Global payments made instant

🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week:


✍️ Notes from the Editors

Today’s article is brought to you by Mercury. Say goodbye to clunky banking tools. Mercury has launched powerful personal banking.*

When people think of the blockchain, there’s a different mental image that appears for everyone. But for the Mural team, they see a global infrastructure for lightning-fast, low-expense payments.

Our coverage (written by contributor Arjun Loomba) comes at an interesting time—Stripe announced stablecoin payouts just last week, marking wider adoption of safer blockchain technologies in day-to-day transactions.

Be sure to stay with us until the end of this week’s article. We have a Q&A with Mural’s Founder & CEO Sinclair Toffa on his experience building a startup, the (realistic) blockchain landscape, and his thoughts on the future.

- Ethan and Arek 🦄

Global payments made instant

Mural is an instant global payment platform designed to streamline and simplify financial transactions across borders. By leveraging cutting-edge technology, it offers businesses and individuals the ability to send and receive payments quickly, securely, and with minimal fees. Mural aims to disrupt traditional banking and payment systems by providing a more accessible, efficient, and cost-effective solution for global commerce. The company's mission centers on enhancing financial inclusion and enabling economic opportunities for users worldwide, reflecting a commitment to transforming the way the world transacts.

🔗 Check it out:

💰 Business Model

Mural’s business model is twofold. First, there’s a monthly SaaS fee for access to the software and being able to use different features on the platform. Second, Mural charges a transaction fee for exchange fees (for example, between U.S. dollars and Colombian Peso).

📈 Traction and Fundraising

  • Raised $5.6 million seed round from Firstminute Capital, Galaxy Digital, Digital Currency Group, AlleyCorp, 186 Ventures, and leaders at companies including Ledger, Alchemy, Digits, Argent, Esusu, and Apple

👫 Founders

  • Sinclair Toffa, CEO: Previously Technical Lead @ Palantir, CS BS @ Duke University

In partnership with Mercury

Say goodbye to clunky banking tools.

Mercury has launched powerful personal banking.*

Mercury Personal was engineered with the same Mercury experience that’s loved by over 200K builders in startups. 

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👉 One subscription and zero surprise fees. Rather than account fees, payment fees, and a slew of others, Mercury Personal is all-inclusive for one $240 annual subscription. It includes sending unlimited domestic wires, ACH, and check payments. And with a $5,000 balance in your savings, you’ll earn more than $240 a year at the current APY, covering the cost of your subscription. 

Best of all: Unicorner readers get priority on the waitlist by using our link. 👇

*Mercury is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by Choice Financial Group; Member FDIC.

**Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is accurate as of 4/01/2024. This is a variable rate account. The interest rate and annual percentage yield may change at any time and without prior notice.

***Deposits in Mercury checking and savings accounts are held by our partner bank, Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC. Certain conditions must be satisfied for pass-through insurance to apply. Learn more here.

🔮 Our Analysis

As users, when we want to make a digital payment we think about Venmo or Zelle and instantly send money to our friends or family. However, business transactions are slightly more complex. When you extend this problem to making international payments, traditional financial infrastructure can fall short.

Widely used international payment mechanisms, such as SWIFT and wire transfers, are criticized for their slow processing times and high fees. This can be tricky for startups looking to grow quickly abroad. Luckily, Mural is challenging the current payment landscape by leveraging blockchain technology. This is not to be confused with crypto, which is a speculative asset, but rather they use stablecoin-based digital currencies like USDC.

Mural has quickly adopted several features to make digital payment seamless for its clients. These include a transaction monitoring platform, invoicing support, and accounting integrations with tools like QuickBooks. It has also been rapidly shipping new features. For example, it recently launched Bill Pay, a tool that processes payments in bulk to avoid messy spreadsheets and ad-hoc transactions.

Overall, we believe that Mural will provide strong competition to traditional international banking infrastructure which hold the lion's share in international payments. It’s solving an issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of businesses worldwide, especially startups. We’re excited to see how Toffa and his team grow Mural worldwide and transform the digital payments space.

Written by Arjun Raj Loomba

🎙️ Founder Q&A 

This Q&A has been reconstructed from interview notes.

Sinclair Toffa

Founder & CEO, Mural

U: What are some of the challenges you faced while scaling Mural and how did you overcome them? 

ST: Seamlessly integrating blockchain with existing financial channels was tricky. While developing blockchain infrastructure, technological iteration is very quick. Building out the right abstraction so that the end user doesn’t need to worry about these components is a big challenge. Another challenge is education and adoption. For those who aren’t very familiar with digital currencies, there is this challenge that comes with it.

U: What’s the thinking behind going for blockchain technology? 

ST: Blockchain technology helps move money instantly. This is not crypto; crypto aligns more with speculative assets. It’s instead a focus on the digitalization of currencies that people currently use (i.e. stablecoins like USDC mirroring the US dollar). 

U: How do you navigate regulations when moving money? 

ST: We have partners that do the currency conversion process for us. Depending on the country we abide by regulations by putting constraints and limits.

U: How do you see the global payment landscape changing?

ST: More and more of the world is moving toward digital currencies. Existing currencies will be mirrored into digital currencies because they’re more efficient. Mural will be one of the cornerstone platforms that’s going to be used to make digital payment accessible globally. This is similar to what PayPal did for online payments 2 decades ago for debit/credit card payments.

U: What is some advice that you can give to young entrepreneurs? 

ST: It’s important to be self-aware of who you are and understand your perception of happiness and success. Doing this is transformative and can be used as a blueprint in life about what you want to pursue. Ultimately it’s about being on a path that you are very passionate about.

Some methods to becoming more self-aware are experimenting with a life manifesto, and also having/building up a mental fitness practice.

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