Hi! It’s Monday, November(!) 1, 2021.
Mastercard is partnering with the crypto company Bakkt to offer “crypto-as-a-service,” enabling its millions of merchants and thousands of bank and fintech customers in the US to offer cryptocurrency solutions and services. The partnership will allow any company in Mastercard’s network to buy, sell, and hold digital assets through e-wallets and cards and earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency. Given the sheer size and scale of Mastercard’s network (with 2.8 billion cards in use), the announcement could bring crypto mainstream and lead to a significant expansion in the ways Americans earn and spend bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The Justice Department is probing Visa’s relationships with large fintechs as part of its antitrust investigation of the global card network. DoJ is looking at whether the financial incentives offered to companies like Square and PayPal restricted those firms from using non-Visa payments rails.
American Express debuted its first-ever digital checking account for small and medium-sized businesses. The account comes with the card network's first U.S. debit card and pays a 1.1% interest rate. The announcement represents another move from AmEx to deepen its relationships with its SME customers: in the last 18 months, AmEx has acquired SME lender Kabbage and partnered with Extend to enable business customers to create their own virtual cards.
Banking infrastructure provider Q2 and crypto services firm NYDIG announced that NYDIG services will be integrated into Q2’s digital banking platform, and that new partnerships with Five Star Bank and UNIFY Financial Credit Union will allow them to become the “first financial institutions in the U.S. to enable [customers] to buy, sell and hold bitcoin, powered by NYDIG.”
European buy-now-pay-later giant Klarna entered into a strategic partnership with Stripe to offer BNPL as a payment option to the payment firm’s merchants. “Together with Stripe, we will be a true growth partner for our retailers of all sizes,” said Klarna’s chief technology officer.
British challenger bank Monzo reportedly is in talks to raise £300 million at a valuation of £3 billion, which would mark a dramatic comeback for a firm that has suffered a series of reputation-damaging news stories in the past year, including raising a down round, reporting a £115 million annual loss, and abandoning plans to acquire a US bank charter. Monzo is dead; long live Monzo!
Fintech-for-kids Greenlight is releasing an investment platform for parents to help them set up brokerage accounts for college tuition and other future expenses. Offering the service for free, Greenlight will absorb the cost of trading and not employ payment-for-order-flow.
Wells Fargo plans to release an updated mobile app in early 2022, which will include a virtual assistant called Fargo, as part of a transition to “digital-first services.”
Nubank confidentially filed for its U.S. IPO, picking the New York Stock Exchange for its IPO. It’s expected that the transaction will take place in December at a valuation of over $50 billion.
Payments fintech Modern Treasury launched virtual accounts to provide real-time visibility into bank payments (ACH, wire, and checks).
The new token for the crypto play-to-earn platform and online game Squid Game, based on the hit Netflix series, saw a meteoric rise from $0.012 to $6.27 in a few days. 2021 in a nutshell.
Brazilian BaaS startup Swap raised $25 million in a Series A funding round led by Tiger.
DeFi startup Beta Finance raised $5.75 million in new funding.
Digital payment infrastructure provider Extend raised $40 million in a Series B funding round led by March Capital.
Brazilian insurtech Justos raised a $35.8 million Series A funding round led by Ribbit Capital.
Credit-card-as-a-service provider Deserve received a strategic investment from Visa.
“Headless” checkout startup Rally Commerce raised $6 million in seed funding.