April 22, 2022
Photo: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Good morning, and welcome to Protocol Fintech. This Friday: crypto’s disunited front, Anchorage hit on money laundering, and the persistence of Web 2.5.
Guess who I ran into the other day? Chris Lehane, whose Web3 career guessing game provided this newsletter scribe considerable entertainment earlier this year. It’s still early days at Haun Ventures, his new crypto-VC home, but you can listen to him and Niki Christoff, another sharp policy mind, talk about what crypto execs are getting wrong about Washington on a recent episode of Laura Shin’s “Unchained” podcast. (Spoiler: Almost everything!)— Owen Thomas (email | twitter)
In ditching the Blockchain Association, Binance.US said, “It’s time we had a clear voice.” But the weakening of the industry’s key lobbying group makes it muddier than ever to define who speaks for crypto in Washington.
The American arm of the world’s biggest crypto exchange now has to spin up its own government-affairs team — no easy feat when everyone else is trying to line up financial regulatory experts — at the exact moment when the industry is reeling from major regulatory challenges.
Good luck; have fun! Binance.US said it will do its own lobbying and set up its own team “to actively engage in direct and constructive dialogue with U.S. policymakers.”
Crypto’s biggest players are going it alone. Losing a crypto powerhouse like Binance.US is another blow to the Blockchain Association, the 4-year-old organization that has played a leading advocacy role for crypto in Washington.
Whatever happened to peace, love and crypto? Sure, blockchains are decentralized, but community is supposed to be a big part of what makes crypto works.
Welcome to the disunited state of crypto. Crypto is going through raging debates on how products should be defined and how the market should be regulated. And big swings in digital asset prices continue to unsettle the market. “Until there is stability in crypto market value or in how crypto is used in the financial system,” Fasanello said, “uniformity within the lobby will not be easily achieved.”— Benjamin Pimentel (email | twitter)
M&A and workforce reorganization can create a wealth of opportunities for companies seeking rapid growth, transformation and market expansion. In fact, 47% of executives say pursuing corporate M&As, joint ventures and alliances is their top growth driver in 2022. Unfortunately, nearly half of executives say talent acquisition and retention challenges are the biggest obstacle.
On Protocol: Anchorage Digital failed to comply with anti-money laundering rules, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency found. The crypto custodian agreed to take corrective measures to strengthen internal controls.
Plaid’s co-founder built a bank. Well, sort of, if you don’t count the single-branch bank William Hockey bought for its charter and access to payment networks. Column will focus on serving financial-app developers, competing with fintech-oriented banks like Cross River.
PayPal is raising rates for instant transfers. PayPal and Venmo users will generally see higher rates, and the company is also lifting some fee caps.
Marqeta rolled out a new fraud-fighting service. Klarna is a customer for the service, for which “real-time decisioning” is a key feature.
PayU is expanding in Latin America. It bought Ding and led a $46 million round in Treinta, a Colombian financial super app.
Tron is getting its own stablecoin, with crypto reserves. Tron founder Justin Sun said USDD would be backed with $10 billion in crypto.
Commerzbank is applying for a crypto license from Germany’s BaFin. It’s seeking to offer crypto exchange and custody services.
Old banking tech frustates entrepreneurs like Brex co-founder Henrique Dubugras. “Every time we partner with a bank, the bank can be a little bit better or a little bit worse, but they all use the same tech stack,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
Coinbase’s CEO isn’t completely happy with its NFT launch. “We're stuck in a web 2.5 world still, moving toward web3,” Brian Armstrongtweeted about the marketplace’s social component.
It hasn’t been an easy 2022 for Coinbase. Shares have dropped more than 40% since the beginning of the year. New product launches like the NFT marketplace haven’t done much to lift the stock, and its entrance into India turned into embarrassment when it abruptly stopped taking rupee deposits over the nation’s payments network. First-quarter results, set to be announced May 10, aren’t likely to provide much relief to investors, with the effects of the Ukraine war and gyrating crypto prices in view.
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Thanks for reading — see you Monday!