Finovate Alumni News– December 13, 2011

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  • Visa certifies authentication system from Transecq’s sister company, ENTERSECT.
  • New Scientist recommends borrowing from the crowd by using P2P sites Zopa, Prosper, & Lending Club.
  • Freewaregenius recommends using ReadyForZero to pay off and manage debt.
  • Yahoo! Finance reports SecondMarket’s Barry Silbert contributed investments to SponsorHub’s $750,000 round.
  • PayNearMe enables BHPH auto dealers to expand collection of cash payments.
  • Kabbage secures $12 million in financing.
  • ThreatMetrix wins Red Herring Global 100.
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.

Visa’s V.me Mobile Wallet To Compete With PayPal

V.meIMG.jpg

Yesterday, Visa unveiled its V.me mobile wallet that will compete with PayPal in “card number-shielded” online/mobile payments. 

Key features:

  • Use on PC, tablet, or mobile device
  • Use multiple cards
  • Need only username and password to checkout online

V.me hopes to differentiate itself from PayPal by also supporting payments at the physical point-of-sale. However, PayPal is working on that as well. 

VisaScrnSht.jpg

The service is currently invite-only in the U.S. and Canada, but Visa hopes to make it publicly available in early 2012.

To learn more about Visa, watch its FinovateSpring 2010 demo.

Finovate Alumni Website Traffic in September

Each month we survey the Web-traffic performance of Finovate alums using data from Web-analytics company Compete.
Out of 268 alumni, 80 had more than 10,000 unique U.S. visitors in September 2011 and are included in the tables below. Of those, 33 (41%) had more visitors in September than August. Year-over-year, 42 (52%) had traffic increases.
Private Companies
  • Seeking Alpha and Cortera had the highest traffic in September with 2.1 and 2.0 million unique visitors, respectively. Cortera also had the highest increase in number of unique year-over-year visits with over 1.5 more visits in 2011 than in 2010.
  • Kabbage had the highest percentage growth year-over-year, up 280x.
  • Weemba saw the highest monthly growth percentage with more than 7.5 times the number of unique visitors in September compared to August.
  • SmartCredit.com had the highest increase in number of unique year-over-year visitors, growing by 126,000.
PrivateWebTrafficSeptember2.jpg
Source: Compete.com retrieved the week of October 26, 2011
 
1) The previous month recorded was August 2011
2) Sears Credit Score is powered by CreditKarma.com
3) Truaxis was formerly BillShrink
4) Kasasa is powered by BancVue
Public companies
 
  • CheckFree had the highest percentage growth year-over-year, with over 7 times the number of visitors this year than last year.
  • Intuit had a notable increase in number of unique, year-over-year visitors, increasing by 300,000 visits.
  • Check Point had the highest month-over-month percent growth, with 41% more visitors in September than in August.
PublicWebTrafficSeptember2.jpgSource: Compete.com retrieved the week of October 26, 2011

1) The previous month recorded was July 2011.
_______________________________________________________
Notes:
1. We reviewed 268 Finovate alumni. Only those with at least 10,000 unique visitors in July are listed.
3. NM = not measurable
4. t= tie
5. Compete estimates online visitors based on the activity of a panel of more than 2 million U.S. Internet users. It is only an estimate of traffic and may undercount at-work usage.

Finovate Alumni Website Traffic in August

Each month we survey the Web-traffic performance of Finovate alums using data from Web-analytics company Compete
Out of 268 alumni, 75 had more than 10,000 unique U.S. visitors in August 2011 and are included in the tables below. Of those, 41 (55%) had more visitors in August than July. Year-over-year, 45 (60%) had traffic increases.
Private Companies
  • Seeking Alpha — the most-trafficked in August with 2.5 million unique visitors — also had the highest increase in number of unique month-over-month visits with 300,000 more visits in August than in July.
  • Budgettracker.com saw the highest monthly growth percentage with more than 6.5 times the number of unique visitors in August compared to July.
  • Betterment had the highest percentage growth year-over-year, up 88x.
  • Cortera had the highest number of unique year-over-year visitors, growing by 1.5 million. 
August2011PrivateWebTraffic4.jpg
Source: Compete.com retrieved week of October 3, 2011
1) The previous month recorded was July 2011
2) Truaxis was formerly BillShrink
4) Kasasa is powered by BancVue
5) Checkingfinder.com is powered by BancVue

Public Companies

  • Fiserv had the highest month-over-month percent growth, with 50% more visitors.
  • CheckFree had the highest percentage growth year-over-year, with over 5 times the number of visitors.
  • S1 also had a high percentage growth year-over-year, doubling its visitors.
August2011PublicWebTraffic5.jpg
Source: Compete.com retrieved the week of October 3, 2011
1) The previous month recorded was July 2011.
_______________________________________________________
Notes:
1. We reviewed 268 Finovate alumni. Only those with at least 10,000 unique visitors in July are listed. 
3. NM = Not measurable
4. t= Tie
5. Compete estimates online visitors based on the activity of a panel of more than 2 million U.S. Internet users. It is only an estimate of traffic and may undercount at-work usage.

Finovate Alumni at BAI Retail Delivery Conference

BAIIMG2.jpg

The BAI Retail Delivery conference begins tomorrow with 29 Finovate alumni participating in sessions and/or exhibiting on the trade show floor.
Session Speakers
  • Tuesday, Global Game-Changer Session
    Speaker: Jim Taschetta from FreeMonee
  • Wednesday, Technology for Business Summit 
    Speaker: Mitch Jacobs from On Deck Capital
  • Wednesday, Technology for Business Summit Session 
    Speaker: David Eads from Kony Solutions
  • Thursday, Technology for Business Summit Session
    Speaker: Eric Connors from Yodlee
  • Thursday, Marketing & Product Management Summit Session 
    Speaker: Rod Witmond from Cardlytics
Exhibitors 
BAI Mobile Link
Mobile Link Panel Discussions
Solutions Theatre
Jim Bruene and I (julie@netbanker.com) will be in attendance and will update the blog and Twitter with new developments throughout the event. 

Flash Marketing Addendum: Co-branded Payments

In my post yesterday about flash marketing via Groupon and LivingSocial, I neglected to mention another interesting opportunity: working directly with the marketing companies to add your brand to the service.

imageBecause payments and credit are crucial to ecommerce success, financial brands are a logical addition to the checkout process. And Visa just so happens to be featured today at LivingSocial (see inset and screenshots below).

Anyone who buys today’s Seattle deal, a $25 restaurant certificate for $10, automatically gets a second certificate to use as a gift, if they pay by Visa Signature card (see notes 1, 2). It’s hard to say what Visa is paying for the promotion, but given the massive website traffic and transaction activity, it’s likely a pricey sponsorship (note 3).

Email from LivingSocial with Visa branded add-on offer (28 July 2010)

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Landing page (link)

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Notes:
1. Some interesting items in the fine print for the Visa-sponsored comp certificate:
– valid only for Visa Signature cards, which might irritate some non-Signature Visa customers
– offer not valid for purchases made via iPhone (there must be something in the shopping cart that does not work on the iPhone)
2. My saved credit card in the site is a MasterCard; when I went to purchase the deal, there was no mention of the free certificate, nor any prompt to switch to Visa.
3. The merchant is receiving $5 for each certificate issued under the main deal. Visa’s sponsorship would need to cover some compensation to the merchant, but perhaps at less than $5 each, since fewer of the gifted certificates will be redeemed. It looks to be a popular offer, having sold almost 2,600 units (by 7 PM), with almost 10 hours remaining.

Last Chance for FinovateSpring Early-Bird Tickets — Only 2 Days Left to Save!

FinovateSpring 2010 LogoJust a quick reminder that the early-bird ticket prices for FinovateSpring 2010 (May 11, San Francisco) will expire at the end of March (less than 2 days from now). If you register by March 31, you’ll save $100 on your ticket and lock in your spot to see debuts and demos of dozens of new financial and banking technological innovations. 

We’ve handpicked an amazing list of companies to demo their latest including:

Tickets are selling well with hundreds of registered attendees from great organizations like: 

  • AARP
  • BNP Paribas
  • CBS
  • Experian
  • Google
  • Intuit
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Mechanics Bank
  • Tower Group
  • USAA
  • Visa
  • Aite
  • Capital One
  • Celent
  • Filene
  • H&R Block
  • Jack Henry
  • Motley Fool
  • Target
  • PayPal
  • US Bank
  • Wells Fargo
  • Alliant Credit Union
  • Canaan Partners
  • Discover
  • Forrester Research
  • ING DIRECT
  • Highland Capital
  • Javelin Research
  • NY Times
  • TransUnion
  • Venrock
  • Wired Magazine

FinovateSpring is one of our twice-yearly showcases of the best new ideas in banking and financial technology. The show is built around a unique blend of fast-paced demos of actual technology (no slides!) and high-quality networking with an audience of senior FI executives, fintech entrepreneurs, VCs, press, industry analysts and bloggers. It’s an awesome environment to find your next competitive edge.

Don’t miss out on the early-bird price on your ticket to this great show. Register now!

P.S. Online Banking Report subscribers are entitled to an extra discount to our Finovate conferences. Email me to get it.


ericphoto.jpgEric Mattson is CEO of Online Financial Innovations, the parent company of NetBanker, Online Banking Report and the Finovate Conference Series. He can be reached at eric@netbanker.com.

FinovateSpring 2010 Demo Companies Revealed

FinovateSpring-date-web.png

We’re very pleased to announce the lineup for the upcoming FinovateSpring 2010 conference. Taking place on Tuesday May 11 in San Francisco, the conference will showcase dozens of handpicked companies debuting and demoing their latest and greatest fintech innovations. The quality of the new ideas that will be demoed on stage is very high this year and we’re incredibly excited to showcase them to you.

The demoing companies selected (that we can reveal so far) are:

These companies will be showcased to an audience of senior financial/banking/credit union executives, influential press, industry analysts, venture capitalists, bloggers, tech companies and entrepreneurs.

A sampling of the great organizations already registered to attend includes: AARP, Aite, Alliant Credit Union, BNP Paribas, Capital One, Celent, Discover, Experian, Fidelity, Filene, Forrester Research, Google, Highland Capital, Intuit, Javelin Strategy, Jack Henry, Mechanics Bank, Motley Fool, NY Times, PayPal, Tower Group, USAA, US Bank, Venrock, Wells Fargo, and Wired Magazine.

We’d love to have you join us at the spring event and watch the future of finance/banking unfold onstage. If you register today you’ll save $100 via the early-bird ticket discount. Please note that the early-bird prices expire at the end of this month and space is limited so lock in your spot now!


ericphoto.jpgEric Mattson is CEO of Online Financial Innovations, the parent company of NetBanker, Online Banking Report and the Finovate Conference Series. He can be reached at eric@netbanker.com.

Visa Announces Android and P2P Mobile Initiatives

image Visa today put a stake in the ground to be viewed as the innovation leader, a position that American Express has claimed for some time with its chip cards, social media efforts, and even an online lab site. At today’s “innovation briefing” in NYC, Visa announced several pilots and upcoming initiatives.

Mobile person-to-person transfers
The most far-reaching announcement was the ability for Visa cardholders to transfer funds from one card to another via mobile device. So far, just one bank is participating in the pilot. US Bank says it will make the service available to a few thousand cardholders as a test later this year. PaymentsNews has more details here.

It sounds good, but as always the devil is in the details. For instance:

  • Through what hoops will cardholders have to jump to enable their card and phone for the service?
  • Will the transfers be treated as cash advances triggering fees and finance charges?
  • Will it be available to all cardholders using any mobile phones? 

Visa jumps on the android bandwagon
A more immediate innovation is a location-and-alert-based service built for Google’s android platform, a new mobile system launching in late October. Visa’s new service, to be rolled out initially by Chase Bank (no time frame given), promises some important new developments:

  • “Near real-time” purchase alerts (see note 1) so you can see immediately whether your server added an extra digit in front of your tip on that bar tab. The real-time alert pilot was announced a month ago (here) involving several thousand accounts at PNC Bank, SunTrust Bank, US Bank, Wachovia, Wells Fargo, Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank, and Vancity.
  • Visa merchant finder based on your location-based/GPS technology  (nice!) with targeted marketing offers (hmmm??). The merchant locations will be integrated with Google Maps.

Again, PaymentsNews has the entire press release here.

Notes:
1. Visa says that the alerts will arrive “typically before (the consumer) leaves the store.”

2. For more information, see our Online Banking Report on Mobile Money & Payments.

Visa Launches Business Network on Facebook

image After seeing the little blurb buried deep in today’s Wall Street Journal
(p. B-9), I checked out the press release, and then headed to Facebook to see Visa’s new app aimed at small businesses. To gain that all-important viral effect, Visa is giving away $2 million in Facebook advertising credits, $100 to the first 20,000 businesses that join its new The Visa Business Network on Facebook (see note 1).

Visa’s Facebook page advertising the network looks good (see screenshot below). It’s very “corporate,” but I prefer that over lame attempts to look hip. It’s dominated by a large video at the top explaining the program, plus three more along the bottom explaining other aspects. 

Visa Business Network (promotional) page on Facebook (24 June 2008)

Visa Business Network on Facebook page 24 June 2008

Selecting the Join this Network button takes you to a page where you are encouraged to add the Visa Business Network app to your Facebook profile. After adding the app, you must complete a short form to identify your business to the network and upload a picture if desired.

Visa Business Network app signup 24 June 2008

It only takes a few minutes, and your company is visible to anyone searching the Visa Business Network. It doesn’t appear that Visa’s network is searchable through the regular Facebook search. If and when that happens, the network would gain considerably more value.

Here’s how my Visa Business Network page looked after uploading a graphic:

Online Banking Report page on Visa Business Network 24 June 2008

Summary
The application also features a Business Resource section with the usual collection of business tools (from Google), articles and videos plus an Ask the Expert section. 

While the idea of a general business network within a larger network seems a bit superfluous, Facebook isn’t exactly known to be particularly accommodating to business needs. Maybe this will work. Certainly, if Visa attracts the 20,000 businesses it’s earmarked advertising credits for, it will have a head start on others wanting to do the same thing.

However, we wonder how much effort the card giant will devote to the service. It doesn’t seem to align that closely to its core card-processing business. But if its goal is to merely improve brand recognition with small business owners, it could be a valuable effort. Clearly Visa has the deep pockets to fund it for the long term. Who knows, maybe some lucky Business Network member will appear in a Visa Super Bowl ad some day. 

Note:
1. The $100 advertising credit was handled flawlessly. A few minutes after joining the network, I received an email to my main email account explaining how to redeem the credit.

Juniper Bank, UBS Wealth Management Create a Clever Marketing Tool

UBS Wealth Management US last week launched a new payments-card package for its brokerage customers that among other things cleverly turns an ordinary American Express card into what amounts to a debit card. The program was created for UBS by Barclay’s PLC’s Juniper Bank unit.

The whole idea is to bind its customers to the U.S. brokerage unit of Zurich-based UBS by giving them a payments-card package that the firm hopes will be their primary spending vehicle, says Peter Stanton, executive director of the UBS unit’s Banking Strategy Group. It’s not an effort to enter the very tight U.S. credit card business

“It’s definitely not our intention to be another credit card provider,” he says. “This is a consolidation strategy; it’s all connected to our role as their primary wealth-management advisor, and ties them closer to us because of the services we provide.”

On the surface, the package is an ordinary Visa credit card and an ordinary American Express charge card, bundled with a very extravagant rewards program that offers cardholders enticements like jet fighter rides or a sleepover at FAO Schwartz. Rewards run from one point to 1.5 points per dollar spent, depending on whether the customer chooses the basic “Select” Visa card or one of the more elite Visa cards that carry annual membership fees of up to $1,500. UBS says it has about 15,000 such accounts.

By offering its brokerage customers such payment packages, UBS joins a widening club of brokerage companies trying to retain customers whose loyalty is mercurial at best. “With acquisition costs so high, and turnover very high also, the emphasis has been to keep the customers they already paid for, happy,” says Ariana-Michele Moore, a senior analyst with Celent Communications.

The Amex card allowed UBS and Juniper to create a vehicle that functions like a debit card from the user’s perspective—UBS calls the card a “delayed debit card,” though Amex insists that the cards are ordinary Amex cards—while earning the issuer the much higher American Express interchange fees.

It does this by an interesting sleight of hand that seems to be built around the fact that none of the parties to the deal care what the card is called, as long as they get what they want from it. Cardholders use the Amex card like an ordinary debit card, including being able to use it to withdraw surcharge-free cash at ATMs that accept Amex cards. At the end of the month, their central brokerage account, or RMA (resource management account), is automatically debited, and no bill is sent to the customer. Purchases are limited to the funds available.

This way, UBS gets what amounts to a debit card for its customers, while Amex and Juniper get full price for an Amex card. And as an added bonus, Juniper gets a piece of the debit card market, which is quickly overtaking credit cards as the payment vehicle of choice in the United States.

How the parties came up with this deal is unknown. UBS’ Stanton says his shop approached Juniper around August of 2004 as part of a typical RFP process, and went to contract last April. Juniper refused any comment on the matter, referring all questions to UBS.

“It has in-between functionality,” says Stanton. “It functions as a debit in the sense that it accesses your available funds; it functions as a charge card because the charges accrue, and instead of having to make some sort of payment, the payment is automatic.” The idea, he adds, was to allow purchases to be made without interfering with a client’s trading accounts.

All in all, it’s a smart deal, says Celent's Moore—among other things, because people with brokerage accounts are typically wealthier, and travel overseas, so that the package gives UBS clients a secure spending vehicle.

“It’s all about providing flexibility to their brokerage customers, but it could also be enticement for people considering opening a UBS account—it could be the thing that tips the scale,” she says. (Contact: UBS Wealth Management US, 212-882-5698; Celent Communications, Ariana-Michele Moore, 503-617-6112)

Billeo Powers Bill Pay at Visa.com

Visa_billeo_searchboxLast week, Visa USA redesigned its direct bill-pay area using Billeo’s technology to power biller search and facilitate direct payments via credit card. It is a major coup for the fledgling direct bill-pay solutions provider Billeo, which earned an Online Banking Report Best of the Web last year for its innovative bill-pay toolbar (OBR 116/117).

The implementation at Visa bears careful review. It wisely uses biller search to engage users (see inset), then prompts them to save their personal biller list using Billeo. After registering, users download and install the toolbar directly into their browser, Billeo_visa_mainthen input credit card information to facilitate payments. After the initial setup, users can pay select bills directly from the toolbar using the saved credit card and biller info.

Next week, we’ll look at Visa’s implementation in more detail and share insights from our conversation with Billeo founder, Murali Subbarao. In the meantime, you might want to give it a spin yourself at Visa’s bill-pay site, <usa.visa.com/personal/using_visa/pay_bills_with_visa/> (click on screenshot right for a closer look).

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