British fintech start-up TrueLayer raises $70 million to take on Visa and Mastercard

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Francesco Simoneschi, CEO and co-founder of U.K. fintech start-up TrueLayer.TrueLayer

LONDON — British financial technology start-up TrueLayer says it’s raised $70 million in fresh funding, highlighting continued appetite from investors for fast-growing fintech firms.

TrueLayer lets fintech apps like Revolut and Freetrade connect with customers’ bank accounts using technology known as APIs, or application programming interfaces. This means users of those apps can then make payments from their bank or view balances and transactions from different accounts.

The company said its latest investment round was led by Addition, the venture capital firm founded by former Tiger Global partner Lee Fixel. Existing investors Anthemis Group, Connect Ventures, Mouro Capital, Northzone and Singapore’s Temasek also invested.

Francesco Simoneschi, TrueLayer’s CEO and co-founder, said in an interview that the firm decided to raise more cash on the back of strong growth in 2020, helped in no small part by the coronavirus pandemic and a shift from consumers toward digital means of managing their finances.

“We were closing 2020 in an extremely positive way,” Simoneschi told CNBC. “We were going through an incredible year of growth,” he said, adding the company saw its payment volumes spike as much as 600 times.

TrueLayer declined to share its financials or valuation. The company, which also counts Chinese internet giant Tencent as a shareholder, has now raised $142 million in funding to date.

TrueLayer said it will use the fresh cash to expand its services internationally, building out its presence in Europe first before targeting a rollout in Australia. It’s also exploring whether to launch in Brazil further down the line.

Open banking

The news comes a day after Silicon Valley firm Plaid — which competes with TrueLayer in Europe — announced it had raised $425 million in a new investment, valuing the company at $13.4 billion. Plaid had initially agreed to be acquired by Visa last year for $5.3 billion, but scrapped the deal after the U.S. government raised antitrust concerns.

Plaid and TrueLayer are part of a new movement in finance called “open banking,” which aims to open up precious banking data and payment services to fintech firms and other approved third parties, provided they’ve