Lightyear closes $8.5m from Mosaic Ventures and launches app to UK market
Fintech startup Lightyear announces today an additional $8.5m of funding alongside the launch of its app as the company starts to onboard UK customers from its waiting list. Lightyear combines multi-currency accounts with unlimited access to global markets so customers can invest freely without hidden fees.
Lightyear is founded by early Wise alumni Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, and pledges to bring a global mindset into the European investment space. Traditionally, if European investors wanted access to international markets they have been hit with a range of various fees such as transaction and custody fees, but most notably foreign exchange fees. After removing the friction of sending money abroad during their time at Wise, the pair are looking to do the same with investing.
The new investment platform seeks to eradicate the ambiguity and unjustifiable fees levied at retail investors. With platforms charging different types of fees at varying points of the customer journey, they leave little clarity around the true cost of an investment. Lightyear is on a mission to flip this pricing model on its head by giving customers the tools to add, hold and invest money in multiple currencies, removing the need for conversions. With unlimited access to more than 1,000 global stocks, Lightyear’s first iteration of the app (its minimum viable product or ‘MVP’) will start onboarding customers from the waitlist starting today.
Earlier this summer, Lightyear announced a $1.5m pre-seed round from a cohort of fintech industry stalwarts, led by Taavet Hinrikus of Wise and Sten Tamkivi of Teleport and Jaan Tallinn (Metaplanet) of Skype. The round also welcomed Ott Kaukver, the CTO at checkout.com, Wander Rutgers, the former president of Robinhood UK and Kaarel Kotkas, the founder of Veriff.
The new $8.5m in funding was led by Mosaic Ventures alongside existing investors Taavet+Sten (the recently formed investment partnership of Taavet Hinrikus and Sten Tamkivi) and Metaplanet. New angel investors coming in this time include early Monzo backer Eileen Burbidge, Harsh Sinha, the CTO at Wise and Taavi Tamkivi, the CEO at Salv.
Simon Levene, Mosaic co-founder and partner says: “Compared to mature markets such as the US, retail investment across Europe is still at the beginning of its growth journey. The customer experience hasn’t really been cracked, and the majority of current offerings serve just their local country. Lightyear’s mission is to offer access to global markets for pan-European investors, providing all the necessary data and education they need — with a simple, transparent business model that removes all the hidden and confusing fee structures. We’re delighted to support co-founders Martin Sokk and Mihkel Aamer, two veteran execs from TransferWise, at the start of their journey to empower retail investors – experienced and new alike – across the continent”
Martin Sokk, co-founder and CEO at Lightyear, adds: “10 months ago Lightyear was just an idea, so we’re really excited to have raised a total of $10m, hired a world-class team and to be launching the first iteration of our app. There are more people in Europe investing now than ever before, but there’s still a very long way to go. Our goal is to give all of Europe access to the world’s markets without hidden fees and to make investing cognitively easy. We’re excited to have such a strong group of investors that share this vision with us.”
Eileen Burbidge, who personally invested as an angel investor in Lightyear, says: “When it comes to investing in an early-stage business, it’s crucial that the team is best in class, that I believe in the sector, and the product has global appeal. We’ve seen more and more people interested in retail investing over the past year and a half, which, combined with this highly motivated, extremely talented and high integrity team, makes for something special. I’m excited by Lightyear’s commitment to transparency and building a platform that’s approachable and inclusive, where everyone has the best access, tools and confidence to invest.”
From today, Lightyear will be onboarding customers from its waiting list that has been growing since the company came out of stealth mode earlier this summer. With its expansion plans already in play, Lightyear is targeting H1 2022 for a pan-European launch, and this latest funding will enable the company to accelerate its plans to open up transparent and low-cost investing to everyone in Europe.