Fintech Briefing
24th February 2021
AI, Big Data and Analytics
Authentication and Security
Digital Finance Trends
Funding, Investment and M&A
Digital Banking and Payments
AI, Big Data and Analytics
Commonwealth Bank of Australia adds $1bn to tech budget in push for AI services

Commonwealth Bank of Australia is to add $1m to its five-year A$5bn technology spending budget, which is aimed at developing personalised digital services and competing with emerging fintech firms. CEO Matt Comyn says the Covid-19 pandemic has driven more customers to remote banking, and that as result, the bank seeks to use advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide a more personalised service to customers using its app.

Best source: ZDNet
Canada’s Symend raises $43m for AI-based customer engagement platform

Canadian start-up Symend has closed a $43m series B+ funding round led by Inovia Capital, topping up a May 2020 $52m raise. The firm helps companies such as financial institutions and utilities identify and assist customers struggling to pay bills, with a white-label digital engagement platform that uses behavioural science and artificial intelligence to enable businesses to identify at-risk customers. The platform can also provide evidence-based recommendations for unique treatment strategies that aim to treat customers with empathy while increasing the likelihood of repayment.

Best source: TechCrunch
Personetics raises $75m for AI-driven customer engagement platform

New York-based Personetics has closed a $75m investment from Warburg Pincus. The company offers a proprietary artificial intelligence software platform to help financial institutions boost customer personalisation and engagement, using personal financial data to customise individual user experiences. Analysing billions of transactions on a daily basis, its tecmology is currently being used by more than 95 million customers of clients such as US Bank, RBC, Santander, Metro Bank and Mitsubishi UFG.

Best source: Crunchbase News
European Central Bank to boost use of data analytics and artificial intelligence in bank supervision

The European Central Bank plans to increase its use of data analytics and artificial intelligence in bank supervision to keep up with developments in financial institutions, according to Pentti Hakkarainen, who heads digital activities for the Single Supervisory Mechanism. The ECB will rely on digital strategies and innovations developed by national supervisory authorities, especially so-called suptech applications designed to make supervision predictive and proactive rather than just backward-looking.

Best source: Börsen-Zeitung (subscription required, in German)
People trust AI over humans to manage their finances: survey

An Oracle survey of more than 9,000 consumers and business leaders in 14 countries has found that more than two-thirds of respondents trust robots more than humans to manage their financial affairs. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of business leaders trust artificial intelligence more than themselves to manage finances, and 77% have greater faith in AI than in their own finance teams, while 63% of consumers trust AIs over personal financial advisors. However, consumers still value human contact when making major purchasing decisions.

Best source: Global Banking & Finance Review
See also: The Hindu
Authentication and Security
Swiss banks authorised to obtain data from client identity document microchips

Finma is to authorise banks and other financial institutions to scan the microchips in passports or other identity documents to identify new clients during online onboarding. Using near field communication technology and a smartphone app, customers will be able to provide banks with access to personal data and photographs, but not biometric data, from the middle of 2021.

Best source: Netzwoche (in German)
UK’s Financial Conduct Authority targeted by 80,000 malicious e-mails a month

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority was targeted by 238,711 malicious and unsolicited emails in the final three months of 2020, according to the response to a freedom of information request. November saw the largest number, with the FCA receiving 84,723 total malicious messages, including 831 e-mails containing malware.

Best source: Fintech Times
Singapore regulator tightens cyber-crime risk guidelines

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has responded to a consultation it conducted last year by revising its technology risk management guidelines. Financial institutions must implement enhanced risk management for cyber-threats to information sharing with trusted parties, detect and respond to misinformation related to the institutions, and conduct cyber-security stress tests.

Best source: Regulation Asia
AI-powered risk management platform Mirato raises $9m

Israel-based Mirato has raised $9m in a fundraising round led by Grove Ventures and Janvest Capital Partners, with participation from American Express Ventures and iAngels. The company has developed an artificial intelligence-driven third party risk management platform for financial institutions that automates the entire risk management lifecycle, including onboarding and monitoring.

Best source: Finextra
Digital Finance Trends
Central bank digital currencies could come to 20% of world within three years: BIS

Central banks that serve 20% of the world’s population are likely to issue their own digital currencies within the next three years, according to a survey by the Bank for International Settlements. Central banks are keen to head off the potential threat posed by Facebook's Diem (formerly Libra) stablecoin, while those that have introduced negative interest rates are examining whether digital cash could facilitate the policy. BIS's survey of 65 central banks found that 86% were exploring the benefits and drawbacks of digital currencies, with emerging and developing economy central banks more receptive to the idea.

Best source: Reuters
Global peer-to-peer lending up 14% in 2020 with increased growth predicted this year

The transaction value of global business peer-to-peer lending has risen by almost 14% to $206.1bn in value last year, according to Finaria. The Italian foreign exchange trading platform says the trend is set to continue in 2021, when it expects the market to grow by 17% to $241.6bn, rising to more than $297bn by 2024.

Best source: Finaria
UK remains Europe’s leading hub for investment in fintech: Innovate Finance

The UK remained the leader for financial technology investment in Europe and second worldwide last year, with $4.1bn in venture capital and growth private equity invested in 408 deals, according to Innovate Finance, although the total was 9% lower than in the previous year. Global fintech investment amounted to $44bn in 3,052 deals, with the US attracting $22bn, up 29% from 2019, while Indonesia was third with $3.3bn and India fourth with $2.6bn.

Best source: P2P Finance
Quantitative hedge fund firm turns to Reddit for sentiment forecaster

New York-based quantitative hedge fund manager Cindicator Capital is advertising for an active member of the wallstreetbets sub-Reddit community to join the firm as a sentiment trader with a £200,000 salary. The wallstreetbets forum caused a storm in financial markets in January with a collective drive to buy stocks sold short by prominent hedge fund firms. Cindicator Capital is looking to get ahead of the competition with a staff member who can report on prevailing mood and direction of the Reddit investment community.

Best source: Bloomberg (subscription required)
N26 sees profit within reach after adding two million new customers during pandemic

Germany-based digital bank N26 says it has acquired two million new customers since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, taking the total to seven million. Co-founder Valentin Stalf says the pandemic has been effectively driving the business as it targets moving into profit this year or in 2022. N26 more than halved its annual loss to €110m in 2020, while tripling its workforce to 1,500, investing in its core markets and building up its US business.

Best source: Handelsblatt (subscription required, in German)
See also: Finextra
Funding, Investment and M&A
Crypto-currency wallet provider raises $120m from investors

Crypto-currency wallet provider has raised $120m in a fundraising round led by Google Ventures, Moore Strategic Ventures, Kyle Bass, Access Industries, Rovida Advisors, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Lakestar and Eldridge. The company says it has helped customers create more than 65 million crypto-currency wallets in more than 200 countries, with around 28% of all bitcoin transactions since 2012 occurring via The company has raised more than $190m since its launch.

Best source: TechCrunch
French invoice management start-up Libeo raises €20m

Libeo has raised €20m in a funding round led by partners of DST Global, Serena, LocalGlobe and Breega, with participation from various angel investors. Based in France, Libeo simplifies the management and payment of supplier invoices by connecting companies to each other directly. It claims that the number of B2B payments it has processed has multiplied by 30 over the past 12 months, to €100m per year from more than 35,000 firms. Its new funding comes less than a year after it completed a €4m seed round.

Best source: Libeo
TCV targets sectors including e-commerce and fintech after closing $4bn fund

TCV, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has previously invested in Airbnb, Spotify, Peloton and Facebook, has closed its latest fund, TCV XI, with a record $4bn. TCV plans to continue backing its existing portfolio companies, as well as to invest in new start-ups emerging from the fintech, e-commerce, education and other sectors. Over the past year, TCV has invested in Mollie (which raised $106m), Spryker ($130m), Revolut ($500m), Klarna ($650m), Nubank ($400m), Mambu ($135m) and Strava ($110m).

Best source: TechCrunch
PensionBee plans to offer customers access to shares in IPO

UK-based PensionBee is to give customers the opportunity to acquire shares in the online pension management firm as part of its IPO plans. PensionBee is to use its open API to connect interested customers’ accounts to PrimaryBid, the London Stock Exchange-backed retail investment platform, in advance of any public offering. The company currently has more than £1.2bn in assets under administration and says it has more than 65,000 invested customers.

Best source: Pensions Age
US fintech start-ups MX and Blend each raise $300m as investors target digital transformation

Utah-based MX and San Francisco's Blend have separately raised $300m each in their latest funding rounds, benefiting from investors's desire to allocate capital to companies facilitating digital transformation amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Blend helps create digital infrastructure for online lending, while MX offers technology to make financial transactions and payment processing simpler and more efficient. MX is now valued at $1.9bn after a fundraising round led by private equity firm TPG Capital, while Blend's round led by Coatue and Tiger Global Management values it at $3.3bn.

Best source: Reuters
Digital Banking and Payments
PayPal exits Indian payment market after failing to make significant inroads

PayPal is to wind up its domestic payment business in India, following its failure to make a significant impact in a highly competitive national market. PayPal entered India four years ago and now works with more than 300,000 merchants across the country. The mobile payment market in India is fiercely contested, with global technology groups including Facebook, Google, Amazon and TenCent competing for market share with local players including PhonePE and PayTM.

Best source: Pymnts
Atom signs SME open banking deal with Plaid

UK-based Atom Bank has agreed to a deal with Plaid to offer open banking and payment initiation services to its SME customers. The deal will initially see Atom Bank offer business owners a streamlined loan application process and faster decision-making. The bank has previously received a £10m grant from Britain's Banking Competition Remedies Board to bring greater competition to the SME banking market.

Best source: AltFi
ANZ NZ partners with UK’s Bud for open banking-based loans

New Zealand's largest bank, ANZ NZ will utilise open banking technology from UK-based Bud to expedite the loan approval process for business customers. The partnership will enable ANZ to process and categorise data from prospective borrowers’ bank statements, streamlining procedures and boosting transparency.

Best source: Finextra