Helcim closes $27 million CAD to bring payment stack to underserved SMBs

Startup’s full-stack payment offering puts it up against FinTech giants like Stripe.

Calgary-based FinTech startup Helcim has closed $27 million CAD ($20 million USD) in Series B financing.

The funding round was led by Headline, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, with participation from new investors Clocktower Ventures, Vesey Ventures, and SilverCircle, as well as returning investors Information Venture Partners and Aquiline Technology Growth.

Founded in 2008, Helcim offers a suite of payment solutions to traditional small to medium-sized businesses, such as home-services businesses, retail merchants, auto-repair shops, and health-care clinics. The startup’s product suite includes point of sale, invoicing, online checkout, debit and credit cards, and a payments terminal, among other services.

Helcim is looking to fill what it sees as a gap for Main Street businesses, which often deal with high average order values (which measure the average amount of money each customer spends per transaction), lower digital payment penetration, and tighter working capital needs. 

In October, Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, described the payment processing landscape for Canadian small businesses as “daunting, confusing, and expensive,” citing high transaction fees and complex fee structures as key challenges.

“There are millions of small and mid-market businesses out there still being underserved by traditional bank processors,” Helcim CEO and founder Nicolas Beique said in a statement. “This investment is allowing us to bring our service to more merchants in North America and support the small businesses that power our economy.”

When Helcim launched its built-from-scratch payment stack, it put itself up against major industry players, including Stripe, Block (formerly Square), and PayPal, which all hold significant market share in the United States and Canada. 

These firms, unlike others that offer payment integrations, include all “the guts” of payment processing, as Beique told BetaKit in 2020. This includes hardware certifications, settlement systems, fraud detection, underwriting, bank relationships, and connectivity to the card networks.

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While Beique has said he views traditional banks as Helcim’s primary competition, the startup has felt the pressure from its FinTech counterparts in recent years, particularly when launching its Smart Terminal. Last year, Beique told BetaKit that the production of that device was significantly delayed when Stripe acquired Helcim’s manufacturing partner at the time.

In a statement, Helcim said its recent Series B round marks a “significant milestone” for the startup, which was bootstrapped until raising $16 million in Series A financing in 2022. The startup claims to have seen “substantial growth” in 2023, adding it now services merchants in every US state and 12 of Canada’s 13 provinces and across more than 800 industries.

“The opportunity to redefine how Main Street moves their money and streamlines business operations in a cost-effective yet superior experience is incredible,” King Goh, partner at Headline, said in a statement. “What we saw in Helcim was a team that is entirely obsessed with improving the way that Main Street businesses are treated, their dedication has the potential to significantly disrupt the market.”

Helcim plans to funnel the new capital to product development, with a focus on improving its distribution channels and adding new payment, software and financing capabilities to its offering.

Feature image courtesy Helcim.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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