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Unusual strategies for extraordinary results


This week in fintech

April 12 · Issue #55 · View online

A weekly summary of the latest news in our world of finance, design, and technology.

  • 💳 Payments: eBay is dropping Paypal, Glow in the dark cards and QR-codes
  • 🔥 Embedded fintech
  • ⛓ Crypto: a bubble bursting soon?
  • 🏎 Car companies renewing
  • 🎙 Taylor Swift, Javascript and Softbank

♟ Unusual strategies
Ramp makes a corporate card that wants to help companies spend less money. They are playing in a crowded space, against multi-billion dollar competitors, by actively trying to get customers to pay them less money. How are they thriving in this environment? Some could be attributed to their unusual strategies. All their competitors are reward-based, but Ramp wants their customers to use their cards less, so why incentivize companies to spend more? It might make them less money in the short term, but this makes Ramp especially popular for startups. Some of the fastest-growing startups in the world are clients of Ramp. Fast growth works both ways: the good things snowball, but the bad things do too. Ramp helps its customers eliminate wasteful spend that quickly can get out of control. And at the same time Ramp grows exponentially with their clients.
Ramp is in a sweet spot: They are more tech than the corporate card companies and more corporate card than the tech companies. Much like Stripe. This might be why Stripe invested in Ramp last week when Ramp raised $115 million in two back-to-back rounds.
One reason Ramp is popular was shown when they this week launched a new feature: a direct integration with 1Password, making it possible to spin up virtual cards per vendor and have them automatically saved in 1Password. Go ahead and watch the simple user journey of creating a virtual card, adding it to 1password and pay.
Speaking of unusual strategies: Square has made a lot of unusual decisions when building and marketing Cash App. Some of these things make no sense, but at the same time is the reason Square is successful. Just search on “Cash app” on Spotify to see an example. Alex Johnson from Cornerstone Advisors is unpacking the challenge of building (and sustaining) a multi-product banking ecosystem in a two-part blog series. These two posts should be required reading for anyone building for consumers. Part 1 Part 2
💳 Payments: eBay is dropping Paypal, Glow in the dark cards and QR-codes
  • eBay drops PayPal as its payment service after they spun PayPal off in 2015. When that happened, they agreed to a five-year transition period which now has ended. Since July 2020, eBay has begun transitioning its 19m sellers to “Managed Payments” (its own solution built w/ Adyen), but at the end of 2020, only 1 million sellers had migrated. Link
  • Facebook confirms it’s testing a new QR code feature and payment links for use with Facebook Pay to make it easier for people in the US to send or request money from one another. Link
  • Revolut has launched a glow-in-the-dark debit card in partnership with two-times world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua as part of a program to raise funds for independent boxing gyms across the UK. Link
  • Transfers on Venmo, USAs take of Vipps, are public and can be seen by anyone. We’re talking about everything from who to who, message text, and amount if you don’t mark the payment as private. Link
🔥 Embedded fintech
  • Embedded fintech is soon going to be everywhere. But the fact is that embedded fintech has existed for a long time. Pick up your debit or credit card. I can bet it has a Visa or Mastercard logo. In other words: your bank embeds third-party financial technology to provide you with an additional service you can sign up for with no effort. Here is a nice primer on embedded fintech. Link
  • Neonomics is helping Experian with credit score streamlining. In short, the collaboration means that Neonomics goes in and retrieves data from bank accounts. These are then fed into a machine learning solution that Experian has, which categorizes transactions to make a more individual credit assessment of the applicants. Link
⛓ Crypto: a bubble bursting soon?
  • GitHub is having issues with attackers mining crypto on their servers. The attack happens on projects having automated workflows that test incoming pull requests via automated jobs. The attackers then add crypto mining as part of a pull request, and GitHub spins up a virtual machine running the code. I’m guessing automated workflows is soon a paid feature in GitHub. Link
  • Øyvind (23) sold digital art for 200 000 kroner in one month. Two clear signs the NFT-bubble will burst soon: the local newspaper writing about it and persons suddenly making a lot of money. Link
  • In 2014, Anil Dash made a prototype of NFT. Now he reflects that NFT in its current form weren’t supposed to end up like this. Link
  • Andreessen Horowitz has created a curated list of readings and resources on all things NFTs. It is organized from the big picture of what NFTs are and why they matter, to how to mint, collect, and do more with them — including various applications such as art, music, gaming, social tokens, and others. Link
  • David Gerard, on the other side, writes about Bitcoin, blockchains, Ethereum, and smart contracts — what these ideas are, why they don’t work in practice, and the sort of people attracted to them. Link
🏎 Car companies renewing
  • Tesla now lets you (try to) buy your car with Bitcoin. The support-site makes it clear that Bitcoin has a few UX problems: “And remember that you’re responsible (not us) for entering the correct Bitcoin amount and Bitcoin recipient” Link
  • Last week, we wrote about BMW, which had added paid software upgrades in some of their cars. But what happens if you have paid for a software feature in your car that is coming soon? This has happened with many Tesla owners who paid up to $10 000 for the ‘full self-driving’ packages that Tesla sells. Tesla took the money on the basis that this will be turned on soon, but self-driving does not exist yet, and neither Tesla nor anyone else is close to having it working. I guess we’ll soon see lawsuits. Link
  • Kia has rebranded with a dramatically different logo design resembling a handwritten signature. Link
  • Renault unveils a new geometric logo in a “timeless” rebrand. Link
🎙 Taylor Swift, Javascript and Softbank
  • A fascinating story about Taylor Swift, intellectual property law, due dilligence disasters and Taylor Swift one-upping people trying to earn money on her behalf. Link
  • Craig Mod has written about the healing power of Javascript. That, for some, code is therapy – an escape and a path to hope in a troubled world. Link
  • You can’t make this up: Last week, we heard Softbank invest in Oda (former Kolonial). Here is another hilarious SoftBank earnings- presentation. It is perfectly balancing the line between meme, WTF, and business stock photos. And surprisingly many ducks laying golden eggs.  Link
🙏 Don't keep it a secret!
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Marius Hauken, partner Stacc X
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