VoPay, a Canada-based payments platform, announced on Monday it has formed a partnership with real-time bank certification service Inverite to deliver its open banking payment solution to more than 285 Canadian financial institutions. VoPay reported that through the partnership, businesses may now offer more consumers access to a streamlined bank payment experience while accelerating payment speed, verifying bank accounts, and reducing NSFs.
While sharing more details about the partnership, Hamed Arbabi, VoPay CEO and Founder, stated:
“We’re excited to add Inverite to our growing list of bank verification partners. Their Canadian credit union coverage is unmatched and will empower more consumers and businesses from coast to coast to benefit from enhanced EFT payments and help democratize the new payments reality.”
Lloyd Evetts, Director of Business Development with Inverite, added that the partnership allows the Inverite team to offer their clients “reduced friction and improve customer satisfaction” while opening new customer segments to VoPay.
Founded in 2014, VoPay claims to be a leader in payment innovation, digitizing online bank account payments with speed and transparency. The company’s API connects digital enterprises to banking systems, enabling them to facilitate direct bank account payments just like credit cards.
“The VoPay payments-as-a-service platform is the technology layer that connects marketplaces and digital platforms to pay and accept money directly from any bank account in a fully automated and transparent way.”
Insurtech Lemonade Prices IPO Higher than Expected, Shares Pop on First Day of Trading on NYSE, OurCrowd Books Another Win for Investors
Lemonade (NYSE:LMND), a fast-growing Insurtech firm, completed its initial public offering (IPO) today on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Earlier today it was reported that at the last minute Lemonade bumped up its planned offering price to $29 a share. Apparently, that was not quite enough as demand outstripped supply in early trading and shares opened at around $50 a share as the price rocketed higher.
At the IPO price of $29/share, Lemonade grossed $319 million (before commissions and expenses). The fact that investment management firm Baillie Gifford, based in Edinburgh, indicated its interest in purchasing around $100 million of equity in Lemonade probably helped boost overall share demand.
Daniel Schreiber, Lemonade CEO, told CNBC that early trades were not indicative of the story of the company but there is an opportunity to transform insurance – even while shares moved significantly higher:
“We will look at the price of our shares every couple of years and not every minute.”
Lemonade is a digital-first insurance platform that seeks to align the interests of customers with the business. The company was formed based on the fact that most people hate their insurance providers combined with the reality that insurance is a huge industry that is in dire need of digital disruption. Since platform launch, Lemonade has expanded its services to 28 different states in the US as well as Germany and the Netherlands in Europe. Lemonade is licensed in 41 states and expects to cover the entire country in the following months. Also on the road map is to provide insurance services in 31 different European countries.
As it stands today, Lemonade offers homeowners and renters insurance but the Insurtech is building a model that can be applied to various insurance verticals. Renters insurance starts at just $5 a month and homeowners insurance starts at just $25 month.
On its website, Lemonade highlights all of the big-name insurance companies that have seen their customers switch their business to their platform due to its focus on customer service.
Lemonade explains their approach:
“Traditional insurance companies make money by keeping the money they don’t pay out in claims. This means whenever they pay your claim, they lose profit. This is why getting your claims paid fast and in full is sometimes so hard. Lemonade was built differently. We take a fixed fee out of your monthly payments, pay reinsurance (and some unavoidable expenses), and use the rest for paying out claims. In essence, we treat premiums as if they were still your money and return unclaimed remainders in our annual ‘Giveback’.”
Insiders believe that, overall, insurance is incredibly ripe for disruption and the Lemonade team did it right by building a world-class platform while bringing in great people to transform insurance.
One of the early investors was global crowdfunding platform OurCrowd. While not the biggest investor in the company – a list that includes names like Sequoia and Softbank, OurCrowd provided an opportunity for smaller investors to get into the company at a far lower level thus helping to validate the investment crowdfunding platform’s mission.
Crowdfund Insider spoke with OurCrowd CEO and founder Jon Medved on the day of the IPO. He had this to say:
“We are delighted with today’s IPO for lemonade we are proud of their spectacular team and what they achieved so far and we look forward to very exciting additional chapters in this emerging story. This is yet another one of Ourcrowds IPOs which have proven that investors in next-generation platforms can get early and important access to quality deals just like institutional investors.”
Since its inception, OurCrowd has backed several companies that have IPOed like Beyond Meat, Uber, and Rewalk. So far, OurCrowd has booked over 35 exits for its platform investors.
At the time of writing, shares in Lemonade were trading at over $62/share thus more than doubling its IPO price.
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Fintech Company Nth Round A Viable Option for Startups and SMEs During Covid-19
Nth Round, founded in 2018 and based in Philadelphia, is a “comprehensive equity management platform for companies of all stages and sizes” and can enable startups and SMEs to “manage equity, engage shareholders, and facilitate liquidity in an all-in-one secure environment” according to its website.
No one can underestimate the financial strain Covid-19 has put on startups – especially where funding is concerned. However, the services offered by Nth Round’s are perhaps more important now than ever before. Having raised USD$4.3 million in seed funding initially, Nth Round is an invaluable lifeline for companies in need of accessing their liquidity.
Nth Round’s website stresses, “we envision a time in the near future when founders, family members, investors, and key employees will be free to buy or sell their shares at any time, without worry, hassle, or prohibitive fees.” Of the range of services offered, Nth Round can provide: employee incentives, ownership transference, stakeholder management and unlocking liquidity. Free resources are also offered to “educate fledgling enterprises” on how to expand.
In June 2020, Nth Round expanded their operations and partnered with to provide investors with real-time, 24/7 access to their investment portfolio information. Chris McConnell, Founder of Nth Round and HBS alumni said, “our one-stop-shop platform will serve to assist the Stockton team in distributing in real-time, all relevant investment-related materials, while most importantly giving Stockton the opportunity to powerfully and uniquely showcase new prospective additions to the Stockton portfolio”.
What’s more, Sean Myers, Stockton’s Head of Acquisitions and Development, added, “Powered by Nth Round, our private, proprietary program enables our investors to access financial reports, K-1’s, tax information, and periodic operating updates about the properties in which they have invested”. The investment management process can surely enhance investor’s clarity, convenience and transparency.
Blockchain Infrastructure Developer Bison Trails to Add Support for Eth2, a Major System-wide Upgrade to Ethereum (ETH)
Bison Trails, a blockchain “infrastructure-as-a-service” company, revealed on July 1, 2020 that it will be adding support for Eth2, a major upcoming system-wide upgrade for the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.
Ethereum Version 2.0 (or Eth2) will involve a gradual transition from its current Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism to Proof-of-Stake (PoS).
As mentioned in a release shared with CI:
“In preparation for the launch of Eth2 later this year, Bison Trails has started offering a suite of enterprise products that [aim to] make it easier for customers to interact with the Beacon Chain, stake Ether (Ethereum’s native token), and automatically manage validators, validator clients, and beacon nodes.”
Eth2 was reportedly envisioned since Ethereum’s genesis block was mined back in 2015. It will notably be the first time a cryptocurrency protocol as large as Ethereum will attempt to rebuild itself from scratch under a new consensus algorithm.
The Bison Trails team noted that they’ve been operating secure, reliable, and redundant Ethereum 1.X Geth nodes for the past two years. They claim that they’re fully prepared to allow anyone with 32 or more ETH to secure the chain while earning staking rewards.
The release noted:
“To realize the Eth2 vision, Bison Trails’ … products [aim to] provide private, secure, and reliable read and write nodes to connect and interact with the Beacon Chain, a secure validator management API enabling the creation and management of validators and Beacon Chain nodes, and a fully indexed Eth2 Beacon Chain reporting API to call information including staking rewards, validator information, and more.”
Bison Trails offers autoscaling software which allows users to automatically manage their infrastructure, as network requirements may change. The software is also able to handle additional validators when they decide to join. Autoscaling will allow Bison Trails’ users to keep earning staking rewards without having to manually manage participation.
Joe Lallouz, CEO at Bison Trails, stated:
“As a platform providing validators for the earliest adopters to join the network, we’re [looking forward] to [supporting] such a historic moment.”
Eth2 will have no “native” stake aggregation or pooling, so users will be required to run their own validators or use a provider that may run the validators on their behalf.
Users who choose Bison Trails to stake their Ether will be able to earn rewards until Phase 2 has been initiated and transactions are also enabled. By taking part in securing the Eth2 network with Bison Trails infrastructure, ETH holders will get the chance to earn rewards at a competitive rate of 23% on their holdings.
Preston Van Loon, Co-founder Prysmatic Labs, stated:
“Bison Trails [will be] supporting Eth2 and integrating the Prysm client into their infrastructure platform. Bison Trails has been an active participant in our testnets and we look forward to ongoing collaboration with the Bison Trails team as we work toward the release of Eth2 Phase 0.”
“Unlike other Proof of Stake protocols that are trying to start from nothing and build and scale a new protocol, Ethereum is already a protocol that has tokens in the hands of millions of people with tens of thousands of dapps. It’s starting from a very different place. This is important for the ecosystem as a whole as well.”
Earlier this month, New York-based Bison Trails added support for NEAR, a sharded proof of stake (PoS) blockchain and app development platform that can power open finance solutions.
NEAR received over $20 million in capital from VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) in May 2020.
In April 2020, Bison Trails added support for Keep Network, which serves as a privacy protection layer for Ethereum (ETH).
Keep Network aims to address the challenges involved with allowing private and secure data to be used on a public (permissionless) blockchain network.
Bison Trails has also integrated with Coinbase Custody for institutional-grade offline storage. Coinbase Custody clients may now stake their Polkadot (DOT) tokens to Bison Trails’ validators and earn rewards.
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