Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Vymo Brings AI-Powered Sales Coaching to Insurance Giant Sompo
  • Klarna Picks Amazon Web Services as Preferred Cloud Partner

Around the web

  • Trusted digital identity specialist Signicat partners with payment information service SurePay.
  • 24sessions opens doors at its first regional office in Paris, France.
  • Revolut for Business introduces support for GBP Direct Debits.
  • eXate joins the first cohort of the Velocity Birmingham Fintech Hub.
  • Temenos appoints Michelle Tea as Managing Director for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands.

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.

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.

FinovateMiddleEast Best of Show Winners Announced

Our second FinovateMiddleEast conference is in the books! And after a full day of live fintech demos, our attendees have made their voices heard as to which fintech innovations are most deserving of Best of Show honors. Congratulations to all of our demoing companies for their hard work, and a hearty thanks to our attendees for their votes in our Best of Show competition.

With that, here are the winners of Best of Show at FinovateMiddleEast 2019:

Amber Labs for its Bitcoin Bank, where people anywhere in the world can get all the benefits of a robust, global financial network, without the technical and jurisdictional restrictions, nor the inherent asymmetries, associated with the modern banking system.

efigence for its EFI4 Digital Banking Platform, a seamless digital banking experience that guides retail banking customers through the complexity of the banking world using a three-screen environment.

In addition to all of the companies that demonstrated their technologies live on stage at FinovateMiddleEast this week, we would like to thank our partners and sponsors for their participation and support. We also extend a special thanks to our Strategic Partner, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Finance, whose guidance in this our second FinovateMiddleEast has been invaluable.


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

FinovateAsia 2019

Nigerian Fintechs Near $400m Week; Ant Financial Eyes License in Singapore

The nearly-$400 million poured into fintech companies in Nigeria alone this week is being remarked upon as a testament to the growing investor interest in sub-Saharan Africa. The three recipients of the new capital in recent days are OPay ($120 million), Interswitch ($200 million), and PalmPay ($40 million). The investors include Sequoia Capital China and SoftBank Ventures Asia, as well as China’s Transsion and Visa.

For comparison, African fintechs raised $357 million in all of 2018, according to a 2019 report from the GSM Association, The Mobile Economy, Sub-Saharan Africa. Quoted in the Financial Times on the week’s funding news, Guaranty Trust Bank chief executive Segun Agbaje credited the payments industry for the surge in investment, calling the growth in the sector “probably like no other on the continent.”

Finovate made its African debut last year in Cape Town, South Africa. For an in-depth look at recent trends in African fintech, check out Jonathan Gregson’s “Africa’s Fintech Makeover.”

China’s impact on international fintech is also evident in the news that Ant Financial is considering applying for a virtual banking license in Singapore. Successfully securing such a license would enable Ant Financial to compete against Chinese incumbents like DBS Group Holdings and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. Ant Financial secured a license to operate a digital wallet in Hong Kong last year.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazil’s digital bank Neon raises $94 million in round led by General Atlantic and Brazil Banco Votorantim.
  • Biz Latin Hub’s Craig Dempsey makes the case for Mexico as the fintech sector to watch in 2020.
  • Mexican non-bank wallet service Todito Cash inks partnerships with four financial payment solutions companies.

Asia-Pacific

  • Ant Financial may be one the hunt for a Singaporean virtual banking license, reports Bloomberg, following the online finance titan’s recent scoring of a license to operate a digital wallet in Hong Kong.
  • InstaReM rebrands as Nium, announces cross border payments partnership with Cambodian banking group, PhillipBank.
  • Indonesia’s biggest banking group, Bank Mandiri will use the Avaloq’s Banking Suite to run its wealth management division, which has $14 billion in assets under management.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigeria’s OPay raises $120 million in new funding. The investment adds to the $50 million the mobile payments service raised in June.
  • Asilimia, a Kenya-based fintech that helps SMEs access more efficient mobile payment solutions, secures $350,000 in funding.
  • South African digital commerce fintech Vectra wins Seedstars Cape Town competition.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Revolut reaches 250,000 users in Hungary and reports an 8x gain in monthly transaction volume since the beginning of the year.
  • Latvia-based, P2P lending platform TWINO surpasses €1 billion euros in originated loans.
  • Tradeshift moves Bucharest team to larger office in Tower Center, announces plans to hire more staff next year.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • A partnership between BPC and WeNet will bring a new instant payments system to Yemen.
  • ZagTrader wins full certification for its market making technology from Bourse Kuwait.
  • In partnership with the Dubai Financial Services Authority, Wethaq pilots Sukuk issuance on its securities market infrastructure.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Perfios, a fintech software company based in Bengaluru, raises $50 million from Warburg Pincus and Bessemer Venture Partners.
  • Pakistan’s Askari Bank selects Finastra’s trade finance solution.
  • CredoLabNeener Analytics, and Vymo win finalist spots in the India FinTech Forum’s IFTA 2019 awards.