Montreal-based Flinks has raised a $500,000 pre-seed round as the company works to be the go-to API solution for FinTechs in Canada.
Launched in April 2017, Flinks allows FinTech companies to connect their apps with customers’ banks, allowing them to validate account ownership, verify account balances, or access transaction histories. The problem sounds fairly straightforward, but CEO Yves-Gabriel Leboeuf says it’s a major challenge for FinTechs launching in the Canadian market.
“There are new ways of evaluating the financial portrait of someone.”
“Right now, there’s only one way to get that data, and it’s through an American provider,” Leboeuf says, citing examples like Yodlee and Finicity. “But the problem is that American providers don’t work closely with Canadian financial institutions.”
The company raised the money in a friends and family round that included the founders’ and early employees’ own money, and plans to use it to build up its eight-person team to focus on sales. It currently counts companies like Acceo and Dwello among its customers.
While Flinks is focused on being an API provider right now, its long-term goal is to bring a more data-driven aspect to its API, such as assessing fraud risk or credit-scoring information of a user. Leboeuf says it could solve a financial inclusion issue for millennials.
“There’s a special thing going on with millennials — we don’t really care about credit scores. We may pay cell phone bills late or credit cards late, and that affects credit scores and then we have difficulties getting financing,” Leboeuf says. “So there are new ways of evaluating the financial portrait of someone, such as the behaviour of someone who has money in their account, and what they do with pay deposit in their account. This is more where we want to go at this point.”
With a founding team that includes experience in financial firms like Desjardins and Laurentian, the team is optimistic about its lofty goal to reach one million end users by the end of the year. Currently, the company says it hits 1,000 validations a day, and continues to carve its niche in the Canadian market.
“There’s a lot of international competition, but there’s more Canadian FinTechs going to the States than American companies going in the Canadian market,” Leboeuf says. “The reason is that most Canadian FinTechs are attracted by the US market because for some companies, Canada’s too small a market…we basically build tech to export it to the US market. A good example is Wealthsimple, which was first dedicated to the Canadian market but soon enough they decided to open on the US market, and I think it so far is working quite well.”
He continues, “We’re doing well so far, and differently than other companies or FinTechs in Canada by the fact that we’re trying to build everything for this market right now.”