On the radar this week:
Mast, a UK mortgage origination provider, raised £1.2 million.
Nume Crypto, a crypto payments processing startup, raised $2 million.
Webio, a conversational AI builder for the debt collection and repayment industry, raised €3.84 million.
Bits of Stock, a rewards platform that lets shoppers earn fractional stock shares, raised $4.4 million in seed funding.
Prometheus, an investing insights platform for family offices, raised a $5 million pre-Series A.
Clausematch, an automated policy management and compliance software for financial institutions, raised $10.8 million in strategic funding.
CapIntel, a workflow and fund analysis service for financial advisors, raised an $11 million Series A.
Able, a commercial loan enablement provider, raised a $20 million Series A.
Narmi, a provider to layer additional services on top of digital banking infrastructure, raised a $35 million Series B.
Upvest, a German investment API, raised a $42 million Series B.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
I was born and grew up in South Africa to a German household. I started my first company when I was 16, selling computer hardware, and went on to study Actuarial Science in South Africa. I began my career in the insurance industry and spent over 13 years in various roles across South Africa, UK and Switzerland before founding Imburse. Headquartered in Zurich, with offices London and Lisbon, Imburse is a modular middleware that enables insurers and other enterprises to connect more easily to the global payment ecosystem. By connecting to us, our clients can quickly deploy any payment provider or solution, in any market, for collection or payout with no IT project or resources required. We are a technology partner that allows companies to transform, digitalise and modernise more efficiently and more quickly.
Mast raises £1.2m for mortgage origination platform
London-based cloud-native mortgage origination platform Mast Technologies has raised £1.2 million in a funding round led by Antler VC.
Angel investors including founders of Booking.com, Monzo and ThirdFort, and senior executives from Pivotal, VMWare, Jones Lang Lasalle, and Airwallex joined the round.
Mast has built a cloud-native origination platform that promises to put an end to the days of borrowers waiting up to 60 days to receive an offer on their mortgage application. Launched in November, the technology has so far helped to process over £50 million of applications.
The new funding will allow Mast to continue the development of its customisable underwriting workflow tools and Policy Engine to help automate more of the origination journey.
Joy Abisaab, CEO, Mast, says: “Over the last 15 years we’ve seen dramatic innovation across the financial landscape, but mortgage lending technology has lagged behind the improvements made to consumer services. Now is the time to bring lending technology up to speed.”
Sequoia leads pre-seed funding round for crypto payments startup Nume
- Nume Crypto has raised $2 million in pre-seed funding.
- Nume is building a crypto payments processor for both retail and businesses.
Nume Crypto, a new crypto payments processing startup, has raised $2 million in a pre-seed funding round.
Sequoia Capital India led the round, with participation from Beenext and Whiteboard Capital. Several angel investors, including Polygon co-founder Jaynti Kanani, former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, Google engineering lead Arun Samudrala, and BlockTower Capital general partner Sanat Rao also participated in the round.
Nume Crypto is founded by two Indian sisters — Madhumitha and Niveda Harishankar — who aim to boost the use of crypto for payments.
Currently, several technical barriers stand in the way of crypto adoption for payments, according to the Harishankars. These include high blockchain transaction costs and low transaction capacity.
“The market for crypto payments hasn’t been cracked yet,” Niveda told The Block. “Nume’s core offering is a payment protocol which has no lower bound on the cost of transactions. This enables disruptively low-cost crypto transactions for consumers and merchants. We believe this could be a turning point and enabler for mass adoption of crypto payments.”
Amsterdam’s Finch Capital backs Dublin’s conversational AI platform Webio in €3.8M round
Dublin-based Webio, a company that brings Artificial Intelligence-driven conversations to the credit, collections and payments industry, announced on Thursday that it has raised $4M (approximately €3.84M) in its Series A round of funding led by Amsterdam-based Finch Capital.
Mike Brennan of Finch Capital says, “Webio is reimagining the way customer credit conversations take place in the collections industry. This sector is ripe for disruption, its approach to its customers is outdated and it’s an extremely large market which is set for significant growth. Webio has established itself as an award-winning provider with triple-digit growth in this market and is well-positioned to help the sector overcome key challenges around digital transformation and the adoption of AI.”
Founded in 2016 by Cormac O’Neill, Mark Oppermann and Paul Sweeney, Webio is on a mission to rebalance the Credit, Collections, and Payment ecosystem. It makes difficult customer conversations easier with its conversational AI platform.
Leading UK and Irish brands, like The Very Group, Studio Retail, Hoist Finance, DCBL, NCO Europe, and Anglian Water, use Webio’s conversational platform to set up millions of customer conversations at scale and have personalised conversations.
Co-founder Cormac O’Neill says, “Conversations about money are stressful and difficult, not only for the customer but also for agents tasked with having these conversations. Going digital means companies can create a whole new set of digital experiences that help customers feel more confident in having those difficult conversations and ultimately, stop them from falling into unnecessary and significant financial difficulty. And we are excited that Webio’s conversational AI is enabling companies to engage with customers in a more empathetic manner, at scale.”
Bits of Stock raises $4.4m
Bits of Stock, a rewards platform that lets shoppers automatically earn fractional shares, has raised $4.4 million in seed funding from Keen Venture Partners and Yellow Accelerator by Snap.
The Bits of Stock app replaces traditional points, loyalty cards, and cashback programmes with assets that grow in value over time. Shoppers enrol a credit card in the app to automatically start earning fractional shares and crypto rewards for everyday purchases.
The Dutch firm is currently working with 60 brands, including Adidas, KFC, Nike, Zara, Uber, Spotify and Netflix. With the new funding in place, it says it wants to add 200 more firms in the next year.
The startup has also unveiled an API that lets clients – like retailers, neobanks, and BNPL providers – embed the rewards experience into their own apps.
Arash Asady, CEO, Bits of Stock, says: “The funding will help us to scale up our mission of building the “Ownership Economy” for the thousands of brands and their tens of millions of end consumers. Our ultimate purpose is to address wealth inequality and help young people learn about finance and investing.”
Prometheus Launches Social Marketplace for Alternative Investments
New platform creates a community for all to obtain credible investment insights and gives accredited investors increased access to alternative investment options
LOS ANGELES, June 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Prometheus Alternative Investments, Inc., a Los Angeles, California-based fintech social marketplace providing institutional-quality information, insights, and alternative investment opportunities, today announced the successful launch of its new social network and digital fund marketplace.
Prometheus allows investors of all types to connect with leading investment professionals through their in-platform social accounts. Investment professionals can create exclusive and compliant content, giving any investor access to quality investment insights and a chance to learn right from the professionals. By reaching new audiences, Prometheus’ in-platform social network democratizes access to thought leaders and investors for all to access and learn.
Additionally, Prometheus Marketplace offers accredited investors, family offices, and wealth advisors improved access to the growing market of alternative investments options. Through an easy-to-use mobile app and desktop site, the Prometheus Marketplace gives accredited investors the ability to discover, research, follow, and transact with high-quality managers, connecting them with hedge funds, crypto funds, venture capital funds, private equity funds, commodities funds, and the investment professionals managing those funds.
“Prometheus is excited to launch an innovative approach that reaches out to accredited investors of all types” said Michael Wang, CEO and Founder of Prometheus. “We are also excited to give fund managers the tools and platform needed to grow their targeted investor base through social content, networking, and transparency. Prometheus offers a chance for accredited investors to meet the people behind the fund and gives the opportunity to source new and credible investment ideas from trusted professionals. With our in-platform social content, investors of all types can gain insights from thought leaders, democratizing access to some of the leading investment professionals today.”
Clausematch raises $10.8m
Clausematch, a global RegTech company automating policy management and compliance for regulated industries, today announced the close of a US$10.8M strategic funding round led by Lytical Ventures and joined by Flashpoint and Sony Innovation Fund.
The new financing will be used to increase the company’s commercial activities in the US and invest in its product, technology and data science teams. The new funds bring the total investment to date to over US$20M.
Clausematch is a financial technology company that provides a software-as-a-service platform (SaaS) for smart management of compliance documents and processes, enabling regulated companies to meet compliance obligations. Since its last funding, the team has made numerous advancements to its product offering and launched a new core module, Policy Portal, which has been adopted by all of Clausematch’s biggest clients. Policy Portal is designed to be a single real-time up-to-date repository of all policies and procedures across an organisation.
The company’s presence in North America has grown significantly since the company’s participation in NY-based FinTech Innovation Lab. Clausematch’s unique and easy-to-use policy management and compliance solution has seen rapid adoption as clients grapple to ensure ongoing regulatory changes are reflected across all documentation. With over 180,000 users, the company has more than doubled its customer base in 2021. Clausematch counts several Tier 1 banks in North America and Europe, including Barclays, as clients.
Evgeny Likhoded, Founder and CEO, Clausematch, says: “We got pulled to the US market and saw a significant demand for our solution in the financial services sector. With this funding round we are increasing our sales and marketing efforts on the US and European markets. And we are also continuing to invest in our technical and product capabilities to automate compliance workflows and apply our data science models to the compliance content as one of the biggest challenges that heavily regulated firms are facing is keeping up with the volume of regulatory change.”
CapIntel Raises $11.0M USD Series A To Expand Wealth Management Sales Platform, Launching in US Market
TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CapIntel, a leading financial technology company that improves day-to-day workflow and fund analysis for financial advisors, announced $11.0M USD in Series A financing led by New York-based FinTech Collective, with an additional participation from Fengate Asset Management on behalf of its investor, the LiUNA Pension Fund of Central and Eastern Canada (LPFCEC).
Since launching its platform in 2019, CapIntel experienced nearly 800 percent revenue growth in 2021, following a 640 percent growth in 2020. The team plans to hire at least 150 new team members over the next two years, focused on building out the sales and product teams after the recent expansion into the US market.
“The wealth management industry continues to benefit from technology to enhance client experiences, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of this transformation,” said James Rockwood, Founder and CEO of CapIntel. “This round of funding will further fuel a steady and sustainable growth for CapIntel and help us fulfill our ultimate mission to build wealth for all. Our partnership with TPFG is another market proof point that not only demonstrates the value of our product, but points to a larger trend of financial firms seeking tools to help advisors thrive in a digital world.”
CapIntel’s solution solves two fundamental challenges for advisors. The first is the necessity for advisors to focus on engaging and presenting investment solutions to clients, in addition to financial planning. Advisors’ ability to efficiently and transparently communicate recommendations to clients has become increasingly critical to building trust. The second challenge is the often-tedious preparation of investment proposals. Proposals that are easy to build, easy to understand, and easy to talk about can lead to better outcomes for advisors and clients alike. CapIntel is used by more than 10,000 advisors serving more than two million households, including three of the top five Big Banks in Canada.
CapIntel is already experiencing strong growth in the US market. Its most recent partnership with The Pacific Financial Group’s (TPFG) will enable the US-based asset management firm to build enhanced investment proposals for advisors, adding to its extensive suite of tech partnerships. CapIntel’s sales platform and proposals are designed to improve analysis and presentation for financial advisors and asset managers, as only the first step on their path to deliver holistic financial services at the point of purchase.
Able.ai exits stealth with $20M to help big lenders speed up making high-value loans
Large banks are stepping up their game when it comes to new services and the technology that underpins them, and in many cases they are borrowing straight from the tech world’s playbook: Instead of building in-house, to speed things up, they are tapping third parties that have already found a fix for a tricky problem, integrating their breakthroughs by way of APIs.
In the latest development, a startup called Able has built an engine to speed up the processing of documents and other data required for commercial loans (typically $100,000 but sometimes up to $100 million in value), which it sells as a service to banks and other lenders. Today, it’s coming out of stealth mode with $20 million in funding and a launch into the wider market.
The Series A is being led by Canapi Ventures — a specialist fintech investor — with participation also from Human Capital, which also led the startup’s seed round. Diego Represas, the CEO of Able who co-founded it with Andrew Hurst, noted that there are also a couple of strategic investors — financial services companies that are already using Able’s tech — but they are not disclosing those names currently.
I write that it is launching into the wider market because although it’s coming out of stealth, Able’s actually been around since 2020, and the customers it has picked up are already using Able’s technology — which involves RPA, computer vision and other forms of AI to ingest and process data related to loans as part of their evaluation process.
Narmi lands $35M to layer services on top of existing banking infrastructure
The banking industry isn’t always welcoming to startups, depending on the market’s outlook. As inflation rises and companies brace for the worst, once-promising neobanks are being forced to face the music. For example, Varo Bank, the first neobank to be granted a U.S. bank charter, recently revealed that it could run out of cash by the end of the year.
Still, it’s true that venture capitalists continue to put record capital toward fintechs, with one estimate pegging the total amount invested in Q1 2022 at $28.8 billion. That’s perhaps why Nikhil Lakhanpal and Chris Griffin, the co-founders of Narmi, a fintech company launched in 2016, are undeterred by the headwinds.
Narmi is a beneficiary. The startup today closed a $35 million Series B funding round co-led by Greycroft, NEA and Picus Capital, bringing Narmi’s cash raised to date to ~$60 million.
“Given the worldwide shift toward digital and growing user expectations, we felt that a solution needed to be made to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” Lakhanpal told TechCrunch in an email interview. “We are of course selling to a customer base that historically has been slower to innovate and culturally are risk-averse. This is the nature of the business, and we accept that. We have a big challenge where Narmi really needs to be a true consultative partner to the financial institution and help them understand the return on investment and scalability of digital products, but we consider this challenge our job.”
Both Lakhanpal and Griffin came from the financial industry, where they spent several years working at incumbent banks like Citi and Barclays. Narmi arose to address what Lakhanpal describes as a lack of digital innovation in banking, which he and Griffin believe was inhibiting growth at their previous employers.
While New York, New York-based Narmi isn’t a bank, it provides mobile, online and digital account banking to regional and community financial institutions.
Bessemer backs Berlin’s Upvest in $42m Series B
Berlin-based investment API provider Upvest has raised $42m in a Series B equity funding round — which is one of Germany’s biggest fintech raises of the year, close behind Mondu last month.
What does Upvest do?
Upvest is part of the hyper-competitive club of banking-as-a-service (BaaS) fintechs that provide the core banking infrastructure for finance companies behind-the-scenes. Like many of the fintechs in this space, it’s built its own cloud-based core banking system. But unlike companies like Thought Machine and Mambu, it’s focused purely on investment products.
Fintechs and banks can use Upvest’s ready-to-go APIs to offer their end customers investment products including exchange-traded funds (ETFs), stocks and crypto assets, instead of having to build them in-house. For Upvest, this is a reliable revenue model – as once a fintech or bank chooses them, they tend to stick to the same core-banking platform for a while. And for the fintechs and banks, it’s generally cheaper to use an API like Upvest’s than go through the complex process of building the back end of an investment platform in-house.
And after a rigorous 24-month process, Upvest has also managed to secure licences from the German financial regulator BaFin for securities and crypto brokerage and custody — which means it’s allowed to provide these capital markets products in all the European countries that fintechs want to roll them out in.