Welcome to The Interchange! Thanks for signing up and giving us your vote of confidence. Every week, I’ll curate the best fintech news from around the web – from funding rounds to trends, company updates and more. Keep informed by subscribing here. It’s my job to stay on top of it all so you don’t have to! — Mary Ann
Happy New Year! It’s been a while since I wrote this newsletter, and I’m excited to be back!
I hope you all had a great holiday! Ours was low-key and I’m still getting back into work mode. Apologies in advance if I’m not as sharp as usual!
Friday saw Doorstead’s $21.5M Series B raise get the most reads on the site, showing interest in proptech investments. It offers full-service property management with a guarantee of minimum rent and an 8% fee; if it can’t hit its mark, they cover the difference while any extra goes to homeowners. This system reduces vacancy time and increases rental income for owners – no surprise that Knox Financial Boston assets were acquired by Doorstead in 2021! To hear more about this model check out Equity Podcast crew’s thoughts here. We’ll likely be seeing more startup acquisitions like this over 2023.
We interviewed GGV Capital’s Hans Tung and Robin Li during Q4. With $9.2 billion in AUM, GGV invests in seed to growth stage startups across consumer, internet, enterprise/cloud and fintech sectors. Highlights include Tung’s outlook on down rounds not being a death sentence – he prefers them over shutdowns as the outcome matters most! He also shared advice for his portfolio companies; Li discussed why embedded fintech will remain hot.
Tung anticipates an increase in down rounds in 2023, as startups that raised capital in 2021 run low on funds. There’s no need to be embarrassed; the valuations were previously exaggerated and any downward adjustments this year are more accurate and defendable.
Doorstead co-founders Ryan Waliany (CEO) and Jennifer Bronzo (COO) provide innovative housing solutions. Image Credits: Doorstead.
Ryan Waliany and Jennifer Bronzo, co-founders of Doorstead, are revolutionizing the housing industry with their creative solutions. Image Credits: Doorstead.
Greenlight Level Up launched on January 6, combining interactive curriculum-based financial literacy with the digital gaming loved by younger generations. Kids can now earn virtual coins and XP as they learn real-life money lessons via dynamic graphics, story-driven gameplay, and animations – taking gamification to a whole new level. This isn’t a new concept though: last year Truist (one of the nation’s largest financial institutions) acquired fintech startup Long Game in its aim to attract more young customers.
BaaS startup Synctera has partnered with Wahed, a digital Islamic investment platform that describes itself as the world’s first halal investment app. The collaboration will make Wahed’s services available to 3.5 million Muslim Americans and offer them bank accounts, funds transfers and debit cards linked to its app. Synctera CEO Peter Hazlehurst is excited about helping launch banking products for U.S customers: “We expect to see mission-driven companies embracing embedded banking.” As more fintechs tailor their offerings towards specific demographics like Hispanics, Blacks or Asian Americans – only time will tell if niche focus pays off!
Mendoza Ventures, a Boston-based, female and Latinx-founded fintech, AI, and cybersecurity VC firm announced their third fund at $100 million. Without providing numbers on the current close’s amount raised so far they said it would prioritize diverse founding teams. Bank of America led the initial close with participation from Grasshopper Bank plus other undisclosed investors – a noteworthy move towards elevating diverse founders!
Victoria Treyger of Felicis Ventures predicts fintech opportunities in her TechGround guest post. Charles Birnbaum of Bessemer Venture Partners believes FedNow launching mid-2023 will drive faster payments adoption, enabling modern infrastructure for payroll, insurance disbursements and more. He’s still bullish on institutional blockchain tech adoption in financial services – SWIFT experimenting with CBDCs and banks joining USDF Consortium to facilitate value transfers via bank tokenized deposit stablecoins.
Mercuryo, a crypto-focused startup that has developed a cross-border payments network, recently launched their BaaS solution. It provides users with the ability to manage both banking and crypto accounts through one platform. According to company representatives who emailed me in June 2021, this makes it easier for traditional banks to offer customers crypto accounts and for cryptocurrency platforms to open bank accounts that enable fiat/crypto storage, transfers and payments.
It was exciting to see Altro, a startup I covered last year, make Time’s Best Inventions of 2022 list. Last May they raised $18 million to expand their mission: helping people build credit with digital subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify. I love how their inclusive efforts are shaking up the outdated U.S. credit score system!
Last week, Darrell Etherington and Becca Szkutak sat down with Brex co-founder and co-CEO Henrique Dubugras to discuss why he and Pedro Franceschi launched their corporate card company, how they became friends as teenagers online, and why they decided to share the CEO role.
Stripe isn’t open about pay, according to Comprehensive.io’s Pay Transparency Tracker. There are no salary ranges listed in their CA or NYC job postings – but did you know a strategic account executive at Bolt can make up to $462K OTE/year!? (That’s enough to shock Kevin from Home Alone!)
Suhail Sameer, BharatPe’s CEO, is set to depart this week as the Indian fintech firm maneuvers after ousting its founder over alleged misuse of company funds. (Manish Singh reporting).
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Fundings and M&A
U.S. fintech has yet to see many sizeable megarounds, but India’s recent weeks saw two substantial raises in the field: TechGround’s Manish Singh reports on these deals.
Indian fintech Money View has achieved a $900 million valuation after its new funding round.
Indian fintech Kreditbee has achieved a valuation of nearly $700 million in its latest funding round.
In South Korea, fintech firm Toss achieved a valuation of $7 billion, an impressive figure.
South Korean financial super app Toss closed its $405M Series G round, seeing a 7% increase in valuation.
TG+ reports on multiple funding deals, such as:
Gynger emerges from stealth to provide companies with cash for software upgrades.
and make it easier for people to invest in them.
Fintech Vint wants to enable mainstream investment in wine and spirits, making it simpler than ever before.
Mexico’s Aviva fintech is making loans easy – just a video call away.
“The business is doing well, and the profits are up.”
“Business thriving with increased profits.”
of its financial services
Saudi fintech start-up Manafa has raised $28 million to expand its suite of financial services. The funding will enable the company to accelerate product development and increase market penetration.
It’s a new year, and I’m determined to remain positive. Last year was hard, but there’s still so much good news that we can be grateful for. My wish for 2023 is resilience and optimism – while we can’t always control what life throws at us, how we react is up to us! Thank you all for your support; I appreciate it and am here with open arms if you ever need feedback or just someone to talk to. Until next week…xoxo Mary Ann