Multiple-Time Best of Show Winner Avoka Raises $12 Million in New Funding

Digital customer acquisition technology innovator Avoka has raised $12 million (16 million AUD) in equity funding in a round managed by Moelis Australia. Investors included both existing and professional backers, and the company says the funds will be used to support growth plans already underway in Australia, North America, and Europe. “Our planned pace of growth continues across all three of our target geographies,” Avoka founder and CEO Phil Copeland said, “and this financing allows us to maintain an aggressive expansion in our technology, sales, partner and customer success organizations.”

Avoka added in a statement that the company plans also to “focus on investment and hiring to support current and projected customers.” This includes a plan to boost staff numbers by 50% by the end of the current fiscal year. This week’s funding, which echoes a similar investment from last summer, takes Avoka’s total capital to more than $24 million.

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Avoka most recently demonstrated its technology at FinovateEurope 2017. Hali Khan, Director of Business Development, showed how Transact Insights, a new module of Avoka’s Transact 5 platform, gives businesses the insights and analytics necessary to ensure optimization of the account opening experience. With regard to digital account opening, for example, Transact Insights reveals areas of abandonment, frequent error, as well as where users are spending the most time in order to help business analysts make specific changes and improvements.

Avoka provides solutions for a variety of industries within financial services, including retail, business, and commercial banking, wealth management, superannuation, and insurance. The company, a multiple Finovate Best of Show award-winner, includes five of the top 10 banks in Australia, four of Europe’s 10 leading banks, and eight of the top 50 banks in the United States among its customers.

In August, Avoka announced record growth for a second year in a row and in June, the company introduced its CX Design for Banking offering to help FIs decrease application abandonment and boost conversion rates. Last month, Deloitte recognized Avoka’s 1.76x revenue growth over the past three years, adding the firm to its Technology Fast 50 roster.

Payoneer Lands Funding from China Broadband Capital

Cross-border payments company Payoneer announced today it has received funding from China Broadband Capital (CBC). While the amount of funding was undisclosed, the company specified that this week’s Series E-1 round follows the $220+ million Series E round received last year. This adds to the company’s total funding amount, which previously stood at $270 million.

This marks the second China-based investor for Payoneer, which picked up an investment from PingAn in 2014. Scott Galit, CEO of Payoneer, referred to CBC as “one of the most prestigious and respected investors” and noted that the investor’s knowledge of the China market align them very well.

The company, which facilitates mass payouts for businesses looking to transfer money internationally, will use the funds to strengthen its global partner program and to bolster investment in its China operations. Edward Tina, Chairman of CBC said, “Payoneer is positioned better than any other payments company to help Chinese companies grow globally, as well as help non-Chinese companies sell into China.” He added, “Payoneer’s global footprint, banking ecosystem, and proprietary compliance infrastructure will position Payoneer as the preeminent solution to help companies of all sizes grow internationally.”

At FinovateAsia 2013, Payoneer launched a commercial account that offers businesses the ability to receive funds from a global network. Payoneer’s money-transfer solutions enable millions of businesses from more than 200 countries to reach new audiences by facilitating cross-border payments. The technology supports companies such as Newegg, Airbnb, and Fiverr; as well as Amazon, Google, Airbnb, and Getty Images, who use Payoneer’s mass payout services.

Earlier this fall, Payoneer ranked 1,912 on the Inc. 5,000 list, making the company a five-time Inc. 5,000 honoree. In June, Payoneer opened offices in the U.K. to take advantage of the Brexit opportunity, and in March the company earned a spot on CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list.

PayStand Scores $6 Million in Series A Funding

In a round led by BlueRun Ventures and featuring participation from Cervin Ventures, Serra Ventures, TiE, and Capital for Founders, B2B payment platform PayStand has raised $6 million in Series A funding. The company says that it will use the additional capital to build up its account receivable systems and help launch its new free accounts payable product line – which entered beta availability today. The Series A takes PayStand’s total capital to more than $8 million.

With self-driving cars and rockets to Mars on one side of the balance and paper checks and spreadsheets on the other, PayStand founder and CEO Jeremy Almond made clear which side of history his company was on. Pointing out that “most U.S business payments still run on manual, pre-internet systems,” Almond said, “PayStand takes the best of automation, customization, and blockchain technology to finally bring B2B payments into the Digital Age.”

PayStand CEO and founder Jeremy Almond during his FinDEVr presentation, Comparing the Strengths and Weaknesses of Different Payment Types.

BlueRun Ventures General Partner Jonathan Ebinger added that PayStand’s emphasis on back-office payments in the enterprise “melds seamlessly into our investment themes of digital transformation.” Saying “we see big things ahead for PayStand,” Ebinger added that PayStand represents many of the best practices and “key financial processes that are vital to our economy.”

PayStand also announced the beta availability of its new AP solution. The technology automates the accounts payable process, eliminating the need for paper checks while providing full data tracking throughout the entire cash cycle to maximize visibility and control. The early-access AP release is free to all beta participants.

Founded in 2013, PayStand leverages blockchain and SaaS technologies to provide a smart billing and B2B payment network based on digitization and automation. The company’s Payments-as-a-Service helps businesses lower time-to-cash, cut costs, and generate additional revenue. Headquartered in Scotts Valley, California, PayStand participated in our first developer’s conference, FinDEVr 2014 in Silicon Valley. At the event, Almond presented “Comparing the Strengths and Weaknesses of Different Payment Types,” as an introduction to his company’s multi-payment network technology.

TrueAccord Lands $22 Million to Humanize Debt Collection

Online debt collection service TrueAccord received $22 million in funding this week. Leading the round was Arbor Ventures. A mix of existing and new investors, including Arbor, Nyca Investment Partnership, Assurant Growth Investing, Caffeinated Capital Fund, Felicis Venture, TenOneTen and Crystal Towers, also participated. The round brings the company’s total funding to almost $34.5 million.

In an announcement, the company noted this comes after a period of “sustained and rapid growth”– between 2016 and 2017 TrueAccord grew its collection accounts by 2.5x. The funds will be used to support TrueAccord’s strategic growth initiatives, including product development, compliance functionality, client acquisition and retention, and hiring. Melissa Guzy, co-founder and managing partner of Arbor Ventures, said that TrueAccord’s “unique approach” is making a “positive impact” on the debt collections industry “by empowering many of the estimated 77 million people in debt, to get on a path to better financial health.”

TrueAccord was founded in 2013 as a debt recovery platform. The company has worked with more than 2 million people in debt by creating flexible payment solutions, helping businesses recover billions of dollars in lost revenue. TrueAccord’s clients include top 10 issuers, leading creditors, and companies such as Yelp! and LendUp. Since 2014, the company has facilitated more than $1.5 billion of debt repayment on its platform.

“It was the personal experience of dealing with a debt collector that made me realize the traditional collections industry was ripe for disruption with technology innovation and a more human approach,” said Ohad Samet, Chief Executive Officer of TrueAccord. “With changing consumer preferences, strong regulatory support for innovation, and clients who understand a customer-focus collection process is good for their business, we’re experiencing tremendous demand from the market. We are seizing this opportunity to use machine learning to humanize debt collection for good.”

Ohad Samet demoed the company’s SaaS solution at FinovateSpring 2015 along with CTO, Nadav Samet. TrueAccord landed a place on CB Insights’ Fintech 250 list this spring and contributor Jim Bruene featured TrueAccord in his piece, The Great Rewiring of Financial Services: Consumer Debt Collection.

TransferWise Raises $280 Million in Series E

In a round led by Old Mutual Global Investors and venture capital firm IVP, TransferWise has raised $280 million in new funding. The new capital, which takes the London-based fintech’s total financing to more than $396 million, will be used to help the money transfer innovator grow its services and expand its global presence – particularly in Asia. The Series D also will enable TransferWise to build on its newly-launched service that helps SMEs reduce or even avoid conversion fees by letting them hold money in different currencies.

Also participating in the round were new investors Sapphire Ventures and World Innovation Lab, as well as existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Ballie Gifford, and Richard Branson. TransferWise now has an estimated valuation of $1.6 billion.

Quoted in Reuters, TransferWise finance director Matthew Briers noted that the company was “moving significant amounts of money on a monthly basis,” but there is still room for growth. “There are still many trillions of dollars that are moving cross-border,” he said. In addition to plans to expand into the Asia-Pacific region, TransferWise added that it will launch in India “within the next year.” An API that will enable financial institutions to readily access Transferwise’s platform is also in the cards, the company said. Bloomberg’s coverage of the news also featured company chairman and former CEO Taavet Hinrikus hinting at the “very high likelihood” of TransferWise becoming a public company, though Hinrikus added it was “still quite a number of years away.”

TransferWise demonstrated its platform at FinovateEurope 2013. Founded in 2010, the company has more than two million customers and more than 750 currency routes. Last month, TransferWise unveiled new fees for GBP transfers, a month after the company was named to the European Fintech Awards & Conference’s European Fintech 100. Bringing its Borderless Accounts solution to Canada in August, TransferWise announced in July that its customers could use ApplePay to send money globally via its platform – the same month co-founder Kristo Käärmann took over as CEO of the company. With more than $1 billion in transferred funds each month, TransferWise reached profitability in May of this year.

BondIT Closes $14 Million in Funding

Advisory tools company BondIT landed $14 million in funding from China-based Fosun Group. The investment is a strategic one– Fosun is now a major shareholder of BondIT and has gained representation on the Israel-based company’s Board of Directors. When combined with an earlier seed round, this brings the company’s total funding to $14.3 million.

BondIT’s Chief Revenue Officer Adrian Gostick, said that the funds will have a “significant, positive impact” on the business. The company will use the investment to accelerate its expansion into the U.S., which, Gostick notes, is the world’s largest fixed income market. Gostick added, “…riding on Fosun’s global financial network, BondIT is committed to becoming a leader in the market to greatly improve the efficiency of the financial sector.”

Powered by machine learning algorithms, the company’s tools empower advisors to automate the optimization of fixed-income portfolio creation and management. Each individual investor selects 12 different constraint dimensions to personalize their portfolio. BondIT leverages these data points, combined with AI, to create algorithms that offer flexibility in optimizing risk and returns in non-linear, multi-dimensional portfolio selections.

Above: BondIT’s COO, Eran Nachshon, demos at FinovateFall 2016

Etai Ravid, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BondIT said, “The long-term vision of BondIT is to bring significant efficiency to the global bond markets through the application of artificial intelligence and data science, and help our customers gain a competitive advantage through increased productivity and better client centricity.

Founded in 2012, BondIT’s COO Eran Nachshon debuted the technology at FinovateFall 2016 in New York. We featured the company, along with an interview with Ravid, in a blog post last year. BondIT was also highlighted in our round-up of top B2B wealth tech players.

Two-Time Best of Show Winner Finn.ai Raises $3 Million in New Funding

In a round led by Yaletown Partners, Flying Fish Partners, and former CEO and Chairman of Absolute Software John Livingston, virtual banking assistant developer Finn.ai has raised $3 million in funding. The company will use the funding to add to its team – especially data scientists, engineers, and banking industry experts – as well as to support Finn.ai’s expansion in the U.S., and around the world.

“Finn.ai is built from the ground up specifically to help banks and credit unions transform the way they engage with customers,” Co-Founder and CEO Jake Tyler said. “(This) makes banking simpler, more accessible, more human, and ultimately (helps) to build trust and engagement between banks and their customers.

The funding for Finn.ai, which also featured the participation of an “experienced angel syndicate … of senior technology and banking executives,” coincides with news of the company’s partnership with ATB Financial. In this deal, announced earlier this week, Finn.ai’s technology will enable ATB Financial to provide the first, fully-featured, AI-powered virtual banking assistant on Facebook Messenger to its 700,000 customers.

In addition to the funding, Finn.ai announced that banking veteran Carrie Russell will join the company as Strategic Executive Adviser. Russell was formerly Chief Marketing Officer at D+H (now Finastra) and served as SVP for Retail Banking Products at TD Bank. Citing a need for banks to “move beyond transactional banking to build deeper, more personal relationships with customers,” Russell said, “I believe Finn.ai is the right partner to do this, acting as a proactive virtual assistant to help customers understand, plan, and take action to improve their financial lives.”

Finn.ai won Best of Show in its FinovateAsia debut last year in Hong Kong, and took home top honors again when the company demoed its virtual banking assistant last month at FinovateFall. Finn.ai has earned recognition from both Capegemini’s global InnovatorsRace and the VivaTech conference in Paris. The company was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Credit Sesame Raises More than $42 Million, Unveils Robo Advisor for Credit

Credit service and financial wellness company Credit Sesame has raised more than $42 million in funding. Featuring new and existing investors such as Menlo Ventures, Inventus Capital, Globespan Capital, IA Capital, and SF Capital, the combined equity ($26.6 million) and venture debt ($15.5 million) financing will take Credit Sesame’s total capital to more than $77 million. The funding will help speed Credit Sesame’s growth, enable the company to hire more than 100 new employees over the next 12 months, and “advance its analytics, robo advisor and machine learning technologies.”

That’s right. Robo advisor. In addition to the company’s funding announcement, Credit Sesame founder and CEO Adrian Nazari introduced new robo advisory technology that enables consumers to automate the management of their credit and loans. Credit Sesame sees this as “addressing the liability side of the balance sheet” rather than the asset side typically watched over by most robo advisors.

Credit Sesame CEO and founder Adrian Nazari demonstrating the company’s credit-based PFM solution at FinovateSpring 2015.

“While many companies have spent the last few years catching up to our free credit score offering for consumers, Credit Sesame has been developing and proving robo advisor technology.” Nazari said. He added, “this technology translates consumer financial and credit information into simple and actionable steps that consumers can easily understand and utilize to improve their financial profile and leverage their credit.”

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Mountain View, California, Credit Sesame demonstrated its credit-based PFM for a co-branded environment at FinovateSpring 2015. With more than 12 million members, Credit Sesame’s mobile and online solutions give consumers free access to their credit profile, including their credit score, credit report grades and monitoring, as well as interactive tools and tips for securing better borrowing options such as low or no-balance credit card offers and debt consolidation loans.

Credit Sesame has achieved 100% annual growth for the past three years, reaching profitability earlier this year. This spring, the company launched a new service to pre-qualify members for credit cards. In February, Nazari was named to the Entrepreneur’s List of Most Inspirational Leaders in 2017, one month after earning similar recognition from Inc.com.

SelfScore Rebrands as Deserve, Closes on $12 Million in Funding

Consumer analytics company SelfScore rebranded to Deserve today. The California-based company is still committed to providing underbanked Americans with access to credit, and to fuel that mission, Deserve has received $12 million in funding. Today’s round was led by Accel– with participation from Aspect Ventures, Pelion Ventures, Mission Holdings, Alumni Venture Group, and GDP Venture– and brings Deserve’s total funding to $27 million.

Deserve offers a credit card designed for Generation Z, whose members currently range in age from 6 to 21 years. This group accounts for 25% of the U.S. population and is projected to make up 40% of consumers by 2020. Because Generation Z consumers have thin-to-no credit files, they have difficulty accessing credit products at a fair rate. To combat this, Deserve uses an algorithm to predict credit potential by analyzing consumer attributes such as education, current financial health, and future employability. Sameer Gandhi of Accel described this application of machine learning as a “big opportunity to evolve past the antiquated FICO system in a technologically sophisticated way.”

The company’s Deserve Edu card is specifically focused on students, including international students. The card offers benefits such as an 18-month subscription to Amazon Prime Student, 1% cash-back on all purchases, and no fees on foreign transactions. And, for international students, there is no SSN required. To promote and encourage consumers to build their credit score, the company offers incentives for consumers to upgrade to the Deserve Pro Mastercard, which features 3% cashback on travel and entertainment, 2% cash back on restaurants, and 1% unlimited cash-back on all other purchases.

Under the SelfScore brand, the company assessed credit for more than 100,000 international students. Now, under Deserve, the company will target all 20 million college students and another 20 million young adults in the United States. “When I immigrated to America in 1995, one of the hardest parts of settling down in a new country was my lack of financial security and independence,” said Kalpesh Kapadia, founder and CEO of Deserve. “A credit card is one of many tools that was not accessible to me. This is why I wanted to implement technology that rethinks the process for offering access to fair and simple credit. Deserve represents that mission.”

Founded in 2012, Deserve demoed a consumer behavior analytics service at FinovateFall 2014 under the name SelfScore. The company’s accounts are issued by Utah-based Celtic Bank. Check out our profile of Deserve in our Finovate Debuts series in 2014.

BLUERUSH Raises $1.3 Million in New Funding

BLUERUSH closed a non-brokered private placement this week, raising $1.3 million in capital. Participating in the funding were Round 13 Capital Founders Fund, which was responsible for $750,000 of the financing, and newly appointed director Steve Taylor, who subscribed for $250,000.

“This financing will allow us to ramp up our sales and R&D efforts as we continue on our path toward a recurring revenue model,” BLUERUSH President and CEO Larry Lubin said. “The investors in the private placement are highly strategic and bring decades of experience in high growth technology companies. They will be a valuable asset to us going forward.”

BLUERUSH President and CEO Larry Lubin demonstrating INDIVIDEO at FinovateFall 2017.

In a blog post at the BLUERUSH website, the company noted that the funding will also boost its digital platform strategy, providing momentum for the company’s sales enablement platform DIGITALREACH and its personalized video/rich media content platform, INDIVIDEO. Rielle Ullberg, Digital Marketing and Sales Coordinator for BLUERUSH wrote, “the demand for personalized digital experiences continues to increase; specifically within the realm of financial services.” Ullberg noted that the company’s client list includes “some of the biggest and most progressive banks, brokers, and insurance companies in North America.”

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, BLUERUSH demonstrated its “advice engine” INDIVIDEO at FinovateFall 2017. The company, which also has offices in Montreal, Quebec and in Herndon, Virginia, leverages AI and big data visualization to create more engaging customer experiences for clients in financial services, healthcare, and media. From strategy development and lead generation to video marketing and interactive tools and training, BLUERUSH helps brands develop customized strategies to grow their businesses.

In financial services, BLUERUSH’s technology simplifies information and enables professionals to communicate it in a more compelling way. This makes it easier for consumers to make better decisions and helps advisors build trust with their clients. “It’s not just business,” Lubin said from the Finovate stage in September, emphasizing the importance of “advice” in the self-serve oriented, fintech experience. “It’s personal. And financial matters are really personal.”

BLUERUSH trades on the TSVX under the ticker symbol “BTV,” and has a market capitalization of $5 million (6 million CAD).