European VC Creandum takes lead in significantly oversubscribed fundraise.
The extent to which the online lending process can be automated is hotly debated in fintech. Perhaps the loudest proponent of full-automation has just scored a significant fundraise.
Launched earlier this year, Billie is an invoice finance disruptor which claims to be able to move customers from registration to full approval in less than seven minutes, without any human interaction.
The company launched with €3.5m in seed funding – one of the largest seed rounds in the history of European fintech. It is run by co-founders Matthias Knecht and Christian Grobe (pictured), who also founded Zencap, the European peer-to-peer lender that was bought by Funding Circle in 2015 as part of its expansion into Continental Europe.
Now, less than 12 months after its seed round, Billie has secured another €10m in a series A fundraise led by European venture capital firm Creandum, which is also an investor in fintechs Tide, iZettle and Klarna. The oversubscribed round was joined by Billie’s existing investors Speedinvest and Global Founders Capital.
The startup has also secured a refinancing facility from a major German bank, adding €65m to its annual funding capacity. German factoring firm TARGO is another of its primary providers of debt capital. At present, Billie funds deals via its balance sheet, as opposed to through an online marketplace. However, speaking to AltFi, Knecht said that an online marketplace could be a route for the future.
"At the beginning, to prove that processes are working smoothly, we wanted to use our own balance sheet to produce a track record for our investors," he said.
With the new funding secured, Knecht sees Billie as the fastest growing working capital provider in Continental Europe. He believes lending volumes stand roughly 4x higher than those seen by UK-based MarketInvoice (which he uses as a benchmark) at an equivalent point in its lifecycle.
Knecht is eyeing the launch of new working capital products next year, which, true to form, will be heavily reliant on technology. Such a move would echo MarketInvoice’s expansion into business loans, which was announced in November.
In addition to the new funding, Billie has quietly formed a referrals partnership with Postbank (part of Deutsche Bank). Postbank is one of Germany's biggest SME lenders, but its factoring service is focused largely on mid-to-large cap companies. Grobe told AltFi that Postbank will now begin "referring smaller clients directly" to the Billie platform.
AltFi is returning to Amsterdam for its second annual Summit in the city. The inaugural event last year was a roaring success, with key figures from across Continental Europe's alternative finance and digital banking sectors highlighted. These included Jeroen Broekema, managing director of Funding Circle Netherlands, and Mieke van Engelen, head of innovative partnerships at ABN AMRO's standalone lending platform, New10.