What’s Up In Fintech
By Nicole Casperson
On Thursdays, I share news stories and trending pieces I’m keeping tabs on. Consider it your shortcut to shifting through the noise in the fintech news world.
#1 Brazilian Fintech NuBank To Launch Personal Loans In Mexico
Nubank’s subsidiary, Nu México, is expanding its financial services by introducing personal loans. This move directly responds to the rising influence of online-only neobanks, like Nubank, in Mexico. It’s worth noting that a considerable portion of the adult population in Mexico still lacks access to traditional banking services.
Earlier this year, Nu México made a noteworthy move by introducing savings accounts and debit cards. The Mexican community embraced these offerings, opening 1 million savings accounts and amassing deposits totaling an astonishing 1 billion pesos. Notably, around 90% of these deposits were directed to a specialized account segment that offered customers an attractive 9% annual return.
Mexico holds a pivotal position for Nubank, and co-founder Cristina Junqueira has affirmed its significance as the company’s second-most-important market, brimming with substantial growth potential. While the product is not yet available, Nubank has officially announced that customers can soon secure personal loans in under five minutes through the Nubank app.
Why It Matters:
Mexico faces a challenge where a considerable portion of its population needs access to formal financial products and bank accounts. According to the 2021 National Survey of Financial Inclusion (ENIF), only 68% of the population between 18 and 70 have some form of formal financial product, including savings, credit, insurance, or retirement accounts. In the same demographic segment, 49% maintain accounts with banks or financial institutions.
Nubank’s digital-centric approach is well-positioned to address this financial disparity, offering millions of Mexicans convenient access to essential financial services. As Nubank continues to expand its presence in Mexico and throughout Latin America, with reports indicating a customer base exceeding 85 million across Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, its success transcends corporate gains. It is a pivotal step towards promoting financial inclusion and empowerment within the region.
However, while introducing personal loans is undoubtedly a positive step towards enhancing access to financial services in Mexico, it is crucial to consider the broader impact.
Beyond offering diverse financial products, fintech companies like Nubank must also contribute to fostering healthier financial habits and relationships among users. While the industry prioritizes convenience and transaction facilitation, it should also make efforts to support consumers in making informed and responsible financial decisions.
Addressing this aspect will be pivotal in aligning the industry’s objectives with the genuine financial well-being of its users.
#2 Female-Led Climate Fintech Startup Raises $6.5M
Opna, the London-based climate fintech company, just wrapped its seed funding round with $6.5 million. The funding was led by the folks at Atomico, a European venture capital firm, and they were joined by some familiar faces who believe in Opna’s mission, like Pale Blue Dot, MCJ Collective, Angelinvest, and Tiny VC.
Opna’s round also brought in some serious heavy hitters, including Cristina Stenbeck, former Gainsight COO, Allison Pickens, the former chief commercial officer for Klarna, and Stijn Christiaens, one of the co-founders of Collibra.
Founded in February 2022, Opna aims to make carbon project financing a breeze. They want to empower businesses to find, fund, and keep an eye on top-notch carbon projects in a transparent, cost-efficient, and downright snappy way.
The driving force behind Opna is its CEO and founder, Shilpika Gautam, who happens to be a Guinness World Record-breaking climate advocate. Her love for nature and passion for climate justice led her to realize that we need a severe shift in how we approach carbon projects in the voluntary carbon market.
Opna’s platform has four key components, and they’re all about making things smoother:
- They help companies discover trusted project developers, saving time and money.
- They’re masters at simplifying the financing of carbon projects, so it’s less complicated and more fair for everyone.
- They offer a nifty digital tool for monitoring funded projects with key performance indicators (KPIs).
- They have a super-secret risk engine (okay, not that secret) that checks over 280 data points to ensure top-notch projects.
Why It Matters:
Opna is here to help corporations nail their net-zero goals by making it easier to put their money where their green hearts are. With Opna’s platform, they’re slashing transaction costs, ditching old-school processes, and saving precious time, all while connecting the dots between companies committed to net zero and carbon projects needing funding.
In a nutshell, Opna’s success in this funding round highlights the growing interest in climate fintech solutions that make supporting carbon projects a breeze. It’s a big win for the fight against climate change, showing that innovative financial solutions can be real game-changers on our path to a greener future.
#3 AI Anti-Money Laundering Platform Secures $57 Million
ThetaRay, an AI-driven anti-money laundering (AML) platform, has secured a casual $57 million in funding, led by fintech investor Portage, with participation from JVP, OurCrowd, and undisclosed previous supporters.
With this round, ThetaRay has raised approximately $160 million, boasting a higher, undisclosed valuation, reported TechCrunch. The investment was oversubscribed, indicating strong confidence in the company’s potential.
ThetaRay’s AML platform is like a financial detective with AI superpowers. It can spot suspicious transactions at banks and other money hubs without sweat. Notable clients like Santander Bank and Travelex have already benefited, especially after Santander faced a hefty fine of nearly $135 million in 2022 for their AML process slip-up. Ouch.
Why It Matters:
What makes ThetaRay unique is how it dives deep into different financial areas. One of its tricks is in “correspondence banking,” where money moves from one place to another without the bank being the sender or receiver. Sneaky crooks use it to hide their dirty money, but it’s also how legitimate money gets around. Banks see it as a golden opportunity.
In a world where bad guys are getting smarter and moving a mind-boggling $800 billion to $2 trillion every year (that’s like 2-5% of the world’s money!), according to the United Nations, ThetaRay’s super-smart AML tech is like a superhero fighting financial crime. It’s not just protecting our money; it’s protecting the economic system we all rely on.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
A Week In The Life
Tune in every Thursday to keep in the loop on the best fintech events happening each week! Whether it’s an online meetup or a fintech conference, these gatherings provide amazing opportunities to network, learn and connect with our incredible fintech community.
So, let’s fill up those calendars with all the awesome events out there – I’d love to see you at one, or even better, if you have one you’d like to share, please let me know!
- [HUNTINGTON BEACH] Future Proof Festival: Instead of a traditional conference in a hotel ballroom, this event is hosted outdoors along a stunning beach with sound stages. My session is on the future of Wealth Management and AI (on Sunday), but I plan on sticking around all day Monday to catch the panels and meet with some of the most inspiring humans in wealth tech. If you’ll be at Future Proof Festival, make sure to give me a holler so that we can connect!
- [ATLANTA] The Fundraising Landscape for Female Fintech Founders: Bringing together the brightest female fintech Founders in the region, emerging female talent from the top financial institutions, corporate executives, and a community of male allies. This event is all about combining the talents and insights of both genders, we can successfully disrupt the gender disparity in the industry and create a more balanced playing field for female success and growth.
- [SILICON VALLEY/Virtual] How to Launch a Fundable Startup With Impact: Are you interested in learning the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and how to turn your ideas into a venture-funded startup? This is the perfect opportunity to gain invaluable insight into emerging technologies and how to tap into the vast new markets of the net zero transition, estimated at a staggering two hundred trillion US dollars.
- [NYC/Virtual] 2023 Forbes Power Women’s Summit: The world’s most powerful leaders are not waiting for the future to come to them – instead, they are actively designing a future that is better for us all. I’m so stoked to attend the 2023 Forbes Power Women’s Summit that is bringing together barrier-breaking women from across generations and industries to redefine progress and create a path toward a brighter tomorrow. I am incredibly honored to be invited to attend the event in-person, and I am planning to share all my learnings so we can all be inspired by the stories, ideas, and experiences that will be shared. If you aren’t able to attend in-person, there is also the option to register to tune in virtually.
- [VIRTUAL] Accelerate Your Personal Finance Goals: This month’s Mini-Con is hosted by Alejandra Rojas, Founder of The Money Mindset Hub. She’s helped dozens of women entrepreneurs own their relationship with money. Join us to learn a few things you may not be thinking about (because you’re busy thinking about your business or work goals instead). You deserve it. This event is exclusively for members of the Real Talk community. If you’re interested in joining this session or future Mini-Cons, please grab your annual membership ASAP! We can’t wait to welcome you to our crew of powerful women in fintech.
- [SAN FRANCISCO] Money Is Funny: The Tech Pitch Roast Comedy Show: Featuring early stage startups who present their pitch and get hilariously roasted by a panel of stand-up comedians and venture capitalists.
HUMANS OF FINTECH
Liang Zhao, CEO, Vansary
Did you know that 1 in every 124 Asian women in the workplace is a leader vs. 1 in every 50 white males?
Liang Zhao, CEO of the marketing consulting agency, Vansary, does, and that’s why she’s making it her personal mission to ensure underrepresented groups have an equal seat at the leadership table.
Catch this conversation with me and Liang as we chat about what our experience as an Asian American has been like in the fintech space, including why the culture of internalization has made it difficult for Asian Americans to recognize when they’re being shortlisted and how fintech needs to work harder to build a more inclusive and sustainable future.
Plus, find out how Vansary is working with female founders, minority-owned businesses, and allies within the financial sector to help underrepresented groups find their leadership voice.