ICYMI fintech funding round-up: Blend, Canza, IMAN, NayaPay, NymCard, Plinqit, & Tiiik
At FinTech Futures, we know that it can be easy to let funding announcements slip you by in this fast-paced industry. That’s why we put together our weekly In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) funding round-up for you to get the latest funding news.
UK-based property lender Blend Network has secured £10 million in funding in its latest investment round.
The oversubscribed round was led by emerging VC investor Nico Paraskevas (a former senior exec at Glencore) with participation from existing investors such as Cyrus Ardalan (former Barclays vice chairman and current chairman of both OakNorth Bank and CAF Financial Solutions) and Jean-Philippe Blochet (co-founder of macro hedge fund Brevan Howard).
Backed by family offices since 2019, Blend also counts Publicis Group chairman Maurice Levy’s family office among its investors.
Blend says it now draws less than 10% of its funding from restricted retail investors, which made up the majority of its backers just a couple of years ago.
“Blend’s platform provides SMEs with a level of service previously available only to large, well-established developers, saving them considerable time and effort,” the company says.
“It also provides family offices looking for exposure to development finance loans with Origination-as-a-Service, including full security, transparency, and an enhanced due diligence process carried out on all loans.”
Blend says it has doubled its lending volumes annually since 2019.
The latest funds will be used to scale its origination team and to invest in technology.
Canza Finance, an emerging markets neobank that claims to be building “the world’s largest non-institutional-based financial system”, has completed a $3.27 million seed round.
The fundraising round was led by Fenbushi Capital, with participation from Dominance Ventures, Bixin Ventures, Consensys, Protocol Labs, Emergo Ventures, MEXC Global, NGC Ventures, XanPool, Hashkey, the founders of Celo, and others.
The money will be used to grow the team and services in its home market of Nigeria as well as further afield, including South America and Asia.
Established in 2020, Canza relies on decentralised finance (DeFi) and a network of local money market players to distribute financial and transaction-based services to users in Sub-Saharan African countries.
Canza’s crypto on/off-ramp services enable various DeFi offerings such as staking, peer-to-peer (P2P), and cross-border settlements.
It is also a member of Celo’s Alliance for Prosperity, an ecosystem of 140+ organisations including non-profits, merchants, and payment processors using the Celo blockchain. Canza says it has over 7,000 Celo wallets created via the USSD DApp with weekly transactions averaging over $200,000.
IMAN, an Islamic fintech start-up in Uzbekistan, has closed a $1 million seed funding round.
IMAN’s offering comprises IMAN Invest, an investment platform, and IMAN Pay, a Shariah-compliant buy now, pay later (BNPL) solution.
The round saw participation from Battery Road Digital Holdings, Tesla Capital, UZCARD Ventures, MyAsiaVC, Le Mercier’s Capital, Block0, Vector Crypto Capital, and IT-Park Investments.
A number of angel investors from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Singapore, the UAE, and the US also took part.
It plans to launch outside of Uzbekistan, to other predominantly Muslim markets, by 2023 and hopes to raise another $1 million in its pre-Series A funding round.
IMAN says it is unique in the BNPL domain as it uses a Murbaha (cost-plus) financing structure.
It also has a separate Islamic purchase/sale agreement with merchants.
Furthermore, IMAN does not generate revenue from late fees or other charges.
To scale IMAN Invest, it is looking to build a decentralised finance (DeFi) protocol that will connect investors seeking sustainable halal yield with consumers seeking funds in frontier markets.
Pakistan-based NayaPay has raised $13 million in a seed round led by Zayn Capital, global fund manager MSA Novo, and early-stage VC Graph Ventures from Silicon Valley.
Singapore-based Saison Capital, Waleed Saigol’s Maple Leaf Capital, and Empower Finance CEO Warren Hogarth also participated in the round, alongside a major investment from the sponsors of the Lakson Group – a Pakistani conglomerate with interests in media, telecom, industrials, and financial services as well as a controlling stake in Colgate-Palmolive Pakistan and McDonalds Pakistan.
The start-up, which has been in a private beta, says it’s the first fintech of its kind in Pakistan. It has recently secured the country’s first e-money institution licence from the central bank.
“NayaPay aims to be at the forefront in the digitisation of Pakistan with its two-sided platform for the underbanked,” it says.
The fintech has launched its chat-led “super-app” targeted primarily at students and freelancers and is building a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based platform called NayaPay Arc, offering universal payment acceptance and financial management tools for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
“NayaPay’s platform strategy will harness the network effects between consumers and merchants, as seen in platforms such as Square Cash/Square, WeChat Pay, AliPay, and Venmo in their native markets,” it explains.
NymCard has received an undisclosed investment from Mashreq Bank in return for a stake in the fintech, which the bank describes as “the only Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) provider in the Middle East”.
This investment is part of Mashreq’s fintech fund. Fernando Morillo, global head of retail banking at Mashreq, says the bank “recognises the crucial role the fintechs play in growing financial inclusion and the digital economy”.
Omar Onsi, CEO and founder of NymCard, describes the deal as “a major milestone”.
“With this new relationship, NymCard has dramatically reduced the cost and time it will take for fintechs to get live in the UAE, with innovative payment cards that support their business models, leveraging our modern and open API-based infrastructure,” Onsi says.
NymCard was founded in 2018 in Abu Dhabi. Last year, it raised $7.6 million in a Series A round.
Michigan, US-based fintech Plinqit has raised $5 million in its Series A funding round, bringing its total capital raised to just under $10 million since its founding in 2013.
Nashville-based Fintop Capital and New York-based JAM FINTOP co-led the round, with participation from current investors including Invest Detroit, a non-profit lender, investor, and partner supporting organisations across Detroit; Michigan Rise, an investor of Michigan tech start-ups to help commercialise innovative technologies; and Michigan-based 4Front Credit Union, among others.
“Created by millennials for millennials”, Plinqit says it “specialises in providing financial institutions with a cost-effective customer acquisition strategy while also delivering tools that improve their financial wellness”.
It also claims to be “the only savings platform of its kind that pays users for learning about personal finances” with its Build Skills offering.
The start-up says that on average, it costs less than the cost of a traditional savings account for financial institutions.
It also provides a virtual account management system – Vi.Ledger – which gives financial institutions the foundation to create their own custom savings programme using virtual accounts within the application.
Australia-based Tiiik has raised AUD 5.2 million ($3.8 million) in a seed round to build a digital wallet.
“We’ve built a financial model that works for both sides [financial service providers and clients],” it says on its website.
Tiiik invites users to join its waiting list and promises flexibility to deposit and withdraw money at any point, with no hidden fees or secret penalties.
Its investors and partners include Jump Capital, Global Founders Capital, FinTech Collective, 0x Ventures, Athena Ventures, Gate.io, and Waterdrip Capital, among others.
Individual investors and partners include Alvin Singh and Bosco Tan (co-founders at Pocketbook), Heslin Kim (co-founder at SupraOracles), Jonty Kelt (founder at Fantail Ventures), and Lucas He (co-founder at OP Crypto).