FTT Update: Where Billionaires Store Their Crypto

Hi all, Julie here. I’ve only been here a week and Austin has already minted a new Fintech Unicorn. You’re welcome. Also, Cokie and I recorded a new episode of Tux Time talking about why WhatsApp payments wouldn’t work in the US but could crush it overseas. I’m talking to Stephany Kirkpatrick of Orum this week, feel free to email me Qs! Episode will drop Thursday. 

We’ve also just finished hanging up all of the artwork in our apartment, and while they might not be a Banksy or Basquiat, they have a lot of meaning to us. If you are looking to diversify your portfolio and invest in these acclaimed artists, however, look no further than our newest sponsor, Masterworks!

And if you're looking for a new job, look no further than our Career Corner with three great postings from Anthemis, Commonstock and Mercury.

The News

Lots of News In Asia

Remember talks of a digital coin being developed in Asia? Well, the Biden administration is stepping up scrutiny of China’s plans for a digital yuan. Some people close to the President are concerned the move could kick off a long-term bid to topple the dollar as the world’s dominant reserve currency, according to Bloomberg. The Biden administration isn’t currently planning to take any action to counter longer-term threats from China’s digital currency, but China’s plans have given renewed momentum to efforts to consider the creation of a digital dollar.

Speaking of Asia, Jack Ma’s Ant Group is being forced to apply to become a financial holding company overseen by China’s central bank. The People’s Bank of China said Ant representatives were summoned to a meeting Monday with four regulatory agencies that also included the country’s banking, securities and foreign-exchange overseers. The move comes as regulations for Chinese tech companies have grown and Jack Ma’s company was forced to sideline what was going to be one of the largest ever IPOs. Regulators are asking Ma’s company to correct “unfair competition” in its payments business (guess it’s not just Plaid and Visa in the US that are getting scrutinized). Also interesting is that Ant will be required to break an “information monopoly” on the vast and detailed consumer data it has collected from its more than 1B users in China. 

Where Billionaires Store Their Crypto

While Coinbase’s consumer facing business is crushing it, its lesser known custody business seems to be hitting its stride as well. According to a piece from Coindesk, billionaire investor Daniel Loeb’s $17.6B hedge fund has struck a custody deal with Coinbase. Third Point LLC now holds cryptocurrency from five of its funds with Coinbase, according to the piece. Last week in a regulatory filing, Coinbase revealed it held $122B in institutional assets. In the same filing, Coinbase said it expects large growth in this area of its business over the next 12-months. 

African Startups Keep Raising

Pan-African fintech AppZone has scored $10M in new funding to help modernize the banking system in Africa. Launched in 2008, AppZone works with clients across seven African countries including large players like Access Bank, GT Bank and Zenith Bank. The company says that it has a yearly transaction value of $2B, and annual loan disbursement of $300M. Africa has seen a surge in funding over the past year across the startup space, especially in payments. Stripe acquired Paystack late last year, and Chipper Cash raised a massive round in November. 

*Side note: I’ll be interviewing Wiza Jalakasi from Chipper for Tux Time later this week. Send over questions! 

Climate X Fintech

As part of Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition, the payments giant is collaborating with fintech startup Doconomy to build a “Mastercard Carbon Calculator.” The tool will enable consumers to receive a snapshot of the carbon emissions generated by their purchases and ways to counterbalance that activity through contributions to reforestation programs. According to a study commissioned by Mastercard, the world shutting down over the past year has caused more people to think about adopting more sustainable behaviors. 54% of those surveyed see reducing their carbon footprint as more important now than pre-pandemic. This moves sync with a trend that Cokie has written about, climate and fintech colliding.

Today's Partner, Masterworks

This Asset Class is Returning 13.6% Annually

According to new research from Citi Private Bank, contemporary art prices rose 13.6% per year from 1995 to 2020, compared to 8.9% returns for the S&P 500. Additionally, research shows that over the same period contemporary art not only had a lower loss rate than gold, but also had virtually no correlation to the stock market. But unless you have $10,000,000 to buy a Monet yourself, the barriers to this asset class have been too high. Until now. Masterworks allows you to invest in paintings by artists like Basquiat and Piccaso at a fraction of the entry price. Recently Masterworks sold their first Banksy work for a 32% return for investors. Explore Masterworks and skip the 8,000 person waitlist today.

*See important information

Career Corner

Three highly diversified job postings today: 

  1. Investment Associate at Anthemis: Anthemis is a venture investment platform founded on three guiding principles: authentic collaboration, virtuous cycle outcomes, and diversity and inclusion. Since 2010, it has been at the center of a vibrant ecosystem of startups and institutions dedicated to reinventing financial services for the digital world. Due to the increasing growth of its investment portfolio of 120+ companies, Anthemis is looking to hire an Investment Associate to support the team with the increasing workload. The Investment Associate role will involve working to support the New York investment team in everything from sourcing, diligence, deal execution and portfolio management. Primary responsibilities of the Investment Associate will involve supporting the flagship Anthemis Fund (Anthemis Venture Fund), which focuses on Pre-Seed, Seed and Series A deals across the US and Europe, as well as its Female Innovators Lab vehicle which is focused on supporting female Pre-Seed companies and entrepreneurs. This will focus on all sectors of financial services, in line with the primary thesis of Anthemis Group. Please apply via the Workable link above, and feel free to reach out to alexsteiner@anthemis.com with any questions!

  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 exceptional onto the business development team to help it out. You’ll pitch startup founders on using Mercury to run their companies, so you’ll have to understand their products and needs deeply and Mercury’s own product in great detail. 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!

  3. Software Engineer (Integrations) at Commonstock: Commonstock is a social network for investors, where portfolios and performance are verified by brokerages. Its goal is to improve the world’s financial health by amplifying the knowledge of the best investors. Brokerages have successfully democratized investing, they now need to democratize quality investing knowledge. After raising $10M from some top VCs (Floodgate, QED, Social Capital, etc), Commonstock is now actively growing its diverse team and is hiring a software engineer with at least 3+ years of experience and a strong interest in investing, personal finance, corporate strategy or anything else related to private or public investing. The ideal candidate will love maintaining the infrastructure for data and related services and will have the ability to proactively reduce API latency. Bonus points if you have worked on products with a focus on finance, security, or a consumer's user experience. If this sounds like you, apply above!

Community Highlights

Happy Birthday to Fintech Today Community member Alex Cohen! I hope Keith Rabois said something mean to you to make your day.

And if you want to learn more about anti-money laundering and fraud in an increasingly online world, Unit21 & Chime are hosting a free webinar that covers “How to Scale Fraud & AML Strategy in 2021” on April 28 that you should check out. 

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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