BBVA Partners with Azlo to Empower Workers in the Gig Economy

In a bid to help the growing number of workers making a living via the so-called “Gig Economy,” BBVA has partnered with digital business account platform Azlo to make it easier for SMEs take advantage of both domestic and cross-border banking services.

“Azlo’s goal is to level the playing field for the growing number of entrepreneurs and small businesses who wish to participate in an expanding global economy that is driven by entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelance professionals,” said Azlo CEO Brian Hamilton.

Azlo, of which BBVA is the majority-owner, provides online banking services as well as workshops, live events and a community of entrepreneurial talent. Founded in 2017, the firm leverages BBVA’s banking license and payment infrastructure to offer its services in the U.S., and observers believe that the launch of Azlo will make it that much easier for BBVA to access the American market. In a press release accompanying the announcement, BBVA noted that 43% of workers in the United States are expected to be serving as freelancers by 2020.

“What distinguishes Azlo is its focus on the new economy,” Azlo Entrepreneur-in-Residence Ramona Ortega said. “(This includes) millennials and underrepresented entrepreneurs, and creating a deep and valuable relationship with its customers through community engagement.”

Headquartered in Madrid, Spain, BBVA demonstrated its Stockbuzz.es technology at FinovateEurope 2013. The solution enables users to monitor market sentiment as expressed on Twitter for potential insights into future market activity. Regarded as one of the most innovative European banks in terms of fintech adoption, BBVA was founded in 1857, and now has more than 117,000 employees working in more than 30 countries. The bank’s Group Executive Chariman, Francisco Gonzalez Rodriguez, was named to One World Identity’s Top 20 Identity Influencers earlier this month.  Last fall, BBVA announced a partnership with Samsung last fall to bring iris scanning technology to smartphones.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • BBVA Partners with Azlo to Empower Workers in the Gig Economy.

Around the web

  • Wipro named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by Ethisphere for seventh time in a row.
  • LendUp CEO Jake Rosenberg talks about providing “fair financial products” to the underbanked in a conversation with Y Combinator.
  • Technology from Quid helps Walmart build its American Family Today report.
  • Milwaukee Public Radio features BanQu and its ability to leverage blockchain technology to help refugees reclaim their identities.

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.

TIBCO Introduces New CTO and COO

Big moves at the top for TIBCO. The company’s CTO Matt Quinn will transition to a new role as TIBCO’s Chief Operating Officer as the firm taps Nelson Petracek as its new Chief Technology Officer. In a press release, the company contextualized the move as part of its effort to “ramp up” its TIBCO Connected Intelligence Cloud, which Quinn will oversee.

“Our customer-first mindset is one of the many reasons I’m proud to be part of the TIBCO team,” Quinn said. “When customers choose TIBCO, I want to ensure that they receive a high-performing service that propels the growth of their businesses. I am excited to continue expanding and innovating to meet every customer need.”

Quinn joined TIBCO as a developer in 1997, became CTO in 2010 and was appointed EVP in 2014, which gave him responsibility for product engineering and support. He was educated at RMIT University, earning a Bachelor degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Applied Technology, IT.

An 11-year TIBCO veteran, Petracek transitions to CTO after leading the Strategic Enablement Group, which pursued innovative technologies such as low-code applications, the blockchain, and natural language processing. Petracek came to TIBCO from Informatica Corporation’s Emerging Technologies business unit where he served as Senior Director. He has a degree in Computational Science from the University of Saskatchewan. TIBCO CEO Murray Rode praised Petracek for his “deep, technical knowledge and broad customer relationships.”

“I’m honored to be part of such a forward-thinking company,” Petracek said. “Working at the forefront of technology innovation and serving the dual needs of our corporate strategy and customer advocacy, I’m excited to help craft TIBCO’s technology strategy as we continue to build valuable tools for businesses.”

Ranked #1 in Dresner Advisory Services 2018 Location Intelligence Market Study and named a leader in Enterprise Data Virtualization by Forrester Research, TIBCO announced a partnership with Singapore Polytechnic in January to support local engineering SMEs. An active acquirer, TIBCO purchased Cisco’s data visualization business and acquired data science and social collaboration platform Alpine Data last fall. TIBCO itself was acquired by Vista Equity Partners in 2013, one year after the company made its Finovate debut at FinovateAsia 2013. At the conference, TIBCO demonstrated its Innovative Payment Solutions technology which enables merchants and banks to gain analytic insights from customer transactions without requiring the customer to provide any other significant, personal financial information.

Fintech News from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

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As Finovate prepares for its first conference in the Middle East, here’s a round up of recent fintech news and need-to-knows from the MENA region. Learn more about how to join us in Dubai in February for FinovateMiddleEast.

  • Saudi Arabia’s central bank inks deal with Ripple to use distributed ledger technology to settle payments.
  • Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) reports that gold trader Regal RA DMCC is the first company in MENA to gain a licence to trade cryptocurrencies.
  • Honeywell launches Middle East industrial cybersecurity center.

MENA Fintech Fact International Data Corporation reports that  MENA spending on blockchain technology will grow to $80 million this year compared to $39 million in 2017. By 2021, regional blockchain spending is expected to reach $307 million.

  • Monami Tech introduces digital payment service, Lendme.
  • Forbes Middle East profiles MadfooatCom founder Nasser Saleh.
  • Monetary Authority of Singapore and Central Bank of Egypt forge fintech partnership.

Thought Leadership – Global Finance Magazine looks back on investment in MENA startups in 2017, including the $37 million raised by fintechs PayTabs, Emirati Souqalmal, and Wahed Invest.

  • ComputerWorld highlights OneGram in a review of government-sponsored blockchain cryptocurrencies.
  • UAE Securities and Commodities Authority partners with PwC to design regulatory framework for UAE capital markets-oriented regtech.
  • Entrepreneur Middle East features Egyptian fintech Moneyfellows.

Onfido to Power Digital ID Verification for Bitstamp

Digital identity verification company Onfido has been selected by bitcoin exchange Bitstamp to power identity verification during onboarding to meet KYC and other regulations implemented by governments across the globe.

The partnership aims to help Bitstamp scale onboarding efforts and clear its backlog of customer signup requests spurred by a spike in digital currency interest. In fact, in December 2017, Bitstamp saw 100,000 customer signups on one day alone. And, with bitcoin topping above $10,000 again yesterday, Bitstamp will likely have even higher signup volume and trading requests to process going forward.

“Onfido’s powerful machine learning technology has allowed us to automate our new customer identity verification process, and still maintain our high standards when it comes to KYC,” said Bitstamp CEO, Nejc Kodrič. “We’re already seeing positive results when it comes to speeding up our verification process.”

In a press release, Onfido CEO and co-founder Husayn Kassai said the company is quickly becoming the “go-to” provider for KYC technology. “We now work with over 30 cryptocurrency companies, allowing them to scale customer onboarding smoothly, and be more vigilant as the digital currency industry faces more scrutiny and regulation,” he added.

London-based Onfido leverages machine learning to automate identity verification for more than 1,500 businesses worldwide. To confirm their identities during the onboarding process, clients simply upload a selfie and a photo of their identity document with their smartphone. To insure the validity of the documents, Onfido cross-references identities from 192 countries against international credit and watchlist databases.

In a similar deal earlier this month, Onfido agreed to power KYC for Arro Money. Among the company’s other clients are ZipCar, Couchsurfing, Revolut, and Square. Onfido has raised more than $60 million in funding from investors including Microsoft Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and Crunchfund. Come see Onfido’s live demo on stage at FinovateEurope next month. Register today to be a part of the audience.

Mambu Teams Up with Softtek to Launch Banking Platform as a Service

Just one month after signing a deal with fellow Finovate alum Kreditech that will support the Germany-based lender’s entry to the Indian market, Mambu is back in the headlines with a partnership with Mexican systems integrator Softtek. Via the agreement, Softtek will launch a banking platform as a service (BPaaS) solution that will give the firm the ability to deliver a variety of SaaS and local apps and technologies from multiple vendors from a singular, cloud-based, API-enabled platform – powered by Mambu.

“New entrants are using digital technology to meet changing customer expectations as well as reach the large underbanked sector,” MD for Mambu Americas, Edgardo Torres-Caballero explained. “To succeed, competitors must emulate the operating models of these disruptors and develop the flexibility and speed to market necessary to meet market demands.”

“BPaaS is the optimal model to meet this objective,” Torres-Caballero said.

Noting that the collaboration will give clients “the best of both companies,” Softtek Mexico CEO Carlos Funes said, “Powered by the global leading SaaS banking engine Mambu, which provides advanced capabilities and the agility demanded by the financial sector, we have combined this with Softtek’s experience and knowledge of this industry in Mexico in order to provide a complete offering which will help accelerate the transition of our customers to the digital economy without disrupting their existing business.” The company’s VP of Financial Sector, Jose Luis Sanchez added that there were “more than 3,000” FIs in Mexico that could “potentially benefit” from this partnership.

“With a 100% digital platform that is flexible, scalable, and agile, it will enable these institutions to provide innovative cloud-first banking services and credit to its customers in the consumer and corporate market,” Sanchez said.

Mambu demonstrated its cloud-based banking engine at FinovateAsia 2013. The company ended 2017 announcing a partnership with Argentina-based fintech Wenance, which will use Mambu’s technology to fuel its expansion into Latin America. In October, ABM Amro’s New10 choose Mambu’s SaaS engine to power its line of SME lending products in the Netherlands, and in September, German challenger bank N26 reported that it too would deploy Mambu’s platform to support current accounts, overdraft, and loan products.

With more than $13 million in funding, Mambu includes Acton Capital Partners and CommerzVentures among its investors. Eugene Danilkis is co-founder and CEO.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Onfido to Power Digital ID Verification for Bitstamp.

Around the web

  • eToro adds XLM to cryptocurrency offering for users to buy & sell Stellar Lumens on its platform.
  • Bluefin Payments teams up with Datacap Systems and Monetary to provide encryption to POS merchants.

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.

Roostify Lands $25 Million to Disrupt the Mortgage Industry

Mortgagetech startup Roostify raised $25 million to further its quest to improve the mortgage industry today. The Series B round comes from new investors Cota Capital, Point72 Ventures, and Santander Innoventures, and existing investors JPMorgan Chase, Colchis Capital, and a subsidiary of USAA.

The funding brings Roostify’s total raised to $33 million. The California-based company will use the funds to deepen its presence in the enterprise space, implement product enhancements, and expand into new markets.

Rajesh Bhat, co-founder and CEO of Roostify said that when the company launched four years ago, having a digital strategy was simply an ambition for lenders. Today, digitizing the mortgage process has evolved into a business imperative. “Lenders now realize the value of providing consumers with a transparent, mobile, and seamless experience to obtain a loan without needless stress-inducing delays and red tape. We have developed a solution that allows lenders of all sizes to give their teams a tool to digitally engage with clients and to bring the loan origination experience to the consumer,” Bhat added.

Originally launched as a way to create efficiencies by digitizing the traditionally paper-bound processes, Roostify has evolved into an enterprise scale platform aimed to help U.S. lenders accelerate, simplify, and reduce costs associated with the mortgage origination process. Leveraging its cloud-based API solution, lenders help clients with the entire mortgage process– from searching for the loan to close– via a fully-digital, branded experience. Bobby Yazdani, Cota Capital’s Managing Partner, said his team was “immensely impressed with what Roostify has accomplished in the last four years,” He added,“Roostify has evolved not only their own offering and product focus, but the market as a whole, helping the lending industry transform itself for the digital age.”

Roostify presented at FinovateSpring 2016 where the company demoed account aggregation capabilities for asset verification, as well as integrations with TurboTax and Equifax. Since then, the company has teamed up with Chase to power the bank’s self-service mortgage application process. Last month, Roostify launched an integration with LendingTree that blends LendingTree’s aggregation technology with Roostify’s mortgage digitization. For more on the mortgagetech sector, check out our industry overview.

Q2 Announces New Partnership with Acorns

 

Cloud-based digital banking solutions provider Q2 Holdings has entered into a new collaboration with financial services platform, Acorns. Via the multiyear partnership, Acorns will take advantage of the Q2 Open portfolio, a suite of open-API financial services solutions originally unveiled by Q2 last year that give developers the ability to build customer-facing financial products and experiences.

Matt Flake, Q2 CEO, said it was important for both incumbent FIs and newer firms to get access to the right technology in order to build the financial solutions that clients demand. “We believe many fintech companies and traditional FIs share the goal of strengthening their communities, and we’re excited to provide them a common set of technology they can use to deliver on their respective missions,” Flake said.

Among the APIs available via Q2 Open are Q2 Debit, which enables the building of checking account functionality within apps, Q2 Save, which enables building savings account functionality into apps, Q2 Ledger, which adds ledgering functionality for FBO (“for the benefit of”) accounts; and Q2 Biller Direct, which brings bill presentment, aggregation, and billpay functionality to apps. Among the fintechs already using Q2 Open include fellow Finovate alum, Qapital, whose CEO George Friedman said the solution “enable(d) our team of creators, designers, and developers to rapidly deliver new features in our app – allowing us to build a product that our customers really love.”

Founded in 2004, Q2 demonstrated its Q2 CardSwap solution at FinovateFall 2017. CardSwap helps financial service providers earn interchange revenue by enabling account holders to use their bank card for digital subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Uber. The technology can be integrated into existing front-end platforms or companies can leverage their internal engineering talent and the APIs within Q2 Banking’s Open API portfolio to build their own CardSwap front end.

Last year, Q2 was named to the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 for a second year in a row in 2017 and earned a finalist spot in the NAFCU Services 2017 Innovation Awards. Also in 2017, Q2 Holdings added financial services and technology veteran Christine Petersen as Chief Revenue Officer last year and unveiled its new targeting and messaging platform, Q2 Smart. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Q2 trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “QTWO.” The company has a market capitalization of $1.8 billion.

Coinbase Launches Crypto eCommerce Acceptance

Digital currency wallet Coinbase is expanding its horizons– and its potential client base– this week with the launch of Coinbase Commerce.

The new offering aims to enable merchants across the globe to accept Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin payments and deposit the funds directly into their personal wallets. Coinbase Commerce gives merchants full control of their own digital currency, since it is not a hosted service.

To sign up, merchants just need an email address and a smartphone and can directly integrate Coinbase Commerce into their existing checkout flow or add it as a payment option on an e-commerce platform. Coinbase Commerce already integrates with Shopify, which serves 500,000 merchants. The company is actively adding new integrations to facilitate payment acceptance.

Coinbase also provides a merchant dashboard, where business owners can manage payments and monitor earnings from a single place.

The Coinbase Commerce merchant dashboard

Merchants that leverage Coinbase Commerce will join the list of other large businesses that currently accept cryptocurrencies, including Overstock.com, Newegg, Dish, Gyft, Expedia, and Microsoft. That said, the volatility of cryptocurrencies, combined with the fact that most people hold cryptocurrencies as a speculation tool and are hesitant to spend it, means that there might be slow adoption for cryptocurrency merchant acceptance.

Founded in 2012, Coinbase demoed Instant Exchange at FinovateSpring 2014. In August of 2017, the company became a fintech unicorn after it closed a $100 million round of Series D funding. At that point, Pitchbook estimated Coinbase’s value to be $1.6 billion. Last month, the company acquired talent from Memo.AI to bolster its engineering team during the bitcoin boom.