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.

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.

Fiserv Buys Bypass Mobile for CX Improvements

Financial services firm Fiserv made its 32nd acquisition today. The Wisconsin-based company purchased Bypass Mobile, a company that specializes in software and POS systems. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is expected to help Fiserv support its clients in creating a seamless customer experience across physical and digital channels. By integrating with Fiserv’s universal commerce platform, Bypass will offer businesses a single point of contact. As a result, businesses will benefit from increased operational efficiency, enhanced security, and a more complete picture of customer interaction.

“Adding Bypass to our portfolio will make it easier for our clients to realize their digital transformation strategy, delivering interactions their customers are demanding,” said Fiserv Senior Group President of Global Business Solutions Devin McGranahan. “With this combination, we will improve the omni-commerce experience for businesses and their customers, making it easier and more efficient to pay for goods and services.”

Specifically, Bypass will enable secure Fiserv clients to accept payments in a secure environment across multiple devices. “In combination with Fiserv, we will help businesses accept payments efficiently while continuing to meet customer expectations by providing a variety of payment options,” explained Bypass CEO Brandon Lloyd.

Fiserv was founded in 1984. While the company’s most recent purchase was Merchant Pro Express earlier this month, its most notorious one in recent memory was the acquisition of First Data in January of last year. That deal closed for $22 billion.

Morningstar to Buy PlanPlus Global

Investment research firm Morningstar announced today it has agreed to acquire PlanPlus Global, a Canada-based financial planning software firm that was founded in 1990.

The Chicago-based company is eyeing PlanPlus Global not only for its financial planning and risk profiling software but also for its geographic location. Morningstar, which just months ago agreed to buy Australia-based AdviserLogic, has been seeking to expand its financial planning services to advisors across the globe.

Morningstar Canada President and CEO Scott Mackenzie said, “This is an investment for growth in the financial-planning arena, and we look forward to the rich expertise and long-standing relationships PlanPlus Global employees will bring to the Morningstar family.”

Morningstar will offer PlanPlus Global’s FinaMetrica Profiler as a standalone product but will also integrate it into its existing solutions, including Morningstar Advisor Workstation and Morningstar Enterprise Components. Morningstar will also use PlanPlus Global’s financial-planning solution, ProPlanner, to bolster its current offerings in Canada.

“When it comes to finding a large, strategic fintech partner that can help us scale our solutions in the marketplace and enhance the value to our users globally, Morningstar is the perfect fit,” said Shawn Brayman, founder and CEO of PlanPlus Global. Brayman and his team of 40 employees will join Morningstar’s workforce of 5,230.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close next quarter, were not disclosed.

Envestnet | Yodlee Acquires Indian Data Aggregator FinBit.io

Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels

Envestnet | Yodlee has acquired another asset in its strategy to further grow and develop its data aggregation and analytics business.

The company has purchased India-based FinBit.io, a data analytics platform that offers a scoring solution, BankScore, designed to help people who struggle to obtain credit due to a poor or insufficient credit history. Both companies are Finovate alums: Envestnet | Yodlee made its last Finovate appearance at FinovateFall in New York back in September; FinBit.io made its Finovate debut at FinovateAsia last fall in Singapore.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The deal was completed on February 18th.

Envestnet sees the acquisition as accelerating innovation within the company, fueling the ability of the firm to market compliant solutions to new and existing customers in the region. As part of the deal, FinBit.io founder and CEO Prashant Paliwal will lead Yodlee FinSoft, an Envestnet | Yodlee subsidiary focused on the account aggregation business in India and Asia.

Envestnet | Yodlee Chief Executive for Data and Analytics Stuart DePina called India and Asia strategically important to the company, and highlighted the account aggregator ecosystem in India as one of the more vibrant developments in fintech. “We are delighted to empower millions of consumers in India with state-of-the-art Account Aggregator technology and superior user experiences that will allow them to share consented data seamlessly across platforms enabling speedy solutions such as the real-time processing of personal loan applications,” DePina explained.

“Our vision is to empower consumers with the ability to permit the aggregation of their financial data so that holistic analytics can be made available to valuable services like affordable credit, personal finance management, and even accounting,” FinBit.io’s Paliwal said. Paliwal, who founded the Bangalore-based company in 2017, said the acquisition would enable FinBit.io to expand its product portfolio and scale its offerings. Paliwal is a Yodlee veteran, running the company’s APAC fintech business before launching FinBit.io.

Envestnet acquired multiple Finovate Best of Show winning Yodlee in 2015 for $660 million. Founded in 1999, the company has more than 25 million users around the world and 1,200+ financial institution partners including 15 of the top 20 U.S. banks. The publicly-traded firm, ENV on the New York Stock Exchange, has a market capitalization of $4 billion.

Morgan Stanley Acquires eTrade in $13 Billion Deal

E*TRADE, the digital brokerage behind the stock trading baby commercials in the early 2000s (remember those?) has agreed to be acquired by investment banking giant Morgan Stanley. The all-stock transaction is valued at $13 billion.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Since it was founded in 1982, E*TRADE has built up 5.2 million client accounts and $3.6 billion in assets under management. This will bolster Morgan Stanley’s 3 million client relationships and $2.7 trillion in assets under management. Adding E*TRADE’s digital capabilities to Morgan Stanley’s more traditional offerings will grant Morgan Stanley a more well-rounded approach that ranges from high tech to high touch.

“E*TRADE represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our Wealth Management business and a leap forward in our Wealth Management strategy. The combination adds an iconic brand in the direct-to-consumer channel to our leading advisor-driven model, while also creating a premier Workplace Wealth provider for corporations and their employees,” said Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman. “In addition, this continues the decade-long transition of our firm to a more balance sheet light business mix, emphasizing more durable sources of revenue.”

Logistically, E*TRADE CEO Mike Pizzi will lead Morgan Stanley’s E*TRADE business and be charged with overseeing the integration. “By joining Morgan Stanley, we will be able to take our combined offering to the next level and deliver an even more comprehensive suite of wealth management capabilities,” said Pizzi. “Bringing E*TRADE’s brand and offerings under the Morgan Stanley umbrella creates a truly exciting wealth management value proposition and enables our collective team to serve a far wider spectrum of clients.”

Today’s deal comes at a time when brokerages across the U.S. are in a race to zero, lowering trading fees as much as possible to compete with consumer attention. Last year Charles Schwab eliminated fees for stock trades and a month later bought TD Ameritrade for $26 billion.

Ally Financial to Acquire CardWorks in $2.65 Billion Deal

Digital financial services company Ally Financial announced this week that it will acquire non-prime credit card and consumer financing company CardWorks. The deal, which has been approved by both companies’ boards, is valued at $2.65 billion ($1.35 billion in cash and $1.3 billion in Ally stock).

The acquisition adds a top-20 U.S. credit card platform and a top-15 merchant acquiring business to Ally Financial’s direct bank deposit, auto financing, insurance, and commercial product lines. The combined entity will serve 11+ million customers in 50 states when the transaction is closed in Q3 of this year.

CardWorks founder, chairman, and CEO Don Berman praised Ally Financial as an “ideal partner” for the “people-centric, compliance-focused” and technology-enabled organization he built in 1987. “In leveraging Ally’s commitment to innovation and adaptiveness, the combined company will be well positioned to meet the financial needs of our ever-growing customer base and deliver sustainable growth and performance,” he said. After the deal is closed, Berman will join both Ally Financial’s Board of Directors as well as the company’s executive management team.

Detroit, Michigan-based Ally Financial was founded 101 years ago as the General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) and retained that name until 2010. The company is one of the largest auto financing firms in the U.S. by volume, and is a top-20 U.S. bank by assets ($180+ billion). Ally Financial trades on the NYSE under the ticker ALLY, and has a market capitalization of $10 billion.

Ally Financial also has an online bank, Ally Bank, which is headquartered in Sandy, Utah, and offers mortgage financing as well as deposit and other banking services. As part of the acquisition, CardWorks subsidiary Merrick Bank will merge into Ally Bank.

Flywire Closes $120 Million Investment, Acquires Healthcare Payments Platform

It’s a big week for Flywire. The global payments platform made a dual announcement yesterday that it closed a round of funding and sealed the deal on an acquisition.

The $120 million in funding brings Flywire’s total raised to $260 million. Goldman Sachs led the Series E round. The Massachusetts-based company will use the funding to digitize payments across education, healthcare, and travel.

“We are thrilled to lead the Series E round for Flywire”, said Ashwin Gupta, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division. “They bring together a unique blend of a payments network, platform and vertical-specific solutions to completely digitize the payments experience for their clients across industries. We look forward to continuing to help accelerate Flywire’s growth.”

Along with the investment news, Flywire unveiled that it has acquired healthcare billing and payment solutions company Simplee for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition blends Flywire’s tech platform with Simplee’s solution that focuses on patients and providers. The combined companies power four of the top ten U.S. healthcare systems and together process $10 billion+ in payments per year.

“Flywire is uniquely built on a global payments network, which is the cornerstone of how we move billions of dollars across 200+ countries and 150 currencies, and an industry-leading payments platform” said Flywire CEO Mike Massaro. “This digital foundation enables us to develop vertical-specific applications that make payments more efficient and cost-effective for our global clients. The Simplee acquisition improves patient engagement and healthcare affordability and extends these capabilities to a broader customer base.”

Flywire, which originally launched has peerTransfer in 2009, has processed $12 billion+ in payments for 2,000 clients. The company has office locations at its headquarters in Boston, as well as Chicago, London, Manchester, Valencia, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Cluj, and Sydney. 

Worldline to Acquire Ingenico in $8.6 Billion Deal

The combination of Worldline and Ingenico will create the world’s fourth largest payment services provider with 20,000 workers in 50 countries serving nearly one million merchants and 1,200 financial institutions.

Worldline announced today that it would acquire Ingenico for $8.6 billion (€7.8 billion) in a stock and cash deal. The combination would give the new entity broad reach across Europe – blending Ingenico’s strength in Germany, the Nordic countries, and France, with Worldline’s strong presence in Switzerland and Austria. The acquisition also will help the companies expand and take advantage of opportunities in the U.S., Asia, and Latin America.

Worldline Chairman and CEO Gilles Grapinet will be CEO of the combined entity. Bernard Bourigeaud, Ingenico Chairman, will take the role of non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors once the deal is closed.

“I am proud to announce that today is a great day for Worldline and for Ingenico, and more widely for our Payment industry,” Grapinet said in a statement. “Together we create the European World-Class leader in digital payments.” In praising the Ingenico team and its leadership, Grapinet also highlighted two areas – online payments and merchant acquiring – where he expected the new entity to excel.

In his statement, Bourigeaud put the deal in the context of the other recent mega mergers – FIS and Worldpay, Fiserv and First Data, TSYS and Global Payments – in the payments space. “The combination of Worldline and Ingenico offers a unique opportunity to create the undisputed European champion in payments on par with the largest international players,” he said. “This transaction comes at (a) time of accelerating consolidation of the industry and I am convinced that the joined forces of both leaders will deeply transform the industry.”

Worldline estimates that the new company will have projected 2019 net revenues of $5.8 billion (€5.3 billion) and operating margins of $1.3 billion (€1.2 billion).

An alum of our FinovateEurope conference, Worldline demonstrated its Worldline Connected Piggy Bank solution at our London event in 2017. The offering helps provide financial education for children, encouraging savings at an early age by combining an actual, physical piggy bank with a mobile app and savings account.

Paga Acquires Apposit, Announces Geographic Expansion

Mobile money operator Paga is poised for growth. The Nigeria-based fintech acquired U.S. software company Apposit and announced plans to expand its services geographically.

Apposit was founded in 2007 and builds software to power African tech businesses. The region is, as the company states on its website, a place where “formidable challenges and exceptional opportunities abound.”

Paga will leverage Apposit to expand into Ethiopia, a country that deals with similar cash and payment issues to Nigeria. To help fuel the expansion, the company will tap the experience of Apposit Co-founder and CEO Adam Abate, who will serve as CEO of Paga Ethiopia.

Through the acquisition, Paga Founder and CEO Tayo Oviosu said, “we not only gain a scalable world-class internal engineering team, but we also are in a stronger position to grow our global payments business.”

Paga and Apposit first partnered in 2009. After bringing on Apposit’s 62 employees, Paga’s staff now totals 530+ people. Additionally, the company adds Addis Ababa, London, and Mexico City to its list of office locations.

“Last year we refined our mission and vision to birth our massive transformative purpose: To make it simple for one billion people to access and use money,” added Oviosu. “Apposit has demonstrated strong alignment with our purpose and they have some of the very best engineers I have been privileged to work with, in over two decades in technology in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.”

Terms of today’s deal were not disclosed.

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. Finovate’s own David Penn covered the story for us on Monday, and virtually everyone in the fintech space is talking about it.

What you might not know, though, is that Plaid was on stage at one of our events way back in 2014. At that point they were already well on their way – they were close to signing their 1,000th customer, and they had already signed companies from spaces like lending, payments, expenses and accounting, asset management, and PFM. In the years following their time on stage, we’ve seen countless demoing companies come across our stage who relied on Plaid to underpin their offerings from a wide variety of areas.

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:

  1. A valuable tool can be worth more than what you build with it. The old saying goes something like “in the gold rush, it’s better to sell pickaxes than mine for gold.” That’s precisely what Plaid did, putting together a product that was attractive to a wide variety of fintech companies to capitalize on the massive wave of fintech startups that came through the last decade. Whether those startups survived or not, Plaid became a part of all of them, guaranteeing their own payday and removing the uncertainty that so many fintech startups faced.
  2. Simplicity is an asset. Plaid’s API is simple to understand,  install, and build on, which has made it attractive to developers from across fintech. This simplicity also means that the tech is highly versatile, floating easily from one field to another.
  3. Connections are vital. At the time that Plaid was gaining momentum, the API world was a very competitive one, with a lot of providers fighting to get adopted. The technology itself was very important, obviously, but so was the work they did in coming to events like FinDEVr to make sure that developers knew what their code could do. The ability to evangelize for your product is crucial to success, and building momentum frequently has to be done through face-to-face connections with influencers in the industry.

There are many more lessons to be drawn from Plaid’s example, but for innovators in the space, those three lessons seem the most important to me. Plaid’s connections, simplicity, and business strategy put them in a position to succeed and become the latest fintech royalty. Congratulations to them on their success, and the challenge is laid out for the rest of the industry to follow in their footsteps.

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.