Finovate Global Philippines: Insurtech, SuperApps, and Turning Corner Shops into Banking Hubs

Finovate Global Philippines: Insurtech, SuperApps, and Turning Corner Shops into Banking Hubs

Philippines-based digital bank Tonik has entered the insurance business. The neobank announced a new strategic partnership this week with life insurance company Sun Life Grepa Financial, Inc. (Sun Life Grepa).

The partnership will enable Tonik to offer its customers Payhinga, a credit life and disability insurance product. Payhinga gives policyholders access to life and disability insurance with coverage of up to 120% of the loan amount. Further, policyholders can use a two-month payment holiday to reschedule upcoming loan payments in the event of financial difficulty.

“The partnership with Sun Life Grepa will significantly expand our suite of products, and insurance is a highly sought-after addition our customers have been requesting,” Tonik Country President Long Pineda said.

The Philippines’ first, digital-only neobank, Tonik offers loan, deposit, and payment products to consumers via its digital banking platform. The bank teamed up with FC Home Center, launching its Shop Installment Loan with the retailer in August. In June, Tonik announced that it had reached the one million customer milestone. Greg Krasnov (CEO) founded Tonik in 2020.

Speaking of digital banks based in the Philippines, UNO Digital Bank is teaming up with Collabera Digital. A digital engineering services provider, Collabera Digital will help the bank develop and integrate a mini app within superapp GCash.

Collabera Digital provided the strategy to address key issues such as AML and KYC, and built an integrated API platform. The leading superapp in the Philippines, GCash provides a wide range of financial services including money transfer, billpay, savings, investments, insurance, lending, and more. UNO Digital Bank’s integration into GCash will boost access to financial services to individuals across the socio-economic spectrum. The integration also supports the growth of the digital economy via services like mobile banking and digital wallets.

“Our partnership with GCash is significant in scaling and increasing our customer reach,” founder and CEO of UNO Digital Bank Manish Bhai said. “As a greenfield bank, built independently of a larger traditional institution, we have to be innovative in identifying opportunities to grow and expand. GCash, with their 90+ million users and active thrust towards financial inclusion, is a great partner leading to a win-win proposition for both the entities.”

UNO Digital Bank was founded in 2021 and is headquartered in Taguig, a city in the Manila metropolitan area. The institution had total assets of $29 million (PHP 1.78 billion) as of end of year 2022.

What are fintechs in the Philippines doing for small businesses? Merchant fintech platform yufin announced a series of partnerships this week designed to bring new services to Philippines-based merchants. The new additions to yufin’s partnership ecosystem include wholesaler Lots for Less, delivery firm Transportify, and streaming content company Vivamax.

Shubhrendu Khoche, President and co-founder of yufin Philippines, noted that the new partnerships will drive greater digital adoption by businesses throughout the value chain. “As the financial growth engine for small merchants, these new partnerships will create more reasons for digital payment for our small merchants, their shoppers, and suppliers,” Khoche explained.

Founded in 2021, yufin aims to raise the income of 10 million households at least by 50% in the next five years. The company’s partnership ecosystem helps turn small, corner shops into preferred banking and credit hubs for their customers. With a goal of partnering rather than competing with local banks, yufin offers assisted digital financial services that enable underserved communities to leverage technology to improve financial outcomes.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South Africa’s Lipa Payments secured full SDK certification for Tap to Phone from both Visa and Mastercard.
  • Kenyan fintech and mobility solutions company Data Integrated won approval to operate as a Payment Service Provider from the country’s central bank.
  • Stitch, a business payments company based in South Africa, raised $25 million in Series A funding.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • German B2B Buy Now Pay Later payments provider Mondu registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
  • Polish fintech Verestro integrated the Quicko Wallet money transfer service within the Slack application.
  • Cloover, a climate-based fintech based in Germany, raised €7 million in pre-seed funding.

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian fintech Aurionpro acquired loan management system Omnifin for $9.8 million.
  • Pakistan-based SadaPay enabled Apple Pay invoicing for freelancers in the country.
  • Indian credit card company Slice earned the approval of the Reserve Bank of India to merge with North East Small Finance Bank.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Digital banking and payments solutions provider i2c announced a partnership with Peru’s Banco de Credito.
  • Payments platform Airwallex inked an agreement to acquire Mexico-based payment service provider MexPago.
  • Chile-based fintech Forpay launched a new feature that enables companies to directly charge bank accounts with requiring intermediaries.


  • Vietnam’s Lien Viet Post Joint Stock Commercial Bank (LPBank) teamed up with Temenos to update its core banking platform.
  • International payments provider Nium expanded its B2B travel payments offering in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • BigPay teamed up with payments platform Thredd to support its expansion into Thailand.

Photo by Meo Fernando

Lloyds Bank Taps Visa for Virtual Card Solution

Lloyds Bank Taps Visa for Virtual Card Solution
  • Lloyds Bank has partnered with Visa to leverage the payment firm’s Visa Commercial Pay virtual card program.
  • Visa Commercial Pay is available to Lloyds Bank’s business customers.
  • The new tool aims to help businesses control spending, reconcile invoices, and report on expenditures.

In a world where digital banking reigns supreme, digital payment tools are king. That’s likely the motivation behind Lloyds Bank’s recent deal with Visa. The U.K.-based bank has tapped the U.S. payments giant to power its new virtual card solution.

Lloyds Bank’s is launching a new virtual card tool for businesses, Visa Commercial Pay, and is the first bank to launch Visa Commercial Pay in the U.K. The new tool aims to help small businesses to enterprises solve their purchasing and administrative challenges. For example, the solution can help them control spending, reconcile invoices, and report on expenditures.

“Visa Commercial Pay is a next generation payment platform that provides the technology to help businesses simplify and streamline the way they make payments, all in a secure and controlled way,” said Visa Managing Director, U.K. & Ireland Mandy Lamb. “We’re delighted to launch this in the U.K. in partnership with Lloyds Bank, delivering seamless payment experiences for U.K. businesses.”

Visa Commercial Pay works like most typical virtual cards in that it instantly issues virtual card numbers to businesses and their employees, allowing them to make card-not-present purchases right away. Employees can request a single or multi-use card number through their employer’s existing approval workflow and reference fields.

Employers have the option to issue cards individually or by batch and can manage spending via controls based on location, time, purchaser, and merchant.

“We’ve worked hard to create a solution that offers a secure, simplified process that enables businesses to pay their suppliers earlier while protecting their working capital,” said Lloyds Bank Head of Commercial Cards James Sykes.

Virtual card issuance has seen a spike amongst business users in the past few years. Not only has their utility increased with the rise of the digital economy, but the security of the cards has also proven a key benefit. That’s because many cards are issued for one-time or limited use, which reduces the risk for fraud and unauthorized transactions. Additionally, the control, visibility, and reporting capabilities the cards offer employers makes virtual cards a clear choice, especially among small businesses with limited resources.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Finovate Global India: Conversational AI Comes to UPI, Debt-Collection-as-a-Service Scores $50 Million

Finovate Global India: Conversational AI Comes to UPI, Debt-Collection-as-a-Service Scores $50 Million

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced a number of new fintech initiatives this week. Among the more interesting was a plan to bring AI-powered, conversational payments to the country’s UPI (Unified Payments Interface) system.

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) launched the platform in 2016. Today, UPI has more than 300 million monthly active users in India. There are also 500 million merchants who use the platform to accept payments. With UPI, users can link multiple bank accounts to a single mobile app, and then make real-time, P2P transactions via mobile device or smartphone. Analysts expect daily transaction volume on UPI to reach one billion by 2026-2027.

The proposal would enable users to initiate payments from within both chat and messaging apps. “As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly integrated into the digital economy, conversational instructions hold immense potential in enhancing ease of use, and consequently reach, of the UPI system,” the RBI press release read. “It is, therefore, proposed to launch an innovative payment mode viz., ‘Conversational Payments’ on UPI, that will enable users to engage in a conversation with an AI-powered system to initiate and complete transactions in a safe and secure environment.”

Conversational Payments will be available initially in Hindi and English, with other Indian languages to be added. The technology will be available via smartphones and feature phone-based UPI channels, which the Reserve Bank of India believes will lead to broader adoption and further financial inclusion. To this end, the RBI has also proposed to bring Near Field Communications (NFC) technology to its UPI-Lite on-device wallet. Launched last fall, UPI-Lite is designed to facilitate small value transactions and now processes more than ten million transactions a month.

An investment of $50 million has given Indian debt collection software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform Credgenics a valuation of $340 million. Accel, Westbridge Capital, Tanglin Ventures, Beams Fintech Fund, and other strategic investors participated in the Series B round.

Company co-founder and CEO Rishabh Goel said that the capital would do more than just help the firm expand into new markets. “This funding not only accelerates our growth, but also enables us to make a meaningful impact on the economic landscape of countries, unlocking new opportunities for financial well-being,” Goel said.

Founded in 2019, Credgenics currently serves more than 100 private banks, non-bank financial companies, fintechs, and asset reconstruction companies. The company’s debt resolution platform provides a suite of solutions including digital collections, collections analytics, litigation management, agent performance management, and a field collections mobile app. The technology leverages AI-driven intelligent automation and machine learning to bring greater efficiency to the collections process.

Credgenics handles 11 million retail loan accounts and touched an overall loan book worth $60 billion in fiscal year 2023. The company became operationally profitable this spring. This summer, Credegnics announced a partnership with Indonesia-based lender Investree. The company also was recognized as the Best Selling Loan Collections Platform in IBS Intelligence India Sales League Table for the second year in a row.

There are more than 3,000 recognized fintech startups in India. And the Indian government is giving itself a gentle pat on the back for helping make that happen.

Minister of State for Corporate Affairs (independent charge) Rao Inderjit Singh provided the report to Parliament as part of the Startup India initiative. Launched by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade in 2016, this initiative establishes the criteria that confers recognition by the Department. These factors include data of incorporation, as well as revenue and profit benchmarks.

Singh pointed to the “Fintech Entity Framework” as an example of one of the actions taken by the government – in this case the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) – to promote the country’s fintech startup ecosystem. This framework includes a comprehensive scheme of grants for startups, sandboxes, proof-of-concepts (PoC), accelerators, and more.

Singh also credited the government for the success of an initiative which streamlined beneficiary account opening and direct benefit transfers, and improved access to multiple financial services applications. The initiative is called the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), meaning “The Prime Minister’s Public Finance Scheme,” and it set a new world record for account openings upon its launch in 2014. This spring, the initiative reached a major milestone of more than $28 billion (₹2 lakh crore) in deposits.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Sub-Saharan Africa

Photo by Sagar Soneji

Car IQ Turns to Visa to Power In-Vehicle Merchant Payments

Car IQ Turns to Visa to Power In-Vehicle Merchant Payments
  • Vehicle payment platform Car IQ partnered with Visa to power its in-vehicle merchant payments solution, Car IQ Pay Vehicle Wallet.
  • The partnership will enable wallet users to pay for fuel, tools, parking, insurance, service, and repairs without requiring a physical card.
  • Analysts expect the connected vehicle market to reach $600 billion by 2030.

Payment platform for vehicles, Car IQ, has partnered with Visa. The San Francisco-based company is working with the payments and credit card giant to power its in-vehicle merchant payments solution, Car IQ Pay Vehicle Wallet. The partnership will enable vehicles to transact directly with Visa’s global merchant and bank network. The Car IQ Pay Vehicle Wallet can then be used to pay for fuel, tools, parking, insurance, service, EV charging, and repairs.

“Our collaboration with Visa allows us to accelerate the adoption of vehicle payments and make them a seamless part of the fleet experience today, and the consumer experience of the future,” Car IQ CEO Sterling Pratz said. “Our vehicle wallet allows banks and merchants to trust payments from vehicles as well as any other IoT device, over the Visa network.”

The addition of vehicle data is a key component of the partnership. This data supports new contextual payment experiences including real-time offers and personalized rewards for drivers, merchants, or even entire fleets. Car IQ’s Know Your Machine technology authenticates a machine’s identity in order to enable vehicles of all types to transact directly with merchants.

A recent study from Ptolemus Consulting Group noted that the connected vehicle payment market could reach $600 billion by 2030. In a statement, Veronica Fernandez, North American Head of Visa Business Solutions, added that the total spend for commercial fleet payments is more than $80 billion. This sum includes cash, checks, ACH, as well as traditional fleet car payments. Fernandez said that the collaboration with Car IQ will help “drive growth of vehicle-based payments that allow users to take control of their fleet business through enhanced and timely data capabilities that allow for real-time business decisions.”

Car IQ is also partnering with automobile OEMs to embed payments within consumer vehicles. The company’s Car IQ Pay in-dash vehicle wallet, for example, connects to merchants on Visa’s network, enabling payments directly from the car’s infotainment system. Pratz noted that while its efforts are focused on vehicles, there’s more to the Car IQ platform than making payments from cars. “Our platform is designed to easily support any IoT device payment, and we are already seeing interest for connected ‘smart’ city applications and believe the connected home will be next,” Pratz said.

More than 25,000 fuel stations in the U.S accept the company’s Car IQ Pay solution. In June, Car IQ announced a partnership with PDI Technologies to process commercial fleet transactions. In March, the company worked with the United States Auto Club (USAC) to sponsor the “The Fab Four” racing competition for female drivers.

Founded in 2017, Car IQ has raised $42 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. In February, the company secured $15 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. Car IQ began the year teaming up with BlackBerry IVY to launch its in-dash vehicle wallet.

Photo by Pixabay

Visa Acquires Pismo to Become Core Banking Provider

Visa Acquires Pismo to Become Core Banking Provider
  • Visa is acquiring Brazil-based Pismo for $1 billion in an all-cash deal.
  • The purchase will help Visa add core banking capabilities and support banks in connecting to emerging payment rails.
  • Pismo has raised $118 million.

Visa is doubling down on financial infrastructure with its latest acquisition. The company announced today it has purchased payments infrastructure platform Pismo for $1 billion. The all-cash deal is expected to close by the end of this year.

Brazil-based Pismo was founded in 2016 and offers its core banking, payments, and lending solutions across Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Europe. The company has seen an impressive amount of growth since 2020. In total, the company services almost 80 million accounts and 40+ million payment cards for its end customers. Annually, Pismo processes around 50 billion API calls for transactions totaling $40 billion. Among its clients are Citi, Itaú, Revolut, N26, Nubank, and Cora. Prior to today’s acquisition, Pismo had raised $118 million.

Visa anticipates Pismo will help it in providing core banking and issuer processing capabilities across debit, prepaid, credit and commercial cards via cloud native APIs. Visa will also be able to leverage Pismo’s platform to provide banks support and connectivity to emerging payment rails.

“Through the acquisition of Pismo, Visa can better serve our financial institution and fintech clients with more differentiated core banking and issuer solutions they can offer their customers,” said Visa Chief Product and Strategy Officer Jack Forestell.

The Pismo deal marks Visa’s first acquisition in two years. Prior to today’s announcement, Pismo’s most recent acquisitions took place in 2021, when the company bought Currencycloud for $883 million (£700 million) and Tink for $2.15 billion (£1.8 billion).

Finovate Global Colombia: Innovations in Payments Security and the Blockchain

Finovate Global Colombia: Innovations in Payments Security and the Blockchain

This week’s edition of Finovate Global looks at recent fintech news from Colombia.

The largest Spanish-speaking country in South America, Colombia is located in the northwest corner of the continent. With a population of more than 52 million, Colombia has the third largest economy in South America and the fourth largest in Latin America. More than 11 million people live in the country’s capital city of Bogota.

Earlier this year, the Colombian government indicated its support for open banking and open finance. Specifically, the government included the establishment of an open banking scheme as part of its National Development Plan. The fact that the current government endorsed an initiative that began with the previous administration was seen as an especially constructive sign for the future of open banking and open finance in Colombia.

One way to keep up with fintech news from Colombia is via Colombia Fintech. With information in both Spanish and English, Colombia Fintech is an association of fintech companies based in Colombia. The association provides news on Colombian fintechs, updates on relevant developments on the government and regulatory front, as well as opportunities for networking. Colombia Fintech counts more than 240 members in its community. The association was formed in 2016.

As for recent Colombian fintech news, Bogota-based payments and data security company Intexus announced a partnership with security software company Entrust this week. Intexus will use Entrust’s digital card and instant issuance technology to support its card-as-a-service solution. The partnership is designed to enable banks and credit unions in Latin America to benefit from a unified payment card program.

“We have long been in the digital era and today’s consumers are accustomed to having resources at their fingertips instantaneously,” Intexus CEO David Rojas said. “Our partnership with Entrust allows us to simplify payment enablement for our bank and credit union customers throughout Latin America so they can focus on building relationships with their cardholders and members.”

Intexus serves clients in eight Latin American countries and issues more than 100,000 cards a month. The company was founded in 1997. Entrust provides solutions to help businesses offer trusted experiences for identity, payments, and data. Founded in 1969, the company has been a Finovate alum since 2015 when it presented its technology as part of our developers conference, FinDEVr SiliconValley.

Speaking of partnerships between Finovate alums and Colombian financial interests, we also learned this week that Ripple has entered into a new collaboration with the country’s central bank. As reported in CoinDesk, Banco de la República will test the effectiveness of Ripple’s CBDC platform to enhance Colombia’s high-value payments system. The pilot is being conducted in partnership with the country’s Ministry for the Information and Communications Technologies (MinTIC). Spanish blockchain company Peersyst Technology is also participating.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate the platform’s ability to improve the speed and reduce costs for large scale, wholesale payments, RTGS systems and similar operations, Joe Vollono, a director of CBDC business development at Ripple indicated. The project is scheduled to continue through the end of the year, and is being conducted in a controlled environment without compromising public resources.

As noted in The Paypers coverage of the announcement, Ripple previously partnered with Colombia last year to put land titles on the blockchain as part of a land redistribution program. Peersyst Technology was also a part of this initiative to permanently store and authenticate property titles on Ripple’s public blockchain.

Founded in 2012, Ripple made its Finovate debut as OpenCoin at FinovateSpring the following year. Rebranded as Ripple in 2015, the company has since grown into an innovative payment protocol and exchange network. Use cases of the company’s technology range from cross-border payments to crypto liquidity to CBDCs. Ripple’s customers include Novatti, Modulr, and Siam Commercial Bank. Chris Larsen is CEO.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Ripple announced a collaboration with the Central Bank of Colombia
  • Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions teamed up with Brazil-based banking and payments software company Pismo.
  • Security software company Entrust partnered with Colombia’s Intexus to enhance payments for banks in Latin America.


Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

  • PKO Bank Polski unveiled a new system of valued-added services (VAS).
  • Austrian fintech Vipaso (Vienna Payment Solutions) teamed up with Visa to launch a new app, ViennaPay.
  • France’s Market Pay agreed to acquire Poland-based payments technology company Novelpay.

Middle East and Northern Africa

Photo by Santiago Boada

Finovate Global France: Automating Payments, Extending Loans, and Collaborating on Crypto

Finovate Global France: Automating Payments, Extending Loans, and Collaborating on Crypto

This week’s edition of Finovate Global takes a look at recent fintech developments involving companies headquartered in France.

First up is news that European Buy Now, Pay Later firm Alma has partnered with BNP Paribas and new Finovate alum Numeral to automate payments.

“As part of our goal to create the most fluid and seamless experience for both merchants and customers, paying our 11,000 and growing merchants reliably and efficiently is critical,” Alma COO and co-founder Guillaume Desloges said. “Numeral enables us to scale with confidence and focus on our core business.”

Alma Finance and Strategy Senior Manager Simon Shohet explained that the integration of Numeral into both its systems as well as BNP Paribas’ systems, audit trails, and approval rules will enable automation of the process of managing “thousands of daily payments at scale.” Shohet added, “Thanks to Numeral, we can focus on the most critical incidents and rapidly solve merchant’s issues.”

Alma plans to eventually use Numeral’s platform to become a SEPA participant via BNP Paribas. This would enable Alma to issue IBANs in its own name, a strategic advantage for the firm.

Numeral made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in London earlier this year. At the conference, the Paris-based company showed how financial institutions can leverage Numeral’s platform to automatically send, receive, and reconcile SEPA payments. The platform also enables financial institutions to manage payment errors via SEPA R transactions. The company is on track to process €5B in 2023.

Also this week, we learned that Revolut will begin offering customer credit products in France at the end of the month. The company announced that consumer loans will be available to Revolut’s more than two million French users starting on May 30th.

Revolut currently offers lending products in other European markets. These markets include Ireland, Lithuania, and Romania. Mortgage products are not part of the current package. But Revolut VP of Growth Antoine Le Nel said that these products are in the pipeline.

Thanks to Revolut’s embrace of open banking, prospective borrowers will be able to apply for loans without having to deal with hardcopy paperwork. Instead, applicants will get virtual “instant feedback” on their loan requests. Loans come with zero opening fees and are available from as low as €1,000 to as high as €50,000. Terms range from three months to 84 months and interest rates range from a low of 3.9% to 21.12%.

France has earned a reputation for being friendly to the cryptocurrency industry. This week’s news of a partnership between Canada’s Advanced Payment Solutions (APS), Cyprus’ Armenotech, and France’s Tempo France is another modest testament to this.

Back in at the beginning of the year, Armenotech and payments company Tempo Finance teamed up to develop an ecosystem supported by the Stellar blockchain. This week, we learn that London-based Advanced Payment Solutions has joined the pact.

APS CEO Serik Igbayev highlighted the importance of giving businesses the ability to work with traditional and digital assets. And in a statement, Igbayev praised the partnership with Armenotech for playing a key role in making this happen. “Clients increasingly demonstrate a demand for services that would enable them to operate both traditional and digital assets, combining various payment methods,” Igbayev said. “We have successfully been using state-of-the-art Armenotech solutions to meet this demand.” These solutions included tools that facilitate the conversion between fiat and digital assets, as well as products for fraud protection, security, KYC, and ALM.

Tempo France is serving as the corporate payment operator for the alliance. Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Paris, Tempo France provides a fast and secure bridge between cash and cryptocurrencies. The company offers online, offline, and digitally backed remittances to nearly 100 countries with more than 300 physical agent locations. Alla Zhedik is CEO.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Photo by Chait Goli

PayPal and Venmo Pilot P2P Payments Interoperability Tool, Visa+

PayPal and Venmo Pilot P2P Payments Interoperability Tool, Visa+
  • Visa is launching Visa+, a peer-to-peer payments interoperability tool.
  • PayPal and Venmo are piloting the launch.
  • Visa partners DailyPay, i2c, TabaPay, and Western Union will also integrate Visa+ within their platforms.

Fintech has solved a lot of problems by creating a multitude of different peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps. In so doing, however, it has also created a problem– the platforms are not interoperable. Many people use different payment apps, and they don’t all work together. Visa is seeking to solve this issue with its new launch, Visa+, which helps users move money between different P2P payment apps.

Piloting the launch of Visa+ are PayPal and Venmo. After setting up a personalized payment address linked to their Venmo or PayPal account, users of either app can send and receive payments between the two platforms. Visa+ serves as the backend infrastructure behind the transfer.

PayPal and Venmo users will be able to begin using Visa+ later this year. Visa partners DailyPay, i2c, TabaPay, and Western Union will also integrate Visa+ within their platforms. The addition of new apps and platforms will not only increase the reach of Visa+, but it will also have the potential to add new use cases– such as payouts for gig workers, creators, and online marketplace sellers.

“Consumers continue to seek simple and seamless ways to digitally move money between friends and family, including the ability to send money between different payment platforms,” said Visa Global Head of New Payment Flows Chris Newkirk. “We are thrilled to partner with like-minded innovators to broaden the reach of P2P payments across platforms. Through this collaboration, Visa+ can help break down barriers for payment app users as they connect, engage and move money.”

While PayPal and Venmo are as good a starting point as any for P2P payments interoperability, there are many other players– Square Cash, Zelle, Google Wallet, and Apple Wallet– that should be added to maximize the utility of Visa+ and make it an everyday tool for U.S. users. Visa expects to launch Visa+ with select partners in late 2023. The company is planning general availability in mid-2024, so we may see additional partners in the later launch.

Photo by Brett Sayles

Visa Partnership Fuels Wirex Crypto Card Issuance

Visa Partnership Fuels Wirex Crypto Card Issuance
  • Wirex deepened its partnership with Visa.
  • The new agreement enables Wirex to issue its crypto debit and prepaid cards to more than 40 countries.
  • The company is working on finalizing another partnership that will facilitate card issuance in Australia.

Cryptocurrency payments company Wirex unveiled a strategic partnership with Visa this week. The agreement makes Wirex a member of Visa in the U.K. and in the Asia Pacific region and will enable the fintech to issue its crypto debit and prepaid cards to more than 40 countries.

The two players began their partnership at Wirex’s launch in 2015, when the U.K.-based company unveiled its crypto-enabled Visa card. The payment card enables users to buy, hold, exchange, and sell 150 currencies– from traditional to cryptocurrencies. Additionally, Wirex customers can use their Visa card to spend their currency holdings at live rates at more than 80 million locations where Visa is accepted.

In addition to the live crypto-to-fiat conversion, Wirex offers free international ATM withdrawals, zero monthly fees, free fiat-to-fiat exchanges, and up to 8% back in crypto rewards on every purchase.

“It’s great to strengthen our partnership with Visa, who have played an important role in allowing us to bridge the gap between the traditional and digital economies,” said Wirex APAC Regional Managing Director Svyatoslav Garal. “Visa’s proven commitment to safety, security and innovation will help us to continue developing a next-generation app and card.”

The partnership aligns well for payments giant Visa, which is working to position its brand in the Web3 space. “Visa wants to bring more payment options to consumers by connecting digital currencies with our network of banks and merchants,” said Visa Head of Digital Partnerships, Asia Pacific Matt Wood. “We’re excited that Wirex is expanding their focus on Asia Pacific, making it easy and seamless for people to spend their crypto balance at the millions of merchants that accept Visa in the region.”

Wirex was founded 2014 by Pavel Matveev and Dmitry Lazarichev. Since then, the company has raised $27.8 million in funding and facilitated more than $20 billion in crypto transactions. Wirex, which expanded to the U.S. last year, said it plans to make a partnership announcement “in the coming weeks” that will facilitate card issuance in Australia.

Finovate Global VC Edition: Quona Capital Backs Financial Inclusion in Emerging Markets with New Fund

Finovate Global VC Edition: Quona Capital Backs Financial Inclusion in Emerging Markets with New Fund

Good news for fintech startups in developing markets! Quona Capital recently announced that it has closed its latest fintech fund, its third, at $332 million. The venture capital firm, which specializes in emerging markets, noted that the amount raised topped its target of $250 million. The new fund, Fund III, will be focused on companies that are developing technologies that expand access to financial services for consumers and businesses in regions ranging from Latin America and India to Southeast Asia, MENA, and Africa.

“Since our earliest days, Quona has been dedicated to expanding the frontiers of financial inclusion – investing with conviction in markets and technology-enabled models improving access and quality of financial services for the masses,” Quona co-founding managing partner Monica Brand Engel said in a statement. “Our prior fund performance, robust pipeline of inclusive fintechs, and growing LP interest in our offerings are ringing endorsements of our view on the prospects of impact-oriented venture investing in emerging markets.”

With aggregate capital of more than $745 million, Fund II is the firm’s third fund since Quona Capital was launched in 2015. Those contributing to the fund as investors include global asset managers, insurance companies, both investment and commercial banks, endowments, foundations, family offices, and more. And while many of the investors in Fund III have invested in Quona Capital funds previously, the new fund did receive capital from 20 new investors, as well.

According to Quona Capital, the startups in its portfolio have served nearly nine million small and medium-sized businesses and over 30 million retail customers. Quona Capital startups have raised nearly $4 billion in capital and generated more than $800 million in revenues. Among these firms are India-based consumer lending company ZestMoney, Southeast Asia-based fintech marketplace ula, and long-time international remittance firm and long-time Finovate alum Azimo – which was acquired by Papaya Global earlier this year.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian neobank ZikZuk acquired tax e-filing platform TaxSpanner.
  • National Bank of Pakistan turned to Finastra to enhance its trade finance operations.
  • Lentra, a fintech based in India, secured $60 million in Series B funding for its loans-as-a-service business for banks.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • AstroPay introduced its Mastercard prepaid card in Brazil.
  • Mexico-based B2B payments company Mendel raised $60 million in new funding.
  • Brazil’s Agrolend, which provides credit to the country’s farmers, secured $27 million in Series B funding.


  • Ant Group introduced its Buy Now, Pay later offering in Hong Kong.
  • Vietnam-based Sacombank partnered with Temenos to enhance digital banking.
  • Philippines-based neobank Tonik unveiled its all-digital lending products, Flex Loan and Big Loan.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigerian fintech Paga unveiled its Visa-branded card this week.
  • Pan-African paytech Cellulant secured a Payment Systems Operator license from the National Bank of Uganda
  • Samsung South Africa launched its digital wallet, Samsung Wallet.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Polish fintech Ramp locked in $70 million in Series B funding to build payment rails for cryptocurrency investors.
  • Co-investment platform for European startups SeedBlink secured licensing from the Romanian Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF).
  • Genome, an Electronic Money Institution based in Lithuania, partnered with Entrust to simplify digital payments.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • UAE-based Wio Bank went live with Mambu’s cloud-native banking platform.
  • Pyppl, a financial services platform based in the UAE, raised $20 million in Series B funding.
  • Saudi Arabia’s central bank presented its open banking framework.

Photo by Ricky Gálvez

Square Taps Visa for Instant Transfers in Canada

Square Taps Visa for Instant Transfers in Canada
  • Visa is expanding its integration with Square’s instant transfer feature into Canada.
  • Square’s Canadian merchant clients can access their funds in real time, instead of waiting for the next business day.
  • Instant transfers are enabled by Visa Direct, a VisaNet processing capability that facilitates real-time delivery of funds.

One of the themes at FinovateFall earlier this month was how organizations can leverage real time data. When it comes to the movement of money, timing is everything. So it’s no surprise to see Visa’s announcement this week that it will expand its integration with Square’s instant transfer feature into Canada.

Under the new integration, Square’s Canadian merchant clients can now access their funds faster than the next business day. When they link an eligible debit card, Square’s Canada-based merchant clients can transfer funds instantly to an external bank account.

Used for rapid merchant settlement, Square’s instant transfers are enabled by Visa Direct, a VisaNet processing capability that facilitates real-time funds delivery directly to bank accounts. As a result, businesses experience increased cash flow, which can be a major pain point, especially for small businesses.

“Cash flow management and more immediate access to funds is critical for small businesses to survive and thrive in a rapidly evolving payments ecosystem,” said Visa Canada’s VP and Head of New Payments Jim Filice. “Together with Square, we’re committed to supporting Canadian small businesses and helping to identify solutions that can benefit them by delivering fast, reliable and secure access to funds.”

Photo by Laura Tancredi

Western Union Expands Partnership with Visa

Western Union Expands Partnership with Visa
  • Western Union is bolstering its partnership with Visa by expanding its integration with Visa Direct.
  • Visa Direct is Visa’s real-time money movement network.
  • The expansion will bring Visa Direct to Western Union’s U.S. clients, enabling them to send money in near-real-time to Visa debit cards in Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Romania, and Thailand.

Money transfer firm Western Union is building on its partnership with Visa this week. The Colorado-based company is expanding its integration with Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time money movement network.

Under the agreement, the pair will bring Visa Direct to Western Union’s U.S. clients, enabling them to send money in near-real-time to Visa debit cards in Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Romania, and Thailand. Western Union and Visa first teamed up in 2019 to enable Western Union customers in more than 20 countries across Europe to send and/or receive funds directly to Visa debit card holders.

“Western Union and Visa share a vision for modern money movement, one that ensures cross-border payments are reliable, efficient and transparent, with convenience and the customer’s channel of choice at the center of our customer experience,” said Western Union President of the Americas Gabriella Fitzgerald. “Our partnership with Visa underscores the benefits that collaboration brings to realizing this shared vision for our joint customers around the globe.”

Visa first launched Visa Direct in Europe in 2017 as a real-time payments platform to allow companies to leverage Visa’s global reach and scale for cross-border payments. In addition to Western Union, nearly 550 partners, including Adyen, The Bancorp, Fiserv, and Stripe support Visa Direct solutions.

“Visa is transforming cross-border payments with Visa Direct by helping to bring the ability to securely send and receive funds in near-real-time to more use cases around the world,” said Senior VP North America Head Yanilsa Gonzalez-Ore. “Through this partnership, we are using Western Union’s digital capabilities to help US customers send money to their family and friends and provide a means to help with bills, as a gift, or for an emergency.”

Founded in 1851, Western Union is one of the oldest cross-border money transfer pioneers. The company’s global financial network bridges more than 200 countries and territories and approximately 130 currencies. In a partnership earlier this year, Western Union integrated Marqeta’s payment cards solution into its digital wallet and digital banking platform in Europe.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto