There’s No “Fin” Without “Tech”


Feb 13, 2021



Feb 13, 2021



In a time of rapid digital acceleration, there is no doubt that technology and innovation are crucial in both supporting as well as transforming financial markets.

As we look ahead into the remainder of the decade, several trends are worth noting. One of the greatest enablers has unquestionably been cloud-computing spearheaded by AWS, meaningfully lowering the cost and barriers for startups. In a recent report, Nasdaq underscored the potential of cloud, federated learning and homomorphic encryption in helping overcome barriers to data sharing and analysis. This can serve important causes such as fighting financial crime and improving market integrity. Similarly, it noted the acceleration of the software-as-a-service model (SaaS) in the cloud. This can help make client onboarding and product delivery both faster and cheaper.

In its annual “Big Ideas” publication, Ark Invest reminds us that some of these changes are periodic. The architecture of data centers is due for an upgrade every so often. The last great migration here was from RISC processors in the 90s to Intel’s low cost, PC derived x86 solution. Looking ahead, ARM processors will leverage the scale of the mobile ecosystem to disrupt Intel. Other changes are unprecedented, as evidenced by blockchain based infrastructure solutions.

Last week, we expressed concern on the US’s fall from Bloomberg’s ranking of top 10 most innovative countries. Technological developments are at the forefront of innovation. The US has produced roughly half of the world’s fintech unicorns, and the USD remains the main global currency, but nothing lasts forever. In other words, there’s no “fin” without “tech”....

Portfolio News

MoneyLion, America’s leading digital financial platform, to become publicly traded via merger with Fusion Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: FUSE) - Congrats to Dee Choubey and the entire MoneyLion team. This marks a major milestone in their journey and represents a big step forward in their mission to re-wire the consumer financial experience and empower millions of hard working Americans to take control of their finances. We’ve been proud to be part of the journey since 2014, and we can’t wait for what’s to come! Read more

Kasasa partners with NYDIG to provide bitcoin wallet capabilities to community financial institutions - Bitcoin’s rapid and widespread adoption has created an opportunity for community banks and credit unions to compete for market share. According to a recent consumer survey from NYDIG, more than 22% of U.S. adults over the age of 18 own Bitcoin today. Through this collaboration, Kasasa financial institutions will have the ability to offer Bitcoin products, powered by NYDIG. Read more

BottlePay lets UK users send Bitcoin to anyone on social media - Congratulations to portfolio company BottlePay, which launched in the UK yesterday, making it easier to send Bitcoin Lightning payments to people using their social media handles. The app works as a basic Bitcoin wallet, letting you store Bitcoin both on-chain and on the Lightning Network. You can also trade between GBP and Bitcoin in the app. But the app’s focus is on making it frictionless to send Bitcoin to other people via social media. Read more

There’s No “Fin” Without “Tech”

Nasdaq decodes: Tech trends 2021 - The events of 2020 demonstrate the importance of maintaining resiliency, capacity, performance, immediacy and security across our businesses. It is against this backdrop of unprecedented change and opportunity that we identify the four technology trends that we believe will have the biggest impact on our industry and outlook for the year ahead: custom chips, edge cloud, data sharing and SaaS in the cloud. Read more

ARK Invest: Big ideas report 2021 - Today, we are witnessing an acceleration in new technological breakthroughs. To enlighten investors on the impact of these breakthroughs and the opportunities they should create, ARK began publishing Big Ideas in 2017. This annual research report seeks to highlight the latest developments in innovation and offers some of our most provocative research conclusions for the coming year. Read more

Industry News

Mastercard to allow some crypto in digital asset boom - Mastercard will begin allowing cardholders to transact in certain cryptocurrencies on its network, becoming the latest company to embrace digital assets. The firm is also “actively engaging” with central banks around the world on their plans to launch new digital currencies. The company will prioritize consumer protections and compliance in its own plans, Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of digital asset and blockchain products and partnerships, said in the post. Read more

Amsterdam ousts London as Europe’s top share trading hub - Amsterdam surpassed London as Europe’s largest share trading centre last month as the Netherlands scooped up business lost by the UK since Brexit. Read more

The ‘stonks’ market caught the A.I. algorithms off guard, too - It seems savvy traders weren't the only ones surprised by the market's wild moves. It turns out the machine brains didn't see it coming either. Hedge funds that depend on artificial intelligence to make their trading decisions were also seemingly unable to figure out how to play the stonk market, contributing to a dismal start of the year for these investors. Read more

Josh Kushner’s Oscar Health files for U.S. IPO - Founded in 2012, Oscar earlier focused on selling insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The company, most recently valued at $3.2b in a 2018 funding round, now has 529,000 members and serves 291 counties in 18 states, according to the filing. The company’s plans follow the public markets success of Lemonade Inc., another New York-based, venture-backed insurer. Read more

Tesla bets big on Bitcoin, plans to accept cryptocurrency - Tesla Inc. invested $1.5b in Bitcoin and signaled its intent to begin accepting the cryptocurrency as a form of payment, sending prices to a new record after the vote of confidence from the electric-car market leader. Read more

TikTok takes on Facebook with US e-commerce push - TikTok has plans to roll out several new features, including a tool that lets its most popular users share links to products and automatically earn commission on any sales, and the ability for brands to showcase catalogues of their products on the platform. The app is also said to be rolling out “livestreamed” shopping, a mobile phone version of television shopping channels, where users can buy goods with a few taps after seeing them showcased by TikTok stars. Read more

Amazon preparing to launch a ‘digital currency’ project in Mexico - Amazon’s grip on the internet economy appears to be coming for currency next, with the e-commerce giant preparing to launch a “digital currency” project in Mexico. Read more

Biggest U.S. banks keep lending less and less of their money - Total loans at the 25 biggest U.S. banks comprise less than 46% of their combined assets, down from 54% this time last year. The figures provide a fresh reality check for an industry that’s been playing up its support for businesses and households as the Covid-19 pandemic ravages the economy. While the total amount that banks have loaned out has stagnated, the nation’s biggest lenders have rapidly expanded other parts of their businesses, such as their holdings of Treasuries and government-backed mortgage securities. Read more

Ethereum futures are now trading on CME - The world’s first regulated ether futures product may draw more institutional demand for the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value, boosting the recent price rally. Ether (ETH) has more than tripled in value since the CME announced plans to list futures contracts on Dec. 16, mimicking bitcoin’s surge from $6,000 to $19,783 seen in the weeks leading up to Dec. 17, 2017, when the exchange began trading bitcoin futures. Read more

Shopify expands its checkout and payment processing system, Shop Pay, to Facebook and Instagram - Consumers will be able to use Shop Pay to complete purchases, expanding on existing options to use PayPal or manually enter credit or debit card information. All these methods are offered via the Facebook Pay payment system. Read more

Open banking in Colombia is getting ready to take off - Colombia is working on an open banking regulation expected to be ready in 2022. Regulators hope the API structure will encourage large scale incorporation of savings and credit products. Read more

Bitcoin to come to America’s oldest bank, BNY Mellon - The custody bank said it will hold, transfer and issue bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on behalf of its asset-management clients. In time, BNY Mellon will allow those digital assets to pass through the same plumbing used by managers’ other, more traditional holdings—from Treasurys to technology stocks—using a platform that is now in prototype. Read more

Hippo in talks to merge with Mark Pincus, Reid Hoffman SPAC - The transaction with Reinvent Technology Partners, a special purpose acquisition company that counts Zynga founder Mark Pincus and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman as its lead directors, is set to value the combined entity at more than $5b. Reinvent raised $690m in a September initial public offering. In anticipation of a transaction, its shares had rallied about 11% this year, giving it a market value of $1.1b. Read more

Credit Karma announces integration with TurboTax - An integration between two of Intuit’s top acquisitions will help put Credit Karma’s new U.S. checking account – Credit Karma Money Spend – in the hands of more consumers and will also provide a seamless process for getting refunds to eligible taxpayers when they file their taxes with TurboTax – and then turn those taxpayers into Credit Karma checking account holders. Read more

Goldman Sachs re-opens Marcus in UK paying 0.5% on deposits – one of the country’s highest rates at present - In June last year, Goldman had to close Marcus’ easy access savings account to new UK customers. Regulated deposit limits during the country’s first coronavirus lockdown climbed to £21b. UK banking rules stipulate retail deposits totaling more than £25b must be ring-fenced. That means the bank would have to separate these assets from the rest. Read more

Klarna launches bank accounts in Germany - Fintech startup Klarna appears to be turning its mobile app into a banking app in Germany. Customers living there can now open a consumer bank account and get a Visa debit card. Read more

Spreedly partners with Visa to accelerate network tokenization in Latin America - The organizations have launched a program to foster and grow the adoption of network tokenization via Spreedly’s Payments Orchestration solution throughout Latin America. The joint work will kick off in various countries including a project in Argentina, and soon expand across the region. Read more

Select Financings

BharatPe - India based digital payments and working capital platform for merchants raised $108m in Series D funding led by Coatue. Read more

Capitalize - New York based retirement savings platform raised $12.5m in Series A funding led by Canapi Ventures. Read more

Celo - San Francisco based mobile-focused blockchain payments startup raised $20m in new funding from a16z, Greenfield One and Electric Capital. Read more

Coterie - Cincinnati based small business insurance startup raised $11.5m in Series A-1 funding led by Intact Ventures. Read more

Fair - Houston based multilingual neobank and financial services platform raised $20m in new funding led by undisclosed investors. Read more

Human Interest - San Francisco based provider of 401(k) programs to SMBs raised $55m in Series C funding led by Glynn Capital. Read more

Ledn - Toronto based digital asset savings and credit platform raised $2.7m in new funding led by White Star’s Digital Asset Fund. Read more

Libeo - France based B2B payments platform raised €20m in Series A funding from DST Global, Serena, LocalGlobe and Breega. Read more

Marble - New York based digital wallet and loyalty platform for insurance raised $2.5m in Seed funding from IA Capital Group, MS&AD Ventures, Reciprocal Ventures, Fintech Ventures Fund, The Takoma Group and HU Investments. Read more

Mesh Payments - New York based B2B payments platform raised $13m in new funding led by TLV Partners. Read more

Northmill - Sweden based challenger bank raised $30m in new funding led by M2 Asset Management. Read more

NYMBUS - Miami based provider of banking technology solutions raised $53m in Series C funding led by Insight Partners. Read more

SoLo Funds - Los Angeles based marketplace for short-term, personal loans, raised $10m in Series A funding led by ACME Capital. Read more

Stir - San Francisco based developer of a financial management platform for writers and producers raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by a16z. Read more

Symend - Canada based digital engagement platform for resolving past due bills raised $43m in additional Series B funding led by Inovia Capital. Read more

Tickr - U.K. based investing app in the ESG space raised £2.5 million in Seed funding led by Ada Ventures. Read more

TomoCredit - San Francisco based startup with a credit card aimed at first-time borrowers raised $7m in Seed funding led by KB Investment. Read more

Trade Ledger - London based lending-as-a-service platform raised £13.5m in Series A funding led by Point72 Ventures. Read more

UpEquity - Austin based mortgage platform raised $25m in Series A funding led by Next Coast Ventures. Read more


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