News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

Investors mingle at a business networking seminar

1.UK – FinTech        


 Altfi reports: 

“Digital bank Kroo has just won its full UK banking licence ahead of plans to launch personal current accounts "in the coming months". 

The startup secured £26m in its Series B funding round at the start of the month which it said went a long way toward supporting the new current accounts, which could come as early as this summer. 

Having launched its prepaid offering in 2019 to ensure a “fully mobile experience”, the bank has now racked up 23,000 customers, which will migrate to the new accounts for free. 

With the full licence, the bank can offer its customers Financial Services Compensation Scheme-protected personal current accounts for up to £85,000, as well as provide overdrafts, loans and savings products.” 


2. UK – FinTech 


Altfi reports: 


“Just a week after starting its product rollout in the UK, challenger money transfer app Atlantic Money has secured its licence in Europe. 

It is the first company to win approval from the National Bank of Belgium within a year and it will now be able to operate in Europe, with access to all 30 EU and EEA member states. 

Founded by Robinhood alumni Patrick Kavanagh and Neeraj Baid, the startup offers cross-border transfers at a flat fixed-fee of £3 on balances up to £1m, differentiating itself from competitors like Wise and Revolut. 

The two launched the business after moving to the UK from the US and seeing how much more retail customers were charged for international transfers compared to large financial institutions.” 


3. International – FinTech 

Finextra reports: 

“The Global COVID-19 Fintech Impact and Resilience Study, published by the Cambridge Centre of Alterative Finance (CCAF), the World Bank Group, and the World Economic Forum, has concluded that the fintech industry was more resilient to the pandemic than previously stated in an earlier report from December 2020. 

The study included data from 1,448 fintech platforms operating in 192 areas worldwide, reporting that the fintech industry displayed growth at an increased pace in every sector except for data analytics. 

The study revealed that many fintechs are progressing in financial inclusion within their customer base. A key finding of the report was that a large portion of new customers came from under-represented groups in the fintech industry. Women, low-income households, and SMEs are confronted with more challenges when looking for financial services. This study demonstrated that in multiple sectors, women and low-income households consisted of 50% of responding fintech firms’ total customers. 

Jean Pesme, World Bank global director, finance, competitiveness and innovation, says, “Fintech firms are transforming the financial sector by driving innovation, introducing more competition and expanding access to financial services; the survey indicated that fintech firms have served women, SMEs and low-income households—people who have traditionally faced challenges in accessing financial services.” 

The report noted a correlation between areas with stricter Covid-19 lockdown measures and the growth of fintechs within those jurisdictions: they demonstrated more growth than fintech platforms that operated under less stringent lockdown measures. 

The highest rate of growth in transaction volume was in digital payments, with fintech platforms working in Advanced Economies (AEs) and Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) also proving high growth rates. The transaction volume of fintechs in AEs surpassed that of those in EMDEs. 

Reflecting on studies from previous years, fintech firms strive to improve on cyber security and prevent fraud to ensure their platforms are more secure. They have demonstrated a lower level of risks that were reported from the risk assessments in 2019. 

A key area in need of development this year was in communication between market stakeholders and regulatory authorities to hasten the speed of authorization processes and requirements by fintech firms. 

Overall, the study reported that the fintech industry is resilient to the pandemic and in the past year has shown higher assessments and an increase in capital raising activities.” 



4. International - FinTech 


Altfi reports: 

“A new investment platform by founders for founders is launching today along with a €250m early stage venture fund. 

Plural, set up by Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus, and a number of founders, is a scalable investment platform consisting of exclusively former founders and operators with company building experience. 

According to Plural, just eight per cent of investors in Europe are former operators, compared to more than 50 per cent in the US. 

The founders have created Plural as a solution to this issue, to help the next generation of founders build companies with the backing of experienced founders. 

“We’re the investors we would have liked to have when we were building our own companies,” Hinrikus said. 

“Founding a company is a craft and the best way to learn that craft is to work alongside those who have done it before.” 

The company intents to be a “more hands-on investor” with a focus on leading early-stage rounds between €1 and €10m.” 


5. International – FinTech 

Crowdfundinsider reports: 

“Unstoppable Domains, which claims to be the leading platform for Web3 digital identity with more than 2.4 million registered NFT domains, recently announced an integration with ShapeShift, a “decentralized,” non-custodial cryptocurrency platform “supporting over 5000 assets.” 

Now, ShapeShift customers will be able “to replace complicated wallet addresses with human-readable NFT domains, so they can send the top crypto assets (BTC and ETH) as easily as they would an email.” 

To jump-start the integration, in the coming weeks, ShapeShift and Unstoppable Domains will “offer free NFT domains to all FOX Token holders.” 

Willy Ogorzaly, ShapeShift DAO’s head of decentralization, said: 

“We’re always looking for ways to make crypto easier, whether through our own development efforts or through integrations with partners. It’s no surprise that long crypto addresses are difficult, and human-readable addresses are a great solution. By leveraging on-chain NFTs to represent domains rather than centralized name services (like DNS), Unstoppable Domains ensures that the user is always in control.” 

The current Web3 onboarding experience is “overly complex,” and Unstoppable Domains solves that by “offering user-friendly NFT domain names that provide a foundation for digital identity.”