ING’s Katana Becomes a Standalone Fintech

ING’s Katana Becomes a Standalone Fintech

Dutch financial services corporation ING announced today it is spinning off Katana into its own entity called Katana Labs.

As a part of its move to independence, Katana has closed $3.9 million in funding, half of which ING contributed “to enable further growth and to pave the way for an independent future for Katana.”

Katana began as one of 25 of ING’s innovation initiatives. The project follows in the footsteps of Yolt and Cobase, former ING innovation initiatives that scaled up outside of ING’s labs.

“Supported by ING Labs, we developed, tested and validated the technology. Now it’s time to move to the next phase as an independent fintech,” said Santiago Braje, CEO of Katana. “We are very excited about the opportunities we see in developing our platform and expanding our client base.”

ING launched Katana to help traders leverage predictive analytics to determine bond pricing based on historic and real time data. In 2018, ING enhanced the tool with the launch of Katana Lens, a tool for bond market investors that identifies the most promising trades based on historical data. Last year, Global Finance Magazine highlighted Katana as Innovator 2019.

“In the past few years, Katana has managed to grow from an internal innovation project to a serious value proposition for bond investors. We attracted major clients who see the added value of this super smart AI-tool. I’m proud that with our support Katana grew out to a fully-grown fintech that is ready for an independent future,” said Annerie Vreugdenhil, head of Innovation at ING Wholesale Banking.

Katana Labs has incorporated in the U.K. and is now headquartered in London.

Nebula Merges with Open Lending, Forming a New Publicly Traded Company

Nebula Merges with Open Lending, Forming a New Publicly Traded Company

Lending solutions provider Open Lending has agreed to merge with Nebula Acquisition Corporation, an acquisition company sponsored by True Wind Capital.

The merger will take place via an acquisition in which, once finalized, Nebula will purchase Open Lending and form a new Delaware holding company called Open Lending Corporation. The new entity will be publicly-traded on NASDAQ with an estimated value of $1.3 billion.

Members of Open Lending’s executive team– John Flynn, cofounder, president, and CEO; and Ross Jessup, cofounder, CFO, and COO– will lead the new company. Flynn commented that there is “significant runway” for new growth, considering Open Lending’s existing banking relationships and “untapped opportunities” with new partnerships.

Open Lending was founded in 2000 and offers automated lending solutions to banks, specializing in automotive lending. Ultimately, Open Lending helps banks offer near-prime borrowers more attractive borrowing rates without changing the risk profile for the bank. In 2019, Open Lending facilitated more than $1.7 billion in automotive loans for 275+ financial institutions.

“Open Lending’s ability to demonstrate consistent organic growth and high levels of profitability represents an exciting investment opportunity within the risk-based analytics ecosystem,” said Adam Clammer, Nebula co-CEO and founding partner of True Wind. “John and his team have developed a highly-scalable technology platform that helps hard working consumers get into a new or used car at the best rate possible. We look forward to partnering with Open Lending’s management team and Bregal at this exciting inflection point in the company’s growth.”

B-North Lands $2.6 Million Ahead of Launch

B-North Lands $2.6 Million Ahead of Launch

E.U.-based alternative lending company B-North announced this week it landed $2.6 million (£2 million) in new funding. The investment comes as part of crowdfunding efforts via Crowdcube and Growthfunders.

Combined with the $5.5 million (£4.2 million) the company has already raised, today’s round brings B-North’s total funding to just over $8 million, according to FSTech. The company will use the new capital to increase its workforce and boost its infrastructure.

While B-North has yet to launch, the company plans to do so in “mid-2020.” Taking a step in that direction, last month B-North partnered with Newcastle Strategic Solutions, which will provide a deposit-taking solution for the new lender.

While there are multiple alternative lending companies in the fintech sector, B-North aims to differentiate itself by lending up to 10x faster than incumbent players, placing core banking functions closer to the customer, and tapping its commercial finance broker channels for distribution. Much of this will be accomplished through “lending pods,” as the company calls them, which will launch across Manchester in the second half of this year.

B-North was founded in 2015. Jonathan Thompson is co-founder and CEO.

Mastercard Snaps Up RiskRecon

Mastercard Snaps Up RiskRecon

Mastercard, the world’s second-largest payment processor, has acquired AI and data analytics solutions company RiskRecon. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The payments giant anticipates the purchase will help its clients defend against cyber threats and data breaches. Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber and intelligence for Mastercard, said that RiskRecon will boost Mastercard’s cyber security solutions. “Through a powerful combination of AI and data-driven advanced technology, RiskRecon offers an exciting opportunity to complement our existing strategy and technology to secure the cyber space,” Bhalla added.

Logistically, RiskRecon will remain in tact. While the Utah-based company is now dedicated to supporting Mastercard solutions, RiskRecon will continue to help other industries such as healthcare and manufacturing protect consumer and payment data, as well as intellectual property.

RiskRecon was founded in 2015 by Eric Blatte and Kelly White, who now serves as the company’s CEO. “By becoming part of their team, we have an opportunity to scale our solution and help companies in new industries and geographies take steps to better manage their cybersecurity risk,” White said.

Prior to today’s acquisition, RiskRecon had raised $40 million in three rounds of funding.