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Fintech’s March Madness: The Top Seeds “Jonesing” for Glory in Indiana

Ahh March Madness… my favorite time of year for sports (and gambling) and also the one tournament where I’m typically out of the running in my myriad betting pools after day one. While I’ve paid only marginal attention to actual college basketball this year, I’ve been keeping much closer tabs on the madness that has enveloped fintech. And while 68 teams comprise the real March Madness tournament, I’m really only focused on the top four fintech seeds… and that’s primarily due to length of this post (as well as my waning attention span).

With the pandemic once again impacting this year’s tournament, there really isn’t a true home court advantage for top-seeded teams, as all games will be played in Indiana (a state I have visited once, yet will be referencing multiple times in this post). For what it’s worth, in non-pandemic times, March Madness seeds are bracketed by region—East, West, South and Southeast.

But enough about basketball! Here are this year’s fintech top seeds and how I think they’ll fare (based on absolutely nothing scientific). Will we see stunning upsets? A perfect season? Will fintech’s equivalent of Jim Nantz bestow his stupid tie among this year’s winner? (I hope not). So without further ado, here are the four top fintech seeds—and how they’ll fare:

  • Bitcoin—of course, they’re a number one seed! But, they’ll be upset in the first round due to fluctuation. The famed Winklevii will get into early foul trouble. It’ll be reminiscent of the 2018 Virginia Cavaliers, which suffered a shocking loss at the hands of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County); the only time a number one seed has lost to a 16 seed. While that game was an underdog feel-good, Virginia did come back in 2019 to win it all (though don’t take that as a prediction).
  • BNPL—another number one seed. Enormous valuations will propel “Buy Now, Pay Later” through to the Final 4, where they’ll be upset by retailers’ branded credit cards. This loss will be akin to the 1991 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, that exciting, unbeaten and top-ranked team, which lost a somewhat shocking Final 4 game to the Duke Blue Devils.
  • Real-Time Payments—with so much talent and experience from countless countries as well as many great use cases, they were a lock for a number one seed. With young U.S. talent to complement the deep rest-of-world bench, they’re storming through the first five games where they’ll meet…
  • Contactless—the overall number one seed. And they’re riding their sails (and sales) all the way to the Big Dance where they’ll be the first seed since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to run the tables and go undefeated. But this will be a close game (like Indiana over Syracuse in 1987). And thus concludes my final reference to Indiana.

Good luck to all of you on your picks and I hope your brackets aren’t busted after day one.

Vice President of Public Relations

Dan is a veteran of tech companies large and small and leads global PR efforts for ACI. Among his responsibilities is working to educate external audiences (press, analysts, influencers) on just how cool ACI is. Dan is not a payments expert, but knows more than the average layperson to be slightly dangerous. He's bullish on mobile and bearish on wearables.