How Financial Services and Fintechs are Empowering People with Disabilities

It is a truism that many of our greatest technological innovations have come as a result of trying to empower people challenged with physical limitations. Whether the circumstances are sensory, mobility-oriented, or cognitive, the role of technology for many of us is to make the phrase “differently-abled” something more than a politically-correct euphemism.

The rise of mobile banking itself has been a tremendous boon for many disabled customers, rendering unnecessary those often-expensive, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous regular visits to physical bank branches. Technologies that turn text-into-speech or that enable speech to drive digital processes have revolutionized access to financial services for those with sensory limitations. Even more modest innovations that enable seamless debit card spending controls and transaction monitoring are valuable tools not just for small business owners, but for caretakers of adults with limited cognitive capacity, as well.

In financial services, there have been even more focused efforts to serve the adults with disabilities. One is to build institutions that are dedicated to serving populations that have been overlooked in general because of “able-ism.” Purple is a challenger bank that was launched over the summer by a company called youBelong, who built the first social network for “people with special needs.” The bank is the evolution of youBelong’s mobile bank for families with special need children, youBelong Cash, and emphasizes financial literacy and education as a strategy for helping people with disabilities enjoy security and independence.

Founded by CEO John Ciocca, Purple offers a digital savings account with no hidden fees and no minimum balance. Account holders can set up their accounts to receive any Social Security Insurance and Disability payments they are eligible for. Access to PFM features such as money transfers and transaction tracking are included in Purple’s banking app. The accounts come with a Purple Mastercard Debit card, and Purple donates a portion of its revenues to the Special Olympics with every card transaction.

Among fintechs, True Link Financial is a company that has dedicated itself to improving the financial well-being of people with disabilities as well as vulnerable older adults. Payment cards that can be administered by a responsible family member or guardian on behalf of an intellectually-challenged adult, for example, are among True Link’s offerings. The company announced a $35 million Series B round over the summer and its founder and CEO, Kai Stinchcombe, highlighted the way the platform can serve people with disabilities.

“When we launched the True Link Card, it quickly became clear that its features could protect a wider range of people who weren’t being served by traditional financial institutions,” Stinchcombe wrote. “We found that people with disabilities and individuals in recovery from addiction could use our product to meet their unique needs and circumstances.”

Other Finovate alums – from Best of Show winner Golden to Eversafe – also have platforms geared toward helping vulnerable seniors that can be similarly leveraged to benefit members of the disabled community and their families.

Still there are significant challenges. According to a Pew Research Center study from 2017, the rate of technology adoption among the disabled across age groups lags behind those without disabilities – and significantly so in some areas. The home broadband gap between seniors with disabilities and seniors without disabilities is more than 20%. The smartphone gap between non-seniors (ages 18 to 64) with disabilities and non-seniors without disabilities is 17%. If anything, the research suggests that an emphasis on not just the disabled, but disabled seniors in particular – where smartphone and home broadband adoption rates are below 40% – would go a long way toward helping the neediest among those with disabilities.


Photo by Judita Tamošiūnaitė from Pexels

Fintech and the Case for Senior-Based Solutions

Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels

Recently I came across an interesting story of how tech native GenZ kids were being paired with aging Boomers to help them navigate a variety of contemporary technology tools – from their smartphones to their SnapChat apps.

At a time when sneers like “OK Boomer” quickly trend on social media, it was a refreshing reminder of the role younger generations can play in making some of the dramatic changes in society – including technology – easier for their older family members, friends, neighbors, and even perfect strangers to navigate.

With this in mind, I wanted to take a look at how entrepreneurs are leveraging fintech to do the same thing: make it easier for seniors to not just participate in online life, but to thrive there.

Ensuring that the online and mobile worlds are a safer place for seniors is one of the important contributions that technology can make. EverSafe, which introduced its solution to Finovate audiences at FinovateFall 2014, specializes in leveraging technology to help protect seniors against financial exploitation. The company’s software examines the senior’s financial transactions and credit report on a daily basis, looking for unexpected patterns and other anomalies that may indicate potentially fraudulent activity. Once suspicious activity is detected, the user is alerted immediately and, if the activity is confirmed, a resolution process is started.

Earlier this year, Eversafe lent its technology to researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in Portland. The goal is to help medical professionals uncover cognitive test markers that correlate with changes in the financial behavior of seniors. Interviewed in Alzheimer’s News Today, Dr. Kathy Wild noted that these insights could help determine when and to what extent independent living is the best option for a given senior. The results of Wild’s study are expected in 2021.

Eversafe was founded in 2012 by Howard Tischler, who is the company’s CEO. The firm is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland.

Best of Show winner at FinovateFall 2018, Golden offers technology geared toward helping older Boomers take care of their parents, many of whom are entering assisted living communities. The company’s Financial Caregiving Assistant app and Family Collaboration platform provide an array of services such as security for online accounts; automatic, on-time billpay; expense review; and a family document vault. The offering also helps seniors and caretakers to discover government benefits and drug discounts they may be eligible for. Partnerships with a variety of financial services companies gives Golden users the ability to offer branded services – including legal, financial, estate, and wealth management services – to their customers, as well.

The first company to win AARP’s Financial Innovation Award and Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Aging Innovation Challenge, Golden was launched in 2016 by CEO Evin Ollinger, and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Even among hardened fintech fans there was an audible gasp in the room when FinovateAsia 2019 Best of Show winner Bereev‘s CEO announced bluntly that her company’s goal was to help you “plan for your death.” Then again, it’s hard not to take a company that uses the Twitter hashtag #DeathPlan seriously.

Malaysia-based, Bereev digitizes and simplifies a life-planning process that is not only complex, but is also typically paper-intensive and burdensome. In explaining the origins of the company, founder and CEO Izumi Inoue compared the unexpected, end-of-life experience of her grandmother with the passing of her grandfather soon afterward, who had learned from his wife’s death the importance of end-of-life planning. And not just for important documents and the numbers to bank accounts, either. More personal instructions like which friends to contact were also a part of Inoue’s grandfather’s plan. They are a part of Bereev, as well.

A legacy planning solution, Bereev helps guide an individual’s family on what to do in the event of their injury, incapacitation, or death. Bereev has four components to building this contingency plan: a digital vault for important documents such as wills and insurance policies; the ability to record and save “last words” to be sent or shared with loved ones; and an accessibility console that enables the user to determine who gets access to which data and information in Bereev.

The fourth component is a guided journey that helps ensure that users provide clear instructions on how they want their affairs handled after death. The solution is set up so that all the user has to is answer a pair of questions each week, and Bereev will build out over time a personalized set of end-of-life instructions based on the user’s responses. “Before you know it,” Inoue said, “you’ll have very clear instructions left behind.”

Poignantly, Inoue notes that there are many innovations in technology in general and fintech in specific, that help you prepare and take advantage of the happier times in life: getting married, buying a first home, planning for a family. “But what about the darker and tougher times in life,” Inoue asks, “who is going to help you then? At Bereev, our goal is to help you cope through those difficult moments of life – with technology.”

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • EVRY Wins $75 Million Contract.
  • Best of Show Winner Voleo to Help Drive Social Trading in Europe.
  • FI.SPAN Raises $4 Million for U.K. and Australia Expansion.

Around the web

  • Sberbank offers clients new strategies for investment life insurance.
  • PaySend launches transfers to bank accounts and Napas cards in Vietnam.
  • Anorak earns a spot in FinSMEs’ Top 10 U.K. Insurtech Startups to Watch in 2019 roster.
  • Intuit relaunches its redesigned ProAdvisor program in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
  • DataSine and FinovateFall Best of Show winner Golden join the Envestnet | Yodlee Incubator’s latest cohort.
  • API platform provider for banking and insurance NDGIT announces strategic partnership with Synpulse.
  • James Finance, Ocrolus, Hydrogen, and iProov shortlisted for India FinTech Awards 2018.
  • PYMNTS highlights WePay Co-founder Rich Aberman in its latest podcast.
  • Jack Henry & Associates introduces a voice-driven consumer billpay solution.

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

  • Finablr Takes Majority Stake in Digital Gifting Innovator Swych.
  • Simple Appoints Former Amazon Exec as CEO.

Around the web

  • Analyst Ian McKenna highlights six Finovate alums – Access Softek, Bucket Technologies, Systelos, BlueRush, Tinkoff, and Golden – in his roundup of “fintech innovators making waves.”
  • Marketing Technology Insights interviews CallVU CEO Ori Faran.
  • Hydrogen, iProov, Ocrolus, and James Finance are among 20 startups competing for top honors at the India FinTech Awards 2018.
  • The Constant Investor’s Crypto Watch interviews Identitii CEO Nick Armstrong on the role of blockchain technology in fighting cybercrime.
  • Tinkoff Mobile extends service to seven additional areas of Russia including Smolensk and the Republic of Mordovia.
  • Kofax pays $400 million in cash to buy Nuance’s imaging division.
  • Walmart’s in-store Direct2Cash service gives PayActiv users instant cash access to earned wages.
  • Kony enhances Kony AppPlatform to support progressive web apps.
  • CEO Review magazine features AdviceRobo CEO Diederick Van Thiel.
  • BehavioSec launches new features for version 5 of its behavioral biometrics 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.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Gro Solutions Helps Vermont FCU Deliver Better Banking Experiences.
  • Bringing Legacy Banks into the 21st Century.

Around the web

  • Forbes features SMRTSVR from Vaultz and Best of Show winner Golden in its look at PFM apps for people over 50.
  • Blockchain technology pioneer, Dr. Stuart Haber, joins Endor’s scientific advisory board.
  • Bpm’online adds enhancements to accelerate sales, marketing, operations, service, and citizen development in its latest update.
  • IDC Financial Insights includes CREALOGIX in its top 100 fintech ranking.
  • Dorsum launches its MyWealth wealth management app at Dubai banking conference.
  • Betterment introduces new Trust Account Opening feature for its Betterment for Advisors platform.
  • Onfido announces partnership with international remittance platform, Remitly.

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.

 

FinovateFall 2018 Best of Show Winners Announced

Meet the Fantastic Five – the top vote-getters in this year’s Best of Show voting at FinovateFall 2018.

There’s a lot to love about the companies that took home top honors at this year’s autumn event. Maybe you are a fan of financial literacy, and believe that the best way to ensure a happy financial future is to invest in financial education at an early age. Perhaps you are looking for ways to better engage the customers at your bank or credit union, providing them with more personalized, intuitive solutions to improve their financial lives.

From the challenge of helping aging parents manage their finances and avoid scams to innovative strategies to turn everyday purchases into investments in the stock market, the Best of Show winners of FinovateFall 2018 are a diverse group. And that diversity reflects the fascinating breadth of what it means to be a fintech company today.

With that, let’s meet our Fantastic Five. Four of them are Finovate newcomers and the fifth, Meniga, is both a long time alum and multiple Best of Show award winner.

Banzai for its industry-leading, turnkey, CRA eligible, experience-based learning solutions that help users master personal finance. Video.

 

Bond.AI for its human-centered AI platform, powered by the world’s first “Empathy Engine,” that helps banks better understand user behavior and encourage them to improve their financial health. Video.

 

Bumped for its technology that enables brands to give their customers free stock for their purchases, turning loyal shoppers and spenders into shareholders. Video.

 

Golden for its Financial Caregiving app and website that socializes wealth and daily money management across generations, helping 75 million baby boomers who are taking financial care of their 50 million senior parents. Video.

 

Meniga for its white-label, digital banking solutions that enable banks to build customer engagement and help customers improve their financial lives. Video.


Notes on methodology:
1. Only audience members NOT associated with demoing companies were eligible to vote. Finovate employees did not vote.
2. Attendees were encouraged to note their favorites during each day. At the end of the last demo, they chose their three favorites.
3. The exact written instructions given to attendees: “Please rate (the companies) on the basis of demo quality and potential impact of the innovation demoed.”
4. The five companies appearing on the highest percentage of submitted ballots were named “Best of Show.”
5. Go here for a list of previous Best of Show winners through 2014. Best of Show winners from our 2015 through 2018 conferences are below:
FinovateEurope 2015
FinovateSpring 2015
FinovateFall 2015
FinovateEurope 2016
FinovateSpring 2016
FinovateFall 2016
FinovateAsia 2016
FinovateEurope 2017
FinovateSpring 2017
FinovateFall 2017
FinovateAsia 2017
FinovateMiddleEast 2018
FinovateEurope 2018
FinovateSpring 2018