Tink’s $100 Million Monday; Azimo’s C-Suite Shakeup Promotes Experience and Diversity

It is hard to imagine having a better start to your week than Plaid had seven days ago when the innovative fintech (and Finovate alum) announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Visa for $5.3 billion.

But the €90 million ($100 million) raised by Swedish open banking platform Tink on Monday is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the funding, which is the company’s largest to date, is a reminder that investment interest in (and funding for) companies dedicated to developing the infrastructure that connects consumers, banks, and the financial technologies is very much in abundance.

“Our aim is to become the preferred pan-European provider of digital banking services and to offer the technology needed for banks, fintechs, and startups to leverage the opportunities of open banking and enable them to successfully develop financial services in the future,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement.

Tink demonstrated its platform most recently at FinovateEurope 2019. For more on this year’s Finovate event in Europe kicking off next month, visit our FinovateEurope 2020 page.


Azimo, one of our earliest FinovateEurope alums, announced a pair of big changes at the top to begin the new week.

The London-based money transfer firm, founded in 2012, promoted its COO Richard Ambrose to CEO back in August, as Azimo founder Michael Kent took what TechCrunch referred to as a lateral move to become executive chairman. Today, Fintech Futures, Finovate’s sister publication, reports that the company has appointed Dora Ziambra to the post of Chief Operating Officer. Azimo also promoted its head of finance Tatiana Okhotina to the post of Chief Financial Officer.

“We’re fortunate to have the depth of talent to fill these top roles internally,” Ambrose said in a statement. “We’re lucky too that Azimo will continue to benefit from the experience and leadership of these two outstanding women.”


Here’s our weekly roundup of the latest news from our Finovate alumni:

  • Union Bank to leverage technology from FIS for core banking.
  • Italy-based CREDEM leveraging Worldline’s Payment and Liquidity Hub software CRISTAL to process Target2 payments
  • POS software Vend partners with Klarna to offer retailers more flexible payment options.
  • U.K. food retailer The Co-operative to deploy ACI Worldwide’s fraud management solution, ReD Shield.
  • A partnership between TransferGo and Currencycloud will enable the money transfer company to enter 14 new markets.
  • YellowDog forges reseller agreement with Annex Pro.
  • Bankable cozies up with Plaid to allow its bank customers to connect with their users’ bank accounts.
  • Ohpen appoints former Tesla marketing leader Corinne Aaron as new head of marketing.
  • Segmint to acquire WAND’s Product and Service Taxonomy division.
  • CuneXus celebrates 2019 success with a 40% year-over-year increase in consumer reach.
  • TransUnion expands partnership with Payfone.
  • PayPal reaches $10 billion in charitable donations processed.
  • California approves Sezzle’s lending license.
  • People’s Bank selects NYMBUS’s SmartMarketing and SmartOnboarding solutions.
  • Ayondo ends its European social trading business.

Alumni Features and Profiles

Three Key Lessons We Learned from Plaid – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Visa is acquiring Plaid for a deal that’s worth $5.3 billion. The fact that they were so widely used at such an early stage is a testament to the quality of their code, but there are also a few key lessons to take away from their success.

ITSCREDIT’s Joao Pinto on the Digital Lending Opportunity –  ITSCREDIT is a spinoff from ITSECTOR and is a fairly new player in the digital lending space. In this interview, Pinto talks to us about the digital lending opportunity, how his company fits into the current state of this fintech subsector, and what we can expect to see next.

Kasasa Enhances its Take-Back Loan – Community bank marketing expert Kasasa announced a partnership with Carleton today in which Kasasa will integrate Carleton’s insurance and debt protection calculations into its Kasasa Loan.

Our latest FinovateEurope Sneak Peeks Are Up! Meet Dorsum, CASHOFF, Tensorflight, Trulioo, W.UP, Horizn, Glia, and BLECKWEN.

Plinqit Brings Rewards-Powered Financial Literacy to First Community Bank – One day in the distant future, children will be educated in basic financial literacy as readily as they are taught algebra. Until then, solutions like Plinqit from HT Mobile Apps will be valuable tools for credit unions and community banks looking for novel ways to engage and educate their members and customers.

Credit, Data, and Cryptocurrencies: Graychain Rebrands as Credmark – The company that is bringing credit data clarity to the cryptocurrency industry is entering 2020 with a new name.

Tradeshift Lands $240 Million as it Inches Toward Profitability – The San Francisco-based company will use the investment to boost expansion efforts and gear toward a “direct path to profitability in the near future.”

Fintech, Financial Services, and the Case for 5G – Calling 5G “something banks aren’t even thinking about,” Celent SVP Dan Latimore said, “we believe the effects of 5G are going to be subtle and profound over time.”

Backbase-as-a-Service Helps Banks Leverage the Cloud to Innovate and Scale – The solution makes the company’s broad portfolio of digital banking offerings available to FIs looking to accelerate their ability to develop and offer new technologies to customers.

Also on Finovate.com

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal – “Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”

Not Another 2020 Trends Prediction Post (Seriously, It’s Not!) – We’re taking a look at the trends you can expect to see on stage next month at FinovateEurope. To keep things simple this year, we assessed the themes at a very high level and broke them down into three categories: the big, the little, and the trends in-between.

Singapore’s Digital Banking License Space Race Accelerates – Is there anyone out there who is NOT trying to secure a digital banking license in Singapore? The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced last week that has received 21 applications for digital bank licenses

MogoSpend Offers Credit, Cashback, and Help Reducing Your Carbon Footprint – The new digital spending account from Canadian fintech Mogo does more than help Canadians get control of their finances. The solution also offers cardholders generous cashback rewards and a way to make a positive impact on the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.

Getsafe Expands its Insurtech to the U.K. – If your insurance company is offering you drone insurance, you know it’s not your grandmother’s insurance agency. Germany-based insurtech Getsafe does just that– and the company announced today it is expanding its home contents insurance offering (though, sadly, not its drone insurance offering) to users in the U.K.

Raisin’s New Acquisition Gives Company Access to the U.S. Market – European deposit marketplace Raisin announced today it acquired New York-based Choice Financial Solutions. 

French Fintech Lydia Locks in $45 Million – TechCrunch reported this morning that French mobile payment app Lydia has raised $45 million (€40 million) in a round led by Tencent.

Visa’s Tap to Phone Brings Contactless Payments to mPOS – With Visa’s Tap to Phone app arriving pre-installed on the new, enterprise grade smartphone from Samsung, a broad range of merchants will have access to yet another way to accept payments from customers. 

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

Influencers as Innovation: Fintechs Turn to the Famous in Bid to Boost Visibility

Photo by Vishnu R Nair from Pexels

Expensify’s 2019 Super Bowl advertisement – Expensify Th!$ – featuring Adam Scott and rap star 2Chainz – was not the first time a fintech leveraged the shine from pop culture to illuminate itself.

But as Snoop Dogg celebrates his first anniversary as a high-profile Klarna shareholder and RDC announces that it has hired a network of social media influencers to help promote its new digital banking app, it’s clear that firms are all-in when it comes to using celebrity to showcase everything fintech – from expense management to pay-later ecommerce solutions. Alec Baldwin, who has become one of pop culture’s more potent pitchmen, was recently enlisted by eToro to help boost its CopyTrader marketing campaign.

The financial world has been as much a fan of celebrity as a customer engagement tool as any other industry with brands to build. Today, Mastercard announced that it was working with Swedish singer Nadine Randle to produce a song that “integrates the payment giant’s ‘sonic brand.” The company’s ‘sonic brand’ identity itself is the fruit of a partnership between Linkin Park co-founder Mike Shinoda, who developed the score last year.

And from the local sports hero to the homecoming veteran, credit unions and community banks have long leveraged the willingness of regional-minded stars and celebrities to “give back” to the communities and neighborhoods they grew up in.

But as fintechs increasingly partner with and compete with these and other financial institutions – and take advantage of new forms of celebrity such as social media influencers – they are increasingly taking a page from the FI marketing playbooks when it comes to using star power to shine a light on the work they do.

Expensify CEO and founder David Barrett highlighted the way his company’s technology would make it easier for talents like 2Chainz to “make the most epic music video ever” in his Expensify Th!$ ad. But he also told Fast Company at the time that even though Expensify had the “strongest brand” in the expense management game, and was the fastest-growing such firm with the biggest customer base, “virtually nobody in the world knows who we are.”

The celebrity approach to marketing is not without its detractors. In a post at Medium.com last year, Millennium Management COO Ajay Nagpal noted data from the 2018 Sprout Social Index that suggested that consumers are more likely to buy a product or service recommended by a friend than a celebrity. Moreover, Nagpal raised an interesting question as to whether or not the star endorsement of a brand in fashion, for example, would have the same impact as the same star’s endorsement of a brand in wealth management or tax planning.

Perhaps it depends on the star. Last fall, Finovate audiences were treated to a surprise appearance from noted Canadian investor and star of the reality show Shark Tank, Kevin O’Leary, who provided an on-stage, end-of-demo endorsement of Bambu’s Beanstox investing solution. And it’s a good bet that “Mr. Wonderful” is likely to be a more powerful advocate for white- label, B2B robo advisory technology than he might be for, say, leggings …

Additionally, as Director of Brand Strategy at Weber Marketing Group John Mathes wrote for The Financial Brand, even the best celebrity branding works better over time rather than as a one-off. Calling the practice “borrowed interest,” Mathes warned that while carefully targeted star power can produce positive results “brand building is usually a slow process. It takes time. It’s not a single campaign or gimmick.”

The impact of celebrity and influencers on the visibility of and engagement with fintech remains to be seen. But maybe more to the point, the fact that a growing number of fintechs are adopting the same approach to brand-boosting as their peers and rivals in the rest of the financial world may be a positive sign for the fintech industry in and of itself.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Finovate Alums Raise More Than Three Billion in 2019; $676 Million in Q4.
  • Sensibill Pilots SME Receipt Management Technology with Metro Bank.

Around the web

  • Mastercard partners with CleverCards and Appreciate Group for launch of digital gift card in the U.K.
  • TransferWise for Banks launches in Canada with EQ Bank as first partner.
  • CREALOGIX appoints Oliver Weber as new CEO as of January 2020.
  • Card issuing platform Marqeta and cloud banking services provider Mambu announce new collaboration.
  • Klarna to open tech hub in Berlin, Germany.
  • Splitit forges new strategic partnerships with Malaysian payment solution provider iPay88 and global payments company BlueSnap.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Bill.com Begins Trading on NYSE at $22 per Share.

Around the web

  • CIO Look interviews Rob Leslie, Founder and CEO of Sedicii.
  • Clutch’s top 1000 list names Chetu among best B2B service providers in 2019.
  • CustomerXPs wins the IBS Intelligence Global FinTech Innovation Award for ‘Most Innovative Use of AI and Machine Learning.’

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Klarna Picks Amazon Web Services as Preferred Cloud Provider

Having already worked with Amazon in the past, Swedish banking firm Klarna has reinforced its reliance on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to increase redundancy and fault tolerance as it aims to scale its business, reports Alex Hamilton of Fintech Futures (Finovate’s sister publication).

The company also plans to follow up the launches of its cloud-based Open Banking platform and customer authentication platform with additional on-demand products using AWS.

“Together with AWS we share a relentless focus on providing choices to consumers, so they no longer have to settle for the status quo,” said Koen Koppen, chief technology officer at Klarna.

“Our collaboration with AWS has helped us to rapidly innovate and create new services and applications that customers want, in a secure and seamless way.”

Andy Isherwood, managing director for AWS EMEA, added that Klarna is going to “change the world” with cloud technology.

“We have worked with Klarna for over a decade and it has been inspiring to see them grow from a Swedish startup to a global financial services powerhouse, using the secure, proven infrastructure of AWS,” Isherwood said.

Klarna raised $460 million in equity funding back in August, which at the time valued the company at $5.5 billion. Klarna reiterated at the time its intention to focus on an expansion into the U.S. market.

The company demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2012. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden and founded in 2005, Klarna has 80 million shoppers on its platform and partnerships with 190,000 retailers around the world. Company co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski is CEO.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Vymo Brings AI-Powered Sales Coaching to Insurance Giant Sompo
  • Klarna Picks Amazon Web Services as Preferred Cloud Partner

Around the web

  • Trusted digital identity specialist Signicat partners with payment information service SurePay.
  • 24sessions opens doors at its first regional office in Paris, France.
  • Revolut for Business introduces support for GBP Direct Debits.
  • eXate joins the first cohort of the Velocity Birmingham Fintech Hub.
  • Temenos appoints Michelle Tea as Managing Director for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Glance Powers Visual Customer Engagement for Axos Bank.

Around the web

  • Klarna added 60,000 new merchants in 2019,a group which now totals 190,000+.
  • Australia-based Heritage Bank signs 5-year services agreement with Diebold Nixdorf.
  • FIS integrates IBM’s Safer Payments solution with its P2P services to help prevent fraud.
  • Onfido partners with online currency exchange company b-sharpe to provide a better sign up experience using Onfido’s AI-powered identity verification.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • INETCO’s Insight 7 Brings Machine Learning to Fraud Prevention.
  • Nubank’s User Base Soars to 15 Million.
  • Credit Sesame Appoints New Chief People Officer.

Around the web

  • Uwharrie Bank to leverage Fiserv for digital transformation.
  • Klarna to offer buy now, pay later options to Samsung customers.
  • TickSmith’s Marketplace Advanced Insights offers insight into how Nasdaq Basic Canada works in the marketplace.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

Around the web

  • Sezzle announces its availability via Visa’s CyberSource payment management platform.
  • Klarna to open its latest House of Klarna pop-up store in Manchester next month.
  • German online lender Kreditech looks to expand operations in India in the wake of $22 million equity fundraising.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • BNP Paribas to Deploy Dynamic Hedging Tech from Kantox.
  • Terafina Teams Up with Alabama’s Listerhill Credit Union.

Around the web

  • Klarna deepens ties with H&M to enable customers to shop now and pay later using the H&M app.
  • NICE’s AML and fraud SaaS solutions to power financial crime strategy for both anti-money laundering compliance and enterprise fraud protections.
  • Terafina to power Listerhill Credit Union’s omnichannel sales strategy and continue its digital transformation to increase member satisfaction and deepen relationships.
  • OurCrowd expands U.S. operations, opens office in Chicago.
  • ID R&D’s IDLive Face to power remote customer account openings and digital ID verification for Innov8tif’s EMAS eKYC.
  • ndgit and Synpulse launch international fintech marketplace in Switzerland.
  • Macrosoft joins Quadient’s Partner Advantage Program.
  • Onfido reports strong revenue growth momentum for Q2 2019; earns recognition from The Sunday Times as one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.K.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate

  • Twisto Raises $15 Million in Series B Funding
  • Finovate Global: Mexican Fintech Minu Makes History; India’s Namaste Credit Becomes a Neobank.

Around the web

  • Five Degrees adds OneSpan as a new partner in its Open Banking Marketplace.
  • Axiata Group Berhad and Telenor Group end merger discussions.
  • Klarna expands existing partnership with online fashion retailer boohoo group and its four brands.
  • Xero adds BP as latest partner for its Xero Connect e-invoicing solution.
  • Authority Magazine interviews Talbott Roche, CEO and president of Blackhawk Network.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

King Klarna: New Investment Boosts Valuation to $5.5 Billion

An investment of $460 million in Swedish e-commerce payments innovator Klarna takes the company’s valuation to $5.5 billion, and makes it the largest private fintech firm in Europe. The funding will help fuel Klarna’s international growth, especially in the United States, where it has been gaining new customers at a rate of six million a year.

Dragoneer Investment Group led the round. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, HMI Capital LLC, Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Limited, Första AP-Fonden (AP1), IPGL, IVP, and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock also participated. Combined with the financing from a round this spring, the investment gives Klarna more than $1.2 billion in total capital.

For company CEO and co-founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski, the funding comes at a moment of great opportunity for fintechs like Klarna that are innovating in the area of consumer finance. “This is a decisive time in the history of retail banking,” he said. “Finally, transparency, technology and creativity will serve the consumer, and there will be no more room for unimaginative products, non-transparent terms of use or lack of genuine care of ones customers.”

Klarna’s Shop Now Pay Later approach to e-commerce enables consumers to pay for purchases at leading, brick and mortar retailers as well as with online merchants, with a variety of interest-free, no-fee financing offerings. These include a four installment payment option that charged every other week to the customer’s credit or debit card, and 30-day payment period that begins once the item is shipped or received.

Klarna has more than 60 million shoppers using its offerings, and 130,000 retailer partners around the world. Richard Watts of Merian Chrysalis Investment Company credited Klarna with providing its merchant partners with “considerable improvement in customer engagement and sales.” In fact, Klarna reports that merchants that are offering its four installment payment plan have experienced a 68% increase in average order value, a 44% increase in conversion v.s. cards, and a 21% higher purchase frequency.

“Klarna is one of Europe’s great fintech success stories and the company continues to develop truly innovative payment solutions,” Watts said.

The funding news for Klarna arrives amid a flurry of new service offerings, such as making its Shop Now Pay Later option available in-store, as well. It has also been a big year for products, from the launch of its global customer authentication platform to unveiling of its open banking platform. 2019 has also been a busy year in terms of partnerships: Klarna joined global fashion retailer ASOS in an expansion to the U.S., teamed up with U.K. fashion brand Superdry, and partnered with Canadian e-commerce and in-store point-of-sale financing company PayBright.

Founded in 2005 and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Klarna demonstrated its platform at FinovateSpring 2012.