FinovateAsia: Digital Disruption, Embedded Finance, and the Customer Experience

If you are looking to get up to speed on the innovations in fintech taking place in the Asia-Pacific region, then our all-digital fintech conference, FinovateAsia, is your ticket. For two days next week, June 22 and June 23, our guest speakers and distinguished panelists will share their insights and experiences as innovators, entrepreneurs, and analysts in one of the fastest-growing, technologically-creative areas of the world.

We’ve already introduced you to our keynote speakers. Here’s a look at the roundtables and panel discussions that will be available to attendees over the course of the conference. Learn more about FinovateAsia Digital at our FinovateAsia hub and pick up your ticket today!

Digital disruption and customer experience

Examine how customer demands have changed in the current environment. Discover how to build successful partnerships and distribution channels with customers in mind. Read more.

  • Sheila Paul, Chief Marketing Officer, Home Credit Philippines
  • Mikko Hietanen, COO, CreamQuark
  • Shawn Lau, VP, Partnerships Solutions, SwissRe
  • Justin Yiu, Head of Innovation, Solaria Labs East (Asia), Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Gerald Marion, Chief Customer & Strategy Officer, BUPA ANZ
  • Moderated by Marc-Antoine Hager, Sales Director, APAC, CleverTap

Embedded finance and the future of finance

Learn how to harness the power of data and digitization to build new models of finance across verticals. See how to empower customers through better offerings, and how to integrate services into customers’ every day lives. Read more.

  • Victor Alexiev, Director, APAC Head for Citi Ventures, Programs & Strategic Partnerships, ICG, Citi
  • Sonal Kapoor, Director, Flipkart
  • Moderated by Yannick Even, Head of Digital & Smart Analytics APAC, SwissRe

The evolving payment landscape in Asia: Blurring of lines between payment systems

Examine the emerging challenges and opportunities in the payments space. Discuss how the payments industry can foster collaboration to serve consumers and businesses better. Read more.

  • Daniel Webber, Founder / CEO, FXC Intelligence
  • Laetitia Moncarz, Head of Corporates & FI and Business Innovation, SWIFT Asia Pacific
  • Kevin Popermhem, Cross Border Product Manager, ITMX
  • Moderated by Nicholas Soo, Regional Head of Payments, Global Liquidity & Cash Management, HSBC

Change management: Bringing your people on your digitization journey

Learn how implementing cultural change can future-proof your business and attract and retain the right, forward-looking, tech-talented people. Read more.

  • Faraaz Ali, Group Head, Digital Ecosystems, API and Open Banking, DBS
  • Susan Ong, Chief Information Officer, Home Credit Philippines
  • Oscar Ramos, Partner & Managing Director, Chinaccelerator
  • Deepak Oram, Head of Marketing Technology & Automation, HDFC Bank
  • Moderated by John Gist, Head of Fidelity Labs, Fidelity

Overcoming challenges and fostering successful partnerships across new ecosystems

Explore the convergence between financial services, insurance, wealth, and health, and the disruptors working across ecosystems. Learn how you can fit into this emerging ecosystem model and expand into new markets. Read more.

  • Deepak Sharma, Chief Digital Officer, Kotah Mahindra Bank
  • Manish Gurbuxani, Regional Head of Business Development and New Markets, Prudential
  • Alpesh Doshi, Managing Partner, Redcliffe Capital
  • Moderated by Yi Mien Koh, Chief Partnership Officer, Asian Markets, AXA Asia

SME lending in a post-COVID-19 world

Learn how credit and financing options favored by consumers have changed in response to the pandemic. Examine ways to determine the unique credit needs of different customer types and how to build new products to accommodate them. Read more.

  • Nikhilesh Goel, Co-founder and COO, Validus Capital
  • Brian Yeoh, Head of Data Governance and Strategy, Financial Services Regulatory Authority
  • Moderated by Zhi-Ying Barry, Senior Analyst, Forrester

Acceleration of digital banking: Innovating in response to COVID-19

Investigate how banks and other financial institutions embraced digital transformation trends that preceded the pandemic. Discuss what challenges and opportunities are likely to arise in a post-COVID environment. Read more.

  • Sam Tanskul, Managing Director Krungsri Finnovate & Head of Innovation, Krungsri Bank
  • Xue Kai Pang, CEO, Tokocrypto
  • Medhy Soudhi, Head of FinTech & StartupXcharge, DBS
  • Moderated by Lapman Lee, Professor of Practice (FinTech & Innovation), HK Polytechnic University

Leveraging emerging technologies and digitization to reimagine a hybrid customer experience

Discover how to identify customer pain points more efficiently and find the right balance between digital self-service and the human touch. Learn how to harness AI and machine learning to exceed customer expectations. Read more.

  • Andy Chun, Regional Director, Technology Innovation, Prudential
  • Shawn Low, Co-founder and Head of Operations,
  • Tomasz Kurczyk, Chief Digital and Transformation Officer, AXA
  • Moderated by Frank Yazdi, Head of Priority Client Services, Asia Pacific, HSBC

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

B9 Raises Pre-Seed Funding to Help New American Workers Get Paid

A pre-seed funding round of $1.7 million will help U.S. fintech startup B9 build its financial app that helps immigrant workers secure interest-free payroll advances.

“Immigrant communities and other marginalized groups are invisible to traditional banks,” B9 CEO Sergei Terentyev said. “They are hardworking people who deserve a full service banking option that fits the way they earn and spend.” Terentyev called the response to B9 “overwhelming” and said that “hundreds of thousands” of interested users have joined the company’s waiting list.

“In our view, access to banking services that allow families to share resources, build credit and plan for the future is an equality issue, and the early response we’ve seen demonstrates the magnitude of the demand,” Terentyev added.

B9 offers 0% APR pay advances of up to 15 days, as well as a free virtual Visa debit card, and access to both U.S. and international money transfers. The San Francisco, California-based company charges a monthly subscription fee of $4.99.

B9 will use the funding to add to its team, as well as make technology investments. The company hopes to have 100,000 customers by the end of the year with its focus on consumers who are not only underserved by traditional banks, but are also often preyed upon by predatory lenders. In addition to its early wage access feature, B9 expects to offer additional services such as merchant discounts and access to insurance.

In their funding announcement, the company underscored the size of the non-U.S. born population – more than 40 million – as well as the fact that the lion’s share of U.S. population growth – up to 80% – will come from the growth of the first- and second-generation immigrant population.

B9’s services are set up with this in mind. In addition to offering a low, monthly subscription rate, applicants only require a U.S. mailing address, social security number, or ITIN, as well as a government-issued ID from either a U.S. source or from the applicant’s country of origin. Multiple language customer service is available.

Best of Show Winner Finn AI Adds to its Chatbot Offerings for Banks

Finn AI, the two-time Best of Show winner whose conversational AI technology has helped banks and credit unions add to their digital engagement solutions, announced a set of new additions of its own today. The Vancouver, British Columbia-based fintech unveiled three new chatbot service levels to give banks and credit unions greater options in tailoring the online banking experience for their customers and members.

“We’re giving financial institutions flexibility in how they embrace chatbots,” Finn AI co-founder and CEO Jake Tyler said. “They can either adopt fully-integrated bank chat now or they can build their digital experience over time.”

Finn AI’s Virtual Banking Assistant, powered by AI, enables banking customers to use their preferred communication channel – including Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa, SMS, iOS, web chat and more – to conduct their banking activities. The AI also helps banks and credit unions gain deeper insights into customer behavior and preferences in order to make increasingly accurate and relevant responses and recommendations. With more than 800 pre-built workflows, the technology is able to answer queries out-of-the-box without human intervention, as well as know when to route more complex queries to human agents.

“By introducing an AI chatbot, banks can deliver better service, achieve higher loyalty, and build broader product relationships,” Tyler said.

The new levels are being introduced today are:

  • Level 1: Quick and easy responses to the most common queries to the institution’s public website.
  • Level 2: Concierge-based navigation to help customers and members using plain language on authenticated mobile and online banking sites
  • Level 3: Virtual assistant-based chatbot that enables end-users to bank via chat in plain language over the customer’s or member’s channel of choice

Founded in 2014, Finn AI has partnered with financial institutions such as ATB Financial, United Federal Credit Union, and TymeBank, as well as one of the largest U.S. card networks and a top ten U.S. retail bank. This spring, the company joined the National Association of Credit Union Services Organizations (NACUSO), and unveiled a handful of new platform features and partner integrations including interest rate tracking and enhancing the bot’s ability to respond to queries involving issues of financial literacy.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Building Better Banking Websites and Stronger Fintech Teams

Time to catch up on the latest from the Finovate Podcast featuring Finovate VP Greg Palmer!

Last week, the podcast hosted Matthew Covi, co-founder and CEO of Signal Intent. A Best of Show winner in its Finovate debut this spring, Signal Intent builds financial calculators for banks, credit unions, and other financial services companies.

These solutions, designed for the digital age, help companies enhance the customer experience they offer with what Covi called “modern, digital tools that will help them compete in today’s landscape.”

“Calculators are a tool that exist on nine out of ten banking websites,” he explained. “But the options that exist really haven’t kept up with the times.”

In this conversation, Covi explains how financial services companies can leverage Signal Intent’s next generation calculators to gain valuable insights into customer preferences, and to use those insights to further enhance the customer experience.

Building a fintech company that lasts was the theme of Danny Shader’s conversation on the Finovate Podcast earlier this month. Shader is the founder and CEO of PayNearMe, a payments experience management firm that enables businesses to boost customer engagement, improve efficiency and drive payment costs lower.

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, PayNearMe made its Finovate debut more than a decade ago at FinovateFall in New York.

In the years since, PayNearMe has grown into a leading payments innovator, processing billons of dollars a year in all payment types ranging from ACH, cards, and cash, to mobile-first options like Google Pay and Apple Pay.

In this podcast, Shader talked about what he’s learned as a successful fintech CEO and why every startup needs to be prepared to re-envision, if not re-invent, itself in order to succeed in the long-term.

“I know of almost no hugely successful startup – with the possible exception of maybe Facebook – that ended up doing what it set out to do,” he said. “Your first business ideaI think of as a prop and its the excuse that lets you interact with customers.”

For more from the Finovate podcast, check out last month’s May lineup featuring:

Jeff Horvath of DigiPli on regulatory risk and the changing compliance landscape. Is showing you’re trying good enough?

Jonathan Bell of Red Compass Labs on the fight against human trafficking and slavery in fintech, and the role banks and innovators have to play.

Peter Hazlehurst of Synctera on building a true partnership model for fintech and creating a community banking experience.

Europe’s Most Valuable Fintech; El Salvador Embraces Bitcoin

Two of the biggest news items in international fintech this week also reflect two of the biggest trends in the industry in recent years: interest-free retail financing and the rise of digital assets.

With regard to the first, Stockholm, Sweden-based Klarna announced this week that it hauled in a whopping $639 million in new funding in a round led by SoftBank. The investment gives the company a valuation of $46 billion and makes it the most highly-valued fintech company in Europe.

“Consumers continue to reject interest- and fee-laden revolving credit and are moving toward debit while simultaneously seeking retail experiences that better meet their needs,” Klarna founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said. “More transparent and convenient alternatives align with evolving global consumer preferences and drive worldwide growth.”

Read our coverage of Klarna’s big fundraising news.

The other major trend in fintech relates to the boom in cryptocurrencies. El Salvador, a small nation in the middle of Central America, announced earlier this week that it will recognize bitcoin as legal tender – the first country in the world to do so.

The move came as the result of a 62-22 vote in the Salvadoran Congress, which overwhelmingly backed the initiative proposed by President Nayib Bukele – whose party controls the legislature. After the vote, Bukele tweeted that the move would be a boon for the country “bring(ing) financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation, and economic development.” The law would require companies to accept bitcoin as payment for goods and services, as well as enable citizens to pay their taxes using bitcoin. Bukele further directed the country’s state-owned geothermal power company LaGeo to develop a strategy to leverage the power of El Salvador’s volcanoes to power bitcoin mining.

Skeptics of the move range from those who point to the country’s economic assistance program with the International Money Fund as a potential complication, to others who simply have no idea what bitcoin is and can’t imagine using it. “How am I going to agree with this? I haven’t seen it even in photos.” Reuters quoted one El Salvadoran shopper speaking in response to the news. “I know nothing about it. You need to understand your currency.”

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean


Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Stripe Launches Tax Tool for Businesses

Stripe is building out its tools for small businesses this week. The ecommerce technology company launched Stripe Tax, after completing a six month long pilot.

The new tool helps businesses automatically calculate and collect sales tax, VAT, and GST on the merchant’s behalf. Not only this, the new offering also generates reports and helps businesses navigate complicated regional requirements. The capabilities will lift a burden off small businesses, especially in the U.S., where there are over 11,000 different tax jurisdictions.

“No one leaps out of bed in the morning excited to deal with taxes,” said Stripe Co-founder and President John Collison. “For most businesses, managing tax compliance is a painful distraction. We simplify everything about calculating and collecting sales taxes, VAT, and GST, so our users can focus on building their businesses.”

Stripe Tax features include:

  • Real time tax calculation, which leverages the customer’s location to calculate and collect the right amount of tax and keeps up-to-date with rate and rule changes
  • Frictionless checkout, which reduces checkout friction by using location information to calculate and show taxes to customers.
  • Tax ID management, which helps B2B businesses collect the tax ID number from customers and validate VAT IDs for European customers
  • Reconciliation, which creates comprehensive reports for each market in which a business is registered to collect tax

The tax calculation and collection capabilities will be available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.S., and the U.K.

The launch follows Stripe’s acquisition of tax tool startup TaxJar in May. “With TaxJar, we will help millions of internet businesses running on Stripe with their sales tax and make it easier for them to sell internationally,” commented Stripe CFO Dhivya Suryadevara. “And as a CFO, I’m delighted to welcome so many new colleagues who care deeply about taxes!”

It also comes after a rather sizable funding round the company announced in March, when Stripe raised $600 million in funding. The Series H round brought the company’s total funding to $2.2 billion and boosted its valuation to $95 billion.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Klarna Locks in $639 Million in New Funding; Earns $46 Billion Valuation

In a round led by SoftBank – and featuring participation from Adit Ventures, Honeycomb Asset Management, and WestCap Group – consumer payments pioneer Klarna has raised $639 million in funding. The investment brings the company a valuation of $46 billion at a time when the buy now pay later trend is reshaping consumer financing

“Consumers continue to reject interest- and fee-laden revolving credit and are moving toward debit while simultaneously seeking retail experiences that better meet their needs,” Klarna founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said. “More transparent and convenient alternatives align with evolving global consumer preferences and drive worldwide growth.”

A Finovate alum since 2012, Stockholm, Sweden-based Klarna was among the innovators in “after-delivery payment” which enabled buyers to receive products before payment was due, with the facilitating company taking on all credit and fraud risk for online merchants. To state the obvious, Klarna’s approach to consumer financing has caught on in the years since with a wave of companies across the globe launching their own “buy now pay later” options – especially of late. Today, with this investment, Klarna is Europe’s biggest fintech unicorn, with more than $1.2 billion in 2020 revenues, and more than 18 million customers in the U.S. alone. The company’s payment options are available at nearly a quarter of the top U.S. retailers, and can be found in 17 markets around the world. Klarna’s most recent offering, Pay in 4, is a full embrace of the buy now pay later format, giving consumers the opportunity to pay for purchases over time in four, interest-free payments.

In addition to being the highest-valued private fintech in Europe, Klarna is now the #2 fintech in terms of valuation in the world – behind Stripe. And as part of the GiveOne initiative launched by Klarna earlier this year, the company will direct 1% of this week’s investment to “initiatives supporting planet health.”

“Klarna is really transforming and disrupting corporate giving by not only implementing a long-term commitment but also by enabling others to do the same,” explained Nina Siemiatkowski, founder and CEO of Milkywire, a social impact platform that serves as Klarna’s strategic partner in the GiveOne project. “We hope that many more companies follow their lead and support our planet by funding those who are on the frontlines making impactful change on a daily basis.”

Photo by shattha pilabut from Pexels

FinovateAsia Digital 2021 Sneak Peek: Amber

A look at the companies demoing at FinovateAsia Digital on June 22, 2021. Register today and save your spot.

Amber is an Australian-based Bitcoin accumulation app. It makes it easy to Dollar Cost Average (DCA), auto-buy-the-dip, auto-withdraw, and accumulate the hardest money, scarcest asset on Earth.


  • Auto-accumulate Bitcoin
  • Spend your Fiat
  • Borrow Fiat against your Bitcoin

Why it’s great
With Amber you can collect Bitcoin and self custody it without having to think too hard about it.


Aleks Svetski, CEO & Founder
Svetski is a controversial writer, researcher, keynote speaker, and scholarship recipient who pursued entrepreneurship instead of textbooks. He founded Amber in 2018, the world’s first Bitcoin-only DCA app.

Top Three Takeaways from Marqeta’s $16+ Billion IPO

CNBC Disruptor and Finovate alum Marqeta raised $1.2 billion in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Exchange on Wednesday. The Oakland, California-based payment processor ended its first day as a public company with a market capitalization of more than $16 billion.

“We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible with modern card issuing,” Marqeta founder and CEO Jason Gardner said in the company’s blog reporting the news. “I feel fortunate to be in the position I’m in, leading a company of incredibly talented people as we take the next step in enabling modern money movement for many of the world’s leading innovators.”

What does Marqeta’s IPO mean for the company going forward? And does the company’s public debut say anything about investors’ attitudes toward fintech and financial services companies more generally? Here are a handful of ideas.

The Coast is Clear!

A strong public debut for Marqeta could hint at an even more impressive performance by better-known fintechs like SoFi and Robinhood that are reportedly looking to go public later this year. Compared to payment processing, with all due respect, it is easy to imagine investors being enticed by an online lender transitioning to a broad-based comprehensive personal finance platform. And even if the meme stock mania of 2020 has cooled off a bit, I suspect that investors will be willing to line up around the proverbial block to get a piece of the fintech’s most notorious, no-fee online stock broker.

Public Investment = Public Scrutiny

Now a public company, Marqeta may face criticism over its business model, which relies heavily on interchange fees generated via transactions on its platform. Having issued 320+ million cards through its platform as of the end of March, and processing $60 billion in volume last year, the company itself noted in its prospectus that interchange fees are “subject to intense legal and regulatory scrutiny.” And while there are no clear changes to the regulatory environment in sight with regard to interchange fees, the fact that the now-public company will be more vulnerable to the appearance of “scrutiny” will be something for Marqeta to deal with – ideally by adding to and diversifying its revenue sources.

Playing the E-commerce Gold Rush

Marqeta was one of a number of fintechs that saw its business boom during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company reported that its revenue soared 2x to more than $290 million in 2020 as millions of locked down, quarantined, sheltered-in-place consumers flocked to digital channels to purchase a growing range of products and services online. The question for many companies, including Marqeta, is whether or not these trends will endure. Gardner points to the increase in ordering via on-demand services apps and the rise of buy-now-pay-later offerings as developments that could keep the pace of online commerce at a high level. If he is correct then Marqeta could have the time it needs to add more key customers (according to Financial Times, most of Marqeta’s business arrives via small business payments processor Square) and broaden out its network to better compete with rivals like PayPal.

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FinovateAsia: Digital Banking, Brand Intimacy, and the Future of Payments

FinovateAsia Digital is less than two weeks away. If you are headquartered in the APAC region, do business in the region, or would simply like to know more about the fintech trends in one of the most technologically innovative parts of the world, then FinovateAsia Digital, held on the 22nd and 23rd of this month, deserves a space on your fintech calendar. Visit our FinovateAsia Digital hub to register and pick up your ticket today.

Last week we previewed some of the major themes that our distinguished speakers and panelists will cover at this year’s conference. Below, we introduce our main stage keynote addresses and speakers to give you an even better sense of what we’ve got in store later this month at the show.

Reshaping the future of digital banking – stories of success

Investigates how a leading digital player is shaking things up, working differently, and building financial services in new and innovative ways. With Keng Swee Koh, Executive Director and Head of Wealth Management, DBS

Enabling a Data-Driven Enterprise

Reveals what top analysts are calling “the future of data management,” and how it is being used to streamline both compliance initiatives and accelerate strategic business initiatives at top financial services firms. With Joe Lichetenberg, Global Head of Product and Industry Marketing, InterSystems

Shaping the Future of Payments

Examines the core trends that are fundamentally transforming global payment systems. Shows how banks will embrace more and more digital payment trends and introduce multiple options for clients to make payments when, where, and how they choose. With Jeremy Balkin, Managing Director, Global Head of FinTech and Innovation, JPMorgan Wholesale Payments

Brand Intimacy & Fintech: Creating Stronger Brands through Emotional Science

Reveals the financial services, technology, and telecom findings of MBLM’s Brand Intimacy COVID Study and also discuss brand intimacy’s positive correlation with financial performance. Demonstrates how to build better connections with customers and the power of brand intimacy: the emotional science behind the bonds we form with the brands we love. With Mario Natarelli, Co-Author, Brand Intimacy, A New Marketing Paradigm

Transparency and trust: How to reach, engage and retain customers post-COVID-19

Explores how large incumbents and fintechs have managed COVID responses, and how a strategy of transparency has benefited companies in increasing consumer trust. Explains who are the winners and losers in the fight for authenticity, and how you can educate your users to enhance reputation and loyalty. With Araminta Robertson, Marketing Consultant, Mint Studios

Photo by Geraldine Tay from Pexels

SumUp Partners with Google Pay to Facilitate Business Payments

Global payments company SumUp announced this week that it is collaborating with Google Pay. The two have partnered to help merchants make business transactions safer and easier using their SumUp card, which was launched in February of last year.

The partnership will enable SumUp’s 125,000 business cardholders in the U.K., France, Italy, and DACH to add their SumUp payment card to their Google Pay mobile wallet. Google Pay will also support virtual cards, which will allow merchants to make purchases from suppliers without having their physical card. It will also allow new cardholders to start using their SumUp card immediately after it is issued, instead of waiting for the card in the mail.

“At SumUp, we’re always looking to help our merchants find new ways to improve their businesses, particularly as we move out of this pandemic and hopefully towards a more economically positive future,” said SumUp VP of Banking Dimitri Gugunava. “Collaborating with Google Pay is a really important development for us, because it means we can remove layers of friction for small businesses who need to make quick (but safe) payments on the go.”

SumUp was founded in 2012 and helps three million merchants accept card payments using a mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) device and a Mastercard-branded small business payment card. The U.K.-based company also offers small business tools including invoice-creation software, inventory management, customer loyalty features, employee time roll, and reporting technology.

The collaboration announcement comes after SumUp pulled in $895 million in debt funding from Goldman Sachs, Temasek, Bain Capital Credit, Crestline, and others. SumUp Co-founder Marc-Alexander Christ said that the cash will help the company grow its customer base and drive the development of new services for its small business clients across the globe.

Coinciding with today’s news, SumUp released a new TV ad today that promotes the company’s mPOS device for small and micro merchants. Check it out below:

Photo by Oli Dale on Unsplash

Roboadvisor Scalable Capital Secures $180 Million in New Funding

In a round led by Tencent, digital wealth management platform Scalable Capital has locked in more than $183 million (€150 million) in Series E funding. The new capital brings the company’s total funding to more than $317 million (€260 million) and gives the Munich, Germany-based firm a valuation of $1.4 billion – making the firm Germany’s, and fintech’s, latest unicorn. Scalable Capital said that the financing will help the company add to its workforce, as well as help support expansion into European markets like France, Italy, and Spain.

“We see huge demand to invest money in the capital markets instead of leaving it in bank accounts,” Scalable Capital co-CEO and co-founder Florian Prucker said. “Our clients can access fully managed globally diversified ETF portfolios and – in the same app – self directed trading in shares, ETFs, crypto currencies, and funds. We also provide a market-leading offering of ETF, stocks, and crypto monthly savings plans. We are planning to launch derivatives trading next.”

Having Tencent as an investor, according to Scalable Capital co-CEO and co-founder Erik Podzuweit, will also help the company improve its appeal to millennial customers who have become increasingly comfortable investing via their smartphones.

A Finovate alum since 2016, Scalable Capital offers banks, insurers, and corporate clients a digital wealth management platform that support automated investing and rebalancing. With customers ranging from ING to Openbank (Santander’s digital bank) to Siemans Financial Services, Scalable Capital provides globally diversified, cost-efficient ETF portfolios that are personalized to the investor’s risk profile.

Scalable Capital currently has more than $5 billion in assets under management. In the wake of this week’s funding, the company plans to add cryptocurrencies to its product portfolio, open a new office in Berlin, and double its workforce this year to 400.

Scalable Capital began the year with a pivot: the company announced in January that it would continue its direct to consumer business in Germany and Austria, but will limit its operations in the U.K. to its B2B business. The cost of customer acquisition was cited as one of the challenges to the company’s retail ambitions in the U.K. and, as such, Scalable Capital decided to focus on expansion and development with its German platform and its B2C and wealth businesses.

Also this year, Scalable Capital announced the appointment of new Chief Strategy Officer Dirk Urmoneit. Urmoneit comes to the company after holding senior positions at index provider Solactive AG and investment banks J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Photo by Jenna Hamra from Pexels

Credit Sesame Scores $51 Million; Completes Zingo Acquisition

On the consumption side of personal finance, managing credit is one of the most important aspects of financial wellness. And for more than a decade, Credit Sesame has been among the more innovative companies in this space. From its origins as a hub for financial planning tools, insights into credit scoring, and advice on smart borrowing, Credit Sesame has grown into a leader in the financial wellness industry with new solutions like its Sesame Cash debit account, which topped one million customers less than a year after emerging from its beta launch.

“With Sesame Cash and features like real-time cash back rewards and rewards for improving their credit score,” Credit Sesame GM and Head of Global Banking Miro Pavletic explained when the solution was introduced last September, “we are helping customers put more money back in their pocket than any other digital banking service. Whether you’re looking to buy groceries or debating where to grab takeout, we can connect you with the brands you love and give you cash back instantly,” Pavletic said.

The $51 million in new funding the company raised this week is a testament both to the journey Credit Sesame has been on since its launch in 2010, as well as the potential the firm has to continue to play a leading role in helping millions of consumers better understand and manage their finances.

“Creating access to better credit and finance is critical for financial prosperity for consumers in our country, and it’s enlightening to see major banks and the federal government also taking action,” Credit Sesame CEO Adrian Nazari said. “The impacts of the past year have only made those needs greater, and through our recent acquisition and fundraising, we are proud to be expanding our platform offerings and leading the charge in opening more doors to financial inclusion and wellness for all.” 

The company sees its current mission as closing the “credit chasm,” which it believes limits economic opportunities for more than 44 million “credit invisible” Americans. Part of this effort includes Credit Sesame’s decision to acquire Zingo, a transaction that was completed recently. A fintech company headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Zingo helps renters improve their credit scores via timely rent payments. With almost 80% of its 15 million members renting, rather than owning, a home, Credit Sesame expects the acquisition to represent a “significant growth opportunity for the company” while enhancing “financial inclusion for its customers.” Credit Sesame anticipates integrating Zingo’s rent reporting technology into its financial wellness platform over the summer.

Looking out over the balance of 2021, Credit Sesame appears to be taking a page from Zingo’s book by launching a new feature that will enable consumers to use their cash to help them improve their credit rating. Requiring no credit check, the new solution will allow Credit Sesame customers to leverage their cash and credit together to help build a strong financial foundation and create a path toward better financial health.

NuBank’s $750 Million Funding Round Proves Digital Challengers Are Still in the Game

Digital banking giant NuBank is about to become even more gigantic. That’s because the Brazil-based pulled in $750 million in Series G funding. When added to the $400 million it raised in January, the funds bring the Series G round to $1.15 billion.

Today’s round was led by Berkshire Hathaway, which contributed $500 million. Additional investors include Sands Capital, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, MSA Capital, Advent’s Sunley House Capital, Brazilian asset managers Verde Asset Management, as well as Absoluto Partners.

With the new investment comes a new valuation. NuBank is now valued at $30 billion, a figure that rivals the valuation of Brazil’s number three bank, Banco Santander Brasil.

NuBank was founded in 2013 to serve the underbanked population across Brazil, a group that adds up to 30% of the country’s population. Today, the digital challenger has 40 million customers and offers a robust range of banking services including a debit card, insurance, loans, small business accounts, and P2P payment tools.

Today’s news comes after the company brought on two C-level hires, Matt Swann as Chief Technology Officer and Arturo Nunez as Chief Marketing Officer.

NuBank will use the funds from today’s investment to fuel further expansion into Mexico and Colombia, launch new products, and hire more employees. While the company has been in Mexico since 2018 and Colombia since last October, NuBank’s banking tools are currently limited to credit cards in both nations.

The massive size of this round and the notoriety of the lead investor offer a hint that digital-only banks are not just a fad limited to 2020. These newcomers have the ability and willingness to serve populations that banks have consistently ignored. Because of this, existing digital banks have increased their customer numbers in the past year, and there has been a massive onslaught of new digital banking players vying for a niche subset of the population.

FinovateAsia Digital 2021 Sneak Peek: Strands

A look at the companies demoing at FinovateAsia Digital on June 22, 2021. Register today and save your spot.

Strands is a fintech software company and part of the CRIF Group, which develops AI-driven solutions for banks to help increase customer engagement and generate new revenue through digital channels.


  • Smarter money management for the retail banking customer
  • Improved bank-user engagement
  • Greater share of wallet for the bank

Why it’s great
Strands PFM allows banks to know how people spend and then helps them do it better. With all their accounts in one place and categorized transactions, customers are more able to plan ahead and budget.


Bavani Meganathan, Technical Presales Consultant
Meganathan is Strands’ Technical Presales Consultant in APAC. She is based in Malaysia.

FinovateAsia Digital 2021 Sneak Peek: Crayon Data

A look at the companies demoing at FinovateAsia Digital on June 22, 2021. Register today and save your spot.

Crayon’s is the world’s first AI-led platform powering the age of relevance. It equips traditional enterprises with the capability to create highly personalized experiences.


  • Boost portfolio spends by 5% to 10%
  • Drive between 15% to 20% spends from inactive segments
  • Deploy Spotify-like personalized storefronts within 10 days

Why it’s great helps personalize at scale while driving every digital engagement metric that matters.


Sunil Varhadkar, VP Sales
Varhadkar is a growth oriented global executive leader with 23 years of experience in B2B and B2C digital platforms across Fin-tech, Ad-tech, Health-tech, and eCommerce.

Rohit Ghosh, Sales Lead
Ghosh is a hardworking, fun, and balanced professional with a thirst for large scale innovation. He is a young leader with a drive to deliver results – better, bigger, and faster.

FinovateAsia Digital 2021 Sneak Peek: QuickFi

A look at the companies demoing at FinovateAsia Digital on June 22, 2021. Register today and save your spot.

QuickFi allows business borrowers to obtain low, fixed rate business equipment term-loans in minutes, instead of days or weeks. The borrower completes the loan process on a mobile device, 24/7/365.


  • Flexible platform integrations for global manufacturers, serving direct, dealer, and ecommerce sales channels
  • Stated, fixed interest rates with no hidden fees
  • 24/7 equipment financing in three minutes

Why it’s great
The QuickFi platform is designed to dramatically improve the business borrower experience by enabling self-service, transparent, digital financing available 24/7/365 with no fees and no hidden costs.


Nathan Gibbons, COO
Gibbons is COO of QuickFi and oversees the platform’s operational strategy, leveraging automation and technology to enable dramatic improvements to the borrower experience.

Jillian Munson, Technology Project Manager
Munson leads core technology projects at QuickFi. She develops seamless user experiences for both internal and external business processes.

Glia and Posh Partner to Bring Digital Member Service to TwinStar Credit Union

Multiple-time Finovate Best of Show winner Glia and Conversational AI specialist Posh Technologies have teamed up to bring new customer engagement options to TwinStar Credit Union.

“The financial institutions that provide customers and members with a strategic blend of human touch and AI will have high retention and acquisition rates,” Glia co-founder and CEO Dan Michaeli said. “By partnering with Glia and Posh, TwinStar offers members a seamless support network where no duplication is required. It’s a faster, better member experience that alleviates the frustrations associated with typical support lines. Easy communication with financial support is a cornerstone to service and long-lasting relationships.” 

Courtesy of this partnership, TwinStar CU will offer a seamless digital chat experience available directly from its website and mobile app that features both automated and live member support. The automated chatbot solution will be able to respond to basic queries regarding branch hours, ATM locations, routing numbers, and similar information. More complex inquiries will be transferred to human contact center agents via Glia’s live chat feature, creating a more efficient experience for both members and support teams.

Member service will not be limited to live chat, either. Once live agents are engaged, members will be able choose the communication channel of their choice – messaging, video banking, or voice – as well as toggle between communication options and take advantage of support tools like co-browsing. The result is “faster and better service to our members in a multitude of ways” according to Scott Daukas, TwinStar Chief Strategy Officer. “We are thrilled to offer this great service to our members,” he said.

Headquartered in Washington State, TwinStar CU serves more than 135,000 members in Washington and Oregon, and manages $1.8 billion in assets. The institution traces its origins back to 1937, when teachers at Olympia High School who were struggling to secure loans on their meager salaries joined together to form the Thurston County Teacher Credit Union. The institution’s first branch, a classroom at the high school made available four days a week, was opened in 1950. The credit union became TwinStar in 2006.

Boston, Massachusetts-based Posh Technologies was spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2018. The company specializes in creating intelligent chatbots and interactive voice response (“conversational IVR”) phonebots and includes financial institutions like the State Department FCU and Finovate alum Mr. Cooper among its customers. Posh has picked up non-equity backing from MassChallenge and FinTech Sandbox.

Most recently winning Best of Show honors at FinovateSpring last month, Glia announced a partnership with credit union service organization, Members Access Processing (MAP) in May, as well. In March, the company announced a collaboration with AI-powered virtual assistant solution provider With more than 200 banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and other financial institutions as its partners, Glia began the year with news that BCU, a $4.2 billion credit union based in Illinois, had selected its Digital Member Service platform to better engage its 294,000 members.

Photo by Dids from Pexels

Meet The Beans: Financial Wellness for the Caring Class

Seeing is believing, goes the old saying. And as far as The Beans is concerned, seeing is key to savings, as well.

At least that’s the thinking behind Atlanta, Georgia-based fintech, The Beans, which leverages Visual Financial Planning in order to power its eponymous, iOS financial planning app.

“The world is rapidly becoming more visual and traditional financial services are too complicated, or so costly that they become inaccessible,” Melissa Pancoast, CEO and founder of The Beans, said. “The Beans is designed to empower all people to make Visual Financial Plans effortlessly, and our growing community in Atlanta is evidence of the widespread need that we are addressing.”

A former math teacher who later became a researcher at the University of Oxford, Pancoast developed Visual Financial Planning as a way for people to create easy-to-follow financial plans that help them manage both their spending and savings – and avoid the high levels of stress that often accompanies financial planning efforts. Features of the app include the ability to create personalized visual financial plans, automated transaction labelling for expense tracking, and real-time support and alerts to inform users of account balances, Safe to Spend amounts, and more. Pancoast has said that she hopes that those working in what she called “the caring class” of teachers, health care workers, and others – people with jobs that often are especially and consistently stressful – will be first among those who take advantage of The Beans’ solution.

The Beans made fintech headlines in recent days on news that the company, which turns four this year, secured its first seed funding last week. The $2 million investment was led by Percursor Ventures and featured participation from Swing Ventures, Relay Ventures, Oxford Angel Fund, and One Planet. The fundraising added to the $1.4 million in pre-seed capital the company has raised over the course of two previous rounds.

In addition to offering an app, The Beans has hosted free financial wellness workshops for more than 30 schools and organizations in the Atlanta area. And organizations like the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the United Nations, have worked to bring the benefits of Visual Financial Planning to millions of families around the world.

“I used The Beans’ recommendations on how to divide up my money and was able to bring my Sheltered expenses (rent, utilities, subscriptions, and savings) down to 60% of my income, including some savings for a big trip I have planned this year,” an Atlanta public school teacher Veronica Karwoski said. “I’m less stressed about everyday expenses and I’m making progress toward the life I want to live.”

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

Ixaris Joins Global Payments Platform Nium

London-based payments optimization company Ixaris has agreed to be acquired by Nium, a global payments platform based in Singapore. Terms of the purchase were not immediately available. The acquisition is expected to be finalized in Q3 of this year.

Founded in 2002 by Alex Mifsud, Ixaris made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall in 2010. In the years since, Ixaris has focused its technology on optimizing payments for the travel sector, offering flexible payment and funding options to help airlines and online travel agents lower fees, earn rebates, and streamline the reconciliation process. Ixaris issued more than 10 million virtual cards in 2019 and, since inception, has processed 24 million transactions for a total payment volume of $7 billion (£5 billion). The issuer of Europe’s first virtual prepaid card in 2003, Ixaris has served more than 200 customers in more than 40 countries to date.

Ixaris Group CEO Mark Anthony Spiteri underscored the importance of – and opportunity in – payment optimization in the travel industry. “As part of the Nium family, we can offer the broadest portfolio of virtual card offerings to travel businesses across the globe,” Spiteri said. “All aspects of our company, from our technologies to our people, perfectly complement Nium and we look forward to increasing our geographic footprint to new regions, including the United States.”

Spiteri took over as CEO of Ixaris in May 2020. He wrote in a blog post at the company’s website that the combination of Ixaris’ virtual card issuance capabilities with Nium’s single API connection to the world’s payment infrastructure will provide “an even broader suite of payment services” for customers of both companies.

To this end, the timing of the acquisition could turn out to be especially auspicious. Spiteri noted that the post-COVID resumption of international travel, a sector he valued at $326 billion (£230 billion), should create major opportunities for his company. “As international travel takes off again in 2021, and the industry ramps up investment in solutions to improve front-end travel experiences and back-end processes,” he said, “we are ready to continue to drive its revolution.”

With more than 130 million customers, Singapore’s Nium is an international B2B payments platform that enables banks, payment providers, travel companies, and other businesses to collect and disburse funds in local currencies in 100+ countries, as well as issue virtual and physical cards globally. A member of the CB Insights Fintech 250, Nium was founded in 2015 by Michael Bermingham and Prajit Nanu.

Photo by TheWonderOfLife from Pexels