Episode Six, a global payments and banking infrastructure provider, today announced that it raised $48 million in a Series C funding round led by Avenir with participation from Anthos Capital. In an email, CEO John Mitchell said that the tranche will be used to expand Episode Six’s go-to-market efforts and scale its business as the company looks to drive digital transformation journeys for banks and companies operating within the payments space.
Episode Six was founded in 2015 by Mitchell, Chermaine Hu and Futeh Kao. Seeking to overcome the limitations of legacy payments tech, the co-founders built a platform designed to streamline various payment processes while reducing costs.
“For CTOs and heads of product who want to grow their books and create competitive products, our platform allows them to launch new products quickly to meet a customer’s evolving needs and capture market share,” Mitchell told TechCrunch in an email interview. “For CIOs looking for payments at scale with safety, security, reliability and cost effectiveness, the platform delivers bank-grade payments’ infrastructure built by industry experts.”
Episode Six offers a range of different products to tackle specific, typical roadblocks in payments. For example, one of its clients, First Fidelity Bank, used the platform to create a real-time payments system with card issuing and processing capabilities as well as fraud detection. Another customers, TransPecos Banks, launched a credit card offering built on top of Episode Six’s infrastructure, while ecommerce checkout firm Montonio is tapping Episode Six’s tech to power credit card processing and acquiring.
“The burden of relying on legacy technology continues to present challenges, especially at a time when innovation is key to winning and retaining customers,” Mitchell said. “This, paired with the rising cost of operating legacy technology, is the reason we are seeing a significant increase in interest in our solution.”
To Mitchell’s point, a growing number of financial institutions, particularly banks, are looking to modernize their tech stacks in light of the increasing adoption of digital payments. A recent survey from Finextra found that 94% of banks are considering varied levels of investment in payments tech in the next 24-36 months. Of those respondents, 65% plan a “significant” or “moderate” level of investment in payments tech during the same period.
Of course, there’s no shortage competition in the payments and banking infrastructure space. Streamline, headquartered in San Francisco, recently raised $4 million for its business-to-business-focused payments product suite. Kushki is a much larger player — the Ecuadorian payments infrastructure startup landed $100 million last year at a $1.5 billion valuation. Other rivals include Pagos and Liquido, the later of which aims to become the “Stripe of LatAm.”
Episode Six, for its part, certainly seems to be attracting business, with a presence in 38 countries and customers including the top 50 global banks. Mitchell wouldn’t answer questions about recurring revenue. But he said that the startup expects to grow to 200 employees by the end of the year, up from 150 currently.
“Our strong commitment to long-term business management allowed us to navigate the challenges of the pandemic with resilience,” Mitchell said. “As a result, we were less impacted. In addition, we have been laser-focused on modernizing payments and banking infrastructure from the very beginning.”
To date, Episode Six has raised around $100 million in venture capital.