15 Mar The cross-border B2B payments segment is in the midst of a funding flurry
In today’s globalised and multicultural marketplace, the critically important role of the cross-border payments segment has become so widely known that it hardly needs explanation.
Opportunities and promising innovations in cross-border remittances are on the rise, and B2B merchants increasingly demand more transparent, convenient, and cost-efficient options. Consequently, transactions are more often driven toward web-based and mobile solutions that the B2B fintech space is able to provide, while the traditional agent-based and bank-based incumbents get left in the dust.
The past few weeks have seen a whirlwind of activity in the B2B fintech funding arena that seems to have turned the cross-border B2B payments segment into a new favourite amongst venture capitalists. Google’s investment arm GV – formerly known as Google Ventures – participated in more than one of the funding-rounds announced by cross-border payments start-ups. Incidentally, the two start-ups that received investments from GV – Currencycloud and Veem – stated similar plans for the fresh funding boost. Both companies plan to put the funds toward further geographic expansion to meet the needs of their own SME clients who also have ambitions for international expansion.
March was a big month for cross-border B2B payments start-up Align Commerce. In addition to the announcement of a rebranding effort that will change its name to Veem, this globally active start-up secured a USD 24 million Series B funding round led by strategic investor National Australia Bank (NAB). Other participants in the funding round included GV, Softbank’s SBI Investment Co., Ltd., Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers and Silicon Valley Bank. Veem’s leaders view the current international payments ecosystem as fundamentally flawed in a way that ends up stifling the international efforts of SMEs. That is why Veem was built. Its platform creates a simple, frictionless user experience that allows businesses to access to payments, data, and invoices across the globe. To date, Veem has raised upwards of USD 40 million in funding, and is currently active in 60 countries worldwide.
Barely a day after the announcement by Veem, cross-border B2B payments specialist Currencycloud announced the finalisation of a GBP 20 million funding round led by GV. Other existing investors also participated in the new funding round, including the fintech fund of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, Anthemis, Sapphire Ventures, and Notion Capital. Currencycloud offers a sophisticated open API software solution that enables businesses to send money internationally in a more simple and effective manner than what is typically offered by the big banks.
Another software provider in the B2B payments space was next to secure funding – USD 13 million for Flow in a round led by Bain Capital Ventures, to be precise. Flow is on a mission to improve businesses’ international ecommerce sales. Flow’s clients – mainly online merchants, can integrate their website using an API provided by flow that allows merchants to customize their display catalog, prices, and taxes to reflect local currencies.
New funding deals were not the only news coming out of the cross-border B2B payments landscape over the past few weeks though. Flywire, a Boston-based firm specialised in financial services technologies, announced plans to develop beyond its current core service of processing international payments for college tuition and health care. The fintech firm was founded out of MIT in 2009 under the name peerTransfer, where it began as a solution to help international students make tuition payments in foreign currencies. Now, Flywire is looking to make its mark in cross-border B2B transactions by offering its service at a rate below the rates offered by most banks and wire transfer services.
It is safe to say that cross-border B2B payments start-ups have seen a successful start to the Spring thus far. We will certainly be watching out to see how this B2B fintech segment continues to grow and thrive in the future.