Allied Payment Network Partners with MY CREDIT UNION

Allied Payment Network Partners with MY CREDIT UNION
  • Payments solutions company Allied Payment Network has partnered with MY CREDIT UNION of Bloomington, Minnesota.
  • The partnership will integrate Allied’s payment technology with the credit union’s Ultracs digital banking platform.
  • Headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Allied Payment Network made its Finovate debut in 2013.

Payments solutions provider Allied Payment Network will integrate its technology with MY CREDIT UNION’s Ultracs digital banking platform courtesy of a new partnership.

“Financial institutions like MY CREDIT UNION serve a critical role in their communities,” Allied Payment Network CEO Geoff Knapp said. “Their members aren’t just numbers; they’re neighbors and friends. They are allies for their community and we’re proud to be an ally for them.”

Headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota, MY CREDIT UNION specializes in providing its members with financial wellness and banking solutions that “educate, empower, and engage.” Founded in 1957, MY CREDIT UNION has $380 million in assets, and serves its members via four branches as well as online.

MY CREDIT UNION President Greg Worthen credited Allied Payment Network for being a “community-focused organization.” He noted that this factor, among others, is what helped seal the deal. “With the combination of two, state-of-the-art platforms like Ultracs and Allied,” he said, “we’re confident we’ll be able to give our members the superior mobile-first experience they expect.”

Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Allied Payment Network made its Finovate debut in 2013 at FinovateSpring. Since then, the company has grown into a major paytech leader with 500 bank and credit union customers. Allied Payment Network offers a real-time, open-network payments model, and features a broad range of online and mobile solutions. These products and services include online billpay, P2P fund transfer, PicturePay, BizPay, PortalPay, A2A fund transfer, and Vault, a digital document storage solution.

In 2022, the company processed $3.6 billion in payment volume. This year, Allied Payment Network has forged partnerships with fellow Finovate alum Q2 in May, First Farmers Bank & Trust and Central Payments in June, Washington-based Commencement Bank and South Carolina-based United Community in September, and marketing firm Murphy & Company in October. The company also made a pair of C-suite hires in 2023. Allied began the year adding Kathi Klawitter as Chief Operating Officer. In July, the company introduced new Chief Information Security Officer James Dixon.

Allied Payment Network has raised more than $8 million in funding. The company includes Plymouth Growth among its investors.

Photo by Steven Van Elk

3 Ways 2024 Could Be The Year of the Regulator in Fintech

3 Ways 2024 Could Be The Year of the Regulator in Fintech

Enabling technologies continue to fuel innovation in fintech and financial services. But what are regulatory bodies doing to ensure safety for consumers and fair competition for businesses?

Here are some of the areas where regulators could make themselves felt by the fintech industry in 2024.

AI: From the EU’s AI Act to Executive Orders in the U.S.

Whether its the boardrooms of Silicon Valley or the halls of Congress, the call for regulating AI technology is only getting louder. As we enter 2024, the focus on AI-based regulations in the U.S. will come from the Executive Order signed by President Biden in October. This order, called the Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence, builds on the administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights from last year. The order lists eight guiding principles for the responsible development and use of AI – including the importance of U.S. leadership in this field as well as both support for American workers and protections for American consumers.

The order also set out a series of regulatory requirements that range from establishing AI safety and security standards to the importance of fostering innovation to concerns about human rights and equity. In their review of the executive order, Foley & Lardner analysts Millendorf, Allen, Moore, Barrett, and Zhang note that while it could set the stage for “potentially rigorous regulation,” the order also makes it clear that “the administration is not shy about their desire to promote competition.”

Meanwhile in Europe, we soon will have the chance to see the implementation of the European Union’s enactment of the AI Act. Unlike policy in the U.S., the EU’s AI Act is set to become law early next year. The AI Act comes two years after the EU first proposed a regulatory framework for AI and will mandate new restrictions on the use of the technology. This will include greater transparency on how data is used. The Act also categorizes AI technologies in terms of risk, recognizing everything from “unacceptable risk” systems that involve cognitive behavioral manipulation or social scoring, to limited risk systems such as image generating or manipulating technologies.

There has been some criticism of the EU’s AI Act – for example, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern that the legislation could stifle innovation. But with final details hammered out this week, a new comprehensive framework for regulating artificial intelligence will be among the first big technology headlines of the new year.

Buy Now, Pay Later, Regulate Someday?

According to research from Lafferty, the international Buy Now, Pay Later market will top $532 billion in 2024. And observers of the Buy Now, Pay Later phenomenon – supporters and critics – have known for some time that tougher regulations were coming to the industry. The only question was when.

Is the answer, “next year”? In the U.S., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been studying the BNPL industry since at least late 2021. As such, the CFPB has recognized a number of key benefits BNPL provides relative to traditional credit products, especially with regard to the absence of interest payments, ease of access, and simple repayment structure. At the same time, the agency has also acknowledged a number of potential issues: discrete consumer harms, data harvesting, and overextension.

At this point, much of the CFPB’s impact on BNPL has been minimal. And while some observers believe that regulation is inevitable, few see signs of any specific imminent changes to law or policy with regard to BNPL in the U.S. There has some concern at the state level, with state attorneys general voicing consumer protection warnings. But at this point, “study and recommend” seems to be the approach the agency is taking toward BNPL for the immediate future.

Unsurprisingly, the EU is significantly farther down the path toward regulating BNPL than the U.S. is. In September, policymakers revised their Consumer Credit Directive (CCD) which updated rules for consumer credit and roped in Buy Now Pay Later products for the first time. With regards to BNPL, the revised directive specifies the circumstances under which a given BNPL service falls under the CCD. It also mandates that those BNPL services that are within the scope of the CCD be “subject to license requirements and certain regulations regarding responsible lending.” The new stipulations in the CCD must be implemented into member state national law by the fall of 2025.

Will the Regulators Curtail Crypto’s Comeback?

The price of Bitcoin is up more than 148% year-to-date. Ethereum is up more than 90%. Even the lowly Dogecoin has gained more than 35% from the start of the year through mid-December. After a slow start, 2023 is turning out to be a great year for cryptocurrency asset prices.

So will the regulators show up to take away the punch bowl?

Once again, the EU is the first mover when it comes to major regulation of enabling technologies in fintech. Next year, the EU will implement the Markets in Crypto Assets regulation – also known as MiCA or MiCAR. The first instance of a regulatory body establishing a comprehensive set of regulations for cryptocurrencies, MiCA was established in June. The regulations set new rules for stablecoins, including e-money tokens; require authorization for certain types of services provided by companies deemed crypto-asset-service providers; and introduce new rules to prevent market abuse via unlawful disclosure, insider trading or other activities “that are likely to lead to disruption or manipulation of crypto-assets.”

In the U.S., 2023 seemed like the year when regulators were doing everything they could to make life miserable for the cryptocurrency business. But 2024 could bring better news for the industry in the form of rule changes like the one recently made by the Financial Account Standards Board (FASB). This rule change allows institutions to represent their crypto holdings at fair value beginning late in 2024. Under current accounting rules, cryptocurrencies suffer from something called impairment.

This occurs because of the imbalance between how cryptocurrencies are recorded when they lose value as opposed to when they regain value. According to one observer, TradeStation Head of Brokerage Solutions Anthony Rousseau, this change gives corporate treasurers a potential way to include cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to their balance sheets as a reserve asset. And as we’ve seen with the emergence of crypto ETFs in 2023, institutional adoption of crypto is one of the key leading indicators for potentially greater adoption of crypto throughout society.

Photo by Joshua Miranda

Ncontracts Acquires Quantivate for Undisclosed Amount

Ncontracts Acquires Quantivate for Undisclosed Amount

Risk management and compliance solutions provider Ncontracts has acquired Quantivate this week. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Quantivate, which provides governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) solutions for banks and credit unions, was founded in 2005. Quantivate’s flagship offering is its Business Continuity Software. Today, the company has a suite of governance, risk, and compliance management solutions, including ERM Intelligence, Compliance, Operational Resilience, IT Risk, Procurement, Audit, and more.

“Quantivate has always believed in the power of innovative technology and exceptional people to help banks and credit unions thrive,” said Quantivate Founder and CEO Andy Vanderhoff. “Ncontracts shares this mission, and I’m excited to watch as the strength and experience of our united teams take risk management solutions to the next level.”

With today’s acquisition, Ncontracts aims to position it as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) and knowledge-as-a-service (KaaS) leader. Quantivate’s GRC solutions and broader suite covering areas like ERM Intelligence, Compliance, IT Risk, and more, strengthen Ncontracts’ portfolio by enhancing its capabilities in addressing the complex needs of financial institutions.

This acquisition not only expands Ncontracts’ workforce to 350 employees and customer base to 4,000 financial services companies, but it also emphasizes the industry’s increasing reliance on sophisticated risk management solutions.

Ncontracts was founded in 2009 and specializes in risk, vendor, and compliance management software for financial services companies. The company currently serves more than 4,000 financial services organizations, including Tinker Federal Credit Union, Columbia Bank, Security Bank of Kansas City, and more. Earlier this fall, Ncontracts teamed up with fellow Finovate alum True Digital to enhance banks’ vendor data.

Ncontracts most recently demoed at FinovateFall 2022 where the company debuted Nrisk, an online risk management solution that strengthens compliance controls in real time. Tools like these are especially imperative to financial services firms in today’s regulatory environment in which regulators have increased their scrutiny of enterprise risk management practices.

“We are thrilled to join forces with Quantivate,” said Ncontracts founder and CEO Michael Berman. “We are both mutually committed to helping financial institutions reduce risk, improve compliance, and control costs, so combining our resources empowers us to be an even better provider of software and services for our customers and the financial industry.”

Photo by fauxels

ERM’s ESG Fusion Announces Data Partnership with SESAMm

ERM’s ESG Fusion Announces Data Partnership with SESAMm
  • ERM announced that it will integrate its ESG screening engine, ESG Fusion, with data from SESAMm.
  • The integration will enable ESG Fusion to screen an additional 20 billion documents and four million sources for ESG-related adverse events.
  • Headquartered in France, SESAMm won Best of Show in its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope 2022.

Sustainability advisory firm ERM announced a data partnership with Finovate Best of Show winner SESAMm. ERM will integrate data from SESAMm into its ESG screening engine, ESG Fusion. The result will boost the number of documents ESG Fusion screens for ESG-related adverse events by more than 20 billion and increase the number of sources by more than four million. The integration will also add to the engine’s coverage of languages, bringing ESG Fusion’s language coverage total to more than 100.

“A recurring challenge we see in the market is the capability to feed a state-of-the-art ESG methodology with extensive amounts of up-to-date raw data at pace and scale,” ESG Fusion Product Lead Marcel Leistenschneider explained. “Any informed ESG assessment must be built on as large a data foundation as possible. With this new partnership, we can confidently say that ‘if there is evidence on a company’s ESG performance out there, we will find it.”

ESG Fusion leverages AI to consume large amounts of unstructured data. Via a robust screening and analysis process, the engine transforms the data into an ESG Fusion report that is both intuitive and insightful. To ensure accountability, each report undergoes a review by an ERM expert before being distributed to customers. The new data capabilities from ERM’s partnership with SESAMm will enable ESG Fusion to reproduce “high-quality, outside-in-reports at scale on almost any company worldwide,” according to M&A Advisory Services Global Lead Andrew Radcliff.

In addition to ESG-related adverse events and controversies, ESG Fusion also provides assessments of industry-inherent risk of any given company. The technology also offers an assessment of the company’s management performance with regards to ESG issues, particularly disclosures.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Paris, France, SESAMm made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope 2022 in London. At the conference, the company won Best of Show for its demo of TextReveal, an alternative data platform that leverages SESAMm’s Natural Language Processing powered engine to provide daily sentiment and ESG data mapped to public and private companies.

Earlier this year, SESAMm announced a partnership with Compass Financial Technologies to build a thematic index for cryptocurrencies. In July, the company announced that it was integrating Generative AI into its platform to enhance ESG risk mitigation. SESAMm has raised $54.5 million (€50.5 million) in funding, most recently securing $37.7 million (€35 million) as part of an overall $45.8 million (€42.5 million) Series B round. Sylvain Forté is co-founder and CEO.

Looking to demo your latest fintech innovation? Applications are now being accepted for demoing companies at FinovateEurope in London, February 27 and 28, 2024. Visit our FinovateEurope hub for more!

Photo by Alena Koval

Splitit Goes Private, Motive Partners Acquires Controling Stake

Splitit Goes Private, Motive Partners Acquires Controling Stake
  • Buy now, pay later company Splitit has officially delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange.
  • Accompanying the move, Splitit will receive a $50 million growth investment from Motive Partners.
  • Splitit has already received the first $25 million and will receive the next $25 million after achieving 2023 financial performance milestones.

Four months after announcing its plans to delist from the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), Splitit revealed today that it has officially taken the company private.

The buy now, pay later (BNPL) company delisted from the ASX after closing on half of a $50 million growth round. The new round is comprised of two $25 million installments from funds advised by Motive Partners in exchange for the issuance of new preference shares. Motive Partners will issue the second $25 million tranche after Splitit achieves 2023 financial performance milestones. Splitit said it is currently exceeding these milestones.

“Attracting a strategic investor of this caliber is a testament to the quality of our team and our unique, innovative offering,” said Splitit Managing Director and CEO Nandan Sheth. “Motive’s investment significantly strengthens our balance sheet and brings additional global payments expertise, allowing the team to accelerate our white-label product strategy, product innovation, and our Tier One global distribution partnerships.”

Once the round fully closed, the $50 million will bring Splitit’s total funding to $350 million. The company will use today’s funds to accelerate its growth and support its “strategic plan.” The investment gives Motive Partners a controlling stake in Splitit.

Splitit’s decision to delist from the ASX follows the approval granted by its shareholders last month. The approval encompassed both the voluntary delisting from the ASX and relocating the company’s headquarters from Israel to the Cayman Islands.

According to the company’s announcement from earlier this year, Splitit agreed to delist from the ASX for five primary reasons:

  1. The funds offer growth capital in the midst of a difficult fundraising environment.
  2. The partnership with Motive Partners was especially attractive, given the firm’s resources, network, and talent.
  3. The ASX undervalues Splitit’s business and doesn’t appreciate the company’s “differentiated value proposition and prospects.”
  4. The move to become a private, Cayman Islands-based company will offer Splitit more flexibility and less administrative costs.
  5. The move from the ASX will offer existing shareholders the option to choose to retain ownership in Splitit as a private company or to decrease their ownership in the run-up to the delisting.

Splitit was founded in 2012 under the name PayItSimple. The company’s Installments-as-a-Service offering allows merchants and payment processing firms to embed a white-labeled BNPL option into their checkout flow. Splitit holds partnerships with Atlantic-Pacific Processing Systems, Stripe, Shopify, and Alipay to act as an Installments-as-a-Service option for their merchant clients.

Photo by Tim Mossholder

First Demos Announced for FinovateEurope 2024

First Demos Announced for FinovateEurope 2024

FinovateEurope 2024 takes place at the InterContinental O2 London over February 27 and 28.

FinovateEurope will feature 35+ innovative companies forging the future of fintech across retail banking, sustainability, wealth management, business banking, and more.

Take a look at the first wave of demoers joining in 2024 – this is just the beginning.

Using Delega, companies efficiently manage the cumbersome process of managing banks’ signatory rights, while reducing operational and audit risk.
Easylodge offers a nimble, configurable, and cost-effective origination and loan management platform for new or growing lending operations.
EmbedWealth democratizes wealth with tech that makes wealth simple and accessible to anyone who wants to grow their money.
EQUE’s ecommerce fraud prevention and identity verification solutions secure online transactions, eliminate chargebacks and false declines, and reduce cart abandonment with friction-free, one-click transactions.
The NayaOne Digital Sandbox helps banks, credit unions, and insurers partner with fintechs to accelerate innovation.
NF Innova supports onboarding and lending process automation while driving simple interactions between banks and their clients on any digital touchpoint.
Realmonitor’s white-labeled mobile application eases entering the housing ecosystem for banks and financial institutions using a state-of-the-art, AI-based B2C mobile app for home buyers.
ShareID’s multi-factor authentication software detects the authenticity of government-issued IDs in the digital world, guarantees liveness, and validates all the personal data shared with a simple smile.
SkenarioLabs helps banks, investors, and insurers better understand the links between risk, value and ESG performance for all buildings, everywhere – even those with little or no data.
Taktikal helps SMEs in regulated industries address the risks and regulatory challenges of building and automating digital onboarding and other contractual and compliance-driven processes.
Torus improves financial and operational efficiency through data-driven insights using billing and transactional data companies already have on hand.
Tradelite’s game-based solution improves financial literacy and inclusion while driving user engagement and retention for financial service providers.

Want to join them in February? Apply to demo now.

All In On AI? An New EY Study Reveals Eagerness Among Leaders in Financial Services

All In On AI? An New EY Study Reveals Eagerness Among Leaders in Financial Services

“Fired up and ready to go” is not just for political campaigns any more. According to a new survey from Ernst & Young, that sentiment aptly describes the attitude of a growing number of leaders in financial services when it comes to their eagerness to deploy artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI (GenAI).

How eager? According to Ernst & Young’s 2023 Financial Services GenAI Survey, “nearly all (99%) of the financial services leaders surveyed reported that their organizations were deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in some manner. All respondents said they are either already using, or planning to use, generative AI (GenAI) specifically within their organization.”

Given the popularity of AI and GenAI, overwhelmingly positive responses like these may not be surprising. The FOMO in this field is reminiscent of the dot-com gold rush of more than two decades ago. After all, are many of the companies appending “ai” to their names that much different from their predecessors who donned “.com” back in 1999? Today’s eagerness has a similarly fearlessness. In the EY survey, expressions of anxiety and skepticism about the potential impact of GenAI on their business were few at just over one in five. For what it’s worth, insurers were the most nervous; bankers the least.

Other color pops in the EY Survey included “feeling supportive and optimistic about using AI in their organization” (55%), seeing GenAI “as an overall benefit to financial services within 5 to 10 years” (77%), and believing AI will improve the customer and client experience (87%).

The survey did reveals discontents. And within these discontents are potential opportunities for fintechs, especially those involved in the “picks and shovels” of the AI gold rush. Respondents to the tune of 40% reported that there was a lack of proper data infrastructure for successful deployment of AI solutions. And with regards to technology infrastructure, the survey noted that 35% of respondents believed there were still significant barriers. EY Americas Financial Services Organization Advanced Analytics Leader Sameer Gupta spoke to this problem, noting that while “generative AI holds the potential to revolutionize a broad array of business functions … with each new wave of AI and analytic innovation, it becomes increasingly clear how important it is to have a tech stack with a solid foundation.” Gupta added that it is critical for legacy data and technology to be “unimpeachable” before introducing AI.

Another challenge is talent. The mainstream conversation on AI still orbits concerns about AI-induced job losses. But the real job challenge with regards to AI right now is finding enough people qualified to implement AI-based solutions. “Our data showed that 44% of leaders cited access to skilled resources as a barrier to AI implementation,” EY Americas Financial Services Accounts Managing Partner Michael Fox said, “but there’s only so many already skilled professionals in existence.”

Fortunately, leaders seem to be embracing an AI-enabled future, making it that much more likely that these challenges will be met and overcome. In our own informal surveys with financial professionals, we have learned that buy-in from leadership is seen as key – for everything from DEI initiatives to digital transformation. And it is no surprise that EY has a role to play in making sure this is clear to its financial institution partners. “We like to take an ‘innovation intelligence’ approach to putting artificial intelligence to work,” EY Americas Financial Services Innovation Leader David Kadio-Morokro explained. “Planning, education, and an agile test and learn strategy for implementation are imperative for those looking to make the most of AI’s potential benefits.”

Conducted in August, the 2023 Financial Services GenAI Survey queried 300 financial professionals at the level of Executive or Managing Director or higher. All respondents worked at financial institutions with more than $2 billion in revenue. Organizations in banking, capital markets, insurance, wealth management, and asset management were surveyed, with 100 responses per sector collected.

Photo by Tara Winstead

Icon Solutions Lands New Investment from Citi

Icon Solutions Lands New Investment from Citi
  • Icon Solutions received a strategic investment from Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions.
  • The amount of the recent investment, as well as the amount of the company’s 2020 funding round, are undisclosed.
  • Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions also announced it will expand its use of Icon Solutions’ Icon Payments Framework (IPF) to enhance its ecosystem.

Payments technology and consultancy services company Icon Solutions recently announced it received a new funding installment from Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS).

This marks Icon Solutions’ second funding round since it was founded in 2009. Prior to this round, the company received a Corporate Round in 2020 that was led by JP Morgan Chase. The amounts of both today’s round and the company’s 2020 round were undisclosed.

Citi TTS holds banking licenses in over 90 countries and manages a global network with membership in over 270 clearing systems. Clients use Citi TTS to make payments in 145 currencies. As a key part of today’s partnership, Citi TTS will expand its use of the Icon Payments Framework (IPF) to enhance this ecosystem. Icon Solutions’ IPF is a low-code based framework that enables banks to develop their own payment processing solution.

“We are on a journey to unlock the full potential of the Citi network and respond to the need for a streamlined and efficient payment processing system,” said Citi TTS Head of Payments Debopama Sen. “Through this relationship, we are removing platform complexity across our multiple products by following a process of ‘de-platforming’ common business services and creating reusable and extensible services that can be orchestrated using the IPF framework.”

Part of this “de-platforming” will help Citi remain flexible and accelerate its ability to respond to changes in infrastructure, regulation, and evolving customer expectations. “Our new approach will empower our engineering teams to respond quicker and more efficiently to industry developments, such as ISO 20022, and deliver high-quality innovation and functionality for our clients,” Sen added.

Icon Solutions delivers payment and technology solutions to banks and financial services organizations across the globe, including BNP Paribas, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, and HSBC. The company’s payments platform, IPF, is used by Tier 1 banks to help them accelerate their payments transformation and roll out instant payments around the world.

Photo by Declan Sun on Unsplash

SumUp Scores $306 Million in Equity and Debt to Power Global Expansion

SumUp Scores $306 Million in Equity and Debt to Power Global Expansion
  • SumUp has raised $306 million (€285 million) in combined equity and debt funding.
  • The round was led by Sixth Street Growth. Bain Capital Tech Opportunities, Fin Capital, and Liquidity Capital also participated in the investment.
  • The funding round does not change SumUp’s valuation which, as of June 2022, stood at $8.5 billion (€8 billion).

London-based fintech SumUp has secured $306 million (€285 million) in growth funding. The round was led by Sixth Street Growth and featured participation from Bain Capital Tech Opportunities, Fin Capital, and Liquidity Capital. The company will use the funding, which includes a combination of equity and debt, to support international expansion.

The round reportedly does not change the company’s most recent June 2022 valuation of $8.5 billion (€8 billion). It follows SumUp’s announcement of a $100 million credit facility from Victory Park Capital earlier this year.

In a statement, SumUp CFO Hermione McKee credited the merchants on the company’s platform – more than four million strong – for the company’s growth. “(It) is a direct result of the success of the traders we serve and would not be possible without the unwavering trust and support of the investor community,” McKee said. “This funding gives us additional firepower to pursue growth opportunities and accelerate products that empower small businesses.”

Founded in 2012, SumUp provides businesses of all sizes with affordable payment products and financial services. The company won Best of Show in its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2013, and has since grown into a major payment solutions and point of sale systems provider active in 36 markets around the world. These markets include Australia, where SumUp launched in August.

More recently, the company introduced Tap to Pay on iPhone for SumUp customers in both the U.K. and the Netherlands. This enables SumUp merchants to accept all types of contactless payments using only an iPhone and the SumUp iOS app. No additional hardware is required. SumUp sees the offering as ideal for new and smaller merchants looking to potentially scale their businesses and broaden payment options for customers. SumUp Senior Strategic Growth Manager Giovanni Barbieri underscored the technology’s ability to support financial inclusion. “I am especially pleased with the exceptional functionality of the product and the fact (that) it lowers barriers to entry, with the potential to fuel entrepreneurship.”

This spring, SumUp launched its multi-product subscription offering, SumUp One. The new solution amalgamates the company’s product suite in a single, unified solution for merchants. SumUp One initially launched in Italy and the U.K.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba

Scalable Capital Raises $64.7 Million

Scalable Capital Raises $64.7 Million
  • Scalable Capital received $64.7 million (€60 million) in a venture round led by Balderton Capital.
  • The new funds boost Scalable Capital’s total funding to $352 million (€326 million).
  • Scalable Capital is facing new competition, with U.S.-based stock brokerage app Robinhood entering the market this fall.

Digital investment platform Scalable Capital landed some capital of its own this week. The broker and roboadvisor announced it received $64.7 million (€60 million) in a venture round led by Balderton Capital.

The round, which saw participation from HV Capital’s new growth fund and existing investors, is an extension of the company’s 2021 Series E fund. Today’s investment boosts Scalable Capital’s Series E Round to $227 million (€210 million) and brings its total funds to $352 million (€326 million).

According to TechCrunch, Scalable Capital’s valuation with the new round sits at $1.4 billion, the same valuation the company held at its 2021 Series E round.

The Germany-based company will use today’s investment to grow its investment platform and to “capitalize on its position as a leading provider of easy and cost effective investing solutions for retail clients.”

Founded in 2014, Scalable Capital has a mission to empower everyone to become an investor. The company, which is active in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK., has 600,000+ users who currently hold $17.3 billion (€16 billion) in stocks, ETFs, derivatives, bonds, commodities and crypto on its platform. The fintech’s cost for brokerage range from free to $5.39 (€4.99) per month. For users who prefer an automated approach, Scalable Capital also has a roboadvisor offering that has a varied fee structure based on the client’s holdings.

Earlier this year, Scalable Capital launched Credit, a tool that offers users access to secured loans in the Scalable Brokerage product. Residents of Germany can buy additional securities or withdraw a personal loan without having to liquidate existing positions.

As part of today’s fundng announcement, Balderton Capital General Partner Rana Yared will join Scalable Capital’s board. “Scalable’s one-stop, digital-first, wealth building and generating platform brings a suite of top-class financial products to individuals across Europe, and is unparalleled in the market. We’ve been impressed by Erik, Florian, and team’s vision and execution to date and are delighted to be supporting them in this next chapter.”

Scalable Capital recently began facing new competition in the European wealthtech market, as U.S. stock brokerage app Robinhood launched operations in the U.K. Today, the California-based company unveiled it will offer crypto trading for its European Union-based users.

Photo by Monstera Production

Brim Financial Adds Open Banking Capabilities to its Credit-Card-as-a-Service Offering

Brim Financial Adds Open Banking Capabilities to its Credit-Card-as-a-Service Offering
  • Brim Financial has partnered with Mastercard.
  • Brim Financial will embed Mastercard’s open banking capabilities into its own platform.
  • “This partnership with Mastercard will be transformational for companies seeking a sophisticated, modern credit card platform to better serve their customers,” said Brim Financial Founder and CEO Rasha Katabi.

Credit-card-as-a-service Brim Financial announced it has partnered with Mastercard this week. Under the partnership, which aims to fuel innovation in U.S. credit card platforms, Brim will embed Mastercard’s open banking capabilities into its own platform.

“There is significant momentum happening in the U.S. market when it comes to innovating credit card infrastructure across consumer, small-and-medium-sized-business, and commercial segments,” said Brim Financial Founder and CEO Rasha Katabi. “This partnership with Mastercard will be transformational for companies seeking a sophisticated, modern credit card platform to better serve their customers.”

Canada-based Brim was founded in 2015 and provides a credit-card-as-a-service offering for organizations including Air France KLM and Canadian Western Bank. With Brim’s platform, clients can deploy, run, and scale their own branded commercial and consumer credit card offering quickly.

By adding Mastercard’s open banking capabilities to its platform, Brim will provide clients with a more seamless payment experience by embedding payment solutions across its end-to-end platform. “In partnership with Brim, we’re able to help our customers and partners remain competitive, with innovative payment solutions that create seamless, secure experiences,” explained Mastercard EVP of North America Business Development Hunter Woolley.

Mastercard became more involved in the open banking scene after it acquired Finicity in 2020 in an $825 million deal. Mastercard currently partners with brands including Brex, LoanPro, and Experian to help connect their customers’ permissioned financial data to their app. Mastercard is currently connected with 95% of financial institution accounts in the U.S.

Photo by Ron Lach

What Will Be the Top Fintech Trend in 2024? Hint: It’s Not AI.

What Will Be the Top Fintech Trend in 2024? Hint: It’s Not AI.

When it comes to predicting the next leap in fintech, you have to risk not only getting things wrong, but also being ok with it. So while I could play it safe and predict that the top fintech trend in 2024 will be AI, or industry consolidation, or even growth in the use of buy now, pay later tools, I’m going to step into less charted territory and say that the 2024 fintech buzzword will be quantum computing.

Why quantum computing?

The concept of leveraging quantum computing in financial services is dated; it has been around since the early 2000s. However, there are three main factors why 2024 may be the year the conversation around this topic really takes off.

  1. Cost savings opportunities
    Banks and other industry players are currently in a wrestling match with today’s economic environment, the expensive cost of capital, and an increase in competitors vying for customer attention. This, combined with an onslaught of new regulatory constraints that not only restrict operations but also result in new costs, has banks looking for new ways to both cut costs and add new revenue streams. Quantum computing’s promise to help firms increase speed, efficiency, and decrease risk appears to be a green field of revenue opportunity for organizations across the sector.
  2. Technological demands
    The financial services industry loves generative AI, but even though it is the hottest topic in fintech at the moment, it comes with its own set of restrictions. Because it relies on enormous sets of data to work effectively, generative AI requires scalable computing power. As the use of AI evolves and data sets become increasingly larger and more complex, quantum computing may become a requirement to train AI models quickly.
  3. Hardware developments
    Developments in quantum computing hardware have been slow over the past few years, making the technology inaccessible and unreasonable, even for larger financial services firms. IBM may be changing this, however. Earlier this month, the computing giant unveiled its latest computing chip, Condor, that has 1,121 superconducting qubits and can perform computations beyond the reach of traditional computers. IBM also released Heron, a chip with 133 qubits that boasts a lower error rate.

    Along with these hardware releases, IBM also unveiled its development roadmap for quantum computing, which pegs 2024 for the launch of its code assistant and platform.
Image courtesy of IBM

What to expect in 2024?

Let me be clear that next year won’t be the year that financial services organizations experience widespread adoption of quantum computing. The industry has a long road ahead when it comes to leveraging the new technology and will face challenges with hardware stability, algorithm development, and security.

Despite these challenges, we will see a small handful of larger firms dabble in quantum computing in 2024. Many already are. Earlier this year, Truist Financial joined IBM’s Quantum accelerator program and MUFG purchased an 18% stake in a quantum computing startup called Groovenauts. And just today, HSBC announced it has implemented quantum protection for AI-powered foreign exchange trading, using quantum cryptography to safeguard trading data against cyber threats and quantum attacks.

These firms’ developments in quantum computing will spark conversation and development plans among mid-market firms. It is the conversation– rather than the implementation– around quantum computing that will burgeon in 2024.

Use cases in financial services

So how will firms end up using quantum computing? Specifically, the new technology will enable organizations to develop better algorithms around risk assessment, portfolio optimization, encryption, and security.

In the coming years, as quantum computing chips become more accessible, we’ll see use cases including faster transaction processing for high-frequency trading and settlement systems, customer behavior analysis and personalized financial services, and financial modeling that can more accurately predict market behavior and economic scenarios.

Photo by Dynamic Wang on Unsplash