From Corporate Executive to Orthodox Priest: The Wirecard Saga You Must Read

From Corporate Executive to Orthodox Priest: The Wirecard Saga You Must Read
From Corporate Executive to Orthodox Priest: The Wirecard Saga You Must Read

Hey FinTech Fanatic!

Let's delve into what may very well be the most astonishing story ever to emerge from the FinTech world. At the heart of this bewildering saga is Jan Marsalek, a former executive of Wirecard, who found himself embroiled in espionage and deceit, with ties that led directly to Russian intelligence.

This narrative begins on a yacht in July 2014, where Marsalek was reportedly recruited by Russian intelligence, kicking off a relationship that spanned over a decade with the country's formidable security services.

This revelation, brought to light by a thorough investigation conducted by The Insider, Spiegel, ZDF, and the Austrian Standard, uncovers the depth of Marsalek's connections with the GRU, Russia's renowned military intelligence agency, long before the dramatic downfall of Wirecard in June 2020. Marsalek, who served as the Chief Operating Officer, was instrumental in orchestrating elaborate schemes with business partners to artificially boost the sales and profits of Wirecard, once considered the apex of Germany's FinTech industry, until its operations were exposed as fraudulent.

Adding to the intrigue are new details of Marsalek's elaborate double life, including his escape to Moscow under the alias of an orthodox priest. The investigation also sheds light on Marsalek's initial captivation with Russia, fueled by his association with a Russian erotic actress linked to the security services, with whom he indulged in parties, travels, and exhilarating flights in MiG fighter jets.

Talking about parties, anyone around in Vegas for FinTech Meetup? Let's catch up for a drink!



P.s. still looking for M&A targets globally, so let me know if you have info!


Affirm's market cap as of today is $11.3 billion. Klarna is rumored to go public at a $20 billion valuation

Here's how the two compare on revenue and operating income/loss:


Wirecard fugitive Jan Marsalek was recruited by Russian intelligence at a meeting on a yacht in July 2014sparking a decade-long association with the country’s security services. This connection, spanning over a decade, was revealed by The Insider, Spiegel, ZDF, and Austrian Standard which found that Marsalek's ties with the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency, long predated Wirecard's 2020 collapse.


🇬🇧 The U.K. market is one of the slower-growing real-time payment markets — however, despite its relative age, it is nowhere close to saturated. ACI Worldwide and GlobalData have taken a deep dive look into some of the key real-time payment markets globally. Check out the results here

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🇬🇧 Currencycloud and TangoPay combine to further enhance its existing remittance service for its UK-based expat customers by adding real-time competitive foreign exchange (FX) rates and additional localized payment options. Read more

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🇺🇸 Marqeta processing volume up 34% to $222 billion, generating $676 million in annual revenue. "2023 was transformative for Marqeta, as we enhanced our platform with new credit card program management capabilities, renewed the large majority of our processing volume to longer term deals, and delivered on operating efficiency," said Marqeta CEO.

🇲🇽 Ride-share application inDrive has partnered with financial technology firm R2 to extend loans to its drivers in Mexico, the company said, in a bid to provide financial services in a nation where access to credit can be cumbersome. The app has also teamed up with Mastercard (MA.N), opened a new tab and local FinTechs Giro and Galileo to provide credit cards to drivers, starting in the northern industrial town of Monterrey.


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🇪🇸 Samsung is considering adding a feature to do contactless payments with the Samsung’s Galaxy Ringits latest wearable which is launching with health-tracking features including heart rate and sleep monitoring while also giving users a score of their readiness for the day. The South Korean tech giant is putting it on display for the first time at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

🇫🇷 activates Cartes Bancaires on Tap to Pay on iPhone in France. Tap to Pay on iPhone with the | Terminal iOS app is yet another step towards liberating merchants from cumbersome legacy payment terminals, offering convenience, flexibility, streamlining payments and simplifying daily operations.

🇺🇸 Checkbook and Visa bid to maximise instant payment availability. Checkbook, an all-in-one payments platform, announced a multi-year collaboration with Visa aimed at expediting disbursements to businesses, institutions, and individuals across millions of endpoints around the country.

🇸🇦 Mastercard partners with Loop to launch innovative payment solutions in Saudi Arabia. The partnership will see Loop expand its portfolio, enhance its suite of products and services through leveraging Mastercard technology and expertise. More on that here

🇺🇸 Amazon expands smart carts pilot. The tech giant’s smart shopping carts, designed to speed up the checkout process, are now available for use in a California Whole Foods store. The firm is also tapping biometrics to streamline the checkout process. 


🇺🇸 Goldman Sachs increased the Apple Card savings account's balance limit to $1 million, with cardholders being notified by email. The account's previous balance limit was $250,000, which is the maximum amount that the U.S. FDIC would cover in the event that Goldman Sachs were to become insolvent. 

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🇳🇬 Nigeria has imposed a $10 billion fine on Binance amid its crackdown on the global crypto exchange in a bid to salvage the value of the nation’s local currency. The Nigerian government claims that Binance profited significantly from its “illegal transactions” in Nigeria while the country suffered major losses.


🇳🇬 Bfree, a Nigerian startup enabling lenders to recover debt ethically, gets $3M backingThe startup is arguably the only tech-enabled credit recovery company across Africa, where collectors continue to heavily rely on traditional options like call centers to follow up on settlements.

🇬🇧 Ex-Mastercard VP raises funds for consumer payments app: TABBit, a London based FinTech startup, making it possible for friends to manage shared expenses via their existing banking apps, has successfully raised £320k to focus on growth and further product development.

🇬🇧 Sibstar secures £125k from Dragon’s Den. Jayne Sibley, Founder of Sibstar, a debit card and app designed for dementia patients and their families to securely manage their funds, has received £125k from Dragon’s Den investors Sara Davies and Deborah Maiden.


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🇲🇽 Ziff, a financial solutions provider in Mexico, has announced its acquisition of the digital lending company Arrenda. With this acquisition, the company aims to bolster its credit offerings and address cash flow challenges for 4.46 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), intending to place MX$1 billion in loans by 2027.


🇺🇸 ACI Worldwide appoints two new independent directors: Katrinka McCallum and Juan Benitez, to the company’s Board of Directors. The additions of Katrinka and Juan strengthen an already impressive Board as we expand our SaaS businesses and accelerate productivity through more use of Generative AI and machine learning, things both of them have overseen before,” said ACI Worldwide CEO.

🇬🇧 Metro Bank appoints Barclays veteran Marc Page as CFOPage is set to join the U.K. bank and its board on September 2, pending regulatory approval, according to a press release issued by Metro Bank on February 29. In the interim, Cristina Alba Ochoa will continue to serve as the bank’s interim CFO. 

🇮🇹 Anna Di Censo joins Wirex. Anna brings to Wirex a wealth of experience from BBVA, where she was instrumental in strengthening the bank's compliance frameworks and anti-money laundering (AML) strategies. Her hiring is part of Wirex's global expansion strategy, especially aimed at strengthening its operations in Italy.

🇺🇸 Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley to step down by the end of the year. The low-cost fund manager’s assets grew more than 80% to $9 trillion during his tenure. Vanguard said it is conducting a selection process for its next CEO. Greg Davis, who was previously chief investment officer, was promoted to president. 

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