Privakey, bleu Join IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator’s 2020 Class

A pair of Finovate alums – Privakey and bleu – have earned spots in the 2020 class of the IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator. The program, launched this June, is dedicated to supporting innovative startups in both the fintech and healthtech industries. A total of 15 companies from nine countries were selected for the Accelerator’s incoming class.

Each participating startup will get up to $120,000 in IBM Cloud credits, an in-person workshop in the U.S., technical and business mentorship, and business value design assistance, as well as access to IBM’s network of partners, customers, and stakeholders. Startups will also work with program collaborators such as IBM Alpha Zone, Queen City Fintech, and MEDICI.

The IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator added that it will use IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services powered by LinuxONE to ensure program startups have “the highest level of security, uptime, availability” as they innovate and scale their solutions.

Privakey demonstrated its cloud-based, identity and authentication service at FinovateFall 2017. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Privakey began the year with the release of the latest version of its Privakey CX solution. Last month, the company launched its PSD2 Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) solution.

“Our PSD2 compliant solution is designed to eliminate what merchants fear most about SCA – shopping cart abandonment,” Privakey CEO Charlie Durkin said. “The customer experiences a transaction flow that is intuitive, simple, consistent, and contextual. Privakey eliminates out-of-band codes and other inconvenient authentication methods typically associated with SCA.”

Making its Finovate debut at FinovateFall 2015, bleu leverages low energy Bluetooth beacons to facilitate mobile transactions. A small wireless device sends a Bluetooth signal to a customer’s Bleu app when they enter a store. The beacon links the customer with the store and when the customer is ready to pay, they choose their preferred method of payment to automatically complete the transaction.

The Los Angeles, California-based company was founded in 2014. Sesie Bonsi is CEO.

Along with Privakey and bleu, the rest of the cohort is below:

  • Azaad Health (healthtech – Pakistan)
  • BioTrillion (healthtech – U.S.)
  • Cube Wealth (fintech – India)
  • encore (fintech – U.A.E./Pakistan)
  • Fostrum (fintech – Canada)
  • Galen Data (healthtech – U.S.)
  • Home Lending Pal (mortgagetech – U.S.)
  • MotionsCloud (insurtech – German)
  • My Allergy (healthtech – U.K.)
  • px pulse (healthtech – U.S./Pakistan)
  • Verge.Capital (fintech – Ireland)
  • Wayapay (fintech – Kenya)
  • Well Kept Beauty (healthtech – U.S.)

The startups selected for the Class of 2020 were chosen by an expert panel of peers from IBM and Queen City Fintech. The criteria used by the panelists included team, value proposition, mission, problem statement, vision, target market, business and economic model, and technical roadmap.

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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 Debuts: bleu Unveils its Beacon-powered Point-of-Sale Solution


The bleu network leverages Bluetooth low-energy beacons to facilitate mobile transactions.

Bleu founder and CEO Sesie Bonsi built his solution around Bluetooth technology because of the way it can move payment data over long distances and ranges. “You can create different experiences and use-cases,” he said. “From a nearby transaction at a fast, casual restaurant terminal to reaching a terminal in a fancier restaurant that may be several meters away.”


Bleu CEO and co-founder Sesie Bonsi demonstrated his Point of Sale Network at FinovateFall 2015.

Bleu’s network is organized around Bonsi’s idea of the “payment experience.” He points to four features that embody this idea:

  • the ability to use any payment form available; “pure payment-type agnostic,” Bonsi says.
  • the ability to make both prepaid and in-store payments
  • the ability to process payments from any processor in the United States as well as 32 other countries (“pure payment-processor agnostic, as well”)
  • the ability to deliver in-store analytics and intelligent payment data to the merchant

In their demo at FinovateFall 2015, Bonsi and Brett Howell, bleu’s VP of business development, showed a pair of use-cases: a “prepaid” transaction combining an online payment with a beacon payment, and an “in-store” transaction using only the Bluetooth beacon technology.

Company facts:

  • founded in October 2014
  • headquartered in Los Angeles, California
  • Sesie Bonsi is CEO

How it works

Bonsi demonstrated bleu using the PowaPOS T25 platform, providing an “out of the box, plug-and-play POS solution” for merchants. The platform is EMV-ready and features a handheld scanner, integrated thermal printer, and Bluetooth smart-beacon. The beacon is a small wireless device that sends a low-energy Bluetooth signal to the user’s bleu app when a store is entered.


For the consumer, both iOS and Android bleu apps are available for smartphones and tablets. The app can also be accessed via NFC over the payment beacon itself. Consumers can download the app, choose their preferred payment type, and begin searching for nearby businesses in bleu’s network. For security, payment data is tokenized so that no personally identifiable information is stored on the app or device.


Consumers browsing through merchants on bleu’s network see a complete mobile storefront with photos and background on the business, and can access reviews from friends and colleagues in their contacts or friends lists.


Bleu supports both prepaid orders (orders placed outside of beacon range), as well as in-store transactions. A customer can order coffee and a pastry from their favorite cafe, be alerted that the order was received and, thanks to the beacon, have their order moved to the top of the queue when they come near the cafe.


In-store payments are just as easy. When it comes time to pay, the person operating the point-of-sale terminal uses bleu’s payment beacon to identify and match the transaction with the customer. Bleu sends the customer a payment request through the beacon to their mobile device.


The customer can add a tip, and pay the bill after authenticating with a fingerprint. Then the customer can send the payment back through the beacon to the merchant’s point of sale.

Bleu also provides merchants with in-store analytics and purchase-data transacted over the network. “We can unlock intelligent payment data about average wait times, menu items, customer demographics and a whole host of other valuable information, instead of just swiping a card,” Bonsi explained.

The future

Bleu is actively raising capital—”funding the revolution” as Bonsi calls it—by seeking investors who see the payment/processor/location-agnostic technology the same way he does, as a”fundamental shift in the entire payment process from start to finish.”

Right now, Bonsi says the technology is an ideal point-of-sale solution for high-volume franchise merchants and enterprises because of its ability to increase transaction speed. He added that non-financial institutions, such as colleges, have also expressed interest in the technology as a way to process students faster and more efficiently at the beginning of the semester.

Bonsai sees a role for bleu in everything from mobile payments to the internet of things. “The bleu network is going to be a core asset in the future of a connected body, home, city, business and industry,” he said. “We envision the bleu network changing the entire payment experience and creating a new platform for mobile transactions.”

Check out the live demonstration video from bleu.

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

Bleu Introduces its PoS Network to Help Speed the Transaction Process for Consumers

BleuThis post is part of our live coverage of FinovateFall 2015.

The team for Bleu is up next, demonstrating its Point of Sale Network solution.

Bleu facilitates mobile transactions by using Bluetooth low-energy beacons in our PoS Network. A beacon is a tiny wireless device that sends a Bluetooth signal to a customer’s Bleu app when they enter a store. The beacon connects the customer to the store and when the customer is ready to pay, they select their form of payment and the transaction is automatically completed. Bleu has patented a mobile transaction process using Bluetooth low-energy beacons, and has developed a proprietary mobile point-of-sale and consumer application. This fully integrated solution conducts transactions from any registered payment instrument.

Presenters: bleu CEO Sesie Bonsi and Brett Howell, VP, business development



Product launch: September 2015
Product distribution strategy: Direct to consumer (B2C); direct to business (B2B); through financial institutions; through other fintech companies and platforms

HQ: Los Angeles, California
Founded: October 2014

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Bleu


The Sneak Peek series looks at the innovators demoing live on stage at FinovateFall 2015. Be sure to pick up your tickets to our annual autumn conference, and we’ll see you in New York!

BleuLogoBleu facilitates mobile transactions utilizing Bluetooth low-energy beacons. Bleu has developed a proprietary mobile point-of-sale and consumer application.


  • Supports any payment type
  • Can process a transaction up to 250 feet away from the terminal
  • Uses Bluetooth low-energy beacons

Why it’s great
This first-time-ever revolutionary solution moves payment over Bluetooth supported on any iOS or android device.


Sesie Bonsi, President and CEO
Graduate of Pepperdine School of Law and founder of Bleu, Bonsi is dedicated to using his background and knowledge in the areas of mobile payment and infrastructure to transform financial technology.

BleuPresenter2Brett Howell, Senior VP Business Development
A graduate of Auburn University, Howell has more than 10 years’ experience in multiple business environments from a small-family business to a multinational corporation.



Finovate Alumni News


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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.