Miami-Based Milo Unveils its Crypto Mortgage Solution

Miami-Based Milo Unveils its Crypto Mortgage Solution

Courtesy of a new offering from Miami, Florida-based digital banking and lending platform Milo, investors can leverage the world’s newest source of value to finance a purchase one of the world’s oldest. The company recently announced that it is offering the world’s first “crypto mortgage” – enabling digital asset holders to use their crypto to help them buy real estate in the U.S.

The program is available to both U.S. and international investors who are seeking to use their Bitcoin holdings as collateral for Milo’s 30-year mortgage loan. Milo allows customers to continue to own their bitcoin, and diversify into real estate ownership, while taking advantage of potential price appreciation of both assets. Customers can finance 100% of their real estate purchase, and no dollar downpayment is required.

“This is an exciting time for the crypto and mortgage industries,” Milo CEO and founder Josip Rupena said. “With our new crypto mortgage, we can expand our offerings to consumers that were previously denied by other banking firms just for having crypto. We have an opportunity to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore and their bitcoin wealth can now help them buy a property.”

In development since 2021, Milo’s crypto mortgage program avoids the problem that cryptocurrency holders often face when trying to use their digital assets to help fund real estate purchases. “The existing way for crypto consumers to access home credit has left them with unintended tax liabilities of selling for a down payment or worse the opportunity cost of seeing their crypto increase in value,” Rupena explained. “There are countless stories of people buying property with bitcoin proceeds only to see it increase in value and be worth millions more.”

Milo’s crypto mortgage innovation says as much about the company’s ability to embrace new asset classes as it does the firm’s commitment to helping individuals with significant assets overcome the hurdles that prevent them from deploying those assets as they choose. The company was founded in part from a need identified by Rupena when he was a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley. A private wealth client with a seven-figure net worth was unable to secure a home loan because of what Rupena called “traditional banks’ domestically focused processes.” He noted that less than a third of prospective homebuyers outside of the U.S. are successful in getting home loans and those that are approved often face high interest rates or, at minimum, a subpar customer experience. In 2020, Milo became the first company to conduct a completely remote digital closing for an international customer.

Founded in 2018, Milo has raised $6 million in funding from investors including 10X Capital, MetaProp, and QED Investors. The company has clients in 63 countries around the world, and has originated $300 million in loans from foreign nationals. The company’s crypto mortgage program has already begun granting loans via its early-access stage and plans to open the service to additional customers on its waiting list in the months to come.


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Crypto Compliance Company TRM Labs Raises $60 Million in Series B Investment

Crypto Compliance Company TRM Labs Raises $60 Million in Series B Investment

A $60 million investment will enable digital asset compliance and risk management platform TRM Labs to help organizations and institutions better identify cryptocurrency-based financial crime.

“Crypto is moving faster than any sector in our lifetimes,” TRM Labs CEO Estaban Castaño said. “Organizations need a blockchain intelligence partner that can stay ahead of the evolving risk landscape – from ransomware attacks to DeFi exploits. This round enables TRM to continue to offer the most reliable data and most innovative technology solutions in the market to its customers.”

The Series B funding was led by Tiger Global and featured participation from a number of major firms including Visa, Amex Ventures, Citi Ventures, PayPal Ventures, Block (formerly Square), as well as DRW Venture Capital, Jump Capital, and Marshall Wace – among others. Combined with the capital TRM Labs has raised to date, the San Francisco, California-based firm now has total equity funding of nearly $80 million.

TRM offers a cohesive platform to empower businesses to better manage financial crime risk. The company’s technology enables firms to assess the risk profile of Virtual Asset Service Providers – what TRM calls “Know-Your-VASP” – and other cryptocurrency businesses. TRM’s platform provides forensic capabilities that allow organizations to investigate the source and destination of cryptocurrency transactions, and transaction monitoring that helps companies screen cryptocurrency wallets and transactions for AML and sanctions compliance.

TRM supports more than 900,000 digital assets across 23 blockchains, and features cross-chain analytics to enable seamless movement between Bitcoin, Ethereum, other blockchains. This allows organizations to build comprehensive visualizations that enable a more accurate and complete tracking of the flow of funds. Users of TRM’s platform can select from more than 80 different risk categories to establish their own risk scoring criteria.

Founded in 2017 and emerging from the Y Combinator two years later, TRM has since grown revenues by 6x year-over-year and expanded its workforce from four to 60. Cryptocurrency businesses such as Circle and MoonPay currently use TRM’s technology to identify suspicious activity in digital asset transactions and to satisfy AML requirements. Government agencies are using the company’s solutions in order to learn more about advanced cryptocurrency-related financial crime, ranging from hacks to terrorist financing. Last month, cryptocurrency payments company Dash announced an integration with TRM Labs to bolster its ability to monitor transactions on its platform for financial crime.

“By integrating with Dash, we enable organizations, including virtual asset service providers who want to list Dash, the ability to detect cryptocurrency fraud and financial crime and strengthen their compliance with AML/CFT regulations,” Castaño said when the integration was announced in November.


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Visa to Enable Cryptocurrency Trading

Visa to Enable Cryptocurrency Trading

For those still waiting for greater institutional endorsement of digital assets, the news that Visa will enable cryptocurrency trading on its network should come as a welcome sign.

Visa CEO and chairman Alfred Kelly announced the plan in an earnings call last week. Kelly noted that not only would Visa allow buying and selling of cryptocurrencies on its platform, but also that the company was “uniquely positioned” to do so, and to do so safely and securely.

Visa’s plan is to divide digital assets into two categories: cryptocurrencies and digital currencies. Cryptocurrencies, per Kelly, represent the “digital gold” of the digital asset market insofar as they are not typically used as a form of payment. For these assets, Visa plans to work with wallets and exchanges to allow users to buy these currencies using their Visa credentials. Visa also plans to enable users to cash out of their cryptocurrencies onto a Visa credential to make fiat-money purchases wherever Visa is accepted globally.

With regard to digital currencies, Visa defines these assets as “fiat-backed digital currencies including stablecoins and central bank digital currencies.” These assets, per Kelly, could find use cases in global commerce “much like any other fiat currency” and could run on public blockchains as additional networks much like RTP and ACH rails.

Kelly noted that Visa already has a strong relationship with 35 digital currency platforms and wallets, including BlockFi and BitPanda. These partnerships, Visa claimed, represent potentially more than 50 million Visa credentials – a significant size advantage over the company’s rivals. “And it goes without saying,” Kelly added, “to the extent a specific digital currency becomes a recognized means of exchange, there’s no reason why we cannot add it to our network, which already supports over 160 currencies today.”

Visa’s positive news on cryptocurrencies comes on the heels of the company’s announcement that its planned $5.3 billion acquisition of fintech infrastructure provider and fellow Finovate alum Plaid is now off the table. Visa is an alum of both our Finovate conferences, making its Finovate debut at FinovateSpring ten years ago, and participating in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley, four years later in 2014.


Photo by Worldspectrum from Pexels

Launching: 2,000 Bitcoin/Crypto-currency Startups

English: Looking north up Eleventh Avenue (Man...

Jacob K. Javits Center (Wikipedia)

The bitcoin logo

Bitcoin first passed the $200 mark a year ago (vs. $450 today). I didn’t know much about it then, figuring it was a fad best left to the speculators to debate. But I was wrong. Bitcoin, or something similar, appears to be here to stay.

Case in point: There is a 2,000-person Bitcoin event in NYC today and tomorrow, Inside Bitcoins, at the Javits Center no less. But don’t worry if you miss it, the event is scheduled to travel the globe with stops in Hong Kong, Melbourne, Tel Aviv, London, Singapore, Berlin, before landing back in NYC a year from now.

In the keynote, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire estimated 2,000 startups globally are working on crypto-currency products and services. That alone makes it more than a fad (bubble perhaps, but not a fad). There is no putting the crypto-currency genie back in the bottle. The technology is too compelling. The demand for alternative stored value is so huge that I don’t see it being regulated away, at least outside the west.

Relevance for Banks: U.S. financial institutions will steer clear until regulatory uncertainties are cleared up. While regulators ARE paying attention (even the IRS recently weighed in), don’t expect banks or credit unions here to be accepting Bitcoins for deposit anytime soon.

However, I do expect U.S. prepaid-card based “near banks” (Moven, Onbudget) to work with Coinbase and others to make it easy to move Bitcoin value onto their cards (see note 1). For inspiration, check out the Bitcoin debit card launched today by Hong Kong-based Cryptex Card (press release).

———————-

Notes:
1. Both Coinbase and Onbudget will demo separately at FinovateSpring, three weeks from now.       
2. For more, see our Feb 2014 OBR report on alt-payments, Money 3.0 (subscription).