Four Fintechs Crowned Unicorns in the First 3 Weeks of 2021

There’s not much room in 2021 for 2020-style pessimism. Sure, if you look, you can find plenty of things to be negative about so far this year. However, one aspect of 2021 that’s giving fintechs hope is the recent uptick in valuations across the fintech sector.

Despite last year’s global events, many fintechs received valuations exceeding $1 billion. In fact, in December 2020 alone, four fintechs, including eToro, Creditas, PhonePE, and GoCardless, received unicorn status.

This year seems to be off to a similarly bullish start, with four fintechs becoming unicorns in just the first three weeks of 2021:

Digit Insurance

India-based Digit Insurance became India’s first unicorn of 2021 after the country saw 11 new unicorns in 2020. Just 15 days into the new year, and after raising $18.5 million, Digit Insurance unveiled a new valuation of $1.9 billion.

Divvy

Spend management startup Divvy received a valuation of $1.6 billion after its Series D round on January 5. The $165 million came from new investors PayPal Ventures, Whale Rock, Schonfeld, and previous backers NEA, Insight Venture Partners, Acrew, and Pelion. The pandemic has spurred increased traffic to Utah-based Divvy; the startup has experienced a 500% increase in monthly sign-ups since March 2020.

Mambu

SaaS banking platform Mambu earned its unicorn title after landing a $135 million investment on January 7. The boost gave the Germany-based company a post-money valuation of just over $2 billion. Mambu will use the funds to increase its presence in Brazil, Japan, and the U.S.

MX

The second fintech unicorn to come out of Lehi, Utah is fintech data company MX. Founded in 2010, MX raised $300 million in Series C funding on January 13, bringing the company’s total capital to $505 billion and boosting its valuation to $1.9 billion. Company CEO Ryan Caldwell said that MX will use the funds to hire more staff and improve its data collection and enhancement capabilities.


Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

MX Raises $300 Million in Series C Funding; Becomes Fintech’s Latest Unicorn

Some fintech observers may have gotten an inadvertent peek at the news yesterday. But today the big funding rumor has been confirmed: Less than a week after announcing its strategic partnership with fellow Finovate alum Hydrogen, money experience innovator MX is back in the fintech headlines with word of a $300 million fundraising.

TPG Growth led the round with a $150 million commitment. Also participating were existing investors CapitalG, Geodesic Capital, Greycroft, Canapi Ventures, Digital Garage, Point72 Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners, and Regions Financial Corporation. The Series C round takes MX’s total capital to $505 million and increases the firm’s valuation to $1.9 billion – making MX fintech’s latest unicorn.

In a statement, company CEO Ryan Caldwell said that in addition to hiring more talent, MX will use the capital to boost its platform’s data collection and enhancement capabilities. He specifically mentioned the importance of “scaling and finding additional ways to market” which underscores MX’s recent forays into embedded finance and its just-announced partnership with Hydrogen.

“The financial industry is at an inflection point as organizations look to become not only intermediaries, but true advocates for their customers by offering personalized insights and data-driven money experiences,” Caldwell explained. “Along with incredible partners, we are helping financial institutions and technology companies accelerate their digital roadmaps and launch next generation services and apps that will fundamentally transform how people interact with their money.”

MX helps businesses turn raw, unstructured data into valuable, insight-rich assets. This empowers them to build new solutions and services for their customers, drive growth, and boost brand loyalty. In addition to cleaning and categorizing data, MX’s technology adds key metadata that enables companies to better fight fraud, make faster loan approvals, and help their customers make better financial decisions.

In the funding announcement, Derek Zanutto of CapitalG praised MX’s ability to “leverage data strategically” and favorably compared MX’s potential impact on the financial industry to that of Netflix in the streaming content space and to Amazon in the e-commerce space. TPG Growth’s Mike Zappert noted that his firm was committed to investing in the digital transformation that is sweeping through financial services and sees MX as a big part of it. He called MX’s technology “a clear differentiator” that has delivered “tremendous growth for the Company over the last 12 months.”

MX currently works with more than 2,000 banks, credit unions, fintechs, and other companies, and includes 85% of digital banking providers among its partners. This has given the Lehi, Utah-based company a combined reach of more than 200 million consumers. A multiple Finovate Best of Show winner, MX last demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall 2019.

MX Announces Integration Partnership with Hydrogen

Two of Finovate’s most innovative alums – open finance/Money Experience specialist MX and financial data infrastructure company Hydrogen – have teamed up in an integration partnership that will make it easier for fintech developers to create sophisticated apps in minutes.

With access to account aggregation and enhanced data courtesy of MX’s financial data APIs, Hydrogen’s clients will be able to embed and secure accurate financial data connections into their solutions. The integration, according to Hydrogen, will improve the efficiency and cost savings of the development process by more than 80% – a major goal of the integration.

“We are very excited to formally launch this partnership with MX,” said Mike Kane, co-founder of Hydrogen. “As we tackle the enormous, embedded finance opportunity, our combined years of experience in working with financial institutions and technology companies made this a natural partnership for us.”

As part of the agreement, users of Hydrogen Money and Cards solutions (supporting PFM/BFM and card issuance functionality, respectively) will also be able to access additional MX solutions, including the company’s automated financial management and ML-powered insights, as well as MX’s account connections for money movement.

Calling the partnership a “perfect match on so many levels,” MX EVP of Partnerships Don Parker said that working with Hydrogen will help MX grow in the embedded finance market, which he called “an increasingly important opportunity” for the company. “The partnership opens up MX functionality to even more fintech companies and organizations that are already working to improve financial strength and access to quality financial tools,” Parker said.

Lehi, Utah-based MX most recently demonstrated its technology at FinovateFall in 2019. The multiple-time Best of Show winner showed how its MX Enabled platform helps financial institutions add to their product offerings by linking them with third-party fintechs through MX’s API ecosystem. More recently, MX forged partnerships with VyStar Credit Union and credit education company Borrowell. This spring, the company discussed how it developed a free, open-sourced loan application portal to facilitate PPP funds at the onset of the global health crisis.

Hydrogen made its Finovate debut in London in 2018. Headquartered in New York, the company announced a strategic investment from FINLAB, a new incubator created by EML Payments, back in November. Also last fall, Hydrogen announced that it had been selected for Plug and Play’s 2020 Winter fintech cohort, and unveiled partnerships with fellow Finovate alum Dwolla and market data services provider Barchart.

We featured Hydrogen’s report on the rise of payments-as-a-service in fintech in June.

MX Brings the Benefits of Data Enhancement to VyStar Credit Union

With more than $9 billion in assets, VyStar Credit Union is the latest community-based financial institution to partner with open finance money experience innovator MX. VyStar, one of the 20 largest credit unions in the U.S., will leverage MX’s data connectivity APIs, account aggregation, and data enhancement tools to enhance the online experience for its more than 735,000 members in Georgia and northeastern Florida.

“Our strategy is to harness innovation and strategic fintech relationships that provide the best experiences that will improve our members’ financial well-being, and this partnership with an innovative fintech like MX is a big step in furthering that strategy,” Joseph R. Colca, SVP of Digital Experience at VyStar Credit Union, said. “We’ve been impressed not only with MX’s world-class data enhancement tools, but also with the alignment of our missions to empower financial strength through member advocacy.”

The partnership will enable members of VyStar Credit Union to aggregate and view accounts from all of their financial institutions into a single interface. MX’s technology collects, cleanses, and enriches transaction data, providing insights that help users more accurately plan their financial futures, as well as take smarter financial actions in the present. VyStar believes that embracing the technology will enable the Jacksonville, Florida-based credit union to gain wallet share among its customers by removing any need to log in to other apps or websites.

“With MX, VyStar is giving its customers greater clarity into their finances, which is exactly the kind of innovation, partnership, and money experience that MX loves to enable through our powerful data platform,” Chief Customer Officer for MX Nate Gardner said.

A multiple time Finovate Best of Show winner, MX most recently demonstrated its technology last year at FinovateFall. A leading data platform for banks, credit unions, fintechs, and other financial services providers, MX offers solutions to quickly and accurately collect, enhance, analyze, and present financial data. The company enables financial institutions to better understand and serve their customers, and helps them empower their customers to make better, more informed financial decisions.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Lehi, Utah, MX has made headlines in recent months via its partnerships with companies like Borrowell, a leading credit education firm based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Advicent, a SaaS technology solution provider for financial advisors and planners headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Central Pacific Bank , a full-service financial institution based in Honolulu, Hawaii. Named to the 2020 CB Insights Fintech 250 and highlighted as one of the fastest growing companies in Utah, MX unveiled its open finance platform, MX Open, in September. Ryan Caldwell is co-founder and CEO.


Photo by Tina Nord from Pexels

Canada Partners with Swiss, U.S. Fintechs; Neobank Raises Millions in Mexico

When it comes to taking advantage of the best that the world’s fintech has to offer, you won’t find financial services companies in Canada sleeping on the job. This week in the country’s payments space, Toronto, Ontario-based Versapay announced its acquisition of Solupay, a contactless payments company based in Ohio. We also learned that FinovateEurope alum unblu, which offers a digital conversational platform for FIs from its headquarters in Basel Switzerland, had teamed up with Calgary, Alberta-based digital technology solutions provider Celero.

By the end of the week, Canada’s largest credit education company, Borrowell, announced that it was partnering with multiple Finovate Best of Show winner MX. Borrowell, the first company in Canada to offer free credit scores via its partnership with Equifax, has launched a new bill tracking feature called Boost on its app. The company will use MX’s data cleansing technology to improve Boost’s analysis of user spending behavior to help users make better financial planning decisions.

“With MX, Borrowell is giving its customers greater clarity into how they can become more financially strong as a means to increasing credit strength,” MX Chief Customer Officer Nate Gardner said. “It is exactly this kind of innovation, partnership and money experience that MX loves to enable through our powerful data platform.”


Last week we featured an extended Q&A with Eric Rosenthal, Vice President and Managing Director for the Americas with Rapyd. If you’re interested in learning more about the fintech ecosystem in one of the most overlooked regions of the world, our conversation with Eric Rosenthal is a great place to start.

With that in mind, congratulations to Mexican challenger bank Klar, which raised $15 million in Series A funding in a round led by Prosus Ventures this week. Founded in 2019, Klar now has approximately $72 million in total debt and equity financing, and noted that the new capital will help the company build its engineering capabilities in its hubs in Berlin and Mexico.

“Klar is making credit accessible to all Mexicans, including those with no credit history,” Klar co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Daniel Autrique said. “We help people build credit by looking at how and where they spend their money, instead of being stuck with traditional credit scores that are backward looking and obsolete.” The company said that, since inception, it has issued more than 25,000 lines of credit among its 200,000 customers.


Here is our look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Stripe makes inroads in Africa with acquisition of Paystack.
  • A partnership between Standard Bank, Mastercard, and Google will help SMEs in Africa offer their services online as well as accept digital payments.
  • Trading Technologies teams up with Cape Town-based Applied Derivatives, which will distribute the TT platform from South Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • PayRay, a factoring company based in Lithuania, receives banking license and begins banking operations in its home country.
  • Lithuanian online payments firm Interpaylink partners with iDenfy to provide remote user identification.
  • Advapay, a digital core banking platform provider based in Estonia, teams up with U.K.-based identity verification platform Sumsub.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Cairo, Egypt-based financial wellness platform NowPay raises $2.1 million in seed funding.
  • Central Bank of Bahrain launches the region’s first digital fintech lab, FinHub 973.
  • Commercial Bank of Dubai introduces cards and accounts for low-income consumers courtesy of partnership with Now Money.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Indian payments processor Razorpay secures $100 million in Series D funding, earning a valuation just over one billion.
  • Mastercard announces partnership with Indian regtech Signzy to bring the company’s video KYC technology to its banking customers.
  • Indian fintech Open partners with Equitas Small Finance Bank and Visa to offer business debit card.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazilian payment solutions provider Ebanx announces expansion of operations into five countries in Central and South America.
  • Venio, a mobile app that provides financing to the unbanked, goes live in Mexico.
  • Chile’s third largest bank, Banco de Crédito e Inversiones (BCI), partners with Temenos to launch new corporate bank in Peru.

Asia-Pacific

  • The People’s Bank of China holds lottery to distribute millions in digital yuan valued at $1.5 million.
  • Vietnamese online payment portal AppotaPay scores payment intermediary license from State Bank of Vietnam.
  • PayMaya, a mobile payments platform based in the Philippines, launches new mobile payment device PayMaya One Lite, that enables acceptance of a range of digital payment types.

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

New York’s Finest: Catching Up with FinovateFall’s Best of Show

What have the companies that won Best of Show awards at last year’s FinovateFall conference been up to in the months since our New York show? With our autumn event less than a month away, we thought it would be a great time to check in on the nine companies that took home top honors this time last year.


BlytzPayIntegrated its digital payments technology with Dealer Management Systems (DMS) leader ABCoA Deal Pack. Announced strategic partnership with AFS Dealers.

CinchyJoined the 2020 MassChallenge FinTech Program in December 2019 along with five fellow Finovate alums. The program noted that 70% of the participants in its previous cohort launched a pilot or proof of concept within a year. Earned a $500,000 cash prize as one of the winners of the 2019 VentureClash competition. Raised $10 million in funding in May.

College Aid ProPartnered with Horsesmouth, a company that provides educational and marketing solutions for financial advisors and their clients. Announced collaboration with the American Institute of Certified College Financial Consultants. Teamed up with online student loan refinancing marketplace Credible.

ebankITForged North American partnership with fellow Finovate alum Enterprise Engineering this spring. Announced updates to its multichannel banking platform.

GliaWon Best of Show at FinovateEurope for a second year in a row. Integrated its technology with fellow Finovate alum Alkami’s Online Banking Platform. Inked partnerships with 20 credit unions across the U.S.

MXTopped 50,000 direct-to-bank API agreements to major financial institutions and fintechs. Launched data connectivity API, Path by MX. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces 2020.

owl.coNamed one of Canada’s Most Innovative Tech Companies by the Canadian Innovation Exchange. Delivered $1 million in revenue within six months of launching.

Pinkaloo TechnologiesRaised $1.25 million in funding. Joined Goldman Sachs-owned Ayco Marketplace for financial counseling and wellness services. Partnered with Eastern Bank to power its Give for Good charitable giving program.

Zogo FinanceTeamed up with fellow Finovate alum Bankjoy. Announced partnerships with 11 community banks and credit unions across 12 states. Surpassed 1,000,000 financial literacy modules completed.


FinovateFall Digital 2020 kicks off Monday, September 14 and continues through Friday, September 18 with hours of live and on-demand content. Visit our registration page today and join us for Finovate’s biggest, digital-first event to date.


Photo by Yuting Gao from Pexels

How One Bank-Fintech Partnership is Working for Small Businesses

It’s no secret that small businesses have been struggling to secure funds with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Banks have wrestled not only to determine eligibility but also with the clumsy online application process.

After seeing how both banks and businesses were grappling with the application process, digital transformation expert MX stepped in to help. Days after the PPP went live, MX developed and launched a free, open-sourced loan application portal that allows banks and credit unions to offer their SMB clients a way to apply for a PPP loan on their own. By removing one step of the process, the new portal also eliminates the need for banks to manually re-enter the SMBs’ loan applications and ultimately drops the application time from 30 minutes to 30 seconds.

In an interview with Yahoo! Finance (below) MX CEO Ryan Caldwell described how MX’s tool levels the playing field and help smaller banks compete with larger banks in bringing home PPP funds for SMB clients.

This tool sparked the attention of Citizens Bank of Edmond, an Oklahoma-based bank with $260 million in assets. The bank has a front-row seat to the struggle of applying for PPP loans and teamed up with MX to create a self-serve application portal for its small business customers. Citizens Bank is one of 50 financial institutions leveraging MX’s SBA loan portal tool.

“Entrepreneurs and small businesses across the country are struggling due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 and it’s critical that we get stimulus funds into their hands as soon as possible,” said MX CTO and Co-Founder Brandon Dewitt. “Together with Citizens Bank of Edmond, we’re able to speed up the loan application process by providing small business owners with a self-service portal to apply for PPP loans, and providing loan officers a way to quickly approve and automatically submit applications for thousands of small business owners.”

After the money fueling the PPP loans dried up about a week ago, the program’s coffers were refilled yesterday morning with $310 billion in new funds to help keep small businesses afloat. “Speeding up the loan application process for small businesses can mean the difference between these businesses surviving and thriving or closing their doors and laying off employees,” said Jill Castilla, President and CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond. Castilla emphasized that MX’s portal prepared Citizens Bank to ready its operations and give its SMB clients a leg up. “By partnering with MX, we’ve been able to launch the new SBA portal for round two of stimulus funds, ensuring that our small business customers have the best possible experience as they apply for and get approved for crucial stimulus funds.”

Caldwell expects this second wave of PPP funding will bring banks 10x more loan applications than they saw in the first round. He made it clear that the banks that will be best prepared to serve their customers with this new tranche of PPP funds will be the ones that are putting data to use by aggregating business’ financial data– even without a prior banking relationship– in order to understand their risk. “Banks are realizing that not having access to that data already built into their platform not only limits them on a daily basis but surely limits them in a crisis like this,” Caldwell said.

MX is a longtime Finovate veteran, having won Best of Show for seven of its demos, including one for the company’s most recent appearance at FinovateFall 2019. Check out the award-winning demo below:

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • ti&m and aixigo Partner to Digitize Wealth Management.
  • TransferWise Inks International Payments Deal with EQ Bank.
  • Coinbase’s New Partnership Helps Give Back with Crypto.

Around the web

  • ThetaRay Names Edward Sander as Chief Product Officer.
  • Frontier Communications deploys Neustar Certified Caller STIR/SHAKEN technology across its IP network to digitally certify phone calls.
  • Citi and PayPal expand partnership for institutional clients.
  • Worldline and CashSentinel partner to provide a payment solution to comply with Swiss and European online marketplaces.
  • Alaska USA Federal Credit Union selects MX to power mobile banking platform.
  • Minna Technologies deepens partnership with OP Financial Group.
  • Chetu continues European expansion, opens new UK office.

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

  • Paper.id lands funding to power digital invoicing for SMEs in Indonesia.

Around the web

  • BlueVine launches BlueVine Business Banking.
  • Salt Edge unveils Salt Edge Authenticator for strong customer authentication and dynamic linking.
  • Jack Henry’s PayCenter helps first 15 bank clients join RTP network.
  • AccountScore and Equifax debut credit risk index to help lenders better understand loan applicants.
  • Personal Capital celebrates 10 years in wealthtech with a brand refresh.
  • MX ships new tool to help consumers manage and cancel recurring subscriptions.
  • Swaper’s three years milestones: 2800 investors have funded over 7 million Euros in loans.
  • Envestnet | Yodlee releases Intelligent APIs to further personalize financial wellness tools.
  • myGini completes PCI Level 1 compliance audit.
  • FinTech Global recognizes Insuritas as InsurTech 100 Member.

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 Demo Videos Are Live

Maybe you missed your chance to attend FinovateFall earlier this month. Or maybe you want to watch your favorite demos over again. Either way, today’s your day. We’ve just released all of the videos from the 75 companies that demoed their fintech on stage.

All of the 7-minute demos are available to stream and download for free at Finovate.com. And if you don’t know where to begin, we’ll get you started with the nine demos that won Best of Show at the event.

BlytzPay

Cinchy

College Aid Pro

ebankIT

Glia

MX

owl.co

Pinkaloo Technologies

Zogo Finance

FinovateFall Best of Show Winners Announced

The votes have been cast and the ballots counted. And after two days of live fintech demos from 75 innovative companies, here are the best of the best: the companies our attendees have deemed FinovateFall’s Best of Show.

BlytzPay for its text-to-pay solution that makes billing and communication simple, streamlined, and secure while providing flexibility to pay by card, check, or cash. Demo video.

Cinchy for its Data Collaboration Platform that lets data work the way it should: connected, controlled, and accessible for real-time collaboration. Demo video.

College Aid Pro for its innovative technology, supported by a community of financial advisors, that changes the way America shops for college. Demo video.

ebankIT for its omnichannel digital banking platform that helps banks and credit unions transform their businesses. Demo video.

Glia for its technology that creates digital-first moments that simplify and transform communications between businesses and their customers. Demo video.

MX Technologies for its platform that helps financial institutions and fintechs quickly and easily collect, enhance, analyze, present, and act on their financial data. Demo video.

owl.co for its instant KYC/AML tool that automates enhanced due diligence on both individuals and companies. Demo video.

Pinkaloo Technologies for its solution that helps financial institutions attract and retain customers and increase deposits and fees by powering their customers’ charitable giving. Demo video.

Zogo Finance for its technology that leverages partnerships with financial institutions to reward kids for learning financial literacy. Demo video.

Those in attendance at this year’s FinovateFall can attest to the energy and enthusiasm that characterized our conference this week. Congratulations to all 75 of the companies that demonstrated their fintech innovations on stage and a heartfelt thanks to our partners, sponsors, and onsite tech team for making this year’s autumn event a smashing success.

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 nine 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 2019 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
FinovateFall 2018
FinovateAsia 2018
FinovateAfrica 2018
FinovateEurope 2019

FinovateSpring 2019

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Drumroll … Finovate Award Winners Announced

Around the web

  • Technology from Tink helps power the new PFM app, DABOX, from Portuguese bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD).
  • Juvo introduces its Financial Identity-as-a-Service (FiDaaS) technology suite.
  • MX teams up with U.S. Bank to provide customers with secure access to their financial data.
  • FICO forges KYC/AML partnership with Dutch PSP Visma Connect.

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.