Finovate Debuts: unblu Delivers an In-Person Customer Experience Online

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Collaboration suite provider unblu understands the value of in-person interactions in banking and the need to deliver a robust experience via digital channels. More importantly, however, the company has figured out how to balance the two by offering the personal touch of an in-person experience through mobile and online channels.

At FinovateEurope 2017, unblu CMO Jens Rabe began the demo saying, “Your customers are already interacting with your online channels everyday. The question is– are you actually taking advantage of those opportunities… driving sales and customer loyalty?” The company’s mobile collaboration solution offers banks an additional channel for live customer consults, using their existing mobile banking apps as the foundation for the interaction.

Company facts:

  • Privately funded
  • 25+ employees
  • Over 80 banks currently using software
  • Headquartered in Sarnen, Switzerland
  • Founded in 2012

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(above) unblu CMO Jens Rabe and CEO Luc Haldimann at FinovateEurope 2017 in London

We spoke with Luc Haldimann (pictured), unblu CEO after the show and followed up with an interview.

Finovate: What problem does unblu solve?

Haldimann: unblu facilitates an in-person experience, online.
Digital transformation is probably the toughest job in banking today. Banks are not just in the financial business anymore, they’re in the business of enhancing consumer lifestyles and the competition is tough. Fintech newcomers are agile and can respond quickly to changed expectations and deliver cutting-edge digital services to empower customers.

In order to differentiate from competition and retain customer loyalty, banks need to support and advise customers through digital channels, in real time and in person. Effectively this means swapping the place of interaction from a high-street branch to a digital branch. We enable our clients to do precisely this, without having to redesign their digital channels or infrastructures.

Above: unblu’s administrative screen shows queue of client requests

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Haldimann: Over the last few years, we have become specialists for live engagement in the financial sector. Our primary customers are banks who we sell to directly and via leading integrators. These banks are distributed worldwide and include UBS, Intesa SanPaolo, PostFinance, Comdirect, Fineco, Bank Millennium, Societé General and Komerční Banka for example. And of course our partners are invaluable to us. We have fantastic relationships with our many strategic partners, which most notably include over 30% of the technology vendors listed in the leaders’ quadrant of Gartner’s magic quadrant for global retail core banking. Our partners have made and continue to make our offering easily accessible to a myriad of customers around the globe.

Finovate: How does unblu solve the problem better?

Haldimann: Put simply we listen carefully to our customers and adapt our solution to fit their requirements. Our focus on banking and its specific challenges enables us to evolve with the industry and adapt to changing needs. This has led to an intricate understanding of the industry’s security, regulatory and technological environment. unblu is uniquely designed to allow banks to rollout a live engagement solution which respects all these constraints.

Of course there are other vendors offering live engagement solutions. Due to our experience we often find
ourselves one step ahead and able to quickly adapt and present a solution regardless of the anomalies relating
to the finance industry. We understand customer centricity in combination with secure environments as the key value proposition in our market segment.

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.

Haldimann: My favourite projects are the ones where we’ve succeeded in working closely together with clients to leverage the maximum impact of unblu. It’s incredibly exciting and fulfilling to collaborate with banks who understand the capabilities of unblu and how to utilise it to make an impact within the market. 50% of swiss cantonal banks are already working together with us and share our vision and enthusiasm enough to actually change the way they do business and start building their customer journeys in ways which will allow them to digitally address clients.

These types of clients are savvy and demanding and push us to develop the suite even further in order to
accommodate their needs. Working with customers and helping find solutions that make them happy is what
drives the collaborative spirit at unblu.

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Above: unblu offers co-browsing for an interactive user session

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Haldimann: Before founding unblu I worked a lot with banks to develop a screen based advisory tool for use in high street branches. This experience taught me a great deal about the in person, face to face advisory processes within banks. Previously to unblu I also helped SAP and HP creating online configurators and developed a fascination for the limits of self service tools. Combining the two ideas seemed very compelling. The true value of the proposition has become apparent since the crisis within the financial sector. The necessary change in mindset and the digitization movement are driving forces in our success story.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from unblu that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Haldimann: Truly compelling customer service must be intuitive, emotionally rich and also available when needed. We are about to launch our SDK package that will allow unblu to work seamlessly within native mobile phone apps. This  means unblu’s collaboration suite will be extended to mobile devices, which is a huge opportunity for financial institutions to create win-win scenarios with their valued customers.
You can also expect to see us expanding both geographically and into new markets throughout the year. We’ve
recently increased our sales coverage in response to demand from global enterprises seeking a solution as
mature as unblu’s, which they haven’t been able to find within their own market. Additionally, we’re beginning to broaden our solid customer base within the fin serv sector itself and have acquired a number of insurance clients including AOK, SwissLife and AON.

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Above: unblu’s interactive chat session

Finovate: Where do you see unblu a year or two from now?

Haldimann: unblu began as a specialized co-browsing solution. In line with market demands we have built out a complete online engagement suite specifically aimed at the financial sector. We are proud of the level of expertise we have achieved and we will continue to develop and maintain our position as market leader for live engagement in the finance sector. There is already a new market segment in the making to enable banks to build effective virtual branches and unblu will be a huge part of that moving forward.


unblu CMO Jens Rabe and CEO Luc Haldimann at FinovateEurope 2017 in London

Finovate Debuts: Configo Empowers FIs to Build Customized Customer Journeys

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At FinovateEurope earlier this year, Tel Aviv, Israel-based Configo demonstrated its contribution to the cause of greater customer engagement in financial services. The technology, Configo Live Mobile Experience Platform, enables banking marketing professionals and product specialists to design customer experiences that are, in the words of Configo co-founder and CEO Yosi Dahan, “personalized and contextual.”

Dahan warned that nonbanks have done a better job than most banks when it comes to meeting customer expectations of being more innovative and “human-centric.” He said that by leveraging Configo’s ability to bring targeted content to targeted audiences in real time, banks and other traditional financial institutions have the opportunity to regain that lost ground.

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Pictured (left to right): Configo co-founders Natan Abramov (CTO) and Yosi Dahan (CEO) demonstrating Configo Live Mobile Experience at FinovateEurope 2017.

For the live demonstration Configo CTO Natan Abramov showed how the Configo platform scanned the screens of the banking app, and enabled the user to make changes that would appear simultaneously in the app when saved. In addition to being able to make cosmetic changes to text, color, and other features, the platform also supports pushing custom content to user-defined segments such as low-income, families, etc. Virtually any data point, from account balance to age to geolocation to app usage – can be used to define a segment for receiving certain app customizations, targeted messages, or special offers.

Configo also provides for in-app campaigns to send promotional messages to customers. Users can upload their own design or use one of Configo’s templates, then simply add text, images, and a call to action. Schedule the ad to pop-up at any one of a number of cues: a specific time or when a button on an app is pushed, and the campaign is ready to go. Configo’s platform provides for A/B testing, and works with iOS, Android, native, and hybrid systems.

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Once the app’s screens are scanned into the Configo platform, individual content items can be tagged for management later.

“By providing contextual offers and content in real time, you are actively optimizing your customer interaction, driving better engagement and increasing mobile sales,” Dahan said. Emphasizing the ease of adopting the technology (“up and running with virtually no integration and without messing around with code in just a couple of days”), he said his company’s platform ensures that FIs gain “total control of your customer’s journey in your mobile application.”

Company Facts

  • Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Founded in 2015
  • Running more than 10 pilots with banks and credit card companies in Europe

We met with Dahan (pictured) and Abramov, co-founders of Configo, at FinovateEurope in London and followed up with a Configo_Yosi_Dahanfew questions for Dahan by e-mail. Here are his responses.

Finovate: What problem does your technology solve?

Yosi Dahan: Product and marketing managers require rapid iterations, prototyping, and optimizations of their mobile banking product to increase conversion and engagement. Working agile has its benefits, but the release and update cycles are still measured in weeks as most of the tasks go through the R&D teams.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Dahan: Financial institutions.

Finovate: How does your solution solve the problem better?

Dahan: Product and marketing leaders get access to a variety of tools in our platform to simply create new customer experiences, optimizing the customer’s journey and interaction. Configo integrates with any existing mobile app using an SDK and provides a dashboard for management. Segmenting users, running A/B test experiments, launching campaigns, and personalizing the app’s user interface, can be achieved without a single line of code. Configo has managed to cut the time-to-market of app changes and business tasks by over 15%.

in-app campaign stats

The Configo platform supports in-app campaigns and provides total control over how the ads look and appear to the user.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Dahan: The team behind Configo has more than nine years of experience of developing mobile apps. Prior to starting Configo, we conducted research involving more than 50 financial institutions around the world in order to understand how their app release cycles look like and how we can reduce the time-to-market to meet customer expectations. Configo has managed to cut the time-to-market of app changes and business tasks by over 15%.

segmentation

Customers can be segmented based on any datapoint – age, account balance, app usage – on the Configo platform.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from Configo that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Dahan: We’ll be introducing new tools for both marketing and product managers to help them better understand their customers’ journey as well as increase engagement, decrease churn rate, and provide exceptional user experience. We are also working on creating a solution for the online (web) channel.

Finovate: Where do you see Configo a year or two from now?

Dahan: Our goal is to help financial institutions around the world shape their mobile channel. We are planning on delivering a custom experience to 50 million mobile banking users by 2019.


Configo’s Yosi Dahan (CEO & Co-Founder) and Natan Abramov (CTO & Co-Founder) demonstrating Configo Live Mobile Experience at FinovateEurope 2017.

Finovate Debuts: collectAI Brings Omnichannel Engagement to Debt Collection

 

collectAI_homepage_April2017You won’t hear us refer to collectAI’s innovative approach to outstanding payments as “Debt Tech.” But the Hamburg, Germany-based fintech startup does have a different idea of what matters most when it comes to accounts receivables management, the art of dunning, and debt collection.

During the company’s Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in February, CEO Mirko Krauel pointed out that while other A/R specialists focused solely on boosting collection rates (“which, of course, are very important,” he noted), default rates are only part of the picture. “It’s also about securing a potentially good customer relationship. It’s also about having low cost,” Krauel said, adding “We at collectAI want a perfect balance between those three goals.”

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Pictured: collectAI CEO Mirko Krauel demonstrating collectAI Claims Management at FinovateEurope 2017.

The fact that Krauel refers to the debtor as “the consumer” is a tip-off to the way the company believes is the best way to resolve outstanding payments more efficiently. The collectAI platform leverages artificial intelligence, for example, not only to determine the best communication channel to use to reach the debtor, but also to figure out the best time and the best tone to take. This is part of the platform’s “baseline strategy” creation which is followed by content engineering to add what collectAI managing director Michael Backes explained as “the behavioral economics, the psychology to help the debtor resolve the issue more quickly.”

After demonstrating a number of examples of personalized messages from collectAI including text and email, Krauel highlighted a handful of ways he believed collectAI would “reinvent the topic of debt collection and A/R management.”

First of all, we are not doing just debt collection. We do it very early in the process, we do the invoicing and also the dunning part. Number two, we are supporting a large variety of channels, digital and analog. Number three, we have the landing pages and payment pages to increase the payment conversion rate. Number four, we are a fintech startup. Of course, we have an API. And last, but not least, we have the AI and the AI is very important to really optimize every aspect of our product.

Following the company’s Finovate debut, collectAI was featured in Euro Finance Tech and in Digitale Leute, and discussed the “magic of AI” in the context of accounts receivable at the Retail Banking Forum in Vienna. This week, the company bested 47 rivals to win first place at the EXEC Conference pitch contest in Berlin, Germany.

Company facts

  • Founded in 2016
  • Headquartered in Hamburg, Germany
  • Maintains 30 employees

CollectAI_SteveEmeczWe met with collectAI Chief Commercial Officer Steve Emecz at FinovateEurope and followed up with a few questions by e-mail. Here are his responses.

Finovate: What problem does your technology solve?

Steve Emecz: collectAI helps customers digitize and optimize their receivables. We digitize with new ways to communicate like email, SMS, and messaging apps. We optimize using integrated digital payments – all supported by an artificial intelligence platform that automates and enhances the processes to make the receivables process much more efficient. collectAI provides everything from traditional mass invoicing to personalized and optimized service – i.e. getting your money faster, at lower operations cost and reducing service issues.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Emecz: Any organization that sends bills to their clients (consumers or business) can benefit from enhancing the receivables process. Our main clients are those with lots of bills like utilities, banks, lending companies, e-commerce retail and digital clients, and insurance companies. It’s a white label service so the person receiving the bill simply sees the process improving from their supplier.

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Pictured: collectAI’s Virtual Agent algorithms determine the channel, time of day, and other factors to enable greater personalization when building effective messages to debtors.

Finovate: How does your solution solve the problem better?

Emecz: Our platform helps select the best way to communicate to the client by channel (e.g. email, SMS, etc), time and content of message. We then enrich this with fast and efficient digital payment methods to settle the bills quickly and, if there is an issue, we provide a structured dispute resolution process to optimize client feedback. Finally, this is all supported by an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that learns from the behavior of the client and optimizes everything on its own.

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your technology.

Emecz: We have a large payments client who has multiple retail brands within their portfolio where their invoices and reminders were all sent by post. For them, we have made three big impacts. First, adding in email and SMS reminders replacing some of the letters has reduced costs in their dunning process. Second, some of the amounts have been paid earlier. Third, we introduced a structured feedback process. Until now, all disputes came in via email or their call centre (and sometimes social media) at random in response to letters. We helped them free up valuable time and effort.

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Pictured (left to right): collectAI’s Michael Backes (MD) and Mirko Krauel (CEO) demonstrating the Health Card feature of the outstanding payments portfolio.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Emecz: We have a rather unique setup. Our lead investor the Otto Group (turnover €12 billion) has over 100 businesses in the group with a long history of receivables, combined with an agile fintech company builder (Liquid Labs) with experience in artificial intelligence (AI). This means in our first year, alongside building a market-leading AI platform specifically for receivables, we have gained first-hand experience of the processes we are enhancing, with both internal and external customers.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from collectAI that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Emecz: Although we will continue to add things you can see, like more payment methods or communication channels, the real magic will be in the things you don’t notice: AI, self-learning landing pages, more backend services, and simpler integration.

Finovate: Where do you see your company a year or two from now?

Emecz: We plan to be the leading provider of receivables digitization and optimization services in Europe, expanding through partners into several new territories.


collectAI CEO Mirko Krauel and Managing Director Michael Backes demonstrating collectAI Claims Management platform at FinovateEurope 2017.

Finovate Debuts: Icon Solutions’ Instant Payments Helps Keep Banks PSD2 Compliant

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IT payment consultancy Icon Solutions is tackling the difficult task of helping banks offer instant payments. With PSD2 regulations looming in the U.K. and the industry’s shift to a more open banking structure, simply saying the phrase instant payments may be enough to make a banker break out in hives.

That’s where Icon Solutions comes in. At FinovateEurope 2017 the company unveiled its Instant Payments Framework (IPF). “We believe that unless banks and PSPs are using the same kind of technology as the market disruptors and internet scale providers out there, how are they able to compete?” Icon’s business development director Richard Dear asked during the demo. He added, “What we’ve done is codify Icon’s many years of experience with instant payments, within a new software product, the Instant Payments Framework, or IPF.”

Company Facts

  • Founded in 2009
  • Headquartered in Wimbledon, United Kingdom
  • Processes 20 million payments an hour via IPF

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Tom Hay (Head of Payments) and Richard Dear (Business Development Director) debut Icon Solutions’ Instant Payments Framework

Richard DearWe interviewed Icon Solutions’ Business Development Director, Richard Dear (pictured), in the weeks following FinovateEurope earlier this year.

Finovate: What problem does Icon Solutions solve?

Dear: Icon believes that real-time or instant payments will underpin the API economy and drive innovation. Yet, current market solutions cannot easily transition to instant payments, are heavy-weight, inflexible and don’t address the significant organizational, technical and business risks.

Icon’s Instant Payments Framework (IPF) is a light-weight software product that enables organizations to process instant payments. IPF comes with a reference implementation for each scheme, for example Faster Payments, SCT inst and TCH. We then enable our clients to graphically fine-tune these predefined message flows to quickly meet their needs. IPF has a small footprint and uses open source technology to ensure speed of deployment, high performance, low latency, and 24×7 availability whilst reducing the cost of ownership.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Dear: Our primary customers are members of instant payments schemes, ranging from tier 1 banks to fintechs.

Finovate: How does Icon Solutions solve the problem better?

Dear: We’ll highlight three key areas:

  1. IPF complements the existing IT infrastructure. IPF is specifically focussed on instant payments and enables banks to rapidly get to market without a “rip and replace” of their existing systems
  2. IPF comes with a reference implementation for each scheme. Effectively we have codified our many years of expertise in instant payments within the product to smooth implementation. We then empower clients to graphically fine-tune predefined message flows to quickly meet the needs of the bank, putting the power to make changes back in the hands of the bank rather than the vendor.
  3. IPF has a small footprint and uses open source technology to ensure speed of deployment, high performance, low latency and 24×7 availability whilst reducing the cost of ownership. It uses similar technology to the GAFA’s and internet-scale providers, allowing banks to compete in the new world.

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.

Dear: One of the key challenges facing banks when connecting to an instant payments network is how to detect payment fraud during transaction processing. With the increased volume in transaction processing accompanying a move to instant payments, fraud control and automation of manual tasks are key factors in the success of instant payments systems.

Icon has therefore been partnering with Featurespace, the world’s leading supplier of adaptive behavioral analytics technology. Their advanced machine learning platform detects anomalies in individual behaviour to spot new fraudulent activity in real time. Featurespace’s platform will allow Icon’s Instant Payment Framework (IPF) customers to monitor their data in real time and can reduce genuine transactions declined by over 70% and manual processing by over 50%. Featurespace’s ARIC platform complements IPF’s software as both are specifically designed for real-time processing.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Dear: Firstly, IPF is brought to you by a team of accomplished professionals with hands-on delivery experience of local and international instant payments solutions. Icon has one of the best resource pools of instant payments knowledge globally.

Secondly, with recent advances in technology and the increasing competition from fintechs, Icon’s clients have become increasingly frustrated with traditional vendor solutions based on technologies that are now ten to twenty years old. As a result Icon performed a comprehensive review of leading edge open-source products and methodologies and their suitability to the types of projects we could see happening over the next few years.

The result has meant we are able to work with our clients to help them take advantage of these changes in several practical ways, for example moving to a DevOps approach, as well as building IPF.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from Icon Solutions that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Dear: Our focus over the next few months is on expanding the client base in Europe and the U.S., across a number of use cases, including instant payments and PSD2.

Finovate: Where do you see Icon Solutions a year or two from now?

Dear: In a year or two we would expect to see Icon acknowledged as the only organisation providing banks with similar technology to the GAFA’s and internet-scale providers, allowing them to compete in the new world of instant payments and API banking. We also look forward to being back at Finovate and showing how we have delivered other use cases based on the same transactional framework as IPF!


Tom Hay (Head of Payments) and Richard Dear (Business Development Director) debut Icon Solutions’ Instant Payments Framework:

Finovate Debuts: Worldcore Turns Your Face into a Key

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Financial services provider Worldcore offers a wide variety of payment solutions, including bank payments, prepaid debit cards, mass payments, payouts to credit and/or debit cards, and international payment processing for individuals and businesses. Additionally, Worldcore offers account top-up using bitcoin, a method that amounts to 15% of the company’s inflow.

Worldcore launched its voice biometrics solution in 2016. The company expanded its biometrics approach at FinovateEurope 2017 where marketing and PR director, Sean Patterson began his demo by showing Worldcore’s voice authentication. “Customers love this– they’re using VoiceKey all over the place. But we got to thinking that there are situations where it’s not so useful to have VoiceKey. For example, if we need a second method of authentication, or if we are in a noisy or echoing room,” Patterson said. He continued by launching FaceKey, the company’s facial recognition authentication solution.

Company facts:

  • Headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic
  • Founded in 2014
  • 50 employees
  • Owned and operated by EUPSProvider s.r.o., a licensed payment service provider regulated by Czech National Bank
32127170653_4495dfb7fa_kAbove: Sean Patterson, Worldcore’s Marketing & PR Director, debuting  authentication technology at FinovateEurope 2017 in London

Alex Nasonov - Worldcore - HeadshotWe followed up with Worldcore’s CEO, Alex Nasonov (pictured), for an interview after FinovateEurope.

Finovate: What problem does Worldcore solve?

Nasonov: Worldcore is the only player on the market that offers same-day and fully electronic client onboarding. This is very important for people in the digital age who place a high value on their time. I can tell you from personal experience that most companies with similar services work much slower. Because of this, I decided to establish a turnkey payment solution that’s suitable for almost everyone and allows users to onboard in a matter of minutes versus weeks.

Think of it as a hybrid between Uber and Amazon in the payment services industry– we combine speed with a high number of services. Worldcore carefully controls the number of employees in customer service and compliance departments and continues to hold one of the leading positions in client onboarding speed and average support team response time.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Nasonov: Our target audience is very wide and includes many industries related to online and offline business activities including marketplaces, digital shops, small businesses, digital marketing companies, freelancers, transport and gaming companies, and many others. Corporate clients may enjoy our cost-effective payroll solution which can be easily launched with our prepaid debit cards and saves a lot of money for companies on cross-border transfers. Our goal is to cover the maximum number of payment products and the maximum number of industries to expand globally.

Finovate: How does Worldcore solve the problem better?

Nasonov: Worldcore provides access to unique and market-leading payment solutions, including money transfers to almost any Visa, MasterCard and UnionPay payment cards across the globe. We also offer virtual and plastic debit cards with one of the highest transaction and withdrawal limits in the prepaid market. In addition, we facilitate international bank transfers. All of these capabilities make us a smarter and more functional alternative to traditional banking services.

Moreover, the Worldcore API offers quick and simple integration to let corporate clients automate their payouts and easily start accepting payments online with a variety of options available through Worldcore. Payouts to Visa, MasterCard and UnionPay cards offered by Worldcore are much cheaper than bank transfers and do not require the sender to order a Worldcore debit card to pay the recipient’s salary or make a personal payment to a friend or family member.

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.

Nasonov: Well, the most interesting implementation for me are two solutions that we implemented – voice authentication and facial recognition access. These two options were the most difficult of all the solutions our team has developed over the last two years because they required much more effort, attention and testing to assure a truly secure biometric access option for our clients. Current statistics indicate that most people still prefer using traditional passwords over innovative security solutions, but I expect that the next five to seven years will demonstrate further user adoption.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Nasonov: I spent a long time as a founder and co-founder of various digital and non-digital assets and almost always experienced difficulties with financial institutions related to key areas– speed, quality, pricing and security. My 10 years of business experience led me to start building a perfect payments institution where the clients are completely satisfied with every point of interaction.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from Worldcore that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Nasonov: Worldcore has many new products in the development stage at this moment, starting with new mobile apps for iOS and Android. The apps will mirror functionality of the web version of the Worldcore platform. We expect to finalize our PCI DSS audit before the end of March 2017, thus enabling us to enter the payment card acquiring market with our competitive solution for the e-commerce industry. This will include more than 20 modules that allow for instant integration of Worldcore into the most popular e-shop platforms and offer extremely low pricing for new clients.

In the summer of 2017, we will also present a groundbreaking invoice management tool for corporate clients that will completely automate our clients’ invoice management process. Lastly, we are hard at work on a QR code-based payment solution. All these products will be available by the end of 2017, and most will launch within the next few months.

Finovate: Where do you see Worldcore a year or two from now?

Nasonov: Worldcore’s growth rate indicates that we selected the right strategy for building one of the leading companies in the European payment services industry and our initial business model of “one-stop-shop for payments” works perfectly. While extending Worldcore’s product portfolio month-by-month, we will expand physically beginning in the first half of 2018 by opening branches in other European countries. This will allow us to improve our marketing strategy by focusing on the local audience of each country to better suit the needs of the local market and provide native-speaking customer service. Our management strategy and growth rate will lead Worldcore to a yearly transaction volume exceeding one billion euros in 2019.


Sean Patterson, Worldcore’s Marketing & PR Director, debuting the company’s authentication technology at FinovateEurope 2017 in London:

 

Finovate Debuts: W.UP Offers a Library of Customer Insight Tools for Cross-Selling

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W.UP (pronounced whup) provides digital banking software to offer a “happy banking experience” to customers who expect fast and simple online and mobile banking. At FinovateEurope in London last month, the company launched Sales.UP In the demo, W.UP’s Tamás Braun, Head of International Sales and Business Development, explained how, with Sales.UP, banks, “don’t need to deal with the challenge of defining complex behavioral insights in [their] data.”

Sales.UP is a library of customizable, pre-packaged customer insights, along with a built-in marketing automation tool, which empowers marketers to build their own marketing campaign. The insights are derived from customer data and designed to help banks cross-sell and up-sell products using relevant, tailored messaging. Braun continued, “some insights will forecast life events such as expecting a baby or moving house. Other insights are about digital behavior, like connecting your online customers with call center agents when assistance is required.”

Company facts:

  • Headquartered in Budapest, Hungary
  • 100+ employees
  • 4 offices across Europe
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W.UP’s Tamás Braun (Head of International Sales & Bus. Dev.) and Balázs Zotter (Head of Product Line)

Tamás_BraunAfter FinovateEurope, we interviewed Tamás Braun (pictured), Head of International Sales and Business Development at W.UP.

Finovate: What problem does W.UP solve?

Braun: Banking customers today are used to always-on, real-time sales and services, which are personal, predictive, and contextual. This trend is mainly driven by other industries and companies such as Google/Amazon. Banks are lagging behind in the area of predicting customers’ financial needs and making actionable recommendations that are integrated seamlessly into an end-to-end everyday experience. W.UP’s new SALES.UP product, which has been launched at FinovateEurope 2017, is a digital sales and engagement tool which uses pre-defined customer insights to enable banks to understand behavioural patterns of customers and to use these insights to predict opportunities for relevant and timely interactions.

Insight StoreSales.UP’s Customer Insights Library

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Braun: Banks and other financial institutions who would like to improve their digital sales capability without expensive and lengthy big data projects.

Finovate: How does W.UP solve the problem better?

Braun: Many financial institutions use a marketing automation system that lacks focus on customer insights, making it difficult or impossible to provide real-time, personal and relevant messages to their clients. W.UP’s solution comes with its own Data Universe with all the necessary, real-time data gathered from internal and external (3rd party) sources. The SALES.UP Insight Store provides pre-defined customer insight templates that enable banks without a deep understanding of data modeling and predictive data analytics to use actionable insights within their marketing campaigns. The solution is designed specifically for financial institutions, using behavioral analytics and providing out-of-the-box, configurable insights for marketing campaigns.

Above: Customer insight tool for frequent travelers

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.

Braun: SALES.UP has recently been launched and there is currently one early adopter bank in Hungary who will be announced publicly following the first phase of the implementation.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Braun: W.UP was established in 2014 by private individuals who worked in digital banking for the past 15 years. We have worked with many financial institutions throughout our careers and believe that still too many of them fail to understand customer behavior and provide relevant, timely, predictive and context-aware service to their customers. We help bridge the gap between what banks can do and what customers wish they could.

TreeviewAbove: Marketers can build their own campaigns with W.UP’s automation tool

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from W.UP that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Braun: There are several other financial institutions currently evaluating SALES.UP so we are expecting a number of implementation projects in the following months. We are also keeping our MOBILE.UP product in the loop, a pre-built mobile banking product, which is also a development framework, shrinking the implementation process down to only three months. With the upcoming PSD2 directive there is a lot of interest from clients to help them move towards open banking.

Finovate: Where do you see W.UP a year or two from now?

Braun: We aim to become a leader in digital sales and mobile banking software development in the financial industry to brighten up the world of traditional banking with happy digital banking experiences.


Check out the video of W.UP’s Tamás Braun (Head of International Sales & Bus. Dev.) and Balázs Zotter (Head of Product Line) at FinovateEurope 2017:

Finovate Debuts: Signicat Delivers On Demand Digital ID Verification

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Signicat provides a cloud- and web-based identity verification service to more than 200 institutions mostly in the Nordics. The company’s platform leverages live video and identity document verification, as well as authentication by bank account and the GOV.UK Verify system, to enable digital signing, speed customer on-boarding, and remove friction from the online experience for financial services consumers.

“At Signicat our business is providing digital identity on demand in the cloud,” company Business Development Director Robert Kotlarz explained from the Finovate stage in February. “The concept is that you can call a web service to validate the identity of the individual,” he said. “(And) by identifying your digital customer, you can actually provide them with the products and services they want very immediately.” In addition to improving the experience for the consumer, the company’s solutions also help FIs and fintechs grow while remaining compliant with privacy and data protection regulations.

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Pictured (left to right): Business Development Director Robert Kotlarz and Product Expert Kåre Indrøy demonstrating Signicat Assure and Signicat Sign at FinovateEurope 2013.

Signicat’s innovations are driven in part by what the company called “the battle to on-board.” A survey of 2,000 financial service professionals commissioned by Signicat revealed online application abandonment rates of 40%, with “length of process” and “too much personal information required” among major hurdles. As such, clients have used Signicat’s solutions, which also include Signicat Preserve for document archiving and Signicat Connect to enable safe and secure access to business applications, for everything from accelerating the credit card application process (EnterCard/Barclays) to helping launch new banks (Bank Norwegian).  “We work with over 200 financial institutions,” Kotlarz said, “calling into our cloud 100 million transactions every year.”

During their FinovateEurope demonstration, Kotlarz and Product Expert Kåre Indrøy presented two of the company’s products: Signicat Assure and Signicat Sign. Signicat Assure is a verification technology that uses a combination of government-issued identification such as ID cards or passports, digitally-verified documents such as utility bills, social media, and other resources to establish identity. Signicat Sign is the company’s digital signature technology which helps ensure the integrity, origin, and non-repudiation of digital documents. Kotlarz and Indrøy walked the audience through a new customer loan application scenario using bank account verification, a minimum of personal information, and esignature technology, noting that the customer would also be able to access their account via a mobile app secured with a biometric footprint. “A frictionless process for on-boarding new customers,” Kotlarz said, “by using identity at the heart to know who your new customer is.”

Company Facts

  • Headquartered in Trondheim, Norway
  • Founded in January 2007
  • Maintains 62 employees in eight different offices in seven countries
  • Anticipates 2016 revenues of 10 million euros
  • Serves 252 customers on its cloud solution (IDaaS)
  • Won the Norwegian Fintech Achievement Award in 2017
  • Gunnar Nordseth is CEO

Signicat_RobertKotlarzWe met with Robert Kotlarz (pictured) and Kåre Indrøy during FinovateEurope and followed up with a few questions by email. Below are our questions and their responses.

Finovate: What problem does your technology solve?

Robert Kotlarz: Signicat is the first and largest Identity Assurance Provider in the world providing regulated markets with the technology to create mutual trust between organizations and their publics. Our products are divided in 4 parts:

  • Signicat Assure: To help ensure that the user is who he or she claims to be during an onboarding process. The user typically claims the identity, and then provides evidence for the claim.
  • Signicat Connect: To verify existing user’s identity during an authentication process. Used when user wants to access services, and has to prove identity.
  • Signicat Sign: To digitally sign contracts or other legal documents, or seal similar documents.
  • Signicat Preserve: To ensure long term validity of signed documents.

02.List of methods

Pictured: Signicat provides multiple, configurable identity verification options including live video and identity paper verification.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Kotlarz: Our primary customers are in the banking, financial, and insurance areas.

Finovate: How does your technology solve the problem better?

Kotlarz: With Signicat, service providers can build and leverage existing customer credentials to connect users, devices, and even “things” across channels, services, and markets, transforming identity into an asset rather than an obstacle. By ditching manual, paper-based processes and replacing them with digital identity assurance, customer onboarding is accelerated and access to services is made simple and secure. Service providers can rapidly grow market share, easily acquire new customers, and ensure compliance with financial, privacy, and data protection regulations, including AML and KYC.

Signicat delivers an online electronic signing service that is fast and easy to use. It allows users to sign multiple documents, upload own documents, and write personal information which gets integrated in the signed documents. For organizations, this means saving time and money by automating previously manual processes and increasing self-service capabilities. Signicat has the technology to connect the market, the expertise to scale the systems, and the experience to build the trust.

03.Bank

Pictured: Bank account verification is one of a number of verification options for customers.

Finovate: Tell us about a favorite implementation of your technology.

Kotlarz: In 2009, Bank Norwegian set a new standard when they introduced the concept “Switch banks in 90 seconds.” Using eID, customers could easily switch banks without the time-consuming processes involving meetings, phone calls, and application forms. As the first bank in Norway, and among the first in the Nordic region, Bank Norwegian set the standard for self-service banking.

Customers of the bank were introduced to a concept that was simple, straightforward, and practical. Bank Norwegian has also benefited from the solution, because they don’t have to spend unnecessary time and resources on phone calls and form processing. This is a good solution for the bank’s customers, who have previously had to deal with complicated processes to switch banks. Now, the customers simply fill out an application form online and submit it by identifying themselves and signing using BankID.

By using eID as a key function in Signicat’s product base, the bank has been able to streamline the structure and organization of the company, both in terms of cost-effectiveness and workability.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Kotlarz: Signicat already has a history of 10 years connecting banks and financial institutions into services required to securely onboard, identify clients, and sign and preserve documents. The solution is already available all over Scandinavia, where Signicat is a market leader in the area.

04.Sign

Picture: Signicat’s technology enables a variety of ways to provide esignatures.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from Signicat that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Kotlarz: Preparing the solution for the British market, connecting several ID verification methods into the solution. For example, address lookup, ID paper verification, bank account verification, and video assurance.

Finovate: Where do you see your company a year or two from now?

Kotlarz: Since its beginning in 2007, Signicat has established itself as a market leader in the Nordic region. The company has been a pioneer in establishing cloud-based Identity-as-a-Service as a real alternative to on-premise installations. The most demanding customers in the bank and finance sector have now accepted that cloud-based Identity-as-a-Service and Identity-Assurance-as-a-Service is just as secure and with a much lower cost of use than on-premise installations.

Since 2015, Signicat has been extending the coverage of its services to European markets outside of the Nordic region. There is a window of opportunity that is opened by the combined forces of banks looking for more cost-effective and user-friendly means of onboarding and authenticating users, and the new European legislation in the areas of payment (PSD2), privacy (GDPR) and electronic trust (eIDAS).

Signicat aims to use this opportunity and its head-start from the Nordic market to become the preferred provider of identity services to regulated industries in Europe.


Robert Kotlarz (Business Development Director) and Kåre Indrøy (Product Expert) demonstrating Signicat Assure and Signicat Sign at FinovateEurope 2017.

Finovate Debuts: ICAR Builds a Digital Identify Profile for Client ID Verification

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Based in Barcelona, Spain, ICAR launched in 2002 as a spin-off of the Computer Vision Center at the University of Barcelona. Since then, the company has matured; it now offers five solutions across mobile, web, and desktop to help large financial institutions combat onboarding fraud.

At FinovateEurope last month, the company showed off its mobile onboarding solution, ID_Mobile, that leverages biometric technology combined with the social network and geolocation of the user. These additional factors verify that the user matches their identity document and builds their digital identity profile in the background.

At FinovateEurope last month, The company’s CEO Xavier Codó began his demo saying, “We provide a fully automatic solution which validates identity, but also helps you build your customer digital identity profile.” Codó continued, “We focus on three main market needs: user experience, fraud prevention and how to connect digital identity to physical identity.”

Company facts

  • 30 employees
  • Over 20 million online ID validations every year
  • Turnover increase of 20% every year
  • Blog with 5,000 readers per month

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Above: Xavier Codó (CEO) and Mariona Campmany (CMO) debut ICAR’s ID_Mobile at FinovateEurope 2017 in London

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 9.53.11 AMWe chatted with ICAR’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mariona Campmany (pictured), at FinovateEurope last month about the history of the company and its path to launching ID_Mobile. We followed up with the below interview questions via email.

Finovate: What problem does ICAR solve?

Campmany: ICAR offers online and e-business solutions for the correct customer identification in order to prevent identity fraud and reduce operating costs, while providing a good user experience. We aim to bring the new generation of identity verification systems to the market, introducing a cloud system to automatically verify the authenticity of identity documents and customer identity in less than 20 seconds.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Campmany: ICAR has been positioning in the market as the leading company in identity validation. Our entrance into the financial and telecommunication sectors allowed us to land top clients such as BBVA, GSMA, CaixaBank, and Telefonica.

Finovate: How does ICAR solve the problem better?

Campmany: Our solution takes a vital technological lead in prevention of identity fraud, ending the bottleneck of limited numbers of desktop scanning devices, avoiding negative customer experiences waiting for ID validation and opening new models of on-the-spot customer capture. We found that other processes depend on a manual double-check, and one “click away” is not possible. Our solution is based on our own fully-automatic technology which validates customer identity and incorporates the necessary features to be the best, easiest-to-use, online ID-verification tool.

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Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.

Campmany: We offer a solution for customer onboarding validation that also helps build the digital identity profile of the user. We make sure that it is a real user at the time of onboarding by validating the identity document, doing a biometric comparison of the photo in ID against the customer’s selfie, doing a liveness test (biometric), analyzing the geolocalization and mobile security, and checking dynamic information like the customer’s email, phone number, and social networks.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Campmany: Services for validating customer identity have been available for several years; we have carried out several projects. Among them include working with IKEA to introduce a mobile solution for agents at the kitchen section so the customers can finance the purchase at the time they choose the product, saving time waiting at the financing stand, and integrating with Nationale Nederlanden to read and authenticate the ID document from a tablet or mobile into an application that undertakes the whole process of selling insurance.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from ICAR that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Campmany: We will keep focus in three main market needs:

  • User experience, because we never get a second chance to make a good first impression, and if it is not easy to use, they’ll go somewhere else.
  • Fraud prevention, critical for the bank.
  • And the third one was a question we asked ourselves: “How do we connect the digital identity to the physical identity?”

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Finovate: Where do you see ICAR a year or two from now?

Campmany: It’s not a secret that we live in a digital world. And with this reality comes the increasingly complex task of matching a person’s digital identity to their physical world. Moreover, nowadays, every agreement, every process, every new product or service acquisition has a digital record that must be identified and validated.

Offering an omnichannel identity verification platform is critical for the users and the entities. We want to improve the customer user experience and at the same time work with entities in order to offer a secure process, and increase customer acquisition. Digital identities are a fundamental requirement of our new world. But it is not a simple process; we need innovation to make it happen. We are part of this innovation.


Xavier Codó (CEO) and Mariona Campmany (CMO) debuting ICAR’s IDMobile at FinovateEurope 2017 in London:

 

Finovate Debuts: Gradatim’s MFInsure Offers Turn-Key Insurance

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Gradatim’s MFInsure is an out-of-the-box insurance solution that makes it easy to set up, deploy, and manage insurance products. To further enhance the offering, the company leverages AI to predict life events, identify up-sell opportunities, and provide tailored recommendations for clients.

In his FinovateAsia 2016 demo, the company’s CEO and founder, Prakash Viswanathan showed how the system quickly launches an omni-channel insurance product without the need for IT support. Viswanathan concluded the demo by offering social proof when he said, “We have earned the right to be here because in the last 18 months, this system has on-boarded a whopping 50+ million policies across commercial lines of business, retail lines of business, and small ticket insurance products.”

Company facts

  • $ 2.5 million in funding
  • 40 employees
  • Monthly revenue: $100,000 and monthly revenue growth: 3%

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Prakash Viswanathan (CEO & Founder) and Siva Kumar (Head of Technology) demo Gradatim MFInsure OnDemand Insurance System at FinovateAsia 2016 in Hong Kong

We chatted with Prakash Viswanathan, Gradatim CEO and founder, to get a closer look at the insurtech solution, Gradatim MFInsure OnDemand Insurance, he launched at FinovateAsia last year.

Picture 001Finovate: What problem does Gradatim solve?

Viswanathan: Insurance company CXO’s are facing the challenge of delivering new age digital products to consumers. CXO’s also face the challenge of product innovation required to meet the aspirational needs of business consumers and growing middle income consumers.

Gradatim helps insurance company CXO’s focus on optimization of customer service, helps business teams with product and service innovation and improve internal processing efficiencies – specially in this digital age and with emerging products aligned to the growing middle income consumers.

Small to mid-size insurance carriers have many of the same business goals as their larger industry peers—market growth, accelerated speed to market for new products and the ability to tailor services to their consumer’s needs—but not the same budget allocations or access to resources. That means when it comes to choosing and implementing a policy administration system, cost is a big driver. Achieving the balance between affordability and breadth of functionality is often not possible for small to mid-size insurance carriers.

Gradatim implements cloud based, flexible standard systems for the core processes of life and non-life insurance. Gradatim’s on-demand insurance system, Gradatim MFInsure, is a new age policy administration system that helps insurance companies solve these problems.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Viswanathan:: Gradatim primarily works with insurance companies, brokerage firms, insurance intermediaries and fintech companies.

Finovate: How does Gradatim solve the problem better?

Viswanathan: Gradatim MFInsure is an integrated, end-to-end system that supports all primary processes: from quotation to policy issuance; claims to settlement. It is a complete policy administration system.

Gradatim MFInsure is highly configurable and thus provides the benefit of configuration over coding. Products, processes and channels can be setup by configuration without having to code.

Gradatim MFInsure helps build a engagement model with consumers in the digital age. Not just digital products, but also traditional products across life, P&C, and health. The open, unified digital framework makes it possible to deliver products and services, and create a multi-dimensional customer experience across all devices and channels. They enable the insurance companies to develop and deliver services for use by both insurance staff and customers, via any device or channel.

Gradatim MFInsure helps reduce time-to-market up to 300%. The solution also helps achieve cost savings in underwriting and administer policies by up to 50%. This makes it feasible to launch new products across new markets and achieve faster break-even.

Gradatim MFInsure benefits from the use of cloud services. Cloud-based deployment reduces administrative costs associated with managing a dedicated data center. It is also available on transaction pricing model – an innovative approach to reduce capital investment.

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Above: Gradatim’s on-demand administration system portal

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.

Viswanathan: If I may, I would like to provide two implementation examples:

1- Customer: Asia’s Second Largest General Insurer:

  • Opportunity: Providing a shopping cart to identified and categorized groups – Providing Multiple Insurance Products to the identified group.
  • How it started: Public Accountants in India are members of The Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI). There are 0.5 Million Public Accountants who are members of the Institute. The Insurer wanted to leverage the relationship with the Institute and provide multiple Insurance products to the Public Accountants. A total of 7 Products were identified and it was decided to create an online portal that can be accessed by the Public Accountants. Once the Public Accountant is validated as a member of the Institute, he / she can benefit from the special discount and special plans and coverages being extended to them by the Insurer.
  • Implementation: All Seven Products setup in Gradatim MFInsure with defined rules for Underwriting. “Online” Channel was configured. Payment Gateway integrated to enable Public Accountants to “BUY” Policy Online.
  • Timeline to implement: The complete setup was completed in 6 weeks.
  • Current Status: More than 3,40,000 health Policies, 72,000 Motor Policies, 2000 Professional Indemnity Policies and 800 Office Protection Policies are Live in the System.
  • Benefits to Insurer: Business Users can maintain the system without need to involve IT. Changes to Coverages, Pricing, Process, Underwriting Rules etc. can be managed by business users.

MFInsure is currently live with this customer across 12 such Groups delivering more than US $30 million in premium per year. The Insurer has created a separate web portal branch to expand this model and manage such relationships in the future.
2- Customer: fast-growing life insurer

  • Opportunity: launch new life insurance products, including term, endowment and annuity products.
  • Channel: post of sale (POS) defined as POS sales persons, individual agents, intermediaries and direct consumer.
  • How it started: approval for products by insurance regulator.
  • Implementation: Gradatim MFInsure for life insurance system was deployed by the insurer to write, underwrite, manage the POS products and issue electronic certificates as a stand-alone policy system. Provision to register and setup agents with a well-defined approval process. It gives the ability to manage agent business, process new business opportunities generated by agents, process payment from agents account and issue policies to customers directly. The system also was enabled to be operated on field using any standard smartphone.
  • Timeline to implement: The complete setup was completed in 12 weeks.
  • Benefits to Insurer: Rapid deployment and be the first to market the POS products. It required an arrangement with Telco to distribute products through the Telco’s agents. It was set up independent from legacy core but having the functionality to update business information and regulatory reporting from legacy core.

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Above: template for quick insurance policy creation

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Viswanathan: I have an entrepreneurial background, having started and scaled multiple businesses in the past and a team that is more than ready to walk-the-talk. “The proof is in the pudding” and it is no wonder that we have been able to help insurers create new markets, build new products and deploy them faster than anyone else can. Over 52 million insurance policies are currently live and active in Gradatim MFInsure.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from Gradatim that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Viswanathan: We are excited about the algorithmic engine that has the ability to understand what consumers are interested in — it has more than 13 top-level interest clusters and 450+ detailed clusters!

The algorithmic engine also drives sales to an insurer: imagine if an insurance company can reach out to a consumer when he or she is about to create a travel plan that best suits their upcoming travel.

The introduction of algorithmic engine would be a game-changer for Gradatim and for our insurance customers.

Finovate: Where do you see Gradatim a year or two from now?

Viswanathan: We believe Gradatim is poised to be a category leader – in the on-demand, cloud-based policy systems, managing tens of millions of insurance policies – for a cost far lesser than what insurers currently spend and addressing emerging market needs of consumers who can be categorized as the aspirational class.


Prakash Viswanathan (CEO & Founder) and Siva Kumar (Head of Technology) demo Gradatim MFInsure OnDemand Insurance System at FinovateAsia 2016 in Hong Kong

 

Finovate Debuts: InSpirAVE’s Internet of Savings™ Helps You Save for What Matters

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When it comes to saving for big purchase goals, most of us can use all the help we can get. With The Internet of Savings™ platform from InSpirAVE, consumers can not only accrue the benefit of savings from retail and financial institutions all in one place, but equally leverage the wisdom (and discretionary cash) of friends and family to make smart spending goals, design a personalized savings plan to help raise the money to meet those goals faster, and then track progress as the savings grow and those longed-for big-ticket purchases draw near – with InSpirAVE’s program relentlessly at work until the purchase arrives right at their doorstep.

“Much beyond ‘layaway on steroids’, InSpirAVE helps you multiply your savings so that those big purchase goals that you thought were out of reach are now all of a sudden in reach without getting into the debt trap,” InSpirAVE founder and CEO Om Kundu explained from the Finovate stage during his company’s demo last fall. “Much beyond financial health, InSpirAVE helps you achieve whatever big goal you set your mind to,” he said.

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Pictured: InSpirAVE founder and CEO Om Kundu demonstrating the Internet of Savings™ at FinovateFall 2016.

At FinovateFall, Om Kundu and InSpirAVE CTO Mark Krofchik demonstrated how the Internet of Savings™ works. Consumers starting on the platform search for items (“aspirations”) they are interested in purchasing from bicycles to consumer electronics, jewelry, and more courtesy of InSpirAVE’s API-integration with leading retailers such as Best Buy, Amazon, and eBay. The consumer finds items of interest, adds them to their wishlist and then solicits advice on the potential purchase from friends or family using email, text, or social networks directly from the InSpirAVE platform. “So rather than an impulsive purchase, we are creating a shared experience where friends and family can get engaged to create a thoughtful purchase decision,” Kundu said. “And with friends and family more engaged they are more likely to support the user further downstream.”

And “downstream” is where much of the innovation in InSpirAVE lies. After choosing the item, the consumer picks a savings completion date, decides an initial deposit amount, sets up recurring contributions aided by InSpirAve’s AI capabilities, and the personalized payment plan is complete. And through merchant offers, the use of a savings account during the fundraising process, and successful completion of “personal savings challenges”, consumers are able to save a lot more faster on the price of their purchases. Consumers can use secure email and messaging to then invite friends and family – especially those who participated in the decision-making process – to help support the actual purchase of the item they recommended.

Kundu notes that InSpirAVE’s technology has been particularly cited for knocking down siloes that get in the way of saving and responsible purchases, and for engineering a simple way for people to “save for what matters.” InSpirAVE was selected as one of the top eight emerging technology ventures at SXSW in 2016, during inaugural year the festival accelerator established Fintech & Payments as a distinct category. The company was separately recognized by American Banker and BAI as among the world’s Top FinTech Forward companies.

Company facts

  • Founded in 2014
  • Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York City
  • Developed proprietary technology backed with published patents in several markets globally

InSpirAVE_OmKunduWe caught up with InSpirAVE founder and CEO Om Kundu at Finovate last fall, and followed up with a few questions by email. His responses are below.

Finovate: What problem does InSpirAVE solve?

Om Kundu: In contrast to the impulse to “buy, buy, buy” as our InSpirAVE focus-group users have told us they’re bombarded with (the average household with credit card debt has balances totaling $16K according to the Fed), there isn’t enough impetus to save for what matters with 69% of Americans having less than $1,000 in savings: In fact there isn’t a vehicle to save for anything specific with the exception of retirement or schooling: Persistently low interest rates has also left financial institutions with diminished incentives for consumers to save.

InSpirAVE empowers fulfillment of big purchase goals without debt by helping Users make thoughtful purchase decisions and create a personalized savings plan to fulfill them: The magic of our Internet-of-Savings™ platform helps you save faster through the support of friends and family, as well as partnering merchants and financial institutions: InSpirAVE does so by creating a new underlying set of economic incentives that have proven to be materially significant for partnering banks and merchants to encourage their customers to save.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Kundu: That nearly half of the country is living paycheck–to-paycheck and yet a third of purchases are regretted speaks to the initial consumer segments InSpirAVE is serving: Digital buyers who want to make their next big purchases responsibly, without debt.

We are also tapping into findings from our own proprietary InSpirAVE research that we have candidly been astonished by ourselves. Digitally-savvy consumers whose demonstrated behaviors on the InSpirAVE platform have borne out time and again how much of a premium they assign to advice from trusted friends/family to make their next big purchase equally affordable and memorable (rather than just another transaction).

Our Internet-of-Savings™ platform provides intelligent tools empowering such users with the discipline to make responsible financial decisions — it starts with thoughtfully selecting what matters, and does not stop until that purchase-goal is saved-for and fulfilled. Merchants and financial institutions partnering with InSpirAVE are equally benefiting from our socially responsible model and realizing materially enhanced revenues through greater engagement and expansion of their customer base.

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Finovate: How does InSpirAVE solve the problem better?

Kundu: The magic of the InSpirAVE platform is empowering users with advice from their network of friends and family — big purchase decisions are more well-informed by those who care about you the most.

By harnessing behavioral finance principles and goals that matter, rather than saving for saving’s sake, InSpirAVE’s design, AI, and content-creation tools have made it extraordinarily simple to foster a well-wishing community who egg the user on to ensure the goal is fulfilled, even if it may have been out-of-reach otherwise.

Users are saving faster through The Internet-of-Savings™ platform by drawing from multiple sources — savings from merchants and banks, as well as contribution of friends and family — whose benefits have turned out to be an order-of-magnitude higher than what solely relying on savings from just one source would…for users as well as partnering merchants and banks.

Partnering merchants are realizing the benefits of enhanced purchasing power, highly predictive and signals of spending intent, and material reduction in volume of merchandise returns, as are financial institutions from enhanced savings-levels and “on us” transaction volume. Enduring loyalty is being forged in ways that is translating tertiary customers into lasting primary relationships, including those with consumers that would have otherwise fallen outside a retail and financial institution’s traditional definition of addressable market.

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.

Kundu: Users on InSpirAVE.com — either directly or through partnering institutions — are discovering their next big purchase goal through access to one of the largest merchandise selections, through our integration with some of the most well-recognized merchants. Case-in-point of how the InSpirAVE platform is also empowering users to make intelligent purchase decisions. Beyond comments left by random strangers on a website, InSpirAVE is helping them get the informed opinion of friends, family, and experts they know and trust.

InSpirAVE is giving users the benefits of interest income for the funds they already have as well as the merchant’s best offer. The AI embedded within our platform is generating a personalized plan to get the user from where they are to where they need to be, by setting aside funds on an ongoing basis. Taken together, users are ending up saving a lot more, faster with InSpirAVE. Fulfillment of the goal is also being significantly accelerated with friends and family taking advantage of the capability InSpirAVE provides to make p2p monetary contributions. Once the goal is reached, users are choosing to have the merchandise show-up right at their doorstep or at their preferred retail location.

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Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Kundu: The InSpirAVE vision has crystallized from decades in operating track-record its team has had connecting the dots across retail, financial services and technology sectors, both in scaling new ventures from scratch (in fintech and ‘big data’, predating the entry of such buzzwords into the lexicon of shiny objects) and in direct accountability for P&L of consumer portfolios for over 10+ million users and $40+ billion in balances.

Our team has demonstrated ability in forging new ways to deliver superior returns for both investors and clients over and over again, even as they have remained unrelenting in delighting end-users.

On a personal note, I humor myself into thinking that my life experiences as an immigrant and an entrepreneur has taught me some lessons that have become impossible to forget on the importance of setting goals for the long haul, and ensuring the promise of a vibrant future is democratized for access by all. Perhaps even more sobering is the sheer amount of necessary grit, grace, and support I have seen being pitched in for such goals to be collectively shared in ways that ultimately improve lives for all involved.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from InSpirAVE that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Kundu: We are currently in private beta gearing up for full release. As excited as everyone has been with InSpirAVE being named Top FinTech Company To Watch by American Banker and BAI, and our recognition as a presenting company at South by Southwest, and EFMA among others, personally it’s been even more fulfilling to see how surprisingly popular InSpirAVE has proven to be with thousands who have signed-up in anticipation: If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to sign-up in our current waiting list. Our advice to those wishing to get-in on the action sooner with priority access is to share that you’ve signed-up through social media channels: it’s likely that quite a few of your friends and family are already there.

Many in our current private beta have also told us how much they like realizing their savings all in one place via our platform. Expect to see more, with a wider range of users realizing the magic of our platform, both stateside and in select markets globally.

Finovate: Where do you see your company a year or two from now?

Kundu: Our InSpirAVE roadmap is on-track harnessing the full potential of our P2P savings marketplace with AI facilitating increasingly greater capabilities for users in discovering their aspired goals as well as in creating content to engage their well-wishing community. Value tangibly unlocked from social equity is opening up new vistas to realize goals well beyond the traditional confines of cash or credit users may, or, may not have had access to.

Looking ahead we see the assignment of purpose — by saving for a goal — unlocking massive efficiencies in transforming idle cash into powerful signals of spending intent: Further avenues are opening up in how both retail consumers as well as enterprises — particularly across travel, education, automotive, and residential real estate sectors — are realizing the magic of InSpirAVE.


InSpirAVE’s Om Kundu (CEO, Founder, Chairman) and Mark Krofchik (Chief Technology Officer) demonstrating the Internet of Savings at FinovateFall 2016.