Numeral wants to turn bank accounts into microservices

Meet Numeral, a French startup that wants to upgrade corporate bank accounts. While clients interact with Numeral using a modern application programming interface (API), the startup connects directly to bank servers to upload payment files and interact with outdated information systems. By abstracting that layer of complexity, you can treat your bank accounts like another microservice in your architecture.

Last month, Numeral announced that it raised a $14.8 million (€13 million) funding round led by Balderton Capital. Alexandre Prot, Tom Blomfield, Guillaume Princen and Kima Ventures also participated. The Numeral team originally started working on the project within Logic Founders, a startup studio created by eFounders.

The best way to describe Numeral is by describing what it isn’t. Numeral isn’t an open banking aggregator for consumer apps. It doesn’t compete with Tink, TrueLayer or Yapily.

Numeral isn’t a banking-as-a-service provider either. The company doesn’t offer bank accounts, doesn’t generate IBANs and doesn’t issue cards.

“We are a payment automation platform for tech companies,” co-founder and CEO Édouard Mandon told me. “We let tech companies connect to their bank account to automate payment operations.”

While retail banks are just starting to offer APIs, corporate banks opened their banking platform many years ago. But don’t expect a REST API with documentation pages. Many banks expect you to upload a text file to an SFTP server. The file is supposed to be formatted in a very specific way as well.

Numeral sells its product to fintech, insurtech or real estate companies that rely heavily on bank transfers. For instance, the company’s first clients are Spendesk and Swile. Numeral has created integrations for its first clients so that Spendesk and Swile can interact with their bank accounts using an API.

By the end of 2022, Numeral plans to offer coverage for a dozen different banks. “Right now, half of our customers discover our service through a French bank that describes Numeral as the APIs they don’t offer,” Mandon said.

Once the integration is done, Numeral customers can integrate payment capabilities and features in their apps. The startup also offers a web app for non-technical staff. This way, they can reconcile payments and accounts without having to use the legacy web app offered by corporate banks.

Numeral can then add some additional features on top of its API. For instance, you can imagine setting up an approval workflow, a notification system, etc.

The startup is also thinking about orchestration capabilities. If a customer has multiple bank accounts, they could route payments to the right account depending on several rules. Numeral could also be used to actively manage cash balances across multiple accounts.

That could be particularly useful for global customers with accounts in multiple countries. Mandon worked for iBanFirst before starting Numeral, so he knows a thing or two about having several partner banks spread across multiple countries.

With the funding round, Numeral plans to grow to a team of 30 to 40 people. In addition to new integrations with French banks, the company plans to expand its coverage and customer base to other European countries, such as Germany, the U.K., Spain and Italy.