Each fortnight we compile the most important headlines and news updates in the fintech industry covering digital banking, online payments, cryptocurrency, blockchain developments, and more.

Existing backers put another £40M into UK challenger bank Starling

Starling Bank, the U.K.-based challenger bank founded by banking veteran Anne Boden, has raised an additional £40 million in funding. The round is led by existing backers Harry McPike’s JTC and Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Limited, and adds to the £60 million raised in February this year. Starling Bank boasts 1.4 million accounts, including 155,000 business accounts and has raised a total of £363 million since its launch in 2014. Its deposit base has doubled in the last six months and it now holds more than £2.4 billion in deposits.

Brazil introduces Open Banking

Brazil is the latest country to embrace open banking, rolling out a new regulation enabling licensed institutions to share customer data. Under the new rules, banks, payment institutions and others licensed by the Banco Central do Brasil, can share – at the customers’ discretion – registration and transactional data from individuals or legal entities. The central bank says that open banking will help digitise Brazil’s financial system and reduce “information asymmetry”, promoting the emergence of new market players and encouraging new business models.

Here’s a map of open banking initiatives across the globe.

Payments startup Marqeta more than doubles valuation to $4.3 billion

Oakland-based fintech startup Marqeta has raised $150 million in new funding from a single investor at a $4.3 billion valuation. It’s a steep rise from the $1.9 billion it fetched in March 2019.

WorldRemit and Onfido to boost verification process for customers

WorldRemit announced its collaboration with identity verification and authentication company, Onfido in a bid to simplify the process of opening an account with the former and transfer money abroad. The partnership will allow WorldRemit to leverage the identity verification company’s solution for automating its KYC decision-making process while verifying customers.

Brex Cuts Staff After Raising $150M

A little over a week after announcing $150 million in new funding, fintech startup Brex is laying off part of its staff. The company, which sells a credit card tailored for startups, recently announced that it had raised $150 million in a Series C extension from a group of existing investors, including DST Global and Lone Pine Capital. With the new raise, Brex, which was co-founded by Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, has now amassed $465 million in venture capital funding to-date.

Ant Financial to pour $73.5m into Myanmar fintech firm Wave Money

Ant Financial has announced its plans to invest US$73.5 million in fintech firm Wave Money as part of a strategic partnership to boost financial inclusion in Myanmar. The investment makes the Alipay operator a substantial minority stakeholder in Wave Money, alongside existing shareholders Yoma Group and Telenor. With the partnership, Wave Money plans to leverage Ant’s experience in mobile payments to enhance its digital competence, user experience, and services. This is in line with the Myanmar government’s plan to increase financial inclusion in the country from 48% to 60% by 2022.

PayPal debuts QR codes to help SMBs go contactless

To help people maintain distance while venturing out for in-person transactions, PayPal has introduced contactless QR codes for payments. The QR codes are available in 28 markets worldwide, including farmers markets and resale shops. Transaction fees are being waived for any sales utilizing QR codes. The QR codes can be used within the PayPal wallet for in-person transactions, getting rid of the need for cash. This limits physical interaction and any handling of checkout technology tools or cash. People just use their smartphones to scan the codes right inside the PayPal app.

WeChat to offer credit scoring to its 600m users

WeChat Pay, the digital e-wallet owned by Chinese Big Tech Tencent, has announced it will be giving all 600 million of its users a credit rating based on “payments points” which will determine a “trust” value for each of them. The company will calculate scores using artificial intelligence (AI), looking at users’ personal records and existing credit histories, as well as taking into to account “habits” which represent a user’s “credibility”. With Tencent being one of the largest gaming companies in the world, the software will also be applied to online gamers.