Fintech startup Feedzai valued at $1 billion in KKR-led funding round

FILE PHOTO: Feedzai, a fraud detection system that incorporates machine learning models, displays on the exhibit hall floor during the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Financial technology group Feedzai said on Wednesday it had raised $200 million in a round led by investment company KKR valuing the startup at more than $1 billion.

Existing investors, including Sapphire Ventures and Citi Ventures, also participated in the round, the San Mateo, California-headquartered company said.

Feedzai develops artificial intelligence and machine learning technology that helps banks and other financial firms to spot and prevent payments fraud, money laundering and other types of illicit activities.

The company, whose engineering and product operations are based in Portugal, will use the money to speed up its global expansion and expand its product range, it said.

The use of digital banking and payments is booming globally, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic which has led both consumers and businesses to conduct more activities online.

The rapid digital shift has led to an increase in online financial crime. Consumers faced a 650% increase in account takeover scams and a 250% increase in online banking fraud attacks in the last quarter of 2020 compared with a year earlier, based on a Feedzai study.

This has led banks to look for new technology to help to automate and improve some of the checks needed to spot and prevent online crime.

“Financial crime moves fast, 2020 and the global pandemic accelerated that even further,” said Nuno Sebastiao, CEO and chairman of Feedzai. “To stay ahead, the product and research need to be faster, and that is what we’re investing in.” He added that acquisitions were an option.

Feedzai’s clients include large companies such as Citigroup Inc, Fiserv Inc and Banco Santander, as well as well known fintechs such as SoFi.

Reporting by Anna Irrera. Editing by Jane Merriman