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September 21, 2018updated 24 Sep 2018 11:04am

ING takes £5m stake in online finance broker Funding Options

ING's venture capital arm has injected £5m in equity into online finance broker Funding Options, giving the Dutch banking group a minority stake in the London-based fintech.

By Lorenzo Migliorato

ING’s venture capital arm has injected £5m in equity into online finance broker Funding Options, giving the Dutch banking group a minority stake in the London-based fintech.

In June, ING partnered with Funding Options, which brokers SME facilities including asset and invoice finance, to introduce the comparison platform to the Netherlands.

The bank’s ING Ventures unit has now become an equity investor in the fintech, alongside Isle of Man lending group GLI Finance and other venture capital firms. Funding Options’ lenders panel includes ING, HSBC, Bibby Financial Services and revolving credit provider Iwoca, among others.

The fintech was founded in 2012 by Conrad Ford, former UBS controller and chief operating officer of Barclays’ Clearlybusiness innovation unit. The ING investment – the first for the fintech in three years – put Funding Options’ total funds raised at £8.1m (€9m), according to start-up database Crunchbase. It is the single biggest fundraiser to date for the firm.

“Working with banks is a key part of our vision, because banks are the first port of call for most small firms seeking finance,” Ford said in a LinkedIn post. “With Funding Options, instead of giving these customers a ‘no’, banks can offer them an ‘alternative yes’.

“It’s been an incredible three years since we last raised investment in 2015. Our revenues have grown by more than 30 times, and we’ve done it sustainably,” he added, without giving a specific figure.

ING has been spearheading investment in fintechs by European high street banking groups. Lenders long occupied with post-crisis restructurings are now looking to leapfrog their digital origination capabilities, mostly by partnering with start-ups and scale-up.

Last month, Barclays took a minority equity stake in invoice finance and ABL provider MarketInvoice, with a look to originate £1bn in invoice finance business through the platform by next year.

On its part, Royal Bank of Scoltand’s NatWest has been operating the Capital Connections referral panel since 2016, signposting SMEs that cannot be serviced by NatWest to alternative financiers like MarketInvoice.

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