Axios Pro: Fintech Deals
May 06, 2022
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Happy Friday, fintech friends! Another week is in the books.

Situational awareness: Ryan was on the ground in LA for the Milken conference, where he chatted with the fintech pros and kept his ear to the ground on key issues across the space. He did not come back with a suntan.

1 big thing: Crypto takes over Milken

Apollo CEO Marc Rowan / Photo: Lauren Justice via Getty Images
Apollo CEO Marc Rowan. Photo: Lauren Justice, via Getty Images

Inflation, rising interest rates, and a shaky global economy were all hot topics at this year's annual Milken Institute Global Conference, but growing institutional interest in crypto seemed to be on everyone's mind.

Why it matters: The advancement of cryptocurrency and web3 came up repeatedly throughout the three-day finance conference, even during interviews and panels that weren't devoted to new financial technology.

A few opinions on fintech, web3 and the metaverse from the conference:

Marc Rowan, CEO of Apollo Global Management

  • "There is now a fintech competitor at every point in the financial system, it doesn't matter what you do. That, for us, is a threat."
  • "But it's also a massive opportunity. Every one of these financial competitors has the same business model in some way: They want to be a toll taker, not a balance sheet. They don't want to own the asset."
  • "Therefore, for the right partners, we have the ability to go to them and become their balance sheet."

David Hunt, president and CEO of PGIM

  • "For us, there are three criteria: We need an asset class that has consistent regulatory oversight. We need an asset class that has a store of value that’s more than just what someone else will pay for it. And we need an asset class where we understand the correlation between it and other asset valuations so we can put it into a portfolio."
  • "Now, most cryptocurrencies are 0-for-3."

Scott Minerd, chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners

  • "I think the world of crypto is real and virtual currencies are real, but it's the Wild West right now in terms of trying to sort out who the winners and losers are."

John D'Agostino, director of institutional sales at Coinbase

  • "If you think about where you were on cloud data storage 20 years ago, I think probably in 20 years you'll see that's where you are now on using blockchain technology for payment mechanisms, customer engagement and lending."

Steve Kokinos, CEO of Algorand

  • "In a few years nobody will be talking about NFTs, they'll be talking about the products that are encompassed in those NFTs, just like we don't talk about surfing the web anymore. I think these will just become part of the fabric of everyday life."

Alexis Ohanian, founder of Seven Seven Six

  • "[Zuckerberg’s metaverse] is like AOL. Thank God we didn't all end up on AOL — we use the internet now. I think it's going to play out the same way with Meta."

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