Welcome back to The Interchange, where we take a look at the hottest fintech news of the previous week. If you want to receive The Interchange directly in your inbox every Sunday, head here to sign up!
What a year
This is the last edition of The Interchange for 2023 — it’s hard to believe that the year is almost over.
It was an eventful 12 months, even if funding was down. We saw a bunch of M&A activity (read about it here, here, here and here), BNPL made a comeback (sort of), new fintech-focused venture firm capital raises (Flourish and Vesey), some startup shutdowns (Daylight is one example) and more layoffs than we would have liked.
And, remember when FedNow went live in the U.S. in July? At the time there were 35 financial institutions on the list, and five months later, more than 330 of them are in the network.
It’s never a dull day in the world of fintech. For a broader look back, stay tuned before year’s end for a deeper dive into the top fintech stories we reported on.
Until then, we wanted to take this opportunity to give heartfelt thanks to all of you, our readers, for supporting us throughout the year. We know you have a plethora of fintech newsletters to choose from, so the fact that you signed up for this one, and keep coming back, means the world to us.
As we head into 2024, we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a New Year ahead filled with much love, peace and happiness. We are grateful for you. — Mary Ann and Christine
Christine reported on layoffs at Bolt, an e-commerce and fintech company, which was at one time the subject of a federal probe. The company, via a spokesperson, confirmed the one-click checkout company laid off 29% of its staff. In an emailed statement, the Bolt spokesperson said the company made the cuts to get Bolt to “an operating model optimized for sustainable growth and efficiency” and so it could set itself up “with the speed and agility required for the next phase of our business.” We’ve been following Bolt for years, and this new round of job cuts is the latest in a handful of other layoffs made since 2022. In May 2022, Mary Ann reported at least 185 employees, or one-third of its workforce, were let go. Bolt, which provides software to retailers to speed up checkout, raised around $1 billion in total venture-backed funding and at one time was valued at $11 billion.
Mary Ann reported on a couple of high-profile executive departures this week. She broke the news that Credit Karma co-founder Nichole Mustard would be stepping down after more than 16 years at the company. Mustard’s decision to step down marks the third known high-profile executive departure at Credit Karma in 2023. Then she wrote about how Opendoor co-founder Eric Wu is leaving the real estate fintech company after 9 years to get back to his startup roots. Notably, Wu has been investing in startups during his time at Opendoor. According to Crunchbase, Wu has backed dozens of companies, including Airtable, Scribe, Roofstock and the now-defunct Zeus Living.
Over on TC+, Jacquelyn Melinek wrote about the fact that while Robinhood’s foray into crypto isn’t necessarily new, the company is still trying to expand its efforts there — even in groups that have typically strayed from the platform. “I think crypto has always been made by very technical people and for technical people,” Johann Kerbrat, the general manager of crypto at Robinhood, said on the Chain Reaction podcast. “At the end of the day, I think customers, when they use crypto, they don’t really care what is the protocol under it? What is the network that you’re using? They just want the thing to work.”
Other items we are reading
Google Pay to add BNPL options early in 2024 (In October, Apple made Apple Pay Later available to all users in the United States, after initially releasing it to a limited number of users back in March.)
Visa acquires Brazilian fintech Pismo in USD$1 billion deal (See TechCrunch coverage on how the Pismo/Visa acquisition initially came about.)
Neobank Dave’s new chatbot achieves 89% resolution rate, CEO says (Head here to read a Q&A Mary Ann conducted with Dave’s founder in March.)
Funding and M&A
As seen on TechCrunch: