Starling Bank, a UK-based challenger bank, has raised £40 million (around $49.2 million) in the latest funding round from its existing investors.
Officially announced on Friday, the round was led by Harry McPike’s JTC and Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Limited, both of which are among the existing backers in the bank.
This adds to a £60 million (almost $73.79 million) round the London-headquartered bank closed in February this year.
The challenger bank is targeting specifically small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals across the UK and Europe.
According to the bank, it has more than 1.4 million current accounts, including 155,000 business accounts, holds a 2.6 percent share of the UK’s SME banking market.
It already has £500 million ($614.95 million) of SME lending on its balance sheet, with further commitments raising the total to almost £1 billion ($1.23 billion).
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Commenting on the massive funding, Anne Boden, founder and chief executive of Starling Bank, said: “This additional funding from our existing investors demonstrates their commitment both to Starling and to our small business and personal customers who need our support now more than ever.”
With the latest funding, the challenger bank has raised a total of £363 million (almost $446.45 million) since its launch in 2014.
The fresh proceeds will help the bank to “continue its rapid growth and help it provide much-needed support to small business customers who have been hit by the coronavirus emergency.”
The banking platform is going digital
The demand for challenger banks is skyrocketing globally, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, their market is projected to grow even further.
Earlier this month, N26, a German digital bank, raised $100 million in its Series D funding round with a valuation of $3.5 billion.
Revolut, another UK-based neobank, raised $500 million earlier this year, becoming the country’s most valued fintech startup.
Fintech Influencer Switzerland Interview Series: 7 Questions to Ralph Mogicato
In May 2020, Fintechnews.ch launched the Fintech Influencer Switzerland Interview series, which presents at least once a week a short interview we have conducted with a well-known, longtime Swiss Fintech Influencer to get his or her views on some of the industry’s most urging issues and hottest trends.
Hi Ralph, what has changed for you personally during this pandemic?
My business life hasn’t changed much during the Covid Crisis. Since many years I work as a digital nomad. Everything is in the cloud and I am a heavy user of communication tools like Skype, Webex or Zoom. I even like Teams as a tool.
Do you think COVID-19 is the digital accelerator that the industry has been missing so far?
The dramatic consequences of the lockdown and the containment measures showed in every business where the digital loop wholes still are. I don’t know any business person who is not realizing that more digital offerings and services are better than less. Hence I call Corona also a fire accelerator for all businesses.
What is your current focus?
In the first few weeks, I mainly was busy speaking in boards or as senior advisors about securing the liquidity and implement the recommendations of our federal health department. In the most board we did in the beginning weekly status meetings. Right now we concentrate on every startup to boost sales. The sales activity drop was to me (not surprisingly) the clearest negative impact of Corona.
You were often in Singapore and know the fintech trends there very well, what are we missing?
Both countries did an excellent job in creating a fintech startup hub. During the crisis we saw on both sides heavy governmental support and helping hands everywhere. Though the financial sector was not hit so hard by the Corona crisis as the travel industry, I look positively in both markets for fintech startups. The dynamics speak clearly for Asia, but this is true for many industries. But the reality check comes after the crisis. Who is able to secure more money from investors and who is able to accelerate growth.
What can Switzerland learn from Fintech in Singapore or vice versa?
Switzerland and Singaporean startups have one in common. The home market especially B2C is too small for a substantial business. I personally think the Swiss fintechs have realized this faster and a lot of them pivoted to B2B. But in general, I would say we can each learn a lot from each other, but the markets and customer needs are very different. Where in Asia the financial inclusion has more weight, the Swiss startups tend to concentrate more on innovation and process efficiency.
Which Swiss Fintech Startup should we have on our radar?
Please nominate a Global Swiss Fintech Influencer for our Swiss Fintech Influencer Survey
I nominate Gian Reto à Porta.
Swiss Fintech Influencer Ralp Mogicato*
Ralph Mogicato has over 25 years of experience in the financial industry in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Singapore. He is now an active investor, board member or advisor for startup companies in the technology field (e.g. Starmind, unblu, APIAX, Sonect, IMburse) and guest lecturer at several universities of applied sciences as well as a lecturer at the University of Zurich.
UAE Fintech Spotii, which Offers a “Shop Now, Pay Later” Service without Charging Interest, Secures Additional Capital from Daman Investments
United Arab Emirates (UAE) based “Shop Now, Pay Later” Fintech Spotii announced on July 5, 2020 that Daman Investments had invested in its operations.
Daman Investments is a non-banking financial services company that’s known for its involvement in the MENA region business sector.
Spotii is a digital payments platform that’s focused on fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands.
Founded in 2019 by Anuscha Iqbal and Ziyaad Ahmed, the Fintech firm allows users to pay for goods purchased online over four equal instalments without having to pay any interest or extra charges. Anuscha and Ziyaad noted that technology empowers consumers while offering special benefits to business owners, which includes full upfront payment for their products and services, larger basket sizes, fewer refunds, and better conversion rates.
Ziyaad, co-founder and COO at Spotii, stated:
“Daman has been an active advocate of regional startups for decades providing long-term support and we look forward to growing Spotii together through our strategic partnership.”
Spotii was launched in April 2020. The Fintech company claims that it now has more than 30 merchants on its platform.
Ahmed Khizer Khan, CEO at Daman Investments, remarked:
“The launch of this payments platform couldn’t have come at a better time, especially as business owners navigate the current market turbulence in order to position themselves for future success. We have been monitoring the startup landscape for businesses that are able to traverse the current situation and would also be active contributors to the growth of the region.”
Khan added that his firm feels confident that the Spotii platform will be able to contribute towards the fast developing Fintech sector in the GCC region.
Spotii introduced its shop now (or buy now) pay later platform in May 2020. The company noted at that time that the credit it provides is at “no interest, no cost.”
Spotii has teamed up with various online merchants, allowing them to provide four “cost-free” installments to customers when they make purchases. This may help boost sales and potentially cut down on refunds.
Spotii officially launched with four online merchants (in May 2020) on its platform which include fashion and furnishing companies. The customers of these merchants are able to use the Spotii service as a payment option when they are checking out online.
Spotii’s management claims that they’re the first shop now pay later service in the UAE to work with local merchants.
The Spotii team noted (earlier this year):
“Four is a very important number to Spotii as a brand. It represents the 4 payments our community can split their payments over. We also publicly announced our company on April 4 (4/4) at 4:44 pm. We announced live customers at 12:34pm (ie 1-2-3-4). We will be announcing new merchants soon. Many asked to delay announcing publicly because of Covid-19.”
The company said that it collects a fee from merchants that use its platform.
“When we say ‘no interest, no cost, no catch,’ we really mean it.”
The company earns revenue from the merchants by charging a platform usage fee. Vendors or retailers that offer Spotii as a payment option have to pay a fee to the Fintech firm.
Singapore Blockchain Map 2020 Shows Strong Ecosystem Growth
OpenNodes, powered by Tribe, unveiled the Singapore Blockchain Landscape Map 2020 at ‘Unitize’, a collaborative online blockchain conference organized by San Francisco Blockchain Week and Blockshow.
Since 2019, Singapore’s blockchain ecosystem has seen substantial growth. There are 91 new additions to Singapore’s Blockchain Landscape 2020 map with a total of 234 entities. These entities have been active in various blockchain related initiatives.
Some of these include Mastercard, VISA, Alibaba-backed Ant Financial, Tencent-backed WeBank, WireX, Phillip Securities, SAP, Contour, Facebook-backed Libra amongst others.
says Ng Yi Ming, Managing Partner, OpenNodes, powered by Tribe.
“IMDA’s tireless efforts and support for the blockchain community in Singapore and beyond, have fostered this ecosystem growth.
We are excited to see more local and international blockchain companies joining Singapore’s blockchain ecosystem and innovating across various sectors such as trade finance, smart cities and solutions & consulting. It is especially encouraging to see local companies such as DLT Ledgers, a Singapore-backed blockchain platform recently expand into MENA (Middle East and North Africa). IMDA looks forward to more collaborative efforts in anchoring Singapore as a blockchain hub in Asia,”
Singapore’s Blockchain Landscape 2020 map includes a new industry segment called the “Decentralised Finance” or better known as DeFI for most, which is a notable area for 2020 that has seen new companies emerge as well as incumbents extending their services into various areas.
There has been an increased activity due to numerous globally recognised projects. Temasek has recently partnered Facebook-backed Libra Association as its first Asian member and have also spun off several subsidiaries focusing on blockchain applications including digital identity and trade finance.
(Click image for higher resolution)
Singapore Blockchain Map 2020
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