Circle Lands $25 Million, Partners with Digital Asset Brokerage Firm Genesis

Blockchain-based money transfer platform Circle is making double headlines today. The U.S.-based company not only landed $25 million in funding, it also partnered with Genesis, an institutional trading firm offering two-sided liquidity for digital currency, including bitcoin.

Genesis parent company Digital Currency Group is the investor behind the $25 million. The investment is Circle’s first since August of 2018 and brings the company’s total funding to $271 million.

“Circle has been a pioneer in the digital currency market, building innovative products and services, and has consistently provided our industry with leadership on technology, standards, and regulatory policy,” said Genesis CEO Michael Moro. “With the rapid rise of USDC, we are clearly seeing mainstream momentum for digital currencies, and through this partnership with Circle we believe we can materially advance our shared mission of building a new global financial system.”

Circle will use the new funding to accelerate the adoption of USDC, a digital dollar stablecoin issued by regulated FIs, backed by fully reserved assets, governed by membership-based consortium Centre, and redeemable on a 1:1 basis for U.S. dollars. USDC has been gaining traction this year; earlier this month the cryptocurrency’s market capitalization crossed the $1 billion mark.

The investment will also provide a boost for Circle’s new Business Account and API products that the company launched earlier this year. These new services offer financial services companies a suite of APIs for USDC payments, facilitating the use of USDC in e-commerce, on-demand delivery marketplaces, digital gaming, internet services, P2P digital wallets, exchanges, B2B payments, challenger banks, trade finance, and digital asset lending and yield products.

“The partnership announced today between Circle and Genesis will bring to market solutions for businesses and developers who are seeking to generate strong positive yield from their own or customer USDC holdings, and access to USDC-based credit for businesses and merchants that are using USDC for treasury operations and business payments,” said Circle’s Josh Hawkins in a blog post announcement.

Digital Currency Group, which describes itself as the “epicenter of the bitcoin and blockchain industry,” has made 180 investments since it was founded in 2011. Digital Currency Asset Manager Grayscale and crypto news organization Coindesk are also Digital Currency Group’s subsidiaries.


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Thought Machine Locks in $42 Million in Funding

Cloud banking technology provider Thought Machine has secured another $42 million in funding, boosting its Series B round to a total of $125 million after picking up an $83 million investment this spring. The new infusion of capital was led by Eurazeo Growth and featured participation from new investors British Patient Capital and SEB.

The investment will help the company to continue its international expansion – including the addition of new hires in the APAC region, the U.S., and in Australia. The company also plans to use the funding to fuel development of new products and functionalities, including a new payments solution.

“The prospect of transitioning to cloud native technology is now at the forefront of every major bank’s roadmap,” ThoughtMachine CEO Paul Taylor said. “Plans have been hastened in the wake of regulatory pressure, economic uncertainty, and the need to manage cost-income ratios.”

Thought Machine’s signature offering, Vault, is a modern, cloud-native core banking system designed for financial institutions burdened with legacy technology. Demonstrated at the company’s Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2018, Vault provides a secure, fast, and reliable end-to-end banking system that manages users, accounts, savings, loans, mortgages, smart contracts, and other financial products and services. By leveraging APIs and a microservice architecture, Vault is able to provide financial institutions with all the functionality necessary for bank operations. Currently geared toward retail and small business banking, the company plans to add both commercial banking and private wealth services “in the future.”

Named to the Tech Nation Future Fifty in March, and joining the Mastercard Start Path Programme in May, Thought Machine announced in June that its Vault platform was compatible with all major cloud infrastructure providers including Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and IBM Cloud. Founded in 2014 and headquartered in London, Thought Machine includes Atom Bank and Lloyds Banking Group among its partners.

Revolut Adds $80 Million to Series D; Valuation Remains at $5.5 Billion

The only thing better than receiving a $500 million investment in February may be getting another $80 million in funding five months later.

Alternative bank Revolut announced late last week that TSG Consumer Partners is the latest investor to join its Series D round. The $80 million investment from the VC firm takes the London, U.K.-based company’s total for the current round to $580 million. Revolut noted that its estimated $5.5 billion valuation in February remains the same.

Company founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky told Silicon Republic that the additional funding was an instance of TSG Consumer Partners making an offer the company could not refuse. He said that Revolut was not seeking additional funding when the opportunity from TSG developed. “TSG approached us with an exciting proposition to work together,” Storonsky said, adding that the VC firm’s track record of working with “some of the most successful and innovative consumer companies in recent years” was a major plus for the partnership. TSG Consumer Partners has funded companies like BrewDog, Smashbox Cosmetics, and Vitamin Water.

With more than 12 million customers around the world, Revolut offers consumers a variety of banking and personal financial services including a digital bank account with PFM tools, P2P payments, and interbank exchange rate currency exchange. The accounts also come with a prepaid debit card, early payday for direct deposit customers, and stock trading tools.

Founded in 2015 and making its Finovate debut that same year, Revolut launched in the U.S. this spring and has since opened operations in Lithuania, added to its leadership team in Singapore, and reached a milestone of one million customers in Ireland. More recently, the company has expanded its cryptocurrency service to its U.S.-based customers, and partnered with TrueLayer to bring the benefits of open banking technology to its million-plus customers in France.


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Scalable Capital Lands $460 Million Valuation with New $58 Million Funding Round

Scalable Capital landed $58 million (€50 million) for its roboadvisory platform this week. The new funds come courtesy of BlackRock, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, and Tengelmann Ventures.

Today’s round brings Scalable Capital’s total funding to $133 million (€116 million) and boosts the Germany-based company’s valuation to $460 million. Scalable Capital will use the investment to grow in the wealth management and brokerage spaces, and invest in the B2B side of its business.

“In times of COVID-19, our funding round is a powerful signal; it shows that our focused, digital business model is convincing the investors,” said company Co-founder and Co-CEO, Erik Podzuweit. “We will use the additional capital to expand our position as the market leader in digital wealth management and to reach new customer segments with the broker.”

With 80,000 customers across Germany, Austria, the U.K., and Switzerland, Scalable Capital has $2 billion in assets under management. The company offers personalized, fully managed investment portfolios.

Using its risk management technology, Scalable Capital’s B2C offering aims to make investing accessible for everyone by charging simple, transparent fees.

“We established Scalable Capital to make investing easier and better through technology,” said Scalable Capital Co-founder and Co-CEO Florian Prucker. “Not only has our B2C business grown strongly over the last few years, but Scalable Capital’s technology is also used by more and more B2B partners; most recently we launched our partnership with Barclays. With this funding round, we also want to expand our team of currently 130 employees in order to drive our expansion and the further development of our platform.”

The company’s flagship offering is a B2B approach that brings its roboadvisory technology to help banks offer their clients a different flavor of investing. Scalable Capital recently added three additional partners to its roster and now boasts partnerships with firms including Barclays, Gerd Kommer Capital, Raiffeisen Banking Group Austria, ING Deutschland, Siemens Private Finance, Openbank, Targobank, Oskar, and Baader Bank, and others.


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Goldman and Mastercard Back Bond to Help Banks Forge Tech Partnerships

Bond, a company that specializes in helping banks make the most out of their collaborations with technology partners has raised $32 million in Series A funding.

The round was led by Coatue, and featured participation from both Goldman Sachs and Mastercard. Canaan, B Capital, XYZ Ventures, and angel investors including former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack were also involved in the round.

“The ongoing global pandemic and renewed focus on societal inequities make Bond’s mission of driving financial innovation and inclusion more important now than ever before,” Bond CEO and co-founder Roy Ng said in a statement. “Opportunity starts with access. We look to lead the industry in enabling banks and innovators across industries to level the playing field for consumers and small business.”

Bond offers banks a suite of developer-focused APIs and SDKs that remove friction from many of the critical processes involved in bank-brand partnerships, such as onboarding, technical integration, and product monitoring. Bond’s AI-enabled technology centralizes and streamlines these processes, and uses automation to provide oversight and ensure compliance.

“Today, more than ever, speed to market with a proven, reliable product is a competitive advantage,” explained Sherri Haymond, EVP, Digital Partnerships, Mastercard. “Bond provides an entirely new approach to help its fintech and bank partners deliver for the end user. We look forward to working with them as they move to this next stage.”

In a blog post discussing the announcement, Ng articulated the challenge facing smaller regional banks and community lenders when they try to forge partnerships with technology companies. He blamed a wide variety of factors – from compliance to operational constraints – for making it difficult for these partnerships to even “get off the ground.” This, Ng said, is where Bond comes in. “Rather than have every app and every bank recreate the wheel for each new partnership, Bond now does the hard work in the middle so banks and brands can each concentrate on what they do best,” he said.


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Taulia Garners $60 from J.P. Morgan Chase and Ping An

Sometimes the story in a funding announcement isn’t necessarily the funding itself, but rather the investors. That’s the case with today’s news of supply chain finance provider Taulia’s $60 million funding round.

The strategic round, which brings Taulia’s total funding to $177 million, was led by China-based Ping An Global Voyager Fund. J.P. Morgan and Prosperity7 Ventures also participated, along with existing investors including Zouk Capital.

With today’s funding, The Wall Street Journal estimates Taulia’s valuation at $400 million.

The strategic relationship tied with this funding round signals international expansion for California-based Taulia, which already has a global customer base. “Ping An, J.P. Morgan and Prosperity7 Ventures bring a wealth of knowledge that we will leverage to further solve liquidity needs of businesses and contribute to economic growth,” said Taulia CEO Cedric Bru.

“Taulia is at the forefront of supply chain finance technology, with a global footprint that spans over two million SME suppliers and a suite of solutions that dramatically improves SMEs’ ability to manage cash,” said Managing Director and COO of the Ping An Global Voyager Fund, Donald Lacey. “We are excited to partner with Cedric and his team to build out their capabilities in China.”

The investment further deepens Taulia’s ties with JP Morgan. The two initiated a relationship earlier this year that aimed to help J.P. Morgan build a trade finance solution for its clients. “We’re committed to bringing the best solutions in the market to our customers and our strategic alliance with Taulia has been well received by clients,” said J.P. Morgan’s Global Head of Trade, Stuart Roberts. “The investment component is another step in our relationship as we look to better serve clients and their supply chains within our Global Trade franchise.”

Founded in 2009, Taulia helps businesses improve their supply chains by providing financing options with flexible payment terms. Their tools help businesses accelerate payments and free up working capital. A network of two million businesses use Taulia’s technology. The company processes over $500 billion every year. Taulia’s clients include Airbus, AstraZeneca, Nissan and Vodafone.

Canadian Data Aggregator Flinks Raises $11 Million in Funding

Flinks, a startup based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that specializes in data aggregation for financial services, has secured $11 million in Series A funding. The investment was led by NAventures, the VC arm of National Bank of Canada, which also provided $5.2 million in debt financing. Also participating in the round were Intact Ventures, Luge Capital, and Panache Ventures.

Flinks CEO Yves-Gabriel Leboeuf called the investment “timely” adding that the company was “well on track” to meet the goals it has previously set and was now ready to “face new, bigger challenges.” In a Q&A announcement at the company blog, Lebouef explained that, having focused on retail banking up to this moment, the company will look to expand into what he referred to as “wealth data.”

“Flinks will enable connections to data sources in the wealth management space, through a new aggregation service,” Lebouef said. “This is something we’re going to pull off in the near future – in fact, we’re already well into the beta phase.”

Founded in 2016, Flinks helps businesses provide users with the financial services they want. The company’s technology enables companies to connect their customer’s bank accounts, and to leverage data insights to build better, more personalized financial products. Lebouef noted that “roughly 1 in 3 Canadians” have connected their bank accounts with his company, which has processed 300+ million connections.

The investment will help Flinks expand to new markets and take advantage of the opportunities of open banking. Managing Director, Venture Capital, NAventures Philippe Daoust said, “We see great alignment between Flinks’ mission and our own focus on helping our clients manage their finances by providing them with innovative and reliable digital solutions.”

Flinks, which signed its first client in the spring of 2017 and its 100th client a year later, began 2020 by adding Clayton Feick as its new Chief Revenue Officer. Feick is a veteran of Quandl and Thomson Reuters, where he was vice president and global head of sales and business development and global lead, respectively.

Chainalysis Raises $13 Million for Crypto Intelligence

Blockchain analysis company Chainalysis is on a mission to promote trust and transparency for cryptocurrencies. Aiding that undertaking today is an additional $13 million in funding to add to its Series B round.

The new investment comes from Ribbit Capital and Sound Ventures and brings Chainalysis’ Series B round to $49 million. The New York-based company’s total funding now stands at almost $67 million.

Chainalysis was founded in 2014 and was recently valued at $266 million, according to Pitchbook. Among its offerings are automated cryptocurrency transaction monitoring software, investigation software for tracing the flow of funds across blockchains, and profiles of cryptocurrency businesses.

As a part of the deal, Chainalysis has gained former Treasury Department official and current Ribbit Capital General Partner Sigal Mandelker as an advisor.

Mandelker and the new funds both play a key role as Chainalysis invests more into the government side of its business. While Chainalysis offers solutions for private sector businesses and financial institutions, the company also works with a handful of U.S. government agencies, including the IRS, the DEA, ICE, and the SEC.

In an interview with blockchain publication The Block, Chainalysis CEO and Co-founder Michael Gronager said, “We extended our Series B in order to meet demand for our services, primarily from government customers. Government agencies understand that visibility into cryptocurrency is important to national security and that crypto crime does not let up during a pandemic. Importantly, this also has long-term benefits to the cryptocurrency industry.”

As transactions move to the digital realm and more countries begin considering CBDCs, Chainalysis is making a smart move in pouring more resources into its government-focused services. Mandelker said she is “excited to work with the Chainalysis team to help develop public-private partnerships, enhance ground-breaking technologies in financial services, and root out illicit networks.”


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Zeller Raises $4.4 Million to Change the World of Business Banking

Business banking services provider Zeller launched earlier this year to offer businesses in Australia a new way to bank. Heading up the new company is ex-Square duo Ben Pfisterer and Dominic Yap, which just revealed a round of funding Zeller landed earlier this year.

The investment, which closed before the emergence of the coronavirus, totaled $4.4 million (AU$6.3 million). The seed round was led by Square Peg and saw contributions from Apex Capital Partners.

Taking aim at the lack of alternative business banking services in Australia, Zeller seeks to compete with traditional banks by better serving the small business banking market.

“First and foremost [businesses] need to get paid, then they need somewhere to put that money and then need a way to deploy it, to pay their bills and staff and invest further,” Pfisterer told Business Insider Australia. “What we wanted to do was create a solution that did all three for them on one system.”

Specifically, Zeller is targeting the historically underserved category of mid-market businesses, a group Pfisterer estimates at 1.5 million. While the company hasn’t yet launched its services, once it does it will offer payment acceptance technology, business financial management tools, an instant deposit account, and a fee-free debit card.

“You see neobanks popping up everywhere, but they’re all consumer-focused. There’s no sort of neobank focused on all these other business needs. It’s quite complicated but we think we have something completely unique.” said Pfisterer of the Australian market.

Worldwide, there have been a flood of new consumer-focused challenger banks in the past year. However, we’ve seen rising competition in challenger banks working in the businesses banking arena. Among the new entrants are Arival Bank, which was founded in 2018 and recently unveiled its business bank account. Digital payments company Square also announced plans to launch a small business bank next year.


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More Than $975 Million Raised by 15 Alums in Q2 2020

Finovate alums raised more than $975 million in equity funding in the second quarter of 2020. The sum represents investments received by 15 companies that have demonstrated their technologies at our conferences, and includes three fundings in which the amount of the investment was not disclosed.

This year’s total is a retreat from the past two years’ totals, both in terms of amount raised and the number of alums reporting equity funding. In some respects, Q2 2020’s fundraising total “fills the gap” from the big jump in funding from Q2 2017 to Q2 2018.

Previous Quarterly Comparisons

  • Q2 2019: More than $1.8 billion raised by 29 alums
  • Q2 2018: More than $1.5 billion raised by 25 alums
  • Q2 2017: More than $726 million raised by 25 alums
  • Q2 2016: More than $510 million raised by 23 alums

While total investment for Q2 2020 was lower than it was in the previous year’s Q2s, it is notable that seven of the top ten fundings were investments between $150 million and $100 million. In many instances, one sizable investment will be responsible for a significant amount of a quarter’s investment total. Consider the boost Sofi’s $500 million funding provided in Q2 2019. The large sum sent that quarter’s total soaring to a new record Q2 high. By comparison, this year’s high number of low, nine-figure fundings comes across as a welcome shift in the distribution of VC wealth.

Top Ten Equity Investments for Q2 2020

  • EVO Payments: $150 million
  • Marqeta: $150 million
  • BioCatch: $145 million
  • AvidXchange: $128 million
  • Stash: $112 million
  • Onfido: $100 million
  • Payfone: $100 million
  • Featurespace: $37.4 million
  • M1 Finance: $33 million
  • Meniga: $9.4 million

It must be noted that, while venture capital investment has slowed somewhat in response to the COVID-19 crisis, merger and acquisition activity has been robust, relatively speaking. Among our alums alone, Q2 saw two major fintech acquisitions: Mastercard’s purchase of Finicity – valued as high as 1 $billion – and Personal Capital’s just-announced $825 million acquisition by Empower Retirement.

Here is our detailed alum funding report for Q2 2020.

April 2020: More than $638 million raised by six alums

May 2020: More than $187 million raised by three alums

June 2020: More than $150 million raised by six alums


If you are a Finovate alum that raised money in the second quarter of 2020, 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.


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ID.me Secures $8.3 Million in New Funding

McLean, Virginia-based digital identity network ID.me has boosted its total equity capital to more than $39 million after locking in an investment of $8.3 million this week. The new funding comes from a $12.5 million equity offering from the company, which featured the participation of 32 different investors.

ID.me has not provided any commentary on the investment, nor disclosed plans for how it will use the additional capital. The company’s previous fundraising was a $19 million Series B round in March 2017, according to Crunchbase.

The global public health crisis has put a spotlight on digital identity companies like ID.me. In March, the company announced the launch of a real-time collaboration workspace on messaging platform, Slack, to help health care providers share information about the coronavirus. In April, ID.me teamed up with DrFirst to make it easier for health care workers to verify their identities when using DrFirst’s mobile e-prescribing app, iPrescribe.

And in May, ID.me partnered with Shoes.com, enabling the company to accurately verify frontline healthcare workers as part of its program to provide them with discounts on footwear.

“As the U.S. enters its third month battling COVID-19, first responders and healthcare workers continue to soldier tremendous burdens and personal risks as they fight day-to-day on the frontlines of the pandemic,” ID.me founder and CEO Blake Hall said. “We are honored to play a role in the Step Up program and proudly support Shoes.com’s efforts to recognize these national heroes.”

A Finovate alum since 2014, ID.me most recently demonstrated its identity verification gateway at FinovateSpring in 2017. The company’s identity verification services – ranging from multi-factor authentication, document verification, and compliance monitoring, in addition to its identity gateway – are used by a wide variety of well-known organizations and institutions including USAA, NASA, Under Armor, and the United States Department of Treasury.

ID.me notes that it onboards 60,000 new users a day and has a total of 24 million users of its technology. Earlier this month, the company announced another partnership, this time working with LensDirect as part of their We See You, Heroes initiative to provide frontline health care workers and first responders with discounts on vision care products.


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India-Based Slice Raises $6 Million for Digital Payments

Slice (fka SlicePay), a millennial-focused challenger bank headquartered in India, raised $6 million in a pre-Series B financing round. The investment brings the company’s total funding to $27.7 million in combined debt and equity.

Gunosy led the round. Also participating were EMVC, Kunal Shah, Better Capital, as well as existing investor Das Capital.

According to Slice Co-founder and CEO Rajan Bajaj, the company will use the funds to acquire new users. In fact, Slice hopes to add 500,000 new customers within the next year. This is double the company’s existing active user base of 250,000.

Slice will also use the new $6 million to increase its workforce and explore banking partnerships to release co-branded cards.

Unique to Slice is its underwriting model, which is a key element in a country where customers are burdened with limited or no credit files. To help users build their credit, Slice offers a card that comes with a pre-approved credit line that offers installment loans, enabling users to buy now and pay later.

Slice is one of only a handful of challenger banks in India. Others in the subsector, including PayTM, Google Pay, and Walmart’s PhonePe, are all very large players. However, Slice seems to be fairing well. The company has been profitable since last year. And the simple fact that it raised funds in today’s economic environment where VCs are reluctant to invest speaks volumes of its potential.

“We believe Slice has a sustainable advantage as it has decoded young credit users’ demands and has built a deep understanding of credit risk and low-cost distribution using technology,” said Gunosy Director Yuki Maniwa.


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