As 2023 comes to a close, we’re here to look back at the biggest fintech stories of the year. Silicon Valley Bank’s implosion felt like a fintech story in that a number of startups (Brex, Arc and Mercury, for example) in the space leapt to fill the hole left by its collapse. But it truly was a story that affected all industries — and founders and investors alike. And one that continues to play out.
Apple launches savings accounts for Apple Card customers
Ironically, one of 2023’s biggest stories involved a tech giant and not a startup. In April, Apple shared that Apple Card customers in the U.S. could open a savings account and earn interest through an Apple savings account, as reported by Romain Dillet. At the time, Apple was offering a competitive APY of 4.15%. The company partnered with Goldman Sachs to offer the feature, but by year’s end, that partnership had fallen apart (an event we saw coming) and it was not yet clear who would be taking Goldman Sachs’ place.
Mastercard CFO says India’s UPI is an ‘incredibly painful experience’ for ecosystem participants
Another one of our most read stories of the year also involved a financial services giant rather than a startup. Manish Singh wrote about the fact that Mastercard’s CFO had declared that India’s UPI was “fantastic at many levels” but remained an “incredibly painful experience” for ecosystem participants who ended up losing money as a result. The commentary underscored tensions around the mobile payments rail that facilitates over 10 billion transactions monthly in the nation with low card penetration.
Foreign users of WeChat Pay and Alipay can go cashless at Chinese retailers
In July, Rita Liao covered the fact that China’s two dominant mobile payment solutions, WeChat Pay and Alipay, had announced that foreign users could now pay at Chinese retailers by linking their foreign credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard and Discover. This was a big deal, as it was historically difficult for travelers to go cashless like locals. Previously, using WeChat Pay and Alipay in China required a local bank account, making it challenging for short-term visitors to use those payment methods.
Visa acquires Brazilian fintech startup Pismo for $1 billion
In late June, I broke the news that credit card giant Visa would be acquiring Brazilian payments infrastructure startup Pismo for $1 billion in cash in what was expected to be one of the largest fintech M&A deals taking place all year. The deal closed later in the year. Visa was reportedly just one of several companies bidding for the startup, which was not seeking to be acquired, or even fundraising. Pismo getting scooped up by Visa was a coup of sorts for the entire Latin America region, which saw a surge in global investors pouring capital into the region in 2021 and a bit of a retreat only a year later.