On the radar this week:
Q&A with Marcus Börner of OptioPay
BigPanda, a service for responding to security incidents at financial institutions, raised strategic funding from UBS.
Belvo, a Latin American embedded banking and open finance provider, raised strategic funding from Citi.
Finexos, a UK credit-scoring provider, raised £695,000.
Bookkeeper360, a provider of accounting tool integrations, raised a $3.5 million seed round.
Rebill, an Argentinian automated collections process provider, raised $3.6 million.
Closinglock, a real estate transaction fintech provider, raised a $4 million seed round.
Deposits, which allows customers to offer plug-and-play banking solutions, raised a $5 million seed round.
QuotaBook, a South Korean equity management platform, raised $11 million.
Highline Technologies, which allows consumers to pay bills directly from their paychecks, raised a $13 million Series A.
FOMO Pay, a Singaporean ‘banking services provider to the digital economy,’ raised a $13 million Series A.
Hazeltree, a treasury and liquidity management vendor, raised$14 million.
Kasisto, a conversational AI chatbot for financial institutions, raised a $15.5 million Series C extension from Westpac and FIS.
Nitra, a payment platform for hospitals, raised $16 million in equity and $45 million in debt.
Q&A with Marcus Börner of OptioPay
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
At the age of 17 I founded my first company – reBuy.com. Today, Germany ́s leading re-commerce platform employing over 500 great people and exceeding $ 200 million in annual turnover .
My entrepreneurial spirit and passion for combining customer-oriented products with data eventually led to the foundation of OptioPay. OptioPay provides Open Banking white label services that empower customers to benefit from value-add campaigns based on their bank account data. As a B2B2C-provider we serve clients from various industries, such as banking, insurance, telco & retail. Comdirect Bank, DZ Bank, HDI or 1&1 are some of our clients that understand the huge potential of open banking for their business and customers. Going forward, any company missing out on the open banking opportunity will struggle with severe strategic disadvantages.
Next to OptioPay, I am a passionate business angel, and have invested in over 50 companies. I love supporting young entrepreneurs who dare to make an impact. I also advise the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany as part of the “FinTechRat”.
UBS invests in AIOps platform BigPanda
UBS has invested in tech unicorn BigPanda, which uses artificial intelligence to detect and respond to incidents in complex IT systems.
As more of its customers switch to – and become ever more reliant on – digital channels, UBS is using BigPanda’s artificial intelligence IT operations (AIOps) platform to automate incident management processes to ensure systems stay up and running.
“We’re excited to build on our relationship with BigPanda through this investment, helping drive digital disruption and innovation in AIOps,” says Mike Dargan, UBS group chief digital and information officer. “By increasing transparency and leveraging technology to automate key processes, companies can reduce downtime and focus on developing new products and services for clients.”
Reflecting changing consumer banking habits, UBS in May launched a purely digital product line, UBS key4, for clients who want to carry out all of their banking transactions from their smartphones.
“As companies increase their dependance on technology as an enabler and differentiator, and ultimately change how they deliver their products and services to clients, it has become even more important for them to ensure their IT operations platforms run smoothly,” says Assaf Resnick, CEO and co-founder of BigPanda. “UBS is an early adopter of AIOps in the financial services industry and similarly sees the power emerging technology can have on their operations to deliver a best-in-class client experience.”
The investment was made by UBS Next, the Swiss bank’s $200 million fintech venture fund and incubation unit.
Citi Ventures invests in Belvo to help push Open Finance forward in Latin America
Citi Ventures has made an investment in Belvo, the leading Open Finance API platform in Latin America. This investment will facilitate Belvo’s growth in Mexico while getting closer to Citibanamex.
Citi Ventures, Citi’s venture capital investing group, announced its investment in Belvo, the leading Open Finance API platform in Latin America.
The financing is already leading to joint explorations of opportunities to bolster the development of the Open Finance ecosystem in Mexico. Specifically, Belvo is exploring ways to create new products and services that leverage Open Finance and that can foster more innovation and financial inclusion.
Belvo already provides connectivity through its API platform to over 60 financial institutions and works with over 150 clients, including leading financial institutions and fintechs in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia like Tribanco, Rappi, Mobills, and Mercado Libre. These companies use Belvo’s Open Finance technology and platform to build reliable and secure connections with their end-users financial data and interpret and enrich this information to launch innovative financial services.
“This investment is yet another great sign of the increasing collaborative efforts that are taking place between fintechs and traditional financial players in Latin America in the context of Open Finance. As regulation quickly moves forward in countries like Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, we believe that working together with financial institutions is key to bringing the benefits of these new models to more and more businesses and end-users, and that these collaborations will have a great impact on increasing access to better financial services across the region. Citi is one of the top financial institutions in the world and Latin America, with operations in more than 20 countries in the region. We’re ecstatic to collaborate with them in their commitment to innovation”
Pablo Viguera, co-CEO and cofounder of Belvo.
“At Citibanamex, we aim to offer the best banking experience in Mexico. Citi Ventures’ investment in Belvo will get Citibanamex closer to Belvo, accelerating our path to develop Open Banking capabilities while creating omnichannel, and deeply personalized, digital experiences and products for the benefit of our customers,” said Sinead O´Connor, Corporate Director of Consumer Banking, Citibanamex.
GCV Leads £695K Investment in Finexos, a Fintech Focused on Making Credit More Accessible
Growth Capital Ventures has led a £695,000 investment round into Finexos, a fintech platform set “to improve access to credit for millions of people around the world.”
Oversubscribed by almost 40% from the initial target, the funds will be used “to drive forwards Finexos’s market entry strategy as the company rolls out its solution to several key pilot partners looking for a more accurate way of evaluating credit worthiness.”
This is the latest EIS-eligible investment opportunity “led by Growth Capital Ventures, an FCA authorized investment firm specializing in impact driven co-investment opportunities across alternative asset classes.”
Finexos has “developed its innovative technology, which combines open banking with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), to measure financial capability without the need for a credit score.”
Where a traditional credit score uses approximately 12 pieces of information, the Finexos solution currently “uses more than 220 pieces of data to give an accurate assessment of how a consumer or SME manages its cashflow.”
With around two billion people globally unable to access financial services and a further 138 million people in Europe estimated to be excluded from mainstream credit, there is “a clear requirement to improve financial inclusion by redefining credit scoring.”
Norm Peterson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Growth Capital Ventures, said:
“Over 12 million people in the UK alone are in the high-interest, revolving credit trap as a result of legacy credit scoring. Millions of people are paying too high interest rates due to a low legacy credit score – even though we now have access to the information to readily prove that such a low credit score can be entirely unjustified. With the Finexos solution developed and ready to take to the market, the platform is set to transform credit scoring, increasing loan origination while simultaneously reducing default rates for lenders.”
Established in 2018, the expert team behind Finexos “includes an international group of specialists.”
They include founder and head of product Mark Fisher and CEO Areiel Wolanow, “an adviser on AI and Blockchain to the UK Parliament, speaker on financial inclusion at the G20, and designer of the credit scoring engine for M-Pesa, which doubled Kenya’s GDP and lifted 2% of the population out of poverty and forms the template for the Finexos solution.”
Bookkeeper360 Raises $3.5M Seed Round to Scale Platform and Operations
Bookkeeper360 has announced the completion of its seed capital raise round, raising $3.5 million from investors. This round was filled by new strategic partners, customers, and previous investors of Bookkeeper360, who are also Angel Investors of Etsy.com. Bookkeeper360 disrupts traditional business accounting by leveraging its proprietary technology and services to streamline and integrate back-office, management reporting, advisory, payroll, and tax solutions.
Nick Pasquarosa, founder and CEO of Bookkeeper360, said, “The future for Bookkeeper360 has never been brighter. We have seen an enormous increase in demand for our accounting and advisory services, and on average, our customers are accessing our app more frequently than ever before. We are excited to continue developing solutions to help our customers grow faster and more efficiently. I’ve never been prouder of our team and value our customers who trust Bookkeeper360 to handle their finances.”
In the past 14 months, Bookkeeper360 has grown its team by 120% and now supports nearly 1,000 customers nationwide between its software and a full suite of accounting, advisory, tax, payroll, and back-office solutions. This includes three new directors that have joined to oversee its software engineering, advisory, and customer onboarding departments. In October 2022, Bookkeeper360 will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Bookkeeper360 currently has integrations with Xero, Quickbooks Online, and Gusto Payroll. The company plans to expand its existing integrations to additional marketplaces and operational platforms and integrate capital and lending products for Bookkeeper360’s hyper-growth customer base. Bookkeeper360 aims to be the single go-to platform for all small business needs.
New strategic investor and CEO of National Business Capital, Joe Camberato, says, “I couldn’t be more excited to invest and partner with Bookkeeper360. Both of our organizations share the same mission: to help small business owners GROW and make it easier for them to grow fast. We speak to business owners daily; bookkeeping and accounting are one of the biggest challenges as they grow and scale. Bookkeeper360 saves businesses money by not having a costly internal accounting team. Their tech-enabled platform gives SMB owners a Fortune 500, easy-to-understand view into their company’s cash flow and financials.”
Tiger Global, YC back Rebill’s subscription payment platform for Latin America
Rebill, an Argentina-based startup, raised $3.6 million to continue building automated payment collection and subscription management tools for Latin America.
The funding announcement includes $600,000 from a pre-seed tranche. The $3 million seed round was led by Tiger Global Management and included Y Combinator, Soma Capital, SV Angel and a group of angel investors, including Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi and Vercel founder Guillermo Rauch.
CEO Nahuel Candia got the initial idea for Rebill in 2018 when he was consulting for an insurance company in Argentina. His company wanted to manage the whole behavior of collections, including changing the card on file and going through compliance with security measures. The implementation process was estimated to be two to three weeks, but turned out to take one year.
Wanting to make this an easier process, Candia joined with Ariel Díaz Ailán, whose background is in e-commerce, to create Rebill in 2020. Rebill was part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 cohort.
Closinglock Announces $4M in Funding led by LiveOak Venture Partners
AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Closinglock, a proptech & fintech startup focused on modernizing the real estate transaction process, announces that it has closed a $4M seed round led by LiveOak Venture Partners with participation from RWT Horizons and GTMfund. The funds will be used to expand its teams across sales, customer success, and product development.
Wire fraud is one of the largest problems in real estate today and is estimated to cost the industry over $1 billion per year in lost funds. With Closinglock’s secure portal technology and workflow platform, title and escrow professionals no longer need to share sensitive information via email where the bulk of fraud occurs in real estate transactions.
Closinglock’s first product, a secure portal, was introduced in 2018 to protect title companies and attorney offices from the growing problem of real estate wire fraud. Since then, Closinglock has expanded its product offerings to include secure wire instructions, document sharing, eSignature, and loan payoff verifications all in a single platform. Today, Closinglock serves some of the largest title companies, home builders, and real estate attorneys in the country, representing more than $100 billion in transaction value to date across all 50 states and 42 countries.
“The top concern amongst real estate title and escrow companies remains wire fraud as a single wire fraud incident can bankrupt entire organizations,” said Andy White, Ph.D., CEO of Closinglock. “Our current platform has robust adoption in the industry, but we also have exciting plans for the future across the breadth of real estate transactions. To that end, we sought out the best proptech investors in the world and are extremely proud to partner with LiveOak as our lead investor.”
“Eliminating inefficiencies in the real estate transaction process is a theme that we are excited about across our proptech and fintech portfolio. Closinglock’s ability to build trust with buyers, brokers, and title companies by securing the highest risk element of the transaction provides the company with a unique opportunity to build out a comprehensive platform for managing the entire transaction closing process,” said Mike Marcantonio, Partner at LiveOak Venture Partners and Closinglock board member. “The industry’s exceptional response to this product in such a period of time is a testament to the magnitude of the problem and the Closinglock team’s unique blend of product development expertise, domain knowledge, and security focus. We’re elated to be partnering with the company as it embarks on the next step in its journey.”
Deposits Secures $5M Seed Funding to Democratize Modern Banking and Payments
DALLAS, Aug. 23, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Plug-and-play finance startup Deposits today announced a seed funding round of $5M led by ATX Venture Partners and joined by Cabal Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners and others. Deposits’ cloud-based platform enables credit unions, community banks, insurers, retailers, and even product brands to offer a wide spectrum of payment and banking experiences without the need for deep technical expertise. Deposits opens up access to digital banking by making it easy for organizations, regardless of size, skill or budget, to strengthen their relationships by offering modern financial experiences. These services include mobile apps, fully online account opening, identity verification, debit and credit accounts, mobile deposits, virtual cards, P2P payments, home and auto loans, foreign exchange and more. Deposits’ modular, flexible platform allows for rapid implementation, enabling partners to offer modern banking services in days versus months.
Deposits stands out for its next-generation plug-and-play fintech platform that fills the gap left by embedded finance providers by eliminating technical barriers as well as for its mission to bring modern banking services to new communities.
“Local banks and credit unions have built trust with customers over decades by keeping money within the community. But those customers often fall out of love because those institutions struggle to provide a modern, mobile-first banking experience,” said Joseph Akintolayo, founder and CEO of Deposits. “Deposits makes it easy for trusted brands to provide stellar experiences with money. This means their customers can participate in a full range of financial services that in turn improve their financial circumstances and well-being.”
YC grad QuotaBook raises $11M to scale its equity management platform
QuotaBook, a Seoul-based equity management platform, has raised $11 million in funding led by Elefund, with participation from Access Ventures, Hana Securities and South Korean fintech company Viva Republica. Some of its previous backers, including Draper Associates and Capstone Partners, joined the round.
The Korean startup, which graduated from Y Combinator (YC)’s Winter 21 batch, was founded by former venture capitalists Andy Choi, Dan Hong and Pilseon Jun, in 2019. Choi, the company’s CEO, said in an interview with TechCrunch that in their capacity as investors, the three noticed that in Korea and many other Asian countries, startups were still relying on Excel when managing their cap tables, stock options, stakeholder and other related information.
That meant the startups’ backers were forced to make sense of these spreadsheets, too. “VCs were stuck with Excel sheets or very old enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, so old that they are not web-based and can be installed only on Windows machines,” Choi said. “It created a very annoying and error-prone process where startups and investors were regularly exchanging crucial equity data and corporate info via document attachments or text messages.”
Everyone was typing in the data manually because investors and startups had different formats and had to run double checks from each side again, Choi told TechCrunch.
Payments fintech Highline Technologies rakes in $13m in Series A round
Highline Technologies, a payments fintech firm, has secured $13m investment in its Series A funding round led by Jump Capital, Costanoa Ventures, Foundation Capital, among others.
The firm, established in 2020, has developed a payments platform that enables customers to automatically pay bills directly from their paycheck. The platform is designed to help consumers not to miss payments and avoid overdraft fees.
It also allows lenders to enhance the performance of their portfolios. Using the solutions, lenders will be able to extend approvals as well as add new clients and increase revenue while minimising risk, stated Highline.
Furthermore, the company has improved payroll-backed lending to any asset class, which were previously restricted to only personal loans.
With the new investment, Highline aims to accelerate its growth. The company also seeks to add new employees, form new strategic alliances and support the market adoption of its solutions and offerings.
Highline Technologies co-founder and CEO Geoff Brown said: “We are grateful to our investors and excited by the possibilities that this round of funding represents.
Singapore payments fintech FOMO Pay gets US$13mn in Series A
Singapore payments fintech FOMO Pay has raised US$13mn in Series A funding as it seeks to hire new talent, strengthen R&D and expand into new geographies.
Singapore fintech FOMO Pay has secured US$13mn in a Series A funding round led by Jump Crypto with further participation from investors including HashKey Capital, Antalpha Ventures, Ab Initio Capital, and Republic Capital.
The fintech startup has a long list of objectives that it wants to achieve with this fresh injection of capital. FOMO Pay will use the money to accelerate its growth, invest in talent acquisition and infrastructure, and strengthen its R&D capabilities.
FOMO Pay, which is striving to be “the leading global banking service provider for the fast-growing digital economy”, will also seek to extend its client base; expand into new geographies; and diversify its product offerings in line with the crypto adoption curve.
Hazeltree Secures Investment Round Led by FINTOP Capital, Joined by Hamilton Lane (NDQ: HLNE)
NEW YORK & LONDON & HONG KONG–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Hazeltree, the leader in treasury and liquidity management technology for the alternative asset and investment management industries, announced today that it has secured a $14 million strategic investment. The investment round was led by FINTOP Capital, a venture capital firm focused on fintech B2B SaaS companies, and joined by Hamilton Lane (NASDAQ: HLNE), a leading private markets investment management firm.
Rick Kushel, co-founder and managing partner at FINTOP Capital will join Hazeltree’s board.
“We are thrilled to have the support of such high-caliber investment partners as FINTOP and Hamilton Lane joining us as we bring Hazeltree into its next era of growth,” said Douglas Haynes, Executive Chair of Hazeltree. “Amid market volatility and economic uncertainty, this investment affirms Hazeltree’s powerful and resilient business model,” added Haynes. “We saw extensive interest from the investment community, but FINTOP’s operating expertise stood above all others. We couldn’t be happier to be partnering with FINTOP and Hamilton Lane. Their respective reputations in the industry speak for themselves.”
“We were greatly impressed by the Hazeltree business and the strength of its model in the alternative asset management space, particularly hedge funds and private equity,” Kushel said. “I am very excited to be joining the board of such a dynamic growth company and helping it build on its success to date.”
Erik Hirsch, Vice Chairman and Head of Strategic Initiatives at Hamilton Lane, commented: “We have a long history of partnering with and investing in leading companies that utilize technology to bring greater efficiency to the private markets. As a user of the platform, we have found Hazeltree to be a transformative technology solution, allowing us to increase the speed and reliability of our treasury operations and gain greater security over our cash management processes, all while expanding our visibility into overall funding and currency needs for our clients. We are proud to be participating in this fundraising round.”
“FINTOP and Hamilton Lane’s combined investing and operating experience in helping scale fintech companies is unmatched, and we’re excited to have Rick join our board to provide his guidance,” said Tushar Amin, Hazeltree’s CEO. “This investment will fuel Hazeltree’s growth through expanding customer success and support, scaling our commercial model, and innovating across our product suite.”
Westpac and FIS invest in conversational AI firm Kasisto
Conversational AI chatbot developer Kasisto has raised $15.5 million in a Series C extension led by its client Westpac and fintech giant FIS.
BankSouth, another KAI client, joined the extension, which brings the Series C to $31 million.
Kasisto’s KAI digital experience platform is used by a host of FS giants, including JP Morgan, Standard Chartered and TD, to communicate with millions of consumers around the world across multiple channels in different languages.
The firm will use the latest funding for product development, strategic go-to-market initiatives, and the expansion of partnerships with financial services providers.
Scott Collary, group executive, customer services and technology, Westpac, says: “Kasisto’s technology has enabled us to evolve from traditional chatbots to a sophisticated, human-like conversational experience, unified for the first time under a single AI orchestration platform.
“This means customer queries will be answered more efficiently with reduced wait times and fewer hand-offs.”
Nitra Raises $62 Million to Revolutionize Fintech for the Healthcare Industry
Nitra raised a seed round from leading investors including Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, Pantera, KB Financial Group, Jerry Yang, Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, CoVenture and others.
NEW YORK, Aug. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Nitra, a fintech company founded by successful serial entrepreneurs, announced today that it has raised $62 million in equity and debt capital from leading investors including Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Pantera Capital, KB Financial Group, Jerry Yang/AME Cloud Ventures, and Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, with CoVenture providing the debt facility. Other participants in this initial round include Primer Sazze Partners, SparkLabs Taipei & Global, Dunamu, Expa, Soma Capital, Slope Capital, K50 Ventures, 8090 Partners, Comma Capital, Gaingels, and Gold House Ventures.
Nitra was founded with a mission to bring modern financial products, integrated medical software, and supply chain solutions to practitioners and physicians in the healthcare industry. The financing will be used to scale the team, accelerate growth, and launch new products.
“We are excited to bring the transformational and disruptive digital finance technologies of Silicon Valley to new verticals,” says Jonathan Chen, Nitra’s Founder and CEO. “Our goal is to partner with practitioners to provide an ecosystem that combines innovative fintech and cutting-edge software solutions to help doctors better manage their practices and better focus on their patients.”
With the raise, Nitra is launching its first product, a Visa Business card customized for the healthcare industry that allows physicians to earn unlimited rewards on common practice expenditures – medical and surgical supplies, office and business spend, and dining. The card comes at no annual fee and is underpinned by sophisticated spend management, business analytics, and reconciliation software that demonstrates the innovative, customer-centric solutions the company is creating for the healthcare industry. With upcoming plans to expand their suite of financial services products and build customized healthcare-specific software tools to support practices and hospitals across the country, Nitra is just beginning its journey as a mission-driven startup addressing the vital needs of doctors and their practices.