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Is there a problem with FinTechs or, even, the US economy?

Nigel Morris-Cotterill


Something happened this week that raises some serious questions.

And there are no clear answers.

Is it the start of a trend or is it a one-off?

And if it's the start of a trend, what trend is it?

Is it the FinTechs are over-expanding their cost-base far in excess of their revenue?

Is it that some FinTechs have been run by enthusiasts not business people?

It is that the FinTech market is, in some sectors and/or some locations at least, saturated?

Is it a sign that the FinTech bubble is set to burst?

Or is is that there is a tightening in the US mortgage market which was - deniers deny - an early indicator of the US housing crisis that ballooned into the Global Financial Crisis.

Online mortgage arranger, FinTech Better.Com has just pushed through, without actual notice to many of those affected, the redundancy of some 4,000 people that is about half of its workforce. It's the second mass redundancy in the past few months. The first, you'll remember, was when some 900 people were fired in a Zoom call.

CNN says it's 3,000 this week. Insiders say 4,000. Some say they only found out when severance pay appeared in their bank accounts. Others when access to on-line services such as communications stopped working. For sure, the company's personnel management practices are inhumane but does that extend to the general management of the company.

It's backed by #Softbank, #Ally, #citi , #PingAn, #GoldmanSachs, #KlienerPerkins and #AmericanExpress so we can perhaps exclude the questionable management point in this case. Unless what we are seeing now is the backers flexing their muscle to rein in previous behaviour. Even so, Vishal Garg, who "stepped aside" from his CEO post after the Zoom debacle has quietly returned. The company's "interim president" Kevin Ryan was left to be the public face of announcing that the latest issue was due to a communications failure. No shit, Sherlock. He blames a sudden rise in interest rates as a core issue in the redundancies. It has been reported that there was a plan for an IPO what went quiet after the Zoom thing in December last year.

The question is simple: is this an early warning of systemic problems in the financial and FinTech sectors globally?

Or, even, the US economy as a whole? Let's see if the #FederalReserve is looking at meaningful data this time, shall we?

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