Online Consumer Lender Finds Exit
Earnest, the online student loan and consumer lending startup, has sold for $155MM in cash to incumbent student loan servicer Navient (formerly part of Sallie Mae). A $155MM exit is better value realization than most online lending startups have seen, especially given that Earnest was launched in 2014. However, the price paid was down substantially from the $375MM valuation investors awarded in back in 2015, so the bulk of investor capital may not be too happy about the results.

Same company, same place, new scandal
Wells Fargo must be feeling a little relief as the consumer watchdog outrage shifted in the last month to the security lapses at Equifax which allowed data on over 140 million individuals to be breached. Equifax hasn’t been helped by recent reports that it allowed compromised software on its website that appears to be part of a phishing scam. But this is nothing new for Equifax – this Planet Money podcast tells the history of consumer credit reporting agencies, including the last time the CEO of Equifax was testifying in front of Congress. The business practices of Equifax and others at the time are what led to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fidelity pushes forward in cryptocurrencies
While Jamie Dimon’s comments calling Bitcoin a fraud have gotten the headlines recently, the more interesting story is what Fidelity has been actually doing with cryptocurrencies. I mentioned a few weeks ago how Fidelity had launched a partnership with Coinbase, the cryptocurrency retail brokerage platform. Less reported was how Fidelity has been exploring cryptocurrencies for years, including a Bitcoin and ethereum mining operation which is highly profitable. In addition, employees are encouraged to explore and use cryptocurrencies, such as being able to buy lunch at Fidliety HQ using Bitcoin. The Fidelity Charitable fund began accepting Bitcoin donations in 2015, and has accepted over $15MM in Bitcoin donations to date.

Crypto Rules Everything Around Ghostface Killah
While most individuals won’t be surprised to learn that Fidelity is experimenting with cryptocurrencies, many celebrity-types have been jumping on the bandwagon as well to endorse unregulated ICO sales. In one strange endorsement, English “football” (soccer) manager Harry Redknapp tweeted out his support for a cryptocurrency called Electroneum, despite having stated during a trial for tax evasion five years ago that he could not work a computer, didn’t know what email was, and his own lawyer claimed that Redknapp’s business sense is “disastrous.’ On this side of the pond, Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah (which apparently sounds cooler than his real name, Dennis) has co-founded a firm called Cream Capital that wants to raise $30MM in an ICO. Cream Capital has received a trademark for the acronym of Cream, which stands for Crypto Rules Everything Around Me. The company plans to operate cryptocurrency ATMs and capture half of that market by 2020. Best of luck, Mr. Killah.