Decentro has partnered with scores of industry players including Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, Visa, RuPay, Quickwork, Equifax, Aadhaar and National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) to offer solutions for prepaid payment instruments, no-code workflows, conversational banking via WhatsApp and enable document verification and KYC process. Indian angel investors including CRED founder Kunal Shah, Groww co-founder and CEO Lalit Keshre, Gupshup co-founder and CEO Beerud Sheth and former CBO of BharatPe Pratekk Agarwaal also participated in the funding round. India Decentro, the Y Combinator-backed startup that helps companies enter the fintech market by deploying its APIs, has raised $4.7 million in a Series A round. The Bengaluru-based startup offers banking and payments APIs that allow development of fintech products such as banking, payment cards, neobanking and collections and payout services in a short period of time.
The mechanism incentivizes carbon emitters to be less polluting or they’d need to buy from those with excess carbon credits to offset their carbon footprint. The intended collaboration centers around IDX emission trading scheme that is slated to launch in 2025, and MVGX’s job is to help IDX build a carbon registry and exchange with blockchain as the infrastructure layer. Aside from the potential partnership with Indonesia, MVGX has also worked with carbon trading initiatives in China, including the Guizhou Green Finance and Emissions Exchange, and is in advanced conversations with relevant authorities in Malaysia and Taiwan to collaborate on infrastructure projects, according to Bai. Using blockchain in carbon trading solves what’s called the double-counting problem where two entities or an entity and a country lay claim to the same climate action, Bo Bai, executive chairman and co-founder of MVGX, tells journalist.
In a post on the Shopify Engineering blog, Dion Almaer, VP of engineering at Shopify, said that the purchase of Remix will benefit both Shopify developers and merchants by bringing improvements to Hydrogen. Not coincidentally, Shopify originally used React Router to architect Hydrogen, the company’s frontend web development framework for building custom Shopify storefronts Remix, a startup developing an open source web framework similar to Next.js, has been acquired by Shopify, the companies announced in a joint statement today. Compatible with public cloud environments including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Netlify, Vercel and Cloudflare Workers, one of Remix’s key features is prefetching — the framework can prefetch elements of a webpage in parallel, including buttons and forms, before a user clicks on a link to minimize page loading.
Some games, like Delysium and Ember Sword, were initially developed for the layer-2 blockchain Polygon but switched to Immutable X, the company’s NFT platform and layer-2 scaling solution for the Ethereum blockchain. Today, Immutable X launched GameStop’s NFT marketplace out of beta, which will provide GameStop players and customers across the U.S. access to NFTs tied to games on its layer-2 chain. Earlier this year, Immutable, a web3 gaming firm with its own layer-2 chain, Immutable X, launched a whopping $500 million fund to boost gaming on its platform. This announcement follows GameStop and Immutable X’s partnership and $100 million joint grant fund from February.
One such platform is Lagos-based SmallSmall which gives renters access to monthly rent payments and offers landlords a way to vet tenants, increase their income and manage properties. BuySmallSmall identifies newly built properties by reputable developers that meet the company’s market demand: studio apartments, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments — and packages them as investment opportunities for young professionals looking to invest in real estate. SmallSmall also lets landlords access quality tenants and curb defaults by receiving monthly payments where they receive extra margins of about 10-15%, Balogun added. For tenants, it’s the comfort of managing their finances better by paying monthly rent and the respite that comes with not transacting with housing agents that SmallSmall provides.
Money Fellows’ premise is the digitization of money circles or what commonly known as the Rotating Savings and Credit Association (ROSCAs), a system where a group of people agree to contribute money for a specific period, thereby saving and borrowing together. ROSCAs, which Money Fellows CEO Ahmed Wadi says is a $700 billion opportunity globally, are quite popular in over 90 emerging and developing markets with several names: Esusu or ajo in Nigeria, Kameti or chit fund in India and Gameya in Egypt. Wadi said Money Fellows’ plan with the funding is to accelerate growth by diversifying its portfolio of services and expanding its product offerings across the B2C & B2B segments, as well as its geographical expansion across Africa and Asia. But with Money Fellows, people have a broader pool of participants — each passing through a credit assessment process — around Egypt so that they can form and join ROSCA groups through its app.
Telegram announced today that will it hold an auction for usernames — for both individual accounts and channels — through a marketplace built on top of the TON blockchain. In 2018, the company hatched up plans for Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain project and an initial coin offering (ICO). After Telegram stopped working on TON, various independent groups continued the development with Toncoin getting backing from Durov and winning the rights to ton.org website in 2021. Users will be able to log into the site using Telegram, the tonkeeper app, or their TON-based wallets.
The daughter of divorced parents herself, Jacklyn Rome founded Onward in 2020 with the aim of helping divorced and separated parents more easily manage their shared expenses. Since that time, Onward has launched a number of new features, including the ability to pay your co-parent back through the platform, partial payments, and the ability to track other expenses not related to children, such as shared mortgages or telephone bills. Rome, who previously led new product launches at Uber and Blue Apron, said she built the app with the intent of not only alleviating headaches for the parents but also helping reduce family tension overall. By partnering with influencers who are co-parents, Rome said, the startup has boosted awareness of its offering.
In a blog post announcing the new service from Amit Zavery, GM and VP of engineering and platform and James Tromans, director of cloud web3, the two wrote that blockchain nodes have to work hard, constantly exchanging the most recent blockchain data, so that all nodes stay in sync. Google Cloud hopes to make it easier by offering a managed service to handle node creation, while providing a secure development environment in a fully managed product. For starters, the company will support Ethereum blockchain, so developers deploying nodes on Ethereum could do it themselves or pay Google to do much of that work for them. Accordingly, Blockchain Node Engine is focused towards [multiple] developer use cases: smart contract development, reading from and writing to the blockchain, etc.
Digital payments are gaining momentum in Latin America, and startups like Mexico-based mattilda are putting their spin on streamlining financial and administrative processes for private schools while also offering credit backed by future school fees. Here’s where mattilda comes in: the company provides a SaaS tool that enables parents to get a personalized payment link via email or WhatsApp and can then make tuition payments in a number of ways, including debit cards, credit cards, bank transfers and flexible credit lines, in seconds. So far, mattilda is working with 17 schools accounting for some 9,000 students, which Agote said will become 24 schools and close to 14,000 students as of November 1. In Latin America, many of the payments are month to month, and if payment is not made, the school is the one to spend time contacting parents to collect that payment.
Redstone and EnjoyVenture have combined forces to create Human Impact Capital (HIC), Germany first dedicated scial impact VC fund. I spoke with the fund’s manager, Lucas Paul, to find out what drove the creation of the fund and its investment thesis. The fund aims to invest in digital business models that tackle society’s biggest challenges, typically investing between €500,000 and €1.5 million. Among others, the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, Germany’s leading bank for the social sector, committed substantially to HIC, fund reps told me.
Singapore may soon require retail investors to take a test and not use credit card payments and other forms of borrowing for trading cryptocurrencies, the central bank proposed on Wednesday in a series of stringent measures as the island nation looks to make citizens aware of the risks surrounding volatile assets. The central bank acknowledged [PDF] that a number of industry players are supportive of some form of assessment on the retail customer’s knowledge of risks, but said they should also disclose whenever they have a financial interest in the tokens they offer to customers. The central bank also proposed that crypto firms licensed under the nation’s Payments Services Act should not be allowed to lend to retail investors in a move that could topple many firms’ businesses. Once a preferred global crypto hub for its policies, Singapore authorities have toughen their views of digital assets following the collapse of a series of firms including Terraform Labs’ stablecoin UST and native token LUNA, and hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.
The program will bring four cohorts per year, each consisting of about eight to 12 teams, or about 30 to 50 founders, to New York City from around the world for eight weeks at a time to focus on building on the Bitcoin-centric Lightning Network and Taro protocol, Kelly Brewster, CEO of Wolf, said to journalist. Asset management firm Stone Ridge has launched a startup accelerator, In Wolf Clothing (Wolf), that will be dedicated to growing Bitcoin-focused applications, the team exclusively told journalist. Separately, Taro is a protocol that launched in April of this year to help issue digital assets on Bitcoin’s blockchain that can then be transferred to Lightning Network instantly in low-fee transactions. NYDIG, a subsidiary of Stone Ridge, is also supporting the accelerator, alongside mentorship and investments from Bitcoin-focused venture capital firms and operating companies.
Crowded, a free banking app targeting member-based nonprofit organizations, like fraternities, sororities and booster clubs, closed on $6 million to continue developing its suite of banking and member management tools. Crowded co-founder and CEO Daniel Grunstein told journalist that the company designed its mobile app for the specific needs of club treasurers so they can perform duties, for example, requesting and collecting member dues and tax reporting, digitally versus physically sending out notices to pay each month. Organizations often open banking accounts at nearby institutions, while some groups, like fraternities, sororities and on-campus clubs, are required to bank through their student activities, but without many of the features of modern banking. One of the ways Grunstein says his company differs is that rather than charge subscription fees, Crowded collects interchange fees from merchants when those debit cards are used to make purchases.
It a tough market for venture capital, but Square Peg Capital is plowing ahead with its focus on Australia (where it is based), Southeast Asia and Israel. Square Peg has a growing footprint in Southeast Asia, where partners Tushar Roy and Piruze Sabuncu are based. Part of Square Peg’s new capital will be used for its core venture fund, which invests in seed to Series B startups. Some of Square Peg’s investments so far from Southeast Asian include LottieFiles, Doctor Anywhere and FinAccel.
While paying with Venmo on Amazon, customers can use Venmo balance, linked bank account, or eligible debit card to complete the transaction. The company said this option will be available to select customers starting today and will roll out to all U.S-based users on the Amazon site and mobile app by Black Friday next month. Users can also choose Venmo to be their default payment method for Amazon purchases on that screen. Amazon announced that it will now allow customers to make payments through Venmo on its platform.
With new App Store rules, Apple said that marketers don’t need to use in-app purchases to manage and purchase campaigns across different media types like TV, apps, and outdoors. However, they will have to use Apple’s in-app purchase system to buy boosts for social media posts— this would only apply to apps offering in-app tools for promoting posts. Until now, they might be used NFTs as a way to thwart Apple’s App Store fees and simultaneously as a token or key to unlock features for users — but that won’t be allowed anymore. Over the last few years, Apple has had to reduce its App Store fees and allow third-party payment systems for in-app purchases in many regions across the world.
Bilt Rewards, which works with some of the country largest multifamily owners and operators to create loyalty programs and a co-branded credit card for property renters, entered unicorn status after securing $150 million in a growth round led by Left Lane Capital. Members can also calculate how an improvement in credit rating will affect the mortgage interest rate they may qualify for, and should they need or want it, enroll in Bilt’s free rent reporting to help boost their credit history with every on-time rent payment. However, there was a lot of inbound interest in the company, and bringing on institutional investors like Left Lane Capital positioned Bilt to think more long-term, including a possible initial public offering or other future opportunities, for example, acquisitions. Today’s investment raises that to $1.5 billion and gives the company about $213 million in total funding since the company launched in June 2021 out of Kairos, the startup studio led by Bilt founder and CEO Ankur Jain.
India antitrust watchdog has hit Google with $113 million fine for abusing the dominant position of its Google Play Store and ordered the firm to allow app developers to use third-party payments processing service for in-app purchases or for purchasing apps, the second such penalty on the Android-maker in just as many weeks in its largest market by users. The antitrust watchdog has directed Google to introduce a series of changes to its Play Store policies, which as with allowing developers to use third-party billing system, requires compliance within three months: Google shall not impose any anti-steering provisions on app developers and shall not restrict them from communicating with their users to promote their apps and offerings, in any manner. The investigation also concluded that: Mandatory imposition of GPBS [Google Play Billing System] disturbs innovation incentives and the ability of both the payment processors as well as app developers to undertake technical development and innovate and thus, tantamount to limiting technical development in the market for in-app payment processing services. Google shall not impose any condition (including price related condition) on app developers, which is unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory or disproportionate to the services provided to the app developers.
Sequoia India is in advanced stages of deliberations to invest over $50 million in K12 Techno Services, a startup that offers a range of services to education institutions and also runs its own chain of schools, doubling down on a firm that it first backed over a decade ago, two sources familiar with the matter told journalist. K12 Techno Services — which has raised over $75 million in previous rounds, according to Tracxn — also engaged with TPG and Accel in recent weeks but has decided to move ahead with existing backer Sequoia India, one of the sources said. The deal represents Sequoia’s aggressive and multi-faceted approach to tackling the edtech market in India, where over 300 million students go to school and participate in competitive college entrance exams. K12 Techno Services runs Orchids – The International School chain in over two dozen cities in India.
The payments giant today announced that it adding passkeys as a log in method for PayPal accounts, allowing iPhone, iPad and Mac users on PayPal.com to sign in without using a password. Users with devices that don’t support passkeys can still tap an iPhone to log in with a PayPal passkey, but they’ll have to scan a QR code that appears after they enter their username. Passkeys are a relatively new industry standard created by the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium — in partnership with Apple, Google and Microsoft — that are designed to replace passwords with bits of data called cryptographic key pairs. The pairs consist of a public key stored in the cloud and a private key stored locally on users’ devices, separated to ensure that a compromised server won’t give an attacker access to account credentials.
Launched today, Madica is a pan-African investment program that aims to offer funding, technology support and mentorship to underrepresented founders across the continent. And while venture capital and founder support programs within the continent are growing, a lot still remains to be done to meet the financing, technology and social capital needs of especially marginalized groups, like women founders. It is these gaps that continue to inspire the development of new programs like Madica by U.S.-based venture capital firm Flourish Ventures, which hopes to lessen the burdens of building startups. Venture studio Adanian Labs fuels startup growth in Africa Seedstars Africa Ventures appoints new partner to back more founders in the continent
Online tools have changed the game for individuals, but interestingly the same doesn’t apply to groups that want to, say, book a multiday trip or retreat that might involve several hotels, activities and food, which can involve multiple people, multiple locations, potentially hundreds of suppliers (not just hotels and airlines, but restaurants, excursion operators, insurance providers and much more), and the need for flexible paying options — different people paying different amounts, payments in installments and lump sum payments that in turn need to be itemized across different suppliers. WeTravel’s platform covers two main parts of that process: helping those putting the group travel together to organize suppliers and plan everything; and then handling the different aspects of the payment process, whether that involves setting up payments in installments, or working with various currencies and payment methods, and paying out to different suppliers under their individual terms. COVID put paid to the idea that a startup needs to have its team in one place, and today, the majority of the company’s business team and customers are in the U.S., and it’s incorporated there, while the three founders, as well as WeTravel’s product and engineering teams, are all in Amsterdam. Today, a startup called WeTravel — which builds tech for the specific needs of group travel — has raised $27 million, money that it will be using to expand its business on the heels of strong growth in the last year.
Reliance Industries, run by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, said in a statement that it will be incubating, acquiring and inking joint ventures in the new unit, which is called Jio Financial Services, to broaden its offerings to add insurance, payments, digital broking and asset management. A fintech executive, who requested anonymity speaking about an adjacent business, said Reliance could hypothetically use its brand name to raise capital at some of the lowest cost in the country and then disburse loans and make good profits. Reliance Industries, which clocks a consolidated revenue of over $100 billion, operates the nation largest telecom network with over 420 million subscribers and runs the country’s largest retail chain with over 16,000 stores. Every Reliance shareholder will get one share of the new firm for each share they held in the parent firm, the company said.
In a world where advice for founders comes from all angles and seemingly everyone is a an expert, Operator Collective thinks the connections it can foster between its portfolio companies and operator network can cut through the noise and keep its relevance as more firms look to offer a similar value-add. She said that unlike other firms that maybe have one retired operator who was a CMO or one person just focused on hiring, Operator Collective’s network has multiple professionals from each area with a focus on underrepresented operators. Operator Collective founder and CEO Mallun Yen said while there are a few changes for Fund II, the goal and structure are largely the same: Creating a community where startups and operators can help each other. When Operator Collective started in 2018, its idea of cultivating a community of operators as LPs to serve as a resource to its portfolio companies was unique.
Ismail was a product lead at both of those companies, while Anazodo, also previously a product lead for Affirm, was product lead for Google Pay, leading the launch of its payment partnership with Shopify and scaling its launch to international markets and to over 300,000 merchants. The company, which exhibited as part of the Battlefield 200 at TC Disrupt, announced today $7 million in seed funding from investors, including Patron, QED Investors, SciFi VC, SV Angel and a group of over 40 angel investors from companies like Google, Affirm, AfterPay, Honey, Duolingo, Discord, Earnest and Fundera. The company developed a free Chrome extension for a digital wallet that holds all of your cards — it supports over 3,000 — and then calculates the rewards and benefits for each purchase and recommends the right card, which could be a store card and then helps you apply for it. Kudos makes money from affiliate fees when consumers finish applications and also gets some from merchants when there are cash-back rewards, sharing those with consumers, Anazodo said.
As N26 and Bitpanda have likely agreed to share revenue coming from N26 Crypto, the new feature should contribute to the company’s bottom line. Similarly, when you cash out with N26 Crypto, you will get EUR in your main N26 account — no need to transfer money back to your bank account. Challenger bank N26 is launching a new trading feature in its app — N26 Crypto. N26 is going to slowly roll out N26 Crypto across Europe.
Banyan, a platform for product purchase data that allows customers such as banks, fintechs, hotels and merchants to automate expense management and more, today announced that it raised $43 million in a Series A funding round — $28 million in equity and $15 million in debt — led by Fin Capital with participation from M13, FIS Impact Ventures and TTV Capital.
General Atlantic is in talks to invest about $50 million in Acko, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch, doubling down on its bet on the Indian insurtech at a time when most investors are treading investment opportunities carefully. The New York-headquartered growth equity investor is positioning to lead a new financing round of \[…\]
Separately, the web3-focused phone will allow content creators and platforms to enable digital ownership rights to both organizations and users – opposed to handing over the 30% tax Apple and Google have for in app sales. If there’s a web3 distribution channel for mobile crypto developers, it can open up opportunities for them to build experiences outside of the laptop-centric digital asset ecosystem, Yakovenko said. So neither Google nor Apple want to really take on web3 because true digital asset ownership disrupts their business models, Yakovenko said. The idea of true digital ownership means the digital items have to be treated like physical ones, and this isn’t something Apple or Google are built around, Yakovenko said.
As consumers turn to content creators to influence their online shopping habits, Klarna, the buy now, pay later platform, today launched a new Klarna Creator app for retailers and influencers to collaborate on brand campaigns and to track earnings, performance and sales. So, as Gen Z shoppers turn to video-based platforms like TikTok and Instagram, consumers can also go to Klarna for video content that’s specifically tailored for shopping and discovering products by well-known brands. With today’s announcement, the Sweden-based company hopes to move beyond being just a payment platform but a place for consumers to search and discover, for influencers to create content and for retailers to promote their products. These include shoppable video content, a new search and discovery tool, as well as a donations feature and an upgraded CO2e tracker.
Business owners can now connect their Instagram business account with Bumpa, receive Instagram DMs directly on their Bumpa app & sell products. Bumpa’s integration with Meta allows its merchants to connect Instagram and Facebook accounts to their Bumpa app, receive DMs from their customers and respond via the Bumpa app. Several tech observers have lauded the Meta integration, which, according to Umechukwu, will carry Bumpa to its next phase: bringing various digital solutions essential to the daily operations of small businesses and integrating them under the social commerce and retail automation platform. In the latest development, Bumpa, one of them which says it is building the infrastructure to power online commerce and enable African small business owners to start, manage and grow their businesses from their mobile devices, has raised a $4 million seed round.
A new company is taking a leaf out of Stripe API playbook with a platform that makes it easy for any company to create clear API documentation, while also allowing non-technical team members to contribute to the process. It also offers an AI assistant that uses natural language processing (NLP) to improve the documentation, including automatically describing the different API attributes, which are basically the parts of the API specification that developers need to request, send and delete data, and so on. With Theneo, developers connect their GitHub repository or upload their API collection, and Theneo then analyzes everything and delivers the required API documentation. Theneo co-founder and CEO Ana Robakidze said that she’d worked on hundreds of APIs in a previous role heading up an engineering team, concluding that quality API documentation is often lacking.
Visa’s network is now connected to Thunes’ B2B platform, which means Visa Direct can reach more than 1.5 billion new endpoints (for a total of 7 billion) and that the 78 digital wallet providers already integrated with Thunes get a new send-to-wallet capability.
To continue growth due to the rising demand for food and groceries and fuel its expansion across the MENAP region, MaxAB has raised more money, this time a pre-Series A to the tune of $40 million.
The kingdom of Eswatini is considering the introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), joining the growing list of African countries exploring the viability of an e-currency. The Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) said it has appointed German technology group Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to research and explore the possibilities of a digital Lilangeni (the country currency) to complement banknotes. The CBDC project will involve a design concept and other considerations such as governance, accessibility, interoperability, security and programmability of the potential digital currency. Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia are some of the other African countries eyeing digital currencies to enhance their access to financial services, cost reductions, interoperability and enhanced cross-border payments.
Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) is one of the most influential players in the web3 ecosystem, funding entrepreneurs in the space amid “crypto winter.” Founded and helmed by general partner Chris Dixon, the venture firm’s crypto arm raised a massive $4.5 billion fund in May for its fourth dedicated sector fund to continue backing early-stage founders just \[…\]
In a statement, Ibrahim Sarhan, eFinance’s chairman and CEO, said the investment in Nexta is in line with Egypt’s digital transformation plan and vision for 2030, including the Group’s plan to maximize its assets and investments by investing in the fintech space. Last year, Nexta obtained a provisional license from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and will look to fulfill further requirements and meet certain obligations before obtaining the CBE final approval for the agent banking license it needs to launch its services in the country. Nexta, an Egyptian startup that plans to launch its banking app in the coming months, has secured a $3 million investment from eFinance Group, a state-owned provider of digital payments solutions. Egyptians looking for fresh alternatives that do not include telco-powered mobile wallets and digital channels from legacy banks can turn to Nexta and Telda, the Sequoia-backed fintech that announced a $20 million seed round last week.
Atef argues that while both models have managed to increase e-commerce activities in Egypt, the big e-commerce players neglect the mass market and instead focus more on the three largest cities Cairo, Alexandria and Giza — while smaller social platforms tend to provide unreliable and unorganized service. Online shoppers in Egypt mainly purchase items on big e-commerce platforms such as Souq, which rebranded as Amazon Egypt in 2021; Jumia; and Noon or social commerce platforms that utilize Facebook pages and groups in a B2B2C manner. You can compare the e-commerce landscape in Egypt to fintech across Africa in that there are more startups in that sector than others; reports say 20% of tech startups in Egypt are in the e-commerce and retail sectors. In a statement, Sarah AlSaleh, a partner at Outliers Venture Capital, said the asset-light Kenzz is solving two key issues that current e-commerce incumbents are not addressing: affordable and reliable last-mile logistics and an uncompromising customer trust philosophy.
Similar to last year, he declined to disclose revenue metrics, but did say the company’s valuation increased with the new round, and its team grew three times while the number of applications into Landis’s program increased by more than seven times since last year. Today, the company announced $40 million in Series B funding, led by GV, which was joined by Sequoia Capital, Jay Z’s Roc Nation fund Arrive, the National Association of Realtors’ Second Century Ventures, Operator Partners, Signia Ventures and Team Builder Ventures. During that period of time, the company helps the client reach goals of qualifying for a mortgage to repurchase the home when they are ready, Berdugo told journalist. The New York–based company’s model is for their client to have a budget and work with real estate agents to find a home within that budget.
PayPal is taking a step away from the Honey brand, the $4 billion shopping rewards acquisition it made in 2019, with today’s launch of PayPal Rewards. The new program will replace “Honey Gold” — the rewards program for Honey browser extension users, which allows customers to redeem their points for cash, gift cards or PayPal \[…\]
Banking-as-a-service platforms have become popular with companies trying to embed financial services into their offerings because large, incumbent banks have been relatively slow to bring their services up to speed with the pace of change in the world of tech and banking. Other investors in the round include Golden Palm Investments Corporation, Michael Vaughn (ex-COO, Venmo), Fintech Fund, Babs Ogundeyi (CEO, Kuda) Armyn Capital, Dunbar Capital, Strawhat Investment, Polymath Capital, Unpopular Ventures, Sean Mahsoul and MyAsiaVC. However, when outside requests flocked in en masse, they finally arranged to beta-launch Maplerad, the infra product that allows companies to embed powerful financial features like accounts, payments, FX and cards into their products, this August. In the latest development, Maplerad, a fintech described by its founders Miracle Anyanwu and Obinna Chukwujioke as a global BaaS player targeting Africa, has raised $6 million in seed funding.
The digital banking units, set up in collaboration with over 20 public and private banks, are brick-and-mortar outlets that are equipped with tablets and internet services to help individuals and small businesses open their savings accounts, access government identified schemes, perform verifications, make transactions and avail loans and insurance. India on Sunday launched 75 digital banking units in villages and small towns across the country in a move that it said will help bring financial services and literacy to more citizens. Availing banking services has traditionally been a struggle for people living in villages and small towns, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Even as more than a billion bank accounts exist in India, people living in remote areas have had to typically take a day off from the work to visit a nearby city for their banking related work.
Uniswap Labs has raised $165 million in a new funding round as the parent firm of the world largest decentralized exchange looks to broaden its offerings. The funding — one of the largest Series B for a crypto firm this year — comes at a time when the market downturn has eroded investors’ appetite for writing new checks. One of the new offerings will allow customers to trade NFTs on Uniswap from a number of marketplaces and another is a wallet, according to people familiar with the matter. VC investment in crypto startups declined 37% year-on-year in the quarter that ended in September to $4.44 billion, the industry’s lowest level in more than a year, according to PitchBook.
To help fuel continued growth, the startup is announcing it has raised $67 million in a Series B funding round that included participation from Battery Ventures, Don Griffith, NFL player Drew Brees, Ferst Capital Partners, FinTLV, Next Play Capital, Operator Stack, Redpoint Ventures, Tencent, Tom Williams and Wedbush Capital.
Ayoconnect’s new funding will be used for leadership hiring, and on its Ayoconnect’s product and technology, including new solutions for payments, data and banking and new APIs for account opening and card issuing.
When Sabbah spoke with journalist last year, he said Telda had obtained a license from Egypt’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) under its new regulations, allowing the company to issue cards and onboard customers digitally. According to sources who spoke to journalist, Telda was yet to go live in the Egyptian market after raising that much money because it ran into issues with the apex bank, among them the appropriate licensing it needed to be called a digital bank, which seemed to be Telda’s description at the time. Telda, an Egyptian consumer money app founded by ex-Swvl executive Ahmed Sabbah last April, has raised $20 million in seed funding. Telda eventually secured licence approval from the CBE a few weeks ago to launch as a consumer money and payment app in the Egyptian market.
Betterment, a roboadvisory platform that manages more than $30 billion in assets, has finally launched its crypto offering after completing a private beta phase. The fintech acquired Makara, a crypto asset management startup, back in February and has been working toward transforming Makara into its own in-house crypto product since the deal closed. Crypto Investing \[…\]
Pillow’s founders says it differentiates with its goal of becoming a holistic home for digital asset-driven financial services that allows even first time crypto users users to earn, save, spend and invest from the same platform. For Bitcoin, yields are generated by wrapping Bitcoin to Ethereum-compatible assets such as $WBTC and $renBTC and deploying wrapped assets as liquidity to DeFi protocols such as Uniswap, with an effective rate of 1.52%. In some countries where Pillow has partnered with local, compliant on-ramp service providers, users can also buy crypto with their local fiat currency. Pillow aspires to be an all-in-one platform that says it helps even newbie users save, spend and invest in crypto currency.
Now thanks to a cash infusion of $6.7 million, Siddiqui believes Veeve can solve this problem in two ways: with its full shopping cart model and the new Plug&Play device that can be clipped onto existing shopping carts to turn them into smart carts. Veeve wasn’t planning on going after new funding, but after securing contracts with large retailers that had hundreds of stores and thousands of carts needed, the company’s founders realized additional funding would accelerate deployment timelines, Siddiqui said. Where he feels Veeve pulls away from the others is some of its features, including a lighter cart with a basket size that holds two times more than competitors, a more powerful battery that can run 18 hours a day and a weather-resistant design so it is easier to roll the carts out the parking lot. That’s when he hooked up with fellow Amazon engineer Umer Sadiq, and together in 2018 started Veeve to build Amazon Go, but inside a smart shopping cart.
Greenlight Infinity, priced at $14.98 per month for the whole family, includes location sharing to see where anyone in the family is and do check-ins; SOS alerts to emergency contacts and/or 911 with one tap; and crash detection with automatic 911 dispatch wherein if a crash is detected while driving, driver and trip information is provided to emergency services. Greenlight Financial Technology, a venture-backed fintech company focused on providing a debit card, banking app and financial education to children, added another layer to its subscription plan with the introduction of family safety features. For example, last year, teen digital banking service Step raised $200 million in a Series C round and this week borrowed $300 million in debt financing to launch a crypto investing feature. Last year, the Atlanta-based company served more than 3 million parents and kids, and that has now increased to more than 5 million, according to the company.
Resonance will become Otium Capital’s tech-focused VC fund going forward. With Otium Capital, the family office has a broad investment strategy, from leveraged buy-outs to real estate — and it has done quite a few startup investments over the years. Meet Resonance, a new $150 million fund (€150 million) backed 100% by Otium Capital. If there are some macro-economic issues, you don’t have to deploy a lot of capital every year because your limited partners have defined a short life cycle for your VC fund.
U.K. fintech GoHenry is announcing $55 million in funding to double down on the opportunity. This also played out, interestingly, among young people, GoHenry said, with the company seeing a surge of new users during the pandemic and an increased rate of activity among existing customers.
Ntropy, a company offering an API that enriches transaction data for financial services businesses, today announced that it raised $11 million in a Series A round led by Lakestar with participation from QED Investors and January Investors.
Nicolás Giménez, the co-founder of Argentina-based startup Fidu, has convinced over 1,000 schools across the Latin America region to place their operations in the hands of a scrappy edtech startup. Fidu wants to build a new operating system for LatAm schools, so that institutions can digitally manage everything from finances to schoolwide announcements. Here’s how the startup’s debut products work: School administrators can use Fidu’s app to send tuition and pay slips to parents, and then tuition is paid by the recipients via phone. Latin American schools are working with paper, WhatsApp groups and e-mail, Giménez said.
The shifting sentiment is what drove SettleMint’s most recent fundraising close, an oversubscribed €16 million Series A round co-led by London-based venture capital firm Molten Ventures, an investor in UiPath and Revolut, as well as Europe-focused OTB Ventures. SettleMint is still working with Fujitsu on its go-to-market strategy, but there’s some indication of how its low-code solution can appeal to Japan. That a gap that SettleMint is trying to close with its low-code platform for blockchain engineers. One of SettleMint’s customers is a university in Indonesia that created a parallel blockchain-based voting system for the country’s 2019 election to ensure fair results.
The company chose to launch its crypto offering before a stock investing feature, the latter of which MacDonald said is currently in the works for Step customers and will likely launch before the end of the year. The offering will also launch in conjunction with a financial literacy platform providing educational content for the kids and parents on Step’s app, MacDonald said. The company just launched a crypto investing feature to the nearly 4 million users on its platform, CEO and founder CJ MacDonald told journalist in an interview. The new funding represents a substantial portion of the $500 million total Step has raised to date, most recently in a 2021 Series C equity round from investors including Coatue, Stripe and angels such as Charli D’Amelio and Jared Leto.
The fund also brings on Stephanie Palmeri, a founding partner of All Raise and former partner at Uncork, as an equal partner. In this case, Palmeri has the same percent of carry in the fund as the firm other partners, Lee Hower and Melody Koh, including its co-founders Rob Go and David Beisel. Palmeri is NextView’s second female partner since the firm launched its inaugural fund over a decade ago. The firm, often abbreviated to a16z, recently announced that it no longer has a physical HQ, instead building outposts in Miami Beach, New York and Santa Monica in addition to its existing Menlo Park and San Francisco offices.
Qualifying for a credit card is not easy when you have a poor credit score or none at all, but Los Angeles-based fintech company Arro wants to help consumers grow their credit line while also teaching them why that important. Duitch started the company with Luke Pelullo in 2021 to provide a credit card and credit-building platform that has a proprietary underwriting model that instead of relying on the FICO system, relies on income; for example, earning at least $1,000 a month in income. However, from Arro’s perspective, traditional lenders appeal to their bottom line, which doesn’t involve helping its customers stop the cycle of overspending or going into debt, Ryan Duitch, co-founder and CEO at Arro, told journalist. As the customer progresses through the in-app activities, like learning how to use credit responsibly and creating and meeting budget and savings goals, there are additional rewards like increases in credit line.
Whether their app ends up passing the test, developers need to pay validators in Magic Square’s tokens to audit their apps. Validators are the ones who eventually decide what gets to be on Magic Square, and they do so by vetting projects by three criteria — content, security and user experience — not unlike traditional app store inspection. Crypto.com Capital, the VC arm of the namesake crypto exchange, has joined as a strategic investor and will leverage the large pool of projects listed on the exchange to help Magic Square onboard more developers. Founded last year, Magic Square is building an app store that lets developers list projects that are vetted by the community.
OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace, will operate on the blockchain alongside existing platforms like NFTrade and other Avalanche-focused NFT marketplaces, including Joepegs and Kalao. Even though the NFT market has slowed down in recent months, over the past 30 days, Avalanche’s NFT sales volume rose 38.52% to $2.1 million in sales, per CryptoSlam data. With Avalanche, OpenSea users will be able to settle NFT transactions in under a second with low transaction fees, the company said. With about $404.6 million in sales, Avalanche is the seventh-largest blockchain by NFT sales volume, CryptoSlam data shows.
After the layoffs, Brex has just over 1,150 employees. Unsurprisingly, Brex cited the challenging macro environment in its decision.
Facing the headwinds, rather than pull out of BNPL altogether, investors appear to be shifting bets to what they perceive as a safer subcategory of BNPL: business-to-business (B2B) BNPL. The beneficiaries are startups like OatFi, which today emerged from stealth with $8 million in new equity and $50 million in debt for its platform that provides working capital infrastructure for B2B payments platforms.
Unlike other funds aimed at expanding a product’s ecosystem like the Alexa Fund at Amazon or the Slack Fund, Capital 49 is not operated off Airwallex’s balance sheet, instead tapping a number of Airwallex’s investors as LPs but using Airwallex’s knowledge of the market to guide it. Airwallex, as we’ve written before, made a splash when it was first founded by doing the right thing at the right time: it did the tough work of integrating with lots of banks and building complex financial services and then made them easy to use (leaning on APIs) so that companies doing business across country boundaries could set up banking and money moving services quickly, initially out of Asia Pacific and eventually globally. Airwallex, the Hong Kong/Australia startup that provides cross-border banking and other financial services for businesses, has raised $100 million, money that it will be using to continue expanding its business operationally, geographically and with new products in areas like credit and expense management — and for M&A. He and others on the team could see what was coming around the corner earlier in the year, he added, and although Airwallex still had significant money in the bank — $600 million out of the total $900 million raised as of the end of September, when Zhang and I spoke — the startup chose to raise more, just in case.
Antonio Rodriguez, who joined Matrix in 2010 after a Matrix-backed company he cofounded was sold to Hewlett-Packard, told us last week that Matrix just raised its biggest fund in roughly 20 years. It’s an $800 million vehicle that the firm closed in June and is announcing for the first time now. Eight hundred million dollars \[…\]
The parent firm Huobi Group now operates an umbrella of crypto-related entities, including its flagship exchange Huobi Global, its venture capital arm Huobi Ventures and a crypto cloud service. Huobi Global announced today that its controlling shareholder has completed the transaction to sell its entire stake to About Capital, a Hong Kong-based fund management firm started by Ted Chen, who founded China’s hedge fund giant Greenwoods Asset Management. Huobi Global, once China top crypto exchange, has been retooling itself since exiting from the home market following Beijing’s crypto ban. Founded in 2013, Huobi Global rode China’s crypto boom before Beijing declared all crypto transactions illegal in 2021.
Fintor, a fintech startup making it easier for non-accredited investors to invest in real estate properties, has just launched its mobile app for both iOS and Android. It also just raised a $6.2 million extension funding round from its existing investors, including Public.com, Hustle Fund, 500 Global, VU Ventures, Graphene Ventures and angel investors such \[…\]
State Bank of Pakistan said in an order that it is revoking Tag’s approval to operate as an electronic money institution, the permission that is required for entities to offer innovative, user-friendly and cost effective low-value digital payments instruments such as wallets, cards and contactless payments. Pakistan central bank on Friday revoked the in-principle and pilot operations approval of Tag to operate as an electronic money institution in a move that poses existential threat to the firm. The regulatory action follows a months-long probe into Tag, which offers banking and financial services such as contactless payment, cards and wallets to users in Pakistan. The central bank has also ordered the startup to close all customers’ wallet accounts and pull its apps from the app stores with immediate effect.
While much was made on Monday of the departure of John Curtius, a software investor who joined Tiger Global in 2017, Tiger Global has a slightly larger team than it did at the beginning of this year, says a source familiar with the firm. Indeed, in an investor letter that also came out Monday, Tiger Global stated it has recently hired five new investors, including two individuals from Blackstone, two recent Harvard graduates and a fifth investor, Evan Stanleigh, who joined the firm after a seven-year stint as a partner with the New York hedge fund Cadian Capital. Of course, like a lot of investors having a lousy time of it, Tiger Global is pointing to its historic returns and stating in its new investor memorandum that since inception in 2003, its funds have called down $36 billion and distributed $30 billion (roughly $8 billion of which has flowed back to its investors over the past two years alone, says a source close to the firm). Called Cedar Investment Management, it is expected to compete on earlier-stage deals with Tiger, whose average investment size, once jaw-dropping, has decreased to $30 million over the last year, the firm says in its investor letter.
The founders include John Sung King — founding CEO of publicly traded Five9; Alexandre Liuzzi, co-founder & CSO at Remessa Online, which was acquired by EBANX; Adhemar Milani Neto — founder & CEO at KOVI, and Doug Storf — founder & CEO at Swap, among others. It’s an interesting twist for the firm, founded last year by Brazilian-born Pedro Sorrentino and Pedro Dias and that is investing in startups in the U.S. and Latin America. The firm’s investment thesis, according to Sorrentino, is to target companies run by second- or third-time founders who seek to minimize cash burn with a plan toward profitability. Atman Capital, a year-old early-stage venture firm partially backed by about 20 founders, is sweetening the deal for these individual limited partners.
Red River West led Jiko’s Series B financing, which also included participation from Trousdale Ventures, Owen Van Natta, Temaris & Associates, La Maison Partners, BPI France, Airbus Ventures, Anthem Ventures, Upfront Ventures and Radicle Impact.
To help meet SMEs’ financial needs in the country, Seoul-based fintech startup Korea Credit Data (KCD) said Thursday that it has raised $24.7 million in Series D extension financing. KCD claims that it has more than 1.7 million registered merchants in South Korea and its app has grown into a super app among small and mid-sized business owners.
Hays isn’t too intimidated by the unicorns in the space, noting that many (such as Brex and Ramp) started with expense tracking and are heavily focused on the enterprise, while Capital seeks to work with smaller startups at the point of their first fundraise. Hays explained how a founder who uses Ramp for creidt cards can then connect their Ramp account to Capital; same goes for if someone was using Rippling for payroll. Here’s the simplest way to describe what Capital does today: Founders can turn to the platform to create and set terms for SAFE notes, and then invite potential investors to contribute through the platform. It’s a maturation for the company, which raised $7 million months ago from Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six fund, Anish Acharya from a16z, Shrug Capital, Packy McCormick, Nik Sharma and Austin Rief.
And then when I left, the majority of the most successful artists were people of color — I think it was 70% people of color were the most successful on the platform. This past week was me really being able to get so much feedback, positive and negative, from our community and learn so many of the challenges that Kickstarter faces and our users in our community really want to see us succeed. We came at this from the point of supporting people, creators and backers — wanting people to have a better experience and also wanting to see creators be more successful. A lot of these people actually make a living off of Kickstarter, so these people are heavily invested.
With Stash’s new crypto offering, customers won’t be able to store their own crypto in a wallet but will be able to buy and sell the assets 24/7, much like on an app like Coinbase, though chief investment officer Doug Feldman told journalist that a crypto wallet launch is not necessarily out of the question in the future. The startup sees itself as different from competitors because of its focus on cultivating customers who are long-term investors rather than encouraging more frequent, riskier trading for short-term profits, Ed Robinson, Stash co-founder and president, told journalist in an exclusive interview. Having a small amount of crypto exposure, he added, will help Stash customers capture some of the asset class’s potential upside in the long term. Feldman said that even for the most risk-tolerant investor on Stash, the maximum exposure to crypto the platform recommends is 6% of an investor’s overall portfolio.
Ada Ventures also launched Ada’s Angels in October 2020, where five individuals from the Ada Scout network with direct experience in under-represented communities were given £50,000 to make five investments of £10,000. The investors in Ada Venture Fund II include a cornerstone commitment from the British Business Bank through its Enterprise Capital Funds programme, Plexo Capital, University of Edinburgh and a raft of entrepreneurs and investors including Taavet+Sten and the Supercell co-founders. It feels like an eon has passed since the launch in 2019 of Ada Ventures, a European VC that decided to invest in normally under-represented groups and sectors, like women or POC founders, as well as tech which improves society. This has meant that Ada’s Fund I claims to be the most diverse portfolio in Europe, with approximately 55% female founders and 30% ethnic minority founders.
For example, it wants to help startups with all aspects of compensation matters within their organization — going beyond salaries to also advise on compensation reviews, employee communication and pay analytics. The company is emerging from stealth today, announcing a $6 million seed round raised earlier this year led by Inspired Capital and including participation from Floodgate, SV Angel as well as founders and C-level executives of Rippling, Wealthfront, Pilot.com, Thumbtack, Public.com and others. Comprehensive’s target customers are startups, a world Lee is familiar with, having started two of his own, as well as launching Layoffs. For Roger Lee, the issue came up repeatedly when he co-founded 401(k) provider Human Interest, which achieved unicorn status in August of 2021 and today has nearly 700 employees.
Spleet is also expanding its residential rent management offerings to include Collect, a service that automatically receives rent payments on behalf of landlords and Verify, a tool that enables landlords and real estate agents to vet and carry out adequate background checks on tenants before offering lease agreements. In 2018, he and Akintola Adesanmi — who was no stranger to how rent worked in Nigeria and also desired to effect change — brainstormed Spleet, a platform that partners with apartment owners to list their properties and offers renters options to pay rent monthly, quarterly and biannually. This relationship also supplied Spleet with the critical network of landlords required to list multiple units when it went live; the pitch to landlords was that Spleet would bring proper KYC into the rental process and allow them to verify tenants and automate rent collection. The rent financing solution, dubbed Rent Now, Pay Later, gives renters access to no-collateral loans up to ₦3 million (~$6,000) with an interest of about 3.5% monthly to finance rent payments.
Embedded banking — used by companies that do not build financial products like credit, payments or deposits from the ground up but want to offer those services to their customers to grow revenues — has been on a big growth tear in the last several years, and today one of the bigger players building finance as a service tools like these and others is announcing a round of funding to continue its growth.
It spotlights a decisive vote of confidence from the firm’s first fund investors, who have invested larger tickets in the second fund and commitments from new investors who share its vision for the potential of VC in Egypt and the region. In a past interview, managing partners Tarek Assaad and Karim Hussein told journalist that the firm hopes to back 31 startups from the second fund, which focuses on seed to Series B startups building in fintech, logistics, health tech, edtech and agritech sectors. Large institutional investors, including DFIs such as FMO, BII and IFC, are backing Algebra’s second fund — the IFC and FMO made $15 million and $10 million commitments into the fund, respectively. Last April, Egyptian and MENA-focused venture capital firm Algebra Ventures announced the launch of its $90 million second fund.
The move to terminate the deal has come as a surprise to many direct stakeholders, including BillDesk founders and many of its investors, people familiar with the situation said, who requested anonymity commenting on the failure of India’s biggest payments deal. Prosus indeed now believes the payments market in India has shown cracks in recent quarters and did not wish to go forward with honoring last year’s arrangement, two people familiar with the matter told journalist. The deal would have allowed Prosus, which already owns fast-growing PayU, to dominate the market of payments processing in India. Prosus shares remained largely unchanged on the announcement Monday, indicating that investors don’t think not having BillDesk will materially hurt Prosus.
Apurv Bansal, co-founder of Zenskar, said in an interview that 10% to 15% of SaaS companies today have moved toward a consumption-based pricing model on customers’ demand because of macro tailwinds such as product-led growth, automation and AI. The market is flooded with similar SaaS billing platforms, but Bansal said Zenskar allows companies to configure its solution in a no-code, low-code manner, without requiring them to rely on engineers. Headquartered in New York and Bengaluru, Zenskar is building a platform for SaaS companies to generate bills for their complex pricing plans — whether they are based on usage-based pricing, subscriptions, nuanced discounts, credits, custom currencies, prepaid or ramp deals. Zenskar, a startup that is aiming to help SaaS companies automate their billing workflows, has raised $3.5 million in a seed funding round.
South Africa’s Talk360 raises $4M to build single payment platform for Africa Talk360 told us in a past interview, that its decision to be a payment aggregator was informed by the challenges it encountered in implementing digital payment options, which affected the bottom line of its internet calling business.
On September 28, LinkedIn released its Top Startups list, which is its self-described annual ranking of 50 emerging U.S. companies “gaining attention and recruiting top talent.” The professional networking site takes into consideration a variety of criteria based on its own data when coming up with the list: employment growth, engagement with the company and its employees, job interest and ability to attract talent from companies.
Juno – which also counts Sequoia India’s Surge, Dragonfly Capital, Polychain Capital, Consensys Ventures, Balaji Srinivasan, Surojit Chatterjee, Sandeep Nailwal and Ryan Selkis among its backers – has reached $1 billion in annualized transaction volume processing, Varun Deshpande, co-founder and chief executive of Juno, said in an interview. Juno, a startup that provides checking accounts to crypto enthusiasts and allows them to take their paychecks in digital tokens, has raised a new funding round as it expands its offerings to include a tokenized loyalty program. The eponymous platform integrates with all popular payroll platforms in the U.S., making it easier for customers who are long term believers in crypto to keep doubling down on their bets without having to worry about manually moving funds to different exchanges. Tokenized loyalty program Juno, which raised a $3 million seed funding last year, is now ready for a new offering: an optional loyalty program.