NYMBUS Helps Launch Neobank; An Investment Banker Talks Fintech

Cloud banking platform provider NYMBUS, which demonstrated its SmartLaunch banking-as-a-service solution at FinovateFall last year, has partnered with Pacific National Bank (PNB) to help the Florida-based company launch a digital-only bank, FACILE.

“We knew we had to act fast to meet the rising consumer demand for digital banking services,” Pacific National Bank CEO Carlos Fernandez-Guzman said. “Only NYMBUS could immediately offer us a proven, unified solution that delivers on-demand access to their wide-range of digital-first technology products combined with a 24/7/365 live call center and remote business process management support.”

The new offering from Pacific National Bank, an institution with more than $656 million in assets, is designed to provide on the kind of online and mobile banking services that young professionals increasingly demand. FACILE will offer both digital checking and savings accounts on a fee-free basis. Accountholders can make mobile transfers and payments, take advantage of personal financial management tools and resources, and access a network of fee-free ATMs. The account also comes with a debit card that features card controls for both better security and keeping spending at a manageable level.

Headquartered in Miami Beach, Florida and founded in 2015 by Scott Killoh, NYMBUS has raised more than $33 million in funding. The company began the year teaming up with PeoplesBank, a Massachusetts-based financial institution with assets of more than $2.9 billion, that deployed both NYMBUS’ SmartMarketing and SmartOnboarding solutions. “NYMBUS will integrate key aspects of our marketing, onboarding, and CRM ecosystems,” PeoplesBank president and CEO Tom Senecal said. “Together with instant end-to-end reporting that crosses business lines, we will ultimately be setup to strategically course correct future spending for even greater outcomes.”

Finovate Podcast Interviews Steve McLaughlin of FT Partners

In the latest edition of the Finovate Podcast, host Greg Palmer catches up with Steve McLaughlin, founder, CEO, and managing partner at Financial Technology Partners. Launched in 2001, FT Partners, as it is known, is the only investment banking firm dedicated solely to fintech. The company has been recognized by the M&A Advisor as “Dealmaker of the Year” and “Investment Banking Firm of the Year.”

Greg and Steve talk about the fintech industry from the perspective of an investment banker. They discuss the issue of capital availability, company valuation, and the idea of a harsher grading rubric for fintech.

Here is the latest news from our Finovate alums:

  • ThetaRay launches FAST START to help banks fight cybercrime during Covid-19.
  • Capita Consulting leverages low-code technology from Outsystems.
  • Minna Technologies launches pilot with Tatra banka in Slovakia.
  • SaltEdge’s new solution helps banks get exempted by the regulator from providing a fallback channel.
  • Token.io’s payments API to power open banking payment services for Upco’s Mobile Messenger.
  • DriveWealth to integrate with Access Softek’s new investing app, EasyVest.
  • ACI Worldwide to provide e-commerce payment processing for retail payments platform, Wundr.
  • Payment processor Trustly teams up with Ecommpay to offer three months of free processing.
  • Finastra launches its Fusion Credit Connect solution on Salesforce AppExchange, FusionFabric.Cloud.
  • Boku powers direct carrier billing and e-wallet payment services for Korean game developer Pearl Abyss Corporation.
  • MX launches Audiences, a new segment builder tool to help banks improve marketing efforts.
  • ID R&D releases IDFraud Contact Center to address subscription fraud in the contact center.
  • DriveWealth to bring U.S. stock investing to India-based INDmoney clients.
  • Coinbase plans to be a “remote-first” company after COVID-19.
  • Fiserv to power P2P payments for Redstone FCU.
  • Ethoca and Mastercard partner to help retailers deal with chargebacks and fraud during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Kabbage receives SBA approval to fund PPP applications totaling more than $3.5 billion.
  • FIS launches iQ Now, a mobile app for SMEs that enables owners to monitor real-time business performance.
  • WorldRemit teams up with Onfido to enhance the identity verification component of its onboarding processes.
  • iProov to bring its biometric authentication technology to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS).
  • Xero partners with online small business bank Relay to offer real-time visibility of cash flow.

Finovate Alum Features and Profiles

Visa Backs GoodData in New Strategic Partnership and Investment – The collaboration includes an investment in the global analytics company and is designed to enable Visa to offer its customers and partners better access to aggregated data and analytics.

Plaid Exchange Offers Open Banking in a Box – The new tool, Plaid Exchange, offers banks a way to provide open banking connectivity to their clients while keeping their clients’ data safe and giving them control of their data.

Counter-intuitive Brilliance: Zafin’s Strategy for Success in Trying Times – How is Zafin helping banks and other financial institutions cope with the current environment?

Alums Assemble! A Look at Finovate Merger and Acquisition Activity in H1 2020 – Here is our quick rundown of some of the biggest M&A action from our Finovate alums so far in 2020.

India Tops China in Fintech Investment in Q1 2020

China is dominating geopolitical headlines – from the country’s unique challenge with COVID-19 to tensions with Hong Kong and the United States as Chinese leaders gather for the country’s annual National People’s Congress.

But fintech observers would do well to consider developments in China’s neighbor to the southwest, India, whose fintech sector continues to challenge China’s in terms of investment.

In the first quarter of 2020, fintech investment in India again outpaced fintech investment in China. GlobalData, a data and analytics company, released an analysis this week that showed Q1 2020 fintech investment in China came in at “approximately $270 million” while, in India, fintech investment in the first quarter of this year topped $330 million. GlobalData analyst Ayushi Tandon noted that the global pandemic had played a role in dampening VC enthusiasm for fintech investment overall this year so far, and that India had benefitted on a relative basis from this easing of investor passions.

Deal volume showed the same preferences in the first quarter, with 26 deals closed in China in Q1 compared to 37 deals in India.

VC investment in the two countries differed in terms of startup maturity and sub-sector, as well. In China, there has been more investment in cross-sector fintech startups that were looking to scale. In India, payments and lending were the top sectors, and seed funding dominated the quarter’s investments. GlobalData’s report noted that fintechs involved in analytics were the biggest recipients of VC funding in both nations.

India’s fintech industry certainly had the wind in its sails coming into this year. According to research from Accenture, investment in Indian fintechs grew from $1.9 billion over 193 deals in 2018 to $3.7 billion over 198 deals in 2019. The country began to successfully compete with China in terms of fintech investment last year.

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in London, U.K., GlobalData was formed by a consortium of established data and analytics providers. Covering a wide range of industries – from banking and payments to insurance, aerospace, and technology – GlobalData serves financial institutions, government agencies, and corporations, providing thought leadership and analysis, as well as proprietary analytic frameworks to help them make data-driven decisions.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • NEC Payments and stc Bahrain, a telecommunications company based in Bahrain, partner to launch new virtual prepaid Mastercard offering.
  • JinglePay, neobank based in Dubai, announces plans for launch.
  • Emirates NBD collaborates with proptech startup Urban to offer financing program for property rentals in UAE.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Lendingkart, an online lender based in India, raised more than $42 million in Series D funding.
  • Indian SME accounting app Khatabook raises $60 million in Series C funding.
  • SadaPay, a fintech based in Pakistan, wins approval to launch a mobile wallet.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazil unveils new regulations enabling banks, payments institutions, and other licensed companies to share customer data.
  • Koibanx, a fintech based in Argentina, announces plans to expand to Mexico.
  • Colombian lender ADDI raises $15 million in round led by Quona Capital.


  • Philippines-based mobile wallet GCash to support cashless payments system for taxi service in Manila.
  • Samsung Pay and Malaysia-based e-wallet Boost team up to support cashless payments in Malaysia.
  • Ant Financial invests $73.5 million in mobile financial services company Wave Money.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African business payments platform Peach Payments locks in growth funding with investment round led by UW Ventures.
  • Nigerian fintech Carbon goes live with new social banking service.
  • CompariSure, a fintech startup from South Africa, raises funding from UW Ventures.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Billon partners with Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) to pilot a DLT-based national currency.
  • EU Startups features CEE fintechs Crypterium, Humaniq, Revolut, and ANNA in its list of promising startups with Russian founders.
  • Financier Worldwide looks at AML and financial crime in Romania.

Top image designed by Freepik

Ethical AI, Corporate Governance, and the Future of Financial Services

For every conversation about AI that begins with insects, moves quickly through primates, and then launches into the stratosphere of high-minded conceptions of superintelligence, talk about artificial intelligence among executives and entrepreneurs in the financial services and fintech world is far more grounded.

This was the message from Clara Durodié, CEO of the Cognitive Finance Group and author of Decoding AI in Financial Services: Business Implications for Boards and Professionals. Among the more provocative speakers at our conference in Berlin earlier this year, Durodié is likely to make an equally strong impression in her return to Finovate as part of our all-digital FinovateAsia conference in July.

“Technology is a tool to support the business, not a toy to engage and have fun in excellence centers,” she announced early in her address to our FinovateEurope audience. “Technology in our industry is a serious tool. (Technology) needs to follow business strategy, not the other way around.” She likened the responsibility to use technology ethically and with purpose to the responsibility of earning a license to drive. Durodié made it clear that, like a driver and a passenger sitting side by side in a moving vehicle, both technology creators and technology users stand to benefit from a commitment to responsible behavior.

Businesses that embrace a more ethical approach to technology – especially a technology as powerful as AI – are also those that are most likely and able to transition away from what Durodié has called a “product-centric” today to a “customer-centric” tomorrow. She has pointed out that AI can be a powerful tool for personalization in business contexts, while simultaneously enabling companies to move to a qualitatively and quantitatively new level in terms of automated business processes.

“The work we do is around deployment of ethnical AI for business growth and profitability.”

Who makes sure this happens? While the immediate onus is clearly on the business leader, CEO, or founder, Durodié emphasized that much of the business’ leadership will – or should – come from its board of directors, particularly in high-level areas like corporate governance, business strategy, and fiduciary responsibility, where ethical guidance is paramount. “This is challenge number one,” she said of startups and their relationship with their board of directors.

And not just any board of directors. Durodié referenced a study from MIT that indicated that simply having one individual with a “technology” background on a board of directors improved the likelihood that the company working with that board would yield 38% return on assets on a yearly basis. “And if you compound that every year,” Durodié added, “you can see why the people who actually do things right from the beginning will be ahead of the game.”

For Durodié, the conversation on governance is intimately linked (“married forever”) with the conversation on ethics, and it is important that companies develop processes and systems that are “explainable, auditable, and accountable.” This is especially important when the data involved is financial data, and when the technologies to be deployed against this data are as powerful as AI.

“Financial data on our customers is highly sensitive. And we need to treat it as such and protect it as such,” Durodié said. She noted that the companies that will succeed in effectively deploying AI will understand this challenge, and have the moral compass to build tools that are “robust and helpful.” “Algorithms have parents,” she noted. “Every bias, every conditioning we have, comes through the way we generate the data and design systems. It’s very important.”

Check out Clara Durodié’s keynote address from FinovateEurope. And visit our FinovateAsia page to learn more about her upcoming participation in our all-digital, fintech summer conference in July.

Cognitive Finance Group is a specialist consultancy that advises boards of directors on best practices in the adoption, selection, and implementation of AI-based systems.

Visa Backs GoodData in New Strategic Partnership and Investment

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

San Francisco, California-based company GoodData, which demoed its Insights-Platform-as-a-Service technology at FinovateFall, has forged a strategic partnership with Visa. The collaboration includes an investment in the global analytics company (terms not disclosed) and is designed to enable Visa to offer its customers and partners better access to aggregated data and analytics.

GoodData founder and CEO Roman Stanek said that the investment both reinforced the company’s status as a leader in all-in-one data platforms, as well as bolstered GoodData’s mission to enable companies to maximize the way they use data. “Visa’s investment will allow us to increase our focus on interactive self-service analytics, user interfaces, and data visualizations, as well as expand our customer support for managing complex data governance, compliance, cybersecurity, and privacy matters,” Stanek said.

GoodData offers an integrated set of data management, analytics, and insight application development and management components that enhance operational decision-making for financial services companies and insurance agencies. Companies can connect the GoodData platform to multiple data sources in order to build their own standalone or embedded smart business apps.

Visa put the partnership in the context of finding opportunity in the middle of a crisis. “As the world faces pandemic and economic challenges, there’s no better time to invest in areas that will improve the lives of consumers and businesses,” Visa SVP and global head of Data, Security, and Identity products Melissa McSherry said. She added that the insights available via the GoodData platform will not only help Visa’s customers better meet consumer needs, but also will help firms meet them at a time “when those needs are changing fast.”

Before this week’s funding, GoodData had raised more than $115 million, with the company’s last fundraising bringing in $14.4 million in 2018. Earlier this year, GoodData announced that media CMS provider TownNews had partnered with the company to use its data analytics tools to improve revenue and audience engagement. Named one of the Coolest Business Analytics Companies in CRN’s 2020 Big Data 100 roster, GoodData also this month unveiled a new, web-based logical data model (LDM) modeler. This tool complements the company’s just-released, data source management interface to simplify data modeling when starting new data products or extending current enterprise reporting. Critically, the new LDM modeler helps data engineers and data analysts work more effectively together. GoodData co-founder and VP of Product & Marketing called this problem “the greatest challenge facing enterprises building new data products for customers.”

Raisin Launches Savings-as-a-Service Solution in the U.S.

Photo by Naim Benjelloun from Pexels

European wealth management firm Raisin is bringing its Savings-as-a-Service solution to the U.S. The new offering, the first U.S.-based product from the Berlin-based fintech, will enable banks and credit unions to provide private-banking services typically not available to the average banking customer.

Foremost, FIs that partner with Raisin will be able to leverage the company’s technology to quickly build custom retail deposit products. These products include market-linked solutions that enable customers to benefit from a resurgence in economic activity while at the same time providing 100% FDIC deposit insurance up to $250,000. Banks and credit unions can also create deposit products with dynamic features such as laddering, and ones that can be optimized for profitability or other individual preferences.

“Given the current economic uncertainty, financial institutions want a share of the big increase in deposits, but many don’t have the technological tools to optimize or meet customers’ current needs,” Raisin U.S. CEO Paul Kodel explained. He said that in order for banks and credit unions to help rekindle the economy, they will need to be able to offer a wider range of solutions. “Banks need affordable products that enable customers to stabilize their assets now, and then also grow with a recovery,” Kodel said.

Raisin Communications Manager Maggie Bell noted that the company’s new offering comes at a time of increased opportunity in deposit products for financial institutions. She cited data from the Federal Reserve indicating that while commercial bank deposit market volume had grown by more than 10% since the beginning of the year, deposits spiked from $13.5 trillion to nearly $15 trillion between the second week of March and the third week of April. Additionally, deposits could represent a significant part of the refinancing mix for banks, Bell wrote, “especially as bonds have become more cost-intensive within the last two months.”

With 92 partner banks, more than 260,000 customers and €23 billion in assets invested, Raisin was founded in 2012. The company provides access to guaranteed deposit products from across Europe and, in Germany, offers diversified, cost-effective exchange-traded fund (ETF) portfolios and pension products. Named a top five European fintech by the FinTech 50 awards, Raisin is backed by investors including Goldman Sachs, PayPal Ventures, Thrive Capital, and Index Ventures.

Counter-intuitive Brilliance: Zafin’s Strategy for Success in Trying Times

Photo by Burak K from Pexels

A global product and pricing solution provider for banks, Zafin finished 2019 with a new Salesforce integration and began this year with a major change at the top: adding financial services veteran Venkataraman Balasubramanian (known informally as “Bala”) as the company’s new Chief Technology Officer.

Balasubramanian arrived at the Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based company at a time of major innovation in the financial services industry – as well as a time of significant disruption in the everyday lives of people all over the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. How is Zafin helping banks and other financial institutions cope with the current environment? How do some of the most compelling technology innovations of our time – from advanced machine learning and AI to the blockchain and Big Data – give innovators the tools they need to find new solutions to old – and new – problems? We talk with “Bala” about all this and more in our latest Finovate Alumni profile.

Finovate: You have only been at Zafin for a month or two. How are you finding your new position? Any surprises?

Venkataraman Balasubramanian: It has been an incredible first few months for me here at Zafin. First and foremost, I find myself in the midst of a very talented group of people: engineers, business and technical analysts, a robust management team, and a very dedicated client success team. The depth of these teams is a testament to the value our clients see in our products. 

Counter-intuitive yet brilliant has been the approach our management team has taken during these very trying times: to continue to bring in strong talent that will put us in a strong position coming out of this period of economic uncertainty.

Zafin was among the first to move to protect our employees by requiring all to work remotely. Our employees have access to extra “care days” for this year as a benefit. Recognition that the safety and well-being of our team is paramount to our client success is unusual to see in a business our size and one we continue to focus on.

Finovate: You have more than 35 years of experience in financial services and information technology. What attracted you to Zafin?

Balasubramanian: Digital was here to stay even before our current crisis. It is now even more so cemented in our everyday lives. This aspect of digital, however, goes far beyond the creation of experiences into the digitization of entire workflows — propositions that resonate in this context with a cloud-first service architecture, enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The implementation of such a system typically requires truly digital fintech partners (such as Zafin) and services integration (SI) partners. Having spent considerable time with SI partners in my prior roles, I felt that the timing is appropriate to work with a specific digital enabler. Zafin provided that opportunity in that its solution truly enables a digital transformation of the customer experience across the entire customer relationship and banks’ business lines.  

Finovate: What are some of the things you are most eager to accomplish in your first year as CTO?

Balasubramanian: We are a cloud-based solution today, and I would like for us to be a multi-cloud solution in a manner that is unique. We are currently defining that framework, and I hope to get it to completion during the year. 

In the era of digital transformation, core systems transformation will progress considerably. To that end, I expect to work with both existing core providers and transformational core providers to enable a “Bank-in-a-Box,” with a modernized core and externalized cross-product layers that enable product, pricing, and billing functionalities. Further, we will look to incorporate AI/ML capabilities into our solution to create proactive end-user interfaces. 

Finovate: What are some of the most significant changes in the banking industry going on right now and what role is Zafin playing to help banks and other financial institutions successfully navigate these changes?

Balasubramanian: COVID-19 has redefined life as we know it, and financial services are no exception. Whether it is social distancing, phased restarts of the economy, or just the uncertainty that this virus has created, it has made us all think about the experiences we want in our everyday lives. Naturally, this means digitizing many facets of those experiences. 

We want payments to be contactless and frictionless. We want highly relevant products and offers that seek to simplify our lives. From a banking perspective, Zafin works with banks to digitize the product lifecycle and its applicability to pricing and billing by injecting the customer and relationship context. We also enable banks with a cross-product layer that allows the centralization of product variants across the various systems. These are fundamental building blocks as a bank strives to digitize customer journeys.

Finovate: There are a number of enabling technologies that are helping drive innovation in fintech right now: AI, Big Data, blockchain, machine learning, and so on. Which technologies do you believe are being leveraged most effectively in the industry and how?

Balasubramanian: Each of these enabling technologies is at various stages of maturity, depending on the use case. Blockchain has great applicability not merely as a decentralized ledger, but also in immutability. Yet, that set of applications has some adoption in capital markets and not quite yet in other facets of the industry. Community creation has been a major impediment to its success. 

Big Data, AI and ML have a slightly more nuanced twist: These require a considerable upfront investment in terms of data and infrastructure, hypothesis creation, testing and validation to produce a result. This will likely only be valuable if it is integrated into the delivery system — otherwise, it may turn out to be nothing more than an interesting experiment. 

As these technologies and usage mature, they will prove more valuable. The discontinuity that the current situation creates allows for value systems to be re-arranged, and, in so doing, I believe many more interesting use cases will be discovered.

Finovate: Tell us more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Zafin and the work it does? How is it impacting you and your work, having just arrived at the company?

Balasubramanian: If there was one major surprise for me that I didn’t answer in the very first question, it is this. We were among the first companies to transition our entire workforce to a remote setup. We rapidly implemented technologies to enhance internal collaboration and client communication. Working remotely may have impeded my own ability to get to know my team personally (as I would have typically done), but given the circumstances, our transition has been about as seamless as it could have been. 

In some cases, COVID-19 has accelerated banks’ plans for digital transformation. Based on the volume and nature of conversations we’re having with banks and partners, if anything, the interest in and demand for what we offer has only increased over the past few months. 

As much as we hope for the return to what we knew as “normal”, we are also certain that a new normal will emerge. And we think we are well prepared for that.

Alums Assemble! A Look at Finovate Merger and Acquisition Activity in H1 2020

Visa’s acquisition of Plaid for $5.3 billion at the beginning of the year set a high mark for mergers and acquisitions among Finovate alums in 2020. How have subsequent deals among our alums in the fintech space measured up?

Unfortunately, many M&A deals keep their financials well under wraps, which makes comparisons difficult. But we can take a look at some of the brighter lights in the merger and acquisition sky, and gain some sense of just how big some of these fintech stars truly are.

Looking at the first few months of the year, we have no figures for the four alums that were acquired in the first half of 2020. Of the acquirers, however, two deals stick out, rivaling the Visa/Plaid purchase in January: Intuit’s $7.1 billion buy of Credit Karma, and Worldline’s decision to put down $8.6 billion for Ingenico.

Below is our quick rundown of some of the biggest M&A action from our Finovate alums so far in 2020.

The Acquired

  • Emailage acquired by LexisNexis Risk Solutions. May 7.
  • Arxan merged with CollabNet VersionOne and XebiaLabs to form new company, Digital.ai. April 17.
  • IdentityMind Global acquired by Acuant. April 1.

The Acquirers

  • SoFi acquired Galileo in $1.2 billion deal. April 7.
  • Tink acquired Eurobits Technologies. March 29.
  • Fiserv acquired Bypass Mobile. March 18.
  • DocuSign acquired Seal Software in $188 million deal. March 1.
  • Intuit acquired Credit Karma in $7.1 billion deal. February 28.
  • Envestnet | Yodlee acquired FinBit.io. February 25.
  • Lending Club acquired Radius Bank. February 19.
  • Worldline acquired Ingenico for $8.6 billion. February 3.

If you are a Finovate alum that was involved in a merger or acquisition in the first half of 2020, and do not see your company listed, please drop us a note at research@finovate.com. We would love to share the good news! M&A activity prior to becoming an alum not included.

nCino Drives Digital Banking in Sweden; Access Softek Unveils Roboadvisory Tool

Cloud banking innovator nCino has picked up another partner. The Wilmington, North Carolina company – which made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2017 – has teamed up with Swedish SME lender Yourban. The firm will deploy the nCino Bank Operating System to power its SME lending operations.

“Our vision for Yourban was to create an institution that could be in place for the long-term,” Yourban CEO and founder Marthin Larsson explained. “With this in mind, we wanted to partner with a technology provider that could adapt and scale our operations as we expand firstly across Sweden and then Europe.”

nCino’s Banking Operating System leverages the Salesforce platform to deliver an end-to-end banking solution that enables banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to grow market share, meet compliance obligations and boost profitability. The cloud-based platform combines CRM, ECM, loan origination, workflow, business intelligence and reporting in a single, digitally-optimized experience, providing greater security, efficiency, as well as time- and cost-savings.

“In a competitive SME lending market, Yourban understands the need to provide customers with an unparalleled digital experience,” nCino VP of Sales, EMEA Edward Lane said. “We’re excited to be helping Yourban achieve its goals at such a critical time in its lifecycle.”

With the company’s SME loan business as a starting point, the partnership between nCino and Yourban is designed to expand to include additional product offerings as the lender’s business grows.

Two years ago, Access Softek demonstrated its white label roboadvisory technology at FinovateFall in New York. Last week, the company announced the launch of its latest roboadvisory solution, EasyVest. The new offering provides investors with an automated personal investment advisor that seamlessly connects with bank, credit union, and mobile banking platforms.

“Over the next decade, America will experience the largest generational transfer of wealth we’ve ever seen as Baby Boomers pass along their assets to their children and grandchildren,” Access Softek founder and CEO Chris Doner said. “Robo-advisors especially appeal to the generations receiving the wealth transfer. Financial institutions that provide the technology recipients want will benefit from the transfer.”

Investors can use EasyVest to build wealth via a variety of low-cast exchange-traded fund portfolios. The technology supports individual and retirement accounts, conducts automatic portfolio rebalancing, and supports fractional share purchases. Investors can open an account with as little as $200.

Finovate Podcast Interviews Jim Bruene

In the latest episode of the Finovate podcast, host Greg Palmer talks with Jim Bruene, founder of the Online Banking Report – the first and longest lasting specialty information publication for the digital banking industry. Bruene is currently a Principal at Fintech Labs UX, a firm that collaborates with banks, credit unions, and fintechs to improve ROI.

Bruene is also the “Father of Finovate,” having founded the fintech conference series in 1994. In this podcast conversation, he talks about the third recession of the fintech era, how to apply lessons learned from the dot.com crash, the Great Recession, and the COVID-19 crisis.

Here is the latest news from our Finovate alums.

  • Overbond introduces live ETF NAV pricing.
  • Jack Henry to automate lending for Kentucky’s Commonwealth Credit Union.
  • Nordea goes live with new account aggregation and #PFM management tools from Tink.
  • NICE Actimize extends its strategic collaboration with Infosys to provide end-to-end financial crime management.
  • Hive selects ID R&D for passive facial liveness.
  • FalconPro Technology selects Redrock Biometrics to co-develop a palm-based biometric identification solution for mass transportation.
  • Trulioo adds new features to its EmbedID developer tool.
  • Daon extends partnership with ForgeRock to bring multi-factor authentication and digital onboarding to ForgeRock authentication trees.
  • Featurespace to grow behavioral analytics with fresh $37.4 million round.
  • nanopay to power self-service international payments for Brazil-based Treviso.
  • Envestnet provides new integrated unified managed account (UMA) platform to Canaccord Genuity Group.
  • Washington Trust Bank deploys digital account opening technology from Terafina.
  • Prolific London interviews Datasine CEO Igor Volzhanin.
  • Eigen Technologies announces new Chief Customer Officer David Brooks.
  • Infosys Finacle inks joint partnership agreement with Traydstream to drive automation in trade finance.
  • Thomson Reuters partners with Path Solutions to add automation and greater efficiency to tax workflows and core banking processes.
  • Fiserv launches new feature of its Clover POS platform, Clover Online Ordering, to help restaurants more easily serve take-out customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Jumio brings its online identity verification technology to Mobiquity’s digital onboarding service.
  • Salt Edge introduces new feature for third party providers that streamlines PSD2 onboarding with banks.
  • Tradeshift partners with Denmark’s ECA Eksport Kredit Fonden on supply chain finance program for businesses.
  • Caixabank introduces new mentoring program for female entrepreneurs and SME founders.
  • TransUnion announces partnership with Horizon Media to support digital identity initiative.
  • Payoneer partners with banking app ANNA to help SMEs and freelancers receive international payments in U.S. dollars or Euros.
  • Blytzpay forges strategic partnership with AFS Dealers.
  • Yukka Lab earns spot in the F10 Scaleup Program.
  • Avaloq extends contract with First Abu Dhabi Bank Switzerland.
  • ClickSWITCH and Deluxe partner to offer a digital deposit solution for FIs.
  • Tavant launches new machine learning-based conditioning management and decisioning solution for Ellie Mae’s digital lending platform, Encompass.

Finovate Alumni Features and Profiles

Big Bank Meets Big Bitcoin: JPMorgan Partners with Gemini and Coinbase – This week the Wall Street Journal reported that JPMorgan had established an official banking relationship with two cryptocurrency exchanges: Gemini and long-time Finovate alum Coinbase

eToro Reaches 13 Million Users, Spurred by COVID-19 – The U.K.-based company recently announced it has now reached 13 million active users.

Featurespace to Grow Behavioral Analytics with Fresh $37.4 Million Round – Behavioral analytics technology provider Featurespace announced today that it closed a $37.4 million (£30 million) round of funding.

FIS Unveils Portal to Help SMEs Access PPP Loan Forgiveness – This portal, available to FIs and merchants participating in the SBA’s PPP, automates and streamlines the process of applying for loan forgiveness under the provisions of the new program.

Ephesoft Brings Power of Context to Accounts Payable with Semantik Invoice – The new data acquisition solution from Ephesoft will bring 97% accuracy and 30% cost-savings to companies looking for ways to enhance their accounts payable processes.

Eltropy and Prisma Campaigns Help Credit Unions Better Engage Members – Text messaging platform Eltropy and omnichannel marketing innovator Prisma Campaigns have teamed up to help credit unions communicate more effectively with their customers.

China and Ghana Reflect Rise of QR Codes as Cash Alternative

QR code payments may not inherit the earth. But they may be one of the key technologies developing countries can leverage in order to bring both untaxed merchants and underbanked consumers into their formal national economies.

These are some of the top level conclusions reached in the report – QR Code Developments May Disrupt the Disrupters – from Mercator Advisory Group published late last year. The author, Brian Riley, credited three factors: better authentication, centralized clearance, and improvements to the payments network as giving QR codes renewed viability as a payment acceptance option in some markets.

The convenience of QR (Quick Response) codes as a payment option is clear. They are a fast, easy-to-use compliment to mobile commerce that requires little to no equipment. Armed with a QR code scanning app, their ubiquitous mobile devices and their cameras, consumers can make in-person purchases without relying on cash or physical cards. QR codes also have shown promise as an option for ecommerce, as well.

Adoption of QR code based mobile payments has been modest in markets in the West, such as the U.S. and the U.K. However in regions like the Asia-Pacific, QR code usage has soared. Greg Geng, VP of Tencent’s WeChat Business Group told CNBC last fall that in China, “payment methods using QR codes have replaced cash and cards in just five years.” In fact, the country is now making headlines for the way it is leveraging its affection for QR codes to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The news from Ghana this week is further evidence that QR codes continue to prove their mettle. A subsidiary of Ghana’s national bank, Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has partnered with global payments solution provider HPS to launch its Universal QR Code and Proxy Pay platform. The solution will enable consumers to make instant payments from mobile wallets, cards, and bank accounts by scanning QR codes with their mobile devices.

Ghana is a pioneer in this regard, being the first country in Africa to introduce a national, QR code payment system. The initiative is believed to be a part of the country’s attempt to transition toward significantly less reliance on cash. “At this time, our quest toward a modern, cashless society is more important than ever and we are proud to be the first African country to implement this universal QR code solution,” GhIPSS CEO Archie Hesse said. “HPS has delivered an agile, comprehensive solution during a time of global crisis and we can foresee incredible benefits.”

Abdeslam Alaoui Smaili, HPS CEO, echoed Hesse’s sentiments about the power of QR codes to support a move away from paper currency, calling the initiative “an important part to a long-term goal of a cashless society.”

HPS offers a comprehensive suite of solutions, PowerCARD, that covers the entire payment value chain and enables its partners to process payments regardless of channel or initiated means-of-payment. With more than 400 institutions in 90+ countries using HPS’ technology, the company was founded in 1995 and maintains offices in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Billon announced blockchain-based proof of concept with Polish electric company Tauron.
  • Euromoney looks at how finechs in the CEE region are benefitting as consumers opt for digital payments rather than cash.
  • Silicon Canals features Ukrainian fintech startups that are “taking the industry to the next level.”

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Dubai-based Spotii goes live in UAE with its Shop Now Pay Later platform.
  • Egyptian digital lender Shahry locks in $650,000 in pre-seed funding.
  • Securrency forges strategic partnership with investment management and banking company, Musharaka Capital, to develop digital asset issuance platform in Saudi Arabia.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Partnership between MoneyGram and India’s Federal Bank to bring a direct-to-bank-account credit solution to Indian consumers.
  • Uzbekistan president pledges reform of banking system, including the privatization of six bank.
  • Indian cryptocurrency exchange Shiftal to leverage digital identity verification technology from Yoti to support compliant customer onboarding.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexico’s Flux partners with Bonnuscard, Moneypool, and Cuando Volvamos to enable businesses to offer pre-paid digital gift cards.
  • Financial inclusion-based accelerator makes its Latin American debut with a launch in Mexico.
  • SME payments company Kushki goes live in Mexico, having already expanded to Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Peru.


  • Validus, a Singapore-based P2P lending platform, raises another $20 million in Series B+ funding ahead of its expansion into Thailand.
  • Indonesia’s Pintek, which helps students and educational institutions alike access credit, raises an undisclosed amount of funding from Accion Ventures Lab.
  • Fintech News Singapore features the top ten fintech companies in the Philippines.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Voyance, a data science startup based in Nigeria, launches fintech fraud tracking database, Sigma.
  • South African cryptocurrency exchange Altcoin Trader enables instant EFT withdrawals from any bank account.
  • WeeTracker looks at the strength of the wealthtech component of Kenya’s fintech industry.

Top image designed by Freepik

Big Bank Meets Big Bitcoin: JPMorgan Partners with Gemini and Coinbase

Blame it on the halving?

This week the Wall Street Journal reported that JPMorgan had established an official banking relationship with two cryptocurrency exchanges: Gemini and long-time Finovate alum Coinbase. JPMorgan is not going all-in on crypto; the agreement calls for the bank to process only the exchange’s fiat-based transactions. Nevertheless, the partnership is a notable milestone in the relationship between big banks and the bitcoin business.

The news is interesting for a variety of reasons. For one, JPMorgan CEO and Jamie Dimon has been a notorious critic of, if not all cryptocurrencies, then at least bitcoin. In 2017, Dimon called bitcoin “a fraud,” adding that bitcoin is “worse than tulip bulbs. It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed.” He has since moderated his critique, and his bank, like most other major financial institutions, are piloting various initiatives that use bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology – even if not embracing bitcoin itself. That said, last year the bank announced the creation of a JPM Coin that can be used as a digital token to instantly settle transactions. The initiative was the first real-world use of a digital coin by a major bank in the U.S.

The partnership news also comes just after the bitcoin halving, in which the reward for mining BTC transactions is reduced by 50% in order to manage supply. This week’s process is the third in the cryptocurrency’s history; bitcoin was halved first in 2012 and again in 2016. After the most recent halving four years ago, bitcoin saw significant price appreciation, climbing from approximately $650 that July to nearly $20,000 a year and a half later. And while the halving has helped draw renewed attention to cryptocurrencies as alternative stores of value, few anticipate bitcoin making the same kind of post-halving run this time around as it did in 2016.

Whether or not JP Morgan will seek out other customers in the cryptocurrency industry remains to be seen. One advantage both Gemini and Coinbase have is that they are among the most heavily regulated cryptocurrency exchanges in the U.S. Both have earned BitLicenses from the New York State Department of Financial Services, and are registered as money services with FinCEN. These may prove to be high hurdles for many other crypto businesses.

Coinbase made its Finovate debut in 2014 at our west coast conference. Founded two years earlier, the company has raised more than $547 million in funding, and had an estimated global revenue of approximately $520 million in 2018 according to Reuters. Since inception, Coinbase has facilitated the exchange of $150 billion in cryptocurrencies, and served more than 30 million customers in 102 countries.

FIS Unveils Portal to Help SMEs Access PPP Loan Forgiveness

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

There may be no second acts in politics. But with the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) rolling out the next phase in its loan forgiveness initiative for SMEs, it’s good to see that the economic rescue plan has another shot at getting it right.

We chronicled some of the challenges that PPP 1.0 faced. Fortunately, this time around, many of the cooperating financial institutions, financial services companies, and fintechs are in a better, more informed position to help make sure the businesses that need the help actually get the help.

One example of this is the new portal powered by the FIS Real-time Lending Platform. This portal, available to FIs and merchants participating in the SBA’s PPP, automates and streamlines the process of applying for loan forgiveness under the provisions of the new program.

“As a critical infrastructure provider, FIS is focused on making it as easy as possible for small businesses and merchants to complete the loan forgiveness process and help them get back to business as soon as possible,” FIS Head of Global Core Banking and Channels Rob Lee said. “Our new portal uses advanced automation technology to handle the entire process, reducing the time and complexity for businesses in getting forgiveness of the essential loans that are critical to their business.”

Using pre-filled applications and documentation uploads for efficiency, the portal figures loan forgiveness amounts, and allows FIs to review and e-sign the requests. The document packages are sent to the borrower and bank for e-signing and then, via the portal, the materials are submitted to the SBA for validation. The portal is 100% digital and can be easily deployed by banks who can get started by uploading a file of eligible loans from their current PPP customers. FIS notes that via its Real-Time Lending Platform, it has facilitated “billions” in PPP loan funds through lenders to SMEs whose businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

A Finovate alum since 2013, FIS made fintech headlines last month when the company unveiled a new venture arm and a plan to invest $150 million in fintech startups. Last year, FIS was part of fintech’s biggest transactions of 2019 with its $34 billion acquisition of fellow Finovate alum Worldpay.

Ephesoft Brings Power of Context to Accounts Payable with Semantik Invoice

Photo by Kevin Ku from Pexels

The new data acquisition solution from Ephesoft will bring 97% accuracy and 30% cost-savings to companies looking for ways to enhance their accounts payable processes.

“With more than half of invoices still processed manually and taking on average 8.5 days, AP processing is ripe for innovation,” Ephesoft founder and CEO Ike Kavas explained. “(T)here is a market need for solutions that are highly scalable and have a quick time to value.”

Semantik Invoice, unveiled today, is an out-of-the-box, cloud-based platform that leverages AI and automation to extract critical information from invoices – regardless of format. The solution imports the data into the user’s existing workflow and business systems – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), or other tools – for processing. Semantik Invoice recognizes and analyzes critical data fields including dates, rates, IDs, amounts due, and more, providing businesses with a low-code, no-code option that can be quickly set up and started in a production capacity.

Kavas added that the technology also helps businesses future-proof their AP processes. “During times of uncertainty and budget tightening, companies should be asking themselves if the products they are investing in will integrate with future products and solutions,” he said. “Ephesoft has designed this SaaS-based solution to leverage the power of context in accounts payable with scalability and agility for future innovations.”

Ephesoft most recently demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring (now FinovateWest) in 2018. The company showed how its technology uncovers business intelligence for mortgage document processing by leveraging data mining and analytics.

Ephesoft began this year partnering with Toyota Finance New Zealand to accelerate loan application and settlement processing. In the months since, the company has launched a new protocol, Context Driven Productivity, that transforms flat data – information that is stored in traditional formats like PDFs, emails, and spreadsheets – into contextually enriched semantic data. This discipline was implemented in the company’s Ephesoft Transact 2020 platform.

Ephesoft also bolstered its executive ranks this spring, appointing Doug Lee to the post of Chief Revenue Officer. Lee arrived at the company after holding executive sales positions as SaaS companies such as Puppet, PatientPop, and Smarsh.

Founded in 2010 and based in Irvine, California, Ephesoft has raised $15 million in funding from investors including Mercato Partners.