Live Blogging from Finovate Startup – Morning Session

by Erin McCune on April 29, 2008

in Banking, Conferences & Meetings, ECommerce, Payments News, San Francisco, Technology

I am live blogging from Finovate Startup in San Francisco. Jim Bruene and his team at NetBanker have gathered 40 startups, rebrandings, and company debuts in online banking and finance. Each participant has a brief 5 minutes to demo their product so I’ll be typing as fast as I can. (Please forgive typos!)



Demo'ing SafeCentral. Prevention of online identify theft. Patent-pending desktop software, engage with networking security component to prevent phishing 

First demo'd login to PayPal with a PC infected with a key logging software – show that keylogger captured screen images and all text entered into PayPal's site. 

Then, launch secured browser session with SafeCentral which blocks keylogger. Dedicated browser session with no URL address, user can only connect to sites they have setup in advance. We were able to view Ray's personal accounts at BofA. 

Afterwards, opened keylogger software and demonstrated that it was blind to transactions conducted via SafeCentral. 

Everything can be private labeled. 

Credit Karma 

Completely free credit score – with no hidden fees – and provide consumers to monitor and improve their credit score over time. Allow consumers to monetize credit score by offering them discounted prices based on the consumers profile. 

Fewer than 20 questions – takes 2 minutes to setup. Over 56% of site visitors start sign in process; 86% get free credit score. All queries against score are "soft" so they do not impact score. Provide consumer education about credit scores, how their score ranks in a national distribution – e.g. 712 credit score is in the 45 percentile over all, 38% in Credit Karma. 

Karma Offers are customized discounts based on profile (geography, credit score). For each offer, show user approval (how compelling), how exclusive the offer is, and the percentage of users are taking advantage of the offer (subscribing, or using). Consumers must explicitly submit their own info to the sponsors. Credit Karma does not provide data to advertisers. 


Server behind financial institution firewall that allows secure interaction with bank and investment firm via RSS, personalized home pages (iGoogle, Netvibes), widgets, and instant messages, etc. Enable consumer to access banking information from within page where they spend their time, rather than open a separate browser session or tab. Enables personalized messages, advertising, etc. 

In addition, enables social networking with customers – via Facebook. WorkLight secure overlay via Facebook allows discussion board where customers can interact with one another. Opt-in customer channel. 


$136 million in transactions, 670K members thus far. Allow borrowers to make a loan listing and allow anyone to bid on the loan. Similar to a bank loan application, but – like eBay – you can post pictures and personalize your listing to attract investors. Feature demo'd today – you can also create social capital by inviting people to endorse you as a borrower. Lenders can do an advance search to see only those borrowers with social capital. Borrows on Prosper are 35% less likely to default if they have a social endorsement. 


All the way from Rhode Island "a suburb of Boston" – online account opening and funding is a top priority for banks but is notoriously hard to get right due to complexity and risk. Implemented by over 200 banks so far. Demo fictional bank, ABC Bank, but is typically branded. Electronically sign disclosure and application to start, then complete application data. Select account types/features that you want. Variety of 3rd party checks, confirm ID, credit check, – meanwhile, validation questions. Then based on 3rd party evaluation,offer additional products. Once approved, prompt consumer to fund new account. For example, with ACH debit from existing checking account. Validate that you own that account by entering user name, pw, multifactor ID as appropriate (enabled by Yodlee). Then allowed to enter amount to be transfer. Account created on bank's core system, account numbers generated, accounts funded. 

Boulevard R. 

Providing personalized financial advice and insight into financial planning. Online, 3 step process, to provide online actionable, unbiased financial advice. Allow banks and brokerages to position products in front of highly qualified consumers. 

Goals, Plan, Support – developed in conjunction with a leading behavioral economist at MIT. Determine goals, outline vision for retirement (or whatever the goal is), and then outline steps necessary too archive the goal. Work with certified financial planners to create unique actionable plan for each user. Key next steps, high level advice, how much they should be savings. Detailed next steps – with links to products that are appropriate for the user. Specific advice, simulations for portfolios. Finally, dashboard to track progress, monitor next steps, and provide access to advice videos that address specific situations. Highly personalized based on questions. 

Clear path to financial security – painless and affordable. 


Today's first demo on a mobile phone. Secure mobile financial applications, secure access to healthcare, and secure authentication. Today demo remote remittance (send and receive) as well as remote access to "personal vault" 

Sending funds: Enter PIN and view account balance. Decide to send currency to another account (demo sending to himself, in order to show receipt as well). Send 100 Euros – application provides US – Euro exchange rate, service charge, and ability to add note to recipient – with invoice number or any other notification. Technology used to secure the application is same technology used on desktop for bond trader. 

Receiving funds: Upon receipt, accept fund and choose to 1) pick up cash at branch, 2) deposit into Euro account (a couple other options I missed). 

Next demo'd secure vault of personal healthcare information. Doctor name, allergies, emergency contacts, immunization status, as well as any other critical documents. For example, passport numbers and scanned image of passport or other document. Ability to email documents from 

Secure authentication on phone – rather than separate token that must be carried. 


Not available today due to development delays. 

FindABetterBank (Facilitas) 

Helps banks and credit unions find customers, helps consumer switch banks fast, and provides feedback to banks and credit unions on why consumers are switching. 

Enter location, features you want (online bill pay, overdraft protection, etc.) and save this information in order to provide to banks. FindABetterBank estimates for consumer fees for each account based on questions regarding behavior/usage. Once again information is made available to banks. Then site lists potential bank options, including breakdown of estimated fees, percentage of requested features offered, etc. Once consumer has made their selection, FindABetterBank provides everything they need to open an account – address of local branch, phone number, etc. Banks can customize interface to interact with customer when they've chosen them as their new bank. 

Enabling switching – demo leaving Citibank. Upload to FindABetterBank a standard Quicken or MSMoney file downloaded from Citibank website. Bankswitcher analyzed transcation activity file to determine which trx need to be switched and which can be ignored. Cleans up payee data as necessary. Distinguish between online bill pay and automatic withdrawal transactions. Where a form is necessary to change withdrawal, form is included in PDF for consumer to submit to Biller. 

This is going to make the bankers crazy! 


Track online accounts, transfer money between your accounts, send money to other people (e.g. roommates). Attempted to demo using Google account to sign into Buxfer but technical difficulties. Can store pw on Buxfer, or download Google Gears or Firefox extension that allows one to save pw securely. Support connection to 300 banks and FI (although possible to use with others). 

Guardian Analytics 

Concerns about fraud are the main concern about online financial services. FraudMAP solution allows financial institutions to protect and ensure trust via online channels. Real time monitoring of transaction activity, both real time and after the fact. Allow risk manager to view suspect transactions, see full timeline of user activity (sites, ISP, how often they log in, what time of day, what they do online) and decides whether or not the activity is suspicious. Non-suspect activity is color coded green. Risky activities are color coded red. Shows that fraudster has taken over consumer account and is attempting to create fraudulent transactions. 

FraudMatch feature allows linkage between suspicious transactions. Financial institutions can identify as potential fraud and stop transactions before they occur. 

Impressive user interface, immediately scan a lot of data and pin-point issues. 


What is most important factor in determining which 1) rates and fees, 2) Online banking capabilities, 3) customer service, 4/5) branch & ATM locations. Most FIs only offer real time statement and  bill pay. Very few innovations over the last few years. Small handful of banks are using Jwaala money tracker. Either extension to existing online banking/bill pay cabilities or replace them. 

Web 2.0 features – dashboard, with multiple widgits (like iGoogle, Netvibes). Customize widgit to show transaction history by vendor, dollar amount, etc. (e.g. Costco transactions over threshold). Once you've created a specific snapshot view in a widgit, you can put that widget anywhere – your homepage, your blog, your iGoogle page, your Netvibes page, etc. 

Important to be able to find things. Online banking search is cumbersome – if it exists at all. Jwaala provides native language search, for example "costco around 100 last quarter" or "date to date" 

Transaction list features logos of vendors, categorizes, etc. 

Bank of Credit Union website looks a lot more like Quicken. 


Free stock trading coupled with Web 2.0 community.

Demo'd buying one share of VISA. Fast execution (less than 1 second). $2500 limit, 10 trades a month. After that $4.50. There has always been a strong financial community online. But how do you know about community members own investment success? Users can share their  Zecco portfolio performance (e.g. up 30%) so that you know how much you want to value their opinion. For instance, lets say you question your recent VISA transaction. Look on Zecco to see who else is trading VISA. You can view their profiles – showing holdings, performance, trade history, etc. Users can annotate trades and share their notes with others. Zecco integrates Motley Fool ratings. Like other Web 2.0 sties you can make "friends" so you can track activity of other investors. You can also communicate directly with other members via email or via real time chat. Can post on their wall (e.g. Facebook). Join a group, etc.

Zecco community sentiment metric: Bear vs. Bull based on amount of buying and selling. Most held vs. leas held, worse performing portfolios, better performing. See sentiment trend over time. 

Guard ID 

Product is called ID Vault. It is a small device with smart chip that securely stores login credentials for financial institutions, e-commerce sites, online news services, etc. Select financial institution and enter IDVault PIN. Utilize GuardID network to track financial institution websites and determine that consumer is connecting to actual IP address associated with the bank. 

Once logged into bank website, not using Internet Explorer. Instead using private browser "SecureView" without any plug-ins. No need to enter URL. Also protects from Phishing by preventing login to bogus sites. But what if you lose your IDVault and it comes into the wrong hands. If guest PIN wrong three times IDVault is locked. 

Sold via BestBuy and other consumer outlets – 150K units sold so far. 


Allow FI to save money by eliminating printing and mailing of paper statements, bills, and other documents. Why are so many financial documents still being printed in mailed when banks are trying so hard to truncate paper. For consumers, electronic is more time consuming and frustrating than current paper process. 

Automatically collect and organize documents. No scanning. No need for consumer to click and download from multiple sites. Securely share documents with trusted advisors; ability to revoke sharing at a future date as necessary. 

Secure login, then collects historical documents from consumer's financial institution. 

File cabinet to manage documents. List by financial institution and account. User never has to enter data – VaultStreet downloads from financial institution and automatically tags with metadata (FI, account, time period, document type, etc.). User can modify metadata if necessary to correct. 

Authenticates documents (easy to modify electronic documents). 

Cake Financial 

Consumer investment – help nearly 90 million American investors who currently spend #150 billion to have someone else manage their investments. 3 key take aways: 

1) See everything in one place. Proprietary aggregation platform. Link unlimited number of investment accounts, including up to 10 years of transactional history. Calculate daily. monthly, YTD, and average annual return. Takes minutes, is free, and you don't have to move your assets. See your gain/risk on individual holdings, plus over all aggregate. Get ranked vis a vis other people to see your ranking. 

2) Community with credibility. See overview of all activity in my network (friends, family, people I trust). Facebook news feed on your investment. You don't have to visit site. Email them to you or available on Facebook. View someone else's profile. See graph of how your performance is doing against his (graphed over time). See his metrics vs. ours.See all his positions – when purchased, how much, how it fits in his portfolios. Can see his recent journal postings. And can tie transaction history to his opinions posted in community. Look up VISA – see who is buying, activity metrics. 

3) Cake Take – one consolidated metric to show 


Let's you leverage power of community to save money and make better decisions when shopping for financial services. First vertical: mortgages. 

No adds, no sponsored links. Does not sell your personal data. Rate database based on information from banks on a daily basis. Consumers can post the rates they have received on their loans. As a user you can sort by rate, consumer rating, pricing, mortgage term, etc. 

Show rate data that matches your specific financial profile – not just teaser rates. See rates based on your info and what people like you have received in the past. 

Consumers can rate banks, based on user experience and other 

Banks would like to post local rates. Loan officers would like to have a blog (but would take months to get thru bank legal and marketing departments). Bank can monitor user comments/reactions on their brand (get alerts). Can reply to specific comments. 


Mint was launched 7 months ago. Leader in online personal financial applications. 2  min to setup, alert via email or SMS if their are any issues with your account. Looks cool compared to bank sites and other personal financial software. 

Updates since Mint was last demo'd at Finnovate (October 2007) 

World's easiest budgeting system. Compare average spend vs. national average. 

Patent-pending categorization has been improved. 

SpendSpace – see spending across time, compare against people in your community, other locations. For example, in San Francisco, people spend an average of $30 a month on coffee. $35 in Seattle. 

Business model is to help users spend less and save more. Recommend financial products and services. For example, move money in checking account to and eTrade account and earn up to $ per year. 

12% click thru rate for Mint advertisers 

Moving into mortgages and student loans, offering coupons based on spend. 

Mint now supports not just balances but investment portfolio across various brokerage accounts. See whole portfolio. See individual accounts and holdings. Expose all the fees that your brokerage is charging you (Not just commissions – account closings, etc.) 


Preview of a new service that will be launching in June. 

Student loan service. Tuition fees rapidly increasing. Credit turmoil is making it harder for students, with limited credit history. Help students get low cost loans from friends and family. Formalize the loan and get funds to the school. 

Social networking component – Pledge Process – to reach out to friends and family and request loans. Register and build your profile. Share activities, why worthy of a loan. Then enter email addresses and contact info for potential lenders to send link to web page. Student can use template or customize look and feel. Borrower dashboard to see status of loan, who has committed, who has funded. 

Potential lender receives email, can click to view profile, three choices pledge, remind me, cannot help. Lender registers to create a GreenNote account. Sees progress against students goal. 

Later, provide confidential info to formalize loan. GreenNote creates documentation and facilitates loan process. [Unclear whether GreenNote facilitates the subsequent payback of the loans or not.] 

Closed pilot working with a number of schools. Not evaluating student's credit. Only helping them to connect with people they already know. Saving 500, 600 basis points vs. private loans available in the industry. Encourage students to first get grants and federal student loans, then use GreenNote to access funding from friends and family. 

Motley Fool CAPS

CAPS is first and foremost about community generated stock ratings. Includes analyst data from 200 brokerage and portfolio managers. 6000 rated stocks. Average 5 star CAPS have rated stocks returned 30% over the last 6 years.

Similar to CAKE you can track friends and their portfolio, track specific stocks, etc.

CAPS makes daily stock recommendations personalized for you based on your preferences, your portfolio,

Drill down by company to see detailed financial data and recommendations.

Stock Screener that enables combination of community sentiment and fundamental financial research metrics.

Find new stocks, validate stocks you already hold. Integrate with website, etc.

That concludes the morning session… off to the exhibit hall to learn more.

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