FTT Update: Funding Secured

Hi all, Julie here. 

I’ve been on a podcast recording frenzy. Late last week, I talked to Craig Lewis from Gig Wage about all things gig economy and payroll. His episode will be out tomorrow, and I loved hearing his founder story. He also has a super interesting POV on partnerships. 

Then on Monday, I recorded an episode that is now out with Current Founder Stuart Sopp to talk about the funding round and $2.2B valuation the team announced on Tuesday. Of course, I had to ask him for his thoughts on Jamie Dimon’s comment that challenger banks have an unfair advantage too. It’s a must listen! 

That same day, I recorded with Current’s marketing/influencer guru Adam Hadi to learn more about the new partnership with MrBeast and how he thinks about influencer branding and the creator economy moving forward. His episode will be out on Thursday the 6th!

Then this morning, I recorded one with two of my favorite fintech friends, Frank Rotman of QED and Ken Lin of Credit Karma. This episode was a bit longer than the usual Tux Time, but I still feel like it wasn’t enough with these guys. Their episode will be out on Monday and I can’t wait for you guys to tune in :) 

The News

Crypto News: Wealthfront, Gemini and Mastercard 

Wealthfront announced that later this year, it will start allowing clients to invest in cryptocurrencies on its platform. Wealthfront hasn’t chosen a partner for this offering as of yet, but I have heard that Paxos has been eying the role. It’s an interesting move for the robo advisor space, where essentially no one has started endorsing or offering crypto until now. The next question in my mind is if/when a Bitcoin ETF is approved, is that the point when all the robos jump in? And if they do, do their customers want to use a robo for crypto, or would they rather hold their Bitcoin elsewhere? 

In other crypto news, Mastercard and Gemini have partnered to offer a crypto rewards credit card this summer. BlockFi was the first in the space to announce a similar card in December of last year. BlockFi’s card gives customers 1.5% cash back that accrues and then automatically converts to Bitcoin in the user's BlockFi account. Gemini cardholders will be given the option to transfer their crypto rewards into the interest-earning program Gemini Earn. 

Lots of Payment Partnerships

Later this year, Barclays will become one of the first large banks to offer point-of-sale installment options through a partnership with Amount. The deal will be powered by Amount’s white label point of sale financing platform, and will be an interesting test of consumer demand for installment payments at the POS vs online. 

In other partnership news, Visa and Airbnb are working together to help Airbnb hosts improve cash flow from their rentals by giving them the ability to get paid faster. By leveraging Visa Direct, Visa’s real-time push payments platform, hosts will be able to move money from Airbnb to a bank account associated with a Visa debit card. If you’re looking to know more about the real time payments space, check out my podcast with Orum’s Stephany Kirkpatrick. 

Kid and Teen Banking Funding: Greenlight and Step 

These were some big funding rounds too. Greenlight raised a $260M round led by Andreessen that gave it a $2.3B valuation. The Atlanta based-company started with debit cards and a kid friendly model in 2017. Today, it has set up more than 3M accounts and said revenue has more than tripled year-over-year. 

What do Steph Curry, J-Lo’s ex and The Chainsmokers have in common? They’ve all invested in Step, another fintech in the kid/teen banking space. Step announced the close of a $100M round led by General Catalyst after growing to more than 1.5M users just six months after launch. Recently, Step says it has been adding 10K+ accounts every day, and it wants to keep that momentum going. According to Step’s CEO, the team has yet to spend the funding it raised in its previous round, but he believes speed is key and that this funding will help them get to market and grow that much faster in an increasingly competitive space. 

Splitwise Funding Round

Rhode Island-based Splitwise announced a $20M funding round to help people find better ways to split expenses. This space has seen growing traction with everyone from roommates to spouses trying to track and split expenses with each other. Splitwise, Braid and other startups have gained interest in the midst of this, with different spins on the business model. Splitwise, for instance, makes money on a monthly subscription fee for its pro service rather than a transactional based cost. Will be interesting to see how the team uses the funding to iterate on its current offerings and launch new ones!

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Career Corner

Two great job postings today: 

  1. Head of B2B Cards at Unlimint: Unlimint launched almost 11 years ago with an ambition to help entrepreneurs accept and make payments to scale their business, by combining deep tech expertise with local insights. Today, with a team of more than 300 people and 14 offices located worldwide, the company has become one of the leading providers in the industry and is now offering fast-growing innovative businesses a constantly evolving business interface, designed to bring the financial world of tomorrow closer and to blur the line between traditional banking, digital wallets, and cards payments. Unlimint is looking for an experienced Head of B2B cards to join the team in its Frankfurt, London or Limassol offices. It is looking for someone, who thrives in a fast-paced environment and will drive its new product, prepaid cards for business, helping it make payments fast, safe, and perfectly convenient.

  2. 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!

Community Highlights

Congrats to our friends at Shopify who have now helped its merchants secure $2B in funding through Shopify Capital since it launched in 2016. Great thread from FTT Community member and Shopify Vice President of Merchant Services Kaz Nejatian below. 

Julie VerHage-Greenberg 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.

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