That Was the Year That Was

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We are as glad to see 2020 in the rear-view mirror as you are. It was a long and trying year. And yet, in spite of the uncertainty and fear, lockdowns and upped antes, the FinTech Sandbox community persevered. We are amazed by — and frankly proud of — what members of the FinTech Sandbox community accomplished in this Annus Horribilis.

Fundraising success

Funding generally remained available through-out the year. Entrepreneurs and investors both adjusted to the need for virtual pitches. The availability of venture financing for fintech innovation was one of the year’s bright spots, which we might not have predicted in March. Though, as others have noted, the availability of funding for female-founded startups globally took an unwelcome step back.

These are just a few of the funding events announced by our residents and alumni during 2020:

· MoCaFi, a digital banking platform that targets the more than 50 million unbanked and underbanked people in the U.S., raised an additional $3.5 million in capital to advance efforts to address the wealth gap.

· London-based Cognism, which offers an AI-powered, globally compliant prospecting solution, raised $12 million for European expansion.

· Amenity Analytics, which uses natural language processing to help institutional investors, insurance companies, and others rapidly comprehend unstructured text, closed on $18 million.

· Toronto’s Cinchy raised a $10 million (CAD) Series A round to fund a COVID-related push to improve the handling of data.

· Layr, an insurtech startup using machine learning to help small businesses customize commercial insurance bundles, announced a $5 million seed.

· Senso raises $3 million to help financial institutions strengthen client relationships.

· Boston-based challenger bank Envel raised a $2.7M seed round it is using to launch an AI-powered autonomous bank account.

· In New York, Petal raised and additional $55 million to use to disrupt the world of credit cards.

· Bloom Credit raises $13 million to connect businesses with credit bureaus via APIs.

· Clarity AI, with offices in New York City and Madrid, landed $15 million to help investors manage the societal impact of their investment portfolios.

Full speed ahead

Fintech startups face unique challenges that dedicated accelerator programs can help them overcome. This year, accelerator programs went virtual, and these veterans of our program were selected to take part in two highly-regarded programs:

· MoCaFi joined Mastercard Start Path.

· Beekin, an asset management platform for commercial real estate investors, and Rialto, which democratizes and expands private markets for both issuers and investors, were both selected for the 2021 cohort of MassChallenge FinTech.


Both established firms and fintech startups themselves were on the acquisition trail.

· AlphaHat, a mobile geolocation intelligence provider, was acquired by Earnest Research.

· MindBridge Analytics, which leverages AI to detect errors in financial data, acquired Brevis as a means of expanding into the UK and Europe.

· Truvalue Labs, a specialist AI-driven environmental, social, and governance data, was acquired by FactSet, one of our data partners.

· Berlin-based Scorable merged with Bondit to accelerate the digital transformation of fixed-income investing.

· Cognism enhances its B2B data offering by acquiring Ricochet.

· Data partners S&P Global and IHS Markit announced a merger.

· In November, Quantopian was acquired by Robinhood.

Comings and goings

In September, we welcomed Kelly Fryer as our new Executive Director and Mike McCluskey as our Head of Partnerships. Jean Donnelly ended her five-year run as Executive Director but stays with us as an Advisory Board member, so we continue to benefit from her good nature, wisdom, insight, and experience.

EPFR, a subsidiary of Informa plc and worldwide industry leader in providing fund flows and allocation data to financial institutions, became our latest data partner.

MassMutual signed on as a sponsor of FinTech Sandbox and Boston FinTech Week (on which more exciting news to come!) and Mike Fanning, who heads MassMutual ‘s U.S. business, joined our Advisory Board.

John Fawcett, the founder of Quantopian, joined Robinhood. Fawce was one of several fintech entrepreneurs and investors in Boston who recognized that the high cost and/or inaccessibility of data posed a challenge that was holding back innovation. He helped make FinTech Sandbox a reality and we are forever grateful for his support.

Looking forward

We are honestly very excited about 2021. We were so pleased by the reaction to last September’s FinTech Talks that we’ll be bringing the concept back in March. And, we are really happy to report that Boston FinTech Week will be back again in September!

Make sure you don’t miss updates on these events and other news of importance to our community by following us here, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and by joining our mailing list. We look forward to connecting in 2021!

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