How Fintech is Disrupting the Modern Workplace

From the way payroll and benefits are administered to the nature of work itself, fintech innovation is helping build the 21st century workplace.

Will “pay day” be a thing of the past? How long until companies across the country are competing on the basis of their ability to help you pay off your student loans?

Technology has done much to change the nature of work in recent years. The same can be said for specific areas like financial technology. Here’s a look at how fintech innovations are making their own contributions to the 21st century “office”.

Getting Paid

Many of us work because we enjoy what we do. But whether you consider getting paid a top priority or just a perk, who wouldn’t love the flexibility of being able to get income when you need the money most – rather than on an arbitrary, twice a month schedule?

Companies like Gusto are among those making this possibility a reality. This summer, the payroll, benefits, and HR technology company introduced Flexible Pay, a new solution that enables employees to get paid on a date other than their employer’s standard pay date. Calling bi-weekly pay schedules a “relic” of the days when payroll taxes were calculated manually, Gusto co-founder and CEO Joshua Reeves has set out to prove that “with modern technology, employees shouldn’t have to wait weeks to get paid.”

The New Workspace

Even the word “telecommute” sounds more like something from a bygone time rather than the way a growing number of Americans are “going to work”. But the reality of remote employment for a growing number of people is here and fintech companies have both encouraged and participated in this trend. “Millennials simply don’t feel they need to be in the office, or at their desk, to get a job done — especially since the evolution of technology has made portability very possible,” Demetrios Gianniris, a director at MG Engineering, wrote for Forbes.com earlier this year in a post called The Millennial Arrival and the Evolution of the Modern Workplace.

To this end, innovations in mobile technology and messaging (consider Eltropy’s innovations in providing secure, compliant communications via popular messaging apps) have helped accelerate the revolution in remote work. There are also fintechs removing friction from some of the more mundane aspects of working outside the office. Expensify, for example, has partnered with Uber to make it easier for workers who use the ride-sharing service to separate business from personal expenses. And speaking of expenses, the tools offered by companies like Ondot empower workers to make necessary purchases while ensuring control and accountability for managers and employers.

Doing the Work

The flip side of the convenience that technologies like chatbots and IVR provide is that, for a growing number of financial professionals, these technologies are virtually co-workers. As machine learning and AI become increasingly commonplace, workers are more likely to rely on interacting with processes than communicating with people when it comes to getting their daily tasks done.

For financial advisors, fintechs are developing a wide variety of tools to make it easier for them to communicate with customers, and build highly personalized investment portfolios and financial plans. Onist, which announced a partnership with Quovo this summer, enables financial advisors to set up a virtual family office to facilitate collaboration between advisors and clients.

Technology also promises to make it easier for workers to leverage the work of other workers more effectively. One of the key insights of New York-based WorkFusion was the way a combination of machine learning and crowdsourcing of human talent could enable smaller businesses to “punch above their weight” when it comes to managing data. The company has since leveraged this technology to produce the first integrated RPA (robot process automation) and cognitive automation platform: Smart Process Automation (SPA) currently deployed in verticals including financial services, healthcare, and insurance.

Managing the Gains

Fintechs are in the lead when it comes to helping workers make better financial decisions. A firm like DoubleNet Pay helps employees manage cash flow by automating their billpay and savings obligations and coordinating payouts around paydays. Wealthucate, a financial wellness specialist out of San Jose, California, provides an automated financial wellness program that helps businesses enhance their own offerings. Wealthucate’s solution leverages gamification and personalization to increase the participation rate in benefit programs and help companies better explain their benefit offerings.

Among the more interesting ways that fintechs are helping workers manage their money is the approach by Student Loan Genius. This company enlists employers in the fight to help Millennial workers in particular pay off their student loans while simultaneously investing in their own employer-based retirement plan as soon as possible.

Fintech and the Work of the Future

It may be only a matter of time before we are able to watch the real-time flow of micropayments into our accounts or a be a part of a workforce in which most of us have both a robot supervisor and a robot subordinate. In any event, it is clear that whatever innovations the workplace of the future holds, fintech companies will be very much a part of making them happen.

Top image designed by Freepik

Bento for Business Raises $9 Million in New Funding

In a round led by Edison Partners and featuring participation from current investor Comcast Ventures and new investor MissionOG, Bento for Business has raised $9 million in funding. The financial management solutions provider will use the capital to bolster its marketing and engineering efforts with new hires, and to expand the Bento for Business platform across payments, spend management, and business banking.

“Time and again, research says that poorly managed business spend is the single largest threat to the profits of small and midsize businesses in the U.S.,” Bento for Business founder and CEO Farhan Ahmad explained. “We solve this problem and bring our customers an intelligent financial management solution that stops unauthorized spending before it happens.”

The funding nearly doubles Bento for Business’ total capital to $18.5 million.

Bento for Business provides SME owners with a card-based digital spending management solution that enables employers to prevent unauthorized expenditures by controlling when, where, and how much their employees spend at the point of sale. The platform stops unapproved business spend before the purchase, saving time and money on returns and cancellations. The technology also has features like receipt upload and the ability to automatically sync Bento with popular accounting systems like Quickbooks to reduce the need for expense reports.

The company’s solutions include expense cards, API virtual cards, and ghost cards. Bento’s tiered levels of service range from a free program that supports up to two cards to its enterprise level offering with unlimited cards for $149 a month. Bento does not charge a setup fee and all paid programs (Team, Professional, and Enterprise) come with free, 60-day trials.

Bento for Business demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2015. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the company was featured in Inc.com’s article 7 Cool Productivity Tools You Probably Haven’t Heard Of last month. Bento’s technology was also highlighted in CardRates.com in March, the same month the company launched its Business Fraud Risk Calculator. The calculator is a two-minute diagnostic test that identifies potential fraud risk factors at small businesses by asking questions about expense policies, receipt handling, and accounting systems.

In February, Finovate founder Jim Bruene featured Bento in his look at startup challenger banks with a small business focus. Last fall, the company unveiled a suite of new solutions, opened up its APIs, and announced a partnership with The Bancorp.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Bento for Business Raises $9 Million in New Funding.
  • Sensory’s Biometric Technology Now Powers Security for 24 Banking Apps.
  • DefenseStorm Selected by NAFCU as Preferred Cloud-Based Cybersecurity Partner

Around the web

  • Coventry Building Society to deploy Temenos T24 core banking platform for savings and mortgage servicing.
  • Finastra partners with Indonesian data center to bring IFRS 9 compliance capabilities to regional and medium-sized FIs in the country.
  • Akamai Technologies named a leader in Web Application Firewalls in The Forrester Wave’s Q2 2018 evaluation.
  • Payoneer partners with the Republic of Estonia’s e-Residency program to make cross-border payments easier for e-residents in India.
  • Twilio introduces a new developer-first, API-first partner program, Twilio Build.
  • Ping Identity forges strategic partnership with enterprise identity governance company, SailPoint Technologies.
  • Coinbase CEO follows Ripple’s lead on philanthropy.
  • Quadient teams with Quertum for software distribution in the Nordics and U.K.

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.

Startup Challenger Banks with Small Business Focus

UK challenger, OakNorth become a financial services “unicorn” in its Nov. 2017 funding round

In the digital age, few startup banks have gained meaningful market share in what matters, revenue and profits. In the United States, only two large bank-like companies (see note 1) have emerged from 20 years of digital disruption: PayPal and Square.  There are also a handful of new online lenders that have amassed significant scale (SoFi, Lending Club, Prosper, Kabbage, Avant, On Deck).

There are still zero consumer banks started in the past 20 years that have broken the top-100 list. The possible exception was ING Direct. But as part of a large bank, it’s a stretch to call it a startup (see note 2). BofI Holdings, the public company that owns Bank of Internet, is the largest pure digital bank with $8B in assets and ranking 151 in this list posted by MX.

Why so few successes? It’s difficult for a startup bank to gain scale. First, the market is absolutely saturated. Every bankable consumer in the USA can choose from: (1) big trusted brands with a large branch networks and sophisticated digital services; (2) small community banks with deep ties to their communities (and serviceable digital banking); (3) or equally small non-profit credit unions providing bargain priced loans and deposits (and often with above average digital banking).

Second, to be successful, startups must solve a problem much better than the incumbents. For most consumers banking digitally simply is not a problem. The exceptions were in remote payments, which PayPal solved, and micro-businesses merchant accounts, which Square solved. That’s why it will likely continue to be tough for new deposit-focused banks to become big players, at least in the United States.

But there are many niches for banking startups to mine and one of the most promising is small business banking. A startup bank that solves bookkeeping and financial management problems for small businesses can be the next Square.

Here are some of the bigger efforts around the world (note 3):

UK

USA

Germany

Rest of world

  • Holvi – Finland, acquired by BBVA March 2016, Finovate alum
  • Tochka – Russia

Author: Jim Bruene (@netbanker) is Founder & Advisor at Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Certified, a financial services user-experience accreditation program. 


Notes:

  1. You can argue they are not banks, but they provide key consumer banking services, payments and credit, so I’m going to call them banks for the purposes of this post. I’m also excluding the crypto market, since it’s too soon to call the major players “bank like” though I think they are well on that path.
  2. I would probably add ING Direct to this list. Although they were technically not a startup, they built a significant deposit business from scratch, eventually selling for $9B to Capital One during the Great Recession.
  3. To make this list, the startup bank must be solely focused on small businesses and must offer, or plan to offer, a debit card to access funds held on deposit at the startup.

Bento for Business Introduces New Solutions, Partners, and APIs

US-based expense management solution provider Bento for Business has onboarded new partners and expanded its product line, reports Tanya Andreasyan of Banking Technology (Finovate’s sister publication).

Bento now offers debit and virtual cards for companies and their employees. Its banking solutions are now supported by The Bancorp Bank and CFSB as well as processors Marketa and 12C, the company said, “making it the most robust solution of its kind”.

It has also forged co-branded partnerships with The Brink’s Company and Fleetcor to offer its solution to their small business customers.

Furthermore, Bento has opened its APIs “to simplify how companies work with their clients and customers”.

“We are building a modern banking platform for small businesses that brings everything under one umbrella,” said Farhan Ahmad, CEO of Bento (pictured). “Our approach is unique in this industry because we see value in the platform, rather than a single stand-alone product. By offering multiple products on the same platform and allowing our customers to use our APIs to develop better, more useful, and customisable experiences, we can fully address all of their pain points.

“Soon any business owner will be able to curate and access the financial products, services, and integrations they need through Bento.”

According to Bento, applicants for its services get approved online in real-time.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in San Francisco, Bento for Business demonstrated its platform at FinovateSpring 2015. Last month, the company appointed Jeff Pomeroy as Vice President of Product, and earlier this year, Bento added Lou Friedmann as Chief Revenue Officer. The company has raised more than $9 million in funding, and includes Comcast Ventures and Anthemis Group among its investors.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • With New Funding, Prosper’s Valuation stands at $550 Million.
  • Tuition.io Raises $7 Million in Series B.
  • AutoGravity Teams Up with Hyundai Capital America.

Around the web

  • Infosys Finacle partners with ToneTag to leverage sound wave technology to drive contactless authentications and transactions.
  • PYMNTS interviews Jumio CEO Stephen Stuut on the challenge of combating cybercrime in “real time.”
  • Xero teams up with TradeGecko to help Singapore’s SMEs Go-Digital.
  • Bento for Business appoints Jeff Pomeroy to the role of Vice President of Product.
  • ThreatMetrix Announces Smart Authentication Platform.

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

  • Sandstone Technology Inks Digital Banking Deal with SBS Bank.
  • Financeit Receives New Funding Capacity of $85 Million.

On FinDEVr.com

Around the web

  • Misys adds Synechron to its InFusion Partner Program.
  • Fiserv leverages robo-advisory and automation technology from fellow Finovate alum Trizic to enhance its wealth management solutions.
  • Bento Chief Operations Officer Sean Anderson discusses the future of regtech and the problem of one-size-fits-all compliance programs.
  • The 2017 NSS Labs gives Check Point Software Technologies a ‘Recommended’ rating.
  • Money Marketing features Scalable Capital.
  • City of Memphis to leverage Tuition.io to offer student loan debt reduction program for employees.

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

  • Coinbase Launches Open Source Ethereum Wallet to Promote Financial Inclusion.

Around the web

  • Expensify partners with TravelPerk to make business travel easier.
  • Bento for Business welcomes Lou Friedmann as Chief Revenue Officer.
  • Featurespace’s ARIC platform to power fraud prevention for GoHenry.
  • BBVA and Ripple complete blockchain cross-border money transfer pilot.
  •  Larky to power location-based perks platform for Sharetec’s CU clients.
  • Icon Solutions enhances Instant Payments Framework (IPF) to connect to The Clearing House for US Real-Time Payments.
  • Walletron helps Transactis grow its electronic billing and payments service, BillerIQ.
  • NICE Actimize unveils new, cloud-based, fraud analytics optimization technology, ActimizeWatch.
  • Global financial services firm chooses Mobile Verify and Mobile Fill from Mitek.
  • IBS Sales League recognizes Temenos as “number one best-selling digital and channels solution” worldwide.
  • Algomi teams up with OpenFin to deploy software updates faster.

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

  • Qumram wins “Most Innovative FinTech” at 4th Annual WealthBriefing Swiss Awards for 2017.
  • Jack Henry presents newlly-resdesigned Banno website.
  • Intuit deploys VersaPay ARC for its SME customers and accountant clients.
  • ChartIQ to provide Fidessa with HTML5 charting options. See ChartIQ at FinDEVr New York next month.
  • Temenos acquires long-time partner Rubik Financial for $50 million.
  • Dwolla looks at how Bento used Access API for ACH-powered fund transfer to develop its platform.
  • Clutch recognizes Softjourn as one of the top web and software developers in the Ukraine. Join Softjourn in New York next month for our developer’s conference, FinDEVr.
  • PYMNTS.com features CSI globalVCard on the eve of its global expansion.
  • Credit Karma unveils new free tax preparation service.

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.

Bento For Business Unveils New Mobile App

BentoforBusiness_homepage_August2016

Bento for Business has released its new mobile app. The solution makes it easier for employees to review their business’s debit-card balances, tag and annotate expenses for simpler reporting and reconciliation, as well as attach receipts to individual transactions using the smartphone’s camera. Optimized for use with smartphone rather than tablets, the Bento mobile app is available for free on both iOS and Android.

“Employees rejoice! Bento’s mobile app is here,” Bento for Business wrote in tweeting the news this afternoon. “Check balances on-the-go. Smart #expense #management is here.”

BentoforBusiness_mobileapp_droid

Bento for Business specializes in providing solutions to help small business owners better manage expenses. With its Bento Prepaid MasterCard, the company offers employers a way to empower their employees to make necessary, work-related purchases while ensuring employers have maximum spending visibility and control. Bento also provides businesses with an analytic dashboard that provides a wholistic view of spending, as well as per-card information as to transaction type, location, employee, etc. “We want to work with banks, with service providers,” Bento for Business CEO Farhan Ahmad said during his Finovate demonstration in the spring of 2015, “to curate and build beautiful, simple—and most of all, useful—products that are built just for small businesses.”

Founded in 2014, the San Francisco-based company demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016. Bento for Business picked up a $7 million investment in a Series A round led by Comcast Ventures and featuring the participation of Anthemis Group, Blumberg Capita, and Lionbird. Individual investor Dan Henry, former NetSpend CEO, also participated. Read more about Bento for Business in our Finovate Debuts feature.