Blockchain tech provider Figure raises $200M amid banking license row

The Series D round gives US-based Figure Technologies a $3.2 billion valuation, up from $1.2 billion after its last mega-round in December, per Business Wire. Launched in 2018, Figure offers a host of blockchain-based financial services, including home equity and personal loans for individuals and a digital asset marketplace for financial institutions (FIs).

While Figure awaits approval for its national bank charter, federal and state regulators face off in court over a “fintech charter.” In 2016, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) proposed a special purpose national banking charter for fintechs, but it has failed to get off the ground amid regulatory controversies. State regulators are blocking the approval, arguing in court that the OCC lacks the authority to issue such a charter. The charter would allow fintechs to be licensed as national banks and would create a single set of national standards to replace the different requirements across multiple states. Crypto exchange Kraken, for example, got a banking license in Wyoming, but this is limited to that state.

If the fintech charter succeeds, we will likely see a number of crypto firms apply to ease their national expansions and product diversification. Figure currently has more than 100 state licenses to cover its services across the US, and this could rise to 200 as it adds more products, making expansion costly. A Fintech Charter would let Figure launch proprietary crypto products nationwide while focusing on the requirements of a single regulator. A number of multibillion-dollar fintechs in the crowded crypto sector are likely following Figure’s application closely—and BitPay already applied in December—in case the OCC wins its court case.