Payroll Company Paylocity Acquires Video Platform Provider

HR and payroll software solutions provider Paylocity made an acquisition today that will bring the company into the COVID-19 era. The Chicago, Illinois-based company announced it has purchased video platform provider VidGrid for an undisclosed amount.

Paylocity made the purchase to reinforce its services with VidGrid’s peer-to-peer learning courses. The company expects that adding workplace video communication tools will boost employee collaboration, engagement, and retention.

“We believe video will play a critical role in transforming workplace communication,” said Paylocity CEO Steve Beauchamp.

Today’s acquisition stems from Paylocity’s previous partnership with VidGrid that powered Paylocity’s learning management system (LMS), a tool that enables clients to learn from interactive videos featuring subject matter experts. “As part of our product expansion, we introduced our Learning Management System and worked with VidGrid to provide learning opportunities that the modern workforce expects,” Beauchamp said. “VidGrid’s approach aligns with our culture of caring deeply for our clients and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome their talented and innovative team to Paylocity.”

The acquisition– Paylocity’s first– comes at a time when traditionally in-person consultations and services have been pushed to online channels in order to comply with social distancing requirements. Secure video communications channels have proven to be invaluable during the COVID-19 era. Many experts are predicting consumers’ habits to pursue services online instead of in-person to continue even after it is once again deemed safe to gather in person.

Founded in 1997, Paylocity has more than 3,300 employees, more than 60% of whom work remotely (this was, of course, before everyone was required to do so). The company has more than 20,000 clients and 2,200 partners. Paylocity is publicly traded on NASDAQ under the ticker PCTY with a market capitalization of $4.71 billion.

Kabbage Collaborates with Facebook to Back Retailers During the COVID Crisis

One of the most immediate impacts of the worldwide effort to combat the COVID-19 virus is social distancing. And however effective social distancing is in limiting the ability of the coronavirus to spread, it is equally effective in crushing the revenues of businesses large and small.

To help small businesses in the retail sector cope with this challenge, small business cash flow solution provider Kabbage has partnered with Facebook. Together, the two companies will help merchants continue to generate revenue at a time when their customers – for sound reasons based on public health – are largely staying away.

Via the partnership, small businesses can sign up on a new website sponsored by Kabbage: www.helpsmallbusiness.com. This will enable them to sell online gift certificates through Kabbage’s KabbagePayments portal and automatically list them on Facebook. These offers will be visible to Facebook users through their Facebook mobile app; Facebook users can then purchase gift certificates from the www.helpsmallbusinss.com website.

The integration makes it easy for small businesses to sell online gift certificates and place them where they are most likely to be seen by consumers increasingly resorting to online shopping in lieu of traveling to brick and mortar stores. It’s also a way for consumers to support their favorite retailers.

“Now with the powerful reach of Facebook, small business owners have greater opportunity to share gift certificate offers to the community that rely upon them,” Kabbage CEO Rob Frohwein said. “Small businesses are the most impacted in this crisis and this is one way Kabbage is applying its technology and resources to save them.”

The initiative with Facebook is only a small part of Kabbage’s participation in the effort to help SMEs survive the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The company is one of many helping facilitate relief funding to SMEs via the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP provides funding up to 2.5x average monthly payroll, and the SBA forgives the portion of the loan that is used for critical business operations such as payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities if all employees are kept on staff. Kabbage reports that it has received more than 37,000 applications for the PPP, totaling more than $3.5 million.

“The smallest businesses in America are always the hardest hit, the most vulnerable, and the most in need when a crisis strikes, and together with our bank partner, we are working tirelessly to support them,” Frohwein said.

Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Kabbage has been a Finovate alum since 2010 when the company debuted its Kabbage Loan at FinovateSpring.

Chime is Making Up for the U.S. Government’s Slow Stimulus Payments

With many U.S. citizens out of work these days, some are struggling to put food on the table. Recognizing this need, the U.S. government has agreed to come to their aid by issuing $1,200 checks to every adult earning less than $75,000 per year and $500 per child. The actualization of this effort, however, has been slow. While some families haven’t been able to work in weeks, they will not receive their check for another two-to-three weeks.

Because of this lag time, U.S. challenger bank Chime is supporting its user base by helping select members access their stimulus money early. So far, the bank has provided a group of randomly selected 1,000 of its members that meet certain criteria to immediately receive an additional $1,200 in their account while they wait for the government’s funds to come through.

“…these randomly selected members will have access to spend an amount equaling their estimated government payment 2-3 weeks early and be able to use that money right away on everyday needs such as groceries and bill payments with their Chime card,” the company noted in its blog post announcement.

The California-based company is using SpotMe, Chime’s free overdraft protection service that allows eligible users to hold a negative balance of up to $100 while they wait for their next paycheck. Instead of charging interest on this microloan, however, Chime requests users to “pay it forward.” As stated on the company’s website, “When your SpotMe negative balance is repaid, we’ll give you the option to leave us an optional tip to pay it forward. Whether or not you tip won’t affect your SpotMe eligibility. SpotMe is a fee-free service, and friendly tips from our community help it stay that way!”

So who is funding all of this? Chime is leveraging its relationships with The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, as well as its investors (and specifically Mark Cuban), to forward the funds.

With a valuation of $5.8 billion as of December 2019, Chime has raised nearly $809 million. Last fall, rumors indicated that the company had 5 million customers and CNBC reported last December that Chime was adding 150,000 accounts each month.

Yapily Locks in $13 Million in New Funding

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Open banking platform for Fortune 500 companies like IBM, Yapily has picked up $13 million (€12 million) in Series A funding. The round was led by Lakestar and takes the company’s total capital to $18 million. Also participating in the funding were existing investors HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and LocalGlobe, as well as angel investors including TransferWise’s Taavet Hinrikus and Twilio’s Ott Kaukve.

This week’s funding comes a year after the company’s last capital infusion – a seed investment of $5.4 million. Yapily will use the new funds to help support adoption of open banking by institutions across Europe.

Based in London and founded in 2017 by former Goldman Sachs executive Stefano Vaccino, Yapily helps drive open banking adoption by connecting banks to fintechs and other financial services providers. The company notes that its recurring revenues have grown by more than 5x over the past six months. Yapily also has increased the size of its London office to 45 employees, and expanded into Italy, Ireland, and France.

“We believe open banking is a force for good. Using our API and infrastructure, we’re not only providing our partners with strong and powerful connectivity to boost their user experiences,” Vaccino said. “But we’re also giving their customers, whether they be customers or businesses, greater control of their finances, through the creation of products and services which can fuel greater financial management and accessibility.”

Vaccino added that this flexibility for institutions and developers was especially valuable “during this period of uncertainy.” This point was echoed by Lakestar partner Stephen Nundy who cited the COVID-19 outbreak in crediting Yapily’s technology as being “best placed” to support financial innovation that drives business growth “across the financial ecosystem.”

In addition to IBM, Yapily includes GoCardless and Intuit Quickbooks among its customers.

Lunar’s $22 Million Boosts Series B Funding Total to $50 Million

Nordic challenger bank Lunar announced a new tranche of funding today, boosting its Series B round. The new $21.6 million (€20 million) installment adds to the $28 million (€26 million) the digital bank disclosed in August of last year.

Today’s investment brings the company’s Series B round to $49.6 million (€46 million) and raises its total funding to $74.7 million. Leading the extension round is Seed Capital, with participation from Greyhound, Socii, Augustinus, and Unity Technologies founder David Helgason.

Lunar’s free bank account includes transfers, payments, debit card, billpay, and access to in-app budgeting tools. The Premium accounts offer a fancier-looking card, three personal accounts, travel insurance, virtual cards, and more at a cost of just under $7 (69 krona) per month. The challenger bank also offers a business bank account for $194 per year that integrates with third-party software providers comes with commercial lending opportunities.

Lunar was founded in 2015 and received its banking license in August of last year from the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority. In all, the company touts 150,000 users. Ken Villum Klausen is founder and CEO.

Azimo Partners with Siam Commercial Bank

Foreign exchange platform Azimo announced today that it will facilitate payments on behalf of Thailand’s largest commercial bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB).

SCB clients will benefit from Azimo’s digital money transfer program that uses RippleNet, a blockchain-based money transfer service. Using RippleNet, Azimo will be able to instantly deliver payments from Europe to SCB client accounts.

The partnership leverages a program called PromptPay, which offers Thailand residents a PromptPay ID to serve as a proxy for their bank account number. PromptPay was launched in 2017 as part of the Bank of Thailand’s E-Payment initiative.

According to Azimo CEO Richard Ambrose, “Transfers can be set up in minutes from a smartphone. The fees are low and the rates are great, so our customers will be spared the extortionate charges levied by many competitors.”

Azimo counts more than one million customers of its digital money transfer platform, which allows users to send money from 25 countries to more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Last year, the company increased its transfer volume by 60% year-over-year. Today’s move with SCB should boost that growth even further; Thailand is one of the top destinations for remittances. The country receives $6.7 billion from around the globe each year.

Headquartered in London, U.K., Azimo was founded in 2012. The FinovateEurope alum brought in $21.7 million (€20 million) in debt financing last month, bringing its total combined debt and equity funding to $88 million.

Teslar Teams Up with Liberty National Bank to Boost Commercial Lending

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Automated workflow and portfolio management solutions provider Teslar Software is partnering with Liberty National Bank. The Oklahoma-based bank will use Teslar’s technology to boost productivity, increase transparency, and streamline its commercial lending process.

“By leveraging our advanced portfolio management tools,” Teslar CEO and founder Joe Ehrhardt said, “Liberty National Bank will benefit from stronger data and increased visibility in the commercial lending process, helping them carry out their growth plans with confidence.”

Specifically, the bank will use Teslar’s technology to enhance its exceptions tracking, reporting, and portfolio management. This will give Liberty National Bank’s loan officers better access to more customer information, enabling them to both better engage customers as well as take advantage of potential cross-selling opportunities.

“We’re confident that through our partnership with Teslar, we’ll be able to boost efficiencies, improve accuracy of information, and provide better customer service, ultimately helping us rise above the competition,” Liberty National Bank Chief Credit Officer Michael Bucher said. “Our bank appreciates that Teslar’s platform is built by former bankers who understand our unique challenges and goals.”

With seven branches in five counties in Oklahoma, and a new loan production office in Oklahoma City, Liberty National Bank has nearly doubled its asset size over the past ten years. Founded in 1902 as the Bank of Elgin before Oklahoma had been granted statehood, the institution became Liberty National Bank in 2002. Currently serving customers in Oklahoma and North Texas, the bank has assets of $456 million as of last summer.

Teslar provides community banks and credit unions with a lending and credit management SaaS solution that enables them to manage all stages of the loan lifecycle, from pipeline and call activity to loan review. The company behind the technology, 3E Software, was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas. Teslar has been a Finovate alum since 2015.

IdentityMind Global Acquired by Acuant

Digital identity company IdentityMind Global has agreed to be acquired by identity verification company Acuant five months after the two initially formed a partnership. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal offers Acuant access to IdentityMind’s digital identity product, a SaaS platform that builds, maintains, and analyzes digital identities and helps companies perform risk-based authentication, regulatory identification, and detect and prevent synthetic and stolen identities.

While digital identity was a hot topic at the beginning of the year, it is even more so now that much of consumer interaction is being pushed from in-person to online channels.

“Never before has identity been so critical to building and maintaining a stable and productive economy,” said Acuant CEO Yossi Zekri. “Businesses must rely on trusted identities to successfully transact, fight fraud and stay compliant. Our Trusted Identity Platform, now with IdentityMind’s orchestration layer, creates a new standard in identity verification.”

Acuant has offered identity verification solutions for 20 years. Since then, the California-based company has completed more than one billion trusted transactions in over 196 countries. Today’s deal is Acuant’s second acquisition after purchasing AssureTec Technologies in 2016.

IdentityMind was founded in 2013 and has raised $21.5 million across three rounds of funding. The company most recently demoed at FinovateSpring 2018, showcasing its GDPR compliant KYC plug-in.

EVO Payments Raises $150 Million to Help Manage COVID-19 Crisis

Merchant acquirer EVO Payments, the parent company of EVO Snap, has secured $150 million in cash to help fortify the company’s balance sheet, retire debt, and provide funding for future investment opportunities during the COVID-19 crisis. Private equity firm Madison Dearborn, a major shareholder in the company, led the investment.

“While EVO’s global portfolio represents a diversified mix of merchants across Europe and North America,” the company explained in a statement, “many of these merchants operate in markets that are subject to broad governmental restrictions on movement and commerce, resulting in substantial reductions in merchant transaction count and volumes.”

In addition to the funding, EVO Payments has launched initiatives to lower fixed costs and capital expenditures over the balance of fiscal 2020. The company’s CEO James G. Kelly said that the “long-term fundamentals of EVO’s business remain strong” and that the current strategies will enable the company to continue to grow.

Founded in 1989 and currently active in 50 markets around the world, EVO Payments acquired the technology that powers the EVO Snap development platform in 2013. EVO Snap makes it easy for developers, independent software vendors, and merchants to develop omni-channel and cross-border payment solutions. The company participated in our developers conference, FinDEVr Silicon Valley, offering a presentation and workshop on building customized loyalty programs, card-linked offers, and real-time POS rewards.

EVO Payments is publicly-traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker EVOP. The company, headquartered in McLean, Virginia near Washington, D.C., has a market capitalization of $1 billion. EVO services more than 500,000 merchants in North America and Europe, processing 900+ million transactions in the former and 1.7 billion transactions in the latter each year.

Vymo Offers Work From Home for Sales Professionals

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Vymo, the company whose intelligent sales assistant makes life easier for on-the-go sales pros, has unveiled a new enhancement to help sales teams at this time when customer engagement is even more challenging. The company has introduced a new Work From Home enhancement to its sales assistant solution which enables secure, 24/7 access to critical data via an app instead of requiring a desktop or on-premises hardware.

“Considering Vymo supports over 100,000 remote users already, this is a logical extension,” Vymo CEO Yamini Bhat explained. “We are seeing very encouraging signs in several of the deployments that have gone live over the past week. This social and economic situation is unlike anything we have seen before, and so our team at Vymo is committed to helping organizations adapt to this new paradigm.”

Available as an upgrade to the Vymo app, the new offering is a way for organizations to maintain business continuity during the Covid-19 crisis, and to ensure accurate communication with customers. The solution features secure calling and video conferencing, broadcasts and targeted notifications, and a central hub that provides a comprehensive view of KPIs such as agent adoption and customer coverage.

Sandeep Kumar Mishar, SVP and Head -HDFC Bank Relationship for Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance, led the implementation of Vymo’s technology at his firm. He praised the analytics available via Vymo’s platform, and credited them for “enabling me to manage my team’s productivity better and turnaround the WFH (Work From Home) challenges positively.”

An alum of both FinovateAsia and FinovateFall, Vymo was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Bangalore, India. The company has raised $23 million in funding from investors including Sequoia Capital India and Emergence.

Plaid to Power Microsoft’s New PFM Tool

Further proving that every company is a fintech company, Plaid has formed a partnership with Microsoft.

Plaid will integrate with Microsoft Excel to help give the budget spreadsheet a major upgrade. Launching under the guise of Money in Excel, the new tool will use Plaid to import users’ financial information, bringing an automated approach to financial management.

With access to 11,000 financial institutions across the U.S., Canada, and Europe, Plaid is able to import the user’s entire financial picture in real time.

Money in Excel offers budgeting features typical of most PFM applications. Users can see a monthly overview of their spending habits, analyze recurring expenses, and understand their net worth.

Money in Excel is launching as part of the new Microsoft 365 subscription service that will go live on April 21. The subscriptions range from $6.99 per month to $9.99 per month and include real-time editing in Word, advanced PowerPoint layout and speech coaching, and access to creative content.

Plaid works with thousands of third-party fintech apps such as Transferwise, Betterment, and Venmo to connect with their users’ financial institutions. The company made headlines at the beginning of 2020 after it announced it had been acquired by Visa for $5.3 billion.

CRIF to Acquire Strands

Credit management solutions provider CRIF has agreed to acquire PFM company Strands for an undisclosed amount. The deal will be finalized “in the coming weeks.”

The union will bring Strands’ personal financial management and business financial management solutions to CRIF’s client base that includes 6,300 banks, 55,000 businesses, and 310,000 consumers across 50 countries.

Strands’ technology will complement CRIF’s customer acquisition, portfolio management, and credit collection tools that help forecast market developments, improve business performance, reduce credit risks, and prevent fraud.

According to CRIF chairman Carlo Gherardi, the acquisition will “allow CRIF to create a worldwide digital solutions provider for open banking.” He added, “Through this deal, CRIF will combine its market knowledge and expertise with an innovative and well-positioned fintech player, creating synergies that will help our global clients to keep on growing and innovating through their digital transformation journey.”

For its part, Strands brings to the table 700 bank clients serving 100 million end customers. Strands CEO Erik Brieva said that the deal will help fuel Strands’ mission “to enable banks to anticipate customer needs and proactively suggest next-best-actions.”

Strands was founded in 2004 and has since raised more than $55 million in two rounds of funding. The company has offices in Barcelona, Spain; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and at its headquarters location in Miami, Florida. Strands’ most recent appearance on the Finovate stage was last year, where it demonstrated a cash flow solution for small businesses alongside Mastercard.

With more than 5,000 employees, CRIF is headquartered in Italy and was founded in 1988. Today’s deal is the company’s seventh acquisition, following its purchase of Vision-Net in 2018. CRIF demonstrated its Credit Framework solution at FinovateEurope 2014.