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Zūm Rails takes in first capital to launch new banking-as-a-service, FedNow offerings

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The adoption of open banking and instant payments is moving slowly in the United States compared to other markets around the world, for example, Brazil. That said, the new program FedNow went live in July 2023, and data-sharing regulations are forthcoming, so more potential is on the horizon.

Until then, the co-founders of Zūm Rails say the experiences consumers have with payments continues to be fragmented, meaning companies have to create a tech stack to provide a wide range of services to their customers. The Montreal-based company is taking the approach of providing an all-in-one payments gateway that merges open banking with instant payments.

Marc Milewski and Miles Schwartz started the company in 2019. Milewski’s background is in treasury payments and he was an early employee at accounts receivable automation software company Versapay. While there, he worked on what ultimately became Canada’s first webhook-enabled EFT gateway.

“You learn about all the problems everyone has moving money,” Milewski told TechCrunch. “Open banking was discussed, but I thought it was more about payments. Miles and I talked about building a whole new gateway that unified these experiences. Companies don’t want to be payment experts — that’s our job.”

They started building software to simplify the complexity of moving money via different payment rails so companies can use whichever approach makes sense for their business. Their technology leverages “omni rails” for payments, whether it is traditional credit, debit or electronic funds transfer options. It also provides for real-time options through partners, including Visa Direct, Mastercard, MX and Canada’s Interac network.

Zūm Rails manages the flow of money, including the reduction of fraud and failed transactions, by verifying a customer’s identity, linking directly with bank accounts and facilitating payments via the method of the customer’s choosing.

The company now processes more than $1 billion in payments through its platform each month for over 500 companies, including Questrade, Coinsquare and Desjardins, which is a large federation of credit unions in North America. In the past year, the company grew over 200% and launched in the U.S. at the end of 2023.

Milewski and Schwartz bootstrapped Zūm Rails, building it up to a team of 30 people. Last year, the pair decided to raise venture capital.

“We reached the point where we realize that bootstrapping is no longer healthy for our business,” Schwartz told TechCrunch. “We have some big initiatives we want to work on and grow on. Now it makes sense to do it all at once, and it’s healthy for the business to now go all-in and use the fuel.”

Zūm Rails, open banking, instant payments

Zūm Rails’ technology leverages “omni rails” for payments, whether it is traditional credit, debit or electronic funds transfer options. Image Credits: Zūm Rails

They closed on a $10.5 million Series A funding round, led by Arthur Ventures, and intend to invest in growing in the U.S. and expanding its payments offerings that will include the introduction of new banking-as-a-service features for merchants. In addition, Zūm Rails is working on a FedNow offering in the U.S. that will enable businesses to send and receive FDIC-insured payments within seconds.

Zūm Rails’ performance to date “is really impressive,” Jake Olson, vice president at Arthur Ventures, told TechCrunch. He called the company “a great fit” for its investment thesis, which is high-growth and capital-efficient B2B software companies.

“Achieving profitability without any outside capital is impressive,” Olson said. “Their product positioning is also really compelling. Rather than weaving together different systems, Zūm Rails can provide organizations with a comprehensive solution that powers the entire transaction journey and enables them to have a seamless experience for their end users. Any organization that views the streamline digital financial interaction coupled with the instant payments capability as a competitive advantage will be a great fit for Zūm Rails.”



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ISRO Gears Up To Launch ESA’s Proba-3 Mission To Study The Sun In Late 2024

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching the European Space Agency’s (ESA) new mission to study the Sun later this year. The launch is targeted for September and it will be carried from Sriharikota using ISRO’s PSLV-XL rocket. Designated Proba-3 (PRoject for On-Board Autonomy), this mission consists of two probes that will be installed in a highly elliptical orbit (600X60,530 kilometer).

Europe currently lacks a launch provider after the retirement of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket and the delay in introduction of the new Ariane 6.

What is the Proba-3 mission about?

This mission is aimed at studying the Sun’s corona- its outer atmosphere by creating an artificial solar eclipse. The eclipse will happen when the two probes will align themselves approximately 150 meters apart and the one ahead will block the Sun for the second one (see picture below).

Artist’s impression of the Proba-3 satellites in space. Image: ESA

The two satellites are called the Coronagraph spacecraft and the Occulter – one to block the Sun and the other two observe the resulting eclipse.

According to ESA, this mission will allow scientists to study the Sun’s faint corona closer to the solar rim than has ever before been achieved. The corona has been a subject of interest for astronomers for a long time due to its strange properties. For one, it heats up to a million degrees more than the Sun’s surface, reason for which is still unknown.

Once in orbit, the Proba-3 satellites will create eclipses that will last for six hours at a time, providing the scientists plenty of time for observations. The mission is expected to last at least two years.





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What Does A Solar Eclipse On Mars Look Like? NASA Answers With Breathtaking Views

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Today on April 8, millions of people on Earth will witness the Total Solar Eclipse across Mexico, the US and Canada. But apart from Earth, Mars is another planet in our solar system that experiences eclipses courtesy of its two Moons – Phobos and Deimos. NASA recently shared views of eclipses on Mars that were captured by the Perseverance rover.

Notably, the Moons of Mars are over a 100 times smaller than Earth’s Moon but the visuals of their transit is still pretty cool.

The visuals above shows a silhouette of Deimos which is just 12 km in diameter and is 16 times closer to Mars than Earth’s Moon. NASA says that this transit took place in January and lasted about two minutes.

ALSO SEE: What Time Is The Eclipse? When To Watch Wherever You Are.

Perseverance captured another eclipse in February this time featuring Phobos, which measures 22 km wide. This transit, NASA said, was captured in real time. Scientists say that Phobos is on a collision course with Mars and is predicted to either crash into the planet 50 million years from now or break up into a ring. Phobos, according to estimates, is nearing Mars at a rate of six feet every hundred years.

As for the solar eclipse on Earth, it will offer a rare opportunity to spot the loops in the Sun’s corona (outer atmosphere). It is special for other reasons as well. The eclipse will not be visible in India but you can still watch it live via NASA’s YouTube livestream starting 10:30 pm IST.

ALSO SEE: Mars Spacecraft Snaps Glorious View Of Martian Volcanoes — And A Surprise





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‘We Are Probably Alone’: Elon Musk Gets Candid On Aliens And Colonising Mars ‘Before World War 3’

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Elon Musk believes that humans are probably alone in the universe since there is no evidence of an alien civilisation. Speaking at SpaceX’s event at Starbase, Texas on April 6, Musk spoke on a range of topics involving Mars, the future of humanity, consciousness and of course, aliens.

He said that he is yet to see any concrete evidence about the existence of aliens while evoking one of the coolest theories in existence — the ‘Fermi Paradox’. It is named after Italian-American Physicist Enrico Fermi who believed that aliens equipped with super advanced technology might have spread out and colonised the entire galaxy but no one has ever found any proof of their existence.

Elon Musk speaking at Starbase event in Texas. Image: SpaceX/@X

“I have not seen any evidence that there are aliens on Earth. The question ‘where are the aliens’ is a very profound one. I am aware of no evidence of aliens whatsoever…I think we are probably alone,” Musk said.

Colonise Mars before World War 3

Refusing to be a “lame one-planet civilisation,” Musk spoke on the preparations that are underway to make humans multiplanetary in order to preserve consciousness if it hasn’t extended to other star systems. He said that he will build a city on Mars in 20 years and Starship will play a key role in realising his dream.

Starship is SpaceX’s full reusable and world’s most powerful rocket which is currently undergoing test launches. It has launched three times so far but failed to complete the missions. Musk said that the fourth flight is likely next month. Standing 121 meters (397 feet) tall, Starship’s upgraded model will be taller by ten meters, the SpaceX CEO said.

SpaceX has plans to launch a million tonnes in eight years to Mars and 10 Starships each day in its preparation to colonise the red planet. A self-sustaining city on Mars, according to SpaceX, will need around 1 million people and millions of tonnes of cargo. “We will do this in 20 years,” Musk said.

ALSO SEE: Scientist Warns Against Elon Musk’s Mars Migration Dream, Calls It ‘Unrealistic’ And ‘Dangerous Illusion’

He also said that thousands of Ships will depart from Earth to Mars every two years at one point, something which he believes is pretty doable. “It will look like Battlestar Galactica, but in a good way,” he said. He also said that Mars must be colonised before World War 3 breaks out.

After Starship’s third flight on March 14, Musk predicted that the launch vehicle will reach Mars within five years. But before colonising Mars, Starship will play a crucial role supporting NASA’s Artemis Program to build bases on the Moon.

ALSO SEE: SpaceX Rolls Out Starship’s Booster To Launch Pad As Anticipation For Fourth Flight Builds Up





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