As well as an enviable legacy in financial services, Ireland has a thriving fintech start-up scene.
The term ‘fintech’ is a recent construct, combining the words financial and technology. But if you think about it, Ireland has been excelling in fintech and financial services for some time now, whether you consider longstanding homegrown companies such as Kerry-based Fexco and Monex or more recent successes such as Prepaid Financial Services, TransferMate, Fenergo and CurrencyFair.
A search for ‘fintech’ on the TechIreland data portal lists 168 companies across Ireland that describe themselves as being engaged in some form of fintech.
The success of Irish-led companies such as the Collison brothers’ San Francisco start-up Stripe, which is valued at more than $22bn and which recently acquired Dublin fintech TouchTech Payments, has focused international attention on the quality of fintech enterprises emerging from Ireland.
In recent months we reported on a new €20m venture capital fund aimed at Irish fintech and deep-tech start-ups being established in Dublin by Finch Capital.
To get a sense of what is happening around Ireland in terms of fintech, here is a sample – not an absolute list – of the quality of fintech start-ups emerging from Ireland.
Dublin-based blockchain company Aid:Tech’s platform enables aid, welfare, remittances, donations and healthcare to be digitised and delivered through blockchain technology in a completely transparent manner, helping governments and corporates to tackle some of the most entrenched issues in their fields. Founded in 2014 by Joseph Thompson and Niall Dennehy, Aid:Tech claims to be the first company in the world to deliver international aid to Syrian refugees using blockchain technology. Last year the company signed a €1m funding deal with investors including SGInnovate and BlockAsset Ventures.
Never a truer word spoken – courtesy of John W Thompson (chairman of Microsoft) pic.twitter.com/Oww2P0qllO
— Assure Hedge (@AssureHedge) May 26, 2019
Assure Hedge operates a web-based platform that provides FX (foreign exchange) options to assist SMEs and individuals to protect against losses incurred due to currency fluctuations. Assure Hedge was founded in 2016 by Barry McCarthy.
Big Red Cloud
SaaS accounts software player Big Red Cloud began as a pure-play accountancy software company, Big Red Book, before evolving to cloud technology in 2012 in a move that enabled it to transform its technology that helps small businesses, their accountants and bookkeepers to manage their accounts in the cloud. The company recently raised €2.5m in capital from alternative SME lender DunPort Capital in an agreement that allows for a further €1.5m to be extended if required. The company has more than 75,000 customers across the UK and Ireland.
Cerebreon is a Donegal-based tech firm that uses machine intelligence and algorithms to spot insolvency failures in advance and take corrective action. Founded by Gillian Doyle and Kenneth Doherty, Cerebreon wowed the judges at the NDRC’s summer Investor Day last year and picked up the top prize, including €30,000 in follow-on investment.
Circit.io is developing a secure platform for communicating and automating processes during a financial audit. Founded in 2015 by David Heath, Circit.io connects banks, accounting firms and their clients during the highly sensitive audit process. Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Deloitte are among customers using the platform.
Galway-based CorribPoint offers a cloud-based solution to help credit unions and smaller financial institutions meet anti-money laundering obligations. Founded in 2016 by John Rushe and Caitriona McGuckian, the company has received funding from the Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund and NDRC.
— CurrencyFair (@CurrencyFair) May 28, 2019
Money transfer player CurrencyFair was founded in 2009 and it surpassed the $1bn barrier in terms of money-matching services in 2016. Led by CEO Paul Byrne, the company last year revealed a major expansion into the Asian market as part of a €20m investment drive.
Gecko Governance has created a blockchain-enabled regtech platform for the asset management, banking and digital asset sectors. Gecko, a previous Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, is headed by CEO Shane Brett and backed by Cosimo Ventures. It has offices in Dundalk, New York and Sydney.
Founded in 2016, ID-Pal is a digital identity verification solution that enables businesses to seamlessly onboard their customers in seconds. An alumnus of Salesforce’s EMEA Accelerate programme, the start-up last year won the Industry Breakthrough award from Payments Industry at PayExpo in London.
Hello Asia ?
We're ecstatic to announce that we have acquired a new payments license in Singapore!
Exciting business opportunities are on the horizon ?
? https://t.co/W112OT07Jn#expansion #fintech #crossborder pic.twitter.com/vsCWgKIGgj
— TransferMate (@TransferMate) May 29, 2019
Kilkenny and Dublin company TransferMate enables firms to send and receive payments cheaper and faster. Founded in 2010, TransferMate is led by CEO Terry Clune and has broad regulatory approval in major markets. The company raised €51m within eight months last year, including investments from AIB (€30m) and ING (€21m). In 2017, the company revealed that it processed $10bn in transactions.
Trezeo, co-founded by Garrett Cassidy and Flavien Charlon, has developed a platform that provides financial stability for self-employed workers in the gig economy by turning unpredictable income streams into reliable and regular payments, with no interest or hidden fees involved. Last year the company became the first income-smoothing service to receive authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK’s financial regulator.
Umba, which was co-founded by former Munster rugby professional Barry O’Mahony and Tiernan Kennedy, facilitates micro-loans to emerging economies in Africa, to meet the needs of the growing mobile payments and debt market there. It has already secured about 170,000 customers across Africa. The company recently raised funding from ACT Venture Capital and Frontline Ventures as well as investment from Bloom Equity.
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