French VC Elaia and national investment bank Bpifrance, have joined a €21 million funding round in B2B multi-currency payments platform iBanFirst.
The Series C round brings the total venture capital funding in the payment fintech - which serves serves more than 4 000 customers all over Europe - to €46 million since its founding in 2013. Elaia and Bpifrance join French funds Serena and Breega, which first invested in the company in November 2018.
Operating from a banking-as-a-service model, the company provides a plug in for SMEs to gain access to a network of fintech startups offering an alternative to traditional banks for their day-to-day banking needs.
Since closing its last funding round, iBanFirst has significantly developed its footprint in Europe, with the acquisition of Dutch and German competitors NBWM and Forexfix at the end of 2019. The volume of payment transactions has almost tripled, with a year-on-year increase averaging 180% in March 2020, which, in turn, has led to three-figure revenue growth as well. To support this, the company’s staff numbers have also expanded, from 16 employees in 2016 to 180 employees in 2020.
The firm is working to expand its product portfolio with a suite of services to support SMEs grappling with the fall out from the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes the forthcoming launch of a new payment tracker, as well as additional Open Banking and import lending services designed to improve confidence between clients and suppliers as the risk of business defaults grows.
Xavier Lazarus, managing partner at Elaia believes the business has a great opportunity to emerge as a leading player in the post-Covid economy.
“The digitisation of the traditional economy is not only underway, but it has been drastically accelerated by the current health crisis," he says. "The fintech sector, and especially the international payments sector, is on course to becoming one of the clear winners of this crisis period. While the bulk of the market remains in the hands of offline historical players, their quality of service and transaction costs are increasingly challenged."