FTT Embedded Finance


Amazon groceries, black women founders and welcoming Starling as a unicorn – FTT Bookmark Issue 7

Your weekly resource for noteworthy news, fascinating features, and FinTech titbits that caught our eye.

Whether you live by your Twitter lists, save your Google Alerts or simply scroll through LinkedIn for insights and commentary – there is a wealth of content that weaves a global story around FinTech. Our job at Fintech Talents is to work within that global story – finding the news items, conventional wisdoms and hard data that aids us in bringing the industry the best Content, Community and Experiences in the business.

This week’s FTT Bookmark of timely resources and real time conversations that are shaping FinTech is brought to you by VC Innovations Director, Liz Lumley.

The week may have seemed to be dominated by palace intrigue, bombshell interviews and rescue chickens – but this week in FinTech has been about celebrating women, buying groceries without a till and we also saw a female led business finally be recognized as a FinTech unicorn.

Starling achieves Unicorn status on £272 million funding round – City A.M.

Starling Bank confirmed it has raised £272m in its largest ever funding round, confirming its status as Britain’s newest unicorn.

The digital bank raised the funds in a series D round led by Fidelity Management and Research. The cash injection, which is significantly higher than the target of £200m, gives the company a pre-money valuation of £1.1bn. A unicorn is any privately held company with a valuation of more than £1bn.

Liz’s take: In the age of disruption, we often get dazzled by ‘the tech’. Focusing on the digital, open sourced, Saas-based, transformative ‘Tech’ that enables the ‘Fin’. Yet, the most successful and sustainable ‘FinTechs’ I have observed are those that recognise a business problem and go about to solve it – rather than obsess with the possibilities of a technology and seek to find an issue to showcase it.

Anne Boden has never been a so-called ‘FinTech founder’. She is a banker. She set out to build a bank – using technology and workflows that made creating a bank easier and more efficient than ever before. Starling was always playing the long game. They plan on using the fresh capital to support a targeted expansion of Starling’s lending in the UK, as well as to launch in Europe and for anticipated M&A.

Exclusive: Goldman Sachs restarts cryptocurrency desk amid bitcoin boom – Reuters

Goldman Sachs Group Inc has restarted its cryptocurrency trading desk and will begin dealing bitcoin futures and non-deliverable forwards for clients from next week, a person familiar with the matter said.

As part of this work, the bank is also exploring the potential for a bitcoin exchange traded fund and has issued a request for information to explore digital asset custody, the source said.

The trading desk reboot comes amid growing interest by institutions in bitcoin, which has soared more than 470% over the past year.

Liz’s take: We are here for all your cryptocurrency news! And remember your lesson from Liz from Bookmark Issue 4 – Pay attention to Goldmans – both good and bad. Always keep an eye opened to Goldman Sachs.

M&S Bank to close all current accounts and instore branches – Finextra

The banking offshoot of UK retailer Marks & Spencer is to close all of its current accounts and shut its 29 instore branches to focus instead on reward-based credit cards and digital payment services.

Launched in 2012, M&S Bank operates as a joint venture arrangement between HSBC and Marks & Spencer. It currently claims some three million customers.

Amazon Fresh opens first ’till-less’ grocery store in UK – The Guardian

Amazon has opened its first “just walk out” grocery store in the UK where shoppers can pick up their goods and leave without having to visit a till.

The Amazon Fresh store in Ealing, west London, is a “contactless” shop available to anyone signed up to Amazon and with the app on their phone. Customers must scan in a code on their phone to gain entry.

Liz’s take: I included these two news items – the shuttering of M&S Bank and the opening of ‘contactless stories’ from Amazon in the UK – as a pair to highlight a specific branch of ‘FinTech’ retail and ecommerce.

Those of us who live and work within the FinTech bubble are well versed with B2B offerings and delivering traditional financial services in a digital, app-based manner in the B2C sector. Our eyes should also focus on the ‘commerce’ sector. Retail brands are better placed to influence how consumers view, accept, and use new technology, which then filters down to how technology is used in the B2B space. If we want to understand the true impact of the connection between lending and payments, the rise of embedded finance, and point of sale financing the evolution of the retail and ecommerce space must always be part of the conversation.

Financial industry must tackle gender bias in algorithms, according to global fintech leader, Finastra – Yahoo! Finance

Finastra published a five-point plan to tackle algorithmic bias in consumer finance decision-making. A new KPMG report, commissioned by Finastra, examines the size of global consumer lending markets and the potential impact of algorithmic bias in society. Finastra has urged the financial industry to address the problem and work together to help solve it.

Liz’s take: Yes. Finastra has a plan now. Let’s see how they implement it. Actions are needed now, not words, not reports, not opinions. Just action, now.

Our non-FinTech story of the week is still one that has huge implications for FinTech.

Black women entrepreneurs fight to stay afloat in the pandemic – Financial Times

Black women are the fastest growing start-up demographic in the US, but struggle to find credit. The FT has highlighted several stories of founders in a special Women in Business Report.

Liz’s take: The startup funding world loves to heap praise on ‘natural entrepreneurs’. Don’t ignore the most dynamic startup founders in the US. Invest in black women. Buy from black women. Fund black women. Stop talking. Just do.

What Liz RT’d this week:

We at VC Innovations work with senior women, experienced women, hard working women, women starting out in their careers and women with too much grey pandemic hair. It’s not a #IWD2021 PR stunt – it is our day to day working reality. 😊

Stay tuned for next week when VC Innovations Director, Lisa Moyle takes the reins of the news cart and fills her basket with insights, interviews and interesting stuff!