Chime now has 5 million customers and introduces overdraft alternative – gpgmail


Challenger bank Chime has reached 5 million customers in the U.S. The San Francisco-based startup is creating an FDIC-insured mobile bank without any physical branch. The company also promises less fees.

Back in March, Chime said it had 3 million customers when it announced its $200 million Series D round. So that’s 2 million additional customers in roughly 5 months.

Chime says that it is the fastest growing challenger bank in the world. In other words, the company is throwing shade at European challenger banks, such as Monzo and N26, that have been doing really well too. N26 just entered the U.S. market.

The company is also rolling out a new feature that it has been testing for a while. Chime SpotMe is an alternative to bank overdrafts. It is specifically targeted at people who deposit their paycheck into their Chime account but also live paycheck to paycheck.

Chime users who receive payroll direct deposit of at least $500 per month can sign up to Chime SpotMe. After that, you can keep spending with your debit card even if your balance goes below $0. Your overdraft limit will depend on multiple factors but some users will be able to overdraw their account by $100.

When you next paycheck arrives, your negative balance is paid back and you don’t pay any overdrafts fee. The company says that you can also optionally leave a tip to help other Chime users make both ends meet.


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Accion Venture Lab launches $23M inclusive fintech startup fund – gpgmail


Accion Venture Lab—the seed-stage investment arm of non-profit Accion—has raised $23 million for a new inclusive fintech startup fund.

The Accion Venture Lab Limited Partnership, as its called, will make seed-stage investments in inclusive fintech startups, defined as ventures that “that leverage technology to increase the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the under-served at scale,” per a company release.

The new fund was raised with capital contributions from a number of participants, including the Ford Foundation, Visa Inc. and Proparco—the development finance institution of the French government.

The additional $23 million brings Accion Venture Lab‘s total capital under management to $42 million.

The new LP fund will consider startups from any geography, as along as they meet specific criteria. Overall, Accion Venture Lab doesn’t have regional investment quotas, but does look to allocate roughly 25 to 30 percent of its funds to Africa, Accion Venture Lab Managing Director Tahira Dosani told gpgmail on a call.

“We want to continue to focus on Latin-America, on Sub-Saharan Africa, on Southeast Asia as well as in the U.S. It really is about…where we see the need and the opportunity across the markets that we’re in,” she said.

In line with Accion’s mandate to boost financial inclusion globally, Accion Venture Lab already has a portfolio of 36 fintech startup investments across 5 continents—including 9 in the U.S., 8 in Latin America, and 8 in India.

“Our goal is to really be the that first institutional investor in the companies we invest in. That’s were we see the biggest capital gap. And it’s where we build capability and expertise,” Dosani said. In 2018, Accion Venture Lab successfully exited Indian fintech company Aye Finance, following exits in 2017 and 2016.

This year Accion Venture Lab supported a $6.5 million Series A investment in Lulalend, a South African startup that uses internal credit metrics to provide short-term loans to SMEs that are often unable to obtain working capital.

Accion’s new LP fund will follow past practice and make investments typically in the $500,000 range. It will start sourcing startups immediately through its investment leads around the world and already made its first seed financing to U.S. venture Joust—a fintech platform for gig economy workers.

Accion Venture Lab’s LP fund is the first time the organization has pooled third-party investment capital, according to a spokesperson.

On the appeal for those contributing, Dosani named Accion’s geographic reach and experience. “We think that’s our strength, because we’re able to invest in similar business models across different markets. And we’re able to bring that knowledge from one market to another,” she said.

The Ford Foundation contributed $2 million, according to an email from Christine Looney, Deputy Director, Mission Investments. Visa didn’t disclose its capital contribution, but told gpgmail it will play a role in governance through its participation in a Limited Partners Advisory Committee for the new fund.

As a point of observation, Accion Venture Lab stands out as a fund for giving an equal pitch footing to fintech ventures across frontier, emerging, and developed markets from Lagos to London.

Accion’s new LP fund—along with the organization’s commitment to make nearly a third of its investments in Africa—means more capital to digital finance startups on the continent. By a number of estimates, Africa’s 1.2 billion people still represent the largest share of the world’s unbanked and underbanked population.

 

 

 


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Bunq simplifies group payment tracking and adds analytics – gpgmail


European challenger bank Bunq is announcing a handful of updates today. You now get a better overview of your account with more insights on how you spend money. If you’re going on vacation with someone else, you can now choose to automatically add transactions to a Slice Group. There are also improvement to VAT management for business users.

Slice Groups are shared accounts for owners of the Bunq Travel Card. You can create a group with multiple Bunq users and then add expenses to the group. You can’t add money to a Slice Group directly. It is essentially a group accounting feature that lets you keep track of who paid for what, who has a positive balance and who has a negative balance.

While you could easily add Bunq transactions to a group, you still had to manually add them every time there are some new transactions. You can now turn on AutoSlice, a feature that lets you temporarily add all card transactions to a Slice Group.

In other news, Bunq wants to give you more information about your spending habits. It starts with a new feature called Bunq Insights. As the name suggests, your payments are now automatically categorized so that you can see a breakdown of what you do with your money.

When you travel, Bunq now gives you information about your travel destination, such as the exchange rate as well as tips and tricks for that country. Bunq users can add recommendations for other Bunq users.

And if you’re always wondering if you’re spending too much money after getting paid, Bunq now tries to predict how much money you’ll have left at the end of the month. The company analyzes your past transactions to predict how much you’re going to spend over the coming weeks.

Finally, Bunq is updating AutoVAT for business users who have to deal with VAT in Europe. In addition to setting aside VAT you’ll have to pay back, the app now counts how much VAT you’ve paid so far so that you know how much you can reclaim. By combining these two figures, you get the exact VAT amount for your taxes.


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Revolut ramps up customer support with plans to hire 400 people in Porto – gpgmail


Fintech startup Revolut has been growing like crazy and now has 6 million customers. The company has to scale its support team accordingly. That’s why Revolut just announced plans to open a customer operations centre in Porto, Portugal.

There are already 70 people working for Revolut in Porto. Eventually, Revolut plans to hire 400 people in the country. They’ll work on customer support, complaints, investigations and compliance.

And Revolut has been quite successful in Portugal so far. There are currently 250,000 Revolut customers in Portugal, and the company is adding 1,000 new customers per day in the country.

It should help when it comes to hiring local talent. The company is also hiring a growth manager, a communication and PR lead and a community manager in Portugal. Ricardo Macieira, the new growth manager, is the former country manager for Airbnb in Portugal. Rebeca Venâncio, the communication and PR lead, has worked for Microsoft in Portugal. And Miguel Costa, the community manager, has worked for Mog and Nomad Tech.

Earlier this summer, Revolut also announced plans to open a tech hub in Berlin. Originally founded in London, Revolut is slowly building multiple offices across the U.K. and Europe in order to attract local talent.


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N26 launches Shared Spaces and is now fully available in the U.S. – gpgmail


Challenger bank N26 is announcing two things this week. First, the company lets you share sub-accounts with other N26 users in just a few taps. Second, after a limited beta test, the company is officially launching in the U.S. with open registration.

Shared Spaces could be seen as an alternative to joint accounts. The feature could be particularly useful for groups with more than 2 persons and situations that temporarily require a shared account. For instance, you could use Shared Spaces for a vacation, to split bills with your roommates, etc.

Only a small subset of the company’s user base can access the feature for now. N26 plans to gradually roll out Shared Spaces to all users.

The company is building this feature on top of Spaces. This feature has been around for a while. It lets you create a sub-account and set aside some money in that separate sub-account. You can set savings goal and transfer money on a regular basis.

Shares Spaces is basically a multiplayer version of Spaces. When a user creates a Space, they can invite up to 10 other N26 users to that Space. While the original user remains the owner of the Space, other users can freely deposit and withdraw money from the shared account.

Sending an invite is the equivalent of granting a power of attorney on a Space. The admin of the Shared Space is the only person who can add and remove participant to the Shared Space. So it’s not technically a joint account as joint accounts have multiple owners.

Interestingly, N26 is launching this as a premium feature. You need a premium N26 account in order to create a Shared Space, such as an N26 You subscription (€9.90 per month) or an N26 Metal subscription (€16.90 per month). You can invite free users, but free users are limited to two active Spaces. Those limitations will most certainly foster premium subscriptions.

Unfortunately, you can’t spend money from a Shared Space directly for now. Your card and bank transfers remain tied to your main N26 account. You have to tap on a transaction and tap on “Pay back from a space” to get your money back from a Shared Space.

N26 co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf told me that there could be a feature that lets you attach different cards to different Spaces in the future.

1907 Shared spaces PR 3 EN

When it comes to the U.S., N26 started accepting customers in the U.S. in early July. And it looks like it’s been working well as anyone in the U.S. can now download the app and open a bank account. N26 is also launching MoneyBeam in the U.S., a Venmo-like feature that lets you instantly send money to other N26 users.

N26 is also launching perks in the U.S. You’ll get small discounts on some monthly subscriptions if you pay with your N26 card. Current partners include Aaptiv, Blinkist, Luminary and Tidal.

I already coved the U.S. launch back in July, so head over to my previous article to learn more.

N26 US App and Card


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Revolut launches stock trading in limited release – gpgmail


Fintech startup Revolut is launching its stock trading feature today. It’s a Robinhood-like feature that lets you buy and sell shares without any commission. For now, the feature is limited to some Revolut customers with a Metal card.

While Robinhood has completely changed the stock trading retail market in the U.S., buying shares hasn’t changed much in Europe. Revolut wants to make it easier to invest on the stock market.

After topping up your Revolut account, you can buy and hold shares directly from the Revolut app. For now, the feature is limited to 300 U.S.-listed stocks on NASDAQ and NYSE. The company says that it plans to expand to U.K. and European stocks as well as Exchange Traded Funds.

There’s no minimum limit on transactions, which means that you can buy fractional shares for $1 for instance. You can see real-time prices in the Revolut app.

When it comes to fees, Revolut doesn’t charge any fee indeed, but with some caveats. The feature is currently limited to Revolut Metal customers for now. It currently costs £12.99 per month or €13.99 per month to become a Metal customer.

As long as you make less than 100 trades per month, you don’t pay anything other than your monthly subscription. Any trade above that limit costs £1 per trade and an annual custody fee of 0.01%.

Eventually, Revolut will roll out stock trading to other subscription tiers. Revolut Premium will get 8 commission-free trades per month and basic Revolut users will get 3 commission-free trades per month.

Behind the scene, Revolut has partnered with DriveWealth for this feature. This is a nice addition for existing Revolut users. You don’t have to open a separate account with another company and Metal customers in particular get a lot of free trades.


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Clearbanc co-founder and president Michele Romanow is coming to Disrupt SF – gpgmail


Raising venture capital isn’t easy; for some, it’s impossible.

Clearbanc offers startups a fundraising alternative and in just a few short years, it’s become a household name in Silicon Valley circles. The company disrupts the startup funding process by providing companies cash to buy ads in exchange for a revenue share so those companies aren’t forced to give up equity to venture capitalists. 

2019 has been Clearbanc’s year. It was only natural to invite Romanow to join us on stage at Disrupt SF. Romanow will discuss the funding landscape for startups, Clearbanc’s plans to deploy billions of dollars, as well as a breakdown of when to raise equity cash vs. non-dilutive capital. Alongside Brex CEO Henrique Dubugras, Romanow will also talk through serving startups as customers.

This year alone, the company, under Romanow’s lead, launched a campaign to back 2,000 businesses with $1 billion in non-dilutive capital by the end of 2019, raised $120 million across three different equity rounds and just this week, announced a $250 million fund to continue backing startups through its rev-share model.

Romanow’s career took off as an angel investor on the Canadian version of Shark Tank, Dragons’ Den. Together with co-founder Andrew D’Souza, she started Clearbanc in 2015 with a goal of helping more founders maintain control of their company through larger equity stakes. In conversation with gpgmail earlier this year, she and D’Souza explained that some 40% of VC dollars end up going to Facebook and Google for digital ad campaigns. That capital, they said, should be put into hiring and other scaling efforts. 

“We are essentially a non-dilutive co-investor,” Romanow said. “VC takes time; it’s a lot of nos and you’re really giving up equity that you can never get back.”

“A lot of founders in the early days don’t calculate what their equity could be worth,” she added. “Like the first $250,000 in Uber is worth $1 billion now.”

Clearbanc, founded less than four years ago, has already put hundreds of millions of dollars in its pockets and like Brex, it has ambitions to support each and every startup out there. Brex and Clearbanc’s leaders will undoubtedly provide a conversation on the state of startups & fintech that can’t be missed.

Disrupt SF runs October 2 – October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here.


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