In major news from Europe, the Middle East and Africa today, McDonald’s chief financial officer predicted the fast-food chain would lose $50 million a month, or 5-6 cents a share for the closure of its Russian restaurants, and Visa is collaborating with Abu Dhabi-based FinTech Multi Level Group on a project to promote contactless digital solutions in North Africa.
Additionally, Elrond Network was cleared to acquire Romanian payments company Twispay, Square launched software to help Irish businesses increase sales and retain customers and Yaba, a Barcelona-based aggregator for brands. that sell on Amazon, raised $83 million in one funding round.
McDonald’s estimates Russian restaurant closure will cost $50 billion a month
While McDonald’s is still calculating the cost of temporarily closing its restaurants in Russia, the world’s largest fast-food chain estimates it will lose about $50 million a month, or about 5 to 6 cents per share, said CFO Kevin Ozan during a presentation at the UBS Global Consumer and Retail Conference.
In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continued attacks on Ukraine, McDonald’s announced on Tuesday (March 8) that it was closing its 850 quick-service restaurants in Russia. The company also suspended operations at its 108 restaurants in Ukraine.
Visa and MLG Collaborate on Contactless Transit in North Africa
Visa has partnered with Abu Dhabi-based FinTech Multi Level Group (MLG) on a project to promote contactless digital solutions in North Africa.
According to a Trade Arabia report, the collaboration will focus on mass transit solutions, allowing passengers to pay for their journeys using prepaid and co-branded Visa contactless cards or handheld devices. The project will also use Visa and MLG technologies to extend digital acceptance solutions to merchants in various markets across North Africa.
The Romanian Central Bank approves the acquisition of Twispay by Elrond
Elrond Network has been cleared to acquire Romanian payment company Twispay. Although the terms of the agreement were not disclosed, the transaction brings an eMoney license from Romania’s central bank.
Twispay is licensed as a financial institution in Romania to issue electronic money and provide payment services. The startup can also issue Visa cards, issue and acquire Mastercard cards, and is able to operate in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Square launches loyalty and marketing products in Ireland
Square has launched a pair of software products that will help Irish businesses increase sales and retain customers with just a few clicks, the company announced in a press release on Thursday (March 10).
Square Marketing and Square Loyalty are now available as separate subscriptions for Irish businesses.
“The past few years have been tough for businesses, and it’s more important than ever for sellers to stand out from their competitors and see the impact on their business,” said Stephen Smythe, head of European marketing at Square.
AstroPay payment links introduced in other Latin American countries
Following its initial rollout in Brazil in January, online payment company AstroPay is now launching its Payment Links solution in Peru, Chile, Mexico and Colombia to continue its global expansion.
Payment Links is AstroPay’s latest advancement to help small and medium businesses collect digital payments by sharing a payment link with their customers. The link can be shared via email or electronically, and customers can pay using a variety of options, either in their own currency or in US dollars.
Business Lender Funding Circle closes retail platform to new investments
Funding Circle has permanently barred new investors from its retail platform, with the decision announced as the company shared its results. This is an indication of how the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry has struggled amid heightened scrutiny from regulators and the effects of the pandemic.
P2P lending has been the subject of a crackdown in the UK in recent years, after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) unveiled tougher rules in 2019.
Tesco Bank and Onfido team up for identity verification
Tesco Bank announced on Thursday March 10 that it has launched a partnership with identity verification company Onfido to ensure the security of new customers using the Tesco Clubcard Pay+ programme.
The UK-based company says the partnership will guarantee program applicants a faster journey, thanks to Onfido’s digital identity verification.
Barcelona’s Yaba Nets secure $83m in funding
Yaba, a Barcelona-based aggregator for digital brands that sell on Amazon, raised 75 million euros (about $83 million) in a funding round.
The new funds will help the startup continue to buy businesses, grow its staff, and strengthen its market position. Yaba also plans to expand into online marketplaces in Singapore, including Lazada Group, an international e-commerce company, and Shopee, a global technology company focused on e-commerce.
ECB ends bond buying program early, braces for interest hikes
The European Central Bank (ECB) is ending its bond buying program ahead of schedule as it prepares for a possible interest rate hike later in the year.
As The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, March 10, the program will likely be phased out by September, with any interest rate hikes occurring gradually “some time” after the program ends. The bank’s move marks a change from its more relaxed monetary policy, showing growing concerns about inflation, which is around 6% in the European Union.
UK payments strategy focuses on fraud detection and instant payments
The UK continues to develop its New Payments Architecture (NPA), which will allow financial institutions, payment providers and other players to access a new payment platform to deliver instant payments.
Pay.UK, a not-for-profit organization overseen by the Bank of England and regulated by the Payment Supervisor Regulator, published its new strategic plan on March 2 for 2021-2026, in which it set out its vision for how to build and operate the NPA.
Fintech sector in Africa continues its upward trend, payment companies continue to dominate
After a difficult 2020, which saw global investment plummet due to the pandemic, 2021 has emerged as a very successful year for both public and private markets, with various sectors seeing record growth in funding.
“From a FinTech perspective, over $130 billion in primary funding has been deployed across the industry,” Abhimanyu Toor, managing director of London-based FinTech consultancy Royal Park Partners, told PYMNTS. “It was about 20% of global funding, [making] FinTech one of the largest sectors and biggest beneficiaries of growth in total capital deployment.