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European VCs invest $8 million in APEXX Global

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APEXX Global has completed a Series A fundraiser, bringing in $8 million from existing and new U.K. and Scandinavian investors to expand its payments platform.

London-based APEXX Global brings its total capital raised to-date to $12 million. Existing investors Forward Partners, Alliance Venture and MMC all increased their investments from a prior seed funding round. New to the APEXX investor pool is a grant from Innovate UK, the U.K. government’s public agency that supports innovation and research. The funds will be used to enhance APEXX’s next generation payment routing capability on its payment platform, as well as to recruit additional staff for its headquarters office in London and two satellite facilities in India (Pune and Ahmedabad).

“I’m delighted to announce that we have successfully closed our Series A funding round, with the continued participation from Forward Partners, MMC and Alliance Ventures alongside a new investor,” said Peter Keenan, co-founder and CEO at APEXX Global, in a press release. “This is a challenging time for many businesses, and it is fantastic to have continued validation of our mission to revolutionize the global payments industry for merchants. We’ve seen significant growth over recent years and have had great success in increasing efficiency and reducing costs.”

APEXX launched in 2017 with the mission of being a platform that would enable merchants to view and compare costs between payment brands and acquirers, while receiving advice on which choice would be the best payments processing option for the merchant. At the time, APEXX claimed that it could lower processing costs for cards and other payment methods by about 20%.

While the actual savings by merchant will vary, and documentation from APEXX is unavailable to confirm its claims, the company’s continued ability to raise money makes it clear that its platform is resonating well in the market. APEXX has also been able to attract top tier payment executives to its team, such as Toreson Lloyd from WorldPay, and build partnerships with acquirers, card networks and payments processors such as iZettle (owned by PayPal), Credorax, Paysafe, Mastercard, Alipay and SIX Payment Services (owned by Worldline).

Forward Partners is an investor that is also backing British P2P Lender Zopa, which made news in 2018 when it partnered with tennis star Andy Murray’s-backed Commuter Club to provide installment loans for annual season ticket holders.

Oslo, Norway-based Alliance Venture, which also participated in the fundraiser, is heavily focused on data mining and analytics. One of its notable investments included Encap Security, which provides multi-factor authentication and e-signature solutions to the financial services industry, helping banks and payment firms to solve regulatory compliance issues for PSD2 and GDPR. Encap was acquired by Austin, Texas-based credit monitoring and identity theft repair outfit AllClear ID in 2016.

Source: https://www.paymentssource.com/news/european-vcs-invest-8-million-in-apexx-global

Payments

Alt Lending Week ended 23rd April 2021

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Bankrolling football’s  breakaway rebels is an own goal for JP Morgan

Practically all serious newspapers run this story but I liked Ben Marlow’s take on it. The new European super league has created a backlash of extraordinary ferocity across Europe particularly, of course, it’s supporters but also many establishment features. I particularly noticed the slogan scrawled across a banner being displayed by Manchester United fans which said “created by the poor stolen by the rich”. I will not dwell on the rights and wrongs of this episode but JP Morgan is very publicly facilitating this deal which is potentially the most egregious example of the unacceptable face of capitalism, and banking, that we have seen since the financial crisis of 2008. What’s more it is mainstream conversation among tens of millions of ordinary Europeans. At the same time JP Morgan is trying to enter the world of digital banking in the UK under the Chase Manhattan banner. Seems like Mr. Dimon does not quite get the European view on sport. This is a very political story and likely to reflect very badly on JP Morgan and capitalism in general.  At the time of writing it looks like the whole ridiculous idea is going to fall over but the 12 clubs and the bankers have shown their true colours and it will not be forgotten easily.

Goldman takes £ 50 million stake in Starling

While this is just pin money for Goldman and they have stated publicly it was a private equity investment and not connected presumably with any kind of strategic interest it certainly counts symbolically. Certainly CEO Anne Boden thinks so commenting that the Goldman connection will help them with their lending activities. We will see but lending profitably is going to be a big challenge over the next few years. Ms. Boden has built a valuable asset within what is becoming quite a crowded space. Is technology loosening the grip of the big four UK lenders? I couldn’t help notice that competition is providing 95% mortgages in the UK outside of the newly arranged government scheme. Was that supposed to happen? I don’t think so but it demonstrates the errors that are being made to support the UK housing market. Then end result will be to make properties even less affordable than they are now.

Banks mindful of mental health training staff to handle upcoming COVID debt collection

This story appeared at the weekend and shows the seriousness that is being attached to the undoubted bad publicity that will be forthcoming from the attempts banks make to recover sums advanced under the various, government guaranteed COVID support mechanisms. I cannot help but feel somewhat sorry for any institution that has got itself caught up in this and particularly the Fintech newcomers practically all of which are headed up by technical specialists. Undoubtedly they were pressurised to help out but the initial requirement to bring something to market quickly trumped all other considerations. The result will be huge bad debts, depression, suicides etc. and the bans will take some of the blame when it is really the government that should take the wrap. Life isn’t fair and some of the borrowers who took out these support facility never intended to repay them in the first place. The people who are going to have the sleepless nights are those who borrowed because they had no choice as the UK government had shut down their businesses through no fault of their own. It remains to be seen how it all pans out but I do not expect good outcomes. This is a lose-lose situation however one looks at it.

Howard Tolman is a well-known banker, technologist and entrepreneur in London,

We have a self imposed constraint of 3 news stories per week because we serve busy senior Fintech leaders who just want succinct and important information.

For context on Alt Lending please read the Interview with Howard Tolman about the future of Alt Lending and read articles tagged Alt Lending in our archives.

Daily Fintech’s original insight is made available to you for US$143 a year (which equates to $2.75 per week). $2.75 buys you a coffee (maybe), or the cost of a week’s subscription to the global Fintech blog – caffeine for the mind that could be worth $ millions.

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Source: https://dailyfintech.com/2021/04/23/alt-lending-week-ended-23rd-april-2021/

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Payments platform Plastiq partners with accounts receivable automation firm Billfire

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Business-to-business payments firm Plastiq has announced a partnership with automated accounts receivable platform Billfire that will allow merchants to accept and transmit credit card payments, even when one party does not accept credit cards. Plastiq’s platform functions as a middleman for transactions for businesses not yet connected with payments rails, so businesses can choose how […]

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Source: https://bankautomationnews.com/allposts/payments/payments-platform-plastiq-partners-with-accounts-receivable-automation-firm-billfire/

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XBRL News about central banks and data quality

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Here is our pick of the 3 most important XBRL news stories from the last week. 

1 BIS Innovation Summit 2021: How can central banks innovate in the digital age?

Hear from global leaders on key issues around cross-border and retail payments, central bank digital currencies, banking and the new digital ecosystem, decentralised finance, data, analytics, AI and cloud technologies as well as cultural and organisational changes that may be needed within central banks to meet the challenges of this digital age.

We’ve clearly been remiss in  not mentioning this conference recording earlier. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has done a great job bringing together leaders from all over the place to provide insights into the cutting edge of central banking technology.

2 The difficult present of digital platforms

The Central Bank has developed a roadmap for SupTech and RegTech events. These include the creation of a single KYC platform, transmission of reports in XBRL format, introduction of an automated system for monitoring and analysis of operational risks of banks, etc.

Speaking of central banks – according to the above article in Russian (hit that translate button again, we challenge you!), the Bank of Russia really appears to go into overdrive with its digitalisation roadmap. Follow the link above for the details in that roadmap – but only if you’ll have to use the original Russian rather than the English version, which has no substance. There was also a presentation by Bank of Russia at Data Amplified, but we haven’t found a public version of that, yet.

3 XBRL US Data Quality Committee public exposure of 15th ruleset for US GAAP and IFRS filers

The XBRL US Data Quality Committee (DQC) has published its 15th Ruleset for a 45-day public review and comment period, which closes on June 2, 2021. This latest draft ruleset contains eight rules specific to US GAAP filers, and one new rule for IFRS filers. Since the program began in 2015, the DQC has finalized and approved 14 rulesets, covering a range of potential error types and alerting filers to possible problems in thousands of filings. The 14th ruleset was approved at the Committee’s January meeting, and has an effective date of May 1, 2021.

Wow, the title above literally flows off the tongue, does it not? But mockery of bureaucratic language aside, the DQC performs important work which deserves our undivided attention.

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Christian Dreyer CFA is well known in Swiss Fintech circles as an expert in XBRL and financial reporting for investors.

 We have a self-imposed constraint of 3 news stories each week because we serve busy senior leaders in Fintech who need just enough information to get on with their job.

 For context on XBRL please read this introduction to our XBRL Week in 2016 and read articles tagged XBRL in our archives. 

 New readers can read 3 free articles.  To  become a member with full access to all that Daily Fintech offers,  the cost is just USD 143 a year (= USD 0.39 per day or USD 2.75 per week). For less than one cup of coffee you get a week full of caffeine for the mind.

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Source: https://dailyfintech.com/2021/04/22/xbrl-news-15/

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Lloyds Market’s Extended Innovation Factory: Lab’s Cohort 6

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Lloyd’s Lab is an accelerator launched in September 2018 by Lloyds, the insurance market. After intensive global talent searches that attract several hundred applications, selected companies receive privileged access to its market for specialist insurance and reinsurance. These teams are tasked with driving innovative solutions to unique challenges the market faces. Over a ten week period, teams are proffered guidance as they develop products, platforms and processes to potentially transform Lloyd’s. The start-ups receive expert support from market participants, catalyzing development of ideas for their unique needs.

Generally, accelerators are fixed-term, cohort-based programs where a sponsor offers expertise to help develop solutions. The average cohort has 16 businesses running for 6 months. Sponsors benefit from cutting-edge solutions that participants co-create while gleaning first-hand insights from latest trends.

Since the first Lloyd’s Lab cohort of ten companies, five similarly sized cohorts have followed. The latest, due to start later this month, is themed on creating simpler products for customers and building solutions mitigating climate risks. Each of the previous cohorts had distinctive themes, focused on enhancing customer experiences, powering data-driven underwriting with new insight sources or creating smarter insurance products. While few emphasized enabling back-office efficiencies, one cohort specifically targeted addressing COVID-19 challenges. An overarching driver is to find solutions that contribute to its services ecosystem, part of the “Future of Lloyd’s” vision.

Word Cloud (Cohorts 1 -6)

A recurring emphasis has been to draw rich, alternative data sets for precise risk understanding and improved underwriting profitability, such as to flag high risk policies or predict future claims. The accelerator solicits innovations in new algorithms, models and statistical techniques to create more personalized experiences while closing protection gaps. The latest cohort will begin virtually and is expected to return to the physical workspace in June. The final ten selects represent solutions based on four themes: climate change, geopolitics, data/models and claims support services.

Three of the selects offer analytics and automation solutions tackling climatic risks:

Tesselo is 2017 founded Lisbon-based insurtech that simplifies accessing environmental insights from Earth Observation data, combining satellite imagery with AI to produce actionable spatial intelligence. By classifying tree species, measuring and predicting forest growth, monitoring plantation harvests, detecting pests and estimating the risk or impact of forest fires and other natural disasters, it provides insurance and certification to help businesses develop adequate responses to natural hazards and give timely damage estimates post-disaster.

California based Jupiter Intelligence models catastrophic risk outcomes and helps customers anticipate financial impact of different climate-change scenarios. Jupiter’s models predict asset-level impact from flood, fire, heat, drought, wind and hail events at less-than-one-meter resolution. These models have been used to assess the risk that intense heat waves pose to power grids and inform public-sector infrastructure investment in coastal areas based on expected changes to tide levels and storm surges.

CarbonChain provides a platform that enables companies in polluting industries such as metals, mining, oil and gas to track supply chain greenhouse gas emissions to help transition to a low-carbon economy. With its exhaustive repository of greenhouse gas emission factors, it supports a wide range of hard and soft commodities, providing companies visibility to high polluting transactions to protect supply chains against rising carbon prices and downstream benefits ranging from lower interest rates to ESG leadership recognition.

Remaining 7 from Cohort-6

A key benefit for accelerated start-ups is better access to initial funding rounds, though for subsequent rounds, the impact of accelerator participation tends to wane. Whether companies in a cohort succeed or fail, the ecosystem gains as the initial set of start-ups helps form a critical mass for the innovation. Fortuitous connections forged between entrepreneurs, investors and talent all feed back into the insurance ecosystem, facilitating insurtech innovation and benefitting non-cohort start-ups too.

You get 3 free articles on Daily Fintech. After that you will need to become a member for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day) and get all our fresh content and our archives and participate in our forum.

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Source: https://dailyfintech.com/2021/04/22/lloyds-markets-extended-innovation-factory-labs-cohort-6/

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