Francesco Simoneschi, CEO and co-founder of British fintech start-up TrueLayer.
LONDON – British fintech start-up TrueLayer says it has raised $ 70 million in new funds, underscoring investors’ continued appetite for fast-growing fintech companies.
TrueLayer allows fintech applications such as Revolut and Freetrade to connect to customers’ bank accounts using technology known as APIs or application programming interfaces. This means that users of these apps can then make payments from their bank or view balances and transactions from different accounts.
The company said its latest round of investment was led by Addition, the venture capital firm founded by former Tiger Global partner Lee Fixel. Existing investors Anthemis Group, Connect Ventures, Mouro Capital, Northzone and Temasek from Singapore have also invested.
Francesco Simoneschi, CEO and co-founder of TrueLayer, said in an interview that the company has decided to raise more cash through strong growth in 2020, helped in large part by the coronavirus pandemic and the shift of consumers to digital means of management. their finances.
“We were closing 2020 on an extremely positive note,” Simoneschi told CNBC. “We were going through a year of incredible growth,” he said, adding that the company has seen payment volumes soar up to 600 times.
TrueLayer declined to share its financial data or valuation. The company, which also has Chinese internet giant Tencent as a shareholder, has raised $ 142 million in funding to date.
TrueLayer said it would use the new money to expand its services internationally, first strengthening its presence in Europe before targeting a deployment in Australia. He is also exploring the opportunity to launch in Brazil later.
The news comes a day after Silicon Valley company Plaid – which rivals TrueLayer in Europe – announced it raised $ 425 million in a new investment, valuing the company at $ 13.4 billion. Plaid originally agreed to be acquired by Visa last year for $ 5.3 billion, but canceled the deal after the U.S. government raised antitrust concerns.
Plaid and TrueLayer are part of a new finance movement called “open banking,” which aims to open up valuable banking data and payment services to fintech companies and other licensed third parties, provided they have obtained customer consent. Other space players include Sweden’s Tink and Britain’s Bud. They take advantage of new technology rules in the UK and EU, known as PSD2.
TrueLayer and other companies are now looking to undermine card networks like Visa and Mastercard, allowing fintech apps to initiate bank transfers on behalf of their users, at much lower fees. GoCardless, a fintech platform that processes direct debit payments, is also developing open banking technology for transactions.
“Open banking can be a real competitor to traditional card networks,” said Simoneschi. “The question is whether the card companies can accept this change or will they resist?”
It should be noted that Visa is still an investor in Plaid, as well as TrueLayer, which means that it could benefit in the long run from the rise of open banking. Meanwhile, Mastercard last year bought Finicity, another player in space.
Plaid also plans to more than double its European workforce from 40 to 100 employees by the end of 2021.
“I think the competition is good and benefits the ecosystem,” Keith Grose, international head of Plaid, told CNBC. He added that the company had “good competitors” but that its rivals were not offering the “transatlantic bridge” it had built with operations in the United States and Europe.
TrueLayer has their own plans to strengthen their team. The company currently employs 200 people and plans to increase its workforce by an additional 50 this year, Simoneschi said.
Fintech has attracted billions of dollars in venture capital as investors aim to capitalize on the industry’s insane growth. Globally, venture capitalists injected more than $ 17 billion into fintechs in the first quarter of 2021, according to PitchBook data, up 44% from the same period a year earlier and the highest quarterly amount since the second quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, tech companies love PayPal and Square have seen their market values exceed those of Wall Street titans like Goldman Sachs.
However, the meteoric growth of the sector has shaken some leaders in the banking world. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently said banks should be “less afraid” of fintechs, and accused Plaid of “unfair competition” and “misuse” of bank data. Plaid, which counts JPMorgan as a customer, said that “privacy and data security are at the heart of everything we do, including the data exchange agreements we have with JPMorgan Chase among many other banks.” .