FinTech Futures: Top five stories of the week – 15 April 2022
Here’s our pick of five of the top news stories from the world of finance and tech this week.
Bank of England’s fintech chief Varun Paul leaves for digital asset platform Fireblocks
The Bank of England’s head of fintech Varun Paul has announced he is leaving the central bank and moving into the digital asset space by joining Fireblocks in an unspecified role.
Fireblocks is a digital asset custody, transfer and settlement platform. Following a $550 million Series E funding round earlier this year, the firm is worth $8 billion and is the highest-valued digital asset infrastructure provider in the world.
“Today was an emotional day! 16 years after starting my first internship and more than 13 years after starting as a graduate, today I’ve parted ways with the Bank of England,” Paul says in a LinkedIn post announcing the move.
While Paul has been at the central bank for 16 years, he has only been in his most recent role as head of the fintech hub for just over a year.
Nigerian fintech start-up Kippa launches digital payments offering for African SMEs
Nigerian fintech start-up Kippa has launched a new digital payments offering called Kippa Payments, built to enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa to send and receive payments from within the Kippa app.
Kippa says that customers will now be able to transfer money, make bill payments and send invoices containing embedded payment links for a small processing fee.
The company claims that its new payments feature automatically detects, records and validates users’ business data, which was previously self-recorded by merchants on the app.
The Lagos-based company aims to unlock socio-economic prosperity in sub-Saharan Africa by helping SMEs grow their business and embrace financial inclusion.
Stripe-backed one-click checkout fintech Fast folds
San Francisco-based e-commerce checkout fintech Fast has shut down.
The one-click checkout site was founded by Domm Holland and Allison Barr Allen in 2019 and set out to make buying and selling online “frictionless for everyone”.
In a public statement announcing its closure, Fast CEO and co-founder Domm Holland says: “Sometimes trailblazers don’t make it all the way to the mountain top. But even in those situations, they pave a way that all others will follow.”
Holland says that despite considering raising additional funding or initiating layoffs, Fast no longer has the financial resources to continue operating the business.
Binance.US lands $200m in first funding round at $4.5bn valuation
Crypto platform Binance.US has raised more than $200 million in its first-ever funding round, valuing the company at $4.5 billion.
The round saw participation from RRE Ventures, Foundation Capital, Original Capital, VanEck and Circle Ventures, among others.
As part of Binance.US’ commitment to “an inclusive vision for crypto”, the round also includes support from diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)-focused firms Gaingels and Gold House.
Binance.US will use the new funds on developing new products and services – some of which the firm says will be announced shortly – as well as kickstarting “educational initiatives to bridge the knowledge gap”.
Bolt to acquire crypto API provider Wyre in push to “democratise commerce”
E-commerce checkout fintech Bolt is to acquire crypto infrastructure provider Wyre as the firm looks to “decentralise and democratise commerce” through integrating Wyre’s crypto stack, giving developers blockchain protocols to build financial crypto products.
“This acquisition will fast-track our efforts to democratise commerce — and it will serve as a powerful proof point for the union of cryptocurrency and commerce,” says Bolt executive chair Ryan Breslow.
Wyre’s APIs will be utilised to enable straightforward and secure crypto-to-fiat experiences that reduce the barrier to entry for developers and make it easier for retailers to accept cryptocurrency as a payment method.
Bolt CEO Maju Kuruvilla says the acquisition will “improve the buying experience” online, with “seamless, secure crypto transactions, and NFT enablement for our retailers”.