Weekly Update

TFU | Apr. 27 – May 3

Leading Off

WhatsApp is exploring offering credit products in India; Stash raised $112M despite the market turndown; Telegram postponed the launch of its TON blockchain for a second time due to regulatory pressure; the FCA delayed implementation of the EU’s enhanced identity rules for payments by six months; and FIS announced a $150M fintech venture fund.

In the News

WhatsApp eyes lending in India.  In a regulatory filing, the Facebook-owned company declared it would pursue credit and loan offerings in the country. Despite registering interest in lending products, WhatsApp has not yet received regulatory approval to roll out its Pay feature in India. Meanwhile, Amazon rolled out Pay Later (providing instant access to credit) in the country. 

Stash raises $112M.  Despite the market downturn, the New York-based fintech raised $112M in funding led by publicly-listed lending platform LendingTree. Stash, which provides a mobile-first route to managing money through investment (including retirement, custodial and more routine banking), will use the money to expand its business which has $1B in assets under management.

Telegram postpones coin launch (again).  Facing pressure from the SEC, the messaging app has postponed the launch of its TON blockchain for the second time. The delay, which pushes the launch to April 2021, has triggered a costly clawback clause with investors promising them favorable returns. Telegram, having lost a court battle with the SEC in October, is still in negotiations with the regulator. 

FCA extends SCA deadline by six months.  The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has delayed implementation of the EU’s enhanced identity rules for payments, Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), by a further six months to September 2021. This follows calls from European industry representatives for more time for implementation, citing the strain on payments from the Coronavirus pandemic.

FIS sets up $150M venture fund.  The financial technology company has established a venture arm that plans to invest $150M in fintech startups over three years. FIS says the new unit will invest globally in early to growth-stage startups with a focus on emerging technologies from AI to distributed-ledger technologies. 

RBS closes customer-facing digital bank Bó.  RBS is “winding down” Bó, an app-based account accompanied by a yellow payment card, which was launched in November 2019. Bó was aimed at challenging startups Monzo, Revolut, and Starling. RBS will now merge Bó with its digital bank for SMEs, Mettle.

WEF publishes blockchain deployment toolkit.  The World Economic Forum (WEF) toolkit aims to help governments and organizations use blockchain to increase resilience in supply chains. WEF accelerated launch of the toolkit in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and sees it as a “starting point for improving long-term pandemic preparedness and accelerating an economic recovery”.

Santander officially acquires Ebury.  The Spanish bank officially acquired a majority stake in the fast-growing payments platform for $453M after clearing regulatory approvals. The UK-based platform is aimed at providing SMBs with trade finance services to allow for global expansion. The goal of the acquisition, announced in November, is to boost Santander’s global payments business.

WeLab offers Hong Kong handouts as loans.  The fintech behind a new bank in the territory is offering to pay out government handouts of HK$10,000 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic as interest-free loans as administrative delays look likely to delay government payments to the third quarter. WeLab hopes the move will help it generate publicity for its virtual banking unit.

Monzo recruits a new COO.  Monzo confirmed Sujata Bhatia’s appointment to start as COO in late June, which is still subject to regulatory approval. Spending 16 years at American Express, Bahtia’s most recent role was Senior Vice President for Global Merchant Services Europe, responsible for owning and managing P&L for 30 European countries.

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