Recent global turbulence has triggered an uncertain market, and some businesses have suffered as a result.
But despite the darkness, many Canadian fintechs are able to find some light.
Let’s acknowledge some of the growing financial technology firms in Canada who have secured capital in 2023.
Bitcoin infrastructure firm Blockstream announced in January US$125 million in funding.
United Kingdom’s Kingsway Capital led the note, with participation from Fulgur Ventures in the US, which invests in startups focused on Bitcoin and the Lightning Network.
Building on revenue growth for 2022, Blockstream will use the new capital to “expand mining facilities in order to meet the strong demand for its institutional hosting services.”
Hosting has remained a resilient market segment, according to the company, as compared with “prop” miners (and their lenders), who have been more directly exposed to bitcoin price volatility and compressed margins.
Blockstream remains a market leader in “layer-2” technologies like Core Lightning and Liquid. The Liquid Network is a Bitcoin layer-2 network focused on non-custodial trading, secure smart-contracts, and the issuance of digital securities, stablecoins, and other financial products.
With 500 Megawatts in its development pipeline, Blockstream is one of the world’s largest bitcoin mining operators.
The company was founded in 2014 and today has “offices and team members distributed around the world.”
PolicyMe was founded in 2018 by Andrew Ostro and Laura and Jeff McKay, who each experienced firsthand the inefficiencies that exist across traditional life insurance valuation chains while working as professionals in the insurance and tech industries.
From 2020 through last year, the company tripled its headcount to more than 50 employees. Not only have they avoided the layoff bug many tech firms have caught recently, but PolicyMe is actively growing—the startup says it is looking to fill several positions in the first quarter alone.
According to McKay, PolicyMe is “always in search of motivated talent to join our teams.” The startup promises a competitive salary, annual health spend account, and four weeks of vacation per year on top of unlimited sick days.
And of course, as a digital-forward company, the company offers employees the option of remote work or a physical desk at their cozy Toronto office.
From their hub in Toronto, the PolicyMe cofounders manage a team that is “dispersed across Canada.” However, the startup still aims to cultivate company culture.
“The systems and rituals that we’ve built to support our remote culture allow us to still come together and stay united under one goal,” McKay affirmed.
A Quebec-based startup that provides insurance professionals with a conversational assistant powered by artificial intelligence announced this month the closing of an early-stage financing round.
Koïos Intelligence secured $6.5 million in a round involving Propulia Capital, Canada Economic Development, Export Development Canada, Caisse Desjardins des Technologies, and other private investors.
Mohamed Hanini, chief executive of Koïos Intelligence, says the funding will empower his startup to expand into new markets and advance the technology behind its virtual assistant.
In 2022, the majority of insurance sales were still done over the phone or in-person and required an average of over an hour. However, according to a survey conducted by Koïos Intelligence, consumers expect much shorter wait times for insurance and often prefer digital shopping experiences.
Koïos’ Olivo conversational assistant is AI-powered and acts as a virtual intermediary between the insurance broker and the consumer, allowing the consumer to shop for different coverage options, and even complete insurance purchases. Olivo is interconnected with insurance industry systems such as Applied and the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations, which allow Koïos Intelligence to be part of the insurance value chain.
This connectivity streamlines the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase processes for all types of insurance products through data automation, according to the company.
Koïos was founded in Montreal in 2017 to empower the financial industry with AI—a popular thread woven among many modern Canadian fintechs.
In April, Yield Exchange raised a $700,000 pre-seed round from investors including Tiny Capital, Gustavson Capital, Maven Capital Partners, and The Firehood.
Founded in 2019 by three veterans of the traditional banking industry, the platform enables entities of all kinds—from municipalities and universities to non-profit organizations and strata corporations—to find, compare, and negotiate investment rates for Guaranteed Investment Certificates through an online marketplace.
Traditionally, entities looking to invest in wholesale GICs have had to perform due diligence manually, calling financial institutions for the best rates and terms.
By streamlining the process through a digitized bidding system, Yield Exchange is making it easier for these entities to access diverse investment options that can help them grow their funds.
Yield Exchange was a hit at last year’s SAAS NORTH conference where it was selected from a group of top 10 finalists for The Firehood, winning $100,000, and was crowned winner of the AWS PitchFest, picking up $10,000 from Amazon Web Services.
The fintech startup also plans to expand its current offering of wholesale GICs to include retail GICs, overnight rates and bonds.
Goose Insurance announced in February the closing of a $4 million Series A funding round led by Axis Insurance Managers, with participation from Impression Ventures, Real Ventures, and Manchester Story.
The Vancouver-based insurtech startup is using the funding to accelerate the adoption of its consumer-focused insurance super app in Canada and the U.S. through education and awareness initiatives.
Goose members can purchase over 19 different insurance policies across 30 states in the U.S. and 8 provinces in Canada including travel, renters, pet, critical illness, and up to 1 million of term life insurance, all within minutes from the Goose super app.
Goose has expanded its product offerings by working closely with carriers like AIG, IMG, iA Financial Group, TeachersLife, and American Amicable.
“We’re on a mission to make insurance products instantly accessible to the 200 million underserved consumers through our self-serve insurance super app,” states Dejan Mirkovic, Goose’s President and CEO. “Goose offers some of the most affordable life, health, and travel insurance policies in North America.”
“There is a big void in the market today for a digital and app-first insurance brand that gives consumers the ability to discover and buy affordable insurance products 24/7 in minutes completely self-serve,” noted Hamzah Nassif, Real Ventures’ Partner.