It was perhaps the most notorious Super Bowl ad of all time: an era-hopping Larry David playing a perpetual skeptic, pooh-poohing inventions like the wheel, the light bulb, the U.S. constitution — and cryptocurrency. The crypto exchange FTX delivered the ultimate FOMO message: digitized money is here, and it will change the world.
Less well-remembered is that 2022’s tightly fought contest between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals was punctuated by numerous ads that spoke to the increasing merger between finance and technology, including FTX’s competitors Coinbase, Crypto.com, and eToro; Rakuten, a cash-back service for your phone; the return of the E*Trade baby; the online gambling service Draftkings; the online mortgage provider Rocket Homes; TurboTax Live; and Greenlight, a financial app for children.
Not that long ago, the idea of conducting sensitive financial transactions online was foreign to the vast majority of Americans. Now, these ads suggested, it’s a necessary daily activity.
The 2022 Super Bowl can be thought of as a kind of peak in fintech’s meteoric journey. In the ensuing two years, the sector has experienced major convulsions, including layoffs, bankruptcies, and a sharp drop in private funding. The abrupt change in circumstances led some to speculate that the fintech revolution had run its course, and that an imminent winnowing would leave standing only a few of the more resilient players.
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