Upgrade launches checking accounts and debit cards

Fintech startup Upgrade has been positioning itself as a neobank. And yet, the company has mostly been focused on personal loans and more recently credit cards. You couldn’t just replace your bank account with Upgrade. Upgrade is adding two important missing pieces of the puzzle with checking accounts and debit cards.

With today’s launch, Upgrade competes more directly with other challenger banks, such as Chime, N26 and others. You can open a checking account, control it from a mobile app, send and receive money from that account.

There are no monthly fees and no minimum account balance. Under the hood, Cross River Bank provides FDIC-insured checking accounts.

You also get a debit card with your checking account. When it comes to ATM withdrawals, Upgrade will reimburse ATM fees for its most loyal customers up to five times a month. You need to maintain a minimum balance or set up direct payroll deposit for that feature.

Debit card payments on subscriptions and common everyday expenses let you earn 2% cash back. Eligible purchases include convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, food deliveries, etc. Your earn 1% on other debit charges.

Rewards on debit card transactions are somewhat uncommon. Most financial companies focus on credit card rewards as the interchange fees on credit card transactions are much higher. Debit cards don’t generate as much interchange revenue.

“Neobanks in particular cannot pay high rewards (or any rewards at all) on debit cards because the interchange fee is often their only source of revenue,” Upgrade CEO Renaud Laplanche told me in an email.

And interchange fees can add up if you manage to attract millions of customers. According to The Information, Chime generated more than $ 600 million in revenue last year thanks to interchange fees.

The company still plans to generate the vast majority of its revenue from credit products. “Our strategy is to monetize our base through credit,” Laplanche said.

Upgrade also offers a credit card with 1.5% cash back on all purchases. If, for one reason or another, you can’t pay your monthly balance payment, the company helps you combine monthly charges into installment plans that you can pay back over 24 to 60 months. You pay down your balance at a fixed rate with equal monthly payments. Upgrade customers who use the company’s checking account will get lower rates on Upgrade loans.

You can also get a personal loan from Upgrade without a credit card or a checking account. And maybe you’ll end up discovering Upgrade’s other products after signing up to a personal loan.

Image Credits: Upgrade

Startups – TechCrunch

Group Tasks Buhari On Tompolo’s Property, Accounts – :::…The Tide News Online:::… – The Tide

Group Tasks Buhari On Tompolo’s Property, Accounts – :::…The Tide News Online:::…  The Tide
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

[Cyabra in The Guardian] Chinese official’s ‘repugnant’ tweet of Australia soldier likely amplified by fake accounts, experts say

Australian experts and Israeli cybersecurity firm allege ‘unusual behaviour’ by Twitter accounts retweeting or liking Zhao Lijian’s tweet.

Read more here.

The post [Cyabra in The Guardian] Chinese official’s ‘repugnant’ tweet of Australia soldier likely amplified by fake accounts, experts say appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

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VC investment in Europe reaches record-breaking €10.2B in Q3’20; UK accounts for the largest share


The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many businesses off their anticipated tracks. Despite an environment of uncertainty and political-economic tensions, global VC investment rose for the second straight quarter – reaching $ 73.2B (approx €62B) in Q3’20, according to the Q3’20 edition of Venture Pulse – a quarterly report published by KPMG Private Enterprise on global VC trends.

VC investment in Europe reached new record

VC investment in Europe reached a new record high of $ 12.1B (approx €10.2B) across 1,024 deals in Q3’20, led by a $ 650M (approx €550M) raise by Sweden-based Klarna, a $ 633M (approx €535M)  raise by Germany-based CureVac, a $ 600M (approx €508M) raise by Northvolt in Sweden, and a $ 580M (approx €537M) raise by Revolut in the UK.

The Nordic region (€1.8B), Germany (€1.7B), and Israel (€1.3B) all saw record levels of VC investment this quarter. Despite a quarter-over-quarter decline from $ 3.8B (approx €3.2B) in Q2’20 to $ 3B (approx €2.5B) in Q3’20, the UK continued to account for the largest share of VC investment in Europe.

Investment up in Q3

As per the report, Americas attracted $ 40B (approx €34B)  in investment, with the US accounting for the vast majority ($ 37.8B). VC investment in the Asia-Pacific region continued to rebound, with the region attracting $ 21.1B (approx €18B) in Q3’20 – up from $ 17.2B (approx €14.5B) in Q2’20. 

Exit activity surged to almost €221B

VC-backed exit activity in 2020 has surged to almost $ 250B (approx €221B), with Q3’20 alone driving $ 155.7B (approx €132B)  close to the previous record set during Q2’19 (€144B), driven by successful IPOs, including Snowflake, JFrog, and Unity Software.

“After several quiet quarters, the IPO market for VC-backed companies rocketed into high gear in Q3’20, with a number of high-profile unicorns making successful exits,” says Conor Moore, Co-Leader, KPMG Private Enterprise Emerging Giants Network KPMG International . “Given the recent filings by several other unicorns, coupled with the explosion of SPAC transactions, Q4’20 looks on-track to continue the record-setting pace.”

Expected to remain steady in Q4

VC investment in pharma and biotech remained very hot in Q3’20, led by a $ 600M (approx €508B) raise by Germany-based CureVac; at the end of the quarter, total year-to-date investment in the sector was $ 31 billion – already well above the total of $ 27.1B (approx €23B)seen during all of 2019.

VC investment is expected to remain quite steady heading into Q4’20. Late stage deals are expected to remain a top priority for VC investors, which will likely continue to make it difficult for early stage companies to attract investment. On a sector basis, fintech, business productivity, edtech, healthtech and biotech are all expected to remain very attractive.

“While overall VC investment has remained surprisingly resilient given the number of diverse challenges being faced around the globe, the extended decline in funding for early stage companies causes some concern,” says Kevin Smith, Co-Leader, KPMG Private Enterprise Emerging Giants Network, KPMG International. 

“With many seed and early stage companies finding it difficult to attract funding, there could be a serious longer-term impact on the VC pipeline, slowing advances and innovation into new ideas and areas of the economy,” he adds.

Main image credits: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Startups – Silicon Canals

Japan Accounts for 22% Mobile Game Revenue Share Globally from Q1 to Q3 2020 – Investors King Ltd

Japan Accounts for 22% Mobile Game Revenue Share Globally from Q1 to Q3 2020  Investors King Ltd
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Tipalti receives $150M at a $2B+ valuation after its accounts payable platform sees a surge in use

Digital transformation has been one of the big enterprise themes of 2020: organizations are doubling down on cloud services both to link up suddenly remote teams and centralize apps, documents and data in a more efficient way. Today, one of the startups that has filled out that story with a cloud-based suite of accounting services is announcing a major round of funding on the back of massive growth.

Tipalti, an Israeli company that helps businesses manage suppliers, invoices, purchase orders, tax compliance, payments and billing and other accounting services from a single cloud platform, has raised $ 150 million at a valuation that the company says is now over $ 2 billion.

The plan is to use the funding to continue enhancing Tipalti’s accounts payable suite with more tools; hire across all departments; and for business development. Tipalti’s aim, according to founder and CEO Chen Amit, is to provide easy to integrate accounts payable services to a base of fast-scaling businesses, which need AP services to function well, but would never consider them core functions of their businesses in themselves.

“Accounts payable is the last area that companies in the mid market would want to invest in,” said founder and CEO Chen Amit. “They will invest in literally anything else other than building software to pay or manage suppliers.”

The round, a Series E, is being led by Durable Capital Partners (the firm founded last year by Henry Ellenbogen, previously a star at T. Rowe Price), with participation also from Greenoaks Capital and existing investor 01 Advisors, the firm co-founded by Twitter alums Dick Costolo and Adam Bain.

Tipalti’s growth comes as the result of a perfect storm of sorts for the startup.

The Covid-19 health pandemic has led to a global economic crunch, and businesses are especially focused now on watching where money is coming in and where it is going.

But at the same time, even before the coronavirus pandemic, Tipalti had been seeing a lot of inbound business from organizations that were scaling fast and looking for solutions that could integrate easily into their current systems.

The backstory and necessity around accounts payable can be told in a few words: it’s a boring but necessary area, and if it goes wrong, it can potentially bring a whole company down because of the tax, fraud and auditing implications.

Tipalti describes accounts payable as “the most time-consuming function in finance”, noting that 47% of finance organizations in a recent survey said they still spend around 520 hours per year on manual accounts payable tasks, with 27% of respondents indicating that their teams dedicate up to 80 people-hours per month on AP tasks, or 1,040 hours annually.

Tipalti, which fittingly means “I’ll handle it” in Hebrew, is positioned as a helper in this context. By way of an API, it integrates with a number of other accounting and tracking platforms that its customers use including NetSuite, Sage, QuickBooks, Affise, Cake, Everflow, HitPath, LinkTrust, Paladin, Tune (HasOffers) and Vidooly and lets companies run and track how payments are being made relative to actives within the organization, all with relatively little input from the companies themselves, essentially giving them time and other resources to focus on other areas.

The pandemic has hit some of Tipalti’s customers hard. But overall, Chen said that it’s seen more business as a result, not just from companies suddenly growing much faster (as in the case, for example, for e-commerce businesses, or those catering to people spending much more time at home and on screens), but from businesses that simply need to pay much more attention to how money is moving around.

In 2020 so far, Tipalti has seen transaction volume on its platform balloon to $ 12 billion, up 80% on a year ago. It now has some 1,000 customers on its books, with a specifically strong emphasis on fast-growing tech companies. The list includes Amazon Twitch, Amplitude, Roku, Duolingo, Gitlab, Medium, ClassPass, Toast, Automattic, Twitter, Business Insider, GoDaddy, Zola, Boston Globe Media, Noom, Roblox, Headspace, Fiverr, Vimeo, Stack Overflow, ZipRecruiter, AppLovin, Canva, Indeed, and Foursquare.

Indeed, as we have described before, it was Tipalti’s initial work with Twitter on its own accounts payable services (central to how it can make money on its ad business) that served as its first introduction to Costolo and Bain, who went on to invest in it after they left the social network and started 01 Advisors.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to increase our investment in Tipalti during a time in which organizations have been focused on rapidly transforming and modernizing the way they operate,” said Dick Costolo, Founding Partner of 01 Advisors and former Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, in a statement. “When I ran Twitter, I saw first-hand the importance and value of Tipalti in automating financial operations. Tipalti transformed our processes and opened up our expansion, growth, and scalability strategies.”

It’s worth pointing out that the rise in valuation is a huge spike for Tipalti, a sign not just of its growth but investors’ bet that there will be more of that to come.

Chen Amit, the company’s founder and CEO, said it is four times the size of its valuation in its previous round (it raised $ 76 million in a Series D round led by 01 Advisors a little over a year ago, which would have been at around a $ 500 million valuation), and a whopping 14 times what Tipalti was valued in 2017). Indeed, even with other competitors like Bill.com and Coupa also targeting the same users as Tipalti, Amit estimates that between them all, they have just 3-4% of the addressable market.

“The accounts payable automation space has an extremely large total addressable market with significant growth potential,” explained Henry Ellenbogen, Founder, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Durable Capital Partners LP, in a statement. “We believe that Tipalti has the potential to become a much larger company within the Midmarket space due to its differentiated holistic platform, superior global capabilities and management team. This has resulted in leading retention and customer satisfaction.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Revolut to move its Irish accounts to Lithuania due to Brexit; launches new metal cards for business customers

London-based fintech startup Revolut has announced that it will temporarily migrate its Irish users’ accounts to its business in Lithuania because its e-money license will no longer be valid as a result of Brexit.

The move is aimed to ensure that Revolut can continue to serve its non-UK customers and hedge against a no trade-deal Brexit. 

Revolut’s Irish customer accounts have until now been regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority under EU passporting rules. These passporting rules allow financial institutions to ‘passport’ or transfer the license to another country without having to get full regulatory approval every time. However, after Brexit, on December 31st, Britain will give up its so-called ‘passporting rights’ and the UK regulator will no longer be able to oversee the accounts of EU citizens.

Speaking on the development, a spokesperson for Revolut says, “While that process is ongoing, to ensure that Brexit does not impact our Irish customers, we will temporarily migrate their accounts to Revolut’s e-money licensed business in the EU, based in Lithuania.”

He further adds, “Our plan is that once the business in Ireland is authorised by the CBI, we will migrate our Irish Revolut customers to the Irish entity and, in due course, many of our other Western European customers.”

According to the company, it’s 1 million Irish customers will therefore be regulated by the Bank of Lithuania, which granted Revolut an e-money licence in 2018. NB customers are being transferred to the Lithuanian e-money licence, not the Lithuanian bank licence, which lies with a separate entity.

Revolut’s Irish business has hired 32 staff and continues to build up its business in Ireland.

In the interim the day-to-day functionality of Revolut will remain exactly the same as it is. Customers’ money will continue to be held securely in ring-fenced accounts in top-tier international banks.Support and services will be carried out by the same teams as currently. 

However regulatory responsibility for the account, which until now was the regulatory responsibility of the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, will during this period be the regulatory responsibility of the Bank of Lithuania. While the terms and conditions will have to be updated to reflect this customer migration, they will remain essentially unchanged and customers will still have all the protections of EU law.

Launches metal cards

Founded in 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko. Revolut is a financial services company that specialises in mobile banking, card payments, money remittance, and foreign exchange. It includes a prepaid debit card, currency exchange, and peer-to-peer payments.

One of Revolut’s key features includes conversion from one currency to another based on interbank rates with no fee. Customers can hold foreign currencies in their accounts or send money to another Revolut user or a bank account outside of their country.

Image credits: Revolut

The company, today, has launched distinctive metal cards as an exclusive benefit to Revolut Business paid company plans. Revolut Business is the business account from fintech app Revolut and has over 500,000 business customers worldwide. Revolut Business was launched in July 2017 across the UK and Europe and helps customers get more from their business account with powerful tools that provide total control over their business’ finances.

Revolut Business metal cards are crafted from a single sheet of reinforced steel and come in five signature colours: black, gold, rose gold, space grey and silver. Customers on paid company plans receive one, two, or five free metal cards each – depending on their selected plan. Additional metal cards are available for purchase for £49 (€54.4) each, or the equivalent in your chosen currency.

In just five years, the company has more than 12mn customers in the UK and Europe. Earlier this year, Revolut had raised $ 500M (approx €425.8M) in its Series D round of funding with a valuation of $ 5.5B (approx €4.6B). To date, it has raised over $ 800M (approx €681M) in funding and employs more than 2,000 people globally, thus becoming the UK’s most-valued fintech startup.

Featured image credits: Revolut

The post Revolut to move its Irish accounts to Lithuania due to Brexit; launches new metal cards for business customers appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

Capitalize Raises $2M to Make Rolling Over 401k Retirement Accounts Seamless

What happens to your 401k when you leave a company for a new job? An overwhelming number of employees forget about their 401ks or cash out prematurely during a job change thanks to the administrative hassle. Capitalize, dubbed the “TurboTax for rollovers”, automates the transfer process so people can confidently choose a new retirement account and keep their accrued benefits. The model allows it to offer its services completely for free to the user while earning a commission on the back-end from the new IRA provider. AlleyWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Gaurav Sharma to learn more about how Capitalize reduces the friction encountered during account transfers through technology, the company’s future plans, and recent funding round from investors that include Bling Capital, Greycroft, RRE Ventures, and Walkabout Ventures

Memo Bank details its offering for its business bank accounts

French startup Memo Bank has unveiled three different plans for its new customers. The company is building a business bank for small and medium companies that generate between €2 million and €50 million in annual turnover.

Earlier this year, Memo Bank obtained licenses from the French regulator (ACPR) and the European Central Bank to become a credit institution. It can provide all the services you’d expect from a business bank, from current accounts to credit lines.

On paper, Memo Bank’s current accounts look a lot like a software-as-a-service product. There are three different plans. For €49 per month, you get one user account and each additional account costs €10 per month. You get 20 transactions in and out per month, each additional transaction costs €0.40 per transaction.

For €149 per month, you can create as many user accounts as you want and you get 200 transactions per month. Once again, additional transactions cost €0.40 per transaction.

And if you handle a lot of transactions, you get unlimited transactions for €399 per month. The mid-tier plan also lets you access an authorized overdraft.

Interestingly, companies on the top two tiers will earn interests on their deposits — 0.15% up to €100,000 and 0.30% up to €200,000 for the top two plans respectively. Memo Bank isn’t mentioning checks or payment cards for now.

Image Credits: Memo Bank

The startup is also saying that its web platform should work better than your average banking site. The search feature works as expected, you can issue grouped transfers to pay your employees and you can set up an approval workflow for big transactions.

More importantly, Memo Bank is open for business to issue loans. Companies can apply to get a €20,000 to €200,000 loan and pay back over 1 to 7 years. With this product, the startup is competing with online lending platforms, such as October.

Startups – TechCrunch