LendKey Raises $13 Million in Equity and Debt Financing

Lending-as-a-service specialist LendKey raised $13 million in Series C funding this week. The round consisted of both equity and debt financing ($8 million of the former, $5 million of the latter) and was led by Portland, Maine-based North Atlantic Capital. Also participating in the investment were existing investors DFJ, Gotham Ventures, TTV Capital, and Updata Partners.

“Traditional financial institutions are now more than ever adapting to evolving customer needs to remain competitive and better reach millennials,” LendKey CEO and founder Vince Passione said, “LendKey empowers these institutions to compete in today’s lending market by digitizing their loan businesses.” This week’s investment boosts LendKey’s total capital to more than $27 million. Passione said the financing will help the company “meet the strong bank and credit union demand” for its services. LendKey plans to expand its regional office in Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as add talent in account development and sales.

Pictured (left to right): CEO and founder Vince Passione and CPO Strati Papgeorge demonstrating LendKey Marketplace at FinovateSpring 2015.

North Atlantic Capital Managing Director Mark Morrissette praised LendKey’s “impressive industry knowledge and background” and the way its technology solved “a real need for banks and credit unions.” LendKey’s white-label, lending-as-a-service model enables banks, credit unions, and alternative lenders to digitize their lending operations with a solution that manages the entire loan cycle. This includes demand generation, online decisioning, loan origination, and customer service. The company’s solutions help lenders conduct programs in private student loans, student loan refinancing, auto loans, and home improvement loans.

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in New York City, LendKey demonstrated its LendKey Marketplace at FinovateSpring 2015. With clients including Navy FCU, McGraw-Hill FCU, and WSFS Bank, LendKey has deployed more than $1.5 billion in capital to borrowers. This spring, LendKey presented its Student Loan Refinance Report, highlighting borrower trends in lending preferences and loan performance. Also this spring, LendKey earned a finalist spot in the 2017 Best of FinXTech Awards, along with fellow Finovate alums Roostify, Moven, and Green Dot.

Top Five Trends in Customer Engagement Technology

Guest post by Ian Dunbar, CEO of SuiteBox

Financial services businesses face many pressures – cost reduction, scalability, risk mitigation, compliance, and regulation. Technology is the solution, at least in part, to these pressures. However, technology adds to the friction or customer effort of engaging with the financial service. More effort = customer disengagement.

Cutting across fintech, there are rapid advances being made in technology that drives customer engagement. Here are some of the top themes in CETech – customer engagement technology – that are worth watching.

Social media delivering personalization (and profiling)

Social media, search history, and analytic tools leveraging our digital social footprint will become mainstream in building real time client profiles. This will enable financial services providers to engage with clients through highly-relevant personalized content and to leverage profiles to determine product suitability.

For example, being aware of changes in a client’s family situation (perhaps the death of a loved one or a divorce) may enable the proactive deployment of more effective financial strategies. Product designers can even leverage existing social media data to determine the risks associated with the delivery of a product or service. A life insurer can build an individual’s risk profile more accurately from social media data than from a questionnaire.

Artificial intelligence and cognitive learning

Conversational speech and facial expressions can be analyzed to determine customer emotions. Microsoft’s Emotion API, for example, can detect anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise from a voice stream and images.

Financial service providers can use cognitive tools to deliver their products in a more engaging manner. Meeting with a client in person, via video or on the telephone, can be analyzed in real time. Risk assessment for miss-selling, real timing adapting of what and how a product is presented, or even determining if client is misrepresenting information will all be possible.

The power of video

Most surveys continue to tell us that customers prefer meeting personally with their financial providers. However this can be costly and inconvenient. Do you or your clients want to spend time in traffic, battling for a parking spot, and suffering the stress of congested roads, for a personal meeting?

Of course not. So we use the phone as our primary non-physical meeting tool. But the problem with the phone is it doesn’t employ the power of sight. Eye contact is fundamental to human communication. We can tell a lot from a person’s eyes, what mood they are in, and their level of comfort. Avoiding eye contact with strangers is a common strategy to remain private, especially in situations of close proximity. Yet this is what we do in important telephone calls with our clients.

Biometrics gather momentum

Usernames and passwords are an enormous source of consumer frustration and customer effort. Fingerprint recognition of smartphones has led consumers to treat biometrics as mainstream. This will rapidly expand as biometrics allow a convergence between previously incompatible goals of enhanced security without customer effort.

Smarter virtual assistants

Natural language voice recognition combined with smart virtual assistants mean we will increasingly talk to our financial services websites or apps, rather than our fingers doing the work. Love or hate Siri, voice commands will be increasingly accepted as the norm.

Get ready

Embed customer effort reducing measures and customer-centric design into your digital strategies. Embed the customer experience into user journeys using the latest engagement technologies. Create your own “Customer Experience Lab” to test the experience. There is no better time to put your customer back into the centre of your IT strategy.


Ian Dunbar is the CEO of SuiteBox. SuiteBox enables a permanently open digital workspace to be established between a host and participants of a meeting, allowing participants to meet via video or physically, share and collaborate on documents between the parties, digitally sign documents, establish evidence of identify & record the meeting for future reference. Headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand and founded in 2013, the company demonstrated its technology at FinovateEurope 2016.

Innovation Acceleration: Incubators and Innovation Labs Driving Development in Fintech

 

To prepare for our expanded FinovateFall conference in September, we’re taking a look at some of the new additions during Discussion Days September 13 and 14. Today, we’re previewing our Showcase of Accelerators, Incubators, and Innovation Labs on the 14th.

FinovateFall 2017’s showcase on accelerators, incubators, and innovation labs features demos from startups representing each of our accelerators, with the audience selecting the most innovative startup based on “biggest impact in startup ecosystem.” Here is a sampling of the accelerators and incubators whose startups will be represented during our showcase.

500 Startups

With investments in areas ranging from payments and financial services to IoT, drones, and hardware, 500 Startups is an early-stage venture capital fund and accelerator specializing in seed and Series A investment. The company has provided capital to more than 1,900 companies from more than 60 countries.

  • Founded in 2010 by Dave McClure and Christine Tsai
  • Headquartered in Mountain View, California
  • Notable Startups: Finova Financial (FS16), WePay (FS14), Toshl Finance (FE14), EquityZen (FS16)

500 Startups is a big champion of diversity in technology. More than 65% of 500 Startups’ managing partners are women (44% of the 500 Startups team overall). More than 44% of the accelerator’s portfolio founders are members of ethnic minority groups, and 500 Startups funds scholarships to help underrepresented investors attend its VCUnlocked investor education program.

Citi Ventures

Citi Ventures is the “innovation engine” of Citi. The division invests in startups, supports new technologies, and tests new products and services in its Innovation Labs and businesses. Citi Ventures made its first investment in July 2010, and saw its first portfolio company exit (Silver Tail acquired by EMC) two years later. Citi Ventures launched its first fintech accelerator in Tel Aviv in 2013.

  • Founded in 2010 by Debby Hopkins
  • Headquartered in Palo Alto, California
  • Notable Startups: LinkableNetworks (FF12), Ayasdi (FF14), Feedzai (FE14), Betterment (FF11), Chain (FD15), BlueVine (FF14), Plaid (FD14), Pindrop Security (FF12)

In 2017, Citi Ventures began the year appointing a new chief, Vanessa Colella, who was also named Chief Innovation Officer of Citi. Citi Ventures launched its Citi University Partnerships in Discovery program in February and in May, the venture capital arm of Citi leveraged the technology from portfolio company (and Finovate alum) Chain, to launch Citi Connect for Blockchain integrated with Nasdaq Linq.

Omidyar Network RegTech Accelerator

Omidyar Network is an active impact investor that provides both financial and human capital to entrepreneurs in five main focus areas: education, emerging technology, governance and citizen engagement, property rights, and financial inclusion. The firm, launched by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, has a special interest in “entrepreneurs who share our commitment to advancing social good at the pace and scale the world needs today.”

  • Founded in 2004 by Pierre and Pam Omidyar
  • Headquartered in Redwood City, California
  • Notable Startups: Digi.me, Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (FA12), Lenddo, Prosper (FS09), RevolutionCredit (FF13), Tandem Bank

Earlier this year, Omidyar Network teamed up with Finovate alum Twilio as the firm launched its Impact Fund to support social impact programs. In February, Omidyar Network invested $2.9 million in an initiative to support the development of civic technology platforms in Latin America. In total, Omidyar Network has committed more than $900 million in for-profit investments and non-profit grants since inception.

Startupbootcamp NY

With partners including Mastercard, Santander, and Route 66 Ventures, Startupbootcamp NY provides fintech startups with seed funding, professional mentorship, New York City office space, and access to a worldwide network of fintech investors and businesses. The program’s areas of focus includes advanced analytics, blockchain technology, financial inclusion, identity & authentication, investments & personal finance, mobile security, P2P lending, and payments.

  • Founded in 2o1o by Alex Farcet, Carsten Kolbeck, Patrick de Zeeuw, and Ruud Hendriks
  • Headquartered in London, U.K.
  • Notable Startups: BankGuard (FE17), bondIT (FF16), Dragon Wealth Asia (FA13), investUP (FE16), InvoiceSharing (FE17), iproov (FE17)

An accelerator network with a global reach, Startupbootcamp sponsors events in more than 100 cities every year. It has more than 460 startups in its portfolio, more than 70% of which received funding. Startupbootcamp was named Best Accelerator 2014 in the European Tech Startup Awards. In addition to its fintech accelerators in New York, London, Singapore, and Mumbai, Startupbootcamp also provides programs in e-commerce (Amsterdam), insurance (London), and IoT (Barcelona).

Techstars

Since its inception, Techstars has accelerated more than 1,000 companies, with an active or acquired rate of 90%. The firm has provided $3.7 billion in total funding to startups with a total market capitalization of more than $9 billion. “We fund technology oriented companies, typically web-based or other software companies,” Techstars explains in an FAQ, “but we’ve funded companies that don’t quite fit that mold as well.”

  • Founded in 2006 by David Cohen, Brad Feld, David Brown, and Jared Polis
  • Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado
  • Notable Alums: Remitly, DigitalOcean, ImpulseSave (FF12), Realty Mogul, Good April (FS13), Market IQ (FF13), Bitfusion, Zighra (FF13), Robinhood,

Techstars just celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Techstars Startup Weekend. Also this month, Techstars announced the addition of more than 100 companies to its Worldwide Network. In June, Techstars teamed up with GINCO to launch the Techstars Dubai Accelerator, which opens this month and will begin its first class in January. Techstars introduced a new accelerator in Paris in March, partnering with venture capital firm, Partech Ventures.


The upcoming Showcase of Accelerators, Incubators, and Innovation Labs at FinovateFall will feature demos from each of our featured accelerators. To be a part of our Discussion Days audience at FinovateFall, be sure to register and save your spot at the show today.

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Expensify Announces Five New ReceiptBurner Partners

Expensify unveiled a quintet of new partners for its automation-first ReceiptBurner platform this week. The new integrations will make it easy for qualified business expenses such as corporate travel bookings, on-demand parking payments, “and even private jet airfare” to be tracked and recorded into Expensify.

Calling his company’s technology a “full-time travel companion,” David Barrett highlighted the importance of removing the hassle from business travel. “We aim to make business travel smoother every step of the way,” Barnett said in a statement. “That means easing the burden of expense management for everyone involved, from the admin coordinating the travel to the employee out in the field.”

The five new partners are: The Parking Spot, ParkWhiz, Pana, TRAVO, and Jettly. The Parking Spot and ParkWhiz are on-demand parking reservation platforms; The Parking Spot is actually the largest owner/operator of airport parking properties near airports. Pana and TRAVO are trip booking and planning resources. Jettly is a private jet chartering marketplace.

Users of Expensify’s ReceiptBurner no longer have to smartscan or email their receipts to the company for tracking. Instead, when a transaction with one of the company’s growing number of partners occurs, ReceiptBurner automatically creates a receipt and sends it directly to Expensify where it is added to the user’s expense report. “ReceiptBurner eliminates one more step in the expense reporting process,” Expensify Marketing Generalist Gabi Horowitz announced on the company blog a year ago this month when the new solution was introduced. “(ReceiptBurner brings) us even closer to a utopian world in which business travelers can focus on business rather than the logistics of travel.”

Headquartered in San Francisco, Expensify demonstrated its Invoices solution at FinovateSpring 2013. Earlier this month, the company announced a new partnership with Lyft that will make it easier for business travelers using the ride-sharing service to manage their Lyft-related expenses using Expensify. And last month, Expensify reported exceeding the 35,000 customer milestone, reached in part by 15,000 new U.S. customers this year alone. In May, the company teamed up with fellow Finovate and FinDEVr alum, Xero, to power in-house expense management for the New Zealand-based cloud accounting innovator’s 21 offices around the world.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Expensify Announces Five New Receiptburner Partners.
  • Flybits Raises $6.5 Million to Help Banks Put Data to Work

Around the web

  • Jumio introduces eyeball tracking to the “liveness” check of its biometric authentication solution, Netverify.
  • NYMBUS adds executive talent, opens center of strategic excellence in Glastonbury, Connecticut.
  • Co-founder Kristo Käärmann takes the helm at TransferWise.
  • PayPal announces strategic partnership with Samsung Pay.
  • ThreatMetrix named the Leader in The Forrester Wave: Risk-Based Authentication, Q3 2017.

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.

NCR Software at Center of Swiss ATM Harmonization Initiative

Technology from NCR will help drive a new initiative to modernize and upgrade ATMs used by Swiss banks. The project, ATMfutura, is being led by Switzerland’s SIX Group, and will standardize UI and user guidance on all ATMs in the country. The pilot begins this summer and continues through the balance of the year, with the new software from NCR, based on the company’s NCR APTRA Top Client Server, made available to all Swiss ATMs in 2018.

The goal of the ATMfutura project is to bring a common standard to Swiss ATMs – replacing more than 20 different solutions currently in use – making ATMs easier to use for customers and more cost efficient for FIs to run and manage. Among the features to be added as part of the “harmonization” of Swiss ATMs are mobile cash withdrawals using QR codes, the ability to choose cash denominations, and a voice-guided interface for customers with visual impairments. Many of these features are offered by certain Swiss banks; the ATMfutura project aims to bring these features to all Swiss ATMs.

Pictured: Digital Insight Labs Product Management Co-Lead Suzan Szollar demonstrating NCR’s VR Collaboration for ATMs at FinovateSpring 2017.

“We are proud of the trust that SIX placed in us with this project,” NCR Switzerland Country Manager Paul Thuer said. “The configuration and modernization of existing components for a new, standardized ATM software platform is a complex task that requires a trusting cooperation between both parties,” Thuer explained, adding that he felt the ATMfutura project would have a positive “lighthouse effect on other countries.”

Six Payment Services Division CEO Juerg Weber called the ATM software standardization “only the first step in the ATMfutura project.” Weber sees the project eventually providing Swiss banks solutions that help them further lower costs and boost usability of their ATMs “through standardization, volume purchasing options, and optimized processes.” Weber credited NCR for having the “long term experience, flexibility, and know-how” to manage a project of ATMfutura’s scale.

Founded in 1884 and headquartered in Duluth, Georgia, NCR demonstrated Virtual Reality Collaboration for ATMs at FinovateSpring 2017. Earlier this year, NCR introduced its SelfServ 80 Series ATMs, which feature 19-inch touch display drives and a tablet-like user interface. In February, the company announced that Bottomline Technologies had integrated NCR’s intelligent transaction processing platform, Authentic, into its Direct Faster Payment Service solution.

The largest provider of multivendor ATM software in the world, NCR is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “NCR.” The company has a market capitalization of $5 billion, and includes Finovate alum, Digital Insight, among its subsidiaries. Each day, NCR’s software, hardware, and services enable nearly 700 million transactions in verticals ranging from retail and hospitality to financial services and technology. William Nuti is CEO and Chairman.

 

defiSOLUTIONS Hires Keven Sticher as Chief Information Officer

defiSOLUTIONS has appointed Keven Sticher as its new Chief Information Officer. Sticher comes to the company after stints as SVP of Technology and Security for Monogram Residential Trust and VP of IT for Exeter Finance Corporation. At defiSOLUTIONS, Sticher will be responsible for “business alignment, vision, strategy, and execution of information technology and security.”

Chief Operating Officer Georgine Muntz praised Sticher’s “solid track record of deploying scalable technology.” In addition to his work with Monogram Residential Trust and Exeter Financial, Sticher is a board member of computer and network security consultancy, Fox Three, and an official member of the Forbes Technology Council. “His leadership will strengthen the defi core as we continue to expand and provide even greater value to our lenders,” Muntz said.

“I love this company,” Sticher (pictured) said. “I believe in it and what the defi team has been accomplishing. And I look forward to making certain we successfully get to the next level.”

defiSOLUTIONS made a name for itself by delivering the auto lending industry’s first fully-configurable Loan Origination Solution (LOS). Demonstrated at FinovateSpring 2014, the technology has enabled the company’s clients – ranging from established auto finance companies to startup lenders –  to process up to 30,000 applications and fund up to 1,500 deals a month. Now the company provides a wide range of services including loan management and servicing, analytics and reporting, digital loan document handling, direct loan application services, and an auto loan portfolio marketplace, defiEXCHANGE introduced in May.

defiSOLUTIONS was founded in 2012 and is based in Grapevine, Texas. Stephanie Alsbrooks is founder and CEO. Earlier this month, she was named the Southwest Region EY Entrepreneur of the Year in Emerging Technology .

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • defiSOLUTIONS Hires Keven Sticher as Chief Information Officer.
  • NCR at Center of Swiss ATM Harmonization Initiative

Around the web

  • CREALOGIX wins The Goodacre Systems in the City Award for 2017.
  • Business Insider profiles Brian Barnes, founder of M1 Finance.
  • Fujitsu begins selling SaaS lending and leasing technology developed by Cloud Lending Solutions.
  • TSYS extends commercial payments agreement with Germany’s Degussa Bank.
  • The Entrust Group announces new integration with eMoney Advisor.
  • Global Debt Registry finishes trial of secure, permissioned blockchain proof of concept.

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.

New Partnership Turns PayPal into Apple App Store Payment Option

One small step for consumer choice in e-commerce. One giant leap in PayPal’s quest to be the payment option of choice for shoppers online.

This week the company announced a partnership with Apple to allow shoppers to pay for their purchases at the App Store using PayPal. The feature will be available for users of a variety of Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and iPod. In addition to the App Store, PayPal will be a payment option for a variety of Apple services including Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks. The new partnership is a major coup for PayPal insofar as the App Store previously limited payment options to debit and credit cards. Accepting PayPal also lowers the potential threat the company faced from Apple’s own payment technology, Apple Pay. This week’s deal follows a similar arrangement PayPal forged with Google that launched in April.

“PayPal’s availability across Apple’s services further expands our vision of providing customers a variety of ways to easily make mobile purchases,” PayPal EVP and COO Bill Ready wrote at the company blog. He noted that consumers will be able to ask Apple’s Siri to make a payment via the PayPal app. The agreement between Apple and PayPal is also seen a a big win for consumer choice. MarketWatch quoted industry analyst James Cakmak who noted that the trend toward giving consumers more payment options was strong among the major payment networks and card issuers.

Founded in 1998 and acquired by eBay in 2002, San Jose-based PayPal demonstrated its Instant Account Creation functionality at FinovateEurope 2012. The company is also an alum of our developers conference, teaming up with Braintree to present “The Future of Payment Identity” and host a workshop “Making Payments Fun” at FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2014. PayPal made headlines last month when it made an undisclosed investment in online lender and fellow Finovate alum, LendUp. Also in June, PayPal partnered with Flywire – also a Finovate alum – to facilitate international money transfers. The company began the year with a major acquisition, picking up TIO Networks for $230 million in February.

Enhancing the Customer Experience in Financial Services

Guest post by Sean Daly, Director of Partnerships, SaleMove

Over the last decade, financial technology, or “fintech”, has completely changed the financial services industry. While fintech innovations provide companies with convenience and outreach potential from the perspective of the financial institution, they are only useful if the customer feels comfortable interfacing with its framework (i.e. customer experience). Fintech has felt the challenges of customer experience, and here we’ll quickly go through a couple of those challenges along with some ways you can solve them.

The Differentiation Challenge

In order to understand the differentiation challenge in financial services, let’s point to the auto industry as an example. In the early days of modern manufacturing, the focus was put on mass production. Over the years with more competition, the priority began to shift from mass production to mass customization.

A good example is the Ford Model T; More than 15 million of them were built from 1908-1927. Apart from a few design modifications, Ford produced the same exact car 15 million times. As more and more competitors entered the market, the car became commoditized, which made differentiation extremely difficult. In reaction, automakers began providing a more personalized and customized auto experience. Flash forward to today and think about how many customizations are available on any new automobile. You can even design your own car online and have it delivered to your door. The focus switched from mass production to mass customization and personalization.

With a physical product like a car, the buying experience ends when the physical product is in the customer’s hands and they drive it away. In financial services, where there is no physical product, the customer will reflect back on the buying itself as the product. In financial services, the experience is the product.

The Touchpoint Challenge

Customers place a particularly high priority on trust and convenience. According to a recent survey sponsored by Zendesk, 62% of customers buy more when they have a good buying experience, but even more (64%) stopped buying when they had a bad customer experience. This is even more so in financial services because they are handling your money!

Today’s customer has infinite touch points, and they react badly and quickly to poor experiences. With social media, people can share their negative thoughts about a bad interaction with their circles within minutes (remember the United Airlines incident?), and it’s no secret that customers are much more likely to share bad experiences than good ones.

Let’s look at some ways you can solve these customer experience challenges:

● Map the customer journey to provide a consistent and relevant experience. If you haven’t mapped the customer journey on your website yet, read this HBR article to get started.

● Build personalized online experiences around customer segments to improve relevance. For example, Caribou coffee does this by remembering the customer’s preferences and then displays targeted flavors and products according to past activity. Netflix also serves as a good example with their profile personalization, which allows different profiles to share the same account. Financial services companies can do the same by personalizing experiences with Guided Selling products like SmartAssistant.

● Connect online with offline to build a comprehensive view of your customer. There are two ways financial services businesses can do this, either by heavily tracking their customer through analytics software on and offline, or connecting the two seamlessly. With new technologies like chat, video chat, and CoBrowsing, online interactions can be made to feel personal and authentic, similar to face-to-face experiences. We call this “creating the in-person customer experience online.

If you’re interested in learning more about CoBrowsing or considering to purchase a technology solution like it, check out this article:

Questions to Ask When Choosing a CoBrowsing Solution


Sean Daly is Director of Partnerships at SaleMove. A four-time Finovate Best of Show winner, SaleMove was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in New York City. The company most recently demonstrated its Engagement Platform and OmniBrowse solution at FinovateSpring 2017. Dan Michaeli is CEO.