Conversational AI Fintech Clinc Raises $52 Million in Series B

In a round featuring participation from Insight Partners, DFJ Growth, Drive Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and other investors, conversational AI innovator Clinc has raised $52 million in new funding. The Series B round brings the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based fintech’s total capital to $60 million.

“We’ve had phenomenal growth and built unbelievable momentum in a very short period of time,” Clinc CEO Jason Mars said. “Now we’re adding more world-class investors to support our growing team as we work to accelerate the pace of innovation and to reshape the conversational AI landscape, one industry at a time.”

Mars, who recently participated in FinovateSpring’s AI Summit Day conversations on AI in financial services, noted that the new investment would help the company add to its team and expand to new, larger offices in Ann Arbor. He also suggested to TechCrunch that this funding, which dwarfs the company’s $6.3 million Series A round from two years ago, could be the firm’s last financing before pursuing an IPO.

Clinc’s technology leverages natural language processing, advanced machine learning, and neural networks to decipher and respond to not just the meaning, but also the context and intent of human speech. In addition to being able to comprehend unstructured speech, the technology’s ability to learn and improve itself with every interaction allows it, for example, to quickly support new languages after being introduced to as few as 500 utterances.

Clinc demonstrated its conversational AI technology at FinovateFall 2016, winning Best of Show honors. Earlier this year, the company proved its technology could be used to provide in-game assistance for gamers, enabling them to communicate with the game using natural language, including slang, without requiring the use of specific commands.

In 2018, Clinc announced that it was expanding its technology to the automotive industry to give developers the ability to add natural language-based interaction and control functionality to vehicles. Also last year, the company teamed up with Turkey’s Isbank to launch the world’s second biggest mobile banking voice assistant.

With customers including USAA, Barclays, S&P Global, OCBC Bank, and US Bank, Clinc was founded in 2015. The company has achieved 300% year-over-year revenue growth, and anticipates tripling its business in 2019. Via its partners, Clinc estimates that more than 30 million people are using its conversational AI technology.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Conversational AI Fintech Clinc Raises $52 Million in Series B.
  • Kabbage and Azlo Launch Mission Street Capital to Help Fund SMEs.

Around the web

  • Mastercard unveils its Mastercard Innovation Engine, an API-based platform to enable easier deployment of digital customer experiences.
  • Sezzle teams up with Bank of America Merchant Services, who will serve as the fintech’s digital card processor.
  • Plaid earns recognition as one of the Best Workplaces from Inc.com.

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.

Yes, Banks Can Compete with Apple’s New Credit Card

What’s in your wallet? Or rather, what’s in banks’ clients’ wallets? Some sexy competition appeared on the market yesterday, as Apple announced the pending launch of its own credit card in collaboration with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard.

The card is touted more for its mobile and digital qualities than its shiny titanium finish. Despite the shine, however, many of the card’s features and offerings aren’t new. And that’s good news for banks. While traditional financial institutions aren’t as sexy as tech companies such as Apple, they are generally viewed as more trustworthy. And with that kind of foundation, all banks need to do is piece together the features into their own credit card offering and market it properly.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fintech firms out there to help. Here are some of the features Apple is promoting and a list of corresponding fintechs that can help banks take the same approach.

Physical card security

Apple boasts a titanium card with the customer’s name etched on the front– no credit card number, no cvv code, no expiration date. All of that information is tucked away inside the app. Physical card innovator Dynamics takes a similar (though admittedly less visually appealing) approach. The Pennsylvania-based company offers a computer-in-a-card that hides part of the card number, the cvv code, and expiration date on the physical card until the consumer enters their PIN into the card. As an added bonus, Dynamics also offers in-card loyalty and rewards features, as well as a card that hosts multiple numbers, allowing customers to toggle between debit and credit cards.

Chat functionality

As a company that is known for simplifying technology, Apple is taking a similar approach with its customer service. “Have a question? Just text,” is the message the company features on its card website. Fortunately, there are plenty of fintechs that help banks simplify their customer experience. Two such companies are Finn.ai and Clinc, both of which leverage AI to save banks money on customer service representatives, while simplifying and expediting access to answers via a chat interface.

PFM

One way to win over customers is to convince them you’ll help them organize their finances and ultimately save them money. That’s why Apple is offering in-app PFM capabilities. And while the technology hasn’t changed much since it debuted before the fintech craze, the colorful user interface is beautiful enough to convince anyone to want to look at their spending behavior.

Banks have seemingly endless options to compete with this feature. And while most financial institutions currently offer some sort of PFM capabilities, it’s worth looking at it from a superficial point of view. Utah-based MX and Sweden-based Tink both offer visually-pleasing interfaces that are arguably more beautiful than Apple’s and are backed by powerful PFM engines.

Mobile app security

Apple’s iPhone holds the hardware for both fingerprint and facial recognition technology, and since the company is reinforcing its focus on security, it is leveraging biometrics for account access. With the right software, banks can leverage fingerprint and facial recognition technology as well. Jumio, IDology, and Mitek all offer technology banks can implement for fast account access, as well as account onboarding.

Fast onboarding

With access to consumer data, Apple has an advantage of being able to quickly onboard new consumers using existing consumer information. There are multiple fintechs that help banks onboard consumers quickly, as well, including Digital Onboarding, Q2’s Gro Solutions, and Fenergo. Digital Onboarding motivates customers to open new accounts using incentives and gamification. Gro Solutions touts the ability for customers to open and fund accounts in under four minutes. And Fenergo takes a holistic approach to onboarding, providing banks a lifetime view of the client to help perform data refreshes, ongoing due diligence, and upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Rewards

Credit card rewards programs may seem like a feature of the past, but rewards are certainly still relevant. With its new card’s rewards program, Apple once again seeks to simplify things by offering consumers daily rewards. Two fintechs, Cardlytics and Cartera Commerce, offer tried and true loyalty and rewards programs. These offerings not only boost consumer loyalty, they also offer banks further insight and analysis into consumer spending.

Apple’s new credit card is shipping this summer. Fortunately for banks, fintechs are here to help them compete.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Women in Fintech: “Pursuing Growth and Pursuing Profits Are Not Mutually Exclusive.”
  • New Threats, New Solutions: BioCatch Joins Anti-Vishing Fight.

Around the web

  • Clinc partners with Ford to bring voice recognition to its automobiles.
  • B2B digital marketing executive Nicky Senyard joins Voleo’s board of directors.
  • CSO Online reviews enterprise email security platform GreatHorn.
  • Coinbase offers cross-border wire transfer service to high-volume customers to help them fund their accounts.

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: Fintech News from Around the World

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.

Asia-Pacific

  • Singapore-based InstaReM announces new multi-currency feature to make overseas payments easier for SMEs.
  • Myanmar’s biggest privately-owned bank, Kanbawza (KBZ) Bank picks Finastra’s treasury management solution, Fusion Treasury.
  • Government ministries in South Korea partner for joint blockchain project to improve marine logistics and shipping.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP) invests $2.9 million three companies from Burundi, Malawi, and Uganda to support financial inclusion.
  • Nigerian Stock Exchange extends partnership with Nasdaq to continue using its matching engine technology.
  • Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority releases its “FinTech Sandbox Guidance Note” with an initial focus on robo advisors and blockchain technology.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Intelligent CIO looks at the merger of Polish fintechs, Braintri and iCompass.
  • Mastercard partners with Polish Payment Standard to provide contactless payments.
  • New report from Deloitte and ID Finance analyzes the growth of Russia’s private fintech sector.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Iraq’s Hammurabi Commercial Bank to deploy ICS Banks Universal Banking Software Suite.
  • Ripple and UAE Exchange team up to launch blockchain-powered cross-border remittance payment services in Asia in early 2019.
  • Egypt’s Commercial International Bank introduces nation’s first fintech-focused venture capital fund.
  • Clinc Brings Conversational AI to Turkey’s Isbank.

Central and South Asia

  • Obopay teams up with Federal Bank and Mastercard to offer new pre-payment card in India.
  • Indian digital payments firm ePayLater teams up with Cashfree to bring its credit-based payment option to merchants.
  • YourStory features Pune-based fintech startup, Phi Commerce.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazilian lender Creditoo announces $1.2 million in new funding.
  • IDB, Finnovista report notes that four out of ten Peruvian fintechs has a female founder.
  • Costa Rica unveils new virtual currency, Ecolones, to encourage recycling.

Top image designed by Freepik

Clinc Brings Conversational AI to Turkey’s Isbank

U.S.-based Clinc and Turkish private bank Isbank have launched the “world’s second-largest” mobile banking voice assistant with over six million users, reports Antony Peyton of FinTech Futures (Finovate’s sister publication).

Powered by Clinc’s conversational artificial intelligence (AI), the new voice assistant – named “Maxi” – will be available in the IsCep app.

Maxi will answer financial questions “unique to each individual user,” offer personalized spending advice, and do banking tasks.

According to the duo, based on the total number of users, Maxi is “second only to Bank of America’s ‘Erica’”.

Halim Memis, channel strategy unit manager at Isbank’s digital banking division, said: “While creating a first of its kind native language solution had its challenges, training the platform in Turkish and integrating it to our mobile banking application was smooth with [Clinc’s] support.”

Clinc CEO Dr. Jason Mars pointed out that this is the “first time that conversational AI has been deployed in Turkey.”  He added, “Because our AI learns new languages in a neural network way without hardcoding new rules and grammar, banks can quickly build and deploy in over 80 languages”.

Using their voice, the bank’s customers can check balances and spending history, transfer money, review transactions, and get spending advice.

The bank also plans to integrate Clinc’s AI into additional customer support channels including its IVR call centre. As reported in June, the pair talked about doing this.

Clinc demonstrated its conversational AI technology at FinovateFall 2016, winning Best of Show. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Clinc has raised $7.8 million in funding. The company’s investors include Drive Capital and eLab Ventures.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Citi Forges Strategic Partnership with Feedzai.

Around the web

  • Clinc Brings Conversational AI to Turkey’s Isbank.
  • FinTech Futures sits down with TransferWise’s Stuart Gregory to talk about the power of partnerships.
  • Intelligent CIO looks at the merger of Polish fintechs, Braintri and iCompass.
  • Experian launches Experian Boost, an online platform that enables consumers to instantly improve their credit scores by providing additional financial information.
  • Envestnet president Bill Crager is featured in Financial Planning’s 19 People Who Will Change Wealth Management in 2019.

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

  • Envestnet | Yodlee’s AI FinCheck Takes Financial Wellness to a New Level.
  • Blockbid Partners with LexisNexis Risk Solutions and ThreatMetrix.
  • Ignite Sales and FIS Team Up on Digital Engagement.

Around the web

  • Revolut goes live in Russia courtesy of partnership with QIWI.
  • Clinc brings its conversational AI technology to Turkey’s Isbank.
  • BBVA teams up with IPsoft to enhance service at its call centers in Mexico.
  • PYMNTS.com interviews BlueVine CEO Eyal Lifshitz on the “real value of invoice factoring.”
  • CFO Tech Outlook names Urban FT a top ten fintech solution provider.
  • NF Innova powering omnichannel banking for Halkbank ad Skopje.
  • Geezeo issues fully-fledged launch of Responsive Tiles PFM feature.

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

  • Best of Show winner Clinc launches Spotlight, the first self-service training program for conversational AI.
  • Cloud Lending Solutions recognized as a Top 10 Best Performing Salesforce Solution Provider for 2017 by Insight Success Magazine.
  • Ohpen Angelique Schouten named Chief Commercial Officer; Lydia van de Voort appointed to U.K. CEO post.
  • Auto financing offers from Santander Consumer USA now available on the AutoGravity app.
  • Pushfor wins public vote at inaugural Dublin Innovation Jam.
  • Members Heritage Credit Union launches member-owned insurance agency in partnership with Insuritas.
  • Lendio introduces new franchise in Gainesville-Ocala Florida region.

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.

Clinc Tops $4.5 Million in Annual Revenue; Hires Helen Yu as Chief Growth Officer

Conversational AI platform for banks Clinc topped off a year of “explosive growth” in 2017 by generating more than $4.5 million in annual revenue. The strong revenue numbers come as the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based, Finovate Best of Show winner announces the hiring of technology executive Helen Yu (pictured) as its Chief Growth Officer.

Calling Yu’s talents “hard to find,” Clinc CEO Dr. Jason Mars praised the former Hyperion, Oracle, and Adobe executive’s “tremendous knowledge, extensive experience and track record of transforming organizations.” These, Mars said, would be “an impactful asset to our team as we execute our aggressive growth plans, expand into additional verticals and achieve our mission to revolutionize and redefine experiences through conversational AI.”

Yu comes to Clinc most recently from Marketo, where she served as group vice president. While at the marketing software firm, Yu led the enterprise business from 5% of Marketo’s ARR (annual recurring revenue) to 50% within three and half years before the company was acquired by Vista Equity Partners in an all-cash, $1.79 billion deal. An Athena pioneer, the founder and CEO of the Tigon Advisory Corporation, as well as an advisor for Jebbit and the C-Suite Accelerator program, Yu studied at Cornell University and has a MBA from Loyola University in Chicago.

“The combination of Clinc’s market momentum, technical capabilities and diversified leadership team made this an irresistable opportunity,” Yu said. “There’s a massive opportunity ahead of us and I’m elated to help take Clinc to the next level.” Yu underscored the uniqueness of Clinc’s offering and praised the fintech’s execution, as well. “No one has accelerated from product launch to achieving 15x growth within the same year,” she said.

Founded in 2015, Clinc demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2016, earning a Best of Show award for its AI-enabled intelligent financial assistant. In November, the company announced that its technology was live in six countries, including Turkey, where the nation’s largest private bank signed a deal to deploy Clinc’s platform. Also last fall, Clinc announced a partnership with Enacomm to bring its AI chatbot technology to smaller, community banks and credit unions. 2017 also featured a deal with USAA  and the closing of a $6 million Series A round led by Drive Capital that took the company’s total capital to $7.75 million. Dr. Mars participated in our Finovate webinar “How to Make it In the Fintech Industry: 3 Start-Up Success Stories” last year.