FTT Update: Goldman's Former CEO Doesn't Like SPACs

Hi all, Julie here. Tux had a great birthday weekend, thanks for asking. We have a tradition of buying brisket for him on his big day. While Hometown is an extraordinary option here in NYC, I'm very excited he'll get true Texas BBQ next year. 

The News

Give Me Banking Charters

Research firm Aite Group says we’re due for a load of banking charter applications in the coming months. This will include companies in the fintech space, but also retailers, telecoms, entertainment conglomerates, Aite said. While Aite said smaller fintechs will opt to stay on the sidelines, it expects larger ones to wade in so they can have more control than they do with a banking partner. This also means that the changing of the guard in DC could have a big impact on the approvals. Premium subscribers for FTT will hear more about this on Thursday from one of our FTT experts, John Collins. Subscribe here if you haven’t yet. 

Former CEO of Goldman Sachs Doesn't Like SPACs

Lloyd Blankfein has some concerns about SPACs. Now, he probably has a bit of a bias here being the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, so take it with a grain of salt. But I do think it’s worth pointing out the pros and cons of a SPAC and what we should still be trying to improve upon considering these vehicles exploded in popularity last year and raised $64B according to some reports. “When the initial SPAC goes public, you are scrutinizing a shell company, possibly the reputation of the sponsor,” he continued. “When that company then de-SPACs and mergers, it’s a merger, it’s not an IPO that carries with it a lot of diligence obligations.”

Flywire Set to IPO

Ian and I had been hearing about this through the rumor mill a bit, so I wasn't surprised when Reuters broke the news that Flywire is getting ready to go public. Reuters says that the company has hired investment banks to prepare for an IPO in the US sometime this year at a valuation of around ~$3B. The startup, which was founded in 2011, says it has now processed more than $16B in transactions. Another payments company, Flywire is focused on the travel, healthcare and education industries, areas that have seen less attention from others in the space. 

N26 Finds a CFO

N26, one of Europe’s most valuable fintech companies, has hired Jan Kemper to become its CFO. Kemper has previous IPO experience, leading some to believe an IPO could be coming for the $3.4B challenger bank in the not so distant future. He won’t be joining until the second half of the year though, so don’t think you’ll be able to buy shares for Valentines Day or even Labor Day at that rate. Some publications even peg the IPO to 2023. 

Goalsetter Raises Its Seed Round

One of the Black founded companies we mentioned this month just announced a new funding round. Goalsetter, a finance app aimed at educating kids and families, raised a seed round of $3.9M. It was led by Astia, with participation from PNC Bank, Mastercard, US Bank, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Elevate Capital and more. We love to see it. The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, NBA player Baron Davis, and ex-New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia are all investors. 

French BNPL Raises Funding 

French buy now, pay later (BNPL) startup Alma announced a €49M round by Cathay Innovation and Idinvest. Founded by former Stripe executive Louis Chatriot with Guillaume Desloges in 2017, Alma lets shoppers and merchants pay for goods in installments. Where have I heard that concept before? I couldn't find anything in particular that diferentiated them, but please ping me if there is! Would love to know more. 

Get Rid of the Paper Invoices

Melio, which provides a platform for small businesses to pay other companies electronically using bank transfers, debit cards or credit, just announced $110M in funding at a $1.3B valuation. Melio, which was founded in Israel, has focused on replacing paper invoices in the US. This round was led by Coatue with participation from previous backers Accel, Aleph, Bessemer Venture Partners, Corner Ventures, General Catalyst, and Latitude. And if Melio raising funding sounds familiar, it’s because it also raised ~$100M in 2020.

Bitcoin, $40K and Fund Flows

When Bitcoin was racing to $40K, investors were clamoring to get into funds such as the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (ie: where investors can get exposure to Bitcoin in the form of a security so they can avoid buying, storing, and safekeeping Bitcoin themselves). Now that the epic rise is stalling, so are the inflows. According to a piece from Bloomberg, the pace of flows into the $20B Grayscale Bitcoin Trust seem to have topped out for now. The fund slid 22% over the past two weeks through January 22, outpacing a 17% drop in Bitcoin in the same period. Without those inflows, JPMorgan strategists said that it will be tough for Bitcoin to go back above $40K.

Coinbase Secondary

Prior to its IPO, Coinbase will hold a secondary market for its private stock on the Nasdaq, according to reports. AKA: current and former employees and others who hold stock will be allowed to sell some portion of their vested shares in advance of an IPO. The exchange informed shareholders that they would receive further details about the sale on Monday, according to The Block. Yet another way for Coinbase to help out the privileged. (If this joke doesn't make sense, see this).

Say hi to today’s sponsor OnJuno, an FDIC insured challenger bank that *still* offers 2.15% returns on checking and savings. Backed by Sequoia’s seed program, OnJuno’s debit card is also a bit different than what you’re used to, with the reward choices in your hands. The OnJuno Card gives users 5% cashback directly in the form of instant credits on their choice of five brands such as Amazon, Trader Joes, Target, Spotify, Doordash and more. We’re excited to partner with OnJuno. Like other challenger banks, the signup process is free and super simple. So check out this new startup and let us know what you think! 

*Interested in sponsorships with FTT? Reach out to jordan@fintechtoday.co

Community Highlights

First of all, Fintech Today friend Mario Gabriele, aka the S1 king, just relaunched his website over the weekend! With all the IPOs happening as of late, you should probably sign up. It's a steller read.

Speaking of great follows, here's a solid Twitter thread from Community Member Saira. Highly recommend giving her a follow. She has experience at traditional banks as well as a challeneger bank, so I love getting her perspectives.

Career Corner

As always, here are two fintech jobs we're highlighting today! 

  1. Senior Product Manager, LeafLink: Fresh off its Series-C round led by Founders Fund, LeafLink, the largest B2B wholesale platform for regulated cannabis, is seeking a Senior Product Manager to join its team to build the industry’s preferred way to digitally pay for wholesale commerce and trade. The ideal candidate will have 5+ years of experience as a product manager. Strong knowledge of B2B software and APIs a plus.

  2. Full Stack Engineer, SteadiPay: Engineer looking to work for an LA based company with the option of being remote? We might have a gig for you. The small business focused startup is on the hunt for a senior engineer to bring its product roadmap to life. In the role, you'll help lead its current team of developers and work directly with the CEO and Director of Engineering on SteadiPay's product roadmap and development strategy. 4+ years of experience in development. 

That's all for this today, but don't forget to check back again mid-week for more news updates. A lot can happen between now and then ;) 

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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.