The Week in Review

The Week in Review

Friday January 15, 2020 –

Here are the new and noteworthy stories we have been following this week.

Intercontinental Exchange’s Cryptocurrency Venture to Go Public Through a SPAC

Bakkt is going public via a SPAC (VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings – Victory Park Capital) at a $2.1 billion valuation; the Bakkt app which is expected to launch in March will allow people to mange, trade, and pay with their digital assets including bitcoin, loyalty points, and reward programs.

Walmart Announces Creation of New Fintech Startup

Walmart is collaborating with Ribbit Capital to create a new fintech startup “to develop and offer modern, innovative and affordable financial solutions” for its customers and associates; the new fintech company will be majority-owned by Walmart and is expected to be built through partnerships and acquisitions of other fintech companies.

Pakistan government announces new instant digital payment system

Pakistan has announced a new government-run instant digital payment system called “Raast” that will help drive financial inclusion and increase government revenue; the new digital payments system has been developed through a multi-year collaboration between the State Bank of Pakistan and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with support from the World Bank, Britain, and the United Nations.

Citizens Deepens Point-of-Sale Financing Offering with Launch of Citizens Pay

Citizens is expanding its POS financing program (now rebranded as ‘Citizens Pay’) to include health and fitness, home improvement, and educational products and services; the program is targeted at merchants to help them drive sales through the provision of a virtual line of credit to their customers.

Visa abandons takeover of Plaid after DOJ raises antitrust concerns

Visa said that it is ending the acquisition of Plaid (based upon mutual agreement) after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust lawsuit on grounds that it would limit competition in the payments industry; a year ago, almost to the day Visa had announced that it is acquiring Plaid for $5.3 billion.

Atlanta startup Qoins raises $1.5M to expand savings platform

Atlanta-based startup Qoins that rounds up change to pay down debt has raised $1.5 million in its first institutional investment round led by Front Row Fund with participation from Rise of the Rest, Carolina FinTech Ventures, Rebel One, and Service Provider Capital; Qoins will use the funding to expand its platform to encompass financial wellness and double its staff.

Max Levchin’s Affirm pops nearly 100% in market debut

Affirm’s stock had a stellar reception rising almost 100% as the company went public with its shares priced at $49 at the open and closing at $97.24; Affirm raised $1.2 billion in its IPO at a valuation of $23 billion.

ECB fields record response to consultation on digital euro

The European Central Bank (ECB) has received over 8,000 responses to its consultation on the creation of a digital euro; an initial analysis of raw data shows that privacy of payments ranked the highest among the requested features of a potential digital euro (41% of replies), followed by security (17%), and pan-European reach (10%).

Rapyd Raises $300M in Series D Funding

Rapyd a Fintech-as-Service and payments company has raised $300 million in Series D financing at a $2.5 billion valuation; Rapyd will use the funds to double the engineering and product teams, expand the “Self-Service” element of the platform, and grow in core markets that serve B2C and B2B e-commerce payments, marketplace, and financial services businesses.

PayPal becomes first foreign firm in China with full ownership of payments business

PayPal has acquired the 30% stake it did not already own in China’s GoPay effectively becoming the first foreign firm with full ownership of a Chinese payments company; PayPal intends to provide cross-border payment solutions to Chinese merchants and consumers, linking China’s commerce ecosystem to PayPal’s global network.

Upgrade launches checking accounts and debit cards

Upgrade is launching a digital checking account and debit card to complement its lending and credit card business; the value proposition includes rewards on debit card usage with Upgrade taking a holistic customer relationship management approach with the credit products subsidizing some of the debit rewards.

Goldman Sachs Inches Closer to Offering Marcus Checking Accounts

Goldman is gearing up to launch Marcus checking accounts and will be working with Marqeta to support debit card issuer processing (Visa will be the network brand); Goldman is reportedly looking to generate $125 billion in new consumer deposits.