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 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.
In this conversation, we chat with Chris Dean, who is the Founder & CEO at Treasury Prime. Previously, Chris was the CTO & VP of Engineering at Standard Treasury, which was acquired by Silicon Valley Bank for an undisclosed amount.
More specifically, we discuss all things banking-as-a-service, FinTech APIs, embedded finance, and the general evolution of the FinTech banking industry over the last decade.
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 look at:
How banks and financial advisors have failed to deliver on $1 trillion in capital appreciation for their clients over the last 12 years
The role of bank regulators in the United States, and the tensions between state and federal agencies
How the OCC is laying the groundwork for national banks to custody crypto assets, bank stablecoin reserves, run blockchain nodes, and use crypto payment networks
And instead of financial advisors or other CFAs guiding the retail market in good decision making, a newsfeed of *what’s popular* has driven Apple, Google, Tesla and the other John Galt hallucinations to the stratosphere. Don’t get us wrong. We love the robot as much as the next Fintech commentator. But it is clear to us that “the masses” are not being “advised”. And that the capital appreciation that matters — cementing the next trillion dollar networks for global future generations in work yet to emerge — is misunderstood and misrepresented by most financial professionals to their clients.
Google has done it. In a massive update to Google Pay, the company highlighted exactly the direction of travel for high tech, fintech, and the global banks. It has articulated a vision for competing with Apple Pay and Ant Financial. Let's walk through the features.
I dig deeply into the $5.3 billion acquisition of data aggregator Plaid by $500 billion payments network Visa. We examine why this deal is worth 25-50x revenue, while Yodlee's sale to Envestnet was priced much lower. We also look at how Plaid could be an existential threat to Visa, and why paying 1% of marketcap to protect 200 million accounts may be a good bet. Broader implications for product manufacturers across payments, investments, and banking also emerge -- the middle is getting carved out, and infrastructure providers like Visa or BlackRock are moving closer to the consumer.