Hi all, Julie here.
Our first Crypto Tonight newsletter went out (twice) yesterday thanks to my fat fingers lol. Sign up here if you haven’t yet, and I promise I won’t make a habit of sending newsletters twice in one day (unless you’re subscribed to both FTT and Crypto Tonight...then you might sometimes).
Today's Partner, Masterworks
Where to Invest $100,000 Right Now? Ask the Experts
Investors face a dilemma. The global pandemic has completely disrupted markets. Nearly every firm from Goldman to BlackRock is projecting equity returns of less than 5% until 2035. And, bond yields can’t keep up with inflation. Finding promising investments is harder than ever.
Recently, Bloomberg asked investment experts where they’d personally invest $100,000 right now. And, they urged investors to diversify with alternatives like art.
These numbers explain why:
- Contemporary art prices have appreciated 14% annually on average (1995-2020).
- Billionaire collectors allocate 10–30% of their portfolios to art.
- Lowest correlation to public equities of any major asset class, according to Citi.
Now, you can add art to your portfolio with Masterworks.io—the first and only tech platform that lets you invest in iconic paintings without needing millions. By securitizing works by artists like Warhol, Banksy, and Basquiat, everyone can be a bona fide art investor.
They just raised $110M at over a $1B valuation, so their future looks bright.
Unlock this $1.7T asset class and skip their waitlist with this FTT link today*
Spotify x Shopify
Spotify and Shopify have some news. The two announced that they are now partnering to allow artists on Spotify to connect their profiles with their Shopify stores, allowing them to market their merchandise directly to fans through the Spotify app. It’s another example of the trend of artists and other creators getting more power to connect directly with their audience and have control over revenue. With this new partnership, fans will be able to browse artists’ products and make purchases. The other big example of this that y’all might remember is Square buying Tidal.
Alloy Gets Into Underwriting
Our friends at Alloy are getting into credit underwriting, with FTT Expert Charley Ma putting in a lot of work on this project. The goal will be to build comprehensive views of customers in line with Alloy’s onboarding and transaction monitoring products, which should help prevent good customers from getting rejected by leveraging accessible data. Alloy’s API allows financial institutions to collate customer information, credit bureau data and other alternative underwriting data such as cash flow data through a single point of integration and make smarter risk decisions. Charley is writing more about this for us tomorrow :)
Funding and Deals
PayPal Might Buy Pinterest
Based on what I’m hearing in our Fintech Today Slack Community, PayPal is trying to locate a true discovery platform for its commerce push. Potentially buying Pinterest would be a move towards that end-goal. According to Bloomberg (hi guys), PayPal has recently approached Pinterest about a potential deal that would value Pinterest at roughly $39B. PayPal is great at the checkout, Pinterest is having trouble with that (but is great at discovery). It's going to be interesting to see this play out IF it does end up happening.
Amazon Makes A LatAm Investment
São Paulo-based infrastructure startup Pismo announced it has raised $108M in a funding round co-led by SoftBank, e-commerce giant Amazon and Silicon Valley-based venture firm Accel. Founded in 2016, Pismo has customers including Banco Itaú (one of Brazil’s largest banks), BTG, Cora, N26 and Falabella. Some numbers: it handles more than 4B API calls monthly, hosts more than 30M accounts, and has over $3.5B in transaction volume a month. It ended 2020 with less than 10M accounts total. Pismo mostly makes money by charging transaction fees. It charges per active account, so prices decrease based on volume (more clients=the less a customer pays per account). It plans to use the new funding to expand beyond LatAm as well as to develop more technologies for banking, payments and financial markets infrastructure. Apparently it's getting ready to open an office in Austin too, so we’ll be neighbors ;)
Stripe’s Latest Acquisition
Stripe is acquiring Indian fintech Recko, which uses APIs to help businesses track and automate payments reconciliation, to expand the services it offers alongside its core payments product. Since it was founded in 2017 Recko has been seeing a lot of traction internationally with Deliveroo, Meesho and PharmEasy among its wider list of customers. Stripe will begin integrating Recko into its wider payments stack, but existing Recko users will be able to continue using it as before. The acquisition is merely the latest move from Stripe to build out its offerings to increase its share of revenue and make it extremely hard for customers to leave and go somewhere else. Earlier this year, Stripe acquired Bouncer to integrate card authentication, TaxJar to bring in automatic sales tax tools, as well as international acquisitions including Paystack in Nigeria and Touchtech in Ireland.
Primer Raises A New Round
Sticking with the payments trend, UK based Primer announced a $50M round at a $425M valuation led by ICONIQ Growth. Primer helps merchants easily build payment stacks to sell online and it currently works across more than 20 countries and has some 45 integrations that its merchant users can add to their payment flows. These range from payment providers like Stripe, Apple Pay, Adyen and Braintree, to fraud screening from Riskified, sales tax calculations from TaxJar and more. When a user creates a payment workflow, Primer creates a separate line of code that developers can use to integrate what’s been built on Primer. The company’s CEO told TechCrunch that the team is building a whole suite of products in the next 12-months to help merchants with operations and the observability of the payments stack.
Facebook’s Digital Wallet
Well, the Facebook name change news definitely overshadowed this, but the company’s digital wallet (Novi) is being rolled out in a small pilot in the US and Guatemala. This will let users send and receive money “instantly, securely, and with no fees” using the Paxos stablecoin, in partnership with Coinbase. The face of the project, David Marcus, said one hope for the pilot is to demonstrate a viable use of stablecoins for payments. One big thing missing: the Facebook-backed Diem cryptocurrency that was meant to be the cornerstone of the project, which is still facing regulatory approval.
Coinbase x Sports
The NBA agreed to its first cryptocurrency sponsorship deal with Coinbase, with the crypto firm hoping that it can increase awareness around blockchain technology. Coinbase will get exposure from Tuesday’s regular-season tip-off games and will have presenting partner rights for the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup and the USA Basketball men’s and women’s national team exhibition tours. NBA clubs have already leveraged crypto-related deals, including the Portland Trail Blazers’ jersey patch and Miami Heat arena naming rights, which you can read more about here. This feels like only the beginning for sports and crypto.
The Messed Up, NFT Version of Disney
First of all, let me preface this by saying I did not make this up. Superplastic, which created a stable of violent and fashion-forward cartoon characters, announced a new $20M funding round to build out an imagined virtual world of cartoon influencers, or as founder Paul Budnitz puts it “a fucked up Disney.” Investors include Google Ventures, Index Ventures, Founders Fund, Galaxy Digital, Mantis VC/The Chainsmokers and more. The company owns an animated collab house of “synthetic superstars” and has already racked up millions of followers across Instagram and TikTok, sold millions in NFTs and built up an active Discord community known as the Jankyverse. Earlier this year, Superplastic even partnered with Christie’s for an NFT drop. Unlike others taking advantage of the NFT craze, Superplastic is looking to expand beyond the metaverse and is cashing in on toy sales, apparel and licensing, including collaborations with Epic Games and Gucci. The company also plans to open retail shops in New York and Miami early next year to tie its digital collectibles to exclusive IRL experiences like secret areas just for NFT holders in-store.
Together With Fintech Meetup
Why are leading fintechs, banks, networks, investors and others joining Fintech Meetup? Simple--they know it is the easiest and most efficient way to find new solutions, partners and customers! They don’t have speakers and content so they can focus 100% on facilitating double opt-in, 1-1 speed date meetings (30,000+ of them, actually).
- Fintechs including Akoya, Alliance Data, Alloy, Alviere, Argyle, Autobooks, Azimuth, Botdoc, Certa, Checkout.com, Dave, FISPAN, MANTL, Nuance, Nymbus, PPRO, Ripple, Signal Intent, Sila, Socure, Synctera, Urban FT (to name just a few!)
- Banks including Bank of America, Citi, Federal Reserve, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, Santander, Wells Fargo & more
- Networks including American Express, Discover, Mastercard & Visa
- Investors including Bain Capital, General Atlantic, Mosaik Partners, Next Level, Point 72, Vestigo & more
- Plus Credit Unions, CUSOs, Community Banks, Tech Cos and more!
Online, March 22-24. Qualifying Startups get special startup rate tickets, qualifying Banks & Credit Unions eligible for FREE tickets. Get your ticket!
We love highlighting roles at up and coming companies. Today, we’re bringing you two opportunities to be a member of the team at an early stage startup out of YC, Brick. Co-founded by our friend, Chapman Snowden, join the team and help build a financial toolset that helps general contractors grow their business.