Welcome to our blog, live from the front row at Finovate Spring 2019. We’ll be sharing observations and notes on some of the hottest companies in fintech.
This time around I’m on my own, but our friends at William Mills Agency are with us in spirit.
If you’ve visited this blog before you know that we’ve been attending and writing about Finovate for years. We’ve seen scrappy startups become the dominant players in sectors they practically invented.
The format for the demos remain the same: 7 minutes to show us what you got. And. Not. A. Second. Longer. If you go over, you literally get the gong, and then your mike is cut. Usually happens to at least a few lucky ones every year.
And here are the highlights:
In the mortgage process, the relationship between the lender and the real estate agent is critical. Agents can be a source of valuable referrals over time. The Nest Hawk product helps to manage this borrower relationship. For the loan officer, they stay engaged in the home search process. It reduces the prospect that a competing lender will get a foot in the door as the potential borrower views real estate and MLS sites.
Employees can get instant access to credit and other financial products via their workplace. Looks like a digital wallet that enables you to aggregate products from different providers. For the bank, it offers a new audience and simpler onboarding. They are promoting an idea of Banking as a Benefit.
Strands and Mastercard joint presentation
Cashflow is critical to small business. Strands is working with MC to provide digital tools and reporting. They have integrations with common small biz platforms, like Quickbooks. Opens up the possibility to see invoices, for example. This could lead to a new bank offering for invoice factoring. Machine learning helps to create a forward-looking cashflow projection. SMB really need this kind of tool, so this is one to check out.
Identity verification globally in 70 countries, delivered via an API. It is based on 400 data sources. They don’t own or store the data, just provide data conduit for KYC and AML. This is a critical need in banking, but is also relevant anywhere identity verification is needed (which is pretty much everywhere!) Integration of the API is very simple.
Financial planning for mass consumer market. This offering is tough to cost-effectively provide for people with lower incomes or level of investable assets. The advice provided is from a robo advisor tuned to this particular audience.
Shout out to a local, here’s a San Francisco based company. The company analyzes unstructured text data to be able to make better consumer credit assessments. As you may know, Beyond the Arc has worked with text analytics for almost 10 years. It is exciting to see this technology into more market-ready products. The company has already applied for 30 patents on their tech. The idea of alternative data for credit scoring makes a lot of sense. Time to enter the modern age!
The focus is on increasing digital adoption, both bank employees and customers. Very practical need, and they are working with a long list of FIs.
The product helps stop overdrafts. While it may mean less fee income for banks, it could well mean greater retention and loyalty. I think that has to be the value proposition for an FI. Doxo provides real-time tracking of consumer payments. There is an opportunity for banks to play a greater role in the biller experience and add new features to bill pay.
This is a bank offering for Gen Z. They are working with Plaid on the backend. This is not a conventional checking account, and it isn’t just peer-to-peer payments. Payclub is an interesting combination of features targeted to Gen Z. They have 6500 accounts based on 40 college campuses. That’s good traction for an early stage company.
Everfi started with an emphasis on financial education, particularly for high school students. Now, they see the need to support internal bank learning programs.
Corporate cards for freelancers (and employees). The cards have additional company controls. A streamlined process reduces the complexity of employee reimbursements. The company can create a virual card, and set the limit and expiration date. This is tied into MasterCard and Visa via API. They are using existing virtual card engines. This is a very practical offering that is helpful for small business. I like the idea of issuing an ad hoc card, for an employee that doesn’t need a card on a regular basis.
There’s a lot of discussion about designing new experiences for financial services. It isn’t always clear how to do that. Flybits has a no-code application builder or “experience builder”. You can create multiple experiences, and tailor them to specific audience segments or CX personas. The demo makes this process seem very simple. Very compelling!
Unfortunately, breach incidents are increasingly common. But for most companies, responses are inconsistent and ad hoc. The platform enables you to develop a digital playbook of responses. And as you gather key learnings, you can keep those plans easily updated. I like the rigorous thinking behind this solution, it addresses a real need in a practical way. And it isn’t just a plan, it seems to be a project management tool for cyber incidents.
They bill themselves as a data-linking company. They’ve raised over $100 million in funding. They have a platform for SMB intelligence, but the core offering is via API. They use official data sources, as opposed to for example social media. They say they can discover and find information that other providers can’t. For example, I can see they leverage UCC information. They can connect people to the business (for example, the business owner). This info can be used for targeted prospects. This is definitely worth a closer look, and perhaps a pilot project!
Instead of buying toys, how about a gift that contributes to a young person’s future college education? The mobile app makes gifting easy, and integration via Plaid enables you to fund from an existing bank account.
The focus of the company is registered email contracts, to close contracts on the go. The product helps you track interactions with your customers. They use photo selfies to assist in the authentication process. There is an appeal to using email, it is simple. But, I would be concerned with potential for phishing. Would like to hear more about how they prevent against that.
They help customers to switch banks, moving over direct deposit and recurring payments. This is definitely a sign of the times. When the market isn’t growing, you have to focus on picking up market share. They use account aggregation to gain info from the old account. There seems to be a couple of steps, but it is much simpler than the consumer to doing it all on their own. There is a demo of the product available online.
BioMetric Signature ID
Very interesting combination of password + biometrics. So you have a password, but they also track how you write it. Actually, you draw the password using a simple web form or desktop app. The biometrics can also be used for e-sign applications. They also have a product that ties the biometric solution to real world ID, which you link by taking a picture with your smartphone. They mention having 200 deployments over 2.5 years across multiple industry verticals.
Your company wants digital, your customers want a human touch, can these be reconciled? Voca has developed a “speech to intent” algorithm that enables conversational banking. The interaction with the AI sounds pretty good. The voice does sound natural. They state that the AI can respond with empathy, and learn over time. They can implement a 4-week pilot.
The demo showed their FIST dashboard, fistscore.com. This is an integrated set of financial calculators backed up by algorithms they’ve created. The tool also provides advice based on your scores.
And it is a wrap! Check back tomorrow for Day 2 updates.
About today’s blog team:
Steven Ramirez is CEO of Beyond the Arc, Inc. Harnessing data science and deep marketing expertise, he and his team deliver customer experience solutions driven by analytics and strategic communications. Their work includes initiatives at a Top 5 US bank where they directly improved customer communications across 30+ lines of business. One of our specialties is helping financial services clients create rapid wins through intensive data strategy and improved customer engagement.