EMEA Daily: McDonald’s Estimates Russian Eatery Shutdown Will Cost $50B Monthly; Visa, MLG Collaborate on Contactless Transit in North Africa

EMEA, Visa, MLG, contactless

In today’s top Europe, Middle East and Africa news, McDonald’s chief financial officer has predicted the fast-food chain will lose $50 million per month, or 5 cents to 6 cents per share for shutting its Russian eateries, and Visa is collaborating with Abu Dhabi-based FinTech Multi Level Group on a project to promote contactless digital solutions in North Africa.

Plus, Elrond Network was granted approval to acquire Romanian payments firm Twispay, Square launched software to help businesses in Ireland increase their sales and build customer loyalty and Yaba, a Barcelona-based aggregator for digital brands that sell on Amazon, has raised $83 million in a funding round.

McDonald’s Estimates Russian Eatery Shutdown Will Cost $50B Monthly

While McDonald’s is still calculating the cost of temporarily shutting its eateries in Russia, the world’s largest fast-food restaurant chain estimates it will lose about $50 million per month, or roughly 5 cents to 6 cents per share, Chief Financial Officer Kevin Ozan said during a presentation at the UBS Global Consumer and Retail Conference.

In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continued attacks on Ukraine, McDonald’s announced Tuesday (March 8) that it was closing its 850 quick-serve restaurants in Russia. The company also paused operations for its 108 restaurants in Ukraine.

Visa, MLG Collaborate on Contactless Transit in North Africa

Visa has teamed up with Abu Dhabi-based FinTech Multi Level Group (MLG) on a project designed to promote contactless digital solutions in North Africa.

Per a Trade Arabia report, the collaboration will focus on transit solutions, allowing passengers to pay for rides using contactless Visa prepaid and co-branded cards or wearable devices. The project will also employ Visa and MLG technologies to expand digital acceptance solutions for merchants in various markets throughout North Africa.

Romanian Central Bank Approves Elrond’s Acquisition of Twispay

Elrond Network has been granted approval to acquire Romanian payments firm Twispay. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the transaction brings an eMoney license from Romania’s central bank.

Twispay is licensed as a financial institution in Romania to issue eMoney and provide payment services. The startup can also issue Visa cards, issue and acquire Mastercards, and is able to operate in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Square Launches Loyalty, Marketing Products in Ireland

Square launched a pair of software products that will help businesses in Ireland increase their sales and build customer loyalty in a few clicks, the company announced in a press release Thursday (March 10).

Square Marketing and Square Loyalty are now available as separate subscriptions for Irish businesses.

“It’s been a challenging couple of years for businesses, and it’s more important than ever for sellers to stand out from competitors and see the impact on their business,” said Stephen Smythe, head of EU marketing at Square.

AstroPay Payment Links Introduced in More Latam Countries

Following its initial Brazil rollout in January, online payments firm AstroPay is now launching its Payment Links solution in Peru, Chile, Mexico and Colombia to further its global expansion.

Payment Links is AstroPay’s latest advancement to help small- to medium-sized businesses collect digital payments by sharing a payment link with their customers. The link can be shared by email or any electronically, and customers can pay using a variety of options, either in their own currency or U.S. dollars.

Business Lender Funding Circle Shuts Off Retail Platform to New Investments

Funding Circle has permanently barred new investors from its retail platform, with the decision being announced as the company shared its results. It’s an indication of how the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sector has struggled amid stronger oversight from regulators and the effects of the pandemic.

P2P lending has faced regulatory crackdowns in the U.K. in recent years, after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) unveiled tougher rules in 2019.

Tesco Bank, Onfido Team up on ID Verification

Tesco Bank announced Thursday (March 10) that it has launched a partnership with identity verification firm Onfido to provide security for new customers using the Tesco Clubcard Pay+ program.

The U.K. company says the partnership will ensure that program applicants enjoy a faster journey, thanks to Onfido’s digital identity verification.

Barcelona’s Yaba Nets $83M in Funding Round

Yaba, a Barcelona-based aggregator for digital brands that sell on Amazon, has raised €75 million (about $83 million) in a funding round.

The new funds will help the startup continue buying companies, grow its staff and strengthen its position in the market. Yaba also plans to expand into online marketplaces in Singapore, including Lazada Group, an international eCommerce firm, and Shopee, a global technology company focused on eCommerce.

ECB Ends Bond-Buying Program Early, Prepares for Interest Hikes

The European Central Bank (ECB) is ending its bond-buying program earlier than anticipated as it prepares for a possible interest rate increase later in the year.

As the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday (March 10), the program will likely be phased out by September, with any interest rate hikes happening on a gradual basis “some time” after the program ends. The bank’s move marks a shift from its more relaxed monetary policy, showing rising concerns about inflation, which is around 6% in the European Union.

UK’s Payment Strategy Focuses on Fraud Detection, Instant Payments

The United Kingdom continues developing its New Payment Architecture (NPA), which will allow financial institutions, payment providers and other players to access a new payment platform to provide instant payments.

Pay.UK, a nonprofit organization supervised by the Bank of England and regulated by the Payment Supervisor Regulator, published its new strategy plan March 2 for 2021-2026, where it established its vision on how to build and operate the NPA.

Africa FinTech Sector Continues Upward Trend, Payment Firms Continue to Dominate

After a difficult 2020, which caused global investments to plummet due to the pandemic, 2021 emerged as a very successful year for both public and private markets, with various sectors recording record growth in funding.

“From a FinTech perspective, there was over $130 billion of primary funding deployed across the industry,” Abhimanyu Toor, managing director at London-based FinTech advisory firm Royal Park Partners, told PYMNTS. “That accounted for about 20% of global funding, [making] FinTech one of the largest sectors and largest beneficiaries of the growth in the total capital deployment.”