PayTo fintech Hello Clever raises $4.5 million Seed round

A buy-to-earn fintech Hello Clever has raised $4.5 million in a Seed round as it looks to build out its instant rewards ecosystem.

The round was led by Vectr Fintech Partners with participation from CrossFund, Yolo Investments, Magnivia Ventures, Son Tech Ventures, Boson Ventures and notable angels such as Ken Cheung, the former APAC head of Facebook and Instagram, Daniel Johnson of Mercurien Insurance and Bosco Tan.

The announcement came just days after Hello Clever became the first payment platform in Australia to offer PayTo pre-authorised payments, and on August 17, completed the first PayTo payment in Australia with the RBA.

Launched in early 2022 by high school mates turned cofounders Caroline Tran and Gavin Nguyen, the pair are looking to use the capital to build a team of developers and designers as they also start to eye off other markets in the Asia Pacific region.

Tran, the fintech’s CEO, said the platform is designed to support Aussie millennials and generation Z to track their income and spending, while using their own money to make payments as an alternative to credit-based buy now pay later services.

“Hello Clever is the first Australian buy-to-earn platform designed with the customer in mind,” she said.

“Through its real-time payment API, which is an instant payment solution powered by the New Payments Platform (NPP), PayTo and PayID, Hello Clever provides real-time cash back for customers and allows users to be clever with their spending, tracking it across multiple bank accounts in real-time.”

The startup is at the forefront of the transformation of the Australian payments landscape with PayTo being introduced in July. It’s part of the NPP system and offers a new way for merchants and businesses to initiate real-time payments from their customers’ bank accounts. 

Fast payments and rewards

Hello Clever is designed to make fast payments (PayTo, PayID) possible for retailers and uses open banking, fast payments, and AI technologies to put together an end-to-end experience for younger consumers around shopping, payments, earning, and managing spending.

“With PayTo, payments are now secured at bank level, meaning our customers can set up automatic payments from and receive rewards right into their own bank accounts. This allows us to focus more on building a comprehensive, friction-free spending and earning journey for our customers, while welcoming bigger merchants and enterprises across all verticals,” Tran said.

“Imagine a platform where you can just checkout and earn cashback without even thinking about your cards or bank accounts, and at the same time you’re pretty sure your merchant will get your payment instantly and securely – that’s the kind of experience we’re building.

Hello Clever allows merchants to unlock new customers from the fintech’s ecosystem and securely transact with reduced fraud and chargeback.

As well as leading the way on that front, Tran and Nguyen are looking to ramp up the incentives for consumers to encourage them to embrace the shift to PayTo.

“Achieving more than $4.5 million in seed funding allows us to grow and scale our product offering, ensuring we provide the support to as many users as possible to achieve their financial goals,” Tran said.

Hello Clever now has more than 30,000 active users and built partnerships with 70-plus banks and more than 1,010 retailers including brands such  AMH Hair & Beauty, Skeyndor, The North Face, Under Armour, Lee Jeans,
Timberland, and T2 Tea.

Mark Munoz from Vectr Fintech Partners said they were immediately impressed with Tran’s vision

“She was able to spot the open banking trend taking over the fintech space in the US and Europe and think of how to localise it to the Australian market through Hello Clever,” he said.

CrossFund CEO Ben Cardarelli said they hadn’t seen another fintech app for millennials in the market with the same kind of traction and positive customer reviews.

“We could tell Caroline was a force of nature and knew the industry inside-out,” he said.

“We forecast Hello Clever being able to grow into Southeast Asia through Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. These are all large markets with big, young, and tech-savvy populations that can benefit enormously from a payment solution like Hello Clever.”