The Fintech HighFIVE!

FinTech High Five (2)

By Gary Dempsey, Content Leader Money20/20 Europe

Welcome to the Fintech highFIVE! 🖐 Every day, I’m amazed by the sheer amount of news and innovation happening in the fintech industry. 🤯 Fintech truly has not stopped, even during these crazy times. I can’t help but notice common themes in this huge sea of news — so I’m trying something new to bring these headlines together. Bi-weekly, I’ll be hitting you with the biggest themes seen in the news — all counted down on just one hand. 👊 So gimme 5 🙏 as we celebrate 🙌 the best of fintech each week.

*We’re socially distant here. Virtual high-fives only 👏 Please don’t hit your screen.

1. We’re in the money. 🎼 Great to see global venture funding hitting an all time high in Q1 with a total of $125 billion in investments. Here is a closer look at (and a graph), of the fintech deals in Q1, broken down into venture, debt financing, IPOs and more by Nik Milanović.
2. Coinbase opens high.Coinbase raised their valuation over $100 billion last week when they debuted on the stock market. This is an incredible feat for a modern startup in the crypto economy, debuting on a very old-fashioned platform. Coinbase’s recent success comes after a record quarter of monster profits on the back of the huge surges in cryptocurrency price levels, but it does make me wonder what will happen if they start to ebb?
3. The Alibaba scandal continues… 😱 Another scandal I can’t get enough of. China’s Alibaba was fined a record $2.77 billion for antitrust violations - ouchx2.77b!!! The company publicly vowed to fix the problems highlighted by the antitrust probe and saw their shares raise by 9% - this is just an incredible show of confidence by their investors, not a hard feat for Alibaba to achieve, as they have extensive media assets which have become a red flag for the regulator, who worry (with good reason) that they may have too much influence.
4. Previously on CSI: Wirecard… 🧟 If you’ve followed the high five for longer than a few editions, you’ll know I can’t get enough of the Wirecard saga! The fintech industry’s very own Enron case teaches us that we need to behave in a way that adds robustness to the industry, not to our bank balances. Here is an article-by-article account of the entire saga, including the original breaking news, the manhunt of Jan Marsalak, the extent and duration of the fraud and the consequences to the German regulator.
5. A word to the wise! 🧐 UK fintech Wise, formerly TransferWise, are apparently in talks with the regulator about a potential IPO. This would be a real coup for the UK, as Wise could easily list in the US, but the Estonian founder duo Kristo Kaarmann and Taavet Hinrikus have chosen where they founded. I was wondering why they changed their name, are they trying to sound more mature ahead of their listing? More importantly, though, TransferWise’s brand was built on and associated with money transfers, but as the company matures and adds more and more products and services into the suite, they want the branding to reflect it and move away from a single-purpose association.

🗞️ x5 big news

  1. Big CBDC announcement in the UK: Bank of England statement on Central Bank Digital Currency
  2. Mastercard’s big digital ID acquisition: The card network has agreed an $850 million deal to buy AI-powered digital identity verification company Ekata
  3. More smashing news for Revolut: The challenger bank is preparing a new fundraising round that would value the digital banking app at between $10 billion and $15 billion
  4. ...and for Citigroup: Bank beats estimates on reserve release, says it is exiting 13 retail markets outside the US
  5. From public to private! Binance.US hires former top bank regulator Brian Brooks, an acting head of Office of the Comptroller of the Currency under Trump, will become CEO of Binance.US

📰 x5 interesting articles

  1. How Embedded Finance Is Facilitating a Global Shift to Digital Banking
  2. Under the hood: A closer look at Stripe, the most highly valued venture-backed private company in the US
  3. Where the startup world sees money in Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan
  4. How online scammers fooled one of Africa’s biggest fintech startups
  5. The rise of global cybersecurity venture funding

⚠️ x5 funding announcements

  1. +$80m for Zilch (+$500m valuation): UK’s buy now pay later outfit raises high for its direct-to-consumer service
  2. +$100m for Clearbanc, and a rebrand: Clearbanc rebrands to Clearco as it achieves unicorn status
  3. +$60m for FintechOS: European startup raises big, promising a low-code approach to helping financial institutions quickly and painlessly go digital
  4. +£50m for Starling: Goldman Sachs growth equity has invested in the UK challenger bank
  5. +C$8m for Plooto: Series A funding for small business payments automation

If you are sharing on Twitter, please use the hashtag #fintechhighfive and mention me, @gary20203, or @money2020

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24 May 2021