Student Loan Genius Joins Inaugural U.S. Class of BBVA Program for Social Entrepreneurs

Student Loan Genius will join 19 other startups in the inaugural U.S. class of BBVA’s training program for social entrepreneurs, BBVA Momentum. The program, in existence since 2011, has helped more than 100 companies with “high social impact” in Spain, Mexico, and Peru. This year, BBVA Momentum has opened the doors to its seven-month training program to U.S. companies “who want to change the world through their work.”

“We saw a lot of passion and innovative approaches to some of our most stubborn issues,” BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and one of the program judges, Reymundo Ocañas said.  “We scrutinized the organizations to determine which ones had the most sustainable business models and the highest social impact.” Through the program, BBVA Compass seeks to help startups “scale up so they can change even more lives,” Ocañas explained.

Pictured: Co-founders Tony Aguilar (CEO) and Emiliano Villareal (Chuck Norris of Product) demonstrating Student Loan Genius at FinovateSpring 2016.

Student Loan Genius leverages employer’s existing participation in their employees’ 401(k) plans to provide a unique, student loan repayment benefit. Because paying off student loans tends to delay a young worker’s ability to begin saving for the future, Student Loan Genius enables employees to focus on repaying their student loan debt while employers make pre-tax contributions to their employee’s retirement account based on the amount of debt repayment. “We tell the story all the time: young people need to start investing as early as possible, but we can’t afford to do it because of our student loan debt,” Student Loan Genius CEO and co-founder Tony Aguilar explained during his company’s demo at FinovateSpring last year. “With (our platform) we can now make this a reality,” he said.

As part of the BBVA Momentum program, entrepreneurs will get seven-months of training, both online and in-person. In-person training will take place at UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business. The Corporate Learning Alliance, a joint project between the Financial Times and Spain’s IE Business School, will manage the online portion of the training. The program will also feature networking opportunities with previous BBVA Momentum companies and investors. A select number of entrepreneurs – based on the sustainability and social impact of their solutions – will be eligible for what BBVA called “further investment opportunities.”

Also participating in the program are:

  • A Caring Safe Place Inc.
  • Cafe Momentum
  • Capital Plus Financial
  • Chicks with Class
  • Community Loan Center of Texas
  • E4 Youth
  • Education Opens Doors
  • Ensosoft
  • Give More HUGS
  • Go Rings
  • IDEA Public Schools
  • JUST
  • LOHAS Capital
  • LynxGRC
  • Magpies & Peacocks
  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul
  • The Giving Field
  • Upswing

Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, Student Loan Genius demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016. Last fall, the company announced that HVAC manufacturer Mestek would offer its employees the Student Loan Genius benefit through a partnership with Prudential. Student Loan Genius powers loan benefit programs for workers at Pinterest, Spredfast, and fellow Finovate alum, Twilio, among others. The company has raised $3 million in funding, courtesy of a seed round in early 2016 led by Gibraltar Ventures and featuring participation from Capital Factory, Fenway Summer Ventures, Kapor Capital, VilCap Investments, and Village Capital. Read our profile of the company from last summer.


Blockchain Lands $40 Million Series B

Web-based bitcoin wallet Blockchain seems to have benefitted from all of the bitcoin buzz in the past month. The Luxembourg-based company pulled in a Series B round of $40 million today, bringing its total raised to $70 million.

The funding, which the company describes as “rocket fuel” in its blog, comes from new investors Lakestar, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Nokota Management, and Digital Currency Group. Existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mosaic Ventures, Prudence Holdings, Virgin, and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group) also participated.

Since it was founded in 2011, Blockchain has amassed millions of active users from across the globe, formed partnerships in 34 countries, and has built an API platform used by large fintech companies. The company anticipates the new funds will help it deliver its mission to “create an open, accessible, and fair financial future for billions across the globe, one piece of software at a time”

Blockchain presented at FinDEVr 2014, when the company was hosting 2 million wallets on its platform. Today, the company boasts 14 million wallets. Blockchain differentiates itself from competitor wallet Coinbase because, unlike Coinbase, it does not host cryptocurrency exchanges on its site. Instead, Blockchain has set up partnerships with exchanges so that it cannot see users’ transactions or balance amount.

Earlier this year, Blockchain partnered with Imperial College London to launch the Digital Asset Research Lab, an environment that supports research and activities related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. Late last year, the company announced plans to add a buying option to its wallet.

With AI and Automation, Personetics Act Turns Banking Apps into Financial Wellness Apps

Courtesy of new AI-powered technology, cognitive analytics specialist Personetics has made it that much easier for bank customers to save money and pay off debt. The new solution, Personetics Act, leverages automated algorithms to help customers define and set actionable financial goals. The technology then analyzes the customer’s finances to see ways that funds and payments can best be arranged to meet those goals whether the customer is simply looking to save more, retire debt faster, or set aside money for a specific goal at a specific time.

“We believe that automated programs personalized to individual customer needs and objectives will soon become an essential part of every bank’s product portfolio,” Personetics co-founder and CEO David Sosna said. He added that Personetics is already providing automated money management technology to “some of the world’s leading banks.” Available as a white-label solution, Personetics Act can help banks attract and retain customers whose primary accounts are with other institutions, as well as increase wallet share for current account holders. Customers get an intelligent money management solution that learns user’s preferences and optimizes its recommendations with use.

More than the latest in Personetics’ suite of cognitive banking solutions, Personetics Act embraces the trend toward “turning mobile apps from banking apps to personal finance apps” as Sosna told American Banker, which called the technologies “a digital CFO in your pocket.” Also writing for American Banker, Penny Crossman noted that FIs like Wells Fargo have been working with Personetics to create financial wellness solutions guided by predictive analytics. One such implementation was Wells Fargo’s Daily Change app launched last year that is powered by Personetics. The app enables customers to link checking and savings accounts and schedule transfers between the two.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, Personetics demonstrated its Personetics Anywhere chatbot solution at FinovateFall 2016. The company began the year with an investment from Santander’s venture capital arm, Innoventures, and a deal to power a new chatbot launched by Societe Generale. Personetics has raised $18 million in total funding.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Blockchain Lands $40 Million Series B.
  • With AI and Automation, Personetics Act Turns Banking Apps into Financial Wellness Apps.
  • Student Loan Genius Joins Inaugural U.S. Class of BBVA Program for Social Entrepreneurs.

Around the web

  • Greater Wyoming FCU ($23 million in assets) transitions to integrated banking solutions from Fiserv.
  • Mitek adds Jeff Davison as new Chief Financial Officer.
  • Trustly readies first The State of Online Banking report for release next week.
  • ZipZap chosen to participate in U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Regulatory Sandbox.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.


SumUp Goes Beyond mPOS with New Online Payments Suite

Payments company SumUp is announcing new payment functionalities today. The U.K.-based company has extended its flagship mPOS service beyond payment cards and the point-of-sale (POS).

The new payment suite offers three new solutions:

  • The SMS feature enables merchants to accept payments made via SMS. The merchant enters the amount due in the SumUp app, which sends the customer an SMS text with a link to a basic online form to enter their payment credentials. There is no card reader required.
  • The Virtual Terminal enables ecommerce merchants to accept card-not-present transactions online.
  • The APIs and SDKs enable merchants to accept online payments via a SumUp integration in their ecommerce shop, and even leverage card-on-file information for recurring billing.

Marc-Alexander Christ, co-founder of SumUp, said that the new avenues open up market opportunities for merchants. “The ultimate challenge for businesses is to find a convenient solution for cross-channel payment acceptance. Traditional offerings focus either on online or offline payments – limited to one or few markets. Through our Omnichannel Payment Suite, we offer simple and secure access to all payment types under one roof,” Christ said.

SumUp works in 16 markets, including in Brazil, the U.S., and all of Europe. Earlier this month, the company appointed Ryan O’Connor as U.S. Managing Director. Last fall, the company launched its Air Register, an all-in-one payment terminal configuration that accepts chip & PIN, magstripe, and contactless payments, and comes with a thermal receipt printer. SumUp demonstrated its mPOS system at FinovateEurope 2013 in London.

Hot Takes! Fierce Debate! Finovate Presents the Battle of the Fintech Analysts

Seven of the sharpest minds in fintech. Seven minutes to persuade our audience of their vision of what fintech will bring in 2018.

As part of our new, expanded FinovateFall conference this year, we are hosting a Battle of the Fintech Analysts. This hour-long roundtable debate and discussion will feature seven fintech professionals hashing out what’s worth watching, what’s worth forgetting, and what’s still yet to figure out when it comes to fintech innovation beyond 2017. Meet our panel.

Ron Shevlin, Head of Research, Cornerstone Advisors

Industry analyst specializing in financial services marketing strategy.



Daniel Latimore, Senior Vice President, Banking Group, Celent

Leads a world-class team of analysts focused on the banking industry. Celent is a research and consulting firm that provides technology and business strategy advice to the global financial services industry. Celent provides unbiased insight into industry trends, competitors in the market, and market sizes.

Jim Marous, Publisher/Fintech Strategist, The Financial Brand/The Digital Banking Report

Named as one of the most influential people in banking and a Top 5 Fintech Influencer to Follow, Jim Marous is an internationally recognized financial industry strategist, co-publisher of The Financial Brand and the owner and publisher of the Digital Banking Report. Marous advises on innovation, portfolio growth, customer experience, marketing strategies, channel shift, payments and digital transformation within the financial services industry.

Stessa Cohen, Research Director, Gartner

Internationally recognized expert on the digital transformation of the global consumer banking industry. Extensive network, skill with research methods, and tacit knowledge. Counsels financial services companies, technology firms, and investors on product, solution, and investment strategies.

Jerry Silva, Global Banking Research Director, IDC Financial Insights

Experienced technology executive in the financial services industry. Trusted advisor and strategist to banks and technology providers in the areas of technology strategy and deployment, product management, marketing, and business development. 


Kevin Morrison, Senior Research Analyst, Aite Group

Payments/Banking Professional with a focus on Innovation


Our seventh analyst will be announced later this summer.

What will be the top fintech trend of 2018? Join us Wednesday, September 13 as we kick off Day Three of our newly-expanded FinovateFall conference with the Battle of the Fintech Analysts. And remember you can save $400 off the ticket price if you reserve your spot by Friday, July 7.

Finovate Alumni News


  • SumUp Goes Beyond mPOS with New Online Payments Suite.
  • Hot Takes! Fierce Debate! Finovate Presents the Battle of the Fintech Analysts.

Around the web

  • Ixaris appoints WorldPay co-founder and former Skrill/Paysafe Group CEO David Sear as Chairman
  • Leumi Card to use Feedzai’s Artificial Intelligence platform to fight fraud.
  • PYMNTS takes a look at Modo’s COIN technology.
  • iSignthis deploys its Payidentity service to Borgun.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

PayPal’s Venmo Goes Head-to-Head with Zelle, Square Cash, and… Amazon

PayPal EVP and COO Bill Ready recently reminisced how, in 1998, the company launched its first product, one that allowed users to beam money from one Palm Pilot to another. While the hardware has changed, the “beaming money” idea remains the same. In this race to real-time payments, the San Jose-based company announced this week that it has leveraged the partnerships it formed last year with Visa and Mastercard to offer users faster payments.

The new service will allow PayPal and Venmo users to send funds in minutes instead of the two-to-three day timeframe that is typical with most ACH transfers. Expediting funds will come at a cost, however. Users can expect to pay $0.25 per transaction if they want to send funds in real-time (or up to 30 minutes in some cases). The functionality is already available for select PayPal users and will be available for all U.S. PayPal users with eligible Visa and Mastercard debit cards “over the coming weeks and months” and available to Venmo users later this summer.


When compared to Zelle, which runs on its former namesake, the clearXchange network, PayPal’s instant payment option is certainly more expensive than Zelle’s free option. PayPal’s advantage over Zelle is that it offers a standalone mobile and web app, while Zelle– as a bank-owned payments app– is more confined. While there are rumors Zelle plans to launch a standalone app, for now it must be hosted within a bank’s website or mobile app. It is worth noting, however, that PayPal’s model isn’t the same as Zelle’s, which is strictly a payment rails network among a group of banks.

Square Cash

Because of this, it is more fitting to compare PayPal’s offering to Square cash, which offers P2P money transfers and holds a user’s balance until they “cash out” or transfer it back into their checking account. Square also offers an instant money transfer feature, for which it charges a one percent fee.


It is also worth watching Amazon in this space. The online retail giant made a move earlier this month to encourage its Prime members to hold a balance in their prepaid Amazon account by offering 2 percent cash back on purchases using their Amazon account balance. Similar to PayPal and Square Cash, Amazon does not pay interest on users’ balances, and thus stands to profit from the cash (which, by the way, cannot be transferred back to a user’s account– it must be used on an Amazon purchase). Of course, Amazon’s balance option is just a glorified gift card (for now). However, if enough users are compelled by the 2% cash back offer, we can expect to see the online retailer debut more banking features, stepping on banks’ toes and into territory PayPal has held for almost 20 years.

PayPal’s Braintree recently presented at FinDEVr New York 2016. The company also showcased its Instant Account Creation feature at FinovateFall 2012. Mastercard and Visa both presented at the first FinDEVr, held in San Francisco in 2014, where Mastercard showed off its Developer Zone and Visa demonstrated its API-less web integration and SDK web integration.

Build Intelligent Apps at Enterprise Scale with Ayasdi Envision

“Envision” is an apt name for a new solution from a company renowned for its ability to turn big data into eye-popping, operational insights. This week Ayasdi, a specialist in machine intelligence software development and innovator in topological data analysis, introduced its latest technology, Ayasdi Envision. The new framework is built on the company’s enterprise-scale AI platform and makes it easier for businesses to develop and deploy intelligent applications.

“We’ve made it incredibly simple and natural for technical and non-technical counterparts to interact and collaborate on the development of intelligent applications using a visual, web-based workflow,” Ronaldo Ama, EVP, Product and Engineering at Ayasdi explained. “These applications surface the power of Ayasdi to discover, predict, justify, act, and learn on your data,” he said.

Pictured: Ayasdi Principal Data Strategist Michael Woods demonstrating Ayasdi Finance at FinovateFall 2014.

Ayasdi Envision provides an easy-to-learn and navigate interface that enables business users and data analysts to work collaboratively in a “workflow-oriented approach.” By using widgets as the building blocks, Envision allows platform users who are not developers to build relatively sophisticated applications that are tailored to solve specific business problems. In a conversation with Datanami, Ama explained that being able to have business users and data analyst working so closely meant less time and less money when it comes to development. He added that it was also an excellent example of how the Ayasdi brought the power of AI to “just a regular customer.”

Ayasdi’s technology takes advantage of the trend toward businesses using intelligent apps to maximize their use of big data. In the company’s announcement, it highlighted Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017 report which noted, “intelligent apps are not limited to new digital assistants – every existing software category from security tooling to enterprise applications such as marketing or ERP will be infused with AI enabled capabilities.”

During his Finovate demo, Ayasdi Principal Data Strategist Michael Woods explained the challenge succinctly. “Data generation is rapidly outpacing data interpretation. Which is to say that your businesses are capturing more data than you can effectively understand and act upon.” Because of this, Woods added, “there is significant value that you are failing to monetize in the data you have already captured today.” Since its founding in 2008, Ayasdi has helped companies ranging from Citigroup and General Electric to Anadarko and Mount Sinai Hospital gain critical insights from their data.

Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, Ayasdi demonstrated its Ayasdi Finance platform at FinovateFall 2014. Earlier this month, the company announced a partnership with HSBC to help the banking group automate compliance processes. Ayasdi hired former IBM executive Bob Griffin to serve as CEO in March, the same month the company was named to Planet Compliance’s inaugural RegTech Top 100 Power list. The company has raised more than $106 million in funding, most recently completing a $55 million Series C in March 2015. Ayasdi includes Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Institutional Venture Partners, FLOODGATE, and Khosla Ventures among its investors.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Build Intelligent Apps at Enterprise Scale with Ayasdi Envision.
  • PayPal’s Venmo Goes Head-to-Head with Zelle, Square Cash, and… Amazon

Around the web

  • EverSafe earns spot among the winners of Centre for Financial Services’ Financial Solutions Lab competition.
  • FIS introduces test solution to help FIs embrace real-time payments.
  • iovation to integrate its device-based authentication technology with PingFederate from Ping Identity.
  • BBVA taps into biometrics with new firm Veridas.
  • Expensify integrates with FinancialForce Accounting and PSA.
  • Rabobank selects Finastra (the merger of Misys and D+H) payment services hub for cross-border payments.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.