Bitcoin price surges. Is Coronavirus behind it?


The Coronavirus is negatively already affecting several global industries and should the disruption continue, we could see the impact reach all the way to the end of 2020. One of them, electronics and tech are already feeling the impact of the coronavirus. With Bitcoin’s scheduled halving in May, Chinese miner manufacturers have seen a rise in demand for new equipment. The world’s largest manufacturers of mining equipment are based in China (Bitmain, Canaan, MicroBT, and InnoSilicon) and all of them face delays in production and delivery. The price of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have increased whenever investors start to panic. Should we consider the coronavirus outbreak a good thing for the cryptocurrency market?

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at

In a tweet on Valentine’s Day, Balaji Srinivasan, the ex-Coinbase CTO, compared bitcoin’s price to the growth of coronavirus. Srinivasan thinks that bitcoin will reach $100,000 following in the footsteps of coronavirus:

The comparison might look far-fetched, but in followup tweet Srinivasan provides more information to defend his position, including links to Wikipedia pages of Excursion probabilities and Geometric Brownian Motions. The comparison probably doesn’t make a lot sense to those unfamiliar with the stochastic process, but Srinivasan tries to enlighten us about the similarities between the latest Bitcoin price surge and coronavirus outbreak.

China has the status as a crypto investment hub. China is one of the most important markets for the crypto industry, not only in terms of sales and adoption, but also in terms of the number of startups. The country is the birth-place of major crypto companies including Binance, TRON, Huobi and others.

Even though the Chinese government has banned the trading of cryptocurrencies, the country still leads Bitcoin mining, with an estimated 65 percent of the total hash rate. China also houses the most crypto exchanges in the Asia-Pacific region, which has 40 percent of the world’s top 50 exchanges.

As we approach the upcoming halving, crypto funds and exchanges have been on an arms race, ordering new and more powerful models as they expect the halving will increase the price of bitcoin.

While manufacturing delays in mining equipment has been good news for existing miners, some mining operations have been interrupted. At a mining farm located in a remote part of China, had to stop operations. Even if some Chinese crypto mining facilities are shut down by authorities, it looks like is has little to no impact on the network’s hash rate. The network appears to be performing stronger than ever with hash rates continuing to rise.

Screen Shot 2020-02-16 at 23.42.26.pngChinese crypto investors are a considerable market force. Since the US-China trade war started in 2019 and now with the coronavirus outbreak and stock markets failing, bitcoin has seen massive investments, by nervous investors.

Usually when stocks go down, cryptocurrency prices go up. Bitcoin has risen 48% since the start of 2020, outperforming gold. This may be due in part to the coronavirus. The market cap for the entire crypto sector has gone from $190 billion to the $290 billion.

Screen Shot 2020-02-16 at 23.48.53.png

With 69,191 people infected with the coronavirus and 1,668 fatalities in China, many basic medical supplies are scarce. The crypto industry was among the first to support the fight against the epidemic. Hyperchain launched Shanzong, a blockchain-based donation tracking application. The platform tracks donations, from money, masks and other medical materials given, the matching to areas of need and delivery. It was launched last Monday and has already recorded 500 donations. Binance Charity helped Chinese Corps to distribute over 70,000 masks in the infected areas.

Also, as the world is trying to tackle the spread and treatment of the coronavirus, blockchain is being used for insurance claims.  In an article by the South China Morning Post, Xiang Hu Bao, a Chinese online mutual aid platform, added the coronavirus to the illnesses that are eligible for a one-time payout of 100,000 yuan ($14,300).

The cryptocurrency space saw the birth of CoronaCoin (NCOV), published in a Reddit post. Now you can bet on the coronavirus pandemic, The more the virus spreads the more valuable the token becomes. According to the website, the total supply is based on the world’s population and the token will be burnt once every 48 hours, depending on the number of infected people and fatalities.  What a way to incentivize people… let’s spread the disease to gain. It should do the exact opposite and gain value as the disease stops spreading. All the money, not just a portion, should be donated for a vaccine and to buy masks and other medical supplies.

The Chinese doctor that alerted the world about the coronavirus, who died last week, has now been memorialized on the Ethereum blockchain. A smart contract on Ethereum with code formatted in the shape of a monument to Dr. Li Wenliang, was created last Friday.

Just like other global epidemics, coronavirus already has a serious impact on the global economy, especially because it’s happening in China, that second strongest economy in the world. In the past Chinese investors have relied on Bitcoin to hedge against the yuan’s devaluation. While that might be one big factor behind the positive trend on the bitcoin’s price, if the coronavirus continues to spread in China and other places, it will hurt the global economy, including bitcoin.

Something bad can never be good in the long run.

Balaji Srinivasan may be right when it comes to the math about bitcoin and it will reach $100,000, but as far as the coronavirus goes, let’s hope its trajectory is already peaking.

Glasgow Economic Forum (GEF) is taking place in the first week of March (7-8 March, 2020). It’s an annual conference organized entirely by students of the University of Glasgow. The event is packed with ideas, discussions and fascinating insights by world-renowned speakers. Support the students and their efforts. If you’re a company, make a donation or buy tickets. Find out how you can help them!

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With ‘fintech startup mentality,’ MoneyGram launches text payments

MoneyGram is upgrading its digital capabilities beyond international cash pickup services with FastSend, a new feature that allows customers to send money to recipients’ accounts via mobile phone numbers instead of account numbers. The feature rolled out earlier this month.  “We’re trying to address [pain points] with a fintech startup mentality and a very convenient …Read More

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Mexican digital bank Stori aims to assist the underbanked

Digital bank Stori, which is based in Mexico City, aims to reach customers with minimal access to financial services. 

Recent research highlights the problems the bank is attempting to solve. According to data from CB Insights, less than 3% of the poorest Mexicans have access to a credit card, as opposed to more than 15% of the country’s highest earners. 

The company this month raised $10 million in Series A2 funding, bringing the total amount raised to $17 millionsupported by Bertelsmann Investments, Source Code Capital and Vision Plus Capital.  

Stori co-founder Marlene Garayzar said the digital platform helps customers keep track of their transactions and disconnect their cards if they suspect fraud. 

“Apart from being a payment method, Stori is a financial tool that gives users better control over their expenses,” Garayzar told Bank Innovation in Spanish-language interview. “By living in a digital ecosystem, the card can be easily managed from the app, where you can make [payment] requests, transactions, check the account statement and [money] movements.” 

Stori co-founder Manuel Medina said Mexico faces persistent financial inclusion challenges, and Stori’s digital credit cards are necessary because most adults in Mexico cannot access credit.  

See also: Startup Branch wants to build a money services platform for hourly workers

“We want to bring products and services to allow Mexicans to start their financial history and reach personal goals over time,” Medina said in a Spanish-language interview. “Our vision of financial inclusion is to give loans to people with no history, or even poor qualifications, to help them repair or create credit history.” 

The company, which was founded in 2018, would not comment on customer numbers, but said it will use the new funding to fold in new digital capabilities, including artificial intelligence and data analytics. 

Recent research from Nasdaq suggested Mexico’s high unbanked population, along with enabling fintech legislation, has created new opportunities for Mexico’s fintech sector. It noted that the country is a regional fintech leader, with more than 273 ventures operating in the country. Mexico’s growing digital payments infrastructure is supported by a QR code-based system set up by the country’s central bank last year, the study observed. 

Bank Innovation Ignite, which will take place March 2-3 in Seattle, is a must-attend industry event for professionals overseeing financial technologies, product experiences and services. This is an exclusive, invitation-only event for executives eager to learn about the latest innovations. Request your invitation.

FIS touts client growth and loyalty partnership with PayPal

The modernization of core banking tools and loyalty point redemption mechanisms are key priorities for banking technology provider FIS.  In a fourth-quarter earnings call last week, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company reported continued growth of its next-generation banking platforms, along with its new agreement with PayPal allowing consumers of client institutions that participate in FIS’ Premium …Read More

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Weekly Wrap: Varo gets FDIC approval, as Curve prepares for US launch

Welcome to the latest episode of our Weekly Wrap series, for the week ending Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. In this episode, editors discuss the following news developments:

  • The implications of banking startup Varo’s FDIC approval;
  • How U.K. card startup Curve opened a New York City office in advance of its U.S. launch; and
  • Wells Fargo’s progress on implementing secure, third-party data access.

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The Weekly Wrap is also available as a video:

Moven Powers KSA-Based Neobank; Nigerian Fintech Scores $10 Million

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Dusseldorf, Germany-based apoBank partners with Avaloq.
  • German challenger bank N26 announces withdrawal from the U.K. market.
  • Sifted highlights the “fastest growing fintech startups in Germany.”

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • A partnership between Moven and STC Pay seeks to launch a new challenger bank in Saudi Arabia.
  • The biggest bank in the country by assets, the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), has joined the RippleNet payment network.
  • Wamda interviews more than 600 startups as part of its examination of pre-seed startups in the MENA region.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Uber establishes its Uber Money team at India’s Hyderabad Tech Centre.
  • Deal Street Asia looks at how fintechs in India are re-invigorating banking.
  • BusinessWorld reviews ways fintech in India can help “bridge the gap” between banks and the public.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • In a round led by DOMO Invest, Brazilian P2P marketplace IOUU locks in $1.3 million in its latest funding round.
  • Chile-based investment platform Fintual teams up with Invermerica in new foray into Mexican market.
  • Brazilian fintech Bloxs Investimentos raises $690,000 in new funding to build out its collective investment platform.


  • Vietnam’s central bank refuses to cap foreign ownership of e-payment companies at 49%.
  • Fintech News Singapore features “6 Agri-Fintech Startups in Asia to Follow in 2020.”
  • Thailand-based “crowdfunding bonds” fintech PeerPower announces pre-Series A round funding.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigerian fintech Aella Credit secures $10 million in debt financing.
  • CNBC Africa looks at how fintechs can help South African consumers avoid “credit traps.”
  • VentureBurn highlights the work of South African financial inclusion specialist Meerkat.

Top image designed by Freepik

Herman Man, BlueVine chief product officer, to speak at Bank Innovation Ignite

Herman Man, chief product officer at the small business lending company BlueVine, will speak on a panel at Bank Innovation Ignite on March 2-3, in Seattle.  

Man will speak on a panel entitled “How to make SME banking innovation work,” diving into underwriting, payments and bridging the disconnect between small business products and adoption.  

“Bank Innovation Ignite is bringing together some of the industry’s greatest minds,” Man said. “I’m particularly interested in discussing more on how fintech will continue to evolve from single-solution players to end-to-end platforms. In order to do that, I believe fintech will be more portable yet integrated across the landscape. With major players in attendance, I anticipate some interesting takeaways from peers on how the industry will meet customers where they are in their business lifecycle.” 

Joining Man will be speakers from Citibank, Fifth Third Bank, Mastercard, Brex, Wells Fargo and LendUp.  

Man spent more than 13 years at Microsoft, including almost four years as the principal engineering manager for the company’s commerce division. Prior to working at BlueVine he served as vice president of product and partnerships at Xero, an accounting software company.  

BlueVine, based in Redwood City, Calif., offers lines of credit and term loans of up to $250,000. The company also offers invoice factoring credit lines of up to $5 million. According to the company, BlueVine’s digital application can be completed in five minutes. BlueVine raised $102.5 million of Series F funding in November, putting the company’s total funding since its establishment in 2013 at more than $690 million according to Crunchbase. In October, the company announced its plans to launch a checking account to customers sometime early this year. 

Bank Innovation Ignite, which will take place on March 2-3 in Seattle, is a must-attend industry event for professionals overseeing financial technologies, product experiences and services. Other agenda items include brainstorming the next big fintech idea, lessons from big tech and the future of banking customer experience. This is an exclusive, invitation-only event for executives eager to learn about the latest innovations. Request your invitation.

Watch: High Court endorses UKJT Legal Statement and proprietary status of cryptoassets

In a recent judgement, the High Court of England and Wales found that cryptoassets like Bitcoin are property under English law. In doing so, it adopted the reasoning of the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce’s legal statement on cryptoassets and smart contracts. Whilst not a definitive judicial authority, this does provide a helpful endorsement of the UKJT statement and the proprietary status of cryptoassets.

What is the UKJT legal statement?

In November 2019, the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce issued a legal statement confirming that cryptoassets can be recognised as property under English law. The statement is authoritative but lacks the force of law.

Watch Michael Voisin, Richard Hay and Sam Quicke, who were heavily involved in the project, discuss the significance, conclusions and implications of the legal statement:

Endorsement by the High Court

In the recent case of AA v Persons Unknown, the commercial division of the High Court was presented with an application for a proprietary injunction in respect of an amount of bitcoin paid out in ransom in response to a cyberattack. In order to grant the injunction, the court had to satisfy itself that bitcoin could amount to property. To answer this question, the judge quoted and adopted analysis from the UKJT legal statement. He concluded that “Essentially, and for the reasons identified in that legal statement, I consider that a crypto asset such as Bitcoin are (sic) property.”

Is this definitive judicial authority?

As the judgement related to interim relief (i.e. a proprietary injunction), rather than a final judgement on the merits of the case, it is not technically definitive judicial authority from a legal perspective. It is, however, a helpful endorsement and likely to be influential in the substantive hearing for this case (if the trial proceeds) and future cases relating to the proprietary nature of cryptoassets.

Flywire Closes $120 Million Investment, Acquires Healthcare Payments Platform

It’s a big week for Flywire. The global payments platform made a dual announcement yesterday that it closed a round of funding and sealed the deal on an acquisition.

The $120 million in funding brings Flywire’s total raised to $260 million. Goldman Sachs led the Series E round. The Massachusetts-based company will use the funding to digitize payments across education, healthcare, and travel.

“We are thrilled to lead the Series E round for Flywire”, said Ashwin Gupta, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division. “They bring together a unique blend of a payments network, platform and vertical-specific solutions to completely digitize the payments experience for their clients across industries. We look forward to continuing to help accelerate Flywire’s growth.”

Along with the investment news, Flywire unveiled that it has acquired healthcare billing and payment solutions company Simplee for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition blends Flywire’s tech platform with Simplee’s solution that focuses on patients and providers. The combined companies power four of the top ten U.S. healthcare systems and together process $10 billion+ in payments per year.

“Flywire is uniquely built on a global payments network, which is the cornerstone of how we move billions of dollars across 200+ countries and 150 currencies, and an industry-leading payments platform” said Flywire CEO Mike Massaro. “This digital foundation enables us to develop vertical-specific applications that make payments more efficient and cost-effective for our global clients. The Simplee acquisition improves patient engagement and healthcare affordability and extends these capabilities to a broader customer base.”

Flywire, which originally launched has peerTransfer in 2009, has processed $12 billion+ in payments for 2,000 clients. The company has office locations at its headquarters in Boston, as well as Chicago, London, Manchester, Valencia, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Cluj, and Sydney.

Toast lands $400M in funding

Toast, a restaurant management platform in the U.S., today has raised $400,000 million in its latest round of funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, TPG, Greenoaks Capital, and Tiger Global Management with participation from Durable Capital Partners LP, TCV, funds. T. Rowe Price Associates, G Squared, Light Street Capital, Alta Park Capital and others advised the counts.

“As a result of our tremendous growth and commitment to the restaurant industry, we have continued to see a significant amount of demand from the investor community,” CEO Chris Comparato said in a company press release. “As the clear platform leader in the restaurant space, we are excited to use this investment to extend our capabilities and drive a bigger impact for the restaurant industry.”

He said Toast will use the funds to:

  • Create new products.
  • Make hardware and software investments to increase speed of service, streamline the guest experience, and reduce operational costs.
  • Design ways to improve the restaurant employee experience, reduce employee turnover, and address the industry’s pressing labor challenges; and,
  • Launch financial products that provide quick and reliable access to funding to help restaurateurs grow their businesses.

“Just as the retail industry weathered disruption from e-commerce over the past two decades, restaurateurs now face shifting consumer expectations and a changing landscape of tech players who threaten to erode restaurant brands,” Kent Bennett, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, said in the release. “Toast wants to partner with the restaurant community to level the playing field and strengthen this nearly trillion-dollar industry. We’re thrilled to continue to support this incredible team in 2020 and beyond.”



Topics: POS, Restaurants, Venture Capital

Companies: Toast, Inc.

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Flywire Raises $120 Million in Series E Round Led by Goldman Sachs

– Flywire Acquires Simplee to Transform Healthcare Payments Experience

– Deal accelerates Flywire’s multi-vertical strategy, broadens healthcare client base

–  Flywire to accelerate investment in its payments network, platform and verticals to capture increased share of trillion-dollar global payments TAM

Flywire, a high-growth vertical payments company, today announced that it has acquired Simplee, a leading healthcare technology platform, to optimise the digital payments and patient engagement experience in healthcare, and scale its global payments services. The acquisition builds on Flywire’s growing healthcare payments business and accelerates the company’s market share. Flywire is also announcing a $120 million Series E investment round, led by Goldman Sachs, which contributes to Flywire’s strong balance sheet and provides additional capital to support the company’s vision to digitise payments across its key verticals, including education, healthcare and travel.

Bolstered by new digital capabilities, global payments revenue is expected to grow at a 5.9% CAGR from 2019-2028 to become a $2.5 trillion industry by 2028, according to Boston Consulting Group. However, the payments experience across many verticals is fraught with inefficiencies and poorly integrated point solutions, which adversely impact patient engagement and accelerate financial losses. Exacerbating high healthcare costs is the secular trend towards high-deductible health plans; according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), healthcare patients in the United States will be responsible for $365.5 billion in out-of-pocket healthcare spend per year, representing a market opportunity for Flywire that is about 70% of the size of the entire U.S. e-commerce spend.

Flywire’s acquisition of Simplee accelerates the digitisation of payments to address the challenges around patient engagement as well as healthcare finance and affordability. Combining Flywire’s high-tech platform for providers with Simplee’s consumer-first paths to payment, both patients and providers are empowered to settle payment faster and on their own terms. Together, the companies will power four of the top ten US healthcare systems and process more than $10 billion in patient payments per year.

“Flywire is uniquely built on a global payments network, which is the cornerstone of how we move billions of dollars across 200+ countries and 150 currencies, and an industry-leading payments platform,” said Mike Massaro, CEO of Flywire. “This digital foundation enables us to develop vertical-specific applications that make payments more efficient and cost-effective for our global clients. The Simplee acquisition improves patient engagement and healthcare affordability and extends these capabilities to a broader customer base.”

Flywire is also announcing a $120 million Series E investment round led by Goldman Sachs, which will support Flywire’s ongoing investment in its multi-vertical strategy. This latest round brings the company’s total capital investment to $260 million. Tiger Global Management and Adage Capital also joined the round as new investors with participation from existing investors.

“We are thrilled to lead the Series E round for Flywire”, said Ashwin Gupta, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division. “They bring together a unique blend of a payments network, platform and vertical-specific solutions to completely digitize the payments experience for their clients across industries. We look forward to continuing to help accelerate Flywire’s growth.”

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Banks embrace cash recycling, ITMs to enhance branch ops

New ATM technologies, including cash recyclers, interactive teller machines and other devices that drive more efficient management of funds, are helping transform bank branches by saving considerable time and resources, according to experts speaking Wednesday at the ATMIA U.S. conference. 

Sean Farrell, CEO of QDS, a research firm that specializes in branch transformation and ATM technologies, said cash-recycling technology has demonstrated results, with cash-in-transit visits down 10% to 20% and service calls down anywhere from 25% to 30% due to reduced error rates. 

“So recycling, in the right environment, drives less interaction from staff or CIT with machine, leading to greater uptime, and allowing the device to serve a wider client base beyond just consumer/retail transactions,” he said. “The ability for the device to handle small business deposits, in extended hours formats, is a welcome [addition] of functionality to our banking clients.” 

Cash recyclers essentially take deposits from retail bank customers, including individual and particularly local retail and other small business account holders and automatically count those funds, sort them and then reuse them for cash withdrawals. 

The process helps reduce the amount required by tellers to handle large amounts of fund deposits, reduces the need to replenish ATMs in the branch, reduces the number of armed security visits to add cash to the machines and the additional functionality of many of these machines allow banks to shorten teller lines and serve customers more efficiently. 

Cash-recycling machines also help improve security as well, as tellers can cut back the amount of cash they need to maintain at their windows by up to 90%, while leaving most of the cash in a bank vault and reducing theft risk with less exposed cash. 

The major players in the U.S. market include Glory, ARCA, Hyosung and ATEC. Hyosung just in December introduced a line of cash-recycling machines that allow small businesses to drop off large amounts of cash during the day or during overnight hours. 

Hyosung told ATM Marketplace that it was getting significant interest from banking customers and had a large number of these new machines actively in circulation. 

Farrell also outlined some of the benefits of ITMs, which allow banks to offload up to 75% of their transactions to ITM’ that would normally require a teller. He said the ITMs help reduce the need for tube systems in many cases where a bank customer has to fill out a slip or put cash in a tube that is shipped to a teller behind a drive-up window. 

The ITMs allow banks to offer extended hours, where the physical branch is not required for extended hours, but the call center can connect interactive tells to the ITM customer and the bank can operate that system until 7 to 8 p.m. at night. The bank can also move additional services like car or mortgage payments to an ITM environment. 

During the session — moderated by Brenda Pino, vice president of physical channel operations at BMO Harris Bank N.A. — Tyler Beck, senior vice president and COO at Five Star Credit Union, provided metrics demonstrating how much ITMs were able to boost efficiencies at the bank. 

Five Star, a $500 million credit union with about 50,000 members in Georgia and Alabama, was able to move about 75% of branch transactions to a drive-thru using the ITM and after opening three new ITM branches in early 2019, at least two of those branches are among the top five branches at the entire company. The credit union was able to save $240,000 per year in labor cost savings.

“We’ve actually seen members transition from traditional branches to new technology branches,” Becksaid. 

The panel also included Brad Browder, CEO of HTx Services, and Calum Robinson, VP and head of consultancy of CMS Analytics.

Cover image: Five Star Credit Union

Despegar launches co-branded Visa card in Brazil with Banco Santander Corp., an online travel site for the Latin American market, has launched a co-branded Visa credit card with Banco Santander (Brazil) S.A. for its Brazilian subsidiary, Decolar.

The co-branded card will be used to complement the company’s loyalty program, and points accumulated through the program can be redeemed for travel-related products and services on the site. 

“With this initiative, Passaporte Decolar, Despegar’s loyalty program becomes one of the main rewards programs in Brazil, as the company further strengthens its strategy of deepening customer engagement and enhancing brand awareness,” Alexandre Moshe, general manager at Decolar, said in a company release. 

Despegar has 18 million customers in 20 countries in Latin America.  


Topics: Card Brands, Loyalty Programs, Mobile Apps, Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments, Region: Americas

Companies: Banco Santander, Visa

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Klarna gives the finger to tradition, empowering everyone to get what or who they loveöm-DDB_500.jpg/binary/original/webb-David Sandström - DDB_500.jpg?#

 2020 is a leap year — the one year in four when tradition says it is acceptable for women to propose to their partner on February 29.

 Shopping service Klarna believes everyone should get what they love, and not have their decisions dictated by outdated rules or traditions. Launching today, Klarna and fashion activist and celebrity stylist Bea Åkerlund, have released a pair of limited-edition rings — the Knight Finger and Unification — empowering everyone to propose when and how they want.

 “At Klarna, we believe everyone should get what they want in shopping and in life.” says David Sandström, CMO Klarna. “That’s why we have designed a pair of limited-edition rings that symbolise the beauty of getting what or who you love, without rules standing in your way.” he continues. 

 Åkerlund is known for her innovative, over-the-top style and work with A-List celebrities, including Madonna, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé and the two bespoke rings are anything but traditional. Both the Knight Finger and Unification rings are made of gold vermeil. The Knights Finger features 246 rose pink and four crystal stones in pavé settings whilst the Unification ring features a single crystal stone.

 “Life is full of principles and expectations on who to be and how to act. These rings were designed to inspire us all to fearlessly love on our own terms and cast aside traditions of the past to define our own futures.” says Åkerlund. “It’s an honour to fight for someone you love. Be the knight in shining armour.” she continues.

 Priced at $950.00 (Knight Ring) and $500.00 (Unification), both rings are available from February 12 for pre-order on as part of an exclusive partnership with HYPEBEAST. For more information visit here. All proceeds from the sale of the rings will go to Dress for Success, a global not-for-profit organisation that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

 Klarna is the pioneer and global leader of buy-now-pay-later and the future of shopping. With 85 million+ customers and 200,000+ merchants, Klarna allows consumers to purchase products that enhance their day-to-day lives, while creating a smoother way to shop and pay.

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Western Union launches $1M matching relief effort to fight coronavirus

Western Union launches $1M matching relief effort to fight coronavirus

Western Union announced a $1 million global matching challenge to fight the coronavirus outbreak and to provide relief for people in China and other impacted countries.The company, which will provide up to $500,000 in matching funds, is accepting donations from employees, customers, Western Union money transfer agents and the general public until April 14. Funds will be pledged to local and global NGO’s, including Give2Asia and International Medical Corp. 

“Western Union is a global company and we support our customers, employees and communities in times of need,” Western Union President Hikmet Ersek said in a company release. “The time is now for the global community to come together in support of communities affected by COVID-19.”

Donations through Western Union in the U.S. can be made using the Western Union mobile app and Western Union has a portal for public donations. 


Topics: Mobile Apps, Money Transfer / P2P

Companies: Western Union

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CIT upgrades POS loan platform for small biz purchases

CIT Group Inc. has released a new version of its real-time, point-of-sale financing platform for small businesses, according to a company press release. The platform, operated through the CIT Small Business Solutions unit, allows businesses to finance equipment and supply purchases of $2,500 or more through a seamless process and also works online and through mobile devices. 

“As digitally enabled sales continue to grow, businesses and their customers expect the same technology experience and service they are accustomed to in other aspects of their life,” Denise Menelly, executive vice president and head of technology and operations at CIT, said in the release.

The program allows customers to obtain financing from 12 to 60 months and has automated the process, using e-signatures and integration into e-commerce and customer relationship management platforms. 

Topics: In-App Payments, Mobile Payments, POS, Retail

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Tech Nation Announces The Winning Rising Stars Of Uk Tech

10 of the most exciting early-stage tech companies revealed as winners of Tech Nation’s Rising Stars competition

  • The only national early-stage scaleup competition in the UK
  • Rising Stars winners are from right across the UK, including Truro, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Southampton, Glasgow, Manchester and Cardiff
  • Selected by a panel of tech industry experts at the competition’s Grand Final, including techUK President, Jacqueline de Rojas, PrettyLittleThing co-founder Adam Kamani, and MD of Microsoft for Startups UK Amali de Alwis

Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, has today announced the 10 early-stage scaleup winners of its nationwide competition, Rising Stars.

 The Rising Stars competition is the only national early-stage tech scaleup competition in the UK, and is designed to showcase the most exciting companies at Seed to pre-Series A funding from all areas of the country. Tech Nation’s Rising Stars are on track to become the world leading tech companies of tomorrow – the UK is a world leader in producing successful tech companies, and is now home to 77 billion-dollar businesses, double that of Germany and almost four times as many as Israel. 

 The final 10 winners were revealed at the Rising Stars Grand Final in London last night which was the culmination of nationwide search that saw the 33 regional winners revealed in November, followed by the Semi-Final in Manchester last month where a panel of judges whittled the finalists down to 20 companies.

 At the Grand Final, the winners were required to pitch to a panel of industry leading judges, and in front of an audience of over 200 of the top venture capitalists, founders and corporates in the UK. The judging panel included techUK President, Jacqueline de Rojas, PrettyLittleThing co-founder Adam Kamani, and MD of Microsoft for Startups UK Amali de Alwis.

 In its second year, the competition received almost 400 applications in total, a 39% rise from 2018 and attracted a diverse group of founders – 30% of the original applicants have at least one female founder, and 90% of companies who entered the final are from outside of London.  Applicants were required to be at Seed to pre-Series A funding or generating annual revenues up to £1.5m.

 The competition’s prize package has been built in response to the challenges which are faced by companies at this stage of growth, for instance, access to networks and platforms for promotion. The prize package and the competition itself aims to raise the profile of the winners nationally and internationally. It includes one-to-one support, introductions to potential partners and investors and support from the programme partners, BDO Drive, Microsoft Advertising, Soldo, Talent Works International and TLT LLP.

 Previous Rising Stars winners include Tickr from Liverpool who went on to raise £1m through the Seedrs platform, SeedLegals who went on to raise Series A funding of over £3m led by SeedCamp and Kima Ventures, and Tended who raised £1.4m from Blackfinch Ventures and Minerva Angel Business Network. Other companies that took part in Rising Stars 1.0 have gone on to join Tech Nation growth programmes, including Kani and Heliocor who joined Fintech 2.0, and People Matter Technology who joined Tech Nation’s first Applied AI programme. 


 The Rising Stars winners:

Birmingham | Ecommerce & Marketplace | @shopperdotcom is a community driven global marketplace for online and offline voucher codes, covering thousands of e-commerce sites. It automatically applies the best value voucher code at checkout in one click for both mobile and desktop devices.

Cambridge | Devices & IoT | @FoundriesIO is addressing security and device management for IoT and Edge devices. FoundriesFactory is a self-service cloud solution that provides turnkey services to develop, secure, deploy and maintain embedded IoT and Edge compute products. They enable secure IoT devices and provide lifetime software maintenance at a fraction of current costs.


We Build Bots

Cardiff | AI | @wbb_ai

We Build Bots delivers AI powered automation to the public sector, helping organisations deliver better, faster and cheaper citizen services. Leveraging bots, voice and conversational analytics, they help the public sector make better use of the data they collect, making it more predictive and more productive. 



Edinburgh | Tech for Good | @neatebox

Tackling personal loneliness and communication, the Neatebox “Welcome” platform removes barriers and promotes empathetic relationships between consumers and customer service teams, promoting real societal change and heralding a new age of understanding and communication.


Talking Medicines

Glasgow | Healthtech & Biotech | @TMedicines

Talking Medicines captures the digital voice of the patient, aggregating it into patterns of behaviours and commercialising it to brand managers in pharmaceutical companies through subscription access. They put patient centricity at the core of what they do, aiming to improve outcomes of medicines.



London | Tech for Good | @hypdev

CoGrammar operates the largest coding education provider in Africa – HyperionDev. Through this, they source, select, train, and integrate full-time code reviewers from top African tech talent. This allows Western companies to affordably assess developers and technical team quality, whilst creating hundreds of jobs in African countries.



London | Fintech | @ClearGlassL

ClearGlass is a digital intermediary between asset managers and pension funds. It collects underlying costs and performance data from asset managers and helps pension funds decide which is the best fund to invest in for their members.



Manchester | SaaS | @tootootofficial

tootoot is award-winning software that supports the psychological safety and wellbeing of individuals within education, sport and the workplace. tootoot provides a way for individuals to raise a concern to their organisation with complete confidentiality.



Southampton | SaaS |

Working in the retail and fashion space, Sparkbox uses machine learning to reduce stock, improve profitability, and prevent over-discounting by optimising prices. Their AI helps retail teams leverage their data, understand the impact of pricing decisions and make the most of the inventory they own. 


Codices Interactive

Truro | Digital Entertainment | @quizkit

Codices Interactive provides viewers with a live interactive video platform, enabling any broadcaster to create interactive shows. Its first product is now the most used gameshow creation tool on the Twitch platform, with 1,000+ monthly active broadcasters and 300,000 unique monthly viewers.


The judging panel:

Amali de Alwis, MD, Microsoft for Startups UK

Adam Kamani, CEO KM Capital, Kamani Property Group and Co-Founder of PrettyLittleThing

Ed Prior, Tech Investment Banker, GP Bullhound

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK

Denise Xifara, Co-Founder, GMG Ventures

Michael Stothard, Editor, Sifted


The prize package:

  • Business plan diagnostic, delivered by accounting and business advisory firm, BDO
  • Pitch training and coaching by Sunderland Software City
  • Opportunity to pitch your business in front of over 200 investors, accelerators, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders
  • Induction into the Rising Stars alumni network
  • Speaking opportunities, thought leadership and press through the Tech Nation network
  • Complimentary TLT Legalsifter subscription with onboarding
  • Microsoft Advertising coupon worth £200 and Azure credits of $1500
  • Complimentary annual subscription to Soldo and Xero
  • Recruitment process analysis, reporting and recommendations by Talent Works International


Digital Minister Matt Warman said: “It’s great to see such a diverse group of entrepreneurs from all over the UK involved in this competition and I’m excited to find out what’s next for these world-leading tech firms of tomorrow. This government is committed to making sure the UK is the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business. We’ve worked hard to develop a business friendly environment, a reputation for innovation and the ability to attract the best talent from across the globe.”


Mike Jackson, Entrepreneur Success Director, Tech Nation, commented: “The Rising Stars announced today are great examples of the strength of the UK tech ecosystem. The winners highlight that innovation, determination and ambition in this fast growing sector can be found right across  the UK.  What the Rising Stars competition, and indeed Tech Nation, does is provide a platform to showcase these exciting and innovative companies.”

 Esme Caulfield, Competitions Lead, Tech Nation, commented: “It’s incredibly exciting to see how the Tech Nation Rising Stars competition has grown in the last year.  The standard of companies from all parts of the UK has been impressive at every stage. I’m looking forward to following the winners’ future successes and continuing to support them in their growth journey.”

Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK, commented: “As we face explosive shifts in technology, platforms and fast moving markets, we must look outwards not inwards towards those who embrace the dynamic shifts in the way we embrace our digital future. What we have seen today changes the definition of what flexibility and being quick to change means. I’m excited and optimistic about the contribution they can make to what comes next… #TechMatters.

Amali de Alwis, MD, Microsoft for Startups UK, commented: “It’s fantastic to see so many incredible companies among this year’s Rising Stars. They are an incredible representation of the innovation and talent we have here in the UK, and delighted that we at Microsoft are able to join them in celebrating their success.”

Adam Kamani, Partner, KM Capital, commented:“At KM Capital, we’re always looking out for the country’s great, new emerging tech start-ups, so it’s been a great honour to be on the judging panel of the Tech Nation Rising Stars awards tonight. The high calibre and out-of-the-box approach shown by the nominees has been really inspiring to see and I wish them all well in their journeys and development over the next year.”

Ritesh Singhania

Ritesh Singhania, CEO, ClearGlass, commented: “We are growing at a pace faster than we thought we would in our start-up journey and recognition from Tech Nation is definitely a strong endorsement.”


Tim Edwards

Tim Edwards, CEO, Codices, commented: “We are delighted to represent the South West and Cornwall in the final with it’s rapidly growing tech start-up scene. The timing is great as we are just closing our latest investment round.”

Riaz Moola

Riaz Moola, CEO, CoGrammar commented: “We are proud to represent our model of scaling African tech talent to the world as a British tech startup with the support of Tech Nation.”


George Grey

George Grey, CEO,, commented: “We are delighted that has been recognized as a winner at the 2020 Rising Stars Final event, and we look forward to bringing our secure IoT software platform to more customers as we grow over the coming years.”

gavin neate

Gavin Neate, CEO & Founder, neatebox, commented: “Neatebox winning TechNations Rising Stars underlines the changing face of society and its willingness to look at the growing need for high growth companies addressing societies greatest challenges. As our company grows we will most certainly see this win as a milestone in our journey and look forward to increased interest in our company and its solutions.”

Sonu Bubna, Co-founder & CEO,, commented: “We’re delighted to be a winner of Tech Nation’s Rising Star Competition. As we just kickstarted our fundraising, it will certainly give a boost to our profile among the investor community.”


Lindsay Fisher

Lindsay Fisher, Co-founder, Sparkbox, commented: “The Sparkbox team is thrilled to have been considered one of the most promising startups among such an impressive group of finalists. We’re grateful for this opportunity to showcase our product and our progress just as we turn our attention to scaling. We’re particularly proud to have represented the exciting new technology emerging in the retail sector in this year’s competition.”

Jo Halliday

Jo Halliday, CEO, Talking Medicines, commented: “We are totally delighted to have won this prize, thank you to Tech Nation & well done to our hard working team. Having the opportunity to tell our story at this event is a huge opportunity as we enter our new funding round. We look forward to the rest of 2020.”


Michael Brennan, CO-founder & CEO, tootoot, commented: “We are delighted to be putting the North on the map! We are on a mission to make organisations happier and safer places around the world and having just secured our first VC seed investment, we are excited to launch our new SaaS platform for Enterprise and SME.”

Georgia Darzins

Georgia Darzins, Marketing & Sales Executive, We Build Bots, commented: “We’re thrilled to be one of the companies to represent digital innovation in Wales, a beautiful country that deserves a bigger place on the Global stage. So far, we have made great strides in public sector digital transformation, and we’re headed into 2020 determined to leverage AI to transform the way in which public services are delivered.”

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This Week in Fintech ending 14 February 2020

week with pics BL.001

This weekly summary from our 5 experts, brings you insights based on their experience as investors, entrepreneurs & executives.

Ilias Hatzis started his first company, an internet search engine, during the dot-com era & now focusses on crypto.

Efi Pylarinou worked for top tier Wall Street firms and is now a top global Fintech influencer.

Jessica Ellerm is CEO of Zuper Superannuation & previously worked for a top Fintech startup, Tyro.

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners.

Bernard Lunn is CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy.

If you want to continue receiving This Week in Fintech, you can either become a paying Member for $143 per year (and receive all our content in addition to this weekly summary) by clicking here.  If you just want to receive This Week in Fintech for free, you will need to fill in this form. Or fill in the same sign up form at the bottom of this post.

Your Editor is Bernard Lunn. He is also the CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy.

Monday Ilias Hatzis @iliashatzis our Greece-based crypto entrepreneur (Founder & CEO at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and Weekly Columnist at Daily Fintech) wrote The Digital Wallets of the Future: Money and Identity

Cryptocurrency wallets have been closely linked to other transactional services. A digital wallet refers to an electronic device or online service that allows someone to make electronic transactions. Usually they are bundled with other services, like exchanges (Coinbase, Binance), physical devices (Trezor, Ledger), or other services (Casa). What if cryptocurrency wallets weren’t just about storing digital assets, but were about identity, serving as a single passport to both the physical and digital world?

Editor note:The word wallet is confusing in a Cryptocurrency sense. The analogy to a physical wallet is confusing. That is a custodial wallet aka a bank. In a decentralized world a wallet is a gateway – very powerful but very different.  


Tuesday Efi Pylarinou @efipm our Swiss-based Fintech Adviser,  founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019 wrote Facts & Figures of Amazon lending and the Goldman Sachs X-factor

One can`t be a banking analyst or an automobile industry analyst anymore, with the same silo-ed focus required over the past decades. Industry-specific analysts bring a lot of experience from their respective sectors but lack the insights of innovative business models enabled by the `future technologies` (that are already here by the way).

Editor note: This is an interesting take on how two behemoths – one Tech and one Fin – are converging on the same space and may compete or collaborate. 


Wednesday Jessica Ellerm @jessicaellerm, our Australia-based Fintech entrepreneur and thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy & CEO/Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia wrote Australian Fintech Assembly Payments Lands JV with Standard Chartered Bank

Australian fintech Assembly Payments has announced it has entered into a 50/50 JV with multinational bank Standard Chartered, to create a new global ecommerce company that will be underpinned by Assembly’s technology. The move isn’t the first offshore foray for the Australian based fintech, who has a number of international clients on its register, along with home-grown ecommerce talent. 

Editor note: Full stack Fintech that serve consumers & businesses need to be regulated one jurisdiction at a time. Tech ventures that offer a platform to such regulated entities can globalize a lot faster. 


Thursday Patrick Kelahan @insuranceeleph1, our US based Insurtech expert (a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners who also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’) wrote Pulling back the curtain to shine light on ‘scary’ insurance phrases

Reinsurance/ILS, Blockchain, and insurance financials.  Not quite lions, tigers, and bears, but for many who follow insurance the three concepts are as daunting and pose discomfort in understanding. Why then the mention?  Because in an earlier social media post I noted that the three words do not generate a lot of media content traffic, and if there is a related posting, not much response.  A wise connection dropped the key hint to that puzzle- the words need to be discussed in context that makes sense to the reader.  A cool idea, Modern Accelerator.

Editor note: The hard responsibilities and complexities of reinsurance makes the simplistic idea of new full stack regulated Insurtech ventures problematic. Yet customers want and expect innovation. This post is great for somebody who really wants to understand Insurance.


Friday  Bernard Lunn, CEO of Daily Fintech and author of The Blockchain Economy, wrote: Security Token News for week ending 14 February 2020.

Editor note: This weekly snapshot is the news that matters for busy senior people in the Security Token market.


To continue receiving ‘This Week in Fintech’, the weekly recap of our articles, you will need to fill this form to give us consent to send this to you. Please note that Daily Fintech requires your organizational email address (e.g. corporate, educational or government) and your LinkedIn URL. This information is required for subscribers who want ‘This Week in Fintech’ for free. If you prefer to not provide this information, you can still receive all our content by becoming a paying member.

BofA integrates digital SMB tool with third-party platforms

Bank of America is enhancing the capabilities of its digital cash management tool for small businesses, Business Advantage 360, by integrating with third-party platforms, including QuickBooks, Run Powered by ADP, G Suite by Google Cloud and Google Analytics.  

Sharon Miller

“Businesses go out of business many times because they don’t manage their cash flow properly,” said Sharon Miller, head of small business at Bank of America. “Business Advantage 360 was developed to help business owners manage their cash flow. In the first iteration, it only pulled together what they had at our institution.”  

The bank, which rolled out the upgrades last week, said it aims to create a better customer experience for small business clients with the integrations, as the accounting and payroll data from the third-party platforms can deliver more accurate cash flow predictions. Miller said the improvements will also help small business bankers understand their clients better. 

Business Advantage 360, an online tool available through desktop and mobile, provides business clients with real-time cash flow analysis and projections by examining data like credits, debits and new sales. The bank said in a statement more than 1 million business clients have used Business Advantage 360 since it launched in February 2019. The new integrations have been in the works at Bank of America for almost a year. 

See also: Digital and human: Inside BofA’s small business strategy

Miller said the upgrades improve service by making conversations with bank advisers more relevant. She said accounting and payroll information from third-party platforms gives advisers a better picture of business clients’ financials. She added that the bank has grown from about 1,200 small business bankers in 2015 to more than 2,200 today.  

Business Advantage 360

According to Miller, more than 12 million business owners bank with Bank of America in some form; some clients only use small business features, while the majority use retail banking functions, and just over 1 million use both. Because business owners use the bank through different channels, it is launching a single sign-on feature so clients can view their business and retail accounts in one place. The bank has already started rolling out the feature and plans to have it widely available by Feb. 20.  

Miller said Bank of America has more than 400,000 members in its Preferred Rewards for Business program, which offers business clients rewards, such as higher savings account interest rates and discounts on business loans. The bank said in a statement it had originated more than $9.2 billion in new small business loans last year, a 7% increase from 2018. 

Banks are increasingly trying to use cash analysis tools and third-party integrations to improve their small business offerings. RBC, for example, provides AI-based insights to business clients, while BBVA’s small business banking platform Azlo integrates with accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero.  

Bank Innovation Ignite, which will take place March 2-3 in Seattle, is a must-attend industry event for professionals overseeing financial technologies, product experiences and services. This is an exclusive, invitation-only event for executives eager to learn about the latest innovations. Request your invitation.

Security Token news for Week ending 14 February 2020

Security Token news for Week ending 7 February 2020

Here is our pick of the 3 most important Security Tokens news stories during the week:

One. Ethereum-based FLYT is First Property-backed Security Token in Africa

On February 8th, 2020, Flyt Property Investment announced the launch of Africa’s first-ever security token backed by property. The firm partnered with technology provider Bakari to create FLYT security tokens which are equivalent to one share in the Flyt Hospitality Fund.

Curator’s Note: We take the security of property for granted in the West, but property title is a problem for billions in the Rest of the World. So the fact that this Security Token is from Africa is significant. 

Two. Small German Bank to Offer Tokenized Securities

Munich-based Bankhaus von der Heydt has partnered with blockchain financial services provider Bitbond to help integrate tokenization into its securitization platform.  The partnership will allow the bank to tokenize digital securities onto the Stellar blockchain, which it can offer to institutional clients via private placements.

Curator’s Note: Deployment is expected in April. The Bank plans to offer customers a custody solution for tokenized equity developed by Bitbond and the Bank in 2019. The solution received approval from the German financial regulator.  Bitbond received German regulatory approval for its tokenized bond in January 2019, launching Germany’s first regulated security token offering later that year.

Three. Swiss Company OverFuture Gets Green Light for a Blockchain IPO

In what’s being called a first for Switzerland, OverFuture has been allowed to incorporate for an initial public offering (IPO) of tokenized shares on the blockchain.

Curator’s Note: The firm’s IPO prospectus indicates an offering of 8,399,000 “common equity share security tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, with smart contracts provided by EURO DAXX, a digital assets exchange based in the country’s “Crypto Valley” city of Zug.

We have a self-imposed constraint of 3 news stories each week because we serve busy senior leaders in Fintech who need just enough information to get on with their job.

For context on Security Tokens please read the chapter on Security Tokens in our Blockchain Economy book and read articles tagged Security Tokens in our archives. 

You get 3 free articles on Daily Fintech. After that you will need to become a member for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day) and get all our fresh content and our archives and participate in our forum.