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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Mortgagetech Innovator BeSmartee Announces Strategic Growth Investment

Mortgagetech Innovator BeSmartee Announces Strategic Growth Investment

Digital mortgage software provider BeSmartee has secured a strategic growth investment from Boston-based venture and growth stage investment firm M33 Growth. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In a statement, the company said the capital will help accelerate growth of the Huntington Beach, California-based fintech, as well as power further product innovation.

Calling 2020 a “pivotal year for the mortgage industry,” BeSmartee CEO and co-founder Tim Nguyen underscored the value of a platform like BeSmartee’s in “driv(ing) higher volumes for and ROI to” customers. “We believe that M33’s investment and knowledge will help us to bring our product to more customers and continue to build out our capabilities,” he said.

BeSmartee enables banks, credit unions, and non-bank lenders to deliver a complete digital mortgage experience for their customers. The company offers a white-labeled, mortgage POS that helps lenders go to market faster (zero to POS in 30 days) and better compete with tech-savvy fintechs and marketplace banks. BeSmartee’s technology has been particularly helpful to bank and non-bank lenders alike during the COVID crisis, as lenders have moved “with greater urgency” to embrace digital mortgage options. BeSmartee has referred to this demand for POS platforms as “exponential.”

A Finovate alum since 2017, BeSmartee began this year teaming up with NOVA Home Loans, a Tucson, Arizona-based mortgage banker. Earlier this month, the company announced that it had achieved a 100% customer retention rate in 2020, a 91% customer conversion rate, and growth of 50% in its customer base. “We deepened our integrations with LOS partners, pricing engines, and document providers, along with numerous other integrations to deliver a better experience to our customer base,” BeSmartee Operations Manager Rick Johnston said. “The suite of new tools rapidly increased the rate of loan officer adoption and, in turn, skyrocketed lender ROI.”

Low Code Platform OutSystems Scores $150 Million in New Funding

Low Code Platform OutSystems Scores $150 Million in New Funding

In a round co-led by Abdiel Capital and Tiger Global, low code application development platform OutSystems has raised $150 million in new capital. The funding gives the company a valuation of $9.5 billion, and will help fuel investment in its R&D and go-to-market strategies.

In a statement, OutSystems CEO and founder Paulo Rosado highlighted the challenges businesses face when it comes to keeping pace with innovation in an increasingly digital and software-run world. “Developers are a scarce resource in business today, and the complexities of traditional software development exacerbate the challenges most organizations face when tackling their digital transformation agenda,” Rosado said.

“By fundamentally changing the way software is built, OutSystems makes it possible for every organization to compete, innovate and grow with the developers they already have,” Rosado explained. “We’re focused on helping customers succeed with their most challenging digital transformation initiatives, and today’s announcement is an acknowledgment of our progress on that journey.”

OutSystems gives businesses the ability to deploy and manage critical applications at speed – from enhancing the customer experience to streamlining and automating processes to modernizing legacy systems. OutSystems leverages a visually-based, model-driven development approach to enable institutions to build differentiation into their solution, maximize the development talent on hand, and accelerate the process of concept iteration to uncover new viable ideas.

OutSystems ended 2020 with a strategic collaboration agreement with AWS and began this year working with Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) and U.K.-based law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn. OutSystems helped YBS develop and build a new online mortgage calculator that has helped increase conversions by 54%, and worked with Shepherd and Wedderburn to create client-facing, “Smarter Working” applications.

“OutSystems matched our vision for reusable architecture, robust application lifecycle management, and a visual approach that would allow developers to focus more on delivering business value instead of coding,” Shepherd and Wedderburn Head of Technology Steve Dalgleish said. “It has given us the speed and agility to deliver effective process and technology solutions – both internally and for our clients – including complex, large scale, high-profile projects.”

An alum of our developers conference, OutSystems presented “Low-Code: The Next Evolution in App Dev Platforms (Oh, and 5xFaster)” at FinDEVrNewYork in 2017. In their presentation, the company showed how it helped take a European retail bank, BPI, through a major digital transformation including solutions for mobile banking, internet banking, branch, and contact center.

With headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts and Lisbon, Portugal, OutSystems has customers in 87 countries around the world and partnerships with 350 corporations including AWS, Deloitte, and fellow Finovate alum Infosys.


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Blockchain.com Secures $120 Million in Funding

Blockchain.com Secures $120 Million in Funding

Cryptocurrency wallet provider Blockchain.com has picked up $120 million in funding. The Series A round featured participation from a sizable number of investors, including Access Industries, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and GV (Google Ventures) – among others. Blockchain.com’s total capital now stands at $190 million, and gives the London, U.K.-based firm a valuation of $3 billion.

In a blog post discussing the strategic financing, Blockchain.com CEO and co-founder Peter Smith highlighted the “immense optimism” toward cryptocurrencies displayed by a growing number of “serious, institutional investors.” He noted that the presence of major macro investors such as Louis Bacon’s Moore Strategic Ventures and Kyle Bass in Blockchain.com’s recent funding, and said it was “further proof that institutions are taking a serious look at their crypto strategy.”

And at Blockchain.com’s crypto strategy, as well. Smith noted that when the company began its Series A in 2014 – the same year it debuted at our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley – the company was powering “just over” two million bitcoin wallets. Today Blockchain.com powers more than 67 million wallets, representing more than $620 billion in transactions. Since 2012, Smith wrote “28% of all Bitcoin transactions … have occurred via Blockchain.com.”

Founded in 2011, Blockchain.com began by offering a blockchain information service, Explorer, and soon after introduced an open source bitcoin wallet to make it easier for investors to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. The company also unveiled Blockchain APIs that helped give a generation of bitcoin businesses the ability to provide services ranging from bitcoin wallet building to transaction verification.

Blockchain currently supports a cryptocurrency exchange, as well as an “exponentially growing” institutional business of digital asset trading, lending, and custody. Smith added that while the wallet remains “at the core” of Blockchain.com’s business, “our Institutional business is now significant enough to cover the entire operating cost of the business globally” in addition to providing further operating profits.


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SeedFi Secures $65 Million to Help Americans Build Credit

SeedFi Secures $65 Million to Help Americans Build Credit

Have you fallen into debt and can’t get up? Fortunately, there’s a new fintech on the scene that has dedicated itself to helping Americans build credit and savings – and get out of debt.

SeedFi, launched in private beta in 2019, announced today that it has raised $15 million in new equity – along with $50 million in debt financing. The Series A round was led by Andreessen Horowitz. Flourish, Core Innovation Capital, and Quiet Capital also participated.

“Our goal is to address the root cause of the problem and leave our customers better off than we found them,” SeedFi CEO and co-founder Jim McGinley explained, “so we’ve structured all of our products to generate savings and build credit.”

SeedFi COO and co-founder Eric Burton explained the savings/debt dilemma for many Americans in a conversation with Crunchbase News. He noted that the lack of savings in the event of an emergency is often the pre-existing condition that can lead to serious debt problems, which in turn, make it more difficult to save. “The insight we’ve learned is to combine savings with credit to address the immediate need for credit in a way that will leave them better off and down the path to a better financial future,” Burton said.

The San Francisco, California-based company plans to put the new capital to use growing its customer base and – with its bank partners – bringing products to market across the country. SeedFi also plans to add to its product offerings, which currently include two solutions: Credit Builder and Borrow and Grow.

“SeedFi is creating a suite of plans to address borrowers at various financial points in their lives,” Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Angela Strange wrote on the company’s blog earlier today. “Customers can start by saving as little as $10 a paycheck through SeedFi’s Credit Builder Plan, which enables them to build credit while they save. For those in need of money, SeedFi’s Borrow and Grow Plan gives customers the cash they need now and sets them up to save for the future.”

Many financial commentators are boasting about the high savings rates many Americans are achieving due to limited spending opportunities during the COVID crisis. Our “K-shaped” economic recovery means that many people are surviving – or even thriving – financially during the pandemic. But there are a significant number of Americans for whom COVID-19 has meant major financial hardship – including loss of income and an increase in consumer debt. For those Americans, fintechs like SeedFi are increasingly part of the solution.


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Personetics Snags $75 Million in New Funding

Personetics Snags $75 Million in New Funding

In a round led by Warburg Pincus, data-driven personalization and customer engagement solution provider Personetics has raised $75 million in new funding. The round brings the company’s total funding to $93 million.

“The financial services industry is reaching a tipping point in mobile adoption and setting a new standard in Smart Personalized Engagement,” Personetics CEO and co-founder Davis Sosna explained. “Personetics has set out down this path and has launched its vision of Self-Driving Finance. We are looking to quickly expand our global footprint with new partners and clients, and support our existing customers with innovative business solutions. We are very excited to be partnering with Warburg Pincus on this journey.”

Personetics teams up with banks and other financial institutions to help them better engage their customers, and to make it easier for them to understand and make the financial decisions they need to improve their lives. The company’s automated financial wellness programs help users reach long-term financial goals by leveraging technologies like AI-driven chatbots to provide personalized, relevant, and timely financial advice and recommendations.

A Finovate alum since 2016, Personetics customers include leading global banks such as U.S. Bank in the U.S., RBC in Canada, Metro Bank in the U.K., UOB in Singapore, and MUFG in Japan. More than 95 million bank customers around the world are using solutions and services enhanced by Personetics’ technology; the company claims its customers are recognizing gains of as much as 35% in their mobile app engagement and a 20% increase in customer account and balance growth.

Last fall, the company announced a partnership with Santander UK to leverage AI-driven personalized insights to boost engagement and enhance the customer digital experience. Together, the two firms launched a new digital solution called My Money Manager that offers cash flow analysis, payment reminders, and other personalized financial insights. In August, Personetics teamed up with Israel-based Discount Bank to launch its auto savings solution, Smart Save.


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NYMBUS Raises $53 Million in Series C Funding

NYMBUS Raises $53 Million in Series C Funding

In a round led by existing investor Insight Partners, banking technology company NYMBUS has secured $53 million in new funding. The Series C round is the company’s largest funding to date, and will help it fulfill its mission of empowering banks and credit unions to leverage digital technology to create new revenue streams.

“As the pandemic has pushed digital to the forefront, more banks and credit unions have turned to Nymbus as their partner for growth,” explained Nymbus’ Jeffrey Kimball, who took the helm as the company’s CEO last September. “This new and significant investment validates a confidence in Nymbus to continue transforming the financial services industry with a banking strategy that buys back decades of lost time to speed digital innovation.”

As part of the funding, Insight Partners principal A.J. Malhotra will join Managing Director Peter Sobiloff on the Nymbus Board of Directors. In the funding announcement, Sobiloff underscored the ability of companies like Nymbus to help financial institutions bridge the gap between their digital goals and their legacy systems. “The shift to profitable digital banking is still in its early stages for many traditional institutions,” Sobiloff said, “and Nymbus fills a tremendous hole in the market for enabling these banks and credit unions to finally move beyond playing catchup and set up their businesses for meaningful growth.”

Nymbus noted that the capital – which takes the firm’s total funding to more than $98 million – also will support the launch of its Nymbus Labs initiative. The “soon-to-be-unveiled” project is designed to make it easier for financial institutions to “leverage niche digital banks” to better engage their customers, uncover new revenue opportunities, and drive innovation.

Nymbus most recently demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2019. At the conference, the Miami Beach, Florida-based company demonstrated SmartLaunch, its full-service, standalone digital bank alternative. In the time since, the company has partnered with PeoplesBank to launch a digital-first alternative ZYNLO, teamed up with NYDIG to help the Bitcoin-based financial services firm offer Bitcoin banking, and announced a pair of C-suite hires: Sarah Howell as Chief Alliance Officer and Larry McClanahan as Chief Product Officer.


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Stash Raises $125 Million

Stash Raises $125 Million

Investment platform Stash announced a new round of financing today. The $125 million Series G round boosts the company’s total funding to over $427 million.

Eldridge led the round, which received additional funding from new and existing investors, including Owl Ventures, funds advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Goodwater Capital, Entree Capital, and others.

The funding comes after a year of record growth for Stash, which was founded in 2015. Last year, the New York-based company saw a 100% increase in account openings. It now has five million customers and $2.5 billion in assets under management. Fueling this increase was the boost in automated deposits; Stash reported a 50% increase in the number of customers automating their investments last year.

Stash’s investment platform democratizes long-term investing by making the process easier and more affordable. “We believe in tried and tested principles of regular, long-term, and balanced investing as the key to building wealth. We therefore built Stash to make diversified investing easy, affordable and accessible, backed by personalized advice and accessible education—in order to avoid the pitfalls of short-term speculation and day-trading,” said Stash Co-Founder and CEO Brandon Krieg. “This new round of funding enables us to take this mission to millions more Americans.”

Stash’s newest upcoming product, Smart Portfolios, helps customers build long-term, diversified portfolios that are fully managed by Stash. The new offering is made for users who want to invest, but don’t know where to start. To keep things simple, Stash uses a subscription model instead of charging fees based on portfolio size. The Smart Portfolios product is included in Stash’s Growth and Plus subscription plans, which cost $3 per month and $9 per month, respectively.


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Digital Banking Innovator Narmi Tops $20 Million in New Funding

Digital Banking Innovator Narmi Tops $20 Million in New Funding

In a round led by New Enterprise Associates, a featuring the participation of more than twelve investors – including executives from Plaid – digital banking solution provider Narmi has raised $20.4 million in new funding. The investment represents the lion’s share of the New York City-based fintech’s total capital, and will be used to help power Narmi’s mission to enable regional banks and credit unions to compete with big banks and neobanks, alike.

“We started Narmi with the mission to help financial institutions thrive in a digital-first world and that mission hasn’t changed,” company co-founder Nikhil Lakhanpal said. “Since launching over four years ago, we’ve experienced over 100% revenue growth every year, launched four enterprise-grade platforms, and helped our partner financial institutions delivery transformational results.”

Also participating in the Series A round were Patriot Financial Partners, Picus Capital, Contour Ventures, and Firebolt Ventures.

Narmi’s cloud-based, API-powered platform gives financial institutions the ability to leverage its digital account opening, consumer and business digital banking, and administrator console platforms to boost growth, increase deposits, and make operations more efficient. The fintech’s customers have reported a 55% increase in new account applications from non-account holders, a 65% reduction in application time, and a 50% decrease in support volume, helping lower back office costs.

And like many fintechs in the digital banking space, Narmi has seen a dramatic uptick in interest in digital solutions with the onset of the COVID pandemic. The company reported a 70% increase in digital activity and transactions across its customer base.

Partner Radius Bank credited Narmi for helping it launch its online and mobile banking experience “50% to 70% faster” than its competitors. Radius Bank, named one of the Best Online Banks of 2021 by Bankrate, and one of the fastest growing banks in Massachusetts, was acquired by LendingClub a year ago for $185 million. Liz Landsman, General Partner at NEA, further praised Narmi for its “understanding of the challenges that regional banks and credit unions are facing to keep pace with an increasingly digitally-centric customer base in banking today.”

Founded in 2016, Narmi also includes Freedom Credit Union and Berkshire Bank among its customers.

FinFirst Celebrates SuperApp’s Successful First Year

FinFirst Celebrates SuperApp’s Successful First Year

Two years after its debut at FinovateMiddleEast, Kuwait-based financial services aggregator FinFirst is celebrating a 2020 that saw the company facilitate millions of dollars worth of financing applications since the launch of its financial services app last summer. The company, founded in 2015 by CEO Abbas Hijazi, unveiled a financial superapp that serves as a marketplace for banks and financial services companies to offer auto, personal, student, and healthcare loans, as well as credit cards and Buy Now Pay Later installment loans. FinFirst promises a secure and fast, 20-click application process that averages less than 10 minutes to complete.

FinFirst also announced this week that it has secured a total of $4 million in equity investment. The investors were not disclosed. Hijazi said the funding “demonstrates the level of confidence in the market for a product which is simply transforming the face of the financial services sector.”

Since it began offering services to the small business community in March of last year – just before the COVID-19 crisis hit – FinFirst has received $40 million worth of financing applications from SMEs. FinFirst also has received $7.7 million worth of consumer financing applications since it began offering consumer-based solutions in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The majority of FinFirst’s personal finance customers are pursuing consumer financing – approximately 60% – while auto financing represents the remaining 40%. The company reports a high 90% lead conversion rate on its superapp, making the platform an attractive option for FinFirst’s financial services partners.

“These first-year results stand us in good stead to build upon a solid foundation of strong business and consumer appeal, which is enhanced by the speed and ease of our digital application app,” explained FinFirst Chief Operating Officer Afrah Al-Hubail. She added that FinFirst plans to spend 2021 enhancing its offering, collaborating with financial services providers and fintechs, as well as forging more partnerships and adding new products.

Among the more recent alliances announced by FinFirst is its partnership with Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank. An Islamic digital bank with total assets of more than $17 billion as of 2019, Boubyan Bank has the National Bank of Kuwait as its major shareholder, and is regarded as one of the up-and-coming banks in the Gulf region. The institution’s CEO and Vice Chairman, Adel Al-Majed, was named Arab Banker of the Year 2020 by The Union of Arab Banks.


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Brazilian Challenger Nubank Hauls in $400 Million

Brazilian Challenger Nubank Hauls in $400 Million

Followers of Finovate Global, our weekly look at fintech innovation around the world, are likely familiar with the story of Brazilian challenger bank Nubank. But with news of the firm’s $400 million Series G round – announced today – we suspect there will be quite a few fintech fans brushing up on the fintech industry in Latin America.

Company founder and CEO David Velez said that the funding will help Nubank grow and diversify its client base, as well as fuel expansion. He added that bringing more products to market is key to becoming the kind of “full service financial institution for clients” that Latin American consumers need. Nubank currently offers a digital savings account, and a no-fee credit card, as well as personal loans. A recent acquisition of Brazilian broker Easyinvest last fall, Nubank’s third of 2020, suggests that investment products also may soon be among the challenger bank’s offerings.

Headquartered in Brazil’s largest city São Paulo, NuBank has earned a valuation of $25 billion with its latest investment. The Series G was led by GIC, Whale Rock Capital Management, and Invesco, and featured participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Tencent Holdings, Dragoneer Investment Group, and Ribbit Capital. The investment more than doubles Nubank’s previous valuation, based its July 2019 funding. The funding also takes the company’s total capital to $1.2 billion and places Nubank among the top five financial institutions in the region.

Nubank serves more than 34 million customers in Brazil and Mexico, and recently expanded to Colombia. The company is part of a growing neobank movement in the country – and the region – that is taking advantage of the inefficiencies of incumbent banks. This, in fact, was a major motivating factor for Velez, as he explained last fall announcing the move into neighboring Colombia.

“Nubank was born out of the conviction that through technology, design, data science and a customer-centric vision we could create a new generation of financial services that make people’s lives easier, with no complexity and no bureaucracy,” Velez said last fall. “All Latin Americans deserve a more simple, transparent and human banking experience. Today, I’m proud to announce the arrival of Nubank in Colombia, my motherland. Our goal is to have a positive impact in the life of millions.”

Founded in 2013, Nubank participated in our developers conference, FinDEVR New York in 2016. At the event, Nubank co-founder and CTO Edward Wible and Principal Software Engineer Lucas Cavalcanti dos Santos led a presentation titled, “Our Money, Our Rulebook,” that explained how they build an in-house accounting system based on functional programming principles. For the past two years in a row, Nubank has been named by Forbes magazine as the Best Bank in Brazil, and Fast Company has dubbed Nubank the “most innovative company in Latin America.”


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What’s Next for Roostify After its $32 Million Series C Round

What’s Next for Roostify After its $32 Million Series C Round

Digital home lending solutions provider Roostify landed $32 million in funding yesterday, bringing its total capital to $65 million.

The round was led by Ten Coves Capital, and included contributions from Cota Capital, Mouro Capital, Colchis Capital, Point72 Ventures, and JPMorgan Chase. The investment will help the San Francisco-based company make home lending faster and more transparent for all parties by leveraging AI.

The Series C funding comes at a time of growth for not only Roostify, but also the mortgage industry in general. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) estimates that purchase originations will grow 8.5% to a new record of $1.54 trillion in 2021, thanks to low mortgage rates and low housing supply boosting demand.

Roostify has seen the effects of this growth. Last year, the company experienced a 250% increase in the number of applications submitted through its system and processed just under 1.5 million loan applications.

And while Roostify was prepared to handle both the volume and the demand for digital that came in 2020, many mortgage providers were not. “While the recent record-breaking origination volume was certainly welcomed, it also overburdened outdated mortgage lending processes and systems,” said Roostify Founder and CEO Rajesh Bhat. “We need to adopt a digital-first mentality that relies on technology-enabled transformation to solve real business problems. In order to thrive in a digital-first world, mortgage lenders need critical digital transformation initiatives, such as cloud-based technology, self-service solutions for consumers, and meaningful AI deployments.”

Founded in 2012, Roostify helps 200+ lending institutions collectively handle around $50 billion in loan volume each month.

As for what’s next, Roostify said it will continue to focus on leveraging data to transform the mortgage lending process. Key to this goal is the company’s partnership with Google Cloud AI. The two companies announced their collaboration last October in which Roostify began integrating Google Cloud’s Lending DocAI solution into its digital lending platform. As a result of Google Cloud’s AI and ML capabilities, Roostify’s digital lending tool now helps lenders analyze, categorize, and extract data from documents in an automized manner.

Despite the company’s growth, Bhat said that Roostify is “still in its infancy” in terms of its potential impact on the mortgage lending industry. “My team and I believe that it’s not enough to simply do digital lending better. We’re here to empower lenders to go beyond the efficiencies and cost-savings and forge a true connection with the end-user. We’re creating a world where financial success is possible for everyone, thanks to a simplified home lending experience.”


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