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Jamie Dimon is trash-talking fintechs. Again.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is worried about fintechs.

Hello and welcome to Protocol | Fintech! This Friday: Plaid gives the JPMorgan CEO one more reason to worry, Oracle's new strategy for banks and a downside of digital cash.

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The Big Story

Best frenemies

Big news from Plaid and JPMorgan Chase hit on the same day this week. And they highlight the tensions between the Old Guard and the Young Turks of finance.

Plaid announced Wednesday that it raised another $425 million in funding, boosting its valuation to $13.4 billion. News of the monster round had just hit the wires when JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon warned shareholders in his annual letter: Fintech is becoming a bigger threat.

Plaid's solo run is paying off. Plaid's huge funding news comes just a few months after its blockbuster merger with Visa collapsed when the Justice Department moved to block the deal, saying it was anti-competitive.

  • The breakup is now clearly a lucky break for Plaid, whose new valuation is more than double Visa's $5.3 billion offer.
  • Plaid's series D round, which was led by Altimeter Capital, is also a strong sign that fintech is hot. The new valuation shows "the acceleration of fintech over the past 12 months," Mark Batsiyan, partner and chief operating officer at Inspired Capital, told Protocol.

So what's Dimon worried about? The JPMorgan boss told shareholders that banks are "playing an increasingly smaller role in the financial system."

  • He argues that it's largely because of Big Tech including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, which have been expanding more financial services to their customers, effectively bypassing traditional institutions. (It's not tech, but Dimon also mentioned Walmart, which recently unveiled a big fintech offensive.)
  • In January, Dimon also called out "people who improperly use data that's been given to them, like Plaid." He was talking about the raging battle between Wall Street and fintechs over who should control consumers' financial data.

Can banks and fintechs get along? Yes, actually. Despite Dimon's warning, big banks forging partnerships with fintechs is now fairly common.

  • There was a time when fintechs "saw themselves as sort of anti-banks," but that's changing in "an era of a lot of collaboration," Arvind Purushotham, global head of venture investing at Citi Ventures, told Protocol.
  • Of course, the giants of financial services can also look to M&A to take those collaborations to a different level, as Visa demonstrated when it tried to buy Plaid. There are many "win-win scenarios" for banks and fintechs, Purushotham said.

Is there some hypocrisy here? JPMorgan recently invested in fintech startups like Axoni and Zanbato and reportedly is preparing to take Marqeta public. And the bank and Plaid signed a data-sharing agreement in 2018. If Dimon really thinks fintech is a problem, maybe his bankers haven't gotten the memo.

A MESSAGE FROM EARLY WARNING®

The disruptions of COVID-19 are driving banks to more digital account openings which creates opportunities for accelerating application fraud — and creates urgent new challenges for financial institutions. In this white paper, Early Warning® and Aite Group reveal how fraudsters exploit digital account opening and how banks can fight back.

Read the white paper

Overheard

  • "It fuels bull markets and it exacerbates bear markets and to a certain extent you put it on the list of irrational exuberance."Edward Yardeni, president of consulting firm Yardeni Research, on the trend of investors borrowing funds to buy stocks.
  • "We were in a pretty lucky position to have a lot of interest from many of the top fintech companies that are out there." Pillar co-founder Michael Bloch on Acorn's acquisition of the student loan management startup.
  • "Our employees asked for flexibility and that's what we're giving them."Jim MacDougall, vice president of people at Revolut, on the company's decision to allow employees to work overseas for up to two months each year.
  • "A necessary consequence of any CBDC would be to shift money out of bank deposits and into cash — in this case, digital cash. As a result, those deposits would no longer fund bank loans, which are the primary asset of banks, as well as Treasuries and other assets."Gregory Baer, CEO of the Bank Policy Institute, in a working paper on central bank digital currencies.

3 Questions With...

Sonny Singh, executive vice president and general manager, Oracle Financial Services

What fintech trends do you find exciting?

A lot of these fintechs were born in the cloud, with the ability to use all the transformation technologies that are being invented on the fly. We've seen technology adoption happen very rapidly. We've seen social technologies, mobility, big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence. … These are very transformational technologies and when you are born in the cloud, you have no legacy to worry about. You can actually take advantage of these. What's exciting about fintechs is their ability to take all these technologies very rapidly, these traditional business models and create new ones, thereby forcing a lot of financial institutions to up their game as well.

What fintech trend do you find most disturbing?

They're becoming easy conduits for financial crime. We do have a large amount of money that gets laundered through the financial services ecosystem. And as these companies are coming up, they're [potentially] creating new avenues for bad actors to move their money illegally through the system. … That technology is vulnerable to misuse by bad actors.

What's been your biggest professional blunder and what did you learn from it?

We believed there was a huge opportunity in transforming banks, helping them replace their systems that are aging and that were installed 30 years ago, and desperately needed to come up to speed. Our biggest challenge was that initially we took a kind of all-or-nothing approach. When the global financial crisis happened, basically, a lot of the discretionary money that banks had to do those types of transformations disappeared. They went into survival mode. What I learned from that is they want to be able to absorb change in bite-sized pieces. We had to go back to the drawing board and redefine how we were architecting our core banking system.

Need to Know

  • Ramp raised $115 million. The investments led by D1 Capital Partners and Stripe boosted the spend management startup's valuation to $1.6 billion.
  • Goldman Sachs' Marcus is reportedly losing key tech talent. Insider says that a grinding workload and a drift away from the consumer-finance unit's startup-like culture is to blame.
  • TrueLayer raised $70 million. The open banking service company's series D round was led by Addition.
  • Paymob raised $18.5 million. The Egypt-based payments software company's series A round was led by Global Ventures.
  • Dwolla rolled out real-time payments. The Iowa-based payments infrastructure company said its instant payment option can send money directly to a bank in seconds.
  • Avant bought Zero Financial. The Chicago-based financial services company said it has acquired Zero and its neobank, Level, as it hopes to expand services to underbanked consumers.

A MESSAGE FROM EARLY WARNING®

The disruptions of COVID-19 are driving banks to more digital account openings which creates opportunities for accelerating application fraud — and creates urgent new challenges for financial institutions. In this white paper, Early Warning® and Aite Group reveal how fraudsters exploit digital account opening and how banks can fight back.

Read the white paper

Thanks for reading — see you Tuesday.

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