Influencers as Innovation: Fintechs Turn to the Famous in Bid to Boost Visibility

Photo by Vishnu R Nair from Pexels

Expensify’s 2019 Super Bowl advertisement – Expensify Th!$ – featuring Adam Scott and rap star 2Chainz – was not the first time a fintech leveraged the shine from pop culture to illuminate itself.

But as Snoop Dogg celebrates his first anniversary as a high-profile Klarna shareholder and RDC announces that it has hired a network of social media influencers to help promote its new digital banking app, it’s clear that firms are all-in when it comes to using celebrity to showcase everything fintech – from expense management to pay-later ecommerce solutions. Alec Baldwin, who has become one of pop culture’s more potent pitchmen, was recently enlisted by eToro to help boost its CopyTrader marketing campaign.

The financial world has been as much a fan of celebrity as a customer engagement tool as any other industry with brands to build. Today, Mastercard announced that it was working with Swedish singer Nadine Randle to produce a song that “integrates the payment giant’s ‘sonic brand.” The company’s ‘sonic brand’ identity itself is the fruit of a partnership between Linkin Park co-founder Mike Shinoda, who developed the score last year.

And from the local sports hero to the homecoming veteran, credit unions and community banks have long leveraged the willingness of regional-minded stars and celebrities to “give back” to the communities and neighborhoods they grew up in.

But as fintechs increasingly partner with and compete with these and other financial institutions – and take advantage of new forms of celebrity such as social media influencers – they are increasingly taking a page from the FI marketing playbooks when it comes to using star power to shine a light on the work they do.

Expensify CEO and founder David Barrett highlighted the way his company’s technology would make it easier for talents like 2Chainz to “make the most epic music video ever” in his Expensify Th!$ ad. But he also told Fast Company at the time that even though Expensify had the “strongest brand” in the expense management game, and was the fastest-growing such firm with the biggest customer base, “virtually nobody in the world knows who we are.”

The celebrity approach to marketing is not without its detractors. In a post at Medium.com last year, Millennium Management COO Ajay Nagpal noted data from the 2018 Sprout Social Index that suggested that consumers are more likely to buy a product or service recommended by a friend than a celebrity. Moreover, Nagpal raised an interesting question as to whether or not the star endorsement of a brand in fashion, for example, would have the same impact as the same star’s endorsement of a brand in wealth management or tax planning.

Perhaps it depends on the star. Last fall, Finovate audiences were treated to a surprise appearance from noted Canadian investor and star of the reality show Shark Tank, Kevin O’Leary, who provided an on-stage, end-of-demo endorsement of Bambu’s Beanstox investing solution. And it’s a good bet that “Mr. Wonderful” is likely to be a more powerful advocate for white- label, B2B robo advisory technology than he might be for, say, leggings …

Additionally, as Director of Brand Strategy at Weber Marketing Group John Mathes wrote for The Financial Brand, even the best celebrity branding works better over time rather than as a one-off. Calling the practice “borrowed interest,” Mathes warned that while carefully targeted star power can produce positive results “brand building is usually a slow process. It takes time. It’s not a single campaign or gimmick.”

The impact of celebrity and influencers on the visibility of and engagement with fintech remains to be seen. But maybe more to the point, the fact that a growing number of fintechs are adopting the same approach to brand-boosting as their peers and rivals in the rest of the financial world may be a positive sign for the fintech industry in and of itself.

We’ve Got Funding, How About You?

With FinovateAsia and FinovateMiddleEast coming up later this year, we wanted to pause to take a look at the funding that participants from last year’s shows have received so far this year.

In the first eight months of 2019, four fintechs that participated in FinovateAsia and FinovateMiddleEast 2018 raised more than $23 million combined.

With real funding at stake, what are you waiting for? Apply to demo your tech at FinovateAsia or FinovateMiddleEast today. The application is free and you have nothing to lose!

The Middle East and North Africa startup culture has continued to mature, especially when it comes to early stage companies. Part of the growth can be attributed to the region’s investment in both talent and infrastructure. Coding programs and regional hackathons have not only added to the talent pool of startup recruits, they have also given the startup culture a boost.

In Asia, India has risen as the region’s top country for fintech funding. The $286 million in fintech funding the country raised in Q1 of this year outranks China’s total of $192 million raised for fintechs in that same quarter. Part of the slowdown in China can be attributed to increased regulation in the region.

If your startup is interested in demoing at this year’s FinovateAsia or FinovateMiddleEast conference, contact our demo team at middleeast@finovate.com or asia@finovate.com.

Bambu Brings in $10 Million

Digital wealth technology company Bambu is bringing home the bacon today in the form of Series B funding. The $10 million round comes courtesy of three-time investor Franklin Templeton and new investor PEAK6 Strategic Capital, both of which co-led the round.

The Singapore-based company will use the funds to expand its reach of B2B clients, an audience Bambu sought out while a multitude of players in the space were taking a direct-to-consumer approach. And during the four years since launch, Bambu has made sizable gains in this market. Originally limited to Asia– the company marketed itself as Asia’s Premier B2B Roboadvisory– the company has since grown its client base into international markets. Bambu landed its first U.S.-based client and opened a new London office in March of last year.

As part of its B2B expansion, Bambu will target new segments in the financial services vertical and build teams in offices across the globe. As a part of that effort, the company will demo its technology at this year’s FinovateFall conference in New York, which kicks off September 23. Today, Bambu provides solutions to more than 15 financial institutions across the U.S., Europe, UAE and Asia including Standard Chartered, Refinitiv, and Connect by Crossroads.

“We are committed to working with a global client base to digitize saving and investing so it’s easier and more accessible to investors everywhere. We welcome PEAK6 together with the continued support from Franklin Templeton in this round,” said Bambu founder and CEO Ned Phillips. He added, “This is a strong confirmation that we have built a unique business and platform for the global market. We see growing demand across all markets, and we are increasing our ability to serve clients globally.”

Bambu’s cloud-based technology helps wealth managers bring automated investment services to their clients. The three-tiered approach includes the company’s Intelligent Advisor, a private banking product that creates efficiencies for relationship managers; White Label Robo, a white-labeled solution that helps asset managers create a personalized portfolio and risk profile for clients; and the BambuAPI developer hub, which offers developers their choice of modules to integrate into their own solutions.

With 70 employees working across Singapore, London, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Johannesburg, Bambu has raised a total of $13.4 million in funding. The company won Best of Show for its demo at FinovateAfrica last year. Earlier this year, Bambu earned a spot on Fintech News Singapore’s list of 29 Hottest Fintechs in Singapore 2019.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Onfido Unveils International Partner Program.
  • Pepper Power: HSBC Brings Robot Retail Banking to FinovateFall.

Around the web

  • Blockchain launches The PIT, an institutional-grade crypto trading platform.
  • IDology appoints Christina Luttrell as COO.
  • Featurespace delivers ARIC Fraud Hub with banking, payments, and processing solution provider Contis.
  • FIS closes acquisition of Worldpay.
  • TurkishBank teams up with Token to ensure PSD2 compliance.
  • Revolut hires former Metro Bank finance director David Maclean as its new Chief Financial Officer.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Global: Vymo Launches in Vietnam; ZagTrader Helps FIs Go Crypto

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global: Fintech News from Around the World is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • ZagTrader and BeQuant team Up to help institutions go crypto.
  • Temenos partners with Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi bank.
  • Emirates NBD to work with Intellect Design Arena for a planned digital transformation of its transaction banking platform.

Central and South Asia

  • BankBazaar announces partnership with Ujjivan Small Finance Bank for Personal Loans.
  • Victoria Commercial Bank Kenya goes live with corporate banking technology powered by i-exceed’s Appzillon.
  • Aurora interviews Bernhard Klemen, international partner with venture capital fund Sarmayacar on opportunities for venture financing for Pakistani fintech startups.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • German challenger bank N26 announces plans to expand to Brazil.
  • BBVA Colombia looks at its role in helping promote fintech innovation in Peru. In Spanish.
  • FXCompared profiles Argentina-based PayPal rival, MercadoLibre.

Asia-Pacific

  • Leading Vietnam-based consumer finance firm, FE Credit, chooses Vymo’s AI-powered personal sales assistant.
  • Bambu and CredoLab earn spots on Fintech News Singapore’s 29 Hottest Fintechs in Singapore 2019 roster.
  • Accenture and nCino partner to better serve FIs in the Asia-Pacific and EMEA regions.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Tymebank goes live with core banking tech from Mambu.
  • Nigerian digital banking solution provider TeamApt raises $5.5 million in funding.
  • South Africa’s Standard Bank to launch private cloud-based distributed ledger platform for payments and settlement.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Russia’s Tinkoff Bank joins the country’s Faster Payments System.
  • Ukraine finishes its pilot project, begun in December, in support of its national digital currency, the e-hryvnia.
  • UK-based Rimilia and Association of Credit for Central and Eastern Europe to promote adoption of AI-based technologies to automate AR in the CEE region.

Top image designed by Freepik

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • SpyCloud Scores $21 Million in Round Led by Microsoft’s M12.
  • Temenos Partners with Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank.
  • Tymebank Goes Live with Core Banking Tech from Mambu.

Around the web

  • NICE Actimize partners with crypto finance company Circle to deploy its market surveillance technology.
  • Silvergate Bank to deploy Finastra’s Total Payments, leveraging the API-enabled solution to support payment processing.
  • Leading Vietnam-based consumer finance firm, FE Credit, chooses Vymo’s AI-powered personal sales assistant.
  • Bambu and CredoLab earn spots on Fintech News Singapore’s 29 Hottest Fintechs in Singapore 2019 roster.
  • GreatHorn announces capability to detect credential theft involving Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite.
  • Identitii joins the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BAIN).

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

FinovateAfrica Best of Show Winners Announced

The votes have been cast and tallied – and the winners of FinovateAfrica’s Best of Show awards have been named. Congratulations to Bambu and OUTvest!

Finovate’s first foray into the African fintech scene has been a huge success. The companies that demonstrated their technologies live on stage this week showed us innovations in everything from automated regtech and small business lending, to customer engagement and AI-enabled credit assessment.

Yet the two companies whose live demos made the greatest impressions on our FinovateAfrica audience were firms focused on one of fintech’s earliest – and most persistent – disruptions: the rise of the robo-advisor. For these companies, wealthtech is still fertile ground for fintech innovation. And improving the way individual investors and their advisors build and manage personalized, investment portfolios is as important today as it has ever been.

Bambu for its goal-based, white label robo-advisor offering that gives investors a natural and effortless experience in finding the right investment strategy for their client’s needs.

 

 

OUTvest for its hybrid robo-advisor that uses an evidence-based approach to help everyone build and mange their own investment strategy.

 


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

FinovateAfrica Sneak Peek: Bambu

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateAfrica on November 27 and 28, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Register today and save your spot.

Bambu is a leading robo-advisor technology provider, transforming digital wealth globally. The company enables businesses by making saving and investing more straightforward and intelligent for their clients.

Features

  • Customizable, goal-based robo advisor platform
  • Natural and effortless experience
  • Combination of personalization advice, investment strategies and the latest technology

Why it’s great
A smarter way to invest and save for the future.

Presenters

Ned Phillips, CEO and Founder
Former MD and now an entrepreneur, Phillips is the founder and chief executive officer of Bambu. Based in Asia for the past 25 years, he started his journey in fintech in 1999 with E*TRADE.
LinkedIn

 

Nick Wood, Senior Representative, Middle East and Africa
With over 20 years of work experience in the international financial services environment, Wood is a successful business builder with extensive South African and global contacts and track records.
LinkedIn

 

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Thought Machine Announces Strategic Partnership with Lloyds Banking Group.

Around the web

  • OutSystems announces its partner of the year awards.
  • A €5.5 billion independent French bank will deploy Ambit Focus, a regulatory reporting as a service solution from FIS.
  • eToro invests $1 million into cryptocurrency experiment, GoodDollar, designed to reduce wealth inequality.
  • Dell Small Business’ BetaKit interviews Finn.AI co-founder and COO, Natalie Cartwright.
  • Signicat launches new B2B document signing solution, Signicat Business Signature.
  • Backbase names Capgemini its Global Solution Partner of the Year.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • CardFlight Launches SwipeSimple Customers to Support Card Data Management.
  • Roostify Teams Up with Ellie Mae to Boost Efficiency in Mortgage Lending.

Around the web

  • Experian and Close Brothers Retail Finance pilot Mobile for Credit service for U.K. gamers.
  • New Penn Financial goes live with Portfolio Underwriter from Loan Scorecard.
  • PasswordPing earns finalist spot in 2018 “Innovation Quotient” IQ Awards.
  • Ukraine’s Akhmetov Bank leverages Corezoid’s cloud-based operating system.
  • ebankIT and Enterprise Engineering forge strategic partnership for the North American market.
  • Bambu, Eltropy, Moxtra, and Onfido are among the startups selected for Plug and Play Singapore’s inaugural fintech and insurtech program.
  • TECHdotMN profiles Sezzle founder and CEO, Charlie Youakim.
  • Forbes Middle East highlights Ayasdi and ThetaRay in look at how AI is helping solve financial crime.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • DefenseStorm Forges Strategic Partnership with Alogent.
  • FinovateFall 2018: Be There … In Times Square.

Around the web

  • Ripple reaches milestone as its RippleNet network is now live in more than 40 countries across six continents.
  • Bambu, Exate Technology, and Market IQ are among the seven startups selected for Plug and Play ADGM’s three-month accelerator program.
  • AlphaPoint appoints Moishe Gubin to its board of directors.
  • CallVU to provide an international credit company with biometric authentication via its digital engagement platform.
  • Enveil and Payfone earn spots on the 2018 SINET 16 Innovators roster.
  • Fifth Domain features Hacker One in a look at how white hat hackers could help improve voting machine security.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

DriveWealth and Bambu Join Forces on Roboadvisory Tool

Two wealthtech companies from opposite sides of the globe have built upon their partnership this week. New Jersey-based DriveWealth and Singapore-based Bambu have collaborated on the launch of a white-label, roboadvisory platform for U.S. wealth managers.

While the two have worked together for the past three years on products for overseas markets, this is their first joint offering in the U.S. Robert Cortright, DriveWealth CEO, described the new platform as “a streamlined product for wealth managers seeking to offer a unique, easy-to-use investing platform directly to their retail customers.”

The solution is the result of an integration between DriveWealth’s suite of wealth management APIs, which facilitate everything from customer onboarding to U.S. stock market ordering and reporting; and Bambu’s roboadvisory software, which automates financial planning, saving, and investing for end consumers. More simply, the new offering pairs DriveWealth’s fractional share technology with Bambu’s front-end user interface.

The new platform has three major components:

  • An advisor dashboard that provides an overview of client activities and alerts, and tracks invested capital and cash balances.
  • A CIO dashboard with portfolio-building capabilities that assist in simulating, creating, and rebalancing portfolios.
  • A client application that allows them to adjust investment goals, access investments, and perform investment analyses.

Ned Phillips, CEO of Bambu said, “We are confident that this end-to-end service for financial institutions in the U.S. will be a game changer in simplifying investing.”

Founded in 2012, DriveWealth’s clients include MoneyLion, a lending and wealth management app, and INVSTR, a U.K.-based stock trading application. At FinovateAsia 2016, the company released a new API to enable partners to offer a roboadvisory product suite and a self-directed equity investing platform. Earlier this year, DriveWealth closed a $21 million investment, bringing its total funding to $30 million.

At FinovateAsia 2017, Bambu won Best of Show for its demo of People Like Me, a tool that leverages machine learning to help users define their financial goals. Last month, the company raised $3 million in funding and earlier this year it expanded into London.