3 Ways Banks and Fintechs Are Embracing Social Change

https://finovate.com/3-ways-banks-and-fintechs-are-embracing-social-change/

Regardless of where you stand on the Revolut/Yoppie partnership “intention versus execution” debate, it is nevertheless remarkable how fintechs and financial institutions are reaching out beyond their traditional collaboration competencies to reach new markets and promote an ever-widening array of causes.

This week’s Finovate List Series looks at three ways that banks and fintechs are helping pave the way in terms of greater financial inclusion for underrepresented groups and deeper understanding of how everyday behaviors can have a significant impact on the environment.

Gender

The first digital banking platform in the U.S. dedicated to serving the LGBT+ community, Daylight, launched earlier this month. The platform is built to help LGBT+ financial services consumers to manage their finances and save for future expenses ranging from emergency funds to gender transition surgery and related medical expenses. The company notes that with an estimated 30 million people in the United States who identify as LGBT+, the community remains significantly underserved in financial services.

“This country is at a critical turning point where we have recognized companies and services have been performatively suporting the LGBT+ community versus serving its unique needs,” Daylight co-founder and CEO Rob Curtis told Retail Banker International earlier this month. “Despite our community’s combined $1 trillion in buying power, we are still ignored – roughly 20% of LGBT+ people are unbanked or underbanked.”

Daylight will offer Visa-branded cards in the customer’s preferred name, rather than the customer’s legal name, as well as financial tools to help prioritize spending decisions and meet financial goals. The platform will also provide expert financial advice and access to a network of financial management “coaches” that specialize in responding to the unique financial needs of those in the LGBT+ community. A member of Visa’s Fintech Fast Track program – and the program’s first LGBT+-based fintech – Daylight is also supported by card issuing platform and Finovate alum Marqeta.

Daylight has announced that it will begin operations in the middle of next month, starting with an invite-only, beta period involving “a few hundred people.” The company will focus first on markets in California and New York.

Ethnicity

In the wake of the George Floyd-inspired, Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, a spotlight has been shown on the rising number of financial institutions catering to African Americans.

Among the newer entries to this cohort is Adelphi Bank, which announced earlier this month that it has filed paperwork with the FDIC to become the first black-owned, depository institution in Ohio.

“We know that African Americans typically don’t have access to financial institutions to the degree that the majority community has,” former Fifth Third Central Ohio president and CEO Jordan Miller said to The Columbus Dispatch. “We know that our financial situations are not as strong in most cases. And so we want to make a difference in the community across Franklin County, to give those underserved a voice and financial services,” Miller, one of Adelphi Bank’s proposed incorporators, added.

The bank would be located in the King-Lincoln/Bronzeville neighborhood, and its backers stated that they plan to raise $20 million in equity capital upon earning FDIC approval to open. The institution takes its name from the city’s first black-owned bank, Adelphi Loan & Savings Company, which was launched in the early 1920s. The new bank will be part of a $25 million development called Adelphi Quarter, which will feature both housing and ground-floor businesses. The Columbus Dispatch reported that the original facade of Adelphi Loan & Savings has been incorporated into the new structure.

Sustainability

This week we reported on the partnership between Tink and ecolytiq to give banks, financial institutions, and fintechs the ability to offer environmental impact data to their customers. These kind of solutions, which include options like carbon footprint calculators, have been among the chief ways that many innovative companies have sought to bring their sustainability technology to the world of financial services.

Today we learn that micro-investing platform Wombat has added a new option to its impact investment offerings: a sustainable food ETF (exchange-traded fund) that enables investors to get exposure to dozens of companies that are involved in developing sustainable food production systems and products. These companies include new, but well-known brands such as plant-based food company Beyond Meat, oatmilk company Oatly, and farm-to-table business Tattooed Chef.

The fund, called The Future of Food, is the fifth impact investment offering on Wombat’s platform. The ETF was created via a partnership between thematic ETF issuer Rize and thematic research company Tematica Research. It will trade on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker “FOOD LN.”

“At Wombat we have found that some of our most popular thematic funds are those that offer impact investment opportunities, such as our Medical Cannabis and Green Machine ETFs,” Wombat co-founder and CEO Kane Harrison said. “We think this new sustainable food fund is a great addition to that range and it means we now offer a very competitive choice of impact investments when compared with other micro-investing platforms.”

Founded in 2019, Wombat currently has more than 190,000 users.


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https://finovate.com/3-ways-banks-and-fintechs-are-embracing-social-change/

Column Tax’s New Product Offers Americans Early Access to Tax Refunds

https://finovate.com/column-taxs-new-product-offers-americans-early-access-to-tax-refunds/

Column Tax, a company that offers tax features as a service, unveiled a new tax product today along with its announcement that it raised $5.1 million in seed funding.

The investment, which marks Column Tax’s first funding round, was led by Bain Capital Ventures with participation from South Park Commons, Core Innovation Capital, and Operator Partners. The company will use the money to expand client adoption of Tax Filing, an income tax filing API, and Tax Refund Unlock, the tool it is launching today.

Tax Refund Unlock is a product that allows banks and fintechs to offer their users advance access to their tax refunds in monthly payments. Column Tax CEO Gavin Nachbar explained that the new product will help Americans to access their refunds year-round, so that they can “save, invest, pay off debt, and meet ongoing obligations throughout the year, all with greater peace of mind.”

Column Tax is launching the new offering in partnership with Atomic FI, a fintech that offers APIs to drive consumer engagement; and Klover, a fintech that offers free cash advances and financial tools in exchange for customers’ data. With the Klover app, users can unlock access to their future tax refunds.

“Americans should be able to access their money when they need to. Increasing your paycheck by a couple hundred dollars can be life changing for millions of people,” said Klover CEO Brian Mandelbaum. “At Klover, we want to level the playing field by helping consumers get access to fair financial services. We already offer free access to your paycheck, real-time price comparisons, money management and saving tools, and a lot more. This is the next logical step in doing right by our consumers.”

Column Tax is headquartered in California and was founded by Gavin Nachbar, Michael R. Bock, and Shehan Chandrasekera.


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https://finovate.com/column-taxs-new-product-offers-americans-early-access-to-tax-refunds/

Cornerstone Bank and Credova Collaborate on New Outdoor Recreation-Based BNPL Offering

https://finovate.com/cornerstone-bank-and-credova-collaborate-on-new-outdoor-recreation-based-bnpl-offering/

A new partnership between North Dakota-based Cornerstone Bank and Buy Now Pay Later company Credova is the latest example of how bank-BNPL partnerships are becoming increasingly common in financial services. Per the agreement, Cornerstone Bank will do business as Noka and will provide loan origination for Credova, which specializes in BNPL solutions for the outdoor recreation, farm, home, and ranch markets.

“This is the next step in our company evolution, to partner with Cornerstone Bank, a pillar in the banking community,” Credova CEO Dusty Wunderlich said. “It’s not often you find a bank with a nearly 100-year history be so nimble and forward thinking, but that’s exactly what we’ve discovered in Cornerstone Bank.”

One of the ten largest financial institutions in North Dakota, Cornerstone Holding Company, the parent company of Cornerstone Bank, is a $1 billion financial institution with 11 locations in North and South Dakota. Headquartered in Fargo, Cornerstone offers its customers access to business and personal loans, deposits and cash management services, and both online and mobile banking.

“This exclusive agreement furthers our vision of being who people turn to when they are making important decisions about their money,” Cornerstone Bank chairman Gary Petersen said. “Cornerstone Bank and Credova share very similar cultures and approaches to doing business, making this relationship a great pairing. Both organizations will benefit from each other’s areas of expertise.”

Founded in 2018, Credova recently relocated its headquarters from Nevada to Bozeman, Montana. The move, according to Wunderlich, reflected a desire to base operations in “a location that echoed our values and allowed us to continue to lead an outdoor lifestyle.” The POS financing platform offers a virtual card and extended installment financing along with its “Pay in 4” BNPL program that will allow consumers to divide their purchases into four, zero-interest payments. Available as either an on-site or an in-store integration, Credova’s financing platform has enabled merchants to realize a more than 3x increase in AOV (average order value) compared to other payment methods, a more than 51% increase in overall sales volume, and a more than 72% increase in conversion rates. Credova includes 3H Tactical, Big Tex Outdoors, Broadheads and Bullets, and Cedar Pet Supply among its most recent brand partners.

https://finovate.com/cornerstone-bank-and-credova-collaborate-on-new-outdoor-recreation-based-bnpl-offering/

Tink Inks Climate Sustainability Partnership with ecolytiq

https://finovate.com/tink-inks-climate-sustainability-partnership-with-ecolytiq/

Sustainability-as-a-Service company ecolytiq has announced a partnership with Visa-owned, European open banking platform Tink that will bring personalized impact footprint calculations and other pro-sustainability solutions to banks, financial institutions, and fintechs. The technology, which helps encourage customers to shift their behavior toward more sustainable choices in terms of spending, will be available initially in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) and eventually expanded to other, larger markets in Europe.

“ecolytiq’s solution was created with the ability to quickly scale, because we know that global warming needs exponential climate action enablers,” ecolytiq CEO and co-founder Ulrich Pietsch said. “Tink is a strategic partner with a proven track record for enabling banks and fintechs to deliver the data-driven digital solutions their customers want and need. ecolytiq is the next-generation of these products.”

Ecolytiq’s products include ecoAware, which uses country-specific calculations to determine a customer’s personal environmental impact based on their bank transactions; ecoEngage, which helps bank customers determine ways to reduce their environmental impact via feedback loops, footprint analytics, and peer group comparisons; and ecoAction, which enables bank customers to offset their environmental impact via donations to ecolytiq’s certified offsetting partners. ecoAction allows individuals to compensate 100% or more of their carbon footprint, and ecolytiq plans to soon add ESG investment funds as a donation destination as well as the ability to select a green energy provider with its ecoSwitch solution.

An alum of Finovate’s developers conference, ecolytiq demonstrated its technology at FinDEVr 2021 earlier this year. Founded in 2020 and headquartered in Berlin, Germany, ecolytiq has already forged partnerships with Visa, FinTecSystems, challenger bank Tomorrow, and Worldline. Over the summer, the company won recognition in the Impact Shakers Awards in the “Education” category.

Two-time Best of Show winner Tink, based in Stockholm, Sweden, most recently demonstrated its technology on the Finovate stage at our European conference in 2019. The company’s open banking platform handles more than one billion API calls a month; supports more than 3,400 bank and financial institution integration partners; and reaches more than 250 million bank customers across Europe. Tink’s products help institutions confirm account ownership and verify income; provide up-to-date, standardized and categorized transaction data; offer a fully embedded payments experience to boost engagement and conversion, and enable firms to build smart, intuitive personal finance management solutions. In addition to its partnership with ecolytiq, Tink has also recently embarked upon collaborations with French payments service provider Lemonway and German PFM app Placons.

“The combination of Tink’s transactions product and ecolytiq’s sustainability expertise creates a valuable proposition for financial institutions and fintechs across the DACH region to offer services that better measure and help reduce carbon footprint,” Tink Regional Director for the DACH region Cyrosch Kalateh said. “We look forward to extending this partnership in the future, helping ecolytiq to expand at speed across Europe on our open banking platform.”


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https://finovate.com/tink-inks-climate-sustainability-partnership-with-ecolytiq/

Klarna Launches Pay Now in U.S., Announces Plan for U.S. Debit Card

https://finovate.com/klarna-launches-pay-now-in-u-s-announces-plan-for-u-s-debit-card/

While some European fintechs are exiting the U.S. market, consumer payment services firm Klarna is doubling down. The Sweden-based company announced it is adding its Pay Now option to its U.S. payment services.

The Pay Now tool does exactly what it implies. Instead of using Klarna’s signature buy now, pay later (BNPL) payment structure, it allows users to pay immediately and in full at retailers where Klarna is accepted. This move offers U.S. shoppers more options when paying with Klarna at the point of sale. Users can now pay in full using Pay Now or pay over time with Pay in 4 and Pay in 30 solutions which allow users to split a purchase into four interest-free payments or pay over the course of 30 days, respectively.

“Consumers continue to reject double digit interest rates and fee-laden revolving credit, while simultaneously seeking more choice, control and flexibility in how they shop and pay both online and in store,” said Klarna Co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski. “With the introduction of ‘Pay Now’, Klarna now offers U.S. consumers the choice to pay immediately and in full, alongside our sustainable interest-free services.”

As a result of adding the Pay Now option, U.S. retailers can now offer Klarna users a more well-rounded payment experience. By offering the option to pay in installments or pay immediately, consumers will be more likely to choose Klarna as a payment option regardless of whether or not they want to use a BNPL tool or pay in full immediately.

Klarna also announced it will launch its physical debit card to the U.S. market. The company wasn’t specific about timing but said it plans to introduce the new product “very soon.” Klarna refers to its debit card as a “tangible extension of the Klarna app experience” because it allows users to pay for their purchases over time and connects to the Klarna app to help users track their purchases. The card is also integrated with Klarna’s loyalty program, Vibe, which offers users rewards, deals, and discounts.

The past year has been quite an active one for BNPL companies. Klarna almost doubled its U.S. customer base this year, now reaching 21 million customers. “By launching ‘Pay Now’ and introducing the Klarna Card in the US, we are continually developing our services to meet consumers’ changing needs,” added Siemiatkowski.

Across the globe, the company counts 90 million active customers in 19 countries who make two million transactions per day at Klarna’s 250,000 merchants, including big brands such as H&M, IKEA, Expedia Group, Samsung, ASOS, Peloton, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Nike. Since it was founded in 2005, Klarna has raised $3.7 billion. The company now has a valuation of $45.6 billion and 4,000 employees.

https://finovate.com/klarna-launches-pay-now-in-u-s-announces-plan-for-u-s-debit-card/

Mastercard Completes Acquisition of Northern European Open Banking Innovator Aiia

https://finovate.com/mastercard-completes-acquisition-of-northern-european-open-banking-innovator-aiia/

Leading European open banking technology company Aiia is now officially a part of Mastercard.

In a move that will bolster Mastercard’s current distribution channels, technology, data practices, and open banking strategy, the global payments and technology company announced today that its acquisition of the Copenhagen, Denmark-based company has been completed.

“Open banking empowers consumers and small businesses to use their financial data to expand access to financial services, such as demonstrating their financial wellness to increase access to credit, aggregating financial data to improve personal financial management, and to more seamlessly set up and manage payments,” Mastercard Chief Product Officer Craig Vosburg explained. “Together, we’ll continue to build up on our API connectivity and our multi-rail strategy to enable greater consumer access, control, and choice around the world.”

Aiia is the company known formerly as Nordic API Gateway, the leading open banking platform in Northern Europe. More than 40 financial institutions, as well as a number of enterprises, rely on the platform to integrate financial data and offer A2A (account-to-account) payments. Via a simple API, the solution supports a wide variety of payment services ranging from one-off, e-commerce payments to bulk payments for SMEs. The company demonstrated the technology at its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope earlier this year.

Founded in 2017, Aiia includes Danske Bank, OP Bank, Lunar, DNB, and Santander Consumer Bank among its partners. A licensed Payment Initiation Service Provider (PISP) and Account Information Service Provider (AISP), Aiia has raised more than $15 million (€13.5 million) in funding to date. This includes a $5 million investment from DNB and Danske Bank in April of last year.

“For the past decade, we have worked to build Aiia into a leading and quality-driven open banking platform, which has onboarded hundreds of banks and fintechs onto safe and secure open banking rails,” Aiia founder and CEO Rune Mai said when the acquisition news first broke in September. “We have worked closely alongside banks, customers, and local authorities to ensure that our APIs show the true effect of open banking. We’re excited to become a part of Mastercard and progress our journey of empowering people to bring their financial data and accounts into play – safely and transparently.”

Aiia is the latest fintech acquisition by Mastercard. The purchase comes a year after the completion of its acquisition of real-time financial data and insights company Finicity.


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https://finovate.com/mastercard-completes-acquisition-of-northern-european-open-banking-innovator-aiia/

Women in Fintech: Pathways to Positive Change with Jennifer Valdez of intelliflo

https://finovate.com/women-in-fintech-pathways-to-positive-change-with-jennifer-valdez-of-intelliflo/

Supporting more than 30,000 advisors, representing more than three million end-investors, and servicing more than $1 trillion in assets across its platforms, intelliflo has delivered SaaS-based solutions for the financial advisory industry since its founding in 2004.

Headquartered in the U.K. and recognized as one of the leading technology platforms for financial advisors in the country, intelliflo announced earlier this year that it had successfully integrated five advisory solution businesses – Jemstep, Portfolio Pathway, RedBlack, i4C, and intelliflo U.K. – under the Intelliflo brand. The move to consolidate its advisory services was designed to enable the company to better compete with rivals like Finovate alum Envestment.

We chatted with Jennifer Valdez, intelliflo’s President of the Americas, to discuss the company’s rebrand and how the wave of digital transformation has impacted the financial advisory space. We also talked about the role of women in financial services and the importance of changing mindsets as a key step on the path toward positive change.

What was the driving force behind intelliflo’s recent rebrand?

Jennifer Valdez: Earlier this year, Invesco brought together its five separate software businesses to form the new intelliflo, a single, API-driven platform to run the end-to-end advisory experience. intelliflo’s technology is comprehensive, representing a broad spectrum of capabilities including financial planning, practice management, digital account opening, reporting, as well as trading and rebalancing capabilities. The open architecture drives new levels of flexibility, efficiencies, and personalization across financial advice, empowering organizations of all sizes with digital tools to better serve modern investors and widen access to financial advice. intelliflo supports over 30,000 financial advisors worldwide, representing more than three million end-investors and over $1 trillion in assets serviced on the platform. 

What tips do you have for clients beginning to embark on digital transformation projects?

Valdez: Before starting any major digital or business transformation project, it’s critical to pause and really think through the pain points you’re trying to solve. This includes listening to your internal team members, advisors, and clients. Technology simply for technology’s sake won’t be effective or productive; you must be solving a true business problem that will move the needle and better position your organization for meaningful change and success. Once that direction is clearly defined, then it’s time to engage your technology partner(s) to ensure you are fully maximizing technology to support your future vision.

Why is it so important for women to have a seat at the table? What steps can individual organizations and the industry as a whole take to ensure greater representation?

Valdez: Representation matters, and in order for organizations to accurately and comprehensively represent all audiences, these groups must have a voice (and vote) when making decisions. This doesn’t mean just women, but all traditionally underrepresented groups such as people of color and those in LGBTQ+ community. 

As a collective industry, we can all choose to do more to raise awareness against bias and stand up for equality, giving everyone an opportunity to thrive. Challenging current mindsets is the pathway to driving positive change.

How have the last 18 months changed the industry?

Valdez: The past year and a half have significantly impacted the financial advice space. Financial advisors are not regularly sitting across the desk from their clients, which challenges them to determine how to continue to meet investors’ needs and help improve their overall financial health. At the same time, investors are increasingly wanting tailored advice, so financial advice professionals are being challenged to deliver a high level of service in a new digital way.

While this has been difficult, it’s also created an opportunity for the industry to embrace modern technology in new ways, digitizing workflows and back-office capabilities to help increase efficiencies and reduce costs. Streamlining the advisory experience in this way is not only beneficial for the financial advice professionals, but also the end investors – it enables quicker, more transparent communication and collaboration all around, while also driving greater personalization.

Can you share a recent professional accomplishment and/or a goal you hope to accomplish?

Valdez: Being asked to lead the Americas for intelliflo has been a significant personal milestone. I’ve always recognized the importance of financial advice and have been passionate about helping investors strengthen their financial wellness. In my role, I get to lead an amazing team that executes on our company’s mission to widen access to financial advice.

At intelliflo, we firmly believe that financial advice should be accessible to all, not just the wealthy. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing the digital technology necessary to make this a reality, helping advisors improve the financial lives of their investors. I’m excited for what’s to come.

How do you see the advisory experience evolving this year and next? What role does technology play?

Valdez: Looking toward the end of this year and into next, I expect more financial services firms to embrace a hybrid advice model, a strategic, flexible mix of digital and human advice. Such an approach enables advisory firms to meet investors whenever and wherever they want to be met, while also allowing these firms to deliver products and services more efficiently and effectively.

Another significant benefit of a hybrid advice model is the ability to close notable product gaps. Many firms have clearly defined offerings for those who want full advice and for those who are primarily self-directed, but more choice should be made available to those investors that fall somewhere in between. With a hybrid strategy, financial services firms can cost effectively provide products and services that meet the needs of every investor on the continuum – and in their engagement models and delivery channels of choice.

Technology is key to making the shift to a hybrid model successful. More firms will forgo bespoke software solutions in favor of a single platform that can support the end-to-end advisory experience, allowing them to boost efficiencies. Leveraging open architecture and sophisticated APIs will be critical in helping to optimize margins, reduce costs, and enable greater personalization across the advisory experience.


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https://finovate.com/women-in-fintech-pathways-to-positive-change-with-jennifer-valdez-of-intelliflo/

KeyBank Acquires Banking-as-a-Service Provider XUP

https://finovate.com/keybank-acquires-banking-as-a-service-provider-xup/

Ohio-based KeyBank made its sixth acquisition today. The bank purchased Banking-as-a-Service company XUP, a platform that helps banks take control of the merchant experience. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2018, XUP connects merchants, third party financial service providers, and acquirers across channels to help banks offer a more integrated and seamless payments experience. KeyBank will use XUP’s technology to improve its embedded banking strategy and improve the user experience for its commercial users. The bank describes the move as the “next step in providing digital innovation at scale.”

Today’s news is only the latest development in the relationship between KeyBank and XUP. The bank contributed to XUP’s $3 million Seed round closed in February and the two were strategic partners. According to KeyBank, XUP helped accelerate the volume growth of its merchant payments capabilities. The bank now counts 150 million card transactions each year, accounting for $13.6 billion in annual card volume.

“We’ve long embraced the software innovation that’s sweeping through the financial services industry, and the acquisition of XUP allows us to continue to be a leader in this space,” said KeyBank’s Head of Enterprise Payments & Analytics Ken Gavrity. “XUP’s highly experienced team has accelerated us on the journey to build connectivity across our systems, our partners, and our customers, to make it easy to do business with Key.”

XUP will continue to operate as its own entity and support its customer base. “Our end-to-end software solutions, combined with Key’s scale and deep financial services expertise, will perfectly blend to provide clients a best-in-class payment experience,” said XUP President Chris May.

KeyBank was founded in 1825, has $187 billion in assets under management, is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, and has 1,000 branches across the U.S. The bank’s other acquisitions include AQN Strategies, Finovate alum HelloWallet, First Niagara Financial Group, EverTrust Financial Group, and Leasetec. Among the company’s strategic partners are AvidXchange, BillTrust, and Bill.com.


Photo by Amina Filkins from Pexels

https://finovate.com/keybank-acquires-banking-as-a-service-provider-xup/

Youth Investing App EarlyBird Raises $4 Million in New Funding

https://finovate.com/youth-investing-app-earlybird-raises-4-million-in-new-funding/

EarlyBird, a mobile investing app for children and their families, has raised $4 million in seed funding today. Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six led the round, which featured strategic participation from Gemini’s Frontier Fund, Network Ventures, Rarebreed Ventures, and other angel and VC investors. The company will use the capital to continue building its solution, add to its engineering, product, marketing, and operations teams, and introduce new features – including the ability for users to invest and gift assets other than stocks and ETFs, such as cryptocurrencies.

The investment takes the company’s total funding to more than $7 million, having secured funding previously in November and January of last year.

Using a collaborative approach to next-generation wealth building, EarlyBird enables parents to set up an investment account, select from a number of diversified portfolio options, and begin making investments on behalf of their child. The platform also empowers members of a child’s extended network of family, friends, and others to contribute to the account (“gifted capital” EarlyBird calls it). Whether celebrating birthdays, holidays, or other occasions, these contributions are not only unique gift options, they also help young people begin to learn about the importance of investing and building wealth over time. The technology also has a feature that enables contributors to add a video or photo commemorating the gift.

“EarlyBird started with the vision to create an accessible way for all families to begin building wealth for their children, and to do so with the support, love, and contributions of their broader communities,” EarlyBird co-founder and CEO Jordan Wexler said. “Since our launch, we’ve seen incredible growth, adoption, and excitement from families with a wide range of financial knowledge and backgrounds. Seven Seven Six and all of our new partners recognize the importance of financial access and approachability in investing, and we’re thrilled to have them on board as we continue to take flight.”

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and founded in 2019, EarlyBird recently announced a partnership with Benjamin Talks, a youth-oriented financial education platform launched by co-founders Nikki Boulukos and Carissa Jordan last fall. The collaboration will bring Benjamin Talks content to EarlyBird’s newsletter series “The Weekend Worm” which offers stock market news in an approachable way that parents can share with their children. This spring, EarlyBird introduced its Gifts for Good program. Starting this April, EarlyBird selected up to three “extraordinary kids between the ages of 3 and 12 years old to support and invest in.” With an eye toward young people showing achievement in areas such as music and the arts, athletics, academics, and “special acts of kindness,” EarlyBird will provide a gift investment of $250 to each child selected to seed their investment accounts.

“Investing tools are only available to families with investing knowledge and experience building generational wealth,” EarlyBird COO Caleb Frankel said in a statement accompanying today’s investment news. “We have a bold vision to make investing available for everybody. We are driving wealth creation not within the system of today, but for the world of tomorrow.”

Be sure to check out our interview with Jordan Wexler from earlier this year.


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https://finovate.com/youth-investing-app-earlybird-raises-4-million-in-new-funding/

South African Payment Gateway Ozow Scores $48 Million in Round Led by Tencent

https://finovate.com/south-african-payment-gateway-ozow-scores-48-million-in-round-led-by-tencent/

Ozow, a payment gateway based in South Africa, has secured $48 million in Series B investment in a round led by Chinese fintech Tencent. The funding boosts the company’s total capital raised to more than $51 million. The company said the funding will be used to promote fintech regulation – particularly open banking – to help more people gain access to payment services.  The new capital will also enable the seven-year old fintech to enter new markets throughout sub-Saharan Africa and add employees. Namibia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria are among the countries Ozow is currently targeting for expansion.

Co-founded by current CEO Thomas Pays, Ozow enables consumers to pay for transactions directly from their bank accounts. This kind of service has special potential in a country like South Africa where only 20% of those who have bank accounts have and use credit cards. Ozow has six million users of its technology and Pays claims that the company is adding 140,000 users and processing $100 million in transactions every month.

Also participating in Ozow’s latest round were Endeavor Catalyst and Endeavor Harvest Fund.

Using Ozow is straightforward. Consumers choose Ozow as a payment option when making purchases either online or in-person. Then they select their bank, log in with their online banking credentials, and allow Ozow to automate the actual payment process. Free to use for individual consumers, merchants are able to use Ozow’s platform for free for the first 12 months – or a maximum of $65,000 in processing value each month. In order to receive payments, merchants only need a bank account and a smartphone or similar device. Ozow includes Vodacom, MTN, Takealot, and Uber among its enterprise clients.

Pays said that his team had been “engaging with Tencent” since the spring, and that the company understood “the scale and opportunity” available in investing in a company like Ozow.

“It’s an honor to bring on board Tencent, Endeavor Catalyst, and Endeavor Harvest Fund,” Pays said in a statement. “This is a validation of our role in transforming the banking industry through the development of innovative, convenient, and more inclusive payment solutions for everyone.”


Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

Asia-Pacific

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe


Photo by Kenex Media sa from Pexels

https://finovate.com/south-african-payment-gateway-ozow-scores-48-million-in-round-led-by-tencent/

Agora Data Launches Reducing Rate Line of Credit

https://finovate.com/agora-data-launches-reducing-rate-line-of-credit/

Buy Here, Pay Here (BHPH) crowdsourced securitization firm Agora Data is coming out with a new financing tool this week. The Texas-based company is introducing a reducing interest rate line of credit for BHPH dealers and small-to-mid-size finance companies to offer their sub-prime borrowers more vehicle financing options.

With the new reducing rate line of credit, the interest rate decreases over time. The loans also come with other advantages not typically found with traditional financing options, including no personal guaranty or recourse, flexibility to draw cash as needed, and no origination or unused line fees.

“With AgoraCapital, we remove the obstacles dealers confront in traditional lines of credit and empower them with the same secret sauce enjoyed by larger national dealer groups,” said Agora Data CEO Steve Burke. “Agora’s innovative, best-in-class financing options and robust data analytics are leveling the playing field for an underserved and underbanked industry.”

Agora Data was founded in 2017 and its team of auto retail, finance industry experts, and top data scientists leverage AI to bring BHPH car dealers a simplified experience when it comes to selling auto loans. Agora Data aids dealers in selling their auto loans to banks, finance companies, hedge funds, and private equity firms. The selling tool groups all firms’ offers together and analyzes each one in order to provide the dealer with the most competitive offer.

In addition to the selling service, the company offers AgoraInsights, a product that helps dealers maximize portfolio performance, reduce risk, and manage cashflow. “Agora is already making a positive difference for the BHPH industry by helping our members strengthen their financial footing and realize unprecedented growth, knowledge, ability to compete and ultimately build wealth,” added Burke.

News about auto financing has consistently appeared in the fintech headlines since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. However, while Agora Data’s announcement is aimed at auto financing for the underbanked community, most of the news we’ve seen in this sector has focused on digitizing and managing the loan application portion of auto loans and refinances. One such company, MotoRefi, partnered with SoFi in April of this year and received $45 million in funding in May.


Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

https://finovate.com/agora-data-launches-reducing-rate-line-of-credit/

Airwallex Reaches $5.5 Billion Valuation After $100 Million Investment Extension

https://finovate.com/airwallex-reaches-5-5-billion-valuation-after-100-million-investment-extension/

In an extension of its $200 million Series E financing round, digital payments company Airwallex has secured an additional $100 million in funding. The extension came from Lone Pine Capital and featured the participation of existing investors such as 1835i Ventures and Sequoia Capital China. Now standing at $300 million, Airwallex’s latest funding gives the company a valuation of $5.5 billion. The company has raised a total of $802 million.

“As we approach our sixth anniversary, we want to continue to connect entrepreneurs, business builders, and makers with opportunities in every corner of the world,” co-founder and CEO of Airwallex Jack Zhang said. “This new capital injection will allow us to do just that, fueling M&A opportunities that will accelerate our global expansion plans, pursuing our mission to empower businesses to grow without borders.”

Headquartered in Australia, Airwallex offers a financial infrastructure and platform that enables businesses to manage payments online. The company’s business accounts allow businesses to transfers funds worldwide to more than 130 countries in 31 currencies, at a cost of 0.4% to 1.0% above the interbank FX rate. Airwallex’s business accounts connect seamlessly with online stores such as eBay, Shopify, and PayPal, as well as with accounting packages like Xero, and enable firms to issue virtual “borderless” payment cards to their employees.

Airwallex’s funding comes as the company reports a 1.6x year-over-year revenue increase for Q3, along with annualized revenue of more than $100 million. Launching its virtual employee cards in Hong Kong and the U.K. this past quarter, Airwallex also secured licenses to operate in both Singapore and Malaysia.

“Receiving this approval reflects our robust policies, compliance framework and risk management systems we have put in place,” Zhang said when Airwallex received its Major Payment Institution License by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) earlier this month. “We will continue to work closely with regulators and partners to ensure we facilitate a safe, effective, and transparent way to manage their cross-border financial transaction needs.”

Founded in 2015, Airwallex has recently announced partnerships with Australian digital brokerage company Stake and travel lifestyle brand Cathay. In October, the company was named to the 2021 CB Insights Fintech 250 list for the fourth consecutive year.


Photo by L.Steward Masweneng from Pexels

https://finovate.com/airwallex-reaches-5-5-billion-valuation-after-100-million-investment-extension/

FICO Unveils New Loan Origination Solution

https://finovate.com/fico-unveils-new-loan-origination-solution/

Analytics and decision management technology company FICO launched a loan origination tool called FICO Originations Solution that automates the entire customer journey leveraging the FICO platform.

The cloud-based tool leverages FICO’s enterprise intelligence network to streamline and personalize loan originations. The new tool helps financial services providers do two key things. First, it helps remove friction from the customer experience. Second, it empowers loan originators by helping them make more precise origination decisions and better manage risk, ultimately helping them grow more profitable portfolios.

This enhanced decision-making is thanks in part to FICO’s data library that offers lenders access to 130+ global data sources. The ever-increasing data source helps firms make faster and better customer decisions.

The FICO Originations Solution starts with a completely digital onboarding experience. The tool considers an organization’s goals, including the types of borrowers they want to attract, their ideal conversion rate, and profitability goals. FICO offers simulation capabilities to test the user experience to determine if decreased friction results in increased fraud or if changing an application question increases the conversion rate.

FICO Originations Solutions’ customers have access to FICO’s suite of tools that includes interactive messages, fraud prevention capabilities, and pricing optimization.

“Financial services providers today need data-hungry, analytics-ready, agile, extensible systems in order to compete in a digital-first economy,” said FICO VP and Head of Product Management Tim Van Tassel. “FICO Originations Solution, Powered by FICO Platform provides the digital and analytic sophistication that enables financial institutions to offer the safety, convenience, and personalization that customers look for during the account opening process through their chosen channel, while closely managing customer-level risk.”

FICO was founded in 1956 and is headquartered in California. The company is best known for the consumer FICO score that is calculated based on information in credit reports maintained by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The company also offers fraud and compliance as well as debt collection and recovery solutions.


Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/fico-unveils-new-loan-origination-solution/

Stori Raises $200 Million for Financial Services for the Underserved

https://finovate.com/stori-raises-200-million-for-financial-services-for-the-underserved/

Mexico-based Stori landed $200 million this week in combined debt and equity. The investment, which bring the company’s total funding to almost $250 million, will help the fintech provide financial services to its region’s underserved customers.

The $125 million in equity was co-led by GGV Capital and GIC with contributions from General Catalyst, Goodwater Capital, Tresalia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Vision Plus Capital, BAI Capital, and Source Code Capital. The $75 million in debt financing comes from Community Investment Management.

The investment echoes Stori’s success in the region. The company has become one of Mexico’s top issuer of new credit cards since February of this year. In fact, more than 2 million Mexicans have applied for a Stori credit card, and that number has grown by more than 10 times in the last twelve months.

And there is still plenty of room for growth. The broader Latin American region has 400 million underserved consumers. “Our mission – empowering financial inclusion for millions of hard-working people – is amazingly meaningful and challenging at the same time,” said Stori CEO and co-founder, Bin Chen. “We are progressing at an unprecedented pace by combining technology, machine learning, data-driven underwriting and an intuitive mobile-based user experience. A lot more will come in our journey to become a top consumer financial franchise in Latin America.”

Stori plans to use today’s funds to triple in size and broaden its product offerings to better suit customer needs, ultimately providing much-needed financial services to Mexico’s underserved citizens. The fresh capital will also help Stori grow its team and double down on training and development opportunities.

While Stori is focused on the Mexico region, the company boasts a global team with offices in Washington D.C., Mexico, and Asia. “Our success since launch is a direct result of having a team who is passionate about our mission to empower upward financial mobility for the underserved population,” said company Co-founder Marlene Garayzar. 


Photo by Andrés Sanz on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/stori-raises-200-million-for-financial-services-for-the-underserved/

How One Fintech Founder’s U.S. Military Experience Impacts His Operations

https://finovate.com/how-one-fintech-founders-u-s-military-experience-impacts-his-operations/

Veterans Day in the U.S. is a day to remember and honor the sacrifices our military veterans have made to preserve the freedom we enjoy on a daily basis. How can banks and fintechs give back by connecting and serving this niche clientele in return?

We interviewed Dennis Cail, co-founder and CEO of Zirtue, who shared his experience as a U.S. Navy veteran-turned-fintech entrepreneur. Cail told us how his military experience impacts his work at Zirtue and what banks and fintechs can do to give back.

Tell us the basic idea of Zirtue.

Dennis Cail: Zirtue is the world’s first relationship-based lending application, simplifying loans between friends, family, and trusted relationships by turning informal promises into structured agreements and automating the repayment process. Zirtue’s mission is to drive financial inclusion and freedom, one relationship at a time.

Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Zirtue sits at the nexus between two major pain points: a person needing a financial lifeline to pay their bills and a company struggling with bad debt. Corporate partners use Zirtue as an alternative payment solution, allowing individuals with past-due accounts to request loans from friends or family members in order to pay their bills. Zirtue has raised $6 million of VC funding and more than $10 million in loans have been processed on the platform to help users keep their lights on, pay their rent, and get access to critical healthcare.

How did you come up with the idea of Zirtue? What was the impetus?

Cail: Growing up in Louisiana, I lived in public housing and neighborhoods often surrounded by payday lenders and check cashing services; the same was true of the areas surrounding the naval bases I lived on. It wasn’t until college when I saw how different communities attract different types of neighborhood businesses such as banks, and that many neighborhoods didn’t have traditional banks.

Looking back, I saw how clearly and deliberately predatory lenders target those with few financial options and no access to traditional banking services, like my neighborhoods in Monroe and the Navy. These experiences led me to creating a loan option for these unbanked and underbanked folks that provided them with necessary loans and empowered them through the process. We all need a little help sometimes, and that is what Zirtue is all about. I also have experienced the challenges of loaning friends and family money myself. Even though I wanted to help my loved ones out, it made things awkward. I saw the impact that these friendly loans could have on my loved ones in terms of helping them achieve their dreams or simply make ends meet, without having to pay the high fees of predatory payday lenders who are the only available option for many.

As someone who has always wanted to found a company and had a background in finance, I knew I could create a solution for this problem that formalized these friendly loans, while simultaneously driving financial inclusion. Ultimately, this solution became Zirtue, and we’ve now processed more than $10 million in loans to-date and plan to continue until Zirtue is a payment option at every retailer you visit in-person and online.

You are one of a handful of military veteran fintech founders. First off, thank you for your service. Can you tell us about your military experience?

Cail: As a Systems Engineer in the US Navy working with hardware and software to ensure we had ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications, my military experience gave me the technical foundation I needed to start a successful career in technology. The military is also a place that either makes or breaks you. At the very least it reveals who you are at your core and I learned a lot about myself during my military experience.

Funny, but true story… I didn’t know how to swim when I joined the Navy and when I shared this information with my civilian friends after I left the Navy, they would naturally ask me, “why did you join the Navy if you couldn’t swim?!” The answer is that I joined the Navy to learn how to swim and to serve my country. This may sound a bit extreme. However, entrepreneurs have to be extreme on some level if they are going to achieve what most people would consider impossible or too risky. Long before I became an entrepreneur and a fintech founder, I had the spirit of an entrepreneur with a high tolerance for calculated risk. My military experience only amplified that entrepreneurial spirit.

How does your military experience impact your work at Zirtue?

Cail: The military has absolutely influenced my career and led me to found Zirtue. First of all, the military taught me how to be a strong leader and how to navigate stressful situations – which are both imperative to founding a company and handling the complexities of entrepreneurship. Further, the military taught me to always look out for your partner, or in my case shipmate, and that we either win together or lose together. This concept has shaped the way I interact with my team, our customers, partners, and other entrepreneurs – we have to take care of each other.

Finally, being in the military taught me about the importance of structured, detailed plans, which has helped me integrate further structure into entrepreneurship and supported business growth for Zirtue. Looking back, I am incredibly thankful for my military experience for shaping me into the man I am today and forming a solid foundation as an entrepreneur and CEO.

What advice do you have for banks and fintechs looking to connect with and serve military veterans as clients?

Cail: It’s extremely important that banks and fintechs alike do all they can to help military veterans transition back into civilian life so that we can put them in the best possible position to be successful with skills that are highly transferable. Given the sacrifices made by these men and women, my advice is simply to be intentional about their DEI efforts to connect with military veterans with formal programs that include military veterans.

At Zirtue we actively recruit from this amazing source of talent and encourage military veterans to apply for any open jobs we may have. I would also like to call out that banks like USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union are very active in their efforts to support veterans and their families with financial products and customized lending options. Their efforts should be applauded and replicated.

https://finovate.com/how-one-fintech-founders-u-s-military-experience-impacts-his-operations/

The Philippines’ Lone Fintech Unicorn Secures $300 Million in New Funding

https://finovate.com/the-philippines-lone-fintech-unicorn-secures-300-million-in-new-funding/

In a round led by Warburg Pincus, Insight Partners, and Bow Wave Capital Management, Philippines-based mobile payment company Mynt has secured $300 million in new funding. The investment, which also featured participation from Itai Tsiddon, Amplo Ventures, Globe Telecom, and Ayala Corporation, gives Mynt a valuation of more than $2 billion and solidifying the company’s status as the biggest technology unicorn based in the Philippines.

“We have been able to continuously expand by introducing game-changing innovations while improving our profitability profile,” Mynt president and CEO Martha Sazon. “We are excited about our new partnership with Warburg, Insight, Itali Tsiddon, and Amplo, as they each bring strategic value to our team in the pursuit of our vision towards finance for all.”

Owned by Philippine mobile operator Globe Telecom, Mynt is the company behind the GCash app. The popular solution enables customers to buy prepaid airtime; pay bills at more than 600 partner billers throughout the Philippines; send and receive money anywhere in the country; as well as access savings, credit, insurance, and investment products and services. GCash currently has more than 48 million users.

Most recently, Mynt has piloted a new cash loan offering, GLoan, that enables qualified borrowers to take out loans of up to PHP25,000 (approximately $500 USD) that can be repaid over 12 months. GLoan joins the company’s GCredit offering, which disburses more than PHP1 billion ($200 million USD) in loans every month and has disbursed PHP15 billion ($3 billion USD) as of June of this year. Mynt notes that its GCredit solution has the best repayment rates with the lowest number of past-due and non-performing loans locally. Unsurprisingly, Mynt is also looking to offer Buy Now Pay Later services “within the year” as well.

Mynt’s GCash is also one of the growing number of financial apps to incorporate pro-environmental functionality into its solution. The app has a feature, GForest, that serves as a gamified environmental stewardship program that enables users to convert points earned from using GCash into a virtual tree. These virtual trees are then planted as actual trees in specific locations in the Philippines. Mynt says that it has 8.7 million users of GForest within the GCash app.

Founded in 2015, Mynt has been recognized as a leader in the digital transformation of payments and other financial services in the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic. With nearly half the country’s population using its technology, Mynt is on pace to reach a gross transaction value of PHP3 trillion, more than triple of what was achieved last year. The company has reported peak daily app log-ins of 19 million and daily active transactions of 12 million.


Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

Asia-Pacific

Sub-Saharan Africa


Photo by Meo Fernando from Pexels

https://finovate.com/the-philippines-lone-fintech-unicorn-secures-300-million-in-new-funding/

Assembly Payments and CurrencyFair Consummate Merger; Rebrand as Zai

https://finovate.com/assembly-payments-and-currencyfair-consummate-merger-rebrand-as-zai/

Announced earlier this year, the merger between cross-border payments marketplace CurrencyFair and payment workflow automation platform Assembly Payments has secured regulatory approval. The merged company has also rebranded as Zai as part of a new focus on providing a wider set of integrated financial services to mid-market businesses and enterprise-level customers within and beyond the Australian market. The CurrencyFair brand will remain intact to serve consumers and small businesses with the kind of fast, affordable foreign exchange the company has offered for nearly a decade.

Paul Byrne, who served as CEO and President of Currencyfair for more than five years, will now serve as CEO and President of the new entity Zai. “Our vision with Zai is to boldly transform the future of financial services,” Byrne said in a statement. “The Australian market is very close to our hearts – both Assembly Payments and CurrencyFair were founded by Australian innovators.”

To underscore this point Byrne added that Zai was first to market with NPP, Australia’s New Payments Platform, and that the company planned to launch its new, real-time digital payments solution, PayTo, in the middle of next year. PayTo will enable merchants and businesses to initiate real-time payments from their customers’ bank accounts.

“Zai will continue our tradition of being customer-centric, solving problems and adding value around our five core capabilities,” Byrne said. These areas – payments, global payment accounts, partner ecosystem, lending and settlement, and services – represent major growth opportunities according to Byrne, in what he described as a “$2 trillion revenue market for payments.” In addition to expanding its presence in Australia, Zai plans to launch in the U.K., the U.S., and Asia in 2022 and to grow its workforce from 170 to 450 by 2025.

“We are already seeing the benefits of expansion as we forecast a second successive year of 60% growth in processing volume to $6.5 billion in 2021,” Byrne said.

Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and launched in 2009, CurrencyFair has been a Finovate alum since 2012. Ahead of the merger with Assembly Payments, the company had securely exchanged the equivalent of €10 billion, enabling its customers to send money to more than 150 countries. The company had raised more than $24 million in funding before acquiring Assembly Payments, picking up an additional $35 million in funding from Standard Chartered afterward.

“By bringing together the complementary strengths of CurrencyFair and Assembly, we are supporting the merged company in offering the full range of payment services,” Standard Chartered group chief executive Bill Winters said earlier this year, “providing retail and corporate clients access to fast, high-volume domestic and cross-border payments.”

https://finovate.com/assembly-payments-and-currencyfair-consummate-merger-rebrand-as-zai/

UNest Forges Strategic Partnership with Avibra to Bring Insurance Benefits to Families

https://finovate.com/unest-forges-strategic-partnership-with-avibra-to-bring-insurance-benefits-to-families/

The business of helping parents provide financial education and savings for their children has been one of the more robust areas of innovation in fintech. One such company, UNest, based out of Hollywood, California, announced this week that it has entered a strategic partnership with Avibra to further its mission of bringing financial planning, saving, and investment solutions to parents and their kids.

“Together with Avibra, we are addressing three key areas for families – financial, insurance, and healthcare,” UNest founder and CEO Ksenia Yudina explained. “As the leading app to help parents save for their kid’s future, we have insight into other focus areas for our customers. Alongside pragmatic saving and investment tools, families need insurance coverage and access to healthcare. Avibra shares our customer-centric philosophy and desire to create solutions that empower underserved communities.”

Founded in 2019 and headquartered in New Jersey, Avibra is an app-based advisor offering free and affordable finance, insurance, and financial well-being benefits. These benefits include a la carte solutions such as increased life and AD&D coverage, telehealth and teletherapy services, as well as phone repair and roadside assistance. Courtesy of the newly announced strategic partnership, UNest customers will get access to a $10,000 complimentary AD&D insurance policy – with the option to earn up to $5,000 more in additional coverage. They will also have the ability to choose from Avibra’s a la carte benefits – via the company’s Dollar Benefits Store – at a cost of just $1 per week.

“We are both mission-driven companies and the close alignment in our ethos makes this collaboration a natural fit,” Avibra founder and CEO Yogesh Shetty said. “Similar to UNest, we believe that everyone deserves access to top-quality healthcare and financial solutions. Avibra’s team is focused on improving the lives of hard-working families. Through this partnership, we hope to inspire parents and their kids to be proactive in preparing for each life stage.”

To access Avibra, UNest customers use the UNest Rewards section of the company’s app. Founded in 2020, UNest has developed one of the largest collections of rewards partners offered via a savings and investment app. UNest also offers its customers cash back when they enroll and shop with more than 100 different national brands including Disney+, Old Navy, and Nike.

At the company’s Finovate debut in September, Garrett Gilbertson and Peter Mansfield demonstrated the UNest’s financial planning, saving, and investment app for families. UNest offers tax-advantaged investment accounts for children, giving young people an early opportunity to begin saving for higher education, a first car, a first house, or simply to pave the way for better financial security in adulthood. UNest’s gifting program enables parents to enlist the support of extended family members and friends to contribute to their child’s account.

UNest offers a regular account for $2.99 a month and a family account for $5.98 a month. The Family plan adds the ability to include up to five children in the plan, while retaining all the same features – multiple investment options, unlimited gifts from friends and family, cashback from UNest Rewards, and a savings calculator – as the regular plan. Both plans give parents complete visibility and control over how the money is invested and spent until the child reaches adulthood.


Photo by Emma Bauso from Pexels

https://finovate.com/unest-forges-strategic-partnership-with-avibra-to-bring-insurance-benefits-to-families/

Veem Teams Up with Visa, Q2 to Bring Digital Money Management and AR/AP Innovations to SMEs

https://finovate.com/veem-teams-up-with-visa-q2-to-bring-digital-money-management-and-ar-ap-innovations-to-smes/

From a collaboration with Visa to a partnership with Q2, new Finovate alum Veem, which made its Finovate debut last September at FinovateFall, continues to offer the kind of solutions to help make business payments easy, efficient, and affordable.

In fact, within one month of the company’s first-ever demo on the Finovate stage – a presentation of Veem’s Partner Connect product – the San Francisco, California-based company inked two major deals with some of the most innovative companies in financial services and digital banking.

Veem’s partnership with Visa, announced in the first half of October, will give the company’s 400,000+ customers access to a new SMB Visa card program, as well as digital money movement capabilities courtesy of Visa’s real-time push payments platform, Visa Direct. The agreement will enable Veem customers to generate and issue virtual Visa payment cards that can be used to cover business costs ranging from payments to suppliers to more general business expenses. The virtual card program, along with Veem’s spend management tools, also provides reconciliation and other financial benefits to help customers further digitize and streamline their operations. Access to Visa Direct will give Veem’s U.S. clients the ability to send money directly to both bank accounts and eligible Visa cards in more than 160 currencies.

“Visa is renowned for having broad network acceptance both domestically and internationally,” Veem CEO Marwan Forzley said. “Our collaboration helps Veem expand digital payment options for our customers, as we continue to build the next generation global solution for businesses.”

Veem also last month announced that it was teaming up with digital banking innovator Q2. The partnership is geared toward taking the friction out of the accounts payable/accounts receivable process for SMEs by making Veem’s AP/AR automation platform available to the 450+ financial institutions and 1.5 million businesses on Q2’s digital banking platform.

“This partnership with Veem gives our Financial institutions the ability to deliver Veem’s modern payment services to SMB customers with agility and reliability,” Q2 Innovation Studio Managing Director Johnny Ola said. “Businesses are looking for embedded solutions that act as a one-stop-shop to conduct all their day-to-day transactions. With our integration with Veem, we are excited to give our financial institution customers the option to offer small businesses innovative technology solutions.”

The two collaborations were only part of a very busy autumn for Veem, which was founded n 2014. Also last month, the company appointed Jeff Revoy as Chief Growth Officer and Travis Green as Vice President of Product Management. Revoy brings 20 years of CEO, President, and C-level experience at a number of public and VC-backed firms. Previous to his joining Veem, Revoy was Chief Operating Officer for SpaceIQ, a real estate workplace management software company he founded in 2016 that was acquired by WeWork in the summer of 2019.

In September, Veem secured $31 million in strategic funding in a round led by Truist Ventures. The company said in a statement that the capital will help it develop a robust channel partner program to broaden the company’s geographic footprint. The investment takes the company’s total equity funding to just over $100 million.

“This funding round marks an important milestone for the company, putting us in an ideal position to build out our channel partner program and prepare for Veem’s next stage of global growth,” Forzley said when the investment was announced. “Our channel partner network serves as our vehicle to better commercialize our product offering and further expand upon our market development efforts.”

As Veem’s FinovateFall debut showed, the development of its channel partner program has already borne fruit. At the conference, Veem’s Revoy and Connor Grilo demonstrated a new minimal code integration – Partner Connect – that enables banks to offer their clients an all-in-one, global payments platform designed for small and mid-sized businesses that keeps the bank’s branding at the forefront. The solution is integrated with the major accounting platforms so that, with a couple of clicks, users can reconcile what they are sending out from or receiving in Veem with their accounting software.

“There’s no back and forth, there’s no trying to keep two separate systems,” Revoy said from the Finovate stage. “All of this is automated and designed in a way so that, as a business owner, it can be fast, it can save you time, hopefully it will save you money, and will save you a lot of headaches, because everything is tied together.”


Photo by Ariadne Barroso from Pexels

https://finovate.com/veem-teams-up-with-visa-q2-to-bring-digital-money-management-and-ar-ap-innovations-to-smes/

Reimagining the Commercial Banking Digital Client Experience Using Real-Time Analytics

https://finovate.com/reimagining-the-commercial-banking-digital-client-experience-using-real-time-analytics/

Upcoming webinar
Title: How BMO is reimagining the Commercial Banking digital client experience using real-time analytics
Date: Friday, November 19, 2021
Time: 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
Duration: 1 hour

Like most banks, the pandemic caused BMO to accelerate self-serve options for both its retail and commercial digital banking platform. But, self-service is not a one-size-fits all strategy!

Working with Quantum Metric, BMO leveraged real-time data to build an experience for its commercial customers that replicated the ease and usability of its retail platform, but reflected the needs and behaviors of its commercial clients.  

Join Quantum Metric and BMO in our upcoming #FinovateWebinar as they discuss: 

  • Building a data and analytics strategy that supports an iterative approach to product development
  • Identifying user frustrations, errors, and confusion on commercial sites with real-time data
  • Quantifying the long-term impact of negative user experiences
  • Establishing a customer-centric mindset through Continuous Product Design

Moderated by Finovate’s David Penn, and featuring Sean Ellery, Head, Digital Innovation, North American Treasury & Payment Solutions; Steven Teo, Director, Innovation & Digital Controls, North American Treasury & Payment Solutions; Darko Mitrovic, Director of Account Management, Quantum Metric; and Michael Hanson, Regional Vice President of Banking and Financial Services, Quantum Metric.


Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/reimagining-the-commercial-banking-digital-client-experience-using-real-time-analytics/