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Fintech Adoption in Pakistan on the Rise with Record Levels of Funding Secured by Startups: Report

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Pakistan has managed to attract a considerable amount of new capital to support its evolving Fintech sector and emerging startups. The significant increase in new funding actually began following the COVID-19 outbreak which led to many more consumers transacting online instead of visiting physical business locations.

Recently, Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Securities Pvt.’s Fintech trading app KTrade and ex- Morgan Stanley asset manager Omair Ansari’s early wage access platform have managed to acquire $6.6 million in capital, which notably adds to the $19.3 million in funding for the nation’s high-potential startups during Q1 2021.

Of that amount, almost $15 million has been received from overseas investors, which channeled an all-time record $48 million into Pakistan‘s Fintech economy in 2020. This, according to a report from Bloomberg which referenced  a note from Invest2Innovate, an initiative launched to support early-stage firms. The considerable decrease in international air travel during the pandemic has led to an unanticipated growth in Pakistan’s startup ecosystem. The country has been observing many travel advisories that it has issued against several other nations.

Ali Farid Khwaja, chairman at Karachi-based KASB Securities, told Bloomberg in an interview:

“Covid has helped us because previously an investors’ due diligence process would usually involve them coming to the country. It was not that easy for them to visit Pakistan. Now they can’t go to any country, they became open to speaking with founders over Zoom and other digital means.”

KTrade, which lets clients purchase and sell equities via the Pakistan Stock Exchange, secured $4.5 million through an investment that was led by Hong Kong’s TT Bond Partners and New York’s HOF Capital. This, according to an update from the firm. Germany-based investor Christian Angermayer also took part in the funding round.

Ansari has managed to acquire $2.1 million in seed funding for Abhi (literally means “now” in Urdu, one of the official languages of Pakistan), which somewhat like Payactiv Inc. and Wagestream Ltd., lets workers gain access to earned wages before they actually receive their payouts from employers. Investors in the round reportedly include VEF Ltd. and Village Global, Ansari revealed.

Talal Gondal, CEO at TAG Innovation Pvt., which has finalized one of the biggest pre-seed rounds in the region, added:

“There are always stages in an ecosystem. Pakistan’s fintech wave is just starting.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176380-fintech-adoption-in-pakistan-on-the-rise-with-record-levels-of-funding-secured-by-startups-report/

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Digital Money Firm Merchantrade Asia Partners LintraMax to Offer Digitized Payroll to Malaysian Plantation Workers

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Earlier this week, Merchantrade Asia, a digital money services business operator and e-money issuer, teamed up with palm plantation management services provider LintraMax in order to digitize the payroll system for underserved plantations workers in Malaysia.

Through the partnership, Merchantrade Asia and LintraMax plan to reach out to the plantations’ workers in order to show them the benefits of using Merchantrade Money, a digital wallet offered by Merchantrade.

Merchantrade’s management noted that digital wages payment services may assist firms with lowering the overall risks associated with using or carrying physical cash. The solutions may also help with minimizing or eliminating the need to make physical contact during the COVID-19 health crisis while ensuring greater transparency of company payroll processes.

Through the digital wallet, workers should be able to get their wages and have improved access to virtual payments platforms, which should allow for convenient cashless purchases of provisions as well as being able to send funds back home to friends and family.

The firm further noted that migrant workers will find its online wallet solution ideal or well-suited for their needs as it comes with support in several different languages.

Additionally, they’ll  offer the Merchantrade’s digital payment solutions to oil palm plantations that have been using the Quarto plantation management system provided by LintraMax.

At present, there are around 100 plantation firms across Malaysia that are using the Quarto plantation management system offered by LintraMax.

Khor Kheng Khoon, Founder and Managing Director of LintraMax, stated:

“Payroll processing at plantations is the main pain point that we are trying to address through this partnership. Currently, many plantations still rely on cash and cheques to pay employee wages every month. These methods are not the most efficient or safest, so LintraMax hopes to turn these methods of wages payment into digital, such as through the use of digital wallets. This is where Merchantrade’s expertise is crucial for the mission, and we are excited to partner with them.”

Ramasamy K. Veeran, Merchantrade’s Founder and Managing Director, remarked:

“We are excited to partner with LintraMax to enable seamless digital experience into their growing ecosystem through our innovative Merchantrade Money e-wallet. We believe that this collaboration is a definite step in the right direction and will indeed benefit the plantation management space and drive digital payments adoption as it not only benefits plantation companies as well as directly impacts workers daily lives by encouraging digital experience.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176563-digital-money-firm-merchantrade-asia-partners-lintramax-to-offer-digitized-payroll-to-malaysian-plantation-workers/

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Insurtech: Malaysia’s myTukar, a Car Purchasing, Selling Service Partners PolicyStreet.com to Offer Insurance for Pre-Owned Cars

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Malaysia-based myTukar, a pre-owned car purchasing and selling platform, has teamed up with Insurtech company PolicyStreet.com in order to provide insurance policies for pre-owned automobile purchases.

Through the partnership, myTukar’s wholesale and retail clients may get timely insurance quotations along with convenient access to most of the established insurance services providers via its platform. The services support new car insurance and renewals as well.

myTukar is now the official partner of PolicyStreet.com and is also one of the first online automobile retailers to offer insurance coverage from several different firms.

Some of the insurance providers that have onboarded with myTukar through PolicyStreet reportedly include Allianz General Insurance Company, AXA Affin General Insurance, Berjaya Sompo Insurance, Pacific and Orient Insurance Co., RHB Insurance, Syarikat Tafakul Malaysia Am, among several others.

Fong Hon Sum, CEO at myTukar, stated:

“We are extremely pleased to have found a like-minded partner to collaborate with us in our quest to spearhead the transformation of the pre-owned car industry. PolicyStreet.com was born out of a need for change in the traditional century-old insurance industry, and aims to democratise insurance by making it Simple, Easy and Affordable – which is very much in line with myTukar’s mission of making pre-owned car buying and selling simple, convenient, efficient and transparent.”

Yen Ming Lee, CEO at PolicyStreet.com, remarked:

“We are excited to be partnering with myTukar to deliver the transformation that myTukar is looking for in enabling seamless motor insurance purchase for all of myTukar’s customers. We do this by making insurance simple, easy and affordable.”

Polisea Pte. Ltd. is the holding company of PolicyStreet, an insurance tech company, advancing insurance and healthcare through innovative technologies.

The company says its goal is to “empower people to be sufficiently covered by insurance policies by making them simple, easy and accessible to people from all walks of life.”​

The firm’s management notes:

“PolicyStreet aims to democratize the insurance industry by making insurance sexy, fun and appealing to the millennials of today. We curate new products that fits the lifestyle needs because we believe existing products are just not enough. We work in an inclusive ecosystem where we enable customers to buy the policies direct from us whilst ensuring the best-in-class service levels.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176565-insurtech-malaysias-mytukar-a-car-purchasing-selling-service-partners-policystreet-com-to-offer-insurance-for-pre-owned-cars/

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Fintech Challenger Current Says it’s Not a Bank, It’s Better with Increased Focus on Customer Experience

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The topic of banks vs. Fintech firms has been “another hot one as of late,” the team at Fintech Current notes in an update while adding that with court rulings, the questioning of banking execs on Capitol Hill has been ongoing. And, if you have been in New York City recently, you’ve most likely noticed the launch of Current’s aggressive marketing campaign during your commute, the company writes in a blog post shared with CI earlier this week.

Current wants to set the record straight. The Fintech says:

“To be clear and upfront, Current is NOT a bank. We’re better. We first addressed this topic last fall, when we announced we had no plans to pursue a bank charter, and the differences between a fintech like Current and traditional banks have only become clearer over the past year.”

Current also mentions in its blog post that they have “never been, nor do we have any plans to, become a bank.” The Fintech challenger adds that they are quite focused on “building the best, most innovative technology that can solve real problems for our members and enable them to change their lives through working with our partner banks to provide banking services.”

According to Current, it’s “a win-win relationship when we each focus on what we’re good at.”

The company further notes that as anyone in New York City can clearly see on billboards, on the subway, or as a bus or taxi cab, we “wondered ‘What should banks stop doing?’ and that’s the premise on which we founded Current back in 2015.”

Current points out that the Chief Execs of four of the largest banks in the world testified to Congress at the end of May 2021, during which it was noted that the four banks had “charged customers a combined $4 billion in overdraft fees in 2020.” Clients who earn less than $50,000, African-Americans, and Hispanics were “the most likely to have been hit with these fees,” Current claims.

While sharing the “Current difference” (strategy), the Fintech challenger notes:

“In 2020, Current SAVED its nearly 3 million members over $100 million in overdraft fees. No Current member is ever charged an overdraft fee, and our premium members are eligible for up to $100 in free overdraft.”

Current further reveals that most of its members make about $45,000 per year so when banking with incumbents, they’re “more likely to have been hit with exorbitant overdraft fees (and others, such as minimum balance requirements),” the company claims.

Current writes in its blog post:

“In short, people can end up OWING banks money FOR running out of money. We don’t believe in that at Current and never will.”

While commenting further on the “big banks,” the Current team adds:

“A record number of net closures of U.S. banks and thrifts happened in 2020, with over 3,300 branches closing (to just over 1,000 opening). Highly populated states like New York, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and New Jersey had the most, with more than 100 each (and more than 200 in NY and California).”

While sharing how the Current difference can help, the company says that it saw an “acceleration to digital banking.” Current confirms that they have now doubled their member base in “less than six months in 2020.” Current further reveals that as of June 2021, the service provider has “nearly three million members to just one million a year ago. If anything, 2020 proved bank branches aren’t necessary.”

The Fintech firm also notes that if you are a sports fan, then you might have seen or at least heard about boxing legend Floyd Mayweather fighting social media sensation Logan Paul on Sunday night in an exhibition bout.

However, if you looked closely when Paul came into the ring, you’d see “a familiar logo on his robe,” Current notes while adding that “not only did we sponsor Paul for the fight, we also sponsored his pre-fight video and enabled him to give away $10,000 to his fans on Current.”

As noted by the Current:

“Creator partnerships are core to who we are at Current and we’re thrilled to be able to provide the platform for today’s most relevant digital media stars to interact directly with their fans and create original content.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176569-fintech-challenger-current-says-its-not-a-bank-its-better-with-increased-focus-on-customer-experience/

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Newsletter: Safer driving + The Cat in the Hat

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  • Startup of the Week: Sfara telematics for safer driving
  • Zippin adds checkout-free AmEx store for playoffs
  • The Cat in the Black Hat and an Internet of Things
  • FDA nod for Alpha Tau’s DaRT tumor treatment
  • PolarisQB partnership tackles neglected women’s diseases
  • ALD raises $50M following Hub Security merger
  • Where’s the beef? BeeFree Agro gives real-time answers
  • mPrest: Iron Dome tech defends New York Power Authority
  • Intuition Robotics wows The New Yorker
  • Introductions
  • 1,300 high-tech jobs

Startup of the Week:
Sfara: Telematics for safer driving


Automotive telematics is a booming business, expected to grow from $64B in 2019 to $416B by 2027, a CAGR of 26%. Join OurCrowd as we invest in Sfara, a US-based company that has developed a smartphone-based vehicle telematics and personal safety solution for OEMs, fleet operators, insurance companies, and others. Sfara’s technology provides the most accurate, cost-effective crash detection, accident management, event-driven safety response, and fleet-driver risk management. The software-only solution, vetted by Daimler, Bosch, and the University of Virginia using National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-certified labs and sleds, dispenses with the specialized in-vehicle hardware previously required. CEO Erik Goldman co-founded Hughes Telematics and became Group President of Verizon Telematics, the world’s leading provider of in-vehicle telematics, after it acquired Hughes for more than $600M. Founder Sascha Simon headed the connected car business for Mercedes-Benz and oversaw their $800M+ telematics portfolio. Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a company in the same space, raised $500M from Soft Bank’s Vision Fund. Already earning significant revenues and with healthy growth forecast for 2021, Sfara’s existing investors include Mercedes-Benz, Bosch and Verizon. Bosch Service Solutions is leading this round together with Cultivation Capital.

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Zippin adds chekout-free AmEx store for playoffs


Zippin, our new portfolio company that offers Amazon Go-style checkout-free stores at dynamic locations like sports arenas and transport hubs, unveiled an American Express autonomous store at Barclays Center for the Nets’ first-round NBA playoff series against the Celtics. Zippin also has checkout-free stores at Empower Field at Mile High, AT&T Center and Golden 1 Center. The AmEx store recorded the second-most sales of any concession stand in the arena during the Nets’ May 22 playoff opener. “This is just such a dynamic opportunity to enhance the guest experience, while also still being a pioneer and being at the forefront of a new, cutting-edge technology,” BSE Global Chief Commercial Officer Michael Wandell tells Sports Business Journal. Watch the video to see how shoppers zip in, choose products, and zip out without stopping as purchases are instantly charged to their phone. Zippin’s vision is to become the operating system for the automated store of the future, powering the leading checkout-free platform for stores around the world, eliminating lines for shoppers and significantly boosting profitability. The company is already providing services to eight major retailers, including some of the world’s food service groups. With 100 stores planned before the end of 2021, Zippin is growing fast. See Zippin in action at Sacramento Kings Golden 1 Center and click below to find out more about investing with OurCrowd.

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The Cat in the Black Hat and an Internet of Things


The Colonial oil pipeline, JBS meat-packing plants, the water system in Oldsmar, Florida, and banks, hospitals, municipalities and power grids have been among the thousands of critical infrastructure systems hacked or attacked as cybercriminals and ransomware blackmailers crack the weak points in our increasingly interconnected “Internet of Things.” Israel’s Mekorot water network, perhaps the most relentlessly threatened system in the world, is now secured by our portfolio company IXDen. Security company eSentire counted 290 ransomware attacks by six separate gangs in the first four months of 2021 alone that netted more than $45M for the blackmailers. Thing One and Thing Two wreaked havoc before being returned to their big red box by the Cat in the Hat. Imagine if an entire Internet of Things were to fall into the hands of Black Hat hackers, prepared to hold our most vital networks to ransom. Read more in my new ‘Investors on the Frontlines’ column.

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FDA nod for Alpha Tau’s DaRT tumor treatment
OurCrowd portfolio company Alpha Tau Medical has secured breakthrough device designation from the FDA for its Alpha DaRT – an advanced technology that irradiates solid tumors. The FDA status applies to the technology to treat squamous cell carcinoma of the skin and oral cavity without curative standard of care. The treatment involves the insertion of Radium-224 directly into the tumor, releasing alpha particles to destroy the tumor while sparing the healthy tissue around it.“The FDA’s recognition of the Alpha DaRT as a Breakthrough Device is a tremendous milestone for the company, as we seek to bring our revolutionary technology to patients in need,” Alpha Tau CEO Uzi Sofer tells NS Medical Devices. “This confirms our long-standing hopes and expectations for this product, and comes at the perfect time to accelerate our clinical trial program that is moving ahead rapidly now in the US.

Top Tech News

PolarisQB partnership tackles neglected women’s diseases

OurCrowd portfolio company Polaris Quantum Biotech has teamed up with Auransa, an artificial intelligence company developing precision medicines in areas of unmet medical needs, to address therapeutics for neglected diseases disproportionately affecting women, AiThority reports. The partnership seeks to discover treatments that may tackle many such diseases, and their complementary expertise promises to seek solutions that elude medical research. Auransa is an AI-driven biotech company with a pipeline of novel compounds for various diseases. POLARISqb built the first drug discovery platform using quantum computing, making the process ten times faster. “We are excited about collaborating with Polaris to undertake a neglected area in the pharmaceutical industry. As women CEOs, we’ve joined forces to tackle female diseases like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, triple negative breast cancer or ovarian cancer. Together, I believe that we will be able to combine our expertise in biology and chemistry to generate quality solutions for hard to tackle or neglected diseases affecting women’s health,” says Pek Lum, CEO of Auransa.

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Neuroscience startup CorrActions raises $2.7M seed round

CorrActions, a noninvasive neuroscience startup based at OurCrowd’s Labs/02 incubator that uses sensor data to evaluate a user’s cognitive state due to drowsiness, alcohol, fatigue and other issues, raised a $2.7M seed round with backing from VentureIsrael, Operator Partners and the Israeli Innovation Authority, TechCrunch reports. The idea is to use touch sensors wherever humans may interact with machines – a fighter jet’s cockpit, a car or wherever knowing a user’s cognitive state could prevent potentially catastrophic errors. “Using sensors that already exist in nearly every electronic device like smartwatches, smartphones and even steering wheels and joysticks, CorrActions is the first in the world to be able to read a person’s cognitive state at any given moment by analyzing micro changes in their muscular activity,” says Eldad Hochman, the company’s co-founder and CSO.

Where’s the beef? BeeFree Agro gives real-time answer


BeeFree Agro, born on a farm in Israel’s Galilee and the newest recruit to our Labs/02 Incubator, introduces drone technology to herding cattle. Named Joe after the inventor’s favorite dog, the drone moves up to 1,000 heads of cattle over vast expanses of land without human intervention. Joe displays all the characteristics of a good herding pal: intelligent, loyal, follows orders, autonomous, fast and easy to operate. The system significantly reduces operational costs and organizational and personal stress levels. We look forward to helping BeeFree develop faster, simpler and more cost-effective ranching.

mPrest: Iron Dome technology defends New York Power Authority

OurCrowd portfolio company mPrest, the software developers behind the Iron Dome missile defense system, have reformatted their technology to help the New York Power Authority prevent outages of transformers, Kurrant Insights reports. The solution, co-developed by mPrest and the NYPA, leverages the same anomaly-detection algorithms made famous by mPrest in the defense sector and was one of the first steps in NYPA’s mission to become fully digital.

Intuition Robotics wows The New Yorker

“ElliQ is designed to get to know its owner: it assembles a personality profile through repeated interaction and machine learning, and uses it to connect more efficiently. The robot determines how “adventurous” a person is, then adjusts how often it suggests new activities. It learns whether its user is more inclined to exercise in the morning or the afternoon; whether she is more motivated by encouragement, or by a joke, or by a list of the benefits of vigorous movement,” The New Yorker reports in a profile of the robotic assistant for the elderly developed by OurCrowd portfolio company Intuition Robotics. “With new developments the company is working on, ElliQ will one day be able to remind users about a broader array of health-care tasks: taking meds, reporting side effects, describing symptoms.”

ALD raises $50M following Hub Security merger 

Advanced Logistics Development Ltd. (ALD), an Israeli company traded on the Tel Aviv stock exchange that merged in February with OurCrowd portfolio company Hub Security, has raised $50M from investors. The merged company was valued at $146M, CTech reports. On completion of the merger, Hub Security will hold 51% of the new company, which is expected to go forward under the Hub Security name, led by current Hub Security CEO Eyal Moshe.

Introductions

Your portfolio gets stronger when the OurCrowd network gets involved. Visit our Introductions page to see which of our companies are looking for connections that you may be able to help with.

1,300 High-Tech Jobs

Read the OurCrowd High-Tech Jobs Index Q1 2021 here.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, there are hundreds of open positions at our global portfolio companies. See some opportunities below:

Search and filter through Portfolio Jobs to find your next challenge.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://blog.ourcrowd.com/safer-driving-the-cat-in-the-hat/

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