B2B FinTech fundings

This week was predominated by the funding announcement of three FinTech companies: Iwoca (150m GBP debt and equity), GoCardless (75m USD equity) and Mambu (30m EUR equity). What makes these three announcements a bit special is – beside the fact that all of them announced them on the same day – that all providers are offering B2B solutions. Iwoca and GoCardless addressing the needs of SMEs in their respective markets and Mambu offering services to banks, financial institutions and similar providers.

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Report: Open Banking around the world

Nearly a year ago I had written a blog post about the development of open banking around the world. The blog post was focused on the development in Asia and Oceania, mostly driven by the development in Australia.

This week I have read the Open Banking report by PwC (The future of banking is open How to seize the Open Banking opportunity) highlighting the development around Open Banking. Of course with a strong focus on the development in Europe and mostly UK, however, the report also covered briefly the development in other countries.

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Learnings from Unified Payments Interface in India

Nearly one year ago I have written about the beta launch of WhatsApp payments in India (Blog post). The service allows any payments-activated user of WhatsApp in India to send money to other WhatsApp users. However, the service is not yet available nationwide, due to regulatory problems. The Indian regulator requires WhatsApp to process the payment data purely on Indian servers but it is currently being processed on Facebook servers in the US. WhatsApp is in discussion with the regulators to find a solution. Most likely WhatsApp will comply with the request from Indian authorities and might also set up a payments team in India (another request from the regulator). It would probably be a worthwhile move since WhatsApp has more than 200 million monthly active users in India making it’s the biggest market for WhatsApp. Apparently there are already one million WhatsApp user activated for the payment feature (Source). Payment services are on a rise in India and due to the success of other providers definitely not an opportunity WhatsApp wants to miss out.

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Commerzbank revealed its API Hub

This week another German bank has revealed their Developer Centre or API Hub in this case. This time it was Commerzbank.

As we are approaching the deadline in most European countries to release test APIs in March and the release of production APIs in September this year, we will probably see more and more of these Developer Centres being revealed. Generally, this is a good sign as it is an indicator that banks see PSD2 as a chance to provide a little more to developers than just access to accounts. Since Commerzbank is not really known to be a leader in API banking so far, it is pretty good to see the launch of their portal, nevertheless, so far the portal is nothing more than a landing page which is indicating certain APIs and the chance to register.

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My books in 2018

The year 2018 is coming to an end and it’s time for me to pick up my weekly blogging again. My last blog post is actually from May and a busy summer season gave me enough excuses to not start again. And once the habit is broken it’s easy to ignore it for a longer time. But now with the new year ahead and thinking about some new year resolutions, it’s a good moment to start this again.

Even though I have not been blogging in the second half of 2018 I have increased my reading time. Usually I am aiming to read one book per month which results o twelve books per year. In 2018 I have read in total twenty books and most of them in the second half of the year. Even though twenty is a lot more than twelve, there’s still plenty of room to increase this. Thus, my reading goal for 2019 is more like 40-50 books – and definitely plus weekly blogging as well!

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How to benefit of Open Banking?

I speak with early stage FinTech founders and project owners on a daily basis. FinTech wasn’t  sexy when I started at figo in 2014 but is surily now for many people. The movement of digital transformation has arrived with a slight delay in the banking industry. This has many reasons, and personally, I believe PSD2 is one of the crucial ones. PSD2 and Open Banking in general is providing a complete new level playing field that attracts many industry outsiders. This is beneficial and supportive for FinTech, as banking has been an industry where most of the people have a long track record inside the industry.  This is not negative in general, but it surely limits innovative efforts overall.

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Happy Easter

This week I haven’t found the time to write a proper fintech focused blog post. Easter is usually a good time to refocus and recharge. And that’s exactly what I’m doing these days. Mostly while enjoying the good weather in Berlin and finish reading “Principles” by Ray Dalio. Even though I haven’t finished the book yet, I can already highly recommend it.

I hope you’re enjoying your Easter days too and making the most out of it.

Good times to be in FinTech

In the early days of FinTech, I remember quite a few people talking negatively about the potential impact of FinTech. The reasons were plentiful: missing investors, incumbents not interested to collaborate, high entry barriers, no mass market interest… Just to name the most popular ones. In their eyes, FinTech was just a hype and will disappear in the near future. Quite de-motivational opinions for anybody who was considering to switch from traditional banking to a FinTech player.

Hopefully these people still did the switch, as none of this turned out to be true. Just going through the biggest news in this still very young year, you will see plenty of indices to disapprove the statements from above:

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We come in piece(s)

It was just a funny autocorrect but somehow so fitting. I tweeted about an article describing Google’s efforts to collaborate with banks in regards of PSD2 and that Google intends not to compete with banks. In that tweet I raised the questions if banks knew what they are about to get into.

Tomi replied to this with this tweet:

Actually, he wanted to write “we come in peace” indicating that Google wants to work with banks together in a peaceful way. The quotation marks leave already some room for interpretation that this might just be a deception maneuver of Google. The autocorrect which changed the tweet  into “we come in piece” made an even stronger emphasis on the potential real intention of Google: entering banking slowly and easily, and potentially grow these efforts into a bigger offering if/when banking turns out to be a promising field. And thus, definitely become competitors to banks in some ways (most likely in frontend / data analysis).

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