It may have been a big week for alternative lending in the consumer finance space, but in B2B payments, blockchain and eCommerce startups snagged the biggest share of venture capital.
Check out how $62 million in funding landed in some pretty targeted industries — from smart contracts to liquor procurement.
With financial institutions scurrying to invest in the blockchain, the technology’s reputation as a tool for Dark Web cybercrime is waning. But that doesn’t mean blockchain is free from its notoriety. One startup just raised new funding for its solution that helps banks and financial institutions interacting with the blockchain to identify and prevent illegal activity over the rail.
Elliptic revealed a $5 million funding round on Monday (March 21), with the Series A funding led by Paladin Capital. Santander InnoVentures, KRW Schindler, Digital Currency Group and Octopus Ventures also participated, according to reports. According to Elliptic Cofounder and CEO Dr. James Smith, the solution is geared towards law enforcement officials and financial services players to remain compliant, even as they venture into the uncharted territory of blockchain that has yet to be fully regulated.
The blockchain isn’t just a potential disruptor in corporate transactions as a payments rail; some innovators are eyeing the tool for smart contracts, meaning the blockchain can be just as important for transferring data between businesses as it can be for transferring money.
RSK Labs created Rootstock, a smart contracts platform that just raised $1 million in a funding round led by Bitmain Technology, reports said Tuesday (March 22). Coinsilium and Digital Currency Group also participated, with Bitmain Technology CEO Wu Jihan expressing the potential for RSK to “bring countless miracles” through its development of Rootstock.
The startup that claims to provide technology companies a “ridiculously unfair advantage” through its data analytics solutions just secured $12 million, reports revealed Thursday (March 24).
HG Data saw Series B funding from Updata Partners, as well as Rincon Venture Partners and Epic Ventures. HG Data provides technology conglomerates and startups with data analytics capabilities for market analysis, predictive modeling, marketing and other areas aimed at growing a business.
In a statement, Updata Partners General Partner Jon Seeber said the startup’s solutions for other businesses are “unparalleled in terms of their scale and accuracy.”
“With that data in hand, clients can optimize their sales and marketing efforts, better understand their segment’s competitive dynamics and make better informed product decisions,” he explained. HG Data said the new funding will be used to further develop its products, expand its client base and strengthen its science and engineering teams.
Yi Jiu Pi
China-based Yi Jiu Pi operates in a very specific segment of the B2B eProcurement market — liquor — but nonetheless has attracted some impressive funding from investors.
$30 million, to be exact. Yuan Sheng Ventures and Eastern Bell Venture Capital both led the Series B round, according to Monday (March 21) reports. Source Code Capital and Light House Ventures also took part, reports added.
Yi Jiu Pi already provides a platform for convenience stores and retailers across 39 cities in the country to procure wine and liquor products. The B2B eCommerce platform said it will use the funding to ramp up operations and reach new cities, as well as build up its back-office capabilities with the development of new warehouses.
China’s industry-specific B2B eCommerce sector is booming, apparently, as yet another investment hit the space on Monday (March 21). Molbase, which provides a B2B eCommerce platform for the chemicals industry, announced an undisclosed amount (though it is in the “tens of millions”) in Series C funding thanks to Sequoia Capital China and TBP Capital, along with backing from Innovation Works, Fosun Kinzon Capital and Vangoo Capital.
According to reports, Molbase first launched as a chemicals database platform before it transitioned into the B2B digital procurement space. The portal connects 80,000 active suppliers to corporate buyers, the company said.
Reports also noted that this marks Sequoia Capital China’s second investment in the nation’s B2B eCommerce segment, following funding for eProcurement site Zhaogang.com.
The U.S. B2B eCommerce market got a bit of a bump this week, too, thanks to Handshake, a company that links manufacturers, distributors and suppliers to B2B eCommerce technology.
Handshake revealed $14 million in new funding late last week, with participation from Sozo Ventures, as well as the slew of existing backers, including Emergence Capital, SoftTech VC and BOLDstart Ventures, among others. The funding brings the volume of investment provided to Handshake to $23.5 million.
“Handshake is doing for B2B commerce what Shopify and Square did for retail,” said the company’s CEO and cofounder, Glen Coates, in a statement announcing the funding. He added that the rise of the on-demand economy sees companies demanding sophisticated mobile solutions, and the same goes for suppliers that now need to reach clients digitally.
Reports said Handshake will use the financing to continue to develop its platform, as well as strengthen its omnichannel capabilities to support tablet and mobile procurement.