Intelligent automation: Transforming FI customer interactions and backend operations

Intelligent automation has emerged as a transformative solution to revolutionize both customer interactions and backend operations. Through technologies like chatbots, virtual assistants, automated workflows, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and data analytics, financial institutions can provide personalized support, streamline processes, reduce errors and ensure regulatory compliance.  

Joselenys Moreno, researcher, Cloudsquare

This article explores the power of intelligent automation, highlighting its ability to enhance customer experiences and drive operational excellence in the financial services industry.

Enhancing customer interactions 

Chatbots and virtual assistants  

Chatbots and virtual assistants are rapidly gaining popularity, with the chatbot market expected to reach a staggering $142 billion by 2024. In the financial services industry, these AI-powered tools offer significant benefits. They can assist customers with tasks like checking account balances, making payments and even providing financial advice. 

The ability to operate 24/7 without the need for human agents improves customer satisfaction and reduces operational costs. Moreover, chatbots leverage AI to analyze customer data and preferences, enabling them to offer personalized recommendations for financial products and services.  

Successful examples include Bank of America‘s Erica, which has over 10 million users, and Capital One‘s Eno, which engages customers with emojis and humor. Wells Fargo also employs a chatbot via Facebook Messenger, utilizing natural language understanding to handle complex queries. Embracing chatbots and virtual assistants opens doors to enhanced customer experiences, increased engagement and improved conversion rates for financial services companies. 

Automated customer workflows  

A study by McKinsey found that automation can reduce customer service costs by up to 40% and increase customer satisfaction by up to 20%. Additionally, automated workflows can reduce manual errors by 75%, enhance customer satisfaction by 50% and increase revenue by 15%, according to a recent study by Forrester. 

Moreover, automation can help financial services companies to: 

  • Streamline customer onboarding. Automated emails or chatbots can guide new customers through the registration process, verify their identity and provide them with relevant information and resources. 
  • Improve account management. Automated systems can monitor customer activity, send personalized offers and recommendations, and alert customers of any issues or changes in their account status. 
  • Support processes. Automated tickets or chatbots can handle common customer queries, provide self-service options and escalate complex issues to human agents. 

Overall, automation can help businesses deliver faster, better and more consistent customer experiences across the entire customer journey. 

Streamlining backend operations  

Robotic process automation  

RPA can automate repetitive, rule-based tasks within backend operations and offer benefits to financial services companies, such as improved accuracy, reduced processing time and cost savings. 

RPA can also help financial services companies optimize their backend operations by streamlining workflows and enhancing customer service. For example, RPA can automate tasks such as data entry, invoice processing, reconciliation, reporting and fraud detection. According to Big Four accounting firm EY, RPA can provide cost savings ranging from 20% to 60% of baseline FTE costs for financial services. 

This powerful tool can help financial services companies improve their backend operations and achieve a competitive advantage. By automating repetitive, rule-based tasks, RPA can enable financial services companies to focus on more strategic and value-added activities. 

Data analytics and insights  

Automating financial data collection and analysis offers real-time insights into your organization’s financial health. This makes it easier to predict cash flow, identify trends and decide where to allocate resources. You can also use automation to build “what-if” scenarios to test the impact of different decisions. 

A main benefit of financial automation is its ability to detect fraud and anomalies. For example, automation tools can monitor transactions and flag suspicious activities based on predefined rules or patterns. This can help prevent losses and protect your reputation. 

Another benefit of financial automation is its ability to identify opportunity and risk. For example, automation tools can use historical and current data to forecast future outcomes and trends. This can help you optimize your pricing, marketing and product strategies. 

For example, a global bank can use automation tools to analyze customer behavior and preferences across multiple channels, helping to segment its customers and offer personalized products and services. 

Overcoming challenges and ensuring compliance  

Addressing security and privacy concerns 

Data security is crucial to any business that handles sensitive customer data. Data breaches can have serious consequences for both the customers and businesses, such as identity theft, financial losses, reputational damage, legal liabilities and regulatory fines. 

One way to enhance data security and privacy compliance is through automation. Automation can help reduce human errors, streamline workflows, enforce policies, monitor threats and respond to incidents faster and more effectively. Automation can also help businesses comply with various data protection laws and standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. 

Data security is not only a legal obligation but also a competitive advantage for businesses. By using automation technologies and following industry best practices, companies can protect customer data and enhance trust and loyalty.  

Navigating regulatory landscape  

Intelligent automation is a game-changer for financial institutions navigating the complex world of regulatory compliance. Harnessing RPA, AI and machine learning, financial institutions allows you to streamline compliance processes, reduce human errors and enhance operational efficiency. 

Financial crimes compliance, such as know-your-customer activities and transaction monitoring, can greatly benefit from intelligent automation’s capabilities, as it efficiently manages regulatory compliance risks. Additionally, RPA automates finance processes like invoice processing and reporting, optimizing operational efficiency.  

However, implementing intelligent automation requires a well-defined strategy, assessment and pilot program, alongside proper governance and skills to manage associated risks. Yet, the rewards are significant. Financial institutions that successfully embrace intelligent automation not only meet stringent regulatory requirements but also gain a competitive edge in the market.  


In the dynamic realm of financial services, intelligent automation emerges as a catalyst for transformation, empowering organizations to elevate customer interactions and streamline backend operations. By leveraging technologies like chatbots, virtual assistants, automated workflows and data analytics, financial institutions can deliver personalized experiences, enhance efficiency and ensure compliance.  

We encourage you to explore the possibilities of automation technology in your organization and discover the solutions we provide tailored for financial services companies. Embrace intelligent automation and unlock a new era of success in the digital age. 

Joselenys Moreno is a researcher at Cloudsquare, a Salesforce consulting partner specializing in creating solutions for the financial services industry.

6 Benchmarks TCH Reached Before FedNow Even Launched

By now you’ve likely heard that the U.S. Federal Reserve launched its FedNow instant payments solution. Using the new tool, banks and credit unions can enable their customers to instantly transfer money at any time of day, any day of the year.

The release comes 10 years after the Fed first started talking about creating a real-time payments (RTP) solution in 2013, and five years after it began developing an RTP offering. The Fed’s instant payments solution also comes after a handful of competing companies in the private sector– including Orum, Visa Direct, and The Clearing House (TCH)— had already launched.

The latter of these– TCH– just released an update that details some of the metrics it has reached in the instant payments realm after launching its RTP network in November of 2017. Here is what the company has achieved in six years:

Increased transaction number

The number of transactions on the RTP network in Q2 2023 totaled 58 million, up from 41 million transactions during that same period last year.

Increased transaction volume

The value of transactions during Q2 2023 reached $29 billion, up from $18 billion in the same quarter last year.

Gained financial institution customers

More than 350 financial institutions are providing real-time payments on the RTP network to their customers and members.

Gained business adoption

150,000 businesses are sending payments over the RTP network. This is a 50% increase since December 2022.

Reached end consumers

3+ million consumers each month are sending account-to-account payments and Zelle payments that leverage the RTP network

Reached demand deposit accounts

The RTP network currently reaches 65% of U.S. demand deposit accounts.

These milestones signify three things. First, they are a reminder to always question claims of “industry firsts.” The launch of FedNow is buzz-worthy because it is a government-led initiative, not because its the first player in the U.S. to enable real-time payments.

Second, TCH’s milestones indicate that consumers are not only conceptually ready for the change, they are open to trusting the process behind the change. “As more banks and credit unions join the RTP network, their customers and members are experiencing the benefits of real-time payments,” said TCH Senior Vice President of RTP Product Management Rusiru Gunasena. “Surpassing 500 million RTP payments signifies the accelerating growth and demand on the RTP network.”

The last thing TCH’s stats demonstrate is that there is still room for a lot of growth in this area. FedNow may not have been the first player to enter the market with an RTP solution, but that’s not to say it won’t be successful. There are currently 57 banks and credit unions planning to participate in FedNow, and Forbes estimates that number will increase to 200 by the end of the year and will reach 500 by the end of next year.

Photo by Hasan Albari

Card giants focus on innovation

Mastercard and Visa focused on innovation in the most recent quarter. “We are winning deals across the globe through the combination of our new innovation products, differentiated services and our solution selling approach,” Mastercard Chief Executive Michael Miebach said during today’s second-quarter earnings call. New Mastercard products include its automated Mastercard Receivable Manager launched with […]

Global Startup Cities Podcast: FinMapp’s financial ecosystem

Financial institutions are looking to personal finance management tools to increase financial literacy among customers.

Indian fintech FinMapp breaks personal finance management into four categories — planning, budgeting, saving and investing — founder and Chief Executive Kumar Binit told Bank Automation News on this edition of the Global Startup Cities podcast from “The Buzz.”

“FinMapp [is] a full financial ecosystem in one app,” Binit said, pointing to services that include a financial health check, portfolio tracking and tax planning.

Founded in 2020, Finmapp partners with more than 40 FIs in India, including $313 billion HDFC Bank and $29 billion IDFC First Bank, which give a commission on all transactions initiated through the app and allow the company to offer its services to consumers for free, Binit said.

Listen as Binit discusses the flourishing startup scene in Bengaluru, India, and explains how the city went from IT hub to the “Silicon Valley of Asia.”

The following is a transcript generated by AI technology that has been lightly edited but still contains errors.

Victor Swezey 0:04
Hello and welcome to a special edition of the buzz, a bank automation news podcast. Today is July 27 2023. My name is Victor Swezey, and I’m the editorial intern at Bank Automation News. Today is the third episode of our global startup cities series, where we take you to some of the most innovative tech hubs around the world to give you a look at these startup cultures and the markets they serve. Along the way, we’ll be talking to FinTech founders from new cities about the products they’re bringing to market. This week, we’ll be making a stop in Bengaluru, India’s lush garden city and buzzing tech capital will follow Bengaluru growth from IoT hub to full fledged startup ecosystem and compare it to the developing entrepreneurial culture in the capital of Delhi. Joining me today is the founder and CEO of FinMapp, a startup partnering with financial institutions to bring financial literacy to India’s growing middle class. Please welcome Kumar Binit.Kumar Binit 1:04
My name is Kumar Binit. I’m the founder and CEO of FinMapp. It’s a Fintech startup on a personal finance management space. As far as my background is concerned, I’m from the banking industry worked over two decades in multinational banks, in various locations in India, starting from Mumbai, to Bangalore to eastern side to Northern side in Delhi. And over the two decades of experience, whatever I’ve learned, being a banker, and the pain points, which normally a common working population faces in managing the day to day finances, is where we thought those experiences will come into the picture and we’ll be able to solve the problem of financial literacy which is not only an Indian problem, but a global problems even in the developed country like US or Europe have the financial literacy issue, right. And India specifically the financial literacy rate in India is probably less than 20% Among the Indian working population, and into which a lot of common people faces day to day challenges in managing their personal finance. That is the reason why a fin map came into existing existence, we just launched fin map around eight months back. And currently we’re expanding

Victor Swezey 2:25
to tell me a bit more about how food Map Works and you know, what tools does it provide users for tracking their financial health?

Kumar Binit 2:33
So, if you see personal finance management is categorized into four core sector which is planning budgeting, savings and investing right now, most of the people what happens so, just to give you a little bit of idea in terms of Indian household income, and India, how the markets is that top is that you know, say probably 40 million people in India belongs to a high income bracket right for example, earning probably you know $100,000 plus right, which is and but there is a huge middle class segment and India right, where people earn anywhere between you know, $1,000 to say 10,000 to $50,000. Now, these are the, this this segment is what we call as a middle class segment, and around 440 million people, you know, currently is within that segment. Now, in case if they want to take personal finance advice or take a financial advisor on board, it costs money right. Now, most of these people trust their parents for their work advisors or their close friends and families right, but those, but those hamper the decision making process, the reason why is whatever advice this they are taking from the parents from the friends and families are based on their own gut feel, and their own, you know, experience and that financial product, right. So, that is why we caught you know, fan map as a tools and services what we are offering as any user can do the entire financial planning, financial health check as to what they are doing is right or wrong, they can do the entire tax planning, they can get all the recommendations and advice on all the retail financial products, which is available in within the banking circle in India. They can get their real time, you know, portfolio tracking. So, all these tools and services are provided free of cost, you know, people can take and it’s on a real time basis. It’s run by, you know, a logarithm machine intelligence and AI right. Now, along with that tools and services. What we have also provided is all the retail financial products under one umbrella so that when people do their financial planning, take recommendations and advices from us that if and actually help capture they can do once the report is generated, you know, they have to take an action in order to, you know, to ensure their financial well being and the security of the families right. Now, when they take an action, we have all the retail financial products to help them to do it seamlessly. So you can call it fin map as a full financial ecosystem in one app. And that is what funnel map is all about.

Victor Swezey 5:24
I see. So if you provide this financial ecosystem, you know, free of charge to your to your users, what’s the business model? And where does the revenue come from?

Kumar Binit 5:34
Alright, so business model is basically so any transaction which is done by our users through my app, or if they buy any product based on our recommendations based on their financial planning based on their, you know, financial health check, right, whatever critic apps actions they do, and whatever product they buy, we have partnered with more than 40 banks and financial institutions in India offering more than 200 financial products across various retail financial products available in India. So whenever they transact, we don’t charge anything from the user. You know, but the banking and the financial institutions whom we have tied up with, they pay a certain percentage of commission on the transaction value. And that’s how fun map one of the revenue models often map as

Victor Swezey 6:18
I see, and I see the some of your partners include, you know, HDFC Bank. And

Kumar Binit 6:25
so as I said, we have more than 40 Plus banking and financial institutions, including the leading banks, and and ICSA, HDFC, IDFC. Bank, then we have all the all the asset management companies, people who are offering cards, Amex is one of them, which is already there in our app. So we have all the sub sectors of a FinTech industry covered under one umbrella, whether you require for a wealth tech, whether you’re you require it for lending tech, whether you require it for insurance, all insurance products are available. So that’s how it is currently,

Victor Swezey 7:05
you know, given your experience in the in the banking sector, how would you say that this banking landscape in India differs from the one that our users might be more familiar with in, in the US

Kumar Binit 7:17
banking landscape, I’m saying the banking landscape might be more or less similar to the US, right? But the way the product is offered to the end consumers is where through the technology is where, you know, probably you can differentiate, that’s that’s a good differentiation between Indian and the US banking approach towards towards the consumers. So, you know, and for example, if you see LM there, it’s more of a problem oriented approach, we take into hands where, you know, many Indian startups focus on solving local problems, you know, addressing the needs of the Indian population. Secondly, you know, if you see, if I compare with US and India, while the United States has a more mature startup ecosystem, India’s startup scene has gained prominence in probably recent years, due to these unique factors like collaborative ecosystem, venture capital funding offices of venture capital, family offices, rising middle class and digital penetration initiative taken by the government of India, diversity and talent load, which is which is, which is also dependent upon the first class education institutions we have. So, all these things put together, I guess that is where, you know, we see a combination of problem oriented approach. Our diverse talent balloon, a government support a growing consumer market, is what differentiates between the US startup ecosystem and the Indian ecosystem startups. It’s,

Victor Swezey 8:47
it’s fascinating, and do you think that this growing startups ecosystem is part of, you know, what’s created the market for fin map and the market for people you know, who require financial literacy tools? And what do you think that the impact of an increase in financial literacy could be on the Indian population?

Kumar Binit 9:06
See, the impact of financial literacy is somehow you can see it, you can you can see it on the data of the Indian working populations. Now, for example, you know, because of this low financial literacy rate, you will be astonished to hear that 80% of the Indian working population still don’t plan for their financial future. Right? They don’t invest in financial assets, you know, real estate and gold was a traditional way of investing. My father’s forefathers have invested in real estate and gold but they have never looked into various other investment opportunities, which is there in India and still 90% of the Indian working population still don’t invest in financial assets. You know, you know, probably more than 80% pay their medical bills from savings, they don’t have adequate insurance, you know, and probably, you know, more than 50% are not aware of the cop As required for retirement. So, you know the the statistics itself tells that you know, in case if we are able to increase the financial literacy problem in India, right or financial literacy rate in India, all these figures will come down and once these figures will come down it will help us in achieving a trillion dollar economic which we are invoicing and messaging. So, it gives an overall macroeconomic situation of India will improve considerably

Victor Swezey 10:30
understood. So, you know, returning to India’s startup scene, I think a lot of people associate Indian startups with Bengaluru and you know, its reputation as the Silicon Valley of Asia. Could you maybe walk our listeners through how Bengaluru became this startup hub? What the startup scene the develop there is? And, you know, where, where maybe where it’s going today?

Kumar Binit 10:55
All right, I mean, say for example, I mean, everybody knows that Bangalore is now called as a Silicon Valley finisher. And it can be attributed to various factors, you know, including the emergence of companies like Infosys and Wipro in the 1980s. The liberalization of Indian economy and the subsequent development in the 21st century, which has happened. So, for example, you know, I just mentioned Infosys and Wipro in the 1980s you know, Bangalore had become the birthplace of these two Indian leading IT services companies. And these companies were founded by Indian enterpreneurs focused on software development and IT services, their success chakra asked bangaloreans potential as a technology help and laid the foundations of city’s growth in the IT sector, liberalisation of Indian economy, you know, added of you to the file. And that’s how, you know, development of all the technology parks, the government initiative, like special economic zones, office spaces, infrastructure, electronic city, you know, all these initiatives and amenities provided a collaborative ecosystem for the technology companies to operate and thrive. And that’s how Bangalore came into existence. And along with that, obviously, because the education system in India is so robust, and there are very superior education institutions, like you know, and the bad ideas, you know, Indian Institutes of science etc, which is based out of Bangalore, you know, the talent pool just kept on growing, and it’s not about the growth of the talent pool also, it is about sharing the knowledge. So, if you see banglori, Bangalore, Bangalore is probably, you know, the hub of various, you know, accelerators, program, incubation programs for the startups and mentorship program for the startups and it is also backed by the government of Karnataka. So, that’s how, you know, the Bangalore, Bangalore came into existence in the world, global worldspace as a Silicon Valley of Asia.

Victor Swezey 13:00
Thank you so much for walking us through that history. I think that’s really informative for our listeners, and you compare maybe being based in Delhi, but you know, I believe you’re about to open an office in Bangalore and you compare the startup scenes there a bit that tell me what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in Delhi and you know, maybe how what similarities and what differences exist between those two, which I know Delhi, you know, some are saying that now Delhi startup scene is growing really fast too and it’s almost comparable to Bengaluru. So, can you maybe compare those two cities? Yeah. So,

Kumar Binit 13:33
probably if you see, if you see the history of investments, which has happened in startup in India, specifically in Bangalore tops, the second comes to Delhi right. And obviously, if you compare the startup ecosystem or the culture probably you know, Bangalore were the pioneers of that and Bangalore is currently the number one, but in comparison to Delhi, if you see the Bangalore and the Delhi comparison, if you see I can you know, there are three prominent you know, the comparison which can look at it Bangalore as a wretched talent pool, right, that is for sure, in terms of educations and institutions and you know, the learning or the even the basic education is on the learning which normally happens in Bangalore, the startup ecosystem culture, the environment, the diversity, which Bangalore has probably Delhi is yet to see that but it is still coming up to that ladder. So, you know, probably, I can see, five years down the line probably, you know, Bangalore and Delhi will be one comparative cities to look at it. The Delhi has proven over the last two, three years that they are catching up very soon, but the Bangalore City as such.

Victor Swezey 14:50
You’ve been listening to the bugs, a bank automation news podcast, please follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. As a reminder, you can rate this podcast on your platform of choice thank you for your time and be sure to visit us at Bank automation For more automation news

Barclays employs automation for CX, cost cuts

Barclays PLC is looking to increase its investment in technology and automation to improve customer experience and reduce costs.  The company reported an increase in operating costs of 6% year over year to £3.9 billion ($4.4 billion) in the second quarter, driven by “continued investment in talent, systems and technology,” the company’s earnings presentation stated. […]

Upgrade Acquires Uplift for $100 Million
  • Upgrade is acquiring travel-focused BNPL company Uplift for $100 million.
  • The company will use the purchase to build on its existing BNPL offerings.
  • Uplift had raised $700 million and was reportedly valued at $195 million during its 2019 Series C round.

Alternative credit provider and digital bank Upgrade made its first acquisition today. The seven year old fintech announced it has purchased buy now, pay later (BNPL) company Uplift for $100 million.

Uplift was founded in 2014 to serve as a BNPL option for U.S. and Canadian consumers at the point-of-sale when booking travel experiences at 300 major travel brands ranging from airlines to cruise companies to resorts. By selecting Uplift at the point-of-sale when booking their travel online, the company’s 3.3 million users can spread the cost of their purchase across multiple months and repay in fixed installments.

Upgrade offers personal loans and digital banking tools including credit cards, checking accounts, and savings accounts. While it doesn’t offer any BNPL tools, the company says its credit cards “combine the flexibility of a credit card with the predictability of a personal loan.”

Upgrade will use today’s acquisition to build its presence in the BNPL space. The company states that travel financing fits within its strategy of making credit available at the point of sale to finance “meaningful expenses.” Upgrade currently focuses on helping its users finance practical expenses such as buying a car or making home improvements, and –with Uplift’s expertise– will be able to enter the travel vertical, as well.

As Upgrade Cofounder and CEO Renaud Laplanche explained, “The Uplift team has established the company as the leading BNPL provider in the travel industry, and we look forward to combining forces to make travel more accessible and affordable for millions of consumers, and over time implement similar solutions in adjacent parts of our customers’ lives.”

Prior to today’s acquisition, Uplift had raised $700 million in combined debt and equity and was reportedly valued at $195 million during its 2019 Series C round.

Headquartered in California with an operations center in Arizona and a technology center in Canada, Upgrade is partnered with Cross River Bank and Blue Ridge Bank for credit lines and banking services, NYDIG for Bitcoin rewards, and Sutton Bank for card issuance. The company has delivered $24 billion in credit via its cards and loans since 2017.

Photo by Pixabay

ICBA’s Charles Potts on the Role of Community Bank Partnerships

How are community banks keeping pace with rising customer expectations and the demands for greater financial inclusion? What role do fintechs play in helping community banks offer their customers the latest innovative fintech solutions?

I spoke with Charles Potts, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer for the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) to discuss this and other issues, including:

  • Key challenges faced by community bankers today
  • New opportunities and customer expectations
  • The role of partnerships in helping community banks respond to new opportunities
  • The challenge of technology adoption

Check out the full interview below.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

FI Innovation Rankings: Top 5 most innovative financial institutions

Bank Automation News and banking data and analytics platform FI Navigator have released the latest ranking of the top five most innovative financial institutions.

The dataset ranks the top 25 financial institutions across four asset tiers — $500 million to $1 billion, $1 billion to $10 billion, $10 billion to $100 billion and FIs over $100 billion — based on FI Navigator’s “innovation score,” which analyzes more than 100 products, services and channels across U.S. financial institutions.

The following are the top 5 most innovative financial institutions with over $100 billion in assets as of May 2023. Each FI listed received an innovation score of 100:

  1. JPMorgan Chase, a $3.7 trillion bank, worked through acquiring and integrating First Republic Bank and invested in AI to combat fraud through
  2. TD Bank, a $401 billion bank, is looking to AI-driven predictive analytics to enhance personal finance management tools, invested in innovation with a 20% YoY increase in tech spend in Q2, and is leveraging machine learning within its call center to improve client experience.
  3. Regions Bank, a $154 billion bank, selected Temenos as its core provider in April as part of its digital transformation.
  4. Bank of America’s AI-driven chatbot surpassed 1.5 billion client interactions since its launch in 2018 as the $3.2 trillion bank continues to invest in the technology. The bank also continues to invest in people and technology which increased its noninterest expenses 5% YoY to $16 billion in Q2.
  5. KeyBank looks to robotic process automation to block fraudulent bots from carrying out fake transactions. Additionally, the bank is looking inward at what areas of the $139 billion bank could benefit from technology and automation to improve efficiency.

Visit Bank Automation News’ FI Innovation Ranking database which lists the top 25 institutions in four asset tiers based on products, services and channel innovation.

Finovate Global Japan: Fintech Challenges, Neobank Milestones, and Funding SMEs

When we think of fintech in Asia, China often comes quickly to mind, as do Singapore, Hong Kong, and a few other places. But Japan? Not so much.

Why is this so? One of the more interesting reads on the topic of fintech in Japan that I’ve come across is a Deloitte study Japanese Fintech in the Global Context. In the report, Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting Social Impact Director Yasuyuki Ogyu explains some of the challenges that prevent Japan from having the sort of fintech industry we see in countries like the U.S. – or neighbor and rival China.

Ogyu notes that Japan has “a favorable B2C market environment.” Unfortunately, the country also has a “rock-solid yet inflexible financial infrastructure.” This has made investors hesitant to commit capital to new financial services businesses for fear that the return of investment would be low and slow compared to other opportunities in the region. Ogyu shows how, in contrast to the U.S., the high level of quality demanded of Japanese IT systems makes them “ill-suited (in terms of speed and cost) to new initiatives like fintech.” Comparisons between API laws in the U.S. and Europe compared to Japan show that there is still a great deal of work to be done educating the public on the value of “services that utilize personal data.”

Check out the full report. Deloitte’s study is an interesting look at the relationship between fintech innovation and the incumbent Japanese financial services industry. The report also provides a handful of recommendations that might help fintechs make greater inroads in the country.

That said, what are some of the more interesting developments on the Japanese fintech scene of late?

Just a few months after securing a deposit-taking license and one month after going live with its mobile app, Japanese digital bank Habitto announced that it surpassed 12,000 downloads. Habitto has also received more than $922,500 (¥130 million) in new deposits over the past month. But the download milestone news almost was overshadowed by a report that the neobank had opened a new office in the fashion district of Cat Street Uruhara.

Habitto co-founder and CEO Samantha Ghiotti explained. “Despite being a mobile-first finance brand, we still believe that it’s essential to connect with customers at ground level and with a human approach,” Ghiotti said. “Trust in financial brands is built over time. We can only achieve this trust through a combination of positive customer experiences both on mobile and face-to-face.”

Ghoitti and Chief Creative Officer Liam McCance founded Habitto in 2021. The Tokyo-based neobank offers an interest rate of 0.3% on deposits up to ¥1 million as well as a Visa debit card. The company’s mobile app includes free financial advice, personalized money plans, and in-app chat and video call services. Habitto has raised a total of $7.3 million in funding from investors including Saison Capital and Cherubic Ventures.

Turning to the B2C end of the country’s fintech sector, we note that Olta, a Japanese fintech that helps SMEs secure funding, has raised $17.8 million in funding. The investment in the Tokyo-based fintech takes the company’s total capital raised to more than $60 million. A sizable number of investors participated in the Series B round. These investors include SBI Investment, Spiral Capital, DG Ventures, WingArc 1st, AG Capital Delight Ventures, Tottori Capital, Nobunaga Capital Village, BIG Impact, and Aozora Corporate Investment.

Olta was founded in 2017. The company provides cloud-based factoring services for the procurement of funds to meet short-term funding needs without resorting to debt. Olta’s role in supporting small businesses during the COVID pandemic was highlighted by Nikkei Asia in the spring of 2020. One meat wholesaler described how he was able to convert several hundred thousand yen in accounts receivable into cash using Olta’s services.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Photo by Andrey Grushnikov

SuperFi Raises $1 Million for Debt Prevention Platform
  • SuperFi received $1 million in pre-seed funding for its debt management and repayment platform.
  • The round saw contributions from Ascension, Fair By Design, Force Over Mass, and includes a grant from the Greater London Authority.
  • SuperFi’s debt management app will be publicly available in late 2023.

Personalized debt support platform SuperFi has landed $1 million in pre-seed funding for its platform that helps users understand, manage, and pay off their debt. The round brings the company’s total funding to $1.2 million.

The investment was led by Ascension and its impact fund, Fair By Design, and saw contributions from Force Over Mass and others. Also included in the investment amount is a grant from the Greater London Authority. SuperFi received the grant funds as part of the Mayor of London’s Challenge LDN scheme to combat poverty.

U.K.-based SuperFi was founded in 2021 with a goal to support the 18 million British adults struggling to pay their monthly bills during the cost of living crisis. To accomplish this, the company shows users an overview of their debts, analyzes their financial and personal circumstances, and offers them access to debt prevention tools and services.

“We believe that debt management should be proactive, not reactive. Our goal is to help millions of people struggling to pay their bills and credit commitments better manage their debt before it becomes a crisis,” said SuperFi Cofounder Tom Barltrop. “In doing so, we believe we can help British people during the cost of living crisis – saving businesses and society billions associated with problem debt.”

Today’s funding will help SuperFi test its platform with Councils and Housing Associations across London before the company rolls the product out to a wider U.K. audience. The investment will also be used to form partnerships with London boroughs.

SuperFi plans to make its app publicly available in late 2023.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya

NatWest invests in tech, reduces headcount

London-based NatWest Group increased its tech spend in the first half of 2023 as the company looks to remain competitive, create resilient operations and leverage tech to accomplish its climate transition plans.   The $28 billion bank spent $10.8 million in H1 2023 on technology while its operating expenses jumped by 13.4% year over year to […]

State of fintech funding Q2: Fintech funding the lowest since 2017

The total funding and number of deals in the fintech sector fell in the second quarter in the face of high-profile U.S. bank collapses in the spring.   In Q2, global fintech funding slumped to $7.8 billion, down by 48% quarter over quarter, while number of deals dropped by 22% sequentially to 845, lowest since 2017, […]

90% of suppliers prefer receiving digital payment

Digital payments are gaining popularity with consumers and suppliers as digital wallets, digital issuance and the overall payments landscape continues to evolve. As consumers look to digital wallet capabilities that extend beyond Apple Pay, a Gartner report released June 28, How Will Digital Wallets Evolve in the Future, explores “Where do we go from here?” […]

European Fintech Funding: Solaris raises $42M, hits unicorn status

Embedded finance provider Solaris raised 39 million euros ($42 million) in a series F funding round July 11 to strengthen governance and compliance within the fintech. The company hit a valuation of $1.6 billion post the most recent funding round, per CB Insights. “The core focus this year is for Solaris to become more efficient, […]

Best of Show: The Finovate Podcast’s Greg Palmer Chats with the Faves of FinovateSpring

Check out Finovate VP and host of the Finovate Podcast Greg Palmer (@GregPalmer47) as he interviews the innovators that won Best of Show awards at FinovateSpring in May.

From digital transformation and payments to customer experience and the future of finance, the Finovate Podcast is a great way to hear from some of the most innovative talents in fintech.

Greg Palmer interviews Jens Hinrichson and Robert MacDonald of 1Kosmos on the future of password-optional authentication. Demo video.

Greg Palmer talks with Deepak Jain of Wink on the future of biometric payments. Demo video.

Greg Palmer chats with Maya Mikhailov of SAVVI AI on on no-code AI solutions you can implement right now. Demo video.

Greg Palmer catches up with Hossein Rahnama of Flybits. Demo video.

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Finovate Global: in Dubai, Cashless in Egypt, Accelerating Women in Tech

Standard Chartered has teamed up with Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) to launch the fifth cohort of Women in Tech accelerator program. The program is designed to empower female entrepreneurs in the UAE’s technology sector, and encourage innovation, diversity, and economic development. Participants in the program receive training, workshops, mentorship, and access to seed capital. Applications to join the accelerator can be submitted up until the end of July. Ten startups will be chosen to participate. The program ends with a demo day in October, giving each of the startups the opportunity to present their business model to a panel of industry thought leaders and experts, as well as potential investors. The top three startups in the program will be awarded a total of $100,000 in non-equity seed capital.

“By joining forces with DIFC Innovation Hub, we are also taking significant strides toward building a more inclusive and thriving tech ecosystem that supports women-led startups and harnesses the diverse talents and perspectives of women, ultimately shaping a brighter future for all,” Standard Chartered UAE CEO Rola Abu Manneh said.

Eligible companies must have a gender-diverse team. This includes a minimum of one female co-founder. Companies must demonstrate an innovative and scalable solution, as well as the technology’s sustainable impact. The program is for UAE-based startups only.

CFI Financial Group has partnered with Finovate Best of Show winner to bring AI-enabled, automated trading to clients in the Middle East. leverages code-free automation to enable traders and investors to implement their trading strategies more accurately and reduce human error.’s platform enables traders to plan trades in advance as well as take advantage of preset trading strategies. The platform then automatically executes trading decisions based on parameters decided in advance by the trader. This helps ensure that the trades taken are both timely and accurate.

In addition to executing trades, the platform also monitors the market for potential trading opportunities based on pre-set parameters. The platform notifies users when specific market conditions line up with their trading strategies, alerting them to potential opportunities in the market. co-founders Shahar Rabin (Chief Product Officer) and Amir Shiovich (Chief Executive Officer) at FinovateSpring 2017.

“We are excited to introduce as a game-changer in the MENA trading landscape,” CFI Financial Group co-founder and MD Hisham Mansour said. “By offering this code-free AI trading technology, we are empowering our clients with the ability to automate their trading strategies effortlessly.”

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, demoed its trading automation technology at FinovateSpring 2017, winning Best of Show. In the years since then, has forged partnerships with crypto spot and regulated futures market ErisX, accounting software company Clear Books, U.S. spot FX trading platform, and CFD/Forex broker AvaTrade. has raised $10 million in funding, and includes Poalim Equity and Binance among its investors. Amir Shiovich is co-founder and CEO.

Egyptian cashless payments app Flash secured $6 million in seed funding. The round was led by Addition, and featured participation from Flourish Ventures as well as other angel investors. The company will use the capital to accelerate product development, as well as customer and business acquisition in Egypt. Additionally, Flash has secured approval from the Central Bank of Egypt – in partnership with Banque Misr – to serve as a technical payment aggregator.

Flash gives consumers and businesses a cashless payment option via a scan-and-pay service. By adding their existing bank card or digital wallet to the Flash app, consumers can make purchases using their phones simply by scanning the QR code provided by the business. Flash enables businesses to accept payments from consumers directly without requiring point-of-sale (POS) systems or complex technical integrations.

Uber alumni Erik Gordon and Sherine Kabesh founded Flash in 2021. “Our mobile application removes transactional challenges for businesses looking for an easier solution than the POS,” Gordon said. “Our goal is to make payments easier, safer, and faster for everyone. We are also excited to be releasing new features to help consumers make better spending decisions.”

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.


  • Stag, a financial education-related startup based in Vietnam, raised $600,000 in seed funding from Viet Capital Ventures, NH Securities Vietnam, and Singapore-based Resolution Ventures.
  • Hong Kong-based fintech Eddid Financial signed an agreement with Malaysian fintech MPAY establishing a joint venture to boost fintech expansion in Malaysia.
  • South Korean fintech U Fintech Hub secured $4 million in funding in a round led by Forest Partners.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Ten Southern African fintech startups received grant funding from the World Bank as part of the Fintech Challenge initiative of the Southern Africa Innovation Bridge Portal.
  • African paytech Flutterwave launched a new payment solution, Tuition, to enable users to pay for educational fees using local currencies.
  • Global Brands Magazine recognizes Access Bank Mozambique as “Best Banking Brand” based on customer service, satisfaction, and digital innovation.

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Marqeta announced an expansion to Brazil.
  • International remittance company Viamericas Corporation launched new program with Guatemala-based financial organization Banco GyT to promote financial inclusion for people with severe disabilities.
  • Brazilian fintech EBANX partnered with Nubank to help the company launch a new alternative payment service, NuPay.

Photo by Nextvoyage

FedNow is Live: New System Brings Instant Payments to the U.S.
  • The Federal Reserve launched its instant payments service, FedNow, today.
  • The new service enables businesses and consumers to send and receive money in real-time, 24/7/365.
  • FedNow puts the U.S. on par with countries like the U.K., Brazil, and India, as well as the EU, which have offered real-time payments for years.

The long-awaited launch of instant payments in the U.S. is here. The Federal Reserve introduced its FedNow instant payments service today. The new system enables businesses and consumers to send and receive money in seconds. FedNow is also available 24/7/365 and recipients get full access to sent funds immediately.

Funds can be transferred from person to person, from consumers to businesses, and from businesses to each other. There are currently 35 banks and credit unions participating in the program. A growing number of fintechs have also expressed their readiness to participate in the service. These companies include Finovate alums ACI Worldwide, Aptys Solutions, Finastra, Finzly, FIS, Fiserv, Jack Henry, and Temenos.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell praised the launch of the new offering. “The Federal Reserve built the FedNow Service to help make everyday payments over the coming years faster and more convenient. Over time, as more banks choose to use this new tool, the benefits to individuals and businesses will include enabling a person to immediately receive a paycheck, or a company to instantly access funds when an invoice is paid.”

The potential impact of FedNow on businesses and consumers is significant. Not only will the everyday business of payments become faster and more streamlined, but also the rise of just-in-time access to paychecks and invoices will benefit both workers and small businesses. The service also helps smaller banks and financial institutions, enabling them to access and offer real-time payments without having to partner with larger, competing FIs for the service.

Check out our conversation from last fall with Bernadette Ksepka. Ksepka is Assistant Vice President and Deputy Head of Product Development with the FedNow Service.

Photo by Phil

FedNow is live

The Federal Reserve’s long awaited real-time payments network FedNow launched this morning nearly four years after the rail was first announced.  As of today, 35 financial institutions who participated in FedNow pilot programs over the past several years can use the tool to transfer money around the clock, in real-time, according to today’s Federal Reserve release.  “Over time, […]

Fifth Third to modernize through automation, technology

Fifth Third Bank ramped up its modernization efforts in the second quarter as it looks toward automating its core platform to drive down expenses.    The $211 billion bank aims to invest “in the core platform to bring automation,” which will bring intermediate positive expense outcomes, Chief Executive Tim Spence said during the bank’s earnings call today. In looking […]

Truist focuses on tech as EPS falls short

Truist Financial invested heavily in technology and related professional services in the second quarter of 2023 as rising expenses overshadowed income growth.  Truist’s software expense rose 10.7% quarter over quarter to $237 million from $214 million, according to the bank’s earnings supplement. This hike was accompanied by a 12.7% QoQ growth in professional fees and outside […]