Each fortnight, we compile a list of some of the most important and noteworthy announcements, news, and updates in the fintech, digital banking, & finance sector.
Earlier this month, Google announced that it would offer personal checking accounts next year through its Google Pay app, initially in partnership with Citigroup Inc (C.N) and a small credit union at Stanford University.
Goldman Sachs is being investigated for gender discrimination related to the algorithms it uses when deciding on credit limits for the new Apple Card. The New York Department of Financial Services has opened a probe into Apple Card after allegations made by David Heinemeier Hansson, a partner at software development firm Basecamp, who claimed that he was approved for 20 times the credit limit that his wife received — even though they file joint tax returns and she actually has a better credit score.
Alipay has launched a new prepaid card service for international visitors to China supported by Bank of Shanghai. This is a first for the country. Available immediately, international users can register via the Alipay app with their mobile phone number and access the “Tour Pass” program. Users will be able to top up the prepaid card from debit or credit accounts with their regular bank. The minimum top-up for each card is CNY 100 ($14.28), with balance capped at CNY 2,000. Each card is valid for 90 days, after which funds are automatically transferred back.
Explore the fintech scene in China by clicking here: The rise of fintech in China and where we go from here
Facebook launched Facebook Pay, its latest foray into the payments market. The new system will allow users to send money to friends, shop through Facebook Marketplace, buy tickets or games and donate to charitable causes across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook Pay will soon expand internationally and to Facebook’s other app offerings as well.
Just nine weeks after going live to the general public, Australian neo bank 86 400 has entered the mortgage business, offering entirely digital home loans through a network of brokers. The offering provides brokers with a digital platform that provides electronic statement capture, mobile ID verification, electronic signatures, and more, delivering faster time to a home loan decision with just a single piece of paperwork needed for purchase – the contract of sale.
UK neo bank Tandem has commenced an early adopter programme in Hong Kong as it prepares for its first overseas launch. Tandem announced its plans to expand into Hong Kong in November last year, having secured a £15 million tech-licencing deal with retail financial services company Convoy. The digital bank says it intends to open its virtual doors to consumers in Hong Kong before the year is out.
Read about the rise of fintech in Hong Kong in our article here: How HK is developing itself to become Asia’s leading fintech hub
AI-powered smart savings app Plum now boasts a total lifetime investment of $9.3 million after closing its second funding round with a $3m investment. Plum also launched its Android app extended its existing digital offering across iOS and Facebook Messenger to plough toward its objective of two million UK customers by the end of 2020. It expects that the new app will increase monthly users by 40%.
India’s corporate Yes Bank says it has received a “binding” offer of $1.2 billion from a global investor, with other “advanced talks” in the wings as it looks to raise capital through a fresh issuance of equity shares. Following the announcement, which is still subject to regulatory, board and shareholder approvals, Yes Bank saw its stocks soar by 39% to INR 76.65 ($1.08).
Irish peer-to-peer (P2P) lending firm Flender has raised €75 million in funding to boost its SME lending strategy. Founded in 2014, Flender went live with its lending platform in 2017. It offers loans of between €15,000 and €250,000, and claims to have thus far funded more than €14 million in in loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Visa has invested in Nigerian digital payments group Interswitch purporting the company to unicorn status with a valuation exceeding $1 billion. The actual amount/value of Visa’s investment remains undisclosed.