News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

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1.UK - FinTech 

“Payments app VibePay has taken a step closer to becoming a one-stop-shop for payments by launching its very own business dashboard. 

VibePay says that VibePay Business will also help SMEs to increase reach and build better connections with their customers, which will, in turn, drive sales and engagement. 

Luke Massie, CEO of VibePay, said: “In the past 12 months there has been a rapid acceleration of digital payments, a huge growth in social commerce, and a renewed focus from consumers in wanting to support SMEs and buy from people they know.”   

“Our new dashboard enables SMEs to take advantage of this growth and pay and be paid by their customers easily and directly from account to account, removing the reliability of expensive card rails and wallet services.” 

In September last year, Massie told AltFi: “I think Vibe’s got a good chance of taking market share away from PayPal,” and with the latest addition to its ever-growing payments app, this is looking more likely.  

The new open banking-powered platform will enable SMEs to get a better picture of their business, allowing them to activate instant account to account payments with customers, view transactions and access financial data.” 


2. US – FinTech 

Finextra reports: 

“Affirm, Max Levchin's buy now, pay later credit card alternative, expects to achieve a valuation of just over $9 billion from its forthcoming IPO on Nasdaq. 

In its latest filing with the SEC, Affirm said it plans to price its shares between $33 and $38 each and raise as much as $935 million from the sale.

Launched by PayPal co-founder Levchin in 2012, Affirm partners more than 6500 merchants helping them drive sales, grow average order value, and increase repurchase rates through its point of sale buy now, pay later option.

About 6.2 million people use the platform, with two thirds of loans this year taken out by repeat users. The company's biggest money-maker is exercise bike outfit Peloton, while last year it scored an exclusive arrangement with e-commerce marketplace Shopify and struck a deal to buy Canadian BNPL firm PayBright.

According to its filing with the SEC, Affirm made about $510 million in revenue for the fiscal year ended 30 June, a 93% rise on the previous year. Net losses halved, to $15.3 million, in the last quarter.” 


3. International – FinTech 


Crowdfundinsider carries crypto and blockchain predictions for 2021. 


Bitcoin is not the only crypto-asset that’s surging this year. Ethereum, the world’s second-largest digital currency, now has a market cap of over $117 billion and ETH is trading at more than $1,000 for the first time since early 2018 when it briefly surged to around $1,400 before crashing hard along with the rest of the crypto market a couple of years back. 

While we have seen similar prices during the historic crypto market bull run of 2017 (and now much higher BTC prices), there’s a lot that has changed fundamentally since that time. It can be argued that the late 2017 and early 2018 rally was based on a lot of speculation and driven by many eager retail traders. 

But after the Bitcoin and larger crypto market crashed badly during the extended bear market of 2018, most of the companies and platform developers began re-evaluating their strategies. At that time, there were a number of serious issues that needed to be addressed before the crypto market could rise again and gain more meaningful adoption among the masses. 

As most industry participants would know, there were numerous scams carried out under the guise of initial coin offering (ICOs) and this trend continued later on (for the most part) in the form of initial exchange offerings (IEOs). Like ICOs, IEOs were more about “speculation and trading” than fundraising and project development, according to an extensive blockchain industry report. 

These fraudulent activities led to losses worth billions of dollars for unsuspecting investors. The crypto space has endured some of the largest scams ever orchestrated including Bitconnect, the multi-billion dollar PlusToken scam, among many others. These malicious and highly damaging activities made it abundantly clear that the crypto industry was badly in need of a proper and clear regulatory framework. 

As we head into 2021, leading digital asset exchange Binance has announced that it plans to continue taking regulations more seriously, but multiple warnings from regulators suggest otherwise. This year, we can expect a lot more regulatory scrutiny, especially from regulators like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and also from UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – which has also begun to crack down on unauthorized businesses pretending or posing to be licensed. 

As the digital assets and distributed ledger technology (DLT) industry continues to mature, we can expect that regulators will develop a much better and clearer understanding of these open-source protocols. With more awareness of how these technologies will impact the broader financial markets, regulators like the SEC and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) can begin drafting more suitable guidelines for blockchain and crypto-assets. 

It’s worth noting, however, that some recent regulatory actions taken by FinCEN, like their proposed new rules for self-hosted cryptocurrency wallets, seemed quite rushed and unjustified according to many industry professionals. Despite these challenges, it does seem that we can look forward to more productive dialogue or progressive discussions as we move forward. 

Recently, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) revealed that it will basically treat permissionless, DLT networks like SWIFT or other traditional providers when conducting cross-border transactions. This could potentially mean that international funds transfers, which can take several business days, could be completed almost instantly. Clearly, there have been many positive developments on the regulatory front which suggest that we can expect a more well-regulated industry in the foreseeable future.” 


4. International – FinTech 


AltFi reports: 

“German digital bank N26 has received a green light from the Brazilan Central Bank, according to Brazilian publication Valor. 

N26 has received a Sociedade de Crédito Direto (SCD) licence from the regulator, which will allow the fintech to “carry out credit operations” such as third-party credit analysis and the ability to issue electronic currency.  

The fintech, which unexpectedly quit the UK just shy of a year ago, first announced plans to launch in Brazil back in 2019. 

N26’s Brazilian outfit is led by former Santander banker and head of business and product development at technology company Cielo, Eduardo Del Guerra Prota, who has been at the bank since February 2019. 

With the German bank’s latest launch comes new challenges.  

N26 will be going head to head with the largest challenger bank in the world, Nubank. 

Nubank has over 25m customers in Brazil and Mexico alone—for reference, N26 has roughly 5m customers across 25 different markets.” 


5. International – FinTech 

Finextra reports: 

“Orange Bank has acquired french neo bank Anytime, extending its app-based services to the freelance and SME market. 

The acqusition gives the telco a foothold in the small business banking market, having launched three years ago as a pure-play consumer bank.

Profitable since 2018, Anytime has grown by offering business accounts, payments and expense management tools that make life easier for small businesses, including automated accounting and invoice management. The merger with Orange will provide the business with an opportunity to extends its offering into loans and insurance.”