Sunday, May 18, 2014

FinTech Saves Wall Street

Four tech start-ups in New York raised in excess of $100 million last month. Betterment, Paperless Post, LearnVest and Squarespace raised about $25-30 million each in the latest round of financing. The first quarter of this financial year has already seen several New York-based firms raising record sums of money from venture capital and equity funds. Digital Ocean, Integral Ad Science and Kaltura all raised millions of dollars, saying they would like to expand overseas. The hottest sector for VC investing is FinTech. Betterment, which raised $32m in a Series C round, has pioneered "Robo Advisor" investing, where computer algorithms replace financial advisors. While money managers charge 1.50%, Betterment charges 0.15%, saving investors a lot of money. Personal Finance is the fastest growing area, but there are many new FinTech startups that are disrupting Wall Street as well. ACE Portal, which has NYSE Euronext backing, is pioneering a platform for Private Securities offerrings, taking advantage of the new JOBS Act regs on equity crowdfunding. ACE's founder Peter Williams is part of a new breed of ex Wall Streeters who see opportunities at the nexus of Tech and Finance. Ultimately, the FinTech boom could help reshape NYC's Wall Street Financial district. I visited the new BitCoin Center near the NYSE. The proximity of its "mining" servers to the Exchange is noticeable. Eventually, all those financial transactions handled by humans will be totally automated. The Age of "Robo Wall Street" is here.