Here's the math: D3 = Data Driven Digital Banking. The funding amount = $7 million.
Today, D3 Banking announced it raised $7 million in venture funding from Route 66 Ventures, a private investment firm focused on emerging financial services companies.
The Nebraska-based company reports that in the next 60 days, existing investors and a subordinate VC will contribute another $3 million, finalizing the round at $10 million.
The $10 million projected in this round, along with previous Angel investments of $6 million, will bring D3's total funding to $16 million.
Since its launch in 2007, D3 Banking (formerly Lodo Software) has built a customer base of 225 institutions that use its digital financial management tools.
D3 expanded beyond financial management tools last year when it launched a comprehensive digital banking solution at FinovateSpring 2013. The first customer to roll out the new solution plans to go live with it in the next 30 days. Additionally, D3 is in talks with a number of other institutions who are interested in deploying the new solution. According to CEO Mark Vipond, now is the perfect time for the company to bring in its first round of Venture funding.
D3 will use the new capital to expand its sales and marketing team, invest in other product innovations, and deploy a SaaS-based solution for FIs that prefer on-premise deployment.
We've only been tracking fundings on a weekly basis for 11 weeks. But I don't think there have been many weeks in history, if any, that the money flowing to the fintech sector was bigger. A total of $314 million in equity investments went to 18 companies (in addition, 4 companies received undisclosed new investments). Even without Mozida's massive $185 million, it was still a huge week.
There were 10 fundings greater than $7 million including two Finovate alums, Flint Mobile ($9.4 million) and D3 Banking, formerly Lodo Software ($7 million).
In order of magnitude, the deals from Oct 14 to Oct 20, 2014:
Thinknum's web-based software is targeted to financial analysts. The collaboration and cloud-computing tools help build better financial models. It seeks to revolutionize asset valuation and empowers analysts to turn complicated spreadsheets into in-depth analyses.
4,000 analysts on platform
$1 million raised
Product launched December 2013
To more accurately value stocks, sophisticated investors create financial models based on metrics such as company sales, website page views, and global events such as spikes in food prices. Often, analysts use simple spreadsheets which can beinefficient in managing complicated data.
Most financial models are shared by email, with different versions saved on various hard drives leading to lost content, mis-used models, and other confusion. Additionally, finding specific data points by sorting through spreadsheets is cumbersome.
Thinknum provides analysts with a platform to host their spreadsheet-based models. Users can either upload existing models from Excel or build them directly on the platform. Powerful search capabilities enable users to apply a single model to multiple companies, automatically aggregating company-specific information, such as earnings and revenue.
Additionally, Thinknum serves as a collaboration platform where 4,000 analysts from major banks and hedge funds across the globe can share and tweak each others' models using different assumptions.
What sets Thinknum apart?
1) Computing power
With an overwhelming amount of data and hundreds of APIs created every day, it is impossible to capture all of the information needed for an accurate model. Even if it were possible, analysts would still lack the computing power needed to crunch the numbers in the model. Thinknum's 50 computing nodes deliver results in seconds, pulling data from thousands of sources.
2) Crowdsourced insights
Similar to Github, Thinknum gives users visibility into the work of other analysts on the platform. This provides insight into how others value certain companies, and can lead to better financial models.
The example below shows how other analysts, listed along the bottom, value Google. The bubbles represent each person's valuation based on their personal financial model.
From here, analysts can open the model, view its performance, or use the QuickBuilder feature.
With QuickBuilder (below), investors can test their models by simulating the effect of changes in inputs, such as company revenue and cost of goods sold, have on the overall stock price.
Thinknum's capabilities extend beyond the QuickBuilder feature. It also provides graphs detailing data from over 2,000 sourcessuch as home prices, construction spending, and the unemployment rate.
iQuantifi is a virtual financial advisor platform geared toward millennials and young families. The technology relies on proprietary algorithms to provide comprehensive, personalized financial advice, and a step-by-step guide to allocating resources in order to achieve financial goals.
Founded in June 2011
Headquarters: Nashville, Tennessee
Raised more than $1M in funding
Tom White is CEO and Founder; Karen White is CPO and Co-Founder
Product launched in September 2014
Tom and Karen White, founders of iQuantifi, don't run from the "robo-advisor" label. They embrace it.
"There is a huge market of underserved (consumers), and the only way to really reach them is through technology," Karen explained. "If you can reach more people, what's wrong with that?"
As far as iQuantifi is concerned, the founders are proud of the fact that they have developed a fully-automated financial planning and investment platform after fifteen years in the financial advisory business. "I can only reach so many people," Tom said. "We can reach millions now."
A major boost in that direction came a few weeks after iQuantifi's FinovateFall debut in late September when the company announced that its platform was available to financial institutions. By opening the technology to banks and credit unions, the company hopes to make inroads with their target market: technology-friendly millennials just beginning their adult financial lives. "If you're 28, making $80,000 a year, and net worth is negative," Tom asks, "plus married and expecting a kid, where do you get financial advice?"
Getting started with iQuantifi is straightforward. The first step is providing personal information. Name, family profile, investment experience, annual income and monthly expenses are the primary categories. Then aggregate your accounts (at least one checking account needs to be linked), and you are ready to begin.
The robo-advisory starts with the Timeline. The Timeline begins with the present and extends all the way through your projected retirement date. Above the Timeline are a set of icons that represent a variety of financial goals, all geared toward millennials and their families. For example, in addition to a "Buy House" goal icon, there is also simply "Relocate" and "Rent" goals icons.
Click on a goal icon and a pop-up allows you to enter information about the goal. With that, the platform goes to work, determining just how feasible reaching your goal is given your current financial profile. If your goal is attainable in the time you've set, the goal icon will appear in your Timeline. If your goal is not attainable, a warning appears telling you "You have a shortage."
Here is where one of the key features demoed at FinovateFall comes in. Rather than forcing you to change your goals, the iQuantifi platform's "Cashfinder" takes a look at the shortage amount and then goes to your financial profile to see what adjustments can be made to cover the shortage amount. You can take the platform's recommended changes or keep your current levels.
Even more detailed advice is available by clicking on the green action bar at the bottom below the timeline. Here users of the platform get more specific direction such as "Deposit $458 this month for retirement: Roth account" and "Apply for a Disability Insurance Policy with a $2,437 Monthly Benefit." The investment section even provides the names of mutual funds, index funds, etc., as well as the percentage allocations required for a diversified portfolio based on the user's goals.
IQuantifi provides a Summary feature that lets users get a bird's eye view of any specific financial goal and the progress being made toward reaching it. For example, a Car Summary Screen might show purchase date, total purchase price, percent savings already reached and amount still left to save in pursuit of a new car - all in a colorful, easy to read graphic. The Summary screen also previews the next action to be taken after the current one.
Another compelling feature of iQuantifi is its "What If" feature. This tool allows users to make adjustments to goals and then run scenarios to see how a change in a given goal (a more expensive car, putting off retirement for a few years) affects the overall financial picture, as well as other goals. "iQuantifi lets users update their plan as changes happen in their lives," Tom said, "and automatically shows the impact of those changes in real-time."
In some ways, the future for iQuantifi is already here. The company has opened up its platform to financial institutions, pointing out that the platform can help banks serve the "record numbers of college graduates (who) are starting their professional life with a tremendous amount of debt." This is all the more so, in Tom's opinion, to the extent that millennials have been among the demographics least interested in traditional, brick and mortar banking.
The fact that iQuantifi has signed on with MX, the fintech innovator formerly known as MoneyDesktop, to provide account aggregation services is another positive for the company going forward. A multiple Best of Show award winner at Finovate, MX was a "natural fit" in the words of iQuantifi CTO Jim Siegienski. Calling MX "best in breed for categorization," Siegienski praised the Utah-based company for the cleanliness of its technology and its ease of use.
As for security, iQuantifi relies on the same 128-bit secure socket layer technology and SHA-256 encryption that banks use when transmitting sensitive financial data. Data is protected on its end with biometric checkpoints, multiple keylock entries, and "constant video surveillance, and the software is "read only" which prevents anyone for accessing your accounts through iQuantifi's system.
iQuantifi currently offers 30 days free use of the service. After that it's $9.95 per month or $89 annually. Multiply that number by the 79 million consumers Tom says make up the "millennial market" and it is easy to see why he and the rest of his team are so excited about the future of iQuantifi.
With a just-announced $9.4 million in funding led by Verizon Ventures, Flint Mobile now stands with more than $20 million in total capital. Participating in the Series C alongside Verizon Ventures were existing investors Digicel, Storm Ventures, True Ventures, and new investor, Peninsula Ventures.
A specialist in providing point-of-sale solutions for mobile merchants, Flint Mobile has carved out a niche for itself as the hardware-free Square alternative. The company's iOS and Android apps rely on a combination of card scanning and manual entry to enable merchants to accept credit and debit cards without a card reader. The technology can create and send invoices, works with Passbook loyalty coupons, and features QuickBooks Online integration, as well.
Keeping his cards close to the vest, Flint Mobile CEO Greg Goldfarb had more to say about how and why his company had expanded its offering beyond basic mobile payments than why Verizon Ventures choose to invest in his company. With regard to the former, Goldfarb pointed out that the same small, independent merchants who relied on Flint for payments had started to wonder if there were ancillary services - such as invoicing and advance billing - Flint could provide.
The short answer was "yes." The somewhat longer answer is Sell Online, the new service launched by Flint at the beginning of the month. Sell Online allows merchants to add a customizable button to their website (or as a link that can be sent through email or social media) that keeps customers on the page, provides a secure, encrypted checkout, and makes online sales and orders easy to track and manage.
There are no additional costs for merchants using Sell Online. Debit card transactions are 1.95%, with credit card transactions at 2.95%, the same as Flint's regular fees.
With regard to the company's future with Verizon, Goldfarb's refusal to talk much detail about the investment hasn't stopped others from wondering what might lurk beyond the infusion of capital into Flint. For example while VentureBeat's coverage quoted Goldfarb linking the new capital to further product development, Gigaom's coverage of the announcement tantalizingly hinted at the possibility of Verizon offering Flint to its customers "as a simple application download."
Based in Redwood City, California, and founded in April 2011, Flint demoed its technology as part of FinovateSpring 2012 in San Francisco. See video of Flint in action.
The Finovate Debuts series introduces new Finovate alums. This past September, Six Trees Capital made its Finovate Debut with MaxMyInterest, an innovative cash management solution for high net worth individuals and their families.
From Six Trees Capital, MaxMyInterest is an automated cash management technology that dynamically allocates cash balances between online savings accounts to ensure FDIC insurance coverage while earning superior yields. Financial institutions gain wallet share and increase customer stickiness from high-net-worth clients.
Founded in July 2013
Headquartered in New York City, NY
Gary Zimmerman is CEO and Founder
Technology launched in April 2014
Some technology, as the saying goes, is almost indistinguishable from magic. Other technology, is almost indistinguishable from "why in the world didn't I think of that!?"
MaxMyInterest was initially developed as a way to preserve capital rather than a way of helping grow it. Founder and CEO Gary Zimmerman was working as an investment banker recently relocated to Japan when the financial crisis hit in 2008. And to put it mildly, his experience trying to manage and reallocate his cash from the other side of the world in the midst of global financial turmoil was instructive.
Sure, the FDIC would insure cash deposits up to $100,000 (the limit before October 2008). But as far as the rest of Zimmerman's cash was concerned, it was every dollar for itself.
Zimmerman found himself manually moving hundreds of thousands of dollar around from one newly-opened online bank account to the next for three years. And in the process, he realized he had earned tens of thousands of dollars in interest shuffling his money around. In the beginning, Zimmerman explains, it had "nothing to do with interest rates - just protecting the cash." But his revelation after three years of manual cash management had him thinking: hmmm, if only we could automate this ...
So what does MaxMyInterest do and how does it do it? Put simply, MaxMyInterest lets high-net-worth savers, those for whom the FDIC's $250,000 insurance limit is not enough, move their cash holdings dynamically to whichever account provides the highest rate of interest. The money movement is automatic and keeps cash savings accounts under $250,000 so that depositors can make the most of FDIC insurance guarantees.
Signing up is straightforward. Members link a checking account and at least one savings account in a process that takes less than 15 minutes. Users set up a Target Balance, which tells Max how much money to keep in the checking account. The rest of the cash is allocated into the highest yielding FDIC-insured savings accounts available in a process MaxMyInterest calls "optimizing". Optimization takes place monthly, but the company says that rebalancing with greater frequency is possible.
Members track their balances, the status of the optimization or transfer, and have access to their cash at any time (except during the2-3 dayACH transfer). MaxMyInterest also has an "Intelligent Funds Transfer" feature that allows members to transfer funds back and forth between checking and savings with a single click. Note that Max ever takes actual custody of the funds of its members.
The service costs 0.02% of the cash being optimized each quarter, or 0.08% per year. This is competitive with money market management fees which can range as high as 0.16%. Zimmerman said his platform can deliver cash returns of 0.80% net of fees.
Where can you use MaxMyInterest? The technology is compatible with checking accounts at:
Bank of America
First Republic Bank
MaxMyInterest is also compatible with FDIC-insured online savings accounts at:
Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct)
Zimmerman admits that initially he wasn't sure that "MaxMyInterest the Concept" could actually be turned into "MaxMyInterest the Product." "There's a lot of difference between having an idea and executing an idea," he said. Then after four months of work proved that the cash management solution could be built, the sprint to see just how fast it could be built was on. And while there were plenty of moving parts, working with banks and navigating their various security protocols proved to be the biggest challenge.
Zimmerman and Director of Engineering Richard Wu turned to a major security firm to help them build out the architecture and do the requisite testing. The goal was to make MaxMyInterest as secure as the banks they worked with. The lack of common standards for interfacing with the banks was one challenge, especially when much of it was automated. "There were a lot of solutions available," said Wu, "but none really worked for us."
Starting from the ground up, they were able to construct a platform with a simple user interface, smooth and prompt execution, and security strong enough to convince major banks like Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo to make the service available.
Why do banks like MaxMyInterest? Zimmerman admits that some banks he thought wouldn't like his cash management service actually did. "A lot of banks have a problem with clients holding too much cash," he said. MaxMyInterest also gives banks the opportunity for competitive advantage. Brick-and-mortar banks can be at a disadvantage of as much as 150 basis points compared to online banks, Zimmerman explained. And online banks pass this savings on to their customers in the former of better returns on cash.
With MaxMyInterest, banks can offer higher yielding opportunities to their clients. "The irony," he said, "was that by reducing the stickiness of bank deposits, you increase the stickiness of bank relationships." Zimmerman thinks that early adopters of his technology will have a major advantage over those that hesitate.
For many in fintech, "cash" is simply shorthand for paper bills and coins. But in reality, "cash" is a $12 trillion dollar field of assets sitting idly in banks and money market funds. "The average American is 40% in cash," said Zimmerman, cash that is paying on average between zero and 0.15% annual percentage yield.
MaxMyInterest helps high net worth savers make the best of a low-interest rate world by automatically moving cash to online banks where yields are greater (averaging between 0.75% and 0.95% APY). And if Zimmerman and his team are able to grow MaxMyInterest in the current environment, it is easy to imagine a bright future for the company - and its members - as online savings options grow and interest rates (eventually) normalize and begin to move higher.
By tracking the way users interact with web and mobile banking platforms, BioCatch uses invisible tests to authenticate users and prevent fraud.
The cloud-based solution gets ahead of malicious behavior by intervening before fraudsters enter the system.
Recently moved headquarters to Tel Aviv from Lod, Israel
Founded April 2011, launched BioCatch in 2013
$10 million raised
BioCatch helps banks and ecommerce enterprises catch fraudsters while authenticating the actual users. It uses 400 different parameters, such ashow fast the user types and their usage preferences.
BioCatch starts by building a profile of each user to capture their typical behavior during an online banking session. Once complete, BioCatch is able to flag uncharacteristic usage patterns as fraud.
>> Catching the fraudsters
To determine fraudulent activity, BioCatch considers factors such as:
Does the user move between fields using a mouse or using the Tab key?
Do they click the submit button or use the Enter key?
When entering anamount, do they use the keypad or the number pad?
For each online banking session, the bank views a dashboard that shows geographical location, an analysis of each user's session, the session flow, the behavioral patterns of the account, an analysis of the threat, as well as device and network risk scores.
The authentication analysis scores how the user performs compared to their regular behavior. The information is presented in a dashboard, similar to the one below, which indicates unusual login rythmics and mouse dynamics.
>> Proving the good user
Aside from just detecting and stopping fraud, BioCatch can reduce false positives, as well.
For example, if a New York-based customer is accessing their account while on a trip to Des Moines, the different geographical location may raise some red flags. The out-of-character activity may cause the bank to identify the actual user as a criminal.
The consequence (getting locked out of their account or having to call the bank to authenticate themselves) creates friction in the user experience and can harm the relationship.
What's new? BioCatch recently launched The Art of Fraud Catalogue showcasing patterns generated by malware. After analyzing user behavior, BioCatch realized that usage patterns created great art.
The piece below was captured from fraud discovered in North America. It is titled, The Matrix Fraud.
The idea is that fraud patterns are all unique, just like art itself.
Bottom line BioCatch provides a low-friction way to catch fraud. When users don't have to jump through hoops and are not wrongfully pegged as fraudsters, they have a faster and more pleasant experience.
Settle Settle's technology focuses on connecting merchants with their customers. Its built-in ordering system, combined with a loyalty platform and merchant dashboard, are tailored for restaurants and bars.
Founded August 2014
$1.8 million in funding
500+ merchant partnerships for their loyalty/rewards platform
The experience To create a better customer experience, Settle provides merchants tools, including:
Customer-facing pre-order system
Merchant analytic tools
How it works:
Using the Settle app on an iOS or Android device, customers make a payment at business' Settle point-of-sale system.
At checkout, customers review their order and select the Pay button. For service-based merchants, suchas a coffee shop, bar, or cafe, the customer also selects the tip amount.
The transaction is paperless, with the receipts emailed.
To gather feedback for the merchant, customers are prompted to rate their experience.
At restaurants and coffee shops, customers can place their order ahead of time and skip the line. The system also manages reservations.
Settle offers a merchant platform that makes entering orders easy. It also helps cashiers personally connect with returning customers. When a Settle user walks in the door, the system prompts the cashier with the customer's name, their usual order, and notes about the person (i.e., always in a hurry).
Aside from the point-of-sale interface, Settle comes with two compelling features:
Since the loyalty platform does not require stamps, cards, or checking-in, it is a low-friction way to encourage repeat purchases.
The Settle system incentivizes users to spend more in order to receive a larger discount. In the example below, the user needs to spend a total of 3,000 Ukrainian Hryvnia (around $230) to receive a permanent, ongoing 10% discount.
2) Merchant tools
With Settle's Smart Engine, merchants see recent customer activity and can download a spreadsheet detailing new and returning customers, their purchase frequency, the total amount spent, average check amount, and how much they tip. Merchants can also evaluate their sales over time (see graph below).
On the employee side, the system shows ratings for each waiter, along with the number of clients handled per check, and how well they are tipped.
The recommendations engine detects anomalies, such as decline in overall sales or average check, and advises how to fix the issue. Additionally, it automatically creates a list of customers who have not returned, and sets up a discount offer to entice them back.
The back-end system also enables merchants to push special deals and messages based on certain parameters, such as average spend and birthday month. Once the offers are sent, merchants can measure their effectiveness by seeing how many opened the message and redeemed the offer.
These examples illustrate the mobile purchasing experience, but Settle can also be used online. For both in-person and online purchases, customers are required to confirm the payment on their mobile device. This built-in two-factor authentication creates a more secure experience.
The Settle app is currently working in Ukraine, Russia, and other Eastern European countries. It has plans to expand into Europe and is considering the U.S. market. For this expansion, it is seeking a U.S. bank partner.
With an investment of $600,000 (£375,000) financial data startup Nous is now that much closer to its goal of leveraging the insights of the crowd for the benefit of real-world professional investors at banks, hedge funds, and other financial institutions.
Nous CEO Justin Short noted that the investment would provide more than just new capital for a company that was "self-funded, pre-revenue, and pre-launch" when we met them at FinovateEurope 2014 in London. "All of our investors will contribute not just capital, but also their considerable industry experience," Short said. "We now have even stronger connections to the forward thinking hedge-funds that can make the most of our unique data feeds."
The investors for this angel round of funding were not disclosed.
Nous has developed a trading simulator, SparkProfit, that allows thousands of users to predict the price direction of a wide variety of instruments, such as bitcoin, international currencies, stock market indices, and commodities. Top performing predictors on the platform can then compete for weekly cash prizes.
But this is only the beginning. By monitoring the predictions on the platform, Nous is able to offer a sentiment indicator called SparkFeed. SparkFeed works in real-time and according to the Nous provides a better sense of the emotions driving market behavior than that offered by either traditional sentiment algorithms as well as newer "social media" based sentiment measures. Nous calls this "crowd-sourced alpha."
A few metrics on Nous:
84,000 users in 200 countries
250,000 predictions a week
More than $61,000 paid in weekly prizes since May 2013
Nous was founded in September 2012 and, after operating in Japan initially, is now headquartered in London. The company hopes to grow its user base to 250,000 over the next six months, and plans to use the funding to add both new markets and social features to its platform.
We have 47 fintech-focused presentations of APIs and back-end tools ready to watch, embed, and download for free. Don't know where to start? Check out one of the award winning presentations from day one:
You can tell the market is frenzied when fintech companies raise only $101 million this week. That still works out to a $5+ billion annual run rate, which isn't too shabby. Much of the money went into a Series-D to India's Financial Software Systems, a 23-year old fintech veteran.
In terms of startups, the big winner this week was Finovate alum, Quantopian, a high-tech investing play that debuted at FinovateSpring 2013 (see post for more info). But Technisys ($13 million) and Germany's Orderbird ($10 million) were not far behind.
In addition, fintech accelerator SixThirty announced its latest investments: $100,000 each to Davo Technologies, MyMoneyButler, PFTIR and New Constructs (see below for details).
Here are the 17 deals in order of magnitude (10 Oct through 17 Oct):
NopSec is focused on making the digital world a safer place. For banks, this means getting a handle on cyber security. If you're a bank with 60,000 hosts under management, with thousands of security vulnerabilities, you have two major issues. First, you need to identify the vulnerabilities, and second, you need to know how to fix them.
With so much much information to sort through to determine and prioritize what needs to be fixed, this can be time consuming. This is where NopSec comes in. Its SaaS-based Unified VRM provides a solution for IT professionals to manage security threats. Using Big Data, it generates a prioritized list of what security issues need to be addressed, and how to address them.
Founded in 2009
Headquartered in New York
Works with infrastructure both on premises and in the cloud
The NopSec Unified VRM system helps bank security experts sort through the massive amount of data about security threats, and suggests actions to protect against the threats. Its holistic approach on security can be broken down into four steps:
Step 1: Identify threats
The first step is to identify specific vulnerabilities. The dashboard below provides an overall picture of security risk and vulnerability that is easily digestible for everyone from the technical security professional to the CIO. It is divided into modules that correspond to different threats-- external and internal.
Step 2: Explore details
Security analysts can drill down further into vulnerabilities by searching and filtering. The case below shows results filtered by "Top Exploited." Other filters, listed on the left-hand side in the graphic below, include criteria for geographic location, available patches, top trends, etc.
Once experts find the individual threats that interest them, they can view a summary description of each case. The graphs along the top provide an overall view of the risk factor, operating system, and location of each threat that matches the search criteria.
Step 3: Discover solutions
Identifying and understanding the security threats is only part of the equation. The crucial piece is solving the vulnerabilities. To do this, Unified VRM prioritizes the most dangerous and relevant threats by ranking them by importance.
Remediation recommendations are listed next to each vulnerability, along with the number of assets it affects. In the example below, the Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities affect 134 assets, so it is ranked as the number one issue to fix. Dividing the bank's security into manageable pieces helps security professionals know what to focus on.
In addition to simply advising remediation, the platform has a social aspect that allows for team collaboration. Users just select others they would like to involve in the conversation, and everyone has the ability to comment on the solution.
Step 4: Communicate via reports
To communicate issues and progress with everyone from executives to other technical experts, NopSec provides a reporting tool. It offers four options that tailor the information in the report to the appropriate level for different intended audiences:
Executive, for a high level status view
Technical, for a more detailed view with technical specifications
Full, for a complete view
Customized, for an overview mixed with details
Benefit to banks
The largest benefit NopSec brings to banks is the ability to proactively secure their systems. By identifying and prioritizing major security threats that affect hundreds of assets, banks' technical teams can spend more time solving those issues, and less time searching for the issues.
Additionally, the Unified VRM system takes the institution's security a step above what government regulations require, since they are often times too generic and not applicable to every environment.
Two big announcements from algorithmic trading and investing platform Quantopian are reminding us that there is more than one way to "robo-invest."
First up is the $15 million the company raised in a Series B round led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Existing investors Khosla Ventures, Spark Capital, and Wicklow Capital also participated. CEO and Founder John Fawcett said that the capital will support further product development and potential expansion.
The investment takes Quantopian's total capital to $23.8 million.
It's hard to upstage a $15 million investment. But Quantopian's second announcement of the week - its decision to launch a hedge fund driven by the investing algorithms of the platform's best and brightest - may prove to be a more important development for the longer-term future of the company.
The Quantopian Managers Program will provide top-performing quant investors with trading capital. Users of the platform have been able to live trade their algorithms since the beginning of the year, and this latest initiative will give Quantopian's most talented developer-investors the opportunity to benefit even further from their work.
Those applying for the program will need a six-month minimum track record on the platform. Quantopian hopes to invest up to $1 million in each of the selected algorithms, with the developers earning a share of the investment returns.
Quantopian was named one of America's Most Promising Companies for 2014 by Forbes, one of five Finovate alums to make this year's list. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Quantopian demonstrated its Live Trading platform at FinovateSpring 2013 in San Francisco.
Silanis is one of the biggest service providers in the banking and lending e-signature market. Banks, credit providers, insurers, and government agencies use the company's electronic signature platform to the tune of more than 600 million documents processed annually.
The latest innovation from Silanis, eSignLive Use Your Own Device, turns smartphones into signature capture devices without requiring an app download or expensive in-branch hardware. The technology "solves the final barrier" of transactions that demand a full, handwritten signature, according to Silanis, and enables financial institutions to deliver the same kind of customer experience that retailers offer.
Founded in March 1992
Headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Tommy Petrogiannis is CEO and Co-Founder
Processes more than 600 million documents a year
Customers include four of the top 10 banks in North America, eight of the top 15 insurers, and the U.S. Army
Named Leader in Customer Satisfaction by enterprise review site, G2 Crowd in 2013 and 2014
Won IBM Beacon Award for Best Industry Solution for Banking in 2013
Launched eSignLive Use Your Own Device in September 2014
Silanis specializes in providing electronic signature services - and their client list is impressive. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have been using the platform since 1997. GMAC went paperless with its global operations in 2001 courtesy of the e-signature platform from Silanis. And just one of the company's clients, a "top 5 US bank" with more than $300 billion in assets reports processing more than 35,000 e-sign transactions every day since deploying the technology at all 3,000 retail branches in 2011.
This has meant:
An 80% reduction in document handling costs (savings in the millions of dollars)
A 90% reduction in loan exceptions
More than 90,000 hours of bankers' time reallocated toward increasing loan sales
The bank also reported that the Enterprise edition of eSignLive helped them exceed compliance regulations, make back office operations manuals obsolete, and improve the overall banking experience for their customers.
Still, there has been a region of the e-signature world that has eluded Silanis up until recently. For those transactions that require a full, handwritten signature, the options for many institutions have been bleak. Typically, there is little alternative other than to require customers to go to a brick and mortar location, even though the application started online. Proprietary e-signature hardware is expensive, often prohibitively so for smaller community FIs.
Silanis solves both the multi-channel and cost issues by turning the customer's own smartphone into a signature-capture solution. The e-signatures created by this "operating system agnostic" Use Your Own Device approach are legally-enforceable transactions with an audit trail and "signing ceremony" captured, as well. Authentication and delivery to the back end for processing are fully integrated. There is no need to buy expensive e-signature hardware and no apps for consumers to download.
With eSignLive, the Holy Grail of 100% remote account opening is now possible, according to Silanis. It is ironic that the most fundamental of banking services - customer onboarding - has been the most resistant to technology innovation. By focusing on the issue of the handwritten signature requirement, Silanis directly targets one of the main reasons for this particular pain point.
From the user's perspective, opening an account with the technology is straightforward. Signees access the platform from a browser, rather than downloading an app. After completing an electronic disclosures and signatures consent document, the customer fills out the form as she would ordinarily.
The technology recognizes if the applicant is using a touchscreen device. If not, when it's time to sign, a gold "Sign with your mobile phone" button appears below the signature capture field. Click here and an email or SMS message is sent to the applicant with instructions on how to complete the transaction. The applicant opens the email or SMS on the touchscreen device, clicks on the link provided, and then traces her signature with a finger or stylus in the signature field. Click "Continue" and the applicant's hand-drawn signature is added virtually to the document.
Once the user confirms that everything is accurate, the document is sent to the FI's processing. Applicants can download and print the document for their own records.
For the FI, eSignLive provides cost-savings from fewer errors and reduced document handling, costs of scanning, faxing, couriers, and postage.
Additionally, the technology also gives FIs a number of valuable customer insights, ranging from where customers complete transactions, where they are dropping out, and how to selectively market different programs to their customer base.
eSignLive's Use Your Own Device is available on the Integrated and Enterprise editions. Both are on-premises deployments rather than solely SaaS, and include additional features such as advanced forms, reports, and dashboards; branding customization; and, in the case of Enterprise,a completely customizable GUI, workflow and advanced authentication.
What should we look forward to when it comes to Silanis? With the launch of eSignLive in September, new deployments are at the top of the list. And 2014 already has been a good year in this regard: the company launched a new partnership with AgencyPort Software in October, teamed up with loan management software specialist Calyx Software in August, and has been providing e-Signature services for Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) since the beginning of the year.
Even more worth watching may be the company's theory that technologies like this will enable FIs to become truly "virtual banks", 100% divorced from the brick-and-mortar branch. But to the extent that eSignLive Use Your Own Device, makes on boarding new customers an easy and seamless process, the technology may be just as liberating for "non-virtual" FIs as it promises to be for those banks trying to go branchless.
For many in attendance at FinovateSpring 2014 in San Jose watching the Interactions demo, the "Aha!" moment came when the virtual agent began speaking flawless Spanish.
The demo was already impressive, with murmurs of appreciation from the audience as the seamless call and response back and forth between the presenter and the Interactions virtual agent made believers of everyone in the room.
But the Spanish might have been the breaking point, that moment when technology seemed to do that thing that the great Arthur Clarke insisted it could always do: become indistinguishable from magic.
Magical as the technology may seem, Interactions' virtual agent technology is far from magic. Rather, it is the result of a patent-pending technology that succeeds where other virtual technologies, including Apple's Siri, have struggled.
Interactions technology has been deployed in industries ranging from retail to hospitality to healthcare, and include Fortune 500 financial services corporations. The company, founded ten years ago, is headquartered in Franklin, Massachusetts, and includes Softbank Capital, North Hill Ventures, Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Sigma Partners, Prime Ventures, and Updata Partners among its investors.
We talked with Interactions President and CEO Mike Iacobucci about his company's technology, how it came to be, and the ways it can be put to use to save money, improve efficiencies, and help improve the customer/client experience.
Finovate: Interactions is a two-time Best of Show award winner. What is it about Interactions that draws such a positive response?
Mike Iacobucci: There are two reasons our demo was impactful: first, because it was a live demo and second, because our technology works flawlessly.
We've all used an automated system in the past, be it an IVR when calling for customer care or Siri on an iPhone. And we know from these experiences that they're far from perfect technologies. Many of us have seen the replays of Microsoft's live speech-recognition failures during keynotes in 2006 and 2012.
The other reason is because our technology appeals so much to the audience as consumers. Not only do we have a cool technology. It also addresses a serious problem that people know all too well - that a five-minute customer-service call can raise our blood pressure more than our teenage children.
Our technology makes contacting customer service a value-added experience, and that innovation makes our presentation even more exciting.
Finovate: What has Interactions been working on since FinovateSpring in April?
Iacobucci: Interactions is working to expand our product portfolio by bringing enhanced human-like text and speech-based conversations to every channel and device. Our services are rooted in customer care, but we're moving into more revenue-generating areas like marketing and sales.
We're rapidly expanding into Asia and delivering customer implementations in newer channels like mobile chat and proactive messaging.
Finovate: What makes Interactions' "Adaptive-Understanding (TM) technology" different from other voice-automation technologies?
Iacobucci: Speech recognition averages 75% accuracy with simple, open-ended prompts in the best conditions, which means that it's going to fail for consumers in at least one out of every four attempts. Comparatively, our patented Adaptve-Understanding technology performs with 95+% accuracy on simple to complex open-ended prompts, which really changes the game.
Our technology focuses on how computer and human intelligence can work together to achieve a desired outcome. We always use automated speech recognition to apply business rules. When needed in small doses, we supplement with our Human Assisted Understanding capability to leverage a trained analyst's natural proficiency at noise discrimination and interpretation.
In short, it's automation with a human touch. And we've accomplished this and made it scale for very large multinational enterprises.
Finovate: Are there things that a virtual assistant does better than a live human customer service representative? Do you see this changing as VA technology becomes more sophisticated?
Iacobucci: Absolutely. Customer service representatives are great at handling unique situations, troubleshooting complex issues, sales inquiries, and retention calls. However, there's nothing value-added by having customer service representatives handle data-collection processes. For example, we can fully automate a loan application. It's a lengthy process, but for us, it's just capturing a few dozen fields of data. Nothing we can't handle. And by automating these transactions, the savings are incredible.
When your virtual assistant is handling all of these data-collection transactions successfully, your agents can then spend more time with the call-types best handled by people. And that improves agents' job satisfaction and retention rates. And, it keeps them more engaged.
Additionally, a virtual assistant is much more secure than a live agent, and collecting private information is an area where we excel. Moreover, we're consistent, and this is extremely relevant to the financial services sector. The virtual assistant engages in a consistent manner from conversation to conversation, and if anything needs to be read back word for word, our solutions are a much safer bet than a live agent.
Finovate: Two years ago in an interview with the Boston Business Journal, you hinted at an initial public offering. Is that still under consideration?
Iacobucci: We have no specific plans for a public offering. The company has the characteristics of a company that can be an innovative institution to a large market.
Finovate: What is the climate like in Boston for fintech innovation? How does it compare to that of Silicon Valley?
Iacobucci: In many ways, Boston and Silicon Valley are extremely similar. With an incredible amount of talent pouring in from the top institutions in the country and an entrepreneurial spirit rivaled by few other cities, Boston is an extremely inviting climate for fintech innovation.
This is only magnified by a strong presence in venture capital as well as progressive banking and financial institutions like Fidelity, State Street, and Putnam Investments. Additionally, there is a highly concentrated and rapidly growing focus on speech recognition, as seen by recent investments in Boston from Amazon. Google, Nuance, and Interactions.
Finovate: What can we expect from Interactions in the coming months?
Iacobucci: We're looking to be a broad provider of services to the market beyond the customer care market. We want to leverage our platform to reach other market segments and other regions in the world where speech technology is otherwise inefficient or incapable.
We've created interactive systems in both speech and text that can foster the types of conversations that were never thought possible with automation, and with our technology, our potential applications are limitless.
Learn more about Interactions. Watch their Best of Show winning live demo from FinovateSpring 2014 here.
Develops easy to manage and measure mobile banking SmartApps for community financial institutions. SmartApps are full-service, native mobile banking apps designed for iOS, Android, and the browser. Features include debit card management, billpay (including picturepay options), and P2P payments.
Founded in January 2009
Headquartered in Austin, Texas
Tom Shen is Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board
More than 60 employees
More than 305 bank and credit unions clients with more than 260,000 end users
More than 500,000 downloads
Launched SmartwebApps in September 2014
There is a sense of "You do what?!" that comes from learning about what Malauzai Software has been building and deploying at community banks and credit unions across the country. Pick a mobile banking innovation, any innovation: Want to take a picture of your bill and pay with your smartphone? Want to turn your debit card off or on from time to time?
What's impressive about Malauzai Software isn't just that their apps do these things. It's that their apps have been doing these things and more for community bank customers in places like the Air Academy Federal Credit Union in Colorado Springs and the First Financial Bank in Abilene, Texas for longer than you might think.
Malauzai Software is helps smaller financial institutions innovate faster than the big banks. Many things are helping this happen: from more nimble decision-making to the rise of mobile, which Malauzai calls an "equalizer" in the competition over bank customers. And here, Malauzai is simply looking to play its role, or as they put it "we're on that wave" helping community FIs embrace truly omni-channel banking.
The Solutions: Meet MOX
The company has developed solutions that help not just consumers, but also business and enterprise-level use cases, as well. Malauzai offers Business Mobile solutions that target high value customers and support business customers requirements with multiple business entities. Their Enterprise solution gives professionals working in FIs tablet-optimized front and back office apps that boost customer on boarding, mobile teller capability, and other options to enhance the in-branch experience.
There are three concepts that underpin Malauzai's approach to development. The primary one is MOX which stands for "Mobile Only Experience." This combines a recognition that mobile is increasingly the channel of preference and simply porting a mobile experience to the desktop (or even to the tablet) is often a poor option.
The second concept is "convergence," a banking customer accessing a SmartApp by smartphone will expect and should receive the same functionality when she switches to her desktop or tablet.
And the third concept is "superior economics." On the platform management side, Malauzai believes it is important that banks and financial institutions be able to manage all their different SmartApps using a single application management system. Malauzai's omnichannel approach via SmartApps liberates community banks from having to manage separate "Internet" or "online" banking services and mobile banking. The result is cost savings for banks and their customers.
"Internet banking is marginalizing," said Malauzai Chief Product Officer, Robb Gaynor. "So why pay for it? With SmartwebApps, banks and credit unions are paying one low price per user for mobile and online banking. It's like getting online banking for free."
Among the features available on Malauzai Software's SmartApps are:
Debit card management
Billpay including the Picture Pay option
Person-to-person (P2P) payments
Remote Deposit Capture deposits
The apps can be personalized and feature a time-saving SmarTex login that gives customer quick access to basic information like account balances and transaction histories without requiring full login. And speaking of security, SmartwebApps give users the option to add a PIN for additional safeguarding of accounts, as well as customizable mobile banking security alerts. The apps are currently available in English, Spanish and Korean languages.
What's in it for banks, other than providing all these great services for their customers? We've touched on the "easy to manage" aspect of the technology. Now let's take a look at the "easy to measure" part.
"Easy to measure" refers specifically to the way that FIs can glean valuable information on user preferences. These preferences can range from which features are most popular on a given SmartwebApp to the kind of user metrics that can power intelligent and relevant In-SmartApp marketing and messaging.
Malauzai Software relies on a pair of tools to help pull this off. Its Real-Time Metrics and Reporting functionality (REBA) ensures that the bank or credit union maintains "constant, real-time contact" with their mobile channel. Administrators can access this data either by way of an online-based portal or with an iPad SmartApp.
The other resource is Malauzai's Application Management System (AMS). Centrally managed by way of an administration portal (SAMI), the system enables central management of the SmartApps, and includes the ability to make changes to the SmartApp in real-time and across platforms, without having to update the App in app stores.
What can we expect to see from Malauzai in the months to come? The fact that the company is innovating against the grain with its current emphasis on bringing a mobile-quality experience to the desktop is worth watching. And for more on the debate, check out Malauzai's Chief Technology Officer, Danny Piangerelli, post-FinovateFall blog post at Malauzai's Monkey Chatter blog.
Malauzai also expects to take advantage of innovation in other areas, such as the new iOS8 operating system, with biometric authentication via TouchID, and the birth of ApplePay.
At the same time, focusing on how the web and mobile products work together, ensuring the sort of omni-channel experience their community bank and credit union clients want to deliver, remains key. And the best part, according to Malauzai, is that innovation at this end of the market is not zero sum. "We allow community banks and credit unions to out-innovate money center banks," Gaynor said. "But anything we can do to enable the success of a CU is a positive for the whole industry."
Check out a video of Malauzai Software's live demo here.
The investment is the second major deal for Frost Brooks, and the first significant infusion of capital for BizEquity.
Founded in 2010 and based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, BizEquity specializes in business valuation. The company has valued more than 13 million businesses around the world using its cloud-based, Big Data engine. The company's "Valuation-as-a-Service" approach provides real-time valuation monitoring, a pre-value estimate for more than 27 million companies, as well as online advice and alerts.
In talking about the investment, BizEquity CEO Michael Carter praised Frost Brooks relationships with "some of the most powerful names in British business". Carter also mentioned a "full launch" in the UK "early next year." Frost Brooks Managing Partner Miles Frost pointed to Carter's experience as a successful fintech entrepreneur, and BizEquity's understanding of the "complexities of valuation" as reasons for enthusiasm about his firm's new minority stake in the company.
It was another $200 million week, primarily due to Square's $150 million round. Of the remaining $54 million raised, $38 million went to Finovate alums: Blockchain ($30.5 mil), BizEquity ($5.1 mil), Xpenditure ($1.25 mil), Spreedly ($750,000) and Powerlytics (undisclosed).
Here are last weeks 19 deals by size (Oct 4 to Oct 10):
mCASH seeks to make payments easier by enabling consumers to pay and get paid directly from their mobile device. By scanning a QR code on a screen or printed on paper, consumers can pay for goods or services at a physical point-of-sale (POS), in-app, or online. Additionally, they can make peer-to-peer payments by sending the funds to the recipient's mobile phone number.
Founded in 2010
$9.5 million in funding
360,000 merchants have POS terminals that support mCASH
Uses two-factor authentication
Consumers first need to set up their funding source(s), which can include credit and debit cards, direct bank transfer, or prepaid cards. For multiple funding sources, they can set a default option.
Consumerscan use mCASH at a physical point of sale or online, by scanning a QR code.
>> At physical POS mCASH recently partnered with payment terminal provider Point, which is owned by Verifone, to enable merchants to accept payment through mCASH at the physical POS. To pay, users simply open the mCASH app, scan the QR code that appears on the payment terminal, and accept the payment.
When a merchant does not have a POS terminal that supports QR codes, they use a printed QR code affixed near their register.
>> Peer-to-peer payments To make peer-to-peer payments, users simply:
Select the amount they want to send
Pick the account to fund the transaction
Choose a recipient from their address book
Swipe to confirm the payment
The money is both debited and credited in real time.
>> Mobile merchants
mCASH recently debuted a web app specifically for mobile merchants. Unlike Square and iSettle, this solution does not require additional hardware. Instead, the customer uses their smartphone to scan the QR code on the screen of the merchant's smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
After scanning the QR code, the consumer receives a payment request on their smartphone and swipes to pay and complete the transaction.
>> Printed ads mCASH can also be used directly on printed advertisements, billboards, or TV ads to entice consumers to buy. When merchants include a QR code next to a product for sale, customers can scan it using the mCASH app to begin the checkout process. The app requests payment from the customer, who selects their preferred payment method, confirms the amount, and provides their pre-loaded shipping details.
Aside from being a platform that merchants can use to accept payments, mCASH also makes it easy for businesses to build loyalty, offers and rewards into the payment experience.
mCASH provides consumers a low friction way to pay while offering merchants an easy and inexpensive method of collecting payment. The two-factor authentication creates a secure payment environment that reduces the risk of fraud for both parties.
Businesses who wish to on-board with mCASH face few hurdles since there is no need to purchase additional hardware and the web-based payment platform works on every device with a browser. Additionally, mCASH chargers a lower transaction fee than solutions such as Square and iZettle.
This latest investment in the real-time digital payment network was led by CME Group. The round included participation from a handful of existing investors, as well, specifically, Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, and Village Ventures.
Writing for the Dwolla blog, CEO and Founder Ben Milne talked about how the investment will have an "immediate impact," pointing to CME Group's experience as "the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace. This has led to some interesting speculation on next steps and potential future deployments of Dwolla's technology.
Recently in the news announcing the official launch of MassPay, Dwolla also was featured in an American Banker column on payment technology and wearables like Google Glass. In June, Dwolla released its Direct service to allow users to send money without requiring fully registered Dwolla accounts. The month before, the company launched Next Day Transfers, its new small business service offering that provides faster deposits (three times faster than ACH), and next-day bank withdrawals.
Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, Dwolla demoed its FiSync solution at FinovateSpring 2012 in San Francisco.
There are many ways to enjoy Finovate conferences. And for those who weren't able to be in New York for the show in person (and for many who were), the Finovate Twitter feed at #Finovate is often the next best thing to being there.
See for yourself! And don't forget to check out the full slate of demo videos from FinovateFall 2014 now up in our "Watch Demos" video section.
Thanks again to all those who presented, sponsored, and/or attended FinovateFall 2014. We'll see you next year!
Xpenditure, a mobile and web-based expense management platform announced today that it raised $1.25 million in funding from existing investors.
This funding, added to Xpenditure's initial round of $1.75 million, brings the Belgium-based company's funding to $3 million.
It plans to use the funding to expand its operations. In fact, it recently opened an office in New York City and plans to grow its team from 15 to 25 people by the end of 2014.
When users scan their receipts into Xpenditure, the system pulls all relevant data and organizes the information in its web-based portal. Once all of the users' expenses have been uploaded and organized, they can export expense and reimbursement reports into their ERP software or a CSV file.
Xpenditure was developed in 2011 by CardWise, a company that specializes in prepaid card products.
The successful round comes as the company celebrates reaching 2.3 million consumers with its private, secure, and portable bitcoin wallets. Writing at the Blockchain blog, the company credits Lightspeed Venture Partners for being one of the first Silicon Valley firms to begin paying serious attention to the bitcoin phenomenon. Wicklow Capital also comes in for commendation, with Blockchain hoping to leverage Wicklow's experience and leadership in developing "technology enabled trading and financial services".
Blockchain also announced new additions to its board of directors, onboarding Richard Branson, Mosaic Ventures, and Prudence Holdings, among others.
Founded in 2011 by Ben Reeves as a way to study and analyze the bitcoin market, Blockchain is the maker of the first, Java-based, client side bitcoin wallet that makes it easy for individuals to store and use their bitcoins. Calling itself the "de facto search engine for the bitcoin economy," Blockchain manages more than two million bitcoin wallets, representing more than $21 billion in total payment volume.
Reeves currently serves as Blockchain CTO, Nicholas Cary is CEO, and Peter Smith is President.
Blockchain participated in the first FinDEVr conference last week in San Francisco, where they demonstrated their core API for bitcoin development. Read more about the company's FinDEVr presentation here.