PayU Investment in Kreditech Marks Largest Funding for a German Fintech

In a funding round led by online payment service provider, PayU, Germany’s Kreditech has raised $120 million (€110 million). The investment is the largest equity investment in a German fintech company to date. Kreditech CEO Alexander Graubner-Müller said his company was looking forward to bringing “point-of-sale finance” to markets where “reliable credit risk assessment” is lacking. Graubner-Müller added “Teaming up with PayU provides underbanked customers new possibilities and supports our mission of providing financial freedom through technology.”

In addition the record-setting nature of the funding, the partnership between Kreditech and PayU also represents what the company called in a press release: “the first such strategic cooperation pact between a payment service provider and a technology driven consumer finance company.” Pointing to its commitment to bring credit and financial services to the underbanked, PayU CEO Laurent le Moal said his company’s “substantial investment” in Kreditech will “help to bring pioneering machine learning and AI technology to the many high growth markets around the world that need better access to financial services.”

Pictured (left to right): Co-founders Sebastian Diemer and Alexander Graubner-Müller demonstrating Kreditech’s platform at FinovateSpring 2014.

This week’s funding adds to the $10.4 million Kreditech raised in a round led by Japan-based Rakuten last December. With total capital of more than $280 million, the Hamburg-based online lender has earned a valuation of between $325 million and $540 million, according to an estimate in TechCrunch.

Kreditech has processed more than four million loan applications via its subsidiaries, leveraging its API-driven, lending-as-a-service approach to make it easy for partners to integrate and custom-fit a variety of consumer finance solutions. These include loan application and credit risk management products, e-signature and customer service, loan refinancing, processing, and collections. The company is active in more than five markets around the world – including Russia, Mexico, Spain, and Poland, where Kreditech and PayU recently completed an $11 million (€10 million), 12-month pilot program.

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, Kreditech demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2014. Named to H2 Ventures and KPMG’s Fintech 100 in 2016, the company added a pair of new board members last month: former Vanquis Bank CEO Michael Lenora and OneSavings Bank CEO Andy Golding.

FinDEVr Alum Symbiont Scores Funding from China’s Hundsun Technologies

The amount of the investment was undisclosed. But blockchain startup and smart contracts specialist, Symbiont has picked up funding from China-based Hundsun Technologies. The investment in Symbiont is the first in the U.S. for the financial services software provider and the company, which is partly-owned by Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, will also add an observer to Symbiont’s board of directors. Symbiont CEO Mark Smith referred to the investment as a “clear vote of confidence for Symbiont” and called Hundsun Technologies a “strong partner in Asia.”

Symbiont’s innovation is a smart contracts platform that enables FIs to develop applications based on distributed ledger technology. Current use cases enabling the issuance, trading, and processing of corporate bonds, syndicated loans, and other low-liquidity financial instruments. Guan Xiaolan, executive president of Hundsun highlighted the company’s “superior, mature, and highly differentiated DLT stack,” as well as the technology’s high level of security. “Its smart contracts have a proven ability to automate complex business logic, such as highly tailored employee compensation waterfalls for private companies,” he added.

Pictured: Symbiont CTO and co-founder Adam Krellenstein during his presentation at FinDEVr New York 2016.

It has been almost a year since the State of Delaware partnered with Symbiont in a project called The Delaware Block Initiative designed to make it easier for state government and businesses to leverage blockchain technology. In an update published as part of the Delaware law series last month, Andrea Tinianow of the Delaware Blockchain Initiative and Caitlin Long of Symbiont noted that the “first milestone of DBI’s roadmap” – deploying distributed ledger technology at the state’s public archives – had been achieved. Underscoring the relevance of this initial effort, the two wrote: “By being the first to adopt the technology, the State will maintain its leadership in corporate registry services.”

Also this spring, Symbiont added Yale University computer science professor, Dr. Zhong Shao, to its Technical Advisory Board, and partnered with commodity services specialist, Orebits, who will use Symbiont’s smart contract technology to further develop their eponymous commodity-backed digital assets. The first digital assets, called “orebits,” were made available on Symbiont’s platform in March.

Symbiont was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in New York. Adam Krellenstein, CTO and co-founder of the company, presented “Distributed Ledgers and Smart Contracts” at FinDEVr New York 2016.

Vera Announces $15 Million Strategic Investment from Hasso Plattner

Data security specialist  Vera announced a strategic investment of $15 million today. The funding was led by Hasso Plattner Ventures (HP-Ventures), and featured the participation of Amplify Partners, Battery Ventures, Clear Venture Partners, Leslie Ventures, and Sutter Hill Ventures. The company’s total capital is now more than $50 million. Ajay Arora, CEO and co-founder of Vera said the investment will help fuel expansion particularly in Europe where new regulations on data security, specifically the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are pending.

GDPR was enacted just over a year ago by the European Parliament and Council in an effort to improve data security for individuals in the EU. The scheduled implementation date of the GDPR is less than a month away on May 25th and observers like Gartner are warning that less than half of companies are will be fully compliant by the end of 2018, much less the end of May. “The GDPR will affect not only EU-based organizations, but many data controllers and processors outside the EU as well,” Gartner research director, Bart Willemsen said. He added that both the threat of “hefty fines” and what he called “the increasingly empowered position of individual data subjects” are pressuring companies to do a better job of protecting personal data.

Pictured: Vera CEO and co-founder Ajay Arora demonstrating Vera Security at FinovateSpring 2016.

And this is where companies like Vera come in. Vera’s technology innovates by securing the data itself. From files and Word documents to images and video, Vera enables companies to control access and the ability to manipulate data after it has left its traditional perimeter of control. During the company’s live demonstration at FinovateSpring, Vera’s Grant Shirk used a single click to secure a word document and an Excel spreadsheet after attaching them to an email. In addition to quickly establishing a variety of access permissions, Vera’s technology also enables digital watermarking, restrictions on the ability to edit (including cut and paste), and provides auditing and tracking.

Underscoring Vera’s uniqueness as its first cybersecurity investment, HP-Ventures General Partner, Yair Re’em credited the company’s “incredible momentum and hypergrowth in markets large and small” as well as Vera’s ability to “help protect and control data after a breach has happened.” He said: “The crumbling state of enterprise security has clearly demonstrated the need for a fundamental paradigm shift in cybersecurity.” Chris Rust, Clear Venture Partners co-founder and General Partner, added that Vera was “the driving force behind a positive and profound shift away from perimeter-based security and towards a more flexible and reliable data-centric model.” Rust will join Vera’s board of directors as part of the strategic investment.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Vera demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016. Earlier this year, the company launched its enterprise communications security solution, Vera for Mail. Last fall, Vera announced that Logica Capital Advisors had selected them to manage business information and internal collaboration files. The company has produced more than 4x revenue growth since launching publicly in 2015 and grown its Fortune 100 customer base by 5x. Vera won the 2017 SC Trust Award Winner for Best Cloud Computing Security in February and, in March, the company was named to CRN’s annual Security 100 list.

Token Picks Up $18.5 Million to Help Banks Rise to Challenge of PSD2

With an investment of $15.7 million from Octopus Ventures, EQT Ventures, and OP Financial Group, open bank platform innovator Token has successfully completed its Series A financing. “Securing the backing from such world-class investors allows us to grow and execute faster in our mission to reinvent the world’s payment systems by providing common, secure access to all banks and a modern, bank-centric payment ecosystem,” Token founder and CEO Steve Kirsch said. The total raised in the Series A reached $18.5 million.

Token is leveraging its open banking platform to give financial institutions the ability to fully participate in the digitization of finance. Calling the company’s technology, “a true game-changer in the world of banking and financial services,” EQT Ventures partner and Token board member Andreas Thorstensson said: “Through a secure API, they are creating an open banking ecosystem, which creates possibilities for new revenue streams for its customers and a better user experience for consumers.

Pictured (left to right): Stefan Weiss (Head of APIs and Open Platforms at Fidor) and Marten Nelson (VP, Marketing, Token) demonstrating Token’s technology at FinovateEurope 2017.

In the company’s live demonstration at FinovateEurope earlier this year, Token co-founder and VP of Marketing Marten Nelson emphasized the relative speed and low cost of using Token as a PSD2 compliance solution. “It eliminates security mass breaches, reduces fraud and, perhaps best of all, it paves the way for revenue,” Nelson added. Joining Nelson on stage was Stefan Weiss, Head of APIs and Open Platforms at Fidor Bank who noted, “At Fidor, we believe that PSD2 and open banking is not a threat to banks, it is an opportunity. An opportunity to stay relevant.”

With programmable money, Token has developed a technology that “can transform the way the world transacts,” according to Octopus Ventures partner Simon Andrews. Programmable money uses tokenization and cryptography to enable parties to take advantage of a “vastly greater range of parameters … when exchanging value.” And value is defined as more than just money. Writing at the Token blog, Nelson explained: “Far more than conventional money – time, contracts, expertise, goods, services, and more can all be traded.” For FIs, this offers not just greater security and verification standards for their transactions, but the ability to use more efficient self-validating transactions that would reduce costs for FIs, as well. “The potential applications for self-validating transactions conducted using programmable money are practically limitless,” he wrote.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, Token presented The Future of Payments Now at FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2015. Earlier this month, the company announced a partnership with Finland-based OP Financial Group and, in January, Token teamed up with information technology consulting firm, VirtusaPolaris.

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.

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.

FinDEVr New York Alum NYMBUS Announces $16 Million in New Funding

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In a round led by Home Credit Group, core banking technology innovator NYMBUS raised $16 million in new capital. The funds build on the $12 million the FinDEVr/Finovate alum raised in the second half of last year, bringing its total capital to $28 million.

NYMBUS executive chairman Scott Killoh pointed to reliance on outmoded legacy core technology as holding back many institutions in the financial services industry. Because of this, he said “tens of thousands of banks and credit unions are not capitalizing on strategic growth opportunities.” The investment from Home Credit Group will help NYMBUS provide FIs with the modular, third-party friendly core banking technology that will enable them to keep pace with the demands of their customers. NYMBUS President David Mitchell called it “helping … implement digital-first strategies in order to drive customer growth and competitive differentiation.”

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Pictured: NYMBUS President David Mitchell during his presentation “NYMBUS: The Next Evolution in Core Processing” at FinDEVr New York.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Miami Beach, Florida, NYMBUS presented “The Next Evolution of Core Processing” at FinDEVr New York last year, during which Mitchell explained why the company decided to focus on core processing technology. “If I asked who in this audience has a pager or a Walkman,” Mitchell told the attendees at last year’s event, “not too many people are going to raise their hands. “But community banks right now are on 30-year old, 20-year old technology,” he said. “(It’s) the oldest technology in the world. It’s been lipstick on a pig, mainframes, green screens for 20 or 30 years.”

NYMBUS, in contrast provides an advanced, core processing platform, SmartCore, with a wide variety of APIs, customizable UI, a conversion layer, and an ecosystem of banking apps. The platform keeps all critical banking functions in a single system with a single sign-on and data set. Home Credit International Group Head of Special Projects Miroslav Boublik called NYMBUS “best positioned to stand at the core” of the disruption of the traditional banking model today. “NYMBUS’ technology is both many years ahead of traditional banking system vendors and most viable among emerging (fintech) providers,” Boublik said.

Earlier this month we shared news of the company’s partnership with California’s Kaiperm Diablo FCU to deploy its core banking technology, SmartCore. Kaiperm Diablo’s announcement comes just a few months after Pennsylvania-based CHROME Federal Credit Union reported that it would use SmartCore as part of its goal of transitioning to a digital-first credit union. NYMBUS has also been an active acquirer, buying Sharp BancSystems, KMR, and R.C. Olmstead in the summer of 2016. Also a veteran of Finovate, the company demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016.

Finie Gets Funding: AI Innovator Clinc Closes $6 Million Series A

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Clinc, developers of the voice-based intelligent assistant app, Finie, closed a $6.3 million Series A round this week. The round was led by Drive Capital and featured participation from Cahoots Holdings, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and individual investor Stuart Porter. Clinc’s total capital now stands at $7.75 million.

Calling the opportunities for his company’s technology “truly endless,” and pointing to “overwhelming interest in Finie from financial institutions,” Clinc CEO Jason Mars sees a major role for artificial intelligence in a number of financial use cases. “We’re going to eliminate the complexity and barriers that consumers typically face when understanding their finances,” Mars said. “And we’re going to help more consumers connect with their financial data in personalized, impactful ways with minimal effort.”

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Pictured: Clinc CEO and President Jason Mars demonstrating the intelligent virtual assistant banking app, Finie, at FinovateFall 2016.

The additional capital will fuel further product innovation and help expand the Clinc team, currently at 21 “and growing,” the company said in a statement. Drive Capital co-founder and partner Mark Kvamme will join Clinc’s board of directors.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Clinc demonstrated its voice-based intelligence assistant app, Finie, at FinovateFall 2016, earning a Best of Show award. Finie uses advanced natural language processing and artificial intelligence to understand and respond to unstructured, conversational speech. The technology is nuanced enough to “interpret not only semantics and intent, but the underlying meaning of user queries,” as well. Designed for financial services, Finie provides personalized advice as part of its ability to handle a variety of banking tasks, giving customized answers to user questions about balances, spending patterns, and more. Clinc includes Notion AI and fellow Finovate alum, Bankjoy among its customers.