Fintech Friday – fintech news round-up of the week

Fintech Friday – fintech news round-up of the week

Notable fintech news this week includes a revealing look at investments in the sector by celebrity star fund manager Neil Woodford 

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Raisin hits the sweet spot

Not many fintechs can boast the kind of growth being experienced by Raisin, a three year old German fintech business that lets people invest in savings accounts across Europe that offer the best interest rates.

According to Business Insider the Berlin-based firm has just passed the €3 bn (£2.5bn) invested across its platform. January the company said it had hit £1.6bn mark, implying it has secured £840m of investment in just 4 months.

It all suggests Raisin’s growth is accelerating.  It now has around 75,000 customers, up from 60,000 in January. It currently has a German, English, Spanish, and French-language version of its service and is planning further expansion, with a saving products designed for SMEs slated for launch later this year.

Fintech stock picks, Woodford style

Star fund manager Neil Woodford’s picks are always worth investors mulling over. Motley Fool wonders which fintech stocks Woodford owns and finds he is invested in some unquoted fintech companies, such as RateSetter, a peer-to-peer lending platform, and Seedrs, which opens up venture capitalism “to anyone with an internet connection”.

However, Woodford also has two holdings that are listed on the stock market. One is P2P Global Investments, a FTSE 250 firm with a market cap of around £700m. It invests in a range of online peer-to-peer lending platforms and loans with Woodford ” attracted by its ability to deliver a stable and attractive income stream to its shareholders.”

Woodford’s other listed fintech holding is VPC Specialty Lending Investments, a FTSE SmallCap member constituent with a market cap of around £290m. Its business is similar to P2P’s and like the FTSE 250 firm, “considerable quantities of cash flow into shareholders’ pockets”.

Blockchain for the poor unbanked billions 

It is estimated that two billion people worldwide don’t have bank accounts and must conduct their transactions in cash, which can be difficult to manage and presents safety issues. Could blockchain, the technology underlying the digital currency Bitcoin, give them access to financial services?

Certainly Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates thinks so, with MIT Technology Review reporting that a project backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to leverage distributed ledger technology to help the billions currently without access even the most basic financial services.

MIT Technology Review notes that the initiative is part of the Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor program?specifically, its “Level One Project”, which gives governments and central banks a framework for creating national digital payments systems that anyone can use, even those who live on a few dollars a day.

The systems tap digital technologies, such as simple, 2G cell phones and wireless networks, to reduce processing costs and connect a country’s existing financial infrastructure to a new digital payment platform. Once the system is up and running, people can send and receive money via their phones the same way they trade text messages.

 

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Kam Patel is a former deputy editor at Hemscott Invest and online editor, CityAM. Other previous postings include editor, MoneyAM; digital content editor, Moneyweek; and science & technology correspondent, Times Higher Education Supplement. He is a qualified investment adviser.

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