Irish co-founded Atoa raises €6m in seed funding round

Company is going up against the established card networks Visa and Mastercard in the UK

A phone open on the camera app scanning a QR code from Atoa to help make a payment to a small business in-store

Irish cofounded fintech Atoa has raised $6.5 million (€6 million) in a seed funding round as it prepares to go up against established card networks such as MasterCard and Visa.

The funding was led by Valar Ventures, the Peter Thiel-backed US fund which has previously invested in Wise, Xero and N26 in Europe. Previous investors in Atoa, including Passion Capital and Singapore-based Leo Capital, also supported the funding round.

It brings to $8.6 million the total raised by the fintech.

Atoa, which was cofounded by Cian O’Dowd, Sid Narayanan and Arun Rajkumar and launched in 2022, aims to reduce transaction fees, improve cash flow and provide a faster way for small and medium-sized retail businesses in the UK to accept card payments.


“Most fintechs these days are not fundamentally disrupting the market but are instead merely slotting themselves into the existing rails of Visa and Mastercard,” Mr O’Dowd, chief operating officer of Atoa, said. “They give us nice user interfaces and fancy metal debit cards but the high merchant fees, excessive bureaucracy and outdated infrastructure remains.

“Open banking payments, such as Atoa, represent a major shift in the global payments sector.”

Atoa uses open banking to facilitate account-to-account payments, promising to reduce fees for businesses for in-store payments by up to 70 per cent. Consumers can pay in-store using an instant bank transfer, securely approving the payment through their existing banking app and allowing businesses to avoid up to 2 per cent in transaction fees charged by payment networks, along with the typical three-day processing time.

Businesses can connect their merchant account to the Atoa app and, after a short set-up process, can begin to take payments via SMS, Pay-by Link or by displaying a QR code. In-store payments are then processed by scanning the QR code and approving the amount.

“For businesses on the high street, every penny counts. Businesses need fairer solutions that improve cash flow and keep prices down for their customers,” Robert Dighero of Passion Capital said. “Open banking payments with Atoa could make a significant impact to their bottom line.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist