FinTech Friday: Latest Financial Technology News, Innovations and Trends

FinTech Friday is our weekly check-in here at Spreckley, where we share all the most interesting and useful financial services and financial technology news, innovations and trends.

This week, we look at the latest developments in text message payments solutions for millions of customers worldwide without traditional bank accounts, the surprise $1 billion debut of Kazakh fintech giant Kaspi on the London Stock Exchange, the launch of Treecard – a new debit card that combines payments and eco-philanthropy, and fintech unicorn Klarna coming under scrutiny with the ICO over an apparent misuse of customer data.

Fintech for the unbanked

Millions of people worldwide don’t have traditional bank accounts, which is the market that Turkish fintech Payguru is targeting with a unique SMS text message payments service, reports the Financial Times this week.

Payguru enables millions of Turks, for example, to update their bus travel cards via a simple SMS message. And with 19 million plus people in Turkey still “unbanked” there is a huge market for this type of service.

“Today, Payguru works with 1,300 merchants across Turkey — from Burger King to online gaming providers — and processes 275,000 payment requests a day. The concept became even more relevant as the pandemic meant millions of people in Turkey were confined to their homes during lockdown,” reports the FT.

Globally, according to the World Bank, there are still around 1.7 billion adults across the world with no bank account, with nearly half of those in only seven countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

Kazakhstan Fintech Kaspi lands huge London IPO

In further markets news, Kazakhstan fintech giant Kaspi has landed a surprisingly large IPO on the London Stock Exchange. As Forbes reports this week, Kazakhstan may well be “a country better known by the masses for being the home to fictional character Borat, then the most promising country in Central Asia, if not all of the large former Soviet states, including Ukraine,” yet it looks like all of that may soon be set to change, with Kaspi having a huge debut on the London Stock Exchange, bringing in over $1 billion.

Kaspi is the country’s first new tech leader, Forbes reports, and the company owns the Super App, Kazakhstan’s “most popular mobile app and the foundation for everything they do for their retail and business customers, including banking and e-commerce. The company says it has over 7.8 million monthly active users.”

Eco-friendly debit cards

A new fintech startup called TreeCard is set to launch soon with wooden debit cards and plans to channel profits into global deforestation projects.

TreeCard will launch a free, wooden debit card which channels a share of profits from merchant transaction fees into planting trees around the world,” Fintech Magazine reports. “Every $60 spent using the card equates to a new tree, with 80% of TreeCard profits funnelled into deforestation projects”.

TreeCard is backed by Ecosia, the Berlin-based search engine that also pumps advertising revenue into a range of eco-friendly philanthropic projects. A firm launch date is still to be confirmed, but anyone interested in getting a TreeCard can sign up here before 1 December 2020 to be among the first cardholders.

Klarna accused of customer data misuse

Finally, a cautionary tale for fintechs this week, as buy-now-pay-later ‘unicorn’ Klarna is probed over data misuse, according to Computer Weekly.

“The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating online bank Klarna over an apparent accidental misuse of data obtained from the online retailers to which it provides services.

Apparently the ICO received over 90 complaints “from angry consumers who received a weekly newsletter email from Klarna on 12 October 2020, despite never having used its service themselves, or given it their data or permission to use it.

An ICO spokesperson told Computer Weekly: “Businesses should only contact individuals for electronic marketing purposes where consent has been provided or, in limited circumstances, where they have an existing relationship with a customer. Some members of the public have made us aware of an email sent by Klarna and we will be making enquiries.”