This summer, we listed 30 Irish-founded, Irish-led and Ireland-based fintech start-ups as part of our Fintech Week coverage. - Elaine Burke
The response to this week of content told us – loudly – that fintech is a sector warranting more exploration, which has led us to Fintech Focus, a second week-long series of features concentrating on the confluence of finance and technology.
We’ll begin, once again, by highlighting the movers and shakers in this sector. From early-stage businesses with nascent ideas that scream potential, to high-potential start-ups in the process of scaling quickly, to international upstarts adding Irish offices to their growing networks, there’s no shortage of companies grasping Ireland’s fintech opportunity with both hands.
1. Chasing Returns
Currently competing for a €10,000 Adwords grant in the Google Adopt a Startup programme, Irish start-up Chasing Returns provides clients with clear visualisations of trading metrics, saving them time that would otherwise be spent poring over a spreadsheet in order to determine which products deliver the greatest returns.
CEO Ann Hunt is a fan of trading psychology and Chasing Returns uses the behavioural finance concepts popularised by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. The result is a professional-quality risk-management platform targeting non-professional retail traders.
This former Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week has gradually gained more and more recognition as 2015 wears on, including making an appearance on the Business & Finance Elevation 100 and being shortlisted for Best Innovation for Financial Services in the Irish Internet Association (IIA) Net Visionary Awards.
Deposify started with the idea that paying and holding rental deposits and resolving deposit-related disputes causes problems for landlords, tenants and letting agents. In an effort to bring trust back to the landlord-tenant relationship, Deposify holds the rental deposit on behalf of the landlord and tenant and, with its built-in resolution process, resolves disputes in weeks. Deposify also helps solve the compliance obligations on landlords and letting agents created by holding onto money from deposits.
3. Trade Flow
Those bored with the fintech hype have branched out to create a buzz around other more refined segments, such as regtech, the industry term for technology taking on the challenge of regulation in financial services. This is where TradeFlow firmly sits.
The NDRC-based start-up aims to drive down the costs experienced by banks and trading institutions as a result of delays in settling trades. In times of increased regulation and pressure to cut costs, TradeFlow’s solution entices clients with the promise of clarity and efficiency for trade processing and operations.
4. Penny Owl
Founded in 2012, PennyOwl’s eponymous product is a free iOS and Android app that helps parents to introduce their kids to financial responsibility. Devised by Irish entrepreneur Seamus Matthews, the app went live in the US this summer, offering families a safe and secure real-money environment where kids are encouraged to make smart decisions with their money and learn through action. It also gives parents full visibility of their child’s saving and spending activity.
PennyOwl was a selected participant in the Silicon Valley Bank and MasterCard Commerce Innovated Accelerator Program and raised $1.3m this summer in a seed funding round led by former Gamestop CEO Dick Fontaine.
5. Risk System
Anyone watching the scene closely will have spotted a trend in fintech start-ups dealing in risk and how to manage it. Dublin-headquartered start-up RiskSystem targets fund managers needing to conform with EU regulations. Integrating risk analysts, data analysts and proprietary analytics, the RiskSystem platform provides them with a comprehensive and cost-effective solution for all their risk management requirements.
6. Check Ventory Innovation
Dún Laoighaire-based CheckVentory Innovation was shortlisted as Best Start-up in this year’s IIA Net Visionary awards and so was marked as one to watch for 2016. Another player in the game of risk, CheckVentory was established to give credit managers of capital asset floor plans the tools to quickly, accurately and easily conduct frequent audits of inventory located across multiple sites.
The platform is designed to collate data from multiple auditors on multiple asset types in one location with a dashboard that allows for quick identification and verification of all funded capital assets under their control.
WeSavvy’s disruptive fintech ambition is to transform how insurance products are distributed by creating a new industry model with the customer at its heart. To do this, WeSavvy integrates with another growing tech sector, mobile health.
With the WeSavvy mobile app, insurance clients are encouraged to increase their wellbeing in order to drive down their insurance premiums with partners such as Aviva, Zurich, Allianz and Irish Life. Founder Hesus Inoma describes himself as a ‘finhealth evangelist’ and his experience comes from Irish and European insurance markets.
Former Start-up of the Week on Siliconrepublic.com, XtremePush is a graduate of the inaugural Fintech Innovation Lab Dublin, which took place earlier this year.
The software from co-founders Tommy Kearns and Dr Kevin Collins analyses in-app interactions to understand how the end user is interacting with the application. This in-app history can then be used to inform brands how to segment, target and automate engagement campaigns during the customer’s user journey with app notifications and in-app messaging.
In terms of finance, this kind of software can enable revenue-focused app makers to monetise after the download. For example, Leinster Rugby has deployed this in-app software to alert fans to the opportunity of seat upgrades through app notifications.
9. Who’s In? (Publicis)
Fintech offers such vast opportunities that many keen market observers are clamouring to chip in. Take the Dublin branch of international ad agency Publicis, for example, which is now incubating its very own fintech start-up, Who’s In?. This platform allows groups to make decisions and purchases together. Think of all the times you’ve had to coordinate group gifts and you’ll get the idea of how this platform can make life easy.
Who’s In? debuted at MoneyConf in Belfast this summer, and could well present a chance for an ad agency to pivot into a tech start-up. The Who’s In? team at Publicis are referred to as ‘intrapreneurs’, putting some of their own money into the concept with additional backing from the board. “We’re planning on taking it to the UK” says co-founder Ed Melvin. “There’s a long road ahead but we think we’ve something, and our creative skillset can deliver it.”
Award-winning website Bonkers.ie provides financial services for the consumer through its online price comparison and switching platform. With Bonkers.ie, users can compare costs and rates for digital TV, broadband, phone, credit cards, prepaid money cards, gas, electricity, personal loans, mortgages, savings accounts and current accounts from Irish suppliers. Founded in 2010, the site received accreditation from the Commission for Energy Regulation in 2012 as an impartial, accurate and independent supplier of energy price comparisons.
11. Future Finance
Students with little or no credit history can have difficulty getting finance from traditional institutions but, using its own proprietary algorithms and data from credit agencies, Future Finance factors university and course-specific data on continuation, employability and predicted first year earnings into its lending decisions.
The Dublin-headquartered student lender recently announced plans to double its workforce following its launch in the UK last year and, with its European expansion driving job creation, the young company has even gained support from IDA Ireland.
12. Fund Calcs
Dublin-based FundCalcs provides cloud-based software for the investment funds industry. Its Performance Fees application calculates and reports performance fee figures, replacing ad hoc spreadsheet processes with a comprehensive, automated oversight of all calculations. Supported by Enterprise Ireland as a high-potential start-up client, FundCalcs recently participated in the London-Irish Business Society’s first fintech mentoring programme for Irish start-ups.
13. Digital Trading
Serial tech entrepreneur Brendan Dowling leads Digital Trading as CEO. Digital Trading is a customer relationship management tool for financial services companies, which can integrate this service into payments systems to give their retailers the ability to engage customers in targeted and personalised communications, offers, payments etc. The service has just gone live in Ireland and Dowling assures potential customers that the company has invested solidly in a solution that complies with current and future data protection legislation.
Another former Start-up-the-Week and Fintech Innovation Lab Dublin alumnus, VideoBot is the company behind Vbot, an enterprise video platform to help businesses, brands and publishers create tailor-made video applications for mobile devices.
The Vbot platform provides users with full control on how video assets can be acquired, published, accessed and monetised. The value proposition for financial institutions is that this ‘YouTube for corporates’ platform could be used to sell complex financial services and products using video.
Selected for last year’s MasterCard accelerator, MoQom provides mobile identity and authentication management services to banks, the payment card industry and other organisations, leveraging mobile network data. Based in Dublin and with an additional office in London, MoQom has developed a suite of cloud-based fraud prevention products and services, which it has just begun rolling out in the UK. Its flagship product, ConfiDent, can provide two or three-factor authentication, using mobile networks and biometrics to verify customers’ identities. The plan now is to accelerate this development, growing the product suite and its international reach.
Identified as a high-potential start-up, ViClarity brings visibility and clarity to compliance monitoring via a platform where users can track and manage compliance in one system, produce reports and build checklists.
Founded in 2008 by Ogie Sheehy, the company saw quick growth in two key sectors: healthcare and financial services compliance. As well as Ireland, the company now has offices in London and Chicago, while it continues to grow its international client base.
Yet another former Start-up of the Week and Fintech Innovation Lab graduate, CityBcon provides SMEs with an iOS app offering a new mobile sales channel. The app allows retailers to reach their customers with targeted promotions and offers and to carry out transactions on smartphones, saving them the cost of building their own unique app. Unlocking the potential of a number of expanding technologies, CityBcon’s offering is built around five pillars: content, beacon detection, analytics, messaging and payment.
By now, fast-growing Irish technology company Sentenial has graduated from start-up to a full-fledged SME. Having capitalised on the switch to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), Sentenial has now spotted another opportunity and is launching into the payments market with Nuapay. This non-bank alternative for payment processing targets businesses that are either collecting direct debits for the first time or seeking a service to process payments at a better price.
The cloud-based Nuapay payment service efficiently manages direct debit and credit transfer payments with straightforward set-up and functionality meant to take away the delays and frustrations associated with banks. The newly launched service has already processed payments across 34 European countries.
19. ProSeeder Technologies
New York’s ProSeeder Technologies recently decided to set up its first European subsidiary office in Dublin, chiefly seeking developers.
This three-year-old company provides a technology platform for investment firms and networks to conduct their operations related to direct investment in private securities. The platform enables organisations to effectively manage deal flow processes, among other things.
From Dublin, the firm hopes to expand support to European clients and offer greater interaction with them as the business grows internationally.
20. Clarus Financial Technology
Founded in 2012, London-headquartered Clarus Financial Technology also has offices in Chicago, Zurich and, most recently, Belfast. Its newly opened R&D centre in the Northern Ireland capital is recruiting now for software engineers and business analysts to help power its data, analytics and research services.
Clarus Financial Technology operates in international capital markets with customers that include investment banks, hedge funds, regulators and brokers from the US, UK and Europe.