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HomeFinanceJPMorgan, Barclays back insurance startup Wefox with $55 million loan

JPMorgan, Barclays back insurance startup Wefox with $55 million loan


Wefox CEO Julian Teicke.

Wefox

German digital insurer Wefox said Wednesday it raised $110 million of fresh funding from backers including JPMorgan and Barclays.

The news marks a vote of confidence for the insurance technology space at a time when it faces tough macroeconomic headwinds.

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Wefox is a Berlin, Germany-based firm focused on personal insurance products, such as home insurance, motor insurance and personal liability insurance. Rather than underwriting claims itself, the company connects its users with brokers and partner insurance firms through an online platform.

Founded in 2015, it competes with the likes of U.S. digital insurer Lemonade and German firm GetSafe, as well as established insurance incumbents like Allianz.

Wefox said it raised the fresh funds through a combination of debt financing and fresh equity. Of the $110 million total, $55 million is in the form of a credit facility from banking giants JPMorgan and Barclays. A further of $55 million equity investment was led by Squarepoint Capital, a global investment management firm with $75.7 billion in assets under management.

“It’s a new type of financing for a growth company,” Julian Teicke, Wefox’s CEO and co-founder, told CNBC in an interview. “Risk investors, equity investors, they understand, they want to take risk.”

“Banks typically don’t, so for them it was really important to understand our path towards profitability and the maturity of our business,” he added.

The company said it maintained its $4.5 billion valuation from a July funding round — somewhat rare in today’s market, with many fintechs seeing their valuations slump drastically.

Wefox’s announcement comes as fintech and the technology industry as a whole grapple with a harsher economic environment, finding it more difficult to raise funding.

Higher interest rates have seen investors reevaluate growth-oriented tech businesses, with equity markets — and fintech in particular — taking a beating. In the public markets, U.S. firm Lemonade has seen its shares drop 23% in the past 12 months, though the stock is up 13% so far in 2023.

Layoffs have also plagued the fintech space. On Tuesday, money transfer firm Zepz told CNBC it was letting 420 employees go, or 16% of its total workforce, in the latest round of redundancies to hit the sector.

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, too, has darkened the outlook. The tech-focused lender collapsed earlier this year after its startup and venture capital clients fled in a panic due to capitalization concerns.

Despite the headwinds facing the wider tech industry, Teicke says he believes Wefox is “crisis-resistant.” In the first quarter of 2023, Wefox saw its revenues almost double year-over-year. The company anticipates it will reach profitability by the end of this year.

Teicke also said Wefox hasn’t faced the same pressures to lay off staff. Instead, it has shifted its priorities, he said, “doubling down on things that work and stopping things that don’t make sense.”

For instance, Teicke said Wefox was focusing on its broker partnership model and its so-called “affinity” method of distribution, where it sells its insurance software to other businesses for a subscription fee — for example, an online car dealer adding car insurance at the point of sale.

The fresh funds will go towards investing in Wefox’s affinity program and technology platform, the company said.

Teicke said Wefox is also investing heavily in artificial intelligence, which has become a hot area of tech recently following the rise of viral AI chatbot ChatGPT. Wefox mainly uses AI to automate policy applications and customer service.

The company has three tech hubs in Paris, Barcelona, and Milan dedicated to AI.



This story originally appeared on CNBC

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