Online asset finance specialist MarketInvoice has raised £56m in equity and debt finance from Barclays and Santander in its latest series-B funding round.
Barclays, which already has a stake and technology partnership with MarketInvoice, led the fund-raising exercise along with Santander’s InnoVentures fintech fund. European venture fund Northzone, another existing investor, put up more cash in return for equity and technology specialist Viola Credit will make a £30 debt facility available to help MarketInvoice scale up its business loans offering alongside its main invoice finance services.
MarketInvoice co-founder and CEO Anil Stocker said the additional funds would be invested in risk automation technology and data models, beefing up the business loans solution and taking on new people and partners to help the company grow.
He continued: “By collaborating with bank partners, we will be reaching many thousands of companies here in the UK and abroad to provide them with their business finance needs.”
“The quality of investors we are bringing in through this funding round is a real testament to the whole team at MarketInvoice and the value we are building.”
The Barclays partnership dates back to last August when it became the first UK high street bank to partner with MarketInvoice. The attraction is obvious; where the plucky fintech has taken seven years to build up a customer base of 10,000, the relationship with Barclays opens the door to 100 times as many prospects.
The long-term objective is to put end-to-end integration in place between MarketInvoice and the bank’s small business customers. While the programmers work towards that goal, the two partners this week began the national rollout of a referral network among Barclays’ relationship managers, who will activate the online finance application process for suitable business customers.
When pressed on the size of the equity stake it had handed over, MarketInvoice said that all of the investors had agreed not to disclose the figure. But in an interview with the FinancialTimes podcast, Stocker proclaimed the company’s independence, explaining that it was a “holistic” open platform that linked to banks, credit insurers and accounting software like Xero.
Nevertheless, the spectre of FreeAgent hands over this deal. What started as a software partnership with NatWest/RBS in that case expanded into a minority stake and a full acquisition in March 2018. FreeAgent evolved into a fintech laboratory for the bank and as the potential value of the combined offering climbed, NatWest/RBS decided to bring it in-house.
MarketInvoice is investing some of the cash raised into risk automation tools – precisely the sort of technology that would be invaluable to a big bank lender. MarketInvoice is determined to pursue an independent path, but will have to put up with these questions the more deeply it gets drawn into Barclays’ orbit.