Friday December 4, 2020 –
Here are the new and noteworthy stories we have been following this week.
Facebook-backed digital coin Libra renamed Diem in quest for approval
Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra has been rebranded “Diem” as has the organization behind the digital currency project (Libra Association is now the Diem Association); according to Stuart Levy, CEO of the Diem Association, “Tuesday’s name switch is part of a move to emphasize a simpler, revamped structure.”
Michael Moritz named chairman of Swedish fintech Klarna
Swedish buy-now pay later company Klarna has named Michael Moritz, partner at Sequoia Capital as chairman of its board as it preps for a possible US bank charter as well as an IPO in the US; Klarna is already an EU-regulated bank and is valued at about $10.65 billion.
LendUp Global Introduces Ahead Financials, a Digital Banking and Financial Health Platform for the Emerging Middle Class
LendUp, a digital consumer lender has announced that it is a launching a digital bank, Ahead Financials, LLC (Ahead) to serve the emerging middle class; Ahead will offer a checking account, debit card, early wage access, overdraft protection of $100 and some personal financial management tools.
BlockFi opens waiting list for bitcoin rewards credit card
Cryptocurrency startup BlockFi is launching a Visa credit card that pays out rewards in the form of bitcoin; the card will carry a $200 annual fee and provide 1.5% of spending back in the form of bitcoin that will be placed into a BlockFi account monthly.
Amount Announces $81M in Series C Funding Led by Goldman Sachs
Amount, a consumer lending digital platform for banks (that was spun out from Avant) has raised $81 million in a Series C round led by Goldman Sachs with participation from existing investors; Amount will use the new funding to help scale sales and marketing, while accelerating platform research and development investments.
Teen banking app Step reaches for the stars to raise $50 million
Teen-focused banking app Step has raised $50 million led by Coatue Management and a group of celebrities as well as existing investors; Step was launched about two months ago and offers teenagers a bank account, a debit card with parental controls, as well as P2P payments, and a credit building feature.
Grab, Gojek Close In on Terms for Merger
According to several industry sources, Grab and GoJek are closing in on a merger with the support and participation of SoftBank; Grab which is present in eight Southeast Asian countries was last valued at more than $14 billion, while Gojek, valued at $10 billion operates in six Southeast Asian countries.
Affirm Agrees to Buy Canada’s PayBright for $264 Million
Affirm has agreed to acquire Canada’s PayBright for C$340 million (US$264 million) in cash and stock as it seeks to expand in North America ahead of its planned IPO later this year; PayBright is a POS-installment credit provider that supports both e-commerce and in-store purchases, and has over 7,000 merchants.
Stripe to Offer Banking Services in Deal With Goldman Sachs, Citigroup
Stripe is teaming up with banks including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Evolve, and Barclays (internationally) to offer insured business bank accounts, debit cards, and other cash-management services to its merchants; Shopify is expected to be the first to offer ‘Shopify Balance’ accounts to its merchants under the new Stripe offering.
Ant, Grab Win Singapore Digital Bank Licenses Along With Sea
Singapore has awarded digital bank licenses to four companies – full bank licenses were given to Grab-Singtel and Sea Ltd., while wholesale bank licenses were given to Greenland Financial and an Ant affiliated entity; digital full banks will be allowed to take deposits and provide banking services to both retail and corporate customers while digital wholesale banks can only serve SME’s and other non-consumer segments.
Revolut lets businesses accept online payments
Revolut has entered the online merchant acquiring sector in Europe and is now providing payments acceptance in thirteen countries; Revolut’s acquiring solution is competitively priced and integrates with its business accounts providing clients the ability to manage banking and payments in one place.
Moov Raises $27M in Series A Funding
Moov, an early-stage fintech company facilitating banking and payments raised $27 million in series A funding led by a16z; Moov provides an open source platform that allows banks, credit unions, SaaS companies, and fintech providers to deploy basic financial service solutions to receive funds, store value, and remit payments.