Every fortnight we compile some of the most important headlines from the digital banking, payments, and fintech spheres from across the globe.

China’s Ant Financial is actively looking for Singapore banking licence

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is offering five digital banking licences to non-banks in an effort to diversify the country’s fintech competition until the end of 2019. If Ant Financial is successful, it will see traditional financial players DBS Holdings Group and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCB Bank) forced to make room for the international entry.

India’s financial services firm raises $1 billion

Paytm announced that their latest funding round, dubbed Series G, was led by U.S. asset manager T. Rowe Price. Existing investors Ant Financials (contributed $400 million), SoftBank Vision Fund (contributed $200 million), and Discovery Capital also participated in the round, which valued the company at about $16 billion — higher than any other local startup and some of the high-profile Asian startups such as Grab and Gojek. One97 Communications, which operates Paytm, has raised more than $3.3 billion to date.

Read more about India’s booming fintech & payments market in our article.

PayPal to acquire shopping and rewards platform Honey for $4B

PayPal announced that it has agreed to acquire Honey Science Corporation, the makers of a deal-finding browser add-on and mobile application, for $4 billion, mostly cash. The acquisition, which is PayPal’s largest to date, will give the payments giant a foothold at an earlier stage in the customer’s shopping journey. Honey currently boasts of 17 million users.

Fibank first in Bulgaria to launch PSD2-compliant open banking platform

Bulgaria’s third largest bank, First Investment Bank (Fibank), claims to be the first in the country to open an open banking platform compliant with the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2). The move will enable Fibank customers to move their other accounts to the My Fibank app, which means they can check all their account balances, transfer money and receive bank statements all in one place.

Check out how countries across the globe have taken initiatives to introduce Open Banking in our infographic.

Orange Bank forays into Spain market

In Spain, Orange Bank will offer a complete mobile-based banking service. The offering will include savings account, cheque account and Mastercard debit card. It will offer 1% interest rate for deposits of up to €20,000. The customers can also open a current account carrying a Spanish IBAN without paying registration charges.

Bunq plants trees while customers spend on new Green Card

Dutch mobile bank bunq is launching a limited-edition Green Card which helps users to offset their carbon footprint as they spend. For €99 a year, customers can make “a real difference with zero effort”, as bunq plants a tree for every $100 spent. The reforestation effort is being made in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects, a non-profit organisation which has planted over 265 million trees since its creation in 2005.

RBS launches digital bank Bó in bid to take on Monzo, Revolut and Starling

After analysing the spending habits of 2.6m users, RBS claims Bó helps customers replicate the behaviour of successful savers. Users can analyse all of their spending by retailer, category and location, put money aside in a “piggy bank” and set goals. However, the app is not yet linked up to the Bacs payment system so it will not allow customers to set up direct debits or have their salary paid into their Bó account.

Read more about the major players in UK’s digital banking space in our article.

TRM Labs raises $4.2m in funding led by PayPal Ventures

Cryptocurrency risk management platform TRM Labs announced that it has raised $4.2 million in funding from Initialized Capital, Blockchain Capital, PayPal Ventures, and Y Combinator. This round brings TRM’s total amount raised to $5.9 million. Founded in 2018, TRM helps financial institutions across the US, Latin America, Asia and Europe to measure, monitor and mitigate their cryptocurrency risk exposure, enabling them to simplify customer due diligence and meet regulatory requirements.

Robinhood readies investment product for early 2020 launch in UK

Robinhood is now inviting UK customers to sign up to receive early access to commission-free stocks when the broker app launches in early 2020. With over six million US users, Robinhood will now provide unlimited commission-free trades through its core platform with “no account minimums and access to over 1000 global stocks to the UK customers”, including fee-free flexibility with instant deposits and instant trades.

French fintech Virgil raises €2.1m to co-own homes with first-time buyers

The newly-funded Paris-based company offers future buyers a capital contribution – not a loan – in exchange for co-ownership of the property purchased. The funding round was backed by French funds Alven Capital and Kima Ventures, as well as the seed fund investor for City Mapper, Zoopla and Transferwise, LocalGlobe, and a group of angel investors.

 

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