10 Fintechs that Make Taxes Less Taxing

Taxes, especially in the U.S., can be anxiety-inducing not only for consumers but also for small businesses. And even though this year’s tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15, the filing and payment requirements remain unchanged.

“The daunting task of gathering documents for a year that has passed is one that is difficult for small business owners, especially when they already feel overwhelmed at tax time,” said Lil Roberts, CEO and founder of Xendoo. “Coupling that pain point with small businesses feeling that federal tax is a “black box” and understanding how to maximize tax savings is also extremely frustrating.”

Fortunately, where there is a financial problem there is a fintech solution. There are many fintechs available to help both individuals and businesses not only understand their taxes but also to facilitate tax payment. Below, we’ve highlighted the top 10 tax-focused fintechs.

ANNA

ANNA offers a business bank account and mobile tax app that help merchants with their invoicing, expense tracking, and taxes. The company’s app reminds businesses about tax deadlines and helps them prepare by estimating how much they owe as they earn revenue. ANNA also has a team of accountants to help prepare and submit tax returns.

Avalara

Avalara offers tax compliance tools for a range of businesses. The Seattle-based company, which counts customers such as Pinterest, Adidas, and Bed Bath & Beyond, offers products to help companies calculate sales tax, gather data to prepare and file tax returns, as well as collect, store, and manage tax documents on behalf of the business. Avalara offers products tailored to specific businesses, including ecommerce, lodging, communications, and restaurants.

Credit Karma

In 2016, financial health company Credit Karma launched a free tax filing service. Interestingly, the company was recently purchased by TurboTax parent Intuit for $7 billion. In comparison with Credit Karma’s free service, TurboTax charges users anywhere from $60 to $120 for a federal return and $45 for a state return.

DAVO

DAVO launched in 2011 to be the ADP for merchants’ sales tax. In other words, DAVO automates the entire sales tax process on a business’ behalf. The company connects to the merchant’s point-of-sale technology to collect sales data and sets aside taxes on a daily basis. When sales tax is due, DAVO files and pays on the small business’ behalf.

Gusto

HR and payroll company Gusto has a robust set of services to make small business owners’ lives easier. The company automatically files payroll taxes and distributes I-9s, 1099s, and W-2s to employees. Gusto also helps businesses stay compliant by staying up-to-date on changing tax laws and doing all tax-related calculations on the business’ behalf.

Refundo

Refundo offers a suite of solutions to help tax preparers bring their operations into the digital age. Among the company’s products are mobile document transfers, audit assistance, tax preparation fee collection service, payment acceptance tools, and refund advance technology. At the end of the day, the company’s solutions not only make the tax preparer’s life easier, they make the lives of their taxpaying clients easier, as well.

RoamHR

With a mission to make self-employment easier, RoamHR automatically removes tax withholdings from users’ accounts once they get paid and places the funds into a RoamHR Tax Withholding Account. The company also offers tools that help users track deductible expenses, such as mileage, and helps them file their business taxes each quarter.

Taxnology

Taxnology has built a digital tax compliance center, a web-based solution to help businesses manage their taxes digitally. The company stores business’ historical tax data in the cloud so that it can be used for future cash flow planning and budget purposes or retrieved in the event of an audit. Taxnology is currently only available in Hungary.

Xendoo

Xendoo offers bookkeeping and CPA services that connect with businesses’ financial accounts to deliver monthly reports, business insights, and tax filing. Because Xendoo has a comprehensive view of the merchant’s financials, the company is able to provide tax consulting services, as well.

Xero

Cloud accounting software company Xero has been helping small businesses with their bookkeeping since it was founded in 2006. The company also offers solutions to help tax preparers who have Xero clients automate and customize tax-related tasks. For businesses who prepare taxes on their own, Xero offers tools to file taxes online, as well as prepare sales tax returns using software that leverages a company’s sales data to automatically calculate the taxes.


Roberts added one final thought for those businesses working toward that July 15 deadline. “For a smooth process, best practice is to have monthly bookkeeping done so tax benefits are being collected all year, and having books in order to make tax time more peaceful.” And during a pandemic, anything that can make a process more peaceful is worth doing.

iProov Unveils New Web-Based Biometric Authentication Solution

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Three-time Finovate Best of Show winner iProov is bringing its innovations in biometric authentication to the web browser. The company announced the launch of iProov Web today, giving users of laptop, desktop, and tablet computers the same level of security enjoyed by users of iProov’s mobile app.

“iProov Web is a game changer for the digital identity industry,” company CEO Andrew Bud said. “Millions of people around the world have iProoved themselves on a mobile app, accessing online government, banking or travel services securely by proving that they are who they say they are, and that they are genuinely present during the authentication.”

The new offering is geared toward the significant number of people who prefer to use desktops or laptops, particularly for large online purchases and transactions, or when security is a top concern. In their product announcement, iProov cited data that indicated that while the web represented 37% of online traffic, it nevertheless delivered a disproportionate 56% of online revenue.

iProov’s patented Flashmark technology enables mobile apps to confirm genuine presence and provide seamless authentication, support digital onboarding, or assist in account or password recovery. The technology defends against presentation and replay attacks, as well as deepfakes, by ensuring both that there is a real person conducting the transaction and that the real person, is the right person.

London-based iProov most recently demonstrated its facial recognition-based biometric authentication solution at FinovateEurope in Berlin this February, picking up its third consecutive Best of Show award. Also that month, iProov opened a North American headquarters in Catonsville, Maryland at the Research and Technology Park at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

More recently, the company partnered with SK ID Solutions, bringing its technology to customers in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. iProov was founded in 2011.

Onfido Raises $100 Million Because “Identity is Broken”

Digital identity verification platform Onfido reeled in $100 million in a round led by TPG Growth this week. Salesforce Ventures, Microsoft’s M12 Capital, and others also participated. The London-based company’s total investment now sits at just over $182 million.

The company, which counts TechStars, YCombinator, and 500 Startups among its previous investors, will use the funding toward R&D and global expansion. Specifically, Onfido plans to boost its operations in the North American market.

Onfido started off in 2012 with $20,000 in funding from Oxford University and made those funds last for a whole year. After that, the company said it could go one of two routes: it could grow quickly and rely on investment to sustain operations or it could opt for slower growth but be financially self-sufficient.

“We’ve naturally chosen the grow-fast path because we strongly feel that the time to solve the digital access problem is overdue, and urgently needs to be solved, for good,” said CEO and Co-founder Husayn Kassai.

From the outset, Kassai and fellow co-founders Eamon Jubbawy and Ruhul Amin focused on creating a new standard for digital access that looks beyond credit bureaus for a more inclusive approach that stops fraud without compromising the user experience. “Identity is broken and getting worse, contributing to $2 trillion in laundered money,” said Kassai.

To help overcome this, Onfido tapped the power of machine learning to assess 4,500 types of documents from 195 countries for authenticity, as well as match document photos to the user’s selfie. The technology, which the company showcased at FinovateFall 2018, can be used for user onboarding, identity verification, fraud detection, age verification, and to help meet AML and KYC requirements.

“We didn’t fundraise to just get to the next milestone, we need the funding as we’re changing the world,” added Kassai.

With more than 350 employees across nine offices in London, San Francisco, New York, Albuquerque, Lisbon, Berlin, Paris, New Delhi, and Singapore, Onfido helps more than 1,500 companies verify their users. Among the company’s clients are Revolut, Zipcar, Expensify, and Bitstamp.

How to Underwrite Loans When Everyone is a Higher Risk

COVID-19 has rewritten so many rules about the economy. It is now more difficult than ever to underwrite risk and ultimately understand if a consumer will pay back their loan.

The Wall Street Journal reported late last month that many lenders have implemented stricter lending requirements because of this challenge. In some ways, this is necessary for banks to protect themselves. However, the more stringent standards also create hardships for consumers who could really use some extra cash right now.

Policymakers have intervened to encourage banks to loosen their lending standards to meet consumer needs during this time. Banks are being told not to pay attention to credit as much as they used to and to not collect more than a year’s worth of data for underwriting.

“There is significant pressure by the Small Business Administration to make unsupported loans,” said career banker and author Richard Lawless. “Banks are being told, ‘don’t pay attention to bad credit.’ This will result in loan losses of 10%, or more. All of which amounts to the new CDC guidance for banks, ‘don’t wear you mask, don’t wash your hands, touch everything, and gather in large groups. It’s okay, the government has got your back.'”

Fortunately, non-traditional underwriting models have been gaining popularity in the fintech space. Many of these models don’t rely on a borrower’s financial standing, but instead pull data from alternative sources such as social media. Two things fueling this recent explosion include the availability of more data and the advanced expertise of AI.

California-based Neener Analytics relies on both of these aspects– the abundance of data as well as AI– for its risk outcome predictor. The company offers businesses an “automated psychologist” that tells companies the likelihood that a prospective borrower will pay back a loan. Unlike the way many companies analyze creditworthiness, Neener Analytics doesn’t look at whether or not the consumer’s financial situation is in good shape. “The question isn’t can they pay us back– that’s easy to figure out,” said CEO Jeff LoCastro during his demo at FinovateSpring 2019. “The question is will they.”

The company places a lot of weight on what it considers small data and human data. Regarding the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on consumer credit scores, LoCastro said, “The market is going to be hit with a tidal wave of newly undecisionable consumers: consumers who on a Monday were a good bet, but by Friday will suddenly be unacceptable. They missed payments because of a global COVID shut-down…not because they are a bad risk; this is a health crisis, not a financial one. But the big data algorithms can’t account for that… Only small data can see beyond COVID; only through small data is the consumer still a distinctive individual human being endowed by a unique matrix of conditions and domains that manifests in binary outcomes.”

To help businesses underwrite risk in this new environment, Neener Analytics’ tool turns to social media. With over 70% accuracy, this “automated psychologist” tool can be summoned via a one-click decisioning tool or a chatbot dubbed ARIA. Both methods eliminate the need for lenders to ask more questions on loan applications, which often leads to abandonment.

“We all know sometimes bad things happen to good people,” added LoCastro. “The only way to bridge this is through human data . . . not through more underwhelming historical, transactional, or relational approaches. With Neener Analytics, consumers who were a good bet on Monday . . . will still be a good bet on Friday.”

Currencycloud and Derivative Path to Bring FX to Community Banks

A new strategic partnership between Currencycloud and cloud-based FX trading platform Derivative Path will make it easier for community and regional banks to offer a variety of FX and interest rate derivative trading options to their customers.

Derivative Path will embed Currencycloud’s FX technology into its DerivativeEDGE platform, an end-to-end solution for interest rate derivative, FX, and hedge accounting. Together the offering will provide banks with a solution that enables counterparty/order management, electronic spot FX with integrated Request for Quote execution, third party international payments and receipts, and derivatives valuation, as well as compliance reporting.

Derivative Path co-founder and co-CEO Pradeep Bhatia said, “This joint effort will help us leverage our technology capabilities, global infrastructure, and subject matter expertise, to offer banks a platform to manage their FX and payments, a growing need in an underserved space.”

Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Derivative Path partners with financial institutions, buy-side, and commercial end-users to provide over-the-counter, interest rate derivative and FX trading execution and management solutions. Founded in 2013, the company has more than 100 clients and has facilitated thousands of trades with its interest rate, FX, and hedge accounting technology.

Long-time Finovate alum Currencycloud offers 85 APIs over four modules – collect, convert, manage, and pay – that represent the complete B2B cross-border payment workflow. The company has processed $50+ billion to more than 180 countries around the world.

Most recently demonstrating its technology at FinovateSpring 2018, Currencycloud has raised more than $160 million in funding. The company picked up nearly half that sum in a Series E round at the beginning of the year. In February, Currencycloud announced a partnership with U.K. travel money card, Currensea. Mike Laven is CEO.

Kyckr Deepens Relationship with Citi

Regtech company Kyckr, which first partnered with its client Citigroup in 2016, has extended its relationship with the bank. Kyckr announced today that it will now provide Citi Commercial Bank with its client verification platform.

Kyckr’s verification platform has information on more than 200 company registries and 170+ million legal entities across 120 countries. Citi Commercial Bank will use the company’s API to verify business information using documents that detail ownership and control, financials, solvency, and more when onboarding new commercial clients.

“Onboarding new clients when opening a bank account is the first stage in customer verification, involving gathering vital information on the customer and conducting identity checks to comply with Know-Your-Customer regulations,” said Kyckr CEO Ian Henderson. “More and more businesses are looking into automated and accurate means of adhering to Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer obligations to prevent fraud, and this is where our technology is well positioned in the market.”

Along with Citi Commercial Bank, Kyckr also serves Citi’s Institutional Clients Group (ICG) and Trade and Transaction Services (TTS) with its corporate data solutions.

Kyckr has provided APIs and cloud-based automated decision engines to help companies with KYC compliance, due diligence, and customer onboarding since it was founded in 2007. The Australia-based company is listed on the ASX under the ticker KYK and has a market capitalization of $10.85 million (AUD $16.9 million). Since going public, Kyckr has raised $11 million in post-IPO equity.

In addition to Citigroup, Kyckr’s clients include DemystData, the Bank of Ireland, and others.

Three Ways Digital Identity is Combating the COVID-19 Crisis

Technology companies from every corner of the globe have been lending their talent, resources, and solutions to help deal with the health and economic implications of the COVID-19 crisis. While those firms in health technology have obviously played the lead role, innovators in virtually every field of technology are bringing their unique expertise to the challenge.

Here are three ways that companies specializing in digital identity and identity management are helping organizations, institutions, and individuals manage the global pandemic.

Know Your Carrier

One of the key ways that countries like South Korea have “flattened the curve” of the pandemic is through an approach called “test and trace.” This strategy relies on accurately identifying those who have the coronavirus and then tracking down all those individuals who have had contact with the infected individual so that they can be tested for the virus.

For example, In China, in addition to temperature checks outside of public places like restaurants, officials are leveraging smartphones and QR codes to identify those who are infected with the virus, and to track their recent movements to locate others who may have been in contact with the infected person. In the West, the news that Apple and Google are collaborating to develop a contact tracing solution that will help us meet this specific challenge is a positive sign. Yet as hopeful as this opportunity may be, it is not without caveats.

“It’s really important to get the cooperation of the public,” Recode Executive Director Kara Swisher told CNBCs Squawk Box Monday morning during a discussion on the Apple/Google initiative. She flashed her sleep and activity-tracking Oura ring, noting that wearables could be among the mobile technologies that could be used to make contact tracing as seamless as possible. “More power to the tech companies means more power to the tech companies,” she said. “The only question is will they give it back when this is over?”

Know Your Customer

Getting money into the hands of unemployed and furloughed workers is one challenge. Getting money into the bank accounts of businesses forced to close their doors during this period of quarantine and social distancing has proved, in some ways, to be an even steeper challenge. Many in the small business community were caught off guard, for example, when they learned that in order to access federal COVID-19 relief funds they would need to have a relationship with a participating financial institution.

The issue is that, even in an emergency, knowing your partner is paramount. And in order for banks to be financially responsible, they need to pursue the same measure of KYC diligence on applicants for emergency funding as they would for any other banking customer. To fail to do so would leave these institutions vulnerable, potentially, to massive fraud losses – turning an already challenging environment for banks even worse. Making it easier for financial institutions to engage needy SMEs by leveraging many of the innovations in Big Data and advanced machine learning – while remaining compliant and financially responsible – is a slam dunk opportunity for a sizable number of fintechs.

This is a reminder that regtech may not be appear to be the most important subsector within financial technology. But in the same way that the global pandemic is causing us to think as much about epidemiologists as we do about emergency room doctors, the current challenge in KYC also reminds us of how important innovations in regtech are not only within technology, but also for society as well.

Know Your Crew

While many are understandably eager to “re-open the country,” it remains likely that thousands of workers will continue to work remotely – at least in the near term. This phenomenon has been a boon for companies like Zoom that provide technology that enables online conferencing and makes it easier for workers who do not traditionally work from home to do so.

One major challenge for these newly-homebound employees is ensuring that they are logging into their company’s networks and platforms in a safe and secure manner. Beyond having the infrastructure to support remote work, having the capacity to authenticate legitimate remote workers, and to make sure that the data they are transmitting back and forth remains out of the hands of hackers and cybercriminals is critical.

Indeed, one of the discontents of the “Zoom Boom” is that many people using the platform have raised major privacy concerns, including reports that Zoom conferences have been infiltrated by hackers, interrupting live presentations with obscene images.

As with KYC, this is another area where fintech’s regtech calvary is coming to the rescue. Firms like Onfido and Jumio, among many others, have made their identity verification technologies available for free to organizations and institutions in the health and home care fields that are on the frontlines of the fight against the virus.

Visa and Fold Offer Co-Branded Card with Crypto Rewards

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Payments giant Visa has teamed up with Atlanta, Georgia-based Fold to launch a co-branded debit card that offers rewards in the form of bitcoin. The partnership was announced late last week, and is the fruit of Fold’s participation in Visa’s Fintech Fast Track program.

The new debit cards are expected to be available in July. Users will get up to 10% of their cash purchases credited in Bitcoin. What’s unique about Fold’s approach with the new card is that it enables users to earn Bitcoin while spending in dollars. As Fold CEO and co-founder Will Reeves explained, by spending in dollars and accumulating Bitcoin rather than spending it, users avoid the potential tax implications of selling the digital asset.

This new initiative extends Fold’s business beyond enabling shoppers to buy dollar-denominated gift cards from popular brands like Amazon, Uber, and Starbucks with Bitcoin. Made available on an “early access” basis last fall, the Fold app also gives consumers 20% cashback in bitcoin on all purchases, fiat or crypto.

“We’re changing the fact that rewards points are issued in the form of restricted airline miles, arbitrary points, or depreciating fiat, instead of the best performing asset of the last decade: bitcoin,” Reeves wrote on the company blog back in September. “But unlike existing rewards that require users to give up their privacy for points, Fold’s new app rewards users for shopping privately.”

The partnership is a second bite at the bitcoin apple for Visa. A year ago Visa and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase introduced a Visa debit card in the U.K. The contactless card syncs with the user’s Coinbase account and, for a fee of approximately 2.5%, enables users to make purchases in fiat currency and have the responding amount of the cryptocurrency debited from whichever cryptocurrency account the users selects.

Fold was founded in 2014. The company has raised $3.3 million in funding, and includes Craft Ventures, CoinShares, Slow Ventures, Goldcrest Capital, and Fulgur Ventures among its investors.

Goldman Sachs Launches POS Financing Product

With citizens across the globe finding themselves in a financial crunch, Goldman Sachs’ new product may be coming at just the right time. The investment bank launched a point-of-sale (POS) financing solution that will help users pay for larger purchases over time.

The POS tool, MarcusPay, helps borrowers afford items ranging from $750 to $10,000 by paying for them over the course of 12 to 18 months. Goldman Sachs doesn’t require any money down and there are no fees for purchases made with MarcusPay. The interest rates for MarcusPay purchases range from 10.99% to 25.99% APR. These rates are competitive with those of credit cards, which average just over 15% APR.

Goldman is piloting MarcusPay with JetBlue Vacations, a partnership that was formed before the recent pandemic quashed any and all vacation planning.

Aside from the launch partner fumble, MarcusPay faces a few more hurdles to compete with companies such as Sezzle, Affirm, and Klarna, which have been gaining traction in the U.S. in the POS financing space for the past few years.

The first issue is that MarcusPay requires users to apply for financing during the transaction flow. The extra hurdle of filling out an application in the middle of the purchasing experience may be enough for users to abandon the purchase altogether. Second, the popularity of POS financing is due, in large part, to millennial consumers that do not have a credit card. This is quite different from Goldman’s target market, which is primarily comprised of mass affluent consumers. Additionally, the POS financing product may result in cannibalization– that is, Goldman’s credit card holders may opt to use the POS financing product instead of their credit card in order to benefit from a potentially lower interest rate.

The one benefit that MarcusPay has in competing in the POS financing space is that its service is generally geared toward financing larger purchases.

Xignite Secures Patent for Market Data Driven Alerts; eXate Earns Accelerator Spot

Market data distribution and management solutions provide Xignite has scored a patent for the technology behind its CloudAlerts REST API. The patent recognizes the company’s innovation in developing real-time alerts based on pre-defined stock market conditions. This technology can be added to website or mobile apps by developers to provide users with real-time, automatic notifications on everything from price breakouts to volume surges via SMS, email or onscreen.

What’s unique about Xignite’s approach is the way it is able to deliver market data-driven user alerts at scale, incorporating both the wide variety of user preferences as well as processing a sizable volume of exception conditions in real-time. Fellow Finovate alum SoFi leverages Xignite CloudAlerts in its SoFi Invest service, using the technology to warn investors when a portfolio holding drops below critical levels.

“SoFi saw record investing activity last week during the coronavirus outbreak and that really tested our alerts system,” SoFi Trading and Investment Manager Samuel Nofzinger said. “Our customers value the alerts because they help them invest and protect their money better, especially in today’s volatile market.”


Congratulations to eXate Technologies. The U.K.-based cybersecurity firm – and FinovateEurope 2018 alumearned a spot in Tech Nation’s Cyber 2.0 growth program. This year’s class marks the second cohort for the program, which is geared toward early-stage cybersecurity startups. Companies participating in the six-month accelerator get peer-to-peer learning with program mentors, masterclasses led by expert scale coaches, as well as meetups and networking with peers, investors, and potential clients.


Add Onfido to the list of Finovate alums that are pitching in to help organizations manage the COVID-19 pandemic. The company announced late last week that it is offering six free months’ use of its biometric identity solution to nonprofit organizations that are fighting the coronavirus. Nonprofits in healthcare, home care, and education are among those to benefit from the program, including a company that uses Onfido’s technology to verify completion of COVID-19 testing.


The Finovate Podcast is on fire! If you’ve not been able to keep up, here are links to the latest conversations with host Greg Palmer.


Here is our weekly roundup of news from our Finovate alums.

  • FreeAgent partners with NatWest to offer its customers online cloud accounting software.
  • Zogo Finance drops app set-up fees for its credit union customers in Louisiana.
  • Ellie Mae announces general availability of peer benchmarking comparison analysis solution, Ellie Mae Insights.
  • Baker Hill launches NextGen SBA Fast Track to help SMBs access CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds.
  • Temenos wins Google Cloud Technology Partner of the Year award.
  • NYMBUS teams up with NCR Corporation to help SMBs impacted by COVID-19.
  • University First FCU brings on Insuritas to launch a digital insurance agency.
  • Artegence and Efigence become Magnolia Platinum Partners.
  • Kabbage partners with an undisclosed bank to deliver Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to U.S. small businesses.
  • Moven founder Brett King hints at partnership with Varo Money, encourages users to open an account.
  • ShopKeep and Lendio partner to help small businesses access COVID-19 funds.
  • ATFX now accepting payments via Trustly.
  • ACI Worldwide unveils new “Delay My Payment” feature of its ACI Speedpay solution to help billers and consumers during the COVID crisis.
  • DriveWealth launches DriveHSA, a new tool for Health Savings Account platform providers.
  • Kasasa sees a 288% increase in borrowers using its Take-Back feature.
  • Stash now counts one million banking customers.
  • MX launches portal for banks navigating the Small Business Administration’s new Payment Protection Program.
  • Credit Hero leverages Salt Edge to access borrower’s bank data.
  • Finanteq introduces new initiative to provide free digital banking tools – Pocket Branch and Extentum – to banks during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Bankjoy hosts online summit to address how credit unions and fintechs can partner to respond to the economic challenges of COVID-19.

Finovate Alumni Features and Profiles

The Importance of Financial Literacy During Uncertain Economic Times – A growing number of fintechs – many of them Finovate alums you’ll meet below – have devised innovative ways to help young people in particular, become better earners, savers, spenders, and investors.

Kabbage Collaborates with Facebook to Back Retailers During the COVID Crisis – Together, the two companies will help merchants continue to generate revenue at a time when their customers – for sound reasons based on public health – are largely staying away.

SoFi Inks Agreement to Acquire Galileo Financial Technologies – In a cash and stock deal valued at $1.2 billion, online lender and personal finance innovator SoFi has agreed to acquire financial services API and payments platform, Galileo Financial Technologies.

Building a Financial Advisor for Main Street America – We recently chatted with SuperMoney founder and CEO Miron Lulic to give us an update on the company’s platform that helps consumers reach their financial goals.

BankBazaar Adds $3.8 Million to Series D – The capital comes from Amazon and Walden SKT Venture Fund, who have joined Sequoia, GUS Holdings, and Eight Roads Investments in the round. 

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Challenger Banks Down Under Raise Capital Amid Crisis

What a week it’s been for the challenger bank business in the Land Down Under!

Australian small business challenger bank Judo just announced a major fundraising, securing an investment of $307 million (AUD 500 million) from a pair of Australian government agencies.

The Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) and the Australian Structured Finance Support Fund (SFSF) contributed equally. The investment makes Judo the first recipient of funding from Australia’s two-billion dollar small business funding program. The program was initially designed in 2018 to help promote competition between the country’s major banks and to provide more financing opportunities for the country’s small business.

“At a time when the availability of credit has never been more important to tens of thousands of Australian SMEs, Judo is delighted to be able to announce such a substantial investment by the AOFM,” Judo co-founder and co-CEO David Hornery said.

The country’s first SME-oriented challenger bank, Judo earned its full banking license just under a year ago. This spring, Judo announced securing a three-year, $350 million credit facility with Citi. The challenger bank has a deposit book of $860 million (AUD 1.4 billion).


An infusion of capital from the private sector has boosted the coffers of fellow Australian challenger bank 86 400. The firm announced this week that it has raised $20.8 million (AUD 34 million) in new funding in a round led by Morgan Stanley.

The Series A round takes 86 400’s total capital to $57 million (AUD 90 million). Also participating were an Australian superannuation fund, high net worth investors and family offices, as well as fund managers.

“At our current rate of growth, we should hit 500,000 accounts on the platform in the next 12 months,” 86 400 CEO Robert Bell said. “Of course, that will be balanced by growing the lending side of our business and we anticipate having a mortgage book of close to $2 billion by the end of 2021.”

86 400, which bills itself as “Australia’s first smartbank,” launched in September of last year and currently has more than 170,000 accounts on its platform. With more than 350,000 transactions and balance updates processed daily, and a mortgage book of $20 million, 86 400 currently offers two accounts – Pay and Save – that make spending convenient and incentivize savings.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Mamo Pay, a Dubai-based fintech developing a P2P payments app, raises $1.5 million in seed funding.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Halalah attains e-money institution license after graduating ahead of schedule from its sandbox trial period.
  • UAE-based fintech Rise locks in growth funding believed to be in excess of $1 million.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Fintech News takes a look at the “10 Fastest Growing Fintechs in India.”
  • BusinessWorld India examines the role of fintech in driving the digitalization trend in India.
  • Pakistan Today features American fintech entrepreneur Brandon Timinsky and his efforts to launch SadaPay in Pakistan.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Cryptonews looks at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Mexican fintech.
  • Contexto sees more fintechs in Chile’s future, courtesy of a new global entrepreneur network, Endeavor.
  • Latin American on-demand delivery startup partners with Arcus to launch new payment app, RappiPay.

Asia-Pacific

  • Hong Kong fintech Neat raises $11 million in Series A featuring participation from Visa among other investors.
  • HSBC goes live with its Smart Mobile Onboading for customers in China.
  • Hong Kong-based online lender Credit Hero partners with Salt Edge.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South Africa’s Vodacom and Kenya’s Safaricom conclude acquisition of mobile money platform, M-Pesa.
  • Senegalese mobile network operator, Free, deploys Comviva’s mobiquity Money solution.
  • South Africa’s Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG) unveils new innovation hub.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Russian payments platform Qiwi picks up investment from Japan’s SBI.
  • Germany corporate pension and life insurance digitization company Xpension raises $27 million (EUR25 million) in Series C funding.
  • Fintechs innovating in ecommerce, payments, and real estate populate EU Startups’ look at top 10 Romanian startups for 2020.

Top image designed by Freepik

BankBazaar Adds $3.8 Million to Series D

Indian online financial products marketplace BankBazaar has boosted its current Series D round by $3.8 million. The capital comes from Amazon and Walden SKT Venture Fund, who have joined Sequoia, GUS Holdings, and Eight Roads Investments in the round. This week’s investment adds to the $30 million in Series D funds BankBazaar raised in 2017. Fellow Finovate alum Experian is the lead investor in the round.

The investment is also the second time Amazon has put capital in the company, having contributed $60 million to BankBazaar’s Series C round in 2015. The company’s total funding stands at north of $115 million.

BankBazaar offers consumers instant customized rate quotes on financial products like loans, mutual funds, and insurance. BankBazaar’s platform enables shoppers to compare offers and apply for products online as well as via its mobile app. More than 50 of India’s top financial companies and insurance firms are featured on BankBazaar’s platform, which also provides information on personal finance trends and tips on how consumers can manage their finances better.

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Chennai, India, BankBazaar has been a Finovate alum since 2012 when the company demoed its real-time credit processing platform. Last year, the company announced a partnership with furniture and home products marketplace Pepperfry, teamed up with Ujjivan Small Finance Bank for Personal Loans, and added business cards to its offerings courtesy of a collaboration with Yes Bank.

Earlier this year, BankBazaar CEO Adhil Shetty told LiveMint that the company was “on track” to reach profitability in fiscal 2020 and that he was looking to take the company public “in the next few years.” He added that the company has more than 40 million registered customers and recently experienced an average 46% gain in monthly revenue. This was immediately before the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic became clear to many, a topic the company addressed in an open letter last month.

“Digital demand is only going to increase as consumers seek to minimize all physical interactions during and post COVID-19 and we are working on a war footing to ensure people get safe digital access to credit,” Shetty wrote along with co-founders Arjun (COO) and Rati (CPO) Shetty. “We are actively working with leading industry bodies and lenders to develop deeper digital access, something that will become the new normal in a post COVID-19 world.”