The Fintech Times Bi-Weekly News Roundup on Thursday 17 November brings news of partnerships, job appointments and industry updates.
Advanced Navigation, a developer of AI robotics and navigation technology, has enjoyed a AU$108million Series B funding round. KKR, a global investment firm, leads the round with other investors including Main Sequence, In-Q-Tel and Our Innovation Fund. It will use the funding to accelerate R&D programmes, enhance global sales and marketing capabilities as well as assess inorganic growth opportunities.
WeGift, a digital payouts firm, has closed a £26million Series B. New investors including Element Ventures, Clocktower Ventures and Volution joined existing investors CommerzVentures, AlbionVC and SAP. These funds will be used to expand its digital currency network, support growth in new geographies – with a focus on North America – make key hires, plus add new features and functionality.
Dubai-based fintech firm baraka has raised $20million in a funding round led by Valar Ventures. Investment firm Knollwood also invested in the Series A round. baraka aims to empower investors across the region with access to commission-free investing and access to over 6,000 US stocks and ETFs.
Venture fund Fiat Ventures has launched its first venture capital fund with $25million in AUM and co-investment vehicles. Fiat Ventures is dedicated to companies building technology at the intersections of financial technology, financial access and inclusion.
Built Technologies, the US construction finance platform, has unveiled new inspection technology and services solutions designed to streamline tedious inspection workflows, increase project visibility, mitigate risk as well as proactively accelerate construction draws.
WTW, a global advisory, broking and solutions company, has collaborated with insurers Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM) and Markel, launching the pilot phase of a digital commercial insurance platform. The platform has been designed to enable multiple insurers and brokers to trade complex specialty risks in real time.
Orange Botswana is the first Orange affiliate in Africa to launch 5G commercially. The 5G network is available in greater Gaborone and Francistown, covering 30 per cent of the population. It also follows the launch of Botswana’s first Orange Digital Centre.
Mergers and acquisitions
Computer Services (CSI) has closed a $1.6billion merger agreement with Centerbridge Partners and Bridgeport Partners. CSI has delisted from the OTCQX market and become a private company. The capital injection will also support CSI in becoming a leading provider of regtech and fintech resources through expanded investment in research and development, complementary product partnerships and strategic acquisitions.
Climate First Bancorp – the holding company for Climate First Bank – has purchased a climate and social justice fintech platform developed by the startup Ecountabl. The platform indexes data on over 10,000 companies, analysing their environmental, social and governance performance to help customers track how their purchases with brands align with their personal values.
Insurtech Brush Claims has celebrated the 30th anniversary of its catastrophic claims offering while launching a new corporate brand identity. Included in the new branding is a redesigned company logo, as well as an updated company website. Brush is ready for rapid growth in the next few years, aiming to increase its roster of adjusters and add innovative features to its suite of insurtech solutions.
Temenos is celebrating after it passed 850 customers with Temenos Infinity digital banking platform. Banks that have gone live with Temenos Infinity include Credem, Suez Canal Bank, Arab Tunisian Bank and BCP Peru. Temenos said it is seeing tremendous growth in the take-up of its digital banking platform, particularly in SaaS customers.
Meanwhile, fintech StellarFi has exceeded $1million in annual recurring revenue. The company emerged from stealth in June and also closed an oversubscribed $7million initial funding round in March. StellarFi empowers members to increase their credit scores using everyday payments including rent and utilities.
LHV UK, a banking services provider, has joined the TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS) system to improve access to real-time Euro payments in countries where the scheme is not yet widely accepted. TIPS is a market infrastructure service launched by the Eurosystem in November 2018, enabling real-time money transfers in Euros 24/7.
Global Processing Services, a payments technology platform, has appointed Sharyn Wilson as chief people officer. Wilson is responsible for leading GPS’s global HR organisation, including talent strategy, recruitment, culture, learning and development, compensation and benefits. Prior to GPS, Sharyn was a self-employed consultant advising beauty group Orveon.
Open banking platform Tink makes four strategic hires to bolster its expanding London-based payments team. Andrew Boyajian joins as head of variable recurring payments (VRP), while Ian Morrin is the new VP of payment sales. Kevin Ward is appointed VP strategic account management and Reece Shannon-Sinclair joins as head of delivery and solutions architecture.
SmartSearch, a digital compliance solutions provider, has promoted Tom Dockerty to VP of professional services sales. SmartSearch’s digital AML solution now provides electronic verification, sanction screening and real-time monitoring to more than 5,500 clients and 50,000 users across the UK, Europe and US. Dockerty will work closely with Zowie Lees-Howell, its new VP of enterprise sales.
Freetrade names Shahid Naveed as CTO. He joins from Auction Technology Group. Prior to that, Naveed was the technical leader for Amazon Video’s Digital Store team. His appointment follows recent senior hires in Freetrade’s engineering team.
Stephen Lathrope has joined insurtech Insly as an advisor. He will help Insly to maximise the potential of its no-code sales and policy management software to support product innovation, operational efficiency, and growth amongst insurance providers and MGAs.
American Express and Square have expanded their relationship with plans to launch a new credit card built specifically for Square sellers on the American Express network. The new card will be the first credit card Square offers to its community of small business owners in the US. It will integrate directly with Square’s ecosystem of solutions, empowering sellers to organise their finances and manage their cash flow.
Worldline extends partnership with BR-DGE to further enhance merchants payment capabilities. It has joined BR-DGE’s Partnership Program, building on a successful partnership agreement in 2020. The latest strategic partnership commits to exploring future product partnership opportunities globally.
Brightwell, an Atlanta-based global payments technology company, has teamed up with Mastercard to integrate cross-border remittances. Powered by the Mastercard rails, clients can access near real-time or same-day payments to over 120 countries and 280,000 cash payout locations.
PowerTrade, a crypto derivatives exchange, has partnered with Copper.co, a provider of institutional digital asset custody and trading solutions, to offer custodial and settlement services for its institutional clients. PowerTrade will leverage Copper.co’s ClearLoop technology that enables institutions to deploy capital on the exchange and trade while maintaining their assets off-exchange in independent custody.
Network International, an enabler of digital commerce in the Middle East and Africa, has signed a strategic collaboration with Reward, a customer engagement company, to enhance its service offering to more than 150,000 merchants and 200+ issuers across the UAE, GCC and Africa. The deal will also see Reward and Network developing and providing a range of comprehensive data insights to merchants and issuers.
Meanwhile, Plato Partnership has unveiled three new founding members. Kepler Cheuvreux on the sell-side as well as UBS Asset Management and Pictet Asset Management on the buy-side. As members of Plato, all three companies will participate in setting the Partnership’s agenda to deliver creative solutions and efficiencies to the equity marketplace.
Berg Money, the UK payments provider, is working with small business lender iwoca to expand its business loans. Berg Money’s embedded finance partnership with iwoca will provide a digital, seamless and quick application process via the Flexi-loan product.
EthSwitch, Ethiopia’s national payment switch, Oromia Bank and Mastercard has announced a landmark partnership that sees all the bank’s ATMs accept Mastercard debit, credit, and prepaid cards. Tourists, and local citizens carrying Mastercard payment cards can withdraw local currency from Oromia Bank ATMs processed by the EthSwitch network.