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Draw up a list of the top fintech innovators of 2014. Got it? Now tell me how many of your top 50 companies are not just impressive companies in their respective fields, but Finovate alums, as well.

If you are global accounting and consulting group, KPMG, then the answer is "more than half."

Of the 50 companies recognized by KPMG in its 2014 review of top fintech innovators, 27 have demoed their technologies at Finovate conferences. And of that 27, 13 have won Best of Show at least once.

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The inaugural "50 Best Fintech Innovators" report is a joint venture between AWI Ventures KPMG Australia and the Financial Services Council (FSC). 

The companies chosen were selected based on four factors: total capital raised, rate of capital raising, degree of sub industry disruption, and "degree of product, service, customer experience and business model innovation." 

Writing in an introduction to the report, AWI Limited CEO Ben Heap explained why fundraising played such a prominent part of the selection process.

"These assessment criteria reflect the fact that venture capital invested is a relevant measure of innovation which in turn fuels enduring competitive advantage," he wrote. 

"Venture capitalists seek this enduring competitive advantage over and above everything else."

Here's a breakdown of Finovate alums in the list, in order of appearance, along with links to their most recent demo video. Boldface indicates Best of Show winner.

"Ones to Watch" 
See the full list of companies here.

Alumni News-- December 18, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgFinovate Debuts: Knox Payments Leverages ACH to Reduce Payment Costs for Merchants.
  • Financial Times' Ian McKenna takes a look at his "gadget of the fortnight": True Potential Investor.
  • Wired.co.uk features digital fingerprinting technology from Trustev.
  • GoBank users now able to activate cards through banking app without starter kit.
  • FreeAgent expands Self Assessment filing to ease pain for SMEs.
  • Google Cloud Platform releasing SDK in Java for using Cloud Dataflow under an open-source license.
  • American Banker names online marketplace lending, such as Lending Club and Prosper, the innovation of the year.
  • InComm partners with Edenred UK, an employee benefits and solutions provider.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

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The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. At FinovateFall 2014, Knox Payments demoed its platform that leverages ACH to provide cheaper, more efficient payment options for merchants.

Knox Payments reduces interchange fees and cart abandonment with its cost-effective and fast checkout system.

The Stats
    • Founded in February 2014
    • Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia
    • Raised more than $1.5 million in funding
    • 25 employees
    • 70 customers
    • Thomas Eide (CEO) and Thomas Nicholas (President) are co-founders
Getting to Know Knox
Sometimes innovation is a matter of using old tools in new ways. That may be one way to think about the innovation Knox has created.

"We are reducing interchange costs by doing bank payments via ACH," explained Thomas Nicholas during a pre-FinovateFall 2014 conversation. Running payments through ACH has been possible conceptually, he adds. But until Knox's technology, the process was too cumbersome.

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"We get rid of barriers," Nicholas added. "Routing numbers, account numbers, verifications, and the wait time. We eliminate all that." The goal is to give merchants a payment system that is fast and efficient, lowers costs, and maintains a high level of security. All for 18 cents for payments more than $2. Transactions for less than $2 are free.

One interesting aspect of Knox is that while the process cuts the card companies out of the picture, the use of ACH means that banks are front and center. Nicholas explained that one big issue is that consumers make credit card payments, but banks never have access to key e-commerce data embedded in those transactions. Knox changes that, by "bringing transactions back to the banks." They use the example of the technology deployed as part of a banking app and helping to increase customer engagement and loyalty as the app becomes a shopping tool. "Banks are going to be powering payments going forward," Nicholas said.

The Technology
Onboarding with Knox is a four-step process. Find and choose your bank from the list of currently supported FIs (23 banks supported as of this writing). Then login using the same login credentials you use with your online bank account and choose the specific account, checking or savings, to be used and the merchant is ready to begin processing payments

"Usually signing up to accept payments is a really painful process," Nicholas said from the Finovate stage this fall. But with Knox we do it in a couple of minutes with just a couple of steps."

Knox_AB.jpg
Knox can also be used to quickly and cheaply fund accounts and digital wallets. The company's partnership with Forex.com (more on that below) will make it much easier for traders and investors on the foreign exchange trading platform add funds to their trading accounts. 

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Where Knox's technology shines is the way it negotiates the typical three to four-day payment lag in ACH transactions. Knox conducts a real-time balance check to assure funds are present, which allows it to provide next-day funding to the payee. "Knox is the only alternative to the credit card network that will actually underwrite transactions instantly for half a percent and 18 cents," Nicholas said.

The Future
There are 23 banks integrated right now - all US-based. But the company expects that number to grow into the hundreds soon. The technology itself is "very portable." Compliance and regulation remain the main barriers to speedier expansion. 

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(Above: Knox Payments President and Co-Founder, Thomas Nicholas demoing at FinovateFall 2014)

Many of the company's earliest successes have been with currency-related companies - from forex brokerages to digital currency platforms. Knox announced a partnership to power the funding of trading accounts at forex broker Forex.com. With funding by credit card soon to be banned on forex platforms, and other funding options too slow and/or expensive, this service will be a time and money savings for FX traders.

Knox is also working with digital currencies. Many payment processors can't risk-rate digital currencies, Nicholas said. But Knox's platform is "robust enough" to do the risk rating. To this end, Knox announced in October that it had formed a partnership with payment processor, Vogogo, that will make it easier its U.S. digital currency clients to accept payments from U.S. bank accounts. And a December agreement with ChangeTip will enable instant Bitcoin payments via ACH.

As Knox sees it, businesses love credit cards because people know how to use them and the funds are guaranteed. Businesses love ACH because it's cheap. Knox takes what merchants love about cards and what they love about ACH and, with some of their own innovations added in, have created a compelling alternative, especially for digital currencies working their way into the mainstream. 



Watch Knox Payments demo its platform at FinovateFall 2014.
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Small business lending innovator OnDeck became a publicly traded company today, raising $200 million in an offering that valued the company at $1.3 billion.

And like Lending Club, which launched its IPO last week, OnDeck saw its stock price above its anticipated range. Initially set for $16-18, shares of ONDK opened Wednesday morning on the New York Stock Exchange at $26.50 and traded as high as $28 by midday.

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OnDeck was founded in 2006 and specializes in providing loans to small businesses that are typically underserved by traditional lenders. What makes OnDeck unique is twofold: first, the company believes its proprietary methods do a better and faster job of identifying true creditworthiness than methods used historically by financial institutions. Second, OnDeck's lending capital comes from lines of credit secured from banks, as well as securization of its loan book.

We shared some interesting metrics on OnDeck in November when the company announced its IPO plans. Additionally, OnDeck's loan originations have grown at a compound AGR of 127% from 2011 to 2013, and the company has experienced year-over-year growth of 171% in the first nine months of 2014. OnDeck has originated more than $1.7 billion in loans since inception in 2007.

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Coming on the heels of the Lending Club IPO, OnDeck public debut is putting a spotlight on the variety of fintech innovation being brought to market. And while increased scrutiny from investors and analysts will present challenges, it will also provide an opportunity to stimulate greater attention, interest and investment in the industry.

Interviewed Wednesday morning on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street", OnDeck CEO Noah Breslow said, "It's a signature moment for financial technology. Public market investors have had no real way to invest in the disruption that's happening in banking. We think that both the Lending Club IPO and the OnDeck IPO represent in consumer and small business the two leaders in those respective markets."

Lead underwriters of the offering were Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Jeffries, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley. Based in New York, OnDeck was last on the Finovate stage in 2012 for FinovateSpring where it demoed its OnDeck Connect technology. This fall, the company participated in the inaugural FinDEVr conference in San Francisco, presenting its lending APIs.

Alumni News-- December 17, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgThe Jerusalem Post profiles Israeli startup, TipRanks.
  • CashStar Market Solution is now powering 150 promotions during this year's winter holiday season.
  • Enterprising Investor highlights Betterment, LearnVest, Motif Investing, Venmo, and Wealthfront in its column on Millennials and money.
  • TechZone 360 discusses CrowdFlower in a review of "What's Hot and What's Not on Data Science for 2015."
  • Yahoo! Finance features an interview with Rippleshot co-founder and CPO Yueyu Fu.
  • WingCash unveils Brand Cash, a digital currency that replaces merchant-specific gift and loyalty cards.
  • Financial Times profiles Betterment CEO and co-founder, Jon Stein.
  • After Manilla's demise, Mint launches bill pay and bill management platform.
  • Time, Inc partners with Coinbase to accept bitcoin for subscriptions to Fortune, Health, This Old House and Travel + Leisure.
  • Tradeshift to waive 30% revenue share from organizations that build apps to support the circular economy http://bit.ly/13cY6S6
  • Wealth Management looks at the human advisors behind Personal Capital and SigFig.
  • Money Talks News lists alternative lending sites to consider: Prosper, Lending Club, and Kabbage.
  • ID Analytics names Timothy Laughlin as new CFO.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. Today's feature is EyeLock, which demonstrated its myris eye scanning device at FinovateFall 2014.

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EyeLock links a user's password to their iris template, enabling them to log into their computer, websites, and applications by scanning their iris on the myris device.

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Stats

    • Headquartered in New York, NY
    • Founded 2006
    • Device cost: $280
    • Chance of a false iris match is 1 in 1.5 million

The device
myris is an iris-scanning device that plugs into the USB port on a user's computer and authenticates them by taking a video of their iris. EyeLock associates the iris template with a long and complex password.

Upon first setting up their account on the device, users generate their unique iris ID, then select operating systems, websites, and applications they'd like to log into using myris. From then on, all they need to do to log into those sites is glance at the myris device.

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EyeLock sells myris through different channels:

    • Directly to consumers (see Best Buy screenshot below)
    • To businesses for commercial use

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Use cases
With the myris application on their computer, combined with the hand-held device, users manage login permissions for myris, as well as multiple users for a single account.

  • Sites, applications, and operating system
With the Sites tab, users scan their iris to log in automatically to websites such as Facebook and PayPal. The Applications tab enables users to securely log into applications such as Skype and Spotify, while the Operating System tab lets users opt to log into their computer using myris. EyeLock supports Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

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  • Startup and settings

With the Startup tab, the user selects which sites and applications to launch automatically upon turning on their computer. This Autolaunch feature lets users select any number of sites they would like to open simultaneously after authenticating themselves with myris.

The Settings tab is exactly what it sounds like. Users download system updates, add and manage multiple user permissions for shared accounts, and view their account login history.

Settings.jpg

Benefits
Since the user's iris is always with them and is exclusively theirs, myris eliminates the risk associated with lost, stolen or shared login credentials and ID cards. Additionally, scanning an iris is faster than typing in a username and password.

In addition to the digital realm, eyeLock has products that authenticate users on a commercial level to allow access into physical barriers, such as restricted buildings or conference rooms. Check out Eyeswipe-Nano, Eyeswipe-Nano TS, nano NXT and HBOX

EyeLock demonstrated its myris authentication device at FinovateFall 2014.

mintlogo14.jpgIntuit's Mint launched Mint Bills, a bill pay and management platform today, along with a new logo and fresh identity. This comes months after Manilla shuttered, and after Intuit acquired Check (formerly Pageonce).

Similar to what you may expect, the Mint Bills web platform allows users to search for and set up billers based on their zip code. The bill pay capability reminds users about upcoming bills, enables them to pay bills, or schedule a payment for the future.

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The mobile app is a complete revamp of Check's former bill pay app. Not only is the design new, but the registration process has been simplified and new bill categories were added.

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Interestingly, for Mint users, the platform is separate from the legacy Mint PFM we've known and loved since 2006. Mint users need to create a new account for Mint Bills. Things are a bit easier for Check users, however, who login with their existing credentials.


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Mint Bills is available as an iOS and Android app, as well as on the web. 

Mint demonstrated at the very first Finovate in 2007.

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Omnichannel digital bank innovator D3 Banking will offer iPay Consumer Bill Pay, courtesy of a new agreement with ProfitStars.

D3 Banking CEO Mark Vipond sees the deal as a way to give financial institutions better control over both user experience and the data involved in money movement. In a statement, Vipond said that iPay Consumer Bill Pay will help his customers "optimize their brand positioning and value-added service offerings around transfers, bill pay and P2P payments."

Here's what iPay Consumer Bill Pay does:
    • Supports single or recurring payments
    • Enables bill pay from multiple accounts
    • Enables expedited payments
    • Enables P2P payments
    • Enables users to receive bills electronically
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D3 Banking specializes in an omnichannel approach to bring digital banking to financial institutions and their customers. The company's technology gives FIs the ability to provide a consistent, responsive experience for their customers whether they are on a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer.

Some metrics on D3 Banking:
    • Founded in 2007
    • Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska
    • Has more than 225 financial institutions in the U.S. using its technology
D3 Banking raised $7 million in venture funding in October, with reports that another $3 million was on the way. The company announced partnerships with Blackstone Technology and SHAZAM Network in June, and this spring demoed its digital services technology at FinovateSpring 2014 in San Jose.

Alumni News-- December 16, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgTop Image Systems announces closing "six-figure eFLOW5 deal" with leading Asia-Pacific bank.
  • ACCESSbank to deploy turnkey insurance agency courtesy of Insuritas.
  • Klarna payment solution now integrated into ekmPowershop.
  • D3 Banking partners with ProfitStars to offer iPay Consumer Bill Pay.
  • Pymnts interviews Jingit, Spreedly, and TSYS CEOs on what they think will make or break 2015.
  • Pymnts: PayPal Loan Program to Compete with Lending Club.
  • ShopKeep gives free NFC reader to new customers wanting to accept ApplePay.
  • Finovate Debuts: EyeLock's Myris Device Authenticates Using Iris Identification.
  • Arroweye Solutions to Provide Debit and Prepaid Card Production to DMS Bank & Trust Ltd. 
  • ZenPayroll now lets companies match employees' charitable donations.
  • Arxan Integrates With IBM Security AppScan and Trusteer Products.
  • Mint launches bill pay and management platform.
  • Entersekt Receives Honorable Mention in 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for User Authentication.
  • Interactions closes strategic deal to acquire AT&T Watson speech recognition and natural language understanding platform.
  • Consumer Reports features AnchorID, Betterment, Blooom, EverSafe, FutureAdvisor, iQuantifi, MaxMyInterest, and Wealthfront in its column, "Bright Ideas for a Prosperous 2015."
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. WingCash demoed its "cash in the cloud" mobile wallet technology at FinovateFall 2014 in New York this fall.

WingCash combines card payments and loyalty/gift value to provide a "cash in the cloud" mobile wallet solution.

The Stats
    • Founded in November 2009
    • Headquartered in Lehi, Utah
    • Privately funded
    • Bradley Wilkes is CEO and President
The Story
Bradley Wilkes and the team from WingCash are out to solve a simple problem: relieving consumers of the burden of managing and using paper and plastic cards. For Wilkes, these cards are both inefficient and inconvenient. They can be easily lost or left behind. "Extra cards require extra swipes and extra time at the point of sale," added Wilkes.

WingCash_homepage.jpg
That's not to say that cards have no value - similar to cash, which is likely to stock around despite industry disruptions, cards are here to stay. WingCash is saying that there is a way to take the best parts of cash - speed and safety - and the best parts of cards - convenience and added value - and combine them into a single payments solution.

The Technology
WingCash is a system of cloud-based wallets that hold payment cards, currency, and brand cash. Wilkes refers to it as "cash in the cloud tied to a payment card."

The payment card and currency aspects of the technology are straightforward. Brand cash is a technology that WingCash uses move move gift/loyalty card value from the plastic card to the app. And it is brand cash that eliminates the need for plastic gift and loyalty cards. All the value is on the app.

This way, WingCash provides a seamless transition from earning a reward, paying for an item or service, and having that reward instantly applied to the transaction. The technology also updates rewards automatically, to enable consumers to enjoy rewards or loyalty points from another transaction that was completed only minutes before.

WingCash_app1.jpg
To use WingCash, a consumer loads cards onto his WingCash wallet app: payment cards, gift cards, rewards and loyalty cards, and so on, including, for example, a $5 gift card from the local deli. All of this, including the $5 value from the gift card, appear in the app.

When it is time to pay, the customer hands the merchant one of the payment cards that is loaded on the app. When the card is swiped, the app will recognize that the customer has $5 in gift value (or brand cash) and ask if he wants it applied to the current transaction. If yes, the total amount due is adjust to reflect the subtracted gift card value, and all the customer has to do is sign when promoted and both transactions - the purchase and the application of the rewards points - are completed in a single swipe.

"We now have cloud-based gift and loyalty inside of a mobile app for consumers," Wilkes said. "It's a smart app so consumers don't have to do anything more than enroll a card."

Wingcash_FF2014stage.jpg
(Above: left to right: Bradley Wilkes, CEO & President; Steve Curtis, VP & Director, Sales; Vilash Poovala, CTO, Clip)

The Future
A large part of WingCash's future is now. The company recently announced a partnership with Clip, a payment processor and merchant acquirer based in San Francisco and Mexico City. One of the reasons why the Mexican market was selected had to do with the relative prominence of cash compared to cards. "Cash is a bigger deal," Wilkes said. "Card penetration isn't as high."

Vilash Poovala, co-founder and CTO of Clip, pointed to the specific way that WingCash connects all of the key pieces of the transaction: the rewards, the mobile app, and the merchant. "If a consumer adds a gift card to a mobile app, that doesn't solve for how that (app) will be accepted at the merchant," Poovala explained. "Plastic is ubiquitous and when you use your credit card, you should be able to tap into all of your gifts and rewards."

Going forward, more partnerships are the plan, especially with acquirers and processors. "If you're an acquirer or a processor and you would like to have a custom app that drives differentiation of acquiring merchant accounts, and connecting with consumers in your own custom app," Wilkes said. "I'd encourage you to come and see us."



Watch WingCash demonstrate its technology at FinovateFall 2014 in New York.

Alumni News-- December 15, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgSFGate column on the technology of mobile payments features thoughts from PayPal's Max Levchin and Loop's Will Graylin.
  • Stockpile teams up with Yodlee to provide Invest Your Change, Stock Purchasing and Gifting products.
  • American Banker takes a look at "post-IPO expectations" for newly-public Lending Club.
  • Golden Pacific Bank adds mobile remote deposit capture to its mobile banking offerings courtesy of Digital Insight.
  • National Association for Business Resources names Billhighway Best and Brightest Company to work for in 2014.
  • Time asks: What is Venmo?
  • Nine of the 15 fintech startups Forbes recommends watching in 2015 are Finovate and FinDEVr alums.
  • eWeek reports on Arxan Technology's mobile Runtime App Self Protection (RASP) enhancements.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. Today's feature is TickSimth, which demonstrated TickVault and FixVault big data platforms at FinovateFall 2014.

TickSmithLogoNew.jpg

TickSmith's big data platforms, TickVault and FixVault help brokerage and trading companies make sense of their massive amounts of financial data.

The Montreal-based company works with Six Financial to gather data on every trade, quote, instrument, and exchange globally. A single day of trading includes a few billion trade messages; TickSmith holds 6 years of this data and turns it into useable information.

TickSmithHomepage.jpg

Stats

    • Founded November 2012
    • Over a petabyte* in financial data under management

The current process financial institutions have for managing their data is slow, costly, and takes a lot of time to set up. FixVault and TickVault provide a system for stock exchanges, brokerage firms, and regulators to manage their large amounts of data.

Use cases

1) Data on exchanges
Users select which exchange they would like access to, along with the date of trades. Chi-X Canada, an ETF exchange, uses TickSmith to provide customers access to historical tick and order book trading information dating back to 2009.

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2) News access
Users filter and search the accumulation of 3 years of global news (1.2 billion headlines) and social media posts.

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3) Compliance
TickSmith takes in hundreds of millions of trade messages daily. In the compliance section, users generate analytical reports from the data to find transactions from across the globe.

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Benefits

TickSmith offers institutions easy access to all of their data, regardless of the amount. This eliminates the need for a manual process to extract specific data, which can take weeks or months.

It also provides the ability to extract meaning and value from the data, no matter how large or small. In seconds, it deciphers trends and computes reports for individual customers.

The services are available on the web interface or via an API, as either cloud-based or a managed offering for hedge funds, exchanges, brokerage firms, and other financial institutions.

To check out the live demo, watch the FinovateFall 2014 video.


*For a better understanding of how large a petabyte is, the Financial Times offers this video.

Alumni News-- December 12, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgQuantopian to offer fundamental equity data from Morningstar.
  • MicroStrategy to provide analytics solution to help developers build biometrical secured analytics solutions.
  • Banking Technology takes a look at the relationship between BBVA Compass and Dwolla.
  • Cointelegraph interviews AlphaPoint CEO Vadim Telyatnikov. See AlphaPoint at FinovateEurope 2015 in London.
  • Sedicii wins EY Startup Challenge. Come see them at FinovateEurope in February.
  • Forbes interviews Jacob Hansen, CrowdCurity co-founder.
  • Lifehacker awards Google Cloud with best cloud computing provider of 2014.
  • Check out the Finovate and FinDEVr alums listed in Currency Cloud's list of hottest fintech companies.
  • FreeAgent selected by Lloyds Banking Group for new SME toolbox.
  • In 2014, VerifyValid eChecks delivered $370+ mil in payments to 100k+ payees, an increase of 20k registered users.
  • Finovate Debuts: TickSmith's TickVault and FixVault Help FIs Put Their Big Data to Use.
  • Place2Give partners with Give A Mile to help them process cash donations.
  • VentureBeat interviews AppAnnie CEO, Bertrand Schmitt.
  • Apple Store Online Now Accepts PayPal In U.S. And U.K.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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P2P lending innovator Lending Club made its public debut on Thursday. After an initial overnight pricing at $15, shares of LC opened higher this morning by more than 64% before finishing their first day on the New York Stock Exchange at $23.43.

The 57 million share offering raised more than $865 million for the San Francisco-based alternative lender, which now has a valuation of more than $8 billion. Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche, CEO and founder of the company, owns 4% of the company, a stake worth more than $200 million as of today's close.

Lead underwriters for the IPO were JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Credit Suisse.

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Lending Club's growth since its founding in 2007 has been impressive. Operating revenues grew from $1.3 million to $98 million in the four years from 2009 to 2013. In the first nine months of 2014, Lending Club's net revenues climbed to $143 million, more than double last year's mark. Since its founding, Lending Club has financed more than $6 billion in loans and investors on the platform have earned more than $590 million in interest.

Here are a few more metrics for Lending Club:
    • Average customer FICO credit score: 660
    • Average interest rate is 14%
    • Maximum loan amount is $35,000
    • Terms typically range from 3-5 years
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(Above: Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche on CNBC)

One of the under-discussed aspects of Lending Club's decision to become a public company is the fact that the platform will be available to a significantly larger number of Americans. Previously, access to Lending Club was a patchwork quilt of differing state regulations, with some states allowing borrowing from the service but not investing and others having the exact  opposite regulation (investing, but no borrowing). And there were some states were the service was not available at all. As a public company under federal regulations, Lending Club can operate in any state.

Another interesting theme of the Lending Club IPO is the way it will be seen as a test of the public investor's appetite for what Mad Money's Jim Cramer referred to as "crowdsourced lending" in his discussion of the company. Alternative lender OnDeck, which specializes in small business lending, is scheduled to go public within days in an effort to raise between $150 and $180 million. Others see the Lending Club IPO as potential validation of broader interest in fintech innovators as a whole.

Lending Club demoed its technology as part of the inaugural Finovate conference in 2007 and again in 2009 for Finovate Startup. Read our CEO interview with Renaud Laplanche.

Alumni News-- December 11, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgMalauzai Software announces launch of its SmartMarketing program to promote mobile banking.
  • Azimo extends £1 money transfer service to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
  • Information Week takes a look at mobile payment apps including Flint.
  • Mortgage Harmony rebrands as Rate Reset.
  • Contact Solutions, IDology, and Pindrop Security team up to Cut IVR Fraud.
  • Examiner.com: Dynamics' next-generation credit card features buttons to log-in PIN security code.
  • Lendio CEO explains how his company is fueling the American dream.
  • Prosper comments on Lending Club IPO, expects to top $9 billion in loans this year.
  • PayNearMe partners with Department of Health and Human Services to spread the word about healthcare.
  • Bluefin Payment Systems to provide its PCI-validated Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) Solution to Priority Payment clients.
  • Career Bliss lists PayPal, Intuit, and Google in the top 50 happiest companies in the U.S.
  • Lending Club launches IPO, shares rally 70% in early trading.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. At FinovateFall 2014, eMoney Advisor demoed its EMX platform, an upgraded version of their wealth-planning system for financial advisors.

The Stats

    • Founded in 2000
    • Headquartered in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania
    • Aggregates more than $1 trillion in client assets over more than 875,000 accounts
    • Clients include TD Ameritrade, RBC Wealth Management, New York Life, and LPL Financial
    • Works with 46 of the top 50 broker dealers
    • Edmond Walters is CEO and founder
The Story
Kyle Wharton, who handles Business Development for eMoney Advisor, explained the key differentiator between his company's technology and the world of robo-advisors this way: 

"There are a lot of companies that are trying to disintermediate the advisor," said Wharton. "We are trying to empower the advisor."

The more you learn about eMoney Advisor, the more you realize how much automation is making investment advice easier to produce by advisors and more accessible to clients. You also realize that there is still a role for human advisors, especially when equipped with a new generation of technical tools that can help them do their jobs better.

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eMoney Advisor was founded by Edmond Walters, a veteran financial advisor. His initial idea was to build a personal financial management tool that could be used with clients. But as the project developed, and he began to take feedback, it became clear that the project had a much larger, broader destiny than PFM.

"PFM was probably too early," Wharton explained. "There was a niche need among clients. But the need was not very strong." Instead, issues like insurance and wealth planning loomed larger as concerns for a broader base of clients.

To this end, eMoney's demo at FinovateFall was, as Wharton calls it, "both a rebirth and rebranding" of the platform. The new platform, EMX ("the eMoney Experience"), introduced in New York last fall is due out in mid-December.

The Technology
In building the new platform, the company focused on leveraging third-party integrations and ensuring ease of use. The goal is to help financial advisors serve their clients and build better relationships based on collaboration and transparency. To this end much of the functionality in EMX is geared toward promoting interactivity. This includes screen sharing features, an easy-to-read interface, and a client portal that an advisor's clients can access at any time to view or print a report on their finances.

Below shows the main interface, providing at a glance information on assets under management, client non-held accounts, top holdings by net value change for the day, and more. The page also features a Financial Feed - "a Facebook or Twitter feed for your book of business" - that provides advisors with everything from alerts, alarms, tasks, and news. eMoney Advisor is working to include data feeds from sources like MorningStar, which will help advisors, for example, see and understand how an upcoming earnings release from Microsoft may impact his or her client's holdings.

eMoneyAdvisor_FF2014stage1.jpg

The platform has a number of portals that allow financial advisors to quickly see a client's net worth, investments, asset allocation and more. The platform lets advisors run reports including ad hoc performance reports, and includes 200 predesigned reports that are updated nightly. A Facts Portal allows for speedy onboarding, whether the advisor is working solo or with a client present. The platform has both a presentation mode and screen sharing functionality to make it easy for advisors and their clients to collaborate.

The Plans Portal, according to Wharton, is where the advisor can "show off." This analytics section gives the advisor the ability to run simulations, adding and exchanging different financial scenarios to see what net effect different financial assumptions have on the overall financial picture. The platform also has an online storage vault for keeping financial plans and records.

eMoneyAdvisor_FF2014stage3.jpg

Another way of appreciating the collaborative, transparency-focus on the new platform from eMoney Advisor is via the Client Portal. This shows account information, net worth, investments, insurance, budgets, spending ... everything from wealth management to the most basic personal finance management features are here. In addition to providing a lot of transparency for clients, advisors can also take advantage of the portal to conduct tasks like aggregating held-away accounts. 

Analytics are the other key feature in EMX. Typically, advisors have to work with more than one program in order to compile the analytic data on their clients. EMX gives the data back to the advisor in a way that is easy to read, understand, and act on. Seeing assets by account type, or clients by age group, or ratios between managed and held away accounts can give advisors insights into their advisory business that might otherwise be difficult to see. And all of this contributes toward the goal of helping advisors leverage technology to help people more efficiently.

"It's really mixing the art and the science," said Kyle Wharton from the Finovate stage last fall. "It's the value of the financial advisor, the expertise of that financial advisor, the knowledge of that financial advisor mixed in with our technology.

The Future
eMoney Advisor looks to help financial advisors not just use technology, but use technology differently, through interactive planning tools, screen sharing functionality, and similar features. "It's about coaching and validation," he explained. "You need a human being to ask 'What do YOU think about this.'"

eMoneyAdvisor_FF2014Stage2.jpg
(Above: Kyle Wharton, Business Development, right, and Chad Porche, Development)

So far so good. The company partnered with HiddenLevers, a portfolio stress testing platform, in November. And also that month announced that it has surpassed $1.4 trillion in investable assets managed by the 25,000 financial professionals using the platform. All of this is strong momentum leading up to the official launch of eMoney Advisor's EMX platform in December.

"What eMoney does better than any other software on the market is make the advisor/client relationship collaborative, transparent and efficient," said founder and CEO Walters in a recent statement. "Not only does this provide eMoney with an opportunity for sustained long-term growth, it also positions advisors and their clients for greater success in the future."



Watch eMoney Advisor demonstrate EMX at FinovateFall 2014.

eToro Raises $27 Million in New Funding

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In a round led by Chinese venture capital firm, Ping An Ventures, and SBT Venture Capital, social trading and investment network eToro has raised $27 million in new financing.

The funding takes eToro's total capital to more than $60 million. Existing investors BRM Group and Spark Capital were also involved in the round.

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eToro CEO Yoni Assia pointed to the "deep industry knowledge" as one of the non-monetary benefits of the new investment. "We share a vision to empower retail investors all over the world to trade and invest in a social and transparent way."

Mircea Mihaescu, managing partner of SBT Venture Capital, agrees with Assia's optimism when it comes to social investing, suggesting that it is "part of a revolution started by eToro." "eToro has become synonymous with financial innovation among members of Gen Y all over the world," Mihaescu added.

The capital will help eToro accelerate expansion plans, particularly to new regions like China and Russia. SBT Venture Capital's main partner is Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia and the third largest in Europe.

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(Above: eToro CEO Yoni Assia demoing at FinovateFall 2012 in New York.)

eToro has four million registered users in more than 140 countries using its trading and investing platform. The company's social trading approach allows users to leverage the knowledge, talent, and experience of the network's best traders and investors, while encouraging investing transparency, education, and even enjoyment.

Recent news from the company includes the addition of native sharing to its update to OpenBook for Android in October, having brought a new iOS version of the platform to market in July. In June, eToro joined four other Finovate alums on FN's 40 Fintech Leaders list.

eToro (FinovateFall 2012) is based in Limassol, Cyprus, with a corporate office in London. The company was founded in 2007. 

Alumni News-- December 10, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgNCR to sell new mobile imaging solutions from Mitek.
  • Backbase teams up with Accenture to help FIs improve customer engagement through digital channels.
  • Dwolla announces role as payment partner for Microsoft for Government initiative.
  • Australia-based ME Bank deploys core banking system, business intelligence, and anti-money laundering solutions from Temenos.
  • MasterCard launches MasterPass in France and Russia.
  • Finovate Debuts: eMoney Advisor Provides Financial Advisors with a Suite of New Planning Tools.
  • Independent Financial Advisor takes a look at Motif Investing and Wealthfront.
  • Xero reaches 400,000 paying customers.
  • Entersekt responds to FIDO Alliance's U2F specifications with its FIDO U2F-enabled authentication solution, Transakt.
  • Fintech for the Rest of Us blog mentions PayStand over PayPal and Stripe for bitcoin payments.
  • PayItSimple integrates with 30 more payment gateways in collaboration with Spreedly now integrated with approximately 70% of all gateways in the US.
  • Payfone and Early Warning partner on mobile authentication. 
  • Marlborough Savings Bank now offers Kasasa to enhance checking account offering.
  • Spend Matters reports: Receivables Exchange the largest of the Online Invoice Auction Exchanges.
  • Arxan announces enhanced mobile runtime app self protection (RASP) capabilities.
  • Lendio named One of Utah's Best Companies to Work For in 2014.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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In the past few years, we've witnessed the evolution of security beyond usernames and passwords. Founded in 2009, BehavioSec is one of the forerunners of this trend; making security invisible to the end user.

Today, the Swedish company announced $6.2 million (€5 million) round led by Northzone and Octopus Investments. Existing investors, Conor Venture Partners and Partner Invest Norr, also contributed.

A 2011 installment of $500k and a 2008 round of $1.2 million bring BehavioSec's total funding to almost $8 million.

BehavioSec plans to use the funds to:

    • Accelerate international growth
    • Expand presence in the U.K. and U.S.
    • Support existing clients
    • Invest further in existing products
BehavioSec3.jpg

The uptick in recent security hacks has brought about increased approval for the use of biometrics. From Apple's TouchID to Nymi's Nymi Band, companies and customers are growing accustomed to using physical assets for authentication. BehavioSec takes a slightly different approach. Instead of authenticating using a person's physical attributes, it verifies an identity by passively observing how they interact with their device.

This week, BehavioSec welcomes three new board members: Simon Andrews of Octopus, Bjorn Stray of Northzone and Chris Barchak of Conor Venture Partners.

BehavioSec has won awards most recently at FinovateEurope 2014 and FinDEVr. It has won Best of Show at FinovateAsia 2013 and FinovateSpring 2012.

Alumni News-- December 9, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgCachet Financial Solutions to offer Mitek's Mobile Photo Account Opening SaaS suite.
  • CrowdFlower CEO Lukas Biewald writes personally about the relationship between startups and their boards of directors.
  • Investor Junkie reviews roboadvisor, iQuantifi.
  • Knox Payments partners with ChangeTip to support bitcoin transaction via ACH.
  • Yodlee introduces transaction data enrichment service.
  • Fox News compares funding of Wealthfront, Personal Capital, Betterment, and SigFig.
  • Blackhawk Network's closed loop gift cards available at some USPS locations.
  • VentureBeat: App Annie now tracks stats from Windows and Windows Phone stores.
  • SecondMarket wins 48,000 Bitcoin in U.S. Marshals auction.
  • Actiance extends security capabilities to email.
  • TechCrunch: Trustev Uses Fraud Detection Software to Crack Down on Internet Trolls.
  • Dashlane launches one-click password changer.
  • BehavioSec Lands $6 Million Led by Northzone and Octopus Investments.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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"There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?"

--Walter Brooke, The Graduate

Dynamics announced today that it had completed a Series C investment round, raising $70 million from new and existing investors. Along with MasterCard is new investor, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, both of which teamed up with existing investors, Adams Capital Management and Bain Capital Ventures. 

The total capital for Dynamics is now more than $110 million.

In addition to the investment, MasterCard will enter a joint commercial initiative with Dynamics to bring the company's cards to businesses in Mastercard's global payments network as well as CIBC's customers. 

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It is interesting to hear the way MasterCard and CIBC executives talk about the card technology from Dynamics. For these companies, as far as commerce is concerned, plastic cards and smart devices have more in common than some may think.

Carlos Menendez, group executive for global credit and debit products for MasterCard talked about the importance of turning "every device" into a "commerce device." "This not only includes a shift to mobile-based payments but also a move from 'static' plastic to 'dynamic' interactive payment cards and systems," he said. A senior executive with CIBC added that the partnership with Dynamics was "already having a positive impact."

What makes Dynamics unique is the fact that the company is the definition of a one-stop shop. As CEO Jeff Mullen explained from the stage at FinovateFall 2014 in New York last September: "We have the only facility in payments that actually does device design, device manufacturing, PCI compliant network-certified processing personalization fulfillment all under one roof."

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(Above: Jeff Mullen, CEO of Dynamics at FinovateFall 2014)

"And when you can do it all under one roof," he said. "You start to see things, and it allows you to really take innovation to the next level."

Dynamics innovations have included a battery-powered card that enabled consumers to change the data stored on their EMV chip simply by pushing buttons on the card itself, a system that provides loyalty rewards on credit transactions faster by using the credit transaction data itself and, most recently, the first multi-network card that combines both innovations.

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dynamics has won multiple Best of Show awards for its card technology. The company's last Finovate appearance was at FinovateFall 2014 in New York.

Alumni News-- December 8, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgFifth Third Bank chooses FIS' C2P Open Payments Platform.
  • Azimo announces £1 instant money transfers to 15 countries in Latin America.
  • Mobile Payments Today takes a look at the mobile checkbook app from VerifyValid.
  • WePay picks Google Cloud Platform as its new hosting provider.
  • VentureBeat features Nymi as a physical password solution.
  •  TSYS recognized in The Civic 50, an initiative that recognizes companies for improving the quality of life in their communities.
  • OnDeck ranked 21 on Crain's NY Business Best Places to Work 2014.
  • Huffington Post interviews OnDeck's Andrea Gellert.
  • TD Ameritrade has the #1 trading app in the Apple app store.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. Today's feature is SAS Games, which demonstrated its TiViTz College $avings Game-a-thon at FinovateFall 2014.

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SAS Games' TiViTz College $avings Game-a-thon offers a way for kids to save for college tuition by playing fun, math-based games.

The game-a-thon works similar to a walk-a-thon. Kids ages 6 to 18 solicit pledges from friends and family, whose total contribution is based on the child's performance. To redeem the pledges and add the money to their college savings account, the child is challenged with TiVitz math games online.

Aside from bolstering funds in existing accounts, the games encourage families without a college savings fund to open one.

Stats:

    • $5+ million in funding raised
    • 10 employees
    • 10,000 teachers use TiVitz
    • 400,000 children use TiVitz
    • TiVitz game has won awards from:
      • Parent's Choice
      • Dr. Toy
      • National Parenting
      • Creative Child

How it works:

1) Kids set up their TiViTz account online
The registration process requires student and parent information, along with a $10 annual registration fee.

2) Link an existing college savings account or establish a new one
Through SAS Games' partnership with TrustEgg, parents of children without a savings account can open one in minutes (watch TrustEgg's debut at FinovateSpring 2013).

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3) Request pledges from friends and family
Kids set up their own personalized pledge page and send the link to friends and family. They may also send donation requests via email, text, social media, and printed flyers.

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4) Play the game
In the TiVitz game, kids challenge each other or a computer. The difficulty of the game scales for grade levels 1 to 12.

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Players customize their avatar and choose among 7 themes, such as Safari or Baseball. Once the game has ended, they tally their score by computing the equations on the board.

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5) Collect pledges
When the child finishes the required number of games, TiVitz automatically invoices the friends and family members who pledged. Occasionally, companies and financial institutions match donations to help kids reach their goals faster.

6) Track college savings
The dashboard displays the total amount raised from friends and family, along with matched charity contributions. From the home screen, kids can personalize their pledge page, view the number of pledges requested and received, and more.

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The TiVitz online Game-a-thon is held once a year, around the holidays. Kids play 5 to 16 games each, depending on the amount of their pledges. Other activities around the TiVitz game include:

  • TiVitz Tournaments
    Boeing, Lockheed, NASA, National Hockey League, SeaWorld, and Major League Baseball sponsor tournaments where kids win college scholarships
  • TiVitz Tuesdays
    SAS Games is partnered with McDonald's in Florida which hosts kids every Tuesday to practice for TiVitz tournaments

Benefits

For families and children:

    • Encourages them to open a new savings account
    • Helps them save more money for college
    • Augments math and critical thinking skills

For banks:

    • Provides access to new clients
    • Has potential to add new savings accounts for existing customers
    • Adds more funds to existing savings accounts
    • Enhances Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) efforts in local communities

SAS Games demonstrated its TiVitz College $avings Game-a-thon at FinovateFall 2014.

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You met them as IT Sector Group. Now say hello to the company's very own multichannel banking solution provider, ebankIT.

ebankIT was created in January 2014 by IT Sector Group, just weeks before its FinovateEurope debut. The mission? Building truly multichannel banking solutions that embrace trends both social (a Facebook banking app) and technological (Internet banking for Google Glass). And it will be interesting to see just how far they've come when they return to the Finovate stage in February.
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"Our presentation at FinovateEurope 2015 aims to maximize the interaction of financial institutions and clients by extending the concept of omnichannel and social banking," said ebankIT Marketing and Communications Director, Lis Ferreira. In a conversation a few days ago, Ferreira highlighted the company's initiatives over the past several months. Specifically, she pointed to the launch of the first Portuguese banking app for Google Glass, released last month by Banco Big. And in October, the release of PIM - Personal Investment Manager, a mobile trading app for stocks and other financial instruments.


At the same time, the company has picked up a number of clients, including financial institutions in Poland, Mozambique, and Angola.
    • Activo Bank
    • Atlantico (Lisboa)
    • Caixa Geral de Depositos (Portugal)
    • Millennium Bank (Poland)
    • Millennium BIM (Mozambique)
    • Standard Bank (Mozambique)
Specific deployments have varied. But each represents a step forward in engaging banking customers on their preferred channels. ebankIT's solutions include not just novel solutions for wearables and social banking, but self-service banking kiosks, contact centers, account management, branch front desk services, as well. The company also provides tools for financial professionals such as Commercial GPS (demoed at FinvoateEurope 2014), which makes it easier for sales executive to manage deals at the desk or on the go.

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(Above: IT Sector's Joao Pinto, Director, and Vitor Barros, IT Architect, demonstrating Commercial GPS)

Ferreira admits that many of the bigger banks can be "afraid to open up to new companies." But eBankIT has been fortunate in that clients have been proactive in contacting them. Additionally, there are some areas, such as the Iberian Peninsula and Eastern Europe, where interest is very high. Ferreira singled out Poland, where its solution for Millennium Bank was ranked as an "Internet banking leader" by Newsweek magazine, for especially high praise: "Polish bankers are some of the most eager of those looking for innovation. They are constantly changing. Whatever is new they want to have it." 

Fortunately, we won't have to wait long to find out what's new from ebankIT. The company will be demoing its latest technology at FinovateEurope 2015 February 10 & 11.
Apparently the cyber-monday excitement carried over into the fintech VC sector, as they pulled out their checkbooks in record amounts this week. Counting direct digital financial plays (AvantCredit and Atom Bank), $538 million in equity and $300 million in debt were raised the first week of December. 

Even without Avant and Atom, a $288 million in equity investments flowed in, the third highest week since we began tracking in August. That total included two Finovate alums: SocietyOne ($20 million) and iQauntify ($1 million). 

Fundings from Nov. 29 to Dec 5 by size of deal:

AvantCredit
Direct online lender
Latest round: $525 million ($225 million equity, $300 million debt)
Total funding: $1.03 billion ($334 million equity, $700 million debt)
Tags: Credit, underwriting, lending, sub-prime, near-prime, alt-lending, Chicago, Illinois
Source: Crunchbase

Financing online purchases in China
Latest round: $100 million
Total raised: $100+ million
Tags: Credit, payments, underwriting, lending, POS, Bejing, China
Source: Crunchbase

Stripe
Easy-to-embed online payment processing
Latest round: $70 million (at $3.5 bil valuation)
Total funding: $190 million
Tags: payments, API, programmable web, YC, processing, SMB, mobile, San Francisco, California
Source: Crunchbase

Chinese wealth and investment management
Latest round: $50 million
Total raised: $60 million
Tags: Investing, wealth management, personal finance, Hangzou, China
Source: FT Partners

All-digital UK banking startup
Latest round: $31 million
Total funding: $31 million
Tags: Bank, mobile, Durham, UK 
Source: FT Partners

SocietyOne
Australian marketplace lending platform
Latest round: $20 million
Total funding: $28.5 million
Tags: P2P lending, peer-to-peer, credit, underwriting, investing, marketplace, Sydney, Australia, Finovate alum
Source: Finovate

Equity crowdfunding marketplace
Latest round: $7.8 million
Total funding: $19.7 million
Tags: Investing, P2P, SMB, marketplace, Exeter, UK
Source: FT Partners

MarketInvoice
Peer-to-peer lending against accounts receivables
Latest round: $7.5 million
Total funding: $10 million
Tags: Crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, P2P, London, UK
Source: Crunchbase

BorrowWell
Canadian online lender
Latest round: $5.4 million
Total funding: $5.4 million
Tags: Lending, credit, underwriting, direct, Toronto, Canada
Source: Crunchbase

Veri-Tax
Ability-to-pay verification system
Latest round: $5 million
Total funding: $5 million
Tags: Credit, underwriting, ID verification, mortgage, compliance, Irvine, California
Source: Crunchbase

SmartVault
Secure storage solutions for the accounting industry
Latest round: $4.5 million
Total funding: $4.5+ million
Tags: Accounting, storage, virtual safe deposit, SMB, Houston, Texas
Source: Crunchbase

ChangeTip
Micropayment system
Latest round: $3.5 million
Total funding: $4.3 million
Tags: Payments, mobile, Bitcoin, Twitter, social, San Francisco, California
Source: Crunchbase

LandBay
Crowdfunding platform for investment properties 
Latest round: $2.4 million
Total funding: $2.9 million
Tags: P2P, peer-to-peer, lending, secured, mortgage, investing, rentals, crowdfunding, London, UK
Source: Crunchbase

Shift Technology
Fraud tools for insurance and ecommerce
Latest round: $1.8 million
Total funding: $1.8 million
Tags: Fraud, security, insurance, ecommerce, Paris, France
Source: Crunchbase

iPad point-of-sale system
Latest round: $1.2 million (grant)
Total funding: $115 million
Tags: Payments, mobile, POS, point-of-sale, merchants, SMB, San Francisco, California
Source: Crunchbase

iQuantify
Personalized financial advice
Latest round: $1 million
Total funding: $3.6 million
Tags: PFM, money management, investing, goals, Franklin, Tennessee, Finovate alum
Source: Finovate

AltPay
Mobile payments
Latest round: $1 million
Total funding: $1 million
Tags: mobile, payments, processing, merchants, SMB, Hollywood, Florida
Source: Crunchbase

BitGold
Bitcoin and precious metals exchange
Latest round: $700,000
Total funding: $1.7 million
Tags: Cryptocurrency, bitcoin, stored value, investing, Toronto, Canada
Source: Crunchbase

DigiByte
Decentralized payment network
Latest round: $250,000
Total funding: $250,000
Tags: Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, micropayments, Santa Monica, California
Source: Crunchbase

BaseVenture
Private placement platform for real estate investing
Latest round: $30,000
Total funding: $30,000
Tags: Wealth management, private placements, real estate, investing, San Francisco, California
Source: Crunchbase

Thumbnail image for MonitiseLogo2.jpgMonitise announced a deal with Virgin Money that will bring a host of mobile banking solutions to the UK-based retail bank.

Monitise Co-CEO Alastair Lukies said, "There are significant opportunities ahead for Virgin Money in the digital space. We're looking forward to supporting the bank across a number of exciting initiatives in its journey to transform the way consumers can manage their money."

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And by initiatives, Lukies means mobile. Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia specifically mentioned the importance of the mobile banking channel as a way of driving growth for her newly-public company. As part of the seven-year deal, Monitise will help the bank develop its own products and services leveraging Monitise solutions such as its Bank Anywhere account management app and Pay Anyone and Buy Anything P2P payment and e-commerce apps.

Dubbed "UK's Coolest Bank" this fall by The Centre for Brand Analysis, Virgin Money is a retail bank operating in the UK. With more than 2 million customers and £24 billion in assets, Virgin Money went public in mid-November, trading under the symbol "VM" on the London Stock Exchange. The bank was founded in 1995 by Sir Richard Branson, who owns 34% of the company after selling a 15% stake worth £70 million last month.

Monitise is one of the largest mobile banking, payment, and commerce solution providers. The company serves more than 350 financial institutions around the world, has 30 million users, and processes four billion mobile transactions a year worth $88 billion. 

Other recent Monitise news includes being named to the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 in November, which recognized the company's growth rate of 2,000% over the past five years. Monitise also formed a strategic partnership with Santander in September, and announced an expansion of its partnership with IBM in August. We profiled how Monitise was helping banks engage in e-commerce earlier this year.

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in London, Monitise is a charter Finovate alum, demoing at the inaugural event in 2007.

Alumni News-- December 5, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgGreater Fort Wayne Business Weekly takes a look at Allied Payment Network and PicturePay.
  • Capital Resorts announces collaboration with Access Development.
  • Bank of Georgia buys Georgian arm of Ukranian-based PrivatBank for $51 million USD.
  • Live Mint features BankBazaar in a column on financial product aggregators.
  • Huffington Post interviews Lisa Pearson, CMO of Bazaarvoice.
  • Dwolla releases new apps for Android, iOS, and Windows.
  • Finovate Debuts: SAS Games Helps Kids Save for College by Playing Games.
  • ThreatMetrix Protected 10 of the Top 20 Online Retailers Against Fraud During Cyber Week.
  • Segmint partners with fan and consumer engagement software company, Phizzle, to deliver 1-to-1 engagements.
  • Credit Karma transitions to the VantageScore 3.0 Score provided by TransUnion.
  • Muthoot Finance picks FIS for ATM managed services, video surveillance, and network connectivity and switching.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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Australian P2P lending company, SocietyOne, closed a Series B funding round this week. The amount is officially undisclosed, but according to the Australian Financial Review, the round totals $20 million ($25 million AUD). This new installment comes just 10 months after it closed an $8.5 million round.

Contributors to the new round include Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), News Corp Australia and Australian Capital Equity. Reinventure, the Westpac-funded venture capital manager that took a $5 million equity stake in SocietyOne in February, also helped furnish the round. Reinventure contributed another $5 million to this week's Series B round.

SocietyOneHomepage2.jpg

The funding comes amid the buzz surrounding Lending Club's IPO. The California-based company is expected to start trading on the NYSE next week at $10 to $12 per share valuing it at more than $4 billion (see our previous coverage here).

Lending Club's success bodes well for SocietyOne. James Packer, a representative from SocietyOne's new investors states, "We have seen first-hand the power of technology in reshaping the media industry and I am excited about the potential of technology, led by the team at SocietyOne, to help reshape the financial services industry in Australia."

SocietyOne's ClearMatch technology uses risk-based pricing to offer borrowers a rate that is up to 5% lower than bank loans. It debuted ClearMatch at FinovateAsia 2012 where it won Best of Show.

Alumni News-- December 4, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgIntelligent Environments awarded Fairbanking certification. See Intelligent Environments demo at FinovateEurope 2015 in February.
  • Xsolla partners with BitPay to bring bitcoin payments to gaming. See Xsolla at FinovateEurope in London.
  • MasterCard partners with Gates Foundation to launch innovation lab in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • App Annie unveils Audience Intelligence, a solution mobile app publishers can use to learn demographic data from users.
  • Access Development partners with Oklahoma Education Association.
  • Yueyu Fu, co-founder and CPO at Rippleshot interviewed at Benzinga Fintech Awards.
  • Intuit's Quickbook Online Accountant is now available in the U.S.
  • Ripple to plug its real-time settlement protocol into Earthport's payments hub.
  • Braintree is now rolling out its One Touch payment service outside the U.S.
  • eGift Card feature added to Wipit-powered Boost Mobile.
  • SocietyOne Closes Undisclosed Series B Funding Round.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. CrowdFlower won Best of Show in its Finovate debut last September at FinovateFall 2014. The company's platform automates the management of online data workers, making it easier and faster for data scientists to maintain quality control over both the process and the result.

CrowdFlower is a data-enrichment platform that enables data scientists to easily and accurately collect, clean, and label data from an online workforce.

The Stats
    • Founded in 2009
    • Headquartered in San Francisco, California
    • Raised $29 million in funding
    • Operates with more than 80 employees and more than 5 million contributors
    • Backed by investors including Bessemer Venture Partners and Trinity Ventures
    • Customers include Bloomberg, eBay, Intuit, LinkedIn, and Microsoft
    • Lukas Biewald is founder and CEO
The Story
The task of collecting, cleaning, and labeling the enormous amounts of data generated every day may seem like the kind of thankless task that rarely receives proper recognition.

So credit the attendees at September's FinovateFall for awarding CrowdFlower Best of Show honors.

Writing about CrowdFlower's win, Jon Ogden of Money Summit focused on the "crowd" part of CrowdFlower's innovation, saying the platform "represents the first time this many people have been put to work on a single crowdsourcing platform ... This means that tasks that used to be impossibly expensive (or just plain impossible) are now manageable."

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CrowdFlower is a platform that helps institutions and organizations manage online workforces easier and more accurately. Importantly, with CrowdFlower's "people-powered data" approach, human beings are very much a part of the data enrichment process. In those instances where algorithms are not yet capable of discerning subtle details in certain data - such as automobiles in satellite photos of shopping mall parking lots - human data workers remain crucial.

But what has been challenging historically has been finding non-cumbersome ways of managing these workers and their work. This is the problem that CrowdFlower solves.

"There are a few reasons why humans are still necessary," Tatiana Josephy, VP of Product explained. "There is the problem of low and high confidence data, for example. It's better for humans to handle low confidence data - a fuzzy image, for example - to fill in where computers fall down."

The data workers involved are typically stay-at-home moms or students, mostly citizens of the United States, India, the U.K., or Europe. And CrowdFlower gives companies the ability to reach these workers, wherever they are, and put their talents and abilities to use.

"What would you do with 100s of millions of workers on demand?" she asked.

The Technology
CrowdFlower was founded by data scientists who had worked with "messy data" at Yahoo for years and were looking for ways to outsource the labor. They found that the messiness of the data meant that upwards of 80% of their time was spent in the manual work of just labeling the data.

"Big data is nothing if you don't have clean data," Josephy said.

Rich data is how CrowdFlower conceptualizes what businesses really need. And the CrowdFlower platform lets organizations and institutions manage everything from task development and worker procurement to quality control and performance evaluation with a single, integrated solution. 

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The use cases for CrowdFlower are fascinating. One company uses the technology to handle the data derived from its satellite imaging of everything from ships docked in ports to oil in Saudi oil tanks in order to predict market price moves. Another company leverages the CrowdFlower platform to extract data from SEC documents - something algorithms still do unevenly. In both cases, all that the companies had to do was build the job on the CrowdFlower platform and then launch it to CrowdFlower's online workforce. 

One last use case. A client of CrowdFlower uses sentiment analysis on Twitter to conduct market intelligence. Within 24 hours of the announcement of Apple's iWatch, CrowdFlower's online workforce of 1,400 analyzed 27,000 tweets at a cost of $280 to the customer.

"Big data is millions of pixels and images. Rich data is the number of cars in parking lots," Josephy explained from the Finovate stage. "It's clean and complete data that you can actually use.
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Financial use cases range from reading the information on credit card statements (which is often incomplete or written in cryptic abbreviations), collecting and verifying merchant data, collecting data from SEC filings, and, as the company showed from the stage last fall, analyzing satellite imagery for business intelligence or market analysis.

And importantly, according to Josephy, the average business user is likely capable of using CrowdFlower. "You don't have to be an engineer," she said. "If you can understand Excel, then you have all the knowledge you need."

Typically the work done by CrowdFlower is done through outsourcing. But the company believes there are significant issues with outsourcing that make it a poor choice for many companies. Outsourcing is expensive and time-consuming. "Every time you need to collect new data, you reach out to your outsourcing vendor and you engage in weeks of back and forth about the job," Josephy said. "CrowdFlower is so much easier."

The Future
CrowdFlower is revamping the tool that allows clients to built the initial job, as well as improving quality control technology to support a broader set of uses cases. The goal is also to continue to develop the platform to enable it to complete more complex, "longer form" tasks, such as transcribing a half-hour video or long tax documents.

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(Above: Tatiana Josephy, VP of Product, and Seth Teicher, Head of Content and Business Development)

Meanwhile the company recently announced support for eight new languages - Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Russian, Turkish, and Vietnamese - and enhanced support for four others (French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish). Lukas Biewald, founder and CEO, said the new "Language Crowds" will "make it even faster for customers to get the high quality data they need."

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While so many innovations at the intersection of human labor and technology seem fraught with problems (see the debates over technologies like Kensho), CrowdFlower shows how critical human work is when collecting data, as well as how technology can help organizations manage these new workforces. 

"By connecting companies to an online, scalable, fully-vetted workforce," Josephy concluded from the Finovate stage in September, "CrowdFlower turns big data into rich data faster, cheaper, and easier than any alternative on the market." And while it is hard to say just how much the Finovate audience knew about the alchemy of turning big data into rich data before awarding CrowdFlower Best of Show, it is clear they they recognized the value of true innovation in the space when they saw it.



See CrowdFlower's Best of Show winning demonstration from FinovateFall 2014.

Alumni News-- December 3, 2014

  • iQuantifi announces million-dollar angel investment.
  • LendingTree unveils its small business loan marketplace with loans from $5,000 to $1 million.
  • Betterment reaches 50,000 customer milestone.
  • SK Planet promotes its Bluetooth Low Energy powered mileage app, Syrup, in Seoul.
  • True Potential announces the launch of 15 new, open-ended investment company funds in Q1 2015.
  • Bank of South Pacific to deploy ACI Proactive Risk Manager from ACI Worldwide to help protect against fraud.
  • Klarna to invest $100 million over the next three years to launch its payments systems in the U.S.
  • Finovate Debuts: Loyal3's Stock Investments Democratizes Access to Stocks and IPOs.
  • Entrepreneurial Finance Lab gets a new look.
  • Pymnts features conversation with Currency Cloud's Chief Commercial Officer on how they modernize money movement.
  • Coinbase now enables some customers to hold USD balances in their Coinbase wallets.
  • Time names Braintree's Venmo as 1 of the top 10 apps of 2014.
  • Blockchain issued a .SSL certification.
  • TechVibes features Trulioo's new design.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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Virtual financial planning innovator and self-described "robo-advisor" iQuantifi has raised $1 million in its angel round. CEO and founder Tom White said that the investment represents a major show of support for his company's technology.

"iQuantifi helps users identify, prioritize and achieve their financial goals, via real-time, dynamic advice," he said. "We are very excited to have raised this angel round and we see the investor interest as validation of our cloud-based, robo-planning software platform."

White added that his company plans to use the capital to further enhance the platform, and to build partnerships with FIs. On this point, the company suggested that it will be able to announce new institutional-level clients "in the coming weeks," with a goal of onboarding "a dozen or so" in 2015.

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iQuantifi is geared toward millennials who are just beginning to enter the workforce, start families and buy homes. Each of these major life milestones are financial milestones, as well, and iQuantifi believes that technology-friendly millennials will be attracted to a financial advisory platform that is both cloud-based and automated.

White also points out that iQuantifi is a solution for millennials whose are "under-advised" by the traditional money manager community. As he explained in a conversation earlier this year, "If you're 28, making $80,000 a year, and your net worth is negative, plus you're married and expecting a kid, where do you get financial advice?"

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(Above: Tom and Karen White, co-founders of iQuantifi)

iQuantifi has been in the headlines quite a bit in recent weeks. The company was profiled in USA Today, Dough Roller, and Financial Advisor in November, shortly after unveiling the Cashfinder and What If features of its platform at FinovateFall.

"We have made tremendous progress since our announcement at Finovate," White said. "And financial institutions are starting to understand the value an automated advice and planning platform can provide to their customers."

iQuantifi was founded in June 2011 and headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. The company made its most recent made appearance on the Finovate stage at FinovateFall 2014 in New York.

The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. Today's feature is Loyal3, which demonstrated its mobile IPO investment platform at FinovateFall 2014.

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Loyal3's stock marketplace makes it easy to invest in stocks and IPOs. The simple user interface and lack of fees appeal to novice investors. It can also serve as a great tool for those looking to invest in IPOs at the same time and price as institutional investors.

Stats:

    • Founded October 2008
    • 130 employees
    • $75+ million in funding

Stock investing
Users start by browsing the 64 company stocks available on the platform.

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Stocks can be purchased in $10 increments. This fractional ownership allows for more diversification at a lower buy-in. If investors are feeling bullish, they have the option to purchase as much as $2,500 of a single stock.

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The portfolio below shows a total of $188 divided among eight different stocks, including Apple and Amazon, which have notoriously high share prices.

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Aside from the fractional share feature, Loyal3 also has:

    • Zero fees to buy and sell stock
    • No minimum account balances
    • Easy-to-open brokerage account
    • Automatic monthly investments that prompt recurring stock purchases

One of the ways Loyal3 is able to provide fee-free stock trades is by submitting orders in a batch at the end of the day. Because of the delay, the price quoted at the time the order is placed is not always the final purchase price.

IPO investing
Loyal3 offers access to IPOs at the same price and time as large investors and institutions.

Here's how it works:

1) Reserve an IPO stock
Users choose the amount of stock they would like to purchase. However, since shares are limited, investors may not receive the full amount.

2) Confirm order
After the price of the IPO is determined, Loyal3 sends SMS and email notifications to investors and gives them two hours to confirm or cancel their order. They can invest as little as $10 and as much as $10,000 per IPO.

Mobile
Loyal3 launched its mobile interface at FinovateFall 2014. It provides on-the-go access to stock trading and instant IPO notifications.

Wallaby Financial Acquired by Bankrate

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One of the innovators in the field of credit card reward optimization, Wallaby Financial has been acquired by online personal finance publisher, Bankrate. Terms were not disclosed.

Wallaby founder and CEO Matthew Goldman sees many advantages to being a part of Bankrate. "Their massive consumer audience, leading distribution partnerships, and financial resources will allow Wallaby to help millions of Americans acquire and use the right financial products," he said.

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Bankrate CEO Kenneth S. Esterow added that the acquisition will help his company deepen customer relationships. Esterow said that "Tests with their products have demonstrated substantial increases in conversion rates in our profitable and growing credit card channel." 

Some have expressed surprise at the acquisition. But Wallaby's ability to help drive credit card lead generation is one likely synergy between the two companies. Wallaby's technology helps consumers choose credit cards that are most compatible with their financial needs and goals. The company maintains a credit card database of more than 2,400 credit cards, and has more than 100,000 users on its platform.

Wallaby has enjoyed a busy fall. The company was one of the finalists of the SWIFT Innotribe Startup Challenge, and launched its WalletUp mobile app. Wallaby has been eager to embrace wearables, unveiling its Android Wear app this fall. 

Read more about Wallaby's initiatives in wearables in our extended feature with Wallaby CEO Matthew Goldman.

Wallaby Financial was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in Pasadena, California. The company was last on the Finovate stage for FinovateSpring 2013, where it demoed Wallaby Wallet Boost.

Alumni News-- December 2, 2014

  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Finovate-F-Logo.jpgCompass Plus TranzAxis now supports Futurex hardware security modules.
  • Coinbase introduces USD Wallets, enabling users to store U.S. dollar balances.
  • TradeKing unveils new features for its new LIVE platform.
  • Forbes column on disruption in traditional money exchange features Azimo, TransferWise, and CurrencyFair.
  • CrowdFlower announces support for eight new languages and enhanced support for another four.
  • CEO and co-founder of Trustev Pat Phelan wins MSL Cork Business Person of the Year award.
  • Linqto, Crowd Curity, Xignite, and CUneXus win Future of Money & Technology Summit Startup Showcase.
  • TickSmith adds Amazon Web Services version of its financial big data platforms.
  • The New Daily features SocietyOne as a premium P2P lending option.
  • The Chicago Tribune considers Lending Club's impending IPO.
  • Google Cloud Platform now PCI compliant, enabling developers to hold, process, and exchange credit card information.
This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.
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Narrative Science has raised $10 million in new funding in a round led by the USAA. The round included participation from previous investors Battery Ventures, Jump Capital, and Sapphire Ventures (formerly SAP Ventures), and brings the company's total capital to more than $32 million. According to VentureWire, the investment gives Narrative Science a valuation of $100 million.

Narrative Science CEO Stuart Frankel said "our relationship with USAA will allow both companies to deliver highly-scalable solutions that will turn mountains of financial data into information that can be easily understood and acted on by millions of people."

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The investment in Narrative Science is more than just an infusion of capital. The company has also announced a software partnership with USAA that will deploy Narrative Science's Quill technology to build a financial information library for USAA's 10 million members.

Narrative Science was recently in the fintech headlines with news that NHS Choices selected the technology to help deliver healthcare information earlier this fall. Company CTO Kris Hammond was featured in the Business Insider's Technology section this summer, and this spring, Narrative Science launched its free app, QuillEngage.

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Above: Narrative Science CTO Kris Hammond (right) and Credit Suisse's Tim Bixler at FinovateFall 2013

The Series D round comes amid growing interest in the intersection between big data/data analytics and intelligent/virtual assistance via natural language processing (see our coverage of the recent Goldman Sachs investment in Kensho). Indeed, reporting the industry of late often comes with "probability of computerization" infographics like this one from Gigaom, suggesting what kinds of work are likely to be replaced by technologies like Narrative Science.

"The Narrative Sciences announcement is just another baby step in this direction, where perhaps as many as 400 million people will have to find other work as their occupations are taken over by AI," Gigaon warns.

Narrative Science has heard this one before. Most recently, in a blog post from August titled "Disruptive Technology - Nothing New to See Here", CEO Stuart Frankel wrote that his first instinct was always to challenge the notion of technology causing job losses. But concluded that this was just the way the world works. "Old jobs vanish as new ones appear," he wrote. "Otherwise, we'd all just be a group of unemployed farmers." Frankel added:

"Will people lose their jobs due to technology such as Quill? It's possible. But the reality is that the technology provides substantial benefits to both organizations and individuals. And in my opinion, those that embrace this technology will hold a competitive advantage in their market sector."

Founded in January 2010 and based in Chicago, Narrative Science demoed its Quill technology at FinovateFall 2013 in New York.
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