Semafone, a UK company specialising in fraud prevention software used by call centres taking payments over the phone, is looking to increase the size of its operations following a £4m growth capital investment from BGF and a further £1m from Octopus Investments and other existing shareholders.
BGF invested in Semafone in October 2014 to support delivery of recent large contract wins and expansion in overseas markets.
Semafone’s DTMF masking payment method is patented in the US and UK and allows call centre operators and other businesses taking payments by phone to reduce Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance costs by up to 80 percent. The technology anonymises sensitive credit and debit card details as they are keyed in by the customer during a telephone transaction and sends them directly to the bank, by-passing the call centre itself. Semafone also allows the call centre agent to maintain a dialogue with the customer during the transaction process, which reduces abandonment rates and provides a better customer experience than a fully automated service.
Based in Guildford, Semafone employs a team of over 50 and was founded by David Jackson and Charles Cooper-Driver in 2009; the board of directors is chaired by David Sear who is also group chief commercial officer at global payment specialist Skrill. The business, which has turnover of circa £5m, is on a high growth trajectory. In May 2014, Semafone became the first vendor to achieve three of the highest levels of accreditation in the payment security industry, PA-DSS, PCI Level 1 certification and being a registered Visa merchant agent.
Semafone’ s software is used by a host of blue-chip customers including Sky, Virgin Holidays, Talk Talk, Aviva Canada and Capita. In October 2013, Semafone signed a partnership contract with BT which will see it become a core part of BT’s call centre technology offering for its corporate customers.
The market for Semafone’s product has grown strongly in recent years, driven by high profile data breaches around the world that have dented consumer confidence and the reputation of major companies. The most recent large-scale attack was in September 2014 on US retailer Home Depot, resulting in the theft of 56 million customer records with an estimated “street” value of $3 billion.
BGF continued its investment in the next generation of the UK’s IT & Technology sector by backing Skyscape Cloud Services, the leading provider of cloud infrastructure services to the UK public sector, with a £4m investment in May 2014.
BGF’s capital is being used to further develop Skyscape’s channel partnerships as well as continue investment into direct sales, alongside expanding into the wider UK Public Sector, including healthcare, local government, research and higher education.
Since BGF’s investment, Skyscape has experienced rapid growth, increasing revenues from £3.7m in 2014 to £16.2m in 2015. Employee numbers have doubled in line with this growth and the company has won a number of industry awards including ‘One to Watch in Cloudex 20:20, Gartner ‘Cool Vendor’ and Cloud Provider Innovation of the Year award at the UK IT Industry Awards 2014.
Skyscape was founded in May 2011 by successful entrepreneur Jeff Thomas (Chairman) and two experienced businessmen Phil Dawson (CEO) and Simon Hansford (CTO). The company’s head office is in Farnborough, Hampshire.
The business has achieved great success to date, winning a number of high-profile contracts directly with public sector organisations, including the Cabinet Office, Home Office, HMRC and MOD. Skyscape also provides cloud services to other central government departments as well as a growing number of local authorities and independent government organisations.
Capitalising on the government shift to cloud computing which forms a key part of government ICT strategy, Skyscape is a market leader in the provision of assured cloud solutions to the UK public sector and has made significant investment in designing a cloud platform that is specifically tailored to meet the needs of this market. The business is currently focused mainly on central government departments, supporting more than 70 projects, across 38 customer organisations engaging through over 100 partners.
Skyscape focuses on providing assured cloud services in a more agile, secure and cost-effective manner. Its customers are able to eliminate the need for costly hardware or managed hosting services as well as benefit from simple hourly pricing and no initial set-up fees. This genuine pay-by-the-hour service delivers significant cost savings for Skyscape’s customers, who are able to turn servers off during evenings and weekends, or alternatively, rapidly scale services at times of peak demand.