Startup Check-In

Cascade To Power Crypto Card Loading

This time last year, if a customer asked Cascade about cryptocurrency loading, the startup had to tell them, “We don’t do that.” Its partner banks weren’t supporting the feature, so neither could Cascade.

But as more and more people started asking about it, Founder and CEO Spencer Schmerling began to recognize the big opportunity in front of him. That’s why Schmerling said the startup is now launching a crypto loading capability, among other new services and API enhancements.

The company just concluded a $1.5 million Series B funding round, which Schmerling said would support the new capabilities and services. It has also forged new partner relationships with banks that support crypto card loading in order to provide this capability to customers.

Customers using a Cascade-powered card can now load bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash or Ethereum onto their card and use it in regular stores, where it’s converted into fiat currency at the point of sale. Cascade makes its money on the margins and transaction revenue.

Schmerling said the capability is only practical because this conversion happens in real time. Due to the volatility of cryptocurrency values, he said it’s critical to convert the coin into cash instantaneously before it can fluctuate in price.

Investors liked the idea: Schmerling said the startup had to increase its fundraising goal from $1 million to $1.5 million due to investor interest. The reason for that, he said, is that crypto enablement offers a way to invest in cryptocurrencies without actually investing in cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin and other cryptos are far too volatile to be attractive to seasoned investors, Schmerling said. They’ve been there, done that, and they know the house always wins.

Schmerling compared it to investing in Levi Strauss blue jeans during the California Gold Rush. While everyone was losing their heads over the shiny yellow stuff, those who put their money in the adjacent venture of denim ended up making just as much money, if not more, he said.

In addition to adding the crypto loading capability, Schmerling said the funding from the Series B round will help the startup enhance ACH services to include more banks that it can connect to immediately. Today, he said, Cascade can connect immediately with 30 financial institutions. The new service will encompass 10,000. The dramatic scale was possible through Cascade’s cloud of vendors, he said.

The startup is also building out its APIs to increase flexibility so clients don’t have to choose between hosting their own website or having Cascade host it; they can opt to have Cascade host some pages within the site and build seamless authentication back and forth between pages hosted by each.

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