Posted In:

Earnings, Banking, Crypto

Watch-out, BladeRunner’s Voight-Kampff Test is Coming to You!


Aug 14, 2023


Sarah Parsons Wolter

Posted In:

Earnings, Banking, Crypto


Aug 14, 2023


Sarah Parsons Wolter


On July 24, Sam Altman backed Worldcoin launched its cryptocurrency WLD, and the company announced its user numbers: 2.1m sign-ups and 500,000 monthly active users. For a company founded 3 years ago, these metrics would have been impressive. Except that it pales in comparison to ChatGPT, powered by Altman’s OpenAI, which reached 1m users within 5 days of launch.

Internally, these figures also fell short of expectations, which was expected to be 30m sign ups and 5m monthly active users by the end of 2022. The customer acquisition strategy of Worldcoin, which is designed to create a biometric identity network and recreate the global financial system, is to encourage people to scan their eyeballs in return for their digital identity and, in some countries, free cryptocurrency. The implementation has been less than smooth, with cases of fraud and glitches being reported.

And they’re not the only ones collecting biometric data - the University of California, Berkeley published a study in February that showed a 94% accuracy rate for picking out a single person amongst 50,000 VR users from 200 seconds of motion data. As VR headsets gain momentum, machine learning models will be able to predict height, weight, Income and marital status amongst other personal information from just watching your eye movements. Will you have the same reaction to Zuck’s or Sam Altman’s “Voight-Kampff’ test that Leon the Replicant did in BladeRunner back in 1982?

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Portfolio News

MoneyLion announces second quarter 2023 results - MoneyLion delivered revenue of $107m and Adjusted EBITDA of $9m in the second quarter. Revenue, gross profit margin, and Adjusted EBITDA all exceeded the high end of guidance. For the third quarter of 2023, revenue is expected to be $110 to $115m, gross profit margin 55% to 60% and Adjusted EBITDA of $6 to $10m. Read more

BladeRunner’s Voight-Kampff Test is Coming to You!

VR headsets give enough data for AI to accurately guess income, ethnicity, and more - Blending virtual reality with artificial intelligence could turn into a privacy nightmare. In a UC Berkeley study, researchers could pick out a single person from more than 50,000 other VR users with more than 94% accuracy after analyzing just 200 seconds of motion data. Users level of income, disability status, health status, even things like political preference could be guessed with a high level of accuracy. Read more

Sam Altman’s eyeball-scanning crypto project Worldcoin is having an identity crisis - Is it a crypto company? A biometric authentication platform? A “human economic system”? Inside Worldcoin’s struggle to find itself. Read more

Industry News

PayPal launches dollar-backed stablecoin, boosting shares - Payments giant PayPal said on Monday it has launched a U.S. dollar stablecoin, becoming the first major financial technology firm to embrace digital currencies for payments and transfers. Read more

Rates on savings accounts are higher than millions of mortgages - The discrepancy illustrates an unusual situation in the economy. During the period of historically low rates during the pandemic, millions of homeowners refinanced or took out mortgages below 4%. Now, after several hikes by the Fed, borrowing costs have surged to nearly 7% for a 30-year, fixed rate loan. Homeowners are reluctant to move and give that up, fueling an acute shortage of available homes. Read more

How the pandemic shifted America's geography of income - When millions of Americans rethought their living situations during the pandemic, their moves changed the geography of where money is made in the United States. Not only did residents leave the biggest cities, but those who left disproportionately had high incomes, meaning the hit to those local economies was larger than migration numbers alone would imply. Read more

Americans’ credit card debt hits a record $1t - Although the labor market is strong, the economy is growing, and consumer spending is increasing, persistently high inflation coupled with spiking interest rates have weighed down consumers — especially those who were not among the 14m homeowners who refinanced during the pandemic, locking in ultra-low interest rates and extracting $430b in the process. Read more

NYSE, Nasdaq battle for new listings in sign of IPO awakening - Exchanges make money each time a stock they host changes hands, but trading volumes are unpredictable. Listing fees, by contrast, are stable, and can add up to as much as a half-million dollars a year per company. Winning big listings confers coveted bragging rights. Read more

Banks face stepped-up scrutiny from Fed over crypto activities - The Fed said this week it had set up a program to strengthen oversight of activities involving digital assets and blockchain technology by the lenders it oversees. The program will also focus on banks’ partnerships with firms that aren’t lenders, such as fintech companies, to provide services to customers. Read more

Wall Street WhatsApp, texting fines exceed $2.5b - Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas are among firms that will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties for employees using unofficial communications like WhatsApp, personal texts or email to conduct business — the latest in US regulators’ crackdown on Wall Street’s failure to keep records. Read more

Moody’s cuts ratings of 10 U.S. banks and puts some big names on downgrade watch - The firm lowered the ratings of 10 banks by one rung, while major lenders Bank of New York Mellon, U.S. Bancorp, State Street, Truist Financial, Cullen/Frost Bankers and Northern Trust are now under review for a potential downgrade. Moody’s also changed its outlook to negative for 11 banks, including Capital One, Citizens Financial and Fifth Third Bancorp. Read more

Binance receives license to offer Bitcoin, digital asset services in El Salvador - Binance said it received two licenses to operate in El Salvador this week as it seeks to build its legitimacy worldwide, adding that it now has licenses in 18 markets. Read more

FTC drops antitrust lawsuit against ICE-Black Knight merger - ICE had initially agreed in May 2022 to pay $13.1b, or $85 per share, for home mortgage software provider Black Knight. At the time, ICE already already had agreed to sell Black Knight's Empower loan origination business, but the FTC didn't find that divestiture sufficient. Then last month, ICE also agreed to sell Black Knight's Optimal Blue product pricing and eligibility engine for $700m. Read more

Rising money flows, fueled by record migration, prop up autocrats - More people than ever are migrating worldwide, with millions of people sending home record amounts of cash that fund small businesses in Uganda and feed families from Ecuador to Nepal. But the remittances also provide critical support to fragile states and autocratic regimes which rely on money earned by their citizens abroad to keep their economies afloat. Read more

US will have to write off billions in student debt due to deaths - The US government will have to write off billions of dollars of student loans from borrowers who died during the pandemic, adding another complication to a system ill-equipped to handle the resumption of payments this fall. Read more

India passes landmark data protection bill - With almost 1bn people connected to the internet, India has pioneered one of the world’s largest digitization drives, capturing citizens’ personal information and building out an extensive network of digital infrastructure. It is now poised to enact a controversial and long-delayed personal data protection bill. Read more

Insurers rack up $50b in losses from natural catastrophes this year - The global insurance industry has racked up $50b in losses from natural catastrophes in the worst start to a year since 2011. A series of widespread thunderstorms in the US and account for 68% of losses in the first half of 2023, and the February earthquake in Turkey and Syria was the single costliest disaster both in terms of economic and insured losses. Read more

Inflation bites: How changing market conditions will influence fintech - Following the increase in interest rates, existing fintech companies such as Revolut and Monzo have already increased their savings rates. New fintech companies appearing in 2023 and 2024 will build products that incentivize customers to hold balances. Read more

Select Financings

40Seas - Tel Aviv based cross-border trade finance startup raised $6m in Seed funding led by Eminence Ventures. Read more

Chargeflow - Israel based chargeback recovery startup raised $11m in Seed funding led by OpenView Venture Partners. Read more

Credgenics - India based debt collection startup raised $50m in Series B funding led by Westbridge Capital. Read more - Los Angeles based web3 transaction security startup raised $8.2m in Seed funding led by Blockchange Ventures. Read more

Endowus - Singapore based wealth management startup raised $35m in new funding led by Citi Ventures. Read more

IVIX - New York based tax compliance platform for tax authorities raised $12.5m in Series A funding led by Insight Partners. Read more

Lula - Miami based insurance infrastructure startup raised $35.5m in Series B funding led by NextView Ventures. Read more

Micro Connect - Hong Kong based capital raising platform for small businesses raised $458m in Series C funding led by Baillie Gifford. Read more

Moove - Amsterdam based vehicle financing startup for gig workers raised $76m in growth funding led by Mubadala. Read more

Parcha - San Francisco based AI compliance platform for financial institutions raised $5m in Seed funding led by Kindred Ventures. Read more

Persefoni - Arizona based climate management and accounting platform raised $50m in Series C1 funding led by TPG Rise. Read more

Rightfoot - San Francisco based consumer-permissioned data connectivity startup raised $15m in Series A funding led by Blue Lion Global. Read more

Veza - Palo Alto based identity management platform raised $15m in Series C funding led by Capital One Ventures and ServiceNow. Read more


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