We have a winner in each of our categories! With two #5 seeds and two #10 seeds, only four companies remain. Your Fintech Four are:
Personal Finance: Prism
Too Cool to Categorize: Nav
Meet the Winners (+ some thoughts on each)
Earnest – Lending
Setting its sights on those younger borrowers that it says are “dramatically overcharged and mispriced by the credit system,” Earnest shuns traditional credit scoring by attempting to gauge a borrower’s ability to repay with a comprehensive view of their work history, finances and more. By connecting their financial accounts (bank, credit card, mortgage, etc.) to Earnest, the borrower is giving Earnest the ability to get a proper view of the default risk and in return the borrower saves on their student loans through lower cost refinancing.
Earnest’s growth and success in the tournament represent the wave of “alternative” risk management sweeping the lending industry. Companies have found that the way repayment risk is traditionally assessed is misaligned, and are taking steps to develop their own scoring models. Earnest is a great example of that approach at work. The real test for many of these companies will be how they withstand an economic downturn when it eventually occurs, and which models hold up under increase default pressures.
Yapstone – Payments
Paper check assassins Yapstone are out to kill paper check processing. With a host of electronic payment options, Yapstone looks to make accepting and processing electronic payments faster, cheaper and easier for a variety of companies in different industries, particularly apartment and vacation rentals, homeowner’s associations, self-storage, hospitality and non-profits.
Paper check use has experienced a precipitous decline in recent years, but it is still prevalent in specific segments, particularly for higher ticket items like rent. But that trend is changing rapidly, driven by demographic shifts (more Millennials out on their own) and advances in payment technology. Yapstone has been at the forefront of this change and ridden it to tremendous growth. The margins are thin in payments, so it will be interesting to see if Yapstone and others like them can maintain their edge amid increased commoditization of payments.
Prism – Personal Finance
Personal Finance apps are all the rage, as companies attempt to help consumers wrangle their financial lives. Prism offers a free, simple app that allows users to not only view and pay all of their bills, but to see them in context of their overall personal finances. Prism includes access to account balances, reminders and more to help users stay on top of their finances and simplify their regular money management.
The space for Personal Finance apps is crowded, but only because the opportunity is so large. With the ability to connect consumers with their various banks, credit cards, billers and lenders becoming easier via APIs and different web services, there is a drive to consolidate information and produce a more informed user. At the same time, this consolidation leads to many opportunities for companies like Prism in data, payments, additional financial services and more. However, recent research suggests that just consolidating information is not enough to engender customer loyalty, so Prism and others like them are looking for ways to allow users to take a more active role in different money management activities.
Nav – Too Cool to Categorize
With the resources available online, there has likely never been a better time to start a business. As you’ll hear ad nauseum from any politician, small businesses form the backbone of this country. However, small businesses are also failing at an exceptionally high rate. Nav’s goal is to reduce the death rate of small businesses by offering advice, tips, and financial products (particularly business financing options), starting with Nav’s business credit score product.
There are a tremendous number of small businesses in the US, many of which need help. By first helping these businesses to understand the process and then introducing them to credit and financing products that can help, Nav can play a crucial role in getting many business over gaps and through tough times. However, small businesses are notoriously hard to reach and engage, and there is a lot of competition in the space. But uncertain economic conditions made shakier by the crazy political environment leading up to the election may just help increase the value of the services that Nav provides.
On the Road to a New Champion
That’s our take on the fantastic Fintech Four lineup. Cast your vote for your favorites today and see who advances to the Championship! This round concludes on March 31st at 8:00 PM EST. Go here to vote now: www.FintechMoneyMadness.com