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Tracking fintech, banking & financial services innovations since 1994
Lendit Fintech announced the winners of its fourth annual Lendit Finitech Industry Awards this week. And out of the 500+ entries competing for awards in 13 different categories, Finovate alums left the stage with nearly half of them.
Taking the highest honor as Fintech Innovator of the Year was Stash. The New York-based mobile-first investment platform made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall 2017, demonstrating its Stash Retire solution. This year marks the second year in a row that Stash has picked up Lendit’s top prize in this category. Fellow Finovate alum Marqeta was among the category’s finalists.
“Our purpose at Lendit Fintech is to elevate and celebrate the achievements of others,” co-founder and CEO of Lendit Fintech Bo Brustkern explained in a statement. “This year has been a hard year for many bank and fintechs, and the many enterprises that support them. Now more than ever we need a reason to come together – even if it’s virtually – to recognize and applaud excellence in these circumstances.”
Other companies earning awards were Upstart for Top Consumer Lending Platform, PeerStreet for Top Real Estate Platform, BlockFi for Emerging Lending Platform of the Year, Orrick for Top Law Firm, and Branch for Excellence in Financial Inclusion. Two individuals were also recognized: Colin Walsh, founder and CEO of Varo Money, as Executive of the Year and Nicky Goulimis, COO and co-founder of Nova Credit, as Fintech Woman of the Year.
A number of other Finovate alums earned finalist spots in this year’s competition. Both Lending Club and SoFi competed as finalists in the Consumer Lending Platform category. And BlueVine provided a strong Finovate alum showing in the Small Business Lending Platform group.
Credit is also due to Finovate alum Mambu as a finalist (along with Stash) in the Innovations in Digital Banking category, and to both Finicity and Ocrolus, which competed in the finals of the Top Technology Service Provider category.
If the future is digital –which it is– then the future must also be in real time. And while our industry typically thinks about real-time in terms of payments, there’s one fintech that’s working to bring information into the real time realm.
Banking technology company Plaid is launching instant account activity today. The new release allows financial institutions on Plaid Exchange to send user-permissioned transactions data to Plaid developers within seconds of the user’s activity. As a result, the consumer receives an up-to-date picture of their finances.
During a time when many consumers are working in the gig economy and budgeting for their expenses on a day-by-day basis, having the most recent information about their account balances is critical and could make the difference between overdrafting or staying afloat.
“Instant, real-time data has become standard for consumers today and it’s a critical piece of information that our users need to make sound financial decisions,” said Atif Siddiqi, CEO of Plaid client, Branch. “Plaid provides our users with the most current picture of their transaction history, empowering their daily financial decisions.”
Today’s development is the latest in a string of updates for Plaid, which recently launchedPlaid Exchange, an open finance solution that offers banks a way to provide open banking connectivity to their clients while keeping their clients’ data safe and giving them control of their data.
Last week, the company announced an addition to its suite of payment products with the launch of standing orders in the U.K. With standing orders, end users can make recurring payments with a single authorization for things like gym memberships and rent payments.
Plaid is an alum of Finovate’s developer conference. In 2014, the company’s CEO and co-founder, Zach Perret, showcased the Plaid API for financial institutions.
Since the dawn of APIs, the U.S. has struggled to create a consistent open banking approach. Banks and fintechs have battled with each other on screen scraping, customer data, and open access to third party providers.
Banking technology company Plaidannounced a new launch today to solve this struggle and unite banks, fintechs, and consumers. The new tool, Plaid Exchange, offers banks a way to provide open banking connectivity to their clients while keeping their clients’ data safe and giving them control of their data.
Plaid Exchange helps banks establish token-based API connectivity with the 2,600 third party apps in Plaid’s network. This single connection simplifies integration for banks, helping their clients connect with more third party providers securely. Additionally, the API helps banks build a control center that empowers their customers to manage which third parties they share their data with.
To help banks with legacy systems, Plaid is working closely with integration partners to ease the transition. The company’s partners in this effort include Kunai and Core10.
“We believe APIs are the future of open finance, and we want to make it as easy as possible for all financial institutions to incorporate APIs into their broader digital transformation agendas regardless of budget size and resources,” said Plaid Product Lead Niko Karvounis in a blog post.
Plaid Exchange can help banks bring an API solution to market in 12 weeks. The company is already working with financial institutions for Plaid Exchange and expects to partner with even more as banks seek to meet increased customer demand for digital services in the post-COVID-19 era.
Further proving that every company is a fintech company, Plaid has formed a partnership with Microsoft.
Plaid will integrate with Microsoft Excel to help give the budget spreadsheet a major upgrade. Launching under the guise of Money in Excel, the new tool will use Plaid to import users’ financial information, bringing an automated approach to financial management.
With access to 11,000 financial institutions across the U.S., Canada, and Europe, Plaid is able to import the user’s entire financial picture in real time.
Money in Excel offers budgeting features typical of most PFM applications. Users can see a monthly overview of their spending habits, analyze recurring expenses, and understand their net worth.
Money in Excel is launching as part of the new Microsoft 365 subscription service that will go live on April 21. The subscriptions range from $6.99 per month to $9.99 per month and include real-time editing in Word, advanced PowerPoint layout and speech coaching, and access to creative content.
Plaid works with thousands of third-party fintech apps such as Transferwise, Betterment, and Venmo to connect with their users’ financial institutions. The company made headlines at the beginning of 2020 after it announced it had been acquired by Visa for $5.3 billion.
The investor, whose funding is backed by the European Investment Fund (EIF) will target “post-product startups” developing solutions for fintech, cybersecurity, AI, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and other advanced technologies. Known as the biggest venture capital fund in the CEE region, OTB Ventures said it wants companies with “unique intellectual property” and “disruptive ideas.”
“CEE is a cradle of talented engineers and IT specialists, pioneering innovative companies,” OTB managing partner and co-founder Marcin Hejka explained. We see a huge investment potential in these companies with up-and-running products and initial business traction in international markets. The purpose of our fund is to discover, develop, and realize this potential on a global scale.”
OTB Ventures includes AI and consumer analytics firm Cosmose, regtech innovator Silent Eight, and digital transformation solution provider – and Finovate alum – FintechOS – among its more recent investments. With its new fund, OTB plans to commit approximately $15 million to 16 companies, taking stakes of 10% to 15%. OTB’s largest investment in a single company to date was the $10 million in company invested in micro-satellite company Iceye in 2018.
Report Season for Indian Fintech: A number of analyst organizations have picked the second half of February to release their latest insights on fintech in India. In addition to the report from IBS Intelligence noted below, content marketing platform SEMrush released its Top Insights into Fintech Industry of India report this week.
Among the interesting top level takeaways from both reports is the importance of making sure that security and financial education keep pace with the growth of financial inclusion. As more people in frontier and periphery markets become comfortable with sharing their personal details and newly-forged financial identities online, the dangers of criminal exploitation and even simple misuse (poor password management habits, for example) grows, as well.
Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.
Middle East and Northern Africa
Aafaq Islamic Finance to deploy core banking, Islamic banking, and payments solutions from Infosys.
Bahrain-based GFH Financial Group acquires 70% stake in pan-MENA payments technology company, Marshal.
National Bank of Yemen goes live with the ICS Banks Universal Banking Platform from ICSFS.
Central and Southern Asia
Pakistan-based mobile wallet Sadapay readies for launch.
Entrepreneur features fintechs apps that are helping SMEs in India go digital.
IBS Intelligence unveils its India fintech report.
Latin America and the Caribbean
The Central Bank of Brazil to enter the payments business with the launch of its new app, PIX, later this year. PIX will provide immediate settlement for all transactions.
TechCrunch profiles fintech startup Belvo and its aspiration to become the Plaid of Latin America.
Bank Innovation features Mexico City, Mexico-based digital bank Stori.
Singapore-based, installment payment startup Hoolah expands to Malaysia.
Indonesian online lender UangTeman raises $10 million in new funding.
Get, a digital commerce platform based in Myanmar, acquires local lender Daung Capital.
Nigeria’s LAPO Microfinance Bank, the largest microfinance institution in the country, to deploy core banking, payments, and digital experience solutions from Oracle Financial.
African Banker examines the balance between financial inclusion and consumer protection as Kenya’s fintech boom expands.
Nigerian consumer lending platform Carbon announces $100,000 fund to support startups in insurance, health, and education.
Central and Eastern Europe
Poland-based OTB Ventures raises $100 million to back tech startups in the CEE region.
Wirecard partners with Raiffeisen Bank International to bring digital payments solutions to markets in 13 Eastern European countries.
Germany’s Opel Bank choosesFIS’ cloud-native, Modern Banking Platform. This marks the solution’s first deployment in Europe.
It is hard to imagine having a better start to your week than Plaid had seven days ago when the innovative fintech (and Finovate alum) announced that it had agreed to be acquired by Visa for $5.3 billion.
But the €90 million ($100 million) raised by Swedish open banking platform Tink on Monday is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, the funding, which is the company’s largest to date, is a reminder that investment interest in (and funding for) companies dedicated to developing the infrastructure that connects consumers, banks, and the financial technologies is very much in abundance.
“Our aim is to become the preferred pan-European provider of digital banking services and to offer the technology needed for banks, fintechs, and startups to leverage the opportunities of open banking and enable them to successfully develop financial services in the future,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement.
The London-based money transfer firm, founded in 2012, promoted its COO Richard Ambrose to CEO back in August, as Azimo founder Michael Kent took what TechCrunch referred to as a lateral move to become executive chairman. Today, Fintech Futures, Finovate’s sister publication, reports that the company has appointed Dora Ziambra to the post of Chief Operating Officer. Azimo also promoted its head of finance Tatiana Okhotina to the post of Chief Financial Officer.
“We’re fortunate to have the depth of talent to fill these top roles internally,” Ambrose said in a statement. “We’re lucky too that Azimo will continue to benefit from the experience and leadership of these two outstanding women.”
Here’s our weekly roundup of the latest news from our Finovate alumni:
Union Bank to leverage technology from FIS for core banking.
Italy-based CREDEM leveragingWorldline’s Payment and Liquidity Hub software CRISTAL to process Target2 payments
POS software Vend partners with Klarna to offer retailers more flexible payment options.
U.K. food retailer The Co-operative to deployACI Worldwide’s fraud management solution, ReD Shield.
A partnership between TransferGo and Currencycloud will enable the money transfer company to enter 14 new markets.
YellowDogforges reseller agreement with Annex Pro.
Bankable cozies up with Plaid to allow its bank customers to connect with their users’ bank accounts.
Ohpenappoints former Tesla marketing leader Corinne Aaron as new head of marketing.
Segmint to acquire WAND’s Product and Service Taxonomy division.
CuneXuscelebrates 2019 success with a 40% year-over-year increase in consumer reach.
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. 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.
ITSCREDIT’s Joao Pinto on the Digital Lending Opportunity – ITSCREDIT is a spinoff from ITSECTOR and is a fairly new player in the digital lending space. In this interview, Pinto talks to us about the digital lending opportunity, how his company fits into the current state of this fintech subsector, and what we can expect to see next.
Kasasa Enhances its Take-Back Loan – Community bank marketing expert Kasasaannounced a partnership with Carleton today in which Kasasa will integrate Carleton’s insurance and debt protection calculations into its Kasasa Loan.
Plinqit Brings Rewards-Powered Financial Literacy to First Community Bank – One day in the distant future, children will be educated in basic financial literacy as readily as they are taught algebra. Until then, solutions like Plinqit from HT Mobile Apps will be valuable tools for credit unions and community banks looking for novel ways to engage and educate their members and customers.
Credit, Data, and Cryptocurrencies: Graychain Rebrands as Credmark – The company that is bringing credit data clarity to the cryptocurrency industry is entering 2020 with a new name.
Tradeshift Lands $240 Million as it Inches Toward Profitability – The San Francisco-based company will use the investment to boost expansion efforts and gear toward a “direct path to profitability in the near future.”
Backbase-as-a-Service Helps Banks Leverage the Cloud to Innovate and Scale – The solution makes the company’s broad portfolio of digital banking offerings available to FIs looking to accelerate their ability to develop and offer new technologies to customers.
Also on Finovate.com
Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal – “Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”
Not Another 2020 Trends Prediction Post (Seriously, It’s Not!) – We’re taking a look at the trends you can expect to see on stage next month at FinovateEurope. To keep things simple this year, we assessed the themes at a very high level and broke them down into three categories: the big, the little, and the trends in-between.
Singapore’s Digital Banking License Space Race Accelerates – Is there anyone out there who is NOT trying to secure a digital banking license in Singapore? The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced last week that has received 21 applications for digital bank licenses.
MogoSpend Offers Credit, Cashback, and Help Reducing Your Carbon Footprint – The new digital spending account from Canadian fintech Mogo does more than help Canadians get control of their finances. The solution also offers cardholders generous cashback rewards and a way to make a positive impact on the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.
Getsafe Expands its Insurtech to the U.K. – If your insurance company is offering you drone insurance, you know it’s not your grandmother’s insurance agency. Germany-based insurtech Getsafe does just that– and the company announced today it is expanding its home contents insurance offering (though, sadly, not its drone insurance offering) to users in the U.K.
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.
French Fintech Lydia Locks in $45 Million – TechCrunch reported this morning that French mobile payment app Lydia has raised $45 million (€40 million) in a round led by Tencent.
Visa’s Tap to Phone Brings Contactless Payments to mPOS – With Visa’sTap to Phone app arriving pre-installed on the new, enterprise grade smartphone from Samsung, a broad range of merchants will have access to yet another way to accept payments from customers.
INTL FCStone Acquires International Bank Transfer Firm – Headquartered in Germany, GIROXX offers international bank transfers and currency hedging. INTL FCStone plans to leverage this technology to expand its current client base to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
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:
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.
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.
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.
Updated 1/14/2020: The first big fintech acquisition of the year just crossed the headlines: Visa has agreed to acquire innovative fintech Plaid for a reported $5.3 billion in “total purchase consideration.”
“Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”
Plaid’s technology connects digital consumers with thousands of apps and services ranging from Transferwise and Betterment to Chime, Acorns, and popular payment app, Venmo. The company estimates that one in four individuals with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect with thousands of developers across 11,000+ financial institutions.
Visa said the acquisition will bolster the company’s capacity to serve and reputation with fintech developers – especially when it comes to providing them with enhanced payment functionality and related value-added services. Visa also believes the acquisition will help open new business opportunities both in the U.S. and around the world.
“We are extremely excited about our acquisition of Plaid and how it enhances the growth trajectory of our business,” Visa CEO and chairman Al Kelly said. “Plaid is a leader in the fast growing fintech world with best-in-class capabilities and talent. The acquisition, combined with our many fintech efforts already underway, will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions, and consumers.”
Visa participated in Plaid’s Series C round in 2018, which was led by Index Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. The company raised $250 million in that funding raising effort. Plaid began the year with an acquisition of its own, purchasing account aggregation and data analytics technology provider Quovo in January of 2019. The value of that deal was not disclosed; Bloomberg reported that the sticker price for Quovo could have been as high as $200 million. Quovo, incidentally, is also a FinDEVr alum, participating in our New York developers conference in 2017.
Plaid demonstrated its technology at FinDEVrSiliconValley in 2014, demonstrating how its API for Financial Infrastructure enabled developers to leverage data quickly, efficiently, and securely power fintech applications. Headquartered in San Francisco, California and founded in 2012, Plaid had raised $310 million in funding previous to today’s announcement.
The ripples from the acquisition news are reverberating throughout the fintech community. And while some are worried about the ability of the innovative startup from San Francisco continue to drive change in the industry, others are busy heralding the news as a victory for fintech and incumbent financial services firms, alike.
Indeed, the acquisition of Plaid by Visa has put other fintechs involved in financial data on notice that they too may hear an inquiring knock on their proverbial doors. One observer on Twitter asked “Will $MA pick up Finicity now?” As of this writing, neither company has deigned to comment.
According to reporting in the Financial Times, JPMorgan Chase is the latest financial institution to pledge a pivot toward tokenization to make it easier and safer for customers to access third party financial solutions. Tokenization enables FIs to securely send only the limited amount of data necessary to complete transactions, and limits the exposure of customer passwords and other sensitive information. The article, by Laura Noonan, highlights a pair of companies – Envestnet |Yodlee and Plaid – and their agreements to use tokenization in their interactions with Chase and other major FIs.
“Our partnership with Chase will allow further consumer choice, reliability, and insight into how and where their data is being used, along with improved overall financial well-being,” Envestnet | Yodlee CEO Stuart DePina said when his company’s deal was announced last December. “As we move toward API-based connectivity in the United States, relationships like the one we have with Chase are laying the groundwork for this reality by giving consumers greater connectivity across their financial accounts, all accomplished through these types of secure and protected channels.”
The move also represents Chase’s most recent strike against screen scraping, with the FI has long opposed out of concerns that the practice was exploitative of customer data. Noonan’s article notes JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon who decried the way “many third parties sell or trade information in a way customers may not understand, and the third parties, quite often, are doing it for their own economic benefit – not for the customer’s” in a shareholder letter in 2016.
The CA Consumer Privacy Act Went into Effect While You Were on Vacation – If you’re unfamiliar with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), you might want to stop catching up on email you missed over the holiday and focus on this new regulation. Here are a few highlights of California’s new law, which went into effect yesterday.
Wall Street to Exiting Fintechs: Show Us the Profits – What does the fintech landscape look like for startups in 2020? Among all the forecasts and predictions we’ve been reading and re-reading, is reporting from the Wall Street Journal that suggests that fintech startups seeking successful exits may face tougher challenges in 2020 than in 2019.
B-North Lands $2.6 Million Ahead of Launch – E.U.-based alternative lending company B-North announced this week it landed $2.6 million (£2 million) in new funding. The investment comes as part of crowdfunding efforts via Crowdcube and Growthfunders.
Finovate Global: Solaris Bank to Secure CryptoCurrencies; Brazilian Fintechs Announce New Funding