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PayPal Leads $19 Million Series A for B2B Card Platform Pliant

virtual cards, b2b payments, commercial payments

B2B credit card platform Pliant is planning to expand after raising $19 million.

The funding round, announced Wednesday (April 17) was led by PayPal Ventures and brings the Berlin-based Pliant’s total Series A financing to north of $53 million.

“We are excited to welcome PayPal Ventures as a new shareholder, and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow the company as we expand into new markets, starting with the UK,” Malte Rau, CEO of Pliant, said in a news release.

According to the release, Pliant’s cards-as-a-service (CaaS) offering lets its partners launch their own credit card programs to serve their customers, providing a new revenue stream and upping customer retention. 

The company said the funding round will allow it to expand beyond the European Union for the first time, starting with the U.K.

“To facilitate its expansion, Pliant has developed multi-currency capabilities and can now offer its services in 11 currencies,” the release said. “This will allow customers to be billed in the same currency in which the transaction was paid, which is particularly useful for companies with significant transaction volumes in non-EUR currencies.”

PYMNTS spoke with Pliant’s Rau earlier this year about the challenges facing small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) amid a surge in corporate card usage.

“However, despite this trend, the traditional financial services sector continues to hinder the widespread adoption of business credit cards, resulting in a mere 28% of smaller SMBs having access to corporate credit cards,” that report said.

Research by PYMNTS Intelligence underscores the obstacles faced by these small businesses in accessing corporate cards, including cost, eligibility criteria as well as a lengthy and complex application process.

Rau noted an added challenge: the outdated method of clients submitting written requests to their banks, triggering a drawn-out, weeks-long wait for a new card with preset limits.

There are also issues in the post-transaction phase, where businesses must deal with extensive bookkeeping for each transaction. 

Rau told PYMNTS that this is where the value of a seamless solution, such as a mobile app, to capture transaction data and send it straight to accounting, comes in handy.

“This is a key driver for the adoption of business cards, resolving a pain point overlooked by traditional banks,” he said.