Venmo Helps Micro-Businesses Accept Payments For Free (For Now)

https://finovate.com/venmo-helps-micro-businesses-accept-payments-for-free-for-now/

Micro-businesses, such as sole proprietors and gig workers, are an underserved group when it comes to financial management tools.

Seeing this need, and recognizing that more than 75% of small businesses in the U.S. are sole proprietors, Braintree-owned Venmo is releasing a new set of tools to help them connect, market, and grow their business.

“Venmo was designed to be a place where friends and family can send, split and share purchases and experiences. Today, we are introducing a very limited pilot to extend that experience to allow sellers to access the benefits of Venmo’s platform through Business Profiles,” the company announced in a blog post.

Currently in a pilot phase, Business Profiles allow consumers to create a business profile (separate from their personal profile) on Venmo in order to accept payment for goods and services. Business users can also tap into Venmo’s community of 52+ million users to generate interest, referrals, and awareness of their brand.

At launch, Venmo will not charge businesses transaction fees. This is likely because the company recognizes that the micro-businesses it is targeting already use its P2P money transfer service to accept payments for their business. Venmo cautioned that it will eventually charge a per-transaction fee of 1.9% + $0.10, but did not mention when it will begin charging the fees.

Venmo’s Business Profiles launch today to a limited number of iOS users on an invite-only basis and will be available for Android users “in the coming weeks. The company plans to make the new service more widely available “in the coming months.”


Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/venmo-helps-micro-businesses-accept-payments-for-free-for-now/

solarisBank Raises $67 Million; More MENA Fintech; What’s Next for Wirecard

https://finovate.com/solarisbank-raises-67-million-more-mena-fintech-whats-next-for-wirecard/

Berlin, Germany-based “tech company with a banking license” solarisBank has secured $67 million in funding (€60 million). The Series C round was led by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and Storm Ventures, and featured participation from a wide number of investors including BBVA, ABN Amro, SBI Group, Global Brain, Hegus, and Lakestar. Also participating in the oversubscribed round were Vulcan Capital and Samsung Catalyst Fund.

The investment takes the company’s total funding to more than $180 million (€160 million), and will be used to help fuel Solarisbank’s continued expansion throughout Europe. Since 2017, the company has doubled its revenues every year, and grown its product portfolio to include solutions like decoupled debit cards and post-purchase installment products. With more than 400,000 end-customer accounts as of the end of the first half of 2020, the company also announced that it will expand its operations in the cryptocurrency space via its subsidiary solaris Digital Assets.

“solarisBank is continuing its impressive growth and the current financing round will help us to expedite building a pan-European platform,” solarisBank CEO Dr. Roland Folz said in a statement. He added, “We are the leading platform for Banking-as-a-Service in Europe and are excited that this exceptional group of new investors will now be a part of our journey.”


More on MENA Fintech

Last week we reported on a study that highlighted the fintech innovations that were most likely to drive financial inclusion in the MENA region. This week we note another report on fintech in the Middle East and Northern Africa, this time from Deloitte, which noted a growing appetite for fintech solutions from the region’s banking customers.

At the same time, Deloitte Digital’s Middle East FinTech Study, released in June, cautioned that further fintech development in the region faces challenges with regard to financing, and a wariness from traditional banks toward engaging fintechs. The latter issue in particular reflects what the report authors – Rushdi Duqah and Anthony Yazitzis – call “a certain degree of contradiction and dichotomy.”

“Customer behavior across the Middle East, especially in KSA, is characterized by a willingness to adopt innovative solutions offered by banks,” Duqah and Yazitzis observed. The two highlighted P2P money transfers, account aggregation, and roboadvisory as three such areas. “However, banks are not leveraging the full suite of FinTech solutions/features to address customer’s needs and requirements to enhance the daily banking journey and experience,” they wrote.

Read the full report to see how “harmonization and trust” are the path forward for financial services companies, fintechs, and banks in the Middle East and Northern Africa.


What’s Next for Wirecard?

We reported on the crisis facing Germany’s Wirecard two weeks ago in Finovate Global. Company CEO Markus Braun stepped down amid reports that Wirecard could not account for $2.1 billion in cash, and concerns that the company was “the victim of fraud of considerable proportions.”

This week we learned that Braun has been arrested – though since released on bail – and that Deutsche Bank has engaged with the now-bankrupt company and is considering providing financial support. A report in Bloomberg noted that Deutsche Bank had conducted talks with Wirecard last spring (referred to as “preliminary discussions” that were quickly concluded) and that, despite its woes, Wirecard could be a potentially attractive acquisition target thanks to its partnerships with Visa, Mastercard, and JCB International.


Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Billed as “the grand fintech consolidation,” TechCabal takes a look at MFS Africa’s purchase of SME digital payments provider Beyonic.
  • Nigerian fintech Wallets Africa locks in new funding from investors including Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel.
  • The East African makes the case for Kenya as a top destination for venture capital in Africa.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Top banking-as-a-service platform solarisBank raises $67 million (€ 60 million) in Series C funding.
  • Electronic payment network Paysera expands to Kosovo.
  • Azerbaijan’s Xalq Bank launches Compass Plus’ open development platform, TranzAxis.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • Digital property management and rent collection platform Ajar earns UAE’s Most Trusted Fintech in 2020 honors from APAC Business Headlines.
  • UAE’s central bank and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) announce the start of their annual Fintech Abu Dhabi Innovation Challenge for fintechs developing solutions for local small businesses.
  • Dubai’s Mamo Pay earns spot in Visa’s Finech Fast Track Program.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Transfast, a U.S.-based cross-border payments company, partners with Pakistan’s Habib Bank to enable money transfers to Pakistan.
  • Bangalore, India-based fintech Zeta announces expansion into Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • Indian gold lending startup, Rupeek, unveils zero contact gold loan kiosks to support touchless financing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Mexican fintech ePesos announces $21 million debt financing round with Accial Capital.
  • BizCapital, a lending startup based in Brazil, raises $12 million in funding thanks to an investment from Germany development finance institution, DEG.
  • Credit Suisse buys 35% of Brazilian digital bank modalmais.

Asia-Pacific

  • Myanmar Citizens Bank (MCB Bank) issues MPU-JCB co-branded debit cards.
  • Razer’s fintech arm, Razer Fintech launches new initiative to support local businesses in Malaysia during the global health care crisis of COVID-19.
  • KrASIA profiles Indonesian fintech Akulaku, which offers online credit, wealth management, and digital banking services in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

https://finovate.com/solarisbank-raises-67-million-more-mena-fintech-whats-next-for-wirecard/

Three Things We’ve Learned from the Paycheck Protection Program

https://finovate.com/three-things-weve-learned-from-the-paycheck-protection-program/

The U.S. Government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was set to expire yesterday, but the Senate voted to extend the loan program by five weeks, making the new deadline August 8, 2020.

Since it was initiated on April 3, the PPP has helped banks provide billions in working capital to 4.8 million small businesses. The extension offers businesses more time to apply for the $130 billion in unspent funds that remain in the program.

The PPP has had a rocky existence, caused by a muddy application system, confusion from both businesses and banks on the terms surrounding the funds, and the fraudulent (or at least unethical) acquisition of loan money by major corporations. That said, there are a handful of lessons learned we can take away from this experience. Here is a summary of the top three.

Open banking would have made a positive impact

In the height of the coronavirus, many small businesses struggled to find a bank that would lend PPP funds to them. Much of this was due to the fact that banks had difficulty underwriting loans of new clients. With open banking, businesses could opt to share their data with other financial institutions. This availability of data would not only help businesses speed up the application process at the bank of their choice, it would also offer banks access to crucial data regarding businesses’ historical finances.

It is possible for the government to move fast

“Move fast and break things” is typically a mantra of agile startups, and not a slow-moving government. However, given the serious economic threat that the coronavirus-induced stay-at-home orders posed, there was no time for a lengthy revision process and regulatory approvals.

The PPP is part of the CARES act, which includes multiple provisions for unemployment benefits, tax rebates, grants, and more. Early voting on the bill began March 22 and by the morning of March 25, Senate Democrats and Republicans announced they had come to an agreement on the 300-page document. A few hours after the agreement, the President signed the bill into law.

“Like all compromises, this bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage, and because many Democrats and Republicans were willing to do the serious and hard work, the bill is much better off than where it started,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Communication and transparency are king and queen

One of the biggest speed bumps encountered was confusion around the terms of the loans. Businesses not only had difficulty during the application process, many also had trouble in determining if they were eligible for the loans. And even if they were eligible, many businesses still didn’t understand if the funds needed to be repaid and what the stipulations for repayment were.

There is no other loan in America where the applicant is unaware of their responsibility to repay. Because of this confusion (and the legal and regulatory ramifications), in early June President Trump signed a new law relaxing some of the PPP regulations and addressing some of the original flaws.

This mistake is easy to excuse, given the tight deadline to organize and originate the program. However, it doesn’t discount the need for lenders to maintain transparency and ensure borrowers know what is expected when it comes to repayment. It reminds me of a millionaire I once met who, after originating a mortgage on his new home, didn’t understand that he was expected to pay his mortgage every month. He assumed that the bank would automatically deduct the funds from his account each month on his behalf. After 6 months of missed payments, his credit score was trashed.

Since we have yet to conquer the virus and are reeling from low unemployment, we still have a lot to learn. One of these lessons is to take things one day at a time. As we do so, let’s take stock of lessons learned so that we can help each other during this crisis.


Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/three-things-weve-learned-from-the-paycheck-protection-program/

Zeller Raises $4.4 Million to Change the World of Business Banking

https://finovate.com/zeller-raises-4-4-million-to-change-the-world-of-business-banking/

Business banking services provider Zeller launched earlier this year to offer businesses in Australia a new way to bank. Heading up the new company is ex-Square duo Ben Pfisterer and Dominic Yap, which just revealed a round of funding Zeller landed earlier this year.

The investment, which closed before the emergence of the coronavirus, totaled $4.4 million (AU$6.3 million). The seed round was led by Square Peg and saw contributions from Apex Capital Partners.

Taking aim at the lack of alternative business banking services in Australia, Zeller seeks to compete with traditional banks by better serving the small business banking market.

“First and foremost [businesses] need to get paid, then they need somewhere to put that money and then need a way to deploy it, to pay their bills and staff and invest further,” Pfisterer told Business Insider Australia. “What we wanted to do was create a solution that did all three for them on one system.”

Specifically, Zeller is targeting the historically underserved category of mid-market businesses, a group Pfisterer estimates at 1.5 million. While the company hasn’t yet launched its services, once it does it will offer payment acceptance technology, business financial management tools, an instant deposit account, and a fee-free debit card.

“You see neobanks popping up everywhere, but they’re all consumer-focused. There’s no sort of neobank focused on all these other business needs. It’s quite complicated but we think we have something completely unique.” said Pfisterer of the Australian market.

Worldwide, there have been a flood of new consumer-focused challenger banks in the past year. However, we’ve seen rising competition in challenger banks working in the businesses banking arena. Among the new entrants are Arival Bank, which was founded in 2018 and recently unveiled its business bank account. Digital payments company Square also announced plans to launch a small business bank next year.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/zeller-raises-4-4-million-to-change-the-world-of-business-banking/

Stratyfy Earns Spot in FIS Fintech Accelerator Incoming Cohort

https://finovate.com/stratyfy-earns-spot-in-fis-fintech-accelerator-incoming-cohort/

Predictive analytics innovator Stratyfy is one of ten companies selected to participate in the incoming cohort of FIS’ 2020 Fintech Accelerator program.

“The ten companies selected for the fifth year of FIS’ Accelerator program bring a wealth of promising ideas and technologies,” FIS Chief Growth Officer Asif Ramji said. “We look forward to working with these firms to bring their ideas to life.”

Joining Stratyfy in the program are:

  • Cirrus Secure
  • Cobbler Technologies
  • Dasceq
  • Mall IQ
  • Sequretek
  • Silot
  • Surfly
  • TrustStamp
  • XpenseOne

Seven of the companies in the cohort have headquarters in the United States. Of the others, Sequretek is based in Mumbai, India; Silot in Singapore; and Surfly in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. And after four years in operation, the accelerator, in partnership with The Venture Center, will conduct its fifth program virtually due to the challenges of the global public health crisis.

In addition to being entirely virtual, this year’s program will run for 18 weeks instead of the usual 12 weeks to allow for increased mentoring and training time. The program will culminate with a Demo Day technology presentation on October 14th. Participating startups will also receive a monetary investment; the amount was not disclosed.

Executive Director for The Venture Center, Wayne Miller, pointed to the program’s success in empowering startup companies and helping improve access to financial services and technology. “With our partners at FIS and the State of Arkansas, we’re honored to be a part of bringing cutting-edge technologies to the places and people who need them, particularly in this moment of monumental technological advancement,” Miller said.

The news comes in the wake of Strayfy’s announcement of a new strategic partnership with Innovesta Technologies. The two companies are collaborating on a machine learning solution that will help businesses better measure the risk of and opportunity in non-public companies. The partnership combines Stratyfy’s decision engine and advanced machine learning technology with Innovesta’s comprehensive data assets to deliver real-time insights into the forces that impact business performance.

“Models built from historical data offer little help during an unprecedented health and economic crisis like the current global pandemic,” Stratyfy co-founder and CEO Laura Kornhauser said when the partnership was announced in May. “Achieving an inclusive global financial recovery requires robust risk management strategies, and those strategies necessitate an understanding of the unique challenges being faced by every business. Stratyfy’s decision management solutions will leverage Innovesta’s trustworthy data to directly address this need.”

Founded in 2016, Stratyfy is headquartered in New York City. The company was named one of the world’s 100 most promising startups to watch last year by CNBC.

https://finovate.com/stratyfy-earns-spot-in-fis-fintech-accelerator-incoming-cohort/

Aire Launches Pulse to Help Underwriters During COVID-19

https://finovate.com/aire-launches-pulse-to-help-underwriters-during-covid-19/

There are two words that help summarize 2020: unpredictability and volatility. It turns out that both of these attributes are bad for a lot of things and that’s especially true for underwriting consumer loans.

Recognizing this issue, U.K.-based credit assessment services company Aire launched Pulse, a product to help lenders calculate risk in the post-COVID borrowing landscape.

“Lenders have always played catch up when understanding how existing customers perform on commitments elsewhere, and this challenge is exacerbated by the major CRAs’ Emergency Payment Freeze,” said Aire CEO and Founder Aneesh Varma. “In a rapidly changing economic situation, lenders need new tools that can understand the context of the consumer to help them detect emerging risks. Pulse is a quick, convenient and FCA-regulated way for lenders to spot financial change as it happens, providing lenders with a truly holistic view, gathered from the most up-to-date data source available to them: the consumer themselves.”

At its core, Pulse is a scalable communications tool. It enables lenders to collect current information from customers about their changing financial circumstances while maintaining fair and FCA-compliant account handling. The tool enables lenders to reach out to their existing borrowers via SMS and email to conduct an Interactive Virtual Interview (IVI) to gather information regarding disposable income levels and risk of financial difficulty.

It takes consumers an average of three-to-five minutes to complete the IVI, which asks for information such as employment status, current working hours, income level, household bills and expenses, and levels of savings. In order to ensure the information is correct, Aire cross-checks it against its own database of consumer information. After the assessment, Aire sends the lender insight into the consumer’s financial difficulty, affordability, and engagement.

Because of its proactive approach, Pulse offers lenders information about a consumer’s changing financial situation much faster than the traditional method of waiting for historical information from CRAs who identify changes in customer circumstances.

The underwriting and credit scoring space has always been an area of disruption for fintechs. Given that the new reality across the globe has multiple impacts on the economy and unemployment, we can expect to see more existing companies adapt their services to not only help underwriters understand and assess risk but also help consumers access cashflow when they really need it.

Aire was founded in 2014 and has since raised $24 million. Aneesh Varma is CEO.


Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/aire-launches-pulse-to-help-underwriters-during-covid-19/

Banking with Crypto: Where Will It Go Next?

https://finovate.com/banking-with-crypto-where-will-it-go-next/

This is a guest post written by Shannon Flynn, managing editor at ReHack.com.

Amid the market instability caused by COVID-19, a major shift seems to be taking place in the crypto industry.

After years of false starts and criticism from the banking sector and traditional financial institutions, new partnerships and legislation seem to suggest the industry may be on the verge of a large-scale crypto service adoption.

Here’s the current state of the crypto market, and how financial institutions are beginning to offer it in earnest.

The Current Health of the Crypto Market

Like other asset classes, crypto wasn’t immune to the crash caused by the coronavirus. In mid-March, as assets of all categories fell — even those typically more secure against market shocks, like gold — so too did major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Prices for both dropped sharply, with Bitcoin’s market value nearly halved.

Crypto, however, was remarkably quick to bounce back, with prices recovering to near pre-coronavirus levels over the next two months. So far, crypto seems to have come out as one of the better-performing asset classes, recovering much faster than others.The disruption caused by COVID-19 seems to have been small enough that banks and major financial institutions are continuing with plans to offer crypto services.

JPMorgan Announces Partnership With Crypto Exchanges

One of the biggest announcements of the past few months has been the partnership between JPMorgan Chase and crypto exchanges Gemini and Coinbase. In May, the bank announced it would accept the exchanges as banking customers — making them their first clients from the cryptocurrency industry.

Coinbase is the largest U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange. Gemini is less prominent but is notable in its moves to secure support from major institutions outside of crypto.

The partnership is big news for American cryptocurrency traders and firms, especially in light of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s previous comments on bitcoin. In 2017, Dimon famously bashed the currency as a “fraud” and said he expected that global governments would take action against crypto.The partnership isn’t JPMorgan’s first foray into digital currency, though. In 2019, the bank introduced its own version, JPM Coin. Each coin represented one dollar stored in the bank and could be used to more quickly settle transactions between members.

While the move isn’t JPMorgan’s first experiment with digital currency, it is a sign that traditional financial institutions may be getting more comfortable with the idea of trading in crypto. Large banks have traditionally been fierce critics of cryptocurrency.

Concerns about the inefficiency of blockchain and the potential environmental impact of bitcoin may be enough to dissuade broader adoption. After all, bitcoin miners use up the same amount of energy as 6.8 million average U.S. households.

However, investors seem like they are becoming more interested in crypto. According to the Wall Street Journal, “average daily trading volume this year of CME’s bitcoin futures contract has risen 43%” compared to last year. Other crypto vehicles, like Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, have also seen similar upticks in trading volume.

Even if traditional financial institutions shy away from full crypto adoption, cryptocurrency banks in the U.S. may still become a possibility over the next few years. In June, Former Wall Street trader Caitlin Long secured $5 million in funding for a cryptocurrency bank, Avanti. That gave the institution enough cash to follow through on filing for a charter with the Wyoming Division of Banking. The bank currently plans to open for business in 2021.

Banks Around the World Consider Crypto Service

The trend toward cryptocurrency banking isn’t limited to the U.S. In Germany, more than 40 financial institutions declared their intent to offer crypto services under new legislation. Two of Switzerland’s largest banks have also launched digital asset-based transaction services.

Earlier this year, India’s Supreme Court overturned a Central Bank ruling that prohibited banks from providing services to traders and firms dealing in cryptocurrencies. While it had signaled it would challenge the decision, it instead issued formal guidance giving commercial banks in India the green light on providing banking services.

Following the court’s decision, CoinDCX — India’s largest crypto exchange, which received a major investment from Coinbase in early June — integrated bank account transfers. This allows customers to purchase and trade cryptocurrency using their bank accounts.

However, as in America, trust remains a significant barrier. Even with the prohibition on services for crypto traders lifted, few Indian banks have moved to seriously integrate crypto offerings.

The Future of Cryptocurrency Banks

Despite the major instability caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the cryptocurrency market has managed an impressive rebound and emerged as one of the best-performing asset classes so far.

At the same time, major institutions — including JPMorgan and several European banks — are moving ahead with new plans to offer crypto- and digital asset-based transactions. There’s reason to believe that banks may soon provide financial vehicles that make it easier for investors to purchase and trade bitcoin. It’s hard to know what the future of crypto banking will look like right now. For the moment, it’s all good news in spite of current market disruptions.

Shannon Flynn is a technology and culture writer with two+ years of experience writing about consumer trends and tech news.

https://finovate.com/banking-with-crypto-where-will-it-go-next/

The Finovate Fintech Halftime Review eMagazine

https://finovate.com/the-finovate-fintech-halftime-review-emagazine/

What a week it was for the first Finovate Fintech Halftime Review; we heard from experts across the fintech spectrum, covering LendingTech, PayTech, FraudTech, BankingTech and WealthTech.

Missed some of the live sessions? Want to dig a little deeper and get the Finovate Analyst view of the first half of 2020? Well look no further, as the Finovate Fintech Halftime Review eMagazine brings all the content from the week together in one place.

Download it now and have all the latest insights at your fingertips.

https://finovate.com/the-finovate-fintech-halftime-review-emagazine/

More Than $975 Million Raised by 15 Alums in Q2 2020

https://finovate.com/more-than-975-million-raised-by-15-alums-in-q2-2020/

Finovate alums raised more than $975 million in equity funding in the second quarter of 2020. The sum represents investments received by 15 companies that have demonstrated their technologies at our conferences, and includes three fundings in which the amount of the investment was not disclosed.

This year’s total is a retreat from the past two years’ totals, both in terms of amount raised and the number of alums reporting equity funding. In some respects, Q2 2020’s fundraising total “fills the gap” from the big jump in funding from Q2 2017 to Q2 2018.

Previous Quarterly Comparisons

  • Q2 2019: More than $1.8 billion raised by 29 alums
  • Q2 2018: More than $1.5 billion raised by 25 alums
  • Q2 2017: More than $726 million raised by 25 alums
  • Q2 2016: More than $510 million raised by 23 alums

While total investment for Q2 2020 was lower than it was in the previous year’s Q2s, it is notable that seven of the top ten fundings were investments between $150 million and $100 million. In many instances, one sizable investment will be responsible for a significant amount of a quarter’s investment total. Consider the boost Sofi’s $500 million funding provided in Q2 2019. The large sum sent that quarter’s total soaring to a new record Q2 high. By comparison, this year’s high number of low, nine-figure fundings comes across as a welcome shift in the distribution of VC wealth.

Top Ten Equity Investments for Q2 2020

  • EVO Payments: $150 million
  • Marqeta: $150 million
  • BioCatch: $145 million
  • AvidXchange: $128 million
  • Stash: $112 million
  • Onfido: $100 million
  • Payfone: $100 million
  • Featurespace: $37.4 million
  • M1 Finance: $33 million
  • Meniga: $9.4 million

It must be noted that, while venture capital investment has slowed somewhat in response to the COVID-19 crisis, merger and acquisition activity has been robust, relatively speaking. Among our alums alone, Q2 saw two major fintech acquisitions: Mastercard’s purchase of Finicity – valued as high as 1 $billion – and Personal Capital’s just-announced $825 million acquisition by Empower Retirement.

Here is our detailed alum funding report for Q2 2020.

April 2020: More than $638 million raised by six alums

May 2020: More than $187 million raised by three alums

June 2020: More than $150 million raised by six alums


If you are a Finovate alum that raised money in the second quarter of 2020, and do not see your company listed, please drop us a note at research@finovate.com. We would love to share the good news! Funding received prior to becoming an alum not included.


Photo by Reynaldo #brigworkz Brigantty from Pexels

https://finovate.com/more-than-975-million-raised-by-15-alums-in-q2-2020/

Minna Technologies to Power Subscription Management Service for ING

https://finovate.com/minna-technologies-to-power-subscription-management-service-for-ing/

Banking customers at ING Belgium will soon have help managing their recurring expenses. That’s because Minna Technologies has partnered with the bank to launch a new subscription management service.

Under the agreement, ING Belgium’s 1.8 million digital banking customers will be able to manage their subscriptions without leaving the digital banking channel. Minna’s solution helps users view all of their recurring subscriptions in a single place, allows them to cancel existing subscriptions, and shows them potential alternatives to some of their subscriptions.

“This is a clear example of impactful Fintech partnerships that we aim to scale within ING,” said Global Head of ING Labs & Fintechs, Olivier Guillaumond. “It will offer a differentiating experience to our customers allowing them to have a better insight into their subscriptions and save millions of euros via cancellation and fully automated switching services.”

The integration is the result of Minna Technologies’ participation in last year’s ING Labs Brussels program. During the program, the two companies completed a proof-of-concept that demonstrated the value of subscription management for users in the Benelux region.

“ING Labs Brussels is a special purpose vehicle concentrating on validating proof of concepts with mature fintechs to bring maximum value for our clients so they can stay a step ahead in their lives,” said Guillaumond, adding that it has “the potential to expand to other countries.”

Minna was founded in 2016 and has since helped users save more than $45 million with its subscription management solutions. The Sweden-based company, which has raised $6.2 million, recently demoed at FinovateEurope 2019. ING Brussels joins SpareBank1, Visa, Swedbank, and Danske Bank as clients.


Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/minna-technologies-to-power-subscription-management-service-for-ing/

ID.me Secures $8.3 Million in New Funding

https://finovate.com/id-me-secures-8-3-million-in-new-funding/

McLean, Virginia-based digital identity network ID.me has boosted its total equity capital to more than $39 million after locking in an investment of $8.3 million this week. The new funding comes from a $12.5 million equity offering from the company, which featured the participation of 32 different investors.

ID.me has not provided any commentary on the investment, nor disclosed plans for how it will use the additional capital. The company’s previous fundraising was a $19 million Series B round in March 2017, according to Crunchbase.

The global public health crisis has put a spotlight on digital identity companies like ID.me. In March, the company announced the launch of a real-time collaboration workspace on messaging platform, Slack, to help health care providers share information about the coronavirus. In April, ID.me teamed up with DrFirst to make it easier for health care workers to verify their identities when using DrFirst’s mobile e-prescribing app, iPrescribe.

And in May, ID.me partnered with Shoes.com, enabling the company to accurately verify frontline healthcare workers as part of its program to provide them with discounts on footwear.

“As the U.S. enters its third month battling COVID-19, first responders and healthcare workers continue to soldier tremendous burdens and personal risks as they fight day-to-day on the frontlines of the pandemic,” ID.me founder and CEO Blake Hall said. “We are honored to play a role in the Step Up program and proudly support Shoes.com’s efforts to recognize these national heroes.”

A Finovate alum since 2014, ID.me most recently demonstrated its identity verification gateway at FinovateSpring in 2017. The company’s identity verification services – ranging from multi-factor authentication, document verification, and compliance monitoring, in addition to its identity gateway – are used by a wide variety of well-known organizations and institutions including USAA, NASA, Under Armor, and the United States Department of Treasury.

ID.me notes that it onboards 60,000 new users a day and has a total of 24 million users of its technology. Earlier this month, the company announced another partnership, this time working with LensDirect as part of their We See You, Heroes initiative to provide frontline health care workers and first responders with discounts on vision care products.


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

https://finovate.com/id-me-secures-8-3-million-in-new-funding/

Kids Love Cash: Insights from the COVID-19 Crisis

https://finovate.com/kids-love-cash-insights-from-the-covid-19-crisis/

If digital transformation is sweeping financial services – and this trend has been accelerated by the global public health crisis, as we are often told – then what’s up with the huge and enduring demand for cash?

“I certainly would have expected, if you’d asked me prior to COVID: would COVID put a big dent in cash? I would have said “absolutely” because not only are people not going out, it has a dirty connotation to it,” Fiserv Senior Vice President David Keenan said during the Q&A portion of his recent webinar presentation, Looking Under the Hood of Today’s Payments Ecosystem.

“And yet if you look at the data,” he added, “that’s not what’s happening.”

This was one of many fascinating takeaways from Keenan’s research on payment trends in the COVID-19 era. That research was presented this week in a webinar that also looked at the rise of digital enablement in financial services and the inevitable transition to real-time payments. Keenan’s presentation is now available for viewing on an on-demand basis.

Toward the end of his discussion, which explained how and why companies need to be able to provide “the right options at the right time to create a winning payment experience,” we asked the Fiserv SVP why he began his presentation, which featured insights on digital enablement and real-time payments, with a discussion on the importance and endurance of cash.

Keenan said the decision to start with cash was deliberate – and given the program’s theme of “safe, fast, convenient payments” it is perhaps easy to understand why. For all of cash’s drawbacks – including the fact that paper money increasingly is seen as “dirty” in an ever-more touchless world – Keenan showed research from the Federal Reserve indicating that cash remains a preferred payment method in the U.S. – only trailing debit. Moreover, for about 85% of those surveyed, cash usage over the past 12 months had remained the same, or increased.

But perhaps most interestingly, this data also revealed that cash’s most passionate champions are under the age of 25. And this preference for paper money does not take away from GenZ’s appreciation of debit, which is on par with 25-to-34 year old, 35-to-44 year old, and 45-to-54 year old cohorts. Nor was credit usage impacted by GenZ’s preference for cash; GenZ credit usage was comparable with both 25-to-34 year old and 35-to-44 year old age groups. The main difference between GenZ and other cohorts was in the use of electronic payments, where its usage was typically half that of other groups surveyed.

A further note on the enduring preference for cash: while cash usage patterns have returned to trend after a brief, coronavirus-induced drop in March, the amounts of cash being used – which began increasing in March – have remained elevated.

Keenan speculated that what might blunt these accelerating cash trends could be a major response to the coronavirus – such as a vaccine. He said, “as long as we’re living in this one-step-at-a-time, back-to-the-new-normal, we believe cash is going to be an important part (of payments).”


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

https://finovate.com/kids-love-cash-insights-from-the-covid-19-crisis/

India-Based Slice Raises $6 Million for Digital Payments

https://finovate.com/india-based-slice-raises-6-million-for-digital-payments/

Slice (fka SlicePay), a millennial-focused challenger bank headquartered in India, raised $6 million in a pre-Series B financing round. The investment brings the company’s total funding to $27.7 million in combined debt and equity.

Gunosy led the round. Also participating were EMVC, Kunal Shah, Better Capital, as well as existing investor Das Capital.

According to Slice Co-founder and CEO Rajan Bajaj, the company will use the funds to acquire new users. In fact, Slice hopes to add 500,000 new customers within the next year. This is double the company’s existing active user base of 250,000.

Slice will also use the new $6 million to increase its workforce and explore banking partnerships to release co-branded cards.

Unique to Slice is its underwriting model, which is a key element in a country where customers are burdened with limited or no credit files. To help users build their credit, Slice offers a card that comes with a pre-approved credit line that offers installment loans, enabling users to buy now and pay later.

Slice is one of only a handful of challenger banks in India. Others in the subsector, including PayTM, Google Pay, and Walmart’s PhonePe, are all very large players. However, Slice seems to be fairing well. The company has been profitable since last year. And the simple fact that it raised funds in today’s economic environment where VCs are reluctant to invest speaks volumes of its potential.

“We believe Slice has a sustainable advantage as it has decoded young credit users’ demands and has built a deep understanding of credit risk and low-cost distribution using technology,” said Gunosy Director Yuki Maniwa.


Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/india-based-slice-raises-6-million-for-digital-payments/

Mastering Digital Collaboration in the Financial Industry

https://finovate.com/mastering-digital-collaboration-in-the-financial-industry/

Financial organizations are managing mass amounts of information on a daily basis. 

Whether it’s a loan application, credit approval, or new customer records, sharing documents securely is key for effective task completion and departmental collaboration. 

With a variety of document formats needed for each of these tasks, professionals must often switch from application to application to complete processes. Standard processes are often outdated and inefficient. 

Discover how financial organizations can streamline their workflows and collaborate more effectively within their current applications.

Read the Accusoft infographic to learn more.

https://finovate.com/mastering-digital-collaboration-in-the-financial-industry/

Sallie Krawcheck’s Ellevest Launches Debit Card & Banking Services

https://finovate.com/sallie-krawchecks-ellevest-launches-debit-card-banking-services/

Women-focused wealthtech firm Ellevest unveiled its newest offering today. The company, which was founded by former Merrill Lynch CEO and former Citigroup CFO Sallie Krawcheck, has expanded its online investing platform to launch banking services.

“At Ellevest, our mission is to get more money in the hands of women+ — because we know that everyone deserves the opportunity to build wealth, and that nothing bad happens when women have more money,” the company announced in a blog post. “Today, we’re launching the first-of-its-kind money membership designed to get more money in the hands of women+.”

The new banking services are available with an Ellevest membership, which ranges from $1 per month for the Essential plan to $5 per month for the Plus plan, and $9 per month for the Executive plan. All membership options include banking services, investing opportunities, and educational resources. Other services include personalized retirement recommendations and multi-goal investment accounts.

Ellevest’s fashion-forward debit card

Members can access two accounts– one for spending and one for saving. The checking account comes with a World Debit Mastercard connected to an FDIC-insured account. The accounts boast no hidden fees, no minimum balance requirements, no transfer fees, no overdraft fees, and ATM fee reimbursements.

In the competitive world of challenger banks, none of these features stand out. However, Ellevest has created a bit of a cult following with its women-focused approach and content generation. The company has 180,000 followers on Instagram, which is 10x the number of followers that BBVA-owned Simple has, and more than Revolut, Monzo, and N26.

Ellevest’s gender-filtered approach further differentiates it when it comes to investing. The company’s personalized investment portfolio “includes a gender-aware investment algorithm that factors in important realities like pay gaps, career breaks, and average lifespans.”

Today’s announcement isn’t the first time a wealthtech platform has broadened its offerings to become a challenger bank. Betterment, Wealthfront, SoFi, M1 Finance, and Personal Capital all offer online-only checking accounts.

Ellevest was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in New York. The company has raised $77.6 million.

https://finovate.com/sallie-krawchecks-ellevest-launches-debit-card-banking-services/

MyLife’s Jeff Tinsley on Creating a “Reputation Score” and the Future of Personal Data

https://finovate.com/mylifes-jeff-tinsley-on-creating-a-reputation-score-and-the-future-of-personal-data/

It’s the FraudTech day of the Finovate Fintech Halftime Review, and we welcome Jeff Tinsley, CEO of MyLife to talk fraud management and prevention and how MyLife can be used by financial institutions to educate and add value for their consumers.

David Penn, our own Finovate Analyst, asks what sort of things go into creating a Reputation Score, and how MyLife protects people from fraud?

Watch the full interview.

Find out more about MyLife and get in touch with Tim (timp@mylife-inc.com) for any questions or partnership inquiries.

https://finovate.com/mylifes-jeff-tinsley-on-creating-a-reputation-score-and-the-future-of-personal-data/

nCino Readies for IPO

https://finovate.com/ncino-readies-for-ipo/

Cloud banking specialist nCino is the latest fintech to announce its intention to go public.

In a brief statement shared on Monday, the Wilmington, North Carolina-based company reported that it had publicly filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for their proposed initial public offering. nCino made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2017.

The company’s announcement did not disclose the number of shares to be offered, nor the price range of the offering. Renaissance Capital reported that nCino is seeking to raise $100 million. The company expects to trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker “NCNO.”

Underwriting the IPO are Bank of America Securities, Barclays, KeyBanc Capital Markets, and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

nCino’s Bank Operating System, built on the Salesforce platform, provides financial institutions of all sizes with an end-to-end banking solution that enables them to deliver the kind of digital experience banking customers have come to expect. The platform combines customer relationship management, loan origination, workflow, enterprise content management, as well as business intelligence and reporting, all in a single, secure, cloud-based environment. On average, financial institutions using nCino’s Bank Operating System have enjoyed a 40% decrease in loan closing time, a 92% reduction in servicing costs, and a 127% increase in account opening completion rates.

Founded in 2012, nCino has raised more than $213 million in funding. The company reported revenue growth of almost 50%, reaching $44.7 million, for the quarter ending in April. nCino also reported revenue of $138.2 million in its most recent fiscal year, ending in January. This year, the company has forged partnerships with Alterna Bank, a subsidiary of Alterna Savings and Credit Union Limited, and with Swedish SME lender Yourban. Additional partnerships announced in the first half of the year include collaborations with Fulton Bank and Black Hills FCU. Pierre Naudé is President and Chief Executive Officer.

https://finovate.com/ncino-readies-for-ipo/

From COVID-19 to Inclusion: Fintech Faces New Challenges

https://finovate.com/from-covid-19-to-inclusion-fintech-faces-new-challenges/

In the middle of the first month of the year, one of the biggest names in the payments business acquired one of the most innovative fintech infrastructure companies in the industry, in a deal valued at more than $5 billion.

Six months later, Visa’s acquisition of Plaid almost seems like news from another time.

The arrival of the coronavirus to virtually every corner of the globe – and the worldwide response to the killing of a black man in police custody in the U.S. – have sent shock waves through the fintech industry – as they have the rest of the world. Now, at the same time, fintech is engaged in both the struggle to help businesses and consumers cope with the closures and shelter-in-place restrictions of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the challenge of correcting decades of discriminatory practices against African Americans and members of other underrepresented ethnic groups. As we approach the middle of 2020, fintech is facing different kind of crisis that, while not of its own making, will require a response that is uniquely tailored to the world it operates in.

This is a world that is both heavily technical, relying on the latest innovations in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and distributed ledger technology, while simultaneously pledging to bring the benefits of 21st century financial services to the underbanked and underserved populations of both post-industrial and developing economies. This is a world that has grown tremendously through the contributions of people from diverse backgrounds, representing cultures from almost every corner of the globe. Yet, at the same time, it is a world that is still struggling to achieve true gender and ethnic diversity, particularly in the C-suite and in the boardroom.

There are many ways to value an industry: the quality of the goods it produces; the entertainment, education, or simple well-being its services provide; even just the degree of pure, gee-whiz innovation the industry may deliver, often seeming to grant us what we want even before we summon up the nerve to wish for it.

But as the fintech industry edges closer, inexorably, toward maturity, it now finds itself increasingly judged on the kind of criteria Corporate America – often to its own surprise and bewilderment – can find itself judged on from time to time. This is a judgement that has less to do with what Corporate America makes and sells, and more with who Corporate America is and what it values.

Both the global public health crisis and the renewed determination to fight racial inequality are providing fintech as an industry with an opportunity to show the world just what it’s made of. As we move into the second half of this historic year, I am hopeful and optimistic that fintech will rise to the challenge.


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

https://finovate.com/from-covid-19-to-inclusion-fintech-faces-new-challenges/

Payfone Raises $100 Million to Fight Fraud with Phone Intelligence

https://finovate.com/payfone-raises-100-million-to-fight-fraud-with-phone-intelligence/

Identity verification and authentication company Payfone – which made its debut on the Finovate stage more than a decade ago – has announced a major fundraising of $100 million. The Series H investment, led by funds advised by Apax Digital (the growth equity division of Apax Partners), takes the company’s total funding to more than $217 million, according to Crunchbase. Although no valuation information was provided in last week’s announcement, TechCrunch noted that Payfone had earned a previous valuation of $270 million with its previous fundraising in April 2019.

Payfone’s customer identity platform helps financial institutions identify a range of potentially fraudulent activities – from the presence of a burner phone or a synthetic identity to spoofed calls and real-time SIM swap fraud. The company’s authentication solutions use proprietary “phone intelligence,” which processes behavioral signals in real-time to measure a phone number’s reputation and risk. This gives the authenticating party a Trust Score that helps them separate potentially suspicious activity from legitimate transactions. In addition, Payfone provides call verification solutions that run in the background of the phone call, making it easier and faster to resolve any authentication issues that arise.

“The mobile phone is rapidly becoming the secure passport for navigating our digital lives,” Payfone CEO Rodger Desai said. “With one in three U.S. consumers already authenticated by Payfone, this investment accelerates our ability to set the standard for the authentication process. As we build out a cross-industry consortium, more enterprises will be able to access Payfone’s real-time fraud and risk signals to prevent account takeovers while passing more transactions.”

In addition to helping the company build the forementioned industry-spanning consortium, the additional capital will be used to acquire strategic assets, and bolster the machine learning capabilities of its digital identity and authentication technology.

Also participating in the Series H round were new investors Sandbox Insurtech Ventures, and individual investor Ralph de la Vega, former Vice Chairman at AT&T. Existing Payfone investors MassMutual Ventures, Synchrony, Blue Venture Fund, Wellington Management LLP, as well as individual investor Andrew Prozes, former CEO of LexisNexis, were also involved in the fundraising.

Headquartered in New York City and founded in 2008, Payfone launched in the U.K. this spring with its Mobile Authentication product. The solution gives financial institutions in the U.K. a secure and easy-to-use alternative to one-time, SMS-based passwords for activities like customer onboarding, login, and two-factor authentication.

Payfone VP Keiron Dalton explained that while one-time passwords (OTP) have a role to play in the authentication process, they often fall short of what is required in the financial services industry. “(The) market demands placed on financial institutions in the U.K. are particularly acute,” Dalton said, “leading to a clamor of activity as these institutions search for what’s next in terms of authentication.” He called Mobile Authentication a “game-changing experience” for customers that provided a superior level of security against fraud, and added that the solution has seen “huge success in the U.S.”

Named one of the fastest growing companies on Deloitte’s 2019 Technology Fast 500 last fall, Payfone earned similar commendations this year from the Financial Times. The U.K.-based publication featured the company in the top 500 of its inaugural, The Americas’ Fastest Growing Companies 2020 roster.


Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels

https://finovate.com/payfone-raises-100-million-to-fight-fraud-with-phone-intelligence/

ITSCREDIT’s João Lima Pinto on the Genie Advisor App and a New Direction for 2020

https://finovate.com/itscredits-joao-lima-pinto-on-the-genie-advisor-app-and-a-new-direction-for-2020/

As part of our Finovate FinTech Halftime Review, Finovate Analyst David Penn sat down with João Lima Pinto, Chairman of ITSCREDIT. With nearly 20 years of solid experience in the financial sector, actively participating in the design and implementation of innovative omnichannel and credit solutions, Pinto has garnered much success by leading a variety of business development, product and project management, business analysis, and product operations functions.

Among the topics discussed include ITSCREDIT’S Genie Advisor app, how the company has seen the COVID-19 crisis impact its customer base, and its plan to address the challenges and move forward in 2020.

Watch the full interview now.

https://finovate.com/itscredits-joao-lima-pinto-on-the-genie-advisor-app-and-a-new-direction-for-2020/