Dublin-based Money messaging app Plynk has raised €25 million (£21.7 million) from a Swiss investment trust, in what it claims is the biggest ever “Series A” investment for an Irish startup.
Plynk says in a release that it is building an app which links to people’s Facebook accounts and then lets them send money to friends through messages with no fees. It was founded in 2015 by former Facebook manager Charles Dowd and former Wonga engineer Clive Foley. (You can read more about Wonga’s influence over fintech here.)
Dowd says in a release: “With Plynk, users send money to a name, not an account number. This turns a normally formal and uncomfortable task into a transparent, instant, social interaction. This is the change we are looking to make.”
The big “Series A” investment — the first round of institutional investment, rather than early stage funding to build a prototype — is unusual for such a young company. Plynk is currently only available in Ireland and its app launched in January of this year. It has just 6,000 users and only 8 employees.
The business first raised money in October of last year, when it raised just €750,000. Clearly, this investment is a big step up.
Dowd, Plynk’s CEO, says in a release announcing the funding: “Today marks a significant milestone for Plynk. From the beginning, it has been our aim to remove the complexities and awkwardness of person-to-person payments. This funding brings us closer to fulfilling this goal; first across Europe and soon worldwide.”
The €25 million investment round has been led by Swiss Privee, a private investment trust. This is also relatively unusual. Funding for high-risk startups tends to come from venture capital investors rather than more traditional money managers.
A spokesperson for Plynk declined to give any more information on Swiss Privee when asked by Business Insider and the release simply names the trust.
Dowd says: “Over 2017, we will use this secured funding to expand into new markets as well as add GBP to our platform. Hiring will also be a priority, adding more team members to continue development on our core product and to build more features unique to the social payments industry.”
Plynk says it is eyeing Spain and Portugal for expansion, along with the UK.
While Plynk may have big ambitions, it faces competition. Bitcoin-based Circle, which is backed by Goldman Sachs, offers a social money app across the US and Europe, while startup banks like Monzo have built in social payments featuring messages and emojis to their apps.
Google and Facebook also have long-held ambitions to successfully crack social payment features. More recently fintech companies such as TransferWise and Azimo have integrated with Facebook Messenger to allow people to send money through chatbot. In the US, PayPal has had huge success in the US with its social payments app Venmo.