Weekly News Highlights – 23 March 2023

Stay up to date with the latest news from fintech! This week, we bring you updates on regulations, legislation, partnerships, and more. Enjoy reading!

Dutch bank ING to restrict oil and gas infrastructure funding (Global Fintech)
ING has unveiled plans to introduce funding restrictions that will target oil and gas infrastructure as it seeks to align with its climate goals. According to ESG Today, the company will introduce new funding restrictions on oil and gas infrastructure and will reduce the volume of traded oil and gas financed in its Trade and Commodity Finance business. ING stated that it is aligning its portfolio with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 Roadmap, and that it is also on track to reduce its upstream oil and gas portfolio by 19% by 2030. The new plans will include restrictions to midstream infrastructure, with ING looking to adopt a net zero by 2050-aligned methodology for areas including pipelines, liquified natural gas terminals and storage facilities. Read more

President Biden vetoes anti-ESG legislation (Global Fintech)
President Biden has issued the first veto of his presidency after the Republican-led House of Representatives voted to overturn ESG considerations in ERISA plans. According to ESG Today, Biden’s veto defended a recently enacted Department of Labor rule that allowed fund managers for ERISA plans to include ESG considerations in the investment process. Following the veto, Biden countered claims that the rule would lead fund managers to sacrifice financial returns to pursue a political agenda. He added that the Republican resolution would prevent retirement plan fiduciaries from taking into account factors such as climate change risks and poor corporate governance that could affect investment returns. Read more

UK signs ‘historic’ digital trade deal with Ukraine (Business Cloud)
The UK has signed a digital trade deal with Ukraine to support the country’s economy. The Department for Business and Trade hosted a number of Ukrainian ministers, as well as 200 UK and international businesses and officials, at Mansion House for an event geared towards enhancing the countries’ trade and investment relationship. Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, alongside Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Yulia Svyrydenko, virtually signed a new digital trade agreement that will help Ukraine support its economy through the current crisis and lay foundations for its recovery and revival. It follows a rapidly agreed deal in December. “The historic digital trade deal signed today paves the way for a new era of modern trade between our two countries,” said Badenoch. “We are also extending tariff free trade on imports from Ukraine to early 2024, providing much needed support to Ukrainian businesses. Read more

UBS to buy Credit Suisse in $3.25bn deal (Global Fintech)
Financial Services major UBS is set to acquire rival bank Credit Suisse in a $3.25bn deal as it hopes to help prevent a banking crash. UBS stated this deal would help “secure financial stability and protect the Swiss economy,” according to a report from CNN. The $3.25bn price tag is around 60% lower than the bank was worth when the markets closed on Friday. The report claims that most of Credit Suisse’s shareholders will largely be wiped out. They will receive around 0.76 Swiss francs for shares – these were worth 1.86 Swiss francs on Friday. Owners of $17bn worth of additional tier one bonds will lose everything, it said. Read more

Central banks of UAE and India partner for cross-border CBDC testing (Fintech Futures)
The central banks of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India have partnered to foster innovation in financial services, including central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Abu Dhabi designed to enhance cooperation between the two institutions. In particular, the pair wish to collaborate on CBDCs to explore their interoperability. The CBUAE and the RBI will conduct joint proof of concept and pilots of bilateral CBDC cross-border transactions, focusing on remittances and trade. Read more

Central banks see future for global instant payments via mobile phones (Fintech Futures)
Central banks in Italy, Malaysia and Singapore have laudeed successful tests of cross-border instant payments via mobile phones. The year-long tests were overseen by the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub in Singapore under the banner Project Nexus. Test payments were initiated using only the mobile phone numbers or the recipients’ company registration numbers via the Eurosystem’s Target Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS), Malaysia’s Real-time Retail Payments Platform (RPP) and Singapore’s Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) payment system. Read more

JPMorgan Chase acquires data analytics company Aumni (The Paypers)
JPMorgan Chase has announced it is acquiring a data analytics provider for startup investors. The platform is called Aumni and is based in the US. The bank is buying the 5-year-old Utah company as part of a broader push to deepen relationships with venture capital investors and their companies. While terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, JPMorgan is paying roughly what the startup was valued for at its last fundraising in 2021. Aumni was worth USD 232 million after that round, according to PitchBook. The service will be integrated with JPMorgan’s private markets platform, Capital Connect, which came out of stealth mode last year. It also complements the bank’s acquisition last year of Global Shares, a software provider for managing employee stock plans. The broader goal is to become the digital destination for VCs, startup founders and other investors to raise money, network and tap loans. Read more

Centi issues a Swiss Franc stablecoin (The Paypers)
Switzerland-based payment startup Centi has announced the launch of a Swiss Franc stablecoin that aims to support the company’s Global Payment Network. With this solution, Centi allows merchants to benefit from direct payment settlement into their banks in their preferred fiat currency without having to change accounting procedures or have any crypto knowledge. In essence, Centi’s clients will receive services similar to those provided by the credit card industry with substantially reduced fees. The Centi Swiss Franc stablecoin is fully backed by a Swiss Bank guarantee and runs on a highly performant blockchain. According to the company press release, this stablecoin can be considered the closest current implementation of a central bank digital currency. By allowing for direct settlement between buyers and sellers, Centi’s stablecoin eliminates the need for intermediaries. As a result, it reimagines the four-party Credit Card model that has been running since the early 1970s. Read more

NATO’s €1B innovation fund to be headquartered in the Netherlands; launch set for July (Silicon Canals)
The Netherlands is home to the headquarters of NATO’s Innovation Fund (NIF). The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) had first detailed plans for a multi-sovereign venture capital fund, called NATO Innovation Fund (NIF), at its 2022 Madrid Summit. In a decision announced on Monday, the alliance confirmed that the headquarters of NIF will be based in the Netherlands. It also confirmed the first three board members of the organisation. With plans to invest €1B on behalf of NATO member countries over the next 15 years, the fund will plug an important gap in Europe’s early-stage funding. Read more

TTV Capital closes its largest ever fund at $250m (Global Fintech)
TTV Capital, an early-stage FinTech venture capital firm, has closed its sixth fund at $250m to invest in early-stage FinTech companies. The fundraise, which originally targeted $150m, is the largest since the firm was founded two decades ago. TTV Capital said the round saw “overwhelming interest” and was oversubscribed by $100m. Fund VI includes both new and existing limited partners comprising institutional and strategic investors, as well as family offices. In 2022 alone, TTV Capital made 18 investments in early-stage FinTech companies across payments, banking, investing, cybersecurity, Web3, and embedded finance, with an average initial check size of $2m to $7m. Read more

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