FinovateWest Best of Show Winners Announced

Here ye! Here ye! The votes have been cast and tallied. Here are the companies that have been awarded Best of Show trophies at this year’s FinovateWest Digital fintech conference.

Breach Clarity for its technology that identifies and diagnoses consumers’ unique breach histories to prescribe personalized actions to improve financial health for both financial institutions and consumers.

Finzly for its digital banking solution that improves banking services for any bank using novel UIs and a services-based architecture.

Glia for its digital customer service platform that connects financial institutions to their customers using chat, voice, video, cobrowsing, and AI.

Interface for its AI-powered call center technology that helps financial institutions automate 60% of their calls in 60 days.

Zeta for its full-stack, cloud-native, API-ready core banking and transaction processing platform for issuance of credit, debit, and prepaid products.

A huge, pre-Thanksgiving thanks to all the companies that participated in FinovateWest Digital – and to all those who attended our November conference, as well. Be sure to keep an eye out for our all-digital, year-end event, the Finovate Fulltime Review, coming up in December. In the meanwhile, have a wonderful holiday week!

Notes on methodology:
1. Only audience members NOT associated with demoing companies were eligible to vote. Finovate employees did not vote.
2. Attendees were encouraged to note their favorites during each day. At the end of the last demo, they chose their five favorites.
3. The exact written instructions given to attendees: “Please rate (the companies) on the basis of demo quality and potential impact of the innovation demoed.”
4. The five companies appearing on the highest percentage of submitted ballots were named “Best of Show.”
5. Go here for a list of previous Best of Show winners through 2014. Best of Show winners from our 2015 through 2020 conferences are below:
FinovateEurope 2015
FinovateSpring 2015
FinovateFall 2015
FinovateEurope 2016
FinovateSpring 2016
FinovateFall 2016
FinovateAsia 2016
FinovateEurope 2017
FinovateSpring 2017
FinovateFall 2017
FinovateAsia 2017
FinovateMiddleEast 2018
FinovateEurope 2018
FinovateSpring 2018
FinovateFall 2018
FinovateAsia 2018
FinovateAfrica 2018
FinovateEurope 2019
FinovateSpring 2019
FinovateFall 2019
FinovateAsia 2019
FinovateMiddleEast 2019

FinovateEurope 2020

FinovateFall 2020

Finmark Brings Financial Modeling to Fledgling Startups

It is a truism that many talented technologists are not especially talented businesspeople. So if you have an idea for a technology solution, and want to build a business around your idea, where do you turn for the kind of help that can enable you to turn your funky tech startup into a serious up ‘n’ coming competitor?

One option for many startups is a company like Finmark. Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina and founded earlier this year, Finmark specializes in providing startups with the resources they need to build and manage their financial plans. By providing insights into everything from runway and hiring to fundraising and reporting, Finmark makes the task of financial modeling that much easier for startups.

We caught up with Finmark co-founder and CEO Rami Essaid recently by email to learn more about the company and how it helps startups become better businesses.

What is the problem that Finmark solves – and who does it solve it for?

Rami Essaid: Finmark is a technology company that provides financial planning and modeling software for startups. Finmark’s platform takes complex financial concepts and calculations and distills them down into a simple-to-use interface so companies can easily update, inspect, and share their financial metrics.

Startup founders, from pre-revenue companies to pre-IPO companies, rely on Finmark to align teams, drive collaboration, reduce costs and resources, and build the next generation of great startups.

What makes Finmark’s solution better than others? What functionality does it have that sets it apart?

Essaid: Most startups use Excel for financial modeling, but spreadsheets are poor for collaboration and version control is a nightmare. Finmark eliminates the need for complex spreadsheets with a simple-to-use platform, so founders can easily create, update, and share their financial plans. 

Finmark was built so that anyone, not just finance professionals, can easily make and update a financial model without having to spend weeks laboring over complicated spreadsheets. While Excel-based spreadsheets have a half-life of about a month, founders can have immediate access to Finmark and know that their financials are updated regularly. 

Many founders also rely on templated models, but we help to create customized models in minutes, taking the components that are driving your business and allowing them to be linked together seamlessly. 

What in your background gave you the confidence to launch the company?

Essaid: As a now three-time startup founder, I’ve lived through the complications of Excel-based financial models. At my former company Distil Networks, I tried to fix these issues so many times that I came up with the general idea of Finmark so that other startup founders didn’t have to go through what I went through. 

At the time, it was only an idea that was put on the back burner, but when the time came for a new venture, I knew that I wanted to create Finmark. As a founder who understands the pain of financial modeling, my experiences have helped shape the company to ensure it will help others out there like me.

My goal is to help startup founders know they are building their company on a solid foundation. I believe that, as a result of Finmark, more good companies will survive. 

What adjustments have you had to make as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?

Essaid: As a company launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been fortunate to be agile in our efforts, where we haven’t had to make many adjustments. The majority of our employee base is working from home, and this will likely continue to be the case once the pandemic has subsided. There have been numerous adjustments we’ve had to make, but we’ve taken them in stride, relying on new forms of technology to help us out.

We even participated in the Y Combinator Summer 2020 Demo Day, and while it wasn’t the major event many are used to, we still had the opportunity to pitch our startup via Zoom to more than a thousand attendees. 

Finmark recently raised $5 million in seed funding. How important was this to the company and what will it enable Finmark to do?

Essaid: I’m extremely excited about our seed funding, as we saw an incredible amount of interest from investment funds and angel investors alike, with more than 14 firms and 30 angels participating in the round. This level of interest underscores the need for a tool like Finmark, as many of these investors want to move away from the complex Excel spreadsheet modeling that is relied upon today.

Most of the funds will be asking that their portfolio companies use Finmark to stay on track, and the majority of our angel investors are or will be using Finmark to track their own financials, too.

You mentioned that Finmark is a recent graduate of Y Combinator’s Summer 2020 cohort. What was that experience like?

Essaid: It was a great experience overall. For us, our Y Combinator goals were two-fold. We gained a ton of experience with the accelerator, but also used the connections to introduce companies to Finmark. As the majority of the cohort were founders and CEOs in need of a tool like Finmark, I was able to sign on dozens of my peers as beta users. These users are both our target audience, and are also highly involved with the investor community, who will also be introduced to Finmark via the financial models created by our software.

What can we expect from Finmark in the year to come?

Essaid: Our first and primary goal is to build and perfect the platform, however we plan to expand our capabilities in the year to come in order to become the system of record for startups. A financial model is typically the central hub for all company data, including marketing and sales expenses, payroll, revenue, and more. With Finmark, companies will have a centralized access point for all data, where we can then help to provide benchmarks based on other companies in their respective industry, and ultimately help companies grow.

Buy Now Pay Later Meets Open Banking; Payment Cards and the Post-Plastic Era

Buy Now, Pay Later Still Paying Off: One of 2020’s most unanticipated ecommerce trends, buy now pay later (BNPL) installment payment schemes, continues to show no signs of slowing down as the year draws toward a close. QuadPay, a BNPL innovator based in New York City that we featured earlier this month, just announced that it has added a new Chrome browser extension enables users to access Quadpay across all devices that can power a Chrome web browser.

“The introduction of Quadpay for Chrome will accelerate overall BNPL adoption for pandemic-weary consumers who are looking for flexible payment terms anywhere they shop without accruing new debt,” Quadpay Co-CEO Brad Lindenberg said. “It will also serve to drive new customers and increased loyalty for retailers at a critical time.”

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a U.K.-based startup that is trying out its own version of the buy now, pay later strategy has become the first BNPL outfit in the U.K. to be granted a consumer credit authorization with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Zilch, which was founded in 2018 by Philip Belamant, specializes in using open banking data and soft credit checks to help ensure that customers who use its BNPL service have sufficient creditworthiness and can afford their purchase. The company is partnered with Mastercard, enabling the merchant-agnostic Zilch to be used as an installment payment solution wherever Mastercard is accepted.

“Zilch was built with customer affordability at the forefront of everything we do and we have been working towards this point since our conception,” Belamant said. “Having secured our consumer credit authorization with the FCA is another step towards improving consumer financial wellness and removing credit related anxiety for our customers.”

Corn on the Card? A few weeks back we read about a $1 million investment that eco-friendly, U.K.-based search engine Ecosia made in TreeCard, a company that offers a debit card made out of wood.

And not just any wood. According to a post at the Ecosia blog, “each TreeCard will be unique, since the debit cards are made of sustainably sourced cherry wood.” The announcement notes that a single one of these trees can produce 300,000 cards.

Not to be outdone, Swiss-based UBS has introduced a credit card made out of an equally unlikely substance: corn.

Specifically, the new Optimus Foundation Credit Card Eco is composed of a plastic substitute known as PLA. This substance is derived from animal feed corn, and has a biodegradability of more than 80%.

“The transition to a more sustainable society is one of the greatest challenges of our time,” Karin Oertli, COO, personal and corporate banking and Region Switzerland, said. “UBS wants to be a part of the solution and lead the way with innovative ideas. Our new cards, which are made without plastic, are contributing to this.”

FinovateWest Digital is taking place this week. Our all-digital fintech conference runs from Monday, November 23 through Wednesday, November 25. Join us for both live and on-demand access to hours of innovative fintech demos, insightful analysis, and robust debate and discussion on the most important topics in fintech today.

Juvo Brings Digital Identities to the Underbanked; BondIT Merges with Scorable

Financial-identity-as-a-service (FiDaaS) pioneer – and FinovateFall alum – Juvo announced earlier this week that it is working with Mastercard’s Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) team to bring its FiDaaS platform to financial institutions throughout the region.

“Financial institutions across LAC face a dilemma,” Juvo CEO and founder Steve Polsky explained. “Consumers can’t demonstrate their creditworthiness to gain access to credit. Without access to credit, however, consumers can’t establish creditworthiness.”

Juvo’s technology leverages machine learning to analyze transaction data to assess an individual’s ability to repay loans and meet other financial obligations. The company’s partnership with Mastercard is in large part a product of its participation in Mastercard’s Start Path fintech startup engagement program last August. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Juvo was founded in 2014.

Innovation in the wealth management space is increasingly an international affair. This week, Israel-based portfolio construction technology provider BondIT announced that it has agreed to merge with Germany’s Scorable. Headquartered in Berlin, Scorable provides AI-powered credit analysis and will, per this transaction, combine its technology with BondIT’s in order to offer an integrated portfolio-management-and-research-as-a-service solution for asset managers and financial advisors.

“Fixed income investors still rely heavily on manual-driven procedures, but in light of market and cost pressures, intelligent automation is increasingly necessary to stay competitive,” said BondIT CEO Etai Ravid. “Merging our technologies allows us to even better serve the evolving digital needs of our clients by helping them optimize their portfolio and risk management to boost efficiency, performance and scale.”

Making its Finovate debut at FinovateFall in 2016, BondIT offers a scalable platform that uses both machine learning and data science to provide financial analysts and advisors with optimized portfolios and portfolio analysis. Founded in 2012 and based in Herzliya, Israel, BondIT has raised $18.5 million in funding from investors including Fosun International.

Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Fintech Futures profiles Indian fintech PayNearby that is leveraging small, brick and mortar retailers to provide ATM and branch banking services.
  • Pakistan fintech Tag earns “in principle” approval for an electronic money institute license from country’s central bank; plans to launch financial superapp.
  • Express Computer looks at the evolution of fintech in India.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Banco Pichincha Peru teams up with U.S.-based no-code mobile security platform Appdome to secure its mobile app.
  • The Central Bank of the Bahamas launches digital sand dollar, a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
  • Brazil’s central bank launches PIX instant payments platform; suggests possible return of WhatsApp.


  • Singapore’s Lu International and Thailand’s Kasikornbank (KBank) partner to introduce new wealth management platform.
  • P2P investment network SeedIn, based in Singapore, announces rebranding to BRDGE; expansion to Indonesia.
  • Hong Kong based digital payment services platform Statrys raises $5 million in funding.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • The days of paper checks in South Africa are numbered according to a joint communique from the country’s Reserve Bank, Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), and other government agencies and banking industry associations.
  • Chipper Cash, which offers no fee, P2P payment services in seven African countries, raises $30 million in funding.
  • Nigerian fintech Wallets Africa partners with Visa to provide customers with physical Visa cards for domestic and international payments.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Revolut introduces Open Banking options for its German customers.
  • German fintech and challenger bank Vivid Money secures $17.6 million in funding.
  • Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) goes live with its API marketplace.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • UAE-based payment service for retailers Spotii announces expansion to Saudi Arabia.
  • Trade Arabia takes a look at the fintech agreement between the Israeli Securities Authority (ISA) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market Financial Services Regulatory Authority (ADGM FSRA).
  • Two Israeli companies – ChargeAfter and Personeticsjoin Visa Fintech Partner Connect to bring payment technology innovation to Europe.

Photo by Elianne Dipp from Pexels

FintechOS Launches Lighthouse to Accelerate Digital Transformations

Financial services technology company FintechOS unveiled its latest solution to help banks, insurance, and other financial services companies accelerate and complete their digital transformations. The new offering, Lighthouse, is an end-to-end platform that features a variety of product and UX enhancements that speed innovation without requiring businesses to overly rely on developers and technical talent.

“Digital transformation is big, slow, and expensive,” FintechOS co-founder and CEO Teo Blidarus said. “Instead, institutions need to extract value from existing systems, databases, and business logic by thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast.”

Among the enhancements introduced this week are:

  • Product Factory: enables institutions to use existing data sets to develop customer eligibility requirements and define more personalized products
  • Enhanced Journey Designer: enables businesses to build customer journeys without relying on IT teams
  • Hybrid Data Models and Ecosystem Connectors: enables institutions to use and expose a wide variety of data types (local, legacy, or external) via API and low-code technology

Lighthouse also features pre-built UI templates to enable developers to issue design prototypes faster, and enhanced data security with data anonymization and sensitive data flagging.

“Commercial teams should be able to transform by making small but systemic changes that can be scaled rapidly without impacting on operational resilience or requiring millions of euros of investment,” Blidarus said. “Lighthouse is our latest step to empower our customers and their employees with better experiences, services and tools, enabled by new technology, to drive real change – rapidly.”

Founded in 2014 and making its Finovate debut two years ago at FinovateEurope, U.K.-based FintechOS serves more than 40 institutions in 20 markets across four continents. Last month, FintechOS announced that it had implemented a digital onboarding solution for Romania’s OTP Bank and, this spring, the company announced that it was working with Deloitte to support the digital transformation of another Romanian financial institution, CEC Bank. Bringing onboard a new CTO in August, FintechOS has raised $16 million in funding from investors including Gapminder VC and Earlybird Venture Capital.

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Here’s Johnny! Socure Appoints Co-Founder Ayers as New CEO

Say hello to Socure’s new CEO! Then again, you’ve probably already met.

Johnny Ayers, who co-founded the identity verification company with Sunil Madhu in 2012 and has since served as both Director of Business Development and Chief Product Officer for the New York-based firm, has been named CEO. Ayers will take over from Tom Thimot, who joined the company as CEO in the spring of 2018.

“I am extremely grateful to Tom for his commitment to expanding Socure, building the organization, and serving as a mentor over the past 2+ years,” Ayers said in a statement. “His leadership skills and wealth of experience in running technology companies have been extremely instrumental in building the phenomenal work culture and team here at Socure, while laying the groundwork for our next phase of growth.”

Socure grew significantly under Thimot’s leadership. In 2018, the company gained ISO certification for privacy and security controls, and launched its Aida (Authentic Identity Agent) bot to provide real-time validation and authentication of digital identities. Socure also forged partnerships with companies like workflow management specialist Alloy and digital banking services provider (and fellow Finovate alum) Q2. Socure was also the target of robust investment in the Thimot Era, securing $65 million in funding – more than half the company’s total capital – in the past two years alone.

“In my time as CEO, we together built a world class, diverse team, added hundreds of customers, and increased the company valuation significantly,” Thimot said in the company’s announcement. “I also had the privilege of spending a lot of time working with and mentoring Johnny. Now it is time to pass the baton. As the original co-founder, Johnny is poised to take Socure to the next level by offering the right products and penetrating the right markets so that Socure is truly built to last. I’m very excited to see what’s next.”

The leadership shift comes at an opportune time for Socure, with interest in digital identity security on the rise during the global health crisis. Socure’s predictive analytics platform leverages AI and machine learning to analyze trusted on- and offline data intelligence from a wide variety of sources – including email, phone, and Internet – to offer real-time identity verification. As Chief Product Officer, Ayers led innovation in Socure’s Socure ID+ platform, helping bring a trio of expansions – Intelligent KYC, DocV, and Sigma Synthetic Fraud – to the company’s flagship solution.

A Finovate alum since 2013, Socure now includes four of the top five U.S. banks, eight of the top ten credit card issuers, and more than 100 of the largest fintechs among its customers and partners. The company was named a “Cool Vendor” this year in the AI for Banking and Investments category by Gartner.

Photo by Monica Silvestre from Pexels

Infinicept Secures Funding from Mastercard, MissionOG

Another day, another opportunity for Mastercard to find itself in the fintech headlines. Last week, we highlighted a handful of Finovate alums that earned spots in Mastercard’s Start Path program. Then, yesterday, we covered news that the company had enhanced its Mastercard Track Business Payment Service to help modernize business payments. We also reported on Monday that Mastercard had earned the go-ahead from the U.S. Department of Justice to complete its big acquisition of data aggregation innovator Finicity.

Today’s Mastercard-related performance comes in more of a “Best Supporting” role as the company – along with VC firm MissionOG – announces an investment in payments facilitator-services provider Infinicept. The amount of the funding was not disclosed, but Infinicept’s co-CEO and co-founder Todd Ablowitz highlighted adding engineering talent and investments in product management and customer service as ways Infinicept plans to put the new capital to use. He also said that Infinicept is experiencing a 8x growth rate, as well.

“The opportunity in front of us is enormous, and we’re going to invest intelligently and aggressively to meet the needs of our customers,” added Deana Rich, co-founder and co-CEO of Infinicept. “Our customers need the ability to get payments up and running on their own terms, without having to do all the work themselves. While others try to lock-in customers with templated solutions, Infinicept puts software companies in control of their payments experience – and their payments future.”

Infinicept enables businesses to offer embedded payments to a wide variety of customers, including in health care management and hospitality. Infinicept’s platform offers software providers, financial institutions, marketplaces, and more a payments infrastructure that can help them generate payments revenue, onboard merchants faster, and improve the overall customer experience.

This week’s investment is the latest expression of a partnership between Mastercard and Infinicept that extends back to 2012. Infinicept is an alum of Mastercard’s Start Path accelerator, joining the program as part of the 2019 cohort. Infinicept’s first customers were Stripe and Shopify in 2011.

“Infinicept’s technology now supports acquirers and payment facilitators with the critical tools to help businesses around the world manage payments,” Mastercard EVP of Merchant Solutions and Partnerships Zahir Khoja said. “Mastercard’s technology and scale, with partners such as Infinicept, is helping our larger acquirer ecosystem support businesses around the world to accelerate growth, modernize transactions, and ensure businesses have the tools to succeed.”

Founded in 2011, Infinicept is headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

Moven and Q2 Team Up on Bank-in-a-Box Initiative

A turnkey digital bank-in-a-box that can be deployed in as little as 30 days? That’s the product of a new partnership announced this week between a pair of Finovate alums: data-driven financial wellness innovator Moven and digital banking services provider Q2.

“Working with Q2 allows banks of all sizes to accelerate their consumer facing digital offering,” Moven CEO and CRO Kesh Talwar explained. “Having a complete view of customer financial behavior, along with Moven’s data analytics, will increase contextual customer engagement. He added that better customer engagement will lead to “lower attrition rates, increased revenues and acquiring new customers digitally at a lower cost.”

Initially, the collaboration will focus on the integration of Moven’s data aggregation and savings tools with Q2’s cloud-based core processor, CorePro. This will enable them to offer banks and credit unions an instant deployment solution with real-time alerts and notifications, as well as account issuance for savings and demand deposits accounts. The offering also includes features such as instant external account verification, wishlist savings, and an emergency account.

“We are thrilled that Q2’s CorePro system was selected by Moven to power this initiative,” GM of Q2 BaaS Paul Walker said. “Now any bank can have its own Marcus or Chime in a matter of a few weeks.”

The partnership is the latest evidence of Moven’s shift toward leveraging its financial wellness and behavioral data technology and away from the direct to consumer / neobank model of years past. Fintech expert and advisor Bryan Clagett, who approached both Moven and Q2 over the summer to discuss compatibilities between the two firms, underscored the importance of this strategy. “Digital banking, as we know it, is evolving quickly,” he said “and bringing together fintechs organizations that have complementary competencies is key to the future of the financial services industry.”

Founded in 2011 and becoming a Finovate alum after its debut at FinovateEurope two years later, Moven announced a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s STC Pay this spring. The New York-based company has raised more than $47 million in funding, and includes TD Bank and SBI Group among its investors. Brett King is founder and executive chairman. In a statement, King highlighted the significance of his company’s partnership with fellow Finovate alum, Q2.

“We started as a challenger bank in the U.S. market before collaborating with banks and FIs around the world, so we understand what it takes in the post-COVID digital world to stand out,” King said. “The Q2 alliance is our first major core partnership in the U.S., and no doubt will set a steep benchmark for other providers in the space.”

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Q2 has become one of the leaders in the embedded finance movement, offering a range of digital financial solutions for consumers, business clients, and fellow fintechs. The company won a Best of Show award at FinovateFall in September for its Partner Marketplace, an app store that is integrated within the client’s digital banking platform.

Q2 is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker QTWO, and has a market capitalization of more than $5 billion. See them next week as the company returns to the Finovate stage to demo its latest technology at FinovateWest Digital.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

U.S. Department of Justice Green Lights Mastercard’s Purchase of Finicity

It’s been a tough few weeks for Big Fintech. The Chinese government is dropping the hammer on Ant Group’s IPO. The U.S. Department of Justice is turning up its nose at Visa’s Plaid acquisition.

But, meanwhile over at Mastercard, it is quite the sunny Monday, indeed.

Why? Because the same DOJ that is giving Visa a hard time has granted rival Mastercard the all-clear to pursue its big acquisition: a $825 million deal for real-time financial data and analytics provider Finicity.

“We are pleased to have reached this milestone,” read a statement from Mastercard Monday morning. “The acquisition of Finicity accelerates our open banking strategy and strengthens our ability to offer consumers and businesses more choice in how they pay and how they simplify their lives and maximize their financial relationships.”

Announced in June, the acquisition was heralded by Mastercard as a way for the company to take advantage of global opportunities around open banking. Calling it a “strategically important space,” Mastercard President Michael Mieback said in June that Finicity shared Mastercard’s “commitment to consumer-centric data practices, ensuring consumers have a say in how and where their information should be used.”

Powering solutions from Experian Boost Quicken’s Rocket Mortgage, Finicity offers financial data APIs, credit decisioning technology and financial wellness tools to financial institutions and fintechs. Founded in 2000 and a Finovate alum since 2014, the company won API World’s Finance API of the Year award in 2016 for its TxPush-compliant real-time aggregation service, a technology Finicity unveiled at our developers conference, FinDEVr New York, that year.

In the months since the acquisition was announced, Finicity has continued to innovate and partner with banks and other FIs to help them make better use of their data. Earlier this month, Finicity finalized a data access agreement with BMO Harris Bank. Back in September, in addition to announcing the direct data agreement it forged with Charles Schwab, Finicity launched its next-generation credit decisioning solution, Finicity Lend. The new offering provides banks, lenders, and fintechs with an integrated set of open banking data services that enable borrowers to directly permission data and insights into lending decisioning processes.

“Big news!” Finicity tweeted later this morning. “This DOJ approval brings Finicity one step closer to joining the Mastercard family. It would be an understatement to say we’re excited to become part of Mastercard’s mission to improve financial health and inclusion around the globe.”

About That Ant IPO: Chinese President Behind Rebuke of Ma

The biggest news in global fintech this week was word that the much-anticipated Ant Group IPO, an initial public offering expected to raise $34.5 billion, had been suspended on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges. Why? According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, Chinese President Xi Jinping himself ordered a halt to the IPO in response to criticisms about Chinese government regulators from Ant Group founder Jack Ma.

Slated to be the biggest initial public offering in history, the Ant Group offering is currently suspended indefinitely by Chinese authorities, who cited “changes in the financial technology regulatory environment” as reasons why the financial tech giant’s online lending business “would face tighter government scrutiny.”

As the Wall Street Journal tells it, the sharp rebuke from Chinese authorities is the result of long-simmering concerns about the growing strength of Ant Group, whose financial division Alipay is used by approximately 70% of the Chinese population. Ma’s comments, which came in a speech delivered in late October, sought to elevate the role of innovation rather than personality in solving the country’s financial problems. However his remarks about the way financial regulations are impeding technological development apparently infuriated Chinese officials, who moved quickly to check the country’s richest and most well-known businessman.

Other Chinese fintechs and financial services companies would be well-advised to take note. Following up on the smack-down of Ant Group, the Vice Chair of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) Liang Tao warned “we need to pay close attention to the risks from internet security, data protection, and market monopoly.” Pardon the editorial interjection, but I am quite ready to forgive anyone for feeling as if one of those issues – certainly given the Ant Group news this week – seems a bit out of place among the other two.

Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Turkey’s Isbank completes second pilot cross border trade transaction using distributed ledger technology.
  • Ripple names Dubai as the location of its regional headquarters.
  • Lebanon’s central bank announces plans to debut a national digital currency next year.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Digital-only YeLo Bank wins the Indian Finals of the AWS Startup Architecture Challenge of the Year 2020.
  • Crowdfund Insider looks at how the Indian state of Gujarat is supporting the growth of local fintechs.
  • Transfin founder and CEO Nikhil Arora talks with Madhusudanan R, co-founder of fintech API platform YAP on the evolution of fintech in India.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Microsoft partners with Uruguay-based dLocal to boost access to emerging markets.
  • Argentine online B2C travel agency Despegar to leverage its acquisition of Brazilian buy now pay later firm Koin to offer installment financing to travelers.
  • Brazilian fintech Nubank pledges to support financial education for black Brazilians in the wake of controversial comments by co-founder Cristina Junqueira in a recent television interview.


  • Indonesian e-money institution LinkAja secures $100 million Series B led by Grab.
  • Nikkei Asia profiles Siam Commercial Bank subsidiary SCB Abacus, which leveraged AI to delivery the country’s first fully digital lending platform using alternative data.
  • A look at how fintech can enable communities in the Philippines to “navigate the new normal.”

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Kuda, a digital bank based in Nigeria, secures $10 million in seed funding.
  • South African’s FinChatBot locks in $1.6 million in funding to fuel expansion to Europe and West Africa.
  • Nigeria’s Paystack announces pilot phase of its payment solution in South Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Elbrus Capital and Winter Capital announce investment in Russian financial marketplace,
  • Enterprise connectivity platform Yapily to expand to Germany.
  • German fintech auxmoney secures investment from French bank BNP Paribas. The amount of the funding was not disclosed.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels

FinovateWest’s Investor All Star Panel on Tomorrow’s Fintech Trends

What trends are likely to drive fintech funding in 2021? Which sectors in fintech are most likely to produce the next fintech unicorn or the next big fintech IPO? What are the key factors that startups and entrepreneurs need to keep in mind when it comes to securing investment, driving growth, and developing constructive partnerships with fellow fintechs and industry incumbents?

In less than two weeks our Investor All Star Showcase at FinovateWest Digital will answer all these questions and more. Featuring five professionals involved in helping fintech startups get the capital they need, our Investor All Star Showcase is a must-attend event at a conference you won’t want to miss.

Check out our All Star Quintet below.

Joel Brightfield, Principal, SixThirty. Brightfield leads the investment activities of SixThirty, a global early stage venture capital fund and go-to-market program.

Andrew Casey, Director of Corporate Development, Fidelity Investments. Casey is involved with organic growth opportunities focused on investments and acquisitions.

Isabelle Freidheim, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Starwood VC. Freidheim is a fintech venture capital investor and repeat fintech entrepreneur. She invests in high growth fintechs in the U.S. and, previously, in Europe.

Arvind Purushotham, Global Head, Venture Investing, Citi Ventures. Purushotham leads Citi’s efforts to invest in and partner with startups as a way to bring technology-based innovation to Citi’s businesses.

Greg Shepard, Founder and CEO, BOSS Capital Partners. Shepard is an upcoming author and angel investor with a legacy of building and running sustainable growth businesses.

Moderated by Ansaf Kareem of Lightspeed Venture Partners, our Investor All Star panel at FinovateWest Digital will give you a 30,000 foot view of the critical trends in fintech going forward, as well as a look at the availability of capital in a post-COVID world.

To save your spot at our upcoming, all-digital event, November 23 through November 25, visit our FinovateWest Digital hub today. Take advantage of big savings if your register this week!

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Progress Bank Partners with Digital Receipt Management Firm Sensibill

Progress Bank, a $1.4 billion asset financial institution that serves businesses in Alabama and the Florida panhandle, has teamed up with Sensibill to offer its digital receipt management solution to its business customers. Sensibill leverages AI and machine learning to provide SKU-level transaction data to help businesses better manage their finances and enable banks to better customize offerings to their business customers.

“We have long been dedicated to providing a seamless, convenient experience for our busy business customers, and partnering with Sensibill directly supports that strategy,” Progress Bank SVP of Operations, Finance, and Technology Randy Tidwell said. “With Sensibill, we are modernizing and digitizing receipt and expense management, a traditionally cumbersome and time-consuming process. This ultimately helps our customers save time, reduce stress, and manage their personal and business finances more easily. As businesses look to navigate the pandemic’s lasting impacts, digital tools like these become even more critical to provide meaningful support.”

Progress Bank sees the addition of Sensibill’s technology as a way to reach out to businesses that cannot or prefer not to visit a branch. Progress Bank will run Sensibill’s solution via its FIS Digital One platform, enabling its business customers to capture and store receipts on their digital banking apps. Once digitized, receipt data can be readily analyzed to track spending and better manage overall finances.

“Relationship-focused institutions like Progress Bank understand the importance of providing customers with quick and intuitive digital tools to help them better manage everyday spend,” Sensibill CEO and co-founder Corey Gross said. “By leveraging our technology, the bank’s customers eliminate the time and hassle of keeping up with and analyzing paper receipts, leading to easier tax seasons and expense management.”

Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based Sensibill earned a Best of Show award in its Finovate debut at FinovateFall 2017. The company returned to the Finovate stage a year later for a demonstration in partnership with NatWest. Since then, Sensibill has partnered with JPMorgan to have its technology integrated into the Chase mobile banking app. The firm has also collaborated with Metro Bank, which went live with Sensibill’s digital receipt management solution over the summer. More recently, Sensibill earned a spot on The Globe and Mail’s Top Growing Companies in Canada list for 2020.

Founded in 2013, Sensibill has raised more than $55 million in funding from investors including Radical Ventures, Information Venture Partners, and First Ascent Ventures.

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