After some weeks of large deals pushing investment activity past the high triple-digit millions of dollars — and, on one occasion, past the billion-dollar mark, fund flows returned to seemingly normalized levels. The week that ended Feb. 3 tallied up $361 million in investments, dominated by the FinTech space at $283 million of that total.
The FinTech sector saw a strong pull of banking activity as Atom Bank raised roughly $126 million and said that it would announce within the next few weeks the names of the investors who put up the capital. The digital bank may be inching toward a public listing, reports stated.
Shanghai Feng Zhi Xing Auto Finance Information Services Co. raised about $52 million, which gives further impetus to the banking sector activity outside the U.S. That was followed by Uptake, which took up $40 million from Revolution Growth, among other investors. The firm is now valued at $2 billion and represents continued investor interest in the data analytics space.
Button In $20M Series B, Plans Global Expansion
Tech startup Button recently closed a $20 million Series B venture funding round led by new investor Norwest Venture Partners and with participation from existing investors Redpoint, DCM and Greycroft.
Button’s founders come from business backgrounds in loyalty, payments, eCommerce and advertising, holding past positions at companies like Venmo, Google Wallet and Rakuten. Looking at the mobile commerce ecosystem in 2013, Button began as a simple premise with far-reaching implications.
“We set out to create connectivity,” said Mike Dudas, Button cofounder and chief revenue officer, “to make the connective tissue between mobile apps and services more seamless.”
At the time Button was founded, Dudas said it was difficult for users to navigate between complimentary mobile services seamlessly. “It’s easier on desktop,” he said, “because there’s a unified linking structure. It’s much more challenging on mobile.”
In a nutshell, Button brings apps together. While the technical reality is considerably more complicated, the user end experience is simple.
Consider the integration Button made between Foursquare and Uber, which enabled Foursquare app users to get an Uber ride to a restaurant of interest at the press of Button’s button.
Button is growing fast. Dudas said the company’s revenue has increased tenfold from six months ago. Today, Button works with a number of publishers and merchants across industry verticals, creating connections wherever there’s an intent to purchase.
“We’ve grown now across verticals. We help these companies drive more transactions,” Dudas said, “and we do it in a non-advertising way. Publishers right now are really struggling on mobile to generate revenue. They embrace the idea that they can place these buttons on their page and that it doesn’t take up any advertising real estate.”
For example, Condé Nast Traveler’s partnership with Hotels.com, which is powered by Button, sees a 2 percent conversion rate — significantly higher than the 0.1 percent industry standard.
Button links U.K. loyalty platform Quidco and delivery service hungryhouse, which has since seen a 28 percent conversion rate of Quidco users, as well as a 41 percent increase in long-term value users. Through working with Button, hungryhouse sees a 300 percent higher conversion rate for new users over standard mobile ad networks.
With the latest $20 million investment, Button is looking to expand its global footprint.
“Our investors see a lot of potential in the present and in the future,” said Dudas. “We’re planning to branch out into new territory, new products and new people. We’ve set up our business in a way that’s complimentary to global, mobile-first businesses.”
Button has partners in 60 countries worldwide and sees transactions across the globe, Dudas said. With offices in New York and San Francisco, this global reach currently requires a lot of travel. Button has plans to hire in the U.K. and Asia this year to have employees on the ground where it plans to focus its growth.
“Our plans in Asia are centered around the large, rapidly growing markets in India and China, as well as the high-penetration market in Japan,” Dudas said. “They will be our anchors to grow all throughout the region.”
On the product side, Button is formulating ways to expand and improve its offerings, including moving into messaging applications.
“If I’m in a messaging app, talking to my friend about going somewhere for dinner, I want to be able to book my reservation right there, right then,” Dudas said. “Button wants to be there as well, enabling the user to purchase.”
With its founders’ backgrounds in commerce and payments, Button is also developing ways that will allow the company to facilitate transactions more directly, said Dudas.
“We’re not looking to become a payment processor,” he said, “but we are looking into the frameworks and operating systems that are out there, like Apple and Android Pay. But we need great people to work with us and build those tools.”