financial services

Venture capital and the blockchain will be the talk at Startup Battlefield Africa

TechCrunch Startup Battlefield returns to Africa next month, and we have an agenda chock-full of interesting panels and our premier startup competition. Joining us in Lagos, Nigeria on December 11 for a couple of those aforementioned panels will be Chris Folayan, the founder and CEO of Mall for Africa; Nichole Yembra, chief financial, risk and investment officer for Venture Garden Group (VGG) and a managing partner at GreenHouse Capital; and Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi, partner at Hacked Capital. Chris Folayan, who is originally from Nigeria, graduated from California State University, San Jose, and founded and sold several companies globally. He also established new companies in Africa, the U.S., the Middle East and Asia. Mall for Africa is a global economy e-commerce infrastructure company enab...

Messaging-based primary healthcare service 98point6 raises $50 million from Goldman Sachs

The messaging-based primary care provider 98point6 has raised $50 million in its latest round of led by the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs. It seems that Jo Natauri, the global head of healthcare investing in Goldman Sachs’ investment banking group is a fan of the concept that millennials would rather text than video chat. One millennial’s perspective: I don’t want to video chat my doctor. I want to text them and share photos. Or see them in person. But video feels weird. Still haven’t put my finger on why… — Christina Farr (@chrissyfarr) October 26, 2018 The Seattle-based company had previously raised over $36 million from investors including YIS Capital founder Jeffrey Greenstein, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 98point6 said in a statement ...

Forget Watson, the Red Hat acquisition may be the thing that saves IBM

With its latest $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat, IBM may have found something more elementary than “Watson” to save its flagging business. Though the acquisition of Red Hat  is by no means a guaranteed victory for the Armonk, N.Y.-based computing company that has had more downs than ups over the five years, it seems to be a better bet for “Big Blue” than an artificial intelligence program that was always more hype than reality. Indeed, commentators are already noting that this may be a case where IBM finally hangs up the Watson hat and returns to the enterprise software and services business that has always been its core competency (albeit one that has been weighted far more heavily on consulting services — to the detriment of the company’s business). Watson, the business division focus...

Nubank is now worth $4 billion after Tencent’s $180 million investment

Nubank, the Brazilian financial services company, has raised $180 million from the Chinese internet giant, Tencent. Tencent has long been interested in financial services startups, and with its $90 million direct investment and another $90 million investment in the secondary market, the company now has access to what is arguably the largest digital banking company in the world. With the $4 billion valuation, it also makes Nubank one of the most highly valued privately held startups in Latin America. News of the investment was first reported by The Information, which included the $4 billion figure. For Nubank co-founders David Velez and Cristina Junqueira, the investment from Tencent means the addition of a strategic partner whose financial services products and transaction platform is unma...

Google is supercharging its Tez payment service in India ahead of global expansion

Google launched its Tez paymen app in India a year ago, and now the company is giving the service major push into retail as it prepares to expand it to other parts of Asia and beyond. The app itself is being rebranded to Google Pay — bringing it in line with Google’s global payment service, which is available in 20 countries — but there are more tangible updates on their way. Most notably, Google is plotting to turn Tez Google Pay into an all-encompassing payment app for India. The service started out in bank-based payments before adding bill and utility payments and messaging, but now Google is planning an extended push into retail, both online and offline. Economic Times recently reported on the rebrand and expansion. The service already supports payments with some 2,000 apps and website...

MyEtherWallet’s secure login app is now available in beta for iOS

Popular crypto wallet service MyEtherWallet has just launched a limited beta version of its first companion mobile app, which we wrote about earlier this week. If you’re a big MyEtherWallet user or just curious about crypto, you’ll want to get hold of the app. Since it’s in beta, you’ll need to head here and follow the instructions to email the company to request access. A full launch for iOS and Android is expected in August. The MEW Connect app allows users to log into the service without typing their private key, just like hardware solutions such as Ledger or Trezor. That’s important because inputting sensitive information like a private key can lead to an account being compromised in the event of a phishing attack. At least two major incidents have happened this year, so the threat is ...

CowryWise micro-savings service opens high-yield government bonds to everyday Nigerians

In emerging market countries where economic volatility is a way of life, there aren’t a lot of relatively safe options for members of the burgeoning middle class to park their money. For instance, countries like Nigeria have experienced a tremendous growth in the number of citizens entering the middle class, which now accounts for about 23 percent of the population (it’s around 50 percent in the U.S.), according to a recent article citing the African Development Bank. While Nigeria now faces some significant headwinds from a weak domestic currency (the naira), high interest rates and a manufacturing recession, there are ways that local investment can both protect the wealth that’s been created and encourage investment domestically to potentially spur development. At least, that’s the concl...

A new $124 million for Brazil’s Movile proves that investors still see promise in Latin American tech

Brazil’s macroeconomic picture may be gloomy, but technology investors still see hope in the nation’s burgeoning technology sector — and a recent $124 million financing for the mobile conglomerate Movile is the latest proof that that the pace of investment isn’t slowing down. Brazil was already the hottest spot for technology investment throughout Latin America — with Sao Paulo drawing in the majority of the record-breaking $1 billion in financing that the region’s startups attracted in 2017. And with this latest funding for Movile, led by Naspers, that trend looks likely to continue. Indeed, Naspers investments in Movile (supplemented by co-investors like Innova, which participated in the most recent round) have been one of the driving forces sustaining the Brazilian startup community. In...

Ride-hailing firm Grab launches new venture to back startups in Southeast Asia

Grab, the ride-hailing firm that acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia business, is aiming to catalyze the early-stage startup scene in Southeast Asia after it launched an accelerator and investment unit called Grab Ventures. The six-year-old company has already made investments and acquisitions — backing startups like Drive.ai and buying Indonesia’s Kudo and India-based iKaaz — and Grab Ventures will build on that by making 8-10 investments over the coming 24 month period, but it is also offering different kind of support. The firm will offer an accelerator program for “growth-stage” companies and play a hand incubating new services inside Grab, according to Chris Yeo, Head of Grab Ventures. That accelerator effort — called ‘Velocity’ — will launch its first intake before the end of the year wit...

Jirnexu pulls in $11M for its financial comparison service in Southeast Asia

It’s been a busy week for startup funding in Southeast Asia. Following big deals for Carro and Carousell, financial comparison startup Jirnexu is the latest to announce new capital after it closed an $11 million Series B round. The new investment comes courtesy of Japan’s SBI Group — a returning investor which led the round having co-led Carro’s $60 million raise — alongside new backer SIG Asia Investments. The deal takes Jirnexu to $17 million from investors to date. The startup was founded in 2012 and it is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It operates financial comparison services in its native Malaysia (‘RinggitPlus‘) and in Indonesia, under the ‘KreditGoGo‘ brand, that aggregate offerings from banks and financial companies that include Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, and UOB. In sh...

Mobile money-saving app Qapital raises $30 million to spend on growth

Qapital, one of a slew of mobile applications trying to make it easier for users to save money (and spend it more wisely), has raised $30 million in fresh financing as it expands beyond savings to offer investment advisory services. Since its launch in the U.S. in 2015, Qapital has amassed roughly 420,000 users that have saved nearly $500 million on the platform, according to the company. But Qapital is more than just a Digit -style savings tool these days. The company has also folded in Qapital Spending through a linked Visa Debit Card that works with money saved through the app — as well as a budgeting tool called Qapital Weekly Spending Target. The company now has designs on the robo-investment market through Qapital Invest, a new product that Qapital expects to roll out before the end ...

Revolut adds direct debits in Europe

Fintech startup Revolut is slowly making traditional bank accounts irrelevant. The company is adding direct debits in EUR to make it easier to pay for utilities and subscription services. While Revolut is currently applying for a banking license, the company has already been adding everything you need to replace your bank account with a Revolut account. The company started with an e-wallet in multiple currencies combined with a MasterCard . This way, you can upload money to your Revolut account in your local currency and then send and spend money in multiple currencies. But when it comes to spending money, Revolut users have been limited to card payments so far. And yet, many countries ask you to pay your electricity or phone bill using direct debits. Back in July 2017, Revolut gave you a ...

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