Date
26 February 2020
UK-based fintech startup Currencycloud has built a set of remittance APIs that let any financial business integrate money transfer services into its platform. Photo: Currencycloud
UK-based fintech startup Currencycloud has built a set of remittance APIs that let any financial business integrate money transfer services into its platform. Photo: Currencycloud

Currencycloud secures US$80 million from Visa, World Bank

Currencycloud, a Google-backed startup operating a fully cloud-based platform for business-to-business cross-border payments, has raised US$80 million in a funding round co-led by Sapphire Ventures and credit card and payment giant Visa.

The UK-based financial technology (fintech) firm powers cross-border payments for a number of popular finance apps, and sells payment software for banks and fintech firms to process their international transactions.

Currencycloud’s Series E funding round also attracted backing from GV, formerly Google Ventures, the investment arm of the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, French lender BNP Paribas and Japanese bank SBI. Visa’s treasurer, Colleen Ostrowski, will join Currencycloud’s board following the deal.

In 2017, Google participated in a US$25 million investment round for Currencycloud. The firm had also received backing from Japanese technology company Rakuten Inc., Thailand’s oldest bank Siam Commercial Bank Group, and venture capital firms Anthemis Group and Notion Capital Ltd., among other investors.

Currencycloud has now raised US$140 million from investors, according to the firm’s announcement, and boasts of having processed north of US$50 billion in global payments since it was founded in 2012.

It has built a set of remittance application programming interfaces (APIs) that let any financial business integrate money transfer services into its platform, and provides technology to companies ranging from banks to popular payments startups, to offer international payments services without having to set up complex and costly cross-border infrastructure.

It packages its remittance infrastructure – finding exchange rates, transferring funds between two end points and meeting local compliance at both ends – by way of an API that is used by hundreds of other remittance companies to create services for individual and corporate customers.

“We call the segment embedded finance,” Currencycloud founder and chief executive Mike Laven told CNBC in an interview, on how the firm embeds its products into platforms from big banks and fintech firms. “We’re probably the most important business that you’ve never heard of. But that’s being conscientious on our part. We do not have a strategy where we compete with our customers.”

As of the end of 2019, the firm has some 350 business clients including Swedish payments business Klarna, lender Standard Bank Group, and foreign exchange company Travelex.

The firm also works with a number of so-called challenger banks in Britain – including Revolut, Monzo and Starling Bank – which have racked up millions of users who bank with them using only an app and debit card.

More than US$50 billion in global payments has been sent using its 85 APIs, which cover areas like inbound money collection, foreign exchange, outgoing payments, digital wallet services managing multiple currencies and more, to some 180 countries to date, Currencycloud said.

In the fast-growing business-to-business fintech sector, it has been competing with payment processors like Stripe, Adyen and Checkout.com.

As of October 2019, the firm has 250 staff, with about three-fifths of them based in London. It has recently opened an office in Amsterdam and will employ 20 people there by the end of the year to help serve clients in the European Union post-Brexit, Laven told Reuters in a previous interview.

Currencycloud currently operates in Europe and North America, and with the fresh capital in place, it aims to expand its payment methods and its business in Asia, where fintech has seen significant adoption rates.

Laven told TechCrunch that Asia will be a big focus for Currencycloud in the year ahead, with a new office in Singapore to tap into providing money-transfer APIs to businesses in the region.

It also counts Visa as a strategic investor, and has partnered with the payments network to provide its clients access to Currencycloud’s technology.

The investment in Currencycloud comes after Visa’s US$5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid, a company that specializes in API software to link fintech apps with people’s bank accounts, in mid-January.

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