Following J.P. Morgan Chase Acquisition, WePay to Power Payments for Volusion

Having finalized its acquisition of WePay today, JP Morgan Chase announced that it has already put the payments platform to work: powering commerce platform Volusion.

Since it was founded in 2009, WePay has been creating payment APIs and processing payments on behalf of small businesses. Earlier this fall, the company announced it would be acquired by J.P. Morgan Chase in a deal that was finalized today. While the terms of the deal were officially undisclosed, TechCrunch reported that Chase picked up WePay for $300 million (up to $400 million including retention bonuses and potential earn-outs).

Now that the acquisition is complete, WePay will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity and serve its 1,000 clients, including Freshbooks, Constant Contact, and GoFundMe. Under its new parent company, California-based WePay will continue to expand its client-base. The company’s CEO Bill Clerico will remain as head of the company, working alongside Chase Merchant Services CEO Matt Kane.

“We see exponential growth ahead of us as we combine our fintech products and culture with the global brand, scale, proficiencies, and distribution of Chase,” said Clerico. “We are headed into a massive expansion of our team, with particular focus on engineering and product management, and looking for a new headquarters in the Bay Area to accommodate our planned growth.”

As a part of this growth, WePay will power a new service from Volusion called Volusion Payments. The Austin-based ecommerce company serves 30,000 active SMB merchants with $28 billion in cumulative sales. In a statement, Kevin Sproles, Volusion’s founder and CEO, said that the new offering will allow Volusion to help its SMB clients “get up and running instantly, with next-day settlement, competitive rates, and all of their payment processing tightly integrated within the software they’ve already chosen for managing their online stores.”

WePay launched its Veda Risk API at FinovateSpring 2014. In 2015, the company was named to the Inc. 500 list as the 62nd fastest-growing private company in the U.S. In May 2016, WePay launched a white-label mobile card reader, and this March, WePay announced its merchant clients can now use Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay.

East vs. East: A Comparison of Regional Fintech Trends

With our newest conferences– FinovateAsia and FinovateMiddleEast– back-to-back, we wanted to examine unique trends to those regions. Each place has its own distinctive culture, and with that comes not only individual financial needs, but also a particular set of regulatory rules. These factors not only create different fintech environments but also heavily influence the trends of each region.

With that, we’ve dissected both regions and the trends that are most popular to each area. While both of these geographical areas share most of the trends listed, this classification showcases which are most popular in each area.

Asia Pacific

Population of around 4.5 billion people

  • Regulatory environment
    Following the Ezubao ponzi scheme in 2016, regulators in Asia Pacific have increased their focus on regulating non-traditional fintech. The same is true for traditional banks, for which regulators have stepped up their stress testing requirements this year to include more intricate and diverse scenarios. According to a survey conducted at the Thomson Reuters ASEAN Regulatory Summit 2016, the 500 delegates cited three specific areas of focus on misconduct. A total of 56% cited mis-selling financial products, 24% cited money laundering and 12% cited market manipulation. Integrity, which is key to any regulatory outfit, seems to be lacking in this region, however. In the same survey mentioned above, 63% of delegates said they were “unhappy” with how regulators dealt with misconduct issues.
  • Unique trends
    • Mobile wallets
      In the U.S., consumers have failed to adopt mobile wallets, even after big players such as Apple and Google have made them accessible. In Asia, however, where shopping and technology are king and queen, the use of deals, offers, and promotion to speed mobile wallet adoption has been successful. In fact, a recent Forrester Research study found that 76% of metro Chinese consumers use mobile wallets or are interested in it. In rural regions, however, cash remains king.
    • Blockchain
      An increasing number of applications for the blockchain in fintech combined with a record amount of funding into the region have boosted the use and adoption of the blockchain in Asia Pacific. Currently, more than 80% of bitcoin transactions are made in Chinese Yuan. And don’t forget about Singapore, whose central bank recently announced plans to implement a tokenized Singapore dollar on an Ethereum-based Blockchain.
    • Leveraging AI
      Chinese companies are currently leading the global war for AI. Mega corporations such as Alibaba, Tencent, Ping An, and Baidu are leveraging the technology not only for payments and insurance, but also for personal loans, SME loans, credit ratings, wealth management, crowdfunding, and currency exchange. Additionally, more consumers in Asia embrace technology and are less likely to fear the loss of privacy that may come with the use of AI.

Middle East/North Africa (MENA)

Population of around 381 million people

  • Regulatory environment
    When it comes to bank ownership and capital disbursement, the MENA region has stringent requirements. On average, however the World Bank reports that central banks in MENA are weak when it comes to supervisory efforts. As an example, 69% and 79% of MENA countries reported having the power to suspend or remove either a bank director or a manager, respectively. These figures are generally in the 90th percentile when it comes to other emerging market and developing economies. However, as with any area with a wide range of economic freedom, there is a mixed regulatory picture in this region.
  • Unique trends:
    • Sharia-compliant banking
      The MENA region contains the highest percentage of Muslims in the world. This group faithfully adheres to Shariah Law, which prohibits usury. Banking models that circumvent the paying of interest include Mudarabah (Profit and loss sharing), Wadiah (safekeeping), Musharaka (joint venture), Murabahah (cost plus), and Ijar (leasing).
    • Cross-border transactions
      Internet usage and ecommerce activity are both on the rise in this region. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, the number of internet users has reached 99% and online shoppers represent 62%, which is 25% more than last year. Much of the online purchasing activity represents cross-border transactions. Outside of ecommerce, trade finance in the oil-rich region has long been important, and cross-border money transfers play a large role in this.
    • Underbanked technologies
      In the MENA region, 86% of adults don’t have a bank account. When compared to the 31% in Asia Pacific lacking access to traditional financial services and the 39% global average of underbanked individuals, there is a much larger opportunity for startups in the MENA region to serve this demographic.

You can get a closer look at fintech in Asia by taking a look at the demo videos (available soon) from FinovateAsia last week. And for fintech in the MENA region, check out our FinovateMiddleEast conference early next year.

Background image created by Freepik

Kabbage Expands Small Business Funding with $200 Million Credit Facility

Alternative credit company Kabbage has a lot to be thankful for this week. The Atlanta-based startup received a new $200 million revolving credit facility from Credit Suisse this week. This brings Kabbage’s total debt funding to $750 million.

Kabbage emphasized that this credit facility diversifies its funding sources, which will help it scale faster and bolster its growth. Specifically, the new funds will help the company serve more and larger small businesses while offering higher lines of credit with longer terms.

Global rating agency DBRS gave investment-grade ratings to the the top two classes of the transaction, which earned ratings of A and BBB. Both classes are collateralized with assets originated through Kabbage’s automated
underwriting technology. This marks the first time DBRS has rated one of Kabbage’s credit facility transactions.

Deepesh Jain, Kabbage’s Head of Capital Markets, commented on the rating from DBRS, saying, “To earn an investment-grade rating requires a rigorous evaluation of not only our lending models, automated risk analysis, and successful history of reducing bad debt to an industry-low, but also our operational processes—from exceptional customer service to unmatched technology development.”

Kabbage has served more than 125,000 small business customers since it was founded in 2009. This week, KPMG ranked Kabbage number 10 of 50 in its list of Fintech 100 for 2017. Earlier this Fall, CB Insights listed the company in its round-up of Top-Targets for European banks. That same week, Kabbage earned its place on the Inc. 5000 list. The company most recently demoed its Kabbage Card small business line of credit at FinovateSpring 2015. Check out our video interview with Kabbage’s COO and co-founder Kathryn Petralia at FinovateFall 2017 last month.

Actiance Acquired by K1 Capital Management

Communications compliance and analytics company Actiance has made its exit this week. The California-based company has been acquired by K1 Investment Management, an investment firm focused on acquisition-based growth opportunities.

K1 will join Actiance with its rival, Smarsh, which specializes on archiving compliance. The combined company will reach more than 6,500 financial services companies, including the top 15 global banks. Neil Malik, Managing Partner at K1, said, “This combination of capabilities from Actiance and Smarsh provides the industry with a means to get ahead – and stay ahead – of compliance trends, while introducing the latest communications technologies to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the modern enterprise.”

The service can be deployed in the cloud, dedicated, on-premise, and hybrid and will offer capture, compliance, archiving, and supervision support across a range of communication channels, including email, social media, mobile messaging, instant messaging/collaboration, encrypted chat and voice communications. K1 plans to enhance the service by investing in product capabilities, increasing flexibility in deployment options, accelerating expansion in Europe and developing a joint channel partner program.

Kailash Ambwani, CEO of Actiance said that the new combined entity is “incredibly well-positioned” to address the growing compliance needs of financial services firms. He added, “Together we will enhance our combined sales and distribution capabilities, offer our customers additional resources and services, and accelerate our product development.”

Founded in 1998, Actiance most recently demoed at FinovateFall 2012 where it showcased Socialite, an active social compliance tool. Last month, the company launched a Safe Landing program for continuous compliance and in August, Actiance introduced a compliance and archiving solution for WeChat and WhatsApp. Before today’s acquisition, the company had raised $43.6 million.

Betterment Celebrates the Season of Giving with New Share Donation Feature

Robo advisory platform Betterment made an announcement today that it is not only making it easier to give to charities, it is also giving consumers more reasons to do so.

Starting November 28, on Giving Tuesday, Betterment investors will be able to donate shares of long-term investments from their taxable accounts directly to charitable organizations. While the act of giving may grant users a warm heart, Betterment has made a point to emphasize the self-serving part of the equation– tax benefits. Investors who donate can eliminate capital gains tax on the contributed shares and can also deduct the value of the gift on their tax return. To make the process as easy as giving cash, the company does four main things:

  • Tracks how much of your account is eligible to give to charity (i.e., it sorts for stocks that you’ve held for more than one year)
  • Estimates the tax benefits before you complete your gift
  • Moves assets of up to $1 million from your account to a charitable organization’s account without any paperwork
  • Emails a tax receipt after the donation is complete

At launch, investors can give to eleven charities, including UNICEF USA, Wounded Warriors Family Support, Hour Children, Against Malaria Foundation, DonorsChoose.org, GiveWell, Save The Children, Feeding America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, World Wildlife Fund, and Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Betterment is soliciting user requests for new charities to be added.

Founded in 2008, Betterment CEO Jon Stein debuted the company’s Multiple Goals feature at FinovateFall 2011. This summer, the New York-based company received a $70 million investment from Sweden’s Kinnevik, bringing Betterment’s total capital to $275 million and boosting it up to a valuation of $800 million.

TransferTo and Fern Software Receive Grant from UN Capital Development Fund

 

 

 

 

 

Cross-border mobile payments network TransferTo and banking software provider Fern Software have both been awarded a grant as a part of the United Nations Capital Development’s Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformation (SHIFT) Challenge Fund.

The goal of the SHIFT Challenge Fund is to leverage remittances to improve the economic power of women in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam. TransferTo and Fern Software have been summoned to deliver seamless money transfer solutions to underbanked individuals in this region. The two will use the funds to combine TransferTo’s global network, which links mobile operators, money transfer operators, digital wallet providers, financial institutions, NGOs, and merchants, with Fern Software’s global microfinance solution software. Ultimately, the companies plan to accelerate TransferTo’s entry into Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam and enable microfinance institutions to become money transfer recipients on TransferTo’s cross-border money transfer network.

TransferTo CEO, Peter De Caluwe said that the company is “fortunate” to bring its payment system into the new regions. “Our goal is to enable access to digital financial services, especially for women who represent over 50% of the population in these markets, yet lack access to traditional banking … we can drive financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment across the region, and globally,” he said.

Fern Software Managing Director APMEA, Debbie Watkins said, “The valued support of UNCDF in connecting the TransferTo Network to ours will enable migrant workers for the first time to send transfers directly to microfinance institution loan or savings accounts, giving them control in how their hard-earned salaries are put to use and increasing accessibility for their family members.”

TransferTo most recently demonstrated its Mobile Money Hub at FinovateFall 2015. Earlier this month, the company was selected by driver service Grab to power real-time earnings payouts for Grab drivers. In June, TransferTo partnered with the MallforAfrica to provide African shoppers with access to retailers in Europe and the U.S. TransferTo was founded in 2005 and has raised $6.5 million.

Founded in 1979, Fern Software demoed BayTree, a scalable “Pay as you Grow” API Banking CRM software service, at FinovateFall 2015. Earlier this year, the company made its platform available in Russian. Eamon Scullin is CEO and founder.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • TransferTo and Fern Software Receive Grant from UN Capital Development Fund
  • EyeLock Partners with ViaTouch to Bring Iris Authentication to Smart Shelf Vending
  • Betterment Celebrates the Season of Giving with New Share Donation Feature

Around the web

  • PPRO, Klarna team up for credit payment methods across Europe.
  • Mastercard plans its own blockchain.
  • GeoAwesomeness profiles San Francisco startup, MapD.

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.

BOKU to Raise $60 Million Ahead of London IPO

Carrier billing company BOKU plans to go public on the London Stock Exchange’s alternative investment market (AIM), an international market for smaller growing companies. Ahead of next week’s public debut, the company announced it expects to raise $60 million on a post-money valuation of $164 million.

Of the $60 million, $39.5 million will be distributed to individual investors. The company will reinvest $20 million to promote growth activities, such as bolstering its efforts in India and increasing partnerships with carriers.

BOKU was founded in 2008 and provides payments technology that allows consumers to charge purchases to their mobile phone bill. The company offers its operator network for acquiring, activating, and monetizing customers through their mobile phones. The BOKU platform is used in large digital marketplaces such as the Google Play store, Apple’s App store, Spotify, and Facebook’s App Center.

BOKU has raised a total of $91 million from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark, Index Ventures, Khosla, NEA and Telefonica. At FinovateEurope 2011 the company showcased its mobile payment service. Earlier this fall, BOKU inked a partnership with ALTBalaji, the largest digital platform for exclusive and original shows from India, to allow its clients to pay their bill through their mobile carrier. A few months prior, the San Francisco-based company added three new geographies to its partnership with Spotify, enabling consumers in France, Australia, and Malaysia to pay their subscription via carrier billing.

TrueAccord Lands $22 Million to Humanize Debt Collection

Online debt collection service TrueAccord received $22 million in funding this week. Leading the round was Arbor Ventures. A mix of existing and new investors, including Arbor, Nyca Investment Partnership, Assurant Growth Investing, Caffeinated Capital Fund, Felicis Venture, TenOneTen and Crystal Towers, also participated. The round brings the company’s total funding to almost $34.5 million.

In an announcement, the company noted this comes after a period of “sustained and rapid growth”– between 2016 and 2017 TrueAccord grew its collection accounts by 2.5x. The funds will be used to support TrueAccord’s strategic growth initiatives, including product development, compliance functionality, client acquisition and retention, and hiring. Melissa Guzy, co-founder and managing partner of Arbor Ventures, said that TrueAccord’s “unique approach” is making a “positive impact” on the debt collections industry “by empowering many of the estimated 77 million people in debt, to get on a path to better financial health.”

TrueAccord was founded in 2013 as a debt recovery platform. The company has worked with more than 2 million people in debt by creating flexible payment solutions, helping businesses recover billions of dollars in lost revenue. TrueAccord’s clients include top 10 issuers, leading creditors, and companies such as Yelp! and LendUp. Since 2014, the company has facilitated more than $1.5 billion of debt repayment on its platform.

“It was the personal experience of dealing with a debt collector that made me realize the traditional collections industry was ripe for disruption with technology innovation and a more human approach,” said Ohad Samet, Chief Executive Officer of TrueAccord. “With changing consumer preferences, strong regulatory support for innovation, and clients who understand a customer-focus collection process is good for their business, we’re experiencing tremendous demand from the market. We are seizing this opportunity to use machine learning to humanize debt collection for good.”

Ohad Samet demoed the company’s SaaS solution at FinovateSpring 2015 along with CTO, Nadav Samet. TrueAccord landed a place on CB Insights’ Fintech 250 list this spring and contributor Jim Bruene featured TrueAccord in his piece, The Great Rewiring of Financial Services: Consumer Debt Collection.

Welcome to Day Two of FinovateAsia!

FinovateAsia yesterday was packed full of the newest fintech and we’re excited to continue the excitement today with another day showcasing the newest in fintech. We’ll be intermixing our demo-only format with keynotes, panel discussions, and an accelerator showcase.

We’ll have coat and bag check available at registration today and don’t forget to download our mobile app in the app store to find the full agenda and more. Here’s an overview of today’s agenda:

Registration begins at 08:00

08:00 – 09:00: Registration & Breakfast

08:45 – 09:10: Welcome Remarks

09:10 – 10:10: Accelerator showcase
A showcase of the leading accelerators and incubators in Asia. Each accelerators will have a one minute intro and each startup will have a three minute pitch.

  • Mark Wales – Co-Founder, Galileo Platforms / Cyberport
  • Bass Chiu – Marketing Manager, InstaReM / Cyberport
  • Vivek Mohindra – Co-Founder & Responsible Officer, Kristal.AI / Cyberport
  • Erich Hoefer – Co-founder & Head of Growth and Strategy, Starling Trust Sciences / Cyberport
  • Ovidiu (Ovi) Olea – Founder & CEO, Valoot Technologies Ltd. / Cyberport
  • Shan Luo – Program Instructor, FinTechBase Taiwan
  • Anson Suen – CEO & Co-Founder, FundPark / FinTechBase Taiwan
  • Chao-Yueh Liu – C-Founder & General Manager, Quanffett Financial Technology Company / FinTechBase
  • Taiwan
  • Joanna Yang – Founder & CEO, Robo Web Tech Co., Ltd. / FinTechBase Taiwan
  • Zac Yang – Co-Founder & UX Director, TOZZI / FinTechBase Taiwan
  • Veronika Kuznetsova – Managing Director, SuperCharger
  • Brian Elders – Director, KYC-Chain / SuperCharger
  • David Rosa – Co-founder & CEO, Neat Ltd. / SuperCharger
  • William Bao Bean – Managing Director and SOSV partner, Chinaccelerator
  • Adrian Pollard – Chief Creative Officer, bitHolla / Chinaccelerator
  • Sebastien Gaudin – Co-founder & CEO, The CareVoice / Chinaccelerator
  • Colin Bogar – CEO, Property Passbook / Chinaccelerator

10:10 – 10:40: Keynote: How and Why China has pulled ahead of the US in the AI battle Royale
Paul Schulte – Founder & Editor, Schulte Research

10:40 – 11:10: Refreshment and networking break

11:10 – 12:00: Demo session #3

12:00 – 13:00: Lunch and Networking

13:00 – 13:30: Panel: Are Consumers Ready to Embrace P2P Payments?

13:30 – 14:40: Demo session #4

14:40 – 15:10: Refreshment and networking break

15:10 – 15:30: Panel: The AI Advantage

15:30 – 16:00: Panel: New Opportunities in Asia with Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Technologies

16:00 – 17:30: Reception and networking