Finovate Alums and the History of Bitcoin Innovation

Finovate Alums and the History of Bitcoin Innovation

With bitcoin and cryptocurrencies enjoying renewed interest, it’s worth noting that many fintech fans encountered their first bitcoin-related businesses through Finovate conferences.

Here’s a look at some of the companies that have brought their bitcoin and crypto-powered innovations to the Finovate stage.

OpenCoinFinovateSpring 2013 – The company now well-known as Ripple was introduced to Finovate audiences back in 2013. At FinovateSpring that year, Chris Larsen – CEO of a startup called OpenCoin – introduced its virtual currency and distributed open source payment network. Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, Ripple currently has more than 300 financial institutions who leverage its RippleNet blockchain network to power real-time payments.

KlickExFinovateAsia 2013 – New Zealand-based KlickEx unveiled its asset-backed and algorithmic cryptocurrency for institutional and retail users at FinovateAsia in 2013. The company, founded in 2009, recently announced a partnership with the National Reserve Bank of Tonga to launch a new national payment system.

CoinbaseFinovateSpring 2014 – Among the bigger names in bitcoin and cryptocurrency to have demonstrated their technology at Finovate conferences is San Francisco, California-based Coinbase. Debuting at Finovate with its Instant Exchange in 2014, Coinbase has grown into one of the biggest players in the cryptocurrency market with more than 35 million verified users and more than $320 billion in total volume traded on its platform.

AlphaPointFinovateEurope 2015 – With more than $350 million in monthly trading volume and 20 digital currency exchanges operating in 15 countries, AlphaPoint is a leading fintech exchange platform provider for digital currencies. The company demoed version two of its digital currency exchange platform at FinovateEurope in 2015.

CoinJarFinovateEurope 2015 – Australia’s largest and longest-operating bitcoin company, CoinJar demonstrated its platform at FinovateEurope 2015. The Best of Show-winning firm was the first in its market to offer a bitcoin debit card that enabled cardholders to use the cryptocurrency for everyday purchases.

BitbondFinovateEurope 2015 – Berlin, Germany’s Bitbond offers a global P2P bitcoin lending platform that enables anyone with an Internet connection to both get loans as well as invest their savings for interest. The company demonstrated its AutoInvest functionality, which facilitates and automates fund allocation in a portfolio, at FinovateEurope 2015.

itBitFinovateSpring 2015 – New York-based itBit demonstrated its bitcoin trading platform at FinovateSpring in 2015. The company’s technology enables both institutional and retail investors to buy and sell bitcoin. Rebranded as Paxos in the fall of 2016, the company has since highlighted its work in private blockchains and distributed ledger technology.

Blockstack.ioFinovateFall 2015 – Best of Show winning offers a hosted and licensed enterprise blockchain platform that enables financial services companies and others to build applications on their own private blockchain. The San Francisco, California-based company, founded in 2015, was acquired by Digital Asset Holdings for an undisclosed sum before the end of the year.

ArcBitFinovateFall 2015 – With a pledge to leverage bitcoin and blockchain technology to bring banking to the underbanked, ArcBit, which made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall in 2015, offers a mobile wallet specifically designed to give bitcoin owners full control over their cryptoholdings.

CoinalyticsFinDEVr San Francisco 2015 – Our developers conference, FinDEVr is one way that many bitcoin and crytocurrency innovators were able to bring their innovations to the public. Coinanalytics, which offers an end-to-end intelligence platform for the bitcoin industry, is an example of the kind of company developing solutions to make bitcoin a better opportunity for payments, financial services, and IoT.

BlockCypherFinDEVr Silicon Valley 2015 – Another alum of our developer’s conference, BlockCypher offers companies a cloud-optimized, enterprise-grade blockchain platform that enables them to build reliable blockchain apps. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, the company was founded in 2014.

GemFinDEVr Silicon Valley 2015 – Founded in 2014 and based in Venice, California, Gem demonstrated its API which provides a comprehensive security solution for bitcoin apps – without taking control over funds. With a few lines of code, Gem enables developers to provide an interface to their bitcoin apps that gives users better funding options.

LedgerFinovateEurope 2016 – Headquartered in Paris, France and founded in 2015, Ledger designs trusted hardware solutions for bitcoin and blockchain apps. The company’s solutions, including the Nano X and Nano S, provide cryptocurrency owners with a secure, portable way to take and manage their digital assets wherever they are.

StratumnFinDEVr New York 2016 – Enterprise blockchain technology company Stratumn provides firms with the infrastructure and tools they need to to build, deploy, and run blockchain. The company presented the high performance, proof-of-existence engine of its development platform at our developer’s conference in 2016. Jerome Lefebvre took over as CEO of the company from co-founder Richard Caetano in the fall of 2019.

Plutus.itFinovateEurope 2018 – London-based Plutus demonstrated its Tap & Pay and Debit Card solutions that enable consumers to pay with bitcoin or Ethereum at any contactless point of sale. Founded in 2016, the company currently supports more than 26,000 Plutus accounts and credits its users for acquiring more than $100,000 in rewards via its Pluton Rewards program.

Amber LabsFinovate MiddleEast 2019 – Best of Show winner Amber Labs is a bitcoin exchange, wallet, and micro-investment app in one. Headquartered in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and founded in 2017, Amber Labs offers a mobile first, automated investment platform for retail customers looking to buy and sell bitcoin.

Photo by Thought Catalog from Pexels

Finovate Alumni News– March 6, 2014


  • iQuantifi launches financial advice platform to general public.
  • Billeo and Danal partner to create a mobile ID solution for Billeo’s XpressBuy checkout service to make it easier by autofilling forms with your relevant information.
  • GMC Software Technology and Kony partner to develop next-gen document tech solutions for businesses.
  • SecureKey Concierge Service tops one million-credential mark.
  • American Banker takes a look at Jack Henry & Associates and its acquisition of Banno.
  • FinovateEurope: Behind the Scenes with Arxan Technologies, Kensho, and Plutus Software.
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.

FinovateEurope: Behind the Scenes with Arxan Technologies, Kensho, and Plutus Software

We hope you have been enjoying our “behind the scenes” look back at FinovateEurope 2014.

In our first installment, we shared with you some insights from our conversations with AdviceGames, Nous, and Yseop. We followed that with a peek at how CRIF, Mobino, and SaaS Markets were helping bring fintech innovation to businesses and consumers alike. And just last week, we presented a behind the scenes look at NF Innova, Vaamo, and Best of Show winner, Tink.

This week we bring you another handful of companies from FinovateEurope 2014. First up for today are three innovators from the fields of mobile app security, big data analytics, and lending to the underbanked in emerging markets.

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What They Do:
Arxan Technologies specializes in mobile app security, providing solutions that make it more difficult for fraudsters and criminals to tamper with apps. 
The company’s technology deploys small units of object code called “Guards” that work at the application layer to defend against a variety of attacks ranging from malware and data breach repackaging to fraud and IP theft.
  • Technology is deployed on more than 300 million devices
  • Revenue for 2013 increased by 95%
  • Enterprise adoption grew by 146% in 2013
  • First and only IBM partner to offer validated app hardening, tamper proofing for mobile channel


Building Better App Awareness:
Having learned a little about Arxan Technologies via a conversation with CTO Kevin Morgan in January, I was looking forward to spending more time talking with the folks from Arxan Technologies at FinovateEurope.
What was particularly interesting about my conversation with Vince Arneja, who is Vice President for Product Management for Arxan, and the rest of the team was how the company has begun to expand beyond the “app hardening” technology that has served as a key concept in their recently released report on the state of app security. 
Now, as Vince tells it, the company is moving beyond simply making apps tougher and is focusing on making them more sensitive, as well.
“Apps need to be able to know more about the environment they are in,” Arneja explained. 
Mobile security is where Internet security was in 2003. There is a lot of emphasis on policy and configuration, “but that’s not really security,” he said. “That’s enforcement and locking down with certain policies. You’re not really securing your assets.”
Arxan’s innovation involves “environmental guarding,” reflecting a trend toward providing more visibility for the app itself into the environment in which it is running. 
The means the ability, for example, for the app to determine whether it is operating on a jailbroken device (i.e., an iOS device that has been altered to allow root access to the operating system)
“Some folks call it a ‘health check’ or just providing visibility via the application,” Arneja said. In addition to being able to detect jailbreaking, Arxan is developing technology that will help apps ferret out patching or “swizzling” attacks that are more iOS run-time sensitive. This is visibility that is embedded into the application.
A smarter app is a good thing for the user and the enterprise. Banks that do not want jailbroken devices accessing their systems can have a tool embedded in their mobile app that helps them accomplish this level of protection.
The prognosis for adoption of this technology? The bad news is that the company is not yet seeing the kind of adoption they would like to see among mid to low tier banks and financial institutions. The issues here are at least threefold: (a) cost is first, (b) a lack of technical ability or know-how is second, and (c) a failure to recognize that app security is an issue. How is that possible?
“They’re just trying to get the app out,” said Arneja. “They aren’t at the point where they’ve already had the app for the year. They’re just trying to get the app out and satisfy their small set of consumers, and aren’t even thinking about security at this point.”
The good news is that the team from Arxan Technologies is seeing “tremendous” adoption globally, in Japan and Korea, for example, particularly among Type A enterprises and large institutions. Arneja reported that about 42% of Arxan Technologies’ business is in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and APAC (Asia- Pacific).  

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What They Do:
Kensho is the company behind Warren, technology that uses big data analytics to help institutions do quantitative analysis on financial markets. Warren uses natural language processing technology to provide real-time answers to more than one million financially-oriented queries such as “which sectors are most impacted by hurricanes?” and “how does unrest in the Middle East effect energy stocks?” 
  • Raised $10 million in funding
  • Capable of responding intelligently to more than one million financial queries (expected to reach 100 million by end of 2014)
Warren: Big Data, Natural Language, Actionable Insights
Kensho is democratizing big data analytics for the capital markets, said Kensho Head of Strategy and Business Development, Adam Broun during a conversation at FinovateEurope in London in February. Most data providers were built years ago, he explained. And while they remain effective at providing data, they have not kept up with many of the computing advances that have been embraced by, first, the world of personal computing and, more recently, the growing market of consumer computing devices from smartphones to tablets.
In contrast, Warren expresses these ideas by using:
  • Natural language interface that lowers barriers to participation
  • Cloud computing infrastructure that lowers implementation time to zero
  • Software that works “as is” across a variety of channels including tablets and laptops
  • Visualization (“we are visual beings. Colors and shapes help you get what the graphs are telling you”)


With all the functionality of a financial platform like Warren, the question of competition with the 800 pound gorilla in the room is inevitable. And to that point, Kensho is quick to say that it has no intention of taking on Bloomberg, the financial information leviathan whose terminals have been a staple of professional trading desks for decades. “Warren is complimentary with Bloomberg,” Adam said. “We serve different purposes. We don’t want to do everything.”
That said, Adam added, he wouldn’t mind a little bit of what Bloomberg has. “You go and visit a trading desk and you look at a trader and he’s got six screens going. All of them Bloomberg. I’d like two of them to be us at some point in time,” he said with a laugh.
As a company, Kensho has raised $10 million in funding from General Catalyst, NEA Venture Capital, Accel Partners, Google Ventures, and Devonshire Investors. Accolades and positive press have flowed from all the right places like CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider and Institutional Investor. “People think it’s very cool,” Adam said. “People get it, and are very positive.”
What’s next for Warren? Broadly speaking, Kensho is considering expanding beyond U.S. equities to include other popular markets such as fixed income, global commodities, futures, and FX. As for the technology itself, Kensho anticipates that Warren will be able to respond intelligently to more than 100 million financial queries by the end of 2014 (Warren can handle about 1 million questions as of February).
At this time, the idea of expanding to broader audiences is not front of mind. Future versions with modified functionality may effectively serve a less professionally-oriented clientele of retail traders and investors. But for now, Warren is a product – or rather a tool set – for professionals.
So the next time some wise guy says something along the lines of “Oh yeah? Well, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?” you can now respond, thanks to Kensho, “Ask Warren.”


What They Do:
Kredit Aja is the name of the online and mobile marketplace developed by Plutus Software and deployed in the Indonesia market that helps traditionally underbanked borrowers connect with potential lenders. 
Kredit Aja is based on the same technology, LoanGarage, that Plutus Software successfully introduced in Singapore. Says the company “Kredit Aja is LoanGarage for Indonesia.”
  • Raised S$700,000 in seed funding
  • More than $5 million in approved loans
From Bias Against Borrowing to Helping People Meet Goals:
It’s one thing to be a growing company in a growing market. It’s quite another to be a growing company in a growing market in a part of the world that itself is synonymous with growth. 
That’s the environment Plutus Software operates in. Focused in Singapore, but moving aggressively into the Indonesia market with Kredit Aja, the company’s innovation lies in understanding how to make credit decisions in markets where traditional markets like credit scores are not available or not especially accurate.
The core proposition for Kredit Aja is that credit has been difficult to get in regions like South Asia. There are at least two factors behind this. One is the relative lack of interest on the part of many of the big brands in what are still emerging economies. A second factor is cultural. In many countries in South Asia, the idea of asking for a loan has had historically negative connotations. 
Fortunately for these countries, and for innovators like Kredit Aja, this sentiment is changing. “The feeling has changed from ‘it’s a bad thing to borrow’ to ‘we’re going to help people meet their goals.'”
And the breadth of these goals – from financing for a consumer purchase like a refrigerator to education funding and home mortgages – reflects the kind of business lines Plutus Software is growing into. In the company’s experience, many banks historically didn’t see the value, which is why Plutus Software added fe
atures like credit scoring, document verification – precisely the kind of functionality that is now helping attract banks to the company’s platform.
As a first mover in a market in which only 20% of the population have a bank account, what makes Kredit Aja unique is as much its technology as it is their innovative attitude toward credit scoring. “Traditionally banks look at past transactions,” the team from Plutus Software explained. “We look at social behavior, as well” and included everything from Facebook and Twitter activity to mobile recharge behavior.
Looking out over the balance of 2014, Plutus Software plans to improve its current portfolio of products, adding credit cards and other financial instruments (“more verticals”). Accomplishing this, in large part will mean building the Kredit Aja brand in Indonesia or “putting more boots on the ground” as the company puts it.
Another interesting challenge is that idea of branding. Growing interest in Plutus Software’s Loan Garage and Kredit Aja platforms has caused “top tier banks” to begin inquiring about white label opportunities. And this high quality problem is something that the multi-monikered company hasn’t entirely figured out how to deal with. “The main thing is that every conversation we have externally leads to another opportunity or another route,” said company CTO, Jagannathan Janagyraman. 
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly described the current funding status for Plutus Software. 

Plutus Software Launches Credit Scoring Site

This post is part of our live coverage of FinovateEurope 2014.


Plutus Software is up first, launching its credit scoring site,
“In addition to the comparison functionality for the various financial products, features predictive analytics to aid both borrowers and lenders.  For borrowers, this potentially enables creditworthy individuals to gain access to financing that they normally would not be able to obtain based on traditional credit scoring methods. At the same time, this analytics capability enables lenders on our platform to more accurately assess the risk of borrowers so as to better price the products that they are disbursing. Our proprietary credit scoring system aims to produce a more holistic assessment of a borrower’s creditworthiness via incorporating multiple data sources, including social media.”
Presenting Aidil Zulkifli (CEO) and Jagannathan Janagyraman (Group CTO)
Product Launch: February 2014
Metrics: S$700,000 raised in seed funding, 15 employees, approximately $5 million in approved loans
Product distribution strategy: Direct to Business (B2B), licensed
HQ: Singapore
Founded: February 2012

FinovateEurope 2014 Sneak Peek: Part 5


While we’re busy polishing up the details for FinovateEurope 2014, we wanted to keep our Sneak Peek series going. Below is the fifth installment of our series that gives a glimpse of what the companies will demo on stage February 11 and 12 in London. Don’t miss out on the action; get your ticket here today to see all of the demos live.

If you missed any of our earlier installments, take a look at FinovateEurope 2014 Sneak Peeks 1-4 below.

And now, meet another six companies who will be demoing next month at FinovateEurope 2014.


Arxan Technologies protects mobile apps from hackers and malware exploits with award-winning mobile app shielding products. Prevent fraud, unauthorized access and brand compromise with Arxan’s software security.


    • Strengthens financial apps with self-defense and tamper-resistance 
    • Delivers comprehensive and multi-OS application hardening
    • Deployed at the end of software development without changes to source code
Why it’s great
Arxan provides global Fortune 500 companies with the world’s strongest and most deployed application protection to launch multi-OS mobile services. 


Vince Arneja, Vice President, Product Management
Vince Arneja brings over 18 years of experience in senior level technical product and program management, with the last 10 years focused on application, endpoint and network security.


Winston Bond, European Technical Manager
With over 20 years of experience, Winston has developed software on a wide variety of embedded, desktop and mobile platforms. Winston is European Technical Manager for Arxan Technologies Inc.


CRIF sees financial institutions worldwide turn to its Credit Framework, adaptable technology, integrating predictive analytics and know-how, to achieve optimized decision-making and compliant credit processes.

    • Lending sales mobile app integrating automated decision-making, information and downstream processes
    • Mobile business intelligence for credit and lending
    • Business user-friendly KPI tracking and fine-tuning
Why it’s great
Combines lending via mobile devices with agile, business user-friendly technology to make smarter decisions in the moment.  


Aldo Bruschi Vice-President 
Aldo is a seasoned credit and decisioning expert. He is motivated by continuous innovation in applying data, predictive analytics and technology to improve credit and lending processes. 


Sheila Donohue
International credit and lending go-to-market professional and global marketer for the CRIF Credit Framework.


efigence and IdeaBank developed the first European Internet Banking for SMEs integrated with accountancy and cashflow analysis tools on the web, tablets and mobile which works in cloud.
    • First European “All-in-one” platform for SMEs including Internet Banking, accountancy and cashflow analysis module.
    • Works in the cloud
    • On web, tablets and other mobile devices
Why it’s great
This transaction system for SMEs connected with cloud accountancy systems and a company’s cashflow analysis changed the way of thinking in the banking sector about products for business.  

Andrzej Szewczyk, Managing Director at Efigence
Andrzej worked for the largest telecoms and media companies and was implementing pioneer projects that used broadband data transmission for the largest Polish websites.


Steve Sutton, Innovation Manager at efigence
Steve is focused on international business development. 


payworks makes it easy to build payments into shopper and merchant apps.
    • Easy integration of payment functionality
    • Combine shopper wallets and Chip & PIN 
    • Work with different hardware and payment providers
Why it’s great
It provides the world of mobile POS on one single platform.


Christian Deger, Co-Founder and CEO of payworks
Prior to founding payworks, Christian was responsible for building the South East Asian business of PAYRETO, a managed services company for payment providers. 


Plutus Software’s (its flagship product) features predictive analytics to aid both borrowers and lenders.
    • Superior alternative to traditional credit scoring
    • More holistic assessment of a borrower’s creditworthiness
    • Enables lenders to more accurately assess the risk of borrowers
Why it’s great’s proprietary credit scoring system aims to produce a more holistic assessment of a borrower’s creditworthiness via incorporating multiple data sources, including social media.  


Aidil Zulkifli, CEO
Aidil is a Singapore-qualified advocate and solicitor, and practiced law for more than 2 years before founding Plutus Software.


Jagannathan J., CTO
Jagannathan possesses 16 years experience as a technologist and was previously Head of Engineering at Yahoo! SEA/India and Singapore’s leading property portal,


SaaS Markets is the leading enterprise app store platform for financial companies.
    • Reduce software costs with a centralized app marketplace solution
    • Give your employees and/or your SME customers all of the cloud-based tools they need to succeed
    • Increase IT security and control
Why it’s great
SaaS Markets’ MarketMaker platform–the leading cloud marketplace platform for financial companies.


Ferdi Roberts, CEO
Ferdi is a former senior executive at Yahoo, Cisco, and Ariba. Educated at Imperial College in London, he has worked across global tech markets for the past 20 years.


Jay Manciocchi, JD, Director of Content
Jay formerly worked as a senior executive at Brafton–the U.S.’s largest content marketing agency. He has further worked at Mercer–the global consulting company.

Stay tuned next Monday, when we’ll bring you six more previews of the hottest in European fintech.

Innovations at FinovateEurope 2014: Part 2

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A week ago we introduced you to half of the companies that will be demoing their technologies on stage for FinovateEurope 2014.

Today we’re providing the second half of our scheduled roster for February.

For more information, and to get your tickets, visit our Finovate Europe 2014 page here.


Luxoft’s iStockTrack is an innovative iPad solution providing mobile banking services for private and premium banking clients.

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Matchi is an innovative matchmaking platform for banks and innovators to establish collaborative relationships that deliver increased ROI for innovators and banks alike.

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Meniga is Europe’s leading white-label PFM provider. The company helps banks improve their businesses through data-mining, cross-sales, and improved retention.


Mobino enables mobile payments for 5 billion people, from any phone, no credit card required.


The Moneyer is the future of online Personal Finance Management.

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Money on Toast delivers independent and whole of the market, FCA-regulated financial advice online via its algorithm-powered adviser.


MyOrder provides a m-commerce mobile app that serves businesses in parking, catering, and entertainment.

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myWishBoard is the first crowdfunding platform for personal dreams and wishes.

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NF Innova’s Personal Experience Module, a part of iBanking product suite, enables banks to offer their customers a truly unique and tailored user experience.


Nostrum Group has built a virtual collection product that automates and optimizes the delinquency management process.

Thumbnail image for nous_net_logo.jpg’s Spark Feed is a real-time financial data service that helps you understand and predict the markets.


payworks is the provider of a mobile POS, Software-as-a-Service platform that lets developers quickly build payment functionality into their shopper and merchant apps.

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PhotoPay’s technology allows users to extract data from any document, paper or electronic, enabling billpay on mobile devices.


Pixeliris’s CopSonic is the first universal contactless mobile payment system powered by our unique technology based on sonic communication.


Plutus Software’s KreditAja credit scoring system is designed to better serve the unbanked and underbanked in Asia.

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SaaS Markets is an enterprise cloud marketplace company whose MarketMaker platform helps FIs deploy their own branded, cloud-based business app store.

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SmartEngine stands for personalization and target marketing. As pioneers in the field of customer loyalty, Smart Engine is a driver of innovation and a leader in personalized target marketing.


SoftWear Finance’s HACU PLATFORM enables banks to provide customers with the best possible user experience on any platform or device.

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SQLI’s Augmented Banking is a new take at Online Banking. It is aimed at positioning a bank at the very center of people’s digital lives.

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Temenos’s Treasury Management Dashboard tablet app has been developed for Microsoft Windows 8 and enables the transformation of treasury operations.


Tink is a free personal finance service that allows you to follow your money, where ever you are.

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Tootpay’s solution is a mobile financial solution for payments, banking, telecommunications, and remittance industries.


Top Image Systems has leveraged its deep recognition and imaging expertise to develop a powerful suite of image processing applications for mobile devices.


Topicus Finan is a software vendor specializing in enterprise-level financial analysis. Its solution enables banks to provide self-service business lending processes for SMEs.


Toshl Finance is a personal finance manager made fun. Find out where your money is going, keep on top of bills and spending, and set up budgets.


Truphone, the innovative mobile operator, introduces the only global network-based recording solution for the Financial Industry.


Trustev provides a new approach to fraud prevention through a real-time, online identity verification platform, which ensures that merchants know exactly who they are selling to.


Yseop Sales Force Productivity Suite and its email writing application (YseMail) support financial advisors through the entire sales cycle.