Hi all, Julie here. I had a great time participating in events for Public, Ladies Get Paid, Wharton Fintech, Treasury Prime, Collision and Barclays’ Rise this week! Definitely ready to chill out this weekend but so honored to have been a part of all of these panels.
If you’re looking for a good podcast to listen to over the weekend, our recent Tux Time with Wiza Jalakasi of Chipper Cash is now our most popular episode to date. Is there anyone else in Africa you’d like us to interview? Let me know!
Oh, and don't forget to fill out this survey for a chance to win FTT swag!
Wirecard Employees Removed Cash Via Garbage Bags
This story is so, so wild. The Financial Times is reporting that Wirecard employees hauled millions of euros in cash out of comapny headquarters in plastic bags over SEVERAL YEARS. In case you missed it, the massive fintech went bust last summer through accounting fraud. The money bag practice started as early as 2012, and amounts totalling more than €100,000 were often moved in Aldi and Lidl plastic bags. The total amount, the current whereabouts of the cash and the purpose of removing it from the building are unclear.
Someone please make a podcast, movie and/or book about this.
Checkout Leads Funding Round For Early Stage Saudi Fintech
Checkout.com, one of Europe’s largest startups with a $15B valuation, is leading a $110M round(both debt and equity) in Saudi payments firm Tamara. Founded only a year ago, the startup offers its customers the chance to pay for their online purchases after 30 days or with a Buy Now Pay Later model. Tamara raised $6M in seed funding at the start of this year and is predominantly active in Saudi Arabia and the neighboring UAE.
In even more BNPL news, Uplift announced a new partnership with Southwest Airlines.Southwest customers can now book their flights to more than 100 U.S. and international destinations while using Uplift's flexible payment options to pay over time. Ummm, I love this. Flights, hotels, etc are all an area that I’d love to be able to pay for in installments.
Affirm Makes An Acquisition
Affirm announced plans to buy startup Returnly this week for about $300M. The move would help Max Levchin’s Buy Now Pay Later company improve the online return and refund process. According to the press release, Returnly currently works with more than 1,800 merchants and has processed over $1B in returns. The company allows consumers to receive an instant merchant credit upon initiating a return, allowing them to order a new or replacement item immediately. That $1B has a lot of room to grow with how much consumers are returning these days. One study estimated that U.S. consumers returned $428B in merchandise to retailers in 2020. Obviously the pandemic made that much higher than it would have been otherwise, but you get the point. This could end up being a nice selling point for Affirm when it’s trying to get retailers to use it vs one of its competitors.
Rapyd’s Rapid Funding
London based payment startup Rapyd is reportedly raising funding in a round that would double its valuation to more than $5B a mere 4 months after announcing its last fundraising. Founded in 2016, Rapyd helps businesses embed financial services into their own apps. As of January, it counted 5,000 customers including multinational companies such as Uber and Ikea. It’s revenue comes from transaction fees, and recent reports say it processed nearly $2B in transactions in the fourth quarter. In January, Rapyd said it had raised $300M at a $2.5B valuation from firms including Coatue Management and Tiger Global. Of course, companies often announce funding rounds at weird times, so Rapyd might have closed it months before actually announcing it….or it might have announced it right away.
Venmo Adds Crypto
PayPal started rolling out the ability for Venmo customers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies this week. For now, Venmo is allowing customers to trade in just four types of cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. After adding the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency to its PayPal app, the company saw customers who used the feature begin signing into the app at twice the rate they previously did. In one survey of 2,200 Venmo users, the company found that almost a third of customers have already started purchasing cryptocurrencies or stocks.
Speaking of crypto, WeWork is going to start accepting crypto as a form of payment and hold crypto on its balance sheet (much like Tesla recently announced).
Today's Partner, Laika
Keeping up with growing information security regulations is tough, especially in fintech. With new updates and stricter laws governing data use, it’s important to know which frameworks companies need to be compliant with.
Compliance frameworks weren’t meant to be understood by busy startup founders or entrepreneurs (just look at the AICPA guide for SOC 2, it’s a nightmare). It’s not exactly bedtime reading.
Laika, an end-to-end compliance platform, cuts through vague and verbose legalese to help companies choose the right compliance framework. They built a short (less than 5 minutes!)
quiz to help you understand which regulations apply to your business. Complete it and you’ll receive a personalized compliance recommendation from their team of experts.
Three job postings today from both large and small companies in our space:
- Product Marketing Lead, Cash App: Cash App is hatching a Product Marketing function and looking for a seasoned Product Marketing Lead to build and scale the team. This team will be responsible for crafting and executing on scalable and measurable go-to-market strategies and campaigns for Cash App’s growing portfolio of financial products and services. Cash App is consistently among the Top Finance Apps in the US and is focused on making money more relatable, instantly available, and universally accessible for everyone. Apply today!
- Business Development at Mercury: Mercury is building a bank for startups. This turns out to be a pretty wild endeavor, so it’s looking to bring someone smart onto the business development team to help it out. You’ll pitch startup founders on using Mercury to run their companies. You’ll have to understand their products and needs deeply and know Mercury’s own product in great detail; banks have a lot of moving pieces, so this is harder than it might seem. You’ll get cozy in the startup ecosystem and figure out how it can help its users build great businesses. You’ll also take feedback and push our product forward, and figure out how to build things that will sell before the market even knows to ask for it. If this sounds like you, click the link above!
- Marketing and Community Manager at Avenify: Avenify is building better financial and career services for nurses, starting with student financing. It makes it easy for nurses to pay for school and to get a job once they graduate. The team is looking for a Marketing and Community Manager to grow its community, define and execute on its acquisition strategy, and own the relationship with its Members. An ideal candidate is an exceptional individual with experience in building communities and consumer brands, from brand ambassadorships, to newsletters, to social campaigns. It’s an early-stage startup, which means you'll be the first marketer, and among the first employees. You'll work closely with the founders, but this will be a high-autonomy role. You'll have the opportunity to shape the culture, innovate on new products, and build a category-defining company.
We love to see companies in our community promoting women, hence why we were excited to see Lemonade add two females to its board. Congrats to Irina Novoselsky of CareerBuilder and Silvija Martincevic of Affirm!
FTT Expert Jenny Johnston joined Modern Treasury a couple of months ago, and the startup recently passed $1B in monthly volume, up from $100M in August of last year. For those that don’t know much about the company, it is a payment operations software startup for business payments (an industry where soooo much is still done via paper checks). Congrats to Jenny and the rest of the Modern Treasury team!