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SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Ribbit Capital, a firm founded by financial-services entrepreneur Micky Malka, has closed its inaugural $100 million fund, Malka said on Tuesday.
The firm is tapping into a split in venture funding that has emerged in recent years, with funds tending to the large and diverse or the small and specialized.
"It's an evolution where LPs are more positive on smaller, more focused funds," said Malka, referring to the investors known as limited partners.
Ribbit, which means interest in Hebrew, will specialize in lending, payments, insurance, accounting, tax preparation and personal financial management, Malka said.
He will bring to bear financial know-how stemming from a background that includes co-founding Banco Bracce, a Brazil-based bank focused on medium-sized companies, and serving on the board of British online lender Wonga.
His experience founding Bling Nation, a mobile loyalty and payments service that later evolved to receipts-tracking company Lemon, gives him insights into one area bursting with cash-seeking startups: the mobile payments business.
"It's overheated," he said, noting that existing payments companies like Intuit provide stiff competition in mobile payments.
Malka anticipates investing in young companies with products rather than the earlier-stage investing that may come when the company has little more than an idea.
That translates into investments in the $2 million to $15 million dollar range, with a maximum of about 15 investments made over the life of the fund, he said.
The fund has already made four investments, comprising U.K.-based personal-asset lender borro; U.S. payments-technology company Fuze Network; Brazilian accounting business ContaAzul; and U.S. lender Capital Access Networks.
The 50 or so investors in Ribbit include high net-worth individuals and financial institutions that want to keep tabs on innovations in financial services. They "see the category being disrupted," said Malka, "and want to understand how."