Adult Report Cards


Dec 08, 2018



Dec 08, 2018



For those whose grade school report cards were the bane of your existence, it's a good thing you're not a Chinese national. The country is nearing delivery of its personalized rating for each of its 1.3b residents – part of a lifelong points program based on social data and financial behavior.

So just how has China undertaken this huge endeavor and what are the financial implications for those who come in at the bottom of the class?

The very Big Brother “social credit” system will be based on a wealth of data collected and analyzed from both private enterprises and public institutions, including social network company Tencent and ecommerce giant Alibaba. By 2020, every Chinese citizen will be ranked and judged versus others whether they like it or not – and something as innocuous as a person’s shopping habits can become a measure of character in the system.

Unfortunately for those whose report cards come in less than stellar, financial life is likely to get much more difficult. From taking out a mortgage, online loan, or booking plane tickets online, low-ranked citizens may find themselves overtly blocked or enjoying a much less streamlined process.

Without a doubt, there are many problems with reducing humans to nothing more than a report card. We hope that Beijing remembers that people can change!

Portfolio News

‘Smart’ insurance helps poor farmers to cut risk - The FT highlights portfolio company WorldCover and their mission to provide affordable crop insurance to the world's smallholder farmers. More than 20,000 farmers in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda are now using the platform - which provides automatic payouts (sans claims adjustment) based on satellite data that measures rainfall. Read more

Vestwell inks a deal with BNY Mellon - Portfolio company Vestwell and BNY Mellon have announced they are collaborating on a platform for state-sponsored retirement savings programs (such as OregonSaves and CalSavers). Read more

Fintech investors and founders to judge startup battlefield Africa - Olugbenga Agboola, better known as "GB", who is CEO of portfolio company Flutterwave, will be one of the judges for the TechCrunch event which will be held in Lagos, Nigeria on December 11. Read more

Adult Report Cards

Beijing to judge every resident based on behavior - The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Read more

Industry News

A “fintech sandbox” might sound like a harmless idea. It's not - The FT points out a worrying trend of what appears to be a kind of race to the bottom among global regulators to set up the most "light-touch" possible regimes so as to attract start-ups to their jurisdictions. Read more

Cryptopia in crisis: Joe Lubin’s ethereum experiment is a mess. How long will he prop it up? - If Lubin is still a billionaire, he may be able to sustain ConsenSys for several years—even at its $100 million-plus annual burn rate. Read more

Four days trapped at sea with crypto’s nouveau riche - Funny long form read of a four-day Mediterranean cruise with hundreds of crypto-crazed investors and evangelists. Read more

With the economy uncertain, tech ‘unicorns’ rush toward IPO - Some of techs biggest unicorns, including Uber and Lyft, appear to be accelerating their plans to go public. Others such as Airbnb and Slack have stated they are "readying" to IPO but have not set formal timelines. Read more

CUNA mutual announces acquisition of Mirador - Cuna Mutual Group has acquired Portland-based digital lending platform Mirador for an undisclosed amount. Mirador helps banks and credit unions digitize their services to compete against OnDeck and other online lenders. Read more

SEC again delays decision on VanEck-SolidX Bitcoin ETF - The SEC has extended the review period for the nation's first bitcoin ETF, pushing the deadline to Feb. 27 2019. Unlike other ETF proposals, the Van Eck / SolidX ETF would be dependent on actual bitcoin, rather than futures markets. Read more

Online lender CommonBond acquires Gen Z financial advice platform NextGenVest - Digital student loan platform CommonBond has acquired Generation Z financial advice company NextGenVest for an undisclosed amount. After the acquisition, CommonBond plans to begin offering loans through the NextGenVest platform. Read more

Mapping the AI toolchain - Blumberg Capital provides a thorough overview on the companies leading the charge for developing infrastructure that will democratize AI. As deep learning becomes increasingly accessible to the enterprise, it will also become verticalized – with many potential applications in financial services. Read more

ConsenSys confirms layoffs, projecting 13% of staff at startups to be cut - Consensys, the ethereum production studio founded and funded by Joe Lubin, is letting go of 13% of its staff. The company boasts over 50 ventures under its umbrella. Read more

How Artificial Intelligence is helping financial institutions - Forbes reviews some of the ways that AI could help financial services companies save up to $1 trillion by 2030 - including customer service automation, insurance risk modeling, and compliance / AML / fraud detection. Read more

Select Financings

Cross River Bank - New Jersey based bank-as-a-service platform has raised a $100m financing led by KKR. Read more

Forge.AI - Boston-based unstructured data analysis platform has raised an $11m Series B led by Underscore VC. Read more

LearnLux - Boston based digital financial wellness platform has raised a $2m Series Seed from Sound Ventures, Marc Benioff, Underscore VC, and former Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash. Read more

Vagaro - California based business management platform for the salon, spa and fitness industry raised $63m in growth equity led by FTV. Read more


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