Pockit Loqbox promises to help the UK’s ‘unbanked’ improve their credit score

Building up your credit history or improving your credit score often presents somewhat of a catch-22 situation. You’ll need to take out some form of credit to do so, such as a loan or credit card, but if your score is too low or your history too chequered, you’ll typically be offered a very bad deal, or no credit at all. In financial services, the cash-poor are always asked to pay the most. Enter: Pockit, the mobile banking app that provides current account functionality for the U.K.’s “underbanked”. The company has teamed up with financial inclusion fintech Nooli to launch ‘Pockit Loqbox,’ a potentially clever way for people with a poor credit rating to improve their score without taking further credit. The new credit builder product enables Pockit customers to build their credit history through their Pockit current account by simply setting aside a fixed recurring contribution
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SearchInk rebrands as omni:us, aims its hand-writing reading AI at insurance industry

Back in 2016 a startup called SearchInk, launched out of Berlin with the aim of combining machine learning with handwriting recognition. The upshot would be the ability to semantically label handwritten documents. Pretty nifty. It went on to raise €4.2 million in seed funding, but after developing this AI to read hard-written documents, it went in search of a market and business model. Not an easy thing to do. After all, what industry needs hand-written documents read at scale, when so many documents today are born digital in the first place? It turns out there was one after-all: the insurance industry. In that sector, claims forms, emails and invoices are currently processed manually. But CEO and co-founder Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss realised that her company’s technology could significantly reduce the time and cost spent on administrative tasks, as well as the risk of human error. So today, SearchInk rebrands as omni:us
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VentureFriends, the Athens-based VC, outs new €45M fund

VentureFriends, the Athens-based VC that has backed the likes of Homie and Weengs, is announcing its new fund, with a first closing of €45 million. ‘VentureFriends II’ sees the VC firm pick up where its original €20 million fund left off, with a remit to do seed investments in Greek startups and beyond that have global ambitions. Specifically, the VC fund, which counts LPs as the European Investment Fund, the Greek ESIF FoF, Equifund and several individuals and family offices, is on the look out for seed-stage tech startups in its sweet spot of e-marketplaces, e-commerce, and SaaS. I’m told it plans to write a company’s first cheque of up to €1 million. There’s also the option to add another €5 million to the fund, with a final closing target of €50 million, although this may not come to fruition. Notably, VentureFriends’ second fund has already disclosed
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EdTech is having a renaissance, powered by the emerging world

So-called ‘EdTech’ has seen many false dawns over the years. After being lauded as the teaching platforms of the future, most MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course platforms) have not quite lived up to the superlatives made for them, and the sector has had trouble coming up with more innovative ideas for a while. But that appears to be changing if a new wave of startups is any indication. In Dubai this weekend I was invited to judge a number of education startups which are really trying to move the need on EdTech, and in particular on a sector with almost unlimited potential. That is, education platforms aimed at the emerging world, where the hunger for scalable education is almost incalculable. Consider this: Ethopia, now a far more stable country that it once was, contains more people under 25 than almost anywhere else, and it has a population of over 100
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Detectify raises €5M for its crowdsourced website vulnerability scanner

Sweden-based Detectify, which offers a website vulnerability scanner that is in part powered by the crowd, has raised €5 million in new funding. The round was led by New York-based venture capital and private equity firm, Insight Venture Partners. Existing investors, Paua Ventures and Inventure, also participated. Founded in late 2013 by a self-described group of “white-hat hackers” from Sweden, the now 20-person strong company offers a website security tool that uses automation to scan websites for vulnerabilities to help customers (including developers) stay on top of security. The more unique part of the service, however, is that it is in part maintained — or, rather, kept up to date — via the crowd in the form of Detectify’s ethical hacker network. This sees top-ranked security researchers submit vulnerabilities that are then built into the Detectify scanner and used in customers’ security tests. The really clever part is that
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Drover picks up £5.5M funding for its car subscription marketplace

Drover, a London-based startup that lets you take out a “car subscription” as an alternative to car ownership, has picked up £5.5 million in seed funding. The round was led by VC firms Cherry Ventures, Partech and BP Ventures (the venture arm of BP), and adds to an earlier £2 million ‘pre-seed’ investment from Version One, and Forward Partners. Founded by Felix Leuschner (CEO) and Matt Varughese (CTO) in late 2015 and subsequently launched the following January, Drover has built what it describes as a Mobility-as-a-Service platform, giving you access to a car wrapped up in a single monthly subscription. This includes the vehicle itself, insurance, road tax, maintenance and breakdown cover. In addition, users can swap, upgrade or downgrade their car monthly or just cancel altogether, without any long-term commitment or steep upfront payments, says the startup. Of course, you might think that sounds just like existing
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Experian acquires UK’s ClearScore and its financial product matching engine for $385M

While credit-scoring behemoth Equifax continues to work through the fallout from its massive security breach, one of its big competitors is snapping up a startup in the UK to diversify its business. Experian today announced that it is acquiring ClearScore, which has built a platform that — like Experian — offers you a credit score, which it then uses it to suggest financial products like credit cards that fit the bill, so to speak. Experian is acquiring ClearScore for £275 million ($385 million), plus an unspecified earnout based on future performance. The deal is expected to close later this year. Considering that ClearScore, which has around 6 million users, had only disclosed around $15.6 million in funding, this appears to be a significant return for its investors, which included Blenheim Chalcott, Brightbridge Ventures, Lead Edge Capital, and QED, according to PitchBook.

The deal is emblematic of a trend

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