FTT Update: Forward Together 🇺🇸
By Julie VerHage
Hi all, Julie here. No matter how any of us voted in this past election, I pray that we use this as a moment of healing rather than further dividing our great nation. Having voted for the party that ultimately won, I want to do everything I can to better understand those that didn’t, and figure out ways we can work together. If that is you, please feel free to reach out. In terms of fintech and what this change means for our space, I’m super excited to have one of our new FTT experts, John Collins, write about that for our premium audience next week. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so here.
European Fintech Funding
I said I wanted to get better about following fintech around the globe this year, and I’m doing my best to hold to that! For instance, London-based PPRO announced a new $180M roundwith a valuation of more than $1B. PPRO is a new platform that helps platforms and marketplaces make it easier to offer local payment options. The company’s CEO said that he wants to use the new funding to enter new markets, starting with Asia and LatAm. (Of note, this company received funding from PayPal a few years ago.)
Monzo Founder Departing
Speaking of Europe, Tom Blomfield, the founder of U.K. challenger bank Monzo, is leaving the startup entirely at the end of the month. This comes after he already assumed a new role after giving up the CEO title in May of 2020. In an interview with TechCrunch, Blomfield said that several things have been weighing on him over the past couple of years and it was time to move one. Below is an excerpt:
“I stopped enjoying my role probably about two years ago… as we grew from a scrappy startup that was iterating and building stuff people really love, into a really important U.K. bank. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, just that the things I enjoy in life is working with small groups of passionate people to start and grow stuff from scratch, and create something customers love. And I think that’s a really valuable skill but also taking on a bank that’s three, four, five million customers and turning it into a 10 or 20M customer bank and getting to profitability and IPOing it, I think those are huge exciting challenges, just honestly not ones that I found that I was interested in or particularly good at."
He goes on to talk about how Covid and the lockdowns have been major struggles for him even with supportive folks around him. I highly recommend reading the whole article.
SPAC Trend Continues
Not only have like 90% of my newsletters this year mentioned payments, but I’m pretty sure more than half have mentioned SPACs too. Expensify, which you might have guessed sells expense management software, might be the next in our space to do a SPAC. The company has reportedly been talking with special purpose acquisition companies about a possible merger to take it public. Though, a direct listing is still on the table for the company as well. SPACs seem to be working pretty well so far for the companies that have chosen them, so I wonder if this will continue much like it has for the more traditional IPO market. Side note given the larger news of the day, Expensify’s CEO has been very outspoken about fighting injustice.
Jack Ma is Spotted
Like many of us probably wanted to given everything going on, Jack Ma was basically in hiding from the real world for the last few months. But this week, he resurfaced for the first time since the Chinese government began clamping down on his empire. The appearance came in the form of a live-streamed video that sent Alibaba’s stock soaring. The event is one that is held annually to recognize rural teachers. In one of the videos, Ma says he will be spending more time on philanthropy, and he didn't bring up his run-ins with Beijing. Still many questions to be asked, but at least some have been answered.
Nothing big here, but apparently SoFi is paying people to check their mortgage rate. Community member Saira points out that this is probably to check peoples' credit score and then use it for future engagement.
This image of community member Jareau Wadé's daughter watching the inauguration today is melting my heart.
If you haven't gotten the chance to yet, I highly recommend checking out this post from FTT member Asya Bradley on America's financial system and how it severely underserves the African American population.
And yet again, Alex is here for a good laugh.
Here are two fintech jobs from Black founded companies we're highlighting today:
Product lead, Nivelo: This is the chance to get in at an early stage startup. You'll work closely with the CEO to define the product strategy and roadmap. The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of the payments space, experience at a fintech startup and a passion for open banking and faster payments.
UX/UI Designer, First Boulevard: Another early stage opportunity, First Boulevard is a neobank built to eradicate the wealth gap for Black Americans. In this role, you will play a huge role in the design, prototyping and developement of its mobile app features.
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Julie VerHage is the co-founder of Fintech Today, where she focuses on editorial content and brand. Prior to joining, she was Bloomberg’s first fintech reporter, covering Robinhood from before it was a billion dollar company, breaking the news that Plaid was acquiring Quovo, and interviewing executives on Bloomberg TV and at several large conferences.