Finovate Global: Fintech News from the Periphery

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global: Fintech News from the Periphery is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Asia

  • Singapore Business Review names Turnkey Lender and Bambu among Singapore’s hottest startups.
  • Citi introduces Facebook Messenger bot in Singapore as initial stage of wider worldwide rollout. (link)
  • Revolut founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky discusses plans for APAC expansion with TechWireAsia.

Africa

  • Flywire and Flutterwave partner on cross-border payments & receivables in Nigeria.
  • Africa-based fintechs picked up almost one third of all Venture funding in Africa in 2017, according to a report from Disrupt Africa.
  • Village Capital Fintech Africa Cohort 2018 lists its incoming class of 12 startups.

MENA

  • Fintech Circle and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to launch fintech education courses.
  • Gulf News Banking takes a look at the digitization of the fintech sector in the Middle East.
  • Bahrain-based security startup, Eazy Financial Services, launches first biometric payment network in MENA.

LATAM

  • Neener Analytics Completes Proof-of-Concept with Jamaican Payday Lender.
  • Alipay partners with Openpay to connect Chinese consumers with merchants in Mexico. (link)
  • Amazon.com unveils first debit card in Mexico as part of e-commerce initiative.

CEE

  • Personetics Brings Cognitive Banking to Romania’s Banca Transilvania.
  • Sberbank to host the first International Cybersecurity Conference in July.
  • CEE Fintech Survey for 2017 cites Poland’s fintech industry as the region’s most vibrant.

Top image designed by Freepik

Personetics Brings Cognitive Banking to Romania’s Banca Transilvania

Cognitive banking has come to CEE.

Romania’s second largest bank, Banca Transilvania, will integrate AI-powered, forward-looking financial guidance into its digital banking experience courtesy of a new partnership with Personetics. The bank, with more than 2.2 million clients, will add Personetics’ technology to the new version of its BT24 Internet Banking and Mobile Banking solution this year, giving Banca Transilvania’s retail and business customers access to insights and tools to better manage their finances.

“With the move towards open banking and PSD2 compliance, the ability to utilize data assets to deliver personalized service and guidance will become a key competitive differentiator for financial institutions in Europe and elsewhere,” Personetics CEO and co-founder David Sosna said. Speaking for Banca Transilvania, CEO Omer Tetik praised the way the technology will enable the bank to get its products to customers faster, and called the partnership with Personetics, “a new and strategic step regarding our digital focus and proof of our commitment to offer convenient and reliable services to our customers.”

Personetics specializes in leveraging machine learning, predictive analytics, and AI to help banks and credit unions create personalized, digital banking experiences for their customers and members.  The company’s Cognitive Banking Brain engine enables a range of applications including a Cognitive Banking Framework; Personetics Engage to provide personalized guidance for customer financial management; Personetics Assist, an AI-driven chatbot solution for institutions; Personetics Act, an automated money management solution; and Personetics Anywhere, which enables banks to deploy chatbot solutions over popular messaging platforms. The solutions help banks lower operational costs, increase cross-selling, and build better quality online engagement.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, Personetics demonstrated its Personetics Anywhere chatbot solution for financial services at FinovateFall 2016. Last month, the company announced that challenger bank Tandem would use Personetics’ technology to provide personalized financial guidance for its customers. Also this year, Personetics has announced a partnership with Israel Discount Bank, where it will power the intelligent financial assistant, Didi. The company serves more than 45 million customers worldwide, and is partnered with six of the top 12 banks in North America and the European Union.

Named a Gartner Cool Vender, a Top Ten FinTech Company by KPMG, and a Top Ten Company to Watch by American Banker, Personetics has raised $18 million in funding. The company includes Lightspeed Venture Partners, Viola Ventures, and Sequoia Capital among its investors.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • TransferWise to Power Payroll for Crowdfunding Platform Seedrs.
  • Behalf Lands Equity Funding and Secures $150 Million in Debt Financing.
  • Blockchain Appoints New President and Chief Legal Officer.

Around the web

  • Challenger bank Tandem to leverage Personetics Cognitive Banking Brain to provide personalized financial guidance for customers.
  • Equifax introduces commercial credit data sharing solution for SME lenders.
  • Bluefin Payment Systems partners with EDC Corporation to improve security for credit card transactions.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Personetics Powers New Intelligent Financial Assistant Didi from Israel Discount Bank

Israel Discount Bank is jumping on the intelligent assistant bandwagon. This week, the bank launched its new digital financial assistant, Didi –  a solution powered by Personetics Cognitive Banking Brain.

“Utilizing advanced AI capabilities to provide personalized and proactive guidance is quickly becoming a must-have for financial institutions that want to increase customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty,” Personetics co-founder and CEO David Sosna said. “While digital banking assistants are gaining popularity, the ones that will stand out will be those that deliver smart interactions based on true understanding of each customer’s financial behavior and needs.”

Digital banking assistants may offer efficient customer service, but the key to higher engagement lies in the ability to offer insight and guidance that is both personalized and proactive. Didi, which will be available for free to all Discount Bank customers via the mobile app, leverages Personetics’ Cognitive Banking Brain, which analyzes specific transactions to spot spending issues or opportunities for greater saving.

“Proactively providing insight and advice, Didi is always one step ahead, empowering customers to be more efficient and effective in managing their money,” Head of Technologies & Operations division at Discount Bank, Levi Halevi, said. In addition to delivering AI-powered personalized insights and guidance, the technology also features “hundreds of pre-built insights” which, in addition to being market-tested by banks around the world, will help Discount Bank roll out the technology that much more quickly.

At FinovateFall 2016, CEO Sosna and Solution Architect Sudharshan Krishnan demonstrated Personetics Anywhere, a chatbot solution for financial services providers that works across most common messaging platforms. Last fall the company launched a new service, Personetics Act, designed to give banks a new way to help customers repay their student loans ahead of schedule. Also last fall, Royal Bank Canada announced that it was leveraging the company’s technology to deliver two new services – AI-powered finance guidance and an automated savings program – through its mobile app.

Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, Personetics was featured in our look at fintech innovation in Israel. The company has raised $18 million in funding and includes Lightspeed Venture Partners, Viola Ventures and Sequoia Capital among its investors.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Fenergo Forges Strategic Partnership with Arachnys.
  • Personetics Powers New Intelligent Financial Assistant Didi from Israel Discount Bank.

Around the web

  • Thomson Reuters introduces investment research marketplace on Eikon to further MiFID II compliance
  • Xero opens new Wellington headquarters.
  • Trustly to expand its Pay N Play gaming payment product.
  • Zopa’s investor community lends 3 billionth pound to U.K. consumers.
  • Pendo Systems targets the insurance sector with Pendo Machine Learning Platform.
  • InComm expands gift card assortment in grocery partners with new brand offerings.

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.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Envestnet Finalizes Acquisition of FolioDynamix for $195 Million.
  • In the Navy: nCino Brings its Bank Operating System to the World’s Largest Credit Union.
  • Kantox Closes Debt Financing.
  • Finovate Alums Garner $2.7 Billion in 2017; $721 Million in Q4 Alone.

Around the web

  • CIO Review names AI Foundry one of the 20 Most Promising Enterprise Information Management Solution Providers 2017.
  • nCino to power cloud-based digital platform to Navy Federal Credit Union.
  • Motor City Community Credit Union partners with Fiserv.
  • Elixirr interviews Personetics founder and CEO David Sosna.

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.

Personetics Leverages AI to Help Chip Away at Student Loan Crisis

Cognitive analytics company Personetics announced this week it is using its AI technology in a new way. The Israel-based company launched Personetics Act this week to offer banks a way to help customers repay their student loans ahead of schedule.

The new service uses the Nudge Theory to incentivize the 44 million U.S. student loan borrowers who owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt to pay down their loans early and avoid paying thousands in interest. The Nudge Theory was demonstrated by 2017 Nobel Prize winner Professor Richard Thaler, who noted that people make better decisions to improve their financial health when the choice is made easy for them.

Personetics Act puts the Nudge Theory to work by helping banks identify consumers that 1) have a student loan and 2) can afford to pay it off faster. The program offers these consumer a tailored, automated service that adjusts to changes in their spending behavior and continually analyzes their financial picture to find unused funds that can be applied toward the existing loan balance. This can be set to automatically make payments on the customer’s behalf or to appear as a suggested recommendation. The company notes that applying an additional $50 per week towards a $40,000 student loan that bears a 5% interest rate can allow a customer to pay off the loan 3.5 years faster and save over $4,000 in interest payments.

“Existing bank plans are limited in scope and therefore unlikely to make a visible dent in any customer’s outstanding loan balance,” said David Sosna, Personetics’ Co-founder and CEO. “By applying AI algorithms to analyze individual customer cash flows, we’re able to identify windows of opportunity for customers to make these extra payments with no effort on their end.”

At FinovateFall 2016, Personetics demonstrated its Personetics Anywhere chatbot solution. The company was founded in 2011 and has received $18 million in total funding. Personetics recently onboarded Royal Bank of Canada to pilot an AI-powered financial guidance solution, NOMI Insights, and an automated savings platform, NOMI Find & Save. Last month, the company’s VP of New Markets and Solutions, Sudharshan Krishnan, authored a guest post titled, “Enabled by AI, Self-Service Is the Future of Banking.”

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Swych Introduces Themed, Multi-Currency, Digital Gifting Options.
  • Persado Unveils Persado One, Lands $30 Million Credit Facility from Silicon Valley Bank.
  • Personetics Leverages AI to Help Chip Away at Student Loan Crisis.
  • Two-Time Best of Show Winner Finn.ai Raises $3 Million in New Funding.

Around the web

  • Actiance launches Safe Landing Program to ensure continuous compliance for stranded CA data protection customers.
  • PayNearMe helps NYC residents and visitors pay parking tickets with cash.
  • Mitek partners with handwriting-based biometric authentication service Asignio to deliver IDaaS solution.
  • Revolut announces plans to expand to Singapore.
  • Zafin launches digital origination platform and partner ecosystem, Zafin Origin.
  • Klarna expands partnership with Arcadia, adding new payment solutions.
  • Yoyo Wallet reaches processing milestone of more than 1.75 million transactions per month.

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.

Enabled by AI, Self-Service Is the Future of Banking

Guest post by Sudharshan Krishnan*, VP New Markets and Solutions, Personetics

Self-service banking is adapting to the digital age – though many customers believe that change isn’t coming fast enough. Here we look at the challenges banks face and how AI can be used to transform self-service banking.

Digital problem resolution is key to satisfaction and loyalty

A survey by Ath power consulting found that four in every five consumers prefer to conduct their banking via digital channels. Yet the firm also found that satisfaction with digital banking dropped significantly in the past year as customers began to expect more from their digital interactions. The latest J.D. Power report shows that unsuccessful problem resolution is highly correlated with this low level of satisfaction and high level of customer attrition. And while the branch has traditionally served as the go-to channel for handling problems, younger customers now prefer to resolve problems online or via social media.

Banks that take a more comprehensive digital approach are well positioned to increase satisfaction and fight off future customer attrition, but the payoff can be even more immediate in terms of reduced costs. According to Bain & Company, the top 25 US banks could save as much as $11.4 billion annually in aggregate by increasing digital interactions to the levels of some of their European counterparts.

Pillars of AI in Self-Service Banking: Conversational. Personal. Predictive.

By allowing customers to interact with the bank through natural language conversations, chatbots provide an intuitive channel for customer inquiries, facilitating user friendly interactions and delivering a better customer experience than the age-old FAQs and the dreaded IVR. While bank chatbots are still few and limited in functionality, over three quarters of all banks have active chatbot projects in place.

While the promise is great, a chatbot, just like a human banker, is only as good as the knowledge it possesses. To be helpful, a banking chatbot must understand the context of the bank’s services. Furthermore, it must understand the particular needs and situation of the customer, and incorporate this understanding into the conversation.

To truly delight customers, how about pre-empting them before a request is made? Better yet, how about alerting the customer in advance to avert potential problems altogether? A robust AI solution is predictive – monitoring a customer’s transactions and forecasting future cashflows to anticipate issues ahead of time – then prompting the customer with information, insight, and tips that can help eliminate fees and avert troublesome situations such as over drafting the account.

AI as an Augmentative Strategy

Implementations of AI-powered self-service at some of the world’s largest banks have shown that as many as 88% of incoming inquiries were resolved without requiring the help of a person.

However, as much as chatbots and AI can revolutionize self-service, they should not be viewed as a complete replacement for human bankers. A smart chatbot would know when the time is right to move the conversation to a human-led channel such as the call center or the branch.

There’s No Time to Waste

With practically every major bank getting ready to launch a chatbot solution, the bar for self-service banking is about to be raised once again. Financial institutions that fall behind in delivering new service capabilities will risk customer loyalty and face a cost disadvantage.

With that in mind, banks cannot afford to sit on the sideline or embark on multiyear transformative projects – the time to act is now.


*Sudharshan Krishnan is responsible for growing new markets and working with leading financial institutions to deliver Cognitive Financial Services Applications that are trusted by millions of customers – providing personalized guidance, conversational self-service, and automated money management programs.

Royal Bank Canada Leverages Personetics to Pilot New Automated Savings Service

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), with the help of Personetics Cognitive Banking’s applications, will deliver two new services this autumn that provide AI-powered financial guidance and an automated savings programme through the bank’s mobile app, reports Antony Peyton of Banking Technology (Finovate’s sister publication).

The development follows on from last month, when RBC unveiled these two digital services: NOMI Insights and NOMI Find & Save.

Based on predictive analysis of individual behavior and spending patterns, Personetics said its solutions enable RBC to provide clients with personalized insight and advice for day-to-day money management.

Examples of insights include identifying unusual transactions which may require action, automatically issuing reminders based on past activity, and predicting potential issues.

Personetics is headquartered in New York and was founded in 2011. It also has offices in London and Tel Aviv. The company demonstrated its Personetics Anywhere chatbot solution for the financial services industry at FinovateFall 2016.