2020’s Fintech Micro Trends

‘Tis the season for every fintech news outlet to cite industry predictions for 2020. And while it’s helpful to know that AI is still the biggest trend since PFM, and that the bank of the future will get ahead by focusing on the customer, sometimes the best way to gauge new trends is to think on a smaller scale.

Examining these micro trends helps keep a finger on the pulse of what’s about to take off in fintech and cuts the noise of the glaringly obvious ideas that dominate headlines. Here’s a look at a few of those trends.

Workplace training and compliance

These types of solutions have two main drivers, new technology and new regulation. Both of these factors continue to move at a fast pace throughout financial services.

Solutions such as Horizn help employers train their employees to use new consumer-facing technology so that they are ready to answer questions from end clients. By using gamification and leaderboards, Horizn encourages employees to increase their knowledge about new tools and offerings. Similarly, Launchfire’s Lemonade is an interactive, game-based simulation approach to workplace learning and helps employees not only learn skills they need to share with their customers but also familiarize themselves with compliance regulations.

This second piece of Launchfire’s offering– the compliance training– is key because it is increasingly evolving. This is due in part to employees expecting a more interactive training experience and partially because new technology is driving regulation to change at an increasingly fast pace. Christina Luttrell, COO of IDology highlighted this in a discussion about Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect in 2018; and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will begin enforcement on the first of next year.

“According to IDology’s Annual Fraud Report, 28% believe CCPA compliance will be more burdensome than GDPR,” Luttrell said. “If GDPR is an indicator of how CCPA will unfold, then businesses need to consider how criminals can and will exploit subject access requests.” With regard to CCPA specifically, there is a lot at stake for non-compliance. “With consumers being able to sue, the compliance risk is enormous,” Luttrell added.

Debt management

Debt management, specifically student loan assistance platforms, have already started to take off. Players such as Tuition.io, Student Loan Genius, and CommonBond offer workplace benefits that enable employers to contribute to their employees’ student loan debt repayment efforts.

Direct-to-consumer debt repayment apps such as Qoins, which allows users to contribute their spare change from everyday purchases toward their debt, and Changed, which uses the same “spare change” concept but is focused on student loan repayment, are less common.

The coming year will bring even more of these types of solutions, especially as third party applications become more commonplace in financial services.

While there won’t be a huge wave of new players in the debt management space (again, we’re thinking micro trends!), it’s likely that existing players will launch new solutions to help consumers manage not only their student loan debt, but also mortgages and personal loans.

Philanthropic tech

We first saw an emergence of philanthropic fintech around 2012 when Billhighway launched fundraising technology and CafeGive, which has since shuttered, powered multiple financial institutions’ community-focused giving promotions.

Newer examples of philanthropic technology include Betterment’s donation feature and Meniga’s collaboration with the UN that allows users to donate their cash-back rewards to fight climate change. Additionally, Radius (recently acquired by Kabbage) launched its Data for Good campaign to help the company’s employees and customers give back to their communities, and Revolut launched a charitable giving feature. And there are even fintechs devoted entirely to charitable giving, including Place2Give, Sustainably, and Pinkaloo.

Could charitable donations via “feel good fintech” begin to take the place of tax deductible donations – especially in the U.S. – in 2020? Philanthropic fintech is also partially driven by the convenience economy. For example, instead of sitting down to make a yearly donation to their favorite charity, consumers can support the organization on a regular basis through the deduction of their “spare change” on everyday purchases or investments.

Banks Shift to Automation in 2020

The financial services industry is ripe for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM) technologies. Organizations in this field have many tasks that can be– and even should be– automated.

Many banks already have successful implementations of these technologies in place. But with the dawn of a new decade, what’s next? We posed the question to AI Foundry’s Director of Product Management, Arvind Jagannath, who helped us uncover the future of RPA and BPM.

Finovate: What are some key developments in RPA and BPM we can look forward to in 2020?

Arvind Jagannath: RPA will play a key role in automating processes in legacy systems. It will have a lot of momentum in industries like retail and finance that are trying to achieve digital transformation because it can automate repetitive processes in their legacy applications.

Most companies view this kind of automation as a key to integrating new technologies and improving their business process. RPA will evolve into a gateway for adopting higher-level, modern technologies.

Finovate: Tell us about that evolution.

Jagannath: Finance, retail and online shopping all have processes that can be easily automated, such as data entry, button clicks, task routing, etc. For these processes, RPA can provide substantial savings in time and cost. Now, imagine you can amplify these gains by using cognitive technologies such as voice recognition, OCR, and AI…this can be a game-changer for many companies.

For example, voice recognition is now increasingly used to provide a more “conversational” flow for gathering initial caller information, just as a support person would do. All of this information can be used to drive the back-end processes that are automated by RPA, such as creating a support ticket and routing it to the right department.

In mortgages, document recognition technologies can quickly scan data from uploaded borrower documents and immediately provide feedback on the validity of the document or ask for additional information. This creates a powerful, real-time feedback loop that can cut days and possibly weeks out of the loan origination process.

Finovate: What does this mean for fintech’s strong partnership ecosystem?

Jagannath: Process automation tools are becoming more sophisticated, and traditional system integrators are taking notice. Large firms like IBM and SAP are realizing they need to partner with or acquire smaller, specialized RPA companies. So now there is an opportunity for collaborating and partnering to create a “smart” RPA eco-system.

A “smart” RPA eco-system combines process automation and AI to orchestrate the appropriate handoffs of tasks between humans and systems to automate processes across a value network.

For example, imagine automating the processing of a homeowner’s property insurance claim where the adjuster pulls data from many disparate systems to make a determination. In a smart RPA eco-system, robots can easily interweave with the adjuster to perform many tasks such as manual registering of the claim, scheduling the next available adjuster, tracking completion of the damage assessment, and proposing an equitable determination.

Finovate: What advice can you offer financial services companies looking to get started with RPA and BPA?

Jagannath: You first need to figure out how to automate your processes, and then start using cognitive technologies to get all the benefits out of RPA and higher-level cognitive AI. RPA becomes a gateway to adopting AI. So, RPA is helping build the ramp for AI to get adopted.

AI Foundry most recently appeared on the Finovate stage last year at FinovateFall. The company demonstrated its Agile Mortgages solution, which brings key efficiencies to the loan origination process.

FIS Integrates with IBM to Help Clients Counter Fraud

Financial services vendor FIS has announced that it has integrated IBM’s Safer Payments solution within its peer-to-peer (P2P) services to aid in the prevention of fraud, reports Alex Hamilton of Fintech Futures, Finovate’ sister publication.

With the IBM solution integrated, FIS believes its P2P services will be able to monitor high volumes of transactions and provide “real-time detection and decisioning” using artificial intelligence.

The vendor claims that since it first installed IBM’s solution it has seen a “significant” reduction in attempted and completed fraudulent transactions.

“Criminals are growing ever-more sophisticated in their methods for conducting payments fraud and they are increasingly targeting P2P services due to the growth in this market,” said Jim Johnson, head of Americas payments and wealth at FIS.

“FIS is excited to incorporate IBM Safer Payments to provide the highest level of fraud protection to our U.S. clients and their customers who rely on P2P services for fast, convenient payments.”

According to a 2018 PwC report, 53% of US companies were hit by fraud between 2016 and 2018, while 37% of companies reported losing more than $1 million as a result of it.

“FIS is taking aggressive steps to protect its clients against new and evolving threats in the industry,” said Michael Curry, vice president at IBM RegTech. “IBM Safer Payments uses artificial intelligence designed to deliver insights and to quickly adapt to a changing threat landscape. This technology is yielding successful results for FIS and some of the world’s largest and most complex payment portfolios.”

FIS most recently demoed at FinovateFall 2016. The company debuted its Cardless Cash solution that provides fast, secure options for sending and picking up cash at any ATM. Headquartered in Florida, FIS’ solutions move $9 trillion each year for 20,000 clients in 130 countries.

IBM’s IBM Trusteer demoed its new account fraud solution at FinovateEurope 2018.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • FIS Integrates with IBM to Help Clients Counter Fraud.

Around the web

  • Blackhawk Network unveils new line of gift cards.
  • Tinkoff GDRs will be included in MOEX Russia indices next month.
  • Finantix opens new office in Sydney, Australia.

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

Top 5 Reasons I’m Thankful for Fintech

It’s the season of giving thanks in the U.S., and what better way to celebrate than to reflect on why I’m thankful for fintech. As it turns out, there are a lot of reasons. Not only does fintech impact how I transact every day, the fintech industry is also responsible for some great friendships I’ve made over the past ten years working in the space.

Great friends aside, here are the top 5 reasons I’m thankful for our growing industry:

1) I don’t need to use cash

This is a simple one. As a typical millennial, I rarely carry cash and I only use my checkbook a couple of times a year to pay contractors. Using a debit card protects me from losing cash (which happens to me all the time), makes in-person transactions faster, makes online transactions possible, and helps me track where my money goes each month… which leads me to reason number two.

2) Puts me more in control of my finances

PFM has been around since the dawn of fintech, but that doesn’t make it any less useful. As with most banks these days, my bank leverages my transaction data to show me a breakdown of my actual spending habits. This means that instead of looking at a hand-drawn budget to determine where every paycheck goes, I’m able to see at a glance how I spend my money.

3) Helps plan for the future

Planning for retirement is intimidating, especially when you don’t have a personal financial advisor to consult. This is why I’m so thankful for roboadvisory tools that create inexpensive and easy-to-use investing strategies. These platforms offer boosted confidence as well as increased returns.

4) Keeps my money and identity secure

There are a lot of fintech companies working in the security space these days– and for good reason. It’s difficult to keep clients’ money out of a cyber criminal’s reach, especially when their nefarious strategies are continuously evolving. And while fintechs that don’t hold their clients’ financial assets may not have this issue, they certainly have the responsibility to protect their client’s personal information. It’s good to know there are very smart people creating complex solutions that minimize the chances of getting hacked.

5) Offers alternative investments

You know the widely held belief that millennials don’t trust the stock market? It holds true for me. I graduated from college in 2012 at the height of the recession. Two weeks before receiving my diploma my only job offer was a ranch hand on Ted Turner’s bison ranch just south of Bozeman, Montana (don’t worry, the Boeing company came through a week later with a formal job offer). So though I certainly have a fair amount of money in the stock market, I also rely on alternative investments such as real estate to carry me through when the market tanks again.

Glance Powers Visual Customer Engagement for Axos Bank

Online visual customer engagement platform Glance announced today it partnered with Axos Bank, a digital bank with $11+ billion in assets.

Glance will help Axos Bank offer its commercial and retail clients real-time visual engagement sessions that deliver a more personalized customer experience. Specifically, Axos will use Glance to navigate the online interface, pay bills, transfer funds, and apply for new banking products.

“Financial services organizations are looking to maximize the benefits of digital banking without losing the human-to-human connection of traditional brick-and-mortar customer interactions,” said Glance CEO Tom Martin. “Glance is perfectly positioned to satisfy this critical requirement. We have successfully integrated real human connections in the digital space, giving banks and other providers a viable tool to enhance customer service while optimizing the efficiencies garnered through digital technology.”

Glance’s cloud-based platform integrates with existing CRM and contact center platforms. In addition to creating a more interactive experience with a human touch, Glance helps organizations comply with security and privacy requirements. Among the company’s clients are Intuit, Constant Contact, and StarTribune.

“The solution is already making an impact in our customer service operations,” said Jonathan Crane, senior vice president of Axos Bank’s Centers of Excellence. “We’re seeing a significant uptick in a number of performance metrics, and our bankers and customers consistently rave about the technology and its ability to help our team become more responsive. It is the perfect solution for combining human insight with the efficiency of digital banking.”

Glance demoed at FinovateFall 2019 in New York. Headquartered in Massachusetts, Glance has raised $6.2 million since it was founded in 2000. Rich Baker is CEO.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Glance Powers Visual Customer Engagement for Axos Bank.

Around the web

  • Klarna added 60,000 new merchants in 2019,a group which now totals 190,000+.
  • Australia-based Heritage Bank signs 5-year services agreement with Diebold Nixdorf.
  • FIS integrates IBM’s Safer Payments solution with its P2P services to help prevent fraud.
  • Onfido partners with online currency exchange company b-sharpe to provide a better sign up experience using Onfido’s AI-powered identity verification.

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

Blockchain-Based Payments and Rebooting the Financial System

Paystand CEO Jeremy Almond knows a thing or two about business payments. Since co-founding the company in 2013, Almond has implemented numerous improvements to the company’s payments engine, taking full advantage of the blockchain.

Among Paystand’s most recent debuts are the company’s 2018 launch of a blockchain that ensures payment, storing an immutable record of every transaction the company processes. Earlier this year, Paystand launched the Assurety-as-a-Service API that leverages the company’s blockchain to prevent fraud. Paystand also unveiled Automated Receivables, a tool that leverages the blockchain to automate invoice collection.

Almond is a 15-year veteran of the tech industry, having served as a serial entrepreneur, startup advisor, and occasional investor. Almond helped co-found Paystand in 2013 and has since been at the helm of the company as CEO. We caught up with him in an interview earlier this month.

Finovate: What is Paystand and how does it differ from other online payment gateways?

Jeremy Almond: Paystand is a commercial payments platform that automates the entire cash cycle, from invoicing to reconciliation, to make payments an easy, effortless experience.

Today’s financial system is plagued by costly fees, inefficiencies, and paper-driven processes. We believe this broken system is holding businesses back, so we created Paystand to eliminate fees and build the payment framework for the digital era.

Much the same way that Netflix came along and completely re-thought consumption of media or how Tesla has come to market with not just a new vehicle but a business model and mission focused on energy independence, Paystand differentiates itself with its Payments-as-a-Service model. The outdated, inefficient, fee-based approach to commercial payments and money movement no longer makes sense. Instead of taking a cut from every customer sale, our customers pay a flat monthly rate to use our payment software. Essentially, it is unlimited “consumption” for payments with predictable costs. This means that as our customers’ businesses grow, their profits increase instead of their fees.

We’ve also built the most complete digital payment network available to businesses. Using the Paystand Bank Network, customers can move money electronically without paying any fees. It’s the industry’s first zero-cost rail, and the easiest way for businesses to get paid today. It’s also the only blockchain-based payments infrastructure that has been tested at scale with millions of transactions and enterprise volume.

Finovate: You’re a startup investor yourself. How does that influence how you’ve built Paystand?

Almond: Most venture-backed startups fail, especially the high-potential ones. Everyone is hungry to find the next Uber or Facebook, so it’s easier than ever to start a company and get funded. But building a startup that lasts isn’t easy. I think many founders underestimate that and end up spending their time and resources chasing quick exits and unicorn status.

That’s why we do things completely different at Paystand. We’re focused on building a sustainable business that solves real, meaningful problems. There’s a certain business pacing you have to keep up to attract the right investors and gather momentum around your vision. So driving that kind of sustainable growth is our top priority.

Over time, I believe we’re going to see a shift away from companies constantly raising equity to this sustainable growth approach. If you look at the market today, especially after Zoom’s IPO, there’s a real appetite for businesses with a clear path to profitability.

In many ways, being an investor has been an advantage to building Paystand.

Finovate: Tell us about Paystand’s new Fintech Advisory Council launched earlier this year. What was the impetus for this?

Almond: The need for the Fintech Advisory Council really came from our growth. We’ve nearly tripled our revenue this year, which is more than an 8x increase since raising our Series A round. So we built the advisory council to help us scale our product innovation and better meet this demand.

We didn’t make the appointments lightly. These are people who are literally the top of the top for financial services and B2B fintech. CheckFree founder Pete Kight, for example, made it possible to pay bills online with your bank account. Other advisors include the former president of Bill.com and the former president of PayPal. Having these pioneers on our side, guiding us, is going to be a massive value ad as we build the next chapter in commercial finance.

This is a huge mission we’re talking about — rebooting the financial system. Our Fintech Advisory Council is going to help us make that happen.

Finovate: Paystand recently surpassed 100,000 businesses using its platform. What new features does Paystand have in the works to garner its next 100,000 users?

Almond: Although we recently surpassed 100,000 businesses using the platform, we know we’re still just scratching the surface. There are over 6 million B2B companies in the United States alone. And 18 trillion dollars still moves between businesses via paper check every year in this country. That’s a staggering figure. Those businesses need a modern payment solution that doesn’t penalize growth via more and higher fees. So, we’re focused on continuing to deliver the best payment solutions to that market with our core payment platform. We plan on deepening our integrations and relationships with core systems of record like NetSuite to further provide seamless automation of accounts receivable workflows.

At the same time, we’re continuing to build innovative products to enable automation and reduce friction for the entire downstream network involved in payments. We recently launched Autopilot, our receivables automation product that helps companies reduce DSO, decrease late payments, and improve the customer payment experience. And our newly launched Payment Portal gives all of their downstream payers an intuitive interface to view their payments, payer history, and access our payment platform.

Every day, more businesses are making the shift to a more open, inclusive commercial payments infrastructure and are rejecting the outdated, fee-based model that no longer makes sense. We’re proud to help them on their journey.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Blockchain-Based Payments and Rebooting the Financial System.

Around the web

  • BioCatch beefs up insights on behavioral biometrics platform.
  • Fujitsu partners with Personetics to leverage Personetics’ cognitive AI recommendation engine for its new personalized banking cloud service.
  • AutoRABIT partners with nCino to help banks deploy software solutions on the nCino Bank Operating System faster.

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

PayPal Buys Rewards Platform in $4 Billion Deal

Payments titan PayPal is shelling out $4 billion today in a transaction to purchase Honey, an online shopping and rewards platform. The deal is PayPal’s 20th acquisition and closely follows the California-based company’s arrangement with GoPay last month that gives it a 70% ownership in the China-based company.

PayPal, which offers solutions for both end consumers and merchants, will leverage Honey to create a better experience for the end customer while giving its merchant clients a boost through increased sales and customer engagement.

Honey brings with it a network of 30,000 online retailers and 17 million monthly active users. PayPal will be able to engage with these shoppers while they are still at the beginning of their online purchasing experience. Leveraging access PayPal’s 275+ million active customers and network of 24 million merchant accounts, Honey will be able to scale up its user base considerably.

Calling today’s purchase as one of the “most transformative” in the company’s history, PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman went on to praise Honey for its ability to improve the online shopping experience. “The combination of Honey’s complementary consumer products with our platform will significantly enhance our ability to drive engagement and play a more meaningful role in the daily lives of our consumers,” Schulman said. “As a partner of choice for our merchants, this is another way that we can help them build and strengthen their customer relationships, provide personalized offers, and drive incremental sales.”

Logistically, Honey will stay intact, maintaining its headquarters in Los Angeles. The company’s co-founders George Ruan and Ryan Hudson will continue to lead the Honey team, reporting to PayPal’s Senior Vice President John Kunze.

PayPal showcased its Instant Account Creation feature at FinovateFall 2012. The company has a market capitalization of $120 billion.

Pinkaloo Raises $1.25 Million for its Philanthropic Fintech Platform

Pinkaloo revealed this week it has raised $1.25 million in funding for its white label giving platform. Newly-minted Squadra led the round, marking the Baltimore-based venture capital fund’s second-ever investment.

Existing investors and new angel investors also contributed to the round, which brings Pinkaloo’s total funding to $1.8 million when combined with last year’s $550k seed round. The company will use today’s investment to support ongoing pilots with current bank partners, continue product investment, and grow its ADP Marketplace channel partnership to support the workplace version of its giving solution.

Pinkaloo’s Modern Giving solution, which CEO Gideon Taub showcased in a demo that won Best of Show at FinovateFall earlier this year, is a white-label solution that helps banks and credit unions facilitate charitable giving options for their accountholders. Through Modern Giving, users can round up their card purchases to the nearest dollar and donate their spare change, convert rewards points into charitable dollars, and invite friends and family to chip in to crowdfunding campaigns.

“This funding, along with the tractions that we are seeing with banks and the recognition from our Finovate Best of Show Award demonstrate that our product is helping companies drive their business forward,” said Taub. “We’re excited to be able to continue on our mission of helping clients build deeper relationships with their customers, employees, and communities.”

Pinkaloo’s platform echoes a larger philanthropic trend, spawned by end users’ increased interest in charitable giving. Recently, fintechs such as Meniga, Revolut, and Betterment have all launched programs to facilitate donations to humanitarian causes. As a standalone donation facilitation platform, Pinkaloo can help traditional financial institutions compete with fintechs on this level.

Founded in 2017, Pinkaloo has facilitated hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable giving for the end users of its dozens of clients.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Signicat Inks Payments Verification Partnership with Twikey

Around the web

  • Citi goes live with Citi Global Collect, a new cross-border B2B payments tool.
  • Sezzle opens new office in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Finastra hires Lisa Fiondella as Chief Data Officer.
  • ZagTrader wins full certification for its market making technology from Bourse Kuwait.
  • Optimove extends partnership with multiplatform gaming service provider Funstage.
  • Revolut taps Pierre Decote as its new Chief Risk Officer.
  • Signicat teams up with Twikey on payments.

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