Ocrolus Reels in $24 Million Investment

Automated document analysis platform, Ocrolus, has raised $24 million in funding in a Series B round led by Oak HC/FT. The new capital will help the company develop workflows for new document types, as well as improve the company’s analytic and fraud-detecting capabilities.

Ocrolus puts human empowered automation to work to help financial services firms and other companies make back office operations more efficient. Ocrolus’ technology leverages pattern recognition, crowdsourced data verification, and fraud detection to automatically analyze financial documents, digitize the data, and input it directly into the firm’s credit models. Even poor quality data scans from e-statements and smartphones can be effectively read by the technology and transformed into 99%+ accurate, validated datasets.

“Sometimes humans are better than robots,” Ocrolus CEO and co-founder Sam Bobley said. “We combine machine processes with live human intelligence to provide customers with a complete solution.”

Also participating in the round were FinTech Collective, and existing investors including Bullpen Capital and QED Investors. The investment takes the company’s total capital to more than $30 million.

Ocrolus demonstrated the Perfect Audit feature of its platform at FinovateFall last year. Perfect Audit provides cash-flow analytics from financial documents that have been digitized and analyzed by the Ocrolus platform. These analytics function as superior credit model inputs that enable lenders to price risk more effectively.

“Ocrolus is a unique company providing a rare combination of smart automation, analytics, and accuracy in its solution,” Oak HC/FT Venture Partner Dan Petrozzo said. “By combining its tremendous technology with an added human touch where required, the platform delivers amazing results for its customers.”

Last month, Ocrolus teamed up with inFactor to enhance the underwriting process for the small business financing platform. In April, the company partnered with fellow Finovate alum BlueVine to help accelerate financial application processing. Founded in 2014, Ocrolus is based in New York City.

MX Picks Up $100 Million in New Funding

MX, a provider of financial services data, has announced a $100 million financing round led by Battery Ventures, with participation from new and existing investors including the Tokyo-based venture capital firm, Digital Garage, reports Sharon Kimathi of Fintech Futures (Finovate’s sister publication).

The Series B round brings the company’s total equity financing to $175 million. The new investment reflects the value of financial technology data to banks, credit unions and other fintech companies, while allowing MX to accelerate its already rapid product development and customer growth.

With this round, the company will continue to be focused on the power of data that is cleansed, categorized, presented and usable.

“The use of data is essential to every industry, including financial services, and we are thrilled to support MX in its mission to leverage data to help drive better customer experience and deeper engagement for banks, credit inions, and fintechs,” said Michael Brown, general partner at Battery Ventures. “(It) leads to financial strength for everyone.”

He added “The company is already powering some of the top financial institutions in the world and is uniquely positioned to provide the smart aggregation and insights that the financial industry will need.”

Aside from Battery Ventures, new investors HIG Capital, Point72 Ventures, Sorenson Capital, Pelion Venture Partners, and Cross Creek Capital, also participated in the round, alongside National Bank of Canada and Washington Federal.

“With our surge in growth, we are proud of the fact that we have operated profitably the past two years, leading naturally to this next round of funding,” said Ryan Caldwell, founder and CEO of MX.

“We could have raised several times this amount, but we simply didn’t need the capital. We are disciplined in our spending and building for the long term. This additional investment will be spent on continuing to grow MX’s high-performing sales team, building upon our industry-leading user experience and partnerships, releasing a new product category that will be forthcoming, and hiring more of the best talent in the industry.”

MX is scaling quickly, with 15% of banks and credit unions in the U.S. already adopting MX technology and user growth rising in the last 24 months.

Headquartered in Utah, MX most recently demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2017. A multiple Finovate Best of Show award winner, MX was founded in 2010.

Blend Raises $130 Million in Series E

In a round led by Temasek and General Atlantic, digital lending technology innovator Blend has raised $130 million in new funding. The Series E round boosts the company’s total capital to $310 million and will help power its development of additional consumer lending solutions as Blend pursues what it calls “a one-tap lending future.”

Also participating in the round were existing investors 8VC, Founders Fund, Greylock Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Blend also announced that former Pixar CFO Ann Mather will join the company as an independent board member.

“Together with our partners, we’ve made significant strides in transforming lending experiences for consumers and institutions across the country,” Blend founder and CEO Nima Ghamsari said. “As we build toward a more transparent and frictionless future where lending transactions happen in one tap, we’re grateful to have the experience of Ann (Mather), along with the teams at Temasak and General Atlantic, in our corner for this journey.”

Blend’s funding news comes in the wake of the company’s latest product release, a new mobile-first deposit account solution that lenders can offer to loan applicants. The solution helps lenders build loyalty and convert mortgage customers into account holders, and integrates seamlessly into other Blend workflows, core banking, and CRM systems.

Speaking for Mountain America Credit Union, which partnered with Blend last spring, SVP Kelly Albiston highlighted the upsides of committing to Blend’s technology: “By partnering with them on multiple products, including deposit opening, we are providing a consistent and streamlined experience for our members across the board and taking friction out of the process,” Albiston said. Utah-based Mountain America CU has $8.5 billion in assets, and is the 12th largest credit union by membership in the United States with more than 740,000 members.

Blend demonstrated its Data-Driven Mortgage at FinovateSpring 2016. The company also participated in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley, later that year. Founded in 2012, the company offers a digital lending platform for mortgage and home equity lending that reduces loan cycle times by as much as 50%. Blend has spent much of this year launching new products – including digital HELOC and HELOAN offerings – as well as expanding its partnership with Salesforce. The company currently processes almost $2 billion in U.S. mortgages daily, supports more than 150 lender clients, and has grown its customer base by 3x from 2017 to 2018.

Blend was named one of the best places to work by Inc. earlier this year, and was honored with a spot in the Forbes Fintech 50, as well. Also this year, the company added former Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos as President. Blend is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Token Lands $16.5 Million

Open banking expert Token received $16.5 million in a round of funding led by Opera Tech Ventures, the venture arm of BNP Paribas. The investment brings the company’s total funding to $35 million.

Also participating in today’s round are two banks headquartered in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, as well as existing investors Octopus Ventures and EQT Ventures. California-based Token will use the funds to build on its TokenOS open banking platform and develop new payment solutions with digital money and identity technology.

“As the emerging category leader in open banking infrastructure, Token gives banks a fast track to deliver great open banking customer experiences,” said Token Founder and CEO Steve Kirsch. “For banks, establishing an early position in this new hyper-connected market is a competitive advantage; a new wave of independent financial apps and services will soon be available to their customers, so banks need to be clear about their future roles. By solving the infrastructure problem, Token enables them to focus on service innovation and delivery earlier than the competition.”

Founded in 2015, Token was built on the mission to create the next generation of payment capabilities. The company has 4,000 bank clients in its ecosystem in which participating online merchants to connect to the bank to allow the customer to make purchases directly from their bank accounts. Among Token’s clients are Tandem Bank, Think Money Group, An Post, Sberbank Croatia and Slovenia, and Khaleeji Commercial Bank.

Token showcased its PSD2 compliant solution at FinovateEurope 2017 in London. Last month, the company partnered with Omni Group to provide open banking and PSD2 compliance solutions to the group’s bank partners. This year, Token won Best Payments Newcomer in the 2019 Card and Payments Awards as well as Fintech Start Up of the Year in the 2019 FStech Awards.

Cybercrime Fighter ThetaRay Announces Strategic Investment from ABN AMRO

A new strategic investment from ABN AMRO Digital Impact Fund “strengthens the current operational relationship” between the bank and Israel-based cybersecurity innovator ThetaRay, fund director Hugo Bongers said today. The investment, amount undisclosed, adds to the company’s reported $66.5 million in funding.

ThetaRay leverages its big data analytics platform and solutions to provide advanced cybersecurity and risk mitigation for financial services companies. The company, founded in 2013, demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2015, and showed how its approach to anomaly detection provides protection against unknown, next generation cyberattacks while delivering low-false positives. ThetaRay’s IntuitiveAI platform helps spot money laundering activity, fraud, and dangerously risky loans, as well as helps firms become more efficient operationally and identify new potential growth areas.

“We’re very proud that ABN AMRO, a customer that benefits from ThetaRay’s intuitive artificial intelligence technology to combat financial cybercrime and operational failures, has now also become an investor,” ThetaRay CEO Mark Gazit said. He praised the company as a “visionary” that recognizes the role of AI-enabled technologies to help financial services companies better serve their customers. “We see ABN AMRO Digital Impact Fund as a true partner for creating a safer world,” Gazit said.

ThetaRay is not the first Finovate alum to receive funding from ABN AMRO Digital Impact Fund. The €50 million corporate venture entity has also invested in Tink, BehavioSec, and Cloud Lending Solutions. The strategic nature of the firm’s investment in ThetaRay, however, brings with it specific dividends, according to Bongers. “ABN AMRO stands to benefit from access to the Israeli ecosystem of cybersecurity and financial crime detection firms, as well as the leading venture capital investors operating in this business, such as JVP (Jerusalem Venture Partners) and OurCrowd,” he said.

Named one of 10 Security Startups to Watch by Network World earlier this year, ThetaRay was honored by the 2019 Fortress Cyber Security Awards last month, earning recognition in the Software & Applications category. The company added veteran marketing talent in May, hiring former Arachnys and Axioma executive Steve Mann as its new CMO.

Digital Banking Platform Alkami Lands New $55 Million Investment

In a Series E round led by MissionOG and General Atlantic, cloud-based digital banking platform provider Alkami Technology has raised $55 million in new funding. The investment takes the company’s total capital to more than $225 million, and will be used to help expand operations and fuel innovation at the Plano, Texas-based fintech.

Also participating in the round were existing investors including S3 Ventures and Argonaut Private Equity.

Company CEO Mike Hansen put the funding in the context of Alkami’s tenth anniversary, which the company will celebrate later this year. “We are very honored and excited about the support our existing investors evidenced again by this round,” Hansen said. “Their long-term commitment and support has allowed us to continue to boldly invest in innovation, people, and best-in-class service.” Hansen referred to the firm’s investors as “one of Alkami’s most potent sources of strength and results.”

Alkami Technology demonstrated its money management and financial awareness technology at FinovateSpring 2009 as iThryv – making the company one of Finovate’s oldest alums. Since then, the company has grown into a digital banking platform provider with more than 130 financial institution clients and more than six million registered users in the U.S.

General Atlantic Vice President Raph Osnoss credited Alkami’s “user experience, product features, platform architecture, and data security” for the company’s growth in the digital banking space. Alkami was featured in the 2018 Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies roster, as well as in Deloitte’s 2018 Technology Fast 500 in North America. Recent partnerships for the company include a platform deployment with Alliance Catholic CU of Michigan ($40 million in assets), and a deal with Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Nicolat National Bank ($3 billion in assets).

Named one of the Best FinTechs to Work For by SourceMedia (publishers of American Banker), Alkami also has made two C-suite moves in recent months. The company appointed former Authentix CMO Holly Tsourides as Chief Marketing Officer in February and named former RealPage executive Bryan Hill as Chief Financial Officer in April.

Paysend Reaches Crowdfunding Goal of $5.3M

London-based fintech Paysend announced late last week that it had reached its fundraising goal of $5.3 million (£4.2 million) after a three-day campaign on Seedrs. The company noted that more than 200 investors have participated in funding round, which was led by VC’s Plug & Play, Digital Space Ventures, and Marcorp Fintech. The funding puts Paysend’s total capital at more than $25 million and gives the company a valuation of more than $158 million (£1.25 million).

“We believe that (transferring money) should be as easy and immediate as sending an email, and finally the digital age is being able to facilitate this,” Paysend CEO Ronald Millar explained. He blamed the banking and payments industry for “conditioning” customers into believing that the difficulty of transferring money justified the complex process that most bank customers endure. “I have always been a firm believer that earning money can be tough but spending shouldn’t be,” Millar said.

The company said the funds will be used to fuel Paysend’s international expansion goals, including new partnerships with FIs. Paysend is currently active in 70 countries around the world, and Millar noted that the company is adding new customers at a pace of 2,000 a day. In fact, Paysend’s funding announcement comes as the company reports adding another six countries to its money transfer network. India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and Turkey are all slated to be brought onboard this year.

“We are on a major expansion path,” Millar told The Courier UK. “We’ve just launched the global account and we want to continue to grow the business and establish the operational team and launch more marketing.”

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in London, U.K., Paysend demonstrated its Global Account at FinovateSpring 2018. The solution enables users to store both fiat and crypto currencies in their wallet, exchange funds between currencies, send funds to other Global Accounts, and make payments from their account both online and in-person. The account comes with a prepaid card (both physical and virtual) that can be linked to the currencies in the user’s wallet, enabling them to make everyday transactions in the currency of their choice as easily as spending with a debit card. Users can also use their Global Account card to withdraw cash in 125 currencies.

Paysend has more than 750,000 users of its technology, and facilitates more than two million transactions a month. In May, the company announced the launch of its new payments app, Paysend Link, which enables users to send money to anyone, anywhere using only the recipient’s mobile phone number. Also in May, Paysend reported that its new stablecoin would be available on the Stellar Network this summer.

Synapse Receives $33 Million for Backend Fintech

Synapse, a San Francisco-based fintech startup, has raised $33 million in a series B round led by a16z, with participation from existing investors Trinity and Core and unnamed individual investors, including 9Yards Capital, reports Henry Vilar of Fintech Futures, Finovate’s sister publication.

This brings the start-up’s total raised to $50 million, following a $17 million series A round in September 2018. Synapse says it has over three million clients using its cloud-based tools, with 10,000 new signups and five million API requests every day.

In total, Synapse says it has facilitated more than $10 billion in transactions to date. The company reports facilitating more than $2 billion as automated clearing house (ACH) and $40 million in payment card transactions for over 100 companies so far this year.

Synapse provides payment, deposit, lending, and investment products as APIs to financial technology companies, which in turn launch consumer-facing financial services.

The fintech plans to build direct processor integrations with both Mastercard and Visa, which it expects will speed up API calls around card issuance and open up features like just-in-time funding and dynamic spending controls.

The company also intends to launch a brokerage account product and to enhance its loan origination and servicing API. This will make it easier for developers to apply for a warehouse line of credit and add automated text and phone loan collection support.

Toward the end of this year, the goal is to launch services in Europe and Canada, starting with payments, deposits, and debit card issuance. Lending and investment products will follow.

The firm plans a chatbot platform to answer customer questions, along with self-servicing tools for developers, a seed investing program. Synapse will also improve its security tools, including its ID verification and video authentication stack, add-ons around duplicate profile detection, and fraud and transaction monitoring.

“After 2019, our goal is to add support for two key markets each year, plus one underserved market, where we will build consumer-facing products until developer ecosystems are built,” said cofounder and CEO, Sankaet Pathak.

As a part of the series B, a16z’s Angela Strange and Michael Hoffmeyer, director at the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Memphis, have joined Synapse’s board of directors.

Founded in 2015, Synapse demoed its white label loan issuance at FinovateSpring last year. The tool originates and services unsecured consumer and business loans while providing customizable decisioning, automated compliance, smart notifications, and an origination and servicing UI.

BanQu Closes Extension on Series A Round

Blockchain-based identity startup BanQu announced it closed an extension of its Series A round today. The funds come from Anheuser-Busch InBev’s venture arm ZX Ventures. The amount of the funding was undisclosed but adds to the company’s previous funding total of $2.6 million.

“After BanQu’s outstanding pilot performance in our 100+ Accelerator, we are pleased to solidify the partnership with Ashish, Jeff, and the entire team at BanQu through an equity investment,” said Tony Milikin, Chief Sustainability and Procurement Officer at AB InBev. “Together, we are working to improve access to modern banking for thousands of farmers in underserved rural markets, driving inclusive growth and contributing to our own 2025 Sustainability Goal as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Minnesota-based BanQu won Best of Show at FinovateSpring 2016 for its blockchain-as-a-service company that aims to lift people out of extreme poverty by connecting them with global supply chains, brands, organizations, and governments. The company connects the unbanked population to the global economy via a distributed ledger of financial and personal records using blockchain technology. Once users create a transaction history on the BanQu blockchain, they create a trackable personal history that serves as a form of identity, providing a baseline for them to participate in the global economy.

BanQu originally launched its partnership with AB InBev in August of last year after piloting its identity technology with 2,000+ cassava farmers in Zambia. Since then, the company has rolled out programs in Uganda and India, and is planning efforts in Brazil.

“ABInBev has been an incredible partner to BanQu over the past year, and together we have innovated and scaled the BanQu platform across multiple countries and thousands of farmers. Farmers at the world’s “last mile,” traditionally excluded from the global economy and lacking a verifiable economic identity, are now visible, financially empowered, and connected in the global supply chain of AB InBev,” said BanQu Co-Founder and CEO Ashish Gadnis. “The ZX investment takes this partnership to a whole new level of commitment on both sides. It cements our core shared vision of making the world a better place while being good business stewards.”

BanQu currently has operations across 12 countries including Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Somalia, South Africa, Syria, Uganda, United States, and Zambia. The company has plans for additional rollouts in China and Mexico later this year.

$468 Million Raised by 20 Alums in Q1 of 2019

One of the big questions about first quarter funding for Finovate alums over the past few years asked: which is the truer barometer of the fintech funding environment: the post-election parsimony of Q1 2017 or the billion+ investment rebound of Q1 2018?

We now have our answer: Alums in the first quarter of 2019 racked in more than $468 million in funding. This figure more than doubles the Q1 2017 total, and represents financings from 20 companies that have demoed at our conferences in the past (both Finovate and FinDEVr). Q1 2019 totals are less than that of the previous two first quarters in 2016 and 2015, but on a “per alum funded” basis this year’s first quarter is comparable to all but 2018’s historic start.

Previous Quarterly Comparisons

  • Q1 2018: $1.32 billion raised by 26 alums
  • Q1 2017: $230 million raised by 20 alums
  • Q1 2016: $656 million raised by 32 alums
  • Q1 2015: $680 million raised by 29 alums

Unlike some quarters in which overall totals are boosted by a single outsized investment (Credit Karma’s $500 million fundraising in Q1 of last year comes to mind), the first quarter investments for alums this year were in the moderate range. That said, adding up to $428 million, this quarter’s top 10 equity investments make up a sizable 91.5% of the quarter’s total funding.

Top 10 Equity Investments

  1. Stash: $65 million
  2. Tink: $63 million
  3. Coverhound: $58 million
  4. Nutmeg: $58 million
  5. Personal Capital: $50 million
  6. Mambu: $34 million
  7. Featurespace: $32.2 million
  8. Socure: $30 million
  9. SpyCloud: $21 million
  10. Zafin: $17.2 million

Here is our detailed alum funding report for Q1 2019.

January: More than $111 million raised by five alums

February: More than $276 million raised by nine alums

March: More than $81 million raised by six alums

If you are a Finovate alum that raised money in the first quarter of 2019 and do not see your company listed, please drop us a note at research@finovate.com. We would love to share the good news! Funding received prior to becoming an alum not included.

Top image designed by Freepik