It’s fun watching fintech startups grow

Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech (formerly The Interchange)! In this edition, I’m going to look at a fintech being sold in a fire sale, a group of startup raises, and more!

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The big story

The saga continues. In mid-May, TC’s Manish Singh reported that founders of ZestMoney had resigned from the startup. The Indian fintech, whose ability to underwrite small ticket loans to first-time internet customers, once drew the backing of many high-profile investors, including Goldman Sachs. By December, ZestMoney was shutting down following unsuccessful efforts to find a buyer. Then, last week, the company, which was once valued at $450 million, was sold to DMI in a “fire sale.”

Analysis of the week

One of the most fun parts of being a reporter is tracking companies’ growth over the years. In 2020, I wrote about Briq’s $10 million Series A and its mission to bring fintech to the construction industry. Last week, I covered its $8 million Series B extension at a $150 million valuation, as well as its AI-related growth plans. In 2021, I reported on Argentinian payments infrastructure startup Pomelo’s $9 million seed raise. Last week, I covered its $40 million Series B financing and the fact that it grew revenue by 200% in 2023. I love watching companies I reported on at the early stages still in the game, and growing! This is how investors must feel.

Dollars and cents

Christine Hall was busy last week!

Digital Onboarding grabs $58M to help banks with profitable customer engagement: Communications from financial institutions is often paper-based, which often leads to between 25% and 40% of new checking accounts closed within the first year. This SaaS startup wants to fix this.

Kashable banks $25.6M to offer employment-based lending: More employers are adding financial products to their employee benefits and perks, and many startups have jumped into this sector to help. Fintech company Kashable is the latest.

Tandem gives ‘modern couples’ app to manage finances together and separately: Meet Tandem — a new fintech startup that addresses the first financial milestones for couples and grows with the relationship – which just raised $3.7 million.

What else we’re writing

African neobank Kuda tried to raise $20M at flat valuation in 2023, missed user milestone projection by 3M: Earlier this month, Kuda co-founder and CEO Babs Ogundeyi told users that the Nigerian online challenger bank had reached almost ₦56 trillion (~$60 billion) in transaction value since its 2019 launch. Ogundeyi also said that Kuda had achieved a notable milestone, with 7 million retail and business customers as of today. However, the figure falls short of the fintech’s projections when it sought fresh investment last year.

Other high-interest headlines

Stripe, Flexport, TikTok, and other startups were investing in startups. That has largely stopped: “Stripe’s investments through mid-2021 signaled its intent to expand internationally and grow beyond its core e-commerce business. Stripe acquired Nigeria-based Paystack in 2020 — extending its reach in Africa — after participating in the payment startup’s Series A in 2018.” That level of investing has slowed dramatically, according to CB Insights data.

Cross-border payments fintech Neo hits profitability after year of rapid growth: “The Barcelona-based fintech which provides a one-stop-shop multi-currency account for corporate treasurers recorded an annual revenue in excess of €5 million and an annual profit of €1 million,” reports Fintech Finance News.

Podcasts worth checking out

The other side of AI hype: Alex Wilhelm and I do quick dives into the raises of Pomelo, Briq and Tandem, and much more!

Back in the Unicorn Club with Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee: Alex Wilhelm and I invited Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee to chat through her massive new article concerning the unicorn world.

ICYMI: I had a blast interviewing pre-seed investor Everywhere Ventures’ Jenny Fielding. Click below to listen!

Follow me on X @bayareawriter for breaking fintech news, posts about coffee and more.

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