London-based PassFort, a SaaS provider that helps business meet compliance requirements such as KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) reporting, has closed a $16.2 million Series A led by U.S. growth equity fund Level Equity.
The 2015-founded startup's existing investors OpenOcean, Episode 1 and Entrepreneur First also participated in the round. The Series A is a mix of equity and debt, with $4.89 million worth of venture debt being provided by Shard Credit Partners.
PassFort tells TechCrunch it now has 54 customers in total, saying the majority are in the digital payments space. It's also selling its SaaS to customers in foreign exchange, banking and (ofc) crypto. It also touts some "major" customer wins preceding this raise -- name-checking the likes of Curve and WorldRemit.
The new funding will be put toward1 stepping up its growth globally -- with PassFort noting it's hired a new C-suite for its growth team to lead the planned global push.
It's also hiring more staff in business development and marketing, and plans to significantly bump spending across marketing, sales and customer support roles as it gears up to scale up.
"On the product side we are developing the solution to meet the demands of the changing digital economy and the threats it faces," says CEO and co-founder Donald Gillies. "This means investing heavily into our new compliance policy cloud, system-to-system integrations with market-leading CRM and transaction monitoring systems as well as building a data team capable of deriving valuable real-time insights across our customer network."
PassFort says its revenues grew ~2.5x over the past 12 months.
Gillies credits COVID-19 with really hitting the digital "accelerator" and driving adoption for compliance tools, as fintechs and regulated businesses look to streamline their approach to customer on-boarding and risk monitoring.
Alongside this accelerated digital transformation, he also points to a rise in cyber crime and increasingly sophisticated financial crime driving demand for compliance tools, and a "huge" rise in the number of regulations announced since COVID-19, noting: "Estimates from those who track regulatory changes stated that by August 2020, more than 1,330 COVID-19 related regulatory announcements had been made globally by regulators."
As well as serving up an "always-on picture of risk", as PassFort's marketing puts it, the platform offers a single place to access and manage customer profiles, while also centralizing records for audit purposes.
PassFort's SaaS also tracks efficiency -- supporting customers to see where holdups in the onboarding process might be, to help with customer experience as well as the wider support it offers to compliance teams.
The startup says its integration model is such that it can "ingest data sets from any provider and interoperate with any system", so -- for example -- it has pre-built connectors to more than 25 data providers at this stage.
It also offers a single API to integrate with a customer's existing back-office system.
Another feature of the SaaS it flags is a focus on "low to no-code" -- to increase accessibility and help customers with high complexity in their compliance needs (such as multiple customer types, multiple product lines and multi-jurisdictions). This includes a smart policy builder with a "drag and drop" interface to help customers configure complex workflows.
On the competitive side, PassFort names Dublin-based Fenergo as its closest competitor but says it's targeting a broader market -- likening its own product to "Salesforce for compliance teams" and saying its goal is to get the SaaS into the hands of "every financial crime and compliance team in the world".
Commenting in a statement, Charles Chen, partner at Level Equity -- who's now joining PassFort’s board of directors -- added: “Over the last few years, financial institutions and organisations have experienced exponential growth in business volumes and data, which has only increased the complexity in staying compliant with ever-evolving regulatory laws. In parallel, we’ve experienced an unprecedented rise in sophisticated financial crime activity as channels into financial systems have been digitized.
"This has underscored the importance of compliance matters such as AML/KYC, yet companies often have to weigh the trade-offs between speed, compliance and automation. PassFort has solved this challenge by providing a next-generation RegTech software solution that enables customers to offer a seamless customer onboarding experience, maintain best-in-class monitoring capabilities, and balance automation vs. human touch via its intelligent orchestration engine. We are thrilled to partner with the industry thought leader in this space and look forward to supporting the company’s future growth initiatives.”