Another week, another Bitcoin all-time high, this time at approximately $64,829 (depending on who you believe – this number is from the guys at Coindesk), but there’s other interesting stuff happening last week, too. Here is another edition of the FinTechnologist Weekly:
Hope, Cooperation and Crackdowns
Light at the End of the Tunnel
The UK’s FinTech may have turned a corner in terms of investment activity. Following a challenging year due to the Covid pandemic, more than 100 FinTech deals have been recorded at a value of just over £2 billion (or $2.9bn), which is a 330% increase compared to the same quarter last year, which, of course, marked the start of the current crisis, and 153% increase compared to the previous quarter, so there seems to be light at the end of that tunnel. Big deals include Checkout.com at $450m or Starling Bank at $376m and Revolut might be on course for a valuation that could exceed $10bn with another round lined up some time later this year. Only last year it had raised $500m for a valuation of $5.5bn after attracting 15 million retail customers since it launched in 2015.
Collaboration and Innovation
I’m a big fan of collaboration, always been, and keep telling startups and regulators that it is better to talk and work with each other than picking up the pieces when it all ends in tears. So it was good to read about a PWC initiative that brings together ten FinTech firms to collaborate and innovate together – with the help of PwC. Called Tysl, it is according to the company, “a digital banking platform, designed and developed to solve the latest business, customer experience and technology challenges facing Retail, Commercial Banks and Building Societies.“ Showcasing a connected banking system based on the ecosystem of these ten FinTech firms, it sounds a little bit like a regulatory sandbox (without the regulatory), but if it helps to enhance the customer experience, I’m all for it.
The Might of the Regulator
Talking about regulation (kind of), the biggest news has been the order for Ant Group to restructure its business. Chinese regulators found improper connections between the company’s payment platform and its financial products. In straight terms not to use data obtained in one business for another, but it could all be part of a wider plan of Chinese authorities that want to rein in the country’s fast-growing Internet giants. In fact, it follows on the heels of the massive fine against Alibaba, which owns a 33% stake in Ant and which was ordered to pay a $2.78 billion only a few days earlier.
Things went south for Ant Group when its IPO was called off at the end of last year by the government and this fine explains further what was going on behind the scenes. Ant is now to transform itself into a financial holding companyeffectively be supervised more like a bank, a move with far-reaching implications for its growth and ability to press ahead with the IPO.
That’s all for this week but ff you have an interesting story or would join me on the podcast, connect on Twitter.
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