One of Visa’s top executives is leaving the payments giant for a broker-tech startup, CNBC has learned.
Terry Angelos, global head of fintech and crypto at Visa, will take over as CEO of start-up DriveWealth next week. Angelos joined Visa seven years ago as part of its acquisition of TrialPay, which he founded and led as CEO.
DriveWealth enables consumer finance apps like the Blocks Cash App and Revolut to offer stock trading by providing the necessary behind-the-scenes infrastructure. The Jersey City-based broker was one of the first to allow split investment or the purchase of shares in small amounts relative to entire shares.
As retail has boomed during the pandemic, Angelos said the long-term option is to internationalize U.S. stocks. He estimated that around one billion people around the world, outside of China, access financial services from a digital wallet or fintech app and seek exposure to blue-chip stocks.
“If you were to think of the most reliable long-term asset that people around the world want to own, it’s shares in U.S. companies,” Angelos said. “Traditionally, people outside the United States have not been able to open a brokerage account. That’s something we think we can help solve.”
Corporate America has been a less safe haven this week, with the Dow Jones hitting the year’s lowest level on Monday. Yet over the past six decades, U.S. equities have yielded an annual return of around 10%.
DriveWealth was last valued at $ 3.7 billion and is backed by Softbank, including Fidelity and Citi Ventures’ venture capital alert, according to Pitchbook. The company acts as a licensed broker, providing clearing and settlement on behalf of its fintech clients, who manage the customer experience and applications.
DriveWealth also provides storage for individual accounts and shares. To connect to these applications, it uses software known as API or Application Programming Interface. The company said it doubled its customer base year-over-year with 140% growth in its international partners. Starting with stocks, DriveWealth also offers crypto-investment infrastructure.
Individual investor activity has declined significantly from its peak in 2021 at the time of the GameStop frenzy. The retail participation rate, measured by retail volume as a percentage of total transaction volume, recently dropped to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic, according to Rich Repetto, CEO and chief analyst at Piper Sandler.
The withdrawal hurt shares in Robinhood, which recently said it was cutting 9% of its workforce after increasing employment to meet demand, and other listed brokerage firms.
Still, Angelos said DriveWealth has seen increased participation and account growth during the recent downturn, underscoring the long-term value of U.S. stocks.
“We are still in the growth cycle of making stocks available to people who otherwise would not have access to them, and we will continue to see growth, even though there may be volatility or setbacks among more active traders,” he said.
As for a listed offering, Angelos said it was “potentially on the roadmap.” But for now, he said he is focused on increasing his footprint and returning to the role of CEO after nearly a decade at Visa.