Halftime Heat Check: The Biggest Fintech Headlines of 2020

Two of the biggest stories of 2020 so far – the global public health crisis of COVID-19 and the worldwide resurgence in social justice activism – have had as much impact on the fintech industry as they have the rest of the world.

The mobilization of banks and fintechs to facilitate financing for small businesses, for example, or to offer discounts on their services for essential workers in other industries has been impressive.

And it has been heartening to see companies in the financial technology and services space join with corporations and entrepreneurs in other industries to express their commitment to fighting ethnic discrimination and actively encouraging diversity.

But behind the bright lights of these two, year-defining stories, there have been some pretty impressive fintech-specific headlines that are worth remembering as we dive into the second half of the year. With that in mind, here is our take on the biggest fintech stories from the first half of 2020.

The collapse of Wirecard early this summer was the first major negative headline for the fintech industry this year. What began as an inquiry into a missing $2.1 billion in cash has turned into a major scandal involving the arrest of former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun and talks that the company could become an attractive acquisition target thanks to its relationships with the major card companies.

With Visa’s acquisition of Plaid at the beginning of the year and Mastercard’s purchase of Finicity near 2020’s midway mark, card companies are putting their money where they believe the future of fintech lies: open banking and the leveraging of consumer-permissioned data.

If you had nCino on your bingo card of fintechs most likely to be among the first to go public this year, then you are a luckier soul than most. The news that the Wilmington, North Carolina, Bank Operating System provider is planning an IPO for later this year was a sign that some fintechs still see the public markets as an optimal way to raise capital.

The boost in e-commerce brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic was a major boon for digital payments company Stripe, which raised $600 million this spring, earning a valuation of $36 billion.

Starting as a student loan refinancing company and since expanding its portfolio to include loans, investment products, and debit cards, SoFi made yet another expansion to its product suite with its $1.2 billion acquisition of payments company Galileo.

From the outside, $7.1 billion might be a lot to pay for the ability to help younger consumers better understand and manage their credit. But Intuit’s decision to acquire Credit Karma in the first few months of 2020 may have been an early sign of the sort of consolidation that could await the fintech industry on the other side of COVID-19.

A $500 million Series D round has sent the valuation of U.K.-based fintech Revolut soaring to more than $5.5 billion. Led by Silicon Valley-based VC firm, TCV, the February investment set an optimistic tone for Q1 VC fintech funding before the reality check of the coronavirus set in.

In acquiring Radius Bank for $185 million early this year, P2P lending pioneer LendingClub became the first U.S. fintech to acquire a licensed bank. Boston, Massachusetts-based Radius Bank is an online bank with $1.4 billion in assets.

By mid-year, the rise of the retail trader a la Robinhood and Dave “Stoolpresidente” Portnoy may have become a bit of a cliche. But that only makes Morgan Stanley’s $13 billion acquisition of ETrade – announced back in February – that much more of a prescient move to diversify its online and self-directed customer base beyond the ultra-rich.

FinovateAsia: Innovation in Wealth Management; New Players in Lending

From the arrival of disruption to the shores of the wealth management industry to the eagerness of Asia’s large e-commerce platforms to bring credit to the region’s overlooked consumers and small businesses, Day Three of FinovateAsia Digital continues to provide some of the most insightful commentary on fintech trends in the Asia-Pacific region. Today we share some of the highlights from the third day of our online conference.

Our all-digital event, FinovateAsia Digital, continues all week. Join us live or On Demand and access hours of insightful commentary and conversation on the trends shaping fintech innovation in the Asia-Pacific region. Visit our FinovateAsia Digital hub and register today.

On fintech’s role in creating value at a time of change in the wealth management industry

Connectivity to fintechs is often a high priority when asked to create new and additional value to the client’s overall proposition. When I was a panelist at Finovate in Berlin back in February, I noticed there were few fintechs representing asset management – which is surprising given the tens of trillions of assets which impact every single one of us whether you are investing yourself or someone does it on your behalf.

Why was this sector late to the disruption party? Or was it happening without us noticing? Little did any of us know that, in the following months, asset management, like many other sectors, would experience an acceleration in embracing change and wonder about its relevance and role in the Now and the Next Normal.

— Simone Vroegop, Head of Strategic Partnerships for FinTech, Brown Brothers Harriman

On key insights from case studies in the optimization of fintech solutions in the cloud

You want to be very disciplined when you look at your online architecture, your solution, or any cloud provider’s platform. You don’t want to get distracted by a lot of existing native services, or third party services. That’s great. That’s the nature of the cloud. But you have to be very disciplined, and every time you introduce a component, you have to rationalize it, why you need it, and how to keep this new component that you’re going to introduce as reliable and as efficient as possible.

You also have to have a very rigorous test plan in place. You don’t exercise this plan toward the end, when you have built everything. That could be too late. You want to start doing some of these rigorous tests early on, using either a prototype or proof of concept, so you can mimic some of your market conditions plus your system conditions.

–Harry Tong, Senior Solutions Architect, InterSystems Corporation

On the importance of large e-commerce platforms in Asia’s digital lending landscape

Micro, small, and medium enterprises have traditionally struggled to access capital. Many lack an existing banking relationship or detailed financial record. And obviously incumbent banks in China favor corporate lending as smaller businesses fail to meet their credit check standards. Again, the larger e-commerce platforms have been enthusiastically filling the gap left by inadequate lending from incumbents. And by avoiding all those traditional evaluation processes that require substantial credit history, in favor of more data-based appraisals, platforms have demonstrated to incumbents that they must reform if they wish to compete across that sector of lending and to bring that experience to more businesses.

In rapidly growing countries with populations the size of China’s or India’s, the ability to lend vast sums of money to millions of SMEs places those platforms in a position of really significant power. How incumbents respond to this shift will determine the future of lending in this whole region.

–Louise Beaumont, Chair, Smart Data, Open Banking & Payments Working Groups, techUK

Available both live (Singapore time) and On Demand during the conference week, FinovateAsia Digital is a unique opportunity for those interested in learning more about fintech in the Asia-Pacific region. Browse our all-digital presentations, interviews, and discussions; network with fellow attendees; and gain key insights into the trends driving fintech innovation in critical, emerging markets. Visit our FinovateAsia Digital Hub and register today.

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Binance Acquires Swipe Digital Wallet & Debit Card

Cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance made a major purchase today, acquiring digital wallet and crypto debit card company Swipe. The deal closed for an undisclosed amount.

The aim of the acquisition is to help push the use of cryptocurrencies into the mainstream by encouraging payments with cryptocurrencies through traditional financial systems such as debit cards.

U.K.-based Swipe provides a cryptocurrency banking account that offers a multi-currency mobile wallet, the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, access to exchanges with instant settlements, and a Visa debit card.

Users can pay with their Visa debit card at all 50 million locations across the globe where traditional Visa debit cards are accepted. The card also offers up to 4% cash back (paid in Bitcoin), doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, has built-in security features, and more. The debit card is crypto-to-fiat, meaning the user makes a purchase using cryptocurrency while the merchant receives fiat currency in exchange.

“By giving users the ability to convert and spend crypto directly, and have merchants still seamlessly accept fiat, this will make the crypto experience much better for everyone,” said Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao. “Swipe’s exceptional team has made great strides in furthering this mission and has been instrumental in the industry for bridging the gap between commerce and crypto. The Swipe Wallet alone is unique which acts as a digital bank account for its users, providing access to traditional banking services. We are thrilled to work with a team that shares the same core values and looking forward to our larger efforts ahead.”

Swipe CEO Joselito Lizarondo said that the deal “will place Swipe in the position to make cryptocurrencies more accessible for millions of users worldwide.” He added, “We are excited to work with Binance to continue innovating in this crypto-banking space to further build towards mass adoption on our current and future product lines.”

This is the seventh acquisition Malta-based Binance has made since it was founded in 2017. The company has also purchased CoinMarketCap, BxB, DappReview, and WazirX.

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

Xignite Unveils its Enterprise Microservices Suite

Financial market data distribution and management solutions provider Xignite has launched a new set of market data management services to change the way businesses manage their data in the cloud. Xignite Enterprise Microservices is a suite of solutions that make it easier and more efficient for companies to store, distribute, manage, and control market data.

The microservices approach – embraced by Xignite in this latest offering – provides core functionality via a combination of “loosely coupled, independently deployable components.” Not only can these components work together or separately, but also they can be massively scaled at a very low cost. This compares favorably to legacy systems, which often consist of monolithic platforms that are more expensive, difficult to scale and manage, and typically not used at full capacity.

Xignite Enterprise Microservices runs on Xignite’s cloud-based architecture, which supports 250+ different data sources and 12 billion API calls daily for more than 750 clients in fintech and financial services. The vendor-agnostic solution has already been deployed by fellow Finovate alum NICE Actimize.

“We are incredibly excited to launch Xignite Enterprise Microservices, which we believe will truly revolutionize market data management,” Xignite founder and CEO Stephane Dubois said. “The culmination of over 10 years of nonstop innovation, we have taken the cloud-native architecture that has powered some of the world’s most prominent fintechs and scaled it to meet the unique requirements of institutional players that consume huge amounts of data but often have no way of integrating and optimizing it in an efficient and cost-effective way.”

The suite consists of seven cloud-native microservices tailored for both buy and sell-side firms, fintechs, and exchanges. These include:

  • Data Lake
  • Optimization
  • Entitlements and Usage
  • Reference
  • Historical
  • Real-Time
  • Fundamentals

Headquartered in San Mateo, California, Xignite introduced its data-as-a-service market data solution in 2006, and has been a Finovate alum since 2014. Recently, the company announced that it had enhanced its financial data cloud APIs to streamline delivery of news headlines and company earnings during the global public health crisis. This announcement followed news from the company that it was seeing “record demand” for its financial data during the pandemic.

“The past two-and-a-half months have been difficult both within our industry and in the wider world,” Dubois said. “It is reassuring to know that we’ve been a reliable source for our clients in these trying times. There is enough to worry about right now and nobody wants their market data providers to be a part of that.”

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Canadian Data Aggregator Flinks Raises $11 Million in Funding

Flinks, a startup based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that specializes in data aggregation for financial services, has secured $11 million in Series A funding. The investment was led by NAventures, the VC arm of National Bank of Canada, which also provided $5.2 million in debt financing. Also participating in the round were Intact Ventures, Luge Capital, and Panache Ventures.

Flinks CEO Yves-Gabriel Leboeuf called the investment “timely” adding that the company was “well on track” to meet the goals it has previously set and was now ready to “face new, bigger challenges.” In a Q&A announcement at the company blog, Lebouef explained that, having focused on retail banking up to this moment, the company will look to expand into what he referred to as “wealth data.”

“Flinks will enable connections to data sources in the wealth management space, through a new aggregation service,” Lebouef said. “This is something we’re going to pull off in the near future – in fact, we’re already well into the beta phase.”

Founded in 2016, Flinks helps businesses provide users with the financial services they want. The company’s technology enables companies to connect their customer’s bank accounts, and to leverage data insights to build better, more personalized financial products. Lebouef noted that “roughly 1 in 3 Canadians” have connected their bank accounts with his company, which has processed 300+ million connections.

The investment will help Flinks expand to new markets and take advantage of the opportunities of open banking. Managing Director, Venture Capital, NAventures Philippe Daoust said, “We see great alignment between Flinks’ mission and our own focus on helping our clients manage their finances by providing them with innovative and reliable digital solutions.”

Flinks, which signed its first client in the spring of 2017 and its 100th client a year later, began 2020 by adding Clayton Feick as its new Chief Revenue Officer. Feick is a veteran of Quandl and Thomson Reuters, where he was vice president and global head of sales and business development and global lead, respectively.

Lendio’s Role in Keeping Small Businesses Afloat During COVID

We generally think of healthcare workers, grocery store employees, delivery drivers, and other essential workers as the main heroes of the coronavirus public health crisis. However, there’s one company worth mentioning that has risen to “hero” status for small businesses across the U.S.

That company, Lendio, has been serving small businesses since it launched in 2011 by matching small businesses in need of funding with lenders. After the coronavirus hit and the U.S. Small Business Administration passed the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Lendio became a critical resource for merchants across the nation.

After seeing the mass confusion around different types of relief programs and their application requirements, Lendio quickly created a COVID-19 Relief hub on its website to educate business owners, help them apply for funding, and match them with one of its 300 lender partners.

Since April, Lendio has facilitated $8 billion in PPP loan approvals. The company has also helped more than 100,000 small businesses receive approval for PPP loans of an average size of $73,000. This is a massive increase in production for the Utah-based company which, prior to PPP, had facilitated $2 billion in loan approvals since it began operations nine years ago.

The 100,000+ PPP applications Lendio facilitated offered the company a large amount of data (and insight) into the applicants. The company published an analysis of that data last week. Here are some of the findings:

  • States in the Pacific region received 25% of PPP approvals, while those in the Mountain region received only 9%.
  • States in the Northeast and Pacific regions saw the highest average loan size ($80,518 and $79,507, respectively). The average loan size is lowest in the South Atlantic ($64,064).
  • Women business owners made up 32% of applicants.
  • Businesses in urban areas received 30% of the loans applied for, while suburban businesses received 28%, and rural received 39%.

As for what business owners can expect next, just as with the virus itself, the battle has not been won. “I think the next big market mover is going to be the realization that the PPP program actually had an enormous impact,” Sanders Morris Harris CEO George Ball in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “It worked. It kept the patient alive. But the half-life of the forgivable loans to small businesses comes up pretty soon, comes up mid-July to August.”

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FinovateAsia: Digital Payments, Financial Services, and FutureTech

The second day of FinovateAsia Digital focused on a pair of themes – digital payments and futuretech – that are increasingly intertwined. Both offer solutions to the challenge of liberating consumers and communities from their “cash addiction” by combining industrial applications of the Internet of Things with the processes of the financial services industry. It is clear that the nexus of payments and advanced, enabling technologies is one of the key frontiers of fintech innovation today.

Below are a few insights and observations on these topics from our speakers on Day Two of our conference. And remember, to join our all-digital event – live or On Demand – visit our FinovateAsia Digital hub to register and begin enjoying all the content we have to offer.

On the persistence of cash, and the urgency to bring alternatives to communities that rely on cash

The newspapers are full of stories about how some communities are being left without ATMs, and people are finding it hard to access cash. You can see why that is because as the number of cash transactions falls, the cost of cash infrastructure – not just ATMs, but every shop with its tills and counting up cash and depositing it and vans full of cash driving around all over the place to fill up the ATMs, security guards – all of that infrastructure falls on fewer and fewer transactions, so the per transaction costs goes up.

So how to you protect people who need to work in cash? Well, (innovation in ATMs) seems to me to be an expensive way to do it. The alternative would be to find ways of moving them away from cash, not finding ever more expensive ways of allowing them to continue their cash habit. It’s the people who are trapped in a cash economy that face the highest transaction costs anyway.

–David Birch, Director of Innovation, Consult Hyperion

On the value of artificial intelligence to those business leaders who have implemented the technology

Thirty percent of the (business) leaders who have adopted and integrated artificial intelligence into their business models are very convinced that AI will deliver (on) their core strategic business decisions. So, in other words, 30% of those who have already deployed artificial intelligence believe that artificial intelligence must sit at the core of their deliverables in business strategy.

45% of these leaders invest three times more in this type of technology than the late adopters or the laggards. And 7% of the leaders record more revenues and savings than the late adopters of this technology. So as you can see, these numbers speak volumes. It’s also interesting to understand that these numbers compound over time. And the speed of compounding this growth and acceleration will be translated in a higher market share, better customer deliverables, and improved market reach in different jurisdictions. In other words: stronger business.

— Clara Durodié, Chief Executive, Cognitive Finance Group

On the enabling power of the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 for payments and other financial services

Once we have the ability to connect devices and large industrial systems into financial services we suddenly have interesting opportunities, for example, in enabling real-time payments and machine-to-machine payments. So we are talking about creating a payment ecosystem and financing capabilities based on data streams and digital representations of physical assets in the industrial landscape.

This, of course, opens up a lot of questions. We need to think about, first and foremost, the trust model that has to be established. For example, when you create a digital representation of a physical asset, if we want to give that asset or a machine a payment capability where they are able to exchange value with other machines, we have to define a structure for a machine identity. You could almost argue that we need to establish a “Know Your Machine” process instead of a “Know Your Customer” process.

– Ville Sointu, Head of Emerging Technologies, Nordea Bank

Available both live (Singapore time) and On Demand during the conference week, FinovateAsia Digital is a unique opportunity for those interested in learning more about fintech in the Asia-Pacific region. Browse our all-digital presentations, interviews, and discussions; network with fellow attendees; and gain key insights into the trends driving fintech innovation in critical, emerging markets. Visit our FinovateAsia Digital Hub and register today.

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Chainalysis Raises $13 Million for Crypto Intelligence

Blockchain analysis company Chainalysis is on a mission to promote trust and transparency for cryptocurrencies. Aiding that undertaking today is an additional $13 million in funding to add to its Series B round.

The new investment comes from Ribbit Capital and Sound Ventures and brings Chainalysis’ Series B round to $49 million. The New York-based company’s total funding now stands at almost $67 million.

Chainalysis was founded in 2014 and was recently valued at $266 million, according to Pitchbook. Among its offerings are automated cryptocurrency transaction monitoring software, investigation software for tracing the flow of funds across blockchains, and profiles of cryptocurrency businesses.

As a part of the deal, Chainalysis has gained former Treasury Department official and current Ribbit Capital General Partner Sigal Mandelker as an advisor.

Mandelker and the new funds both play a key role as Chainalysis invests more into the government side of its business. While Chainalysis offers solutions for private sector businesses and financial institutions, the company also works with a handful of U.S. government agencies, including the IRS, the DEA, ICE, and the SEC.

In an interview with blockchain publication The Block, Chainalysis CEO and Co-founder Michael Gronager said, “We extended our Series B in order to meet demand for our services, primarily from government customers. Government agencies understand that visibility into cryptocurrency is important to national security and that crypto crime does not let up during a pandemic. Importantly, this also has long-term benefits to the cryptocurrency industry.”

As transactions move to the digital realm and more countries begin considering CBDCs, Chainalysis is making a smart move in pouring more resources into its government-focused services. Mandelker said she is “excited to work with the Chainalysis team to help develop public-private partnerships, enhance ground-breaking technologies in financial services, and root out illicit networks.”

Photo by Max Langelott on Unsplash

U.S. Challenger Bank Point Secures Series A Funding

U.S. challenger bank Point, which offers a consumer banking app and pledges to provide a “credit card experience” to debit cardholders, announced that it has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Valar Ventures, and featured participation from Y Combinator, Kindred Ventures, Finventure Studio and “business angels.” Company CEO and co-founder Patrick Mrozowski said the challenger bank has raised a total of $12.7 million.

The San Francisco, California-based company has been in private beta “for the past year” plans to launch a major new version of its technology later this year, according to reporting in TechCrunch. In addition to its Point Card debit product – available as both a physical and virtual card – the company offers a Point Checking mobile savings account. The account is backed by FDIC-insured, Point partner Radius Bank, and the challenger bank leverages technology from Finovate alum Plaid in order to link accounts on its platform to a third-party bank account. Point does not charge foreign transaction fees for international transactions, and relies on Mastercard’s exchange rate for overseas transactions.

Users of the Point Card earn points when shopping with popular merchants including Airbnb, Uber, and Starbucks where cardholders can pick up 2x, 3x, and 4x in points respectively for each dollar they spend. Seamless integration between the Card and the app ensure a holistic consumer experience with features including purchase notifications, in-app card management, and rewards tracking.

Previous to his co-founding of Point, Mrozowski founded and ran Crumbs, a micro-investing platform for cryptocurrencies and digital assets that was acquired by Metal Pay two years ago.

FinovateAsia Digital: Startups, Social Distance, and Digital Transformation

How has COVID-19 affected fintechs in the Asia-Pacific region and their ability to grow and expand into new channels and new markets? Who is better positioned – fintechs or banks – when it comes to managing the global health pandemic? What role does the public sector play in supporting fintech innovation in the different countries of the region, and how has the coronavirus impacted those relationships?

In keynote addresses, fireside chats, and roundtables, our fintech experts and analysts began FinovateAsia Digital today with the topic that is most central to everyone fintech right now: what can the fintech industry do now to best prepare for the “New Normal” on the other side of COVID-19?

With a focus on startups and digital transformation, here are a few highlights from some of the day’s conversations from our first, all-digital, Finovate conference. To join us live – or to watch the program On Demand during the conference week – visit our FinovateAsia Digital Hub to register.

On forming partnerships and building relationships between startups and incumbents at a time of social distancing

For us the pre-dominant fact was that we had to move everything online for the very first time. We have always run our programs face-to-face. This is where we believe innovation and magic happens: when people are in the same room and brainstorm together. This has been a great challenge to show our corporates and our startups that this is possible online as well.

It does require a bit more structuring, so that has been keeping us busy as the incubator management team. It’s something we have been focusing on for quite some time: to identify what are the right tools that we are going to use that both engage the startups and the corporates. (Many startups) typically can access Zoom and all those tools. But our corporate partners on the other hand have a bit more of a challenge to bring their businesses online – or even to communicate online.

–Lisa Schroeder, Operations and Progamme Lead, F10

On crisis presenting opportunity for fintechs in Asia and how these companies rose to the challenge

If fintech every had a “moment” in its life, it is now, in this crisis. Because the whole fintech narrative has been: we can deal with situations, crises, far better than traditional, incumbent banks because we have technology, we can interact with the consumer more directly, we have algorithms which can understand risk better … Now we had a perfect storm to go and look at all possible stress scenarios and find a way to serve the consumer the best. So from a fintech standpoint, they had a perfect environment to go and succeed. And we saw very strong evidence of such in Asia.

If I look at the growth of e-payment services … if I look at the demand (from) people who are looking for lending from alternative platforms – it just went through the roof … There are other data points which strongly show that if you are a fintech and you have a mature product during the crisis, you tend to gain a lot. For example, the graph of fintech investment in Singapore from April, May, and June went up like a hockey stick. And the biggest beneficiaries of these investments are the fintechs which are serving the small and medium enterprise, and the fintechs that are helping banks digitize faster.

–Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore

On how the global health pandemic signals a shift in the pace of digital change in fintech

Traditional financial institutions are moving toward a collaborative, partnering, co-creation model, where they are partnering with the startup companies. And this partnership is a bit like a parent and a child. The parent, which is the financial firm, wants resilience, reliability, security, stability. The child wants to change the world, it wants challenge everything, it wants to kick down the walls and break down barriers and do everything differently because they want the world to change. And it is changing, because “the parent” is now having to work with “the child” in order to do things differently.

And that’s where this world of fintech today is really interesting because it’s not a simple one. It’s one where the mentor is the traditional financial firm who’s investing in the disruptor, which is the new startup technology firm. And the coronavirus pandemic has actually turbocharged (the) change, because traditional financial firms that were prevaricating and thinking about “maybe we should do more on digital” have been forced to suddenly overnight wake up and do digital.

–Chris Skinner, Author, theFinanser, and Doing Digital: Lessons from Leaders

Available both live (Singapore time) and On Demand during the conference week, FinovateAsia Digital is a unique opportunity for those interested in learning more about fintech in the Asia-Pacific region. Browse our all-digital presentations, interviews, and discussions; network with fellow attendees; and gain key insights into the trends driving fintech innovation in critical, emerging markets. Visit our FinovateAsia Digital Hub and register today.

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Personal Capital CEO Speaks Up About the Company’s Acquisition

If you missed the news earlier this week, here’s a recap: Personal Capital agreed to be acquired by Empower Retirement, the second-largest retirement services provider in the United States, for up to $1 billion, composed of $825 million on closing and up to $175 million for planned growth.

According to Forbes, the San Francisco-based fintech is selling for the same price as its valuation in February 2019. The deal is expected to close in the second half of this year.

After a bit of time to digest everything, Personal Capital CEO Jay Shah looked at the decision and what it means for the eleven-year-old company. Shah has been at Personal Capital since the company’s launch in 2009 and will now serve as President of Personal Capital and will also sit on the Executive Team at Empower.

Shah explained that, though many companies have expressed interest over the years in acquiring Personal Capital, none of the opportunities felt right. However, because Empower shares many of Personal Capital’s same “visions and values.”

He went on to describe how, in today’s uncertain world, the buy-out “will ensure extra strength and resources to grow Personal Capital, and bring [clients] more of the great technology and service [they’ve] come to expect. He added that combining the two companies will help Personal Capital support and further develop its features and service offerings.

As for what’s next, Shah said that Personal Capital will continue to operate as it always has. And because the company’s leadership team has committed to stay on for the long-term, the company’s culture will stay in-tact. “I recognize that this announcement feels like a major change, but I also want to assure you that your day-to-day experience with Personal Capital will remain the same,” he added.

Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

Venmo Helps Micro-Businesses Accept Payments For Free (For Now)

Micro-businesses, such as sole proprietors and gig workers, are an underserved group when it comes to financial management tools.

Seeing this need, and recognizing that more than 75% of small businesses in the U.S. are sole proprietors, Braintree-owned Venmo is releasing a new set of tools to help them connect, market, and grow their business.

“Venmo was designed to be a place where friends and family can send, split and share purchases and experiences. Today, we are introducing a very limited pilot to extend that experience to allow sellers to access the benefits of Venmo’s platform through Business Profiles,” the company announced in a blog post.

Currently in a pilot phase, Business Profiles allow consumers to create a business profile (separate from their personal profile) on Venmo in order to accept payment for goods and services. Business users can also tap into Venmo’s community of 52+ million users to generate interest, referrals, and awareness of their brand.

At launch, Venmo will not charge businesses transaction fees. This is likely because the company recognizes that the micro-businesses it is targeting already use its P2P money transfer service to accept payments for their business. Venmo cautioned that it will eventually charge a per-transaction fee of 1.9% + $0.10, but did not mention when it will begin charging the fees.

Venmo’s Business Profiles launch today to a limited number of iOS users on an invite-only basis and will be available for Android users “in the coming weeks. The company plans to make the new service more widely available “in the coming months.”

Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash