Thunes, a fintech company with offices in Singapore and London, has closed its Series C round of fundraising in order to build its business. By utilizing the expanding network of mobile wallets and other alternatives to bank accounts, Thunes has developed a payments platform for businesses to send money to one another abroad.
The business has raised $72 million, which it will use to expand its network of providers and attract additional users to its platform. With this most recent round, we can affirm that Thunes has a valuation of above $900 million.
Since its most recent significant fundraising round in 2021, the platform has experienced rapid expansion.
Thunes currently has 3 billion mobile wallet accounts (up from 720 million previously), in addition to another 4 billion bank accounts connected through its network of partners, such as M-Pesa in Kenya, WeChat throughout Asia, Uber, PayPal, MoneyGram, Remitly, and many more, who are allowing their customers to make and receive payments using Thunes’ rails.
Thunes presently accepts payments in 132 countries using 80 different currencies over 300 different payment methods, with collections taking place in 70 different marketplaces. And it has handled transactions worth more than $50 billion so far.
It’s somewhat of a moving target, and the Series C has been no exception. It has been in the works for a while; in June, a first closure of $60 million was announced.
Marshall Wace, a London-based hedge fund, is leading the larger round, which also includes Bessemer Venture Partners, 01Fintech, Visa, EDBI (the venture arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board), and Endeavor Catalyst (an Endeavor co-investment fund).
According to information from PitchBook, the startup is officially announcing its new, higher valuation for the first time today. Before this round, it had a valuation of little more than $794 million.
Businesses that conduct business worldwide will be familiar with the problem that Thunes is attempting to solve in the market.
With the growth of mobile phones and wallets, digitized payment rails, and a competitive market of providers seeking to enhance pricing, speed, and transparency, remittances—cross-border payments, often between individuals—have come a very long way in the past decade.
But when it comes to enterprises, most of the sector is still mired in a bygone era: SMBs and larger organizations frequently continue to engage with banks and struggle with issues like variable costs, fluctuating interest rates, and ambiguous timelines.
According to CEO Peter De Caluwe in an interview with TechCrunch, “when we started the business in 2016, it was because we saw an inefficiency in cross-border payments, specifically around how one business can a supplier or another business.” It was just not feasible or inexpensive to ask a bank to wire £100, he said.
“Cable fees, wire fees, concerns over who pays—the sender or the recipient—and the exchange rate are all present. And you have no idea when the money might show up. One day or seven days are both possible.
So, ultimately, that was the problem the company set out to solve. Mobile wallets are not the only channel that can be accessed through Thunes, but they are a key factor in the equation due to their popularity in some regions of the world for making and receiving payments.
This is especially true in emerging markets where traditional bank services are still difficult to access and expensive, which results in less use of them.
De Caluwe cited McKinsey statistics that indicate approximately 3.5 billion individual users or businesses are currently using mobile and digital wallets.
These users are using these “instead of banks,” he added, and it is predicted that this number will increase to between 6 billion and 7 billion in the coming years.
The name Thunes is humorous in a way, but also appropriate. The phrase is slang for money in French, and its use here illustrates how the startup is adopting a very contemporary strategy as part of a larger movement toward the consumerization of fintech by using a channel that was initially designed with consumers and individuals in mind to facilitate larger transactions for businesses.
On the other hand, the business is anything but casual: it has put in the effort to bring together a number of disparate players and create new channels for money to flow from one company to another.
These channels arguably increase market efficiency and most definitely increase competition and user choice.
In that sense, with this investment, Visa is a key strategic partner. Since October 2022, when Thunes was only linked to 1.5 billion digital wallets, the two had been cooperating.
Thunes has an API integration with Visa Direct so that Visa’s business clients (which are larger neobanks, money transfer companies, governments, and other financial institutions) can provide their own small business customers with the ability to send money to digital wallets in emerging markets throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Visa uses Thunes’ platform to let its customers transfer funds using Thunes’ “send-to-wallet” functionality, which covers 78 digital wallet providers.
In a statement, Ruben Salazar Genovez, global head of Visa Direct, noted that “digital wallets play a key role in providing underserved communities with greater economic empowerment and financial inclusion by penetrating previously unreached regions.
Visa is proud to participate in Thunes’ Series C investment round and we look forward to continuing our collaboration aimed at giving more customers around the world easy access to the financial system through digital wallets,” the company said in a statement.