2 Outstanding Tips For Reaching Success As A Fintech Startup

home-office-599475_1920The following article is a continuation of “3 Tips For Reaching Success As A Fintech Startup.” Please read that piece to learn additional tips for accessing success.

In the world of Fintech, it can be tricky to make a name for your startup. But with these helpful tips you’ll be able to get a leg up on the competition, get investors and grow as a startup.

1) Find clients other than banks

While it may seem that banks are the ideal clients for your company, regulatory and bureaucratic issues lead many startups to have difficulty when they take on banks as clients.  According to Bain Capital Ventures’ Matt Harris, many Fintech companies make the mistake of focusing on selling solely to banks. Banks are difficult customers because they are slow and they largely valuate you. Harris says Bain has found the most success with companies that partner or compete with banks.

2) Use design thinking to invent new products

If you want to develop products that customers want to buy, you’ll need to use design thinking. Design thinking begins with listening to the needs of your customers and observing their behavior. Dan Macklin, SoFi’s VP of Community and Member Success, said that while the company started with student loan refinancing, they moved into personal loans and mortgages after their members ask them for help with other aspects of their financial lives.

SoFi created an in-house career strategy team that allowed people to turn to coaches who can help empower them in their careers. SoFi also worked to solve the problems of people struggling to talk about money. They created a community where individuals could interact and learn from one another.

In the world of Fintech, it can be tricky to make a name for your startup. But with these helpful tips you’ll be able to get a leg up on the competition, get investors and grow as a startup.

3 Tips For Reaching Success As A Fintech Startup

startup-fintechInvestors are attracted to startups when they see growth.

The faster your company grows, the more likely investors are to place risky venture bets on it. If you’re in Fintech, it’s hard to break into the sector. After all, it seems there’s a new Fintech startup every day. You may be wondering what exactly it takes to grow and succeed as a Fintech startup. Here are are few tips for success:

  1. Build non-financial relationships with customers.

If you want customers to do business with your company over time, you have to make sure they like the people at your company. One way to achieve this is to host social networking opportunities among customers, a large number of whom are upcoming young professionals. SoFi, for example, hosts community events such as dinners, workshops, and happy hours in 55 cities throughout 30 states. This networking allows emotional bonds to form, thus giving the company more of an opportunity to offer products to its customers.

2) Mix Your Talent Pool

To have a Fintech startup that is bound for success, you will likely have to acquire some staffers who don’t come from the financial services industry. According the Arjan Schutte, founder and partner at Core VC, a Fintech startup needs to pull talent from different sectors because there is a lot of complexity and nuance to the way that specific systems work.

3) Create Affiliate Services

It’s a good idea to create a startup that isn’t directly targeting the conventional banking system. Chris Skinner, the industry seer, used two startups, Square and Simple, to exemplify this. Square didn’t directly attack banking, but rather found a solution to the friction around banking. Simple attacked the difficulties of finance with user interface. Neither app tried to replace banking, and that’s why they reached so much success.

Please continue on to the second piece on this subject, titled, “2 Additional Tips For Reaching Success As A Fintech Startup.”

The History of the Financial Technology Sector

David E. MickeyAt the most recent developer conference held by technology giant Apple in San Francisco, a presentation on Apple Pay caught the attention of many participants.

Apple is hardly the only tech giant trying to get a foot in the door of the financial technology sector, more commonly known as fintech. Amazon and Google have also taken their respective turns developing electronic payment solutions, and Microsoft has shown interest in the blockchain aspect of the controversial digital currency bitcoin.

Fintech may be getting all the attention these days, but the history of financial technology dates back to the 19th century.

The Early Days of Financial Technology

Tech historians often cite couriers and the telegraph as the earliest beginnings of the fintech as we know it these days. The Western Union Telegraph Company had an interesting system of debt instruments that combined Morse code with couriers delivering cash to make wire transfers in the middle of the 19th century.

In the 1870s, the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company also used Morse code and human clerks to deliver quotations; those clerks would eventually lose their jobs when thousands of stock ticker machines were installed at Wall Street offices and across the United States.

By the 1960s, stock ticker machines were replaced with computers that introduced a new era of stock market data delivery and processing systems.

The Elimination of Cash

Credit cards have been around since the 1950s and the first automated teller machine (ATM) networks were installed in the late 1960s; however, it would take decades before the major payment networks such as Visa and MasterCard would offer debit card solutions.

Electronic Stock Exchanges

The year 1972 was momentous for the financial tech sector as the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) started operating a stock market that rivaled the New York Stock Exchange. This electronic exchange system would later be adopted by financial markets around the world.

The World Wide Web

Prior to the introduction of the first graphical web browser, dedicated systems such as Bloomberg Terminals combined information with trade execution. Some of this functionality was ported to online networks such as CompuServe and America Online, but once the web came of age in the 1990s, retail stock brokerages quickly found a new home.

E-commerce and Electronic Payments

The dawn of the web also launched early e-commerce efforts, which were eventually boosted by the advent of PayPal and many other electronic payment options. Online banking was somewhat of a late arrival in the financial tech revolution; in fact, early online bill payment services were not made by electronic transfer but rather by means of bank clerks writing checks on behalf of account holders and putting them in the mail.

Mobile Wallets

By virtue of falling behind the financial tech curve, banks have seen their market share reduced by mobile wallets, which feature a combination of smartphone technologies and prepaid services that are more dynamic than a checking account. Apple Pay is one type of mobile wallet. Digital currencies such as bitcoin also offer online wallet functionality, and this seems to be the next step in financial tech.

David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.com; http://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.

Fintech Startup TransferWise Hopes To Say Goodbye To Banks

transferwise David E. MickeyMany fintech startups, particularly those used for the transfer of money, rely on banks. Global money transfer startup Transferwise Inc. is turning the tables, and will soon free itself from banks.

Since its launch five years ago, the London-based company has been known for its ad campaigns. The splashy campaigns showed nearly nude employees in order to demonstrate that the company is more “transparent” than banks. This transparency is practiced in regards to fees for sending money across borders.

Despite its criticism of banks, Transferwise has quietly relied on banks to take care of the initial link between the company and the customer. In the U.S., it partners with a small New York bank called Community Federal Savings Bank, and in the UK., it partners with banks such as Barclays PLC.

As we watch Transferwise seek to move away from banks, we see yet another example of the complex relationship between traditional banks and fintech disruptors. While numerous startups want to displace banks, they also often depend on them in order to facilitate payments, deposits, or lending.

Transferwise was worth more than $1 billion in this most recent fundraising round, making it one of the most valuable fintech startups. Some of its investors include venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, entrepreneur Richard Branson, asset manager Baillie Gifford and PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin.

Transferwise was able to grow billions of dollars worth of transfers each year by working with banks. But working with banks caused problems, too. The problems were especially prevalent in the U.S. because each state oversees money transfers.

The company was sanctioned by regulators in New Hampshire for not having its own local presence. Consenting to the order, Transferwise repaid more than $16,000 in customer fees in New Hampshire. Since last year, Transferwise has been getting state licenses. In August, the company announced that it was able to directly access the U.K’s real-time payment system, although for now a small bank partner is still necessary to do this.

This access to the real-time payment system will allow Transferwise to move money without relying so heavily on banks. Taavet Hinrikus the co-founder and CEO of Transferwise, said that the company has always hoped to ultimately seek its own license. To do this, the firm would need to ensure that senders have the money in their accounts and that criminal are not using the service to send money. Transferwise stated that it was already doing these checks, but was using bank partnerships as a stepping stone.

Hinrikus said that one of the goals Transferwise hoped to achieve by working under its own state license was to make the service more simple and affordable. He also hoped to allow the services to offer more features. Hinrikus feels that Transferwise must act locally in every market and decrease the cost per payment in order to offer the best global service.

The fees are typically in the range of 0.7% to 1.5%, with smaller fees for larger transfers. The company also charges lower rates for the most popular routes. Transferwise now has licenses in 37 U.S. states and is allowed to work independently in three states that don’t require licenses. In the other ten states, Transferwise will continue to use its bank partners.

The journey to relying less heavily on banks is not over, but Transferwise is making impressive strides. Transferwise has advertised that it is more transparent than banks, and one day, it will may be able to truly cut ties with its competition.

David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.com; http://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.

The Evolution of Financial Tech in 2016

David E. Mickey

Fintech is relentlessly shaping the future of financial services, transforming the presentation of financial services and impacting the legacy of financial institutions and fintech startups. 2016 has been a trademark year for the financial services industry, thanks to innovation and fierce idea creation.

  1. Financial Education 
    Businesses and consumers alike are becoming better educated about poor spending habits. Rather than helping consumers to make poor choices, financial institutions have elected to assist consumers: helping them make more informed decisions about savings, investment, and credit card spending.
  2. Financial Leadership
    PlanWise, NerdWallet, and similar companies are emboldening the public, helping them to accomplish finance goals, evaluate their financial status, and improve thoughtless habits. Increasing financial literacy challenges young consumers to educate themselves on the stipulations of taking and loans and how to address future debt.
  3. Compliance
    Increased regulation has developed in the face of advancing technology, past direction, and digital and traditional transactions. Trulioo is a prime example of solution-seeking companies that works to integrate transaction processing software and newly formed compliance directives.
  4. Information Protection
    The threat of fraud and identity theft is present, particularly as online shopping become a more present feature in the lives of web users. All users seek services that are quick and safe when purchasing online. Billions contribute to the online retail market, which is why Stripe, WePay, and Flint attempt to deliver safe consumer environments.
  5. Diverse Payment Options
    Global payments aren’t limited to cash or credit; and the world has advanced even beyond PayPal, direct deposit, and currency exchange. Consumers and business owners are benefitting from a plethora of financial tech solutions. Tipalti and Ephiphyte are leveraging Bitcoin, discounting transaction costs, and simplifying company usage of payment systems.
  6. Alternative Loan Options
    The lending market is changing, and consumers and business are looking to institutions beyond the bank to find small loans. Crowdfunding and firms like LendUp, LendFriend and SoFri are helping to connect the public with money to refinance loans, assist with student loans, and pay off one’s mortgage.
  7. Collections and Expediated Payments
    For many businesses, collections can be difficult, and it’s well known that money can get in the way of a good relationship. For that reason, InvoiceNinja offers solutions to small businesses hoping to collect outstanding debt. InvoiceNinja helps companies to increase monthly recurring revenue.
  8. Asset Management & Protection
    Even the tech savvy can fall victim to fraud. Banks, online payment, loan providers, and e-commerce have developed more advanced authentication tech to provide protection to consumers.  Unfortunately, digital crimes still occur, but new companies are being designed to address these challenges.
  9. Investment Accessibility
    Excess fees, hidden fees, and bad investment advice has sunk many investment firms. Nonetheless, Acorns, Wealthfront, Robinhood, and Addepar have helped to empower small investors and is fundamentally shifting the investment world. The investment community can use financial tech to access innovative solutions.

David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.com; http://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.

IBM has Announced the Opening of an IBM Bluemix Garage in NYC

bluemix-garage-san-francisco-1-638International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), an American multinational technology and consulting corporation, has announced the opening of an IBM Bluemix Garage in New York City. This new development will help to hearten NYC’s growing concentration of entrepreneurs, developers, and fintech companies with blockchain and cloud.

According to Evans Data Corp, the international developer population is projected to reach 25 million by 2020. More and more people are using IBM Bluemix Garages to tap into IBM Cloud APIs (application programming interfaces) around cognition, social media, unstructured data, and more to quickly build and launch innovations. Garages are also being used to accelerate the exploration of blockchain projects. Those Garages can remove friction from financial transactions and prime blockchain to shift the function of markets.

The NYC location is latest to join IBM’s blossoming network of Bluemix Garages around the globe, including a location in Tokyo, which has a hand in helping companies like Mizuho Financial utilize cloud and blockchain. Bluemix Garages operates out of London, San Francisco, Toronto, Singapore, and Nice, and they looking to expand further during 2016. It’s expected that IBM Bluemix Garage will spur innovation in NYC’s thriving fintech industry. The location is in close proximity to a tech learning community for startups, student, and established companies, and it’s expected to better acquaint the company with city’s thriving tech scene.

“Ramping up more companies on Bluemix will be a significant addition to New York City’s tech economy, as it enables financial tech companies like us to innovate with APIs such as Watson,” said Prashant Bhuyan, cofounder and CEO of Alpha Modus, according to a press release. “Using Bluemix, we’ve been able to roll out transformational apps that leverage cognitive analytics with unbelievable time and efficiency –helping to shake up the way our clients invest in the markets.”
Garage will spur local innovation from the 315 Hudson Street location in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood through business development, skills development, speeding app development, and hybrid cloud integration. Bluemix, IBM’s Cloud platform launches more than 120,000 apps each month, and their becoming one of the largest open, public cloud deployments in the world.

David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.com; http://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.

World First Has Announced the Launch of a New Netherlands Office

2118ac1 (1)World First, the UK-based foreign exchange company renowned for its international FinTech payments and currency experts, has announced the launch of a new Netherlands office, hinting at continued global expansion.The Amsterdam-based office is expected to support business across the Netherlands and Benelux region.

The Dutch office is joining the league of offices located in London, Austin, Sydney, and Hong Kong, increasing international footprint. World First has grown rapidly since opening its doors in 2004, and it now employs more than 450 people across four continents. World First already has an established client based in the Netherlands, which is a market offering significant growth potential for the company. Approximately 72 percent of medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) still look to banks for their FX needs, indicating that the FX market overdue for disruption.

Lamin Jaiteh, formerly of ABN AMRO and Wallich & Matthes, will head the Dutch office, attracting a more dynamic currency payment service than that provided by traditional banks.

“Since launching in 2004, we’ve been supporting the growing trend of SMEs that trade internationally – or mini-multinationals as we call them,” Jonathan Quin, CEO and Co-Founder of World First, said of the launch, according to FinExtra. “We offer fast, flexible and cost-effective currency solutions to businesses, as well as individuals and online marketplace traders, who often feel let down by the service they receive from their bank. Our Amsterdam office will mean that we can now offer full, local language FX expertise to Dutch-based SMEs to support them with their own international growth plans.”

The company has grown exponentially internationally, and it’s placement in the Netherlands is fitting because of its strong international outlook. World First recently offered new offices in Hong Kong and Virginia, and set up business in Austin, Texas.

David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.com; http://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.

Updated to the Modern Standard: The FinTech Revolution Has Enabled Credit Unions, Banks, Traditional Lenders

Mobile Payment, FinTechThe small business credit marketplace have been disrupted by the FinTech businesses, establishing technology that’s accelerated the loan-making process and streamlined the lending process. Numerous industries have been updated and brought up to the modern standard because of technological advances, which led to paperwork reduction and applications during “non-banking” hours. Borrowers and lenders, alike, have benefitted from FinTech.

The FinTech revolution has enabled credit unions, banks, and traditional lenders to cautiously make the move toward digitization. Meanwhile, non-bank lenders, who were less cautious, maneuvered their way in their to market share. Tech has made it possible to obtain coast-to-coast regional banks, it has shortened process times, and it has urged interest rates to historic lows.

Since the mid-2000s, the rapidly moving industry has made it so that credit has become more readily available. Small businesses have particularly benefitted, as they’ve gotten the funding they’ve needed. During the same period of time, yield-hungry investors injected themselves into small business credit market. Those investors, who are competitive with banks, offered longer-term products with interest rates. Unfortunately, some firms have gotten greedy and charged exorbitant rates to people those who aren’t necessarily financially secure and may not be creditworthy.

Marketplace realities speak to the rise of FinTech. For instance, millennials are in love with mobile technology –and they’re far more likely to conduct business on tablets and cell phones. Young people expect to experience financial experiences beyond the nine-to-five hours. The public is more likely to opt for transactional experiences that occur, and they’re less likely to want to engage with managers and bank tellers.

Entrepreneurs will continue to seek capital, even in the face of looming interest rate hikes. Higher interest rates are more profitable for conservative lenders, and when lending is profitable, banks will provide capital. Also, at the same time, less scrupulous non-bank lenders won’t be able to continue charging astronomically high rates because reasonable sources will make money far more available. For that reason, entrepreneurship won’t easily depart.

U.S. businesses are getting funded and they’re growing, and lenders are rewarded with the profits invested in the firm. Borrowers are fearless, and they’re gaining funding deals through traditional lenders and FinTech firms, not antiquated banking practices. Costs are lower for borrowers and lenders, made easier by tech. Through FinTech firms and women-owned businesses have benefitted, as well as under-served communities. The financing innovation over the past few years has led to companies being able to thrive because small businesses drive the community with job creation.

David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.com; http://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.

Striking at the Pillars of the Financial Institution: Technology Has Impacted Every Subsector of FinTech

FinTechBelieve it or not, FinTech isn’t new… it’s simply received a Uber-style facelift, and it’s evolving rapidly to keep up with modern trends and quickening technology.

FinTech has become so disruptive because technology is now striking at the pillars of the financial institution. Those long-standing institutional pillars include private equity, insurance, capital markets, and legal and regulatory banking –and they’ve long been static. The updated FinTech industry has sparked a financial revolution. There are many changes occurring industry-wide, often to the benefit of consumers. However, at the banking level, there is a feeling of disruption.

B2B (Business to Business) fintech model focuses on altering the institutional pillars, affecting how a business uses institutional pillars to acquire capital and services. It causes issues for long-standing institutional pillars of regulatory, insurance, legal, and banking. There are five subsectors of B2B Fintech, including insurance (InsurTech), legal, alternative finance (Altfi), banking, and RegTech.

Banking is a segment of FinTech is one that was hardest hit during the early days of Fintech because banks made the mistake of dismissing early entrants as trendy or “fly by night.” However, they quickly learned that those things, once thought to be trendy, became part of the norm, and banks felt hit on all fronts: wealth management, business, consumer, and other subsectors.

The legal sector seems as though it can’t be pushed or disrupted, but that belief is only partially true. It’s true that lawyers will be needed for the expertise, to offer operating advice to business, but technology is changing the way that lawyers work and the way services are delivered to clients.

Businesses no longer have to shell out high payments in order to have a contract drawn, documents created, or construction of entities. Technology will never totally replace lawyers, but lawyers who embrace FinTech Legal understand the massive evolution the industry is enduring, and they’re attempting to stay relevant and competitive.

Insurance is among one of the oldest establish financial industries, and InsurTech is the offspring of the stagnant industry, which benefits for little innovation. FinTech insurance companies have opted to shake things up, drafting changes that benefit the companies, by ridding the industry world of pricey institutional ways of servicing clients and operating.

Yelp Inc. Announces Next Chief Financial Officer, Charles “Lanny” Baker

Lanny2Yelp Inc. has announced its next chief financial officer, Charles “Lanny” Baker. The site which is known for local business reviews has been consistently profitable, prompting Yelp to scale their business. Baker is replacing former CFO Rob Krolik, who resigned in early February following Q4 losses.

The San Francisco-based business was founded in 2004, and it went public in 2012, and it makes the bulk of its profit via selling advertisements. With that said, Yelp has struggled to maintain its profitability. In fact, Yelp posted losses each quarter, with the only exception being a large bulk of 2014.

Since it’s publication, the website has amassed millions of reviews, which depicted experiences with restaurants, health professionals, federal agencies, and other service providers. This has led to tension with competitors, such as Google’s owner, Alphabet Inc, which once tried to purchase Yelp. Yelp depends on Google and other search engines to attract users to the platform.

Barker is formerly the chief executive of the online real-estate brokerage company ZipRealty Inc, which was acquired by Realogy Holdings. He was also previously the CFO of Monster Worldwide, Inc, and a sell-side analyst. Additionally, he has a track record of building corporate finance strategies, and he’s led the infrastructure development processes for digital platforms that service customers. Also, he currently serves as the director of XO Group, Inc.  

“We are excited to have Lanny join Yelp as our new CFO. His expertise and sheer passion for our mission made him the perfect fit,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-Founder, and CEO of Yelp, according to a press release. “His track record of success across the financial, strategic and operational areas of digital businesses will be an important asset to the company as we continue to rapidly scale our advertising and transaction businesses.”

In response, Baker said, “It is a privilege to assume this important role at Yelp. The company has a huge market opportunity ahead of it, and I’m looking forward to joining the team at such an exciting time in Yelp’s development. As the clear category leader providing insight about local businesses, Yelp’s mission is one that truly inspires me.”

Yelp will host a conference call to discuss Q1 results at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time (4:30 p.m. Eastern Time) on May 5, 2016.

To access the call, dial 1 (866) 776-8879, or outside the U.S. 1 (440) 996-5670, with Passcode 90874309, at least five minutes prior to the 1:30 p.m. PT start time. A live webcast of the call will also be available at http://www.yelp-ir.com under the Events & Presentations menu.

David E. Mickey is a financial executive based in Buffalo, New York, and he’s an Enterprise Sales Executive at Docupace Technologies. Please visit his websites to learn more: http://davidemickey.com; http://davidemickey.net/; and http://davidemickey.org/.