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Temasek Leads Amber Group’s $200M Series B+ Round, Valuing the Company at $3 Billion

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Amber Group, a leading global digital asset platform, today announced a $200 million Series B+ round led by investment company Temasek, with participation from existing shareholders including Sequoia China, Pantera Capital, Tiger Global Management, Tru Arrow Partners, and Coinbase Ventures among others. A significant follow-up to Amber Group’s 2021 $100 million Series B round, this Series B+ round is the largest investment in Amber Group, valuing the company at $3 billion. Total capital raised at Amber Group now stands at $328 million.

This Series B+ round comes at a time of rapidly increasing digital asset adoption globally. The investment reinforces Amber Group’s strategic alignment with its investors, as well as a shared vision of digital assets’ future in a new, digital economy.

“From radically transforming the concept of ownership and value in the global economy, digital assets are redefining the way we live outside of the financial ecosystem. At Amber Group, we want to do more than just enable mainstream digital asset adoption. We want to help create a digital future where digital assets empower people with the opportunity and agency to shape a better world for all. We are proud to have the support of our investors who not only share this vision but also put their capital and trust in us to achieve it,” said Amber Group’s Global Chief Executive Officer, Michael Wu.

Founded in 2017, Amber Group has developed expertise in servicing both institutional and consumer markets. With global operations across 12 cities, the Singapore-headquartered company is one of the world’s leading liquidity providers, offering clients services that include algorithmic execution, electronic and OTC market-making derivatives, structured products, and advisory services. Amber Group also offers an award-winning consumer app, WhaleFin, and a full set of creative services and infrastructure in its OpenVerse business.

Amber Group is experiencing tremendous global growth, with cumulative transaction volume surpassing $1 trillion and assets under management growing to over $5 billion since its inception.  Amber Group’s institutional business continues to benefit from a strong systematic pricing framework and a focus on client service while the company’s consumer business, WhaleFin, allows mainstream investors to build wealth in the digital era, further democratizing access to the world of crypto finance. OpenVerse, Amber Group’s creator-focused venture, forms another key business pillar for the company as it launches support for creators, brands, and studios through its suite of services and digital infrastructure.

Amber Group’s industry leadership is reinforced by its commitment to upholding security and regulatory compliance. The company is among the first global digital wealth platforms to have achieved Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 compliance – an external, independent audit that benchmarks industry best practices in IT, security, and privacy controls. The company has also extended its list of licences after securing regulatory approvals from in-market financial authorities in Australia, the UK, Japan, and Switzerland. Amber Group is now expanding into new markets around the world through regulatory licensing and strategic acquisitions, such as the company’s latest acquisition of Japanese crypto exchange, DeCurret Inc.

“This latest round of capital will bring Amber Group to the next level. Besides making key hires to support our institutional business in Europe and the Americas where there have been tremendous interest from traditional financial institutions and large family offices, we plan to expand WhaleFin’s global footprint in both developed and developing markets worldwide and advance OpenVerse, which is already experiencing hyper-growth with a strong line-up of gaming studios, sports collectibles, digital artists and other partner brands. We will cast our sights beyond business expansion and strategic acquisitions too, as part of our commitment to building a sustainable future for all. We will continue to broaden our support of sustainability initiatives, with our recent partnership with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) being only the start of this journey,” added Wu.

“Digital assets are becoming an increasingly important category to watch, especially for institutional investors. With investment in Amber Group’s previous round, we are impressed by the professionalism of Michael and his team, as well as their ability to execute, their growth and focus on compliance. We continue to invest this round and believe Amber Group has the potential to become a leading digital asset platform in Asian market,” said Steven Ji, Partner of Sequoia China.

“Since Tru Arrow’s initial investment in Amber Group in 2021, it has been apparent to us that the company is building a transformational, global digital asset institution. Amber Group shows leadership in the quality of its team, standard of its regulatory approach and scale of its ambitions. With this ongoing endorsement from some of the world’s leading investors, the company continues to deliver on its growth plan without compromising on the integrity of its core principles. As a global investment partnership of some of the world’s leading families and entrepreneurs, Tru Arrow is proud to redouble its commitment to Amber Group, and take our collaboration to a new phase of expansion,” said James Rothschild, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Tru Arrow Partners.

“It’s been exciting to see Amber Group’s growth, as both an investor and a trading partner. When we originally invested in the company, we had high expectations – reality has exceeded our expectations. Their 24/7 global coverage team has helped Pantera execute over $1.1b in trades in 2021 and that continues to grow. The Amber Group team has done a phenomenal job building an institutional-grade platform and we’re proud to be a part of their story,” said Dan Morehead, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Pantera Capital.

 

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Flutterwave Teams Up with EFCC to Launch Cybercrime Research Hub in Nigeria

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Flutterwave - Investors King

Flutterwave has partnered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to establish a cutting-edge cybercrime research center in Nigeria.

This initiative comes in response to recent significant financial losses suffered by the payment technology company due to fraud.

Flutterwave, a leading payment technology company in Africa, has faced substantial financial setbacks due to cybercrime.

Recently, the company obtained a court order to recover $24 million lost to unauthorized Point of Sale (POS) transactions.

Also, Flutterwave reportedly lost N11 billion ($7 million) to fraudulent accounts in April 2024. These incidents have underscored the urgent need for enhanced cybersecurity measures.

The partnership was formalized through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on June 14 in Abuja by Flutterwave’s CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, and EFCC Secretary, Mohammadu Hammajoda.

The signing ceremony also saw the presence of EFCC Chair, Ola Olukoyede, and Christopher Gray representing the FBI, among other notable figures.

Agboola emphasized Flutterwave’s expertise in combating internet fraud, particularly the tactics employed by notorious fraudsters known as Yahoo Boys.

He highlighted that the new cybercrime research center would equip anti-corruption agents with advanced technological tools and techniques to detect and prevent cybercrimes.

“The state-of-the-art center, to be built at the EFCC academy, will focus on seven key areas: advanced fraud detection and prevention, collaborative research and policy development, youth empowerment and capacity building, technological advancement, and resource enablement,” Agboola stated.

The establishment of the cybercrime research hub is a proactive step to address the rampant internet fraud that threatens the stability and trust in Nigeria’s financial systems.

The collaboration aims to enhance the capabilities of EFCC operatives in preventing, detecting, and prosecuting financial crimes.

Ola Olukoyede, the EFCC Chair, praised the initiative as a significant leap forward in the fight against financial crimes.

“The cybercrime research center will significantly enhance our capabilities to prevent, detect, and prosecute financial crimes,” Olukoyede remarked. “The EFCC is impressed with Flutterwave’s strides across Africa, and this partnership marks a crucial step towards ensuring a secure financial landscape for Nigerians.”

The partnership between Flutterwave and the EFCC signifies a robust commitment to cybersecurity, aiming to create a safer and more secure financial environment in Nigeria.

This initiative not only addresses immediate financial threats but also aims to build a resilient framework to combat future cybercrimes effectively.

With the launch of the cybercrime research hub, Flutterwave and the EFCC are set to lead the charge against financial fraud, ensuring that the Nigerian financial sector remains secure and trustworthy for all stakeholders.

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Visa and Mastercard Face Setback as Judge Indicates Likely Rejection of $30 Billion Deal

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Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are facing a potential setback as a federal judge in Brooklyn indicated she is likely to reject their $30 billion settlement with retailers.

The deal, aimed at capping credit-card swipe fees, has been a focal point of contention between the card giants and merchants for years.

Judge Margo Brodie of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York expressed skepticism about the settlement during a hearing on Thursday.

According to court records, Judge Brodie suggested she might not approve the agreement, stating she would issue a written decision in the coming days.

Retailers have long campaigned to reduce their share of the costs associated with accepting card payments, known as interchange fees.

These fees, which are partially passed on to banks that issue the cards, including major institutions like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., have been a burden for many merchants.

Announced in March and pending court approval, the settlement was designed to allow merchants to charge consumers extra for transactions involving Visa or Mastercard credit cards.

The agreement also aimed to introduce pricing tactics to steer consumers towards lower-cost cards.

“The court’s comments strongly suggest that she won’t accept the settlement,” noted Justin Teresi, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “While Judge Brodie doesn’t seem convinced that larger retailers should be allowed to opt out from the settlement, provisions like changes to digital wallet acceptance rules and some state bans on surcharges likely present real adequacy issues.”

Both Visa and Mastercard expressed disappointment over the developments. A Mastercard representative stated, “We believe the settlement presented a fair resolution of this long-standing dispute, most notably by giving business owners more flexibility in how they manage their card acceptance activities. We will pursue our options to ensure a proper resolution of this matter.”

Visa’s spokesperson echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that “continued engagement between industry and the merchants is the best way forward.”

Swipe fees have become a substantial financial issue for retailers, totaling more than $160 billion last year, according to the Merchants Payments Coalition. Reactions to the settlement were mixed when it was announced, with some retail coalitions pledging a thorough review and others quickly opposing it.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, representing large merchants such as Target Corp. and Home Depot Inc., described the settlement as a “mere drop in the bucket” and urged careful review to assess if it adequately addresses the harm inflicted on retailers.

Doug Kantor, general counsel for the National Association of Convenience Stores, praised the judge’s remarks, stating, “We’re gratified to see that the court recognized how bad this settlement was.”

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African Fintech Kuda Raises $100M Despite Investment Challenges

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Kuda Microfinance Bank - Investors King

Kuda Technologies, a leading fintech company with operations in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, has successfully raised nearly $100 million in funding over the past five years.

This significant milestone was revealed by the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Babs Ogundeyi, during a panel session at the GITEX Africa conference in Morocco.

The GITEX Africa 2024 technology fair, which runs from May 29 to 31 in Marrakech, brings together over 1,500 exhibitors from 130 countries and nearly 700 startups.

During the event, Ogundeyi highlighted Kuda’s growth journey and the difficulties African fintech startups face in attracting foreign investment.

“We launched in Nigeria in August 2019 and have raised close to $100 million within that period,” Ogundeyi announced during the panel session titled “Beyond the Starting Lane: Navigating Advanced Funding.”

The session also featured prominent figures such as Sacha Michaud, co-founder of Glovo in Spain; Yassine Oussaifi, partner at Africinvest Tunisia; and Katlego Maphai, CEO of Yoco South Africa.

The discussion centered on the challenges and strategies for securing advanced funding for startups.

Ogundeyi emphasized that African startups often struggle to secure foreign investment due to investors’ unfamiliarity with the local market environment.

To mitigate this, Kuda Technologies established its headquarters in the UK, facilitating easier access to funding from Western investors.

“We are headquartered in the UK, but we are Africa-focused, and there is a reason why we are headquartered in the UK. It’s very much related to access to funding. The capital comes primarily from the west. It’s easier to attract capital in those jurisdictions,” Ogundeyi explained.

He stressed that securing funding is a rigorous process, particularly in Africa, where trust levels are low.

“When we raised our seed funding, the majority of investors had not been to Africa before, making it difficult to connect with something they didn’t understand. It goes beyond investors seeing the numbers or potential; if you don’t have a feel for the environment or understand the psyche of the people, it becomes very difficult to connect resources to that region,” Ogundeyi elaborated.

Despite the challenges, Kuda Technologies has made significant strides. Its subsidiary, Kuda Microfinance Bank in Nigeria, has grown its customer base to 7.5 million users, making it one of the largest fintech companies in Africa.

The company’s expansion strategy includes obtaining licenses in Canada and Tanzania, reflecting its vision of global reach.

Ogundeyi’s insights were echoed by Sacha Michaud, who noted that venture capitalists tend to invest in regions where they feel comfortable.

“We launched in Africa six years ago and were in high funding mode. In every funding round, we had to convince our investors why we were focusing on the region when we could invest our resources in higher-return areas like Europe,” Michaud shared.

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