Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • PayStand Scores in $6 Million Series A Funding
  • Actiance Acquired by K1 Capital Management

Around the web

  • American Express, Santander UK, and Ripple team up to support blockchain-enabled, cross-border, B2B payments.
  • Veridium announces partnership with Walla to pilot digital banking model in sub-Saharan Africa that uses biometrics for authentication.
  • Econiq wins Honorable Mention at annual BankNews Innovative Solutions Awards for its Conversation Hub.
  • Best of Show winner Unison unveils 2018 expansion plans.
  • CREALOGIX announces expansion into Asia-Pacific with new offices in Singapore.

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.

Betterment Celebrates the Season of Giving with New Share Donation Feature

Robo advisory platform Betterment made an announcement today that it is not only making it easier to give to charities, it is also giving consumers more reasons to do so.

Starting November 28, on Giving Tuesday, Betterment investors will be able to donate shares of long-term investments from their taxable accounts directly to charitable organizations. While the act of giving may grant users a warm heart, Betterment has made a point to emphasize the self-serving part of the equation– tax benefits. Investors who donate can eliminate capital gains tax on the contributed shares and can also deduct the value of the gift on their tax return. To make the process as easy as giving cash, the company does four main things:

  • Tracks how much of your account is eligible to give to charity (i.e., it sorts for stocks that you’ve held for more than one year)
  • Estimates the tax benefits before you complete your gift
  • Moves assets of up to $1 million from your account to a charitable organization’s account without any paperwork
  • Emails a tax receipt after the donation is complete

At launch, investors can give to eleven charities, including UNICEF USA, Wounded Warriors Family Support, Hour Children, Against Malaria Foundation, DonorsChoose.org, GiveWell, Save The Children, Feeding America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, World Wildlife Fund, and Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Betterment is soliciting user requests for new charities to be added.

Founded in 2008, Betterment CEO Jon Stein debuted the company’s Multiple Goals feature at FinovateFall 2011. This summer, the New York-based company received a $70 million investment from Sweden’s Kinnevik, bringing Betterment’s total capital to $275 million and boosting it up to a valuation of $800 million.

EyeLock Partners with ViaTouch to Bring Iris Authentication to Smart Shelf Vending

Iris-based biometric authentication specialist EyeLock has signed an agreement with ViaTouch Media that will integrate EyeLock’s iris recognition technology within ViaTouch’s smart-shelf vending solution, Vicki.

Calling the new partnership a “major breakthrough,” EyeLock CEO Jim Demitrieus said the agreement was the culmination of years of working with leaders from a variety of industries to bring embedded security solutions to market. “This win is indicative of the many potential commercialized applications for iris authentication,” Demitrieus said. “The ViaTouch partnership underscores an innovative approach to protecting consumer identity and transaction security.”

EyeLock’s iris authentication will be deployed as part of the interface for Vicki (ViaTouch Intellishelf Cognitive Kinetic Interactions), a smart shelf vending machine with an AI-enabled shopping assistant. Formerly known as Lisa, Vicki engages consumers by authenticating them, learning their preferences, providing loyalty, rewards, and discounts, and using smart shelf technology to note what products shoppers are viewing as well as  which they are selecting and deselecting. The virtual clerk-powered machine communicates using directional speakers so that only the person standing in front of it can hear the conversation.

The company said EyeLock-enabled machines will be available early in the second quarter of 2018. ViaTouch Media CEO Tom Murn said the solution, which will be operated on First Data online payment networks, will “create the most secure AI iris authentication self-checkout payment solution in the world.”

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in New York City, Eyelock demonstrated its USB-powered Iris Identity Authenticator, myris, at FinovateFall 2014. A majority-owned subsidiary of Voxx International Corporation, the company announced a trio of new patents last month, affirming the company’s innovations in iris and facial imaging, biometric matching, and visual guidance in gaze alignment.

“We continue to achieve significant technical breakthroughs that have served as significant barriers to market-wide adoption of iris authentication technology,” EyeLock CTO Jeff Carter said. “With each successful patent, we are able to expand our IP to deliver the fastest, most cost-effective and easy-to-use solutions that our end users require.”

EyeLock has spent much of 2017 forging major partnerships that will bring its full suite of hardware and software access control solutions to customers throughout North America and around the world. In October, EyeLock teamed up with Australian security solutions vendor, CSD (Central Security Distribution), and in August, the company signed a licensing agreement that will enable the company to build iris authentication solutions for Qualcomm Technology’s Qualcomm Mobile Security platform. A May partnership with STANLEY Security, an integrated security solutions provider and division of Stanley Black & Decker, rounds out a busy year of partnerships for EyeLock.

TransferTo and Fern Software Receive Grant from UN Capital Development Fund

 

 

 

 

 

Cross-border mobile payments network TransferTo and banking software provider Fern Software have both been awarded a grant as a part of the United Nations Capital Development’s Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformation (SHIFT) Challenge Fund.

The goal of the SHIFT Challenge Fund is to leverage remittances to improve the economic power of women in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam. TransferTo and Fern Software have been summoned to deliver seamless money transfer solutions to underbanked individuals in this region. The two will use the funds to combine TransferTo’s global network, which links mobile operators, money transfer operators, digital wallet providers, financial institutions, NGOs, and merchants, with Fern Software’s global microfinance solution software. Ultimately, the companies plan to accelerate TransferTo’s entry into Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam and enable microfinance institutions to become money transfer recipients on TransferTo’s cross-border money transfer network.

TransferTo CEO, Peter De Caluwe said that the company is “fortunate” to bring its payment system into the new regions. “Our goal is to enable access to digital financial services, especially for women who represent over 50% of the population in these markets, yet lack access to traditional banking … we can drive financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment across the region, and globally,” he said.

Fern Software Managing Director APMEA, Debbie Watkins said, “The valued support of UNCDF in connecting the TransferTo Network to ours will enable migrant workers for the first time to send transfers directly to microfinance institution loan or savings accounts, giving them control in how their hard-earned salaries are put to use and increasing accessibility for their family members.”

TransferTo most recently demonstrated its Mobile Money Hub at FinovateFall 2015. Earlier this month, the company was selected by driver service Grab to power real-time earnings payouts for Grab drivers. In June, TransferTo partnered with the MallforAfrica to provide African shoppers with access to retailers in Europe and the U.S. TransferTo was founded in 2005 and has raised $6.5 million.

Founded in 1979, Fern Software demoed BayTree, a scalable “Pay as you Grow” API Banking CRM software service, at FinovateFall 2015. Earlier this year, the company made its platform available in Russian. Eamon Scullin is CEO and founder.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • TransferTo and Fern Software Receive Grant from UN Capital Development Fund
  • EyeLock Partners with ViaTouch to Bring Iris Authentication to Smart Shelf Vending
  • Betterment Celebrates the Season of Giving with New Share Donation Feature

Around the web

  • PPRO, Klarna team up for credit payment methods across Europe.
  • Mastercard plans its own blockchain.
  • GeoAwesomeness profiles San Francisco startup, MapD.

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.

BOKU to Raise $60 Million Ahead of London IPO

Carrier billing company BOKU plans to go public on the London Stock Exchange’s alternative investment market (AIM), an international market for smaller growing companies. Ahead of next week’s public debut, the company announced it expects to raise $60 million on a post-money valuation of $164 million.

Of the $60 million, $39.5 million will be distributed to individual investors. The company will reinvest $20 million to promote growth activities, such as bolstering its efforts in India and increasing partnerships with carriers.

BOKU was founded in 2008 and provides payments technology that allows consumers to charge purchases to their mobile phone bill. The company offers its operator network for acquiring, activating, and monetizing customers through their mobile phones. The BOKU platform is used in large digital marketplaces such as the Google Play store, Apple’s App store, Spotify, and Facebook’s App Center.

BOKU has raised a total of $91 million from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark, Index Ventures, Khosla, NEA and Telefonica. At FinovateEurope 2011 the company showcased its mobile payment service. Earlier this fall, BOKU inked a partnership with ALTBalaji, the largest digital platform for exclusive and original shows from India, to allow its clients to pay their bill through their mobile carrier. A few months prior, the San Francisco-based company added three new geographies to its partnership with Spotify, enabling consumers in France, Australia, and Malaysia to pay their subscription via carrier billing.

Rising in the East: Asian Fintech Startups Shine in Showcase

Designed by Freepik

From lending and P2P payments to the blockchain and AI, fintech companies and entrepreneurs in Asia are innovating in every area of fintech. The unique cultures of the Far East – increasingly mobile-friendly, cash-agnostic, and with fewer legacy financial institution incumbents and more willing government support – create a set of opportunities for businesses and technologies that are unlike those anywhere else in the world.

So who are the companies taking advantage of this new landscape for fintech in Asia? This year at FinovateAsia we highlighted some of the rising fintech startups from the Asia-Pacific region in our Startup Showcase. Through the lens of some of the area’s most engaged incubators and accelerators, we got a glimpse of what the future holds for fintech in Asia. Below are the four incubators and accelerators that participated in our Showcase, along with their respective portfolio companies.

Cyberport

With more than 900 technology companies, Cyberport is a Hong Kong-based digital community. Cyberport’s emphasis on fintech, ecommerce, IoT/wearables, and Big Data/AI is designed to help transform Hong Kong into a Smart City. Initially conceived in 1999, Cyberport is owned and managed by the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company, which is owned by the Hong Kong SAR Government.

Notable startups:

  • Galileo Platforms is an insurtech innovator founded in 2016 and headquartered in Hong Kong. The company leverages blockchain technology to connect all parties of the insurance agreement efficiently and in real-time. The company’s principals are co-founders Annette King, Jenny Sutton, and Mark Wales.
  • With more than $18 million in funding, InstaReM is a cross-border remittance and money transfer startup based in Australia. The company was founded in 2014 by Michael Bermingham (COO) and Prajit Nanu (CEO).
  • Kristal.AI is an asset management platform, based on artificial intelligence, that gives investors access to independent advisors and portfolio managers. Vivek Mohindra, Asheesh Chanda, and Vineeth Narasimhan founded the company in 2016. Kristal.AI has offices in Hong Kong, India, and in Singapore.
  • Starling Trust Sciences provides financial services companies with a predictive behavioral analytics engine that leverages “augmented management intelligence” to help managers mitigate risk. Starling was founded in 2014 by Stephen Scott, Alif Saleh, Jeff Kupfer, and Erich Hoeffer.
  • Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Hong Kong, Valoot Technologies helps consumers save on foreign exchange costs when shopping with credit cards overseas. Ovidio (Ovi) Olea is founder and CEO.

FinTechBase

FinTechBase Taiwan has more than 180 partners, more than 25 training teams, and 55 experts providing startups, financial professionals, and students with the counseling, guidance, and networking they need in order to become successful in fintech. Headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, FinTechBase is a collaborative effort between industry, government, and research initially conceived in 2015.

Notable startups:

  • FundPark offers a P2B trade financing for SMEs. The match-making platform connects funding sources in the form of wealthy families, funds, and licensed lenders with businesses looking for working capital. Headquartered in Hong Kong, the company was founded by Anson Suen (CEO).
  • Quanffett Financial Technology Company is a robo advisor and trading platform for individuals and institutions. The platform uses financial engineering, algorithmic trading, and data science to help investors reach their goals with less risk and volatility. Chao-Yueh Liu is co-founder and general manager.
  • LnB, also known as Lend & Borrow, is the biggest P2P investment and lending platform in Taiwan. Founded in 2015 by Joanna Yang, LnB has acquired 26,000 members, and facilitated more than $120 million in loans within 18 months.
  • Leveraging gamification and competition to help users improve investment results, TOZZI’s platform enables new and inexperienced investors to develop a strategy and find top financial experts. Zac Yang is co-founder of the company.

SuperCharger

Founded by Janos Barberis, SuperCharger seeks to help develop the “next generation of change-makers” through a combination of better business sense and optimizing human capital. SuperCharger focuses on a wide variety of fintech categories and verticals – from payments to lending to insurtech – and has offices in both Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Notable startups:

  • Neat offers an alternative current account for underbanked startups and individuals in developing markets. Founded in 2015 by David Rosa (CEO) and Igor Wos, Neat also provides a free, prepaid Neat MasterCard. The Hong Kong based company is the recipient of the ICT Fintech award 2017.
  • KYC-Chain leverages distributed ledger technology to provide a digital identity platform that allows users to manage their digital identity securely, while enabling businesses and FIs to access customer data reliably and efficiently. Headquartered in Hong Kong, KYC-Chain was founded in 2013 by Edmund Lowell (CEO).

Chinaccelerator

Chinaccelerator has as its mandate helping startups succeed across borders – specifically the Chinese border. This means both helping companies around the world gain access to markets in China as well as enabling Chinese companies to better compete internationally. Chinaccelerator has accelerated 130 companies since inception, and includes early Paypal investor Peter Davison and 55tuan.com co-founder James Tan among its mentors.

Notable startups:

  • bitHolla develops cryptocurrecny financial tools to facilitate online trading, global money transfers and blockchain analysis. The company’s XRay Trade solution is a professional-grade trading station that enables access to some of the biggest cryptocurrency platforms in the world.
  • The CareVoice is the first, review-based social platform in China that helps consumers make more informed healthcare choices. The Shanghai-based company, founded in 2014 by Sebastien Gaudin, Neil Liang, and Jan Velich, includes AXA and Ping An among its customers.
  • With its pledge to help investors “outperform the property market with smart data,” Property Passbook’s data algorithms provide insights into 45 major real estate markets around the world. The company was founded in 2015 by Colin Bogar (CEO) and is headquartered in Shanghai, China.

TrueAccord Lands $22 Million to Humanize Debt Collection

Online debt collection service TrueAccord received $22 million in funding this week. Leading the round was Arbor Ventures. A mix of existing and new investors, including Arbor, Nyca Investment Partnership, Assurant Growth Investing, Caffeinated Capital Fund, Felicis Venture, TenOneTen and Crystal Towers, also participated. The round brings the company’s total funding to almost $34.5 million.

In an announcement, the company noted this comes after a period of “sustained and rapid growth”– between 2016 and 2017 TrueAccord grew its collection accounts by 2.5x. The funds will be used to support TrueAccord’s strategic growth initiatives, including product development, compliance functionality, client acquisition and retention, and hiring. Melissa Guzy, co-founder and managing partner of Arbor Ventures, said that TrueAccord’s “unique approach” is making a “positive impact” on the debt collections industry “by empowering many of the estimated 77 million people in debt, to get on a path to better financial health.”

TrueAccord was founded in 2013 as a debt recovery platform. The company has worked with more than 2 million people in debt by creating flexible payment solutions, helping businesses recover billions of dollars in lost revenue. TrueAccord’s clients include top 10 issuers, leading creditors, and companies such as Yelp! and LendUp. Since 2014, the company has facilitated more than $1.5 billion of debt repayment on its platform.

“It was the personal experience of dealing with a debt collector that made me realize the traditional collections industry was ripe for disruption with technology innovation and a more human approach,” said Ohad Samet, Chief Executive Officer of TrueAccord. “With changing consumer preferences, strong regulatory support for innovation, and clients who understand a customer-focus collection process is good for their business, we’re experiencing tremendous demand from the market. We are seizing this opportunity to use machine learning to humanize debt collection for good.”

Ohad Samet demoed the company’s SaaS solution at FinovateSpring 2015 along with CTO, Nadav Samet. TrueAccord landed a place on CB Insights’ Fintech 250 list this spring and contributor Jim Bruene featured TrueAccord in his piece, The Great Rewiring of Financial Services: Consumer Debt Collection.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • TrueAccord Lands $22 Million to Humanize Debt Collection
  • Rising in the East: Asian Fintech Startups Shine in Showcase
  • BOKU to Raise $60 Million Ahead of London IPO

Around the web

  • UBS Card Center leverages AI technology from FICO to lower fraud write-offs.
  • D3 Banking adds new payment options, flexible card controls to its digital banking platform.
  • Thomson Reuters introduces new set of MiFID II reference data capabilities available on its data and analytics platform, DataScope.
  • Prosper Reports Third Quarter Growth; Closes $1.5 Billion of Securitizations in 2017
  • AngelList picks Quid as a top machine learning company.
  • Lighter Capital partners with Intuit to launch $15M fund for QuickBooks developers.
  • Blackhawk Network Expands Partnership with eBay to Provide B2B Gift Card Solutions

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.

Token Forges Strategic Partnership with Envestnet | Yodlee

Token and Envestnet | Yodlee are combining their respective talents in PSD2-compliant payments and financial data aggregation to give banks in the EU a new, open-banking friendly, payments and data option. The partnership will leverage Token’s open banking operating system, TokenOS, which supports PSD2 compliant payments, including bill pay, e-commerce, B2B payments and money transfers, with Envestnet | Yodlee’s Financial Data Platform and Aggregation API. Via the API, banks will get access to the bank, card, investment, loan, reward and other financial account data required to support a variety of PFM, wealth, and debt management apps and services.

Making the case for the alliance, Token CEO and founder Steve Kirsch said, “When it comes to PSD2, developers are not going to support hundreds of unique bank APIs; they will only write to one common API, maybe two. This means that banks that create their own proprietary APIs risk not being able to deliver the variety of freedom that customers expect in the digital age.” Kirsch characterized the kind of open banking platform that banks should support as “easy, secure, interoperable, low cost and developer friendly.”

Envestnet | Yodlee SVP for EMEA and Australia Jason O’Shaughnessy underscored Kirsh’s observations on the importance of open banking. “Both Token and Envestnet | Yodlee believe that open data access is critical to enabling innovative tools that can help consumers improve their financial lives.”

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, Token demonstrated its fully PSD2 compliant open banking solution at FinovateEurope 2017. The company also participated in our developer’s conference, presenting The Future of Payments Now at FinDEVr San Francisco 2015. Token was named to CB Insights’ Fintech 250 list in June, and began the year teaming up with information technology consulting and outsourcing company, VirtusaPolaris. Token has raised more than $18 million in funding, and includes EQT Ventures, Octopus Ventures, and OP Financial Group among its investors.

Acquired by Envestnet two years ago, Yodlee is a multiple-time Finovate Best of Show winner headquartered in Redwood City, California. The company took home top honors more recently for its demo of Financial Health Check financial wellness technology at FinovateFall 2017. A partnership with Home Credit India to digitize loan processing and an integration with Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter Validation Service are among the company’s top headlines since the conference.

Envestnet’s technology and services are used by 16 of the 20 largest U.S. banks, 39 of the 50 largest wealth management and brokerage firms, and more than 500 of the largest Registered Investment Advisors. With a market capitalization of $2 billion, Envestnet trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “ENV.” The company is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.