Fintech Focus Roundup For February 20, 2020

Fintech Spotlight: How Morpher Lets You Buy Apple, On A Weekend, With As Little As $1
When typically discussed, blockchain lacks a utility component.

That’s what Morpher CEO Martin Fröhler is looking to change. Fröhler is a mathematician, with a background in quantitative finance, specializing in research and trading algorithms. After founding a decentralized quantitative hedge fund in Silicon Valley, Martin co-developed the Morpher Protocol to replicate the trading of any market, on the blockchain, without actually trading underlying assets.

In the simplest way, Morpher cuts out the middleman -- brokers, exchanges, and counterparties -- allowing market participants the ability to trade assets, with infinite liquidity, on an incorruptible protocol. The solution cuts the costs associated with fixed liquidity, enabling participants, globally, to transact any asset, fractionally, with leverage and no fees.

“Our goal is to democratize trading and investing as a whole,” the CEO said. “Morpher provides global access to anyone who trades on limited markets, with infinite liquidity.”

Russell Westbrook Leads $63M Investment In Varo Bank
Varo Bank is a digital bank that provides Americans the tools to achieve financial wellness.

As part of a vision to expand the depth and breadth of its product portfolio, as well as promote innovation, the bank announced it would onboard Westbrook as an investor and advisor to the company.

Advised by Jefferies, Westbrook, through Russell Westbrook Enterprises, lead a $63 million raise which will support Varo’s social impact initiatives, as well as product innovation.

The 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player joins existing investors including Warburg Pincus, The Rise Fund/ TPG Growth, Gallatin Point Capital, HarbourVest Partners, and Progressive Insurance.

“The banking system has ignored or underserved a large portion of the American population - particularly communities of color. I’m passionate about making lasting social change and creating a stronger and more inclusive system,” said Westbrook. “I am excited and ready to work with Varo to be a part of an economic revitalization for those who never had the access they deserved.”

How Edtech Multiverse Is Helping Young, Diverse Talent Win Apprenticeships
The higher education system is broken. That’s according to Multiverse's U.S. general manager Sophie Ruddock, who understands the implications of barriers to education, such as tuition.

After identifying the issues making it difficult for workers to develop the skills to join the workforce of tomorrow, Ruddock joined Multiverse to help close the knowing-to-doing gap.

“I joined because of the strong social mission of the organization,” she said. “It’s a radical vision to build an outstanding alternative to college and corporate training by combining jobs, training, and community, through apprenticeships.”

The popularized higher education model is exclusive, untargeted, and fragmented.

Mobile Hedge Fund Platform Titan Raises $12.5M Series A Led By General Catalyst
Titan is a holistic asset management solution that builds, manages, and explains investment strategies for retail investors.

As part of a vision to further personalize investing experiences, improve education, transparency, and trust, Titan looked to venture capital firm General Catalyst for a $12.5-million strategic investment. General Catalyst’s Katherine Boyle will also join Titan’s board.

Additional Series A participants include Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, Scribble VC, BoxGroup, Y Combinator, South Park Commons, Lee Fixel, Instagram founder Mike Krieger, Eventbrite founder Kevin Hartz, and others.

In a statement, the company said, “The menu problem is the elephant in the room in consumer finance. Technology has sent shockwaves throughout many consumer finance categories - from banking to brokerage - but investment management remains stubbornly behind. Despite over $500 billion in public market capitalization and the financial well-being of millions of Americans at stake, the industry is still ruled by legacy giants like Fidelity, BlackRock, and T. Rowe Price. No modern platform has yet to emerge.

“Titan is taking the torch and building the operating system that will power active investment management for future generations of investors. But this time, we can offer both sets of menus.”

TradeZero Co-Founder Talks Volatility, Added Value: 'The Best Trading Experience Wins'
In recent weeks, brokers like Robinhood came under scrutiny for limiting trade in GameStop Corporation, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc and Koss Corporation, among other stocks.

In light of the volatility and market’s response to the controversial decision to limit trade, Benzinga spoke with Dan Pipitone, co-founder at TradeZero, a trading technology and brokerage firm.

MindMed Positions Itself As A Technology Company With HealthMode Acquisition
What Happened: In a bid to address the national mental health crisis, MindMed announced it would acquire HealthMode, which specializes in using AI technologies to increase the precision and speed of research, as well as monitor patients in clinical environments.

Additionally, MindMed will acquire HealthMode intellectual property and platforms for drug trials, as well as add to its team Daniel R. Karlin M.D. M.A. and AI/ML expert Bradford Cross, among other pharmaceutical veterans.

"We have acquired a 24-person strong engineering and product team for digital medicine and so I am proud to announce that MindMed is now as much a tech company as it is a psychedelic medicine biotech,” MindMed co-founder and co-CEO J.R. Rahn told Benzinga in an exclusive statement.

“Our ultimate goal and vision now is to become both the Tesla and the Pfizer of the mental health space."

Why It Matters: "As we look to the future of mental health and using psychedelics as catalysts to reimagine a novel treatment paradigm, we need to start building the technical infrastructure that will enable a potential blockbuster launch of future psychedelic-assisted therapies for all Americans in an affordable and scalable manner,” Rahn said. “MindMed is going to prioritize this and become an industry leader for a comprehensive mental health platform."

Posted In: Dan PipitoneHealthModeJ.R. RahnMartin FröhlerMindMedMorpherMultiverseSophie RuddockTitanTradeZeroFintech