Cybersecurity and fintech venture capital group Team8 has announced that it is launching Team8 Fintech, a practice focused on founding and scaling transformative fintech companies.

Team8 Fintech’s leadership team. Left to right: Yuval Tal, Rakefet Russak Aminoach, Galia Beer-Gabel and Ronen Assia

Team8 Fintech is led by the former President & CEO of Israel’s largest bank, Leumi Group, Rakefet Russak-Aminoach (front, seated), Other founding partners include Yuval Tal who founded and ran digital payments unicorn Payoneer; eToro co-founder Ronen Assia (seen above with his brother, eToro CEO Yoni Assia); and Galia Beer-Gabel, former Head of Business Development for PayPal across Eastern Europe, Israel and Africa.

Team8 is an Israel based venture group backed by strategic funding from Microsoft, Walmart, Barclays and Moody’s, among others.

Regulatory filings in the US indicate that the group (via Cayman Islands based Team8 FinTech Partners I, L.P.) has to date raised $30 million for the new fund, out of a planned initial total target of $100 million.

The company said that COVID-19 has paved the way to hyper digitization, accelerating trends and expectations both at the business level and for consumers across all age groups. From the decline in cash usage and the decreasing relevance of brick and mortar to the recent surge in the opening of digital-only bank accounts, the pandemic is acting as a catalyst to spur a wealth of new digital experiences that offer enhanced engagement and increased personalization.

The financial services sector is already undergoing major transformation, driven by multiple forces. Regulations such as “open banking” encourage competition, provide users with more control over their data, and allow them to easily migrate and adopt new financial services. Modern technology advancements and banking-as-a-service platforms make it easier than ever to repurpose and integrate different layers of the financial technology stack into new applications. From younger generations looking for solutions with their favorite brands rather than their parents’ financial institutions of choice, to a growing aging population depositing checks by phone now, COVID-19 has fast-forwarded today’s market needs by a decade.

Team8 Fintech said it will be part of creating both B2B and B2B2C companies that empower industry players with new technologies and new business offerings to ensure they stay relevant and gain a competitive advantage.

The foundry will build companies that enable incumbents, largely operating with legacy infrastructure, to hyperscale their digital transformation. For established fintechs, typically offering niche solutions, Team8 Fintech said it will create companies that enhance their value propositions with more diverse and robust capabilities and broaden their business models. The practice will also target non-financial companies with significant customer bases and relevant customer touchpoints where a financial service offering may be beneficial. Team8 Fintech will aim to create companies providing embedded fintech solutions to address these opportunities, enabling such non-financial companies to become new fintech providers, benefiting from new revenue streams and enhanced customer engagement.

The new Team8 Fintech team said it will leverage Team8’s signature foundry model of company building, ideating novel solutions to address the problems and opportunities of its target audience. The foundry will partner with exceptional entrepreneurs to co-found new companies, bringing together its domain expertise and company-building capabilities to mitigate the complexity of building companies for this highly regulated and fragmented market; ultimately accelerating the path to success.  The Foundry will leverage and extend the Team8 Village – an extensive rich ecosystem of corporate executives and investors that provide a privileged insider’s view to enterprise challenges and fintech opportunities – a key benefit for companies. It will also support startup progression through its trademark disciplined and rigorous approach, utilizing the group’s in-house team of dozens of domain experts, researchers, ideators, marketers, business developers and talent recruiters based in New York and Tel Aviv.

A pioneer in the global digital banking arena, former Leumi CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach has been listed in Fortune Magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women” three times since 2015 and included in the BBC’s “100 Most Inspirational and Influential Women”. At Bank Leumi, Russak-Aminoach headed Israel’s oldest bank and turned it into the largest market cap wise by implementing groundbreaking digital transformation strategies including the establishment of LeumiTech, the Group’s high-tech banking arm, and the launch of neobank Pepper, one of the world’s first fully digital banks launched by an incumbent.

“The financial industry is facing a perfect storm, with inevitable changes and advancements already underway. Understanding the challenges and complexities of incumbents or other enterprises to innovate from within, my passion is to build the  type of companies I would have wanted to collaborate with in my previous role as CEO of a bank. I see great opportunities in leveraging new technologies to completely reinvent financial services, drive efficiency and improve customer experience,” said Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, Managing Partner, Team8 Fintech. “In order to execute leading-edge fintech, a strong technology partner is vital – Team8 is renowned for its best-in-class technology capabilities and I’m excited about the fintech powerhouse we’re going to build.”

Nadav Zafrir, Managing Partner, Team8 Platform added:

“Today, we are joining forces with giants. Financial Services are first and foremost about Trust. To make them more efficient, available and ultimately fair, Digital Trust is paramount. And Digital Trust is dependent on Cyber Security and Privacy – a natural habitat for Team8. Assembling this all-star team is a rare event and is gearing us with the talent, gravitas and exceptional leadership skills to build transformative fintech companies. This cements another important milestone in Team8’s journey as we expand our foundry model and become a multi-sector venture group.”

Team8 Group currently operates Team8 Enterprise, a foundry vehicle that builds cyber and data companies, and Team8 Capital, an investment vehicle that funds existing startups across Team8’s areas of expertise. The group expands into a new domain with Team8 Fintech across both company building and investment activities.

Team8 is a company-building venture group with deep domain expertise that creates companies and invests in companies specializing in enterprise technology, cybersecurity and fintech. Leveraging an in-house, multi-disciplinary team of company-builders integrated with a dedicated community of C-level executives and thought leaders, Team8’s model is designed to outline big problems, ideate solutions, and help accelerate success through technology, market fit and talent acquisition. Team8’s leadership team represents serial entrepreneurs, industry pioneers and the former leadership of Israel’s elite tech and intelligence Unit 8200. Founded in 2014, Team8 is backed by global companies including Microsoft, Walmart, Cisco, Barclays and Moody’s, among others.