FinTech Digest: iwoca Raises £20 Million; ING Launches Voice-Activated Payments; Visa Europe Searches For Bitcoin Startups

London’s FinTech scene continues to boom as startup iwoca raises £20 Million; ING Netherlands has rolled voice-activated payments within its mobile banking app; Visa Europe wants to nurture Bitcoin startups, and more top stories from this week in FinTech.

London FinTech Startup iwoca Just Got £20 Million From German Investors

Its seems like every week there is a new story about London’s booming FinTech scene. The cash is definitely flowing. And this week, business finance startup iwoca is making headlines, having raised $31.5 million (£20 million) from investors. Business Insider reports:

“London-based iwoca is a part of a crop of super-hot startups looking to reinvent business finance in the UK. Other leading lights include peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle, invoice finance provider MarketInvoice, and small business lender Ebury. iwoca extends credit facilities up to £100,000 (US$150,000) to small businesses. It was founded by 2 ex-investment bankers — Goldman Sachs alum Christoph Rieche, now CEO, and James Dear, iwoca’s CTO who was previously at Deutsche Bank.”

Dutch Bank Launches Sound-Activated Payments Through Its Mobile App

Passwords and PINs are so 2014! ING Netherlands now allows its users to log-in to online banking with their voice. Voice-activated payments for the ING banking app is available for both iOS and Android. DailyMail reports:

“Many of the current security procedures in place by banks are good, but they’re not foolproof – anyone could theoretically access your account if they had your debit card and password. But mimicking someone’s voice is much more difficult, and it’s for that reason many banks are now turning in that direction to provide added security.”

Visa Europe’s Initiative: The ‘Apple App Store’ For Bitcoin Startups

Visa Europe’s Collab, the company’s digital innovation initiative, has begun searching for bitcoin startups within the digital payments scene with the hopes of creating “an Apple App Store” of Bitcoin startups. Steve Perry, chief digital officer and the founder and co-creator of Visa Europe Collab:

“I don’t want to bet on five or so startups that will disrupt the industry […] That is because technology will leapfrog them, consumers will move because they are promiscuous and canny […] What I would rather do is give you the image of an Apple App store – so we are like Apple for payments.”

Visa Europes Initiative: The Apple App Store For Bitcoin Startups

Huawei Teams Up With 11 FinTech Groups For Open Cloud Push

Chinese mobile giant Huawei is implementing a strong focus on financial IT cloud transformation. The company has partnered with 11 FinTech firms to help develop an open cloud platform to boost the financial industry’s digital transformation. From CloudPro:

“The new initiative will allow traditional financial organizations to embrace open source cloud-based solutions for applications including creating an online banking cloud, a credit loan cloud, a direct banking cloud, a micro-and-small-loan service cloud, a core account cloud, a credit card core application cloud, as well as mobile teller and home banking capabilities.”

Goodbye Wall Street, Hello Silicon Valley

There is digital gold rush taking place out west, and its called FinTech! Blackstone finance chief Laurence Tosi becomes the latest Wall Streeter to head to California. The Wall Street Journal reports:

“A technology-fueled gold rush is drawing seasoned financial executives with the promise of sunshine, fresh managerial challenges and compensation that can top even the seven-figure paychecks common in the investment world.”

Stripe Partners With Visa For ‘Digital Payment Improvements’

Digital payments processor Stripe has announced “collaboration” with Visa following a US$5 billion dollar valuation. From CT:

“The move, which will see Stripe work with the credit card giant ways to improve digital transactions, comes as Stripe secures major investment from Visa, American Express and Sequoia Capital. The New York Times reports that while the official figure has not been disclosed, it stands at ‘less than US$100 million.’ A considerable advance nonetheless, the paper notes, given Stripe’s US$70 million investment and US$3.5 billion valuation around six months ago.”

Stripe Partners With Visa For Digital Payment Improvements

UK Is Leading The Way To Becoming A Global Bitcoin Hub

The British Government has not adopted a strong position on the regulation of Bitcoin, yet. And while the U.K. has been the financial hub of Europe for decades, it can do the same thing with Bitcoin and FinTech, if handled favorably. From TechCrunch:

“On the one hand, bitcoin companies should expect anti-money laundering regulation; on the other hand, the Bank of England has issued multiple favorable statements toward the cryptocurrency.”

Is The Banking Industry Living On Borrowed Time?

Will we see the end of banks as we know them in the next 5-10 years? This millennial votes yes! Yes, we will. FinTech startups are disrupting the industry and to survive, traditional banking organizations need to evolve quickly. From The Financial Brand:

“The banking industry may be more at risk than other industries due to their large size, historically high profitability and tendency to move at a snail’s pace. Bankers are also hesitant to explore new business models that could cannibalize or compete with existing ones and find themselves hamstrung by legacy […] legacy technology, legacy processes and, in most cases, legacy thinking.”

BTC-to-Ripple Gateway To Shut Down For All US Customers

Bitcoin to Ripple gateway service confirmed in an email sent out July 30 that it is cutting service for its US customers from September. CT reports:

“While no official explanation for the decision has yet been given, it is notable that Ripple has been engaged in legislative maneuvers over the past year, some of which have run contrary to the perspectives and goals held by the Bitcoin community. Specifically, the centralized nature of Ripple as a business has led to criticism from parties such as Erik Voorhees, who in April voiced concerns about its decision to require verified ID from anyone wishing to use the Ripple network.”

BTC-to-Ripple Gateway To Shut Down For All US Customers

Chinese Lending Marketplace Reaches $1B Valuation

One of China’s top online consumer lending marketplaces, China Rapid Finance, recently closed a US$35 million funding round, led by global private equity firm Broadline Capital, giving it a valuation of US$1 billion. PYMNTS reports:

“Alternative online lending platforms in China have also recently grown in popularity in the country because many Chinese consumers don’t have the benefit of the same standardized credit scoring systems as seen in the U.S. And China Rapid Finance, which dates back to 2001, is taking advantage of that opportunity.”

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