Translate

Post Your Self

Hello Dearest Gameforumer.com readers

Its your chance to get your news, articles, reviews on board, just use the link: PYS

Thanks and Regards

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News


2020 will be a challenging year for challenger banks

Posted: 04 Jan 2020 02:53 PM PST

Over the past year, startup banks have proven that they have a shot at disrupting retail banking. These challengers have amassed a war chest of funding, announced some ambitious international expansion plans and attracted millions of customers.

And yet, building a bank has proven to be even harder than building a startup in general. Retail banks aren't willing to sit back and watch startups eat their lunch. Here's a look back at the biggest moves of the year from challenger banks, some trends you should keep an eye on and the upcoming challenges for those startups.

A year of aggressive growth

Due to the regulatory framework and the size of the market, it is much easier to launch a challenger bank in Europe compared to anywhere else in the world. That's why challenger banks have been thriving in Europe.

When a company gets a full banking license from the central bank of a EU country, the startup can passport its license across all EU countries and operate across the continent.

N26 raised a ton of money in 2019: last January, the Berlin-based startup announced a $300 million funding round, raising another $170 million in July. The company is now valued at $3.5 billion.

With more than 3.5 million customers in Europe, N26 announced some ambitious expansion plans. N26 is now live in the U.S. and is already planning a launch in Brazil.

Revolut has also been aggressively expanding in order to beat its competitors to new markets. In addition to its home market in the U.K., Revolut is available across Europe. In 2019, the company expanded to Singapore and Australia and currently has at least 8 million users.

While Revolut announced that it should launch in the U.S. and Canada by the end of last year, the clock ran out on that prediction. The startup has been very transparent about its expansion plans, even though it sometimes means that you have to wait months or even years before a full rollout.

For instance, Revolut announced in September 2018 that it would launch in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan "in the coming months." It later became "early 2019," then "2019." India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and the UAE have also all been mentioned at some point. In other words: launching a banking product in a new country is hard.

The U.S. is a tedious market as you have to get a license in all 50 states to operate across the country

Monzo has been doing well at home in the U.K. It has attracted 3 million customers and raised £113 million (~$144m) in funding last year from Y Combinator's Continuity fund. It is expanding to the U.S., but the rollout has been slow.

Nubank is another well-funded challenger bank. Backed by Tencent, the startup has raised a $400 million Series F round from TCV. According to the WSJ, the startup has a valuation above $10 billion.

Originally from Brazil, Nubank expanded to Mexico and has plans to expand to Argentina.

Chime is increasingly looking like the bigger player in the U.S., recently raising a $500 million funding round and reached a valuation of $5.8 billion. It only operates in the U.S.

Starling Bank and Atom Bank only operate in the U.K. Bunq is based in Amsterdam with a product tailor-made for the Netherlands, but it accepts customers across Europe.

This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list as it's becoming increasingly hard to cover all challenger banks.

Subscription-based business model

There are a few basic features that separate challenger banks from legacy retail banks. Signing up is extremely simple and only requires a mobile app. The mobile app itself is usually much more polished than traditional banking apps.

Users receive a Mastercard or Visa debit card that communicates with the company's server for each transaction. This way, users can receive instant notifications, block and unblock their cards and turn off some features, such as foreign payments, ATM withdrawals and online transactions.

Challenger banks usually customers promise no markup fees on transactions in foreign currencies, but there are sometimes some limits on this feature.

So how do these companies make money? When you pay with your card, banks generate a tiny, tiny interchange fee of money on each transaction. It's really small, but it could become serious revenue at scale with tens of millions or hundreds of millions of users.

Challenger banks also offer other financial services like insurance products, foreign exchange or consumer credit. Some challenger banks develop those features in house, but many of those features are actually managed by external fintech partners. Challenger banks generate a commission on those products.

But the most promising product is premium subscriptions. While challenger banks started with free accounts and low, transparent fees, they have been selling premium subscriptions for a fixed monthly fee.

Challenger banks have become a software-as-a-service industry with a freemium component

For example, Revolut offers premium accounts for €7.99 per month with higher limits, some insurance benefits that you'd expect from a premium card and access to advanced features, such as cryptocurrencies and disposable virtual cards. There's a super premium product for €13.99 called Metal with a metal card design, cashback on card payments and access to a concierge feature.

This seems a bit counterintuitive, but premium subscriptions have been performing well, according to discussions with people working in the industry. You pay a lot in subscription fees in order to avoid small transactional fees. (And you also get a cool card.)

Challenger banks have become a software-as-a-service industry with a freemium component. It leads to a premium positioning and high expectations from customers.

Revolut’s fees top out at €13.99/month.

Upcoming challenges

A venture firm that invests ‘from Park City to Kansas City’ just closed its third fund

Posted: 04 Jan 2020 12:10 PM PST

Sometimes, in venture capital, it pays to specialize. The latest indicator is a Kansas City, Mo.-based venture firm that’s focused on seed-stage startups that are based anywhere from “Park City to Kansas City.” According to an SEC filing, it just closed on $16.4 million in capital commitments. It’s the third fund for the outfit, Royal Street Ventures, which was founded several years ago by two Kansas City natives — Laura Brady and Jeffrey Stowell.

It’s an interesting piece of geography to be so focused on, partly because, well, it leaves out a lot of opportunities elsewhere.

At the same time, the firm is hardly the first to plant a flag in an underserved area, then get to work. It’s hard to remember now, but when Foundry Group opened its doors in 2007 in Boulder, Colorado, it didn’t have many, if any, competitors kicking the tires of local startups — or bidding up valuations. Similarly, former Sequoia Capital investors Mark Kvamme and Chris Olsen hightailed it to Columbus, Ohio, in 2013 based on a hunch that there were plenty of savvy founders in the Midwest who investors on both coasts were missing.

Certainly, Brady and Stowell, who previously worked for a bank and the innovation center out of which Royal Street sprang, aren’t having trouble putting money to work. They’ve written checks to at least 40 Midwestern and Western U.S. startups since the firm’s launch in 2016, including an organic snack company in Park City called Allgood Provisions; a Kansas City company called BacklotCars that’s building marketplace for the wholesale automotive industry; and a weather data company in Overland Park, Ks., called Main Street Data.

They’re also making the occasional investment in a startup off the beaten path. Blueboard, for example, an employee recognition and incentives program, is based in San Francisco.

Either way, the team’s new fund underscores a growing tendency on the part of limited partners to make bets on parts of the U.S. that are on the rise, thanks partly to soaring costs in places like the Bay Area and New York, as well as competition for talent in such tech hubs — a constant tug-of-war can hobble a startup before it gains meaningful momentum.

Among the highest-profile advocates for the trend, of course, is AOL founder Steve Case, who has been banging the drum about startups in underserved areas all over the U.S. in recent years. Case has also been helping to raise investing capital for them through seed funds dubbed Rise of the Rest, the second of which was announced back in October.

Samsung’s latest flagship and foldable appear set for a Feb 11 announcement

Posted: 04 Jan 2020 10:35 AM PST

Odds are Samsung didn't plan to leak news about its upcoming handsets the weekend before CES. But honestly, who knows at this point? A little early publicity never hurt. This one comes courtesy of a teaser video that got teased a little earlier than planned by way of the company's official Vimeo channel. The leak was spotted by this individual on Twitter and posted to XDA Developers.

The video appears to be a promo for Unpacked, where Samsung is set to unveil its latest flagship, be it the Galaxy S11 or the Galaxy S20, depending which early reports you believe. The February 11 date lines up with some rumors (not to mention the synergy of 11), though others have had the company announcing the devices exactly a week later.

If past years are any indication, the event is likely set for San Francisco, keeping with the relatively recent trend of getting out in front of the Mobile World Congress news deluge by a couple of weeks.

The video animation also appears to point to a pair of devices. There's a standard rectangle, likely representing the flagship device and a squarer foldable successor to last year's troubled Galaxy Fold. Here are a bunch of rumors about the former. As for the latter, early speculation has pointed to a cheaper device, with a classic phone clamshell folding mechanism, akin to the recently announced Motorola Razr.

Notably, Samsung also recently announced a pair of "Lite" versions of its its flagship S10 and Note 10 devices.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

2019 was a hot mess for cybersecurity, but 2020 shows promise

Posted: 04 Jan 2020 10:30 AM PST

It’s no secret that I hate predictions — not least because the security field changes rapidly, making it difficult to know what’s next. But given what we know about the past year, we can make some best-guesses at what’s to come.

Ransomware will get worse, and local governments will feel the heat

File-encrypting malware that demands money for the decryption key, known as ransomware, has plagued local and state governments in the past year. There have been a near-constant stream of attacks in the past year — Pensacola, Florida and Jackson County, Georgia to name a few. Governments and local authorities are particularly vulnerable as they’re often underfunded, unresourced and unable to protect their systems from many major threats. Worse, many are without cybersecurity insurance, which often doesn’t pay out anyway.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said ransomware is designed to “inflict fear and uncertainty, disrupt vital services, and sow distrust in public institutions.”

“While often viewed as basic digital extortion, ransomware has had materially adverse impacts on markets, social services like education, water, and power, and on healthcare delivery, as we have seen in a number of states and municipalities across the United States,” he said earlier this year.

As these kinds of cyberattacks increase and victims feel compelled to pay to get their files back, expect hackers to continue to carry on attacking smaller, less prepared targets.

California’s privacy law will take effect — but its repercussions won’t be immediately known

On January 1, California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) began protecting the state’s 40 million residents. The law, which has similarities to Europe’s GDPR, aims to put much of a consumer’s data back in their control. The law gives consumers a right to know what information companies have on them, a right to have that information deleted and the right to opt-out of the sale of that information.

But many companies are worried — so much so that they’re lobbying for a weaker but overarching federal law to supersede California’s new privacy law. The CCPA’s enforcement provisions will kick in some six months later, starting in July. Many companies are not prepared and it’s unclear exactly what impact the CCPA will have.

One thing is clear: expect penalties. Under GDPR, companies can be fined up to 4% of their global annual revenue. California’s law works on a sliding scale of fines, but the law also allows class action suits that could range into the high millions against infringing companies.

More data exposures to be expected as human error takes control

If you’ve read any of my stories over the past year, you’ll know that data exposures are as bad, if not worse than data breaches. Exposures, where people or companies inadvertently leave unsecured information online rather than an external breach by a hacker, are often caused by human error.

The problem became so bad that Amazon has tried to stem the flow of leaks by providing tools that detect inadvertently public data. Those tools will only go so far. Education and awareness can go far further. Expect more data exposures over the next year, as companies — and staff — continue to make mistakes with their users’ data.

Voter databases and election websites are the next target

India’s ruling party accused of running deceptive Twitter campaign to gain support for a controversial law

Posted: 04 Jan 2020 09:48 AM PST

Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling party in India, has been accused of running a highly deceptive Twitter campaign to trick citizens into supporting a controversial law.

First, some background: The Indian government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) last month that eases the path of non-Muslim minorities from the neighboring Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain Indian citizenship.

But, combined with a proposed national register of citizens, critics have cautioned that it discriminates against minority Muslims in India and chips away at India’s secular traditions.

Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of people in the country — if not more — have participated in peaceful protests across the nation against the law. The Indian government, which has temporarily cut down internet access and mobile communications in many parts of India to contain the protests, has so far shown no signs of withdrawing the law.

On Saturday, it may have found a new way to gain support for it, however.

India's Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday tweeted a phone number, urging citizens to place a call to that number in "support of the CAA law."

Thousands of people in India today, many affiliated with the BJP party, began circulating that phone number on Twitter with the promise that anyone who places a call would be offered job opportunities, free mobile data, Netflix credentials, and even company with "lonely women."

Huffington Post India called the move latest "BJP ploy" to win support for its controversial law. BoomLive, a fact checking organization based in India, reported the affiliation of many of these people to the ruling party.

We have reached out to a BJP spokesperson and Twitter spokespeople for comment.

If the allegations are true, this won't be the first time BJP has used Twitter to aggressively promote its views. In 2017, BuzzFeed News reported that a number of political hashtags that appeared in the top 10 Twitter's trends column in India were the result of organized campaigns.

Pratik Sinha, co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, last year demonstrated how easy it was to manipulate many politicians in the country to tweet certain things after he gained accessed to a Google document of prepared statements and tinkered with the content.

Last month, snowfall in Kashmir, a highly sensitive region that hasn't had internet connection for more than four months, began trending on Twitter in the U.S. It mysteriously disappeared after many journalists questioned how it made it to the list.

When we reached out, a Twitter spokesperson in India pointed TechCrunch to an FAQ article that explained how Trending Topics work. Nothing in the FAQ article addressed the question.

The streaming wars to come

Posted: 04 Jan 2020 09:19 AM PST

After years of speculation and hype, major players in Hollywood and Silicon Valley are getting ready to challenge Netflix .

It's only been a few months since Apple launched TV+, followed quickly by Disney launching Disney+. And there's more to come this year, with AT&T-owned WarnerMedia preparing to release HBO Max, while NBCUniversal does the same with Peacock.

Even before they're available to subscribers, these new offerings are shaking up the status quo: As part of their preparation, Hollywood studios are consolidating, and they're reclaiming key titles like "Friends" and "The Office" from rival platforms.

Netflix, in turn, has been preparing for a world where its old content partners are either unwilling to license key titles, or charging a much higher price when they do — hence the service's seemingly endless flood of original content, and its exclusive contracts, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with big-name creators.

Studios don’t have much of a choice here: with declining box office at U.S. movie theaters and declining ratings for traditional TV, audiences are shifting and Hollywood must move with it, or be left behind.

Startups Weekly: Oyo has issues + A farewell

Posted: 04 Jan 2020 05:00 AM PST

Welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week's noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today's topic, let's catch up a bit. Last week I wrote about the startups we lost in 2019. Before that, I noted the defining moments of VC in 2019.

Unfortunately, this will be my last newsletter, as I am leaving TechCrunch for a new opportunity. Don’t worry, Startups Weekly isn’t going anywhere. We’ll have a new writer taking over the weekly update soon enough; in the meantime, TechCrunch editor Henry Pickavet will be at the helm. You can still get in touch with me on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

If you’re new here, you can subscribe to Startups Weekly here. Lots of good content will be coming your way in 2020.


India’s WeWork?

TechCrunch reporter Manish Singh penned an interesting piece on the state of Indian startups this week: As Indian startups raise record capital, losses are widening (Extra Crunch membership required). In it, he claims the financial performance of India’s largest startups are cause for concern. Gems like Flipkart, BigBasket and Paytm have lost a collective $3 billion in the last year.

“What is especially troublesome for startups is that there is no clear path for how they would ever generate big profits,” he writes. “Silicon Valley companies, for instance, have entered and expanded into India in recent years, investing billions of dollars in local operations, but yet, India has yet to make any substantial contribution to their bottom lines. If that wasn't challenging enough, many Indian startups compete directly with Silicon Valley giants, which while impressive, is an expensive endeavor.”

Manish’s story came one day after The New York Times published an in-depth report on Oyo, a tech-enabled budget hotel chain and rising star in the Indian tech community. The NYT wrote that Oyo offers unlicensed rooms and has bribed police officials to deter trouble, among other toxic practices.

Whether Oyo, backed by billions from the SoftBank Vision Fund, will become India’s WeWork is the real cause for concern. India’s startup ecosystem is likely to face a number of barriers as it grows to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley.

Follow Manish here or on Twitter for more of TechCrunch’s growing India coverage.


Venture capital highlights (it’s been a slow week)


How to find the right reporter to pitch your startup

If you’ve still not subscribed to Extra Crunch, now is the time. Longtime TechCrunch reporter and editor Josh Constine is launching a new series to teach you how to pitch your startup. In it he will examine embargoes, exclusives, press kit visuals, interview questions and more. The first of many, How to find the right reporter to pitch your startup, is online now.

Subscribe to Extra Crunch here.


#EquityPod

tc equity podcast ios 2 1

Another week, another new episode of TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, Equity. This week, we discussed a few of 2019’s largest scandals, Peloton’s strange holiday ad and the controversy over at the luggage startup Away. Listen here and be sure to subscribe, too.

For anyone wondering about changes at Equity following my departure from TechCrunch, the lovely Alex Wilhelm (founding Equity co-host) will keep the show alive and, soon enough, there will be a brand new co-host in my place. Please keep supporting the show and be sure to recommend it to all your podcast-adoring friends.

This startup just raised $7 million, led by Google, to authenticate people based on their typing style

Posted: 03 Jan 2020 06:30 PM PST

TypingDNA, a four-year-old, 18-person startup that was founded in Bucharest, Romania and more recently moved its headquarters to Brooklyn, New York, has closed on $7 million in Series A funding for something interesting: AI-driven technology that it says can recognize people based on the way they type, both on their laptops and mobile devices.

We yesterday discovered an SEC filing that showed the company — which graduated from Techstars NYC in late 2018 and early last year closed on €1.3 million in seed funding — had so far raised $5.25 million toward that goal. We’ve since connected with the company’s cofounder and CEO, Raul Popa, who confirms the entire amount has been raised.

Gradient Ventures, which is Google’s nearly three-year-old, AI-focused venture group, led the round; it was joined by the company’s previous backers, including Techstars Ventures and GapMinder Venture Partners, a venture outfit based in Amsterdam.

Typing biometrics — the detailed timing information that describes exactly when each key is pressed and released as way to identify the unique person at the keyboard — is apparently not brand new. A two-year-old, PCWorld article says research in the field dates back 20 years. It also says that inaccuracies have kept the technology from being used as a widespread way to authenticate individuals. TypingDNA meanwhile asserts that the typing pattern recognition technology it has developed has an accuracy rate of between 99% and 99.9%.

According to Popa, TypingDNA is currently working with banks, financial and payment apps, online education platforms, enterprise apps, consumer apps, and government apps that are concerned with identity and fraud prevention.

On the education front, for example, it helps organizations to ensure they’re giving the right students credit for the work they receive.

Worth noting: its API is open to anyone — especially developers — looking to integrate the technology into their products and apps. In fact, asked how the company will use its new round, Popa says the plan involves “focusing on developers more, coming up with typing biometrics based products that can easily be integrated to solve various use cases, and helping banks and fintechs where regulation asks for biometrics as a second factor.”

As for what TypingDNA is doing that wasn’t previously possible, Popa says his team doesn’t need a huge body of work to draw conclusions, that they’re “able to look at very short and few samples of text in order to authenticate people with great accuracy.”

The mobile tech, he says, “needs even less data than on desktop, because we also look at other sensors in the device.”

From an AI point of view, TypingDNA is apparently combining pattern recognition, anomaly detection, and what Popa calls one-shot learning techniques —  some of which are “completely novel,” he says. Indeed, if all goes as planned, it could eventually could also be applied to other technologies, as well improve binary classification quality when few training samples are used.

Alphabet-backed primary care startup One Medical files to go public

Posted: 03 Jan 2020 05:16 PM PST

One Medical, a San Francisco-based primary care startup with tech-infused, concierge services filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission today.

Internal medicine doctor Tom Lee founded the startup, now valued at well-over $1 billion dollars, in 2007. Lee exited his company in 2017, leaving it in the hands of former UnitedHealth group executive Amir Rubin.

The startup currently operates 72 health clinics in nine major cities throughout the U.S., with three more markets expected to open in 2020 and has raised just over $500 in venture capital from it’s biggest investor, the Carlyle Group (which owns just over a quarter of shares), Alphabet’s GV, J.P. Morgan and others. Google also incorporates One Medical into its campuses and accounts for about 10% of the company revenue, according to the SEC filing. The filing also mentions the company, which is officially incorporated as 1Life Healthcare Inc. ONEM, now plans to raise about $100 million.

Presumably, this money will help the company improve upon its technology and expand to more markets. We’ve reached out to One Medical for more and so far have only been referred to its wire statement.

According to that statement, One Medical has applied for a listing as ticker symbol, ONEM under its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. We’ll be sure to update you if and when we hear more.