RateSetter Australia has moved to reassure investors about the platform’s performance during the Covid-19 crisis and is reportedly still preparing for a stock market listing.
Daniel Foggo, chief executive of the peer-to-peer lending platform’s Australian arm, has appointed advisers Highbury Partnership and Bell Potter to help the firm prepare for a flotation on the Australian Securities Exchange, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review.
He also sent an update to investors to inform them of the business’s performance during the pandemic and its plans for the listing.
The Australian Financial Review reported that Foggo told investors RateSetter Australia has grown its lending to AUS$800m since inception, and more recently it has seen its renewable loan volumes rise by 75 per cent between January and March.
This was offset by a drop in automotive lending, which fell by 60 per cent in April, before jumping to more normal levels in May.
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CEO of British Patient Capital Wants More UK Institutional Money Going into Venture Funding
Judith Hartley, CEO of British Patient Capital – a subsidiary of the British Business Bank, has commented on the lack of UK institutional capital going into venture capital.
British Patient Capital manages a £2.5 billion investment program that seeks to facilitate £5 billion of institutional capital to support UK businesses. The UK has emerged as a top entrepreneurial center in Europe hoovering up a high percentage of venture capital and home to a growing number of unicorns – including Fintechs.
Recently, it has been reported that the UK government has emerged as the single largest investor in early-stage firms – in part due to COVID-19 support schemes. The government-backed Future Fund invested over £1.20 billion worth of convertible loans into more than 1,200 UK companies. As early-stage ventures frequently do not generate profits, they must rely on venture funding or angel investors to scale. As COVID upended these markets, the UK decided to step in to provide funding in the form of a convertible security that for many of these firms will convert into equity. In recent months, the UK government has received some criticism as to whether this is the best use of the taxpayer’s money as they hold investments in young, riskier firms.
Hartley has distributed a statement regarding early-stage funding noting that the UK has a deep pool of talent and a high number of innovative start-ups, many of which have subsequently grown to become leading businesses.
“Venture Capital funding can be crucial for these innovative high growth companies, to enable them to grow and fulfil their potential,” said Hartley. “While we have seen a significant increase in capital flowing towards UK venture and venture growth funds, this has been mainly from institutional investors in the US and Canada.”
Additionally, she believes that UK pension fund investments in this sector lag far behind and UK savers are missing out on the financial returns available from the UK’s tech successes.
Hartley said that they are working to provide funding to the UK’s most promising growth-stage firms:
“Some of these companies have become household names such as Revolut and Cazoo. Others are driving innovation across a diverse range of areas, for example, the discovery of new medicines, to the development of clean transport and cybersecurity. As the UK’s tech markets continue to mature, the venture capital sector offers a significant investment opportunity. This is especially so at the venture growth (series B+) stage, when companies are typically expanding internationally or gaining significant market traction or deepening R&D spend. By putting capital in to these venture growth funds, institutional investors can gain exposure to these innovative high growth companies and capture value as they rapidly scale.”
Manuel Silva Martinez, General Partner at Mouro Capital, recently said that we should be celebrating the fact that the government is putting their money where their mouth is to create a national culture of innovation. Mouro Capital, formerly Santander’s Innoventures, is a prominent Fintech investor.
As for the pension money, these funds are currently restricted from investing in these early-stage firms but some people are interested in changing this – including Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Others are not so excited about the idea, as highlighted recently in an FT article that worried about the increased cost to hold venture investments.
Meanwhile, according to a recent report the total value of venture capital secured by UK-based firms surged to the highest level in Q4 2020. The two top UK crowdfunding platforms, Seedrs and CrowdCube, play an important and growing role as well.
It is indisputable that a policy of creating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem is key to economic growth and prosperity. Innovative startups are the firms that grow into bigger businesses that create more jobs and affiliated wealth. It is more a question of methodology as to how to engender such an ecosystem. The entire country benefits from risk-taking entrepreneurs and those who support them.
Over time, venture capital and online capital formation may surpass the government’s position. Additionally, it is possible that the UK government could end generating a positive return from investments affiliated with the Future Fund and other programs but similar to any VC investor where patience is required, it is going to take some time.
Tinkoff Investment Unveils Russian Investors Activity Index
Tinkoff Investments announced on Monday it has launched Tinkoff InvestIndex, which is described as a set of indices that represent Russian investors’ activity and sentiment. Tinkoff InvestIndex shows what securities investors are buying or selling, what industries they favour, and what currencies they are holding. According to Tinkoff, the Index is based on anonymous data collected from more than a million investors registered on Tinkoff Investments’ Pulse social network.
The Index consists of several indicators that track Russian investors’ market activity and sentiment.
- Tinkoff InvestIndex: Represents, on a 100-point scale, the overall sentiment of Russian investors trading on the Moscow and Saint Petersburg Exchanges over the last month.This reveals the extent to which investors have confidence in market growth or decline in that period. In general, the index shows the changes for both stock exchanges for a period of one week
- Tinkoff InvestIndex dynamics: Show how much investors are increasing or decreasing their positions by, and in doing so highlights bullish, or bearish, trends
- The Trading Activity Index: Shows how actively investors are trading securities
- Tinkoff InvestIndex by Industry: Reveals changes in investor behaviour toward securities from the 10 largest industries against the S&P index and the MOEX index
- Tinkoff InvestIndex for USD: Shows the extent to which investors are increasing or decreasing their holdings of USD
- The Top Buy and Sell Leaders: Index reveals the stocks, which investors have most drastically increased or decreased their positions in over the course of a day, week, month, or year
Dmitry Panchenko, CEO of Tinkoff Investments, then added:
“Tinkoff Investments is a leading Russian broker, so our customers’ activity is an accurate barometer of market sentiment. We have taken anonymous data on the trading activity of our customers and extrapolated it to gain insights into the entire market and enable us to assess prevailing trends. We have developed a universal service and hope that Tinkoff InvestIndex will be useful for both beginner investors and experts, in particular, for media reporters who will now be able to use this data for professional purposes.”
Insight Partners leads $60M growth round in cross-border payments startup Thunes
The world of digital payments is very fragmented, with different types of online bank accounts, digital wallets and money transfer services used in different countries. Singapore-based Thunes, a fintech focused on making cross-border money transfers easier, announced today it has raised a $60 million growth round led by Insight Partners. One of the world’s largest venture capital firms, Insight is known for working closely with growth-stage companies, helping them expand through its ScaleUp program.
The round included participation from existing shareholders. Thunes’ last funding announcement was in September 2020 a $60 million Series B led by Helios Investment Partners. Other investors include GGV Capital and Checkout.com.
Founded in 2016, Thunes’ customers include Grab, PayPal, MPesa, the Commercial Bank of Dubai, Western Union, Remitly and Singaporean insurance firm NTUC Income. Its technology serves a similar purpose for online payments platforms as the SWIFT system does for commercial banks, acting as a hub to transfer money online to recipients in different countries, even if they use a different financial institution, digital wallet or mobile money account. For example, Western Union uses Thunes so it can move money into digital wallets and bank accounts. Thunes monetizes per transaction through a fixed fee and a small currency exchange fee. It is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom.
Chief executive officer Peter De Caluwe told TechCrunch that Thunes looks for active investos who can help it work with banks and regulators in new markets and connect it with potential clients. For example, Helios focuses on African companies and Thunes used part of its funding from the firm to build teams in Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Likewise, GGV Capital, which led its Series A, helped Thunes’ operations in China.
When Insight approached Thunes, it was not planning to raise more funding.
“The important note here is that we were actually not planning to do another round and Insight was pretty persistent in knocking on our door,” De Caluwe said. “Since we last spoke in September, we more than doubled our workforce, our revenues, everything just became bigger and more scaled. So at the end, we decided getting extra funding from a very solid investor makes sense if they can help us.”
Insight’s portfolio also includes Twitter and Shopify and its ScaleUp program focuses on supporting software companies with high growth potential. For example, it recently became the first outside investor in Octopus Deploy, which had been bootstrapped for almost a decade, to help grow its enterprise market over the next five to 10 years.
De Caluwe said Insight’s resources, including its talent network, will help Thunes expand in North and South America, build its engineering and product teams and decide what new services to offer customers. Thunes has doubled its team from about 70 people to 160 over the past half year, including engineers in the United Kingdom, Singapore and China, and business development teams in Latin America and Africa.
“Geographically, this is an important step for us that ticks a big box,” De Caluwe said. For example, Insight can help Thunes onboard larger U.S. retailers and fintech companies, especially ones that want to collect payments from emerging countries.
“Our ambition now is if we have a large U.S.-based retailer, service or game company who uses us to pay somebody in emerging markets, like suppliers or partners, to let our API also collect from someone. So if are you are a U.S.-based player, you can also collect payments and that is something we have been working very aggressively on,” he added.
In a press statement, Deven Parekh, managing director at Insight Partners, said, “Taking an innovative approach to solving the problems of an extremely fragmented and complex payments ecosystem, Thunes has created a unique platform that provides accessible, fast and reliable payment solutions. We see the company as poised for massive growth as it expands its infrastructure. We are looking forward to helping them scale up.”
Global Payments Platform Nium Unveils Maritime Payments Solution
Global fintech infrastructure platform, Nium, announced on Monday the launch of its maritime payments solution. According to Nium, the solution was created to digitize the payments experience for shipping companies, their management, seafarers, and their families.
“The Nium maritime payment solution leverages the company’s global licence network and integrated technology stack to enable real-time payroll disbursements, vendor payments, eWallet services, and remittances.”
Nium further reported that the solution combines its “Pay In” and “Pay Out” capabilities, allowing shipping companies to:
- Reduce or even eliminate the use of cash on ships through QR payments
- Launch branded e-wallets with Card Payments, Remittance, Multi-Currency functionality and Travel Insurance services
- Apply exclusive rates for inter and intra company cross-border payments (fund transfers can be done regardless of Internet connectivity
- Comply with payroll and delivery and international banking regulations, including Philippines’ Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) ruling regarding seafarer payments
- Easily track remittance payments
- Send payments in real-time
While sharing more details about the solution, Gitesh Athavale, Head of Sales South East Asia and Hong Kong at Nium, stated:
“Our maritime payments solution provides an efficient and cost-saving way for shipping company management to digitalise payments, including disbursing payroll and making vendor payments. Their seafarers benefit from a convenient and modern way to send and receive money simply or spend it onboard – all through the convenience of one simple app.”
Founded in 2015, Nium (formerly InstaReM) was launched to improve the cross-border payments experience for consumers in the APAC region. It has since expanded and scaled its offerings to meet the needs of SMEs, financial institutions, enterprises, and other payment service providers. Nium added it currently operates its Send, Spend and Receive business in over 100 countries, 65 in real-time.
The company recently joined The Financial Technology Association (FTA). As previously reported, FTA said it believes the successful integration of Fintech solutions in the American financial system starts with the adoption of national policies that recognize the importance of responsible innovation and encompass a coherent vision on key priorities.
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