Top 10 Fintech News Stories for the Week Ending Nov. 20, 2021

A broad cross section of news this week as we have N26 calling it quits here, Oportun making a significant acquisition, Amazon pulling the plug on Visa in the U.K., Upgrade closing another large round and BlockFi getting investigated by the SEC. Here are what I consider to be the top ten fintech news stories of the past week.

German Digital Bank N26 to Withdraw From the U.S., Close 500,000 Accounts from The Wall Street Journal – The Europeans are finding it tough going in the U.S. when it comes to digital banking as leading German neobank N26 has decided it’s time to call it quits. After launching in August 2019 N26 will close all 500,000 U.S. accounts in January.

Oportun to purchase Digit, become Neobank from LendIt Fintech News – Consumer lending fintech Oportun is expanding its capabilities as it announced this week it was acquiring Digit, a leading neobank savings app, for $213 million. This will provide Oportun with some real firepower as it looks to become a leader in the broader digital banking space.

Amazon vs. Visa and the Coming Fintech Wars from BloombergOpinion – In the U.K this week Amazon gave notice that it would not be allowing U.K-issued Visa credit cards as a form of payment on its platform starting in January. This was the most interesting take I read on the issue. Payments are changing and Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla driving some of this change.

Credit card start-up Upgrade jumps 83% in valuation in just four months to $6.28 billion from CNBC – Upgrade had the largest funding round of the week with a $280 million Series F. Their new valuation of $6.28 billion is up 83% from June and revenue climbed 70% during the same time frame as the Upgrade Card has become the fastest-growing credit card in the U.S.

BlockFi Faces SEC Scrutiny Over High-Yield Crypto Accounts from Bloomberg – The SEC is investigating BlockFi over its high yield crypto accounts and whether these accounts are actually securities. States such as New Jersey, Alabama, Kentucky and Alabama are doing the same thing. I think this is good news actually. We need to get clarity here from regulators on this popular product (full disclosure: I have a BlockFi account) and the sooner it comes the better.

The Crypto Company Behind the Renaming of the Los Angeles Staples Center from The New York Times – is paying $700 million for the naming rights to the Staples Center over 20 years that will become effective on Christmas Day. Here is some interesting background on the company.

Americans’ Shadow Financial Lives: Why Banks Don’t Know Jack (Or Jill) from Forbes – In Ron Shevlin’s column this week he talks about the great unbundling that has happened and the fact that banks have very little insight into their customers’ financial lives.

BM Technologies buys a Seattle Bank from LendIt Fintech News – I thought this was a curious story. BM Technologies was spun out of Customers Bank earlier this year and now they are acquiring a community bank to get back into the banking game.

How to Move Money in the 21st Century from a16z – Payments may well be the most dynamic vertical in all of fintech right now and this interesting primer from Andreessen Horowitz on how money moves gives the lay of the land and what new financial infrastructure is needed here.

Criminals have made off with over $10 billion in ‘DeFi’ scams and thefts this year from CNBC – If crypto is the Wild West then DeFi is the unexplored wilderness as least when it comes to regulation. While fraud happens throughout the financial system headlines like this one will not do their cause any favors.

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  • Peter Renton

    Peter Renton is the chairman and co-founder of Fintech Nexus, the world’s first and largest digital media and events company focused on fintech. Peter has been writing about fintech since 2010 and he is the author and creator of the Fintech One-on-One Podcast, the first and longest-running fintech interview series. Peter has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The New York Times, CNBC, CNN, Fortune, NPR, Fox Business News, the Financial Times, and dozens of other publications.