News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

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1.UK – FinTech

 

Finextra reports:

Marcus, Goldman Sachs' digital retail banking service, is launching a Cash ISA in the UK, according to Finextra. 

The online Cash ISA can be opened from as little as £1 up to a maximum deposit of £20,000, with an interest rate of 0.40% AER/tax-free (variable), with no fees or charges.

Des McDaid, MD, Marcus, says: said: "Our new easy-access Cash ISA provides our customers with more options to help them save their money - whether that’s saving for a new house, their children’s future, or in case of a rainy day." 

 

2. UK – FinTech 

 

Pensions provider PensionBee has filed a confirmation statement with the London Stock Exchange, indicating that its listing is “expected to occur in April 2021”. 

AltFi reports: 


“The document also reveals that PensionBee aims to raise £55m as part of the process, with new shares comprising the majority of the raise and existing minority shareholders selling £5m worth of shares. 

Over 9,000 PensionBee customers have already registered with PrimaryBid to take part in the listing, with shares to be offered at the same discount as institutional investors. 

"Becoming a publicly-traded company has long been part of our strategy to be the best universal online pension provider and I am delighted to confirm PensionBee's intention to float,” said CEO and co-founder Romi Savova as part of the filing. 

“There is a significant growth opportunity for PensionBee, as a result of the acceleration of the shift to digital, the frequency of individuals moving jobs and the increased duration of working life.” 

Savova also confirmed that PensionBee’s assets under administration have now reached £1.5bn across 130,000 active customers (as of 28 February), up from £1.4bn at the end of 2020 when it made just £6.3m in revenues. 

PensionBee first announced its intention to IPO in November 2020, at the time Savova told AltFi that the float could be at the end of 2021 or early 2022.” 

 

3. UK – FinTech 

 

Crowdfundinsder reports: 

 

“The team at Blockchain.com, a leading crypto wallet provider, trading platform and block explorer service that recently acquired an additional $300 million in capital, notes that in the crypto space, “one month can feel like an entire quarter — a lot happens.” 

Blockchain.com points out that this fast-paced environment can make it really challenging to keep up or stay up-to-date with everything. That’s why they’re introducing Chain of Events, a monthly update that informs industry participants about the latest developments in the nascent blockchain and crypto space. 

This month, the team at Blockchain.com is pleased to introduce instant USD transfers “within both the Blockchain.com Wallet and Blockchain.com Exchange.” As confirmed in the update,  this feature — now available “for all Gold status eligible US residents” — lets clients link a bank account and transfer funds into Blockchain.com “instantly.” 

Blockchain.com confirmed that they recently announced their Series C fundraise that was led by DST Global, VY Capital and Lightspeed. They also welcomed Lane Kasselman and Jim Messina to the Blockchain.com team. 

The UK-based digital assets firm writes in a blog post: 

“As the crypto ecosystem and Blockchain.com continues to grow, the need for experienced leaders to bring us into the next phase of growth is critical. We’re excited to welcome these two into the fold and continue building great products with their stewardship.” 

 

4. International – FinTech 

 

PWC research sees a record year for crypto M&A deals.


Quoted by Bloomberg, the consulting firm pointed out that the crypto M&A sector more than doubled last year to $1.1 billion from 2019 figures. Geographically speaking, the United States is still taking the lead by itself, as deals taking place in the region accounted near $785 million. 

Still, Europe and Asia together, as EMEA region, generated $303 million in crypto M&A deals, said PWC. 

Henri Arslanian, global crypto leader of PWC, highlighted the fact that 2020 numbers posse a record for the sector. However, he added that 2021 is on track “to significantly surpass it from every single metric.” 

The study says that findings suggest crypto’s market is increasingly expanding and confirms the widespread endorsement from large investors worldwide. Moreover, PWC foresees that the crypto industry would become “more institutionalized” at some point. 

The firm backs up its claims with the all-time highs seen in the bitcoin (BTC) prices across the board this year, reaching levels above the $60,000 threshold. 

Also, PWC believes that noise surrounding central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), stablecoins, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) helped to boost such deals. 

Interestingly, the report is quite optimistic in comparison with the one published in mid-2020 by the firm. At that time, crypto M&A deals plummeted from $1.9 billion (2018) to $451 million (2019). 

Moreover, PWC’s Arslanian was pessimistic in his forecast for 2020 numbers, citing coronavirus pandemic as a significant catalyst to wake up another wave of red numbers in terms of crypto deals: 

“The crypto industry is not immune to the global headwinds and the number and value of crypto fund-raising and M&A deals may be impacted in 2020.” 

 

5. International – FinTech

 

Finextra reports: 


“Nordic payments processor Nets is working with cryptocurrency specialist Salamantex to enable acceptance of bitcoin, Ether and XRP at points-of-sale tills in Austria. 

Nets - through its DACH-based subsidiary Concardis - is working with Salamantex to enable all merchants, service providers and restaurateurs in Austria to accept cryptocurrency transactions from consumers on common payment terminals, in addition to classic payment methods such as credit or debit cards.

Many Austrian merchants are already offering their customers crypto payments at the checkout by activating crypto-capable interfaces on their Concardis terminal.

Once deployed, the corresponding cryptocurrency is selected on the terminal, an exchange rate request is made for the purchase amount, and the customer makes a QR code-based payment with their crypto wallet.

The merchant receives the value of the goods at the time of the transaction and can choose whether they want to receive the purchase price in euros or the corresponding amount in the cryptocurrency. The merchant incurs standard transaction fees that are comparable to credit card fees.

The plan is to roll out the service to other European countries as and when regulations permit, and to lay the groundwork for the launch of central bank backed digital currencies in the longer term.”