B2B FinTech Radar: 11th May 2022

On the radar this week:

Q&A with Virginia Bassano of Eight Roads

Estonian financial services outfit LHV Group has invested €1 million in Tuum, its core banking platform provider

Fintech startup Cheq raises $2 million to bring crypto to the masses

Insurtech startup Turtlemint bags $120 million as valuation tops $900 million

Tactic wants to reinvent accounting software for the web3 age

Founders Fund & Ramp co-led a $2.6M financing for the 8-person startup

PayTic secures $2.95M seed financing led by Build Ventures

Masa Finance gets $3.5M pre-seed to build its decentralized credit protocol

Introducing Allocate announcing our Series A round!

Accern lands $20M for AI that analyzes financial documents on the web

Blockchain wallet solution Venly plays in €21 million to bring more gaming and e-commerce users into Web3

Concerto Launches Platform to Reimagine Credit Card Programs; Receives $21 Million From Matrix Partners, PayPal Ventures and GoldenTree Asset Management

rali_cap gets backing from global VCs and launches $30M fintech fund for emerging markets

Amberdata raises $30M to chase the ‘unlimited opportunity’ of bringing traditional finance into web3

Insurtech startup Turtlemint bags $120 million as valuation tops $900 million

Q&A with Virginia Bassano of Eight Roads

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.

I am Italian, I studied in a French Business School and I live in London since 2017. I was previously working in Investment Banking at Citi covering the FinTech sector. I co-founded an HR tech startup named DailyInternship, a talent recruiting platform with over 100k students subscribed. That experience led me very close to the Venture Capital world.. so close that I ended up in VC myself! At Eight Roads I focus on investments in Southern Europe, Nordics, and more broadly speaking in FinTech investments all across Europe. I am passionate about travels, motorbike, photography and all type of animals. A funny fact about me is that by the age of 22 I had already visited all the European capitals in motorbike.

Estonia’s LHV Group invests in core banking startup Tuum

Estonian financial services outfit LHV Group has invested €1 million in Tuum, its core banking platform provider.

The strategic investment means that LHV is now a partner, customer and investor in local outfit Tuum, which offers an API-first, cloud-agnostic and modular banking platform that covers all retail and business banking processes.

Last October, Tuum gained access to LHV’s services, enabling it to provide customers with real-time pound and euro payments, virtual Ibans, currency exchange accounts and currency exchange transactions.

Then, last month LHV also selected Tuum to provide the core infrastructure for its banking operations in the UK.

Madis Toomsalu, CEO, LHV Group, says: “For LHV, this is an investment that will help us combine our own interests with a strategically important partner and further strengthen our position among financial technology companies.

“Together with Tuum, we can give fintech start-ups and companies operating in other fields the opportunity to enter the market with new flexible financial products more easily and faster.”

Fintech startup Cheq raises $2 million to bring crypto to the masses

Cheq, the fintech enabling easier cryptocurrency payments, has raised a $2 million pre-seed round led by Connect Ventures, alongside Semantic Ventures, firstminute Capital, and 30 angels including former leadership from Monzo, Revolut and Tide.

The funding will enable Cheq to establish itself as the primary option for taking payment with stablecoins that are pegged to the US dollar, removing price volatility for both merchant and consumer. The result is a user experience similar to traditional payment platforms but without intermediary fees and cumbersome approval requirements.

Chris Butcher (formerly co-founder and CTO of Portify) founded Cheq in December 2021 after his crypto side-project Token Alerts found success in Latin America. He realised many consumers in the region are turning to stablecoins as a way of protecting their wealth against hyperinflation that their native currencies may be prone to. Traditional payment infrastructures can be less effective in some regions, and crypto payments present the solution for these regions. However, existing crypto payment solutions do not deliver a user experience that is accessible to the mass market.

With Cheq, users can connect a crypto wallet to the platform and instantly access a user interface similar to a modern neobank. Cheq instantly creates payment links that can be embedded on a website or shared on social media so customers can pay with crypto in a single click. Cheq is able to collect information including names and addresses from the buyer and can be configured to perform follow-on actions with other services for merchants to fulfil orders.

Tactic wants to reinvent accounting software for the web3 age

Founders Fund & Ramp co-led a $2.6M financing for the 8-person startup

Tactic, a startup that helps businesses manage — and simplify — cryptocurrency finances, is emerging from stealth today with $2.6 million in seed funding.

Founders Fund and finance automation startup Ramp co-led the raise for Tactic, an eight-person outfit based in New York City. Elad Gil and Figma co-founder Dylan Field also participated in the funding.

CEO Ann Jaskiw founded Tactic after learning that founders in web3 were handling their accounting in spreadsheets. Existing accounting software providers, she concluded, “were not built to handle crypto transactions.”

The core of Tactic’s product, said Jaskiw, is to help a CFO or head of finance answer the question, “Where did the money go?” at the end of a quarter.

“Right now for most financial professionals, their audit trail of crypto transactions is a debit transaction from Silicon Valley Bank or whichever bank, into a centralized exchange like Coinbase,” Jaskiw explained. “Tokens leave that central place, and it then becomes a big bit of a question mark. What we’re seeing is people are spending a lot of time in manual spreadsheets, trying to track what transactions happen and trying to calculate their gain and loss. It’s just incredibly cumbersome currently.”

PayTic secures $2.95M seed financing led by Build Ventures

PayTic, a new solution that streamlines the back-office operations and risk control of digital payments for banks and FinTechs, announces the close of a $2.95M funding round led by Halifax-based Build Ventures. Island Capital Partners, Concrete Ventures and Outlierz Ventures completed the remainder of the round. With this technology, PayTic brings together reconciliation, chargebacks, risk control and regulatory reports in one agile SaaS platform.

In the absence of industry-dedicated program management solutions, most of the large banks, processors and more broadly, payment issuers and acquirers are using large excel spreadsheets to reconcile settlements, control risks and track chargebacks. This is causing potential errors, compliance issues and resulting in a high cost of operations. In such a competitive and very sensitive industry, PayTic’s goal is to help Banks and Fintechs increase control, transparency and auditability of payment products with less effort and cost. The solution is cloud based and requires little to zero integration from the client side. Perhaps most appealing, a client can be onboarded with the processor of their choice in less than five business days.

PayTic’s CEO, Imad Boumahdi, immigrated to Charlottetown in 2018 with over 15 years of experience in the payments industry. He recognized that over the last decade, FinTech has been primarily focused on improving the checkout experience, which added more complexity to the operations and risk control. In response, he has built the technology to bring the back-end of managing payments up to speed by streamlining and digitizing the cross functional processes behind payments. PayTic uniquely offers an all-in-one solution that centralizes the program management for banks, FinTechs, and credit unions, so they don’t have to navigate siloed technologies and systems to reconcile payments, detect frauds, manage disputes and fill in the regulatory reports. Paytic’s main competition today is Excel.

Masa Finance gets $3.5M pre-seed to build its decentralized credit protocol

Masa Finance, a hybrid credit protocol and decentralized credit bureau founded by Pngme CEO Brendan Playford in late 2020, has raised $3.5 million in pre-seed funding. According to a statement, the company seeks to “disrupt traditional centralized credit infrastructure by providing individuals, businesses and developers with the tools to access credit” via blockchain technology.

The core principle for blockchain centers on the ownership of assets, including money and financial data. The system somewhat tries to reduce the control of traditional financial institutions such as banks and credit bureaus which have, for decades, collected and stored financial information of the world’s banked people.

Decentralized finance’s premise transcends this segment of banked people. Analysts have argued that the technology can reach places not covered by these financial institutions. According to them, blockchain can allow the unbanked to have faster access to services such as lending, borrowing and buying insurance.

Yet, there’s still room for collaboration between both worlds, or at least in Masa Finance’s case, even as it targets underserved people.

Masa Finance links traditional financial accounts and assets from credit bureau systems and bank data to crypto holdings of users. This connection allows the company to create non-fungible credit reports for users, which they can use to access credit and other financial tools

Introducing Allocate announcing our Series A round!

We’re thrilled to announce the closing of our $15.3MM Series A round led by M13 Ventures, with participation from SignalFire, Bedrock Capital, Intera Capital, Secocha Ventures, and returning investors Broadhaven Ventures, Ulu Ventures, Urban Innovation Fund, Fika Ventures, Basis Set Ventures, Tusk Ventures, and Anthemis Group.

Although we just recently launched, over 200 investors have deployed >$125MM into venture fund products on the Allocate platform. We have also grown our team to seventeen team members across engineering, operations, and investment management who previously held roles at leading institutions such as SVB, First Republic, Icapital, Vistaprint, Hamilton Lane, Fidelity, and AngelList.

Accern lands $20M for AI that analyzes financial documents on the web

Accern, which uses AI to analyze online conversations around particular companies, trends and industries, today announced that it raised $20 million in a Series B round co-led by Mighty Capital and Fusion Fund alongside Tribe Capital, Shasta Ventures, Gaingels, and others. CEO Kumesh Aroomoogan says that the new capital will be put toward “product-led growth,” expansion into new markets and R&D on Accern’s AI technologies.

“More than 80% of the world’s data is unstructured. Unstructured data requires a hyper-manual process to structure data at scale, consuming expensive data science resources throughout an organization,” Aroomoogan told TechCrunch via email. “Due to the extreme human capital and time costs, unstructured data isn’t efficiently analyzed and is often left out of historical data decisions. The end result affects all organizations’ decision-making capabilities and adds additional risk to their respective portfolios and balance sheets.”

Kumesh Aroomoogan, a former research analyst for Wall Street firms including Citigroup, co-founded Accern with Anshul Vikram Pandey in 2014. Originally, New York-based Accern focused on monitoring the web for — and curating — a narrow set of financial information, particularly that pertaining to stocks. But the company later broadened its scope to other aspects of corporate finance, like credit and fraud monitoring and compliance.

To customers, Accern provides AI-powered apps and natural language processing (NLP) models trained to recognize, classify and extract domain-specific financial language. The service can scan public sources, including news publications, blogs and SEC filings, to gauge consumer sentiment, for example, or predict how supply chain disruptions might impact a business.

Blockchain wallet solution Venly plays in €21 million to bring more gaming and e-commerce users into Web3

To increase its reach in the gaming industry, the Belgian startup will launch an accelerator track for game studios and web3 startups

Just as we put the spotlight on Belgium with our Summit in Brussels happening on 17 May, another Belgium-based blockchain technology provider Venly is upping the game in the blockchain segment.

The Antwerp-based blockchain-agnostic technology provider (previously Arkane Network) has raised over €21 million in funding to develop products centered around new benefits to web3 users in gaming and e-commerce. The Series A round was led by Courtside Ventures with participation from Transcend Fund, Coinbase Ventures, Tioga Capital, HTGF, Fortino Capital, Plug and Play, LeadBlock Partners, Imec.Istart, and Alpaca VC.

Concerto Launches Platform to Reimagine Credit Card Programs; Receives $21 Million From Matrix Partners, PayPal Ventures and GoldenTree Asset Management

Concerto, a new company created to power credit card partnerships that enhance the user and product experience for consumers and businesses, today unveiled its next-generation card issuing and loyalty platform. The Concerto platform is purpose-built and designed to support the creation and management of co-branded credit card programs. It launched with a number of initial partners, including the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds professional baseball teams.

To support the growth of the platform, Concerto also announced that it has raised $21 million in early-stage, strategic funding. Matrix Partners led the round, with PayPal Ventures and GoldenTree Asset Management also participating. Additionally, GoldenTree has formed a joint venture with Concerto that will fund a minimum of $2 billion in credit card receivables.

“Our significant commitments include both an equity investment and an agreement to fund at least $2 billion in credit card receivables, reflecting our strong belief in the Concerto team, its business model and the tremendous opportunity ahead,” said GoldenTree Partner Joe Naggar.

Concerto architected a superior platform that combines leading-edge card issuing technologies and advanced analytics to construct and deliver credit card programs that excite brand partners and thrill their customers. Its cloud-based platform and API-centric approach also dramatically accelerates the development and deployment of large, customized partner programs.

rali_cap gets backing from global VCs and launches $30M fintech fund for emerging markets

Rali_cap, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on emerging markets fintech, has launched a $30 million fund. Last month, the firm, formerly known as Rally Cap Ventures, reached its first close of $20 million (its initial target) before increasing the fund size, signaling a strong LP appetite.

The two-year-old VC fund invests in B2B and API-first fintechs across Africa, Latin America and South Asia at pre-seed and seed stages. It expects to achieve a second close by the end of June.

Rali_cap was first a collective before a fund, Hayden Simmons, the general partner who launched the firm in 2020, told TechCrunch in an interview.

As someone who is hands-on — he boasts a decade of experience working for emerging market fintechs such as Migo, Novi and Juvo in business development and partnership roles — Simmons said he saw a prospect in aggregating a community of “experts” (primarily operators and angels) to collaborate via Slack on deal sourcing, due diligence and founder support and invest in emerging market fintechs. 

“This way, we thought we could outperform traditional venture models in driving value to founders and getting more people involved in the venture capital game,” Simmons told TechCrunch on a call. 

Amberdata raises $30M to chase the ‘unlimited opportunity’ of bringing traditional finance into web3

Amberdata, an institutionally focused digital asset data provider, has raised $30 million in its Series B, its CEO Shawn Douglass exclusively told TechCrunch.

The company is now valued at $330 million and has raised a total of $47 million to date, including its seed round worth $2 million and Series A totaling $15 million.

“We decided to do this raise right now because we grew so much in the past year that there’s an unlimited opportunity to go out and be the infrastructure that enables all institutions to onboard digital assets,” Douglass said.

The capital will be used to build new product lines, and although Amberdata has existing deals in the U.S., U.K., Latin America, Singapore and Australia, it wants to expand more globally, Douglass said.

As its name suggests, Amberdata provides data and insights into blockchain networks, crypto exchanges and decentralized finance for some of the largest financial and digital asset institutions, like Citi, Coinbase, Nasdaq and Franklin Templeton, among others.

“If you think about this, digital assets will touch every person and business on the planet and transform finance, and that requires data and insights to be able to embrace that,” Douglass said.

Insurtech startup Turtlemint bags $120 million as valuation tops $900 million

The company intends to use the fresh funds to expand in new geographies, including international expansion into Southeast Asia scale its leadership team and strengthen its product line.

Insurtech startup Turtlemint has raised $120 million led by Amansa Capital, Jungle Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners, the company said on Friday. The online platform for buying insurance has closed the current financing round at a $900-950 million valuation, said a person in the know. The fundraise also saw participation from new backers Vitruvian Partners and Marshall Wace, along with other existing investors.

Turtlemint intends to use the fresh funds to expand in new geographies, scale its leadership team and strengthen its product line.

Founded in 2015 by Dhirendra Mahyavanshi and Anand Prabhudesai, Mumbai-based Turtlemint is a platform that helps financial advisors understand and distribute insurance to their community of customers. It aims to assist these advisors to cater to the individual needs of each customer by providing digital solutions.

Prabhudesai said in a prepared statement, “India is at a critical juncture, particularly in terms of demand for health insurance products. Tier II-III cities will account for a significant portion of this demand… As individuals continue to seek assistance during purchase and claim journeys, the last-mile distribution needs to be empowered with the best technology. This is what our offline-online strategy solves for customers.”

Inside MassMutual Ventures’ new fund

MassMutual Ventures’ announcement on April 27 of a new $300 million fund targeting start-ups in digital health, cybersecurity, enterprise SaaS and financial technology looks to be a force for innovation in insurtech.

Doug Russell, managing director and head of MassMutual Ventures, gives examples of types of insurtech technologies and some specific companies and products that the fund looks for or has already invested in.

“For cybersecurity, we look for a piece of technology that a cybersecurity company has developed that is gaining traction with existing insurance and financial services firms,” he says. “When evaluating companies, we spend a lot of time talking to insurance companies’ CISOs, financial services companies’ CISOs and our broad network to understand the degree to which those companies are likely to adopt that technology.”

Within its sector choices of healthcare and financial technology, the venture capital firm is particularly interested in decentralized finance and AI/ML applications.

MassMutual Ventures’ new fund brings its total investment in technology startups to $750 million, spread among several regional portfolios in the US and Asia-Pacific. Two-thirds of that total has already been committed to companies. The new fund marks MassMutual Ventures’ first entry into Europe. Overall, MassMutual Ventures has about $300 million in US funds, with about $100 million in each of three funds. The firm’s Asia-Pacific arm has three funds, the first started with $50 million and the second with $100 million, plus the new $300 million fund. The firm sources all of its capital from its parent MassMutual’s general investment accounts.

‘The Hybrid Broker’ – Tomaso Mansutti, wefox in ‘The Insurtech Magazine’

Europe’s digital wunderkind, wefox, believes a broker network powered by humans is still the future of insurance. Tomaso Mansutti, head of international partnerships at the company, tells us why

There is probably no more oversimplified and overworked word in the insurtech industry than digitisation. It has seized the cultural zeitgeist of insurers across the globe as the be-all-and-end-all of modernisation.

It’s not hard to see why. E-commerce and ever-more-sophisticated APIs have cemented digital as the standard means of communicating B2B and B2C. As it stands, around 62.5 per cent of the world’s population uses the internet, more than half of whom access it through their smartphones, according to DataReportal’s Digital Around The World research report. And, looking at just one type of insurance, in just one country, in 2019 Statista found that over half of the UK population bought vehicle cover online, 62.4 per cent of them drivers over the age of 65. There are 20 million households with motor insurance in the UK – the maths speaks for itself. Digitisation is something insurers couldn’t ignore.