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ING's fintech bet: ING has formed ING Ventures, which has earmarked EUR300 million to invest in fintech startups. The bank will fund the venture, which will look for companies that are already active, and are working in markets where ING has a presence or views as an expansion target. The bank considers partnering and investing in fintech as vital to accelerating digital services. It has already invested in or partnered with 115 fintechs, and is pursuing transaction technology such as blockchain and social P-to-P payments. Banks are under pressure to partner with technology startups as a way to get out in front of pending data-sharing "open banking" rules such as PSD2. The market is large enough that Oracle has built an open technology development kit to help banks connect with fintechs and other banks have started making investments. "As we see changes in the external environment happen faster and faster, we have to anticipate and step up our pace as well," said Benoit Legrand, global head of fintech at ING, who has been appointed CEO of ING Ventures, in a release.

Image: Bloomberg News
Image: Bloomberg News

A fine solution: PayNearMe has partnered with the New York Department of Finance to allow people to pay for parking tickets in cash at more than 100 7-Eleven locations in all five boroughs, many of which are open at all hours. The move is designed to address a glut of parking fine transactions that are processed directly through the city—more than 230,000 in 2016 alone. Similar to PayNearMe's other collaborations with convenience stores, consumers use a code to pay in cash at 7-Eleven, which then completes the electronic payment through a PayNearMe link, in this case to the city government. The parking tickets include instructions to go to a city website to receive codes for new or unpaid balances. Payments post in about 15 minutes and have a $2.99 fee. "With a significant number of payment locations, people can pay their fines anytime, day or night. It also removes the strain from city offices and automates the payment process so payments post on time and money can be put back to work," said Mike Kaplan, senior vice president of merchant processing for PayNearMe, in a release.

Patreon courts techie creators: Artist crowdfunding site Patreon is adding ways to connect content creators to the consumers who use Patreon to fund the artists' ongoing work. An app directory has integrations that allow content creators to build a WordPress website, automatically connect apps to Patreon with Zapier, give patrons (funders) unique access on Discourse, offer patron-only chat rooms on Discord and a pending feature that allows content creators to add patrons to Slack. The developer portal will offer APIs that allow users to move data from Patreon to their own tools; and power web experiences that content creators can build for their patrons. Patreon has been busy recently; it changed its standards policy to tighten rules governing adult content, and is adjusting to changes in YouTube advertising policies that could potentially pressure some of its newer creators.

Another tough break for Monzo: Monzo's prepaid customers have again had troubles making payments due to a processing glitch, following similar problems earlier in the year that caused the U.K. fintech to change its technology strategy. It's also had issues with suppliers and card inventory that have impacted its payments business. The latest incident involves a third-party glitch, causing Monzo to issue an update on its work to build an internal processor to avoid similar problems in the future. Monzo tested the internal processor over the past four months with 20,000 users and did not suffer outages. It's currently migrating all of its customers to the new processor. Updates are coming this week for Android devices that will allow people to enroll in accounts that use the internal processor. An iOS update will come next week.

From the Web

Hong Kong and Singapore sign fintech deal, agree to work together on blockchain
CNBC | Wed Oct 25, 2017 - Hong Kong and Singapore have agreed to cooperate on a cross-border trade project based on blockchain technology as part of a broader joint strategy on financial technology. The two Asian powerhouses' central banks signed a fintech deal Wednesday to collaborate on a number of projects including business innovation, data sharing and exchange of expertise. "Hong Kong and Singapore are the two leading international financial centers in the region and are actively deploying fintech," Norman Chan, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), said in an announcement Wednesday. "Collaboration between the HKMA and MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) will create significant synergy for the development of fintech and more efficient fund flows between the two markets."

Bitcoin is ‘bubblish’ but blockchain attractive, Chinese investment banker says
CNBC | Wed Oct 25, 2017 - Bitcoin is not as attractive as the distributed ledger technology that underpins it, a Chinese investment banker has said. Fan Bao, CEO of investment bank China Renaissance, told CNBC Wednesday that the world's biggest cryptocurrency was "getting a little bit bubblish." "I think we have to separate bitcoin from the blockchain," Bao said. "I think blockchain is very exciting technology, probably the most disruptive technology in our industry, the financial services industry." Blockchain is a decentralized database of transactions maintained across a network of computers around the world, rather than in one single location. Bao joked that if someone has invested in bitcoin, they would be "getting some good returns," but he expressed doubt about the virtual coin. The price of the cryptocurrency surpassed $6,100 over the weekend, reaching a fresh all-time high. It has been faced with much volatility over the last few months, falling as low as $3,766, before recovering significantly.

Current raises $5M for its debit card for teens that parents control with an app
TechCrunch | Wed Oct 25, 2017 - Current announced today it has raised $5 million in Series A funding for its debit card aimed at kids that parents can control with an app. The company first introduced its Visa debit to the market in May. Kids can use the card to shop in stores or online using funds from their own bank account linked to the card, after receiving a digital allowance from mom or dad. The new round was led by QED Investors and included participation from Cota Capital. In addition, QED’s Founding Partner Frank Rotman will join Current’s Board of Directors. The company, incubated out of Expa Studio, had previously raised $3.6 million from Expa and Human Ventures in March, 2017. The idea behind Current is to help shift tweens and teens from cash to digital funds at an earlier age. This is reflective of the larger transition to a more cashless society – at least here in the U.S., where you can use a debit card to pay for almost anything these days.

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