Welcome to The Interchange! If you received this in your inbox, thank you for signing up and for your vote of confidence. If you read this as a post on our site, sign up HERE so you can receive it directly in the future. Each week, we take a look at the hottest fintech news of the past week. This will include everything from funding rounds to trends to analysis of a particular space to hot takes on a particular company or event. There’s a lot of fintech news out there and it’s our job to stay on top of it – and make sense of it – so you can stay informed. — Mary Ann and Christine
Hi, hi. Christine and I deviated a bit from our usual fintech coverage this week to do some investigative reporting. We watched Newchip, an Austin-based accelerator that recently exploded. In our humble opinions, it’s definitely worth a read. While it’s not focused solely on fintech startups, it’s a complex story of a troubled accelerator that claims to help entrepreneurs “succeed.” Some founders claim that it has done anything but, while a group of employees are not so happy with the way the company is run that they walked out two weeks ago. There was a lot of back and forth, and while we’re not sure what went on behind closed doors, it’s sad to see any organization that aims to serve the startup community end up in this situation – especially those affected founders and employees.
On a purely fintech note, we saw a flurry of insurtech funding rounds last week! TechCrunch reported four such increases alone, including Wefox, Obey, bolttech and Figor. This prompted TC+ editor Alex Wilhelm to dig deeper and conclude that “despite the tumultuous IPOs, there’s good reason to be optimistic about insurtech startups.” — Mary Ann
Moving on to Apple, Step has launched a 5% savings account
For the past few years, every time I looked at the monthly dividend in my bank account, I said to myself, “The bank can only keep that 6 cents.” Well, neobanks and other fintech companies think we should get better returns too.
This week, I wrote about Lakang, the digital banking service aimed at teenagers and young adults, which announced a great 5% rate for its savings accounts.
While the rate is important, I want to point out how widely known that few Americans can afford $400 in an emergency, so it’s good to see Step and others pointing out ways to encourage people to save more.
The news comes about a month after Apple launched a savings account rate of 4.15%. Step co-founder and CEO CJ MacDonald told TechCrunch that it has always been the company’s goal to offer the highest rate; however, you can’t help but wonder if Apple’s entry into the market might have encouraged neobanks and other financial organizations to close the gap.
Learn how the 5% Step account works. — Christine
As Manish Singh reports: “The founders of ZestMoney resigned from the start, the latest twist in the fortunes of the Indian fintech whose ability to underwrite small-ticket loans to first-time internet customers once earned the backing of several high- profile investors, including Goldman Sachs. Lizzie Chapman, Priya Sharma and Ashish Anantharaman, the founders of ZestMoney, informed employees about their decision on Monday. More here.
After recently gaining another start, Ribbonreal estate fintech EasyKnock confirmed that it has laid off 10% of its employees. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that the decision is “part of a larger effort to accelerate” the company’s “path to profitability and ensure long-term business continuity.”
In the WTF section of our newsletter: The boss of Revolut UK told the customer that he would wait for him with a shotgun.
If it feels like every week a corporate finance company is releasing new features, it’s because… that’s what happened. Here’s the latest: Ramp to introduce AI tools for tracking business expenses. Also, Fintech Ramp launches money-saving AI tools for businesses, Microsoft CEO announces, more investors.
Truist invites clients to play the financial health ‘Long Game’ (TechCrunch covered the news when Truist acquired the Long Game in an effort to appeal to the younger demographic in 2022.)
Stripe powers Bank Payments for Airbnb
Alpha goes public: your AI-powered investment sidekick for smarter decisions
Funds and M&A
Spotted by TechCrunch
Wefox secured new funding at a $4.5 billion valuation as it targets revenue
UK pension startup Smart banks $95M
Cold-chain startup Figorr raises $1.5M, backs launch of data-driven perishables insurance
M-KOPA raises $250M+ in debt, equity for its asset financing platform
Spiff begins ‘massive overhaul of core sales commission engine’ after $50M Series C
Insurtech bolttech raises $196M at $1.6B valuation from investors like MetLife
Tiger Global-backed Axis launches digital payments platform for Egyptian SMEs months after its $8.25M seed round
Percent lands a $30M investment to connect private credit investors
Landlord-focused insurtech Obie raises $25.5M led by Battery Ventures
Shopping platform Zip raises $100M at a $1.5 billion valuation
Accounting software company Tipalti gets $150M in growth investment
PayIt made its first acquisition with the purchase of S3
Avenue One’s rental platform has reached a $1 billion valuation
Co-branded credit card startup Cardless secures $75M line of credit
Fintech Maxwell acquires mortgage solutions provider LenderSelect
Again, thanks for reading and for all your support! We are grateful to you. See you next week! xoxoxo, Mary Ann and Christine
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