Coinbase Lists Basic Attention Token (BAT)
Basic Attention Token is the latest coin to be integrated by Coinbase as they make a push to offer users more assets. Coinbase also allows users to buy and sell Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, ZRX, and USDC
So why did they pick BAT? Basic Attention Token is the utility token featured in Brave, the new browser that uses a built-in ad blocker to load pages “2 to 8 times faster than Chrome/Safari on mobile and 2 times faster than Chrome on desktop”, according to its website. However nice it is to eliminate ads and trackers, online advertisements are a valuable tool and Brave recognizes that. So instead of eliminating ads altogether, Brave wants to monetize your attention and reward you with Basic Attention Tokens, which you can then distribute to your visited sites based on how much time you spent there. Here’s a look at the Brave Payments feature.
With Brave, users can earn or purchase Basic Attention Tokens and distribute them to verified publishers (ex. CoinMarketCap above is verified). The process to become verified is relatively simple and, according to its website, should reward users with BAT if they use Brave and elect to view your ads. Within the Brave browser, users are currently able to purchase BAT with bitcoin, litecoin, and ether. Adding BAT support to Coinbase allows you to purchase BAT with fiat and then transfer those funds to your Brave Payments wallet.
Coinbase is of course very bullish on the importance of crypto in FinTech innovation. Its COO Asiff Hirji recently said that “Fintech before crypto is like mobile before the iPhone came along.” He explains why here.
Revolut’s Big Month
The UK-based, personal banking startup had a busy November, highlighted by two awards. Here’s the summary:
- City AM awarded Revolut the 2018 FinTech Company of the Year.
- Revolut was named Europe’s Allstar Company of 2018 at the Investor Allstar Awards ceremony.
- The app passed 3,000,000 users. Revolut is officially the fastest growing fintech startup in the UK
- Revolut was officially authorized to operate in Singapore and Japan and there is speculation about U.S. integration in the near future.
- Revolut is reportedly planning a $500M Series D in early 2019, and Softbank may be on its roster.
European Commission Launches Blockchain Initiative
The initiative is called the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (IATBA) and strives to promote blockchain solutions to some of the European financial market’s problems. Among several banks who signed onto IATBA are Santander and BBVA, who said that the initiative was designed to attract support from experts on private blockchain/DLT to structure.
Kiva and United Nations Bring DLT to Sierra Leone
In partnership with the United Nations Capital Development Fund and the U.N. Development Programme, the Kiva Protocol will bring to Sierra Leone a national digital identification system built on top of Distributed Ledger Technology, or DLT.
Sierra Leone hopes that this move will empower Sierra Leone citizens, giving them significantly better control over their personal data and credit information. It will help previously unbanked citizens access the financial services they need to provide for themselves and their families.
Before the Kiva Protocol, informal transactions such as a taking on credit with local merchants were not included in someone’s credit history. As a result, strong credit ratings were limited to more wealthy citizens in a cycle of self-perpetuating income inequality. In 2019, Kiva will implement a DLT that will include the informal economy and all of its transactions, reversing this trend. If the protocol proves to be successful, Kiva’s partnership with the United Nations will make it easy for other nations to follow.
Visa and Billtrust to Launch B2B Payments Platform
On November 5, Visa and Billtrust announced that they will launch the Billtrust Business Payments Network (BPN), a business to business payments system that aims to make paper checks between buyers and suppliers obsolete. According to the 2016 AFP Electronic Payments survey, 51% of B2B payments are still made by paper check – a staggering number considering the state of digital payment technology.
According to Billtrust CEO Flint Lane, Billtrust has spent twenty years creating a directory of payment preferences and methods for many of the largest suppliers in the U.S. This directory serves as a the basis of BPN and allow buyers to see which suppliers accept digital payments and, if so, which types of digital payments they prefer. Doing so incentivizes more businesses to join the already vast directory and enables buyers to pay suppliers directly through BPN, reducing the inefficiencies of paper checks. The U.S. B2B payments market is estimated to generate $24 Trillion annually (Visa Commercial Consumption Expenditure Index, 2015), so there’s quite a bit of money to be saved with BPN.
Ethos Raises $35 Million Series B
The San Francisco-based insuretech has gotten a lot of attention lately, claiming to cut the 10-week process of applying for a life insurance policy down to 10 minutes. Ethos uses data analytics to predict life expectancy and risk level, and 99% of applications do not require a blood test or medical exam to get a quote.
Ethos offers term life insurance policies ranging from 10 to 30 years, so its target market is younger people who would otherwise ignore life insurance due to the time and cost required to obtain a policy. Ethos reported a 400% increase in revenue in the last four months alone, and its recent Series B brings total funding over $46 million, indicating a total valuation of over $100M.
Participants in the Series B include Accel, Google Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Arrive, a subsidiary of Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Sequoia also participated in an $11.5 million round earlier this year that included investments from Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Durant, and Will Smith.
Coinbase closes $300M Series E
The recent round of funding is its largest to date, and values Coinbase at more than $8 Billion. The Series E was led by Tiger Global Management with participation from Y Combinator, Continuity, Wellington Management, Andreessen Horowitz, and Polychain, and others.
Coinbase has outlined that it will use the additional funding in the following ways:
- Accelerate global expansion and strengthen the connectivity between fiat and crypto.
- Offer more crypto assets. Coinbase hopes to one day support hundreds or thousands of crypto assets.
- Implement more utility functions for crypto ex. USDC.
- Bring more institutions to crypto. Coinbase’s Custody service is a big draw for institutions.
Zopa Closes Funding Round and Secures Bank License
The UK-based peer-to-peer lending company closed a £60M funding round this month, with a new £16M adding to the £44M it raised in August. Zopa was very transparent about needing the cash to fund its goal of obtaining a bank license, which it applied for in 2016. Earlier today, Zopa received that bank license. After a gradual roll-out period with several restrictions, Zopa will now offer FSCS-protected savings accounts, P2P investments, personal loans, car financing, and credit card services.
Zopa has facilitated more than £3.7 billion in personal loans since launching in 2005 and reported profits for the first time in 2017. The fintech claims to be the first hybrid peer-to-peer and digital bank offering.