Two things are on my mind: (1) the acquisition of United Capital by Goldman Sachs, and (2) Mike Cagney's Figure securing a $1 billion funding line from Jefferies and WSFS for blockchain-tracked home equity loans. Both are outcomes of complex, interesting, somewhat unexpected processes -- and both are examples of demand-driven market expansion. Let me highlight that again. Both of these are consumer-centric developments, and not product-driven developments, which goes to the core of the problem in the financial services industry.
Finance is everywhere, and everywhere is finance. Smart city supply chains, self driving car insurance, video game real estate markets -- no matter which frontier technology you touch, it will have embedded implications on the delivery of financial services. And why wouldn't it? Like the use of language, finance is a human technology that allows societies to coalesce and compete with one another (in the Yuval Harari sense). It lifts people out of poverty and into entrepreneurship through microloans, providing generational sustenance for their families. And of course it also throws them into pits of corruption and greed, as they drink too deeply from the rivers of securitization and political power.
But enough poetry! I want to talk about augmented reality, attention platforms, and the re-formulation of payments and lending propositions in a global context.
I've got a gentle, data-backed story this week inspired by a great distinction made in this Techonomy article by the Chief Digital Officer at Schneider Electric. The thesis tracks three key lessons from attempting to bring large companies into the 21st century: (1) transform the core of your business instead of fumbling around at the edges, (2) digitize your processes and separately figure out a distinct digital model, and (3) catalyze a digital ecosystem from the new model. You can think about the distinction as either taking the existing business and slowly swapping out parts from human to machine (e.g., like RoboCop), or building the robot from scratch utilizing the latest platforms, markets, and artificial intelligence (e.g., like Terminator).
We look at some of the recent Fintech bundling news that boggle the mind. Neobank Chime just raised a mammoth round from DST Global, valuing it at $6 billion. Figure raised another $60 million round. Goldman is launching a retail roboadvisor. Revolut is offering pensions. Wealthfront is offering mortgages. The world is upside down. We cool down with pictures showing augmented reality implementations in commerce and finance, and finish with an elevated thought about the future.
In this episode, we connect with serial founder Ohad Samet, CEO of TrueAccord. Ohad has been working in fintech machine learning for a decade and a half, applying multi-dimensional mathematics to consumer finance. The result? A more empathetic approach to the traditionally gnarly problem of debt collection.
This week, we put on the Goldman hat and go shopping for companies. We buy a little bit of Folio and sell some Motif. We look at Personal Capital and the $1 billion it wants for its $12 billion of assets. We examine the private markets with Addepar / iCapital and SharesPost / Forge, and then move over to the banking sector. Should we buy Wells Fargo, as rumored, or some digital wallet apps? Read on for how to acquire a best-in-class Fintech.
Welcome back to the Fintech Blueprint / Rebank podcast series hosted by Will Beeson and Lex Sokolin. In this episode, we talk through a few recent events that are indicative of the Fintech world right now. Brex raised an additional $150 million at a slightly improved valuation vs. its last round just as Monzo is reportedly looking at a 40% down round. Why? Shopify launched bank accounts for its merchants and announced the Shop app, basically an Amazon competitor plus Klarna, just as it worked with Facebook to support the launch of Facebook Shops and joined the Libra Association. Lots going on. Lastly, we discuss why Goldman’s M&A activity over the past couple years leads to the natural conclusion that they should buy Schwab.
Oliver Hughes is the CEO of Tinkoff Group, one of the world’s most successful digital banking groups with over 10 million customers. This is one our most interesting conversation to date, full of fantastic operating advice.
Tinkoff is publicly listed with a $3.8 billion market capitalization, which brings clarity to its operating model in a time when many noteworthy consumer digital banks are pursuing customer acquisition at the expense of profitability.
Oliver has led Tinkoff through three financial crises, and brings experience and perspective to the current COVID crisis. This is a fascinating discussion about unit economics in digital banking and winning business models with a CEO with thirteen years of experience in this space.
Mike Cagney is the Co-Founder and CEO of Figure, a full stack financial services blockchain company with consumer offerings in market or on the way in lending, banking and more. In late-2019, Figure raised $103 million at a $1.2 billion valuation and continues to grow.
Prior to starting Figure, Mike co-founded and ran SoFi, one of the most successful consumer fintech companies ever.
In this conversation, we discuss Figure’s routes to asset origination and capital markets disruption, Figure’s previously unannounced consumer banking and payments offering, lessons learned building and scaling multiple billion dollar companies and more.
The fintech world is not taking the summer off. New developments are coming fast and furious, from fundraisings to product launches to government intervention.
Banking for brands startup Bond raised $32 million to capitalize on the exploding trend of B2B2C banking.
Samsung Money launched, leveraging SoFi’s infrastructure. As SoFi again seeks a national banking charter, they could become the de facto leader in this space.
Kabbage and Intuit launched small business bank accounts as extensions of their already deep relationships with SMBs.
And WhatsApp is trialing all sorts of financial services in India just as Chinese fintech super apps are being banned from the country.