Standard Chartered launches fintech innovation lab in Shanghai, China
Standard Chartered continues its drive to accelerate the company’s fintech capabilities by launching the eXellerator innovation lab in Shanghai, China. The lab is the latest addition to the network of innovation labs which are located across Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Kenya and San Francisco. The banking group aims to use these labs to create new technology strategies.
Commenting on the launch, Jerry Zhang, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank (China), said: “Rapid changes in financial technology are reshaping the future of the global banking industry, especially here in China which is home to some of the world’s most established companies leading the way in areas like artificial intelligence and Big Data. Given the strategic importance of this market to the Group, our innovation centre in Shanghai will play a crucial role to support us in proactively reinventing ourselves, by bringing together our people, clients and fintechs to co-create and deliver the next generation of products and services.”
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Alex Manson, Global Head of SC Ventures, added: “To truly rewire the DNA in banking, we need to go beyond just offering a digital interface. Our eXellerators create an environment which combines innovation from both in and outside the Bank, to rapidly prototype and experiment with new ideas and business models that will allow us to better serve our clients with solutions that addresses their problems or needs.”
Recently Standard Chartered has also forged many new partnerships such as a strategic joint venture with PCCW, HKT and Ctrip Finance to create a singular digital retail bank in Hong Kong. With these new initiatives set to digitally transform the company, it is on track to meet the demand in the market with an innovative edge.
Stripe backs Step - the digital bank for teens
The Series C round raised US$100m in capital from a number of backers, including Coatue, TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, actor Jared Leto, and Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, for the enterprise.
Step provides a free FDIC-insured bank account and Visa card to teenagers. The accounts are backed by Evolve Bank and there is no subscription charge for its usage. Users don’t pay for their accounts and there are also no overdraft fees.
The mobile banking app enables parents to set controls and limits on spending and encourage responsible finances. According to data released by the company, 88% of the platform’s users say this is their first bank account.
To date, Step has seen great success in the marketplace. The company has raised more than $175m from investors and now has 1.5m users.
Stripe, which was founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, previously led Step’s $22.5m Series A round in 2019.
Step's Series B funding round also brought in $50m, and has a distinctly celeb-tinged reputation with investors including Justin Timberlake and the pop duo The Chainsmokers.
Users get access to a free, FDIC-backed bank account, a spending card and P2P payments platform to send and receive money instantly.
CJ MacDonald, chief executive of Step, said the company is aiming to improve the financial futures of the next generation. “Step is the only banking platform that enables teens to start building a positive credit history before they turn 18 and does not charge fees of any kind.
He has previously spoken about the importance of financial literacy for young people. “Money is just one of those things where I think the more educated and equipped you are early, the better decisions you can make down the road,” he told . “And you can also prevent yourself from making costly mistakes. I mean, the average American doesn't have $400 in emergency savings and pays $350 a year in banking fees. If we can help this next generation just ultimately be smarter and more educated as it pertains to money, I think we'll all be better off.”
Kyle Doherty, managing director at General Catalyst and Step board member, explained, “Gen Z is flocking to modern financial solutions that can be easily embedded within their digital lives and Step has a unique model for how to do this right.”
The news follows on from Stripe’s recent announcement that it plans to acquire TaxJar. The fintech, which builds software for online businesses that automates the reporting and filing of sales taxes, will most likely be integrated with Stripe’s billing services.
Currently, No terms have been disclosed but the Boston start-up had raised more than $60m from investors including Insight Partners.
Stripe chief financial officer Dhivya Suryadevara said of the move, “With TaxJar, we will help millions of internet businesses running on Stripe with their sales tax and make it easier for them to sell internationally.”