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Mastercard is a lead participant in a Series C funding round in Hello Alice, a fintech platform which focuses on connecting SMEs to capital and connections.

The US payments giant participated in the funding round alongside QED Investors as another key investor. Additional firms involved were Backstage Capital, Golden Seeds and Harbert Growth Partners Fund, as well as restaurateur Guy Fieri.

This brought the total valuation of the company to $130m, with Hello Alice detailing plans to enhance its capital offerings and AI-driven financial health tools for small businesses.

“We are thrilled to hit the milestone of 1.5 million small businesses utilising Hello Alice to elevate the American dream,” said Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, Hello Alice Co-Founders.

“There are more entrepreneurs launching this year than in the history of our country, and we will continue to ensure they get the capital needed to grow.

“In closing our Series C, we welcome Mastercard to our family of investors and continue to be grateful to QED, How Women Invest, and our advocates such as Guy Fieri.”

As noted above, Hello Alice plans to use the funds to increase its adoption of AI technology, which it states it is using to lower barriers for entrepreneurs and improve efficiencies and equity across the SME ecosystem.

Mastercard’s investment in Hello Alice builds on an existing collaboration between the two companies, with the latter issuing its Hello Alice Small Business Mastercard, alongside other programmes such as the Business Health Score and Equitable Access Programme.

The company’s participation in the funding round marks a continuation of its investment strategy. Hello Alice’s usage of AI, meanwhile, also aligns with Mastercard’s increasing leveraging of the technology.

Mastercard, like many other payments stakeholders, is making extensive use of AI for various purposes, including customer service and anti-fraud activities. Tulsi Narayan, the firm’s Senior Vice President of Security Solutions and Processing, discussed these operations with Payment Expert this week.

Ginger Siegel, Mastercard’s North America Small Business Lead, said: “With Hello Alice, we’re investing to provide support to small business owners as they look to access capital, helping to address one of the most cited business challenges they face.

“By working together to simplify access to the products and services they need when building and growing their business, we’re helping make a meaningful impact on the individuals who run their businesses, the customers they serve, and our communities and economy at large.”