Alt Lending, Artificial Intelligence Startups Lead Investment Activity

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This week’s VC Investment Roundup demonstrates investors’ varied appetite for B2B FinTech. Funding targets this time around included blockchain, logistics, alternative finance, artificial intelligence and T&E — with a few startups taking a stab at some of the biggest problems in the cannabis industry, procurement and microfinance. Take a look at which firms from around the world landed new funds this week, and how they plan to deploy the cash.

Blockchain

Blockchain Capital

Blockchain heavyweight Ripple made headlines this week when it announced a $25 million investment in Blockchain Capital, a venture capital firm focused on backing blockchain startups. The funding comes in the form of Ripple’s own cryptocurrency and will be used to fund startups selected by Blockchain Capital. Ripple said it hopes the investment will be used to support innovators that deploy Ripple technology.

Artificial Intelligence

Xeeva

With a focus on artificial intelligence (AI) technology, Xeeva enables companies to more strategically source and procure. The software company this week announced more than $40 million in funding from PeakEquity Partners, which will go toward a continued focus on growth, expanding its product offering, strengthening sales and marketing and developing the overall Xeeva brand. Xeeva’s AI-fueled software enables companies to analyze spend data, automate procurement processes, strategically source suppliers and identify savings opportunities.

SenseTime

China’s SenseTime announced $600 million in Series C funding for its artificial intelligence solution, which offers businesses a platform for a range of industries, including medical imaging, autonomous driving and hardware optimization. Reports in AsiaOne said SenseTime is now China’s largest AI platform and AI algorithms supplier. Alibaba Group led the investment, which also saw participation from Temasek and Suning; the funds will be put toward accelerating company expansion and building out its partnership network.

Alternative Finance

Liberis

British Business Investments, Paragon Bank, BCI Finance and Blenheim Chalcot facilitated an $81.8 millioninvestment in U.K. alternative finance player Liberis. The funding, provided in the form of facility and equity investment, will go toward growth for the company, which said it aims to add 100,000 jobs by 2020. British Business Investments, the commercial unit of the British Business Bank, already works with Liberis to facilitate financing to small businesses (SMBs). In addition to growth, Liberis said it will use the investment to expand its product offering and grow globally.

Supply Finance

Based in Ireland, Supply Finance landed $4.9 million in Series A funding, reports in Independent.ie said this week. Finch Capital and Fenway Summer Ventures participated in the round, which will bolster the company’s trade finance operations targeting SMBs across Europe. Supply Finance collaborates with financier partners to link small businesses to trade finance. Supply Finance said it hopes to enter into three new markets in Europe, beginning with Denmark; that initiative includes a partnership with Omniveta, a Danish firm that links clients to liquidity.

Tienda Pago

Peru’s Tienda Pago links small business borrowers with weeklong lines of credit for growth. The company announced $7.5 million in new funding to support its operations in Peru and Mexico, according to ImpactAlpha reports. The Series A funding was led by Kaszek Ventures, QED Ventures, Oikocredit, Accion Venture Lab and Agrega Partners and will be used for geographic expansion across Latin America.

T&E

TravelPerk

Corporate travel solutions provider TravelPerk secured $21 million in Series B funding this week led by Target Global and Felix Capital. The Spanish company provides Software as a Service to enterprises with an integrated rewards program to help businesses remain on budget when booking business travel. The end-to-end solution supports travel booking, administration and policy management, analytics and customer service, with a particular focus on SMB clients, according to TechCrunch reports. The company said it aims to use the funds to focus on accelerating growth.

Cannabis

MOTA coin

Details of the investment are scarce, but Player’s Network Inc. revealed on Thursday (April 12) that it invested in MOTA coin, a payment solution for the cannabis industry that links legal cannabis companies to financial services. MOTA coin aims to be a payment rail for the marijuana industry to facilitate electronic payments and receipts for businesses. The cryptocurrency is set with a fixed exchange price, the company said, and enables both businesses and consumers to make payments in the marijuana industry.

Wurk

With $3.2 million in new funding, Wurk said it will hire a new chief technical officer and chief operating officer for its HR solutions designed for legal marijuana businesses. The company collaborates with financial service providers to link cannabis businesses to tools like payroll, reducing these businesses’ reliance on cash. The company landed the funds from Poseidon Asset Management, Phyto Partners, Altitude Investment Partners, Arcview Investor Network and Arcadian Fund, according to Green Market Report.

Logistics

ODeX

Supply chain finance company Invoice Bazaar made an undisclosed investment in ODeX, an online logistics and shipping company facilitating digital document exchange. The company wants to expand its reach across Africa and the Middle East with its online platform connecting freight forwarders, importers and exporters, shipping lines and other stakeholders in the global supply chain. The company supports workflow and payments automation for these firms, reports in Khaleej Timessaid.

Loadshare

India’s Loadshare announced new funding this week, though it, too, chose not to disclose financial details of the investment. Stellaris Venture Partners and Matrix Partners India provided the funds, according to Livemint reports. Loadshare supports small- and medium-sized businesses by linking them to first-mile and last-mile delivery services, logistics software solutions and other tools via its community of logistics partners, with the broader aim of helping SMBs develop their logistics strategies. The company said it plans to use the investment to expand geographically, strengthen its leadership team and focus on technology development.

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