Dwolla Raises Capital, Relaunches Access API

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Writing at the Dwolla blog, company founder and CEO Ben Milne expressed how important the goal of “building the ideal API to move money” was to him and his company. Calling this “part of our DNA,” Milne wrote that the new opportunities Dwolla’s technology has created have “come with growth and the need to finance it.”

And finance it Dwolla has. The company picked up $6.85 million in new funding in a round led by Union Square Ventures and Foundry Group. Milne wrote that the investment will be used to expand Dwolla’s sales and account management operations in Des Moines, Iowa. The round featured participation from Detroit Venture Partners, Firebrand Ventures, High Alpha, Ludlow Ventures, and Next Level Ventures, and brings Dwolla’s total capital to just over $39 million. Firebrand Ventures founder John Fein was quoted in the Kansas City Star crediting Dwolla for rekindling his interest in supporting fledgling technology companies.

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Pictured: Dwolla Director of Communications and Policy Affairs Jordan Lampe demonstrating FiSync at FinovateSpring 2015.

Milne also announced his company’s API Suite, Access API, will now contain all of Dwolla’s white label solutions. “Nothing changes for current customers,” he noted, “but additional features will be rolled into the Access API to make building software that connects to the banking infrastructure easier.” These features, according to TechCrunch, include same-day transfer and a new dashboard for managing transactions. Fortune.com notes that Access API “has attracted more than 100 customers in its first year.”

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, Dwolla demonstrated its FiSync technology at FinovateSpring 2015. The company partnered with open source subscription billing and payments platform, Kill Bill, last October and, in August, introduced a new dashboard and administrative interface for its white-label partners. Dwolla added more FIs to its instant account-verification flow back in May.

Card-Linked Offers Consolidates: Edo Interactive Acquired by Augeo

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From 2011 to 2013, card-linked offers (CLO) was all the rage– you could say it was the AI of that era. The trend peaked in 2012, when it seemed every other fintech company added some type of card-linked offers. As is typical with explosive trends such as these, we’re now seeing industry consolidation.

This week that consolidation comes in the form of successful CLO player Edo Interactive being acquired by Auego. Minnesota-based Auego will add Edo’s CLO technology to its loyalty and engagement offerings, which will provide Edo access to a larger client base. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Since launching in 2007 Edo has partnered with hundreds of national and local merchants, helping each tailor a personalized digital marketing campaign to drive sales. At FinovateSpring 2012, the Nashville-based company (pictured right) launched its GeoCommerce feature that enabled retailers to push offers to users’ phones based on their geolocation.

Ed Braswell, Edo CEO said, “…the combination of our platforms helps solve the challenges many others face with content and delivers the strategy, data insight and analytics required for programs to be sustainable and successful. Heading into 2017, we intend to deliver the next generation of card-linked loyalty with the most premier partners in the space.”

This is Auego’s seventh acquisition since launching in 1998. The company will preserve the Edo brand along with its operations and headquarters location.

Startup Watch: Qonto Launching European Direct Business Bank out of Paris

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When it comes to startups, it seems that consumer services get all the attention, while the enterprise plays get the revenue. Or so Qonto hopes as they target business customers for their new direct bank opening in second quarter. The Paris-based startup (with an .eu web address) is targeting business with their more intensive expense-tracking needs and promises “easy business banking,” a compelling slogan.

The startup is not technically a bank, chartered under the French payments company regulations, but it offers debit cards, current accounts, and international transfers. The only big thing missing are commercial loans, and no doubt those are on the product roadmap, once they get some traction on the expense management side.

Qonto is currently concentrating on the front-end customer experience, off loading the nuts and bolts of payments to Treezor, a French white-label payments provider. Treezor is able to provide instant MasterCard numbers to Qonto customers, with the plastic arriving within 5 days. That helps get the new business customer onboarded immediately, a great first impression.

A few Finovate alums are pursuing this market, but none in France.

The company was in the news last week with their first fundraising, snagging $1.7 million from Alven Capital and Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, which also invested in N26 and TransferWise.

Bottom line: Supplying businesses, even smaller ones, is a lucrative proposition. They are not as price sensitive as they appear, because few owners have the time or patience to shop for banking services. Once they settle on a provider, you have a good chance of keeping them for the life of their business, IF you can meet their needs as they grow, especially credit. And startups are uniquely positioned to appeal to small business customers, because as a small biz themselves, they understand the customer like no large bank can.

NatWest, RBS to Offer Clients Business Banking Solutions from FreeAgent

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This week marks two big wins for online accounting system provider FreeAgent. NatWest has agreed to provide FreeAgent’s SaaS business banking solution to its small business clients this year. FreeAgent also signed an agreement with The Royal Bank of Scotland that will put its cloud-based accounting solution in the hands of RBS’s small business customers.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have been chosen from over 30 vendors to help and support Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest’s business customers,” FreeAgent CEO Ed Molyneux wrote on the company blog. “By moving onto the FreeAgent platform, we hope life will become easier for these small businesses (who in many cases have to do their accounting themselves) by allowing them to concentrate on running their businesses.”

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Pictured: Ed Molyneux, founder and CEO of FreeAgent, demonstrating his company’s SaaS accounting solution at FinovateEurope 2013 in London.

As part of the partnership, FreeAgent’s technology will be connected to the business bank accounts of RBS and NatWest customers. The company’s platform – already used by 50,000 businesses – helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers manage invoices, expenses, taxes, projects, and more. In December, FreeAgent launched a variety of new features for its mobile app, FreeAgent Mobile, including a tax timeline and notifications, a profit & loss screen, and a cashflow screen. FreeAgent Mobile is available on both iOS and Android platforms.

Founded in 2007 and based in Edinburgh, U.K., FreeAgent demonstrated its platform at FinovateEurope 2013. The company raised more than $10 million in funding from investors including IRIS Software Group, SaaS Capital, and Seedrs, before going public last November. FreeAgent trades on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol “FREE” and has a market capitalization of $54 million (£44 million). The company’s technology was listed in Creative Boom’s roundup of “must-have apps for freelancers” last year.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • NatWest, RBS to Offer Clients Business Banking Solutions from FreeAgent.
  • Card-Linked Offers Consolidates: Edo Interactive Acquired by Augeo.
  • Dwolla Raises Capital, Relaunches Access API.

Around the web

  • Persia International Bank chooses core banking technology from Temenos.
  • Kensho Technologies CEO Daniel Nadler weighs in on cybersecurity in the Age of Trump.
  • Rabobank to deploy UP Immediate Payments from ACI Worldwide.
  • Asset manager Schroders picks Capriza to help drive digital transformation.
  • Stuart Frankel of Narrative Science writes about bots and advanced natural language generation technology in Harvard Business Review.
  • De Surinaamsche Bank expands relationship with Fiserv to deepen core banking

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.

Top Business-to-Business Wealth Tech Players

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If you’ve been following our series on wealth tech, you’ve seen our analysis of the industry as a whole, a review of the top trends, and an examination of B2C wealth tech players.

Our wealth tech coverage continues this week with a review of business-to-business (B2B) players in the wealth tech space. These are companies that cater directly to banks, advisors, or brokerages, instead of offering products or services directly to consumers. B2B wealth tech is a large category, so I’ve sub-divided it into four digestible groups and listed my top picks for each category. Since category sizes vary, the number of selections also varies.

Alternative investment services
These are platforms that help advisors connect clients with unconventional investment types, such as private equity, hedge funds, futures, real estate, etc.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 11.44.57 AMEquityZen’s EZ Institutional lets advisors give clients access to a diverse asset class

Technology for advisors and brokerages
These are tools available via API, SDK, or web interface to help advisors compete with robo advisors by allowing them to invest with less bias, increase client communication, scale operations, find new clients, and more.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 11.40.41 AMTrizic offers advisors their own digital tools to compete with robo advisors

Non-U.S. B2B investment and advisor technology
Similar to the above category, these companies offer tools for advisors outside of the U.S.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 11.30.52 AMmeetInvest helps advisors invest like world-renowned market experts

News and Information Companies
These are online platforms, APIs, or SaaS offerings that provide advisors market information, show them trending news, or connect businesses with market data to power their own products.

Screen-Shot-2016-10-31-at-3.22.22-PMForwardLane’s dashboard acts like a private research analyst for advisors advisors, helping them stay current on new trends and funds

FinovateEurope Sneak Peek: ICAR

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FE2017-V2-wdateA look at the companies demoing live at FinovateEurope on the 7 and 8 of February 2017 in London. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

With more than 20 million ID validations per year, ICAR is based on fully-automatic technology which validates customer identity and incorporates the necessary features to be the best, easiest-to-use tool.

Features

  • Omni-channel and immediate: ICAR makes sure that it is a real user at the time of onboarding
  • Liveness test and biometric technology to prevent ID fraud
  • Big Data analysis for a Digital Me check.

Why it’s great
ICAR’s online automatic solution processes and authenticates the customer ID in less than 20 seconds. ICAR not only verifies the identity document, but builds the Digital Identity Profile, also.

ICAR_XavierCodoPresenters

Xavier Codó, CEO
Codó has more than 15 years of experience in the information technology and software sectors. Today, he leads the ICAR team with the vision of offering market solutions of high technology value.
LinkedIn

 

ICAR_MarionaCampmanyMariona Campmany, CMO
Campmany has extensive experience in the digital transformation of markets across multiple domains including corporate and commercial strategy, customer-orientation and product development.
LinkedIn

FinovateEurope Sneak Peek: bankUP

bankUP_homepage_January2017

FE2017-V2-wdateA look at the companies demoing live at FinovateEurope on the 7 and 8 of February 2017 in London. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

bankUP is a digital-first, fintech bank focused on SMEs. It provides a one-stop shop combination of core banking products (business account, Mastercard) and integrated fintech services.

Features

  • Banking services tailored to specific industries
  • Automation around predictive financing in combination with accounting and real time access to credit services
  • Fintech SME services in one dashboard

Why it’s great
bankUP is a digital SME fintech hub built on top of banking services.

Presenters

  • Krzysztof Pulkiewicz, Director
  • Dimitri Leemans, Partner
  • Łukasz Chmielewski, CTO

FinovateEurope Sneak Peek: Infolio

Infolio_homepage_January2017

FE2017-V2-wdateA look at the companies demoing live at FinovateEurope on the 7 and 8 of February 2017 in London. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

Infolio is a digital workplace platform enabling secure collaboration for teams working on key deals, customers, and projects by linking information from many sources into one great digital experience.

Features

  • Allows team collaboration within shared workspaces
  • Integrates access to structured and unstructured information from various sources
  • Offers enterprise-grade security and customization

Why it’s great
Infolio was named 2016 Gartner “Cool Vendor” in Digital Workplace, and was awarded “Top Digital Workplace Solution” in the 2016 Citi Smarter Worklife Challenge.

Infolio_DavidArberyPresenters

David Arbery, Director – Sales and Consulting
Having worked for some of the world’s leading strategy consultancy firms, such as A.T. Kearney, Arbery is committed to helping leaders drive their digital strategies and implement meaningful change.
LinkedIn

 

 

Infolio_DonCarliDon Carli, Director – Customer and Market Insights
Carli has been senior advisor and trusted provider of strategic planning, business intelligence, and mission-critical research for executives of Fortune 1000 companies for over 20 years.
LinkedIn

FinovateEurope Sneak Peek: Pushfor

Pushfor_homepage_January2017

FE2017-V2-wdateA look at the companies demoing live at FinovateEurope on the 7 and 8 of February 2017 in London. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

Pushfor is a secure content sharing and instant messaging platform that converts and projects content in high fidelity to any device.

Features

  • Content is pushed but never sent
  • Pull back content at any time
  • Track the entire content journey and all interactions with full audit trail
  • Engage in real-time via message, voice, and video

Why it’s great
Pushfor pushes content rather than sending it. Unlike any other content distribution approach, content is never sent to the device. That’s why Pushfor is different and that’s why “smart people push”.

Pushfor_JohnSafaPresenters

John Safa, Founder and CTO
Safa is a seasoned executive in architecting solutions for desktop, cloud, and mobile platforms. He has a highly entrepreneurial skill-set with 30+ granted patents.
LinkedIn

Crispin Luxton, VP Business Development