Weekly Update

TFU | Apr. 6 – 19

Leading Off

PayPal, Intuit, and Square were approved to disburse emergency small business loans under the coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program; Google is reportedly developing a debit card; Libra reapplied for regulatory approval in Switzerland, presenting a “scaled back” version of its proposed cryptocurrency; the FSB outlined new guidance for global regulation of stablecoins; Ant Financial launched OpenChain, a open source blockchain platform for developers; and Stripe raised an additional $600M at a $36B valuation.


In the News

Fintech firms approved to participate in PPP…  PayPal, Intuit, and Square were approved to provide emergency loans under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of Congress’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. As banks face a crunch due to the high volume of PPP requests, fintechs have presented a viable alternative for quick loans and cash advances. 

Google is developing a debit card.  According to TechCrunch, which obtained leaked photos of the card and app, Google is planning to roll out physical and virtual debit cards, similar to the credit card Apple launched last year. The Google card reportedly will be “co-branded with different bank partners, including CITI and Stanford Federal Credit Union,” and highlights the continued movement of Big Tech into financial services.

Libra gets revamped, re-submitted to FINMA.  The Libra Association reapplied to Switzerland’s financial regulator for approval to be a licensed payments service provider, presenting a “scaled-back” version of its Libra token. After facing scrutiny from regulators around the world, Libra will instead offer stablecoins “backed by single currencies” rather than a mix of currencies as originally intended. 

FSB offers guidance on stablecoin regulation.  The Group of 20 (G-20) encouraged its members to “plug gaps” in their regulatory frameworks and prevent stablecoins from undermining global financial stability, with the Financial Stability Board (FSB) outlining 10 recommendations for a common, international approach to regulating stablecoins.

Ant Financial launches OpenChain platform.  The Chinese fintech giant’s OpenChain is aimed at helping small companies and developers build products using “leading blockchain technologies developed by Ant.” Ant boasts the “largest productivity blockchain platform in China” and “has topped the global ranking for blockchain patent applications for the past three consecutive years.”

Stripe raises $600M at a $36B valuation.  The fintech payments firm raised an additional $600 million in an extension of its Series G round. Stripe has seen further growth as Covid-19 pushes more retailers to expand their online presence, and it plans to use the new funding to “continue investing in product development . . . global expansion and strategic initiatives.” 

Robinhood closes in on new funding, $8B valuation.  Led by Sequoia Capital, Robinhood reportedly is raising more than $200 million in new funding, which would value the firm at $8 billion. The company has raised more than $900 million to date, and was last valued at $7.6 billion after a late-stage round last summer. Despite recent outages, its business has remained strong amid the market downturn. 

SoFi acquires Galileo for $1.2B.  The consumer financial services platform purchased the payments and bank account infrastructure company for $1.2 billion in cash and stock. SoFi’s expects that Galileo “will help power its expanding suite of finance products and offer it another revenue source outside of consumer services.”

Onfido raises $100M.  The London-based, AI-powered identity verification platform announced a funding round of $100 million led by U.S. investment firm TPG Growth. Onfido will use the money to continue to expand into new markets (including growing its U.S. presence), develop a new internet identity layer, and develop new services to support activities like online voting.

Moven endorses Varo ahead of account closures.  As it prepares to shut down its consumer services amid a shift to enterprise software customers, New York-based digital bank Moven is recommending that its retail customers switch their accounts to Varo Money. Moven was initially planning to spin off its digital bank, but the Covid-19 pandemic impacted its funding and forced a change in strategy.


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