5 min read

Feel the fintech love at our Valentine's Day After Dark

Laura Watkins

Recap the biggest live show Fintech Insider: After Dark has ever done below. Listen back here or stream below as Jason, Simon and a panel of special guests tackle some of the biggest and silliest stories of the week.

Walking on to Barry White blaring out over the sound system, Jason and Simon kicked off After Dark IV, the Valentine's Day special - our biggest ever live After Dark show at WeWork Moorgate. With over 300 fintech fans in attendance, the guys introduced a fantastic panel of guests including Valentina Kristensen, Head of Marketing at Oak North; 11:FS Pulse and Research Director, Ross Gallagher; our most prolific podcast guest, co-host of InsurTech Insider, Business Insider analyst and reporter, Sarah Kocianski, and HSBC’s Global Head of Corporate and Institutional Digital, Niall Cameron. Fully provisioned with alcohol and a wealth of terrible Valentine's day puns (courtesy of myself) the panel were all set to unpick the week's top (and often sillier) stories.

Venture capital investment into fintech more than doubles

Kicking off the show with this story from the FT, with help from an Innovate Finance report: Venture investment in UK fintech more than doubles
  • The UK experienced its best year on record in 2017 with $1.8BN over 224 deals of VC investment, up 153% on 2016.
  • The UK ranked second globally in total Capital Invested and Deal Volume, behind the United States.
  • The surge in UK funding contrasted with an 18 per cent drop in global fintech investments to $14.4bn
  • The UK overtook China to take second place worldwide, behind the US
  • Challenger Banks (24%) and Money Transfer & FX (21%) were the top 2 verticals.
  • TransferWise, OakNorth, Funding Circle, Interactive Investor and Monzo led the top 5 top UK deals in the range of $90M to $280M of investment.
  • Both TransferWise and OakNorth ranked amongst the global top 20 deal list.
Valentina tells us about OakNorth's funding taking them to unicorn status - but was there a unicorn crowning ceremony? Sarah points out that there were fewer deals in 2017 but the deals themselves were more valuable - "more money good, less deals, not so good?" - which is fine as long as small businesses don't lose out. Sarah also questions will big companies who've gained a lot of funding use it to go elsewhere? Ross G says it's an "incredible turnaround" for the UK considering the uncertainty for the UK in the wake of Brexit. Moving on from UK fintech investment to hip hop investment, and a Blockchain Insider story….

Jay Z’s Roc Nation invests in Robin Hood - is this the new celeb crypto endorsement?

Next up they took on a Blockchain Insider story, from TechCrunch depicting Jay-Z's Roc Nation's investment in Robinhood via Roc Nation’s Arrive subsidiary. Jay-Z’s got 99 problems but investment/millennials ain’t one (#sorrynotsorry). Robinhood is popular with other Hip Hop superstars besides JayZ - Snoop Dogg and Nas are also investors. Is this Robinhood investment the equivalent of the now outlawed (geddit) celebrity crypto endorsements? Sarah reminds us that crypto is only a small part of what Robinhood do, but Simon says that it's a fantastic advert for customer acquisition to associate big names with the brand. Niall Cameron concurs: "If you're going to target a 28year old millennial, who better to use than a rap star?" - Niall Cameron Ross talks us through the manner in which this investment has occurred, via Roc Nation's subsidiary called Arrive which specialising in helping start ups and small businesses get off the ground. In which case this is not a nominal investment, it's a real, genuine backing from Jay Z and Roc Nation. This does much to boost the legitimacy of both Robinhood and the investment: "there's a layer of legitimacy around this that we haven't seen in the past" - Ross G. Sarah agrees: "Jay Z's not a fool when it comes to money - he doesn't spend money to lose money."
"There's a layer of legitimacy around this that we haven't seen in the past" - Ross G.

France and Germany call for regulation of crypto at the G20

While we’re on the topic of crypto, the team also discuss France & Germany's call for joint G20 action on cryptocurrencies. The finance ministers and central bank governors of France and Germany called for the policy and monetary implications of crypto-currencies to be placed on the agenda of the upcoming G20 meeting of the largest advanced and developing economies. From their joint statement: “We believe there may be new opportunities arising from the tokens and the technologies behind them...However, tokens could pose substantial risks for investors and can be vulnerable to financial crime without appropriate measures. In the longer run, potential risks in the field of financial stability may emerge as well.” Simon summarises their intensions with this simple statement:"To me it sounds like they're trying to figure out what the heck is a token... and are people getting burned? And the answer is probably yes."
"To me it sounds like they're trying to figure out what the heck is a token... and are people getting burned? And the answer is probably yes."
They go onto discuss the international nature of crypto currencies that calls for international regulation, or at least an international understanding of the crypto space: "There's no country bitcoin comes from, unlike sterling - regulators need to be co-ordinated, which is unprecedented." - Simon Taylor. Sarah is concerned that with the speed of industry changes, the governing bodies just aren't keeping up and the time it'll take to put together a global strategy is too long - "how long will it take them to put the paper together?" and the market will have moved on. Is forming a global strategy where everyone agrees actually the best idea? Our panel agree that legitimisation from within the industry itself might be the best solution, rather than being regulated at an international scale by regulators outside the industry itself.

Insurtech - Uber and Waymo settle their divorce

Moving from Blockchain Insider to Insurtech Insider, Sarah took us through this piece from Business Insider: Uber and Waymo have reached a $245 million settlement in their legal fight over self-driving-car technology. As part of the settlement, Waymo, the self-driving-car unit owned by Google's parent company, will receive $245 million of equity in Uber. (0.2% of Uber's current worth, points out Sarah.) Uber will pay Waymo a package that includes 0.34% of Uber equity pegged to a $72 billion valuation for the ride-hailing company, according to a person familiar with the settlement. Uber's CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, said he wanted to "express regret for the actions" that led to the lawsuit. "We agree that Uber's acquisition of Otto could and should have been handled differently," he wrote, referring to the self-driving-technology company Uber purchased in 2016. "There is no question that self-driving technology is crucial to the future of transportation—a future in which Uber intends to play an important role. Through that lens, the acquisition of Otto made good business sense." Jason says that the biggest story here is that the guy behind the debate in the first place has now founded his own religion, to "praise the godhead of AI who's going to save us all". Valentina says that the way this was settled was actually a good example of how to react well and make the settlement, without a huge court case - "they settled the divorce and didn't fight over the kids" says Sarah.
"They settled the divorce and didn't fight over the kids" - Sarah Kocianski.

Monzo goes stateside

This story from the Independent reports on Monzo's plans for US expansion.Tom Blomfield told CNBC that Monzo is in the “very, very early stages” of discussions with US regulators. Mr Blomfield said that he believes the cultural similarities that the US has with Britain makes it an attractive market. - “I think there is a big opportunity to use modern technology to launch a real consumer facing bank that does the kinds of things consumers expect from a smartphone." Will the Americans love Monzo as much as the UK/London? Will hot coral be hot stuff in the US, will it become a chat up line as was widely reported about Monzo in the UK? Sarah disagrees that the UK and US are culturally similar when it comes to banking, and that we shouldn't assume that America has no neo banks - "by the time the British banks get there, there'll be no space to play in, the Americans will have got there first". Valentina also points out that in the US there's a different regulator for every state, so getting a banking licence to cover all of them could be a time consuming process. Ross flags that this story speaks to global expansion on Monzo's behalf and some strong headlines - but in reality they've started much smaller with their move into Ireland.

Monese goes intergalactic

From one giant leap across the pond, to a giant leap for mankind, Ross took us through this piece on Fintech Finance regarding Monese's intentions of creating the first Interplanetary Banking Service. To celebrate a successful launch for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, Monese opens the queue for a banking service available on Mars. They have kicked off a waiting list for anyone on Earth to register for the first Martian account and interplanetary banking service. Norris Koppel, CEO said “Our ambition is to build out our core product based on the ability to serve humans regardless wherever they live. Our early adopters will need a safe and secure place to access and transfer their money back to planet earth. We of course would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with Elon Musk, the SpaceX team and those interested in Martian economics.” This is probably nothing more than clever PR, riffing on SpaceX’s rocket launch and Monese’s USP of bank accounts for immigrants, but it makes for a good story."I love this story" says Ross "if all this achieves is to raise the profile of financial inclusion, that can't be a bad thing"... "this is definitely a PR play" says Simon.
"I love this story, if all this achieves is to raise the profile of financial inclusion, that can't be a bad thing" - Ross G
Jason claims 11:FS as the first inter planetary regulator - you heard it here first. However, our audience were not convinced, no one sounded too keen to have a Martian bank account! Not sure how a Martian bank account would look? Want to learn more about Monese before signing up? We have journeys from Monese showing you how an Earth-bound account looks and works right now on our 11:FS Pulse competitor insights platform. We have a good range of user journeys from on-boarding to activating a card. To find out more about Pulse head to 11fs.com/pulse.

Alibaba does a thing!

Back on earth they discuss Ant Financial's plans for $5bn in funding ahead of IPO. Ant Financial is set to raise around $5bn in a funding round expected to value Alibaba at more than $100bn, according to people familiar with the matter. The move sets an early marker for its keenly anticipated IPO. If the offering pulls in as much as anticipated - some suggest it may imply a valuation as high as $120bn, or twice the level achieved in its last fundraising nearly two years ago. Ant would become the world’s biggest unicorn ahead of ride-hailing Uber, which is valued at $72bn.
"This is going to be an IPO like you've never seen" - Sarah Kocianski
Valentina teaches us the difference between different qualifications of unicorn: a centicorn, a decicorn and a hepticorn - apparently in this instance Alibaba would become a centicorn (over $100 billion).

42 quotes denying innovation - who said what?

We turned this excellent story into a game: Foot In Mouth: 42 Quotes From Big Corporate Execs Who Laughed Off Disruption When It Hit
We picked the best quotes, read them to the room and our audience had to guess what they’re talking about. The biggest clangers in the piece were these five quotations:
  1. “If there were a rumour that Mercedes or Daimler planned to start building smartphones then they would not be sleepless at night, and the same applies to me.” - Dieter Zetsche, head of Daimler on Apple/Google making driverless car
  2. It’s creating something out of nothing that to me is worth nothing,” he said. “It will end badly.” -Jamie Dimon on Bitcoin
  3. “It won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Daryl Zanuck, co-founder of 20th Century Fox on Television
  4. “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone … PC guys are not going to just figure this out,” -Palm CEO Ed Colligan, on the iPhone”
  5. “Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition...It’s more Wal-Mart and Apple.” - Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes
“Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition...It’s more Wal-Mart and Apple.” - Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes

Noel Edmond’s radio station

We closed the show on some of the sillier stories from the last week, starting with this excellent one from the BBC regarding Noel Edmonds' new radio station designed to get back at Lloyds. Channeling a teenage girl who’s just been dumped, Noel Edmonds has set up an online radio station called Positively Noel, which he is using to get revenge on Lloyds bank and playing sad songs about losing money and not giving up the fight. Seeking £60m compensation from Lloyds after falling victim to a multi-million pound fraud a decade ago.The former Deal or No Deal presenter is pursuing the banking giant over losses he claims he suffered when his former business Unique Group collapsed. Between songs, he plays messages about his case and encourages Lloyds staff to call his whistleblowing hotline. Lloyds disputes his claim that the fraud caused his business to collapse. The company declined to comment about his radio station. Sarah and Ross come up with an ingenious way to make Noel back his money - they invent a new crypto currency called BlobbyCoin. Jason immediately buys the domain name blobbycoin.com and starts the ICO - "it's worth about $4.2bn already" - Niall Cameron.

Couples workout sessions?

From one tale of desperation to (potentially) another... and in the spirit of Valentine's Day we closed on this story from Business Insider regarding a video of a former Goldman Sachs boss bench-pressing his wife. 58 year-old Alexander Dibelius, the former head of Goldman Sachs’ German operation has appeared in a video lifting his wife Laila Maria Witt, (24 years his junior) in the gym as an alternative to lifting weights. She is in the splits position as he lifts her, our panel agree that that is the more impressive stunt than the lifting! What point is he trying to prove? Is working out important for your career? Is he punching above his weight? Our panel debate. Check out the video below!
Thanks to all of our guests on the show, and to everyone who came to watch the show live, we couldn't do any of it without you. Stay tuned for After Dark V! Listen back to the episode in full here. To ensure you never miss an episode, subscribe to Fintech Insider now! Come talk to us @11FSTeam or @FintechInsiders on Twitter or hello@11fs.com if you want to send us an email.

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 Laura Watkins
About the author

Laura Watkins

Laura is Head of Content Creation for 11:FS. At 11:FS she writes and produces the content for the Fintech Insider, Insurtech Insider and Blockchain Insider podcasts, as well as live events, video content and sponsored content for global clients including Microsoft, RBS and many more.

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