Welcome to Interchange! If you received this in your inbox, thank you for signing up and for your vote of confidence. If you’re reading this as a post on our site, sign up here so you can get it straight in the future. Each week, I’ll take a look back at the hottest fintech news from the past week. This will include everything from funding rounds to trends to analysis of a particular space to hot takes on a particular company or event. There’s a lot of fintech news out there and it’s my job to stay on top of it – and make sense of it – so you can stay in the know. , Mary Ann
Last week, my good friend and very talented journalist (and Equity podcast co-host) Natasha Mascarenhas And I mentioned that Amazon has struck a deal with beleaguered online mortgage lender Better.com to give employees a new benefit. Specifically, Better.com announced it is launching Equity Unlocker, a program that allows employees to use their vested equity as collateral for a down payment when trying to buy a home. Amazon employees in Florida, New York and Washington state will be the first to try the tool. What’s unique about the program, according to Better.com, is that employees will have the ability to finance their homes without actually selling their shares, requiring only the underlying equity to be pledged.
Frankly, this news came as a bit of a shock to those of us who have been following the ongoing developments here at Better.com. For those unfamiliar, the fintech company has had its fair share of struggles that have cast doubt on its future. Last May, TechCrunch reported on a filing that showed the business was projected to lose more than $300 million in 2021 as the housing market slumped and mortgage interest rates skyrocketed. Rates. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, Better.com reported a staggering net loss of $327.7 million, according to an SEC filing.
The company’s reputation was also hit hard by the way it conducted several rounds of mass layoffs, which also resulted in an executive exodus. Better.com also made headlines last July when it was still moving forward with its SPAC filing despite a lackluster performance from a blank-check combination debut.
So why would Amazon want to get involved, and add its employees, to a company that appears far from growing and has a less than stellar reputation? Well, we asked Amazon just that (not in those exact words, of course). And the spokesperson told me a lot of things about how the company wants to provide all kinds of welfare benefits to its employees and how it fits into that thesis. But he never specifically answered, “Why Better.com?” The fintech itself noted that it has been an Amazon Web Services customer since 2015 and that its loan-origination system is entirely software-driven. A very quick Google search from TC senior reporter Rebecca Szutkak turned up at least two other online mortgage lenders that are also AWS customers, so surely the retail giant had other options.
Furthermore, the idea of giving employees the option of using vested equity to buy a home…doesn’t sound very appealing. What if the value of the shares fall? How does this work? Who even has enough underlying equity to use it as collateral? On top of that, Better.com says it will charge a higher interest rate of 0.25% to 2.5% for employees who choose to buy homes this way. Mortgage interest rates are already pretty high these days – hovering around 6%. Attacking another 2.5% pushes one into the 8% range. Needless to say, we’re all very curious to see how this ends and I plan to check back in about a few months.
Meanwhile, speaking of Better.com’s SPAC filing, HousingWire reported last week that “blank-check firm Aurora Acquisition Corp. has missed a deadline for the third time to complete its merger with struggling digital mortgage lender Better.com.” The deadline for the merger is now September. Filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show that the decision was taken during Arora’s shareholder meeting held on February 24.
The notion that Better.com, which has received so much blowout and so much negative publicity, could actually go public in an environment where even companies that are growing and sharing positive financial metrics is hard to believe. . I, for one, am very curious how the company is doing.
To hear the Equity team’s thoughts on the Amazon/Better.com partnership (and much more!), listen to the podcast here. And while you’re at it, tune in to my one-on-one conversation with Index Ventures partner and fintech lead Mark Goldberg. We talked a lot about fintech and Mark didn’t hold back! Oh, and ICYMI, I also talked to Hans Tung, Managing Partner of GGV, a few weeks back. You can catch that very interesting corner here.
Romain Delet reports: “All-in-one fintech app Revolut has released its annual report for 2021. While 2021 ended more than a year ago, the report includes some key figures as the company nearly tripled its revenue between 2020 and 2021. Because in this explosive growth trajectory, the UK Digital Bank reached profitability for the first time. Revolut’s financial success starts at the top of the funnel. At the end of 2021, Revolut had over 16 million customers, representing a 46% increase compared to 2020.
Last week, we wrote about Klarna’s momentum in the U.S. This week, the Swedish payments giant revealed it expects to return to profitability this year, despite incurring a sizeable ($1 billion) operating loss in 2022. In this piece, Alex Wilhelm asks, “How far is Klarna making progress toward profitability?” He wrote: “The formerly publicly traded startup has faced a tough few quarters. From a sharp slide in its valuation to layoffs, the news surrounding Klarna has been negative for some time. Now that we have the company’s financials data, we can see in more detail how it performed amidst all the noise.
Ayesha Malik reports: “DoorDash is launching its first credit card with Chase. The DoorDash Rewards Mastercard will offer cardholders cash back on delivery and the opportunity for every second purchase made with the card … The launch of the new credit card indicates … reflects that DoorDash is looking for ways to increase customer loyalty and keep its platform at the forefront of its users’ minds. This move also gives DoorDash the ability to offer additional features to users while opening up new avenues for revenue.”
Carly Page reports: “Hatch Bank, a digital-first bank that provides infrastructure for fintech companies offering its own brand credit cards, confirmed hackers found a zero-day vulnerability in the company’s internal file transfer software.” exploited a vulnerability that allowed thousands of customers access to Social Security. Number.
London-based Wise, formerly called TransferWise, launched two new products in the US – Wise Business Card and sending money with a link. It also revealed a new brand look that it says “draws inspiration from its 16 million customers around the world.” The company also told me via email that since going public on the LSE in July 2021, its global client base has grown by about 6 million.
Amsterdam-based payments giant Adyen claims it has become the first globally to embed the Click to Pay experience into its online checkout flow. Via email, a spokesperson told me: “When making purchases online, most ‘guest shoppers’ are manually typing in their card details to make purchases.” According to the spokesperson, the Click to Pay feature is “an innovative way of making online payments that combats the risk of drop-offs at the checkout stage” with features such as making checkout simpler, more secure (primary account number is not typed in), etc. at checkout and the shopper receives a one-time password), and being universal in that it can be used across both devices and browsers. more here.
PYMNTS.com reports: “San Francisco-based financial services platform Modern Treasury is introducing a product called ‘Global ACH’, which it bills as ‘a new payment service’ that compares to alternatives such as SWIFT, using local Enables low-cost cross-border transfers in the U.S. Payments Rail. To launch Global ACH, Modern Treasury is partnering with Silicon Valley Bank … offers several advantages’ including that it is less expensive than Swift and other third-party options.
After we covered Stripe’s Tap to Pay news last week, PayPal got in touch with us to tell us it had launched Tap to Pay on Android in the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden in May 2022. It has since been launched in additional European markets. Here is the release announced for our UK launch on 5th May, 2022. It is also working with Apple on Tap to Pay, which was reported by Ivan Mehta in November.
Do you know there is a neobank targeting doctors? Panacea Financial describes itself as a “bank built by doctors, for doctors.” Via email, a company spokesperson told me: “To help other doctors with similar needs and more because of one young doctor’s car accident and another’s hope to refinance his over $300,000 student loan The panacea was created.”
Greenlight offers new workplace financial benefits designed for families
Public.com Announces That High Yield “Treasury Accounts Are Now Available To Everyone”
Robinhood Wallet Now Available to All iOS Customers Globally
Wealthfront introduces stock investing
STEP launches stock investing for teens and young adults
Mexican BNPL startup Kuesky disburses 10 million loans to over 1.8 million consumers
chatgpt learns fintech
First Fidelity Bank Enters the BaaS Space with Episode Six Partnership
Funding and M&A
spotted on techcrunch
Insurtech giant Equisoft invests $125M, acquires Eye
Born from drone technology, InsureTech Flock raises $38M Series B to power commercial drivers to safety
Pagos raises $34M as demand for ‘payment intelligence’ rises
Spade turns credit card transaction obscurity into clear, actionable data
Vero, Stripe said it is raising new funds at very low valuations
Highway Benefits Raises $3.1M in Seed Funding
SoftBank leads Series A for Chilean startup RankMe, which merges with Mexican payroll provider Osmos
TTV Capital closes Fund VI of $250 million to invest in early-stage fintechs
fintechs that are hiring
The good news is that I have been inundated with DMs and emails from people letting me know that their fintech company is hiring. The bad news is that I can’t include them all in this week’s newsletter. So if you get in touch and don’t see your company here, check out upcoming editions of The Interchange. I’m making my way down the list!
Corporate expense management (and fully remote) company Airbase, which last July received $150 million in debt financing from Goldman Sachs, is hiring in about 18 roles. Wealthfront, which landed $69.7 million from UBS last year after a planned merger struck a deal valued at $1.4 billion, has 17 open positions in engineering, design, marketing, finance and others. SmartAsset, a marketplace that connects consumers with financial advisors and raised $110 million in Series D round funding in June of 2021 at a unicorn valuation, is hiring for multiple remote roles. Alternative investment platform iCapital, which has over $150 billion AUM, says it is hiring for 100 roles. Fintech-focused communications agency KCD PR is recruiting and has many open positions with plans to add 3–5+ roles in 2023.
Thinking of attending Disrupt this year? We would be happy to have you! But FYI, this is your last chance for super-early-bird tickets. That’s it for this week! I’m going to enjoy the 70-something-degree weather here in Austin for as long as I can. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend – see you next time. xoxoxo, mary ann