Betterment Embraces the Cryptocurrency Revolution with Makara Acquisition

Betterment Embraces the Cryptocurrency Revolution with Makara Acquisition
  • Investment platform Betterment will acquire cryptocurrency portfolio manager Makara. Terms were not disclosed.
  • The acquisition will enable Betterment to incorporate automated, personalized digital asset investing into its roboadvisory services.
  • Seattle, Washington-based Makara was founded in 2021 and has raised $2.1 million in seed funding.

Mr. Money Mustache may not like it. But the news that online investment platform Betterment has agreed to acquire cryptocurrency portfolio manager Makara is yet another sign that incumbent fintechs are playing a major role in helping crypto go mainstream.

“Crypto is here to stay and Betterment wants to live our promise of long-term diversification and to provide our customers with the best variety of assets in the marketplace,” Betterment CEO Sarah Levy explained. Levy praised the Makara acquisition as a unique opportunity to bring Betterment customers managed cryptocurrency portfolios “combined with the guidance and ease-of-use that have defined Betterment.”

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Makara was founded in 2021 by Jesse Proudman and Sadie Raney. The company is the first crypto-based roboadvisor to be registered with the SEC, and offers investment exposure to the cryptocurrency market that is both automated and personalized to the investor’s goals and preferences. Makara investors can select cryptocurrencies organized into thematic baskets – Bitcoin, Blue Chip, Decentralized Finance, Ethereum, Inflation Hedge, Metaverse, Universe, and Web 3.0 – that cover the wide (and growing) range of digital asset offerings.

Betterment leverages passive index-tracking and fixed income ETFs to offer goal-based investing strategies via both taxable and tax-advantaged accounts such traditional and Roth IRAs. The addition of Makara will enable the New York-based investment platform to give investors the ability to diversify their accounts without having to worry about selecting individual digital assets. The acquisition will also make it easier for Betterment’s financial advisor customers to offer cryptocurrency exposure to their clients without those advisors having to be experts in the digital asset arena.

The acquisition is expected to close later in Q1 of 2022. Makara’s team of experts and engineers will join the Betterment team at that point.

“We developed Makara to bring an easy and accessible long-term investing approach to cryptocurrencies,” Makara co-founder and CEO Jesse Proudman said. “Combining our crypto expertise with Betterment’s scale will accelerate the growth of the platform with both retail investors and financial advisors.”

Betterment made its Finovate debut in 2010, winning Best of Show for its online savings and investment platform. In the years since, the company has grown into one of the world’s leading digital investment advisors, with more than 700,000 customers and more than $33 billion in assets under management. Last fall, the company announced raising $160 million in funding – including a $60 million in Series F equity investment – earning the New York-based firm a valuation of $1.3 billion.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Betterment Raises $160 Million With $1.3 Billion Valuation

Betterment Raises $160 Million With $1.3 Billion Valuation

Wealthtech company Betterment has boosted its total funding to $435 million after closing $160 million in growth capital this week. The funds include $60 million in Series F equity and a $100 million credit facility.

The new round values Betterment at $1.3 billion. The equity portion was led by Treasury with participation from existing investors Kinnevik, Bessemer Venture Partners, Francisco Partners, Menlo Ventures, Anthemis Group, Globespan Capital Partners, Citi Ventures, and The Private Shares Fund. New investors Aflac Ventures and ID8 Investments also participated.

The $100 million credit facility comes from ORIX Corporation USA’s Growth Capital group and Runway Growth Capital.

“We are thrilled to have the support of new and existing investors who believe in our business model and are excited by the opportunity to support our growth,” said Betterment CEO Sarah Levy. “We’re using these funds to further cement our category leadership with rapid innovation on top of our already differentiated product suite and unique, multi-pronged distribution model that serves retail investors, advisors and small businesses.”

More specifically, Betterment will use the funds to support its 401(k) offering for small and medium sized businesses.

Founded in 2010, Betterment manages $32 billion in assets for its nearly 700,000 clients. In addition to offering automated 401(k) and IRA options, the company also provides socially responsible investment options, retirement planning services, a checking account, and a high-yield savings account.

Today’s announcement comes after a flurry of news activity for Betterment, after the company appointed Levy as CEO in December of last year. In March, the company acquired the investment advisory business of WealthSimple, partnered with Zenefits to offer 401(k) plans on the Zenefits platform, rolled out a checking account for shared finances, unveiled a co-pilot tool for advisors, and launched pre-packaged tech stack for RIAs.

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

Betterment Acquires Wealthsimple’s U.S. Investment Advisory Business

Betterment Acquires Wealthsimple’s U.S. Investment Advisory Business

U.S. wealthtech player Betterment is building up its assets under management. That’s because the company acquired the U.S. investment advisory business of Canada-based Wealthsimple this week.

Terms of the deal– which notably does not include Wealthsimple’s technology, employees, or operations– were not disclosed.

“As we shift our focus to our Canadian business for the time being, finding a partner for our U.S. business that shared our commitment to putting clients first was our top priority,” said Wealthsimple Co-founder and CEO Michael Katchen. “It’s been a privilege to serve our U.S. clients, and we’re confident that their investments will continue to be in good hands with Betterment.”

To find a suitable home for its U.S. accounts, Wealthsimple selected Betterment in a competitive bidding process for its strong reputation and customer-first mentality. Wealthsimple’s U.S. clients will be moved over to Betterment in June of this year.

“This was an excellent opportunity for us to grow our customer base, and we’ll continue to be aggressive in opportunities that accelerate our business goals,” said Betterment’s newly-appointed CEO Sarah Levy.

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

Betterment CEO Jon Stein Steps Down, Announces New Appointment

Betterment CEO Jon Stein Steps Down, Announces New Appointment

Jon Stein has long been a prominent figure in the U.S. fintech sector. Betterment, the wealthtech company he launched in 2008, has grown to help 500,000 users manage a total of $25 billion in assets.

Not only did Stein build a successful fintech company, he also helped kick off the entire wealthtech subsector within fintech. Today, the New York-based company’s founder announced he is handing over the company — and the legacy– to Sarah Kirshbaum Levy.

The move comes after Stein spent time during quarantine reflecting. He ultimately came to the realization that, as he said, “the best way to achieve our mission might be to invite a successor to lead Betterment in the next phase of growth.”

Kirshbaum Levy comes to Betterment after serving as Chief Operating Officer at Viacom Media Networks, the parent company of brands such as Nickelodeon, BET, and Comedy Central. She started working under Stein as a consultant, building out the company’s 2021 plans. Today, as Kirshbaum Levy takes the reins as CEO, she will not only guide Betterment toward a future of growth but also prepare the company to go public.

Stein will continue to hold a seat on Betterment’s board and will support Kirshbaum Levy by offering help with recruiting, investor relations, telling the company’s story, and upholding the company culture and values.

“Due to good fortune and intense effort in a most challenging year, the company has never been in a stronger position. Each line of business is reaching new heights in 2020. We’re beating targets, well-capitalized, with wind at our backs. It’s a good time to hand over the reins,” Stein concluded.

6 Ways Roboadvisors Have Evolved to Suit 2020

6 Ways Roboadvisors Have Evolved to Suit 2020

By many accounts, 2020 has been a difficult year full of events nobody could have anticipated or planned for.

As an industry, however, fintech has faired rather well. The shift to digital combined with an enhanced focus on the customer experience have benefitted banks, end users, and even fintechs themselves.

Fintech’s wealthtech subsector is no different. In fact, roboadvisory tools have evolved over the past decade with near-futuristic new features and offerings that are helping today’s consumers battle the challenges of 2020.

Here we’re taking a look at six ways roboadvisors have improved to (unknowingly) prepare for the toughest year yet.

AI has gotten smarter

Thanks to machine learning capabilities, the AI technology that powers investment strategies, forecasting, and reporting has improved significantly since roboadvisors hit their peak in 2015. Additionally, the amount of data has increased and computing power has been significantly upgraded, meaning that AI has never been smarter.

Recession forecasting

One of my favorite tools that launched this year is Personal Capital’s Recession Simulator. While many investment portfolio models offer a range of what-if scenarios, the Recession Simulator helps users illustrate the effects that historical recessions may have on their portfolio. Currently the Recession Simulator allows users to mimic returns of the DotCom crash of 2000 and the Financial Crisis of 2008.

Challenging the challengers

Last year ushered in the era of challenger banks, and roboadvisors were quick to jump on the opportunity. Three of the top roboadvisors by assets under management– Wealthfront, Betterment, and Personal Capital– all launched checking tools last year. These accounts help consumers keep all of their cash in a single, unified place and some offer tandem, high-yield savings accounts.


While many fintechs have promised to automate savings, investing, and billpay, many have been slow to deliver. Recently, however Wealthfront has made strides toward its Self-Driving Money concept. Last month the company unveiled Autopilot, the first product in its self-driving money suite. Autopilot takes clients’ savings and automatically monitors their balances and moves money around on their behalf to maximize their savings and returns.

Looking beyond retirement

While everyone hopes to save for retirement, there are plenty of other events to save for, too. Many roboadvisors have set up their platforms to enable users to save up for relatively smaller savings goals, such as a kitchen renovation, a child’s education, or a wedding.

Built for everyone

While many investment platforms cater to a variety of risk appetites, some have started to cater to new client bases, such as gig workers. Betterment, for example, launched a promotion with Steady, a gig economy workforce platform, to offer its users free financial advisory services for one year.

Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal

Updated 1/14/2020: The first big fintech acquisition of the year just crossed the headlines: Visa has agreed to acquire innovative fintech Plaid for a reported $5.3 billion in “total purchase consideration.”

“Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”

Plaid’s technology connects digital consumers with thousands of apps and services ranging from Transferwise and Betterment to Chime, Acorns, and popular payment app, Venmo. The company estimates that one in four individuals with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect with thousands of developers across 11,000+ financial institutions.

Visa said the acquisition will bolster the company’s capacity to serve and reputation with fintech developers – especially when it comes to providing them with enhanced payment functionality and related value-added services. Visa also believes the acquisition will help open new business opportunities both in the U.S. and around the world.

“We are extremely excited about our acquisition of Plaid and how it enhances the growth trajectory of our business,” Visa CEO and chairman Al Kelly said. “Plaid is a leader in the fast growing fintech world with best-in-class capabilities and talent. The acquisition, combined with our many fintech efforts already underway, will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions, and consumers.”

Visa participated in Plaid’s Series C round in 2018, which was led by Index Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. The company raised $250 million in that funding raising effort. Plaid began the year with an acquisition of its own, purchasing account aggregation and data analytics technology provider Quovo in January of 2019. The value of that deal was not disclosed; Bloomberg reported that the sticker price for Quovo could have been as high as $200 million. Quovo, incidentally, is also a FinDEVr alum, participating in our New York developers conference in 2017.

Plaid demonstrated its technology at FinDEVrSiliconValley in 2014, demonstrating how its API for Financial Infrastructure enabled developers to leverage data quickly, efficiently, and securely power fintech applications. Headquartered in San Francisco, California and founded in 2012, Plaid had raised $310 million in funding previous to today’s announcement.

The ripples from the acquisition news are reverberating throughout the fintech community. And while some are worried about the ability of the innovative startup from San Francisco continue to drive change in the industry, others are busy heralding the news as a victory for fintech and incumbent financial services firms, alike.

Indeed, the acquisition of Plaid by Visa has put other fintechs involved in financial data on notice that they too may hear an inquiring knock on their proverbial doors. One observer on Twitter asked “Will $MA pick up Finicity now?” As of this writing, neither company has deigned to comment.

Betterment Now Wants Your Liquid Cash, Too

Betterment Now Wants Your Liquid Cash, Too

Betterment knows its clients are smart when it comes to saving for their futures. And with that well-established, financially savvy client base, the company launched a checking and savings platform this week.

The new platform is called Betterment Everyday (because what’s better than a user base that logs in every day?) and is aimed to help the company’s clients better manage their money today so that they can maximize earnings for the future.

Betterment Everyday offers savings and checking accounts, with customer deposits held at partner banks including Citi, Barclays, and Valley National. The savings accounts, available today, can earn up to 2.69% APY until the end of this year, after which will drop to 2.43% and be subject to change.

The checking product will be available later this year and comes with benefits typical of online-only banks. Users will receive a debit card issued by nbkc bank of Overland Park, Kansas, will be reimbursed for all ATM fees worldwide, will not be charged monthly maintenance fees, and do not need to maintain a minimum balance.

“As we launch Betterment Everyday, we’re starting to bring our role as your financial advisor into your everyday life, turning your daily choices and transactions into saving for the future,” said Betterment CEO Jon Stein in a blog post. “We’re building the framework for where we believe the industry can (and should) move. We believe the future is smart money management, and we’re leading the way.”

In addition to attracting new clients and refocusing existing users, the new account offerings also serve to compete with fintechs that have launched similar products in recent months. Wealthfront, SoFi, which offer high interest savings accounts boasting yields of 2.57% and 2.25%, respectively, and Acorns, which offers a debit card for a fee of $3 per month.

Last year Robinhood launched a checking account that boasted a 3% interest rate, but quietly rescinded the product after regulators from the SEC and SIPC cited lack of regulatory oversight. The startup had not consulted regulators before the proposed launch and is now working on a new version of the checking account. Today, Betterment may be in a similar situation. The company did consult regulators before this week’s launch, but, according to CNBC, has been asked to provide more information on the new offering.

Betterment CEO Jon Stein debuted the company’s MultipleGoals feature at FinovateFall 2011. Since it was founded in 2008, the company has raised a total of $275 million. Last fall, Betterment unveiled a Trust Account Opening feature that allows advisors to manage the entire process. And this year, the company was honored on the Forbes Fintech 50 list for the 4th year in a row.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Betterment Now Wants Your Liquid Cash, Too.
  • Finovate Alums Honored at PayTech Awards 2019.
  • BlueRush Inks IndiVideo Deal with Nikia Dx.

Around the web

  • DriveWealth announces collaboration with U.S.-based registered investment advisor Vested Finance to give investors in India access to U.S. stock.
  • Mastercard forges new partnership with SumUp, boosting the number of electronic payment acceptance locations across 27 countries in Europe.
  • Singapore-based Cheers Paytech chooses core banking technology from Mambu.
  • New Zealand’s seventh largest bank, TSB, goes live with Temenos Infinity for online account opening and onboarding.
  • ThetaRay launches version 4 of its analytics platform to help banks detect and prevent cybercrime.
  • BeSmartee announces direct integration with real estate document collaboration and recording technology solution provider Simplifile.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Content Capture Innovator Ephesoft Allies with Grant Thornton.
  • Gusto Raises $200 Million with $3.8 Billion Valuation.

Around the web

  • TD Ameritrade offers voice-activated investing technology.
  • NIIT Technologies’ revenue grew 16+% YoY, and its after-tax profit increased 2% YoY.
  • Scalable Capital partners with Futurae to add multi-factor authentication technology into its investment platform.
  • LoanScorecard goes live with its Bank Statement Analyzer tool.
  • Betterment adds savings and checking accounts to its offerings.
  • U.K. neobank revverbank to deploy cloud banking technology from Finastra.
  • CardFlight partners with PAX Technology to make SwipeSimple terminal available to clients on the PAX A920 and PAX A80.
  • Australia’s Volt Bank teams up with FIS to power its mobile and card payment services.
  • Alterna Bank unveils its new advanced digital platform, Forge, powered by Backbase.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Revolut and TrueLayer Team Up to Ease Access to Open Banking Data.
  • Flybits Secures $35 Million in Series C Led by Point72 Ventures.
  • Launchfire’s Lemonade Takes Off as Standalone SaaS Brand.

Around the web

  • Avaloq integrates OneSpan’s anti-fraud technology into its SaaS banking platform.
  • PayPal’s international money transfer acquisition, Xoom, goes live across Europe.
  • SumUp secures €330 million debt financing.
  • Ritholtz Wealth turns to Betterment’s Betterment for Advisors, a white label online investing solution, to power its Liftoff automated investment platform.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alums Shine in 2019 Forbes Fintech 50 Roster

Finovate Alums Shine in 2019 Forbes Fintech 50 Roster

A baker’s dozen of Finovate alums has been honored this week with spots on the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50, an annual aggregation of what the editors called “the most innovative companies in fintech.”

Here are the Finovate alums that made the cut. Read the full list.

“Recognition as a leading innovator in fintech is tremendous validation for the hard work we’ve done at Marqeta to open the industry up to the possibilities and opportunities of modern card issuing,” company CEO and founder Jason Gardner said. Marqeta is among the 20 companies to make its first appearance on the Forbes Fintech 50 roster.

Also earning their first appearances on Forbes Fintech 50 roster are New York based mobile investment platform Stash and San Francisco supply chain payments innovator Tradeshift.

“Very excited to be included in the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50!,” Stash tweeted once the news was released at the start of the week, “Monday = made.”

“We made the list!” Tradeshift tweeted this morning.

Summarizing this year’s selection of top fintechs, the editors noted that while 19 out of the 50 fintechs featured are unicorns with valuations of more than $1 billion, a nearly equal amount – 20 startups – are making their first showing on Forbes top fintech list. The two areas where newcomers were more prevalent, according to the editors, were payments technology and startups serving the un- and underbanked.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Credit Karma Acquires Noddle to Launch in the U.K.

Around the web

  • Moneyhub announces integration with PensionBee API.
  • Outsystems unveils new program,, to leverage AI and machine learning to improve software development.
  • Finastra introduces Open Banking Readiness Index for Asia Pacific region.
  • Trulioo reports ability to verify five billion people via its identity verification platform, Global Gateway.
  • Wipro collaborates with Check Point Software to offer cloud security services.
  • Unison expands with Goldwater Bank Partnership.
  • Flywire partners with the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council to offer members payment solutions.
  • How I Built This podcast features Betterment founder Jon Stein.
  • Roostify names Courtney Keating Chakarun as new Chief Marketing Officer.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.