F|T: The FinTech Times – Is Canada an easy mark for international money laundering?

Plus: ZayZoon returns its services to Canada after years in the US.

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TD fines show Canada becoming the ‘soft underbelly’ of international money laundering — here’s why

Canada’s TD Bank is facing unprecedented scrutiny for its involvement in at least two money laundering investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, one of which alleges TD was the main financial institution used by Chinese drug traffickers to launder $653 million (U.S.) in proceeds from fentanyl sales.

The scandal is shining a light on Canada’s ongoing money laundering problem, dubbed “snow washing” to reflect the use of its pristine reputation and stable economy by criminals wanting to make suspicious transactions seem legitimate.

“Canada is the soft underbelly for Western democracies. Our whole system is very tolerant of foreign threats, and it’s becoming well known by not only threat actors, but our allies,” said Calvin Chrustie, senior partner at the Critical Risk Team, a risk management and anti-money laundering consulting firm.

(Toronto Star)

Earned wage startup ZayZoon returns its services to Canada

Calgary-based FinTech startup ZayZoon is bringing its services back to Canada after only serving the United States for an extended period.

ZayZoon first introduced EWA to the Canadian market in 2016, but was “fighting tooth-and-nail to get partnerships,” the startup’s co-founder and president, Tate Hackert, told BetaKit in a 2022 interview. The experience made ZayZoon focus on US expansion until its return to Canada this week.

ZayZoon general manager of Canada Shubh Sidhu told BetaKit in an email statement that several things have changed since ZayZoon left Canada, including awareness about its offering, its own growth, and increased pressure on consumer finances.


Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow has proposed a settlement with investor Activant Capital this week, which could put an end to a lawsuit brought by Activant. The investor accused Breslow of adding $30 million to Bolt’s balance sheet in the form of personal debt and removing board members when they urged Breslow to repay it.

Breslow’s $30 million loan was secured by Bolt, however, Breslow defaulted on the loan, the suit alleged.

Now according to the settlement plan seen by TechCrunch, Bolt will cancel 13,397,270 common shares previously owned by Breslow, representing $37,378,383. Breslow is essentially giving those shares back to Bolt to resolve the principal loan, expenses and interest.


Baseline closes $2.2 million CAD to help private lenders manage their businesses

Toronto-based FinTech startup Baseline began as a real estate private lending company with unmet needs. Over time, it replaced nearly all of its technology stack with proprietary software purpose-built to manage its operations more efficiently.

Whenever Baseline founder and CEO Shaye Wali would share this tech with peers in private lending, others asked if they could use it.

Now, the startup has secured approximately $2.2 million CAD ($1.6 million USD) in funding led by Toronto’s N49P Ventures to fuel the growth of its platform and capture more of the growing private lending market.


Ontario’s ‘Crypto King’ and his associate arrested, charged with fraud

Ontario’s self-proclaimed Crypto King and one of his associates have been arrested and charged with fraud.

Aiden Pleterski, 25, is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and laundering the proceeds of crime, according to the Oshawa court house.

In a news release Wednesday, police said the two men had been charged following a 16-month investigation, dubbed Project Swan, into Pleterski.


Vantage Points: Hear from four founders on the state of Canadian tech

What happens when you bring old and new generations of tech into the same room?

BetaKit has compiled a series of Q&As from an early-stage founder, a scaling founder, a seasoned repeat founder, and a newcomer to the ecosystem who spoke at last week’s BetaKit Town Hall.

MedEssist’s Joella Almeida spoke on why being the ‘Shopify for Pharmacies’ is not enough.

Cohere co-founder Ivan Zhang expressed why Canadian tech is great at creating winners, but terrible at keeping them here.

Serial entrepreneur Ali Asaria warned tech about getting lost in its own “bubble” and how the ecosystem can beat the US.

Learn from 22-year-old Jocelyne Murphy, who spoke to the lack of meaningful mentorship for young entrepreneurs, frustrating hiring practices, and how the cost of living gets in the way of innovation.


Stablecoin Issuer Circle to Make US Legal Home Ahead of Listing

Circle Internet Financial Ltd., issuer of crypto’s second-largest stablecoin, plans to shift its legal base to the US from the Republic of Ireland.

A company spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that court paperwork was recently filed to re-domicile but declined to say why. Circle in January confidentially submitted plans to the US securities regulator for an initial public offering.

(BNN Bloomberg)

Q1 Canadian VC funding posts mixed results as PE market rebounds, CVCA reports

The first quarter of 2024 saw mixed results in terms of venture capital funding and a significant pickup in private equity activity, according to a new report.

Nearly $1.3 billion CAD in total VC financing was deployed into Canadian technology startups across 128 deals during Q1, per data collected by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. Both declined relative to Q4 2023.

In terms of total dollars invested, this represented an eight percent increase relative to the first quarter of 2023, fuelled by financings from artificial intelligence startups like Ideogram, Spellbook, and Borderless AI, healthtech companies including PocketHealth and Flosonics Medical, FinTech firm Helcim, and last-mile delivery provider UniUni.


French fintech Lydia to invest €100m in banking services, aims to reach profitability in 2025

French unicorn Lydia, a popular payments app for French Gen Z and millennials, is investing €100m over the next three years to double down on its banking services.

Despite that spend, cofounder Cyril Chiche told a press event today that he expects his company to hit profitability next year.

Lydia will hire 400 recruits in France in the next three years to work on Sumeria — more than doubling its current team of 250. In that time, the company is also hoping to secure a banking licence for the new organisation to start providing credit services.


The best place to aim AI? The mirror

Zoho Canada recently hosted a webinar on the topic of generative AI in business intelligence and how the tool can be deployed to make organizations more data-driven.

The discussion offered four key insights for startups thinking about applying generative AI within their operations, and featured Matt Aslett, director of research, data, and analytics at Information Services Group’s Ventana Research, and Zoho Canada’s Chandrashekar Lalapet Srinivas Prasanna.


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Feature image courtesy TD.

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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