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Clubhouse launches payments so creators can make money

Clubhouse, a one-year-old social audio app reportedly valued at $1 billion, will now allow users to send money to their favorite creators — or speakers — on the platform. In a blog post, the startup announced the new monetization feature, Clubhouse Payments, as the “the first of many features that allow creators to get paid directly on Clubhouse.”
Clubhouse declined to comment. Paul Davison, the co-founder of Clubhouse, mentioned in the company’s latest town hall that the startup wants to focus on direct monetization on creators, instead of advertisements.
Here’s how it will work: A user can send a payment in …

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Jeff Bezos’ investment fund is backing a startup hoping to be the AWS for SMB accounting

One of the biggest pain points for startups and small businesses is keeping up with back office tasks such as bookkeeping and managing taxes.
QuickBooks, it seems, just doesn’t always cut it.
Three-time co-founders Waseem Daher, Jeff Arnold, and Jessica McKellar formed Pilot with the mission of affordably providing back office services to startups and SMBs. With over 1,000 customers, it has gained serious traction over the years. And Pilot has now also received validation from some big-name investors. On Friday, the company announced a $100 million Series C that doubles the company’s valuation to $1.2 billion.
Bezos Expeditions — Amazon founder …

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Sivo, a young “Stripe for debt” led by a veteran operator, seems to have investors clamoring

Kate Hiscox is having a moment. Her company, Sivo, founded eight months ago, has already raised $5 million from investors at a post-money valuation of $100 million, and she is in active talks with others who would like her to consider accepting Series A funding from them.
Partly, the attention owes to the fact that Hiscox is part of the newest graduating class of the popular accelerator Y Combinator, along with roughly 350 other companies, and if there’s anything venture capitalists like, it’s freshly minted YC grads. Partly, fintech continues to be seen as a hugely lucrative area of investment.
But …

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Daily Crunch: Stripe valued at $95B

Stripe gets a mind-boggling valuation, Facebook promotes COVID vaccines and Elon Musk has an interesting new title. This is your Daily Crunch for March 15, 2021.
The big story: Stripe valued at $95B
That’s right: The popular payments company has raised $600 million in new funding at a $95 billion valuation. It says it will use the money to expand in Europe while also growing its global payments and treasury network.
“Whether in fintech, mobility, retail or SaaS, the growth opportunity for the European digital economy is immense,” said president and co-founder John Collison in a statement.
Meanwhile, over in Extra Crunch, Alex …

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Stripe reportedly joins the tech platforms booting President Trump from their services

It might be easier at this point to ask which tech platforms President Donald Trump can still use.
Payment-processing company Stripe is the latest tech company to kick Donald Trump off of its platform, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
That means the president’s campaign website and online fundraising arms will no longer have access to the payment processor’s services, cutting off the Trump campaign from receiving donations.
Sources told the Journal that the reason for the company’s decision was the violation of company policies against encouraging violence.
The move comes as the president …

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Color raises $167 million funding at $1.5 billion valuation to expand ‘last mile’ of U.S. health infrastructure

Healthcare startup Color has raised a sizeable $167 million in Series D funding round, at a valuation of $1.5 billion post-money, the company announced today. This brings the total raised by Color to $278 million, with its latest large round intended to help it build on a record year of growth in 2020 with even more expansion to help put in place key health infrastructure systems across the U.S. – including those related to the “last mile” delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.
This latest investment into Color was led by General Catalyst, and by funds invested by T. Rowe Price, along with participation from Viking …

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What to make of Stripe’s possible $100B valuation

This is The TechCrunch Exchange, a newsletter that goes out on Saturdays, based on the column of the same name. You can sign up for the email here.
Welcome to a special Thanksgiving edition of The Exchange. Today we will be brief. But not silent, as there is much to talk about.
Up top, The Exchange noodled on the Slack-Salesforce deal here, so please catch up if you missed that while eating pie for breakfast yesterday. And, sadly, I have no idea why Palantir is seeing its value skyrocket. Normally we’d discuss it, asking ourselves what its gains could …

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African fintech startup Chipper Cash raises $30M backed by Jeff Bezos

African cross-border fintech startup Chipper Cash has raised a $30 million Series B funding round led by Ribbit Capital with participation of Bezos Expeditions — the personal VC fund of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Chipper Cash was founded in San Francisco in 2018 by Ugandan Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled. The company offers mobile-based, no fee, P2P payment services in seven countries: Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya.

Parallel to its P2P app, the startup also runs Chipper Checkout — a merchant-focused, fee-based payment product that generates the revenue to support Chipper Cash’s free mobile-money business. The company has scaled to 3 million users on its platform and processes an average of 80,000 transactions daily. In June 2020, Chipper Cash reached a monthly payments value of $100 million, according to CEO Ham Serunjogi .

As part of the Series B raise, the startup plans to expand its products and geographic scope. On the product side, that entails offering more business payment solutions, crypto-currency trading options, and investment services.

“We’ll always be a P2P financial transfer platform at our core. But we’ve had demand from our users to offer other value services…like purchasing cryptocurrency assets and making investments in stocks,” Serunjogi told TechCrunch on a call.

Image Credits: Chipper Cash

Chipper Cash has added beta dropdowns on its website and app to buy and sell Bitcoin and invest in U.S. stocks from Africa — the latter through a partnership with U.S. financial services company DriveWealth.

“We’ll launch [the stock product] in Nigeria first so Nigerians have the option to buy fractional stocks — Tesla shares, Apple shares or Amazon shares and others — through our app. We’ll expand into other countries thereafter,” said Serunjogi.

On the business financial services side, the startup plans to offer more API payments solutions. “We’ve been getting a lot of requests from people on our P2P platform, who also have business enterprises, to be able to collect payments for sale of goods,” explained Serunjogi.

Chipper Cash also plans to use its Series B financing for additional country expansion, which the company will announce by the end of 2021.

Jeff Bezos’s backing of Chipper Cash follows a recent string of events that has elevated the visibility of Africa’s startup scene. Over the past decade, the continent’s tech ecosystem has been one of the fastest growing in the world by year year-over-year expansion in venture capital and startup formation, concentrated in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.

Image Credits: TechCrunch/Bryce Durbin

Bringing Africa’s large unbanked population and underbanked consumers and SMEs online has factored prominently. Roughly 66% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s 1 billion people don’t have a bank account, according to World Bank data.

As such, fintech has become Africa’s highest-funded tech sector, receiving the bulk of an estimated $2 billion in VC that went to startups in 2019. Even with the rapid venture funding growth over the last decade, Africa’s tech scene had been performance light, with only one known unicorn (e-commerce venture Jumia) a handful of exits, and no major public share offerings. That changed last year.

In April 2019, Jumia — backed by investors including Goldman Sachs and Mastercard — went public in an NYSE IPO. Later in the year, Nigerian fintech company Interswitch achieved unicorn status after a $200 million investment by Visa.

This year, Network International purchased East African payments startup DPO for $288 million and in August WorldRemit acquired Africa focused remittance company Sendwave for $500 million.

One of the more significant liquidity events in African tech occurred last month, when Stripe acquired Nigerian payment gateway startup Paystack for a reported $200 million.

In an email to TechCrunch, a spokesperson for Bezos Expeditions confirmed the fund’s investment in Chipper Cash, but declined to comment on further plans to back African startups. Per Crunchbase data, the investment would be the first in Africa for the fund. It’s worth noting Bezos Expeditions is not connected to Jeff Bezo’s hallmark business venture, Amazon.

For Chipper Cash, the $30 million Series B raise caps an event-filled two years for the San Francisco-based payments company and founders Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled. The two came to America for academics, met in Iowa while studying at Grinnell College and ventured out to Silicon Valley for stints in big tech: Facebook for Serunjogi and Flickr and Yahoo! for Moujaled.

Chipper Cash founders Ham Serunjogi (R) and Maijid Moujaled; Image Credits: Chipper Cash

The startup call beckoned and after launching Chipper Cash in 2018, the duo convinced 500 Startups and Liquid 2 Ventures — co-founded by American football legend Joe Montana — to back their company with seed funds. The startup expanded into Nigeria and Southern Africa in 2019, entered a payments partnership with Visa in April and raised a $13.8 million Series A in June.

Chipper Cash founder Ham Serunjogi believes the backing of his company by a notable tech figure, such as Jeff Bezos (the world’s richest person), has benefits beyond his venture.

“It’s a big deal when a world class investor like Bezos or Ribbit goes out of their sweet spot to a new area where they previously haven’t done investments,” he said. “Ultimately, the winner of those things happening is the African tech ecosystem overall, as it will bring more investment from firms of that caliber to African startups.”

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