Small businesses have shown high demand for real time payments. Fintechs may be a key for smaller banks to fulfil it.
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.
In this conversation, we talk with Marwan Forzley of Veem about how the rampant evolution of the mobile phone spurred his fascination to turn the phone into a business-to-business (B2B) payments network. Additionally, we explore how generations of companies have tried to use correspondent banking to solve for B2B cross border and failed, the intricacies of payment rails and the infrastructure to support them, the impact of COVID on global e-commerce, how the future will blend the distinctions between digital wallets, banking services, and crypto wallets.
This week, we look at cash -- blockchain cash. The war for money is just starting to ramp up, as Facebook Libra explains its new regulated plan, the Chinese national Blockchain Service network goes live, Ethereum stablecoins reach historic market caps in the billions, and the Financial Stability Board recommends to go heavy on global stablecoin arrangements. In 2008, Bitcoin threw a rock through the window of the financial skyscraper, and today we are starting to see the cracks. As the US government runs out of $350 billion in small business bail-out money and gets ready to print more, where do you stand?
We look at why venture capital investors are slowing down, and the dynamics of how their portfolios work under duress. We talk about the incentives of limited partners to derisk exposure, the implication that has on cash reserves, new deals, and fundraising. We also touch on how the various Fintech themes are responding to an increase in digital interaction while seeing fundamental economic challenges. Shrewd competitors will be able to consolidate their positions and gain share during the crisis, but that will have to come from the balance sheet, not intermittent growth equity checks.
Another heavy week. It is hard to find the right, or even the interesting, thing to say. I look at why the $2 trillion in US bailouts may not even be enough to stave off the economic damage. In particular, I am alarmed by the large and fast rise of unemployment claims (higher than 2008 peak), estimates that GDP may fall by 20-30%, and the broad impact on small business. Small businesses have 27 days of cash on hand, and power half of our economies through both employment and output. So how do we meet this challenge? What strength should we draw on in the moment of doubt to become the artists of tomorrow?
I have been reading Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built this week, something everyone interested in understanding the future of Google, Goldman, Uber, or Amazon should do. The narrative starts with China's small business explosion, and Ma's genius is to tap into global demand for the products of those businesses through an online marketplace and associated financial services. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's pause to acknowledge a massive, systemic transaction that was announced this week: payments processing company Global Payments acquiring TSYS (Total Payments Systems) for $21.5 billion.