More evidence that the online money transfer space is heating up significantly, as startups aim to disrupt the banks and incumbents such as Western Union. Money transfer startup Azimo has closed a $10 million series A round.
The new funding, which follows a $1 million seed round late last year, is being led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from Accion’s Frontier Investments Group, eVentures (who led Azimo’s seed round), TA Ventures, RI Digital Ventures, and KRW Schindler Investments.
The UK company says it will use the funds to accelerate European expansion and target other key markets in North America and Asia. Meanwhile, Kamran Ansari from Greycroft Partners, and Monica Brand, Managing Director for Accion’s Frontier Investments Group, will join Azimo’s board.
Launched in August 2012, Azimo aims to disrupt the remittance industry by letting users transfer money internationally to friends, family or other contacts via the Web, its mobile apps or Facebook, charging between 1 percent and 2 percent of the transaction, which is significantly cheaper than the rates charged by the likes of Western Union, PayPal or, indeed, the banks. The recipient receives the money either in their bank account, at local cash collection points, or as “mobile wallet” top-up credit.
It currently supports money transfer from numerous European countries to 192 countries globally, and cites fastest recipient growth in Latin America, West Africa, and South East Asia.
As we’ve previously noted, the European online money transfer market is a hot space right now, as is fintech in general. Just today, WorldRemit received a $40 million investment from Accel Partners. Last October, Dublin-based peer-to-peer currency exchange CurrencyFair raised a further $2.5 million led by Frontline Ventures. And just a few weeks earlier, Lithuanian-based TransferGo, which also operates a P2P model to undercut the banks, announced it had raised a modest €200,000 in funding to launch in the UK. Then of course there’s London-based TransferWise, backed to the tune of $7.35 million by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, SV Angel, IA Ventures, Index, Seedcamp, and TAG.
To that end, Monica Brand, Managing Director for Accion’s Frontier Investments Group, comments in a statement: “We’ve looked at the investment case for numerous remittance ventures around the world. The Azimo team’s track record in the sector, disruptive business model and their commitment to serve the two-and-a-half-billion unbanked potential remittance recipients, made us decide this was the business to back. We believe this is an exciting investment with potential for scale that can also change the world for the better.”
Change the world for the better, perhaps; money does make the world go round after all. And online money transfer startups are no exception.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/eqPqc167taI/
I did a lot of cool things at SXSWi 2014, but one of the coolest things I got to do was go for a trip in a private jet and test out some cool new technology from Gogo. As you probably know, Gogo powers wireless Internet for a number of airlines in the U.S. But now it’s extending that technology to eventually also enable smartphone users to text from the air and even make phone calls.
It plans to do that with a new “text and talk” app that relays messages and voice calls by making them digital and passing data to and from their base stations on the ground. The app will be released for iOS and Android, and should be made available over the next few months.
According to Gogo’s VP of product Brad Jaehn, in North America most airlines and the FAA have restricted voice calls while on an aircraft. But there are many places in the world, he says, where the technology is not only allowed, but has been requested.
The app is currently in beta and in use by some of the company’s power users. But it will be made more widely available soon, so you can text your friends even while you’re flying. And won’t that be fun.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/ZRgszSCSVyw/
I’ve been staring at my copy of Titanfall all… day. I’ve been itchin’ to hop back in the saddle of my Giant-Robot-of-Doom since the Beta ended, and finally, launch day was here — but I had to, you know, work. Being an adult has its perks and all, but video game launch days tend to be a little less awesome then they used to be.
Finally, the ol’ whistle blows. I pop in my copy… install the game… hit the launch button… aaaand..
“There was a problem. We couldn’t sign you in. Try again in a few minutes.”
Turns out, I’m not the only one.
While some people seem to be able to log in, the official status page says that the “Core Services” for Xbox Live on the Xbox One are currently “Limited” — particularly, signing in is busted. If you’re already signed in, you might be alright. But if you’re just getting home from work and are ready to squash some fools? Here, you’ll need this.
At the time of publishing, Xbox Live has been up and down (but mostly down) for four hours.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/15okAnbqlu4/
Alibaba has agreed to spend HKD $6.24 billion (about USD $804 million) for a 60% stake in TV and film producer ChinaVision Media Group. The purchase will allow Alibaba, which already dominates China’s e-commerce market, to boost its digital entertainment strategy.
In addition to its own TV series and movies, ChinaVision is also the distributor for films like “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demon.” ChinaVision said it has agreed to issue new shares to Alibaba at HKD $0.50 a share.
Like its rivals, including WeChat-maker Tencent and Baidu, Alibaba has sought to diversify its online services with a series of acquisitions and strategic alliances over the last year. Streaming video has become increasingly popular in China as mobile penetration increases and its majority stake in ChinaVision will allow Alibaba to offer more content across its different platforms.
Alibaba’s deal comes one month after it offered to $1.13 billion to buy mapping company AutoNavi Holdings, which it already owns a 28% stake in. Last year, Alibaba bought an 18% stake in Sina Weibo, and the two recently jointly launched a mobile payment platform.
Meanwhile, rival Tencent agreed to take a 15% stake in JD.com, the second-largest e-commerce company in China after Alibaba, earlier this week. Its other acquisitions include a 20% stake in Dianping, a restaurant review app.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/hDsOJxeJxBk/
A whole host of connected hardware accelerators have cropped up in the last year in Europe and beyond, and now ￼￼￼hub:raum, Deutsche Telekom’s incubator, wants in on the action. It’s running a three-day Internet of Things (IoT) “bootcamp” in Berlin next month and is currently inviting hopeful IoT startups from anywhere in the world to apply.
Specifically, the telco is on the hunt for early-stage companies operating in the following three categories: smart home, consumer electronics and hardware; wearables and mobile; and B2B commercial applications. 12 startups will be picked in total for which Deutsche Telekom will cover travel expenses and accommodation, while the eventual winning startup, chosen on the final day, will be awarded a cash prize of €10,000.
The three-day bootcamp runs from April 6–8 and lines up as follows: a networking dinner on the first night; pitching on day two and more networking with industry experts, including those from ￼Deutsche Telekom; and a final day of investor “speed dating” and the award ceremony for the winning IoT startup.
Applications close on the 20th of March.
As we’ve noted before, while software bootcamps still dominate the accelerator scene, dedicated hardware accelerators (and/or hardware arms added to existing programmes) have been arriving en masse, fuelled by crowdfunding sites and cheaper electronics component costs.
Most recently Buildit launched as a new 3 month accelerator program based in Estonia’s Tartu Science Park. Other examples include China-based Haxlr8r; Flextronics’ backed Lab IX; Startupbootcamp run High Tech XL, the U.K.-based Springboard IoT accelerator (now merged with TechStars); and a joint R/GA and Techstars programme aimed specifically at accelerating connected devices, to name a few.
It also comes at a time when the UK (amongst others) appears to be jostling for IoT relevance. Just this week, the U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron — breathlessly describing the IoT era as having the potential to usher in a new “industrial revolution” — announced an additional £45 million in funding for research in areas linked to the Internet of Things, taking the total pot of taxpayer cash sloshing around the U.K. for helping to develop connected devices to £73 million.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/142FI9TA2W4/
And the award for cutest wearable goes to… Moff! A smart bangle for kids that’s being developed by — you guessed it — a Japanese company (such kawaii) on a mission to transform boring everyday objects into toys with sound effects.
The Moff wearable is a slap band — i.e. no need to fiddle with fastenings; you just slap it against your wrist and it wraps around. The band then links up to an iOS device via Bluetooth 4.0 to allow for different sound effects to be chosen via the corresponding Moff app. (An Android app is apparently also in the works).
The band contains accelerometers and gyros so it can sense a range of movements of the Moff wearer and translate them into sounds. Such as an air guitar strum, a magic wand twirl, a toy gun recoil, and so on.
The band contains an exchangeable coin battery that’s apparently good for 30 hours of gesture-based play.
Moff’s creators have taken to Kickstarter to raise $20,000 to turn their working sound effect producing prototype into the stuff of kids’ dreams. They’ve raised more than $8,300 so far, with 29 days left on their funding period.
They are also planning an SDK and an app store where developers will be able to sell apps for Moff users, or use its sensing platform by connecting it to an existing app to extend its functionality by adding a gesture interface.
Moff’s makers have also clearly got their eye on bringing branded cartoon content to their kid-focused platform, noting on the Kickstarter campaign page:
For companies that have content or characters (including sounds and voices), you can offer them in our app store, as your own apps or materials for users’ customization. Moff will extend the possibilities of your own content and characters, and you will get more fans worldwide.
How much will Moff cost? It’s currently priced at $45 for one band for early-bird backers, rising to $49 once all those pledges are gone. The estimated ship date for Moff is this July.
Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/MTDTBfJb20M/