A brief look back at week 40 at some of the news that’s not always picked up.
FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival
The week started with the news that FinTech Abu Dhabi announced the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council at ADGM's flagship FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival on 21-23 October 2019.
The event is organised by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the international Financial Centre in Abu Dhabi and supported by global innovation platform, Unbound.
And Railsbank will be there as well.
Eight global FinTech Unicorns will be speaking at this year's edition:
PolicyBazaar.ae - online financial products marketplace;
OneConnect - SaaS provider of technology-enabled solutions to financial institutions
OakNorth - digital lender and credit decisioning platform;
Transferwise - online money transfer service;
Airwallex - smart cross-border payment technology;
Checkout.com - online payment solutions;
Greensill – working capital finance for companies globally;
Kraken – cryptocurrency exchange.
Richard Teng, CEO, Financial Services Regulatory Authority of ADGM, said: "We are very thankful for the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan of ADGM's 3rd edition of FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival. This is a significant recognition and testament of Abu Dhabi's ongoing support and commitment to the growth of the startups and entrepreneurial sector in the UAE.
"As an International Financial Centre and FinTech enabler, ADGM recognises that Fintech has, and will continue to transform the financial services sector. We are excited that a strong lead of 8 global FinTech Unicorns C-suites will be present at FinTech Abu Dhabi. We look forward to these trail-blazers sharing their expertise and inspiring our FinTech startups and community with their experiences."
FinTech Abu Dhabi 2019 aims to bring together global and local financial institutions, fintech start-ups, investors, regulatory agencies and the business community to network, collaborate and exchange expertise and knowledge in fintech developments in Abu Dhabi, the wider MENA region and internationally.
Wave Money awarded Best Payments Innovation Award 2019
Over in our second home, Singapore, we heard that Wave Money was awarded the Best Payments Innovation Award 2019 by Digital Banker at the Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2019.
Wave Money was also highly acclaimed for Best Customer Service Innovation and Best Financial Inclusion Initiative.
Wave Money is a leading mobile financial services provider in Myanmar.
Chief Executive Officer Brad Jones said: "It is an honor to be recognized by an independent and trusted voice in the global financial services sector. These accolades inspire us all at Wave Money and reinforce our commitment to promote financial inclusion in Myanmar through innovative solutions that bring real social impact."
Wave Money has the largest agent network in Myanmar covering 89% of the country. As of June 2019, there are more than 11 million people in Myanmar using the Wave Money platform to send and receive money, buy airtime, pay utility bills and process digital payments.
Xpensio launches fintech app
Still in Singapore and fintech Xpensio launched its “...comprehensive expense management solutions for businesses in Singapore and, soon, the Philippines.”
A press conference heard Xpensio Chief Executive Officer, Vanessa Liwanag, and Chief Technical Officer/Co-founder Jerick Coneras, proudly unveil the app that shares the same name as its company.
"The idea for the xpensio app was born out of our sheer frustrations when we were still working separately as employees, managers, and officers," Liwanag said.
"That was where our commonality lied: In recognizing the burden of employees every filing season. Most businesses do not realize that filing and processing company expenses take so much time and effort from the organization. This manual labour takes away valuable energy that could be better off used on high-value, high-yield tasks at hand," Coneras added.
NatWest Markets Selects UK fintech ipushpull
Back in London and news came out that NatWest Markets is using ipushpull, a London-based fintech, to share trade axes in real-time with some of its largest buy-side clients.
The ipushpull platform enables NatWest Markets to meet its clients' needs through an interactive automated axe interface which supports customisation and filtering per counterparty. The platform also allows automation and delivery over multiple channels.
NatWest Markets chose the ipushpull platform because of the unique live data sharing and workflow automation capabilities that it provides.
Matthew Cheung, CEO of ipushpull, said: "NatWest Markets are a trailblazer in their adoption of new technology, from buying best-of-breed applications such as ipushpull to hosting data on the cloud. We're excited to work with NatWest Markets and look forward to being a long-term strategic partner for both pre-trade and post-trade workflows across the bank."
Rapyd secures $100m funding
Still in London (and in California) we saw that Rapyd, a global Fintech-as-a-service provider, announced a $100m financing round led by Oak HC/FT with participation from Tiger Global, Coatue, General Catalyst, Target Global, Stripe, and Entrée Capital. Earlier this year, Rapyd raised $40 million in series B financing.
The company said that with this new investment, it will continue to build out its unified cloud-based technology platform that helps businesses quickly integrate fintech and payment capabilities into any commerce application.
The fastest growing fintech app in history?
Over in New York and we heard that Cleo, the money management app with “...a sense of humor and zero tolerance policy for bullsh*t…”, had arrived in the US from their base in London.
Cleo differentiates itself by stating: “Unlike competitors in the market, Cleo is not a banking app and she doesn't want your money. For millennials, the 2008 recession and Occupy Wall Street movement are still fresh in their minds, leading to a general distrust of banks, and Gen Z's are no different – with a high level of general distrust of ‘big banks’ and fear of falling into student loan debt.”
Founded by data scientist Barnaby Hussey-Yeo, Cleo started off as a fun, quirky tool for friends to help themselves budget and spiraled into a revolution for money management. After quickly picking up 600,000 users within a year and a half of launch, Cleo revealed an alpha version in the US last April, growing at triple the speed of users across the pond.
"For decades, banks used data to predict how likely customers would overdraft their accounts or pay back their mortgages. Now, with CLEO, it's the customers' turn to benefit from data," said Hussey-Yeo. "In lieu, Cleo gives our users the tools to make the most of their own spending data and ensures they're the only person who profits from it."
Nice pitch, but what does it actually do? Here are some of the features:
a highly engaging way of building savings, tracking spending habits and staving off bank fees;
the go-to place for full visibility on all a user’s accounts;
Cleo Plus - cash back, salary advances and up to 2% interest on a user’s savings.
It started out in London and hit the US market in summer 2018 - now over two million people have signed up.
It was quite a busy week according to the good people at BlackFin Tech, with the fintech and insurtech sectors raising €175m in ten rounds.
It highlighted Rapyd’s (see above) elevation to Unicorn status, as well as the German electronics subscription service Grover which raised €41m in a pre-Series B round and Spanish B2C neobank BNext which just raised some €22m via a Series A round. Mentioned in despatches were Cledara, Upodi, Rosecut, Bricklane, VEGA and FoundersBank Project.