A brief look back at week 32
The week started with news of India’s first corporate credit card for SMEs and startups.
Brex for India
Called the Freedom Card (best described as the ‘Brex for India’), it’s from a fintech startup founded by Hemant Vishnoi, Yadvendra Tyagi and Naveen Bindal. The company said the card’s most exciting feature is that it gives SMEs and startups an opportunity to make use of a credit facility for immediate needs and to manage their financial liquidity.
We then learnt that Experian is leading the US$20m first close of Series B1 investment in CompareAsiaGroup.
Founded in 2014, CompareAsiaGroup, is one of Asia's leading financial management platforms for banking and insurance products and services. It’s said to reach 60 million users across six markets including Hong Kong (MoneyHero.com.hk), Singapore (SingSaver.com.sg), Taiwan (Money101.com.tw) and Thailand (MoneyGuru.co.th).
Across the pond to Denver and Ibotta, a US mobile rewards platform, gave us news of a Series D financing round at a $1bn valuation. Ibotta said that the funding enables it to continue leading innovation within the payments industry through the company's turnkey and rewarded payments solution, Pay with Ibotta.
Still in the US, but this time in New York, and Klarna announced it had raised $460m in an equity funding round, at a post money valuation of $5.5bn. Klarna, which was founded in Stockholm in 2005, describes itself as a leading global disruptor of payments and banking, and provider of smooth retail services. In a statement, the company said the new valuation ranks it as the largest private fintech in Europe and as one of the largest private fintechs globally.
Leaving the US and now Hong Kong bound, we heard news on the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund. This is a non-profit initiative launched by Alibaba Group and it revealed that HSBC will be the title sponsor of the third edition of the start-up event, The Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund/HSBC JUMPSTARTER 2020. It's called JUMPSTARTER 2020 for short.
JUMPSTARTER 2020 will feature a global pitch competition that covers eight cities in premier locations worldwide. Cindy Chow, Executive Director of Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, said "...the market in Asia for cutting-edge technology is booming. The region is home to over 4.5 billion people, presenting tremendous opportunities for young entrepreneurs to innovate and create. We are glad to leverage Hong Kong's strategic position to create a springboard for top JUMPSTARTER companies and gain access to the talent, opportunity and funding critical to their success."
Still in China and we learnt that fintech investment has got off to a modest start in 2019, following record levels of investment last year. The figures came from the Pulse of Fintech H1'19, a bi-annual report on global fintech investment trends published by KPMG.
The report said that investment into fintech companies in China (including VC, PE and M&A activity) amounted to US$2.5bn across 32 deals in the first half of 2019, down from the US$16.3bn across 77 deals seen in the first half of 2018. The lack of megadeals in the country was the main driver of the decline, which affected total investment into fintech across Asia Pacific - dropping from US$18.3bn across 256 deals in the first half of 2018 to US$3.6bn across 102 deals in the first half of this year.
The fall in China and Asia reflected the wider trend globally, with US$37.9bn invested into global fintech across 962 deals, falling from US$62.9bn seen in the first half of 2018 across 1421 deals. This was also attributed to a pullback in mega deals.
Despite this, China still had a strong presence in the ranking of top ten Asia Pacific fintech deals, taking four spots.
The report concluded that relatively quiet fintech investment activity in the first half of 2019 is in part a reflection of the significant maturation in China's payment sector, following two years of ongoing investment and mega deals. Despite this, a number of less mature areas within fintech are rapidly growing, including microfinance and consumer finance.
In the UK, there was news that Leicester City Football Club had partnered with growing money transfer brand Xpress Money. It will become the football club's Official Money Transfer Partner.
Bank of Montreal
We finish back in North America, as the Bank of Montreal (BMO) released details of an expanded partnership with leading digital lending platform Blend, having participated as a strategic investor in the company's recent Series E round.
"Customers are telling us that they are looking for digital-first experiences, and working with Blend gives us the opportunity to find innovative ways to bring digital solutions to customers across their banking journey," said Brett Pitts, Chief Digital Officer, BMO Financial Group. "Strategic partners like Blend are critical enablers to helping us accelerate and grow our digital strategy and, together, we will build leading customer experiences."
Quite a busy week for fintech.