Ocrolus’ Nicole Newlin On Digitization, Visualization, and the Age of Partnerships

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One of the clearest messages from our conversations with fintech analysts and observers this year has been the importance of RegTech. Whether the challenge is financial inclusion, open banking, or simply making ever-more complex business processes less cumbersome, less error-prone, and less expensive, RegTech is increasingly seen as a critical component of financial technology.

We caught up with Nicole Newlin, VP of Solutions for Ocrolus, to talk about how the company leverages artificial intelligence to automate critical business tasks like underwriting for lenders. Via a combination of patttern recognition, crowdsourced data verification, and fraud detection, Ocrolus’ technology brings both transparent analysis and rigorous documentation to the credit decisioning process.

We also thought this would be a great opportunity to revisit and wrap up our celebration of Women’s History Month. To this end, we asked Ms. Newlin about her work with NYC Fintech Women, as well as her thoughts on how women are faring in the world of fintech and financial services.

Finovate: I would be remiss not to ask how Ocrolus is coping with the current global crisis with regard to the COVID-19 outbreak. How has this affected the company and the work it does?

VP of Solutions for Ocrolus Nicole Newlin

Nicole Newlin: The COVID-19 outbreak has caused companies around the world to change the way that they do business, and prepare for the long-term. Planning for the unpredictable is an oxymoron, but we’re certainly seeing the difference between companies built for scalability – those able to flex up/down with demand – and those with a less agile workforce.  In volatile times like these, scalability is key to success.

We see digitization and virtualization particularly impacting the financial markets that Ocrolus serves. If we zoom in on the state of lending, it’s a historically low rate, quarantined world, with more than 3,000 borrowers per day seeking mortgages and refinancing online. In parallel, many lenders are more bandwidth-constrained than ever, creating a gap between rising demand and lenders’ ability to meet that demand.

A key factor in lender scalability is the elimination of data entry bottlenecks. Our customers don’t have underwriters keying in borrower information or performing “stare and compare” analysis of income, asset and identification documents. Instead, they are using document digitization services and data aggregators to provide underwriters with actionable data. Replacing manual data entry and review with API-called data connectivity enables our customers to accommodate fluctuating loan volume on-call rather than scrambling to add, subtract, or redeploy human resources.

For these reasons, our customers are better able to flex up/down with the markets.

We’re also seeing new customers expedite their Ocrolus integrations to lessen the gap between demand and their ability to meet demand without needing to bring on additional resources.

Finovate: And if I may ask, how has it affected you as a professional? Have you had to make dramatic changes to the way you work, or the way you work with your team?

Newlin: Moving to a fully remote workforce is a new muscle for most of us. Fortunately, Ocrolus has always embraced a flexible work from home policy, so our team is able to adapt to working remotely with relative ease.

That said, without the built-in face time of being in an office, communication is critical, so we’re relying heavily on Slack and Zoom video calls to ensure ongoing communication. We’re also spending more time clarifying objectives and expectations so that we can continue to work towards our shared goals remotely.

To maintain culture and morale, we’re experimenting with virtual events. Our first-ever Virtual Happy Hour was a big hit!

Finovate: Ocrolus finished 2019 with the introduction of a new extension to its platform. Ocrolus+, which offers advanced document-based data extraction. Can you tell us a little bit about this feature, perhaps by way of introducing the company to our readers?

Newlin: While Ocrolus transforms documents into actionable data with over 99% accuracy, Ocrolus+ is an advanced version of our fintech infrastructure platform for capturing financial information, validating the veracity of data, and performing cash flow analytics. Ocrolus+ is the first turnkey solution for ingesting documents and digital data streams through a single API. The platform enables lenders to corroborate data retrieved from submitted documents with source data from financial institutions through a partnership with Plaid. Moreover, our partnership with SentiLink enhances our fraud capabilities by enabling us to detect use of synthetic identities.

Finovate: What markets does Ocrolus serve primarily?

Newlin: Ocrolus primarily serves a broad array of lending businesses – including small business lenders, consumer lenders, and mortgage lenders – with some analyzing different sets of documents based on application requirements. Regardless of asset class, Ocrolus has become a critical part of the modern lending infrastructure.

Finovate: Ocrolus interestingly has partnered with a number of other Finovate alums like Plaid and BlueVine in recent years. In fact, you spent some time at Plaid/Quovo, if I read correctly. Why are partnerships important in your industry? What makes for a productive relationship between fintechs?

Newlin: We are in an age of partnerships and collaboration. With technology and market conditions changing  at such a fast pace, it’s virtually impossible to build everything internally. Competition is growing, and we’ve seen tech behemoths like Google, Amazon, and Apple making moves to break into financial services. Partnerships are key to staying ahead in a competitive market. By partnering with best of breed companies, you can save resources, accelerate time to market, and hijack otherwise steep learning curves. However, it’s important to note that partnerships must be aligned with the company’s strategy and values. And they should benefit both organizations in order to ensure long-term alignment.

Ocrolus Co-founder and CEO Sam Bobley and Director of Business Development Kevin Bailey demonstrating PerfectAudit at FinovateFall 2018.

Finovate: You came to Ocrolus after being a founder and president of a fintech/financial services consultancy. What drew you to Ocrolus? And now that you’re here, can you tell us a little about the work you do for the company as VP of Solutions?

Newlin: I was introduced to Ocrolus via a few current board members that had also supported my previous employer, Quovo (acquired by Plaid). Once I met with the leadership team and learned more about what Ocrolus offered, I was intrigued. The opportunity to work at a company that could cross many verticals with its offering was interesting to me, because that spoke to the flexibility and endless possibilities of staying nimble and being relevant. Of course, that has been proven out even faster than expected with COVID-19 as we see new opportunities in a challenging environment!

When I joined Ocrolus, my primary focus was to build out a strong Solutions team that would support all sales activities via sales engineering/implementation, which includes all aspects of client onboarding and API integrations. As I’ve built out the team and developed those functions, we also work closely with our Product/Operations team in piloting new verticals/services. Lastly, a big focus today is ensuring we promote strong client relationships via our account management and client success teams. In a nutshell, our team is the client-facing division of our firm in the entire customer lifecycle.

Finovate: You’ve recently joined the NYC Fintech Women’s Leadership team. Can you tell us about the organization and its goals? How did you come to the decision to work with them?

Newlin: NYC Fintech Women is a community of women fintech executives, founders, and engineers, who are opening the doors of Wall Street by facilitating access to education, community, and coaching. I want to contribute by supporting and mentoring these women. Additionally, given my path into fintech and the number of talented women transitioning from traditional firms, I feel a strong sense of duty to support their efforts.

Finovate: What are the two or three steps that would do the most good to promote women’s leadership in fintech and financial services in general? And what are the greatest challenges or obstacles to pursuing these steps?

Newlin: I think women have a hard time breaking into financial services because there have never been that many in the space. The reality is that there are still fewer women in tech positions, senior positions, on boards, etc. There isn’t a magic button to press for greater equality – we have to take the initiative to create diversity in the industry.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Ability is of little account without opportunity,” by Lucille Ball. In that spirit, here are three things we can do to promote women’s leadership in financial services:

  1. We must give women the chance to succeed. I look to leadership in all companies of all types to consider how they are offering opportunity across a wide and diverse employee and candidate pool. Look at your organization and consider who is the next to move forward in their career and how leadership must mentor their employees. Don’t let great team members slip away because they see no career path.
  2. Consider how diversity in hiring grows market share, promotes creativity and stimulates fresh ideas.
  3. Finally, think strategically about how you are building teams and providing thoughtful professional development.

Ocrolus was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in New York City. Sam Bobley is CEO and co-founder. With more than $33 million in funding, Ocrolus includes Oak HC/FT, Laconia, and Bullpen Capital among its investors.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Passport Raises $65 Million for Mobile Payment for Parking.

Around the web

  • CustomerXPs honored on the RegTech 100 list for second consecutive year.
  • Ixaris forms agreement with Sabre to tap into new European markets.
  • Ocrolus introduces Ocrolus+, a turnkey solution for ingesting documents and digital data streams through a single API.
  • Bitbond partners with KlickOwn to expand into real estate.

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.

Ocrolus Reels in $24 Million Investment

Automated document analysis platform, Ocrolus, has raised $24 million in funding in a Series B round led by Oak HC/FT. The new capital will help the company develop workflows for new document types, as well as improve the company’s analytic and fraud-detecting capabilities.

Ocrolus puts human empowered automation to work to help financial services firms and other companies make back office operations more efficient. Ocrolus’ technology leverages pattern recognition, crowdsourced data verification, and fraud detection to automatically analyze financial documents, digitize the data, and input it directly into the firm’s credit models. Even poor quality data scans from e-statements and smartphones can be effectively read by the technology and transformed into 99%+ accurate, validated datasets.

“Sometimes humans are better than robots,” Ocrolus CEO and co-founder Sam Bobley said. “We combine machine processes with live human intelligence to provide customers with a complete solution.”

Also participating in the round were FinTech Collective, and existing investors including Bullpen Capital and QED Investors. The investment takes the company’s total capital to more than $30 million.

Ocrolus demonstrated the Perfect Audit feature of its platform at FinovateFall last year. Perfect Audit provides cash-flow analytics from financial documents that have been digitized and analyzed by the Ocrolus platform. These analytics function as superior credit model inputs that enable lenders to price risk more effectively.

“Ocrolus is a unique company providing a rare combination of smart automation, analytics, and accuracy in its solution,” Oak HC/FT Venture Partner Dan Petrozzo said. “By combining its tremendous technology with an added human touch where required, the platform delivers amazing results for its customers.”

Last month, Ocrolus teamed up with inFactor to enhance the underwriting process for the small business financing platform. In April, the company partnered with fellow Finovate alum BlueVine to help accelerate financial application processing. Founded in 2014, Ocrolus is based in New York City.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • MX Picks Up $100 Million in New Funding.
  • Ocrolus Reels in $24 Million Investment.

Around the web

  • CREALOGIX to power new digital and mobile capabilities for LGT Vestra’s wealth management app and client portal.
  • Strands announces achieving ISO 27001 certification in all offices.
  • Horizon Investments to implement Fiserv’s Unified Wealth Platform for core portfolio management.
  • Personetics announces that users of Salesforce and Microsoft CRM platforms will be able to access the company’s data-driven actionable insights via new APIs.
  • Diebold Nixdorf launches a new series of self-service, digitally-connected ATMs.
  • NetGuardians appoints Swissquote co-founder Paolo Buzzi to its board of directors.

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 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.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazil’s Nubank announces debit options for its digital savings account.
  • Infocorp spinoff Bankingly raises $5.25 million in Series A funding in round led by Elevar Equity.
  • Vocalink to modernize Peru’s electronic payments infrastructure courtesy of new deal with the company’s automated clearinghouse, Cámara de Compensación Electrónica (CCE).

Asia-Pacific

  • UNPay expands QR code payments.
  • Indonesian lending and payments firm, Pohon Dana, picks up investment from Mayapada Group.
  • PaySend launches transfers to bank accounts and Napas cards in Vietnam.
  • Fenergo wins Fintech Exporter of the Year award from Asia Matters.
  • Juvo expands across Asia with regional headquarters in Singapore.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Experian purchases South African credit information and analytics firm Compuscan for $263 million.
  • Ecobank partners with MFS Africa to offer cross-platform digital payments to customers.
  • Emergent Technology acquires Ghana-based Interpay Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Sberbank offers clients new strategies for investment life insurance.
  • Finastra opens new offices in Romania.
  • Backbase powers omni-channel digital services for Poland’s BGŻ BNP Paribas bank.
  • International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) to deploy technology from FICO to fight money laundering.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • UAE and Saudi Arabia launch blockchain-powered, cross-border payments proof of concept.
  • Temenos announces partnership with Tunisia’s Banque de l’Habitat.
  • Token brings open banking to MENA region.

Central and South Asia

  • James Finance, Ocrolus, Hydrogen, and iProov shortlisted for India FinTech Awards 2018.
  • Currencies Direct taps Ripple’s xCurrent for real-time remittances to India.
  • Fintech News Singapore features BankBazaar in its round up of 10 Hot Fintech Startups from India to Watch Closely.

Top image designed by Freepik

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 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.

Central and South Asia

  • Visa takes minority stake in Indian payment gateway BillDesk.
  • Swift India partners with MonetaGo to pilot blockchain-based banking.
  • India FinTech Forum (IFF) announced the 20 companies recognized at its India FinTech Awards (IFTA), including Finovate alums Hydrogen, iProov, Ocrolus, and James Finance.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Elevar Equity leads $5.25 million investment round for Uruguayan fintech, Bankingly.
  • Banco Original, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based FI, to deploy FICO Origination Manager and FICO Application Fraud Manager.
  • First Data launches Clover Mini and Clover Flex in Argentina.

Asia-Pacific

  • Finastra gives Singapore banks top marks in its inaugural Open Banking Readiness Index.
  • FinLab accelerator introduces its smart business transformation program for Thailand small businesses.
  • SmartPesa brings its softPOS contactless card acceptance via NFC phone running Android – to Singapore and South East Asia.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • South African financial services company, Discovery, to launch “behavioral bank.”
  • Nigeria’s central bank proposes fintech licensing regime to help manage cyber risk, capital adequacy, and operational oversight issues.
  • A “hands-off” attitude toward regulation is credited for helping boost Uganda’s emergent fintech sector.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Poland’s Braintri merges with iCompass.
  • The Polish Financial Supervision Authority names the Heart as one of operators for its regulatory sandbox for companies developing fintech solutions.
  • Ingenico Group teams up with Russia’s Sberbank to enable MOIR card payments for online purchases.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Study from Mena Research Partners calls for major gains in fintech funding in the MENA region over the next ten years.
  • Egypt Innovate features ten Egyptian startups “following the world’s fintech trend.”
  • The Tehran Times looks at the “challenges and opportunities” of fintech innovation in Iran.

Top image designed by Freepik

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Ocrolus

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

Ocrolus has developed the fastest and most accurate technology for automating the analysis of loan documents.

Features

  • Cash flow analytics
  • Cutting-edge fraud detection
  • Traceable data validation

Why it’s great
Ocrolus is the first regtech company backed by QED Investors.

Presenters

Sam Bobley, CEO
Bobley is a natural entrepreneur and co-founder of Ocrolus.
LinkedIn

Kevin Bailey, Director of Business Development
Bailey was Presidential appointee to the Treasury who has since devoted himself to fintech.
LinkedIn

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Fiserv Helps Bring Voice Banking to the Aloha State.

Around the web

  • PromonTech to unveil its new income engine, Income AI, next week.
  • PayPal introduces cashflow boosting solution for small businesses, Funds Now.
  • The Paypers interviews Ronnie Millar, PaySend’s Europe CEO.
  • Hedge fund manager John Hempton tells The Australian Financial Review that Xero could become a $100 billion business.
  • Insuritas teams up with 42,000+ member Enrichment Federal Credit Union.
  • Global Finance sits down for a conversation with Tinkoff Bank VP Maxim Evdokimov.

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.