Gemini acquires Blockrize ahead of crypto reward credit card
Crypto exchange Gemini has acquired fintech startup Blockrize to launch a credit card allowing users to earn rewards in Bitcoin.
Blockrize, Gemini’s second acquisition which it bought for an undisclosed sum, had been building a credit card offering crypto rewards due to launch this year with a waitlist of more than 10,000 people. The crypto exchange will merge its platform, known primarily for its first-class security, with Blockrize’s rewards programme. Launching in the US, users can earn up to 3% back in BTC or other cryptocurrencies on every purchase they make using the Gemini Credit Card.
Cardholders will need a Gemini account to receive deposits of their crypto rewards, though Gemini chief executive Tyler Winklevoss, who co-founded the exchange with his twin and business partner Cameron, said the rewards will allow customers to increase their investment in cryptocurrency or enter the system for the first time “without changing their existing behaviour”.
He hopes the move will continue to “mainstream crypto”, adding: ”Rather than deciding how and when to buy crypto, customers can do so when making their everyday purchases.”
New users can join a waitlist alongside the those on Blockrize’s list to gain early access to the card, which will be offered to residents of all US states.
Gemini eyes IPO
Aptly named Gemini was founded in 2014 by the Winkelvoss twins, who were early investors in Bitcoin after famously channeling around $11m of the total $65m payout they received from their widely publicised spat with Facebook into the crypto market. The exchange and custodian allows users to buy, sell and store up to 30 cryptocurrencies.
In an interview with Bloomberg this week, the founders said they were seriously considering taking the exchange public, on the back of surging Bitcoin prices. The cryptocurrency is currently trading at around $38,500, well above historical highs and more than double its value in late November.
We are definitely considering [going public] and making sure that we have that option”, Cameron Winklevoss told Bloomberg. “We are watching the market and we are also having internal discussions on whether makes sense for us at this point in time. We are certainly open to it.”
Coinbase, one of the earliest and biggest crypto exchanges in the world, confidentially filed a draft registration document with the SEC in late December 2020, signalling it too would go public. The company did not divulge whether it would seek a traditional IPO or instead opt for a direct listing, but would either way be a landmark for the crypto industry.
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Currently the Senior Vice President of Business Development & Fintech for Mastercard UK & Ireland, a position he’s held since 2014, Abraham describes himself as “a proven and successful senior sales leader with experience across a wide range of industries, sectors, and channels.”
Graduating from the University of Northampton in 1994 with a BA in Economics and Law, he worked for nine years at Sainsburys - eventually responsible for banking the company’s revenue and running its ATMs - and then Barclaycard for three years as Head of Client Management. In 2007, Abraham became VP of Client Management at American Express, and then VP and GM Global Supplier Relations EMEA in 2012.
In his current role at Mastercard, Abraham is accountable for the acceptance of all payments and products through all channels, devices, and technologies across UK and Ireland. In addition, he oversees the deployment of innovative new payment tech within the region.
Fraser-Hawkins’ role as CEO, UK Corporate, at Marsh McLennan is the continuation of a long and successful insurance career, which has included being London Sales Director for JLT Group and Branch Director for Willis Towers Watson.
Marsh prides itself on being a company that hires top-tier talent, does work that impacts peoples’ lives, and offers its employees the opportunity to make a difference. This is clearly an attitude that aligns with Fraser-Hawkins’ own values; regarding the insurer’s UK Young Professionals initiative, a support network to help young professionals in their development, he said:
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Massaro is currently the CEO of Boston fintech Flywire, a role he took on in 2013. He first joined the team in 2012 as VP of Business Development, but it wasn’t long before his entrepreneurial skills were redirected to leading the entire company’s high-growth strategy worldwide.
An expert in domestic and international payments and billing, enterprise technology sales, strategic alliances, enterprise software, SaaS, product management and marketing, and much more, Massaro is a consummate finance professional whose credentials befit the leadership of a prominent global payments fintech.
His previous positions include Consultant at PwC and Product Line Manager at Oracle, and he maintains a Mentor role at startup accelerator MassChallenge. He graduated magna cum laude from Babson College with a BS in Information Systems and Finance.
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