More comprehensive analytics for credit analysis, data protection solutions and quantum computing software are among the new innovations from eight financial technology entrepreneurs selected to participate in the 2014 FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific.
The Lab, which was launched by Accenture (NYSE:ACN) in June 2014, is a collaboration in Hong Kong between Accenture and leading financial institutions, supported by Cyberport and Airbnb. It is designed to nurture early-stage companies from around the world that are developing new technologies for the financial services sector with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
The eight startups were chosen by leading industry executives from a wide range of applicants and will receive senior-level mentoring to help them develop and commercialize their innovations and connect with potential customers at top institutions. The eight companies selected are: Advanced Merchant Payments, AtCipher.com, Beijing Wecash Wonder Technology, FinSuite, I Think Security, iDGate, Jocata Financial Advisory & Technology Services and QxBranch.
"We are very pleased with the number and quality of applications to the inaugural FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, particularly the broad range of solution areas and the wide geographic base from which the applications have been made," said Sushil Saluja, senior managing director, Financial Services at Accenture. "The solutions proposed by the 2014 Lab applicants selected help provide better data security, analysis and risk assessments to assist financial institutions across Asia-Pacific in improving the quality of service for financial services customers. Our goal with the Lab is to help foster innovation in financial services using technology, reflecting our commitment at Accenture to spearhead innovative technological solutions that make a real difference in the everyday lives of people."
The entrepreneurs chosen for the Lab will be mentored for 12 weeks by leading executives from financial services firms through a series of panel discussions, workshops, leadership coaching and networking opportunities. At the end of the program, the entrepreneurs will be given an opportunity to present their concepts to potential investors and financial industry executives.
Supporting financial institutions include: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Bank of China (Hong Kong), Barclays, China Construction Bank (Asia), Credit Suisse, DBS, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Ping An and UBS.
The FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific is modeled on a similar program that was co-founded by Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York City in 2010. The New York Lab's 24 alumni companies have raised almost $80 million in venture financing after participating in the program; one participant was acquired for $175 million. The Partnership Fund for New York City is the $110 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City (www.pfnyc.org). The Fund's mission is to engage NYC's business leaders to identify and support promising NYC-based entrepreneurs in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors to create jobs, spur new business and expand opportunities for New Yorkers to participate in the City's economy. In 2012, Accenture and a dozen major banks in London launched the FinTech Innovation Lab London, with support from the city's mayor and several government bodies. The majority of participants in London's inaugural program have gone on to sign deals with banks and collectively have raised $10 million in new financing since participating.
The 2014 FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific participants are:
Advanced Merchant Payments (AMP), with offices in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Singapore and the Philippines enables banks and other financial institutions to profitably offer short-term unsecured loans to under-served small businesses in both developed and emerging markets. By utilizing AMP's end-to-end solution, banks can address the credit gap that micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises face with an "alternative lending" offering that is complementary to existing product sets - while minimizing costs or development efforts. AMP's patented platform leverages principles from micro-finance, payment processing, data analytics and predictive modeling - together with more traditional loan underwriting principles - to originate and service loans across countries, currencies and banking systems with cost efficiency.
AtCipher.com addresses the security concerns that many organizations have regarding cost-saving cloud solutions. The Hong Kong-based company developed a security system for encrypted data storage and sharing, encrypted searches and encrypted email with security policy enforcements. AtCipher's applications perform client-side encryption so that data is encrypted before reaching the server so that the cloud provider is unable to access the customer's data, making it more secure.
Beijing Wecash Wonder Technology Co. Ltd. helps analyze Chinese customers' credit. Customers sign up for the app, provide information to the company and within 15 minutes, receive a credit evaluation. By mining public mobile data from roughly 600 million mobile internet users, Wecash is able to quickly provide extensive credit assessments and build predictive models for customers' credit risk.
FinSuite developed patented technology that aims to reduce the cost and time required to analyze business structures and financials on loan applications. The Melbourne-based company built two complementary solutions. One is an application that provides a mobile platform for capturing and presenting a structure of a group of entities and how they are related to each other. The other, known as the BizAnalyser application, uses an optical character recognition engine and a patent-pending parsing engine to read a PDF document containing financial statements, re-create the contents, categorize each line item and produce a set of reports on the company and its performance. FinSuite is already available in Australia and is seeking to expand its services in Asia-Pacific.
I Think Security Ltd. is a cyber-security lab that provides easy-to-use, highest-grade data protection solutions to prevent data leaks and corporate espionage. The Ontario-based company's main product, LOQ, is an information security and tracking service that is being used by financial institutions to secure information sharing with high-net-worth individuals. LOQ enables users to drive new revenues, reduce costs and achieve compliance. I Think Security Ltd. seeks to expand into Asia-Pacific.
iDGate has developed an identity authentication system for online and mobile transactions that does not require a one-time-password via Short Message Service (SMS) or security device. The Taipei-based company leverages a multi-factor authentication process to send a push notification on behalf of the financial institution whenever a financial transaction is initiated that allows users to authenticate it via their smartphones. The aim is to provide better security and an easier-to-use experience to everyday users and to save financial institutions money, since the service is less expensive than the cost of using a security device or sending multiple SMS.
Jocata Financial Advisory & Technology Services Private Ltd. provides sophisticated Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) software that not only meets regulatory expectations and reduces the cost of compliance but also aims to drive business growth by creating a high-quality, standardized and reusable data asset. The company's software can be implemented on-premise or hosted using a private cloud model. With offices in Hyderabad and Pune, India, and New York, the company is seeking to expand its footprint in Asia-Pacific.
QxBranch, based in Hong Kong; Adelaide, Australia; and Washington D.C., is developing software that will bring quantum computing to the mainstream. The startup has access to one of only two commercially available quantum computers and is commercializing products that harness the advantages of this breakthrough technology. Applications for the financial sector will include portfolio optimization, stock market analysis and risk modeling, with even more possibilities likely to emerge in the next five years as the technology base matures. QxBranch seeks to leverage the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific to develop relationships with top financial organizations and gain insight into the areas of business where quantum computing can be most effective.