Neo-banking start-up Open raises Rs 210 cr from Tiger Global, others

Fintech firm Open, which offers a business banking service for small and medium enterprises and start-ups, has raised Rs 210 crore in a series B funding round led by Tiger Global Management. The financing round saw participation from Tanglin Venture Partners Advisors as well as existing investors 3one4 Capital, Speedinvest and BetterCapital AngelList Syndicate.

Open plans to use the funding to scale up the team, launch more products and value-added services and expand its reach to 1 million SMEs in the next one year. Open said it is introducing two new products to enhance its business banking proposition; the Open+ card, a business credit card with a 30-day interest-free credit line, for venture-backed start-ups and Layer, a unique programmable bank account for developers.

“The key is to match the ever-increasing customer demand for seamless financial management. For this, we have to scale up the technology and our team,” said Anish Achuthan, chief executive of Open. “This funding will help us accelerate our target of simplifying business banking for more than 1 million businesses at a greater pace,” said Achuthan.

Founded in 2017  by serial entrepreneurs Anish Achuthan, Mabel Chacko and Ajeesh Achuthan along with ex-TaxiforSure CFO Deena Jacob, Open said it is solving business banking challenges faced by SMEs and start-ups. Open said it offers a business account in partnership with banks which helps businesses automate and run their finances effectively. This business account has tools that help businesses send and receive payments combined with the automated bookkeeping tool to integrate banking into their business workflows. The Open platform today has grown to over 1 lakh SMEs and was processing over Rs  35,000 crore in transaction. The company said its platform also adds over 20000 SMEs every month, making it the fastest growing SME focused neo-banking service globally.

Open is also enhancing its API (application programming interface) banking suite with the introduction of Layer - a programmable bank account that will enable developers to control money programmatically. It would also enable them to build their own features on top of the bank account and securely integrate with other services.

Open is based on the concept of a neobank, a type of direct bank that is 100 per cent digital and reaches customers on mobile apps and personal computer platforms. Neobanks which do not operate traditional physical branch networks may adopt technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, giving them an edge over the legacy systems used by the traditional banking players.

Globally, the big names in neo-banking include UK-based Tide, Atom Bank, Monzo, Revolut and Starling Bank. The other players include  US-based Azlo; Australia-based Tyro Payments and Volt Bank; Germany-based N26 and Netherlands-based bunq.

Over the past five years, fintech has emerged as the most lucrative sector and the venture capitalists are investing billions in the sector to make profits. The digital banking market is set to grow from $7000 billion in 2017 to around  $9000 billion by 2024, according to Global Market Insights, Inc. report. It said the increasing venture capital investment in fintech sector is propelling the digital banking industry. 

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