News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

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1.UK – FinTech

Altfi reports: 

“The UK government plans to legislate to address misleading crypto asset promotions with adverts brought under strict financial advertising standards, according to new rules published by the Government.  

“Cryptoassets can provide exciting new opportunities, offering people new ways to transact and invest – but it’s important that consumers are not being sold products with misleading claims. We are ensuring consumers are protected, while also supporting the innovation of the crypto-asset market,”  said Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

Bradley Rice, partner at law firm Ashurst says the changes to the UK financial promotion regime will “bring about monumental changes” to how firms offer, promote and market crypto assets in the UK.  

“This could be game changing,” he said. 

"This regime will mean regulated firms are at an advantage over unregulated firms because they will be able to issue their own promotions. Unregulated firms will need to find an authorised firm willing to approve their promotions and there is a lot of focus on this sector from all angles,” he added. 

Crypto has been a grey area for regulators for a decade. While the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued repeated warnings that consumers could lose their cash, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has been the only body able to issue fines or ban misleading ads and that could only happen to firms after the ads had been posted. 

The UK Treasury estimates that 2.3 million people in the UK own a crypto asset with popularity rising in tandem with a declining understanding of what crypto actually is. This boom in ownership and the decline in investor awareness is clearly spooking regulators, says Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.” 


2. UK – FinTech 


Crowdfundinsider reports: 

“The team at UK’s investment platform easyMoney notes that the use of Fintech apps is increasing steadily across the globe. That’s why they decided to also launch their own app for their customers. 

The company wrote in a blog post that half of easyMoney investors may access their accounts via a mobile device and now the platform has launched a free app, “as part of its wider plan to make the service as user-friendly as possible.” 

Using a mobile phone or device to access financial services is “relatively new but since the start of the coronavirus pandemic its use has rocketed,” the team at easyMoney noted. 

They pointed out that a third of us use mobile banking apps “at least once a week and 19% of UK adults use one daily, according to a YouGov poll.” 

As millions of us were unable to access bank branches due to COVID-related lockdowns, this led to a significant rise in mobile use, “of all kinds of financial apps.” 

easyMoney also mentioned that this “led to a surge in investment of fintech apps and the number of apps available, for everything from checking a current account to keeping an eye on how your investments are performing.” 

At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, there was a 72% rise in the use of financial apps in Europe, “at a time when many sectors were struggling.” 

Although we weren’t able to see people in person and do the things we were used to, technology “stepped in allowing us to carry on our lives with the help of the internet.” From Zoom calls to online shopping, the internet was used “by most of us at a time when we couldn’t leave our homes and interact with people in person.” 


3. UK – FinTech 


Altfi reports: 

“Riding the wave of demand for alternative financing and investment opportunities, Estonian peer-to-peer lending platform for European property, EstateGuru, this week hit half a billion in loans funded since its founding in 2013.  

The company claims its growth in recent years has been exponential, reaching a cumulative total value in loans since 2014 of €200m in 2021, and €500m in 2022. EstateGuru reports that it has also accrued over 110,000 investors since its creation. 

Marrying-up borrowers in need of financing for property projects, and investors seeking the low-risk, high-returns the company promises, EstateGuru says it aims to make “investing accessible to everyone”. The company connects service providers, SMEs, and investors into a single, digital marketplace with a view to creating a borderless service. 

Already operating in a range of European countries, the firm has set its sights on new territories across Europe, with plans to expand into UK, Dutch, Italian and French markets.  

Though plans had to be put on pause due to Covid, EstateGuru now expects to open its new Manchester office in March this year.” 



4. International – FinTech 

Finextra reports a new unicorn: 

“French spend management platform Spendesk has raised €100 million in Series C funding from Tiger Global, with participation from all existing backers, including General Atlantic, Eight Roads Ventures, Index Ventures and eFounders. 

The new equity injection is a top-up to the firm's July €100 million raise and gives the company coveted unicorn status with a valuation of $1.14 billion.

Spendesk provides finance teams at midmarket companies with an SaaS spend management system for full visibility and control on all company spending — with every purchase trackable to a person, a project, and a budget.

The platform combines payments, processes and data, with virtual and physical cards for employees, expense reimbursements, invoice management, automated spend approvals, and budgets.” 



5. International – FinTech 


Finextra reports: 


“Banco Santander has acquired a 30% stake venture debt manager Atempo Growth and is participating as an anchor investor in its first fund dedicated to financing high-growth technology companies in Europe and the United Kingdom. 

Atempo's debut fund has investment commitments of €175 million, which will be put towards financing technology companies with high growth potential in the UK and Europe, with an investment range per company of between €3 million and €10 million.

The stake in Atempto forms part of the bank's strategy to strenghten its Investment Platforms Unit, which includes Tresmares, Fremen Capital and Mouro - the unit dedciated to taking minority stakes in fintech startups.

Growth debt is increasingly becoming a go-to funding source for European innovators with the venture debt market increasing by six to eight times between 2015 and 2020.”