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cards: Back to the future.
sharks: They're more insidious than you
New-look corporate credit cards:
Facilitating SME payments.
Today's Big Ideas
Wood you like to see
my new card?
Wood and human civilisation go way back. I mean, waaaaaay back. Even after we
stopped living in trees, we’ve used wood to fuel fires, produce paper, and
construct everything from clogs to baseball bats.
And now, wood’s beginning to permeate the digital banking sector.
TreeCard is a
London-based FinTech powered by eco-friendly search engine Ecosia.
It’s USP is its fully-fledged wooden Mastercard debit card which comes with a
corresponding app, where customers can track spending and split bills with
friends. The company reinvests 80% of its profits (which it makes from
interchange fees) into environmental causes—planting an estimated 200,000 trees
since it launched.
Excitingly, TreeCard has just raised $23
million in a funding round involving Peter Thiel's
World Fund and
Episode 1 and
various angels. It’s currently aiming to take on the US market, where it has a
waitlist of 250,000 people. Impressive stuff indeed.
And who said money doesn’t grow on trees?
Ooft. Yes. Just don’t drop it in your beer.
Digital loan sharks
The days of beefed-up debt collectors hammering down debtors’ doors have
largely fallen by the wayside. Only, there’s a new loan shark in town—and this
one’s particularly insidious.
Lookout, a cloud
security company, has discovered roughly 300
loan apps on Apple's App Store and Google Play that exhibit
‘predatory’ behaviour. The apps promise fully-digital loan approvals with
reasonable loan terms. However, in reality, they entice desperate customers to
sign predatory loan contracts with hidden fees and high interest terms.
Worse still, the apps require customers to grant them access to sensitive
information on their device (including their contacts, phone history, and SMS
messages). This data has then been used to pressurise customers into
repayments. For example, by threatening to disclose their debts to close
friends or family.
The apps, which were found in Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as India,
Colombia, and Mexico, have now been taken down. Phew.
The SME credit card
Ever been turned down when trying to pay with a credit card? (And no, not because you
were broke). Chances are, you probably have.
Credit cards are great for consumers—but they can often be a right pain for
suppliers. By accepting credit cards, they have to pay processing fees and wait
a few days until the payment comes through. So, many suppliers simply refuse to
Suppliers, the second SME employees pull out a corporate credit card.
Fortunately, that’s about to change for SMEs. Cashplus Bank has
recently announced that it’s going to produce a next-generation business credit
card complete with a sort code and account number. This will enable direct
bank-to-bank faster payments—meaning it’s more akin to a credit “account” that
businesses can use flexibly to pay suppliers.
Cashplus Bank is even adding some BNPL features. For an extra fee, businesses
can increase the repayment period on purchases from ‘up to 56 days’ to ‘up to
117 days’. Users can also restructure their credit card balance as an
instalment loan, if required.
This is pretty handy—but it will likely make cash flow forecasting a nightmare
for suppliers. C’est la vie. I guess there’s no way to make everyone happy.
Heartwarming to see TreeCard going after a traditionally ignored demographic.
Did you know that an estimated 93% of all penguins are unbanked?