BITCOIN AND CRYPTO

MoneyGram Launched Global Crypto-to-cash Service on the Stellar Network

MoneyGram | June 13, 2022

Money_Gram_Launched
MoneyGram and Stellar Development Foundation announced the initial roll-out of a first-of-its-kind global on/off-ramp service for digital wallets to increase the utility of digital assets by creating a bridge between cash and cryptocurrencies. The service, which is the result of a partnership announced in October 2021 between MoneyGram and SDF, is now available in several key remittance markets, including Canada, Kenya, the Philippines, and the United States, for the first wave of users, with global cash-out functionality expected to be available by the end of June 2022.

MoneyGram will provide this service free for the first year to support development.

The collaboration focuses on offering a revolutionary settlement service. The first time, settlement with MoneyGram will occur near-real-time utilizing USDC, one of the dollar digital currencies with the quickest growth rate. This expedites the collecting of cash, increasing efficiency and decreasing risk.

With the debut of this service, users of digital wallets may shift from cash to cryptocurrencies and back to cash without needing a bank account or credit card. In addition, consumers may now visit a MoneyGram facility to either load their digital wallets to access the digital economy or cash out their digital currencies to raise the value of their holdings.

Users of the Stellar-connected digital wallets Vibrant and LOBSTR may now utilize this service at MoneyGram's international retail locations. Additional Stellar-connected wallets will be added soon. This service also establishes a developer platform that will enable additional wallets and service providers within the Stellar ecosystem and beyond to increase the functionality and reach of MoneyGram's integration with the Stellar network. Elliptic, a worldwide leader in crypto asset risk management, will supply MoneyGram with strong blockchain analytics tools. Wyre, a global pioneer in blockchain payments APIs, will assist other wallets, beginning with Airtm, a digital dollar account, in integrating with the MoneyGram service.

MoneyGram will expand the cash-in service to seven additional countries by June. At that time, cash-out capabilities will also be accessible internationally, where authorized by law.

Spotlight

When you think of virtual currency you might think of Bitcoin, the biggest and most recognizable virtual currency out there.  But there are many more virtual currencies, and it seems new ones are popping up all the time. Sometimes a business runs into a unique situation where payment is an issue.  It could be doing business internationally or conducting a business that is legal at the state level but not at the federal level.


Other News
FINTECH

BlackRock Launches Industry’s First BuyWrite Fixed Income ETFs

BlackRock | August 23, 2022

BlackRock today launched a first-of-its-kind suite of fixed income ETFs that provide access to buy-write investment strategies on baskets of fixed income securities: the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond BuyWrite Strategy ETF, iShares High Yield Corporate Bond BuyWrite Strategy ETF and the iShares Investment Grade Corporate Bond BuyWrite Strategy ETF. Each ETF packages two potential income sources into one ticker – premiums generated by selling monthly call options on the underlying ETFs and the yields from each of the underlying ETFs themselves. “The iShares’ bond ETF platform has the world’s largest, comprehensive toolkit1 for individuals and institutions by providing access to the $124 trillion fixed income market with essential building blocks for a wide variety of macroeconomic climates, Market participants have used a buy-write strategy on equities since options were first listed more than 50 years ago. The iShares Bond BuyWrite ETFs introduce these capabilities to fixed income, pioneering new possibilities for an asset class sitting at the center of so many long-term portfolios.” -Carolyn Weinberg, Global Head of Product for ETF and Index Investments, BlackRock Helping Investors; Capital Markets Innovation The iShares BuyWrite ETFs aim to increase yield potential for investors, debuting during the most challenging environment for fixed income in decades due to inflation, hawkish central banks and interest rate volatility. Each iShares BuyWrite ETF seeks to track a designated index from Cboe Global Indices by owning shares of the underlying ETF and selling one-month call options at a strike price at or near the closing price of the ETF the day before the strategy writes the call options. Each month, the iShares BuyWrite ETFs will distribute to shareholders both the call option premiums collected and the underlying funds’ monthly distributions. TLT, HYG and LQD have grown into important financial instruments in the fixed income markets and have some of the most liquid options markets of any ETF2, Our buy-write exposures expand the functionalities of bond ETFs by unlocking a sophisticated use case with a potential to enhance income for investors in this volatile yield environment,said Stephen Laipply, U.S. Head of Bond ETFs at BlackRock. BlackRock pioneered bond ETFs in 2002 with the launch of four products and this space has since grown 23% annually into a $1.7 trillion industry with more than 1,400 offerings.3 Over 20 years, bond ETFs have become fundamental to fixed income investing and BlackRock estimates they will reach $5 trillion in AUM by the end of the decade. About BlackRock BlackRock’s purpose is to help more and more people experience financial well-being. As a fiduciary to investors and a leading provider of financial technology, we help millions of people build savings that serve them throughout their lives by making investing easier and more affordable. About iShares iShares unlocks opportunity across markets to meet the evolving needs of investors. With more than twenty years of experience, a global line-up of 900+ exchange traded funds (ETFs) and $2.78 trillion in assets under management as of June 30, 2022, iShares continues to drive progress for the financial industry. iShares funds are powered by the expert portfolio and risk management of BlackRock.

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FUNDING

USQ Expands Investment Platform with PREDEX Acquisition

USQ, Chatham Financial | August 02, 2022

Union Square Capital Partners, LLC, announced today it acquired the management of PREDEX, a real estate-focused interval fund. PREDEX (Ticker: PRDEX) has $163 million in AUM as of July 27, 2022, bringing total assets of USQ interval funds to approximately $400 million. “True diversification matters, and most investors have been reminded of that over the first half of this year,” said Thomas Miller, Chief Executive Officer of Union Square Capital Partners. Since both funds were launched, they have consistently demonstrated that non-correlation to the broader markets while still delivering strong risk-adjusted returns is possible, both having a three-year correlation of just -0.02 to the S&P 500 Index as of June 30, 2022. During the same period, the USQ Core Real Estate Fund (Ticker: USQIX) delivered an annualized return of 10.46%, while PRDEX delivered an annualized return of 12.09%. USQ’s first fund, USQIX, has a primary investment objective to generate a return comprised of both current income and long-term capital appreciation with moderate volatility and low correlation to the broader markets. USQ implements this strategy by investing in the core private equity real estate funds that comprise the NCREIF Fund Index — Open-end Diversified Core Equity (“NFI-ODCE”). PREDEX likewise serves as a gateway to private core real estate but implements a slightly different approach that allows for a portion of assets to be held in funds outside of the NFI-ODCE Index. “We are excited to join the USQ team and feel they are a perfect partner to support growing the PREDEX fund,” said J. Grayson Sanders, founder of PREDEX. “We are excited to join the USQ team and feel they are a perfect partner to support growing the PREDEX fund,” said J. Grayson Sanders, founder of PREDEX. The expansion of the USQ strategies is aligned with long-term plans for the firm. “This acquisition highlights our commitment to growing our asset management business through both organic growth and strategic acquisitions,” said Matt Henry, Managing Partner and Founder of USQ and Chief Executive Officer of Chatham Financial. The performance quoted represents past performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The current performance may be lower or higher than the performance data quoted. The investment return and principal value of the Fund will fluctuate; an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Performance data current to the most recent month end may be obtained by calling 1-833-877-3863 for USQIX or 1-877-940-7202 for PRDEX. Fund returns reflect actual fee waivers and reimbursement of expenses for the time periods represented. Had fees and expenses not been waived and reimbursed, returns would have been lower. See each fund’s prospectus for more information on current fees and expenses. About USQ USQ, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chatham Financial Corp., is an investment management firm providing access to inventive strategies for real asset investing. The USQ platform leverages in-depth knowledge of real estate financing complexities to offer modern investing approaches spanning the needs from registered investment advisors to institutional investors. Union Square Capital Partners, LLC brings low-cost, institutional private real estate to wealth managers. About Chatham Financial Chatham Financial is the largest independent financial risk management advisory and technology firm. A leader in debt and derivative solutions, Chatham provides clients with access to in-depth knowledge, innovative tools, and an incomparable team of over 600 employees to help mitigate risks associated with interest rate, foreign currency, and commodity exposures. Founded in 1991, Chatham serves more than 3,000 companies across a wide range of industries — handling over $750 billion in transaction volume annually and helping businesses maximize their value in the capital markets, every day. To learn more, visit chathamfinancial.com.

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FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

Highline and Argyle Partner to Increase Consumer Access to Credit, Reduce Risk for Lenders Through Payroll-Linked Lending

Argyle and Highline | August 30, 2022

To meet the needs of U.S. consumers who are normally shut out of affordable credit products, payments fintech Highline Technologies and employment data platform Argyle have partnered to bring payroll-linked lending and billpay capabilities to lenders nationwide. With payroll-linked lending, consumer loans are automatically repaid through preset distributions directly from the borrower’s paycheck. This benefits consumers by providing them access to lower cost credit through more reputable, non-predatory lenders; and also benefits lenders as payroll-linked lending enables them to decrease missed payments by up to 2/3rds and reduce default rates by more than half. “Our partnership with Highline empowers workers, consumers and lenders with over 160 granular data points, while moving us closer to universal financial access for the underbanked, those with thin credit or no credit history, and those that the financial system has traditionally left out; gig workers, shift workers and creators, Argyle’s data coupled with Highline’s commitment to financial wellness is meaningfully expanding access to financial services and reducing risk for consumers and lenders alike.” -Shmulik Fishman, CEO of Argyle Argyle’s real-time, borrower-permissioned service is fully integrated into Highline’s platform, which enables lenders to implement any number of decisioning, origination and repayment use cases. Lenders can embed these capabilities within their own digital experience. An applicant’s income and employment data, including employment tenure and income, can be used for decisioning. Consumers then opt-in to repay loans through allocations from payroll and Highline manages the flow of funds to pay off the loans. True financial inclusion begins with the recognition that there is a shortage of non-predatory options available for many Americans who need access to relatively small dollar loans, The team at Argyle recognizes this as well and, like Highline, is committed to helping more consumers gain access to credit in a way that also makes sense for lenders and fits their business objectives,said Geoff Brown, CEO of Highline. About Argyle Argyle is building the leading user-consent-based platform for employment data, helping people avoid situations where their personal information is sold or used without their consent or knowledge. With Argyle, any business can process income and work verifications, gain real-time transparency into earnings, as well as view and update worker profile details. By removing the barriers between a worker, the companies they make money from, and the business they buy services and products from, Argyle has reimagined how employment data can be leveraged to benefit both institutions and individuals. About Highline Highline is a new payments platform that automates bill payments directly from payroll. It provides lenders with a simple, direct approach to credit decisioning and payment automation that can be supported at scale. Lenders can decrease missed payments by up to 2/3rds, reduce default rates by more than half, expand customers’ credit options, and better support financial wellness. Built by subject matter experts, data scientists and technologists, Highline’s solution unleashes the power of payment automation to help lenders and financial institutions expand the pool of potential borrowers.

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FUNDING,WEALTH MANAGEMENT

Leading Debt Payoff Platform Tally Announces $80 Million Series D

Tally | October 04, 2022

Tally, the financial automation company that pioneered a new approach to addressing the nation’s $900 billion credit card debt crisis, announced today that it has raised $80 million in Series D funding, led by Sway Ventures with participation from Menora Mivtachim. Previous investors Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, Shasta Ventures and Cowboy Ventures also took part in this round. Tally will use the funding to continue to grow the business and further expand its automated debt pay-down system to help members get out of credit card debt, reducing the time and stress it takes people to reach their financial goals. Tally also announced that Ken Denman, a veteran customer-centric technology leader, has joined Tally’s Board of Directors. “Tally is a true industry innovator for its distinctive use of technology to help more consumers get out of debt, and we look forward to partnering with the Tally team to help expand their product offerings and reach, particularly during a time when credit card balances are nearing all-time highs,” -Denman, General Partner at Sway Ventures Denman was previously co-founder and CEO of Emotient, Inc., a software technology developer that was acquired by Apple, and has served on the boards of prominent companies including Costco Wholesale Corporation, Motorola Solutions, VMware and Lending Club Inc., among others. More than 30 percent of Americans have interest-bearing credit card debt, and rates are rising as the Fed works to stanch inflation. In the second quarter of 2022, credit card balances rose by nearly $50 billion which represents the largest cumulative increase in more than 20 years, according to the NY Fed. Tally offers automated credit card debt payment services, analyzing customer financial profiles to determine the best and fastest way to pay down debt and then offering eligible consumers a new line of credit at a lower interest rate to support faster repayment. To date, Tally has paid more than $1 billion in credit card debt for its members, saving them millions of dollars in interest and late fees. Today’s announcement comes as the company reports record growth and experienced several milestones: Nearly tripled its Annualized Recurring Revenue (ARR) in the past year Saved Tally members $1.2 million in late fees in 2021 alone Offered a line of credit with an APR that is on average 30% lower than members’ credit card APR Enabled the average Tally member to get out of debt up to three years faster Expanded its executive ranks, including the promotion of Genessa Stout as COO, Jason Huynh as CRO, David Deitchman as VP of Ethics and Compliance and the addition of Vinh Nguyen as VP of Credit and Mark Kearns as VP of Capital Markets and Business Development Credit cards are designed to trap people in a cycle of debt. Our debt-free system helps consumers pay off credit cards faster, empowering them to take control of their finances and make real progress towards their financial goals, We are thrilled to bring Ken and his leadership and deep expertise on board and to continue changing the face of debt management for consumers across the country,said Jason Brown, Tally CEO and co-founder. Before Tally I only paid the minimum that I could. Now Tally has made it to where the balances are either nothing or minimal in comparison, so I have a better handle on what additional payments can do for my finances. And the ease of making additional payments has been great as well, said Tally user Dani J., of Lexington, SC. About Tally Tally is a consumer tech company on a mission to make people less stressed and better off financially through automation. Founded in 2015, the company built the first automated debt manager to help people pay down credit card debt and put billions of dollars back in their pockets. Recently, Tally was named to Fast Company's 2021 Most Innovative Companies list and Forbes’ 2020 Next Billion-Dollar Startup list. Its automated debt manager was awarded Real Simple's 2020 Smart Money Award as the best app for paying down debt.

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Spotlight

When you think of virtual currency you might think of Bitcoin, the biggest and most recognizable virtual currency out there.  But there are many more virtual currencies, and it seems new ones are popping up all the time. Sometimes a business runs into a unique situation where payment is an issue.  It could be doing business internationally or conducting a business that is legal at the state level but not at the federal level.

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