French startup iBanFirst has raised a $23.8 million (€21 million) Series C round from Elaia and Bpifrance’s Large Venture fund. Previous investors include Serena, Breega and Xavier Niel — Serena and Breega also participated in today’s funding round. iBanFirst lets you pay suppliers and get paid by clients all around the world in dozens of currencies.
iBanFirst was in the process of raising its funding round before the coronavirus pandemic. The lead investor dropped the deal at the last minute. But Elaia stepped in to replace the previous lead investor and submitted a term sheet just a few weeks later.
According to a source, the company has been doing well, with close to $20 million in annual revenue; iBanFirst says its payment volume tripled between March 2019 and March 2020.
Just like TransferWise is helping people and freelancers move money around the world, iBanFirst is solving a similar issue but for small and medium companies. And it turns out that it creates a different set of challenges.
After creating an iBanFirst account, you can make cross-border payments in 30 currencies. The startup partners with local banking partners so that you pay much less than what you’d pay with your existing corporate bank account. You transfer money to a local account in your country, you exchange to another currency and you initiate a transfer from a local bank in your supplier’s country.
Everything is accessible through an API, which lets you initiate a payment in your usual tools. For instance, you could pay your suppliers from your transportation management system (TMS) or enterprise resource planning system (ERP). You also can aggregate your existing bank account on iBanFirst so that you can view all your accounts in the same dashboard.
Indeed, iBanFirst tries to be as transparent as possible when it comes to fees. You can see the exchange rate in real time. This way, your supplier gets paid the exact amount on the invoice.
But iBanFirst doesn’t stop at initiating payments from your main currency. You can open balances and hold money in multiple currencies in your account. Sending money from one iBanFirst account to another is instantaneous. It opens up a ton of possibilities as you can manage your exposure to foreign currencies, hedge risk and even lock forward contracts to get a predictable exchange rate in the future.
As for getting paid, iBanFirst gives you your own banking information in 30 currencies. You can share a Turkish IBAN, an American account number or Chinese banking details with your company’s name on them. Your client can then initiate a local bank transfer to your iBanFirst account to pay you.
The company now has 180 employees and 4,000 customers across Europe. In total, the startup has raised $52.2 million (€46 million).