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Standing Out from the (Vaccinated) Finovate Crowd

Standing Out from the (Vaccinated) Finovate Crowd

The Finovate crew did an impressive job of bringing their winning formula of seven-minute live demos back into a live New York City setting in mid-September. By my visual estimate 300-400 vaccinated and judiciously spaced attendees were in the Marriott Marquis ballroom at any given time. According to Finovate roughly equal numbers logged in remotely, and roughly a thousand participants attended the three-day event in person.

A handful of the 70 demos were presented digitally as well, to mixed effect. Overall, however, the quality of financial technology on display was at least as high as I’ve observed in past years. It’s as if some of these companies had saved their best pitches for a bigger splash than a Zoom panel would allow.  Mission accomplished.

Finovate bestows Best of Show awards based purely on audience vote. Nine demoing companies took home such trophies this cycle. You’ll find the list here; the diverse crowd of bankers, investors and fintech zealots can blend to deliver some unpredictable results (I usually agree with about half). My focus is on the solutions that resonate with me- with bonus points for those I see as a particularly good credit union fit. Here’s a partial recap of some of those standouts:    

ASA Financial has created a “fintech app store for banking,” and came to market integrated with Jack Henry/Symitar following two years in stealth mode. I was totally unaware of ASA’s loose connection with BIG (they’ve presented on our CU Digital Town Hall) until I had already flagged them as a potential favorite. Although others are also pursuing the app store model (Q2, Finzly), ASA aims to create a revenue share for FIs in exchange for fintechs’ access to data and customers, while also generating referrals for FIs.    

FinGoal’ s new LinkMoney product aims to serve as an “open banking enabler,” making linking accounts and data flows more interoperable, clarifying a 360 degree view of the end user in the process. Founder David Nohe argues that an unintended consequence of fintech marketplaces is excessive data aggregation and administration. LinkMoney intends to simplify this process.

Stockholm-based Dreams markets its finance app directly to consumers in Nordic countries, but is looking to white label with FIs in the US. The savings solution, which took home Best of Show honors, uses positive psychological nudges in much the same way that Noom reinforces healthy eating behavior. 

Directlink differentiates its voice technology solutions by capturing unrecognized incoming customer dialogue (from inbound calls, etc.) and organizing it on a dashboard so that FIs can quickly formulate new automated responses, not to mention receive early warning of new hot topics on members’ minds. 

For credit unions active in the SMB space, Autobooks earned a Best of Show nod for an invoicing tool the firm unbundled from its cash management suite and built directly into internet banking. According to its research, SMBs of all stripes share the challenge of getting paid. Autobooks further hopes that integrating this process into digital banking will create an “on ramp” for engagement with FI customers’ customers.   

And in a twist on the “smart safe” model, Ellenby Technologies aims to solve the cash handling pain point for SMBs lacking scale to outsource the task to armored car couriers. The hardware manufacturer has introduced a “smart transport bag” combining smart safe features with a portable pouch enabled with GPS tracking and RFID fobs to track chain of custody.

Hear our interviews with leaders of Dreams and ASA Financial on last week’s Best of Finovate BIGCast- and once you’re caught up, check out our chats with FinGoal and Directlink on Part 2.

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