Montauk: Where fintech dealmakers go to the beach…

February 26, 2020, 1:59 PM UTC

This is the web version of The Ledger, Fortune’s weekly newsletter covering financial technology and cryptocurrency. Sign up here to receive future editions.

Here’s a riddle—what do the following all have in common?: Intuit buying Credit Karma for $7.1 billion. Morgan Stanley buying E*Trade for $13 billion. Visa buying Plaid for $5.3 billion. Charles Schwab buying TD Ameritrade for $26 billion. PayPal buying Honey for $4 billion.

Answer: All those dealmakers were in the same room (well, technically, tent) in Montauk, NY last June at Fortune Brainstorm Finance. (And yes, they’re also finance deals that happened in the last 100 days.) Watch our interviews from the event featuring Credit Karma CEO Ken Lin, Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger, and Plaid CEO Zach Perret with Morgan Stanley’s tech transformation head, Sigal Zarmi.

This year, we’ll be heading back to the Hamptons June 17-18 for the second edition of Brainstorm Finance, with new blockbuster additions to the lineup that are set to make this year’s event even more exciting. Jeffrey Sprecher, the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, will be there to talk about running both the New York Stock Exchange and cryptocurrency platform Bakkt—and perhaps what’s on his wish list since ICE walked away from its eBay takeover offer earlier this month.

We’ll also hear from the new chairman of the CFTC, Heath Tarbert—as well as his predecessor Christopher Giancarlo, a rare regulator turned crypto advocate. That’s just a start: Besides CEOs and top executives from major Wall Street institutions as well as the most valuable and influential fintech startups (from Citi and Mastercard to Binance and Zelle), we’re looking forward to welcoming a celebrity contingent to mingle with us on the beach in Montauk. That includes Kelly Aucoin, who stars as “Dollar Bill” on the TV series Billions.

You can check out more of the preliminary lineup here. The point of bringing people from so many different walks of finance under one roof is this: We believe that to have a relevant conversation about the future of the financial industry, you need to have not just the JPMorgans and the Wells Fargos of the world, but also the Robinhoods and the Coinbases, the Amazons and the Googles and the Facebooks. After all, that’s how deals happen.

On that note, Jeff, Robert and I are heading off to San Francisco to co-host a private dinner this week with the leaders of many of fintech’s most important companies. We’re hoping to come back with ideas for hot-topic discussions to feature at Brainstorm Finance. If you have ideas, or you’re interested in applying for a spot at the event in Montauk, you can email me directly.

In the meantime, we’ll be readying our seersucker and flip flops, and dreaming of talking fintech valuations and central bank currencies with a lobster roll in one hand and a Watermelon Session ale in the other.

Jen Wieczner



This edition of The Ledger was curated by David Z. Morris. Contact him at


Intuit will acquire Credit Karma for $7.1 billion ... Morgan Stanley will buy E*Trade for $13 billion ... The Bank of Canada is exploring a digital currency ... Square is growing bitcoin adoption through TikTok ... JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs back new stock exchange MEMX ... Amazon opens its first cashierless supermarket ... New funding values Revolut at $5.5 billion ... Bird launches a payments service. Yes, the scooter startup ... Avanti, a new Wyoming-based bank, will specifically cater to the digital asset industry.


Wells Fargo reaches a $3 billion settlement over sales fraud ... Venmo collects and shares more data than you might think ... Warren Buffett didn't change his opinion on cryptocurrency after his long-delayed dinner with Tron's Justin Sun ... Singapore and Korea's currencies slump in the face of coronavirus ... Dominant global crypto exchange Binance is "not authorized" to operate in Malta, which an exec once called its "spiritual headquarters" ... IOTA's 12-day shutdown is just the latest head-scratcher from the "decentralized" system.



He likened the innovations to what happened with the Spanish dollar, which was accepted as legal currency in the U.S. until 1857. The Spanish Empire’s coin, considered the first international currency, was used across Europe, Asia and the Americas from the 17th to 19th centuries. That dominance was driven in part by the functional superiority of the coin, which was higher in silver and lighter than other currencies, a useful attribute in economies dominated by the shipping industry, Treat said. Adding to its functionality, the coin could be divided into eight parts, earning it the moniker “pieces of eight.”

Accenture blockchain lead David Treat offers a compelling parallel for the potential of a digital yuan to threaten the U.S. dollar. As explained in a new deep dive from Roll Call, digitized national currencies built using technologies related to bitcoin's blockchain could interact more smoothly with digital services and provide more convenience for businesses. The quick successive announcements last year of Facebook's Libra and China's digitization efforts have lit a remarkable fire worldwide, with Fed chair Jerome Powell recently saying that every major central bank in the world is looking at digital government currencies.


13 seconds

The length of the shortest possible game of Monopoly, as discovered by game designer and sociologist Dan Myers. Myers was working to solve a perennial problem. As beloved as it is, Monopoly is a notoriously poorly-designed game that can drag out for literally days - in part because the bank can never go broke. If it sounds like there's some sort of lesson there, you're right: the game's little-known origins are as a left-wing critique of rentier capitalism.


Ethereum, Bitcoin's closest rival, faces its moment of truth - Jeff John Roberts

In the future, there will be no more fintech (Data Sheet) - Adam Lashinsky

A women's goods startup grapples with an inconvenient investor - Maria Aspan

Equity is essential to economic opportunity - Rajiv Shah

UFC and Dapper Labs to offer blockchain collectibles of MMA fighters - Jeff John Roberts

The world's longest bull run ends after 12 years - Naomi Xu Elegant

Coronavirus outbreak in Italy roils global markets - David Meyer

Firefox has a new, game-changing privacy feature - Robert Hackett


simpsons cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency got a big segment on The Simpsons this week, featuring a Schoolhouse Rock-style 'ledger' singing and dancing its way through a surprisingly cogent explanation of the arcane technology. Jim Parsons, a.k.a. Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory, put in an all-too-appropriate guest appearance.