Jun 18 2019
by Karen Padley

Fintech Horizons Focus


Facebook officially unveiled its new Libra coin, touting it as a way to serve the 1.7bn unbanked globally. Details were in line with information that had leaked out in recent weeks. The coin has been criticized as being neither a blockchain or cryptocurrency given its structure and controls. It also has prompted speculation about whether it will replace bitcoin or boost bitcoin adoption. The Libra is still at the prototype stage and won’t be rolled out until 2020.

Ripple agreed to invest up to $50m in MoneyGram, one of the first investments by a crypto-based company in a major US publicly listed firm. The two companies began working together in 2018 when MoneyGram agreed to run a pilot program testing Ripple’s XRP as a way to manage its settlement operations.

Monzo and Emma are expanding to this side of the pond. London-based Monzo, a digital-only bank, plans to initially offer a “few thousand” debit cards at launch events in Los Angeles. Emma, a London-based money management app, is expanding to the U.S. and Canada.

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, is setting up a separate, fully regulated fiat-to-crypto platform for US customers. No firm launch date was given. It also announced plans to restrict services to US-based traders after September 12 if they are not in compliance with the site’s terms.

Bitfinex has started buying back and “burning” its Leo tokens. About $1bn of the tokens were sold early last month after the New York attorney general accused the company of hiding an $850m shortfall.

Capital Raises

PayFit is raising $79m in a private equity round involving Eurazeo and Bpifrance. The company, which started out as a payroll service for small and medium French companies, is expanding throughout Europe.

Sure, the developer a mobile, on-demand insurance app powered by AI, raised $12.5m in a Series B round was led by W. R. Berkley.

Insurtech Hi Marley raised $8.7m for its AI-driven platform in a Series A led by True Ventures. Other recent raises include Ampleforth$5mBitrefill$2mUplandme$2m; and Cleo.

Personnel moves

Ed BowlesStandard Chartered Bank’s head of public affairs, reportedly has been hired by Facebook to help with its cryptocurrency plans. He will join the company in September as its London-based director of public policy.

BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen has taken over as CEO of his current company, Chia Network, according to CoinDesk. Co-founder Ryan Singer has stepped away from the company to focus on family priorities, according to the report.

Loot founder Ollie Purdue has joined , the digital bank being developed by RBS-owned Natwest, as chief product officer, TechCrunch reported. He is expected to be joined by 17 other ex-Loot members now that the app has run out of money.

Our Stories

Solidus Labs, a startup that uses machine learning to analyze public data on cryptocurrencies to uncover market manipulation, is likely to raise a Series A round next year, CEO and co-founder Asaf Meir told this news service.

Cover, an insurtech offering an app that lets users submit pictures and videos of the items they want covered, is considering raising its Series C financing within about the next 6 months, CEO and co-founder Karn Saroya told this news service.

Body Composition Technologies, which provides technology for scanning the human body through a smartphone camera, is looking to raise more capital, CEO Vlado Bosanac and Director Barry Dick told this news service in a joint interview.

Habito, a London-based online mortgage search and comparison site, is finalizing a growth round of equity capital, CEO Daniel Hegarty told this news service.

Savvi Insurance, a managing general agency launching a home insurance product accompanied by a smart home security system, is now seeking about $5m of outside capital, CEO Mark Coons told this news service. 

Rapyd, which developed an API that lets online merchants accept local and alternative payments, has seen a sharp rise in investor inquiries in the last 100 days and is thinking about raising a “much larger round” than February’s $40m Series B, CEO and co-founder Arik Shtilman told this news service.

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One last thing…

Antivirus pioneer and crypto enthusiast John McAfee recently launched a new trading platform called “Magic” that allows users to “trade cryptocurrencies on multiple exchanges within a single dashboard.” The site, though, has reportedly experienced repeated denial-of-service attacks preventing users from logging in.

That seems to be typical for McAfee, whose escapades could easily fill an issue of the National Enquirer. For a summary of his recent over-the-top life, check out this summary in the UK’s Daily Mail.

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