Identity Verification Specialist Socure Scores $100 Million in New Funding

Identity Verification Specialist Socure Scores $100 Million in New Funding

Digital identity verification company Socure announced that it has secured $100 million in Series D funding in a round led by Accel and featuring participation from the investment divisions of Citi and Wells Fargo. The investment brings the company’s total capital to more than $196 million.

“We are now more confident than ever that we will be the first company to eliminate identity fraud while unlocking complete and fully-automated coverage of every good ID,” Socure CEO Johnny Ayers said.

Also participating in the round were Commerce Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, Flint Capital, Strategic Capital, Synchrony, Sorenson, and Two Sigma Ventures. And while a specific new valuation was not included in the funding announcement, Socure’s Ayers hinted at the lofty level – and more – in congratulating his team on the company’s success.

“Reaching unicorn status is a testament to our dedicated and talented team which we are looking forward to rapidly scaling to meet demand,” Ayers said. “We are incredibly grateful for the chance to innovate and partner to solve this problem with some of the greatest companies in the world and are energized for the opportunities that lay ahead for Socure, especially as we make our march to a potential IPO.”

A Finovate alum since 2013, the company demonstrated its digital-to-physical identity verification technology at our fall conference in 2017. Socure’s predictive analytics platform marries AI and machine learning with trusted on- and offline data intelligence from a wide variety of sources to verify identities in real time. Operating in a number of verticals ranging from financial services and eCommerce to gaming and telecom, Socure has more than 350 customers including three of the top five banks, six of the top 10 card issuers, and more than 75 of the most innovative fintechs including Varo Money, Chime, and Stash.

More recently, Socure announced a partnership with advisory, tax, and assurance firm Baker Tilly that has since established that Socure’s Intelligent KYC product meets “and creates additional assurance” in providing USA PATRIOT Act compliance. Earlier in the year, Socure had announced that Intelligent KYC would be made available to digital gaming operators in eleven states.

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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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NYDIG Raises $200 Million in New Funding to Bring Bitcoin to the Banks

NYDIG Raises $200 Million in New Funding to Bring Bitcoin to the Banks

We noted the $200 million fundraising announced by cryptocurrency solution provider NYDIG earlier this week. Given the investors involved, the amount invested, and the potential implications for further popularization of digital assets, we thought the round was worth a closer look.

New York-based NYDIG is a leading provider of technology and investment solutions for Bitcoin. Founded in 2017 by Robert Gutmann (CEO) and Ross Stevens (Executive Chairman), NYDIG offers banks, corporations, insurers, and high net worth (HNW) individuals financing, custody, execution, and research and advisory services to help them manage their Bitcoin holdings. NYDIG also offers industry-leading expertise in the derivatives markets for institutional investors seeking customized opportunities, from generating yield to establishing hedges.

This week’s financing takes the company’s total funding to $305 million, according to Crunchbase. The strategic partners involved included Stone Ridge Holdings Group, Morgan Stanley, New York Life, MassMutual, Soros Fund Management, FS Investments, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FinTech Collective.

“These partnerships leave no doubt that institutional adoption of Bitcoin has arrived and, further, that NYDIG is the partner of choice for serious financial services firms with the highest fiduciary and diligence standards,” Gutmann said. He announced that the company plans to deliver “an explosion of innovation in Bitcoin products and services” over the balance of the year.

Gutmann also added that the round’s investors will help NYDIG on “strategic initiatives” ranging from investment management and banking to clean energy and insurance. To underscore the point, the company’s statement also reported that life, annuity, and property & casualty insurers currently own in aggregate more than $1 billion of direct and indirect Bitcoin exposure. This exposure is both facilitated exclusively by NYDIG and is held in the firm’s secure, audited, and insured institutional custody platform.

NYDIG has partnered with a number of Finovate alums in recent months. This year alone, the company teamed up with Best of Show winner Kasasa to bring bitcoin wallet functionality to community banks and credit unions. Also in February, NYDIG collaborated with NYMBUS to help financial institutions add Bitcoin products and services to their digital offerings.

“As a notable advocate for financial institutions, Nymbus stood out as a partner to take our vision for Bitcoin and banking to the next level,” NYDIG Head of Bank Solutions Patrick Sells said when the partnership was announced. “As a former banker and technology evangelist, I couldn’t be more excited to bring Bitcoin and banking together, and I see it as a win/win.”

M1 Finance Scores $75 Million in Series D

M1 Finance Scores $75 Million in Series D

M1 Finance has raised another $75 million in funding to support its finance super app, which combines investing, borrowing, and spending functionality into a single platform. The Series D round was led by Coatue, and featured participation from Left Lane Capital, Jump Capital, and Clocktower Technology Ventures.

The investment brings M1 Finance’s total capital to more than $173 million, $153 million of which was raised in just the last ten months.

In a blog post, company founder and CEO Brian Barnes said that the funding will help M1 Finance add talent and “invest in innovation that furthers our mission.” Barnes wrote that rather than merely “incentivizing trading”, the goal of M1 Finance is to offer a “holistic, smart platform that encourages and enables you to practice good financial habits.” He added that this meant innovating in all areas of the customer experience – from more tools to better interfaces to a more seamless integration “with your whole financial life.”

M1 Finance’s platform includes three components: M1 Invest enables users to build their own investment portfolio for free and manage the portfolio with automatic, one-click rebalancing. Fractional share investing is also available. M1 Borrow offers a flexible portfolio line of credit for accounts of $10,000 or more, and M1 Spend gives users a checking account to make it easier for them to repay their loans on time, as well as set up direct deposits and schedule automatic investments.

In his blog post, Barnes also shared some recent milestones for the Chicago, Illinois-based company. M1 Finance topped $3 billion in client assets last month, reported a 3x increase in new sign-ups in January 2021 compared to the previous month, and noted a 2.5x growth in new sign-ups between January 26 and February 8 compared to the previous two weeks.

“We’re building (an) experience for people with thousands and millions,” he wrote. “Whether you have $50 million or $50,000 we want you to have the right tools, the right education, and the right control over your future.”

A Finovate alum since its conference debut in 2016, M1 Finance has partnered with the likes of Rackspace Technology and, in December, launched a new “smart transfers” feature. The fully customizable solution enables those subscribed to M1 Finance’s M1 Plus program to set “threshold-based rules to cascade available funds between M1 accounts.”

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U.K. Challenger Starling Bank Scores $376 Million in New Funding

U.K. Challenger Starling Bank Scores $376 Million in New Funding

In its biggest fundraising to date, U.K.-based challenger bank Starling Bank has secured ($376 million) £270m in funding. The Series D round was led by Fidelity Management and Research. Also participating in investment were the Qatar Investment Authority, RPMI Railpen, and Millennium Management.

Starling hopes to use the capital to grow its lending book and to expand throughout Europe. M&A activity is also on the table for the digital challenger. The fundraising, which remains subject to regulatory approval, will give the neobank a pre-money valuation of £1.1 billion.

Founded by Anne Boden and headquartered in London, Starling now has more than two million accounts, including 300,000 SME business accounts. Starling Bank says that it has 5% of the small business market in the country, as well as deposits of more than £5.4 billion. The firm has made loans valued at more than £2 billion – much of that while participating in the government’s COVID financial relief programs.

“Digital banking has reached a tipping point,” Boden said in a statement announcing the investment. “Customers now expect a fairer, smarter and more human alternative to the banks of the past and that is what we are giving them at Starling as we continue to grow and add new products and services. Our new investors will bring a wealth of experience as we enter the next stage of growth, while the continued support of our existing backers represents a huge vote of confidence.”

Starling reached profitability late last year. Since then, the company has forged partnerships with iZettle, Dingy Insurance, PensionBee, and Finovate alum SumUp. Boden has hinted recently that an IPO could be “two to three years” away for the digital challenger. “I didn’t do all of this to sell out to a big bank,” she said.

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Five On It: Black Neobank First Boulevard Raises Seed Funding

Five On It: Black Neobank First Boulevard Raises Seed Funding

First Boulevard, a challenger bank dedicated to serving the African American community, announced a $5 million seed funding round this week. Participating in the investment were Barclays, Anthemis, and a number of angel investors including actress Gabrielle Union and AutoZone CFO Jamere Jackson. Donald Hawkins, CEO and co-founder of the Overland, Kansas-based neobank, said that the funding would help First Boulevard build out its business marketplace of black-owned SMEs for its Cash Back for Buying Black program.

The capital will also enable the company to grow its team, its customer base, and its platform. Co-founded last August by Hawkins and COO Asya Bradley during the George Floyd/anti-racism protests of 2020, First Boulevard anticipates launching in Q3 of 2021. Among the neobank’s initial offerings will be a no-fee debit card, solutions to automate savings and wealth-building, as well as financial education resources.

As we noted last month in our Black History Month look at African-American based digital banks, the fledgling challenger bank already has forged an innovative partnership with Visa. First Boulevard will pilot a new suite of Visa’s crypto APIs that enable the trading and custody of digital assets.

“The First Boulevard mission is to help Black America build wealth,” Hawkins said last month when the initiative was announced. “We are thrilled to partner with the leader in digital payments, Visa, and leverage their crypto APIs to provide another channel for the Black community to access crypto as a new asset class that can help build Black wealth.”

First Boulevard’s participation in the cryptocurrency project is a reminder of the growing intersection between the African American community and digital assets. A growing number of black observers of and participants in the cryptocurrency space have advocated Bitcoin and other digital assets as a way for African Americans to achieve independence from a financial structure many believe is systemically stacked against them.

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Klarna Scores Big in New Billion Dollar Funding Round

Klarna Scores Big in New Billion Dollar Funding Round

Europe’s most valuable fintech startup just got a lot more valuable.

Klarna announced on Monday that it has raised $1 billion in new funding and earned a lofty valuation of $31 billion. The company, which set out to raise $500 million in the just-ended round, credited investor demand for the exceptional amount raised. Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski also cited strong growth in the U.S. as a reason why investor dollars are flocking toward his company.

“What definitely has accelerated and changed is the success in the U.S. market,” Siemiatkowski said. “Investors are seeing Klarna getting ahead of its competitors. I think that has changed the perspective and changed the view on our valuation.”

According to Siemiatkowski, investors are seeing Klarna as the king of an e-commerce wave that is making Buy Now Pay Later a mainstream financing approach. The reverse layaway strategy of enabling consumers to receive goods and services now and pay for them in equal installments over time has made BNPL the hottest new thing in online shopping. Klarna, which was founded in 2005 and made its Finovate debut seven years later, has been a pioneer in “after delivery payment” and other forms of consumer financing for years. This week’s financing is, in part, a recognition of this fact and a bet that, amid rising competition, Klarna will come out on top.

Right now, both Siemiatkowski and Klarna’s backers seem equally eager to take on legacy consumer financing options as well as Klarna’s BNPL rivals. Pointing out how the buy now pay later approach is fairer insofar as it makes the same offer to all consumers, Siemiatkowski adds, “There’s a number of investors out there that agree with us. They see that this credit card industry is actually at its core flawed and needs some innovation.”

In addition to using the new capital for acquisitions, the company is more interested in synergies that will “help people save time and money” than it is in purchasing rivals. That said, Siemiatkowski does have a few novel uses for at least some of the company’s new funding: Klarna will donate approximately $10 million to organizations that are dedicated to fighting climate change.

More than 30 current and new investors participated in Klarna’s latest fundraising, including Silver Lake, Sequoia Capital, BlackRock, and HMI Capital. Other investors included Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC and individual investor, rapper Snoop Dogg.

Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Klarna claims 90 million users and 250,000 merchant partners around the world. The company is optimistic about its growth in the U.S., saying they expect it to overtake Germany as its biggest market by the end of this year. The company has inked partnerships with 20 of the top 100 brands in the U.S., and said it gained a million new customers a month in the States in the final quarter of last year.

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Subaio Lands $5.9 Million from Ex-Mastercard President

Subaio Lands $5.9 Million from Ex-Mastercard President

Subscription management startup Subaio landed $5.9 million (€4 million) this week. The investment comes from newly established venture firm, Global PayTech Ventures, which ex-Mastercard President Javier Perez launched after stepping down from Mastercard at the start of this year.

Founded in 2016, Subaio has received two previous funding rounds. The first came from Nordea in 2018 and the second was from startup accelerator Plug and Play last year. Both rounds were undisclosed.

“There is a massive market demand within the payments ecosystem and the team has deep technical expertise and a great product that solves a problem for banks and consumers alike,” said Perez. “That is why they have a European market leading position within the subscription management space, and we will invest both capital, our payment expertise and network of global contacts to realize the company’s full potential.”

Subaio’s value proposition fits well into today’s economy, where the average consumer has between eight and 11 subscriptions. That’s because Subaio enables banks to help their consumers view, manage, and cancel their subscriptions with one easy-to-use interface.

Eight bank clients, including Nordea, ABN AMRO, and Lunar, are currently leveraging Subaio’s subscription management technology.

Subaio CEO and Co-founder, Thomas Laursen, sees today’s funding as a vote of confidence for the technology. “The fintech sector is flush with funding,” said Laursen. “Thus, raising capital is not about how much you raise, but who you raise it from. It was imperative for us to receive a smart money investment that can propel us to the next level. Partnering up with a capacity such as Javier Perez and his team at GPT with their unique insight into the paytech industry is about getting knowledge and network into our company.”

Impact-First TreeCard Raises $5.1 Million in New Funding

Impact-First TreeCard Raises $5.1 Million in New Funding

In a round led by EQT Ventures, London, U.K.-based TreeCard has secured an investment of $5.1 million. The funding takes the company’s total capital raised to $6.1 million.

TreeCard offers a wooden Mastercard debit card and an app that enables users to track their spending and split bills. With backing from Mastercard’s network, TreeCard provides a debit account, with support for chip and PIN, as well as contactless and mobile payments. The card also can receive top-up funding from the user’s other bank accounts. Treecard pledges to spend 80% of its profits to financially support reforestation programs.

Additionally, TreeCard noted that the wood of a single tree – sustainably sourced cherry wood, the company disclosed – can produce more than 300,000 cards. So no need to call out the Lorax. These efficiencies and more (TreeCard’s cards use a core consisting of recycled plastic bottles, as well) are designed to ensure that the company is living up to its status as an “impact first business.”

“We wanted to create a financial product with a difference, one that was far removed from greenwashing and allowed customers to improve the impact of their spending without drastically changing their habits,” TreeCard CEO and co-founder Jamie Cox explained. “As a multi-stage fund, EQT Ventures’ presence across both Europe and the US provides the perfect springboard for us to launch into international markets.”

Also participating in this week’s funding were Seedcamp and Episode 1, along with angel investors including Matt Robinson (founder of GoCardless) and Charlie Delingpole (formerly of ComplyAdvantage). TreeCard said that it has a waiting list of more than 140,000 individuals interested in the card. The company is expected to make its wooden debit card available to consumers “in the next few months.”

TreeCard was founded in 2020.

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