B2B Payments

VCs Back Bitcoin For B2B Payments, AI For Enterprise Analytics

In total, B2B venture capitalists placed (or announced plans to place) $85 million in funding to businesses, with startups in the U.S., Asia and the Middle East taking the lead this week. It was a mixed bag of funding, with a few startups working in more traditional B2B technology, including expense management and SaaS. The others, however, are working with more cutting-edge tech, including bitcoin and artificial intelligence (AI), and just so happened to see the largest funding rounds of the week. PYMNTS breaks down the investments for B2B FinTechs below.

 

Expense Management

Happay

A $10 million Series B funding round for India-based corporate expense management company Happay was announced this week, reports in VCCircle said, with backers from Sequoia Capital leading the investment. Axiom Capital, AME Cloud Ventures and other investors also participated in the funding, which brings Happay’s total valuation to as high as $55 million. In addition to expense management, Happay provides business customers with expense report solutions as well as prepaid and international travel cards for corporate travel payments and expenses. Solutions can be integrated into existing accounting solutions for streamlined accounting and reconciliation. An unnamed source confirmed the news to the publication, though Happay hasn’t released an official statement about the investment or what it plans to do with the funds.

 

Artificial Intelligence

H2O.ai

California-based H2O.ai secured $40 million in Series C funding, reports this week said. Wells Fargo and NVIDIA Corporation led the round, while New York Life, Crane Venture Partners, Nexus Venture Partners and Transamerica Ventures also participated, pushing H2O.ai’s total funding up to $75 million. H2O.ai Co-Founder and CEO Sri Ambati told reporters at Vator that the company aims “to make data science less science, more software” for companies. The firm provides businesses with a solution to deploy predictive analytics and machine learning in their own operations; current customers include Comcast, Capital One and Walgreens, the firm said.

“The heart of the H2O story is converting classic rule-based software to AI-enabled micro-services,” explained Ambati in the interview. “Most people who are trying to do data science are doing manual feature engineering while tuning the parameters of machine learning algorithms. Our products are unique in that they’re fast and easy to use to do automatic feature engineering with artificial intelligence. It’s AI to do AI.”

The new funding, plus a partnership with NVIDIA, will see H2O.ai expand its services and capabilities and focus on international expansion. The company is reportedly looking to build up more partnerships in London and across Europe, while it will also focus on growth in Asia in the coming year.

 

Bitcoin

BitPay

The funding isn’t in place yet, but blockchain-based payments firm BitPay said it is raising $30 million in a strategic Series B funding round led by Aquiline Technology Growth. U.S.-based BitPay works with financial institutions, corporations and consumers to facilitate payment acceptance and initiation using bitcoin. In an announcement, BitPay said it plans to use the funding to continue expansion, with a particular interest in high-value payments. That includes cross-border supply chain payments, the company said.

“We’re proud of our team’s work to grow BitPay’s impact and revenues to this point,” BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said. “We’ve been able to solve some of our customers’ biggest payment problems, from multimillion-dollar B2B payments to day-to-day expenses. Continually improving our customers’ experience with BitPay is a priority for us as we plan our next steps for product development.”

The $30 million funding will follow another $30 million funding round completed in 2014.

 

SaaS

Bayzat

Providing HR and employee benefits solutions to its business customers, Bayzat, based in the United Arab Emirates, secured $5 million in fresh funding, reports this week said. The company secured backing from Silicon Badia as well as existing investors BECO Capital and Hamed Kanoo Co LLC, reports in CPI Financial said. The company plans to use the funds to continue growth in 2018 across the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, which the company said faces a shortage in HR software and corporate insurance solutions.

“The Middle East’s technology market is underdeveloped, particularly in the form of SaaS,” said CEO Talal Bayaa. “Companies are restricted to paper-driven archaic processes because they are not aware of any alternatives. Inefficiency procedures, like manual employee record management and payroll, are a drain on businesses and their employees, and yet it continues to flourish here — one of the most forward-thinking countries on the planet. It’s a pain point we see across the region that desperately needs resolving.”

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