TransferWise co-founders Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus.
Financial technology firm TransferWise has obtained a license from the U.K. markets watchdog to offer retail investment services to clients.
The London-based firm started life as a means of sending money internationally online. In 2018, it made a deeper push into banking by offering a “borderless” multi-currency account tied to a debit card.
Now, TransferWise plans to launch a service that lets users of the account invest passively in investment funds from third-party providers. The company said Wednesday that it had received permission from the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority to deal in investments.
“About three or four years ago we saw that people — and more so businesses — are not only sending money, they’re also receiving money internationally,” TransferWise CEO and co-founder Kristo Käärmann told CNBC in a video call.
Käärmann said the problem the platform’s users have had lately is finding a way to make a return on their cash. He added that TransferWise wanted to take a different approach to traditional banks, which lend out customer deposits and charge interest.
“It’s not like if you put money into a savings account in a bank, money magically grows there,” said Käärmann. “It’s still going to be invested in something.”
TransferWise isn’t the only fintech start-up looking to take on the investment industry. Plenty of other companies, such as Robinhood, Revolut and eToro, have gained popularity thanks to their zero-fee stock and cryptocurrency-trading features. However, Käärmann says his firm isn’t looking to act as a stockbroker.
TransferWise said it expects to launch its first investing feature in the next 12 months. Though the firm is starting with the U.K., it hopes to also roll the product out internationally later down the line.
Founded in 2011, TranferWise has swiftly risen to become one of Europe’s top fintech start-ups, securing a $3.5 billion valuation last year. The company says it’s racked up 8 million users globally and processes £4 billion worth of transactions each month. Its investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Richard Branson and Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures.
Though the travel industry came to a halt this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Käärmann said TransferWise still expects to turn an annual profit in its 2020 accounts. The firm has been profitable for three years running, but a big selling point of its multi-currency debit card is the ability to convert to local currencies when traveling.
“We’ve been very humbled in some ways and proud that customers are funding our mission,” he said. “They keep TransferWise running through the fees that they’re paying; they pay our salaries, they let us hire more people and grow the product.
Coronavirus live updates: U.S. reports more than 60,000 new cases; Africa tops 500,000 total cases
Total number of confirmed cases in Africa now over 500,000
The continent of Africa has recorded more than 500,000 coronavirus cases, according to data compiled by Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with nearly 12,000 related deaths.
Across the continent of approximately 1.2 billion people, South Africa has recorded by far the highest number of Covid-19 infections, accounting for over 215,000 cases, while Egypt has confirmed more than 77,000 cases.
The World Health Organization has previously expressed concern that Africa has seen a rising number of coronavirus cases and fatalities as a result of the pandemic. The global health body has since urged governments across the continent to take effective measures to contain the spread of the virus as countries resume commercial flight operations. —Sam Meredith
U.S. reports another record single-day spike
The U.S. reported about 60,021 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, an all-time high single-day increase, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Daily new cases fell below 50,000 in recent days, though some public health officials have warned there could be a backlog of reporting due to the July Fourth holiday weekend. The U.S. has reported about 51,383 new cases on average over the past seven days, up nearly 24.5% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by Hopkins.
The country is now nearing 3 million cases and has passed 131,000 deaths since the first U.S. case was reported in January. Outbreaks continue to accelerate in a number of states, especially Texas, Florida, California and Arizona, which collectively reported nearly half of all U.S. cases on Tuesday. —Will Feuer
Read CNBC’s previous coronavirus live coverage here: San Francisco delays reopening of indoor dining as U.S. nears 3 million cases
Slack acquires SaaS startup Rimeto
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield speaks at his company’s Frontiers conference at Pier 27 & 29 in San Francisco on April 24, 2019
NOAH BERGER | AFP) (Photo credit should read NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty Images)
Slack has acquired software as a service company Rimeto, the company announced Wednesday. Slack did not disclose the terms of the deal.
Rimeto, which has raised $10 million in venture funding, builds a detailed employee dictionary for companies. That allows employers and fellow employees to see employees’ skills, experience and current projects.
Slack said the acquisition will help its users fell more “connected,” especially as several offices continue to work at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Rimeto’s advanced profile and directory features will be integrated into Slack directly, but we will also continue to offer Rimeto as a standalone product and support their existing enterprise customers,” Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said in a release.
Samsung’s next major smartphone launch set for August 5
Samsung’s “Galaxy Unpacked” will take place on August 5, 2020. The South Korean electronics giant is expected to unveil a new device in its Note series of smartphones.
Samsung is set to reveal its next major smartphone on August 5 — and media reports say the latest version of its high-end Galaxy Note 20 smartphone could be unveiled.
The South Korean electronics giant usually unveils a new version of its Galaxy Note series of devices at its August “Galaxy Unpacked” event. This year’s edition will be virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The promotional video featured the tip of a stylus — known as the S Pen, which comes with Samsung’s Galaxy Note phones.
This appears to back up a number of leaks that suggest the next device will be the Galaxy Note 20 which will come in several versions.
A report by SamMobile earlier this year also said that another foldable smartphone could be unveiled called the Galaxy Z Fold 2. That would be the successor to the Galaxy Fold Samsung released last year that had serious technical problems when it launched.
It’s a tough time for smartphone makers launching phones due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has forced countries around the world to lock down, and caused massive economic damage.
Worldwide smartphone shipments decreased 11.7% year over year, in the first quarter of 2020, their largest yearly decline, according to IDC. The market research firm expects shipments to fall 11.9% this year.
Samsung saw shipments plunge 18.9% year-on-year in the March quarter, IDC said.
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