Every fortnight we compile the important news updates & events taking place in finance & fintech, covering payments, digital banking, cryptocurrency, AI, and more.

Visa to acquire Plaid for $5.3 billion

Plaid’s API software, often referred to as the “plumbing” behind fintech companies, lets start-ups connect to users’ bank accounts. High-profile Plaid customers include popular peer-to-peer payment app Venmo, mobile investing app Robinhood and cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Gemini.

Find out more about the strategic benefits of Visa’s acquisition of Plaid by clicking on our infographic.

Startup fintech Tonik gets Philippine approval for nation’s first pure digital bank

Tonik Financial Pte, a Singapore-based fintech, announced that its subsidiary, Tonik Digital Bank Inc. in the Philippines was granted regulatory approval to operate the first pure digital bank in that country. The approval from Central Bank of the Philippines will allow Tonik to provide a range of financial services in that market, focused primarily on retail deposit accounts and consumer loans.

MAS receives 21 applications for digital bank licences

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced that it has received 21 applications for digital bank licences as at the close of application on 31 December 2019. This comprises 7 applications for the digital full bank (DFB) licences, and 14 applications for the digital wholesale bank (DWB) licences. The applicants include e-commerce firms, technology and telecommunications companies, fintechs (such as crowd-funding platforms and payment services providers) and financial institutions.

RBI (Reserve Bank of India) paves the way for remote customer onboarding

Indian banks and fintech startups have been given the go-ahead to use video calls to complete KYC compliance checks, following a ruling by the country’s central bank. The new rules give regulated companies the ability to remotely vet a customer’s identity through PAN or Aadhaar cards and a series of questions, removing the need for customers to visit a bank branch to prove their bona fides. Geo-location will need to be switched to ensure that the applicant is physically present within the country.

Due to an increasing amount of mobile & internet penetration as well as a rising number of fintechs, it is clear that India seeks to establish itself as Asia’s biggest fintech hub in the coming years.

TransferGo partners with Currencycloud to reach Kenya, Singapore and Japan

TransferGo, the account-to-account (A2A) remittance fintech, has partnered with global payments platform Currencycloud to facilitate cross-border payments and launch in 14 new markets over the first quarter of 2020. With this new partnership, the remittance service will have access to Currencycloud’s network, not only making sending users’ funds easier but also allowing them to be sent to 19 new countries, including Kenya, Japan, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Chinese regulator opens market access for foreign banks

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRBC) has released a series of new rules and amendments giving foreign lenders and financial firms easier access to the Chinese market. Following a period surveying the industry, the regulator has published new measures which cancel the total asset requirement for foreign banks aiming to set up in China. Foreign banks will now be able to open both branches and wholly-owned banks in the country.

Read more about the rise of fintech in China and its impact in our blog post.

Texan fintech HighRadius raises $125m and hits unicorn status

HighRadius, the artificial intelligence (AI)-based platform which “helps companies get paid faster on their receivables”, has raised $125 million in a Series B funding round, boosting the fintech to unicorn status. With customers including Walmart, Nike, Burger King, Kellogg’s and Sony, the company is well-placed to use its new funding to expand its business further within Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

Challenger Longevity Bank positions itself for the silver generation

Longevity, a new challenger bank, is set to launch in the UK and Switzerland sometime this year. It intends to tap the “silver generation”, or those over 60. Backed by Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Deep Knowledge Ventures, the neobank intends to expand across Europe, Singapore, Japan and the US by 2022.

Meezan Bank undergoes digital revamp with Oracle

Meezan Bank, one of the largest Islamic banking players in Pakistan, has selected Oracle Financial Services’ front-end channels system as part of a company-wide digital revamp. Meezan Bank, a subsidiary of Kuwaiti company Noor Financial Investment, was the first financial institution in Pakistan to be issued an Islamic banking licence when it launched in 2002. Today, it holds a 35% market share of the country’s Islamic banking business. It employs over 10,000 people and has a network of 700+ branches nationwide.

Read more about major digital engagement platforms such as Backbase, Temenos, Infosys Edgeverve in our post.

PayU to create digital lending platform in India with PaySense acquisition

PayU is set to acquire a controlling interest in Indian digital credit platform PaySense for $185 million. PayU intends to merge its Indian consumer lending business LazyPay with PaySense to create a full-stack digital lending platform, injecting a total of up to $200M in the new enterprise in the form of equity capital. $65M of the total amount will be immediately invested, while the balance will be infused in the next 24 months to grow the loan book.