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.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Fintech digital crowdsourcing platform, Fintech Galaxy, honors leaders of MENA’s fintech industry at its FinX – Excellence in Fintech awards.
  • Entrepreneur magazine looks at how recent investment trends are impacting the growth of fintech in the MENA region.
  • ADGM announces partnership with Bahrain’s central bank to encourage innovation in financial services in both the UAE and Bahrain.

Central and South Asia

  • Bangladeshi sales automation and credit assessment firm ShopUp picks up $1.62 million in seed round led by Omidyar Network.
  • Kazakhstan’s Bank CentreCredit buys 111 ATMs with integrated security and monitoring technology from BS/2.
  • TechCrunch interviews ZestMoney CEO Lizzie Chapman on the building a fintech startup in India.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Decision Report features Finn AI in a look at how chatbots are revolutionizing the financial sector. In Portuguese.
  • Banco Ficensa of Honduras goes live with new core banking technology from e-IBS.
  • Brazil’s Banco Bradesco partners with Japan’s MUFG Bank to develop Ripple-based cross-border payments service.

Asia-Pacific

  • Singapore’s Grab raises $50 million in new funding from Thailand-based Kasikornbank; unveils co-branded mobile wallet, GrabPay by KBank.
  • Courtesy of a joint venture with China’s LianLian, American Express becomes the first foreign card scheme to gain direct access to China’s payment card market.
  • Ondot Systems announces new end-to-end digital card services platform for Asian banks.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Kenyan fintech startup Pezesha unveils financial education academy to help educate would-be borrowers.
  • Rand Merchant Investment Holding (RMI) via AlphaCode, awards R16 million to eight South African fintech startups.
  • Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo urges the nation’s banks to make reforms in order to “cope” with what he called “a quick convergence between technology and financial products.”

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Tinkoff Mobile extends service to seven additional areas of Russia including Smolensk and the Republic of Mordovia.
  • Czech Republic’s Moneta embraces cloud-based banking with test of automatic application deployment in the AWS environment.
  • Russian microfinance company MFC Zaymer joins automated P2P platform, Robo.cash.

Top image designed by Freepik

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Thought Machine Announces Strategic Partnership with Lloyds Banking Group.

Around the web

  • OutSystems announces its partner of the year awards.
  • A €5.5 billion independent French bank will deploy Ambit Focus, a regulatory reporting as a service solution from FIS.
  • eToro invests $1 million into cryptocurrency experiment, GoodDollar, designed to reduce wealth inequality.
  • Dell Small Business’ BetaKit interviews Finn.AI co-founder and COO, Natalie Cartwright.
  • Signicat launches new B2B document signing solution, Signicat Business Signature.
  • Backbase names Capgemini its Global Solution Partner of the Year.

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.

Finn AI Closes $11 Million Series A

One of the big stars of last year’s FinovateAsia, Finn AI, continues to make big headlines. The company, whose AI-powered virtual assistant technology has earned it two Finovate Best of Show awards, has picked up $11 million in new funding (CAD $14 million). The Series A round was led by Yaletown Partners and Flying Fish Partners, and featured participation from BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Fund, 1843 Capital, and angel investors.

“We’ve seen great progress in our business over the last twelve months, doubling our team to over 50 across North America and acquiring a number of major new customers and partners,” co-founder and CEO of Finn AI Jake Tyler said. “As the market moves beyond early experiments into scale production deployments we are seeing greater demand for our proven enterprise-grade Conversational AI platform.”

Tyler added that the funding would support the company’s growth in North America and Europe. The investment will also enable Finn AI to innovate on its enterprise technology and extend its core solution to support additional banking and personal finance capabilities for its current customers.

As part of the investment, Eric Bukovinsky of Yaletown Partners and Frank Chang of Flying Fish Partners will join Finn AI’s board of directors.

At FinovateFall 2017 last September, Finn AI demonstrated how its virtual banking assistant, integrated with Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant, could be used to complete everyday banking and personal finance tasks. Leveraging bot technology and artificial intelligence, Finn AI’s solution supports payments, budgeting, and savings. And while the virtual assistant is capable of answering a wide range of support queries without any human intervention, the technology is also able to bring in human agents to respond to more complex requests.

“Banks around the world are rapidly adopting Conversational AI to deepen relationships with customers, drive sales, and migrate routine, high volume tasks and queries to digital self-serve channels,” Bukovinsky said. “Finn AI has proven it can deliver with major banks across North America, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. We’re excited to support them in this next stage of their growth.”

Finn AI was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with Visa Canada, leveraging the Visa Development Platform APIs to enhance its conversational AI technology. This spring, Finn AI teamed up with Bank of Montreal (BMO) to power the bank’s personal banking chatbot, BMO Bolt. The company also collaborated with Nicaragua’s biggest bank, Banpro, in March, to offer the company’s first Spanish-speaking virtual banking assistant.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Finn AI Closes $11 Million Series A.
  • Plaid Signs Open Banking Agreement with JPMorgan.
  • Moven Enterprise Goes Global.

Around the web

  • Klarna pairs up with Rancourt to let shoppers pay over time.
  • Credit Karma launches new personalized shopping experience.
  • Temenos ramps up AI efforts to power its digital banking platform.
  • Feedzai launches AI-powered Feedzai Genome to help users visualize and fight financial crime.
  • Jumio stays ahead of fraudsters with certified 3D liveness detection.
  • Clover announces additions to its Partner Portfolio with enhanced integrations with Nav, AP Intego Insurance Group, and Gusto.
  • Ayondo forms white label agreement with Phnom Penh Derivative Exchange to provide TradeHub for derivative brokers trading CFDs for PPDE’s clients in Cambodia.

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

  • PayPal Acquires Simility for $120 Million.
  • Finovate Favorites: A Baker’s Dozen of Best of Show Winners.
  • Touché, OCBC Bank Bring Fingerprint Authentication to In-Person Commerce.
  • P2Binvestor Earns $17+ Million in Funding.
  • Veridium Earns $150,000 Grant.
  • Newchip Lands $2 Million in Seed Funding.

Around the web

  • Experian secures FCA accreditation to supply Open Banking and PSD2 services.
  • Finn AI is the latest fintech to join Temenos Marketplace.
  • CFSI names financial health leaders: Envestnet | Yodlee, Finicity, Handle Financial, Lendstreet, Lend Up, Lending Club, Moven, and Simple.

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.

Best of Show Winner Finn AI Partners with Visa Canada to Boost Chatbot Capabilities

Visa Canada and Finn AI have teamed up to offer new capabilities in conversational banking chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI), powered by the Visa Developer Platform, reports Antony Peyton of Fintech Futures (Finovate’s sister publication).

The Vancouver-based fintech firm will use Visa Developer Platform APIs to enhance its conversational AI technology to “provide a more personalised experience” for banks to interact with their customers.

Jake Tyler, CEO at Finn AI, said: “This will help banks meet consumers’ needs on their terms, allowing them to set travel notifications, flag fraudulent transactions, manage subscriptions and more – as easily as chatting to their friends – 24/7 in the channels of their choice.”

For example, users could ask “Where is the closest ATM?” or “Please cancel my card” using Finn AI technology and the APIs.

A customer could chat with a virtual assistant and follow a process to ensure their cards are optimised while they are travelling.

Or they could turn on travel notifications before departing, retrieving foreign exchange rates while at the airport, and locating the nearest ATM at their destination.

A customer can also disable a misplaced card to ensure protection against fraudulent transactions through a “simple, natural conversation”.

Other Finn AI partnerships include ATB Financial, Bank of Montreal (BMO), Banpro Grupo Promerica in Nicaragua, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Finn AI made its Finovate debut at FinovateAsia 2016, winning Best of Show. The company returned to the Finovate stage the following fall for FinovateFall 2017, once again taking home top honors for a demonstration of its virtual banking assistant.

Finn AI has raised $3 million in funding and includes Yaletown Partners, Flying Fish Partners and angel investor John Livingston among its investors.

Finn.ai Powers BMO’s New Banking Chatbot, BMO Bolt

Finn.ai, a Canada-based developer of conversational banking tech, has launched a new personal banking chatbot for the Bank of Montreal (BMO), reports Tanya Andreasyan of Banking Technology (Finovate’s sister publication).

The chatbot – called BMO Bolt – is available via Facebook Messenger, which is Canada’s “top messaging platform” according to Finn.ai.

84% of the country’s population uses a smartphone to access Facebook and 38% performs mobile banking tasks via mobile phones, the vendor added.

Brett Pitts, chief digital officer at BMO Financial, observed that “digital is increasingly becoming the preferred way for our customers to engage with us on a daily basis.”

BMO Bolt is capable of answering 250 common inbound questions such as information on BMO products, foreign exchange rates, as well as branch locations and ATMs, 24×7. “It will learn to answer additional questions each time it interacts with a BMO customer, allowing the technology to continually evolve,” Finn.ai explained.

The project follows on from Finn.ai’s similar deals with a smaller Canadian financial institution, ATB Financial, and Banpro in Nicaragua. Finn.ai said it is “the first ever public launch of a chatbot with a national, tier one Canadian bank”.

Finn.ai is a two-time Finovate Best of Show winner, taking home top honors at FinovateAsia 2016 and FinovateFall 2017.  Founded in 2014, Finn.ai is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, and has raised $3 million in funding. Jake Tyler is CEO.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

Around the web

  • Two-time Best of Show winner Finn.ai launches Spanish-speaking virtual banking assistant with Nicaragua’s biggest bank, Banpro.
  • Fiserv to offer Mastercard’s anti-fraud solution, Decision Intelligence.
  • Former LinkedIn executive, Emilie Choi, joins Coinbase as VP of Corporate and Business Development.
  • Kabbage and Citi commit to new cybersecurity-based consortium for fintechs and data aggregators established by the World Economic Forum.
  • Onboarding friction and security concerns remain as obstacles to wider mobile banking adoption for consumers across age groups according to joint review by Javelin and identify verification specialist Jumio.

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

  • Wealthfront Launches Homeownership Planning Tool.
  • Kabbage to Serve Larger Businesses by Expanding Line of Credit to $250k.
  • BlueVine Boosts Invoice Factoring Credit Line to $5 Million.
  • TESOBE’s Open Bank Project Powering Santander’s First Hackathon. Come see TESOBE’s Open Bank Project at FinovateEurope in March.

Around the web

  • Playtech integrates Featurespace’s real-time gameplay fraud detection into IMS.
  • ATB Financial joins SecureKey Concierge Authentication Service.
  • Blackhawk Network partners with Casey’s General Stores to enable ‘cash customers’ with Amazon Cash.
  • TIBCO and Singapore Polytechnic collaborate to address skills shortage for SMEs.
  • Finabank selects Temenos for end-to-end technology.
  • Finastra acquires FX e-trading platform, Olfa Soft SA.
  • 4finance Group to deploy AML and KYC compliance solutions from FICO.
  • Best of Show winner Finn.ai hires former Twitter executive Stephen Morse as new head of global strategic accounts.
  • Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation (NMAC) joins AutoGravity platform.

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.

The Faves of FinovateAsia: A Brief History of Best of Show Winners

With FinovateAsia less than one week away, it’s worth noting that the history of our Asian conference is a short, but illustrative one. Consider this: of the twelve companies awarded Best of Show from our three FinovateAsia conferences in 2012, 2013, and 2016, more than half are multiple-time Best of Show winners, having impressed audiences in London, Silicon Valley, and New York City, as well as Singapore and Hong Kong. And three of the companies have also been the targets of major acquisitions: IND Group by MisysEyeVerify by Ant Financial, and Yodlee by Envestnet.

So, other than winning multiple Best of Show awards and being acquired by major players in finance and technology, what have the Best of Show winners of FinovateAsia from last year been up to in the time since? See for yourself below.

FinovateAsia 2016Best of Show

Alpha Payments Cloud (demo)

The biggest news for Alpha Payments Cloud since winning Best of Show at FinovateAsia 2016 is likely the company’s comprehensive rebranding as Alpha Fintech in September. The move was designed to affirm the company’s status as “fintech’s first end-to-end middleware,” using a single API and UI to connect merchants and vendor suppliers across “the entire payments, risk, and commerce spectrum.”

Oliver Rajic, Alpha Fintech CEO added “Now with Alpha, (acquirers and gateways) can evolve to enable the right vendor combination for each unique requirement … thereby extending and enhancing their core solution subset.” Alpha Fintech has already made its first agreement under the new rebrand, teaming up with Payture, a major payment gateway in the CIS region. “Among the early adopters of the Alpha Fintech /Payture integration are businesses in Russia’s e-travel consumer market, which the company says is one of the largest segments of Russia’s e-commerce market.

Dynamics (demo)

Multiple-time Best of Show winner Dynamics announced a partnership with LG Electronics earlier this year. The agreement would put Dynamic’s Wireless Magnetic Communication (WMC) technology in LG Pay. The integration will enable LG mobile phones to transmit traditional magnetic stripe information wirelessly to traditional magnetic stripe readers.

“Dynamics has been building wireless magnetic communication solutions for nearly a decade and is widely considered the founder of the programmable magnetic stripe industry,” Dynamics CEO Jeff Mullen said. “Dynamics’ best-in-breed technology will help LG Pay reach hundreds of millions of new payment environments.”

EyeVerify (demo)

Acquired by Ant Financial Services Group just months before making its Best of Show-winning demonstration at FinovateAsia 2016, EyeVerify has hardly rested on its laurels. This summer, for example, the company partnered with fellow Finovate alum Daon, adding Eyeprint ID to Daon’s IdentityX platform. But the biggest headlines from this multiple Best of Show winning company have to do with their rebrand as ZOLOZ back in August.

“When I announced almost a year ago that Ant Financial acquired EyeVerify, I said we want to do more,” company founder and CEO Toby Rush wrote at the company blog. “Today we publicly commit to providing a hosted identity platform that helps people manage their digital lives.” Rush described an initiative to bring identity services to the underserved and underbanked consumers of Asia, with plans to ultimately bring hosted identity solutions to markets in North America and Europe.

Finn.ai (demo)

With two Best of Show awards in two Finovate appearances, intelligent banking assistant developer Finn.ai must be doing something right. Finn.ai earned a spot in Payment Canada’s pitch competition, Dragon’s Den, and was recognized over the summer by Capegemini’s global InnovatorsRace and at the VivaTech conference in Paris, France. Finn. ai also announced a few days ago that ATB Financial would use Finn.ai’s technology to offer its 700,000 customers the first, fully-featured, AI-powered virtual banking assistant on Facebook Messenger.

But in addition to making friends and influencing people, Finn.ai is raising capital, as well. The company raked in $3 million in new funding in October, and plans to use the financing to help add technical talent to its team, as well as support the company’s expansion in the U.S. and around the world. Banking industry veteran, Carrie Russell, who will join Finn.ai as Strategic Executive Adviser, noted the importance in helping banks “move beyond transactional banking to build deeper, more personal relationships with customers.” Russell added “I believe Finn.ai is the right partner to do this, acting as a proactive virtual assistant to help customers understand, plan and take action to improve their financial lives.”

The rest of our FinovateAsia Best of Show winners are listed below:

FinovateAsia 2013Best of Show

FinovateAsia 2012Best of Show