Blend, Roostify Earn Honors at MBA Insights 2018 Tech All-Star Awards

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual Insights 2018 Tech-All Stars have been named and this year a pair of Finovate alums  – Blend and Roostify – are among those recognized for their achievements in mortgagetech.

“Technology is driving remarkable innovations and efficiencies in real estate finance,” MBA Vice Chairman Brian Stoffers said. “MBA is pleased to recognize the men and women making significant technological contributions to the mortgage industry.”

Also earning recognition from the MBA at its Technology Solutions Conference & Expo earlier this week were Land Gorilla, Docutech, Notarize, and ReverseVision. The six winners were chosen from a nomination pool of 40 mortgage tech companies, the largest number of nominations since the awards were founded in 2002.

“Our Technology All-Stars are designing tools that disrupt the industry, but also make us smarter,” Stoffers added. “They are the ones providing us both faster and safer mortgage business tools to advance our industry. We call the Tech-All Stars the unsung heroes of the industry because much of what they do takes place behind the scenes – but we could not survive or move forward without them.”

The All-Stars honors were a first for both Finovate alums. Earlier this year, Roostify made fintech headlines when it announced picking up a $25 million investment. The Series B round featured participation from new investors Cota Capital, Point72 Ventures, and Santander Innoventures, as well as existing investors JP Morgan Chase, Colchis Capital, and a subsidiary of USAA, and boosted Roostify’s total capital to $33 million. The company said the funds would be used to expand its presence in the enterprise, pursue product enhancements, and seek opportunities in new markets.

Roostify demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016, showing how its SaaS solution enables lenders to offer a consumer-focused, mobile-friendly experience for borrowers from application to close. The company began the year with news that it was integrating with online loan marketplace and fellow Finovate alum Lending Tree, and has since added Adnan Habib as Vice President of Engineering and Mark McLaughlin as Vice President for Business Development.

Roostify was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Rajesh Bhat is CEO and co-founder.

Newly named to Forbes Fintech 50 list, mortgagetech innovator Blend was founded in 2012 and is based in San Francisco. The company, which demonstrated its Data-Driven Mortgage solution at FinovateSpring 2016, leverages intuitive design and data-powered intelligence to help lenders originate loans more efficiently and improve customer engagement. By making it easier for home buyers to provide lenders with the right, accurate information and streamlining the follow-up process for lenders, Blend’s platform enables application decisioning within days rather than weeks.

Last fall, GoBankingRates featured Blend in its look at 10 Startups to Watch in 2018 roster, and Forbes profiled the company in a feature titled “Blend Wants to Bring the $2 Trillion Mortgage Market to the Modern Era.” Blend has raised more than $160 million in funding, and has an estimated valuation of $500 million. Nima Ghamsari is CEO and co-founder.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Blend, Roostify Earn Honors at MBA Insights 2018 Tech All-Star Awards.
  • Qapital’s Latest $30 Million to Fuel New Roboadvisory Tools.

Around the web

  • FICO boosts financial crime protection with new suite of solutions.
  • Ping Identity achieves ISO 27001 Certification.
  • Luxoft teams with Softbank Robotics America to bring its humanoid robot Pepper to life.
  • MicroStrategy releases 3 new gateways to Microsoft Azure.
  • Woleet, a blockchain-based timestamp and signature app, is now available on Ledger Nano S.
  • Grubhub partners with PayPal’s Venmo on bill-splitting feature.
  • Avoka sees positive trends for North American banks in its 2018 State of Digital Sales in Banking Report.

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.

How To Move Nimbly from Fintech Idea to Full Customer Availability do traditional financial services firms successfully innovate to move nimbly from fintech idea to full customer availability? Ahead of speaking at FinovateSpring 2018, Jim Van Dyke, Founder & CEO at Futurion reveals his truths around the idea of ‘successful innovation.’

Last year, I interviewed leaders from banks, credit unions, and other FIs (ranging from the nation’s largest to smallest) to reveal specific speed bumps, potholes and pitfalls amidst rare fast stretches of smooth pavement. These leaders all know that without finding a faster and better way to innovate quickly on the path toward fulfillment of customer, competitive and market opportunities, organizations will quickly become irrelevant. This research report asked 30 leaders the same three questions about their largest innovation processes: how they work, how long they take, and what they’ve learned along the way.

At FinovateSpring, the ‘Innovator Insight: Speeding up the time to market for new products and services‘ panel brings actual interviewee respondents on-stage to Finovate to discuss their best practices for getting key fintech innovations to market faster and better.  Here are a few highlights of what we’ll be discussing in our fast-paced and no-holds-barred panel:

  • Project durations vary widely­—ranging from a 6 months to five years—with the most common response being 21 months and the average being 24. Specific project management methodologies make all the difference.
  • Innovation practices at financial services firms appear to be significantly less mature and productive than those at software firms, representing risk that the latter will outmaneuver the former. Financial sector firms’ project stages vary dramatically among all respondents and had very inconsistent mention of lean methodologies (such as prototyping or customer journey maps).
  • Some traditional financial sector firms only allow innovation ideas to originate from top executives. At all such firms, demonstrated respondent confidence and morale was markedly lower (when compared to all other interviewees).
  • There was a strong observed (i.e. generally not explicitly stated) correlation between an organization’s current ability to rapidly execute and a respondent’s demonstrated morale and level of engagement. In turn, the author predicts that a likely by-product of the ability to rapidly innovate with high alignment to customer needs might be the benefit of a stronger ability to attract, motivate, and retain top quality talent in the competitive fintech labor market.
  • Many top innovations are viewed as neither discretionary nor of direct contribution to customer value, but are ultimately viewed as no less important than others. For example, many cited efforts to adopt an API framework or particular vendor relationships that only make future areas of direct customer value more possible. In addition, several smaller FI executives lamented actions on the part of their technology vendors that they viewed as standing in the way of their ability to release new innovations to market.
  • Risk or security-focused team members are unexpectedly incredibly valuable in ideation or problem-solving at several FI shops, possibly because they are required, on an ongoing basis, to creatively address dynamic and formidable problems.

Join Van Dyke at FinovateSpring 2018, May 8 through 11, 2018 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. Find out more >>

Revolut Unveils New Savings Solution, Vaults

Digital banking alternative Revolut is the latest fintech to help you turn your spare change into savings gold (or cash, or Bitcoin) …

Revolut has introduced a new tool, Vaults, that enables users to set aside the spare change they get from daily transactions. “Every time you make a card transaction with Revolut, we’ll round up your purchase to the nearest whole number and place your space change into your Vault,” Revolut Chief Blogging Officer Rob Braileanu wrote this morning. “Picture the scene – you buy your morning coffee for £2.70, we round it up to £3.00 and automatically place £0.30 into your Savings Vault.”

Spare funds set aside in Vaults can be withdrawn at any time, and users can adjust the savings setting to have more or less spare change directed to their Vaults. Users of Vaults can save spare change in any of the 25 supported currencies, as well as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ether. In addition to turning spare change into savings, the app can be used to set up recurring payments that are set aside in your Vault or make one-off payments.

“We’ve had thousands of people in our community asking for this feature, so we wanted to give something back and ask for their help in naming it,” Revolut CEO Nikolay Storonsky said. “We believe that Vaults will enable us to help many more people start saving and investing towards their future.”

Setting up the Vault on the Revolut app is straightforward. After making sure you have the latest version of the app installed, select “Vaults” under the “More” tab. Name your Vault and choose the currency and the savings goal. To round up transactions, choose the “Spare change” option. Funds set aside in the Vault are kept separately from the user’s main Revolut card account. Users should understand that funds received by Revolut in digital asset transactions are not protected under the U.K. Electronic Money Regulations 2011 nor the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Revolut demonstrated its app at FinovateEurope 2015. Founded in 2013 and headquartered in London, U.K., Revolut has more than 1.5 million customers across Europe, has processed more than 70 million transactions to date – totalling more than $10 billion in volume – and saved customers $160 million in fees.

Just last month Revolut announced that it was updating its business accounts to support more currencies. The new update will also enable users to set permissions for multiple log ins and to integrate Revolut’s technology with in-house systems and third party solutions via Open API. In March, Revolut introduced disposable virtual cards to help fight online card fraud, and launched its Euro direct debit service.

With plans to enter the North American market later this year, Revolut has raised more than $86 million in funding. The company includes Index Ventures, TriplePoint Capital, Balderton Capital, and Mastercard Start Path among its investors.

BillShark Lands Funding and Advisory Backing from Mark Cuban

Bill reduction service BillShark received some serious street cred this week. The Massachusetts-based company announced that it has joined forces with another shark– Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame– who is now advising and backing the company. The financial terms of the agreement were undisclosed, adding to the company’s previous $1.6 million raised.

Under Cuban’s advisory, Billshark and its API will be more visible. Cuban will offer increased brand recognition in places where consumers typically pay their bills.

“We were fortunate to meet Mark and he loved our practical service as well as the potential for our platform,” said Steve McKean, CEO of Billshark. “Monthly subscription bills creep-up over time, seemingly without reason, and Americans overpay for these services by about $50 billion per year. Mark provides unmatched expertise in partnerships, product development and marketing.”

Founded in 2015, BillShark aims to help consumers lower their monthly bills, including TV, wireless, internet, and home security. To ensure they are not overpaying for these services, consumers and businesses upload a photo of an existing bill to the BillShark app, then the BillShark team goes to work negotiating with the biller for a lower rate.

The company’s success is evidenced in the numbers. BillShark frequently saves consumers 25% or more, adding up to hundreds of dollars in savings per year. So far, the company has saved users more than $10 million; the average customer saves about $300 per bill per year. BillShark’s goal is to save users more than $2.7 billion by 2025. “Companies that save their customers both time and money always catch my attention,” said Cuban. “Billshark eliminates the stress of negotiating or cancelling a bill, so its customers can focus on more productive and long-term goals.”

Saving money for users is how BillShark makes its money. The company only charges consumers when it lowers the cost on a bill– this incentivizes the BillShark to maintain a “shark-like” motivation to negotiate a lower rate on a bill. If they can’t get a lower rate on a bill, they don’t charge the user.

BillShark also announced the One Bill, One Child program this week. The program aims to offer middle school students a better financial education to give them the tools they need to successfully manage their finances as adults. For every bill submitted to BillShark, the company pays for a child to receive an hour of financial education from Ramsey Solutions. Billshark’s goal is to educate one million children by 2025.

At FinovateFall 2017, McKean and COO Brian Keaney showcased the bill reduction service. The company started 2018 by partnering with Narmi, which integrated Billshark’s API into its digital banking platform.

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: Zuma Technologies

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on May 8 through 11, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. Register today and save your spot.

Zuma Technologies’ Zuma Liquidity Solutions (ZLS) is an automated multi-industry lending platform that provides a competitive marketplace for borrowers & lenders to transact based on their preferences.


  • Smart – proprietary credit decision system that improves over time
  • Automated – auto-invest rules to match your risk preferences
  • Connected – borrowers can connect to their accounting software

Why it’s great
Zuma emerged to address the large and underserved lending markets which are limited by high costs, lack of automation, and deficiency of financial data.


Francisco Liquido, VP Business Strategy
Liquido is an enthusiastic business development executive with a passion for building great teams, products, and partnerships. He has C-suite leadership experience and direct P&L responsibility.

Vika Arkhipova, Marketing/Sales Executive
Arkhipova is an enthusiastic and ambitious digital media professional working in marketing, product management, and sales. She is truly a goal-oriented person, consistently accomplishing and exceeding objectives.

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: Stratyfy

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on May 8 through 11, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. Register today and save your spot.
Stratyfy is where AI meets IQ, empowering industry experts with a solution that combines the best of both worlds – human knowledge and AI.
  • Combine the accuracy of AI with the usability of a rule engine
  • Scale and adapt easily and automatically
  • Leverage cutting edge AI without coding or data scientists
Why it’s great
Stratyfy is not selling off-the-shelf models to replace humans. We empower experts and allow them to combine their IQ with AI to achieve safe growth.
Michael Cherkassky, CEO, Co-founder
Cherkassky is the CEO of Stratyfy, where he continues to do what he does best – delivering lasting customer impact through both enterprise-grade products and exceptional service.
Laura Kornhauser, President & COO
Kornhauser spent 12 years in JPMorgan’s Investment Bank, in corporate lending and derivatives. She was focused on helping institutional customers build and deploy risk management strategies.

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: Swych

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on May 8 through 11, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. Register today and save your spot.

Swych breaks cross-border barriers with a blockchain-based global gifting architecture that changes how people shop, gift, and pay for purchases in a global, mobile marketplace.


  • First blockchain-based global gifting network with 1,000s of retailers and millions of product SKUs
  • Instant, secure, scalable
  • Unparalled transaction speeds costing only pennies per 1,000 transactions

Why it’s great
Swych powers not only individual gifting, but digital wallets and corporate incentives programs so recipients can “swych” to favorite brands available in their regions/currencies.


Deepak Jain, Founder & CEO
With a passion for launching/transforming early-stage startups and bringing innovative technologies to market, Jain holds 55+ granted patents with 50 more payment/security technologies patents pending.

Harpreet Chawla, VP Digital Products & Innovation
A strategic leader, Chawla delivers innovative digital commerce/payment solutions that engage, captivate, and delight consumers and maximize demand and conversion rates for enterprises.

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: Flybits

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on May 8 through 11, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. Register today and save your spot.

Flybits offers an end-to-end intelligent recommendation platform that enhances enterprises’ digital personalization strategy.


  • Fast time-to-market – go from ideation to production within 90 days
  • Data unification – seamlessly normalize public and proprietary data
  • Privacy first – data tokenization to protect consumer privacy

Why it’s great
Flybits offers an end-to-end solution that hides the complexity of data intelligence, enabling enterprises to harness endless sources of public and proprietary data.


Dr. Hossein Rahnama, Founder and CEO
Rahnama is a recognized figure in ubiquitous computing. His research explores AI, mobile human-computer interaction, and contextual services. He is currently a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab.

Justin Lam, Software Engineer, Product
Lam has been a software engineer at Flybits since its inception in 2013. He has a passion for DevUX and has led the development of both web and mobile projects, including Flybits’ JavaScript SDK.

e-Magazine: Getting Practical With the Fintech Hype

Finovate has been perfecting fintech conferences and news content since 2007. This week, we’re thrilled to introduce our quarterly e-book.

In this edition, we’re pleased to share actionable insight about Open Banking, crafting a digital strategy, and low-hanging fruit in AI. We also take a look at the singular trend that dominated presentations across FinovateEurope and FinovateSpring. Finally, we celebrate International Women’s Day with some of fintech’s leading ladies.

Releasing our e-magazine series is, more than anything, humbling. It’s another reminder that we wouldn’t be here without conference attendees, blog readers, and fintech Tweeters. So thanks for your patronage as we continue our endeavor of supporting the fintech industry.


Download the e-Magazine here >>