Silicon Valley startup builder Y Combinator is the new $100 million investor in UK challenger bank Monzo, according to the UK Telegraph. Monzo first raised money through its customers, in a quirky evolution of the mutual bank model, through crowdfunding. Some of those original customer will now be able to cash in. "The new investment also suggests that the 36,000 small investors who took part in the crowdfunding may already be sitting on significant paper gains, with Monzo's popular community forum buzzing with the news," says the Guardian. "A user identified as a crowdfunding investor on Monzo's community forum said the shares would probably be worth '£12-14 minimum now, if the news of an increased valuation is true'. At the time of the crowdfunding, the shares were valued at around £7.70, although the shares are not tradable."
Banque Havilland sounds rather grand, but in fact it's the bank privatised out of the wreckage of the Luxembourg branch of Kaupthing, the Icelandic bank that went down in 2008, taking with it the reputation of the country. Kaupthing was then acquired by British financier David Rowland, who renamed it after his mansion. It has surfaced occasionally in news stories, most recently being fined $4 million for lax controls around money laundering. But it's also appearing in the news for its role in an alleged conspiracy by UAE and Saudi Banks to attack Qatar's financial markets back in late 2017, a story first broken by The Intercept. And what a story it is. Rowland, the major private donor to the Conservative party, is closely linked to the UAE, and has recently established a trade finance bank called the Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank with the rulers of Abu Dhabi. (Brexit opportunities?) The FT writes: "The actions undertaken by the entities that Qatar has now sued were illegal and were designed to destabilise Qatar's currency and financial markets in order to undermine confidence in Qatar's economy, and by doing so, to cause damage not just to Qatar but also to domestic and international investors," the State of Qatar said in its statement.
Japanese banking giant MUFJ is going full fintech to open up the data trapped in silos across the bank. Due to the Japanese legacy of personal marketing, the bank has been nervous about exploiting its customer data. Those days are gone, it seems. Welcome to personalisation, good people of Japan, which means never getting to talk to a person. "Despite holding a large amount of data on its customers, said [CEO] Mr Mike, the bank has been unable to translate that into proactive sales of investment products or other services because of a legacy Japanese business model that would expect any such marketing to be done personally. 'For that model, how many resources do we need? A horrendously large number of people are needed. And it will not pay off,' said Mr Mike. He added that banks, to an even greater degree than ecommerce sites and other online businesses, collect potentially valuable data through the details customers provide when opening accounts." As part of the process, MUFJ has launched a $185 million corporate venture fund to invest in startups in Japan and Asia. Sadly, it's arriving pretty late into the game, which has seen the likes of Softbank and Temasek snapping up fintech businesses for several years.
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