Coinbase Offers Mobile Card Payment Option to European Bitcoin Buyers

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European customers of Coinbase have been able to buy bitcoin and Ethereum using debit and credit cards for a little over a year. Now, they can do it on mobile, too.

Strong numbers from the U.S. seem to support the move. Announcing the new functionality on the their blog, Coinbase noted that 40% of its credit and debit card purchases of digital currencies in the U.S. are coming from mobile devices. “Our mission at Coinbase is to create an open financial system for the world,” the post read, “and enabling easy access to digital currencies like bitcoin and ether in as many countries as possible gets us one step closer to that goal.”

Indeed. Coinbase last month added Australia, Canada, and Singapore to the list of countries where Coinbase customers can use payment cards to buy digital currencies. The company added support for ethereum earlier this year, and enabled PayPal and credit cards for bitcoin sales and purchases, respectively, in June. Coinbase launched the U.S. beta of its instant bitcoin purchase via debit card in March and expanded the service to all U.S. customers later in the spring.

Coinbase’s free mobile wallet works for both Android and iOS (in addition to online). Customers can create a digital wallet, connect a bank account, debit, or credit card, and then begin buying both bitcoin and ether on the Coinbase exchange.

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, Coinbase demonstrated its Instant Exchange technology at FinovateSpring 2014. The company has raised more than $117 million in funding, including a strategic investment of $10.5 million from Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ in July. Coinbase has exchanged more than $4 billion in digital currency and served more than four million customers in 33 countries.

ID.me Lands $3.7 Million Grant

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Last week, digital identity network ID.me received a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The company was awarded a $3.75 million through a program called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace which focuses on researching new forms of identity management.

The Virginia-based company is one of six grant recipients that received a cut of $15 million, which was divided into amounts from a little under $1 million to $3.75 million. ID.me will use the funds to pilot what’s known as federated credentials, a single set of credentials that works on multiple websites.

According to the National Strategy for Trusted Identities’ director, Mike Garcia, the goal of the program is to “foster innovation that can make critical services more convenient and trustworthy for consumers while strengthening online security.”

14109950416_9a0d035b06_kID.me’s Blake Hall (CEO & Co-Founder) and Ryan Fox (VP Product Strategy) presenting at FinovateSpring 2014

Founded in 2010, ID.me offers a way for people to prove special group affiliations (military, student, paramedic, etc.) online to receive special promotions offered to their group. At FinovateSpring 2014 the company’s CEO & co-founder Blake Hall demonstrated how ID.me captures identity attributes without creating additional friction at checkout.

ID.me has received more than $17 million in funding from investors such as Silicon Valley Bank, USAA, and Scout VC. In 2014 the company acquired student discount platform Perkla.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • ID.me Lands $3.7 Million Grant
  • Coinbase Offers Mobile Card Payment Option to European Bitcoin Buyers

Around the web

  • RightCapital announces new partnership with Alliance of Comprehensive Planners (ACP). See Right Capital at FinovateFall 2016 in New York next week.
  • Intuit unveils personalized app recommendations for QuickBooks Online.
  • Business News Daily names BlueVine Best B2B Factoring Service.
  • Top Image Systems increases footprint in Asia.

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.

Marketing: Alliant FCU Pitches Kids Account on Logoff Screen

One of the choicest pieces of real estate in a financial institution’s inventory is the logoff page when ending a secure session. Typically, this on the desktop, but the same opportunity exists on mobile. Earlier this summer (late June), we spotted Chicago-based Alliant Federal Credit Union pitching its Kidz Klub savings account with a 1% APY (adults get the same rate).

alliant fcu logoff kidz klub

Bottom line: The logout screen is well-designed and the green call-to-action button is easy to see. The button leads to an attractive Kidz Klub landing page (see screenshot below). The Klub is a savings account that mirrors rates available for adult members. However, each Kids Klub member also gets a member’s card and account kit.

Given that today’s 10-year-old could be a bank/CU customer for the next 70 or 80 years, it makes sense to cater to members’ children with a dedicated account.  But it needn’t be a fancy standalone account. The primary goal is to get kids (and their parents) to start saving together and that can be done with repurposed basic savings account.

alliant kidz klub lander

Friday Fun: Banking with Coffee

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The connection between banking and coffee is tenuous at best. However, a number of banks (especially in the United States) have underused lobbies and there appears to be an infinite appetite for caffeine. So when demand meets supply, there are opportunities.

I know you’ve heard this all before from me 11 years ago (yikes), The Wall Street Journal last year (Capital One) and The Financial Brand numerous times. But it’s Friday and I’m sitting in the best example I’ve personally experienced, a big, old Southern California Wells Fargo branch in Orange that turned the main part of the lobby over to Starbucks, but kept the teller windows and offices along the side. It’s a great spot for coffee, and banking, if you are into popping into a branch (or just the ATM).

starbucks_wellsfargo_inside

Unless you are a major it may be difficult to get Starbucks on board, but working with an independent has a lot of benefits, even if they can’t pay Starbucks-level rent. To name a few:

  • Branding: You may have a trusted brand, but adding good coffee, wifi and pastries to the mix can’t hurt.
  • Traffic: There is almost no reason a non-customer will just wander into a bank unless they have already decided to open an account. Coffee will bring people in. Converting them is another matter (that we are avoiding today).
  • Rewards: Everyone likes free stuff. Linking transactions, account opening, savings levels, and so on to points redeemable in your branch could be a good retention vehicle.
  • Crowdsourcing: One area that coffee shops struggle with is providing an experience that differentiates them from others. Using the bank’s customer base to crowdsource entertainment, book/magazine exchange, food ideas, and so on could help build community.
  • Meeting space: Small businesses love to meet in coffee shops. However, privacy is an issue. Turn over that under-used conference room to select small biz customers and community groups, with priority to clients of course. (Extra credit: Web-based reservations).

Bottom line: There are many drawbacks to sharing your space, hours, staffing, strange visitors, and so on. But it’s Friday and it’s still summer, so I’m not going to get bogged down in the details. Enjoy the last week of August all!

SafetyPay Launches in Belgium

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Online payment solution SafetyPay began operations in its 21st country this week. The Florida-based company now operates in Belgium, expanding its global footprint which covers the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America.

For SafetyPay, expanding operations in Europe fulfills one of the company’s strategic objectives. The expansion also makes good business sense; half of the country’s population who have access to email have a habit of shopping online. “Our main goal is to make SafetyPay well known to the market. Brand perception is an intelligent sales technique for pitching to merchants, who play such a key role in the process,” said Gustavo Ruiz Moya, SafetyPay CEO.

SafetyPay’s ecommerce checkout solution enables users to pay global merchants in their local currency, directly from their bank account. The company has partnerships with almost 100 banks around the world.

Founded in 2003, SafetyPay’s sales have grown 5X over the past three years. Moya attributes the growth to “investments in technology, innovation in [its] product portfolio and the hard work of [its] devoted and highly qualified team.” The company last presented at FinovateSpring 2010. Earlier this month, SafetyPay partnered with Brazil-based Pamcary to help the company’s truckers make annual Telerisco payments.

DriveWealth Adds Real-Time Margin

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Margin calls – the “friendly” tap on the shoulder from your brokerage that means (a) you having a losing investment position and (b) your broker needs more capital to cover it – are the bane of every trader and investor who uses leverage. But for those on the DriveWealth platform, the technology’s new real-time margin feature all but makes traditional margin calls a thing of the past.

Instead of only calculating margin requirements once a day like most traditional brokerages, DriveWealth’s real-time margin will recalculate and update margin requirements over the course of the trading day. This intraday limiting of purchasing power makes it less likely that an investor will be forced to liquidate holdings or come up with additional capital to satisfy a margin call. Robert Cortright, founder and CEO of DriveWealth said, “With the release of real-time margin, we are now giving investors who want to trade on leverage a way to increase control and decrease risk relative to traditional margin accounts.”

DriveWealth_stage_FEU2016

Pictured (left to right): CIO Harry Temkin and Head of Corporate Strategy Michael Fitzgerald demonstrating DriveWealth’s real-time fractional trading with Passport 2.0 at FinovateEurope 2016.

Using margin is admittedly a strategy for experienced investors – with even seasoned professionals often finding themselves suddenly forced to sell other positions or raise cash to defend a losing leveraged investment. In addition to giving investors greater protection against intraday market risk, real-time margin also promotes a more efficient market, limiting buying power intraday when volatility rises rather than waiting for an urgent, late-in-the-trading day phone call from the brokerage. Real-time margin is available via API for DriveWealth’s partners as well as a feature on the app.

Founded in May 2012 and headquartered in Chatham, New Jersey, DriveWealth pioneered the use of APIs and cloud-based technologies as a way to provide international investors and traders access to the U.S. equities market. The company’s mobile-first, full stack platform includes real-time fractional share trading, which it demonstrated earlier this year at FinovateEurope, winning Best of Show.

In what has been a busy year for DriveWealth, the company expanded its APIs to support investment advisors in August, teamed up with CreditEase to bring rob-advisory to China in June, and partnered with Australian fintech company Stoxs to provide Australian investors with access to U.S. stocks in February. DriveWealth has raised more than $8 million in funding, and includes Fenway Summer Ventures, Route 66 Ventures, and SenaHill Partners among its investors.

Find out more about how companies like DriveWealth are building APIs that help connect investors and markets at our upcoming developers conference FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2016, October 18 & 19.

Fintech Trending: Look Who’s Chasing Venmo, Student Loan Servicing Falls Short

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A look at the trending topics of the past two weeks, co-authored by Finovate’s research analysts David Penn and Julie Schicktanz.

Payments

Venmo competition heats up
Lately we’ve noticed more P2P payment app competitors trickle in. They have Braintree-owned Venmo’s (FD2016F2013) millennial-focused social components stamped all over them:

  1. Founded by former N26 employees, Cookies launched this week to offer Germany-based users a free P2P payment solution. The simple UI has a messaging platform for senders and recipients to engage with, and it allows people to include emojis with their payments (Cookies calls them paymojis). Some paymojis have special powers, for example, a lightning bolt that allow users to send the money faster. Unlike Venmo (more like Square Cash), users do not maintain a balance on Cookies. Instead, it connects directly to a user’s bank account.
  2. Tilt originally began as a crowdfunding platform but launched P2P payments functionality this week. While the user interface is very Venmo-esque with emojis, gifs and a social feed, Tilt has a few differences. Aside from being based on a crowdfunding model where users pool money for weekend road trips and pizza nights, Tilt lists fundraising campaigns in its social feed and is available outside the U.S. Tilt has already launched in the U.K., Canada, and Australia.
  3. Our last Fintech Trending post described the growth of P2P payment service clearXchange, which scored Fiserv (F2016) as a distribution partner and added MasterCard Send debit cardholders to its client base. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that clearXchange is rebranding to Zelle in October to step up its competition with Venmo. While there is no word yet on UI and UX specifics such as emojis with special powers, gifs, and social feeds, there have been a few questions about the name Zelle, which Urban Dictionary defines as, “a girl who is attractive and intelligent.”

New mobile payments methods are everywhere (and that’s not a good thing)

Last week CVS joined a group of other retailers, banks, technology providers and payment services companies to launch its own mobile wallet. With the launch, the pharmacy intends to streamline the use of its rewards points with point-of-sale (POS) payments, but what it may actually be doing is adding another wet log to the slowly-burning mobile POS payments fire.

The issue lies in part with low consumer interest and adoption; it’s still faster to swipe (or insert) your credit card than to take out and unlock your phone, open an app, and try to convince the cashier it is a legitimate way to pay. Also at fault is the large, fragmented number of suppliers. I’ve lost count, but here’s a partial list:

  • Apple Pay
  • Android Pay
  • Cake Pay
  • CVS Pay
  • Walmart Pay
  • MasterPass
  • Samsung Pay
  • Wells Fargo Wallet
  • Chase Pay
  • Starbucks
  • Capital One Wallet

Other news in the payments space

  • UnionPay’s mobile payments launched in Canada. The China-based payments network is the third largest in the world (following Visa and Mastercard). The launch enables Canadian cardholders to use UnionPay’s QuickPass EMV cards or app to pay at participating merchants.
  • Visa (FD2014; F2010is in discussions with Nigerian banks to roll out mVisa, its QR code-based mobile payments service, by the end of this year. Consumers will be able to use their smartphone or feature phone to pay for goods with merchants, send domestic P2P payments, and access cash.
  • Apple expands carrier billing to Taiwan and Switzerland. The Taiwanese carrier is EasTone and while there’s no word yet on the carrier in Switzerland, it is expected to be Swisscom. This expands Apple’s carrier billing partnerships, already operating in Germany and Russia, to four countries.

A big deal in ATMs gets a second look

Diebold (F2014finalized its merger with German ATM maker Wincor Nixdorf last week, a deal that combined two of the largest three ATM companies. The deal closed for $1.8 billion and makes Diebold Nixdorf the world’s largest ATM company, claiming a third of the worldwide market.

Days after unveiling the newly-formed entity, the ATM giant is facing an “in-depth merger investigation” from the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority. The agency said that it is concerned the deal will reduce the number of companies supplying ATMs in the U.K. The companies have until April 26 to “offer undertaking to address competition concerns.”

This further highlights the opportunity for disruption in the ATM space, a realm where companies such as Liqpay (F2013) have showed off solutions that allow cardholders to use their smartphones for a contactless way to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Lending

Making Sense of Student Loan Debt – Bernie Sanders-era promises of free college tuition for all notwithstanding, the challenge of student loan debt isn’t going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) suggests that loan servicers are a part of the problem – at least when it comes to income-driven repayment plans.

As reported in PYMNTS.com, much of the problem is bureaucratic, with “delays and rejections” that can expose student borrowers to greater interest, penalties, or even lost eligibility. “Student Loan servicers continue to fall short when it comes to helping borrowers address $1.3 trillion in student debt,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “It’s time servicers focus more effectively on processing applications for income-driven repayment plans properly.”

And the CPFB is focused on more than just the student loan servicers. Wells Fargo was slapped with a $3.6 million fine this week for “illegal fees … and (depriving) others of critical information needed to effectively manage their student loan accounts,” according to Cordray. Wells Fargo said that it has already made changes to the processes criticized by the CPFB in its consent order.

It is hard to read about student loan debt in the headlines and not think of Student Loan Genius (F2016), which made its Finovate debut this spring. The company empowers employers to help millennial workers in particular pay off their student loan debts faster. This not only helps reduce what is often an onerous debt load (especially relative to the income of the average recent college graduate), but also enables young workers to start saving better.

Development

Make Room for DevGoogle (FD2016F2011) is the latest major technology company dedicating major square footage to support collaboration between “local and international developers and startups.” Writing in the Google Developers Blog, Global Lead Roy Glasberg revealed that more than 14,000 square feet at 301 Howard Street would be the home of a variety of dev-friendly events ranging from Google Developer Group meetings to Tech Talks. The new facility will also host Google’s equity-free, three-month accelerator for emerging market startups, LaunchPad Accelerator.

Earlier this summer, IBM (F2016) announced that it was opening a developer space of its own, Bluemix Garage, in New York City. The New York garage, IBM’s sixth, will be hosted by developer networking and education organization, Galvanize. In the U.K. Allied London announced a new fintech co-work space called “The Vault” that will occupy 20,000 square feet in Manchester’s business neighborhood. Meanwhile in Germany, ING-DiBa announced its sponsorship of the latest fintech hub in Frankfurt.

Meanwhile in Asia, PayPal (FD2014F2012) announced this week that it was opening an innovation lab in Singapore, its first such lab outside the U.S. The lab joins PayPal’s other Indo-Asia Pacific innovation lab in Chennai, India, and will be focused on improving productivity among SMEs in the food and beverage industry. We also learned this week that the Monetary Authority of Singapore is setting up a fintech innovation lab, Looking Glass @ MAS1 in that country.

  • “Google Developers to open a startup space in San Francisco” – Google Developers Blog
  • “IBM Opens Bluemix Garage in New York City” – Finovate
  • Allied London unvels fintech startup “Vault” in Manchester – Manchester Evening News
  • ING-DiBa backs new Frankfurt fintech hub – Finextra
  • PayPal opens Innovation Lab in Singapore for next generation fintech – Deal Street Asia
  • Singapore’s MAS gets in on the fintech innovation lab game – Tech in Asia
  • Fintech Groups Will Unite into Global Hubs – Fortune

Life in the blockchain

Swiss-based UBS announced a year ago it was working on a virtual currency to facilitate faster transaction settlement called Utility Settlement Coin. This week UBS announced it has joined forces with Deutsche Bank, Santander, BNY Mellon, and ICAP to convince central banks on a commercial launch by 2018. Competition for this digital currency include Citigroup’s Citicoin, Goldman Sachs’ SETLcoin, and a similar, yet-unnamed offering from JPMorgan.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Fintech Trending: Look Who’s Chasing Venmo, Student Loan Servicing Falls Short.
  • DriveWealth Adds Real-Time Margin.

Around the web

  • The Times of India examines the role Ripple can play in reducing the costs of overseas remittances.
  • iSignthis integrates its digital KYC technology with Ixaris.
  • Axis Bank’s Tagit-powered app adds augmented reality.
  • Cortera announces 100th release of its Cortera Pulse product.
  • Quisk rolls out mobile money platform at National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited.
  • Philadelphia Business Journal names eMoney Advisor one of the “Best Places to Work” in Philadelphia.

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.

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Agreement Express

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FF2016-Logo-wdate-largeA look at the companies demoing live to 1,500+ fintech professionals on September 8 & 9, 2016. Register today.

Agreement Express allows financial institutions to design and execute consistent, automated onboarding experiences, while providing deep analytics that enable proactive and personalized client advice.

Features

  • Fully automates client experiences across multiple lines of business
  • Utilizes client data to improve and evolve rich customer experiences
  • Supports FI’s digitalization initiatives

Why it’s great
Agreement Express is the only end-to-end platform to provide faster, smarter, easier onboarding for all financial institutions.

AgreementExpress_MikeGardnerPresenters

Mike Gardner, CEO
Gardner is a 20-year veteran of the software industry. He has led Agreement Express to become one of the most respected onboarding automation platforms in the financial services industry.
LinkedIn

 

AgreementExpress_AndrewGrocholskiAndrew Grocholski, Account Executive
Grocholski is a seasoned professional in the SaaS industry. He has worked with large financial institutions to help them implement systems that improve business operations.
LinkedIn