ATB Financial introduces robot branch workers

The march of the robots continues, as Canada’s ATB Financial hires dancing humanoids to work in some of its Calgary branches.

ATB becomes the latest bank to test Pepper, the 48-inch humanoid developed by Japanese group Softbank.

Customers at two branches will be able to interact with Pepper through speech and a touchscreen tablet, getting info on products and services.

In addition, the robot will grill customers on their financial literacy through a quiz, take selfies and dance.

Dave Mowat, CEO, ATB, says: “Pepper is cutting-edge technology. We’re excited for her to say hello to our customers and tell them about ATB — or just dance together for a bit.”

Pepper has already made its debut at the flagship Tokyo branch of Mizuho and is also taking orders and payments in some Pizza Hut Asia restaurants thanks to an app built by the MasterCard Labs team in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank of Australia has enlisted another humanoid robot, PAL Robotics’ Chip, to help it carry out research into AI.

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Vantiv to Acquire Paymetric

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Vantiv, Inc. (VNTV), a leading provider of payments processing services and related technology solutions for merchants and financial institutions, announced today its agreement to acquire Paymetric, a portfolio company of Francisco Partners.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Paymetric automates B2B payment workflows within enterprise systems, including SAP, Oracle, Hybris, Salesforce and more. Paymetric also tokenizes payments data within these systems in order to enable secure storage of customer information and history.

Card-based transactions are the fastest growing segment within the $30 trillion B2B payments vertical1, whether acquired through the web, a mobile device or a customer service center. Yet nearly 70% of companies lack the back-office capabilities and systems integration necessary to efficiently accept these transactions2. By integrating leading ERP and CRM systems with robust payments capabilities, Paymetric helps the world’s most recognized companies optimize workflows, save time and reduce costs.

“Acquiring Paymetric builds upon our strategy to expand into high-growth channels and verticals,” said Charles Drucker, president and chief executive officer of Vantiv. “Paymetric’s deep system integration and workflow automation expertise will enhance our already-leading ecommerce technology capabilities. Paymetric’s B2B focus will also enable us to enter this fast-growing vertical in a unique and differentiated way. I am pleased to welcome Paymetric’s employees to the Vantiv team, and I am excited about all of the great things that we will be able to do together.”

The acquisition continues Vantiv’s M&A strategy to leverage its platform and expand and diversify the channels and clients it serves.

“By becoming part of Vantiv, we will be able to accelerate the development of our advanced payments integration and security solutions,” said Asif Ramji, president and chief executive officer of Paymetric. “Together, Paymetric and Vantiv will now both be able to offer an expanded suite of services to our clients and partners. We are excited to become part of Vantiv.”

“Where Asif and the team at Paymetric have taken the business over the past several years is truly exceptional,” said Peter Christodoulo, partner at Francisco Partners. “Paymetric has become the clear leader in providing critical electronic payments infrastructure and security into enterprise environments, and we are proud to have helped play a role in building this enduring platform. We wish the team continued success as part of Vantiv, where we know they will continue to do great things.”

The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2017, subject to required U.S. antitrust clearance and other customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Credit Suisse acted as the lead financial advisor to Vantiv, and Benesch served as its legal advisor. William Blair & Company acted as the exclusive financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal advisor to Paymetric.

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Mizuho to go live with DLT-based trade finance application

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Mizuho Bank is preparing to conduct its first live trade financing transactions over a distributed ledger developed in association with IBM.

The project will entail the exchange of digitised letters of credit for actual trade transactions between Japan and overseas clients, with all documents created, stored and shared on a permissioned ledger between importers, exporters and their banks. The system will also enable all parties to view the latest shipment status data, which can result in reduced trade transaction and processing costs.

The progreamme is the latest blockchain experiment conducted by the Japanese financial group, which is running a multitude of tests of the technology across its operations, from financial record-keeping to client document exchange.

Daisuke Yamada, managing executive officer and chief digital innovation officer at Mizuho, describes the bank as a market leader in Japan in applying the technology to its processes and workflows.

“We continue to work aggressively towards expanding our portfolio of its implementations across the group,” he says.

This first phase of the trade finance project will lead to Mizuho conducting actual trade transactions based on Hyperledger Fabric in June 2017.

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Starling Bank To Incorporate Pay By Bank For Online Purchases

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By PYMNTS

Starling, the digital bank, has inked a partnership with Pay by Bank, the mobile payment app of Vocalink, to enable users to buy things online.

According to a report, Pay by Bank app’s technology is already being used by Barclay’s with its Pingit app, but the report noted this marks the first time a digital challenger bank has decided to use the service, which relies on digital tokens instead of requiring users to provide account and card details when making purchases online.

In an interview, Starling Operating Chief Julian Sawyer said using the technology of Pay by Bank is “important as it not only allows customers to bank and transact on the go, but also to benefit from a greater range of choice and sense of security.”

What’s more, he said, “Pay by Bank app’s ‘token’ technology means financial data never leaves the customer’s banking app during a transaction, staying safe and secure.”

Vocalink, which is a consortium of 18 U.K. banks, including Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland, was sold to Mastercard last year. The app, which was known as Zapp, was renamed Pay by Bank last year, noted the report.

“The fact that Starling Bank, which is known for its pioneering approach to banking and technology, has committed to Pay by Bank app reflects growing recognition that the service is fast becoming the ‘standard’ for mobile payments,” said the Managing Director of Pay by Bank app Rajiv Garodia in the same report.

Earlier this month, Starling Bank announced a partnership with investment mobile app Moneybox. The partnership will provide Starling customers with access to Moneybox’s suite of savings and investing tools. Starling is reportedly the first challenger bank to integrate in this way with Moneybox. Leveraging Starling’s open APIs in the integration, customer data will be shareable in a secure way between the two apps. Transactions will occur instantaneously.

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Financial API manager Quovo raises $10 million

Quovo, a data platform providing insights and connectivity for financial accounts, today announced it has raised $10 million in Series B funding.

F-Prime Capital and Napier Park Financial Partners co-led the round and were joined by existing investors, FinTech Collective and Long Light Capital. Quovo will use the funds to accelerate the growth of its suite of data analytics offerings, which include the company’s recently launched bank authentication API and Quovo Connect module.

By providing efficient access to financial account aggregation and analytics via APIs and front-end dashboards, Quovo has played a key role in driving the ongoing digital transformation in wealth management. Demand for high-quality financial account data is rapidly growing as the broader financial services industry turns to data to optimize their client relationships and drive valuable insights. Leading this trend, Quovo has expanded across multiple financial services verticals, offering solutions for banking, lending, insurance, and more.

This expansion has most recently led to the launch and growth of Quovo’s Bank Authentication API and the launch of Quovo Connect, an easy-to-use module that offers an elegant user experience for adding financial accounts from thousands of institutions. The new Bank API and Quovo Connect are both easily embedded into any website or mobile app with just a few lines of code.

“We’re excited to see the continued traction and adoption of our services across the financial services and FinTech space,” said Lowell Putnam, CEO and co-founder of Quovo. “Our mission to help firms build strong, data-driven client relationships is shared by the smallest startups and some of the country’s largest institutions. Investors are committed to helping Quovo flourish, validating our success to-date and helping us drive the innovation our customers demand. This new funding will enable us to build upon our success and help anyone trying to innovate or disrupt within financial services.”

“Quovo has a role to play wherever data is being used to build stronger financial relationships. We are impressed with Quovo’s adoption within the wealth management industry and are excited to see what they can accomplish as they expand more broadly across financial services,” said David Jegen, a partner at F-Prime Capital, who will be joining Quovo’s board.

Ned May, a principal at Napier Park Financial Partners, will also be joining Quovo’s board of directors. “We seek to back differentiated platforms with leading management teams and provide the resources and deep financial services expertise to help innovative companies reach their full potential,” said May. “Quovo’s rapid growth across multiple industry verticals underscores the strength and importance of its platform, and we are thrilled to partner with Lowell and the entire team to support Quovo’s next phase of growth.”

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Korean mobile commerce company Tmon raises $115 million, now valued at $1.2 billion

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By VB

Tmon, a mobile ecommerce company based in Korea, has closed a $115 million funding round from new investor Simone Investment Managers, with participation from existing shareholders, including a number of sovereign wealth funds.

The latest tranche of funding elevates Tmon into the much-coveted “unicorn” brigade, with an estimated value of around $1.2 billion.

Founded in 2010 as Ticket Monster, Tmon, as it’s known locally, was acquired by former daily deals darling LivingSocial in 2011, which sold the company to Groupon two years later, which in turn sold a controlling stake in Tmon to global investment firm KKR, Hong Kong’s Anchor Equity Partners, and Tmon’s management. Groupon retains a 41 percent stake in the company.

Above: Tmon

Today, Tmon operates across a handful of core verticals, including a mobile grocery shopping service and an online travel meta-search platform. Its latest cash injection comes just eight months after it raised $40 million in funding.

“This is a significant milestone for Tmon because our new and existing partners have affirmed their confidence in our business and support our vision to change the e-commerce customer experience through our ‘technology and platform’ approach,” said Tmon CEO Daniel Shin.

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