BanQu Closes Extension on Series A Round

Blockchain-based identity startup BanQu announced it closed an extension of its Series A round today. The funds come from Anheuser-Busch InBev’s venture arm ZX Ventures. The amount of the funding was undisclosed but adds to the company’s previous funding total of $2.6 million.

“After BanQu’s outstanding pilot performance in our 100+ Accelerator, we are pleased to solidify the partnership with Ashish, Jeff, and the entire team at BanQu through an equity investment,” said Tony Milikin, Chief Sustainability and Procurement Officer at AB InBev. “Together, we are working to improve access to modern banking for thousands of farmers in underserved rural markets, driving inclusive growth and contributing to our own 2025 Sustainability Goal as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Minnesota-based BanQu won Best of Show at FinovateSpring 2016 for its blockchain-as-a-service company that aims to lift people out of extreme poverty by connecting them with global supply chains, brands, organizations, and governments. The company connects the unbanked population to the global economy via a distributed ledger of financial and personal records using blockchain technology. Once users create a transaction history on the BanQu blockchain, they create a trackable personal history that serves as a form of identity, providing a baseline for them to participate in the global economy.

BanQu originally launched its partnership with AB InBev in August of last year after piloting its identity technology with 2,000+ cassava farmers in Zambia. Since then, the company has rolled out programs in Uganda and India, and is planning efforts in Brazil.

“ABInBev has been an incredible partner to BanQu over the past year, and together we have innovated and scaled the BanQu platform across multiple countries and thousands of farmers. Farmers at the world’s “last mile,” traditionally excluded from the global economy and lacking a verifiable economic identity, are now visible, financially empowered, and connected in the global supply chain of AB InBev,” said BanQu Co-Founder and CEO Ashish Gadnis. “The ZX investment takes this partnership to a whole new level of commitment on both sides. It cements our core shared vision of making the world a better place while being good business stewards.”

BanQu currently has operations across 12 countries including Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Somalia, South Africa, Syria, Uganda, United States, and Zambia. The company has plans for additional rollouts in China and Mexico later this year.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • $468 Million Raised by 20 Alums in Q1 of 2019
  • BanQu Closes Extension on Series A Round
  • Credit Agricole Plans $17 Billion Tech Investment in Four Years
  • Lighter Capital Launches New Financing Options

Around the web

  • Growjo names Coinbase, Plaid, and BlueVine fastest growing startups in California.
  • Ping Identity launches capabilities framework to help clients adopt a Zero Trust security strategy.
  • Sifted looks at Credit Karma’s entry into Europe.

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

Around the web

  • Enveil launches its enhanced ZeroReveal 2.0 data-in-use security solution.
  • Boku integrates with digital payments solution Grab in order to expand payment options in Southeast Asia.
  • Equifax Canada announces partnership with SecureKey Technologies.
  • Artivest taps Paul Nobile as its new Chief Marketing Officer.
  • Lattice80 interviews Ashish Gadnis, Co-Founder and CEO of BanQu.

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

  • Starling, Anorak Merge Insurtech with Mobile-Only Banking.

Around the web

  • Fiserv to power Philippine Veterans Bank’s digital transformation.
  • Token.io announced using public bank APIs to conduct end-to-end payments for U.K. banking group, CMA9, the first PISP to do so.
  • Housing Wire profiles Mortgage Cadence‘s LOS, Borrower Center.
  • Thomson Reuters launches new targeted reporting solution, RTS 27, for newly-registered MiFID II Systematic Internalisers.
  • NICE provides its Desktop Automation solution to Latin American CRM and BPO solution provider, Liq.
  • Tinkoff Bank enables movie ticket booking on the iOS version of its mobile app.
  • NCR releases managed services bundle for Community Financial Institutions (CFIs) to NCR channel partners.
  • WePay appoints Jennifer Parker as Chief Revenue Officer.
  • Neustar and Thunder join forces to deliver better customer experiences.
  • BanQu launches partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev to revolutionize supply chain transparency in Zambia.

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

  • BBVA Partners with Azlo to Empower Workers in the Gig Economy.

Around the web

  • Wipro named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by Ethisphere for seventh time in a row.
  • LendUp CEO Jake Rosenberg talks about providing “fair financial products” to the underbanked in a conversation with Y Combinator.
  • Technology from Quid helps Walmart build its American Family Today report.
  • Milwaukee Public Radio features BanQu and its ability to leverage blockchain technology to help refugees reclaim their identities.

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

Around the web

  • The largest bank in the Philippines, BDO Unibank, reups with Fiserv.
  • Customers of PayU gain access to payments services from Zooz courtesy of new partnership.
  • Let’s Talk Payments interviews BanQu co-founder, Ashish Gadnis.
  • Insuritas partners with Constellation to Monetize Online Banking Experience.

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

  • nCino Helps Financial Institutions Benefit from Cloud Banking
  • LendUp Gives the Underbanked What No Traditional Bank Will

On FinDEVr.com

  • Check out this week’s FinDEVr APIntelligence

Around the web

  • BanQu teams up with Eastern Congo Initiative to launch secure data storage network for farmers.
  • TransferWise announces operational profitability and monthly revenues of £8 million.
  • Lighter Capital adds Former Silicon Valley Bank’s Head of Risk, Marc Verissimo, to its Board of Directors
  • Wells Fargo selects Uniken for accelerator program.
  • Wipro launches Nine Solutions to Accelerate Adoption of Blockchain Across Industry Sectors
  • Societe Generale partners with Open Bank Project to launch internal Open Banking Hackathon
  • South Carolina-based Community First Bank hires Insuritas to install and manage insurance agency.

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

  • Best of Show Winner Alpharank Earns Spot in FIS Accelerator
  • Finovate Debuts: Dorsum Puts the AI in DAISY, its Onboarding ChatBot
  • Trulioo Bolsters Regtech Solution with Mitek Partnership
  • How to Make It In the Fintech Industry: Startup Success Stories Speak Out

Around the web

  • Trulioo partners with Mitek to add facial recognition functionality to its ID verification platform. Join Trulioo at FinDEVr London next month where the company will lead a lunch roundtable discussion, AML, KYC, OMG: How to manage compliance with a smaller team and a better UX.
  • Greenkey Technologies announces interconnection partnership with iMarket.
  • Misys launches FusionCapital Detect, an AI-powered, smart personal assistant that helps identify errors and anomalies in trade transactions.
  • Daily Fintech profiles blockchain innovator and Finovate Best of Show winner, BanQu.
  • FinDEVr alum OutSystems expands to Asia with new office in Japan.
  • Signicat teams up with Rabobank to launch new, Netherlands-based digital identity service provider.
  • Ohio-based First National Bank of Pandora chooses core account processing platform from Fiserv.
  • BioCatch Receives Frost & Sullivan New Product and Innovation Award for Continued Disruption in Behavioral Biometrics Landscape.

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.

Spring Forward: FinovateSpring 2016 Alums Top $200 Million in Funding

FinovateSpring2016_scene

With FinovateSpring 2017 coming next month, we thought we’d take a look back at how the alums from our last spring conference a year ago have fared on the fundraising front.

And after a quick review, it seems that investors continue to be interested in the innovations of Finovate alumni. In fact, even without the $1.8 billion Golden Gate Capital spent on its acquisition of Neustar late last year ($2.9 million with debt included), the alums from FinovateSpring 2016 have had an impressive year of fundraising. While the specific funding amounts for a number of alums were not officially disclosed, our review shows more than $200 million raised by 20 FinovateSpring 2016 alums over the past year alone.

Among the bigger deals of the past year, the $72 million raised by OurCrowd stands out. OurCrowd, a crowd investing platform for venture capital, was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel. With a growing network of more than 17,000 investors, OurCrowd has raised $400 million on its platform, providing funding for 110 companies. Also noteworthy was the $29 million raised by FinDEVr/Finovate alum NYMBUS in two separate fundings in August and February. NYMBUS is an innovator in developing advanced, cloud-based core banking systems. Known as a “bank in a box” NYMBUS technology gives smaller banks and credit unions the ability to compete with larger FIs when it comes to providing customers with the latest digital banking services.

So to help get you ready for FinovateSpring 2017, here’s a list of the investments scored by alums from last year’s conference. And remember you can see live demos from all 20 of our fundraising FinovateSpring 2016 alums in our Video Archives.

February 2017

  • FinDEVr New York Alum NYMBUS Announces $16 Million in New Funding
  • Qumram’s Regtech Offering Lands $1.49 Million
  • Empyr Raises $3 Million in Funding

January 2017

  • ForwardLane Raises $1.1 Million in New Funding
  • Earnix Receives $13.5 Million in Growth Capital from New and Existing Investors

December 2016

  • Cyberfend Acquired by Akamai Technologies for Undisclosed Amount

November 2016

  • Sezzle Raises Seed Funding Ahead of Shopify Debut ($1.85 million)
  • Neustar Acquired by Golden Gate Capital for $1.8 Billion (including debt $2.9B)

October 2016

  • ThreatMetrix Picks Up $30 Million in Growth Capital from Silicon Valley Bank (debt financing)

September 2016

  • OurCrowd Pulls In $72 Million
  • WealthForge to Raise $2.5 Million in New Convertible Note Offering
  • OneVisage Earns Seed Funding in Round Led by Polytech Ecosystem Ventures (amount undisclosed)

August 2016

  • CUneXus Closes $5 Million Series A
  • Automobile Title Lending Platform Finova Financial Raises $52.5 Million
  • NYMBUS Raises $12 Million in Round Led by Vensure Enterprises

July 2016

  • Linqto Announces New Venture Funding from Keiretsu Capital (amount undisclosed)

June 2016

  • NICE Funding! CallVU Raises $3 Million
  • Civic Announces New Debt Financing from Blockchain Capital (amount undisclosed)
  • savedroid AG Completes €1 ($1.1 USD) Million Seed Round; Announces Beta Launch
  • Cyberfend Earns Undisclosed Non-Equity Assistance from MasterCard Start Path Global Program.
  • BanQu Secures $100,000 in Financing (convertible note)

Are you a FinovateSpring 2016 alums whose funding we missed? Send us an email research@finovate.com and we’ll be happy to make the update.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Envestnet | Yodlee, eMoney Advisor, and Betterment Earn Recognition at 2016 Wealth Management Awards

Around the web

  • Qapital featured in a list of the “5 best productivity apps for freelancers.”
  • Let’s Talk Payments profiles Finovate Best of Show winner BanQu.
  • LendingTree named a top workplace by The Charlotte Observer.
  • Actiance Launches Safe Landing Program for Autonomy Customers.
  • Xero Announces Improved Integration with PayPal.

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.

Fintech Trending: Bots Break Out, AI Gets Personal, and Blockchain Buys the Farm

finovatefall2016_stage_crowdshot

Is it fair to judge a fintech conference based on the way it reflects, anticipates, and even uncovers what’s most important in the field? We think so, and were once again impressed by the way FinovateFall this month helped spread the story of fintech in the second half of 2016.

After all, we read about new technologies every day. But once the wow factor subsides, the question remains: Does it really work? Is anybody, any bank, any business in the real world actually putting this great looking, great sounding technology—these bots, this blockchain—to the test?

The good news is that the good news is true: new technologies like chatbots not only work, but were demonstrated live on stage by companies like Personetics (F16); Fiserv (F16); Kore (F16); and FinovateFall 2o16 Best of Show winner, Backbase (F16). We can even include companies like Clinc (F16) in this category of innovations that make it easier for people to communicate with technology. Clinc, which also won Best of Show honors at FinovateFall, developed and demonstrated an artificial intelligence-based natural language, using an intelligent assistant that earned rave reviews from both attendees and the media.

  • “Backbase promises 60-second customer on-boarding with new solution”—Banking Technology
  • “Bots Are Everywhere, But Are They Ready for Banking?”—Bank Innovation

What about the blockchain, you ask? Earlier this year at FinovateSpring, our attendees awarded a Best of Show trophy to BanQu (F16), a company that uses blockchain technology to help refugee and displaced persons re-establish community ties through identification and financial inclusion. This month at FinovateFall, we met Full Profile (F16), an Australian company leveraging the blockchain to support real-time settlement, financing, and provenance-tracking of agricultural commodities.

  • “Blockchain technology extends to agricultural contracts”—The Australian

But FinovateFall was about more than the most headline-grabbing technologies. As our Best of Show voting revealed, the appeal of technology to solve more everyday problems—be it buying a car or a gift card—remains strong as well.

“You’ve Got A Car!” and a Digital Revolution in Regifting

This certainly seems to be what Finovate attendees had in mind when it came to Finovate newcomer and Best of Show winner AutoGravity (F16). Founded last fall, the Irvine, California-based startup leverages the smartphone to make every aspect of the car-buying experience easier, from initial selection of a vehicle all the way through the financing process. As with a growing number of fintech solutions, AutoGravity combines several innovations we’ve seen individually in fintech demonstrations over the years—document scanning; the integration of social media with credit application; geolocation—to produce a solution that seeks to disrupt traditional auto financing as we know it.

Swych (F16), the mobile gifting platform that also won Best of Show, is another example of technology making magic out of the otherwise mundane. The company facilitates the purchase, sending, redemption, and exchange of gift cards using digital technology that puts the smartphone at the center of the process. Based out of Plano, Texas, Swych’s technology brings the gift card industry into the 21st century, potentially helping breathe new life into what is typically thought of as the “gift of last resort.”

  • “Mobile tech for automobile lending, gift card redeeming snag top prize at Finovate”—Bizjournals
  • Brief: FinovateFall 2016 Best of Show—CrowdfundInsider

Security: short and sweet

It is no exaggeration to say that Trusona (F16), a two-year-old security specialist out of Scottsdale, Arizona, provided one of the most well-received demos of the year. And a large part of what made it so successful (and such a must-watch) was the way the demo itself embodied the dream of a simple security solution that works the same way every single time.

By quickly and effortlessly authenticating and logging in repeatedly in the course of six minutes, Trusona CEO and founder Ori Eisen did what every person who has ever wracked their brain for their most recent password, or struggled to enter a captcha code on a mobile phone, wants out of a security solution: Make it fast, make it easy, make it work the same way every single time. With plenty of competition in the security space from innovators on stage and off, it is no surprise that Trusona, with its #nopassword campaign and did-I-mention-it’s-free offering, stood out from the pack.

  • “Trusona Wins ‘Best of Show’ at FinovateFall 2016—MarketWired

Everybody loves a (six-time) winner

No discussion of FinovateFall would be complete without a tip o’ the hat to MX (F16). The company took home its sixth Best of Show trophy, impressing audiences with its PowerSwitch technology that allows an FI to quickly establish a new card of reference for consumers across a variety of platforms such as Netflix, Uber, Hulu, and Amazon.com. This gives financial institutions a powerful tool in attracting new customers and in providing new options to existing customers. It also gives FIs potential access to what MX CEO Ryan Caldwell called “a mountain of interchange”—more than $200 billion in 2015 according to MX—that banks and credit unions can’t afford to miss.

  • “MX Achieves Innovation Milestone, Becomes First Company to Win Finovate Best of Show Six Times”—MX Blog

For more coverage on FinovateFall, check out our press roundup and our FinovateFall on Twitter post.

In other news

A hybrid debit/credit card

San Francisco-based startup Zero raised $2.5 million this week. While the investment sum is not particularly notable, what the company is doing certainly is.

Zero offers a Visa credit card that works in conjunction with a mobile app, but it’s not just another alt/neo/challenger bank. The differentiating factor is that Zero deducts money from the user’s account in real time just like a debit card, so there is no monthly bill. Unlike a debit card, however, transactions process on credit card rails so cardholders receive from 1% to 3% cash-back on purchases. It also touts no fees and pays higher interest on deposits (though they don’t yet specify how much) than traditional savings accounts.

The credit card is made out of solid metal and the app offers great looking PFM tools that forecast users’ balances into the future. Clearly, the startup has millennial users in its sights and claims to have the potential to increase a credit score, since there’s no way to default on payments.

The company makes money on merchant processing instead of charging fees to users. It also saves money on advertising by using a pyramid-scheme referral approach (which worked on me as I shamelessly promoted them on Facebook yesterday).

With recent talk of credit cards falling out of favor with millennials because of their hesitancy toward debt, Zero offers an option that provides the best of both worlds—the cash-back and credit-building opportunities that come with credit cards, and the real-time transactional capability of debit cards.

Another just-launched startup doing something similar is New York-based Debitize. However, Debitize does not issue a new credit card but instead aggregates customers’ existing credit-card transactions and initiates a real-time transfer from their checking account to cover the charges. Keep an eye on this space; we think we’ll see FIs picking up on this idea in the next couple of years (presuming regulators allow the practice).

New ACH regulation

The first phase of same-day ACH-transfer regulation lands today. And while the final phase will not hit until March 2018, all bank and credit union accounts must now accept same-day transfers.

To help banks move forward with the new rule, Dwolla (F11) launched a white-label API for same-day ACH. The API, which is in a pilot program, currently supports credits only. Dwolla will roll it out with more partners in Q4 of this year.

The Clearing House, the organization behind the ACH modernization, has partnered with IBM’s (F16) Power8 to serve as the hosting program for same-day ACH. U.K.-based Vocalink (purchased by Mastercard in July 2016) is set to deliver the platform, which will roll out to banks in the U.S. within the next year.

Fintech Trending: Alt-Lending Woes, Asia Grows and Everbank Exits

A look at the trending topics of the past two weeks.

Trending highest: No Lush Life for Alt Lenders

LushLIfe_Coltrane_albumcoverIf unanimously positive perceptions are the hallmark of a bubble, then rest assured that the alt-lending market has moved past that stage. For every headline-grabbing C-level departure at Lending Club (F09)—CEO Renaud Laplanche stepping down in June, CFO Carrie Dolan announcing her resignation in August—there are successes: Prosper (F09) revealed its plan to sell $5 billion in loans to a group of private investors over the next two years; small business lender OnDeck (F12) surpassed earnings expectations despite its second consecutive quarterly loss and reported year-over-year quarterly revenue gains, as well as a year-over-year increase in loans under management of 47%.

So if there’s no bubble in the alt-lending part of the fintech universe, should we fear a bust? Diverging fortunes among these companies is a good sign. The more the fates of alternative lenders are linked to the decisions of individual corporate leaders, their business plans, and their customers rather than investing trends among venture capitalists (or hedge funds in the case of alt lenders gone public), the better. Looking at the P2P lending market in the U.K., LendInvest CEO Christian Faes told Business Insider, “Over the next few years, the businesses that can prove they can make a profit will be the ones [still] around in another ten years, making a lasting impact on finance.” In other words, just like any other business.

For Lending Club, the challenge is diversifying away from “fickle funding sources.” In addition to Prosper’s $5 billion move, Social Finance went so far as to launch a hedge fund, the $15 million SoFi Credit Opportunities Fund, to purchase its loans as well as those of its competitors.

  • OnDeck Loan Originations (And Loan Loss Provisions) Soar – PYMNTS.com
  • OnDeck Defends Strategy After $17.9 Million Loss – American Banker
  • Online Lenders Have a Tough Job Ahead – Wall Street Journal
  • The U.K.’s historically low interest rate could benefit alternative lenders – Business Insider
  • Lending Club’s latest results tell us a lot about the online credit business model – FT Alphaville

Other trending topics

Fintech Advances in Asia
While investors have been bullish on the tech scene in Asia for some time, a slew of new reports appeared this month. TechCrunch recently reported that in 2015 and the first half of 2016, fintech accounted for 21% of all VC funding in Southeast Asia. In a recent blog post, Trulioo (F15) said that fintech startups in Asia garnered $4.5 billion in 2015, triple what European fintech firms received during the same period. Recent developments include:

It’s no coincidence that Finovate is returning to Asia now to bring the innovators together in one place. Join us November 8, 2017, in Hong Kong for FinovateAsia 2016 as we showcase the latest and greatest.

Blockchain Developer, UNICEF Wants YOU!
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund is looking for a developer interested in using blockchain technology to help “solve the problems of the developing world.” Interested parties can find out more about the position here. And if the combination of blockchain and the developing world sounds familiar, it may be because you’re thinking of recent Finovate Best of Show winner BanQu (F16) which has developed a blockchain-based identity platform that promotes financial inclusion and empowerment among the underbanked, including refugee populations.

Hello, It’s Me: Voice Auth Comes to Barclays
Barclays adds instant voice authentication for all 12 million retail customers, ending 30 years of maneuvering through tedious telephone prompts and redundant authentication questions. – Bank Innovations

Everbank’s Awesome Exit
1990s digital banking pioneer Everbank exits for $2.5 billion in sale to TIAA. After PayPal (F12), this is the most successful fintech company to come out of the original 1990s dot-com era. – PYMNTS.com

Mastercard on the Move
Early Warning’s clearXchange saw some growth as of late. Mastercard, which announced this week that its Mastercard Send U.S. debit cardholders can send and receive money through the clearXchange network. Fiserv (F16) will also become a distribution partner for clearXchange, leveraging the partnership to provide a turnkey solution for banks.

Speaking of Mastercard, the company is looking at the newly announced partnership between PayPal and Visa (FD14), with an eye toward striking a similar deal. Finextra talked with Mastercard CEO Singh Banga who said it will be “important for Mastercard to provide something in addition to what Visa’s offered” as Mastercard “doesn’t have as much to offer PayPal” as Visa did because it has fewer consumers.

Azimo Goes Social
London-based Azimo (F13) took a step toward facilitating P2P payments by launching money transfers via Facebook Messenger. Interestingly, the transfer is initiated within the Azimo app (via Facebook integration) and completed in Facebook Messenger.

Insurance for Everything
Insurance startup investors are betting big that the smartphone platform allows a new breed of insurance products to flourish, so-called insurance on demand. The classic example is an alert when arriving at the airport asking if you would like to buy travel insurance. But the bigger market automobile/motorcycle policies are offering coverage only when you are using the vehicle. Our Insurance for Everything example of the week? On-demand insurance for your drone courtesy of Verifly. – Techcrunch

Also keeping our eyes on …

  • On August 2, 2016, Bitcoin dropped 20% after $70M worth of bitcoin (around 12,000 BTC) was stolen from Bitfinex exchange. The company is now offering a reward of up to $3.6 million for the recovery of the digital currency. Bitfinex said it has taken “significant steps” to improve its security, and resumed trading on its platform on Thursday, August 10. – TechCrunch
  • The U.K.’s FCA has granted app-only bank Mondo a banking license, thereby joining the ranks of neobanks Atom Bank, Tandem, and Starling. – The Financial Times
  • “An Interview with the Inventor of the Credit Card Chip Reader” – The New Yorker
  • “The Dawn of the Virtual Assistant” – The New York Times

Parentheticals after a company name refer to the year of their most recent Finovate or FinDEVr conference appearance (F = Finovate, FD = FinDEVr).