Azerbaijani founder came with idea when building payments infrastructure

Financial operations software, or FinOps, might not sound sexy but investors are tapping it as the next frontier of B2B fintech. 

And it’s the area where massive US VC Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has decided to make its first fintech investment in the DACH region: into Berlin-based Payrails. 

The US VC led Payrails’ $6.4m seed round, joined by HV Capital, angel investor Emmanuel Thomassin (also Delivery Hero’s CFO), Flixbus founders Jochen Engert, André Schwämmlein and Daniel Krauss, as well as Dominik Richter, founder of HelloFresh.

Payrails’ three founders — Orkhan Abdullayev, Emre Talay, and Nicolas Thouzeau — came up with the idea when building Delivery Hero’s payments infrastructure.

“I like to compare our goals to what happened with cloud computing”

It falls into the emerging category of FinOps, or software that helps companies process multiple forms of payments as well as automate certain operations like compliance and financial forecasting. 

Payrails’ software streamlines online merchants’ payment transactions so that they can, for example, offer Klarna alongside the ability to (one day) pay in a cryptocurrency at the point of sale. 

“I like to compare our goals to what happened with cloud computing,” says CEO and cofounder Abdullayev.

“If you think back to a few years ago, everybody was paying to maintain their servers, and then AWS and Google Cloud came along with a product that is very robust, but at the same time is very easy to start using — it scales as you grow, and gives you a lot of flexibility from a customisation point of view.” 

What does it actually do? 

Payrails says it’s targeting “enterprise clients across all industries” — but its bread and butter is businesses that accept online payments: think marketplaces, ecommerce, quick-commerce and mobility players. 

In other words, businesses like Delivery Hero. So will the delivery company be the first client on the books when Payrails launches today? 

“I can’t comment on that,” says Abdullayev. “But what I will say is that me and my two cofounders built a great product at Delivery Hero that navigated different geographies as it made acquisitions like foodpanda.

“We built the global platform for payments and the ledger there from the ground up.”

They did so because they couldn’t find any payment services providers that did all the things their large enterprise employer needed. 

Beyond payment transactions, this involved payment reconciliation via ledgers, compliance, reporting and audits, and financial planning like budgeting and forecasting.

Essentially, everything a CFO needs to run and judge the health of their business: which is what Payrails wants to provide.

“We’re building the operating system in order to enable high-growth technology companies to be able to accept payments across the globe, and at the same time to give them the necessary infrastructure to be able to build financial services,” Abdullayev says. 

Payrails has a usage-based pricing model, meaning merchants pay a fixed fee per transaction.

As it stands, its activities don’t need to be regulated, because the company plans to join forces and integrate different payment providers without actually processing payments itself. 

Payrails plans to funnel its fresh seed funding into product development, as well as growing its headcount from 30 to 100 by the end of this year — most of whom will be based in Berlin.