Browse Tag

FinTech

4 mins read

Can Black-Owned Banks Benefit From Fintech layoffs?

Over the past few years, Black-owned banks have had some difficulty attracting IT professionals. And a national labor shortage, a pandemic, and the “great resignation” have not made this issue any easier to resolve.

Over the past few months, a slowdown in venture capital funding into the fintech sector has led to a wave of layoffs as a result of high interest rates, rising inflation, and falling stock market valuations.

Coinbase announced in June that it was laying off 18% of its workforce. Robinhood cut 9% of its workforce in April, followed by a 23% reduction in August. PayPal’s security R&D team, which was focusing on emerging technologies, was also laid off.

The fintech sector’s funding woes could possibly be the answer to the tech talent shortage at Black-owned banks. The opportunity presents itself at a pivotal time as the banking sector accelerates its transition to modern technology across the board, from artificial intelligence software to core computing in the cloud.

Black-owned banks now have an opportunity to hire innovative candidates that possess a combination of tech, customer experience, and finance skills.

But first, banks should ensure they have the systems in place to hire as quickly as possible.

Solutions include video interviews or implementing an interview and evaluation structure that allows multiple stakeholders to speak with applicants over the course of a single day. These  “marathon interviews” can be demanding but will accelerate the hiring process.

A particular focus should be placed on hiring those who specialize in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science. Banks have lagged behind when it comes to personalizing financial services and products. Meanwhile, fintech’s have done a great job of understanding client concerns.

As more fintech talent becomes available, banks should also consider what customer experience experts with fintech experience can bring to the table.

This would be an opportunity to hire those who have a thorough understanding of millennial and Gen Z customers and know how to cater to their needs.

These experts specialize in paying attention to consumer behavior and pain points while collaborating with technology teams to create personalized solutions.

Another reason that banks have struggled to attract tech talent is that their traditional cultures do not align with that of tech workers.

Traditional financial institutions should explore key motivators which would make their culture appealing to those who have developed skills in the fintech industry.

Flexible scheduling and the option to work from home are benefits that will help lure fintech talent. Talented millennial employees have realized the benefits of working when they are most effective as individuals, as opposed to the typical 9–5.

However, although fintechs’ cool culture and excitement gave them an advantage in recruiting, in uncertain economic times, workers with families may find greater security in traditional banks.

All of that being said, recruiting is only half the battle. As the skills gap continues, banks will also need to prioritize employee retention. Investing more in emerging technology and updating legacy systems will help retain these tech savvy professionals.

Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Clockwork Raises $2M to Revolutionize Financial Planning For Entrepreneurs

Mike Webb is the Co-Founder & COO at Clockwork. Clockwork is a software company that uses real-time information to automatically build out financial projections and cash flow forecasts for small to medium-sized businesses.

Through their Startup and Inclusion Program, the company helps any minority-owned company making less than $1 million in revenue with discounted tools and support.

In this episode, Mike shares:

  • The problem that his business was created to solve.
  • His experience raising a $2 million investment.
  • How Clockwork is using their investment capital.
  • Advice for other founders who are trying to raise money.

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1 min read

How Abbey Wemimo Built a Billion Dollar Business in 4 years

Abbey Wemimo is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Esusu, the leading financial technology company helping individuals save money and build credit.

After receiving a $130 million investment in 2021, Esusu is now valued at $1 billion, making the four-year-old company one of only a few Black-owned unicorns in the world.

In this episode Abbey shares:

  • How his background and journey to America inspired the creation of Esusu.
  • How it feels to have built a billion-dollar business.
  • The factors that contributed to Esusu being so attractive to investors.
  • The initial struggle he and his co-founder Samir Goel experienced trying to raise money.
  • How Esusu benefits renters and property owners.
  • Growing pains and how they are being addressed.
  • Where he sees Esusu in 5 years.
  • Advice for founders who aspire to build sustainable multimillion and billion-dollar businesses.

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2 mins read

Flutterwave Triples Valuation to $3 Billion, becoming the Highest Valued African Startup

African fintech Flutterwave has raised $250 million in a Series D round that tripled the company’s valuation to over $3 billion in only twelve months.

Flutterwave has grown significantly since Shoppe Black interviewed founder and CEO,  “GB “Agboola, last year.

“We started Flutterwave due to the fragmented nature of payments in Africa— there were multiple ways of making and receiving payments within countries but cross-border payments remained a hassle. This made it difficult for individuals like myself or businesses to make or receive international payments in Africa”, said Agboola.

Today, the company supports international payments for over 34 countries and processes payments across 150 currencies. In September 2021, the number of businesses using Flutterwave was 300,000. Now, 900,000 companies use Flutterwave to receive money from their customers.

fluttervwave
Flutterwave Founder and CEO, Olugbenga “GB “Agboola

B Capital Group led the $250 million round, with participation from Alta Park Capital LP, Whale Rock Capital and Lux Capital. Several existing investors who participated in previous rounds also followed this round, including Glynn Capital, Avenir Growth, Tiger Global, Green Visor Capital and Salesforce Ventures.

The company will use the funds to expand through mergers and acquisitions in Africa and the Middle East in the coming months.

Flutterwave currently facilitates cross-border transactions in multiple currencies for Uber, Netflix, and Microsoft on their expansion across Africa.  And, have started talking to many other US-based merchants that have growth ambitions across the continent.

Tony O. Lawson


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2 mins read

Black Owned Credit Building Platform, Esusu Raises $130 Million, now valued at $1 Billion

In the U.S., credit is your lifeline to the financial system. To date, 45 million Americans lack credit scores, and millions more are marginalized due to their background, race, and zip code.

Esusu is a rent reporting platform that captures rental payment data and reports it to credit bureaus to boost users’ credit scores.

Founded in 2018 by Abbey Wemimo and Samir Goel, Esusu was built to include everyone on the journey from financial identity and stability toward financial wellness that leads to wealth building.

Over the past year, Esusu has experienced monumental growth spurred by industry adoption, new rent reporting regulations, and partnerships with the country’s largest property owners and operators.

Esusu works with over 30% of the largest asset managers and property managers in the nation and helps report rent payments for more than two million rental units across all 50 states in the U.S., up from 1 million units last year.

Today, the 4-year-old company announced that it has raised $130 million in a Series B fundraising round. This investment gives Esusu a valuation of $1 billion, making it one of the very few Black-owned unicorns in the U.S. and globally.

“We started Esusu with the belief that where you come from, the color of your skin, and your financial identity should not determine where you end up in life,” said Wemimo in a statement.

The round was led by Softbank with participation from Jones Feliciano Family Office, Lauder Zinterhofer Family Office, Schusterman Foundation, SoftBank Opportunity Fund, Related Companies, and Wilshire Lane Capital.

Esusu plans to use the funding to triple its employees, “turbocharge growth through product innovation, and build the most comprehensive financial health platform in the market.”

Tony O. Lawson


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5 mins read

This Black Owned FinTech is on a Mission to Improve Your Financial Health

OurBanc is a Black owned fintech that aims to dismantle the systemic barriers that America’s financial system has traditionally embraced with banking,

The company is built with the fundamental purpose of creating a fair and equitable relationship between individuals and financial services that enables everyone to view, manage, move, and grow their money to improve their financial health and end the perpetual deterioration of wealth in underserved communities.

We caught up with OurBanc CEO and founder, David Dwumah to find out more.

Black Owned Banking App
OurBanc CEO and founder, David Dwumah

What experiences inspired you to start OurBanc?  

We believe that the promise of fair and accessible services heralded by technology is yet to be fulfilled, especially for Black and brown communities. 

Growing up in Ghana, I was fascinated by Susu. In this non-formal community-based savings practice, family and friends borrow and lend money to each other. Today, I am amazed by how cellphone-based mobile money efficiently and exponentially connects the “unbanked” and “underbanked” with banking services, thus radically transforming their lives. 

Founding OurBanc is a culmination of my lifelong observation and belief in the power of people helping people, the use of the right technology to better the lives of others, and my firsthand experiences as an immigrant and black consumer. 

Black Owned Banking App   

In what ways do you feel your company can help users improve their financial health?    

We believe that society is at an inflection point. The social justice and pandemic events of 2020 have shown that our economic and social environments are ready for meaningful change. We believe ESG focused strategies will drive better outcomes for investors and the communities we serve.

The technology needed to create positive solutions is now more affordable and widely available. 

We believe open banking, equitable and widespread faster payments will be the foundation of fairness and inclusion that better serves the unbanked and under-banked communities. A fitting example of how we plan to use open banking is to provide short-term loans.

We plan to offer fairer short-term loans without hidden fees such as “tips” and payment terms based on a member’s ability to repay the loan and not limited to just credit scores.  

  Black Owned Banking App

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

In 5 years, we expect to share the results of what we have done to help provide minority-owned companies and underrepresented founders access to patient and mission-aligned capital. I recently became a member of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism. We commit to doing our part to significantly ease minority-owned companies’ access to patient and mission-aligned capital. 

According to FDIC surveys, sixty million Americans spend $3,000 a year on payday loans, check cashing, ATM fees, and more. That is not right. Our goal is to reduce this by at least $1000 over the next five years for the members of OurBanc. We are confident that we can inspire FinTech for good and help accelerate meaningful change within the industry. 

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?  

Find your purpose, nurture the right relationships, and develop the grit to see you through the challenging times!  

How can we support you today?  

We believe in the equality of opportunity for all. That is why we are building a community-driven Fintech where everyday people can be valued customers and potential owners and co-creators of our solutions. By Crowdfunding, we believe we are doing our part in the democratizing of the early-stage investment process.

We invite the Shoppe Black community, friends, and allies to be part of this special moment by visiting our pitch page here https://wefunder.com/ourbanccorporation.   

 

Tony O. Lawson


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7 mins read

Meet The CEO of Flutterwave, Nigeria’s Billion Dollar Startup

Launched in 2016 as a Nigerian and U.S.-based payments company with offices in Lagos and San Francisco, Flutterwave builds payments infrastructure that connects Africa to the global economy.

Flutterwave is also one of only four unicorns ($1 billion+ startups) in Africa. Two other unicorns are located in Nigeria—and one in Egypt.

We caught up with Flutterwave founder and CEO, Olugbenga “GB “Agboola to find out more about his company and its future plans.

flutterwave
Flutterwave Founder and CEO, Olugbenga “GB “Agboola

What inspired you to start Flutterwave?

We started Flutterwave due to the fragmented nature of payments in Africa— there were multiple ways of making and receiving payments within countries but cross-border payments remained a hassle. This made it difficult for individuals like myself or businesses to make or receive international payments in Africa. 

It was easier for me to send and receive money from the UK than to do the same from Lagos to Nairobi. We saw an opportunity to address this problem and worked with a group of passionate Engineers, Bankers, Designers, Builders, and Marketers to build Flutterwave, to simplify payments for endless possibilities.  

Today, we support international payments for over 34 countries and process payments across 150 currencies. We have over 300,000 businesses using our solutions to receive money from their customers and continue on their growth journey. 

During the lockdown, you helped set up digital storefronts for over 20,000 of your clients. Why was it important for you even though e-commerce isn’t part of your core business?

This was our own way of helping our customers cushion the impact of the pandemic. The lockdowns in 2020 meant that businesses that earlier depended on making physical sales were all out of revenue opportunities. We built out this solution to enable them to continue selling while they were at home. 

Flutterwave has over 25,000 businesses across Africa— some selling skincare, beauty products, others selling shoes and fashion items, etc on the Flutterwave Store. It’s interesting to note how small businesses are currently using the solutions and the huge opportunity this has for the future. 

Here are a few ways small businesses are using the solution. This barbecue Business—Smoked Barbecue in a Box offers home delivery with the support of Flutterwave Store. This cocktail company—Big Fish Cocktail offers unique drinks sold over the Flutterwave Store.  

flutterwave

What are some of your plans to offer payment services to US-based clients and companies?

We are excited for the opportunity to offer Flutterwave’s payment infrastructure to US-based clients and companies.  Currently, we are already working with merchants such as Uber, Netflix, and Microsoft on their expansion across Africa.  And, we have started talking to many other US-based merchants that have growth ambitions across the continent.  

We also have several strategic partnerships that will help us expand the services that we can offer to our merchant base and look forward to launching those in the near future for our US merchants.

What are your thoughts on the importance of African Americans being more involved in the African startup scene as founders and/or investors? 

First is the massive economic benefits and opportunities for African Americans to access the widely untapped trillion dollar economic opportunities both in Africa and in the US. By 2030, Africa will have 1.7 billion people and a combined consumer and business spending of 6.7 trillion U.S. dollars (Brookings). The continent is creating a new development path and harnessing the potential of its people and resources. 

Secondly is the socio-economic benefit. The African-American community can play a huge part in the prosperity of the continent by starting up or investing in businesses that will bring socio-economic change and employ more people on the continent. Advancing US-Africa trade, investment, and technology in Africa would unlock massive economic growth and increased prosperity for both regions.

flutterwave
Team Flutterwave

What future plans do you have that involve cryptocurrency?

We support our customers and help them in countries where they are compliant with the regulations. We are excited to explore diverse use cases of our solutions across the world and across various sectors in compliance with regulations guiding such sectors and countries. Our future plans include working with all stakeholders to better understand and use the technology in a way that protects the consumers.      

What advice do you have for those in the Diaspora that are interested in entering the rapidly growing tech startup space in Nigeria?

Just do it! Through skill share, knowledge share, and investments in the tech ecosystem, the African diaspora can help unlock some of the continent’s full potential. The best time to invest in Africa was a few years back.

The second best time is now. The continent is on the fast track in building cutting edge technologies across healthcare, payments, logistics, e-commerce and the market is readily available.

The regulators are also learning fast and catching up with the speedy innovations on the continent. Africa is rich in talent; the diaspora should consider looking inward for talents that can help build, run and scale their businesses. 

 

Tony O. Lawson


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4 mins read

Black Data Scientist Creates a Digital Wallet For Lending and Borrowing Cryptocurrency

The World Data Science Institute is an SEC-registered financial data science research and development company. They develop Blockchain and financial technology applications.

So far, the startup has raised over $145,000 to launch its flagship product, CryptoShare. CryptoShare is a digital wallet and peer-to-peer lending app that provides the unbanked and credit challenged with the ability to borrow money.

THE PROBLEM

According to Fico statistics, African Americans have the lowest credit scores and are declined for loans three times as much as white applicants. Nearly 30% of African Americans and Hispanics do not have a bank account at all!

African Americans and Hispanics are also disproportionately forced to use high-interest cash advances and pawnshop loans that can be up to 500%.

This clearly shows that an inexcusable amount of African Americans and Hispanics do not have access to adequate loan products.

THE SOLUTION

CrypstoShare replaces the need for a bank account (think Paypal) and allows peer-to-peer lending to be done within the app, giving users the option to use physical and digital assets as collateral at much lower interest rates.

Physical assets can be placed in a Blockchain Smart Locker similar to the Amazon lockers that are used for deliveries.

The borrower places physical assets in the locker and if they don’t pay, the lender will have access to collateral in the locker or it will be mailed to them.

The digital wallets come with a Digital Debit Card so borrowers can use funds immediately to shop online and if they need cash they can withdraw from ATMs.

The most important part is interest rates will range from 10 – 20%. Essentially eliminating the need for expensive high interest loan options that plague the African American and Hispanic communities.

THE FOUNDER: Anade Davis

Anade Davis

What inspired you to start CryptoShare?

I have struggled with either credit and access to funding to grow businesses my entire life. Sometimes I struggled to have access to both at the same time!

As I grew older and traveled to different countries; I realized how many people were dealing with the same struggles internationally.

The problem is the current global banking and credit system excludes billions of people. One thousand US dollars ($1,000) is enough in many countries to jumpstart a business.

These are the reasons that inspired me to create a lending solution for people around the world utilizing Cryptocurrency and ATMs.

What advantages does CryptoShare offer borrowers and lenders?

  • It’s convenient. The only document borrowers will need to provide is their ID.
  • It’s flexible. Ability to customize the loan terms to suit lenders’ needs. Both borrower and lender can customize their loan terms according to their requirements.
  • It’s accessible to everyone because there is no need for a bank account, credit score, or income statement.

How can people support you right now?

You can support us by investing as little as $100 before the investor close date of October 1!

 

Tony O. Lawson


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1 min read

Africa Focused Flutterwave Now Valued at Over $1 Billion after $170 Million Investment

Founded in 2016, Flutterwave is a payment processing company that makes it easier to do business across the Continent by allowing users to make international payments in their own currencies.

Yesterday, the San Fransico based company announced that it has secured $170 million from a group of international investors as part of a successful Series C round.

flutterwave
Flutterwave Ceo and co-founder, Olugbenga Agboola
The round was led by growth-equity firms Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger Global Management with participation from new and existing investors. The fundraise brings the total investment in Flutterwave to $225 million and values the company at $1 billion.
flutterwave
Flutterwave Co-founder, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji

“We may consider the possibility of listing in New York or a possible dual listing in New York and Nigeria,” Flutterwave’s CEO and co-founder Olugbenga Agboola told Reuters on Tuesday.

This latest investment, made a year after Flutterwave announced a partnership with Visa and Worldpay, highlights the growing interest in the booming payments market in Africa.

 

Tony O. Lawson


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6 mins read

Black Owned FinTech Firm To Disburse $2 Billion in COVID Relief Grants

Back in November of 2020, Lendistry, a Black owned Fintech firm was selected to administer $500 million in grants to small businesses, nonprofits, and cultural institutions impacted by the pandemic across California.

After successfully disbursing the grants on behalf of the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, Lendistry has now been tasked with administering quadruple that amount, to the tune of $2.075 billion.

Lendistry will provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 for qualified small businesses and nonprofits, with $50 million allocated specifically for California nonprofit cultural institutions.

“The demand for funding has been immense, with small businesses and nonprofits reaching out for relief and support as they endure through this pandemic,” said Everett K. Sands, Lendistry’s founder and CEO. “During the initial funding rounds, we successfully connected small businesses and nonprofits with grants across all 58 counties in California, and we’re eager to use our platform to swiftly deploy this critical, additional funding so business owners can keep their lights on and serve their communities during this trying time.”

black owned fintech firm
Everett Sands, CEO of Lendistry

The latest round of funding was recently approved by the California legislature, and the relief program is being administered by California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), part of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).

According to a recent press release, since the launch of the initial funding rounds more than 40,000 grantees have been selected to move forward, more than 350,000 grant applications have been successfully submitted, and 87% of selected applicants represent underserved and disadvantaged small businesses.

Demand for grant funding has far surpassed supply, and this latest financing for small business relief presents an additional and necessary opportunity for eligible applicants still seeking support.

The new funding will be distributed in four additional rounds, beyond the initial funding rounds Lendistry has already completed, in the following order:

New Funding Rounds:

Round 3 (waitlisted from Rounds 1 and 2): Friday, March 5th through Thursday, March 11th, 2021

    • Eligible applicants: This is a closed round and only available to eligible applicants who were waitlisted in Rounds 1 and 2 – only existing applicants will be selected. If you were waitlisted, you do not need to reapply. New applications will not be accepted in this round.
    • Eligible grant award: $5,000 to $25,000
    • Details: This is a closed funding round; no new applications will be accepted

Round 4 (nonprofit cultural institutions only): Tuesday, March 16th through Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

      • Eligible applicants: Only nonprofit cultural institutions with any revenue size that meet eligibility criteria found at CAReliefGrant.com
      • Eligible grant award: $5,000 – $25,000
      • Details: Eligible nonprofit cultural institutions must complete a new application even if they already applied in Rounds 1 and 2; grants will only be available to nonprofits that did not receive funding in Rounds 1, 2 or 3; grants will be prioritized based on the documented percentage revenue declines based on a reporting period comparing Q2 and Q3 of 2020 versus Q2 and Q3 of 2019

Round 5: Thursday, March 25th through Wednesday, March 31st

    • Eligible applicants: current waitlisted small businesses and nonprofits not selected in Rounds 1, 2, or 3 and new applicants that meet eligibility criteria found at CAReliefGrant.com
    • Eligible grant award: $5,000 – $25,000
    • Details: Applicants not selected to receive a grant in Rounds 1, 2, & 3 do not need to reapply as they will be automatically moved into Round 5. New applicants will need to apply at CAReliefGrant.com

Round 6: Date to be announced soon

    • Eligible applicants: current waitlisted small businesses and/or nonprofits not selected in Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 and new applicants that meet eligibility criteria found at CAReliefGrant.com
    • Eligible grant award: $5,000 – $25,000
    • Details: Applicants not selected to receive a grant in Rounds 1, 2, 3 & 5 do not need to re-apply and will be automatically moved into Round 6. New applicants will need to apply at CAReliefGrant.com

Lendistry is again providing application assistance through its statewide network of partners, consisting of fellow mission-based financial institutions, small business advisory and technical assistance providers, and State-supported small business centers to facilitate the application process in multiple languages and formats.

Grants will not be issued on a first-come, first-served basis and will be awarded after the close of each application round.

For funding rounds focused on small businesses and nonprofits (3, 5, & 6) the funding for California small businesses and nonprofits will again prioritize regions and industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, disadvantaged communities, and underserved small business groups.

For application assistance and more information on application deadlines, grant requirements, and eligibility, please visit CAReliefGrant.com.