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BaaS Fintech Unit Acquires $51M in Capital via Series B from Accel, Better Tomorrow Ventures, Others



After acquiring $51 million in capital through a Series B round led by Accel, Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) provider Unit has introduced a product that will allow firms to offer live bank accounts and issue payment cards within minutes.

Better Tomorrow Ventures, Aleph, Flourish Ventures, and TLV Partners also took part in Unit‘s latest investment round.

Established in 2019 and having come out of stealth mode in late 2020, Unit’s management noted that their modern technology stack has been developed on a native ledger. The company’s platform features embedded compliance, along with built-in bank relationships. This enables companies or businesses to go live in around four weeks. During the past 3 months, Unit has seen deposit volume increase by more than 300%, and banked end-clients grow by 600%.

The firm recently completed integrations with Plaid and Allpoint. Unit’s management said that the proceeds from the new round should help it expand operations and offer various other financial products. The company will also be working on other types of integrations, while also implementing a richer feature set, such as (software development kits) SDKs and front-end components.

First up in the company’s line of products is Unit Go, which aims to allow firms to create live bank accounts and issue physical and virtual cards in just a few minutes. Founders and developers are able to sign up for free accounts, build solutions in Unit’s live environment, and instantly test out their products with real funds.

Unit CEO Itai Damiti stated:

“After interacting with hundreds of builders, we believe even more strongly that the next decade in Fintech will be defined by tech companies using their unfair advantage — the flywheel of distribution, trust, software, and data — to launch massively successful fintech products in their verticals. Our mission continues to be helping these companies bring those products to life, unlock value, and expand financial access for all.”

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European P2P Lender Bondora Reports that Originations Keep Rising for 6th Straight Month



European peer-to-peer lender Bondora reports that originations on their platform keep on rolling in 2021.

Last month, originations on the Bondora platform totaled €11,036,285—which represents a 5.9% growth rate when compared to figures from May of this year. This is reportedly the sixth straight month that Bondora originations have continued to rise. This steady growth is consistent with the firm’s vision for the future, “on the road to 1 billion.”

The P2P lender also mentioned that the share of originations by country did not change too much over the past month. Estonian originations accounted for “69.4% of originations, while Finnish loans had a 30.6% share,” the report revealed while adding that the interest rates for both countries “were also similar, although slightly lower on the month; Estonia came in at 25.7%, and Finnish loans at 19.1%.”

Estonian originations added new rating categories last month. For the first time in about a year, AA and A-rated originations “were made on the month, which came to €537,701 and €805,481 respectively,” the report noted while pointing out that these additions “reduced the percent share of Estonian originations for the remaining rating categories.” Another thing to note is that C-rated originations “almost equaled B-rated originations, both with a 17.2% share of all originations this month,” the update confirmed.

It also mentioned that Finnish originations “continued with D-rated loans, which equaled €3,152,306 this month and an almost identical 19.1% interest rate compared to May.”

As stated in the report, the average loan amount for Finnish originations “dropped for the third month in a row—this time by 8.4% to €2,438.” After increasing in May, this month, Estonian originations “declined slightly with 2.6% to an average amount of €2,744,” the report noted.

The update further revealed:

“After dropping to a 55-month loan duration in May, June’s figures show Estonian originations coming in at 56 months. This is the same average that these loans have held for many months prior. Finnish originations were slightly lower in duration, averaging 55 months compared to 56 months in May.”

The report added:

“The duration of Estonian originations was distributed almost identical to May. 60-month loans had a 78.5% share of originations compared to 78.0% previously. The next highest loan duration for Estonia was 24-months, which totaled 5.5% of originations in the country, against 4.9% in May.”

As for Finnish originations, 60-month durations “equaled 73.9% of the country’s originations, down 7.3% from last month,” the report noted. Meanwhile, originations skewed toward shorter duration loans, “such as 6-month originations, which totaled 7.3% of Finnish originations in June compared to 5.2% in May.”

The report confirmed that once again, the average age of Estonian borrowers “remained at 37 years old, with Finnish borrowers averaging 45-years of age for the third consecutive month.”

Last month, the average income of Estonian borrowers “increased tremendously by 55.1% to €2,268.” According to Bondora, this is “a good sign that incomes in Estonia are recovering and growing after a slow start to 2021.” Meanwhile, Finnish borrowers “saw their income decline by 11.5% to an average of €3,038,” the company noted.

The report from Bondora further revealed that there was “a decrease in Finnish borrowers with a high school education, which dropped from 125 borrowers last month to 121 borrowers this month and now accounting for only 9.4% of all Finnish originations.”

Finnish borrowers remain mostly “at vocational school level, with 52.5% of the country’s borrowers attaining this education level,” the report added while noting that Estonian borrowers saw a slight increase in its high school educated borrowers, “up to a 41.7% share of borrowers in the country.” This was followed by vocational school, “which, once again, came in at 23.0% of Estonian borrowers.”

As stated in the update:

“June’s borrower employment levels remained almost identical to May’s. There was a slight increase in the number of borrowers employed for more than 5 years, accounting for 33.0% of all borrowers this month compared to 34.0% last month. A similar, 0.5% decline was seen in borrowers employed up to 5 years. Retirees are still least likely to be borrowers, coming in at 6.9% of all Bondora borrowers in June.”

The report further revealed that homeownership for Estonian borrowers was “less prevalent this month, accounting for 40.3% of the nations’ borrowers, compared to 44.1% of its borrowers in May.” The same trend occurred in Finland, where borrowers were “still most likely to be homeowners, but at a lesser rate of 43.9%” and this is “a 2.0% decline from May.”

The report also noted that Bondora managed to achieve a 100.0% verification rate for Finnish borrowers, which was reportedly something it had been close to achieving during the previous month. But the Estonian verification rate “went in reverse, down 1.0% to a verification rate of 95.7%.”

As noted in the report:

“After passing €10 million in May, Bondora outdid itself with €11,036,285 in June, making it another great month for Bondora originations. This growth was led, in part, by the new originations in Estonian AA and A-rated categories, which hadn’t seen loans in over a year. With these new rating categories intact, all signs point to even more growth for Bondora originations in the months to come.”

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Continuous Monitoring Gives Crypto Compliance Teams “Peace of Mind” According to Chainalsysis Report



Compliant crypto firms realize or know what it takes to keep their platforms safe: They have to carry out KYC checks on clients, monitor transactions for counterparty risk, and submit suspicious activity reports or SARs when they see suspicious activity, Chainalysis notes in a blog post.

But these can’t just be “one-time” jobs or tasks that only take place when a new customer registers or when a transaction occurs, Chainalysis writes in a blog post.

The blockchain analysis firm explains that if new information comes out and raises a customer or counterparty’s risk factor — for example, news of potential involvement in criminal activity, or an OFAC designation — then “previous transactions involving that person or entity retroactively become risky even if they initially appeared safe.”

Chainalysis further noted that those old transactions “may therefore warrant a SAR or other action by the compliance team.” That’s why your crypto compliance software requires that you include continuous monitoring for transactions.

As noted by the company, it is the only way for compliance teams “to ensure they know to take action when historic transactions become risky in the light of new information.”

In an update, Chainalysis has explained why continuous monitoring is important and “show you how Chainalysis KYT (Know Your Transaction) makes it easy.”

As mentioned by the blockchain firm, sanctioned individuals and entities “represent some of the biggest compliance risks for both cryptocurrency businesses and mainstream financial institutions.”

Since 2018, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has included crypto addresses in the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list entries for several sanctioned entities, such as the developers of “destructive” ransomware strains and individuals found to have “laundered funds on behalf of cybercriminals associated with the North Korean government.”

Chainalysis also noted that blockchain analysis reveals that virtual currency compliance teams have been “effective in helping enforce these sanctions.”

The update from Chainalysis also noted that every sanctioned entity with an OFAC-identified crypto address has received “little to no cryptocurrency payments since being added to the SDN list.” But that does not mean compliance teams’ work is finished. Along with preventing future payments, crypto compliance teams have to “review past transaction activity when a new entity is sanctioned to see if their platform previously processed transactions with that entity, even if the compliance team would have had no way of knowing about upcoming sanctions when those transactions occurred.”

As noted by the blockchain analysis firm, if reviews showed their platform did transact with that now-sanctioned entity, the compliance team would “need to report those transactions through the appropriate channels.”

Chainalysis reminds us that this does not only apply to sanctioned entities, but to any entity whose digital currency transaction activity “becomes suspicious in hindsight due to new information being uncovered.”

For example, if a virtual currency wallet was identified as belonging to a ransomware operator, crypto exchange compliance teams would need “to identify any old transactions occurring between that ransomware wallet and addresses hosted by their platform.”

Chainalysis further noted that compliance teams who do not continuously monitor for newly identified risk in old transactions “could find themselves in trouble with regulators, who are themselves adopting the same blockchain analysis platforms the compliance teams themselves rely on, and can therefore spot historic suspicious activity compliance teams fail to report.”

Chainalysis also noted that it would be quite time-consuming and also infeasible for compliance teams “to manually screen old transactions on a consistent basis as they learn about new risk factors.”

But that’s not required, Chainalysis explains, while noting that with the appropriate architecture in place, “once a blockchain data platform has attributed new risk designations for old wallets, it can scan the blockchain to spot any transactions between those wallets and a cryptocurrency platform, and notify the platform’s compliance team via real-time transaction monitoring alerts.”

As noted by the blockchain firm:

“Some transactions with risky entities aren’t large enough to create real risk or warrant a follow-up from compliance, and these standards change from one organization to another based on differing policies and priorities.”

If your continuous monitoring tool does not account for that, your compliance team will be “inundated with non-critical alerts,” Chainalysis noted while adding that a good continuous monitoring tool will “let compliance teams set customized alert thresholds for risky transactions, with different thresholds for different risk categories, so that they only receive alerts for historic transactions that require a follow-up.”

Chainalysis added:

“Some cryptocurrency compliance solutions support continuous monitoring, but require compliance teams to pay for the ‘re-screening’ of old transactions. This is especially common with softwares that don’t provide automatic alerts and instead require manual re-screening. Not only do these unpredictable costs put a dent in compliance teams’ budgets, but it also makes the cryptocurrency ecosystem less safe by disincentivizing compliance teams from undertaking continuous monitoring in the first place.”

At Chainalysis, they don’t believe in “imposing extra costs on workflows necessary for cryptocurrency platforms to meet the compliance requirements mandated by regulators,” the firm wrote in its blog post.

According to the firm, Chainalysis KYT’s continuous monitoring “checks all the boxes.” They explained that it is a continuous monitoring tool that lets compliance teams “rest easy, knowing that they’ll automatically learn when an old transaction becomes suspicious due to new information.”

In addition to monitoring new transactions for risks as they take place, its continuous monitoring tool has “everything compliance teams need to get peace of mind when it comes to historic transactions.‍”

To learn more about these products, check here.

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Switzerland based Proptech Firm Properti Continues Expanding Operations, Hires Umut Sentürk as COO



The team at Properti, a technology-driven real estate firm focused on modernizing residential properties in Europe, reveals that it remains focused on expanding its operations.

They recently welcomed Umut Sentürk as their new Chief Operating Officer at Properti AG.

As noted in an update from the company, Umut continues to be “responsible for the development and expansion of [their] management department and now also the operational management of the business.”

Umut Sentürk has 14 years of industry experience, 7 of which he worked in real estate management, the Properti team revealed. He’s currently completing his MAS in Real Estate Management and has worked as a part-time real estate consultant for the homeowners association of Burgdorf and Trachselwald for the past 5 years.

Umut is now looking forward to the new challenges.

He added:

“After just 20 months, Properti is a fast-growing company with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. As someone who is passionate about people and the real estate industry, I am looking forward to making another contribution as COO to achieve our vision.”

Company CEO Levent Künz remarked:

“His profound expertise in day-to-day business, coupled with his profound understanding of tenant and landlord concerns and the evolving requirements make him an excellent candidate for the position of COO. “

The team at Properti revealed earlier this year that as of April 1, 2021, they have expanded their team “in the areas of marketing, business development, management, customer value, customer acquisition, back office, HR and IT – we welcome our new employees to the Properti family!”

During March 2021, Properti reported that it was able to launch more than 212 new listings (real estate) – which is notably the strongest month ever for the platform.

The Properti team also mentioned that a move can be an “intense” and “exciting” time, and it’s always best to be well-prepared. In a blog post, Properti explained that an acceptance report serves “to confirm that the tenant and landlord have jointly and properly recorded the handover of the apartment.” To learn more about this process from Properti, check here.

As reported in early January 2021, Switzerland-based Proptech firm Properti received 580 applications last year and ended 2020 with 508 active properties.

Levent Künzi, Co-founder and CEO of Properti, had shared the company’s key milestones from last year in an annual review 2020 update.

Künzi confirmed that Properti handled CHF 69 million (appr. $77.52 million) in total mediated volume. It managed to make 419 successful placements, placed 16,212 total ads, and employed 37 professionals (as of January of this year).

As noted by the Properti team:

“We offer a wide range of services related to sales and rentals for private and commercial real estate. Our service includes accompanying you from start to finish, communicating openly and transparently with you and only incurring costs in the event of success.”

As covered in August 2020, Künzi had pointed out that the COVID-19 crisis has shown us that even large transactions, such as purchasing a property, may be finalized completely in an online or virtual environment.

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Real Estate Report: Northern Ireland was Best-Performing UK Region, with Scotland, West Midlands Housing Prices Also Rising



According to the Nationwide House Price Index in the UK, the price of the average house in the country surged by 13.4% YoY in June 2021, which is the largest increase seen in more than 17 years – since November 2004, the Blend Network team revealed in a recent market report.

The UK-based P2P lender noted that there’s a strong base-effect that is “distorting this reading because in June last year prices had collapsed in the aftermath of the first lockdown.”

The Blend Network team also mentioned that there’s now the stamp-duty factor that is contributing to the overall strength of the UK housing market because many buyers have been rushing to finalize their deals before the end of the stamp-duty holiday on June 20, “a measure that translated into a £15,000 saving for those purchasing homes above the £500,000 threshold,” Blend Network noted.

Despite all these factors, the UK market has continued to maintain steady momentum during the last few months and an increasing number of buyers are now paying over the asking price, the Blend Network team noted in a blog post while adding that the average UK house price has now increased nearly £30,000 over the last year and by almost £15,000 YTD.

When examining the key monthly trends, June saw the third straight MoM increase (0.7%), after taking account of “seasonal effects,” Blend Network noted while adding that prices in June 2021 were nearly “5% higher” than in March of this year.

That being said, the MoM growth has “clearly started to ease over the past few months (2.3% in April, 1.8% in May and 0.7% in June),” the Blend Network team wrote while noting that the Nationwide Nationwide House Price Index shows that the average UK house prices increased 10.3% YoY during Q2.

However, the company clarified that this reading also shows “a wide divergence between different regions.” Northern Ireland, “by far the best-performing region, saw average house prices increase by 14% year-on-year, while on the other end of the spectrum Scotland saw average house prices increase by 7.1% year-on-year.”

Northern Ireland has seen “a very strong performance,” closely followed by the West Midlands, the Blend Network team revealed while noting that as per recent affordability estimates, the data shared by Nationwide indicates that even though there was an increase in house prices to all-time highs, the typical mortgage payment is “not high by historic standards compared to take home pay, largely because mortgage rates remain close to all-time lows.”

Moreover, the Nationwide house prices are “close to a record high relative to average incomes.” According to Blend Network, this is important because it “makes it even harder for prospective first time buyers to raise deposits.” (Note: for more details and updates from Blend Network, check here.)

As covered, Blend Network recently explained how to use their AutoLend feature to automate the lending process. Earlier this month, Blend Network reported solid Q2 2021 performance, with 1,052 registered investors lending via platform loans.

As covered last month, Blend Network explained how their Secondary Market is designed to help investors. Notably, Blend Network reported funding its largest-ever 5.6M GDV project in Dorset earlier this year.

In an interview with CI, Yann Murciano, CEO at Blend Network, explained how 2020 will be known as the year seeing a decade of digital transformation.

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