October 19, 2021
Image: Tomas Eidsvold/Unsplash
Hello and welcome to Protocol | Fintech! This Tuesday: a bitcoin futures ETF, the SEC's GameStop report, and Square's bitcoin mining plans.
First, some details: It's the bitcoin futures ETF from ProShares, and it's called Bitcoin Strategy ETF.
People have been waiting a long time for a bitcoin ETF. "Crypto ETFs are another step towards truly mainstream adoption and integration of crypto into our economy," said Tom Loverro, general partner at IVP, which has invested in Coinbase.
And the SEC is (more) comfortable with this bitcoin futures ETF than with one that actually holds bitcoin. Commission Chair Gary Gensler indicated in August that he considers the idea safer, with more investor protections, than the alternative.
But it's very much Buyer Beware. Retail investors don't have the sophistication to take full advantage of futures ETFs, analysts say.
Still, it's good news for bitcoin. Investors and analysts believe the ProShares ETF and more that come later could draw more attention and interest to bitcoin specifically and crypto generally. And the very existence of the new bitcoin ETF is generating speculation that an actual bitcoin ETF based on spot prices could eventually be approved.
Effecting and making trades doesn't just happen automatically. To withstand the rigor and speed of the retail investor revolution, you need a strong technological backbone to power the market. Apex Fintech Solutions is a leader in the fintech space, providing the infrastructure upon which some of the world's top digital trading platforms operate.
Business is more global than ever, but cross-border payments remain mired in older systems. Can new technologies leapfrog the past? At an event on Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. PT, Protocol | Fintech will bring together experts in consumer and business payments to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead. RSVP here.
Braintrust is putting the freelance job market on the blockchain. The decentralized network maintained by six different software companies matches employers and freelancers using cryptocurrency and a community-based review system.
How N26 is preparing for U.S. regulations. N26 U.S. General Manager Stephanie Balint says the Berlin-based neobank is drawing lessons from its European experience. The neobank just raised $900 million at a $9 billion valuation.
NY's attorney general is investigating crypto lending platforms. Two unnamed companies have been ordered to cease and desist operations for residents of New York. Three other companies have been ordered to provide information.
"If a company has to revise or restate prior financial reporting b/c numbers are faulty, executives shouldn't benefit." — SEC Chair Gary Gensler is cracking down on erroneously awarded executive compensation.
"If you look at our footprint today, it's much more distributed and, in five to 10 years, it will be even more distributed. We'll have many more people in other cities in the United States and other cities across Europe and Asia and will be less concentrated." — Goldman Sachs Chief Operating Officer John Waldron on the pandemic's impact on the Wall Street giant.
What fintech trend are you most excited about?
I am most excited by companies that are opening up possibilities for small businesses to thrive. It's been exciting to witness the rapid creation and adoption of technologies like mobile payments and simple accounting and banking solutions. By digitizing the entire way small businesses operate, they are able to be more flexible, save money and focus on what they love doing most, building their businesses.
What problem would you like to see a fintech company solve?
I would like more fintech companies to build products that positively impact groups that are underserved, whether that's health insurtech companies building products that make it easier for underserved and minority communities to access care or fintech solutions that help small businesses become more efficient and therefore more profitable. I want to see businesses become more focused on building highly successful, technologically advanced companies that also do important and good things for the world around them.
What was your first tech or fintech job?
At the time we didn't call it "fintech" or "insurtech," but I was the vice president of finance and then chief marketing officer of Esurance. We were completely reinventing how people could access auto insurance through an easy-to-use, online experience. After my 13-year tenure at Esurance, I saw the impact that technology made on the personal lines side of insurance. This ultimately led me to take that tech experience and build a company that would do the same, if not more, for commercial insurance.
Klarna is making key changes amid U.K. regulatory scrutiny. The buy now, pay later company will start implementing stronger credit checks and add clearer language to let users know that they are taking out a loan and they may be penalized for missing a payment.
The SEC released its much-awaited report on GameStop. The regulator said the GameStop trading frenzy in January "tested the capacity of our markets" and laid out key areas that merit further investigation.
Square may develop a clean-energy bitcoin mining system.CEO Jack Dorsey said the system, if it happens, would be "based on custom silicon and open source for individuals and businesses worldwide."
Nik Storonsky set up a family office in London. The Revolut founder created Storonsky Family Ltd. to handle his $7 billion fortune.
Juni raised $52 million. The U.K.-based ecommerce software company's Series A round was led by EQT Ventures.
Deel raised $425 million. The payroll and management software company's Series D round was led by Coatue. The company is now valued at $5.5 billion.
Zopa raised $300 million. The U.K.-based neobank's funding round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.
Projected transaction value of B2B domestic payments in 2023, up from $49 trillion in 2021, according to Juniper Research.
It's that adaptability that keeps clients loyal to Apex, and helps them grow in the highly competitive and turbulent world of democratized finance. As of June 2021, 11 million of Apex's customers were aged 18-40 — but as others start to see the potential in this new and growing space, they're starting to jump in.