Weekly News Highlights – 14 March 2024

Welcome to the latest in fintech news, where cutting-edge technologies and innovative financial solutions converge to reshape the landscape of banking, investing, and payments. Stay tuned as we explore the trends driving the future of finance!

Mastercard Launches Smart Subscriptions for Open Banking-Powered Subscription Management (Fintech Times)

Mastercard launches Smart Subscriptions, a solution leveraging open banking to manage subscriptions directly within consumer banking apps. It offers spend analysis, categorization, and personalized offers, allowing users to cancel, pause, or resume subscriptions. Based on consumer demand, Mastercard’s survey shows 73% express interest in such a tool, with 60% trusting their bank to provide it. Powered by Mastercard’s open banking arm, Finicity, Smart Subscriptions offers a single API for easy integration across banks, regardless of payment method or network. Raj Seshadri, President of Data & Services at Mastercard, highlights the importance of simplifying subscription management for both banks and consumers to drive loyalty. Currently in testing in the US, Smart Subscriptions aims to provide transparency and savings while enhancing the banking experience, with plans for expansion to other markets later this year. Read more

Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon and others test enterprise blockchain for tokenised assets (The Paypers)

Several major financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon, DRW, Oliver Wyman, and Paxos, have successfully tested Digital Asset’s Canton Network for tokenized assets. The pilot involved 15 asset managers, 13 banks, four custodians, and three exchanges, facilitating various transactions such as fund registry, digital cash, repo, securities lending, and margin management. Over 350 simulated transactions demonstrated the potential benefits of the network, including reducing counterparty and settlement risk, optimizing capital, and enabling intraday margin cycles. Other participants in the pilot included abrdn, BNP Paribas, Cboe Global Markets, DTCC, Visa, and Wellington Management, with Microsoft as a supporting partner and Deloitte as an observer. Additionally, BNY Mellon has partnered with Microsoft to expand its capital markets data and analytics platform, aiming to provide deeper insights and actionable data to optimize investment performance, risk management, and distribution reach. Read more

J.P. Morgan approved to become principal member of Cartes Bancaires (Payments Cards & Mobile)

J.P. Morgan Payments has been approved to become a principal member of France’s prominent payments network, Cartes Bancaires CB, marking the first US bank to achieve this status. This move reflects J.P. Morgan’s dedication to the European payments market and will enable European merchant clients to access the payments system by the end of 2024. Cartes Bancaires CB, with its significant transaction volume and widespread usage in France, offers J.P. Morgan the opportunity to advocate for strategic direction in the market, provide cost-saving solutions for merchants, and enhance local processing for French issued cards. This development underscores J.P. Morgan’s commitment to the European and French payments markets and represents a significant milestone in its ambition to become a leading payments provider in Europe. Read more

Unicorn Fintech Veterans Launch Worth AI, the first AI-Powered Financial Underwriting Platform to Increase Data Transparency and Fuel Economic Equity (Global Fintech Series)

Stax Payments founders, Sal Rehmetullah and Suneera Madhani, have launched Worth AI, a fintech SaaS startup, introducing an AI-powered risk management and underwriting platform aimed at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Leveraging AI, Worth AI’s platform swiftly processes traditional and non-traditional data sources to generate a unified ‘WorthScore™,’ enabling financial service providers to accelerate approvals for business loans and lines of credit while reducing risk and increasing data transparency. Backed by a seasoned leadership team and $12 million in pre-seed funding, Worth AI aims to revolutionize the underwriting process, providing SMBs with equal access to capital and fostering economic growth. Read more

NatWest ditches BNPL (FinExtra)

NatWest has decided to discontinue its buy now, pay later (BNPL) service less than two years after its launch due to lower than expected uptake. The bank cites a focus on core lending products like credit cards, overdrafts, and loans as the reason for closing its BNPL proposition. This move comes despite the increasing popularity of BNPL services, with a significant portion of UK adults, particularly young adults, utilizing them. However, the UK government has postponed the implementation of new regulations for the BNPL sector. Read more

Flush with cash, French fintech unicorn Qonto acquires Regate (TechCrunch)

Paris-based business banking startup Qonto is utilizing its substantial cash reserve to acquire Regate, an accounting and financial automation platform, despite the current VC funding crunch. With over 450,000 companies using its services, Qonto has established itself as a leader in the online business accounts sector, offering various financial tools tailored for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The acquisition of Regate, which has attracted 10,000 clients since 2020, marks Qonto’s strategic move towards building an all-in-one finance solution for SMBs. With a focus on integrating Regate’s platform with its own and leveraging accounting firms as a new sales channel, Qonto aims to strengthen its position in the market and capitalize on its healthy business model and substantial cash reserves amidst the challenging funding environment. Read more

Dutch revenue-based fintech Levenue acquires MidFunder to accelerate growth in the Swiss market (EU-Startups)

Levenue, a leading revenue-based financing company in Europe, has acquired MidFunder, a Zurich-based FinTech specializing in providing financing for companies with recurring revenue. MidFunder’s innovative approach offers fair and non-dilutive capital to business owners, addressing the challenge of securing funding from traditional financial institutions. With a focus on rapid financing, MidFunder assesses companies within 48 hours and typically disburses funds within three days, leveraging unbiased financial evaluation and quantitative data analysis. The acquisition aligns with Levenue’s mission to provide innovative financing solutions and strengthens its presence in the Swiss market, showcasing a commitment to reshaping the landscape of business financing. Read more

France’s Request Finance acquires crypto accounting fintech Consola Finance (Fintech Futures)

French fintech startup Request Finance has acquired Consola Finance, a Vienna-based cryptocurrency accounting platform, in a move aimed at enhancing its services. Request Finance, founded in 2020, facilitates cryptocurrency payments for Web3 companies and freelancers, handling over 2,400 payments per month for more than 2,100 active users, totaling over $669 million since its launch. With the acquisition of Consola Finance, Request Finance aims to integrate cryptocurrency-specific accounting features into its platform, enabling users to import and categorize transactions for seamless integration with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like QuickBooks. According to Christophe Lassuyt, CEO of Request Finance, the company’s “crypto-friendly” platform combines functionalities from, Netsuite, and Expensify, offering a comprehensive solution for users. Christophe Fonteneau, head of strategy at Request Finance, highlights the technology synergy between the two companies, fostering confidence in cryptocurrency transactions for business purposes. Read more

UK FinTech ANNA acquires GetCape with expansion in Australia (IBS Intelligence)

ANNA, an AI-powered FinTech, has acquired GetCape, a Sydney-based FinTech specializing in business spend management. This move aims to establish a new SaaS category to challenge Australia’s ‘big four’ banks, offering expense management and corporate cards tailored for small businesses. With GetCape’s capabilities, ANNA plans to integrate corporate management with AI-powered business account management, targeting industries such as technology, healthcare, professional services, eCommerce, and retail. ANNA’s expansion includes launching a smart business current account and debit card, with future products like invoicing, bookkeeping, tax calculations, and filing. Ryan Edwards-Pritchard, founder of GetCape, will lead as CEO of ANNA Money Australia, leveraging their combined expertise to provide an innovative B2B payments solution. Read more

Artificial Intelligence Act: MEPs adopt landmark law (European Parliament)

The European Parliament has approved the Artificial Intelligence Act, which aims to ensure safety, compliance with fundamental rights, and innovation in AI. It bans certain AI applications that threaten rights, limits law enforcement’s use of biometric identification systems, and imposes obligations on high-risk AI systems. Transparency requirements are set for general-purpose AI, and measures to support innovation, including regulatory sandboxes, are included. The regulation reflects citizens’ proposals and will enter into force gradually over the next few years. Read more

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