Meet Sonect: Cash Network Builder, Finovate Newcomer, Best of Show Winner

Photo by Alexander Mils from Pexels

What’s better than having a large pizza with all your favorite toppings delivered to your front door?

How about a side order of cash, saving you a trip to the ATM or bank branch?

Sonect, which won Best of Show in its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in Berlin earlier this month, leverages what it calls a social network for cash to help people get the cash they need wherever they are. Based in Zurich, Switzerland and founded in 2016 by CEO Sandipan Chakraborty, the company enables merchants ranging from cafes and coffee shops to pharmacies and bodegas to benefit from the additional customer traffic of Sonect customers.

At the same time, banks can extend their ATM networks with Sonect, avoiding the expense of purchasing and maintaining additional cash distribution hardware.

The solution works simply for the user. After downloading the Sonect iOS or Android app, the user creates a Sonect account. They then select their preferred shop or merchant and the amount of cash they wish to withdraw. The merchant will scan the barcode in the user’s Sonect app, and the funds will automatically be deducted from your account as soon as the transaction is confirmed. The user then receives their cash.

Both banking accounts as well as credit card accounts can be used with Sonect (both Visa and Mastercard are currently accepted.) The solution is free of charge for both users and shops.

Sonect IT Project Manager Thai Nguyen and CEO Sandipan Chakraborty demonstrating the company’s virtual ATM network at FinovateEurope 2020.

Sonect was inspired in part by observing the slow rate of adoption of new technologies like Apple Pay. A self-described “strong believer of (the) death of cash (at) the hand of mobile payments,” Chakraborty nevertheless saw an opportunity to help bridge the gap between the custom and convenience of cash and the opportunities of digital alternatives that have yet to be fully embraced by banks, consumers, and merchants. It’s also worth noting that Switzerland is a country where cash is still very much king; the Swiss National Bank reports that 70% of all transactions in the country are still in cash.

Chakraborty credits enabling technologies like blockchain and open banking APIs for making Sonect possible. An IT Project/Program Delivery Manager with Credit Suisse for more than 12 years, he likens Sonect to a platform similar to Uber and Airbnb that is able to create a vast, service network – in transportation, accommodations, or, in Sonect’s case, for cash withdrawal – without having to bear the burden of building and maintaining a vast physical infrastructure to go along with it.

The Sonect team picks up a Best of Show award in its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope.

Currently available only in Switzerland, there are more than 2,500 shops partnered with Sonect. That said, Chakraborty noted, “We are in a phase where we are expanding within Europe,” adding that because of the company’s Best of Show award, he believes “the word (about Sonect) will spread quicker than we anticipated,” Chakraborty also said that the company has been in conversations with banks “across Europe, across the continent” about potential partnerships.

Sonect has raised more than $8.7 million (CHF 8.5 million) in funding from investors including SixThirty and Loomis AB. The company has 25 employees in its offices in Zurich; Vilnius, Lithuania; and Mexico City, Mexico.

Intuit’s $7 Billion Bid for Credit Karma; FinovateEurope Salutes its Best of Show

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

How’s $7 billion for good karma? One of Finovate’s earliest alums Credit Karma is reportedly the target of what would be Intuit’s biggest acquisition to date. According to The Wall Street Journal, the cash and stock deal could be announced as early as Monday.

Credit Karma will continue to function as an independent company with founder and CEO Kenneth Lin at the helm. The acquisition gives Intuit, maker of online tax filing service TurboTax, another contact point with the online personal finance world. Credit Karma provides its members with access to their credit scores and borrowing histories, helps them monitor their accounts for security breaches and, perhaps most relevantly, has offered a free online tax preparation service since 2017.

If the deal holds up, Intuit will be paying a significant premium for Credit Karma. The personal financial wellness company was last valued at $4 billion, based on a 2018 private market transaction.


With another Finovate conference in the books, our Finovate Best of Show ranks has a new set of members. Congratulations to Dorsum, Glia, Horizn, iProov, Sonect, and W.UP for taking home top honors earlier this month at FinovateEurope!

The victory may have been especially sweet for Sonect, whose Best of Show award-winning demo was also the company’s Finovate debut. The Switzerland-based start-up offers what it calls “the world’s first social cash network” that enables consumers to access cash without having to visit a bank branch or ATM. Sonect offers merchants the ability to grow their business via increased traffic and gives financial institutions a way to extend their ATM networks without the cost of additional hardware.

The Best of Show win was also a first for Horizn. The company, which made its Finovate debut three years ago at FinovateEurope, offers a platform that helps employees and customers maximize the opportunities of digitized financial services. Horizn uses simulator microlearning, as well as gamification and advanced analytics, to promote digital adoption across channels.

And last but not least, a special tip of the hat to Dorsum, Glia, iProov, and W.UP, all of whom won Best of Show honors at FinovateEurope for a second year in a row.


Here’s a round up of recent news from our Finovate alumni.

  • Larky enters reseller agreement with Access Softek.
  • Bison Bank in Lisbon, Portugal selects PSD2-ready software from ndigit.
  • Techround interviews Tradeshift co-founder Mikkel Hippe Brun.
  • Bremer Bank leverages Backbase’s digital-first banking platform to fuel digital transformation.
  • Paysend’s multi-currency global account launches in Europe.
  • Kinetica launches Kinetica Cloud.
  • Futurex taps ISARA to bring quantum-safe cryptography and crypto-agility into its Key Management Enterprise Server (KMES) Series 3.
  • With new FCA license, Meniga seeks to expand product offering.
  • StrategyCorps and Digital Onboarding partner to help banks grow checking account relationships.
  • Baker Hill renews partnership with Washington Trust Bank to streamline loan origination and portfolio risk management.
  • Aire launches Credit Insight Suite to improve access to credit.
  • Coinbase becomes Visa principal to offer more feature for Coinbase Card customers.
  • InComm partners with Eezi to launch Poundland’s gift card program.
  • Enveil secures $10 million in Series A funding for secure data collaboration.
  • Trulioo adds image capture SDK to Trulioo GlobalGateway.
  • Amaiz taps ValidSoft for voice authentication.
  • OurCrowd expands focus on growing early stage tech companies.

Finovate Alum Features and Profiles

eToro’s Evolution – Social trading and investment platform eToro has never been one to stand still for very long. The company’s development cycle is fast enough to make even the most sprightly fintech jealous.

Lending Club Snaps Up Radius Bank for $185 Million – When Lending Club was founded in 2007, the startup aimed to serve as a place to help borrowers avoid dealing with banks. In a somewhat ironic move today, that same startup is becoming a bank itself.

Breach Clarity’s New Offering Provides Consumers Personalized Protection – Fraud detection and prevention company Breach Clarity announced this week it has developed a new platform to help financial service providers offer personalized protection for their customers.

New SumUp Card Empowers SMEs as Business Payment Makers and Takers – The company that has helped bring fintech innovation to e-commerce with its mobile point-of-sale (mPOS), card reading solutions now offers merchants a card of their own.

FinovateEurope Best of Show Winners Announced

The votes are in and the people have spoken! Congratulations to the winners of Best of Show at FinovateEurope in Berlin, Germany!

Dorsum for its Communication HUB that provides real-time, private, banking customer engagement through automated notifications and instant human and AI chat possibilities.

Glia for its digital customer service platform that connects financial institutions to their customers using chat, voice, video, cobrowsing, and AI.

Horizn for its focus on equipping frontline employees and customers directly with the knowledge to improve customer experience and increase digital adoption.

iProov for its solutions – used in production globally by governments and banks – that use biometrics to authenticate users online.

Sonect for its easy-to-use and accessible for everyone, everywhere global platform for cash transactions.

W.UP for its banking personalization platform that turns data into better banking.

Thanks to all the demoing companies that took the time and effort to demonstrate their innovations live on stage. Thanks also the City of Berlin for being such a wonderful host for our first conference of the new year and new decade. We are already looking forward to returning in 2021!


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 six 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
FinovateFall 2019
FinovateAsia 2019
FinovateMiddleEast 2019

FinovateEurope Sneak Peek: SONECT

A look at the companies demoing at FinovateFall on September 14-16, 2020. Register today and save your spot.

Sonect provides the largest ATM network in Switzerland and changes the way interaction happens with cash by allowing cash withdrawals anytime and anywhere with a smartphone.

Features

  • Easy integration already included in several core banking systems
  • Offer customers a large network of ATMs
  • Internationally licensed with e-money institution (EMI)

Why It’s Great
Withdraw cash with your smartphone – anytime, anywhere.

Presenters

Sandipan Chakraborty, CEO & Founder
Chakraborty is an ex-banker specializing in payments, core banking and regulatory compliance. He believes cash behaviour is changing and Sonect creates a path into the digital future.
LinkedIn

Thai Nguyen, IT Project Manager
Nguyen assures the high-quality of all IT products (Android, iOS, web) to meet Sonect’s customer expectation in order to make cash easily accessible everywhere!
LinkedIn