F|T: The FinTech Times – Minerva chases anti-money laundering big leagues

Minerva cofounders
Plus: Open banking framework is coming, but adoption? Not so soon.

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Minerva thinks it can stop the flow of dirty money faster with AI

In Canada, intelligence agencies estimate between $45 billion and $113 billion is laundered each year, and finding bad actors is easier said than done.

This problem is what prompted CEO Jennifer Arnold and co-founders, COO Victor Tay and CTO Damian Tran, to build Minerva, an anti-money laundering software platform that uses artificial intelligence to help financial institutions proactively identify client risk from onboarding to exit.

Minerva is designed to do all the legwork for financial investigators, from the moment they receive a case. The platform collects, aggregates, and analyzes all of the relevant data points to create a client risk profile.

“Now, that six, seven, eight-hour case really could take maybe a maximum of an hour, if that,” Arnold said.


Big changes are coming to how Canadians bank, but adoption likely to be slow

The federal government has promised framework legislation in next month’s budget to bring the system to Canada after years of kicking the possibility down the road.

The model, which the federal government refers to as consumer-driven banking, is part of a wider shift to giving people more control over the data companies are gathering about them, said Abhishek Sinha, national banking technology leader at EY Canada.

Even with safeguards in place to make it secure, it will likely take a lot of work to convince Canadians to trust the system — and new competitors, said Sinha.

(The Canadian Press)

Ex-BDC partner aims to back early-stage “AI frontier” startups with Defined Capital

After nearly a decade with the Business Development Bank of Canada, Mark Trevitt has launched his own venture capital fund to invest in nascent artificial intelligence and data companies.

Trevitt left the Crown corporation last year to found Vancouver-based Defined Capital as its managing partner. Through Defined, the former BDC partner plans to focus on early-stage technology startups across North America that are “shaping the AI frontier.”


Blockus raises $4M pre-seed round for web3 gaming infrastructure

Blockus, the web3 gaming tech stack and payments provider, has announced $4 million in pre-seed funding. Maple VC led the round.

“Blockus has the potential to be the catalyst for a new era of gaming, built on the principles of decentralization and player ownership,” said Andre Charoo, General Partner at Maple VC. “The founders’ deep understanding of both gaming and Web3 technologies, combined with their track record, makes them an exceptionally compelling team to back. We believe Blockus is poised to lead the way in the Web3 gaming revolution.”


Saskatchewan government doubles cap of startup investor tax credit to $7 million

The Saskatchewan Technology Startup Incentive offers a 45 percent tax credit to individuals who invest in eligible tech startups in the province. Previously capped at $3.5 million, as of April 1 of this year, the program’s annual disbursement cap is now $7 million.

Saskatchewan tech ecosystem leaders lauded the province’s decision to double the program cap, with Jordan McFarlen, director of Conexus Venture Capital, telling BetaKit this decision “signals that the government believes in the tech sector.”

“We’re a huge fan of what Innovation Saskatchewan and the government have created. It’s provided such a great boost to the ecosystem,” he added.


The untold story of Kickstarter’s crypto Hail Mary—and the secret $100 million a16z-led investment to save its fading brand

In early December 2021, employees at the crowdfunding startup Kickstarter got news of a windfall: An investor group wanted to buy some of their shares.

But there was a catch. The investment came with the expectation that Kickstarter would attempt a pivot to blockchain as its new benefactor—the crypto fund of venture behemoth Andreessen Horowitz—sought to capitalize on the latest hype cycle.

The windfall could have been the boost the company needed to help it reset and get back on a path toward relevance. Instead, the blockchain pivot triggered a vitriolic response from the community of creators and fans on which the company relied.


#Tech+Biz4SickKids launches with new name, lineup of Canadian tech ambassadors

#Tech+Biz4SickKids has launched its new campaign that aims to spur the Canadian innovation and corporate community to raise $1 million per year for Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

The funding will specifically be used to support the hospital’s Precision Child Health campaign, which aims to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prediction of children’s health issues.


Stash, last valued at $1.4B, lays off 25% of staff

Last valued at $1.4 billion, subscription investing app Stash is laying off about 25% of its workforce, Axios has learned.

The layoffs impact about 80 people, bringing its total headcount to around 220. At its peak, Stash had a roughly 500-strong workforce.


$85 million in combined investments will build up Calgary’s tech hubs

This week, Calgary became a hot target for tech investment.

California-based cybersecurity company Fortinet announced it was going to invest $30 million CAD to create a cybersecurity technology hub in downtown Calgary.

Fortinet expects to secure space in downtown Calgary, acquire equipment, and start hiring immediately, the company said in a statement, noting it intends to add more than 100 staff by the end of 2025.

The Government of Alberta also committed $55 million in its 2024 budget for a new multidisciplinary science hub at the University of Calgary.

The $450-million facility, expected to open in 2029, will include a student success centre to teach workplace skills, host startup incubators, and industry collaboration spaces for internships and hands-on learning.

Visa and Mastercard are pouring money into Africa

In 2023, Visa launched its Africa Fintech Accelerator program, just six months after the Mastercard Foundation announced a fund to invest in early-stage companies through local firms.

Last month, Mastercard agreed to buy a 3.8% stake in the mobile money business of Africa’s largest telecom, MTN, for $200 million. The company has a similar stake in Airtel Africa’s mobile money operations.

Local entrepreneurs and experts say these moves will help Visa and Mastercard stay relevant in Africa — at a time when users are moving towards digital wallets and quick codes.

(Rest of World)

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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