Fintech funding round-up: 1 December 2017
Who doesn’t love a trilogy? Following on from the round-ups on Thursday (30 November) and Tuesday (28 November) here’s another slice of fintech funding action. Features Deposit Solutions, Hanson Robotics’ Sophia, and BNP Paribas Asset Management.
Germany’s Deposit Solutions, an open banking platform for deposits, has closed an investment round of $20 million led by existing shareholders e.ventures and Greycroft. The money will be used for vague plans – i.e. to “further accelerate the growth and international expansion” of its platform.
The company says its APIs allow a bank to connect to its solution, either by sourcing or by offering their own clients a choice of deposit products from other banks through one “master account”. Deposit Solutions says it works more than 50 banks from 16 countries across Europe, among them Deutsche Bank and FFB, the German subsidiary of Fidelity. Earlier this year, UK challenger bank Atom was granted permission to offer retail deposits in Germany via a partnership with Deposit Solutions. In addition, Deposit Solutions acquired fellow fintech Savedo – gaining 18,000+ clients, 13 partner banks and new regions.
Sophia, Hanson Robotics’ artificial intelligence (AI) powered humanoid robot, is asking the public to help fund her AI. This wasn’t done via a press release but through the gimmick of a video. Smart idea in a way. Sophia has revealed a token sale on 8 December for SingularityNET, a blockchain-fuelled open source platform for AI and machine learning that powers her “brain” and other robots. There is no minimum contribution amount, so anyone who likes robots can participate. As the name suggests, the concept of SingularityNET is to make a decentralised and open marketplace for AI development.
By the way, earlier this month, Banking Technology was at Finastra Universe London 2017 and met Sophia for an informal chat. All prepped and without a lower half of a body, hair and eerily smiling, speaking with Sophia was somewhat bemusing. Although she understood the questions on open banking and the future of AI, her responses were rather generic and limited – although she did tell us that “techno” to no surprise was her favourite genre of music. Still, fascinating nonetheless and one thing is assured, machines won’t be replacing us anytime soon. Even Sophia assured this at the end by saying “machines are here to make life better, improve and drive innovation”.
BNP Paribas Asset Management (BNPP AM) has launched Parvest Disruptive Technology, a fund investing in technologies for “transformative business models”. It is a sub-fund of the Luxembourg-registered Parvest SICAV and is currently valued at €181 million.
The portfolio consists of 30 to 50 holdings in companies with a minimum market capitalisation of $1 billion, selected from the MSCI World Index. BNP AMM says current “secular” themes include cloud computing, AI and data analytics, automation and robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and the internet of things (IoT). Its interest in these is not purely fintech, as it adds that these themes have “wide-reaching implications” across sectors such as industrials, healthcare, financial services, consumer and energy.