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Thursday May 24, 2018

NY Convergence ORIGINAL

FINOVATE: Mobile and Social FinTech Innovations Dominate

Founder Jim Bruene (The Finovate Group) -Photo Credit: Lauren Keyson

By Lauren Keyson

One thousand people poured into the Finovate Fall 2012 to watch 64 entrepreneurs demo their innovative financial technology products to 1,100 financial institution executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  The founders had seven minutes to present their fintech innovations, which included banking, investing, security and retail to the consumer. The largest and most represented field was mobile. The second most demoed area was social – such as Twitter and Facebook integration, followed by mobile payments, security, small business and sales/marketing/investing.

“There is so much stuff that is migrating into mobile,” said Jim Bruene, founder of Finovate. That was just huge. It just interacts with everything that people are showing.  But we really look for something new that people haven’t seen before, and that have impact. I created Finovate because I’ve been in the financial product area for a long time, I just wanted to see all the good stuff comes out quickly, and all the new stuff in one place. Being exposed to that is the ‘funnest’ part.”

Bruene did say a few companies stood out because they were completely new to him.  For example,  CK Mack had an innovative business model.  It’s a system that enables people to invest in the rental real estate market, mostly single-family houses.   Consumers can come in and put $100 dollars in a house here and another $25 there. Co-founders Linda Schictanz and Marcus Zoeller explained the product as a way of bringing the returns generated by rental real estate to the online investing market. “Our web platform opens the historically popular field of real estate to a broad audience, allowing unprecedented diversification and stellar returns.”

Another was Bolstr, a crowdfunding platform that empowers communities to invest in local businesses.  “It’s the first crowdfunding platform focused on adding liquidity to main street small businesses and the only platform able to legally operate pre-JOBS Act,” said founders Charlie Tribbett and Larry Baker. “We worked tirelessly along with our legal counsel to create a model that works within the current regulatory environment.”  How it works is that people can invest in say, a restaurant, and then they can participate in the revenue – they actually get a piece of the restaurants revenue until they get they get their return.

While several of the demonstrations had to do with traditional consumer banking, there was a new category called ‘youth banking.’  PlayMoolah is on a mission to change the way kids use money through fun technologies that allows them to experience money management in order to earn, spend, save and give. “Through real dollars, real action and real impact, we hope for kids to take control of their money and become empowered by using it to live their dreams and create value for society,” said co-founders Audrey Tan and Min Xuan Lee. Then there was Waspit, or “Banking 2.0.”  It combines traditional banking features with social media platforms to create more intuitive experiences for its users.

Virtual Piggy aims at the same under 18 demographic but it’s aimed at security.  It is designed to provide a secure mechanism, so youth can initiate purchases online that are parent approved, controlled and monitored.  The parents can establish parameters around what they can spend, but it’s still full service banking for the younger crowd.

There were also several companies that focused on using the phone to make payments more secure.  One of these was Locaid, which locates smart and feature phones, tables and mobile devices on wireless carriers. It allows mobile developers to locate devices for enterprise authentication, fraud management and consumer location.

The two-day conference ended yesterday with eight Best of Show winners:  Credit Sesame, Money Desktop, PayTap, ShopKeep POS, Dashlane, Dynamics,  eToro and LearnVest.