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2021 was a breakout year for Modern Treasury. We underwent so much change as a company that it’s hard to imagine we found any time to read. And yet, if you’ve read our other Behind The Scenes blogs, you know we’re payments nerds who’ve never been shy about our deep reading culture—our CEO even posts his own list of yearly book recommendations. So if you’re looking for some interesting articles as we head into the holidays, we thought we’d share some of our company’s favorite reads from the year.

What We Read (And Listened To)

For fintech nerds, 2021 seemed to be another year of acronyms—from BNPL to NFTs to web3—all challenging the traditional paradigm of financial services. In Brazil, RTP was top of mind as adoption skyrocketed for the Central Bank’s mobile payment platform, Pix (a payments system akin to Zelle) while fintech players like Nubank aim to serve the unbanked population of the country. Fintech Takes was rethinking banks as a center of gravity in financial services and, The Economist’s Money Talks podcast asked the important question: “Does the World Still Need Banks?” These articles (and podcast) reminded us about the opportunities for software to make meaningful impacts in transforming the payment and financial infrastructure the economy runs on.

2021 was also the first year we partnered with The Harris Poll to conduct the payment operations survey to learn more about the current state of payment operations—that is, the entire payments lifecycle from initiation to approvals to reconciliation. As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones talking about it. Notable reads include Samora Kariuki’s piece on B2B Payment Operations, Andreesen Horowitz’s Seema Amble and David Haber’s “How to Move Money in the 21st Century,” and Redpoint Ventures’ “Embedded Fintech (Part I and Part II).” 

“The need for a new generation of FinOps software is only increasing as companies continue to expand globally and new payment methods are created. This infrastructure will be critical to understanding a company’s real-time financial health and empowering the CFO (and their organization) to become more strategic.” - Seema Amble and David Haber, a16z 

We were also impressed with some industry primers, like Mine Safety Disclosures’ “Overview and History of Visa,” Part I and Part II, which discusses how Visa came to be the card network juggernaut it is today. And non-engineers and technical folks alike appreciated Technically’s “APIs for the Rest of Us,” a great guide for how APIs work, where and how to initiate an API call, and more. 

Finally, as we tripled the size of our team this year, we kept in mind lessons Fast Company shared from Twilio CEO, Jeff Lawson’s book, Ask Your Developer called “The 'Dozen-Bagel' Secret to Preserving Startup Spirit as Your Company Grows.” Maintaining culture as we scale is never easy, but this is also why we’re thinking about building with the right people as we embark on what Packy McCormick referred to as “The Quadrillion Dollar Quest.” (Yes, it’s hard not to humble brag about being featured in Not Boring —or getting to host Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal on a surreal episode of Acquired reverse-interviewing the hosts!)

For a fun bonus, we also read a bunch of blog posts, profile pieces, and “good tweets, good tweets” about Succession. We’re still not ready to talk about the season 3 finale.

What We Wrote‍

2021 was a big year of writing for us. We dug into questions that we encountered as we built products, helped customers, and partnered with banks. Here are the five posts that received the most feedback, Twitter love, and comments from our customers and community:

  1. Bad Software and Expensive Mistakes, the story behind Citi’s accidental $900M wire that underscores one of the problems that Modern Treasury is trying to solve.
  2. When and How to Set Up an FBO Account, a guide on “For the Benefit Of” or FBO accounts, the costs and benefits, and if and when to set one up at a bank. 
  3. Designing the Ledgers API with Optimistic Locking, an engineering manager’s point of view on building our ledgers API with concurrency control semantics to better manage transaction volume.
  4. Why I Joined Modern Treasury, our Head of Engineering, Shruthi Murthy’s path from WhatsApp to our team.
  5. Announcing Virtual Accounts, the story behind why we built our latest product. 

We wish you all a restful and well-read holiday season, and we look forward to more reading and writing in 2022.

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