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Singapore-based fintech platform Xalts will today announce the acquisition of Contour Network, a digital network until now owned by a consortium of eight global banks. The deal offers Xalts, a start-up launched 18 months ago to help banks digitise their interactions with clients, new potential to accelerate its growth.

“This will offer financial institutions and clients the opportunity to tap into a growing ecosystem of providers,” explains Ashutosh Goel, CEO of Xalts. “Our vision is to expand the scope of Contour’s network, which is already trusted by banks and corporates, and build it into a rail that enables businesses to access digital solutions.”

Founded in 2022 by Goel and Supreet Kaur, formerly senior executives at HSBC and Meta respectively, Xalts has offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, India, the UAE and UK, and now employs a team of more than 50. Until now, the business’s focus has been on building out a digital platform that enables banks to digitise their processes and build links to individual clients. A bank offering a commercial loan, for example, can use the platform to digitise each stage of the transaction – from know-your-customer checks to distribution of funds – and to connect to clients taking out credit.

That business model has seen Xalts pick up clients quickly – including some of the world’s biggest banks. The platform offers financial institutions a means with which to replace paper-based processes with digital alternatives much more quickly and cheaply than commissioning individual pieces of software for each type of transaction. Customers pay Xalts according to the amount of business they subsequently transact through the processes and links developed on the platform.

The acquisition of Contour should enable Xalts to build out this model much more quickly, Goel believes. Contour already works with more than 22 banks and 100 businesses globally, who use the network to connect to one another. Xalts will be able to offer its digital processes platform to all of these players, and to new joiners as the ecosystem grows.

“Xalt has done a great of enabling point-to-point connections, but this transaction will create a platform where multiple providers are plugged in to each other,” Goel says. “We want to create a Plaid for trade,” he adds, pointing to the success of the Californian company that has built a data transfer network for fintech and digital finance providers.

Carl Wenger, the current CEO of Contour, is expected to take a senior leadership role at Xalts. “I am really proud of what Contour has been able to accomplish in such a short time,” he says. “The vision that Xalts has for Contour’s future turbocharges its strengths and addresses key client needs.”

Trade and supply chain finance will be a particular focus for the business, given the complex and bureaucratic nature of such transactions. Banks supporting businesses as they expand and grow sales often rely on instruments such as letters of credit and may need to work with multiple partners, from customs houses to logistics providers. Large chunks of this work have not previously been digitised. Indeed, research from QED Investors suggests the digitisation of global trade finance currently covers less than 1% of the total market.

Xalts’ acquisition of Contour is for an undisclosed sum. The business raised $6 million of finance on its launch in 2022 from investors including Accel and Citi Ventures, both of which are supporting today’s deal.

“We invested in Contour in 2020 and led the seed round for Xalts in 2022,” says Everett Leonidas a director of Citi Ventures. “The combination of these two companies into one firm with an expanded vision and a great leadership team will accelerate innovation in global trade finance.”

Abhinav Chaturvedi, a partner at Accel, adds: “Accel has backed innovative companies globally in this space – Xalts has demonstrated that it has the right vision and a team that can execute at a global scale very quickly.”

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