With just over $210 million in total fund flows for the first full week back from the shortened holiday weekend here in the States, the Investment Tracker seemed to return to previous levels of low triple-digit tallies. As has been seen previously, FinTech dominated, marking a rebound from the end of last month when traditional banking had held sway. This time around, customer acquisition deals — and, again, to a lesser extent, traditional banking — had some pull within that sector, with $35 million and $18 million in funding, respectively.
The biggest deal in FinTech came with Wimdu, at $90 million, as the German vacation company was sold to Wyndham’s Danish arm, Novasol. That acquisition was trailed by SendGrid, an email delivery platform that raised $33 million, which, after that Series D round, may be gunning for an IPO next year (the round was led by Bain). Rounding out the top three investments, Notion Capital invested nearly $19 million in Smartpipe Solutions, which was a slight boost to activity in the data analytics space.
Irish FinTech startup Leveris is working to bring banking toward the future. After running quietly since its launch in 2014, Leveris recently announced it’s set to raise €15 million ($16.1 million) in a Series A.
“We’ve essentially been working in ‘incognito mode’ for the last few years,” said Aidan Lawlor, head of marketing at Leveris. “We’re hoping to get the €15 million before Christmas. That’s the goal. It may not happen, but we’re optimistic — if not, it will happen in January.”
The funding comes as Leveris launches its full-stack core banking and lending platforms, which Lawlor said will work to bring banks into the future.
“Banks use technology built in the 70s and 80s, which prevents them from providing the experience that their customers expect,” said Lawlor. “Users are used to finding love on Tinder, getting food from Deliveroo, finding accommodation on Airbnb — that’s the bar that has been set for customer experience, and banks cannot compete.”
“Health insurance, house insurance, car insurance, a couple of banking and savings accounts … My whole financial life is scattered across a bunch of companies. We see banking in the future as a data platform that integrates a lot of services and presents that data contextually to the end user,” said Lawlor.
In a nutshell, Leveris’ platform delivers an end-to-end digital retail banking and lending solution. The platform is cloud-native and was built using open standard formats, APIs and protocols. “Investors are most intrigued by the technology we’ve built and the way we see the future of banks as a data platform,” said Lawlor.
“What a bank will do to drive revenue is open to a banking marketplace through open APIs,” he continued. Using Leveris’ platform will allow banks to integrate third-party products and services, as well as any new technological innovations down the line.
The new platform is readying for an international release across the financial services industry. “We’re targeting traditional banks, challenger banks and consumer brands — ideally, a telco or an airline to offer our lending solution to them. We can cater to all from our stack and from our pricing. We’re talking to a variety of banks from Indonesia to the States to Australia, England, Germany, Netherlands,” said Lawlor.
Lawlor noted that Leveris’ platform is less expensive and much less time-consuming to install than maintaining traditional banking systems. “We know banks in Europe that spend between €500 million and €1 billion a year just to run and maintain systems — not to add new products or improve the platform, just to maintain,” Lawlor said. “The cost of implementing our platform is low, and we only charge as they go on a per-customer or per-transaction basis. We can launch products in days, not months or weeks.”
The Series A funding round will be used to scale the company to meet marketplace demand. “We’re talking to 25 banks across the world. We have a team of roughly 200 people in Dublin and Prague. We can do probably three implementations a year with this current team. Once these clients drop, we’re going to need to scale very quickly.”
Lawlor concluded with some advice to banks competing in an increasingly digital market: “All of these good FinTechs and financial companies are focusing on one product, one niche, and they’re heavily capitalized. They’re delivering better products at low costs. We would advise banks to focus on their core strengths and to open their companies to Wealthfront or Stripe or Apple Pay or bitcoin. Don’t compete with them — focus on what you’re good at and open the platform to them.”