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Export Development Canada has led an $85-million financing of one of Canada’s fastest-growing financial technology companies, Brim Financial Inc., the latest in a string of big-ticket investments in innovative domestic startups by the Crown corporation.

Brim raised the funds from EDC’s growth equity fund, with backing from past financiers Vistara Growth, White Owl Group, Epic Ventures and Zions Bank. It’s one of the largest financings to date of a Canadian digital company led by a woman, and Brim will use the money to fuel its expansion into the United States, offering a digital credit card program management tool that has gained traction with second-tier Canadian financial institutions.

“We definitely see other markets on the horizon, but we’re very deliberately taking a Canada-U.S. approach before expanding in order to make sure that our delivery and platforms remain very strong,” said Brim chief executive officer Rasha Katabi, a financial services veteran executive who co-founded the company in 2015. She said the financing values the company “significantly” higher than its previous venture capital financing in early 2021, when it raised $25-million at a valuation of almost $100-million.

Brim’s revenues have grown tenfold since then. By contrast, many digital companies have struggled to grow revenues, increase their valuations or raise money since the tech downturn started in late 2021.

Brim initially focused on issuing credit as it positioned itself as a challenger to Canada’s big banks in consumer credit. It sought to stand out by offering loyalty points that could be redeemed on any purchase and partnered with hundreds of merchants, including Indigo Books & Music Inc., Nike Inc. and Lululemon.

But the company pivoted three years ago after attracting the interest of potential partners looking to use its proprietary technology as a platform to launch and manage their own credit cards and loyalty programs. Shopify Inc. took a similar path in the late 2000s when it pivoted from selling snowboards online to selling the software it had developed to manage its e-commerce operation.

Brim now offers what it calls its “credit-card-as-a-service,” targeting regional and small- to mid-sized banks, credit unions, financial technology companies and consumer brands. The vertical platform acts as an online portal, allowing customers to handle everything from identity verification and credit adjudication to customer service, compliance and risk, customer onboarding and other workflow management, as well as loyalty programs and payments.

It replaces “a bunch of disparate systems that provide various bits and pieces of what these issuers need,” said Randy Garg, managing partner with Vistara. “There’s increasingly a real need to bring that on to one platform. That’s what Brim has been able to do here. When the tech works and delivers the payback, it allows you to get rid of a bunch of systems you don’t need. That is what is creating the wins for them.”

The company has signed up Laurentian Bank, Western Canada’s Affinity Credit Union and Canadian Western Bank and Air France-KLM and has seven more partnerships in the works in the U.S. and Canada, Ms. Katabi said. Those first contracts have provided a jolt to revenues: Brim was the 20th fastest-growing technology company in Canada last year, according to Deloitte & Touche, with three-year revenue growth of 1,028 per cent.

Brim’s platform also landed it a coveted partnership last December with MasterCard Inc., which chose the Toronto company to be its strategic partner to provide innovative solutions in credit-card platforms to the U.S. “We liked the management, we liked their prospects of international growth, and their partnership with Mastercard is definitely a game changer,” said Guillermo Freire, senior vice-president of EDC’s midmarket group, which has made more than 30 direct investments totalling $580-million in innovative, export-minded Canadian companies since 2022, including Sheertex Holdings, Miovision Technologies, Attabotics Inc., Sanctuary AI, GoBolt and Certn.

EDC and fellow Crown corporation Business Development Bank of Canada have stepped up support for early-stage Canadian companies in the past few years as liquidity has dried up.

Brim still issues credit cards directly to consumers, but Ms. Katabi said that business is “no longer core as we’ve developed so much and grown our product suite, but they continue to be a strong offering on the platform.”

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