#WealthTech / Fractional share trading platform Wombat raises £2 million

Founded in 2019, Wombat currently claims 62,000 users for its mobile-based trading platform, offering access to 31 popular stocks and 22 theme-based curated funds. Shares on offer include well known brands such as Apple, Tesla, Games Workshop, Ocado and Netflix.

[Founder:]”A majority of people in the UK and Europe aren’t doing enough to save for their future. With banks providing all-time low interest rates, we have seen appetite for investing grow, many feel overwhelmed with the perceived complexity of handling shares. Our goal is to make investing in the stock market relatable and less scary. With a low starting point of £10, anyone can try it out.”


#SustainbleFinance #FinancialInclusion / Varo Launches New Brand: “A Bank for All of Us”

As the first and only digital bank with a national charter, Varo is kicking off its powerful ‘A bank for all of us’ brand relaunch with a full-stack integrated national media investment

Varo’s new brand campaign is anchored in the company’s purpose and ambition: financial opportunity and inclusion for all. The launch phase of the “A bank for all of us” campaign reimagines money and puts modern American consumers at the very core. The campaign highlights the diversity inherent in our communities and features a range of American faces…

[Varo:] “Varo believes that when people have a healthier relationship with their money, it leads to a healthier relationship with themselves, and with all those closest to them… The Varo experience starts with inclusion – and our new campaign seeks to showcase people and communities that are often underrepresented in financial services.”


#CryptoCurrency / Gemini launches crypto-based savings product offering up to 7.4% yield

The cryptocurrency exchange Gemini… launched a savings product, dubbed Earn, that lets customers move their holdings in Bitcoin, or any of the 26 cryptocurrencies Gemini supports, into accounts yielding interest as high as 7.4%.

Gemini said it can afford to pay relatively high rates… because it lends the cryptocurrency deposits to institutional borrowers through a partner, Genesis Global Capital, at a higher interest rate.

Gemini touts Earn as the first account of its kind available in all 50 states. Crypto lender BlockFi offers an account with up to 8.6% annual percentage yield (APY) on deposits, but it is not available in New York. Gemini, by contrast, is regulated by New York’s Department of Financial Services. Earn will not, however, be available to clients outside the U.S.

[Gemini] … expects later this month to allow clients of competing exchanges to transfer their assets into Earn accounts. Account holders can withdraw their crypto assets at any time without penalties or fees.

… Gemini’s chief operating officer, said the product should be seen as more of an investment than a savings account. “It lets investors put their passive crypto assets to work and earn a return at competitive rates.”


#CX / How banks can tailor retail advice to their customers

[Extracts from the article] … There is a tendency to believe retail financial planning advice must be feature-rich to be meaningful and achieve scale. In reality, the banks that are leaders on retail advice become successful before they finish rolling out all the features… Instead, they take a sequential and organized approach to rolling out their offer.

Most tier 1 banks already have a good range of table stakes features, like financial literacy articles, product selection tools, and expense management apps. However, leading banks that offer personal financial planning advice are more likely to prioritize the delivery of enabling features over the creation of innovative features…

Segmentation by behavior
Banks with successful retail advice strategies achieve great adoption rates when segmenting the market by behavior. … Segmentation by behavior has helped banks focus on those clients willing to receive financial advice using a hybrid model of self-serve and assisted advisory.

Journeys are not linear
Initially, banks thought they would manage and control the way retail clients consumed advice but soon realized that the needs, behaviors, and financial literacy across clients are highly diverse. A retail client’s journey is not a linear one; it is complex and unpredictable… The main takeaway from leader banks is to be prepared for all types of client journeys. One way to achieve this is through an advice center that resembles a restaurant menu − presenting a selection of recommended offerings. Clients can select what suits them best or even tailor a solution from scratch.

Technical building blocks
Retail advice does not require complex architecture. You can unlock most of the retail advice value through a cohesive front-end, robust data integration, emphasizing extracting relevant data from different advice apps or features into a centralized repository. This information will help improve the financial planning advice tools currently available and provide information for future long-term planning platforms…


#LenTech / Tech Platform CURO Set to Acquire Canadian Point-of-Sale Prover Flexiti For $121 Million

… the acquisition of Flexiti further diversifies CURO’s revenue mix by product and geography and accesses the full spectrum of Canadian consumers by adding an established omnichannel private label credit card platform and POS financing capabilities.

“Flexiti primarily serves prime consumers and the combination presents significant revenue and earnings growth opportunities by using CURO’s expertise to expand Flexiti’s non-prime product offerings. The transaction also provides the opportunity to leverage CURO’s loan servicing experience to improve Flexiti’s profit margins.”

CURO also noted the combination of it and Flexiti brings together two complementary businesses with like-minded management teams to serve prime and non-prime Canadian consumers directly or at the POS. In connection with the transaction, Flexiti refinanced and expanded its nonrecourse asset-backed warehouse financing facility from $296 million to $390 million. Don Gayhardt, President and CEO of CURO, spoke about the acquisition by stating:


#CryptoCurrency / Swiss bank Seba issues Series B equity as security tokens

The move comes after Switzerland adopted a new distributed ledger technology law that recognises tokenised securities as an asset class that can have their legal ownership rights transferred via a blockchain.

Finma-licenced Seba Bank had already indicated that it would tokenise its shares of the Series B fundraising when the law came into force. The equity tokens are fully secured by the DLT Law, and shall be issued and held within Seba’s banking-grade digital custody in a Finma-regulated environment.

The tokens are based on ERC20 Ethereum protocol and are “engineered to allow seamless connectivity for trading and liquidity on future internationally recognised digital liquidity venues,” says the bank.

[Seba:] “With the DLT law coming into force today, Switzerland reaffirms itself as one of the most progressive and innovative legal and regulatory jurisdictions around the world that now fully supports the issuance of digital securities on a native blockchain basis.”


#PayTech / Barclays rolls out digital receipts

Customers who pay using their Barclays debit card for in store purchases at H&M, shoe retailer schuh and food outlets, which include Just Eat and Papa Johns, will see their receipts sent automatically to their app after making a purchase. Recipts can be called up and viewed by ttapping on the transaction.

Founded in 2016, Flux was accepted on Barclays London-based fintech accelerator programme, Rise, and graduated in 2017 after proving the product’s viability for both retailers and consumers.

Barcays took a mintory stake in the firm in January last year.

The relationship with Barclays is expected to unlock fresh growth potential for Flux, providing access to the UK bank’s considerable merchant customer base and enrolling more retailers onto the platform..


#BankTech #WealthTech / Mobile bank MoneyLion in talks to go public via SPAC

MoneyLion, a mobile banking, lending and investment platform, is in talks to go public through a merger with Fusion Acquisition, a blank-check company, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

New York-based MoneyLion, led by founder and Chief Executive Diwakar “Dee” Choubey, has more than 6 million members. Its features include RoarMoney, which gives users the ability to access paychecks two days early and free withdrawals from 55,000 ATMs…

MoneyLion last year added exchange-traded funds to its offerings, with members able to invest in themes such as environmental, social and corporate governance, or ESG, and technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomous cars.


#WealthTech / Nigerian wealthtech Cowrywise raises $3m

The digital wealth management and financial planning solutions platform aims to digitise investment management for Africans and enable access to savings and investment products securely.

Cowrywise was co-founded by Ahmed Razaq CEO and Edward Popoola chief technology officer (CTO). The pair came up with the idea to found the fintech in 2017, after noticing that existing investment management firms only focused on catering to the top 1%, leaving millions of Nigerians neglected.

Together, they aimed to democratise Nigerians’ access to savings and investment products to both the growing middle class and millennial populations.

“Wealth management had been strange to many Nigerians because the existing players were not built for the mass market,” Ahmed tells TechCrunch. “That has always been a problem we felt required a solution.”

For this reason, both founders dedicated the company’s mission to leveraging the telecom industry’s reach in order to extend its investment products to its large consumer base.