Morning Brief 5.4.20: Tencent takes a stake in credit firm Afterpay

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Installment investment

Tencent has acquired a 5% stake in Afterpay, an Australian point of sale credit firm, in an investment totalling about $250 million — another signal of installment payments' growing importance.

The Tencent-Afterpay deal follows an investment from Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Klarna, a Swedish point of sale credit company. That investment came early in pandemic, as the point of sale credit option was already gaining steam before the coronavirus hit.

The crisis' economic fallout has heightened attention on installment payments, as merchants seek to offer consumers an alternative to revolving credit for larger purchases. Afterpay also has a presence in the U.S., reports Reuters, giving Tencent an added route to the U.S. market.

Crypto raise

Andreessen Horowitz has raised $515 million for a fund that will focus on cryptocurrency networks and related businesses.

It's the second fund for the VC firm, following a $300 million fund from 2018, reports Finextra. The firm is interested in "next generation" payments which use blockchain to improve financial inclusion.

It's also looking to invest in technology that supports decentralized finance for lending, trading, insurance and crowdfunding.

Bitcoin to bitcoin

HandCash and Anypay have partnered to deploy a digital payments protocol that's designed to speed bitcoin checkouts for merchants, considered a key barrier to convincing businesses to support the cryptocurrency.

Called BIP270, the protocol covers transaction structure and data sharing such as invoice information, explains Verdict.

That means merchants can set prices in traditional currencies while accepting payments in bitcoin, and a single invoice can serve several recipients.

Monzo's new COO

U.K. challenger bank Monzo has hired former European Amex exec Sujata Bhatia to be its Chief Operating Officer.

Bhatia will replace Tom Foster-Carter, who left Monzo in November to start his own company, reports TechCrunch. Bhatia was most recently senior vice president for global merchant services in Europe for Amex.

Bhatia comes to Monzo at a challenging time as the company plans a U.S. expansion while navigating the economic fallout from the coronavirus. That has caused it to delay the launch of a premium product while mitigating payment loss, according to TechCrunch.

From the web

Fintech startup GoBear acquires Singapore-based digital lender AsiaKredit
THE BUSINESS TIMES | Mon May 4, 2020
FINANCIAL products comparison site GoBear on Monday said it has acquired Singapore-based digital lender AsiaKredit for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will see GoBear improve financial inclusion by introducing lending as a service, or LaaS, to its network of more than 100 partners, helping them provide loans to underserved consumers in South-east Asia and Hong Kong.

Samsung Pay Now Supports Swipe's Cryptocurrency Visa Cards
COINTELEGRAPH | Mon May 4, 2020
Cryptocurrency Visa card platform Swipe announced a partnership with Samsung Pay on May 1. The integration allows Samsung Pay users to make payments from their Swipe Visa card balances using Samsung Pay-enabled devices.

Bó, the digital bank developed by RBS-owned Natwest, is to shutter
TECHCRUNCH | Fri May 1, 2020
As part of announcing its yearly financials, RBS said it would “wind down Bó as a customer-facing brand.” Bó has around 11,000 customers, who are being given what looks like at least a month or two’s notice before their accounts are to due close.

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