European FinTech deals this week include Pillar and Seon
We feature Q&As with Javier Correa of PostFinance AG and Hussam EL-Sheikh of 9fin
Scaling Enterprise FinTech with Javier Correa of PostFinance AG
1. A year since the first lockdowns- is this a good time to be building or scaling an Enterprise FinTech (/ InsurTech) firm in Europe?
Yes, generally it always is, as long as there is a strong value proposition behind and clearly articulated. There is incremental talent looking to jump into an exciting journey. Customers and prospects have been made strongly aware of additional needs and/or of the advantages from innovative business models/technologies/products and services. In addition, deep pools of capital looking for attractive opportunities to support these teams.
7 Questions with Hussam EL-Sheikh of 9fin
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.
Hey I’m Huss, CTO & Co-founder of 9fin. I think I’d describe myself as an engineer in every sense of the word. So, via a degree in Aerospace Engineering, taking apart my siblings’ toys as a child, learning programming at school from age 12, I find myself now running a technology startup serving up news, data and analysis to the financial markets. I love Formula 1, and it’s been a very stressful (but exciting) 2021 championship this year. I’m trying to get better at badminton after taking it up for the first time a couple of years ago… At least my height lets me get away with not being any good yet!
UK-based Pillar picks up €15.6 million to tackle credit access problem for migrants
The reality is that new immigrants are excluded from the financial system, on a global level, and it’s a problem that creates financial disparity, social hardship and exclusion. On a mission to eradicate this discriminatory issue, Pillar has just picked up about €15.6 million in pre-seed funding to build a new credit platform.
The funding was led by VC firms Global Founders Capital and Backed VC. A number of high profile angels have also contributed to the raise, including the founders of WageStream, Peter Briffet and Portman Wills as well as the powerhouse investor and former VP and investor of AirBnB Oliver Jung.
Founded in 2021 by well-known Revolut alumni Ashutosh Bhatt and experienced fintech CTO, Adam Lewis, Pillar’s technology will provide individuals moving to new countries with access to a variety of credit products in their new locations, that would have previously been unattainable.
With the current structure of the credit referencing market, a consumer cannot take their credit file from one country to another. As such, nearly all immigrants find themselves excluded from everyday products such as credit cards and loans. Those that do manage to access a product find themselves paying a disproportionately higher cost of borrowing.
At the heart of Pillar’s product is a proprietary Open Banking-led data and analytics engine that will power the global scalability of the platform. The launch is planned for Q3 in 2022.
Ashutosh Bhatt, CEO of Pillar, commented: “Ever since I moved to the UK and found I couldn’t access any of the everyday products I had in India this has been a problem I have been passionate about solving. I arrived earning a good salary at Barclays and found I couldn’t even get an iPhone! Fourteen years later, and the world of credit still hasn’t changed, so we have set upon building a globally scalable platform that breaks down data silos and credit borders as well as solves this massive problem faced by financially secure people moving to a new country.”
Fintech Seon, which Specializes in Fraud Prevention, Acquires $94M in Funding
Seon, a startup that’s focused on assisting Fintechs like Revolut with addressing online fraud, has secured $94 million in capital, in order to implement various tools for preventing sanctions evasion by Russia.
The London-headquartered firm secured the funding via an investment round that was led by IVP, which is the Silicon Valley-based investment company that has supported Netflix and Twitter.
IVP Partner Michael Miao has now joined Seon’s board.
Existing investors Creandum, an early Spotify investor, as well as PortfoLion, have contributed to the raise as well. Angel investors such as Coinbase COO Emilie Choi and UiPath CEO Daniel Dines joined as well.
Its software analyzes a client’s email address, phone numbers and various other data points in order to create a “digital footprint,” and then leverages machine learning to figure out if they’re legitimate or suspicious.
The company has been valued at $500 million following its latest round. This, according to sources cited by CNBC (which claimed to be familiar with the matter).
Tamas Kadar, CEO and Co-founder at Seon, noted that his firm has seen greater demand for tools that identify transfers from sanctioned persons and other entities (in addition to “politically exposed persons” during the Russian invasion of Ukraine).
Part of the proceeds will be channeled towards the potential use of Fintech apps for money laundering and sanctions evasion.
Kadar said that they are “working on an arm to support this need from our client base.”
Seon is also currently working on a function that should be able to verify companies online and determine if their shareholders have been placed on sanctions lists.
These types of tools may identify if someone is “just creating shell companies to launder money,” or “as a fake identity to hide their assets,” Kadar added.
Robinhood to Buy London-based Fintech Ziglu
Investing.com — Robinhood Markets Inc (NASDAQ:HOOD) revealed in a post on its blog on Tuesday that it has signed a deal to acquire Ziglu, a UK-based “electronic money institution and cryptoasset firm.”
Shares of the popular trading app maker rose 3.4% on Tuesday.
Robinhood is waiting to launch in the UK after previously halting plans. However, the deal for Ziglu will help accelerate its expansion in the UK and Europe, the company said.
Ziglu customers are able to buy and sell 11 cryptocurrencies, earn yield through its “Boost” products, pay using a debit card and spend money abroad without fees, Robinhood said in its post.
“Ziglu’s impressive team of deeply experienced financial services and crypto experts will help us accelerate our global expansion efforts,” said Vlad Tenev, CEO and Co-Founder of Robinhood Markets.
Adding: “Together with the Ziglu team, we’ll work to leverage the best of both companies, exploring new ways to innovate and break down barriers for customers across the UK and Europe.”
Following the news, JMP Securities analyst said the deal should accelerate Robinhood’s crypto expansion.
Mundi Ventures opens €250-million fund with €120 million to back insuretech firms
The Insurtech Fund II will invest in Series A and Series B with inflows of up to €5 to €10 million in Europe
Madrid-based venture capital firm Mundi Ventures has rolled out its second insuretech fund. The Insurtech Fund II will focus on the insurance sector and cover insuretech as well as fintech, deeptech, or healthtech startups that work with the insurance sector. It has already opened the fund with more than €120 million, out of €250 million it is seeking.
Founded by Moises Sanchez and Javier Santiso, the fund will invest in Series A and Series B with inflows of up to €5 to €10 million in Europe. With the new fund, it is doubling the size and expanding with several additions in the investment team, operations and senior advisors. It has already invested in France-based Convelio. Other investments are pending in the U.K.
The insurtech fund currently has 6 unicorns in its kitty, including Wefox (Berlin), Klarna (Stockholm), Job&Talent (Madrid) and Shift Technology (Paris).
Meet us at:
Money2020 Europe, Amsterdam: 7-9 June 2022
South Summit 2022, Madrid: 8–10 June 2022
SuperVentures Berlin: 14–15 June 2022
Digital Insurance Agenda, Amsterdam: 29–30 June 2022
Meet Our Partners:
IDA Ireland https://www.idaireland.com
Opportunity Network https://www.opportunitynetwork.com/fintech-forum
FinTech Innovators https://fintech-i.com/?sumsrc=ftf
FN FinTech 40 https://www.fnlondon.com