Posted In:

NFTs, NBA, Top Shot

Flying Cats


Feb 27, 2021


Posted In:

NFTs, NBA, Top Shot


Feb 27, 2021



With the hot start for cryptocurrencies in 2021, investors are turning their attention to digital assets (read: non-fungible tokens - NFTs) that can represent anything from art to sports memorabilia, mostly built on the Ethereum blockchain.

First popularized by CryptoKitties in 2017 and taken mainstream by the NBA and Christies, the former saw over $140m in transaction volume this week alone (total value of NFT transaction last year was $250m). NBA Top Shot has been key to bringing this asset mainstream, with 60k buyers on the platform completing over 330k transactions. In second place is Crypto Punks, with $40m in transaction volume. A single piece of art at Christie’s has a current bid of $1.2m at the time of writing.

For some, taking part in this market is an investment decision. Art has historically been an uncorrelated asset to equities and with a volatile equities market and uncertain bond market, NFTs provide a great (and entertaining) source of diversification. For others, it is simply a digital version of self-expression, and perhaps owning something with sentimental value. The financialization of NFTs is here.

Unlike Bitcoin, each NFT is unique, can’t be replicated, and accrues value independently, mainly driven by scarcity. Beyond art and sports, people have also found uses for NFTs in virtual real estate, music, and gaming.

If you’ve got diamond hands, and you’re into punks, dunks, flying cats (with Pop-Tart bodies) or anything for that matter - an NFT will surely be available for you to collect. And as anyone who grew up in the 90s will understand, while the LeBron dunk might be just as scarce as Princess the Bear, the bright side of digital assets is that it can’t possibly turn out like this…

Portfolio News

Parkside closes $24m Series A financing - Congratulations to portfolio company Parkside on their Series A financing. Shanghai, China-based Enlight Growth Partners (“EGP”) led the round, which included existing investors Mubadala Capital, FinTech Collective and Colle Capital, and new investors Peak6 Investments and Entrée Capital. Parkside will continue expanding its technology and brokerage services in support of its 2021 growth plans. Read more

Galaxy Digital leads $4.3m SAFT into blockchain platform Centrifuge - Congratulations to portfolio company Centrifuge on their new round of funding. The SAFT round began last December and was led by Mike Novogratz’s investment firm Galaxy Digital and research-driven venture capital fund IOSG Ventures. The round also saw participation from companies such as Rockaway, Fintech Collective, Moonwhale, Fenbushi, TRGC, and HashCIB. Read more

Revolut’s rival Bottlepay bags £11m funding; lets users send Bitcoin to on social media - Bottlepay, a Bitcoin-based global payments app, has secured £11m in seed funding. The round was led by a range of investors including British fund manager and billionaire Alan Howard, present and former Goldman Sachs partners, FinTech Collective, NYDIG, and tech entrepreneur Phil Doye. The funding will be used to expand the team and develop the platform’s functionality and geographical reach. Read more

The future of fintech: Trends and opportunities in lending - Matt Levinson and Octane co-founder and CEO Jason Guss examine the evolution of fintech from the first to the second generation of companies, explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the marketplace, and present their views on the future of the industry. Listen here. Read more

(Podcast) How artificial intelligence is transforming private rental sector housing investment with IMMO co-founder Samantha Kempe - Want to know what IMMO does? IMMO CIO and co-founder Samantha Kempe does a terrific job on this 24-minute podcast outlining the "why, how, what" of their business. Read more

Industry News

Restaurant-software provider Toast prepares for IPO - Toast is planning an initial publicoffering that could value the restaurant-software provider at around $20b. In going public, Toast, a 10-year-old company whose valuation has leapt several fold in the past year, would join a red-hot IPO market fueled lately by the high-profile debuts of companies including Affirm and Bumble. Read more

Zillow’s price estimates are now cash offers in homebuying push - For more than 500,000 properties across 20 markets in the U.S., Zillow has added language on its websites and apps inviting owners to “sell to Zillow for your Zestimate.” When an offer is accepted, Zillow sends an inspector to make sure its information on the home is accurate, then pays cash for the property, makes light repairs, and puts it back on the market. Read more

Stripe adds former Bank of England governor Mark Carney to board - Carney, who has worked as the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action, will help Stripe with his experience in global financial systems and governance. In addition, Stripe is also debuting climate change efforts globally, helping “millions of businesses” to bring more funding to emerging carbon removal techniques, the release stated, and Carney will bring his assistance in sustainable finance. Read more

Coinbase files for direct listing after revenue more than doubles in 2020 - According to the S-1 filing, Coinbase had net revenue of $1.14b in 2020, up from $483m the previous year, and net income of $322m for the year after posting a loss in 2019. The company also said it has 43m verified users as of the end of 2020, with 2.8m making monthly transactions. Read more

FinTech startup Brex applies for bank charter - Brex, which makes financial management software for businesses, announced it has filed to open an industrial bank in Utah, according to a press release. Industrial banks are distinct from other forms of banks in the U.S. in that they don’t need to be owned by bank holding companies. Read more

The Padres owe Fernando Tatís Jr. $340m; he owes an investment fund millions from his payday - Fernando Tatís Jr. was 18 years old, just a low-level prospect from the Dominican Republic trying to work his way up in the San Diego Padres farm system, when he made a financial deal that would impact his entire baseball career. And it wasn’t with the Padres. Tatís signed a contract with Big League Advance, an unusual investment fund that pays minor-league players money up front in exchange for a share of their future MLB earnings. Read more

The Fed’s system that allows banks to send money back and forth went down for several hours - The “operational error,” as the Fed described it, impacted multiple services, including its pivotal automated clearinghouse system, which connects depository and related institutions sending electronic credit and debt transfers. There were no initial indications that foul play was suspected. Read more

Fintech firm Apex Clearing agrees to go public via SPAC - Apex Clearing Corp., a financial technologies firm that focuses on securities custody and clearing, has agreed to go public through a merger with the blank-check company Northern Star Investment Corp. II. The transaction, which could be announced as early as Monday, will be valued at $4.7b. The special purpose acquisition company was started by Jonathan Ledecky, co-owner of the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders. Read more

Stripe, Afterpay join forces to expand BNPL to more merchants - The plan is to spread Afterpay services to Stripe merchants via an "easy and seamless integration," according to a press release. The companies said that “businesses on Stripe can start accepting Afterpay in minutes — there's no application, onboarding or underwriting process to get started.” The partnership will give shoppers the option to spread out their payments over four installments, without having to take out a traditional loan or pay any upfront fees or interest. Read more

Covid-19 shopping makes card fees a bigger burden for merchants - Visa and Mastercard are planning to raise swipe fees for some types of credit-card purchases in April, adding to the squeeze felt by restaurants, retailers, and other merchants already struggling through the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more

Square buys $170m worth of bitcoin - The company said it purchased approximately 3,318 bitcoins, expanding on its October 2020 buy of 4,709. Square said it represents about 5% of the company’s total assets as of the end of 2020. Read more

UK plans fintech visa fast-track scheme - UK chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to unveil a fast-track fintech visa to attract top tech talent to post-Brexit Britain. Read more

Klarna may opt for direct listing as private funding looms - The “buy now, pay later” firm completed a $650m funding round in September from a group of investors led by Silver Lake that valued it at $11b. The banking sources, and another source familiar with the company, said it was finalizing another private funding round to raise at least $500m that could be completed within days. Read more

China regulator finalizes guidelines on banks' internet loan businesses - China’s bank regulator tightened requirements on the internet loan business of commercial banks, amid heightened scrutiny of online lending by internet giants such as Ant Group. Commercial banks must jointly contribute funds to issue internet loans with a partner, and the proportion of capital from the partner in a loan should not be less than 30%, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said in a notice. Read more

Lightspeed partners with dLocal to power payments for independent merchants in Mexico - The partnership between the global commerce leader and emerging market financial technology unicorn provides reliable payment technology tailored to specific needs of Mexican SMBs. Read more

Intuit sues Visa and Mastercard over 'price fixing' - Intuit has filed a federal lawsuit against Mastercard and Visa over 'unlawful' price fixing in interchange and card scheme fee structures. Read more

Open banking in LatAm: State of play - Open banking is perhaps the most significant regulatory change in the history of Latin American banking, promising to boost competition and open the door to new technology players. While the trend in favor of data sharing agreements is clear, each country is adopting the rules to fit their own ecosystem. Read more

Mortgage companies want in on the IPO boom. Investors aren’t convinced - Last year was a banner season for the IPO market in general and public offerings for mortgage companies in particular. Between July and December, eight of the 30 largest U.S. mortgage lenders announced plans to go public. It hasn’t worked out quite the way all the companies were hoping. Read more

Select Financings

Ageras - Copenhagen based accounting software and marketplace startup raised $73m in new funding from Lugard Road Capital. Read more

Anchorage - San Francisco based digital asset custodian and banking company raised $80m in Series C funding led by GIC. Read more

Borrowell - Toronto based fintech and credit education startup raised $25m in Series C funding from Kensington Capital Partners, BDC Capital, iA Financial Group, Impact Engine and insiders Portag3 Ventures, White Star Capital, National Bank of Canada and Equitable Bank. Read more

Earnix - Israel based developer of predictive customer analytics software for financial institutions raised $75m in growth funding led by Insight Partners. Read more

EarnUp - San Francisco based platform for financially challenged homeowners raised $25m in Series B funding led by Bain Capital Ventures. Read more

EquityBee - Palo Alto based stock option financing marketplace raised $20m in Series A funding led by Group 11. Read more

First Boulevard - Kansas based digitally native neobank focused on Black America raised $5m in Seed funding led by Barclays and Anthemis. Read more

FundGuard - New York and Tel Aviv based AI-powered investment management SaaS startup raised $12m in Series A funding led by Team8, Blumberg Capital and LionBird Ventures. Read more

Fundtastic - Indonesia based retail investing platform raised $7.7m in Series A funding led by Ascend Capital Group. Read more

Koffie Labs - Brooklyn based insurtech startup focused on the trucking market raised $4.5m in Seed funding led by Anthemis Group and Lerer Hippeau. Read more

Optimism - New York based Ethereum scaling solution raised $25m in Series A funding led by a16z. Read more

PureStream Trading - New York based alternative trading system raised $14m in Series A funding from Nasdaq Ventures, Goldman Sachs, BMO Financial Group, BofA, AllianceBernstein and MaC VC. Read more

RecargaPay - Miami based payments platform focused on Brazil raised $70m in Series C funding led by IDC Ventures and Fuel Venture Capital. Read more

Stitch - South Africa based fintech API startup raised $4m in Seed funding led by Firstminute Capital and The Raba Partnership. Read more

Stori - Mexico based credit card startup raised $32.5m in Series B funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Read more

TreeCard - UK based credit card startup raised $5m in Seed funding led by EQT Ventures. Read more

TymeBank - South Africa based digital bank raised $109m in new funding from Apis Partners and JG Summit Holdings. Read more


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