FinTech Digest: Alibaba Enters Into Online Lending, Credit Karma Has $3.5B Valuation, Mobile-Only Banking Application Receives License

Alibaba and Chinese banks do battle over online lending, Credit Karma secures new funding to expand its service as it looks to become the default for consumers’ complete financial identity, and more news

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FinTech Digest: Alibaba Enters Into Online Lending, Credit Karma Has $3.5B Valuation, Mobile-Only Banking Application Receives License

Alibaba and Chinese banks do battle over online lending and e-commerce, Credit Karma secures new funding to expand its service as it looks to become the default for consumers’ complete financial identity, and more top stories from this week in FinTech.

Gloves Off in China as Banks, Alibaba Invade Each Other's Turf

Alibaba with the launch of its online lending service, MYbank, is set to tap into Chinese savers' record $7.8 trillion of deposits. Needless to say, Chinese banks are not happy about this. Some of the biggest banks in China are striking back against Alibaba by attacking the company on its own turf, e-commerce. Business Times reports:

“‘China's banks have woken up and realised that the challenge from Alibaba's entry into banking is for real,’ said David He, a Hong Kong-based partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group Inc. ‘For them, doing e-commerce is a defense as well as a counterattack.’”

Credit Karma Raises $175 Million at $3.5 Billion Valuation

Credit monitoring website CreditKarma.com has raised a $175 million Series D funding round to help expand its offering and develop new tools to help consumers get the best rates on home and student loans. Forbes reports:

“Credit Karma is best known for helping its 40 million-plus members keep tabs on their credit by giving out scores for free. The platform breaks down the components that make up your score — credit utilization, on-time payments, derogatory marks, length of credit history, number of accounts and hard inquiries — to tell you how you’re doing on each. With the funding the San Francisco based company is showing it has even broader ambitions to be the home base for consumers’ complete financial identity.”

UK’s First Licensed App-Only Bank Still Reliant on Tradition

Mobile-first banking application, Atom Bank has been granted a banking licence to operate in the UK. What makes Atom Bank unique is that it will be strictly a mobile app, and will not operate any bank branches or even a website initially. CT reports:

“Atom Bank, a disruptive startup based in Durham, UK, is looking to provide banking services solely via its smartphone app, currently in the construction phase. The project represents the second foray into challenging the traditional banking model for co-founder Anthony Thompson, who also co-founded Metro Bank in the UK.”

UK’s First Licensed App-Only Bank Still Reliant on Tradition

Leading Silicon Valley VC Firm Sets Its Sights on Bitcoin

Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, known for its investments in Amazon, Google, Uber, AOL and Twitter has now created the Edge Seed Fund with a focus on helping early stage Bitcoin and blockchain-based companies. From Bitcoin Magazine:

“The Edge fund, led by Kleiner Perkins partners Mike Abbott and Anjney Midha, plans to offer investments of $250,000 to support selected startups in developing and programming platforms, products and services. The $4 million fund will be operated by former Google product manager Ruby Lee, and the founder of bitcoin and dogecoin transaction service Backlash, Roneil Rumberg.”

Wells Fargo to Usher in Voice and Facial Biometrics for Mobile Corporate Access

Wells Fargo is set to test voice and face biometrics to authenticate mobile users of its Commercial Electronics Office (CEO) portal. These new biometric features are slated for launch in 2016 for CEO Mobile iPhone app users. From Finextra:

“The bank says that identifying a combination of customers’ faces, voices, and mobile devices will make it extremely difficult for bad actors to spoof the true user. ‘Biometric technology is emerging and accelerating change in financial services,’ says Danny Peltz, executive vice president and head of treasury management at Wells Fargo. ‘We continue to explore and test new safeguards for our business customers.’”

US Investments in FinTech to Lead Globally in 2015, Following Triple Increase in 2014

A new report states that U.S. banks and corporations have outpaced every other country in global investments in FinTech over the past few years. Investments in the country have nearly tripled, supporting startups through the launch of competitions, accelerators and incubators, helping new businesses to seek potential partners and investments. From CT:

“According to the report released by Accenture and entitled ‘The Future of Fintech and Banking,’ global investments in FinTech tripled to US$12.21 billion in 2014, as investments in financial technologies like Bitcoin and online lending platforms grew by more than double at 200%.”

US Investments in FinTech to Lead Globally in 2015, Following Triple Increase in 2014

Givesurance Will Turn Your Insurance Payments Into Charitable Donations

Givesurance, the startup that helps its users donate a portion of their insurance premiums to charity, has officially launched from beta. TechCrunch reports:

“Users provide Givesurance with the name of their insurance company, policy number, state, and expiration date. Givesurance then returns up to 5 percent of all monthly insurance payments in the form of a donation credit, which users can donate to the charity of their choice.”

PayRange Helps Vending Machines Go Digital

PayRange, the company that enables vending machines to accept many different forms of payment beyond coins and cash, has received $12 million in Series A funding, led by Matrix Partners. From PYMNTS:

“PayRange allows any vending machine to accept all forms of payment through a small device that plugs into the back of the machine, accompanied by a customer-side mobile app. Upon launching the app, customers are able to select their payment method and choose a machine located nearby. Payment information is managed by a secure PCI compliant processor, and no personal information is shared with the vending machine, the company explained.”

Nasdaq Picks Chain For Its Blockchain ‘Private Market’

Nasdaq has named blockchain API developer Chain as the first company that will be trialing a blockchain-backed version of the group's Private Market for trading pre-IPO company's shares. CT reports:

“The problem the companies are trying to solve is the difficult bookkeeping and paperwork currently associated with issuing shares in a private company. The paper records used are frequently outdated, as startups make changes to staff and pivot their businesses faster than what the traditional capitalization recording methods can keep up with.”

Nasdaq Picks Chain For Its Blockchain ‘Private Market’

UK Payments Business Currency Cloud Raises $18M For US Push

International payments company, Currency Cloud, has raised $18 million in a third round of financing to expand into the U.S. and disrupt the way companies move money around the world. The startup’s latest fundraising doubles the amount raised previously. Reuters reports:

“The company said the extra funds will drive expansion in the United States, [...] meeting the cost of extra technology and state-by-state reporting and compliance requirements that come with that. It expects to have a dozen staff working in New York by the end of the year from five now and about 100 people in London, up from about 70 currently.”

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