Affirm files to go public; Jamie Dimon still doesn't care for bitcoin

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Going public

Affirm has formally filed with the SEC for an initial public offering, demonstrating the growing popularity of alternatives to credit cards.

Affirm's IPO, which could value the company as high as $10 billion, has been rumored for months, following an expansion that includes a partnership with Shopify that gives Affirm access to more merchants--its current network totals about 6,000. Affirm in September raised $500 million from a group of investors including Lightspeed Ventures and Wellington Capital Company.

Other firms that offer point of sale credit, or installment payments — such as Klarna and Splitit — have also grown quickly in 2020 as consumers seek to avoid revolving credit during the economic slowdown that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic.

Max Levchin, founder and CEO of Affirm.

Building block

PayPal Ventures has invested about $11 million in digital payments startup Modulr, which has recently cleared several hurdles to build its U.K. network.

Modulr uses open banking rails to support digital payments for gig workers and transactions involving fintechs. In recent months it has gained access to Faster Payments and Bacs, two U.K. schemes that enable near real-time processing and digital clearing. Modulr has additionally obtained a digital money license in Ireland and signed partnerships with Visa and Mastercard.

PayPal Ventures' investment follows a $23 million round from Highland Europe in May, and brings Modulr's total to about $70 million.

Still not sold

While stopping short of calling bitcoin a "fraud" as he did three years ago, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is still a naysayer, but has softened, saying bitcoin is not his "cup of tea."

Dimon did say there's potential for blockchain technology to enable global money movement, reports Coindesk, which quoted Dimon speaking at The New York Times Dealbook Conference. But Dimon said heavy government regulation of bitcoin is likely on the way, and admitted "smart people" are buying into bitcoin.

JPMorgan Chase in October rebranded its blockchain unit, calling it Liink. It also reorganized its blockchain projects as a potential way to promote use of JPM Coin, the bank's digital currency.

ABCs of P2P

Zelle is working with online education firm EverFi to bring digital financial literacy lessons to U.S. high schools.

The bank-powered P2P app operated by Early Warning Services will offer the free course at 650 schools covering personal finance concepts, digital banking basics, ID theft and fraud protection tips and managing P2P transactions, according to a press release.

Zelle said banks and credit unions may co-sponsor the program, which runs through 2021.

Cab code

HIPS Payment Group has landed a deal to deploy contactless payments for dozens of taxi companies in Scandinavia.

The taxis will use QR code payments, which HIPS is positioning as a way to boost overall contactless payments as more consumers look to avoid handing cash or physical contact with a payment terminal.

HIPS considers QR codes an easier deployment for contactless taxi payments since it requires a sticker that attaches to the car, rather than a full replacement of a payment terminal or NFC reader.

From the web

Former Wirecard boss Braun to be quizzed by German lawmakers
REUTERS | Thursday, November 19, 2020
BERLIN (Reuters) - Wirecard’s former boss Markus Braun is due to appear before a German parliamentary committee on Thursday, temporarily leaving jail to testify over the collapse of what was once hailed as Germany’s leading financial technology firm.

African fintech startup Chipper Cash raises $30M backed by Jeff Bezos
TECHCRUNCH | Thursday, November 19, 2020
African cross-border fintech startup Chipper Cash has raised a $30 million Series B funding round led by Ribbit Capital with participation of Bezos Expeditions — the personal VC fund of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Largest crypto investment manager tops $10 billion in assets
REUTERS | Wednesday, November 19, 2020
The world’s largest digital currency asset manager Grayscale said on Wednesday its assets under management soared to a record $10.4 billion, bolstered by the continued rise in investment inflows as well as the surge in the price of bitcoin.

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