Finovate, now in its 10th year as the only Fintech-oriented conference focused entirely on innovative technologies in the sector, was launched in 2007 in New York and has now grown to include an additional 4 editions in Hong Kong, Dubai, London and San José, California.
Having spent some 5 years without hosting an event in Asia, their return to the region has coincided with the opening of our Kuala Lumpur offices, from where we are better placed to serve our Asian client base and address the growing need for services of this kind on a rapidly-growing continent.
We are looking forward to participating in the upcoming Hong Kong event on November 7th and 8th, at which we will be demoing our latest innovation: BFM + API Hub. API Hub is a fundamental part of the move towards Open Banking, which together with our tried and tested BFM (Business Financial Management) technology, provides a ground-breaking solution for banks and financial institutions in an increasingly competitive setting.
Strands offers a 360º banking solution for previously under-served SME owners and freelancers, using a white-label BFM and API Hub integrated product, providing them with a single entry point for managing their business finances and day-to-day operations.
Don’t consign personal financial management apps to the ash heap of technology just yet.
Granted, on Thursday Prosper Marketplace is discontinuing Prosper Daily, an app formerly known as BillGuard that helped users monitor their finances and credit scores. And the next day Capital One Financial is set to close the money management app Level Money.
Yet some observers say the end of those stand-alone apps is part of an inevitable shake-up in a crowded market, and they remain upbeat about the future of digital PFM services.
The trick will be in convincing many skeptical bankers to keep experimenting with these technologies. Historically, banks that have offered PFM technologies have failed to win over enough users to make them succeed.
“Ask many financial institutions today about PFM, and many will say it’s unnecessary, unutilized, unwanted, and, increasingly, dead,” Stephen Greer and Daniel Latimore of Celent wrote in a research report in July. “Many vendors confess that the name PFM can stop a sales conversation dead in its tracks.”
Different this time?
KeyBank’s HelloWallet provides financial wellness scores, helpful tips and spending alerts. “It is just not a tab in online banking,” says Dennis Devine, head of the bank’s consumer and business banking segment.
To Greer, the biggest reason why PFM flopped is because it required too much effort by users, and often delivered depressing news like “you’re broke.” As Greer told American Banker, “Financial management for most people is not very fun, and at times, very dismal.”
PFM could bounce back, Greer said — but only if the experience greatly differs from years past. Rather than burying the services in the abyss of a tab in online banking, PFM services should become a timely, integral part of the banking experience such as mobile alerts or informed suggestions by branch employees.
Signs of the rethinking are already there. Capital One sends customers alerts when it thinks they have been hit with double charges.Wells Fargo is testing a digital dashboard that will let consumers see where they shared their financial data. KeyBank acquired HelloWallet, a technology company that spits out financial health scores. In August, Strands, a PFM vendor, announced its first bank partner in the U.S., Huntington Bancshares of Columbus, Ohio. And the rise of chatbots holds additional promise at revolutionizing the services.
Efforts to rebrand PFM — as one’s “personal financial experience” or “financial health and wellness” — could help, too.
Greer predicts that PFM, round two, will help banks engage more often with their customers and secure more cross-selling opportunities as they build trust.
Data-sharing trends could provide a helpful push. Europe is gearing up for a mandate that makes consumer data more portable among financial institutions or between them and fintech apps. While the U.S. has yet to adopt similar regulations, many expect banks to follow suit to stay competitive. Case in point: While investing in APIs to help bank account data flow to Intuit products might have seemed laughable in past years, some of the biggest banks like Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase have done so in recent months.
“The envelope is being pushed by what is the industry standard,” Greer said.
Cesar Richardson, vice president for Strands America, said the first version of its product for Huntington will roll out early next year. The bank will also make the technology available to small-business customers who could, say, get an alert that cautions them they are about to run out of cash by a certain day. The new features will not get buried within the login screen, he said.
Manish Grover, author of “Connected! How #Platforms of Today Will Become Apps of Tomorrow,” has an even bolder vision of how PFM ought to evolve. Grover sees a world where banks are crunching transaction data across various bank accounts, and more notably, various industries. Imagine a bank sending an alert that cautions a person to avoid buying something on Amazon in order to meet one of his longer-term goals. “That’s where PFM is supposed to go, but it is not there,” Grover said.
Banks must take baby steps over a long period of trial and error. As Grover put it, “One innovation leads to another.”
The Author: Mary Wisniewski
Mary is deputy editor of BankThink. She also writes on a variety of subjects as part of American Banker’s bank tech team.
This month has been a particularly conference-packed one, with many of the most important Fintech events taking place around the world in quick succession. The Strands team are in full swing, giving presentations and mixing with key players in the industry, across all continents. As we head into June and summer, we wanted to take a moment to recap on what went on in May and share a few highlights with you.
Our first stop was in Vietnam on 15th May, with Marketing Director, Victoria Yasinetskaya speaking at the “Implementing the APEC Women in STEM Framework – Workshop on Building a Pipeline for Girls and Women and Coding the Way to Success” event, and opening debate about why finding the means for women to achieve financial inclusion is so vital. Read more about a new vision of the role women play in the world of finance and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), historically male-dominated sectors.
Just a couple of days to unwind, and CIO Marc Torrens and Sales Manager Sanziana set off for Rwanda and Dot Finance – Africa’s largest Fintech event for financial institutions, established technology vendors and disruptive startups to define the future of finance in Africa.
Whilst this was happening, there were more Stranders at another hub of global finance – Singapore. Known for being well ahead of the curve, and reinventing itself into a center of FinTech innovation, Singapore hosted a number of financial technology events in May. Firstly we attended ASEAN Strategy Forum Banking, exploring the country and region-level challenges in Asia. Secondly, our general manager Pau Velando joined IFC’s Digital Finance Partners Meeting – a must-attend event bringing together all industry experts and thought-leaders to exchange innovative ideas and discuss issues facing financial services today.
Closing out our month, was the New Banking and Financial Forum in Mexico – a one-day event that brought together thought-leaders in financial industry to learn more about data protection, payment and market trends.
Mobey Forum – the global industry association that has empowered banks and other financial institutions to lead the future of digital services for the last 10 years, is driving change within the financial services sector, moving towards a new relationship-based model of banking; a two-way conversation with the client.
“In the future, banks will have a very different relationship with their customers, offering them the service that best fits their needs at any time. This new banking paradigm will require banks to be one step ahead of their customers and be agile enough to make personalized and contextual service recommendations, both of their own and from third parties. We are moving into a new era where banks and other companies, including FinTechs, will cooperate for the benefit of the user. This is something that is already happening in several countries where banks offer FinTech services to their clients.”, says Oscar Sala, VP of Product Strategy at Strands.
New banking regulations, such as PSD2 or OFX, will enable a universal ‘open banking model’, allowing the end user choose the company to manage their finances, or move their money using an external application.
The future of banking is collaborative, connected and designed to gain value through scale. This new directive poses a huge opportunity for financial institutions to improve the relationship they have with their customers, using historical user data to know their clients better and adopt the role of ‘life partner’, pre-empting their needs and providing personalized solutions. The new banking context is more about listening to your customers than speaking to them.
Mobey Forum has established a new ‘Open Banking’ work group, headed up by Mr. Sala, VP of Product Strategy at Strands, and Jordi Guaus, Director of Digital Marketing at Caixabank, with a clear focus on the opportunities behind these new regulations to promote a new, customer-centric online banking paradigm.
“We are very grateful to Mobey Forum for giving us the opportunity to lead this group in partnership with Caixabank, one of the most popular banks in innovation. This just goes to show that there are real benefits to the bank-FinTech tandem for consumers. We are thrilled because this opportunity recognizes all the work we have been doing at Strands for the past 10 years, helping banks around the world to understand their clients better and make personalized recommendations. We would like to invite more banks and FinTechs to join this group to share their experiences and help build a brighter future for financial services.”, says Sala.
Strands is the FinTech partner for banks. With the mission of delivering the very best in digital money management software (PFM, BFM), Strands leverages more than 10 years’ expertise in Big Data and Machine Learning. Today, Strands powers FinTech innovation in over 500 banks and serves more than 100 million banking customers worldwide. Clients include Barclays, BBVA, Bank of Montreal, Deutsche Bank, Israel Discount Bank, Commercial Bank of Africa.
Recently, Strands has expanded its technology portfolio to cover a wide range of digital banking products. Strands Business Financial Management (BFM) – a solution tailored to SME banking customers – addresses the underserved SME market, helping banks to become true business partners to their SME customers, and Strands API-HUB a product that connects banks with third parties, helping banks to reduce the impact of PSD2 and other regulations, and accelerate banking disruption.
Fintech company is serving 100m customers of the world’s largest banks including Barclays, BBVA and Deutsche Bank
Barcelona – 4th May 2017-Strands, a leading provider of personal financial management (PFM) and machine learning solutions for banks, today announced that 500 banks and 100 million banking customers worldwide are using digital banking services powered by the company’s award-winning technology.
The company is now active in 87 countries, and serves 500 of the world’s largest banks including; Barclays, Bank of Montreal, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Commercial Bank of Africa, Davivienda, Deutsche Bank, and Interbank. This represents a significant milestone for both Strands and the wider market, as it highlights the accelerating demand for digital money management providers from customers regardless of geography and growing collaboration between fintech companies and banks.
Erik Brieva, CEO, Strands, said: “To deliver innovative services, meet regulatory demands, and lay the foundation for long-term growth, financial institutions must make the shift from transaction provider to insights-driven business. By harnessing customer data banks will be able to deliver personalised services that go beyond simply moving money to help customers manage their money and ultimately meet life goals. But banks cannot do this alone. To make this shift they must collaborate with specialist technology companies. The 500 bank milestone is a testament to how financial institutions across the globe are transforming their businesses in collaboration with fintech organisations like ours.”
The company offers a wide range of digital banking technologies, including Strands PFM, and works with financial institutions to shift their services towards a more customer-centric model.
Money movement to money management
Over the past year, Strands has secured a number of major deals with financial institutions across the globe. This includes Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) – Kenya’s largest privately owned bank – which chose Strands PFM to underpin its mobile-first digital banking service in Eastern Africa, CBA Loop. Within the last year, Strands has also successfully expanded into LATAM, signing deals with Davivienda, the third-largest bank in Colombia, and InterBank, a major Peruvian bank.
Based on the deals signed in Q12017 alone, the company has already reached 50% of its annual revenue target. This represents a 500% increase in sales compared to Q12016. Most recently, the company has signed deals with major banks in Argentina, Brazil and the US.
In addition to this, Strands is working with existing customers including Barclays and Deutsche Bank to evolve their current digital banking platforms. Barclays’ customers can now manage their money by tracking spending, setting budget limits and saving goals using Barclays ‘Money Tools’ underpinned by Strands.
By forging strong relationships with other industry leaders, the company has also been able to rapidly integrate its software into existing and new systems whether bank-led or third party, improving functionality and accelerating time to market. Strands’ technology can be integrated with any core banking system including FIS, Temenos and Fiserv.
Strands Meta-Aggregator empowers banks to provide customers a holistic financial picture by bringing all of their accounts together in one place. To enable this Strands has secured partnerships with leading account aggregation companies like Envestnet | Yodlee which has expanded Strands’ potential addressable market through open APIs. The alliance between Strands and account aggregators is designed to offer banks a direct path to digital banking transformation.
Digital banking revolution
Recently, Strands has expanded its technology portfolio to now cover a wide range of digital banking products. Strands Business Financial Management (BFM) – a solution tailored to SME banking customers – addresses the underserved SME market. With BFM Strands hopes to revolutionise the digital experience in SME banking, helping banks to become true business partners to their SME customers. With millennial entrepreneurial ventures on the rise throughout the world, many banks are expected to incorporate Strands BFM in the near future.
Strands is in its strongest trading position since the company’s foundation. With a customer base that includes the world’s largest banks, and an ambitious executive team in place to support the increasing demand for its solutions, Strands is anticipating 2017 to be another year of strong growth.
Strands raised $55million in funding between 2006 and 2007. Since fund raising the company has seen strong organic growth and has been cash flow positive for the last five years.
Also published at:
Strands is the FinTech partner for banks. With the mission of delivering the very best in digital money management software (PFM, BFM), Strands leverages more than 10 years’ expertise in Big Data and Machine Learning. Today, Strands powers FinTech innovation in over 500 banks and serves more than 100 million banking customers worldwide. Clients include Barclays, BBVA, Bank of Montreal, Deutsche Bank, Israel Discount Bank, Commercial Bank of Africa. www.strands.com