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Ex-PayPal and Venmo vets launch Meso to connect crypto wallets with bank accounts, announce $9.5M seed round

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A team of fintech-turned-crypto converts today launched Meso, a payment platform that brings digital assets and fiat currencies closer together, making it easier for users to move money on- and off-chain.

“A crypto app, like a self custodial wallet or a centralized exchange, can now build in a seamless way for a user to load money in and out of their wallet,” Meso cofounder & CEO Ben Mills told Fortune.

The on-ramp product integrates bank accounts and cards within crypto applications, allowing the latter to onboard users without first sending them off to a centralized exchange to fund their wallets. The result is a speedier, simplified onboarding process.

A seamless transition between crypto wallets and fiat banking apps is needed for broader adoption, Mills said. Difficulties during the fiat-crypto transaction process can result in abandonment of up to 90% of purchases, with approximately half of transactions failing, according to research by Cointelegraph.

“We have a solution that allows you to keep the user where they are, which is, frankly, just better for everyone,” Mills said.

The founders previously worked at PayPal, Braintree, and Venmo, and are now using their consumer fintech expertise to better integrate the TradFi and Defi worlds.

“Meso envisions a future where users aren’t required to use centralized exchanges to get started in crypto,” Mills said in a statement.

Users pay a 1.5% fee to transfer funds between their bank and wallet, and the integration is compatible with web apps, browser extensions, and mobile.

Mills says one obstacle he faced at Venmo, where he was head of product, was how to encourage users to keep their money in-app. By creating a seamless user experience of topping-up and withdrawing funds from the Venmo balance, users grew more comfortable with keeping their money there, which is a lesson he’s brought to Meso.

Unlocking the paradigm that it’s quick and easy to move funds between a bank account and digital wallet is key to bringing crypto into the mainstream, Mills says. In Venmo’s infancy “there was this perception that this is fake internet money, and that’s really similar to crypto” but then there’s “the moment they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s actual money, it’s in my bank account—this is very tangible to me now.’”

So far, Meso has partnered only with Cross River Bank, a crypto-friendly regional bank and USDC stablecoin issuer that worked with Circle after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

Meso today also unveiled a $9.5 million seed round co-led by Solana Ventures and Ribbit Capital, with participation from Canonical Crypto and 6th Man Ventures. The round also drew participation from angel investors, including Phantom cofounder Chris Kalani, Pinterest CEO Bill Ready, and Archie Puri of Bodhi Labs.

“[Meso’s] work on seamless fiat-blockchain transactions is helping to create a ubiquitous payment platform, connecting disparate parts of the financial grid,” Ribbit Capital’s Justin Saslaw said in a statement.



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