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Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. Quizzed by EU Lawmakers

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Google Inc European Headquarters

Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. were among U.S. companies facing questions Monday from European Union lawmakers about their tax-reducing techniques, a month after regional antitrust regulators raised the stakes by ordering Starbucks Corp. and a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV unit to repay millions of euros in back taxes.

The queries about the “Dutch Sandwich” and the “Double Irish” — tax arrangements that allow companies to declare income in lower-tax areas — came as the European Commission weighs its next decisions on fiscal pacts Amazon.com Inc. arranged with Luxembourg and Apple Inc. with Ireland. Eleven companies, including Amazon, faced questioning from the parliament’s special tax committee in Brussels.

“We make use of tax incentives and tax structures that are well known, widely accessible and are employed by virtually all multinational companies,” Google’s Nicklas Lundblad, senior director, public policy and government relations, told the parliamentary committee.

Elected officials have scrutinized the tax strategies of Google, Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft Corp. and others, which have used the “Double Irish” and “Dutch Sandwich” to move foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda to avoid U.S. income taxes.

Such structures have “no impact on the amount of tax we pay across various European Union countries,” Lundblad said. “The entire Bermuda structure doesn’t erase any tax liability, it defers only U.S. tax.”

Facebook, which has its European base in Ireland, also has operations in the Netherlands in the form of a commercial office, and a legal entity in Luxembourg, said Delphine Reyre, the company’s director of public policy, southern Europe.

“There is no ‘Dutch Sandwich’ in this,” she told the lawmakers. She said has “no preferential fiscal tax treatment”  in Luxembourg.

An earlier hearing by the committee was scuttled when nearly all the corporate invitees declined to attend.

“Unfortunately we were unable to accept previous invitations to appear in respect of tax rulings, due to the fact that we’re part of an ongoing state aid investigation,” said Monique Meche, vice president of global public policy at Amazon. “That investigation remains open, and that’s why our comments, we’re limiting them to tax policy.”

Fiat, which declined the lawmakers’ invitation, and Starbucks last month were told to repay tens of millions of euros in back taxes in the first decisions from EU antitrust regulators on fiscal deals that allowed companies to avoid taxes. After facing criticism by British lawmakers and activist groups, Starbucks last year announced it would move its European base to London from Amsterdam and increase the amount of tax it pays in the U.K.

Google and Amazon were also targeted in U.K. Parliament hearings in late 2012 to 2013 on corporate tax dodging and tactics used by information-technology companies and others. The U.S. Senate has also looked into Apple Inc.’s offshore tax policies. The companies all say they’ve complied with international tax laws.

The European Parliament’s probe, which is separate from the regulatory inquiry by the European Commission, started in February, after documents leaked by a group of investigative journalists showed that Luxembourg alone struck hundreds of secret fiscal deals known as tax rulings with companies from around the world, including PepsiCo Inc. and The Walt Disney Co.

Disney, Coca-Cola Co., and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, HSBC Holdings Plc, Ikea Group and Philip Morris International Inc. also faced questions Monday, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. declining to appear.

 

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Fund Raising

Coin Metrics Closes $15M Series B Round Led By Goldman Sachs

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Goldman Sachs

Coin Metrics, the leading provider of crypto financial intelligence, announced that it raised $15 million in Series B financing, led by Goldman Sachs. 

Castle Island Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Fidelity Investments, Avon Ventures, Communitas Capital, and Collab+Currency are also increasing their investment in the company after participating in previous fundraising rounds.

They are joined by new investors Acrew Ventures, Morningside Group, BlockFi and Warburg Serres Investments. Mathew McDermott, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, and head of their blockchain and crypto expansion efforts, will join Coin Metrics’ Board of Directors.

Coin Metrics provides network data, market data, indexes and network risk solutions to the most prestigious institutions touching cryptoassets. This financing will accelerate the company’s global expansion, enable further product innovation, and allow existing offerings to touch even more cryptoasset networks and markets.

The company institutionalized their network and market data offerings over the past 18 months, creating a resilient infrastructure to meet the needs of the most discerning organizations. Their index offering, which leverages elements of the market and network data offerings, has been adopted by some of the largest names in the cryptoasset ecosystem, including Fidelity Investments, Osprey Funds and BlockFi.

Additionally, Coin Metrics recently announced several new products, including a network risk management offering, FARUM™, and a universal block explorer, ATLAS™, both of which leverage the infrastructure of the existing data business. “FARUM and ATLAS are perfect complements to our network and market data products,” said Tim Rice, co-founder and CEO of Coin Metrics. “The tremendous interest we are seeing in these offerings reinforces the value of on-chain data to institutions engaging in cryptoassets. I couldn’t be more proud of what the team has built over the past 12 months. Our data is clearly on a path to becoming an integral part of the infrastructure for the future of finance.”    

“Data is critical for the mainstream adoption of cryptoassets by traditional investors and financial services players. Our clients will greatly benefit from Coin Metrics’ institutional-grade data insights and emerging risk management tools,” said Mathew McDermott, Global Head of Digital Assets of Goldman Sachs. Marianna Lopert-Schaye, in Firmwide Strategy at Goldman Sachs added, “Coin Metrics is at the forefront of innovation and institutionalization in the digital asset markets. We are excited to be leading their Series B, thereby enabling their growth and supporting their mission to be the leading provider of data-driven market insights and intelligence for institutions in crypto.”

Since its Series A in 2019, Coin Metrics has built a world-class team, marrying cryptonative talent with veterans of the traditional financial services and data industries. The company will continue to focus on attracting the best talent to set the industry standard for how crypto networks and assets are monitored and analyzed and share insights and intelligence to enhance the cryptoasset ecosystem as a whole.

Goldman Sachs is continuing to seemingly warm to more companies and financials innovations of the crypto space this year. Last week, the firm identified 19 stocks from crypto and blockchain firms that had outperformed the S&P500 in the year to date.

The financial giant is also reportedly preparing to make Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies available to its clients in the second quarter of 2021.

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Fintech

Leading Fintech Companies in Nigeria

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Financial Technology (Fintech) companies in Nigeria have raised millions of US dollars in the last few years, create jobs, increase foreign exchange inflow and taught Nigerians ease of doing financial transactions just in time without banks’ usual queues. 

Below is the list of 13 leading fintech companies in Nigeria.

Flutterwave

It was established in 2017 by Iyin Aboyeji and Olugbenga Abgoola and is headquartered in San Francisco. It provides payment services to banks and businesses to ensure seamless transactions with customers. It raised $170 million in its latest round of funding to increase its customer base in the global market. It initiated Batar. It allows users to create virtual US dollar debit cards within seconds for one-time or regular usage. Unlike other platforms, it requests a working email address and phone number as the service relies on customer details already obtained by a user’s bank.

Interswitch

Interswitch, headquartered in Lagos, integrates digital payments. It was founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe. Visa in November 2019 invested $200 million and will recoup 20 per cent stake from the company which is valued at no less than $1 billion.

Paystack

PayStack was established in 2015 by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi. It makes payment processes consistent for both consumers and the businesses they are attempting to pay.

Paga

Paga was founded in 2009 by Tayo Oviosu but launched in 2011. Through Paga, you can pay bills, make bank deposits and even pay in certain stores. It acts as a mobile wallet where customers perform transactions on their mobile devices.

Carbon

Carbon, formerly known as Paylater, is owned by One Finance and was founded in 2016. It is a loan app which gives short loans through its mobile app. Use of mobile phones to obtain loans makes the process faster and easier.

Remita

Remita set the pace for fintech companies in Nigeria as it was developed by system specs in 1991 by John Obaro. It assists SMEs, multinationals, state governments, government agencies, NGOs, educational institutions and individuals to receive and make payments electronically.

VoguePay

VoguePay was established in 2012, it is accessible to local consumers with a simple and minimal effort platform as its principal selling point.

OPay

OPay is owned by Opera. It entered the fintech market in August after acquiring a controlling stake in PayCom. It was founded by Telnet Nigeria.

Lidya

Lidya is a mobile-first technology with strong customer experience and proprietary credit scoring.

Kuda

Kudi Money was rebranded to Kuda Bank. It was founded in 2017 by Babatunde Ogundeyi. It performs similar functions like other fintech companies. The start-up raised $1.6 milion in 2019.

PiggyVest

It was originally known as Piggybank.ng, before it became PiggyVest. It allows debit cardholders to save little amounts of money frequently with minimal effort. It automates the process of saving tiny amounts daily, weekly, or monthly you. It was founded in February 2016 by Ayo Akinola, Joshua Chibueze, Nonso Eagle, Odunayo Eweniyi, and Somto Ifezue.

FairMoney

This is a mobile banking platform that gives loans and credits. It was founded in 2017. It has a team of people across Paris, France, and Lagos, Nigeria.

Chipper Cash

Chipper Cash was founded in 2017 by Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled and it is headquartered in San Francisco, California. It enables free instant cross-border mobile money transfers in Africa as easy as sending a text message.

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Fintech

Klasha – Building Borderless Payments For Commerce In Africa

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Klasha

Starting as a fashion e-commerce company, Techstars backed company – Klasha is now building payment integrations that allow African consumers to buy from global retailers online in their local African currencies and get their items shipped quickly to the continent.

Today, we’re thrilled to introduce Klasha, a unified payments solution for commerce across Africa launching firstly in Nigeria.

How is Klasha different?

At Klasha, we’re simplifying borderless payments for commerce in Africa. Our solution helps merchants worldwide sell online to Africa and receive payments in local African currencies while enjoying super fast last-mile delivery to consumers across the continent. Consumers can make online payments regardless of where they are based geographically in Africa and where the retailers are based too.

What we have built

We have learned a lot about consumers’ pain points online over the past few years, and we are committed to solving these unique challenges. We have built a secure and reliable commerce solution from scratch using modern technologies.

Klasha Checkout

Our integrated technology solution – Klasha Checkout, can be integrated into any e-commerce platform, website, or app allowing international merchants to collect payments from Africa in local currencies. We ensure that consumers enjoy quick, cost-effective and direct shipping of physical goods from across the globe to their doorsteps.

The Klasha mobile app

Making international payments online is very problematic, and more often than not, local bank debit cards do not work and are marked with restrictions. We have built the Klasha mobile app – a simple and secure app that allows you to make local and international payments online in your local African currencies without any restrictions.

With the Klasha mobile app, you can send and receive money from family and friends who are using the app for free. No monthly charges or transfer fees. You can create a virtual card, fund it with NGN, KES or GHC, see all your transactions, including the amount paid, merchant details, card information and much more! The Klasha App is currently available for download in Nigeria on Android and iOS.

What’s Next?

For us, this is just the beginning, and in line with our mission, we are committed to transforming the payments landscape in Africa and building borderless payments for commerce.

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