Financial infrastructure startup Fidel API has raised $65 million in a Series B funding round led by Bain Capital Ventures.
The London-based company provides identity, data and payments products that it says gives developers a way to capture consent permissions and “securely” connect payment cards to a service or application.
“With this infrastructure, developers are able to create highly contextualized and event-driven user experiences at the point of purchase,” it claims. Fidel API is industry agnostic, with customers ranging in the “hundreds,” from startups to giants such as Google, Royal Bank of Canada and British Airways. Developers use the company’s tools to power a range of features, including digital receipts, omnichannel attribution, loyalty and rewards, expense management and personal finance management.
Fidel API says it has tripled its growth metrics and quadrupled its card base year-over-year since launching in 2018, according to CEO and co-founder Dev Subrata, who declined to reveal hard revenue figures. It is currently powering services for “tens of millions” of cardholders and “hundreds of thousands” of merchants globally.
Existing backers NYCA Partners, QED Investors and other unnamed investors also participated in the Series B financing, which brings the company’s total raised to $88 million since inception. Other backers include Citi Ventures, RBC Capital and Commerce Ventures. The company did not disclose its valuation.
The raise is another example of how infrastructure companies in the fintech world continue to be resilient despite an apparent slowdown in global funding overall. The ability to empower other companies in the world of financial services is proving to be lucrative as well as attractive to investors. Just last week, Cross River Bank landed a $620 million investment that pushed its valuation to more than $3 billion. In February, blockchain infrastructure startup Alchemy announced that it had closed on a $200 million Series C1 equity round that valued the company at $10.2 billion.
In the case of Fidel API, Subrata says the company has built the infrastructure that can help developers create “programmable money.”
“Our role in the ecosystem is to enable other developers to build what we call programmable experiences on top of existing money flow that can be quite archaic,” Subrata said. “What we have done is build a modern connectivity layer that sits on top of the payment systems on the global net core networks. And then we expose that through a modern API for other developers to innovate on top of.”
Its technology, he adds, removes “a lot of” complexity from the process, as well as compliance needs.
“That compresses the time to build from two years to two days, and compresses thousands of lines of code into just seven lines of code,” Subrata said.
Specifically, he added, the company’s data product can capture whenever a cardholder marks a transaction using their cards at any location. Its identity product provides a way to verify a cardholder identity. And, its payouts product gives companies a way to put money back onto an employee’s card.
“Once consent is captured from consumers, developers can then capture payment information in real time, and then use that payment event to make real-time decisions programmatically on each purchase and then trigger events off the back of that,” Subrata said. “And once you do that, you can start creating experiences that can really transform the way we do things and fix broken processes and drive new value for consumers that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.” For example, a company can question in real time if a purchase adheres to its policy.
Fidel API has offices in its home base of London as well as in Lisbon, Portugal, and New York. Presently, it has 130 employees distributed globally. It plans to use its new capital to double its headcount, with an emphasis on engineering, sales and product hires, as well as invest in existing products and newer product capabilities across identity verification, consent management and payments.
“We’re in hyper growth mode,” Subrata told TC. “And this capital will help us continue to accelerate down that path. The vision and the path forward is really clear. Today, it’s really just execution.”
Since launching its offering in 2018, Fidel API says it has entered markets across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
Solving for expense management
There are a number of U.S.-based players in the crowded expense and spend management space, including Ramp, Airbase, Brex and TripActions, among others. They are mostly focused on North America, for now.
Merritt Hummer, partner at Bain Capital Ventures, said she doesn’t view Fidel API as a competitor to expense management players, but rather an enabler of them.
“In fact, Fidel API can augment the business models of expense management platforms by allowing them to track spend on any third-party card, not just branded cards issued by the expense management company,” she told TC. “And for expense management platforms that don’t want to issue cards at all, Fidel API provides them with the ability to match the capabilities of platforms that do issue their own cards. Ultimately, employees should be able to use any card they want without degrading their user experience or reimbursement speed. Fidel API enables that future.”
She believes that Fidel API stands out from other infrastructure players in that it offers real-time connectivity to the major card networks.
“There is no other platform out there that gives startups and enterprises the ability to leverage real-time card transaction data.”
The applications of real-time, granular card transaction data are vast, she continued.
“Just look at the wave of innovation in expense management right now. Startups are popping up all over the world to solve the universal pain point of managing employee expenses,” Hummer told TC. “Fidel API is uniquely suited to this use case because it provides real-time, highly granular and accurate spend data. All of these elements are important in the context of employee expenses, where precise, timely information is key to manage approvals and reimburse employees.”
Along that same vein, Ramp earlier this year — when it announced it was expanding into the travel space — said it was now able to give companies the ability to create travel policies with air travel, lodging and per diem limits that would “automatically get enforced.” For example, managers would get real-time alerts when employees spend out-of-policy.
Meanwhile, Hummer added that generally, the financial services industry is “marching toward a faster, more digitized and less expensive phase,” with automation replacing manual processes across the whole industry.
“API platforms like Fidel play a big role in this transition because they facilitate seamless information transfer between parties,” she told TC. “In the past, information like card transaction data would have to be transferred in batches or with human involvement.”