Henrique Dubugras
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Brex nearly doubles its valuation. Again.

Protocol Fintech

Hello and welcome to Protocol Fintech! This Tuesday: Brex’s big new round, PayPal’s stablecoin plans and Fernish’s California settlement.

Calling card

One of the hot areas of fintech in recent years is spend management — a fancier term for corporate cards and other tools meant to track employee expenses. But a sexy trend can’t sustain the growth plans of an ambitious company with eager investors. So many of these companies have angled to become all-in-one financial services firms for their business customers.

That includes Brex. Founded in 2017, the startup quickly built a tech-friendly business offering corporate cards with digitally managed controls and expense tracking. It’s announcing today a fresh round of funding that’s nearly doubling the valuation it scored just nine months ago.

Spend management is big business. Increasing the efficiency and transparency of customers’ operations can be lucrative.

  • Brex has raised $300 million in Series D-2 funding at a $12.3 billion valuation led by Greenoaks Capital and TCV. It’s now raised more than $700 million total. That’s up from $7.4 billion just nine months ago.
  • Competitors include Ramp, which was last valued at $3.95 billion, and Divvy, which was acquired last year by Bill.com for $2.5 billion in stock and cash.
  • Brex also announced the hire of Karandeep Anand, formerly at Meta, as the company’s new chief product officer. Anand has experience in consumer products through Meta and enterprise through working at Microsoft.

Corporate cards can be used as a perk. Some companies trust all their employees with a card, co-CEO Henrique Dubugras said.

  • This “trust by default” model, with controls that can do things like manage where certain employees can spend, is a shift, he said.
  • There’s a “generational shift” from traditional companies which didn’t trust their employees to startups, where they have more autonomy, he added.

But cards are just the wedge. Brex and its competitors think they can redesign the way companies manage their finances.

  • Brex’s offerings now include business bill pay, business cash management, instant payments and venture debt. With 1,000 employees, the company is trying to go upmarket to bigger companies. It says 60% of its revenue already comes from mid-market companies.
  • Ultimately the goal for Brex is to become a “financial operating system” for companies, Dubugras said.
  • With Brex adding lending by offering venture debt, it has become a financial services company, a kind of Silicon Valley Bank for startups. (SVB, with its Innovators Card, seems to be taking the Brex threat seriously.)
  • Dubugras says that broadening Brex’s offerings is part of his vision but with a software focus, rather than a banking focus.

So will Brex be a software-powered bank, or a finance-driven software company? Most likely, it’s something of both. It withdrew its applications for a bank charter in Utah and for FDIC insurance last year but left the door open to reapply. The broader the range of possibilities, the easier it is for a startup like Brex to sell investors on its potential.

— Tomio Geron


As businesses grow during the pandemic, they also encounter pressing challenges to maintain that success. Among them is the pressure to strengthen their digital backbone, which leads to the question: How can companies find the ideal technology provider suited to their evolving needs?

Learn more

From Protocol | Fintech

The Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT theft shows the ease of hacking crypto. The blockchain puts power in the hands of individual crypto owners — which also makes them targets for criminals.

PayPal is thinking about issuing its own stablecoin. The payments giant is working on the potential launch of its own stablecoin, apparently to be called PayPal Coin according to some lines of software code Bloomberg discovered. The move shows the increasing potential for cryptocurrency to become used in mainstream payments .

Furniture startup Fernish settled with California and agreed to repay customers' late fees. California regulators said the company violated California's financial protection law.


“The average investor should ask himself or herself what do you have in your portfolio that has that kind of track record — number one: is very, very underpenetrated; can provide a service of insurance against financial catastrophe that no one else can provide; and can go up ten times or fifty times. The answer is: nothing.” Investor Bill Miller on why he has become bullish on bitcoin

“The existing global financial infrastructure wasn’t designed for the digital world, it was built for analog. To date, fintech has abstracted it with better APIs. But. despite great abstractions, the infrastructure still creates a massive drag for anyone trying to build in fintech.” Simon Taylor, publisher of Fintech Brain Food

“My biggest business loser for 2022 is Visa and MasterCard and traditional payment rails and the entire ecosystem around it.” Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya predicting the rapid expansion of blockchain-based payments networks.

Three Questions With … Victor Wang, CEO, Stockpile

What fintech trend are you most excited about?

The biggest trend I see is that more people are simply talking and communicating about [their] finances. The amount of general interest is really high. And whether you're a person of color, women, marginalized communities, underrepresented, all those people are much more aware about finance, investing, even crypto.

What fintech trend are you most concerned about?

The biggest concern I have is people making certain financial choices or investing choices that they don't realize does not serve their self-interest — being offered financial choices that are too complicated for them to really understand and make responsible decisions about. Now, there's a lot of functions where debt is embedded into the purchasing process. Overgamification, overindexing on giving too many risky tools to new investors, that's most concerning to me.

What would you like to see a startup build?

The things that I want to see built, we're actually trying to build. One of the things that we talk about is that statistically, the more you trade, the worse you do, right? And the challenge is that when you look at long-term, buy-and-hold investing, the problem is, it's kind of boring, right? And so that's why what we want to do is try to build tools that ultimately serve the customer first.

Need to know

A woman says she co-created $800 million fintech Petal. Cassandra Shih is now suing the company, which is backed by Valar Ventures.

NCino acquired SimpleNexus. The cloud banking company said it completed the acquisition of the homeownership software company for $1.2 billion .

Binance.US is building a metaverse office. The crypto exchange is creating a space through metaverse toolkit Portals which is meant to be a gathering place for its users.

Deal flow

SaaS Capital raised $128 million. The provider of credit facilities to SaaS companies said its fourth fund will continue its strategy of providing growth capital to companies “without the need for management to give up equity or control.”

Goldfinch raised $25 million. The crypto lending software company’s funding round included investments from Andreessen Horowitz and Coinbase Ventures.

More than $4.1 trillion

That’s the projected annual value of transactions made through prepaid cards by 2026, up 75% from $2.3 trillion in 2021, according to Juniper Research.


As businesses grow during the pandemic, they also encounter pressing challenges to maintain that success. Among them is the pressure to strengthen their digital backbone, which leads to the question: How can companies find the ideal technology provider suited to their evolving needs?

Learn more

Thanks for reading — see you Friday.
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