News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

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1.UK – FinTech

 

Finextra reports: 

 

“Goldman Sachs Growth Equity has invested £50 million in UK challenger Starling Bank. 

The investment is an extension of the bank’s oversubscribed £272 million Series D funding round announced in March 2021, which valued it in excess of £1.1 billion pre-money. This takes the total raised in the Series D round to £322 million.

Starling now has more than two million current accounts, including 350,000 business accounts. Its deposit base has increased from approximately £1 billion just over a year ago, to now more than £6 billion.

It is on course to report its first full year in profit by the end of its next financial year-end.” 

 

2. UK – FinTech 

 

 

Crowdfundinsider runs a feature interview with the CEO and Founder of UK-based Plutus, a financial services provider that “aims to bridge the gap between traditional fiat currencies and “upcoming” cryptocurrencies. 

“Plutus says it offers the “best of both worlds,” which includes centralized fiat and non-custodial crypto, “under one intuitive banking-like app.” 

To stay true to the “decentralized” culture of crypto, users may attach their personal crypto wallet to the app and interact with it alongside their fiat current account “without ever revealing the private keys,” the Plutus team notes. A “custom-built” decentralized exchange (PlutusDEX) allows users to “swap between the two asset types without having to trust a 3rd party,” the company explains. 

The Plutus app comes with a Plutus Debit Card which users can load with fiat and converted cryptocurrency in order to spend at more than 60 million merchants, “circumventing the need for mass adoption and making crypto payments a reality now!.” With 3% “crypto back built-in,” Plutus claims it’s one of the “most secure” and “rewarding” accounts available. Our conversation with Danial Daychopan is shared below.” 

 

3. UK – FinTech 

 

Finextra reports on today’s CBDC announcement from the Chancellor: 


“Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak announced today the launch of new fintech taskforce to “coordinate exploratory work on a potential central bank digital currency,” led by the UK Treasury and Bank of England and established as part of the UK Government's response to the Kalifa Review. 

Responding to Sunak's announcement, the Bank of England has set up a dedicated CBDC unit overseen by deputy governor Jon Cunliffe, to explore the creation of a digital pound, and set up two stakeholder forums on CBDC engagement and technology. 

Speaking at Innovate Finance Global Summit, Sunak also highlights that the Bank of England has published a new account policy, allowing new and innovative financial market infrastructure propositions. Under the new model, an operator of a payment system can hold funds in the omnibus account to fund their participants’ balances with central bank money. 

Fnality, the private-sector stablecoin initiative supported by 15 major banks, has already announced is intention to apply for an omnibus account. 

John Whelan, MD - digital investment bank & innovation, at Fnality stakeholder Banco Santander, says: "It is exciting to see this development from the Bank of England supporting the opportunity to use tokenised cash assets on next generation payment systems, enabling on-chain wholesale exchange of value." 

Alongside this, the chancellor promises a new financial market infrastructure sandbox for firms “innovating with new technologies like distributed ledger technologies. 

The UK Government also intend on consulting this summer on reforms to capital markets, such as removing double volume cap and share trading obligation, which will ensure that the UK “continues to have the highest possible regulatory standards, whilst improving our competitiveness, supporting economic growth, and making sure the rulebook is fair and proportionate.” 

 

4. UK - FinTech 

AltFi reports: 


“London-based fintech Zilch has closed an $80m Series B funding round, as the buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) sector continues on its meteoric rise. 

The round saw participation from Gauss Ventures, which has invested in previous funding efforts from Zilch and other fintechs including the likes of Curve, and M&F Fund. 

Zilch will use the fresh pot of cash to fund its international expansion plans, touching down in the US in the coming months. 

“This funding is a demonstration of the confidence and strength of Zilch’s mission and products. We will very soon be launching in a number of new countries and continue the testing and rapid rollout of alternate ways for our customers to spend with Zilch,” said CEO and founder, Philip Belamant. 

“Our inspiration is fuelled by Gen Z and millennials, who make up a large part of our customer base. Their demand for convenient and transparent products drives us to keep innovating and improving our offering,” he added. 

Over the past year, the BNPL fintech quadrupled its headcount to 80 and plans to add 100 new roles in both the UK and the US as it preps for its stateside launch. 

In November 2020, Zilch became the first UK BNPL firm to gain consumer credit authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), after it took part in the FCA’s regulatory sandbox programme.” 

 

5. UK – FinTech 


Finextra reports: 


“The buy now, pay later sector continues to attract investor dollars, with two-year old UK player Zilch the latest to benefit, raising $80 million at a valuation of $500 million. 

Zilch opened in beta in 2019, looking to distinguish itself in the crowded BNPL arena by connecting directly with customers and using soft background credit checks performed by Credit Kudos via Open Banking to determine affordability.

Over the last two years, the startup has raised more than $120M and is fast approaching 500,000 customers as well as quadrupled its internal headcount to 80 over 2020.

Working with Monavate, the company has built an over the top platform meaning that it is merchant agnostic, letting customers tap to pay wherever they want.

Zilch is currently rolling out a 'tap and pay-over-time' feature that lets shoppers make in-store payments with a wave of their digital wallet, with the cost spread over a six week period.

The Series B funding round, backed by numerous investors including Gauss Ventures and M&F Fund, will be used to launch in the USA and continue the company’s growth in the UK by investing further in product innovation and development and hiring an additional 100 staff.”