ThetaRay Opens Mexico City Office; Dubai’s Foloosi Turns to KSA for Expansion

Join us in October as our annual Asia-Pacific fintech conference returns to Singapore! FinovateAsia is one of the best ways for fintech startups and innovative industry veterans from the region and around the world to showcase their latest technologies before an audience of C-level decision-makers, venture capitalists, all-star analysts, and more.

For information on how to participate in FinovateAsia as a demoing company, partner, or sponsor, send us an e-mail and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Konfio, a Mexican financial services and credit assessment platform for SMEs, picks up $100 million secured credit facility from Goldman Sachs.
  • ThetaRay unveils new office in Mexico City.
  • Crunchbase news investigates the forces behind the “digital banking boom in Latin America.”

Asia-Pacific

  • Clinc’s Conversational AI gives voice to new app from Singapore’s OCBC Bank.
  • South Korea’s Shinhan Financial Group opens accelerator lab in Indonesia.
  • iSunOne teams up with Malaysia Productivity Council to build the world’s first Islamic, blockchain-based financial system.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Nigerian digital-only retail bank Kuda raises $1.6 million in pre-seed funding.
  • Apis Partners acquires majority stake in Tutuka, a payment processing technology company based in South Africa.
  • Techpoint Africa looks at the growth of Nigerian fintech QuickCheck, which helps promote access to credit.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Romania’s Tremend Software Consulting partners with Mastercard Romania to help support digitization of payments.
  • Croatian startup Worig offers a credit rating system for long-term renters in Croatia and throughout the EU.
  • German WEG Bank gains cryptocurrency trading and custody license in Estonia.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Dubai-based Foloosi announces plans to make Saudi Arabia the first part of its expansion across the GCC region.
  • Emirates NBD introduces voice banking via Amazon Alexa.
  • Wamda looks at how UAE-based ride-hailing app Careem is moving increasingly into the payments space.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian fintech OkCredit raises $67 million in round led by Lightspeed and Tiger Global.
  • Entrepreneur.com examines how Indian fintechs have leveraged the omnichannel approach to extend their platforms.
  • City of London Mayor to be accompanied by delegation of British fintech companies during upcoming, five-day trade mission to India.

Top image designed by Freepik

Clinc’s Conversational AI Gives Voice to New App from Singapore’s OCBC Bank

FinovateAsia isn’t the only big deal coming to Singapore this fall. Courtesy of a partnership with conversational AI innovator Clinc, Singapore’s OCBC Bank will offer its customers a new voice-enabled mobile banking assistant – the first of its kind in Singapore.

The solution is called the OCBC Banking Assistant and was developed via OCBC’s Innovation Lab, where it was trained both to handle specific banking use cases as well as the intricacies of local Singaporean vernacular and context.

“We are always open to forging new partnerships that allow us to reimagine banking for our digital customers,” OCBC Bank’s Head of Digital Business for Singapore & Malaysia Aditya Gupta said. “We choose to work with Clinc because of their superior conversational AI platform and their next-generation natural language processing capabilities.”

Gupta called the collaboration “the next step towards making our customers’ mobile-first interactions more seamless and natural.”

The new mobile app will enable OCBC Bank customers to pay bills, transfer funds between accounts, check spending history and transactions, locate the nearest ATM, and receive spending advice – all just by using their voice. Clinc’s natural language technology means that users do not need to memorize special keywords or specific phrases in order to access many of the most commonly-used banking services.

The deployment also marks the first time that Clinc’s billpay competency is being used in its entirety, a point highlighted by company CEO Jason Mars.

“This is the first full production roll out of its kind,” Mars said, calling the launch “a milestone” for his company, OCBC Bank, and the financial industry writ large. “It’s not a chatbot or virtual assistant-type experience that people are familiar with,” he said. “Rather, it’s Clinc’s signature voice-first, human-like AI experience used to create a mobile bank assistant that enables OCBC Bank customers to get spending insights, account and transaction details, and pay bills, all by using unscripted, everyday, messy language.”

OCBC Bank – which stands for Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation – is a multinational banking and financial services entity, founded in 1932 and based in Singapore. With more than $340 billion (S$467.5 billion) in assets, OCBC Bank is the second biggest bank in Southeast Asia by assets and one of the larger banks in the APAC region.

The partnership with OCBC Bank is the latest collaboration that Clinc has been involved in. In June, the company reported that it was bringing its conversational AI technology to the healthcare industry, courtesy of a partnership with digital workforce solution provider Olive. And in January, Clinc announced that it was working with Ford to bring voice recognition to the automaker’s vehicles.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Clinc demonstrated its conversational AI-based solution at FinovateFall 2016, winning Best of Show. Named Frost & Sullivan’s 2019 Technology Leader for Artificial Intelligence, Clinc announced a major investment this spring, pulling in $52 million in new funding in a round led by Insight Partners.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Clinc’s Conversational AI Gives Voice to New App from Singapore’s OCBC Bank.
  • Finovate Global: ThetaRay Opens Mexico City Office; Dubai’s Foloosi Turns to KSA for Expansion.

Around the web

  • Meniga to enable consumers to donate cashback from their Meniga Rewards app to help combat climate change.
  • Mambu forges partnership with Swiss online lender bob Finance.
  • We Write Code joins Dwolla’s Partnership Ecosystem.

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.

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.