Hi all, Julie here.
Just got done recording a new podcast episode with Christina Riechers, Square Banking’s Head of Product, to talk about the new small business banking products the team launched this week. The episode will be out tomorrow AM, definitely check it out! In the meantime, there’s another new episode out talking about the mortgage process with our producer, who also just bought a new home like Jordan and I did! Find out how fintech did and did not help with that process.
Today's Partner, Unit21
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Wise’s First Earnings Report
Following its listing on the London Stock Exchange last month, Wise posted first-quarter revenue gains of £123.5M, up 43% over the same period last year. Other notable stats: it processed £16.4B in cross-border payments (increase of 54% year on year) and it has 3.7M customers moving money on its platform (28% growth in customers and a 56% increase in business users).
Interactive Brokers Earnings
We don’t usually talk about Interactive Brokers’ earnings on here, but its latest numbers paint a positive picture for Robinhood’s debut. Customer accounts increased 61% from the year-ago quarter, customer equity grew 79% from the year-ago quarter to $363.5B. Who’s tuning in to Robinhood’s roadshow on Saturday?
Buy Now Pay Later startup from down under, Afterpay, is further expanding beyond payments. A new “Money app” will allow customers to see their total BNPL balance along with a spending and savings account. Good way to keep customers coming back to the company on a more active basis, as well as potentially attract a new set of customers.
Funding and Deals
A New Consortium
Nasdaq, SVB, Citi, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley are working together to offer more ways for people to trade private company stock. Kinda surprising it took this long given how long this has been an issue for. Other platforms like Carta offer similar capabilities, but there’s definitely room for more than one winner here. Far more companies are private than public at this point, so…
SoftBank Backs Ethos
Two months (not a typo) after announcing a $200M round and $2B valuation, Ethos Life is announcing an additional $100M raise that values it at $2.7B from SoftBank. The company has been focusing on women and middle class families for its life insurance policies. It says over 40% of new policyholders in the first half of 2021 had incomes of $60K or less, and almost 40% of new policyholders were under the age of 40. Since the start of 2021, the top five occupations held by new policy owners are homemaker, insurance agent, business owner, teacher, and registered nurse. Not the type of stats you usually see in a press release, but I’m here for it.
Dwolla Raises $21M
Payments platform Dwolla announced a $21M round led by Foundry Group. The company, which works in B2B payments, plans to use the money to expand internationally, secure more partnerships and build new products for real time payments. Dwolla said it’s seen an 80% increase in transaction volume since the beginning of the pandemic, trending to exceed $30 billion in 2021.
Valuations Bolt Faster Than Ever
If someone can explain new valuations like the one Bolt is raising to me, I’m all ears.
Titan’s New Round
I’ve heard very good things about Titan and its growth, so I can get behind this round and valuation. The startup announced a $58M round led by Andreessen, valuing Titan at $450M, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It’s meant to be the everyday American’s answer to a more actively managed platform like BlackRock for high net worth individuals. The company told Bloomberg that AUM grew sixfold in the 12 months ended June 30 and is set to cross $1B this year. The new capital will be used to build out its tech stack and expand into new products (it’s launching a crypto fund later this year).
Vestwell, a B2B company that helps companies build out retirement plans, raised $70M from Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. I happen to love my 401k provider since I was able to move my retirement accounts into Betterment after leaving Bloomberg, but most people find them super confusing. Not to mention, if you’re a small business that wants to offer some sort of retirement offering, it’s not the easiest thing to implement. I need to dive more into how Vestwell is differentiated from others in this space, but I am definitely bullish on retirement account innovation.
New Jersey Doesn’t Like DeFi
The New Jersey Attorney General sent a cease and desist to BlockFi, in particular about not being clear that yield farming is not FDIC insured and principal is at risk. From the story:
“The undated, unpublished draft contends that BlockFi, has been funding and facilitating its cryptocurrency lending and trading operations at least partly through the sale of unregistered securities in alleged violation of relevant securities laws. The New Jersey-based firm offers interest rates between 0.25% and 8.5% depending on the crypto asset and deposit size, in addition to a trading platform and bitcoin rewards credit card. In comparison, according to the FDIC the national average for interest in savings accounts is 0.06%, while 10-year treasury notes yield 1.19%. The draft statement goes on to highlight how decentralized finance platforms, known in the industry as DeFi, do not offer FDIC or SIPC insurance like traditional banks and brokerages. However, while BlockFi offers similar savings and lending platforms to those that operate on top of decentralized ledgers, such as Uniswap or Compound, it is a centralized company.”
This could have big implications.
FTX is worth how much?!
Antigua based crypto exchange FTX just raised a $900M Series B round valuing the company at a staggering $18B. This number is even more eye dropping when you realize that the company was valued at only $1.2B a year ago. In total, over 60 investors participated in the fundraise including Paradigm, Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital, Third Point, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Coinbase Ventures, Softbank, Sino Global Capital, Multicoin Capital, the Paul Tudor Jones family, VanEck, Circle and hedge funders Izzy Englander and Alan Howard. Founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who is thought to now be the world’s wealthiest crypto billionaire, stated that he plans to use the funds for acquisitions, which could include NFT platforms and other trading shops, as well as global expansion.
Together With LendIt Fintech Nexus
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If you are:
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Congrats to our friends at Treasury Prime on the new feature launch! This seems cool, so I forgive you for using the word ‘fintechs’ in your press release ;)