Finovate Alumni News


  • Finovate Alums Earn Spots in European Fintech 100.

Around the web

  • MapD to speed research with GPIs as part of collaboration with Harvard University’s Center for Geographic Analysis.
  • OnDeck celebrates 10 years  of  alternative lending
  • Challenger bank Fidor reaches 200,000 customers
  • Open Banking selects Ping Identity to provide the identity and access management to underpin the UK’s open banking framework
  • Banco Interamericano de Finanzas leverages Infocorp’s marketing orchestrator tool, Prisma Campaigns

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.

Bambu Wins Strategic Investment from Franklin Templeton

Singapore-based B2B roboadvisor Bambu has completed a funding round that featured a strategic investment from Franklin Templeton Investments and venture capital funding from Wavemaker Partners, part of the Draper Venture Network. Also participating in the round was fintech and global robo advisor investor and advocate, Robby Hilkowitz.

“Bambu is now a growth stage company in the rapidly changing world of digital wealth,” Bambu CEO and co-founder Ned Phillips said. “To gain support from leading industry players brings great momentum towards our goal of becoming the market leader in the space.” He added that the company would use the new capital to speed business development and sales efforts, as well as bolster research and development.

Although the amount of this week’s investment was not made public, TechinAsia reports that the company’s total funding is more than $1 million, including a $400,000 seed round in the spring of 2016.

Pictured (left to right): Bambu CEO Ned Phillips and COO Aki Ranin demonstrating the Robo and Intelligent Digital Advisory platform at FinovateAsia 2016.

Bambu’s strategy as a robo advisory platform is to de-commoditize the industry by offering solutions that are tailored to specific markets.  The company offers an Intelligent Advisor solution that is geared toward private banks and wealth managers working with high net worth clients. Bambu also has a white-label, robo advisory platform for affluent and retail investors that enables banks and asset managers to offer clients the ability to build personalized, goal-based portfolios.

Wavemaker Partners managing partner Paul Santos credited the experience of Bambu co-founders Ned Phillips and Aki Ranin in support of the firm’s investment. Praising the pair’s “deep domain expertise building scalable, sustainable businesses,” Santos added, “Ned and Aki have gone from strength to strength to find customers that love their product and have built up a promising pipeline.”

Bambu demonstrated its Robo and Intelligent Digital Advisory platform at its Finovate debut in Hong Kong in November 2016. In January, Bambu won Best Early Startup at the Next Money Fintech Finals in Hong Kong. Finovate research analyst Julie Muhn highlighted the company in her look at “Top Business-to-Business Wealth Tech Players” earlier this year. Bambu is a veteran of Hong Kong’s SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator 2.0, sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank and Fidelity International. The company was founded in 2016.

Interested in fintech in Asia? FinovateAsia returns to Hong Kong this November. Visit our FinovateAsia 2017 page for more information. Reserve your ticket by September 29th to take advantage of early-registration savings.

Blackhawk Network Acquires CashStar in $175 Million Deal

With Blackhawk Networks’ $175 million acquisition of fellow Finovate alum CashStar, we may soon learn just how good digital gifting is going to get.

Talbott Roche, CEO and president of Blackhawk Network, said the deal “strategically enhances Blackhawk’s ability to provide the right digital solutions to our partners to meet the changing needs of business customers and consumers.” She added that the acquisition made Blackhawk “a leading provider in the fast growing, first-party digital (gift card) market.” CEO and president of CashStar Ben Kaplan added that the combination of CashStar’s platform and Blackhawk’s “product breadth and global reach” would deliver “more powerful capabilities and new revenue opportunities for our clients and partners.” The acquisition will make CashStar a part of Blackhawk’s digital and incentives business, with Kaplan remaining on board to manage the business.

The acquisition is an all-cash deal which Blackhawk CFO Jerry Ulrich said would be “at least earnings neutral in fiscal 2017 and meaningfully accretive after synergies in 2018.” Ulrich also anticipates the acquisition will “generate positive cash flow in 2018” as well as boost topline growth.

CashStar’s platform gives retailers the ability to market, sell, and distribute both plastic and digital gift cards. The company offers a Commerce platform for merchants and an Exchange platform for gift card distributors and loyalty program managers. Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Portland, Maine, CashStar demonstrated its Digital Gifting and Incentives platform at FinovateFall 2011. The company added real-time card activation, security improvements, and streamlined ordering in its last platform upgrade in July, and in May, CashStar’s Velocity B2B division helped global prestige retailer Sephora to introduce a B2B gift card program.

This spring, the company partnered with discount gift card marketplace Raise in a deal that will give the Chicago-based startup access to more than 250 merchants and 40 payment processors. CashStar had raised $44 million in funding previous to this week’s acquisition, most recently completing a $15 million Series D in 2015. The company’s customers include Starbucks, The Home Depot, and Uber.

Headquartered in Pleasanton, California, Blackhawk Network demonstrated its GoWallet solution at FinovateFall 2012. Last month, the company partnered with fellow Finovate alum PayNearMe, giving the cash transaction network access to Blackhawk’s retail partners. In May, the San Francisco Business Times recognized Blackhawk’s Roche with its Inspire Award as part of its annual “Most Influential Women in Business” initiative. Also honored by the Times was the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Teri Llach. Blackhawk Network trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker “HAWK” and has a market capitalization of $2.5 billion.

Avoka Reports Record Growth for Second Consecutive Year

Avoka is celebrating its second year in a row of topping expectations. The company has experienced big gains in order numbers (79% overall, 67% new business), opened a new office in Frankfurt, Germany, and launched a new solution to help FIs build and implement their visions for an omni-channel experience.

“Large banks across Europe, North America, and Australia are continuing to recognize the benefits we provide and this has spurred our growth,” Avoka CEO Phil Copeland said. He credited investments in talent and technology for a system that he said is reducing abandonment rates “by more than 40%,” while reducing implementation time to “as little as three months” and onboarding “from 40 days to three.”

Avoka’s success in Europe, North America, and Australia over the years has resulted in turning four out of Australia’s top 10 banks, four out of Europe’s top 50 banks, and eight out of North America’s top 50 banks into Avoka clients. Avoka’s investments in talent include appointing former KPMG executive Matt Lewis as Chief Financial Officer in February, and hiring former CA Technologies VP Steve Demchuk as Chief Product Officer in March.

Pictured: Avoka Director of Business Development, Hali Khan, demonstrating Transact Insights at FinovateEurope 2017.

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Avoka demonstrated its Transact Insights solution at FinovateEurope 2017. Just a few weeks ago, the company announced that its partner, Bankwest, had been honored at the Australian Business Banking Awards for Best Omni-Channel Service and Best Digital Platform. In June, Avoka launched its CX Design for Banking solution, which combines human design experts and analytic tools to enable financial institutions to configure their application processes in what CX Design Practice Director Adam Miller called a “customer-centric” way instead of “around their own internal processes.”

Earlier this year, the company presented its 2017 State of Digital Sales in Banking report, looked at how quickly banks were embracing digital financial technologies. Concluding that there is a significant lag between adoption of consumer-based digital banking technologies compared to corporate banking offerings, the report noted that this meant substantial opportunity for fintech solutions exists in the corporate banking space, particularly in historically profitable business lines such as business banking and wealth management.

A multiple-time Finovate Best of Show winner, Avoka has raised $12 million in funding, and includes Moelis Australia Asset Management and Regal Funds Management among its investors.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Avoka Reports Record Growth for Second Consecutive Year.
  • Blackhawk Network Acquires CashStar in $175 Million Deal.
  • Temenos to Power Cloud-Based Lifecycle Management Suite for Baxter Credit Union

Around the web

  • Jumio partners with Plynk to bring instant verification to Europe’s first money messaging app.
  • Alaska USA FCU chooses Ignite platform from banking solutions provider Jwaala.
  • Ondot Systems joins Symitar Vendor Integration Program (VIP).
  • Tavant Selected by Newfi Lending To Provide Next-Generation Digital Platform.
  • Plaid delivers bank account integration to enterprise developers.
  • Personal Capital Reaches $5 Billion in Assets Under Management.
  • PayPal launches Mastercard– it’s first cashback credit card offering.

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.

Responsive Tiles from Geezeo Help Banks Build Personalized Digital Experiences

Personalization and customization are the watchwords when it comes to designing a top quality digital banking experience. Unfortunately, for banks and credit unions lacking the technological know-how, the task of building a banking UI/UX that meets increasingly tough consumer standards can be a Herculean one.

The good news is that financial management solutions provider Geezeo has developed and released a new set of tools to enable FIs to create the same kind of seamless, personalized consumer experiences that people have come to expect with every other digital interaction in life. Responsive Tiles give banks and credit unions the ability to mix and combine core personal financial management features and content into both mobile and online platforms.

Pictured (left to right): Geezeo CEO Shawn Ward and President Peter Glyman demonstrating the TrueBusiness – Business Financial Management platform at FinovateFall 2014.

Providing more options by removing artificial barriers was front of mind for Geezeo in developing the new technology. “Consumers want simple money management tools that support daily and long-term financial needs, and banks are recognizing that they need to blur the lines between traditional digital banking features and PFM,” Geezeo President and co-founder Peter Glyman said. Matt Tollerton, VP and Director of Digital Banking at Central Bancompany praised the way the platform “incorporates simplicity and contextual relevance” and said Responsive Tiles would support the bank’s goal of being seen as a responsible and trusted partner for customers. “We’re putting the tools where the customer will use them, at a place and point where they’ll need them,” Tollerton said.

Responsive Tiles leverage Geezeo’s API to give FIs ready access to a suite of solutions that can be incorporated into existing online and mobile banking channels. The solution supports all display types, and tiles can be configured to match the colors and sizes designated by the bank or credit union. Geezeo can also build 100% custom tiles for clients. “We want to help make their digital banking experience unique and representative of their mission and brand,” Glyman said. “A Responsive Tile strategy is likely the best model for most our clients to see this idea come to fruition.”

Among the solutions included in the Responsive Tile library are:

  • Account Sync (aggregation)
  • Categorical Expense Tracker
  • Daily Spending Calculator
  • Net Worth Analyzer
  • Recent Cashflow Analyzer
  • Spending Analysis Tool

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Braintree, Massachusetts, Geezeo demonstrated its TruBusiness – Business Financial Management platform at FinovateFall 2014. In April, the company announced a partnership with Liberty Bank, the oldest mutual bank in Connecticut, with $4.5 billion in assets and 55 banking offices throughout the state. Other partnerships forged this spring include an agreement with digital banking platform provider, Computer Service Professionals, and a deal with fellow Finovate alum Jack Henry & Associates. In May, the company’s marketing arm, Geezeo Interactive, introduced its digital reputation management solution. The service is geared toward credit unions and community banks and is designed to help smaller FIs establish a positive presence and share their message online.

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: GreatHorn

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 11 through 14 in New York. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

Targeting phishing is the most successful cyberattack type in the world – and the fintech industry is a high-value target. GreatHorn will present Inbound Email Security: automated attack protection.


  • Stops damaging and difficult-to-detect targeted email attacks
  • Built with a cloud-native architecture that deploys in less than five minutes
  • Continuously monitors all mailboxes (unlike single-point-in-time gateway solutions)

Why it’s a must-see
GreatHorn protects email users from targeted attacks by automatically detecting and stopping spear phishing attacks, malware/ransomware, and other types of malicious email that targets employees.


Chris Fraser, VP, Strategic Accounts
Fraser is a founding member of GreatHorn and serves as its VP of Strategic Accounts, where he helps enterprises create cybersecurity strategies related to their cloud communication ecosystems.

Sean Varga, Senior Account Executive
Varga has a decade of experience in enterprise software, specializing in cybersecurity. Prior to joining GreatHorn, he held positions at RSA Security and Veracode (acquired by CA Technologies).

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Experian

Experian is bringing the real time economy to the credit industry with Text for Credit, an innovative, convenient, and confidential way to apply for credit.


  • Consumers can initiate and complete the credit application process in minutes with a text message.
  • No more paperwork or anxious minutes hoping for credit approval
  • Real-time access to credit

Why it’s a must-see
Experian’s Text for Credit modernizes the lending industry by allowing consumers to obtain “real time” credit via text.


Alex Lintner, President, Experian Consumer Information Services
Lintner is responsible for overseeing Experian’s U.S. consumer credit bureau and building a stronger connection to consumer data and direct-to-consumer initiatives focusing on empowering the consumer.


Brittanee Moss, Senior Product Manager, Experian Consumer Information Services
Since joining Experian in 2013, Moss has worked in both the direct-to-consumer and business-to-business parts of the business. Moss manages products within the company’s prospecting suite.

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: CASHOFF

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 11 through 14 in New York. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

CASHOFF is a research laboratory. The main field of activity is development of a service for collecting and analyzing financial flows of bank clients.


The service helps banks collect data, and creates profiles of clients based on a model of their finances (transactions) and preferences (receipts with items).

Why it’s a must-see
Complete knowledge about the client (all their finances and goods) allows banks to suggest the best matched offers. The results of the analysis are also used in scoring systems, loyalty programs, and mobile banks.


Dmitry Gorkov, CEO

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: eSignLive by VASCO

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 11 through 14 in New York. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

eSignLive by VASCO is the white-labeled, electronic signature and vaulting solution behind some of the world’s most trusted brands. It is a best-kept secret in the financial services industry.


  • 100% transparency into the lifecycle of digital assets
  • Full compliance with ESIGN, UETA, & UCC Article 9
  • Easy to use for all parties in the digital lending process: consumers, lenders, and investors

Why it’s a must-see
eSignLive will unveil a new means for lenders and investors to register, track, and store mortgage notes and loan/lease contracts in a secure and compliant way – using the power of blockchain.


Tommy Petrogiannis, President



Francois Leblanc, Director of Technical Sales