Visa Crypto executive leaves for Softbank-backed startup DriveWealth

Terry Angelos, Global Head of Fintech and Crypto at Visa.

Drive Wealth

One of Visa’s top executives is leaving the payments giant for a brokerage tech startup, CNBC has learned.

Terry Angelos, global head of fintech and crypto at Visa, will take over as managing director of start-up DriveWealth next week. Angelos joined Visa seven years ago as part of its acquisition of TrialPay, which he founded and led as CEO.

DriveWealth enables consumer finance apps such as Block’s Cash App and Revolut to offer stock trading by providing the necessary infrastructure behind the scenes. The Jersey City-based broker was one of the first to allow split investing, or buying stocks in small amounts versus whole stocks.

As retail has boomed during the pandemic, Angelos said the long-term opportunity is to internationalize US equities. He estimated that around one billion people around the world, outside of China, access financial services from a digital wallet or fintech app and seek exposure to blue-chip equities.

“If you were to think of the most reliable long-term asset that people around the world want to own, it’s stocks of American companies,” Angelos said. “Traditionally, people outside of the United States have not been able to open a brokerage account. This is something that we think we can help solve.”

Corporate America has been less of a safe haven this week, with the Dow Jones hitting its lowest level of the year on Monday. Yet, over the past six decades, US stocks have posted an annual return of around 10%.

DriveWealth was last valued at $3.7 billion and is backed by Softbank, the venture capital arm of Fidelity and Citi Ventures, among others, according to Pitchbook. The company operates as a licensed broker, providing clearing and settlement on behalf of its fintech clients, who manage customer experience and applications.

DriveWealth also provides custody of individual accounts and stocks. To connect to these applications, it uses software known as API or Application Programming Interface. The company said it doubled its customer base year-on-year, with a 140% growth in its international partners. Starting with stocks, DriveWealth also offers crypto investment infrastructure.

Individual investor activity has slowed significantly from its 2021 peak at the time of the GameStop frenzy. The retail participation rate, measured by retail volume as a percentage of total transaction volume, recently fell to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic, according to Rich Repetto, managing director and principal research analyst at Piper Sandler.

The pullback hurt shares of Robinhood, which recently said it was cutting 9% of its workforce after increasing hiring to meet demand, and other publicly traded brokerages.

Still, Angelos said DriveWealth has seen increased participation and account growth during the recent downturn, and underscored the long-term value of U.S. stocks.

“We are still in the growth cycle of making equities accessible to people who would not otherwise have access to them and we will continue to see growth, even though there may be volatility or setbacks among more active traders,” he said.

As for an initial public offering, Angelos said it was “potentially on the roadmap.” But for now, he said he is focused on growing his footprint and returning to the role of chief executive after nearly a decade at Visa.

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