SpyCloud Spots Stolen Credentials with Deep Dives into the Dark Web

Of all the anxieties of cybersecurity, the spectre of your personal credentials sitting in some digital warehouse on the dark web is probably near the top of the list. Every breach we read about in the news, whether it is at a retail business, a financial institution or even a government agency, brings this fear back the fore.

SpyCloud, a cyber security firm out of Austin, Texas that won Best of Show in its Finovate debut last month, takes a unique approach to this problem. The company’s Exposed Credential Monitoring and Alert Service, on display at FinovateFall, enables both institutions and individuals to find out if their exposed credentials are being actively traded on the dark web.

Left to right: SpyCloud Head of Business Development Chris LaConte and CEO and Co-Founder Ted Ross demonstrating the SpyCloud Exposed Credential Monitoring and Alert Service.

SpyCloud’s current focus is on providing its technology to the enterprise, especially in the financial, technology, and healthcare sectors. These verticals have been repeatedly targeted by cybercriminals who use techniques such as “credential stuffing” – in which stolen account credentials are used to access user accounts in large-scale, automated login requests – to compromise employee and consumer accounts, alike.

SpyCloud’s solutions and services include:

  • Corporate Credential Exposure Notifications that provide matching historical breach exposure instantly and include SpyCloud’s monitoring of the underground for stolen assets.
  • ATO (Account Takeover) for Employees which provides an Active Directory monitor tool for a single device and automatically compares new stolen credentials to a list of active users.
  • ATO for Customers which integrates the SpyCloud API into the customer login to identify customers with exposed credentials

Additionally, SpyCloud’s technology helps identify users that have been exposed to credential-stealing malware, resetting accounts or initiating further security precautions. The company also provides support for investigators via data mining through tools such as Maltego.

With our focus on security this month, we thought SpyCloud’s innovative approach – including actually interacting with the dark web’s nefarious characters to learn more about their tactics and strategies – was worth learning more about. After speaking with Ted Ross, CEO of SpyCloud, during the week of FinovateFall 2017, we followed up with a few questions by e-mail. Here are our questions and his responses.

Finovate: You began your Best of Show-winning presentation with a question about how secure we believed our personal credentials to be? Why start the conversation about security at this point?

Ted Ross: I started with this question because credential theft is a problem that affects people on a personal level – not just at work. Those who do not work in the cybersecurity space, are not regularly thinking about how exposed their credentials may be. It’s not until large-scale breaches like Equifax, Yahoo, etc. that most people begin thinking about their PII being in the hands of the wrong people. Our job is to not only educate companies on their employee and customer exposure, but to proactively alert to prevent any repercussions that may come from compromised personal credentials.  

Finovate: We are seeing a lot of new responses to the challenge of cybersecurity. SpyCloud’s approach seems unique– How did you come up with the idea?

Ross: A few years ago, I noticed the increasing trend of 3rd party data breaches and realized how these credentials put unsuspecting organizations and individuals at risk. I also realized that there wasn’t an effective solution to stop this problem. Most solutions to address this problem were/are heuristic or behavior-based solutions. From experience, behavior-based technologies are prone to false positives.  There was a need for a solution that compares existing credentials to exposed credentials with “an exact match”. No false positives, no calls to the help desk and can gracefully snap into and improve behavior based solutions.

Finovate: What is “human intelligence tradecraft” and how does it help you “interact with the bad guys and capture the information they are stealing before they post it to public forums or paid sites”?

Ross: Human intelligence (HUMINT) tradecraft is essentially the techniques, tactics and procedures used by our research team to social engineer threat actors. We don’t share details of our tradecraft for operational security reasons. At a high level, the tradecraft is used to infiltrate and maintain connections to covert threat groups/actors. We make use of HUMINT to gain access to stolen information before it can be posted to a public forum or sold/traded on the underground. Our goal is to recover this information before it can be used against our customers.

Finovate: Just how bad is the problem of stolen credentials on “the underground” as you called it? Is the problem getting worse?

Ross: The problem is getting much worse. It’s easy to see how the problem has progressed over the last 5 years with our breach timelines. When customers add their domains, they can see the number of 3rd party breaches that contained credentials that map to their employees. They can see that between 2011-2014, they were impacted by one or two breaches a year. Now, we are finding 10 new breached databases (from private sources – you won’t read about these in the press) every working day! We find so many credentials that we typically ingest about 40 million new credentials every week (and this is after we scrubbed out the duplicates). At this point, we have credentials for just about every enterprise with a digital presence. 

Finovate: What about your background encouraged you to tackle this challenge, particularly as it related to cybersecurity in financial services?

Ross: Having built a threat sharing platform in a past role, I was able to experience the various threat feeds that are available today. Most of them revolve around Indicators of Compromise (IoCs).  Something that requires a trained cyber security professional to create and use. In parallel, companies are looking for solutions that are easy to understand, easy to operationalize, effective, and priced fairly.  We created SpyCloud to address these issues. Our solution helps global enterprises, large financial institutions as well as smaller organizations and individuals. We realized up front that if it helped individuals at a personal level, then the aggregate would be something that is important for financial organizations. In aggregate, we are in a strong position to protect any organization with an online presence (i.e., financials and retailers) from customer account takeovers.     

Finovate: What’s next for SpyCloud? What are the company’s plans over the balance of 2017 and heading into 2018?

Ross: We’ve experienced tremendous growth in 2017 and don’t see that slowing down. Our Q3 results exceeded expectations. Among our enterprise wins this year, we brought on four of the largest companies in the world (within their respective industries). Q4 looks to be even stronger than Q3 and our pipeline is growing at somewhat unbelievable rates. Going into 2018, we are hiring additional security researchers and developers. In 2018, we have a few new surprises for our customers – something that will significantly strengthen their security posture while maintaining our core tenants of easy to use, highly effective and priced to be disruptive.   


SpyCloud CEO and founder Ted Ross and Head of Business Development Chris LaConte demonstrating SpyCloud Exposed Credential Monitoring and Alert Service at FinovateFall 2017.

The Faves of FinovateAsia: A Brief History of Best of Show Winners

With FinovateAsia less than one week away, it’s worth noting that the history of our Asian conference is a short, but illustrative one. Consider this: of the twelve companies awarded Best of Show from our three FinovateAsia conferences in 2012, 2013, and 2016, more than half are multiple-time Best of Show winners, having impressed audiences in London, Silicon Valley, and New York City, as well as Singapore and Hong Kong. And three of the companies have also been the targets of major acquisitions: IND Group by MisysEyeVerify by Ant Financial, and Yodlee by Envestnet.

So, other than winning multiple Best of Show awards and being acquired by major players in finance and technology, what have the Best of Show winners of FinovateAsia from last year been up to in the time since? See for yourself below.

FinovateAsia 2016Best of Show

Alpha Payments Cloud (demo)

The biggest news for Alpha Payments Cloud since winning Best of Show at FinovateAsia 2016 is likely the company’s comprehensive rebranding as Alpha Fintech in September. The move was designed to affirm the company’s status as “fintech’s first end-to-end middleware,” using a single API and UI to connect merchants and vendor suppliers across “the entire payments, risk, and commerce spectrum.”

Oliver Rajic, Alpha Fintech CEO added “Now with Alpha, (acquirers and gateways) can evolve to enable the right vendor combination for each unique requirement … thereby extending and enhancing their core solution subset.” Alpha Fintech has already made its first agreement under the new rebrand, teaming up with Payture, a major payment gateway in the CIS region. “Among the early adopters of the Alpha Fintech /Payture integration are businesses in Russia’s e-travel consumer market, which the company says is one of the largest segments of Russia’s e-commerce market.

Dynamics (demo)

Multiple-time Best of Show winner Dynamics announced a partnership with LG Electronics earlier this year. The agreement would put Dynamic’s Wireless Magnetic Communication (WMC) technology in LG Pay. The integration will enable LG mobile phones to transmit traditional magnetic stripe information wirelessly to traditional magnetic stripe readers.

“Dynamics has been building wireless magnetic communication solutions for nearly a decade and is widely considered the founder of the programmable magnetic stripe industry,” Dynamics CEO Jeff Mullen said. “Dynamics’ best-in-breed technology will help LG Pay reach hundreds of millions of new payment environments.”

EyeVerify (demo)

Acquired by Ant Financial Services Group just months before making its Best of Show-winning demonstration at FinovateAsia 2016, EyeVerify has hardly rested on its laurels. This summer, for example, the company partnered with fellow Finovate alum Daon, adding Eyeprint ID to Daon’s IdentityX platform. But the biggest headlines from this multiple Best of Show winning company have to do with their rebrand as ZOLOZ back in August.

“When I announced almost a year ago that Ant Financial acquired EyeVerify, I said we want to do more,” company founder and CEO Toby Rush wrote at the company blog. “Today we publicly commit to providing a hosted identity platform that helps people manage their digital lives.” Rush described an initiative to bring identity services to the underserved and underbanked consumers of Asia, with plans to ultimately bring hosted identity solutions to markets in North America and Europe.

Finn.ai (demo)

With two Best of Show awards in two Finovate appearances, intelligent banking assistant developer Finn.ai must be doing something right. Finn.ai earned a spot in Payment Canada’s pitch competition, Dragon’s Den, and was recognized over the summer by Capegemini’s global InnovatorsRace and at the VivaTech conference in Paris, France. Finn. ai also announced a few days ago that ATB Financial would use Finn.ai’s technology to offer its 700,000 customers the first, fully-featured, AI-powered virtual banking assistant on Facebook Messenger.

But in addition to making friends and influencing people, Finn.ai is raising capital, as well. The company raked in $3 million in new funding in October, and plans to use the financing to help add technical talent to its team, as well as support the company’s expansion in the U.S. and around the world. Banking industry veteran, Carrie Russell, who will join Finn.ai as Strategic Executive Adviser, noted the importance in helping banks “move beyond transactional banking to build deeper, more personal relationships with customers.” Russell added “I believe Finn.ai is the right partner to do this, acting as a proactive virtual assistant to help customers understand, plan and take action to improve their financial lives.”

The rest of our FinovateAsia Best of Show winners are listed below:

FinovateAsia 2013Best of Show

FinovateAsia 2012Best of Show

Stronger Together: Fintechs, Techs, and FIs Collaborating on CyberSecurity

Image Designed by Freepik

Ready for some good news on the cybersecurity front?

Most of the time cybersecurity appears in the headlines, it is a report of a breach that just occurred or a new threat to guard against in the future. Caught between the hack that caught us unaware and the certainty that it won’t be the last, we can lose sight of the fact that there are hundreds of cybersecurity firms with thousands of security professionals that are working around the clock to make our lives online a lot safer. And many of these companies are Finovate alums specializing in service to the financial industry and its customers.

Ted Ross, founder and CEO of SpyCloud, demonstrating the company’s Best of Show-winning platform at FinovateFall 2017.

Importantly, not only are these companies working 24/7/365 to fight cybercrime, but also many of them are teaming up and partnering with financial institutions, retailers, and each other to test their technologies, make key improvements and enhancements, and ultimately get their fraud-fighting solutions to market.

With that in mind – and in line with our October focus on cybersecurity – here’s a look at the partnerships, agreements, and collaborations forged by our cybersecurity-related alums so far in 2017.

October

Fintech-to-Tech

  • Mitek partners with handwriting-based biometric authentication service Asignio to deliver IDaaS solution.
  • Avoka extends strategic partnership with Mitek for digital identity verification solutions.
  • ThreatMetrix and ID.me partner to deliver ID verification for government and commercial digital services.
  • Ledger partners with Intel to boost blockchain app security.
  • BioCatch to power behavioral biometrics for Samsung SDS America. 
  • SecureKey collaborates with Intel to enable consumers to access its blockchain-based digital identity technology via traditional web browsers.
  • Zighra launches flagship continuous authentication product.
  • Kony to launch digital banking solution leveraging Daon biometrics. 
  • iSignthis to integrate its Paydentity UBO Service with Web Shield’s InvestiGate platform.
  • TASCET teams with Secured2 to launch Algo5 data security offering.

Fintech-to-FI

  • Latvian Bank Citadele secures mobile and online banking with VASCO’s DIGIPASS for Apps and CRONTO.
  • National Bank of Canada joins SecureKey’s digital identity network.

Fintech-to-ECommerce

  • HooYu to provide ID confirmation for U.K.’s Cars-as-a-Service easyCar Club.

Multiple Best of Show winner EyeVerify demonstrating its Eyeprint ID technology at FinovateEurope 2017 with partner YapiKredi Bank.

September

Fintech-to-Tech

  • Vera to provide data security services for GE.
  • BioCatch to power fraud prevention solutions for HoneyTek Systems.

Fintech-to-FI

  • DefenseStorm to bolster cybersecurity operations for Genesee Regional Bank ($551 million in assets).
  • Open Banking selects Ping Identity to provide the identity and access management to underpin the U.K.’s open banking framework.

Fintech-to-Ecommerce

  • Signifyd guarantees fraud protection for Magento Commerce Merchants.
  • Infosys Finacle partners with ToneTag to leverage sound wave technology to drive contactless authentications and transactions.

August

Fintech-to-Tech

  • Jumio partners with Plynk to bring instant verification to Europe’s first money messaging app.
  • FIS and Equifax partner to offer new identity verification solution, OnlyID.
  • Biometric Signature ID partners with National Fingerprint to provide virtual ID proofing and verification services.
  • BioCatch partners with LexisNexis to leverage data and analytics for better risk management.

Fintech-to-FI

  • Samsung to power biometric authentication pilot for Bank of America.
  • Mexican payment processor chooses fraud fighting technology from Featurespace.

Fintech-to-ECommerce

  • HooYu brings identity confirmation technology to BCRemit.

July

Fintech-to-Tech

  • ID Analytics partners with Acxiom to strengthen risk assessment and combat fraud.
  • HackerOne Powering bug bounty program for Tor browser.

Fintech-to-FI

  • MoneYou integrates Mitek’s identity solutions for real-time digital onboarding.
  • DefenseStorm to serve as cybersecurity partner for Bank of Jackson Hole to enhance security.

Fintech-to-ECommerce

  • International Air Transport Association chooses fraud prevention technology from Featurespace.
  • Signifyd brings its Guaranteed Fraud Protection solution to Authorize.Net’s U.S.-based e-commerce merchants.

Behavioral biometric innovator BehavioSec, shown here demonstrating BehavioSec on Demand at FinovateFall 2015, has won three Best of Show awards.

June

Fintech-to-Tech

  • Daon adds EyePrint ID to IdentityX platform courtesy of new partnership with EyeVerify.
  • IdentityMind Global to offer Confirm.io’s document authentication technology to its financial services customers.
  • Jumio partners with Monzo for strong identity verification.
  • iovation to integrate its device-based authentication technology with PingFederate from Ping Identity.
  • TSYS partners with Featurespace to deliver real-time decision capabilities.

Fintech-to-FI

  • Leumi Card to use Feedzai’s artificial intelligence platform to fight fraud.
  • Ghana-based Premium Bank selects NetGuardians’ anti-fraud solution – FraudGuardian.

May

Fintech-to-Tech

  • Cisco and IBM team up on security.
  • BehavioSec partners with Kount.
  • Trulioo partners with Mitek to add facial recognition functionality to its ID verification platform.
  • Daon to integrate IdentityX platform with Experian’s fraud and identity platform, CrossCore.

Fintech-to-FI

  • Australia-based forex broker Pepperstone to deploy Paydentity verification services from iSignthis.

April

Fintech-to-Tech

  • Fraud prevention innovator Featurespace partners with U.K. digital family banking solution, goHenry.
  • Payment solutions provider Buckaroo chooses AML solution from Fiserv.

Fintech-to-FI

  • Global financial services firm chooses Mobile Verify and Mobile Fill from Mitek.

Fintech-to-ECommerce

  • Braspag announces integration of e-commerce and anti-fraud technology from ACI Worldwide.

A FinDEVr favorite, HackerOne and its bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure platform leverage white hat hackers to find critical security gaps before criminals do.

March

Fintech-to-Tech

  • Mastercard adds to authentication arsenal with acquisition of NuData Security.
  • Swiss financial sector infrastructure operator SIX partners with IBM Watson to build cyber-security hub.

Fintech-to-FI

  • Daon brings mobile biometric authentication to UnionBank.
  • Co-op Financial Services to leverage machine learning-based fraud fighting technology from Feedzai.
  • Pindrop to mitigate call center fraud for credit union service organization PSCU.

Fintech-to-ECommerce

  • Saltrex to use Jumio’s Netverify Trusted-Identity-as-a-Service.
  • Featurespace to provide machine learning fraud and risk management solution to CashFlows.

February

Fintech-to-Tech

  • BioCatch brings continuous online and mobile authentication to Nuance Communications’ Security Suite solution.
  • Icon Solutions joins forces with Featurespace to bring anti-fraud protection to instant payments.

Fintech-to-FI

  • Affinity CU becomes “trusted sign-in” partner in SecureKey Concierge.
  • First national private bank of Turkey, Yapi Kredi to deploy Eyeprint ID from EyeVerify for mobile logins.

Fintech-to-ECommerce

  • Feedzai and Merchant Risk Council (MRC) team up to leverage AI and machine learning to fight fraud.
  • MoneyGram using Mobile Verify from Mitek to meet AML requirements.

January

Fintech-to-Tech

  • Arxan Technologies partners with Cisco as to protect connected medical devices.
  • WISeKey and Stratumn partner to provide enterprise-grade process security software based on blockchain technologies.
  • FICO and Ethoca partner to improve card acceptance rates, fight CNP fraud, and reduce disputes.

Fintech-to-FI

  • ACI Worldwide to provide fraud protection for Kuwait’s Shared Electronic Banking Services Company (KNET).
  • NetGuardians brings real-time fraud protection to Nigeria’s Keystone Bank.

 

Stay Current with Financial Market Data Changes Courtesy of RateSeer’s Denoti

Accessing the most accurate, up-to-date financial data is a challenge for financial professionals as well as average investors and consumers. With Denoti, Canadian fintech RateSeer has introduced a solution that helps corporate clients, smaller financial institutions, and independent investors get the market and financial data they need in order to execute their business strategies or make investment decisions.

“Our dashboards are suitable for insurance companies, banks, wealth management firms, and all kinds of financial institutions,” RateSeer CEO Donna Tilden explained from the Finovate stage during FinovateFall this September. Along with Head of Business Development Brian Smith, Tilden showed an example of a custom dashboard designed to help a Canadian bank with its mortgage lending strategy. “Within one glance the client can see the average big bank rate just around 3% and the average high rate around 6%,” Tilden said, “they instantly get a general guideline on where to set their rates.” She compared this to the typical tedious tradition of “a team spending the better part of the morning scouring websites and news feeds looking for information on mortgage rate changes, news, and general information. Now it’s all on the screen.”

RateSeer CEO and founder Donna Tilden demonstrating Denoti at FinovateFall 2017.

Tilden went on to show how the dashboard provided access to real-time information for internal KPIs such as changes in mortgage application queue, average processing times, and/or delinquency rates. At the same time, Denoti monitors external, financial data from the thousands of economic and financial data points gathered via the system’s leveraging of cloud computing and powerful algorithms. This enables the platform to note changes in market rates, commodity, bond, and currency prices, and economic indicators in dozens of countries. When there is a match between a financial or economic event and a client’s pre-set rules, Denoti sends a notification of the event via a customized e-mail. “Denoti notifications are qualitative, not quantitative,” Tilden pointed out. “You only get one when the event that you defined occurs. This allows you to be freed up from your desk, yet your business objectives are being achieved,” she said.

Denoti provides custom dashboards that include custom news feeds, with machine learning, predictive analysis, and also market sentiment ratings and trends.

Denoti also provides economic and financial news, curated by machine learning technology so that the information delivered to the client is increasingly relevant over time. Market sentiment ratings and predictive analysis are also available to provide clients with greater insight into their industry. “In one view the client sees what’s going on internally and externally with sources of data coming from all over,” Tilden said. “It allows increased information sharing throughout the organization and increased collaboration.”

Company facts

  • Founded in 2015
  • Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • On track to have 2,000+ Denoti accounts by end of year
  • Denoti is available on desktop, as well as on both iOS and Android

We spoke with RateSeer founder and CEO Donna Tilden at FinovateFall 2017 and followed up with a few questions by e-mail. Below are our questions and her responses.

Finovate: What problem does your technology solve?

Donna Tilden: Financial professionals are challenged to identify and exploit reliable, early internal and external information from huge flows of data but face access issues. Constant new sources of data make the goal of consolidation almost impossible. Many lack the efficient tools required to deal with the sheer volume of data. Consider the amount of information that financial professionals must ingest on a daily basis, the number of sources they scour, the amount of time wasted searching for the right information. We live in a data-driven world and although more is created every day, often corporations do not have the focused data they require to make informed and timely financial decisions. Denoti technology optimizes the way businesses capture, integrate, visualize and notify executives, employees and customers of changes to mission-critical information. We offer dashboards and custom notifications for thousands of market rates.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Tilden: Personal and/or corporate investors, wealth managers and private client groups, loan servicing departments, mortgage professionals, traders, financial advisors, and financial planners.

Finovate: How does Denoti solve the problem better?

Tilden: Denoti technology is low-cost, simplified, and streamlined. Denoti removes the unnecessary noise from market news and provides a way to access and visually focus on the data that is vital to business strategy.

Denoti’s dashboards are suitable for insurance companies, banks, wealth managements firms, and other financial institutions.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Tilden: I am a professional accountant with decades of professional experience in the financial services industry. While working for a large multinational I witnessed departmental data turf wars, data siloes, an inability to access multiple databases, and the unfortunate burden and cost of working with legacy systems. I witnessed hours of wasted time and energy. Business decisions were based on estimates and historical information. Colleagues would sit at super expensive terminals watching and waiting. You cannot succeed today in that environment. Businesses must have access to real-time data; it is the way the industry and really the world have evolved. Denoti technology solves these problems and is an absolute necessity.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from your company that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Tilden: Given the sheer volume of useful financial data that we currently aggregate and house, we are in the process of adding APIs. We want to make it easy for our partners and really, any company, to make use of the data we collect in their own applications.

Finovate: Where do you see Denoti a year or two from now?

Tilden: We are currently working on several pilot projects and are looking forward to the insights that will result. With the addition of predictive analysis, and APIs to denoti.com within the next few months, our SaaS and DaaS customer base will have grown exponentially, as will our team. Denoti is already expanding our partnerships to include companies based in Europe and Asia-Pacific. The implementation of a few technical enhancements for self-serve and customization over the next year will solidify our position and market reach. RateSeer will continue to successfully respond to the emerging trends in fintech and big data, including blockchain technology.


RateSeer’s Head of Business Development Brian Smith and CEO/founder Donna Tilden demonstrating Denoti at FinovateFall 2017.

Nubank Reaches Out to Brazil’s Underbanked with Addition of Digital Accounts

Brazilian fintech Nubank announced this week that the company will begin offering digital accounts in addition to its credit card business. The move will provide access to billpay, account-to-account transfers, and the ability to earn more in interest than is available with a regular savings account. “Our real revolution begins today,” Nubank founder and CEO David Velez said. “Now we are offering services to 100 percent of Brazilians.”

ZDNet reports that the new solution, NuConta is currently in beta and is expected to be rolled out to Nubank’s current 2.5 million credit card customers once beta testing is complete. The company hopes to make the accounts available to everyone “from the first quarter of 2018.”

Left to right: Nubank Co-Founder and CTO Edward Wible and Lead Software Engineer Lucas Cavalcanti presenting “Our Money, Our Rulebook” at FinDEVr New York 2016.

The decision helps Nubank bring banking services to the large population of underbanked consumers in Brazil – as many as 60 million without bank accounts. It also could enable the company to narrow the gap between the number of individuals who have applied for Nubank credit cards since the company launched and the 2.5 million who have actually signed on. The NuConta accounts will require neither maintenance fees nor credit checks, and deposits will be tied to interest-bearing government securities. Debit cards and the ability to withdraw cash will not be offered initially, but could be added based on customer demand, Nubank’s Velez said. NuConta accounts will also be mobile-centric, the company said, taking advantage of Brazil’s high rate of mobile internet and smartphone use.

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Nubank presented Our Money, Our Rulebook at FinDEVr New York 2016. At the conference, Nubank Co-Founder and CTO Edward Wible and Lead Software Engineer Lucas Cavalcanti showed how building an in-house double accounting system enabled them to gain real-time, customer-level accounting visibility and insight. In August, Nubank raised $139 million in debt financing (R$455 million) from Fortress Investment Group and Goldman Sachs. The company’s last equity round of funding was last December, when Moscow-based venture capital firm DST Global led Nubank’s $80 million Series D.

Bento for Business Introduces New Solutions, Partners, and APIs

US-based expense management solution provider Bento for Business has onboarded new partners and expanded its product line, reports Tanya Andreasyan of Banking Technology (Finovate’s sister publication).

Bento now offers debit and virtual cards for companies and their employees. Its banking solutions are now supported by The Bancorp Bank and CFSB as well as processors Marketa and 12C, the company said, “making it the most robust solution of its kind”.

It has also forged co-branded partnerships with The Brink’s Company and Fleetcor to offer its solution to their small business customers.

Furthermore, Bento has opened its APIs “to simplify how companies work with their clients and customers”.

“We are building a modern banking platform for small businesses that brings everything under one umbrella,” said Farhan Ahmad, CEO of Bento (pictured). “Our approach is unique in this industry because we see value in the platform, rather than a single stand-alone product. By offering multiple products on the same platform and allowing our customers to use our APIs to develop better, more useful, and customisable experiences, we can fully address all of their pain points.

“Soon any business owner will be able to curate and access the financial products, services, and integrations they need through Bento.”

According to Bento, applicants for its services get approved online in real-time.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in San Francisco, Bento for Business demonstrated its platform at FinovateSpring 2015. Last month, the company appointed Jeff Pomeroy as Vice President of Product, and earlier this year, Bento added Lou Friedmann as Chief Revenue Officer. The company has raised more than $9 million in funding, and includes Comcast Ventures and Anthemis Group among its investors.

Two-Time Best of Show Winner Finn.ai Raises $3 Million in New Funding

In a round led by Yaletown Partners, Flying Fish Partners, and former CEO and Chairman of Absolute Software John Livingston, virtual banking assistant developer Finn.ai has raised $3 million in funding. The company will use the funding to add to its team – especially data scientists, engineers, and banking industry experts – as well as to support Finn.ai’s expansion in the U.S., and around the world.

“Finn.ai is built from the ground up specifically to help banks and credit unions transform the way they engage with customers,” Co-Founder and CEO Jake Tyler said. “(This) makes banking simpler, more accessible, more human, and ultimately (helps) to build trust and engagement between banks and their customers.

The funding for Finn.ai, which also featured the participation of an “experienced angel syndicate … of senior technology and banking executives,” coincides with news of the company’s partnership with ATB Financial. In this deal, announced earlier this week, Finn.ai’s technology will enable ATB Financial to provide the first, fully-featured, AI-powered virtual banking assistant on Facebook Messenger to its 700,000 customers.

In addition to the funding, Finn.ai announced that banking veteran Carrie Russell will join the company as Strategic Executive Adviser. Russell was formerly Chief Marketing Officer at D+H (now Finastra) and served as SVP for Retail Banking Products at TD Bank. Citing a need for banks to “move beyond transactional banking to build deeper, more personal relationships with customers,” Russell said, “I believe Finn.ai is the right partner to do this, acting as a proactive virtual assistant to help customers understand, plan, and take action to improve their financial lives.”

Finn.ai won Best of Show in its FinovateAsia debut last year in Hong Kong, and took home top honors again when the company demoed its virtual banking assistant last month at FinovateFall. Finn.ai has earned recognition from both Capegemini’s global InnovatorsRace and the VivaTech conference in Paris. The company was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Swych Unveils Themed, Multi-Currency Digital Gifting Options

FinovateFall Best of Show winner Swych has introduced a new set of themed, e-gifting options. The new switchable Occasion, Category, and Event-themed e-gift cards are automatically redeemable in either U.S. dollars or Indian Rupees (depending on location) at retailers matching the category theme. A U.S. shopper who receives a Fashion e-gift card could “swych” it in order to make purchases at a retailer or speciality clothing boutique in the States, while the same card received by a shopper in India could be redeemed at a popular Indian retailer such as Shopper’s Stop.

“We are re-envisioning gifting between consumers by thinking about it in a social and fun way,” Swych founder and CEO Deepak Jain said. “Swych’s value proposition is to make every gift a perfect one; and now we are taking it further by making the gifting transaction between consumers located in two different parts of the planet as seamless and easy as sharing a video or having a chat conversation.” He added, “our launch of a multi-currency, global category gifting portfolio is a step in this direction.”

Examples of the category-themed e-gift cards include Birthday, Anniversary, Graduation, Wedding, New Baby, and Thank You products. The company is also planning to add special events and holiday-themed universal e-gift cards for Diwali, Christmas, and other occasions.

Swych’s e-gift cards are unique insofar as there are no other multi-currency, multi-retailer gift products available on the market that do not also incur interchange or foreign exchange fees when used. In the same way that e-gift cards have made gifting easier within countries and regions, Swych’s new offering makes it easy for consumers to send gifts to friends and family abroad, as well as for businesses and institutions looking to provide rewards and incentives to employees working in more than one country. Swych’s e-gifting solutions have no transaction fees, can be used at the recipient’s preferred merchant, and integrate readily within remittance, mobile banking, messaging, conversational commerce, and loyalty programs.

Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Swych demonstrated its Mobile Gifting Platform at FinovateFall 2016, winning Best of Show. The company has more than 130 U.S. retailers in its network and is partnering with 100 retailers from India, the Philippines, and other countries. Last month, the company announced a “major strategic investment” from UAE Exchange Group through which the two will jointly develop digital gifting services for consumers in emerging markets. In February, Swych released the beta version of its P2P gifting bot. The Swych mobile app is available to U.S. consumers on both iOS and Android.

Credit Sesame Raises More than $42 Million, Unveils Robo Advisor for Credit

Credit service and financial wellness company Credit Sesame has raised more than $42 million in funding. Featuring new and existing investors such as Menlo Ventures, Inventus Capital, Globespan Capital, IA Capital, and SF Capital, the combined equity ($26.6 million) and venture debt ($15.5 million) financing will take Credit Sesame’s total capital to more than $77 million. The funding will help speed Credit Sesame’s growth, enable the company to hire more than 100 new employees over the next 12 months, and “advance its analytics, robo advisor and machine learning technologies.”

That’s right. Robo advisor. In addition to the company’s funding announcement, Credit Sesame founder and CEO Adrian Nazari introduced new robo advisory technology that enables consumers to automate the management of their credit and loans. Credit Sesame sees this as “addressing the liability side of the balance sheet” rather than the asset side typically watched over by most robo advisors.

Credit Sesame CEO and founder Adrian Nazari demonstrating the company’s credit-based PFM solution at FinovateSpring 2015.

“While many companies have spent the last few years catching up to our free credit score offering for consumers, Credit Sesame has been developing and proving robo advisor technology.” Nazari said. He added, “this technology translates consumer financial and credit information into simple and actionable steps that consumers can easily understand and utilize to improve their financial profile and leverage their credit.”

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Mountain View, California, Credit Sesame demonstrated its credit-based PFM for a co-branded environment at FinovateSpring 2015. With more than 12 million members, Credit Sesame’s mobile and online solutions give consumers free access to their credit profile, including their credit score, credit report grades and monitoring, as well as interactive tools and tips for securing better borrowing options such as low or no-balance credit card offers and debt consolidation loans.

Credit Sesame has achieved 100% annual growth for the past three years, reaching profitability earlier this year. This spring, the company launched a new service to pre-qualify members for credit cards. In February, Nazari was named to the Entrepreneur’s List of Most Inspirational Leaders in 2017, one month after earning similar recognition from Inc.com.

AutoGravity Partners with Global Lending Services

Citing the strong “alignment between car shopper and car dealer motivation,” Global Lending Services has forged a partnership with auto financing innovator and Best of Show winner, AutoGravity. The partnership will enable the auto finance company, based out of South Carolina, to make financing offers through AutoGravity’s platform.

Bill Nemecek, Global Lending Services SVP of Marketing and Sales, said the partnership with AutoGravity would help the firm reach prospective car buyers who increasingly “look to technology to provide easier and convenient car purchasing options.” He added that the solution would also help car dealers, who want to both streamline the auto buying process as well as get cars into the hands of customers faster. “Our partnership with AutoGravity positions us to reach these shoppers, help them with financing, and guide them to dealerships who can deliver on this value proposition through state-of-the-art technology,” Nemecek said.

AutoGravity CTO Martin Prescher during his FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2016 presentation “A Digital Marketplace for the Auto Financing Space.”

AutoGravity leverages smartphone technology to make buying and financing a car faster, easier and more transparent. The company partners with leading banks and financial services companies to give auto shoppers control over their financing options and access to a nationwide network of trusted car dealerships. “Every month, over 100,000 new users download the AutoGravity app so they can buy and finance their next car with smartphone simplicity,” AutoGravity CEO and founder Andy Hinrichs said. “Our partnership with Global Lending Services helps ensure that car buyers across the nation have access to multiple finance offers in minutes, anytime and anywhere they want.”

Headquartered in Irvine, California and founded in 2015, AutoGravity demonstrated its platform at FinovateFall 2016, winning Best of Show. The company has enjoyed a busy and productive 2017, beginning the year with a “multi-million Euro” investment from Daimler Financial Services, and picking up further investment capital from VW Credit in July. AutoGravity teamed up with Fletcher Jones Auto Group in June and  forged a partnership with Hyundai Capital America in September, the same month the company announced surpassing $1 billion in financing requested via its platform. A member of CBInsights Fintech 250, AutoGravity presented A Digital Marketplace for the Auto Financing Space at our developer’s conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2016.