EMEA Daily: EU Financial Regulators Warn Consumers on Crypto-Asset Risks; H&M Selling Other Fashion Brands on its Website to Better Compete

EMEA Daily, H&M, Sweden, Germany

In today’s top Europe, Middle East and Africa news, financial regulators in the European Union have warned consumers that cryptocurrencies are highly risky, while H&M is selling external fashion brands on its Swedish and German websites to stay competitive.

Plus, German startup Payrails raised $6.4 million, J.P. Morgan Chase has made a $1.5 million commitment to help underserved people in the U.K. access affordable loans and more.

EU Financial Regulators Warn Consumers on Crypto-Asset Risks

The European Supervisory Authorities have issued a warning to consumers that cryptocurrencies are both speculative and highly risky.

“This warning comes in the context of growing consumer activity and interest in crypto-assets and the aggressive promotion of those assets and related products to the public, including through social media,” the regulators said in an announcement Thursday (March 17).

H&M Selling Other Fashion Brands on its Website to Better Compete

Fashion retailer H&M is looking to get ahead of its competition by selling external fashion brands on its central website in Sweden and Germany. The company also has plans to add additional labels and geographic markets, according to media outlets.

The new brands were added to the website at the start of March to compete with the likes of Amazon, Zalando and Asos. The site now offers 13 brands for womenswear and 15 for menswear, in addition to about 20 labels in H&M Group’s growing portfolio of brands.

Payrails Raises $6.4M Seed to Launch FinOps Software

German startup Payrails has raised $6.4 million to continue developing financial operations software for payments and financial services tailored to enterprises, according to media reports on Thursday (March 17).

Headquartered in Berlin and co-founded last year by Delivery Hero alums Orkhan Abdullayev, Emre Talay and Nicolas Thouzeau, Payrails aims to enable high-growth companies to build and scale payment and financial services worldwide.

Ocado Retail Sees Sales Downtick as Consumers Return to Pre-COVID Habits

Performance has been trending downwards for Ocado Retail, a joint venture between U.K.-based grocery technology firm Ocado Group and London-based retailer Marks & Spencer.

The company reported revenue was down 5.7% year over year in the first quarter of 2022. However, Ocado Retail CEO Melanie Smith attributed this downtick to normalization of pandemic trends as consumers returned to their lives away from home.

JPMorgan Gives $1.5M to UK Loan Nonprofit

J.P. Morgan Chase has made a $1.5 million (£1.2 million) philanthropic commitment to help low-income and underserved people in the U.K. access affordable loans, the banking giant said.

The company said its commitment will help nonprofit Fair4All Finance expand its no interest loan pilot program to a sixth region in the country, helping 3,000 people.

UK’s Online Safety Bill Comes With Possible Jail Time for Violators

The U.K. government is set to unveil its long-awaited Online Safety Bill, which seeks to curb online harms by significantly increasing the responsibilities of Big Tech firms to monitor content posted on their platforms.

The core concept of the Online Safety bill is the imposition of a new online duty of care on platforms, requiring the removal of illegal content. For “high-risk, high-reach” services, this will extend to material that is lawful but harmful.

Hoxton Debuts $215M Fund for European Startups

Hoxton Ventures has closed a $214 million fund to help scale up new startups in Europe. The fund, called Hoxton III, exceeded its original $150 million target.

The company’s first fund has delivered high returns from Europe. Three of its investments — Deliveroo, Darktrace and Babylon Health — went public last year.

Hubpay CEO Says Digital X-Border Wallet Can Help Bring MENA’s Unbanked Into Financial Fold

To support the millions of unbanked and underbanked individuals in the Middle East and North Africa region, new and innovative technologies are needed to help boost financial inclusion and access to financial services.

As Hubpay CEO Kevin Kilty said, that includes reducing the cost of cross-border money transfers, which can be extremely expensive in these challenging markets.

3 Dozen Tech Firm Founders Launch VC Fund To Grow Africa’s Next Unicorns

Africa’s technology landscape has seen the emergence of several unicorns, from Nigeria’s Interswitch, Andela and Flutterwave to Senegal-based mobile money provider Wave. These are private companies with a valuation of more than $1 billion.

Africa-focused firms raised a record $5.2 billion from 681 equity rounds in 2021, up 264% from the $1.4 billion venture capitalists gave in 2020, according to data from Partech.

Berlin Recommerce Startup reverse.supply Completes $5.5M Seed Financing Round

Berlin-based second-hand clothing software company reverse.supply has raised €5 million ($5.5 million) in a seed funding round.

Founded last year by three German entrepreneurs, reverse.supply developed a Recommerce-as-a-Service platform software. It helps brands allow their customers to return used items that are still good and re-sell them through their website without having to set up the processes and operations behind it.