This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.
Tracking fintech, banking & financial services innovations since 1994
A look at the companies demoing at FinovateFall Digital on September 14 through 16, 2020. Register today and save your spot.
With Yext’sYextAnswers, you can take 10 to 15% of your site search traffic and turn it into a lead generation engine to meet retention and revenue goals.
Intent marketing can be used to retain profitable clients
Digital can drive profits to physical banks and financial professionals
NLP and AI will transform site search via the knowledge graph
Why it’s great Google began using NLP and knowledge graphs to serve answers in 2016. It’s time for financial institutions to answer customer questions at their moment of intent with the same proven technology.
Shane Closser, Global Head of Industry, Finance Closser is the Head of Industry/General Manager for Financial Services at Yext. He leads all financial services-related activities, including strategy, product, and ISV and GTM partnerships. LinkedIn
The aptly-named stock trading app Robinhood continues to show that it is as good at taking money from the rich as it is in bringing investment opportunity to the masses. The company announced on Monday that it has raised $200 million in new funding in a Series G round featuring D1 Capital Partners. This latest funding comes less than a month after the Robinhood closed a Series F round that was topped off with a $320 million investment, and takes the company’s valuation to $11.2 billion.
“For seven years, the team at Robinhood has been focused on enabling more access to the markets for more people,” the company’s blog read Monday morning. “With this funding, we’ll continue to invest in improving our core product and customer experience.”
Believe it or not, Robinhood has been busy between its last multi-million dollar fundraising less than 30 days ago and this one. Earning certification as a Great Place to Work in the U.S. in July, Robinhood hired Christina Smedley as Chief Marketing Officer early this month and, also in July ,unveiled a new visual identity. Last week, ahead of today’s fundraising announcement, the company revealed plans to “hire hundreds of additional registered financial representatives in both Texas and Arizona this year.
“Supporting and communicating with our customers – both those new to investing and those with more experience – is a critical part of our responsibility to them,” Head of Customer Experience at Robinhood Alex Mesa said. “We’ve more than doubled our support team since January and we’ll continue to grow our teams to provide timely, helpful responses to our customers.”
With its commission-free trading and investing platform, fractional share availability, and Millennial, mobile-first mindset, Robinhood has become a major influence in the retail brokerage business. Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Menlo Park, California, the company has more than 13 million traders and investors on its platform.
The big card companies continue to make the kind of deals that underscore the importance of fintech to the future of financial services. This week we get confirmation that international payments giant American Express has agreed to acquire SME lender Kabbage.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Speculation on the deal in recent days has put the purchase price between $850 million and $1 billion.
The acquisition will include Kabbage’s team, its suite of financial technology solutions, as well as the company’s data platform and IP built for small businesses. American Express also plans to leverage Kabbage’s technology and talent to offer additional cash flow management and working capital solutions to its small business customers. In the acquisition announcement, American Express highlighted Kabbage’s recently introduced business checking account, which centralizes funds for easier cash flow management.
“This acquisition accelerates our plans to offer U.S. small businesses an easy and efficient way to manage their payments and cash flow digitally in one place, which is more critical than ever in today’s environment,” President of Global Commercial Services at American Express Anna Marrs said.
A Finovate alum for more than a decade, Kabbage has raised $2.5 billion in funding, with the company’s last equity round closing in 2017 after raising $250 million. This year, in addition to the launch of its business checking account, Kabbage distinguished itself as a major conduit for small businesses seeking COVID-19 related relief funding. The company said it has facilitated 300,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans valued at more than $7 billion. Kabbage’s participation in the program was a dramatic return to its role as a resource for small business financing after the company suspended SME lending in April in response to the global health crisis.
“At Kabbage, we have always made the success of America’s small businesses our primary objective,” Kabbage CEO and co-founder Rob Frohwein said in a statement. “We have built a technology and a data platform that provides them with the kind of capabilities and insights often reserved for larger businesses. By joining American Express, we can help more small businesses succeed with a fully digital suite of financial products to help them run and grow their companies.”
As part of the agreement, both Kabbage’s securitized SME loans and its PPP laons will be serviced by an separate entity to be established by Kabbage and American Express, the Financial Times reported.
American Express’ purchase of Kabbage comes less than a month after another big acquisition in the online SME lending space: Enova International’s $90 million deal for OnDeck. For both companies, the acquisitions provide the opportunity to expand meaningfully beyond their core competencies: Enova adding to its consumer lending operations, and AMEX bringing working capital and SME financing to its commercial card business.
The acquisition is expected to close later in 2020.
The Finovate Awards recognize the best and brightest of the fintech industry, and while we aren’t able to hold an in-person gala dinner this year, it’s more important than ever that we recognize the strong work being done by those across the fintech spectrum who are pushing the industry forward.
We had a record number of nominations this year, and our judges had some very difficult decisions to make as they whittled the nominees down to the short lists for each category. Their initial task is complete, though, and we’re delighted to be able to announce the short lists for each category below. Congrats to all the finalists on making it this far!
Best Fintech Partnership
Radius Bank and Treasury Prime
American Express and Nova Credit
PPP.bank (Citizens Bank of Edmond and Teslar Software)
The following is a guest post by Borys Pikalov Head of Analytics and Cofounder at Stobox.
One of the greatest challenges in fintech is reaching the unbanked. Accessing poor communities is operationally complicated and their use of financial services is very limited.
Microfinancing institutions are only a partial solution and traditional loans do not work as an investment vehicle because they are risky for both parties: banks don’t want to give, and poor don’t want to take. To solve this puzzle we may use two creative concepts from financial engineering.
Individual investment contract
Instead of taking a loan, people promise part of their future income in exchange for money. This reduces the risk for farmers in case they cannot pay off the debt. This is already being practiced when corporations provide education grants to poor students in exchange for future employment.
Instead of taking a single loan from banks, real estate developers issue debt securities and sell them to many institutions. Thus, the loan is divided into many small parts that may be traded on a secondary market, which spreads the risk for parties giving the credit. For conventional real estate loans, the maximum debt-to-value ratio is ~60%, while for securitized loans it is ~90%, which means that 50% higher risk is acceptable.
Combining these two concepts we arrive at personal securities – individual investment contracts issued in the form of securities that can be divided into small parts and traded on a secondary market. There is already an example of a personal securities offering in use: a software developer offered a part of his future income in order to move to Silicon Valley.
The use of personal securities can solve the risk puzzle of investing in poor communities. However, there are a number of practical problems to be solved in order for personal securities to be an efficient solution.
First of all, personal securities should be powered by proper technology. Offering many securities to many investors in dozens of different countries requires robust and scalable infrastructure. Blockchain technology is widely considered suitable for these purposes. In the last few years, providers of securities tokenization made serious progress and now enable convenient mass operations with securities. For example, the blockchain was used to reduce the entry threshold in a $22 million venture fund by 2,0000 times– from $1,000,000 to $500.
Another problem is the operational complexity. Using personal securities would require reaching poor communities, doing the legal groundwork of signing investment contracts, choosing investment opportunities, and gathering and distributing income. This requires wide collaboration between existing banking providers, governments, nonprofits, and startups.
A solution may be to organize everything as an investment fund that would issue securities to investors worldwide and use the proceeds to organize the investment process and do the investment itself. Pooling investment into funds can further reduce the risk for investors. It is better to do pilot projects to test the best structures.
The next big investment opportunity
Giving money to poor communities is the next big investment opportunity. It would not only directly benefit investors but also all businesses that can sell to poor communities. It can vastly improve the financial outcomes of developing countries. Most importantly, it can assist in finally ending extreme poverty and providing people with a dignified life.
Borys Pikalov is Cofounder and Head of Business Analytics at Stobox, an award-winning advisory and technology company in the field of securities tokenization. Pikalov has done 2500+ hours of research in the digital securities industry. Co-author of the book “How to Attract Investments with STO: A Practical Guide”. He is currently advising the government of Ukraine about developing an ecosystem for virtual assets.
Earned wage access startup PayActivclosed $100 million today for its technology that helps companies offer their employees their pay on a daily basis rather than wait for their bi-weekly paycheck.
The Series C round was led by Eldridge and includes existing investors Generation Partners and the Ziegler Link•Age Fund II. The investment brings PayActiv’s total funding to $134 million.
The company will use the funds to expand its client base, which currently consists of 1,400+ businesses and organizations representing more than four million employees. Walmart, Wayfair, and Ibex Global are some of the major employers in PayActiv’s portfolio.
“American families are facing more financial stress than they have in generations,” said PayActiv CEO and Co-Founder Safwan Shah. “The timing gap between work and wages is the main reason workers get hit with punitive late fees, overdraft fees and other penalties. Cumulatively, these fees reduce wages by seven percent every month. The PayActiv platform is the only system where everyone wins: employers lift worker morale with little to no cost and huge dividends; employees get wages when they actually need them most; and cash re-enters the economy faster, making communities financially healthier.”
PayActiv was founded in 2011 and has emerged as a major financial wellness tool for employers. In addition to offering flexibility around how frequently employees receive payment, PayActiv also gives employees multiple options of how they receive payment. Workers can opt for direct cash pickup, a PayActiv prepaid card, an instant Visa or Mastercard debit card load, an ACH payment, or use their wages to pay bills, make purchases on Amazon, or purchase rides on Uber.
The company also offers financial wellness and planning tools that help employees to save, budget, and manage their money. Additionally, PayActiv announced today that it will offer employers a retirement benefit in partnership with Security Benefit, a retirement services provider based in Kansas.
Demand for earned wage access tools are on the rise, especially in today’s post-COVID economy. Sending employees their paychecks on a daily basis can help them avoid overdraft fees and high interest financing options such as payday loans and credit card debt.
“The future of pay is not a two-week cycle,” said Eldridge Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO Todd Boehly. “By simply giving people access to their wages as they earn them, PayActiv increases the velocity of money, stimulating the economy and serving employers and employees by driving costs down and efficiencies up.”
Mario Aquino, Founder and Managing Partner of FutureLabs Ventures, looks back at FinovateAsia Digital, and the panel on Financial Wellness: How the Digital Shift In Asia Has Created Opportunities to Better Serve The Underserved, to share his key takeaways and thoughts for the future of financial wellness.
Last month I joined a distinguished panel of speakers, including Ryan Jonghoon Kim (Group Chief Digital Officer, FWD Insurance), Lotte Schou Zibell (Regional Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Ankit Shrivastava (Director Digital Product, Aegon Asia), Yinglan Tan (Founding Managing Partner, Insignia Ventures Partners), and Amran Hassan (Chief Executive Officer, Etiqa Insurance and Takaful). We explored 4 questions:
What does financial wellness and serving the underserved mean to each organisation?
What are the latest exciting innovations across the payments/remittance, lending and insurance landscapes?
What are the key challenges to increase adoption of new solutions (including having a financial identity, financial literacy) and what is the impact of Covid on this?
Where are the next big opportunities and areas of impact? — as the focus moves from remittances to lending & insurance solutions and, even more broadly, goes beyond financial services to include HealthTech, EduTech & ESG solutions that benefit the underserved.
It is not my intent of this article to reiterate the full content of our session, instead I would like to focus on sharing my 3 key takeaways about Asia, the diversity and nuances it presents.
1. A quarter of a trillion in new GDP value can be created through the scale of the unbanked opportunity available in Asia
The scale of opportunity to better serve the underserved is enormous. There are 1.7B (30%) unbanked adults globally, out of which 2/3 of them own a mobile phone that could access financial services. 658M of the unbanked population live in Asia. 200M of them are expected to join an exponentially growing middle class by 2030. To provide a sense of scale of the opportunity that lies ahead, it can be estimated that if a portion of this population is converted to a banked population, a quarter of a trillion in new GDP value can be created. At FutureLabs Ventures, serving the underserved is one of our three megatrends we focus on — we call this “serving the next 1 Billion” – which is a tremendous opportunity to do well by doing good.
While the opportunity is incredibly big, there are no doubt various challenges to unlock it. These range from reaching the unbanked (especially where there is no electricity), financial identity and literacy, to fraudulent activities. One of the areas that is being widely studied by Aegon Asia, a financial services company, as shared by Ankit, is the right ecosystem to reach the unbanked, and a question being asked is ‘would digital or physical solutions be more effective for this group?’. That being said, the increase in smartphones is making access easier — and it is a trend that is only going to improve.
2. Covid-19 is a great catalyst to change consumer behaviours and leverage on the help of a broader ecosystem to create effective solution for the underserved
A significant shift in consumer behavior has been seen as a result of Covid-19, primarily in the adoption of digital non-cash payments. During the initial outbreak period, the World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with guidelines encouraging contactless payments as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. The psychological fear set in created more willingness in merchants to accept non-cash payments and use channels such as Instagram, QR Pay, E-wallets while absorbing any transaction cost for the transfer.
In our panel discussion, Amran confirmed that in markets like Malaysia, he believes this consumer behavior will stick as merchants realize the benefits from digital payments. But, in order for these consumer behaviors to continue to be adopted by the unbanked/underserved, a concerted collaboration among all ecosystem players is needed — central banks, governments, fintechs and large corporates — in order to bring to market targeted solutions that address real pain points and are interoperable. As Lotte well emphasised during our conversation, there are two critical aspects to be addressed in the process. Firstly, the basic rails for financial access – from digital identity to financial literacy; and secondly, interoperability and data protection need to be integrated right from the outset to encourage broader adoption and impact vs. the proliferation of an sub-scale set of individual solutions that don’t work with each other. If we are able to achieve this broader ecosystem collaboration, we would have put the setting for real impact at scale — where individual creativity and entrepreneurship is encouraged, but within an ecosystem that allows scale, competition as well as collaboration.
3. Financial Inclusion is not a means to an end, but rather a means to create access to Healthcare, Education and other Services
Financial access has a key role to play in day-to-day living and facilitating individuals in everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies. Overtime, individuals with financial access are more likely to use the access to invest in education, health, weather financial shocks and improve their overall quality of life.
As Ying Lan also shared, I truly believe there is an ever greater realization and awareness of the consequent positive effects that financial inclusion in Asia can create. These are new and sizeable customer segments that can generate new business opportunities for corporates and start-ups.
It would be wonderful to continue to see a high and close collaboration among all ecosystem participants — entrepreneurs, investors, banks, corporates and large tech firms — to unlock these opportunities and to do well while doing good!
The decision by Canada’s Constellation Software to acquire Uruguayan technology firm – and Finovate alum – Infocorp earlier this year is a reminder of the vibrancy of the fintech ecosystems thriving in the countries to the north and south of the U.S. The acquisition was completed in June via Constellation Software’s U.S.-based subsidiary Aquila.
“We have been looking for a partner to support us as we move to our next level of experience for our clients,” InfoCorp CEO Ana Inex Echavarren said. “We are excited to join Aquila and the Constellation family as they believe in long-term relationships, and the ‘buy and hold forever’ approach supports us in our focus on long term growth with our clients.”
Montevideo-based InfoCorp offers its customers an omnichannel banking platform that leverages the latest advanced technologies – conversational AI, machine learning, voice recognition, and chatbots – to build solutions to better engage and serve financial services customers. With clients such as Banco Santander, Banco de Bogota, Banco Internacional, and Towerbank, the 25+ year old company made its Finovate debut in 2017, demonstrating its marketing and commercial actions orchestrator platform that enables more agile, personalized, marketing campaigns that lead to higher conversion rates and ROI.
“InfoCorp has an inspiring focus on their clients,” Aquila CEO Mike Byrne said. “To produce solutions that connect the banks with their clients is such a deep passion for the team at InfoCorp. We are really looking forward to working with the group.” Operations at InfoCorp will remain the same, post-acquisition, with Echavarren continuing as CEO and the company keeping its client portfolio and offices. InfoCorp has 250+ workers in its development and innovation centers in Santiago de Chile, Montevideo, and Colonia.
In fact, the company announced last month that it is looking to expand into both Mexico and Argentina in the wake of the acquisition, with potential expansion to Europe, Canada, and the U.S., as well. Echavarren told BNamericas that the company is currently growing at a rate of 40% to 50% a year over the past five years and is looking at investments to power Infocorp’s ability to enter bigger markets.
The fintech ecosystem in Uruguay is often overlooked compared to the fintech industries in other Latin American nations such as Mexico and Brazil – both of which Uruguay borders. With a population of approximately three and a half million, the country is the second smallest in South America and gets high marks on a number of metrics including democracy, low perception of corruption, and e-government. Uruguay is regarded as a “high-income country” by the United Nations.
In its look at fintech in Uruguay, Contxto highlighted a baker’s dozen of companies that are not only growing regionally, but moving closer to expansion worldwide. The feature divides the country’s fintech industry into five components: payments, exchange, open banking, investments, and what it calls “fintech enterprise services (FES).” This primarily involves providing fintech solutions to online financial services companies.
Here is our look at fintech around the world.
A partnership with Standard Chartered Bank will enable Airtel Africa to build its fintech business and help support financial inclusion.
South African digital banking platform provider Ukheshe earns finalist spot in the 2020 Ecobank Fintech Challenge.
ThisDayLive features VC investor Ameya Upadhyay on the challenge of startup development in Africa.
Central and Eastern Europe
Fintech Futures takes a look at financial inclusion in Russia.
Poland’s mPay teams up with iDenfy to bring biometric facial recognition and other identity verification technologies to its mobile payments platform.
Romania’s PayByFace brings its biometric facial recognition technology to Up Romania cardholders, enabling biometric purchases as participating stores and restaurants.
Middle East and Northern Africa
CIH Bank of Morocco partners with Finastra for a remote implementation of the company’s Fusion Corporate Channels and Fusion Trade Innovation systems.
Cairo, Egypt-based payments-as-a-service fintech Paymob raises $3.5 million in funding.
National Bank of Oman enables cardless ATM transactions.
Central and Southern Asia
MEDICI featured Indian regtech startup Signzy in its RegTech Top 21 Startups for 2020 roster. Signzy is the only Indian regtech to make the list.
Reserve Bank of India announces offline digital payments pilot project.
JCB International and PJSCB Orient Finans initiate merchant acquiring operations in Uzbekistan.
This is probably not your first time hearing about Finovate’s commitment to digital — digital finance, digital innovation, digital events. But it’s likely your first time seeing the FinovateFall Digital demoing companies. All selected because the future of finance is digital, and they are ready to transform your business.
Here’s a look at the demoing companies already confirmed for this year from across the US:
These companies’ products and solutions have been developed (and selected) to meet your business needs from all sides:
Unlock sensitive data in complete compliance
Meet small business needs with a 360° commerce solution
Deliver actionable insights to drive better behavior
Connect employees with an easy-to-understand retirement plan
Optimize debt recovery and collection
Monitor the overall health of your small business customers
Equip your employees with reliable AI-generated next steps
Transform your legacy systems to meet today’s banking needs
Invest in mobile payments because over 60% of the world’s populace uses cell phones
And see how you stack up against other banks, fintechs, and techs
See these companies live next month! Book this week for $795 (a $400 saving).
Describing the opportunity to use AI to create tools and solutions that make society better off, Pablos Holman (pictured right) said, “we get the chance to work for the humans yet to come.”
I like the way of looking at a controversial technology in such a positive light. Instead of focusing on the potential of AI to displace us at our jobs or make our lives unfair in some ways, maybe it is better to examine how we can use AI to craft products, technologies, and services that make our world better to live in.
To do this we need to ask ourselves and the community we work in, “All of this technology is in our hands, what do we want to accomplish with it?” It’s important to ask questions like these in the fintech sector, so that the industry can control how we use new technologies such as AI. As Holman puts it, “Speculate about the possibilities, focus on the positives.”
Holman is a hacker, inventor, entrepreneur, and technology futurist who is on a quest to solve the world’s problems through the innovation of technology. He will be the keynote speaker kicking off FinovateFall on September 14, offering his thoughts on innovating in the post-COVID landscape.
He is certainly a speaker you won’t want to miss. Holman has helped build spaceships; the world’s smallest PC; artificial intelligence agent systems; and the Hackerbot, a robot that can steal passwords on a Wi-Fi network. He is a world-renowned expert in the fast moving 3D printing space, and is currently working on printing the food of the future among other things.
Holman will discuss some of the invention projects under way at the Intellectual Ventures Lab, and their efforts to create an Invention Capital market. He will also be showing off some of the super powers that hackers possess.
FinovateFall Digital will run September 14 through 18 and will be broadcast live in Eastern Standard time. There’s still time to register (at a discount!) so take advantage and book your ticket today.
Led by David Marcus, co-creator of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project Libra, Facebook Financial is the social media giant’s latest effort to enhance the company’s payments initiatives.
Facebook has not made an official announcement about Facebook Financial – referred to internally as F2. Reporting at both MarketWatch and Bloomberg suggests that the new unit will also feature Stephane Kasriel as payments vice president. Kasriel comes to the project from Upwork, where he was CEO. Marcus currently runs Novi, a division of Facebook that is developing a digital wallet for Libra, and will continue in that capacity as Novi moves under the F2 umbrella.
“We have a lot of commerce stuff going on across Facebook,” Marcus told Bloomberg earlier this week. “It felt like it was the right thing to do to rationalize the strategy at a company level around all things payments.” Notably, Marcus has significant payments experience, having been PayPal president from 2012-2014.
Facebook Financial will also handle WhatsApp Pay, recently launched in Brazil, and Facebook Pay, the social media platform’s e-commerce payment system. Engadget’s reporting on the conversation surrounding the new division noted that Facebook sees unifying payments on its different platforms as key to boosting value for advertisers and increasing in-app transactions.
The discussion over Facebook Financial comes just a week after the firm announced another e-commerce-friendly initiative: a Commerce Accelerator that will partner with 60 startups from countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America to help build out Facebook’s online marketplace.
“In this critical time, Facebook is doubling down on commerce and accelerating its work to enable every business to sell online and help people gain inspiration and discover and buy the products they love. We can’t achieve this alone,” the company announced in a blog post, “so we are looking for startups to build technology with us.”
Zuckerberg himself has praised the role of payments in Facebook’s future. In a recent earnings call, the Facebook CEO noted that “as payments grow across Messenger and WhatsApp, and as we’re able to roll that out in more places, I think that that will only grow as a trend.”