Washington Warms Up To Crypto


Dec 18, 2021



Dec 18, 2021



Washington is warming up to crypto and the opportunity for the tech to transform both finance and the internet itself. This month, a pair of US congressional hearings highlighted a noticeable sentiment shift on the Hill towards the asset class: The House seeked to better understand the far reaching impact of the digital asset ecosystem, while the Senate unpacked the state of the burgeoning stablecoin market.

In an opening statement by ranking member McHenry to the House committee, the congressman noted that “2021 was the year of cryptocurrency,” with terms such as DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, and web3 becoming part of the common lexicon this year. The message was indicative of the far reaching interest brought to the 5 hour, fully-attended committee hearing with panelists representing some of the largest crypto industry participants in the US.

In rare form, there was bipartisan support for both learning more about the positives of crypto and the desire for regulation of the stablecoin market. In 2021 to-date, more than $5.6t worth of volume has been transacted with stablecoins through public blockchain networks, more than +5x growth from 2020. Rightfully so, many congressional leaders in both the House and Senate want to ensure adequate consumer protections and financial stability are maintained on this rapidly evolving payment innovation.

While congressional consensus on the specifics of how and who should regulate stablecoins, DeFi, DAOs, and digital assets still remain very much open questions that likely won’t be solved soon, this month’s hearings demonstrated yet another coming of age moment for the young asset class — and an important step towards prudent policy discussions in the years to come.

Portfolio News

NYDIG announces $1b funding round - Huge congratulations to NYDIG on the announcement of their most recent growth equity funding round, which will value the company at more than $7b. The round was led by WestCap, with participation from prior leads Bessemer Venture Partners and FinTech Collective, as well as strategic partners and existing investors Affirm, FIS, Fiserv, MassMutual, Morgan Stanley, and New York Life. The capital will be used to further develop NYDIG's institutional-grade Bitcoin platform using recent upgrades to the Bitcoin protocol with capabilities such as Bitcoin and Lightning payments, asset tokenization, and smart contracts. Read more

Brazilian consumer credit startup Open Co raises $115m in SoftBank-led round - Open Co was created earlier this year by the merger of Geru, an eight-year-old online lender, and FTC portfolio company Rebel, a four-year-old startup using AI and bank account data to underwrite risk and assess clients’ financial health. Combining the results of its two predecessors, Open Co says it has helped consumers save more than $500m in interest expenses over the years and has been increasingly establishing partnerships with merchants, retailers and service providers to be closer to its clients’ point of need when requesting credit. Read more

MoneyLion to acquire Even Financial - The acquisition strengthens MoneyLion’s platform by improving consumers’ abilities to find and access the right financial products to help them manage their financial lives. Even’s growing network includes over 400 financial institution partners, covering a breadth of financial services including loans, credit cards, mortgages, savings, and insurance products. The acquisition also expands MoneyLion’s addressable market, extends the reach of its own products, diversifies its revenue mix, and furthers MoneyLion’s ambition to be the premier financial super app for hardworking Americans. Read more

Flutterwave taps Wizkid as Global Brand Ambassador to launch new remittance solution, Send - By partnering with Grammy Award-winning international artist, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid, Send aims to reach the global African diaspora to increase awareness of the affordable and seamless remittance service available to them through Flutterwave's infrastructure. Read more

Octane teams up with Polaris to drive digital, instant financing for powersports enthusiasts - Through the partnership, which is effective January 1, 2022, Polaris customers and dealers can take advantage of Octane's fast and easy digital lending experience to finance Polaris Sportsman, RANGER, RZR, & GENERAL off-road vehicles, Polaris snowmobiles, Indian Motorcycle, and Slingshot vehicles. Read more

Washington Warms Up To Crypto

Crypto executives defend industry as congress considers oversight - The executives argued that cryptocurrencies don’t fit neatly within the existing structure of U.S. financial regulations and that lawmakers should consider tailor-made legislation for their industry. Critics say the industry wants to write its own rules to avoid the oversight that banks, brokers and stock exchanges face. Read more

Partisan split over stablecoins highlighted at banking hearing - Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren expressed concern that the “talk” around stablecoins doesn’t match up to reality, noting that the value of cryptocurrencies like Tether can fluctuate even if they’re supposed to be pegged one-to-one to the dollar. However, others like Senator Pat Toomey, the top Republican on the Banking Committee, remarked on the potential for stablecoins to increase the speed of payments and lower costs. Read more

Industry News

Facebook owner is behind $60m deal for Meta name rights - Meta Platforms will acquire the trademark assets of U.S. regional bank Meta Financial Group, spokespeople for the companies said this week. The deal underscores how valuable the Meta name has become for the technology giant, which is betting that its focus on the metaverse - shared digital spaces accessed via the internet through an array of devices - will pay off handsomely in the coming years. Read more

HSBC and Wells Fargo to settle currency trades with blockchain - The two banks will use blockchain technology to reconcile and pay out on deals in dollars, sterling, euro and Canadian dollars between them, using HSBC’s FX Everywhere platform. The agreement means they will bypass CLS, the nearly two-decades-old utility that central banks urge market participants to use to neutralize the risk of certain trade failures. Read more

A baseball star in the ‘shark tank’: inside JPMorgan’s client poaching row - Joining from Merrill, a division within Bank of America, Campbell was based out of San Francisco and brought with her almost $1.4b in client assets and loans, including hundreds of millions of dollars from Alex Rodriguez. Just over a year since joining JPMorgan, however, things have soured. Read more

Nike acquires NFT collectibles studio RTFKT - The acquisition announcement comes at an opportune time for the studio; RTFKT is currently behind one of the most talked-about NFT project drops of the month — a sweeping avatar partnership with artist Takashi Murakami called CloneX. Since its initial drop less than three weeks ago, the project has already seen nearly $65m in transaction volume. Read more

Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think that members of Congress should be banned from trading stocks - “This is a free market, we are a free market economy, they should be able to participate in that," Pelosi said. It is not illegal for members of Congress to trade stocks. But Pelosi was responding to a question from Insider, which released an investigation on Monday revealing that 49 members of Congress and 182 congressional staffers were late to disclose personal stock trades, which is a violation of federal conflict-of-interest laws. Read more

Zero taxes, golf and beach houses create a crypto island paradise - After a meteoric year, investors are relocating to Puerto Rico for its savings on individual and corporate taxes. The presence of digital currency enthusiasts is already palpable on the small island, where chance encounters and networking opportunities abound: Run-ins at taco stands; spontaneous drinks and dinner at luxury condos; “Crypto Mondays” gatherings at hotels and restaurants across San Juan. Read more

Business has a new favorite buzzword - Mentions of the word “journey” by S&P 500 executives on conference calls this year have soared almost 70% to 3,091, making it one of the fastest-growing corporate buzzwords in recent memory. The term was rarely used before -- in fact, just once in 2001 -- but it’s now used to describe practically any kind of business goal, even if it’s totally mundane. Read more

$300,000 Bored Ape NFT sold for $3,000 because of misplaced decimal point - The NFT’s owner Max, who listed the NFT for sale this past weekend, had meant to price the NFT at 75 ether (around $300,000) but accidentally typed 0.75 ether instead (roughly $3,000). Before they could correct the mistake, the NFT had been snapped up, apparently by a bot programmed to find and buy undervalued listings. Read more

The rise of legal insider trading - Big-dollar insider stock sales are increasingly common, with no fewer than 82 different corporate insiders selling more than $100m of stock in 2021. That's up from just 32 in 2019. As a result, the SEC wants to make it much harder for insiders to take advantage of provisions surrounding stock sales that effectively make insider-trading prosecutions impossible. Read more

Nium launches virtual card issuing solution for the United States travel industry - Virtual card issuance capabilities allow travel-related businesses to optimize supplier payments and better manage cash flow. Read more

PayPal, Affirm scrutinized over ‘buy now, pay later’ by CFPB - PayPal, Affirm and Afterpay Ltd. are among several companies being scrutinized by U.S. regulators over their policies of letting consumers buy products now, while paying for them later. Read more

Banque de France demos ledger interoperability in CBDC trials - The Banque de France has completed the last of its interbank settlement in CBDC experiments, demonstrating the possibility of direct ledger interoperability in a hybrid cloud environment across multiple technologies and asset classes. Read more

Chime rolls out cash deposits at Walgreens - This service is available at more than 8,500 Walgreens at no fee. The company noted that 78% of Americans live near a Walgreens location. Read more

34% of UK finance businesses are now making crypto payments - Mercuryo - According to new research by global payment network, Mercuryo, over one third of UK finance businesses are now using blockchain to facilitate payments, as demand for innovation soars. Read more

H&R Block sues Block, formerly Square, over new name - Tax preparation company H&R Block Inc on Thursday sued payment company Block Inc, previously called Square Inc, saying the new name infringed its trademarks. Read more

Select Financings

Anchorage Digital - San Francisco based company providing digital assets custody and management for institutions raised $350m in Series D funding led by KKR. Read more

Arquivei - Brazil based tax document management company raised $48m in Series B funding led by Riverwood Capital. Read more

Aztec Network - UK based Ethereum privacy startup raised $17m in Series A funding led by Paradigm. Read more

BHub - Brazil based provider of back-office SaaS for Latin American SMEs raised $20m in Series A funding led by Monashees and Valor Capital Group. Read more

Bumper - UK based car repair financing platform raised $12m in Series A funding led by Autotech Ventures. Read more

Clikalia - Madrid based digital real estate platform for home buying and selling raised $518.5m in Series B funding led by FifthWall. Read more

Conta Simples - Brazil based financial platform for business accounts, corporate cards, and spend management software to digital businesses raised $24m in Series A funding led by JAM Fund and Valor Capital. Read more

CreditBook - Pakistan based financial management platform for merchants raised $11m in Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Factor - San Francisco based payments and order management platform for the global supply chain raised $6m in Seed funding led by Gradient Ventures. Read more

Fuse - Indonesia based business-to-agent insure-tech startup raised $25m in new Series B funding from insiders East Ventures, GGV Capital, eWTP and Emtek. Read more

Juspay - Bengaluru based payments technology startup raised $60m in Series C funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Read more

Ledn - Toronto based crypto lending company raised $70m in Series B funding led by 10T Holdings. Read more

Mesh Payments - New York based automated corporate payment and spend management platform raised $50m in Series B funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Palm NFT Studio - Delaware based NFT ecosystem raised $27m in Series B funding led by M12. Read more

Papaya - Los Angeles based mobile bill payment startup raised $50m in Series B funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Read more

Proxymity - London based investor communications platform connecting issuers, intermediaries, and investors, raised $31m in Series B funding from investors including BNY Mellon, Citi, Computershare, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Börse, J.P. Morgan, and State Street. Read more

Ramp - UK based crypto infrastructure company raised a $53m in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital. Read more

Re:cap - Germany based revenue-based financing platform raised $111.5m in Seed funding from Felix Capital and Project A Ventures. Read more

Silverflow - Amsterdam based payment processing startup raised $17m in Series A funding led by Coatue. Read more

Staircase - Philadelphia based digital infrastructure company for the mortgage industry raised $18m in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Read more

Stocktwits - New York based social platform for investors and traders raised $30m in Series B funding led by Alameda Research Ventures. Read more

Taxdoo - Germany based provider of financial tools for e-commerce companies raised $64m in Series B funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Uni - Bengaluru based pay-later service provider raised $70m in Series A funding led by General Catalyst. Read more


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