Nearly half the companies at FinovateSpring this year were making their Finovate debuts. And our Behind the Scenes series is designed specifically to help you get to know these Finovate newbies better.
If you missed any one of our earlier episodes, check out our handy Behind the Scenes directory to the series below.
- ChiaraMail, Dealstruck, and Lending Robot
- Market Prophit, Nearex, and Sureify
- Tactile Finance, Visible Equity, and Vorstack
- Rippleshot, TextPower, and WePay
- CUneXus, ID.me, and Venovate
Today we take a closer look at another trio of Finovate newcomers: pitchbook specialist Pellucid Analytics
, Red Giant
with its lockable debit card, and mobile-authentication-meets-mobile-payments innovator, Zumigo
What they do
In short, Pellucid Analytics “fixes pitchbooks.”
Here’s why that’s a big deal. Pitchbooks are a key part of the investment banking business. They can essentially make the difference, expressed in data, as to whether a company is worthy of new investment, continued investment, or no investment at all.
The problem is that putting pitchbooks together is a very labor-intensive, time-consuming task. So much so that Pellucid Analystics CEO and co-founder Adrian Crockett says the junior investment bankers who build them often consider it among the least appealing aspects of their job.
Pellucid Analytics makes this process easier for all involved. The company’s iPad and browser-based technology takes the half of pitchbook formation that is relatively standard in the business, and automates much of it. Pellucid provides pre-rendered content, pre-designed charts, all pre-populated with the necessary corporate data. In addition to helping save time, this approach reduces the error rate as well.
- Company founded in November 2011
- Technology launched in April 2014
- 39 team members
- Pre-rendered content populates 40% of the typical pitchbook
“Review, select, tweak, tell” is the way co-founder and Chief Scientist Jamie Ballingall describes the process of building pitchbooks using Pellucid. The technology leverages a sizable variety of templates and drag and drop technology to make the initial composition process faster and easier.
Start in the library where the charts are kept. The way that data is presented in these charts can be customized so that investment bankers are looking at and presenting the data they way they believe it is best presented. Drag the charts down to the content drawer in order to select the charts to be used in the pitchbook.
Actually building the pitchbook is simply a matter of dragging the charts from the drawer back into the main field (the “Deck”) in the preferred order. Here again charts can be reconfigured, giving the pitchbook builder some flexibility in terms of design, such as multiple-exhibit layouts, or the ability to respond faster to requests for changes.
Above: Zoomed out library, with the content drawer open and an exhibit in the process of being dragged into the drawer.
And because pitchbooks themselves are sales instruments (“the physical representations of the ideas” financial institutions sell), how they look is paramount. To this end, in addition to being repopulated with up-to-date market data and information, Pellucid’s pitchbooks are custom formatted to match corporate brands. “It means I can use them immediately,” Jamie explains, “They’re ready to go.”
The small amounts of time-saving, the 20 minutes here, the 15 minutes, there, are where Pellucid shines. Rather than re-inventing pitchbooks, Pellucid simply takes advantage of the fact that many bankers are still operating on technology that is in some instances more than 20 years old. This allows bankers the ability to focus on the stories, the “tell” in Pellucid’s model, behind the opportunities they are trying to provide to their clients and customers.
Above: Slide editor, with the drawer open and an exhibit being dragged into a placeholder.
For Adrian, the argument in favor of Pellucid’s solution is as simple as math. Major investment banks spend half a billion dollars every year on pitchbook production. And as Pellucid learned when doing research on pitchbook development, the average 42-page pitchbook with an average price tag of $40,000 actually took more than 135 pages during the ideation process. Given this, the opportunity became clear.
“Pellucid can automate 40% of the process, saving bankers hundreds of millions of dollars a year,” said Adrian.
With their Finovate debut and platform launch behind them, Pellucid Analytics is focused currently on the investment banking community. But the company sees itself looking at other verticals, such as high net worth individuals, as early as 2015.
What they do
The virtue of Red Giant’s solution is in its simplicity: the company’s technology allows consumers to “lock” their debit card when it is not being used (i.e., most of the time). The card can be unlocked using Red Giant’s mobile app, and consumers can take and shop with their card anywhere regular credit and debit cards are accepted.
Asked about the customer experience, Red Giant CEO Robert Sears talks about how quickly the technology draws a crowd at the point of sale. “People have a visceral reaction,” he says. The task at hand now, he adds, is “to get the technology out to as many people as possible as fast as possible.”
- Company founded in June 2008
- Technology launched in April 2014
Red Giant’s solution consists of a MasterCard debit card and a mobile app that gives the cardholder the ability to completely control the payment card. Not only that, but consumers can use the app to see their account balance, compare spending versus savings targets, and read on-screen receipts.
As Red Giant CEO Robert Sears explains, a locked card will be declined at the point of sale. When a consumer wants to unlock her card, all she has to do is touch the lock icon, which overlays the Red Giant logo. Once unlocked, the app shows the account balance and free-to-spend calculations for the month.
Unlocking the card, says Robert, “puts a SecureZone around you.” As soon as the consumer leaves this zone, the card automatically locks.
The app also provides an on-screen receipt for each purchase or transaction. Consumers can manage receipts by taking notes, categorizing them within a budget, as well as a few other management functions.
For online purchases, the app can serve as a digital card. The digital card, Robert emphasizes, is a separate card: separate number, separate source of funds, etc. from your physical card. One advantage here is that if the consumer’s physical card is stolen, there is no need to change the card on file at the consumer’s online merchants where the completely separate digital card was used.
Currently Red Giant’s app is iOS-ready and works with a MasterCard debit card. An Android app is considered among the company’s next steps – potentially as early as the second half of 2014 – as is the idea of bringing in additional cards that can be used with the app.
Additional features could also be a part of Red Giant’s near-term future. Robert talks about providing tools to enhance day-to-day financial decision-making in the app, as well as budgeting assistance. Red Giant is available right now only by invitation, and those interested in drawing your own crowd around the old POS the next time you’re out shopping, are encouraged to give the technology a try.
What they do
Nowhere is the challenge of blending convenience and security more prominent than at the nexus of retail commerce and mobile payments.
While consumers often claim to want ever more secure transactions, merchants know that additional anti-fraud measures can cost them customers who find new or added security to be nuisance enough to abandon the site.
Zumigo’s Assure technology seeks to take on both the issues of convenience and security in the same solution. The company’s mobile-identity technology now both enables secure transactions for all mobile phone activities, as well as making commerce shopping that much more efficient for consumers.
- Company founded in December 2009
- Technology launched in April 2014
How does Zumigo’s Assure work? In the words of CEO and founder Chirag Bakshi, Assure almost turns an e-commerce website into an Amazon Prime-like operation, moving consumers quickly, efficiently, and securely through the shopping process.
Below is a screenshot of the Express Checkout screen for a commerce site enabled with Zumigo’s Assure. Consumers shop as they would on any mobile device and, when they’re ready to pay, access the Express Checkout.
Here, after entering the last four digits of the credit card and the CVV, the technology identifies the owner of the mobile device and gives the user the option of having the form completed based on that information.
While the information can still be entered manually, the autofill option for the consumer is faster and designed to reduce both error, fraud and, potentially, customer abandonment.
Zumigo accomplishes this ID authentication through relationships with mobile carriers that allow their technology to dynamically identify the mobile device.
And speaking of relationships, it is the one with Equifax that has enabled Zumigo to make their most recent step: combining mobile identification with payment information. This further reduces the need for manual data-entry on the mobile device. No prior account or relationship with the merchant is necessary, nor does the technology need to access other apps or features like address books to retrieve data. Instead, Zumigo’s technology pulls it from the network itself. “Only your phone knows your data,” explains Chirag.
Below is an example of what Zumigo looks like from the point of view of the merchant. The consumer data that populates the form comes from a server-side analysis that Zumigo sends to the merchant. As the screenshot shows, the verification process includes matching names and addresses, as well as geolocation information.
At root, Zumigo’s Assure approaches the issue of secure mobile payments and identification in a tripartite fashion: locating the consumer as being in the correct place to make the transaction; identifying the legitimacy of the device being used; and, last, authenticating the owner of the device.
“Even if the SIM card is swapped or the phone is stolen the account is still secure because of this triangulation,” said Chirag.
Stay tuned for our next Behind the Scenes feature next week.