BGF and Octopus team up to back fraud prevention firm Semafone

£5m investment will ramp up operations for software company

Independent investment company the Business Growth Fund (BGF) and venture capital investor Octopus Investments today announced a £5m joint investment into fraud prevention software company Semafone.

Founded by David Jackson and Charles Cooper-Driver in 2009, Semafone specialises in fraud prevention software used by call centres when taking payments from customers over the phone.

Its proprietary payment method allows users to key in sensitive credit card information using their phone’s keypad, which is then sent directly to the bank, bypassing the call centre itself.

The Guildford-based business has grown to a turnover of £5m since inception, and has acquired a host of large blue-chip clients including Sky, Virgin Holidays, TalkTalk and BT.

The £5m investment into Semafone comprised £4m from BGF and a further £1m from Octopus and other unnamed existing shareholders.

It will be used to fund a rapid programme of international growth for the firm as it looks to secure its status as a leader in the payments security software industry.

BGF will take a minority stake in return for the investment and will add two members to the Semafone board – investment director Alistair Brew and investment manager Will Gresty.

Tim Critchley, chief executive of Semafone, said: “We are very pleased to have BGF’s support during a pivotal period of growth.

“Our global collaboration with BT on the BT Secure Contact solution and our expanding customer base, which now reaches four continents, are placing unprecedented demands on the company’s resources.

“BGF’s investment will help us to deliver these projects successfully as we continue to fulfil our ambitious plans for expansion into the US and further afield.”

BGF investment director Alistair Brew added: “Semafone is an incredibly exciting company with a market-leading product offering endorsed by major blue chip customers. It is on an impressive growth trajectory, driven by its innovative software and consistently high quality project delivery under Tim Critchley’s strong leadership.

“There is a clear vision for how Semafone will build on its successes to date both in the UK and overseas, and we are delighted to be co-investing alongside existing investors Octopus Investments, who have been long-term backers of the company, to help realise this plan.”

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