France Newsletter

Spot is a cryptocurrency app to control all your wallets and exchange accounts

Posted by | Apps, blockchain, cryptocurrency, Edouard Steegmann, Europe, France Newsletter, Mobile, SPOT, Spot.so, Startups | No Comments

Meet Spot, a beautifully designed mobile app to control your cryptocurrencies. Spot looks like a portfolio-tracking app. But the company has built a strong foundation to add more features in the coming months. Spot wants to be your unique gateway to the world of cryptocurrencies.

“Spot’s vision isn’t to build a portfolio tracker — we went a bit overboard with this feature,” co-founder and CEO Edouard Steegmann told me. “Eventually, we want to become the app to manage all your cryptos, a sort of Revolut but with a crypto DNA.”

When you first install the app, you can connect it to your existing wallets by adding public addresses. Even if you store your tokens on a hardware wallet, Spot can read the public details of your wallet to show them in the app.

“We have our own nodes on Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Stellar and others to recover the amount on your wallet,” Steegmann said. Data is also cross-checked with third-party services to make sure that everything is fine.

Spot also lets you connect to an exchange account using API keys. Right now, the app supports Binance, Kraken, Bitfinex and Poloniex, but the company already plans to add more exchanges.

The app then gives you a detailed overview of your holdings across all services and wallets. You can see detailed charts, and discover which token is performing better than the rest. It’s also one of the most well-designed mobile apps I’ve seen this year — the animations and interactions are gorgeous.

But Spot doesn’t rely on an API to get pricing information for each token. “We’ve rebuilt CoinMarketCap from the ground up, and we’re one of the few companies that have done it,” Steegmann said. The company stores pricing information for dozens of tokens across 150 exchanges. That’s a lot of pairings.

If you tap on the Spot logo at the top of the app, you can see the maximum value of your portfolio if you cash out on exchanges with the highest prices for your tokens. The company makes sure that there’s enough volume to show you coherent prices.

Spot thinks that controlling your own data is too important to rely on API calls. When you have your own data, you don’t have any API rate limits, you don’t have a major dependency and you can scale more calmly.

Up next, you’ll be able to trade directly in the app. The company isn’t going to build its own exchange, but you can expect to buy and sell tokens on a third-party exchange without having to visit the website.

“We think that many things will be tokenized and that there’s no user-friendly interface to transfer, receive, buy and sell,” Steegmann said.

The company raised a $1.2 million round (€1.056 million to be exact) from Kima Ventures and business angels, including Eric Larchevêque and Thomas France from Ledger, Jean-Daniel Guyot, Thibaud Elzière, Eduardo Ronzano, Nicolas Steegmann, Sébastien Lucas and Nicolas Debock.

Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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Lydia introduces credit lines

Posted by | Apps, Europe, France Newsletter, Lydia, Mobile | No Comments

French startup Lydia announced a partnership with Banque Casino today for small credit lines. Starting tomorrow, Lydia users in France will be able to borrow as much as €1,000 in just a few seconds.

While Lydia started as a peer-to-peer money transferring app, fintech startups always end up offering credit at some point. It’s hard to make money without offering some form of credit.

Banque Casino is a subsidiary of Casino and Crédit Mutuel. As the name suggests, it’s a bank that can issue credit lines. Lydia has developed a seamless integration with Banque Casino so you can instantly get money from Banque Casino.

The credit feature lets you borrow between €100 and €1,000 and reimburse that credit line over three months. If you’re eligible, you’ll instantly see how much you’ll end up paying after three months.

But the most interesting feature is that you can either get your money instantly on your Lydia account for a fee, or you can wait a couple of weeks to wave this fee.

Combining instant credit with instant spending is key to this feature. Lydia lets you instantly spend money on your Lydia account on e-commerce websites that support Lydia, using Lydia’s debit card, or using a virtual card in Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. And if Lydia wants to replace cash, it needs to be as quick as giving a money bill to someone.

Lydia currently has 1.5 million users; 3,500 people open a Lydia account every day. The company recently released two insurance products for your mobile devices, as well.

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Lydia launches mobile phone insurance

Posted by | CNP, CNP Assurances, Europe, France Newsletter, insurance, Lydia, Mobile, Startups | No Comments

French startup Lydia is launching an insurance product for your mobile phone. For €4.29 per month ($4.89), you can insure your phone from the Lydia app.

Lydia is one of the most popular peer-to-peer payment apps in Europe, with 1.5 million users. Think about it as a sort of Venmo or Square Cash for Europe. More recently, the company started offering more options to manage your money with a premium subscription and additional features.

While Lydia doesn’t want to replace your bank and insurance company, the company is offering an insurance product for the first time. Lydia is partnering with its investor CNP Assurances — having an insurance company as an investor has a few advantages.

So here’s what you get. You’re instantly covered against cracked screens, liquid damage and accidental damage. There’s no excess, but you’re limited to one claim per year. Phones now cost a small fortune, but you’re limited to €500 ($570) per claim.

Optionally, you can subscribe to a better insurance product for €9.99 per month ($11.39). In addition to phone insurance, your laptop, tablet, Nintendo Switch, Kindle, camera and other electronics are covered. You can make two claims per year and you can get back up to €500 for your phone and €1,800 for other devices. More importantly, you’re also covered against theft.

Many phone carriers sell mobile phone insurance. But they usually cost more than that. In most cases, you also need to subscribe for at least one year. In Lydia’s case, you can cancel your subscription whenever you want in the app.

If that product sounds familiar, it’s because Revolut offers a similar feature (with some drawbacks). You can subscribe to mobile phone insurance from Revolut’s mobile app.

Pricing isn’t as straightforward with Revolut, as Premium subscribers get a discount. For an iPhone X, the insurance product costs as much as €9.58 per month ($10.92) without a Revolut Premium account, or as little as €6.67 per month ($7.60) if you pay upfront and you have a Revolut Premium account.

It’s a 12-month contract with a €125 excess and no theft protection. You also need to start insuring your phone quickly after buying (within six months), otherwise you aren’t covered. Revolut works with Allianz and Simplesurance for this insurance product.

Lydia may have borrowed the idea from Revolut, but I’m not sure why you’d choose Revolut’s insurance product over Lydia’s product.

It’s interesting to see that fintech companies are creating alternative revenue streams with insurance products. Subscribing to an insurance product is quick and painless, as they already manage your money and have your card on file.

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Zyl is now a nostalgia-powered photo app

Posted by | Apps, Crossroad, Europe, France Newsletter, Mobile, Social, Startups, TC, Zyl | No Comments

AI-powered photo management app Zyl is going back to the drawing board with a streamlined, more efficient redesign. The app is now focused on one thing only — resurfacing your old memories.

Taking photos on a smartphone is now a daily habit. But what about looking back at photos you took one year, three years or even eight years ago? It can pile up quite quickly. Zyl thinks there’s emotional value in those long-forgotten photos.

Before this update, Zyl helped you delete duplicates, create smart photo albums based on multiple criteria and collaborate on photo albums. In other words, it was a utility app.

But when the company started talking with some of their users, they realized that one feature stood out and had more value than the rest.

Applying those AI-powered models to your photo library is a great way to find interesting photos. But nobody was really looking at them.

When you open the app, you get a view of your camera roll with your last photos at the bottom. There’s also a big green button at the bottom. When you tap on it, Zyl creates a satisfying animation and unveils an important photo.

If you took multiple photos to capture this moment, the app stitches together those photos and create a GIF. You can then share this Zyl with a friend or family member.

But the true magic happens if you try to get another Zyl. You have to wait 24 hours to unlock another photo. The next day, the app sends you a notification when your photo is ready. You can always open the app again and look at your past Zyls in a new tab with your most important photos.

Unlike Timehop or Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, Zyl doesn’t look at your social media posts and focuses on your camera roll. Zyl isn’t limited to anniversaries either.

Just like before, Zyl respects your privacy and leaves your photos alone. They’re never sent to the company’s server — Zyl uses the same photo database as the native one on your iPhone or Android phone so it doesn’t eat up more storage.

Over time, the app could give you more options by leveraging facial recognition and the intrinsic social graph of your photo library. Maybe you want to see more photos of your brother as his wedding is coming up.

And that notification can be a powerful nudge. I keep opening the app and sharing old photos. Zyl is a good example of the combination of something that you care about combined with an element of surprise.

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Shadow announces a new box for its cloud gaming service

Posted by | Europe, France Newsletter, Gadgets, Gaming, shadow | No Comments

French startup Blade, the company behind Shadow, is updating its physical box that lets you connect to your cloud computer instance. Shadow Ghost is a tiny device that provides all the ports and wireless technologies that you need to plug in to a TV or a monitor and start playing.

Shadow has been building a cloud computing service for gamers. For $35 per month, you get a gaming PC in a data center near you. Shadow gives you 8 threads on an Intel Xeon 2620 processor, an Nvidia Quadro P5000 GPU that performs more or less as well as an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It’s a full Windows 10 instance and you can do whatever you want with it.

The company started with a dedicated box from day one. The first Shadow box was an oddly-shaped black box with a few USB ports and DisplayPorts. This way, you could replace your PC at home with this box and use the same peripherals.

When you turn it on, it feels like you’re booting up your gaming PC, but you’re actually just starting a computer with a low-powered CPU that connects to your gaming PC in the cloud.

Over the past few months, Shadow has slowly decorrelated the service from the physical device in your home. When you subscribe, you don’t get a box by default. You can install the Shadow app on your existing computer, phone or tablet and start playing.

If you still want the box to connect to your Shadow instance without an existing PC, you can rent it for $10 per month or purchase it for $140. It could be particularly useful for a TV for instance.

Compared to the previous generation, Shadow Ghost is completely silent as the fan is gone — that was my main complaint with the first Shadow box. You won’t need as many dongles either as there’s an HDMI port by default (instead of a DisplayPort) and it supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It’s also much more energy-efficient as it should consume three times less power than the existing Shadow device.

Shadow Ghost will be available for the same price at some point during the last quarter of 2018. The service itself is currently available in France, Germany, the U.K., Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. In the U.S., the company has a data center near San Francisco and another one on the East Coast.

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Lydia now supports Samsung Pay

Posted by | Apps, Europe, France Newsletter, Lydia, Mobile, Samsung Pay, Startups | No Comments

While French banks are just catching up to Apple Pay, French startup Lydia is adding support for Samsung Pay. If you have a recent Samsung phone, you can now add a virtual card to Samsung Pay and pay using your phone in your favorite stores.

Lydia started as a peer-to-peer payment app. It works more or less like Venmo or Square Cash in the U.S. After signing up, you can add a debit card to your account and send and receive money for free. You can withdraw your balance to a traditional bank account whenever you want.

The company has been adding more features to turn Lydia into the only banking app you need. You can now connect Lydia to your bank accounts, view your balances, get an IBAN, initiate transfers, create Lydia sub-accounts with multiple people and get a physical MasterCard.

Some features are now part of a premium subscription for €2.99 per month ($3.47) or €3.99 per month with the physical card ($4.62). The company also expanded to the U.K., Ireland, Spain and Portugal. There are a million registered users on Lydia.

More interestingly, Lydia wants to go beyond peer-to-peer payments. You can use Lydia to pay in some grocery stores, such as Franprix stores. You can also pay online by receiving a push notification and confirming the transaction in the Lydia app — Cdiscount supports Lydia for instance.

And when you can’t pay with your Lydia account directly, the startup doesn’t want to play favorites. You can generate a virtual card and enter the card number on an e-commerce website. You can add this virtual card to Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. Let’s see if Google Pay is next.

This could be particularly interesting for users who can’t use those payment systems because their banks don’t support those features. Let’s be honest, you rarely change your bank. With Lydia, you can still use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay with your existing bank account.

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Back Market raises $48 million for its refurbished device marketplace

Posted by | Back Market, Europe, France Newsletter, Fundings & Exits, Gadgets, Startups | No Comments

If you’ve tried selling your old smartphone on a refurbishment website, chances are you ended up with a dozen browser tabs comparing prices. French startup Back Market is taking advantage of this fragmented industry to create a marketplace and aggregate all refurbishers on a single online platform.

The startup just raised $48 million (€41 million). Groupe Arnault, Eurazeo, Aglaé Ventures and Daphni participated in today’s funding round.

Back in May, the company told me that it was working with over 270 factories. Back Market has generated over $110 million in gross merchandise volume over the past three years. The service is now live in France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Italy. The company just expanded to the U.S.

“Before, refurbishment was just a thing for tech savvy people and tech bloggers,” co-founder and chief creative officer Vianney Vaute told me. “With Back Market, it becomes a mainstream alternative.”

Working with multiple factories is also a competitive advantage when it comes to pricing, fail rate and quality assurance. Back Market has an overview on the industry and can choose to work with some partners and leave underperforming ones behind. The startup needs to build a brand that consumers can trust.

While smartphones and laptops are the most prominent products on the homepage, Back Market also accepts game consoles, TVs, headphones, coffee machines and more. Back Market also sells Apple products refurbished by Apple itself.

Now that smartphones have become a mature market, many customers aren’t looking for new and shiny devices. Some customers can be perfectly happy with a phone that was released last year or two years ago. It represents an opportunity for Back Market and the refurbishment industry as a whole.

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Tempow raises $4 million to improve Bluetooth

Posted by | France Newsletter, Gadgets, Startups, Tempow | No Comments

French startup Tempow has raised a $4 million funding round. Balderton Capital led the round, with C4 Ventures also participating. The company has been working on improving the Bluetooth protocol to make it more versatile.

Smartphones, speakers and connected devices all use Bluetooth in one way or another. There are only a handful of Bluetooth chipset manufacturers in the world, such as Qualcomm and Broadcom. While Bluetooth chips have become incredibly efficient as they use much less power than they used to, it’s been stagnant on the software front.

Tempow is a software company that wants to rewrite the Bluetooth stack from scratch. The company started with an audio profile.

Thanks to Tempow’s technology, you can connect a phone to multiple Bluetooth speakers at once. This is just a software improvement — it works with standard Bluetooth chipsets and all Bluetooth audio devices out there.

Lenovo liked this idea and licensed the technology for its Moto X4 handset. More than 5 million devices with Tempow’s Bluetooth stack have been sold.

With today’s funding round, the startup wants to tackle more use cases. For instance, Tempow wants to optimize the pairing process, enhance the security of the protocol and work on battery consumption. “Maybe you could pay using Bluetooth instead of NFC,” co-founder and CEO Vincent Nallatamby told me.

At the same time, the startup is negotiating with multiple manufacturers. You can expect to see Tempow’s technology in more devices in the future.

The company currently has 7 patents pending and just got its first patent last week. Eventually, Tempow thinks it can build a team of Bluetooth experts who push the protocol forward.

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Canal+ gives up on its cable box, switches to Apple TV

Posted by | Apps, canal+, Entertainment, France Newsletter, Gadgets | No Comments

French premium cable television company Canal+ is slowly moving away from building its own set top boxes. As Next INpact spotted, you can now subscribe to Canal+ and get an Apple TV 4K with Canal+’s myCanal app already preloaded.

Canal+ has been around for decades and was the first premium TV channel in France. Over the years, the company started distributing all sorts of premium channels through satellite, cable and partnerships with internet service providers.

While you had to get your own Canal+ set top box to receive Canal+ 15 years ago, the company’s own box has slowly become irrelevant. As all the main French internet service providers give you a set top box, Canal+ has partnered with them to offer multiple add-ons to receive Canal+’s content.

When Canal+ announced its most recent device, Canal+ already said that you’d get a better experience with the myCanal app on the Apple TV.

That’s why Canal+ is betting everything on over-the-top distribution. If you don’t subscribe to Canal+ through your ISP, you can get an Apple TV 4K for €6 per month in addition to your TV package. If your internet connection isn’t fast enough or you’d rather use satellite TV, you can still get a Canal+ set top box.

But the writing is on the wall. Most people will soon watch Canal+ through myCanal on Android TV, tvOS, iOS, Android, a Samsung TV and desktop computers.

In France, Molotov and myCanal have been some of the top performing apps for tvOS and Android TV. This partnership could boost the Apple TV in France.

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Devialet is getting a new CEO

Posted by | Devialet, Europe, France Newsletter, Gadgets, Speaker, Startups, TC | No Comments

 Employees of French startup Devialet just learned this morning that they would get a new CEO. Co-founder and (former) CEO Quentin Sannié is going to focus on the long-term vision, while Franck Lebouchard is joining the company to become CEO.
While the board of the company elected Lebouchard as CEO on Friday, this change has been in the works for months. Lebouchard has worked at McKinsey… Read More

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