Last week, Today Feb. 23: News in payments and fintech

Our bi-weekly news roundup provides a quick glance at some of the biggest news in payments and fintech. In Flywire’s 10+ years in delivering the most complex, high value payments, we’ve had a unique opportunity to work with many different organizations in the fintech and payments ecosystem. We’ve seen changes in how clients get paid, how their customers want to pay and how central the payments experience has become not just across the industries we focus on, but every industry.

Here are some of the fintech and payments headlines from Feb. 7- Feb. 21.

UK fintech funding surges amid government drive to create global hub
UK-based fintechs scored a sevenfold funding jump last year with London attracting more than the rest of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) put together. Five of the 10 largest fintech deals in the EMEA region were completed in the UK including the London Stock Exchange’s buyout of Refinitiv for $27 billion and Wipro’s $1.5 billion Capco takeover.

Amazon accepts Visa credit cards in global truce over fees
Visa said it had reached a broad global agreement with Amazon that allows customers to keep shopping with the company’s co-branded Visa cards. The Wall Street Journal reported that customers could use Visa cards across Amazon stores and websites, and that the two would work together on product and technology initiatives related to payments.

American Express and Delta Air Lines introduce Buy Now, Pay Later option for flight fares
American Express cardholders can now use the Buy Now, Pay Later payment method, Amex’s Plan It, to book and pay for Delta Air Lines flights costing $100 or more.

Microsoft keeps its finance headcount flat with AI, bots and other tech
The head of Microsoft’s Modern Finance Project talks about how the tech giant’s finance and accounting team is using technology to streamline and simplify work, allowing them to focus on more value-added and strategic areas.

Marqeta and Plaid are teaming up
Marqeta will use Plaid’s data-aggregation software to speed ACH transactions and account verification for Marqeta cardholders. Through the Plaid integration, developers building on Marqeta can authenticate users’ bank accounts without the complexity and extra time associated with traditional ACH processing, according to a press release from the companies.

From Flywire

Travel – The Luxe Life: Luxury Travel’s Role in the Industry’s Recovery
As the world continues to reopen, Flywire surveyed more than 600 luxury travelers from the United States to understand what they’re doing, where they’re going and how they make their travel decisions. Find out what they said.

CFOs – Preparing for an IPO: Flywire’s CFO shares his advice
We hear a lot about the CFO’s mandate today to “understand the business.” But what does that really mean in practice? Flywire CFO Mike Ellis shared his view on how he executes against that during a recent virtual finance conference hosted by Ascent. Read some of the advice he shared.

Research report pick of the week

56% of US Businesses Expect Easier Cross-Border Payments Will Improve Cash Management
Innovations such as real-time payments, AP/AR automation, and virtual cards can all enhance many aspects of businesses’ cross-border payments processes. Business goals may vary depending on where the business is based, e.g. U.S. businesses are more focused on cash management, while British businesses are looking at cost reduction, according to a new PYMNTS and Visa research report.

Stat of the week

$3 billion
The valuation of Flutterwave, a payments infrastructure fintech that earned the spot of Africa’s highest-valued startup this week. As a side note, all four of Africa’s unicorns are fintechs.

Source: Fintech Funding in Africa Reaches Record High as Flutterwave Becomes Continent’s Highest-Valued Startup.

Conversation Starter

Secret Service: Home Depot Worker Swapped $388K Cash with Fake Bills
A Home Depot worker was nabbed by the Secret Service in Tempe, Arizona for allegedly stealing $387,500 in cash by replacing the real money with movie prop bills he ordered on Amazon.