods in Japan, that are neither debt nor equity, Yoii aims to support the growth of startups.
YC-backed fintech Bujeti raises $2M for its corporate cards and spend management platform | TechCrunch
Bujeti allows African businesses to issue cards at will to their employees, while maintaining the control of their spendings.

Investtech / Crypto

Nonco, a digital asset brokerage firm, raised $10m. The firm says it has already seen $6 billion in volume in the Latin American region since its debut in Apri'. More here ->

Dynamic Labs, a developer of non-custodial embeddable wallet tools, raised $16.5m in Series A funding. More here ->

Lolli, a New York-based bitcoin and cashback rewards startup, raised $8m in Series B funding.  Lolli is a rewards application that gives customers bitcoin and cash back rewards when they shop at their favorite stores.  More here ->

Andalusia Labs, an Abu Dhabi-based digital asset risk infrastructure startup, raised $48m in Series A funding at a reported valuation north of $1b.  The startup has three major digital asset technology solutions, a layer-2 blockchain called Karak, a crypto risk management marketplace called Subsea and a security-centric institutional platform called Watchtower. All aim to provide digital asset support to institutions, developers and consumers through their respective niches. More here ->

GFO-X, a London-based crypto derivatives exchange, raised $30m led by M&G Investments.  The company is the UK's first regulated and centrally cleared trading venue dedicated to digital asset derivatives authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. More here ->

Insuretech

BirdsEyeView, an insurtech startup backed by the European Space Agency, has successfully concluded a funding round, securing a significant seven-figure investment.  More here ->

The Toronto-based startup Terminal is on a mission to become the Plaid for telematics data in the commercial trucking industry, as it successfully closes a US$3.1-million ($4.2 million CAD) seed round. More here ->

Proptech

Stayntouch, a Bethesda, Md.-based provider of hotel property management systems, raised $48mMore here ->

Stairs Financial, a New York-based home mortgage marketplace, raised $3.5m.  The company helps first-time homebuyers identify incentives and support.  More here ->

Prevu, a New York-based online real estate platform, raised $6m in Series A funding. Prevu empowers homebuyers with real estate commission rebates and enables them to browse listings, schedule tours, and connect with a local agent. More here ->

From the Stash

Goldman Sachs looks to unlock value of gen AI - Goldman Sachs is looking to generative AI for developer assistance, including coding purposes, and for lead generation among client-facing operations, Chief Financial Officer Denis Coleman said during Goldman Sachs 2023 U.S. Financial Services Conference on Tuesday.  More here ->

Neobank Dave launches DaveGPT chatbot - Challenger bank Dave launched its generative AI-driven chatbot last week and is exploring multiple uses of the technology.   “DaveGPT is the next generation of our chatbot with a generative AI component that sits on top of our knowledge base, has access to our prior customer interactions and a bunch of customer-specific data” More here ->

Bank of England explores risks of AI, ML for 2024 - As AI in the banking industry continues to grow, financial institutions must be confident in the accuracy and security of the technology, according to the Bank of England’s Dec. 5 Financial Stability Report.  “There’s a whole Pandora’s box of risks that we all have to adhere to,” Jonathan Hall, head of digital, commercial and institutions." More here ->

Mastercard’s new shopping tool - Shopping Muse - Mastercard has launched an AI-powered shopping assistant that searches for clothing and accessories based on simple prompts like, “What should I wear to a summer wedding?” It will then make personalized recommendations. Not sure what you are looking for? That’s okay — Shopping Muse is able to recommend items using image recognition and can enable retailers to do the same. More here ->

More from the stash:

Adyen to act as global acquiring bank for Klarna
Buy now pay later giant Klarna has selected Adyen as a global acquiring partner, responsible for collecting card-based payments from customers and their banks, and then delivering them to retailers and merchants - both in-person and online.
Warren Buffett-Backed Nubank Collaborates With Circle and Talos to Increase Crypto Access in Brazil – Featured Bitcoin News
Warren Buffett-backed Nubank is collaborating with crypto firms Circle and Talos to increase crypto access and adoption in Brazil.
Mastercard, Brim Financial Team on Credit Card Infrastructure
Mastercard and credit card-as-a-service company Brim Financial formed a partnership to modernize credit card infrastructure in the United States.
Treasury Prime & Effectiv team to bring fraud detection to enterprises and banks
IBS Intelligence (IBSi) is the world’s only pure-play Financial Technology focused research, advisory, and fintech news analysis firm, with a 30-year track record and clients globally. We take pride in covering 400+ technology vendors globally – the largest by any analyst firm in this space.

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