Kik is crowdfunding money to officially challenge the SEC’s ruling that its Kin token is subject to securities rules; IBM and Maersk expanded their successful blockchain-based TradeLens shipping consortium; Facebook’s GlobalCoin is reportedly set to launch in early 2020; the German Bundesbank was critical of blockchain following a test of its ability to facilitate securities transactions; TransferWise raised nearly $300M in new funding, giving it a $3.5B valuation; and Plaid expanded services to the U.K.
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Kik challenges the SEC over its ‘Kin’ token. The Canadian social media company announced a crowdfunding effort to help it fight a ruling from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that its Kin token is subject to securities rules. Kik’s fight has drawn interest from investors and exchanges like Circle, who hope the legal battle will result in changes to how tokens are regulated.
IBM-Maersk consortium grows. The companies announced that two more shipping companies have joined their blockchain-based TradeLens tool after a year of successful testing. With the additions of CMA CGM and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, TradeLens “now encompasses almost half of the world’s cargo container shipments,” bringing further improvements to global cargo tracking.
Facebook’s cryptocurrency set for 2020 launch. As has been widely reported, the social media giant is developing a cryptocurrency called GlobalCoin, which will reportedly go live in 12 countries at the start of next year. Facebook has also launched a new Swiss entity to support its crypto efforts, while Mark Zuckerberg has had discussions with the Bank of England and U.S. Treasury about risks and regulation.
German Bundesbank critical of blockchain settlements. In a trial to transfer and settle securities, Germany’s central bank found blockchain to be slower and more costly than traditional methods. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said that while the prototype “in principle fulfilled all basic regulatory features for financial transactions . . . a real breakthrough in application is missing so far.”
TransferWise raises $292M, now valued at $3.5B. The London-based money transfer service raised $292 million in new funding at a $3.5 billion post-money valuation, making it one of the largest fintech firms in Europe. Co-founder and chairman Taavet Hinrikus noted that the company is growing quickly and that capital is not an issue, suggesting that a public offering in the near future is unlikely.
Brex raises new funding at $2B valuation. The San Francisco-based firm, which offers corporate credit cards tailored to entrepreneurs, is reportedly raising new funding that would value it at $2 billion after only two years of operations. The Y Combinator graduate has already raised $182 million in VC funding, at a valuation of $1.1 billion. Kleiner Perkins is said to be leading the new round.
SoFi raises $500M. The online lender closed a single funding round led by the Qatar Investment Authority valued at $500 million. The new money brings SoFi’s total funding to $2.3 billion, although its $4.3 billion valuation has not changed from its previous funding round. The company has recently rolled out several new products, including the two no-fee ETFs it introduced last month.
Revolut leads U.K. fintechs in official complaints. The challenger bank was the subject of 171 official complaints to the U.K. Financial Ombudsman between 2015 and 2018. Revolut received more than double the number lodged against rival Monzo, which has roughly the same number of customers. Revolut recently hired a new head of public affairs amid a spate of negative press about the firm.
Hinman: Some crypto assets could evolve beyond SEC regulation. The SEC’s Director of Corporation Finance, William Hinman, said at the agency’s recent fintech forum that “digital assets may evolve into an instrument that no longer needs to be regulated as such,” referencing the example of TurnKey Jets, which was given a no-action letter earlier this year.
Plaid launches in U.K. The San Francisco-based firm, which builds APIs to connect consumers’ bank accounts with third-party apps, expanded to the U.K., “supporting integrations with eight of the UK’s biggest banks and neobanks.” Plaid has grown rapidly recently, closing a $250 million Series C funding in December that gave it a $2.65 billion valuation.
Nubank enters Mexican banking market. The Brazilian digital-only bank set up a Mexican subsidiary, taking advantage of a new fintech law in the country that waives the need for a banking license. The move represents Nubank’s first entry into a foreign market, becoming the first new lender in Mexico in 12 years. The bank hopes to launch its first product by the end of the year.