The Devil's Lettuce


Feb 27, 2023


Cindy Grazer


Feb 27, 2023


Cindy Grazer


ESG isn’t the only “green” topic on investors’ minds lately. Funding announcements for those startups helping compliant cannabis solutions partner with financial institutions and the Cannabis Business Conference in NYC are just a few of the latest soundbites on our radar.

The trend extends well beyond the US. In countries ranging from Canada to Malta, recreational use has gotten the green light in recent years. Meanwhile, while “Mary Jane” is still illegal in many countries, usage often carries no legal repercussions. Just look at any meal marked “happy” in Cambodia to find a ganja-infused dish, or the town in Estonia, Kanepi, that just adopted a marijuana leaf as its official emblem.

What was once a “sin industry” has become a booming business opportunity, with recreational use approved in 21 states, a figure that has more than doubled since we first wrote about this topic in 2019. An additional 10 states have decriminalized its use, and a whopping 37 now offer medical cannabis programs.

Although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer didn’t succeed in including the cannabis banking bill in the year-end omnibus funding package, efforts are ongoing as supporters continue to push bipartisan and bicameral support for a SAFE Banking Plus bill.

In the meantime, venture-scale innovations are pulling their weight. Still two months away from the quasi-national holiday of 4/20, businesses serving up the Chiba Chiba are better positioned than ever to transition away from the headaches of a primarily cash economy and tap into traditional financial services.

So if you are tucking into a bit of the Devil’s lettuce while reading this, don't worry, you are not imagining things as this really is a gif of a cow with a blonde wig fluttering in the wind. It just made us chuckle!

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Portfolio News

Minu announces merger with Plerk - As a result of the merger, Minu will integrate Plerk’s digital prepaid employee benefits card into its services, further bolstering its employee benefits platform. Read more

Embroker launches new law bundle built on ONE by Embroker platform - Embroker this week introduced its new malpractice and cyber bundle for law firms. This bundle - its first vertical offering built on the new ONE by Embroker platform - allows law firms to get the right malpractice and cyber coverage, built based on their needs, in a transparent and efficient manner. Read more

Flutterwave attends NYSE Founders Day - Flutterwave Founder and CEO GB Olugbenga rang The Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange as part of the Founders Day celebration in honor of Black History Month, where the NYSE hosted Black and African American leaders from across the country to highlight the contributions of black founders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Read more

The Devil's Lettuce

Cannabis banking startup Green Check Verified raised a $6m Series A round from fintech investor Mendon Venture Partners - Florida based cannabis banking solutions firm Green Check Verified announced this week that it had successfully completed a Series A fundraising round to the tune of $6m, which it will use for further expansion. Also last fall, Green Check Verified acquired PayQwick, which it said will allow Green Check to “provide real-time transactions, including lending, supply chain settlements, and banking solutions previously unavailable.” Read more

Senate Democrats look for way forward on marijuana banking bill - Marijuana banking legislation is receiving another look only weeks after it hit a wall with Republicans and was not attached to a year-end spending package. Read more

Industry News

‘Silicon Prairie’: Why The Midwest Is Becoming A Thriving Hub For Fintechs - between 2022 and 2027, the fintech market is forecast to see a compounded annual growth rate of 20.5%, increasing by $277.2 billion. While fintech companies are popping up all over the country, the Midwest is rapidly becoming an interesting fintech hub. Read more

India and Singapore link UPI and PayNow in cross-border payments push - The linkage between the two systems went live this week, the two nations’ central banks said at a press conference. Eight banks including DBS, Liquid Group, Axis Bank and State Bank of India from Singapore and India are currently participating in the collaboration, they said. Citizens in each nation can use their local payments systems to send money to those in the foreign land in “real-time.” Read more

JPMorgan restricts staff from using ChatGPT - The banking giant is clamping down on the use of ChatGPT by its employees amid compliance concerns. The clampdown signals the limits of generative AI in finance, an industry laden with sensitive data and heavily restricted by regulatory concerns. Read more

Hong Kong’s crypto hub ambitions win quiet backing from Beijing - Local crypto operators say their presence is clearing up any doubts about Beijing’s attitude toward Hong Kong’s efforts to become a crypto hub. The low-key support shows that officials are keen on using the laissez-faire city as a testing ground for digital assets as they keep a tight rein on any such activity on the mainland. Read more

Tech layoffs are feeding a new startup surge - Tech companies laid off at least 160,000 workers in 2022, and the cutting has continued into 2023, with more than 100,000 additional people losing their jobs. This has created a cohort of workers trying something new—instead of seeking other positions inside giant companies whose hiring sprees have flipped to a payroll purge, they’re opting to become their own bosses. Read more

London payments firm moves $1b a month despite ‘red flags’ - In just 5 years, a little-known company called Transactive, based on the outskirts of London, has grown into a payments-industry powerhouse, processing more than $1b in monthly transactions. Multiple high-level employees who helped set up and run Transactive came from PacNet, a company that had to close down after being sanctioned by the US for being the “payment processor of choice” for scam artists. Read more

Stripe expands Tap to Pay to Android, turning NFC-enabled Android devices into payment terminals - It will support payment methods using Google Pay, Mastercard, Visa and American Express debit and credit cards; and it will integrate with third-party merchant platforms that typically provide bridging through to different segments of the small business community. Read more

Supermarket giant Tesco to explore sale of banking arm - U.K. based supermarket chain Tesco is about to kick off a strategic review of its banking arm, Sky News reports, in a deal that could fetch £1b. The grocery giant has reportedly lined up Goldman Sachs to advise on the future of Tesco Bank, which has more than 5m customers, offering products including pet insurance, savings accounts and credit cards. Read more

Apollo mulls $750m First Boston leveraged-finance bet - The commitment would be parallel and separate to a possible investment in the First Boston unit that Apollo is also discussing. The firm has already agreed to acquire Credit Suisse’s securitized-products group in a deal that’s expected to provide the lender with much-needed liquidity during a restructuring period that has seen clients pull out funds and the share price slump to record lows. Read more

Tezos signs up Google Cloud as a validator on its blockchain - The deal aims to allow Google Cloud's corporate clients to develop and deploy web3 applications on the Tezos blockchain using Google's cloud infrastructure. By acting as a validator or "baker" on the Tezos network, Google Cloud will allow its corporate customers to support blockchain development. Read more

Goldman Sachs offers rich clients access to Stripe’s multibillion fundraise - The bank is setting up a special vehicle open to its private-wealth clients for investing in just one asset: Stripe’s roughly $4b fundraise, people familiar with the matter said. The strategy is a way to augment offerings for high-net worth clients by bringing them into some of the hottest technology names before they become public, while allowing companies to remain private for longer. Read more

US housing market posts $2.3t drop, biggest since 2008 - Homebuyers, already facing record-high prices, took an additional hit from mortgage rates that more than doubled last year. With less competition in the market, the median US home sale price was $383,249 last month, down from a peak of $433,133 in May. Read more

‘Silicon Prairie’: Why the Midwest is becoming a thriving hub for fintech companies - Between 2022 and 2027, the fintech market is forecast to see a compounded annual growth rate of 20.5%, increasing by $277.2b. While fintech companies are popping up all over the country, the Midwest is rapidly becoming an interesting fintech hub. Read more

Select Financings

Carmoola - U.K. based car finance startup raised £8.5m in Series A funding led by QED Investors. Read more

Chaos Labs - New York based crypto on-chain risk platform raised $20m in Seed funding led by Galaxy Ventures and PayPal Ventures. Read more

CyberSmart - U.K. based cyber insurance and cybersecurity startup raised $15.4m in Series A funding led by Oxx. Read more

DataMesh - Australia based payments software startup raised $30m in Series A funding led by NAB Ventures. Read more

DirectID - U.K. based credit scoring company raised €9m in new funding led by Ikea venture arm Ingka Investments. Read more

Finch - San Francisco based payroll, HRIS and benefits API startup raised $40m in Series B funding led by General Catalyst and Menlo Ventures. Read more

Finway - Germany based finance operating system for SMBs raised $10m in Series A funding led by Capital 49. Read more

Huma - San Francisco based income-backed DeFi protocol raised $8.3m in Seed funding led by Race Capital and Distributed Global. Read more

Kita - U.K. based carbon market insurance provider raised £4m in Seed funding led by Octopus Ventures. Read more

Mintoak - Mumbai based SaaS payments platform raised $20m in Series A funding led by PayPal Ventures. Read more

Planet42 - South Africa based car subscription company raised $15m in new funding led by Naspers Foundry and ARS Holdings. Read more

Pliant - Berlin based corporate card startup raised $28m in Series A funding led by SBI Investment. Read more

Polyhedra Network - California based Web3 infrastructure startup raised $10m in growth funding co-led by Binance Labs and Polychain Capital. Read more

Puzzle - San Francisco based accounting and financial data platform raised $15m in Series A funding led by General Catalyst. Read more

SendOwl - San Francisco based payments startup focused on digital products raised $9m in Seed funding led by TheGP. Read more

Stelo Labs - San Francisco based crypto wallet security startup raised $6m in Seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Read more

Superchain - Dubai based blockchain indexing startup raised $4m in Seed funding led by Blockchain Capital. Read more

TipLink - New York based crypto payments platform built on Solana raised $6m in Seed funding led by Sequoia Capital and Multicoin Capital. Read more

Trust & Will - San Diego based estate-planning tech maker raised $15m in new funding led by Amex Ventures. Read more

Vexi - Mexico City based credit card startup raised $8m in Series A funding led by Magma Partners. Read more

Workpay - Kenya based HR payroll startup raised $2.7m in pre-Series A funding from Launch Africa, Saviu Ventures and Acadian Ventures. Read more


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