News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

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1.UK – FinTech 


AltFi reports: 


“Payments-as-a-service provider Modulr Finance has topped up its coffers with cash from FIS Ventures, part of the payments giant that owns WorldPay. 

The size of the strategic investment has not been disclosed, but will surely add to the £63.3m that Modulr has raised to date, including £9m from PayPal Ventures in November and £18.9m in a funding round last May. 

As well as cash, FIS says it plans to use Modulr’s API-based payments infrastructure to facilitate business-to-business payments in the UK and Europe. 

“Working with Modulr, we’ll be able to help our clients in the UK and EEA market accelerate their journey to digital payments, as well as work towards delivering a suite of new global real-time payment propositions,” said Asif Ramji, chief growth officer at FIS. 

Modulr has experienced a period of rapid growth, as well as sealing a wealth of funding over the past 12 months, the business has also helped Revolut launch Confirmation of Payee after becoming the first non-bank provider to offer the service, and scored a European electronic money institution licence.” 


2. UK – FinTech 


Finextra reports on the sudden dominance of apps over more traditional routes to financial services. 

“Finance app downloads spiked by 15% during the pandemic, with mobile fintech applications outperforming banks by a factor of up to 10.8x, according to figures from mobile anlaytics platform App Annie. 

The report found that amid economic uncertainty, demand grew for finance apps across investing, banking, cash transfers and government aid. Finance apps were downloaded 4.6 billion times in 2020, with consumers spending 16.3 billion hours scanning their mobiles to check their finances.

Downloads increased in April globally amid widespread shutdowns, with the most significant surge occurring in December: a clear indication of the pandemic's impact on financial wellbeing.

Notably, users took to fintech apps with gusto, with fintech outperforming even the best banking apps by a factor of up to 10.8x. Investment and trading apps like Robinhood were among the top downloaded finance apps worldwide as many consumers took to day trading in the Covid era.

The report, commissiond by app marketing platform Liftoff, analysed 57 billion ad impressions across 81 million clicks, 12 million app installs, and 20 million first-time events in 188 apps for the full 2020 calendar year.” 



3. International – FinTech 


UK TechNews reports a well-timed fund raise. 


“NFT Investments, an investment company specialising in the non-fungible token (NFT), has raised $48 million (approx £35 million), more than three times initially planned, for its flotation on the Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market (Access segment), valuing the Company at a market capitalisation of £50 million. 

The company initially planned to raise £10 million, however, it has reportedly doubled the target to £20 million. 

As per the company, this move comes in response to strong investor interest. Due to the strong demand, the Company has now completed the placing of 700 million new ordinary shares at 5p each and expects to start trading on the Aquis Stock Exchange on April 16. 

The company is being advised by First Sentinel Corporate Finance and its joint brokers are Novum Securities and Tennyson Securities.  

Established by the co-founders of Argo Blockchain plc, Jonathan Bixby and Mike Edwards, NFT Investments was set up to invest in NFTs directly and in companies or funds that have exposure to NFTs and blockchain technology.  

An NFT is a special, one-of-a-kind crypto asset that enables collectors to authenticate, own and trade original authenticated versions of unique digital goods on the blockchain.  

Jonathan Bixby, Executive Chairman of NFT Investments, said: “It is deeply gratifying to receive strong interest from a wide range of institutional and private investors who share our belief in the vast growth potential for NFTs, just as the cryptocurrency sector has shown so far. We have upsized our offer to broaden and democratise access to this hard-to-reach market.” 



4. US – FinTech 

Crowdfundinsider on the new 800lb gorilla in Cryptoland: 

Coinbase, perhaps the most anticipated public listing of 2021, commenced trading on the Nasdaq today following a direct listing that started with a reference per-share value of $250 and quickly went higher from there. Listed under the ticker symbol COIN, Coinbase traded as high as $429 a share easily giving the company a $100 billion-plus valuation. Coinbase closed at around $328 a share in active trading, substantially higher than the reference price. 

Coinbase started life in 2012 founded by CEO Brian Armstrong, who was later joined by Fred Ehrsam. Initially, Coinbase received $150,000 in funding from Y Combinator – and it has only been up from there. Following Y-Combinator, a list of well-known VCs backed the firm in what is now probably viewed as a pretty smart investment. 

Coinbase has established itself as the largest and best-known digital asset exchange in the US that has always been compliance first. It has navigated a highly fragmented regulatory environment to offer trading services first to retail investors and then to institutional firms. 

In a blog post, Armstrong told followers and investors that Coinbase is only beginning its digital journey. 

“Today Coinbase is listing on Nasdaq. A decade of work and so many people brought us here. This includes every Coinbase employee, focused for years on building a financial system that’s free, fair, and open to everyone. It also includes you, the 56 million people who use Coinbase. And of course, we have to recognize Satoshi Nakamoto, who started it all by introducing Bitcoin to the world in 2008. We’ve had a number of ups and downs on our way here. Through luck and skill, Coinbase succeeded where many predicted it would fail. We weathered the ups and downs through innovation and keeping our eye on the long term. And along the way, we made cryptocurrency easier to use, introducing millions of people to this new technology. I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far. But we certainly didn’t do all this work just for one day.” 



5. International – FinTech 

AltFi reports: 

“As small and medium businesses continue to be hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, alternative lenders remain an invaluable crutch. 

Thanks to a bumper year, Linked Finance has surpassed €150m dished out to more than 2,700 SMEs. 

The Irish peer-to-peer lender flew past the milestone after issuing €9.6m in loans in the first quarter of 2021, a four per cent increase on the year before.  

“Reaching the milestone of €150m shows the continuing migration there is by SMEs to the fast and efficient approach that alternative fintech lenders like Linked Finance can offer,” Niall O’Grady, CEO of Linked Finance, said. 

“It is a reassuring sign of the drive and ambition of Irish SMEs to see them investing in their operations with the aim of rapidly recovering as the country starts to emerge from the pandemic.” 

At the start of the year, Linked Finance became the first non-bank lender to offer loans through the Irish Government-back loan scheme, the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS). 

Linked Finance has already supplied €7m worth of loans to Irish SMEs through the government-backed programme. 

Like its British counterparts, the Bounce Back Loans (BBLS) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the CCGS is designed to provide SMEs with low-cost working capital.”