|Early stage European FinTech deals: Devego “Only 11% of payments in the SEPA regions are instant. In Spain, this number goes up to 46,89%, way above the European average.”; Eoliann “Extreme weather events have increased by 345% in the last 50 years because of urbanization and climate change, creating an aggregated economic loss of $ 5,2 trillion.”; Atoa “merchants then receive funds in their bank accounts instantly instead of having to wait 1-2 days as is the usual case with card machines and debit cards.”|
If you are an early stage startup building the next big thing in European FinTech (or know somebody who is), get the word out to our network of investors and financial institutions via our Q&A: email email@example.com or reach us via LinkedIn: Frank Schwab & Samarth Shekhar.
Q&A with Virginia Bassano of Eight Roads
Startups should plan ahead and be smart: create a set of leading indicators (could be linked to ARR, growth, #sales, pipeline, number of clients, monthly burn, etc) to guide them through their growth and plans and adjust the future roadmap accordingly.
Ahead of upcoming EU regulation, instant-payments fintech Devengo raises €1.2M
Devengo, a Spanish fintech that provides payment infrastructure services, has raised a €1.2 million Seed financing round. The instant payment API developed by this fintech helps its clients to orchestrate mass payouts programmatically and instantaneously
Now, with the help of this fresh capital, Devengo wants to support more companies unleashing the power of real-time payments. To do that they are hiring go-to-market specialists, compliance experts, and more developers.
The financing round was led by TheVentureCity, a global early-stage venture fund, investing in product-centric startups across the US, Europe, and Latam. Also participated in the Seed investment the Spanish entrepreneur Felipe Navío and the Chilean entrepreneur Leo Soto.
This comes at a time when only 11% of payments in the SEPA regions are instant. In Spain, this number goes up to 46,89%, way above the European average. Thanks to the Spanish experience and its benefits, the EU is working on a law that would make it mandatory for banks in the region to provide instant payments in euros 24/7. The main objective of this is to modernize the European payments infrastructure.
It is also the case that in an inflationary environment such as the current one, increasing the frequency of payments through instant payments could provide some protection against inflation. Although the Devengo API has many uses. For example, payroll companies can develop real-time salary and salary advance value propositions. Insurance companies, can make pay claims faster and as part of their validation process. For lenders, Devengo also helps them to provide credit faster and allows them for programmatic settlement given that money gets transferred and settled instantaneously.
Devengo is in the process of getting a Payments Institution license from the Bank of Spain, a regulatory approval that is going to happen in the next few months. Nevertheless, they have already been working with top clients Spanish unicorn Jobandtalent as well as the salary advance startup Payflow.
Fernando Cabello-Astolfi and Alberto Molpeceres, co-Founders of Devengo, say: “We live in a real-time world. Payments should be too. This is just the start of exciting times to come. Anything that is not an instant payment would be considered ancient history in the next few years. Money should not stay in limbo for 1 or 2 business days. It is not Pareto optimal. Real-time money increases efficiency and allows for new value propositions to be developed”.
Devengo has been co-founded by Molpeceres, founder of Besepa, and leader of the team that got the first payments institution license in Spain, and Cabello-Astolfi, a serial fintech entrepreneur since 2010 and a business angel with more than 30 active investments all around the world mainly in fintech (Latam, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East). Prior to Devengo, Cabello-Astolfi founded Aplazame in 2014, a leading Spanish BNPL acquired in 2018 by Wizink Bank.
Andrés Dancausa, General Partner of TheVentureCity, says: “There is an instant payments revolution underway and Devengo has the secret key to it. We trust that Fernando and his team have found the crucial factor to develop a new era of massive real-time banking”.
Eoliann lands €1.35m in a funding raise
Eoliann, an Italian benefit corporation that makes climate risks more predictable, has snared €1.35m in a funding round.
The investment was made by Primo Space, a fund managed by the investor Primo Ventures SGR.
Extreme weather events have increased by 345% in the last 50 years because of urbanization and climate change, creating an aggregated economic loss of $ 5,2 trillion.
Eoliann labelled the company ‘a team of dreamers’ who are making the unpredictable more predictable.
The firm’s solution leverages satellite data and proprietary ML algorithms to forecast the probability and impact of specific climate risk events to improve insurance policy creation and prudential disclosure on ESG risks.
The company intends to use the new investment to continue to expand operations and its development efforts.
Fennel, an ESG-focused platform that gives retail investors access to tools to better engage with companies, recently launched its mobile investing app.
According to Fennel, the key feature of its app is its in-app ESG data and rankings, which the firm says provides unprecedented information to retail investors on public firms’ ESG practices.
With Fennel, users can invest in publicly listed stocks and ETFs as they analyse detailed ESG data and further understand how the companies they invest in impact the world they live in.
Atoa Raises $2.2M in Pre-Seed Funding
Atoa Payments, a London, UK-based provider of payments solutions, raised $2.2M in Pre-Seed funding.
The round was led by Leo Capital and Passion Capital, with participation from Matt Robinson, and Moon Capital Ventures.
The company intends to use the funds to accelerate growth, expand operations and its business reach.
Co-Founded by Sid Narayanan, Cian O’Dowd and Arun Rajkumar, Atoa Payments provides solutions for small and mid-sized UK retail merchants to accept payments via SMS, Pay-by Link or by displaying a QR code on their app or physical QR stand next to their till. Businesses download the app and connect their merchant bank account in less than 5 minutes. Following the set up, any customer with a UK mobile banking app on their phone can securely pay a merchant who is using Atoa. The merchants then receive funds in their bank accounts instantly instead of having to wait 1-2 days as is the usual case with card machines and debit cards. Using Atoa involves no contracts (pay as you go), no hardware fees and no chargeback fraud risk (all payments are approved via bank app and have Strong Customer Authentication).
Taktile raises $20M to help fintech companies test and deploy decision-making models
The logic behind many fintech companies’ automated decisions — decisions that determine whether a customer is approved for a credit line, for example — is hard-coded into their app’s backend. This means that if a head of credit, for example, wants to make a change to the lending criteria, they have to raise a ticket with the IT department.
To make changing this type of automated logic a more self-service process, Maximilian Eber and Maik Taro Wehmeyer founded Taktile in 2020. The two met while studying at Harvard and were both a part of the leadership team at QuantCo, a company building AI-powered apps for enterprise customers. While there, they found that many automated decisions were poorly designed, hardly ever tested properly and required a lot of engineering capacity — ultimately leading to guesswork.
“Based on our experience, we decided to build a platform — Taktile — to empower experts, such as a head of risk, to design, evaluate and deploy decision flows on their own without the need for developers,” Wehmeyer said in an email interview. “By using Taktile, fintechs can adjust their risk selection in a data-driven way and ensure they only underwrite the risks that match their strategy.”
When asked about the size of Taktile’s customer base and financials, Wehmeyer declined to comment, citing competitive reasons. But investors apparently see growth potential. Taktile today closed a $20 million Series A round co-led by Index Ventures and Tiger Global, bringing the startup’s total raised to $24.7 million. Tiger’s participation is especially notable considering that the VC firm recently scaled back investments, targeting $6 billion for its next fund — half the size of its prior investment vehicle.
“The round was preempted by Tiger Global and Index Ventures as they saw strong indications of product-market fit and believed that the time was right to start scaling the business,” Wehmeyer said. “This round will help us further accelerate our ongoing expansion in the U.S., where we have seen rapid growth, increasing our client base by 4x since the end of last year.”
To customers, Taktile offers a no-code interface that allows nontechnical employees to build, adjust and evaluate decision flows. Wehmeyer gave an example: Say a bank wanted to tweak its lending criteria by moving the minimum age to apply for an account from 25 to 21. Taktile would let the head of credit at the bank back-test the change and analyze its impact before actually implementing it.
Users can also leverage Taktile to experiment with off-the-shelf data integrations and monitor the performance of predictive models in their decision flows, Wehmeyer said, performing A/B tests to evaluate those flows. He claims that Branch, Moss, Rhino, Novo and Vivid Money are among the fintechs using the platform to power 280,000 decisions every day.
“From the very start, our technology has been used by advanced lenders that host machine learning models on our platform, which process thousands of variables from alternative data sources to assess creditworthiness of potential borrowers,” Wehmeyer added.
It’s a lot of sensitive data that Taktile handles. To allay the fears of privacy advocates, customers and regulators, Wehmeyer says that Taktile built technology that enables its clients to host decision flows in their country of choice and process data locally — a requirement for many regulatory agencies.
That won’t likely solve the different but related problem of algorithmic transparency. As a piece in The New York Times recently detailed, some lenders are increasingly drawing on outside-the-box data sources to evaluate creditworthiness, presenting opportunities to consumers historically barred from certain financial products but at the same time amplifying the risk of perpetuating biases or making inaccurate predictions.
Taktile puts the onus on its fintech customers to communicate the types of data and models they’re hosting and deploying via the platform.
“The decisioning needs of the financial industry are rapidly evolving, especially when it comes to infusing decisions with machine learning and applying data-driven optimization of decision flows,” Wehmeyer said. “These needs are not really met by legacy players in the market so we mostly compete with in-house solutions built by sophisticated teams.”
Wehmeyer also sees Noble, a platform that provides a rules-based engine to edit and launch credit models, as a rival. But he asserts that Taktile, which went through Y Combinator, has a “healthy” cost structure and plenty in the way of capital to hire talent.
“Before the slowdown in tech, fintechs were mainly driven by customer growth at any cost. Now, however, investors expect a clear path towards profitability, which makes sophisticated risk decisioning a hard requirement,” Wehmeyer said. “Building a complex decisioning system takes years of work and costs millions of dollars, so instead of going down this path, customers are turning to platforms like Taktile to quickly adapt to this new, volatile market dynamic.”
Taktile, which employs a team of 45 people, has offices in New York, London and Berlin. Wehmeyer says he expects headcount to grow to 70 people by the end of 2023.
https://techcrunch.com/2022/11/22/taktile-raises-20m-to-help-fintech-companies-test-and-deploy-decision-making-models/UK digital bank Atom gets £30m capital boost UK-based digital lender Atom bank has announced a £30m investment from existing backers to increase lending and drive business growth.
Spanish bank BBVA, Toscafund and Infinity Investment Partners are joining the funding round.
The investment follows a £75m funding round in February this year and takes the total capital investment during 2022 to more than £100m.
Atom plans to use the proceeds to support customers such as homeowners, first-time buyers and small and medium-sized businesses.
The lender, which began operation in 2016, said the funding also marks a development in Atom’s future initial public offering (IPO).
Atom bank has no physical branches and its savings, mortgage and loan services are offered through an app.
Atom CEO Mark Mullen said: “In recent weeks we surpassed £4.5bn in retail deposits having made waves with the pricing of our fixed and instant savers, opening up a void between banks such as Atom that pay a fair return on savings and those that are simply unresponsive to the market.
“Alongside continued growth in our mortgage and business lending books, the bank is proving that our clear focus on being fast, easy, and value for money is something that will keep benefiting both our customers and shareholders.”
Atom is also in talks with several entities including private equity firms to garner at least £50m in 2023, the Financial Times reported, citing sources.
The additional funds will be raised in the first half of next year and could be the last private capital raise before the bank goes public.
Atom’s IPO plans have been delayed due to volatile market conditions and now the bank plans to launch its IPO in 2024, a source aware of the bank’s plans said.
https://www.retailbankerinternational.com/news/atom-gets-30m-capital-boost/ – :~:text=UK-based%20digital%20lender%20Atom,are%20joining%20the%20funding%20round.
Cobee closes €40 million in a new series B round to bring the benefits revolution to new markets
Exciting stuff! At Cobee, we’ve just closed €40 million in a new series B round as part of our benefits revolution. Our objective is clear: to work every day to improve well-being in companies through flexibility, innovation and attracting the best talent.
At this point in our journey, we are proud to be supported by two great British investment companies that will help us to achieve even more. They are Octopus Ventures, an investment fund closely linked with tech start-ups such as ManyPets or Cazoo, and Notion Capital, which also has an interest in fintechs like Currencycloud or GoCardless, amongst others.
This new injection of capital comes at a crucial time for Cobee, following a busy year in which we’ve improved our product, developed new services and, above all, committed to strengthening all our business areas with the best talent. And what is our objective? To continue to grow in Spain and Portugal and begin to operate in other countries, as will soon be the case with Mexico.
More innovation and talent to improve well-being in companies
“Although the current market situation is complicated, we also know that if there is an ‘investable’ company around right now, then it is Cobee, due to our good metrics and efficiency we have demonstrated in the process. With this efficient growth and the market opportunity available to us, we simply required the additional capital to seize the opportunity before anyone else did,” states Borja Aranguren, co-founder and CEO of Cobee.
Since the latest round in 2021, a lot has happened at Cobee to justify this new leap forward. We have completely renewed our platforms in order to make them much more user-friendly, both for human resources departments and the thousands of users who have now activated their services with our company. Due to all these improvements and all our teamwork, we have managed to triple our business in just 12 months. Yes indeed: triple!
As we know that our benefits revolution still has a lot further to go, so fat this year we have committed to improving our business areas through new hirings. Some new colleagues have worked previously in other companies which at some stage have been in the same position in which Cobee finds itself today, such as Binance, Cabify and Gympass. All their experience will help us scale our products at an international level in the most satisfactory way.
“Both Octopus Ventures and Notion Capital had already analysed our market and other European start-ups, but were still not convinced. However, with us, it was a perfect match,” says Borja. Furthermore, he adds that “for Cobee, it’s very important for investors to understand our market and share the vision of what we want to build.”
For his part, Nick Sando, Principal at Octopus Ventures, points out that “the increase in competition and mobility in the employment market has transformed employee benefits. They have gone from being a ‘pleasant’ to ‘necessary’ tool for attracting and retaining talent. Cobee can play a crucial role in the employee benefit markets.”
Furthermore, Itxaso del Palacio, a partner in Notion Capital, states that “we are delighted to work with Cobee on this journey to help employees make the very most of their benefits. What is unique about Cobee, in comparison with other competitors in the sector, is their infrastructure. Cobee has built a flexible and scalable platform, which can be expanded to countries with tax benefits and highly regulated benefit schemes.”
Internationalisation, integrations and new products
What will we do at Cobee with the €40 million from the new round? Above all, continue to achieve our main ambition: extend the benefits revolution to the greatest number possible of companies.
Until now, Cobee has focused on localised products with a tax exemption, such as the `popular meal vouchers or travel tickets. The following step is to focus more on other macrotrends that are increasingly present in the benefits market for companies, and which don’t necessarily have to offer a tax advantage. This is the case with all the services linked to physical or emotional well-being, for example.
In our plans for the immediate future, we want to include this new benefits catalogue within our platforms in order to be increasingly aware of the needs of employees.
For that reason, we hope to continue to grow in terms of staff. In the next 18 months, there will be over 200 of us: highly qualified professionals who will help us promote this benefits revolution.
Our diverse and multicultural teams are ready to make the international leap to Latin America with our arrival in Mexico, and to continue to grow in southern Europe, beyond Spain and Portugal.
In this internationalisation, it is crucial for us to continue in our commitment to a simple, user-friendly and integrable platform with other technological solutions. We have just established a partnership with Factorial and Personio. In the mid-term, we will announce new integrations at both a national and international level in order to facilitate the work of human resources departments in Spain and abroad.
Cobee was founded in 2019 by Borja Aranguren, Nacho Travesí and Dani Olea and we have succeeded in getting this far thanks to all the people who have believed in our company. We are delighted to continue to grow with the support of our customers and employees who use our card and also with the support of our investors.