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6 Standout Fintechs at Finovate 2019

September 25, 2019

 

InterGen Data was recently mentioned in American Banker. The original article, "6 standout fintechs at Finovate 2019" can be found https://www.americanbanker.com/news/six-standout-fintechs-at-finovate-2019

 

The 75 companies that gave seven-minute demos at the technology conference Finovate Fall in New York this week all had practical, well-thought-out products. Here are six companies that stood out, either for the strength of their ideas or the fulfillment of their vision, as well as a handful of other notable mentions, including two companies that help consumers confront uncomfortable realities about managing their finances as they age.

 

MX Technologies 

Brandon Dewitt, cofounder and chief technology officer, demonstrated the company’s two new products — MX Enabled and Pulse — and explained its idealistic philosophy.

MX has 30 million users and 2,000 financial institution customers. It provides data aggregation, data cleansing and data insights that can be used to help consumers better manage their finances.

 

The new Pulse product is a news feed of sorts that flags matters customers might want to attend to, such as spending overages or redundant subscriptions. 

 

“When we rolled this out internally at MX, one person found out he had three Netflix subscriptions in his family, so he thought the software was broken until he drilled in, and found out it was true,” Dewitt said during his presentation.

 

MX Enabled is a community of fintechs, including MX rivals, that the company is putting together to collaborate on consumer solutions. Dewitt drew an analogy to the medical world, where collaboration has led to improvements in treatment. 

 

“Three and a half years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer — I had metastatic cancer throughout my lungs and the rest of my body,” Dewitt said. “The project that ended up saving my life started a decade before that. Researchers and scientists in pharmaceutical companies came together in a unified data platform to analyze genetic mutations of tumors in cancer patients and to collaborate and distribute innovation and experimentation. That yielded the chemo and immunotherapy I’m on today. My initial prognosis was 90 days, and I’m alive three and a half years later because people chose to come together and collaborate from the innovation side.”

 

Some of the fintechs that have signed up for MX Enabled, including Personetics and Kasisto, are competitors of MX as well as partners. But Dewitt says that is no contradiction if one has an enlightened view of competition. 

 

“In business there are industries people call a zero-sum game — there has to be a winner and a loser,” Dewitt said during a follow-up interview. “In a recent town hall, I said we have to elevate our thinking, change our mindsets because this is not true of the human endeavor. The human endeavor is an ever-increasing pie, and the more you do to increase the pie, the more we push the cutting edge of what can be done, and we need to be almost strictly focused on that.”

 

The end goal for Dewitt is to improve people’s lives. 

 

“Part of it is because I have stage 4 cancer, and I’m way more worried about legacy than I am worried about how do we build a company that makes a ton of money,” he said. 

 

Breach Clarity

In a sign of the times, Jim Van Dyke, the founder of Javelin Strategy & Research, and Al Pascual, who until recently was president of Javelin, have formed a company to help Americans recover from the theft of their personal data.

 

“In a typical day, in the U.S. alone, there are nearly four publicly reported data breaches,” Van Dyke said. “These breaches create identity theft and fraud, of which there’s $15 billion worth in the U.S. each year.”

 

Banks face the challenge of trying to help large numbers of victims, and they also struggle to get customers to turn on card controls, two-factor authentication and other safety features.

 

Breach Clarity aims to address both problems. Breach Clarity provides consumers information on data breaches, including a Richter scale-like score of how bad a breach was, the risks that it poses and the steps a consumer should take to mitigate those risks. “The customer is not stupid or unmotivated, they just lack breach clarity — that’s why they don't take action,” Van Dyke said.

 

Banks that sign up can give their customers a link to more detailed information about breaches and what they should do about them. Direct actions include freezing a card or turning on two-factor authentication for their mobile banking app. 

 

“It improves customer experience, makes the relationship more sticky, [and] it also helps to lower cost for the bank,” Pascual said. 

 

Pinkaloo 

Unsual name aside, Pinkaloo has developed a timely product for consumers. 

Its software helps people find charities they care about, securely donate to any charity in the country and collaborate with other donors. It can automate giving — a user could set aside $50 a month and allocate the accumulated funds to charities later — and generate tax receipts. The product can be embedded in banks’ apps and online banking. 

 

“We initially built this with idealistic millennials in mind,” CEO and co-founder Gideon Taub said. “We’ve been amazed since we launched in 2017 by the adoption by Gen X, midcareer people who are already giving actively, itemizing tax receipts and looking for an easier and simpler way to manage giving.”

 

Finscend 

According to Finscend CEO and cofounder Aaron Lazor, the McKinsey & Co. reports that the top 15 U.S. banks will spend nearly $3 billion a year on credit card disputes. 

“This number is not getting any better — it’s getting worse as the number of credit card transactions increases, as well as the disputes related to those transactions,” Lazor said. 

 

Finscend provides a workflow for credit card disputes where cardholders fill out a short form about their complaints, attaching purchase receipts and other documents. Finscend’s predictive scoring engine, which uses artificial intelligence technology, analyzes complaints and makes a preliminary determination about who is in the right.

 

Wise 

The only challenger bank at Finovate this year, Wise demonstrated its digital banking services for small-business owners. It pays 2% on its checking account. It offers an integrated card reader and real-time payments. Wise works with BBVA and Stripe. It plans to offer loans in the future. 

 

"They have a good vision for not only basic banking services but also how they're going to look at adjacent services, like tax help and receivables management," said Susan French, head of product at BBVA Open Platform. "The secret to success is not just offering a banking account and card." Small businesses as well as gig-economy and contract workers could find it appealing to have all the services they need packaged together, she said.

 

Arm Insight 

The company organizes customer data and performs a one-way hash on all personally identifiable information. It can analyze customer behavior and cardholder engagement. It can be used by compliance officials, product people and executives for decision-making. It can also be used to sell anonymous data to others.

 

Other takeaways

Most intriguing (but dark) product: NTT Data’s Mirror application prepares consumers for a future when they cannot make decisions for themselves due to illness or dementia. Using AI, the application creates a copy of the person’s digital persona, including their lifestyle, hobbies and financial choices. It takes cues from questions the person answers as well as their social media activity. 

 

Second-most intriguing (but still dark) product: InterGen Data uses data and analytics to predict life events for marketing purposes. But it really goes there, estimating at what ages a customer is likely to get cancer, depression, or divorced; what these events would cost; and how much of a dent they would put in a customer’s cash flow. 

 

Biggest theme: Real-time payments. Several companies, including Payfi, Linked2pay, Exela, Checkalt, Evident and Buckzy, offer products that take advantage of new real-time payment systems in the U.S. like RTP and make them accessible to consumers, merchants and banks.

 

Mini-theme: College research. Both Edmit and College Aid Pro give banks a tool to help parents and students research the schools that offer the right mix of student aid, scholarships and future earning potential. The goal is helping students avoid crushing student loan debt.

 

Grace under pressure: Finovate emcee Greg Palmer was hit with a 10-minute technical delay Monday afternoon. He told jokes and stories, made the time pass quickly and was a case study in being an unflappable emcee.

 

 

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