+++ Fintech news blog +++: Accountable increases financing to ten million euros

Tax app Accountable expands financing to a total of 10 million euros
The Berlin tax app Accountable is expanding its Series A financing and thus has a total investment of 10 million euros. Prominent figures from the start-up and fintech scene rely on the self-employed tax app, including the Munich investor 10x Founders, the Billie founders Matthias Knecht and Christian Grobe, and George Pallis, former Marketing Director of Deliveroo and Transferwise.
At the end of 2021, Accountable had already raised almost six million euros from the leading European venture capital funds Stride.VC and Connect Ventures.
With the fresh money, Accountable expands in Europe and launches more financial and tax services to become the first European financial platform for the self-employed. Before the end of this year, Accountable will integrate the trade tax return into the app in addition to the automated income and sales tax return, making the fintech the first comprehensive tax app for all self-employed people in Germany.
In addition to tax automation, Accountable digitizes all bookkeeping and uses artificial intelligence to help users save on taxes in a personalized way. Other core functions include billing, receipt scanning and connection to the bank account. In the last six months, Accountable users have doubled to 20,000 self-employed people.
“With IDnow we have accompanied the triumph of banks like N26. The next wave of fintech innovation is taxes. Accountable has developed the best solution for the self-employed,” says Felix Haas, early stage investor and founder of 10x Founders & Bits & Pretzels.

Pliant extends financing to 18 million euros

In the expanded seed round, Carsten Maschmeyer's fund, Alstin Capital, who acts as lead investor, as well as Commerzbank's main incubator and Saber have increased their commitments. Finleap boss Ramin Niroumand is a new investor with his fund Embedded/Capital. One of the first investors was, for example, Auxmoney boss Raffael Johnen.
According to the founders, the value has increased sevenfold to a high double-digit million amount since the beginning of the year.

Re:cap secures financing volume of 100 million euros

The Berlin fintech Re:cap starts with advance praise. With ten million euros, the start-up raised an unusual amount of capital in a seed round. In addition, the company, which offers new financing options in particular for software companies, secured outside capital of 90 million euros. The trust of investors is also likely to have something to do with the background of the two founders and bosses: Paul Becker and Jonas Tebbe were co-founders of the robo-advisor Liqid.
The investors Felix Capital and Project A Ventures are providing the growth financing. Entrée Capital is also involved. The liquidity comes from a foreign bank whose name will not be revealed.
Re:cap sees itself as a financing platform that acts as an intermediary between companies and investors. In a first step, the start-up is addressing its services to companies in the software industry with sales of between EUR 500,000 and EUR 15 million. "Many software companies have poor access to outside capital, but a good tech infrastructure and solid finances," says Becker, explaining the focus on this industry. Alternatively, some of these companies may seek to onboard venture capital. However, this would lead to a dilution of the shares.
With the help of Re:cap's technology, it is possible to examine the contract portfolio of software companies, which usually consists of recurring services. Up to 50 percent of annual sales can be converted into immediate upfront payments. Institutional investors provide the necessary liquidity.
Identified company claims are converted into securities via a Luxembourg securitization vehicle, which investors can subscribe to. "This process is easier for companies and much faster than taking out a loan because it runs on a digital platform," says Becker. In addition, the marketplace model, in which investors compete for the sales of software companies, offers the best conditions in the long term.
Otherwise, the company has set itself the goal of further expansion. Re:cap does not want to limit itself to software companies in the future. In addition, the financing platform is to be rolled out quickly across Europe.
Investors are optimistic. "Both their financing solution and their technology with fully automated underwriting and transaction development set standards," says Joseph Pizzolato from Felix Capital.
The US fintech Pipe proves that there is a need for such financing solutions. The company already has unicorn status, meaning it's valued at more than $1 billion.

Finance startup Billie closes new round of financing

The Berlin finance startup has raised fresh capital from international investors and payment service providers for its international expansion.
Among others, the British venture capitalist Dawn Capital and the companies Klarna and Tencent are participating in the $ 100 million financing round, as Billie announced. This increases the fintech's valuation to $640 million.
This is led by the VVRB (Vereinigte Volksbank Raiffeisenbank eG), an association of regional banks in southern Hesse and Franconia.
The bond is a so-called asset-backed security, i.e. an asset-backed security. The money for interest and principal comes from loans. Around 30,000 loans are financed with the Auxmoney Social Bond. Collateralization with loans, called securitization, lowers the risk for investors.
"The pandemic has been a tough test for our differentiated underwriting, and it passed," said Daniel Drummer, chief financial officer at Auxmoney. "Our risk models have now also proven themselves in a crisis. To date, we have not recorded any major defaults in the portfolio."
Auxmoney had no trouble finding investors for the bond. “Investor demand for ESG-related investment opportunities is very high,” says Drummer. Individual tranches of the securitization were oversubscribed several times. Only nine percent of the investors come from Germany.
More and more investors are making sure that their investments meet verifiable environmental, social and responsible corporate governance (ESG) criteria.
In essence, Drummer sees the social bond as a confirmation of the business model. "Basically, the capital market has rewarded the promotion of financial participation and thus our corporate purpose since it was founded."

Deutsche Bank acquires Better Payment Germany

According to financial circles, the German industry leader paid an amount in the low double-digit millions for the acquisition of all shares in the Berlin fintech Better Payment Germany.
Better Payment does not have to be visible to the outside world: Payment processing is also offered as a so-called white label solution – companies can therefore integrate the payment service into their offering. Deutsche Bank expects very high growth rates over the coming years, especially in the business with white label solutions.
“With Better Payment, we are gaining broader market access in payment processing and can accelerate our growth in the important German market,” says Kilian Thalhammer, Head of Merchant Solutions at Deutsche Bank. The bank plans to offer further banking and payment services via the Better Payment channels.
The takeover of Better Payment is further proof that Deutsche Bank wants to show its flag more when processing payments from its approximately 800,000 business customers.
In June of this year, Deutsche Bank and Fiserv, a leading global provider of payment and financial technology, founded a joint venture. In this way, Deutsche Bank not only wants to provide its customers with accounts, but also with payment solutions and banking services.

Wefox appoints Peter Huber as Chief Insurance Officer

The Berlin insurance start-up Wefox is making the former head of Zurich International, Peter Huber, Chief Insurance Officer. In his new position, he will drive the expansion into life and health insurance and the distribution of the existing product portfolio. At the same time, the insurtech wants to benefit from Huber's expertise in the regulatory environment.
Wefox co-founder Julian Teicke says: "Together with David Stachon as head of operations and myself as CEO, Peter Huber forms a powerful management trio to achieve our vision of being the leading life and health insurer in a decade." The aim is all relevant products in property and life insurance on a single technological platform. In the next year alone, 50 new products are to be added. Wefox also wants to expand into other European countries. Huber should also ensure stability in this phase of strong growth.
The new CIO is based in Vaduz in Liechtenstein, where the primary insurer of the Wefox Group is also registered. Subject to the approval of the supervisory authority there, Huber will also take over the management of Wefox Insurance. The previous head of the insurer, Oliver Lang, left the company in June. Huber is convinced that a paradigm shift can be initiated with Wefox: "Traditional insurers try to convince their customers to buy a certain product." Wefox, on the other hand, learns from the brokers which products the customers are asking for and can then open them within 30 days bring to market.
Huber brings more than 20 years of experience in the international insurance business. He has held various positions at the insurance group Zurich since 2013, including in Singapore and Indonesia. Previously he also worked for Swiss Re and Allianz. When the latest round of financing was announced, Teicke had already declared that he wanted to strengthen Wefox's staff. The start-up received $650 million from investors in early June and was valued at $3 billion.

Tax app Accountable collects six million euros

The Berlin Fintech Accountable successfully completes its Series A financing round and collects six million euros in fresh capital. London-based Stride.VC leads the round, followed by existing investors such as Connect Ventures and prominent business angels from Revolut and Wise, among others. In addition to Rory Stirling, Fred Destin, investor in Deliveroo, Cazoo and Zoopla, among others, will join the advisory board.
With Accountable, for the first time self-employed people can submit their tax returns without tax jargon and with just a few clicks via a mobile and web-based app. The more well-known tax apps such as Taxfix, Steuerfuchs, Wundertax or Taxando, on the other hand, focus on employees.
For the self-employed, however, the topic is even more important: “The self-employed never know how much money they are actually allowed to spend, and that makes them nervous and prevents them from advancing their business. The main reason is that they never know how much tax they will have to pay,” says Stride.VC's Fred Destin.
With the successful completion of the financing round, Accountable brings the total financing to over eight million euros. With the fresh capital, the Berlin-based fintech will continue to accelerate its growth in Germany and in the next twelve months will tackle a third major European market. In the course of this, the team will also be expanded by 15 new employees.
In addition to German, the app is already available in English, French and Dutch. Since the start of 2019, more than 10,000 users in Germany and Belgium have used the Accountable solution to do their taxes. In order to realize the vision of Europe-wide independent work, the fintech will focus on European expansion in the next company phase.
"After we cracked one of the most difficult tax markets in Germany, we are expanding from Berlin to other European countries," explains Tino Keller, Co-Founder & Managing Director of Accountable.
Maklerpool Fonds Finanz is launching robo advisors for its 28,000 sales customers
One of the largest German broker pools, Fonds Finanz, wants to
launch its own digital wealth manager in July. The around 28,000 financial advisors who are part of the pool should be able to offer this robo-advisor to their customers. The Handelsblatt learned this from Fonds Finanz and the robo-advisor Growney.
Fonds Finanz is cooperating with Growney, one of the approximately 40 digital asset managers on the German market, for the robo called "Comfort Invest". This provides the technology and takes over the asset management. Fonds Finanz compiles the investment strategies.
According to industry information, Comfort Invest is the first robo in a broker pool on the German market. As strong distribution is seen as the key to the success of digital wealth managers, industry experts are eyeing the new offering for a five-digit number of financial advisors.
Specifically, the advisors can offer nine of their own investment strategies via the robo in five risk classes from "asset protection" to "very high" risk. Sustainable investment strategies are also offered. the
Strategies should be implemented via ETF and funds on stocks, bonds, commodities and precious metals.
Growney makes the technology available via so-called "white labeling" – i.e. under the name of the customer. Signal Iduna already uses Growney asset management technology based on a similar principle.
Last year, the platform in Germany issued loans with a volume of more than 20 million euros – the aim is to triple this year. The market volume for new providers is far from exhausted, says Herschlein. Currently, only four percent of installment loans in Germany are granted completely digitally.
Former Generali manager David Stachon will head up operations at WefoxFormer Generali manager David Stachon will be in charge of operations at the insurance start-up Wefox. As COO, he should become the new strong man alongside Wefox boss Julian Teicke. Starting on July 1, Stachon will drive the insurtech's global growth.
The move comes shortly after Wefox announced its latest round of funding. The company received a further $650 million from investors, most notably venture capitalist Target Global, and is now valued at $3 billion.
The start-up has big goals with the fresh money: Wefox wants to push ahead with its international expansion in Europe and later also in Asia and the USA, continuously bring more products to the market and focus more on risk prevention. The vision is to become the leading provider of digital personal insurance before the end of this decade. "I'm confident that David can help us achieve these goals with his experience and knowledge of insurance and digital technologies," says Teicke.
Until December 2020, Stachon was responsible for the digital business on the Board of Directors of Generali Deutschland and was responsible for the direct insurer Cosmosdirekt and the broker insurer Dialog. During his career he has also worked for the insurers Direct Line (now Verti) and Ergo as well as the consulting firm McKinsey.
Wefox initially started with an app platform for insurance brokers and later founded its own digital insurer, which is now known as Wefox Insurance. This is currently driving the market entry in Poland. In contrast to many other insurance start-ups, which are often represented on comparison portals such as Check24, Wefox relies on consultants and intermediaries in sales. According to Stachon, this is a good combination of man and machine.
Pair Finance uses artificial intelligence to address debtors individually
The task of a debt collection service provider is to collect outstanding invoice amounts on behalf of its customers. According to the Federal Association of German Debt Collection Companies, the companies process around 20 million receivables every year.
But how can the willingness to pay be mobilized without permanently damaging the relationship between the company and its debtors? With its first study on an extended debtor typology, the start-up Pair Finance sees itself better equipped than before to do this job.
Under the leadership of behavioral scientist Minou Ghaffari, who works for Pair Finance, the company, which is majority owned by Finleap, evaluated 400,000 individual cases and expanded existing typologies in the process.
The idea behind it: The better I know a debtor, the easier it is for me to enter into a dialogue with him. “The biggest hurdle in debt collection is always getting the consumer to react. If I get a reaction, there is a very high probability that we will find a solution together," says Stephan Stricker, CEO of Pair Finance.
So far, research has focused on the willingness and ability to pay. In the study, Pair Finance added the dimensions of financial organization and emotional behavior to these areas, says Ghaffari. 16 consumer types were distilled out. "The broader set-up allows for a more detailed view of customers," says Ghaffari.
With the existing data from the payment cases, the algorithm could be trained in such a way that Pair Finance can address consumers individually with the help of artificial intelligence.
Contact varies in terms of communication channel (letter, e-mail, SMS), the manner of address, the tonality, the time (in the morning or in the evening) and the frequency. "Small differences in communication strategy can have a big impact," says Ghaffari.
If the artificial intelligence identifies a potentially cooperative debtor, the salutation can be something like this: “Maybe you just overlooked the bill, maybe you forgot to pay in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Together we will find a solution."
More and more companies in the debt collection industry are starting to use artificial intelligence to collect receivables. This also includes companies such as Troy or Arvato Financial Solutions.
Economically, the industry fulfills an important function. According to the industry association, 5.8 billion euros are returned to the economic cycle every year.
There are still no studies that prove that the AI-based approach is superior to the conventional approach. But for example, the response rate of the debtors at Pair Finance of 78 percent is very high. In addition, 90 percent of the cases realized would be solved in the pre-court dunning process.

Digital insurer Coya expands its board of directors

The Berlin-based digital insurer Coya is expanding its board of directors. The previous Co-CEO Max Bachem will take over the chairmanship with immediate effect. Julia Sharonova and Nigel Jankelson will also join the board. Coya founder and former co-CEO Andrew Shaw is still providing advice to the company. The new board wants to work on further advancing the insurtech, reducing costs and further expanding the company's growth together with new, strategic partners.
Sharonova has been chief actuary and data officer at Coya since March. She previously worked for the consulting firm PwC. Jankelson, who leads Coya's operations, joined in 2020 from investment bank Macquarie in New York. "With Julia and Nigel, we have succeeded in expanding the Management Board by two experienced and effective executives," says Bachem, who only returned to the Insurtech in the spring after an interlude with the insurance group Axa.
As one of the few young digital insurers in Germany, Coya has its own insurance license from the financial regulator Bafin. Founded in 2016, the start-up now offers household contents, personal liability, bicycle and pet insurance, among other things. Companies receive insurance products tailored to their needs.
However, the example of Coya also shows that it is not easy to establish yourself on the market as a small, independent insurer. In recent years, Coya has not grown as quickly as originally hoped. The gross premiums written in 2020 were just two million euros. The underwriting result was minus 4.4 million euros.
But the new CEO is in a positive mood for the current financial year. Coya has nearly tripled its customer base in the last six months. The company has now represented all the skills on the board of directors in order to "continue to drive this scaling in all areas of the company," emphasizes Bachem.
AI company Tractable gets $60 million and becomes a unicorn
AI company Tractable raises an additional $60 million from investors. The financing round is led by North American VC investors Insight Partners and Georgian. Tractable is now valued at $1 billion, making it a unicorn, the start-up announced on Thursday.
According to the company, over 20 of the world's top 100 auto insurers use its technology. For example, the second-largest US auto insurer, Geico, has recently been working with the start-up. The Polish subsidiary of HDI, Warta Versicherung and leading Japanese and French motor vehicle insurers are also among the customers.
Tractable also wants to attack in Germany. Cornelius Vogel, Head of Business Development in German-speaking countries, says: "In the German market we are currently in talks with companies from the areas of insurance, expert organizations and car manufacturers." He cannot yet name any customers. However, Germany is the fourth largest market globally in terms of motor vehicle claims, and is therefore “a natural core focus for us”. We are therefore investing heavily and are currently expanding the local team with industry experts.
Tractable will use the money from the financing round to accelerate growth in accident damage assessment. At the same time, the company plans to invest in new AI solutions for car condition assessment, which will enable users to determine vehicle damage down to individual parts. In addition, the round is expected to fund the application of Tractable's technology to assess building damage.
Tractable was founded by Frenchman Alex Dalyac and Romanian Razvan Ranca. Adrien Cohen later joined the founding team. While most of the 200 staff are based in the UK, Tractable generates over 90 per cent of its sales overseas. According to the company, this has increased by 600 percent in the last 24 months.
Finleap Connect receives 22 million euros in financing round
Technology and software provider Finleap Connect closes a €22 million financing round. According to CEO Frank Kebsch, Finleap Connect thus has a valuation in the "low three-digit million range". New investors include Japanese venture capitalist SBI Investment, which is financing the bulk of the round, and new fintech fund Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital.
Existing investors such as the parent company Finleap participated in the capital round, as did adas management. Other legacy investors stayed on board but made no further investments in this round. The bottom line is that Finleap still holds the majority in the company.
The money will be used to drive the planned international expansion and expand the product portfolio. The markets in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal are particularly important. In a core EU country, Finleap Connect is about to take over a company that should secure them market leadership in the field of open banking, Kebsch said in an interview with the Handelsblatt.
Finleap Connect was created two years ago from the merger of Figo, Finreach and Infinitec. Finleap boss Ramin Niroumand justified the merger with the increasing demand for a comprehensive product range.
Finleap Connect is one of those fintechs that consumers rarely see. They are so-called software-as-a-service providers, i.e. they offer their services to companies that need individually tailored financial products for the end customer.
Finleap-Connect is one of the beneficiaries of the Payment Services Directive PSD2, which has lifted the bank monopoly on data. Banks are obliged to grant special providers access to the accounts at the customer's request – through interfaces, so-called APIs. This is the basis for the Finleap Connect open banking platform. With this platform, the fintech offers its partners access to more than 3,600 banks in Europe. According to Finleap Connect, the connection is based on a single API that processes more than 65 million transactions per month.
Kebsch does not reveal any details about the course of business. But the direction of the license and transaction-related business model is obviously correct. "We want to break even in the second half of 2022," said Kebsch.
There is increasing evidence of a new round of financing for Wefox
Shortly after the Berlin neobroker Trade Republic, the insurance start-up Wefox is apparently about to conclude a new large round of financing. The insurtech could collect a sum of more than 500 million dollars from investors and would have a valuation of well over two billion dollars, as reported by the online portals Finanz-szene and Finance Forward
After the smartphone bank N26 and Trade Republic, Wefox would be the third multiple unicorn in the German fintech scene. A unicorn is a startup valued at over $1 billion.
It had been expected for a long time that Wefox wanted to collect money from investors on a larger scale this spring. Even if the numbers remain vague, they are still well above those recently reported. Wefox itself does not want to comment on the rumors. So far, there is no information about the investors participating in the round.
One can only speculate about what Wefox intends to do with the fresh money. Most recently, the insurtech, which has its roots in Switzerland but is mainly active in Germany, has pushed ahead with the international expansion of its digital insurer again – after this was initially slowed down in spring 2020 due to the corona crisis. Wefox Insurance is now also represented in Switzerland and Poland. A market entry in Italy is also planned.
The insurer's premium volume was EUR 33.8 million in 2020, well above that of other German insurance start-ups. Neodigital, for example, came to 5.6 million euros, Coya to two million euros. However, Wefox relies primarily on sales via brokers, while the other providers position themselves more as direct insurers. The bottom line was that Wefox Insurance made a small profit last year.
Other insurance start-ups have also received money from investors this year. The financing round of the digital insurance manager Clark, which collected 69 million euros around the turn of the year, attracted the most attention. The round was led by the Chinese internet company Tencent.

Private equity investor takes majority stake in iBanFirst

Financing rounds are always a tricky thing for start-ups. But in the future, the Franco-Belgian fintech iBanFirst will no longer have to worry about money.
According to information from the Handelsblatt, the US investment company Marlin Equity Partners, which is worth around 7.5 billion dollars, has acquired more than 50 percent of the foreign currency specialist for medium-sized companies.
iBanFirst has also been active on the German market since last year. According to reports, iBanFirst has a valuation of around 200 million euros.
With the involvement of Marlin Equity, business angels and former investors are partially replaced. Founder and CEO Pierre-Antoine Dusoulier and venture capitalists such as Elaia and Bpifrance Large Venture remain on board.
"With the entry of Marlin Equity, we are now in a position to raise our investments through debt financing," emphasizes Mark Elser, Head of Germany at iBanFirst.
Actually, companies would only be able to use this type of financing if they were profitable. Marlin Equity is obviously convinced of the business model.
In a first step, iBanFirst can use 50 million euros for its expansion plans. Specifically, new offices in Eastern Europe are about to open.
The core of iBanFirst's services is a digital platform for foreign currency transactions. Corporate customers can receive and pay payments in any currency and hedge currency risks.
At the same time, the transparency of the exchange rate at which the settlement is made is maintained. In the background, various major banks act as liquidity providers, who also make the foreign currency available
"The company's platform is well-positioned to achieve rapid, scalable growth by addressing the multi-trillion-dollar global market for B2B payments and foreign exchange solutions and is supported by strong partnerships with market leaders," said Jeremy Nakache Marlin Equity.
According to Elser, the company is currently processing a payment volume of two billion euros per month, which is double the figure for the same period last year. It shouldn't stay that way.
The deal finalized with Marlin will "significantly accelerate our international development while enabling sustained revenue growth," believes CEO Dusoulier.
Online broker Flatexdegiro has significantly increased its ambitions. The company, which is listed on the SDax, wants to serve seven to eight million brokerage customers by 2025 and process 250 to 350 million securities transactions per year.
The industry is booming, also because the young companies with their intuitive smartphone apps and very cheap securities trading give newcomers easier access to the stock markets. In addition, many people have discovered their interest in the stock markets, especially during the corona crisis and in the ongoing low interest rate environment.

Hopp Family Office invests in payment service providers

The Swiss fintech Bluecode receives 20 million euros in fresh funds. The company announced this on Thursday. According to its own statements, it is now valued at a good 100 million euros.
The financing round is led by the Hopp Family Office. Behind them are Daniel and Oliver Hopp, the sons of SAP founder Dietmar Hopp. The remaining money comes from existing Bluecode investors. This also includes other family offices – i.e. companies that manage the assets of individual rich families.
Bluecode was launched in 2015 as a smartphone payment system that allows customers to scan a barcode from their cell phone when paying at the checkout. The money is debited from a linked bank account. In Austria this already works in many supermarkets. In Germany, however, the number of partners is small and usage is minimal.
Bluecode aims to set up a mobile payment system across Europe that is independent of other companies. In Germany, paying by smartphone is still in its infancy. For some time, however, payment services from Apple and Google (Apple Pay and Google Pay) have also been available in addition to payment apps from banks. They work at the checkout using contactless data transmission via the NFC interface, short for Near Field Communication.
Despite the low distribution of Bluecode, investor Daniel Hopp sees an opportunity to strengthen European payment transactions. “It is not enough to keep pointing out the dangers posed by non-European payment providers. You also have to take countermeasures.” With Bluecode, not only does the added value remain in Europe, but it is finally also possible “to secure up-to-date data protection standards in mobile payment transactions according to European understanding,” explained Hopp.
The Viennese fintech Bitpanda continues to heat up the price war when trading shares.

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