Hi y’all, Cokie here.
This week I tried to lease a car.
Here is a list of things I would rather do than go through this arduous, laborious, time-consuming, soul crushing process:
Be fatally wounded by a bear.
Endure a three hour lecture from Ian on why he thinks fintech startups for creators, like Karat, are “super under the radar.”
Have a creme brûlée filled with glass
This process is, at best, ridiculous and, at worst, so horribly inefficient that it quite literally destroyed the only American manufacturing we had left.
Keeping in the week-long tradition I have established, here is your banger of the week:
I will take no comments at this time.
Anyway. Right...back to fintech. Here we go.
This week’s issue is presented by Privacy.com, a consumer and B2B fintech startup. Privacy.com recently unveiled its card issuing API for all developers recently—making it easier and simpler for non-fintech developers to start issuing their own virtual or physical debit cards. While other card issuing platforms have a ton of red tape before you can start playing around with their API, Privacy.com’s API docs are publicly available and the company has prioritized transparent pricing to find a structure that works for you. Check out Privacy.com’s new API at the link below, and if you’re interested in an intro to learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org for an intro!
Affirm partnered to exclusively power Shopify’s Shop Pay Installments in the US. If you’re a FTT+ reader, this probably isn’t new to you—Fintech Today’s Julie VerHage wrote about an Affirm-Shopify partnership back in May. If you wanna glimpse behind the paywall, here’s a link to the May article, where Julie talks to experts like Homebrew’s Satya Patel, Bain Capital Ventures’ Matt Harris, and Bessemer’s Charles Birnbaum.
It’s an interesting evolution of “embedded fintech,” a phrase you’ve probably seen on Twitter but don’t know what it means exactly. Embedded fintech is the idea of a non-fintech company adding fintech products that they can upsell to their distribution base. Shopify is a great example of a firm that’s done this well, and seemingly through partnerships instead of building out the products themselves. Affirm has a ton of experience in installment loans and Shopify has the consumer reach (40 million users since its 2017 launch) to make this deal a no brainer on both sides.
Can’t wait to watch this one on Netflix or any worthy competitor. You guessed it, the Wirecard scandal has gotten even more bizarre, now with a reported missing executive located in Russia where he is being sheltered by Russian secret service agents in the military-controlled GRU. Jan Marasalek was removed from the firm late last month and subsequently fled Germany. In the words of Toby Ziegler from The West Wing, “Ginger, get the popcorn!” Apparently, Marsalek has previously been linked in Russia - notably touting secret documents about the use of a Russian chemical weapon in the UK and sent a boatload of Bitcoin to Russia from Dubai. I cannot stress this one enough - choose your infrastructure provider with the most extreme diligence that you can muster. Your company relies on their service and, if there’s an issue, you want to make sure senior executives are working to fix that service - not getting arrested or fleeing to Russia.
Just what I needed this Friday: an incredibly important debate on whether crypto is fintech. Ranging from the philosophical, “crypto is a discipline,” to the structural, “there is a subset of crypto which is fintech, but not all crypto is fintech,” to the categorical, “Bitcoin is the first real NEW financial technology,” people seem a touch stuck. Haven’t these people seen the tweets? EVERYTHING IS FINTECH.
Online lender Kabbage launched checking accounts for small businesses. The accounts boast no minimum balance or maintenance fees and will pay a 1.10% annual yield. Through its partner, Green Dot Bank, I think we can expect Kabbage to continue to move into full service fintech. I assume the impetus for this move into business banking was Kabbage’s participation issuing 225,000 PPP loans totaling nearly $6B.
Fundraising the Roof
Hummingbird Regtech, a provider of AML and compliance technology, raised $8.2M in its Series A funding round, led by Flourish Ventures with participation from HomeBrew, Lachy Groom, and others. Hummingbird automates suspicious activity investigation and reporting plans, which, if you’ve ever worked in a bank, you know is absolutely ESSENTIAL work. Also, if you don’t know their CEO Joe Robinson, introduce yourself. And make sure to ask him about his taste in furniture.
(Editor’s Note: Ian and Nik Milanovic’s investment syndicate, KMPartners, also participated in this round.)
Hippo raises $150M financing round on a $1.5B valuation. CEO Assaf Wand said, “In 2021, we’ll be ready to go public.” This is all very interesting in the wake of Lemonade’s recent IPO. Insurtech is one to watch with a lot of marketplaces taking friction out of, frankly, annoying bullshit.
Tweets of the Week
Lots of tweets of the week this week; highly recommend clicking on each thread and reading through. Tons of interesting insights from ex-fintech founders and theories from people in the know.
Alex Cohen @anothercohenSome lessons from building a personal finance startup:
Justin M. Overdorff @jmover1/ Been having an interesting convo w @mengxilu to get this hypothesis thought out. Let's talk about why Visa $V has many of the pieces in place (Visa B2B Connect APIs + Plaid acquisition) and is in the best position to disrupt the ACH network ...
Matt @regulatorynerdThere was an interesting AML provision tucked into the U.S. defense authorization act by the U.S. House of Representatives. I'll break down what it is, why it got there and what it might mean for the future of FinTech and online banking later tonight.