Digital Banking Moves To Forefront Of VC Efforts

In the FinTech funding world, Varo Money stole the spotlight this week with a $241 million funding raise.

The Series D round, led by Gallatin Point Capital and The Rise Fund, will enable the company to make further progress as it targets becoming a regulated bank in the U.S.

Forbes report noted the importance of the funding for the FinTech, which targets consumers with a range of banking services, including an account, debit card and access to early wages. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Varo Money’s position as a digital-first financial services company makes it an attractive target for investors even as venture capital (VC) overall plummets.

In the B2B FinTech world, there may not have been a funding round of such value, but investors continued to focus on helping businesses endure the pandemic and remain resilient. Small- to medium-sized business (SMB) and freelancer banking shone as a bright spot this week, too, while other investment deals include funding for payroll, supplier sourcing and logistics technology.

Papaya Global

Payroll and payment FinTech Papaya Global announced additional funding from Group 11, although it did not indicate how much was raised. Group 11 did invest in the firm, however, through purchasing secondary shares, reports said. Papaya secured $45 million in Series A funding last year. With its latest support, the company said it plans to fuel further growth and introduce new products with a focus on global companies with cross-border payroll needs, including global payments and fluctuating labor laws across various markets around the world.

Lili

Financial services app Lili announced $10 million in seed funding this week for its platform designed specifically for freelancers. In partnership with Choice Financial Group, Lili is able to offer account and tax services for freelancers that work both full- and part-time in their positions. Investors at Group 11 led the round, while Foundation Capital, AltaIR Capital, Primary Venture Partners and Torch Capital also participated. Lili said it plans to deploy the funding to focus on building out its existing platform as well as to expand its product, marketing and operations teams.

Beacon

With $15 million in Series A funding, U.K.-based Beacon made headlines thanks to high-profile investor Jeff Bezos participating in the round, while 8VC also took part. Beacon offers a freight forwarding technology solution to help logistics companies optimize their shipping routes. Targeting the logistics and freight industry’s struggle to digitize and modernize, Beacon aims to promote visibility and automation in ocean, air and truck freight operations that are also integrated with supply chain finance offerings. The new funding will be used to further invest in the company’s technology and expand globally, it said.

Keelvar

Based in Ireland, Keevlar offers a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for corporates’ strategic sourcing initiatives in the procurement process. TechCrunch reported that investors placed $18 million in Series A funding in the company, with Elephant Ventures and Mosaic Ventures leading the way. Paua Ventures also participated, the report noted, adding that Keevlar plans to further expand its corporate customer base with the funding as it eyes expansion through Europe and the U.S. Integrated with artificial intelligent (AI) bots and automation, the company’s strategic sourcing capabilities aim to help corporates make sourcing goods and services from their supply chains more affordable and faster than traditional methods.

Starling Bank

The B2B FinTech VC winner of the week is the U.K.’s Starling Bank, a digital native challenger bank targeting SMBs. Starling announced a $50.38 million funding round. The bank has more than 1.4 million current accounts, of which 155,000 are for SMBs. To date, the company claims to hold a 2.6 percent share of the U.K. SMB banking market. With the latest investment, Starling said it will focus on further growth and continue to target SMBs with products and services that can support them through market volatility and their digital shifts. JTC and Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Limited, both existing backers, led the funding round, Starling noted.

Source: int’l agency (pymts)

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