Japanese internet giant, Rakuten, has become the latest firm to open a fintech fund to invest in the sector. Called the Rakuten FinTech Fund, Rakuten is allocating $100 million for the new venture to invest in early to mid-stage fintech startups that it believes provide the potential for an attractive return and have strategic relevance. The Rakuten FinTech fund has a global mandate but is expected to focus primarily on fintech startups from the US and Europe. In terms of size, the fund is one of the largest to be launched that focuses specifically on the fintech sector and is similar to the $100 million Santander InnoVentures fund created in 2014.
For Rakuten, the opening of the fund and an official mandate to invest in the fintech sector come after several investments in the space. Previous fintech investments include Currency Cloud, WePay and Bitnet. While the firm is known best as an internet company, Rakuten’s conglomerate ecosystem includes businesses involved with banking, insurance, card issuing and securities brokering. With its existing financial businesses, the Rakuten FinTech Fund will be targeting firms that could potentially provide value and services to Rakuten’s existing units.
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Heading the new fund and acting as its advisor is Rakuten Managing Partner Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel. On the new role and future of fintech, Oskar Miel commented, “If you just look at the last couple of years, companies like Currency Cloud, WePay or Bitnet are great examples of disruption changing the landscape in payments and providing innovative solutions that address fundamental needs of global customers. The Rakuten FinTech Fund is dedicated to helping these businesses accelerate disruption and innovation in historically more traditional and conservative markets.”