Apple launches its contactless payment service in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Apple Inc. introduced its contactless payment service in South Africa on Tuesday, as the global tech giant looks to cash in on the mobile payments boom in the country.

The use of digital finance and payments systems has surged in South Africa and elsewhere as the coronavirus crisis has prompted a shift towards e-commerce and contactless payments.

Apple Pay has joined Samsung’s digital wallet offering, Samsung Pay, which was launched in South Africa in 2018.

Apple said it had launched the service without giving details.

The service is available via three South African banks, namely Absa Group, Nedbank Group and Discovery Bank, which is part of the Discovery group.

Fintech startup Feedzai valued at $1 billion in KKR-led funding round

LONDON (Reuters) – Financial technology group Feedzai said on Wednesday it had raised $200 million in a round led by investment company KKR valuing the startup at more than $1 billion.

Existing investors, including Sapphire Ventures and Citi Ventures, also participated in the round, the San Mateo, California-headquartered company said.

Feedzai develops artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that helps banks and other financial firms to spot and prevent payments fraud, money laundering and other types of illicit activities.

The company, whose engineering and product operations are based in Portugal, will use the money to speed up its global expansion and expand its product range, it said.

The use of digital banking and payments is booming globally, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic which has led both consumers and businesses to conduct more activities online.

The rapid digital shift has led to an increase in online financial crime. Consumers faced a 650% increase in account takeover scams and a 250% increase in online banking fraud attacks in the last quarter of 2020 compared with a year earlier, based on a Feedzai study.

This has led banks to look for new technology to help to automate and improve some of the checks needed to spot and prevent online crime.

“Financial crime moves fast, 2020 and the global pandemic accelerated that even further,” said Nuno Sebastiao, CEO and chairman of Feedzai. “To stay ahead, the product and research need to be faster, and that is what we’re investing in.” He added that acquisitions were an option.

Feedzai’s clients include large companies such as Citigroup Inc, Fiserv Inc and Banco Santander, as well as well known fintechs such as SoFi.

Futures point to gains for tech-related stocks as bond yields ease

(Reuters) – Futures tracking the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose on Monday, with heavyweight technology stocks set to rebound after a surge in bond yields in recent weeks sparked a flight from richly valued equities.

A sharp run up in Treasury yields since mid-February has dictated the course of equities trading, while weighing on high-growth tech stocks, whose valuations look stretched.

Futures tied to the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 climbed about 0.9% to start the week. The index is still down more than 6% from its Feb. 12 record closing high.

The S&P 500 and the Dow, however, clinched all-time highs as early as last week on bets that stimulus and vaccine rollouts would lead to a strong rebound in the U.S. economy.

Kansas City Southern jumped about 17% after Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd agreed to acquire the railroad operator in a $25 billion cash-and-stock deal to create the first railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada.

At 06:34 a.m. ET, Dow E-minis were down 79 points, or 0.24%, S&P 500 E-minis were up 1.75 points, or 0.04% and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 106.75 points, or 0.83%.

Intel Corp, Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc led gains among Dow components in trading before the bell.

Big U.S. lenders including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America, which have enjoyed a rally on brightening economic prospects, slipped about 1% each.

The iShares MSCI Turkey ETF sank about 19% as President Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to oust a hawkish central bank governor sparked fears of a reversal of recent rate hikes.

Flutterwave teams up with PayPal on African payments

LAGOS (Reuters) – Fintech company Flutterwave has teamed up with U.S. payments giant PayPal to enable PayPal customers pay African merchants through its platform, the Africa-focused payments firm said on Tuesday.

The collaboration will connect small and medium enterprises with the more than 377 million PayPal account holders globally, Flutterwave said, eliminating the barrier to cross-border commerce.

Flutterwave’s integration with PayPal will be operational across 50 African countries and worldwide, it said in a statement.

Online payments got a boost with the COVID-19 pandemic as people rely on mobile apps for shopping and paying bills.

Like other companies in the digital payments sector, San Jose, California-based PayPal has profited from the boom in online transactions that pushed more business into the virtual realm.

Flutterwave has said it is positioning to be an African payment platform for multinationals entering new markets. Founded in 2016 by Nigerians and headquartered in San Francisco, the firm has processed over 140 million transactions.

CEO and co-founder Olugbenga Agboola told Reuters last week that Flutterwave could consider a New York listing after it raised $170 million from investors to expand its customer base, pushing its valuation up to more than $1 billion.

Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The blank check firm co-founded by one of the most prominent U.S. financial technology investment bankers will broaden its search for merger partners to companies worth up to $10 billion after pricing a larger initial public offering (IPO).

Steve McLaughlin started FT Partners in 2001 and since then, the fintech-focused investment bank has worked on mergers and acquisitions and public and private fundraising for the likes of BlackRock Inc, StoneCo Ltd and GreenSky Inc.

An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, McLaughlin and FT Partners have also been involved in advising a half-dozen firms in mergers with so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), most recently mobile bank MoneyLion’s $2.9 billion combination with Fusion Acquisition Corp.

Alongside Gene Yoon, founder of technology-focused investment firm Bregal Sagemount, McLaughlin is now sponsoring his own SPAC. Independence Holdings Corp priced a $435 million IPO on Monday, having increased the number of units sold due to investor demand.

SPACs are shell companies that raise funds from investors to take a private company public.

Pulling in extra cash and fully exercising the greenshoe, a share allotment potentially sold in the days after an IPO prices, McLaughlin told Reuters on Tuesday, will allow Independence to target larger fintech companies, beyond the $5 billion maximum size previously considered.

He added a deal involving a company that processes payments between businesses, or one providing financial management services, would be likely for Independence.

“We provide an incredibly attractive option for a company as we’ve successfully taken many companies through this complex process, so we can give comfort to founders and investors along the way,” McLaughlin said.

Despite heightened investor interest in cryptocurrencies, McLaughlin said Independence wouldn’t be investing in a firm in that industry because most businesses are still too early in their development.

He added it was highly unlikely that Independence would end up merging with a client of his investment bank.