Earnings roundup: Canadian banks continue tech, talent focus


Canadian banks upped their technology spend and talent acquisition efforts in the fiscal fourth quarter amid increasing digital adoption. The $1.4 trillion TD Bank increased its tech spend in Q4 10% year over year to $4.8 billion; $1.4 trillion Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) tech investment grew 8.5% YoY to $5.3 billion; and $805 billion […]


Transactions: US Bank acquires MUFG Union Bank


U.S. Bank recently announced its acquisition of New York City-based MUFG Union Bank in an $8 billion deal.   The deal was originally announced in September 2021, with the $591 billion bank acquiring Union Bank from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, according to a release from U.S. Bank. System integrations and account conversions are expected to […]


AvidXchange Taps Wise to Power Cross-Border Payments Solution

  • AvidXchange partnered with Wise this week.
  • The partnership enables AvidXchange to expand on the global payments capabilities it launched last month.
  • The partnership will help AvidXchange offer its U.S.-based clients an embedded payment experience, creating a more convenient payment process.

Payment automation solutions company AvidXchange announced this week it has selected international money transfer company Wise (formerly known as Transferwise) to expand its international payment capabilities.

“Partnering with Wise to provide our customers with best-in-class international payment capabilities was an easy decision because of their market-leading platform and seamless integration capabilities,” said AvidXchange Chief Growth Officer Dan Drees. “Together, we stand firm as leaders and remain dedicated to making our customers’ payments process more efficient regardless of country lines.”

AvidXchange launched its global payments last month to create an embedded cross-border payment solution for its middle market business clients and their suppliers. Piloting the launch is Oracle NetSuite. The company will enable its clients to access the tool using AvidXchange’s SuiteApp within NetSuite’s SuiteCloud platform.

AvidXchange offers a range of payment automation products, which include invoicing, electronic bill payment, accounts payable automation software, purchase order requisitions, and more. The company serves a range of industries, including real estate, construction, financial services, hospitality, healthcare, and more.

Today’s partnership with Wise helps AvidXchange offer its U.S.-based clients an embedded payment experience that creates a more convenient payment process. The integration enables users to pay both domestic and international suppliers, all within the AvidXchange platform. Wise also offers AvidXchange clients more visibility into fees, gains, and losses to help them better control costs and view cash flow.

“Current systems don’t allow businesses to easily send, spend, or receive money internationally,” said Wise Platform Head Steve Naude. “Through our collaboration with AvidXchange, Wise is helping businesses gain access to a faster, more cost-effective and seamless way to manage finances with domestic and international suppliers in multiple currencies and countries. With 50% of transfers sent instantly, always at the mid-market rate, AvidXchange customers can now have confidence knowing they are saving time and money with each transaction.”

With more than 50 bank and business clients, Wise is one of the best-known players in the international remittance market. The London-based company was founded in 2010 with a simple mission: money without borders.

AvidXchange was founded in 2000 and currently processes over $140 billion transactions annually across its network of more than 680,000 suppliers. Despite its long tenure in the space, AvidXchange has only been a public company for a little over a year. The company debuted on the NASDAQ in October of 2021 and currently has a market capitalization of $1.69 billion.

Photo by Cup of Couple


FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley: Fintech in the City of Bridges, Fraud Fighting Goes Dutch, and Making Stock Trading Social


If your company has ever demoed its technology at FinovateEurope, then we’ve got an opportunity for you!

Alumni Alley is our special showcase exclusively for companies that have demoed on stage at FinovateEurope. Held in London at FinovateEurope, March 14-15, Alumni Alley highlights those FinovateEurope alums who are continuing to innovate in areas ranging from payments and lending to regtech and digital banking.

Visit our FinovateEurope Alumni Alley Showcase hub to learn more about this special conference feature for FinovateEurope alums.

Fintech might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Venice, Italy. But the so-called “City of Bridges” was the original home for Finantix, a fintech that emerged on the scene as a developer of software solutions to support client-facing employees in retail banking, wealth management, and financial advisory.

Demoing its Wealth Apps at FinovateEurope 2011, Finantix showed how its technology helped financial advisors move away from paper as their primary “support tool.” Instead Finantix’s technology leveraged tablets, including the iPad, to combine the simplicity of paper with the rich communication and graphic capabilities of new handheld technologies. The company’s offering enhanced all areas of customer engagement for financial advisors, from prospect coordination and client onboarding to client and portfolio management. FinovateEurope audiences were impressed, awarding the software company with a Best of Show award.

Alessandro Tonchia demonstrating Finantix Wealth Apps at FinovateEurope 2011.

Founded in 1994 and acquired by Motive Partners in 2018, Finantix today is the Private Banking Division of InvestCloud (Motive Partners purchased a majority stake in InvestCloud in 2021). InvestCloud offers a no-code software platform for digital transformation and commerce enablement within the financial industry.

In 2020, Finantix introduced new CEO Christine Ciriani. “I am delighted to take up this leadership position at Finantix,” Ciriani said when the appointment was announced. “With an award-winning product offering, our innovative client-first culture and very strong R&D, sales, and delivery teams, we are well positioned to capitalize on the investments made since Motive Partners acquired an interest in the company.”

Netherlands-based BusinessForensics was founded in 2008 and went live in 2010, just one year before the company demoed its technology at the inaugural FinovateEurope in London. A specialist in financial crime fighting, BusinessForensics offers businesses an integrated enterprise suite to help them manage risk, fraud, and compliance. Working with banks and insurance companies, as well as public organizations and government agencies, BusinessForensics helps companies spot fraudulent transactions with real-time monitoring of mission-critical operations. Fully integrated and customizable forensic case management and reporting give firms the ability to easily handle both exceptions and incidents.

More than a decade later, BusinessForensics’ offering, Client Risk Intelligence, consists of four modules – AML and sanctions surveillance, Know Your Customer/Customer Due Diligence (KYC/CDD), Fraud and Risk Surveillance, and Special Investigations – which combine to provide a 360 degree client risk profile.

BusinessForensics Rob van Eerden demonstrating the company’s technology at the first FinovateEurope in 2011.

BusinessForensics was acquired by Munich, Germany-based regtech cleversoft group in the fall of 2020. “To be able to fulfill the increasing regulatory demands (our customers) are confronted with, we wanted to initiate a cooperation with a larger regulatory compliance software provider and also to ignite further growth outside of the Netherlands,” BusinessForensics CEO Tames Rietdijk said. “With cleversoft we found a complimentary match that will help us reach these goals by leveraging their organizational maturity, their customer base, and provide our solutions in the DACH market.”

When StockTwits made its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope 2011, the “community powered idea and information service” for investors and traders had just over 50,000 registered users. Today, the 14-year old company has more than six million registered users on what has become one of the largest social networks for investors and traders.

StockTwits was founded by Howard Lindzon and Soren Macbeth as a way to leverage the fast growing social media app known as Twitter to organize conversations between traders and investors about individual stocks. The company used “cashtags” with the ticker symbols of stocks (as in “$AAPL”) as a way to help index online analysis, opinions, and commentary about individual stocks, making it easier for investors and traders on apps like Twitter to source the information.

Ben Weiss, StockTwits VP of Business Development in 2011, demonstrating the company’s platform at FinovateEurope.

Last year, StockTwits secured $30 million in funding, giving the company a valuation of $210 million. This year, StockTwits launched its crypto trading platform and introduced functionality to enable individual investors and traders to buy and sell equities directly from the StockTwits platform.

“With the addition of equities trading to our existing crypto trading product, the StockTwits platform continues toward bringing a full suite of execution capabilities,” StockTwits CEO Rishi Khanna said when the equities trading functionality was unveiled earlier this year.

Photo by Recal Media


Stablecoin News for the week ending Wednesday 7th December.


Here is our pick of the 3 most important stablecoin stories during the week.

CBDC’s are still marching, but is it Tokenization that is playing the tune. 

This week we saw a number of announcements on further progress being achieved with the many CBDC experiments taking place around the world.  While Crypto burns in the dumpster fire, will it be tokenization of Trad Fi assets that pushes forward and with it a big use case for CBDC’s? 

First, France and Luxembourg have used an experimental central bank digital currency (CBDC) to settle a bond worth 100 million euros (US$104 million), the latest in a series of trials in tokenized financial markets.

The Venus Initiative “shows how digital assets can be issued, distributed and settled within the eurozone, in a single day” and “confirms that a well-designed CBDC can play a critical role in the development of a safe tokenized financial asset space in Europe,” Nathalie Aufauvre, general director of financial stability and operations at Banc de France, the French central bank, said in a statement.

The initiative also involved Goldman Sachs, Santander and Societe Generale as well as the publicly funded European Investment Bank.

France, Luxembourg Test CBDC for 100M Euro Bond Issue (coindesk.com)

Even in war-torn Ukraine, the National Bank is considering an electronic version of the Ukrainian hryvnia that would be able to facilitate the exchange and issuance of virtual assets, among other uses.

The central bank has discussed its vision for an electronic iteration of the country’s sovereign currency, the hryvnia, with representatives of banks, non-banking financial institutions and the crypto market, according to an official press release on Monday. The bank is exploring retail non-cash payments, virtual asset circulation and cross-border transactions as possible applications for a CBDC.

“E-hryvnia can become one of the key elements of qualitative infrastructure development for the virtual-assets market in Ukraine,” the report said.

Ukraine Considering CBDC That Can Facilitate Crypto Trading (coindesk.com)

Meanwhile in London, TP ICAP, the world’s largest interdealer-broker, has registered as a digital-asset provider with the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority as it attempts to break into the crypto world with its Fusion Digital Assets marketplace.

The company, a giant in infrastructure for wholesale markets for traditional finance, is working with custodian Fidelity Digital Assets to offer a platform to match orders and execute spot crypto trades.

“Until now, the wholesale digital-assets market has lacked the credible infrastructure and assurance necessary for [financial market players] to allocate capital,” Duncan Trenholme, co-head of digital assets at TP ICAP Group, said in a statement. “Over time, we believe blockchain will lead to the tokenization of traditional asset classes.”

Interdealer Broker TP ICAP Gains UK Crypto License (coindesk.com)

So in summary, the tokenisation of traditional assets such as Bonds, Securities and even currencies (a stablecoin) by the Trad Fi market who use Central Banks as their regulator and risk management service provider will lead to a must have use case for CBDC’s.  

This is a wholesale only market and as such the politically sensitive retail CBDC can be quietly forgotten.


Alan Scott is an expert in the FX market and has been working in the domain of stablecoins for many years.  

Twitter @Alan_SmartMoney

We have a self imposed constraint of 3 news stories per week because we serve busy senior Fintech leaders who just want succinct and important information.

For context on stablecoins please read this introductory interview with Alan “How stablecoins will change our world” and read articles tagged stablecoin in our archives.


Finovate’s End of Year Wrap Up: 2022


As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to sit back with a fresh cup of tea, look out the window at the falling snow, and…think about what a significant year it’s been for fintech, of course! 

2022 was a turbulent year in our industry. The past year offered real solutions to significant problems unearthed by the pandemic, but also the beginnings of a course-correction that is slowly working its way through the fintech sphere (and the larger tech ecosystem). 

One fundamental aspect of the fintech industry is that it has always been able to hold two diametrically opposed truths at the same time. Right now, both of the following statements are true: 

1) the future of fintech is as bright (or brighter) than it’s ever been, and 

2) there are still more painful situations coming for us in 2023.

Download the last Finovate eMagazine of the year, wrapping up the end of 2022 and looking forward to provide ideas, inspiration and to lay down the gauntlet for 2023. Get access to:

  • Analysis from our resident journalists on the top trends they expect to see making waves in the industry next year
  • Thought leadership from Headline Sponsor, Frost & Sullivan on how to protect and improve customer financial wellness amidst economic uncertainty 
  • The full collection of Finovate 2022 Best of Show demos videos
  • Expert opinion on accelerating your data strategy, getting the most out of fintech/ bank partnerships, why crypto is “useless” and investor advice for start-ups looking to get funding right now


Listen: How treasurers, CFOs can de-risk idle cash through automation


Company treasurers and chief financial officers are worried about access to cash and the risks associated with keeping cash on hand amid drastic changes to the investment market during the past six months that have followed the pandemic, stimulus payments and rising inflation. “Everything you knew about investing, which really means zero rates on cash […]


Bank Automation Summit US 2023 announces tech, strategy tracks


Bank Automation Summit U.S 2023 is pleased to offer attendees the opportunity of a customized conference experience featuring two engaging tracks to choose from: Advanced Technology and Advanced Strategy.

Photo by Whitney McDonald/Bank Automation News

The Summit will take place March 2-3 in Charlotte, N.C., at the Westin Charlotte. See the full agenda here.

The two tracks of sessions will take place concurrently. The Advanced Technology track will include panel discussions — with executives from KeyBank, BankUnited and more — on innovations in business intelligence and strategies for addressing legacy core systems. Panelists will dive into:

  • Strategies for pushing legacy systems to their limits;
  • How to transition to new applications; and
  • A review of business intelligence use cases.

The Advanced Strategy track will feature panel discussions on automation operations and topics including:

  • Balancing automation and human capital;
  • How to pitch senior management on transformation initiatives; and
  • Technical imperatives.

Learn more about the event here and register here.


BMO invests in tech modernization


Bank of Montreal (BMO) is looking to modernize its technology stack by investing in cloud architecture and tech talent.  WHY IT MATTERS: The $805 billion bank saw a 4% year-over-year bump in expenses due to “higher employee costs and technology investments,” Tayfun Tuzun, chief financial officer at BMO, said during the bank’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings […]


UK legislation to force shared hubs


LONDON — The U.K. government is stepping in to ensure continuity of bank services for isolated communities and vulnerable, elderly or financially excluded customers with its new access to cash legislation, which is part of its imminent Financial Services and Markets Bill. Bank branches are still needed for legacy non-digital banking customers, “but less often […]


Wells Fargo Launches New Digital Banking Platform Vantage for Commercial and Corporate Clients

  • Wells Fargo launched a new digital banking platform, Vantage, for commercial, corporate, and investment banking.
  • Vantage leverages AI and machine learning to deliver more personalized recommendations and actionable insights based on clients’ unique needs.
  • The new offering comes as part of Wells Fargo’s digital transformation efforts, which include the launch of a new consumer mobile banking app earlier this year.

The new digital banking platform from Wells Fargo, called Vantage, is an upgrade of the bank’s Commercial Electronic Office, or CEO Portal. The new offering is designed to give Wells Fargo’s commercial, corporate, and investment banking clients a more personalized experience by leveraging AI and machine learning. Vantage uses both enabling technologies to provide recommendations and actionable insights based on the specific needs of clients, and refines and improves its capacity for personalization as clients use the technology.

“Our Commercial and Corporate clients’ banking needs evolve over time, which is why we’re delighted to launch Vantage, a digital banking platform that simplifies and personalizes their experience so that they can stay focused on what’s most important – growing and improving their businesses,” Wells Fargo’s Reetika Grewal said. Grewal is the head of Digital for Commercial Banking and Corporate & Investment Banking clients.

Wells Fargo’s launch of Vantage is being billed as part of the institution’s overall digital transformation efforts. These efforts include the introduction of a revamped consumer mobile app — featuring a virtual assistant called Fargo — announced in October and launched earlier this year. The new Fargo-enabled app is able to handle a variety of basic banking tasks, including billpay and sending money, as well as provide transaction details and budgeting advice. This week’s Vantage announcement also arrives in the wake of Wells Fargo’s launch of its automated, same-day loan solution, Flex Loan.

Wells Fargo has approximately 27 million active mobile banking users, trailing rivals Bank of America, with more than 32 million active mobile banking users, and JP Morgan Chase, with more than 44 million such customers, as of Q3 of last year. Further, Wells Fargo is growing its mobile banking customers at a slower pace compared to Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, according to company statements published by CNBC.com.

That said, customers appear to be happy with their Wells Fargo mobile banking experience. The bank’s app came in third place in the Touchpoint Group Engaged Customer Score (ECS) banking app performance rankings for banks in the U.S. – trailing Bank of America and top-rated Citi Bank, but ranking ahead of Chase. Touchpoint Group highlighted Wells Fargo’s app upgrade as a potential source of the app’s strong rating.

Photo by Adrien Olichon


5 questions with … Sunrise Banks’ CIO Brett Cooksey


Sunrise Banks Chief Information Officer Brett Cooksey is focused on digitization, strategic fintech partnerships and automation for improved customer experience.

The $1.96 billion bank counts more than a dozen fintech partners, including credit builder solution Self and document automation platform Anvil. The bank has “several more partnerships in mind,” Cooksey said.

Bank Automation News recently caught up with Cooksey to discuss Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.-based Sunrise Banks’ digitization strategy. What follows is an edited version of that conversation.

Brett Cooksey, CIO, Sunrise Banks

Bank Automation News: How have you prioritized digitization?

Brett Cooksey: Digitization is one of Sunrise’s highest priorities. We are in the last innings of our core system migration to our vendor’s hosted platform. We are in tandem moving our infrastructure to the Microsoft Azure cloud in order to modernize our infrastructure, increase our resiliency, and benefit from the software industry’s shift to cloud investments in products and services. We are implementing a new digital commercial loan origination system.

BAN: What is the bank’s fintech partnership strategy?

BC: Mission alignment is the most important consideration. We are a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Certified B Corporation and member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. We strive to be the most innovative bank empowering financial wellness and want our partners to share our belief in values-based banking. We look for innovative partners that can help us offer affordable and accessible products that support consumers and their communities.

Secondarily, financial viability of the fintech is important. Since they are taking Sunrise banking capabilities to the market, we are responsible for their customers’ experience and the fintech’s ability to maintain our standards and levels of customer service.

We are partnering with several fintechs and have even more potential partnerships in mind.

One example is our collaboration with Self, which offers small credit builder accounts for people who want to build or re-establish their credit. In 2021, Sunrise helped originate 262,995 Self Credit Builder loans for a total of $189.9 million. The average loan size was $722.

BAN: What role does automation play in your approach to digitization?

BC: Automation is a key component but, more importantly, understanding the end-to-end process versus siloed automation leads us to better outcomes. We work with our users to understand their function and activities within the overall process. Once defined, we review with a broader group and our business leadership to better align the digitization with strategic direction. Automation enables our users to handle far more volume by only focusing on exceptions and customer service versus mundane, repeatable tasks.

BAN: Which technologies are you excited for in 2023?

BC: The vendor landscape has pivoted from platforms to ecosystems. Software development kits, fintech development environments and marketplaces are available on most major vendor platforms. With our cloud and core migration projects wrapping up in 2023, we are already exploring opportunities to leverage out-of-the-box integrations with fintechs, strategic partnerships and even publishing our own developed capabilities.

BAN: How would you describe your leadership strategy?

BC: Hire the best, allow them to bring their experience to bear and level up the incumbent team. Clear the path to decision-making and accept that making decisions is more important than being right. But if you learn something new, don’t hesitate to change direction. And if you do fail, make sure you learn.

Bank Automation Summit US 2023, taking place March 2-3 in Charlotte, is a crucial event on automation and automation technology in banking. Learn more and register for Bank Automation Summit US 2023.


Temenos sees surge in global cloud adoption


Core provider Temenos is growing its international footprint as more financial institutions (FIs) turn to its microservices and API-powered technology amid increasing cloud adoption.   Temenos’ expansion in areas like the Middle East is largely due to FIs integrating cloud architecture — a departure from traditional banking norms in the region, Robert Wint, senior product director […]


The Four Ps of Analytics Financial Services Organizations Can’t Do Without


This is a sponsored post by Tim FitzGerald, EMEA Financial Services Sales Manager, InterSystems

The use of analytics within the financial services sector has evolved over the years, with some suggesting that it could be about to evolve even further, moving from a landscape where decisions are “data-dictated”, rather than “data-informed.”

There is a distinct difference between the two concepts and the role, or lack of, that humans play in each scenario. In the case of data-informed, humans remain in the loop to make decisions and take the appropriate actions based on data and analytics, whereas data-dictated refers to applications executing programmatic actions automatically in response to some stimulus or event.

So, are financial services organisations really at a point today where human insight is no longer a vital requirement of the decision-making process and are there really just two types of data-related decision-making at play? In short, no. But it’s not completely black and white, as discussed in a recent Economist Intelligence webinar. Instead of just two options, today’s financial services firms typically implement four different categories of analytics: panoramic, predictive, prescriptive, and programmatic. Depending on the use case and the organisation, each of these types of analytics provide businesses with immense value.

Panoramic, predictive, prescriptive, and programmatic

Firstly, panoramic is about providing the business with a real time, accurate, expansive view of what’s happening inside and even outside the organization. For financial services, that might be the real-time liquidity across an entire firm.

Predictive, on the other hand, calculates the probability that events are likely to occur. For example, what’s the probability the Bank of England will cut interest rates if inflation pressures ease, as has been mooted, and how will this impact the firm’s positions?

Prescriptive analytics analyzes data to suggest the most appropriate actions to take, based on what is likely to occur, or what is already happening. This type of analytics would allow an investment bank for example to continuously predict the probability that their total market exposure will breach their risk utilization limits. With the right data and analytics platform in place, firms can also obtain prescriptive guidance that presents various options they can take to prevent or eliminate a breach, with the expected outcomes and trade-offs associated with each option.

These insights allow risk managers, who tend to have extensive experience in handling these kinds of situations, to make decisions based on their experiences, and guided by data-driven prescriptive analytics. For instance, it can help them to determine whether to initiate a hedge or unwind some positions. Prescriptive analytics therefore ensures experienced experts remain in the loop and at the heart of decision-making, rather than actions happening programmatically.

The final of the four Ps is about executing real time programmatic actions based on predictive and prescriptive analytics. Often, programmatic analytics are employed when there’s no time for human intervention, for cases like fraud prevention, pre-trade analytics, trading, and customer next-best action. Programmatic actions are also deployed in use cases when there’s simply no need for a human to be in the loop, which allows the organization to streamline operations and improve productivity.

Pragmatic application of the four Ps

Consequently, rather than moving away from a data-informed (human in the loop) to data-dictated (no human in the loop) state, the financial services sector is instead opting for the pragmatic application of any or all of these four Ps of analytics.

This use of analytics is providing firms with the capabilities needed to gain a 360-degree view of enterprise data, delivering a wide range of benefits to the business including better compliance, increased revenue generation, and improved decision support. When financial business leaders are empowered by real-time data and analytics, they are able to make decisions based on accurate and current data, not data that is weeks old, thereby eliminating errors and missed business opportunities.

Additionally, by incorporating advanced analytics into real-time processes flows, dashboards, and reporting, businesses can obtain better insights to guide decision-making, helping to understand what happened, why it happened, and what is likely to happen.

Armed with a current, trusted, and comprehensive view of what’s happening in the moment ensures financial services firms are prepared for events and disruptions that are likely to occur, can manage events and disruptions faster as they arise, and are in the best position to take advantage of new opportunities as they present themselves.

Photo by David Pisnoy on Unsplash


TD Bank invests in digital offerings, tech talent


TD Bank reported an increase in technology and employee-related expenses to meet growth within its digital channels during the bank’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday.  WHY IT MATTERS: The $1.4 trillion TD Bank attributed the year-over-year rise in non-interest expenses to its “strategic investments in our people, in technology and in new capabilities in our […]


National Bank of Canada invests in technology, talent in Q4


National Bank of Canada (NBC) is set to continue its digital innovation strategy through hiring technology-focused talent.  “We will continue to invest in our people, focus on deepening our client relationships, capitalize on our momentum in digital innovation and leverage our collaborative models to drive growth across the country in the years to come,” Chief […]


FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley: Backbase Rebrands, Boku Booms, and Securekey Finds Opportunity in Acquisition


This week we began our celebration of FinovateEurope’s earliest alums. In honor of FinovateEurope’s Alumni Alley Showcase – a new feature designed to highlight the innovations of FinovateEurope alums – we’re highlighting the companies that introduced their innovations to Finovate’s European audience more than a decade ago – and are still among the top innovators in fintech today.

Visit our FinovateEurope Alumni Alley Showcase hub to learn more about this special opportunity for FinovateEurope alums.

Founded in 2003, Backbase has been demonstrating its fintech innovations on the Finovate stage for more than a decade. Making its Finovate debut at FinovateEurope in 2011, the company made its most recent on-stage appearance at FinovateFall in 2021, demoing the Backbase Engagement Banking Platform. In that ten years, the Amsterdam-based company was awarded Best of Show on four occasions, including three from the company’s demos at our conferences in London.

From its origins as a Bank 2.0 innovator, helping banks take advantage of the growing consumer interest in online and mobile banking, to its current incarnation as an Engagement Banking specialist, Backbase has demonstrated a consistent mission of enabling FIs to turn emerging technologies into opportunities for better customer service and engagement. The company’s official rebrand this fall only underscores much of what Backbase has been about all along.

Backbase founder and CEO introducing Backbase’s technology at FinovateEurope 2011.

“Our proven growth model has brought us to where we are today and it’s time to evolve our branding to reflect that growth,” Backbase founder and CEO Jouk Pleiter said. “Backbase is the innovation partner enabling traditional banks and credit unions to take the leap into the platform era, and we’re just getting started.”

Most recently, Backbase announced an expanded relationship with Boston, Massachusetts-based Eastern Bank ($22 billion in assets). The institution deployed Backbase-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Backbase’s Engagement Banking Platform to enable it to offer new digital banking solutions.

When Finovate audiences first met Boku at FinovateEurope 2011, the San Francisco-based company had 60 employees and $40 million in equity funding. Today, the direct mobile payments company is a publicly traded entity with more than 300 employees and a market capitalization of more than $390 million. Boku processes more than nine billion in payments every year, and includes some of the largest digital brands – from Google and Spotify to Netflix and Microsoft – as customers of what it bills as the largest mobile payments network in the world.

Boku founder Mark Britto demonstrating the company’s mobile payment technology at FinovateEurope 2011.

Boku was among the fintechs to recognize early on the potential mobile payments had to bring financial services to un- and underbanked consumers that owned mobile phones, but did not own credit cards or traditional bank accounts that would enable them to participate in online commerce. The company launched mobile wallet payments in the Philippines in 2012, brought mobile payments to Sony’s PlayStation Store in 2014 and, in 2020, acquired the Estonia-based carrier billing company Fortumo for $41 million.

This fall, Boku announced that it will supply Amazon.com with its digital wallet and other local payment methods as part of a new, multi-year agreement. Boku CEO Jon Prideaux said that the partnership helped reinforce the company’s “strategic move” into digital wallet payments.

More than ten years after SecureKey won Best of Show at FinovateEurope 2011 for its authentication technology that leveraged contactless cards to streamline the online checkout process, the Toronto, Ontario-based company announced that it had agreed to be acquired by NortonLifeLock’s digital security and privacy firm, Avast.

SecureKey CEO Greg Wolfond demoing the company’s technology at FinovateEurope in 2011.

“SecureKey’s vision has been to revolutionize the way consumers and organizations approach identity and the sharing of personal information in the digital age,” SecureKey CEO Greg Wolfond said when the acquisition was announced this spring. “By working closely with governments, financial institutions, and businesses, we have an established track record of trusted and mature identity networks that provide consumers with the secure digital capabilities they deserve.”

SecureKey’s digital identity technology enables more than 200 million secure transactions a year internationally. Prior to the acquisition, SecureKey also had made major inroads in helping organizations and institutions, including governments, embrace modern authentication technologies. The company’s Verified.Me distributed digital identity verification network and Government Sign-In by Verified.Me provide secure and convenient login options to hundreds of government services and applications online. Both authentication services are provided by Interac under an exclusive Canadian licensing agreement.

Photo by Chris Panas


Finastra Integrates Clinc’s Conversational AI into its Digital Banking Platform

  • Finastra and Clinc have partnered to integrate Clinc’s conversational AI technology into Finastra’s Fusion Digital Banking platform.
  • Finastra will offer its 8,600 financial instiution clients access to Clinc’s AI virtual assistants to help mitigate the load on call centers while providing quality answers to end users.
  • Finastra was founded in 2017 as a merger between Misys and D+H.

Financial software company Finastra has tapped conversational AI fintech Clinc this week. The two have partnered to integrate Clinc’s Virtual Banking Assistant technology into Finastra’s Fusion Digital Banking platform. 

The added capabilities will enable Finastra’s 8,600 financial institution clients to increase digital engagement with their customers. Clinc’s Virtual Banking Assistant helps banks manage common banking requests through different channels, which ultimately helps reduce the volume of calls into the call center.

Clinc was founded in 2015 to build what it calls a “human-in-the-room” level of virtual assistant powered by AI technology and machine learning. The company’s solution understands natural language and leverages elements from the user’s inquiry– such as wording, sentiment, intent, tone of voice, time of day, location, and relationships– to craft an answer that is not only human-like, but also useful in answering the original question.

“We are incredibly pleased to be able to offer our AI solution to banks in collaboration with Finastra, whose FusionFabric.cloud platform is viewed around the world as a leading financial technology ecosystem,” said Clinc CEO Jon Newhard. “Our Virtual Banking Assistant, which can be integrated seamlessly as part of a digital transformation strategy, enables financial institutions to engage customers efficiently but without losing the personal touch. This is vital in an era when increasing numbers of consumers are demanding authentic and intuitive experiences from chatbots.”

Clinc’s technology will be available in Finastra’s FusionFabric.cloud, a marketplace that helps financial services firms find pre-built, ready-to-integrate apps into their Finastra products. Since launching in 2017, FusionFabric.cloud has had 566 customers sign up and has helped form more than 153 partnerships.

“Financial institutions worldwide will benefit from increased access to Clinc’s innovative chatbot technology,” said Finastra Chief Product Officer, Universal Banking Narendra Mistry. “Understanding how real people talk and interact is critical as banks and credit unions work to ensure that the customer experience remains strong while embracing new technologies. We’re delighted to welcome Clinc to our technology ecosystem, and for Finastra’s customers to be able to easily offer conversational AI as part of their digital strategy.”

Finastra was founded in 2017 as a merger between Misys and D+H. The latter acquired Mortgagebot in 2011 for $232 million. Mortgagebot was among the first companies to demo at a Finovate event. The company won Best of Show at FinovateFall 2007. Finastra’s technology spans lending, payments, treasury and capital markets, and universal banking. The U.K.-based company counts 90 of the world’s top 100 banks as clients.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán


Canadian Cross Border Payments Innovator Buckzy Raises Series A Funding

  • Canadian real-time cross border payments company Buckzy has raised $14.5 million in Series A funding.
  • The investment was led by Mistral Venture Partners and Uncorrelated Ventures, and featured participation from new investors Luge Capital and Blue 9 Capital, as well as existing investor Revel Partners.
  • Buckzy made its Finovate debut in 2019 at FinovateFall.

In a round led by Mistral Venture Partners and Uncorrelated Ventures, Canada-based real-time, cross border payments company Buckzy has secured $14.5 million in Series A funding. Valuation information was not immediately available. This week’s investment takes the company’s total equity funding to more than $23 million, according to Crunchbase.

“This round of financing is a validation of Buckzy’s vision to create an intelligent and automated international payment system,” Buckzy CEO Abdul Naushad said. “We’re on a mission to build the plumbing for real-time money movement globally, the same way high-speed internet fundamentally shifted the communications industry.”

New investors Luge Capital and Blue 9 Capital, and existing investor Revel Partners, also participated in the round. Luge Capital General Partner Karim Gillani will join Buckzy’s board as an advisor.

Buckzy offers real-time, cross border payments and Banking-as-a-Service capabilities via an embedded finance platform. The platform offers multi-currency bank accounts, local settlement accounts, and real-time FX quoting and booking. A licensed money transfer company, Buckzy has signed up more than 140 bank, neobank, and fintech customers since going live with its platform in 2020.

Calling the cross-border payments market a $150 trillion market globally – and one that is still underserved – Mistral Ventures Partners Managing Director Code Cubitt praised Buckzy for its ability to deliver “a much better customer experience, more automation, and lightning-fast payments.” Cubitt said the company had “the right blend of experience, expertise, and insight to build the next generation of cross border payments.”

Buckzy’s funding news comes at the same time that the company announced the appointment of Seema Rai Nair as VP of Customer Success and Network Expansion. Nair will be responsible for growing the company’s partnership network of banks, fintechs, ecommerce platforms, and other financial service providers.

“Demand for real-time and near real-time international payment services is rising around the world, and companies are increasingly turning to alternative providers such as Buckzy to address their need for fast, secure international payments,” Nair said in a statement.

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Buckzy was founded in 2018. The company made its Finovate debut at FinovateFall in New York the following year.

Photo by Andre Furtado


X1 Card Raises $15 Million, Adds In-App Stock Purchasing

  • Challenger credit card X1 has raised $15 million, bringing its total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Along with today’s announcement, X1 is also unveiling a new in-app stock investing tool that will enable cardholders to purchase stocks using points.
  • X1 will use the funds to fuel growth and roll out new services for its members.

Challenger credit card X1 has raised $15 million this week. The funds bring the company’s Series B round to $40 million and elevate its total funds to more than $60 million. The investment was led by Soma Capital and included contributions from Brian Kelly (The Points Guy) and Kyle Vogt.

While the self-described smart credit card did not provide an exact valuation, the company said that today’s round increases X1’s total valuation by more than 50% over where it stood four months ago, when the company raised $25 million in Series B funding.

X1 will use the funds to fuel growth and roll out new services for its members. One such new feature is X1’s new investing platform that enables cardholders to buy stocks in the X1 app using their rewards points. X1 will guide investors by recommending stocks based on the cardholder’s spending habits, risk preferences, investment goals, income, and time horizon. The new capability will begin rolling out to select cardholders in the coming weeks.

The company said in the press release that it has future plans to expand the stock purchasing features “to compete with more traditional investment options.” Based on this, we can expect features common to Acorns and Robinhood such as spare change investing and automatic investment deposits.

For a card with no annual fee, X1’s rewards are hard to beat. The company offers cardholders 2x points on every dollar spent, 3x points on every dollar spent for the year if transactions exceed $15,000, and 4x points on each dollar for one month of purchases for each referral. X1 has paid out more than $10 million in rewards points since exiting its beta last October.

“With X1, we want to build an iconic and enduring consumer finance brand in an industry that’s long overdue for disruption,” said X1 CEO and Co-founder Deepak Rao. “We’re honored by the reception our card has continued to receive and to have raised this funding from Soma Capital, an early investor in more than 20 unicorns. With our innovative new investing platform, we’re excited to reimagine yet another sector in the consumer financial market.”

Outside of its rewards structure, X1 has other unique features that help differentiate itself in the crowded credit card market. The company has a stainless steel card and offers users virtual card numbers that they can set to expire on a specified date in order to avoid forgetting a subscription or a free trial period. The former automatically expires after one use, while the latter automatically expires 24 hours after it is activated.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio