Zopa Receives $28 Million Investment

Zopa Receives $28 Million Investment

Peer-to-peer lending platform and digital bank Zopa landed some extra funds this week, now that its new banking platform is starting to take off.

The U.K.-based company pulled in $28 million (£20 million) from existing investors, bringing its total raised to $465 million.

Investors in today’s round include IAG Silverstripe, which led the round, as well as Augmentum, Alternative Credit Investments, Venture Founders, and others. The company will use the funds to support the growth of its digital bank.

Zopa secured its banking license last June and has since transitioned its platform from a peer-to-peer lending operation to a digital bank with a peer-to-peer lending option. Since that time, Zopa began offering savings accounts, which have reached $346 million (£250 million) in customer deposits, and a credit card product that has made Zopa a top 10 credit card issuer in the U.K. based on new customers.

The new funding comes at a time when competition among digital banks is at an all-time high. Zopa is poised to do well in the battle for new clients and deposits, however. The company has built a well-established client base, resources, and relationships since it was founded in 2004 as a peer-to-peer lending platform.

Zopa CEO Jaidev Janardana echoes this. “Less than a year since launching our bank, we have exceeded our plan for growth, both in terms of customers and balance sheet,” he said. “This capital injection will enable us to continue on this accelerated path. Our strong entry to the U.K. savings and credit card markets shows the organic appeal of our products and we are happy to have investors who share our excitement at the opportunity to serve more customers across more product categories.”

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Pindrop to Buy NextCaller

Pindrop to Buy NextCaller

Phone-based fraud prevention company Pindrop acquired Next Caller this week. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Pindrop anticipates the purchase of NextCaller, a call verification and fraud detection solution for contact centers, will position the company for growth, expand its client base, and position it as an industry leader.

“Our two companies will now be able to service the market in its entirety with the right solution for whatever stage of voice security and authentication they are in,” said Next Caller Co-founder and CEO Ian Roncoroni.

The deal comes at a time when demand for call centers is expanding. In a recent report, Forrester found that 42% of brands surveyed saw an increase in year-over-year call center call volume since the pandemic began. Additionally, 65% of companies reported they struggle to manage the high call volume and 80% of firms reported that fraud is a very serious issue in the call center.

Given this, Pindrop CEO Vijay Balasubramaniyan has a positive outlook for the fraud prevention industry. “We couldn’t be more bullish about the future,” he said, “The need for our combined solutions will only continue to grow as brands across multiple industries not only look to better secure their voice channel, but also improve the customer experience. Understanding who you are speaking to is the most effective way to build a better relationship with customers, resulting in a higher NPS and subsequently more profitable exchanges.”

As for what’s next, Next Caller will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary under Pindrop.

Founded in 2011, Pindrop debuted an IVR solution as well as the availability of its voice authentication technology for use in OTT streaming devices. Headquartered in Alabama, Pindrop is privately held and has raised a total of $213 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Citi Ventures.

NYMBUS Picks Red Hat as Cloud Platform Partner

NYMBUS Picks Red Hat as Cloud Platform Partner

Financial services platform NYMBUS has selected the cloud platform from open source solution provider Red Hat for its digital banking ecosystem. The platform, Red Hat OpenShift, will enable Nymbus to help its community bank and credit union customers accelerate their digital transformations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we bank, possibly forever,” Nymbus CEO Jeffery Kendall said. “It provided the push for local banks and credit unions to establish more secure, flexible, end-to-end digital banking solutions.” Kendall added that the partnership with Red Hat would give Nymbus’ partners more “freedom of choice” in the way they implemented their cloud banking strategies as well as the “multi-cloud uptime” Kendall said was “critical for the banking industry.”

Courtesy of the new partnership, Nymbus customers will be able to deploy and launch a turnkey, digital bank-in-a-box – running on OpenShift – on whatever cloud platform they prefer. The open source, cloud-agnostic nature of Red Hat’s solution helps institutions avoid being dependent on a sole vendor, which can impede innovation.

“Cloud technology is reshaping the way banking services are created and delivered in our digital world,” Red Hat VP and Global Head of Financial Services Richard Harmon said. “It is providing service providers the ability to quickly adapt to market changes and make it easier for community banks and credit unions to consume new software. We are excited to work with Nymbus to bring the innovation of open source and cloud technology to the market. Nymbus truly embraces the open source way of working, and we are looking forward to contributing to their success.”

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Miami Beach, Florida, Nymbus most recently demonstrated its technology on the Finovate stage in 2019 as part of FinovateFall. The company began this year with a pair of C-suite hires – Chief Alliance Officer Sarah Howell and Chief Product Officer Larry McClanahan – a new partnership with NYDIG to support bitcoin banking, and a $53 million Series C funding round that took the company’s total capital to more than $98 million.

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Blend to Acquire Title365 from Mr. Cooper

Blend to Acquire Title365 from Mr. Cooper

Digital lending platform Blend has agreed to acquire Mr. Cooper-owned Title365 for $422 million.

Blend will leverage Title365 for its title, escrow, and settlement services. Integrating this technology into Blend’s platform will allow the company to automate title commitment upon loan application submission, digitally reconcile settlement fees in real time, and streamline communication among parties. Ultimately, Blend anticipates that Title365’s industry expertise will help minimize costs by integrating title and settlement into the loan process.

Title365 was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in California. The company fits nicely with Blend’s approach of offering a modern experience with its mission “to be the most technologically advanced title insurance and settlement services provider.”

Title365 will be part of Blend’s title marketplace that allows lenders and consumers to choose their preferred title and escrow partner. The tool will be similar to Blend’s insurance marketplace that allows consumers to shop for competitive rates from more than 25 insurance carriers.

“We’re really excited about the agreement to add Title365 to our team as we continue our work to build the full consumer homebuying journey into our platform,” said CEO Nima Ghamsari. “With Title365, we will be able to expand our ability to put lenders at the center of a vastly improved homebuying journey that delivers new levels of efficiency, speed, convenience, and cost savings to everyone.”

Founded in 2012, Blend recently received $300 million in new funding, bringing its total funding to $665 million and boosting its valuation to $3.3 billion. The company facilitated $1.4 trillion in loans last year and counts 285+ lender partners, which together are responsible for around 30% of all mortgage volume in the U.S.

Flutterwave and PayPal Partner to Empower African eCommerce

Flutterwave and PayPal Partner to Empower African eCommerce

Payments ecosystem giant PayPal announced a collaboration with Flutterwave, a leading payments technology company in Africa, this week. Through the collaboration, PayPal will enable its users to pay African merchants using Flutterwave’s platform.

The partnership will not only connect Flutterwave’s African merchant clients with PayPal’s 377 million accountholders, it will also help them work around the fragmented and complex payments infrastructure in Africa. To use the new functionality, online shoppers across the globe simply select the Pay with PayPal option while checking out at an African merchant’s page online.

Flutterwave launched to help businesses and individuals make payments across the continent flexibly and affordably. This comes at a crucial time for Africa. The ecommerce sector on the continent is expanding and is expected to grow from $16.5 billion in 2017 to $29 billion by next year.

“The collaboration reinforces our vision of creating a seamless digital payments system for Africa’s business communities that can now transact with international consumers,” said Flutterwave Founder and CEO Olugbenga Agboola. “By working with PayPal, we can further strengthen our commitment to our customers and service users as we will be enabling them to transact and expand their business operations to reach new markets.”

Flutterwave was founded in 2016 and has since processed over 140 million transactions worth over $9 billion. Today’s news comes just a couple of days after the company closed a $170 million round at a $1 billion valuation.

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eToro To Go Public in $10 Billion SPAC

eToro To Go Public in $10 Billion SPAC

Social trading and investment marketplace eToro announced today that it is making the leap to go public. In true 2021 style, however, the Israel-based company isn’t pursuing an IPO. Instead, eToro is merging with FinTech Acquisition Corp. V, a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a deal worth $10 billion.

When the deal is finalized, the combined company will operate as eToro Group Ltd. and is expected to be listed on the NASDAQ.

The move to go public comes after a period of growth for the Israel-based company. Last year, eToro added more than five million new users and brought in $605 million in revenue, 147% higher than the revenue it saw in 2019. Additionally, average monthly registrations have grown from 192,000 in 2019 to 440,000 in 2020. In January 2021 alone, eToro added more than 1.2 million new registered users. Similarly, the number of trades executed on its platform has grown– from eight million average trades per month in 2019, to 27 million in 2020, and 75 million in January 2021 alone.

“We founded eToro with the vision of opening the global market for everyone to trade and invest in a simple and transparent way,” said eToro CEO Yoni Assia. “Today, eToro is the world’s leading social investment network. Our users come to eToro to invest, but also to communicate with each other; to see, follow, and automatically copy successful investors from all around the world. We created a new category of wealth management – social investing – and we are dominating the market as evidenced by our rapid expansion.”

eToro is the seventh fintech to use a SPAC to go public in the past few months, joining SoFi, BankMobile, Payoneer, MoneyLion, Apex, and OppFi.

eToro was founded in 2007 and has offices in Cyprus, the U.K., Australia, and the U.S. The company is among Finovate’s earliest alums, demoing at the very first FinovateEurope conference in 2011.

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SumUp Scores $895 Million in Debt Financing to Speed Growth

SumUp Scores $895 Million in Debt Financing to Speed Growth

Courtesy of Goldman Sachs, Temasek, Bain Capital Credit, Crestline, and funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, international payments company SumUp has secured a $895 million (EUR 750 million) debt facility.

“As one of the fastest growing technology companies in the world, this cash injection – in addition to having the built-in option to expand the financing – will significantly accelerate the growth of our customer base, enhance SumUp’s technology leadership position, and drive the development of new services to support our merchants globally,” SumUp co-founder Marc-Alexander Christ said.

SumUp’s funding news comes at a time when the company is adding to its product portfolio in both Europe and the U.K. Much of this growth has come through acquisitions of POS software providers like London-based Goodtill, as well as Tiller, a digital service provider for gastronomy merchants. Separately, SumUp’s recent acquisition of Paysolut, a Lithuanian cure banking system provider will enable the company to fortify the banking services that it offers to its merchants.

SumUp supports more than three million merchants around the world. In addition to its expansion in Europe – going live in Romania to bring the total number of its European markets to 29 – the company has added to its interests in the Chilean market and launched operations in Columbia – the fourth largest economy in Latin America.

At the beginning of this year, SumUp announced that it was working with Shutterstock to give merchants the ability to add high-quality visual images to enhance their online storefronts.

“It’s important now more than ever that small businesses have the means to trade in the e-commerce space in order to take on larger competition,” SumUp European EVP Alex von Schirmeister said. “This partnership with Shutterstock will do just that, giving them more visibility to grow their customer bases.”

Founded in 2011, SumUp made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2013. Daniel Klein is CEO.

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upSWOT Secures $4.3 Million in Seed Funding

upSWOT Secures $4.3 Million in Seed Funding

upSWOT, a fintech that helps bring business intel to small business owners, has raised $4.3 million in seed funding. Among Finovate’s newest alums, upSWOT offers a data aggregation and business finance management platform that leverages cash flow predictions and business insights to enable banks, insurance companies, and other institutions to better serve their small business and mid-market customers.

“Managing a portfolio of SMB clients is a challenge for every bank, lender, and servicer,” upSWOT CEO Dmitry Norenko said. “Amidst a global pandemic, the financial industry must find new and innovative ways to support this vital customer segment. Our white-label solution helps leading national and community banks gain granular insights into their SMB customers launched within six weeks, and with minimal strain on internal IT or overlap with legacy systems.”

upSWOT’s funding round was led by Common Ocean, a venture capital firm that specializes in early-stage fintechs that are innovating in the financial wellness space. Also participating in the round were CFV Ventures, ICBA, First Southern National Bank, and SpeedUp Venture Group, as well as previous investors. upSWOT said that it would use the funding to grow its business in the U.S., add talent to support “a growing list of deployments with Tier 1 and Tier 2 financial institutions,” as well as continue to add features and functionality to its data aggregation and BFM platform.

upSWOT leverages APIs to aggregate data from more than 120 widely-used business solutions such as Quickbooks, Salesforce, Amazon, and Shopify and provide business owners with predictive analysis and actionable insights. Via partnerships with financial institutions, upSWOT’s goal is to help SMEs that have been left to “fend for themselves” by giving them “modern day tools” to help support cash flow management, debt funding, financial planning and accurate cash reporting.

Founded in 2019, upSWOT demonstrated its white-label platform at FinovateWest Digital last year. A graduate of the Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator, the company includes Raiffeisen Bank International, Privat Bank, D&B, and Mastercard among its customers.

Stripe Rakes in $600 Million in Funding, Boosting Valuation to $95 Billion

Stripe Rakes in $600 Million in Funding, Boosting Valuation to $95 Billion

Ecommerce technology company Stripe announced over the weekend that it recently raised $600 million in funding. The Series H round brings the company’s total funding to $2.2 billion and boosts its valuation to $95 billion.

Investors in this month’s funding round include Allianz X, Axa, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Sequoia Capital, and Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency.

Stripe will use the funds to expand its Global Payments and Treasury Network and invest in its European operations to support increasing demand in the region. Specifically, the California-based company aims to boost its Dublin headquarters.

“We’re investing a ton more in Europe this year, particularly in Ireland,” said Stripe President and Cofounder, John Collison. “Whether in fintech, mobility, retail, or SaaS, the growth opportunity for the European digital economy is immense.”

Stripe has clients in 42 countries, 31 of which are in Europe. Among the company’s European clients are Deliveroo, Doctolib, Glofox, Klarna, ManoMano, N26, UiPath, and Vinted.

As Stripe pointed out in a blog post, only 14% of commerce happens online. That’s why, as the company’s CFO Dhivya Suryadevara notes, Stripe is “investing in the infrastructure that will power internet commerce in 2030 and beyond.” More specifically, the company is expanding its software and services and is making its technology available to millions more businesses in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the UAE.

“While Stripe already processes hundreds of billions of dollars per year for millions of businesses worldwide, the opportunity ahead is much larger for Stripe than it was when the company was started 10 years ago,” added Suryadevara.

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Taulia Makes $6 Billion Credit Facility Available to Clients

Taulia Makes $6 Billion Credit Facility Available to Clients

Supply chain financing expert Taulia is making a $6 billion credit facility available to its supplier clients this week. The funds were secured through a JPMorgan-led consortium that also includes UniCredit, UBS, and BBVA.

The news comes after Taulia partner Greensill Finance filed for insolvency earlier this week due to its largest client, GFG Alliance, defaulting on its debts. Taulia expects that the credit facility will help its clients that relied on Greensill Finance by offering them access to a different source of liquidity.

To be clear, the financing is not funding for Taulia itself; it is funding to help suppliers on its platform that are linked to Greensill Capital clients.

“Taulia’s priority, first and foremost, has been to enable businesses both large and small to unlock liquidity trapped in their supply chain in order to invest, operate and thrive,” said Taulia CEO Cedric Bru. “In the current environment, with the potential loss of a funder, our commitment to providing choice has become even more paramount.”

Today’s financing is the continuation of Taulia’s strategic partnership with JPMorgan that began in April of last year. Last July, the financier participated in Taulia’s $60 million financing round that boosted the San Francisco-based company’s total funding to $177 million.

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NTT Data Launches New Digital Banking Platform

NTT Data Launches New Digital Banking Platform

Consulting and IT services company NTT Data announced the launch of a new digital banking platform today. The new offering, Platea Banking, helps banks with digital transformation while maintaining their legacy technology.

Platea Banking helps retail banks take a platform-based approach to facilitate a customer-centric focus on the banking experience. The new platform offers banks access to NTT Data’s partner ecosystem and modules, including customer onboarding, lending, planning and financial management, card issuing and processing, payments, and others.

The open banking approach allows banks to select the features they need and move quickly through a platform-based approach that doesn’t tie them down to a single vendor.

“Technology plays a central role in helping banks innovate and deliver next-generation banking services to their customers,” said Global Head of NTT DATA’s Open Banking Practice Manuel Romero. “With consumers demanding digital banking experiences, it is imperative that banks act accordingly to respond [to] their needs. Platea Banking has been built to empower banks, providing them with a path to incorporate cloud-native technology to expand their business, as well as the ability to overcome obstacles such as scalability issues, legacy IT and compliance.”

Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, NTT Data offers a range of IT services and solutions, including consulting, systems integration, and IT outsourcing, for multiple sectors. A Finovate alum, the company most recently demoed at FinovateFall 2019. Yo Honma is CEO.

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Cheese Launches to Support Financial Wellness for Asian Americans

Cheese Launches to Support Financial Wellness for Asian Americans

The launch of Cheese, a digital banking platform dedicated to serving Asian American communities, is the latest instance of entrepreneurs seeking to translate a renewed sense of ethnic identity among many Americans into greater financial wellness, if not empowerment, for those in their communities.

“I have always envisioned launching a digital banking platform that someone like me could easily access but also serves a deeper purpose, with the power to positively impact Asian communities,” Cheese CEO Ken Lian said. “Cheese is that banking platform.”

Cheese includes Ifly.vc and Amplify among its chief investors, having raised $3.6 million in seed funding from the two firms in a round that also featured participation from former Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash and Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff. As part of the company’s offering, Cheese accountholders get a debit card (issued by Coastal Community Bank), two-day early advance pay with direct deposit, a 3% deposit bonus for referrals, a 0.3% annual percentage yield, and as much as 10% cash back on purchases at more than 10,000 participating merchants.

And as part of its pledge to support Asian American communities, Cheese will donate $100,000 to nonprofit organizations and community service programs that support Asian neighborhoods and small businesses – especially those impacted by COVID-19. Communities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City are among the first areas of focus.

The Asian American community is characterized by its diversity and its rapid growth; there are nearly 21 million Asian Americans in the United States. The relatively high income and education levels common in this community compared to other minority communities in the United States makes them an attractive opportunity for providers in financial services – from digital banking to wealth management.

At the same time, the rising number of incidents of violence against Asian Americans in 2021 are reminders that discrimination and racism against Asian Americans continues to be a challenge in a rapidly-diversifying country. In financial services, this issue often manifests itself most acutely with new Asian immigrants who may have language barriers or lack a credit history and struggle to even secure a bank account. Lian, who immigrated to the U.S. from China in 2008, knows this problem well.

“I had been declined multiple times for basic bank accounts,” Lian said, “even with an 800+ FICO score.”

Cheese is headquartered in Pasadena, California. The company was founded in 2019.

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