News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

diagram of hman figures in concentric circles

1.UK – FinTech   

AltFi reports: 

 

“Digital bank for the wealthy Monument has closed the Series A funding round that the bank has been working on for the last six months. 

In October Monument secured a UK banking licence and said it had raised over £20m so far, today Sky News reported that figure is now over £28m, and the round is complete. 

"We are very pleased and excited to have successfully completed our Series A funding round, exceeding targets, against such a challenging backdrop,” co-founder, Mintoo Bhandari told Sky News. 

"As the global and national focus turns towards economic recovery, we are confident that digital-first firms, including Monument, can play an exceptional role in supporting the 'building back better' of our economy." 

Among the investors were Eric Zinterhofer, of Searchlight Capital, entrepreneur Rakesh Loonkar and Harry Handelsman, founder and CEO of the Manhattan Loft Corporation. 

As a reminder Monument is targeting some 3.5m people in the UK who have a net worth of between £250k and £5m, excluding their main property. 

While that might sound exclusive, earlier reports indicated that the bank requires customers to have at least £25,000 in their accounts, which is half of what is needed to open an account at many private bank.” 

 

2. UK – FinTech 

 

Finextra reports: 

 

“The UK's first app-only bank Atom is to raise £40 million from existing investors ahead of a potential IPO next year. 

The fund raising effort comes as the Durham-based bank approaches profitability on the back of robust growth in mortgage and business lending.

Driven by tail-winds from the pandemic, Atom will have grown lending to SMEs on its balance sheet to over £700m by the end of March 2021, a tripling of business loans in the last 12 months.

Simultaneously, Atom is reporting profitable growth in its mortgage portfolio, having already added £362m of mortgages in the second half of its financial year 2020/21. Since its launch, Atom has loaned £2.8bn to UK mortgage customers. The Durham-based lender also confirmed its place in the secondary markets for UK mortgages, issuing a £775m prime mortgage securitisation last year.” 

 

 

3. UK – FinTech 

 

AltFi reports: 


“Just days after its relaunchFronted has joined forces with fellow fintech Yobota to power its platform. 

Fronted aims to help renters afford deposits when signing new tenancy agreements by offering a fixed term 12.5 per cent loan to cover the deposit, with users able to spread the cost over 12 months. 

Jamie Campbell, co-founder and CEO of Fronted, said: “Fronted was created to help renters move more easily and reduce their upfront costs.” 

“The flexibility offered by Yobota’s architecture enabled us to create an innovative and tech-driven solution to a long-standing problem in the UK rental market. By utilising Yobota’s APIs, we were able to build a customised user experience that reduces the time and complexity involved in applying for a rent deposit.” 

Through using Yobota’s APIs, Fronted will be able to continually improve its product and react to the market, while also offering its customers a more seamless user experience.  

Ammar Akhtar, CEO of Yobota, added: “It is great to see Fronted launch to market – they are addressing a major societal issue, by helping renters get easier access to homes, with the potential of building their credit scores at the same time.” 

“The launch of Fronted is an important step for Yobota, too. We've demonstrated that our APIs can be used to build a wide variety of customer experiences while putting our clients in the driving seat.” 

Fronted is now the second company to be powered by Yobota’s core banking platform, after Chetwood Financial, a UK-based challenger bank.” 

 

4. International – FinTech 

 

Crowdfundinsider runs a feature interview with Markus Jun, the founder and CEO of ICON Hyperconnect Public Representative, a leading block validator for the ICON network with $20 million in total staked value, and Hyperconnector, an official accelerator partner of the ICON Foundation & ICX Station Seoul. 

“Markus was the former Head of Research at ICON’s first venture capital firm, Deblock, and an invited guest speaker at Samsung Electronics, where he spoke about ICON, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology. He is also an advisor for BlockArrow Capital. 

Crowdfund Insider: What are your thoughts on the currently surging cryptocurrency market? What would you say has changed over the years since you first joined? 

Markus Jun: The cryptocurrency market has been heating up. Interest and trading volumes have surpassed previous peaks. We’re seeing Bitcoin and several projects smash their all-time highs on a weekly basis. However, as someone who’s been investing in cryptocurrencies since 2016 and seen multiple cycles, even in the midst of this seemingly excessive elation, I have never been more confident in this industry. Prices may retrace and cool down, but the fundamentals are rock solid and crypto has announced itself as a challenger to traditional finance. 

In 2017, at the absolute peak of the market, although prices were at their highest ever, I knew that the euphoria was unsustainable. We had too many ICOs with empty promises and baseless token economics launch just for the sake of fundraising and it was a question of when, not if the market would crash. 

However today things are completely different. We have real decentralized use cases and the technology has evolved tremendously. Since I’ll be going over ICON later, I’ll first dive into the other general developments in the industry. 

We have advancements such as Uniswap, essentially a decentralized exchange built completely on Ethereum rivaling trading volumes of centralized exchanges, something completely unthinkable in 2017. Such automated market makers have resulted in massive revenue and value for its token holders. 

We have revenue-generating vaults/smart contracts in which you can stake crypto that operate complex yield earning strategies, which then distribute revenue evenly to token holders via fair launches by projects such as Yearn Finance and Badger DAO. 

We have projects such as Synthethix and Mirror Protocol that are bringing financial securities trading to the blockchain. Imagine being able to click “Connect to Wallet” on a website and begin trading the S&P 500, KOSPI, FTSE 100 without a KYC check or registration on a single borderless platform with zero downtime, 24/7. When you understand that financial securities that can be wrapped (tokenized) entail much more than just stocks, you realize how infinitely large the synthetic assets space (a branch of DeFi) can grow. 

Interoperability protocols such as ICON, Polkadot, Cosmos, will not only be hosting their own native applications but significantly amplify the value and reach of applications across all blockchain platforms as users will be provided the freedom to swap and access protocols based on their needs. 

Many of these developments are already in motion, but mass adoption is yet to arrive. The biggest difference is that in 2021, unlike 2017, we are ready. The use cases are real, decentralized and revenue-generating. There’s no doubt in my mind that crypto will massively disrupt traditional systems, and we are still so early in the game.” 

 

5. International – FinTech 

 

The Westpac Group in Australia has revealed that SocietyOne is its second partner to join­ the institution’s new digital banking-as-a-service (BaaS) platform, according to Crowdfundinsider.   

“SocietyOne is a key Fintech player in the nation’s digital lending sector (having originated more than $1 billion in loans). 

According to a release shared with CI, the decision to team up with Westpac forms part of SocietyOne’s overall growth strategy – which includes offering a wider range of “market leading” financial products and services. This reportedly includes the introduction of a transaction account to help its 75,000 clients improve the management of their everyday finances.”