A Passionate Mindset and Superior Execution: A Conversation with BM Technologies’ Luvleen Sidhu

https://finovate.com/a-passionate-mindset-and-superior-execution-a-conversation-with-bm-technologies-luvleen-sidhu/

Is there a better person to lead a conversation about bold leadership in fintech than Luvleen Sidhu? Chair, founder, and CEO of BM Technologies, Sidhu was the youngest female founder and CEO to take a company public when her firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange at the beginning of the year.

“I am proud to see BM Technologies take this historic step and enter the public markets,” Sidhu said in January. “We are delighted to be one of the first neo banking fintechs to go public. We are also EBITDA positive today, which serves to set us apart from other neo banking fintechs in the market.”

Formerly known as BankMobile, BM Technologies currently has more than two million account holders, and provides disbursement services at 700+ college campuses in the U.S., reaching one out of every three students in the country. The BaaS innovator was among the fintechs to earn recognition at the recently announced Finovate Awards, taking home top honors in the Best Fintech Partnership category for its collaboration with T-Mobile.

Beyond the Arc’s Steven Ramirez hosted a fireside chat with Luvleen Sidhu as part of the FinovateFall conference in New York last week. Below are a few excerpts from their conversation.

On what it takes to be a bold leader today

For me, being a bold leader really comes down to a few key things that, in my opinion, a bold leader would demonstrate. So that is being able to have a compelling and unique and unifying vision and purpose. (It is) being able to get people to buy into that, to be energized by that, committed to that. (It is also) being able to have superior execution, because you can have a great idea and be in the clouds, but unless you are working on improving, iterating, and being agile and adaptive to the times, you’re not going to succeed.


On the inspiration behind her company’s “bold bet” in 2016

We launched in 2015 as a direct-to-consumer strategy – like the Chimes, the Varos, the N26s of the world are doing now. We found out pretty early on that our pillar of being able to have a profitable, sustainable model as fast as possible wasn’t happening. The CAC was really high. We weren’t getting the sort of engagement and direct deposit customers which are critical in banking to actually get. So we took a bold bet in 2016 where we took a B2B2C approach and started implementing banking as a service, which is our strategy today.


On practicing bold leadership on an individual level

I think it’s contagious. When you’re bringing that innovative sort of passionate mindset and energy to work, then you engender that with everyone that you work with. It creates this ripple effect and you get others to buy in and work with you and you create a lot of tremendous momentum from that. I think it’s (important to) remain keen to continuous learning. This space is moving so fast. We can’t rest on our laurels for more than six months (before) you’ve got to innovate again. And so it’s people that make sure that they’re looking at what their customers are saying – and responding to that – but also looking at the competitive environment, how is it changing, how is it evolving … (That’s) how you remain competitive in the space.

Check out the rest of Luvleen Sidhu’s Fireside Chat: Why We Need Bold Leadership More Than Ever Before from FinovateFall 2021.

https://finovate.com/a-passionate-mindset-and-superior-execution-a-conversation-with-bm-technologies-luvleen-sidhu/

Here’s What’s Inside PayPal’s Super App

https://finovate.com/heres-whats-inside-paypals-super-app/

Fintech pioneer PayPal is rolling out a new mobile app today.

The company is adding a handful of features that bring it into “super app” territory, competing with the likes of WeChat, Alipay, and Paytm. PayPal’s app already offers a peer-to-peer payment tool, a mobile wallet, and a charity donation feature.

The new release, however, will offer more features and new banking capabilities. Here’s a rundown of what to expect:

  • PayPal Savings, a new, high-yield savings account provided in partnership with Synchrony Bank that pays 0.40% APY
  • In-app shopping tools that allow customers to discover and earn loyalty rewards
  • Billpay management tools that help users track, view, and pay their bills
  • A new Direct Deposit feature that fronts users their paycheck up to two days early
  • Rewards capabilities
  • Gift card management
  • Credit access
  • Buy Now, Pay Later services
  • Crypto purchasing, holding, and selling abilities

The app will show users a personalized dashboard of their account; a wallet tab to manage payments and direct deposits; a finance tab to access savings and crypto accounts; a payments tab that enables users to send and receive money, make a donation, and manage billpay; and a messaging feature built around peer-to-peer payments.

“We’re excited to introduce the first version of the new PayPal app, a one-stop destination for our customers to take charge of their everyday financial lives, with new features like access to high yield savings, in-app shopping tools for customers to find deals and earn cash back rewards, early access Direct Deposit, and bill pay,” said PayPal CEO Dan Schulman. “Our new app offers customers a simplified, secure and personalized experience that builds on our platform of trust and security and removes the complexity of having to manage multiple financial or shopping apps, remember different passwords and track loyalty rewards.”

What’s next for PayPal’s Super App? The company will add investment tools, offline QR code payments, and new shopping and deals capabilities.

PayPal is currently the closest thing the U.S. has to a super app. However, the new app is still missing some key elements that Asia’s successful super apps have, including food delivery, transportation, travel, health, insurance, government, and public services.

https://finovate.com/heres-whats-inside-paypals-super-app/

Canadian Fintech Neo Secures $64 Million in Series B Funding

https://finovate.com/canadian-fintech-neo-secures-64-million-in-series-b-funding/

In a round led by Valar Ventures, Neo Financial, a fintech based in Alberta, Calgary and Manitoba, Winnipeg, has raised $50 million ($64 million CAD) in new equity funding. The fresh capital takes the Canadian company’s total funding to $89 million ($114 million CAD), and will help enable the company to add talent and launch new integrated fintech partnerships with retailers.

“Reimagining the way Canadians bank is no easy feat, but it’s a challenge that our team is taking head on,” Neo co-founder and CEO Andrew Chau said. “This raise is validation of not only the problem Neo is tackling, but (also) our team’s ability to solve it.”

Going live last year, Neo offered a high-interest savings account, and a no-fee Mastercard that offers up to 6% cash back at partnering companies and at least 1% cashback across all other spending, called Neo Card. Since its 2020 launch Neo has inked partnerships with more than 4,000 retailers, including a strategic partnership with Hudson’s Bay to power the company’s new Hudson’s Bay Mastercard offering. Today’s funding announcement comes on the heels of Neo’s purchase of office space in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, enabling the company to open a second headquarters in the city.

Joining today’s Series B were new investors Greenoaks Capital – which has backed fintechs and ecommerce innovators like Robinhood and Stripe – as well as South Korean challenger bank Toss, a unicorn valued at more than $7.3 billion ($9.4 billion CAD). Other investors included Breyer Capital, Golden Ventures, Afore Capitaal, Inovia Capital, Thornvest, and Maple VC. In addition to leading Neo’s Series B round, announced today, Valar Ventures also led the company’s previous round of funding – a $19.5 million (CAD $25 million) Series A round – in December 2020.

“As one of the largest Series B raises for a Canadian fintech, this new round of funding will allow us to continue building innovative products and features for all Canadians and businesses,” Chau said. “It’s an exciting time to grow our team from both our Calgary and Winnipeg offices.”

Neo Financial was founded by two of the co-founders of SkipTheDishes, an online restaurant food delivery firm launched in 2012. SkipTheDishes was acquired by JustEast four years later for $200 million.


Photo by Mati Mango from Pexels

https://finovate.com/canadian-fintech-neo-secures-64-million-in-series-b-funding/

PayNearMe and the Path to Frictionless, Flexible Payments

https://finovate.com/paynearme-and-the-path-to-frictionless-flexible-payments/

The payments space is one of the areas within fintech that has benefitted from the acceleration in digital transformation trends over the past year. And within the payments industry, innovation in billpay has been especially vigorous, as a growing number of individuals and businesses turned toward digital channels to make and receive transactions during the COVID-19 crisis.

We caught up with Anne Hay, Head of PayNearMe’s consumer research initiative, to discuss the company’s new collaborations with Green Dot and Walmart, as well as PayNearMe’s findings from a study of consumer payment preferences the company launched earlier this year. Have consumers become more or less interested in digital payment solutions since the pandemic? And what can financial services organizations do to take advantage of these trends? Anne Hay explains.

What problem in the payments space does PayNearMe solve? And for whom does it solve it? 

Anne Hay: Today’s consumers are used to making quick, easy payments when shopping online or sending money to friends, and they now expect that same level of convenience for all their payment interactions.

PayNearMe clients are largely recurring billers, such as consumer lenders, mortgage companies, municipalities, and iGaming operators, and we are helping them bring that frictionless, flexible payment experience to their customers.

With PayNearMe, their customers can choose how, when, and where they want to pay. For instance, they can pay with all major payment methods including cards, ACH, and mobile-first payment methods including Google Pay and Apple Pay, as well as with cash at more than 31,000 retail locations, including 7-Eleven and Walmart.

This focus on the customer payment experience is crucial as it is often the most frequent touchpoint our clients have with their customers. Our modern payment experience platform is also the first to enable our clients to fully own the customer payment experience — from facilitating transactions across payment types and channels, to sending payment reminders, to analyzing data for business insights.

PayNearMe recently announced an expanded partnership with Walmart and Green Dot. Can you tell us more about this collaboration? 

Anne Hay: PayNearMe is rethinking payments with an emphasis on the payment experience, customer satisfaction and, of course, increasing our clients’ ability to get paid reliably. This expanded partnership with Green Dot makes on-time bill payment more convenient by bringing easy cash payments to the same location where customers do their everyday shopping. Now millions of consumers who prefer to — or need to — pay in cash can quickly and easily pay their rent, car payments, and utility bills at Walmart.

Customers simply show their scannable PayNearMe cash barcode on their smartphone to an associate in the Walmart MoneyCenter, pay with cash, and collect a receipt confirming that the payment is complete.

The expanded partnership with Green Dot adds participating Walmart locations across the country to our ever-expanding electronic cash network, and we expect to launch additional retailers in the near future to extend the convenience of our cash pay experience to our clients and their customers.

Enabling cash payers is a strategy that can help retailers, such as Walmart, bring more shoppers into their stores on a regular basis. Each visit to Walmart to pay a bill presents an opportunity for these customers to make additional purchases.

PayNearMe recently took a look at consumer preferences with regard to modern billpay options. What were the top takeaways from that survey?

Anne Hay: With all the innovation going on in e-commerce and peer-to-peer payments, we wanted to better understand consumer expectations around bill payments. There’s already a lot of research and data out there about how consumers are paying bills, but we wanted to ask consumers about what would make their bill payment experience easier.

Overall, the study uncovered a significant disconnect between consumers and businesses regarding how consumers want and expect to pay their bills, and the current bill payment options offered by most businesses today. About 75% wish managing and paying bills were easier, with 38% even preferring to do laundry over paying bills.

We found three big issues that need to be addressed.

  1. Billers are slow to offer bill payment choices consumers have come to expect in other facets of their lives, such as Venmo, PayPal, and Apple Pay.
  2. Consumers are struggling with disorganization, and it’s causing bill payment problems, including late payments.
  3. Accessing bill payment information and paying bills is a cumbersome and difficult process for a good portion of those surveyed.

A couple of interesting and surprising findings were the number of consumers, especially young adults, that call in, likely when they are not able to seamlessly complete their payment transactions on their own, and the number of respondents willing to use QR codes to make bill payments.

Respondents said that the billpay experience itself was a more significant stressor than the fear of not being able to pay the bill. What does that tell you? Where is the experience going wrong? 

Anne Hay: According to the bill pay study, nearly 1 in 3 adults revealed that paying bills causes them stress and anxiety. Surprisingly, for 70% of them, it’s not because of money issues.

Remembering logins, passwords, and account numbers top the list of what makes bill payment cumbersome. Keeping track of payment due dates is challenging for 41% of those surveyed, especially for younger adults. 30% cite having to navigate poorly designed biller websites and 26% report manually entering payment information further add to consumers’ dissatisfaction with their current bill payment experience. This expectation mismatch is not only potentially damaging billers’ relationships with their customers, but it is also hurting their bottom line as these frustrations can lead to late or missed payments. In fact, more than half of the respondents paid at least one bill late during the past 12 months.

This finding shows just how important focusing on the customer experience is and how much that experience is shaped by expectations. Even though consumers have the financial ability to pay their bills, they are still stressed because the bill payment process is not as seamless as making an Amazon purchase or paying a friend with Venmo.

The survey suggested that nearly a third of respondents saw mobile payment options as key to easier billpay. What are the obstacles to broader mobile payment adoption? 

Anne Hay: One of our survey’s key findings was that billers are slow to adopt new technology. Mindsets need to change. They are not just competing against other entities in their industry, but against the consumer experience expectations influenced by Amazon, Apple, and Uber. They are competing against fast, easy, frictionless innovation.

As payments software is not often a core capability for many billers, working with a modern, future-looking enterprise software platform partner like PayNearMe is key to meeting new customer preferences such as mobile. Not only do we offer a choice of mobile payment channel options, including pay by text, digital wallets (including Apple Pay, Google Pay and more to come soon) and QR codes, but we also incorporate the security features needed to protect mobile payments. With 38% of respondents saying they would be likely or very likely to use Apple Pay and Google Pay to pay their bills if they had this option, innovation matters. The right partner can help billers stay ahead of the latest trends and perfect the customer experience.

Given the rise of QR codes, cryptocurrencies, real-time payments, embedded finance, and more, which innovations in payments excite you most?

Anne Hay: More and more we’re seeing that the phone is primarily the way people interact with the web these days. So not only Apple Pay and Google Pay, but digital wallets as well. Apple just broke news that they signed agreements with eight states to embed driver’s licenses and IDs within their wallets; more and more, digital wallets are becoming the de facto way to handle important personal and financial matters.

Consumers are storing everything in their wallets, and this can include their bills. In fact, our survey found that if given the opportunity, 42% of consumers would be likely or very likely to use their digital wallet to store, view, and pay their bills from a single place. By storing bills in their digital wallets, consumers can access all of their billing information, including their history, which solves a key pain point our survey found.

For those living on their phones, digital wallets give them everything they need, including reminder notifications and payment channels. With a thumbprint or face scan, payment is done. It’s about meeting the consumer where they live. It’s more than just payments; it’s about making the experience as easy as possible for the customer and merchant.


Photo by Yuri Yuhara from Pexels

https://finovate.com/paynearme-and-the-path-to-frictionless-flexible-payments/

Curve Launches BNPL Product

https://finovate.com/curve-launches-bnpl-product/

Curve, a U.K.-based payment card technology company, announced its own version of a buy now, pay later (BNPL) product this week.

The company is known for its unique payment solutions, such as its Go Back in Time feature that lets consumers switch payments from one card to another for up to 90 days after the transaction was made. Today, Curve is launching Curve Flex, a tool that builds on Go Back in Time.

Curve Flex allows consumers to convert almost any purchase from the past 12 months into an installment plan, as long as the card they used is linked in the Curve Platform. After the customer makes a purchase, all they need to do is swipe the transaction and select the number of installments. Then, Curve refunds their transaction in full almost instantly.

Unlike most BNPL tools, Curve Flex isn’t limited to specific merchants, cards, or products. It can be used on retail purchases, online orders, household bills, and more. Also unlike many BNPL tools, Curve’s offering charges interest based on the purchase amount and the number of installments.

“Curve is giving customers the unprecedented ability to convert transactions made up to a year ago into free or low-interest installment loans,” said Head of Curve Credit Paul Harrald. “Being able to Go Back in Time and Pay Later is going to forever change how U.K. customers think about managing their personal finances and cashflow.”

Curve Flex, which has been in beta for a year, already has 1,600 users that have opted to pay later on 7,000 transactions worth over $1.4 million (£1 million).


Photo by Jacob Kiesow on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/curve-launches-bnpl-product/

What You Saw and What You Missed at FinovateFall 2021

https://finovate.com/what-you-saw-and-what-you-missed-at-finovatefall-2021/

Earlier this week we celebrated the return to in-person events with FinovateFall. Though this year’s event felt a bit different from years past, with vaccination wristbands and social distancing replacing handshakes and hugs, there was an undeniable energy present. While it was wonderful to see many familiar people face-to-face, it was also refreshing to see new ideas and technology presented by the experts themselves.

With three days of demos, panels, keynotes, and networking, there was a lot to take in. Whether you attended in person or digitally, you were able to see some of the newest ideas and technology in banking and finance. And if you weren’t able to attend this time around, here’s a recap of what you saw and what you may have missed.

Overarching themes

  • Consumers have changed how they choose their bank.
    This one seems like a theme we’ve been hearing for a couple of years now, but I think it is becoming even more concrete as the move to digital is ever-accelerating. The anecdote I heard multiple times was how consumers used to base their banking relationship on which FI had the closest branch or the most ATMs in their region. Today, with the abundance of neobanks, consumers have a different mindset. They choose their banks based on the brand. Does it appear trustworthy and transparent, or is there too much fine print? Does it offer unique features such as early wage access that speak to the customer’s needs? Does it benefit the community? Does it speak to the unique needs of the customer’s tribe?
  • Cybersecurity should still be top-of-mind.
    The cybersecurity and fraud prevention theme is one that has been around since the dawn of fintech. It is also one that isn’t going away any time soon. With the push to digital, fraudsters are finding increased profits. At this week’s event, we saw multiple fintechs looking to stem the flow of cash into criminals’ pockets.
  • Regtech is rising.
    The U.S. has been slow to adopt existing regtech tools and create new ones. However, we’ve seen an increase in regulation around consumer data and customer communication. Not only that, but new technologies are also bringing pending regulation around AI, smart contracts, and cryptocurrencies. Fintech is here to fill the dearth of regtech solutions and save financial services companies and fintech alike from legal headaches.
  • Consumers are ready for self-service.
    We now live in a world where people no longer want to make a phone call to order a pizza, but would rather do so via an app. On top of this mobile-first preference, consumers also expect things on-demand. For these reasons, the chatbots that were dismissed in years past as a solution-looking-for-a-problem. At this week’s conference, however, we heard that chatbots are now some of the most practical tools FIs can implement to best serve their clients.

My highlight

My favorite session was the Investor All Star panel featuring Alexa Von Tobel, Founder and Managing Partner of Inspired Capital, and Matt Harris, Partner at Bain Capital Ventures. The two discussed the new “creator economy,” a sub sector of the gig economy that represents not just social media influencers, but anyone who monetizes content online.

Harris pointed out that, in general, relatively little money trickles down to creators such as musicians and artists because much of the funds are gobbled up by middlemen such as studios, auction houses, galleries, and publishing companies. However, with the advent of NFTs it is now possible for any artist to directly reap the rewards of their labor using only an NFT Marketplace.

Von Tobel added that banks need to be ready to serve the unique needs of this new workforce, many of which are Gen Z, that wants to ditch traditional jobs to work for themselves.

Hints at what to expect for 2022

  • We’ll see more no code and low code solutions.
    At FinovateFall this year, it was obvious that the no code movement is having a moment. It democratizes the internet, making it easy for almost anyone to launch a new tool, product, solution, or even an entire business. Competition in this arena has been slowly heating up for years and next year we can expect it to explode.
  • There will be more chat bots and AI-enabled help channels
    With all of the mentions of self-service technology that pulsed throughout this week’s conference, it became clear that the chatbot movement isn’t just a passing fad. Given this, combined with the difficulty of creating self-service tools that actually meet customers’ needs, we can expect to see more, smarter chat bots and a wider variety of self-service tools.

This was Finovate’s last event for the year. Keep an eye out for updates on our conference roster for next year, including:


Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/what-you-saw-and-what-you-missed-at-finovatefall-2021/

FinovateFall eMagazine

https://finovate.com/finovatefall-emagazine/

The future of finance is being ushered in. And the pioneers of the new era lead the change from the FinovateFall stage this year. 

We can’t tell you how exciting it was to welcome so many people back to Manhattan. It was made even sweeter by the fact that we were able to engage so many digital attendees at the same time. It felt good to be able to bring our community together again!

Following the long-anticipated meeting of minds and ideas, we looked back on the themes that emerged and will steer the industry forward into unchartered territory. It’s impossible, of course, to distill so many conversations down to a few high-level takeaways. However, within these pages are snippets and insights from on-and-off-stage to give you a taste of the action and a spark of the knowledge shared. 

Download the latest Finovate eMagazine from FinovateFall to get access to:

  • Insight from Finovate’s resident analysts on the top trends from the event and beyond
  • Thought leadership from Finovate’s Headline Sponsor, InterSystems 
  • The Best of Show demo videos
  • The Finovate Awards winners
  • Expert opinion on the elements of a super app, consumer risk modeling innovations, and more 

https://finovate.com/finovatefall-emagazine/

Welcome to Day Three of FinovateFall 2021!

https://finovate.com/welcome-to-day-three-of-finovatefall-2021/

After two days of live demos from innovative fintechs and financial services companies, today is a day dedicated to discussing the key themes and critical issues facing our industry today.

From our Investor All-Stars presentations to our special focus tracks on Future Tech, Future Payments, SME and Consumer Lending, and Digital Transformation, Day Three of FinovateFall gives us the opportunity to put two day’s worth of fintech innovation into context – and to turn that context into action: to grow and evolve, to improve ROI, and to change the customer experience for the better.

Thank you for spending the week with us here at FinovateFall. Here is the agenda for today. All times Eastern.

8:15am – 9:00am | Registration, Breakfast, and Networking

9:00am – 9:05am | Welcome from Finovate

9:05am – 9:35am | Investor All-Stars

9:35am – 9:50am | Mastermind Keynote featuring Jon Curtis of Samsung Electronics America

9:50am – 10:40am | Seven in Seven: 7 Expert Speakers Tackle Top Issues in Fintech

10:40am – 11:10am | Networking Break PLUS Q&A Session with our Keynote Digital Transformation Speaker

11:10am – 11:25am | Special Address: The Growth of In-Car Intelligent Assistants

11:25am – 11:40am | Mastermind Keynote: The Future of Digital Identity is NOW

11:40am – 12:05pm | Five in Five: 5 Expert Speakers Tackle Top Issues in Fintech

12:05pm – 1:05pm | Lunch and Networking Break

1:05pm – 2:25pm | Finovate Focus Tracks

  • Future Tech
    • Fireside Chat: Digital Currencies, Diem, Central Bank Digital Currencies & Blockchain – Are Digital Currencies & Blockchain Finally Gaining Traction with FIs?
    • Mastermind Keynote featuring Nick Mates of Lendr
    • Keynote Address: Harnessing AI to Improve Efficiencies, Increase Margins, and Prevent Fraud
    • Power Panel: The Conversational AI Market is Expected to Reach a $14 Billion Valuation by 2025 – How Can You Leverage It to Deliver ROI-Driving CX?
  • Future Payments
    • Mastermind Keynote: Creating a Winning Cardholder Experience
    • Fireside Chat: The Need for Speed – Where Next with Faster Payments?
    • Keynote Address: eCommerce and Post-Pandemic Priorities
    • Power Panel: How Will New Technologies, New Competitors, and New Business Models Shape the Future of Payments? Is Payments Orchestration About to Have its Moment?

2:25pm – 4:00pm | Finovate Focus Tracks

  • Digital Transformation
    • Keynote Address: Customer Insights – Sharing Real Life Examples of Best Practices in CX and How to Blend Human and Digital CX
    • Keynote Address: Financial Services Digital Transformation: Embracing the Next Generation of Technology
    • Power Panel: How Open Innovation & Strategic Partnerships Can Help You On Your Digital Transformation Journey
  • SME & Consumer Lending
    • Keynote Address: PPP Loans – How Community Banks Rose to the Occasion & What Lessons Can We Learn from Their Success?
    • Mastermind Keynote: Onboard at the Speed of Digital – Flatten Silos, Fuel Lending, and Regain Control
    • Power Panel: Lending 2.0 – What Are the Problems that Need to Be Solved for Consumers & SMEs in the New COVID-19 World?

4:00pm – 4:05pm | Close of FinovateFall 2021

https://finovate.com/welcome-to-day-three-of-finovatefall-2021/

FinovateFall 2021 Best of Show Winners Announced

https://finovate.com/finovatefall-2021-best-of-show-winners-announced/

The Best of Show winners of FinovateFall this year featured both veterans and newcomers, established companies and bold, Millennial-led startups, fintech innovators from as far away as Europe and Latin America, as well as home-grown talent from right here in the U.S.A.

To be honest, we could not imagine a better way to celebrate Finovate’s return to New York!

So please join us in offering a hearty congratulations to the companies selected by our attendees as the FinovateFall 2021 Best of Show.

Array for its personalized consumer credit, identity, and financial wellness tools available via both API as well as embeddable components.

AutoBooks for its small business digital invoicing and online payment acceptance tools for FIs.

Bambu for its B2B robo-advisory platform for financial institutions and fintech disruptors.

Dreams for its banking platform that leverages behavioral science to boost customer engagement and financial well-being.

Horizn for its platform that helps banks accelerate digital banking knowledge, fluency, and adoption.

Infocorp for its smart digital platform that gives banks fast and flexible solutions to deliver superior customer experiences.

Long Game for its gamified finance app that helps banks acquire new customers and increase engagement with their Millennial and Gen Z customers.

Ocrolus for its intelligent automation technology that transforms documents into data analytics, helping lenders make timely, high quality credit decisions.

PwC for its Customer Link solution that turns customer data into smarter action and provides a 360 degree view of your customers.

Thanks to all the demoing companies, our sponsors and speakers, and our attendees for making our return to live fintech conferencing such a resounding success. Keep in touch with us via the Finovate blog for updates on our upcoming events next year in London for FinovateEurope, in San Francisco for FinovateSpring, and beyond!


Notes on methodology:
1. Only audience members NOT associated with demoing companies were eligible to vote. Finovate employees did not vote.
2. Attendees were encouraged to note their favorites during each day. At the end of the last demo, they chose their three favorites.
3. The exact written instructions given to attendees: “Please rate (the companies) on the basis of demo quality and potential impact of the innovation demoed.”
4. The nine companies appearing on the highest percentage of submitted ballots were named “Best of Show.”
5. Go here for a list of previous Best of Show winners through 2014. Best of Show winners from our 2015 through 2021 conferences are below:
FinovateEurope 2015
FinovateSpring 2015
FinovateFall 2015
FinovateEurope 2016
FinovateSpring 2016
FinovateFall 2016
FinovateAsia 2016
FinovateEurope 2017
FinovateSpring 2017
FinovateFall 2017
FinovateAsia 2017
FinovateMiddleEast 2018
FinovateEurope 2018
FinovateSpring 2018
FinovateFall 2018
FinovateAsia 2018
FinovateAfrica 2018
FinovateEurope 2019
FinovateSpring 2019
FinovateFall 2019
FinovateAsia 2019
FinovateMiddleEast 2019
FinovateEurope 2020
FinovateFall 2020
FinovateWest 2020
FinovateEurope 2021
FinovateSpring 2021

https://finovate.com/finovatefall-2021-best-of-show-winners-announced/

SellersFunding Lands $166 Million

https://finovate.com/sellersfunding-lands-166-million/

SellersFunding landed $166.5 million in Series A debt and equity funding this week. The company, which provides working capital to ecommerce marketplaces, now has almost $275 million in total debt and equity funding.

The investment was led by Northzone with additional investments from Endeavor Catalyst and Fasanara.

Founded in 2017, SellersFunding offers working capital solutions, payments tools, and analytics to help online marketplace sellers unlock capital, access invoice payments faster, collect payments, manage taxes, and more.

The New York-based company will use the financing to enhance its technology and payments platforms, grow its team, boost sales and marketing efforts, and fuel both domestic and international expansion. SellersFunding plans to gain more clients not only in the U.S. but also in the U.K., Europe, and Australia.

“We are thrilled to complete our capital raise and have Northzone and Endeavor joining our company, and to see the renewed commitment of Fasanara in supporting the expansion of our portfolio,” said SellersFunding CEO Ricardo Pero. “This underscores our dedication to providing world-class financial solutions for our clients and partners and is a testament to the overall growth of the global ecommerce space.”


Photo by Jill Heyer on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/sellersfunding-lands-166-million/

2021 Finovate Award Winners Unveiled

https://finovate.com/2021-finovate-award-winners-unveiled/

Today we’re busting out the virtual confetti to announce the winners of the 2021 Finovate Awards, recognizing excellence in fintech across 25 different categories. This is the third annual Finovate Awards competition, which aims to highlight strong work done by the companies who are driving fintech innovation forward and the individuals who are bringing new ideas to life.

We may not get to congratulate the award winners with handshakes this year, but that doesn’t make the accomplishments any less compelling. These companies and individuals have proven that they have what it takes to capture the attention of the fintech world through standout products, services, and overall excellence.

Judges for the awards include media analysts, board members, bankers, fintech founders, and more. Each were given the difficult task of taking a record number of nominations and distilling them down to just a single winner in each category.

  • Best Alternative Investments Platform: Pipe
  • Best Back-Office / Core Service Provider: MANTL
  • Best Consumer Lending Platform: Salary Finance
  • Best Customer Experience Solution: TMRW by UOB
  • Best Digital Bank: Oxygen
  • Best Digital Mortgage Platform: LendingHome
  • Best Embedded Finance Solution: ApexEdge
  • Best Enterprise Payments Solution: GoCardless
  • Best Financial Mobile App: Simplifi by Quicken
  • Best Fintech Accelerator/Incubator: Financial Solutions Lab
  • Best Fintech Partnership: T-Mobile and BM Technologies
  • Best ID Management Solution: IDology
  • Best Insurtech Solution: FloodFlash
  • Best Mobile Payments Solution: Simpl
  • Best RegTech Solution: Featurespace
  • Best SMB/SME Banking Solution: Ramp
  • Best Use of AI/ML: Zest AI
  • Best Wealth Management Solution: Charles Schwab
  • Excellence in Financial Inclusion: Airtel Money
  • Excellence in Pandemic Response: Biz2Credit
  • Excellence in Sustainability: BlocPower
  • Executive of the Year: Barbara Morgan, FIS
  • Fintech Woman of the Year: Jo Ann Barefoot
  • Innovator of the Year: Jon Schlossberg
  • Top Emerging Tech Company: Synctera

While only one company can win each category, it’s also worth recognizing the quality of all of the finalists who made it to the last stage in the process.

We owe a huge thank you to the panel of judges, followers, and everyone who took the time to submit a nomination. Congratulations to the winners!


Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/2021-finovate-award-winners-unveiled/

Welcome to Day Two of FinovateFall 2021!

https://finovate.com/welcome-to-day-two-of-finovatefall-2021/

“Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome …” to Day Two of FinovateFall 2021!

From the smiles on the faces of the hundreds who joined us yesterday at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to the thunderous applause that greeted virtually every demoing company and keynote speaker, yesterday was a wonderful reminder of both how much we missed hosting live events and how much so many of you have enjoyed attending them.

Today on Day Two we plan to keep the momentum going with another full day of fintech demos, insightful keynotes, and fireside chats. And to finish off the day – in addition to our Best of Show Awards Ceremony – we’re hosting a quartet of free-wheeling, no-holds-barred, Champagne Executive Boardroom sessions held under Chatham House Rules. With topics ranging from New Technology and Fighting Financial Crime to Open Banking and how to take advantage of “the Single Biggest Wealth Transfer in History,” these cocktail-hour sessions are not to be missed.

Here’s the schedule for today. All times Eastern Standard.

8:00am – 8:50am | Registration, Breakfast, and Networking

8:50am – 8:55am | Welcome from Finovate

8:55am – 10:20am | Demo Session #1

10:20am – 10:35am | Mastermind Keynote: The Transformative Role of AI in Financial Services

10:35am – 10:50am | Fireside Chat: The Platform Economy is Coming – How Much of a Threat Are the Tech Giants to Incumbents?

10:50am – 11:20am | Networking Break

11:20am – 11:35am | Mastermind Keynote: Accelerating Innovation in Financial Services with Unqork and InterSystems

11:35am – 12:45pm | Demo Session #2

12:45pm – 1:30pm | Lunch & Networking Break

1:30pm – 1:45pm | Mastermind Keynote: AI-First Digital Engineering for Financial Services

1:45pm – 2:45pm | Demo Session #3

2:45pm – 3:15pm | Networking Break

3:15pm – 3:30pm | Mastermind Keynote: Open Banking – Powering the Future SME Marketplace

3:30pm – 4:30pm | Demo Session #4

4:30pm – 4:45pm | Fireside Chat: Why We Need Bold Leadership More Than Ever Before

4:45pm – 6:15pm | Networking Reception with cocktails & appetizers

  • Champagne Executive Boardroom Sessions 4:45pm
  • Best of Show Awards Ceremony 5:30pm

6:15pm – 6:20pm | Close of Day 2

https://finovate.com/welcome-to-day-two-of-finovatefall-2021/

TransUnion to Acquire Neustar for $3.1 Billion

https://finovate.com/transunion-to-acquire-neustar-for-3-1-billion/

Credit and risk underwriting firm TransUnion announced plans today to acquire digital identity solutions company Neustar. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year for $3.1 billion.

“The credit information and analytics that TransUnion provides make trust possible between consumers and businesses,” said TransUnion President and CEO Chris Cartwright. “As digital commerce continues to grow globally, TransUnion’s powerful digital identity assets, enhanced by Neustar’s distinctive data and digital resolution capabilities, will enable safer and more personalized online experiences for consumers and businesses.”

With the addition of Neustar’s data and analytics to enable consumers and businesses to transact online with greater confidence, TransUnion expects the purchase will expand its digital identity capabilities.

Specifically, TransUnion’s acquisition is expected to help the company break out of the traditional credit scoring space by leveraging Neustar’s OneID platform, which will help TransUnion unify its digital identity capabilities. This includes TLO data assets and fusion platform, the iovation device reputation network, and the digital marketing capabilities of Tru Optik.

As part of the purchase, TransUnion will acquire Neustar’s employees, data, and products.


Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/transunion-to-acquire-neustar-for-3-1-billion/

Welcome to Day One of FinovateFall 2021!

https://finovate.com/welcome-to-day-one-of-finovatefall-2021/

The day we’ve been waiting for is here. After more than a year and a half of all-digital events, Finovate is LIVE!

With more than 75 innovative fintechs scheduled to demo their latest technologies and 1,100+ registered attendees (900+ in person), we could not be more excited for the start of FinovateFall this year.

Our return to the live stage begins bright and early Monday morning and continues through Wednesday afternoon with live demos, dynamic panel discussions, and keynote addresses from some of fintech’s most insightful and accomplished analysts and entrepreneurs.

For those who are joining us in New York at the Marriott Marquis Times Square, we look forward to seeing you in person this week. We also want to assure you that we take the challenges of COVID-19 seriously, and have taken a number of steps to comply with local guidelines and requirements to provide the safest possible environment for this week’s event.

To this end, please review our FinovateFall 2021 At-Event Safety FAQ, which provides information on vaccination requirements, masking policy, and other additional measures we are following.

And if you can’t make it here, you can still enjoy Finovate anywhere you’ve got an internet connection via our Digital Pass offering.

However you plan to join us, here are the essentials for Day One of FinovateFall 2021 that all attendees – in-person and virtual – need to know. All times Eastern Standard.

8:00am – 8:50am | Registration, Breakfast, and Networking

8:50am – 8:55am | Welcome from Finovate

8:55am – 10:20am | Demo Session #1

10:20am – 10:35am | Mastermind Keynote: Why Three Decades of Cybersecurity Advances Still Don’t Protect Our Data

10:35am – 11:05am | Networking Break

11:05am – 11:25am | Analyst All Stars: How Financial Services Have Been Changed Forever

11:25am – 12:50pm | Demo Session #2

12:50pm – 1:40pm | Lunch and Networking Break

1:40pm – 2:10pm | Women in Fintech Power Panel: Paving the Way for the Next Generation of Female Founders and Executives

2:10pm — 3:25pm | Demo Session #3

3:25pm – 3:55pm | Networking Break

3:55pm – 4:10pm | Mastermind Keynote: What Are The Key Questions to Ask When Evaluating Neobanks?

4:10pm – 5:10pm | Demo Session #4

5:10pm – 6:45pm | Networking Reception with cocktails and appetizers

https://finovate.com/welcome-to-day-one-of-finovatefall-2021/

Financial Inclusion in Latin America; A Look at Fintech Up ‘n’ Comers in Egypt

https://finovate.com/financial-inclusion-in-latin-america-a-look-at-fintech-up-n-comers-in-egypt/

The Road to Greater Financial Inclusion in Latin America

This week’s Finovate Global Reports takes a look at the drive for financial inclusion in Latin America. BN Americas this week featured a research survey conducted by Peruvian financial services company Credicorp and research firm Ipsos. The study queried approximately 8,400 households in seven Latin American countries: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.

The key takeaways from the study underscored both the need for more aggressive efforts to boost financial inclusion, as well as the concern that those most in need of financial services are also those who are the most marginalized in society overall. The survey highlighted special challenges when it comes to better engaging women, seniors (people over the age of 60), as well as people living in rural locations and those with “limited education and income” in the mainstream financial ecosystem.

Credicorp Head of Corporate Affairs Enrique Pasquel said that promoting financial inclusion was a critical component of improving the business climate in Latin America. “If Latin America continues to have societies where not all enjoy the same benefits,” Pasquel said, “it’s difficult to see how a business can be viable in the long term.”

Education is one of the tools Pasquel sees as especially valuable in driving greater financial inclusion in the region. Many of the study’s respondents who had low levels of engagement with their country’s financial system pointed to a number of issues – from a lack of interest to an inability to see the benefits to a sense that the services available were not necessary to them – as chief obstacles.

Nevertheless, Pasquel believes that the benefits of financial inclusion – such as the increased safety in enabling individuals to reduce their use of cash – are significant enough to overcome many of these reservations. He called on the private sector to play a greater role in financial inclusion efforts.


Checking In on Fintech Innovation in the Middle East

IBS Intelligence took a look at the fintech industry in Egypt and highlighted a quartet of companies – Fawry, MoneyFellows, Paymob, and Yomken – that it believes represent the pinnacle of fintech in North Africa’s most populous country.

The article noted that recent changes in the financial services industry in Egypt are likely responsible for what has made fintech one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country. The Arab republic passed major new banking legislation in 2020 that, in addition to mandating new minimum capital requirements for Egyptian banks, also provided new guidance for both the Egyptian banking sector, as well as for the country’s growing population of e-payments startups, fintech companies, and cryptocurrency firms.

With a tip of the hat to the four major Egyptian fintechs noted by IBS Intelligence, this week’s Finovate Global Lists is sharing eight other fintechs from the country that have made recent Finovate Global headlines. While not as well known as the quartet highlighted above, we think the eight Egypt-based fintechs below are worth keeping an eye on in the months and years to come.

  • Cassbana: Helps underserved communities obtain financial identities via micro-lending and an AI-powered, behavior-based scoring system.
  • Dayra: Provides financial services to un- and underbanked gig economy workers and micro-businesses.
  • Flextock: Offers technology-enabled, fast, and affordable fulfillment solutions for businesses.
  • Hollydesk: Provides a SaaS platform for SMEs that supports daily expense and accounts payable management.
  • Khazna: Serves underbanked communities in Egypt with a solution that provides convenient and secure smartphone-based financial services.
  • MoneyHash: Offers a single platform to enable access to payment and financial services across the Middle East and Africa.
  • Telda: Provides a P2P payment service designed for Egypt’s Millennial and GenZ population.

Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Central and Eastern Europe

Middle East and Northern Africa

Central and Southern Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

Asia-Pacific


Photo by Abd Elrahman Elokby from Pexels

https://finovate.com/financial-inclusion-in-latin-america-a-look-at-fintech-up-n-comers-in-egypt/

Beyond Trendy: Fintech Themes at FinovateFall

https://finovate.com/beyond-trendy-fintech-themes-at-finovatefall/

We have 70+ demo companies at this year’s FinovateFall event, taking place September 13 through 15 online and in-person in New York City. These demos, combined with a full lineup of keynotes and panel discussions, will bring a wide variety of themes. To get an idea of what’s trending this year, we’re taking a look at the key themes repeated throughout both the demos and the discussions.

For the demos, we’ve distilled the themes into five major categories, as outlined below.

Data

Today’s data discussions transcend the conversations of Big Data that were en vogue in 2015. This year, data is everywhere; it touches everything. Companies will be looking at how they can help gather, clean, and analyze data; how they can place the customer in charge of their own data while allowing the firm to leverage consumer data; and how they can collaborate with others around data. They will also be discussing specific use cases such as receipt data and pulling data from paper documents. At this year’s event, seemingly everything is data-driven.

Fraud prevention & compliance

We can expect to see solutions to prevent financial crime at pretty much every event. Fraud is ubiquitous in financial services because bad actors consistently benefit from it. This fintech sub-sector is continuously evolving as hackers become more and more cunning. And this year, we’ve noticed the addition of more compliance tools to assist with regulations and audits around fraud.

Digital assistant

With the Delta variant in full force, we still have not entered a post-COVID world. Given that our social distancing habits must persist, companies are investing more energy in developing digital assistants. No matter how you may feel about chatbots, they have proven to be a viable way to communicate with clients when in person discussions are no longer an option. And this theme goes beyond chatbots. Digital assistants including AI-powered call centers and automated customer interactions of all types are rising up to help take the burden off of customer service agents during a time when in-branch conversations are not possible.

Customer engagement

Another byproduct of COVID’s aftermath, customer engagement technologies continue to be front-and-center on the minds of banks, fintechs, and (of course) consumers alike. Because so much of our lives currently takes place online, customers now expect an engaging, personalized customer experience.

One of the ways financial firms are tackling this challenge is by creating a gamified user experience. By taking wha typically is viewed as a chore and making it into something fun, customers are more likely to use and return to an app or an online experience.

Another key to customer engagement is, of course, personalization. By leveraging data to center the user experience around the customer’s needs, fintechs and banks can ensure to captivate their existing client base and reign in new ones.

Financial planning and investing

The roboadvisor craze of 2015 has matured, and has left a number of powerful fintechs in its wake. This is thanks to increased popularity combined with enabling technologies of the new decade. Unlike the first wave of roboadvisory tools, today’s offerings tend to take a more holistic and personalized approach. At this year’s event, we’ll see tools that look at consumers’ financial wellness as a whole, not just their retirement savings.

Another difference from early wealthtech tools is that more of today’s offerings are B2B instead of strictly B2C. At FinovateFall 2021, we’ll see tools that help advisors create more value for their clients and products for employers to help their workforce build better financial health.

What’s missing?

Notably absent from this list are two major themes I would have expected to see. The first is Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), the payment technology that allows customers to pay for purchases in installments after receiving the product. Companies like Afterpay, Affirm, Klarna, and Sezzle have popularized BNPL, and many retailers and payment companies alike have implemented various versions of this model. Given the seemingly viral nature of BNPL, it’s surprising that only a single demo company, Zeta, offers BNPL technology.

The second missing piece this year is AI, which has been a top trend for years. So how can discussions of such a pervasive theme be so absent? The answer is in the question; AI is so pervasive that it has now become table stakes for every fintech sub-sector. In other words, AI has blended into the background. If firms want to compete and offer worthwhile products and services, they must, at a minimum, be leveraging AI.

FinovateFall won’t just be about the demos. We have an impressive lineup of keynote speakers, panelists, and fireside chats to share a range of perspectives on today’s hottest fintech topics. While you’re at the event, keep an eye out for the following themes:

  • Cybersecurity & financial crime
  • Neobanks
  • ESG
  • Financial inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Automation
  • Open finance
  • Wealth management
  • Digital transformation
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Faster payments
  • Customer experience

We’re so excited to return to New York this year! We’ll see you either online or in person starting September 13 at 8 a.m. Eastern time and continuing through the 15th. Book your tickets here.


Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/beyond-trendy-fintech-themes-at-finovatefall/

Mastercard Acquires CipherTrace to Sharpen Security Around Digital Assets

https://finovate.com/mastercard-acquires-ciphertrace-to-sharpen-security-around-digital-assets/

Mastercard has agreed to acquire cryptocurrency intelligence company CipherTrace for an undisclosed amount.

Founded in 2015, CipherTrace offers security and fraud monitoring activities for clients’ crypto-related programs. As CipherTrace CEO Dave Jevans states it, the company helps “banks or cryptocurrency exchanges, government regulators or law enforcement to keep the crypto economy safe.”

Mastercard will combine CipherTrace, which offers insights into more than 900 cryptocurrencies, with its own cyber security solutions to provide customers “the same trust and peace of mind that consumers currently experience with more traditional payment methods.”

CipherTrace’s solutions will help Mastercard differentiate its card and payments offerings and help the company’s clients protect their own clients, comply with regulations, and build their own digital asset products. Additionally, Mastercard’s purchase will help the payments company increase its presence with new clients such as fintechs, crypto-wallet providers, and governments.

“Digital assets have the potential to reimagine commerce, from everyday acts like paying and getting paid to transforming economies, making them more inclusive and efficient,” said Mastercard President of Cyber & Intelligence Ajay Bhalla. “With the rapid growth of the digital asset ecosystem comes the need to ensure it is trusted and safe. Our aim is to build upon the complementary capabilities of Mastercard and CipherTrace to do just this.”

Today’s move isn’t Mastercard’s first foray into the crypto realm. The New York-based company already holds partnerships with Uphold, Gemini, and BitPay to create crypto cards; has created tools support CBDCs; and has launched programs to support blockchain technology, NFTs, and stablecoins on its network.


Photo by Free Creative Stuff from Pexels

https://finovate.com/mastercard-acquires-ciphertrace-to-sharpen-security-around-digital-assets/

Live From New York, It’s the FinovateFall 2021 Keynote Speakers!

https://finovate.com/live-from-new-york-its-the-finovatefall-2021-keynote-speakers/

FinovateFall 2021 is right around the corner (Monday, September 13th through Wednesday, September 15th). That means there’s no better time than the present to pick up your ticket and save your spot as Finovate returns to New York City for its first live fintech conference in more than a year.

We’ve already shared a ton of Sneak Peeks into the innovative technologies our demoing companies will have on display next week. To further whet your appetite, here’s a quick look at some of the keynote speakers and fireside chatters who will share their insights on the hottest topics in fintech.


Monday

Why Three Decades of Cybersecurity Advanced Still Don’t Protect Our Data – Monday, 9.13.21, 10:20am

What Are The Key Questions to Ask When Evaluating Neobanks? – Monday, 9.13.21, 3:55pm


Tuesday

The Transformative Role of AI in Financial Services – Tuesday, 9.14.21, 10:20am

The Platform Economy is Coming – How Much of a Threat are the Tech Giants to Incumbents? – Tuesday, 9.14.21, 10:35am

Accelerating Innovation in Financial Services with Unqork and InterSystems – Tuesday, 9.14.21, 11:20am

AI-First Digital Engineering for Financial Services – Tuesday, 9.14.21, 1:30pm

  • Ajay Krishna – Senior Vice President of Data and Analytics, Finicity, a Mastercard Company. LinkedIn.

Open Banking: Powering the Future SME Marketplace – Tuesday, 9.14.21, 3:15pm

Why We Need Bold Leadership More Than Ever Before – Tuesday, 9.14.21, 4:30pm


Wednesday

Wednesday, 9.15.21, 8:50am

  • John Curtis – Vice President and General Manager, B2B Mobile, Samsung Electronics America. LinkedIn.

Wednesday, 9.15.21, 9:35am

The Growth of In-Car Intelligent Assistants – Wednesday, 9.15.21, 11:10am

The Future of Digital Identity is NOW – Wednesday, 9.15.21, 11:25am


Photo by Monica Silvestre from Pexels

https://finovate.com/live-from-new-york-its-the-finovatefall-2021-keynote-speakers/

Women in Fintech: Creating Shared and Seamless Experiences with Mithu Bhargava of NCR

https://finovate.com/women-in-fintech-creating-shared-and-seamless-experiences-with-mithu-bhargava-of-ncr/

How are fintechs helping financial institutions make successful digital transformations? What is required in order for financial institutions to maximize the opportunities available from increasingly ubiquitous enabling technologies to better engage and serve their customers and members? What lessons can we draw from those banks, credit unions, and other financial services providers that have prioritized digital transformation over the past several months?

We checked in with Mithu Bhargava, Senior Vice President and General Manager for NCR’s Global Professional Services Organization to talk about the current pace of digitization in financial services, and what financial institutions are doing to meet their customers’ growing expectations for shared, seamless experiences.


What are the most significant changes NCR has seen in the banking landscape over the past year?  

Mithu Bhargava: The pandemic served as an impetus for banks to digitally transform. While the industry has been talking about digital-first banking for years, Covid-19 firmly accelerated this transformation. At NCR, we were prepared to manage the shift; we have been evolving toward a digital-first and self-directed banking approach for years. As a result, we were able to help banks and credit unions continue to serve their customers and keep operations running even while social distancing. Moving forward, we believe digital-first banking will be the route institutions must take to survive.

Over the past year, we’ve also noticed a growing customer demand for cryptocurrency, which is why NCR recently announced that we’ve entered into a definitive agreement to acquire LibertyX, a leading cryptocurrency software provider. We plan to offer the LibertyX capabilities as part of our solutions for banks, retailers and restaurants across both physical and digital touchpoints. This will ultimately provide a complete digital currency solution for our customers.

It’s time for financial institutions to leverage flexible, modern digital technologies to navigate changing business needs and demands. At NCR, we firmly believe that digital-first banking doesn’t just mean adopting new digital banking tools, a common misconception. Rather, digital-first banking is a shift in mindset; it requires re-imagining an institution’s holistic digital strategy to evolve alongside customer expectations, digitizing all aspects of the financial journey and connecting digital and physical experiences. Financial institutions that focus on creating these shared, seamless experiences are able to differentiate their brand and expand existing customer relationships while attracting new ones. 

Obviously digital experienced a significant uptick because of the pandemic – is that here to stay? What role will branches play in the future?  

Bhargava: Yes, we believe that this trend in digital channels will not be reversed; consumers that traditionally shied away from digital (for example, older generations) have now seen how easy and convenient it is. While the branch will always remain a critical touchpoint, the pandemic has forced the traditional branch model to evolve. Branches are elevating in terms of functionality and services offered. Expect to see more banks and credit unions approach the branch from an advisory perspective, serving as a place for customers and members to go for personal financial advice and complex services—not routine transactions. 

We also anticipate the rise of digital bank branches that leverage self-directed technologies like ITMs and ATMs. Such technologies provide convenience and speed to customers while creating efficiencies for the institutions, enabling them to cost effectively extend service hours. More banks and credit unions are expanding the ITM functionality offered, incorporating more video teller capabilities to maintain the human connection. There will be a shift in how institutions manage these machines, as well; more will transfer the burden of machine maintenance and updates to a trusted partner via the cloud. Such a hosting option makes the self-directed banking channel simpler by offering a better, digital-first customer experience while reducing the total cost and onus of ownership. Branches are evolving to build profitable relationships and long-term loyalty.  

What trends should bankers watch out for here in the second half of the year?  

Bhargava: Customers expect a fast and frictionless experience at every touchpoint, and they’ve proven they’re not afraid to walk away when those expectations aren’t met. Looking forward, there will be a continued (and accelerated) convergence of digital and physical channels. What have traditionally been channel-specific experiences are being made ubiquitous across the bank through software that can connect those experiences.

Self-directed banking will also continue to take off. This approach puts the customer in the driver’s seat, allowing them to decide how they would like to engage with their bank or credit union across all channels and touchpoints. The need for a customer to ever have to work in silos is eliminated, creating a seamless, connected experience. Self-directed banking empowers the customer with flexibility and choice and those banks who embrace the shift will be well positioned for success heading into 2022 and beyond.  

Everyone talks about digital transformation, but many still struggle to get it right. What are some key tips and strategies to make it work?  

Bhargava: I have three thoughts on this. First, too often, we see bankers jump on emerging technology trends versus really evaluating their current gaps and needs. The first key to digital transformation is to focus on your bank’s overall approach; don’t just pick a technology but pick a specific problem area to focus on. Those that leverage rationalization to determine which processes are ready to be digitized right now and which need to be reimagined entirely before digitizing will be best positioned to navigate digital transformation. Digitizing a flawed process typically just makes a cumbersome process faster.

Second, once your bank has the right mindset for digital transformation, it’s time to focus on the people. Engaging the right leadership team with the relevant skillsets will be a huge asset. Digital transformation should be something that’s embraced organization-wide, not just at the leadership level. Make sure to secure buy-in from stakeholders across the institution. In addition to leveraging appropriate people from within the organization, most banks and credit unions find significant value in partnering with technology providers where appropriate to extend reach and come to market better and faster.

Setting goals and clearly defining a realistic digital transformation roadmap from the onset will allow the institution to evaluate progress. Technology should be used to help effectively monitor and measure performance against goals to help keep everyone on track. User feedback should also be evaluated throughout when applicable, not just at the very end. Finally, it’s important to remember to keep it simple. Complexity on the institution’s end can result in friction for customers.

The competitive landscape continues to intensify and grow more complicated – how can community and regional FIs protect their market share?  

Bhargava: The embrace of digital-first banking quickly and completely will position banks and credit unions for success. Why? Digital-first banking creates new and exciting opportunities for traditional institutions who now find themselves up against a slew of emerging fintech companies adept at swiftly closing the widening gaps between yesterday’s and tomorrow’s consumer banking needs. And the world has changed. We will never be the same as we were before March 2020, at least when it comes to how consumers interact and connect with their service providers.

Personalization will also be critical moving forward. Those that continue to leverage marketing campaigns to the masses will quickly turn off customers. Instead, outreach should be intentional and tailored. Institutions have a wealth of data available to them, and it’s time to use it for insights to guide customers in making the smartest financial decisions.

Digital-first banking is all about merging digital and physical experiences to meet customers’ timely financial needs and making it simple to serve the customer across all channels and touchpoints—without breaking the back office. Those that can do this while leveraging their data to personalize engagements will be well equipped to protect their market share and relevance.


Photo by Vraj Shah from Pexels

https://finovate.com/women-in-fintech-creating-shared-and-seamless-experiences-with-mithu-bhargava-of-ncr/

Better.com Acquires U.K.-Based Property Partner

https://finovate.com/better-com-acquires-u-k-based-property-partner/

Mortgagetech company Better.com announced today it has acquired Property Partner, a U.K.-based property investment company, for an undisclosed amount.

Property Partner is a property crowdfunding investment platform that offers users fractional ownership of rental property homes. The company’s investors can select a diversified portfolio of properties to own and receive monthly rental income from those properties that is paid out as a dividend. Since it was founded in 2014, Property Partner has raised $35.2 million and accumulated $194 million (£140 million) in assets under management from its 9,000 users.

“Combining Property Partner’s unique residential property investment platform with Better’s arsenal of homeownership products and services changes the game for the future of real estate investment,” said Better Founder and CEO Vishal Garg. “We’re turning residential real estate into a liquid asset class and changing how families can grow their wealth. Together, we will lower costs, improve convenience, and deliver huge value to all real estate market participants.”

This marks the second U.K.-based company that Better has acquired this summer. In July, the New York-based company bought Trussle, a digital mortgage brokerage company based in London. Both of these moves hint at Better’s potential plans for international expansion. The company currently offers mortgages in 46 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

Today’s deal comes ahead of the company’s planned SPAC merger, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, with Aurora Acquisitions Corporation. The deal will value Better at $7.7 billion.

Founded in 2016, Better offers mortgages for home purchases and refinances, real estate agents, title insurance, and mortgage insurance. The company has funded $30.9 billion in home loans and provided over $7 billion in coverage through its insurance products.

Last month, Better launched a cash offer program that allows a customer to buy a home using cash. Better purchases the home on a customer’s behalf, then finalizes the customer’s mortgage after the deal has closed. The buyer can move in as soon as Better finalizes the purchase, but pays Better prorated daily rent until their mortgage is approved and they buy back the home from Better.


Photo by Bethany Opler on Unsplash

https://finovate.com/better-com-acquires-u-k-based-property-partner/