An early backer of technology giants including Twitter and Trivago is leading a $50m (£36m) investment in a British-based fintech group set up by one of Boris Johnson’s top business advisers.
Sky News has learnt that Pollinate, which was co-founded by Alastair Lukies, has secured the new funding from investors led by Insight Partners.
The Series C deal will add the New York-based firm to a syndicate of Pollinate shareholders which already includes the taxpayer-backed lender NatWest Group, MasterCard and National Australia Bank.
Pollinate allows banks to compete with payments groups such as Worldpay by upgrading their tech capabilities to serve SME clients more effectively through the deployment of its cloud technology platform.
Its software offers a ‘one-stop shop’ for SMEs, including the ability to take payment, digital loyalty schemes and marketing tools and insights.
News of the latest investment in the company will come just weeks after a government-sponsored review of the UK fintech industry, led by the former Worldpay chief Ron Kalifa, proposed a series of measures aimed at boosting the sector.
Established in 2019, Pollinate represents Mr Lukies’ latest fintech venture after founding the payments business Monitise and growing it into a London-listed company worth well over £1bn at its peak.
Mr Lukies was appointed as a business ambassador by David Cameron in 2014, and has also chaired Innovate Finance, the trade body for the UK fintech sector.
He now chairs the Fintech Alliance and is a member of Mr Johnson’s newly formed council of business advisors.
Pollinate is said to be close to finalising a number of new bank partnerships to add to the deal it has with NatWest’s merchant acquiring brand, Tyl, and NAB.
To date, the company has raised approximately $100m from investors.
Mr Lukies founded the company with Fiona Roach Canning, a former executive at the Nectar loyalty programme, ex-Bain tech executive Tim Joslyn and Jonathan Hughes, a former Worldpay chief operating officer.
“SMEs are the lifeblood of economies globally,” Mr Lukies said.
“They are the job creators, the innovators, and the brave explorers that simply find a way to make things work.
“Access to capital, intuitive banking services and a broad ecosystem of value-added solutions and partners are critical to the journey of a small business owner.”
Emmet Keeffe III, an operating partner at Insight Partners, said Pollinate’s provision of white-labelled digital marketplaces for major banks presented an attractive growth opportunity.
“Following the pandemic, the banks have the opportunity to lead the regeneration of the SME economy but they must move quickly,” Mr Keeffe III said.
(c) Sky News 2021: Early Twitter backer Insight Pollinates $50m stake in UK fintech