Best of Show Winner Autobooks Helps Small and Micro Businesses Get Paid Faster

Best of Show Winner Autobooks Helps Small and Micro Businesses Get Paid Faster

Sometimes at Finovate, the first time is the charm.

Detroit, Michigan-based fintech Autobooks, which helps small businesses send digital invoices and accept online payments via their financial institution partner, took home Best of Show honors in its Finovate debut in September. The company, co-founded by Steve Robert (CEO) and Aaron Schmid (CIO), impressed our audiences with its embedded solution that gives small businesses an e-commerce platform that is fully integrated into their current digital banking system.

Autobooks shared the stage with partner TD Bank, which offers Autobooks’ suite of tools as part of its TD Online Banking solution. TD Bank Head of Corporate Products and Services Jo Jagadish noted that the partnership has “increased relationship depth with our SMBs by 26%” and represented what Jagadish referred to as a complete reimagining of the bank’s small business checking experience.

“Small businesses are an enormous and diverse group with one thing in common,” Robert explained, “how they get paid is in a state of transition. Financial institutions must invest in digital-first experiences to meet SMBs where they, and their customers, are.” One advantage Autobooks provides is the fact that its technology is embedded into the customer’s existing banking channels, helping financial institutions build and fortify their relationships with their small and micro-business customers.

In the weeks since Autobooks’ Best of Show winning demo at FinovateFall, the company has announced a partnership with Central Trust Bank. Headquartered in Jefferson City, Missouri, the $20 billion state-chartered trust company will embed Autobooks’ technology into its digital banking platform. In addition to giving the bank’s business customers the ability to send digital invoices and accept online payments, the integration will also provide cash flow management, accounting, and financial reporting tools.

“We’re dedicated to providing innovative solutions to our customers, and the tools to make banking as easy as possible,” Central Trust Bank SVP of Commercial Banking Services Arlene Vogel said. “We believe partnering with Autobooks will allow for business customers to optimize payments for their business, ultimately helping their business succeed.”

Central Trust Bank has more than 250 locations in 78 communities in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa. The bank was founded in 1902.

Also last month, Autobooks announced that it had expanded its partnership with TD Bank to add invoicing to TD Bank’s TD Business Simple Checking offering. The bank’s business customers will now be able to accept credit card and electronic payments that settle directly into their TD account. This will enhance cash flow and liquidity, and will make it that much easier for small and micro-businesses to get paid faster. The collaboration marks TD Bank as one of the first major financial institutions to offer integrated invoicing as part of its digital banking solution.

“Probably the greatest pain point for small businesses is actually getting paid for the services they provide,” Jagadish said. “The new tool will make things easier, faster, and enable our small business customers to get paid, almost immediately in most instances, when the process previously could take up to a week or longer.”

Previous to co-founding Autobooks, both Robert and Schmid were executives with another Finovate alum, Billhighway. Robert served as Chief Information Officer, while Schmid was Chief Product Officer. The company was acquired by BluePay in 2016.

Veem Teams Up with Visa, Q2 to Bring Digital Money Management and AR/AP Innovations to SMEs

Veem Teams Up with Visa, Q2 to Bring Digital Money Management and AR/AP Innovations to SMEs

From a collaboration with Visa to a partnership with Q2, new Finovate alum Veem, which made its Finovate debut last September at FinovateFall, continues to offer the kind of solutions to help make business payments easy, efficient, and affordable.

In fact, within one month of the company’s first-ever demo on the Finovate stage – a presentation of Veem’s Partner Connect product – the San Francisco, California-based company inked two major deals with some of the most innovative companies in financial services and digital banking.

Veem’s partnership with Visa, announced in the first half of October, will give the company’s 400,000+ customers access to a new SMB Visa card program, as well as digital money movement capabilities courtesy of Visa’s real-time push payments platform, Visa Direct. The agreement will enable Veem customers to generate and issue virtual Visa payment cards that can be used to cover business costs ranging from payments to suppliers to more general business expenses. The virtual card program, along with Veem’s spend management tools, also provides reconciliation and other financial benefits to help customers further digitize and streamline their operations. Access to Visa Direct will give Veem’s U.S. clients the ability to send money directly to both bank accounts and eligible Visa cards in more than 160 currencies.

“Visa is renowned for having broad network acceptance both domestically and internationally,” Veem CEO Marwan Forzley said. “Our collaboration helps Veem expand digital payment options for our customers, as we continue to build the next generation global solution for businesses.”

Veem also last month announced that it was teaming up with digital banking innovator Q2. The partnership is geared toward taking the friction out of the accounts payable/accounts receivable process for SMEs by making Veem’s AP/AR automation platform available to the 450+ financial institutions and 1.5 million businesses on Q2’s digital banking platform.

“This partnership with Veem gives our Financial institutions the ability to deliver Veem’s modern payment services to SMB customers with agility and reliability,” Q2 Innovation Studio Managing Director Johnny Ola said. “Businesses are looking for embedded solutions that act as a one-stop-shop to conduct all their day-to-day transactions. With our integration with Veem, we are excited to give our financial institution customers the option to offer small businesses innovative technology solutions.”

The two collaborations were only part of a very busy autumn for Veem, which was founded n 2014. Also last month, the company appointed Jeff Revoy as Chief Growth Officer and Travis Green as Vice President of Product Management. Revoy brings 20 years of CEO, President, and C-level experience at a number of public and VC-backed firms. Previous to his joining Veem, Revoy was Chief Operating Officer for SpaceIQ, a real estate workplace management software company he founded in 2016 that was acquired by WeWork in the summer of 2019.

In September, Veem secured $31 million in strategic funding in a round led by Truist Ventures. The company said in a statement that the capital will help it develop a robust channel partner program to broaden the company’s geographic footprint. The investment takes the company’s total equity funding to just over $100 million.

“This funding round marks an important milestone for the company, putting us in an ideal position to build out our channel partner program and prepare for Veem’s next stage of global growth,” Forzley said when the investment was announced. “Our channel partner network serves as our vehicle to better commercialize our product offering and further expand upon our market development efforts.”

As Veem’s FinovateFall debut showed, the development of its channel partner program has already borne fruit. At the conference, Veem’s Revoy and Connor Grilo demonstrated a new minimal code integration – Partner Connect – that enables banks to offer their clients an all-in-one, global payments platform designed for small and mid-sized businesses that keeps the bank’s branding at the forefront. The solution is integrated with the major accounting platforms so that, with a couple of clicks, users can reconcile what they are sending out from or receiving in Veem with their accounting software.

“There’s no back and forth, there’s no trying to keep two separate systems,” Revoy said from the Finovate stage. “All of this is automated and designed in a way so that, as a business owner, it can be fast, it can save you time, hopefully it will save you money, and will save you a lot of headaches, because everything is tied together.”

Photo by Ariadne Barroso from Pexels

Zopa Raises $304 Million Ahead of IPO

Zopa Raises $304 Million Ahead of IPO

Peer-to-peer lending platform and digital bank Zopa landed $304 million (£220 million) this week. The investment marks Zopa’s largest round to-date, and brings the U.K.-based company’s total funding to $792 million.

According to TechCrunch, today’s funding, which follows a $28 million investment received earlier this year, gives Zopa a post-money valuation of $1 billion (£750 million).

Softbank Vision Fund 2 led the round, which saw contributions from existing investors including Silverstripe, Northzone and Augmentum. Zopa anticipates the cash will help bring its banking tools to more U.K. consumers.

Zopa is on track to hit profitability by early next year. If it does, it will be one of the fastest digital banks in the U.K. to do so. Additionally, if Zopa continues on this path of success, the company is likely to IPO at the end of next year.

Founded in 2004, Zopa debuted its peer-to-peer lending platform at FinovateSpring 2008. The company has since evolved as a player in the challenger banking space. Zopa’s differentiator from competitors, however, is that it is not a fully-fleged bank. The company does not offer a checking account or payment card. Instead, it focuses on savings, loans, and credit-building tools.

Zopa received its banking license in June of 2020. Since transitioning from its flagship peer-to-peer lending model, Zopa has reached $931 million (£675 million) in customer deposits for its savings accounts, has issued 150,000 credit cards, and is now a top 10 credit card issuer in the U.K. based on new customers.

The company’s lending products have also seen success. So far this year, Zopa has disbursed over $8.3 billion (£6 billion) in loans. The company lends over $138 million (£100 million) each year in car loans.

Zopa has formed two recent partnerships that centralize on helping users build and access credit. Its partnership with ClearScore helps provide a pre-approved credit card to Zopa customers who have been declined credit, and its integration with CreditLadder enables renters to build credit by reporting their rental payments.

As for what’s next, Zopa says it is “focused on building a sustainable, profitable business model” that benefits both customers and shareholders.

Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

What’s Next for Holvi

What’s Next for Holvi

Holvi began a new chapter earlier this year after company founder Tuomas Toivonen purchased the startup back from BBVA in February.

Holvi, which provides banking tools for self-employed entreprenuers, was founded in 2011 and debuted on the Finovate stage in 2012. In 2018 the company sold to BBVA, which later launched Holvi’s banking services in the U.K. Nine months after the U.K. launch, the Spanish bank decided to pull out of the region, citing concerns over Brexit.

Sifted reported this week that after Toivonen purchased Holvi from BBVA earlier this year, the startup lost 60% of its customers and saw its staff drop by 50% from 150 employees to just 75. Now, it is more profitable than ever. The company increased monthly revenues by 40% by charging a monthly fee of $7 to $14 for an account.

The reason for the recent success hinges on Holvi’s newfound dexterity as a smaller company. As Toivonen told Sifted, “When you’re an independent company, you of course have more flexibility. And when you’re team-owned and run there is no inertia in decision making. You can make big decisions fast.”

What will those “big decisions” look like in Holvi’s future?

The company tells Sifted it plans to launch a credit card offering to complement its current debit card product. Holvi also disclosed it will launch a receivables financing tool to help entrepreneurs smooth out cash flow when they receive invoice payments late.

Holvi, which was founded in Helsinki, Finland and operates in Germany, Finland, and Austria, doesn’t plan to enter new geographies at the moment. The company may, however, consider re-entry into the U.K. market.

The renewed focus will likely prove successful for Holvi. When the company first launched in 2011, neobanking was a relatively new concept, especially in the commercial banking space. In today’s environment, however, digital neobanks are commonplace. Not only are consumers accustomed to opening a new bank account with a digital-only bank, regulators are also more comfortable with how they operate.

Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash

Cross Border Payments Infrastructure Innovator Buckzy Payments Inks Partnership with M2P Solutions

Cross Border Payments Infrastructure Innovator Buckzy Payments Inks Partnership with M2P Solutions

Asia’s largest API infrastructure company, M2P Solutions, will leverage the real-time, cross border payments ecosystem developed by Buckzy Payments to enable its customers to offer better payment services in many of the more underserved corridors in the MENA region. Clients such as banks, exchanges, and money transfer operators (MTOs) will be the partnership’s chief beneficiaries; targeted markets include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.

“We are clearly aligned in our mission to improve global banking and transaction settlement services that unlock the borderless banking and global economic opportunities for all,” Managing Director for Buckzy in EMEA Adrian Brown said. “Combining Buckzy’s network with M2P’s API platform delivers an outstanding customer experience and competitive advantage for customers.”

Buckzy’s network enables real-time, cross border payments around the world. The company’s technology gives both businesses and financial institutions the ability to expand their offerings via white-label solutions on a secure platform. Moreover, Buckzy’s ecosystem also empowers these organizations to make collections and receive payments in local currency. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and founded in 2018, Buckzy demonstrated its solution one year later at FinovateFall. At the conference, Buckzy Global CMO Lindsay Mulligan showed how the company’s technology powered instant, on-the-go digital wallet transfers and top ups, as well as multi-currency transfers and instant email money transfers with just a few clicks and without transaction fees.

Business Head of M2P Solutions for MENA, Vaanathi Mohanakrishnan, underscored the importance to the company of opening up these regional opportunities. “A lot of M2P’s strategy hinges on enabling fintechs to deliver solutions leveraging our infrastructure and partner network,” Mohanakrishnan explained. “We are excited to be partnering with Buckzy to deliver frictionless cross border payment experiences to customers in the MENA region.”

Delivering real-time cross-border payments to 47 countries, Buckzy Payments was recently named to the CIX Top 20 Early roster of innovative Canadian technology companies. With offices in the U.S. and India, as well as Toronto, the company has raised $3 million in funding from investors including Dash40 Ventures, Mistral Venture Partners, and Revel Partners.

Photo by Louise Brawn from Pexels

Here’s What’s Inside PayPal’s Super App

Here’s What’s Inside PayPal’s Super App

Fintech pioneer PayPal is rolling out a new mobile app today.

The company is adding a handful of features that bring it into “super app” territory, competing with the likes of WeChat, Alipay, and Paytm. PayPal’s app already offers a peer-to-peer payment tool, a mobile wallet, and a charity donation feature.

The new release, however, will offer more features and new banking capabilities. Here’s a rundown of what to expect:

  • PayPal Savings, a new, high-yield savings account provided in partnership with Synchrony Bank that pays 0.40% APY
  • In-app shopping tools that allow customers to discover and earn loyalty rewards
  • Billpay management tools that help users track, view, and pay their bills
  • A new Direct Deposit feature that fronts users their paycheck up to two days early
  • Rewards capabilities
  • Gift card management
  • Credit access
  • Buy Now, Pay Later services
  • Crypto purchasing, holding, and selling abilities

The app will show users a personalized dashboard of their account; a wallet tab to manage payments and direct deposits; a finance tab to access savings and crypto accounts; a payments tab that enables users to send and receive money, make a donation, and manage billpay; and a messaging feature built around peer-to-peer payments.

“We’re excited to introduce the first version of the new PayPal app, a one-stop destination for our customers to take charge of their everyday financial lives, with new features like access to high yield savings, in-app shopping tools for customers to find deals and earn cash back rewards, early access Direct Deposit, and bill pay,” said PayPal CEO Dan Schulman. “Our new app offers customers a simplified, secure and personalized experience that builds on our platform of trust and security and removes the complexity of having to manage multiple financial or shopping apps, remember different passwords and track loyalty rewards.”

What’s next for PayPal’s Super App? The company will add investment tools, offline QR code payments, and new shopping and deals capabilities.

PayPal is currently the closest thing the U.S. has to a super app. However, the new app is still missing some key elements that Asia’s successful super apps have, including food delivery, transportation, travel, health, insurance, government, and public services.

RightCapital Launches Dynamic Retirement Spending Strategies

RightCapital Launches Dynamic Retirement Spending Strategies

Financial planning software company RightCapital unveiled new dynamic retirement spending strategies on its platform this week. The new offering gives investors the ability to better plan their finances once their working days are done.

“The industry has been using a rather simple retirement expense approach in the financial planning process for many years,” RightCapital CEO Shuang Chen said. “The ability to offer multiple options for retirement spending within our comprehensive planning tool is a significant step forward.”

Traditionally, financial planners have relied on an inflation-adjusted retirement spending model which focuses on a single input – the rising cost of living – to anticipate an increase in retirement spending each year. One criticism of this approach is that it does not account for changes in an individual’s portfolio that might significantly affect how much they are able to spend in retirement. RightCapital’s new offering factors in changes in portfolio value, reducing retirement spending projections when the portfolio loses value and giving investors the option to spend more in retirement should their portfolio significantly increase in value. The two dynamic strategies – referred to as guardrail and floor and ceiling – enable retirement spending to adjust in sync with portfolio performance and investment strategy parameters rather than being limited to tracking the rate of inflation.

Dynamic strategies such as those now available on the RightCapital platform more accurately reflect how individuals respond to changes in their investments in the real world. As Michael Kitces, Chief Financial Planning Nerd for and Head of Planning Strategy for Buckingham Wealth Partners explained, “as advisors, we cannot eliminate the uncertainty of markets themselves, but tools like RightCapital’s dynamic spending can help eliminate the uncertainty for clients of what they’d have to do in response to those market events, facilitating better client conversations about how to keep their retirement on track.”

Other features of RightCapital’s dynamic retirement spending strategies include the ability to customize spending levels by age, anticipating a higher level of spending early in the investor’s retirement life and tapering off as the investor ages. The strategies can also incorporate changes in healthcare expenditures over the course of the investor’s retirement, as well.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Shelton, Connecticut, RightCapital demonstrated its technology most recently at FinovateSpring in 2019. At the conference, the RightCapital team demonstrated the company’s API/Enterprise solution, which gives financial advisors the ability to offer their clients access to custom applications ranging from PFM to account aggregation to secure document sharing. In June, RightCapital announced that it would “enhance (its) integration” with partner Riskalyze, a specialist in risk alignment and portfolio analytics. Also that month, RightCapital and a coalition of fintechs including fellow Finovate alum Betterment launched the RIA Tech Suite to provide financial advisors with services and tools to automate back-office operations.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

MX Integrates with Dwolla; Bambu and Moven Launch Strategic Partnership

MX Integrates with Dwolla; Bambu and Moven Launch Strategic Partnership

From the partnership between Best of Show winners MX and Dwolla that will enhance and automate account verification to the news of a strategic partnership between roboadvisor Bambu and Moven, collaborations between Finovate alums are filling the fintech headlines to start the week.

With MX and Dwolla, the partnership extends instant account verification coverage to 4,000+ institutions, making it easier for MX customers to connect securely to any deposit account. The integration also enables account verification through micro-deposits, which makes it possible for MX to offer verification for “nearly 100 percent” of deposit accounts in the U.S.

Enabling better access to micro-deposits by improving the verification experience is a key component of the integration. MX co-founder and CTO Brandon Dewitt underscored the importance of these deposits and the role they play in financial inclusion and serving the underbanked. “Micro-deposits have gotten a bad reputation in the industry, but the truth is for some of the population who bank with community credit unions or mid-sized institutions, it comes down to either using a micro-deposit or not having the ability to connect them to their accounts,” Dewitt said.

MX most recently demonstrated its technology on the Finovate stage two years ago at FinovateFall. The Lehi, Utah-based company won Best of Show for a live demo of its MX Enabled platform that helps financial institutions add to their offerings via connections with fintechs through MX’s API ecosystem. Earlier this month, MX launched a new suite of financial insights APIs and embeddable user interfaces to enable companies to pursue opportunities in open finance.

Dwolla won Best of Show in its Finovate debut in 2011 at FinovateSpring. The company announced just last week that it had raised $21 million in funding in a round led by Foundry Group that will help it continue to innovate in the B2B payments space.

“Partnering with MX will automate the verification experience and make it that much easier to verify a bank account,” Dwolla President and COO Dave Glaser said. “Together with Dwolla, MX has configured a new solution to ensure that millions of payments occur smoothly and easily each day. We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership and the impact it will have on millions of Americans.”

Giving average retail banking customers the kind of support typically available only to high net worth individuals is part of the motive behind the strategic partnership announced early this week between roboadvisor technology solution company Bambu and financial wellness technology platform Moven.

“Adding Bambu’s capabilities to Moven’s mobile-centric experience is well in-line with the needs of banks and fintechs to provide consumers with personalized, automatic investing to their product offerings,” Moven Chief Revenue Officer Bryan Clagett said. He noted that traditional banks still have a major impact and influence on their customers and, as such, they can and should do more – beyond banking – to enable their customers to better manage the entirety of their financial lives.

The new offering is designed to empower bank customers by allowing them to manage and plan their finances and investments more holistically. The goal is to provide customers with the equivalent of a digital CFO to help them better understand their spending patterns in order to increase savings and better manage their investments. This is a critical aspect of the new solution, which moves beyond simple robo-investing to give customers a more comprehensive view – and greater control – over their finances.

“We look forward to working closely with Moven as wealth and digital banking become more seamlessly connected,” Bambu co-founder and CEO Ned Phillips said. “Moven’s long history in digital banking and Bambu’s intelligent wealth APIs will provide a perfect platform for any financial institution focused on digital banking and wealth.”

Singapore-based Bambu made its most recent Finovate appearance last year at FinovateEurope in Berlin where the company demonstrated its BambuGo white label financial roboadvisor platform. Earlier this month, Bambu announced that it had acquired investment management technology company Tradesocio.

Making its Finovate debut more than eight years ago, Moven famously pivoted from a direct-to-consumer/neobank model to a focus on “smart banking and financial wellness” a little over a year ago. The company has teamed up since with fellow Finovate alums Q2 and Digital Onboarding, as well as with intelligent billpay company Blip Labs and digital asset manager NYDIG, to help them better engage their customers with actionable insights to enhance financial health.

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. from Pexels

Best of Show Winner Lendsmart Inks Integration Deal with Freddie Mac

Best of Show Winner Lendsmart Inks Integration Deal with Freddie Mac

Lendsmart, which took home Best of Show honors in its FinovateFall debut last year, announced a new partnership with Freddie Mac this week. The digital lending platform has integrated with Freddie Mac Loan Product Advisor, the firm’s automated underwriting system, to improve the loan origination process for both lenders and borrowers by reducing processing time.

“Lendsmart’s software predicts the credit and underwriting conditions required in the loan origination process by pinning them to a borrower’s data in real-time rather than making the borrower wait 45 days to get an email from the underwriter,” Lendsmart founder and CEO AK Patel explained. “We’re also shaving off weeks in the letter of explanation process.”

Headquartered in New York City, Lendsmart combines an AI-powered digital lending platform with a home buying marketplace to save lenders time, help them increase productivity, and grow their profits while providing both the lender and the homebuyer with a “next-generation digital experience,” in the words of Lendsmart COO Philip Gem George.

Lendsmart’s platform centralizes and unifies all parties in the mortgage process while automating manual tasks to ensure accuracy, reduce risk, and keep costs low. George noted during the demo of Lendsmart’s technology at FinovateFall that the automation ensured that homebuyers are only asked for information that cannot be readily accessed from the documentation. This further accelerates the process and relieves some of the burden typically felt by homebuyers during the origination process.

And as Freddie Mac VP of Business Partner Integration Kevin Kauffman added, technology like that available from Lendsmart helps financial institutions keep up with the expectations of their increasingly digital-first customers. “Today’s lenders and borrowers expect a seamless digital process that isn’t burdened with administrative tasks or excessive timelines,” Kauffman said. “Partnering with Lendsmart allows Freddie Mac to provide the latest technology that satisfies out mutual clients’ needs.”

Founded in 2019, Lendsmart was among the many fintechs that helped facilitate PPP funding during the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with Griffin Technologies to offer banks and credit unions an end-to-end solution to enable them to process more loan applications while identifying and pursuing qualified small business leads. “With financial institutions struggling to manage the high number of applications and small businesses in need of immediate funds,” Patel said when the partnership was announced last spring. “We saw an opportunity to speed up and simplify the mostly manual process by using our existing technology.”

Lendsmart began the year raising an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from INV Fintech. In addition to its New York headquarters, the company also has an office in India.

Photo by Michael Tuszynski from Pexels

MX Unveils New Financial Insights APIs

MX Unveils New Financial Insights APIs

Connectivity and financial data enhancement innovator MX launched a new suite of financial insights APIs and embeddable user interfaces this week. The APIs will enable developers to quickly and securely bring MX-powered financial data into their solutions, helping companies pursue their open finance initiatives. MX also noted in their announcement that their offering will help firms accelerate time-to-market for financial wellness products – with personalized smart recommendations and insights built into the company’s app or website.

The API integrations and widgets now available enable companies to enjoy the benefits of MX-powered financial data without requiring them to build their own front-end solution. The embedded nature of the offering allows developers to add widgets to mobile banking and shopping apps, for example, without having to make major changes to the overall app or user experience.

“MX APIs and widgets make it easy for any company to embed financial insights and wellness tools into their current products and services,” MX Chief Product Officer Brett Allred said. “We’re making data-driven financial wellness tools more available and scalable than ever before by giving developers an easier and more secure way to connect financial data and help build products that power new money experiences for customers.”

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Lehi, Utah, MX began the year with a $300 million Series C funding round that gave the company a valuation of $1.9 billion. Since then, the multiple-time Finovate Best of Show winner has forged partnerships with banks and credit unions including Libro Credit Union, First Hawaiian Bank, and AbbyBank. MX also this year has teamed up with Viva First to help the digital bank promote financial wellness in the Latino community. In April, MX collaborated with Moov to bring faster account verification to fintechs.

MX currently connects more than 16,000 financial institutions and fintechs with its data connectivity network. The company powers 85% of digital banking providers, as well as thousands of banks, credit unions, and fintechs, reaching more than 200 million financial services customers. Ryan Caldwell is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer.

Open Finance Platform Moneyhub Secures $18 Million to Fuel Expansion

Open Finance Platform Moneyhub Secures $18 Million to Fuel Expansion

In its biggest investment round to date, U.K.-based Open Finance platform Moneyhub has secured $18 million in funding to support its expansion into new markets. The round was led by Sir Peter Wood, founder of Direct Line and Esure, via his new investment vehicle, SPWOne.

“It is incredibly rewarding to be able to deliver results to both investors and clients in this truly transformational landscape,” Moneyhub CEO Samantha Seaton said. “It is a fantastic vote of confidence from Sir Peter and his team, who are renowned for foreseeing game-changing growth opportunities – and a ringing endorsement of our team and our strategy for applying new technology where the rules of engagement have been turned upside down.”

A Finovate alum for more than four years, Moneyhub demoed the SmartAsset feature of its solution at FinovateEurope 2017. At the event, the company showed how SmartAsset’s AI-driven, intelligent messaging functionality helps users better manage their finances. In the years since, Moneyhub has grown into a leading open finance and data intelligence platform that offers both API and white label solutions to help businesses leverage personalization to enhance the customer experience. In the U.K., Moneyhub currently provides customer-permissioned financial data access to more than 200 financial services providers via 584 connections with an additional 3,500 connections in Europe.

Moneyhub’s funding announcement comes on the heels of a new partnership with Triodos Bank, a sustainable bank that supports working toward positive social, environmental, and cultural change. Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank serves more than 700,000 banking customers in the U.K., Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The bank has lent more than £8 billion to support projects around the world that are dedicated toward “benefitting the people and (the) planet.” Triodos Bank also co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a 63-bank network designed to promote sustainable banking.

“We are pleased that our customers will now be able to integrate their everyday banking with Moneyhub’s app and enjoy the many benefits of Open Banking, such as helping them to easily track spending and set budgets to help manage money,” Triodos Bank U.K. head of retail banking Gareth Griffiths said.

In addition to its partnership with Triodos Bank, Moneyhub teamed up with mortgage market insights and intelligence firm Hometrack, shared branch banking innovator OneBanks, and adtech specialist Zedosh this summer; partnered with financial health platform Level Financial Technology and charitable fundraising app Kynder this spring; and began the year collaborating with professional services company Aon and ESG investment platform The Big Exchange.

Investment App Stash Grabs Financial Literacy Platform PayGrade

Investment App Stash Grabs Financial Literacy Platform PayGrade

Along with the fanfare surrounding so-called meme stocks and the “power of the individual trader” last year, there was a dark side. Investing and trading platforms that had embraced gamification were being accused of not fully preparing their customers for the dangers involved in stock trading – especially in volatile, illiquid stocks. Critics demanded that these platforms spend more time – and money, if necessary – educating their customers for their own benefit as well as for the good of the investing and trading industry, which has recovered impressively since the bust 20 years ago.

This is the spirit in which we take the news that Stash, a New York-based, mobile-first investment platform that made its Finovate debut in 2017, has acquired financial literacy platform PayGrade. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition marks Stash’s first acquisition and its biggest fintech news headline since a whopping $125 million Series G fundraising back in February.

Brandon Kreig, CEO and co-founder of Stash said that the acquisition was an example of the company’s mission to “empower everyday Americans to invest for the future.” He noted that personal finance education is not emphasized in American schools – with 43 out of 50 states not requiring coursework in personal financial management – and that an overwhelming number of American adults – as much as 80% – live “paycheck to paycheck.”

“With PayGrade,” Kreig explained, “Stash will provide teachers, parents, and children with interactive tools to learn effective money management skills that will last a lifetime.”

Stash enables users to begin investing on its platform with as little as $1 a month. The company’s “Stash Beginner” program allows investing – including fractional share investing – as well as banking, portfolio recommendations, savings strategies, and a Stock-Back card that helps users earn stock every time they use the card for shopping. Stash also offers Growth and Plus plans that add features such as portfolios for children, premium research, and enhanced bonuses for using the Stash Stock-Back card.

Purchasing PayGrade is not the only way that Stash will support the cause of financial literacy this year. Stash’s acquisition news arrived just a few days before the company announced that it was partnering with the Suh Family Foundation and the Big Yard Foundation to launch a financial literacy program over the summer. Dubbed the Stash101 Summer School, the program will be conducted in partnership with Portland Public Schools and will give 160 middle school students an introduction to vital money management and wealth building.

“From investing and banking to education and retirement planning, we believe everyone has the power to achieve greater financial freedom—one step at a time.” Krieg said. “We’re thrilled to deepen our commitment to childhood education through Stash101 and this special summer school program in Portland with the Suhs and Big Yard. It’s going to be a tremendous four weeks for the kids.”

Stash101 is part of the Portland Interscholastic League Trajectory Math Program, which provides additional learning resources for historically underserved students. The course will include a simulated economy experience in which the students will complete tasks like renting desks, while earning a salary and learning about the difference between savings and credit. The classes will be held between July 6 and July 27 at a pair of schools in the Portland School system.

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich from Pexels