Nuula is building an ecosystem of partners to serve local small businesses around the world.
For the FinTech startup Nuula, it’s all about partners. Nuula has partnered with two Canadian startups, Caary and OneVest, to launch what it calls its super app in Canada.
While the financial services app for small businesses was previously available in the United States (US), the Canadian version is bolstered by integrations from both Nuula partners.
Nuula says its new app helps small business owners track their cash flow in real time, helps them monitor financial and business metrics, and allows them to track customer sentiment, including online ratings and reviews. .
Caary’s corporate credit card is offered in the Nuula app for Canadian customers, while OneVest provides personalized investment wallets in the app.
Nuula first launched its app in the US in 2021 after rebranding from BFS Capital, which operated for 20 years offering loans to small businesses. Based in the United States, BFS Capital began its transformation into a company with a real-time data and analytics application in 2019, when it opened an engineering center in Toronto.
At the time of the US launch, Nuula CEO Mark Ruddock spoke about creating a broader partner ecosystem through which Nuula hopes to offer a number of financial services to its customers. It now seems to be coming to fruition.
In an interview with BetaKit, Ruddock said he sees the rise of integrated FinTech partnerships coming to the fore. “An example of this is the next generation of exciting new FinTechs that are being built and designed to be integrated into a range of third-party platforms,” Ruddock said.
In Nuula’s case, that means serving the needs of small businesses around the world by partnering with FinTechs locally, market by market. “Most financial services require local skills and an understanding of each jurisdiction’s rules and regulations,” Ruddock said. “That’s what makes partnerships so appealing – it’s easier to partner with the best local FinTechs than to create something from scratch that meets all needs in all markets.”
Ruddock noted that each partnership is slightly different. Some use a revenue-sharing model, while others get paid with onboarding new customers. Still others are paid through a lifetime revenue share or per transaction. “We work with a lot of different partners and give small businesses free access to the Nuula app, so we’re very flexible when it comes to getting the right model in place,” he said.
He also pointed out that Nuula partners have access to what he said is a rapidly growing pool of small business customers, as well as information about the health of each business.
“As an app that tracks financial performance, we’re able to pre-qualify clients and find signals of financial health,” Ruddock said. “We are also able to track the performance of these companies over time and provide ongoing health signals to our partners. This is information that many FinTechs would not be able to collect on their own. »
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While FinTech partnerships aren’t a new trend – Wealthsimple and Borrowell joined forces in 2016 – other such partnerships are popping up lately. More recently, such partnerships have included FinTech startup Brim Financial which partnered with Canadian Western Bank (CWB) to give CWB customers access to Brim’s ‘platform as a service’ technology; and FinTech startup Mogo announcing a three-year lending partnership with alternative finance provider goeasy.
In fact, one of Nuula’s partners, OneVest, is no slouch when it comes to the partnerships themselves. OneVest partnered with Neo in April to create Neo Invest, a digital investment platform run by professional fund managers.
OneVest’s model is that it offers a turnkey ‘wealth as a service’ platform to a range of different customers, including consumer FinTech companies, credit unions, traditional banks and corporations. wealth management. It partners with companies and works as a back-end for various FinTech services to help companies launch these products easier and faster.
Nuula’s other partner, Caary, was founded in 2020 and offers a corporate card and payment platform to Canadian small and medium businesses. The startup says it has developed a model for assessing and offering credit to SMEs based on cash flow and assets rather than credit history, which it calls a “novel approach”. Caary secured $4.1 million in funding last year.
Nuula currently has approximately 60 employees, most of whom are based in Canada. While Ruddock is pleased with the Canadian launch, he noted the lag when it comes to open banking as a missing piece to operating in Canada. He said countries that have built strong open banking platforms, alongside strong regulatory infrastructure, have seen the rise of a vibrant FinTech and banking ecosystem.
“Unfortunately, Canada lags behind the rest of the world in this area,” Ruddock noted. “Countries where open banking is strong are reaping the rewards, enabling a new generation of FinTechs to thrive. The result is more financial inclusion, more access to capital, and more innovation.
Canada only announced its open banking leader, PwC Canada’s director of digital banking, Abraham Tachjian, in March. The appointment comes more than three years after the federal government launched its Open Banking Advisory Committee, and nearly a year to the day since their report recommended a leader for the design of the “first phase from [open banking] system.” Canada’s long and drawn-out journey to open banking has often been criticized by Canadian fintech companies for what they see as its glacial pace.
For Nuula’s part, Ruddock said that in the coming weeks the startup will announce more partnerships that “look at the needs” of small businesses and entrepreneurs. “For example, you’ll soon hear us announce partnerships that flesh out the broader needs of small businesses, whether it’s term life insurance or cyber protection,” he said.
Over the next few quarters, Nuula plans to launch in other countries around the world. “The UK is next on our roadmap,” Ruddock said.