Finovate Global Canada: Clik2pay Partners with Inovatec; BMO Offers Installments; RBC Buys HSBC’s Canadian Business

Finovate Global Canada: Clik2pay Partners with Inovatec; BMO Offers Installments; RBC Buys HSBC’s Canadian Business

There are many countries whose fintech innovations are often overlooked. And Canada, America’s legendarily kinder, gentler neighbor to the north, is among them.

This week’s edition of Finovate Global takes a look at recent fintech headlines emanating from the Great White North this week. The news ranges from big new fundings to new product launches to deal-making in Canada’s banking industry.

Clik2pay, a payment service provider based in Toronto, Ontario, has teamed up with lending process automation expert Inovatec. The partnership will enables Inovatec’s clients to use Clik2pay’s direct-from-account payment platform to request payments from customers. The functionality leverages Interac’s e-Transfer money transfer solution to ensure safe and secure fund movement.

“Clik2pay is always looking for ways to make the payments process simpler,” Clik2pay Chief Commercial Officer David Robinson said. “Allowing borrowers to make payment directly from their bank account in real-time through an email or text makes paying incredibly easy for the customer and allows for more efficient collections and payment reconciliation by lenders.”

The collaboration will give lenders the ability to use email to collect payments directly from customer bank accounts – and have those payments reconciled automatically on Inovatec’s platform. The process supports agent-assisted collections, as well, enabling lenders to textc customers payment links and secure real-time notification of successful payments “before the borrower hangs up the phone” the company noted in a statement.

Clik2pay is the first Canadian company to provide real-time, direct-from-account payments for businesses at almost all FIs in the country. Founded in 2019, Clik2pay relaunched its Clik2pay mobile app for small businesses last month. The new app features an enhanced user experience, including improved, simplified onboarding. Mike Bradley is founder and CEO.

Canadian banks have made fintech headlines this week, as well. Bank of Montreal (BMO), for example, announced the launch of its new credit card installment offering. Currently available to BMO’s Canadian retail credit card customers via their online banking platform, the new plan – called PaySmart – enables customers to convert eligible credit card purchases of more than $100 into smaller monthly payments.

Customers will be able to choose between three, six, or 12 equal monthly payments. No interest is charged and BMO will access a monthly fee of up to 0.9%. Because purchases are within the customer’s existing credit limits, no additional credit check or approval is required.

BMO’s latest offering is part of a suite of solutions designed to help its customers better manage cash flow and finances. These solutions include the bank’s Pre-Authorized Payments Manager, Same Day Grace feature, and BMO CashTrack.

In other Canadian banking news, Royal Bank of Canada announced that it has purchased U.K.-based HSBC’s Canadian business for $10 billion (£8.4 billion; C$13.5 billion). The move comes as HSBC seeks to bolster its business in Asia – especially China. The company has more than 130 branches and 780,000 customers as part of HSBC Canada. And while HSBC has also expressed plans to abandon its retail banking operations in the U.S. and France, it is the company’s Canadian division that has turned a profit -whereas both its businesses in the U.S. and France have not.

The acquisition is the biggest by RBC under the tenure of CEO Dave McKay, who has also tried to calm concerns about potential layoffs by noting that RBC is considered one of the best workplaces in the country. McKay also pointed to the fact that RBC has nearly 6,000 open positions and referred to the acquisition as a “talent acquisition opportunity” for RBC. HSBC Canada has $134 billion in assets and 4,200 full-time employees.

“HSBC Canada offers the opportunity to add a complementary business and client base in the market we know best and where we can deliver strong returns and client value given our financial strength and award-winning service,” McKay said in a statement.

Earlier this week we shared news that Toronto-based FinovateFall 2019 alum Buckzy Payments had secured $14.5 million in Series A funding. The company offers real-time, cross border payments services, as well as banking-as-a-service capabilities, via its embedded finance platform. The company has more than 140 bank, neobank, and fintech customers since going live with its platform in 2020. This week’s funding takes Buckzy’s total equity capital to more than $23 million. The round was led by Mistral Venture Partners and Uncorrelated Ventures.

“This round of financing is a validation of Buckzy’s vision to create an intelligent and automated international payment system,” Buckzy CEO Abdul Naushad said. “We’re on a mission to build the plumbing for real-time money movement globally, the same way high-speed internet fundamentally shifted the communications industry.”

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazil’s Nubank announced that it will offer savings accounts and debit cards in Mexico via its digital banking arm, Nu México.
  • Chilean based alternative credit scoring fintech Destácame raised $10 million in funding.
  • Brazilian fund Latitud released its The LatAmTech Report 2022 this week highlighting trends for B2C fintech in Latin America.


  • Finastra launched a new Center of Excellence (COE) at MRANTI Technology Park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Cambodia’s ABA Bank leveraged technology from Compass Plus Technologies to introduce instant card issuance kiosks.
  • Financial crime compliance company Napier announced its entry to the Japanese market via its financial crime risk management platform, Napier Continuum.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • ThetaRay and Ghanian mobile financial services company Zeepay partnered to help fight financial crime in remittance transactions.
  • TechCrunch profiled South African payments company Revio.
  • Kenyan payment service provider Cellulant launched its expansion to South Africa..

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Hamburg Commercial Bank announced that it has implemented and is now live on the nCino Bank Operating System.
  • ING Germany partnered with Viafintech to launch new cash service offering.
  • Estonia-based payment tracking company Transferlink announced a partnership with open banking platform Nordigen.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • UAE-based expense management platform Qashio secured $10 million in seed funding.
  • Jingle Pay, a financial super app based in the UAE, announced a strategic agreement with Mastercard.
  • Israel-based workplace intelligence platform Shield raised $20 million in Series B funding.

Central and Southern Asia

  • KreditBee, a fintech platform based in India, raised $80 million in Series D funding.
  • Mumbai-based youth banking startup Galgal Money secured $1 million in funding.
  • M bank in Mongolia is the latest customer – and first Mongolian client – of Singapore-based B2B SaaS fintech

Photo by Andre Furtado

FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley: Backbase Rebrands, Boku Booms, and SecureKey Finds Opportunity in Acquisition

FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley: Backbase Rebrands, Boku Booms, and SecureKey Finds Opportunity in Acquisition

This week we began our celebration of FinovateEurope’s earliest alums. In honor of FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley Showcase – a new feature designed to highlight the innovations of FinovateEurope alums – we’re highlighting the companies that introduced their innovations to Finovate’s European audience more than a decade ago – and are still among the top innovators in fintech today.

Visit our FinovateEurope Alumni Alley Showcase hub to learn more about this special opportunity for FinovateEurope alums.

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Backbase’s Big Rebrand

Founded in 2003, Backbase has been demonstrating its fintech innovations on the Finovate stage for more than a decade. Making its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2011, the company made its most recent on-stage appearance at FinovateFall in 2021, demoing the Backbase Engagement Banking Platform. In that ten years, the Amsterdam-based company was awarded Best of Show on four occasions, including three from the company’s demos at our conferences in London.

From its origins as a Bank 2.0 innovator, helping banks take advantage of the growing consumer interest in online and mobile banking, to its current incarnation as an Engagement Banking specialist, Backbase has demonstrated a consistent mission of enabling FIs to turn emerging technologies into opportunities for better customer service and engagement. The company’s official rebrand this fall only underscores much of what Backbase has been about all along.

Backbase founder and CEO introducing Backbase’s technology at FinovateEurope 2011.

“Our proven growth model has brought us to where we are today and it’s time to evolve our branding to reflect that growth,” Backbase founder and CEO Jouk Pleiter said. “Backbase is the innovation partner enabling traditional banks and credit unions to take the leap into the platform era, and we’re just getting started.”

Most recently, Backbase announced an expanded relationship with Boston, Massachusetts-based Eastern Bank ($22 billion in assets). The institution deployed Backbase-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Backbase’s Engagement Banking Platform to enable it to offer new digital banking solutions.

Boku Blossoms as Mobile Payments Boom

When Finovate audiences first met Boku at FinovateEurope 2011, the San Francisco-based company had 60 employees and $40 million in equity funding. Today, the direct mobile payments company is a publicly traded entity with more than 300 employees and a market capitalization of more than $390 million. Boku processes more than nine billion in payments every year, and includes some of the largest digital brands – from Google and Spotify to Netflix and Microsoft – as customers of what it bills as the largest mobile payments network in the world.

Boku founder Mark Britto demonstrating the company’s mobile payment technology at FinovateEurope 2011.

Boku was among the fintechs to recognize early on the potential mobile payments had to bring financial services to un- and underbanked consumers that owned mobile phones, but did not own credit cards or traditional bank accounts that would enable them to participate in online commerce. The company launched mobile wallet payments in the Philippines in 2012, brought mobile payments to Sony’s PlayStation Store in 2014 and, in 2020, acquired the Estonia-based carrier billing company Fortumo for $41 million.

This fall, Boku announced that it will supply with its digital wallet and other local payment methods as part of a new, multi-year agreement. Boku CEO Jon Prideaux said that the partnership helped reinforce the company’s “strategic move” into digital wallet payments.

SecureKey: Acquisition As An Enabler of Further, Faster Innovation

More than ten years after SecureKey won Best of Show at FinovateEurope 2011 for its authentication technology that leveraged contactless cards to streamline the online checkout process, the Toronto, Ontario-based company announced that it had agreed to be acquired by NortonLifeLock’s digital security and privacy firm, Avast.

SecureKey CEO Greg Wolfond demoing the company’s technology at FinovateEurope in 2011.

“SecureKey’s vision has been to revolutionize the way consumers and organizations approach identity and the sharing of personal information in the digital age,” SecureKey CEO Greg Wolfond said when the acquisition was announced this spring. “By working closely with governments, financial institutions, and businesses, we have an established track record of trusted and mature identity networks that provide consumers with the secure digital capabilities they deserve.”

SecureKey’s digital identity technology enables more than 200 million secure transactions a year internationally. Prior to the acquisition, SecureKey also had made major inroads in helping organizations and institutions, including governments, embrace modern authentication technologies. The company’s Verified.Me distributed digital identity verification network and Government Sign-In by Verified.Me provide secure and convenient login options to hundreds of government services and applications online. Both authentication services are provided by Interac under an exclusive Canadian licensing agreement.

Photo by Chris Panas

Canadian Cross Border Payments Innovator Buckzy Raises Series A Funding

Canadian Cross Border Payments Innovator Buckzy Raises Series A Funding
  • Canadian real-time cross border payments company Buckzy has raised $14.5 million in Series A funding.
  • The investment was led by Mistral Venture Partners and Uncorrelated Ventures, and featured participation from new investors Luge Capital and Blue 9 Capital, as well as existing investor Revel Partners.
  • Buckzy made its Finovate debut in 2019 at FinovateFall.

In a round led by Mistral Venture Partners and Uncorrelated Ventures, Canada-based real-time, cross border payments company Buckzy has secured $14.5 million in Series A funding. Valuation information was not immediately available. This week’s investment takes the company’s total equity funding to more than $23 million, according to Crunchbase.

“This round of financing is a validation of Buckzy’s vision to create an intelligent and automated international payment system,” Buckzy CEO Abdul Naushad said. “We’re on a mission to build the plumbing for real-time money movement globally, the same way high-speed internet fundamentally shifted the communications industry.”

New investors Luge Capital and Blue 9 Capital, and existing investor Revel Partners, also participated in the round. Luge Capital General Partner Karim Gillani will join Buckzy’s board as an advisor.

Buckzy offers real-time, cross border payments and Banking-as-a-Service capabilities via an embedded finance platform. The platform offers multi-currency bank accounts, local settlement accounts, and real-time FX quoting and booking. A licensed money transfer company, Buckzy has signed up more than 140 bank, neobank, and fintech customers since going live with its platform in 2020.

Calling the cross-border payments market a $150 trillion market globally – and one that is still underserved – Mistral Ventures Partners Managing Director Code Cubitt praised Buckzy for its ability to deliver “a much better customer experience, more automation, and lightning-fast payments.” Cubitt said the company had “the right blend of experience, expertise, and insight to build the next generation of cross border payments.”

Buckzy’s funding news comes at the same time that the company announced the appointment of Seema Rai Nair as VP of Customer Success and Network Expansion. Nair will be responsible for growing the company’s partnership network of banks, fintechs, ecommerce platforms, and other financial service providers.

“Demand for real-time and near real-time international payment services is rising around the world, and companies are increasingly turning to alternative providers such as Buckzy to address their need for fast, secure international payments,” Nair said in a statement.

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Buckzy was founded in 2018. The company made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall in New York the following year.

Photo by Andre Furtado

5 Tales From the Crypto: Fidelity’s New Offering, Ledger’s Card, Kriptomat’s Exchange, and More!

5 Tales From the Crypto: Fidelity’s New Offering, Ledger’s Card, Kriptomat’s Exchange, and More!

Fidelity Brings the Bitcoin

If you’ve been crying over your crypto wallet due to all the negative headlines about digital currencies, then now is the time to dry your eyes and thank Fidelity for giving crypto enthusiasts the greatest sign of approval since BTC and ETH peaked last year.

Fidelity announced this week that it has enabled cryptocurrency trading in retail accounts. Fidelity Crypto, as the offering is called, enables retail accountholders to buy and sell both Bitcoin and ethereum with as little as $1. The new functionality will be available in 35 U.S. states initially – California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Texas are among them. Fidelity plans to bring the technology to other states; the company is offering an early-access sign-up to let interested customers know when Fidelity Crypto is approved in their state. Similarly, the company is examining other cryptocurrencies with the potential to “expand trading opportunities over time.”

The fallout from FTX and the collapse of even the most widely traded cryptocurrencies have been only a few of the headwinds that might have convinced Fidelity to wait longer to launch its crypto trading capability. As recently as this month, a group of senators including Elizabeth Warren asked the company to reconsider its plan to enable its customers to invest up to 20% of their retirement savings in Bitcoin. Clearly those eager for signs of spring amid this crypto winter need look no further than Fidelity.

Ledger’s Crypto Card

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, French fintech Ledger has launched its crypto debit card in the U.K. and Europe. The new Crypto Life card enables users to transfer crypto between Ledger’s hardware wallets and card accounts via Ledger’s Ledger Live app. Crypto Life offers 1% crypto rewards in both Bitcoin and USDT, as well as offering 2$ in BXX, the native token of Baanx. Baanx is the U.K.-based fintech that developed the technology for Crypto Life.

Ledger users can use Crypto Life at approximately 90 million merchants and online stores across the U.K. and Europe that accept Mastercard. Ledger VP of International Development JF Rochet called the new offering an “easy and secure solution to pay with crypto that also allows you to self-custody until you want to top up.”

Headquartered in Paris, France, and founded in 2015, Ledger demoed its technology one year later at FinovateEurope 2016. The company specializes in trusted hardware solutions for Bitcoin and blockchain applications, which it distributes both directly via online sales as well as through an international network of retail merchants.

Kriptomat Adds Real Time A2A Payments via Volt Partnership

Sticking with the crypto-across-the-pond theme, we read news that Kriptomat, a cryptocurrency platform based in Estonia, has teamed up with U.K.-based payment gateway provider Volt. The goal of the partnership is to give customers the ability to make account-to-account payments, in real-time, to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies.

More than 500,000 cryptocurrency traders and investors on the Kriptomat platform are expected to benefit from the partnership. Previously, Kriptomat customers were required to use methods such as bank transfers, credit cards, and even e-wallets to make their transactions. Integrating with Volt payments will enable customers to be seamlessly directed to their banking app when paying with Volt, where they can authorize payments using their preferred authentication method. The result is a faster, more streamlined, and less costly way for Kriptomat customers to fund their crypto purchases.

“Today’s new crypto users are more like car owners, who expect to turn the key and have it work immediately – without learning the ins and outs of the processes that happen in the background,” Kriptomat CEO Srdjan Mahmutovic said. “Volt’s technology has helped us provide that level of usability to our customer base.”

BlockFi’s “We’re Not FTX”-Based Bankruptcy

The news that many feared was coming to BlockFi arrived this week as the cryptocurrency company, which carved out a niche in the space as a lender for small cryptocurrency investors, filed for bankruptcy. The company’s Chapter 11 filing follows the bankruptcy filings of other cryptocurrency lenders such as Celsius Network and Voyager Digital, both of which tapped out in July. But the far more looming shadow over BlockFi’s misfortunes is clearly the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, with which BlockFi was financially entangled.

That said, both BlockFi’s bankruptcy declaration and the opening statement from BlockFi attorney Joshua Sussberg in court yesterday were attempts to do as much untangling as possible. Sussberg referred to BlockFi, which FTX both financially supported and – at one point – moved to acquire, as the “antithesis of FTX.” He credited BlockFi for its “focus on creating an opportunity for people that otherwise don’t have access to the financial system.”

Dimon’s Crypto Curious Bank: JP Morgan Gets Crypto Wallet Trademark

If Fidelity can be credited for the “giant leap” in crypto this week, should we salute JP Morgan’s “small step” of securing a crypto wallet trademark?

There’s a certain sport in highlighting any pro-crypto moves by JP Morgan – given the the outspoken crypto-skepticism of the bank’s legendary CEO Jamie Dimon. As a refresher, Dimon has referred to cryptocurrencies as “decentralized Ponzi schemes,” and said that the “notion that (crypto) is good for anybody is unbelievable.”

But that’s not stopping the bank he runs from expressing some crypto curiosity including, this week, news that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved of the J.P. Morgan Wallet. According to the registered trademark, the J.P. Morgan Wallet supports “virtual currency transfer + exchange, crypto payment processing, virtual checking accounts, and financial services.”

JP Morgan has been open about its interest in launching a digital wallet since October. Despite the disinterest of the bank’s CEO in most things crypto, JP Morgan has worked with Fidelity and New York Bank Mellon to offer various cryptocurrency related services and, earlier this month, completed the first cross-border transaction using decentralized finance (DeFi) on a public blockchain.

Photo by Anna-Louise

Greenwood Raises $45 Million to Bring Digital Banking to Black and Latino Communities

Greenwood Raises $45 Million to Bring Digital Banking to Black and Latino Communities
  • Greenwood, a digital banking platform catering to black and Latino communities, raised $45 million in new funding this week.
  • The funding round was led by Pendulum, an investing and advisory platform for founders of color.
  • Atlanta, Georgia-based Greenwood was named after the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was known as “Black Wall Street” in the early 20th century due to its high concentration of black-owned businesses.

In a round led by Pendulum, a strategic growth investing and advisory platform for founders of color, digital banking platform Greenwood has secured $45 million in new funding. A digital banking platform designed to meet the needs of members of the African-American and Latino/Hispanic communities, Greenwood will use the funding to advance its goal of closing the wealth gap between ethnic minority and majority populations and enable African-Americans and Latinos to more readily build generational wealth.

“Our vision is to make Greenwood the premier destination for black and Latino wealth creation and regeneration while keeping community connection and collective professional advancement at the center,” Greenwood chairman and co-founder Ryan Glover said.

Joining Pendulum in this week’s funding were a host of new investors including Cercano Management, Cohen Circle, The George Kaiser Family Foundation, and NextEra Energy. Existing investors Bank of America, Citi Ventures, PNC, Popular, Truist Ventures, TTV Capital, and Wells Fargo also contributed.

Greenwood also announced the launch of a new offering that takes advantage of its recent acquisitions of The Gathering Spot and Valence, a pair of African-American owned private membership networks for black professionals, entrepreneurs, and corporations. The offering, called Elevate, gives its members access to The Gathering Spot’s private membership network – including the organization’s physical clubhouses in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. – as well as Valence’s professional networking platform and recruiting database. The launch of Elevate is geared toward helping Greenwood fulfill both the community building and career advancement components of its mission.

“Greenwood is poised to create new outcomes and equip our communities with the resources they have been systematically excluded from in the pursuit of economic opportunity,” Pendulum CEO and co-founder Robbie Robinson said.

Founded in 2020 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Greenwood has more than 100,000 customers on its platform, and more than one million individuals in its combined community including The Gathering Spot and Valence. The fintech offers a digital bank account with no hidden or overdraft fees, a Mastercard debit card, support for P2P transfers, two-day early wage access, and a global ATM network. Greenwood also provides opportunities for its customers to help communities in need via programs like Feed a Family (in partnership with Goodr), donations to non-profits such as the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and NAACP from customer spare change round-ups, and monthly small business grants of $10,000 to African-American or Latino/Hispanic owned businesses. The platform also offers financial education and information designed for black and Latino audiences via its Greenwood Studios operation. Greenwood’s banking services are provided courtesy of a partnership with Coastal Community Bank.

The name of the digital banking platform was inspired by the Greenwood District, a historic African-American community in Tulsa, Oklahoma that, in the early 20th century, featured one of the greatest concentrations of black businesses in the U.S. Known as “Black Wall Street”, the community was the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 in which a mob of white Tulsans destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the Greenwood District. The attack was described as the “single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” Hundreds were hospitalized and estimates of the number of Oklahomans killed ranged from 75 to 300.

Photo by Dazzle Jam

FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley: Pioneering PFM, French Fintech, and an Investor Social Network

FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley: Pioneering PFM, French Fintech, and an Investor Social Network

FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley is a great way for our pioneering alums to show that, more than a decade later, they are still driving fintech innovation. Check out our Finovate Alumni Alley hub for more information on how to get involved.

To celebrate the launch of this new opportunity, we’re going to highlight alums that demoed their technologies at some of the earliest FinovateEurope events. From Best of Show winners to late blooming breakouts, FinovateEurope has spent the past dozen years showcasing the companies that have become many of fintech’s favorites. Over the next few weeks heading into the winter holidays, we will share their stories here.

A Best of Show Winner – Meniga

One of four companies to win Best of Show in our inaugural FinovateEurope in 2011, Meniga introduced itself as a mobile PFM solution provider for retail banks in Europe. Hailing from Reykjavik, Iceland, and founded in 2009, the company partnered with Íslandsbanki to help its technology reach 5% of households within the first year of launch.

Today the company has grown into a digital innovation partner for more than 165 banks around the world and grown its workforce ten-fold. From its start as a white-label PFM innovator, Meniga has added to its finance management offering with Cashflow Assistant and Smart Money Rules solutions, and added a suite of data management solutions for consolidation, enrichment, and discovery to its product mix. The company also now offers Beyond Banking solutions for banks, as well. These products include customer engagement/empowerment solutions like Carbon Insight and solutions for SME customers such as Cashback Rewards and Market Intelligence.

Meniga co-founder Georg Ludviksson introducing Meniga to the FinovateEurope audience in 2011.

Long-time Meniga CEO and co-founder Georg Ludviksson stepped down in August. The company’s new CEO, Simon Shorthose, said in a statement that the company was in a “prime position for growth” due to the “rapid modernization of banking technology and the move to real-time cloud infrastructures.” He added “Meniga’s solutions are at the forefront of helping banks take their digital banking experience to the next level of hyper-personalization.”

A Late Blooming Breakout – Linxo

One of the benefits of FinovateEurope is not just the ability to showcase for companies in Europe in general, but also for the opportunity of countries not always associated with fintech innovation to show what entrepreneurs in their nations are up to.

France is one example of such a country and Linxo – which made its Finovate debut in 2011 and, nine years later, was acquired by Credit Agricole for an undisclosed sum – is one example of just such a company. Co-founded in 2010 by CEO Bruno Van Haetsdaaele and headquartered in France, Linxo demoed its platform that represented the first bank account aggregation service for French financial institutions.

Linxo co-founder and CEO Bruno Van Haetsdaele on stage at FinovateEurope 2011.

“This transaction enables us to accelerate and strengthen our services for the Crédit Agricole Group, while giving us the opportunity to develop our offering in France and internationally for our clients and prospects with Oxlin, our ACPR-authorized payment institution, and to continue the development of Linxo, one of France’s most popular personal financial management apps,” Van Haetsdaele said when the acquisition was announced.

More than three million users in France leverage Linxo’s mobile app to manage their budgets and simplify their finances. Linxo had raised more than $26 million in funding prior to its acquisition.

From Good to Great and Still Going – eToro

Helping investors navigate the financial markets was the goal of many fintechs that demoed their technologies on the Finovate stage in the early years. But one of the innovators in this space to make a big first impression that only has grown bigger over time is eToro.

Another company to win Best of Show in the first FinovateEurope, eToro was an established investing network with more than 1.5 million registered users from 120+ countries in 2011. The company is among the pioneers in social investing, with innovative solutions that helped novice traders and investors learn from successful, veteran traders and investors, and improve their own outcomes in the market.

eToro CEO Yoni Assia demonstrating the eToro network at FinovateEurope in 2011.

Among the more popular companies to demo at FinovateEurope, with six Best of Show trophies won from 2011 through 2017, eToro today is still one of the biggest social investing communities in the world with more than 30 million registered users currently sharing their investment strategies on the platform. The company launched its mobile app in 2012, offered trading in cryptocurrencies in 2017 and, this year, unveiled both fractional share investing with zero commissions and eToro Options for options traders in the U.S.

This month, eToro teamed up with Broadridge Financial Solutions to enable proxy voting for investors on its platform. The ability to cast proxy votes will extend to investors holding fractional shares, as well. The partnership is a victory for advocates of corporate accountability by enabling eToro investors to weigh in on issues ranging from mergers and executive pay to ESG initiatives and goals.

Photo by Peter Spencer

Cion Digital and upSWOT Team Up to Bring Embedded Finance Solutions to Commercial Loan Brokers

Cion Digital and upSWOT Team Up to Bring Embedded Finance Solutions to Commercial Loan Brokers
  • Cion Digital and upSWOT have teamed up to bring embedded finance and embedded business management solutions to commercial loan brokers.
  • Courtesy of the partnership, the two companies will enable wealth managers and commercial loan officers the ability to identify ideal financing solutions, as well as broaden their offering with new embedded financial and business management tools.
  • Cion Digital made its Finovate debut earlier this year at FinovateSpring. Making its Finovate debut in 2000, upSWOT returned to the Finovate stage in September for FinovateFall.

Cion Digital, which offers technology to help businesses find the right loan products that suit their needs, has partnered with fintech platform upSWOT. Together, the two Finovate alums will provide wealth managers and commercial loan brokers with embedded finance and embedded business management solutions. These tools will empower these businesses to offer their customers access to a wide variety of tools – including accounting, ERP, payroll, e-commerce, CRM, marketing, and POS business applications – via more than 200 API-enabled apps.

“Cion Digital is focused on using data and machine learning to help financial advisors and commercial loan brokers secure financing for their clients that meets their clients’ unique financial objectives and curate high-value relationships for lenders and financial institutions,” Cion Digital Chief Product Officer Taylor Adkins said. Adkins noted that the partnership with upSOT will make available a wealth of data sources and insights that can be used to further help business owners identify the financing solutions they need – as well as add to their offering with embedded finance and business management resources.

“Fintech has incredible power to dramatically reshape the success of SMBs,” upSWOT CEO Dmitry Norenko added. “The institutions that enable SMBs to take advantage of these dramatic shifts in technologies are institutions that care about their customers and ensuring that they will still be here in a decade.”

A Finovate alum since 2000, upSWOT most recently demoed its technology on the Finovate stage in September as part of FinovateFall. At the conference, upSWOT showed its white-label, digital-banking-embedded solution that connects to more than 200 integrated SaaS applications, delivering actionable insights, cash flow forecasts, and more. Earlier this month, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based fintech announced a partnership with Standard Chartered to launch a pilot project in Singapore that would give Standard Chartered’s SME customers intelligent forecasting capabilities. Founded in 2019, upSWOT has raised more than $5 million in funding.

Cion Digital demoed its Crypto Dealership Platform at FinovateSpring 2022. In October, the company launched its wealth advisor lending platform, which gives wealth management firms and registered investment advisors (RIAs) curated loan offers and a streamlined application approval process. The platform connects firms and advisors directly to banks and other lenders; the new offering supports not only traditional assets and securities but also crypto assets, as well.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, and founded in 2021, Cion Digital has raised $12 million in funding. The company’s investors include 645 Ventures and Green Visor Capital.

Photo by fauxels

U.S.-based Neobank Novo Secures $125 Million in Series B Funding

U.S.-based Neobank Novo Secures $125 Million in Series B Funding
  • Miami, Florida-based neobank Novo raised $35 million in funding, taking its Series B funding round to $125 million.
  • The Series B raises Novo’s total equity funding to more than $170 million.
  • The latest capital infusion comes from GGV Capital, which manages more than $9 billion in investments across North America, China, Southeast Asia, India, Latin America, and Israel.

An additional $35 million investment brings the total raised by Miami, Florida-based fintech Novo to $125 million. The latest infusion comes courtesy of strategic investor GGV Capital, and brings Novo’s total equity funding to more than $170 million.

In a statement, Novo CEO and co-founder Michael Rangel highlighted the new functionality of the Novo Platform and the “tens of thousand” of small business customers the company has onboarded. Rangel also praised GGV as “instrumental” in helping other technology companies (“from Airbnb to Square”) scale their businesses, and said he believed the support of the firm would help Novo reach “millions more small businesses in the coming years.” Note that GGV Capital Principal Robin Li will join Novo’s board of directors as an observer.

With more than 175,000 small business customers, Novo offers a free business checking account with free ACHs and incoming wires; a Novo Virtual card; no hidden fees; and an application process that can be completed in less than 10 minutes. Novo also provides online small business banking services including the ability to send and track invoices; as set aside funds for taxes, payroll, and more via its Novo Reserves feature. Novo is partnered with Middlesex Federal Savings, which provides FDIC coverage of Novo deposits up to $250,000.

Additionally, as of 2021, the company has offered Novo Apps, a comprehensive apps marketplace to enable SMEs to customize their banking experience; Novo Boost, which gives small businesses same day access to payments received through Stripe; as well as Express ACH that enables same day processing of ACH payments.

GGV Capital Managing Partner Hans Tung underscored Novo’s “ecosystem approach” to providing banking services to small businesses, freelancers, and gig economy workers. “They’ve built a robust, intuitive platform that allows SMBs to connect all of their business and financial applications to their Novo account,” Tung said.

Novo’s latest investment comes as the company announces surpassing $12 billion in lifetime small business transactions. Founded in 2016, Novo was named one of the “Next Billion-Dollar Startups” of 2022 by Forbes earlier this year.

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Featurespace Secures Funding to Develop AI-Powered AML Prototype

Featurespace Secures Funding to Develop AI-Powered AML Prototype
  • U.K.-based fraud and financial crime prevention company Featurespace secured funding to help build an AI-powered prototype to fight money laundering and other financial crimes.
  • The funding comes from both the U.S. and U.K. governments, and is part of an initiative supported by Innovate UK, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and messaging network SWIFT.
  • Featurespace made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2016.

Fraud and financial crime prevention specialist Featurespace has secured funding from both the U.S. and U.K. governments to build an AI-powered technology to help financial services institutions – including banks and payment service providers (PSPs) – to detect and stop financial crime. The goal specifically is to enhance the ability of financial institutions to combat cross-border money laundering, application fraud, and APP fraud, in particular. The U.K.-based company, headquartered in Cambridge, will build a prototype, leveraging AI, that will be trained on “sensitive private payments data.” Featurespace will apply federated deep learning to the data, using privacy-enhancing techniques such as k-anonymity and local differential privacy. Organizations will not have to reveal, share, or combine their raw data in the process.

“U.K. and U.S. governments want banks to work together to stop fraud and money laundering,” Featurespace Director of Innovation David Sutton said. “This type of privacy-preserving collaboration AI is a hard problem that no one has yet solved. We are confident we can meet this challenge. We’re the only company in this project that has deployed innovative tech to fight worldwide financial crime – and we have the banking customers to prove it.”

The funding comes courtesy of the privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) Challenge Prize, an effort begun in July by Innovate UK and the U.S. National Science Foundation. The initiative also is supported by bank-owned messaging network SWIFT. Featurespace has been given a deadline of January 24 to build the prototype. Upon completion, if the project is successful, it will be showcased at the second Summit for Democracy to be convened in the U.S. in the first half of 2023.

“A successful outcome of this project is to make money laundering across borders and between banks much more difficult,” Sutton said. “If you make it harder to launder money, you make criminal activities less profitable. This will benefit businesses, society, and consumers.”

Founded in 2008, Featurespace made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2016. More than 70 direct customers and more than 200,000 institutions ranging from HSBC and Worldpay to fellow Finovate alums like TSYS and Marqeta, rely on Featurespace’s technology to protect themselves against fraud and financial crime. An innovator in the field of fraud prevention, Featurespace has developed technologies like Adaptive Behavioral Analytics and Automated Deep Behavioral Networks to profile both authentic and fraudulent behavior to combat financial crime in real-time. Both technologies are components of Featurespace’s ARIC Risk Hub.

Last week, Featurespace announced a partnership with Railsr to help customers of the embedded finance platform better defend themselves from fraud and financial crime. Per the agreement, Railsr’s fraud teams will be able to leverage card and payment fraud prevention and AML solutions via Featurespace’s ARIC Risk Hub.

“As embedded finance increasingly becomes expected by consumers, making sure they are protected from fraud and financial crime must be expected in equal measure,” Featurespace Chief Commercial Officer Matt Mills said. “Railsr (has) recognized this early and added a critical layer of self-learning technology to ensure their customers get only the best experience.”

Photo by Markus Spiske

Core Banking Software Company Finxact Forges Strategic Partnership with KPMG

Core Banking Software Company Finxact Forges Strategic Partnership with KPMG
  • Finxact forged a strategic partnership with KPMG this week.
  • The alliance will combine KPMG’s design and systems integration capabilities with Finxact’s core bnking platform.
  • Finxact was acquired by Finovate alum Fiserv this spring.

Finxact, the core banking software company acquired by Fiserv earlier this year, announced a strategic partnership this week. The firm is teaming up with KPMG who will advise and help digitally transform clients on the Finxact platform. David Ortiz, Head of Partnerships at Finxact, explained the role that KPMG will play in helping Finxact clients embrace modernization.

“KPMG understands the way this manifests uniquely for different banking business models,” Ortiz said. “Together we’re combining technology and expert guidance to help our clients adapt and thrive.”

The alliance between Finxact and KPMG will blend the latter’s innovation, digital design, and systems integration capabilities with the former’s next generation core banking platform. The partnership will enable financial institutions to offer more personalized, differentiated customer journeys, accelerate time-to-market for new products, and boost cost efficiencies. FIs will benefit further from the ability to re-invent and expand their business models to better compete, engage new markets, and grow revenues.

“Universal banks, transaction-focused banks, ambient banks and fintechs are each facing unique challenges today that must be addressed with modern infrastructure,” KPMG Financial Services Advisory Principal Scott Huie said. “Whether that challenge is to reach new markets, improve unit economics, or embed finance, we are confident that with KPMG’s guidance and the Finxact platform we can help to enable new and winning digital experiences.”

Finxact was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. The company’s strategic partnership news with KPMG comes a month after it announced that it had agreed to power the new Zenus Global Digital Bank, in collaboration with Microsoft and implementation partner HSO. Also last month, Finxact and Finovate alum PwC announced a partnership that will enable FIs to offer new solutions built and delivered by PwC Banking and Capital Markets (BCM) and enabled on Finxact’s open banking platform.

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The Conversation Continues: Greg Palmer and the Finovate Podcast with Debbie, Stratyfy, Lemonade, and Deciens Capital

The Conversation Continues: Greg Palmer and the Finovate Podcast with Debbie, Stratyfy, Lemonade, and Deciens Capital

Interviews with Best of Show winners and an update from the venture capital world were the conversations Finovate VP Greg Palmer shared with listeners of the Finovate podcast during the month of October. Palmer interviewed CEOs from three FinovateFall’s Best of Show winners – Debbie, Stratyfy, and Lemonade LXP last month – and checked in with Decien Capital’s Dan Kimerling on the state of fintech funding.

Find the Finovate podcast at Soundcloud and follow Greg Palmer on Twitter for the latest in programming news and updates.

Frida Liebowitz, CEO and Co-Founder, Debbie

Finovate VP Greg Palmer talks with Debbie CEO Frida Liebowitz on the importance of offering a more effective, human-centric debt recovery solution. Episode 151.

Our mission with Debbie is to help people break the behavioral cycle of debt for good. We are building the first rewards platform for debt payoff that is entirely behavioral driven. We reward people for building up better habits, paying off debt, and eventually making their way to long term debt freedom.

Laura Kornhauser, CEO and Co-Founder, Stratyfy

Stratyfy CEO and co-founder Laura Kornhauser discusses the issue of bias-mitigation in lending with podcast host Greg Palmer. Episode 150.

What we do at Stratyfy is help credit and risk teams better assess risk through what we say is real transparency. We also have a real focus on driving greater financial inclusion, and doing that by helping financial institutions provide greater access to fairly priced financial products to a wider group of individuals than historically have had that access in the past.

John Findlay, CEO, Lemonade LXP

Greg Palmer catches up with Lemonade LXP CEO John Findlay to discuss boosting digital adoption through intelligent, front-line training. Episode 149.

Lemonade is a digital growth platform that helps financial institutions and fintechs maximize the ROI on their technology investments. There are two sides to our platform. One side is a learning experience platform that is designed to turn frontline staff into digital experts so they can promote and support your technology. And then the other side is a digital enablement or digital adoption platform.

Dan Kimerling, Founder and Managing Partner, Deciens Capital

Deciens Capital founder and managing partner Dan Kimerling provides a VC perspective on inclusion-based opportunity in conversation with podcast host Greg Palmer. Episode 148.

What I would say is we haven’t seen a slow down in the level of entrepreneurial behavior and activity. It seems, broadly speaking, like people are excited to start new businesses and, if you go back to at least the 1970s, there seems to be relatively little relationship between macroeconomic behavior and entrepreneurial dynamism.

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Quadient Teams Up with Esker to Help French Businesses Manage New Tax Landscape

Quadient Teams Up with Esker to Help French Businesses Manage New Tax Landscape
  • Business software company Quadient and process automation solutions company Esker have partnered with the French government via a joint subsidiary NCS.
  • The partnership is designed to help businesses comply with new regulations governing the issuance and receipt of invoices between VAT taxpayers.
  • Quadient most recently demoed its technology at FinovateEurope 2018 in London.

Business software company Quadient and process automation solutions company Esker have announced a new partnership with the French government. Via their joint subsidiary NCS, Quadient and Esker will help ensure that businesses are able to comply with upcoming French tax regulations, specifically with regard to electronic invoice receipt and transmission.

The new legislation applies to invoices exchanged between VAT taxpayers, mandating that these invoices must be transmitted in either a structured data format (UBL, UNCEFACT CII) or hybrid format (Factur-X). Rollout of the new regulations begins in the summer of 2024 and continues through January 1, 2026. At that point all micro, small, and medium-sized businesses will be expected to comply.

“The widespread implementation of electronic invoicing over the next three years is a major challenge for the four million companies in France,” Quadient Chief Strategy and Product Officer for Intelligent Document Automation Nicolas de Beco said. “As a major player in the electronic document management market for small and medium-sized businesses, we look forward to our continued partnership with Esker, in which we join forces and expertise to offer businesses straightforward and efficient invoicing process automation.”

Beyond ensuring compliance with impending regulatory changes, the partnership between Quadient and Esker will bring a variety of benefits to French businesses. The list of complimentary services ranges from centralized workflow management and business process automation to invoice archiving, payment reconciliation, and reporting. The interoperability of these services with other business platforms and solutions will give French companies greater capacity to improve operations, pursue digital transformation, and enhance their cash management.

“As long-standing partners, our two companies have demonstrated their ability to work together to deliver innovative solutions that benefit thousands of businesses in France today,” Esker COO Emmanuel Olivier said.

Headquartered in France and founded in 1992, Quadient most recently demoed its technology on the Finovate stage at FinovateEurope 2018. The company’s partnership news with Esker and the French government comes just weeks after Quadient launched its Parcel Pending smart parcel lockers in Ireland to help modernize the residential property market in the country.

Photo by Martijn Adegeest