The world needs fintech startups to provide services to niche markets and these companies are here to deliver.
The fintech startups we’re spotlighting are remarkable not only for their innovations, but from where they are emerging. From Cameroon to Cyprus, from São Paulo to Seoul, we scoured the world’s up-and-coming banking centers to give you a taste of the character and mindset of the finest in fintech startups. Of the pioneering young firms showcased here, only two are based in the GFCI22 top ten banking centers—Hong Kong and Toronto.
A mobile point of service app might seem ho-hum when presented in San Francisco, London, or Sydney. When offered in a country whose only credit card processing option is an electronic data capture reader that only high-ticket merchants can afford, it becomes a game-changer for the entire population. That’s what this fintech startups roundup is all about.
Location: Seoul, Korea
Founders: Sang Kyun Cha, Keun Kwan Ryu
Funding to Date: Undisclosed
Korean fintech startup AIZEN automates data analysis and provides a model that updates and learns in real-time, providing meaningful business intelligence in real time. The firm’s solutions combine machine learning, machine reasoning, deep learning, and predictive modeling to provide high quality insights.
The high-powered duo behind AIZEN are world luminaries in big data technology development. Co-founder Sang Kyun Cha, director of Seoul National University’s (SNU) Big Data Institute, led the global development of SAP Hana, an in-memory data platform that enables organizations to process large volumes of data in real-time. AIZEN co-founder Keun Kwan Ryu is the Dean of SNU’s Institute of Economic Research.
Location: Bangalore, India
Founders: Rohit Chaturvedi, Pria Randolph
Funding to Date: Undisclosed
Bitgram is a data sovereignty and consumer data protection platform that uses blockchain technology to increase data integrity for people and processes in the banking and financial sector. The graduate of the Startupbootcamp FinTech Mumbai accelerator won pilots with the multinational Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI Bank) and the Reserve Bank of India.
According to Adrian Johnson, Managing Director of Startupbootcamp FinTech, the largest fintech accelerator in the world, “We specifically decided to venture into India with our Fintech accelerator because our global FinTech programs had been witnessing significant participation from Indian companies, with some of the most unique innovations intended to address the financial need-gap of the Indian economy.”
Location: Limassol, Cyprus
Funding to Date: $25M
The mobile trading platform built by Capital.com uses AI to enable customers to trade contract for difference (CFD) derivatives on Forex, cryptocurrencies, commodities, indices, and other top markets. A CFD lets customers speculate on the rising or falling prices of an asset without having to own the underlying asset.
Simon Cocking of Irish Tech News wrote, “With Capital.com it is possible to benefit, not only from price growth, but from price decline as well. […] The benefits of trading CFDs on cryptocurrency with Capital.com include segregated accounts, account security, and broker services, which are regulated by a financial regulator.” The 2017 Series A round of financing garnered the startup $25M from VP Capital and Larnabel Ventures.
Cashlez is attempting to solve Indonesia’s spotty ability to accept credit cards at shops and venues of all sizes. The mobile point-of-sale system (mPOS) enables clients to receive credit card and debit card-based applications on iOS and Android smartphones via a Bluetooth-enabled card reader. Prior to Cashlez, the only way to use credit cards in the country was through an electronic data capture system (EDC); the cost of obtaining, installing, and maintaining EDC systems prohibits all but high-end merchants from using the technology.
Speaking to TechInAsia, founder Teddy Tee explained, “the latest data we have is that there are 17 million credit cards in Indonesia, and 113 million debit cards, but only 1 million point-of-sales terminals where you can swipe your card.” With low bandwidth and encrypted data transmissions, retailers of all sizes now have access to POS technology that works. Lead investor Mandiri Capital Indonesia was joined by Gan Capital in the firm’s 2017 seed funding round.
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Founders: Aaron McDonald, Jerry Yuan
Funding to Date: $95M
The Centrality blockchain venture studio endeavors to break the data chokehold of the world’s biggest internet companies, enabling “a more equal and fair world for all users.” Their scalable platform, software, and components help to enable companies to build decentralized businesses and be part of a thriving P2P marketplace.
The January, 2018 CENNZ token launch was one of the most popular ICOs to date, with overwhelming demand for the token and $265,000,000 pledged to the currency. In addition to building the CENNZ network and CENNZ software tools, Centrality also helps developers build applications on top of the network. Angel investor and self-described “ICO and Crypto Ambassador” James Sowers put $80,000,000 behind the ICO.
Location: Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Founders: Cristina Randall, Hector Cardenas, Leo Fischer
Funding to Date: $8.7M
Founded by three engineers from Canada’s University of Waterloo seeking to make ecommerce more profitable for Latin American businesses, Conekta helps banks and financial institutions secure and optimize their processes. Its AI-powered platform analyzes the transaction behavior to identify fraudulent purchases while its PCI-DSS certified secure banking solution encrypts and protects banking and financial information.
Conekta offers online payment methods including credit and debit cards, bank transfers, monthly installments and cash payments. In October of 2016, Conekta raised $6.6m in a series A funding round co-led by VARIV Capital, FEMSA Comercio, Jaguar Ventures, and Conconi Growth Partners.
Konduto’s intelligent anti-fraud technology uses machine learning and AI to monitor the activities of ecommerce shoppers in real time, evaluate the purchase process to identify signs of fraud, and returns a verdict on potentially fraudulent activity in less than a second.
Using a range of technologies to analyze consumer behavior, including device fingerprinting, IP geolocation, social graph, proxy detection, and speed, Konduto spots fraudulent behavior before purchases are made, helps separate false positive results from actual fraudulent behaviors, and allows users to determine if and how well risk analysis is working for their specific business. Brazil’s largest venture capital fund, Criatec 2, invested R$2,500,000 in Konduko’s 2017 funding round.
Location: Wan Chai, Hong Kong and Shanghai, China
Founders: Jianyu Tu, Tao Liu
Funding to Date: $7M
Mioying Financial Technology (HK) Limited is the SaaS startup behind MioTech, developer of AI-based software solutions for investment managers and private banks. In terms of fintech startups, it’s well positioned. Their MPro wealth management platform integrates internal and external data sources with intuitive, highly customizable analytics and compliance management tools.
In a press release, CEO Jason Yu noted, “Hong Kong’s concentration of financial institutions and its stable regulatory environment give it the potential to become Asia’s next cradle of B2B fintech startups. With MPro’s launch, we’re hoping to not only give wealth and asset managers the tools they desperately need to match and beat their overseas competitors, but also encourage Hong Kong and mainland China’s fintech community to new heights with their own development efforts.” China’s Zhen Fund, Hong Kong’s Horizon Ventures, and a pair of individual investors supplied $7M in capital for the firm.
Startup: Moni, Ltd.
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Founder: Alejandro Estrada
Funding to Date: $1.8M
The MONI microbanking platform is designed to offer simple, low-cost mobile personal banking tools and credit in real-time, on any carrier network anywhere in the world. The technology is accessible from any smartphone, and reduces system complexities, lowers costs for all involved, and reduces fraud.
The MONI website adds, “[w]e do not believe in the anarchy of destructing the old, we believe in future-proof evolution. We are building a hub connecting the current banking, payment and credit provisioning systems to new technologies such as cryptocurrencies.” SF-based micro VC Hard Yaka was a seed-round investor, joined by Digital Currency Group, Formation 8, Maxfield Capital and individual investors.
Startup: Ovamba Solutions
Location: Chevy Chase, Maryland and Douala, Cameroon
Founders: Marvin R. R. Cole, Viola Llewellyn
Funding to Date: Undisclosed
Ovamba’s platform combines modern technology with traditional cultural norms to offer accredited and institutional investors in African SMEs sound and socially responsible opportunities. The firm offers innovative Sharia compliant finance products, and ecommerce solutions to promote growth. They also created a natural language chatbot that enables Africans to apply for funding from Ovamba in their own language and receive business coaching to help them grow and run better businesses.
Ovamba’s backers include UK-based GLI Finance, and Crowdcredit, Japan’s leading fintech startups investor.
ShareIn is one of the fintech startups that provides a turnkey solution to crowdfunding, offering both a technology and a compliance service. ShareIn provides the platform, which is certified by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, and also provides technical expertise and licensing. Users can directly crowdfund from their website or run their own crowdfunding platform.
In a case study published by Scottish Development International, co-founder and CEO Jude Cook explained, “We have a niche business. We provide the tech and compliance, while the companies find their appropriate crowd which then backs them,” she revealed. “The beauty behind the business is that organizations can reach their crowd. And there is no typical investment amount: it can be anything from a hundred pounds right up to five-figure sums.”
Startup: Quandl Data and Analytics
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Founders: Abraham Thomas, Tammer Kamel
Funding to Date: CAN$20.4M
The Quandl platform aggregates data from sources that extend beyond traditional Wall Street market sources.
Here’s how Crunchbase describes this powerful start-up: Quandl offers essential core financial and economic data alongside a suite of unique, alpha-generating alternative data. With an unrivaled delivery system—whether through API or popular analytic tools, such as R, Python and Excel—Quandl has cemented a reputation for understanding and providing what professional quantitative analysts need and want. The Quandl user base includes analysts from the world’s top hedge funds, asset managers and investment banks.
Two Menlo Park VC’s, lead Nexus Venture Partners and August Capital, invested CA$15M in the firm’s series B round.