Raisin’s New Acquisition Gives Company Access to the U.S. Market

Raisin’s New Acquisition Gives Company Access to the U.S. Market

European deposit marketplace Raisin announced today it acquired New York-based Choice Financial Solutions. Terms of the acquisition, which marks Raisin’s fourth purchase in the past year, were undisclosed.

Raisin will license Choice FS’ technology to banks in the U.S., a move that will bring the company one step closer to its U.S. launch. Last year, Raisin teased the geographical expansion with the appointment of Paul Knodel as U.S. CEO.

Raisin U.S. CEO Paul Knodel

“Joining forces with Choice Financial Solutions lets Raisin begin offering cutting-edge services to banks and customers before we even launch our U.S. platform,” said Knodel. “As a leading innovator in the deposits space, Raisin sees Choice FS as a perfect fit for our mission in the U.S. deposits market. The enthusiastic market feedback we have already received affirms how ripe the savings space is for just this type of personalization.”

Choice FS has a decade-long track record of providing banks with technology to help their clients save for long-and-short-term goals. The company’s secret sauce is customization– something modern consumers have become accustomed to in today’s era of BigTech solutions. Choice FS allows banks to customize terms, distributions, amounts, and withdrawals to maximize return on savings accounts, creating a highly-personalized savings experience with an intuitive user interface. Company founder and CEO Daniel Smith refers to this personalization as “the missing piece” for banks and depositors.

Raisin was founded in 2012 and has since brokered $20.6 billion (€18.5 billion) for 200,000 customers in 28+ European countries and 90 partner banks. The company provides a free marketplace where consumers can browse European deposit products, ETF portfolios, and, in Germany, pension products.

French Fintech Lydia Locks in $45 Million

French Fintech Lydia Locks in $45 Million
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TechCrunch reported this morning that French mobile payment app Lydia has raised $45 million (€40 million) in a round led by Tencent. With existing investors CNP Assurances, XAnge, and New Alpha also participating in the Series B, Lydia adds significantly to the more than $16 million (€13 million) the company raised in 2018. The funding will help propel the firm toward its self-described goal of being the “PayPal of the new mobile generation.”

Lydia is used to make P2P payments, link and share accounts, as well as access a marketplace of additional financial offerings such as lending products and insurance. Available as a free app with other premium services available, Lydia can also set up recurring payments and enable users to pay with their smartphone via Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, or QR code. Company co-founder and CEO Cyril Chiche pointed to the growing numbers of French consumers who are using the app for a variety of money management functions, highlighting the fact that 25% of French consumers between the ages of 18 and 30 have a Lydia account. Chiche added that the technology has three million users across Europe.

Lydia, which was founded in 2013, will use the funding to fuel its continued expansion in Europe. Lydia is particularly keen on opportunities to reach millennial Europeans in markets like the U.K., Ireland, Spain, and Portugal – where its app was deployed in the second half of 2017.

Compared to other countries in Europe, the fintech industry in France is often overlooked. This is not wholly without foundation. According to the recent report on European fintech by Dealroom, the share of fintech related VC spending in France in recent years was 12% compared to 20% in Europe overall, 21% in Germany, and 30% in the U.K. Born2Invest noted in December that French fintech startups had raised $700 million in 2019, and suggested that this year would likely see “a lot of talk about assuretech” also known as insurech, where technologies like digitization and automation are able to make dramatic differences in data management.

Lydia was featured in Silicon Canals last spring in its look at “10 exciting French fintech startups to work for in 2019.” For more on the French fintech industry, check out this infographic from BlackFin Tech which depicts the five main ecosystems in French fintech – regtech, assurtech, financial services, banking/PFM, and payment services – as well as some of the major players.

Tradeshift Lands $240 Million as it Inches Toward Profitability

Tradeshift Lands $240 Million as it Inches Toward Profitability

Supply chain payments company Tradeshift just unveiled details about a $240 million funding round today. The investment– a combination of debt and equity– comes from new and existing investors. Tradeshift’s total funding is now $672 million.

The San Francisco-based company will use the investment to boost expansion efforts and gear toward a “direct path to profitability in the near future.” The funding will also be used to grow Tradeshift’s network finance program that provides liquidity to companies in 100+ countries.

And it appears that Tradeshift is already on the right track. Last year the company tallied record expansion; growing its revenue more than 60% and closing more than 300 enterprise deals. What’s more, 40% of the total transaction volume across its platform occurred in the last 12 months.

“It’s clear that the investor community has a strong focus on growth combined with profitability and they like our plan,” said Tradeshift CEO Christian Lanng. “As a network business, growth is always going to be a key part of our story. But it’s also important that we manage that growth responsibly.”

Tradeshift’s business commerce platform connects more than 1.5 million companies across 190 countries. To date, the company has processed more than half a trillion dollars in transaction value. After Tradeshift’s most recent funding round of $250 million last spring, the company’s valuation was boosted to $1.1 billion.

As for 2020 plans, Lanng said that the company’s focus “will be about doubling down in areas where we’re seeing the greatest momentum while continuing to ensure we have the necessary balance in place to fully capitalize on the enormous opportunities in front of us.”

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal

Updated 1/14/2020: The first big fintech acquisition of the year just crossed the headlines: Visa has agreed to acquire innovative fintech Plaid for a reported $5.3 billion in “total purchase consideration.”

“Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”

Plaid’s technology connects digital consumers with thousands of apps and services ranging from Transferwise and Betterment to Chime, Acorns, and popular payment app, Venmo. The company estimates that one in four individuals with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect with thousands of developers across 11,000+ financial institutions.

Visa said the acquisition will bolster the company’s capacity to serve and reputation with fintech developers – especially when it comes to providing them with enhanced payment functionality and related value-added services. Visa also believes the acquisition will help open new business opportunities both in the U.S. and around the world.

“We are extremely excited about our acquisition of Plaid and how it enhances the growth trajectory of our business,” Visa CEO and chairman Al Kelly said. “Plaid is a leader in the fast growing fintech world with best-in-class capabilities and talent. The acquisition, combined with our many fintech efforts already underway, will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions, and consumers.”

Visa participated in Plaid’s Series C round in 2018, which was led by Index Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. The company raised $250 million in that funding raising effort. Plaid began the year with an acquisition of its own, purchasing account aggregation and data analytics technology provider Quovo in January of 2019. The value of that deal was not disclosed; Bloomberg reported that the sticker price for Quovo could have been as high as $200 million. Quovo, incidentally, is also a FinDEVr alum, participating in our New York developers conference in 2017.

Plaid demonstrated its technology at FinDEVrSiliconValley in 2014, demonstrating how its API for Financial Infrastructure enabled developers to leverage data quickly, efficiently, and securely power fintech applications. Headquartered in San Francisco, California and founded in 2012, Plaid had raised $310 million in funding previous to today’s announcement.

The ripples from the acquisition news are reverberating throughout the fintech community. And while some are worried about the ability of the innovative startup from San Francisco continue to drive change in the industry, others are busy heralding the news as a victory for fintech and incumbent financial services firms, alike.

Indeed, the acquisition of Plaid by Visa has put other fintechs involved in financial data on notice that they too may hear an inquiring knock on their proverbial doors. One observer on Twitter asked “Will $MA pick up Finicity now?” As of this writing, neither company has deigned to comment.

INTL FCStone Acquires International Bank Transfer Firm

INTL FCStone Acquires International Bank Transfer Firm

Risk management and advisory services firm INTL FCStone announced today that its London-based subsidiary has agreed to acquire GIROXX for an undisclosed amount.

Headquartered in Germany, GIROXX offers international bank transfers and currency hedging. INTL FCStone plans to leverage this technology to expand its current client base to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

As part of the agreement, INTL FCStone’s advisory services will be made available to GIROXX’s clients. GIROXX founders Klaus Hoffmann and Jörg Sonnenschein said that the deal will help the company “gain the resources to offer hedging services on a multi assets basis.” As a result, the founders anticipate that GIROXX will solidify its client base and boost company expansion.

The purchase marks INTL FCStone’s sixth acquisition and its fourth in less than 10 months. The company said that these purchases, combined with internal restructuring, are part of an effort to protect clients from negative effects of Brexit.

“Our objective is to offer SME’s the ability to hedge all parts of their production processes, and to allow these corporates to have access to a digital payments and hedging platform,” said Carsten Hils, Global Head of INTL FCStone’s Global Payments Division.

Following the deal, INTL FCStone plans to open its client base to companies with less than 1,000 employees in Europe, a market with 350+ correspondent banks. The acquisition is pending approval from BaFin, Germany’s financial regulatory authority.

Founded in 1981, INTL FCStone is publicly listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker INTL. The company has a market capitalization of $947 million.

Visa’s Tap to Phone Brings Contactless Payments to mPOS

Visa’s Tap to Phone Brings Contactless Payments to mPOS
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With Visa’s Tap to Phone app arriving pre-installed on the new, enterprise grade smartphone from Samsung, a broad range of merchants will have access to yet another way to accept payments from customers. The solution works with any Android smartphone and enables everyone from microbusiness owners to retail sales professionals to make on-the-spot transactions with customers without relying additional hardware.

Visa’s Tap to Phone technology enables consumers to make payments in seconds by tapping their contactless payment card – or smartphone or smartwatch – against the vendor’s Tap-to-Phone enabled smartphone. And because it is built on an EMV chip transaction, Tap to Phone is able to generate the same dynamic security for transactions as a traditional terminal does, ensuring both parties that the transaction is secure.

Visa notes that its Tap to Phone technology is currently being piloted in more than nine markets, including in Canada, the U.K, Ukraine, Turkey, Costa Rica, and Malaysia. Additional pilots are scheduled for Poland, Australia and a few other countries “over the next several months.”

Samsung has selected its Galaxy XCover Pro enterprise smartphone to be integrated with Visa’s Tap to Phone technology. The company expects the combination to be valuable in a variety of verticals both within and beyond ecommerce, such as logistics and healthcare.

“The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is a robust retail POS platform for a true retail digital transformation,” Visa’s Head of Seller Solutions Mary Kay Bowman said. “Its applications for businesses such as healthcare, airlines, and restaurants are a great example of how Visa together with Samsung can democratize access to payment experiences that consumers increasingly expect, no matter where they are.”

Samsung has demonstrated its technology on the Finovate stage, teaming up with Fiserv to provide biometric authentication for the payment giant’s Commercial Center: Security solution at FinovateFall 2018. Visa participated in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley in 2014, discussing “The Future of Commerce” and introducing its API-less, Visa Checkout integration solution.

Siam Commercial Bank Taps Ripple for Cross-Border Payments

Siam Commercial Bank Taps Ripple for Cross-Border Payments

Thailand’s biggest bank by assets, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), announced it has partnered with blockchain solutions company Ripple. SCB will leverage Ripple’s RippleNet to power the cross-border payment offering in its mobile app, SCB Easy for the app’s 9+ million users.

RippleNet is Ripple’s global payment network that works across 40+ currencies and consists of more than 200 financial institutions. Because RippleNet leverages the blockchain, users are able to track funds, delivery time, and status.

“It is so difficult to send and receive money today. People must physically go to a bank branch, fill out long and complicated forms and wait for payments to be received—with no transparency,” said SCB’s SVP of Commercial Banking, Arthit Sriumporn. “With our service, their loved ones from abroad can transfer payment and receive money immediately.”

SCB is also working with Ripple and EMVCo to add a QR code-based payment solution to SCB Easy. Once complete, the QR codes will enable users to make payments without using the local currency.

This isn’t SCB’s first partnership with Ripple. The bank first partnered with Ripple in 2018 when it became the first financial institution using RippleNet to pilot multi-hop, a tool that enables banks to settle frictionless payments on behalf of other banks in the network.

Ripple has offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Luxembourg, Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney, and Brazil. Ripple recently closed $200 million in a Series C round, bringing the company’s total funding to $321 million and boosting its valuation to $10 billion.

China Says 你好 to American Express

China Says 你好 to American Express

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s Central Bank, announced it has accepted an application from American Express (AmEx) that expressed the company’s intention to operate in China.

Reuters reported that the PBOC announced the receipt of AmEx’s application via a WeChat post on Wednesday. The bank, however, did not disclose information about the approval timeline.

This follows the PBOC’s approval in November of 2018 for AmEx to clear card payments in partnership with China’s LianLian Pay to process payments in Yuan. This week’s announcement also makes AmEx the first U.S. card network company to gain access into the China market. In order to commence operations, however, AmEx still needs final approval from the PBOC.

China is beginning to open up its credit card payments market to foreign players after restricting access. For the past ten years, foreign payment card companies could only tap into China’s credit card market via partnership with state-run UnionPay.

Visa and Mastercard are expected to follow suit to claim their stake in China’s $27 trillion market.

Traditional players aren’t the only ones eyeing the China opportunity. Last October PayPal gained controlling interest in China-based GoPay. The move granted PayPal a license to offer online payment services in China, making it the first foreign company to be granted such license.

Treasury Management Innovator HighRadius Earns Unicorn Status

Treasury Management Innovator HighRadius Earns Unicorn Status
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HighRadius, a company that offers AI-powered order-to-cash and treasury management solutions, announced today that it has raised $125 million in Series B funding. The investment boosts the Houston, Texas-based firm’s valuation to $1 billion, earning it the status as one of the first new fintech unicorns of 2020.

The round was led by Iconiq Capital, and featured participation from Citi Ventures and Susquehanna Growth Equity. Iconiq Capital partner Will Griffith praised the way HighRadius’ platform had improved the efficiency of accounts receivable and treasury teams, and put the company’s accomplishments in the broader context of other innovative firms in its portfolio. “Digital transformation is increasingly a CFO priority,” Griffith said, calling HighRadius’s platform “game-changing.”

HighRadius’ integrated receivables technology optimizes accounts receivables operations by combining all receivable and payment modules into a single, unified business process. The company’s treasury management technology provides treasury departments with greater visibility into cash operations – including cash levels – and automates reconciliation. Founded in 2006, the company, which includes Citi and Bank of America Merrill Lynch among its clients, has processed more than $1.3 trillion in transactions via its AI-enabled platform.

“Today marks an important milestone for HighRadius and we’re thrilled to have ICONIQ join us in our vision to modernize the Order to Cash space,” HighRadius founder and CEO Sashi Narahari said. He pledged to build the company “into a self-sustaining, long-term category leader.”

Earlier this year, HighRadius partnered with London-based, e-payments company PPRO to give merchants a broader range of options to accept payments from buyers. The combined offering will allow for the discovery and support of local payment methods (LPMs) in key locations, and is designed to help merchant clients keep up with the increasing diversity of payment options around the world.

This spring, the company unveiled its Collection Agency Data Exchange solution which enables customers using HighRadius Collections Cloud to electronically send accounts and invoices to a trio of third-party collection agencies directly from the HighRadius platform. HighRadius began the year with the launch of its order-to-cash digital assistant, Freeda, and a partnership with the Media Financial Management Association to provide credit management automation for the organization’s subsidiary credit association, BCCA.

Sprint and Wirecard to Deliver the Internet of Payments

Sprint and Wirecard to Deliver the Internet of Payments

Telecommunications giant Sprint and German financial services provider Wirecard announced they are teaming up to deliver the Internet of Payments.

Under the agreement, Sprint will integrate Wirecard’s commerce solutions into its Curiosity Internet of Things (IoT) platform. Essentially, the two will embed payment capabilities into IoT deployments.

Sprint’s Curiosity IoT combines Curiosity Core, a virtualized IoT network, with Curiosity OS, an IoT operating system. The project will be piloted in the retail sector where the two will work together to “deliver the retail experience of the future” by enabling a connected purchasing experience.

“This opens up many commercial opportunities, and also delivers an unparalleled commerce solution for our global clients and their customers,” said Ivo Rook, Sprint’s senior vice president of IoT and product development. “As IoT becomes even more central to how enterprises run, we look forward to identifying new opportunities and use cases for these technologies. The growing internet of things will lead to new and innovative transactions, like directly between devices, and this collaboration will power such use cases.”

IoT has a wide range of applications in the payments space. With IoT, consumers can move beyond traditional payment devices and instead pay using wearables, their car, and voice-enabled devices such as Alexa. In many settings these types of payment methods are already possible but they are not widespread.

Georg von Waldenfels, executive vice president of group business development at Wirecard said that the collaboration will help Wirecard “meet a growing demand for commerce without barriers.” Waldenfels added that teaming up with Sprint is a “significant step toward developing the shopping experience of the future.”

This isn’t Sprint’s first foray in the IoT space with a fintech. In 2018, the company partnered with Dynamics to launch the Wallet Card, an IoT connected, battery-powered payment card.

ING’s Katana Becomes a Standalone Fintech

ING’s Katana Becomes a Standalone Fintech

Dutch financial services corporation ING announced today it is spinning off Katana into its own entity called Katana Labs.

As a part of its move to independence, Katana has closed $3.9 million in funding, half of which ING contributed “to enable further growth and to pave the way for an independent future for Katana.”

Katana began as one of 25 of ING’s innovation initiatives. The project follows in the footsteps of Yolt and Cobase, former ING innovation initiatives that scaled up outside of ING’s labs.

“Supported by ING Labs, we developed, tested and validated the technology. Now it’s time to move to the next phase as an independent fintech,” said Santiago Braje, CEO of Katana. “We are very excited about the opportunities we see in developing our platform and expanding our client base.”

ING launched Katana to help traders leverage predictive analytics to determine bond pricing based on historic and real time data. In 2018, ING enhanced the tool with the launch of Katana Lens, a tool for bond market investors that identifies the most promising trades based on historical data. Last year, Global Finance Magazine highlighted Katana as Innovator 2019.

“In the past few years, Katana has managed to grow from an internal innovation project to a serious value proposition for bond investors. We attracted major clients who see the added value of this super smart AI-tool. I’m proud that with our support Katana grew out to a fully-grown fintech that is ready for an independent future,” said Annerie Vreugdenhil, head of Innovation at ING Wholesale Banking.

Katana Labs has incorporated in the U.K. and is now headquartered in London.

Nebula Merges with Open Lending, Forming a New Publicly Traded Company

Nebula Merges with Open Lending, Forming a New Publicly Traded Company

Lending solutions provider Open Lending has agreed to merge with Nebula Acquisition Corporation, an acquisition company sponsored by True Wind Capital.

The merger will take place via an acquisition in which, once finalized, Nebula will purchase Open Lending and form a new Delaware holding company called Open Lending Corporation. The new entity will be publicly-traded on NASDAQ with an estimated value of $1.3 billion.

Members of Open Lending’s executive team– John Flynn, cofounder, president, and CEO; and Ross Jessup, cofounder, CFO, and COO– will lead the new company. Flynn commented that there is “significant runway” for new growth, considering Open Lending’s existing banking relationships and “untapped opportunities” with new partnerships.

Open Lending was founded in 2000 and offers automated lending solutions to banks, specializing in automotive lending. Ultimately, Open Lending helps banks offer near-prime borrowers more attractive borrowing rates without changing the risk profile for the bank. In 2019, Open Lending facilitated more than $1.7 billion in automotive loans for 275+ financial institutions.

“Open Lending’s ability to demonstrate consistent organic growth and high levels of profitability represents an exciting investment opportunity within the risk-based analytics ecosystem,” said Adam Clammer, Nebula co-CEO and founding partner of True Wind. “John and his team have developed a highly-scalable technology platform that helps hard working consumers get into a new or used car at the best rate possible. We look forward to partnering with Open Lending’s management team and Bregal at this exciting inflection point in the company’s growth.”