Increasingly, digital strategy is in the purview of banks and non-bank lenders, who in turn are seeking pairings with FinTechs.
As noted in Insurance Business America, U.S. insurance giant Travelers (which operates in commercial property and personal insurance) has taken a majority stake in Canadian FinTech Zensurance, which in turn offers a platform through which corporates can buy and manage their insurance packages. The deal was reportedly done through a wholly owned subsidiary of Travelers. The stake comes to about 60 percent, with a purchase price that came to about $16 million Canadian dollars, equating to about $12.3 million USD.
The insurance FinTech, said the site, will seek to offer insurance contracts that are binding in real time, whereas traditionally insurance companies have finished the process.
With FinTech’s Aid, Lending Down Under
Beyond that, in Australia, Homeloans Ltd. has said it will help form a new lending platform, with debt funding to be provided to Athena Home Loans. The company is taking the platform to market with Square Peg and Macquarie Group, bringing borrowers together with investors. Financial Review reported that Athena aims to offer $1 billion in lending in its first year post-launch later in 2018. That comes against a mortgage market that is worth about $1.7 trillion.
In reference to some of the financial details, Homeloans has invested $2 million in equity, itself part of a $20 million financing that also has the backing of Square Peg and Apex Capital, among others.
The site notes that the launch of the platform comes amid a push by traditional finance firms to find their way into the digital realm. The digital efforts, according to Financial Review, show how companies that leverage online lending and brokerage activities – such as Uno – are automating many steps in consumer borrowing processes.
Uno, said the Australian site, is debuting technology this week that will give consumers credit proposals in 10 minutes, along with automated steps that are as far-flung as ID verification, income verification and other steps. That data is culled from several different sources, said the report.
African Trade Gets a Nod
And in Africa, Bloomberg reports that Equity Group Holdings’ FinTech unit is “in discussions” with a half dozen banks in Ethiopia to work together – eyeing cross-border eCommerce, with an emphasis, too, on mobile payments. The FinTech is Finserve Africa. In an interview with the newswire, Managing Director Jack Ngare stated that the talks target the three million Ethiopians who live abroad and who send money home (there are eight remittance firms already signed onto the platform). During the interview, he said that “we’re looking to work with six banks to facilitate cross-border transactions, as well as eCommerce.” The value of the remittances stands at $4.6 billion, and talks should be concluded in about three to six months. Finserve, said Bloomberg, has a license in place that allows the company to operate a virtual mobile network.
The network is also seeking to tap into Chinese trade activity in African markets, including Uganda. China is the largest partner in trade for Africa, at about $120 billion. The newswire noted that the $120 billion logged last year is twice the amount seen in 2007. In the interview with Bloomberg, Ngare said that they should snare about $10 million of that volume within the next few months.
“We see it as a major payments facilitator for all that Sino-Africa trade that’s happening, as well as tourists who are now coming to this part of the world,” he told Bloomberg.