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!
Last week, our team was at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, which featured a dedicated fintech stage for the first time (!) and dozens of Battlefield 200 companies in the fintech space. Christine even moderated a fintech pitch session! Mary Ann unfortunately couldn’t make it due to a family matter — and after spending months leading the programming for the fintech stage, she was truly heartbroken. But all was a resounding success with the room so packed for the fireside chats and panels that people had to stand up in the back to catch them! Overall, there was an estimated 13,000 attendees at the event — up significantly from even last year.
One-on-one chats on the fintech stage included Robinhood co-founder and CEO Vlad Tenev, Plaid founder Zach Perret, Checkout.com president and COO Céline Dufétel. There was also a panel of bankers discussing a post–Silicon Valley Bank world. In reality, though, SVB is still alive and kicking.
Here are the stories that summarized the highlights of those chats and panels:
MakersHub deciphers accounts payable data so construction companies don’t have to
Kenyan fintech FlexPay is helping shoppers save for future purchases
Don’t want that commuter stipend? Bundl enables employees to choose their own company benefits
Making health savings work for you
This week, I wrote about Truemed, a company that wants to put food in front of medicine.
Calley Means and Justin Mares started the payment integration company last year to make it easy for consumers to pay for healthy food, exercise and supplements using their tax-free health savings accounts or flexible spending account dollars. And with regulatory compliance.
Most patients need some kind of letter of medical necessity to use HSA or FSA dollars on items outside of procedures or medication. Tapping into telehealth laws, Truemed collects certain data points and then seamlessly and asynchronously provides that letter without a doctor’s visit.
About $140 billion is sitting in these accounts, mostly going unused, and the IRS increased the amount you can contribute to health savings accounts to $4,150 for an individual and $8,300 for a family. This will hopefully enable people to more easily put these dollars to work.
The company launched this week with $3 billion of gross merchandise volume already amassed from businesses, including CrossFit, Magic Mind and Kos. It also received $3.5 million in SAFEs (simple agreement for future equity) from investors, including functional medicine pioneer Mark Hyman and founders from Thrive Market, Eight Sleep and Levels.
I separately corresponded with Kevin Robertson, executive managing director and chief revenue officer at HSA Bank, a division of Webster Bank, about how HSA and FSA benefits are being used as a retention piece for tech companies.
A trend Robertson is seeing is that employers are increasingly matching pre-tax employee HSA and FSA contributions. There is also interest in doing more of what is called a lifestyle spending account, more popular in Canada currently.
LSAs aren’t pre-tax dollars, though he notes these particular accounts provide a more personalized benefit experience. For example, an employer can designate these accounts be used for pet care, spa treatments and even fitness reimbursement.
“In today’s tight labor market, more companies are enhancing their core benefit offerings to show themselves as an attractive place to work,” Robertson said. “This is particularly true for technology companies who generally are known for flashy perks like free lunches, casual dress and happy hours.” Read more. — Christine
Other weekly news
Mercury said last week that it has transitioned Mercury Raise from a seasonal, cohort-based program into “an always-available” platform, which features new tools, programs, and networks. The company told TechCrunch via email that three years ago, it introduced Mercury Raise as a program to help founders raise their seed or Series A rounds. It added: “After working with thousands of founders, we began to notice that they were consistently encountering roadblocks centered around three distinct themes: raising money, finding community, and getting expert guidance.” Read TechCrunch’s latest coverage on Mercury here.
Arc revealed a new bank account called Platinum, with its CEO telling TechCrunch over email: “The really exciting part about Arc Platinum is that it’s the first and only operating account built on a ‘Too Big to Fail’ bank partner. We built this partnership in stealth over the last 6 months, after receiving feedback from thousands of founders and boards that have been forced to choose between the safety of the world’s largest banks (JPM, Goldman, Citi, BofA) and the user experience & yield available exclusively via B2B Fintechs (Brex, Arc, Mercury). Thanks to Arc Platinum, startups get both safety & UX for the first time in a digital bank.” Read TechCrunch’s latest coverage on Arc here.
Brex introduced what it described as “a proactive assistant that gives every employee their own EA (expense assistant).” Via email, the company told us that: “Brex assistant uses the power of natural language, autonomous AI agents, and spend data to help employees file expenses compliantly and efficiently. With Brex Assistant, every employee now gets the same ‘swipe and forget’ corporate card experience as their executive team. As a result, finance teams can also look forward to increased productivity across the company.” Read TechCrunch’s latest coverage on Brex here.
Other items we are reading:
Block’s stock has been a laggard lately. Will management shakeup provide a needed jolt?
Solid faked revenue numbers, special committee appointed to investigate, sources reveal (We covered Solid’s $63 million Series B round back in 2022.)
Fundraising and M&A
Seen on TechCrunch
ZayZoon, which lends employees money for a fee, raises $34.5M
IFC leads $5M extension round in Ivorian SaaS e-commerce platform ANKA
As seen elsewhere
Source: Tech Crunch