Narrative Science Raises $11 Million Series E

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In a round co-led by Sapphire Ventures and Jump Capital, advanced natural-language generation technology innovator Narrative Science has raised $11 million. The Series E round takes the company’s total funding to more than $40 million. Quoted in Crain’s Chicago Business, Sapphire Ventures partner Jai Das wasted few words in explaining Narrative Science’s edge. “People like to read,” Das said. In other words, it’s all about the Advanced NLG.

Narrative Science specializes in using advanced natural-language generation technology to turn ordinary numeric and symbolic data and visualizations into what the company calls “intelligent narratives.” These narratives express in language indistinguishable from that of a human author all the relevant insights and context from the chosen data. This data can take a variety of forms, including business intelligence reports, customer communications, and regulatory filings – any information that is based on quantifiable data can be turned into an intelligent narrative. “People who don’t have skill with spreadsheets, people who might not have skills with visualizations … they can still get to the insights within that data,” Kris Hammon, Narrative Science Chief Scientist explained during the company’s demo at FinovateFall.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Narrative Science demonstrated its Quill Financial solution at FinovateFall 2013. The company, which celebrated its seventh anniversary in April, has been on a partnership spree in recent months. A deal with Sisense in February will put Narrative Science’s Narratives for Business Intelligence API to work for the company’s business intelligence technology, Sisense Everywhere. Also in February, Narrative Science partnered with FactSet to integrate automated portfolio commentary within FactSet’s analytics and client reporting platform. We featured Narrative Science in our look at artificial intelligence in fintech back at the beginning of the year. Stuart Frankel is CEO.

Meniga Scores $8 Million to Help Banks Leverage their Data

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Digital banking solutions company Meniga has brought in $8 million (€7.5 million) today in a round led by by new investor Industrifonden with participation from previous investors Frumtak Investment Fund, Velocity Capital Private Equity, and Kjolfesta. This boosts the London-based company’s capital to almost $23 million. Meniga plans to use the funds to strengthen its R&D efforts and bolster its sales team to meet current demand.

Founded in Iceland in 2009, Meniga helps banks in 18 markets leverage their customer data to market and up-sell products and services to the banks’ 40 million end customers. The company’s clients include Santander, Intesa, ING Direct, Commerzbank and mBank. In addition to its focus on harnessing banking data, Meniga’s latest challenge is helping banks comply with PSD2 regulations.

Meniga CEO Georg Lúðvíksson and Chief Product Owner Finnur Magnusson debuted Meniga Challenges at FinovateEurope 2016 earlier this year. The API offers a variety of ways to help users with different savings personalities save for goals or simply compete with their friends to spend less. We featured Meniga’s Challenges in our recent overview of the savings technology horizon last month.

SwipeStox Lands $13 Million, Hints at Asia Expansion

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SwipeStox, the Tinder for stock trading startup announced this week that its parent company The NAGA Group has landed $13 million in financing. This boosts the company’s total funding to $15 million.

The backing comes from Chinese investment group FOSUN. Guo Guangchang, FOSUN Group’s founder and chairman, said he was compelled to invest in Germany-based NAGA Group because of the company’s “vision to disrupt the trading space” and its “experienced team and strong technology focus.”

Benjamin Bilski, Founder and CEO of SwipeStox added, “Together with FOSUN we will accelerate our product development for SwipeStox and expand into more areas in the trading ecosystem. We are aiming to become the largest social network for stock traders worldwide.” Hamburg, Germany-based SwipeStox also has offices in London and Sarajevo, Bosnia. The company’s app is open to users in the U.K., Spain, and Germany, and may soon expand to Asia. According to the press release, NAGA Group’s CEO Yasin Sebastian Qureshi mentioned the new relationship offers NAGA “a solid bridge into China mainland.”

SwipeStox launched in 2016 and nine months after going live the startup’s global user base had already traded more than $21 billion over the platform. Benjamin Bilski, along with Managing Director & Co-Founder, Wladimir Huber, showed off the SwipeStox platform at FinovateSpring 2016. At FinovateEurope 2016 in London, SwipeStox took home Best of Show honors for the debut of its platform. Also last year, the company won Wolves Summit 2016 and most recently launched a web trading platform to expand on its mobile services.

New Funding for Savedroid Boosts Total Capital to More than $22 Million

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What would it take to get you to save a little more of your hard-earned money? How about automatically setting aside a dollar every time Donald Trump tweeted? Or five bucks each time your favorite sports team loses a match? If unique and atypical motivations are your idea of a savings solution, then savedroid has the app for you.

And this week we learned that the German startup had picked up funding from investment bank Rhineland-Palatinate and a group of angel investors including Debjit Chaudhuri, founder of Traxpay and former Infosys manager. The amount of the funding was not disclosed (Crunchbase reports €20 million) but savedroid says that the company’s total capital, which includes a million euro seed round, now stands at more than $22 million. Company founder Dr. Yassin Hankir says the funds will help “accelerate user growth.”

Founded in 2015, savedroid is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. In its demonstration at FinovateSpring 2016, the company introduced the term “smooves” into the PFM lexicon, showing how the savedroid app makes it easy to “turn everyday activities into automated savings.” By using technology to set aside small amounts of money every time a certain event takes place – a combination of positive, negative, and even random incentives – users can improve their personal finances in ways that can improve their overall lifestyle, as well.

The company launched its savings solution in the summer of 2016 and, in February, added an AI-based, savings algorithm to the app. Profiled last fall in Frankfurter Allgemeine, we interviewed savedroid’s Hankir for our recent feature on savings technology.

Moneytree Sees Green with $9 Million Funding Round

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Japanese personal finance app Moneytree has landed $9 million (¥ 1 billion) in a series B round recently. This is the company’s third round of funding and brings its total raised to $10.5 million. SBI Investment led the round. Mizuho Capital, SMBC Venture Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Fukuoka Technology Partners, Hiroshima Venture Capital, Senshu Ikeda Capital, and Baillie Gifford also participated.

The Tokyo-based company will use the funds to expand its personal asset management, expense reimbursement, and corporate account apps. Moneytree’s founder and CEO, Paul Chapman, explained the big picture plans for the new capital, saying, “Moneytree will be moving on to the next stage of growth… More than ever, we will focus on maintaining the security of our services, protecting privacy, and transparency of information.” Chapman added, “In addition, while supporting the conversion of the financial industry to digital banking, and while contributing to the foundation of the accounting industry’s cloud accounting system, we will continue to devote our efforts to constructing an industry-wide ecosystem based on users. Furthermore, we have set our sights on the globalization of our services through deploying Japanese technology overseas.”

Moneytree was founded in 2012. At FinovateAsia 2016 in Hong Kong, the company debuted Moneytree LINK. Moneytree’s head of platform, Mark Makdad and Chief of Marketing, Zach Taub, demonstrated how the new mobile SDK connects their MT LINK aggregation platform to third party products and services. MT Link is in use with 20 financial institutions, including megabanks, regional banks, and accounting software firms, which helps it reach more than 200,000 businesses.

SWITCH Lands $400,000 Angel Investment

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SWITCH, a Seattle-based startup that makes it easy to manage your online payment information, has raised $400,000 in funding from angel investors. The company, which made its Finovate debut at FinovateSpring last year, now boasts $1.9 million in total capital.

Chris Hopen, SWITCH co-founder and CEO, called his technology the “first of its kind, credit card updater for online accounts.” SWITCH makes it easy for card holders to update their payment methods at online merchants and e-commerce sites, as well as for subscriptions and recurring repayments like cable and utility bills. It also helps card issuers get new and replacement cards to cardholders faster, and provides issuers with analytics and data on card usage to better understand their competition. Hopen highlighted the benefit this analytics component provided for issuers, saying “If I’m in 10,000 wallets, I want to know who my top five competitors are in those wallets, so I can do something about increasing my profile and getting more sites using my card.”

SWITCH was founded in 2014 by Chris Hopen and David Pool. The company demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016, and has 10 employees. SWITCH opened early access to its free, credit card updating service in February.

Currencycloud Collects $25 Million in New Funding

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In a Series D round led by GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) and featuring participation by existing investors Anthemis, Notion Capital, Rakuten FinTech Fund, and Sapphire Ventures, cross-border payments innovator Currencycloud has raised $25 million (£20 million in funding).  The new capital takes Currencycloud’s total funding to more than $59 million.

Pointing to the rise of what he called “the building block economy,” Currencycloud CEO Mike Laven explained how firms like his add value and create new opportunities in the market. “Companies can combine services such as AWS, Google Maps, Stripe, and Twilio to build innovative new businesses fast and without the overhead of expensive proprietary systems,” Laven said. “Currencycloud provides a set of multi-currency payment and conversion tools that are helping hundreds of companies globalize fast.”

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Pictured: Chief Commercial Officer John Hammond demonstrating the Currencycloud Payment Engine at FinovateFall 2016.

Tom Hulme, general partner at GV echoed Laven’s observation, saying, “We believe in empowering developers by making it easier for them to add scalable services to their products, ideally with simple APIs,” Hulme added, “Currencycloud is the leader in providing cross-border payment services in this manner, a real need as companies globalize.” Norton Capital partner Jos White credited Currencycloud with “powering the global economy of the future,” while Rakuten Fintech Fund managing partner Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel pointed to the company’s “flagship deals” in 2016 which he said “validated the market opportunity and … huge momentum (for) 2017.” This list of “flagship deals” includes Currencycloud’s partnership with Arkea Banking Services (a subsidiary of Credit Mutuel Arkea), its agreement with fintech data control services provider, Duco, and the deal with Fidor Bank, forged late in 2015.

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in London, U.K., Currencycloud demonstrated its payment engine at FinovateFall 2016. The company added former Misys executive Ed Addario as CTO in January and, last fall, announced its participation in Monitise’s FINkit partner program supporting collaboration between fintechs and banks. A member of FinTech Forward 20’s Companies to Watch list, Currencycloud also participated in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2015, where VP of Engineering Rachel Nienaber and Liam McAndrew discussed how the company re-built its API. For more about our upcoming developer’s event, FinDEVr New York, coming next week on March 21 and 22, visit our FinDEVr New York page.

Dream Payments Closes $10 Million Series A

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Canadian payments innovator Dream Payments raised $10 million in new funding this week. The Series A round was led by the investing division of Fairfax Financial Holdings, FairVentures, and takes the company’s total capital to more than $17 million. In addition to FairVentures, Connecticut Innovations, Real Ventures, and angel investors also participated.

Citing the timing of the investment, Dream Payments CEO Brent Ho-Young said the funding “propels Dream into the American market at a perfect time to serve the critical needs of businesses that are struggling to support emerging payment technologies like mobile wallets.” The company plans to use the new capital to fuel expansion in the U.S., increase its presence in its native Canada, and drive development of its third party app ecosystem. Connecticut Innovations CEO Matt McCooe praised its “unique go-to-market strategy and product offering” while Janet Bannister, General Partner of Real Ventures, spoke from the position as an “early investor,” saying “(Dream Payments is) experiencing exceptional growth as the only payments cloud powering mobile commerce for the leading North American financial institutions.”

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Pictured: Chief Marketing Officer Christian Ali demonstrating the Dream Mobile Point of Sale solution.

Dream Payments Cloud enables businesses across Canada to accept mobile payments by accessing a cloud-based, mobile point of sale (mPOS) solution. The company partners with financial institutions, who can then offer the PaaS solution to their business customers. In this way, Dream Payments helps consumers and businesses take advantage of both the latest and their preferred payment methods anytime, wherever they are.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Dream Payments demonstrated its mPOS solution at FinovateSpring 2015. Last month the company announced a partnership with Intuit QuickBooks to enables small business owners and entrepreneurs to accept a wider variety of payments including chip and PIN, cash, and mobile wallet. And, last fall, the company won the Global Fintech Challenge, taking home a $1.5 million investment award. In addition to Intuit QuickBooks, Dream Payments includes TD Merchant Solutions and TruShield Insurance among its partners and, later this month, expects to announce a new partnership with JP Morgan Chase.

Qapital Raises $12 Million, Adds Debit Card Functionality

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Personal finance app Qapital pulled in some capital of its own today– $12 million worth, to be exact. This Series A investment brings the Sweden-based company’s total funding to $23 million.

Notable investors in today’s round include Industrifonden, Northzone, Rocketship VC and Anthemis Exponential Ventures, among others. Qapital has lofty goals for the new funds, planning to “strengthen [its] platform and lay the groundwork for continued reinvention in the financial services sector.”

Getting a head start on “strengthening the platform,” Qapital is launching debit accounts and payments capability. The addition of these features marks a pivot in Qapital’s strategy from a savings-only app into more of a traditional banking services provider. Offering debit card functionality will not only drive users to the app, it will also lead to a new revenue stream from interchange fees.

Qapital’s goal-focused platform uses behavioral economics to turn consumers’ everyday actions into positive financial habits. The company’s founders George Friedman and Erik Akterin plan to “rewrite the rules of retail banking” by helping millennials “translate money into happiness.” In the three years since it launched, 180,000 users have opened and funded savings accounts on the Qapital platform. The company is adding 10,000 new accounts per week.

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George Friedman (CEO & Founder) and Henrik Wrangel (Chief Product Officer) demo Qapital at FinovateSpring 2014

Pär-Jörgen Pärson, New York-based Partner at Northzone said in the press release, “The fantastic user engagement speaks for itself: the team has built a product that customers really love and the app is consistently rated one of the best personal finance apps in the industry. With millennials looking for banking solutions that put user experience first, we are excited about what the future holds.”

The company debuted Qapital for iPhone at FinovateSpring 2014 and launched on Android about a year ago. Earlier this year, Qapital was listed by PC Magazine as one of the best mobile finance apps of 2017.

Euronext Invests $10 Million in Algomi; Expands Joint Venture Agreement

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Fixed income technology innovator and FinovateFall alum Algomi raised $10 million in funding today. The capital from Euronext is the company’s most recent investment since a 2016 infusion of an undisclosed amount from former Thomson Reuters CEO and current Algomi strategic advisor, Tom Glocer. Euronext’s minority stake in the company comes with governance rights and a included a decision to globally expand a 10-year joint venture agreement between the two companies announced back in November.

“This long term commitment to Algomi by Euronext cements our position in the market,” Algomi CEO and co-founder Stu Taylor said. “We are particularly excited by the access to the Euronext network of global regulated exchange and the liquidity opportunities this will provide our clients.” Underscoring the crucial challenge of liquidity when it comes to the fixed income markets, Taylor added, “(this) will allow us to bring Algomi’s unique bond information network to new parts of the credit market, something which has been very positively received by our existing bank clients.”

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Pictured: Algomi CEO Stu Taylor demonstrating Honeycomb at FinovateFall 2014.

Algomi specializes in technologies that optimize fixed income trading between sales professionals, traders, and clients. The company’s solutions collect and organize data points inside the FIs credit trading system and uses custom algorithms to drive the most appropriate fixed income trading opportunities to the most appropriate sales professional in order to facilitate the optimal, risk-free transaction. The company calls its buyside interface, Honeycomb, “smart marketing” that raises client marketing to the level of the highest quality online retailing.

Euronext sees the combination of Algomi’s technology and its own position as a leading exchange as a boon for both companies. Stephane Boujnah, Euronext CEO, cited the diversification of revenues and expansion into markets outside of Europe as upsides of a partnership he called “central to our fixed income ambitions and our wider FICC diversification plans as part of our ‘Agility for Growth’ plan.” Euronext’s Head of Fixed Income, Rates and FX, Paul Humphrey will join Algomi’s board of directors as part of the investment.

Founded in 2012 and based in London, Algomi demonstrated its technology, Honeycomb, at FinovateFall 2014. The company’s buyside GUI, Honeycomb promotes market efficiency by giving investors visibility into the ability of different dealers to move illiquid block trades without roiling the markets. The company’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Usman Khan was listed as one of the “40 most exciting people in fintech in the U.K.” by Business Insider magazine last August, the same month the company introduced its SaaS, sell-side engine, Synchronicity. Last spring, Algomi teamed up with IPC Systems to support users of its Honeycomb technology. Algomi was named to FinTechCity’s FinTech50 for 2016 and was featured by Tech Tour in its 2016 Growth 50 of the fastest-growing technology companies in Europe.