Investment activity picked up the pace into the third week of the month, expanding off of already accelerating levels. The $634 million logged in the latest week shows that the initial low volume of deals marking the start of 2017 may, in fact, yield to investors putting capital to work. The B2B space held sway, with $550 million in activity.
Topping the list was a deal in China, where a series of private investors put $500 million into Youxin Houlian. This deal encompassed the bulk of fund flow in the week. Trailing well behind was the $50 million in Upside, via Priceline.com Founder Jay Walker, as the site aims to help small business travelers save money and find deals.
Also last week, OrderGroove managed to grab $20 million in Series C funding from National Securities, where the capital is being earmarked for expansion and where the total raised cumulatively comes to $37 million.
FinTech Startup BillGO Scores Bank Investor
Colorado-based FinTech startup BillGO aims to take the hassle out of paying bills, and recently, MVB Financial Corp., the parent company of West Virginia-based MVB Bank, Inc., took notice.
“We saw a big problem with bill pay,” said Dan Holt, cofounder and CEO of BillGO. “It’s a disorganized, complex, frustrating process for many people.”
The average American household is paying over $400 a year in late fees and overdraft fees related to bill payments, Holt said, adding that 70 percent of bill payers use three or more payment methods each month to cover rent, utilities, cable and internet bills, credit card debt, etc. He noted that less than 20 percent of consumers use their bank’s bill pay features in any way.
BillGO seeks to centralize and simplify the process of paying bills. The startup produced a free mobile app that enables users to connect, manage and pay to any number of disparate billers.
“From the payer’s perspective, it’s pretty simple,” Holt said. “You can log in via Facebook, and it’s as easy as snapping a picture of your debit card to be able to input a payment method.” Additionally, users can log into their banks via BillGO’s app, or users can allow the company to connect by providing an account number.
On the bill pay end, Holt said users only need to log into each service’s account once to connect it to BillGO. “They can log into their Verizon, or DirectTV accounts, their energy provider account, whatever it might be, just once,” Holt said.
After that, BillGO manages the bill statements and information for users, providing quick access to every bill in a single location. The app also notifies users to upcoming bill payments.
On top of centralizing bill pay, BillGO allows users to divide payments between people. “We can allow you to truly split the bill,” Holt said. “Instead of using PayPal or Venmo or Google Wallet each month to pay each other back, BillGO automatically pulls from multiple accounts to pay one biller.”
Earlier this month, MVB Financial Corp. invested in BillGO, bringing the startup’s total funding to over $3 million, Holt said, including prior family, friend and self-investments. Larry F. Mazza, CEO and President of MVB Financial Corp, was also appointed to BillGO’s board of directors.
For Holt, MVB Financial Corp.’s investment is a sign that the tides are changing in the relationship between FinTech and traditional banking.
“There’s a tighter connection between the banking industry than ever before,” Holt said. “There was a lot of tension at first. But really, they’re complimentary in nature more so than competitive.”
Holt noted that he has seen throughout his tenure in the banking industry that it’s often difficult for banks to create new technologies internally. “Instead of trying to build everything themselves,” he said, “they’re investing in other technologies that will enable them to continue to grow. That’s why MVB looked into us, and in the future, who knows what other services the BillGO users may want — and the bank is going to be right there.”
With the most recent investment, Holt said BillGO plans to continue to improve its speed and build out its Facebook Messenger payment channel.
Further, while the company isn’t looking to encroach on personal financial management territory, Holt said BillGO has plans to build out its account information features.
“Most people are living in a paycheck-to-paycheck scenario. They just want to know how much they have, how much they owe and what they’ll have left to spend,” Holt said. “We’re working with customers to build that out, and doing whatever we can to tie bills to credit so people can continuously improve that as well.”