Newly Established Fintech Fund Luge Capital Making its First Investment
More good news for Montreal’s startup ecosystem today as fintech newcomers Flinks have raised $1.75 million in seed funding. The round was let by National Bank and Luge Capital, along with four other partners. While Flinks already has ties to National Bank, this deal marks the very first investment for Luge Capital, which launched in Montreal and Toronto last month.
This cash injection will be used primarily to complete and promote a new product called Flinks Score, an AI-powered risk assessment tool. Among other things, Flinks Score will allow financial institutions to calculate the probability of personal loans being repaid, based on the spending habits of the borrower. Those habits are tracked by an AI algorithm which monitors the transactions on that individual’s personal accounts.
Karim Gillani, General Partner at Luge, says they chose Flinks for their first investment both because of the potential of this new product and for other reasons. “The Flinks team has been incredible at executing their product plan and acquiring some of the top fintech companies as well. From a macro point of view, the global adoption of fintech services has really just exploded in the last few years. Flinks sits at the heart of this because they are servicing these fintech solutions providers that are gaining more adoption every day”. Gillani later added that Flinks Score’s ability to analyze an individual’s transactions also provides an opportunity for financial institutions to upsell their clients. “What’s also interesting about this new product is that it offers the ability to interpret the data not just to determine credit worthiness, but it’s also a way to offer a personalized set of financial products. If you can understand the behaviour of a particular individual and what their cash flows are like, you can start to offer them personalized services for investing, saving, education… in addition to offering them credit products, so the implications are far reaching”.
Some can be forgiven for not being familiar with Flinks. The company was founded just 18 months ago in Montreal by Frédérick Lavoie and Yves-Gabriel Leboeuf. Since that time, they have managed to corner the market in Canada on financial data aggregation and have built up an impressive portfolio of over 150 customers including TransferWise, Wealthsimple and ATB Financial. Their focus on end user control has helped many Canadian fintechs build and ship their own products. That’s because Flinks’ underlying technology allows a user to give an app or fintech product access to his or her own other accounts, without the consent of the financial institution they deal with. So, if an individual has a chequing account at National Bank, and a credit card at TD, they can give the National Bank app access to their TD credit card account, and pay bills seamlessly through the National Bank app. This innovation has been crucial to many Canadian fintech companies who have been underserved by other US-based providers, and financial institutions that are slow to adopt change. By using Flinks existing technology, Canadian fintechs can work with customers of any financial institution, not just FIs which they have partnered with.
The strategy right now is to go after financial institutions to convert them into users of Flinks Score, however Leboeuf points out that virtually any lender would be able to see a valuable return from such a product. This is a new market segment and there aren’t really any competitors in Canada, other than traditional credit agencies like Equifax and TransUnion, which are notoriously difficult to deal with. However, the opportunity is not limited to Canada. Many countries in western Europe are wide open and eager for these kinds of services in order to simplify what can be some fairly archaic processes and deliver financial services in faster, easier, safer and more cost-effective ways. As it happens, Flinks’ products are GDPR friendly. And yes, they’ve examine the US market as well according to Leboeuf, “we’re definitely going into the US at some point, but not right now. We think the product we’re building can easily go global”.
While Flinks had provided technology to National Bank already, and had their own relationships there, Gillani says Luge had been working on deal with Flinks for some time, with initial conversations beginning months ago. “When we met with YG and his executive team, there was a mutual desire for Luge to participate. In terms of bringing on the other investors, it was a really smooth process. We’ve got a great relationship with iNovia, Panache and InnoStart, so these are all investors who have know the Flinks business for a while. It was really and easy process for everyone to come together”.
However, when you’ve cornered not one but two fintech services in an entire country, entrepreneurs like Leboeuf can be a bit selective with their sources of financing. “I think the fintech focus and the proximity of these partners is a great achievement, and for us to be partners with this group of investors is something we wanted to accomplish in order for Flinks to go to the next level”.
Flinks has 34 employees at the moment, but will now be hiring 10 more, mostly developers… you can go ahead and check them out at Flinks.io.