Ayondo Remains a Private Company after Reverse Takeover Bid Lapses

Social trading company ayondo may no longer be the first fintech company to go public on the Singapore stock exchange (SGX).

That’s because the reverse takeover (RTO) bid offer from Singapore-based property developer, Starland Holdings, lapsed on Monday. The RTO bid, initiated in June of 2016, was for $117 million (S$158 million) and would have placed ayondo on the SGX, making it the third technology company and the first fintech company to IPO on the SGX.

Frankfurt-based ayondo stated last year that it had originally opted for a reverse takeover because of “volatility in financial markets.” The RTO would have given Starland a majority stake in ayondo. According to a company update, ayondo still plans to complete the RTO later this year.

ayondo appears to be holding its own as a privately-held entity. The company reported that its U.K. arm, ayondo Markets Limited, grew revenues 95% from $9.8 million to $19 over the course of 2015 to 2016. THe company’s assets under management also grew, rising from $19 million to $35.8 million over the same timeframe.

ayondo was founded in 2008 with a mission to revolutionize retail trading. The company’s brokerage platform lets users copy the moves of top traders to optimize returns. At FinovateEurope 2013, ayondo unveiled the newest version of its service, its London brokerage, and a trader career training curriculum. Last month, the company brought on Rick Fulton as CFO.

Ripple Selects Singapore for New Asia Office

Blockchain solutions company Ripple is bolstering its presence in Asia this week with the launch of an office in Singapore.

In a blog post, Ripple said that it selected Singapore to support its growing Asia Pacific customers, including Standard Chartered. The company also notes it favored Singapore because of its “publicly stated ambitions to be the world’s leading fintech and innovation hub,” adding that it is “one of the biggest and busiest global trade centers with many large, multinational companies basing their regional treasury offices in the country.”

Dilip Rao, managing director for Ripple APAC said, “As a leading trade and fintech hub, Singapore offers Ripple leverage in the region as we expand our global footprint.” And in fact the company said that it is already experiencing “huge” demand for its blockchain payments solution from local banks and payment providers across the broader region.

This announcement comes weeks after the San Francisco-based company opened an office in Mumbai, India and adds to Ripple’s list of offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Sydney, and Luxembourg.

Last fall, the company appointed Brad Garlinghouse as CEO, who filled the seat of co-founder Chris Larsen. Larsen debuted Ripple (originally known as OpenCoin) at FinovateSpring 2013. In addition to making headlines for its rapid growth during the first half of this year, Ripple also made the news this spring when it partnered with BBVA to complete an international money transfer using RippleNet. In July, Ripple expanded its suite of offerings that support its digital currency, XRP. The company has raised more than $93 million.

Your Sneak Peek into FinovateAsia Discussions and Demo Days

FinovateAsia will take place November 7 through 8 at the JW Marriott in Hong Kong. Register today to save your spot.

After a successful inaugural launch of FinovateAsia in Hong Kong, we’re ready for more– and based on your feedback, you are too. First, we’re doubling the conference to two days; adding keynote speakers, panel discussions, and a showcase of cutting-edge accelerators. The best part– it’s all focused on fintech local to the Asia Pacific region. We’ll even take a deep-dive into Hong Kong’s fintech scene.

Get a Sneak Peek into the demos

To help you prepare, we’re launching our Sneak Peek blog series, where we’ll offer an inside look into the new technology each company will showcase on the FinovateAsia stage. Be on the lookout next week for our first post of the series.

A first look at the agenda

And here’s another Sneak Peek– we’re unveiling the FinovateAsia agenda. In addition to the demos, here are some of the highlights:

  • Payments – The Gateway to Financial Inclusion
  • Ling Kong, CTO of Dianrong, discusses P2P Lending in China
  • A Glimpse into Hong Kong’s Fintech Scene
  • Leading Accelerators and Incubators in Asia Showcase
  • The Origins and Learnings from a Fintech Unicorn

All of this, plus we’ll have multiple panel discussions that will cover topics such as peer-to-peer lending, mobile banking, insurtech, wealth management, peer-to-peer payments, artificial intelligence, and the blockchain.

For a closer look, check out the agenda, view our list of presenting companies, and read a quick summary of each company’s description.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Ripple Selects Singapore for New Asia Office.
  • ayondo Remains a Private Company after Reverse Takeover Bid Lapses.

Around the web

  • nCino opens office in London, positioning itself for continued international growth.
  • Inetco adds data access options.
  • WorkFusion teams with Virtusa to Launch AI-Powered Bank Sanction Screening Solution.
  • InComm Continues Nationwide Expansion of Tolling and Transit Program.
  • In the face of consumer skepticism, Worldpay develops SDK for IoT shopping.
  • AutoGravity Surpasses $1 Billion USD In Finance Amount Requested, Launches Real-Time Dealership Inventory Nationwide.

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.

Braintree Powers RFID Payments for Eventbrite Attendees

One of the best ways to get consumers to spend more money is to make it easy for them to pay. That’s exactly what PayPal subsidiary Braintree and Eventbrite are banking on. This week, the duo announced they have teamed up to give festival-goers and event attendees a new way to pay.

This new capability enables attendees to make payments using their RFID-enabled event wristband that generally serves as their admission ticket. This creates a cashless way for patrons to pay in person for food, beverages, and merchandise by leveraging the payment credentials they used when paying for their ticket online.

After conducting a study testing the use of the new technology at an event earlier this year, Braintree found that attendees who used their wristbands as a cashless payment method spent 2x more per day than cash payers did. Using Braintree’s Commerce Infrastructure tools, the festival organizer was able to share attendees’ tokenized payment credentials with its vendors, who all run on separate payment systems. According to Braintree’s blog, the “vast majority of attendees who used cashless said it improved their overall experience (84%) and would use it again (89%).”

Braintree’s Contextual Commerce tools enable businesses to create a seamless purchasing experience for consumers

Eventbrite has leveraged Braintree’s Contextual Commerce tools in its partnerships with Bandsintown and Facebook to streamline the ticket purchasing experience for customers. Offering a native purchasing experience results in fewer abandoned carts and, in Facebook’s case, resulted in twice as many tickets sold.

PayPal acquired Braintree in 2013 for $800 million. Braintree most recently showcased Venmo Touch at FinovateSpring 2013. Last month, Braintree enabled Android and Apple Pay support in Australia. Earlier this summer, the California-based company surpassed one billion transactions per quarter. Braintree supports merchants in more than 40 countries and more than 130 currencies. The company has more than 500 employees who work in 7 office locations across the globe.

Finovate Alumni News

On the web

  • Braintree Powers RFID Payments for Eventbrite Attendees.

Around the web

  • Accion features Aneesh Varma of Aire on Medium.
  • Forbes: Blend Wants To Bring The $2 Trillion Mortgage Market To The Modern Era.
  • Seylan Bank selects Finastra (formerly Misys) for trade finance and corporate banking.
  • HSBC launches online data tool in collaboration with Xero, Sage and Intuit
  • TSYS President, COO Pamela A. Joseph resigns.
  • Actiance Announces Compliant Capture and Archiving Support for Microsoft Teams.
  • Blackhawk Network’s Hawk Incentives Launches Wallet-Enabled Prepaid Card for Promotions and Incentives.

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.

What’s Hot and What’s Not in U.S. Fintech

We teamed up with the Fintech Cocktail Club earlier this month to play another game of Fintech Tinder (otherwise known as hot or not).

Here are the rules– we shouted out a list of 20 fintech trends and our cocktail-fueled audience shouted their opinion on whether the trend is hot or not*. The result was a not-quite-scientific analysis of what is trending in U.S. fintech.

The hottest

  • Regtech
    I was fairly surprised to hear the audience react so strongly to this trend, since the U.S. is lagging in regtech startups and adoption. Out of all 20 trends, however, Regtech was the clear winner.

What’s hot

  • AI
    Artificial intelligence has been experiencing increased attention in the fintech community since late 2015. As we close out 2017, players in the fintech sector seem to be in all out hype mode on the subject.
  • Open Banking
    Though the U.S. doesn’t have any pending open banking regulation, folks still seemed quite optimistic about this trend. It is worth noting here that most of the audience from whom we received feedback represented non-bank fintech startups.
  • Mobile account opening
    Certainly a necessity for mobile-centric onboarding, mobile account opening has been around for awhile. It seems to have received new life with many enabling technology developments and IoT device launches throughout the years. For example, many companies have incorporated biometrics and Apple Watch capabilities into their mobile onboarding processes. In the future we can expect this trend to surge once again when we see augmented reality incorporated into mobile account opening.
  • Blockchain
    Possible use cases for the blockchain transcend far beyond bitcoin into implementations such as identity management and smart contracts. The audience was apparently well-aware of this, as they almost unanimously categorized blockchain as “hot.” Interestingly enough, our U.K. audience offered a more undecided, split vote regarding blockchain use.
  • Gamification
    It’s good to know that gamification still has skin in the game, so to speak. Using behavioral economics to incentivize behavior pre-dates fintech, and it appears that as techniques improve fintechs are still open to leveraging gamification to motivate user action.
  • Augmented Reality
    With the launch of iOS 11 opening developer capabilities for augmented reality, this is a rising topic in fintech. Expect to see value-added use cases in banking and fintech in the next year.
  • Challenger banks
    With the lack of challenger bank launches in the U.S. (that is, compared to the U.K.), it was surprising to see the group cheer on challenger banks so vociferously. Perhaps a sign that more challenger banks are coming to the U.S.?
  • Insurtech
    Insurtech was another hot-button topic. The audience seemed to heavily favor this trend over others, despite the relative lack of insurtechs in the U.S.

Not hot

  • Chatbots
    It was surprising to hear the audience classify chatbots as “not hot,” given that chatbots have been on the rise in fintech lately, and their inclusion among the FinovateFall Best of Show winners. Finn.ai, a Canada-based chatbot, was one of seven Best of Show award winners among the 70 demoing companies at FinovateFall 2017.
  • Roboadvisory
    The wealth tech boom seems to have subsided for a bit. It hit hard between 2014 and 2015, when new roboadvisors– each with its own unique investing algorithm– were launching on an almost daily basis.
  • ICO’s
    Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’S) have been the talk of the fintech town lately. However, because of risk and regulation concerns, many see this fundraising technique as nothing but a fad.
  • Alternative credit scoring
    Recent questions regarding the fairness of traditional credit scores combined with the implementation of enabling technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning landed alternative credit scoring in the “not” category.
  • Voice banking
    Voice banking received a few head nods during the demo portion of FinovateFall 2017, but most argued that this is just another solution looking for a problem.
  • Mobile wallets
    I mostly threw this on the list to get a reaction from the crowd– and quite a reaction I got! It’s 2017, and mobile wallets barely have a pulse.
  • Biometric authentication
    This is yet another trend I was surprised to see land in the “not” category. Perhaps the audience was feeling salty by the time they reacted to this trend. I think we’ll continue to see biometrics– in multiple different forms– trend in fintech for years to come.
  • Card-linked offers
    Card-linked offers was another trend I added to the list to illicit a colorful response from the crowd. A trend from 2012, card-linked offers has made an appearance in a few new fintech solutions, but mostly as just an add-on.
  • Virtual reality
    I whole-heartedly agree with the assertion that virtual reality in banking is not hot. The enabling technology has a place in gaming and not as a new channel through which consumers will check their credit score or bank balance.
  • Alternative lending
    This trend peaked in 2015 and began declining in 2016. While many alternative lending companies are still profitable (and thriving) the ones that have landed on profitability and regulatory difficulties have caught a lot of media attention, leading to an overall downturn in this space.

What’s ?

  • Mortgagetech/ Proptech
    This was the last trend the audience voted on, and I think the cocktails had taken their toll by this time, because almost everyone in the crowd seemed to be confused. My take: it’s hot.

Opinions: U.K. vs. U.S.

You may remember our analysis from earlier this year in our piece Playing Fintech Tinder in which we analyzed the opinions of a U.K.-based audience on 11 fintech trends. The results were surprisingly similar, with only two differences. While in the U.K., the audience was split and/or undecided on two trends– blockchain and challenger banks, the U.S. audience was more vocal and decided about the trends, voting both as “not hot.”

*Note: the actual terminology for feedback was “sexy or not”, since “hot” sounds similar to “not”

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Swych Seals Series A Funding.

Around the web

  • Pendo Systems Launches the Pendo Machine Learning Platform.
  • The Wall Street Journal features GreatHorn CEO Kevin O’Brien.
  • Neustar Partners with KUBRA to Deliver TCPA Compliance Data Verification Solutions to Utility Clients.

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.

With New Funding, Prosper’s Valuation Stands at $550 Million

U.S. peer-to-peer lending giant, Prosper has landed $50 million in a Series G funding round. The capital come from Hong Kong-based FinEx Asia and LPG Capital and raises the San Francisco-based company’s total equity funding to $410 million.

Prosper will use the financing to make strategic investments in the company’s platform and products. “This investment is a strong signal of confidence in our business fundamentals and the momentum we are seeing right now,” said David Kimball, CEO of Prosper Marketplace. “Over the past year, we’ve shown that we can build a sustainable business that continues to redefine the online lending experience for our borrowers and investors. We believe this partnership will open up additional opportunities for our business as we continue to grow.”

According to Lend Academy, Prosper’s valuation is now $550 million; a 70% drop from the company’s estimated 2015 valuation of $1.87 billion. However, Lend Academy also noted that Prosper’s decline aligns with competitor Lending Club’s valuation, which experienced a share price drop of 68% since April of 2015.

Marketplace lending as a whole has experienced a downturn in the past couple of years, and Prosper had to endure a stumbling block of its own in July of this year when it shuttered its Prosper Daily app. Aimed at prospective borrowers, the app was built from Prosper’s purchase of BillGuard in 2015 for $30 million.

Despite the setbacks, Prosper reported relatively strong second quarter performance this year, with $775 million in loan originations. This represents a 32% quarter-over-quarter increase and 74% year-over-year increase. Overall, the company has facilitated more than $10 billion in consumer loans over its platform since launching in 2006.

Prosper presented at FinovateSpring 2009 as well as the inaugural Finovate in 2007. Earlier this year, the company appointed Usama Ashraf as Chief Financial Officer and in November of 2016, selected David Kimball to succeed Aaron Vermut as CEO. Forbes interviewed Kimball in a feature this spring.

Kasasa Rolls Out Kasasa Loans

Financial technology and marketing services company Kasasa unveiled its newest offering this week. The Austin, Texas-based company launched Kasasa Loans, a loan product that lets consumers pay ahead to reduce debt, and take that extra money back if they need it.

Kasasa is calling it a Take-Back, and it works similar to a regular loan agreement in which the borrower repays according to a regular payment schedule. Here’s how the Take-Back works: every month, the consumer has the option to overpay on their loan repayment and at any time in the future if they need to access cash quickly, they have the option to “take-back” any portion of the overpayment.

The new loan offering aims to broaden financial institutions’ loan portfolio while enticing their clients with a flexible borrowing solution that is unique to Kasasa bank clients. It fits with Kasasa’s mission to “create products that are good for both consumers and community financial institutions” and helps financial institutions compete on something other than interest rates.

“Until now, there has been no way to differentiate loan products beyond interest rates – Kasasa Loans is changing that,” said Gabe Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa. “We are revolutionizing the customer experience of paying off debt early by introducing the first loan with take-backs. Kasasa Loans allows borrowers to pay off their loan faster but leverage take-backs to access extra payments in times of need, eliminating that fear of parting with ‘extra money’ while also enabling the consumer to make better financial decisions.”

In conjunction with this launch, the company began offering a new marketing automation platform, Connect. Kasasa was founded in 2003 when it launched its flagship REWARDChecking account to help community financial institutions compete against big banks. Since then, the company has expanded to 350 employees and now offers a full suite of branded bank products. Kasasa debuted at FinovateFall 2009 under BancVue, which was founded in 2003, and created a premium, national consumer brand for the BancVue product offering – Kasasa – which launched in 2009.  Last month, Kasasa was named a Best Place to Work in Austin for the third consecutive year.