French Challenger Bank Qonto Raises $115 Million

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Vive la France, indeed! One week after French payment app Lydia announced a $45 million fundraising, neobank Qonto reports that it has just closed the largest funding round to date for a French fintech.

French challenger bank Qonto has raised $115 million (€104 million) in Series C funding. The round was led by Tencent and DST Global, and also featured participation from existing investors Valar and VC Alven. Two angel investors, Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise co-founder) and Ingo Uytdehaage (Adyen CFO), were also involved in the financing. Qonto now has raised a total of more than $150 million (€136 million) in capital.

The company will use the funds to fuel its expansion into three new markets just entered in 2019: Italy, Spain, and Germany. The investment will also help Qonto strengthen its position in France where the majority of its 65,000 SME and freelancer customers do business. The funding will help the company grow its headcount from 200 to 300 within a year, and help Qonto secure a credit institution license by year’s end that will allow it to become a bank.

Investors in the firm credited Qonto for its ability to efficiently provide financial services for an underserved sector such as freelancers. Managing Partner for DST Global Tom Stafford praised the company for “using technology to change banking for small and medium size businesses from a source of friction to a source of competitive advantage.”

Founded in 2017, Qonto offers freelancers and SME business owners a range of financial services from streamlined account opening and expense management to real-time notifications and visibility into cash flow. The company was named one of the “hottest startups in Paris” by Wired U.K. last August.

Vive Lands Banking License

Challenger bank Vive Bank received some good news from the Bank of England today. The U.K.-based startup has been granted a banking license with restrictions.

Vive is aiming to ship its offerings in the second quarter of 2020 but unlike the region’s other challenger banks, Vive Bank will not be launching a current account. Instead, Vive Bank will focus on unsecured personal loans, a fixed-rate savings account, and PFM tools.

“It’s just not difficult to get a current account, so we want to focus on serving our customers with what they really need,” Vive CEO Nick Anthony said in an interview with AltFi. “We’re looking to serve a market where it’s more difficult for customers to get banking products. We want to make it simple and straightforward. Our unsecured personal loans, for example, will be far more than the narrow offering from high street banks, aimed at helping those with less than perfect credit scores.”

Vive Bank was founded in 2017 and has since refrained from promoting its services. While a waiting list is available on its website, the startup has intentionally remained quiet until today.

Tink’s $100 Million Monday; Azimo’s C-Suite Shakeup Promotes Experience and Diversity

It is hard to imagine having a better start to your week than Plaid had seven days ago when the innovative fintech (and Finovate alum) announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Visa for $5.3 billion.

But the €90 million ($100 million) raised by Swedish open banking platform Tink on Monday is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the funding, which is the company’s largest to date, is a reminder that investment interest in (and funding for) companies dedicated to developing the infrastructure that connects consumers, banks, and the financial technologies is very much in abundance.

“Our aim is to become the preferred pan-European provider of digital banking services and to offer the technology needed for banks, fintechs, and startups to leverage the opportunities of open banking and enable them to successfully develop financial services in the future,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement.

Tink demonstrated its platform most recently at FinovateEurope 2019. For more on this year’s Finovate event in Europe kicking off next month, visit our FinovateEurope 2020 page.


Azimo, one of our earliest FinovateEurope alums, announced a pair of big changes at the top to begin the new week.

The London-based money transfer firm, founded in 2012, promoted its COO Richard Ambrose to CEO back in August, as Azimo founder Michael Kent took what TechCrunch referred to as a lateral move to become executive chairman. Today, Fintech Futures, Finovate’s sister publication, reports that the company has appointed Dora Ziambra to the post of Chief Operating Officer. Azimo also promoted its head of finance Tatiana Okhotina to the post of Chief Financial Officer.

“We’re fortunate to have the depth of talent to fill these top roles internally,” Ambrose said in a statement. “We’re lucky too that Azimo will continue to benefit from the experience and leadership of these two outstanding women.”


Here’s our weekly roundup of the latest news from our Finovate alumni:

  • Union Bank to leverage technology from FIS for core banking.
  • Italy-based CREDEM leveraging Worldline’s Payment and Liquidity Hub software CRISTAL to process Target2 payments
  • POS software Vend partners with Klarna to offer retailers more flexible payment options.
  • U.K. food retailer The Co-operative to deploy ACI Worldwide’s fraud management solution, ReD Shield.
  • A partnership between TransferGo and Currencycloud will enable the money transfer company to enter 14 new markets.
  • YellowDog forges reseller agreement with Annex Pro.
  • Bankable cozies up with Plaid to allow its bank customers to connect with their users’ bank accounts.
  • Ohpen appoints former Tesla marketing leader Corinne Aaron as new head of marketing.
  • Segmint to acquire WAND’s Product and Service Taxonomy division.
  • CuneXus celebrates 2019 success with a 40% year-over-year increase in consumer reach.
  • TransUnion expands partnership with Payfone.
  • PayPal reaches $10 billion in charitable donations processed.
  • California approves Sezzle’s lending license.
  • People’s Bank selects NYMBUS’s SmartMarketing and SmartOnboarding solutions.
  • Ayondo ends its European social trading business.

Alumni Features and Profiles

Three Key Lessons We Learned from Plaid – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Visa is acquiring Plaid for a deal that’s worth $5.3 billion. The fact that they were so widely used at such an early stage is a testament to the quality of their code, but there are also a few key lessons to take away from their success.

ITSCREDIT’s Joao Pinto on the Digital Lending Opportunity –  ITSCREDIT is a spinoff from ITSECTOR and is a fairly new player in the digital lending space. In this interview, Pinto talks to us about the digital lending opportunity, how his company fits into the current state of this fintech subsector, and what we can expect to see next.

Kasasa Enhances its Take-Back Loan – Community bank marketing expert Kasasa announced a partnership with Carleton today in which Kasasa will integrate Carleton’s insurance and debt protection calculations into its Kasasa Loan.

Our latest FinovateEurope Sneak Peeks Are Up! Meet Dorsum, CASHOFF, Tensorflight, Trulioo, W.UP, Horizn, Glia, and BLECKWEN.

Plinqit Brings Rewards-Powered Financial Literacy to First Community Bank – One day in the distant future, children will be educated in basic financial literacy as readily as they are taught algebra. Until then, solutions like Plinqit from HT Mobile Apps will be valuable tools for credit unions and community banks looking for novel ways to engage and educate their members and customers.

Credit, Data, and Cryptocurrencies: Graychain Rebrands as Credmark – The company that is bringing credit data clarity to the cryptocurrency industry is entering 2020 with a new name.

Tradeshift Lands $240 Million as it Inches Toward Profitability – The San Francisco-based company will use the investment to boost expansion efforts and gear toward a “direct path to profitability in the near future.”

Fintech, Financial Services, and the Case for 5G – Calling 5G “something banks aren’t even thinking about,” Celent SVP Dan Latimore said, “we believe the effects of 5G are going to be subtle and profound over time.”

Backbase-as-a-Service Helps Banks Leverage the Cloud to Innovate and Scale – The solution makes the company’s broad portfolio of digital banking offerings available to FIs looking to accelerate their ability to develop and offer new technologies to customers.

Also on Finovate.com

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal – “Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”

Not Another 2020 Trends Prediction Post (Seriously, It’s Not!) – We’re taking a look at the trends you can expect to see on stage next month at FinovateEurope. To keep things simple this year, we assessed the themes at a very high level and broke them down into three categories: the big, the little, and the trends in-between.

Singapore’s Digital Banking License Space Race Accelerates – Is there anyone out there who is NOT trying to secure a digital banking license in Singapore? The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced last week that has received 21 applications for digital bank licenses

MogoSpend Offers Credit, Cashback, and Help Reducing Your Carbon Footprint – The new digital spending account from Canadian fintech Mogo does more than help Canadians get control of their finances. The solution also offers cardholders generous cashback rewards and a way to make a positive impact on the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.

Getsafe Expands its Insurtech to the U.K. – If your insurance company is offering you drone insurance, you know it’s not your grandmother’s insurance agency. Germany-based insurtech Getsafe does just that– and the company announced today it is expanding its home contents insurance offering (though, sadly, not its drone insurance offering) to users in the U.K.

Raisin’s New Acquisition Gives Company Access to the U.S. Market – European deposit marketplace Raisin announced today it acquired New York-based Choice Financial Solutions. 

French Fintech Lydia Locks in $45 Million – TechCrunch reported this morning that French mobile payment app Lydia has raised $45 million (€40 million) in a round led by Tencent.

Visa’s Tap to Phone Brings Contactless Payments to mPOS – With Visa’s Tap to Phone app arriving pre-installed on the new, enterprise grade smartphone from Samsung, a broad range of merchants will have access to yet another way to accept payments from customers. 

INTL FCStone Acquires International Bank Transfer Firm – Headquartered in Germany, GIROXX offers international bank transfers and currency hedging. INTL FCStone plans to leverage this technology to expand its current client base to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

MogoSpend Offers Credit, Cashback, and Help Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

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The new digital spending account from Canadian fintech Mogo does more than help Canadians get control of their finances. The solution – which also comes with a Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card – also offers cardholders generous cashback rewards and a way to make a positive impact on the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.

“With MogoSpend,” company founder and CEO David Feller explained, “our goal was to create a product that gives consumers even more control than a debit card and with cashback rewards that rival the best credit cards in Canada, without charging monthly or annual fees, and importantly, we wanted to make this a card that also help make a positive impact on the planet.”

Feller noted that 57 percent of Canadians carry credit card debt, which he connected with the problem of overspending. This, according to Feller, leads to overconsumption which he said was “directly linked to climate change.” He added, “Being more mindful around spending can help us achieve important life goals like buying a home and retirement, and many of us are becoming increasingly aware that being a mindful consumer is key to a healthy planet.”

MogoSpend is accessible via Mogo’s iOS and Android app, and can be set up in less than three minutes. The free service has no monthly or annual fees, works like a checking account, and enables users to instantly transfer funds from their bank account to their MogoSpend account. MogoSpend gives 1.5% cashback on domestic purchases and 3% on international currency purchases. Users can see how much cashback they have earned on the app in real time, and those funds are credited to the users account on a monthly basis, rather than at year’s end.

The only payment card in Canada to offer a carbon offset program, MogoSpend will offset one pound of CO2 for every dollar MogoSpend users spend using the card. The program comes courtesy of a partnership between Mogo and Canadian sustainability and carbon-management solution provider, Offsetters.

Mogo will make the new offering available to members on its waiting list “in the next few months.” Those interested can join the waiting list by downloading the free Mogo app and opening an account.

Kasasa Enhances its Take-Back Loan

Community bank marketing expert Kasasa announced a partnership with Carleton today in which Kasasa will integrate Carleton’s insurance and debt protection calculations into its Kasasa Loan, a move that will allow it to tailor loan limits.

Headquartered in Indiana, Carleton provides financial calculation software, loan origination compliance support, and document generation software. Through the partnership, Kasasa will enable its clients to add debt protection and credit insurance products to their Kasasa Loan offering.

Kasasa will use Carleton’s CarletonCalcs, which will allow it to tailor limits to each client based on their institutional, state, and federal compliance requirements. “By integrating CarletonCalcs throughout the Kasasa service platform, Carleton will ensure compliant loan computations and precise amortization schedules through Kasasa’s dashboard and mobile app,” said Carleton President and COO Matt Ruszkowski.

“We wanted to ensure the Kasasa Loan added a high level of configurability and compliance support to meet our client’s needs, in addition to providing consumers the greatest flexibility when choosing their loans,” said Chris Cohen, EVP, Product Management for Kasasa.

Kasasa debuted its Kasasa Loan in 2017 and showcased it at FinovateSpring 2018. The concept works similar to a regular loan agreement in which the borrower repays according to a regular payment schedule. However, it is unique because every month the consumer has the option to overpay on their loan repayment and at any time in the future if they need to access cash quickly, they have the option to “take-back” any portion of the overpayment.

Kasasa is an Austin-based company with 450 employees. The company counts 900 community financial institutions as clients.

Getsafe Expands its Insurtech to the U.K.

If your insurance company is offering you drone insurance, you know it’s not your grandmother’s insurance agency. Germany-based insurtech Getsafe does just that– and the company announced today it is expanding its home contents insurance offering (though, sadly, not its drone insurance offering) to users in the U.K.

Starting today, U.K. users will have access to Getsafe’s “neo-insurance” offering via its mobile app. The launch is made partially possible via a partnership with Hiscox, which will serve as the carrier for Getsafe’s U.K. contents product. The fintech’s other insurance partners include Munich Re and AXA.

Getsafe’s selection of the U.K. as its next launch site is a strategic one since U.K. residents are already comfortable with mobile-based services and payments. In fact, the U.K. is one of the leading regions of the globe for challenger banks.

The company has already proven itself as the fastest growing insurance agency for millennials in Germany. “Over the last two years, we have shown that our product meets a core need for the young, tech-savvy generation,” said CEO and founder Christian Wiens. “With our insurance delivered through your smartphone, we are developing a product that fits perfectly with the living and communication habits of this generation.”

Getsafe states that today’s move into the U.K. is “just the beginning.” The company plans to expand its offerings to all of Europe in the next few years.

Getsafe has raised $17 million and was founded in 2015. In addition to its contents and drone insurance products, the company offers ad-hoc insurance for travel, liability, bike theft, legal protection, routine care, dental care, and dental replacement. Getsafe also has plans to launch a digital life insurance company in Germany, its flagship market.

Raisin’s New Acquisition Gives Company Access to the U.S. Market

European deposit marketplace Raisin announced today it acquired New York-based Choice Financial Solutions. Terms of the acquisition, which marks Raisin’s fourth purchase in the past year, were undisclosed.

Raisin will license Choice FS’ technology to banks in the U.S., a move that will bring the company one step closer to its U.S. launch. Last year, Raisin teased the geographical expansion with the appointment of Paul Knodel as U.S. CEO.

Raisin U.S. CEO Paul Knodel

“Joining forces with Choice Financial Solutions lets Raisin begin offering cutting-edge services to banks and customers before we even launch our U.S. platform,” said Knodel. “As a leading innovator in the deposits space, Raisin sees Choice FS as a perfect fit for our mission in the U.S. deposits market. The enthusiastic market feedback we have already received affirms how ripe the savings space is for just this type of personalization.”

Choice FS has a decade-long track record of providing banks with technology to help their clients save for long-and-short-term goals. The company’s secret sauce is customization– something modern consumers have become accustomed to in today’s era of BigTech solutions. Choice FS allows banks to customize terms, distributions, amounts, and withdrawals to maximize return on savings accounts, creating a highly-personalized savings experience with an intuitive user interface. Company founder and CEO Daniel Smith refers to this personalization as “the missing piece” for banks and depositors.

Raisin was founded in 2012 and has since brokered $20.6 billion (€18.5 billion) for 200,000 customers in 28+ European countries and 90 partner banks. The company provides a free marketplace where consumers can browse European deposit products, ETF portfolios, and, in Germany, pension products.

French Fintech Lydia Locks in $45 Million

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TechCrunch reported this morning that French mobile payment app Lydia has raised $45 million (€40 million) in a round led by Tencent. With existing investors CNP Assurances, XAnge, and New Alpha also participating in the Series B, Lydia adds significantly to the more than $16 million (€13 million) the company raised in 2018. The funding will help propel the firm toward its self-described goal of being the “PayPal of the new mobile generation.”

Lydia is used to make P2P payments, link and share accounts, as well as access a marketplace of additional financial offerings such as lending products and insurance. Available as a free app with other premium services available, Lydia can also set up recurring payments and enable users to pay with their smartphone via Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, or QR code. Company co-founder and CEO Cyril Chiche pointed to the growing numbers of French consumers who are using the app for a variety of money management functions, highlighting the fact that 25% of French consumers between the ages of 18 and 30 have a Lydia account. Chiche added that the technology has three million users across Europe.

Lydia, which was founded in 2013, will use the funding to fuel its continued expansion in Europe. Lydia is particularly keen on opportunities to reach millennial Europeans in markets like the U.K., Ireland, Spain, and Portugal – where its app was deployed in the second half of 2017.

Compared to other countries in Europe, the fintech industry in France is often overlooked. This is not wholly without foundation. According to the recent report on European fintech by Dealroom, the share of fintech related VC spending in France in recent years was 12% compared to 20% in Europe overall, 21% in Germany, and 30% in the U.K. Born2Invest noted in December that French fintech startups had raised $700 million in 2019, and suggested that this year would likely see “a lot of talk about assuretech” also known as insurech, where technologies like digitization and automation are able to make dramatic differences in data management.

Lydia was featured in Silicon Canals last spring in its look at “10 exciting French fintech startups to work for in 2019.” For more on the French fintech industry, check out this infographic from BlackFin Tech which depicts the five main ecosystems in French fintech – regtech, assurtech, financial services, banking/PFM, and payment services – as well as some of the major players.

Tradeshift Lands $240 Million as it Inches Toward Profitability

Supply chain payments company Tradeshift just unveiled details about a $240 million funding round today. The investment– a combination of debt and equity– comes from new and existing investors. Tradeshift’s total funding is now $672 million.

The San Francisco-based company will use the investment to boost expansion efforts and gear toward a “direct path to profitability in the near future.” The funding will also be used to grow Tradeshift’s network finance program that provides liquidity to companies in 100+ countries.

And it appears that Tradeshift is already on the right track. Last year the company tallied record expansion; growing its revenue more than 60% and closing more than 300 enterprise deals. What’s more, 40% of the total transaction volume across its platform occurred in the last 12 months.

“It’s clear that the investor community has a strong focus on growth combined with profitability and they like our plan,” said Tradeshift CEO Christian Lanng. “As a network business, growth is always going to be a key part of our story. But it’s also important that we manage that growth responsibly.”

Tradeshift’s business commerce platform connects more than 1.5 million companies across 190 countries. To date, the company has processed more than half a trillion dollars in transaction value. After Tradeshift’s most recent funding round of $250 million last spring, the company’s valuation was boosted to $1.1 billion.

As for 2020 plans, Lanng said that the company’s focus “will be about doubling down in areas where we’re seeing the greatest momentum while continuing to ensure we have the necessary balance in place to fully capitalize on the enormous opportunities in front of us.”

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal

Updated 1/14/2020: The first big fintech acquisition of the year just crossed the headlines: Visa has agreed to acquire innovative fintech Plaid for a reported $5.3 billion in “total purchase consideration.”

“Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”

Plaid’s technology connects digital consumers with thousands of apps and services ranging from Transferwise and Betterment to Chime, Acorns, and popular payment app, Venmo. The company estimates that one in four individuals with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect with thousands of developers across 11,000+ financial institutions.

Visa said the acquisition will bolster the company’s capacity to serve and reputation with fintech developers – especially when it comes to providing them with enhanced payment functionality and related value-added services. Visa also believes the acquisition will help open new business opportunities both in the U.S. and around the world.

“We are extremely excited about our acquisition of Plaid and how it enhances the growth trajectory of our business,” Visa CEO and chairman Al Kelly said. “Plaid is a leader in the fast growing fintech world with best-in-class capabilities and talent. The acquisition, combined with our many fintech efforts already underway, will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions, and consumers.”

Visa participated in Plaid’s Series C round in 2018, which was led by Index Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. The company raised $250 million in that funding raising effort. Plaid began the year with an acquisition of its own, purchasing account aggregation and data analytics technology provider Quovo in January of 2019. The value of that deal was not disclosed; Bloomberg reported that the sticker price for Quovo could have been as high as $200 million. Quovo, incidentally, is also a FinDEVr alum, participating in our New York developers conference in 2017.

Plaid demonstrated its technology at FinDEVrSiliconValley in 2014, demonstrating how its API for Financial Infrastructure enabled developers to leverage data quickly, efficiently, and securely power fintech applications. Headquartered in San Francisco, California and founded in 2012, Plaid had raised $310 million in funding previous to today’s announcement.

The ripples from the acquisition news are reverberating throughout the fintech community. And while some are worried about the ability of the innovative startup from San Francisco continue to drive change in the industry, others are busy heralding the news as a victory for fintech and incumbent financial services firms, alike.

Indeed, the acquisition of Plaid by Visa has put other fintechs involved in financial data on notice that they too may hear an inquiring knock on their proverbial doors. One observer on Twitter asked “Will $MA pick up Finicity now?” As of this writing, neither company has deigned to comment.

INTL FCStone Acquires International Bank Transfer Firm

Risk management and advisory services firm INTL FCStone announced today that its London-based subsidiary has agreed to acquire GIROXX for an undisclosed amount.

Headquartered in Germany, GIROXX offers international bank transfers and currency hedging. INTL FCStone plans to leverage this technology to expand its current client base to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

As part of the agreement, INTL FCStone’s advisory services will be made available to GIROXX’s clients. GIROXX founders Klaus Hoffmann and Jörg Sonnenschein said that the deal will help the company “gain the resources to offer hedging services on a multi assets basis.” As a result, the founders anticipate that GIROXX will solidify its client base and boost company expansion.

The purchase marks INTL FCStone’s sixth acquisition and its fourth in less than 10 months. The company said that these purchases, combined with internal restructuring, are part of an effort to protect clients from negative effects of Brexit.

“Our objective is to offer SME’s the ability to hedge all parts of their production processes, and to allow these corporates to have access to a digital payments and hedging platform,” said Carsten Hils, Global Head of INTL FCStone’s Global Payments Division.

Following the deal, INTL FCStone plans to open its client base to companies with less than 1,000 employees in Europe, a market with 350+ correspondent banks. The acquisition is pending approval from BaFin, Germany’s financial regulatory authority.

Founded in 1981, INTL FCStone is publicly listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker INTL. The company has a market capitalization of $947 million.

Visa’s Tap to Phone Brings Contactless Payments to mPOS

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With Visa’s Tap to Phone app arriving pre-installed on the new, enterprise grade smartphone from Samsung, a broad range of merchants will have access to yet another way to accept payments from customers. The solution works with any Android smartphone and enables everyone from microbusiness owners to retail sales professionals to make on-the-spot transactions with customers without relying additional hardware.

Visa’s Tap to Phone technology enables consumers to make payments in seconds by tapping their contactless payment card – or smartphone or smartwatch – against the vendor’s Tap-to-Phone enabled smartphone. And because it is built on an EMV chip transaction, Tap to Phone is able to generate the same dynamic security for transactions as a traditional terminal does, ensuring both parties that the transaction is secure.

Visa notes that its Tap to Phone technology is currently being piloted in more than nine markets, including in Canada, the U.K, Ukraine, Turkey, Costa Rica, and Malaysia. Additional pilots are scheduled for Poland, Australia and a few other countries “over the next several months.”

Samsung has selected its Galaxy XCover Pro enterprise smartphone to be integrated with Visa’s Tap to Phone technology. The company expects the combination to be valuable in a variety of verticals both within and beyond ecommerce, such as logistics and healthcare.

“The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is a robust retail POS platform for a true retail digital transformation,” Visa’s Head of Seller Solutions Mary Kay Bowman said. “Its applications for businesses such as healthcare, airlines, and restaurants are a great example of how Visa together with Samsung can democratize access to payment experiences that consumers increasingly expect, no matter where they are.”

Samsung has demonstrated its technology on the Finovate stage, teaming up with Fiserv to provide biometric authentication for the payment giant’s Commercial Center: Security solution at FinovateFall 2018. Visa participated in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley in 2014, discussing “The Future of Commerce” and introducing its API-less, Visa Checkout integration solution.