Fiserv, LG back Korea Credit Data as the SME-focused fintech startup raises another $24.7M

In South Korea, there are about 7.3 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — defined as firms with less than 250 employees. Their workforces combined make up 83.1% of all corporation employees in the country, totaling about 17.1 million people, according to OECD data. To help meet SMEs’ financial needs in the country, Seoul-based fintech startup Korea Credit Data (KCD) said Thursday that it has raised $24.7 million in Series D extension financing. Strategic investors — Fiserv, a Nasdaq-listed fintech company, and LG Uplus, a telco unit of LG Corporation — participated in the extension round. In total, KCD has raised about $70 million in its Series D round and about $112 million since its 2016 inception, said CEO of KCD Kelvin Dongho Kim. The latest financing values the company at approximately $776 million (1.1 trillion KRW). KCD was valued at about $563 million in November last year when it raised $28.1 million in its Series D1. The startup wants to address small merc

Halo Car’s teleoperated car-sharing service to roll out this year with no one behind the wheel

Halo Car, a Las Vegas-based startup that combines teleoperations and car sharing, said it will remove the human safety operator from behind the wheel later this year — the last hurdle before its commercial launch. The milestone would mean Halo Car will use humans to remotely control vehicles through public streets and deliver them to its car-sharing service customers. These fully remote deliveries will mark the official launch of commercial operations and kick off a campaign to scale its fleet of electric vehicles and expand beyond Las Vegas. The unique approach to car-sharing has attracted several investors. The company said Wednesday it raised $5 million in a seed round led by climate tech fund At One Ventures, with participation from T-Mobile Ventures, Earthshot Ventures, and existing investor Boost VC. The funds will help the startup to expand into cities beyond Las Vegas and scale its fleet to 1,000 EVs by the end of 2023. Halo Car’s model shouldn’t be confused with autonomous

NetWalker ransomware affiliate sentenced to 20 years in prison

A former Canadian government employee has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in a ransomware scheme that netted him more than $21 million. Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, a 34-year-old from Quebec, was sentenced in a Florida court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to charges related to his involvement in the prolific Netwalker ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation. Vachon-Desjardins operated as an affiliate for NetWalker, where it is believed he conducted a number of U.S. companies and at least 17 Canadian entities. Vachon-Desjardins, who worked as an IT consultant for Public Works and Government Services in Canada, according to his LinkedIn profile, was previously arrested by Canadian police in January 2021 and sentenced to seven years in prison. During a search of his home, law enforcement officials discovered and seized 719 bitcoin, valued at about $17.6 million at the time of writing, and $790,000 in Canadian currency. Authorities in the U.S. and Belgium also seiz

Terraform Labs founder Do Kwon refutes reports about his funds getting frozen

Do Kwon refuted claims that his crypto funds had been frozen after media reports said South Korean prosecutors had escalated actions against the entrepreneur whose blockchain collapsed and wiped investors’ $40 billion earlier this year .  Korean media outlet News1 reported on Wednesday that prosecutors had frozen $39.6 million of crypto assets tied to the Terraform Labs founder and chief executive. The report was amplified by CoinDesk, a popular crypto-focused news outlet. In response, Kwon labelled the news item as “falsehood,” once again reiterating that he doesn’t use KuCoin and OkEx. “Have no time to trade, no funds have been frozen,” he said. “I don’t know whose funds they’ve frozen, but good for them, hope they use it for good,” he added. I don't get the motivation behind spreading this falsehood – muscle flexing? But to what end? Once again, I don't even use Kucoin and OkEx, have no time to trade, no funds have been frozen. I don't know whose funds they'v

A year in review of Google’s $1B commitment to support Africa’s digital economy

Today, Google announced its new cloud region in South Africa, the African nation which is now home to the major global cloud providers on the continent. For Google, this move is part of its broader commitment to invest $1 billion to support “digital transformation” across Africa over the next five years. The commitment, when dissected, includes projections of Google landing a subsea cable, providing low-interest loans to small businesses and equity investments to African growth startups, among other things. Google CEO Sundar Pichai made this announcement last October – precisely a year ago – meaning there’s no better time to review the tech giant’s activities so far. In a media roundtable, the managing director at Google Africa, Nitin Gajria, pointed out that Google’s $1 billion investment in the continent is focused on four key areas. They include providing affordable access and helpful products for Africans, supporting businesses with their digital transformation process, investin

Google picks South Africa for its first cloud region in Africa

Tech giant Google has today announced the launch of a cloud region in South Africa, its first in the continent, playing catch-up to other top providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, which made inroads into the continent a few years ago. Google said it is also building Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites, which link users’ on-premises networks with Google’s grid, in Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria), and South Africa (Capetown and Johannesburg), in its quest to provide full-scale cloud capabilities for its customers and partners in Africa. Google plans to tap its private subsea cable, Equiano , which connects Africa and Europe to power the sites. Equiano has been under development since 2019 and has so far made four landings — in Togo, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa. South Africa now joins Google’s global network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide, and the announcement follows the recent preview launch of regions in Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand .

Whistleblow while you work: This startup wants to make it easier to report corporate wrongdoings

From Edward Snowden’s government surveillance revelations through the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal and Twitter’s recent security pitfalls , whistleblowers have been the driving force behind some of the biggest news stories of recent years. But whistleblowing isn’t always about insiders shining a light on shady practices in governments or billion-dollar tech companies. Oftentimes, it’s simply a case of a concerned employee wanting to report unethical or questionable activity at a relatively small scale, and raise their concerns with the right people internally to address issues before they become a public relations disaster. At its core, whistleblowing is a way for anyone directly connected to a public or private body to bring attention to practices they feel contravene some law or code of conduct — no matter how big or small this contravention may be. And it’s against that backdrop that the European Union (EU) is setting out to offer better protections f

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