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!
While we would love for all startups to succeed, the reality is that the vast majority fail.
It’s not something that people often talk about, because quite frankly, it can be a downer topic. But failure is a part of life, and many founders who don’t succeed once do try, try, and try again. However, before they can fully dedicate themselves to a new venture, they have to deal with the one that didn’t work out. And it turns out, shutting down a startup is not easy.
Enter SimpleClosure. True to its name, this five-month-old company is out to make closing a company more simple. And faster and cheaper, too.
If a company you’ve invested a ton of time and money into is not working out, the last thing you want to do is spend even more time and money on it. Well, SimpleClosure claims it can help you wind down in “weeks” as opposed to months, and for a fraction of the cost that a legacy provider might charge you.
Notably, the company recently raised $1.5 million in funding, without necessarily even intending to. Co-founder Dori Yona was at Fintech Meetup and pitched the idea for the company to a group of investors. Without a pitch deck. By the next day, he had $1.5 million in commitments.
As my dear friend, colleague and Equity podcast co-host Alex Wilhelm put it — should we take it as a bad sign that investors (e.g., Vera Equity, Cambrian Ventures and a slew of executives from startups such as Brex, Plaid, Gusto and Nvidia) clamored to back a startup that wants to help other startups shut down? Not necessarily, I might argue. Even in the best of times, there are going to be startup failures. Maybe especially in the best of times, there will be even more startups born — and funded — and failing.
So here’s to efforts to make it less painful! — Mary Ann
As reported by Carly Page: “Fintech giant Square said Friday its services were coming back online after a daylong outage left small business owners unable to process payments. The Block-owned company had, up until Friday morning on the U.S. West Coast, been battling a prolonged outage that had downed its services since Thursday afternoon.” More here.
Reports Manish Singh: “Some of India’s biggest fintech startups are making deeper inroads into soundboxes, unveiling a new push to the pocket-sized devices whose chimes are fast becoming the new ‘ka-ching’ for millions of Indian merchants. Paytm, whose soundbox leads the market and is used by over 7 million merchants, launched an advanced version of the device that doubles as a card machine, accepting offerings from RuPay, Visa, Mastercard and American Express.” More here.
From Kate Park comes a story about Firstcard raising $4.7 million to help college students build better credit. It is the latest in a long line of companies, like Greenlight, shifting focus of financial health to the next generation through credit cards. Teens aren’t interested in just credit cards, though. A new report from Fidelity says investing is on teenagers' minds, but only one in four has started trying to invest because they think they are too young. With apps like Bloom, Copper and Step simplifying how investing works for teens and Gen Z, it’s not a surprise that bigger financial players, including Fidelity, want in. Fidelity’s new Fidelity Youth app is a free program building on its existing Fidelity Youth Account that helps teens save, spend and invest their own money while also learning financial skills.
Y Combinator Demo Day happened last week. Here’s a tiny morsel of the fintech companies that ended up being TechCrunch favorites:
Coba: Enables users to earn in U.S. dollars and spend in Mexican pesos.
Cheq: Access to India’s UPI payment infra for noncitizens.
Envelope: Neobank with a focus on budgeting.
Flex: Stripe for HSA/FSA payments.
“At last, we now possess the capability for contactless and peer-to-peer payments, a feature that has been accessible in other regions for many years. Now the U.S. Federal Reserve launched FedNow, a new instant payment infrastructure, joining nations like Mexico, India, Brazil, Singapore, and the EU in fostering momentum toward facilitating immediate payments and transactions. While banks strive to maintain innovation for catering to customer demands and enhancing their competitive advantage, they will discover that achieving this becomes challenging unless they adapt their approach to assessing and integrating new technological solutions,” writes guest author Chris Zingo, who is the chief revenue officer at Fenergo. More here.
While this news isn’t exclusively fintech, it’s relevant to all industries, in our humble opinion. Mary Ann wrote about Mentra, a startup that aims to match neurodivergent jobseekers with ideal jobs. Neurodivergent individuals often have a harder time finding jobs than their non-neurodivergent counterparts. Unemployment for neurodivergent adults runs at least as high as 30% to 40% — three times the rate for people with disability and eight times the rate for people without disability, according to UConn’s Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation. Some neurodivergent individuals may lack the social skills necessary to go through a grueling interview process, and others may simply not have the confidence to apply. But in fact, this population may have specialized skill sets that not only make them good candidates but also make them even better suited for certain roles than non-neurodivergent people. The Charlotte, North Carolina–based startup, whose three co-founders are all autistic, is building what it describes as an AI-powered “neuroinclusive employment network.” Specifically, its tech platform leverages artificial intelligence to help large enterprises hire employees with cognitive differences such as autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More here.
Other items we are reading:
How Deel became payout provider for prop trading firms, including site frozen by CFTC (TechCrunch recently reported on how California politicians are probing into alleged questionable hiring practices on the part of Deel.)
Look who’s partnering now:
Fundraising and M&A
Seen on TechCrunch
US fintech Ampla secures $258M credit facility with Goldman Sachs and Atalaya (TechCrunch covered Ampla’s $40 million Series A in December of 2021.)
Discover the Fintech Stage at Disrupt 2023
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Image Credits: Bryce Durbin