F|T: The FinTech Times – Business leaders react to open banking updates in #Budget2024

Plus: Crypto enthusiasts eager for Bitcoin’s ‘halving.’

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Payments Canada reveals no Real-Time Rail until at least 2026

In a statement last week, Payments Canada interim co-CEO and chief delivery officer Jude Pinto indicated that the last component of the real-time rails, the clearing and settlement build, will continue in 2024, followed by initial testing in 2025 and industry testing in 2026.

Pinto did not disclose when Payments Canada hopes to ultimately launch the RTR, promising only to disclose more details “in the coming months.”

The update came on the same day the federal budget provided updates on open banking infrastructure that will come in legislation later this year and announced that Canada’s consumer-protection watchdog, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, will oversee the new system. Alex Vronces, executive director of Fintechs Canada, told BetaKit the announcement was the “most substantial and specific update the sector has gotten since the government started talking about open banking.”


Crypto enthusiasts eagerly await Bitcoin’s ‘halving’

Bitcoin enthusiasts were eagerly waiting for bitcoin’s ‘halving’ on Friday – a change to the cryptocurrency’s underlying technology designed to cut the rate at which new bitcoins are created.

The halving, which happens roughly every four years, was written into Bitcoin’s code at its inception by pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto as a way to reduce the rate at which bitcoins are created.

The halving works by halving the rewards cryptocurrency miners receive for creating new tokens, making it more expensive for them to put new bitcoins into circulation.

(The Globe and Mail)

What’s in #Budget2024 for Canadian tech?

The federal government published its 2024 budget this past week and the reaction from Canadian tech was immediate and loud.

Following calls from Canadian business leaders, Budget 2024 announced the government’s plan to establish a working group led by former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz aimed at encouraging Canada’s pension funds to make more investments in Canada.

But the biggest reaction came in response to proposed changes to the capital gains tax, which would lift the inclusion rate businesses pay on capital gains from 50 percent to 66.7 percent. Hundreds of Canadian tech leaders signed an open letter calling on Ottawa to claw back the changes, while others said they believe the reaction is a distraction and “hysteria.”

Still haven’t taken a look at #Budget2024?

BetaKit’s roundup has everything you need to know.

Contango Digital Assets closes $5 million for “Blockchain x AI” seed fund

Toronto-based venture capital firm Contango Digital Assets has closed the first $5 million of its targeted $10-million Blockchain x AI Seed Fund. Contango says the fund is backed by Dean Skurka, the CEO of one of Canada’s largest crypto companies, WonderFi.

As its name suggests, the Blockchain x AI Seed Fund invests in North American seed-stage companies working at the intersection of blockchain and artificial intelligence.


Ramp raises another $150M co-led by Khosla and Founders Fund at a $7.65B valuation

Spend management startup Ramp has raised another $150 million at a post-money valuation of $7.65 billion, the company confirmed to TechCrunch.

The raise is characterized as an extension of Ramp’s Series D, in which the fintech company raised $300 million at a 28% lower valuation of $5.8 billion. The latest capital infusion brings it back closer to the $8.1 billion valuation it had achieved in March of 2022.

Ramp will also put the money toward acquisitions. In January, the company announced it had acquired AI-powered startup Venue as it expanded its procurement offering.


DMZ receives $500,000 grant to expand Basecamp program for student entrepreneurs

DMZ has received $500,000 CAD from the Embark Student Foundation’s Major Grant Program to expand its student-focused entrepreneurship programming.

The Toronto-based incubator specifically plans to expand Basecamp, its hybrid summer entrepreneurship program that helps students turn their ideas into tech solutions for social or economic challenges.


Bolt Co-Founder Pulled Strings on Unusual Stock Buyback, Suit Alleges

When one-click checkout startup Bolt told investors it would buy back their shares at what amounted to a 97% discount on the company’s late 2021 fundraising, it wasn’t clear why the company would make such an unusual move. After all, Bolt was burning cash as revenue flatlined. A new lawsuit may provide an answer.

Bolt co-founder Ryan Breslow, who stepped down as CEO two years ago, masterminded the lowball offer in order to maintain control over the company, according to a lawsuit brought by an investor.

(The Information)

As tech talent crunch persists, Indeed’s Iain Hamilton on how companies can fill seats faster

Recent data from Indeed found that as of the end of January, 27 percent of tech jobs in Canada remained open for 60 days or more.

To Indeed’s VP of software engineering Iain Hamilton, it’s an intriguing time in the tech industry.

Despite a less favourable economy, the thirst for tech talent hasn’t waned. In fact, Hamilton said the economic landscape has resulted in fewer individuals actively seeking new opportunities, leading to a tight talent pool, and challenges for businesses looking to fill roles.


Crypto’s Berachain Says Funding Round Increases to $100 Million

Berachain, the blockchain platform started by pseudonymous founders who use bear-themed nicknames, secured $100 million in funding, or about 45% higher than previously reported.

Investors backed Berachain through a “SAFT” or a simple agreement for future tokens. Last month, Bloomberg said that Berachain was raising more than $69 million at a valuation of at least $1 billion. The firm declined to provide a revised valuation.

(BNN Bloomberg)

What Alberta Innovates learned from sending 50 local startups to SXSW

Last month, Alberta Innovates sent a delegation of 50 local tech startups to the conference. This wasn’t the delegation’s inaugural trip; an initial foray in 2023 catalyzed millions of dollars in deals for the startups involved.

According to Tim Murphy, vice president of Alberta Innovates’ health division, the crown corporation had a clear objective going into this year’s conference.

Murphy, who joined the Alberta delegation this year, sat down with BetaKit to talk about Alberta Innovates’ strategy for the 2024 SXSW delegation, how the experience went, and the impact it’s hoped to create for the province’s tech sector.


Finmid raises $24.7M to help SMBs access loans through platforms like Wolt

Berlin-based finmid — one of the many startups building embedded fintech solutions, in its case targeting marketplaces that want to provide their own payment and financing options — has raised €23 million ($24.7 million) in a Series A round to further build out its product and enter new markets. The round values the company at €100 million ($107 million), post money.


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Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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