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London tech firm Worldr raises £10 million to help bankers text securely over WhatsApp

Stock photo of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, social media app icons on a smart phone. (PA Archive)
Stock photo of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, social media app icons on a smart phone. (PA Archive)

A London tech company has raised almost £10 million in funding to help develop software to bolster security for messaging apps amid intense scrutiny of how bankers and City financiers use Whatsapp to handle sensitive data.

Worldr’s software helps organisations to retain data sovereignty over information shared on communication and collaboration platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Outlook and Slack and comes just weeks after the US finance regulator slapped a number of major global banks with fines totalling $1.8bn for the improper use of private messaging apps by employees.

The new funding round was led by Molten Ventures, with continued support from IQ Capital and Playfair Capital.

Worldr CEO Max Buchan said: “The increase in cyberattacks, data localisation requirements, and scrutiny from regulators mean that it is no longer enough to blindly trust that collaboration platforms are keeping business communications secure and compliant.”

He told the Standard: “The challenge I foresaw was getting people’s behaviour to change is an extremely difficult task – so the original genesis was to build a second layer of security on top of the existing products.

It comes after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued fines totalling $1.8bn for 16 US institutions for their use of private messaging apps like WhatsApp, with the likes of Barclays, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley all facing fines.

Last month, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority said it was holding discussions with a number of London-based banks and financial services firms over the use of private messaging apps by employees to exchange sensitive information.

An FCA spokesperson said: “We are actively discussing personal device use with a range of UK authorised firms, not limited to those who may have been subjected to other regulatory enquiries.”

Buchan said the funding round would be used to support Worldr’s expansion to the US, with a new office launch in New York and a further site earmarked for Washington DC. The firm also plans to double its employee headcount to top 50 staff members by the middle of next year.