#411
There Is No Planet B

Published:

Oct 30, 2021


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Published:

Oct 30, 2021


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The Doomsday Clock was created shortly after World War II to represent the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Nuclear weapons were the main area of concern then, but climate change is certainly the focus now. Boris Johnson warned this week – ahead of the COP26’s kickoff next week – that “if we don’t act now, it will be too late.” This is arguably the most crucial climate summit since the 2015 Paris Agreement traced a path in which we are alarmingly behind.

Fintech (and the financial sector at a larger scale) does not represent the solution to this existential threat. At times, it has even emerged as an aggravation to it, considering the environmental impact of BTC mining, for instance. But there are positive signs.

Stripe has formed a partnership with Deep Science Ventures to help finance startups seeking to develop ways in which to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Third Point – which holds a large stake in Shell – has urged it to split into two entities: one with the legacy business and another that houses renewables and other units requiring large investments. Similarly, ABP (one of the world’s largest pension funds) plans on selling its entire holdings in fossil fuel companies (worth over 15b EUR).

It’s no wonder that “net zero” has become a promising business for consulting firms, as nearly a thousand companies in ~65 countries have publicly committed to such targets. Thus, while the overall picture remains menacingly bleak, there are indications that vital tipping points are being reached across the business world. These could make what seemed inconceivable a decade ago surprisingly mainstream.

If that seems weird, consider how you would have felt if, ten years ago, someone told you that the market cap of Bitcoin (or Tesla, for that matter) would top that of Berkshire Hathaway. And by a lot …

Portfolio News


Extend raises $40m for its virtual card offering to help banks better compete with fintech companies - The New York based startup, which provides digital payment infrastructure for financial institutions so they can offer virtual cards to their users, has raised $40m in a Series B funding round led by March Capital. Other investors include B Capital, Point72 Ventures, Fintech Collective, Reciprocal Ventures, Wells Fargo and Pacific Western Bank. The latest financing brings Extend’s total raised since its 2017 inception to $55m. Read more

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers - A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case's Revolution Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective and FinTech Collective wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country. Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country. Underline, a community infrastructure company, began building its first open access fiber network in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last week. Read more

Flutterwave enables cross-border payments from Europe to Africa - Working with payment institution TEMPO, the primary European Union anchor for Stellar blockchain payments, Flutterwave is using the Stellar network to simplify remittances in Africa by introducing two new remittance passageways between Europe and Africa. Read more

"Build on Ocrolus" empowers Plaid and developers to embed document capture within financial apps - Ocrolus formalized its "Build on Ocrolus" program, enabling fintech developers to leverage custom applications that automate document-driven workflows. The program was introduced at the Money 20/20 conference, including Ocrolus and business partner Plaid demonstrating income and asset validation solutions. Read more

Q2 and NYDIG announce first financial institutions in the U.S. to launch bitcoin trading solution powered by NYDIG - Q2 Holdings, a leading provider of digital transformation solutions for banking and lending, and NYDIG, a leading bitcoin company, today announced Five Star Bank (NY) and UNIFY Financial Credit Union as the first financial institutions in the U.S. to enable their banking clients and members to buy, sell and hold bitcoin, powered by NYDIG. Read more

Solana-based yield aggregator Tulip raises $5m - Solana-based DeFi app Tulip raised $5m in a bid to expand its yield aggregation and crypto lending products. The seven-month-old protocol, which at press time held over $800m in crypto assets, said Jump Capital and Alameda Research led the “strategic investment.” Other investors include Amber Group, Cadenza Ventures, Fisher8 Capital, CMS Holdings, Rarestone Capital, FinTech Collective and DV Chain – and will receive TULIP governance tokens from a vesting smart contract. Read more

There Is No Planet B


Net zero is a booming business for consulting firms - At least 965 companies and 63 countries have publicly committed to net-zero targets. Turning those plans into reality will be an unprecedented undertaking—and will generate huge profits for the consulting firms that have the know-how to make it happen. Read more

Payments company Stripe is kick starting market for carbon removal - The technology for removing billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere isn’t ready. Stripe wants to speed things up. Read more

Dutch pension giant ABP to dump €15b in fossil fuel holdings - One of the world’s largest pension funds, ABP of the Netherlands, is to sell its entire holdings in fossil fuel companies worth more than €15b as pressure mounts on retirement schemes to protect long-term savings from the threat of catastrophic climate change. Read more

Third Point has big Shell stake, urges energy giant to break up - The activist said Shell should consider creating two stand-alone companies: one with legacy businesses such as refining that would provide steady cash flow and another that houses renewables and other units requiring substantial investment. It reasons that doing so would clarify the company’s strategy and appeal to different sets of investors who have been making competing demands of the Anglo-Dutch company. Read more

Greta Thunberg: Activist calls on banks to stop funding climate 'destruction' - The teenage Swedish climate activist is in London to take part in protests demanding the financial system stops funding fossil fuel projects. She told the BBC's Andrew Marr that "change is possible" at the summit, if pressure on politicians is maintained. Read more

Industry News


Financial Action Task Force releases finalized crypto guidance with clarifications on DeFi, NFTs - The global anti-money laundering watchdog first issued its virtual asset guidance in 2019. That draft called for crypto exchanges and money transmitters — which it refers to as virtual asset service providers (VASPs) — to meet standards applied to traditional financial companies. Much of this proposed approach focused on a so-called travel rule, which asked VASPs to collect and transmit originator and beneficiary information on parties participating in a transaction. Read more

Klarna teams with Stripe to help online businesses grow revenue - As part of the collaborative effort, Stripe users in 20 countries can offer Klarna as a payment option, while Klarna will use Stripe to accept payments from customers in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, after a customer’s initial purchase from a retailer is funded by Klarna, the subsequent repayments are all processed by Stripe. Read more

First bitcoin. Then GameStop. Now tiny tungsten cubes - Apparently, online investors crave the tangible pleasure of holding surprisingly heavy metal blocks; 1.7 times as dense as lead! Read more

How Brazil’s Nubank became a $30b fintech company - Backed by Warren Buffett, with more than 40m customers and Brazil’s biggest pop star on its board, Nubank is on the rise. After hitting a $30b valuation in a funding round earlier this year, the Latin American start-up filed for an IPO in the U.S. that could seal its place among the world’s hottest financial technology companies. Read more

AmEx gets younger, more blue collar - AmEx said that card acquisitions hit a record level in the third quarter for U.S. small-business and consumer Platinum and Gold cards. The company noted that goods-and-services spending by global small- and medium-size enterprises in the third quarter was 21% above the same period in 2019. Large and global corporate-card spending, historically driven by travel and entertainment, “continued to show fewer signs of recovery.” Read more

China trading apps tank after official calls them ‘illegal’ - China’s largest cross-border brokers plummeted in U.S. trading after a central bank official questioned the legitimacy of their operations amid Beijing’s continuing crackdown on private enterprise. Read more

Mastercard partners with Bakkt to bring cryptocurrency payments to the masses - The companies said the partnership will make it easier for banks, financial-technology firms and merchants to offer and accept crypto payments. Banks and other financial institutions that issue cards through Mastercard will be able to issue cryptocurrency debit or credit cards that let people make payments and earn rewards in bitcoin. Other cryptocurrency assets could follow. Read more

Song lyrics strike a chord with private equity - Movies and adverts have long given older songs such as Fleetwood Mac's “Dreams” the chance of a fresh lease of life, generating years of new royalty revenues for the holders of their publishing rights. But the explosion of music streaming on platforms like Spotify has transformed the scale of the business, increasing the appeal of music rights as an investment in an era of ultra-low interest rates. Read more

Justice Department probes Visa’s relationships with fintech firms - Antitrust investigators are looking into the financial incentives that Visa gave Square, Stripe and PayPal, the people said. Investigators want to know if those deals kept the payments firms from using other card networks or money-movement technologies. Read more

EBANX acquires B2B fintech Juno - EBANX, a fintech firm for payment solutions in Latin America, confirms that it has finalized the acquisition of Juno, a Brazilian payments firm that enables e-commerce via billing and banking services in the South American country. Read more

Nigeria launches Africa’s first digital currency - Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has launched the continent's first digital currency, the e-Naira. The launch also ranks Nigeria among very few nations in the world to adopt the electronic money system which leaders hope will help boost the country's GDP and fight inflation. Read more

Citi rolls out RTP-enabled real time digital bill payments - Building on its position as the world’s leading instant payments bank, Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) division now facilitates digital bill payment for both institutional billers and their consumer customers via the RTP network, the real-time payment system from The Clearing House (TCH). Read more

Select Financings


Acko - Bangalore based digital insurer raised $255m in new funding led by General Atlantic and Multiples PE. Read more

Alchemy - San Francisco based blockchain developer platform raised $250m in Series C funding led by a16z. Read more

Anomaly - New York based payments platform using A.I. and focused on healthcare raised $17m in Seed and Series A funding led by RRE Ventures. Read more

Billie - Berlin based B2B BNPL platform raised $100m in Series C funding led by Dawn Capital. Read more

Citcon - San Jose based payments company raised $30m in Series C funding led by Norwest Venture Partners and Cota Capital. Read more

Clear - India based tax and investing platform raised $75m in Series C funding led by Kora Capital. Read more

CoinList - San Francisco based platform for crypto offerings raised $100m in Series A funding led by Accomplice and Agman Partners. Read more

Coterie Insurance - Cincinnati based insurtech company raised $50m in Series B funding led by Weatherford Capital. Read more

Drip Capital - Palo Alto based cross-border trade finance platform for SMBs raised $40m in Series C funding led by TI Platform. Read more

Groww - India based investing platform raised $251m in Series E funding led by Iconiq Growth. Read more

Justos - Brazil based insurance company raised $35.8m in Series A funding led by Ribbit Capital. Read more

Maxwell - Denver based mortgage software maker raised $28.5m in new funding led by Fin VC. Read more

Moralis - Sweden based blockchain development platform to build decentralized apps raised $13.4m in Seed funding led by EQT Ventures. Read more

QuickNode - Miami based blockchain infrastructure platform that supports applications raised $35m in Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Selfbook - New York based hotel payment startup raised $25m in Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Swap - São Paulo based BaaS startup that helps clients manage their financial operations via its APIs raised $25m in Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Union54 - Zambia based firm that lets companies issue debit cards without a bank or processor raised $3m in Seed funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

YieldX - Miami based fixed income fintech company raised $18m in Series A funding led by Envestnet. Read more

Yokoy - Switzerland based spend management software maker raised $26m in Series A funding led by Left Lane Capital. Read more

Zolve - Bangalore based neobank which aims to help immigrants in the US gain access to financial services raised $40m in Series A funding led by DST Global. Read more


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