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Credit Sesame Scores $51 Million; Completes Zingo Acquisition

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On the consumption side of personal finance, managing credit is one of the most important aspects of financial wellness. And for more than a decade, Credit Sesame has been among the more innovative companies in this space. From its origins as a hub for financial planning tools, insights into credit scoring, and advice on smart borrowing, Credit Sesame has grown into a leader in the financial wellness industry with new solutions like its Sesame Cash debit account, which topped one million customers less than a year after emerging from its beta launch.

“With Sesame Cash and features like real-time cash back rewards and rewards for improving their credit score,” Credit Sesame GM and Head of Global Banking Miro Pavletic explained when the solution was introduced last September, “we are helping customers put more money back in their pocket than any other digital banking service. Whether you’re looking to buy groceries or debating where to grab takeout, we can connect you with the brands you love and give you cash back instantly,” Pavletic said.

The $51 million in new funding the company raised this week is a testament both to the journey Credit Sesame has been on since its launch in 2010, as well as the potential the firm has to continue to play a leading role in helping millions of consumers better understand and manage their finances.

“Creating access to better credit and finance is critical for financial prosperity for consumers in our country, and it’s enlightening to see major banks and the federal government also taking action,” Credit Sesame CEO Adrian Nazari said. “The impacts of the past year have only made those needs greater, and through our recent acquisition and fundraising, we are proud to be expanding our platform offerings and leading the charge in opening more doors to financial inclusion and wellness for all.” 

The company sees its current mission as closing the “credit chasm,” which it believes limits economic opportunities for more than 44 million “credit invisible” Americans. Part of this effort includes Credit Sesame’s decision to acquire Zingo, a transaction that was completed recently. A fintech company headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Zingo helps renters improve their credit scores via timely rent payments. With almost 80% of its 15 million members renting, rather than owning, a home, Credit Sesame expects the acquisition to represent a “significant growth opportunity for the company” while enhancing “financial inclusion for its customers.” Credit Sesame anticipates integrating Zingo’s rent reporting technology into its financial wellness platform over the summer.

Looking out over the balance of 2021, Credit Sesame appears to be taking a page from Zingo’s book by launching a new feature that will enable consumers to use their cash to help them improve their credit rating. Requiring no credit check, the new solution will allow Credit Sesame customers to leverage their cash and credit together to help build a strong financial foundation and create a path toward better financial health.

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Source: https://finovate.com/credit-sesame-scores-51-million-completes-zingo-acquisition/

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New York based Earned Wage Fintech Clair Secures $15M to Help Gig Economy Workers

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New York-based Clair, an earned wage firm for gig economy workers and technology contractors, has finalized a $15 million Series A round that was led by Thrive Capital.

Clair’s latest investment round brings the Fintech firm’s total funding to $19.5 million. The company’s seed round was carried out 7 months ago and was led by Upfront Ventures.

Clair allows HR technology and gig firms to provide hourly workers free instant cash advances on their earnings. The company has currently entered partnerships with platforms used by more than 1.5 million hourly and gig workers.

Clair’s CEO Nico Simko stated:

“We’re on a mission to give workers easier, faster access to their hard-earned cash. We want to promote financial inclusivity for everyone, and we are doing this by enabling existing HR tech providers through innovative fintech tools. This fundraising round gives us the runway we’ll need to expand our operations and realise that vision on a larger scale.”

The Clair team notes that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans had already been dependent on payday loans to “bridge the gap between expenses and paydays.” In 2019, there were around 12 million US residents that were using them, the Clair team revealed.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reported that half or 50% of these people were “paying $185 in fees on top of exorbitant interest rates.” As noted by Clair, for many people, that’s the “equivalent of over 20 hours of work before taxes.”

Clair also mentions that payday loans charge as much as 20x the interest rates of credit cards and personal loans, however, the people using them do so “because they can’t qualify for anything else.” An individual who borrows $500 a year will “pay back almost $2,000 in fees and interest,” the company reveals.

Clair’s management also noted:

“This is the time to transform the way we pay our employees and, by extension, eliminate some of the predatory businesses out there trapping people in a cycle of debt for life. You may not be able to give your employees more hours right now, but you can give them the confidence of knowing you have their back in this difficult time.”

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176530-new-york-based-earned-wage-fintech-clair-secures-15m-to-help-gig-economy-workers/

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Digital Banking: Line Introduces Virtual Bank Platform via Partnership with PT Bank KEB Hana Indonesia

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Line has reportedly introduced its third digital banking platform in Southeast Asia through a partnership with PT Bank KEB Hana Indonesia.

The introduction of the smartphone-only bank in Indonesia has come after similar launches in Taiwan and Thailand.

The partnership between Line and Hana Bank Indonesia was formed back in October 2018, when Line Financial Asia had acquired 20% of Hana Bank Indonesia via a Share Subscription Agreement.

The new virtual banking platform will provide various user-friendly financial services such as a savings accounts, time deposits, easy bill payments, and debit cards with convenient access to Hana Bank ATMs for making cash withdrawals. Other features are currently being developed and may include loans and QR-enabled payments.

Young Eun Kim, Chief Operating Officer at LINE Financial Asia, stated:

“The demand for digital transformation in the banking industry is growing rapidly all around the world. In Indonesia in particular, due to this market’s unique geographical characteristics, we believe bringing banking services to people’s mobile phones will greatly increase their availability and convenience.”

Line says that it’s hoping to achieve the same level of success of its recently-introduced banking platforms in Thailand, which has already onboarded around 2 million users within its four months of operations.

In March of this year, the firm also formed a partnership with Mizuho in order to invest in a new digital banking joint initiative in Japan.

Virtual or online banking services have become increasingly important in a post-COVID business environment.

Earlier this year, Standard Chartered teamed up with Indonesia’s Bukalapak in order to offer digital banking services which will be hosted via the Nexus platform, an established Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) solution by SC Ventures.

Standard Chartered and Bukalapak will be working closely so that they can provide innovation in financial and digital commerce solutions by offering various financial services via Bukalapak’s growing ecosystem.

Through the partnership, both companies are also planning to promote greater financial inclusion in the country as Bukalapak claims to have extensive coverage to 100 million consumers and many local merchants.

A survey conducted by Standard Chartered found that the Coronavirus outbreak served as a catalyst or accelerated the growth of online financial activities and businesses, with more than half of respondents saying they use more online services in a post-COVID environment. In fact, 56% of Indonesia-based consumers now prefer making payments and purchases via all-digital platforms, an increase of around 16% when compared to pre-COVID levels.

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176534-digital-banking-line-introduces-virtual-bank-platform-via-partnership-with-pt-bank-keb-hana-indonesia/

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Digital Identity: Payments Giant Mastercard Finalizes Acquisition of ID Verification Service Ekata

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Mastercard (NYSE: MA) revealed on Friday (June 11, 2021) that it has finalized its acquisition of Ekata, a provider of identity verification services that assist companies or businesses with making informed decisions when opening online accounts, conducting payments and handling various other digital interactions.

Ajay Bhalla, President, Cyber and Intelligence, Mastercard, stated:

“We’re delighted to welcome the Ekata team to Mastercard. Our focus will now be on bringing our talented teams together and advancing our identity capabilities to create a safer, seamless way for consumers to prove who they say they are in the new digital economy. Central to all of this is the balance of a frictionless experience with the trust delivered through a relentless commitment to customer privacy, control and security.”

Proving your identity is vital when trying to establish trust in the digital environment. Individuals or entities that don’t have an official identification usually face greater barriers to financial inclusion and when trying to access critical healthcare services.

Ekata’s ID verification data, machine learning tech, and international experience should add to Mastercard’s existing fraud prevention and digital identity solutions. The combined services stack should assist companies with confidently knowing who their clients are and, in turn, help those users safely interact in a digital world, while continuing to support the responsible use of data.

In May 2021, Mastercard joined a $25 million investment round in Australia-based payments-as-a-service Fintech mx51.

The capital secured represented mx51’s first major funding round, which has been finalized less than a year after the company branched out of Assembly Payments (in May of last year). The business is being led and was founded by ex- Westpac executive and ex- Assembly Payments co-CEO Victor Zheng.

Also in May, Mastercard welcomed six startups to its Mastercard Start Path program. The startups were notably dedicated to building blockchain-based payments solutions and also designing sustainable lending platforms.

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176536-digital-identity-payments-giant-mastercard-finalizes-acquisition-of-id-verification-service-ekata/

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China: WeiyangX Fintech Review

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National Internet Finance Association of China: Standardized Cosmetic Surgery-Related Financial Products and Services

The past few years have seen the rapid development of cosmetic surgery in China. In order to better serve their customers, some financial institutions have cooperated with third-party cosmetic surgery agencies to provide related financial services and products (e.g., cosmetic surgery installment plans). Yet, problems like excessive borrowing, lack of transparency, and high pricing have also brought damages to the interests of the consumers.

On June 9th, the National Internet Finance Association of China (NIFA) released an initiative on cosmetic surgery-related financial products and services. NIFA suggested the financial institutions should not collaborate with illegal cosmetic surgery agencies or provide financial products and services to these agencies.

When cooperating with cosmetic surgery agencies in compliance with administrative requirements, financial institutions should fully evaluate the repayment ability of consumers in accordance with the principle of appropriateness, independently determine customer credit and loan pricing standards, and take risk controls. For college student consumers, financial institutions should strictly abide by the relevant regulations of the financial regulatory authority on campus consumer loans. (Source: NIFA)

Red Date Technology Secures Series A Financing led by Prosperity7 Ventures  

On June 10th, Beijing-based Red Date Technology announced the completion of a USD $30 million Series A equity financing. This round of investment was led by Prosperity7 Ventures and Hong Kong-based blockchain investment firm Kenetic.

Other participants included Swiss private bank Pictet and Bangkok Bank.

In 2019, led by the State Information Center, China Mobile, China UnionPay, and Red Date Technology jointly initiated the construction of the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), and officially put it into business on April 25th, 2020. BSN is a global public infrastructure network that is used to deploy and run blockchain applications across cloud services, portals, and underlying frameworks, reducing cost and improving flexibility, interoperability and efficiency. (Source: lieyun)

ByteDance Entering Cloud Computing Services Market

It is reported that ByteDance’s “Volcano Engine” division will officially release cloud computing IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) services, which include computing, storage, and networking, in September or October this year.

In addition to the established data center in Zhangjiakou, Hebei, ByteDance is also planning to build large data centers in cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen or surrounding areas to provide external IaaS services.

Volcano Engine aims to be the “fourth cloud in China” besides Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud, and Huawei Cloud. (Source: LatePost)

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority Discusses CBDC in its “Fintech 2025” strategy 

On June 8th, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) released the “Fintech 2025” strategy as an effort to promote the development of the Fintech industry in Hong Kong.

According to the document, HKMA will conduct in-depth studies to strengthen preparations for the issuance of CBDCs at the wholesale and retail levels in Hong Kong.

In addition to the continued effort on wholesale CBDCs, HKMA is cooperating with the Hong Kong Center under the BIS Innovation Hub to study CBDCs at the retail level. It will also begin to study e-HKD on its use cases, benefits, and related risks.

HKMA will continue to collaborate with the People’s Bank of China on the technical tests of digital renminbi in Hong Kong, providing a convenient option of cross-boundary payments for both residents in Hong Kong and mainland China. (Source: HKMA)


The above is a weekly synopsis of the biggest stories on Fintech in China provided by WeiyangX, part of Tsinghua University, in partnership with Crowdfund Insider.

WeiyangX is the most influential website focusing on Fintech in China. The site covers the latest news, industry data analysis, business practices, and in-depth cases in Fintech. WeiyangX is incubated by Fintech Lab. Founded by Tsinghua University’s People’s Bank of China (PBC) School of Finance in 2012, the Fintech Lab is the first and leading research entity dedicated to leading best practices, promoting interdisciplinary innovation, and encouraging entrepreneurship in the field of fintech through scientific research and innovative project incubation. Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176547-china-weiyangx-fintech-review-204/

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