Blend Launches Native Mobile App

Blend, a startup that helps lenders make better mortgage lending decisions, announced a native mobile app last week. The San Francisco-based company’s launch of Blend Mobile aims empower loan officers to manage borrower requests and applications on their mobile device in order to facilitate communication between the two parties.

Founded in 2012, Blend has 30 clients and has raised $60 million. The company’s lender-facing system offers a digital, paperless mortgage application process. The customizable interface is designed to reduce friction in borrower interactions and aims to help loan originators close up to seven to ten days faster.

With Blend’s new native app, lenders can cater to borrowers by enabling them to complete a mortgage application when and where they prefer, with the ability to switch among channels. The app also leverages push notifications and alerts to facilitate communication between the two parties. For example, the app notifies lenders if they have a period of inactivity greater than 48 hours in order to decrease the time to close. The new app is available to all current and new Blend clients.

Blend demoed its data-driven mortgage at FinovateSpring 2016. The company was recently named to CB Insights’ Fintech 2015 list. Earlier this year, we highlighted Blend’s role in growing the mortgagetech scene and interviewed CEO Nima Ghamsari in a feature on Blend last year.

Finovate Alumni News


Around the web

  • BanqUP announces alpha roll-out alpha of SME fintech bank.
  • Flywire announces record results in payments processed and institutions and students served in the past year.
  • Expensify ships 5 new travel integrations.
  • Revolut’s new feature allows users to generate their own IBAN for Euro transactions.

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.

NCR Software at Center of Swiss ATM Harmonization Initiative

Technology from NCR will help drive a new initiative to modernize and upgrade ATMs used by Swiss banks. The project, ATMfutura, is being led by Switzerland’s SIX Group, and will standardize UI and user guidance on all ATMs in the country. The pilot begins this summer and continues through the balance of the year, with the new software from NCR, based on the company’s NCR APTRA Top Client Server, made available to all Swiss ATMs in 2018.

The goal of the ATMfutura project is to bring a common standard to Swiss ATMs – replacing more than 20 different solutions currently in use – making ATMs easier to use for customers and more cost efficient for FIs to run and manage. Among the features to be added as part of the “harmonization” of Swiss ATMs are mobile cash withdrawals using QR codes, the ability to choose cash denominations, and a voice-guided interface for customers with visual impairments. Many of these features are offered by certain Swiss banks; the ATMfutura project aims to bring these features to all Swiss ATMs.

Pictured: Digital Insight Labs Product Management Co-Lead Suzan Szollar demonstrating NCR’s VR Collaboration for ATMs at FinovateSpring 2017.

“We are proud of the trust that SIX placed in us with this project,” NCR Switzerland Country Manager Paul Thuer said. “The configuration and modernization of existing components for a new, standardized ATM software platform is a complex task that requires a trusting cooperation between both parties,” Thuer explained, adding that he felt the ATMfutura project would have a positive “lighthouse effect on other countries.”

Six Payment Services Division CEO Juerg Weber called the ATM software standardization “only the first step in the ATMfutura project.” Weber sees the project eventually providing Swiss banks solutions that help them further lower costs and boost usability of their ATMs “through standardization, volume purchasing options, and optimized processes.” Weber credited NCR for having the “long term experience, flexibility, and know-how” to manage a project of ATMfutura’s scale.

Founded in 1884 and headquartered in Duluth, Georgia, NCR demonstrated Virtual Reality Collaboration for ATMs at FinovateSpring 2017. Earlier this year, NCR introduced its SelfServ 80 Series ATMs, which feature 19-inch touch display drives and a tablet-like user interface. In February, the company announced that Bottomline Technologies had integrated NCR’s intelligent transaction processing platform, Authentic, into its Direct Faster Payment Service solution.

The largest provider of multivendor ATM software in the world, NCR is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “NCR.” The company has a market capitalization of $5 billion, and includes Finovate alum, Digital Insight, among its subsidiaries. Each day, NCR’s software, hardware, and services enable nearly 700 million transactions in verticals ranging from retail and hospitality to financial services and technology. William Nuti is CEO and Chairman.


Friday Fun: Alliant Credit Union Raises Savings Rates

In this era of low rates and stingy credit approvals, it’s always nice to get a little good news from your FI. This week, Chicago’s Alliant Credit Union made the most of its 10 basis point increase in its basic saving rate. On its homepage, the drop-down navigation menus for both Bank and Invest, included a cute graphic touted the new 1.11% APY (see above).

And clicking on Learn More takes you to a page proclaiming rates “15.9x times the national average (I feel like they could just say “15x,” the extra 0.9x just makes it harder to read and is meaningless). See screenshot below.

Bottom line: If you got it, flaunt it. Have a great weekend! (and go Venus!)

P.S. Congratulation Alliant on being named “best HSA for spending” by Morningstar.

Author: Jim Bruene is Founder & Senior Advisor to Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Advisors, a financial services user-experience consultancy. 

defiSOLUTIONS Hires Keven Sticher as Chief Information Officer

defiSOLUTIONS has appointed Keven Sticher as its new Chief Information Officer. Sticher comes to the company after stints as SVP of Technology and Security for Monogram Residential Trust and VP of IT for Exeter Finance Corporation. At defiSOLUTIONS, Sticher will be responsible for “business alignment, vision, strategy, and execution of information technology and security.”

Chief Operating Officer Georgine Muntz praised Sticher’s “solid track record of deploying scalable technology.” In addition to his work with Monogram Residential Trust and Exeter Financial, Sticher is a board member of computer and network security consultancy, Fox Three, and an official member of the Forbes Technology Council. “His leadership will strengthen the defi core as we continue to expand and provide even greater value to our lenders,” Muntz said.

“I love this company,” Sticher (pictured) said. “I believe in it and what the defi team has been accomplishing. And I look forward to making certain we successfully get to the next level.”

defiSOLUTIONS made a name for itself by delivering the auto lending industry’s first fully-configurable Loan Origination Solution (LOS). Demonstrated at FinovateSpring 2014, the technology has enabled the company’s clients – ranging from established auto finance companies to startup lenders –  to process up to 30,000 applications and fund up to 1,500 deals a month. Now the company provides a wide range of services including loan management and servicing, analytics and reporting, digital loan document handling, direct loan application services, and an auto loan portfolio marketplace, defiEXCHANGE introduced in May.

defiSOLUTIONS was founded in 2012 and is based in Grapevine, Texas. Stephanie Alsbrooks is founder and CEO. Earlier this month, she was named the Southwest Region EY Entrepreneur of the Year in Emerging Technology .

Finovate Alumni News


  • defiSOLUTIONS Hires Keven Sticher as Chief Information Officer.
  • NCR at Center of Swiss ATM Harmonization Initiative

Around the web

  • CREALOGIX wins The Goodacre Systems in the City Award for 2017.
  • Business Insider profiles Brian Barnes, founder of M1 Finance.
  • Fujitsu begins selling SaaS lending and leasing technology developed by Cloud Lending Solutions.
  • TSYS extends commercial payments agreement with Germany’s Degussa Bank.
  • The Entrust Group announces new integration with eMoney Advisor.
  • Global Debt Registry finishes trial of secure, permissioned blockchain proof of concept.

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.

New Partnership Turns PayPal into Apple App Store Payment Option

One small step for consumer choice in e-commerce. One giant leap in PayPal’s quest to be the payment option of choice for shoppers online.

This week the company announced a partnership with Apple to allow shoppers to pay for their purchases at the App Store using PayPal. The feature will be available for users of a variety of Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and iPod. In addition to the App Store, PayPal will be a payment option for a variety of Apple services including Apple Music, iTunes, and iBooks. The new partnership is a major coup for PayPal insofar as the App Store previously limited payment options to debit and credit cards. Accepting PayPal also lowers the potential threat the company faced from Apple’s own payment technology, Apple Pay. This week’s deal follows a similar arrangement PayPal forged with Google that launched in April.

“PayPal’s availability across Apple’s services further expands our vision of providing customers a variety of ways to easily make mobile purchases,” PayPal EVP and COO Bill Ready wrote at the company blog. He noted that consumers will be able to ask Apple’s Siri to make a payment via the PayPal app. The agreement between Apple and PayPal is also seen a a big win for consumer choice. MarketWatch quoted industry analyst James Cakmak who noted that the trend toward giving consumers more payment options was strong among the major payment networks and card issuers.

Founded in 1998 and acquired by eBay in 2002, San Jose-based PayPal demonstrated its Instant Account Creation functionality at FinovateEurope 2012. The company is also an alum of our developers conference, teaming up with Braintree to present “The Future of Payment Identity” and host a workshop “Making Payments Fun” at FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2014. PayPal made headlines last month when it made an undisclosed investment in online lender and fellow Finovate alum, LendUp. Also in June, PayPal partnered with Flywire – also a Finovate alum – to facilitate international money transfers. The company began the year with a major acquisition, picking up TIO Networks for $230 million in February.

Summit View: Demands of Different Digital Market Segments

Our expanded FinovateFall conference is coming up on September 11 through 14, and we’re taking a look at each of the six summit discussions that will take place after the demos. Today, we’re examining digital markets.

Summit #5: Digital Markets

Know your customer is an important regulation to abide by. But it is also a key marketing principle. Because every market is different, the only way to successfully up-sell and cross-sell products and services is to know and understand how tastes and preferences can vary in different markets.

Here’s an examination of four major digital markets. Each section outlines the group’s preferred channels, thought principles, and a set of services generally important to that group.


  • Preferred channel: Mobile only
  • Key principles
    • Liquidity
    • Real-time money movement
    • Simple and transparent communication
  • Services needed
    • Prepaid
    • Check cashing
    • Credit building and education
    • Basic budgeting
    • Billpay
  • Company examples
    • Urban FT (pictured right)
    • PayNearMe
    • Refundo
    • Mobino
    • LendUp
    • Wipit


  • Preferred channel: Mobile first
  • Key principles
    • Fun
    • Simple and transparent language
    • Gamification and interactivity
  • Services needed
    • Financial education
    • Savings
    • Parent-loaded prepaid card
  • Company examples
    • FamZoo (pictured)
    • Oink (f.k.a. Virtual Piggy)
    • PlayMoolah
    • DoughMain
    • OnDot


  • Preferred channel: Mix of mobile and web
  • Key principles:
    • Limited use of credit
    • Simple UI/UX
    • Easy access to move and spend money
  • Services needed:
    • Retirement saving and advice tools
    • Saving and budgeting tools
    • Debt repayment tools
    • P2P payment service
    • Billpay
    • Auto and home loans
  • Company examples
    • Moven
    • Qapital (pictured)
    • Student Loan Genius
    • Roostify
    • FutureAdvisor (owned by Blackrock)
    • Acorns
    • AutoGravity


  • Preferred channel: Mix of web and branch
  • Key principles:
    • Account security
    • Liquidity
    • Earned interest
    • Tax mitigation
  • Services needed:
    • Fixed income budgeting
    • Investing tools
    • Wealth management and advisory services
    • Estate planning
    • Tax planning and mitigation
    • Fraud protection
  • Company examples
    • TrueLink (pictured)
    • AARP
    • EverSafe
    • WiseBanyan

The upcoming Digital Markets Summit at FinovateFall will offer a day of discussions from industry thought leaders, top fintechs, and banks. Be a part of these live panel discussions at FinovateFall; register and save your spot at the show. A few summit highlights include:

  • Underbanked and financial inclusion
  • Youth (age 7-18) and their parents
  • Millennials
  • Seniors
  • Financial management in the gig economy

This is the fifth of our six FinovateFall Summit series. Stay tuned next week, when we’ll cover future technologies.

Enhancing the Customer Experience in Financial Services

Guest post by Sean Daly, Director of Partnerships, SaleMove

Over the last decade, financial technology, or “fintech”, has completely changed the financial services industry. While fintech innovations provide companies with convenience and outreach potential from the perspective of the financial institution, they are only useful if the customer feels comfortable interfacing with its framework (i.e. customer experience). Fintech has felt the challenges of customer experience, and here we’ll quickly go through a couple of those challenges along with some ways you can solve them.

The Differentiation Challenge

In order to understand the differentiation challenge in financial services, let’s point to the auto industry as an example. In the early days of modern manufacturing, the focus was put on mass production. Over the years with more competition, the priority began to shift from mass production to mass customization.

A good example is the Ford Model T; More than 15 million of them were built from 1908-1927. Apart from a few design modifications, Ford produced the same exact car 15 million times. As more and more competitors entered the market, the car became commoditized, which made differentiation extremely difficult. In reaction, automakers began providing a more personalized and customized auto experience. Flash forward to today and think about how many customizations are available on any new automobile. You can even design your own car online and have it delivered to your door. The focus switched from mass production to mass customization and personalization.

With a physical product like a car, the buying experience ends when the physical product is in the customer’s hands and they drive it away. In financial services, where there is no physical product, the customer will reflect back on the buying itself as the product. In financial services, the experience is the product.

The Touchpoint Challenge

Customers place a particularly high priority on trust and convenience. According to a recent survey sponsored by Zendesk, 62% of customers buy more when they have a good buying experience, but even more (64%) stopped buying when they had a bad customer experience. This is even more so in financial services because they are handling your money!

Today’s customer has infinite touch points, and they react badly and quickly to poor experiences. With social media, people can share their negative thoughts about a bad interaction with their circles within minutes (remember the United Airlines incident?), and it’s no secret that customers are much more likely to share bad experiences than good ones.

Let’s look at some ways you can solve these customer experience challenges:

● Map the customer journey to provide a consistent and relevant experience. If you haven’t mapped the customer journey on your website yet, read this HBR article to get started.

● Build personalized online experiences around customer segments to improve relevance. For example, Caribou coffee does this by remembering the customer’s preferences and then displays targeted flavors and products according to past activity. Netflix also serves as a good example with their profile personalization, which allows different profiles to share the same account. Financial services companies can do the same by personalizing experiences with Guided Selling products like SmartAssistant.

● Connect online with offline to build a comprehensive view of your customer. There are two ways financial services businesses can do this, either by heavily tracking their customer through analytics software on and offline, or connecting the two seamlessly. With new technologies like chat, video chat, and CoBrowsing, online interactions can be made to feel personal and authentic, similar to face-to-face experiences. We call this “creating the in-person customer experience online.

If you’re interested in learning more about CoBrowsing or considering to purchase a technology solution like it, check out this article:

Questions to Ask When Choosing a CoBrowsing Solution

Sean Daly is Director of Partnerships at SaleMove. A four-time Finovate Best of Show winner, SaleMove was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in New York City. The company most recently demonstrated its Engagement Platform and OmniBrowse solution at FinovateSpring 2017. Dan Michaeli is CEO.

Turnkey Lender Raises $2 Million in Series A

In a round led by Vertex Ventures, the venture capital wing of Temasek Holdings, Turnkey Lender has picked up $2 million in funding. The Singapore-based company specializes in loan management technology, delivered over the cloud, that automates all stages of the lending life cycle – from application processing to collections and reporting. Turnkey Lender will use the funds for product development, adding staff, and growing its business in the Asia-Pacific region – especially Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Quoted in DealStreetAsia, Turnkey Lender co-founder Dmitry Voronenko emphasized the “enormous” opportunity to provide machine-learning and data analysis-enabled solutions to small and medium-sized lenders.  He added that the partnership with Vertex Ventures would help Turnkey Lender enter new markets as well as continue to grow in existing ones.  The company currently has more than 40 customers in 25 countries including the United States, Turnkey Lender’s biggest market.

Pictured: Turnkey Lender’s Arthur Timothy Timchenko demonstrating the company’s SaaS solution at FinovateSring 2017.

Founded in 2014, Turnkey Lender demonstrated its SaaS solution at FinovateSpring 2017. The company’s platform leverages machine learning to tackle many of the challenges of credit scoring in growth markets, such as the lack of borrower data. As Elena Ionenko, Turnkey Lender co-founder explained, the technology enables small and medium-sized lenders to begin with a generic scoring template that will adapt and evolve to the needs of the borrowing customers. This, in combination with accessing other alternative credit scoring methods via API, creates an automated, enterprise-grade lending solution that is flexible and scalable.

“We continue to disrupt the lending industry by providing the same great technology used by large retail banks to nonbank lenders,” Turnkey Lender Business Development Manager Arthur Timothy Timchenko said from the Finovate stage earlier this year. “It is our mission to fill in the gaps in the underserved markets making sure that even the smallest lenders can assess their credit risk properly, make good decisions, and offer (the) best rates to good borrowers,” he said.

A winner of a MAS FinTech Award at the inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival last fall, Turnkey Lender is also a veteran of FinovateAsia 2016. For more information about Finovate’s upcoming return to Hong Kong for FinovateAsia this November, visit our FinovateAsia 2017 page.