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🗓 All FinTech news in December 2022

Pakistani SECP to limit the digital lending

Pakistan markets regulator issued new guidelines for digital lending in the country, cracking down on several sketchy practices that it said have become prevalent in the South Asian market. The non-banking finance firms will be required to share these key facts with consumers through audio or video and emails and text messages in both English and Urdu languages. Neighboring nation India also introduced strict rules surrounding digital lending in a move that has toppled the local fintech industry. (You can read the full-guidelines here {PDF}.)

FinTech startup Money View raised Series E round of $75M led by Apis Partners

Indian fintech Money View said on Monday it has raised $75 million in a new funding round, its second this year, despite the market slump as it looks to scale its core credit business and build more products in the South Asian market. The eight-year-old startup offers personalized credit products and financial management solutions to customers who otherwise don’t have a credit score and so can’t avail credit from banks and other financial institutions. Apis Partners led Money View Series E funding round, valuing the Bengaluru-headquartered startup at $900 million, up from $615 million in a $75 million Series D funding round in March. Money View plans to deploy the fresh funds to grow its credit business, broaden its product portfolio with services such as digital bank accounts, insurance, wealth management and hire more talent, it said.

Uniswap Labs’ COO MC Lader joins CCC Web3 Demo Day

Watch as we livestream more than 12 up-and-coming founders — spanning web3 infrastructure, DeFi, NFT and gaming — as they pitch to an audience (that’s where you come in), including influential execs, founders and investors. She served as the global head of the firm’s digital sustainability business, chief operating officer of its digital wealth business, and leader of strategic fintech investments and blockchain activities. The Cross Chain Coalition Web3 Demo Day, which takes place on January 11, 2023, is a joint production between the CCC and journalist. Tune in — for free — to the Cross Chain Coalition Web3 Demo Day on January 11, 2023.

FinTech startup Aviva raised pre-seed round of $2.2M led by Wollef Ventures

Unlike other fintechs that are concentrating on large, urban areas, Aviva is concentrating on smaller communities where the company can address the lack of trust in banks, predatory interest rates and help users who may not have the technical ability, like a smartphone, to purchase financial products directly. With that new capital, Aviva is going to invest in building out its credit and underwriting system, preparing to launch the company’s own credit card and expanding its kiosks. He met his co-founders David Hernandez and Amran Frey at Konfio, and, along with Israel Garcia, started Aviva, a Mexico-based fintech startup focused on bringing working capital to unserved communities. Aviva’s approach uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to match customers’ spoken word to the fields of a real-time credit application.

Financial Services startup KREDITO raised seed round of $6M

When we profiled Kredito last year, Sebastian Robles, co-founder and CEO, told journalist that business credit didn’t automatically come with an account, leaving business owners to use personal credit cards. The company launched to the public in 2021 and partners with financial institutions to help small businesses with their spend management, access digital unsecured loans, open a bank account and obtain a business credit card. Instead, Kredito takes on that risk by using a proprietary algorithm and alternative data to evaluate credit risk more inclusively than traditional banks, and in real time, Robles said. Robles intends to use the new capital to expand into new countries and consolidate its growth in Chile.

FinTech superapp Toss raised Series G  $0.4B led by Tonic PE

The new capital will help also Toss accelerate growth for the challenger bank Toss Bank— launched last year by Via Republica — and a Robinhood-like retail investment app, Toss Securities, which both look to turn a profit next year, according to Seo. Viva Republica, an operator of South Korean finance super app Toss, has finalized a $405 million Series G funding and it says it is now valued at 9.1 trillion won ( $7 billion), up from 8.5 trillion won in June 2021, when it raised $410 million in pre-Series F funding at a $7.4 billion (8.5 trillion won) valuation. Viva Republica with Toss Securities, Toss Payments and Toss Insurance is expected to post about 1 trillion won ($ 767 million) in revenue next year, according to the company. In fact, Viva Republica claims it has the largest market share with its fintech super app in the country in terms of monthly active users (MAUs), with 24 million registered users for Toss and 14 MAUs as of August this year.

Web3 startup raised $7.8M led by Dragonfly Capital Partners

Some marketplaces aren’t very social, like OpenSea or Magic Eden, and collectible platforms like Sorare and NBA Top Shot aren’t social media-focused, Sideman said. Revel’s marketplace allows users to create NFTs for their followers, friends or community and also allows people to own editions of the media they like and follow, Sideman said. The capital will be used to expand Revel’s web3 interoperability, generative and collaborative AI functionality, and social features, Sideman said. Instagram is known as a social media platform while Robinhood is known as an investing and trading platform.

Wischoff Ventures closed $20M fund backed by Peter Thiel

The above makes Nichole Wischoff something of an exception: Her solo venture capital firm Wischoff Ventures closed a second fund of $20 million, a sizable increase from her first $5 million fund. According to a summary of an analysis that Wischoff conducted, family offices now account for more than half of her second fund, compared to about a third of her first fund. Beyond fintech Wischoff’s existing portfolio includes companies such as Coast Pay, Loop, Nuvo, Trustlayer and Vesta – a heavy fintech leaning owing to Wischoff’s background. Backers of this new fund include Peter Thiel, Lee Fixel, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Chen, Bain Capital, Byers Capital, Cendana Capital, Crossover, Insight Partners and others.

FinTech startup Bling raised Seed round of €3.5M

Into this fray has stepped Bling, a startup founded by a 20-year-old, that offers a finance platform aimed specifically at families, which is designed so that parents can do financial planning for their children, from pocket money to first investments. It now raised a €3.5M Seed round of financing from Peak (based out of Amsterdam); La Famiglia
; angels such as Lea-Sophie Cramer, Verena Pausder, Felix Haas (co-founder IDnow), Jakob Schreyer (Co-Founder Orderbird), former ING-Diba CEO Ben Tellings, football world cup winner Andre Schürrle, family ‘influencer’ Carmen Kroll, Angel Invest and Prediction Capital
. Prior to Bling, Feigenwinter founded three other companies in the youth segment, including Switzerland’s largest student magazine, family merchandise and licensing house, as well as a consultancy agency specialized in young adult topics, leading him to be described as the ‘fintech wunderkind’ by German media. After that, family members and the community join Bling via links, thus contributing to savings pots and investment plans, managing household spending and prepping for critical financial events.

FinTech Poolit raised seed round $5.3M to turn investors in LPs

Earlier this year, Rice raised $5.3 million in seed funding for Poolit, a Miami-based fintech startup that aims to open up access to investing in private equity and VC funds. For Rice, who grew up in rural Alabama before attending Brown University, it would be a dream to one day open access to investing in VC and private equity funds to an even broader pool of people. Poolit’s includes a retired PWC audit partner and a JPMorgan executive that are meant to represent the voices of underlying investors and approve fees from third parties (even Poolit). Most firms, Rice said, charge investors before they even put their money into any funds, and then management and sometimes performance fees on top of that.

Blockchain startup Aztec Protocol raised Series B round of $100M

In the long term, the network wants to create a system using which people can transact and coordinate with the level of encryption needed for mainstream blockchain adoption, Andrews said. Aztec Network, a privacy layer for web3, has raised $100 million in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), the startup co-founders Zac Williamson and Joe Andrews exclusively told journalist. While there are several encrypted blockchains like Zcash and Iron Fish network, Aztec differentiates itself from them because it’s programmable, Williamson said. Encrypted blockchains provide transparency for the protocol but privacy for the users, so people aren’t required to show their identities when transacting, Williamson said.

PayPal and MetaMask will let you buy crypto easier

PayPal is primarily known as an online payment method. But the company wants to become an easy way to get started with cryptocurrencies. In that regard, ConsenSys, the company behind MetaMask, announced that it would add an integration in its crypto wallet so that users can buy cryptocurrencies using their PayPal account. MetaMask is one \[…\]

Coinbase to recover 4,000 unsupported ERC-20 tokens

Coinbase, the second-largest crypto exchange globally, has launched a new tool to help its customers recover more than 4,000 unsupported ERC-20 tokens sent to its ledger, the company exclusively told journalist. The ERC-20 self-service asset recovery tool allows customers to recover different kinds of tokens sent to a Coinbase address. In the past, if you sent assets not supported by Coinbase to a users’ address on the exchange, you’d get a message saying the assets were successfully delivered on-chain, but they didn’t actually go to the receiver’s wallets. Many tokens that are ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum mainnet that have pricing information on a decentralized exchange or other venue can be recovered, Robinson said.

Ventures Platform closes $46M fund for Africa

However, since the first close of this fund, Ventures Platform, which made a complete exit during Paystack’s sale to Stripe, has upped its game and now cuts Series A checks for its portfolio companies, some of which can directly access follow-on capital (Series B up) from the firm’s limited partners. First, Damilola Teidi, the former director of startup support at incubation hub CcHUB, heads the firm’s Platform and Networks team and Desigan Chinniah, an early engineer at eBay and well-known investor who has backed some African startups, joins the firm as a venture partner. Launch Africa, the VC firm that has backed over 100 startups, closes first fund at $36.3M Byld Ventures, a $15M fund, backs fintechs in Africa He launched an on-demand food delivery platform in the U.K. a decade ago, ran Starta, an advisory firm for upstarts and scale-ups on the continent, worked as a principal at Pan-African fund Novastar Ventures, and most recently, was the chief commercial officer (CCO) at QED-backed TeamApt.

Assure, a SPV provider, abandons its users after shutting down

Over the last decade or so, the once-clubby world of startup investing has been cracked open wide by a number of innovations, including special purpose vehicles (SPVs), which are essentially pop-up venture funds that come together quickly with monies from all kinds of accredited investors — from institutions to VCs to dentists — to nab \[…\]

Web3 Frontrunner raised $4.8M led by Susquehanna Growth Equity

Meanewhile, you have Polymarket, a global information markets platform for sports betting; BetDEX, a global decentralized sports betting exchange; Aver, a decentralized betting and prediction exchange; and Divvy, a decentralized betting protocol. Frontrunner is a zero gas fee, decentralized sports prediction market built on the blockchain, employing Injective, a protocol built on COSMOS, to support decentralized financial markets and order books, usinsing blockchains like Ethereum and Solana. And, thus is is that New York-based Frontrunner, a decentralized sports prediction market, has now raised a $4.75M funding round by Susquehanna Private Equity Investments LLP. The company launched its testnet last quarter, and plans to add the FIFA World Cup 2022 market, and extend the offering in its existing leagues NFL, NBA and Premier League, by the end of this year. cuts down valuation from $40B to $11B

I asked Guillaume Pousaz if’s new valuation was similar to a 409A valuation update. It has implications when it comes to taxes as employees usually pay taxes on the difference between the price of their options and the new share value as defined by the new 409A valuation. Fintech startup was in the news this morning because the Financial Times reported that the payment company had slashed its internal valuation to $11 billion. Unlike Klarna’s down round, the new valuation wasn’t determined by a VC firm willing to invest in the company.

Cryptocurrency startup Nillion raised $20M led by Distributed Global

In the wake of the crypto bear market and the FTX collapse, Yeoh believes this capital raise points to the industry’s interest in web3 infrastructure and real use cases. Nillion, a web3 startup aiming to build a non-blockchain decentralized network, closed an oversubscribed round of more than $20 million, the company exclusively told journalist. In the short term, Nillion plans on focusing on building out and supporting real use cases while launching its network alongside its initial suite of products. While Nillion’s model is not blockchain-based, it does have a decentralized component to it, meaning that it falls under the larger web3 banner by journalist’s reckoning.

Akros Technologies raised $2.3M from Z VC

Akros Technologies wants to disrupt the current asset management industry via its AI-driven asset management software platform that mines market data for stocks. The outfit aims to maximize the finance management performance of data-driven ETFs and offer a portfolio management solution via the PMaaS for Akros’s users to help them compete with global ETF institutions like Vanguard or JPMorgan. To build a slew of investment strategies that lower the cost of portfolio modeling and generate scores of investment portfolios, Akros applies a generative AI model based on a decision transformer, which predicts future actions through the sequencing model, Chung said, adding the company also employs GPT-3 natural language processing (NLP) to analyze unstructured language data. The latest funding, which brings Akros’s total amount raised to $6.1 million since its 2021 inception, will help Akros to scale its software platform and asset management products and ramp up its users, including local and global financial institutions and fintech companies.

WealthTech startup Ocho raised $2.5M

Nagpal isn’t worried about the seasonality of the 401(k) product because of the upcoming product roadmap, which includes the education product, investment flows into the retirement product like being able to invest in startups and ETFs, and even HSAs, often described as a 401(k) for healthcare. It would be a few years of self-employment, and building a venture firm later, before Nagpal returned to the moment as one of the early catalysts for his newest startup, Ocho. Perhaps the unique connection between Nagpal’s first company, to his firm, to his newest startup, could hint at what his approach to personal finance may be: diversify across multiple vehicles, redefine what a supercharged investment could look like, and keep on learning. To power that ambitious product spree, Ocho has raised $2.5 million from Nagpal’s own venture firm, Vibe Capital.

Starbucks rolls out its NFT program to the first beta testers

The new initiative, which includes coffee-themed NFTs that translate to real-world experiences, is an extension of Starbucks’ existing loyalty program, Starbucks Rewards, but leverages web3 technology like the polygon blockchain and NFTs. To enter Starbucks Odyssey after getting an invite, members will need to have an existing Starbucks Rewards account as this program is tied to the company’s larger loyalty initiative. Starbucks today is launching its blockchain-based loyalty program and NFT community, Starbucks Odyssey, to its first group of U.S. beta testers. As you earn more points and NFTs, you may then begin to gain access to real-world experiences, like special events hosted at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries or even a trip to the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica.

Cryptocurrency startup Metagood raised pre-seed round of $5M

Previous investors include a number of high-profile celebrities or executives like actor Owen Wilson, Virgin Unite chair Holly Branson, and Rotten Tomatoes co-founders Patrick Lee and Stephen Wang, as well as crypto investments from Dapper Labs co-founder Roham Gharegozlou, Axie Infinity co-founder Jeffrey Zirlin and The Sandbox co-founder Sebastien Borget, among others. Metagood believes that web3 can be a positive force in creating an economy of good karma, where people are rewarded for doing good things, Tai said. It also aims to give members the chance to promote and fund social good projects through its DAO, which raised 2,000 ETH in just one year, he added. Investors in the recent funding round include Animoca Brands, Morgan Creek Capital founder and CEO Mark Yusko, and Virgin Group investment manager Freddie Andrewes, to name a few.

Plaid joins layoffs by letting 350 of its employees go

Earlier this year, Stripe announced a new product called Financial Connections, which gives Stripe’s customers a way to connect directly to their customer’s bank accounts, to access financial data to speed up or run certain kinds of transactions. More recently, Plaid announced that it had named Meta veteran John Anderson to serve as its new head of payments as it began personally facilitating payments through its Transfer offering, in addition to facilitating its partners’ payments. In a practice that is becoming increasingly common, the company is also accelerating equity grants for employees who worked at the company for more than one year to the February 15, 2023 vesting date. Fintech decacorn Plaid is laying off 260 employees, or about 20% of its workforce, the company announced today.

Chipper Cash cuts its valuation almost in half, due to FTX's fall

Other African startups on the list include: OVEX, a South African digital asset exchange and OTC trading desk ($5 million from FTX at a $122 million valuation); Kenya-based payment automation and settlement company AZA Finance ($25 million promissory note/loan); African mobile money unicorn Wave ($10 million in equity); South African crypto exchange platform VALR ($4 million equity); Nigerian crypto exchange startup Bitnob ($500,000 from FTX at a $20 million valuation); Nestcoin, a Nigerian web3 platform whose assets got stuck on SBF’s bankrupt crypto exchange platform ($250,000 equity from FTX at a $30 million valuation), and Congolese-based web3 startup Jambo ($500,000 in tokens). According to FT, the four-year-old fintech was one of over 450 investments Sam Bankman-Fried wanted to offer as collateral in an attempt to raise money for the FTX group, which includes 10 holding companies such as Alameda Research, FTX Ventures, FTX Trading, Maclaurin Investments and Clifton Bay Investments (the arm used to invest in Chipper Cash.) FTX processed billions monthly in Africa before going bust It’s not clear if Chipper Cash will maintain this valuation in its next priced round seeing as its lead investor FTX is currently bankrupt. Sam Bankman-Fried’s now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX led the round and Chipper Cash’s valuation skyrocketed to $2 billion, becoming one of Africa’s five unicorns last year.

Future Africa + TLG Capital start $25M debt fund

Lagos-headquartered venture capital firm Future Africa is teaming up with TLG Capital, a London-based open-ended credit fund, to launch a $25 million venture debt fund earmarked for portfolio companies. Debt funding activity may have slowed down this year, but Future Africa founder and general partner Iyinoluwa Aboyeji told journalist that the cost and risk appetite of equity capital coupled with rising interest rates will push founders toward embracing debt to run startup operations. Future Africa intends to leverage the credit fund’s debt experience to build out this venture debt program. As Thacker’s quote reads, the structuring support from TLG has been offered to 13 of Future Africa’s portfolio companies so far (though the checks are yet to be written to these startups).

Chipper Cash joins layoffs wave, by letting go 400 of its employees

It expanded to the U.K. — allowing people to send money from the European nation to Chipper Cash’s African markets — and the U.S. — to facilitate peer-to-peer money movement from the U.S. to Nigeria and Uganda. CEO Ham Serunjogi founded Chipper Cash with Maijid Moujaled in 2018 to offer a no-fee peer-to-peer cross-border payment service in Africa via its app. The investment came barely six months after Chipper Cash closed its first Series C round of $100 million, led by SVB Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of SVB Financial Group. Chipper Cash, an African cross-border payments company valued at $2.2 billion last year, has laid off a portion of its workforce.

Robinhood carefully explores WealthTech solution for its users

To get the product up and running as soon as possible, Robinhood is inviting anyone with an existing Robinhood account or who is eligible to create a Robinhood account — meaning they are 18 and over and meet other standard criteria — to join the waitlist. (Waitlisting users is a move that Robinhood has used numerous times, including with its crypto product, to both build buzz and ensure a smoother experience for users as they are moved past the figurative velvet rope.) To head off similar criticism with this new product, the company is taking early steps to provide what Tenev described as in-app guidance, education and guardrails for users. Once onboarded, users will have the choice of investing in stocks and ETFs through either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, says Robinhood.

BaaS SBM Bank India announces round of fundraising at $200M valuation

Some venture investors have also shown appetite to invest in banks in recent months – Accel and Quona recently backed Shivalik Small Finance Bank, for instance – but a growing number of other banks including RBL and Federal Bank have employed a similar strategy as SBM and courted many startups in the past two years. The Indian arm of SBM Bank, one of the banks that has aggressively worked with fintech startups in the South Asian market, is engaging with investors to raise capital and pitching the vision of becoming one of the top banking-as-a-service providers in the country, according to a source familiar with the matter. The firm sees its deep partnerships with fintech startups such as Bengaluru-headquartered fintechs Razorpay and Slice as a key growth pillar, according to an investor presentation seen by journalist. The bank has actively courted fintech startups as customers, offering them co-branded cards and powering their neobanks, as it sought to differentiate itself from the large competitors that for years avoided engaging with the younger firms.

The Seoul Southern District Prosecutors Office denies Terra's warrant

A Seoul court rejected a request from prosecutors for warrants to detain eight people related to Terraform Labs, including the co-founder of Terraform Labs, Daniel Shin, early investors and former engineers. The Seoul Southern District Prosecutors Office told journalist that it is hard to understand that conclusion as the court knows the seriousness of the allegation and the fact that some of the suspects allegedly made money by selling Luna tokens before the collapse. South Korean prosecutors seek arrest warrants for Terraform Labs co-founder, investors and engineers Prosecutors also suspect Shin used customer data from his separate fintech startup called Chai to promote Luna, violating the Electric Financial Transaction Act.

Fiat-to-crypto is new onramp widget from Stripe

The company new fiat-to-crypto widget can be embedded in any crypto product so that users can enter their card information and acquire crypto that can be used in another web3 product. The payment company handles KYC, payments, fraud and compliance so that crypto companies can focus on crypto instead of competing with Stripe. When a user wants to buy crypto, Stripe’s widget asks you how much you want to spend in your fiat currency — the company adds fees on top of that. After the FTX debacle, products like Ramp, MoonPay and Stripe’s fiat-to-crypto widget are going to be essential.

FinTech startup KreditBee raised Series D round of $80M

Providing a complement to the longer process of applying to banks directly for loans, to facilitate lending on its platform, KreditBee works both with non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and banks registered with the Reserve Bank of India, including Krazybee Services, IIFL Finance, Incred Financial Services, Vivriti Capital, Northern Arc Capital, PayU Finance, Poonawalla Fincorp, Piramal Capital and Housing Finance and Cholamandalam Investment and Finance. The startup said it is planning to use the fresh funds to invest in its product development, specifically to expand from unsecured personal loans to secured loans, home loans and credit lines, and to start work on adjacent services such as insurance, credit score reports and merchant-side offers. The digital loans business in India has been the subject of a lot of controversy, not least for over-predatory and un-transparent practices, yet that existed alongside the rise of a handful of startups that hoping to apply tech to build products that are clearly understood and fill a need in the market for quick, short-term access to capital. KreditBee today offers instant personal loans of up to $3,700 (3 lakhs Indian rupees) as well as loans for salaried individuals and purchases via e-commerce platforms.

FinTech startup X1 Card raised $15M extension

It also is not only not a down or a flat round, the cash infusion boosts X1’s valuation by 50%, according to Deepak Rao, co-founder & CEO of X1. X1, a consumer fintech startup which recently launched an income-based credit card to the public, has raised an additional $15 million in funding. Also, notably, X1 latest financing comes just six months after the San Francisco-based company raised $25 million in a July Series B round. The startup’s long list of previous backers include FPV, Craft Ventures, Spark Capital, Harrison Metal, SV Angel, Abstract Ventures, the Chainsmokers, Global Founders Capital, actor Jared Leto, Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie, Jeremy Stoppelman, Affirm and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and Y Combinator Partner Ali Rowghani.

Compliance FinTech Shield raised Series B round of $20M led by Macquarie Capital

The company’s latest cash injection comes less than a year after Shield raised a $15 million Series A, and the company said that it has grown its sales by 280% year-on-year. And it against that backdrop that Tel Aviv– and New York–based communication compliance platform Shield wants to address the issues that most banks and investment firms face, including record management, electronic discovery, supervision and surveillance. In addition, Shield opened an R&D facility in Lisbon this year, Weitzman said, adding that the company chose Portugal because it is becoming a major European tech hub. In addition, the SEC is now probing private equity firms on their employees’ use of messaging apps for work purposes, including WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram, as many of these apps have functions that support messages that disappear automatically, representing potential violations of SEC rules.

FinTech Fleek raised Series A of $25M led by Polychain Capital

And while Fleek originally worked with Web 2.0 infrastructure providers like AWS and Cloudflare, it plans to launch its own Fleek Network in 2023 and provide web3 technologies like decentralization, while still achieving Web 2.0-like performance, Hines added. The startup will focus on building out in the web3 ecosystem first, but will later expand to Web 2.0 companies like video gaming platforms, streaming services or any platform with a lot of traffic, which is usually one of their biggest costs, Hines said. The fresh capital will be used to build out the Fleek Network and platform, while bringing on additional talent and growing its community, Hines said. The content delivery market (CDM) is dominated by a few big players like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Cloudflare, to name a few, Hines said.