Fintech’s Final Frontier: Central Banks and Disintermediation


This post is by Lauren Murrow from Andreessen Horowitz

The internet has many legacies, but its greatest one is disintermediation. And the greatest disintermediation—of the banking system—is coming soon to an app near you.

Before the internet, consumers who wanted to buy an airplane ticket would talk to a

The post Fintech’s Final Frontier: Central Banks and Disintermediation appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.

Plaid CEO touts new ‘clarity’ after failed Visa acquisition


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Yesterday, we spoke with Plaid CEO and co-founder Zach Perret after news broke that Visa no longer plans to buy his company for $5.3 billion.

The deal was heralded in early 2020 as a sign of the growing importance of fintech startups. Then it failed to close, eventually running into a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice. A few months later, the acquisition was dropped.

Sentiment in the market changed since the transaction was announced. As TechCrunch reported yesterday, there’s a good deal of optimism to be found amongst investors and others that Plaid will eventually be worth more than the price at which the Visa deal valued it.

What follows is a summary of our conversation with Perret, digging into a number of topics we felt most were pressing in the wake of Plaid’s unshackling.

Now what?

First and upfront: it does not appear that Plaid is racing to the public markets via a blank-check company, or SPAC, a question several readers asked on Twitter. Our impression from our chat regarding near-term liquidity via the public markets is that those with their hopes up have them up a few years too early.

TechCrunch asked Perret how it feels to be free from his erstwhile corporate boss.

He said that the last few years have been a “rollercoaster,” adding that when they made the choice to sell, it made sense at the time from mission, and delivery perspectives — Visa wanted to accomplish similar things and could give his company access to a wide network of potential customers.

X1 Card raises $12 million for its credit card with limits based on your income


This post is by Romain Dillet from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

X1 Card is raising a $12 million funding round. The company is building a credit card that sets limits based on your current and future income, not your credit score.

Spark Capital is leading the round with Jared Leto, Aaron Levie, Jeremy Stoppelman, Max Levchin and Ali Rowghani also participating. American Express veteran Ash Gupta is also joining the company as an advisor — he was the Chief Risk Officer of American Express.

The company says that it has attracted nearly 300,000 signups on its waitlist. I covered X1 Card back in September and it attracted a lot of readers. So that number doesn’t surprise me.

The X1 Card is a stainless steel Visa credit card with a different origin story. When you apply for a card, instead of determining your limits based on your credit score, the company wants to see your current and future income.

The startup believes the credit score system is outdated and doesn’t reflect your creditworthiness. That’s why it doesn’t use it to calculate limits. Your credit score still affects your variable APR (from 12.9% to 19.9%), but that’s it.

There are also a lot of software features that work with the credit card. For instance, you can track your subscriptions from the X1 app, you can also generate an auto-expiring virtual card for free trials that require a credit card. You also get notifications for refunds.

As for rewards, you get 2X points on all purchases. If you’re a heavy user and you spend more than $15,000 on your card per year, you’re upgraded to a new tier and earn 3X points. There’s also a viral element as you get a boosted reward level when you refer a friend — you get 4X points for a month. You can then spend your points with retail partners.

The company has promised a lot of features and now has enough cash in its bank account to deliver. Let’s see if the company can live up to the hype once the first customers get their cards. But it’s clear that the credit score system is outdated.

Grab Financial Group raises $300 million Series A led by Hanhwa Asset Management


This post is by Catherine Shu from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Grab Financial Group said today it has raised more than $300 million in Series A funding, led by South Korean firm Hanhwa Asset Management, with participation from K3 Ventures, GGV Capital, Arbor Ventures and Flourish Ventures.

The Financial Times reports that the funding values Grab Financial, a subsidiary of ride-hailing and delivery giant Grab, at $3 billion. Both K3 Ventures and GGV Capital were early investors in Grab, which was founded in 2012.

Back in February 2020, Grab announced it had raised $856 million in funding to grow its payment and financial services. That news came during speculation that Grab and Gojek, one of it top rivals, were finally getting closer to a merger after lengthy discussions.

But the Grab-Gojek talks stalled, and Gojek is now reportedly in talks to merge with Indonesia e-commerce platform Tokopedia instead. According to Bloomberg, the combined company would be worth $18 billion, making it a more formidable rival to Grab.

In its funding announcement, Grab Financial Group said its total revenues grew more than 40% in 2020, compared to 2019. This driven by strong consumer adoption of services like AutoInvest, an investment platform that allows users to invest small amounts of money at a time through the Grab app and insurance products. Grab Financial announced the launch of several financial products for consumers and SMEs in August 2020.

Usagea of digital financial services by consumers and SMEs in Southeast Asia increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report published by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company in November, usage of banking apps and online payments, remittances, insurance products and robo-advisor investment platforms all grew in 2020, and the region’s financial services market may be reach $60 billion in revenue by 2025.

A consortium between Grab-Singtel was also among several firms awarded a full digital-banking license by the Monetary Authority of Singapore in December 2020.

In a press statement, Hanhwa Asset Management chief executive officer Yong Hyun Kim said, “We expect GFG to continue its expontential growth on the back of an innovative business model which supports the changing broader lifestyle of consumers, as well as its highly synergistic relationship with Grab, the largest Southeast Asian unicorn.”

Adorable Fish Bots Get Schooled in How to Swarm


This post is by Matt Simon from Feed: All Latest

Meet Bluebot, a friendly swimming robot with big camera eyes. Put a few in a tank together and they’ll collaborate to complete surprisingly complex tasks.

Affirm doubles after starting to trade despite strong IPO pricing


This post is by Natasha Mascarenhas from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Today shares of Affirm, a buy-now-pay-later unicorn, started trading above $90 per share, far above its $49 per-share IPO price, a figure that was already miles above the company’s early expectations.

The pop comes after Affirm raised its pricing range earlier this week, to $41 to $44 per share, up from an initial range of $33 to $38 per share. To see the company double from its raised price implies strong demand for its shares, a thin float, or both.

Affirm’s explosive debut comes on the heels of similarly strong results from DoorDash, C3.ai and Airbnb. Those companies’ debuts were so strong that Roblox delayed its IPO, later swapping a traditional IPO for a direct listing to get around the pricing issue.

Today’s IPO shows that the same dynamics that were at play in those IPOs have persisted into 2021. More public debuts are expected in Q1, including Coinbase, another well-known unicorn. Other names like Robinhood, Bumble and others are in the wings.

Affirm’s first-day performance will certainly raise eyebrows from regular critics of the traditional IPO process. But the company did raise more money than it perhaps anticipated, and is having a raucous first-day’s trading, so it’s hard to fret too much for the company. If its share price is still as high in a month as it is today, perhaps it was as underpriced as some will claim.

Fintech

Affirm’s pricing brings a green splash to a busy week for fintech giants. Yesterday, Visa’s $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid failed to go through due to regulatory concerns. While the fallen deal could have a chilling effect on fintech startups, Plaid told TechCrunch that it saw 60% customer growth in 2020, bringing it to more than 4,000 clients. Plaid’s next step, per many in the VC and tech community, will be even bigger than its once-planned $5.3 billion dollar exit.

Some tweets here to give you a sense of the momentum around fintech right now:

Affirm’s pop and Plaid’s forward-looking attitude show that the exit market for fintech feels both optimistic and energetic.

Affirm doubles after starting to trade despite strong IPO pricing


This post is by Natasha Mascarenhas from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Today shares of Affirm, a buy-now-pay-later unicorn, started trading above $90 per share, far above its $49 per-share IPO price, a figure that was already miles above the company’s early expectations.

The pop comes after Affirm raised its pricing range earlier this week, to $41 to $44 per share, up from an initial range of $33 to $38 per share. To see the company double from its raised price implies strong demand for its shares, a thin float, or both.

Affirm’s explosive debut comes on the heels of similarly strong results from DoorDash, C3.ai and Airbnb. Those companies’ debuts were so strong that Roblox delayed its IPO, later swapping a traditional IPO for a direct listing to get around the pricing issue.

Today’s IPO shows that the same dynamics that were at play in those IPOs have persisted into 2021. More public debuts are expected in Q1, including Coinbase, another well-known unicorn. Other names like Robinhood, Bumble and others are in the wings.

Affirm’s first-day performance will certainly raise eyebrows from regular critics of the traditional IPO process. But the company did raise more money than it perhaps anticipated, and is having a raucous first-day’s trading, so it’s hard to fret too much for the company. If its share price is still as high in a month as it is today, perhaps it was as underpriced as some will claim.

Fintech

Affirm’s pricing brings a green splash to a busy week for fintech giants. Yesterday, Visa’s $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid failed to go through due to regulatory concerns. While the fallen deal could have a chilling effect on fintech startups, Plaid told TechCrunch that it saw 60% customer growth in 2020, bringing it to more than 4,000 clients. Plaid’s next step, per many in the VC and tech community, will be even bigger than its once-planned $5.3 billion dollar exit.

Some tweets here to give you a sense of the momentum around fintech right now:

Affirm’s pop and Plaid’s forward-looking attitude show that the exit market for fintech feels both optimistic and energetic.

16 Minutes on the News #50: FinCEN Crypto Rulemaking; Haven Healthcare Breakup


This post is by zoran from Andreessen Horowitz

We’re covering two trends in this week’s episode of “16 Minutes,” where we talk about the news, tech trends, and the long arc of innovation: 

#1 FinCEN, the Treasury Department’s financial crimes enforcement arm, proposed a new rule targeting cryptocurrency

The post 16 Minutes on the News #50: FinCEN Crypto Rulemaking; Haven Healthcare Breakup appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.

Indonesian investment platform Ajaib gets $25 million Series A led by Horizons Venture and Alpha JWC


This post is by Catherine Shu from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Ajaib Group, an online investment platform that says it now runs the fifth-largest stock brokerage in Indonesia by number of trades, announced it has raised a $25 million Series A led by Horizons Ventures, the venture capital firm founded by Li Ka-Shing, and Alpha JWC. Returning investors SoftBank Ventures Asia, Insignia Ventures and Y Combinator also participated in the round, which was made in two closes.

Founded in 2019 by chief executive officer Anderson Sumarli and chief operating officer Yada Piyajomkwan, Ajaib Group focuses on millennials and first-time investors, and currently claims one million monthly users. It has now raised a total of $27 million, including a $2 million seed round in 2019.

Stock investment has a very low penetration rate in Indonesia, with only about 1.6 million capital market investors in the country, or less than 1% of its population (in comparison, about 55% of Americans own stocks, according to Gallup data).

The very low penetration rate, coupled with growing interest in the capital market among retail investors during the pandemic, has spurred VC interest in online investment platforms, especially ones that focus on millennials. Last week, Indonesian investment app Bibit announced a $30 million growth round led by Sequoia Capital India, while another online investment platform, Bareksa, confirmed an undisclosed Series B from payment app OVO last year.

Ajaib Group’s founders said it differentiates as a low-fee stock trading platform that also offers mutual funds for diversification. Bibit is a robo-advisor for mutual funds, while Bareksa is a mutual fund marketplace.

In an email, Sumarli and Piyajomkwan told TechCrunch that the stock investment rate is low in Indonesia because it is typically done by high net-worth individuals who use offline brokers and can afford high commissions. Ajaib Group was launched in 2019 after Sumarli became frustrated by the lack of investment platforms in Indonesia where he could also learn about stock trading.

Inspired by companies like Robinhood in the United States and XP Investimentos in Brazil, Ajaib Group was created to be a mobile-first stock trading platform, with no offline brokers or branches. It appeals to first-time investors and millennials with a simple user interface, in-app education features and a community where people can share investment ideas and low fees.

Since people prefer to invest small amounts when trying out the app for the first time, Ajaib requires no minimums to open a brokerage account. Piyajomkwan said “we typically see investors triple their investment amount within the second month of investing with Ajaib.”

Ajaib Group’s platform now includes Ajaib Sekuritas for stock trading and Ajaib Reksadana for mutual funds. The company says that Ajaib Sekuritas became the fifth-largest stock brokerage in Indonesia by number of trades just seven months after it launched in June 2020.

The Indonesian government and Indonesia Stock Exchange have launched initiatives to encourage more stock investing. Some of Ajaib Group’s Series A will be used for its #MentorInvestai campaign, which works with the government to educate millennials about investing and financial planning. The round will also be spent on expanding Ajaib’s tech infrastructure and products, and to hire more engineers.

Ajaib may eventually expand into other Southeast Asian markets, but for the near future, it sees plenty of opportunity in Indonesia. “Ajaib was built with regional aspiration, having two founders from the two biggest capital markets in Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Thailand,” Piyajomkwan said. “But for the immediate term, we are focused on Indonesia as investment penetration is still low and there are many more millennial investors we can serve.”

 

What’s going on with fintech venture capital investment?


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Over the next few weeks, the venture capital industry will compile and release data concerning its Q4 2020 performance, capping a year that saw the world of private capital freeze, thaw and burn.

But we can get a peek at a critical part of the VC universe early, thanks to a preview of global fintech investment results from CB Insights. The dataset deals with worldwide investments into fintech companies from the start of October through December 12.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Given that the last two weeks of the year are not famous for productivity, the dataset we have should prove representative for this critical slice of the venture capital market. (For our look at the third-quarter fintech VC market, head here.)

To be honest, I didn’t plan on writing up this data when I first dug into it; I was prepping for later releases, hoping to ground myself ahead of the full numbers. However, the collected results aligned with several themes that cropped up during 2020, making it a representative capstone of sorts concerning the year’s venture capital market. So it was too interesting to not unpack.

What happened to fintech venture capital investment in Q4 and 2020? Some startup stages and regions did well, but amidst the good news, one of the hotter domestic segments of startup land is not set to have a good global year. Let’s get into the numbers.

A final warning: Although these results are missing a few weeks’ worth of inputs, we believe these numbers will prove more than directionally accurate when all results are tallied and released by the various organs of venture data tracking.

North America and Europe shine, Asia falls

Using numbers that include projections for the rest of 2020, it’s clear that the fintech venture capital world is not equally distributed. If you are reading this in the United States, for example, or the U.K., you might be surprised to learn that CB Insights expects global fintech venture capital deal and dollar volume to fall in 2020. Surely not, with all the neobank and trading-platform deals we saw?

Yes, actually, because while fintech investment has risen in dollar terms in both North America and Europe, huge declines in Asia have overshadowed results in the other two regions. Here’s the clip of the preview chart:

Image Credits: CB Insights

Lydia raises another $86 million to build European financial super app


This post is by Romain Dillet from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

French fintech startup Lydia has extended its Series B round. Accel is leading the extension with all major existing shareholders also participating. Lydia first raised $45 million in January 2020 — Tencent led that investment. The startup is now raising another $86 million, which means that Lydia has raised $131 million in total as part of its Series B round.

While Lydia wouldn’t discuss the valuation of the round, its co-founder and CEO gave me a hint. “The value of the company has really significantly increased between the two parts of the B round,” he told me.

Interestingly, Amit Jhawar is heading this investment for Accel. He joined Accel as a venture partner in July and he’s going to join Lydia’s board of directors.

Jhawar joined payments company Braintree in 2011 as COO and CFO. Shortly after, Braintree acquired peer-to-peer payment app Venmo. “When we acquired Venmo it was only 15 people. They had just released their mobile app in April of 2012,” Jhawar told me in a phone interview.

PayPal later acquired Braintree and Venmo — Jhawar stuck around until early 2020 to scale Venmo to the huge fintech consumer app that 52 million people use in the U.S. Jhawar believes that peer-to-peer payments represent the beginning of a long-term consumer relationship.

“You know that P2P is successful when they leave money in their account because they’re going to come back,” he said.

Back in 2014, when I first covered Lydia, I called it the Venmo for France — they had only raised €600,000 back then. It seems like Jhawar agrees with that take. Since then, Lydia has grown quite a lot and has expanded beyond peer-to-peer payments in various different ways.

With Lydia, you can send money to another user in just a few seconds. You don’t have to enter an account number in your banking app — as long as you know their phone number, they’ll receive your payment.

If you have money in your account, you can choose to spend it directly using a Visa debit card. Lydia lets you generate a virtual card that works with Apple Pay and Google Pay — you can also order a plastic card.

Lydia also supports direct deposit as you get your own IBAN in the app. You can also create money pots and send a link to other users, view your bank accounts in Lydia, donate money to hospitals and charities, get a credit line, etc.

But there’s one killer feature that stands out over the rest. Bank accounts tend to be monolithic and don’t reflect how you use money. “If you look at banks today, they call the main account a checking account. It’s outdated by design,” Chiche said.

Lydia has created flexible sub-accounts that you can use in many different ways. You can create a second sub-account and set some money aside for your bills. You can create a third one and share it with a few friends because you’re going on a vacation together.

You can move money from one account to another by swiping your finger across the account grid. As you can have multiple contributors and you can change the account associated with your debit card, it means that money flows more naturally. It feels like using a messaging app, not a financial app.

And it’s been working well in France. The company now has over 4 million users. Transactions have doubled over the past year, which means that usage is accelerating.

“Lydia has the largest P2P network in Europe outside of PayPal and has the potential to grow all across Europe with a mobile-first, customer-focused solution. This will bring demand for incremental consumer financial products and high merchant interest to accept the payment,” Jhawar told me in an email.

And 2020 has been a busy year for Lydia. The company has just released a complete redesign to better position the app as a super app for financial services. All the interactions and all the main tabs have been changed.

Lydia also re-launched its premium offering with two new premium plans that offer you higher limits over the free plan and an insurance package for the most expensive offer. Those plans are more in line with what the app offers today and should contribute to the company’s bottom line. “The next step is bringing Lydia to profitability and it’s something that has always been important for us,” Chiche said in a recent interview.

Behind the scenes, Lydia has also upgraded many core features, such as migrating cards to a new infrastructure, adding alerts to account aggregation, supporting instant SEPA transfers to bank accounts, etc.

In 2021, the company plans to build on top of that new foundation with more financial products. “We’re going to try every single product — credit, savings, investment,” Chiche said.

The company is also slowly expanding to more countries. But it wants to offer a product that feels like a local product with a local card and a local IBAN to increase acceptance rates. Lydia is starting with Portugal.

Thomvest’s Latest Fintech Investment in Neo Financial


This post is by Amrit Dhillon from Thomvest Ventures - Medium

Announcing Thomvest’s Investment in Neo Financial

Neo Financial founders Kris Read, Andrew Chau & Jeff Adamson

We’re thrilled to announce our investment in Neo Financial’s $25 million Series A fundraising round, alongside participation from co-investors Valar Ventures, Shopify founder Tobi Lutke, Golden Ventures, Inovia Capital, Afore Capital, Maple VC, FJ Labs, and District Ventures. This investment represents both a continued commitment to fintech, as well as an expansion of our portfolio in Canada.

The legacy Canadian banking sector

The Canadian banking sector is an oligopoly and the largest 5 banks control ~90% of market share. The Big 5 have dominated Canadian personal finance for decades, but they are slow to innovate and are driven by legacy technology and siloed products.

Here at Thomvest, we believe there is a meaningful gap in the Canadian banking market today — innovation has been slow due to Canada’s legacy banking technology infrastructure and regulatory hurdles, but Canadians expect their banking providers to behave like technology companies. As a result, we believe there’s strong demand for a better banking experience that’s seamless, transparent, and more modern.

Meet Neo

We were introduced to Neo’s founding team, who previously worked together for several years at SkipTheDishes, and were impressed by their desire to build a powerful technology platform to challenge Canada’s existing financial sector. Neo has taken advantage of the market opportunity and has been growing rapidly from their headquarters in Calgary. The company is modernizing rewards-based credit cards in Canada and is re-imagining savings by using technology to simplify finances and create rewarding experiences.

Neo currently offers 2 products:

  1. Neo Card helps Canadians earn more with their credit card by creating a rewards marketplace that does not exist elsewhere in Canada; and
  2. Neo Savings reduces the complexity of banking by having a single hybrid savings and chequing account.

Neo Card is a no annual fee credit card, with embedded and automatic rewards from merchants. Customers are able to apply within the Neo app and get the card in minutes. The application process is one of the first in Canada to use digital identity validation technology, and once approved, users can load their card to their phone and start using it immediately.

By using their Neo Card, customers will earn personalized rewards from hundreds of merchant partners. When a cardholder shops at a Neo merchant partner’s store, their purchases are automatically applied towards the merchant’s loyalty program and sponsored offers.

How Neo Card Stacks Up

Neo Savings is a high-interest savings account that earns members up to 30 times more than the Big 5 banks. Neo Savings is a simpler way to manage money that’s also more rewarding. Neo Savings has no monthly fees, minimum balance, or transaction limits.

How Neo Savings Stacks Up

We couldn’t be happier to be investing in the digital transformation of banking and are excited to be working with the Neo Financial team as they continue to grow and build a leading Canadian financial institution.


Thomvest’s Latest Fintech Investment in Neo Financial was originally published in Thomvest Ventures on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Thomvest’s Latest Fintech Investment in Neo Financial


This post is by Amrit Dhillon from Thomvest Ventures - Medium

Announcing Thomvest’s Investment in Neo Financial

Neo Financial founders Kris Read, Andrew Chau & Jeff Adamson

We’re thrilled to announce our investment in Neo Financial’s $25 million Series A fundraising round, alongside participation from co-investors Valar Ventures, Shopify founder Tobi Lutke, Golden Ventures, Inovia Capital, Afore Capital, Maple VC, FJ Labs, and District Ventures. This investment represents both a continued commitment to fintech, as well as an expansion of our portfolio in Canada.

The legacy Canadian banking sector

The Canadian banking sector is an oligopoly and the largest 5 banks control ~90% of market share. The Big 5 have dominated Canadian personal finance for decades, but they are slow to innovate and are driven by legacy technology and siloed products.

Here at Thomvest, we believe there is a meaningful gap in the Canadian banking market today — innovation has been slow due to Canada’s legacy banking technology infrastructure and regulatory hurdles, but Canadians expect their banking providers to behave like technology companies. As a result, we believe there’s strong demand for a better banking experience that’s seamless, transparent, and more modern.

Meet Neo

We were introduced to Neo’s founding team, who previously worked together for several years at SkipTheDishes, and were impressed by their desire to build a powerful technology platform to challenge Canada’s existing financial sector. Neo has taken advantage of the market opportunity and has been growing rapidly from their headquarters in Calgary. The company is modernizing rewards-based credit cards in Canada and is re-imagining savings by using technology to simplify finances and create rewarding experiences.

Neo currently offers 2 products:

  1. Neo Card helps Canadians earn more with their credit card by creating a rewards marketplace that does not exist elsewhere in Canada; and
  2. Neo Savings reduces the complexity of banking by having a single hybrid savings and chequing account.

Neo Card is a no annual fee credit card, with embedded and automatic rewards from merchants. Customers are able to apply within the Neo app and get the card in minutes. The application process is one of the first in Canada to use digital identity validation technology, and once approved, users can load their card to their phone and start using it immediately.

By using their Neo Card, customers will earn personalized rewards from hundreds of merchant partners. When a cardholder shops at a Neo merchant partner’s store, their purchases are automatically applied towards the merchant’s loyalty program and sponsored offers.

How Neo Card Stacks Up

Neo Savings is a high-interest savings account that earns members up to 30 times more than the Big 5 banks. Neo Savings is a simpler way to manage money that’s also more rewarding. Neo Savings has no monthly fees, minimum balance, or transaction limits.

How Neo Savings Stacks Up

We couldn’t be happier to be investing in the digital transformation of banking and are excited to be working with the Neo Financial team as they continue to grow and build a leading Canadian financial institution.


Thomvest’s Latest Fintech Investment in Neo Financial was originally published in Thomvest Ventures on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

EMTECH Helps Build Modern Financial Market Infrastructures in Emerging Markets


This post is by Clayton Bryan from 500 Insights

The financial market infrastructure in emerging markets is not always able to support all citizens. Worldwide, there are 1.7 billion adults who are unbanked, causing a problem in need of an immediate solution to prevent economic inequities. We believe Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) could offer central banks more favorable economics and control versus a […]

The post EMTECH Helps Build Modern Financial Market Infrastructures in Emerging Markets appeared first on 500 Insights.

Seoul-based payment tech startup CHAI gets $60 million from Hanhwa, SoftBank Ventures Asia


This post is by Catherine Shu from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Demand for contactless payments and e-commerce has grown in South Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is good news for payment service operators, but the market is very fragmented, so adding payment options is a time-consuming process for many merchants. CHAI wants to fix this with an API that enables companies to accept over 20 payment systems. The Seoul-based startup announced today it has raised a $60 million Series B.

The round was led by Hanhwa Investment & Securities, with participation from SoftBank Ventures Asia (the early-stage venture capital arm of SoftBank Group), SK Networks, Aarden Partners and other strategic partners. It brings CHAI’s total funding to $75 million, including a $15 million Series A in February.

Last month, the Bank of Korea, South Korea’s central bank, released a report showing that ()contactless payments increased 17% year-over-year since the start of COVID-19.

CHAI serves e-commerce companies with an API called I’mport, that allows them to accept payments from over twenty options, including debit and credit cards through local payment gateways, digital wallets, wire transfers, carrier billings and PayPal. It is now used by 2,200 merchants, including Nike Korea and Philip Morris Korea.

CHAI chief executive officer Daniel Shin told TechCrunch that businesses would usually have to integrate each kind of online payment type separately, so I’mport saves its clients a lot of time.

The company also offers its own digital wallet and debit card called the CHAI Card, which launched in June 2019 and now has 2.5 million users, a small number compared South Korea’s leading digital wallets, which include Samsung Pay, Naver Pay, Kakao Pay and Toss.

“CHAI is a late comer to Korea’s digital payments market, but we saw a unique opportunity to offer value,” said Shin. The CHAI Card offers merchants a lower transaction fee than other cards and users typically check its app about 20 times to see new cashback offers and other rewards based on how often they pay with their cards or digital wallet.

“We’ve digitized the plastic card experience, and this is the first step towards creating a robust online rewards platform,” Shin added.

In press statement, Hanhwa Investment & Securities director SeungYoung Oh director said, “I’mport has reduced what once took e-commerce businesses weeks to complete into a simple copy-and-paste task, radically reducing costs. It is a first-of-its-kind business model in Korea, and I have no doubt that CHAI will continue to grow this service into an essential infrastructure of the global fintech landscape.”

Community Takes All: The Power of Social+


This post is by Lauren Murrow from Andreessen Horowitz

Social Strikes Back is a series exploring the next generation of social networks and how they’re shaping the future of consumer tech. See more at a16z.com/social-strikes-back.

There’s one rule of thumb that’s proven true over and over again: the

The post Community Takes All: The Power of Social+ appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.

The Stickiest, Most Addictive, Most Engaging, and Fastest-Growing Social Apps—and How to Measure Them


This post is by Lauren Murrow from Andreessen Horowitz

Social Strikes Back is a series exploring the next generation of social networks and how they’re shaping the future of consumer tech. See more at a16z.com/social-strikes-back.

When a social app is working, it’s often clear in the data: how

The post The Stickiest, Most Addictive, Most Engaging, and Fastest-Growing Social Apps—and How to Measure Them appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.

The Stickiest, Most Addictive, Most Engaging, and Fastest-Growing Social Apps—and How to Measure Them


This post is by Lauren Murrow from Andreessen Horowitz

Social Strikes Back is a series exploring the next generation of social networks and how they’re shaping the future of consumer tech. See more at a16z.com/social-strikes-back.

When a social app is working, it’s often clear in the data: how

The post The Stickiest, Most Addictive, Most Engaging, and Fastest-Growing Social Apps—and How to Measure Them appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.

a16z Podcast: The ‘Holy Grail’ of Social + Fintech


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Lauren Murrow. The original is [linked here]

Social Strikes Back is a series exploring the next generation of social networks and how they’re shaping the future of consumer tech. See more at a16z.com/social-strikes-back.

The intersection of social and finance—as well as shifting attitudes around what we …

The post a16z Podcast: The ‘Holy Grail’ of Social + Fintech appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.

a16z Podcast: The ‘Holy Grail’ of Social + Fintech


This post is by Lauren Murrow from Andreessen Horowitz

Social Strikes Back is a series exploring the next generation of social networks and how they’re shaping the future of consumer tech. See more at a16z.com/social-strikes-back.

The intersection of social and finance—as well as shifting attitudes around what we …

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