Plaid Makes the Case for Real Time

Plaid Makes the Case for Real Time

If the future is digital –which it is– then the future must also be in real time. And while our industry typically thinks about real-time in terms of payments, there’s one fintech that’s working to bring information into the real time realm.

Banking technology company Plaid is launching instant account activity today. The new release allows financial institutions on Plaid Exchange to send user-permissioned transactions data to Plaid developers within seconds of the user’s activity. As a result, the consumer receives an up-to-date picture of their finances.

During a time when many consumers are working in the gig economy and budgeting for their expenses on a day-by-day basis, having the most recent information about their account balances is critical and could make the difference between overdrafting or staying afloat.

“Instant, real-time data has become standard for consumers today and it’s a critical piece of information that our users need to make sound financial decisions,” said Atif Siddiqi, CEO of Plaid client, Branch. “Plaid provides our users with the most current picture of their transaction history, empowering their daily financial decisions.”

Today’s development is the latest in a string of updates for Plaid, which recently launched Plaid Exchange, an open finance solution that offers banks a way to provide open banking connectivity to their clients while keeping their clients’ data safe and giving them control of their data.

Last week, the company announced an addition to its suite of payment products with the launch of standing orders in the U.K. With standing orders, end users can make recurring payments with a single authorization for things like gym memberships and rent payments.

Plaid is an alum of Finovate’s developer conference. In 2014, the company’s CEO and co-founder, Zach Perret, showcased the Plaid API for financial institutions.

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New York’s Finest: Catching Up with FinovateFall’s Best of Show

New York’s Finest: Catching Up with FinovateFall’s Best of Show

What have the companies that won Best of Show awards at last year’s FinovateFall conference been up to in the months since our New York show? With our autumn event less than a month away, we thought it would be a great time to check in on the nine companies that took home top honors this time last year.

BlytzPayIntegrated its digital payments technology with Dealer Management Systems (DMS) leader ABCoA Deal Pack. Announced strategic partnership with AFS Dealers.

CinchyJoined the 2020 MassChallenge FinTech Program in December 2019 along with five fellow Finovate alums. The program noted that 70% of the participants in its previous cohort launched a pilot or proof of concept within a year. Earned a $500,000 cash prize as one of the winners of the 2019 VentureClash competition. Raised $10 million in funding in May.

College Aid ProPartnered with Horsesmouth, a company that provides educational and marketing solutions for financial advisors and their clients. Announced collaboration with the American Institute of Certified College Financial Consultants. Teamed up with online student loan refinancing marketplace Credible.

ebankITForged North American partnership with fellow Finovate alum Enterprise Engineering this spring. Announced updates to its multichannel banking platform.

GliaWon Best of Show at FinovateEurope for a second year in a row. Integrated its technology with fellow Finovate alum Alkami’s Online Banking Platform. Inked partnerships with 20 credit unions across the U.S.

MXTopped 50,000 direct-to-bank API agreements to major financial institutions and fintechs. Launched data connectivity API, Path by MX. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces 2020.

owl.coNamed one of Canada’s Most Innovative Tech Companies by the Canadian Innovation Exchange. Delivered $1 million in revenue within six months of launching.

Pinkaloo TechnologiesRaised $1.25 million in funding. Joined Goldman Sachs-owned Ayco Marketplace for financial counseling and wellness services. Partnered with Eastern Bank to power its Give for Good charitable giving program.

Zogo FinanceTeamed up with fellow Finovate alum Bankjoy. Announced partnerships with 11 community banks and credit unions across 12 states. Surpassed 1,000,000 financial literacy modules completed.

FinovateFall Digital 2020 kicks off Monday, September 14 and continues through Friday, September 18 with hours of live and on-demand content. Visit our registration page today and join us for Finovate’s biggest, digital-first event to date.

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How Samsung’s Payment Card Made it to the U.K.

How Samsung’s Payment Card Made it to the U.K.

After teasing the launch of its debit card in the U.S. earlier this year, Samsung announced that its digital debit card, the Samsung Pay Card, is now available in the U.K.

To make the launch possible, Samsung has teamed up with Curve, a fintech that consolidates all of a user’s existing Mastercard and Visa payment cards. The London-based company makes all of a user’s cards contactless and compatible with Samsung Pay.

Users will receive access to Curve features such as peer-to-peer money transfers, instant notifications about spending, competitive foreign exchange rates, 1% cash back on purchases made with a select group of three merchants, and 5% cash back on purchases made at Samsung Pay Card users will also be able to use Curve’s Go Back in Time feature that allows them to switch payments from one card to another for up to 14 days after the purchase was made.

The deal is a win-win for both companies; Samsung will benefit from Curve’s e-money license with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, and Curve will gain from an increase in users. Interestingly, however, existing Curve users cannot also apply for a Samsung Pay card. As other sources have pointed out, the reason for this exclusion isn’t entirely clear.

“At Samsung we believe in the power of innovation and, through our partnership with Curve, the Samsung Pay Card brings a series of pioneering features that will change the way that our customers manage their spending, with their Samsung smartphone and smartwatch at the heart of it,” said Conor Pierce, Corporate VP of Samsung U.K. and Ireland. “This is the future of banking and we look forward to continuing this journey with our customers.”

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Get Wise: Business Banking Gains a New Challenger

Get Wise: Business Banking Gains a New Challenger

Whatever benefits the challenger bank revolution may bring to retail banking customers, the opportunities these neobanks provide to small businesses may be even more significant. In fact, there is a growing cadre of digital-first challengers who have decided to put innovating on behalf of small business banking at the top of their priorities.

One such company is Wise, a BBVA-backed challenger based in San Mateo, California, that announced the release of its premium checking account in the U.S. this week. The new offering, available for $10 a month, enables businesses to earn up to 1% APY on deposits through a combination of a 0.5% base APY and an additional 0.1% for every $1,000 purchase using a Wise debit card. Accountholders get 25 free ACH deposits and 25 free outgoing bank transfers a month, as well as additional payments services. Among the functionalities to be added are remote check deposit, the ability to send digital checks and international wires, and support for Quickbooks.

The new offering comes in the wake of the company’s first major fundraising: a $5.7 million seed round in April led by Base10 Partners and featuring the participation of several other investors including Abstract Ventures and Backend Capital. The company told TechCrunch earlier this year that it has 1,000 business customers, with average workforces ranging from 2 to 10 employees, and “between $500,000 and $5 million in ARR (annual recurring revenue).”

Finovate audiences met Wise last year when the company made its Finovate debut at our September conference in New York. At the event, Wise co-founders Arjun Thyagarajan (CEO) and Suresh Venkatraman (CTO) demonstrated the company’s “small business banking-in-a-box” solution, and previewed additional products and services for small businesses including payments and invoicing.

From left: Wise co-founders Arjun Thyagarajan (CEO) and Suresh Venkatraman (CTO) at FinovateFall 2019.

Thyagarajan founded Wise after a stint managing product for Mojio, a platform for connected cars. Before that he was a classic serial entrepreneur, launching a personal organizer (LivingOrganized), and a pair of password management platforms (TeamsID and Gpass). But a sense that he wasn’t “doing what I really wanted to do” led him to leave the “hot startup” in search of what he called “problems that needed solving.”

“My explorations led me to FinTech and I was pleasantly surprised with the rapid advancements in technology transforming the financial industry, especially in banking and payments,” Thyagarajan wrote on the company blog last summer, looking back on his decision to launch Wise. “It got me thinking: what if we could build a banking product that can deliver on the promise of putting the customer first … And solving real world problems.”

Thyagarajan’s reflections are similar to those his co-founder Venkatraman, who in a companion post observed that Wise’s own experience as a small business trying to secure quality banking services was vindication of the company’s mission.

“The day started innocently enough as we walked into a local bank with all our paperwork in hand,” he wrote. “That was the beginning of a chase around Silicon Valley to find a bank that would take our money and open up an account. Banks would reject us for all sorts of reasons or just ignore us.”

These days, with an new offering, a big investment and a major banking partner in BBVA in hand, it looks like the fintech world might be ready to wise up.

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Banking-BigTech Deals Are on the Rise: Citi Partners with Amazon

Banking-BigTech Deals Are on the Rise: Citi Partners with Amazon

Point of sale financing is all the rage in fintech right now. Consumers are looking to continue buying habits despite lower income and merchants are vying for ways to boost consumer spending.

So when it comes to one of the biggest online merchants launching a buy-now-pay-later offering, its a big deal. It is, anyway for Citi, which struck up a partnership with Amazon this week to provide a buy-now-pay-later option for Citi credit cardholders.

The tool is called the Citi Flex Plan and offers Citi credit cardholders a way to pay for larger purchases over time. Loan terms range from three to 48 months with terms ranging from 6.74% APR to 8.74% APR depending on the amount financed. Borrowers face no credit inquiries, no incremental fees, and are not required to fill out a formal application.

“Amazon is one of the most popular destinations for our customers to shop and redeem ThankYou Points,” said CEO of Citi U.S. Consumer Bank Anand Selva. “We want to meet them where they are with another instant, convenient and easy payment option.”

Essentially, Citi cardholders have two forms of credit in one when they shop on Amazon. How do the logistics work? When they place their order, the total purchase amount will be deducted from their available credit. The monthly payment– the amount that varies based on the purchase price– is due to Citi at each billing cycle.

After Citi initiated a partnership with Google in 2019 and yesterday’s news of six more traditional banks following suit, today’s announcement comes as no surprise. Challenger banks are on the rise, and consumers are opening new accounts with these alternative banking providers at a faster rate than before.

By providing its customers with the new buy-now-pay-later option, a traditional financial services provider such as Citi is appealing to the lower income group that is most attracted to challenger banks. The bank is also helping to position its card at the top of consumers’ virtual wallets when they shop at Amazon. This is key since more than one-third of active Citi cardmembers made at least one purchase on Amazon in the past year.

Additionally, partnering with a big tech company helps Citi align more with the tech side of banking. And indeed, the bank has been closer to the forefront of fintech than many of its rivals. At our developers conference Citi showcased its developer hub and sandbox.

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Turning Ideas into Business Agility: Brazil’s Nubank Acquires Cognitect

Turning Ideas into Business Agility: Brazil’s Nubank Acquires Cognitect

When Bank Operating System creator nCino went public earlier this month, we shared a feature on some of the other fintechs – Finovate alums all – that, like nCino, also hail from the state of North Carolina.

For those who may find North Carolina an atypical location for some of the country’s most innovative fintech companies, recall that many of these fintechs are benefitting from the proximity of the famous Research Triangle. This area of the state includes three universities – Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, and has had a reputation as a technology hotspot since the 1950s. Hall of Fame caliber technology firms from IBM to Cisco Systems to Red Hat have made “The Triangle” their home over the years, solidifying the region’s high-tech reputation and helping attract new generations of entrepreneurs and technologists.

Recently we learned of big news from one of the members of this new generation. Cognitect, which provides engineering and software development talent and technology to clients in industries ranging from health and science to fintech, announced that it has agreed to be acquired by long-time client Nubank, a financial institution based in Brazil.

Cognitect founder and President Stuart Halloway called the company’s relationship with Nubank “a spectacular success story” for its two signature offerings: Clojure – Cognitect’s general purpose programming language – and Datomic – the company’s transactional database. Nubank currently has 600 Clojure developers, running 2.5 million lines of Clojure code in 500 microservices on 2000+ Datomic servers. “Cognitect has been there every step of the way, helping Nubank’s developers translate Clojure’s ideas into business agility,” Halloway wrote at the company’s blog.

The acquisition, according to Halloway, will pave the way for bigger teams for both Clojure and Datomic – technologies Finovate fans were first introduced to via our FinDEVr developers conference in 2016. In that presentation – and in the company’s return to the FinDEVr stage the following year – the Durham, North Carolina-based company demonstrated how its solutions enable companies to have more control over and insight into their data – including the ability to conduct analytics on real-time information without hindering performance.

Nubank’s relationship with Cognitect in general and Clojure and Datomic in specific stems from the Brazilian neobank’s decision to use those technologies to provide a data infrastructure for its microservices platform. The result, for Nubank’s customers, has been greater clarity and complete history on transactions, as well as insight into the origins of suspicious cyber incidents or problems with data.

“Because we use Clojure and Datomic, we’ve built a tool that has already moved beyond what many of our competitors do, and our speed of innovation – new features, continuous deploys – increases with every passing day,” Nubank CTO and cofounder Edward Wible said in a statement. Founded in 2013, Sao Paulo-based Nubank is Latin America’s largest fintech with more than 20 million customers. Cognitect is the firm’s second acquisition of the year, having purchased software engineering company Plataformatec in January.

Going forward, Cognitect will benefit from the continued leadership in its Clojure and Datomic teams, and the company itself will remain a U.S. C corporation. Datomic customers will continue to receive professional services from Cognitect, though the company expects to transition away from general consulting development. Customers also will likely get the next Datomic feature “a bit sooner” Halloway added, pledging to users that “the resources behind (their) software are greater than ever before.”

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Road Blocks on the Way to Coinbase’s IPO

Road Blocks on the Way to Coinbase’s IPO

You’ve probably heard that cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase is considering going public later this year or early next year.

But this likely won’t be a traditional fintech IPO. That’s because the California-based company’s culture is rooted in the blockchain, a technology that embraces alternative finance. Furthermore, Coinbase would be the first major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange to go public, and the fintech community will be paying close attention to the outcome.

That said, there are some roadblocks Coinbase may encounter on its journey to Wall Street.

First, in order to go public, the transaction would need to be approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The hurdle here is that while the SEC has issued guidance on cryptocurrencies, labeling them as securities that are subject to regulation, the organization hasn’t issued guidelines on specific coins, except for a few. In fact, many mainstream financial institutions are wary of cryptocurrencies and see them as a tool for money laundering and illicit activities.

Coinbase will also need to decide how it will be listed. The company can either undergo a traditional IPO that caters to Wall Street investors, take a direct listing approach, or go public via a token offering on the blockchain. While involving the blockchain may be a logical approach for a blockchain-based company, it may cause difficulty, as even a hybrid model would need to be approved by the SEC.

Coinbase must also balance the cryptocurrency market itself. As Laura Shin points out in her podcast Unconfirmed, Coinbase will likely try to time its public debut with the cryptocurrency market, which is known for its volatility. Debuting during a dip in the cryptocurrency market may result in Coinbase receiving a lower-than-expected initial stock price.

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Accelerating Digital Transformation in the COVID-19 Era

Accelerating Digital Transformation in the COVID-19 Era

What do mid-tier and boutique banks need in order to enhance their ability to onboard new customers quickly and efficiently? What solutions are available to enable them to remain compliant with an ever-changing set of regulations while at the same time keeping up with even faster changes in customer expectations? And how has the global health pandemic made these challenges all the more complicated for financial institutions of all sizes?

We caught up with James Follette, Head of North American Sales and Global Head of Commercial, Business, and Retail Banking with Fenergo. A Finovate alum since 2012, the Dublin, Ireland-based company specializes digital transformation, customer journey, and client lifecycle management (CLM) solutions for banks and other financial institutions.

Finovate: Fenergo secured a major investment earlier this year – the largest in the company’s history, I believe. What was the significance of this fundraising in terms of helping Fenergo reach its goals for 2020 and beyond? 

James Follette: Fenergo received $80 million in funding from DXC Technology and our client, ABN AMRO at a valuation of just under $1 billion, so it was of huge significance for the business. Both firms’ pedigrees, deep experience and industry knowledge made them the ideal investment partners for Fenergo. Apart from the continuous enhancement of our product, the funding will go towards recruitment and growth initiatives. 

Finovate: The company just released a cloud-based version of its CLM solution, Fen-Xcelerate. What does the technology do? Who does it do it for? And why make the solution available now? 

Follette: Fen-Xcelerate is a lower cost, cloud-based SaaS version of Fenergo’s client lifecycle and journey management (CLM) solution. It is tailored specifically to mid-tier, community and boutique commercial, business and retail banks seeking to accelerate digital transformation, so they can offer digital services and open accounts remotely. 

Fenergo launched Fen-Xcelerate in response to a growing demand amongst mid-tier and boutique banks for a digitally enabled CLM solution that could be up and running in weeks. This cohort of banks, heavily reliant on manual processes for onboarding and compliance, were also looking for an off-the-shelf solution that was plugged into Customer Relationship Management (CRM), data and screening providers such as Salesforce, Microsoft, Refinitiv and RDC, at a price point more suited to their budgets. Fen-Xcelerate addresses these challenges, enabling banks to more readily step up and support businesses and the community in their hour of need. 

Finovate: What is required on the bank’s part in terms of deployment and integration? How much work and how much time is involved? 

Follette: With minimum customization, Fen-Xcelerate can be deployed in six to twelve weeks. It removes the need for banks to spend time and resources plugging into services such as Salesforce, RDC and World-Check One. As a result, banks can very quickly switch to a digital onboarding and client journey management model, while performing client due diligence (CDD) for KYC and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance, digitally and seamlessly. Deployment will typically be carried out by Fenergo’s professional services team. 

Finovate: The combination of rapid technological advancement, accelerating customer expectations, and ever-changing regulatory obligations can create a challenging environment for mid-tier business and retail banks. How does Fenergo, both specifically with Fen-Xcelerate and more generally, help these FIs successfully navigate this territory? 

Follette: Many mid-tier commercial, business and retail banks lack the wholistic solution required to offer digital services and open accounts remotely, while being able to meet regulatory obligations and detect financial crime. With Fen-Xcelerate, mid-tier and boutique banks can benefit from Fenergo’s deep financial services heritage and best-in-class CRM, data, screening and identity and verification (ID&V) integrations in one solution. Validated by the industry, Fen-Xcelerate can be quickly deployed to digitalize account opening while delivering a seamless customer experience and regulatory  compliance across 100+ jurisdictions and offering access to Fenergo’s community of global banks and regulators. By leveraging Fen-Xcelerate, the goal posts for digitalization within these banks could move from months to just weeks. 

Finovate: This territory has become all the more complicated with the global public health crisis – and the economic consequences of fighting it. What has Fenergo done to help its customers and partners manage this challenge specifically? 

Follette: Our community of clients, partners, regulatory and financial services experts means that we are very tuned in to the needs of the industry. We are continuously enhancing our solution according to the rapidly evolving technology and regulatory needs of financial institutions – and today is no different. Many of our clients have had to pivot to a remote account opening model overnight, this is why we brought forward the launch of Fen-Xcelerate. Banks need to be up and running with a client onboarding and journey management solution very quickly, so that they can provide support to their customers when they need it most. 

Finovate: This year Fenergo has introduced its remote account opening solution, partnered with the likes of IBM, PwC, and Aviva, and of course, released Fen-Xcelerate. What can we expect to see from Fenergo in the second half of 2020? 

Follette: We are experiencing very high demand and have signed 16 new clients since the beginning of the year. The second half of the year will be spent doubling down on supporting our clients in their digital transformation journeys, as they navigate uncertain territory.

Lendio’s Role in Keeping Small Businesses Afloat During COVID

Lendio’s Role in Keeping Small Businesses Afloat During COVID

We generally think of healthcare workers, grocery store employees, delivery drivers, and other essential workers as the main heroes of the coronavirus public health crisis. However, there’s one company worth mentioning that has risen to “hero” status for small businesses across the U.S.

That company, Lendio, has been serving small businesses since it launched in 2011 by matching small businesses in need of funding with lenders. After the coronavirus hit and the U.S. Small Business Administration passed the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Lendio became a critical resource for merchants across the nation.

After seeing the mass confusion around different types of relief programs and their application requirements, Lendio quickly created a COVID-19 Relief hub on its website to educate business owners, help them apply for funding, and match them with one of its 300 lender partners.

Since April, Lendio has facilitated $8 billion in PPP loan approvals. The company has also helped more than 100,000 small businesses receive approval for PPP loans of an average size of $73,000. This is a massive increase in production for the Utah-based company which, prior to PPP, had facilitated $2 billion in loan approvals since it began operations nine years ago.

The 100,000+ PPP applications Lendio facilitated offered the company a large amount of data (and insight) into the applicants. The company published an analysis of that data last week. Here are some of the findings:

  • States in the Pacific region received 25% of PPP approvals, while those in the Mountain region received only 9%.
  • States in the Northeast and Pacific regions saw the highest average loan size ($80,518 and $79,507, respectively). The average loan size is lowest in the South Atlantic ($64,064).
  • Women business owners made up 32% of applicants.
  • Businesses in urban areas received 30% of the loans applied for, while suburban businesses received 28%, and rural received 39%.

As for what business owners can expect next, just as with the virus itself, the battle has not been won. “I think the next big market mover is going to be the realization that the PPP program actually had an enormous impact,” Sanders Morris Harris CEO George Ball in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “It worked. It kept the patient alive. But the half-life of the forgivable loans to small businesses comes up pretty soon, comes up mid-July to August.”

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Oh Canada! A Tribute to the Top Fintechs from the Great White North

Oh Canada! A Tribute to the Top Fintechs from the Great White North

Today is Canada Day, which commemorates the date in 1867 when three provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada Province (now known as Ontario and Quebec) – united to form a single nation. And while the global public health crisis may limit the holiday’s typical parades, cook-outs, fireworks demonstrations, and concerts, rest assured that Canadians all over the world will find a way to celebrate what is colloquially – if a bit inaccurately – referred to as “Canada’s birthday.”

With this in mind, the Finovate blog sends a hearty “Happy Canada Day!” to the dozens of Canadian fintechs that have demonstrated their innovative solutions at our conferences over the past decade-plus.

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Stratyfy Earns Spot in FIS Fintech Accelerator Incoming Cohort

Stratyfy Earns Spot in FIS Fintech Accelerator Incoming Cohort

Predictive analytics innovator Stratyfy is one of ten companies selected to participate in the incoming cohort of FIS’ 2020 Fintech Accelerator program.

“The ten companies selected for the fifth year of FIS’ Accelerator program bring a wealth of promising ideas and technologies,” FIS Chief Growth Officer Asif Ramji said. “We look forward to working with these firms to bring their ideas to life.”

Joining Stratyfy in the program are:

  • Cirrus Secure
  • Cobbler Technologies
  • Dasceq
  • Mall IQ
  • Sequretek
  • Silot
  • Surfly
  • TrustStamp
  • XpenseOne

Seven of the companies in the cohort have headquarters in the United States. Of the others, Sequretek is based in Mumbai, India; Silot in Singapore; and Surfly in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. And after four years in operation, the accelerator, in partnership with The Venture Center, will conduct its fifth program virtually due to the challenges of the global public health crisis.

In addition to being entirely virtual, this year’s program will run for 18 weeks instead of the usual 12 weeks to allow for increased mentoring and training time. The program will culminate with a Demo Day technology presentation on October 14th. Participating startups will also receive a monetary investment; the amount was not disclosed.

Executive Director for The Venture Center, Wayne Miller, pointed to the program’s success in empowering startup companies and helping improve access to financial services and technology. “With our partners at FIS and the State of Arkansas, we’re honored to be a part of bringing cutting-edge technologies to the places and people who need them, particularly in this moment of monumental technological advancement,” Miller said.

The news comes in the wake of Strayfy’s announcement of a new strategic partnership with Innovesta Technologies. The two companies are collaborating on a machine learning solution that will help businesses better measure the risk of and opportunity in non-public companies. The partnership combines Stratyfy’s decision engine and advanced machine learning technology with Innovesta’s comprehensive data assets to deliver real-time insights into the forces that impact business performance.

“Models built from historical data offer little help during an unprecedented health and economic crisis like the current global pandemic,” Stratyfy co-founder and CEO Laura Kornhauser said when the partnership was announced in May. “Achieving an inclusive global financial recovery requires robust risk management strategies, and those strategies necessitate an understanding of the unique challenges being faced by every business. Stratyfy’s decision management solutions will leverage Innovesta’s trustworthy data to directly address this need.”

Founded in 2016, Stratyfy is headquartered in New York City. The company was named one of the world’s 100 most promising startups to watch last year by CNBC.

COVID-19, Biometric Authentication, and the Low-Touch Economy

COVID-19, Biometric Authentication, and the Low-Touch Economy

Facial recognition may be the hottest form of biometric authentication. But it’s far from the only – or even the most effective – biometric authentication method for all instances. In fact, as far as Redrock Biometrics is concerned, a superior alternative may lie in the palm of your hand.

“The PalmID solution far outperforms competitive touchless technologies, such as facial recognition, in terms of accuracy and reliability,” Redrock Biometrics co-founder Hua Yang said in a statement announcing the company’s latest partnership a few weeks ago. “It is the best available solution for touchless identity management, authentication and security.”

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, Redrock Biometrics is the developer of PalmID, a palm-scanning authentication solution that provides accurate, robust, no-additional-hardware-required biometric authentication via camera-bearing devices – ranging from smartphone, tablets, and laptops, to payment terminals (including ATMs), IOT devices, and even cars.

And at a time of social distancing and a preference for as much contact-free activity as possible, authentication technologies like PalmID are likely to be seen as increasingly attractive options. Add to this the challenge of face-based authentication in a world of mask-wearing employees and consumers, and the case for palm-based authentication becomes all the more compelling.

Identity management solution provider Q5id is the latest company to deploy Redrock Biometrics’ technology. Q5id, based in Beaverton, Oregon, announced last month that it would integrate PalmID into its biometric enrollment and authentication solutions. Q5id works with institutions in multiple verticals, including financial services, telecommunications, education, and e-commerce, to provide identity verification services via multi-factor authentication, live video, and active voice authentication. The fact that palm-scanning technologies are particularly hard to fool, according to Q5id chairman and CEO Steve Larson, is one of the reasons why the company partnered with Redrock. The solution’s high accuracy rate – and lack of a hardware requirement (compared to fingerprint scanners, for example) were additional selling points for the technology.

Redrock Biometrics’ PalmID works with both standard RGB and infrared cameras. The company notes that from a distance of approximately six inches, the average smartphone, laptop, or ATM camera can capture a good quality image of the unique skin patterns of the users palm. The captured image then undergoes a two-step process. First, the PalmID Capture Module uses machine learning technology to convert the RGB video input stream into a palm image that is ready for authentication. Second, the PalmID Matching Module, in real-time, matches the captured image against stored references. The technology uses proprietary algorithms to test images against large databases of palm images to prevent false positives.

PalmID has also been deployed recently to help provide an identity verification solution for mass transit and payments. The company partnered with FalconPro Technology in May, adding its PalmID software to a FalconPro camera module to create a simultaneous palm print and palm vein image capture. The goal is to create a large-scale authentication solution; pilot projects using the technology will be conducted in both the payments and public transit industries, according to FalconPro Technology CEO Xun You. FalconPro is a founding member of the Chinese Automatic Fare Collection System Association, and provides QR-code based digital ticketing systems for rail systems throughout China. The company sees its partnership with Redrock as potentially enabling it to “expand (its) product offering beyond barcode technology.”

Also this year, Redrock Biometrics forged a partnership with passwordless authentication solution provider HYPR, which will add the company’s PalmID technology to its platform. Redrock has also waived the license fee for its PalmID software for all essential businesses using the technology during the global public health crisis.

“COVID-19 quarantine made us acutely aware that touching devices represents a threat to our lives,” Redrock co-founder Lenny Kontsevich said. “People become touch-phobic and their faces are covered by masks, which creates a need for a touchless palm solution.”

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