Finovate Alums Take Top Honors at Lendit Fintech Awards

Lendit Fintech announced the winners of its fourth annual Lendit Finitech Industry Awards this week. And out of the 500+ entries competing for awards in 13 different categories, Finovate alums left the stage with nearly half of them.

Taking the highest honor as Fintech Innovator of the Year was Stash. The New York-based mobile-first investment platform made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall 2017, demonstrating its Stash Retire solution. This year marks the second year in a row that Stash has picked up Lendit’s top prize in this category. Fellow Finovate alum Marqeta was among the category’s finalists.

Also winning award categories were:

  • Plaid for Innovations in Digital Banking
  • Urjanet and Equifax for Most Promising Partnership
  • Visa for Top Service Provider
  • Blend for Top Technology Service Provider.
  • CircleUp for Top Small Business Lending Platform

“Our purpose at Lendit Fintech is to elevate and celebrate the achievements of others,” co-founder and CEO of Lendit Fintech Bo Brustkern explained in a statement. “This year has been a hard year for many bank and fintechs, and the many enterprises that support them. Now more than ever we need a reason to come together – even if it’s virtually – to recognize and applaud excellence in these circumstances.”

Other companies earning awards were Upstart for Top Consumer Lending Platform, PeerStreet for Top Real Estate Platform, BlockFi for Emerging Lending Platform of the Year, Orrick for Top Law Firm, and Branch for Excellence in Financial Inclusion. Two individuals were also recognized: Colin Walsh, founder and CEO of Varo Money, as Executive of the Year and Nicky Goulimis, COO and co-founder of Nova Credit, as Fintech Woman of the Year.

A number of other Finovate alums earned finalist spots in this year’s competition. Both Lending Club and SoFi competed as finalists in the Consumer Lending Platform category. And BlueVine provided a strong Finovate alum showing in the Small Business Lending Platform group.

Credit is also due to Finovate alum Mambu as a finalist (along with Stash) in the Innovations in Digital Banking category, and to both Finicity and Ocrolus, which competed in the finals of the Top Technology Service Provider category.


Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Blend Expands with More Consumer Banking Tools

Digital lending platform Blend announced this week it is moving beyond the realm of mortgagetech, broadening its focus to a wider array of consumer banking tools.

The San Francisco-based company now offers a new set of configuration capabilities that help banks dynamically respond to changing consumer needs by going to market faster with new products. New capabilities include out-of-the-box offerings for credit cards, personal loans, auto and specialty vehicle loans, home equity, and deposit accounts. Three of those products– personal loans, credit cards, and specialty vehicles– are new for Blend.

This news comes shortly after the company closed a $75 million round of funding, boosting its valuation to $1.7 billion.

“We want to enable banks and financial institutions to be there as trusted advisors for every financial milestone and to keep up with constantly changing consumer expectations and market dynamics. Blend will help lenders deliver the right product at the right time and with no friction,” said Nima Ghamsari, co-founder and CEO of Blend. “With our unified platform, our partners are able to accelerate digital innovation across every line of business.”

Blend’s no-code platform provides banks with a component library, product templates, no-code drag-and-drop workflows, integrated data services, and control over design elements. The added capabilities will help banks meet the needs of their consumers– from opening a new account to applying for a loan.

The out-of-the-box nature of Blend’s products was key for M&T Bank, which needed a quick-to-market solution for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. “We needed to help them process more loans in a few hours… than we had done in a full year,” said Chris Kay, executive vice president of Consumer Banking, Business Banking and Marketing. “By partnering with Blend, we were able to move quickly and be there for our customers when they needed it the most — spinning up a new digital product to process these loans in just 72 hours. Thanks in large part to Blend’s platform, 100 percent of our customers were able to receive the essential funds that could help their businesses survive.”

Blend’s Digital Lending Platform is used by M&T Bank, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and 250+ other financial services companies. Founded in 2012, the company helps these banks process more than $3.5 billion in mortgages and consumer loans each day.


Photo by BENCE BOROS on Unsplash

Blend Boosts Valuation to $1.7 Billion After New Funding Round

Mortgagetech has historically been one of the last sectors of fintech to see innovation. However, with digitization en vogue because of COVID-19, there has been an uptick in interest in companies looking to make closing on a home mortgage easier.

As evidence, U.S.-based Blend is gaining attention today for a fresh round of funding and a new valuation. The company landed $75 million in Series F funding, bringing its total raised to $365 million and increasing its valuation to almost $1.7 billion.

The round was led by Canapi Ventures. Existing investors Temasek, General Atlantic, 8VC, Greylock, and Emergence also participated.

“Financial institutions have traditionally taken time to modernize legacy systems, but digital is now table stakes. Shelter in place and social distancing mandates have forced banks and other lenders to accelerate digital transformation plans from years to months,” said Jeffrey Reitman, a partner at Canapi Ventures. “Blend is at the forefront of this innovation, offering flexible digital solutions to help lenders like Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Truist, M&T Bank, and other key regional banking institutions meet their accelerated timelines and their customers’ changing needs.”

Blend, a banking-as-a-service company that aims to create a “less stressful, more accessible lending experience,” will use the funds to expand its products and broaden its strategy. Specifically, Blend will likely bolster the consumer banking and auto loans offerings it launched late last year.

“Our goal is to deliver software that gives lenders the flexibility to meet the evolving needs of consumers,” said Marc Greenberg, head of finance at Blend. “We’re committed to being the digital layer that enables millions of people to gain access to the capital they need, while helping our customers be there as trusted advisors for every milestone in a consumer’s financial journey.”

Among Blend’s new launches this year are a digital closing solution for mortgages and home equity loans, a mobile app for loan officers, and new reporting tools for lenders. Since the start of 2020, Blend has brought on 130+ new employees and helped its bank clients process more than $771 billion in consumer loans– over $3.5 billion each day.


Photo by Irina Murza on Unsplash

Blend Integrates with Mortgage Credit Specialist Avantus

Hot on the heels of the launch of its “one tap” mortgage preappoval solution, mortgagetech innovator Blend is back in the fintech headlines with news of its partnership with Avantus. The integration will enable mortgage borrowers using Blend’s digital lending platform to access Avantus’ Tri-Merge credit reports.

“Blend has helped many Avantus clients create a more streamlined end-to-end lending solution, with impressive results,” Avantus president Louis Capobianco said. “We’re excited to be part of the Blend platform and look forward to working on our shared goal of helping lenders close more loans.”

Headquartered in West Haven, Connecticut, Avantus provides customized mortgage credit reports and related services that enable loan originators, credit unions, banks, and lenders to streamline and accelerate the approval process, as well as keep costs low. With more than 75 years of experience in analyzing consumer data, the company announced a partnership with digital mortgage platform ARIVE earlier this month that will bring its customized credit reports to a broader range of independent mortgage brokers and wholesale lenders.

“We’re pleased to add Avantus to our platform, expanding options for lenders pulling credit within Blend, and further strengthening and optimizing the consumer’s mortgage experience,” Blend’s Head of Business Development Brian Martin said. “Partnering with Avantus will support our mission to continue to deliver a best-in-class lending experience for consumers and lenders.”

Founded in 2012 and based in San Francisco, California, Blend demonstrated its “Data-Driven Mortgage” solution at FinovateSpring 2016. The company is also an alum of our developers conference, presenting its technology at FinDEVrSiliconValley 2016.

Named one of the best places to work by Inc.com, Blend launched a deposit account in April that enabled its customers to improve the digital account opening experience on both mobile and desktop. Mountain America Credit Union, which deployed the product in one month, now has 53% of its applications arrive via a mobile channel that had not been previously available for deposits. The credit union also reported a 45% decrease in account opening times.

Also this spring, Blend announced a partnership with FGMC’s direct-to-consumer division, Goodmortgage, helping the Plano, Texas-based lender develop a “simpler and more sophisticated online mortgage process.”

In July, Blend locked in an investment of $130 million in a round led by Temasek and General Atlantic. The funding took the company’s total to $290 million.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Blend Integrates with Mortgage Credit Specialist Avantus.

Around the web

  • Recognise Financial Services to deploy nCino’s Bank Operating System.
  • NCR announces plans to acquire Midwest POS Solutions.
  • Courtesy of a new partnership with Personetics, Metro Bank launches its Business Insights solution for business customers.
  • Revolut teams up with Bottomline, enabling real-time payment services to its retail and business customers in the U.K.
  • As part of a new initiative, open banking specialist NDGIT to bring its PSD2 Compliance APIs to Switzerland.
  • 3E Software’s Teslar Software adds Pendleton Community Bank to list of clients.
  • Overbond, FI.SPAN, and Finn.AI among 12 Canadian fintech startups chosen for U.K. trade mission.
  • CardFlight’s SwipeSimple terminal available on PAX A80.

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.

Blend Raises $130 Million in Series E

In a round led by Temasek and General Atlantic, digital lending technology innovator Blend has raised $130 million in new funding. The Series E round boosts the company’s total capital to $310 million and will help power its development of additional consumer lending solutions as Blend pursues what it calls “a one-tap lending future.”

Also participating in the round were existing investors 8VC, Founders Fund, Greylock Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Blend also announced that former Pixar CFO Ann Mather will join the company as an independent board member.

“Together with our partners, we’ve made significant strides in transforming lending experiences for consumers and institutions across the country,” Blend founder and CEO Nima Ghamsari said. “As we build toward a more transparent and frictionless future where lending transactions happen in one tap, we’re grateful to have the experience of Ann (Mather), along with the teams at Temasak and General Atlantic, in our corner for this journey.”

Blend’s funding news comes in the wake of the company’s latest product release, a new mobile-first deposit account solution that lenders can offer to loan applicants. The solution helps lenders build loyalty and convert mortgage customers into account holders, and integrates seamlessly into other Blend workflows, core banking, and CRM systems.

Speaking for Mountain America Credit Union, which partnered with Blend last spring, SVP Kelly Albiston highlighted the upsides of committing to Blend’s technology: “By partnering with them on multiple products, including deposit opening, we are providing a consistent and streamlined experience for our members across the board and taking friction out of the process,” Albiston said. Utah-based Mountain America CU has $8.5 billion in assets, and is the 12th largest credit union by membership in the United States with more than 740,000 members.

Blend demonstrated its Data-Driven Mortgage at FinovateSpring 2016. The company also participated in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley, later that year. Founded in 2012, the company offers a digital lending platform for mortgage and home equity lending that reduces loan cycle times by as much as 50%. Blend has spent much of this year launching new products – including digital HELOC and HELOAN offerings – as well as expanding its partnership with Salesforce. The company currently processes almost $2 billion in U.S. mortgages daily, supports more than 150 lender clients, and has grown its customer base by 3x from 2017 to 2018.

Blend was named one of the best places to work by Inc. earlier this year, and was honored with a spot in the Forbes Fintech 50, as well. Also this year, the company added former Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos as President. Blend is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Blend Raises $130 Million in Series E.

Around the web

  • OneSpan wins SIIA CODiE Award for Best Fintech Solution for its Intelligent Adaptive Authentication technology.
  • Endor secures $100,000 contract to pilot its data analytics platform with MetLife Korea after winning first price at insurtech incubator Collab 5.0.
  • Passport’s parking app now available at Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges.
  • Biometric Signature ID’s BioTect-ID gesture recognition platform has users draw their password.
  • Expensify becomes first fintech company to win a Cannes Lion for its Expensify This marketing campaign including a rap song featuring 2 Chainz and Adam Scott.

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

  • Holvi Expands to Five New European Markets.
  • Artivest Inks Deal with Institutional Investment Manager LaSalle.
  • BioCatch Brings on New Chief Revenue Officer.
  • Yseop Pairs Up with Larsen & Toubro Infotech.

Around the web

  • Inc. names Blend, Kabbage, Lendio, Plaid, Pendo, Signifyd, and Ripple among the best places to work.
  • Alt Coin Magazine interviews Steven Parker, Crypterium CEO.
  • Interactions‘ IVA was named the top virtual assistant in Speech Technology Magazine’s 2019 People’s Choice Awards.
  • Salt Edge Open Banking API now supports eIDAS PSD2 certificates.
  • NIIT Technologies launches Cognitive Service Desk Audit, a tool to help applications understand and interpret user needs through natural communication.

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 Alums Shine in 2019 Forbes Fintech 50 Roster

A baker’s dozen of Finovate alums has been honored this week with spots on the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50, an annual aggregation of what the editors called “the most innovative companies in fintech.”

Here are the Finovate alums that made the cut. Read the full list.

“Recognition as a leading innovator in fintech is tremendous validation for the hard work we’ve done at Marqeta to open the industry up to the possibilities and opportunities of modern card issuing,” company CEO and founder Jason Gardner said. Marqeta is among the 20 companies to make its first appearance on the Forbes Fintech 50 roster.

Also earning their first appearances on Forbes Fintech 50 roster are New York based mobile investment platform Stash and San Francisco supply chain payments innovator Tradeshift.

“Very excited to be included in the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50!,” Stash tweeted once the news was released at the start of the week, “Monday = made.”

“We made the list!” Tradeshift tweeted this morning.

Summarizing this year’s selection of top fintechs, the editors noted that while 19 out of the 50 fintechs featured are unicorns with valuations of more than $1 billion, a nearly equal amount – 20 startups – are making their first showing on Forbes top fintech list. The two areas where newcomers were more prevalent, according to the editors, were payments technology and startups serving the un- and underbanked.

Blend Launches Insurance Agency

Mortgagetech company Blend is venturing into insurance. The San Francisco-based company launched Blend Insurance Agency, an extension of its digital mortgage platform that offers borrowers a range of options for homeowners insurance.

Homeowners insurance is required to be in place before the borrower closes on their home, and since Blend already has data about the home, borrower, and loan on file, the company is in a unique position to offer a streamlined application process. Blend said that offering insurance felt like a “natural extension” of its mission to bring transparency into the home buying process.

“We see our new insurance agency as an exciting step forward to further remove friction from the home buying process and improve customer satisfaction. We believe it will be better for our lenders, their borrowers, and the insurance providers we work with and will help to make the process of buying a home a little less daunting,” said Greg Isaacs, an insurtech expert Blend hired earlier this year to launch Blend Insurance Agency.

To support this new offering, Blend is building an office in Los Angeles that will be staffed with insurance professionals able to help borrowers find a product that fits their needs. At launch, the company has partnered with six U.S. insurance providers, including MetLife, Stillwater Insurance, and Swyfft, with plans to add more. The insurance option is presented to the borrower early on in the home buying process to offer them plenty of time to shop and to give loan processors time to verify insurance before closing the loan. Having more time on the front-end of the process helps the loan close faster.

Blend demoed its data-driven mortgage at FinovateSpring 2016. Earlier this year, Blend teamed up with Ellie Mae to leverage Ellie Mae’s electronic disclosure delivery. And in June, the company introduced Blend Vision, an advanced OCR solution with built-in quality control. Blend’s most recent round of funding brought its total capital to more than $160 million. Nima Ghamsari is CEO and co-founder.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Wonga Raises $13 Million in New Funding.
  • TransUnion Teams Up with EXL for CECL Compliance.
  • RightCapital Adds Student Loan Functionality to its Platform.

Around the web

  • PasswordPing wins Startup of the Year at 13th Annual 2018 IT World Awards. See PasswordPing at FinovateFall in New York next month.
  • Zopa to finance loans for CommuterClub season tickets, courtesy of a new partnership.
  • Xero announces integration with GoCardless.
  • PYMNTS.com profiles payroll, benefits, and HR platform, Gusto.
  • MicroStrategy appoints Marge Breya as Chief Marketing 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.

Mortgagetech Magnates Ellie Mae and Blend Team Up

Mortgagetech company Blend and mortgage finance platform provider Ellie Mae have joined forces this week, as reported by American Banker. Through the partnership, Blend is leveraging Ellie Mae’s electronic disclosure delivery, a part of the company’s Encompass mortgage solution.

The integration will augment Blend’s self-service mortgage platform by offering a more seamless user experience. Lenders who use Ellie Mae’s Encompass loan origination solution can create and deliver electronic disclosures through Ellie Mae’s document preparation software. The electronic delivery will not only facilitate the e-signature process, it will also enhance compliance by leaving an audit trail.

Ellie Mae’s Encompass mortgage solution helps lenders originate more loans with lower origination costs and a faster time to close. Using the full Encompass solution, Ellie Mae helps lenders save an average of $967 per loan in operational improvements, such as saving time and postage from having to deliver disclosures via snail mail. Blend estimates its integration of Ellie Mae’s electronic disclosure delivery will save an average of $15 per loan.

Earlier this spring, Pacific Union Financial partnered with Ellie Mae to leverage the full Encompass mortgage management solution, enabling customers of both Pacific Union and Ellie Mae to deliver loan data and documents from Encompass to Pacific Union more efficiently and in real time.

Founded in 1997, Ellie Mae demonstrated Encompass Consumer Connect at FinovateSpring 2017. The online lead generation tool turns consumer interest into a mortgage application by letting the borrower complete an application, provide and receive information, and order services from a single platform. During the demo, presenter Jonas Moe, SVP of Market Strategy, demonstrated the company’s API by showing off an Alexa integration with Encompass Plus– asking questions such as, “What loans have rate lock expirations this week?” and “Search for a better rate.” Ellie Mae is headquartered in California. Jonathan Corr is president and CEO.

Blend demoed its data-driven mortgage at FinovateSpring 2016. The company was recently recognized for its achievements in the mortgage industry at the MBA Insights Tech All-Star Awards and was also featured on the Forbes Fintech 50 list. Last summer, Blend pulled in a $100 Series D investment from Greylock, Emergence Capital, Lightspeed Ventures, Nyca Partners, and 8VC, bringing its total capital to more than $160 million.