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Solarisbank raises €190 million and acquires Contis

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Solarisbank raises €190 million and acquires Contis
Dr Roland Folz, chief executive officer of Solarisbank

Solarisbank, the European banking-as-a-service provider, has raised €190 million in an oversubscribed series D funding round that values the Germany-based fintech at €1.4 billion.

The round was led by Decisive Capital Management, with support from growth investors, including Pathway Capital Management, CNP (Groupe Frère) and Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital. Existing investors led by yabeo Capital, alongside BBVA, Vulcan Capital and HV Capital, also participated in the round with significant additional investments.

Solarisbank enables global brands and fast-growing fintechs to integrate financial services into their own product offering via APIs.

Since its series C funding in June 2020, Solarisbank has migrated its full tech stack to the Amazon Web Services cloud and moved all partners to its entirely self-developed core banking system.

In doing so, Solarisbank says it has set a new European benchmark in terms of cost efficiency, scalability and service quality. Recently, the company announced its official market entry in France, Italy and Spain, where it will offer local IBANs to its partners.

Dr Roland Folz, chief executive officer of Solarisbank, says: “In the last 12 months, our passionate team has delivered against key milestones on our ambitious expansion journey. The funding is the result of their outstanding work and will further fuel our vision to create a world where financial services seamlessly sync with life.”

Thomas Schlytter-Henrichen, partner at Decisive Capital Management, adds: “We are experiencing a paradigm shift in banking, where customers expect financial services to adapt to their specific needs. Technology is the key to enable this transformation and Solarisbank’s powerful banking-as-a-service platform positions it perfectly for this new banking era. We are both inspired by the team and thrilled to work together on its mission.”

Solarisbank has used a portion of the proceeds from the series D round to acquire Contis, a profitable European payments fintech based in the UK.

Founded in 2008 by fintech veteran Peter Cox, Contis has grown to become one of the most comprehensive banking-as-a-service providers for payments in Europe.

Solarisbank says the acquisition will allow for a holistic offering that is second to none in terms of market coverage and product offering.

Cox, executive chairman and founder of Contis Group, comments: “Contis is one of the true fintech trailblazers, with numerous awards to its name and a proven track record of delivering disruptive technology, securely with proven high reliability in the payments space. Having already become one of Europe’s fastest growing companies over the last three years, this coming together brings our joint velocity to the next level. Solarisbank and Contis share the same vision and values and together we will spearhead the global trend of embedded finance.”

Ramin Niroumand, chairman of the supervisory board of Solarisbank, adds: “The alliance of our companies follows a clear strategic rationale as the platforms complement each other perfectly. Together we will build an international powerhouse for banking-as-a-service. We are delighted to have won a group of new elite investors to accompany us on our future growth journey.”

Upon completion of the transaction, the combined entity will be led by Solarisbank’s chief executive officer, Dr Folz. Cox will support the transition in his new role as senior adviser and shareholder.

Inclusive of this Series D round, Solarisbank has raised more than €350 million since its founding in 2016. Both the funding round and the transaction are subject to regulatory approval.

SaaScada appoints Paul Payne as chief technology officer

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SaaScada appoints Paul Payne as chief technology officer
Paul Payne

SaaScada, the new core banking platform and services provider, has appointed Paul Payne as its chief technology officer.

Payne will oversee the execution of UK-based SaaScada’s technology roadmap and the implementation of its cloud native core banking platform across a growing number of established institutions and challengers within the retail banking sector.

Educated to MBA level, with 20 years software development experience and a track record building and leading engineering and operations teams, Payne brings strong cloud platform engineering and delivery expertise to the executive team.

Payne joins SaaScada from Iris Software Systems, where he held a combined chief technology and operations officer role responsible for product, engineering, project delivery and support functions.

Prior to Iris, Payne held the position of digital portfolio delivery manager at Direct Line Group, and head of development at LexisNexis.

Nelson Wootton, chief executive officer at SaaScada, comments: “I am delighted to welcome Paul to the team; he brings a wealth of experience gained in the B2B SaaS and PaaS solutions sector to SaaScada. Paul will be instrumental in achieving our plan to expand and bring solutions that anticipate and truly meet the changing needs of customers to the wider retail banking sector.”

Payne says: “I am thrilled to join SaaScada at such an exciting time for the business. Deepening SaaScada’s configuration capabilities to enable rapid deployment of highly sophisticated savings and lending products is key to the next stage of our evolution and I look forward to working with the team to facilitate the level of innovation required by such a rapidly evolving market.”

Corefy launches new office to expand its presence in the Asia Pacific

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Corefy launches new office to expand its presence in the Asia Pacific

Payment orchestration platform provider Corefy has opened its first regional office in the Asia Pacific with the aim to expand the company’s global coverage.

Corefy was launched in 2018 with headquarters in London, UK, and R&D offices in Kyiv, Ukraine.

After three years of development, the company has launched the new regional office in Manila, Philippines. The office will serve as the base for a sales executive and a customer success manager, who are a part of Corefy’s business development team.

Den Melnykov, chief business officer at Corefy, says: “This is an important decision for our company and one more step in our global growth strategy. The APAC market is one of the fastest growing in the world and has a favourable environment for the development of ecommerce. Representation in the Philippines allows us to cover more clients and provide qualified services in new time zones.”

Due to the Covid situation in the region, Corefy’s management team decided to postpone opening a physical office. For the time being, new representatives will work remotely.

Once the situation gets back to normal, the company expects to find a comfortable workspace and increase the number of employees in Manila to create a full-fledged unit that will cover business development and support issues in the region.

The new regional office will focus its attention on Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Thailand, and other countries of the region. 

Melnykov adds: “Our aim for the nearest few months is to onboard new colleagues, to help them understand the product and all processes. In the next quarter, we expect to see the first clients from the APAC region onboard.”

Corefy plans to open at least three more offices on different continents by the end of 2022.

Paystand raises $50m in series C funding round

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Paystand raises $50m in series C funding round

Paystand, the blockchain-enabled payment network provider for business, completed a $50 million series C round of funding led by NewView Capital.

SoftBank’s Opportunity Fund, King River Capital, Industrious Ventures, and Transform Capital also participated in the round, which nearly doubles the funding Paystand raised in prior rounds and reflects the company’s triple-digit growth as it leads the movement for an open commercial finance system.

Paystand will use this new capital to invest in redefining B2B payments to accelerate the shift to a more business-centric payment infrastructure. With the funding, Jazmin Medina of NewView Capital will join the board.

Paystand automates the entire cash lifecycle so businesses can unlock cashless, feeless, intuitive payments. The company leverages cloud technology and the Ethereum blockchain to power the Paystand Bank Network—a digital, highly secure B2B payment network with zero fees.

Rather than charging a traditional percentage fee on each transaction, Paystand delivers a payments-as-a-service subscription model so businesses can scale without incurring significant fee-per-transaction costs that penalise growth.

To date, more than 250,000 companies make payments through the Paystand blockchain-based network, resulting in over $2 billion in payment volume.

The company has achieved 1,007% revenue growth in the past three years, as well as a 200% increase in monthly network payment volume and 2.5x increase in customers since its series B.

Paystand co-founder and chief executive officer Jeremy Almond commentS: “DeFi and blockchain represent the largest shift in our economy in over a generation. B2B payments can now happen instantly and securely as money has become software; yet, most finance teams are still mired in paper, manual processes, and fees.”

“With this new funding, Paystand is uniquely positioned to bring the benefits of blockchain to commercial payments so businesses can be more agile and competitive in the post-pandemic landscape. Our vision is to create an open financial infrastructure that delivers a self-driving money experience for businesses and provides radically better economics for the industry overall.”

Jazmin Medina of NewView Capital adds: “Paystand has been quietly rebooting commercial payments since 2013. In the same way that the EV industry re-thought the automobile to permanently move society away from fossil fuels, Paystand is creating an entirely new system for B2B payments—not simply laying a digital facade over broken plumbing.”

“We are thrilled to be part of Paystand’s journey and to support the company’s mission to build the next category of open financial infrastructure for business.”

Starling Bank acquires buy-to-let specialist mortgage lender

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Starling Bank acquires buy-to-let specialist mortgage lender

Starling Bank has acquired specialist buy-to-let mortgage lender Fleet Mortgages in a £50 million cash and share deal.

Fleet Mortgages, based in Hampshire, UK, focuses on providing mortgages to professional and semi-professional buy-to-let landlords, only via mortgage adviser distribution channels.

To date, it has originated £2.3 billion of mortgages and experienced zero credit losses. It currently has around £1.75 billion of mortgages under management.

Starling will become the sole funder of future originations, with Fleet able to build on its successful lending operation by accessing the digital bank’s growing deposit base.

Day-to-day operations at Fleet will continue unchanged, with the company’s existing and highly-respected management team.

The acquisition—Starling’s first—is part of a wider plan at the bank to expand lending through a mix of strategic forward-flow arrangements, organic lending, and targeted mergers and acquisitions activity.

Anne Boden, chief executive officer of Starling, says: “The acquisition of Fleet Mortgages is the start of our move into mortgages as an asset class and builds on a number of forward-flow arrangements that we’re doing with leading non-bank lenders.”

“Fleet’s existing management team will remain in place and Fleet will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, keeping the original name and brand. We’re buying Fleet because it is very good at what it does, not because we want to change it.”

Bob Young, chief executive officer of Fleet, comments: “We are very pleased to be announcing the acquisition of the business by Starling Bank which will deliver a significant benefit to the business, our intermediary partners and their landlord clients. It is certainly exciting times ahead.”

Young continues: “We started Fleet Mortgages seven years ago and have grown to become a successful mortgage originator with nine well-received securitisations. 2021 is set to become our best year yet with new mortgage loans running at £800 million and half-year pre-tax profits of £4 million.”

“Starling Bank will take over all of our funding, allowing us to focus on achieving our significant and ambitious lending and growth targets. This is a natural progression for our lending business, with both Starling and Fleet sharing a very similar cultural fit and providing us with a very strong lending base from which to work and to deliver for our staff, our adviser partners and our landlord customers.”

Fintech’s finest celebrate at the UK FinTech Awards 2021

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Fintech's finest celebrate at the UK FinTech Awards 2021 3

Starling Bank won FinTech of the Year last night to cap off a UK FinTech Awards 2021 ceremony in which 22 categories were closely fought.

Joining Starling Bank as winners were Tide (Banking Tech of the Year), Previse (Payments Tech of the Year) and Tractable (InsurTech of the Year).

The awards ceremony was held at Leonardo Royal Hotel London St Paul’s in the heart of the UK’s financial centre.

Ron Kalifa OBE, author of the independent fintech strategic review for the UK, set the scene for the evening with a speech on the rise of the jurisdiction as a fintech powerhouse.

He told attendees: “Over the past decade, fintech has moved steadily away from being a fringe sector populated by startups, to a world leading and fast-growing part of our economy. Fintech solutions now lie at the heart of innovation in financial services—and the total tech spend of traditional financial services was £95 billion in 2019.”

Phil Vidler, chief executive officer of FinTech Alliance and chair of the independent judging panel that oversaw and delivered the UK FinTech Awards 2021 results, praised the quality of every fintech that entered and their commitment to customers during the pandemic.

He continued: “To say investors are doubling down on fintech is an understatement.”

“It shows just how vital the sector will be in fueling economic recovery in the coming years. Not just from direct investment and job creation, but also as an enabler to other sectors. UK fintechs—many of them honoured in tonight’s awards—also offer vital support to industries like hospitality, retail and travel as they look to rebuild in the coming year.”

Fintech's finest celebrate at the UK FinTech Awards 2021 1
Ron Kalifa OBE

FinTech of the Year

The final award of the evening and its most prestigious, FinTech of the Year, went to Starling Bank.

The digital bank, which secured a valuation in excess of £1.1 billion pre-money earlier this year, has emerged as a vital digital banking provider to both consumers and businesses, according to the UK FinTech Awards 2021 judging panel.

A particular highlight for Starling Bank that the judges identified was its lending platform. They said the digital bank is removing delays in lending and simplifying the process.

Tide won Banking Tech of the Year thanks to its great work in business banking, where the fintech has made significant progress over the past year.

The judges described Tide as a worthy winner for expanding its business support tools and going the extra mile for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Equally impressive was Previse, winner of Payments Tech of the Year. This fintech is transforming payments for goods and services in the business-to-business space.

The judges said Previse is providing a valuable, sustainable solution that is a win-win for buyers and suppliers, and is yet another example of the rise of fintech to meet the impacts of the pandemic, particularly on businesses.

The 2021 InsurTech of the Year Tractable, the AI company serving many of the largest property and casualty insurers, manufacturers and fleet owners worldwide.

Tractable emerged from a competitive category as the clear winner, after showcasing how it has managed to use AI and insurtech to solve real issues for customers.

Fintech's finest celebrate at the UK FinTech Awards 2021 2
Phil Vidler, chief executive officer of FinTech Alliance

Praise for fintech’s trainees, rising stars, innovators and directors

The UK FinTech Awards 2021 also recognised the achievements of individuals with several categories.

Samantha Seaton, chief executive officer of Moneyhub Enterprise, the fintech that powers open banking and finance solutions that enhance financial wellness, won Director of the Year.

Seaton was described as a leader in both the financial services sector and open banking, who has championed financial wellness and was the standout choice for the category.

The evening was a fruitful one for Moneyhub Enterprise, which also won Pensions Tech of the Year for succeeding in getting users to engage with their pensions and WealthTech of the Year for demonstrating the power of AI when it is paired with capable people.

The 2021 Trainee of the Year Fiona Jones, marketing content lead at Digital Identity Net, whose OneID service empowers people to leverage their identity, decide who has access to it, and how they share it

Jones brought superb knowledge of the fintech sector to Digital Identity Net, according to the UK FinTech Awards 2021 judges, and carried out research projects that have materially impacted on its product strategy.

The judges also said that Jones continues to demonstrate an excellent standard of work within marketing and is a committed member of the Digital Identity Net team with a promising future.

Rising Star of the Year, a category designed to recognise the achievements of an individual who is rapidly ascending the fintech sector career ladder, went to Amélie Arras, marketing director at cryptocurrency wallet and payments provider Zumo.

Arras is a celebrated marketing and communications professional in the fintech sector, the judges reflected, who has widely promoted the benefits of cryptocurrency and championed the work of women in this space.

Innovator of the Year celebrates fintech’s most impressive innovators who, collectively, have made significant strides in the sector’s development.

The 2021 Innovator of the Year is Christine Minetou, who has been central to digital home and car insurer Policy Expert‘s approach to data.

Minetou spearheads a team of data scientists working at the cutting edge of insurance pricing and pioneers the use of data analytics techniques.

The UK FinTech Awards will be returning in 2022.

Visit the UK FinTech Awards website for a full list of the winners and the reasons for their success last night.

Capchase lands $280m as new BNPL product launches

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Capchase lands $280m as new BNPL product launches

Capchase, a New York-based provider of non-dilutive capital, has secured $280 million in new debt and equity financing in a round led by i80 Group.

The new funding comes on the heels of continued growth and the introduction of Capchase Expense Financing, a new buy now, pay later (BNPL) product that helps companies split large expenses over time, in fixed repayment terms.

When combined with Capchase’s leading programmatic funding solution, companies unlock resources for growth while preserving their cash.

Capchase Expense Financing enables companies to manage their largest expenses—such as legal bills, hosting services, payroll and bonus payments, and recruitment fees, to name a few—without depleting their cash. Repayment terms are fixed in either three, six, nine, or 12-month increments.

With Capchase Expense Financing, companies can avoid large, immediate outflows, time their expenses with their revenue, and identify certain expenses that they would rather repay over time—all benefits that were never before possible.

“Our new BNPL solution is a first in our industry, and we believe it will be a game changer,” notes Miguel Fernandez, co-founder and chief executive officer of Capchase. “Since we launched just over a year ago, we’ve seen first-hand the challenges that companies face when securing the financing they need to grow their business.”

“Managing large expenses and having to make difficult decisions over how they spend their cash is one of the most consistent and trying issues that our clients face. Now, Capchase users can pay upfront, get a discount, and split their expense payments over fixed monthly increments.”

Capchase was launched in 2020 to help recurring-revenue companies secure growth capital that doesn’t dilute their founders’ ownership.

The development of Capchase’s expense financing solution is a reflection of the company’s rapid growth over the past year and continued fundraising momentum in 2021.

Since launch, Capchase clients have added more than 3,000 months of runway for 500 different companies, have added over $160 million in annual recurring revenue and have increased in valuation by $4 billion+.

The Capchase Expense Financing solution is made possible by $280 million in new debt and equity funding, led by i80 Group, an innovative investment firm that partners with pre-eminent tech-enabled companies to extend credit solutions that are uniquely designed to fuel growth.

With this new funding, Capchase will be able to substantially increase the number of companies it is able to work with, as well as the amount of funding it is able to provide.

Paytm plans IPO worth $2.2 billion

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Paytm plans IPO worth $2.2 billion

India-based digital payments company Paytm is planning an initial public offering worth up to $2.2 billion.

Paytm, whose payments app is used by more than 20 million merchants and businesses, is also considering a pre-IPO round that could raise up to $268 million, according to TechCrunch.

Current investors include Alibaba, Berkshire Hathaway and SoftBank. Paytm intends to use the proceeds from its IPO to broaden its payments services offering, enter into new initiatives and explore acquisition opportunities.

Founded in 2016, Paytm is among the emerging ‘super apps’ that enable users to access a range of financial services, including basic payments, but also banking, wealth management and credit.

Daloopa closes $20m series A round

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Daloopa closes $20m series A round

Daloopa has closed $20 million in series A financing to accelerate its AI-driven data extraction offerings for financial institutions.

The new funding round was led by Credit Suisse Asset Management’s NEXT Investors, along with participation from existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Uncorrelated Ventures, and Hack VC.

Daloopa has raised $24 million to date. Credit Suisse Asset Management’s NEXT Investors and Nexus Venture Partners will each assign a member to the New York-based fintech’s board of directors.

Data extraction often is a repetitive, complex, technology-less process in a large number of financial services roles where hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled professionals collectively spend millions of hours each year typing data from a file into a spreadsheet.

Conventional methods to obtain data from documents are time-consuming and un-scalable. Over 30% of a financial analyst’s time today is spent on detailed data entry and data cleaning, instead of value-additive research and analysis.

Daloopa’s mission is to provide clarity and efficiency to financial markets through record-breaking data extraction quality and accuracy through the use of AI-driven software.

“We are at a turning point in technology where software and AI can automate some of the most mundane work for a financial analyst,” explains Daloopa chief executive officer Thomas Li. “At Daloopa, we are focused on providing levels of data accuracy surpassing 99.9%, at unprecedented speeds and scale, for some of the most complicated document types and data structures in the financial sector.”

Talal Khan, director at NEXT Investors in Credit Suisse Asset Management, comments: “We are thrilled to be working with Daloopa which has a distinct understanding of what it takes to automate data extraction, and solve one of the oldest and most prevalent problems in finance.”

Revolut raises $800m of funding

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Revolut raises $800m of funding

Revolut, the fintech whose banking app has more than 16 million customers worldwide, has raised $800 million in series E funding, valuing the business at $33 billion.

The new funding round brings onboard two new investors, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Tiger Global Management.

The investment will enable the company to further its growth plans, in particular its ongoing product innovation aimed at meeting customers’ everyday financial needs and aspirations, from quick and easy global transfers, to managing everything from savings to insurance, to democratising wealth and trading. It will also support the expansion of Revolut’s offering to US customers and its entry to India and other international markets.

Commenting on the fundraise, Nikolay Storonsky, founder and chief executive officer of Revolut, says: “SoftBank and Tiger Global’s investments are an endorsement of our mission to create a global financial superapp that enables customers to manage all their financial needs through a single platform. This funding round makes Revolut the UK’s most valuable fintech, demonstrating investors’ confidence that we can deliver products that raise the bar for customers’ expectations across the whole financial services industry.”

Storonsky adds: “We want our global superapp to offer our customers 10x better value and 10x better service and security than they can achieve anywhere else. We are building a full financial product suite in a single app, where you will always find the product that best meets your needs. Our services will be increasingly personalised, responding to our customers’ daily needs, always with low and transparent fees. As we expand into new markets we are encouraged by our customers’ enthusiasm for Revolut and we look forward to using this investment to further our mission.”

Karol Niewiadomski, senior investor for SoftBank Investment Advisers, comments: “Revolut’s rate of innovation has redefined the role of financial services, placing Revolut at the forefront of Europe’s nascent neobanking sector. The company’s rapidly growing user base reflects a sustained demand for Revolut’s expanding suite of services. We look forward to supporting Nikolay and the team in continued product innovation and bringing their services to new markets globally.”

Scott Shleifer, partner at Tiger Global, adds: “We believe Revolut’s superior customer experience and focus on rapid product development put the company in a strong position to continue scaling in both existing and new geographies. We are excited to partner with Nik and the Revolut team as they build the next generation of financial services.”

Meet the #UKFTAwards finalists: Synectics Solutions

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Synectics Solutions, a provider of anti-fraud solutions based on syndicated data and predictive analytics, is a finalist for Data Initiative of the Year at the UK FinTech Awards 2021.

Richard Wood, chief executive officer at Synectics, reveals why data really can be a force for good, especially when it’s shared, and reflects on what it would mean to win Data Initiative of the Year at the ceremony on 22 July in London.

FinTech Intel: Congratulations on being named as a finalist for Data Initiative of the Year—how crucial of a role is data playing in the fight against fraud, particularly financial?

Synectics Solutions - Richard Wood
Richard Wood
Chief executive officer
Synectics Solutions

Wood: Thank you. The role data plays in fighting financial crime is absolutely critical. Serious and organised crime, much of which is driven by economic crime, is estimated to cost the UK £37 billion a year. We all know that this figure is set to rise in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Quite simply, data is one of the few effective weapons we all have in our arsenal, and the real value is unleashed when we bring our resources together.

We have helped organisations that we work with identify and prevent more than £5 billion of fraud, through the power of shared data. Data is crucial to the identification and disruption of the latest financial fraudulent activity, crimes that are anything but victimless and include:

  • Pinpointing money mules that are involved with, coerced into and victimised by serious organised crime.
  • Working to identify push payment fraud where our grandparents and other family members are deceived out of their savings.
  • Targeting fake businesses that fraudulently obtain taxpayer funds and funnel the proceeds overseas.

FinTech Intel: It feels like partnerships and collaboration are key—is that how Synectics works?

Wood: In a word, yes. The hint is in our name, Synectics, meaning the coming together of a group of people of different skill sets to solve a common problem. Our entire business was founded almost 30 years ago on the principles of syndicating data and sharing insight across industries. We have always recognised that when we collaborate, we are all so much more powerful than the sum of our individual parts.

More than 140 organisations in the private sector, and 1300 public sector organisations, actively work to prevent fraud in their own organisations and to alert all other organisations in the ecosystem of these bad actors.

Companies that, under normal circumstances, would be seen as competitors, stand side by side united in the fight against financial crime and fraud.

If you are a criminal with the intent of committing fraud, collaboration on this scale will make your ‘job’ incredibly difficult to accomplish. UK PLC is a global leader in these partnerships, where everyone benefits from more efficient use of their taxes and lower costs to access financial services.

Our ecosystem, by its very nature, promotes cross industry and public-private collaboration—it’s the only way we know.

FinTech Intel: The rise of fintech will undoubtedly draw questions about privacy and data protection—how important is it that the sector gains the trust of its customers in these respects?

Wood: It’s absolutely critical. We believe privacy and data protection regulation has been a positive catalyst for growth. Customers trust their bank more than any other organisation when it comes to data privacy and security. 

When you apply for a new credit card, seek to move house, and renew your mortgage, or look to buy a new car, you want to know your data is used with your best interests in mind. You want to know it’s secure and you want to feel that no-one else could access these services by fraudulently using your credentials. For UK fintechs, this trust must be core to their business philosophy.

Trust will be the new customer battleground, and loyalty will be its currency.

We all know that ‘digital first’ is the mantra of most fintechs and is at the centre of transformation strategies for most established financial institutions. With this shift comes greater responsibility around privacy and data protection, responsibilities that we all need to share.

FinTech Intel: Finally, what would it mean to you and Synectics to win Data Initiative of the Year at this year’s UK FinTech Awards?

Wood: Personally, I’d love to take the award back to Stoke and parade it through the streets on an open top bus (Covid-19 restrictions permitting). We are a very big part of our local community and I know that this would mean a lot for the region, as well as Synectics.

Stoke-on-Trent benefited from being the world centre of ceramic production as we know it, although today most of the bottle kilns have been destroyed with only sanitised remainders left. Celebrating Stoke in the modern era of fintechs would be a significant boost, celebrated with our university partners, our school affiliations and promoted as a success story for a more modern Stoke.

It would also be an incredible recognition by the industry of all the hard work we’ve put in over the last 30 years. When our staff come to work every day, they know that they are helping our customers fight for the good of society as a whole and they’re incredibly proud of the part we play in that fight.

It proves that data really can be a force for good, especially when it’s shared.

Meet the #UKFTAwards finalists: Digital Identity Net

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Meet the UKFTAwards finalists - Digital Identity Net

Digital Identity Net, whose OneID service empowers people to leverage their identity, decide who has access to it, and how they share it, is a finalist for the Diversity & Inclusion Award at the UK FinTech Awards 2021. Fiona Jones, the fintech company’s marketing content lead, is also a finalist for Trainee of the Year.

Jones and Becca Menzler, business manager at Digital Identity Net, discuss their and the company’s work, and what it would mean to be recognised with these awards at the ceremony on 22 July in London.

FinTech Intel: What’s your background and how did you get to where you are today?

Digital Identity Net - Fiona Jones
Fiona Jones
Marketing content lead
Digital Identity Net

Jones: I graduated from Leeds University—having studied Economics—straight into the middle of the pandemic last July. A few graduate offers fell through as companies had to pull back during the uncertainty I’m sure everyone remembers and may still be experiencing now. It was a difficult time to be entering the job market but I found my silver lining in a job with Digital Identity Net, joining its product team as an analyst. I already had a keen interest in the fintech sector, having written my undergraduate dissertation on bank switching behaviours and challenger banks.

Since then I’ve moved around quite a bit thanks to some great mentors within the company, and am now enjoying an incredible role working in content for the marketing team.

FinTech Intel: What’s it like to train and work in the fintech sector? Would you recommend it to others?

Fiona Jones: For me, starting my career in the fintech sector has meant a wealth of opportunities, variation of work and just wild opportunities that I couldn’t have seen coming. In fintech, there’s always something new happening, some developments that impact on your work, whether directly or indirectly. Most importantly, being in this sector has meant working with some of the most impressive yet personable colleagues, some of whom have also been great mentors to me both professionally and personally.

FinTech Intel: What would it mean to you to win Trainee of the Year?

Jones: For me, this award would be the icing on the cake for a year that has been well beyond my expectations for my first year of work post-university. Since starting at Digital Identity Net, I’ve learnt so many new skills, moved teams, organised events, written articles, organised socials—the list goes on. To win this award would be a great way to acknowledge how far I’ve come in the past year as well as cementing the integral part I play in the wider team at our company.

FinTech Intel: Where do you see your career going?

Fiona Jones: Always a tough question to answer, especially since I’m not where I imagined I would be one year into my career. I love this sector and industry, and am so passionate about the potential that fintech companies have. I really enjoy creating, curating and publishing content that focuses on the socially beneficially areas of our product, OneID. I also have a keen interest in ethical finance and socially-focused fintech, so perhaps I will hone in on this area of the fintech sector specifically. For the foreseeable future, however, I plan on remaining here at Digital Identity Net where our journey is just beginning. Being a key member of a team as it grows (we’ve tripled in size in the past year!) means I wasn’t the new-kid for long—in the best way possible!

FinTech Intel: How would you describe diversity and inclusion within the fintech sector right now? What are the big challenges and successes? 

Digital Identity Net - Becca Menzler
Becca Menzler
Business manager
Digital Identity Net

Menzler: There are many struggles that the fintech sector faces when it comes to diversity, mostly reflecting what we see generally in working life. There is some evidence of progress in ethnic diversity, although not at management level. However, one that stands out is gender imbalance. With less than a third of the sector being women, it’s so important to us that we go the extra mile to find, attract and retain more females at all levels in the fintech sector.

There is a significant challenge in drawing women into fintech and much of the reason for this is that we see self-affirming assumptions and assertions about tech not being an attractive career path for women, not helped by the fact that most management and leadership positions are held by men. 

That’s why the work that organisations such as Women in Technology and in our own space, Women in Identity, is so important. We also have our own Women in DIN organisation to promote opportunities and support to address gender imbalance across the fintech space. Such organisations have found a voice and are making a difference, albeit slowly. Also, we would encourage employers to use job boards such as Ada’s List and STEM Women that specifically target and encourage women in fintech. These are successful initiatives and deserve our full support. 

FinTech Intel: What are some of the initiatives being carried out at Digital Identity Net?

Menzler: When our current chief executive officer took over in September 2020, we were a company of 12. All white, all male. We have worked hard to discover new ways in which we can find wonderful and diverse people to join our team. There are now 32 of us and we are almost 50/50 in gender and have a range of team members from many backgrounds and ethnicities. We aren’t very well known yet and have to go above and beyond to stand out from the crowd and showcase that Digital Identity Net is a great place to work. This can take time and effort from many members of our team and they all put in their time willingly as this is a topic we are very passionate about, and we don’t compromise or take short cuts.

We have found offering flexible and remote working, building a culture that everyone buys in to, investing in our people, and providing enhanced benefits for all our employees has really made a difference when recruiting. Candidates see our team values come through when they meet us and often comment on our recruitment approach.   

Throughout our hiring process, we use various different methods to ensure there is no bias and gives a fair opportunity to every candidate. We have reached out to many charities that help refugees, under privileged and those from ethnic backgrounds find work. Being a small organisation, we want to make sure we get this right from the very beginning and as we grow, we want to be as inclusive and diverse as we possibly can. We don’t just want to achieve the minimum, we want to be different, stand out and make a real difference.

Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of Digital Identity Net, embedded in our culture and every aspect of our business. We aim to make Digital Identity Net a place where everyone feels empowered and loves where they are and what they do. The pandemic has enabled us to operate fully remotely without a need for a fixed office location. This has enabled us to employ people from right across the UK and gives opportunities to reach a wider pool of people who have struggled to find good jobs in their location. We also work hard on our job adverts to ensure that we portray a want for passionate individuals, even if that means not always taking the most qualified. 

FinTech Intel: What would it mean to win the Diversity and Inclusion Award?

Menzler: It already means so much to us that we have even been shortlisted for this award and our team is extremely proud. To win would be absolutely amazing. It would be such a great honour to be rewarded for all the hard work and passion we have put into creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. As we grow, there will be so much more we can offer and we’re excited to give opportunities to many more individuals. Our people are awesome and we love to celebrate each and every one of them!

SumUp brings Apple Pay to merchants with SumUp Card

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SumUp brings Apple Pay to merchants with SumUp Card

Global payments service provider SumUp is bringing Apple Pay to UK-based customers.

Apple Pay is a safer, more secure and private way to pay that helps SumUp merchants avoid handing their payment card to someone else, touching physical buttons or exchanging cash—and uses the power of the iPhone to protect every transaction.

SumUp merchant card holders simply hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near a payment terminal to make a contactless payment. Every Apple Pay purchase is secure because it is authenticated with Face ID, Touch ID, or device passcode, as well as a one-time unique dynamic security code.

Apple Pay is accepted in grocery stores, pharmacies, taxis, restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores, and many more places. 

SumUp merchant card holders can also use Apple Pay on iPhone, iPad, and Mac to make faster and more convenient purchases in apps or on the web in Safari without having to create accounts or repeatedly type in shipping and billing information.

Apple Pay makes it easier to pay for food and grocery deliveries, online shopping, transportation, and parking, among other things. Apple Pay can also be used to make payments in apps on Apple Watch. 

Security and privacy are at the core of Apple Pay. When SumUp merchants use a SumUp Card with Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers.

Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted, and securely stored in the Secure Element, an industry-standard, certified chip designed to store the payment information safely on the device.

Circle to float on NYSE

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Circle to float on NYSE

Circle, a fintech that provides payments and treasury infrastructure for internet businesses, is combining with Concord Acquisition Corp, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, and floating on the New York Stock Exchange. 

A new Ireland-domiciled holding company will acquire both Concord and Circle and become a publicly traded entity, expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CRCL”.

The transaction, expected to close in Q4 2021, gives Circle an enterprise value of $4.5 billion.

Circle provides internet-native, digital currency-powered, transaction and treasury services that help businesses and financial institutions globally.

It is the principal operator of the dollar digital currency, USD Coin (USDC), which has grown to more than $25 billion in circulation and has supported more than $785 billion in on-chain transactions.

In 2021, USDC in circulation has grown in excess of 3,400%, fuelling a broadening array of use cases for high-trust, low-friction internet-native payments and settlements.

Bob Diamond, chairman of Concord Acquisition Corp and chief executive officer of Atlas Merchant Capital, says: “Circle is the true pioneer of trusted digital currencies, an increasingly critical part of the global financial system. The firm has earned its exceptionally strong reputation building highly innovative blockchain-enabled products and services within the regulatory perimeter. Circle’s world-class leadership team, its track record of delivery, and extraordinary ambition help position the firm as one of the most exciting companies in the transformation of finance.”

Jeremy Allaire, Circle’s co-founder and chief executive officer, comments: “Circle was founded with a mission to transform the global economic system through the power of digital currencies and the open internet. We’ve made huge strides towards realising this vision, and through this strategic transaction and ultimate public debut, we are taking an even bigger step forward, with the capital and relationships needed to build a global-scale internet financial services company that can help businesses everywhere to connect into a more open, inclusive and effective global economic system.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Concord’s executive and investment team, drawing on their decades of operating experience growing financial services businesses around the world.”

Crown Agents Bank launches EMpower Pensions

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Crown Agents Bank launches EMpower Pensions

Crown Agents Bank, the UK-regulated financial service partner of choice for governments, international development organisations, banks and pension administrators, has launched a new pension solution.

EMpower Pensions offers effective, end-to-end pensions management from one easy-to-use interactive platform, including biometric facial authentication, reporting and convenient administration functions.

Users of the Empower Pensions solution will have access to enhanced digital pension services through an intuitive, secure platform. Digital proof of life features will assist pension administrators by verifying that pension payments are being delivered to entitled beneficiaries while mitigating fraud and overpayments.

EMpower Pensions also improves the pensioner’s proof of life checking experience because the process is quick, convenient, and secure. All they need to do is log on to the portal, upload an image of their identification and take a live facial photo selfie—all from the comfort of their own home.

Once this has been completed, the platform applies AI to compare facial biometrics to the photo on the ID document, generating scores for validity and facial similarity. This score provides a confidence level that the two images are of the same person and this is promptly reported to the pension administrator.

When processing pension payroll, administrators can simply instruct payment requirements to the pension portal and Crown Agents Bank will leverage its global network to deliver payments punctually.

Crown Agents Bank’s global banking infrastructure will enable transactions to be tracked in real-time, via the EMpower Pensions portal, providing certainty via reliable reporting capabilities. Furthermore, an intelligent, automated payment management process enables pension administrators to better manage historical and current payments, as well as having the flexibility to upload future dated transactions in advance, making planning and control more efficient.

Colin Digby, head of non-bank financial institutions at Crown Agents Bank, comments: “The introduction of our new pensions platform, EMpower Pensions, offers efficient and secure pensions processing with a much higher level of convenience for pensioners and scheme administrators alike—something that is hard to find in the pensions market, which is dominated by expensive, manual paper-based solutions.”

“The launch of EMpower Pensions marks the latest milestone event in our exciting digital transformation strategy, led by our new CEO Bhairav Trivedi. With EMpower Pensions we are harnessing cutting edge technology, including biometric facial authentication for proof of life services. We are creating more innovative ways of automating financial services to reduce processing costs and time—benefits that we are delighted can be passed on to our pension customers.”

Pine Labs closes lucrative funding round

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Pine Labs closes lucrative funding round

Merchant commerce and consumer payments provider Pine Labs has closed its latest funding round.

The funding round is worth $600 million to the India-headquartered fintech company and brings onboard new investors, including Fidelity Management & Research Company, funds managed by BlackRock, Ishana, Tree Line, and a fund advised by Neuberger Berman Investment Advisers.

IIFL AMC via its Late-Stage Tech Fund and Kotak also participated.

Pine Labs provides a range of customised offerings for in-store and doorstep payments, buy now, pay later, prepaid issuance and online payments to large, mid-market and small retailers.

The company has also invested in the consumer side of the business with the acquisition of Fave in April. More than six million consumers across over 40,000 merchants now have access to the Fave app.

Pine Labs continues to be well-financed and has been EBITDA profitable for several years. The company is backed by Sequoia Capital, Temasek Holdings, Actis, PayPal and Mastercard among other global investors.

B Amrish Rau, chief executive officer at Pine Labs, says: “Over the last year, Pine Labs has made significant progress in its offline to online strategy in India and the direct-to-consumer play in Southeast Asia. Our full-stack approach to payments and merchant commerce has allowed us to grow in-month merchant partnerships by nearly 100% over the last year.”

“We are excited to bring on board a marquee set of new investors in this round and appreciate the confidence they have placed on the Pine Labs business model and our growth momentum.”

Shailendra Singh, managing director ar Sequoia Capital, adds: “Pine Labs has rapidly transformed from a single product company allowing retail acceptance of payments to a broader payments platform.”

“The company now serves hundreds of thousands of merchants across payments acceptance on cards and UPI processing tens of billions of payment volume; the company also has the market leading Pay Later offering with ~$3 billion in annualised Pay Later transactions. Through its acquisitions of QwikCilver and Fave, Pine Labs now has the market leading pre-paid platform in this region as well as the top consumer loyalty product in this market.”

“With leadership across multiple categories, the company is very well positioned to help drive immense value to its merchant partners in India and across other Southeast Asia markets.”

Rapyd to acquire Valitor for $100m

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Rapyd to acquire Valitor for $100m

Payments fintech Rapyd has entered into a definitive agreement with Arion Bank to acquire Valitor, an Icelandic payments solutions company. The deal is worth $100 million and subject to regulatory approval.

Valitor is a well-established payments brand and considered one of Europe’s leaders, providing both in-store and online payments acceptance solutions as well as card issuing to merchants in Iceland, the UK and Ireland, and across Europe.

The acquisition of Valitor will complement Rapyd’s existing payment capabilities throughout Europe, as well as enhance its issuing portfolio.

Following Rapyd’s recent financing round, the company is actively pursuing acquisition opportunities, targeting strong payments companies and enhancing their capabilities by connecting them to the Rapyd Global Payments Network.

With its strong European presence, the acquisition of Valitor will empower customers from any industry to streamline integration of omni-channel payments, expand into new markets, flatten foreign exchange fees, unlocking revenue and growth potential that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.

Arik Shtilman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Rapyd, says: “Businesses are looking beyond their borders to scale up and expand their customer base, and they need the right payment providers that can make it happen quickly. With the acquisition of Valitor, customers across Europe will now have access to a greater and more diverse set of payment offerings, ensuring that more companies can take advantage of any opportunity they wish to pursue.”

“Iceland has long distinguished itself as a cashless nation and an innovation hub, with extraordinary levels of talent and a developed payments ecosystem. We plan to continue to grow and invest in Iceland, making it our European Hub, and will support local merchants while increasing our reach across Europe so that we can provide payment solutions to any business committed to pursuing global success.”

Benedikt Gislason, chief executive officer at Arion Bank, comments: “It has been our long-stated intention to find a new and more appropriate home for Valitor. In Rapyd, we have found exactly that. A highly strategic partner, at the forefront of technological innovation and with complementary strengths to those of Valitor. I would like to thank our Valitor colleagues for their cooperation and wish them best of luck on their new adventures as part of the Rapyd Group.”

Herdís Fjeldsted, chief executive officer at Valitor, adds: “Today’s announcement marks a landmark moment in Valitor’s long history. This is a game-changing transaction for the Icelandic payments market. The Valitor management team is excited about the future prospects and very much look forward to closely working with Arik and the broader Rapyd team on the integration of the two businesses.”

Rapyd’s cloud-based technology allows fast and easy integration of payments and fintech services into any web or mobile application and simplifies the complexity of offering local payment methods while managing diverse compliance and regulatory requirements.

By leveraging Rapyd’s Collect, Disburse, Wallet, and Issuing capabilities, Valitor businesses and merchants can expand into a broad set of new use cases and services and quickly enter new markets thanks to a ready-made payments infrastructure that fits their needs.

US insurtech Player’s Health appoints industry heavyweight to boost insurance division

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US insurtech Player’s Health appoints industry heavyweight to boost insurance division
Naveen Anand

Player’s Health, a data-driven insurance and risk management provider that serves the sport and fitness markets, has appointed Naveen Anand as its new president of insurance.

Anand has more than 30 years of experience in the North American property and casualty insurance market, with leadership roles at Chubb, CNA, Torus, and Hallmark Financial Services. He will be in charge of insurance strategy and growth for Player’s Health, an insurtech startup. He will also join its board of directors. 

Player’s Health uses cutting-edge technology, unique data insights, and risk management, along with a comprehensive suite of insurance products, to offer protection to amateur athletes, coaches, staff, and volunteers and the organisations that run sports bodies.

While currently focused on the US and Canadian markets, Player’s Health will develop into a global insurance and risk management provider for sports.

“The addition of Naveen to our team is invaluable,” said Tyrre Burks, founder and chief executive officer at Player’s Health. “Naveen is a well-known insurance leader who brings a wealth of knowledge and relationships to the team. His leadership will help us to capitalise on the dramatic user growth Player’s Health has seen over the last year.”

“The experience he brings leading strategy and growth for top commercial insurers is essential to the company at this pivotal point in our growth, and will further our mission of providing best-in-class products and services to the amateur sports athletes and organisations.” 

Anand was most recently the president and chief executive officer of Hallmark Financial Services from 2014 to 2021.

Prior to Hallmark, Anand served as the chief executive officer of the Americas and global chief operating officer of Torus Insurance Holdings. He also served as president and chief underwriting officer of CNA’s commercial insurance division in his time there from 2002 to 2009.

Founded in 2016, Player’s Health has seen phenomenal growth during the past year as it expanded across the US. In 2020, the company grew from supporting 400 sports organisations to more than 2,500, and has continued that growth trajectory in 2021, now serving more than 18 million athletes, parents, and coaches.

Player’s Health utilises proprietary risk management software and develops partnerships with sports management platforms. The insurtech tracks protocol evidence and provides injury management insights at a level not previously available in amateur sports. It supports the entire insurance value chain from risk management, distribution, underwriting, and claims.

The company is backed by insurtech venture capital firm Eos Venture Partners, RPM Ventures, Greenlight Re, as well as venture firms focused on the sports and insurance markets.

General Partner of Eos Venture Partners, Jonathan Kalman, says: “Player’s Health is solving a critical need in the sports and fitness market. Naveen has a fantastic pedigree and a history of building great insurance organizations and we are confident he can build a world class insurer in partnership with Tyrre at Player’s Health.”

Billhop appoints CCO and COO

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Billhop appoints CCO and COO
Tashi Gauffin and Niklas Bothén

Swedish payment platform provider Billhop has appointed two new hires to its executive management team.

Tashi Gauffin joins as chief commercial officer and Niklas Bothén as chief operations officer.

Collectively, Gauffin and Bothén have almost 30 years of experience, most predominantly within the fintech sector, having occupied a number of senior positions at some of the most reputable fintechs to have emerged out of Sweden over the past decade, including Tink and Bambora.

Gauffin spent almost five years at Europe’s most robust open banking platform, Tink.

As part of the management team, he was the driving force behind the strategy and execution in transforming Tink from a Swedish B2C mobile application to a Pan-European B2B platform. 

During his time at Tink, the company grew from 20 to 370 people, and is now covering 18 markets with some of Europe’s most prominent banks and fintechs as customers.

For his part, Bothén brings with him an acute understanding of the payments industry, having played an integral part in developing and executing a go-to-market strategy for Bambora, the leading developer of card acquiring and payment software for online payments, where he worked as its head of commerce development for six years. 

Gauffin, who will be responsible for commercial strategy and development at Billhop, while overseeing all revenue generating functions, comments: “I’ve been really impressed with how much Billhop has grown over the past few years, and I’m really excited to be joining such an ambitious company that is revolutionising the way businesses operate. I look forward to the journey ahead and to further help expand the company’s market footprint and establish Billhop as the next big fintech to come out of Sweden.”

Bothén will be responsible for optimising operational capabilities, employing strategies to maximise customer satisfaction, and managing product initiatives. He comments: “With my background in the commercial payments industry, I have witnessed first-hand the significant cash flow problems experienced by SMEs as a result of the low card acceptance issue within the B2B space.”

“Billhop was created as a direct solution to this widespread problem, so the values and the mission of the company are something that really resonate with me. It’s nothing but a privilege to be joining a company that is providing such a critical technology and solving such an important business need.”

Sebastian Andreescu, chief executive officer and co-founder of Billhop, comments: “What Tashi and Niklas bring—beyond a proven track record of successfully scaling fintechs—is a really diverse combination of skills which will be instrumental in consolidating Billhop’s footprint as the leader in B2B payment solutions across Europe.”

Trade Ledger webinar to tackle data and bias in business lending decision making

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Trade Ledger webinar to tackle data and bias in business lending decision making

Global technology provider Trade Ledger is hosting a live webinar on data and bias in decision making within business lending on 21 July.

Follow this link to sign up for the 45-minute webinar, which begins at 10am BST on 21 July: https://hubs.ly/H0R71K00.

Martin McCann, co-founder and chief executive officer of Trade Ledger, a global technology provider for the commercial banking and financial services sectors, will talk with Tobias Baer, an independent senior adviser to financial institutions and fintechs and a scholar cooperating with the University of Cambridge.

They will discuss what stops business lenders from making the right decisions, and whether there is bias in bankers’ minds or in the decision algorithms they use.

By the end of the discussion, attendees will walk away with a clear understanding of:

  • What types of data are most useful when making lending decisions
  • The £5.4 trillion SME lending missed opportunity and how data-driven lending can overcome it
  • What algorithmic bias is and how to avoid it
  • What the business lender of the future will look like

Deutsche Börse acquires majority stake in Crypto Finance

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Deutsche Börse acquires majority stake in Crypto Finance

Deutsche Börse Group has acquired a majority stake in Crypto Finance, a provider of trading, storage, and investment in digital assets to institutional and professional clients.

Through the acquisition, Deutsche Börse further extends its offering for digital assets by providing a direct entry point for investments, including post-trade services such as custody.

Crypto Finance, a fully licensed securities firm, offers 24/7 trading and brokerage of more than 200 digital assets in combination with a highly secure in-house custody solution.

With connectivity to a multitude of digital asset venues worldwide, Crypto Finance bridges the problem of liquidity fragmentation in the market. Professional and institutional clients can directly invest in digital assets, without having to set-up their own infrastructure and operational frameworks.

Furthermore, Crypto Finance enables clients to store a wide range of digital assets securely with custody solutions, as well as offering tokenisation and blockchain infrastructure services.

An asset management unit under FINMA (Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority) regulation also enables investors access to the digital asset class via an active and rule-based alternative investment fund offering.

As part of Deutsche Börse Group, Crypto Finance will be able to further scale the business and expand the range of digital asset services.

Deutsche Börse also intends to make Crypto Finance’s offering easily accessible for participants via its established platforms. The goal is to establish a neutral, transparent, and highly scalable digital asset ecosystem under European regulation.

Thomas Book, executive board member for trading and clearing at Deutsche Börse, says: “Digital assets will transform the financial industry. There is increasing demand from established financial institutions who are looking to become active in this new asset class and want a trusted partner.”

“We are excited that Crypto Finance is joining the group. The team is an ideal strategic fit and will help us tremendously on our way to building a trusted and fully regulated digital asset ecosystem for institutional investors in Europe. Crypto Finance perfectly complements our recent offerings like 360X, the innovative DLT-based platform for serial marketplace creation, and our leading, centrally-cleared crypto ETNs.”

Jan Brzezek, chief executive officer and founder of Crypto Finance, comments: “Since the beginning, our goal was to bridge the old and new worlds. This is why we are excited to team up with a neutral partner like Deutsche Börse, who brings trust, reputation, and expertise in traditional financial market infrastructure. In combination with our proven expertise in crypto assets and the underlying technologies, we can now achieve our goals much faster.”

“Together, we will enable thousands of financial institutions and professional investors in Europe to instantly enter this new asset class in a way they are familiar with.”

With its investment in a “moderate three-digit CHF million range”, Deutsche Börse will hold a two-thirds majority in the 2017-founded fintech that has received multiple awards.

The remaining shares stay with existing investors, including Brzezek, who will continue to lead and manage the business.

The parties expect to close the transaction in Q4 2021, following regulatory approvals. Further terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Trade Ledger underpins ambitious expansion plans with new senior appointments

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Trade Ledger underpins ambitious expansion plans with new senior appointments
Jarrad Hubble and Rikard af Ekenstam

Trade Ledger, the UK-based global technology provider for the commercial banking and financial services sectors, has announced three senior appointments, further underpinning its ambitious expansion plans. Already in 2021, the company has secured major customer wins and further funding.

Jarrad Hubble joins in a new role of chief revenue officer for Trade Ledger’s global operations. Rikard af Ekenstam has been appointed as managing director for Europe, also a new role for the fast-growing business.

A third new role has been created to underpin Trade Ledger’s growth ambitions in the Asia Pacific and China: Alan Beattie has been appointed as executive director for the region. 

Hubble’s focus is on building the global sales and business development functions at Trade Ledger. He brings a wealth of both traditional financial services and fintech experience.

Most recently managing director at NatWest Markets, he oversaw the £250 million international payments business, developing solutions for many of the world’s largest ecommerce marketplaces.

Previous to that, Hubble was head of the commercial function at Currencies Direct, where he grew business-to-business services from infancy and expanded the company across the globe.

His strength lies in delivering global expansion of digital businesses, across both the fintech and Tier 1 banking sectors. This experience, drive and culture makes him ideal to play a key role in Trade Ledger’s next stages of growth, reporting directly to co-founder and chief executive officer, Martin McCann.

Ekenstam’s experience, encompassing both the banking and research arenas, adds another important facet to the Trade Ledger executive team, with a particular focus on growing the company’s footprint across Europe.

Prior to joining Trade Ledger, Ekenstam was managing director at OakNorth, the UK-based bank and tech company backed by GIC and SoftBank, focusing on business development and corporate development.

Before that, he held leadership positions within commercial and investment banking, including head of the Nordic region for Mizuho Bank, head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Moody’s Analytics Knowledge Services, and head of new markets for ABN AMRO Bank.

Supporting Trade Ledger’s global ambitions, Beattie brings a wealth of international financial services experience, underpinned by strong strategic thinking.

He spent 25-plus years with HSBC in a variety of senior executive roles, including as global chief executive officer of private wealth solutions, regional head of commercial banking in Latin America, and deputy chief executive officer for Europe.

Beattie also has extensive experience in venture capital and early-stage growth businesses.

McCann, co-founder and chief executive officer of Trade Ledger, says: “The appointment of Jarrad, Rikard and Alan into these new positions in our executive team gives us the strength and depth to drive our international expansion as well as, importantly, improving access to finance for SMEs and mid-market corporates globally.”  

“Jarrad will work closely with me on continuing to strengthen Trade Ledger’s position as a trusted global lending technology brand. Rikard´s extensive experience in banking and analytics research coupled with long established relationships with financial institutions will help us build our presence throughout Europe. And Alan’s wealth of experience in financial services will be valuable in growing our footprint globally.”

Trade Ledger’s platform has a lending-as-a-service capability, supporting both secured and unsecured, to unlock all types of working capital and business lending products for businesses that otherwise find access to finance difficult.

Wefox appoints Dr David Stachon to COO role

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Wefox appoints Dr David Stachon to COO role

Wefox, the Germany-based digital insurance company, has appointed the former chief executive officer of Cosmos Direkt, Dr David Stachon, as its new chief operating officer.

Stachon takes up his position on 1 July and will focus on driving the company’s global growth strategy.

The move comes after wefox recently announced its record Series C investment round of $650 million, which gave the company a post-money valuation of $3 billion.

Julian Teicke, chief executive officer and founder of wefox, says: “When we announced our record-breaking Series C earlier this month, we were very clear about our intentions. We will invest in technology and growing our global footprint. Wefox will be the number one personal insurer within a decade.”

“David’s appointment demonstrates our commitment to achieving these goals. I am confident that with his experience and expertise in insurance and digital technology, he will deliver on our objectives.”

Stachon says: “I am delighted to be joining wefox at such an exciting time and just off the back of a huge Series C investment round. Wefox is already disrupting the industry and is clearly reinventing insurance. Insurance was created to be a force for good.  It was all about people taking care of people.”

“At wefox, that’s what insurance is once again. Using technology we make insurance about preventing risk and keeping people safe. I am determined that we will do more of that for more people around the world.”

Chip launches ChipX subscription plan

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Chip launches ChipX subscription plan

Chip, provider of the savings and investments platform, has launched ChipX, the new membership plan that aims to bring seamless access to products for those who are serious about trying to earn returns.

ChipX offers access to 10 different funds, including actively managed, ethical and thematic funds, as well as a tax-efficient Stocks & Shares ISA.

The membership also unlocks exclusive early access to new features and funds, as well as a members-only ChipX icon. The company plans on introducing more investment funds to the platform, adding more and more value to ChipX.

The launch of the membership plan follows the release of the Chip Investment Platform in May, which saw users show a particular appetite for the higher risk funds, with 57% of the deposits currently held in the Adventurous fund.

The goal of ChipX is to give users even more tools to effortlessly take their savings to the next level and to try to earn returns. Those on the new membership plan will have access to a wide range of investment funds from the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock.

ChipX is available for a £3 subscription every 28 days and offers access to the funds and features a competitive 0.25% per annum platform fee.

Simon Rabin, chief executive officer of Chip, comments: “With ChipX, we wanted to offer our users a way to try to build wealth without guessing, picking, scrolling, or trading. To show that you don’t need to be a millionaire to get the millionaire experience. It’s been a long time in the making and I’m delighted to say that it’s finally here. ChipX is our hotly-anticipated product for people who are serious about trying to earn returns.”

“Cash savings are dead, interest rates are down, and who actually knows what is going on with bitcoin. Which is why we’re bringing our users a range of investment funds from BlackRock, so that they can put their money to work without the hassle of checking the stock market every day. We set out to build the simplest-to-use investment platform in the world in order to get everyone investing, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve already done a lot to make this a reality.”

“We have set ourselves a hefty goal of democratising savings and investments, and while there’s still a long way to go, I believe that milestone launches like ChipX are what propels us along the right trajectory and gets us ever closer to that goal.”

Atom Finance raises $28m in SoftBank-led series B

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Atom Finance raises $28m in SoftBank-led series B

Atom Finance, the provider of a consumer software platform delivering access to institutional-quality investment resources, has completed a $28 million series B funding round led by the SoftBank Latin America Fund, with participation from existing investors General Catalyst and Base Partners.

The funding comes on the heels of the fintech’s recently announced partnership with Banco Inter.

Since Atom’s solution launched in 2019, the company has raised nearly $50 million from premier venture capital firms and angel investors.

Atom will channel the new funding to fuel premium subscriber growth, proliferate partnerships and integrations with financial institutions, open an office in Miami, and continue to build out a best-in-class team across all parts of the company, including product, engineering, growth and business development.

Eric Shoykhet, founder and chief executive officer of Atom, says: “We created Atom to provide unparalleled access to institutional investing resources and tools, filling the white space between overpriced, clunky institutional platforms and antiquated websites tailored to retail investors. Our partnership with SoftBank and new capital will allow us to reach more investors, continue to enhance the experience we provide to users and accelerate our B2B product integration efforts with financial institutions.”

The Atom software solution was built by investment professionals for individuals to modernise their investment experience, providing access to quality resources at an unmatched price.

Retail investor interest is accelerating at a record pace both in the U.S. and globally, driving increased consumer expectations for financial market intelligence. This desire for top-tier quality information is seen in the tremendous demand for Atom’s platform—premium tier subscribers have increased more than 250% since the start of 2021.

Simultaneously, the company is experiencing heightened interest for its white-labelled product integration both from financial institutions looking to up-level their existing investment products, as well as new entrants seeking to launch differentiated self-directed investing experiences.

Shu Nyatta, managing partner at SoftBank Latin America Fund Advisers Corp and head of SoftBank’s Miami office, says: “Atom is disrupting the investment research market through the implementation of best-in-class technology, software and sector expertise.”

“SoftBank is excited to partner with Atom as they pioneer a modernised investment experience for both investors on its platform and through B2B product integrations with financial institutions worldwide.”

The company, based in New York, plans to open an office in Miami in response to its growing footprint both in the US and abroad. Shoykhet will anchor the founding contingent of Atom employees based in Miami.

Francis Suarez, mayor of Miami, comments: “It’s very exciting to see a high-growth fintech company like Atom choose the City of Miami to accelerate the evolution of the company. They understand the value and scale that come with cultural and economic diversity, and there isn’t a city in this country better positioned for that than Miami.”

Visa to acquire European open banking solution provider Tink

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Visa to acquire European open banking solution provider Tink
Tink co-founders Daniel Kjellén and Fredrik Hedberg

Visa has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Tink, the provider of open banking solutions that enables financial institutions, fintechs and merchants to build tailored financial management tools, products and services for European consumers and businesses based on their financial data.

Visa will pay €1.8 billion, inclusive of cash and retention incentives, to acquire Tink.

Through a single API, Tink allows its customers to access aggregated financial data, use smart financial services such as risk insights and account verification, and build personal finance management tools.

Tink is integrated with more than 3,400 banks and financial institutions, reaching millions of bank customers across Europe. Tink will retain its brand and current management team, and its headquarters will remain in Stockholm, Sweden.

The combination of Visa’s proven infrastructure and sustained investment in resilience, cyber security and fraud prevention with Tink’s APIs, technology and customer relationships is expected to help accelerate the adoption of open banking in Europe by ensuring a secure, reliable platform for innovation.

As a result, consumers can better control their financial experiences, including managing their money, financial data and financial goals. At the same time, businesses large and small will have a greater and more customised range of tools to operate digitally and securely, whether reconciling bank statements and accounts or enabling alternative financing.

Al Kelly, chief executive officer and chairman of Visa, says: “Visa is committed to doing all we can to foster innovation and empower consumers in support of Europe’s open banking goals. By bringing together Visa’s network of networks and Tink’s open banking capabilities we will deliver increased value to European consumers and businesses with tools to make their financial lives more simple, reliable and secure.”

Daniel Kjellén, chief executive officer and co-founder of Tink, says: “For the past ten years we have worked relentlessly to build Tink into a leading open banking platform in Europe, and we are incredibly proud of what the whole team at Tink has created together. We have built something incredible and at the same time we have only scratched the surface.”

“Joining Visa, we will be able to move faster and reach further than ever before. Visa is the perfect partner for the next stage of Tink’s journey, and we are incredibly excited about what this will bring to our employees, customers and for the future of financial services.”

Charlotte Hogg, chief executive officer of Visa Europe, adds: “This acquisition is a sign of our commitment to Europe. In Tink, we have found a strong partner with whom we can accelerate innovation in open banking for the benefit of our collective clients and the citizens of the UK and the EU, while investing in high-skill tech jobs on the continent.”

Blockchain company Securitize raises $48m in series B round

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Blockchain company Securitize raises $48m in series B round

Securitize has raised $48 million from new and existing investors during an oversubscribed series B funding round.

The series B funding round comes ahead of the anticipated launch of Securitize Markets, a marketplace designed for the trading of digital asset securities, providing a path to liquidity for the private capital markets.

The series B round was co-led by leaders of venture capital and asset management, including Securitize’s largest investor, Blockchain Capital, and investment funds managed by Morgan Stanley Tactical Value.

They were joined by new investors including Ava Labs, IDC Ventures, Migration Capital, NTT Data and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

The round also included strong interest from existing investors wishing to increase their investments in Securitize, with Blockchain Ventures, Borderless Capital, Global Brain, Mouro Capital, Ripio, Ripple and SPiCE VC participating.

Participants in the series B round, as well as previous and existing Securitize investors, will receive their shares in the form of digital asset securities issued by the blockchain company’s platform.

These investors will then join the community of more than 300,000 verified investors on Securitize’s platform who have, in just four years, supported over 150 companies.

Building on the successful capital raise, Securitize will add Pedro Teixeira, co-head of Morgan Stanley Tactical Value, to its board, where he will join Securitize co-founder and chief executive officer Carlos Domingo and co-founder and president Jamie Finn, as well as SPiCE VC co-founder and managing partner Tal Elyashiv, and Blockchain Capital co-founder and managing partner Brad Stephens.

Securitize is a leader in digital asset securities, bringing together businesses seeking to raise capital with individuals and institutions seeking to invest in the private capital markets.

To bring investors and opportunities together, Securitize has developed a fully-digital, regulatory compliant, end-to-end platform for issuing digital asset securities, managing them and facilitating their trading to provide liquidity.

The successful series B fundraising builds on Securitize’s recent launch of an asset management subsidiary, Securitize Capital, and its two inaugural cryptocurrency yield funds.

The round also follows Securitize enabling digital wallet company Exodus to raise a record $75 million in series A funding, and a build-out of new executive hires across sales, marketing, operations, and legal/compliance.

Domingo says: “Securitize developed incredible partners during our series A round last year, both in venture capital and at major European and Japanese financial institutions. That they have been joined in our series B by a major US investment bank and the largest trust bank in Japan, as well as additional top VCs, demonstrates that confidence in the adoption of digital asset securities is increasingly mainstream.”

Stephens says: “Blockchain Capital has been a believer in digital asset securities ever since we issued one of the first security tokens in 2017 and Securitize, who we were an early investor in, has emerged as the unquestioned leader in this growing space.”

“Blockchain Capital is proud to build upon our early investment in Securitize and to partner with Morgan Stanley and other leaders who understand the central role Securitize will play in the future of alternative assets and digital asset securities.”

Teixeira comments: “Our first investment in the blockchain industry is the leading digital asset securities firm, Securitize. Securitize is well-recognised for pioneering the securitisation of digital asset securities on the blockchain, and for its fully-compliant and fully-digital end-to-end solution that enables private companies to raise capital, and for investors to find a path to liquidity.”

“We make long-term investments in businesses and asset classes that are ahead of the curve. Our investment in Securitize is a sign that we believe in the growth and adoption of digital asset securities.”

Kazuteru Wakao, executive officer and general manager of the wholesale business planning department at Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, adds: “On top of the security token issuance we announced in March, our investment in Securitize further strengthens our partnership with one of the most commercially-used and technologically-advanced digital asset security solutions.”

“A stronger relationship with Securitize positions Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank well to lead the digitisation of financial services in Japan and beyond, as well as to bring cutting-edge, highly value-added products and services to our customers.”

Billhop and ICS partner to improve working capital for SMEs in the Netherlands

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Billhop and ICS partner to improve working capital for SMEs in the Netherlands

Billhop, the Swedish payment platform provider, has partnered with International Card Services (ICS), the largest credit card provider in the Netherlands, to help Dutch businesses improve their cash flow and close liquidity gaps.

As part of the agreement, ICS commercial cardholders will have access to Billhop’s service at a preferential rate and will be able to pay suppliers using any card, regardless of whether the supplier accepts card payments.

Through Billhop, businesses can pay their suppliers instantaneously without needing to on-board the end beneficiary, while taking advantage of the interest-free payment period offered by card issuers. This allows businesses to extend their payment terms, significantly strengthen their liquidity cushion and ensure a more efficient distribution of their cash flow.

Billhop currently serves more than 50,000 small and medium-sized businesses, sole traders and large corporations across Europe, having already expanded to key markets including the UK, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands.

Over the past year, a rising number of businesses have been using Billhop in order to benefit from the increased working capital flexibility their credit cards offer, and to find an alternative way to finance their growth and dilute the volatility in their cash resources. In particular, the total transactions processed via Billhop, across all of its customer segments, exceeded €270 million in 2020. 

Tashi Gauffin, chief commercial officer of Billhop, says: “We are really excited to partner with the largest credit card issuer of the Netherlands. ICS has a first-class organisation and product portfolio and we look forward to servicing ICS’s customers with our working capital management tools.”

Glenn MacDonald, chief commercial officer at ICS, says: “Businesses are increasingly turning to cards as their payment method of choice, namely for the convenience and simplicity cards offer. However, low card acceptance within the B2B space has for long been the biggest obstacle to increasing the adoption of commercial credit cards. We’re very happy to now be able to help our cardholders by opening up our credit cards for all types of supplier invoices, as well as providing them with a very practical cash flow management tool.”

Mollie raises $800 million in series C funding round

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Mollie raises $800 million in series C funding round

Mollie, a growing payment service provider in Europe, has closed an $800 million series C funding round.

The series C round takes the fintech’s total funding raised to more than $940 million. This round was led by funds managed by Blackstone Growth (BXG), Blackstone’s growth equity investing business, and included EQT Growth, General Atlantic, HMI Capital and Alkeon Capital.

TCV, which led the series B round in September 2020, also participated.

The new funding will fuel Mollie’s international expansion, team scaling and continued investment in product and engineering, helping the fintech to realise its vision of becoming a major payment service provider.

Launched in 2004, Mollie is among the largest payment service providers in Europe. Today, it serves more than 120,000 monthly active merchants of all sizes across the continent.

In 2020, Mollie processed more than €10 billion in transactions and is on track to handle more than €20 billion during 2021.

Mollie’s products, simple and transparent pricing and excellent customer service, alongside its no lock-in contracts, have driven rapid growth both during the pandemic and the months following relaxation of lockdown restrictions across Europe. Mollie counts Deliveroo, Gymshark, Wickey and Otrium as customers.

The series C round values Mollie at $6.5 billion, which, based on CBInsights data, suggests it is now one of the top five most valuable privately held fintechs in Europe, and one of the top 20 in the world.

Shane Happach, chief executive officer at Mollie, says: “There’s something very special about Mollie. In the three months since I joined the team we’ve achieved so much: making preparations for a full launch in the UK, driving 600% growth in Germany and hiring an impressive set of team members and executives.”

“Over the past months, Mollie has been receiving a remarkable amount of interest from some of the world’s foremost fintech investors. In bringing on BXG, we believe we have an investor who can help Mollie in our next phase of growth. The involvement of our new group of investors demonstrates confidence in Mollie’s growth, strategy and product set.”

Paul Morrissey, who leads European investing for Blackstone Growth, says: “Mollie is one of Europe’s most exciting high-growth businesses and is at the forefront of enabling next-generation payments for online SMEs across Europe. We are excited to partner with Mollie’s fantastic team and look forward to leveraging Blackstone’s capital, expertise and global network to unlock the company’s next phase of growth. This investment underlines Blackstone’s confidence in Europe as a place for high-growth companies to thrive.”

Today, Mollie has around 480 employees and plans to hire 300 new team members in the next six-to-nine months.

Mollie is evaluating additional countries for expansion both within Europe and beyond. The fintech also plans to continue investing in its technology platform and expanding its product portfolio beyond payments into financial services for small- and medium-sized enterprises, following the arrival of new chief product officer, Rogier Schoute.

JPMorgan Chase to acquire UK wealthtech Nutmeg

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JPMorgan Chase to acquire UK wealthtech Nutmeg
Neil Alexander, chief executive officer at Nutmeg

JPMorgan Chase has struck a deal to buy UK-based digital wealth management provider Nutmeg.

Reports value the transaction at £700 million. The acquisition comes as JPMorgan Chase eyes a move into the UK retail banking market.

With more than 140,000 clients and over £3.5 billion of assets under management, Nutmeg will form the basis of the JPMorgan Chase’s retail digital wealth management offering internationally over the long term, complementing the launch of Chase as a digital bank in the UK later this year.

Nutmeg’s current products and services will be unaffected and JPMorgan Chase and the wealthtech company will work closely on further developing its offering.

Neil Alexander, chief executive officer at Nutmeg, says: “It is thanks to the trust and support of our clients over the past decade and the continuous hard work of all Nutmeg staff past and present, that Nutmeg has grown to be the successful business that it is today.”

“I know I speak on behalf of the entire Nutmeg team when I say that to manage the investments of our clients and help them to achieve their financial goals is a privilege and an honour—one which we look forward to continuing for decades to come.”

Commenting on the acquisition, Sanoke Viswanathan, chief executive officer of international consumer at JPMorgan Chase, says: “We are building Chase in the UK from scratch using the very latest technology and putting the customer’s experience at the heart of our offering, principles that Nutmeg shares with us. We look forward to positioning their award-winning products alongside our own and continuing to support their innovative work in retail wealth management.”

Insurtech Akur8 raises $30m in series B funding

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Insurtech Akur8 raises $30m in series B funding

Akur8, the insurtech automating insurance pricing with its proprietary Transparent AI, has closed a series B funding round worth $30 million, bringing its total funding to $42 million.

The investment round closed less than two years after the property and casualty and health insurance pricing software-as-a-service solution provider first went to market, and just 15 months after its series A led by BlackFin Capital Partners and MTech Capital. Both are reinvesting in this round.

Founded in 2018, Akur8’s vision is to transform insurance pricing with Transparent AI, to empower actuaries and pricing teams to make better decisions, faster.

The cloud-based solution automates the generation of pricing models while allowing actuaries to retain complete control over the process. This is done by combining the speed and performance of machine learning with the absolute transparency demanded in the highly regulated use case of insurance rate making.

Akur8 enables higher speed-to-accuracy and significantly accelerates the pricing time to market, while providing insurers with a highly robust and secure pricing process.

In less than two years, Akur8 has acquired more than 30 customers across 10 countries, including global leaders AXA, Generali and Munich Re, specialty insurers Canopius and Tokio Marine Kiln, and insurtechs Wakam and wefox, as well as mutualistic player Matmut. The Akur8 solution is used daily by 350 users within insurers’ pricing teams, to compute their pricing models across property and casualty, personal and commercial lines, and health.

Akur8’s client footprint spans across a dozen countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas. This reflects the insurtech’s own international DNA that can be seen across its offices in Paris, London and New York, where 20 nationalities are represented within its diverse team of 50 employees. 

This latest funding round will accelerate Akur8’s international expansion, with a particular emphasis on furthering its US footprint as the largest insurance market in the world, and establishing a presence in Asia Pacific and China in 2022.

The funding round will also be used to accelerate Akur8’s product development pipeline to cover the full pricing suite, develop US-tailored features and create more value-added features to enhance existing modules.

Samuel Falmagne, co-founder and chief executive officer of Akur8, comments: “We are happy to announce the closing of our series B funding round and are grateful for the support we have seen from our investors. This latest milestone will enable us to accelerate the transformation of insurance pricing even further, fuel our international expansion in the US and APAC, and equip P&C and health carriers with a state-of-the-art, integrated pricing solution that we have been building and refining tirelessly.”

Guillaume Beraud-Sudreau, co-founder and chief actuary at Akur8, adds: “We are humbled by the trust that our clients and investors have placed in Akur8. Building the future of insurance pricing powered by Transparent AI has been our goal since the first day of R&D. Now this vision has become reality and we can’t wait to accelerate our growth to become the global reference in insurance pricing.”

Julien Creuzé, partner at BlackFin Capital Partners, says: “The BlackFin team is thrilled to see Akur8 continue to spread its wings and deploy its next generation pricing platform across insurance carriers worldwide. We have built a great relationship with the Akur8 management team and it’s a pleasure to welcome new investors and continue this journey with them.”

American Express launches business checking account through Kabbage

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American Express launches business checking account through Kabbage

American Express has launched its first business checking account, under the umbrella of 2020 fintech acquisition Kabbage.

With an annual percentage yield (APY) of 1.1% on balances up to $100,000, Kabbage Checking is designed to help small businesses grow, with no monthly maintenance fees, no set-up fees and convenient on-the-go features—all backed by American Express.

Now available to eligible US small businesses, Kabbage Checking marks the first of several new digital cash flow management solutions from American Express.

American Express has also begun offering Kabbage Funding to millions of existing customers with plans to make it more broadly available later this year.

Kabbage Funding offers small businesses the opportunity to apply for flexible lines of credit between $1,000 and $150,000.

Together, these products are a part of an integrated platform from Kabbage, combining data-driven products, including payment processing and business insights, to help US small businesses manage their cash flow.

Gina Taylor Cotter, senior vice president of strategy and business operations at Kabbage, comments: “Small businesses should not have to sacrifice the features they expect from a bank in order to experience the benefits of an affordable business checking account.”

“Kabbage Checking is built to give small businesses the flexibility of mobile banking—from in-app account management to mobile check deposits—with the convenience of a traditional bank—including in-person cash deposits, free ATM access, and a compelling APY to directly support our customers’ growth.”

Small business owners can apply online for a Kabbage Checking account in minutes, regardless of their business’s age or revenue. Signing up is fast and there are no minimum balance requirements. Once onboarded, customers can access the following features:

  • Free in-network ATMs: Withdraw funds at over 19,000 ATMs
  • Mobile check deposits: Deposit eligible checks using the Kabbage app
  • Kabbage debit card: Access ATMs, deposit cash and add to digital wallets
  • Reserves: Organize your money for specific savings goals or categories
  • Bill pay: Set up recurring payments to vendors
  • Customised checks: Pay vendors, cover payroll and more
  • In-person cash deposits: Deposit funds at 90,000 participating retailers nationwide that may have extended operating hours versus many bank branches

Kabbage Checking and Kabbage’s integrated solutions are part of American Express’s expansion beyond its card business to deepen its relationships with US small businesses.

Paired with its wider set of small-business products across the global commercial services group, American Express aims to be a digital one-stop shop to help manage small businesses’ cash flow.

Mexico-based Clip attracts $250 million from SoftBank and others

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Mexico-based Clip attracts $250 million from SoftBank and others

Clip, the digital payments and commerce platform provider in Mexico, has received a US$250 million capital investment led by the SoftBank Latin America Fund and Viking Global Investors. 

The investment is among the largest ever for a payments provider in Mexico and establishes Clip as the country’s first payments Unicorn with a valuation approaching US$2 billion.

Clip pioneered simple and easy access to digital payments and the democratisation of financial services in Mexico, with a focus on delivering superior client experiences and customer service.

The fintech empowers businesses to access a growing range of financial and commerce-enabling solutions through its proprietary technology platform, unique ecosystem of distribution partners and channels, and a convenient engagement model that is open to everyone who wants to participate in the digital economy, with the ability to onboard and accept all available payment methods in a few minutes.

Adolfo Babatz, chief executive officer and founder of Clip, says: “We are very proud to partner with two world-class investors such as SoftBank and Viking and achieve such an important milestone for a Mexican company. Looking ahead, the resources will enable us to continue to grow aggressively and continue building Mexico’s operating platform for commerce, fulfilling our vision to have Clip in every business in Mexico.”

Marcelo Claure, chief executive officer of SoftBank Group International and chief operating officer of SoftBank Group Corp, comments: “Clip is the exact type of disruptive company SoftBank looks to invest in. Led by an amazing management team, Clip is using technology and AI to disrupt the financial services industry by providing essential digital solutions to merchants and small business owners in Mexico, an economy that stands to benefit greatly from digital payments. We are proud to have Clip in the SoftBank ecosystem.”

Clip’s list of investors also includes General Atlantic, Ribbit Capital, Goldman Sachs, Dalus Capital, Banorte and Amex Ventures. The fintech, which was founded in 2012 with five employees, now employs 600 across Mexico, the US and Argentina.

Shu Nyatta, managing partner of SoftBank Latin America Fund, says: “Clip was the SoftBank Latin America Fund’s first investment, and we have been growing together in the region since then. We remain aligned on our optimism about the potential of technology and entrepreneurship, and equally excited for the opportunity to deepen our partnership.”

Martin Escobari, co-president and head of Latin America at General Atlantic, adds: “Clip has established itself as a disruptor in Mexico’s digital economy, leveraging new technologies to drive financial inclusion. Since initially investing in 2016, we have partnered with Adolfo and the Clip team to support the rapid, strategic growth of the business. Clip has a unique culture and a strong track record of performance, and we look forward to the company’s continued momentum in democratising payments.”

Standard Chartered partners with Franklin Templeton to launch Autumn

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Standard Chartered partners with Franklin Templeton to launch Autumn

SC Ventures, the innovation and ventures unit of Standard Chartered, and asset management firm Franklin Templeton have partnered up to launch Autumn, a wealth, health and lifestyle solution, in Singapore.

Plans are underway to roll this open platform out progressively in Hong Kong and other markets in Asia.

An independent digital solution incubated in and backed by SC Ventures, Autumn empowers consumers interested in achieving their financial goals to plan and manage their financial and physical wellbeing by providing best-in-class tools, products, and services across all aspects of wealth, health and lifestyle. Autumn prepares users to be future fit in finance, health and wellness, regardless of their life stage.

Autumn’s mobile application helps users to achieve financial clarity by combining their banking, investment, insurance, and healthcare data into a single dashboard. Users can plan for their financial future using personalised aspirations and goals, scenario analyses and portfolio stress testing before executing their customised plan by transacting across multiple product providers and asset classes.

With this strategic partnership, Franklin Templeton will be an asset management partner of Autumn. The Autumn solution will provide users with access to curated financial literacy content from the Franklin Templeton Academy and investment insights from Franklin Templeton’s Investment Institute, harnessing the firm’s global investment expertise and extensive in-house research capabilities.

Autumn users may choose to receive insights on their model portfolio based on their risk profile and financial data. The implementation of the Franklin Templeton Academy and investment insights will take place in the coming months.

In addition to managing their financial wellbeing, Autumn will at the next phase provide insights into how a user’s lifestyle choices will likely affect their retirement plans by using data from third-party wearable and health applications. This will enable them to take proactive action to stay healthy, avoid unnecessary healthcare costs and optimise their insurance coverage.

To enhance their general wellbeing, Autumn will also be bringing lifestyle partners onboard, including travel services and volunteering opportunities.

Mike Kruger, chief executive officer of Autumn, says: “Everyone wants to live well, and Autumn helps users plan for a future that makes this possible. We’re delighted to be working with Franklin Templeton and Standard Chartered to create a truly customer-centric, holistic and affordable solution for all. By combining digital wealth technology with health, lifestyle and financial wellness, we’ll help users adopt healthier habits and create a retirement that is personalised for them.”

Alex Manson of SC Ventures adds: “Autumn addresses one of the greatest societal challenges of our time and which is dear to my heart: getting older, which is unfortunately inevitable. All of us want to grow older in a good way, with a healthy lifestyle, planning the form of retirement that is specifically the one we truly aspire to and giving ourselves the means to achieve it, as opposed to procrastinating about the issue. This won’t be achieved by pushing products—it requires trust in a community of like-minded people, and importantly, the integrity of data-driven decisions. This is what Autumn is all about.”

Harshendu Bindal, head of digital strategy and wealth management at Franklin Templeton, comments: “We are delighted to partner with Autumn and SC Ventures in launching an innovative digital platform for investors’ wealth, health and lifestyle needs. As an asset management partner of Autumn, our best-in-class investment model portfolios and educational content will be made available to Autumn’s customers as they make informed investment decisions related to life events, retirement, as well as their general and financial wellbeing”.

Autumn is available to the public on both the iOS and Android app stores and will be available via distribution partners for premium services in the future.

Ron Kalifa OBE to deliver keynote speech at UK FinTech Awards 2021

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Ron Kalifa OBE to deliver keynote speech at UK FinTech Awards 2021
Ron Kalifa OBE

Ron Kalifa OBE, author of the recent review of the UK’s fintech ecosystem, will deliver the keynote speech at the UK FinTech Awards 2021 on 22 July.

The awards ceremony is being held at Leonardo Royal London St Paul’s. Finalists, sponsors and guests are invited to a premier celebration at the heart of London, where they will celebrate the achievements of the UK’s finest fintechs.

Kalifa will address attendees and set the scene for the evening, when dozens of UK fintechs will contest a diverse set of accolades, including PayTech of the Year, InsurTech of the Year, and, of course, FinTech of the Year.

The Kalifa Review, named for its author, provides a clear strategy and delivery plan to ensure the UK can capitalise on the opportunities fintech presents, according to Innovate Finance, which provided the secretariat for the independent evaluation, alongside the City of London Corporation.

Kalifa was invited to lead the independent fintech strategic review for the UK at the request of the jurisdiction’s chancellor. The report was published on 26 February 2021.

Kalifa led Worldpay for more than 10 years as chief executive officer, including its divestment into private equity ownership in 2010. He served as vice chairman thereafter, remaining as an executive director until February 2020.

Credit Sesame raises $51m to expand financial wellness platform

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Credit Sesame raises $51m to expand financial wellness platform

Credit Sesame, the provider of a financial wellness platform, has raised $51 million in growth capital to launch breakthrough AI-driven services that help consumers gain easy access to credit and free banking services to reach their financial goals.

The San Francisco-based company enters this next phase of growth with significant business momentum, as it surpasses more than one million Sesame Cash debit account customers in less than a year from the beta launch and exceeds 200% annual growth in premium subscription services. 

The latest product and service innovations from Credit Sesame leverage its significant consumer data and AI and aim to help close the “credit chasm”, which affects more than 44 million Americans who are credit invisible and face significant challenges getting into the traditional credit and financial system. 

As a first step to helping close this gap, Credit Sesame has completed the acquisition of Zingo, a fintech software services startup, enabling the company to integrate rent reporting services into its suite of financial wellness offerings in summer 2021. 

Later this year, Credit Sesame is launching a feature that will allow consumers to use their cash to help them build and enhance their credit profile with ease and no credit check.

With Credit Sesame’s expanding capabilities, the company has more than doubled its number of employees since 2018. It is continuing to grow rapidly, especially in the areas of data science and engineering.

Investors of this financing round include Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, Menlo Ventures, ATW Partners, Globespan Capital, IA Capital Group and Inventus Capital.

SumUp collaborates with Google Pay

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SumUp collaborates with Google Pay

Global payments service provider SumUp has collaborated with Google Pay to allow merchants to make safer and quicker business transactions using SumUp Card.

Existing card-holders in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland will now be able to add the SumUp Card to their phone wallet, and start using it for business payments in stores, online, and with other Google products.

Other merchants can also create virtual cards via Google Pay to start using all the benefits of the SumUp Card until the physical card arrives.

Google Pay is the fast, simple way to pay with Google, bringing together everything a merchant would need at checkout and keeping their payment info safe in their Google Accounts until they’re ready to pay.

Google Pay also makes it even easier for merchants to pay and check out. SumUp Card holders won’t need to remember all card details or fill out endless forms on their smartphones. Instead, merchants will be able to pay on the move with a few clicks and spend less time checking out.

The SumUp Card is a free Mastercard that gives merchants next-day access to the payments they receive through SumUp, even on weekends. Merchants can use the card online, in-store or at the ATM—wherever Mastercard is accepted. The card grants faster access to money and can be used for all business expenses, while providing merchants with a clearer overview of their cash flow.

Dimitri Gugunava, vice president of banking at SumUp, comments: “At SumUp, we’re always looking to help our merchants find new ways to improve their businesses, particularly as we move out of this pandemic and hopefully towards a more economically positive future.”

“Collaborating with Google Pay is a really important development for us, because it means we can remove layers of friction for small businesses who need to make quick (but safe) payments on the go.”

Dreams rolls out financial wellbeing platform at Ukrsibbank

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Dreams rolls out financial wellbeing platform at Ukrsibbank

Dreams, the provider of behavioural and engagement banking solutions for some of the world’s largest financial institutions, has launched its financial wellbeing platform in partnership with Ukrainian commercial bank Ukrsibbank BNP Paribas Group.

The Dreams financial wellbeing platform is now embedded into Ukrsibbank’s mobile banking app, giving its two million customers across Ukraine access to a full range of additional functionalities from which they can set and achieve money-saving goals through clever, automated saving features, in addition to nudges and hacks.

The launch represents the first product to stem from a strategic partnership between Dreams and Ukrsibbank, in which the Ukrainian bank is leveraging fintech company’s proprietary financial wellbeing technology, and behavioural science methodology. 

The integration will help Ukrsibbank to significantly revamp its digital banking offering with a more personalised and engaging user experience, which will drive customer satisfaction by boosting the financial wellbeing of its customers, and help to attract new audiences.

The Dreams platform will also provide Ukrsibbank with additional revenue streams and growth opportunities, by encouraging users to boost their personal savings, enabling the bank to significantly increase its savings under management.

Henrik Rosvall, chief executive officer and co-founder of Dreams, comments: “We’re delighted to be launching our product in Ukraine and to be helping millions of more people make better financial choices and feel better about their money.”

“With Ukraine’s large population of digitally savvy millennials, eager to engage with their digital bank, we’re confident that our financial wellbeing platform is the perfect fit to help Ukrsibbank build long-lasting loyalty to its brand, cater to the needs of new audiences and lead the way in terms of engagement banking.”

Rosvall adds: “We started Dreams with the vision of not only empowering people to feel better about their money but also of changing how an entire generation of people interact with financial services. By embedding our financial wellbeing platform into Ukrsibbank’s mobile banking app, we are on track to bringing this bold vision to light and achieving our mission on an even greater scale, whilst helping our partner bank to future proof its digital banking offering.”

Konstantin Lezhnin, head of retail and small- and medium-sized enterprises at Ukrsibbank, comments: “This partnership with Dreams marks a really important step in our mission of guiding our customers towards responsible consumption and sustainable personal finance management. Beyond providing our customers with a rich user experience enabling them to better understand and improve their financial wellbeing, the Dreams platform will allow us to create new dimensions of customer engagement and drive additional revenue and growth opportunities.”

“We’ve been really impressed with how Dreams has managed to leverage behavioural science insights to drive product innovation and achieve such a high market share in the Nordics. With such a solid track record in Sweden and Norway, we believe that Dreams’ scientific approach and unique methodology, combined with our customer-centric and user-focused outlook, provides a great formula for success, and will help millions of Ukrainians take control of their own finances and dreams.”

PayAlly strengthens international payments offering with Banking Circle

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PayAlly strengthens international payments offering with Banking Circle

PayAlly, provider of the fully integrated payments ecosystem for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), is using Banking Circle solutions to improve its multi-currency business-to-business (B2B) cross-border payments services.

The new partnership gives PayAlly access to a wider choice of payment rails through the Banking Circle super-correspondent banking network, thereby improving the speed and cost of international payments for its ecommerce customers.

With the aim of halving the cost of acquiring and payments for ecommerce SMEs, PayAlly delivers accounts, payments, prepaid cards, foreign exchange (FX) and factoring, alongside value-added solutions such as a supply chain customer management system, accounting and e-invoicing.

Crucially with its focus on delivering a personal service for every customer, PayAlly aims to empower its customers through its services as Rafal Andzejevsky, co-founder and chief executive officer, explains: “At PayAlly, we strive to help smaller businesses and individuals by providing them with quicker and more reliable payments.”

“Working with Banking Circle, which offers us additional routes for international payments, we are able to improve our ability to execute B2B cross-border payments in various currencies more quickly, efficiently and smoothly than we were previously able to do. As a result, our clients can send and receive funds much faster and with less hassle and that is good news for their cash flow and profitability.” 

UK-based PayAlly serves more than 1,000 corporate clients around the world and is now using Banking Circle to manage the cross-border payments and FX requirements of these clients. Banking Circle enables local B2B payments and collections across borders and eliminates the need for a physical presence or a relationship with a correspondent bank in that region.  

PayAlly can issue accounts to business customers, in multiple jurisdictions, giving them access to a reliable and fully flexible cross border payment system previously only accessible through larger banking institutions. 

Anders la Cour, co-founder and chief executive officer at Banking Circle, adds: “With its mission to provide customer-centric solutions that break down barriers to international payments and increase SME financial inclusion, PayAlly’s ethos is very closely aligned to ours. Working together, we can help PayAlly’s ecommerce clients expand internationally without the high cost and slow transfer fees that could otherwise hold them back.”

Anorak raises £5m to boost access to life insurance advice

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Anorak raises £5m to boost access to life insurance advice
David Vanek and Vincent Durnez

Anorak has raised £5 million on its journey to become the most innovative life insurance technology company in Europe.

The round was led by Outward VC, with Triple Point Ventures and existing investor Kamet Ventures also participating.

The round was backed by a list of the angel investors in European insurtech, including Nic Kohler, former chief executive officer of Hollard, and Paul Evans, chairman of Allianz and board member of Bupa and Swiss Re Europe.

The funding will be used to accelerate the expansion of Anorak’s distribution and partners network, while continuing to invest in its fully automated advice platform.

Founded in 2017 together with venture builder Kamet Ventures, Anorak is on a mission to build the world’s smartest life insurance companion.

Chief executive officer David Vanek and chief technology officer Vincent Durnez created Anorak to make life insurance and expert financial advice accessible to everyone. The life insurance advice platform provides a seamless omnichannel experience while allowing users to connect to expert advisers if they wish.

Vanek explains: “Our mission is to help millions protect their financial future. We are passionate about advice, and we believe that everyone should have access to it. We can ensure that each person gets the protection that is right for them.”

“The last 12 months has left many of us in a state of financial uncertainty, and many are actively searching for fair and transparent advice on insurance. Our platform provides exactly that and we are looking forward to continuing to work with our partners to bring this education to the masses.”

Sanchit Dhote, investment manager at Outward VC, comments: “The Anorak team have developed an innovative approach which is transforming the way in which we access life insurance. The protection gap is only getting wider and Anorak is already a leading player enabling the shift towards embedded insurance. We believe that Anorak has the potential to become the go-to infrastructure for everyday insurance advice.”

Stephane Guinet, chief executive officer of Kamet Ventures, adds: “I am delighted to see Anorak reach yet another important milestone as they continue to help people access the protection they need to keep themselves and their families secure. Since we began working with them in 2017, David and Vincent have demonstrated the passion, drive, and ingenuity that I believe are integral components of any disruptive business and I can’t wait to see where they go next.”

Anorak’s technology can be integrated into existing software so that people can access life insurance options while using everyday services such as digital banks, online mortgage brokers, investment platforms, digital money management service and challenger banks. 

Delivering life insurance advice to users from Starling Bank, Snoop, Clearscore, Canopy, Billbuddy, Vivup and OpenMoney, Anorak will be focusing on developing its partner network, working with distribution platforms and brands that are not traditionally selling insurance products.

Lightyear to launch commission-free investment platform

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Lightyear to launch commission-free investment platform
Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer

New fintech startup Lightyear has raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding and launched a waiting list for its commission-free investment platform.

Set to start rolling out in Q3 2021, Lightyear marries multi-currency accounts with unlimited access to global markets so customers can invest freely without hidden fees or charges.

Lightyear, founded by early Wise (formerly TransferWise) employees Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, is aiming to shake up the retail investment landscape in Europe, combining a low barrier to entry with a global mindset. The pair began working on the idea in the summer of 2020, after realising they shared a strong common opinion: investing in Europe is still broken.

Both regular investors themselves, Sokk and Aamer felt firsthand the frustrations of high fees, hidden costs and the complicated nature of some investing products on the market. Lightyear was born out of these barriers, so they started building a team of people who felt the same, hiring alumni from a collective of fintech giants, including Wise, Robinhood and Revolut.

The $1.5 million pre-seed funding round was led by Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of Wise, and Sten Tamkivi, co-founder of Teleport, as the first portfolio investment of their recently formalised partnership to invest in early-stage European businesses, alongside other lead investor Jaan Tallinn (Metaplanet), the co-founder of Skype.

The round also welcomed a cohort of prominent angel investors and industry experts, including Ott Kaukver, chief technology officer at checkout.com, Wander Rutgers, the former president of Robinhood UK, and Kaarel Kotkas, founder of Veriff.

Sokk, co-founder and chief executive officer at Lightyear, says: “Investing in Europe is a very long way away from where it needs to be. Professional and experienced investors have good options open to them with clear pricing and best-in-class tools, but ordinary investors don’t have that. Lightyear is going to be Europe’s first truly commission-free investment platform, and using our experience with transforming how the world approaches currency conversion, our goal is to completely change the name of the game when it comes to investing.”

Lightyear’s minimum viable product will launch with unlimited access to more than 1,500 global stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The product has no trading, account or foreign exchange (FX) fees up to £3,000 per month. After customers exceed that, there will be a 0.35% FX fee.

With competitors across Europe charging retail investors a range of FX, custody and trading fees, upon launch Lightyear will be among the most cost-effective ways to invest.

Aamer, co-founder and chief technology officer at Lightyear, adds: “Having spent my career in financial services, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe retail investing in Europe is still very much ‘the ugly’—we’re talking about sneaky fees, less access and complicated products remaining as the status quo. We’re building something that will change that by opening up investing up to everyone, whichever global market they want to invest in and however much they want to invest.”

Hinrikus, co-founder of Wise and investor, says: “Most things in our lives are available at the tap of a button or with a good internet connection, yet access to global financial markets is still murky and expensive. The potential here to open up investing for everyone, much further than just their local markets, is very exciting. Giving everybody access to the best deal when it comes to their money is in my DNA, so I’m excited to support Lightyear on this mission.”

Lightyear has launched its waiting list, inviting people to sign up and register their interest in getting early access to the app when it launches later this year.

Wefox closes series C, makes every employee a shareholder

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Wefox closes series C, makes every employee a shareholder
Julian Teicke and Fabian Wesemann

Wefox, the Germany-based digital insurance company, has raised $650 million for its series C funding round led by Target Global, resulting in a post-money valuation of $3 billion.

The insurtech intends to invest the proceeds in strengthening its presence in existing markets and expanding globally within the next two years.

Wefox, which was launched in 2015, has grown its revenues to more than $140 million in the 2020 financial year and reported a profit for 2020 through its insurance carrier, wefox Insurance. 

Julian Teicke, chief executive officer and founder of wefox, says: “We’ve grown our business significantly over the last six years since we launched and we have delivered strong year-on-year growth. This year we took several important steps, such as unifying the business under one wefox brand, expanding into Poland, and setting up a deep tech team in Paris.”

“Within the next few years, we will expand our global footprint, increase our presence in Europe, and move into both the US and Asian markets. wefox will become the leading personal insurance company within the decade.” 

“We have set out to improve the customer experience for both our advisors and our customers through technology to increase customer satisfaction, reduce customer acquisition costs, increase cross-selling, and decrease churn.” 

Teicke adds: “This is why wefox has built a huge network of advisors across Europe. We believe that insurance is all about people, and we believe that technology is an enabler and should not replace the human connection.” 

Wefox is a fully licensed digital insurance company that sells insurance through intermediaries and not directly to customers, which has resulted in significant growth with a clear path to profitability. 

The insurtech continues to deliver a loss ratio supported in large part by its straight-through-processing (STP) of more than 80%, and a central product factory that swiftly distributes new products to the market due to its full stack insurance technology.

Fabian Wesemann, chief financial officer and founder of wefox, says: “This investment strengthens our growth strategy and moves us closer to realising our vision—to prevent 30% of risks from happening—in order to offer the most advanced service to our customers. As part of this, we want to ensure that we are building the technology to automate our business processes to have a STP ratio consistently above 80%.”

Wesemann adds: “This investment round is the culmination of six years of hard work and we are still at the very early stage of our business. I want to thank the entire wefox team for their hard work in enabling us to achieve such incredible results.”

Yaron Valler, general partner at Target Global, comments: “Wefox continues to deliver exceptional results backed with demonstrable year-on-year revenue growth, which saw their insurance carrier, wefox Insurance, report a profit earlier this year, marking them out to be the first insurtech to reach profitability. We invested in wefox in their series A round in 2016 and we are delighted to be leading this series C round. Wefox is unique among the insurtech players with ample room for growth ahead.”

Goldman Sachs International served as the private placement agent to wefox for the financing round.

Wefox makes every employee a shareholder following series C round

Having secured a series C round of $650 million that values the business at $3 billion, the founders of wefox, Teicke and Wesemann, presented every member of staff with share options worth €5,000.

Teicke says: “We couldn’t have achieved our success without the talent, knowledge, commitment and sheer hard work given by our colleagues around the world. Our record series C funding round is our success, collectively. Everyone has played a part in securing it. Now everyone is a shareholder in this incredible business.”

Wesemann continues: “The question isn’t why have we made everyone a shareholder. The question is why wouldn’t we make everyone a shareholder? We have, since our inception, looked at ways in which we can reward all of our teams with shares. But it’s not easy to make it work favourably for employees because share options are usually taxed in the same way as salary is taxed. They should be treated as capital gains which would be way more beneficial to employees. Governments in Europe must work fast to improve this crazy situation. In so doing, they will without doubt support innovation across the region.”

Teicke adds: “We weren’t prepared to wait for governments to catch up. So as well as making everyone a shareholder, we also set up a buyback scheme too. It gives our colleagues the choice to keep or sell their options back to the business. We want everyone at wefox to share in our success as we work to become the leading personal insurance company within the decade.”

Bought By Many secures $350m in funding

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Bought By Many secures $350m in funding

UK biggest insurtech Bought By Many has completed a $350 million series D funding round through its holding company Many Group, securing a valuation of more than $2 billion. 

The round was led by EQT Growth, a Europe-based investment firm. Partner Carolina Brochado will join Many Group’s board.

The funding round also included participation from Willoughby Capital, alongside existing investors FTV Capital, Octopus Ventures, CommerzVentures and Munich Re Ventures.

Bought By Many is best-known for pet insurance and wellness policies, such as cover for pre-existing conditions, and was the first pet insurance provider in the UK to offer online claims.

The insurtech was also the first in the UK to offer customers free, unlimited access to video calls with registered vets, a lifeline for many pet parents throughout lockdown. 

Bought By Many operates under the brand name ManyPets in Sweden and the US. It entered Sweden in 2019 and started a US rollout in March 2021, where it offers a subscription-based model with access to both pet health insurance and pet wellness packages.

Globally, Many Group now covers almost half a million pets and has doubled gross written premium for three consecutive years to more than $220 million in the past 12 months. 

Offering a fully digital insurance process, its technology and growing data bank underpins an evolving global offer, enabling fast decision-making and claims automation. The insurtech also uses a bespoke API-driven policy admin system, allowing it to scale and launch new insurance products in as little as eight days.

To support growth, the group has doubled its team over the past year entirely remotely, and now employs more than 265 people—a number that is set to double again over the next 12 months. It has three offices in the UK and teams in Stockholm, Atlanta and New York.

As well as supporting the team’s growth and creating job opportunities internationally, the latest funding round will drive Many Group’s plans for further global expansion and new product development, which will launch later this year.

Steven Mendel, chief executive officer of Many Group, comments: “Our mission is to make the world a better place for pet parents. By creating unique policies, dramatically improving customer experience, and working closely with vets, we have made it possible for pets to be healthier and for them to enjoy longer, happier lives with their owners.”

“We have hit several exciting milestones over the last four years, including our expansion into Sweden and the US, but most importantly we have gained the trust of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.”

“With the support of EQT Growth and existing investors, we are now poised to reach millions more pet parents, as we continue to develop an enhanced pet health offering that takes care of every angle.”

Brochado adds: “Bought By Many’s digital-first approach is unrivalled in pet insurance, a market that is large and underpenetrated in most European countries and the US. It benefits from the global trend towards the humanisation of pets and higher spend on pet care and is also uniquely positioned to benefit as global digitalisation continues to gather pace.”

“In less than five years, Steven and the team have built Bought By Many to be the UK’s leading insurtech and we’re delighted to be working with the Company to further accelerate its growth and continue to improve the lives of pets.”

Wrisk makes three appointments to boost automotive insurance expertise

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Wrisk makes three appointments to boost automotive insurance expertise

Wrisk has appointed three specialists in automotive insurance following its recent series A funding round.

Robert Cottrell joins the UK insurtech as head of commercial development. He has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance and automotive sectors, including seven years as director of iInsurance at Volkswagen Financial Services where he led the delivery of all insurance activity.

Jemma Ashley joins Wrisk as motor strategy and product lead. She spent 12 years at Aviva where she led motor strategy and propositions.

She will be responsible for driving the insurtech’s mobility, usage-based insurance and electric vehicle growth with partners.

Tom Clarke joins the advisory board at Wrisk. Clarke was previously at LV= General Insurance for 13 years where he held various roles.

He was most recently head of electric vehicle strategy and was responsible for leading the company’s work in this field.

Clarke now works as the chief customer engagement officer at Canopy, a fast-growing technology business focused on the rental sector.

The hires come as a direct result of the £4.6 million series A fundraising round and reflect Wrisk’s investment in solving the digital insurance needs of global car manufacturers, online car marketplaces and other motoring organisations.

Speaking about the new hires, Niall Barton, executive chairman at Wrisk, says: “We are honoured and delighted to have three such talented people join the Wrisk team. Each brings a wealth of experience, and together they will help Wrisk serve the changing needs of the major automotive brands with whom we are working.”

Barton adds: “The automotive sector was already facing a barrage of change, but the pandemic has demonstrated to these global players that their customers want a digital insurance experience and no longer expect to be just provided with the ’analogue’ insurance experience of old.”

Chip launches investment offering with access to BlackRock-powered funds

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Chip launches investment offering with BlackRock-powered funds

Chip has launched a new investment product that will give users of its savings app the opportunity and ability to invest in BlackRock-managed funds.

The UK fintech company, which has saved just under half a billion pounds to date for its 355,000 users, is launching the investment product with three funds from the BlackRock Consensus multifund range, branded as BlackRock Cautious, Balanced and Adventurous.

The money is invested by BlackRock, which looks after more than $8.67 trillion assets worldwide, into a collection of smaller tracker funds, containing a wide spread of equities and bonds, in markets all around the world.

Of the three funds, BlackRock Adventurous has returned up to 8% on average per year since it was created, whereas Cautious and Balanced have returned an average of 6% each year per fund since their creation in 2012.

The Consensus fund range has been operating for nearly a decade, but this is the first time these funds are being offered in a savings app such as Chip’s. The fintech plans on adding more funds as it develops the product.

The names of these funds are informed by the maximum percentage of that fund that can be invested in more volatile equities (stocks and shares), versus the percentage invested in lower risk assets such as cash and bonds. For example, the fund that Chip calls the BlackRock Cautious can have a maximum of 35% of equities, but the BlackRock Adventurous fund can have up to 85% invested in equities.

The investment product, which was originally tested via a controlled rollout to a queue of 17,000 customers, will be available to all Chip customers on ChipAI and, soon, ChipX plans.

The investment platform fee will depend on the plan the user is on:

  • ChipAI plan
    • 0.75% annual platform fee, collected monthly (£0.50 minimum monthly fee)
    • Cost of ChipAI plan is £1.50 every 28 days
  • ChipX plan
    • 0.25% annual platform fee, collected monthly (no minimum monthly fee)
    • Cost of ChipX plan is £3 every 28 days

Simon Rabin, chief executive officer of Chip, comments: “Investing can be intimidating, there’s a perception that you need to be very wealthy, or have years of experience before you can start investing your money. But we believe it’s something everyone should consider doing for the long-term.”

“Investing, whilst carrying an element of risk, is a powerful tool to grow your money. Everyone, absolutely everyone, should feel empowered to put their money to work. Investing should not be an elite, exclusive world dominated by dusty legacy wealth managers or macho crypto-trading ‘bros’.”

“We believe investing should not be about stock picking, or single-share trading, or a get-rich-quick gambling culture. With our investment platform we wanted to build something that offers returns over the long term, of course investors’ capital is still at risk, but we’re aiming for much less drama than you’d get with stock-market hype, like the recent GameStop stock saga. I believe that all people should have access to tools that aim to grow their wealth steadily over time; trading meme shares or buying bitcoin is not it.”

“Our goal is to democratise the world of investing, so we want to offer an easy-to-use investment platform that makes investing simple and accessible to all.”

Rabin continues: “To achieve this, we are offering BlackRock’s globally diversified investment funds through the platform, which will give our users an instant portfolio with one investment. After all, they are the biggest investment manager in the world and look after more than $8 trillion of the world’s assets.”

“The three funds we’re offering at launch are just the start. When ChipX launches later this year, we’ll bring even more funds into the app. Our goal is to change how you look at your money forever.”

Crypto insurance company Evertas raises $5.8m in seed funding

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Crypto insurance company Evertas raises $5.8m in seed funding

Evertas, the crypto insurance company, has raised nearly $5.8 million in seed funding. 

The funding round was led by Morgan Creek Digital, CMT, HashKey, Wave Partners, RenGen, 4RC, Centrality, Plug ‘n Play, Vy Capital, and a number of individual investors.

The insurtech company, which has developed a underwriting framework for crypto (including blockchain/distributed ledger technology systems) and a full lifecycle insurance product, will use the funding to accelerate product development and build out infrastructure.

Raymond Zenkich, president and founder of Evertas, says: “With a multi-trillion dollar crypto market and less than $5 billion in total insurance capacity, Evertas is developing a key piece of missing infrastructure—crypto insurance.”

“We have seen increasing demand for insurance products as institutional and regulated entities enter the space, creating a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for Evertas.”

J Gdanski, chief executive officer and founder, adds: “Over the next year, Evertas plans to grow its own insurance capacity and launch our own carrier. Doing so will be a critical next step in ensuring that there is reliable, sustainable, and sufficient coverage for the crypto industry, a stark contrast to what is available today.”

Mark Yusko, founder, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Morgan Creek Capital Management, and partner and co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital, comments: “Morgan Creek is pleased to be an investor in Evertas. The entire cryptoasset ecosystem will evolve more rapidly and be more robust with the development of well-functioning insurance infrastructure. Moreover, institutional and retail adoption, as well as regulatory acceptance, depends on the presence of a viable insurance market, and we anticipate Evertas to be a leader in that development.”

Deng Chao, chief executive officer of Hashkey Capital, adds that “insurance is nearly a must-have for institutional investors in the crypto space. Given the huge gap between actual coverage and demand, we believe Evertas is in a unique position to narrow the gap given their deep knowledge of crypto assets and cybersecurity. We expect Evertas to create a real foothold in the traditional insurance world.”

DailyPay raises $500m of capital

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DailyPay raises $500m of capital
Jason Lee, chief executive officer and founder of DailyPay

DailyPay, a provider of on-demand pay solutions for enterprises, has secured $500 million of capital.

The company has completed a $175 million series D equity round led by Carrick Capital Partners, with participation from existing investors. It has also raised $325 million of credit from various sources.

DailyPay intends to invest this capital in new market opportunities for its technology platform, in addition to extending its market position in on-demand pay among the largest employers in the world.

Jason Lee, chief executive officer and founder of DailyPay, says: “Since 2016, we have partnered with world-class employers to enable their employees to access or save their pay as they earn it. The initial application of our first-of-its-kind technology platform was to redefine how money moves between employers and their employees.”

“We are now expanding our platform to change the relationship between merchants and their shoppers, as well as financial institutions and their customers. This platform enables us to create a new financial system by rewriting the invisible rules of money.”

With this round of financing, DailyPay has welcomed a new investor in Carrick Capital Partners. Lee said: “We are thrilled to welcome Carrick as a new partner and to our board of directors. The team at Carrick has a demonstrable record of helping companies to scale exponentially and enter the public markets. We are excited to leverage their expertise at this pivotal time of opportunity for DailyPay.”

Jim Madden, co-chief executive officer of Carrick Capital Partners, added: “We have seen the explosion in the on-demand pay industry, and how DailyPay has been leading the category. We chose to invest in DailyPay now because we believe they are only just beginning to respond to the enormous opportunity they have to provide on-demand pay solutions to global enterprises.”

Scot Parnell, chief financial officer at DailyPay, said: “This financing package creates a fortress balance sheet that we can deploy on behalf of employers and their employees. The on-demand pay industry requires an exceptionally well-capitalised balance sheet to ensure the highest degree of service delivery, reliability and trust.”

Eighty percent of Fortune 200 companies that offer on-demand pay partner with DailyPay. Over the last 12 months, the company has reached a number of key milestones. It grew revenue by 141% in 2020 and released a suite of new products and services that benefit employers, including tools to enable off-cycle payments and remit employee reward payments.

Additionally, DailyPay launched ExtendPX, its proprietary white-label solution for payroll/human capital management companies.

DailyPay saw significant increases in usage in 2020, remitting payments every single minute of the entire year, to more than 6,000 different financial institutions in the US.

Vise raises $65 million in series C round

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Vise raises $65 million in series C round

Vise, the New York-based provider of an AI-powered investment management platform built for advisors, has raised $65 million in series C funding.

The latest round was led by Ribbit Capital, with participation from existing investors including Sequoia Capital. The series C round brings the total capital raised since Vise’s founding to more than $125 million. 

Since its series B funding round in December 2020, Vise’s assets under management have more than quadrupled to more than $250 million and client accounts have more than doubled. The company also completed integrations with major custodians and released several new product features for customers. 

Vise has further bolstered its executive leadership with the appointment of Andrew Fong, former vice president of infrastructure engineering at Dropbox, as its chief technology officer.

Dave Twardowski, former vice president at Avantis Investors and Dimensional Fund Advisors, has also joined Vise as vice president and head of investment strategy. 

The additional funding will accelerate Vise’s investments in its platform, the hiring of the best available talent and the rollout of new product features. A key focus area will be continuing to scale the engineering function, led by Fong.

Samir Vasavada, co-founder and chief executive officer of Vise, says: “In 2020, we successfully focused on strengthening our foundation, and now in 2021 we are focused on scaling Vise to make it an even more valuable platform for advisors and their clients.”

“In the past year our assets under management have grown by more than 60x and we’ve seen incredibly strong demand from advisors. Put simply, this funding will allow us to make even bigger investments faster.”

Shaun Maguire, partner at Sequoia and Vise board member, adds: “Vise’s rapid growth is a reflection of the progress the team has made over the past year in advancing its technology and building a truly world-class team.”

“Since we first partnered with Vise at the seed, the company is in an even stronger position to benefit from powerful tailwinds in the industry. We couldn’t be more excited to be further deepening our partnership with Samir, Runik and team.”

Micky Malka, managing partner at Ribbit Capital, says: “Vise has the opportunity and potential to shape the future of investment management. We’re excited to partner with Samir and Runik and the entire Vise team as they work to empower financial advisors with the technology and tools they need.”

Astorg and Bridgepoint acquire Fenergo

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Astorg and Bridgepoint acquire Fenergo

Private equity firms Astorg and Bridgepoint and Fenergo’s management team are acquiring the Ireland-based fintech company, a provider of know-your-customer and client lifecycle management software solutions for financial institutions, from Insight Partners.

The acquisition follows a period of strong expansion for Fenergo and will drive investment in the firm’s software-as-a-service strategy and product line development, and support an expanding team through the next phase of growth.

Established in 2009, Fenergo’s SaaS platform provides solutions to the world’s largest and most complex financial institutions, helping to fight financial crime and to enhance customer journeys while being compliant every step of the way.

Fenergo currently helps top financial institutions including ICBC Standard Bank, Santander, Mizuho, ABN AMRO and BNP Paribas to digitally transform their end-to-end client lifecycle processes.

Fenergo’s API-first ecosystem of channels, systems and data providers enables financial institutions to offer a frictionless customer experience.

The company operates in a specialised part of the highly regulated financial services sector, with strong potential for continued growth given the increasing importance of digitalisation and compliance. In the financial year ending March 2021, Fenergo’s revenue increased by 17% to $107 million.

Marc Murphy, founder and chief executive officer at Fenergo, says: “We are delighted that Astorg and Bridgepoint have chosen to invest in our company, providing us with the financial strength required to pursue our ambitious high-growth strategy. Both Astorg and Bridgepoint have enormous experience and credibility in our sector, something I am keen to leverage over the coming years. Ultimately, we only exist to serve the needs of our customers. We are looking forward to partnering with them in the next phase of our development.”

Benoît Ficheur, partner in charge of growth investments at Astorg, says: “We have tracked Fenergo for many years and have been impressed with its strong market position, innovative technology and consistent strong positive feedback from a customer base of large financial institutions. We are thrilled to partner with Bridgepoint to help shape the future of this unique company. Marc Murphy and his team have proven their strength year after year in this very demanding industry. This investment confirms our commitment to backing fast-growing and innovative software leaders.”

David Nicault, partner responsible for Bridgepoint‘s investment activity in technology, adds: “We are delighted to partner with Astorg on the exciting next phase for Fenergo. Continued pressure on financial institutions to improve their compliance work, while at the same time managing margins and increased regulation, has created the need for integrated digital solutions that enable reduced operating costs, improve capital allocation and comply with regulations. We are looking forward to working closely with the management team at Fenergo as they build on the company’s success to date and realise its full growth potential.”

Uncapped raises $80 million to fund new banking services

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Uncapped raises $80 million to fund new banking services
Asher Ismail and Piotr Pisarz, co-founders of Uncapped

Uncapped, a UK-based startup changing the way online companies fund their growth and inventory costs, has raised $80 million of debt and equity in a new funding round that will enable the company to move beyond lending by launching a suite of new banking services tailored to the needs of digital entrepreneurs.

The round was led by Lakestar, with participation from all existing investors, and brings the total capital raised by Uncapped to $120 million.

Founded in 2019, Uncapped has emerged as an alternative to traditional debt financing and venture capital. The company provides founders with growth finance for a flat fee as low as 6%, and capital can be released in as little as a day. Businesses only repay the capital as they make revenue with no set repayment and no compounding interest, equity or personal guarantees, and there are no credit checks or business plans required. 

With the latest capital injection, Uncapped plans to move deeper in the banking space, with a host of new products and services due to launch in the near future. The company is specifically looking to solve problems around financial visibility, access to cash flow, access to third-party data, as well as an expansion of their range of credit products.

Last year, the company began issuing Visa cards to enable founders to spend their capital, and the company intends to expand on this offering.

Uncapped will also use the capital to increase its headcount from 35 to 100 people by the end of the year, with a particular focus on engineering and product roles. While the company operates on a fully remote basis, most employees are situated in the UK, Germany and Poland.

Piotr Pisarz, co-founder of Uncapped, says: “Digital companies are innovating and evolving faster than ever before, but their legacy banking providers are not keeping up with the pace. We want to help digital entrepreneurs with quick access to funding, insights that help their business grow, rewards they actually care about, and modern integrations that will save them time and money.”

Asher Ismail, also a co-founder of Uncapped, adds: “The reality is that legacy banks don’t really understand the needs of digital entrepreneurs, and their dated infrastructure is not up to the standards required to help their business grow. So it’s no surprise that 82% of business owners say they are unhappy with their bank. This is a huge problem and, as digital entrepreneurs ourselves, we’re best placed to solve it.”

Nicolas Brand, partner at Lakestar, comments: “The composition of our economies is changing, with digital native businesses contributing an ever increasing share to overall GDP. Uncapped uses real time data provided by its clients across APIs to offer bespoke credit and other novel banking services. We are proud to be partnering with Piotr and Asher on their journey to change how funding and banking in a digital economy works.”