News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

two small test tubes

1. UK – FinTech 

AltFi takes a look at the five largest fintech funding rounds of 2020 so far.  

The year started on solid ground, but as the outbreak of coronavirus began to take over, government-mandated lockdowns ensued and we entered a period of economic turmoil unlike we have ever seen.  

However, despite all the uncertainty going on in the world, European fintechs have received huge injections of cash suggesting investors are still bullish on the sector. 

In fact, the top five investment rounds mentioned on this list equate to a total of £1.3bn. 

An honourable mention on this list goes out to Atomico which closed a $820m (£658m) raise in February of this year. 

And while this massive raise would put Atomico in first place on this list, we chose to leave it out on the grounds that it is a VC firm and not just a company looking to raise cash.

2. UK - FinTech

Consumer-focused alternative lending platform Lending Works has been snapped up by alternative asset manager Intriva Capital. AltFi reports:

“The deal sees Intriva take full control of Lending Works, subject to regulatory approval. The firm says it has further committed to providing "significant additional funding and capital" to support the growth of the business. This will allow expansion of the business in the coming years.

Lending Works has previously raised money from UK-based private equity house Maven Capital Partners, Pollen Street Capital and NVM Private Equity.

The firm, which suspended the use of its secondary market and stopped access to retail investor funded loans in April, was launched in 2014. Lending Works has lent almost £250m to date.

Nicholas Harding, founder and chief executive officer of Lending Works, will continue to lead the business, alongside the existing management team. The intention is for some of Intriva’s team, including Simon Finn, Intriva Capital's Managing Partner, to join Lending Works’ board as non-executive directors.”

3. UK – FinTech

 

Nextfin has launched a 'Free Our Startups campaign in a renewed bid to help entrepreneurs and startups impacted by coronavirus. We run an excerpt from the press announcement below.

“In an open letter to HM Treasury, the financial aggregator calls for significant short term changes to the EIS and SEIS, which use tax reliefs as a means to incentivise private investors who are willing to invest in early-stage businesses, to give startups the freedom to seek their own equity-based investment, rather than accumulate further debt as a result of government business loan schemes. It calls for a temporary rise in income tax relief to 50% for EIS and 70% for SEIS, and also increase the SEIS investment threshold to £250,000 and £10 million for EIS.

As many startups still struggle to access government backed loan schemes such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and Bounce Back Loan, Nextfin has created a petition and is demanding the government invoke the European Union’s General Blockage Exemption Rule (GBER), a mechanism which can be used to provide lawful State Aid without going through the normal notification and approval processes.

Since its introduction, every Chancellor improved and/or widened the schemes prior to the 2015 changes, recognising its value to the UK economy including the Conservative manifesto which quoted “Some of our work has been spectacularly successful - such as the SEIS & EIS, which we will continue in the next parliament.”

4. UK - Equity

Crowdfundinsider reports:

“Just a little over six months after raising £361,162 through its previous Seedrs campaign, UK-based mobile technology platform, Thyngs, has returned to the equity crowdfunding platform with a mission to raise an additional £200,000 in the funding. Through the new funding round, Thyngs is offering 2.57% in equity at a £7,592,407 pre-money valuation. 

As previously reported, Thyngs is on a mission to transform physical objects and locations into smart, connected, experiences that are engaging, rewarding, and memorable by building a secure and affordable for businesses to take advantage of the growth of the mobile payment and create a sustainable business model in the UK fundraising sector. 

“Charities are using our platform to turn collecting boxes, shop windows and even staff into instant mobile donation points, more than covering ongoing costs with the extra income generated through Gift Aid. Global brands are also using it to engage and convert customers directly from marketing, merchandise, packaging, and products.”

Thyngs’ self-service platform is reportedly being used by charities, retailers, publishers, and re-seller partners to create new services in minutes. Printers and manufacturers embed specially designed hardware, stickers, or cards (thyngs) into their existing print production processes with an incremental cost of pennies.”

 

5. International – FinTech

FinExtra reports:

“Bitfinex, a state-of-the-art digital asset trading platform, has launched paper trading, a demo account service that enables users to practice strategies without putting funds at risk in a live account.

Paper trading, which will be available on newly-created sub accounts, will enable users to trade Bitcoin in a simulated market environment without the need to deposit real funds. As an exchange built to serve professional trading strategies, the addition of paper trading will enable users to explore the rich features of the platform without putting funds at risk.”