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FinTech: Lloyds To Acquire Stake In Loyalty App Bink

January 4, 2022

Lloyds Banking Group (LON: LLOY), Britain’s biggest mortgage provider, will acquire a minority stake in loyalty app Bink, according to a report by Sky News for an undisclosed amount that may run into millions of pounds. It was also not known how much the transaction valued Bink.

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Digital Assets: Coinbase CEO Armstrong Said To Have Splurged $133M On Home In LA

January 4, 2022

An iconic property in Bel Air, Los Angeles, designed by internationally acclaimed English architect John Pawson changed hands last month for $133 million and the buyer was Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN) CEO and co-founder Brian Armstrong. The seller: a corporate entity linked to Japanese entrepreneur Hideki Tomita.

Alternative Investments/ESG: VegTech Invest Launches Plant-Based Innovation & Climate ETF

January 4, 2022

VegTech Invest advisory has launched the VegTech Plant-based Innovation & Climate ETF (Ticker: EATV), its first financial product. The ETF offers exposure to publicly traded companies actively innovating with plants and plant-derived ingredients and producing primary products that are animal-free. These companies also have a beneficial impact on the environment and solve certain pressing global problems.

Venture Capital: Chinese AI Startup Parametrix Raises $100M, Turns Unicorn

January 4, 2022

Chinese AI company Parametrix.ai has raised $100 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia China and joined by existing investors 5Y Capital and Gaorong Capital. Though the valuation was not disclosed, Parametrix has joined the hallowed unicorn club (>$1 billion) after the funding.

Artificial Intelligence: Danish Company Solum To Use Advanced AI And Robotics For Sorting Waste

January 4, 2022

Danish environmental services company Solum A/S will soon operate a highly advanced waste sorting plant that will use advanced robotics and AI to segregate up to 25,000 tons of mixed waste annually. The robots, which work 24/7, will receive and intelligently sort refuse sourced from municipalities, industry and business and comprising combustible waste, bulky waste, metal, wood, and plastic.

Venture Capital: Honasa Consumer Raises Sequoia-Led $37M Series F

January 3, 2022

Honasa Consumer has become the 45th startup to achieve unicorn status this year, when it raised a $37 million Series F round led by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. The round also had participation by Belgium-based investment fund Sofina Ventures and the UAE-based India-focused fund Evolvence Capital. Honasa (from Honest/Natural/Safe) operates the brand Mamaearth. The brand is endorsed by celebrities from Bollywood. Its other brands include The Derma Co and House of Brands.

Digital Assets: Bitcoin In The Crystal Ball

January 3, 2022

What the crystal ball shows for bitcoin, according to people who should know.

FinTech: Tencent Backs Monzo’s Latest Funding Round, Buys Undisclosed Stake

January 3, 2022

Monzo, the fast-growing digital challenger bank in the UK, has roped in Tencent Holdings (HKG: 0700) as an investor in its $600 million funding round that had its first close earlier this month. Existing investors Accel and General Catalyst participated in that round, which valued Monzo at $4.5 billion.

Artificial Intelligence: A Robotic Fish That Scares Away Invasive Species

January 3, 2022

An international team of researchers from Australia, the US, and Italy, have designed a robotic version of the largemouth bass, a fish that preys upon the mosquitofish, an invasive marine species that feeds on freshwater fish, tadpoles and their eggs.

Digital Assets: Rootless Binance Maybe Mulling France As HQ

December 31, 2021

Binance has launched Objective Moon in France in collaboration with industry group France FinTech. The $113 million program will help develop the crypto and blockchain sectors, establish a research and development office, and run an incubator drive to support startups and training programs in France. The $1.5 billion French crypto hardware company Ledger and OpenClassroom, an edtech company, will also participate in Objective Moon and develop educational programs.

FinTech: Cross-Border Remittances Alleviate Poverty; But They Must Be Easier, Cheaper

December 31, 2021

Worldwide remittances to low and middle income countries (LMICs) of a cumulative $4.7 trillion helped lower the global rate of extreme poverty (defined as people living on less than $1.90 per day) from nearly 36% to 10% during the years 1990-2015. Ruben Salazar Genovez, Global Head of Visa Direct, writes in a blog – The human impact of cross-border remittances – that global, cross-border remittances must be simplified and made cheaper to drive financial inclusion and build wealth where there is poverty.

Alternative Investments/Digital: Russia’s Sberbank Launches Blockchain ETF

December 31, 2021

Sberbank, a leading Russian bank has launched an ETF titled “Sber-Blockchain Economy,” that offers exposure to the top crypto companies across the globe including Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN) and Galaxy Digital (TSE: GLXY). The ETF tracks the Sber Blockchain Economy Index developed by inhouse company SberCIB, and is the first product of its kind in Russia.

Artificial Intelligence: Alexa “Challenges” 10-Year-Old To Touch A Penny To Electrical Outlet

December 31, 2021

Kristin Livdahl’s 10-year-old daughter happened to ask Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) Alexa on the family’s Echo for a challenge. Guess what Alexa suggested to the girl: Touch a penny to the exposed leads of an electrical outlet! A tragedy was averted because the mother was right there, and the challenge was never attempted. The shocked mother posted the AI-powered Alexa’s verbatim response on Twitter.

Digital Assets: After Latest Buy, MicroStrategy’s Bitcoin Exposure Is Nearly $6B

December 30, 2021

CEO Michael Saylor tweeted today that MicroStrategy had bought another 1,914 bitcoins. MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR), the business intelligence firm founded and led by bitcoin evangelist Michael Saylor (pictured above) has added to its already substantial pile of bitcoins. According to a tweet by Saylor, and a Thursday filing with the SEC, MicroStrategy has pulled in…

Alternative Investments/Digital: Despite Its “Wild West” Label, Do Not Ignore Crypto, Says Advisor

December 30, 2021

Jacob Walthour, CEO and co-founder of Blueprint Capital Advisors, discussed cryptos in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday. “I think it’d be a mistake to ignore this asset class which has looked like the wild west for the last 5 or so years,” said Walthour, who has a 25-year track record in the financial markets.

Digital Assets: DGC And Jamestown Partner To Recreate One Times Square And New Year’s Eve In The Metaverse

December 30, 2021

Digital Currency Group and Jamestown have partnered to recreate One Times Square virtually in the Decentraland metaverse. The iconic location, known the world over for its New Year’s Eve celebrations and ball drop, will launch in Decentraland on New Year’s Eve with the MetaFest 2022 global party featuring music and entertainment acts, rooftop VIP lounges, cryptoart galleries, and immersive games.

Venture Capital: Vertical Farming Startup Jungle Starts Cultivating Perfume Plants

December 30, 2021

French vertical farming startup Jungle has partnered with Firmenich for growing plants that are vital as ingredients for the European perfume industry. Firmenich is a Swiss fragrance house that has produced scents for over 125 years, including the renowned Jean Paul Gaultier Scandal and Calvin Klein’s CK Everyone.

Artificial Intelligence: Japanese Corporates Play Cupid With An AI Dating App For WFH Employees

December 30, 2021

Faced with declining birth rates, and employees working from home with no time for searching out love, Japanese companies have hit on a new method to get romance back into their lives. About 800 Japanese organizations have signed up for Aill goen, an AI-powered app that promises to play matchmaker. Result: Happier, more productive employees.

Alternative Investments/Digital: ProShares Files For A Metaverse ETF

December 29, 2021

ProShares has filed an application to launch the ProShares Metaverse Theme ETF. The fund will invest in businesses involved with metaverse technology producers, platforms, data processing, and other metaverse device firms.

FinTech: Indian Fintech SaveIN Brings “Pay Later” To Healthcare

December 29, 2021

Indian fintech SaveIN has launched a “care now pay later” offering in healthcare across the dental, veterinary, optical, dermatology, diagnostics, and physical therapy practices. The service is available offline at over 100 healthcare centers and covers over 300 products and treatments. Users can unlock a credit limit in 60 seconds when at a SaveIN partner physical outlet, and pay for the services availed over time.

Venture Capital: Swedish Battery Maker Northvolt Rolls Out Its Inaugural Li-Ion Cell

December 29, 2021

On December 28, the first lithium-ion cell to have been fully designed, developed and assembled at a gigafactory by a homegrown European battery company marked Northvolt Ett’s commencement of production at its Skellefteå facility in northern Sweden. The company is a rival to Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) battery division.

Artificial Intelligence: AI Helps NotCo’s Vegan Chicken Taste Like Real

December 29, 2021

The Not Company, or NotCo, a Chilean startup, recently launched new pea protein-based vegan chicken dubbed NotChicken in the booming Latin American market for vegan chicken. What’s interesting is that NotCo is using Giuseppe, an AI platform that helps create plant-based meat substitutes that taste as good as the real thing.

Reputation And Trust Platform MetaMap Raises $70M Series B

December 28, 2021

MetaMap, a company that allows entrepreneurs to engage with customers and talent on the basis of “merits,” announced the close of $70 million Series B funding round led by Tribe Capital, with participation from Craft Ventures, Alameda Research and Titan Capital, as well as angel investors including Jerry Murdock of Insight Partners.

Digital Assets: Bahrain, Canada Approve Binance As Crypto Asset Service Provider

December 28, 2021

Binance has secured regulatory nods for providing crypto services in the Canada and the Kingdom of Bahrain. The approvals, an in-principle one from Bahrain’s central bank and the other from Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, have been granted to Binance affiliates.

Alternative Investments/Digital: Bitcoin Unlikely To Reach Stratospheric Heights, Says Dalio

December 28, 2021

Ray Dalio, chairman and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund with over $220 billion of assets under management, does not think that bitcoin could reach some of the more lofty price targets being put about, for example, $1 million. Could bitcoin at all touch those heights, Dalio was asked on an interview with Lex Fridman published Saturday.