In this analysis, we focus on Goldman Sachs launching an institutional embedded finance offering within Amazon Web Services, and Thought Machine raising a unicorn round for its cloud core banking platform. We explore these developments by focusing on the emerging role of cloud providers as distributors of third party software, think through some of the implications on standalone fintechs and open banking, and check in on AI company Kensho. Last, we highlight the difference between Web3 and Web3 approaches to “cloud”, and suggest a path as to how those can be rationalized in the future.
In this conversation, we chat with Adam Hughes – the Chief Executive Officer at Amount, a technology company focused on accelerating the world’s transition to digital financial services via its digital retail banking platform, world-class digital authentication & fraud prevention tools, and ecommerce point-of-sale financing technology.
More specifically, we touch on digital lending industry Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), as well as the trends of working with large banks and enabling their digital transformation to access some of these themes as part of embedded finance and banking-as-a-service.
In this analysis, we want to update the discussion of card networks, money movement, and the potential existential threat — or perhaps evolution — to existing infrastructure. It continues the thread on articles like Is Plaid cheap at $5.3 billion for $500 billion Visa? and Marqeta's $300MM of revenue & Ethereum's $20B in ann. transaction fees highlight opportunity and industry structure, and Who are the customers of Embedded Finance, and what do they reveal about Stripe, Affirm, DriveWealth, and Green Dot?, and more generally in this research section. We map Plaid’s progress in building out a payments ecosystem, and highlight Affirm’s debit card product powered in a novel manner through open banking. The analysis visualizes a likely evolution of the space with the introduction of Web3, and highlights a couple of early symptoms.
PayPal just launched what it calls a super app. It has a cash account with a 0.40% interest rate, direct deposit, money movement, bill pay, and remittance features. It also integrates shopping functionality with rewards and cash back. In this analysis, we compare this offering with Google Pay and Square Cash App, as well as trace the DNA of PayPal to understand whether such an offering will succeed where others failed.
Square upgrades Cash App into a payment processing powerhouse, completing the loop between the consumer and merchant side of the house. Goldman Sachs acquires GreenSky, adding a lending business at the point of intent. This analysis connects these symptoms into a framework explaining the increasing integration between commerce and finance, and the increasing role that demand generation plays. That in turn explains how the attention and creator economies interconnect with financial services.
The evolution towards a financial metaverse is rapidly accelerating, with the growth in generative assets, profile picture avatars, the emerging derivative structures that build on their foundation, and DAOs that govern them. This article highlights the most novel developments, and builds the case for what a digital wallet / bank will need to be able to do in order to succeed on the way to this alien destination.
We look in detail at the state of marking recently-private-fintechs to the public market in mid-2021. Multiple industry segments have seen IPOs, direct listings, and SPACs transition fintech darlings into traditional stocks. How is performance doing? Is everything as magnificent and rich as we expected? Have multiples and valuations fallen or held steady? The analysis explores the answers and provides an explanatory framework.
In this conversation, we delve deep into next generation finance and banking with CJ MacDonald, the Founder and CEO of Step – an incredibly successful neobank on a mission to improve the financial future of the next generation.
More specifically, we discuss traditional vs. digital banking, how personal experiences influence entrepreneurial the spirit, immersive market research, banking-as-a-service, the importance of financial literacy amongst Millenials and Gen-Z, the power of influencers who actually believe in a brand, aspirational brands vs. plastic Wells Fargo stage coaches, and lastly the proliferation of crypto in the minds of the next generation.
The fintech industry is coming up on the tipping point of funding, revenue generation, and user acquisition to rival traditional finance with $20 billion in YTD fintech financing, the several SPACs, and Visa’s $2B Tink purchased. Defensive barriers have eroded.
Let’s take a moment to compare capital. While it is not the money that wins markets, it is the transformation function of that money into novel business assets that does. And while the large banks have a massive incumbent advantage with (1) installed customers and assets, and (2) financial regulatory integration (or capture, depending on your vantage point), there is a real question on whether a $1 generates more value inside of an existing bank, or outside of an existing bank — even when it is aimed at the same financial problem.
This week, we cover these ideas:
Klarna’s $640 million raise and its $45 billion valuation, and how its business model arbitrages the payments revenue pool to build a lending business
Pinduoduo’s growth path to a $150B marketcap, and the links between shopping, media, and financial mechanisms that help it compete with Alibaba
A comparison of approaches to growth and economics
Implications for crypto assets for capturing “the real economy”
Klarna is raising $640 million on a $45 billion private valuation, with over $1 billion in net operating income. The buy-now-pay-later company has over 90 million active customers and 250,000 merchants. It was founded in Sweden in 2005.
On the other side of the ocean, Chinese ecommerce company Pinduoduo is beating Alibaba with 820 million active buyers, generates over $3 billion in revenue per quarter, connects buyers to 12 million farmers, and has a market capitalization of $150 billion. It was founded in China in 2015.