Dublin fintech firm Assure Hedge seeks funds to launch in Ireland

Company was recently selected to take part in landmark ‘sandbox’ programme in UK

Assure Hedge founder Barry McCarthy

Assure Hedge founder Barry McCarthy

 

Assure Hedge, a provider of foreign exchange technology to protect businesses from currency fluctuations, is looking to raise €3 million and plans amid plans to launch in its home market shortly.

The firm, which has its headquarters in Dublin, was established early last year and has just recorded its first sale. It was selected among 23 fintech start-ups by the UK Financial Conduct Authority in June to take part in the regulator’s “sandbox” programme. This is an initiative that allows businesses to test innovative products and services in a “live environment” while ensuring customers remain protected.

Assure Hedge, the brainchild of Barry McCarthy, who previously spent 15 years working as a financial markets trader, has developed a platform that makes it easier for companies to eliminate uncertainty around their forex exposure.

Mr McCarthy said the company’s participation in the sandbox had effectively removed risk from its proposition and, in doing so, had stirred a lot of interest from investors.

“We only received preclearance from the FCA on August 23rd but have already onboarded a number of customers and made our first hedge,” he said. “There are a number of venture capital firms and also a bank who are interested in backing us, so we’re looking to raise €3 million now to further develop the business, satisfy regulatory capital reserves and drive sales in the UK and Ireland.”

Assure Hedge’s first paying customer is a businessperson in the North who is involved in a lot of cross-Border trade.

“We’re democratising hedging through our technology, giving the instruments that are used by big corporations every day to smaller firms,” Mr McCarthy said. “We’ve made our platform as easy to use as possible. So easy, in fact, that my mother, a retired nurse, recently made her first hedge through it.

“As the fall of sterling following the Brexit vote shows, all companies need a hedging policy,” he added. “Financial markets are uncertain and companies that have any significant forex exposure need to be able to protect themselves.”

Other markets

Assure Hedge is primarily focused on the UK, although Mr McCarthy said it would look to open in other markets, including Ireland, once it was granted full authorisation by the FCA. It expects this to happen by early 2018 at the latest.

“There are restrictions at the moment but once we have authorisation we can passport the entire proposition to 31 countries,” he said.

Assure Hedge employs 12 people but expects to take on another eight people over the coming year. While it has so far largely sought customers by itself, it hopes to grow through partnerships in the future.

“Right now we are finding SMEs ourselves, but that’s not for the future,” he said. “Eventually we want to team up with banks and get thousands of customers through them. We’re basically looking to be an application programme interface (API) business where financial institutions can integrate our platform to offer hedging products to hundreds of thousands of customers rather than having to build their own.

“Hedging is hardly anything new but we have been told by VCs in Silicon Valley and London that we have a unique, fully automated proposition that will completely revolutionise change in what is an antiquated industry,” he added.