EMEA Daily: UK Regulator Orders Barclays to Correct Breaches; Russian Court Rules Meta an ‘Extremist’ Organization

CMA, Barclays, UK, EMEA

In today’s top Europe, Middle East and Africa news, the U.K.’s banking regulator has ruled that Barclays Bank UK Plc has failed to make available accurate information on its products, while a Russian court has labeled Meta Platforms as extremist.

Plus, Kenya-based B2B eCommerce platform Powered by People raised $5 million in seed funding, U.K. consumer credit provider Creditspring has launched its credit-building product “Step” and SPAC Spinnaker Acquisitions has finalized a reverse merger with U.K. InsurTech LeakBot.

UK Regulator Orders Barclays to Correct Breaches

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the United Kingdom’s banking regulator, has ruled that Barclays Bank UK Plc failed to make available accurate, comprehensive and timely information on its products and services through its Open Banking application programming interfaces (APIs).

In a letter dated Monday (March 21), the CMA said the London-based financial services giant violated the corrective order more than a dozen times.

Russian Court Rules Meta an ‘Extremist’ Organization

Meta Platforms has been labeled an “extremist group” by a Russian court, although the ruling only applies to the outlawed Facebook and Instagram platforms, not Meta’s messenger service WhatsApp.

Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court upheld a suit filed by Russian state prosecutors to ban Meta’s activities on Russian territory, and Reuters reported the decision will be enforced immediately. In court, Meta attorney Victoria Shagina argued that Meta was not carrying out extremist activities and was against Russophobia.

B2B eCommerce Platform Powered by People Raises $5M

Kenya-based B2B eCommerce platform Powered by People raised $5 million in seed funding, which the startup expects to use to increase its transaction volume, adding to the number of small brands using its marketplace to connect with international buyers.

UK’s Creditspring Launches New Credit Building Tool

U.K. consumer credit provider Creditspring has launched “Step,” a credit-building product designed for people with limited to no credit history.

Creditspring said consumers can sign up for free and access services like Step and its Stability Hub, which is an education and support resource designed to help consumers reach financial stability prior to taking out loans or lines of credit.

LeakBot Becomes Ondo as Part of Reverse Merger With Spinnaker Acquisitions

Special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Spinnaker Acquisitions has finalized a reverse merger with B2B InsurTech LeakBot, creating a new entity named Ondo InsurTech — the first InsurTech to go public in Britain.

Ondo brought in more than £3.4 million ($4.5 million) from investors, with shares valued at 12 pence per share (16 cents) and a market capitalization of £8.2 million ($10.8 million). The entity plans to use the fresh capital for partner development, onboarding and delivery and IT system improvement.

London Livestock Data Management Platform Breedr Raises $15.8M

London-based livestock trading and analytics platform Breedr has raised £12 million ($15.8 million) in a mix of equity and debt. The startup provides a data platform and app for farmers to collect data to improve their livestock productivity, sustainability and efficiency.

Breedr said the new cash will be used to develop financial products and services, as well as invest in expansion in Australia and the United States.

Mastercard Teams with HSBC for New B2B Cash Flow, Payments Solution

In the U.K., Mastercard is partnering with HSBC to launch a new B2B payment solution for cash flow management and expanded payment options.

The Mastercard Track Card to Account Transfer enables businesses to use their commercial card program to make payments to any supplier, even if a supplier doesn’t accept card payments. The new solution aims to help businesses better manage cash flow while also getting rid of manual processes.

GRO Capital Closes $662.25M GRO Fund III

GRO Capital has closed its northern European B2B software-focused fund GRO Fund III K/S, continuing the investment strategy pursued in prior funds.

The fund, which has a €600 million ($662.25 million) hard cap, earned financial backing from many of GRO’s existing investors and welcomed new investors, including a mix of institutional and multilateral organizations from Europe and the U.S. In a press release, GRO Capital said it now has in excess of €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in assets under management.

Euroclear Backs Blockchain Payments Consortium Fnality

Euroclear, an international securities settlement system, has invested in the London-based regulated blockchain payments consortium Fnality. Formerly known as the Utility Settlement Coin (USC), it is owned by 16 financial institutions, including Nasdaq, BNY Mellon, State Street and UBS.

Fnality was founded in 2019 by a consortium of banks to create a payment system for tokenized assets. It is the result of a four-year research and development project to better understand how distributed ledger technology could change financial markets.

Amsterdam FinTech Recharge.com Expands to Australia

Amsterdam-based FinTech Recharge.com, which is best known for selling digital gift cards for popular brands such as Spotify, Netflix and Xbox, has launched in Australia.

The move comes as the gift card and buy now, pay later (BNPL) sectors are undergoing regulation changes. It’s easy to see why Recharge is expanding down under — digital tech has surged, with 55 million non-cash payment transactions, totaling $650 billion, occurring daily.

African B2B Marketplace Wasoko Takes On Supply Chain Inefficiencies

For small shops across informal and fragmented retail markets in Africa, running out of product stock can be a huge hit to their bottom lines.

While stockouts can be a big challenge, it’s a challenge that Daniel Yu took on six years ago when he founded B2B marketplace Wasoko, hoping to disrupt a billion-dollar sector with huge growth potential across the continent.